I love white noise. Or at least I used to. It kept the demons away, prevented me from hearing my muse laugh and mock me. People tell me their muse comforts them, helps them through the tough patches, gently caressing their brows and whispering words of comfort and solace like the apparition in the painting by Albert Maignan.
I hope they are lying, I hope theirs is like mine, like something from a William Blake painting, crafted from the ghosts of undeveloped characters past, the pain of forgotten books: bitter and spiteful. Gathering energy from my pain, she sits at the end of the precipice, drinking the ancient wine and laughs at me.
So, I would turn on my radio, and old Emerson portable radio, with its missing antenna and tune into soft and clear nothing and type. But now, the damnable bitch has become one with the aether and all that is on the radio—even when I want to listen to the Cardinals baseball game—is static, all up and down the dial. And that would be fine, I could live without the game, but softly, through the static, randomly, I hear the voice of her, embedded in and part of the noise, whisper softly, almost imperceptibly, one name. “Carol.” My ex-wife, well, one of my ex-wives, but the one who, on her way to the looney-bin, held my hand and told me she loved me and that everything would have been fine if only I had tasted the bitter wine with her, the wine I prepared for her.
My muse sounds like Carol, her pacing and word choice, her sneering and condescending tone fingernails across the blackboard.
Of course, my friends listen and tell me I am wrong, that there is no voice in the noise, that it is flat and without texture. I think they are lying. Like they lie about their muses. Or they are all insane, like Carol—I am the last sane human on earth. That is the most reasonable solution, any other way—no. But Carol hears music, not the noise.
The bitter wine is in the glass on the table in front of me. Its dark-amber liquid, like some ancient Chateau d’Yquem, almost glows, filled with bitterness and madness. I hold it, looking through it, seeing tendrils of herbal oils dance in the light.
It’s the world that’s mad.
Carol drank and was changed. She cannot hear the noise. She hears Chopin and Bach, the voices of God, and she calls me through the static to join her, to leave the madness behind, to be free in a room with white padded walls.
She is free and she loves me. I know this because my muse sits on the precipice and calls her name through the radio. The wine warms and fills the air with the scent of plastic melting and the tendrils of oils slither in the glass.
She calls to me again, through the aether. I’m coming, Carol, home.