by Justus Honda
What if, sometime when you’re off-guard, when you’re walking with the purpose of doing
whatever it is you do, a peculiar ringing, something, a sound of some sort, emanates from
somewhere and floats through your head with your ears as doorways and in a second is gone?
And if you think nothing of it, later as the sun sets or rises or turns on, blazing warmth, or
whatever it does where you come from, you think of that sound you heard or witnessed before,
and you can’t replicate it in your mind’s ears with even the most powerful of your efforts,
and you know you must hear it again, so you wade through the auditory whirlpool of your
surroundings and individually test each ambient click from every corner and recess of the world
but find your search fruitless, and so unearth every object in your household and strike it pluck it
ring it cause it to make its natural sound.
But if no amount of attempts produce that elusive eerie ringing you once, maybe, might have
heard, then you may begin to accumulate objects, pots pans or any and all forms metal takes in
your world, making of each every combination of sound systematically, in a sort of auditory
alchemy, and thus your home may become cluttered with tiny and large singing things, an
orchestra of objects, perhaps, until every room and surface and cranny is occupied, and so you
must spread them out upon the sidewalk, crashing together each, taking each and attempting and
hoping to achieve that elusive sound. And though the ringings you create are not your ringing,
they are the ringings of other people, and they return to hear them each day, gather. And the
people they might call you the sound man.
And the children, maybe they stop by on their way to their tasks and toss you a fork or a needle
or a piece of sheet metal, copper steel silver brass gold, and smile and scurry off. Maybe
each time you take the new item of the sidewalk arsenal and hit the floor your skull the other
numerous bits of metal-ware, because you have been chosen to produce this one sound, that
sound you experienced, maybe, before, but no ringing of any of the objects creates the ringing,
that ringing you heard that one day,
And as you age the people they talk after gathering, they speak of the sound man and his
percussive obsession, his need to create what he calls the ringing, and far into your decline (your
nineties, maybe, or whatever old is wherever you are), they seem to all be telling you that you
will never hear the ringing you seek, and you never believe them until one day when you start
to think that maybe, just maybe, they are right, or, worse, maybe you wouldn’t recognize the
ringing if you heard it, or, worst of all, maybe, just maybe, you never heard the ringing at all—
If so, enraged, you’d heft a steel pot and throw it screaming at the sidewalk where it would crash
horribly, dent bounce scratch and skid on the pavement, and weeping you’d scatter your years of
accumulated metalwork and bend them and shatter them to shrapnel, and then collapse into the
wreckage of your world sobbing.
But maybe as you cry a little girl might approach and she might hold out to you a tiny silver
spoon (or any object or utensil created for someone small), and you’d hesitate, then take it and
flick it and hold it to your ear. And as you listen, what if you were to realize that this is the
ringing, and that you have been hearing it all your life?