White Out, a Novel

From the online diary of Mr K, inhabitant of the snowbound city of W.

Day 1.15. As the snowdrifts begin to build, making it impossible to go about to Superfresh or Starbuck’s or Pain Quotidien or any other of the city W’s cherished Spring Valley locations, as it mounts just beyond the door, making it impossible even to go out, a slow sense of helplessness and frustration begins to build.  Good, dark Michel Cluizel chocolate helps calm the gnawing anxieties that we will never get out, we will never see the sun again, never get beyond the snowbanks – but the supply, which seemed adequate only yesterday, is now dwindling at an alarming rate.

Day 1.17. Whence this terrible stifled feeling?  The feeling that if I cannot get out, I shall go … go mad!  I have read of this grim phenomenon, cabin fever.  I believe I have it.  Of course, we should not be surprised; after two or three hours cooped up in the house, who would not be in my condition?  Beloved wife and adorable daughter look on with concern.  I pace and pace.  Shall there be no respite from the weather?

Day 2.6.  I pick up my cello and endlessly play the Ricercars of Domenico Gabrielli.  Only a Renaissance Italian can soothe me.  Beloved wife and adorable daughter are mute with horror, particularly upon the many bad notes on Ricercars 3, 5, and 7, which I don’t know very well and play horribly out of tune.  I feel deeply for them.

Day 3.0.  I awaken to a brief weather report from a station that is signing off in the storm, wishing its listeners good luck and God bless.  More snow on the way.

Day 5.0.  I have finished the collected works of Richard Posner.  I itch with the strange inactivity of it all.  Is that all he has written?  That’s it?  My head thrums with his conversion to Keynes.  Apparently nothing is certain in this world, not even Chicago Law & Economics; we are like dust in the wind.  Nothing can be seen beyond in our windows save for white drifts and gently falling snow.  We are reduced to tins of octopus in olive oil on crackers.  I chew gently on the cephalopod and wonder if this was one of the octopuses that dragged around coconut shells in a sign of non-mammal intelligence and tool-use.  Funny, when I think of tools these days, I somehow think of axes and hatchets, not coconut shells.

Day 6.4.  My Kindle!  My very, very strange Kindle!  It has mysteriously and unbidden delivered me a book by Stephen King.  Listed at 9.99 in the Kindle edition, and yet no charge showed up on my Amazon account – and shortly thereafter, the price shot up to 89.99, with an odd note saying if I wanted to know why this might be so, ask Virginia Postrel.

Day 7.67.  I cannot help myself, I am drawn into The Shining on my Kindle.  Everything about it seems … so true!  So real!  Snowbound until the end of the semester!  I have never seen myself so clearly before or the world around me.

Day 8.9.  My beloved wife pleads with me to give up the Kindle.  Never!  Never!  It is filled with strange and peculiar graphics that are not the usual portraits of artists and writers.  I know not from whence.  Only that they bid me, they bid me …

Day 9.5. I have prayed to St. Jobs for relief, but the words ominously drew themselves in the grayscale monochrome of the e-ink … “It’s a Kindle, chump, not the IPad.”  Then I know all is lost, I cannot save myself – or them!  The messages on the Kindle, so compelling, so seductive, they insinuate themselves into my brain, and they cannot be resisted.

DayJack’s back!