Inspiration’s Well

Kevin Tosca

Jamie Jones didn’t know what he was, willful or weak, free or slave, but he knew he couldn’t flatulate in public places, couldn’t urinate next to other men, couldn’t tell the middle-aged peacock women he served carcasses and martinis to go fuck themselves even when they made him hurt, and they always made him hurt, and the hurt wasn’t like the hurt of those physical and mental blockages, either, but the inside kind of hurt, the kind of hurt that hurts in those un-locatable places where it always hurts the most.

The inspirations were always there, however, the thoughts about doing other somethings, acting otherly, striking off down the other paths. These equaled the life moments to seize or to shun but what did Jamie Jones do with these inspirations? Jamie Jones did nothing with these inspirations.

He thought though, and he felt shame. He thought often about his do-nothingness and he burned with shame.

What he wanted was freedom. He wanted to be free. He wanted to be a free man who could do those bodily things and more, much more, those things being, he knew, vulgar things.

One day, after a particularly horrid lunch shift doused with plenty of thinking and hot shame, and after he had ordered and consumed a particularly good triple Americano at Marino’s, his favorite café, he was driving east along I-84 when a sad song came on the radio from when he was a sad teenager, a tragic song he had loved when he had first discovered the tragedy of love, and the mountains off in the Washington distance looked amazing, looked so green and high and triumphant, looked so much greener and higher and more triumphant than usual, and he wanted to yell merde at the top of his lungs and he did it. Just like that. Just like that he did it and it felt so good in his lungs and in his brain and he felt so strong and right and peaceful afterwards that he did it five more times and he only thought, just the tiniest bit, about how silly he must have looked to the other drivers. He only wondered for the quickest of quickly passing seconds if they could hear him and how mortifying that would be if they could.

Hmm, he thought, as he shed work clothes onto his apartment’s floor. That was interesting.

By yelling the French word for shit as loud as he could on an otherwise unremarkable Wednesday afternoon he realized he hadn’t, for once, killed the moment, the thought, the inspiration, with words or interpretive, analytical nonsense. He hadn’t let the passage of time stomp his inspiration out of existence, hadn’t let it, his inspiration, be ground into the endlessly tramped sidewalk of do-nothingness.

That night a phrase came to him. One phrase came to him and kept on coming to him in that inexplicable way the words and the phrases always come to a man. It stuck, this phrase. This phrase came to him and it stuck to him and, one could say, it haunted him.

It was, yes, another inspiration, and Jamie now wondered if this was how inspiration worked, if, once having given yourself up to one inspiration, no matter how juvenile or absurd, the others would just burst on through.

He could make sense of the words of this new inspiration, the sentiment therein, but he rarely used them, absolutely never assembled them in this way when he did. It was, furthermore, vulgar, even more vulgar than his first shouted and inspired word had been. And though he did want to tell the middle-aged peacock ladies to do lots of vulgar things with their vulgar rear ends he believed vulgarity a cheap and cowardly form of expression, one he wanted to rid from his spoken repertoire. But wanting, in his usual ways of doing things, involved much mental to and fro, much deliberation, much list making and much death of inspiration.

The phrase in question, the vulgar phrase rifling through and picking at Jamie’s brain was this: Shit on you you cocksucking baboons.

There was something subversive `50s about it, something Beckett might have scribbled down in a notebook and later sold to collectors, something that appealed to Jamie from head to toe. It pleased him, the him him, so he gave himself up to it and became the phrase’s puppet, as it were, using it in every interaction with strangers that followed. It was all he could say. It was all he wanted to say.

At New Seasons, to the warm-hearted cashier after the receipt and groceries had been handed to him: Shit on you you cocksucking baboons.

At 7-Eleven, to another cashier after picking up a Kombucha Tea and a candy bar: Shit on you you cocksucking baboons.

In the library, with a stack of foreign films next to his armpit: Shit on you you cocksucking baboons.

In the restrooms of Hawthorne restaurants and bars (urinating freely next to whomever!): Shit on you you cocksucking baboons.

In the waiting room of his hairstylist, his dentist, his doctor: Shit on you you cocksucking baboons.

When a telemarketer, when anyone, called: Shit on you you cocksucking baboons.

He said it everywhere and everytime to everyone. Yes, he got fired the first day he used the phrase at Enoki, the restaurant where he worked (the word combination does not scream, does not even whisper, customer service), but there was compassion in Cindy’s eyes when she did the firing, and Jamie consoled himself by imagining how creative the inspiration followers of this world needed to get with their employment options anyway.

He continued to speak and he continued to use the plural, baboons, always, and he always said it so matter-of-factly, so earnestly, that not once did someone ever again take offense. Plenty of funny looks, sure, but those looks were never the angry kind. Rather, they were the loveful, hopeful kind of looks, the kind of looks closer to love and hope. Yes, love plus hope. Longing!

It occurred to Jamie in an instant, just as the phrase had come to him instantaneously, that this was to be his calling. It was a strange calling, true, but all callings, by definition, probably were a tad cracked.

He would have liked to have known the mechanics and the rules of this new inspiration business, but there were no manuals and no managers to weigh you down with them. This, too, was probably a good thing. What he had learned was that the flood of inspiration had not come as he thought it might, nor had this particular inspiration run its course as merde had, so he told himself he needed to open himself up wide and profit fully. It could be a long, long while before inspiration number three.

He would wait, but in the meantime he would act.

Shit on you you cocksucking baboons.

He didn’t know if he were one hundred percent free but the world felt like a better place.

Shit on you you cocksucking baboons.

He still thought, but the shame was almost gone.

Shit on you you cocksucking baboons.

The important thing was that he was needed in this world.

Shit on you you cocksucking baboons.

He imagined the universe, and all its mysterious laws, smiling.

KEVIN TOSCA’s stories have been recently published in Midwestern Gothic, The MacGuffin, Thin Air, The Linnet’s Wings, The Legendary and elsewhere. He lives in Europe. Read more at

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