by John Paczkowski


They took away all my maps.

“Well, I guess you better be on your way,” they said. “We’re told you’re in quite a hurry.”

All my maps were taken from me and from my sack as well so that there no longer any maps that I have or that I kept store in my sack. I could not make my way or that way that was my way. They had my maps and I was no longer able to make my way or going.

Before, when I had my maps, I had been able to intend to go to places and often I had gotten to them. I looked at my map and found a place that was on it and I started going to where it was really. Sometimes I would get there and I would look at my map and realize that it was not that place but another–the wrong place. But I would pretend that it was that place and not the place I was in and behave as if I was in the right place–that place. I would stalk about their courtyard and speak and display the peen of my head in the way of the folk of the right place even though I was not in their place.

All this time I had my maps and sometimes later I would search their contours and modalities and try to regain the current of the right place by charting its absence.

I would piece together the shank and curry of the hellespont and assemble the route that led to that place.  Then I would start to go there, high-stepping a path across the carping and filament. I chose my cartographer to suit the terrain and then made my trail across the sinew and dirt in the way of that cartographer.

Sometimes, I was able to get to the right place and then i would not have to pretend anymore that it was the place that I had originally chosen, the right place, because it was already that and there was no longer the need for sphragistics or oddment in the wrong courtyards.

Other times, my cartographer was a fucker and there was that need.

“I best be going,” I said.

“Yes, of course,” they said. “On your way then. Safe travels.”

But they had my maps. Odd that the did not seem to know that, especially when they had taken them. There was no longer about them the suggestion or awareness of any taken thing.

Bastards acted as if they hadn’t taken anything.

I wanted to ask for my maps to be given to me so that i could again have them and again make my way to where a place might be really when it was at once upon a map and as well in a different area large enough to walk through. I knew that they were not planning on going anywhere, not even any of the place that might be on my maps and so there was no need for them to have my maps being that they did not look like they were planning on going to any other place, but that they were content in that place and intended to remain there.

But after they took my maps, they began to act as if they no longer had them.

Later, they started acting like they hadn’t even taken them. And after a while they began to act as if there might not be any such thing as a map.

Soon, I began to think that if I asked from my maps–to have them back–they would not even feign having misplaced them in a wrong box because they acted so well like there no longer any such thing as a map and that perhaps it was foolish to presume that there ever had been such a thing.

“The quickest route to a place is usually the shortest or sometimes the straightest line between two points, one point being the the point at which the route is begun and the other the one which describes its interior.” They said this.

“I really should be going,” I said.

They still had my maps. And without them, I would walk badly.  There would no longer be the muddy bastinado or the sprole and feck. How could I ever hope to align the shanks and curries of the map-path to form an accessible way of going if there was no map-path in the first place. There would be no way of matching up the bulkheads, the pathsteps of my walking with those outlined by my maps so I could go.

With my maps I could only go to certain place and sometimes I went to them wrongly or I walked badly. But now I had no maps and I couldn’t go at all.

This whole time they had my maps. Perhaps for a time they had been covering them and when they saw me going to a place and how I perused my maps and chose a place and then made my way to that place as it was when it was no longer on the map but around me and beneath my trotters. Perhaps they say that this was a good way of going to a place and they thought of how it would be to take my maps so that they would have them and I would not longer have those places for going to.

So I told them all of this.

But during my talking they said–and with some certainty, too–that I had had my maps all this time since I was the only person who knew the sort of thing that a map is.

Which could have been true.

Certainly, I had no trouble telling them what a map is even though I obviously no longer had a map to display and demonstrate with to show them the thing that a map is when you have one to show and ravel.

Contour maps, when available are by far the most valuable for pathsighting or going to a place, showing as they do canyons, valleys and mous places others have been to and other such geographical features that might be on a map in terms of hollowness or texture. Consulting such a map in an unforeseen place can save a walker and exhausting amount of unnecessary scaling, digging and then climbing again.

There is also the compass. But it is for pussies and–at best–a bad way of going to a place.

Maps are the best method for going to where a place is really. Without them a place is better left unwalked.

Really, one cannot make a proper way of going without a map. A man who has in his possession all the maps or, better still, a comprehensive atlas or spinning globe can go anywhere. He can pass through one locale on his way to another and in this manner walk through many possible places before he arrives at his original destination; he can go to one place by way of many other places. In other words, he does not have to choose only the one place and the go only to that one place.

Good maps are in general extraordinarily difficult to find. Even the smaller maps distributed free by gas stations which give enough of a way of going to enable someone to go to a place are hard to find because of bastard attendants unwilling to part with them.

Anyway, I told them all of this so that they would no longer be able to say that they had never heard of such the kind of thing that was what I told them was a map.

“So it is a growth on the forehead or an unseen appendage,” they asked.

“No, not a growth,” I replied.

Then I said: “You don’t seem to understand.”

“Then it is a wife, but one that is preferable to similar wives because of an additional attachment or its special portable nature?”

“This is not at all the type of thing that a map is,” I said. “A map is the best kind of thing for making an intelligent way of going to a place. Having a map is always sound procedure for it helps a way-maker think more surely what sort of path to step and where to head if someone first offers something to you and then claims to have suddenly given it to someone else or to have never had such a thing in the first place.”

“Travel in the absence of a map can never bee considered safe inasmuch as when a well wrought map is had certain treacherous ways of going remain open and other portions are skinned so taut they can scarcely support their own weight.”

“Anyone not knowing any better might step on an apparently stable map and sink through it as though it were a watergap. The suddenness with which this can happen might be better appreciated if I tell you that even the most trusted of maps can unravel into long vertical lancets and that among these a finger or a slender length of pork can be driven all the way through in a single jab…. But I digress. A good map is the most trusted or rudder arrangements when a person is making their way to a place.”

All through my talking, I could see the fullness of their pockets and how they were stretch taut around my maps.

“So it is not the sort of thing which idioglossia could be considered to be, or any other sort of thing which might be emptied into an animals body were one to have reason to do so?”

“No. It’s not that sort of thing at all.” Through the cloth of their clothing, I could see the colors of my maps coming through where the clothing was not of a certain thickness and could be seen through.

“What is your explanation of it then, this kind of thing that is the kind of a thing that is a map if it is not a Papoulias or engastration or what engastration might be if it were done with horses instead of two birds?”

All this time I am thinking this: A person with a map prefers his own happiness to that of all other persons who do not have maps or have maps that are not good ones, but poor ones or ones of a mediocre sort.

“Let me say this about maps and the sort of thing that a map is,” I said. “A map is one species of good and not, as a person would think, a sort of thing that is distinct from good. A map is whatever proves itself to be good in the way that maps are good and good, too, for the certain assignable reasons that a map is good.”

“Ah! So it is a hinny or the sort of person who bears the packs and belongings of another person upon his back and if it is not this, then surely it must be something concealed in a ranarium, and if not that, then you will certainly concede that it is a guttler or the kind of person who would guttle if given the chance and privacy to do it.”

“It is not a hinny and not a shirpa,” I said. “ It is not any sort of thing that is concealed in a ranarium and it is not to guttle. A map is a stylization of walking.”

“It is endophasia, then, or that manner of speaking when the mouth flexes, but no talking is head?”

“It is not that at all,” I said. The I said: “Listen: Non-map then existed not nor map. A map is neither what is a map nor what is not a map; only map is no-map or some-map.”

I am thinking all this time: it is time spent in a single position that frees the body or movement.

“Stop speaking in arguments,” they said. “Here are your maps.”

Then they divide my maps into two piles.

“You have asked us again and again for your maps and now we have given them to you in two piles–the two piles you see before you. Have at it.”

“Those are my maps,” I said. “But they are in two piles.”

“Yes, two piles.”

“But there are two piles,” I said. “Two.

“Yes, there are two. And each is a pile of the kind of thing which you told us is what a map is.”

“When I told you the kind of thing that is what a map is there was only one Goddamn pile. Now there are two.”

“Where there was one before, there are two. Yes.”

I said: “You don’t understand. There are the two piles.”

They said: “Yes.”

Now there are my maps, but there is also now always the questions “which is it to be?” and “there are two equivalent piles; how will you choose.”

Always the two piles. Always the two questions.

Two, only. And here I am equidistant from both with no basis for choosing one over the other.

Quiescence precipitates every form towards its ruin, I thought.