Scrolls is a new 'experimental' collaboration in progress by James C. Hopkins and Yoko Danno. One of us writes the first half of a sentence and the other follows up the rest of the sentence. The latter begins the next sentence and drops it halfway, which is taken over by the former. Writing thus in turn we draw 'picture scrolls' with words. There is no rule except that a scroll should consist of five paragraphs. When we start a scroll we never know how it will develop and end. We have set out for adventures in an unknown land without a map or a compass.


♠  Scroll 29


In spite of myself I am here again, at the window, watching lightning stab at the dark city and waiting for the phone to ring. In the lit window of the hotel across the way is a silhouette of a woman peeping through the curtains to see what is happening in the street. A minute ago I certainly heard, mingled with the rumble of thunder, a scream as if someone were being attacked. There were several figures silhouetted in several windows, but the street was empty and strangely silent.

I felt, however, as if we were in for a storm, or trouble of a different sort. The wind began to pick up outside, and the tops of trees stirred. In no time blackbirds one after another began to drop from the sky, with horrible-sounding thuds on the rooftops. There's a certain kind of panic that creeps up the back of the neck, but I tried to calm myself. Logically thinking, the dropping of birds from the sky means that there was a tornado in the vicinity but one can never be certain.

The end will come in a way that no one expects, certainly not me, and unsurprisingly, I have no idea where I'm bound for, except I feel as if I were involved in an inescapable scheme. As if I stepped into a spiral galaxy of shadows, lipstick & falling birds. Now when someone asks my age, I simply tell them I am two hundred and seventy-five years old today, and shall be eighteen tomorrow. I expect piles of adventures to meet with as soon as I can bring myself to walk across the street.

Down at the furthest end of the wet streets I see a dark figure approaching toward my window. It looks as if gliding inches above the street, but soon it becomes clear that he is riding a skateboard—swooshing back and forth in great arcs, like a bird looking for a place to land. He stops in front of my house and the silhouette in the window across the street opens the window and calls out, "Wait, please, my dear!" When she comes down onto the street with her skateboard under her arms, he seems to have gone, returned into the wet night.

The woman stood alone at the curb for several minutes, looking up at the birdless sky, where even stars were dispersed. I left my room and went downstairs and stood in the dark of the living room, watching the woman standing on the curb across the street. After a few minutes, she started skateboarding, as if to follow her own karma. She no longer seems to be concerned about the fallen birds or the receding figure, or the phone that had begun ringing inside her room. I stood there in the living room for what seemed like an eternity, listening to the distant thunder, then put down the receiver.

(Photo by James Hopkins: Jurmala, Latvia.