Scene from a Box

I glance down at the box under the table—my box of words—damp and damaged words, words that have been picked at like old sores until the blood runs. Here I have captured the sights, the sounds, and the smells of fear—a place where I can push the players without ever touching them and leave them where I will. All of the characters and actions are controlled strictly by whim and fate. They make no decisions on their own. There is no ending in the name of “redemption.”

After many years of practice, I have learned to write with my left hand. At first, the going was painfully slow—cramps in my hand making it impossible to continue. Now, I have accumulated a box of notebooks covered with dream images. I have become God within the borders of my paper world.

Just to be moving, I get to my feet, walk over to the sink, and throw up. I turn on the faucet and splash a handful of water across my face. A sudden sense of dread crawls along my spine. I let my left hand drop to the .45 strapped to my leg. I look toward the front door. The bolt is locked. I am safe. I turn off the water, walk back to the table, and sit down. I take a new notebook from the stack on the floor and select a pen from the many scattered across the tabletop. I begin to write:

The Play… is a never-ending performance made of watching and waiting. A solitary actor stealing sidelong glances into the wings, hoping to be fed the next line. Praying another player will walk on—someone who recalls the plot.

The beginning showed promise, but now the story has ground to a halt.

The leading man stares at his feet, too bewildered to move. Where is he in this thing? The opening? The middle? The end? The stage has shriveled to a tiny box. The possibility of enlightenment has turned into an image of despair.

Are there no illuminating truths to be revealed?

The abandoned actor stares like a fortune-teller into his sweaty palms—wrinkled lines of a maze—all broken dead ends.




DB Cox graduated from high school in 1966 and joined the Marines Corps right after the Vietnam TET Offensive in 1968. After being discharged in 1972, he spent several years playing guitar in bars, juke joints, and honky tonks across the South. In 1977, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts to attend the Berklee School of Music where he discovered a thriving blues scene. After thirty years of playing the music he loves with some great bands, he moved back to South Carolina where he writes and plays in a blues-rock band called "PC Red & Almost Blue." DB recommends the Best Friends Animal Society.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, August 27, 2020 - 23:17