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Play the hand as dealt. Not the hand as assumed. It’s the slowest and most painful sort of suicide to waste your energies yearning for miracles to stike in the area outside your control while neglecting the opportunities to investigate your own resources. To learn some new moves. To focus. Don’t bemoan the absence of what may only happen by accident, by dumb chance. That’s simply fucking stupid. And don’t resort to affected bitterness. That’s sour grapes. Pursue vengence. Conquer. Resign. Anyroute: Shut the fuck up about what might’ve been. Your crybaby bullshit causes the bulk of your illusory problems.
Turned my umbrella upside-down and started collecting rain. Laid a monsoon on you motherfuckers, left you drowning in a world of pain. Lightning struck my palace, I harnessed the power. Souped up a minute ‘til it looked more like an hour. Stuck a fork in a socket, had electricity for dinner. Turned my cub scout den mother into a spread-eagled sex sinner. Laced up my Caterpillars to kick another psychic vampire ‘cross the block. Showed up at my job. The bossman damn near croaked from the shock. Turned 10 to 11 and 100 back into 10. Started over again. Motherfuckers.
The Purple Oversleeper gets up and out of the basement for maybe 7 hours a day. When he’s awake he’d most often rather be asleep, but he enjoys his life, sometimes. They have free instant coffee and cable upstairs. He looks forward to dozing off again. In the basement. Watching the nightlight glow. Letting that goddamn tungsten filament do the work. Reading himself to sleep, if he doesn’t drift off automatically. That’s rare. Deprived of his rituals, that is, unable to find any inspiration or strength therein, he accepts the consolation prize of routine. With its residual comforts. Easy life.
THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOME. It would be easier, perhaps, to clasp my hands behind my back and avert my eyes from the exits. To banish all thoughts of suicide, and refuse to associate with the unhappy and unlucky souls that consider it an option. Steady cognizance of death might grease the wheels, but understanding that it is, to an extent, within my control, adds anxiety I can ill afford. But can’t tune out. So I proceed into the mist. I sustain myself out of habit on the days when ego won’t quite serve. I inhale and exhale, slowly.
She’s a cook at her mother’s failing Manhattan eatery, nursing a crush on a solipsistic asshole in a high-level position in a growing chain in a swanker section. Thanks (presumably) to a benevolent, magical crab, her cooking gains the power to directly communicate her volitale emotions. When the asshole dines at her place, he’s swept into her world. Which he resents. When her reputation lands her a gig at the asshole’s classy chain, her grandiose hurt makes her meals that much more powerful. The ever-present crab moves its eyes back and forth, kit kat clock style, to indicate supernatural doings.
Danny couldn't seem to shut his yap when the time was right. Or control his often offensive and alienating babble. He never let fly the sort of shit that got him an asskicking. Just the sort that caused acquaintences to distance themselves from the man, in a way that he noticed but never quite understood. But all was well at the Boggle tourney, even as the ceiling rotted away and the kids dreamed nebulous, substance-free dreams of romantic escape. I shoved my hands in my pockets and passed Danny unrecognized. I stopped in for a cup of joe. Clocks stopped.
Caroline was the 1 in 10 that survives a dry dive from 6 stories. Whatever she’d have to say about it, if she wasn’t permanently sealed off from the world through brain damage, isn’t for us to know, I suppose. Daddy told her everything for about the first 18 months, but doesn’t say much to her now. If she could hear him, she’d probably be too bitter to respond without injuring his feelings. Daddy knows he sure as fuck would be. So he saves up his bubbling bile for his younger daughter, each odd weekend, usually spent at the laundromat.
Her bouncy movement was the perfect collaboration of flesh and muscle. Her strong, soccer-toned legs turned golden brown the first week of spring. She laughed playfully, innocently, often. And she had a genuinely sunshiny disposition, for which he failed to tender her due respect. At that stage. For the same reasons he wouldn’t dare ask her out, but opted to safely fantasize about fucking her, brutally, at least as much as her stacked body could take, which he figured was plenty. He drove her home with the Quiet Storm playing, and, natch, never fucked her. It was for the best.
“Do you have the time?” Ms. Muldor asked the iceman. “No,” he replied, “nor the inclination.” “Oh, beat me, BEAT ME!” panted the soft, vuluptous, masochistic Marilyn Monroe wannabe. “No!” replied the burly sadist, in his best James Hetfield bellow. A few counties away, a teenaged girl on lots and lots of medication saw a basketball light up and, aglow, bounce three feet in the air, completely of its own volition. It didn’t seem odd at all. Not like the upside-down waterfalls, which pissed Luke off (as they seemed a tad gimmicky) until he got the drop on the bop.
It’s a collaboration. Necessitating cooperation from two intense, passionate, anger-driven individuals. The sort of collaboration that fuels great EXCITEMENT. Great spectacle. Great art. But takes its toll on the parties actually INVOLVED. ‘Twould grease the wheels, perhaps, if both collaborators could take a while to COOL OUT. Both at the same time. On the same clock. Doesn’t always fall that way. Things would hold together, maybe, if they could both RESTART, with none of the bullshit pretense or beads drawn through ages of hateful scrutiny. Maybe that would ruin it. Maybe it would all wear down again. Slowly. Same weaknesses.
Janet wakes from another anxious dream, wherein she’s expected to meet obligations she simply cannot. Although she never actually fails to meet said obligations, she knows terrible suffering and isolation are waiting to engulph her when she inevitably does. She wakes up. Relieved, at first, reprieved from her dream punishment. Then she gets nervous, as she’s not yet sure what the general vibe of the Waking World will be today. She hits the shower, the coffee already percolating. The windows go from a rich navy to a resigned Tarheel blue. Janet’s never seen the night go black. Just dark blue.
INGREDIENTS: key lime, pork chop, BBQ, potato mash, sour mash, glass of red, tomato, bread crumbs, coffee grounds, teaspoon of table salt, tablespoon of fresh cut grass, cut flowers, water, tapwater, ice water, no stick chewing gum, tartar sauce, ice cream, bread sticks, cauliflower, sea green, lemon wedge, orange wedge, soup, salad, christmas paper, fish, shrimp, crinkle cut fries, hash, goodness, too little too late, petrol. Mix thoroughly. Put the lemon wedge and the lime wedge in a coconut (served separately) and screen your calls. Keep your evenings free. You’re going to need them. Serves 6 or 7. Tastes delicious.
I have my share of beef with this species. But I ain’t no fascist. A fascist sees surplus population, I see wasted potential. Of course, that still makes me a frustrated soul. You: Crybabies, shiftless good-for-nothings, opportunists, swindlers, assholes, all of you filing for forbearance on your end of the social contract. You’re the reasons we, as a species, aren’t particularly trustworthy. You make a mockery of my right to self-governance, and I wouldn’t mind seeing you all shackled to the COMMON GOOD. That’s my brand of fascism: All ASSHOLES, move quietly to the back of the bus. Wipe thyself.
There were days on which my thoughts were governed by a nameless anxiety that would not yet give interviews. Days when death felt close at hand, when the sickness in the air kept me suffocating myself. Hours spent in the water, washing away the melancholic film. There were moments spent over rectangular, industrial-grade cafeteria pizza, days on which I knew I was nothing noteworthy. Then there were the BAD days, days blanketed in thick, itchy boredom. The air was so thin I couldn’t draw a breath even when I wanted one. Days that tickled my straitjacketed form with a feather.
Your disregard for the most perfunctory courtesy and simplest obligation. Your lack of perspective. Your astounding inability to reflect. They WILL return to fuck you. Those you’ve wronged WILL retaliate. And I hope you haven’t got plans, ‘cause it’s going to be a long weekend. Sooner than later, survival will depend on your ability to modulate yourself. Maybe you’ll find yourself submerged in a fantasy world. But you’d better learn to LISTEN and BEHAVE. And you sure as shit better start teaching your screaming, sniffling kids. Ethics will replace law. You’ll need them if you plan to live large, amigo.
Two yankees with voices like rusty electric razors manned the flea market table across from ours. “Everything on this table’s a dollah,” the older one said maybe 200 times. “Just tryin’ to help the economy.” The younger, quieter man sported an Old Glory bandana. He occasionally lost his cool and threw one of the team’s items at the gound. They were selling worthless, filthy bric-a-brac bullshit of the sort that gives flea markets a bad rep. Broken lamps, knick-knacks, GARBAGE. Looked like they looted a dumpster. Eventually, they started asking 50 cents. I left our unsold merchandise at their table.
Back. Once again. For her amusement. And your amazement. The one. The only. One night only. The prank animal. The incredible JILL! Devilish pixie number one. She’s witty. She’s erudite. She’ll make you look and feel like a damned fool. She’ll pull shenanigans. And she’ll laugh AT you. But her sweet, sweet laughter will melt your heart. In any context. She’ll make you the joke of your hangout or workplace. Then she’ll spirit you to her fave graveyard and swap stories with you until daybreak. Dark hair. Dark eyes. Dark soul. And plenty of it. Trollop of the night. JILL.
Bad. Nationwide. But no stranger to his neighbors. Pimp Daddy Agamemnon knew how to work a crowd. He never kept regular hours. No one managed to catch him at home. They knew he’d returned when their generous gifts disappeared from his doorstep. One fellow claimed he saw PDA getting his dick sucked under a streetlight. Another guy referred to PDA as his “friend,” when none of PDA’s actual inner circle were about. Much discussed. Never defined. Pimp Daddy Agamemnon left them wondering. Until his appearances, that is, which the harshest drama critic would love. Pimp Daddy Agamemnon: Modern day Ceasar.
Dig in. Chow down. Send the box tops to your participating K-8 school. SHOULD is the most weightless, meaningless, useless world in the English language. It exists only in theoretical relation to what Is and what Isn’t, absurdly and impotently leaning toward what Isn’t. WHY is more entertaining. WHY is often good for guffaws. MANURE YOUR FIELDS WITH NONSENSE. I can stuff a fistful of marshmallow peeps in my mouth, if that would satisfy you. But I fear it’d slide on by you. Sweet little aetherbeings. I’ll take care of you. This show ain’t over ‘til the air conditioner rattles.
No. I’m not happy to see you. I’d rather you didn’t approach. ‘Cause I was having a swell time. But you can’t seem to stay the fuck out of my face. You’ve wrecked my serenity. And, whaddya know, I accidentally drowned my inner Talleyrand under too many shots. So I won’t be negotiating. And I can’t duck a confrontation. POW! Clutching my jackknife as makeshift brass knucks, I fire a dispatch to your Adam’s apple. You look surprised. You throw a punch. Oops. Missed me. I kick you in the nuts. You’re on the floor. UFF! Soon, you’ve stopped twitching.
JOE BELIEVED. Joe believed that most religions were right about some things and wrong about others, but that the Hindus had the best batting average. He believed strongly in reincarnation. He believed that he, Joe, was near the end of the line. That he was passing through the outer levels of karmic purgatory. Enduring drama queen antics as punishment for his own, long ago. Accepting rejection as pennance for snubbing all those ugly bitches in his many passes through youthful arrogance. Joe suffered his indignities with silent, teeth-gritted elegance, knowing eternal calm was waiting at the next off ramp.
My junior high’s colors were light, bloodless orange and dull white. The cheerleaders wore uniforms to school on game days. For SPIRIT, I suppose. Tight orange panties, of which you’d catch a glimpse, occasionally. A cheerleader would spontaneously kick when things got slow. Or a bully would pull her hem toward her ripening tits, and she’d squeal with forced indignation. Some would allow you a protracted gawk, if you negotiated properly. First time I creamed my draws, I thought I’d gotten so excited that I’d pissed myself just a squirt. When I looked, I didn’t know what to make of it.
What happens when we die? Nothing? Funny, that’s what everyone else said, too. If so: Why so half-assed? Why accept mere survival as a consolation prize, when you want dignity and independence? Why not draw a bead on the moon? Why not TAKE the whole she-bang? If you can’t get arrested, you’re not hustling. And why not get your hustle right? There’s a Get Out Of Jail Free card waiting on the nearest rooftop. Why look for outside verification? You’ll only touch lives with audacity and self-reliance. There are ways in and out of everything. Push. Pull. Don’t die hesitating.
Feed or breathe. Struggle or compromise. Burn or drown. In the July Arizona sun, all liquid evaporates as it’s dispensed. Bob’s soul must’ve been liquid, or at least essentially liquid, for it evaporated when he decided to walk in the noonday sun, leaving only the sand and gravel that had been its bed. He couldn’t find work. He had obvious skill and solid references. Reliable fellow. But the boss would’ve had to fire some slack-ass vindictive drama queen asshole to make room on the roster, and that wasn’t going to happen. In defiance of Darwin. Remaining adrift. Hungry. But breathing.
Elvis allegedly has a wart removed from his right hand. Joni Mabe, proprietor of the Everything Elvis museum at the Loudermilk Boarding House in Cornelia, GA, is in possession of what she claims is that very wart. Mabe says a few of the king’s bigger fans have advocated slicing a bit off that wart to clone Elvis. She’s against it, for reasons obvious and obscure. But, the more you think about it, the more inevitable it sounds. Elvis, the re-emergence. Might as well start figuring out how to break it to the poor kid. YOU think you can’t trust nobody...
Take a generous whiff of the perfume in her hair, and comment on it. Confidently and humbly, introduce yourself. (Confidence and humility can both be had through appropriate self-awareness.) Ask her a question. Not yes-no or multiple choice. Rather: Ask her a question that makes room for elaborate anecdotes and protracted revelation. Be slow and choosy with the words you speak yourself. Do not lie. Don’t self-correct. That is, avoid the pitfalls that will make either of the aforementioned seem necessary. If she’s looking for a thug, beat the next man’s ass. Chew up some lightbulbs. Spit out the glass.
MAY YOUR STAY BE INSPIRING; MAY YOUR PARTING BE PLEASANT. The porter was tense. Most likely from carrying parcels from the street to the upper floors. Staircases were slow death. He was perhaps the tensest man you’d ever met. But he didn’t much mind. The porter often wondered what was so VILE about tension. Prized vigilance. Thought that maybe most people weren’t as tense as they ought to be. When the slow death picked up, he’d settle in for a glass of porter, which he’d heard was named for his occupation. Some shoot fireworks. Some watch aquariums. Others fuck others.
The neighbor and his fuck buddy are taking it home on the opposite side of this thin, thin wall. He groans. Sounds like Butt-Head, clocked in the belly with a Louisville Slugger. She can’t find her other shoe. She sounds unfulfilled. He snickers. The shoe turns up. She gusts out the door, her bra in one hand. She makes her way home, across the street. Dorm shit. Too many college kids in this neighborhood. I dig into the stars like the sky’s an upside-down bowl of cereal, longing to blow this town and already craving the few things I’ll miss.
She lives by the water, sullen and saturnine. And resistant to seduction. Even to idle chit-chat. But when she gets to town, she gets down. Throws down. And spreads that do re mi all around. You’ve seen her on magazine covers, decked out in her Pikachu coat. You’ve seen her holding court at the Lemon Drop. But you dare not speak to her. If she’s intrigued, she’ll choose you. And won’t be shit you can do. ‘Cept play along. Go for it, son. Have a blast. ‘Cause this lady is DYNAMITE. Just don’t think you’re gonna be following her home.
Poor Alison. Poor, poor girl. Big, mournful brown eyes. Soft voice, useful only for rudimentary communication. Beaten down by nothing. Jesus, how SAD is that? Unable to act, as she’s been exposed to the total POINTLESSNESS of all action. Knows she’s weak. Knows she’s a goddamn leech, and feels that much weaker for the knowledge. Knows you know. You don’t need to tell her. Her complete inability to function ain’t news to her. She’ll be doing all right at noon, then some sad song will CRIPPLE her, and she’ll be worthless for days. Illusion gone. Reality returned. Poor, sad Alison.
Still not sure if I’m in for the long haul. I MAINTAIN, you could say. Not nearly as self-destructive as I was this time last year, certainly not as much as two years ago. But I can still hear the dogs barking, still on my tail. There’s muttering and grumbling around the craps table as I try new ways to make this thing work. I still hear the whispers - GET OUT - tho’ I don’t trust them. Led me wrong before. I modulate myself to avoid fucking up my blessings. So, unless something happens in June, I’ll see ya.
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