Googly Two Shoes

Googly Two Shoes was a shrimp in the deep blue sea of Nordstruttom, a dire strait betwixt the continental shelfs of Jabar and Joongedoon. GTS swam in the slow dancing curl and uncurl motioning of shrimp in the darkness of that cold water, his unblinking beady eyes glistening with a light that was like that of the moon. Two Shoes listened for the sounds of currents carrying the fathoming moan of whales, gauging the season and horoscope through the twinkling chitter of starfish. As a shrimpling, founded from the shore of Kooler, Googly made his way through the depths by the trail of green plankton until his belly grew ready for shellfish and mud shrimp, and he ate his way down deeper into the darkness, away from the reggaeton and tourist encroach of Koolton Bay, until his eyes glued wide open with which to catch a glimmer of a crab leg or fish scale, glimmering in some otherworldly light that reflects off of something not the sun. Down and down he sank, eating daintily in the way of shrimp, growing more vessely and plump with meat as he went. As we all know, in those deep dark waters of Nordstruttom where there is no clear delineation between complete absence of color and a deep shade of blue, life can be competitive and fleeting, but at the very least, quiet and ominous with the weight of meaning.

We will remember Googly Two Shoes for his juiciness of body and cleft of taste. That he was netted so unjustly in mass industrial manner, torn asunder from his netherworld deploy, speaks poorly of the human species’ rampant, primal need for meats that it does not deserve to rend. But we will nevertheless enjoy this sauteed cashew nut surprise in his name.

Zanorth II

This month’s flash writing for the astronaut collective, theme of “bug”:

Zanorth the cockroach scuttled across the soundboard, chewing on remnants of asiago habanero pizza that had befallen there at some point during the many hours long sessions of takes, retakes, and re-re-takes. Finally, the engineer, Burt, packed up his things, stubbed out his 3rd blunt of the evening, and went off into the night to some industry party in a trendy bar the size of an armpit to drink too many adios motherfuckers and shake his thing on the dancefloor until he got kicked out for grinding up on the clubowner’s wife and knocking over a pitcher full of mojito. Whereupon Burt then made his way to an apartment party at his buddy Fletcher’s, wherein he snorted a coupla lines of coke and then—the final highlight of the night—made out extensively with an aspiring bit part actresses’ chin because they were both too sauced to know the difference. The saliva and knobbiness of the area combined still made it seem like the night had been alright, when he awoke the next mid-day curled around a sofa with a shirt smelling from vomit that did not come from him, unless he somehow drank a quart of tequila without knowing it.

Zanorth felt the habanero was a bit overstated, but otherwise interesting. He sat and waggled his antennae at his reflection in the window lit by pulsating lights from hibernating I-Macs. The night belonged to him and his breed, spawned in the eternal darkness of insulation between walls scattered with conduit and droppings from mice long since exterminated with shock traps. His was a species that was somehow beyond time, straddled across the boundaries of pre-history and a nuclear future. Zanorth felt no need to evolve. He was quite content with his penthouse suite on the 3rd floor of a reconverted motel in the heart of Greenwich Village. Crumbs were aplentiful and gourmet. He often felt that the key to life (which in his case, he was well aware, was most likely limited to one year) was simply being content with what was immediate and given. Zanorth knew that he had it better than most. He had word from a fruitfly that once flew in through the open window from the garbage heap that there were cockroaches in the world who were reduced to scavenging for Vegemite in the armchairs of an abandoned apartment of some ex-pat Kiwis. Zanorth couldn’t imagine what that would be like. At the most, here in this paradise of frequent daily snacks and delivery pizza, Thai, Indian, and Chinese, Zanorth once had to go a whole weekend without a crumb. He called that the drought of week 37.

Burt knew, in some subconscious primitive part of his brain, that he dropped crumbs from his hastily snacked upon sustenance throughout the day. He also perhaps had observed, without putting two and two together, that the crumbs no longer were there the next day. Burt also knew that there was no cleaning lady hired to mop and wax the floors and disinfect the tables. But if he had ever thought about it at all, maybe he just thought that crumbs went to crumb purgatory, where all fallen crumbs belonged. Or they disappeared via magic, via some transmutation or karmic reincarnation into something new. Perhaps they became integrated into the wooden flooring.

No, the crumbs—as we canny observers know—went directly to Zanorth’s belly. But perhaps that is as it is meant to be. The hardshelled creatures of the night suckling upon what we are unaware of, feeding from the waste of our ignorance.

Germaine Installment III

Rawlins, his hair pomaded and glistening in the sun, stepped out of his car. The three yardsale ladies, apparently already familiar with him, hooted and called out simultaneously, like birds. He waved and pulled out a tray of cookies from his passenger seat. Germaine scrambled up fairly quickly, given his age, and hobbled over to Rawlins and sniffed eagerly at his pant cuffs, then began licking at his doc martins.
“Ho, old boy,” Rawlins said to Germaine, “Lookin’ good. Have a cookie.” Germaine gobbled it up in mid air.
“Goddamit, Rawlins,” Johnson shouted, “He can’t have that kind of thing, it’s going to kill him!”
“Hell no, Johnson! This is some good shit right here. He’ll live ten years longer!” Rawlins came up and slapped Johnson on the back. Johnson helped himself to two cookies and handed Rawlins the thermos.
“Weeeoooh! Holy shit! That’s some good lemonade.”
“I made it this very morning!” the lady with the red mustache said proudly.
“Vodka with love from Russia,” Johnson stated, taking back his thermos and washing down the two gooey cookies with lemonade-vodka.
“How’s it hangin’, Doris?” Rawlins asked the mustachioed lady.
“Oh, you know. Getting rid of some nice stuff we just didn’t have the room for anymore,” she answered, playing with her curls, “Do you like these bowls? Perfect for mixing.”
Rawlins and the broad chatted about baking as the cookies were distributed throughout the populace at the yardsale. The lady with the paisley kerchief ate 5 in a row. Germaine waddled into a shady spot underneath a table and laid out on his side, panting contentedly.
Johnson puttered through the various items displayed, always interested in the rare treasure that might lurk in the shadowy recesses of a scattered box of junk. At the very least, a white elephant gift was always one thing that you could assuredly come away from a yardsale with.
A half-hour later, his hands covered in dust, he found what he thought to be the doozy. It was an object completely devoid of any apparent function–a miniature boar, replete with tusks that might have been real ivory. It had tufts of mangy hair that may or may not have come from an actual boar. It stood haphazardly on legs uneven from years of storage in some packed away box. It was ugly, and Johnson couldn’t imagine why anybody would possess, or care to possess, such a thing. Which made it all the more desirable for him to possess.
“Where has this boar come from?” he asked the third yardsale lady, who sat poised on an antique stool like a hawk, silent and observant.
“That would be from India,” she responded, “It’s very nice, isn’t it?”
“Yes. Yes, quite nice.” He held the boar up to the light appraisingly. He was starting to feel a little funny. The lady in the paisley kerchief began, inexplicably, to make owl noises. The three ladies laughed together, again for no apparent reason–they seemed to be interconnected by some conspiratorial craziness. Rawlins was conversing animatedly with the red mustachioed lady about how to properly baste a game hen.
“How much for this here small boar?” Johnson asked the hawk lady on the stool.
“That’s 10 dollars.”
Johnson looked hard at lady. 10 bones? She gazed beadily back at him without emotion. She couldn’t possibly be serious. She must have an amazing sense of humor, Johnson thought. Amazingly dry, restrained sense of humor that none of the outer world, save perhaps her other 2 psychotic cronies, could possibly visualize nor understand. 10 dollars for a functionless, hideous replica of a wild boar! Johnson appraised the boar some more, looking for problems he could point out to knock the price down. The legs were uneven, yes, but not broken. The craftsmanship indeed was uncanny. The boar seemed quite vividly lifelike the more one stared at it, almost such that it seemed to be ready to gallop off into the suburban brush. Perhaps to mate with some unsuspecting housepet, creating a street herd of wild boar-cats, roaming the nightworld expanses of backyards and tar to forage for fallen fruits, nuts, and stray rats. He was definitely feeling a bit funny.
“I’ll give you five dollars for this boar,” he said suddenly to the lady, who had been watching him silently from her stool. She shook her head calmly.
“It’s a nice boar, I admit, but what the hell kind of use does it have?” he asked her peevishly, pissed off now.
“That’s an avatar of Lord Vishnu,” she said, as if that explained anything.
Mystified, he stood holding the boar, for some reason unable to let it go. Germaine heaved himself up and sniffed interestedly at the boar, his neck hairs rising. He barked.
If you’ve ever seen a real german shepherd get really worked up, it can be a rather frightening experience, especially if you have normally viewed said german shepherd as a quiet, friendly, boring dog. The german shepherd suddenly, instantaneously converts to a wild bear-like creature, all fangs and firey eyes, hackles risen like a wolf looking for the kill. Germaine had shed all of his age and was now barking frenziedly at the small stuffed boar.
“Aw, crap, Germaine! GERMAINE!” Johnson swatted at Germaine to no avail. Some inner ancient wild dog had been activated in Germaine, and there was no talking domestic sense to him at the moment. Not knowing how else to stop him, Johnson waved the boar in front of Germaine’s face, and then tossed it across the street. Germaine ran after it, ears swiveled forward and taut, and picked it up and swung it about in his jaws rapidly, like it was a bunny. A testament, again, to its workmanship, the boar had not yet ripped apart. Johnson wordlessly handed the lady on the stool a ten dollar bill. It had been worth it, almost, simply to see Germaine acting gloriously like a 100 percent purebred german shepherd.
Rawlins came up next to Johnson and slapped him on the back. “How you liking those cookies, eh, motherfucker? Give me some of that lemonade shit.” Johnson then had a moment of realization, as Rawlins took a herculean swig from the thermos, draining it of all liquid and dribbling a third of it down his chin and onto his t-shirt. The cookies!
“What was in those cookies, again, Rawlins?”
Rawlins wiped his mouth and belched. “Pumpkin, peanut butter. A dollop of special butter.”
“Special butter? Holy shit.” As it dawned on him what this meant, he could hear the three ladies tittering like schoolgirls behind him.

Germaine Installment II

Like all suburbs, Clayola had streets so wide you could fit three humvees side by side. Cookie cutter houses developed from some nobody’s drawing board vision of what comfort would look like if it could be marketed, a commissioned vision obtained and computerized in some high rise building in a city on the other side of the nation. Here they were, green lawns symbolic of the American Dream, stucco pink brown houses with 2 inch wide blind slats and bedrooms bigger than a trailer home. Johnson pedaled slowly down the gently serpentine blocks, alternating between the sidewalk and the radiant expanse of tar. He stopped to take a pull from his thermos, sweating faintly from his roughly 3 1/2 block journey. All part of the Woodsdale gated community. He wheeled his bike up to the yardsale at 1132 Dandelion Drive. A trio of women who may have been in their late 30s but looked like they were in their 50s manned the scattered goods. There were boxes of knicknacks, swaths of dusty fabric, well-broken in shoes from boys long dispersed from the fold, icecube trays that formed icecubes into clovers, lamps that seemingly existed in a universe apart from any given purpose of lighting, hardback books that had never been reprinted, and all sorts of other things that were pleasurable to browse amongst, simply for that moment of juxtaposition between the worn, dusty object and its possible function in your own life, the moment of wonder, when it almost seems that you might actually find a place for this thing on your bookshelf or in your closet or your kitchen–until you snap quickly back to the simple reality that this thing you are holding is sadly mere junk, in fact the purest definition of the word. Junk. But you continue browsing, relentlessly, even through the bins that are quite apparently only fragments of things no longer existing, in the hope that out of the jungle of junk there will be that one item that will give you greater comfort, greater mobility, greater prowess in the kitchen, but that you just could never suck it up to buy new.
But junk, too–it must be said–has its place in our lives; those purposeless objects that we put into storage or that sit unused in the farthest reaches of our rooms. They are symbols of memories and aspects of ourselves that we just cannot let go, even if no longer relevant–like totem items, imbuing our everyday outer world with secret meaning. Someday, perhaps, you think, these objects might serve a function, even though they never have. Or at the very least, you can pass these magic objects onto other people, such as your children or grandchildren, or–if in need of a few bucks to feel that your years of ownership were worth anything–to some stranger lured in by the prospect of cheap usable wares at a yardsale.
Johnson lived down the street from these ladies, but had never seen them before. One of them, head topped with a paisley silk kerchief, offered free lemonade, made from lemons which grew in their own backyard. The lemons were lumpy and sometimes grew in jointed doubles–or once, even triples–as if they had been subjected to nuclear radiation. The lemonade, as Rawlins had stated, was certainly of the mouth puckering variety, and Johnson found that it mixed quite well with the vodka in his thermos.
Germaine came waddling down the street, looking haggard from the journey, his tongue hanging desperately out the side of his snoot like a piece of gum trailing off a shoe.
“GERMAINE!,” Johnson piped, his face feeling doubly warm from the dual forces of the sun and the vodka-lemonade, “What in the hell has gotten into you?” The dog sniffed amiably at a box of old dress shoes and then curled himself into a spot of shade behind a broken grandfather clock.
“Excuse me, but is this your dog?” one of the yard-sale ladies, with a distinct red mustache, asked, pointing down at the german shepherd.
“That’s a tricky question, madam,” Johnson responded, sipping gently at his thermos,”because when one lives with such a dog, as I do, then the issue of ownership becomes somewhat complicated. As in, when I am a slave to his need every afternoon for walks, or to his constant hunger for milkbones, for example, the question is then raised: does he own me, or do I own him?”
“Well, he can’t be sitting here, he’ll drive away customers.”
“Madam, I assure you that young children will be lured into your yardsale in ever increasing numbers by his large furry ears. He poses no immediate threat to your commerce.”
A child then came running from across the street and began to pet the dog avidly.
“He smells like mildew,” the lady with the red mustache said, unrelenting.
“He has no fleas and has been rendered infertile by surgical procedure and he has been given all shots required by law. I have his papers here if you care to see them. Observe the nobility of his snout. 100% pure bred.”
Germaine rolled onto his back to be pet, and his pink penis could be seen flashing wetly in the sun. The child ran away cursing. Johnson quickly diverted attention by asking the price for a handsome set of polished nutcrackers. The rouse turned out to be unnecessary, for just then Rawlins pulled up in his Jetta.

Germaine Installment I

Germaine was a German shepherd, your garden variety of germane purebred–bad hips, arthritis, ears overlarge and rear end rat-like. His master was a Lipton tea drinker who would lay out for hours in the sun, but would wear such a large floppy hat and slather on the 45 SPF sunscreen so much that he was in fact as pale as an albino. He liked the feeling of being adventurous, without any of the deleterious effects. “Germaine,” he said, knee deep in a mai tai and Hindu scripture, “GERMAINE!” The german shepherd whined and looked at his pale master, his ears swiveled and tentative in the summer air, then groaned and raised his mangy body painfully and waddled over. Johnson liked to exercise his authority over the dog, simply to maintain order and give the semblance of purpose to his hours in (out) the sun. Germaine licked at Johnson’s hand, inspected the mai tai, farted breezily, then plopped himself down again, having determined that the call was only an exercise.
The phone rang in the kitchen. “Goddammit,” Johnson muttered. “GERMAINE!” The dog lay on his side, his left ear merely moving a little in faint reflex. “Useless mutt. Can’t even pick up a phone.” Johnson heaved himself up and suddenly felt the mai tai drop heatedly into his stomach. He stumbled his way indoors and picked up the phone.

“Johnson here.”
“Motherfucker.”
“Rawlins, I thought I asked you, politely, never to call here again.”
“MotherFUCKER.”
“I’m sitting here in the sun, I’m reading the Mahabharata, I get up from my concentrated study to answer the phone from someone who should not be calling me.”
“Mo-ther-fuck-er. There’s a yardsale going on down on Dandelion Lane. Lemonade and everything, the kind that makes you pucker.”
“Any chicks?”
“You’d better be there motherfucker. I’m baking cookies.”
“No shit?”
“Peanut butter and pumpkin, motherfucker!”

Johnson got his Schwinn out from the shed and tried to take some of the cobwebs off with a stick. Germaine lay watching happily, his pink tongue lolling. Johnson poured a little vodka into a thermos, just in case, then got onto the rusty red bike and pedaled around the side of the house and down the driveway and into the street.

Zanorth

Here am I, Lord of Cockroaches, Zanorth, surveying my territory, the kitchen lands of Apartment Q-258. My antennaes waggle in the summer breeze that wafts out from the hour long hot showers that the female humanoid takes in the bathroom. This is indeed a land of plenty, a fertile tiled square of frequently dropped crumbs, forgotten leftovers, abundance overflowing from ceramics at every step.
My people live in the spaces between the walls. We do not carry strange diseases. We are nearly impossible to kill except by strong and deftly placed poisons, or individually by very sharp or very heavy blunt instruments. The humans seem to fear us excessively for the reason that our existence is based both entirely on their excess–while simultaneously, we could still exist without them. This terrifies them–the idea that we could outlive them–and that meanwhile we are simply using their wasteful habits to chill out and party.
It has been a good season here in the kitchen lands. Why, just last night, we came across 4 different types of cheeses, along with drops of various red wines to accompany them! Just think, what a waste it would be if all of this extra foodstuff simply sat forever on the kitchen floor, never to be enjoyed by another lifeform. We the cockroaches love to try out new things. I myself just tried out candied yams for the first time last week, and discovered them to perhaps be the most luxurious dining experience I’ve ever partaken in. I will dream of said yams, the orange and white creamy blend, until the next chance encounter I have with them again. In the meantime, I will enjoy this piece of mushroom pizza crust with a dab of ranch.

Essay of Me by Phil Scrydor

digital landscapes washing over your shore
the vision is luminous but still i want more
the key to the ocean is all over my chin
and the tides pushing me further and further
and further in
(“The Panoramic View of You,” Slitting Throats circa 1982, from the “Lush” album)

I begin my Essay of Me with this quote because I like it, and I listen to the Lush album a lot. I think their lyrics are really evocative and like, vivid, surreal, just dripping with visceral imagery. I wore my hair like Sid Branton’s for a while, too: I had it dyed purple and everything. I like to play bass a lot. There’s just something about plucking those fat strings that’s so satisfying. I don’t know that many people understand that. Everyone seems to think that playing guitar is like the ultimate, like you have to wah-wah and screech and clang in order to be somebody. Shit, try taking the bass line out of your favorite tune, man, it will blow your fucking mind. It’s totally necessary, completely necessary. It grounds the whole thing. It would all fall apart otherwise. A bass player’s got to make a lot out of nothing. Just simple, grounded stuff. I like that meatiness to it, that solidity. It’s like a feeling that I can only compare to like, surfing, when you’re riding the wave. Once you’re up on it, and the rhythm is solid, and you’re carrying the whole tune with you, you just feel like nothing can stop you, like you’ll just keep going and going forever, and then the song ends. I jump around like a monkey when I play that shit. Everyone seems to think that the guitar player has to do all the theatrics, like they have to look all crazy when they’re strumming chords, or bending a note or some shit. But I think the bass player should be the one getting crazy. They’re thumping the fucking whole room with their plucking. They’d better be moving. I dance like crazy when I start plucking that thing. I shave my head now, too, so it’s cool when I wag my head around, I look all hard-core.
What else to say about me? I smoke American Spirits. Have since I was 10. It’s ok with my mom; she says I’ll be lucky enough to die by natural causes like cancer, rather than something like a car crash or a bullet or something. I see her point. I figure, what the hell. If I’m going to die this way, then at least it’s by my own fucking hand, you know? Besides, I’ve got an uncle who’s like 87 and has been smoking forever and he’s doing just fine, other than for a shitload of liverspots. I always try not to stare at them, but they’re like all over his hands and stuff, it’s kind of weird looking. But he’s a cool guy. He used to make shoes for Frank Sinatra–no fucking kidding. He was hip with the mobsters like that. He still smokes cigars. He’s a real cool guy. I wouldn’t mind being that old, even with liverspots, if I was like him. He has a house with a swimming pool in Arizona, it’s a nice house, it’s got a game room and everything. I’ve tried to get him to let me throw a party with all my friends there, at the pool, with the house to ourselves, that would be so crazy wild. But he never lets me, the selfish old bastard. He’s going to a retirement home for sure when he breaks a hip. I wouldn’t want to be old enough to be sent to a retirement home. That would suck a fat one.
Let’s see. What else about me. Now that I’ve shaved my head, I’m looking pretty hardcore. I’m thinking of removing my earring to look even harder, but I don’t know, I’ve had it in so long it would feel weird without it. Like I’d be naked or something. I have this one friend who wears a hat everywhere he goes, like all the time, he’s got this same hat on. I’d never seen him without the hat, until just the other day, I saw him without his hat on. It was pretty weird. I didn’t even know who he was at first. That’s why I’m scared to take out my earring. It’s like people start to identify you with certain things, and then when you change it it fucks everything up. Which is cool. But I don’t know if I want to do that just yet with the earring, because I already just did that with shaving my head. That was a pretty fucked up thing to do, because before I looked like Sid Branton.
Well, that’s pretty much all that I can think of to write about me. There’s a lot more stuff I could tell you, but it’s hard to think of it all right now. I could tell you stories from growing up, but I don’t know if that’s pertinent to this essay. I have some pretty fucked up stories, though, if you want to hear them. I grew up with 3 older brothers; they did some pretty fucked up stuff. I did some pretty fucked up stuff, too, when I was little. I’m more normal now. I play bass a lot and hang out at The Moribund Cafe. It’s cool there because they let you smoke cigarettes inside, and use your coffee cup as an ashtray. They don’t give a fuck there. I play my bass there on Thursdays with my band, The Brazened Nuts. All of our friends come to that. It gets pretty wild. We had a girl flashing her boobies at us one time. We’re probably going to keep playing there.