Chronicles of Crispin 06

As our intrepid hero followed this strange group of misfits down the misted squares of midnight cobblestone streets, he bethought himself of where it was he was venturing to, and whom therewith. He knew, thus far, that he was going to see a boat. But a mysterious boat, apparently, because there was much ado about it over the multiple Mordant Thieves they had consumed at Club Zephyr. Some kind of special boat in which was performed missions. What kind of missions, unknown.

Once taken out of the sexually amplified, intellectually dimmed environment of the club, Crispin found his companions surreal, even slightly demonic in manifestation. They walked together silently, almost grimly, purposely striding towards their mysterious destination in a formation of four, with Crispin straggling behind like a small child. They all seemed locked into their individual worlds of thought. As the silence weighed down upon him, Crispin felt the need to say something, anything. But right as he was about to break the hold of that witching hour before dawn, Taft suddenly stopped and spewed chunks that were backlit by a florescent hair salon sign. He leaned over the curb, heaving and spluttering. The group stopped and waited impatiently.

“Goddamit, Taft” Looger muttered ominously, shuffling awkwardly on his feet.

“A waste of quality drink, that is,” Kruger opined, leaning up against a post and twiddling his fingers.

“So . . .spphrt! . . sorry, folks . . . spppt . . .hhheeww . . . just a minor malfunction of equilibrioception due to the shortness of my legs in relation to . . . .spsptth! . . . the over acuity of my vestibular system,” Taft explained as he cleared his esophagus.

“Or something,” Lydia said, her arms crossed, though not unkindly.

As they waited for Taft to recollect himself and finish blowing his nose, Crispin felt an increasing sense of unease. He was totally out of his element, and all he wanted to do was go back to the club and take body shots off Melana. As he was envisioning that pleasant scenario, a gun shot rang out and suddenly everything changed.

Chronicles of Crispin 05

Looger leaned forward. “We know that in the 3rd – 4th grades, you frequented the nurses’ office due to complaints of headaches. We know that an MRI scan performed on you at the age of 6 revealed a slightly unusual development in the R-complex area of your brain. Which subsequent research did nothing to elucidate.”

Crispin started. He’d almost forgotten about those episodes in his childhood. Nothing of substance had come of them, and his headaches had subsided, and as far as he knew, he was a normal, average human being. He took a large couple of swallows from his beverage.

“We know that you are capable of more. That you could be something much greater, in service to powers much more sweeping than Phineus & Mortcum Waste Management Co.”

“And what powers would those be?” Crispin inquired shrewdly.

“Ahha! Jumps right to the point, doesn’t he?” The merry band of misfits chuckled. “Suffice to say that these are powers that are responsible for the events that determine the course of human history, insofar as it can be guided.”

“But wait a sec. I’m not exactly a very capable worker. I’ve never excelled in anything except track, lacrosse, and drinking.”

“And dancing, neh?” Lydia winked, her thigh seeming to massage his, the parting of her upper and lower femoris displayed succulently with the crossing of her legs.

“Er, I guess,” Crispin said, trying to keep the blood from rushing to currently non-essential parts of his body. “Nothing useful, basically. And what is this R-complex thing you mentioned?”

Looger, obviously accustomed to pontification, sat back and gestured with his hairy hands over his paunch as he spoke, “The brain stem and cerebellum are the R-complex, the reptilian brain. This is the evolutionary basis from which our brains have evolved. You with me? It controls subconscious aspects of your body, like your breath and body temperature. There are certain people, generally of a mystical persuasion, who believe that we can consciously learn to regulate and manipulate this most basic aspect of our brain in order to increase longevity, physical health, and strength. Through meditation and other such disciplines.”

Crispin wasn’t quite sure that he understood how any of this related to him. Or mattered. He concentrated on Lydia’s presence next to his and sipped his drink. Sensing that he was losing his attention, Kruger spoke:

“I have a brain development similar to yours, Crispin. Which is not to say that the capabilities I have gained are comparable necessarily to those that you will develop,” Crispin duly noted the use of the future tense, “But essentially, I have been able to hone the physical structure of my body and increase my strength, endurance, and agility. This makes me a highly useful instrument in my work to those powers that be.”

Lydia suddenly stood up and stretched like a cat, her nose ring flashing in the iridescent strobe lighting, breaking the spell that Crispin had been under. He looked about him wildly, drunk.

“But enough talk,” she said, placing her hands on her hips. “Come on, and we’ll show you our boat.”

Chronicles of Crispin 04

Crispin shifted uncomfortably upon his haunches. This was a strange group, for sure. He glanced back over at his work comrades, noting that they were quickly proceeding into that stage of drunkenness wherein the stuff of legend occurs. Marissa was trying to obtain a shot from out of Thomas’ buttocks, her hands hooked around his thighs and her nose buried deep. Jesse was dry humping Lauren in the corner like a dog in heat, while Mike and Cain, water cooler buddies, looked on approvingly as they removed their shirts. Ah well, he was enjoying his strange cocktail, and he had to admit, there was something compelling about these outcasts who welcomed him so readily into their entourage.

They sat together in collective silence for a moment, sipping their drinks and soaking in the hedonistic ambiance of Club Zephyr. Crispin was, by this point, a bit tipsy, so he may perhaps be forgiven for failing to notice when Lydia slipped her hand into his pocket and withdrew his wallet. She handed it off to Kruger, who summarily withdrew the driver’s license and handed it back to her. Lydia pressed herself against Crispin a little harder, giving him some boob this time, and simultaneously slipped his wallet back into his pocket.The only thing that Crispin was aware of was thigh and boob. Kruger excused himself and tipped his hat to Crispin, who nodded back.

Looger leaned forward, his eyes a-gleam, his breath scented with shellfish. “Tell me, m’boy. Where did you learn them moves on the dance floor?”

Crispin flushed a bit. “Aw, you know. Just feel it in the hips. I used to dance to Michael Jackson in my underwear when I was a boy.” He wasn’t quite sure why he volunteered this information. But Looger nodded, seeming to approve of the dancing to Michael Jackson in skivvies as a perfectly viable method of learning.

“You’ve got the moves of a rattlesnake. You’ve got POTENTIAL, lad.” Kruger returned and handed a print-out to Looger, who consulted it, squinting, in the limited club lighting. Crispin took another couple of pulls from his Mordant Thief and drained the glass, giddy with Lydia’s silent and subtle attentions and Looger’s flattery. Crispin turned to Taft, who was happily drumming the beat of the music on his knees and watching the debauchery on the dance floor with interest, and offered to buy the next round. With a horse whistle, Taft called over the pony tailed waitress in black Converse and ordered them a new tray.

Looger examined Crispin piercingly over his glasses, his beard bedraggled in a somewhat majestic manner, now that Crispin looked more closely. “Don’t you think your talents are being wasted sitting behind a front desk all day?”

“Well, it’s a job,” Crispin began earnestly, “And the people I work with are fun. I mean, do I wish I was doing something more fulfilling? Of course I do. But isn’t that just the way adult life is?” Crispin looked around at the group, all of whom were gazing back at him intently.

“Wait a second. How did you know. . .?” By way of answer, Kruger flipped Crispin’s driver’s license onto the table like a card. As Crispin processed these events, the waitress distributed the drinks about the table and turned her sweet headlights on him. He automatically went for his wallet, then more urgently, realizing that his card may have gone wherever the ID had. But it was there, as was his cash, which he handed off to the waitress, who looked around at the table quizzically as she left.

“Sorry bub, just a routine background check. In this industry we’ve got to watch our backs,” Kruger said.

Lydia purred into his ear, “We just wanted to make sure that we could trust you. We LIKE you. If we are going to continue in this relationship, then we need to learn more about each other.”

Crispin’s head was spinning. He took a few pulls of his freshly delivered drink to ground himself. He took his ID and put it back into his wallet. He looked around at the group, all of whom were watching him. He smiled and raised his glass. “To new friends and new adventures!”

“Bravo, kid! Bravo!” Taft bubbled. Lydia squeezed his knee. Looger nodded approvingly. Kruger tipped his hat. They all raised their cups and drank.

“So what else do you know about me, then?” Crispin inquired.

Stay tuned, don’t touch that dial, folks. Crispin will return tomorrow!

Chronicles of Crispin 03

“Yes, men of the sea we are! And one woman! But before we get into the specifics of our enterprise, I would be happy to forward you a beverage in an attempt to account for the tragically spilt beer (though the fault was all Lydia’s), which did, at the very least, have the unforeseen but perhaps divinely intended outcome of introducing you to us!” Taft enumerated cheerily, his round face uplifted to shout over the techno music.

“I’m not quite sure what you said,” Crispin shouted back honestly, “But I sense your good intent, and I’ll drink whatever’s handed to me. And I will forgive whomever was responsible forthwith.”

With this objective determined, a round of drinks were arranged by Taft through a comely waitress in black Converse and black socks. As they awaited their libations, Crispin was invited to join the odd group  in being seated. He spotted Menala back at the bar, his pink boa draped winningly across her back, but he then noted that she was engaged in exchanging body shots with Morrison. Morrison was driving his oblong face in between Menala’s substantial breasts in the effort to obtain a buried shot. So as Lydia patted the seat next to her invitingly, he plopped himself down. The waitress appeared with a tray of ruddy, strangely aromatic cocktails that made Crispin envision the Spanish Mediterranean coast.

“To your health, Sir Crispin!” Looger called, and they drank.

“What in God’s name is this unholy yet strangely compelling concoction?” spluttered Crispin.

“It is known,” volunteered Kruger, “as the Mordant Thief. It consists of tequila, dry port, and a dash of olive juice brine. I was lucky enough to discover it one hot, humid, and airless night in a nameless hotel off the Gulf of Mexico. I had been attempting to drown my sorrows in drink after a particularly demanding mission that took the life of my favorite Mexican mistress and a substantial amount of money. Not to mention unsettling the nation almost to the point of civil war. ” Heads were shaken all around in quiet remembrance by the group.

“Ay, THAT was a fuckin’ mission, alright,” Looger stated.

By way of attempting to include Crispin, Lydia explained, “Not all of our missions end successfully. We have had some close calls.” She leaned over slightly so that her ample thigh lay against his. Crispin nodded thoughtfully and took another pull of his Mordant Thief.

“So.” Crispin tried to think of a way to steer this conversation into his understanding. “Um. So you guys have a boat?”

The group of misfits looked at each other and smirked. “Yes, it is a BOAT, that’s for sure. A boat such as you have never seen!”

Train your web browser to this here blog tomorrow for a fresh episode in

The Chronicles of Crispin!

Chronicles of Crispin 02

Once out ‘pon yon dance floor, Crispin executed a few deft hip waggling maneuvers that combined salsa sensuality with hip-hop swagger. Or so he liked to think, in any case. Menala clapped her hands in delight and pressed her ass against him in approval. It would most likely take another 2-3 shots of tequila before tongues could get involved.

But right about then, a wrench got thrown thence into the proceedings. From somewhere just out of peripheral vision, a drink was heaved onto our aforementioned dancers. Beer, to be exact. Menala yelped, and Crispin exclaimed, “What-the-fuck!” He swiveled about to locate the source of untimely beer upheaval, his arm hair already getting sticky. Menala dashed off to the ladies’ room, her shapely calves flashing in the gyrating club lights.

A blonde girl with pink highlights came up to Crispin and gripped his wrist. “I am SO sorry! I just totally spilled my beer ALL over you! Oh shit!” Crispin eyed her petulantly, beer dripping down his ribs. The girl appraised him. “Wow! I dig your mascara! My name is Lydia. I’ll make it up to you, I promise,” she said mysteriously, still holding him by his wrist. “C’mon and meet my friends.” Though Crispin was quite certain that Lydia was not referring to sexual favors when she said that she would make it up to him, the primitive part of his brain allowed him to be led by the hand by this strange, short but shapely blonde. He could tell that she was completely obnoxious, and he was still pissed about the beer and the lost mating ritual time with Menala, but there was something just off enough about her to make him interested. Maybe it was the nose ring.

Lydia brought him up to a lounging group of misfits, all of them guys. They looked at him dispassionately as Lydia introduced them, shouting over the 4/4 beat of the music. “This is Looger,” Lydia said, waving at the first gentleman, who was sprawled out on a cushion like he was going to get a lap dance. Looger was a large man with a prominent belly and a disheveled beard, but despite these slovenly indications, dressed immaculately. He nodded amiably enough at Crispin. “He’s the brains of the operation,” Lydia shouted affectionately. “And this is Kruger,” referring to a tall thin man standing against the pillar with a rakishly tilted cap. “He’s the hands.” Kruger obligingly shook hands forthwith, demonstrating his long, bony, but strong fingers. “This next gent is the one mainly responsible for you being half-covered in beer, though I plead guilty, in part, as well,” she said, pointing out a small man who was bubbling over in excitement and was the only one who came up to Crispin. “So pleased to meet you, SIR! And so sorry about the spillage, absolutely unncessary, if only Lydia here had just allowed me to . . . ” Lydia stomped on his foot, stopping him short. “I’m not sure why we keep this guy around, to be honest,” she said playfully, “This is Taft.”

“I’m Crispin,” Crispin said to all, in his typically phlegmatic manner. He stood there awkwardly for a moment, uncertain whether he should still be angry about the beer or not. “Um, so, what do you guys DO, anyway?”

“We’re sailors!” Lydia enjoined. “Sailors of the high seas, if you please. We were just discussing our next route and mission, when Taft, as is his wont, got a tad carried away.”

Join us on the morrow for the further adventures of Crispin! . . .

Chronicles of Crispin 01

Crispin donned his feather boa, slid another silver ring on his finger, and appraised his mascara’d face from many different angles one more time before stepping out of his highrise apartment and into the elevator. He was destined this evening for a meetup at Jesse’s place and thence onward to Club Zephyr, which required a certain flamboyance in get-up just to get in. This was the first time he would be going out with some of the ladies from work, and he was eager to show them that he had a wild side that they would not have guessed from the unassuming, placid demeanor he maintained at the front desk. He knew that he had a winning smile, which was enough to pique the immediate interest of a stray lass, but he had always struggled in the conversation department. He required props and activities to cover this weakness when he went out. Thus, he was also a tad nervous, because meeting the girls over at Jesse’s first could be kind of weird, before the alcohol got into everyones system, sans deafening bass and beats. He was arriving at the tail end of fashionably late in an attempt to curtail that awkward face time.

He was pleased when he strutted into Jesse’s, his heart thumping and his wallet loop jangling, and everyone called out and whooped in delight at his appearance. It was simply because they were all bored and thirsty for spectacle, of course, but he thought that he also sensed some burgeoning sexuality in the flashing eyes and appreciative catcalls of a few of the girls. He high-fived Morrison and grabbed a beer nonchalantly from the fridge. All he had to do was sit back and wait for the encroaching darkness of the club, where the alcohol and jubilation of freedom from normalcy would kick in. He could tell that there would be some shots involved, some freaking, some sandwiching going on tonight.

After the beers were summarily polished off, it was time to head out. Marissa was already getting loud and stumbling a little on the 5 block walk. Crispin made sure to stay at the head of the group, knowing that his ass looked pretty good in his red jeans. He could sense a good vibe emanating from Menala, a quiet girl with funky earrings and great calves. So when they got in the club, he made sure to sidle up to her at the bar. But even with the coating of liquor on his tongue, Crispin found it difficult to establish anything substantive via verbal engagement. He needed to ply her with his body language. “C’mon, let’s dance,” he told her, wrapping the boa around her neck. She smiled reluctantly but followed him, her straightened hair tied back around her ears.

Stay tuned for the further adventures of Crispin on the morrow. . .

Et Tu, Brute?

Brutus caved in to the unspoken demand in his soul for idleness. His brain told him, take a look at your schedule. You must do this. You must do that. But his soul called out to him for mercy, and he could not find it within him to do much beyond the simple boiling of tea. Perhaps, he thought, this is some form of depression. A lack of motivation, a juvenile internal form of rebellion against the adult demands of the external world. Just let it all go. Let it all slide by. What did it matter?

Brutus required a consistent stream of friends to force him out the door. Otherwise, he would forget who he was, and he couldn’t fathom how he could face the world without any deep set conviction. If someone were to challenge him out there, on the street, how could he muster the passion to reply?

Obviously, he had somehow managed to pull himself together enough to craft the illusion of some kind of put together adult life. He was a fairly successful manager at a bank located so close to his apartment that he could walk there in 20 minutes, and he did, every single morning stopping at the cafe on the corner for his chai. He went out with a loose affiliation of friends from business school and his workplace every weekend. Sometimes they would go out to a club and dance; usually, they took a booth at their favorite bar, Muskee’s, and drank one too many martinis while trying–largely unsuccessfully–to hit on women. He would wake up on Saturday mornings hung over, beset with an inexplicable feeling of guilt and impending doom, which he could only shed after going to the gym and eating breakfast at a diner, where he would sit drinking coffee and reading The Economist until he felt ready for the oncoming week again.

But this weekend had been different. Brutus excused himself from the Friday night outing, on the somewhat legitimate claim that he had extra work he needed to finish over the weekend. But he hadn’t touched the work. He had sat listlessly in his apartment, so idle that he couldn’t even bring himself to put on a CD to break the silence. He sat there in his boxers, drinking his tea and staring at the floor.

So he elected to give in to it. He allowed it to overtake him. He sat there in the darkened gloom of the impending evening without turning on the light. The extra work could plausibly be extended into the week; it didn’t have to be finished this weekend. This felt like a throwback to his undergraduate days, when he would skip class and waste the day playing video games or drinking beer, doing absolutely nothing in some kind of child-like defiance to the demands of the inhumane strictures of the civilized world. It could also have been called laziness, but it was more than that. Something inarticulate and hidden. Something so unlikely to find its way into expression that it fizzled out instead into impotent idleness.

Was this his natural proclivity, perhaps? To drift purposelessly in some limbo of spirit? And the illusion of his daily life was only some type of caving in to the pressure of normalcy? Too many questions. It was better simply to sit, thinking nothing.

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.

Cosmic Waves

The wind blows soundlessly through the seeming void between objects in its relentless, unguided reflection of movement, its invisible transaction in the perpetual and progressive altering of states. At some point in the continuum, the soft brush of its passing moves through and beyond our globe, gently upsetting delicate and almost unquantifiable electromagnetic balances. Cows stomp their feet and low in the subtle agitation of their species, uncertain momentarily which way to face as they chew, huddling together in all manner of disarray, heads butting bony hindquarters, against the disruptive forces of the unknown beyond. The cities hum along in their rote activities, transport and commerce tireless in its industry. The dense thicket of humans, condensed into vertical and three dimensional enclaves, branching upward and out into the canopy of the atmosphere, senses little, if any, overt disturbance. Alcoholics set on stools in their accustomed midday dives perhaps sit up straight for a minute, looking about them blinking in consternation, uncertain of where the clairvoyance of cosmic disturbance lay. They order another drink, slumping back down into their slow girding for oblivion.

Near the intersection of 124th and Lenox Avenue, a girl on the cusp of adolescence stands against the wall on the sidewalk sobbing disconsolately into the palm of her hands. She bends at the knees, crouching over like the pain inside of her is almost too much to bear. Locals glance at her as they pass, uncertain whether to intrude or leave her to her personal and private turmoil. The heat and humidity of the day spurs them onward, however, everyone eager to escape the reflecting heat of the sidewalks and streets.

Lina is unaware, exactly, of what prompted this despair, so overwhelming that she could not stop it even out in the street in front of everybody. She had been walking home after hanging out in the park reading a random book she had picked out in the library. She had been attracted by its bright but melancholy cover; Love in the Time of Cholera. It was a bit confusing, but its descriptions were lovely, and she enjoyed its tragic romanticism. Sitting in the shade on a bench in the swamp-like heat of summer, she had felt transported physically into that unnamed tropical Caribbean city.

As Lina walks, she enjoys noticing details that normally don’t warrant a split second of attention, details that are oft taken for granted; cracks in the sidewalk that form like fissures from earthquakes; from what stress, from what shifting, breaking commotion did this particular crack arise? What moment in time gave to this panel of concrete its wrinkled, broken face? She traces the patterns of fire escapes with her eye, noting the juxtaposition of their diagonal descending with the horizontal steadfastness of rectangular windows. The cryptic splashes of graffiti, competing signs of territorial display, unintelligible except but to the underworld author and his nemesis. The constant urban battles of voices straining to be articulated out of invisibility, to stand out in the midst of the crowd, to be discovered, contested, to call and wait for a response out of the unknown.

She had been walking just like was her norm, reveling in the quiet details of her world, when she was stricken with the sense that all of what she could see was a farce, a mask of something completely alien and foreign to her understanding. For a moment, the veil was rent, and she gasped in terror at the vision of a universe of mute indifference to her personal, formative grasps at knowledge.

She was overwhelmed by a sense of utter, hopeless loss and despair. The tears came like a flood before she had even known what hit her, and she reeled, stumbling, over to the wall, barely conscious of the outside surface world any longer. All of the world, she felt, was suffering, was wave of pain after endless inarticulate pain, never to be overcome. She could only shudder in horrified acceptance, weeping in open defeat. Disconnected images flashed through her mind’s eye, seemingly connected only by the thread of her disassociating consciousness. Her mother, a tree, the local weather anchorman, a cruise ship, the planet earth from outer space, a dog she had seen yesterday, the postman, a brick wall, the texture of grapes, sliding, wet orbs of matter, a fungal infection of the skin. . .

Lina knew that nothing would ever be the same again. A breach in the everyday world had occurred. After a while, her sobs lessened in intensity, and just as quickly as it had come, her sorrow dissipated, leaving her hollow and tired. She blew her nose into a napkin and wiped around her eyes, looking shakily upwards into the deafening quiet of the sky. Birds twittered noisily in the harbor of a tree in an art deco apartment courtyard. She stepped back into the converging helical motions of the city.

A Sunset

Sunset in Santa Marta

Every day the sun sets, and the people walk down to the wharf to watch it, snapping pictures with their cameras and cellphones, their arms encircled about their loved ones, their dogs sniffing each others anuses. Sea birds float above the water, seemingly conforming to the dips and crests of waves with their bodies like silk stretches against the curves of a leg. Joggers pant gently past the scattered sets of sun watchers along the beach as professional photos are arranged of a freshly married bride and her groom standing on a rock against the deepening red-purple-orange of the sky. The colors blend crisply into each other, glistening across wispy sheer clouds draped along the horizon. A mysterious and large ship sits as a blackened speck alongside the sun as it drops into the sea. Everyone is watching, conscious at some level of the seconds that slip so long so fast as the sun glides downward into dusk. Waves swoosh into the shore, swishing against the rocks, a seagull calls, a woman in spandex pants stretches against a pole, and the sun inches towards a singular point of deafening light, fading then suddenly into green absence with an almost audible splash. The people slowly disperse, couples huddled together against the cold back to their cars, as the sunset fades into the subdued hues of evening.

Fragment

Jasper climbed the ivy-strewn wall to his third story window. It was wholly unnecessary, but more fun—and exercise to boot. Unlatching the window was somewhat of a delicate task whilst clinging to the window frame with a few fingers and toeing in on the sill while attempting to slide the latch up from within with a folded piece of cardboard that Jasper kept tucked into his wallet for this very express purpose. It took balance, focus, and patience. The window thus opened, he swiveled into his room and threw on a compilation of Bjork that he had made over the weekend. It had been a good day—he had studied two chapters of Arabic grammar after work while nursing a local micro-brew at his favorite bar, and he had also read a 1/3 of his Gabriel Garcia Marquez autobiography during lunch. At work itself, he had had a very meaningful conversation on metaphysical philosophy with Liz, the new secretary under Brommerman, and obtained her cell-phone number. He had also taken three full, swiftly executed dumps throughout the day. It had been a wonderful day. A home-cooked meal of fish and curry at his friend’s apartment for dinner, followed by a half-hour session of shisha smoking and conversation, with small glasses of port. Then a quick, quiet dusk lit bike ride home, and a climb up to his room.

Jasper brushed his teeth and watched himself in the mirror. He never saw the same person twice.

A Dialogue: the Wick and the Carpenter

(1996)

It feels as though it is going to rain. As follows from that fact, it is also cold and darkly silent. A man in a grey overcoat steps out of an unremarkable grey house in the suburbs and walks briskly down the driveway, led by a little black dog that is trembling with excitement. The man stops suddenly and looks up at the overcast sky as if sensing for the first time the imminence of rain (although he obviously knew beforehand, as shown by the overcoat). The dog pulls impatiently on the leash and whines. The pair walk down the street together hurriedly, most likely trying to avoid the rain before it hits.
“Red! How goes it? Looks like we got some rain coming our way. Did you hear about the collapsing of the bridge? The collapsing of the bridge? All the children have gone insane. The flowers are melting into pools of wax too hot to touch. The rain is just what we need, just what we need; hopefully it won’t get too rough for the repairman out there.”
A bird falls lazily out of the sky onto the sidewalk. Red jerks his dog away from the bird and waves to his neighbor and continues walking. The sky grows darker and the silence grows pregnant with expectancy. Red threads his way carefully around pools of hot wax.
A child runs out of some hole in the sky and approaches Red with a smirk on his face while stomping gaily upon wax puddles as if they were mud. “Hey, mister,” the child shouts before turning abruptly into a piece of string sticking upright in the wax. Red’s little black dog whines and begins to lick at the string. The strings shakes and quivers and then finally pops back into the child, who promptly begins giggling, “that tickles, cut it out!” The dog’s stumpy tail waggles furiously in delight. “Animals always break through appearances,” the child tells Red in a matter-of-fact tone, the kind of voice children use when they are trying to be grown-up. The little boy scampers up onto Red’s back and seats himself comfortably with his arms around Red’s forehead.
“Now it all makes sense!” the little boy says cheerily, looking about at the world from his new perspective, “Everything is clear and simple. If you people would just let us see it from here more often, we would be able to understand everything even better than you could.”
“You don’t seem so insane to me,” Red replies, continuing on his walk as before, down the sidewalk.
“Who said anything about insane? If anyone’s crazy here, it would be you. Like how about that blue vase?”
“What?! How did you . . . “
”And the smoke rising out its translucent belly? With the cubist yellow background? C’mon! Who else would think of such a thing!”
“I . . .”
“You . . . always distorting things! Always hiding behind abstractions and intangible walls! What are you trying to get at? All you do is confuse me!”
Red stops as the little black dog does his duty on a little square patch of withered grass. Red mumbles something incoherent to the winds and then his face lightens up suddenly. “It’s like when you look at an ocean at sunset or . . . or when you want to say something but you can’t, like when you wake up in the morning and remember your dream and you know that there was something there, something that you knew while you were there . . . do you know what I mean?”
“I guess so,” the child says grudingly.
“And your throat gets all thick and you clench your fist and you know, you just know that something is there, is behind everything . . . and your soul, you soul gives this little leap . . . ”
“Wait just a second! Your soul? Your soul!”
“I mean, your heart . . .”
“No, no no! Don’t try to slip out of this one! I heard you say quite clearly, ‘your soul.’ You said, ‘your soul!’ the child says triumphantly, “So, getting a bit spiritual now, are we?”
“Well, and so what! Alright then, your soul, damn it!” Red yells as he begins walking again, “Your soul feels as if it were trapped within that infinite nutshell and it feels as if it were happy and sad all at the same moment!”
“And there you go again! What kind of contradiction is this? Always distorting things!”
“What do you want, the devil take you?!” Red splutters, fuming, before he catches himself and shakes his head about–much to the chagrin of the child, who hangs onto Red’s ears. Red helps the little boy off of his shoulders and they walk hand-in-hand. Thus calmed, Red walks in silence a little further before speaking again. “Well, I know what you want. You want happily-forever-after’s and Disneyesque epilogues. You want the redemption, the infinitely merciful judgment, the darkness and the light. You tell me that we separate things with abstractions–well, you separate things with simplicity. And so what if I do think of a translucent blue vase with smoke rising from its belly, with a cubist yellow background? Stevens had his blue guitar; Bishop had her volcanoes; Dostoevsky had his Karamazovs. We are all struggling in our universes within glass walls, forming our own realities based upon distorted perceptions.”
The child stomps his foot and whines, “But it’s because of you that we are simple! If you would let us see instead of covering everything up, we would know everything! It is you, you who have made us this way!”
Red stops and turns to the child. “But you and I cannot see the truth. Sure, you can see the hazy glorifications of innocence and the puerile basement upon which we are all built. And I can see the moody debasement of experience and the jilted heights to which we aspire. But none of this adds up into one, meaningful, absolute equation. There are always the spaces between our selves and each other for which we can never quite account. We all see through our own lenses, and everything is the struggle to bend it all into as broad a reflection as possible.” He lifts the child and kisses him upon his forehead, and the child turns into a string again, then falls down into Red’s mouth.
The rain begins to fall. It is a cold rain, a sheet of polished metal slamming into the ground like nails. The man in the grey overcoat scurries quickly back the way he came, tugging the reluctant little black dog along. At the foot of his driveway, the man pauses and scans the distant, gloomy horizon. “Ah, the bridge–it’s been fixed,” he murmurs, lost in thought.
A bird flutters like a flame through the rain and slips across the smoky blue sky like a dribble of hot wax. A yellow glint of sunlight arranges itself somewhere beyond the clouds, preparing for the post-storm flash of unburdened calm. The warm scent of flowers begins to wend through the air.

Rich’s Run part I

Somewhere, at some specific point in time, continued in a certain movement of rhythm and counterpoint, the story must be begun. Really, it could be begun anywhere, and ended anywhere. When viewed from the outside, life seems quite full of wonder and magic. But when we’re down in it, suffering, struggling to get by day-to-day, we are largely unaware of how we could appear to any observing distant eye that might chronicle our alien lives, moving in our strange, tragic and beautiful bubbled existences.
Rich had been artfully picking his nose, immersed in his book of fantastical tales of flying dragons and arrant knights. Absentmindedly, he flicked the collected and rolled booger out into the room somewhere, to fall unseen into the dense foliage of carpet, and ground eventually into a kind of composted veneer of dust and grime. Perhaps there were invisible creatures living in that forest of synthetically spun filaments, creatures that were hunting through the basin of grid-like matting, and that spotted the meteoritic falling from the sky, heralding its coming with cheers and a wild dashing to plunder this fateful bestowal of organic matter for their Queen. They might lift chunks of golden, green-red snot to the heavens in gestures of gratitude before carrying them, one by one single-file, back to their warrens at the outskirts where the carpet meets the wall, only to offer them in supplication to their Queen. The Queen would sample a choice, juicy morsel with her microscopic tendrils, and would gleefully grab immediately for some more. Then, mouth filled with chewy tenderness, she would magnanimously bade her underlings to feast and dine at will . . .
Rich heard a noise out in the front hall that made him sit alert, mouth in mid-chew of a chocolate chip cookie stolen from the (supposedly) hidden stash in the top cabinet. He sat waiting to hear if another noise would occur again. One strange noise was not enough to warrant freaking-out status, but two noises definitely were. He waited for minutes. He was beginning to relax and chew again. But then there was another one, unmistakable, a creak in the wooden flooring in the entryway that always creaked when you stepped on it. Rich’s parents were gone: his father was at work, his mother out “running errands.” So Rich was on the alert, as he always was when left home alone, for any intruders, such as murderers, thieves, and little boy snatchers.
Holding his breath, he slipped out of his chair in one movement, knowing that to attempt to move too slow would only make the floor creak. In sock encased feet, he traversed out of open view from the entrance into the dining room, creeping down through the side hallway and into his bedroom. He was an expert at closing and locking his door silently, having perfected the skill when he stayed up late one summer and decided that he would lock his door every night after his parents had gone to sleep, as a protective measure against nighttime forces. Then he would unlock it again as soon as he awoke in the morning, using the same swift, silent movement. As in moving over creaky floors, it entailed a single continuous stream of motion to make it silent. Any hesitation or uncertainty made noise, Rich had learned through constant training.
He moved to his sliding-glass door and opened it slowly. It made noise, but with his door closed and the intruder still feasibly creeping up to the dining room, it would not be heard. He stepped out and slid it shut. Now he was in his domain, the backyard. There were all kinds of pathways and hidden places here that only Rich knew about. He utilized one of his “secret” passageways now, crawling through the shrubbery to where he could see into the dining room, where he had been seated only moments before, obliviously chewing a soft and moist cookie and reading about dragons. Through the sun reflected windows, Rich could barely make out a dark form moving slowly, seemingly directly towards the path which Rich had just taken. It passed by his cookie plate and book, and momentarily turned it’s head; suddenly, Rich could see clearly it’s face for the space of a moment. All he retained was the impression of pale white skin and large oval black eyes, monkey-like, otherworldly. The form then moved back into the darkness of the hallway and out of sight towards Rich’s bedroom. It frightened him incredibly. It was one thing to know for certain that there was somebody in the house; it was quite another thing to know that that somebody looked like an alien monkey, and seemed to be searching expressly for him.
Rich knew that there was little time. He got onto his feet and made a dash, continuing to bend low to keep beneath the line of shrubbery, until he got to the fence, where he already knew of a method of swinging onto an overhanging branch into the neighboring density of trees, such that he went over the fence and plopped over onto the other side in the dirt without being seen or making much noise. He had perfected this maneuver when he played at being a ninja with his pal Jimmy during his early elementary school years. It certainly came in handy to have such a streamlined escape route, Rich now realized. There was no way that the alien monkey would know of to follow him this way . . . unless the alien monkey could smell or see his tracks with some otherworldly sense. Rich felt a chill and increasing sense of panic. Now it was time to run.

The Eye in the Middle of the Storm

In seconds of self-awareness, Janet felt bliss in the middle of all of the noise. It was as if all this anxiety, madness, fear was designed just so as to enhance and demarcate clarity in the moments when it came, crystalline, dew-dropped, silent before the storm. There was no denying that even in her weakest, most insecure of times, Janet still knew that she was beyond all of it, beyond the stifling imposition of other’s jealousy or indifference, beyond her own vanity and ever-shifting self-image; she was somewhere already still, sitting neatly next to the stream, taking it all in, letting it all wash away of its own accord. Like a sieve, like a net of the heart, a purity that dirt could run through untouched. All that would be left of herself in the end were these treasured moments of beauty, when the light focused through her and everything she was and everything that she touched was perfect, in tune with everything that is. Then the light faded and she became human again, petty, insignificant. But the diamonds were there, hidden, nestled into the back of her heart, and she waited inside of herself quietly for the moment when the treasures would become illuminated into the outer world again.

Janet knew that these moments could be sustained, lengthened, and increased in frequency. But she also knew that she could not produce them herself out of thin air. She had to learn patience, and learn how to open herself to the light when it came showering down into her face. It seemed that the more that she relaxed and allowed herself to be herself, the more frequently that she felt ecstasy.

All of the noise, the fear, the anger, the gossip, the taking for granted, the holding onto things, the materialism, the fake spiritualism, the pseudo-intellectualism, the superficial, the one-dimensional, the apathy . . . all of it added up to barriers between herself and her own heart. She was already free, if only she listened correctly. The knowledge was there, flagrant, demure, unappealing direct and simple and baby-soft and harder than steel.

Janet slipped out of her seat on the bus and stood swaying calmly in the stuffy heat of a Phoenix afternoon. The double doors pulled apart, hissing, and she dropped down the steps with gravity like water, centered, moving with music and light. A man stared wonderingly after her, his hand looped in a supportive strap, craning to look through the graffiti strewn window. She had something that he could not see.

City Story III

Jara looked at herself in the mirror, contemplating her curves, acknowledging her beauty. She touched up her eyebrows and slipped into her heels and walked the 8 blocks to her job, brushing by distant strangers rushing to their destinations. The sounds of the city street, a world immutable in its reality, untouchable in its concreteness. Men who hadn’t bathed in months curled into darkened entryways, pigeons stepping blithely out of footsteps with their heads penduluming and mindless. The smell of grease and tar and eggs and somewhere too the ocean in the breeze, and the trees in their square enclosures, all mixed into something indefinable and filled with some kind of ache and loneliness and excitement. Anything could happen, but you kind of knew that it wouldn’t; and even if it did, somehow it would be just like something that had already happened before.

Jara opened the door, catching the sun streaking across its mirrored glaze, and stepped into the air-conditioned lobby, into another sense of manufactured space and scent, a world created to address the chaos outside, an answer to its immutability. Here in this corporate structure the world was exactly as it had created itself according to a law that subsumed and consumed humanity. Nothing mattered, nothing was of value except as it pertained to money, to money that grew endlessly. The people within reflected this demand and were judged accordingly. How expensive the shoe, how much the gym, how big the ego, how connected the family.

But sexuality was acknowledged, albeit grudgingly, to have a force and power which of course was linked also, somehow, to money. A women’s genetic traits as symbols of the fruits of money. All of this available only to the highest bidder. Jara knew how to use what she was God given to play to these moneyed mentalities. They thought that they could have anything they wanted. Let them think that. And then give them nothing.

She flirted, she made loud jokes, she went out drinking. She would let them buy her dinner. But this was where she stopped. She knew that her limited power could only be wielded through the subtlety of suggestion. To allow anyone to fulfill their fantasy of ownership would be to lose all of that power. She would become just another thing, another product, another backroom story. For now, she was unattainable, and thus desirable, and thus powerful.

But people always attempted, of course, to bring her down in other ways. Insinuations about her ethnic heritage, snide comments about her upbringing. But she knew that with these things, too, the greatest weapon was her indifference and mystery. She had made the mistake at first of telling stories about her childhood, before she learned the hard way that anything that she said that was true would be used against her. Now she kept her true self and history hidden from these people. She would talk about current events, the weather, fashion, arts, food. Anything but about herself.

Distant, cold, mysterious, well-attired and full-figured. They all wanted her. They all wanted to tear her down into a powerless, sexed, insecure mess. They wanted her to act like something that they could buy. Something they could use and throw away and forget about in their quest for something else they could never have.

Depressions in the Landscape

On the cusp of a vast depression in the earth, the water flows from slowly melting snow, gravity pulling it downward inevitably into a standing pool that will reflect the sky. Here birds and deer gather to drink, disturbing quietly the still pond. Here at one point in time sit some hikers, refreshing themselves from Nalgenes as they take a respite from 10 miles of rocks, mosquitoes, and uncertain unmaintained trails. The sun bakes the trees, rooted down below rock, suckling sustenance from reservoirs beyond the grasp of human immediacy. The clouds shift in thin rails across the blue, distant and cold in another atmosphere. A chickadee forlornly repeats its ancient refrain of hope, honed into a dirge of spring. The hikers speak of past lives in cities, jobs that stripped them bare of idealism. Office cubicles, running down alleyways and biking through intersections. Of women laid and never caught. Of families strewn on the rocks of Victorianism. Of drug exploration and growing up without expectation.

There is nothing that can compare to the silence of the sun beating off of a landscape as unhumanly manipulated as possible in this day and age. Other than the vast network of trails formed, and the overly rapacious chipmunks developed, and the condensement of trees from lack of fire. But to sit next to this collection of mountain water, and to drink, and discuss. There is nothing that can really be done except to eventually fall silent, and to observe. The hikers do just this, and a jet blows across the sky thousands of miles above, and a lizard scurries from rock to rock to find the declining naked sun, and ants are busy on the treelimbs above, transporting tidbits of food.

It really takes this distance from everything, sometimes, to fully almost realize just how intimately connected you are to everything. Like you have to step away, step far up on a mountain, step far down into some deep abyss, in order to detach yourself from what you normally conceive as yourself, to gather fully the larger context. To look beyond the chains that bind you to your circumstances to realize that the circumstances are only bound by what you can perceive. And that perception can only expand with distance. And retaining this afterimage as you descend back into civilization, the hikers take off their backpacks and throw them into the bed of the truck, and they start it up and disappear down the windy bumpy road into the messy, noisy interstitial madness of humanity. They meet up at a bar later that week and find that they are silent, unable to word their sudden difference, silent mourners nursing single beers in the half light of dusk on the patio, watching the sun setting behind a distant mountain range unseen.

The water falls without purpose, without creed. The mountains are raised by turbulent unseen depths. The stars shine out of death. Humanity is guided by what cannot be fathomed. By what cannot be mapped. By hearts as distant and beautiful as ice capped mountains melting into wildflowered meadows in the spring.

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.

Flash Writing for the Astronaut Collective

The Astronaut Collective is a monthly occasion when a theme is presented and anyone who wants to contribute has an hour in which to come up with a piece of work reflecting their spontaneous output of said theme. This is the piece I wrote for the latest A.C. expedition, with the theme of impulse (also found here):

On a whim, Loopy turned off onto a sidestreet he had never ventured down before called Juniper on his walk home from work. It led him to a little Mexican food joint, where they served burritos from a sliding glass window in a faded blue building the size of a trailer home. It was called Super Burrito. It was meant to be. Loopy could smell the refried beans before he could hear the steady fuzzy polka beat of ranchero blaring over the Super Burrito radio.

He ordered the standard Super Burrito, sour cream, cheese, rice, beans, carne asada, lettuce, tomato, salsa. He dabbled hot sauce into the gaping mouth of his gargantuan burrito between every bite, and had the thing demolished within 20 chomps. It was pretty good. The last 1/3 of the burrito consisted largely of grease, but he just couldn’t stop wolfing it down even though he was stuffed. He belched softly into his mouth and then looked around as if newly awakened, noticing a pretty Mexican girl sitting at one of the tables across the fake green turf talking on her cell-phone. He caught her eyes, and knew prospects were good when she looked away and fiddled with her hair and then looked straight back at him while chatting swiftly away in Spanish. Loopy pulled a paper napkin from its tabletop container and carefully wiped the remainder of beef and Cholula from the corners of his mouth. He sauntered up to her and waited for her to put down her cell-phone. She talked for a minute or two longer, watching him, never taking her eyes off of him until she said “Adios” to her friend and flipped it shut.

“Hi,” he said, suddenly laughing at the silliness of the whole thing, unable to find anywhere to begin. Luckily, this loss of poise and purpose broke the ice, and she laughed too. Everything was understood, without speaking. They were young, full of life, and both had eaten phatty burritos within minutes of one another. Suddenly conversation was easy. Loopy sat down at the table and they talked for what seemed like minutes but turned into a half an hour, and the Super Burrito was closing. The Cholulas were collected from tabletops, napkin containers rounded up, the window slid shut. And then Loopy was suddenly unsure, as always, of when and how it should end. Should she be invited out now, or was that too soon? Should he simply settle for an e-mail, or a number, and stroll on back down the way he had come by such happenstance? He sat in silence uncomfortably for a minute, and she relished this, allowing him to wallow just a little bit longer, seeing how true he was, how unguarded his inner workings. He would be more than just a night of drinks. She took his hand and wrote down her number on it and kissed him on the cheek.

He walked back down Juniper stepping sideways every now and then to ease out a Super Burrito fart, excited about his place in the universe, amazed at how some kind of force of god had led him so impulsively to love, to his destiny contained so mundanely in a Mexican burrito stand. And now he must wait, deliciously, until the right moment will come again to proceed to the next unknown pathway to the heart.

The Night Horn

100_0646.JPGA horn blows from atop a mountain through the valley, sonorously rebounding across the snowy ridges, and a boy awakens in the night to find himself not at all sleepy, although he had been utterly exhausted when he went to bed. He climbs out of the sheets and fits himself into warm clothes and sits for a while in the darkness, listening to the horn blowing intermittently, a sustained deep note, perhaps only of some hippie stoned at a ski resort, working the night snowmaking shift. Whatever the intent of the blower, it is beautiful and mystical all the same, this long horn blown across the slumbering mountain town like a pagan call to arms, or an islam call to prayer. As the echoes trail off into ridges beyond, finally into silence, the space is blended back into the stream sounds of cars passing on the highway. The boy stretches out on the living room carpet like a cat and feels how he is only a temporary inhabitant of his own body. How he is in some sense akin to the breaths that dilate and distend his lungs, to the sounds of the lonely horn across the mountains and the silence that it leaves–an emptying and filling that are both equally hollow, equally meaningful, equally dependent on each other for continuance.

He had walked past his grandfather 2 weeks ago in an open casket, and saw how empty his body was, how withered and frail and blue. But just the day before he collapsed in the living room, grandpa had been telling sea stories and waving his pipe through the air like a wand, filled with life and insight, laughter and kinetic silence. There is now that space of energy missing in the house, the space that he didn’t even know was there until it was gone. The boy misses his grandfather incredibly, and feels strongly the emptiness in his heart. An emptiness that parallels his own aliveness, that runs concurrent with how aware and awake he feels at this very moment in the middle of the night. His grandfather has left behind his body like a breath leaves through a mouth. The boy breathes in and feels how his life is somehow inseparable with death, with his own death, with his grandfather’s death. How every movement, breath, and thought is tied equally to its opposite in some unknown world without forms. How every object has a shadow in the sun. How every event has a cause, and an effect. How everything in the universe, it seems, is one giant organism, intertwined, tangled, and slouching towards its omega point.

The boy listens to the passing of the cars for a while longer, thinking nothing. Then he says goodnight to his grandfather and crawls back into bed and sleeps deeply, until the smell of maple syrup will awaken him to the day.

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.