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The dental hygienist has it bad enough. GOD HELP the scrub who, mouth filled with (probably obsolete) dental equipment, STILL feels the need to speak when spoken to. Keep your eye on the silent, for safety and for guidance. Enjoy overpopulation while it lasts. If things are as bad as they look, you'll look back fondly on the days when human companionship was so easy to come by. I'd take the feral fear over the isolated, insulated cowardice. Hey. It doesn't matter to me, of all people. Just make it quick. And unremarkable. Things fall apart. O'er and o'er again.
No one is judging you. No one really gives a shit. They're all too preoccupied with themselves to have much energy left over with which to feel one way or the other about you. I tell you this because I know. Because I talk to them. I ask leading, topical questions. I solicit information. And they're all so full of myopic, self-glorifying shit it's a wonder they don't sprout buttercups. So relax. Have a drink. Have SEVERAL. Ignore the prying eyes. They're just looking for newly distorted reflections of themselves. There's nothing to fear, at least not from predictable sources.
Having coughed up our cash at the reasonable Sunday matinee price, we drift through the dark cineplex at will and at random, catching some dumb reefer jokes here, the most pleasant slice of a romance there, and a dagger fight (complete with some jarring present day slang) inbetwixt. Soaking up our own chaotic cut and paste American comedy. The raindrops and conversations continue to patter along and we drift oblivious. Someplace else, Julio dozes off, hoping to try his luck at lucid dreaming. He's decided he takes entirely too much shit in his dreams, as it stands. Wants some control.
As, I humbly submit, a contemporary and a brother in arms (not to mention and enormous fan of your work), I hereby request permission to siphon out the soft center of your soul, the stuff by which you've defined yourself. I am currently undertaking a project similar to yours. Identical in spirit, in fact, if broader in scope. You will be cited and continually acknowledged for your contributions, which, as those in pursuit of our sort of specialized knowledge are more often than not completists, will most likely boost the market value of your originals. You will be handsomely compensated.
Simmons found himself crapping out blood again. Not much blood, mind you, but a little is a lot when it comes to finding blood mixed with your shit and seeing burning red toilet paper in your hand. This had happened before. Simmons had been shitting blood off and on since childhood. He didn't know why then and didn't now. He was big on anal hygiene; perhaps he'd wiped or scrubbed out his asshole to damn aggressively. That said, he was no health nut. His putrid diet, some sort of parasites, or some shredded insides could all be involved. Worried him.
The crystal skull will always be a hit at get-togethers. Regardless of whether I ever take that week of seclusion I keep promising myself and learn to throw my voice. Jenny found herself particularly intrigued by the crystal skull. I moved its jaw along with my slow, deliberate suggestions to her, letting the beams of light from around the room hit it as they would. Syncopated my numbing drone of a voice with the music. You can't, after all, make anyone do anything they don't WANT to do, right? Not even a terminally uptight, wannabe action junkie paradox like Jenny.
Man oh man. If they only knew. How confused you are. How detached you are. How deeply, deeply incompetent you are. What an out-to-lunch spaceshot you are. How you sweat and tremble in terror at the idea of them finding you out. Finding out how nervous you are. How disconnected you are. How inarticulate you are with regards to anything genuine. How shallow you are. How you lack anything resembling CONVICTION. Mary, mother of god. You'd be in deep shit if they found you out. They can't find out. They can never know. Stay on guard. Don't tell a soul.
He sits atop a mountain of noble gas. He’s the master of opacity. An ace at ambiguity. Plays warden to the willfully ignorant. And, o! how the simple among us despise ambiguity. No one draws wrath from the righteous quite like this emperor of everything elliptical. You’d almost think he enjoyed it. Though it’s hard to tell what he digs and what he doesn’t. If he can dig it. If he can’t dig anything. Or if he simply chooses not to dig. If he sold his shovel for a sawbuck. It’s all a tad strange. No one quite knows him.
Today, I observed my dad’s band play its brand of southern grotesquerie at Campbell’s in Chester, South Carolina. Find this place, if you ever find yourself in the area. Most of the locals know where it is, if you refer to it as “the old Campbell’s truck stop.” Now it’s a grill and upstart music venue. With an incredibly warm sound system. The banjo tickles your ear canals, I tell ya. There’s a boar’s head mounted at stage rear. Gas pump handles hang from the ceiling. There’s a Hidden Valley sort of atmosphere. Glowing fires burn in trash cans outside.
Brad wasn’t sure if he wanted to get stoned with his dad. The grass looked good. Very green, very potent, he didn’t doubt. Brad’s paranoia wasn’t so fierce when the weed was quality. Brad’s dad had the sort of connections that only a well connected stoner would have. Brad was in a position in his life where he wouldn’t have to hang with his dad at all (for the next few months at least) if sharing a puff with the old man somehow caused their relationship (such as it barely was these days) to go awry. It just seemed STRANGE.
Wendy had a crush. Such an interesting guy. Even for a 6th grader. Most 6th graders are interesting. This fellow was one of a kind. Tucked his shirt in at the front but not in the back. Constantly talking to himself, sometimes audibly, sometimes so that you had to practice reading his lips. Which you had to habitually stare at him to do. Which Wendy did. First in curiousity, then in awe, then with obvious designs. This guy would remain interesting and self-absorbed (and wouldn’t you be an unrepentant solipsist, if you were this kid?) for awhile. Worth the embarassment.
I am a man of more genuine character than you and everyone else you know. Put together. Nevertheless, I can flip my heart on and off like a space heater. I can freeze the blood in your arteries. Please believe me when I say that I know how to kill you and get away with it. Scot free. I have no patience for mind games. I’d rather throttle you until blood squirts out of your asshole. I’ve spent years soaking in the sort of violenece you so gleefully fantasize about. Don’t step within 15 feet of anyone I care for.
We’re in the 20 second window between the time my sheets have first caressed her pale, bare skin and the moment my palms do likewise. Her soft, round tits sag to the sides, as if the bedclothes are employing gravity in an attempt to fondle them. Her peepers pull me in, promissing surrender and collaboration. She flexes her fleshy legs. Her arms reach out. She’s ready to fuck. A siren screams past outside. And I think if I worried about all the worrisome business as much as I could, I could never keep my dick hard. When to suspend empathy?
Don't accept anything for free. That's prison yard ethics 099. Don't take it. Whoever offered it to you has SOME kinda ulterior motive. He'll offer you drugs. Let you sit shotgun in his sedan. Show you his Polaroids of 14 year-old males with shaggy, singed hair and pool cues rammed up their sphincters. Next thing you know, you'll be running from him. Under the influence of downers and psychedelics. Cold shit, padre. Don't take ANYTHING that's free. All that means is that you don't know what it's inevitably going to cost you. But they're your FRIENDS. Gotcha. You'll regret it.
BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH. Many a moon I've had to wait for this date. To give you a cross-country ass-whuppin' and splatter blood state to state. To put toothpicks through your eyeballs and serve ‘em in a well drink. To hear wolverines crying from how bad your bodily fluids stink. To pound in your skull ‘til it's fucked up as sin. Then pull back the minute hand and do it again. So beware the Ides Of March, you know-nothing fuck. Watch your ass. Watch your head. Far better men than you have fucked around and ended up dead. War.
CUTTHROAT. I sink the 9 ball. I choose to represent 1 through 5, as solids are objectively sexier than stripes. I sink the 12 ball. I sink the 8 ball, which pleases me, even though it has no special significance in cutthroat. I think I’ve drawn a pretty sweet bead on the 7, but I miss. Scratch, in fact. As neither of the other two players is much of a purist, I’m not punished as much as I could’ve been. But I do lose my turn, and the other two players, between them, proceed to remove my balls. I’m out.
The lemons dance and sing and meet in darkened rooms filled with cigar smoke to determine which of their own is most gifted and most dedicated and in general most promising and most deserves sponsorship. The floors are freshly waxed and the dice shooters tend to draw 7’s and 11’s and when they draw phoebes or even snake-eyes or boxcars it only serves to fortify their characters and keep them humble. The working men rise with the sun and stop after the third drink, while the women draw on the blacktop with chalk. They draw festive designs. And move along.
Somewhere, a breeze whispers lovingly from the ocean as a black Caddy gets its sixth green light in a row. Somewhere, a 12 year-old buries his old man in a straight-up game of driveway one-on-one. Somewhere, some sad, debt-ravaged dude’s girlfriend finally gets her period. Somewhere, some polluted ghetto is sweetened with a twist of BBQ and freshly cut grass. Somewhere, an indie rock gal in kneehighs and spectacles ceases the namedropping long enough to cut a rug and enjoy herself. Somewhere, an elongated inward breath fills out a previously untouched alley of the lungs. Feels so good it stings.
Carlton sat at the kitchen table with his mouth wide ajar, flicking his uvula around like a punching bag with his calloused index finger. He did this when he would’ve otherwise felt compelled to lie, for whatever reason. It beat biting his tounge. It felt less masochistic and more real. Carlton emitted a low-pitched “Ahhhhhh.” The TV flickered shades of blue. He craned his neck to peer out the window and see if the moon was full, or even just up. The moon put Carlton deeply at ease. He choked on the tip of his index finger. He laughed inside.
The only real problem with most mundane lies is that they’re used for a PURPOSE, generally for ducking some sort of responsibility. An ABSURD lie, one with no possible purpose save perpetuating chaos and rubbing people’s noses in their own fear and confusion, can be fucking funny under the right circumstances. False biographical info (so long as it isn’t for the purpose of self-mythology, which ducks responsibility for one’s own lack of anything fresh to bring to the table), false advertising (so long as there’s no profit motive), playing strangers against each other. Do these things, and enjoy them big.
Smith plodded through his blissful, meaningless existence with a string tied round his index. Had no idea what it was doing there. It was uncomfortable, granted. He would’ve felt better had he removed it. (If only for awhile.) But, as it was, the burning dig into his digital flesh drove him to distraction. Not the sort of distraction that was impossible, even hard, to ignore. He could’ve ignored it. But it drove him up the goddamn wall and out the door every night, looking for booze and easy pussy. Which he usually-to-always managed to locate. And enjoyed. But never relished.
Jeff and Connie always end up fighting in public. Connie doesn’t mind it so much. She has the clear upper hand. Because when Connie and Jeff duke it out in public, Jeff turns into a pathetic, stammering marshmallow of a man. Jeff’s dumb rage paralyzes him in public. Can’t hope for a call from the governor when Connie’s tearing into him, spotling reflecting from her eyes, her friends gathered, ready to offer her moral support should she need it but more ready to see this end, ready to stop soaking up vicarious humiliation from Jeff. Maybe Jeff should stop drinking.
A well-meaning but unremarkable solo acoustic guitarist serenades a happy hour crowd of four, counting us and the barkeep. Sings shit like “Lightning Crashes” and “Hotel California.” Nothing to get worked up over one way or the other. After his first set, he’s accosted by a strain of asshole that runs wild in this town: the plowed, confrontational music scholar. This particular asshole compares our entertainment unfavorably to Woody Guthrie and suggests he’s wasting his time. So our entertainment gets the barkeep to play some weepy New Nashville bullshit and milks everyone for sympathy for the rest of the night.
Toilets runneth over in an Idaho gas station. A wooden snowman boasts a shit-eating grin and a sign offering to "work for freezer space." Patties nuke. A microwave beeps. Hot dogs spin on a Ferris wheel, soaking up dull fluorescence and drone. The customer mumbles directionlessly. The clerk's replies are curt, tinny and laconic. Some purchase fermented honey buns or snacks that don't spell "cheese" correctly so as not to be guilty of false advertising. Me, I buy a cup of watery coffee and some Dunkin Stix. Everyone boards the appointed bus at the appointed time. The bus rolls on.
Over an omelette at Gladys and Ron's Chicken and Waffles, with some quiet storm soul in my ear canals, some potatoes waiting at the other end of my ovular platter and melanin-rich essence in the air (That's Gladys as in Gladys Knight; gold records, gold cassettes and gold CDs decorate the walls. Would a gold record play if you slapped it on the turntable and dropped the needle? Probably not well. Anyway, it's one of Atlanta's finest reasonably priced eateries, and comes recommended), I had a thought: Johns must be far bigger suckers for degradation than whores, whatever the racket.
The balls were naturally created in pairs. The 1 and the 9. The 2 and the 10. And so on. The 8 ball was created last, and was considered the perfection of the idea. It's wisdom, it's soul and its natural empathy came from its sun-baked blackness. And, as outlined in The Isis Papers, it will be the last to fall if the Iceman's pursuit of Total War and Total Power is carried through. But let's be good little optimist. What do we have to lose through optimism? If the 8 survives, the pairs will be reunited. Peace will prevail.
Millicent kept herself busy. It was what she was used to. The last time she spent at complete ease, with no outstanding obligations to cloud her thoughts and block her decompression, she spent in the womb. She hated, HATED being kept overtime. But she wouldn't complain. She could've complained. But opted out of it. She had that rare combination of talent and discipline. Had it in flush spades. And loved to let her talents manifest themselves in many areas, at their many opportunities. Her personal wu wei kept her on her feet. Excelled at self-determination. But longed for total calm.
IT NEVER RAINS IN SANTA OCEANA. It's a sprawling dystopia for whining neurotics. And a playground for the cool, calm and imaginative. A huge, flat surface on which to roll the bones. A breeze whispers from the beach all day every day. A million mini-mall parking lots. A million places to sit on the hood and get high. Used book stores. Quiet pizza joints. Seedy taverns. Drawling, stammering Bukowski wannabes. Grime-encrusted jukeboxes with old jazz and soul tunes that never made it to NYC. Stop-action service jobs you could do in a coma. There's nowhere else I would ever live.
Millicent is missing. Where'd she go? Seething in isolation because some Nazi can't comprehend her ways? Seduced by some shimmering chimera? Where'd she go? Neptune? How's the weather on Neptune this time of year? How's she supposed to go jogging at sunrise if she has to get her frostbitten gams amputated? Is her heart warm enough? What the hell is she up to, anyway? What is she THINKING? How much chump change do I need to scrape together to catch the next train out, to ditch these chump assholes and go drop in on Millicent? Spare a Kennedy half dollar?
50 marshmallow. 49 marshmallow. 48 marshmallow. 47 marshmallow. 46 marshmallow. 45 marshmallow. 44 marshmallow. 43 marshmallow. 42 marshmallow. 41 marshmallow. 40 marshmallow. 39 marshmallow. 38 marshmallow. 37 marshmallow. 36 marshmallow. 35 marshmallow. 34 marshmallow. 33 marshmallow. 32 marshmallow. 31 marshmallow. 30 marshmallow. 29 marshmallow. 28 marshmallow. 27 marshmallow. 26 marshmallow. 25 marshmallow. 24 marshmallow. 23 marshmallow. 22 marshmallow. 21 marshmallow. 20 marshmallow. 19 marshmallow. 18 marshmallow. 17 marshmallow. 16 marshmallow. 15 marshmallow. 14 marshmallow. 13 marshmallow. 12 marshmallow. 11 marshmallow. 10 marshmallow. 9 marshmallow. 8 marshmallow. 7 marshmallow. 6 marshmallow. 5 marshmallow. 4 marshmallow. 3 marshmallow. 2 marshmallow. 1 marshmallow.
You walk under the waning moon. You barely dodge the gorilla pimps and bangers with faces like the moon's surface. You walk into the shitty part of the shitty part of town. You're drunk. Stinking, pants-pissing drunk. Your breath could peel the skin off a Tae Kwon Do master's knuckles. You're humming an old song, in some previously undiscovered or unacknowledged key. Riffing on it. You're a wreck. You're despicable. You owe more than you'll ever know. You're finished in a way you'd be better off not attempting to understand. And you used to have so much going for you.
The Tip Jar