stabbing westward against depeche mode in full frontal foosball glory. i remember we took to the stern grey folding chairs against the far wall of the common area and with one thin cylinder of lite beer between us drew exquisite corpse after exquisite corpse until it seemed just as fine to go as to stay, once gwydion had taken down the stage and the band was good and gone. somewhere in that week later you placed a calm leather book in my now defunct sewing bag before i left the house that tom with the maniacal laugh cooked all those steaks in and said i could keep it for two days only. i never knew whether this was journalistic prose or ravenous imagination or an amalgamation of both but to this day the feeling i had when i read it was as rare and maniacal as that laughter and those steaks. i mean this as a great compliment and sincerely hope you still write like this, amanda.
“Things quiet down after one o’clock. The corner newsboys, some of them over fifty, speak sadly of the horses, and the small fortunes they would have made if they had played their own hunches instead of the suggestions of their sincere but annoying friends. Monday’s paper is about Cuba and a murder somewhere. The real news isn’t in Monday’s paper. It won’t be in Tuesday’s paper. It will never be in any newspaper. It has been going on so long that no one is noticing it any more. It is not even a subject anymore, being the fact, the essence of the whole business, and having been forgotten when it seemed too frightening to dwell upon: the maddening desire in the heart of man for precision or death, the possession of all loveliness or complete disintegration.
Only the girls are able to speak of the matter intelligently. They seem to understand how it is, and at two o’clock in the morning they seem to be the only decent people alive. The way they talk, the accuracy of the unprintable language they use, begins to seem noble and eloquent, and they themselves acquire a loveliness that is universal. Up and down the stairs of small hotels, old men and boys. Money is involved, but that is simply because this is a capitalistic society, and because the medium of exchange, even in questions of love and lust, has conveniently assumed the materiality of coin and currency. It is impossible to understand the absolute failure of capitalism until one has studied the manner in which the girls carry love and death to clerks and bookkeepers.”
- william saroyan
the subject of preparation rouses itself in wait of a train which should have arrived eight minutes ago. she is thinking about her day, what of it. it was just another day but she knows he will ask and will not be satisfied to hear it oblique as all the others crowding toward friday. in the getting to know you process they always want to know about your day and know in the way actual listening happens rather than the formation of a sentence and subsequent nodding off into the salad an accumulation of familiarity allows.
oh, how she missed those salad days! the simple ones when much was known, the narratives a morbid stream of candor rather than the fodder set in place for negotiation. who am i? so many sentences to select, stoic appraisal chasing wires slunk chaste beneath the rafters of lackadaisical discourse, syntax strings you had to crawl on your stomach to produce from under the swarm of muck you’d rather be spouting.
it is wise, she had decided, to start with a day, a small thing like this, one perfect day, not so much that you appear to be gloating rather just by happenstance covered with the young flush of accomplishment, the rogue of swift progress in a direction to which previous progress had also been swift, sure, but not so swift as today.
what have we progressed on then? she glanced into her bag for ideas. there was the screwdriver she had borrowed from billie in plain sight, a jewel resting on the pillow of a gnarled calico winter scarf. rubbish. underneath the scarf was a napkin, which unfolded, hid one sentence: “the butcher down the street is making me wild.” perhaps… no. she refolded the napkin, wedging it under a fort of organic cotton tampons.
one stop separated them.
she began to flip the pages of the notebook she was holding at random. other sentences, that’s what they’re for, that’s why i put them seven or nineteen pages back so that in times of strife i can skim my way to victory. she celebrated this remarkable dexterity for the written word with a brief upturn of the mouth’s eastern corners.
the first sentence settled on read like nausea: “the earthquake comes only minutes after we make love for the first time while our hungry voices lay still peering in on one another, clouds of jagged oxygen.” something more general with the capacity to assuage, rather than maul. she continued to rustle the pages. another: “by the end of august, there were enough boars, he wrote, that he felt it would be wise to stop so they could all begin to enjoy themselves the way god intended.”
well, now that was something. she could always talk about the boars. the boars, of course, by way of the traffic circle.
the sentence came from a vignette written there just last week and referenced an imaginary infestation of boars in the oakland area to which people like the girl and an occasional companion known as Someone discussed while sipping mugs of invisible wormwood in the traffic circle. yes, the boars would be an excellent topic for which they might converse. her perfect day was spent with the boars or rather constructing the boars, their gestation period, affluence, travel from astrakhan to the warehouse in east oakland by way of mister cork (a name which would have to be changed at a later date as mister cork was the butcher, the one driving her wild and for whom she wished to slip a secret copy beneath the bloodbath of his apron once it neared completion). yes, swift progress had been made with the boars, more precisely with the story for which the boars were only a small part, and the story itself, another nuance in the grand scheme of the entity book for which all of this was being constructed, the great one that she had more or less spent her entire life writing and referencing when asked the what on earth are you doing question or in this very awkward uncomfortable part of the process before the salad days.
the key was to begin with just the fact of a story, one small, irresistible story that took the afternoon to be worked on and around. if he were anyone worth an interlude, he’d put the rest in order, the what of it, the connotation of this being a vital attribute to seeing her as a whole girl, the inevitable result of this very special listening he would be doing to her careful, eloquent sentences which would suggest only what they should for the purposes of precise observation.
half a stop.
she took notice of her neighbor only then, a magnificent purse of a woman gay with laughter, the funny papers strewn open across the burgeoning lime of her seamless stockings. she stole a glance toward the hand which held the paper down, the one which might provide a clue to such an unrefined monsoon of variegated racket.
surely, her eyes deceived her, the pivotal line askew. it is a fact that it is difficult to follow focus from a distance. after all, an unremarkable angle can leave a great deal to the imagination. no one could be shaking a seat like this over a few frames of cathy.
a quarter of a stop.
the purse looked over, a look with such hungry architecture she felt the strange sensation of sensual pocketing commence upon the decision to meet it.
“hello.” the neighbor whispered, petting the colored squares beneath her jammy fingers. “would you…” she trailed off to a garble, miming the directive.
it was cathy.
she fought the laughter; it was cruel, no way to treat a neighbor. here, the poor woman was positively trembling, the paisley of her blouse in grave danger of giving way to freedom, the mammoth bosoms sailing about the train like a pair of punchdrunk doves. oh, it would be a sight to behold, sure, but at what price?
“i have very little time,” she leveled with her neighbor, separating the cadence into gentle wisps so as not to offend, “less than a quarter of a stop, in fact. hardly enough time to read and summarize that which i have read into one full side of the conversation i would like to have with you. if you would be so kind though, i have a favor of my own to ask. i would like very much to tell you about my day, just one simple day, comprised of a morning and an afternoon and some very swift progress in between. you don’t even need to feel as if you must respond, i’d just like to watch the light your face takes as i go forth with this, if it takes any at all, and that should be plenty. you see, i have a presentation of sorts i’m headed to and i’m rather nervous about whether or not i have my facts straight on this how to make a good impression business.”
all the while she spoke these things she was aware of the quarter shrinking. she could feel it closing in on her almost in perfect synchronicity to the sharp nods of encouragement produced by her neighbor, a nodding which expired as she came up for air, several inconsequential meters beyond the unmistakable hiss and static of yet another voice, a double-crossing, lowdown tone courting passengers throughout the train toward the requisite 40th street disembarkation.
m. to begin construction of this box, i will need to extract from you one (1) address for which electronic litter can be collected and disposed without much suspicion. once i have secured this, i can begin tinkering with the machine and a variety of humorous torches which will allow things to be dropped from a great height without the bottom caving way and the busts of music shattering before us.
to be still in lisbon sounds very fine. pessoa spent almost his entire life shuffling from from one shifty, beat up room to the next throughout the city, seeing little reason to go elsewhere. from thousands of fragments produced in this continual shift he became known as the four greatest portuguese poets of modern times. let this be a lesson to avoid hasty discards.
to whom it may concern,
pessoa, the flâneur par excellence, was not alone in this opinion. johannes climacus was also a dedicated ambulist, a doll for battered suits, and, not coincidentally, the inventor of many mutually critical heteronyms.
in some things there are occluded mysteries. to-day, in names, there are not.
“hey, i’m just going to go ahead and leave this unlocked for right now, lady.” emmett leans in from the porch through the most unseemly window, shards and cobwebs staining his britches from the uncommon stance. “it feels better this way, lady. i won’t be long and when i return, i promise we’ll have zucchini for days.”
emmett is calling to simone, or this is one theory at least, though its been weeks since she lay within earshot.
he stalls until all the chew has spit through his jaw and on a single sheet of shoe printed college ruled he writes, “unlocked. not long now.” and nails it just below the sill. zebra ink, her favorite. he uses three tiny nails for this job secured from the thousands he keeps in the left pocket of his overalls. in the very last minute before darting away, he thinks to use his handkerchief to rub the shoe print clean from the page. no sense in careless fodder for further suspicion.
she’s sleeping very soundly is what he’s decided, a very peaceful sleep with dreams of scaling banyan trees for the company of a coquettish family of songbirds in the furthest reach from the rapacious world below. he pictures a gallant gown suitably bunched around her clothespin waist, garish magenta ruffles indistinguishable from the nest of curls fully consummated just below the left ventricle, ever so gently snoring. for sleep, yes, this is why she has gone from the sitting room, why his voice echoes to all the unremarkable bellows of the house with not so much as a rotten sigh in return.
their last conversation had not been a pleasant one.
there had been things for awhile, collected things that sat in a heap in the corner of his room a few miles down the road that he felt she should know. things he had not told her for one reason or another as the time continued to grow wild like an untamed stalk in their awareness of one another. sometimes it was late when he would lead her home and she took to the mattress faster than he could pull her name into a proper syllabic summons. other times, he got too dizzy from the jugs her father fixed for him after a long days of paint on paint. no point in trying to secure serendipity through a series of slurs, he thought.
the day he told her was a thursday, unfettered by intoxicants, backs to the floor.
by the time he was done, she was upright on other side of the room, the pallor of disagreement stark and wrung through her emerald glare.
“i can’t believe you just told me that,” she was having a difficult time finding a place to put all the air filling her mouth through the hunks of cuticle now painfully dislodged, muting all intent.
“what else was i to do? this business, i thought it should be yours too. i’m very generous in that way.” he had sat up very straight and tried his damndest not to fiddle with any extremities. yet another way he knew to best her.
“well, i don’t want it. any of it.” she mourned the intrusion as if someone very young and pure had drowned just below them. “you should have known. if only you paid attention to me when i was using my language, if only then you would have known. it’s like poison when i hear these things. for heaven’s sake, take it back or at least do your part in covering it up. i’m already tired of looking at it.”
he was so proud, so pleased with the words he had chosen for the telling, the order to which the sentences had sprung, one from another, and the cadence, the enthusiasm which he had allowed to govern the information, now hers, there was no room to imbibe the suffocant of protest she now produced. he went blank, helpless to this erasure. blank then furious.
“i’ll do no such thing.”
an instantly regretted admission.
“i’ll do no such fucking thing.”
silence hung from this while she paced the room through, whispering to herself fragments that sounded like poetry because they came in bursts of a language he knew nothing of. simone ascended the stairs to retire to the bedroom while he stroked the nearest jug for some semblance of calm without so much as a withering appraisal to his position. to follow her would admit guilt, a nuance missing from the sorrow felt at finding her unappreciative, so he remained. it was expected she would come down, perhaps late, for water and brush the knots from his hair until he awoke, a gesture she generally used to acquiesce hours past an argument. the wait for this extended through that night and the next. with little to love about watching a staircase, he became afraid and read every book he could find to tear the thoughts from his head about the things above. makeshift apologies rang from every sound that the world condones yet he could not climb the stairs to offer any of them.
he left after five days of this, returned after six to the window to call her name until his throat bled and he dropped off in a pile with the other dogs that prowled the porch after hours. when six became seven he entered and sat once again in the sitting room, brushing his hair with the fervor only a well trained catastrophe knows. he really should check. just a quick peek. he knew she was sleeping but just to be sure he should take one look, even if she became angry that he did so. i was awfully worried about you, he practices saying with a slight tremolo of concern, the faultless conduit for intimacy once scripted between them.
still, he could never could make the stairs.
in and out of the window to the sitting room now all he can manage. the door becomes a special occasion for time travel on the days he likes to pretend it was just yesterday he was arriving to her with a little block of cheese or begonias like all those other times. “right back, yes. right back. gonna leave it unlocked because i’m coming right back. gotta be there when she wakes up. hoo boy, will she have a lot of hair to brush…” he repeats this to himself on the road to the market.
he’s collecting vegetables for dinner tonight, so close he can almost taste the zucchini.
“hey, sorry, it’s just your mom. can i come in?
well, it’s just that i—-who told you that you can’t be a clown forever?
no, really. c’mon, don’t look down there. you haven’t cared about your shoes before. why start now?
look at me. i bet it was that everett, wasn’t it? you will never BELIEVE what his mother said to me at church last we—- what?
yes, i am still going to church. i have no idea why but i’m still going. perhaps it’s the pews. something about painful seating arrangements has always proved vaguely cathartic for me.
anyway, what was i saying? get your fingers out of your mouth while you listen to me for once, please.
after the service had ended, there i was adjusting the hem of whatever i had dragged on that day when everett’s mother sneaks up behind me with a great boom of a hello. wouldn’t you know i was so startled i dropped my wicker satchel and the entire bottle of klonopin i had floating around in there hit the floor and sma—- yes, i had the whole bottle with me. if you must know, it was slated to be a particularly long service and i worried i might become alarmed halfway through due to excessive perspiration. i had to be prepared.
you should have seen The Look she gave me as i scampered off to collect what was poised to become dust under so many unforgiving heels. i mean, shit happens, right? you don’t always need to go looking at people about every little thing.
it didn’t even occur to me to be embarrassed until i was unearthing a particularly stubborn one from a wad of green gum and looked up again to find her towering over me with that hiss of hers. “ladies don’t bring their unmentionables to church with them.” she says to me, all persnickety like with those fat fingers nervously combing back her lump of blond french braid that had rather abruptly taken a nose dive into what i must admit was some perfectly divine cleavage.
oh, COME ON, give it a rest. she’s got a nice rack is all i’m saying but seriously, the woman is deranged if she thinks she can tell me what sorts of things fall under the category ‘unmentionable’. nobody with a goddamn braid like that is ever going to teach me anything.
anyway, darling, i know you aren’t listening anymore because i can barely hear myself think through the way you’re devouring that peanut butter but the point of all of this is that who knows what she’s filling his head with? fat blond braid thoughts you want no part of, that’s all you need to know so stop thinking you can’t be whatever sort of ridiculous thing you want to be for as long as you want to be it because it simply isn’t true.”
charlesleeray666 6:26 PM
he would complaim about ni air. so i smashed my face instead and thats a different conversation point\\
made a beautiful knot already now it just needs to pop and then evenfooting again
swankybarber 6:30 PM
maybe i’ll understand this story at some point when you’re sober?
charlesleeray666 6:32 PM
i am sober. i hsve to drive somwone to hospital and then go give blooos
and applying for th e cloolest jub but i dont wany you to esat it
swankybarber 6:33 PM
you don’t want me to esat it, huh?
good luck giving bloos.
i hear that’s hard.
charlesleeray666 6:38 PM
ok i wont west your stuff. maybee i esaast it\
swankybarber 6:38 PM
i’m sorry, wany me to esat it, my bad.
you won’t west my stuff?
i thought that was the deal. i wany esat, and you west my stuff. we spit shook on it and everything.
charlesleeray666 6:40 PM
qqq3that is the plan. whennstrart dated and actual dealingds
swankybarber 6:40 PM
qqq3?! well, i never…
do you kiss your mother with that mouth?
charlesleeray666 6:42 PM
i kisss my mother all over with thwt mout
swankybarber 6:42 PM
charlesleeray666 6:43 PM
yeah so dont fuck eith plans
swankybarber 6:44 PM
consider eith plans unfucked.