Never mind, he thought, fuck this banquet. My friend is always celebrating stupid shit and rubbing in every little hickey he gets from lovers or extra chicken McNugget he gets from McDonald’s to all the people he knows. Fuck him.
A cube of marble with arms, a chest, stomach, legs and feet with none of the ripples and bumps of a completed piece. He was a block.
It’s not a question of purpose. To treat purpose like some treasure to be found with or without a map is to take away ones own intrinsic value. I believe, for me, it is a matter of finding what is next. What will be. What may be, if I simply try.
Everything was imagined from mythical beasts to majestic feasts. Yet he could not conjure her, even in his own memory. She would not appear in his imagined world.
I put her clothes from the hospital in the hamper and sat on the bed. What were all those forms I needed to fill out? What were those phone numbers I had to call? Why did I put her clothes in the hamper?
“Turn, bend over, spread your cheeks and cough.” He paused and looked at the other freshly imprisoned men complying. His clothes black with a strip of white, wadded up on the floor behind him.
I knew she was just extending a guilty hand. I looked around the yard and spotted chains and a lock on the lids of their trash cans.
I was terrified to breathe. What I had considered a burbling brook a few minutes ago seemed now like a turbulent vortex. It started to rain.
“PANCAKES! Pillow-y spheres dripping with melted butter and sweet maple syrup. What do you think of that.” The private looked up at the sky, as if the clouds would fall down onto a plate and the heavens would rain down syrup.
Milton scratched his nose, perhaps it was the waft of fecal matter, like the sudden chill of a ghost passing through the living, or perhaps he was reminding himself that he thought too much.
Then some priest was like, I’ll pray about it. For all we know he’s still doing that.
The sensation was of wallflowers. Becoming a part of the scenery, the background, a decoration that’s been hanging for so long it’s lost all meaning. A ghost viewing life but not able to live. She leaned back, her mouth open, her eyes only slits. The needle stayed in her vein.
When she closed the glass door of the lighthouse, for a moment, there was only silence. Silence and the spinning light.
I flagged down the waiter for another Sangria and sat, trying to figure it out. All this raw emotion and rush of feelings but I was alone. In younger days it was easier to identify my feelings. This is happiness. This is regret. This is anger. As I grew older, the feelings tied themselves to memories and experiences, making it harder to untangle one emotion from another.
She drove, her hands ten and two, no radio, stopping at every light, keeping two car lengths between the vehicles in front. Textbook safe driving. We pulled up to a bakery and she said, “get out.”
I took a long pull from the cigarette. With no filter, the smoke punched a hacking cough out of my lungs. I choked it down to hear the rest of Father Ibsen’s sermon.
We had talked about shutting off the world many times and he was a few days and a couple details away from freedom. Tracking time in cigarettes and answering only to his bodily functions.
He looked up at the faces of the other guests. Nodding, smiling, winking, head-tilting, lip-biting, red cup sipping, arm touching, eye fluttering, eye fucking, and jealousy. Bob noticed it all in those faces. He took a deep breath and downed the rest of his drink. What was he doing there?
Something like thirty cubicles span the space between me and this RJ character, so why is he unloading his life on me? His badge! I can glance at the name on his employee badge. I look down at the usual badge holding locations. Shirt pocket. Damn. Belt loop. Shit.
I walked in the front entrance of the institution where crazy lived. Outside crazy was called normal. Inside it smelled like rubbing alcohol. In the waiting room, everyone’s hair was shiny and thick. The bags under their red eyes reminded me of how I felt every morning.
Sykes thought about this face being cleaned up. The Diener picking out teeth, shards of glass, and chunks of carrot from the skull turned bowl now holding onto the pulp of the man’s features.
Today is Easter Sunday. I won’t survive, however, if I can’t do this high or a little drunk. One of the two days out of the year in which the church is full. A fact about the faith so laughable I find I cry myself to sleep at the thought.
Though she didn’t move, Sara knew her colleagues were beginning to stand up in their cubicles, like Meerkats on the plain, suddenly aware of the threat of danger.
Sometimes I already know what the message is by looking at the phone number. I know what they want, how much they want, where I should meet them and what time I need to meet them.
“Hair! You’ve lost 37,564 hairs from the top of your head BUT you gained 63 hairs in and around your left ear and 59 hairs in and around your right. You had an increase in your nose hairs, both in number of individual follicles as well as girth of each hair.”
Above his head he held the words which were meant to give his life purpose, the words he was meant to obey.
The man pulled a Mason jar full of water from below the counter and took a swig. His eyes bulged, his cheeks flushed red and he let out a puff of smoke before replying, “well, if you are camping alone, I recommend a pup tent.”
Suddenly my being floated and my world of black exploded into a million pieces of light and color. I floated, my lungs burning. My eyes squeezed tight but the light still stabbing through.
Peter had seen something on TV where a guy used one magnet to move around another magnet that was on the other side of a wall. That feeling of nostalgia was like that, a pulling of something that felt familiar but wasn’t seen.
After the golf session, about 15 minutes of screeching tires, broken glass and honking cars, he drove down to the nicest restaurant in town.
We passed a display with all sorts of symbols. The Christian cross was pointed out as another symbol of irony; a torture device used by the Roman Empire became the symbol of a supposedly peaceful belief system.
I heard people talk about the hippy octogenarian. They say things like “It’s easy to be peaceful when you never try to do anything” or “You don’t get peace without war.”
A club with a pink sign in Miami vice style writing that said “Lazerbeam” only the “m” was going in and out so every few seconds it was club “Lazerbea”, which I thought sounded cooler.
She reached the steps of the temple and started to climb. At the top, a figure dressed in yellow robes appeared. She hoped he would have a bowl of rice and maybe some sake.
The seagull shit was the easiest to get. All we had to do was climb up the masts and scrape the white chips into a cup. The job could even be done without looking.
She was in a foul bate sitting in traffic. Her knuckles were white, gripped around the steering wheel and she was gritting her teeth. She refused to look at the drivers or passengers in the cars all around her.
Jerry’s dead now. Susan came by with a carton of milk that had been in the fridge for two years. She doused him with it. While he was trying to rub away the milk from his eyes, she asked him if he wanted a towel and instead handed him a plugged in toaster.
“For the follicular-ly challenged I have this hair powder. Mix with raw egg, a splash of gin and leave it on your head for two days.” said the medicine man.
“Hey,” said Jerry. “what do you miss most about home?”
“Toilet paper,” said Miles. “As many plies as I want plus folded. Toilet paper.”
The guy who said “follow me” was our tour guide. His outfit would have been fine in the jungle but we were in downtown Los Angeles in July. This jungle required less clothing.
Like collapsing a tent pole, all the bones in my leg broke in a chain reaction; the ankle popped, pushing up my tibia and fibula up into my knee cap with a crunch, bruising my femur and dislocating my hip.
It wasn’t the food that was bad. No, in fact it was quite good, albeit unhealthy. It was the motion of the boat rocking along in the chop of the Northern Atlantic. It would be a wonder if I could finish the meal without a brisk walk to the room while tightening my sphincter, out of necessity rather than for pleasure.
I kept wanting to pull at the flesh of my nose between each nostril. Each touch, however, sent me into an eye-watering, blink frenzy.
The cauldron would be impossibly heavy and hot to carry but she had placed the fire under a steel cart with wheels that could be locked.
“Yes chef!” He grabbed the knife and stabbed it into the cutting board. I flinched and peed a little but nobody noticed.
When I first saw him, he was playing drums for the band that was opening for the band everyone had come to see. His band had some non-conformist dada-esque name like “band” or “music group”, I can’t remember.
I saw thin fingers curl around the lid and slide the top aside. In the distance I could see the two gravediggers taking a break behind a tree. The cherries of their cigarettes marking the end of their occasional laughter.
The consequences? The simplistic torture of eating only garbanzos for the rest of ones life.
“Laundry $5.00 plus a pair of socks, never the same pair, two socks, each from a different pair. Thank you, we appreciate your patronage.”
Have I shown you my bunny rabbit? He’s cute and fluffy and smells so good. Want to pet him?
Oh the smell? That’s just Bugs, except he doesn’t like carrots. Actually he doesn’t keep much down anymore, not since I went on vacation.