In this episode, I keep getting calls. I sit on my sofa as the phone keeps ringing. It rings for the full 22-minute time slot and the audience can’t stop laughing. It gets so loud that I can no longer hear the phone. When the episode ends, everyone stands and applauds and the ratings skyrocket. I don’t know what happens in the next one but am told it will be even funnier. Someday we’re gonna kill somebody out there.
The man with the plaited goatee and the teardrop tattoo had been hanging around. He was there when I took the children to school. He was there two days later at Alfie Barbagello’s barber’s shop. Alfie was dressed in his immaculate white smock and coke-bottle glasses; he was short-back-and-siding me and giving me the zeitgeist in his staccato English. He’d turned to get his strap-razor from a flask of aromatic brine on the counter, which also contained an assortment of combs and scissors. When Alfie had moved, I saw the man in the mirror, sitting on the row of conjoined seats, a conspiring grin on his face. He was wearing a Russian Navy shirt. I too have a fondness for these shirts, as they represent my interest in both nautical themes and military history. As it happened, I was wearing my stripy top right at that moment. I put it down to coincidence however, his appearance then and there and in the stripy shirt, and I was willing to believe the grin familiar or eccentric or possibly deluded. It seemed odd that a man with a shaved and shiny head would be at a barber shop. But then I conceded he might want a beard trim, or some hot towels and oil for his head, which indeed were his right. I paid Alfie and was happy to enjoy one last whiff of his aromatic brine. I thought no more about the man with the plaited goatee.
The next day I was enjoying a little shopping at The Palace shopping complex. I had bought a set of Russian Dolls; the way they nestle inside one another had always seemed so sublime. From the knife shop I’d bought a crimp cutter, which seemed indispensable the moment I saw it. I was happy to then amble around in the white fluorescence of the shopping mall, looking at the ways that mannequins hold themselves, before settling in the food court to enjoy a plate of colorful Chinese food. I had gotten up to leave when again I saw the man; but now he had hair, the same pepper and salt fleck as mine. Was Alfie doing a sideline business in wigs? I was his closest confidant, and he’d never mentioned anything. It was all quite strange.
The teardropped man was carrying a roll of wrapping paper and skipping. It was quite odd, though rather funny. The security guards were keeping an eye on him. He’d not actually done anything wrong, but skipping was frowned upon in such cases where it lacked context. And yet skipping is the most elegant gesture I know.
The man saw me across the food court, gave me a familiar look, and started walking toward me. I wanted to be rid of him. You see, I’m a rather waifish soul, and quite romantic too, and for these reasons I had been attracting strays for as long as I could remember: humans, that dog at church camp, wayward ideas; other bits of flotsam and jetsam. But lately I had resolved to be more regular, responsible and rational. I had even stopped making animal noises to relieve the humdrum at work; and when René did his best wild-fowl impersonation, and expected a pig or a lamb in response, lately I had remained silent.
So I slipped out of the food court through a service entrance. I passed down four flights of a stairwell, before emerging in a loading dock. The smell of bins and stale air-conditioning ducts. A sprinkler system, painted red, formed an irregular lattice above me. Yellow lines and yellow signs indicated the loading bays and the things that were permitted or not permitted. I passed between two trucks and felt the heat radiating from their still-warm motors; I took comfort in the familiar smell of diesel. Confident that I had evaded the man, I crouched down between the trucks, panting, and I studied the various stains which had claimed the concrete: a crocodile, a hot-air balloon, a dismembered octopus, a Whirling Dervish.
Something imperceptible happened, something like magic, or a perfect crime. I was still crouching on the concrete, but the trucks had gone, and the air-conditioning system had ceased its doleful Phrygian hum. Opposite me, also crouching, was the man with the plaited goatee. He had my old clipboard folder from grade three, with dog-eared corners; my eyes were drawn to these corners, where the red vinyl had peeled away, exposing the neat fillets of cardboard interior. What secrets and fantasies those fillets seemed to contain, as if the wish-fulfillment faery had laid out her oracle between two sheets of red plastic! In any case, those corners provided a convenient focal point for evading the goateed-man’s gaze, which I soon met.
“You denied me three times, like Peter denied Christ. Will you repent and weep?” Then he crowed three times like a rooster, “Roo’a’uhrr, roo’a’uhrr, roo’a’uhrr!”
“What do you mean? I don’t know you from a bar of soap.”
“That’s four times”
“Are you being a smartarse?”
“No need for hostilities; we’re all in this together.”
“Huh? You’re copying me, seeing my barber, wearing Russian Navy shirts, carrying around my red-clipboard-folder-from-grade-three, and suddenly we’re on intimate terms? And you’re wearing my cherished scent, which you’ve plagarised from Alfie’s flask!”
“Surely there’s no harm in imitating. It’s a free world, particularly where eau de cologne is concerned.”
How dare he mention F word! I wanted to get to the crux of the matter, but I started getting emotional.
“Surely there’s no harm in imitating,” I mimicked in a voice an octave higher.
“But we’ve always been reading from the same page.”
My frustration grew. I felt it was not enough to engage the man on moral grounds, so I included some cheap insults, a bad habit of mine when I’m upset by the world’s niggling inadequacies.
“Is it true what they say, that a teardrop tattoo means you’ve killed someone but never shed a tear, which is ridiculous, because repenting and weeping are serious concerns, as you’re aware. So if you’re a killer you’re a hypocrite, if not, you’re a fraud! And that goatee, plain silly; it’ll never be acceptable to decent society.” I hardly ever used the word decent; it’s one of my rhetorical big-guns, which I keep in a purple velvet case.
“The only things I’ve ever killed, we’ve ever killed, are illusions.”
“But I happen to know some people who’ve sustained illusions – and all reliable sources too. And why not entertain illusions awhile, then send them off with a lovely tootle-oo? Perhaps dispel them, or lose them, or shatter them at worst, but never kill. It’s a sin!”
He started drumming his fingers on the red clipboard folder. It was then I noticed the tattoos LOVE and HATE splayed across the fingers of each hand.
“And your knuckles, hah, hah! I hardly ever go about with slogans. I’d need a smaller font to fit all I know on my knuckles, and then more fingers too, to fit the theories, which are surely the most onerous tasks you can ask words to perform. No sir, dichotomies are out of fashion. They’ll always be valuable, in the way that mummies and first-editions are, but you’ve got to move with the times, otherwise your shadow catches up with you! Just imagine I go to the tattooist and I say, “PASSION on this one and COMPASSION on that one please,”; well, no sooner would the ink have set then I’d be back getting DISPASSIONATE across my tum-tum, ouch! And the same holds true for theatre mask tattoos, there’s got to be something more to it than the comic and the tragic; what about rare birds, or serious tomfoolery, or well-made dovetail joints to keep the whole shebang together?”
He looked bored. And I then realised I was fresh out of rhetoric. I knew I was playing devil’s advocate with the goateed man’s crass knuckles, that I was only feigning the sublime to better ridicule his knuckles. He shifted on his haunches and looked about, as if impatient to leave.
“Doubt, double standards, deus ex machina” said the goateed man, who also had a teardrop tattoo and stripy shirt and pepper-and-salt-hair, “And what of your neighbour who hacked back your beloved Lilly Pilly tree, the same neighbour who kicked the possum and complained about this and that and the other thing?
His trifecta flooded me with shame. I did not love my neighbour; perhaps the opposite was true. I conceded that many illusions had suffered horrible deaths; that love and hate would always be perennial favourites; that they were well-scripted; that my thesis on dispassion needed more work. I conceded that his beard and his tattoos were fine exemplars of their genres; that my beautiful dovetail joints were good for intricate jobs, like grace and humility, but were not ductile enough to keep the whole shebang together. I had to concede, also, that God was fickle mediator, which is why God had to be contrived on dualistic knuckle-machinery.
The man opened the clipboard, turned it to face me. Inside was an old shaving mirror. The mirror’s silver backing had deteriorated, leaving a scattering of brown pocks. I saw my own mug, with a plaited goatee and teardrop tattoo.
I felt sick; but then lightness. A mystical feeling radiated out from the top of my neck, a feeling I’d only ever experienced once or twice in my life. I went to Alfie’s. He had no customers. He was leaning in the doorway, smoking a cigarette. He gave me a look, like I had some explaining to do. He shaved off my goatee. He gave me the zeitgeist in his staccato English.
I went home. I put my Russian Dolls on the sideboard. I made some crinkle-cut chips. I thought some more about the man with the plaited goatee and the teardrop tattoo.
“Who am I to judge? Ain’t my job, thankfully…
I just work here.
Yeah, I’ve seen it all practically. Thirty-five some odd years and you see all kinds of people in all kinds of situations.
It’s dramatic I guess… for them.
For many of them it’s the moment of truth… or lies. That’s what I like to call it. The moment of truth… or lies…kind of an inside joke.
The biggest hassles?
Beside the lack of air conditioning, the over-crowded slow elevators and that smell–you know the smell… I would have to say that feeling that something bad is going happen to a lot of people a lot of the time. But then it’s kind of like going to see a scary movie. You know what’s coming and you’ve seen it all before but you still get that horrifying feeling and then you get that immediate relief– that it ain’t you –that’s going through what you just watched.
Another thing is that it gets real boring sometimes.
I like to pack a paperback book in my locker for my lunch-break as a nice distraction. Maybe an old western or sometimes I’ll catch up on my bible readings.
Nah, I never really came up against any sort of dangerous situation. They’re all scared like little bunny rabbits most of the time even if they act tough on the outside. Occasionally, you’ll run across a hard-case but not too often in this courtroom. They get all whispery and they get all “yes-sir” “no-sir” with me on accounts of what’s coming next.
That moment…the one where they are just standing there in the courtroom waiting for their case to be called like a little school-kid waiting to see the Principal.
I wouldn’t ever want to be in their shoes–sometimes I see em get real brave and mouthy–sometimes they look like they are going faint dead away.
All kinds– really, accused stalkers, accused rapists, accused pill-pushers–White Collar criminals–they always have the funniest lawyers. Real wise-asses. Judge always gets a kick out of them. Yeah, like I said–we’ve had it all, celebrity stuff, athletes, politicians…but most of the time it’s just regular folk who have messed up and made a bad decision, had a bad night or had some bad luck… and well they end up here…with me. I walk em in. Get em sweared in. Take em out after the verdict or sentencing…typical Bailiff duties…you’ll be fine…just follow Judge Callahan’s lead.
Yeah, there’s a great little burger shop and deli two blocks down–that’s where I usually pick up lunch if Elsie hasn’t packed me a brown bag…”
Sam entered the line to relieve his pain … as usual.
He could feel the pain coursing through every part of his body, as if at any moment he would turn into a pile of limbs on the ground. To be honest, if that happened some cleaner would come and sweep him away.
This was not an unusual feeling, but it was an unaccustomed one.
Sam waited in the line to relieve his pain … as usual.
He always had to wait. Sometimes the mix of impatience and the excruciating pain made him feel as though he could turn into a puddle of body juices at any moment. To be honest, if that happened someone would slip on his puddle and then the puddle would just be scrubbed away.
This was not an unusual feeling, but it wasn’t a comfortable one either.
Sam looked to the front of the line to relieve his pain … as usual.
The face of the man at the front who would relieve Sam’s pain, was as usual a good-looking one. No-one wants a down person trying to relieve their pain. If Sam ever had to be served by such a person he’d probably stab himself.
To be honest, that would actually stop his pain.
So why wasn’t he just taking that option instead?
This was not an unusual question, but it was always one that made him feel horrible.
Sam sighed, as he waited to relieve his pain … as usual.
His eyes glanced to the side as he noticed the empty line with the down person at the front. He was reminded of his previous claim to end his life by stabbing himself. Sam stepped out of the line he had been in for so long. He headed to the front of the non-existent line.
This was not an unusual action, but it was always one that exhilarated Sam.
Sam approached Mr. Down, ignoring his pain … as usual.
Sam coughed “So what are you here for?” He asked.
The man shifted his eyes to Sam, his expression never-changing.
“What am I here for?”
Sam stared at the man confused. This conversation wasn’t unusual, but it always unsettled him.
“Yeah, what are you here for?”
The man looked away.
“I- I don’t know.”
The silence that followed wasn’t unusual, but Sam didn’t like it.
“Do you know why I’m here Sam?” The man’s soft tone brought a sharp, spark of pain to Sam’s abdomen. He doubled over and sputtered out “No.”
“Same here. Do you know why you are here?”
“How do you know my name?” Sam pulled himself upright, ignoring the pain … as usual.
“I know your name. You do not know mine. Anything else is irrelevant.”
“Shh!!!” The man’s spit hit Sam’s face, which wasn’t unusual, but was gross.
“Sam … the real question here is …” He trailed off.
“What? What is it? What’s the question?” His frantic questioning wasn’t unusual, but it was unlike him.
The man didn’t answer.
Sam shook him, which wasn’t unusual but was very violent.
The man fell back on his chair.
Somewhere amidst his silence, the man had died.
Sam stared at the man’s lifeless body. The sight wasn’t unusual.
In fact, it was actually pretty normal. The man had died. He must have been in pain too. Everyone is. Poor guy. That’s probably why he didn’t know why he was here and it explains why he was talking nonsense. The man had gone so long without relieving his pain that he got lost in it, until it was almost non-existent.
Isn’t that what Sam wanted?
Sam faced this dilemma all the time. It wasn’t unusual.
Sam turned away and the pain hit him again.
He stared at the long line he had abandoned.
Sam made a decision.
He moved around the booth, pushed the dead man out of the chair and sat down. He pulled the chair closer to the booth and observed his surroundings. He looked at the title of this booth.
Now that was an unusual feeling.
Sam didn’t remember smiling before.
Sam smiled and forgot his pain.
Sam never left the chair, the booth ever again.
Sam never entered or waited in a line to relieve pain ever again.
This was unusual.
The group ascended the Victorian staircase to the sackler room which was warmly lit and vaguely comfortable.
The gothic windows looked down onto the traffic lights and the lamp lit stone façade of the street.
Jo was passing out the reading sheets while the handful of weathered faces small talked.
The door opened and Peter followed, removing his black leather jacket pockets full of bottle caps. He greeted everyone and sat there listening to the group in a grainy trance. The candles flickered and glistened in the corners of the half-light of his closed eyes.
“Hello, I’m Peter,” he said. “My day has been a blessed one. I did some praying in the morning and met a friend for lunch, which I feel grateful for.” He breathed a contrived sigh.
“It’s totally different to my old life, innit,” Some nodded empathetically. There were a few more shares from others and the meeting came to an end.
Peter politely aided the clear up and set about the walk home. There was a wall of haze visible in his mind. He engaged the pavement and fell into his subconscience to soften the lengthy task – cars whooshed and trailed their lights in the wet street.
He took a street left past a glowing church through the alleys and onto a terraced street. His breathing became tight and his eyeball shone in his head as he stood under the willow tree and looked up at the window. Filled by a hot adrenaline he crossed the gravel quietly and circumnavigated the wrought iron fence. He then started climbing the trellis looking around him quickly before clambering up the structure. It bent and cracked beneath his 17 stone. He approached the sill and peered in through the open window and there she was, the red headed woman.
She lay on top of the sheets as she would do in the heat. He watched her large frame rise and fall in her breaths. Then pulled the window toward him cringing at its loud crank. Yet she still slumbered like a bovine. He slowly pushed his feet onto the floorboards and crouched next to her bed. He sat and watched her like an incubus in the pale moonlight of the room for a minute or so breathing and embracing the fear and adrenaline. Then he lifted up her polyester night dress pausing regularly after each movement. He then looked between her swollen legs at her horrible hairy gaping twat.
Peter flushed hot with excitement as he extended a bulbous black finger and inserted it into its lips. She moaned in the heat – Peter paused then presuming he was onto something good, squeezed the rest of his oversized digit up to his knuckle as she gasped in strain. “Gavin?” she yelled as she shot up to seeing the massive African at the end of her bed with his finger in her vagina.
“Hi” said Peter optimistically as she screamed a bellowing terrifying scream. He panicked and tried to flee through the window. Misjudging the ledge he Snapped the trellis, tearing his jacket on the pig iron fence as he pummelled his face into the parked Peugeot’s window . Glass cascaded into the driver’s seat.
Lights from the surrounding houses flicked on due to the commotion as Peter picked himself up with an air of dignity and gallantly jogged through the chase up the alley down another alley over a hedge and sat there in the darkness for some time, crouched on the pleasantly cut lawn, basking in the moonlight.
Peter arrived home at around two, looked at himself in the mirror and picked the perpendicular glass out of his negroid face. His t shirt was saturated in blood, he stripped himself down. After showering he plastered butterfly stitches on the gash on his cheek bone. He felt flustered from the night’s events, he felt hot and must have huffed fifty times. Also the worry of possible police detection was somewhere amongst his mele of emotions. Why did she make such a fuss, he thought to himself begrudgingly, and who built that rickety trellis.
Thomas Garson Beyer
The water stains were creeping from the ceiling down the walls now. Otto didn’t know what to do about it, and even if he did, he wouldn’t have the time. Between work and self loathing, how can one be bothered?
He opened the cupboard, grabbed a bowl, and placed it on the counter.
To the pantry. Cereal. He poured some into the bowl and returned the cereal to it’s spot.
The refrigerator. He opened it, noting the red light indicating he needed a new water filter. That’s a problem for the future, thought Otto, reaching for the milk. He lifted the jug, accidentally slamming it into the bottom of the shelf above. Empty. He went to work hungry.
Determined to avoid such tragedies in the future, he stopped on his way home from work and bought a cow. He’d never run out of milk again. A strange sense of pride at having come up with such a plan overcame him, resulting in a slight smile. Strapping the cow to the roof of his small sedan was difficult, and he felt uneasy on the freeway to say the least – but it would be worth it, he thought, laughing to himself. The wheel wells of his car scraped against the tires due to the weight.
Seeing the shocked faces of pedestrians experiencing the Doppler effect from a panicked, mooing cow whizzing past at 70 mph, he couldn’t help but chuckle.
The next morning, Otto was elated. It was time to get some milk. He walked toward his cow, and promptly shoved some money between the cow’s collar and it’s neck. He pointer her in the right direction, and sent her to the store to purchase milk. Otto sat in his small dinning room; his vacant eyes fixed on his bowl of dry cereal.
“Any minute now, she’ll be back with the milk,” he moaned. The smile across his face didn’t fade, but the longer he waited for the cow’s return, the more forced and unnatural the smile became.
Otto’s ability to care set with the sun that day. He’d missed work and been robbed by his own cow. His eyes eventually drifted from the bowl to the water stains, smile still intact. The leak had left chalky white streaks of plaster and wood pulp from the drywall. He sauntered over, bowl in hand, and scrapped the white paste from the wall onto his cereal.
“Worth the wait!” Otto remarked to himself, shoving spoonfuls of stale cereal and plaster between his smiling lips.
He went to bed, feeling accomplished. Some days’, a guy just needs a win.
Bill proceeded to spend his night after work turning the empty table and empty chairs in his crowded dining room into something spectacular.
It was nine o’clock at night when Bill opened his front door, took off his coat and hung it on the coat hanger. Bill entered his kitchen, and opened the refrigerator answering the call of his empty stomach. He took out a loaf of bread and a container of butter. He closed his refrigerator and turned his head to his dining table.
If the people of his neighbourhood were silent for once and listened carefully, they would have heard the soft sound of the loaf of bread as it dropped to the ground and the clang of the container of butter as it also hit the ground. Anyone who was listening would hear that the bread dropped first, ever so slightly. However, no one had heard because Bill’s neighbourhood was a noisy one. He lived on a street, where the one-story houses were all cramped up one against another. Anyone who came across this neighbourhood would see the different coloured houses ranging from violet brick homes to Bill’s own red brick home. Bill loved the colour red. The red throughout his home helped Bill control his breathing. Bill often found it hard to breathe because there was no empty space.
It came to be that Bill dropped his bread and butter, for his dining table was empty. The chairs were empty. The table was empty. Bill tilted his head, a peculiar look on his face. He thought the table had been crowded with objects when he’d left the house in the morning. He must’ve been wrong.
Bill sighed and headed back to his refrigerator. He opened it and collected a bottle of beer and a block of chocolate. He headed over to his dining table to alleviate its bareness but clang- tripped over the loaf of bread and container of butter. If his neighbours were quiet they would have heard the clang of the beer as it hit the carpet, bursting open and soaking the red carpets strewn across the dining room. Bill had forgotten he’d dropped the bread and butter. He needed to be more careful next time.
Bill sighed and decided that placing food on the table was too difficult of a task. Instead, he headed to the pantry to collect some covers to place over the empty dining table. He wanted the table to look nice if ever anyone came over. Not that they did or ever would. His neighbourhood was too busy being noisy to join him in the silence of his home. Bill opened the pantry and looked at the choices before him. What colour did he want? Bill chose red to take his mind off the soaked red carpet that the table was on top of. Bill closed the pantry with the red covers bundled up in his arms. As he turned part of the cover fell to the ground and Bill accidentally stepped forward, his foot stuck in the cover and rip went the red table cover as he fell onto the soaked red carpet beneath.
He rubbed his fingers against the carpet. He could feel the wetness upon his fingers and could feel the rough prickly surface of his carpet. He could smell the pungent smell of the beer. He could almost taste the beer soaked into the carpet, his face against the ruined carpet, upon which the ruined table cover and abandoned food also lay. If his neighbourhood were quiet, they would have heard the loud rip of fabric, and the bang as Bill once again collided with the floor. Only he was too aware of falling this time round.
Bill sighed. He got up, dusted himself off and surveyed his surroundings. Abandoned food lay on the ground, ripped red table covers too (mind you they were his favourite) and beer was soaked into his favourite red carpet. What really irked Bill though, were the empty table and the empty chairs.
Something must be done about it, he thought. Bill decided he would collect some cushions for the chairs, so that if anyone ever visited him their bottom would be comfy. Not that anyone ever visited him. His neighbourhood was too noisy for anyone to ever take solace in the silence of his home. Bill went to his other pantry which was directly behind the empty dining table. He opened it and surveyed the choices before him. This time he decided to go with red cushions, but with a floral pattern. The red cushions were decorated with roses that were so red you couldn’t see them, because the entire cushion was basically red. The completely red cushions would make up for the ripped red table covers and the soaked red carpet.
Just as Bill was about to place the red cushions onto the empty chairs, he realised that there were no cushions for his couch. He couldn’t remember why, but the couch took precedence. So Bill took the red cushions into his living room and put them in place upon his red couch. The living room was Bill’s favourite room. It was completely red except for the black television screen. Bill enjoyed watching gory films on television with the red of the room emphasising the blood upon the screen. For once, when Bill would watch films the noise of his neighbourhood would actually help to heighten the sound from the film, making the experience all the more better.
Bill sighed, wishing people would come and watch films with him rather than make so much noise outside. Bill couldn’t think. He headed back to the kitchen and the dining room. He sighed extremely loudly realising that there was still the matter of the empty table and empty chairs. Bill grew frustrated. He decided to finally fix the matter by placing a candle upon a stick onto the table. That way if anyone ever visited his home they would be met with a romantic evening. Not that anyone in his neighbourhood ever wanted that type of silence.
Bill headed to the pantry, cautiously stepping around the food and table covers, his feet soaking wet from the beer still seeping through his favourite red carpet. His feet smelled of beer. Bill grabbed the candlestick with the white candle from the pantry and carefully made his way to the dining table. Before he placed the stick on the table he quickly dashed back to the kitchen to grab a matchstick. Bill lit the candle with the matchstick from the top drawer of the kitchen. He had to waste three matchsticks to get it lit. The matchsticks that he used he let drop to the floor. This time he didn’t hear the sound it made as it dropped to the floor. Probably because of how noisy his neighbourhood was, as usual.
Once the candle was lit, Bill headed to the dining table. He was cautious of the mess around him. He didn’t want to risk tripping so he bent down to put all the food and the table covers away. As he first grabbed the container of butter and rose with the candle in his other hand, he lost his balance.
Bill wobbled to the left and Bill wobbled to the right.
If the neighbourhood had been quiet they would have heard Bill sigh the loudest sigh anyone could ever sigh, and they would have heard the sound of the candle hitting the carpet with a clang, erupting the room into flames with a big whoosh. The flame of the candle caught fire on the beer soaked in the carpet, and continued as it ate its way through Bill’s favourite ripped, red table cover. Bill could only watch as the room and his home around him melted from his vision. It all turned into a blazing ball of red. If only Bill had someone over. They would have stopped him from all this foolishness. Bill coughed as the smoke suffocated him and as his body was licked by the flames.
Bill sighed. Bill sighed until he could sigh no more.
Bill’s neighbourhood was a loud one. Bill’s neighbourhood continued to be loud, long after Bill had left the neighbourhood. People would walk by the ruins of his home that were never rebuilt. People would talk, and merely glance at what had once been a tall one-story home with red bricks, now reduced to nothing. People would talk as they walked by the home. Only a few people would pay close enough attention to the home in ruins, to see all that was left of it. Those people would sigh whilst the others talked and talked.
Those few people would see what Bill saw in his last moments of life.
They would see the empty chairs and empty table.
He reached for the railing and fell. The railing failed him and he fell and broke a femur and it hurt and the doctor set it and told him to stay off the femur until it healed and he did.
He one day opened a can and ate what was in it. The contents were not in need of being cooked, he did not have to cook the contents, so he could eat what was in the can without using a determined degree of heat. The can’s contents tasted fine without heat and the instructions for preparation were very clear. Open the can and consume the contents. No heat needed. Just a fork. Or a spoon if you prefer. The instructions did not indicate what utensil to use but it was an unstated instruction.
When the contents were depleted from the can he dropped the emptied can into a half-empty larger can used for filling trash. The can was in the trash and he closed the lid.
In his typical manner he sat in a chair post-consumption. In his typical manner he ate standing up. In a typical manner everything made sense until suddenly something would happen to cause a nonsense abstraction that transformed the sensible realm into a confused mass of warped mental atmosphere which for him lasted weeks into months.
The femur was fine now and he called the doctor who said he could disregard staying off the femur and in essence run free. So he did. He ran free and the femur felt fine and running free made him feel free of the once hurt femur. If I could run like this forever, he thought and though he thought this he knew it would never be possible since forever was in no way typical of his manner.
I shaved the heads of all my seven children. This made it far easier to tattoo them, and I’m not a tattoo artist so I appreciated the advantage offered. On the head of my oldest son I tattooed the name Tyler. On the head of my oldest daughter I inscribed in the flesh the name Helena. On the head of my third born I wrote the numeral 3, and so on from there because I had not gotten around to naming the rest. The process took a long time and they were all late for school, so I beat them with a wooden spoon and sent them to their rooms. It was only a matter of hours before each had gelled and could be served to my guests guilt-free.
A clatter at the window; my buddy Rabe had come over to invite me to shoot bee-bee guns. He’d shot the sill as a prank, the scamp. I snuck out the window, leaving my guests to figure out how to eat the gelled children all on their own. Rabe snorted like a pig and danced in a circle; he was happy to see me.
A group of scarecrows was standing around doing nothing, like a bunch of fags. We ducked down behind a couple bails of hay and took aim, shooting the scarecrows all over their tatty bodies. They didn’t do anything about it, like a bunch of fags.
“I got a idea,” I told Rabe.
“What’s the idea, geniustein?” he asked as if he didn’t believe I had an idea at all.
“Let’s recruit these fags for our baseball team,” I said, and Rabe seemed to agree that that was an idea, so we went to work sticking baseball cards into their clothes, filling them out with these collectibles mixed into the hay, their vital essence. Once they had become baseball players, infused with the vital essence of the cards, they started running and pitching and hitting. But they refused to join our team. They said we had nothing reasonable to offer them and refused us, like a bunch of fags.
“Shit, it’s time for my vitamins. I got blood poisoning on my father’s side,” Rabe said and evaporated. I held my breath because I didn’t want to inhale him. Having your best bud in you is disturbing and I vowed never to let it happen to me again. Once, my pet mouse Sylvain Sylvain crawled into my kidney during surgery. The veterinarian was frantic to find him because if he didn’t finish his surgery Sylvain Sylvain might die. But he didn’t die; he simply fused with me in the way some sports fans eventually join their teams. When I thought about it I’d try to push cheese into my urethra as a treat and root for the local sport’s team, which was now accepting scarecrows. Rats!
“Damnit, it’s time for supper!” I had to rush back to my house, which was now at the store buying pirated VHS tapes of the origin of the universe. He was hungry for supper, the little rascal, and ate up almost every inch of food I had to offer. “Just like babies, these houses,” I informed a homeless man defecating in the aisle of the store. “You don’t want to waste your time on them, unless you like babies. And who does?” The homeless man, who was probably Portuguese, ignored my words and handed me a sausage of indeterminate variety. I watched the pirated VHS tape frantically for a clue about the sausage’s origin. After much scientific analysis, I determined it was a Portuguese sausage and retrospectively labeled the man a Portuguese. Was this a mistake? I wondered about it for quite some time, while I rolled my house back to my property.
The local meteorologist observed my strange journey. “I’m all mixed up!” he said and laughed, enjoying the trip quite unseasonably for a weatherman. When I finally got my house home I checked the National Security Meter and found that Portugal had not declared war, so I was safe in my assumption the homeless defecator was a true Portuguese. I was generally fairly safe, even though the weatherman kept trying to set fire to my belongings. Luckily, my belongings were severely retarded. So the flames licked what was left of the house’s supper. “Don’t get too greedy, now, you rascals!” I told them. The flames spelled out the words to a song yet to be written about my death, seriously fucking with my head.
PART I- I was reading something the other day about, well I don’t remember
Chapter 1: Prologue
Why people would wait for something to happen when they know perfectly well it won’t
Hey, hold on a second.
Uh, okay: some guy decided to live “intentionally” or something and was earthy or something and was a beautiful, complex, and fragile creature and all that.
Meanwhile, I guess there was some other guy, who worked in, like, let’s say an office. He also had some interesting or relevant qualities, though, I’m pretty sure.
Now, between the two of them, they each understood some things that the respective other did not. About life or something. Then there was like some big other, too, just for contrast, or possibly for some other reason.
Their stories intertwined in some way or other and they both came to see something about themselves; each other; and about life in the process. I don’t know, maybe they were brothers, too.
Chapter 2: Our Story Continues
PART II- A Journey of personal discovery
Chapter 3: The time I went somewhere, but changed slightly just to condense things
He felt something when he went down to the baggage claim, when he was out among all of the people, the car drivers with their signs and other humans waiting for family members or for friends which made him feel alone, but the good kind of alone, where no one notices you, and when he got his bag and stepped through the doors he noticed it was warm, that the sun was shining; and he was alone but the people were actually warm too, though. he was used to it this time.
last night he had been drinking with his friend in chicago and had stumbled up the steps and had gotten on the plane and now he was a bit tired, but a good tired, he was visiting his friend.
Chapter 4: So yeah he went and visited his friend and it was fun or whatever
PART III- You have to try to do something I guess, I mean apart from waiting for death.
Chapter 5: Sorry
I don’t want to write, I don’t want to do anything, not even drink, and you don’t want to read this really but you are so bored or something that it is better than going out and trying to look like you care.
Chapter 6: I feel … well okay really.
PART IV- Now what?
Chapter 7: And so on.