forkbomb(2)

He wants to not only want to press buttons.

This rather rude realization sticks him between the ribs right as his right ring finger is mid button depression; the RETURN key, as it were; just a single of the sixty-four buttons on his depression station that supply his brain matter bliss.

But more than any other, one button’s love _clicks_ for him; and so feverishly favored by his fingertips is this particular button, this RETURN key in question, that for its plastic trapezoidal mold, he has now developed something resembling (though explicitly NOT identical due to stringent copyright conflicts) GENUINE HUMAN AFFECTION™; the same brand which has produced the world’s finest works of art, caused countless murders, senseless suicides in droves, and the stubborn continuation of the damned species which bore them all.

With a few mindless keystrokes the command ‘FOOD’ materializes across the fifty-foot screen he faces forward zombified backward deified drop the zomb- add the -ed and RETURN; there, above his button depression station, an aluminum chute, now distantly rattling, returns to his outstretched hands a mouthful of damp à la cardboard de la crème food pellets and he, most eagerly he, returns the slightly soggy pre-portioned super-sustenance to his watering mouth, chewing most madly free, not for a single moment moving his eyes from the screen no-siree; forgetting just about entirely of the button-related existential crisis at hand.

He has lived within the 10×10 expanse of BOX#406 for as long as he has been able to press buttons, and, between some billions of depressions, the revered RETURN key in question has here and there basically begun to stick; mostly at the most insanely inconvenient intervalia throughout the day; for example, right at this very moment, repeatedly confirming the ‘FOOD’ command on-screen, the aluminum chute gesticulating madly, all filling the cracks between his b.d. station’s buttons with nutrient-dense gov’t-issue food pellets, like in all the guts knotted up good in his gut. And so with the flat of his knuckles and a snarl (his preferred RETURN dislodgification method) he pounds the jammed RETURN key free, and then punches in ‘CLEAN,’ once again tapping RETURN, this time with the perturbed power of a ravenous rottweilerruuPP.

A multi-layered lithosphere of dead skin cells and bark-shade grime has accumulated around the outermost rim of the RETURN key’s carbon fiber cast. Should you hold one or dare you even two (bless you) nostrils to the dark crevices between the key and its hollow frame you can actually smell Death’s toenail clippings. Across an accumulated eight million lifetime unique button depressions, the RETURN key’s laser-etched lettering has weathered to spell only PETUPI.

Some six hundred forty BOXes away, the Sanitation database receives the ‘CLEAN’ command from his b.d. station in the form of 40 binary digits; and by a ping’s pass the mechanical Hands are dangling down from the ceiling plates with their curious impatient fingers, in seconds whisking his BOX spick-and-span. Meanwhile he, with the quick flick of another button, disregards the downright absurd notion which had hacked his head earlier; to want something other than wanting to press buttons! Preposterous; propaganda; PETUPI. Then, after applying a minute amount of pressure to his right temple with the index/middle finger of his right hand, he inputs another command, fingers flying: ‘ANTI-INFLAMMATORY.’ More buttons he presses: PETUPI. Buttons he presses: ‘WATER.’ He presses; PETUPI. Presses: ‘FOOD.’ Presses: PETUPI—

But the key sticks; on-screen an error appears:

 

REINFORCEMENT SCHEDULE HAS: CEASED.

PUNISHMENT SCHEDULE WILL NOW: COMMENCE.

 

Today he is scheduled for the 2000-volt Punishment prods, his personal least favorite form of Punishment. Though slowly he had learned to outsmart the Punishment prods (which throughout the Punishment schedule hover above and subsequently prodify the subject in bodily regions of varying discomfort, once for every button the subject chooses to depress) by, with his finger, applying a small amount of pressure to his right temple INSTEAD of pressing a button. With this tactic he had managed to avoid 3,600 and 12-something individual Punishments over a five-year period. Of course he could not stop himself from pressing buttons entirely. His record low was nine depressions in a single three-hour Punishment schedule, when he entered the command ‘LAVATORY’ and then PETUPI to relieve himself; as Punishment for each keystroke, a hogshead of ice cold grey water was dumped onto his human head, an event he found primarily unpleasant and secondarily demeaning.

Now the PETUPI response key is seriously stuckarini; and no amount of knuckle-rapping will disbar the button, no; his bare hands beet-red from beating the button so hellaciously so, his nostrils flared in frustration HO, his eyes bugging out in disbelief WO.

The problem is that the Punishment prods, on recognizing so many hundreds of repeated button depressions from the jammed PETUPI key, would (exe/lectro)cute him; and him recognizing this grim reality in so many hundreds of vivid vivizations, his weak heart palpitating with pure panic; the button hiding in its frame too deep to be clawed at by his desperate fingernails panic, the button taunting him ALL CAPS PANIC(!), the button saying its name perpetually PETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPI. The previous command ‘FOOD’ repeatedly/repeatedly being sent to the Liabilities database and then pinging back to the client. The metal chute to the right of his b.d. station violently vomiting endless rivers of dietary-dynamo food pellets which soon rise to his ankles and swallow the floor of BOX#406, swallow his feet, PETUPIPETUPIPETUPIPETUPI.

HELL-O, TO-DAY YOUR PUN-ISH-MENT SCHE-DU-LE IN-CLUDES: PUNISHMENT PRODS.

VOLTS: TWO-THOUSAND.

DUR-ATION: TWO MIN-UTES.

Continuation of established panic/palpitations; deep enough to scratch his spine the dominant right arm cocks back; flexing the fingers stiff w/ partway phalange partage for precise aerodynamic optimization; downward swinging at a saucy 26 miles per hour making flush contact with the PETUPI button; the krRACK of a bone snapping;~!~and the click, button coming free. The ‘FOOD’ command ceases to be sent; the chute above his button depression station ceases to deploy nutrients; and the Punishment prod begins to deploy from above.

Today’s Punishment prod, ID NO. P41N7R41N, metal and mantis armed, jockeys diligently for prime Punishment real-estate (locate: liver, check: cranium, protect: penis) from its fixed, ever-rotating position in the brushed aluminum ceiling tiles. And there comes this vaguely pacifying blue glow oozing from the Punishment prod’s point, occasionally crackiting and within close proximity hummiting and tickliting the tiny little hairs in the twisted tunnels of his ear. He fixes his focus bold on the soft pearl of light and then presses a button: PETUPI.

A mechanical whir—; and beneath his left earlobe an electric German Shepherd’s canines seem to sink; his neck tendons set rope rigid; jaw wired shut frigid. His body goes limp. The Punishment prod retreats.

 

The first Punishment of the day is the most difficult Punishment of the day.

 

He found that Punishment displeased him on an inverted bell curve, with the curve’s basin being the zone of least experienced discomfort, and the two end points being the zones of most experienced discomfort, to where the first few Punishments in a schedule were highly unpleasant, with the middle portion being bearable though not ideal, and then, towards the Punishment schedule’s end, finally again becoming highly unpleasant. The second Punishment he would receive today will still rank riiiight in that juicy ‘primarily unpleasant’ zone of the inverted Punishment bell curve’s wheelhouse; and the Punishment prod now aggressively angles for a better shot at his seriously sensitive innie belly button; but still this man has the paralyzing urge to press a button: perhaps PETUPI perhaps.

But he wants, perhaps, to do something besides press buttons.

There it is again(!); that corrupted, demented little thought. Where ever did such an idea come from? To not press buttons? What a thought. What a corrupted, corrupted thought. Certainly, he muses to himself, as one of the Punishment prods jabs him between the ninth and tenth right ribs at a particularly receptive angle; certainly it must be nothing more than a typo in the monkey chit-chatter; why, but a simple mis-rendering of the mind! He is much better off avoiding such thoughts, he tells himself; those and others like it will surely send hot spokes of shrapnel through his skull; brick his brain black; pain that would surely make even the most severe Punishment schedule look like poetry; but still, as he sits stationary at his dependable b.d. station, the wet-dog smell of food pellets filling his palate, activating salivary glands, hearing the low hummmm of the Punishment prod regain positioning on the arch of his lower back—; still he can not not think about not pressing buttons; and these nots twist him.

He would distract himself from the urge to press buttons and not press buttons by eating; and so, high-stepping across to the south-western corner of BOX#406, he retrieves his fork from the drawer, kneeling in the food pellet prairie and promptly gorging himself.

In the fervor of his feast his fork makes contact with an aluminum floor tile over a small carved-out section of food pelletry, six small dots indenting; when the soft blue light from the Punishment prod’s palm goes a hard green GAH(!); and, with little forewarning aside from the shift in hue, a patchwork voice is produced from a pair of stereo speakers embedded within the Punishment prod’s bicep:

‘punishment: paused. HELL-O; PLEASE STAND AND FACE THE PUN-ISH-MENT PROD.’

He did so.

‘SUB-JECT IDENTIFIED. THANK, YOU. YOU, MAY NOW, BE SEA-TED. RE-MEMBER: IT’S O. K. TO PRESS BUT-TONS AT AN-Y TIME THROUGH-OUT THIS PROMPT! THANK YOUR-SELF FOR THINK-ING IN-SIDE THE BOX! CON-TAIN-ER-CORP A-MER-I-CA! … GOOD, DAY; THE CUM-U-LATIVE RE-CORDER IN-DI-CATES YOU HAVE NOT PRESSED A BUT-TON IN FOUR MIN-UTES, EIGHT SEC-ONDS. ARE THERE AN-Y FUNC-TION-AL-I-TY ISS-UES WITH YOUR BUT-TON DE-PRESS-ION STA-TION?’

‘Yes,’ he responds to the prattling prod. ‘The PETUPI key has jammed.’

The Punishment prod’s insides can be heard chirruping.

‘AND YOU STILL ARE A-BLE TO DE-PRESS THE RE-MAIN-ING SIX-TY THREE BUT-TONS ON YOUR BUT-TON DE-PRE-SSION STA-TION WITH ZE-RO ISS-UE?’

‘Yes; but this lodgeified PETUPI key keeps on sending the previous command,’ he says. ‘It’s filled my box with food pellets. I am concerned that the Punishment prod will overload if I input another command which, might I remind you, will. result. in. my. gruesome. death. That’s why I haven’t pressed any more buttons, okay.’

Another chorus of mechanized mumbles.

‘ZE-RO FUNC-TION-AL-I-TY DE-FECTS DE-TEC-TED WITH-IN DE-PRE-SSION STA-TION; GOOD, DAY. punishment: resumed.’

Unshocked totally by this show of ContainerCorp’s lackluster customer service, he prepares the continuation of his food pellet powerfeast, both to avoid pressing buttons and not pressing buttons. But, to his surprise, the Punishment prod curls inward, gearjoints grinding, and achingly withdraws into the ceiling otherwise unannounced, and is gone.

Had his Punishment ended prematurely? Could Button Maintenance Hands be deploying from the ceiling at any moment now? He does not know how to behave or react. There is no instructional prompt on his b.d. station’s wall screen instructing him how to behave or react; only this precise sequence of punctuation, or perhaps alien hieroglyphs to which his eyes are virgin:

 

:(){ :|:& };:

 

Confuzzilated, he strikes the DELETE key, removing the bizarre textual hiccup from his b.d. station’s screen, anticipating the prod’s jolt—but lo, no nasty Punishment prod waits in the wings to paralyze him.

Ah!

O happy is he so!

What is life besides pressing buttons? Everything he has learned about life external to the BOX seems, to him, so excessively unnecessary. How did the freakish social finaglings and capitalistic conquests of the outside world differ from the pressing of a response key and the receival of either Reinforcement or Punishment on the other side? Despite ContainerCorp America’s questionable customer service, he is grateful for having life made so perfectly simple for him. How could he have ever considered not pressing buttons? Buttons are being!

And although there still remains a solid 12 inches of pure food pellet covering the floor of BOX#406, he, the BOX’s lone inhabitant and sixty-fourth occupant, sits at the b.d. station in rare ergonomic form, spine straightened to promote blood flow, arms @ textbook 90°, chest out, chin up, the very position causing immediate discomfort, but, despite this, with a few flawless keystrokes, he types out the ‘FOOD’ command, each button’s depression making the most wonderful music: PETUPI.

HA!

His laugh reverberates between the aluminum walls. Fitfully, the PETUPI response key has jammed, once again again. This has now officially become One Of Those Times He Believes The Buttons Might Actually Be Pressing Him. The chute above his b.d. station now begins to eject its moist pellet-based nutrient payload en masse; the ‘FOOD’ command being sent to the Liability servers exponentially faster at each/every moment; a fibrous mound forming beside his button depression station; the pellets now shin-deep and gaining on the kneecaps.

Into his b.d. station he attempts

to input

the

‘CANCEL’ command but

the PETUPI

key, phantom-pressing

repeatedly,

stuck

pretty much permanently,

mangles his every

input into

‘CANCE,’ ‘LCANCEL,’ ‘CAN,’ ‘CEL,’ ‘CA,’ ‘NCEL,’ etc.

The food pellets rise. The air in BOX#406 goes humid. His spine’s core goes cold. To move he must wade, claw at cancerous food pellet clogs mashed together malignantly with his few meatballed belongings, thrash his legs wildly through the dense nutrient swamp. The combined moisture and compaction of the food pellets stewing up a room-temp. pellet porridge which he so sorrowfully is only a single oat in a quattuorsexagintillion to be ground in. The aluminum chute above his b.d. station now buried; the glossy yet worn surface of his buttons swallowed; PETUPI. The weight of wet food pellets pressing upon the weight of wet food pellets pressing upon his ribcage. In a moment of reptilian mirabilis one final resort slithers through his skull as he presses his arms up against the ceiling to anchor himself—; consume more food pellets than are filling the room. He digs for his back pocket; snatches the utensil; steels himself, and lifts his fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork 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while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork 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while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork 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while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork while fork 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forkbomb(1)

Again as her office windows ran with the acid rain she felt the urge to get up and go sprint towards the glass, leap headfirst from the building’s 64th floor,*KRAASHHHH* and disintegrate before her bones broke on the bridge.

Ah! An unusually wet summer in Seattle; though unusual now seemed to be the usual; and absurd now the surd. Whenever she felt the v.e.r.y. NON intentionally-invoked warmth of Hope sprout deep within her chest cavity, as she sat so still there in her dirtquiet office nooked on the 32nd floor, Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager at Canopy Condominiums™, would actually allow herself, for a single, solitary moment, to think that just maybe the brutal storms might let up yet, oh the stubborn fall storms settled so high above the sullen smog;—when, w/o doubt, as the evening temperature dropped and the shrink-wrap atmosphere shrunk, and the heat lightning root cross the sky & again the rain came down from on high & again the streets hissed until the next day nigh when she would Hope against all Hope for clear daylight once again.

 

That summer she had spent soooooooooooooooo much …time… com-pletely alone, in allll sense of the senses, sitting basically motionless there on her Snorkl™, sooo much time indoors that she had completely quit missing human interaction, and, instead, now missed her Snorkl™ most of all, and the corrosive rain which gave her an excuse to avoid other human beings pretty much altogether during a storm; when she was caught at home, that is. And when she was caught at work? Her office on the 32nd floor of Canopy Condominiums™ became her home and hole; and she a slave to its occupants. It was a hellish existence. A usually wet summer in Seattle; her third consecutive week sleeping within her office, the highly surd Canopy Condominiums™.

Canopy Condominiums™ was a 64-story building on the corner of 7th Avenue & James Street in Seattle W.A., a highly desirable waterfront property located just off the I-5 interstate overpass which had recently undergone a $300 quintillionthe United States Dollar had recently undergone a surging inflation after the initial West Coast floods had settled; the devastation effectively turning U.S.D. to 2-ply T.P. 5-year renovation, which, in addition to bolstering the concrete foundations of a 64 mile stretch of road added loooooooong sections of corrosive-resistant cover(which unfortunately grew increasingly littered day by day, walls of debris causing biblical traffic jams with untold dozens of victims fossilized beneath the garbazch), a massive project which had been gridlocked in legislative purgatory for over a decade before a brutal El Niño thrashed the west coast and threatened to halt both north and southbound traffic across the city’s reshaped backbone. Pike Place, Pioneer Square, and a good chunk of the International District was now totally beneath water. The Space Needle, on the crust of Queen Anne Island, now overlooked a small channel towards First Hill and Squire Park. However despite perpetually rising water levels and much of Seattle’s population migrating south towards Des Moines and Kent where rent was hundreds of millions cheaper and there was more dry land to settle, Seattle’s new downtown real estate market was booming; Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager at Canopy Condominiums™ had just the week prior signed out a one-bedroom unit on a one-year lease @ $1,248,163,264/month. She was undeniably at the zenith of her career.

However, there was a problem. Hundreds of homeless denizens were now gathered shoulder-to-shoulder beneath the I-5 bridge directly across the street from Canopy Condominiums™ with a scarce amount of food and drinking water. Over time the non-drinking water levels had risen about 3/4th of the way up 6th & James and currently crept ever closer to 7th. Put quite simply there was not enough shelter beneath the bridge’s overhang to house the hundreds of people who had gathered and formed a community there; and, as the water rose, the people taking shelter beneath the bridge were pushed further and further up 6th & James until a weekly vote had been instituted to exile members of its community (which became known as Tent City 8) out of necessity. Since the voting process had begun, the impromptu settlement quickly became a humming humanoid hive, rife with complex commerce and perplexing politico; each citizen of Tent City 8 maneuvering in some way or another to justify their position beneath the bridge. There were talks of doing a reality television series involving the daily goings-ons of Tent City 8, but, after public outcry, the show was scrapped; there is said to be a pilot episode floating around on the Old Web but besides a few less-than-sane sources, no credible record of this material is known to exist and has evaded all search engine indexing.This particular problem greatly jeopardized Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager at Canopy Condominiums™’s position within the core Canopy Condominiums™ corporate hierarchy; leasings were at a 3-year low despite the surging popularity of Seattle’s waterfront within über wealthy circles of the Pacific Northwest. The problem, and the problem alone, Cyntonia had deduced (with about three seconds of thought), was driving prospective renters away in droves, and if things were not due for a change, the building owners were ready to bowl skulls straight down the top of James Street into the creeping waters of Elliott Bay, with Cyntone Patagone’s head being a rather enticing toss from the tippy-top of James allllllllllllllll the way down the loooooooong stretch to the dark and stillll water which crept up 7th Avenue; rather enticing even to someone without any professional stake in the matter at all, Cyntonia herself had to admit.

Any feelings Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager at Canopy Condominiums™ had towards the homeless population of Seattleproblem could be distilled into little more than a few drops of mild irritation and faux-pathos, although in reality (certainly not realty) it was probably something closer to extreme and chronic anxiety. The problem, despite a nearly constant flagellation by the media, seemed only to mmuuuullllllllttttttttttttttttiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiippppppppllllyy itself across Seattle and pour out onto the doorstep of her suddenly highly lucrative position as Building Manager at Canopy Condominiums™. This was the equivalent of a plantar’s wart on the heel of her still quite tender career.

She had increasingly encountered the problem as the population of Tent City 8 metastasized; mostly the odd shove-out begging for a spare ten grand here or there, scrounging the dumpsters for hundred dollar bills, tossed away by the pallet, or used as toilet napkins; and she was content to keep it that way, although, of course, she would never admit that out loud, in front of anyone, at any time, on any record, ever, for that matter. However due to the recent uptick in complaints from the tenants of Canopy Condominiums™ re: Tent City 8 in addition to the microscopically low leasing numbers, Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager at Canopy Condominiums™a title she had begun to skip in her mind, if she could not with her mouth or eyes had been forced to grapple hand-to-hand w/ the problem: an unusually high number of Taco Tuesday board meetings centered around the subject which eventually were rescheduled to Thirsty Thursday, as well as community outreach programs which generally involved her politely handing over a wicker basket of produce to a random representative and stiffly posing for a photograph or brief memorystream which would be paired with its own paragraph in the Canopy Condominiums™ Community Update. In her past she had dealt with the problem as anyone else had, in small moments of impromptu generosity; giving away a handful of rotting Pink Lady apples to the gentleman who was caught stealing a sack of salted peanuts from the QFC for a dying pigeon covered by a suede Lakers cap splayed out in a cardboard shoebox, or handing over a few dollars to the woman covered in a garbage bag sitting all scrunched up all alone beneath the dripping lip of a storefront when Cyntonia lived there for a summer in the basement apartment along 2nd & Lenora before downtown proper flooded. Kind, true gestures, even if they were made mostly out of guilt. Generally Cyntonia Patagonia outright ignored the problem out of fear. She also found increasingly little time for empathy.

But there was always one man in particular who puddled in Cyntonia P., Building M.’s memorypools. At the moment she was not wearing her Snorkl™, and so had no way to view the memory except within her own mind, where it existed mostly as a few words. This one man in particular carried an electric guitar, a Fender facemelter powered by a black box which emitted the sludge-soaked sound of each madly vibrating string. There was a pedal he pumped with impressive consistency to generate the scant amount of electricity required to power the amplifier. Mostly she had observed him from afar and above; the window of her office on the 32nd floor—and cast her eyes away from up close, and her ears, too, mentally turning his volume down to 0. And it seemed to her as though most others had also decided to put this man in particular on mute. He sang those songs to himself—a shove-out who had found temporary respite from the abrasive storms beneath a windblown car chassis carcass, which began quickly to rot and cave in at the hood after an intermittent and bitter beratement by the rainstorms. But then one week in April an erratic clear weather pattern interrupted the spring’s acid showers, and each day that week, when she passed him by on her walk to work, he asked, very bluntly, if she wanted a song. She declined each time, usually w/ silencethough had she made the decision to sit down and chat w/ the man, and asked him not for a song but for something of himself, then he would have said to her: I been homeless since I’s sixteen. Tried to kill my step-brother. They sent me to a psyche ward and then after all that was all done I came back home and they decided they didn’t want me to live there no more. I’m not like that no more. I got anger issues. I been good for a while now. I’m not like that. But sometimes people’s piss me off is all. People say shit and it’s just like RRGGGG, man, CHRIST. Tell you, though: I’m not goin no jail. I’m not goin no jail for doing what I do to another person, another, like, human. God it would be so easy and god it would feel so good to just RRAAAA! you know, WHAM!, haha, but, now, instead, I just go out and punch one of them fake trees they got planted out there in the sidewalks is all. That’s why my hands are all fucked up like they is and shit. And sometimes—when I get really, really, really, really mad, I hit my head—just smash my face against some tree just WHAM and I can feel the blood dripping down my face… That’s why Amber’s all scared of me now cuzza my fucked up face situation. She been with me forever though, man, five good years, now, solid. She holds me down. I love her with all my heart like I would never HURT her like I love you I love you like with all my heart but it’s like—psht—that’s why she’s all blown up like the way she is now. That’s another thing that makes me want to smash my face into a tupperware tree. Because she don’t do nothing all god damn day! We got comfortable! I’m at least giving it a try! And I try, you know! I been working out! And I go and I do it in front of her! Work out! To try and get that idea in her head! Work out! Do somethin! And I like to do things, man! That’s why she so scared of me! But it’s like man, my little man down there—it ain’t happening for him! You know! And I swear I would never HURT her but man!, until one day she responded to him with words:

‘Sorry,’ Cyntonia began, ‘Not today.’

‘Not today?’ the man said, flatly. ‘Not any day!’

Much too mortified to respond, Cyntonia P., B.M. turned her head, strode on, and shoved the interaction clear from her mind. She reached the south entrance of Canopy Condominiums™, took the elevator up 32 flights, and when she looked down from the window in her office to the eroding vehicle so far down below, the street singer was gone.

At once, she rushed down the stairwell, all 32 flights, bursting from the south entrance of Canopy Condominiums™ with little breath and scanning up and down the streets for any sight at all of the man.

At first, there was zero; only the rusted hull of the upturned wreckage which he had abandoned; but,—there, up James on 8th, there he was—posted up at another corner, singing some vaguely familiar tune to himself. She dashed up the street and asked him:

‘Will you give me a song now?’

The busker turned and looked at her w/ giddy-gidgids gurgling in his gut. He cleared his throat, strummed the leprous strings of the guitar, and sang:

 

yAnd oh~ the peppercock~! the pepp-er-cock!

 

yIt spice-s mehee soO0oO0~!

 

the peppercock~! the pepp-er-cock!

 

I scratch it to and froO0oO0~!

 

the peppercock~! the pepp-er-cock!

 

How pleasure pains me soO0~!

 

To be frank it was utter shite.

Offensive, actually. With overwhelming force, a la airplane nausea, Cyntonia felt that _crushing_ second-hand embarrassment, the kind which makes one want to turn oneself inside-out and crawl deep into a musty dark hole and then proceed to die, super, super painfully.

She flung the peddler a few grand, falsely told him she loved the tune, and walked away.

During the storms (which had quickly become some numb routine, as any little disaster one experiences chronically) when traveling became a major risk, Cyntonia P., like most people, took shelter inside whichever building she happened to be caught in when the storm flashed, which could last anywhere from two minutes to two weeks. For Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager at Canopy Condominiums™, this usually meant either home (a super-deluxe 124 sq. ft. micro-flat in West Seattle @ $136,122,448/month) or her workplace Canopy Condominiums™; for the former by chance, and for the latter, cruel, twisted fate.

Though determined to maintain her personal comfort at all costs, Cyntonia Patagonia had dedicated hundreds of billions of dollars and even more’s worth in time making her office a home. Obviously no personal artifacts could be displayed on or around her desk. So instead of personal amenities, Cyntonia splurged on personal obscenities. There was a custom-designed shoe rack which housed her 32 pairs of work shoesone for each day of the month, plus an extra emergency pair, not at all because she was frivolous, but because the webbing of her feet were x-tremely sensitive and required the freshest pair of shoes possible to minimize chaffing, each of the 32 pairs completely custom-made to fit her freakishly large feet and wide array of fashion needs. The trillion-dollar shoe rack periodically spritzed a potent deodorizing/anti-fungal formula straight into the musky toe pocket of each pair. There was a cozy twin-sized bed which rose from the floor at the foot of her desk. There was also an AM machine in the corner, for whenever she needed to synthesize a plate or a cup or a knife. And to further promote an air of hominess she had also purchased plastic houseplants with the faint appearance of decay.

Today a prospective renter whose application had been stalled in the queue for more than three weeks, one Ms. Glorietta Bumperdoople, a tretrigintillionaire Snorkl™ software mogul who pioneered virtual peer-to-peer intercourse, was scheduled to tour unit 6400, the penthouse suite lease which would bring in no < than $36,122,442,841,683,366.72/month minus utilities. The account singlehandedly could save Cyntonia Patagonia’s prestigious & personally pivotal position as Building Manager at Canopy Condominiums™.

Thankfully, the pandemonium which raged in the skies seemed to stagnate, and soon wither to a feeble, morally-questionable shoving match. [!] On cue Cyntonia received word via her Snorkl™ that Ms. Bumperdoople had arrived, and, despite the inclement weather, only a few short minutes late for her tour.

 

Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager at Canopy Condominiums™ no sooner raised her head and there, plopped in her office, so frishyfreshly hydraulic-pressedly into a pageant-groomed suede suit, stood there the curdled flesh package that was Ms. Glorietta Bumperdoople. The woman’s beef flaps seemed to be folded up& up beneath each layer of suffocating cloth. A supremely acidic mystery secretion so slowly seeped from her every g a p i n g pore and was soaked by the infinite flagellated suede flagellum.

Cyntonia stiffly shot up. She extended a shriveled hand. ‘Glorietta? Cyntonia. We spoke briefly via Snorkl™.’

‘Right. Refer to me as Ms. Bumperdoople,’ said the name’s owner, leaving Cyntonia’s hand eagerly extendified and undignifiably unacknowledgicated. ‘Are you the one showing me the unit?’

Rain pittered the office window64. Briefly Cyntonia considered pinching and tearing off the itchy portion of skin located on the back of her neck clean from her body, and then smacking the flesh to the window and wiping the blood all over her cheeks and shrieking at the top of her lungs. ‘Yes, Ms. Bumperdoople, right this way,’ Cyntonia instead acerbically acquiesced, further extending her lonesome hand back towards the doorway, where the private elevator Ms. Bumperdoople had just been pried from was located.

32 beeps later the brushed aluminum doors split apart and the pair had arrived on the 64th floor, the penthouse suite. Across the aluminum walls a greeting materialized:

WELCOME HOME, PROSPECTIVE RENTER.

TODAY IS: DAY, XX:XXA.M. 20XX | 9℃ |

USSIAN EMBASSY BOMBED, 64 DE | SOOPERpooper HIGH SCORE: 36,122

CLIMATE CONTROL: 21.1℃ | FLOOR HEATING: ON |

NOW PLAYING: SERENITY (CANOPY CONDOMINIUMS™)… | ●●●●○

As you might imagine the penthouse was disgustingly ornate. 8,163.2 sq. ft. in total. Full terrace. Six bed. Two kitchen. Fully-loaded media centres. State-of-the-art jacuzzination station. Expansive wine cellar. Going any deeper into detail would only incite the ravenous appetite in those of us less fortunate than the fine Ms. Glorietta Bumperdoople in a manner which could only be described as cruel and unusual. Cyntonia executed her grand tour of the condo with magnificence, scarcely gritting her teeth as the emerald jaded Ms. Bumperdoople even upturned her gullet in surprise and nodded her head once or twice at a few of the finer touches, all of which Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager at Canopy Condominiums™ was only too quick to point out.

After an hour they had circled back to the gallery, and the two made a left to the conference room. The discussion seemed to be swimming right along, and, breaking through the surface, just a few short strokes away, Cyntonia spotted shards of light, oxygen, a hand, when, without warning, Ms. Bumperdoople dropped an anchor on her spine:

‘… And as for the homeless,’ the promisee uttered, cocking her head to the conference room’s wall-to-wall ceiling-to-ceiling southwestern window which overlooked the 24-lane overpass below, and, through the concrete slits of the eroded bridge, the technicolored quilt of swissed-out tents and sleeping bags which seemed on their own to breathe in and out and out and in breathe. Ms. Bumperdoople cleared her throat of phlegm. ‘How is this problem being dealt with?’

The question was rather direct. However at this moment Cyntonia Patagonia was triumphantly unphased. She had expertly fielded this exact question (phrased in so many polite repositionings) time and time again and again with time, she had repositioned her answer until it stood at its currentyet past, for us iteration, three (3) total sentences clocking in at an efficient ~30 (thirty) words.

‘Yes. That is an unfortunate situation we at Canopy Condominiums™ are acutely aware of,’ Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager recited, clapping her hands, wrinkled and rope-veined, tightly together, fingers slightly iinntteerrlloocckkeedd so the hands appeared to meld into a monolithically thick fleshly appendage of feeling. She executed each phrase w/o feeling, finishing as a machine whirs down slow to stop its gears from grinding to a halt: ‘And at the moment we are ac-tively working along-side Seattle police to rectify that un-fortunate situation.’ Outside, the report of a rifle; or a clap of thunder.

Ms. Bumperdoople scrunched her nose up and held it there. ‘It’s just not right, is it?’ The prospective buyer’s focus slowly shifted back to the window and the freeway, the oval woman’s satin sash swaying with the turn of her hip, tickling the polished glass. From the outside, a sworl of acid rain wound up and thwacked the windowttTTTTHHWWUUMM!; and, Ms. Bumperdoople, stepping back quick in startleation, was nearly tangled in her own waistrope.*HHaaKK—!*

‘There’s no need to be alarmed,’ said Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager with a firm confidence known exclusively to her within the confines of this very building, walking then gingerly to the window and rapping her knuckles against the pane.*DONK~!* ‘These windows are thirty-two layers thick. Highly resistant borosilicate(81% silica, 15% boric oxide, 4% alkali) glass. Each layer is coated in an anti-corrosive resin that will outlast our children. And, of course, the building’s outer walls are regularly maintained for corrosive damage, an expense that will come out of your utilities bill, as we’ve discussed.’ She looked reassuringly to Ms. Bumperdoople. ‘You are safe inside this place.’

‘It’s not the rain I’m worried of…’ remarked Ms. Bumperdoople, casting her glance downwards.

‘Ah. Mm. Yes. Mm. Well, Ms., we have a full team of trained security you can call around-the-clock. They patrol the area regularly. And, as you are aware, all three entrances are locked behind encrypted passwords which are tied to your Snorkl™.’

‘But it’s just not right,’ Ms. Bumperdoople said, seemingly to her own self. ‘That these people just live out there. No, it is not, not right. Isn’t that everyone’s space? No. See, I pay for my space. Do these people? Do these people pay? No. When you cannot pay for your space you must be evicted, I mean, that’s really just how things work and have always worked and always will work. No?’

Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager put on her understanding voice: ‘Mm. It’s an unfortunate situation.’

‘Well. They can have the streets,’ Ms. Bumperdoople said with a snort, eagerly watching the smoky rain pelt I-5’s protective covering. ‘And what then explains the exorbitant cost of the rent for this unit?’

‘Yes, since Downtown Proper flooded, First Hill has become the First and Only Hill, ha ha. And the prices on Queen Anne Island! They’re sinking, only, literally! Ha! Ha!’ A hard lump formed in Cyntonia’s throat.

‘You aren’t wrong,’ said Ms. Bumperdoople. ‘And, going overseas is completely out of the question.’

‘Yes, totally,’ said Cyntonia, leaping madly on this floating deal debris. ‘Sure, the highrises of Beijing are key-wwwwite beautiful, but the mandatory smog filtration masks really just put a damper on your wardrobe.’ She did another hard fake laugh which hung in the recycled64 air like nausea. The lump in her throat began to roll uphill.

‘You’re right,’ Ms. Bumperdoople said. ‘An unfortunate situation.’

‘Well, by all means, take all the time you need in considering this, Ms. Bumperdoople, please,’ said Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager with a brutally practiced patience. ‘I’ve got the unit reserved in your name for two weeks prior to signing the lease, and, afterward, there is a two week grace period, should your mind change; please, take all the time you need.’

‘No, I won’t need to take any time, no.’

‘Oh?’

‘Yes. I only wish I could give back some of yours, my dear. My mind’s made up.’

‘Oh, wonderful!’ A monsoon of overwhelming relief washed over Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager, drowning a sextillion anxieties. ‘Congratulations Ms. Bumperdoople, I wholeheartedly really do believe that Canopy Condominiums™ is going to be the perfect—’

‘No—; I won’t be signing the lease. I just wanted to come here and tell you so, person-to-person. Manners are not mort among some of us, dear!’

The blood drained from Cyntonia P., B.M.’s face and settled in her stomach. Ms. Bumperdoople bid her a brief adieu, and then, with considerable effort, stuffed herself into the private elevator to the lobby where her convoy awaited.

Cyntonia slumped at her desk. The day was lost—or, was it day, indeed? From the window, Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager could have sworn to herself—yes—there!—light! There, stabbing through the veil cast so thickly above the city: Hope. So simple and unadorned. Carbonated cabeza from standing so quick, she strut to the windowpane64 and pressed her face to the glass64. The rain had quit. Warmth from the peaking sunlight began to shrink each little dot of acid water clung to the window, the weensy dots scrambling to merge with the teensy dots who fell into formation with the tiny dots, all like little soldiers in retreat, and she felt bad for them; so insignificant and forgotten and alone—oh who would help the poor raindrops—who ever would help them? To Cyntonia Patagonia B.M. it appeared as though the only answer were those poor raindrops themselves, but and not those alone—but and the sun which sucks them up—and the clouds which return them to the Earth; this system; and this day; brought her life.

Snatching her coat and rain slick from the rack, C.P., B.M. made a quick trip down the stairwell64 and nearly slipped and ripped her hamstring clean from the bone—catching her balance‘WO—!’ with a white tight grip and righting herself with a blip of nervous laughter. The western door leading outside was thick64, and the cracks between the door and its frame had been sealed with rust crust. She planted her foot and with newfound spirit shoved hard the door, putting her shoulder into the center*THOOM!* while twisting the handle*skkrreeee* with all her might & more.*SHOOM*

 

At once she winced. The sharp sunlight tore at her eyelids, lifting the thin skin flaps up and flooding her vision w/ neon blood vessels and a blinding black. At last she dared open her eyes, and, through spots of cornea sizzling agony, her vision corrected—and there, at the faintly hissing street corner of 7th Avenue & James Street, a man lying face down and motionless on the asphalt came into her focus.

She ran over to him, tearing free the velcro flap from her translucent eye shield; the man’s limbs were warped and worn like petrified wood. The flesh sizzled and popped like bacon under a grease fire. What little clothing remained on his body was stuck to the skin in scorched patches and the skin schleffed off the bone by centimeters, and then by inches. The stench of sour flesh was overwhelming, even penetrating the heavy polymeric material of her rain slick. She crouched to the ground and, though hesitant, touched her fingertips to the man’s body; he twitched!—back she jumped;‘Oh—’ and the man turned to face her; eerrRRUUgghh—; he wheezed; his face was falling; piled onto the pavement like soupy pizza; and he reached his hand up; bone fingers, tendon twisted; and Cyntonia snatched back, and she stepped away; and away; terror lurching up her throat; and then she heard his voice:

‘Do you have a room?’ The muscle fibers squeezed around his smile. ‘Do you have a room, miss?’

And instead of formulating a dignified response to make this memory any more digestible, in stupefied shock, Cyntonia Patagonia, Building Manager at Canopy Condominiums™ simply stood there and said ‘Huh?’

‘A room, miss. Do you have any rooms available?’ Slowly, the man turned his melting body towards the I-5 underpass and pointed. The street sides and parking infrastructure was packed with person on top of person, clothed by layer upon layer of rubber padding, strips of rubber from torn tires and lopped-off traffic cones and vivisected condom quilts; tents all lined neatly and unneatly up and down and side to side in rows to avoid the worst of the acid rain which leaked through the slits in the massive breathing concrete bridge; and those without the luxury of a tent’s shelter simply standing in uneven rows, pressed against one another to stay under the bridge’s cover, a perpetually light amount of shoving going on in the background for positioning. ‘There’s no more room. They’ve turned me out again. And the rain hurts, oh God, it hurts me. Do you have a room, miss? A room! Do you have any rooms available, miss?’

Cyntonia P., B.M. turned sharply away, at once facing the opposite direction and walking on, turning the sight from her thoughts, whistling flilly nonsense from beneath her breath. ‘A room, miss! Please! Do you have a room? Do you have any rooms available?’ she heard after her, even as she reached the crosswalk,‘Please, a room, miss! I need a room! Do you have any rooms available? Please!’ and Cal Anderson Park,‘Miss, please! A room! Do you have any rooms available? Do you have any rooms?’ where a number of citizens had gathered to enjoy the pleasant change of weather before the rain began again█

satisfied silence

we fuck each otherup & then;—

there’s that sound yup; you hear that sound? that satisfied silent sound.

that sound of her hair, spun up in black spinnarets which ticktickle new spots on my cold wet skin every micromoment like black spiders between the bedsheets, with fangs too minuscule to bite but venomous enough to stop your heart clean in sick seconds; her, curled up against me like a dead spider; me, too terrified to move; dogdaring myself to breathe. that sound of her temple’s pulse, thumpthumpering up against my chest, like the decaying hare’s heart, beating only now through other things; the spiders/worms crawling & curling through the munchmunchered up flesh-holes; the spot where she put a mchwahkiss on my furry chest, that sound of her chronically liquorchapped lips not wanting to quit; that satisfied silence, that quiet calm, the deepened and happy and unspeaking dead.

my tongue is shriveled to nothing; still i will speak:

listen to me: because just a minute before the silence came—; before we both took that great deep sigh and then laughed out to each other while both out of breath and i kissed your forehead with my dry lips and then you nuzzled right up next to me, so close & tight that i thought we just might merge; because just a minute ago we both sounded like the animals we are; our lovesounds seeping through the halls; and our tune is quite catchy; got the neighbors banging on the walls now too. but it doesn’t bother us none, no not at alls; no, we’ve tuckered out quick and are quick to spark up a bowl, down a glass of room temperature tapwater, and snugg off to sleep;

—the lights dim blue—

& the window is slick with the morning’s cool, condensed rain specks. the digital clock on her nightstand reads 8:04AM:• and i lame fakeyawn as she half-consciously shifts closer to my side; sleepshifting, resting her head in the curved, soft space between chestmeat and shoulder; i have actually been wide awake since sometime closer to 6. sometimes we sleep in the same bed but we mainly don’t use the bed for that. sometimes we really get to talking, actually talking, and sometimes it’s really about our actual real problems but we mainly don’t use talk for that. & i really should walk home soon and let you actually get started with your day girl but before i leave just let me ask you this one thing:

do lovers become each other?

because if that’s the case, then i think i’d rather just stay me;
and stay away from you;

& i don’t often write about sex; but girl i often write about you; none of it is romantic; actually it’s terribly spiteful and laughably immature and really rather clunky, technically speaking. i wouldn’t want my professors to see it, God no. i wouldn’t want my friends to see it, bleck. but sometimes i wish you could see it, yup; because it is every word i do not have the outright courage to say to your face. do you think that’s why we hurt each other over text message so much more efficiently? because it’s just easier to pretend like the words aren’t actually you? this must be how people remove themselves from firing a gun and killing someone; the bullet is not the bare hand. but i need to write about you, even if the words are ugly; because i can no longer talk about you; my tongue is shriveled to nothing; stilliwillspeak:

do lovers become each other?

because if that’s the case, then i just might be able to explain why i got so quiet on you all the sudden; why i stopped speaking, the way you did. see, all my life, i used to believe that my words were the ultimate power; the ultimate ways&ways&ways of getting and being got; of getting anything that’s good; anything good worth getting. but you showed me that silence was indeed the greatest power of them all; because if you say nothing, then you are nothing; nothing can hurt you, and you can hurt nothing.

i scrolled up through those text messages until the words quit making sense; that last last argument; still i had to practically get someone else to delete the conversation for me; and then your number; it was all just too painful to read; and almost too painful to erase. i don’t want to hurt anyone with my words ever again. so i just shut the fuck up.

i shut the fuck up for so long that my tongue shriveled right the fuck up; disappeared inside my throat cavity; merged with other muscle. i do not have a tongue any longer but i am stronger; little deaths are not the big one; we can live through the little deaths; we can live.

my tongue is shriveled to nothing;

& at first it was quite nice; nobody bothered me at all, no not any more; nobody can bother me. well, there are still folks who bother me; the ways&ways&ways they act, the things&things&things they say; but i never really feel inclined to respond to any of it; my tongue is shriveled to nothing! how can i speak? how can i respond? how can i make meaning? finally came peace and quiet to my life; i even quit muttering to myself when i was alone; for only misshapen mishmash dribbles from my lips and makes my thoughts trip.

my words can hurt nobody now; not with their wings clipped. my words; my lies; my various nefarious intentions; my disguised spies; i put a MUTE on them all; now nobody can be hurt; and now you cannot hurt me.

there are a few drawbacks to not having a tongue, though; everything i eat must be made into a smoothie; lasagna smoothies w/ mom’s sauce; chicken katsu smoothies from Aloha Plates downstairs; turkeycheese sandwich smoothie with classic Lays potato chip pureé. also, i cannot give good head any more; not the way you always liked. sometimes i wonder if i was just a masturbation machine for you; one which unfortunately and quite annoyingly required occasional caretaking plus a regular diet.

that’s how our relationship go;
you come and then i go.

but i think i found the best part about not having a tongue, the one which i think you enjoyed most; and it is that i no longer have to talk about the way i feel. not about anything; not ever. ever since my little episode, ever since the meds, everyone can’t quit asking me how i’m doing. how are you doing? are you doing well? hey, how have you been? tell me how you’ve been! how’s it hanging? hanging in there? hanging by a thread—by a rope;

it’s not that i don’t appreciate the sentiment; that they care. but what am i supposed to say? because if i tore open my stomach; & if i showed you my guts; & if you asked me what they really mean; believe me, you wouldn’t want that mess on your hands; you’ve got enough problems twisting all around in your insides. we all do; they growl at us when we are hungry and burble at us when they’ve got something gross to say; but the real problems are always what we never say;

& maybe the only real reason we ever say we feel a way
is to avoid naming what’s really inside,
eating us away.

my tongue is shriveled to nothing; still i will speak.

8:04AM:•; somehow we untangle our limbs; i put the music on loud; you pack me up some of that loud; and i rap out loud; and you laugh out loud; now, out loud, answer me this one last thing: you ever know exactly what a thought is before you actually say it out loud in your head? that’s what my feelings for you were like; and they only ever became realsee: fucking frightening when i started putting words to it:

spam

some people are spam accounts in your actual life;
one day they will pop up,SPAM
promising all sorts ofSPAM opportunity & excitement.

their personalities; cannedSPAM
their cheap-o trust; faulty
eat them up; mmSPAM; tastes salty.

sameSPAM as ever; vanishing
ever the same; vanishing
SPAMjust in differentSPAM packaging.

you will try toSPAM delete them,
but they will keep showing up.SPAM
you can try and filter them out,
unsubscribe to their company,
but oneSPAM or two alwaysSPAM manage
toSP slipAM through the web.

the only way toSPAM avoid this
isSPAM to SP100%AM unplug
from everySPAMone & everySPAMthing.

instead,SPAM stay SPhungry;AM & be sure to bringSPAM
forks SP&AM knives; SPAMseasoning; a niceSPAM outfit
and prepareSPAM toSPAM grit yourSPAM teeth
& smile
& feast
on a metric ton ofSPAM shit.

wire/waves

WOKE now; & damn, how weirdly;

no alarm set yet; zero calls missed yup●●●●○Verizon7:34 SUNDAY29% ❙❙⫿⫿⫿⫿;—

but can’t snooze none nuh-uh;

so listen close through the callpiece yuh-huh:

DAMN, GET UP AND DO YOUR THING. GET UP AND DO THAT FUNCTION THING!ok

and listen close to the pity pitters of them raindrops outsidepbdpdpdb…; oh then it must be a storm; oh then them streets must be slickssSsSSkkKKrrRrRReeEEEE!; oh then it must be sunday in Seattle, oh, now everything on earth clicks.

stretch/yawn(strawn) it out; nnnnyyYYYYyyAAaaaahhhh… ah…

& WELP, damn; woke now anyway; might as well stay so; & anylyhow, the rainpatter outsidebdppbdb forces out quick this p_r_i_m_e_v_a_l urge to piss.

obey bladder; zombiewalk to bathroomnnnggg…;

WHAT THE—;

toilet == geyser!!!

full-frontal blast of cold sewage to face; wipe eyes clear, dull stench of fecal matter sears; throne drooling mad like drunken bastard king; socks soaked straight away, frigid foot sponges; audible use of the word ‘fuckitry’; rapidly remove tank cover; fiddle about aimlessly; kneel down in sewage mound to twist water valve into ‘OFF’ position‘god dammit,’; water valve ineffective‘fuck?’, biblical quantities of excrement forcibly being ejected from toiletssssshit; increasing in PSItsssss; oh now everything on earth clicks; yes it must be sunday in Seattle oh it must be and boy does it ever suck fucking dicks.

wade from bathroom; strip socks; dial plumber; FUCK:

boop boop BOOP bip beep BOOP BOOP—

click

—hello? losttz you there for a second. yesz, i’m here. and i ain’t goin nowhere; not til this comeszft off my chest. like i said, look, listen; between us,fzt just tell me one thing: why we gotta keep on saying the shit we always promised’d betzt unsaid? oh–oh you feel me? cuz it feels to me like weftzk a galaxy apart; but hey travel ain’t cheap and they got uszt both working for weeks. we keep in touch occasionally online but we ain’t touched in monthszt, and hey maybe that shit’s on me; but betweenzt usz; you wasz right, b. i ain’t heard your voicefzt in–; well, listen, i couldn’t tell you how long. it soundszt different, i mean a little, you know? does my voicefzt sound different to you?—

HELLO?

MY TOILET IS OVERFLOWING.

MY TOILET IS OVERFLOWING WITH ALARMING, I REPEAT, ALARMING VELOCITY AND HAS 100% FLOODED MY BATHROOM. THERE IS ALSO CURRENTLY A LARGE AMOUNT OF ANALLY ANONYMOUS FECAL MATTER COATING THE COASTAL SAILBOAT PATTERN WALLPAPER AND THERE APPEARS TO BE A HUMAN FINGER FLOATING AMIDST THE SOUPY SEWAGE.

PLEASE, I NEED ASSISTANCE.

521 SOUTH WELLER STREET, THANK YOU.

CAN YOU HEAR ME?

AM I COMING THROUGH CLEAR?

—what i’m really tryna tell you ist this: justzt like we go way back, we go right back; you know what i mean? i mean who giveszt a frolicking fuck about just HOW many weeks it’sft been since; i mean, one quick conversation is pretty much all it takesz for the two of uszt to get all caught up; so how come it’szt so tough for uszrt to give in & call on up? we ain’t got ten minutesz to catch up on the last ten months? we too busy zhstaring at these phonesz these dayszt to send a text? or maybe the both of us are just beginning to fade? tell me which one it is yo cuzz i don’t wanna wait.—click

●●●●○VerizonCall00:32Ended27% ❙❙⫿⫿⫿⫿

?¿?WRONG NUMBER?¿?‘the shit?’

check call historyhrmggg…; dialed correct, every digit, double checked.

whateverwhateverwhatever; ask internet for a new plumber; maul keyboard.

klakaklikklakklaklikalaklak—BIJ-uh.

boop BEEP beep bip BEEP boop bip

click

—and listen yo i won’t just let myself sleepfzt this one offv alright, not before i say thisz shit out loud alright cuzz if i say thiszt in my sleep or one more time or in the back of my mind i think the wordsz might just punch through my forehead alright, punch right through my eyesz right and leave me blind no thiszrt shit just can’t be confined, thiszt feeling can’t be defined, and no i won’t be resigned to thiszt fake-ass co-sign we both went and signed, and signed to what? to stop speaking to one another asz if everything meant nothing? and since the both of us live in such a big city, i mean, who could even CARE right because there are just SO many other people to meet right and just SO MUCH more potentialzrt out there right that ifv the both of us are any smartfzt at all we would just admit to ourselvesztclick

●●●●○VerizonCall00:22Ended25% ❙❙⫿⫿⫿⫿

repeat usage of word ‘fuckitry’; toilet gurgling with terminal sickness; grey water rapidly seeping through carpet‘of fucking course,’; late to work and terminated in t-minus twelve minutes… twenty-two seconds.

FIGHT / ➤ FLIGHT

cartwheel through closet; emerge mostly dressed; streak to work;

THE FOLLOWING EIGHT HOURS BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

Capitol Hill Connection Grocery™ — not just food; people!

clock out; return home; 1 unread message:

WELCOME BACK, spells out a series of mushy, dark damp streaks outside the front door, all in a neat, tasteful cursive: YOU ARE IN FOR A REAL TREAT!

hand: gripped tensley upon doorknob;

perspiration: flowing;

key: turned.

gingerly push door open a few centimeters;—

take tidal wave of puréed shite straight to the torso; loafers squelching in guck and FUCK; survey damage; a solid inch of murky scumwater sits stagnant across all 428 square feet; a framed photograph floats face-down towards the doorway; fecal odeurs resist fumigation via open windows/manic arm-waving; toilet continuing to opposite flush with renewed gusto.

audibly sigh;

compose electronic mail directed towards building maintenance staff:

klikaklakaklikaklakklakkalaka—BIJ-uh—klakklakklikaklakityklikklak—BIJ-uh.

[SUBJECT: Plumbing problem]

[CC: ajax@kwikecleanservitudedudes.com]

[BODY: Hello, today the toilet erupted with violent, volcanic force. My studio apartment (#412) is currently submerged in raw excrement. If a capable plumber and clean-up/sanitation squadron could visit my unit as soon as humanly possible that would be extremely convenient for me. Thank you.]

klakaklikalakalakalakaklika—BIJ-uh.

audibly sigh;

waste 20 minutes idly scrolling down various webpages in the pitch dark; nonchalantly ankle-deep in room temperature feces; screens flash; eyes go; wash face; brush; floss; turn tube ON; stare; glow:

congress in deadlock due to controversial spending patterns over KSHT three hand-some slices of our voraciously sweet, ab-solutely au-thentic Kona sugarloaf pineapple here, mm’that’ll be at three-hundred and fifty degrees for KSHT the weekend, so dooon’t forget to bundle up those young ones and tighten up those scarves KSHT hanged himself in the unoccupied KSHT cold symptoms such as stuffy nose slight headache sore throat sneezing; drowsiness dizziness feeling nervous; upset stomach mild nausea indigestion constipation light diarrhea; fever sweating joint stiffness muscle soreness; sleeping problems (insomnia); decreased sex drive impotence difficulty having an orgasm dry mouth; increased appetite decreased appetite changes in weight KSHT the picture perfect couple; him, a Phoenix-based multimillionaire real estate development tycoon; and her, a stunning, one-time model, part-time real estate agent and full-time socialite of Arizona’s premier. “The public certainly viewed them as a power couple. They saw her as beautiful, and him as charismatic; so, yes, people were envious. Envy was actually quite polite around these people.” but all is not as it seems in paradise. the money’s not his. “He owed a lot of money to a lot of scary people. He was in over his head, and, eventually, was forced to declare bankruptcy.” when greed grips hold of their marriage, is there anything this couple won’t do for money? coming up on American Filth.

audibly sigh;

say out loud to no one in particular, ‘this is not so bad.’

bed; 30 mind-numbing minutes of past regret instant replays and anxious anticipations—;

WOKE now;

1 unread message:

[SUBJECT: Re: Plumbing problem]

[CC: ajax@kwikecleanservitudedudes.com]

[BODY: I wouldn’t have missed it for everything in the world. But this past year everything in the world has buried me, everything; every fossil and bone of every being that ever lived; every single piece of art ever produced; every weightless bit of data that together weigh more than the spinning rock every 1/0 floats around; and every word in every language that ever passed through a person’s lips, oh; the words bury me most; the words. Some nights I wake up, lying in an imprint of cold sweat; no one is ever there, but I can hear everyone’s laughing. My throat collapses quick; I can’t breathe; I feel sick. My blood turns to hot sludge; a clot traveling quietly from calf to thigh and from thigh to brain; scalp about to pop like a dandelion without a wish. Everyone’s laughing; all that weight on top of me. The weight of living up to you. The weight of this life I have chosen, and I have chosen it, and so that weight I will bear and I will be happy to; but sometimes, I can’t tell whether it’s real or fake. All this weight; the weight to always say the exact right thing, pick the absolute precise and proper words. And when I choose wrong? Others have always been quick to cast stones; quick to cast me aside; and then the house of cards I’ve so carefully constructed inside; the whole thing comes crashing down on my back, burns, turns to ash; everyone’s laughing; everyone’s laughing; and they bury me; and they toss my words in the trash. I called 911 that weekend; swore to God I was gone; went numb in every limb; veins curled up inside my skin; heart seconds ready to explode. I was embarrassed; but the woman on the other line was rather sweet, and dead calm, to make me more calm, to make me breathe much slower, to prevent me from passing out, and she told me that two paramedics were on the way and that I was young and healthy and had nothing whatsoever to worry about.]

?¿?SPAM?¿?DELETE & UNSUBSCRIBE

!—

mind goes _____ a moment.

stomach acid surges up throat; tickles tonsils—UKKk!; what could that horrid stench be?

no, it is not sewage; became basically accustomed to that smell after subconsciously breathing it for 8 hours overnight; no, this is the black odor of death; of rotting meat.

wade to kitchen; open refrigerator; UKKk–!

eggs, spoiled; cheese, regenerating; milk, at this point sentient‘FREE ME FROM THIS ABYSSAL DUNGEON I BEG!’; current temperature inside refrigerator/freezer: 78℉.

dial building manager:

beep beep beep boop beep bip BEEP—

click

—treat you like a princessz in public but you beg to be a slavefzt in the sack; yeah i know you like it hard baby that’s a smack, justz go ahead, be a good girlfzt and arch your back, i hit it back to back, then we tzsmoke in bed, jammin out to all your recordszt high as heavenfzt dead, i said yo fuck it pack another take a hit to the head, but baby firsttzt i’ll make you cum and that’sz all she said—

GOOD EVENING SIR MY REFRIGERATOR HAS CEASED TO FUNCTION.

THE MAJORITY OF MY FOOD HAS EXPIRED AS A RESULT.

MY APARTMENT IS ALSO NOW A SWAMP WITH A LIVING, BREATHING ECOSYSTEM OF FRUIT FLIES, MAGGOTRY, AND FLOATING, PREDATORIAL HAIR WEAVES. THAT IS TO SAY MY TOILET IS STILL VERY MUCH SPEWING FECES, IF THAT WAS NOT ALREADY CLEAR.

I AM NOT A CERTIFIED PLUMBER NOR A TRAINED MECHANIC.

I COULD REALLY USE A HAND HERE.

CAN YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I’M SAYING RIGHT NOW?

HELLO?

—she don’t know you zsee me duringtzf the week do she? i’ve never enjoyed zsex with anyone astz much asz i have with you; it’sfz true baby; i need youfzt to fuck me; i want you so bad rightzt now; oh; oh my god; oh that’sz so tight; oh my god that’stzt so deep; oh; oh that’s so big; that feelsz so good; oh; right there; oh; you make me feel sozt good; fuck me; harder; oh god; oh zfuck; give itfz to me; fuck; i want it allfz the way; oh; fuck yeah; you’re so good; you fuck me sotz good; oh; you make me so wet; oh; oh; oh i’m gonna—click

●●●●○VerizonCall00:24Ended53% ❙❙❙⫿⫿⫿

?¿?VERIZON IS GARBAGE?¿?

go hungry for the night; contemplate the vast inner workings of cell-phone networks and landline connections; every wire and wave across the globe, tangled tight; the iron towers where ten thousand tons of small-talk is sent from every second; where the news of an unexpected family death is received; where thousands upon thousands of couples start and finish; where each minute ten years’ worth of plans are made & broken, lied & confirmed; where our lives exist completely, at least, as far as we have become concerned;

audibly sigh;

say out loud to no one in particular, ‘this is not so bad.’

lie in bed for hours without sleep;

WOKE still;

& a knockknockknock at the door; ignore that shit.

& a knockknock at the door; go the fuck away.

& another knock at the door; okay okay o—

quit breathing; peep through the peephole:

the fish eyed face of a neighbor, from down the hall; turns out their electricity went dead; their face glowing with warmth, infrared; curious if you could come over; so curious if you wanted to chat; take a walk down the hall and lend a hand; and curiously walk from no man’s land.

grass.zip

obviously the boy never actually wanted to believe anything could possibly be really the matter; well not just anything obviously; possibly the ONLY thing yes’m; not actually the matter itself no sir; mustn’t mention no specifics nah; better to get at the issue’s gore, yeah the core, beating tissue; dope; dependence; reality; what he was here to speak with Marcus about.

reality;

there in the boy’s (heart)2; there in the boy’s blood—in the path each&every/single oxidized cell jets through his capillaries at a constant; over a hundred thousand trips on the daily; looped rivers that run red as rum over a hundred thousand miles long; reality; the one cent taste of it on his tongue.

but look it’s all good; good’s green as grass.

the afternoon had been overbaked; the meadowlark’s melody shot straight through:

tee-tee-tee, twee-oo—chupp—chupp—twee-oo~

chupp—chuppchuppchupp—

twee—teeee-too, too-d-doo~

chupp—

chupp—

twee-twee-twee-twee—

chupp—

the boy, here in the border country fresh off a flight from SeaTac, found himself positioned smack-dab beneath the almighty magnifying glass on this buzzed afternoon; KSEN said the high’d be upta 80; and all the lows of this life; a day when the wind did not blow at all in Shelby, Montana.

and even though them holiday highs hit and died six months back, Giovanna had made struffoli; set it out upon the back windowsill to cool and to form; the xmas VHS, dated ‘98, ➤PLAYclick—slip-sliding across checker kitchen KING ME tile in ninja turtle onesies, he & Marcus, Leonardo & Michaelangelo, partners in pizza, careening COWABUNGA! towards the countertop, mmmm RADICAL DUDE! warm, finger-sticky struffoli, the it-bitty, glucose-englossed, fried-up lucky#7color sprinkly pearls ◼STOPclick; ah, that sweet, familiar scent pulled the boy along, as he crossed the conjoining lawn shared by the two one-story homes and made his way to the garage; where stray tangs & snickering zests all charged the tips of his nostril hair with sucrosian static; then, honey hazelnut, coating thick the catacombs of his throat cavity & branched bronchial tubes; and a sugary saliva filled the whole of his mouth. a raccoon had gotten into the old woman Giovanna’s garbage yet again, figures; yanked up the freshest sack, which hung limp over the lip of the battered aluminum can; a bloated, punctured stomach seeping with blown tissues, white-green wonderbread, crunched & crusty milk cartonsHAVEMIYOUSSSEENINGME?, stripped bone & rotting meat. a fallout zone of radiating, putrid air surrounded the trash container, and still some spoils there remained, marinating in the sun for any other neighborhood bandit’s buffet. the boy, mouthbreathing, pinched the ragged gladbag and, after popping a roach between his lips, fed the metal mouth back its foul regurgitants. he drew on the j; let the sour smoke fill his lungs full; and, from its flickering end, a finger of ash crumbled; crawled into the trash. he gave the roach a flick and stared bloodshot as it smoldered. now that Sallongtime local raccoon population’s public enemy no. 1 had been scattered all across the Sweetgrass Hills, the boy worried for Giovanna, worried that the masked ferals would be concocting a right riot right about now; and made a mental note to purchase poison at Hardware Hank’s for the old woman to use in her defense while he was still in town.

for an entire week he had rehearsed what to tell Marcus. they hadn’t seen each other since the accident; about a year back, back when he still felt home at home; and after that, well, the boy took him a flight to Seattle and the boy never came back; but here he was, back again; and not for 24 hours more; today was his last day in Shelby, before he drove back to Great Falls tonight in the rental and caught a flight back to the city, for his diploma, for whatever happened to come next. he’d successfully avoided this conversation for four full days and intended on avoiding it just a few minutes more if he could manage it, dragging his feet lazily across the sundry grass of the Ferrari’s lawn. he was going to sit down with Marcus real serious and he was going to say—

before the thought could grow, a tuneSugar slippedpie betweenhoney thebunch~ still curtains of the back window, clipped it clean.

to be real, the boy was quite stoned this afternoon and hadn’t quit climbing; taking extraordinary care to squash the roachYou know that I love you! flat into the Ferrari’s front lawn before coming anywhere near the back window and the steaming struffoli; and before taking even another step he exhaled and held; inhaled fresh and stepped on even. if his own dear mother ever discovered anything vaguely resembling a doob in his own family’s front yard, the consequences would be dead dire no doubt; and any ass-whooping he could take; but her conceptions of him he could never repair, and those self-manglings he could never live with; but Marcus littered his own lawn all the frickin time, and he knew Giovanna would never mind, would never see, and see, was there ever any harm, any harm at all in never minding none at all? to be real, the boy was quite stoned this afternoon and hadn’t quit climbing; to be real the boy was a hypocrite this afternoon; worse, a con; word, that was him. an evict of his own emotive state; a fugitive of feeling; guilty as charged & a plea deal please; the boy had to be real. and here he was, arriving at the Ferrari’s this afternoon with a lockpick and ski mask to set Marcus free. he laughKMFFFfphtuhkKMFftKMFft!–KMFft! but bitter phlegm; caught rippling in his windpipe. he hawked up and spat; yellow-specked-black.  

but look it’s all good; good’s green as grass.

but look at least i’m functioning, he thought to himself, there on the Ferrari’s lawn, as the bronzed blades of wheatgrass broke beneath his bare feet; so many uttering tongues; so many of them silenced. when Sal was still around, the Ferrari’s half of the two families’ shared yard was constantly kept crisp; had in fact had won Yard‘and a half,’ as he often liked to tease Marcus of the Week in the Promoter a total sixteen (16) times over the course of twelve (12) years and Sal certainly kept count; pasted each Promoter bit proudly to the fridge; but the present-tense’s patchwork, leprous lawn really wasn’t Giovanna, or even Marcus’s fault; truth was the whole Toole County hadn’t seen a right rain in two whole months; a scarlet drought had puckered the earth and crystallized rock salt into its open sores; but lookI atcan’t leasthelp i’mmy-self~ functioning, he thought to himself. i’m functioning and Marcus is not. Marcus’s habits have begun to impede his ability to f u n c t i o n. but i’m functioning. but look at least i’m functioning and Marcus is not.

his pocket(!);

—not a phantom, not this time nah; but a text message: +1 (425) 773-9—no; so it was a phantom; enough; right off he recognized the number belonged to ChristineI love you and nobody else–! and shoved his cell straight back into the pocket. he had three times deleted her contact information cold turkey and three times restored his cellphone’s memory once he’d a craving for herIn and out my life~.

(he hated his cellphone. he loved his cellphone.) and in the real world, when some stupid shit came out of the boy’s mouth and caused him to physically recoil and crack his molars in a subatomic rage, the verbal offense would simply leave his lips; blow up the moment; and evaporate; dissipate into _______. but with a text message, heYou come and you go! was forced to stare at it. and his words stared right back at him; and they all spoke out of turn; all telling him in turn that my god mio dio mamaluke you really are such a stupid fucking idiot aren’t you.

from the conversations he had had with Christine (over text message; they argued exclusively over text message), this much he had gathered: essentially, she just wanted him to be happy and he just wanted her to be happy, and she just wanted to be happy and he just wanted to be happy. ‘so let’s all just do what makes us happy, then,’ the boy muttered, tugging down at the maroon Shelby Coyote basketball shorts he had on that day; the ones complete with the cheese-grater fabric that the hair on his thighs curled through. 2002, his junior year; post free throw bonanza after an optional offseason workout at the Horseshoe following one long lap on the pothole-infested track that no one on Earth saw him run; Coach pulls the boy aside; sits him on down; and explains quite matter-of-factly that while he recognized all of the extra, hard work the boy had been putting in at the gym lately, and appreciated, really a-ppre-ci-ated, all of the unprovoked enthusiasm he had shown for the upcoming season (which its level of importance Coach described as E-ssential); Lyle and Malvin would be moving up to Varsity instead of him; in place of him. at first, the boy refused to believe the words coming from Coach’s mouth; left the Horseshoe bubbling to erupt; under his breath cursed every single banner hung across the Coyote gymnasium walls, as he walked into the locker room to collect his things; erased the already drawn-up play on Coach’s clipboard; stomped from the locker room and sped home in the jeep where he punched his pillow til his arm was good and dead, til he figured dead might be pretty good. the next day, he went to Mr. Lackey and told him what Coach had said; and Mr. Lackey ensured the boy that there was still a spot for him on the Junior Varsity squad if still he had it in him to play, a spot right there in the starting lineup; and inside, what will did the boy find? not an ounce. the fact was, all of his friends would be moving up to Varsity, if they were not already seated there comfortably, playing good minutes, being cheered on by the entire town of Shelby, the Maroon & Golden Boys, painted jersey no.’s on cheerleader cheeks, stickers stuck up in every window up Main StreetGOOD LUCK AT STATE, BRING HER HOME, BOYS! GO YOTES!, plus co-ed community service, Promoter articles and KRTV on-air interviews, ditching class to travel cross-state for tournament time. it was obvious, and now, to the boy, too: he just wasn’t good enough. he wept in front of Mr. Lackey there in the empty classroom and was ashamed for it; never mentioned a word of the subject again to anyone; and he quit just the same; without a word. but he had kept his practice jersey and his shorts, still, after all these added years; and all these added years had aged him, remarkably (his forehead crease was increasing in all three dimensions at an alarming rate); and all these added years had been just as cruel to his old practice uniform; the numberLeaving just on both backs of the reversible maroon&gold&gold&maroon jerseyyour picture behind~ fading fast; the 70s era waistband coming unraveled; yes, he quit without a word.

but it was not that way with Christine. he could not quit her with every word pressed between pages; and she said he’d a way with words; but those words didn’t always find their way. he had an issue quitting on people. sometimes quitting before their expiration date had arrived; oftentimes long after it had come and gone; the relationship gone green; mold spores through all the thick and the thin. like Marcus; no, more like him; Christine had dependencies. but she too functioned, and so basically believed nothing could possibly be actually really the matter. the boy knew that she hated herself; quote ‘am not gentle or emotional or compassionate or intelligent or deep’ end quote; and despite that, still held herself to a stiff standard that the real Christine constantly snapped, that the real Christine could never match; this woman she had in her mind, faceless and vague, vogue and fearless; completely independent of any one and any thing. she wanted to feel something; or nothing; and so the drinking; but there was one feeling he knew she felt too, and only when she was sober; those same, warm pangs in the center soft of one’s chest, deep in the dark of the night when there was no one at all around, and the rain of a passing Seattle storm seemed to seep into one’s bones and dampen one’s soul; she too felt that same sinking; the sinking they both would rather just totally not talk about, like, at all; the sinking they both would rather just totally leave buried beneath the earth to rot.

but what good was this dwelling? he had decided Christine would be apart from his present; become a part of his past.

his past; so perpetually present.And I kissed it a thousand times~

he would dwell a moment more; and though he tried to dig up the good times, he came up only with the bad; during he and Christine’s first Major Argument, as the two-day-long excruciating verbal entanglement came to an unravelling, he, as a sort of coup de grâce, texted her the number to the 24 Hour Alcohol Abuse Recovery Hotline1-877-725-5672, and wrote something to the effect of: he would always be there for her if she ever needed any help at all or someone to talk to. he wrote those words because he was concerned, deeply worried about her habits, and disregard for her own self-destruction; but more than anything he knew those words would hurt her; and at this point in their ‘relationship,’ he seemed to be more acutely knowledgeable in that area than anywhere else and Christine appeared to agree; well, any area except the southern regions, for how she howls when i go down on her, he thought to himself with a smug chapped little smirk, approaching the Ferrari’s back window. for some reason, thinking back on their sex lives gave him a sense of control back. but Christine made him howl, too; both in ecstasy and infuriation. and he had thought this whole thing through; so through and through; and had repeatedly come to the same conclusion too: that it was his own addictive personality—, rather, his own personality addiction; this, for sure, was the absolute reason those who struggle with addictions of their own gravitated towards each other, and vice versa. for the boy, there was never any in-between with people. he either loved a person to death or he hated their guts to the grave; and if he was indifferent towards a person, then they quickly would fade from the crowded monkeysphere in his mind; the jungle gym of relations and unrelationsWhen you snap your fingers~; finally freeing up another rung for another hand. he wondered, as he tore clean a cluster of sticky struffoli and popped it in his mouth to melt, whose spot Christine had taken, when he met her that night; his old room mate Martin’s house party, figures; after he had missed the ferry to Gig Harbor and decided well what the damn hell he was in the city for another night anyhow and might as well come to this stupid party anyway well hey—. the boy wondered, when would the image of Christine’s sideways glancesOr wink your eye–! and permanently pouty lips and tangled black hair hidden everywhere in his apartment finally lose their grip?I come a-runnin’ to you~

something he had read in a book once: ‘the people we are most fond of are not good for us when we are ill.’ he figured that made quite a bit of sense, but made a few alterations to suit his own needs: ‘the people who are not good for us we are most fond of, for we are ill.’

he pardoned his head through the dancing curtains and called for Giovanna; she must be out to church, the boy thought, before tearing off another hunk of struffoli and walking on. he knew Marcus would not be home today anyway. the music trailed him.I’m tied to your apron strings~

so this how you punish me, the boy thought to himself as he crossed down 4th street; the baked asphalt singeing the soles of his feet. it was then he thought he’d heard the bells from down at St. William’sGONGGONGGONG, GONG–GONGGONGGONGGONG!; so this how you punish me. his thoughts drifted again to Christine as he swallowed the sweet mouthful of struffoli; he never should have told her that he was in love. that gave her too much power; no one should have such a power over me, he kept telling himself, no one. now, she knew that ruining herself would ruin him too; quote, ‘being blackout it’s like this force takes control of my body and i don’t have to use my brain and just let events unravel on its own and it’s relaxing’ end quote.And there’s nothing that I can do–!

but look it’s all good; good’s green as grass.

he preferred to smoke. his father preferred to smoke. his father’s father preferred to smoke; and the preference killed him. but the boy’s father wasn’t dead, not yet; though their relationship was a cold case; and the only memory of his Papa was of a withered corpse that looked just like the boy’s own father, just like him, laid up in the green la-z-boy at his Nonie’s house, with plastic tubes coming from the husk’s nose to a tank at his side that went tst… tssst…! tst…, and the big plug-in fan on the groundWHRWHRWHRWHRWHR that Papa told the boy not to stick his finger in when he tried to, just to be bold. when the boy’s family still lived back east in the ‘90s, he and his sisters would destroy their father’s cigarettes, snuffing out his Marlboros buried in drawers beneath saved receipts & torn envelopes and pushed deep between the sofa cushions; until one day he gave in & quit; and the boy and his sisters cheered, and their mother smiled; and even now, when he came back home, the boy found his father’s cigarettesI can’t help myself, tucked away in the car’s consoleno I can’t help my-self!, as if his old man still had good reason to hide.

the boy preferred to smoke marijuana. he first tried it with Marcus the summer of their senior year, at a buddy’s cabin up in Whitefish, and he was more nervous back then than back when Meghan M. told him they could quote ‘do whatever he wanted,’ in the basement of their old house while Reefer Madness played MUTE⌀ on the television set and his family was asleep because it was 2:26 a.m. on a school night. Marcus had crushed a soda can in the center; with the tip of a steak knife poked holes through the one side, nested in the dent he’d made; and another, larger hole by the base. then he took out a crumpled bag of weed; chopped the green up with the steak knife and sprinkled it on the can’s top. they stripped down to their underwear to avoid the smell sticking to their clothes, and stepped outside. the smoke was harshI’m weaker than a man should be!, and at first, the boy felt nothing. then he and Marcus gathered their clothes; went back inside; and the boy felt everything; and nothing like he had ever felt before; like before, his brain was sprouting up in a hundred thousand different directions; a follicle for remembering to take the trash out before Ma got back home from Albertson’s, a follicle for Aaron Boone’s 2003 walk-off home run in Game 7 of the ALCS versus the Red Sox and the Yankees’ ensuing World Series loss to the underdog Marlins 4-2, a follicle for the time he told the man from Marias River Electric that he knew nothing about the telephone exchange shack by their home being destroyed when really he and Marcus had just been drinking and decided it’d be a fun idea to huck bricks; being high just sort of trimmed the unruly tops off everything.

the Whitefish cabin was a special occasion; but lately, every occasion had been special. lately he was high from the moment he woke to the moment he hit the sack; every occasion in life marijuana made special. the boy wasn’t even positive as to why he really got high any longer; exactly what it made him feel, besides, familiar; at least to himself. but he gave himself credit; at least he was functioning, unlike Marcus; at least it wasn’t cocaine, or heroin, like his older brother’s buddy Gabriel got into; it could be much worse, he thought to himself; yeah, he was much better off than most folk; much better off.

taking his sweet timeWanna tell you I don’t love you, the boy reached the end of 4th Street & hopped the iron gate, landing bare-foot on the trimmed, dead grass that was like bronze wool; it was so much more simple to just let stuff go, he thought, gazing out across the rippling field, where Mr. Gruner steered the riding mower in the distance, topped by his maroon ballcap and reflective sunshades and inch-thick application of SPF50; he’d been mowing the same 900 square feet since before the boy could remember.Tell you that we’re through~ how much more of a damn hassle would it be to just let the grass grow? well—except for in a place like this.And I’ve tried!

as he made his way closer, the boy’s little toe scraped quick the side of a sharp stone; always so clumsy when he was stoned; he cursed in pain, and for a moment considered walking back home and forgetting about the whole entire thing dammit. but he was here now and for an entire week he had rehearsed;

for an entire week he had rehearsed what to tell Marcus.But every time I see your face it had been only a year since they last saw each otherI get up all choked up inside~, but to the boy, that time seemed to be stretched transparent, and squashed opaque; just like he was coming to the end of one long day. he was going to sit down all serious with Marcus and tell him—and tell him that he loved him. but that that basically wasn’t enough; nah not nearly; that love had to be more than words; more than the occasional text message; more than a few beers and a bowl when he came to visit. he had planned to tell Marcus, man-to-man, that no man ever got through this life on his own; he thought all about how he had placed his own addictions on others; because it made him feel less guilty about his own behavior; because it gave him company; because it was the part of himself he knew how to share most easily; and he thought all about how much Marcus had changed after high school; how he got lost. the boy figured that the talk of Shelby had always been about how great Marcus was; a smart ballplayer, active in the community, bright kid w/ bright future; and when he finally got out on his own and actually had to prove that stuff to the rest of the world; the pressure collapsed on his throat; and he suffocated himself in weed smoke, drowned himself in liquor. the boy knew that pressure; that pressure to be somebody, to make something of yourself already god dammit because look it’s happening RIGHT NOW this is it this is the show this is our time brother! but the boy, 475 miles away in Seattle, had no way to check up on Marcus how he wanted to; how he felt he owed Marcus; and so he relied on Marcus’s older brother, & his friends, to keep tabs on him; but they had their own lives to keep tabs of; and in the end, Marcus was Marcus’s responsibility; and in the end everyone knew, there was no forcing Marcus. he never took to criticism well; never wanted no help; and he held a grudge; so the idea of approaching him about this? no; it would be much easier to just let things go. after high school, the two of them kept close in touch, and the boy received message after message from Marcus, messages which he never totally understood how to respond to; once with Marcus laughing hysterically at one of their friends puking his guts up with a 40oz. to go; once so wasted he was making no sense at all; once with a half-finished six-pack of Moose Drool between his foot on the gas pedal and the clutch, twisting up the mountain roads of Missoula; and then, no more.

the boy knelt down to the headstone; the one engraved with Marcus’s full name and final date; brushed the grass aside; thought he ought to say a few words; but had none left in his mouth.

twentythree

23 at midnight, man, but this time last year?
i was planning to take my last breath.
become ash in a jar,
all the weed smoke passed through my lungs/turned to black tar.
for once it actually felt like i had shit planned out,
the whole rest of my life:
step 1) purchase helium tank from party city,
step 2) let helium fill an empty garbage sack,
step 3) tie sack over my head,
step 4) huff helium till dead.
i picked a day, even, my birthday, april 12
this date made perfect sense, in a circular cosmological kind of sense,
and i thought it would look neat in an obituary.
then we totaled dane’s crown vic and i reconsidered.
i rediscovered my art. i met someone, discovered something in my heart.
found help, broke shit down, tore m y s e l f apart,
and i’m still breathing. still ready for another start.
crazy, cuz just a few weeks ago moms was on the phone for 44 miles of I-5,
telling me to just hang on, that everything was gonna be alright.
when i saw her face, the pressure in my lungs was freed, the air turned light,
and i told her everything, and she stayed up with me all night,
and then i crumpled up that suicide note and tossed that shit in the trash—
guess i got some more shit to say then, huh, before my time here has passed

Fresh Briefs: X

how to get over your (VERY NEARLY) first love in 5 super-simple steps:

  1. realize that the funny feelings you felt were a completely natural neural chemical reaction that came as the result of spending a large amount of time with a person who was completely undeserving of 90% of the positive adjectives you associated with them. for whatever reason (likely your lack of meaningful real relationship experience and a constant overwhelming Disney desire to be loved in a romantic sense) you brick-by-brick built this person up to a standard they never could live up to, a standard they never were living up to, even before they met you and were likely better off to begin with. in the face of actual, reciprocated Romantic Feelings, you refused to recognize reality and instead found it easier to plug your ears, shut your eyes, and slurp the ten-gallon tangy/sweet smoothie of romantic delusion and then had the nerve to complain when it gave you a stomach ache.

  2. erase this person’s phone number, every digit, not only from your contact list, but from your recent contact list so you can’t just type in the first few letters of this person’s name in a later moment of weakness and message them. erase any group messages this person may also have been a part of. change your ringtone to something in a decidedly different octave so you no longer associate that sound with this person. permanently purge your photo library of every picture containing this person and any picture that may momentarily remind you of this person. unfollow, unfriend, and unadd this person from any and all social media outlets and allow yourself to publically post one or two subliminal (but very obvious) messages directed towards them, but definitely delete those later and pretend as if those corny thoughts never even occurred to you. then chuck your cell phone into the puget sound.

  3. fuck someone else and don’t tell anybody.

  4. distract yourself from thoughts of this person through keeping a busy schedule and re-focusing on The Important Things. change one small aspect of yourself (hairstyle, drink order, furniture arrangement, etc.) so you can point to who you were before and after this whole hurtful ordeal, conveniently distancing yourself from this person in the process. be sure to maintain a cordial relationship with this person because that is the Mature thing to do, but also allow yourself to be cynical about love for a while and dwell on each of this person’s irritating quirks and harmful habits, reminisce on all of the petty arguments and near blow-ups that began to derail everything in the first place, briefly badmouth them to your closest friend, and then, when you are alone, turn every terrible thing you ever said about this person back on yourself, because more likely than not everything you started to hate about this person was really what you hated about YOU, and everything you loved was all you could never be.

  5. remember that you were really never, actually, truly, 100%, head-over-heels, head-under-water, cloud 9 certified in love with this person, that the whole thing was just whatever, that the whole thing really wasn’t all that, that you’re over all that, and feel relieved that you have now so completely crossed this person out from your life—X.

mariasincident 04/01/03

 

TAPED TRANSCRIPT OF PHONE CALL BETWEEN JOSH JUST, KRISTEN McCRACKIN, ROGER DEMARIS

CASE NUMBER: 03-288612

DATE: 04/01/2003

DURATION:- 13 minutes

LOCATION: ~6 MILES SOUTH OF SHELBY, MONTANA

JJ-[inaudible] Literally like the most garbanzo beans practical joke in the history of humankind. [laughing] You fucking dummies. These fucking dummies.

KMC-You literally say that like all the time, literally. Literally I will be forced to force a sharp stick down your eardrum if you don’t quit.

JJ-Kinky,–but, no, seriously. [laughing] Okay, these dummies botched this thing so m. f’in bad, and like the whole set-up was just primo, like–! Bunch of filthy amateurs, dude, like,–okay, here. Close your eyes. Imagine this.

KMC-I’m driving.

JJ-You get what I’m,–okay, so like, [inaudible] and Roger, he climbs on all the way up there with the power drill. Luckily, these born bozos, out of pure, universally ordained dumb luck I bet, these bozos actually manage to frickin bring the right sized drill bit; good thing, or else they’d have drove all the way down to Conrad not for shit, [laughs] but that ain’t what happened, so anyhow Roger climbs on up there with the drill and he manages to get the thing loose. Miracle. Sucker’s bolted to this big square huge metal base, right? Welded, or whatever. So Roger gives lifting it a go, but, big surprise, hollers on down he can’t, thing’s too heavy. I imagine, must of weighed, I don’t know, two, three hundred, minimum.

KMC-Oh my god, they actually did this? The Conrad Cowboy, like,–

JJ-Yup, the one on top the high school. [laughs] So, okay, so, Roger says he can’t lift it and so the rest of these three hyper-dummies climb on up there, without any sort of frickin pulley system or whatever, and so instead, so instead they just push the thing off, least twelve feet, straight into the fucking mud and shit.

KMC-Oh my god.

JJ-So it’s down there now, THE Conrad Cowboy, halfway in the ground, all caked in mud and shit, they yank this sucker out and set the thing right side up, fucking hat’s all busted off and shit, lasso’s bent into a fucking pitchfork, [laughs] and what do these soggy tard-o’s literally frickin forget to bring?

KMC-See, the word literally there, it’s not even [scoffs] it’s not even fucking neccessary, you can just say they frickin FORGOT to BRING the THING and it means the same exact THING you DING-DING. Quit.

JJ-And what do they forget to bring?

KMC-What, lube to get all bestial?

JJ-The streamers! They drove all the way up there, middle the night, climbed up on top the high school, dislodged the fucking inbred red’s cowboy mascot, and they forgot to bring the purple and gold streamers. [laughs]

KMC-Cut Bank colors?

JJ-Yup yup yup. Perfect, perfect frame job, botched. Bam-fuckin-boozled. The whole concept was a stroke of genius, like,–just picture the look on all them Conrad fucker’s faces when they saw that shit, all thinking, all thinking it was Cut Bank and stuff,–that would have started a war over there, and like RIGHT before their homecoming week and shit! [4-5 seconds of coughing] These ultra-goons don’t even got the foresight to bring shit else to deface the thing with, and just out of pure spite, Roger whipped out and pissed all over the horse’s pewter face which he swore actually ended up restoring some of the metalwork’s sheen and then they just left it there.

KMC-You guys are idiots.

JJ-Hey, don’t call me no idiot. I wasn’t part of this. I woulda remembered them streamers.

KMC-Well can you remember which direction I should be going? It’s dark as pits out here, Christ on a cracker. I just passed,–I just passed the Frontage Road.

JJ-Okay, yeah, up there there’s a left. Take that.

KMC-This left?

JJ-Well, I can’t–

KMC-Okay I’m taking this left. If it’s wrong you’re a fuck.

JJ-It is.

KMC-Well I just fucking–!

JJ-No, I mean,–it is right.

KMC-So I should have taken a fucking right, you fuck.

JJ-No, the left you took was right!

KMC-How far? Jesus.

JJ-Just keep going. Few miles at least.

[A chorus of cackles can be heard crackling through the background.]

KMC-Who’s that?

JJ-No one, no. I’m just laughing.

KMC-Whatever, there’s people there. Listening to me lost, huh, you fuck heads?

JJ-No, no one’s listening. I’m laughing.

KMC-How many people are there already?

JJ-Only a couple. Don’t worry, you’re early. We ain’t even cracked open the case yet. We’re just getting the bonfire going.

KMC-What did you guys get?

JJ-Busch.

KMC-[gags]

JJ-What? I don’t see you buying us no booze.

KMC-Well I’m not 21 you dingleberry.

JJ-Well, neither am I. Neither’s none of us. But Roger’s brother is and I know him so–

KMC-Whatever, I’ll drink it.

JJ-Yeah, so shut up.

KMC-You’re a dick. God, it’s dark out here.

JJ-Well, it is the country.

KMC-Don’t the DeLacey’s have a ranch somewhere out here?

JJ-Uh,–no, no, they’re more by the Marias.

KMC-I swear to god if my tires blow out, I’m blaming you.

JJ-Don’t blame me, blame your crappy tires.

KMC-Dude, I’m driving on fucking dirt right now.

JJ-Don’t bitch, it’s only a little ways further. Do you see a bunch of like, a bunch of like fucked up utility poles?

KMC-Yeah, they go all up this.

JJ-Yeah, perfect. You have to get out soon.

KMC-I have to–?

JJ-Don’t bitch.

KMC-Are you fucking–, [sighs] okay. This party better curl my eyelashes.

JJ-You better stop soon if you saw them poles. You see our vehicles yet?

KMC-No, I—wait. Wait, okay. Yeah. I can just make out the glint of those cringe-shiver-inducing brass bull testicles hanging from your hitch. Those make you look like a real asshole, Josh.

[A car door slams.]

JJ-I am an asshole. Now,–you see the grain silo?

KMC-No. I can’t see my own hands out here. I can’t see shit. Why didn’t you tell me to bring a flashlight, you fuck?

JJ-Let your eyes adjust. Now,–you see the grain silo?

KMC-Okay, yeah. That’s where this is going down?

JJ-Yup. Whole place is abandoned. We’re–we’re inside this sucker. It’s warm.

[Another round of laughter can be heard in the background.]

KMC-Who puts a grain silo at the ass bottom of a coulee?

JJ-I don’t know. Probably why the owner frickin ditched it. Anyhow, ours now.

KMC-We could have just partied in my basement, you know. My parents don’t care.

JJ-This will be better. Trust me.

KMC-God, it just freaks me out is all. I’d way way rather live in the city than the country. More people. Less—less rabid animals. Well, debatably.

JJ-You know, in the city there’s a 90% greater chance of being struck by a car.

KMC-Yeah, well out here there’s a 90% greater chance of being torn apart by a bloodraged coyote.

JJ-[inaudible] Hey, I’m giving the phone to Roger.

KMC-You’re,–wait, hold up, wait–

RD-[yelling] DUDE,–dude, like, when the fuck are you getting here dude?

KMC-Roger, I’m walking now. What’s with Josh?

RD-Oh, he—he just went to go grab another drink, dude.

KMC-You guys are drinking already?

RD-Well, yeah, dude. Dude. [laughs]

KMC-Okay. God, why did you guys have to pick this place? This coulee is steep as—like, how am I supposed to slide down this?

RD-[laughing] Just slide down it, dude.

KMC-Okay, thank you for the encouragement, Rodge, thank you. Can you please hand the phone back to Josh?

RD-[inaudible] Sorry, dude, he’s drinking. He’ll be here soon.

KMC-Rodger, can I ask you a personal question?

RD-Yeah dude?

KMC-When your urine was dripping from the Conrad Cowboy’s trusty metallic steed, did it like, at all sort of feel like you were actually pissing on your own face and heritage and all that and all?

RD-Dude, what?

KMC-I mean you DID move here from over there in the second grade like and I mean your folks–

RD-Dude, not cool, dude. Where is the love? Gross.

KMC-God, at the bottom of this coulee, I guess. One sec. I’m gonna slide down this mother.

RD-Bonzai dude!

[The shifting of gravel can be heard loudly in the background. There is a scream. 6-7 seconds of silence follows.]

RD-Dude–

KMC-[yelling] Fuck! Fucking fuck, god, my–oh, my fucking, I–oh, fuck!

RD-What, dude, what’s up?

KMC-I twisted it so fucking,–oh! Fuck, it hurts.

RD-Well, walk it off dude. You’re almost–

KMC-No, I–[groaning]–I can’t. It’s–oh, fuck, it’s bad. My ankle,–it’s bad, Roger.

RD-Is it–

KMC-I don’t know if it’s broke! I can’t–[screams]–no, I can’t move it.

RD-Okay, okay, okay dude. You’ll be okay. Just stay put. Seriously, just stay where you–

KMC-[yelling] Where I am, Roger? Right where I fucking am, all right, fuck face. You are LITERALLY [inaudible], fuck!

RD-Okay, dude–

KMC-No, NOT okay, Roger! I’ll be eaten alive by a pack of starved yotes out here for Christ’s sake!

RD-Dude, calm down, dude. Can you stand?

KMC-Fuck, it hurts.

RD-Yo, you need me to send someone out theres to come get you dude? Give you a hand dude? Like, dude.

KMC-God no. Josh will–

RD-Dude he’ll come on out–

KMC-No,–no. No. Hey, tell me, is—is Julia T. there too?

RD-Yeah, dude.

KMC-Fuckity. It’s fine. I’m fine. I got it. I can stand. I can walk on my own. Fucking fuckity.

RD-Right, okay. Sweet, dude. Hey I’m gonna hang up the–

KMC-Wait, wait Roger, don’t do that. Can you stay on with me? I’m freaked out out here is all. It’s fucking dark, and like–

RD-Oh, yeah, no, dude, I get it. Yeah. Completely under—yeah, no, totally, dude. I’ve been sleeping with a nightlight for over a decade now.

KMC-Really?

RD-[laughing] Dude.

KMC-Fuck off.

RD-Okay dude, talk to you–

KMC-No,—Rodge, seriously.

RD-[sighs] Dude,—dude, fine.

KMC-Thanks.

[Three minutes of dead air follows. Light laughter and the occasional yawp can be heard in the background.]

KMC-Rodge, can I ask you another personal question?

RD-Dude is this gonna be about my–

KMC-No,–no, it’s not. It’s not. It’s Josh.

RD-[laughs] What about him, dude?

KMC-I’m going to break up with him. Tonight.

RD-Dude.

KMC-Yeah, I know. Not the most terrific timing.

RD-Dude but wait, but wait, why? Dude.

KMC-Here’s what I’ve been rehearsing: Things are so great when we’re together, Josh, really, like, these last seven months have been great, just, really great, and I know you’ve probably like, noticed, over time, and I mean we’ve just been arguing it seems like and the resolutions to our arguments really haven’t been sticking and we’re just, just into such different things, I mean, like, we really don’t have a super ton in common or anything and I feel like I’ve just sort of been afraid to be alone for a while and was really sad about admitting to myself that this just wasn’t working, like really, terribly sad, but it’s just not and in the end it’s just like we’re different, man. We’re different.

RD-Dude, wow, that sounds terrible.

KMC-Fuck, I know. But I don’t know how else to put it, I’m just–!

RD-Not happy?

KMC-Yeah. Not like the way he’s not, but, just,–

RD-Dude, yeah.

KMC-I just can’t do it any longer.

RD-Yeah, dude.

KMC-Do you think he’ll be upset? How much has he been drinking?

[4-5 seconds of silence follows.]

RD-I think he’s gonna be upset, dude.

KMC-Yeah, fuck.

RD-But, no, dude, I totally get it. He can be tough to be around sometimes. But it ain’t his fault so much. He don’t like how he is either.

KMC-I wish he would see somebody.

RD-Yeah, dude, that ain’t happening.

KMC-I know. He’s embarrassed. But you know about it, too, right? And who else?

RD-And ain’t NOBODY else, dude. And dude, it’s super important that it stays that way. Josh would ultra fucking kill me, dude.

KMC-He’d kill me.

RD-No,—he’d never think you told nobody. He’d think me.

KMC-Whatever. Hey, I’m here, I’m outside. Where is the door at, the hell? I can’t even hear you guys,—what, no tunes? Lame.

[A stake of laughter cuts through the background.]

KMC-Rodge, hello?

RD-Dude—yeah dude, it’s—go all the way around. Go all the way. Run your hand along. You’ll—it’s back there.

KMC-God, this fucking ankle, it—whatever. Liquor will help.

[12 seconds of silence follows. The screech of rust.]

KMC-Are you serious, dude?

[A roar of laughter obscures the tape for 6 seconds.]

KMC-Holy, are you—you guys are like,—like the GREASIEST OF DICKHOLES.

RD-[laughing] Dude–

KMC-Yeah, can all of you all hear me? You guys all fucking waiting in your cars or something? Fucking DICK-HOLI-OS. I come ALL the way out here, SPRAIN my fucking ANKLE sliding down this SHIT, and nobody’s here. Holy shit, I’m—I’m–

[8 seconds of silence follows.]

KMC-[whispering] Hey, do you—do you hear that?

RD-[laughing] Dude, hear what?

KMC-It’s like—it’s like chains or something.

RD-No shit, dude, it’s an old garbo grain silo. There’s rusty old equipment like, pitchforks and shovels and shit just decorating the place. Windy as all crap too and there’s bunches of rust holes all in that place dude. Dude, come on back to where we parked dude. We’re all waiting. Prank’s over. We want McDoobles! Mc-Doo-bles! C’mon, Mc-Doo-bles! C’mon!

KMC-[hissing] Rodger, shut up, shh—shut the fuck up, will you? Listen—do you hear that? Oh my god. Oh god.

RD-Dude, chill, it’s–

KMC-[whispering] No,—Roger, I can—those chains. Someone’s in here. I’m alone. Oh god. Roger, tell Josh, god. Please help.

[The tape is muffled for 8 seconds.]

RD-Dude, are you okay?

[Light laughter can be heard in the background.]

KMC-Hello, sir? Hello, I’m sorry, I’m sorry for trespassing, sir. Sir? I’m sorry. I’m going to—sir? [whispering] He’s coming for me. He’s got a hooked chain. His face—oh god—white. [screaming] He’s coming. He’s coming, help! Help! Please! Help me! Somebody help me! Help!

[More raucous laughter can be heard in the background.]

KMC-[screaming] Help me! Please, help me! I can’t move! Please help! Help!

[There is another scream. The tape is muffled for the following 4 seconds. An audible thud follows. A brief pocket of white noise.]

RD-[laughing] We got you! We got you so fucking good, dude! Fuck! I’m dying! Peter, is that camera on? Is that thing still going? Oh, yes! Yes! Dude! We got you so so good, dude! Josh! Dude, I swear to Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus it was all completely his idea, it was Josh’s! The chains and facepaint and all! He knew you’d freak! I’m dying! Oh my god dude! We got you so fucking good! Put Josh on!

[5-6 seconds of silence follows.]

KMC-Oh my god–! It’s–[screams]–oh, god!

RD-[laughing] We got you! We got you so fucking good, dude! Put Josh on! I gotta hear his reaction to this shit! This is priceless! I’m dying! You really thought,–dude, we got you dude. We got you so fucking good. The Internet is going to love this. Put Josh on.

KMC-He’s—oh god, he won’t move! You fucking idiots! I was so–I just grabbed this, this stone and–

RD-Christ, dude, did you–?

KMC-And I just swung, he–Josh!–Josh!–he won’t move! He’s bleeding. He’s bleeding from the head, he won’t—. Roger, he’s–

RD-It was a fucking joke, dude, Jesus! It was only a fucking joke!

Fresh Briefs: Lemonade

Suppose you and I happen to be running rather late to a mutual friend’s wedding reception, which, according to this handcrafted, hand-delivered, rather
tasteful
RSVP (regrets only) in my possession, will take place to-day, a chapped dry July afternoon, on the patio of a home you and I both have not visited, in a booshie, same-looking suburban borough we both do not know,
and the heat could pucker a person’s eyes–
suppose you and I happen to be running rather late, and suppose we just so happen to see, after turning up a street we swear we’ve already been,
a lemonade stand,
abandoned, but still curiously stocked by three pitchers of lemony-sweet nectar, and a mountain of individually serialized paper cups,–if we just so happen to see a lemonade stand, abandoned, erected just off the odd crosswalk there, in front of that old whitewashed, boarded-up, dandelion-swallowed home–
will we go and wait for the child to return?
Because if you and I do not find our way to the wedding reception
P R O N T O,
we will be arriving on the unfashionably side of late,–or wearing an even worse look: like missing the ceremonial cutting of cake/frosting face-decoration festivities.
And at this point you and I have been walking around long enough to be both visibly irritated and more-than-just-visibly perspired,
and at this point you and I are halfway between lost and actually admitting we are lost,
boiling beneath the skin, mouths cotton from gin,–
so tell me, if we just so happen to see a lemonade stand, abandoned, will we skip over, arm-in-arm, and then eagerly pour ourselves each an ice-cold cup from the sweating pitchers of sour/sweet?
Will we leave a couple crumpled bills in absent thanks
(an asking price nowhere to be found on the handscrawled sign,
“LEMONADE FOR SALE”)
before downing one final refreshment, and then continuing back up the baked asphalt hills in a hurried search of the wedding procession?
Perhaps in the moral heights of your light head, you think it smarter to resist the urge, and display patience–yes–God forbid the good folks here think us thieves!
But who, who then would start this lemonade stand only to leave?
Hm,—now who could that be?
Could it be this man here, who squeezes out of the whitewashed home,–this man here with the ruckle-scarred skull, and the bare brow, his mouth a crease, all decked in ivory, a two-piece Italian suit, could it be this withered, crumpled man here who crosses through the comatose lawn, towards us, crushing the dandelion colonies with a spit-polished pair of wingtip Derby loafers, could it really be this cruelly contorted old soul, weakly dragging an oxygen tank at his side (plastic tubes splitting from stubbly nostrils) who unlatches the gate, and then stretches his crooked hands out across the table, and grins toothlessly at the two of us, and snickers squeals at our sugar-soaked lips?