Betsy Stogerpan swept her hand across the table top and stopped. "Don't look at me like that, Arthur T Warrenbrood."
Arthur Warrenbrood shrugged and dropped his sunglasses down off his forehead onto the bridge of his nose.
"You're drunk, Betsy. Take a chill."
"I'll tell you when I'm drunk. I'm sober. I'm so sober my molecules are starting to atrophy."
There was a silence. An airplane flew overhead with a banner. It didn't say anything. It was just white.
"Must be disappearing ink," Arthur said, pointing up to the sky.
"You're sober, Warrenbrood. Take a drink."
In our third session Bob confessed his attraction to ottomans. Specifically ottomans made of velvet.
"What is it that turns you on, Bob?"
"Velvet ottomans," he said. "
He exhaled and slouched. "They make me feel big, and they are really soft."
"What is it," I folded my notebook closed and leaned towards him, "that makes you desire to feel big?"
He sneezed and said, "My mother was a third string trumpeter for her high school marching band. She blew her trumpet, but not well enough, apparently."
I shrugged. "What does that have to do with ottomans? And feeling big?"
"My powerlessness over velvet ottomans really blows," he said, and looked out the open window.
Imperceptible bubble people perturbing the surfaces. Fidgeting finger lilies stimulating the fudge bowl. Mother wanted to have her fudge and eat it too. Father wanted to come and go as he pleases. Things fall apart. Relationships never last. Desire is an hourglass accelerator. We were born to janitor the dread of our long life hallway. We were born to fret over every grain of sand. We post a sign. We make a stand. But trash blows thru our picnic worlds. Waste flaps up into our disenfranchised eyes. toxic radiation tarnishes our words, which we spew without filter into the great big picnic world of people born to accelerate the day. Born to amplify the decay.
She stands to her feet and adjusts her shirt, pulling down all around to straighten out the crunches. With a case in hand she leaves the room without making eye contact with anyone. I'm over here. The guy in the shitty business shirt. I'm straddling two kingdoms: art and commerce. The chasm between them is growing. I continue my straddle. My pants are beginning to tear. I have to let go of one or I will plummet to my doom. My interests are not aligned with my financial obligations. My finances collect no interest. My art is not obligatory, nor is it interesting. I just sit here slamming on the keys, hoping something intriguing will come out. Sometimes it does. Sometimes I connect with the creation stream. Sometimes I connect. But I am always connected with the debt stream. I'm considering the worst case scenario. I'm listening to podcasts by hucksters. Envy bangs the gong.
Greetings impossibility consultants. I know you have your report ready. I know you've established probability metrics to pass your proposition through my resistance system. Let's have it. I'm ready. I know I'm ready because I went for a long walk through the late summer afternoon in a muggy park where muggers park. I know I'm ready because sentimental lovers paused their kissing as I passed them by. I walked through some overgrown shrubbery and almost stepped on an ant hill. I know I'm ready because my eye-lids are resting easy, floating at the midway point, softly levitating above my cheek. I can see out, but I am constricting the light coming in. I'm conserving brain energy so I can process your impossibility report. I am ready for it. I ran 6 miles last night to burn off excess energy, so any rage you trigger will be smoted under the dense blanket of my great fatigue.
Terms dazzle the widened eyes as they stream in glorious illumination down the paper sky. Thought leaders erupt with word combinations and phrases that fill our audiences with oooohs and aaaahs. Beer drinkers and aging jocks scoff and roll their eyes, but those who have maintained their humanity are full of praise and pride. Those who know truth when they see it are seeing it pour from your words, which erupt from your mind like a colorful geyser of phonetically arousing truth. Your fingers are just a conduit for God's message that he is pushing to his ancient creation. The spirit gets hold of you and you can't put your fingers down. You're tossing letters here and there like a conductor throwing orders to fast working musicians, and the notes are coming together into life-changing melodies.
I'm creeping up, smiling, with my cohort of basement dwellers. We're smiling off the fragments of a lingering joke. We're emerging into the open spaces carved out of the universe by the sun and a dependable atmosphere. We're smiling off the remnants of a swell of relief and now we're going to our own places to be. Strangers are rearranging the chairs on the sidewalk and positioning themselves in just the right spot to sip their latte. I know how I am with these things. Each task gets a certain amount of attention. The next task suffers from want. I give it my all, but the second task is often smiling off the fragments of my diminished effort. The second task is often smiling away the remnants of my spent mind. I know how tasks are. The first one is dazzling and erotic. The second one is frumpy and Amish. I'm left smiling off an exhausted moment and looking for a joke to get me home.
Sometimes the frenzy is too much. The carpenter can't tolerate pounding one more nail. The dentist refuses to say "spit into the tube" even one more time. Sometimes the inertia overpowers the one who started the ball rolling. You look back and realize you are miles from home. You look down and realize the ground is not as close as you thought it was. But gravity will get its way. And love will send you an invoice for its services. Failure to pay will incur severe penalties. Love knows what you want. You certainly don't. You think you want a helicopter. Of course you do! But you are wrong. You want a lover to snuggle with. You want a close companion to witness your struggle-conquests. You want a snuggle puppet to press your face in to. But sometimes all life gives you is a pillow, and you are forced to press your face into that - a thousand miles in the air, a thousand miles from home.
Wake up, genius. Evil transmorphs and adapts to your righteousness campaigns. Did you really think your dumb little morality stand would not be faced with a counter-attack? Wake up and smell the warfare. Evil shrouds itself in white robes and taps fancy symbols and sings uplifting songs, circling your judgment orb and constraining your decision-making apparatus. You pass judgment. You demand allegiance. But let people make their own choices and learn their own lessons. Let them fashion their own memories and character in the omni-flames of this rapidly expanding universe.
Bad angles and low lighting. Dust clouds swept into the ceiling fans, raining down on ancient writers. Crypt dwellers typing on their miracle devices, reaching for the life giving tit of attention and affection. Forever reaching, and typing. Forever repositioning their spirits to get in touch with that softness of heart, which they remember feeling so long ago. Heart beats echo in the hard heart chambers. The surface cracks and shows wear. There's a snap here and there, then steam and heat. The ancient writer taps out something honest. The ancient writer admits a weakness, and there is another crackle on the concrete surface of his suffocated heart. A walk on the dock. An honest song. A repentant prayer. Now that heart is, slightly, pulsating. The beats echo softer. Ancient writer reclaims a little gain in his entrenched heart.
A mob of angry citizens surround me with their mobile phones and their buckets and shovels. "What do you want from me," I plead. They dig into the earth with their shovels and fill their buckets. "Eat your own earth," I plead.
I wake up in the lawn. The sprinklers click on and my pajamas slowly drench. As I walk back to my front door I notice my dog digging a hole. I'm too tired to discern the significance, so I amble into the kitchen. "Hi honey," I say and make my way for some toast. She looks up from her mobile phone. "Fall asleep on the lawn again?" I nod my head. "Yeah."
As I'm slathering my jelly all over the face of my toasted bread slice, Joey-Six-Pack rings the door bell. I swing the door open and Joey says "Hey man. You piss your pants." He points to my wet pajamas. "No. Sprinkler." He nods. "Here's your shovel, dude. Thanks for letting me use it."
The iron rails have been pounded into the earth. But what holds it there? Spikes? Don't they become loose? We walk so full of confidence, as if every thing we fix will stay fixed. But the earth does what it wants to. It has no master. We can blow it up with dynamite, or move it with our monster tractors, but it will always do whatever, and can not be depended on to do what we want it to do. And as powerless as we are about it, there is also a comfort in knowing our limitation. There is a comfort in knowing the earth is masterless. We each have our place. We've each been pounded into a certain spot, and we are expected to say within that confined location. If we try to be something other than that we loosen, and everything breaks and falls apart all around us.
Leon was a tradesman from Portland. He never thought he would be in Japan on a game show. But he won the damn thing, and now he had a stack of yen to spend. He didn't really know how much, but it filled his backpack. He bought a bottle of water and a fish sandwich and barely made a dent in the stash. His mother told him not to gamble. His father told him not to eat meat from other planets. He was a good boy who just wanted to be loved. But then there was the divorce. His parents drifted apart like mute political parties. There was no anger or rage. There was no yelling. They were suddenly separated and he had to no navigate between two houses instead of one. Authority crumbles. Security fragments. Now all he wants is liberty. Liberated Leon, who does as he pleases. Free Leo, who goes where he wants to and eats the fish of other planets.
Drifting opinions explode over the crowded connector circuits. Bone shards protrude. Brain colors spray placid images across the canvases. Sip sip. A thousand strangers in close proximity nurturing, gardening, and feeding the isolation crops. Time and false beverages will bring the mighty harvest. Isolated stranger people, tapping their feeling mechanisms. Finger pushers sliding pixel objects around a glass casket. Pocket-sized caskets shrinking us down to the right size. Death-sized. Work hard, you said. Party hard, you said. Save money, you said. You did none of it. And now you sit in well nurtured isolation, covered in fake luxury and painted gold.
Have you ever tried to open a coconut? It is like a brain puzzle from hell. The shell is titanium covered in strange bark shrapnel. You pound it on the counter. You drop it on the sidewalk. It will not open. So in a huff you make a run for your sharpest knife. But the bark shrapnel repels the blade, and you are left standing there, like a dolt, with an unopened coconut and a dull knife.
But you are persistent. You climb to the second floor and drop it from the balcony. When that doesn't work, you back over it with your fuel efficient SUV. Then you pound it with a hammer. You pray to your lord while laying hands on the unholy orb. And finally you power up your circular saw and bring the screaming blade to the brown enemy. But the spinning blade just shoots the coconut across your garage, and it crashes into your garden tools. And you remove your safety goggles and make a perplexed expression. Nature has beaten you. The coconut has won.