Then I just thought, ‘Well, I’m going to be dead someday. I might as well do something with my life while I have it.’ Then it all just started to happen. It was easy. Nothing to it. I was only surprised by how little any of it mattered, and the less I cared about it the easier it was. Typically I only wavered on Wednesdays and Sundays; and even that was of little help. My overall demeanor was mildly disinterested. A hurl was slopped in my head to tinker with drafty thoughts: a natural kempt hold on what tried to never be there, or just a nodding off to precipitate rational reactions to other more dizzying flights.
“There just wasn’t anyone to talk to tonight. So I got scared and came over here. Here? Here’s where the flophouses get flipped for somebody else’s living. Bottle it all up, shut in, there. There? There’s here’s other motivation. Try me. When it rains we pour. Freeze-dried Americana. Remind me about when there were better things to come. Because, I tell you, a looser tie you won’t find. Your dilly’s my dally, Parlay Vu. And before any tick’s attack you’ll find limes in the freezer, spoiled, left for comatose, creasing and golf-ball pocked. Stalwart and underfed. Fended off. Bored and elated. Badly punctuated. TV staring. Pajama wearing. Head in a sling. Worried about every last thing.
“There’s got to be casement for it, you know? Some outsides to hold it all in. Well, who knows, or can tell, what’s the beef, not where, no, but what, of course, you know? See? Well. Yeah. You heard me. Well. Well. Well. It’s a scorched matter of scalding facts that beat the shit out of, once and after all, the dreary way you make sense of these fuckers doing the fucked-up shit that they do. Ignite. Incite. Whatever. I’m bored with people so easily offended. Go take a bath and get over it, you sissies. There are more horrible institutions making your breakfast goodies than in all the cartoons you’ll ever not see. And that’s the thing. Why do you feel the need to look? If you don’t want to see something, well, just look at something else. There’s no shortage of stuff to see, you know? Gentle looks and big, dark eyes aside, we’ve got to come to grips with being spared or the world will rip us a new one.”
A few laughs lots later, a man enters a small office building brandishing a tennis racket and a pocket bible. Riotous applause, please. Thank you. Now, this guy’s befuddled over some minor trivialities in his demeanor. Nothing suitable or “at will” if that’ll do. “Be little so as not to be noticed.” Some bad advice, followed, and he’s in under his ass. Can’t just will these things away, you know. He takes out a solar-powered calculator and starts crunching numbers. Mild laughter. That’ll do. And he thinks, ‘Just some ramshackle tabernacle.’ And the choir’s warming up in the basement with some seriously phlegmy throat clearing. “Lookin’ mighty likely that it’ll try to scare up some rain here,” goes the building’s Water Officer. Highly qualified to make distinctions twixt the norm and the careless & unusual, the customary and the cosmetic, and soon to not solely just be a “cop” in terms of position but a worn and recklessly edgy cog in the lower-down movements, not unlike a battered cello in need of some heavy-duty servicing. Some shocked calm here, please. Thanks a bunch.
“To pee or not to pee. Or to forever hold your pee,” he quietly asserts. “Level me, soon. I need a John close by at all times, like a strapped-for-cash Lady Of The Night. Maybe with steam coming out of the manholes while she balances herself ass-down atop a fire hydrant, heels kicked up, alit there like Grace Kelly or something, maybe the moon’s glint and the streetlights hazy shine providing the backdrop a halo of class, schmaltzy as it all might be, before reality crumbles her dreams to a morbid halt.” He totters, swung low. The wall holds him up. His lean comes in quick, feet still flat, about as delicate as a bulldozer, as he tries to pluralize his bearings, and his shoulder takes the brunt. ‘Pain’s all that’s real, now. Pain’s all there is.’ A comforting thought that surrenders all other thought to eternity’s tiny grasp. Blunt and traumatic. Forcefully adept. His instincts trigger nothing suitable to surviving. Plus, there should be some gasping and oh-my-god stuff here. Okay. That’s about right. ‘Keep moving. Keep moving.’ The refrain assists his ambulatory struggle. A heaviness lightly strums in his boots. ‘I’m not much of what I always am. Just an idea in others’ heads. Just something dreamt up and put here for kicks. I don’t imagine any of this will last.” Down the primrose path he continues. All’s as it should.
“We cannot keep compensating you for the use of the unused portion of the premises. Here’s your mask. Put it on. Save face. Be critical. Take your clothes off. Leer. Bring that body over here. Have a blessed afternoon.”
So, the guy slims and slides along the wall. A purr’s excuse for a whimper, a sidled prayer. A shush followed by some awed gasps perhaps. Voices recorded in a bathroom. Pretty good. So long Marianne. The glow’s gone from the cheek, but he’s still at it, again and again, while over the intercom a hushed booming voice declares a state of mandatory incongruous dismay: “Who’s left to withstand the pummeled? Deeper shallows of swallowed reasoning conduct their own all-thumbs investigations into these sucker-punched situations. Standards of decency be damned. Drawing distinctions is for the petty and softer-lensed. Be of good care. Take cheer. There’s a moan here somewhere with nowhere left to go. Silence. We’re through.”
Stumped. The mortician’s slumped out of thought. The ceiling’s pocked, Styrofoam, stringy zucchini strands dangling in the a.c.: the confetti of modernity’s rusty interior waving in the chemically antiseptic breeze. Sporting a tweed Chesterfield coat with a gold cigarette holder clenched sideways between a few cracked molars, the guy wends his wiry way through the slightest of gestures. Nothing noticeable let go of at the right moment. And so the burnt-out ex-holy man states his case: “I’m standing as close as possible to the TV from here on out.” A real sketchy marginalized sort of foul-mouthed beast, something to be pounced on, never-questioning looks, expeditions lusted together through halos and sobs, tepid insight doomed to colder smiles, postponed restitution, the closing of all doors. And then the odd-toed among the creatures got even.