Monday, October 3, 2011

silent night

I don’t want to be Jesus anymore.

Mary’s harping on me in the wings, and I smell golden beets cooking on the horizon. Joseph says, “Hold your tongue, little bitch,” as he nudges me with a freshly sharpened pencil and then scampers off. Everything stinks of mud and straw. The rain’s been miserable lately, leaving a coarse stench of aluminum and kale behind, though it doesn’t come often. I’ve forgotten my middle name again.

“Thorny bastard!” Screams The Little Dictator. He’s mad at me for reasons I’d fathom if it didn’t make me feel so damn uncomfortable.

I walk over the water towards where he’s standing, talking to him well above a whisper: “I don’t go in for all the uncouth blabbering. Hell. I mean, shit. I make enough to ride in a carriage, at least.”

He’s scared. But still mean as hell.

The wind stinks like KFC. I’m not as hungry as I should be. Stomach’s like rotten olives soaked in gasoline.

I catch a glance of The Three Wise Men, who are in camouflage for the day. They can do such things, as they outrank me by more than they should. Muck is their color, and it suits them, I guess. It’s not for me to judge anybody around these parts. I’m lucky just to get to milk a few cows now and again. I’m no-thumbs in matters like those.

“Remember when we were witty?” It’s The Little Dictator. He’s craning his neck up at me. I’m standing real close, pretending, just for a moment there, that I’m a mannequin. It’s a hard task to keep at.


“Who else?”



The lake’s close. I can smell dandruff and bleachy suds. The Loch Ness Monster Replica is moaning to be oiled.

“Mary’s been sneaking off with Grendel again.”

I try not to look surprised. “I’m not surprised.” The Little Dictator looks dismayed. I want him to be dismal instead. “There’s no use hoping for what isn’t. What is is what matters. It’s pertinent.”

With some tears welling, The Little Dictator looks at his shiny leather boots and mutters, “Examples piss the shit out of me.” That makes me feel better. I clear my throat and flip-flop away.

The days have grown dung colored. The flies are thick. A dusty film covers the guts of the manger. I’ve been thinking about shaving again. It’s just a small thing, and it makes me feel freer. Or, at least, more godly.

Over by the lake I see Joseph, who seems to be talking to himself. Then I realize that he’s on the phone.

“Who are you to say who I am not? Who are you to say? I am not me? I am the only me that there is. That is a motherfucking fact of life, motherfucker!”

It all rings false. Stilted. Too well rehearsed. I nod to him, solemnly, knowingly, lovingly, and walk on.

I am not the only Jesus. In fact, I’m just on a per diem basis right now. Two more guys, who are both noticeably younger and spryer than I, are nabbing what they can of the regular hours. Things are slow around here. It’s making all of us a bit jittery. I’m down to twenty a week, and their talking benefit cuts too. If things keep like this, I might have to sell the piano. The other Jesuses are whispering behind my back, I’ve heard, and they’re not happy with their hours being sucked by a on-call shyster like me, as they put it. At least that’s what I’ve heard. Rumors are always psalming around here. I’m praying they’ll go easy on me.

Last night Mary came looking for me. Neither of us has been dreaming well. I was lying on a bed of nails in the dark, and was a bit startled when she came upon me. I told her a few parables, winked at her some, and kissed her brow, after I mopped it off of course.

“Is this your house?”

“Not exactly.”

“But you live here.”

“Almost exactly.”

“Then why do you pound it so?”

“For a living? Maybe?”

“Ah. Fuck it.”

I get these pills from my MD. They make me spooked, so I try to pawn them off as something worthwhile to the folks around here who go in for such stuff. Recently I mad a small transaction with Merlin. He was cooing to his mechanical doves.

“Yo. Magic man.”


“I got some treaty treats hangin’ like sweaty balls from my chin for yous.”

“No shit? Fuck. Like the sound of them clankers.”

“Damn. Magic man. You gotta chill. Shit. I’m all in for the day. But yous gots to keep it real down and lowly.”

“In of that world!”


The doves poohed glue. We both ignored them.

I didn’t want to insist too much. I was tired. But I also didn’t want to seem gullible.

“My man, Mr. Magic. I’m so running on fumes right up in here. I gots to make me some tweety-tweet, you know?

“Oh holy fuck of lord, yes! Oh god god god god god, yip-a-hip-a-yee yes!”

I knew I had him snared. We made the exchange of bills for pills, and I was out like the light bulb in Mary’s bedroom, which I was pondering replacing for her now that I had this little bit of greenery. Generosity does not come natural to me. I have to work at it.

Vapid assholes run the show. I get it. I’ve always gotten it. That doesn’t make me feel better about my smallness. This something that is all that I have, all that I’ll ever have or be, is always, no matter what, better than nothing. That’s, at least, what I keep telling myself. This is my body. This is how I go through the world. There’s nothing to be done.


It was Mr. Salubrity. He was looking not so tiptop.


“There’s been plenty of rosemary in my tea lately. Have you noticed?”


“Yes. It makes my sipping soapy. My gums are sudsy. I don’t think they care…those…above.”

I didn’t care for his ellipses.

In my best sermonizing alto I told him, “I wish you good spaces. Volunteer your support.” I walked away over a fake cobblestone parkway, looking at my toenails and shaking my head. My tooled-leather flip-flops were making it difficult to stay steady, and the hard-plastic rocks jabbed at my feet as I went, but I didn’t grimace or wince at all. I told myself, “No pain no game, you sick son of a bitch.” That helped.

Mary was in the changing room. She was being petulant. I tried to keep my quiet. I didn’t want to get a wimple thrown at me. She heard the sound of my tooled-leather flip-flops on the rubber of the simulated dirt path.

“I hear you, asshole. I know the sound you make.”

I tried to act startled. “Oh my, Mary. Well, how now does this eve find thee?”

“Eve? Jesus fuck nuts. It finds me in a fucking tizzy. Don’t play coy, dick licker. I’m in a vile motherfuck of a mood, this eve.”

I coughed. I swallowed hard. I made choking sounds. I scratched all around my crotch area.

“Well, well. Mary, Mary, Mary. So good to hear those dulcet tones of yours. Well, I must be on my way. Have a good one!”

I began to shuffle away. She cried after me, “Oh, go fuck a lamb, assmunch!”

As I walked, I searched the sky for answers. The moon was the color of pastrami, and the traces of a few early stars salted the sky’s moldy skin here and there. It reminded me of crushed Oreos.

I want to commission a portrait of Mary and me. There will be cotton fields behind us. Angels will be swinging axes in the sky, chopping apart giant insects and littering the landscape with their bloody bug guts. Drowsiness will have eclipsed us, and our bowed heads will be slack-mouthed and limp. She will be wearing a purple cotton jumpsuit. I will be dressed in a unitard. My socks will be bright yellow in my tooled-leather flip-flops. Suffused with a sleepy forgiveness, everything will fluff and softly fall into place. Mary’s hands will be folded in her lap. Mine will be tucked under my chin, as if I am in contemplation of a somewhat dire situation, or asleep on the job.

Today has been a bitch. It’s a rough world in here. The screams of Sand Blasters, Duster 2000s, Scour&Scrapers, and Industrial Howling Wind Fans ruin my early morning peace. There’s always construction work being done. Everything is being remodeled only to be remodeled again when that’s done. It assures a steady stream of jobs for those who build and destroy things. Also, the cottages are being rewired for Hi-Def capabilities; we are told this will behoove us when it comes to receiving signals from above. I’m not sure I can still believe in the power of the word, but it’s near impossible to remain quiet, and it would be even more difficult to stop listening.

I have become suspicious of meals. At breakfast in the Group Area somebody handed me some orange juice. I took a sniff. The glass smelled faintly of egg whites. Perhaps it was the juice. It did seem a tad too frothy. I was hesitant to sip. Sipping tends to get me into the most trouble. But a gulp? Would that be too much, too soon? I didn’t want to attract attention. Eyes were peeled in my general direction. My picnic table was bereft of other breakfasters besides myself. Whoever had handed me the glass of juice was long gone. I thought about giraffes, wondering if they ever cried. It did no good. Distractions were not helping my cause. The glass of frothy orange liquid was there in front of me. It wasn’t going anywhere. “Drink me or else,” it whispered. Or maybe it didn’t. It was hard to tell.

“I’ve been living to meet you.” It was a jockey-sized person in a white rabbit suit. He had peanuts on his breath.


I have no idea why I said this.

“No. No. I hop so much. I munch. I am subsidized by the corporations that own the holes. My ears are too floppy for their own good. What else is there? I can’t see past my own nibbling.”

Looking at the sky, feigning a holy gesture of a sort, hoping to seem wise and sincere, I sighed.

The rabbit-suited person coughed mildly into a paw, and then piped up: “I don’t want a lump sum for my efforts. A tidy little accruement would be fine, over the course of a few months. That will do me just dandy.”

I belched, mildly. Then I said, “Look. I’m just not with it. As much as you think I am it, that there is no ‘with’ when it comes to me and it, well, that’s malarkey. A pile of pooh. Fancy and complicated. We should know better, but we don’t, still. Would you care for some OJ?”

The rabbit stood up on his hind legs and bowed, deeply. He didn’t take the glass of juice. Instead he bounced his way out of the Group Area. I wasn’t happy with that at all. I stood up abruptly and screamed after him, “That’s right! Just hop away, you dick. Never mind me and my troubles, right?” But I was only screaming at a cloud of dust and cotton. I sat back down, almost as abruptly as I’d stood up, and began to ponder the juice situation again. I thought, ‘What a load of sheep shit. Where’s my holy ghost?’ I drank the juice down in one giant swallow. It tasted like salmon and chicken nuggets.

By that afternoon I was a bit more than a tad queasy. After wandering around for a bit among the metal frames of fake palms, I decided to lie down by Baptism Creek. It was warm out, and the sun felt nice on my face. I lay down on my back, closed my eyes, and clasped my hands over my crotch. Soon I was fevered somewhere between sleep and death. A hazy bleakness overcame me. All was a blender’s puree of mashed and liquefied demons swirled with angels. All at once I was lost, gone, and believed myself to be a meteor fired off into the great beyond. There was no going back. I was out. It was easy, and I wanted nothing more than to keep hurtling off and out, farther and farther into nothing.

A noise startles me out of a bleak trance. Blackness reverse pinholes away as I am rushed with bright. I prop myself up on my elbows, shaking my head to clear my vision. John The Baptist is running towards me, his bald head shiny with sweat. He looks piqued. His terrycloth robe is ripped and worn through in all the wrong places. It makes me incredibly sad and agitated. I want to tell him, “Currently, I don’t feel so hot.” But then I realized all modes of communication with others are quite useless. This realization improves my mood significantly.

“Jesus! Jesus!”

He’s getting closer, closer still. Comfort has gone fishing.

“Save yourself!”

I cannot. I know this. I do not even want to ever want to. It’s not too late. It’s too early. I want to tell him, “We were all getting picked over and pocketed by strangers. At least that’s the way the storms told us we felt, in our bones, in our feet, and in the bowls of pistachios we’d snack on during breaks. The times of being lively were well behind us. Being ahead of the game was our last resort, so we tired fish sticks and macadamia nuts. And so, here, then, there’s a whole lot of screeching going on. Metal shrieking against more metal. Raspy and shrill. High-pitched and yowling. Necessary no longer means what it should. We just do, and we do some more, and we adjust, and we maintain our composure for as long as we can. It is all tooth for an eye stuff. As the neon crosses blister the hills. As rust lasts and lasts. Daunting clauses litter the canvas of my formerly blank thoughts about wear and tear. Inspect what has faded, what luster has been lost. Give your attention to and away from detail. Humans are just another blotch on the surface of things. Decide for yourself what it is that you will notice.”

But I don’t tell him this. I don’t even look at him. I don’t hear him. He does not exist. I lie back down. I close my eyes again. There is nothing there. There is no there. There is nothing. This pleases me immensely.