Thursday, January 26, 2012

black & white rainbows

I like stories. I like people telling them to me. Ok. I’m going to go ahead and tell you something.

Second of all, it was raining. But, you know that. That’s what I’m talking about, really. There is no first of all, and the second part, well, you already know it. So. So what? Right? Slick, gray streets glistening under pools of sodium-yellow light, the sour soggy bleats of cabs, gutters rushing trash-laden streams downhill, slouch-hat weather all over. Rain and more rain for Etta, all day the day she died.

“Bought her plastic diamonds with my winnings from the track.”


(It’s clearer, just because.)

“Madam Howsler. The one who was so loud in the mornings.”

“Oh those wider eyes, those tears that’ll splash.”

(The right to remain in motion, distinct from other rights, assumes lawlessness prevails.)

“Let’s mince words with comforting thoughts of disasters.”

(A pear, a pit, a huckleberry for all your pennies.)

“Choices get fewer as they abound.”

So, here’s your story.

From building to building we go, by way of car. I go forth strapped to a chair with a seatbelt. There’s crummy food to eat, each other to belittle, lights to make. Honestly, we’ve got it made; it’s just that we don’t even suspect it.

A guy’s tailing me. He’s got his lights off. The car’s a worried Chevy, gray and clanky, and it’s puttering along a few blocks back. Its days of passing smog checks are over. He’s getting hung up in traffic, so I try to take it slow too; give the guy a chance to catch up and get it together. It works and doesn’t. It’s like talking on the phone to a stutterer. I’m glad he’s at a distance though. He’s being careful. I appreciate that. He’s brave, for a wimp.

The influencing factors of my situation were particularly placed off kilter, then things sort of swung in the genial direction of decent luck for me. That was later on, though. Much later on.

It’s not the drops that get to you, it’s the drips. I was drowning my sorrows with bad habits of a more melancholy disposition than you’d ever believe coming from a guy like me. Car tires slushing through the belabored tows of a morning stuffed with mud-marbled clouds and clumpy oatmeal cobalt sky, pouring coffee over it all, grumpy and stiff and too tired to yawn. I was yanking the duvet off the guano-stained mattress of my existence.

I was looking for something distinct about my suffering that might make it worthwhile. A curb to leap from, maybe, and the indifference of bystanders, people who spend their whole lives waiting for lights to change. Terrible things happen to those who wait, sometimes, and I wonder if I have any friends or just people who haven’t become my enemies yet.

“Clearly there is no way I’m going to be fooling all these people into believing that any of this really happened.”

“It’s going on right away, almost now, almost. Got it?”

“Plus, it’s easy to shake it all off. Instants get lost in the proverbial shuffle.”

“Only I am known to know what’s saying yes to you these days.”

“Curiously, it’s left-handedness that gets out of the way.”

“I am loaning you some darkness. Here, give it a shot.”

The rain stopped, and it smelled so clean. Everything was crisp and sharply focused. Details sprung from clouds and gravel just the same. A damselfly drowned in a gutter.

So, the next thing I know I’m crammed in the back of a Datsun with two chubby characters of a dour disposition, speeding along well above the posted speed limit on highway 99, heading north just past Fresno.

She lost the note I gave her, the one with directions to the Hole-In-Two Club’s secret rendezvous. “A cloud’s shoes for your thoughts, honey dear.” There. That’s all she had time to say. “Very nice to not see you, I’m sure.” Something like that; but nobody’s giving out any awards around here. Not just yet.

Case closed.

I am telling this story. It is entertaining. You believe in it, in me, in what I am telling. Look for clues. It is important.

(Hey You! Concentrate!)

The third part is boring. Everybody skips it. They don’t realize what is happening. Let’s move on.

There are no movies playing. The story shifts gears here. Excitement is just around the bend. Hang in there. It’ll be worth it.

The painters went across the street. They were all dressed in white.

I asked them, “Painters, why do you all dress in white?”

The painters painted. They didn’t hear me, or something.

“I am asking you a question, painters.” I said.

The painters painted.

The painters were painting a fence white.

I asked them, “Painters, why do you paint that fence.”

“The show must go on,” the painters responded.

“Does the fence have to be white?” I asked.

“Of course,” the painters said. “It is always a white fence.”

“Pickets?” I asked.

“Always with pickets,” said the painters.

I thought this was sad.

The carpenters came on a Tuesday. They had ice picks and hard hats. Nothing was necessary.

I told them, “This is no mistake. Weekdays are good in theory, but we all know how reliable theories can be.”

“Untested?” Asked the carpenters.

“Mighty,” said I.

It was no use. The carpenters went their merry way.

A part is a whole on its own, sometimes. Voices carry and drown out the splashing. Don’t skim the details.

“I am beginning to suspect that you have no motive, that you are just avoiding linear narrative for kicks, and that you are merely a troublemaker, a lazy hack with the limitations of a television.”


“Yeah, you. Buddy.”

“I plead noncompliance.”

So, as things unfold, in the meantime, while the commercials run, as supper interrupts, we buckle down, intent on originality at all costs. It is in the telling that all hope resides.

A story? Well, here you go:

The barman was gone. It was still early. I couldn’t find the barman anywhere. I said, “Keep!”

Nobody answered.

I poured myself a letter. I mailed myself a drink.

“Where, oh, where is my barman?” I asked the bar.

“Nobody, not even the bar, has such enormous hands,” said the bar.

I kept quiet for the remainder of my time at the bar.

Sketch artists were drawing straws.

“Who got the short one?” I asked.

“We all did!” Exclaimed the sketch artists.

Nobody dropped their drawers over it.

“Can we go now?” The sketch artists asked.

“You already are,” I said.

They were.

Appetizers continued to be served.

Intermission comes and goes. A long hello bakes a goodbye for dessert.

“Where is your beginning?”

“Towards the middle.”

“And the end is…?”


Look! The story is unfolding. Pay attention, or sell it to the government for the price of your independence.

The presidents were singing, “Glory is fleeting.”

It turned out to be the case.

I asked the presidents, “Where are your running mates?”

The presidents said, “They’ve got our names.”

Amends were made.

The jackhammers of debating jerks continued to disrupt the peace and quiet of the world.

The golfers were clubbing a wolf.

“Is it crying?” I queried.

The wolf moaned.

“Barely,” said the golfers. “Just about barely.”

A loaf of bread became worth more than gold. I bowed deeply towards a dense thicket of pine trees.

“Decorations?” I asked.

“We don’t need flashy…” the golfers began to say, but were interrupted by the sound of mimes.

These mimes were minding everybody else’s business. The mimes were in attack mode. Typos abounded.

“Our blood is becoming less bold,” said the mimes.

“I wish that I could wish,” I said.

“Don’t we all,” said the mimes. “Now. Be silent. We’re being memed to death. Don’t look. Tell.”

Birds suppered on late-arriving worms. A bee went into cardiac arrest while sniffing mildly at a marigold. Appetites were whetted.

The anarchists were dressed in browns and greens, except for their blue suede shoes.

I asked them, “Where are your army boots?”

“Bravery is coming back into fashion,” replied the anarchists. “Music tells more than sense could.”

“Fodder rich?” I asked.

“Glowing!” the anarchists exclaimed.

I watched them as they marched single-file towards the ocean.

Nobody argued about the cost of supervision.

“Lose the mustache, commander,” said the Checkout Clerk.

“Not in this weather,” I ventured.

A price scanner beeped.

I said, “Look! Listen.”

The line diminished and grew behind me.

A cocktail cheated on a napkin.

“We have prisms here,” roared the caregivers. “Not prisons.”

“So,” said I. “Not locked up, but refracting.”

“A medium-level light has gone dim,” said the caregivers.

Somebody shouted, “I will take my socks off and shout at the lord!”

I rolled up my sleeves.

“Whatever happened to all the lunatics?” asked Dracula.

“They are dangerously safe,” I replied. “Bloodthirsty?”

“No. Sucker-punched,” said Dracula.

“Keeping up appearance for the ladies, I see,” said I.

A Motorola phone died silently.

The end is almost finished. Just a moment. Meanwhile:

“Give me some of that Pentecostal rhythm, that old Pentecostal rhythm,” sung the sign spinners.

“If it were good enough for me,” I said.

“That’s not the ticket.” The sign spinners said. “Not out or in.”

Ahem. Moving on. Until next time. Lastly, for now, the guy in the Datsun says something to the effect of: “I am stalking courageously (unhip) regarding guerilla tactics (for ground use only) the insights (likely) of those least-known of appropriate actions (like time tables) in lieu of applejack dessert (an open book, this scheme) almost war (over) it besides who cares about spring this time of year (?) no (.) right is now (almost) to (gone with again) there to there it goes (like flowers close) to make reminders of (forget it) exteriored grief or (don’t be sad, my little darling) it’s inside of (it isn’t out) made up (by and bye) squeezed silly and spun (taken for a letter) grants (a) right left late (by way of a passing lane) got without another it (placed to never show) quits before (all of the) bands go home (badly) for good.”

…to be continued