Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Parallel To The Sky

            There were shipments. Nobody was receiving them, but there were shipments. That was certain. In the sea’s glittering flashbulb-pops of light, in billboards advertising smiles, in old people dancing at weddings, in the swallowed gray of coined afternoons. Shipments. They were arriving. Nobody was arguing that. Why people argue with inevitable catastrophes is inefficiently documented, but if it were there’d be-- gladly beyond any notice-- a portending of why-nots cluttered by the wayside. Shipments. It was all shipments. There was nothing to be done.
            The sound of machines, the one’s shutting down, those that writhe with credit-card clunks and cranks of a listing clatter. Awake to them, plus a dive and minus a shower, a loose-knit exchange precludes greater favors. Masking the sureness of arrival. To achieve potent techniques of circular breathing. The fracas of basing human exchange on a devalued currency of commonness.
             Growers got wild with machete schemes. Farmers misled their rebel connivers into day-labor disputes over ashes and cigarette butts thrown from cars. Born-first kids were the first to catch onto it, and “We’ve got liars too,” they said, “in the dice.” For the frontier abandoned, for the yolk-busted car-exhaust fiends, for the churlish ton-of-feathers recruiters in the bayside melee, there were handouts to step on and greasy gasoline junkies to depend on. The golden arches shone in the distance.
            The Acting Ringleader of Shipments was haranguing a large group of middleman receivers, using soapbox-serenade techniques and a slip-trigger bolt-action MegaphoneRifle to aid him. Through a slit in the knotty pine wall a thin streak of copper light sliced diagonally through the deck-chair bound audience.                 
            “So, to be fair, there were others insistent upon ordering, and we chopped along with the trend as it best suited us. To each his each, you know?
            “So, let’s outline it like it isn’t, in or out. Swanned to follow the ugly, as it were. And we made a botched recovery for appearances. Upkeep? Never thought of it. Just an unwholesome reminder of decked out loyalty way past the nines. Every local event spaced way past letters and decent numerations of oh-there-I’d-rather-be lunkheads. Perform your own equations. Take a trilby-shaped ride through dog races. Cut out all the pacing and the apprehending, the jilt and the jaw, and become figured out in all of your solutions. Dance to the mishaps of organ grinders. Paperboard your delusions. It gets sappier to be hard up almost all the time.”
            The middlemen clapped softly and grumbled. Guarantees were expiring. They had to get back to their mopish affairs.
            Keeping tabs on the middlemen was becoming a rueful worry for The Acting Ringleader. He wanted to lie around and suck on de-skinned white grapes, roll the tiny gelatinous balls around on his tongue and tuck them in his cheek. This business of being in charge was for the swallows. He went out looking for a bar he could sit around in until night came.
            The bar, it seems, was, almost certainly, called Little Richard’s Recovery Room. It was more than a bit dim, lit by soft red lamplight for the most, and The Acting Ringleader sat down and spent a good while drinking beer on a three-legged stool at the bar.
            To be in good standing with The Archers Of Brows required constant overlaps with chartering blank coasts to ride through, on or in, swept rightly and demanding less attention in the midst of trepidation’s nerve, causing some clear-cut losers to say things like, “You don’t have to be a goober about it, well now do you?” This was true of most receivers as well. Though where and when these receivers actually existed was a point of contention as far as this Archers Of Brows business was concerned. Pushing a Barmaid of Wonder for an answer to this existence vs. nonexistence stuff would often elicit a reply of, “Sooty chumps.” And nothing more. It was the gruel and flack of being alive at this particular junction in the history of the previously unknown world. You put up with it. You did what you couldn’t.
            Tara The Laminated was right in the middle of not-talking when she said, “We had to be intimidated. They forced us,” at the Stand Upright And Be Social Club’s 2nd-stage event. Rightly, near to Who’s Who Corner, the speckled death of detachment came soldering through the fear of life, and in a snap everything rumpled back to a laugh. Concurrence was no longer an issue.
             At Little Richard’s Recovery Room the jarring evolution of hurt stamped the purest pull of redressed hunger in marmalade-colored doom. The Acting Ringleader was in the midst of patting himself down while seated precariously on his barstool. He had no time to own, no rest to be assured of, no luck to be out of, and no way to mischievously disengage with the moderately happy aspects of tumbling better than ever forward slower than he’d ever known how. The aura of it all, with its misnomer of qualifying glances and the likes, staunched better opportunities for his escape. It would, he thought, be better to rant than rave. It would, but, somehow, it wasn’t. The Acting Ringleader sat and sought vainly for the creation of other avenues of shipment.
            In the plantain-colored dust there were stipends of rights gone amiss. A limousine had been welded to another limousine. Nobody was taking pictures. Shipments came but they never went. There was nowhere for them to go. Life became something that was lived by others, or something done to them. In the thwarted calm of idling curbside shuttles a Hairy-tailed Mole raised its paw in the manner of a student who wishes to either ask or answer a question. Nobody called on it, and the Hairy-tailed Mole went back to scouring the landscape for earthworms and slugs, though to an acute observer it might seem that the Hairy-tailed Mole was merely going through the motions of its ritualized life, as if it were perhaps holding back tears.    
            “The ways one can hide unhappiness or disappointment come to form an aegis against emotional turbulence, top-thudded, sandstoned to a squeaky clean finish, of a sort, not to counterbalance graver options that implore one to bear witness at almost all extraordinary/ordinary times. Also, you have a message waiting at the Paging Assistance System Headquarters. Thank you.”
            It was an overhead disembodied voice, and its matriculation was complete throughout all shipping and receiving stations. There were tidal flats of hunches to overlook, and most did, though a strange chipotle-tang essence hung cheaply in the windowless-unventilated-room stale air, causing most mid-to-middle level sightseers to gaze upward and askance. Many articles were left unguarded.
            The Acting Ringleader came to the conclusion, after many frothy beers and handfuls of roasted almonds, that the shipments must be stopped. Possibly this was just a delusion brought on by the absence of reality, or the sour pangs of a bitter stomach with much enmity towards its maker. The idea had just come upon him. He had no idea of how the idea had come to him or where it came from. All he knew was that it was there now, and it would not go away. He stood up, quickly drank off the rest of his frothy beer, wiped his face, briskly, of course, and started towards Shipment Central Supply.
            The Shipment Central Supply Coordinator emerged from the deep cover of shipment shadows to meet and greet him.
            “Nobody scurries like you scurry.”
            “Stop it.”
            “Oh, well, you know, just as your Ringleading time was coming to an end too. So unfortunate really. There was so much hope and fear going around. People were really primed to poke around for answers.”
            “What’s all this got to do with little old you? Ha. I’m closer to my freezing point than boiling at all times. You, of all former shippers should know at least this much. Ha. Wait. I mean, ha ha. There.”
            “Got it.”
            “Not so good. Not so good at all.”
            “And so, I scream, ‘Elect me!’ while the stouter curriers sweat to the clunk-and-crank machine noise. It’s all I cannot do, and most of what I can.”
            “I am rewriting all of your data. STAT and ASAP too. But don’t worry, nobody listens to chickens who’ve lost their heads. Get thee to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport! Recite their terms of use! Pronto and on the triple!”
            “I ship, therefore I am.” 
            “Oh, shipping peanuts. Good enough.”
            “It always is, isn’t it? Good enough?”
            “Never. I admit to everything-- by which I mean nothing.”
            “Shipper’s honor?”
            “Gobbledygook. Tell me your story, charmer. How’d it all end? Come on. I got oodles of bundled time for it. But keep it short and shipper shaped. I’m elderberried by nature.”
            “Well. So. Cough. Clear throat. Cough. Ahem. It was like this…
             “With a katabatic wind at my back and a shoddy two-for-one compass in my hip pocket, I galloped due east towards the National Imprecision Zone, stomping shards of crushed pelican beaks under my arapaima-scale boots. Nowhere were there helicopters to bring a calming drone to my affairs from above. A low-way patrol officer halted me at the corner of Slop and Weston. I told him,  ‘Even the brave get desperate sometimes. I’m only talking to plants from here on out.’ He let me pass.
            “I found a nook between two crevices that was covered with Guinea Turaco feathers and lay down to sleep. When I woke it was evening, and it seemed I’d punched myself in the nose while I slept. Gazing in my bottle-glass mirror, I discovered I was the proud owner of two black eyes; some dried bloody snot was crusted under both nares. I got up, gathered my meager belongings, and made haste towards the sound of a sistrum in the distance.
            “I passed fields of bailed hay and came to a designer courtyard with an arctic motif. An albino penguin was resting on an ice-shelf planter while a concrete narwhal spit algae-tinged water from a fountain. After attempting to cross the courtyard I noticed my brain-tanned leather jacket was covered with dandelion fuzz. A solider of the lower-medium middle class appeared and asked after my business. I told him I was in the midst of a sabbatical from mismanaging my own personal garden of Eden. His face blanched, and then it blushed. I wanted to be as bright as that someday. I told him as much. He managed to offer me some advice before self-immolating: ‘Take the long way home.’
            “A purple spotted cow sighed. I ran as fast as my boots would let me to a tarpaulin-covered hillock. I wanted some restitution for my troubles when I got there; none were awaiting me. Instead I got a hand-me-down remote-control pigeon. I attempted to crash it into a rusted-shut mailbox, but it missed, and instead flew willy-nilly into a medium-sized anthill. Nobody consoled me. The scent of laundry was consolidated with some whiffs of manure and Doritos. I stood there and didn’t cry at all.”