Sunday, February 9, 2014

No Appointment Necessary

The foul rag and bone shop of the heart has gone and lost its dogs. I’ve got enough trouble with my eyes as it is. You see? She wasn’t the sort of girl you’d share an umbrella with or anything, but she’d do. There’s so much damn neon in this neighborhood. It’s slashing all through the streets, catching us doing our dying ahead of time, scrabbling for an out, dear and deep we go, one bottle after another. Just enough time for one last shave. A potion for arrhythmia. An elixir for groin pains. The night fate stepped away for a smoke. Vaulted ceilings and detailed wainscoting, the whole works. Likelier magic doesn’t do the trick. She learned her lessons at an older age than most. The world wasn’t willing to fix it. A girl like that, she ought to have her own floorshow, or maybe she ends up in the back of a prowl car, hiking her skirt back down.

Everyone’s got at least a little bit of decency in them; maybe mine’s beginning to show. All the nice things have gone. And so she says to me, “I’m just hoping that you’ll come looking for me one day. More than anything, I’m hoping for that.” It’s stuff like that that makes you want to drive the nails in before you should. Rudely shattered complacency is all I get left with lately. I’m corroded with it. My nights replete with ungovernable terror. But my observations are shit. Besides, I’m the gregarious type. Enough talk as it is, you know?

My mom and I, we talk about Orson Welles and Roald Dahl, old live Westinghouse commercials for home appliances, tomato plants and bad weather. I ask her about the kids on her block. She tells me that they’re always up to good.

Zombies from mars are invading the breakfast nook. My necktie’s hanging looser and looser all the time. Sweating through my undershirt. Chapped lips and a head made for longing.

There’s a warm chill running through it all, chemicals in the breeze, a dazed apprehension deliquescing to morning’s dew. The announcer’s voice rings in another suppertime waltz. Bad night and worse luck. We’re all here to be juvenile in our most simple and mutinous thoughts. Overthrow our inhibition? It’s worth a shot.

                (Note: my dreams are hyperboloid structures. They’ve got teeth, rope, shovels, all sorts of ordinary things that curve inward as they take shape and then lose it.)

Based on all arcs of comprehension, there are bastards like me all over, and they’re the same all over. A brittle, coarse bevy of lunatics leering close to the fringes of it all. Man, what a drag it’d be to be young again. Outer layers, growling down a fleer, hounding the brash plaster of slingshot nickels, clawed from sheepskin sheets, a lower feeling than down. Flip the bird to the rest of them. I’m out of coins and ideas.

                Trekking down the middle of the boulevard in the late-afternoon’s small bit of rain. She wore gold and yellow boots with lions and blue stars on them. Talking around some coffee in a midnight booth. Refuting’s for the trashcan poachers and the misguided doves. I’m less hell-bent about it now.

                “You had a big part in my dreams last night. A real starring role. Your name in lights on the marquee of my imagination’s theatre. Where was I in yours?”

                “Late for breakfast.”

                “And if we had tire swings? And? What if we made rope from wigs and led stray dogs through the wilderness?”

                “Time’s a big waste with it all. Tuning frantically in the background. That’s you.”

                “But shouldn’t people be more impressed with me?”

                “Maybe. But I doubt it.”


The visitor-side bleachers were dripping with sprinkler water. The wood seats soppy and warped, the aluminum runnels below them shining silvery in the first bright spray of light from the sun. Two slightly dumpy guys in their mid-thirties were wandering around near the base, on the cement walkway in front of the first row. They were both wearing long-sleeve shirts underneath short-sleeve T-shirts. One of them had an LA Rams cap on. It was becoming balmy out: the first sweat of the day breaking out on the two companions. Neither of them were concerned about nuclear weapons or the disappearance of boat-tailed grackles. The moon had just gone down. That’s all.


“We’ve fallen out of favor with the drum-machine crowd. Better put on your dust jacket. I’m working on my pissed-off face.”

“Flowers to put some blight in your day. Frankie and Shirley sitting on a tractor. Point right away from it, and the rips of rain tear the bad lord’s echoes to tatters. Peel me a peach. I am going to all the nowheres that I can.”

“Keeps me up early, this stuff. Like us. Just like bastards like us.”

“Remain. Just. Remain.”

“My cows are too lonely.”

“That too. Yes. There is still that, too. Yes.”

“Hum an ‘ahem’ for me, will you?”




The press greets a benched catcher who is not quite the spitting image of Mickey Cochrane with a smattering of awkward applause. It makes him feel a few time zones behind. Just another way to not catch up to rest of the pack. Nobody’s made for postgame interviews, two-week marriages, and penny-arcade rings like an out-of-work pitching coach. The way the shingles just fall on you sometimes. It’s winter’s hold on what’s not crumby that lets the starters keep diving for seeing-eye grounders. Attention’s a sham. They all roll over on sinkers sooner or later. Take off your hat. Stick around for some of the while.


“Cooler burnings. A sleeker shade of tungsten. Last time I smirked it made my toes itch.”

“This is the life that I’ve made for myself. The same things, here, year after year, and I find myself all tangled up in the end of it, or in the midst of it, or, perhaps, just at the start of something. A bottle of vodka and me, alone in the dark with people dying all around. It’s the way I’ve mapped it out all along: to be here, like this. Breaking dishes and moving by habit. A roar that’s whimpered out. Learned it all so well. And it’s all the same. It’s the same. Days after nights after more of the same. The life I’ve made for myself out of empty bottles and lost phone numbers. I might as well give up and get on with it, or without it.”

“You don’t got it. Not any of it. Not at all.”

“My hate goes with me everywhere, but where o’ where does my love go?”

“Flushed and weary, down, down, down.”

“Trucked away we go with ears pinched instead of cheeks, tongue tucked in them too, and we gust but not like the wind at all. It’s more of a guess, I guess.”

“Never or nor, a bad like this gets to be being better, nearly, something unhealed and worth lost money.”

“Careful. Language can be a tricky thing. Watch it. But you’ll never really see a thing. So, forget it— for now and for later.”

“Drooled me down to this, didn’t you?”

“Beats me. My love is defunct, and I’ve come down with a touch of nothing. And— another ‘and’ too— with this derangement come lately there are certain bills to pay.”

“The go is with it. I’d suspect at least that the barmen in purgatory are worth the while, at least. So, how about a kiss for the dying, Carmelita?”

“She’s just mariachi static on the radio. That’s all. On the outskirts of hell’s give-and-take that rooms with every retired boxer in town. Romp and roam and die alone. That’s all there is to it.”

“I’m all strung out on being solitary. There’s no way to hold on any tighter. Everything’s just some black-and-white comic strip that I’m trying to crayon-in the spaces of.”

“Schmucks like us can’t color in, or even around, any of it. Both of us would be better off scaring up some lentil soup from the cupboard, just sitting around with our socks on, knocking back shots of almond milk, resting uncomfortably on perfectly unbalanced chairs. I’ve got it. I really do. It’s all just carrying around a suitcase filled with scotch and water. Emergency exit only, you know?”

“Perhaps this’ll be the time of our lives when we start chanting about it—the Gregorian monks in us having their night in the moon.”

“Rock with me. These chairs were meant for it. That’s all it takes, and, maybe, that’s all we need.”