Monday, December 7, 2009

Zolomon's Jewels: the story of poor Ross (prologue)

This is not dedicated to anyone.

Among the things Ross didn't know (no emotional codebreaker), silent and grinding things, roots writhing penile and tentactular deep in bone-choked subterranean clay, here thick clot-blocks heavy with glints of grit, there sliding with runnels of ditchwater pulsing down from the burial pond nearby festering through unkennable strata of crust, was that at the center of that beigely bland building hunkered a mute threat squat, a convergence of malevolent force, several tendrils horribly entertwined like the proverbial nest of snakes but this time no viperish bolus but a sundering nexus of every vicious angle modernity plays 'gainst our hoarse, yammering little lives, empty by default until the straining-toward whatever goal comes shining clear (?) from some sad, thin intersection between biography and history--good sex, a faithful, competent body, task assignments blending challenge and possibility, fetter-free exponenting of your sense of who you might really be, sleeping late when you can, whatever--a vile, rotten nexus of pressure and selfishness and extraction, bullying and judgment and lack and walls and bars and surveillance, expectations left unclear and murky desires designing exitless hotel-lives of juiceless, watery hopes even so unsatisfied: poor Ross didn't know life the world hated her with plans cruelly to use her, grind her every protruding feature away, mash her to a gruel-like paste undifferentiatable from any of these other humans blasted into oblivion. She just thought she had a job.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A hangnail of a handjob

Envelope: Beer label
Letterhead: Milkcrate
Postmark: obliterated


I am most pleased to hear you had an exciting death. I read about it in this threat, written in wood glue on my hangnail, and which I enclose bandaged for your review. I feel so elated about this that I would giggle if not for my “vitamins.” I deposited a fascinating and massive condolence into one of the plastic tumblers in your travel collection while thinking of you and forgiving God. My little anima, you are the most amazing woman I know--would you pass that on to the TT? I’ve changed my plans and will meet him at the cottage the day before it happens. I haven’t left you! Do not worry about your heart, you aroused most caring when your tits fell. Your idea about Collision reminds me of something I read on the wall in a Santa Destroy toilet. Please remember to pack your Wellingtons, the lake is awful wet inside the Realm. Let me hear how you do, darling, send me your dampish panicle of flesh shortly before you depart.


Enclosed hangnail:
Brofather Flynn 'Potatoes' O-Brien take note daddy-o: girl stuffed into three pairs of Wellingtons dead in the lake past the Trailer District. Yours?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

showdown in the standard deviation kingdom b/w gone with the snow

the Union Forever

Christ. How old is this guy? Middle of the night, bars closed, Collision's invited a lady back to his place to listen to records. Shockingly, she has said yes. In a so sadly fucked development, Collision was actually treating this like an opportunity to play and listen to music.

He was perched on a 2-high stack of of milk crates, playing guitar and singing. A shock, his singing voice turned out to be pretty good--throaty shouts bounced off the stupid concrete walls while pudgy fingers moved competently along steel strings. He'd been obsessed with the White Stripes the last couple months, and his song is a (slightly dumbed down) rewrite of their version of Death Letter.

Neither a powerhouse singer nor a particularly gifted soloist, this song isn't a terrific fit for his skills, but he's working himself up to a full-on roar, while the riff spills around the floorboards, slick as soap. Scandalously, the woman's eyes aren't rolling or glazed over, and if Collision (a) puts down the (fucking) guitar (and very soon, at that) (b) fixes the nice lady a drink (c) asks her a question/listens to the answer/asks a reasonable second question, he might still get his dick wet salvage the situation.

For the moment, and to heighten the suspense, let's listen in on the song, however.

Blues for Annie
well I only been in love
3 times on this earth
'n' that's hardly been enough time
t' d'termine the worth of my birth
yeah I only been in love 3 times
in all my nights on th' earth

I know a lot about death
don't know nothin' 'bout taxes
an' all I know about love is
I ain't supposed to play with matches
yes I burned down the place I lived
just trying to heat that mattress
yes I burned up all my love
cuz I couldn't heat that mattress

I don't like to shoot no pool
but she sure makes me wanna bawl
I don't believe in heaven
but that girl she made me fall
and I don't believe in begging
but that girl sure made me crawl
if I was heading for her bedding
don't think I'd be sad at all

yes she left my heart
one broken joke

And we'll just fade out there, shall we? Without peering ahead. In the interest of discretion.

i'm finding it harder to be a gentleman

(Why are all the songs looking for a sad girl?)

Chris Collision sat at the bar, rinsed already in the early evening. His nails were already filthy. A little nervous energy left, he shredded his coaster, dropping bits where the judged the ashtray should have been.

Fucking California.

Some hours into this session, it wasn't clear he knew a handjob from a hangnail, fixated on a wash of needs fanned out like a half-shuffled deck. A plane ticket, maybe, or a shallow grave, a hug, the death of hope, solace, passion, a companionable ear, a mouth around his meat, clean socks and a new notebook, a month to ride the rails with a job at the end, better gin, a ringing phone and being left alone, a wife you don't have to live with and a life you can, a woman, another drink, a woman a woman a woman.

Head-flick flagged the barman, "What're you looking for?"

A tiny woman walked by, hips oddly wide on a sticky frame barely five feet high, stiff gait in cowboy boots under child's jeans. "Somethin' that hurts a lot less than this," Collision muttered, head turned mostly to check the ass.

"What you say, partner?"

"Gin and tonic. Splash of bitters."

"Sure. 'Nother Bud?"


It only really went bad when he reached for his wallet and winced. Peril of placing keepsakes near your holdings' that the simplest commercial transactions can morph instantly into real fucking bummers cuz you just want to buy a goddamned round for yourself and you stagger onto a little chunk of metal she gave you you didn't remember was still in there, tucked behind yr ID. Black hole for emotions, there, pulling all intention and heart on into it and seriously just wrecking the remainder of the evening. Load of bullshit there.

the Same Boy You've Always Known

Collision had gotten himself a job. It wasn't a good job, but it was a job. He got off in the afternoon, tired in the brain and body but his heart racing and ready for...something. His lizard-brain and spine firing irregular and wild, every nerve and thew thrilling and desperate for company. And still he was new in town, another typical lonely man in a lonely city, so the company was the company of strangers, the sharing little more than proximity.

So the post-work was a slow comedown, a couple of hours of relaxing amidst and into the partial satisfaction(s) from copping a buzz alone in public, studying faces like the background music and just floating, semi-permeable, body and else separated and simultaneously more one than normal*, eventually able just to be without the tensions and rage of normal life.

*Vinegar and oil not yet well blended.

Little Room b/w Offend in Every Way

Chris Collision didn't actually hate himself. Of an early afternoon, he'd recamp to his rented room, his bed a loft like barracks. Grunt a somewhat amiable grunt to any roommate, spend most of his time in the kitchen.

Specifically, one time:
Chris Collision strode through his apartment, breaking no rhythm with nods to present housemates nor guests, a frown for piss darker and more pungent than he'd expected from a shift spent, in the main, hydrating.

One egg fried hard and cut to strips, a quarter of an onion cooked low, four corn tortillas and if it's a good week, maybe half a Roma tomato, some avocado. Once even some cilantro.

The whole thing: two cast iron pans, one cleaver. His entire kitchen fleet culinary arsenal squadron.

An hour or so under the homemade loft, leaning back in his metal folding chair; one foot propped high, the clipboard on his knee and scribble his big noir tone poems, love songs to the books that showed him a world behind the world, where lonely men have heroism, stubborn men are rewarded and angry men find reasonable targets.

The bartender, a vast man and placid in his bowling shirt, took geologic time picking his songs. Collision, possessed of no particular sense of humor when waiting on a drink nor propriety at any time, quipped "I like your tent," when the guy got back around behind the bar.

His annoying husky growl actually carried audibly, this time, but at least he didn't whine upon the "the' fuck out, Jack" edict.

i can learn

Brofather Flynn 'Potatoes' O-Brien is elderly, attenuated, superannuated, at this point. Half a geist, shuffling around his Santa Destroy cottage (reduced by time and malevolent entropy to a trailer) in a peignoir, vermillion paste caked on thin lips and sunken cheeks, hiking up his thighhighs, he hasn't got long left. He hasn't had long left for a long time now.

He knows about Collision--he knows all fucking about Chris Collision, you c'n believe that, ace chief--those scant miles to the northwest, but they haven't met. O-Brien hasn't worked with anybody in/for years, when the ragged remnants of the Enthusiasts of the Inscrutable purged even such fringey-religious types as as the venerable Brofather his own self. (This decision O-Brien never tires of calling "a clerical error".) Plus, Collision isn't really O-Brien's style, grading out pretty piss-poorly on verve, panache, and grit, though scoring pretty well on vim and zest. Dash and flair still count as incompletes.

Here is something the aging, doddered (doggering, aged? adding? added? doggerel?) wizard knows: his potency derives from his abandonment of his immediate family (cf apostasy, abdication). His absence has facilitated misfortune, and that precise quantity of energy has been his to wield and direct. That family is all gone now, of course, so that well is dry and O-Brien has become feeble.

Here is something the aged wizard does not know: there is one relative left. He is ignorant of this relative, of her existence and her proximity; he is ignorant of her impending fate and the rushgush of energy her tragedy will unleash thru him one last time. He doesn't know his daughter's going to die.

He doesn't know he's going to die.

(Seriously: magic fucks you up that much; he can genuinely conceive what no rational mind could, that his essence might continue unabated eternal.)

Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground

Ross was on her fifth cigarette of the afternoon, and it was 1.30. She'd been awake since 9, up since 11, propped artfully in her window, smoking. Thinking and smoking. Early, her fingers yellow.

Sun flooded the room, limning each mote of dust and flake of ash, the sleeping bag on the bare mattress, the thick rubber-banded sheaf awaiting attention. Ross was tired after another night of gusty, light-grey sleep, and was tired of these days of broken things and nothing to do, days spent, like this one, rerevis(it)ing her sexual CV.

She was worried about her heart, a little, because she couldn't seem to bring her self to care much--nothing for the boys who'd pledged their love (and later, exploding in apoplectic snot and tears with rage and bitterness at her betrayal, pledging their loathing enmity), nothing for the men who'd applied themselves to the study of her orgasm, nothing for the unappealing admirers who'd wretchedly given, nothing for the husbands those whole-lifed attempts to a life, nothing for the wives abandoned, at least for a time, in her inconstant wake, nothing for the young women seduced out of the coffee shops, or the young men fucked for their roofed beds out of the bars, nothing for the times her whole heart had been in someone's hands, nothing for the times she'd suddenly become bored, then wholly lost, nothing for the devoted, broken men who gave her everything but a healthy, happy partner, nothing for the time that passed and the times the two people then couldn't recognize or remember the two who had been, nothing for the happy men whose dicks always got hard, nothing for the sad men whose cocks faltered and made 'verything worse, usually irrevocably. Nothing for the men who'd strayed inexplicably, or the men she'd wandered away from unpredictable capricious as an ill-flown kite, nothing for the addicted or for the entirely disassociated. Nothing for the men who wouldn't touch her on the rag, nothing for men who relished it.

Worst was nothing for herself, the common element in her entirely unsurprising and unexceptional history. Not even her usual amiable self-loathing registered. Like looking over a stranger's checkbook, in a language she didn't read--the numbers the same, the quantities in and out, but nothing attached or attending.

She could feel--felt--some little despair at not feeling, and this way emptiness curled and recurved into frothy feeling like bubbled water ensured it was time to drink. Unbeautiful Ross unpropped herself from the window and swooped up those acoutrements necessary for leaving, left.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

slippery catfish in imminent danger

Sometime some years back in oh let's say the '50s there was a bunch of scientists dicking around with the gloppy fruit result of their dicking around with molecules. Grabassing around the lab it were determined discovered that a glob of their new, useless substance, when cold and pulled would transmorph into frank strands; something close enough to previous nature-manipulations both animal and vegetal to lend itself to old known technologies like oh let's say weaving.

Which is why at a rather different time Charles Stolichnaya could stand in a wildly overpopulated kitchen wearing nothing but woven plastic from the hips down. (Girding your loins with heavy technology applied to dead dinosaurs is, beyond disputation, cool.) Shiny stiff plastic pants were rolled to just under the beginning of the curve bulge of his statuesque calves. Plastic socks were pushed to a foldy pool around each ankle. Wide wedges pushed against a stained, sticky floor as Stolichnaya's grapefruit machete twirled gaily, its mottled blade glinting consummately in smoke-clogged air.

The Rain's-Gone Cotillion rumbled splinterwise around him as Beat tried to wrap up his salad preparation. Smoking a joint like a noir hero'd smoke a cigarette, pinched nigh-forgotten between tight, insouciant lips, in honor of the permanent banishing of scarcity everywhere forever did not seem to be helping any momentum except the errant erratic sort possessed by his blade, and curlicued figure-eighteens were traced multiply as more than one partygoer had occasion to wish either they'd kept a wide berth from the kitchen or that 'ass would put the fucking cleaver away already.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

living on earth 101

The Thorn Triad once had a conversation, sometime in the middle 50s, all tweaked out of their fucking minds on speed prescribed so they could reattain their pre-kid figures post-kids. Flawless makeup over pallid skin, their hair starting to fray and stray, motormouthed and intense. Children, in the background, frolicked and scampered in their repressed ways. Mothers leaned toward one another, caparisoned in pastel plastics, ignoring their thin cold coffee in cheap china cups. The conversation they had escaped time and fled to the past. Eventually, the brute fact of vampiric activity combined with this conversation into an idea, and the Ministry of Science began to work on human-driven giant robots. As previously mentioned.*

"What If...a NINJA...was also a VAMPIRE!?"

"Idiot. THere's no such thing as ninjas."

"A highly-trained stealth warrior, a man already capable of evading any eye, penetrating any fortress, snuffing out a life near or far with hand, steel or even magic...suddenly gifted with a thirst for the stuff of very souls... What defense would--could!--humanity mankind muster 'gainst such a dire threat?"

"Obviously, only giant robots, controlled from within by tormented young jocks, could hope to stand between the huddled masses and these shadowy menaces."

"Yes! Technology and magic controlled into organic mineral armor, which can only be controlled by those why can Wear Their Souls on the Outside!"

"The vampires would HUNGER for such souls--"

"Well, yeah. Duh."

"But government magineers would build cunning Infernal Engines to boost the potency of these externalized souls, giving them, probably, the powers of saints-turned-angels! Heavenly fire theirs to command, their heartbeats windstorms--truly are they become Gaia's kidney and liver, filtering out the toxins feeding on her healthy micro-souls...

Yes, and as those filters, they would be able to command demons, tiny flying gremlins, helpmeet monsters with jagged faces and sharp hearts like chipped flint. Little rude tools, those hearts, big as Churchill's fists, and the monsters live strapped 'cross the waists and trunks of heroes, ready in bandoliers to deploy and seize environmental advantages.

Meanwhile, ninja vampires skulk and sneak, owning every darkness and exploding (from a lurk) into the throats of any nightmare. Eat like wolves made of termites, travelling always under the cover of shadow."

*Exposition is hard, guy.

beginning of the contradiction

[After WWI; left coast.]

Imagine a pair of leather(n) overalls, stitched thickly into a denim speedsuit. The effect is that of in-built chaps and apron, with belt-mount hardpoints, and bandolier loops ringing thigh and calf, crossing trunk. Charles Stolichnaya drags himself out of the steam tunnels, dusts off his home-made uniform, and prepares himself for another shift at the Ministry of Science.

He's essentially a janitor.

Most of his day is spent cleansing and polishing in the sub-basement assigned to Cold Metals. He looks like a robotic bug in home-made goggles--gleaming bronze bent bands retaining flashing disks of transparent aluminum, rings of cracked black cahoutec snug on his face, four leather(n) straps holding down the entire apparatus. (And butchering the haircut his long-suffering landlady gave him the other night.)

On his shoulders rest woefully underpadded canvas straps for the steam-power-pack he carries. It powers two pistons spinning a wheel to which attachments may be bolted, enhancing his work capacity. The glow of radium greens away, everywhere.

The sub-basement is vast, criscrossed with catwalks, and housing many of the Ministry's largest projects. Stolichnaya is finishing the polish job (chamois flying over brass and silver) on a collection of squat cylinders resolved into a vaguely humanoid form--"A good shape for a prototype design," sez Dr. Tesla, "because everything's gotta start somewhere." That august personage is due by after lunch to show Stolichnaya how to apply the newly-developed whalewax to the clunking automaton. (Stolichnaya has yet to develop a feel for the manifold possibilities of Leviathan Linament, and middle management has acquiesced to Tesla's desire to have a hands-on with the young janitor.)

The Ministry is developing humanoid armor for exclusively technical reasons--their goal being a specific kind of "enhancement of human capacities," a big device amplifying all a human's physical abilities seemed pretty natural. Plus, tanks, cranes and planes all prove to have control interfaces which are surpassingly daunting. It is theorized that a tool that walks and grips like a woman might be easier to operate.

Not that they've found an operator yet. "Gibbering madness" is too strong a description for the reaction of the candidates to being encased in the HollowMan, but at the very least everybody's been pretty creeped out. If your heart seemed replaced by wheezing bladders, your joints now grinding gearwork, bowels filling with cinder and ash, you might well be prone to bad vibes.

It takes Charles Stolichnaya metric forever to get to work in the work in the morning. He's got to ride his high-wheeled bike thru the steam tunnels connecting Long Shore City with Coast Hill City. Sheer distance combines with the rudely paved streets and his tendency to dawdle. Luckily, he's got plenty of his time, because he has, in the parlance of a later era, no life.

Two years earlier, he'd ridden his bike from Gorge City, where he could no longer afford to study, nearly all the way to Queen City, where he'd been spawned, abandoned. Alas, his ordinary had juddered itself (in)to pieces, and he'd hopped trains the rest of the way to Coast Hill City. His half of an engineering degree got him in the door at the Ministry, but he's not yet worked his way up to bottlewasher.

He lives in the Breadfan Arms, a SRO built over the Four Winds Bar, a long brown rundown drive that Stolichnaya can barely afford to set foot in. Of a saturday, he'll ramble downstairs to wash dishes for the cook and sneak pitchers of porter, an engagement comprising the whole of his social life apart from the Ministry.

He'll start his saturday by waking up, still in his homemade speedsuit, strip, and pad down the hallway to the water closet. Washing by hand, he buckles the 'suit over the swingarm of the casement window to let it hangdry all afternoon. Most of his day, he'll sit on the floor, leaning against his bed, reading shoplifted pulps, or scribblesketching on one or another paper bag. A foul cigar's rarely far. Push-ups, masturbation. Staring out the window.

His writing is a multi-layered collage* of memories, plans, and dreams. In turn: (1) the Latvian exodus he hardly retains, the unspeakable blandness and emotional aridity of his Queen City childhood, his two years at sea, his two years of college, his tramp time in the before-now. (2) Bikes, mostly, but sundry airships, pencils that sharpen themselves, an updated sporran, some way to carry a music hall in your pocket. (3) Sex, mostly--Charles hasn't had sex since college, and even that had been a meager ration compared to his time at sea.

Like most young men who've been on their own for half a decade, Stolichnaya feels himself rather old, swathed in responsibility, affecting resignation until it's internalized enough to expel the disappointment that this...apparently, is all there is. Obviously he inclines a little toward the humorless.

So though he'd love--love--to break off a zesty piece, he won't really attempt. The rationalization being that he's too broke and bearded to attract a reasonable female, and too drunk and tired of the scene to go and rent a woman. (His self-involvement is such that it won't occur to him that he lives in a large, alienated urban surround, likely chock-full of women as lonely, lovely, and longing as himself. Why, it's likely that in his very own SRO building, there's a young poetess nursing a similar set of hedges against connection, similar ambivalences with respect to intimacy...) His buddy Potatoes, the cook at Four Winds Bar, has him doing experiments, though, with not-masturbating, and trying to get in touch with that infernal unfocused energy which results.

Potatoes tends to blow Stolichnaya's mind. This is a worldage still not quite adapted to dada, while Potatoes seems already to have read everything and discarded most except in the ways he can juxapose it. He's a seriously unhandsome man--scraggly beard, implausibly thin and rather clumsy, sundials for nose and adam's apple, zero chin, awful bangs over a forehead not quite symmetrical. Dresses like color-clashing is the toll he pays to get on Handjob Highway, heading toward Bustanut City.

But he's read everything, and doesn't seem to mind talking about any of it. He's got a disconcerting habit of rehearsing an argument before marshalling aught against it, but Solichnaya kinda likes it, finds the ebb and flow compelling and soothing. Plus it's sorta cool how Potatoes doesn't mind doing all the work in a conversation.

*Yes, I know the word palimpest.