Take a Cotton to Fantastic Slights

The first thing I did when the Son of God materialized in my living room one night was take aim right between his eyes with a Tec-9 submachine gun. “Put up your hands, creep,” I told him. He responded by hovering in the air with arms outstretched, emitting warm light.

“What in hell is the meaning of this?” I asked him. “You weren’t invited. You’re a goddamn vampire—I have to let you in.”

“Do you know in your heart that I am Jesus Christ?”

“I had a feeling. Nice robe. You’ve come to kill me, haven’t you?”

“I am here to wash away your skepticism; I’m here to welcome you into the light of the LORD. I exist, Sarah. I Am.”

He spread out his hands full wingspan, emitting a golden glow. A gust of wind scented with the air from a far-off beach ruffled my hair, stinging my eyes; songbirds trilled; all around me I could hear a celestial chorus, angel voices, harmonizing in a language that I had never heard.

After a moment of the strange sensations, I cleared my throat. “This is all very impressive, but seeing as how everything you’re doing can be done with illusive stagecraft and trickery, I choose to believe this is an elaborate prank. And also, felony trespassing.”

“I am your one choice for salvation!”

At which point my trigger finger shivered and I blew off Jesus’ head. He hit the floor like a twenty-pound sack of rotten Idaho potatoes. The glow went out of him like that.

“Oh, Jesus!” I shouted to the room, suddenly empty. There’s something about the violent death of the only other person in the room to make you feel acutely aware of how utterly alone you are. How open to attack you are by, say, an air-to-sea high holy missile, which will probably be arriving imminently, as soon as the G-man hears you’ve killed his son.

Which only raises further questions. How does this message get relayed? There’s no witnesses. Does he already know? They’re the same person. Oh my lord, what if I just killed them both?

I peeked out the window and saw the fabric of the world dissolving, ripping apart from itself like wheat in a thresher. “Oh, fuck,” I said. “I’ve destroyed reality.”

At which point I put down the machine gun and began to perform CPR on Jesus. Blood spurted from his lower abdomen, where three bullets penetrated him below the ribcage. A fourth took off part of his ear, and a fifth one went into his eye. The other eye was staring, unfixed, and I was like, this motherfucker’s dead. And as I was breathing a rescue breath into his mouth, it occurred to me, hell, he’s come back from worse, right? Rome killed him last time, and Rome was friggin’ brutal.

Which reminded me of the Resurrection. Of course. I dipped a finger into the ashtray and drew a crude crucifix on my forehead, hoping this would stave off any possible attack from the Undead Risen Christ. And then I took the machine gun back into my grip. Backed a chair into a corner. Peered out the window, from behind the curtains, carefully. Outside, stars were blinking out of the night sky, leaving nothing but a yawning dome of infinite black. Well, no takesies-backsies. Excepting a few beautiful flowers indigenous to the island of Japan, this universe sucked dick. As it collapses, I empty my clip into the once-sheltering sky. Thus we surfboard into nonexistence. Friends, I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry. I hope you have time to grab a Bud Dry before the end, here, and forgive me. I simply know not what I do.

Photo Credit: Getty

 

kill me violently with a machine gun

The following is a work of fiction. Free association. When real events are described, they are moments long past. Many things in the text did not happen. It conceals no greater urgency, and is uncomfortable to read. 

Rip me limb from limb. I deserve to be destroyed.

Kill me violently with a machine gun. Everyone deserves to be killed.

Paint the commons with my viscera. Blast my guts into the wall.

The first thing you need to focus on upon waking is your own destruction. Implore to others. Stab me violently with knives. Run me through with rusted spears and polearms. Throw me off a tall building, or a short one, onto spikes. Lay me down in dark traffic. Hold me underneath the water.

“Drowning,” the psychiatrist said to me across the desk, reading back my own words, from all those years ago. “That would be a good way to go.”

My mom was twisting awkwardly next to me, unsure of how to receive the news that her creation had spoken of its own demise quite earnestly, at some point, with the woman across the desk.

“Do you remember saying that?”

I smile, not meanly. “Yeah.” It’s the only thing that I remember, the aspect that makes the memory click. I’d forgotten I had ever been here, otherwise. I was on a lot of drugs the last time I came here. I’ve remained on drugs a lot.

These things happen. I don’t remember things. I get flashes. Vomiting wood and plant matter in the headlights of Joel Wynn’s car, somewhere. Some curb, some space of land that exists only in my memory as an island, ending at the reaches of its light source, only mystery beyond.

Kill me violently with a machine gun… everyone deserves to be killed.

My body twisting in the bed beside my mother, eyes open, half here, half out. Lights up and the lack of hurt, the pragmatism of what is to be done right now, a voice on the phone that I don’t understand, words from my mouth they can’t either. It’s all so incredibly funny.

Everyone deserves to die. Especially me.

I wake up in the king bed next to my mother, turned away from me across a barrier of blankets cold and thick. The room feels like my childhood, hermetically sealed. There is a serene chill to her bedroom. There always has been, and I wake up to it now, remembering nothing. I know that she is sad. I don’t remember anything. I don’t feel anything at all.

I won’t recall this episode until some years later, when she mentions it to me, the pills that I was eating on the floor, my disorientation on the phone call. “You didn’t even know who you were talking to.”

“What? When was this?”

Didn’t remember. She carried that for two years, I never carried it at all. I left it in the bed. To this day, I don’t remember what the phone call was about.

These are what you call your medical emergencies, these little stretches where you stick your fist inside your chest and start to pick at the walls of your heart, with chipped nails. You get somewhere beyond navel-gazing. Your hand is up inside you. Pulling. Wrenching. Kill me or come loudly. What do I want? What do I want? Am I going to goddamn find it in here?

A rising heat of anxiety attack. Look up out the window, in horror, at the trees. They live peacefully. Swaying in a gentle breeze. They are watching you die.

In the coffeeshop I avoid catching my face in a reflection and ask myself if I ever think I’m going insane. And then I sip my coffee. There’s a moment of clarity. I say “yeah”, aloud.

This sort of thing happens all the time. I am always coming back from it. Back from the bathroom floor, the precipice, the haze. Hey, you should kill yourself! No, not now, later, later, that comes later… Calm down.

You’ve got so much left to do.

Photo Credit: Weapons Man

A Journey Through the Sandwiches—Club Sandwich

They unclip the velvet rope as you swagger in, entering a smoky anteroom beneath a purple awning that reads, in cursive, Herve’s. A song is playing with a beat that throbs, the melismatic voice of a female singer stretching out over an ethereal soundscape, like waves crashing on the shore of a cosmic beach. The bouncer looks past you, unsmiling, the knot of his tie at the height of your head, gold rings with diamond inlay on his fingers suggesting a sort of aristocratic menace. Those diamonds have had blood cleaned off of them before. So has the floor, come to think of it, invisible though it is in the dim light. You’re all but ignored on entry, but this just means that you’re welcome—the fact you haven’t already been tossed out to the curb means you are, indeed, a valued member of the club. The ease of entry is a perk. To a certain set of the elite, Herve’s is meant to feel like home.

The elevator has no buttons—it goes down if you’re allowed, a kind of second barrier to keep out the occasional fraud. Either the elevator is slow, or the club is unfathomably deep—nobody knows. Even in public records, Herve’s is an utter mystery—no blueprints, no paperwork. Officially, it doesn’t exist. Do you know the sort of price it takes to make a place like this so invisible?

At the bottom, security steps up again—three bouncers, this time, men with the stature of gorillas in custom Valentino suits. These gentlemen are more congenial—if you’ve gotten this far, the last checkpoint is a formality.

“Miss Szabo.”

You raise your Oscar de la Renta sunglasses—the ones that you found at a Florida bus stop. You tip up your chin to the trio. “What’s good?”

You are guided down a spiral staircase, ever deeper into the belly of the city, down beneath even the sewers, where the core of the earth is more deeply felt than the warmth of the sunny sky. Now the music is a flouncy thing, a throwback track, live from the main stage, now visible over the silver banister. You pause for a moment to take a pull off of your vaporizer, your prized Cloud EVO with the ruby inlay, and personalized embossing in gold ink—я не буду целовать тебя до утра; to my princess of the West.—TimurBelow, a youthful singer with a radiant glow is swinging his way across an opulent stage, bordered by a proscenium that would not look out of place in ancient Rome at its most decadent height. He is singing a brassy version of a classic tune, hypnotic to your ears, uplifting to your soul, as though it were all just for you.

Life’s a bitch, and then you die / That’s a-why we get high / ‘Cause you just never know / When you’re going to go…

She calls your name from the middle of the floor, your usual table, with an unusual crowd—save for her. It’s a typical weekday evening at Herve’s, not full, not raucous, but still with a sense of constrained menace, as though the club were really a ballroom on a supersized palatial ship, traversing dangerous seas. You recognize her by the glint of her emerald necklace, a twenty-stone antique rumored to be worth upwards of thirty million dollars—it’s Mana Hitomi, pride of Tokyo, dancer, billionaire, lover, poet.

Down on the club floor, you feel at home—through a trick of the lighting, the walls seem to stretch upwards endlessly into a starless sky. Every table is a legendary tale all to itself—some of these people are supposed to be dead. Where they go in the daytime, no one knows, or at least you don’t—there are avenues the rich may walk that most don’t know exist, even those who would like to think they’re of the flock. Many of these people have unfamiliar names—it’s been quite the challenge, they would tell you, to keep it that way. You pass by one table, recognizing a face, and simply can’t resist making a comment, starstruck and bashful. You lean in close to his ear, hoping that your intrusion will be forgiven. “I loved your last album,” you whisper, placing a delicate hand upon the artist’s shoulder. He touches his fingers to yours. “In case you haven’t heard,” you continue, “everybody else did too.”

“What did Pitchfork say?” he asks.

You wince a little, inflate the number. “You got a nine. Nine point zero. Best New Music.”

The artist winces, turns away. At least you had that fleeting exchange—even if you were to now be banished for a perceived indiscretion, that alone would have been worth it, to your beloved niece and nephew, Roya and Jim. “You’re the coolest aunt,” they tell you, in your dreams.

Mana greets you with two kisses on the cheeks, which you return, with compliments. “You smell fantastic.” She does.

Bashful, a little drunk, she lowers her head. “Aw, thanks.” She leans in close. “Sorry about last night.”

The sensuality of the moment is suddenly thick as the ocean is deep. “Don’t apologize to me,” you whisper. “Apologize to the state of Virginia.”

You both blush—Lord willing, you’re going to marry that girl someday. She introduces you around the table.

“This is Rocky Cabot, first astronaut to walk the moons of Saturn.”

You shake his hand. “I hadn’t realized we’d done that yet.”

He winks, and smiles with a set of perfect teeth. Truly, out of this world. To call him soap-star beautiful would be maybe getting at only half the truth of it. “I’ll have to take you sometime.”

Mana continues, clockwise. “Jennifer Mezzaluno—her family invented handwriting.”

You extend your arm across the table, but she only deeply nods. It’s not rude. “Is there a lot of money in that?” you ask. “Handwriting?”

The table laughs, as though the answer is obvious. You smile, proud of your accidental humor.

“And this is Malia Obama.”

“Hi.”

“Oh, I know you,” you say, shaking her hand. “You’re extremely tall.”

Music fills the awkward silence.

Pack a four-matic that / Crack your whole cabbage!

“Anyway.” You take a seat at Mana’s side. “What it do, boo?”

“We’re drinking whiskey recovered from the wreck of the Titanic,” she says. “It’s on special.”

“Cool, cool,” you remark, as she provides you a liberal pour from a crystal decanter. “But, c’mon. You know what I’m really talking about.”

She leans in again, her lips brushing against the very outer skin of your ear, tickling irresistibly. If you don’t get to do some fucked-up shit with her in the club bathroom tonight, you’ll just feel borderline betrayed.

“The waiter will bring it by shortly,” she whispers. It makes your body shiver—you’re embarrassed to be so obviously smitten in open company.

This was all you needed to hear. The stars have aligned for a perfect night. Whatever you did to deserve this is a mystery to you more than anyone else.

The singer finishes to applause, bowing deeply, and withdrawing backstage as the lights go up in deep blue tones on a silhouetted harpist, singing “Hallelujah”.

And then you catch it on the air. The smell, the synergy, the sizzle.

The sandwich.

A waiter drops it off like a silent specter, plated just so on flatware that costs more than a human life. The Herve’s Club Sandwich, described in song and story—and on the menu—as “the pinnacle of all creation.”

Nothing differentiates the Herve’s Club from the typical style, at least in regards to the ingredient selection—the simplicity is a part of its charm. Herve’s is a classy place—they know some things don’t need fixing.

Baby, I’ve been here, before / I’ve seen this room, and walked this floor / I used to live alone, before I / Knew you…

Toasted wheat, charred and blackened just to the moment before burning in the center, encasing the treasure within—chicken breast, juicy and tender, its texture contrasting with bacon just crisp enough to crunch, and break at a modest bite. Lettuce as green as Mana’s brilliant necklace, snapping between your teeth with a sound like twigs breaking underfoot in a tranquil forest. Tomatoes of the perfect thickness, uniform, sliced with atomic-level accuracy as though with a knife guided by laser beams.

“And this mayonnaise,” you say, an ecstatic, unmannered moan around a mouthful.

Mana puts a finger to your lips. “It’s vegenaise, love. With a little honey mustard in a squiggle on the top. For you.” She brushes a crumb from the edge of your mouth, where it is promptly swept up from the floor by a waiting attendant.

As fantastic as the sandwich is, you all but drop it on the plate in your haste to stand. This has become too much to bear. You take Mana by the hand. “If anyone wants this pickle,” you say as you retreat with her, “Tough shit, billionaires. Get your own.”

You sprint off to the restrooms with your paramour, and by the dictates of decorum, we politely exit here.

Youtube Rabbit Hole: Jeff Buckley—Lover, You Should’ve Come Over

Photo Credit: Delicious TV

 

the last thought I had before leaving my house

Will your cell phone kill you? Yes. The powerful radio waves that it emits will spark tumors in your brain, causing it to harden and calcify in some places, and turn to jelly in others. You will become irrational over time, behaving erratically, picking and scratching at your face, turning imagined blemishes into deep, aggravated sores. You will pick at your ear canals with ever sharper objects, scratching harder, closer to your eardrum with bobby pins, toothpicks, a corkscrew. It’s difficult now to understand why you would do this.

Your cell phone will kill you.

To be clear, the combined rate of cell phone usage of everyone in your vicinity will kill you—it’s not just yours held up to your head, gripped in your hand, in earshot day and night that’s going to do it to you. It’s surprising that there’s not more emphasis on that angle in the media; this is what we like to call “burying the lede.” A certain degree of the radioactive effects of cumulative cell phone usage necessarily remain trapped within the atmosphere of the planet, of course, effectively cooking the population in a sort of radioactive cloud. This is certainly happening right now—there are surprisingly few isolated spaces of the earth in which this effect cannot already be observed.

There’s been an increasing number of fatalities around this particular corner, lately.

You should never believe a single word contrary to these findings. The truth is not in the public interest. You know in your heart what the truth is—it’s all perfectly logical, and you can reason it all out yourself.

They want you to believe you might be safe. You know better.

Your cell phone is going to kill you. You have precious little time left before the most deleterious effects of it at last begin to take your sanity. So what are you going to do? Are you simply going to accept this? Or will you make a statement with your final hours? Make a stand. Take that hill. Do not let them have their victory without blood lost on their side.

Your cell phone is going to kill you. You need to exact vengeance—for the children. Die for a reason, at least. For those who cannot stand up for themselves. Your cell phone is going to kill you, and they are happily letting it happen. It might be time for you to start doing some killing of your own. Today’s the day. You’re finally free. Heed the call. Die with purpose. They’ve made you complicit in your own murder—take them with you, how about. Now is the moment—your cell phone is going to kill you. There’s nothing left for you to lose. The sun is shining, now. This may be the last beautiful day.

Photo Credit: The New York Times

entr’acte, exeunt, intracting

I am beginning to cocoon myself. Alone beneath the open sky I pull and pluck at disparate strings, thin to the point of nonexistence, barely matter, from the air, twining them between my fingers into thread. Unlike spider’s silk, my threads are coarse, peppered in color, irregularly shaped. The patterns of my weaving are rough to the eye and jagged to the touch. There is no elegance to my construction. It is miraculous, but that is all.

I begin with my torso, twining the threads about me upward and downward in turn, thickening the center of what will become my cocoon. I am protecting my most vital points; tight, but not uncomfortable, my chest and stomach press firm against the weaving when I breathe. I am beginning to imagine how the next few years will be.

I twine new threads down my left leg, straining against the bulk of what I’ve already created. Over hours I cover the limb, beginning with the fat part of my thigh. It feels less imperfect, more secure, inside the casing I’m creating. I resist the urge to tighten it; there must be room for bloodflow. I hope that time will make me smaller.

I wrap my second leg in thread and marvel at the reality of my creation. It is beginning to be difficult to imagine an alternate, prior existence. I am encased, I am myself. I must internalize the new reality, a mental readjustment proving easier, more automatic, than one might initially expect.

I begin my arms with apprehension; the more that I continue, the more difficult the work becomes to undo. There is a point that I will lose my ability to escape what I’m creating. This I consider, as I twine the tendrils down my forearm, asphalt gray and hardening.

In order to ensure that my cocoon will be impermeable, I now begin to wrap my head. I will finish the construction blind. It is the only way to ensure that my head will be protected; to secure the webs around my nostrils, ears, the fine contours of my face, I will need dexterity. It is difficult to decide what last to cover—my nose, my eyes. I seal my mouth without concern. There is nothing left for me to say.

Now I have become as like a being otherworldly, my shape wide and irregular, save for the flesh of my hands and feet, protruding from my stiffening sleeves as I commence the final step. This is the point of no return. I lay myself upon the ground and begin to bind my legs together, lashing them into a rigid plank, inarticulate. I wrap my feet to one another til they form a rounded tip. I wiggle my toes, and tighten.

The work grows harder as my body fatigues, but soon, it will all be over. I lash my left arm to my chest, and bind my fingers flat against my body. I place my right hand on my heart, using what little space remains between my other arm and chest to squeeze in my uncovered digits, these last five fingers of bare skin. The web will seal my hand, in time, inside the space beneath my other arm. The key to making it secure at all is to stay as still as I can be. The inexactness of the seal creates the weakest point of my cocoon, but is not so due to oversight. I stretch my fingers, and try to feel my heartbeat as it slows. In years’ time, I will need the space around my fingers slack, when I use my unbound hand, finally, to break free.

Photo credit: Zdzisław Beksiński

thunder clack

Low rumble overhead from clouds colliding in the night. Inside the cloud a woman hovers, naked, soaked, and screaming. She does not want to fall.

More swollen clouds butt heads adjacent to her porous vessel. The wind is swirling. The membrane tears with a great rising roar of release. She is falling down.

Bolts of lightning tear through space between the earth and sky, blasting down into barren rocks. Flashes of electric light illuminate her silhouette. She does not seem to be in motion, but each new image sees her lower still, drawing ever closer to the earth. Her hair wraps around her face and reaches for the disappearing sky. In the distance it looks peaceful; in her ears is wailing wind.

The night is cold and dark without the moonlight. Between the white-hot bolts, a plaintive rest. It’s almost not unusual, tonight, scored by rain falling in sheets dispersed.

There is no impact in evidence. No echo. Eventually assumed it must have happened. The rain continues. It becomes a violent storm. There is no body in the morning. No new pond or crater. No real witness to the end. No story to tell. Nobody clamoring to hear one. So this almost never happened. No storm. No clouds. No fall. The ripples of the impact touching no one that you know, at least. And in the morning, after all of this, the teardrops on the blades of grass that sparkle in the day’s first light are indistinguishable from dew.

Photo credit: Uh, this iPad mini case.

scenes from the upcoming feature “Star War—Ep 7: the Force is Up” (3)

INT. FIRST ORDER SPACE BRIG

The captive rebel fighter POSEPH DAMERON kneels in a dark room. He is exhausted, battered, looking beaten—but there is fire yet behind his eyes.

The doors open with a shooomp. It is KYLE REN, the dark vader.

POSEPH
I’ll never talk. Don’t even try—you’ll only waste your breath.

KYLE
Word. I just wanted to show you something.

Poseph looks up, expectant. Kyle lurches forward… and grabs Poseph’s head between his hands. Poseph SCREAMS…

…and sees a vision.

We see the REBEL HOMEWORLD, ripped with winds that seem unnatural, impossible, destructive beyond our wildest imaginations. The clouds are RUST RED, and an ominous HUM bears down from somewhere beyond the atmosphere. The trees are swept up into DUST. Towers crumble in cacophony. There is a chorus of TEN BILLION SCREAMS

POSEPH
No!!!!

And then SILENCE.

Poseph SNAPS OUT OF IT. He is sweating. It takes a beat for him to register, in front of him, the standing form of Kyle Ren, CLOAK SPREAD WIDE…

KYLE
What do you think?

POSEPH
(beat)
I, um—

Kyle Ren shuffles uncomfortably. Viewed from behind, we see the barest hint of MILKY THIGH FLESH.

POSEPH
…I don’t understand the crossguards.

scenes from the upcoming feature “Star War—Ep 7: the Force is Up” (2)

EXT. NEO-DESERT PLANET

Gliding across the barren landscape we see REY ORGANA-CALRISSIAN, adopted daughter of Han Solo and reluctant Jedi, leaned back casually yet resolute, driving her COOL JET FLOATCRUISER. We linger on the cylinder in her lap, a modest-sized CUP FROM A GAS STATION, full of limited-edition PEPSI STAR WAR (BLUE FLAVOR). A straw protrudes, and Rey SIPS.

The soda FIZZES and GLISTENS, catching the rays of the distant TWIN SUNS, refracting them majestically, with sparkles, and lens flare.

BB-8 (O.S.)
*squawks adorably*

REY
Aw, who’s the cutest little robot?

Rey pets the droid wedged at her side in the narrow pilot’s seat of the floatcruiser. BB-8 meets her gaze. The droid’s eyes are remarkably soulful—we are all reminded very pointedly of WALL-E.

REY
You’re the cutest little robot.

BB-8
Woop

REY
The cutest widdle wobot in the whole wide fweakin’ gawaxy.

BB-8
Wark!

Rey bends the straw of her soda toward the reach of BB-8, who slurps eagerly.

BB-8
Weeble-wobble blahp bloop, blorp! [Subtitles onscreen read “PEPSI PEPSI PEPSI.”]

Rey SMILES.

CUT TO:

INT: SPACEWHIP

KYLE REN, the dark vader, stands on the bridge with his mask and cape on, sulking. In his hand he holds an unopened bottle of PEPSI STAR WAR (RED FLAVOR). At his side is the legendary CAPTAIN PHAZER, fully chrome.

KYLE
Captain Phazer…
[beat]
Um, could you?

Kyle Ren hands the PEPSI bottle to his cohort, gesturing for help opening it. She cracks the seal after the slightest struggle. The resulting hiss of air is emphasized.

KYLE
Thank you, Phazer. I was feeling very parched. This is just what I needed to refresh myself.

He sips, passes the opened bottle back to Phazer.

KYLE
How goes the hunt for Jedi scum?

Phazer takes a long quaff of the PEPSI.

PHAZER
Excellently, my lord Kyle.

scenes from the upcoming feature “Star War—Ep 7: The Force is Up”

INT. SPACEWHIP

Stormtrooper Captain Phazer walks onto the populated bridge in a full rigout, with a smokin’ hot BFG from Doom slung over her shoulder. We linger on her kickass chrome armor. She looks sick. But also sick with purpose. She walks up and hands a glowy hologram data ball ORB THING to a HOODED FIGURE. It is Kyle Ren, the dark vader.

PHAZER
“Sir, many Bothans died to bring you these deets.”

REN
“Oh, word?”

Kyle Ren calls for a moment of silence.