Archives for the month of: June, 2012

Dear Sir or Madam or “It,”

 

I would like to buy some time.

 

How about some time?

 

Until tomorrow, say. I know it’s not standard, and that it won’t be Thursday then.

 

But

 

But then is when I’d like more to write “At Lazy Eye’s Tea Party,” not tonight, when, I realize, I ought to. Tonight I feel squinchy.

 

So how about it? What do you say to some time?

 

Maybe you have some reruns or Unsung Programming to play, if empty air is a concern.

 

Await your reply,

Your Friend, dl.

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Halfway (or maybe only some tiny fraction of the way) to delivering the new Mythos trailer to the place in Dodge City where it’s slated to reside, a malfunction occurs. According to the convict in charge of our delegation (“the head guy”), we’ve had a breakdown. A good way to try out having a broken nose or some smashed molars might be to ask, “What do you mean ‘breakdown?’ We’re not a car, we’re just dragging this thing. Why can’t we keep dragging it?”

So I don’t ask. I sit and scowl and spit in the grass like the others and curse our luck at having a breakdown so close to our destination. Someone asks if I have a copy of Suttree and I say yes, but then don’t give him anything, and he goes away.

The heat strokes us almost tenderly as the afternoon moves at its usual crawl, and we take turns walking to the edge of one another’s sight to urinate in the dust or just look out at whatever we see, and then come back so someone else can take a turn. When we’ve all gone a few times, the head guy decides it’s time for a change of activity.

“Whatever’s in that trailer, it sounds none too happy. I don’t imagine it’s any cooler in there than out here.” He pounds the metal edge with his fist and recoils like he’s just touched an iron that someone bright left plugged in for him to touch.

“Let’s draw straws for who gets to go in there and see what’s up with whatever’s in there, and maybe give it some water or somehow cool it down or console it or whatever it needs. Agreed?”

The others grunt in the affirmative.

The straw-drawing consists of the head guy looking at me, clearing his throat, and saying, “You. In.”

And opening the back door of the Mythos.

I tongue my molars and scratch my nose, decide against mounting any opposition.

“Don’t worry,” he shouts as I’m climbing in, “we’ll all be right outside here, making sure nothing goes wrong. We’ve got your peripheries.”

Then the door shuts and I’m inside.

They weren’t kidding when they called it a Mythos — judging by the street I’m now walking down and the foreign smells in the air and the can of root beer that has a logo I’ve never seen before that I pick like a fruit out of a bush it’s been jammed into, this is a whole new town. Squat, stunted trees leer into the street as I walk, passing mailboxes whose numbers are all smudged out, like chalk erased with the heel of a palm.

I hear some dogs barking from way off somewhere and very few streetlights are on. A cart wheels by a moment later, wheeled by two guys with their heads down who keep them down as they pass. There’s a blue tarp secured with bungee cords in the back, stretched over a shape.

A few streets later, I see a light on up ahead. The night feels at once cool in the normal night way, and blazingly hot, maybe an influence from the outside Dodge City dust field where, I believe, I came from not long ago.

Now I’m right up near the light, and can see it’s coming from a New Orleans style shotgun shack. It’s a little front porch area with a single bulb on over it. I wonder whom this light is on for, like, “Is whoever’s in there expecting me?”

I use the light of the light to watch my hand knocking on the splintery door, and then to watch the door opening — opened not in any polite response to my knocking but just by my having knocked it open.

Inside, once I start to take it in, I see a giant bulbous and veiny eye floating in a bathtub with a stepladder next to it. A very put-upon, exhausted looking little man is busy preparing an oversized syringe, its needle the size of a small spire.

I take a moment. If there were a pitcher of iced tea with fresh lemon wedges and sponge cake all set out on a particolored and freshly laundered cloth on the table, I would treat myself to a glass and a slice right now, before thinking of the next thing.

Next thing, this beleaguered fellow is holding out a towel to the eye (or Eye, should I say?), and waiting for it to slop out of the tub, which looks to be full of an amber brine rather than water. The Eye wriggles into the towel and then wiggles around in it, drying off I suppose however much eyes are supposed to dry off, which I’d guess is not all the way.

Then the fellow brings the syringe over and positions it in what’s clearly a very practiced manner at the bottom of the stepladder, as the Eye heaves up the steps and into position.

Another moment of pause — it’s starting to seem like I can take a Time Out whenever I want.

But I must’ve missed something because the Eye has already jumped and is now stuck straight and true on the needle, impaled straight through the pupil, quivering with the impact, then going still.

The fellow — Bruce, let’s say — is busily wheeling a bed over, and turning down the creamy sheets. Then he helps the Eye off the needle and into the bed, and, muttering fretfully, stands back to see if the Eye needs anything else.

The Eye’s jellied material begins to throb and fills with images like an unclouding crystal ball. The more I watch, the further in it takes me. I can hear Bruce somewhere off in the distance, and then I’m inside.

In the center of the place that the Eye has taken me to is a sporting arena. I’m neither in it nor watching it, but am, rather, the whole stadium containing it.

In this arena certain things begin to happen, none very describable, but all with a sense about them that they’ve been planned and are, in a sense, the right things to be happening here, per some program that I obviously, being a stadium, didn’t get a chance to read.

Behind me, I start to feel disturbances; other energies are trying to force their way in. A ring forms around this central arena to hold them back. Some Lost Race in a backwater of my mind is aware that the convict work crew from Dodge City is protecting the arena, keeping the others — the “supernumeraries in a dream,” as the Old Man’s phrase goes — from breaching my peripheries.

“Hold the line, boys!” I want to shout. “Don’t let ’em through!”

It’s like a championship wrestling match where legions of uninvited freaks are trying to hurl themselves into the ring.

It feels inevitable that they’ll break their way in sooner or later. A part of me is already looking forward to the melee. It’s as if I’m already watching it.

The doctors decide eventually that the problem with my dead hand is not that it’s sick or injured but actually that it’s a criminal hand, a hand of lapsed judgement and craven character, and must thus be transferred from the hospital into the penal system, its host (that’s me!) along with it, since lopping is no one here’s idea of a good time. “So that’s what’s wrong with you!” exclaims Industry Ed, as if that’d been his suspicion all along and he just, out of decency, didn’t want to be the first to say it.

 

A Priest of the High Hand is called to my bedside, like I’m dying, and, after the necessary ministrations and histrionics, explains that my hand is spiritually, not physically, dead, and thus, rather than more surgery or injections or what have you, what it needs is a solid term of imprisonment in order to strive to articulate its better self and reach, as hands are intrinsically wont to do, for the Outstretched Hand of God.

 

Sure enough, when I look down, the hand is no longer quite as deflated as it was before, but looks rather like a reasonably healthy hand, just not mine: “The Hand of Another,” if you will, if Kobo Abe had bestowed upon us such a work, as a sequel of sorts or just for fun or for the money.

 

So I get transferred out of the hospital in a semi-visionary tripping down the hallways and stairways sort of way, and end up someplace altogether new, a real ol’ time Workin’ on the Chain Gang scene, complete with Alan Lomax standing off in a corner with his tape recorder listenin’ to us sing, or to them sing, since I’m new here and don’t know the words.

 

Next morning we’re all in a holding pen, waiting for our work assignments. It was a military style eat-all-you-can-in-5-minutes breakfast buffet, during which I managed only to unwrap a bran muffin and then was fatally distracted by wiping the grease on my pants when I should’ve been slurping it down.

 

Back out in the boiling sun now, I keep trying to hide my Hand of Another in my pocket, but our jumpsuits have none, so it looks like I have a tic, scratching at my side the way a cow flicks its tail at flies, if that were a tic and not totally normal cow behavior, which, sure, I know, it is.

 

The foreman or warden rides up in a cart and gets out, begins to yell. Lomax, off in the bushes, is fiddling with his recorder, trying not to miss a word. Since I’m the New Guy, I get last pick of work for the day. By the time my turn comes around everything’s taken except either reading aloud the Complete Works of George Saunders in a free Mental Stimulus Seminar at the mall, next to the 10 Hot Tips About Meth booth, or else helping to haul in some Mythos from another town.

 

I choose the latter, thinking, firstly, that exercise might do me well, and, secondly, that staying out of the mall for the time being or forever might be in my best interest.

 

So I get in a van with the Mythos crew and we head down some dusty back roads, the sun blazing something furious overhead. The driver lets us out next to a big parked trailer, about the size of an industrial shipping container, if I’m not mistaken about their size.

 

On the side is painted Lazy Eye Mythos. Chains and shackles are attached all over, and the other guys get right to it, each to his own shackle.

 

I shackle myself to the one remaining shackle, watching the other guys do it and trying to copy along. I can hear something gelatinous squishing around inside the trailer, and allow to enter my mind images of sedated circus animals slowly coming to as the air inside starts to thin.

 

With the shackles tight around my waist, I start heaving when one of the other guys, apparently the chief or captain of this little unit, gives the signal.

 

We haul through the afternoon, taking water breaks every so often.

 

“So what are we actually doing here?” I ask during one such break.

 

The chief or captain looks at me, no doubt trying to determine the basic soundness of my mind. “Consolidating Mythos from another town, just like the man this morning said.”

 

A moment later, taking pity on my I’m sure babyish bewilderment, with a look that either means he incorrectly overestimated my soundness or else that, sadly, it’s just where he thought it was, he continues, “Lots of towns out here, they don’t got space for all their Mythos anymore. Gotta cut some corners, reel a few things in here and there. Focus on priorities. So they pack up their excess Mythos — like, whatever kind of stories usually take place in that town, in the popular imagination and so on — and send it to another town, whoever will take it. In this case, Dodge City. So whatever Mythos is in this trailer — whatever Lazy Eye thing it happens to be, I honestly couldn’t care less — will now, until further notice, take place not in the other town, where it used to take place since time immemorial, but in Dodge City. That’s consolidation,” he says, and nods that the water break’s over.

 

For the time it takes to put our shackles back on and start dragging again, I’m onboard with all that he’s just said, and grateful for it, like I’ve just been lucky enough to learn something.

 

But, as soon as we’re up and dragging again, that goopy Lazy Eye sound doing its thing inside the trailer, I’m on to a new set of associations, going way back to earlier times, images of some brutish, possibly burned, figure shackled to a rough, splintery, also possibly burned, Cross, dragging it through burned up cornfields and wheat fields, just dragging this huge falling apart Cross through the ravages, dragging it at all costs, as if he just has to get somewhere with it before something else, worse, happens, and, if he does, all will be well until the next thing  … I dwell amongst these images for the rest of our workday and then, at the end, when we have the Mythos deposited safely in the center of Dodge City, at the appointed Depot, I undo the shackles and stand back, comparing my two hands, whispering to one of them, “How’d you like all that? Feel any closer to being a better man than you did at breakfast time, when that muffin was too greasy for you and you let us all go hungry?”

been at it at least weeks probably at this point to say it not usual but optimistic

 

dead hand spread way out beside me like a filet of dead hand

 

to show whats inside maybe

 

which isnt spare hands in case you thought

 

industry ed slumps around near where i curl in a cement crag of place dreaming in and out of mesas and other pebblescapes whenever they put me under to tryn operate again

 

despite and cursing as they call it healthcare in this country

 

well save that hand yet boys

 

shouts industry ed

 

feeling a bit peckish boys

 

may get a snicker from the machine boys

 

and a gatorade boys

 

always calling himself and me boys like when he seems to get tired he says i seem to be getting tired boys

 

and rattles pockets for change

 

and stays out of reach of my filet of dead hand knowing i may yet well attempt a strangle even though they are far from through with me and lowly hand chunks far asunder

 

some days my hand looks like many others like none

 

he leers near when he wakes up enjoying it as they parcel me out into more niblets but no more of this old david rice american mc escher stock routine business at this point

 

no sir

 

sink in and out of seeing hospital as cement basin kind of construction hotel type of deal

 

elevator plying the outside edges sucking up and down from garage level to upper garage

 

people falling off the edges trying to climb into the floors from the outside

 

industry ed saying be right back boys

 

keeps bringing me spare hands piling up like balloons and flowers in a concession pile for a younger person than myself more impressionable perhaps or with

 

a man with nothing to lose adds tv set a man in los angeles with nothing to lose

 

watching more climbers fall commuters trying to enter building from all sides outside which is not a building but a skull of building and should be rather treated and um venerated as such

 

another shot of novocaine into yours truly filet o dead hand

 

yours truly ducking under into bowl o fuzz where

 

industry ed will dress my head

 

sundae style and serve to very next party

 

family vacation style

 

— sorry for delay boys will love to transmit more when can.