After the whole episode with the Inspector, Girard, et al, I’m about ready to head home.

I go back not to my Room but to the house I lived in last spring, with Big Pharmakos and Chad, Who Disappears for 10-15 Minutes at a Time, at around the time of the Funeral of Harry Crews.

Walking up the driveway, before I turn the final corner beyond which the house will come into view, I imagine reclining in a leather armchair on a terrace, sipping a cold pilsner and listening to Vic Chesnutt, whose records I’ve always associated with this house (and with lots of houses, but).

Needless to say, this low-key little scene of mine is fated to remain in the spare parts room of the Great American Imaginary. When I turn up the driveway, there are people everywhere. There’s stuff spread out on the lawn, some looking like junk that’s been thrown there and some more like goods for sale that’ve been arranged. There are cops around, and loiterers, everyone standing still or moving slow, not all of them, from the looks of it, especially aware of all the others.

I come up the last part of the driveway with the kind of almost leaning to the side walk that’d be a real warning sign on a dog you didn’t know coming toward you, but, for me, is just about suddenly not being 100% as to whether I really want to go in here and get into whatever it’s gonna be.

But then Chad, Who Disappears for 10-15 Minutes at a Time, hops down from the porch and comes toward me.

“Long time no see. ‘d you get those cigarettes and milk?”

“Huh?” I can’t remember the last time I saw him, and now I’m wondering if we’ve actually met before.

“You said you were going out for cigarettes and milk and would be back in twenty years,” he says, smiling.

“Ah,” I reply. “Must’ve forgotten them at the last minute.”

He shrugs. “Look, man, perfect timing. We’ve been having a thing that happened.” He gestures up at the house, which the police are now tying off in yellow tape. “Set up a tag sale, you know, to clean out our closets, but it didn’t go down quite like that. Ended up, we didn’t sell a thing. No one came. Big Pharmakos and I just sat out front here and proceeded to kind of live our lives for a few hours while nothing at all happened.”

The cops are shouting loud enough into their radios to not need them.

“Anyway, no one came to the sale, but somehow, during that exact time, all of our shit got stolen. Yours too, I’m sorry to say. Like all of it, everything that was in the house. Computers, guitars, passports, safety deposit box codes and keys, shoes, perfume, weapons, leather jackets, all of it. And just in the time we’d been having the tag sale. They must have somehow gotten in there in place of the customers we’d been expecting, and but … ”

Then he disappears, presumably for 10-15 minutes.

I go the rest of the way toward the porch, am outpaced on the way by a courier. I know these guys: they’re a Dodge City private service that brings letters and packages right into your house. They don’t even knock, they just barge right in, whether you’re home or not, and put the letter or package wherever in your house they think it should go — on a table or coffeetable sometimes, sure, but also in bedroom and bathroom drawers, under your mattress, inside your pillowcase … and they don’t talk, or even appear to listen, if you question them.

Once they’ve put it where it’s supposed to go, they let themselves out.

So the courier’s in the house now too.

Up by the door, I pass this guy who’s been trying to break in for years. He just stands there on the porch, all through the night and day, all through the winter and the worst thunderstorms, diligently fumbling with the lock, stopping only rub his palms and fingers with a block of wax or rosin.

The interior is swarming with cops. They’re all standing around, writing on notepads and mumbling, looking past each other, their feet planted on the ground like they’ve been standing where they are for a long time and aren’t about to move. I can feel but can’t see the presence of the robbers from the tag sale, as if they were still around in here, maybe in the attic. And then more Lovecrafty, revenant-type presences start to emerge, like up from the basement where the half-decomposed bodies of our ur-ancestors are stored. They all come in, reeking of sweat, and stand around too, looking at the cops, who don’t seem to notice them. Neighbors and alter egos and people from other stories start to file in too, in through the windows and up through hatches and trapdoors.

It’s like some original person here had the house to themselves for the weekend, and invited a couple of friends, who invited a couple of friends, who.

I knew this was going to happen: I’m in the middle of the living room now and I can’t move. The crush of people is so thick we’re touching each other on all sides, sweating and needing to pee like teenagers up in that area nearest to the stage after the opener gets off, just before the main act comes on.

There’s food laid out on tables in some places — fairly sumptuous Thanksgiving trappings, it turns out — which whoever robbed us must have cooked and left behind as a Thank You.

Anyway, we can all smell it, but we’re packed in so tight no one can reach out a hand to take any.


Mercifully, someone manages to flick on the TV. We can’t all see — it depends on the position your head’s fixed in — but I can. It’s the Thanksgiving Marathon of Dodge City’s Children’s TV Show, produced over at the Community Access TV station. The show is untitled and features a single character, with no other characters, no conflict or plot, no sound, and sometimes no background. This character, who also comes in action figures, has no facial or bodily features, and no accouterments. Sometimes it’s indistinguishable from the background, when there is one, so that the screen goes totally monochrome, and other times (my favorite) it turns a somewhat different color.

It’s a kind of obvious conceit, but a crowd-pleaser. Especially tonight, the openness of the screen is a tonic. We watch the character meld in and out of the background, facelessly not going about its business because it doesn’t have any, and lust after all that space.

We all stand like this, neck-in-neck, as more revenants come up from the basement to see what’s going on up here, and the cop radios boil static, and our turkey and pies go cold. When it gets really quiet, we can all hear the guy on the porch scratching at the lock, swearing when it still won’t open.