WANDERING AWAY from the scene with the Unholy Family, I feel a gear revving up, like a river under a Puritan water wheel that’s been dormant for a while but now, thanks to Global Warming, is rushing, and the corn waiting inside to be ground is about to get it.

 

Loathing & paranoia, self-creeping, denial, rage, & terror flood the dark Dodge City streets, bumping into unlit lampposts and brick corners, mindlessly, again and again, like the sound of a hospital full of things that are stuck between dying and being ghosts, ramming it down each other’s throats, coupled with panic about the end of the world, of brain tumors and difficulty nose-breathing and suffocating in our sleep, spiraling and spiraling and somehow both burrowing down into and erupting up from the earth, the streets seeming to unfold from some post-WWII set of the deep Vienna background, streets that aren’t even in the real Vienna (not that I’d know, having only passed through once on a train), too slippery and shady to be anywhere but here.

 

NOW I’M THOROUGHLY LOST. Maybe this isn’t Dodge City anymore; maybe it’s the next town over.

 

The wheel turns faster and faster as I run through the streets of this other town, uncertain if I’m running to escape or to wend myself deeper in.

 

Some lining in my brain tears. The drape between my sick and my dead falls off its runners.

 

Images rush out, like that green part-food/part-shit substance that I suppose squirms from the bowels of very fresh corpses.

 

All the matter I’ve stored in my brainsac but haven’t put to use, letting it build up and abscess, furry and slimy and sustaining itself by licking the edges of its lining.

 

Maybe I’ve been sent to this neighboring town just for the sake of suffering this, like no other event has ever occurred here and none ever will … and Dodge City isn’t about to let it happen there.

 

IN THE FLOOD OF images, the strongest is of sleeping bodies chained high above me, like bats, more bodies than the ceiling-plane can accommodate, so they’re all overlapping, dense enough that the ceiling itself is invisible behind them. Perhaps the room is bounded on top only by a layer of sleepers, facing down with the sky resting on their backsides.

 

I’ve tried draining this image out of me any number of time, but it hasn’t come. Some thick stalk of it has remained attached to my head, demanding I let it suck itself back in, as if a little longer in there would allow it to develop into what it wants to be, not just stew and stew.

 

BUT IT’S OUT NOW, gone stranger from its time in the warm dark, the sleepers hugely bloated with all the excess brain matter they’ve absorbed as I’ve gone about my twenties.

 

The image sucks me in, naked on its sandy cement floor with the ceiling of shackled sleepers overhead.

 

A kind of jail.

 

I want to lean on a wall and rave like some colonial prisoner but there is none. I keep scooting toward what I hope will at some point delimit the space, but nothing does. Whatever I’m in, it’s bigger than I can cover by scooting.

 

THERE STARTS TO BE A SMELL.

 

I look up, into the writhe of sleepers, some yawning, some groaning, as the FIRST DROP lands on my chest.

 

It’s warm, hot, like wax.

 

It splotches down along my chest and starts to harden. I can feel it wrenching into the skin over my lowest ribs, eating up a chunk like it has a mouth and a stomach.

 

More drops rain down on my chest and neck and in my hair and on my legs, and I look up and see the sleepers condensing, like something is binding them inward toward the center of the area they cover, trying to make of them a single ball.

 

IT’S RAINING HEAVILY now, boiling, my skin peeling off in sheets under the sleepers’ fat, which is running together all over my front and sides, covering my face, melting in gobs like thick skin-textured cheese.

 

I rip open my eyes and look up and see that the sleepers are mostly gone. The only light comes from the few that remain, in the very center of the ceiling, burning orange, immolating their last fat — organ fat — down onto me.

 

They look like a body-shaped fungus that’s been split open so its spores can fly out.

 

The rest of the ceiling space is black night sky.

 

The smell of skin and cheese is all over me, and I can tell that the night up there is very cold — dead winter cold — but the fat clinging to me is so hot I don’t feel it.

 

At some point it’ll cool; then I will.

 

NOW it’s flowed under me and into my ass, so I’m not even sitting on the ground anymore. I’m thoroughly encased in fat, sliding up my intestines, worming its way through them, trying to find my heart and lungs.

 

And it’s sliding back over my eyes, down from my hairline and up from my mouth.

 

I want to reach up and clear my face, but my hands, I find, are covered so thickly I can’t even wriggle them or remember which one was which.

Advertisements