Sunday, May 24, 2009

61 Where's my medicine?

Once upon a midnight dreary
As I pondered, weak and weary
There came a rapping a not quite tapping
Upon my chamber door

Stumbling from my broken slumber
Quaffing down a wooden tumbler
I made a grabbing, a not quite stabbing
under my chamber door

Left alone that endless tapping
Would've wrecked my evening napping
Now there's murder soup galore
To feast upon beyond my snores

Crows shouldn't tap at poor men's chamber doors.

62 The only way is my highway way

Running through the jungle ahead of the gun-running colonials, one local noticed his thoughts taking a decided left turn: what was this whole sad business about? He realized that running had become tiresome, he gave in to the nonsense, he lay down to sleep and despite the danger of imminent death, found he was successful. He slept, buried by the underbrush, as the colonials ran past, no one who noticed him decided to put a bullet in his eye for good measure because given his rag doll appearance, there was little chance he wasn't already dead.

Certain colonials noticed he was alive but spared him regardless.
A strange compassion happens.

When the chase was well beyond him, the local woke from his deep sleep and gave himself a new name, to remember the day.

"Oko-Jumu" which means the dreamer.

Later in life he became an infrastructure developer and private contractor and helped create some of the prettiest roads in the world.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

63 My Generation

Last night, she waited quietly in the bar, surrounded by laughing people and happy music, colour and substance, neon and noise. She waited, patiently for the musician to arrive.

Can you imagine? her husband had died in a motorcycle accident two days before, leaving her alone with a young son.

She asked the musician to play at his funeral. All of this happened quietly, the air of unreality around this woman blurred her edges, at the time, I admired how she could pull herself together, her stoicism impressed me, later I told myself it must be shock, no one can imagine what's worse, to lose a father or a son, a husband or a brother. Regardless of gender, loss is loss and the world moves on. Quickly or quietly, it moves,

When she left, I did not see her go, I thought of her husband, a man I had never met nor would ever meet, dead in circumstances most vaguely defined. Regardless, I felt certain he'd died having lived.

Having lived his life as he had conceived it, death in the process of living his ideal was far better than the alternatives.

The courageous man dies once, the coward dies a thousand times a day.

Having no choice about the timing yet having choice in so much else, he lived according to himself until the end.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

64 Rhythm Monkeys of the End of Night

The moon eats us, hmm?

Those were the last words my long legged friend Cindy Canvas spoke before she drove off in Agnes Sherman's car. A dusty wreck which even Agnes didn't want. I never heard from her again, she did that thing, a cat's goodbye, and I got on my bus and headed back across the country. On the way I watched the mountains appear in reverse and kept my hand on the seat until it was numb and in those young days full of nothing but hope and cinnamon buns I never bothered to ask myself the question: was I good at this?

Writing. Righting. Making what is wrong, right in the act of fiction, lies that speak the truth, famous for buffoonery, the best comedians have a dark tract of inscrutable philosophy under their beds of a degree of seriousness so profound and disturbing they haven't let anyone, even their thesis advisor, see it.

It doesn't matter since everyone retires and the moment is long lost, the final product of the page is not the ink blasted into its fibres. A book is a blunt instrument, the mind is where the final product blooms and if that's so, the final product is nowhere for nowhere can the mind 'be' which is. It needs the space of formlessness to make it's mark. How can a thing be bounded by nothing? That is the way of the mind.

So I understood why Cindy drove off without a single backward glance. It had all been for the journey, the destination had been a pretext, Cindy, Agnes and the whole sad affair in the hills had left me with a single idea:

Happiness for no reason at all was best, Cindy had suffered for the conditions she'd placed on happiness, Agnes had come out of it the best, because she had avoided conditions entirely. As for myself. I came out in the middle, sometimes I forget that it is never me who suffers, I can watch my mind suffer, I can watch my body suffer, I cannot suffer except when I forget and my attachment becomes inappropriate.

To tell the story of how these realizations leapt out of the night and into our lives would take a great deal more time and space than a single night's experimental fiction.

The novel is not the product, it is simply the occurrence, from time to time, of a creature which exists in many places at once, the author is a part of it but not the whole of it.

Tired and sleepy, I watched the rain fall horizontally across the window of the fast moving bus. Gunship metal clouds attracted lightning and I was afraid to sleep. People had been killed that way on the bus. The chattering in my mind faded as I imagined every thought being left behind, a psychic trail of breadcrumbs, for Cindy to find me someday along the edge of the future. There was a battered old structure there, built of dead memories, windows of distortion, lit by vortex, where insects made meals of men.

Wherever my bus went tomorrow, I knew that was where I was headed in the end.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

65 Crack the drums and beat the splintered desk

Stone beds. There are cultures where the traditional bed is a clay or stone platform with a woven rug on top. Sleep on such beds is deep and restful, they can be warmed from beneath in the winter and remain cool in the summer. How much technology must be created for the West to enjoy such simple comforts on their individually-pocketed-coil orthopaedic beds? An incoherent flood of words mixing fragments of theology, science, history and culture is better with a little pesto. Troublesome fictions all.  Music has better sense, much can be made, as much to fill a lifetime, without necessarily any material waste. A guitar has a lifetime of music in it the moment it's made, a library necessarily reflects its passage through time. Sense is tiresome however, sometimes, the rut out of rhythm is the solution without a problem, a taste of a psychoactive thought can be more devastating than any drug; One's night of fire and revelation is another's pink laser is another's burning bush is another's mild stroke is another's benign tumour.

All interpretations to explain an experience, what if, just for a moment, focus were to return to the experience? If insight is worthwhile, would there be any in such experience?

For the sake of argument, we will say no, it is only a distraction from production, from creation in this world, from the building. Building what? who knows? Only we will not desist, our companion may not come but there is satisfaction in keeping the appointment.

Many years ago, I kept an appointment with someone I knew for certain would never come, I sipped my espresso alone and ate my almond and chocolate pastry alone and knew for certain the person for whom I was waiting would not come, it was a delicious experience, a promise made and kept after so many years.

Year later I am overjoyed that I kept that appointment, the one for whom I waited had become a cowardly, shabby echo of the person I had kept the appointment for. A nasty disappointment, had I to do it again I would not, we were none of us ourselves. That old bargain had been flushed down the toilet of time.

Now, I crack the drums and beat the splintered desk, my pen draws meat in flecks and bone is showing.

Rambles land on pebbled shores.

I cannot cross the border but it's well worth the journey to the edge.

Sunlight makes the flowers bloom.

Nightly though, I'm eaten by the moon.

Half hearted shocks.

How any man leaves effort tenderless.

Collapse is a construction too.

Bent but not broken, borrowed but not blue.

A character in search of six authors.

The creases become grooves, the grooves become roads.

Charting the hits. Taking stock of nothing.

Full of idiots, tellers of fury, signifying sounds.

Playful apocalypse.

It's all here.

What gymnastics must be done, to secure a long hour's sleep?

In my pocket.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

66 Entropy

A riddle:

What is bigger on the inside than the outside,
includes the outside on the inside,
can easily be in two places at once,
can only be here now with effort,
is rarely at home, yet the lights are on?

Musical numbers dredged up from a parallel universe did the nervous thing they do down the hall and into the reading room.

The reading room was a fictitious place at my university where people went to listen to records, nobody had read a book in there since Sir Wilfred Laurier was the Prime Minister of Canada, bookings were made in advance and you had the privacy of its plush leather couches and oak panelled walls and vintage audiophile sound system all to the privacy of yourself or your small circle of friends. multiple booking were forbidden, you would not be disturbed.

Luxury!

Naturally it-was-and-it-wasn't free, its maintenance was paid for by university fees, naturally, I wonder if I was the only person who ever booked it just to hear a good vinyl album on a beyond-my-means-hence-out-of-this-world sound system.

Most people didn't even bother to put on a record.

It's different now, I hear there have been changes, I avoid learning more, I don't want my history interrupted by rude facts. For example, it was called the record room, not the reading room. It doesn't matter, I would go there to listen and read, so for me it was the reading room, clearly, from the fixtures to the furnishing, in some legendary past before records had been invented it was a reading room.

In my mind, the shape of time is already slouching towards legend, past becoming prelude, the story of what we were and where we were and why we were there and what we were doing there is losing, if not its vitality, at least its authentic reality.

The audience has left, the curtains are drawn, still we play.

Sometimes naked, sometimes mad, now the scholar, now the fool, but are we free? Are we men?

I wrote a novel as a teenager, about an assassin and story collector who wants to hear a story before killing her greatest target, a sort of 'Arabian Nights' in reverse, she asked her victim to tell her a story, so it didn't die with him, to tell her of his cities, of all dimensions; he did, and because I lacked the skill at the time to lead the plot organically towards their role reversal, I made it a serial adventure. I can not say I finished it, I did, however, abandon it, not a wise move, the abandoned worlds are those which grow most in the imagination. Finishing a story is like giving it a border, a barrier, here and no further, without this wall, the stories just grow and grow.

My punishment was to become a character in my own fiction.

Now the Piper has come for his wages while in secret he schemes with the rats.

Abreption means never having to say its done.

It's just done with you.




Sunday, May 10, 2009

67 Waiting for the Hesitants

Maxine Recluse, a girl born of an idiot, signifying nothing, emerged with a frightening intelligence hence her parents abandoned her almost immediately. Raised by the state, she escaped again and again only to be captured by the electronic bars that marked her meals and residences wherever she went.

In plain English, Maxine lived in a networked world and a cashless society from which she could not escape so long as she was a minor. Her choices were suffer until she legally became an adult or find a way to live without leaving a trace of herself in State databases.

She made her choice.

For two years, Maxine became a model inmate of the state. studied industriously, allowed state education to happen to her organically, meanwhile spending all possible free time researching her own projects. Naturally her sponsors were anxious at her choice of reading materials but they were limited in their discretion by the standard operating procedures of the state. They could worry but since she wasn't learning how to make improvised explosives they could do nothing.

Maxine confined her research to biology, chemistry and physics, in its pure forms, with applied studies restricted to gardening and landscaping, she knew the extent of her prison, she stayed within its bounds and they had no pretext to circumscribe her.

In any case, Maxine wasn't interested in bombs, the state in its paranoia had blinded itself to other means, peaceful, however illegal means:

Means of escape.

They watched her carefully, they watched her build a model garden behind the state home, grow herbs, even erect a small garden shed. Her garden occupied her to the point of singularity, or so it seemed, as if by accident, her radishes and carrots sprouted together, her sponsors. They did not hear her muttering under her breath to her newly sprouted root vegetables. If any of them had, they might have heard:

"Do not despair, one of the thieves was saved, do not presume, one of the thieves was damned."

Had they heard, it may not have come as a surprise that in her over-abundance of intellect, Maxine had chafed at her bounds so long she'd rubbed her soul raw, she clutched at hope where she found it; moonlight sparkles on worn black pebbles.

She didn't go so far as to call her radishes 'Luke' and her carrots 'Augustine' but the idea was there.

Her sponsors watched her miniature world unfold with increasing fascination, between meals, sleep and school, Maxine spent all her time in her little garden. Radishes and carrots gave way to tomatoes and peppers, they watched her measure nitrogen levels, pH levels, organize her planting schedule and over two growing seasons she occasionally provided her sponsors tables with delicious produce. Maxine had found a calling, said her sponsors, she had become adjusted, said her sponsors, her journey towards full membership as a law-abiding and productive citizen of society was nearly complete, said her sponsors.

Maxine considered herself an iconoclast, not in the old sense of image-breaker or destroyer of sacred images but in the modern sense as one who creates original images without references. Not satisfied with received fashions, she carved her own.

There would be no one to stop her this time.

Her second garden, in the woods near school had yielded two harvests of prepared food. Stacked neatly in jars in the basket of a hand rebuilt motorized tricycle. Straddling the bike with the motor running she exhaled a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding inside and remained where she was, engine idling.

She shut off the motor and dismounted the bike, walked on to school, went home to her sponsors, stepped mechanically through her role. No one had guessed the extent of her ingenuity, she could have left, she told herself, she really could have done it.

In bed, pretending to be asleep, Maxine shook with rage, rage at the world, rage at herself, she could leave! She could! Why wasn't she leaving? Exhaustion eventually drove her to unconsciousness. In her dreams she was in prison but there were no bars at the gates, only rows of planted carrots and radishes and tomatoes and peppers. She couldn't pass through the gates without stepping all over the plants, destroying them. Maxine couldn't do it. beyond the gates she saw enormous fields of crops. She knew, with the strange logic of dreams, that those crops were but a small part of her highly industrialized, scientific and productive agricultural enterprise, she need only destroy the little plants in her way to claim her future immediately.

She couldn't do it. Not a step. What her sponsors had failed to do, Maxine had accomplished by accident.

Unconquerable, she had conquered herself.

In bed, Maxine sighed in acceptance, in her dreams, she nursed the plants that barred her way.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

68 Wedging in a life between obligation and responsibility

Welcome to Chaos Bar. The owners' table can only be reached by cartwheeling over the heads of the regular patrons and somersaulting into a seat next to the proprietess, she rules the owners' table and by extension much of the world. Murders are not common and even suspicious deaths are rare however last night, a patron was having himself serviced just as a glass jar of scalding hot prepared mushrooms in oil was placed nearby on one of the many marble windowsills by a member of the kitchen staff and the cold marble and the hot jar contrived to shatter the jar and send hot oil and glass shards in every direction, the patron, a British tourist, was badly burned at the point of ecstasy and his service, down on one knee, got up so quickly she accidentally kneed him in his most private area which sent him through plate glass windows into Dining area 3 and that's the best anyone can do to describe it. The paramedics assured us the ultimate cause of death was myocardial infarction, heart attack, they went on to explain the shock had probably killed him long before he went through the glass, every male winced at the thought. It happens.

I come here from time to time and tonight, I'm here with company, it's not much company though, they float from one table to the next, one distraction to the next, when it's time for me to exit stage right, my company appears to want to enter stage left. It happens. Perhaps I'm not much company either, seated at the axis while the whirl revolves around me. 

By contrast, I've seen floor shows at Chaos Bar that make me feel decidedly insignificant. They have truly amazing performers. Schoolyard scenes with angels and demons. All done with lighting gels and leather jackets. Sometimes, in my nightmares, these theatrical cruelties become exaggerated to the frequency of a pure and natural horror and it feels as I might spend the rest of my life trapped inside the Chaos Bar.

In the end, I somehow manage to succeed in my escape, although I always forget my jacket at the coat check and have to go back for it. High tension! However shortly afterwards in my recurring dream, Chaos Bar has once again assumed it's real world aspect, the bouncers and barmen know me again, I take my jacket without incident time after time.

Early morning sunshine finds me on the cobblestones. Fresh air and spilt beer in my nose.

I leave Chaos Bar and my company behind. If they want to stay, let them stay. Chaos Bar is haunted and I'm the last in the circle still alive.

I'll probably be back tonight.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

69 Looking for the lost bagel

I remember bagels from a long time ago, I remember fresh bagels made by obsessed individuals, the bagels were large, not like the ones you find sometimes, they had a unique texture, firm yet yielding, golden, whisper thin surface punctured easily to rich depths, I remember how these bagels toasted, absorbing humble butter and lofty lox with equal ease, these memories come to me most frequently in the lands without bagels, there are such places, and I confess I imagine the people who live there are less happy because they have not known their own bagels, only the lucky adventures of risk takers and madmen on vacation have bagel experiences to share. I know the yeasty aroma of a good bagel, It's sometimes a long wait and sometimes extreme measures need to be made but when there's a rumour of a good bagel place in town, I invariably find myself there on the flimsiest of pretenses. I remember the great bagel drought of 2004, a local place had finally started serving bagels, uninspired affairs yet undeniably bagels, I had sunk so low as to import frozen bagels in individually packaged bags, they were not the same yet suggested their referents enough that I could use my imagination and my memories to take me closer. Imagine my joy when I found a local place that served bagels! Regrettably, it was not to last and after only a few weeks, the deliveries of bagels had stopped, the supplier had disappeared. After several inquiries and longer and more elaborate explanations by the proprietors I was finally told they honestly had no idea when they would next get a bagel delivery. 

I was crushed. So as the year dragged out and the one after that, I gave up on bagels entirely for a time, life took on a grim aspect. Everything became serious. I began to worry that I might have tasted my last bagel. Nothing so tragic as the death of hope, I kept myself from that final frontier by an immense effort of concentration and no small measure of luck. However, the sun had set on my bagel life, it seemed; my kingdom for a bagel! No one took up my offer. I surrendered to circumstance and strove to find drops of happiness in club sandwiches and crostini but they could not compare to the flood of the prime source, the ne plus ultra, the sui generis, the bagel, zen icon and gourmand's satisfaction indivisible, yet you could eat it!


Last week everything changed, the sunrise came charging back into my life. Yes! Bagels had returned to my city, the politics keeping them out had lost! I sit before  you now satisfied by the second bagel in a week available locally! Yes! I have found it! The thing itself! The philosopher's Stone!

It's a bagel!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

70 Last Exit to New Los Angels

When importing this screenplay, the standard formatting was lost, it exists elsewhere. Time considerations won't allow me to correct it here. Perhaps the next import will be more successful. However ugly, enjoy!

INT. MEAT LOCKER. NIGHT.
Tommy Two-Thumbs is tied and hanging upside down from a meat hook. Sam Marlo, a private detective, isn't asking him any questions.
TOMMY TWO THUMBS (V.O.)
Tiles need a cleaning, wonder if Marbles got it like this, lasted longer than him at least. Screw it.
TOMMY TWO THUMBS (CONT'D)
Ah, Alright, what you wanna know?
Sam Marlo changes position and says nothing.
TOMMY TWO THUMBS (CONT'D)
What, is it about Susan? I had nothing to do with that, it was Marbles, he's the one you want. What, you got nothing to say? What? Ask me something and I'll tell! Dammit ask me! Ask me! Ask me! Argh!
Sam Marlo changes position and says nothing.
TOMMY TWO THUMBS (CONT'D)
Is it Frankie? You wanna know who? Whadya want? I got names! Yeah! It's Jones you wanna ask, isn't it? Ah come on man I been upside down forever! Ah come on! if I could still feel my hands they'd be freezing! Mar, Marlo, look into your heart...
Sam Marlo changes position and says nothing.
TOMMY TWO THUMBS (CONT'D)
Gah, alright, Johnny and Alex, Frankie was their hit, it's about Frankie, right? Ah man, I had nothing to do with it, you're gonna ice me? You so fucking smart? I, I.
Tommy is unconscious, Sam slaps him awake and slips a pen knife into his frozen hands and a memory stick recording of Tommy's confession where he can see it. Marlo exits the meat locker to the sounds of Tommy sawing away at his restraints. Closes the door, leaving Tommy to struggle in darkness.
EXT. MEAT PACKING DISTRICT. NEW LOS ANGLES. NIGHT
Sam Marlo reaches into his jacket and takes a phone out of a shoulder holster where a pistol should be.
SAM MARLO
Dial Mom. (silent ring, dialling indicates on the phone), who's this? Yeah I'd hold, Jack, Sam, Tommy Two thumbs is at my location in a meat locker with evidence but not for long. I know, wasn't here. Dinner at Pinkie's tomorrow is good. Until that day, huh? Yeah, bye.
Sam Marlo walks to a bicycle and cycles for an hour or so to his car, folding up the bike and throwing it into the trunk. Changes quickly, drops the used clothes in a Salvation Army drop box. Drives home.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Stills from the film: Welcome to New Los Angels

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71 Sign of the New Los Angels Times

Land use in the New Los Angels Basin had changed dramatically over the last century, scrubland and desert had been irrigated by fresh water pumped from as far away as Colorado and the desert had bloomed, in the middle of nowhere in particular, Sam Marlo leaned on the hood of his converted replica Shelby (zero emission engine) and considered ignoring the muffled noise coming from the cramped trunk of his car.

He shouldn't have picked the Shelby for this, but Marbles Malloy was a small man, Marlo popped another H-Mary into his mouth, the desert flipped upside down and donut icicles made of pressed flower happiness drifted gently upwards for 15 seconds. Hail Mary or H-Mary, a strange contraction because it wasnt' any shorter to say, was a popular high-class hallucinagen, instant onset, 45 second half-life, For those times when harassed executives and bored housewives wanted a minor vacation from everyday but not a full weekend's worth of incapacitance.

After 30 seconds, Marlo grabbed a small gas canister and fed it's plastic tube through one of the inconspicuous holes he'd drilled in the trunk many years ago, tiny, only a psychological ventilation, still hot enough in there without the A/C running to hurt a man, but that wasn't Marlo's line, he kept the A/C on.

Environmentally conscious however, Marlo kept it at its minimum setting. He snaked the tube a little into the trunk, turned on the nitrous oxide and timed the dosage.

After 20 seconds he kept low and to the side and popped the trunk.

Marbles was laughing a little, dazed, blinded by the sun, sweat and oil soaked his suit, the throwaway piece (too small these days to find them all, some no larger than a thimble) had fallen from his hands, Marlo picked up the contraption, like a wire outline of a pistol made of coat hanger, aimed it at a patch of flowers and touched his finger to the piece of wire indicating a trigger.

The flowers burst into flame and then blew away in a cloud of ash.

"My my, a miniturized vapourizer, Marbles, the company you keep," mutter Marlo under his breath.

Marlo grabbed Marbles roughly and tossed him, hog tied, out of the trunk, knocked the wind out of him. nearby was a suitable location, a half dead tree, struck by lightning, one side blooming, the other dead.

Marlo tied Marbles to the tree and then drove the Shelby closer, parking with the headlights facing Marbles, who was regaining some of his senses in the freshening late afternoon air.

It still got cold at night in desert.

"I'm not talking." said Marbles
"And, I haven't asked you to," said Marlo, as he cut off Marbles' suit with a scalpel and a pair of surgical scissors.

And Marlo wouldn't, by dawn, with the headlights on, the cold, the fatigue and above all, the mosquitos, Marbles would tell him everything.

Marlo wouldn't have to ask a thing.

He never had before, why start?

That's what it meant to be a New Los Angles Detective, you didn't get paid for questions, you got paid for answers.

Marlo got back in his car and turned up the radio and the heat. Settled in for the wait, Marbles didn't seem like much, the wire gun was a nuisance, how'd he get his hands on one? He'd know in the morning. Ignoring Marbles' screams, Marlo drifted off to sleep. A Sleep filled with icicle donuts and 10 storey high mosquitoes and in the distance, Marbles Malloy having his blood pumped out by a giant aquatic Brazilian leech.

The long night, a New Los Angels trademark, stretched onwards.



Saturday, May 02, 2009

72 Better than the bet

Kiki Mallory was a gambler, that much was obvious, from the way she curled her dice to the way the dice hit that back board, She was a gambler, and it all came falling apart that hot and lonely winter's night in Las Vegas Nevada, population: one less than a moment ago.

There was blood, on the tiles, on the mirror, on the deep shag carpet, it was a nice scene, full of disaster and heartache, and Kiki was in the middle of it. She didn't want to be there, who would? It's just that Kiki had experienced the misfortune of being the call girl slash fiance slash card shark to a salaryman who just wanted one last thrill before tasting the big easy. It wasn't her fault, she was just the right girl in the wrong place at the right time.

As for the salaryman, his name was Tetsuo, she never learned if he was just on hiatus from his job at some nameless electronic corporation or if he was just another burned out refugee from the corporate meat grinder of Akibahara, it didn't matter, the colour of his money was good, only she didn't have to be there when he iced himself.

Gurgling, with blood in his windpipes, he pressed a note into her hands at the end, a note with only a name and an address, what could she do? She took his money and she took the note.

how could she know the extent of his injuries, the degrees of his perversions?

By the time she had been through the nightmare he'd left behind, four people had been murdered, and she'd deposited over 15 million euros in foreign numbered accounts to her name.

What are the wages of sin? somehow, she was spared.

In this life, but what of the next?