Long After the Plunge

          Words trickle and drip down the sink. Letter, periods, whole damn sentences get stuck in the traps, junction and lord forbid the sewer pipe. Plumbers have been known to become wordsmiths out of sheer immersion in the stuff. It’s not uncommon for a journeyman to be covered head to toe with it: poems on his hand, face smattered with awfully stupid philosophy, and an amateur novel just sprayed all over him. No matter how hard you clean you can still smell the literacy, just a little bit.
          Paul’s been a plumber for 20 years and a literati for 15. He’s got a new novel and he’s shopping it around but nobody’s biting. Roots still creep and drains still clog, so he’s not afraid of going hungry. Marla Oglesby of 212 Rivolli Blv has a problem with her drain. Her problem is she had decided to drop a perfectly good sentence down a s pipe. Careless, but she’s old. Paul tucked it into his bag           He tries to get her to switch to copper and she doesn’t. No one buys copper, it cost too much and isn’t better enough for your average jerk to switchover. The difference is, pvc was never built to hold your soul like copper was. Sure it’ll take your waste and water but those parts of you that are less tangible? Well, they’ll just drip into your crawlspaces and then you’ll end up leaving a part of you that you thought discarded. The next home owners definitely won’t want it.
          He walks out the backdoor. There’s nothing to be done for Ms. Oglesby. She’ll just keep on in her way until she meets the grave. Most people do. Paul secretly hopes he’s not part of that majority. The van starts on the second time and he’s off the clock. Home is where the heart is, which is why he doesn’t feel the need to hide the wire and the pipes. One story, one basement; it’s his cave now and it all works just fine.
          Immediately, he delves into the basement with that sack of dirty language. Heavy wash, regular amount of detergent, it’ll come up clean. There’s a light clamped to an old pipe above an old poker table that’s been overburdened since it’s acquisition. There’s a few sentences in various states of development:

The avowed protestants quietly worshiped their lord and savior Jesus Christ.
The girls were teases, everyone and Michael knew this. His blade was sharp, his mind keen.
I love you.

           More

The Big Zen Garden

Ron, you haven’t checked in for a while so I decided to hobble my ass to the slums. 10 stories and they all smelled like eggs. Phil (who was soused by the way) says hi. Jee…z he gets gropey when drunk.

So what’s the hold up, just stamp ’em, ship ’em.

Crap is that a pen in your hand? Tell me your not.

You don’t name the sand Ron. First thing they taught you. The sand names itself. You make the sand, you grow the sand, you watch the sand but sand names sand. It’s what we call freewill. We don’t give them any vote but we give them say. Say’s free, say keeps them happy and keeps our jobs cush. Without say, we’ve got a bunch of little nothings doing nothing. It’s boring as fuck. So we give them say and we don’t have to make cable tv and hooker allowances.

Why would you want to name one? Oh for, are you making a messiah? Do you have any idea what kind of fail rate Messiah’s have? Newsflash: avatars suck and prophets go offscript. Micromanagement is a no no.

Oh don’t give me that, this is different.

How? I was bored.

Uh uh my friend, I manage you, you have no idea what boring is until you manage you.

No. Breach of protocol, plus you need 200 more years before you’re up for promotion.

Just put… Evinrude back in the pile. Wait, Seriously? Fuck that, file a I527 Naming Intervention. Tina. Or Murphy. Get her an early adoption papers, parents could probably die in a meth lab explosion. Easily.
Okay, Charlie’s got a birthday party. Yeah he’s an asshole but he’s an unfair asshole and if you act all buddy buddy with him that could mean big things for you. I see the coffee pot is empty and dirty. I blame you.

Why?

Bored.

She That is I am

     It was black and oozing out her mouth, dribbling on the floor like a cast aside Pollack sketch. It was a thick ink and there was an ocean still inside. She could feel it urge up her and she could keep it there, in that breath. If she keeps calm and deliberate she can keep her insides for hours, days but those are far away hands. She can see a second spin into a minute and then she seizes in the shoulders and she can’t do anything but excise the poison.

     There are daisies, grass and a sun all made with thick strokes of black. House and cathedrals are all built in the same sloppy earnest frame. In the sky the majestic w flies. Somewhere above, the lady still drips and spews. Her fingers work tirelessly.

The Clunker’s Soul

      It’s not a bad price to pay. I don’t mind really. The AC and heat both work. The stereo is aftermarket and way better than the standard Plymouth fare. I actually prefer stick, so that’s not a problem. I do wonder why one would have a dark green vehicle labeled Neon but I rarely buy a car for the color. It’s a perfectly working car and I don’t feel $500 was too much.
      “Can we go to the beach?”
      FM, AM, bluetooth, mp3 doesn’t matter, it’ll ask me just the same. It’s always such a low voice. Makes me wonder if the speakers are going out.
      “I can’t, this city really hasn’t got one.”
      The old girl always wants to go to the beach.
      “Is it warm out?”
      “Yes.”
      The heat is on full blast, it’s November.
      “Oh I can feel it.”
      I don’t doubt it, the heater is really powerful.
      “Are you comfortable?”
      “Oh I’m fine. Can we go to the beach?”
      I turn the fan up, I just need a little while with my thoughts. I’m kinda liking the idea of the beach too, but there are student loans to pay and rent’s due and I don’t know exactly how much groceries will cost. I’m just stuck.
      …So’s she. There is a little bit of her left in the wheelbase: you can’t ever clean it that well and she was all in there. I know because she told me back when we’d have longer conversations. I think most of her climbed up the lines and got trapped in the battery. The guy at Pep Boys doesn’t agree, but he doesn’t have to make sense of it. He just wanted to replace the battery, the stock battery, of a car made in 1996.
      Oh God.      $3.50 a gallon right now, 31 mpg highway…
      “Can we go to the beach?”
      “Soon.”
      It’s not a bad price to pay. Others pay more.

Scene from an Italian Maturbation

      It goes from togas, to tunics, to tshirts, stopping ever so briefly to acknowledge that time when they wore black shirts and went mad. There are the ruins of Rome littered through out, even in the part with the togas. Perhaps the artist was giving the people what they want. Perhaps the artist didn’t think anyone knew the difference. It is vibrantly colored though, and the landscape is breathtaking but the faces are flat and uniformly pensive turning towards anger. It really seems to denote a lack of emp… Bernard is trying to be better, trying to be nicer. Trying to stay in the moment and…

     not get distracted by the mural on the wall of the Italian restaurant while his date is trying to make eye contact before the breadsticks arrive. Bernard’s gaze rises from her big strong hands to her lovely blond hair that will soon enough turn back to red if he doesn’t work on those roots. The contacts she’s wearing create the most beautiful emerald eyes. She lets out a small uncomfortable grunt as she gives a toothless closed smile, perhaps alluding to a quirk leftover from preteen braces. He could just not be happy with her date.

     Really though? Who wouldn’t want Bernard? He’s got bad breath, an expanding midsection, receding hairline and a pair of glasses thicker and squarer than a nerd appearing in a John Hughes film. He’s got a mean cold exterior that should make him untouchable to the under 18 crowd. Yet he’s here, in a restaurant that costs more than he pays for groceries.

     “Linguine carbonara for the gentleman and water for the ahem other gentleman.”
     “Wait, we haven’t gotten breadsticks yet.”
     The waiter is already gone.
     “What? Regretting your dining choices Bernie?” Leslie is playful in tone but obviously self conscious about being the only person eating at the table.

     Bernie’s eyes wander down to the plate as the fork meets the thin slice of sausage drenched in thick red sauce. Leslie brings it up to his mouth and as her pearly white teeth bite, mercilessly tearing into the meat. Her lips were… that dark red she wore was… it had a way of breaking men down to their base. He’s about to jump across the table and take her but then she repeats and oh god, it’s even better. Again, and again until Bernie is left limp and flaccid and desperately glad that Leslie left for the little girl’s room.

     In his post vicarious carnivorous ecstasy he turns round to see if anyone else is having nearly as good of a dining experience. He finds a skinny 14 year old boy in a black flat top glaring at him while nursing a peanut butter jelly sandwich. Bernard knows the boy to be named Jessie. He knows Jessie from school. Jessie used to be quite the bully when Bernie was 12, when Jessie was 14. The thought occurs that Leslie has been switching genders. Bernie might be willing to let that go and let that night ride out into a new satisfactory conclusion.

     “I really don’t know anything.”

     She’s not even at his table yet, but he can hear her heels click behind him. He’s not going to turn around. He knows what Leslie looks like. Leslie is the type of girl who only agreed to go to the fanciest restaurant in their town on his dime because she liked him and she was still being charitable. She was a good 3 ranks above him in any order that mattered: beautiful, witty, charming. That was 17 years gone and she’s probably even better now. She’s sure as hell not still 15 and not reliving that time she
     “You know after this, I went down to the gas station, horked down a microwave burrito, went to my house and cried myself to sleep. We going to revisit that too?”
     The flesh draped over his shoulders was close enough to how he remembered Leslie, from that time he received her after her prom date was done with her. She puked on Bernie’s Burberry coat and Bernie in turn thought maybe, just maybe he was owed a go. Good times. The voice wasn’t hers, no that was probably the real voice, too many cigarettes smoked to be Leslie proper.

     “You know what we want.”
      “No. I knew. Then they erased it. I wouldn’t be a trusted courier if I kept the cargo.”
     “Well, I know what you want”
     Bernie sighs wishing that dreaming really could be enough for him.
     “You will soon.”
     The courier business is all about fight and flight. Bernie’s been told that it helps to have a friend. Bernie has Jessie which is something like a friend but at this point Jessie is just something scarier than Leslie and he’s switched open a curvy stiletto. Quieter too. Soon Bernie and the man who played Leslie will wake up in a motel bathroom but for now Leslie is crying and dying while Jessie begins to carve into the girl that isn’t. Bernie turns away helpless in the presence of his own devices, desperately not thinking while residing in his own mind.
     The breadsticks come as Bernie is leaving up the rabbit hole.
     His eyes open and there’s a man twitching next to him on a pink tile floor in a plush blue bathrobe. They had had a $300 night in a decent hotel and for a moment Bernard feels guilty about underappreciating the taker on the floor. Then he remembers what they do.
     Never feel guilty, don’t begrudge them because this is the work you do but never feel guilty for hurting a taker.
     He’s out the door and soon to call an ambulance because there is a man twitching on the floor and these things call for an ambulance but these things do happen. The man will be fine. The man will surely be fine.

     These secrets are getting pricey.

The football, the Calculator and the Terrifying State of the World

    Some sort of escalation was necessary. The only option was nuclear. Just take out the calculator and the football and let everyone else know that this time, things are final. The bill will be divided and any conflict will end in perdition.

    Do you normally carry sporting equipment?

    No, that’s a colloquialism for a briefcase that carries the means for arming a nuclear device.

    And it’s called a football why?

     Because it’s very important that you keep a hold of the football.

     So, you’d be the goalie?

    Sure if you’d like.

    I don’t think I would, me mum protested the Tridents.

     Well if I had my druthers I wouldn’t be carrying such a burden but you can only have so many off balance checks before you just get fed up and join the ranks of Israel, France, Iran and Donald Trump.

    Donald Trump, really?

     Well, I assume.

    Hmm. So how did you get a hold of it?

    The football? I made it myself.

    Found the schematics online?

    Ducktaped a universal remote to the inside of a briefcase.

     How is that going to arm a nuclear device?

    Well all I’d have to do is wire up the nuke to an ir sensor that was coded to accept commands as if it was a Samsung 27 inch 720p with wifi.

    Like picture in picture?

     On/off, maybe a timer if I felt honestly productive that day.

     I think I see a flaw in that plan.

     Well I was going to upgrade to 1080 sooner or later and I’d have a remote to go with that one.

     No I meant, well, did you actually have a nuclear device?

     Ah, but you see, that’s not a flaw, that’s a solution. You see the theory mutally assured destruction hinges upon the existence of weapon mass destruction. Some of these weapons are quite complicated machines and all of them by their very nature are dangerous. It turns out that absolute bullshit is considerably safer and more cost effective, as long as you don’t get name brand luggage.

    So, the device did it’s intended action of terrifying your table of friends who love you in to dividing up the check fairly and you went home and blew up an apartment 2 doors down.

     Actually, I just turned on the television. I had no idea that Maurice had the identical model, with a pound of C4 wired to it. Nice guy, really miss him.

    Is that common in the States?

     Nice guys? Lord, no. Most of them are assholes that would kill you soon as look at them. Not like here, why I’ve only had to pull ot a gun once sice I came.

     For your sake, I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that. I meant televisions with jury rigged explosives.

     It’s not like it’s a feature per se but it’s well within the spirit of the second amendment. Seeing the addictive nature of television I can understand why you’d booby trap the, telly(?). You can’t let yourself be a slave to the tube. I mean if I hadn’t been watching television I would have become a proper superpower.

     A superpower made of, what did you call it, ah yes, absolute bullshit?

     Aren’t they all?

    Touché.

     So do you think they’ll extradite?

     Have you infringed upon any American copyrights during your time in Corby?

     Not to my knowledge.

     Nah, you’ll be fine.

Aside

The Explicated Mormonic Woman

Wow, that scone looks good.

This seat taken?

I asked because I’m a gentleman.

I sat here before asking because I’m sadly impulsive.

I’m not one to pry but I must ask, do you know you’re a Mormon?

I don’t know why you are, you just kinda look like a latter day type.

I think it’s just that I think you’d be at home in a tabernacle.

Yes, I understand that you’re waiting for someone. I just thought you looked lonely and Mormonic.

No, I said Mormonic.

It means pertaining to Mormonism.

So I made the word up, doesn’t mean I don’t know the definition. I mean if anyone knows, I would.

Well, weightlifting and gun collecting are both quite engrossing hobbies. I’m sure he’s very satisfied. I for one would like to collect model trains, after I meet Misses Right.

Ah yes, well, I guess I should get back to the point. I just think that you and your boyfriends would be happier as Mormons. I’ve got some pamphlets somewhere.

Okay, have you perchance considered the loving guidance of Ahura Mazda? He’s really in with the indy crowd.

Of course there are indy gods: you have your Cthulu, your Spaghetti Monster and let us not forget MacGuyver. Oh and Bacchus but really he’s more a frat thing.

Oh no ma’am, I’m an atheist.

Well I assumed, you do look like a Mormon.

Fine ma’am I’ll leave, but you don’t have to be so rude.

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