Sep 27, 2006

mismatched glass

Criminologists have a theory, the broken window theory, that says if somebody doesn't fix the broken windows in the world then other people are going to decide that nothing matters, no one cares, and will do worse things than break windows.

Martin Luther had a theory, the theoscatophilia theory, that says that humans are the shit of God, but that God offered that shit redemption by identifying with it, by loving humans in their excramental identity.

I tend to think of those two theories together.

"Childhood is a tricky business. Usually, something goes wrong."
        - Maurice Sendack

"He knew only that the child was his warrant. He said: if he is not the word of God God never spoke.”
        - Cormac McCarthy

"They ought to make it a binding clause that if you find God, you get to keep him."
        - Philip K. Dick

"My friend had found them at a rally against the Iraq war, a big stack of near-complete print runs for sale to anyone who cared to remember that everything they were saying now had been said before."
        - Jeff Sharlet
Omens without interpretation

A toliet plunger with a six foot handle.

Three cars in a row with one head light out (right, left, right).

A book with an orange cover in the middle of a highway, being run over repeatedly.

Sep 24, 2006

Pick-up park ball

Devan was at bat. He shifted his front foot. He shifted his back foot, pivoting it from the toe and letting the turn work all the way up his leg and into his shorts. He put his bat on his back shoulder and picked it up again. He tapped the corner of the plate and put it back up and moved it around and around.

He was a fidgety kid.

He was wearing his Giants cap backwards so the adjustable snaps were leaving red dots on his forehead. Most of us were wearing Giants caps. Chauncy had a Bulls hat. Chauncy was a Samoan, I think. I never asked. He could hit pop flies up over between the right fielder and the center fielder so they'd both look at it and look at each other while he ran really slowly around the bases without even looking at the ball.

I had an A's hat with a bent bill that always had people starting arguments with me about Jose Canseco. That was the year of the battle of the bay, though. I didn't really care if Canseco was an asshole for stealing too many bases too flamboyantly or if the A's were or weren't better than the Giants and I didn't even get into the arguments. I liked my hat. I liked my hat and I liked having a team and I liked playing baseball in the park.

We were all on the pee wee teams, playing in that suburban league between t-ball and little league. We'd seen the T-ball games and some of us had played but nobody would have admitted that because T-ball basically wasn't baseball. And you were playing with kids that didn't even know the rules and would sometimes run around the bases backwards. Every inning, it seemed like, some kid would hit the T and tip the ball off the top and think that was a real hit and start to run and when a coach sent him back to try again he'd cry. It was stupid.

We were all on teams but this was outside of that. We'd played in the morning with the team, on the Saturday wet grass marked in diamonds by orange cones, with the parents coaching and watching from blankets on the sidelines. We'd play in the morning and then go home and eat popcicles out of the chest freezer in the garage and then get bored and get kicked out of the house and wander down to the park, with gloves and bats and balls. We just liked to play.

We weren't looking forward to little league, though. In little league you didn't play with your buddies from the neighborhood. In little league the parents, the dads, were really involved. Rich kids dads would sink money into a team and all of them would come out wearing white cotton pants with the strap around the feet and they'd have silk shirts and custom-fit hats. The dads would bribe kids in the try-outs to get them on a certain team and coaches would scream at you if you lost and the whole thing got really serious in little league and no one just wanted to play ball.

Heeee-ey, batter batter batter batter batter batter, Cogan yelled. Cogan was the short stop and probably the meanest short stop ever. He'd try and trip you. And he'd yell at you when you ran by. Once he threw the bat at the pitcher, but he missed. The way we played, there were no penalties for missing.

There were two sets of rules, the way we played. There were the real rules and then the ones we added. None of us ever remembered even learning the real rules. Strikes and outs and balls and innings just came naturally. The other rules were re-negotiated every time we played. Basically they were always the same, but if there weren't enough people for two teams the rules about ghost men might come up and sometimes we'd allow replacement hitters, but only if it didn't change things too much.

We didn't have umpires to call calls so we had to make them by consensus. If the third baseman said the runner was safe then he was definitely safe, but if he said he was out then both teams would have to come over and confer and we'd defer to the person who was closest who seemed to be making a call out of something other than self interest. Same thing with the runner. Both teams normally had a guy who all the other guys trusted to make a call against his own team if that's the way it really was. We didn't have a name for that guy, but you had to have him or the whole thing would end up with fights and posturing and people try to yell their way into the 10th inning and we didn't want that. We just wanted to play.

I stood up, pulled off my hat so the wind came through my sweaty buzzed hair. I put it back on and pulled the bill low so I was seeing through the green arch was it was stained brown by my hands. Let's go, I said. Let's play, I yelled.

The first ball was a ball, going too high like about at Devan's eyes but he swung anyway so it was a strike. Cogan laughed. Devan picked it up from the fence that was our back stop and threw it back to Chauncy. We didn't have a catcher. The second ball was a little tight but he tipped it with the bat down where he had it in a choke. It went straight down into the home-plate dirt and exploded and bounced back behind him. We called it a strike without saying anything and Devan underhanded it back to the mound. The third ball went straight through and zang off the fence and bounced back to him. It hit his foot.

He looked at it. Three strikes. He stood still, looking down.

He bent over and came up with it in his left hand while the bat was out in his right and he popped it up, a little, hopped it up and pulled back the bat and whacked it. He came up on the ball out of a crouch when the ball was falling down and the bat thwacked and the ball went spinning out in a straight line over Chauncy's shoulder.

Jesus, yelled Cogan, and he took off his hat to watch it fly. The ball went up and hung there. We could have called it there. Illegal, obviously. Don't be a poor sport, only girls and babies get four strikes. Three strikes and you're out. But we waited. You had to see what it was going to do and it hung there, spinning, and came back down. We watched it. Devan had started to run to first but stopped and was just standing there on the base line.

The ball came down, dropping and dropping and the kid from the apartments across the creek who's name I don't remember but who's older brother was in a gang, he moved out after it. He tried to place himself under it and we watched it, and watched him and watched Devan watching.

Three strikes man, Cogan said. Three strikes.

The ball smacked in the kid's glove. He didn't always catch and sometimes he would throw off his glove and try to get it with his hat like he was in the grand stands instead of the outfield, so it was good he caught it. I caught it, he yelled and he held it up and grinned.

Cogan laughed. Shut up Cogan, I said.

I just wanted to hit it, Devan said.

I think that was the last game before little league made it so we couldn't just play.

Sep 19, 2006

Like the smell of carpet

The fan above me was turning. Slowly whomp, whomp, whomping. The chain linked from the engine down in a pull cord to the wood knob was rattling and the engine was making a dry grinding sound.

I was surprised I was still here. The carpet was leaving marks on my check.

I'd had a pillow, last night. Well, I'd had two t-shirts bunched up into each other and bunched up under my head, but now they were flat. Now they were stretched out flat, looking like they were missing bodies. There was a sweat stain in the middle of one in the shape of my head.

There was the bed in a frame and the bed on a box spring on the floor. After that there was the mattress on the floor, and then the fold out couch and the couch. Then this, the floor. This was the bottom. When I woke up to the fan and the morning seeping through the carpet on the concrete pad, someone was asleep on the couch and on the mattress and on the bed in a frame. They are all here, I thought, we are all here. The place smelled of sweat and carpet.

The cold was on and the heater kicked on and the dust began to burn in the vents. There was orange juice out in a carton on the counter. It tasted warm and like the pulp was starting to turn.

I was surprised I was still here, but then where else would I be.


William A. Lester was standing in a driveway, talking to a couple. They had been seeing things, they said, paranormal things. That’s why Lester was there.

Lester was taking notes. How often did they see it? How fast did if fly? Did it hover? Did it look like anything they’d ever seen before?

It looked like a triangle, they said, a large black triangular object with a red light and it flew really low over their house but it didn’t make any noise.

"That's really unusual," Lester said.

Sep 16, 2006

'My trick was always, I don’t find any of my tricks amusing, and yet I keep doing them.'
              - Priz.

Sep 6, 2006

Moses

Whatever he was hiding from was forgotten, by now, was hidden back lost back behind one night motel rentals and tank fulls of gas paid with cash. That was too many reinventions ago to remember, to many name changes to keep track of. What was his mother's maiden name? What was his social and D.O.B.? What was the original fall from grace? No idea, friend, no idea.

There is a redeemer, he said aloud, and his fountain is filled with blood stretching from here to the shining sea.

He carried a suitcase full of little green bibles, some posters and pamphlets and a sandwich board sign saying The End is Here painted green on white wash-plywood. When he came into Red Bluff Reservoir, down into the lowest point of New Mexico, he pulled into the desert dirt lot too fast and there was the sound of crunching throwing up gravel behind him. The dirt spun out into a cloud that hung into the evening and settled down over the cars all laid up in the lot.

Hallelujah, he said. The cloud of the Lord went before the people of God into the desert, he said, a cloud by day and a fire by night and Moses led the people through the desert and to-wards the promise land hallelujah.

No one heard him. The words waited in the air, hanging there waiting to settle down onto something and there was no one there to hear him so the words waited and then went sneaking out into the edges of the cacti. Hal-lah-lu-jah, he said and he said it loud but it came out in a whisper.

There are only two ways to go, in reservoir. There's the east road coming in over the red bluff and the west road going out along the side of the red river. Half of it's gone and the other half is coming. The sun was up in that middle hesitation, the zenith where the sun looks the smallest and the brightest. The people there have been there so long that they have to invent stories about how people managed to get there, since not even the oldest person remembering the oldest person can remember any stories about how it was it happened. There are two old churches there. There's a baptist church that doesn't have a pastor. The last one left some time ago and the old ladies never agreed on why so they never could say what to say in a letter to send for another one. There's a Catholic church too with a priest so old he's half blind and the people think he might be making up the mass as he says it.

He had posters, in his suitcase. He had handbills. He had a gospel and an announcement of a revival where he could guarantee you that the holy ghost was waiting and where he would come if you would. They were all printed up and ready but the street was so empty. He stood there for a minute, his car door open and the little beep beep beep coming out and he couldn't think what to say.

He hefted the suitcase. The fabric sewn around the handle was starting to tear. He hefted the suitcase and it ripped and he threw the handle away. He threw the handle away in a side arm toss off and it splattered off into the ground and bounced and landed on the side of the building with the cigarette butts and the broken bottles. He grabbed the suitcase with both arms and kneed it up to his chest. He pulled it around up to his shoulder and walked around the side along the back where the kitchen door was open between the back of the place and the dumpster. The kitchen door was open and empty with a rag wet and stained a tomato red hanging of the handle and the dumpster door was up.

He stepped between the one door and the other and he mis-stepped a little and went sideways in the twist of an ankle. But he caught himself, leaning his neck away from the suitcase on his shoulder he took a running two step and lunged and grunted and heaved and the whole thing flopped into the dumpster. There was a crash of garbage bags crunching and the sound of the tin sides inhaling and exhaling and it was, like that, all over.

He walked around to the front and ordered a room. He rang the little bell and the man said, sorry. What ya need? the man said. He said, a room. The man said, what's the name, got to put down a name here, and he said Moses. It was the first name he thought of. Man said, hot enough out there? Moses said, it's hot. Man said, yeah, sometimes it gets that way.

Sep 4, 2006

tree faller

Sep 3, 2006

Safe inside

James spent most of his day driving between the parking lot and the gas station. No, no actually, he spent most of his day washing the cars.

He washed the cars in the dealership lot with a rag and a bucket going in circles. Going in circles he washed the cars, blue and black and tan, turquoise green and hunter green and white and red and yellow. The lot was in a line of lots along the highway with lines of lined up cars, all the cars washed and wiped and wiped until they were all shiny. All of them shiny, all festooned up with balloons and promises of million mile guarantees with no money now low credit now nothing down, fully loaded.

He would wash the cars in the morning, washing off the dew. He washed them in the middle of the day, burnishing the clean cars again just to be sure they shone. He washed them again in the evening so they'd catch the glint off the sun and the eye of the passing drivers and so they'd be clean for the dew to fall again.

He spent most of his day doing that and sometimes he'd be moving the cars around in a giant perpetual shuffle - from the truck to the spot up front and from the spot up front to the shop to the back to the middle, from the one side to the other and around. He didn't mind moving the cars but never really understood why they were going or what was the point of the cycle of parking places but they said to move them so he moved them.

But then sometimes - the times he waited for - they'd ask him to take the cars out on the road down the way to the Shell stations and pump some gas.

Jim-boy, the mechanics would say, standing in the door of the shop in clothes all dark smock-blue except it still didn't hide the oil stains that wouldn't wash out and spread over their bellies. Jim-my-boy, they would say and they would hold out the keys in a dangle.

Jamie honey, the parts lady would say, would say sitting in the red push up chair behind the counter in her flower print blouse and perm-curl hair and she would smile and put the keys out on the counter.

Catch Jimmy, the salesmen would say upswinging the last part of his name, sweat seeping yellow on white shirts and ties swinging awkwardly from their necks and they'd jock it, flip it, toss it to him in an arch saying catch and he'd have it in his hand.

He'd clench it.

In the center of his first its edges would bite his hand. Its edges would slip into the slot in the column of the car, making the silent click fitting in. Sliding in, locking in. He would pull out onto the road, out into the come and go of cars all converging here on this stretch of pavement along the stretch of dealership lots of new and used and shiny cars. It only took a minute. He drove up and pumped and the gas gurgled down the hose and into the tank and he drove down again to the lot and it was over.

For that drive, though, he felt at home. He felt in control, no, no, not control he just felt safe, wrapped in the steel and glass and upholsteried seats. He liked the way the inside felt bigger inside than it looked from the outside. He liked the way the car reached out every knob and switch to touch him. He liked the way he fit in the car and the way the car fit in around him.

He thought maybe he'd been born in a car.

Sep 1, 2006

Georgia Holiday

There's a girl on a moped. I notice the moped first because it whines. Then I notice the brown dress flapping around her feet and realize there's a girl buzzing down a hill on the moped. Baby blue moped. Chocolate brown dress. Cream white helmet and matching scarf thrown around her neck once and fringed and waving out good bye behind her.

Scarf? It's 90 effing degrees and it rained so the air is sopping with humidity and sweat. She's a perfect picture of Roman Holiday or something but this isn't Rome and it's not a damn holiday damnit. This is Georgia.