Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Mud Artist

Faced with dueling abominations, the mud artist prepares his soul and his conscience. Not for nothing now those long lonely years of study and preparation. The scholarship to Oxford. The apprenticeship at Newport News. The global span of itinerant consultations. Before him lay the jewel of his travail, the goal of his endeavors. One giant heap of ugly rubble. One giant heap of ugly mud. The consolidation of calamities would result in either one huge giant heap of hideousness, or a gentle sloping mound of earth concealing the evil rubble within. Mud boots, check. Mud gloves, check. Shovel and pick, check. Wedding ring, off. Safely bestowed. The labor to begin amid the frigid January rain. This is the life, reflects the artist. To do what one was born to do, what one can do, fulfillingness and finality.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Shrinking Violent

Escorted out the courthouse doors by his bulging mom or older sister, the Shrinking Violent feels the rage rise with the wind. His head's still itching where they shaved it, and his neck displays the purple bruises where they held him down. Not for nothing this revenge.

His mom or older sister barely squeezes in her pants, decorated on the back with the puzzling slogan Apple Bottom. He scans the street to see who might be witnessing his leave. She puts an arm around his neck. He shrugs it off. He may be only twelve but he ain't no fuckin' kid.

He caught my eye and made a note of it. That one looked at me. I know he was not ashamed. Just bad luck. When he grows up, tomorrow won't be soon enough to lose this cow who's leading him now into her sporty Dodge.

Violent hunches in the passenger seat. Now he can't be seen. He has taken all his senseless acts and wrapped them in a ball of fire. Next time that fire's gonna burn red hot.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Pushed

The Pushed has to be forced at every step. She will do nothing willingly for herself, or for anyone. She seems immutable but can be changed. How far she will go depends precisely on how hard she is pushed.

In the morning she must be wound up. This can happen with coffee. Coffee will get her to work and maybe she'll go until lunch. If there is not much work for her to do, she can get it done. If there is too much, she will never complete it. She will sit there, empty and staring at the pile.

The Pushed can be made to eat almost anything. If she opens her mouth, she will bite and chew and swallow. To get her to open her mouth, simply wave the item in front of her eyes.

She is at her best from station to station. First one spot, and then the next. She makes a good screening nurse. First she will direct you to the scales. Then she will do the blood pressure thing. Then the temperature taking. She is at her best when saying goodye.

The doctor will see you shortly, she declares, knowing full well it is a lie.

She likes to make people wait. To see them doing nothing, unable to do anything but wait, reminds her of her favorite inactivity.

The Pushed only made it through training because her mother refused to stop pestering her. After a lifetime of raising the Pushed, the mother was not going to stop until she got her daughter out of the house and as far away as possible. The mother promptly retired after that, and moved to somewhere in Florida. The Pushed would like to talk to her mother sometimes, but her calls are neither answered nor returned.

The Pushed does have a social life. Many men ask her out on dates. Once. She seems to be a good listener. She has absolutely nothing to say.

The Pushed has a dream. To go home at the end of the day and watch her shows. She accomplishes this task every night, which makes her a surprisingly content and happy human being.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Impossibly demanding and particular, her favorite words, in order, were "want" and "hate" and "no". A connoisseur of vintage clothes, she'd boldly go where styles had gone before. Her motto was simply "make it your own", and this she applied to all those items she both desired and loathed, from bath soap and tableware to cats and dogs and boyfriends. She was always in a hurry and always late. At once imposing and incorrigible, she was usually heard before she was seen, and then she was heard some more. She changed her mind continually, yet was remarkably consistent. Everything new was old and everything old was new. The five steps of K. were seeing, wanting, getting, hating, throwing in the trash.

When you listened to her words you were surprised to find she made a lot of sense. She was quite perceptive and insightful. You would have thought this torrent of consumption would have thought of nothing and yet, it was as if she'd been through that already, was now post-educational and launched headlong into a world of fabric, color and form that lay far beyond the normal reaches of the human mind. Is it possible, you wondered, that the world of knowing and thinking only goes so far, that at some point you must turn it off, and open your eyes, simply experience the senses, and that this might actually be wisdom?

She would scoff at such a notion. Don't be ridiculous, she'd say. It's just a stupid dress.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Finder

I have a knack for these things. If I don't find dead bodies by accident, I find them on purpose. I can tell where the bones are.

It's not like I have visions or anything like that. It's not a "knowing" like a psychic claims to have. There are no psychics. Don't be ridiculous.

No, really. I've been accused of that kind of thing. Sometimes people get suspicious because wherever I go, there's another one, but it's not like that.

There haven't been that many. I tend to exaggerate.

Maybe it's because I want attention. I never got enough of that. Never could. Like a boy crying wolf I'm on the cellphone. Hey, I found another one.

Police departments know my name. Now I have this tracking device I lug around. Just to put them at ease. They know I had nothing to do with it, but, like I said, just in case.

One saturday I was driving around the hills. I like driving around the hills, okay? And I pull over to the side of the road to take a piss. I climb down the slope a bit, hide behind some bushes. What do you know? Dead body.

No, I didn't pee on the guy.

He was naked, no bruises, no wounds, no nothing. Later the cops said he'd been there for at least twenty-four hours, and since I got my ankle thing, they knew it wasn't me.

Another time I was just taking out the trash. Really. Hauling my garbage out to the dumpster in the back behind my complex. Open the lid. Body.

That one was pretty disgusting.

You'd think it'd happen more often. I mean, what are the odds? People are pretty particular about where they die, it seems. Or wherever they get dumped. People who get killed get dumped way out of the way a lot of times. Those are the kind of places I like to go, so that's a reason why I find them. Most people don't go way out of the way. They've got better things to do.

Not me.

Maybe I go looking for them. I tell myself I don't but maybe I am lying. When I was four I found my cat dead under the porch. It was interesting. How'd he get there? How'd he die?

Since then I keep my eyes peeled.

Never let a day go by without finding something dead.

It heightens the senses. Makes you think twice about life.

One day I'm standing by the overpass. Suddenly this bus comes plunging down. Bam.

There's ones that get hurt and ones that die. I was in a plane crash once so I know what that is like.

There are lots of dead people where I'm from. We got fields just full of them.

Those don't count. Anyone can find them just by showing up. I'm talking about the ones that haven't been properly disposed of yet.

I think it's seventeen or eighteen now. I found one once and she was still alive. She'd been tied up, left for dead in the middle of freaking nowhere. Saved her life I guess.

I keep thinking maybe I will find another one like that someday.

Makes it all worthwhile.

No, it doesn't bother me.

I'm a finder.

People get lost sometimes. They're out there and no one knows.

I think about the ones I haven't found yet.

They're out there, and they're waiting.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Perfectly Perfect

The Perfectly Perfect is never at a loss for words. She knows no talker's block. There is a right way and a wrong way and one must always prefer the right. One must perform each activity correctly. One must know in advance what to think and do and say. Preparation is the key to successful success.

One must prepare to prepare in the perfectly proper way - this usually involves candles, which themselves must be properly prepared, with a plate beneath for gathering wax and a window slightly cracked to permit the fumes to escape.

Properly prepared preparation is key to flawlessly executed execution. Executions must of course be flawless.

Seeing a sign, one must obey as rapidly as humanly possible. The Perfectly Perfect knows that the proper response to a yellow light is to stomp on the breaks at once.

Everyone should be more perfect. Is this not the goal of humanity? The function of education is to beat the rules into your head until you no longer think; you just know. You know you have been educated enough when you know everything that you need to know, and of course when you know what that is.

The Perfectly Perfect won't look. She has seen. Won't listen. She's heard. Won't feel. She has felt. Experience is too messy. One can learn everything one needs from a book.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Dinner Saboteur

One responsible, dutiful spouse takes great pains in preparing a meal for the small one in the house. This spouse prepares the child as well as the meal, gets everything all arranged just so, and finally, the child in the seat, the meal on the table, a bite proceeding to the mouth, and then, at that moment, the other spouse, the one that shall remain nameless throughout this little piece, suddenly decides to open the freezer and extract an ice cream sandwich. This spouse, the other one, waves that ice cream around and utters exquisite little moans of delight and enjoyment. Does the child notice these enticing sights and sounds? Does the child continue to eat its spaghetti? Would the child actually presume to ask for an ice cream sandwich as well?

The Dinner Saboteur has struck again!