There islittle else but ill will circulating through the tubes of the internet thismorning, general grousing, gripes and jeremiads about little of consequence,although I would have to lend credence to the notion that a lot of anger isgenerated by site specific fears of losing one's financial security. This meansthat a good number of us in the work force, from upper management, midmanagement and the guys who wash out the trash dumpsters in the back of thestores we can't afford to walk into are worried that they might be invited intothe boss's office and asked to close the door behind them. Not a fun way tostart the morning, so I force myself to think only happy thoughts. La la la la la la is what I sing to myself,and I imagine pink ponies with ribbons and rainbows and smiley faces all overthe landscape. Next I turn to my Facebook page where one of my friends posted avideo of Brit punk band The Exploited doing the least ambiguous song I willhear all month: FUCK THE USA.
Therainbows evaporate, the pink ponies eat some toxic ragweed and fall over anddie. Red robins drop from the sky. The smiley faces are now flipping me off.
Laterthis morning there is a mood of subdued insanity as each of us smile tightly,the corners of our mouths jagged like upended hangers, boomer rang creasespushing the eyes and eyebrows into the leering slant of a deranged carnivalclown. Everything is fine and all of are going to heaven in a white boat withBlack sails, that seems to be what we are dreaming while awake, a promise ofdeliverance tempered with an omen for perpetual disaster. Free floating anxietythat wakes up ten minutes before you do and starts pressing the proverbialbuttons on the control center that constitutes your dreaming self. Oh dear, ohmy, the worst has already happened, although neither the West nor the Eastcoasts have slithered into an angry, boiling ocean. That boiling sound is moreof a gurgle, the coffee maker that has stopped working, producing scratchy gurglingnoises; it gave me half a cup this morning and did nothing else other thanengage that death rattle. Another fine day to begin the day, especially on aSunday. And now here I am, wondering, what? What am I wondering?
I wasreading a piece by Peter Whitmer about Norman Mailer's essay "The WhiteNegro” while on the bus coming to work this morning and noticed that the day sofar had the hue of a dingy wash rag. I lifted my eyes from the twitching pagesI was trying to read to see someone standing at the bus stop where the bus hadpaused to pick up new passengers, spying a guy in a grey hoodie standing on theside walk looking into the bus, straight at me where I was seated.
Alientwelve tone gangster movie theme songs emerged from my pocket just then, mycell phone was ringing. I answered, staring into nothing but an interfacecrowded with blurred icons. "This is me" I answered, "Who areyou?"
Thevoice didn't bother with an explanation or an introduction or a confession ofany kind, rather, he issued a command.
"Letme talk to the other guy" he said. There was a burst of static, a highwhistling shriek. And then the phone became very hot in my hand.
Afterlunch I turned off the computer and noticed that there was a tickle in the backof my throat, the sort of irritation that makes you think of wet sandpaperbeing the universal standard for raw flesh and blues hysteria. My throat feltthe way Tom Waits sounds, amplified aggravation in the center of the softtissue, red and familiar like a bully's smirk before he knees in the nuts andbitch slaps you more time when you try to sneak out of school via thecustodian's entrance. There was nothing I could do about the damn condition atthe moment, but I did have a half bottle of Tustin, some generic syrup for the alleviationof sore throat, cough and yet manly enough to expel the grubbily greased mucusfrom the deepest of chest resonating chambers. I drank it one gulp, a semisweetened version of the cruel cures your grandmother used to force down yourthroat with a funnel and the business end of a high heel shoe. It was awful,and all at once the store room started doing jumping jacks, my stomach declareditself a sovereign nation, my eyes saw through the thickest walls of thebuilding and could the lips of cops writing crime novels behind billboards whenthey weren't getting hummers from bums who need one more dime for some BlueNun. I was stoned on something, and suddenly the phone rang, or I thought Idid. All I remember, really, was that I answered something.
"Gewekeekek"I said into the receiver.
"Hi, I need a red rubberoctopus..."
"Don't we all" I answered.
And then the sun exploded.