For Every Tib and Tom Cat

dimecres

Adding the tenth.

Chemistry of Offensive Breath


1.

Earlier this morning Coralline was reading the "Final Solution" magazine. Everything she read from it gave her a pang of recognition. There was even a transcription of a conversation between a camel and its hump… That sounded dumb on the face of it. And up to a point it was, but then something clicked. Noam Chomsky couldn’t have said it better. One point especially stood out for her, kicking her face in, as it were. Camels, the writer said, were trained from birth to imagine their hump as a stigma. So that with them their class position was definitively established.

“Whoever possesses a hump — they are told by nature — that heartless bitch — is rather marked to function as a hump-ridden beast of burden for the economy. Contrariwise, a person let’s say who has a giraffe neck and a diamond necklace to enhance it, usually thinks of herself as upper class, regardless of what her actual work is, or whom she takes orders from…”

This concept of natural gifts or curses has been running amok in all societies of humans…

Coralline was a divorced gal. New ideas brought in a rush a thrill of possibilities for her. She had grown up unconscious of such huge stuff as philosophers’ stones and panaceas, and other deep ontological notions. She had only known about secretaries landing the boss, or humble but pretty nurses marrying the chief surgeon.

Just becoming aware of some of the oppression natural organisms lived under, did change her whole mode of looking at the world. She perused the magazine with a certain unction. She loved to learn. Another of the “Final Solution” essays, one bizarrely titled “An Appendix Extracted from an Ant,” affected her still more.

In it the author talked about how we are really not allowed to have any influence in our surroundings, if… (and that was an enormous if) we submit to the policies of nature. The economy be damned, nature was the task master.

Her coffee had gone cold. She rang the bell. The maiden came. “Nina,” Coralline said, “hot coffee if you please; I think I’ll spend the night studying…”

Nina, adjusting her tights, answered: “You don’t think about sex and riches anymore. Are you depressed…?”

Coralline was too immersed in her portentous reading to reply. She mumbled and kept on deciphering the truths buried therein, amongst the shiny luxurious pages of the chick magazine.

Later she phoned Maximine, her new friend. “I suffered a great deal when I first read it several years ago; all this Communist stuff, honey, it rots your mind.” And then Maximine pointed out with blinding clarity that the all “final solutions” create a perfect world, yes, but too materialist withal.

Maximine said, over the line: “Usually when someone says your hump creates your reality, they mean it in a literal sense, sort of like the slogan your platitude determines your crassitude or you are nature’s prostitute when bending to decrepitude, as though one could simply decide on the world that surround them just by trying to eject from this gilded or rusted cage called existence. No, my dear, self-involved denial carries you nowhere but to an early grave… What you must do is throw to the lions all books and printed rubbish and get thee to a make-up artist. Our thoughts and beliefs are rabid viruses…”

Coralline was not convinced by the elder woman’s rantings. Her inalienable right to hot coffee marked her sure of being able to converse with the sages, who in their ages enjoyed also the peace of spirit that brought them to understand the whole of it, the fabric of being, and so forth. Stupid people are killed, to put it bluntly, because they are unwilling to study the fine points of wisdom. If master of the universe, it is true that she could have put a stop to any silly unilateral invasion, or could have at least slowed down the murderous warriors who always show suck lack of the courage for they always go against the frail in order to rob them or make intergalactic slaves out of them. No; she would follow her common sense, would have for advisers only the best versed in stoicism and simple-vices. To stand up against the powerful one needs to beat them at ideas, and have incredibly huge followings. For that one needs organs of pollution that are hard to come bye without money. Without money you are a marked woman, and you pay for your courage with your life…

She woke up after a few hours. She couldn’t remember if she had drunk the coffee per se or if it had been drunk by a goblin or by the maid or by a visitor or by a secret admirer, or maybe it had just evaporated by itself, but this was generally her point: that our fanatical belief in the properties of natural life must be challenge in all fronts, for it causes people to be murdered non-stop or, by lack of solvable riddles, causes plenty of suicides. A lot of stupid people take for granted everything. An oilbath and a bloodbath are only equivalent when the light reverberates in just the proper way of life, which should be non-negotiable. That's what she meant.

She had been dreaming sinister excerpts of the end of the world. The voices were right out of the conclaves where the powerful of the universes concocted their “natural happenings.”

The lowly speakers emerged to announce that nature will never be gainsaid. But of course could Coralline may have been the only member waiting for the trite news to spread who knew that all was a ridiculous comedy…? That nature was a sham…?

On the other hand, what folly to pray for courage…! Coralline’s orifices needed filling… Biggest of all, her mouth. Many blind spots appeared before her eyes. She fell vaguely faint. Her failure to grasp the forces of traitorous nature, led to many of her difficulties now… She attempted to stand and fell upon the muddy rug. The blitzkrieg of ideas coming to her little head with the speed of a bunch of stampeding elephants had left her feeling foolish…

Dragging along, she cursed herself. She tried piping up, but no sound came out of the dried mouth... Nina the maid who knows for how many hours had been absent, maybe gallivanting with her beaus… All perfectly decent persons can turn into monsters as easily as cheese molds. And there's no reason why one should in just a few thoughts follow a certain chain of reasoning that, when subtly incorrect, at the end of the chain, prove that at the end of the day we’ve just become another of the numberless insidious intellectuals that prattle away in irretrievable nugacity…

She at length reached the kitchen and ate and ate.


2.

“Since you are on your own, you’ve grown so conceited, Coralline!”

Maximine was rebuking her while briskly walking down the avenue. A new sage’s scowl was adorning Coralline’s wide brow. Trails of exhaust gas kept drifting into their grim faces.

“I have a niece,” Maximine started again, “she’s a corny, cockeyed girl, very ugly, glasses, adipose, you get the picture, an intellectual type, and smelly, her breath…! A sky gazer to boot. Goes out by nights but not to any party or dump where the oil-rich void their greedy contingency plannings, if you know what I mean, far from their greedy wives, stoking the fires of their dying libidos, conjuring up their forgotten dreams of vestals and houris, and above all letting loose and distributing the excess avoirdupois of their plenty stoked wallets, but no, she’s up into the cold freezing top of the hills looking at Venus and the Martians in their dirty synergies and syzygies…”

Coralline scratched her head, she said: “What…?”

“Of course the poor girl is rat-poor,” Maximine emphasized, “she’s not alimony-stricken, to coin a phrase, filthy rich as you are, so that you can avoid all the strictures of those commoners who need worries to stay alive, worries that only add deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars, and instead you can devolve all your leisure into bleak reprisal, let’s say by studying the stoics and their tricks for dying while in the meantime killing with boredom and unproductivity the bulk of their relatives… Fatalities galore, the woes of the friends, the guffaws of the foes…”



“As a matter of fact I do, winched like a jade,” answered Coralline, quite firmly this time. “Come and let’s sit down over this patch of dry moss, Maximine, for what I am about to tell you shall of all evidence be surprising news to you indeed…”

Maximine was alarmed. “You want to commit suicide, that it…? And I’m not sitting down where the damned dogs happily turd away. Let’s get into some of these watering holes, as the toughs call ‘em.”

It was a dreary haunt for down-on-the-luck gays. Sloppy, fat and stinky men were dancing and prancing, atrociously dressed as atrocious women. The lacquers were all scratched, dimmed, peeling. It was serious oneiric fun, though. They sat down, watched the spectacle with growing grievances…

Coralline bitterly remembered: “My husband’s lover, and mine…”

“Oh, I know…!” Maximine heartily sympathized, “it was horrible, such dire debaucheries! Your lover his lover! Such shock!”

“I was transmogrified into a fallen leaf; ready for mulch.”

“Tell me about it. Don’t I know? What a pity, though. Such a handsome Chink!”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“I know. A circus contortionist! The things he could do! The snakings, the slitherings, the emballments…!”

“The embalmments…? Was he a mortician also…?”

“No; I mean, the way he shrunk himself into a little big ball of substance! Tell me, did he really ever manage to quite put himself whole, you know, inside of…”

“I hate to talk about it.”

“Just a few details I failed to get, come on! Even the balls of his feet, I mean…?” Lascivious bitch, Maximine prodded.

Coralline was quiet for a piece, though you could see she was slightly trembling: a marksman’s trifling target. The obvious lechery of her counterpart, the dismal atmosphere, her thoughts last night of impending finitude and choking existentialism… The tears started to flow…

Maximine waited, slavering over her cold cognac. And then her heart of fire thundered, imploded, pure napalm relinquished with rapturous compassion: “Speak, speak!, damn you!” —she finally implored.

“Such a pollutant, peripatetic, personable phallus as a single man — a moist pliable prong with a face, that was him, a trunk with a comely physiognomy. Damned pederast all told. Compacted as a concertina, and then, inside, expanding like flames. The phycomater with which spends inside turning into plastic, like if with contact with the phthalates inside the womb, plastifying into pipes and cables of some new being… Ah, no, it’s too iniquitous, too wicked!”

“I’m amazed nonetheless at how you keep your perfect composure… Despite so many contretemps. Putting aside the congenital costs of consanguinity and the dreads of contagion, there’s the irk of wounded pride… Ah, my dear, don’t I understand…?” Maximine was picking at the tarnished chrome plating bordering their lame table, with her sham commiserative words trying to extract further confessions.

“Ah, the calamitous consequences of being born into this cage. We are in it but helpless chess pawns, the cuckold and the prostitute, and the tiger and the elephant. Like a tricked loadstone, each of us keeps leading the van, but, internally, don’t we wonder whereto…? Over the flaccid bourns around which our private motherlands must bristle in confusion, nothing, but a rather rapider death looms.”
“Indeed, but… God, you’ve gone so deep in a few days! It’s so dangerous unfathomable deepness… Those dark thoughts! My dear, wishes of suicide arise like fumes, sulphurous volcano of the soul.”
“Suicide…? I’m not ready for suicide, I’m just haunted by a pushy rage that sizzling whispers to me hidden means by which one could maim the fucking creep so that he loses his job… But I’m in such a two-mind quagmire. On the one hand the decorous revenge, on the other all the teachings of those beautiful clairvoyant philosophers… How can one ever forget the first rule of the stoics, you take command of yourself…?”
“Yeah, but pardon me, ladies. I’ve overheard passages of your interesting conversation, and couldn’t help but…” A burly man-woman interrupted, his drab dress full of malodorous stains. “Look, talking about quandaries. Just measure mine, if you please. I love the excitement of speed, ok? Nothing I love more. I’ve got a new motorcycle. A darling of power untold. And sweet on the eyes — my, the princess of the roads. I’m just a flaming motorcyclist in love with his machine. Yeah, but what’s one to do with his darling of a resplendent vehicle…? You arrive at the airport, your mother’s dead in Elmira and you must visit with the rest of the family already intent in scamming you because your heterodox inclinations… So, I’m going to the door of the airport. The employees therein always despaired and diseased, no hope of improvement, only fast deterioration… We all have seen them. All gone old and smelly and cancerous in a jiffy — hideous tumors abounding… And they complain all day about their crazed schedules… I’m not going to go to them to solve my motorcycle problem. On the other hand, if I leave it outside it will be immediately stolen, or vandalized by vandals, or just punished by Jupiter… What to do, the hell if I know. Inside the aircraft no way they want it. Too valuable, or whatever… I could sell it cheap to you two rich ladies, you just keep it for me, you use at your convenience, I see by your dainty hands how careful you’d be with the darling machine, then I’m back, and richer also, and I buy my unspeakably sparkling mounture at a premium, you bet.”
“I hate to puncture your pretensions, sir,” Maximine carefully spelled. “But have you considered the so-called counterpenalty proposal…?”
“Eh…?” The burly fellow was nonplussed.
“As when one is compelled to commit to predawn procreation, the payback can become prohibitive. I’m a compulsive concertgoer, and so is this fair dyke here, my partner in crime. With the rest of them elegant scoundrels and popinjays we attend the premieres, never as poor craftsmen and penniless wonders, you bet. None of us acclimatized to misery, really. The graceful curlicues of the line resembling in nothing a cast of characters in police custody… Just the preacher or the priest, the swindlers out of depth with swindlers bigger than them by miles of altitude. See them plucking convulsively at the collars of their asphyxiating coats…?”
“I see nothing. Want to buy or not…?”
“Could you commit a maiming…?” Coralline asked.
“A maiming…?”
“Just some breaking of the legs…”
“Of a human…?”
“A semihuman if you will. A forsworn Chink.”
“Well, let’s talk… Name’s Willie the jackal, who always proceeds in all seriousness.”
“Fine. Here’s my card…” Coralline was about to give him her card, then, when Maximine jumped and snatched.
She laughed in a demented laugh. “Non est sana puella!” She screamed.
“Who speaks spic…?” Aggrieved, the tough gay motorcyclist retorted, red-faced too.
“Latin and Greek, my dear. Only things one learns of profit at school. The leading classes rising to lead, plus as a thoughtful gratuity offering off a poetic say of what are they at... Perí philías kai symmakhías… About friendship and strategic alliance with the classes d’en bas. That’s froggy for you, also useful at a pinch. Crimes crapuleux perpétrés sous des prétextes patriotiques… While the exempt were cocufying the poilus… But you surely know the rest of the story, sir. Would not they then remember one of (in all its concomitant apparatus) the poetess’s exquisite compositions of old…? You tell me.”
“Crazy bitch. Are you making fun of me…?”
“Sir, I wouldn’t dare. My dyke friend, fair as she is, wants to maim my husband. When we are in bed, Fred and I, monotonously crisscrossing his most boring feats of the day and mine, and then going about through every secret vista of a same single item, while perhaps the other one already sleeps, for at heart we know, Fred and I, that everything we say are lies, you couldn’t picture a more helpless puppy. Now my friend in her jealousy would castrate or else unleg him, but I most vigorously must differ… Our purposes are at loggerheads. Sir, the request that’s been made of you is by no means ripe… If something adumbrates maybe later we’ll call again, thank you.”
“Your fucking brains are too ripe. Repellent broads.” Disgustedly, the aging hooligan at last retreated.
Coralline and Maximine had a breath at leisure now. For the while they had been holding at a minimum the pumping of the available air. They discussed a little about the weird chemistry of offensive breath.
“Man, the mucky odd fish surely stank.”
Then it was noon, as usual time to dine. And pretty merry it was too;
the servants kind and competent, the food you could condescend to even eat it, and, on the other tables, the dilapidated office men, and the farmers in town with their cowlike wives providing a mass of anecdotes and scurrility. Everybody so stupid, observing here and there the usual empty ceremonies, with the drinking of healths, the preaching to the choir, the kicks under the plates, the retchings and the climate change crisis, and the funereal burning of the candles…



3.

Angel of death, she thought… If you would rather not be again the last to drown, to its unwinged rump now... you... must... hurry.

Angel of… Inform my deformed form… Winded and winched like a jade, I thee thus beseech…

Coralline was in the bathroom, sitting snugly at the commode, somnolently perusing some essay by Schopenhauer…

Nina the maid, the fresh vixen, who had been suspiciously out of breath when her mistress (“the learned hyena”) had arrived home, now peered from the door ajar to the bathroom…

“Would you like,” she started, “for me to enumerate the times the Magic Palmist has called…?”

“Who the dickens is the Magic Palmist…?”

“You tell me, it was a gruff voice of an old woman, I thought. Plus she seems to relish her disagreeable job.”

“All this is shameless arbitrariness. How could you tell…?”

“Look, whoever is caught emending nature, trying by dirty tricks a release of sorts from the deserved miseries of this world, sins again the maker or mackerel of the whole shebang…”

“Are you under the impression that mackerel is the feminine form of maker…? My god, that’s a kind of a sardine!”

“Sardine yourself. A red herring you are giving me, and stinking red also. Plus: A mocking laugh that could be heard for a mile yet as she sliced and splotched the words of the righteous, says the Bible some place, remember, is the sign by which the malign is made manifest. When poor Walter the wildebeest came to talk to the magicians at the temple about his sexual problems, and he had his whole family in tow, he was also laughed away, and told that he was a liar to top it all, and that his home town had been in consequence obliterated.”

“Walter the wildebeest…? You are silly. That must be in some other fairy tale!”

“Poor Walter! The damned unbelieving priests of the magical temple, anti-idolaters that they were, wouldn’t believe maps or other idolaters’ marks of evil possession. When Walter the wildebeest came back the next day with a few pages of some old newspapers of the biblical ages, where three or four articles stood published over the years…, and dealt with Walter’s town, and named some outstanding members of his family... The batch of clippings must have been one of his most prized treasures, proud that he was of his family, poor but dignified enough, not like some folks in the dissolute cities… But then the infidel anti-idolaters said: These are all lies. And with a snap of their claws they snatched the papers and went to the table over the corner… And they yelled: ‘Tis all wrong, those towns sure deserved obliteration. And forthwith they scratched off the names over the maps and the newspapers and wrote on top instead an awful spate of nonsense…”

“Indeed!”

“Poor Walter was appalled. Defeated, he retreated with his head on the mud, pelted besides by the loud and mean guffaws she spat at him, the righteous wildebeest.”

“Well, thank you for the tale well told, and now warm my bed, please. I’ll be finished in a sec or less…”

“Shun the witch, shun the obnoxious witch forever. Nothing good will ever come of her… This is what I have to say.”

“Ok, I’ve heard you. Next time the what…, the Magical Palm-reader calls send her packing. Tell her I have a better interpreter of the occult powers…”

“Laugh, laugh. Laugh your soul to the embers eternal…”

As Nina disappeared, Coralline got up, wiped herself, looked at the bottom of the commode… It is merely apparent, she thought, though, damn, does it smell ugly. But as there is a huge difference between a mistake and a crime, so between what’s discarded and what’s kept. As she flushed, she had a vision of all the Christian clergy, perfectly in order, chanting in a deadening monotone that the real purpose of life is suicide. And that thwarting the act or even quarrelling against it can’t be either ascetic or reach a ethical standpoint of even moderate heights.

She went to the console near her office; she unwrapped a few of the little packets of make-up products she’d bought that evening with Maximine, she was trying a new delicately perfumed lipstick when the doorbell rang. She on a reflex stepped to one side of the console, she flattened against the wall…

Learning about morals from the best philosophers of Europe makes you very wary, chary, distrustful of the whole world. Her freshly manicured nails were nervously dancing over the red buttons of the console. Nina was at the door. Murmurs of conversation reached her as vibrations of doom. At length the door snapped close again.

“Nina, who was it…? So late!”

Nina tried her best to look busy. It looked as if her zeal must be instigated by some secret connection. One of her many beaus, surely. She ignored her mistress at first. Then she faked ignorance.

“I’d bet you are wet…” Coralline said.

“Waging is against the strictures of the scriptures, plus the extraordinarily active fanaticism with which the clergy of the monotheistic religions encourage not wagering is supported both by the bible and the rest of the organum…”

“Whatever. Let’s go to bed, and we’ll see…”



4.


Coralline had Spengler in mind (or at least a second or third hand version of it) when she said, in front of the mirror, as she was washing away the sticky residues of three orgasms enjoyed eight or more hours before, “There is a good girl who covets nothing better than the smiley prospect of a late soft swift euthanizing of the spent self…”

Feeling thus virtuous, last night thrice brought to death in the flower of her age by the skillfulness of her lovely maid, dweller at the present in a cloudy worry-free afterbliss, she would have had to look a long time to find another woman more barren of ill-boding ideas than she.

She thought that as her obscurantist neighbors, silly congregants, televisionally bereft of all wits, with a belief that a shirt or shift taken off a sick person and thrown into a portentous well of shimmering rays will prognosticate his fate... In the program seen in passing the other night, when the garment floated the person was supposed to recover, when sinking he should die a thirsty death… How unlike the unpoisoned raven (ravens never believe the rubbish the religionist cabal feeds the witlings mesmerized by the screens), the studious raven, who, when thirsty, filled bye and bye, with pebbles, a pitcher half full of rain-water, up until the liquid could be reached by its beak… And if anybody should have witnessed such resourcefulness and filmed it, alas, and made it available to the credulous public, there you have it, another stupid miracle. How quickly would then the devout rush to kill the raven, maybe as one by the devil possessed, or, a contrario, in order to carve its miraculous bones, each chip cut off from it to be put into water, and then that water would cure men or cattle of their diseases... Plenty of rackets like these popping non-stop… But…

Smut-gray bones… Chipped… Coralline felt an increased anxiety about her collections… Indeed, that was just the dream she’d had. She was back at the University. The year was over. Everybody had vacated the edifice. Now the cleaning crews, plus the spooks at Naval Intelligence (which was definitely running some sort of treacherous operation, as always), had invaded the premises. She had been caught. “The fuck you doing here…!” And harsher yells backed by submachine guns pointing at her, angry guns eager to fume. She was only saving the beautiful books of the beautiful philosophers of old, barbarously left soaking in the clogged toilets by the imbecilic students who had finished their pseudo-education and who now were all in for the asthmatic grasping, loose in the jungle, panting for the greed and the apoplexies, dying of insatiable voracity and cloying stinginess, with no need anymore for sophronema and sophrosine, and common sense, and fortitude, and eupepsia and eubiosis, and the grasping of the authentic realities…

As the man who has no wife is no cuckold, so the surgeon who has no fool to operate on is no murderer, and the soldier with no bombs is no drooping morbid killer and no December mushroom has a chance to survive in the congealed resilience of snow… And a moan can piously sink, if anything, through haunted centuries. Whilst the swiveling fringes of the cellophaned salve of a fatuous groan will startle a staggering shudder out of the veins of a walker suddenly faced by the awaken bear… Ah, damp tropical breezes… The strange (and oddly apropos) nightmare still nonchalantly gnaws at the lasts of my clogs as I trudge along, loaded with the saved shit-dripping books of the my revered hoary thinkers… Without books we are but untaught beasts whose bestiality appalls the very essence of the trees… There, behind those coarse-barked boles, a shifting presence of a princes in veils, teasing, in flight… Or I’ll start (fate willing) something with her… Boy, the vaudevillian deviless, how she fixes me! Wait, lovely vision, wait! Damned books, how they encumber and hamper my progress! Still trees, my lone friends, I know I am the only one to witness this unique phenomenon: the gentle shedding, the slow descending of that last dead leaf… No, no! The phantasmagoric presence melting in the brumes… There is an ontological need for a crisp pronouncement that would now stop the ineluctable process of the precious vanishing… Ah, crazy cornucopia of perpetual predicament…! It is preposterously comic, horned deviless, now I’m about to get you, now you’ve gone miles afar, by my debilitated hand forever unreachable…

Coralline was startled when Nina popped in.

“Hey, Nina, what a fright!”

“Your stupid old fortune teller waking me up again…? Didn’t you hear the phone…?”

“The tap must have been running… Listen, Nina, I was thinking… As somebody not married can’t be made a cuckold of…”

“Yes. What?”

“Neither the unborn can bewitch you to follow them to the no-end well…”

“Is that another one of your dreams, ma’am…? I’m taking a shower now.”

Coralline had to shout now over the din and the steam of the falling water. “You know how I hate to pontificate and be cute… But the careful fall of that single leaf, as sternly witnessed solely by me, epitomizes the irrepeatability of anything. Time will not come back, nobody else will ever see us, united by those faintly screeching seconds, leaving on the always clean slate of eternity those receding but unmistakable marks of having actually skated together for an amiable while…”

“I don’t hear shit of what you say!”

Coralline stood silent. She thought how true it was that we only hear want we want to hear. One’s parents’ coitions are heard even with the loudest songs on, sound of musics of all sorts being always sunken by the sighs of clumsy caresses, the whines of closing passages being battered and rammed, the grunts of cold phlegms being circumnavigated round the creaking bed…

She had the willies all of a sudden. A shiver walked her spine. She willed herself to think of something else… Sex and murder, they gel. In those shitty circumstances, who could ever find the proper skein of lethargic mysteries her pain intrinsically needed to achieve at all any substantial soothing…?

Not even the useless chorus of notables… — those arbitrarily chosen philosophers of old to the rescue, now snot-gray and dripping with toilet matter, in a knot…, at a side, like spitballs, maggoty journalists all around in a pile, waiting forever, with their in-grown implanted mikes and cameras growing as the spikes of strange teratogenous little crushable beasts…

Not even them, the reasonable enough sages, managed to unfold any kind of sensible litany… They themselves were also too astounded... She was on fire, doomed, marked… On fire. For light or arson… For the best and the worse use... Ah, now! That cued for her the suddenly remembered exquisite compositions of old… Would she too, ever so calmly, now expect to see herself, or rather her swan neck go pose itself on the huge hand of the butcher, maybe sometime soon… It never is too late… Like this, my beauty, ever so slowly... With the assassination of Oswald king of the Northumbrians in yon dungeon dark, nabbed by the scruff of the neck and brought to a makeshift block…

“Hey!” Nina woke her up from the delightful reverie. “Breakfast in ten mins, is there consensus in the pews…?”

“I’ll be there, dummy, count me in. I’m starving and ready therefore to sing panegyrics to whatever gets cooked.”


5.


Coralline found at last the homo haunt of the day before. She entered the stinking dump. She sat and asked for tea.

She was sipping the scalding brew and dared put the question to the crumpled superannuated waiter. “Do you know if Willie the jackal is around…?”

“The slob usually comes in around eleven… If he’s not traveling for one of his jobs…”

After a while of waiting and a few more cups of tea, Coralline needed to piss. Monkey the waiter showed her the way to the pissing place. She found it pitch black and so hot that she was soon pouring with sweat. There was not a crack anywhere through which a chink of light could get in. She didn’t know where to piss. Soon she heard the nasal music of barrel organs, the sound of bells and cymbals; the wild party had again commenced… Willie the jackal must now be at the house. Somebody opened the door, the light poured in… Now she saw the hole on the floor where the juices were meant to flow… Willie’s silhouette appeared cut against the shimmering smoke… “And were you asking for me…?”

“First hold the door ajar, that I might see where the jet is due, ok…?”

No other preliminary courtesies, then. Now they were fast friends. She pissing and farting in front of him, he taking his dong out to do some of the same…

Back at the table they conversed unimpeded by the unalloyed racket; on the contrary, they found themselves rather helped by it, for their tête-à-tête bordered the conspiratorial. The flecked enamel of plates and mugs had no clout whatever to reflect their reddened resolute faces. Willie the jackal, who had always pretended that he rode everywhere and usually at a good clip, now was keeping straight and quiet, stiff as a rod. No sloppy commemorations of past glories, riding into semi-abandoned villages and sowing chaos pell-mell, storming a barn and holding court in the lousy apex of his exploits, making the farm drudges stagger up to him, the idol — the idol with his intercrural icon beckoning abreast, to be fondled and pawed and licked and adored by everyone, and mercy save whoever was stumped in his abilities to worship, for forthwith his head would be stamped on, for the Willie had a scimitar and, with a single flight of it, the neck of the offender would get neatly sliced, and everybody else among the gang would jump for joy and start a soccer match… Quaintly inspired, the two teams, in poised symphony, would shoot and score, and whoever had been nominated the prince (for Willie the jackal according to himself would always be declared the undisputed queen) would fetch his wherewithal with both hands and exploding the staggering expectations in the charged atmosphere would fling himself into the pitch, splendidly personified as the great redemptive remedy of an action all craved, ailingly, to a body — namely then, and plainly, what he did, he would hold his balls in a ball and with the teeth of the severed head he would castrate himself… However, it must be said that almost every time Willie explained those heroic deeds of his and his gang, many made fun of them… Often, especially when tipsy and with a handgun over the counter, though many struggled to cough some awkward spark of cynicism, nobody dared in the upshot do other than stir queasily and silently… The haggard hunch was that nothing short of terrifying was bound to ensue… The creep would surely shoot whoever doubted his malapropisms of a silly braggart…

Be it as it may, now he was sober and surreptitiously counting some advance money…

Coralline was saying: “Remember, roulotte number four. Enter unannounced. Get under the elephants, in between the studs, the props for the cages, where the big turds are gathered, the stink, only flies and bugs go and stay there… If you must ask, ask for Chuck the Chink — Twig Withy is only his nom-de-scene. Burst apart the flimsy door and bang with the bat his two legs, smash his knees to smithereens, and probably with that he’ll be finished showing off his freaking elasticity, which is such an irresistible sexual jailbait, I mean, attraction to both male and female… Go in and don’t look at him, he’d mesmerize you, you’d be a sucker the moment you saw him at his most seductive, he’d do some of his tricks and contortions, he can fashion himself in a jiffy into either an anal or vaginal dildo of throbbing flesh, be careful above all not to be enamored on the spot… And previously don’t attend to his act… Go and take a dump when he is in the central stage, in the middle of the arena, with all the spotlights caressing his suave shenanigans…”

Willie said: “Are you taking me for a sap…? I know how to take care of myself, worry you not a damned bit. The sneaky deed shall be sneakily done. Word of a jackal. He’s never been known to bungle a chore.”

She was faking a cold, she held a scented little silk handkerchief to her nose almost non-stop. She was paying for some pastis (Pernod, Ricard?) for she knew that the disgusting concoction tasted and smelled as mouthwash. With that she hoped to forestall some of the overpowering stench coming from the scatter-toothed mouth of the surely carrion-munching jackal.

“Well, what a scatterbrain that I am, my god, I had forgotten, I must be off!” Coralline leaped. “I must give our strategic studies the kiss of death for now. Call me once you are done; you well know the number, ha-ha.”

She was off, a little bit hobbled by a rebel heel who had splintered in her anxious adventure in the damp crapper. Piecemeal, her awkward steps resonated in the sour boardwalk following the river… She was thinking hard… In the meanwhile, unbeknownst to her, maybe due to the fact that perihelion currently occurs in early January, close to the winter solstice, her shadow hid and scampered, eloped with the shadow of a franticly movable tree, perhaps a discarded plastic Christmas one… Both shadows, in the shade of some clouds, could at last blessedly melt in delicious agony, they were having the sense rather of a Greek aorist, denoting that which once happened, and still continues to happen, pointing to a condition of feeling not limited to any time whatever…

She peered behind… Unquiet, as if assaulted by a sudden premonition of doom… Where was her fucking shadow…? No, no Sun. Had it set already…? Morose, she mistrusted even herself, her senses, her floating after-soul, her feminine intuition, all that…

Anyhow, that certainly was no time to joke… After such a momentous decision… Woodenly, she censured herself, jokes coming forth from recalled shows… Lousy, lame, keen-less… Some senile jests huskily knitted by creepy comedians — sick, poor, unbalanced… Drooled when nothing else comes to mind… Or is permitted by the turd-sucking censors…

I’ve drunk to much of that frog swill, she told herself. And sat on a bench above the river. Being and nothingness, that is the question. Hate to put a crimp on such a paltry single phenomenon, but what matters is the limitless tending upwards and onwards for all time towards our presents ideals fulfilled… Something like that… Screw the consequences…

The phone in her gabardine’s pocket rang. It was Chuckeline, her mother-in-law, well, the affable woman who used to be… She was phoning to ask if she could put her in. She was in town for a very grave matter. She had been here since the day before yesterday. Now she had quarreled again with her son. She felt much better with her ex-daughter-in-law.

Of course, Coralline said she (and probably was true) that she was delighted to have her at home. That she was going to call Nina about it. That she herself would be back shortly. That thank god she’d call. That she was always welcome, that she should come to her house first think. Skip visiting the bastard, he was such a pain in the ass…

She no longer felt winched and winded like a bloody loser jade… She with some elation peered high at the starry night, at which the shepherd’s heart does also take so much pleasure, indeed not, as the tyro might fancy, with any impure heart — imagining the houris and all the other extraterrestrial whores sown here and there in the coruscating planets — waiting to lasciviously dance just for him and his sheep makeshift lovers — all upright now in one common fate, saved (the sheep, for the sheep — unlike the wolves — somehow always get save, thanks to sacrifices and ceremonies and such balderdashes,) saved therefore the whole bunch, or how do you call it, the horde, the herd — but with a pure one (heart,) seeing himself and them tender lambs and lambettes as a bevy, a flock, a quacking fleet of angels aloft…

She called Nina now. Thank goodness she was in. “Listen, Chuckeline is coming… Make the spare room ready for her… Ah, she’s told you already…? She’s in better terms with us than with her rotten bastard of a son… Listen, I’ve met the palmist…, the sweaty palms mind-reader, the cookie of fortunes, whatever, the pestering silly old woman you were so jealous of…? She’s no old woman, she’s a stupid homo tough who the other day saw one of my cards in a flash and memorized the number… He says he translates the numbers into letters in lighting speed… Automatically… A warping of the mind due to his line of work… A professional distortion… A cop or something, a spy, looking for mysterious clues, and people trying to blow us up… To blow us up, to blast us to heavens… Naughty you are… He says our number spells GIRLIESCUM… I said: does it…? How nice…! He said: I choose always words with “dirty” meaning, if you know what I mean, like this they are much easier to imprint, nothing clicks into the brain so well… A stinking revolting putrefied bully… With sweaty palms, as I say, like shaking not a hand but a stagnant little pool of phlegm with five hideous lizards capering inside… I’m joking about him trying to pass for a magic palmist and having such noticeable palms…He says I only sweat and itch when relaxing out of the job (meaning he wasn’t pursuing me for no filthy blackmail — talking about filthy, you should’ve seen his nails!) He says, when on the job, trust me, I’m cool as a mackerel. I said: you too…?! He’s very stupid, he doesn’t get the joke. Anyway, he won’t annoy us anymore… Now he’s sure we are just a couple of dupe broads only intent on getting some tail and not on trying to undermine the principles of our hallowed democracy… Plus I gave him a check of $25 for the spies’ circle or their syndicate’s charity… I don’t know, but… Whoever cashes that check, he’s not coming back for more. Well, I guess in this hallowed democracy of ours we all have to go on buying little allotments of tranquility… By the way, I’m so late because a friend of a friend of a friend had her head under a steamroller… You bet she died… Chutney of brains and bones, seasoned with dogshit… Okay, we went to the undertaker and he’s is putting a fake head on the trunk, a wax affair, made-up with all the chichis, no qualms whatsoever, the bitch never looked so good before the steamroller rumpus, the steamroller bash, brain-bash… Ha-ha, yes… I love Chuckeline, she so gracious, and genial and amiable… Yeah, I think so too… Well, honey, see you in a few… Bye…”

Coralline drove to a mall. She needed the bathroom once more. She had to empty all the that frog-spit swallowed in the pigsty with the putrid jackal. She bought a book and went into the clean stalls. Quoting or quasi-quoting none too queasy now (au contraire) the equally hallowed Marx: After food, clothing, cover, and cunt…, a commode. A commode is the fifth commodity. As price opposes value, so the higher the price the lower the value (be it of something or of somebody,) and so the future of the West and the quality of commodes is interlocked. As the East gets more and more refined in its shitting practices so the value of dung itself devalues, and…, eh…, she was stumped, damn, always strictly limited and defined as to form and duration. In fine, the human condition was inescapable. Next she bought two little gifts, one for Nina and for Chuckeline. A darling little figurine of a gruesome monkey pushing and shoving some well-proportioned naked fountain nymphs for the senior woman, and a Japanese iron cudgel supposedly used in older folkloric times as an eminently reusable ass wipe for samurais. Indented or smoothly notched at every fraction of an inch, it was assured in the prospectus attached to it that it could even wipe away the tiniest of mustard seed, plus it had a set of cymbals at the bottom to indicate that the wiping had been successful. The wiper would shake it to show that the universal assumption of his skill was justified and the congregation rejoiced at such heroic and advanced achievements. Of course faqirs and other lowly castes had to be content using their fingers and washing them afterwards in the public well. Coralline for a harmless amusement made the cymbals clang, the dainty clangor brought her back, sweeping a the purview of few centuries which could be viewed as steeped and bathed in wells of essentials… One must always calculate from available precedents if willing to enter into the great ages of the so much pined-for gigantic conflicts nowadays…

The stupid cow-like cashier, a Negro fat woman, only answered: “Uh-huh…”

Uncommitted losers, she wasn’t going to cry for them when the cataclysms came.



6.


As she was driving herself home Coralline was thinking not about the charming notions of the last decaying egghead whose book she’d bought at the shopping center and later had been lightly scanning while comfortably sedent at the stall, sat or sitten on the clean commode — not therefore about how the massless Dirac fermions are pulled by magnetic fields in such a quaint manner that they gain a dynamic of their own, very much like precocious orphan bugs who, once embedded in some godforsaken rug, have to deal with the vicious raw material of the hither-and-thither crazily pulling-and-pushing rotten membranes of “what’s there,” each of them poor bugs singly at it, whether ready or not, gnawing and humping away, as if imbued with the undue burden of a raw impelling force on their own — the philosopher was picturing them in his mind, was going so far even as to transform into one of them tiny vulnerable bugs, outcast, ill-clad, uproariously grouchy and yet plenty plucky in the face of so much corrupted interlocking of so many piled-up adversities in a dizzying maelstrom of confluences of battling inimical territorialities, where shrugging guesses follow hints of confusion, and the gristles of the noses, and chewers and suckers and tendrils and tromps, and hoses and antennae and so on, get farther and farther afield, sniffing, exploring away, impelled by the hidden force of life, impaled by the kicks of blind, stupid, repetitive, mistake-prone, neither-rhyme-nor-reason, horror-tale, nowhere-bound evolution-driven eagerness, until, without warning or clue, here it is the ultimate blow, the hammer of death suddenly falling, all in the short instant of a bug’s existence… The tragic total sapping of so much vitality in the passing step of a half-drunken anguish-ridden broad going back to the console, not, mind you, to read about something enlightening as, say, a thick volume on Egyptology, where the first few chapters are conflated first in a single very palatable and easy to swallow paragraph, but to serve herself another shot…

No, Coralline was thinking about the loaded conundrum of the scorching wayfarer as a tottering old geezer… Thinking in a word about the gutsy fun woman who used to be her mother-in-law.

While at the helm of her smooth vehicle, Coralline was repeating formulae of gentile greetings: Charmed I’m sure… And: Hope you haven’t been sick… And: The family good…? And: The winter of the West, the victory of materialism and skepticism plainly suit you, and how becoming you those black rags with understated pearls on top… The convoluted way one uses when one talks even when trying to explain the easier of every day’s tasks... Telling her: Don’t mind me, I must be looking a wreck, such a terrible day, the shops a madness, the girls at the counters stupider than ever, I’m winded and winched like trumped-up jade… And: I was there when it happened, the cruel cops frisking the sluggish clown, who was nonetheless carelessly foisting grins on the scandalized audience, the cruel cops only pretending to frisk, in fact sticking him full of tiny poisoned daggers, conniving with the higher authorities to stamp all fun away, burning the circuses, sacrificing the strippers, prohibiting the smokes and the shots and the snorts…

“Hi, mama,” she greeted, kissing Chuckeline thrice on the cheeks.

Dear elder, juicy older lady, her eyes were wet with affability and judicious joy. They kissed next on the mouth. Nina was fetching a few extra aperitifs. She, Nina, was behaving a bit oddly, as if stuck-up, looking down on her betters. Did she know that not so long ago they (the two stylish mistresses) had even dallied together in a bit of harmless sex…?

Well, what can you do, affinities impose themselves, and the proximity of familiarity… They had hit it on… Once, the second year she had been married to her perjured son, the two of them, Chuckeline and Coralline, had taken a summer vacation together… And had Coralline learned, and has she been glad! And was her mother-in-law a vast source of good news! Many perks indeed were gained thanks to her seniority, both under the lofty sails of the cruiser and already in the island mountains. Chic hoary hairs open many otherwise obdurate doors — the guards thinking (if at all, bunch of stolid sticks-in-the-mud) that what the hell, that person shall anyway be presently, either straight away or in so short a duration that it doesn’t pay to interrupt one’s dumb somnolence. After all, is not like she (the bitchy crone) is going to enjoy for that long her privilege, her exception to the rules, her exclusive new knowledge, or whatever… While, in sparkling contrast, for a young comely person (like myself, thought Coralline,) due to what trick in the enduring transition from the general to the particular phase of evolution, being scapegoated, alas, is only the norm. The vain shareholders in your existential surrounding toss you out, revengefully, and you’re no longer CEO even of your own vital trajectory. You depend on so many malicious fags, the uniformed ones above all, such assholes, such pains in the neck. For us, the young and wonderful, all becomes so up-hilly and rocky and difficult…! Now irrupts cheatingly at play the universal animus against youth (especially as in my case when added to money and beauty,) boom, there it is, a dragon of hatred, raising its ugly pate, green monster, the envy, and then, of course, the suspicion that that marvelous person, already so blessed by the diverse deities, now will to top it all know too much — too much too soon from the obtuse arcana freighted maybe with radiant spills of meaning, and from the total hermetic machinery of power — and that’s unacceptable by all accounts to such a cowardly sold-out society — built exclusively on envy… For us so many doors stay closed, so many secrets undivulged, so many mysteries uncrackable… That’s where getting safely in tow behind, I mean after, the old distinguished woman, faintly, though securely and effortlessly, blazing a path of discovery, is so crucial! Excellent (and educational indeed) vacations all told, yes sir, not for this scrumptious time (not ever!) the millions of dreary hours spent in listlessly yawning, in depressing ennui, in suicidal immensity, in ponderous boredom, feeble caged moneys, psychotically itchy, full of tics…, depletedly, and suddenly rushingly, scratching your genitals…, obsessive, combing the short hairs ensconced in your nostrils…, clearing your throat of sticky undiggable phlegms…, slowly falling to pieces, and plunging into the well of despair, of spleen, of melancholy, of despondency, of etcetera, and etcetera and etcetera… All this family slow shit dripping morosely, such morbidity of thoughts, you are fed up with everything, but especially the idle fucking, and worse, the inane fucking around, and you want to kill them all, or end it all, and kill into the bargain (what a bargain indeed!) yourself, your fucking self too…

“How are things, mama! Coming back, I was recalling our mountain vacation. Such a delicious, divine little junket, no…?”

“Some people regarding whom you always more or less took for granted that they had kept the acquisition of a certain native intelligence, in a new light how they appear to really be peculiarly driveling dickheads, do they not, dear…?”

“Mama, I’m concerned, what is it…?”

“I’m here for Jippie. He’s having some bouts of dementia; I’m afraid the blasted disease will soon become irreversible unless we do something (and fast) about it. Would you believe that our doctor refuses to apportion Jippie with some so-called forbidden hard medicines…?”

“The bastard!”

“I’m told than in the dumps of the city specimens are available… With a bit of expense, of course, and after investing also in some resourceful research… Contraband stuff, illegal, and so on. Something very good, surely, or else why would they take so many pains to hide it from even us…?”

“Indeed! The criminal multinationals, the pharmaceutical compost piles, the sneaky politicians, I don’t doubt it for a sec. Poor Chuckeline, how right you are!”

“Anyway Jippie’s mind’s a mess. It never was anything much to speak of. But now, dear, deteriorating fast, his brain all blemishes, focuses, islets, lacunae a go-go. Gaga all the time, poor darling guy. I said, I must do…”

“Go-go, gaga, gummy, waiting for Godot… The guy gone in the noggin, his goosecap at loggerheads… Such talent, you shame us all. Ha-ha. Dear, you always had a way with words!”

“Pas vrai…? And wait for next livraison… Justement… Yesterday in the plane I was thinking, boy, wasn’t that Beckett off the mark!”

“Ha-ha, poor guy, why?”

“Wasn’t he who said there’s more pricks than kicks? Well, I had nothing better to do… The novel by that Frenchman too silly…”

“Which Frenchman…?”

“That faggot Céline…?”

“I love Céline!”

“Well, he has a woman’s name.”

“What’s wrong with that, so do we!”

“Not the same, you devil, you.”

“What about the Chinks, they all got idiotic pet’s names. Or like prick’s names, or like dildo’s… Dong, Chung, Fong, Gong-Gong…?”

“Exactly, that I was thinking… You pricks, always so male-centric! More pricks than kicks…? Give me a break, you must be daft! While there is only roughly half of the population with pricks, everyone kicks the bucket, therefore there is at all times not only more kicks than pricks but roughly the double!

“Double your pleasure, though, of course, he might have said the contrary…”

“Ah…?”

“I mean Beckett, gratuitous bastard, aren’t they all the same…?”

“Ah. Now you’ve set my brain a-dancing, naughty girl! Maybe he had it right… Maybe he said more kicks than pricks… I ought to spank you.”

“Please! Refais-le-me-le…!”

“Ill-starred maiden who kicks against the pricks!”

“You got that right, ha-ha!”

“Plus listen: And the sapiens hath said in his heart: There’s but meaning, the rest is past time…”

“There’s but meaning, the rest is past-time! How deep! Did you read it today?”

“Yeah, one of these days. I’m about halfway in the booklet by that faqir who comes down from that very high standpoint, where there is no longer a valid moral reason for condemning any practice, be it (the instance of intertwined happening) lost wherever, whether in the future or the present, or the pluperfect if you will…, and argues that in every case, when we are told about the suicides of the so-called past, none of them hold water, every case winched and tricked and a damned ascription, how you call it, an anaphylactic (for instead of helping and boosting the live intricate tissue suddenly proves toxic), and apocryphal, scriptoid added much later by the manipulators of time, which is non-existent by the way, for only space is extant, space as a smashed and slit bleak painting of a rough surface called inter-universe…”

“Wow! You’ve got to pass me along the how you call it, the reference…”

“But of course… But anyway, as photons have no mass but can still feel the gravitational pull of the Sun due to their dynamic mass, likewise the neurons… If…”

“Isn’t embarrassing to see the trite depressing melodrama of humanity…? The masses accepting with resignation the victory of blood and instinct (for true it is, isn’t it, that, as the guru explained, people don’t imagine life to be worth living without war,) while the illumined machinery studies stars in distant galaxies…? Who of both camps is in the wrong…? I was reading in a magazine just yesterday, I think, that a group of teamsters in a Detroit factory have taken but a bit of some new ultra-thin material called “graphene” — slivers of graphite, mind you, with the wideness of just an atom — and stretching it with tiny pliers and so on have been able as it were to paint a new universe… Meaning that in every atom a potential new universe lurks! The mind reels, doesn’t it? Inflexible jerks criticize personal foibles, but are the rotten at the core institutions which automatically select individuals who never gainsay the lies put forward by the same never analyzed institutions… All needs to be overhauled, and no less the same cosmos which we deludedly assume holds us, when it might well be, without being too skeptically solipsistic, that in each of us… But of course, you are right, Jippie’s case is even more outrageous…”

“Dear, and no shit. His mind not a pretty picture, the least one can say… Brooking no word of advice, waiting for no protestation that would inconvenience their self-appointed task, damned wrecking-balls of the edifices of the soul, the religiously afflicted cells proceed to scatter the leaves of the great book of Jippie’s mind, proceed to eliminate at random, with coarse doodles and oblique frantic lines, a big deal of the perfectly legitimate words they meet with as they fall raging down the rapids of their crazy spree… Only their mute hoarse sardonic laughter is able to catch up with this disastrous avalanche… The painting of the universe in Jippie’s mind now a bloody shambles, my pet…”

“You depict the symptoms with such poetry!”

“One must, or falls a-prey of despondency and madness. Bemoaning fate’s military-like treacheries serves no purpose. Protecting the synapses, make the dendrites more able to withstand insults, that’s the only ticket to fleeting salvation, my friend…, an elusive, illusory respite, what else can we hope for…?

While Chuckeline rhapsodized, Coralline thought in passing about Jippie, Chuckeline’s non-entity of a husband, a humble, rich, wriggly, drool-y sort of guy, putative father of the retarded bastard I married — well, all things considered, maybe not so putative after all… Both of them reticent pansies, and with a brain to match, full of fuming stercoraceous holes…

Sternly, her ex-mother-in-law cited from Horace or from somebody about supposing the shame she must endure among the rather worthless bunch of ignoramuses who must be holding the prohibited nostrums, energumens with no counsel worth its salt, scum-headed fellows who once they took her gold coins and slunk away, much as cursed replete bleeding hyenas would do, down to their pretentious hut or hole in the mud, Jippie’s medicine safely in her hands, they next would blow all the hard-earned moneys in cheap no-account whores no doubt, and whiskies and whatnot, golf-clubs, fur stoles, mono-place airplanes, leisure submarines, impertinent appurtenances the miserable never knew how to handle properly, soberly enough, and never (no, god forbid) in the service of humanity, now possibly afflicted with a new brain-liquefying pandemic of intergalactic proportions or so…

As for Jippie’s plight, who knew; not that the deterioration was too noticeable, as she had already said, but funerals and inheritances and additional taxes cost lots of money. That’s why.

“Anyhow, honeydew, I wisely consulted with a consummated sage and he recommends those pills… Those pills, willy-nilly, fall-who-may… Extract of abyssal fish electricity…, mixed with so-called abusive substances…, and the hell if I remember what else… He wrote it down here in this chit… Capitis dolorem remediat torpedo nigra viva inposita eo loco… Ache of head is remedied by the black abyssal fish when alive is posited upon the freaking place… Numbness ensues which purports indubitable healing…”

“Listen, mama love, a shifty acquaintance of mine, a worthless thug, also a fairy, he’s at my service, for little silly peccadilloes like that…”

“Oh really…? If you could make him…?”

“I’ll call on him tomorrow, think of it as done.”

“Poor Jippie! He was always so fond of you. He’d worry that little crooked worm between his legs to death, for days on end, swimming in piles and piles of your dirty underwear, that he would filch from the hamper…”

“Devil Jippie, shitty guy…”

“And now with his awkward malady; unpresentable, you know…?”

“I do; he was always so scarecrow-y, always unseasonable, fashion-wise, you might say…, but now, I imagine, it’s got to be much worse…”

“Dear, if you only knew! A prairie-wide spate of prominent outright inconveniencies… A rapidly shrinking brain, a diabolic mechanism by which brain cells are damaged, inflammation occurs, nerve impulses that are passed between cells during routine activities like learning and memory become totally toxic, a chronic neuro-degenerative disease that, instead of triggering the formation of memories, triggers fickle impulses that inflict irreparable injury on neurons and disrupts the neurologic and cardiovascular functions. Those hazardous cells, as the bigoted rider that rides down-hill straight to his grave, have an incredible arrogance, their misanthropic hubris grows every hour at least a few audible notches, too confident in their victory when the all-out attack on neurological functions has been splittingly sounded. Understanding this mechanism, my sage proposes in consequence a strategy of chemical preconditioning in order to induce adaptations in nerve cells that would perhaps enable the cells to better withstand toxic attacks and thus prevent injury and insult. I said: Quite, I get you, preconditioning allows the nervous system to experience stress and this experience make it more resistant to future encounters with stress and the damage it can trigger… He said: Take that nasty villain, glutamate, an amino acid that normally acts as a neurotransmitter… I said: Isn’t that what the Chinks put in their disgusting concoctions…? No wonder they all appear to be so brainless…”

“And boneless, you might have added… Except that all of them are each a single ambulant dick… They look like dicks, they act like dicks…”

“Quite. But anyway glutamate overly excites the hapless neurons, those neurons that were more happy enjoying their rest, unawares, hanging ten for a min, causing damage and death wholesale among them, a process yclept excito-toxicity. Then the crooked branches of neurons that carry impulses toward the body of the nerve cell, the dendrites, and the places where impulses pass from neuron to neuron, the synapses, say, altogether now, what the hell is happening here, are we deranged, ma’am…? This they curiously inquire, heaving with the pangs and rattles of agony, and the diseased Jippie, or whoever the cripple be, who is attained with that sanctimonious plague, mad as a hatter, in his enraged head, he shouts all sort of dirty foreign words; you have to put him in isolation, into a cork-walled and mattress-walled room, until death doth make him freaking pipe down…”

“Though how humane and considerate the touch of the many mattresses, indeed.”

“It seems that in lab studies brain cells are bombarded, wait a minute, with diazoxide and memantine, drugs used in ischemic heart disease, and in strokes, and blockers of glutamate receptors to boot… I hope I have the notes well arranged; however, all those concepts of sneak blitzy attack to the exposed vulnerable little silly body, how dreary and horrible, don’t you think…? Furthermore, as the sages say, lab studies show also that elevated levels of PAF promote beading on dendrites and wound, as with tiny Injun’s arrows, the synapses, this after a series of bursts of synaptic activity similar to those that appear involved in learning and memory… I tell you, you tell me, how bitchy can nature get! Jippie’s thing characterizes itself especially by swelling and beading and loss of the spines of the dendrites… The brain shrinks awfully, I’ve already said that, and that malignant fellow PAF, platelet-activating factor, which is a compound that promotes inflammation and plays the role of the ubiquitous clown in the brain, can be produced by neurons and takes part in the workings and other shenanigans of synapses… Immune cells gone bonkers, producing it during the unmanageable mirroring inflammations… If you happen to have it in the industrial magnitudes that Jippie carries it, them, him, hers, whatever…, the point is: that zero learning ensues, and zero remembering also…”

“Everything’s so awful, darling.”

“Bummer, you know; what else can you say…?”

“Damn, tell me about it… And my head’s aching also… Listen, to change the subject…; since coming home and recalling the famous nights at the island mountains… I’m a bit frisky…? It’s a long trip from the shopping center, know what I mean…? Again in my mind the travelogue of dreams, of polished bronze dreams… Feelers of pleasure, buzzing, twinkling, with such vigor and stamina… Up! Brazen bronze feelers of pleasure, up, up, up! Shiny feathers of her snatch, preened, tongue-preened…! That I’m telling myself, darling, aloft, while driving, driveling almost, in a cloud, enmeshed in vapors of lewdness, and, dear mama love, who, but who, such a long trip, the thighs so tight, who, the juices flowing, the brain showing again the dreamy picture, the nose, who, the nose smelling the salty sourly…, the buds tasting…, yeah, who could resist it…?”

They embraced, so captivatingly…

And now Nina also came. A threesome…

And now Nina also came… And now Nina also…



7.


The bell at the door rang. “You-whooo…! Maximine am apparat…!” Maximine yelled from the landing behind door.

Nina went to open. For once she was beaming. She was also a bit tipsy. Today there was a party, a farewell party for Chuckeline, a farewell, and also a till we meet again, soon, we hope, party, as Coralline had put it. Champagne was flowing.

These last three weeks had been, as they say, momentous…? In Chuckeline’s pocket there was at least a year’s allowance of the magic electrical pills…

Chuck the Contortionist Chink had been maimed for good…

Regarding this last item, Maximine, upon being appraised of it, had suspected something…, “something fishy,” she said, but she was given to peruse a little notice in a blog assumingly kept by a circus employee… An elephant, a she-elephant in musth, had crushed Twig Withy’s legs, and not by any means, no way, by any sort of dirty trick had the accidental crushing take place, no, sir… And next the issue became wrinkles and dry skin, and itchy peelings in the inner linings of the orifices, and not due against undue, or ethical arguments for imperative analysis against laissez-faire justice for the leisured classes, or formulaic trial and harsh process against sundry dastardly misdeeds…

Now everyone more or less found herself willing hostage to the intoxicating fumes of good wine and good pot. Halting on many tongues the words of great fashion-makers, plus here and there, scattered for balance and façade-building and good taste, also the name of a striking philosopher or two had to pop. If the construction of the last sentence jars somewhat, if it sounds a bit Germanic, maybe it has to be with Coralline’s readings of late. Spengler, Nietzsche, Fichte, Brahms, Listz, Arcimboldo, or whoever the Kant…

She just crushed a numb winter fly with her hand. “Ach, es klebt Blut an meinen Händen…,” she said. Nina, her vacant air of the unversed blonde melted away, her doll’s face now tinkling and sparkling, mirroring perhaps her soul’s innate bend for rioting now reawakened, or let’s say her inborn genius for partying, hmm, reignited…, laughed her head off. “Is that French…? All the French are faggots,” she said.

Nobody objected to the blanket indictment. Whether the reason for the lack of any challenge to the statement was that all of them agreed to it or not, who knows. Consciences were abdicating their right to moderate. Every silly phrase could be construed as something else. We, that is, they were overwhelmed by a tremendous feeling of exultation. There were tacked up on one of the walls a few very distressing photos of elderly people and housewives and babies, who, after they had been fired upon by our heroic unimpeachable troops with a few rounds of white phosphorous shells, were rotting in situ. A murderous substance built in principle to burn through metal bunkers, now had been hurled at them and had melted their skin and flesh in a tick. A screen of fire that couldn’t be extinguished with water had enveloped them all of a sudden…

“Wünsche und Hoffnungen können durch aussen kommende brutale Geschehen plötzlich vernichtet werden… Man, and how true!” Had commented Coralline.

And now Maximine was talking about the igniis fatuous ensconced in the fabric of the soul of even the most slavishly submissive and least arrogant of god’s children.

A very young girl, a neighbor, a close friend of Nina’s, talked about her dream. “Strangely out of date,” Chuckeline said, “More likely to have been dreamed by somebody my age…”

“Maybe archetypal, then,” the giggly girl said.

A tenuous blanket of deadly radioactivity was hovering above every surface of the globe, the sphere, the planet indeed… Planet, shrouded traveler of the desolate asphyxiated firmament, as the grim sickle-carrier, spitting bezoars of hatred, tawdry sorcerer, surveyed the utter destruction, everything poisoned, barren, trodden down by the exterminating pall, wretched, heinous, every ex-organism nothing but a discarnate flaw on the sorrowful ruins… A hobbled planet indeed, enveloped in a dull fine kill-all matte shroud of lethal dust…

Nobody gave a damn whether the deadly pall now inerasably lurking above the doomed Earth, instead of the lively and lovely polychrome atmosphere of yesteryear, should’ve been really gray, rather than purple or maybe greenish… No, too late. Past time to talk of fashion and color tones… Too drunk everyone.

An immense sense of euphoria suffusing the sisterhood… “I’m gradually leaking away,” Nina said, for after laughing so hard for so long she at last noticed that, by tiny bouts, she had been pissing herself over and through. She put the bottle back on the shelf and went to fetch a towel, or perhaps she went to change her underwear…?

The pretty neighbor, who worked in the city’s tax office, said she had never had so much fun in her life. That sisterhood is life. That men are lice, lying lice, of course. “Steer a careful course clear between the realms of lice and the realms of fleas. Women are much cleaner,” she concluded.

She, her name was Naveline, was almost 21. A circumspect wisp of a girl, she nonetheless packed a wallop. Her breakfasts were gargantuan, full of fortifiers, and vitamins, and special muscling chocolates. “Those pesky teasers, the Aztecs,” she said, “reserved the whole crop just for the warriors…”

“Warriors, eh? It must have been the heroin of yore,” commented Maximine.

Naveline added: “A handful of cacao beans could buy you the services of a courtesan, or of eleven skunky whores, your choice…”

Most of the party laughed at the quip. The bacchantes were all at the edge of inner collapse. They were recruits for the next battle of the naked ladies. Everybody was starting to shove and elbow everybody else…

Feeling randy, Naveline corralled Coralline and tried to woo her, “What about those terrifying photos? The pathos, not true? It eats at the fabric.”

“Huh…?” Said Coralline, perhaps too far gone. “Ah, sorry, for a moment I thought you meant that he, the Greek fellow, was taking a sandwich to the factory, and then I though he? whom? which Greek worker? and which factory?”

Naveline groaned. “Beware a woman scorned, and cave canem also,” she hissed, feeling as holy and justified for mayhem as another selfsame warrior.

Satanic Coralline ignored her. She went to another cluster of chicks talking animatedly about Duchamp’s Goss Selavie, a woman of weight and circumstance — a bit bitchy, but how can you command any respect without bitchiness, I ask you…?

In a strangely strangled voice the elder of the party, the honored granddame, nonchalantly tossed apart all those cluster bombs and Molotov cocktails, and viciously attacked…

“That faggot, Voltaire!”

“I love Voltaire,” jumped again Coralline.

“Well, he’s flaunting a highfalutin’ chick’s name also, doesn’t he?”

“Is it…?”

“What…?”

“A female’s name, Voltaire.” And without giving Chuckeline space for a retort, Coralline continued, apparently in high dudgeon, or at least peeved: “If your son wouldn’t have been a faggot himself, maybe I would have a precious daughter by now. I would’ve called her Voltaire…” She said, and added, as an afterthought: “And her sister Céline.”

“Well, bully for you!” Spat the stately matron.

“Are you two crossed…?” Asked, a bit concerned, Maximine.

Nina intervened, dismissing the spat. “Lovers’ spat,” in a mellow voice she dreamily recited… “I’m lost in a reverie of harmonious womankind sailing in the vaginal interstices of the music of the spheres up above among the milky tit galaxies,” she certified.

“He’s adopted,” Dropped the elder statewoman, deadly grave, as somebody who, not drunk this time, drops a bomb.

“Who, Molière…? I mean Voltaire…?” Coralline was ready to jest.

“Dick,” answered the beautiful dowager queen.

It was a shock. Unbelievable. Coralline sputtered: “Dick’s adopted…? Your son…? But he looks so much as Jippie the wreck, I mean, sorry, his father…”

“The guy’s so mean! Now it stands to reason. Coming from a background of degenerates…” Manifested, somehow highly vindicated, Maximine.

But Chuckeline said, and somewhat solemn too: “He’s adopted. An uncle of him had him, or rather a courtesan he knew, the uncle, Jaffie…?”

“Jaffie the uncle is the dad…?”

“Yep.”

“Is he also rich…?”

“Nope, not any more. Spent it all on whores, then he died.”

“Another hero gone to greener pastures…” Epitaphed Coralline.

“Viridis is the name…” Stepped in Maximine.

A bit shrill Nina inquired: “The name of what…?”

“The name for green, meaning also strong, vigorous, full of stamina and possibilities, all fresh.”

“And very fresh he was with the ladies, too.”

“In fine, the fresh to the fresh…” Re-epitaphed Coralline.

Finished Chuckeline: “…pastures.” Then added: “And how appropriate too. He had a yen for fritillaries, and guinea-hen flowers, adobe-lilies, crown-imperials… The lot of the fritillaria family… Alas, his only humanizing trait.”

“Well, if we ever visit his grave, we know what to put on it.”

“A period, if it has snowed,” quipped, classically, Maximine.

The general laugh was curtailed by Chuckeline’s continuation on the same theme, a slight variation perhaps: “The day I came to the city for Jippie’s pills I told Dick. He’s old enough to know.”

“In his bloody forties,” bitterly interjected Coralline.

“He went bananas, he protested his raped innocence. I said, you are too old to be raped. He said he had always felt unloved. He said, and yet now I still feel more unloved. He said, I’m going to commit suicide. He started crying… I told him, spare me the touchy shit… He heard the word shit and became scandalized. I said: I said spare me the touchy shit, hypocritical bourgeois old fascistic lady…! People like you make me sick! Always bringing down the world to the level of beasts! He childishly banged his head on the wall, said he would retire forever into some dismal crypt to live with corpses… I said creep is the word all right… He went for a broom… Shitty boy… I hoofed it out of there faster than if I had a sniper at my tail…”

“But… But what about Jippie…? Didn’t the two of you… Couldn’t you two… I’m at a loss…” Coralline stuttered, “is he impotent…?”

“Don’t think so, he loves all kinds of animals…”

“Gross!” Shouted Nina. Maximine remarked: “Here come again the green pastures.”

Said Chuckeline: “Never had sex with him.”

“Grosser!”

“Miracles were needed to bring me to submit to the flingy hangy stringy thingy of his…”

“Grossest!”

“A piggie’s…”

“Eeek!”

“…and grunting after the fragrant flavorsome truffle of my cunt…”

“Weee…!” We all, that is, they all exulted.

“…if ever he touched me, the stark fabric of my soul felt torn apart by two contradictory instincts, the instinct to flee, the instinct to kill him.”

“So dramatic!” Said Nina.

“Well, dear, everybody goes through the same quandary…” Mollified Coralline.

Plus, more words of consolation poured from the two others… The four of them felt bolstered by each other’s company. Plenty of kisses and hugs were exchanged.

True, today’s the day Chuckeline goes back to the sticks… She is due to board the plane at a tick or two before midnight and skedaddle among the clouds back to the prairie… She has to nurse the wretched idiot Jippie — she’ll do it at arm’s length, surely, and through the mediation of the help. She has to tend (much more a-near and lovingly this time) her spate of lively manly horses… Duty calls, it can’t be antedated, you know.

La fidélité au devoir… (how goes the faggoty ditty…?) …est fatale comme l’orgueil de la menstruation est fatale a la fidélité…? How does it go…? Hanged as a hangnail (the horror!) now if we know.

It was only quarter to nine.



8.


As Coralline was rhapsodizing that thank goodness during these three or four weeks they had enough span of space to flourish, and that the sweet memories would linger forever, Ralph, Naveline’s daddy, rang at the door. He had been hired, or rather commissioned, to taxi Chuckeline to the airport.

Coralline kissed Chuckeline good by, so did Nina and Maximine, and so did a few of the others, actually the whole of them did, yeah, the whole shebang, after the she-bang fest, get it?

Truth is nobody wants to say good-by to such a dear close friend, nobody wants to cry (and it makes you so ugly and splotchy, and under those harsh wobbly droning lights, goodness!) nobody want to bawl her head off at sentimental farewells among uncouth critters in such awkward-looking (it is rather more like a butcher-shop) locale as an airport, plus of course nobody wants to drive drunk.

Though cartoonish in his appearance, Ralph is not fictional. Yesterday after he got home Coralline had called. He had always been a flaccid though inquisitive boy. Mamas’ tummies always had interested him. His yellow hairless oily skin that enveloped so much surplus fat made him slightly repellent to all and sundry. And his minuscule shaftlet had not shivered at the gentle strokes of anybody’s puffy hands but his own. The scant blood-stained product of each of his millions of orgasms had onanistically fallen on his lap. Warm spurts, a cushiony butt, hugging some cloth… Trying maybe as a game to manage for once to spray his nipples with his spawn, his seed, but not, his brittle jism never raising to the occasion. Oh, well, rinse yourself off and back to the stalls, straddle the benches, take big volumes of law lore, memorize the cases one by one, link them with the linking sparkling cells in the file and fliers containers of the brain, row after row, and don’t worry if your step-daughter sees you naked and laughs. Or your wife transforming the bedroom not in a nook for pleasure but in a photo lab, there in the red light, a shade, a specter, sinister, and yet so unattainably sexy, passing soapy slides in unison, thousands of them, before you fall asleep, and your dreams hook onto the same phantasmagoria.

“Honey, I’m overflowing with spunk…”

Swallow up the licks of life, and swim through its bumps, what else, never strutting, what for, but never guilt-ridden neither, lopping off the excess bunk, dumping the mean and the meaningless, ignoring each complication of life, like with Occam’s scissors, or razor, fuck politics, compromises, credos, charities, never pay attention to the babbling of the needy shitty liars on top, businessmen of death. Instead keep your quizzical eyes, enamored, enamoring, fixed on the gorgeous gals (their wobbly globes, juicy crannies, their fleshy baits, your firmament) everywhere, at the office, on the screens, and the photos, and the internet and the magazines, and behind the curtains of the neighbors’ windows.

Nothing hurts…, with the prosaic exception, broadly speaking, of your common diabetic ills. We’ll be moving soon to the inserting of tubes and machinery, and to surgery to feet and whatnot. But no, no spiritual aches to speak off. He composes poetry to his butch of a wife with lines full of legal lingo.

Knocks me out of my jockeys, is pleading for the payees, as I come and come a-knocking, and nobody heeds my poking.

Being so fond of fondling, the wall with my back to, tears of ex post facto, flow over the requisites. Ah, languors exquisite, as my cervix whimpers, and to kneeling it me leads, as I squeeze the roll of morn, before the steaming of the milks.

And the coffee’s on the custody, of the court of my hands, that from the breakfast table, would fain jump avaunt, as the rhythm gets outrageous, outrageously arch for my age, the rhythm of my heart for thee, but who’s so mean and abusive, wants to adduce res ipsa loquitur for the accident of my (awkward too) silly demise unobtrusive…? Not me!

Well, here he is now, in this odorous nest of female debauchery. And it smells cunt, the atmosphere thick with the tasty smell of cunt, cunt all over, spread thick, like levels and slices of paradise, whoo-ee, so heavenly delicious. Ah, what wouldn’t he had given to be invited in like Naveline. He the meticulous petty-foggerish bacchanal’s inspector — let’s line them up, gallery of rogues, in the buff — inspector closely peering at the heavy-scented gallery of rogues’s rugs… He’s been behind the entrance door trying to spy, trying to eavesdrop… Hey, picking up scents, shouts, moans, words… And if he had his druthers, maybe he’d also do more, even, maybe, yes, shag a few of those delightful dykes, maybe not for starters the too hoggy ones, but a gig or two with the more svelte and stylish why not, why not indeed, god, why not, yes, Coralline herself, wow. I’m in slavering idiot love for her all told.

“What?” he said.

“I said thanks for the favor,” Coralline repeated, and perhaps, or surely, she was too smashed to notice how gassy Ralph’s bulbous hands trembled. “Anyway, here’s my dear mama, take good care of her. You can pick back Naveline when you return. She’s already fallen asleep on the couch.”

But Ralph was very stubborn here. He had to take the girl with him for the ride. She hoisted the wispy girl on his arms, and staggering down the stair they went.

Once inside the car, already on the streets before hitting the road, and with Naveline unfortunately snoring at the back, and Ralph frowning a little, a little disconcerted by the turn of events, Chuckeline, only for politeness sake inquired: “Where are you from? Ralph is it…? You are so greenish and plump and glabrous… Are you sick? Are you a Chinese…?

“Oh, Chinese, oh, but only partly. Totally diabetic also, if you’d care to consider the condition in an ethnic way. Ah, and partly Catalonian also, am I…?”

“Catalonian? What are those?”

“Well, these are people, for starters; not a sickness or the name of any kind of sausage, not even a cake, as the Danish are… Ha-ha,” he poorly joked. As Chuckeline failed to say nothing, he proceeded: “And they are supposed to be very good drivers, also,” he again joked.

“I thought they were already extinguished, like the dinosaurs, exterminated, annihilated, like vermin… In any case, they are so damned obscure, they don’t appear even to have a bad nickname, a tag… How do you call it, a racial blur of a slur, so-called, to distinguish them from the rest of them spooks…”

Good natured Ralph agreed to the whole manifesto, with a few, ah, preclusions, let’s say, though, with only with a tiny wiggle of modifiers…. “You are right, no specific soubriquet, we got none, alas, directly targeted at us — and how we miss it — what wouldn’t one give to have one, established and thriving, signal sign that you’ve arrived, stuck into the conscience of the commonality — one of them endearing epithets — the kikes, the guineas, the wogs…, they don’t know how lucky they are, the ofays even — all those howls of recognizance, called sometimes, or taken to be often, for somewhat offensive by groups of idiots, and propagandists and people of little lights (not of literary, but of litter instruction, ha-ha.) Or maybe it is because you can only say good about us; by the way, Voltaire himself…”

“You too read Voltaire…? A foreigner? A fellow who drives people around…? And by the way where are you taking that poor clueless doll…? If you don’t find me too rude for asking.”

“You bet. Not at all. She’s my daughter. I’m one of Coralline’s neighbors…? I thought they told you at the party.”

“Well, if they did, I don’t always listen, damned beaky parrots.”

“And then of course I’m a lawyer. For the city department of taxes? And indeed not a foreigner. Never. At least fifth generation American, ok? From any side you care to gauge. Neither a taxi driver, it goes without saying. Coralline asked me to drive you to the airport. She wouldn’t trust a foreign for such a hazardous trip. All those greasy spics…”

“I hate spics.”

“Dear, who doesn’t.”

“Dirty bastards.”

“And anyway… Hmm, if you’d pardon me, how to put it…? I wanted to talk with you, such an example of successful accomplished womanhood… Hem-hem, such a well-sat woman, so well-sat in the head, I mean, and with Naveline here present, as I say, you being such a happily married lady and all… Of course unless you object, er…, does the point raise ethical questions…?”

“Which point…? It’s just that I’m fagged out.”

“Hem…, no doubt. And me the more envious for it.”

“What…?”

Does the old girl see him as a hideous object to be stashed out of the way? It has all the looks to it of being so. This uncomfortable feeling was irking the ugly guy…

“Well, and then… With Naveline having such a reverend respect for you, and then how heroic you were, are…, how you came to the polluted city from the clean and atmospheric stinks, I mean sticks, just to get some cure-all pills for you ailing husband. Permit me to talk a bit loud, maybe like this we’ll impress some of the wisdom into the dormant maiden…“

And here Ralph became loud indeed, stentorian even. “So, that was my question, wouldn’t you recommend also a bit of experimentation for any self-respecting woman — she’s almost 21, Naveline! — and she’s girl-girl bound, so female-oriented, never seen her with a guy, a fellow with a ready cuck to wiggle, eh? — and without men, don’t you agree, dear wisdom-loaded elder signora, well, the world is hardly complete, is it…? And what a dearth of experience if you ever do entirely without!”

He stopped as he glanced at the grimacing old woman, who had stoppered her left ear with both of her gloves.

“Sorry…” Said Ralph, meek as an overfed dog. He continued after ten minutes, in a very soft catty voice. “Glad I volunteered, anyway. The incommensurable pleasure of such delightful company. My intention at the background being not only to ask you about life, you such a respected role-model, for her benefit, but also for the contact it affords. Our proximity building self-confidence and muscling up the soul… Only your scent reviving and propping up my most intimate integuments… I’ve admired you always so deeply…”

“All this sounds so creepy!”

“Sorry again.”

In her unquiet sleep the girl wails, then giggles, lifts up, looks at them with blind wide open eyes. She smiles without seeing. Then collapses in a knot of loopy extremities. Except that she apparently likes it. She’s laid herself down in a better, more curled up position. She mumbles, she groans with pleasure.

“…who wouldn’t admire such a plucky and beautiful lady? Heroic, in a word, all told, heroic. Epical. This perilous crisscrossing across town, wallowing in the blood of so many thousand pussy punks. What is there no to admire? The ethical undertow of it all, the saving of the ailing husband…”

“Cut the crap, please.”

“Sorry, but don’t you agree, with respect to Naveline? After all, most moneys are in the pockets of men. If she doesn’t marry, what’s her life… A worse poverty…? I know you can marry poor, but she’s got excellent brains. She can marry rich, or moderately so, I’m sure…” A pause. No reply. “I always try to coach her. Women, even when not blonde, have to have a repertory of moues, a moue for every occasion, I was going to say… If you’ll pardon the slight rudeness… For every cock-asion, but I don’t want a be racist, ha-ha. Or genderist…, gender-inimical. There is… There is this adage of the Sybille… She always says it… The Sybille, she’s so down-to-earth, so eh…, Eve-like, practical, let’s munch the apple, let’s gnaw the bloody rib off, and we’ll see, you know…?”

“Sybille. Is that the oracle, the sibyl that declares that nobody escapes her fate…?”

“No, gracious, no. Sybille, my wife, she says that a woman’s bodily constitution destines her to passivity and…”

“It’s the fucking same thing.”

“Right you are. Well, what do you know. The name predetermining your character again, eh…? Ralph… What does it say? A dog’s name, lapping it up. But the Sybille, my wife, well, she with her interminable photographing of people’s faces, she claims she’s come to know all characters through physiognomies… Seriously, she contends she’s serious… Now and then the real faces surfacing, you know. People’s souls coming up in the negative and the print, huh…? For instance (I hope you don’t offend easy,) when she photographs churches’ groups…”

“Church-goers. So mean. They give me the willies.”

“Well then! Plenty of Satan-seeing eyes there, plenty of red flaming eyes, if you know what I mean. So the Sybille says also. Churches always being where the nastier people congregate, those that push the killers to wars of greed and conquest, and cram the killers into the police stations, and the state attorneys’ and the public prosecutors’ and state executioners’ offices…”

“Tax departments.”

“Of course, without taxes you wouldn’t have fine roads. You wouldn’t have fine national parks. All those prairies where the wild horses roam… But, the Sybille, lovely woman, she has a photographic concession at the mall, a little tiny stall, she hustles up and down the aisles, sometimes she nails a commission to go elsewhere, churches, schools, end of season matches… Business not so good now with all those digital cameras, but anyway…”

Now they were immersed in darkness, cruising steadily along the solitary long straight road. Ralph coughed. Stuttered. “I hope… I hope you don’t find me too much of a scheming bastard. Trying to put over this… As… Eh… Sneaky… Pretending it to a neighborly benevolent favor, when in reality it was all done in order to extract wisdom and counsel from such an eminent personage, for the benefit of my tyro daughter…”

“Oh, skip it, no sweat.”

“Do you love dance…?”

“What…?”

“I mean ballet. Talking about cakes. What about that choreographer David Parsons…?”

“I love him! I didn’t know you were a ballet buff.”

“A buff alright. Mummy, and their buffs!”

“What?”

“I’m a sucker for ballet — love the women, love the men. Firm abs, firm glutes, and the thighs…! A dream.”

“Which ballet have you been to lately…”

“I love opera too…”

“Did you see that thing they did with Le Corsaire…? I’m glad we have this thing in common…”

“We have also our love for philosophers, remember.”

“Me, philosophers, no. Voltaire as a litterateur…”

“So I heard you.” Of course he had not so much heard as eavesdropped it.

“On the hand Coralline…, she’s very philosophical these days.”

“Ah, yes, your stepdaughter.”

“She’s not my stepdaughter.”

“Naveline is mine.” How quaint to put it like that, witty Ralph. “We talked the other day about Marcion with the double god, and about Morpion and his theory of parasitism of the soul by angels so tiny no cat-scan could detect, and about Meinong, ah Meinong! Said Coralline, I love him, for he demonstrates that to exist is not enough, that you’ve also got to be, and that you can be without existing and contrariwise, quod erat demonstrandum.”

“Yeah, quite.”

“What a pity. Such a high-octane conversation between two highly graded individuals. And the daughter too tight.” Quaint indeed. “Silly girl asleep the whole of the trip, too inebriated… So much she could have learned! Could have taken critical advantage from the serious conversation between this two too reasonable adults… Like all these arguments I had in my head, ready to shoot. Sperm of wisdom all over. Like the indubitable theme that abortion frees the body, no more drudgery, no more slavery, the woman no longer a prisoner, gone the days one had to put up with the unwanted tumor of a pregnancy… Like a malignant stupid turd gone askew, and which destroys you life… Instead, now, with all those modern freedoms, why wouldn’t then she risk a little bit of trying also a cuck, I mean a cock or two…? Where’s the harm…?”

“Where indeed. Coralline married my son Dick and now she knows what is like and what does she prefer, whether she wants to go that way or that…”

“And though for the moment she’s chosen the way not of the cucky or cocky flesh but of the sisterly cozy fold engulfing the flavors, not so much the sausage as the omelets, the convex as the concave…”

“No, but wait, I was thinking, in a philosophical way also, that… If it is true, as yourself and the bulk of the hoary philosophers claim, experience breeds reason, it stands to it, that the trick is to outlive them all and thus become wiser and wiser — wiser than them too… Wise than the oldest of them…”

“Exactly, that’s what’s to be aimed for in life. Outliving the wisest. Damn, ma’am! How limber in your neuronizing, you could’ve been a perfect, and perfectly tough, tough heavy-case trial lawyer, or even, also, a surrogate judge in billionaires’ inheritance cunundra. Such finesse!”

“Oh, come on, you make to much of it, quit the brownnosing.”

“I wished!”

“What…?”

“Nothing… Er… I would have liked it so much if you could have talked to Naveline woman to woman. Her mother is a horse, if you’ll pardon me. She knows nothing about femininity. The reverse of you, such a model, you could be modeling also in the long walks of fashion, so famously well-built… You must know a lot about seduction, and about the bodily functions… It always moved me very much, er…, les irrégularités de la menstruation des jeunes filles… If you know what I mean. What a wasted opportunity for everybody involved in the case!”

“Which case?”

“Sorry, professional turpitude…” Ralph, he was a bit at a loss. His car also was a bit doubtful on the smooth black pavement. It kept wavering. Faintly shimmering like a specter lost in the dense darkness. “It occurred to me, sorry to change the subject. We are happy people, especially the men, all cuckolds.”

“Who…?”

“The Catalonians.”

“Ah… All the Catalonians cuckolds, eh…? Ah! But do you know Old Cuck…? Old Cuck is the god of cuckoldry, according to the philosopher Voltaire…”

“But he’s a frog. All frogs are faggots.”

“Indeed, so are all the wops, but anyway…, what he says is often so deep…”

“Yeah, so reasonable. One would want him any day for his philosopher king. Instead of all those crackpot blood-crazy profiteers we get in government those days…”

“Anyway, Voltaire, he said: Old Cuck, the god of cuckoldry, the only god I have faith in…”

“Well, how apposite, eh? For us, I mean, the Catalonians. Old Cuck our god plus… Yeah, by the way, cuck is also the way we name the prick.”

“The prick’s name is cuck in Catalonian…? How picturesque! Such swank anecdotes you learn driving along with foreign exotic taxi drivers! I thought your mispronunciation of the word cock was due to your wog-ness — wogness, damn, such a disfiguring affliction.”

Ralph felt a little bit stung by the perfumed lady’s lack of consideration. He remained sullen for a spell. Then he revived…

“We aren’t so obscure as all that, the Catalonian-American, I mean. The Chink-American neither, but anyway name a Chinese-American of note, name a Catalonian one… Everybody stumped. And yet damn-the-torpedoes Farrago-Farragut was a Catalonian, and so were the writers Beet-Benét and Nan-Nin, and plenty of fellows in the early days, Sera-Serra, governors Argument-Agramunt and Portola-Portolà, and so on…, plenty painters, architects, doctors, scientists, cinematic actors, circus stars, the lot, like every other race, bohunk-y or not, oriental or oceanic, or native from one or another place… But Voltaire, who was also always so nice to kikes, made us the honor of calling us, in no uncertain admiring terms, the toughest and unruliest of the Europeans…!”

“Now, did he…?” The old gal sounding very tired.

The conversation bored her, Catalonians, Afghans, Kurds, Bengalis, Tibetans, whatever... Undistinguishable bunches of low-class crawlies, lousy, scurvies-ridden, never quite there… A wave of her weary hand, a blanket dismissal…

Ralph realized too late he was being, as always, a leaden boring fathead… Bah, and no hope to score even with the old scrawny lady.

“Sorry,” he said.

Sorry. Last thing ever he said too.

For at that moment, out of nowhere, came desperately snarling, bearing on them, gigantically tearing at them, like the sucking fiery mouth of an infinite yellow blinding dragon, a roaring rudderless truck…



9.


At Chuckeline’s funeral service, Coralline said, among plenty of other mistaken facts, that the deceased had the gift of the goddesses, that her ubiquitous and quieting words were enough indeed to cure ills, severe and ingrained though they be, and that her touch was mesmerizing, like unto a thaumaturge’s, by waves microscopic miraculous…, and that, upon seeing her, everyone suddenly felt impelled to ask her shiny ascending virginal likeness — rief ihr plötzlich jemand zu, she said, stressing the plötz and the zu to levels unheard — what was the sense and purpose of life, for they knew she was on the secret only goddesses master, and so on…

A “universalian priest” had talked very inspiringly about life’s shallow little holes…, all shallow, all identical but for a span or two of negligible depth, tiny nothings of pores, tiny pores of nothing, speckling all but invisibly and only in an itchy rash-like span of its interminable immensity, the infinite, and infinitely deep fabric of living… Parasites of non-being, he called everybody, and everybody appreciated the compliment. Most of those in attendance were blandly smiling. Not exactly beaming, but warm in their expensive overcoats, and thinking inner thoughts of clever, manageable survival.

We, that is they were all acquired to his deep-fathoming poetry…

At Chuckeline’s funeral service, held on the graveyard grounds during a glorious early winter noon, Coralline had tried to keep Maximine away from Chuck. For as Dick, her ex, the son of the deceased, was there, so was Chuck, their ex-lover, looking pitiful in his wheelchair, nervously gnawing at imaginary hangnails.

“Don’t talk to the Chink, please; we are very loggerheadish those days, I’m still stung by his bastardry…”

She had tried indeed hard. Alas, unsuccessfully. She was talking about Chuckeline’s incredible saintliness, how once she was petulantly pouting and the divine figure came to her help, and how since then… Elle gagne pour toujours la tendresse de sa bru… And how she felt a new woman after she was touched… When she saw her two enemies deep in heated converse, their two heads touching, never listening to a word she said.

“And after the stung frog, the stinging scorpion also drowned…” She was saying now, ad-libbing, trying to get the attention of her foe-friend. “Maximine, my faithful friend, of course, our mutual friend, faithful Maximine, like she faithfully said: Dragon-hued, yellowish, sickly-looking individuals can brutally railroad you out of existence, as this plötzlich vernichting devil-sent truck did with her blessed life…”

She saw in horror the two of them animatedly coming to an understanding of sort, for both were excitedly nodding… Yes, that bungled her speech awfully. “That was a woman of merit and substance, pardi! I’m not only delivering a few heartfelt words of eulogy to the deceased, in honor of that great saintly woman, this I say, also, a warning to the living, what else can one say…? Saintliness and deviltries all mixed in the same flagon called life. In the same monkey-parrot, parrot-monkey cage called home, the globe of the ready to burst in a colossal bang, the earth of our forebears, and the bears and the vixens too.”

Maximine, a Mormon, had been asking about the curom or else the curelom (though it had proved in this instance no cure for the poor homme, she joked) in musth who had terminated the contortionist’s poor legs.

“The what…?” The spunky Chink said.

“That’s how we Mormons call the elephants, curoms and cureloms.”

“Why the fucking complication?”

“Search me.”

“Willingly, but not here. Anyway it was no elephant that crushed my knees and legs. It was a fucking thug.”

“I knew it! Can you describe the heinous fiend?”

“What did you know…?”

“That the internet is all lies.”

“Is that so.”

“All those shitty bloggers spreading insane rumors… So who was the heinous brute…?”

“He had a baseball bat with him. He was ugly, fat, smelly…, a motorcyclist-clad creep. They give the bad name to faggot.”

“Indeed.”

“Though you know him…? Damned faggot, I find him I fry him, I pack a gun at all times, permit and all, they gave it to me when they saw it was foul play, and me the enormous, the biggest circus star of them all.”

“Yes, well, I’ll be on the lookout.”

“An elephant! No, I never went near the fucking repugnant beasts. I have always been terrified by elephants… My dad was a taxi driver from Brooklyn… He loved the circus. He loved the elephants most. He always (every weekend almost) invited me to go to the hallowed tent with him. I loathed elephants. How to tell him? Wasn’t I in a crude muddle…? So great a man you don’t take for granted easily, even if he comes home and slugs and shags your mom occasionally, or brings you a giddy gift, and then in a fit of further generosity strives to earn your appreciations, to touch and tinge with his sensitivity superior your more intimate introspections, alas the while endeavoring to rob you of your unransomed virginity too…”

“What a dreary proletarian existence!”

“Yeah, well. I took the straps of my boots and fucking pulled, didn’t I?”

“Indeed you did. Any Mormon worth his salt would agree.”

“Fuck the Mormons. All faggots.”

“How true, and polygamous into the bargain.”

“Anyway, give a hog anytime and not an elephant.”

“Hey, maybe curoms and cureloms are these…? A couple of types of hog, like the pig and the boar, and then the wildebeest, and… But in a gigantic measure, like in prehistory, and the time of the dinosaurs.”

“And the Catalonians, yeah, maybe, who knows; I don’t care shit for religions.”

“Me neither. All faggots.”

“Who.”

“The religionists.”

“By all means. Anyway, my dad: Fall to earth, he told me. No point in enmeshing still the webs the extant possibilities secrete, sure-eyed already, even if to a seemingly imperceptible lift or slump or swerve or warp or loop or tiny pinch, when the threads of the universal lyre are already so forsakenly engaged in hostilities both each one against another and the lot against our senses, that the background sound cosmic barges in, shrill and illogical, through our unseasoned tympana — noise that maddens, without you introducing yet another absurdity — think clear means, think possible means, think civilized means, think scientific means, think artist…”

“He sure could talk fine for a rubbishy proletarian…”

“Well, perhaps I elaborate post-partum as it were. Anyway, he said: Forget the fucking hogs. Elephants are the real deal. Who could become a trainer, a howdah… How, da! That would be the life. No, wait, howdah’s the damned basket, I mean the basket-case fellow on top of the back of the devilish beast, the mahout, the driver. He such a consecrated lucky guy. Halfway to heaven, three quarters of the way. Almost there. To be near this maelstrom of humanity, it really reinforces your inclination to live. My mother was fat, a bit whalish if you will, and yet my father didn’t have enough — and smelling of heavily of fish, too, my mother… And not because whales are fishes.”

“They ain’t.”

“Who are you, another of these fucking jokers contradict the bible? Don’t you know the bible’s infallible? Just like the fucking pope. Don’t you know once the pope reneged on his word never to swear, he was cheated at cards by a gay bishop, and cursed: A plague on all those homos! And what do you know, a plague came!”

“Indeed it did. Those holy people, they always get so freakingly right!”

“You bet your last egg they do. That’s why if the bible says a whale’s a fish, that’s what it is. But anyway the enormous fish smell came from another source, not from her whale-ness per se. Her cunt stank to heaven. She never washed, too big to wade into the bathtub… And she was to shy for the ocean.”

“Quite understandable. Only us shapely broads should allowed at the beaches.”

“Conceited bitch. Where was I…? My dad, crazy for elephants, a fixation, a stupidity of his, one more. If he could’ve married an elephant, that would’ve make his day, his year, his whole stupid misspent life. An elephant, whether she or he no matter…, the point for him was bigness of flesh — what he called immense humanity enveloped… He talked like this, a bit warped, a bit Chinese. By the way, do Mormons permit that, the marrying to an elephant…?”

“Don’t have the foggiest. Is true they are all damned perverts, but I believe the skin-enveloped fleshy humanity must be able to be saved. Now, in cases of a human who is partly animal, like certain aborigines, then maybe they do an exception or two and your beastly ancestor can be writ into the tables of angelic salvation… Otherwise I doubt it.”

“What a load of shit.”

“Well, dogmas are dogmas. What can you do…? Chinks must be having their peculiarities too, they communicate, host-partake with dog flesh, I’m told.”

“All faggots. A propos of my dad’s infatuation with the huge mammoth thing… He craved to become a metallurgist… So maybe he could build himself a brazen she-elephant, to do like that crazed sexed queen of old… Desired to have her pleasure with a prize Chicago bull…”

“Penthesilea…?”

“Maybe. Or Pasiphae…? Or Xucletingia? O Potiphar…? O Pigpuddingia…? ”

“Yea, one of those…”

“Man, Greek names… All faggots.”

“Greek love.”

“My father, he wanted to be like the father of the guy got his wax wings burned… Diabolus, Daedalus… Fucking his son good… Splat when his wings melted… Another of them life-messing fashioners of useless contraptions… Leaf-blowers of hell… Yeah, who build the fucking cow…?”

“God?”

“The faggot. The metal one… The nameless wonder… And yet he, my dad, he never went near a foundry. Or a fucking anvil. He died a sloppy lazy taxi driver.”

“Not so bad. He could’ve become another deranged bus driver. One of those the don’t kill piecemeal but in droves. Dreams don’t ever come true. They are just dreams. You father a metallurgist, me a mode passerelle fashion queen. You try to go Dutch with fate, the god of destiny, but then he always welshes on you…”

“All those ethnic slanders, you should be ashamed.”

“Except that Chinks are worse. Nobody understands their farrago, but everybody knows they are laughing at everybody else. Damned bastards.”

“How true.”

“You understand them.”

“That’s how my father talked to me, in Chinese.”

“Really, how lucky! All those new connections in the brain.”

“Thank you. Well, as you see, limber in the neurons, limber in the muscle. All’s connected. Except that now I’m stuck into a fucking wheelchair.”

“Is really sad. And the cops…?”

“Fucking racists all.”

“Agreed.”

“I’ve hired a private dick.”

“You did. How terrible, how terribly clever… I have to tell Coralline, I have to tell everyone. Maybe we all can help…”

“How can you? Nothing to do with thugs, have you…?”

“Never. Just the pot providers. Cheap shits like these. Is the story of your father’s infatuation with the bestial mammoths over…? It sounded so traumatic.”

“Well, it was. I had to transfer the head of the godhead, as it were. Where a pig’s an elephant’s. And I was quite young and impressionable. Where my mother and her father both quite taken with the hog story of there native ancestry, my dad hammering in the idea of the divinity, or quasi-divinity of those queasy stinking huge beasts…”

“Is it telepathy…? When you said the godhead with the pig’s head, I saw that book with the stranded kids in the desert island. And they start worshiping the wild pig they slaughter. A pregnant sacrifice… How’s it call, there is also a film or two about the subject… All those murderous brats turned savages, worshiping the skeleton of a pig…”

“Well, dear, and who wouldn’t. And who doesn’t. My mom, the kikes, the stinking Saracens… They all make great to-dos with the pig, don’t they?”

“We just adore what we eat; we just eat what we adore.”

“Fine, how — how you call it…? — aphoristic. In fact we are all lost uselessly working at the same shit for all time. The same house with different bricks. Or the contrary. Different houses with the same bricks. You can’t escape what is.”

“Anyway, I see your horror, the elephantine terror… You torture-prone belt-wielding pathetic father warping your inborn spirit, from a nice well-adjusted piggie-directed little boy to a half-psychotic rubberman driven to love a strange greedy all-devouring malignant beast of a mammal, much more horrific, and worthless, just a walking immense abdomen, shitting non-stop, half-digested rubbish galore all around, stinking the place up…”

“I’m grateful for your heartfelt sympathy, I’m sure.”

“No, but no joking. I sympathize with your crippled legs, but I still fail to see where it jives. Your idiotic father stupid adoration for the huge critters and your non-accidental ‘accident.’ That you weren’t trampled by an elephant, didn’t exempt you. You were as if. You weren’t spared the plight that was yours to suffer. As everyone must suffer hers.”

“Cut the Greek tragedy crap.”

“But after all… You did as if. I mean, as if you suffered the plight you thought you were destined to suffer. Your fear of elephants, not to be overcome under their mountainous weight, makes you an athlete of fabulous conditions… You do it all (the excruciating training) in order just so that you could escape the crazed blood-seeking animal running amok — as they do so often — and as you witnessed in the circus as a very small child, when you father brought you to see precisely those clumsy fat creeps…”

“Yes, yes. The insistence of my father. His criminal eagerness to convert me away from the pig fixation to the elephant dogma, surely all this left a nasty mark in my psyche, a sweltering festering wen in my liquefying brain… But the poetry of it all! Don’t you understand? How beautiful to be wanted. Visited by the pig-headed wish to make a damned convert out of you. How valuable you feel, how well-desired. Mormons of all people know that, proselytizing like gone goons, pestering people to become one of them fucking bastards. But for a child, a mere tyke… To be considered such a crucial cog in the chained becoming of so many people…? Grandfathers, totems, snakes, pigs… For a child fantasy is so overwhelmingly powerful!”

“I see where you are at.”

“Momentous to be cherished so much, taken into consideration, being one of them, even if taking a beating now and then… My father was a pig god himself then to me. A vulgar hackneyed father is already that. Almost no effort those first years. How much more if he takes such keen interest! This critical day… When my father revealed that amazing secret to me… That all my deepest, foundational beliefs were nothing but junk. Junk to junk away…? Toss your life to the fucking dickens…”

“Dickens, all this proletarian shit…”

“…and build yourself a new better one. Your own loving father your never perjured sponsor. It was all an eye opener. A soul blaster. That the silly tale of my grandfather’s soul-intermingling involvement with a hog (talk about miscegenation — and where’s the harm of it,) some huge tomato-sow full of her own sophistication — ‘wagging her sowish haunches,’ called the poet — a tale I was told to exhaustion since a baby barely able to listen — a generous ample swine, Boeotian if need be — Boeotian swine, Pindar’s famous address to Corinna, such an epic lay again, her own older poetry teacher (my hoggy mother’s) — the widest seen around these parts, a cow-sow — her it was my heavenly ancestor — the good goddess influence in my rooting life — me always looking for cents on the floors of wherever I went — she, the sow-deity… The sow, the sow, my mother insisting, as her handkerchief-vendor of a lusk, lumbering, relaxed, slothful father had anxiously insisted — only instances he ever became anxious, defending his ancestry, those that were making his bed soft in heaven, the goddess sow at the front, most influential. A sow, then, and never, never — nervily: never! — my parents…, such a perennial fight about totems, totally irreconcilable later, when my father decided he needed a totem too, not to be outdone by those fucking faggots, the Injuns. A sow, then, in fine, and never such a cheap retrograde as something — moreover so exotic, savage, primitive — and uneducated — as this beast — whose motto is geographical destruction and spiritual stupidity for any casual survivor that there be left, standing, or rather crushed to death or half-death — either spatial or temporal — (the diabolical beast, meaning the flawless angelic lithe and graceful elephants, my father said, enthusing) — well, all that story was that: another lame little story, another stupid fable, another childish lie, like father Christmas, Jesus, Mahomet, Moses, Buddha…, all those figures, Lincoln, king Arthur the divine cuckold, all hogwash, indeed all swill, all many-colored turds floating in bilge… I said: Swell, now I’ll have to identify with some other totem. Chinese are like this: totem here, totem there, otherwise they are not happy…”

“I know. The creeps.”

“But he said, shit, don’t you see it? Do like me, the elephant’s it. We were on our cottage’s scrawny lawn, surrounded by our unanimously lugubrious cathedral-decoys… — the whale my mother having turned to Catholicism, meaning to idolatry — and those sentences (his and in a lesser degree mine) rang as momentous to me then as erstwhile had rung those of the now discredited Tobias Durante, dead dad of my mom…”

“You mother’s of wop extraction…?”

“No, I’ve told you, his dad sold handkerchiefs. He claimed he was an big-nose nez-percé nickel-footed native American whose totem, I mean taboo, or rather both, had been a snake.”

“Hence you becoming a contortionist.”

“Yeah, whatever. All of them claims…, what else but cheap superstition, just your crazy deceptive unsubstantiated pigswill, as I was telling… Ignorant idiots all. Anyway, the hostile skinny patriarch would get angry as a dwarf if only I’d mention dumb Tobias. He’d explode: tergiversating old geezer, filling the already rubbish dump of this world with a landslide of confusion, his mouth an zit-like volcano spewing all types of chikenshit nonsense, a tsunami of nonsense which is still ebbing over in your harping immature mind… And damn your mother also and all her spouting garbage.”

His dad, he continued, the half-caste crippled Chink, what an immense personality all told. He thought, he’s got to be right. Mighty character, wow, swears like a sailor of the old school, sneezes as a steamer, and what wild fanfares in his videos: Inaugurations, vernissages, public squares, bridges, corporation shipheads, circus parades… Spawns of journalists drifting clueless through the staid archipelago of his always solid-rock presence, at the rears of the beasts, like a microbe fond of shit, stercoraceous, coprophilous, smelling the big excrementitious heaps...

The way he tells it, so much vain empty passion… “I’m awed, so awed I’ve come to believe him blindly, with my eyes closed — see his point to drowsiness — my eyelids are so heavy, gotta doze — and the dream is him, his canned images, his truth — each house’s but a pen, with only that drawback — that among us the female that both forages and farrows is somewhat ostracized… Choose! — she’s ordered — you’re either this or that! While among them, her own kind, she is thought to be a princess, kind of, respected, admired, if necessary served, high on the hierarchy by her merits only…”

“Are you talking now about the hog or the elephants…?”

“The cureloms, of course.”

As the elder reached for his belt, at last tiny Chuck got it. He asked his father: “Shouldn’t my mama maybe reconsider on the light of this, and try it again…? None of my business, of course.”

He tells Maximine now: “Anyhow, so hogs it was for a while. Hogs for those two — my mom and her Injun dad — what, thirty years or so with the foolish fable all true, a parabola of sorts, working miracles in the blazed banes of their minds… Our lineage going back to the primate, primordial pigs. Same skin, you know…? Sucklings, shoats, runners, gilts, barrows, rigs (each two thirds of a barrow. Castrated whole, minus a forgotten ball in the elevator,) runts (each the Anthony, the last in the hierarchy,) boars and sows — ah, the swine — now, all of a sudden, thanks to my dad and his elephantine love, my real enemies.”

“Changing mascots on the run. Perjured fans changing teams; damn the freaking losers, come above onto the winning bandwagon.”

“Like a Mormon changing the blood of cureloms for the blood of some other bloke brought to justice and savagely knackered. Sacrifice has always been so hot, the it of all times.”

“All tacky effigies, all illusory colored cardboard marionettes dealt from on high by the balls-scratching bishops and generals and enterprise chiefs. A powwow of wallowing revulsives…”

Some of the inhibited, repressed, kept close to the chest, backed-up hate was easy to transfer — their snouts, what were those but foreshortened trunks, proboscises, and as labile, as versatile as the actual McCoys…? Their tushes, what but tusks less glamorous still? Their bulk and ears, what if not elephantoid all in all…? And weren’t they as facile when it came to earning their lives as clowns, performers, comics, fall-guys and so on…? One liked acorns, the other one oaks — to one to root was his best betting asset, to the other one just to uproot, and leave it at that. Pro forma, by and large, no conflict nor dispute: a couple of biggies apparently operated after the bully Hun system — prey upon whatever you encounter, abandon behind only a burnt land, then hunker on while the earth puts forth, backtracking only if the rear looks easier and more luscious than the front.

“On the opposite side of the argument, there was this disturbing long hog epithet applied by cannibals to humans. And then the learned doctors agreed — and a geek of a pal I had at the time — assiduous denizen of the library — he was there to remind me of the similarities — ah, yes, his loved brotherly companions, herds of Middlesex Saddlebacks, Berk-, Hamp-, York-shires, Palouses, Durocs, Scientists’ Piglets, Spotted and Plain Poland Chinas, Landraces, Swastika Pigs — more than four hundred breeds, I was ceremoniously told, roaming among the upright, and up-ended, and three-legged, and Hercules-tired-lying-by-the-side-of-the-path ziggurats — same skin, teeth, tongue, assumedly taste, our common omnivorousness, hair pattern, more interestingly still, for sure: their cardiovascular build-up, their digestive layout, invaluable for medical advancements, and sexual customs, kinky apparatuses (the boar’s are much longer though never larger,) proven intelligence, the cleverer porker peoples well above the sillier one third of degenerating humanity… — in a word, all but a corresponding physiology and metabolism between them and we, uncanny, what, them, us…? Really, I trod in trouble, weren’t I becoming a despicable, laughable misanthrope…? Slandering mankind by the intercession of the pig…? In the ultimate analysis, insulting myself…? Or were I…?”

“I boy taking the side of his mom and not of his dad. Sure sign of perversity, you freaking faggot, any psychologist would have sworn so.”

“Except that thank god we were to poor for shrinks and damned fairy quacks of that caliber.”

He next explains that on the base, bottom-side of the argument, still, maybe it were him, his dad, the misanthrope. His earnings (scant as they were) went all into his circus herds, he took a pleasure to tend them for free…

“His expenses hinged on the beasts’ welfare, and period, that’s it. Nothing left for the starving, the handicapped, the diseased, the crazy, the orphans, the attacked, his neighbors, my mother or me. At a pinch, had he a dime to spare, it was channeled in its integrity for the preservation of wild monsters…”

Nothing for the boars, he lists, dreamily listing in his tilted wheelchair, looking at the naked and well-dressed branches of the graveyard trees…

“Nothing for the wart-, forest-, red river-hogs, babirusas, peccaries — babirusas…? Dad’s dreams of a new wife shooting wild beasts in Africa wasn’t at least backfiring at us, at our backs around the sphere… They’d never shoot an elephant instead. No Orwellian spoken here. Damned dickheads, my dad (childish creep) and her new imaginary bride shooting wild boars in the Serengeti… The new woman in his life… But acquired how, damned rat-poor lazy bastard. But she so elephantine instead of sow-like — but again, where really the difference…? A fat woman resembling another as almost not two other species whatever… A chimpanzee and certain preachers and politicians, perhaps…, yeah, pretty close, but no cigar.”

He next with his geeky pal researching everywhere, all the encyclopedias, for reasons — or only one whatsoever! — to get mad at the pigs. What a waste of years, the best in their learning youths...

“In private I tried, did I! Wanted so much to make the maniacal old man happy. Envisaged wide vistas, yes, tried instead so much to love the elephants. Plenty of room to roam… Africa… Plains, prairies at the core of the dark continent… Their concealed cemeteries, just a legend, full of pap… What about their touching mourning for the bones of the passed… That’s a passably good one. Or are they smelling the putrescence, and putrescence triggers sorrow in their stupid diminutive brains…? No, but skip it. Something worthy, think hard, or at least schmaltzy, sappy enough about them to expand on…, there’s got to be something to hang your rigid explorer’s hat on, no doubt… Let’s concentrate on the pluses, if any… Nothing doing, the in-built horror, transmogrified into hatred, unexplainable, a strange linkage, a beast in musth, destroying pews, stands, bodies… A sacred avenger, a damned apocalyptic thingus, monstrous, from almost pea-sized from the height of the last upper rows, the heavens, the choir stand where we scruffy angels intone our grateful ohs and ahs, to dimensions untold, approaching, enraged, cacodemonic, a fright to behold, unforgettable, a fury to be shot repeatedly, thousands of bullets wasted, and still the juggernaut charging, goring, demolishing… The angels scrambling, tumbling away, flying down. I’m paralyzed, asking for grace, praying to the welkins, the Olympus, gods above, deliver us from the fiend, the evil one, his acute wickedness, the malignity of the malicious misfeasor, the beast of hell incarnate, the fucking elephant, a mutiny indeed in my scrawny neurons, never to disengage the coupling, elephants and terror insuperable.”

His hand rigid as the hat of the explorer on the handles of his wheelchair, he’s still a little boy exposed to the gathering storm, delivered alone to the fury of the ultimate beast, climbing to get him, a hurricane bearing in, supremely vicious to boot... Dying, collapsing, the beast, just a few crumbling rows before he gets at him. Him falling himself, the whole tent going down… And then nothing betters this, pure of heart him. Yes. Enters the glorious CIA, his dream come true, a heroic uniformed secret captain… He adopts him. At last the really real family complete…! Already his dad one of the bosses at Langley, Va. — the Campus, so called — and he his minion, his fag, his what, his squire… Dad, new dad, the CIA captains have the atomic bomb, the neutron and the neutering bomb, do they not…? We do indeed, my son. We do, you and I. And they (father and son) they’d open the heavy wrought iron door to the general office and his captain dad here he is, magnificent, an heavenly image, pointing him to the top brass, the department of state secretaries, the fancy cut-outs and the rabble technicians, the lot of them idly picking their noses, squishing their nits and crabs around the coffee-fountains: “That strapping young handsome boy, gentlemen, is my fully recognized son, of whom we all expect so much and great, deservedly I might add, for now that everything’s been miscarried and exposed to public ridicule — utopias, arcadias, communes, satin-lands, peoples under gods — only the very few really knowledgeable about the ways of the different cattle-masses and flocks shall be able at all to offer a salutary glimpse on the appropriate ways for the straight managing of that sociological bipedal group we’ve formed worldwide… On this respect, I’ll argue — viciously if need be, as another howling leviathan at large, smashing and sweeping as it ought to, with his well waxed leather-skin, which so perfectly lends itself to the juggernautish task, leveling then the few remaining architectonic healings of our impressively gaping history — that our strained will will will it, and if we will it forcefully enough, our breed that bred somebody as him will — and when I speak ‘will’ I most emphatically mean ‘will’ — will save us — the H.H. (Head of the Herd) R.M. Panurge the Eighteenth, our L.L. (another honorary title: Leader of the Lemmings. While R.M. stands for Robin Mutton, naturally,) our president, he’s always asking for my secret counsel, of course, and I, impeccable servant, what do I do — every night I’m bathing my feet in lukewarm lotions, I’ve convoked my fully recognized one, and why not, I might ask, frowning even, if obligated to, why not indeed, when even chairs I’ve seen recognized in some old hearings, sort of, shown on TV, and anyhow, in that pleasant environment, what’s my normal common behavior…? I’m consulting at the same time with my more private counsel — in him I trust — him, my full son no less — good, now I’m folding, almost done, come on, people, obediently, good soldiers, stark, stoical — mildly applaud, like this, I like that, thank you all...”

But then he awoke… None of his bones had broken, he still could be the hero under the spotlights… Willy-nilly, by any means necessary, yes, sir. His imaginary father much more a model to follow than the surviving slob at his side. The slob who had flown the faster, leaving behind his petrified little son.

But dreaming, what a waste of time indeed, especially in the light of that terrifying plight he found then himself in. Remember…? That was the morning he had gone out not for a leisurely walk…, trying to recompose his badly mangle body, but to train obsessionally from this day on to be the best contortionist ever, the best escapist, he’s already escaped the beast once. The second time he’ll not be so lucky. Maiming and death must follow. In the meantime preparation is harshly needed.

“I was widely breathing in and out, and kindly exercising my thirsty eyes around Roundhay Park, when behold, damn it, I tripped on the tip of a big stone which happened to have on its nose, yep, the careless image of a carved elephant, my nemesis, I knew!”

“How interesting,” Maximine said, bored to tears.

But Coralline was done at last with her still more boring, and garbled and gnarled speech… She was coming fast to meet her, furious, another bloody-minded pachyderm, with stiletto heels at her shapely feet no less, balancing herself on the turf, her ass bobbing so preciously …

Maximine intercepted her frantic trajectory. “Calm yourself,” she mollified.

“You treacherous bad-faithed salope…” Coralline existentially called.

“Hear me out, I’m no salope, in any case you are salopier, and sloppier, than me, for hiding the truth…”

“You’ve been listening to him for the whole freaking half hour I had to parrot away the disgraceful eulogy…”

“I was only pretending to listen, most of the time. I did it as a spell of charity towards a poor disgruntled cripple. He went on and on about a pig and an elephant story, such cockamamie bullshit, worse than the cock and the bull of legendary fame… Anyway, you should be glad that I paid him any attention at all — get a hold of yourself, I’ve learned that he’s hired a private investigator…!”

“Damn!”

“Well, let’s hope he’s at least eminently fuckable, for one way or another we’ll have to fuck him.”

“Sister, you said it.” They embraced while from afar the gimlet eyes of the hamstrung, discombobulated, out of order Chink bored burnings on the fashionable but sternly colored and modestly cut dresses of the two dear conniving friends.


10.


As Nina was jogging in Central Park, from one rotten tree a man fell in front of her. A rotten tree alright, not only a rotten branch, for the entire tree, riven and rent by an inner canker, now splintered with a long protracted crack of a noise, noise of a crack, then listed at two opposite sides at once, and lurched, and finally, dustily, collapsed. Nina was terribly frightened. First she thought a tiger was jumping in front of her, a hungry and confused escapee from the circus no doubt, or a boar, their grinded, shiny, soon bleeding fangs and tusks to the fore; then that the trees themselves had developed legs, tiny like the legs of termites that had wrecked them and emptied them of their wooden souls and now the carcasses of them were walking to the subterranean chambers of that other secret infernal nest of theirs…

The man was whimpering on the floor. He had a hat on his head, a trench coat around him, a leg broken, an ankle sprained, something, a lot, about him all wrong.

—Sorry, lass, he said, my cleats slipping, you know. Say, I seem to have come a cropper, and my beast of burden too.

—Could I be of any help, you want me to call a cop, or an ambulance…?

—No; I’ll be fine. Plenty plunges like that, line of the work one does, you see.

—What do you do…?

—Well, just making friends on the run. Running up mountains. Calling people to beware here and there the sticks of unexploded dynamites… A prospector. I’m a prospector, yeah, and I prospect.

—Good. Well, I’ll be going, if you are alright.

—Damn, wait, no, ay! I’m hurting everywhere. Mama, whoa!

—What were you doing on top of the tree, by the way? Not prospecting for oil. Are you some kind of a spy…?

—No, I’m a Norwegian.

—So am I!

—I know… I mean, it figures, you with your beauteous, vickingous figure. Sorry I can’t touch, though the temptation’s invincible… My hands are all greasy. Before I climbed the tree I had to change a battery… Let me find a fountain that I wash my hands and you’ll see what a faun I’m not.

—Indeed you aren’t. What a clumsy beast. And now broken all over. You are not all there, are you…?

—Norwegians seldom are.

—True, but your hair is as black as the brilliant plumage of a Norwegian raven… A raven, not a man. Aren’t you Oriental or something…?

—A little bit Chinese, an octoroon, worse…

—A half-caste gook…

—Worse, much worse… But Norwegian nonetheless.

—I see. Name a Norse-American of note.

—Ah… Millions upon millions, of course. There is this guy kidnapped baby Lindbergh, wouldn’t he be Nordsky…?

—Baby what? Was that that movie star from the twenties.

—That’s it, you see, you’ve also heard of him.

—You should do better than this.

—Surely no end of Minnesotans… Yeah, what about those Minnies… The Gophers, the Lutherans… Plenty of famous teams. And Willie the Olsen Olson and his orchestra… Knut the Brute with the Tough Glute, a celebrated circus strongman… And this writer, Garrison Lewis, his cosmic comical vision, in whose pages such, so much comical sorrowful animality chronically intervenes, like a pain in the, you know…

—Never heard.

—Your loss. You must. Corpuscles of wisdom.

—Ok. Name their racial, I mean nicely insulting epithet…

—We must be so blameless we hardly have one… I know bohunk can’t apply to us… My cousin, eh… Knut. No, I’ve said that one already. My cousin Olaf… called me often a squarehead. And wait, I’ve learned it… Balderdash, Balder! The name of god in Norse. So…?

—I’m practically convinced. Though you really look pitifully inadequate.

—I know; lacking the fabled long head, the strongly marked brows and light eyes of the men of the North. Damned dipsomaniacs… Drunks, I mean. Their unutterable small-mindedness… Straitlaced creeps prone to microbes…

—Hey!

—I can say what I want against Norwegians if I’m one of them. And shit, do I know them... Loathsome cowards, the motive of their vaunted courage being what but the fear of losing their repute for valor…!

—Huh?

—Lachrymose bastards, crying in their cups, always melancholy, all faggots.

—True, all those blue eyes, that blond vacancy of stare, that far-away look, that suicidal urge…

—It must be all this raw fish.

—Why?

—I don’t know.

—You must be right.

—Plus imagine all this ice… The gloomy background of the stern Norwegian landscape… The horror of it all. Ninety-four million miles away from the warmth…

—Ninety million!

—Distance to the irrelevant, unattainable, pertinent trumpeting of the shine of the Sun.

—Is that Ibsen?

—Who? Yeah, why not? Look can you drag my carcass up behind that shrubbery…? Not that I’m in a state to be able to take advantage of me, I mean of you, rather the opposite, but I really hate all those empty stares of the parodic artists, all those fools running afoul of esthetics. Masters of mimicry. Everybody homodromous, damned Norwegian lemmings… Don’t you hate joggers…?

—Well, I’m one.

—Yeah, but the pretty one, the sole exception to the rule. Shit, it hurts…! Thanks. Wretched creeps, lonely, rude, selfish, faggoty, spiggotty…

—The Norwegians?

—The joggers. The others too. All that over-boring worthless queer activity. Dull routines galore, skiing, sliding, skating, duck-hunting…

—I love to hunt ducks! Every time I visit I try to joint the party.

—Yeah, well, but you, is different. A pretty woman like this… Such a well-turned torso, such long and sculptural legs, such…, such… Ah, it hurts, it hurts…!

—I’ll fetch somebody, you need help…

—No, wait. I hate ambulances. There’s two sets of sinners, one set are the homosexual sodomites, the other the baleful ambulance demons… Set on reciprocal mimicry also.

—Really!

—Yeah, did you ever hear their clunky language…? All those gutturals… Hello, a grunt; thanks, another grunt; bye, a third grunt. Grunt, grunt, grunt… And come on, pass the hooch, we are not inebriated enough, you know.

—Are these the Negroes in the ambulances…? Or you happen to mean the Norwegians, for I must warn you I find the language a delight.

—You do? Ok, so do I. Except that from a distance. Solar. In the family circle, only my long dead grandmother knew a word or two of the jarring lingo. She talked much better Chinese.

—You gave me one of those starts when you fell from the tree — and then the tree after… Then I thought you might be one of those rabid squirrels one hears about, spreading panic all over the city… You look it too.

—Thanks, a cute rabid squirrel. But aren’t squirrels lithe…?

—Plenty, and scurrilous, and scurrying…

—You got it. In my line of work…

—By the way, what do you really do?

—I’m doing fine. A bit shattered, a few pieces badly fragmented, I guess.

—And as a job…?

—Prospecting, shit, I told you already, you are a cagey little vixen, aren’t you. Climbing trees up and down to peer deep into the horizon. And also down there, in the wet, on the Wagnerian landscapes, seascapes, the trees and ruins of the deep sea.

—Deep sea, eh…? How romantic.

—How Norwegian.

—You popped from the tree like a cork from a bottle of champagne. It was so fucking hilarious.

—It must have been, you are still laughing.

—The sight! But then I thought about my uncle. Same shock. You fallen from the sky like a fucking tornado-driven frog, and my uncle Joe appearing from the dead.

—Ghosts of the drowned, your typical Norwegian sea specters… I’ve read about those…

—No; I went home last Summer. It was three years I was not visiting the family. We were all there, packed, you know the racket, raw fish for all, a few of the autistic cousins screaming for more food. All a sudden my uncle Joseph. An apparition! I must have fallen on my haunches. Figuratively. He dapper as ever. Shiny of skin, well combed. And I thought him dead for three years…! Couldn’t believe it! Almost died myself, jolted out of my skin, the immense astonishment…! I said, uncle Joe, I must speak with you in private. We went to my father’s den…

—Damn igloo!

—No, it was Summer. We went to my dad’s den. There were plenty of spread maps all over. On the walls, on the table… We were both embarrassed. My uncle. Me. Faking to consult the maps, the seas, the cities, the inventions… I said, sorry, now I understand why Helena didn’t answer any of my letters of deep-felt condolence. Helena’s my aunt. I said, of course, you aren’t dead. My mother had told me on the phone. You know, she said, uncle Joseph’s dead. Prostate cancer. And I cried my eyes out. But know I’m thinking, it must have been a confusion of uncles, the dead fellow her uncle Joseph, not you, my uncle Joe — and looking like a million crowns too. He was forgiving. He caressed me. He said, you are the very image of unsdkyldighed, of unguiltiness. I said, you are so kind. He said, yes, but I still have an inoperable lump in my brain. Prostate cancer too, spread. Malignant islets metastasizing on the old map. I was desolated. Shit, shit, and re-shit, I said, I’m never coming back to this fucking dying country. It is tainted with death. But he said, in all countries people get ill, falter and die. Eaten away, like standing trees. But, uncle, such an elegant and well-groomed and debonair guy as you? Is not right…! But then I’ll be awed for keeps… I’ll be grateful to him forever. He took me in his arms, as though I were again a little girl. He told me, how happy he’d been, the extreme bliss as a tyke of a few (years,) curling like a tiny angel into the folds of her plump naked grandmother… He was so looking forward to meeting her again… The love of his life… With me, and aunt Helena, and my cousin Josephine…

—How touching…

—Norwegian Gypsies trace with their whips a mark on the snow. It resembles a testicle with a smile on it — happy face avant-la-lettre. We are happy people behind all those layers of melancholic gunk — of darkness and raw fish.

—These Norwegian Gypsies, such a pain in the ass. Though don’t get me wrong, I delight in Norse-stories; they are far grander than the Greek one. Damned queers. There is the story of Dalmau, a Norwegian captain… He was forced by a tempest to anchor his vessel in a sheltered fjord… At a bombard’s throw of his peaceful home, where Adelaide, the maiden who kept the bridge, his only daughter, awaited, whiling away the while while petting her pet bull… Big, powerful, hewn on Norwegian hills, our totem, our ancestor’s, Norwegian born indeed… With big testicles and such…, long wherewithal, capiche…? Staying behind too, keeping the home fires roaring, and the daughter happy… With the other idle ships rotting in the bay. And the dad doomed… He can’t ever reach her. He’s sworn an impious oath… He’s punished to go round and round the bloody seas non-stop… Listen, I can’t shoot the breeze any longer, I’m losing it…

—What can I do…? You need a doctor.

—Seeing that we are compatriots, and that we can trust each other, and I’m really terrified with those ambulance niggers…, couldn’t you help me up to your apartment, seeing that it is so near, I mean, it must be, and just applying a couple of splints tied with a bit of a sheet or a rag or a towel… And then once this is fixed, I’ll phone my mother so that she can pick me up, and she doesn’t die of the impression of seeing his boy mangled in such a nasty way… Capiche…? By the way, the name’s Howard… Your’s Nina, I presume…?

—Yeah, say, how did you know.

—Norwegian intuition, baby. And I’ve been discarding millions of women’s names in my conscience… Nina suits you the best.

—Really…?





Never so well

Never so well
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C.R. Morell his paltry efforts,

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