Tuesday, February 26, 2013
FOXAVIER AND PLINKA, Chapters 1,2, & 3
Foxavier and Plinka is the funny satirical story of a man trying to recover from OCD and find love as a forty year old virgin.
Foxavier Jostleplume is being driven crazy by diets and junk food commercials.
At art therapy, he meets Plinka Goose, and together they ride a rollercoaster of love..
They use public art to fight a corporation distributing psychosis causing cookies.
FOXAVIER and PLINKA
by Scott Evans
2013 All Rights Reserved
WARNING: STRONG CONTENT. MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY. INTENDED FOR HUMOR. ALL CHARACTERS ARE FICTIONAL.
Thank God, Hymen & Bessie Elinoff, Ben & Ida & Arnie & Ken & Lisa Moskowitz, Gene & Mimi & Stacy & Shannon Evans & Leah Guidry, Edie & Larry & Michael & Missy Rice, The Bode Family, The Grupp Family, The Baynes Family, Ken & Dorrie & Mark Goldstein, Warren & Marcy & Brayden Goldstein-Gelb, Frank Michaels Family, Steven Carino, The Weiss Family, The Bayers, The Tallini Family, Cathleen & Liz McLaughlin, Walt Whitman High School, The South Huntington Public Library, Carol Fine, The University of Rochester, the City of Rochester, Jim Sherman, Marc Barron, Captain Bill Jensen, Faith Yando, Mark Moss, Pete Shaw, Kerin Gould, Andy Williams, Rob Vermeulen, Win Williams, Tom Kaempfen, James Taylor, Leslie Wright, Cynthia Tacaks, Bob Wong, Dr. Miron Zuckerman, Harvard University, Dr. Ellen Langer, Andrew Pratt, Dr. Martha Tappen, Dr. Blanford Parker, Richard Hernandez, Dr. Brett Rhyne, Sam Abrams, Lorraine O'Sullivan, Joel & Freddy, The Rochester Public Library, Strong Ties, Eric Klein, Tyrone Smith, Dennis Lowenstein, Tim Bornhorst & Darlene Zaza, Sonia Gutowski, Bryant & Stratton College, Mark & Vivian Small, The Hanrahans, Rochester Institute of Technology, Delores Florio, Dick Dermody, Sharon Altman, Doug Rice, Donald Stafford, The Creative Wellness Coalition, Sam & Maeve McLean, Laurie Gil & Billy Jenkins, Norma Holland, Steve Huff, Chris Erbach, Tim Beseau, Doug Shirley, Liesl Ann Gaesser, Lindsay Woods, Joe Flaherty, Martin Naparsteck, Len Messineo, The Mental Health Association of Rochester/Monroe County, Writers & Books, Mieu-san, Kevin Browne, The Welcome Project, MassCOSH, The Medfield Press, Sarah Stephens, Data Doctors, Art Bell, Sky Sands, Bleu Cease, Spot Coffee, Crumulent & RobHatesZombies, SisterFistin, Victor Sierra, Veronica Weider, Monroe County, New York State, The United States of America, Nick Rebori, Mournblade, Skorne, Dr. Allecon, and Micrecycle.
My life is not so much a life, as a series of awkwardnesses.
“I'm The Pretty Pie Girl. I'm The Pretty Pie Girl,” the TV blares her chipmunk voice as she waltzes with a chocolate cookie. Her adorable face sirens, “You're my Ookie Ookie Cookie.” Computer generated smile happier than human. She's a pie with tiny gloved arms, and booted legs. She twirls. “You're my Ookie Ookie Cookie.”
Her dark partner croons in lowest bass, “I'm your Ookie Ookie Cookie.”
I select a box from the cupboard, The Hexachocolator, a six sided cake with six kinds of chocolate. In bright yellow letters it proclaims, “Zero Grams Trans Fat.”
The giggling pie slides down the side of the bowl, and shouts to the world, “Kooky Cookies are part of a nutritious breakfast,” and splashes into the milk.
Crack two eggs. Use olive oil not grease. The box says one cup, but use half. One cup, that's crazy. Beat the mix with wooden spoon.
The “real” children, one fifth as cartoonish, bang their silver to the musical and chant, “Ookie Ookie Cookie!”
How many impressionable minds watch this whorescrappening? “Ookie ookie cookie!”
A woman's voice says, “Capsulsgrave Confections are made by mothers, for mothers.”
The Pie Girl squeaks the last word, “For the love of food.” The commercial is over. The volume drops to inaudible. We now continue with our regular programming.
Pour batter into stainless steel bowl. Bake at 375.
Go upstairs. Barry is on his bed, so fat he struggles not to roll off. I feel skinny by comparison, lithe and fierce, like a tiger.
Lie on my bed. Open the logic puzzle magazine. Draw chart in bent spiral pad, low on blue ink, which makes solving puzzle too easy. Bored. Get up.
What can I say to Barry? Good luck with your operation? He's so fat, they have to cut his legs off at the knees. He's going to be in a wheelchair. I will not end up like him. I will eat normal portions. It's not that hard. Work out an hour a day. No seconds.
Get off bed. “Good luck with your operation.”
He says “Thank you,” between breaths, oxygen hose in nostril.
Look down at my coat at the bottom of the winding banister. Burt is in my pocket stealing a cigarette.
Go to office and tell Diane, perfect face and body, no chance she would ever want me. Staff can't date residents, but even if they could, she wouldn't. Her baby doll eyes, button nose, and puckering lips tell me, “Official West House policy is not to leave things out.”
Sit on couch in TV-room to fill out an application for the Office of Disabled Services, so I can go to school.
Pat sits on the other couch with blond French poodle hair, and smokes, every so often turning her head to the side and back, like a chicken.
Oh boy, here we go: ETHNIC GROUP. They don't even ask name first. Two boxes--one for white, one for black. Draw my own box, up and to the left, and check it.
Pat snores. Cigarette in mouth burning.
“Thank you.” She taps off the ash, turns her head, and puffs.
Second question-Age. Write fast and legible, 40.
Third question-Describe how your disability prevents you from working? You're asking me? Ask the doctors; they have file cabinets full. It's hard to put in words. I think and think. Crumple paper in ball, and throw in basket. Nice shot. JORDAN!
Step out for air. The guys are smoking. Davey is squatted down with his back against the side of the house. He can stay like that comfortably for a long time, because he's skinny. If I tried, my legs would snap. A rollie burns between his blackened fingers, he spits mucus on the blacktop between his legs. Isn't he disgusted? Spit to the side, numb nuts.
Burt has a long handlebar mustache and bushy black hair. He smiles and says, “What's up, man?” He talks funny.
Tall strong Dennis offers me a Red Pyramid 100.
“Thanks Dude. I don't buy cigarettes. It helps me cut down.”
It tastes awful, cheap, and mostly cardboard.
Chubby cheeks Nate says, “He just mooches off of other people.” Burt and Pretty Tony laugh.
Burt hesitates when he talks,“I … got … fie women … in Canton … Ohio.” He has trouble pronouncing certain sounds.
Pretty Tony raps, “I can get you ho's.” His camel face drools, when he laughs and grins. Nate chuckles, and Davey guffaws.
Nate and Tony stop, but Davey is still belly laughing. He is a boyish forty. His voice is slow, pleasant, and rhythmic, “God bless you, Fox.”
“How are you, Dave?”
“Oh, fine. Fine. Fine.”
“What you up to?”
“Vivian kicked me in the butt.”
“I see. You shaved.”
“Trimmed Miss Martha's bushes yesterday.” His face brightens, “Oh, Miss Martha is a pretty girl.” He giggles and mumbles unintelligible syllables as he brings his face into my face. I back up. Don't spit in my face.
“She gave me five dollars.”
“I hope you invested it wisely.”
“I got these and a pop.”
“So, what are your plans for today?”
“Oh, Nuthin. Nuthin.”
Why does everyone keep saying that?
“What ya doin?”
He smokes more than anyone would possibly need to. Shouldn't criticize. The fingers closest to the cigarette are stained darkest. Same pattern on his teeth. Got to quit. His father told him to stop for years, then died from lung cancer. You could say it matters, you could say it doesn't. Is one death better than another? Why live at all?
Loucarla comes out the screen door. Pretty. Petite. Farm girl. Blue jeans. Mane of bangs and curls. No chance with her either. She announces, “Dinner,” in Snowchester accent.
In Snowchester, they say Snowchester in one syllable, Snochstr, “I'm from Snochstr. Are you from Snochstr?”
Dennis has a deep voice. “Kiss it.”
Pretty Tony says, “Bust dat out da frame.”
Burt pronounces certain words funny, “I hae a gir-frien in Can-ton O-hi-o.”
The cake! Run in, and take it out. Just right. Dump it on a platter. It comes out in a perfect steaming dome. Cut it into two, four, eight, sixteen pie slices. Place it in the center of the long dining room table.
Get a good seat. Survey the room. This house is a mansion. Huge rooms. Fancy moldings. Ornate ceiling ridges ripple around the real crystal chandelier with four energy saver bulbs. A hundred years ago, one super rich guy had all this for himself. Now it's a group home.
The whole neighborhood was super rich. Each mansion had a whole block of land for itself. Over the years, smaller houses were built in between. But it's still nice, and even the regular houses qualify as mansions.
Ten people sit on each side. Rich, the director, tall, with black hair and beard, says, “A secret Manicotti family recipe.”
Pat asks, “You made the lasagna, Rich? It's good.”
Burt says, “Very . . . good, Richhh.”
Pretty Tony, next to me, glances at Loucarla and whispers, “I tapped dat in the phone room.” He smiles big. “Went right up to her and pulled down her pants.” He isn't serious; I don't think.
I say to Loucarla, “The tuna is delicious.”
“Thank you. The trick is fresh garlic. . . The hot dogs have half the fat.”
Morality compels me to speak, “And what about carcinogens? Do they have half the carcinogens?”
The table gets quiet. Bingo.
Burt says, “Car-in-o-gen.”
I hold up an invisible pack, and say loud and sarcastic, “Hello. Carcinogens. . . Sodium Nitrite, Sodium Nitrate. I rest my case.”
“Hot dogs don't cause cancer,” says Hippo slow with his big round face.
Pat clucks, “I'm going to be sick.”
Burt says, “Say goo'night.”
Rich says, “The hot dogs are fine. They're the best, Roscoe Mueller.”
Say no more, not to make a scene, but sneer. Oh no. They wouldn't put anything bad in something people eat.
Lindsay says, “Do you freak out every time you eat?” and giggles.
An attractive girl is talking to me and smiling. Has to be a set up. She lures me back to her room, then her boyfriend jumps me. Why even hope? No attractive woman is into fat guys. “Well not every time. Well pretty much, yea. Most times.”
She stares, eyes grinning.
“Probably a few times I didn't.” We take a few bites. “Scones are evil. Fruits and vegetables are good, as long as they're organic, otherwise they're evil. Cake, meat, anything that tastes good, is evil. Boring is good. Oatmeal.”
“So pretty much everything causes cancer.” She laughs.
“Hydrogenated oil is heart attacks, but yes. Hot dogs, cold cuts, fruits with pesticides, anything plastic, and of course coffee stirrers.”
“Well yeah, think about it, you put a strip of plastic into piping hot liquid and swirl it around. Do you have any idea how many thousands of carcinogens leech into the coffee? A lot.”
“They wouldn't use harmful substances.”
I get louder, “You would think! Sounds like a good rule. DEATH TAKE ME NOW! . . . Are you kidding me? Please tell me you're kidding. They don't care if they kill people. They only care about one thing”
She cuts me off, “Follow the money.”
“Yes.” I chuckle.
Loucarla can't see Pretty Tony thrust his hips like Michael Jackson. I look at him skeptical. He laughs. Crude manners. No one else notices.
“What they don't tell you, is to dial 9-1-, then take a bite, and then dial the last 1.
Pretty Tony, interjects in Reggae beat, “Birds...drop-ping... from da sky.”
“It's a pyramid scheme. The dollar bill, a pyramid. They're all in on it.”
Pat asks, “Foxavier, do you want fries?” Shouldn't, but take some. Don't do evil. It tastes good. You'll feel sick after. I feel sick now. Try not to take too many.
Burt pushes the mashed potatoes towards Ralph, who has a David Niven mustache, “No, you finish your ve-ta-ble.”
Ralph smiles, pushes the plate back, and says in strong Indian accent, “Have some more potatoes. You're a growing boy.”
Burt, “You-r a gro-ing bo-y. . . I don't want any more, Ralph. I had a whole bag of chi-ps.” He always has a large bag of tortilla chips with him.
Ralph could be a serial killer. It would be the perfect opportunity, a counselor in a group home. No proof, just a hunch.
Barry slowly pulls his clunky oxygen tank cart, and is last to sit. No seconds.
He sits and says, “It looks good,” and crosses himself.
Sonny, in her seventies, takes a bite of my cake and says, “Mondays at six,” talking about her free painting class.
She's not shaking. Her face is asleep. Her body drops. Pat calls out, “Oh!” Dennis and I look at each other. Then he stands up. Nate is still chomping down mashed potatoes. Everyone gathers around, and Rich tells us not to touch her, and calls 911. Pat says, “Don't worry Sonny.” We stare. Diane takes everyone in the backyard. The ambulance transports her unconscious. She's lucky we're so close to University Hospital.
Did Sonny have a stroke? It couldn't be the cake. The box said, “Zero grams trans fat.” Get it out of the trash. See, “Zero grams trans fat per serving.” Per serving? Why is 'per serving' in small letters? Read the ingredients: Water, bromated flour, hydrogenated rapeseed oil! Hydrogenated rapeseed oil? Those sneaky bastards. It was the cake. Read the word “hydrogenated” one more time.
After dinner a bunch of us sneak out the bedroom window and sit on the roof. Rich would have a fit, if he caught us. It's a mild summer. The night sky is clean. The stars are clear.
Dennis looks like Hank Hill, a big dude with square crew cut. “I was stationed in Germany.”
Nate rolls a cigarette. His voice is deep too, but not as. “You was in Germany?”
Dennis smiles and giggles, “I was in Germany for three years, and I was married for a year and a half.”
I say, “Cool. Did you see any combat?”
Dennis says, “Dude, this was 1980.” Chuckles. “Peace time.” Nate puts it in his mouth, and asks, “Does anyone got a light?”
Dennis immediately lights him. “You asked the right person. Three packs a day.” His eyebrows go up and he laughs.
Nate takes the first drag, then says, “Never married. No kids, Free agent.”
He laughs, then takes another drag fast, and hands it to Dennis, who says, “Kiss it.”
Nate asks me, “How about you?”
“What about me?” He and Tony laugh.
Pretty Tony translates, “Do you have a woman?”
“Not really.” I turn to Dennis. “Did you see any interesting action in Germany?”
He answers, “I was a mechanic. I saw a lot of grease.”
Nate says, “I know that's right. Bet.”
Pretty Tony says, “I bet you saw some action when you was married.” Dennis breaks a smile.
Pretty Tony takes a drag, then states with confidence,“Pimps up. Ho's down.” How do you even respond to something so backward? Shake my head. He laughs, “You're problem is you need some pussy clop.” He's right, but I don't agree with his terminology. Meanwhile the cigarette is burning down.
Nate says, “Are you going to pass that thing?” We all laugh, because we were all thinking the same.
Baby face Nate chuckles deep, and passes to Burt.
Pretty Tony says to Nate, “I know you get some.”
Nate says, “I get more than some.”
Tony, “I know you do.”
Nate, “What about you?”
Tony, “I give all my money to ho's.”
Burt takes a long drag, coughs it out, sour face. “I... got... my gir'friend...in Can-ton O-hio.” His boyish face smiles. He has bed hair.
Dennis says, “I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and my wife left me.”
I take as big a drag as I can, and pass it to Tony.
Dennis says, “Intercourse,” and chuckles.
Nervous about getting caught. “I'm going back in.”
Pretty Tony tells me, “They ain't gonna do nuthin,” as I climb back in.
Burt says, “Say goo'night.”
Brush teeth. Hear Ralph downstairs announce, “MED-I-CA-TION!” Hurry down to beat the rush.
Hippo comes up, so big I look like a troll. “I was here first.” Say nothing.
“My place,” he says with his big dumb face.
He yells at maximum volume, his whole head red,“I WAS HERE FIRST!”
Everybody looks. Let him go, just to be the bigger man. This isn't the money line, jackass; it's for medication. Guess he needs his. Can you blame him for being raised a pig?
Take two green and yellow capsules, Noeffenwayazil, just featured on the front page of The New York Times, “The New Miracle Drug!”
Read the ingredients of the cake mix again. It's hard to focus my eyes that small, but I can make it out, “Water, Bromated Flour--” How can water be the first ingredient for a dry mix? There it is: Hydrogenated rapeseed oil, a code name for trans fat. How can they say, “Zero Grams Trans Fat,” if it has trans fat?
Rich makes an announcement, “Guys, I have some sad news to report. Sonny passed away.”
I'm a murderer. A person is dead, because I didn't have a microscope on me, when I was selecting a box from the shelf.
Life is an ocean of sorrow and I don't have a paddle. Oh the bastardtution of my birth. The devil wants me to think evil thoughts, but reject them. Fugtropolous. Reject them. Dirty.
Everything is dirty, the whole world, soil, the thing rich people fight over, without which nothing could grow, composed of corpses and manure. You can't get away from it. It's everywhere. You might as well lick the floor. Life is dirty. The earth is dirt. It's not necessarily meant as an insult. The Earth will burn, I mean that in the best possible way. Stinking, filthronicus, filthitution, lousy nippin', jiskertutional, son of a spuchite— sometimes just can't make up words filthy enough to express the utter lowliness, the destitution, the unbearable darkness of being. It's not even them, it's me. Angry at the world. Angry at me. Just angry, afraid, and sad. Don't want to be.
Next morning rise and take shower. For some strange reason can't ejaculate. Give up after twenty minutes.
Descend the stairs.
Theresa cheers, “Yippie. We're going to Schwegman's.”
Rich counts the people, twenty, plus three staff. He drives the van. Theresa sits in front. Three people per seat in the back. Diane takes another load in her car.
We, a pack of special people, are set loose among The Consumers. Schwegman's is the Disneyland of supermarkets. Imagine fifty gourmet stores put together, for movie stars. Imagine a Wal-Mart for food. Imagine every kind of restaurant you can think of, all under one roof. Imagine the biggest fish market you ever saw, next to a line of salad bars, as far as the eye can see. They've got a pet store with a row of beauty salon chairs, dogs and cats sitting under hair dryers, while their nails are manicured. Too many kinds of bakeries to name. A car dealership and repair station. Fifty sushi chefs, lined up behind a counter the length of a football field, sing and chop in rhythm, while the wall behind them does a light show.
I feel funny paying seven dollars in food stamps for a small sushi plate that's only going to last about two minutes, but it's so good, and it's healthy. I should learn how to roll my own. By the time you buy all the ingredients, and chop them up, it's not worth it. If I make a big batch, I'll eat it too fast.
Remember: Stock up on fruits and vegetables, but not too much, because it goes bad, and you'll have to throw out half a cabbage. Buy a wedge of Stilton. Just what you plan to eat in one sitting.
A whole aisle just for cat food. Buy meat, but not too much. Too many choices. A whole aisle for bottled water.
Theresa is in the paper towel aisle, her face up against a wall of napkins.
Everything looks good. Don't buy too much. My budget is eight dollars a day, but I already have fifty in my cart. Everywhere you turn- gourmet cooking demonstrations and free samples. In the middle of the blue cheese aisle, a performance of Romeo and Juliet.
Want to eat everything. Feel bad I can't. Have to choose. Yogurt has good bacteria, but a single is so small I can finish it in my mind, before my hand can grab it.
Pretty Tony is at the little McDonald's. I say, “We're at Schwegman's, man. You can get any kind of specialty food in the world, and you're eating here?”
“Niggaz don't eat specialty food.” He takes a plastic tray with burger, fries, and soda. “I know what I like.” Sit with him a minute, then shop more.
Where else can you find a three ounce loaf of millet/hemp bread cooked by real monks in Uganda? It comes in a burlap sack, so you know it's authentic. Twenty dollars? The great whore of stores. A sign of the end times. An abomination. Overload.
Read the labels on everything first. If it has the word hydrogenated, don't get it. Put it back on the shelf with the ingredients facing out, so people can be warned.
Don't forget the budget.
Remember, I have to walk an hour to burn one cookie. Not worthy of love, unless have six-pack abs.
Feel bad because it will all be gone by tonight.
If I can just stick to an impossible diet for a year, then I won't be disgusting. Once they remove the excess skin. It must be nice, being one of those people, who already is okay. Why do I have to exert such effort, while others look good without having to do anything?
Some people aren't meant to be happy. I don't want to be one. Why did You curse me? Is this a test? How long will the test go on? Did I do something bad in a previous life?
They sure don't make it easy trying to read the ingredients. They print the letters so small, I have to strain my eyes. They purposely used red letters on a pink background to make it hard to read, because they don't want people to know.
So many hot successful women in here, it's pathetic. Don't get bitter, when their eyes shoot out “Don't bother me” rays. Thin people think they're superior. One day, justice. The law will require skinny women to date fat men. They don't have the right to think fat people are disgusting. Their cruelty is disgusting.
And stop obsessing about food. Exercise three hours a day. Must try harder. Must be entertaining. Under no circumstances be yourself.
When I'm rich and famous people will want to be my friend. Then I'll say, “Too late!” You had your chance. You mocked me. Now, who's better? Anyone who likes you, because you're famous, isn't your real friend anyway, especially me.
I'm on to their little game. If there's less than .5 grams trans fat per serving, they can call it zero. You think you're eating nothing, but you're really eating .49 grams. Those dirty bastards. Legally, it's not murder, if you can't prove a specific biscuit caused a specific heart attack, so flood the market with GreesBalz. Poor people can't sue, and it's even harder, when you can't move one side of your body, so poison away.
If we're stupid enough to allow this, then we deserve it.
Those companies feed off us, but then larger companies feed off of them...so you see: it all works out.
A big heart shaped box of chocolates. The wrapper seam conceals the nutritional information. They did that on purpose. This injustice shall not stand. Get the manager. “Excuse me. I can't read the ingredients.” She can't either, so peels the wrapper off. I say to the cashier, “Gee, do you think they have something to hide?” The manager hands it to me.
I raise my voice, so all the customers can be educated, “Thank you. . . . Ah hah! Fractionated Palm Seed Oil! I guess they didn't want anyone to know a SCHWEGMAN'S PRODUCT CAUSES HEART ATTACKS.”
The cashier looks at the manager. “What are we going to do? I'll take it.” She reaches in her pocket for change.
“I wouldn't. Hydrogenated oil.”
The manager walks away.
So, this is what it's like being a nut/pioneer. How else will people learn?
The spirit walks me over to the pharmacy. The tall, silver hair man behind the counter stands at attention in white lab coat.
“You guys have quite a racket here.”
He says, “Excuse me?”
“You sell food with trans fat in the front, and when people have heart attacks, you sell them medicine in the back.”
He just looks at me.
“Thank you.” I leave.
It's my fault for listening to a crazy person. But who says you're crazy? I do.
Food does not equal love.
You have emotions, you are not your emotions.
Men have eating disorders too.
I have a big heart, but nobody sees, all they see is a fat guy. Maybe they're right. I'm evil for hating. So stop. People should see my quality. Nobody said anything. You're talking to yourself.
Reading the labels on boxes of tea. This one is high in antioxidants. This one is good for the immune system. Fumble the boxes, try to put them back, but it creates a chain reaction, and the whole wall of tea boxes falls on me. Roll my cart out of the aisle casually.
Meet the group at check-out. Diane's perfect legs are highlighted by intricate pattern black lace. “Would you mind helping us carry these?”
I retort, “If I do, will you sleep with me?”
Pretty Tony hears and exclaims, “Ha,” with big winding grin.
She walks away. I know she's getting Rich.
Rich says, “You're suspended for three days.”
“What do you mean?”
“It means you can't come to the house til Sunday.”
“Where am I supposed to go for three days?”
Walk away. Into the ice cream aisle. Where the hell am I supposed to go for three days? In the toilet paper aisle. As a kid I used to build forts here. I used to hollow out a cubby hole, like this, and go inside, like this. Then use more to build a door.
Happy in my igloo. Free to think my thoughts and be alone with God.
They are not doctors. They are not licensed to practice psychiatry in New York State.
My life is the worst hell a man can know. No. Remember the wheelchair rule: You're not in a wheelchair, so be happy.
I see lady's legs pushing carts by. One takes a pack away from my door. I replace it. She cries with surprise, “Wha?” The wheels of her cart squeak louder as she hurries away. Soon after, I hear a group talking and approaching. They lift away my door. Two cops, and the store manager.
The tall female cop says, “Are you having fun in there, buddy?”
“I was til you guys barged in.”
“Alright, let's go.”
I climb out. “Where are we going?” As I turn, I see two ambulance drivers, a short woman, and a tall man. “Can I buy something first?”
The short male cop says, “No, you can't buy anything.”
With ambulance and police escort, pass the condiments. If I tried to make a break for it, they would beat me down with relish. As we exit past the registers, I see Rich talking to the store manager, all the people from West House standing together, watching. Pretty Tony holds up his fist and chants, “No justice. No peace,” as they take me away. Good one.
In Nevada, it's mostly quiet. The way it's supposed to be. Sand and rocks and glorious, glorious space.
Teaming with life, but not to the naked eye. Billions of micro-organisms. Millions of insects. The small ones get eaten by larger ones, who in turn get eaten by larger ones. The cacti have adapted to the slow pace. They wait patiently for the rainy season. Sometimes you see a reptile scurry by.
Unspoiled, as long as you're outside city limits. But The Great Neon Sin has metastasized. A factory sits like a tumor, out of place, on the beautiful desert. Big as a fleet of Naval destroyers. Blocks of buildings connected by ducts, walkways, and cables. Forklifts, conveyor belts, trucks, and hard hats, transport crates, and palettes. Teams in space suits moving drums labeled, “WARNING BIOHAZARD.”
The amount of logistics strains the brain. Someone had to design this plant. Someone had to build it. Someone has to run it. Someone has to decide how many supplies to buy every month, or week. Someone has to hire personnel. Someone has to calculate paychecks and taxes. It's amazing people are smart enough to figure all this out. Just stocking toilet paper in the bathrooms is a full time position.
They do it using the ancient geometry of the pyramid. People at the top organize. People in the middle supervise. And the rest do the work. Everything is broken down into a hierarchy. The power of organizing. It would be beautiful, if it wasn't so ugly. The facilities are so big that have their own police force and hospital. And this monstrosity, this mechanical snake squirming in the sun has a name: Capsulsgrave Confections Plant #90210.
Inside, the machines produce, package, box, and crate thousands of cookies and candies per second: Biskit Buddies, Ga-Ga-Roos, Hexachocolators, Lezmends, Skuzzles, Yummer-Gummers, Mommy Munchers, GreesBalz, Gooey-Gummies.
The facility also has extensive research labs, full of glass tubes, and digital analyzers, chemicals, and scientists. One building is called The Zoo. Rows upon rows of animal cages, like a penitentiary, like a low-income high rise-—monkeys, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs, and rats.
Facing one long assembly line, a motivational poster of The Pretty Pie Girl is on the wall. She has her sleeve rolled up and she's making a fist. She's saying, “HARD WORK EARNS YOU VACATION DAYS.” Depressed face workers toss baby chicks into the grinder, without end. The long screw turns at a rate that never slows. You wouldn't want to get your hand caught in that thing. They have it a safe distance away, but it's scary looking. Those poor chicks. They don't suffer much. It grinds them so fast, they're dead in less than a second. In this life, if you die quick, you're ahead of the game. The workers wear gloves, not for protection, but to keep the blood off. There's no meat in the candy; they sell the chum to Chicken King, which is also owned by F.U.C.T., and makes chicken balls out of it. Capsulsgrave only uses the beaks, which give certain products the proper crunch, which people like.
Quality inspectors examine Mommy-Munchers all day long, making sure the nuts distribute evenly throughout the chocolate. Sometimes they form obscene shapes or words, in which case the offensive candy is tossed down a chute, where it is burned, sprinkled over land without a country, and then the earth salted. That's the official story. Unofficially, I've heard stories about the nuts spelling out messages, like, “Please help us,” and “Don't eat me.”
Some people do nothing but load thousands of packages of candy bars, and jelly beans, and sour balls onto trucks, all day long. Some drive the trucks that endlessly carry crates to trains, and ships. Sugar flows like the Amazon to every nation on Earth. Products could end up anywhere from Quezon City to Upper Mont Clair.
A thin, strong man with long stubble, wearing a Harley-Davidson t-shirt, carries a box of machine parts. “Hey Reynolds, I hear your old lady was out last night.”
Reynolds laughs. His hair is Jheri curled. He wears the uniform sleeves rolled up, the buttons undone down to his navel, showing his nice sweater and chain. Behind him is a big poster of the Pie Girl pointing her finger at the viewer. She's holding up her other arm, which is a bloody stump, severed at the wrist. The sign says, “It has been  days, since our last accident. BE CAREFUL.” The 0 is handwritten on a piece of paper, spotted with blood.
Reynolds mans a desk with hundreds of controls and numbers, but pays more attention to his tabloid with the headline, “BUSH MARRIES SAUDI PRINCE IN SECRET GAY CEREMONY!!!” In gravel voice he answers, “Never mind my old lady. You better keep your eye on your old lady.”
Neither notices the white rat exploring the floor around the computer. “If my lady looked as good as yours, I wouldn't take my eyes off her.”
“You're thinking about her right now, aren't you?”
Reynolds has a big smile revealing his gold tooth. “I sure am.”
They don't see the rodent run across the top of a keyboard, changing one of the many numbers on the screen from 155 to 284.
“Just make sure you keep it in your mind.”
“Oh don't worry.” The animal disappears into a space between computers. “I'm keeping it right here.” He taps his temple and laughs.
Wires run to the computer building, where electrons put on a big dance number, then out to the massive building they call The Oven, into one of the mixing rooms, and through a complicated tangle of pipes, to a giant computer connected to hundreds of nozzles which spray low frequency pulses into a whirlpool of purple batter. White flour constantly pours into the great tub from one conveyor belt, and white sugar from another.
One number, on a screen labeled BCAD, goes from 528 to 1937, increasing the pulse rate for one of the nozzles, which traces back to a tank labeled, “Preservatives.”
From the big mixing bowl, a large sewer pipe leads to another room, where a faucet squirts precisely timed dots onto a conveyor belt, which carries them through a gauntlet of machines faster than the eye, which dry, press, add nuts, mold into balls with star burst points, add red, white, and blue sprinkles, and harden into the final product-- Ga-Ga-Roos.
As soon as each is born, it is individually wrapped, boxed, and stacked in crates. A team of forklifts loads them onto eighteen wheelers all day.
What makes this batch different from other batches? Levels of 3-glycyl, 4-ethyl delicioustase benzene seven times normal.
An impressive network of trucks, ships, and trains, like a giant circulatory system, distribute the special cookies, along with millions of normal packs. A fleet of Capsulsgrave Carriers disperse into the traffic of rival delivery vehicles, post office jeeps, package vans, beer, soda, and water trucks. To every store in every corner of the city, to sit on shelves, and wait for people to buy them.
The chain leads to our mouths, where our bodies convert it to manure, which composts into soil, then grows into more sugar cane.
R-Wing. Portrait of a frightened little man. A man who grew up watching too much Twilight Zone. A man who believes every story ends with an ironic, moralistic twist, with Rod Serling coming out, cigarette burning furiously, summing up what went wrong.
Told the doctor I wanted to jump in front of a bus, but he didn't want to admit me.
“You don't think I have a serious illness?”
“On the contrary, Mr. Jostleplume, I think you're one of the sickest patients I've ever seen.”
He plays mind games. They admit me.
Sign in at the nurses station. “Name?”
“The biggest pain in the ass in this hospital.”
“If they try to put a chip in your hand, don't do it. It's the mark of the beast.”
A guy with long blond hair, who happens to be pacing by, nods in recognition.
“Who knows? It could be in the Pig vaccine, a nano-chip. They've been working on it for years. A micro dot of chemical on a postage stamp--”
“Mr. Jostleplume.” The nurse holds a mini clear plastic cup with a half-green-half-yellow capsule. Swallow it.
“--and when you lick it, you go on a twenty-four hour killing spree, and the next day you don't even remember.” Drink some water. “Makes you think about licking a stamp doesn't it? Any hoo.” The dinner cart happens to be next to me, and I secretly steal a metal fork, and hide it in my pants.
“And what about high frequency light pulses? The military has been using them for years. It was first used to sell beer. That gives you an idea of how well it works.”
“Thank you.” She throws the cup out and sprays her hands with sanitizer.
Go to the exit. Try to pick lock with fork.
Walk the hall. The hospital is a near death experience, maybe a full death experience.
Beverly Hillbillies is on. When I watch TV, it doesn't matter who I'm am. I could be a millionaire in a mansion.
A thin guy watches with me. We're both in green gowns and brown booties. His hair hangs straight, trimmed straight across the shoulder. We're both born February 5, but he's two years younger.
He laughs. “Granny's wearing Army boots.”
“When you're hiking, you've got to have good shoes. I was in the Snowchester Mountaineering Society.”
“When they sunk the Lusitania, Fox, they say it was the coal bunkers that exploded.”
“The mud in the trenches was so deep, it was over their boots. I know these things. I'm Jumping Jack Flash.”
“Mr. Jostleplume.” The doctor interrupts us. “I'm Dr. Patel. Can we talk? You're having a reaction to the Franafranil. We are taking you off, okay? We're gonna try Querasil.”
Jumping Jack Flash continues, “I was a ranch hand at the Wind River Ranch. You see, Fox, because I have good training I know about these things. . . They fired their machine guns so much, the barrels melted.” He shows a lot of teeth when he grins.
We watch the TV.
He perks up. “The Japanese had booby traps and spider holes.”
“If we ever got in a war with Japan all they would have to do is press one button, and all the electronic devices in the United States would explode. The results would be devastating. Or perhaps they just have tiny cameras. Unbelievable intelligence potential. Or perhaps its nanoweapons grade biospore with enough Pig's Disease to eradicate the world seven times over.”
“Can you imagine what it must've been like?” He sprays a machine gun with a big smile on his face. “Their guns melted.” It cracks him up every time.
The commercial comes on. Her again. “Take it from me, kids! Take it from me, kids. I'm the Capsulsgrave Pie Girl! I'm the Capsulsgrave Pie Girl! Take it from me kids!” It doesn't matter which channel; they're all in on it. “THE BEST WAY TO SHOW SOMEONE YOU CARE IS TO GIVE THEM A CAPSULSGRAVE PIE.” “Take it from me, The Capsulsgrave Pie Girl.” “I’m the Capsulsgrave Pie Girl!” “I’m the Capsulsgrave Pie Girl!” “REMEMBER KIDS- Love Equals Pie!” “LOVE EQUALS PIE!” “I’m the Capsulsgrave Pie Girl!” “Take it from me Kids!” “Love equals pie!”
Did you notice they play the same commercial over and over?
Each computer generated orange hair glistens as she bobs up and down in slow motion. She is a singing dancing pie- what a freakin' concept. A singing dancing pie- singing, ”Eat me. Eat me.”
“You know they designed the music to brainwash you?”
They know exactly what beat will produce maximum buying behavior in test subjects. Don't remember signing up to be a test subject? You did when you bought candy and didn't have your lawyer read the fine print. Have your doctor read it. Then your psychiatrist. If you still want it . . . you're me.
JJF says, “The winter saved them.”
“Love equals pie! Love equals pie! I'm the Pretty Pie Girl! I'm the Pretty Pie Girl! I'm the Pretty Pie Girl!” Spins, dances, and chirps with her pals, biscuits and tater tots, in complex choreographies, harmonies, and frequencies, as only a computer animated burst of ESB (Electronic Stimulation of the Brain) can. “I'm the Pretty Pie Girl. Have a piece of pie!” Sure it's cute. It's so innocent it took a team of engineers, lawyers, and marketers four years and seventy million dollars to develop. Just the voice. “I'm the Pretty Pie Girl” It's no accident the song pounds at exactly 2.2 beats per second. You have no idea what kind of CIA/Water boarding went to find the magic number. Didn't just pull 2.2 beats per second out of my quahahnya. Let's call it the 'buy a maximum number of cookies' frequency. For us lay types, let's just say it's a catchy tune. Oh it's catchy, all right.
“The Lusitania, Fox, the coal bunkers exploded.”
Then a different voice, a motherly, wise, honest voice interjects, “Mothers will be glad to know all Capsulsgrave Confections contain zero grams of trans fat per serving.”
I say loudly, “You've got to be kidding me.”
She says the words 'per serving' just slightly at a lower volume. Could The Great Whore have something to hide? Then she lies again, flat out in your face: “Always have, always will.” Dirty witch. How can they get away with this?
The spoons dosidoe with butter pats, and the teapot plays tuba and the cookies play brass. First it goes to R&D which is code for Special Ops.
“I want my Mommy-Munchers!” Mommy-Munchers are some bastardtution of chocolate and cheese. “Take it from me. I'm the Pretty Pie Gir---”
“SHUT UP!” Strain my vocal cords. What I get for being mad. She got to me. The thought makes me even madder. Get so mad I scare myself. How to express such vehement hatredtution in human language?
Look out the window. I can see the Forget-Me-Not festival. It looks like so much fun. Why did I have to be in the hospital in the summer?
The attendant announces, “SMOKING.” We line up, each get one cigarette. Did you ever see chimpanzees smoke? It doesn't take any brains. But don't judge. If people weren't so busy judging.
The smoking room is by far the most crowded, with more ashtrays than chairs. One has a huge mound of cigarette butts. It would make a sizable fire.
Timmy stands and talks with cigarette in mouth. “I shot seven consecutive three pointers. I was the leading scorer.” He looks like Tom Hanks with a blond afro.
Darlene says, “Nice, Timmy.”
“I was semi-pro. Triple A division. We were the champs for all of Albany and Schenectady region. You should have seen it.”
I say, “They've got courts here.”
“Three to four, Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'll shoot with you Fox.”
“Cool. I'm not good, but I try.”
Timmy smiles and laughs. “A for effort.” Takes a drag off his cigarette. “You're an officer and a gentleman.” Darlene takes a drag off hers.
A heavily grated window too high to reach lets the smoke out. Nobody could possibly escape out of it.
Timmy gets serious, “I was Lucan, the Lone Wolf. I was raised by wolves.”
Darlene says, “Oh Timmy, stop.”
“Mrs. Bachon and her evil step children adopted me. They were mean to me because I was the foster child. But I proved myself on the court.”
Timmy smashes out his butt, and places a fresh cig in his mouth. Darlene, who already had a lighter in her hand, lights him.
“Thanks, Sza Sza. My father was a commercial artist, but he died when I was young. I didn't really know him. I have a few memories of him teaching me to draw.” He sucks his tailpipe. “Horseborn is German. What are you, Fox?”
“I come from a proud people.” Did you ever hear anyone say they come from an unproud people.
Smoke. Enjoy fully. Must quit.
Timmy says, “Do you smell weed?” Yes. Is Jumping Jack Flash smoking pot, inside the hospital? It's a roll up. You'd think it'd be easy to tell the difference by the smell, but it isn't. The nurse comes.
“What are you smoking?”
Jumping Jack Flash is innocent like a child. “I got some leaves from that tree outside.”
The nurse says, “No, I'm sorry,” and takes away his cig and ashtray.
Timmy says, “Give him one of mine.”
JJF says, “Thanks, Tim.”
The orderly comes up to me, “What are you doing?”
“What's this?” He gestures to my hand which plucks a hair from my eyebrow with a vibrate twirl maneuver known as a MacAllister.
“You need to stop.”
“I can't touch myself?”
“You're not allowed to hurt yourself.”
“I'm not hurting myself. I do this all the time.”
“You are not allowed to harm yourself.”
“I'm not harming myself. It's a complex motor tick.”
“No, it's not.”
“Well I like doing it, and I'm going to keep doing it.”
“If you don't stop, we will be forced to put the restraining jacket on you.”
So they put me in a straight jacket.
Sorry I'm crazy. Not half as sorry as me. Your brain is in a loop of damaging itself. Brain: stop damaging yourself. Different kinds of damage. Anger, sadness. Still, damage is damage.
Picking, The Seven Pillars of Picritution, Advanced Picrionics, IAP(Instrument Assisted Picritution,) Olympic Picathlon, the picritude of it all.
Nobody says, “I want to be mentally ill when I grow up.” Nobody wants their daughter to marry a guy with mental illness. Don't listen. Depressed. Pay no attention to the ravings of a lunatic.
I'm happy with the simple things. Clouds make me happy. Try to help people. Make a positive influence on society. It's just I hate people so much. Go about their lives so happy, don't care about the poor. Chug beer and yell, when a goal is scored.
Part of me is jealous, and part is glad I'm not like them. They're so happy to pay extra just to be away from the lower class. They give their kids all the advantages over the poor kids. They live behind gates, just to keep the poor from stuff they don't need or appreciate. If you can't tell your family what you did for the money, then it's blood money. Explain how everything was perfectly legal, and we have the best system in the world. Explain why everyone went along with it. Favors for your co-conspirators won't count for much.
I'm no better. Don't want to hate; want to love.
After about five minutes the guy says, “If we let you out, can you control yourself?”
In the room next to mine is a young guy, tall and skinny. He always has a grin on his face. He washes his hands, takes seven paces away from the sink, then circle back, and washes them again, all day long. His arms are red to the elbows. Each time he throws a brown paper towel into the trash. His room is full of discarded towels.
I can recognize similar tendencies in myself, but not to such an extreme. That's why they put us together. We're both OCD cases. I'm as compulsive as he is, just in a different form. This is what my life has become. I'm a mental patient. I'm locked in a lunatic asylum.
It's not that bad. People here are mostly normal. Most, you couldn't tell by looking they were psychos. But even here I don't fit in. They have normal jobs, and kids. I'm the oddball.
Look at the psychiatrists. I was supposed to be one. When I was in college it was my plan. I chose psychiatry because the brain is the greatest of the organs, and because psychiatrists work the fewest hours of any specialty. The real reason, which I had no inkling of, was that I was mental, and trying to cure myself. My whole career was decided by unconscious forces. I really do belong here.
I always knew I felt bad, but I thought, if I would just try harder, if I would just learn how to be fun and popular, if I could just get in shape, if I could just get accepted to medical school, then I could be a winner. People would love me, and I would be a kind and generous king.
I still could go back to school. Maybe the doctor will give me a recommendation. What am I talking about? My life is ruined. I'm as good as dead. Worse than dead. I have the mark of shame. Wacko looks terrible on a resume.
They treat us good here. I'm grateful they're trying to help me. We have a nice clean environment. There's a rack of clean gowns and towels we can help ourselves to. When our clothes get dirty we just throw them in the hamper. The food is great. We can have whatever we want. At night there is a refrigerator full of milk, and ice cream cups, and soda. I make myself ten ice cream sodas a night.
After dinner, 4pm, they dim the lights, because it's time to wind down for bed. I explore, my brown booty socks silent and slippery on the polished floor. Look at the cool instruments. Try to figure out what they do. Watch the nurses. I like the quiet time. Sit on my bed. Mostly nothing happening. Every so often a nurse will walk by, or a patient. A girl with short curly hair, in gown and booties, four inches taller than me, comes over to me. She smiles. I smile. She stands close. She pulls closed my curtain door. We are alone. We kiss. Touch her large breast. A nurse is coming; she leaves.
Nothing like this ever happened before. If I knew the mental hospital was the magic secret to getting women, I would have lost my mind years ago.
The next morning in art group draw a picture of a cupid for my girlfriend. Stand up. I feel something. Walk around. Have to walk. The Querasil is making me antsy. Can't take this. I want to crawl out of my skin. The nurse has me take a warm bath to calm down, which helps. Ants in the pants. Ants in the pants. Pace the hall and read the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-3 all day; two productive things at once.
At nine, the nurse says, “You can't walk anymore today. It's time to go to bed.”
“I need to walk.”
“Everyone has to be in bed.”
“I'll go outside.”
“You have to go to bed.”
“Sorry, but I need to walk.” They call security. Now on Lithium.
They weigh all the patients on the floor. I'm the heaviest, 281, a new record high for me. One meal a day. All you need. Go to a nice restaurant. The rest of the day drink water. Or eat two medium meals. One at 9am and one at 5pm. Or three. One at 9. One at 12. One at 5. Or better, one at 9. One at 3, and one at 9. Four meals is one every four hours. Analyze for an hour. A person only needs a medium portion at each meal. Any more than that is excess, unnecessary. All I have to do is stop having seconds. Think of all the money I could save. Think how happier I would be. Think how much I could accomplish, if I wasn't spending all my time dieting.
At night activity winds down. The lights dimmed. Play cards. Two patients against two staff. My partner James tells me how to play.
The staff are regular players and brag, “We got this.”
I suggest, “If we win, can we have a soda?”
James adds, “If we win, I want to smoke a cigarette.”
They're not allowed to bet, but they can sure boast. They make fun of me, because I played a two of hearts. “Amateur move. Amateur.”
Somebody should have told these guys that cards is just a stupid game that wastes time.
The one guy says, “Send ya back to Arkansas.” That was kinda funny.
We remain silent. We win. They quiet.
James says to me, “We could get a Boston.”
“What's a Boston?”
“If we run all the tricks in a row, we win the whole match.”
“Come on Boston.”
James, “Come on Boston.”
We say, “Come on Boston.” We win again. Our chants,“Come on Boston” grow in intensity. We keep winning, and chanting.
Yes we did it. It's a Boston.
“Boston! . . Boston!. . .Boston!....Boston!” We yell like maniacs.
Every day read, jog around building, do push ups. Lady tagged, “REC AIDE,” tells me I can go to the work unit. Ten cents an hour. We take an elevator to the space big enough for a whole factory, but only two desks. She has me take a seat. Up by the ceiling, through the small windows, a clear view of bright clouds, the sunny skies of success. My table has stacks of paper- one white, one blue, one red, one green, and a stack of envelopes. A basket next to it.
“Please take one sheet from each pile fold together and stuff in the envelope, then toss in the bin.”
It gets repetitive fast. One, two, three, four, fold, stuff, throw. One, two, three, four, fold, stuff, throw. One hundred percent enthusiasm. Brave new career. If I demonstrate superior ability who knows where it could lead? Jostleplume International Industries. Jostleplume Enterprises Unlimited. Maximize efficiency of motion and race as fast as possible. Throw last envelope and announce, “Finished!”
The attendant takes my bin. I breathe hard. Wait. She calculates, probably a record.
She'll probably say, “Mr. Jostleplume, based on your outstanding performance, we've decided to offer you an executive position.”
She comes back with the bin. “What we would like you to do is take these envelopes-- in each one you will find four sheets of paper. Take out the pages and separate them into four piles-one for white, one for blue, one for red, and one for green.
“You mean the envelopes I just stuffed, you want me to unstuff?”
“Do you think you can?”
They have me doing a pointless task. Oh the uselessness of life! “No problem.” I blame the lawyers, and of course the politicians. Most of all myself for being such a Big Blamer. Oh, the unbearable sadness of being.
After ninety days, the nurse finally stamps my hand, “SANE.” Walk past the guard nurse, display my badge hand with the letters upside down. She unlocks the door.
Demonstrate my sanity by saying, “Have a nice day.”
Just a free citizen walking in a hospital. Feels good. The last maze- find the exit. Walk past a group. Zoom in on the one attractive woman. Hello Sunshine. Two security guards fifteen feet away. They don't hassle me. Just walk. Didn't do anything. Nobody knows I'm a mental patient. I'm not a mental patient. I'm a free citizen. Go through automatic doors. Outside. It's a beautiful day. Huzzah.
Life is good. Have my own room on a quiet clean street next to the expressway concrete sound barrier. The steps are newly constructed, unpainted. You can see the nails. Beggars aren't choosers. This makaloo puts up sheets of drywall, creates five-by-ten rooms, and charges us three-twenty-five a month. We share the kitchen and bathroom. Not as clean as the hospital. My window faces the front porch.
Sit lotus position on the front step for hours. Watch the cars and people go by, watch the birds and squirrels, look at the intricate beauty of the clouds and trees.
A car passes, radio playing a commercial for Lezmends. “Girls! What do you get when you combine intense lemon flavor with double-X-shaped lady fingers with real artificial bacon flavor?”
A mob of girls scream, “Lezmends. Lezmends. Lez be friends.”
Go for a walk and practice ancient art of scangroundformoney. It's good when you have absolutely nothing to do. A whole Zen thing. Could write a book about the science of finding money, would be awesome, but would have to develop a system first. Best spot to look--sewer drains.
The ashtrays outside office buildings are a good spot to find butts. Twenty or thirty good long butts. They take a couple of drags and leave the whole thing. You can find huge cigar butts outside the Cigar Store. You can smell that place a block away. If I was really clever, I would quit smoking. Finding a whole cigarette on the ground is a lucky feeling. One time I found a whole pack of Camels in the rain. They were soaked, so I took them home and dried them on my radiator. Turned out to be one of the best I ever had. I think the water must have washed all the mind control chemicals out. Even when I'm out of tobacco I wouldn't smoke those little brown cigarette cigars. Those things are nasty.
Every time I see a van, alarm bells go off, “SERIAL KILLER SERIAL KILLER.” Maybe I watch too much TV.
You can tell things about society from the garbage in the gutter, mostly cigarette butts and used lottery tickets. A lot of drug bags. There must be a lot of people doing drugs. If you collected all the traces it would add up to a sizable amount of brain damage. And, of course, fast food wrappers. Some people think the street is a garbage can. Ignorant scum. It's not their fault. Their parents were ignorant scum.
The Tao of Garbage Picking, a real religion. Recycling. Save what was lost. A way of life. Sometimes kids make fun. Stupid parents.
Try to walk at least a couple of hours a day for exercise. A beautiful day. Plenty to be grateful for. The lawns are well kept. The trees are varied each in its own way. Sidewalk is slate. An excrescence of hedge blocks the way. Snap the twig. Leave it dangle as a sign. Look over shoulder in case someone says, “Hey don't touch my tree.”
Walks can lift depression, but fast walks create road rage. A car pulls out of the driveway and blocks me. He didn't time his whole day just to cut in front of me. I should lose it. I should pound on his hood with my full strength and yell, “You son of a bitch!” Pass in front of the big car. If he floors it, I'll be killed. Of course he'll lie and say his foot slipped, but we'll know the truth. The smell of exhaust sickens. It represents fire, warfare, hell.
A guy walks from the other direction, three blocks away. We are on a collision course. Will he pass on the right or left? With cars it's the right, but no rule for pedestrians. Signal my intention. Get over to the right. He is tall, in his thirties, dressed like a preppie. No hostility. He will pass easy. Look him in the face. Connect souls.
A young girl five blocks away, walks on the same side as me. Don't change. Neither does she. Impact in ten, nine, eight. Neither turns. We look each other in the eye. She goes around. I beat a little girl at a game of chicken. What's wrong with me? What's wrong with kids? Doesn't she know you're supposed to pass on the right? I should have turned. The incident is over. She has already forgotten. No harm done. Wanted to say, “sorry you were abused as a child,” but thankfully didn't. People roam like savages. The utter tragedy of the human condition. She's gone, but what if she snuck up and punched me in the back of the head? Couldn't argue.
I know I'm an idiot, but what good does it do?
People told me not to put myself down, but didn't listen. Why do I have these thoughts? I dissolve in a vat of acid. But so many hateful things going on. How can I not notice them?
Pass a girl with a pirate tattoo, then a bar called “Nasty's.” The church people were right, rock n roll did bring the moral destruction of society.
A woman walks ahead of me. Change sides so she doesn't think I follow.
Need to be more fun.
Stop by the store on the way back. Not Rick's Stupid Store. Could, but I hate that effen place. The meat is spoiled. Go to Wrong-Mart, the closest store that isn't Rick's, a national chain. At least their cans don't have dust on top. Hate here too. The big corporation has robbery down to a science.
Can't buy apples, they have pesticides. Remember mostly grains. Everything good has hydrogenated oil. Hersey bars are the one thing I can have. Break down and buy a box of fried chicken with eighty grams of trans fat. I can get out 99% with paper towels. It's already illegal in California, why are New Yorkers so stupid. Why is nobody outraged?
Walk back home, read my loaf of 'Ancient Grains from the Bible' bread. “Ingredients: Flax seeds, whole grain oats, whole grain wheat, whole grain corn, hydrogenated Canola oil!!! SON OF A BITCH. They got me again. It's my own filthy fault for not reading every single word. Scatology 101: Those dirty scunspunsules.
The Pie Girl, on the corner of the bag, laughs at me. She got me. Righteous Farms is a subsidiary of Capsulsgrave Confections of North America. Stare her in the eye. It's all her fault. All of my life's failures are her fault. Don't believe, but feel like saying.
Don't blame her. She's just the pawn, the prostitute, a victim. The real villains are the pimps who get the big money. The ones who will burn in hell for a million years are those rich guys, who smoke their cigars and laugh at us poor schnooks gorging ourselves on slop.
Nobody cares about trans fat. They say, “But it tastes good.” It takes years to cause a heart attack, so stuff your brains out.
Walked for two hours. Sit on the front steps and observe the universe. All is serene. A car pulls up. A guy about eighty gets out, goes to his trunk, takes out a food container and comes up the porch. “Howard Games?”
I point upstairs.
He announces himself, “Meals On Wheels.”
Howard instantly opens his door. “Coming. I'm coming.” Howard is beautiful, seventy, short, fat, and bald. His cartoon voice is slow, but loud, “Chicken and rice. Good. Did you bring the extra milk?”
“I just deliver the bags.”
“Yes. They're here.”
“Have a nice day.”
“Thank you.” Howard goes in his room. Meals on Wheels. Pretty sweet.
Watch people go by for hours. Have a perfect view of the expressway billboard. A white background with the gigantic symbols,
♥ = π
Stare at it for hours.
Scufo comes down. He has long hair and is tall and thin like a scarecrow, with a deep voice.
“You've gotta come see.” We go up to Howard's Room. Rod, who has an afro and looks very strong, laughs. Howard stands in the hall, unusual.
Scufo opens the door and says, “Go in.” The room is just big enough to hold a bed. You have to squeeze to walk around the bed. The top of his one dresser is packed with bottles of various cleaners.
“Just go in.” Stick my head in. Then it hits me, a smell like chemical weapons, This was no ordinary funk.
Rod chuckles, “You can't mix bleach with ammonia.”
Scufo reads the label, “Bleach.”
Pretty Tony comes over while I'm cooking fried chicken.
I tell him, “You lucked out.”
“Tracy got all my money.”
I shrug. “Oh well.”
He repeats, “Oh well, busted a nut.”
I keep a stack of paper in the kitchen. I put down a few sheets and lay the chicken down to drain the grease.
Kitty keeps crying for chicken.
“Yes, baby. Yes, baby. Poor Missy. Poor, poor, Licky.”
I say to Pretty Tony, “Are there any churches close by?”
“What am I supposed to do in a church?”
“Meet a good woman, with a job, and a car.”
“Nah, man, a woman like that you need, at least, six bills a week. Two jobs.”
I take a piece for Kitty, and throw it across the room. She goes after it, and claims possession by carrying it in her mouth to a comfortable spot.
“Can't you ask Pace Chitkin for more hours?”
“They already said I have all the hours I'm gonna get.”
“Well what are you supposed to do?”
“I told you, two jobs. Six bills a week.” He picks up the library book I have on my desk, and reads the title, “Operations Research, you're a smart muther.” He laughs.
“I want to go back to school.”
Pretty Tony says, “Me too. Microbiology. But I have to ease into it.” He takes a sip of soda out of his big cup, hiding his face. “Besides, school costs money.”
“You could get financial aid. You can get a book from the library, and study on your own.”
“Nah. Put in a movie.”
He wants me to put a XXX movie in, but I put in Dennis Rodman, which is a surprisingly good movie.
Kitty sits on Pretty Tony's lap, and his triangular hand pets her. The VCR is balanced on top of the TV with the cover removed. I stick a screwdriver in, while it's playing, and adjust the tape guides.
Pretty Tony says, “That's good enough. Damn.”
I'm so used to watching a picture with static and double images, I don't even notice it.
Scufo plays guitar and sings and scores with the ladies.
Notice empty crack bag in hallway. Those guys are so stupid. It's like saying, “Hey police, over here.” It's a cry for help.
Night. Finished the cheese too fast. A three pound bag should have lasted a whole family a month. Once I start, I'm obligated to finish. I say to myself over and over, “You don't need anymore, YOU FAT PIG,” but it doesn't work. Every night for forty years. People work and save, have children and houses, and here I waste my life. Why don't I just stop eating? It's not that complicated. Every moron in the street who calls me Fatso knows that.
Buy healthy foods, exercise, and plan new diets. Why does life suck? I have to change entirely, just to be okay. This stuff writes itself.
Nagging doesn't work. Stop eating. Save some for tomorrow. Those cookies sit in my pantry and burn a hole in my head. It's a choice.
I didn't choose this.
Eat normal portions. No seconds. I can eat anything as long as I stick to one serving. Not two, not three. Not five. Why do I need five hot dogs to be happy? Normal people are happy with one. And then I'm still not happy.
Also, it's about the grains. Mostly grains, mostly rice and oatmeal, and corn and wheat, then vegetables, then fruits, then a little meat or cheese, and no sugar. And, of course, absolutely no hydrogenated oil.
Dodger lives downstairs. He has short curly blond hair. He gets in fights often. Has a pretty nice looking girlfriend. The criminals always have the hottest women. He's tripped out. He's pacing the kitchen, clenching a hammer.
Later he carries a big TV out the house, and comes back with a blood covered face. Some guy hit him with a baseball bat. He's drunk, “Come with me Fox, help me get those guys.”
“Sorry man, way too violent for me.”
These poor kids in the street. This is all they know. The mother next door slaps the little girl's hand. No wonder they kill each other.
Make a bow and arrow from wire hangers and rubber bands to occupy myself. With my door open, I can shoot my couch from fifteen feet.
Les' door is open. Ten people inside one room. A little guy on his hands and knees searches the floor. His big buddy tells him to stop and slaps his cheek, red. A few seconds later the small guy is down on the floor again. The large guy slaps him again.
Les comes in the hall and says,“Call the police. I got ripped off.” He goes in his crowded room. Jude throws him through his own front window onto the lawn.
Howard is moving because his Meals on Wheels have been stolen. “You guys want any before I throw it out?” Mostly junk. Several good butcher knives.
Rodney, “I'll take one.”
Scufo, “I'll take one. You want one?”
I take one.
Scufo, “Look at us all with knives.”
Dodger and I play a game. I stand in front of the concrete barrier and he tries to nail me with the soccer ball from across the street. All I do is move out of the way like Kung Fu, but he got me a couple of times.
Turns out everyone here is a crack head, except for a couple of pot heads, and one glue head. Must write letter to hospital. This is a bad environment for recovery.
Stuk walks quickly, sometimes dances, sometimes stiff, down the street his guitar in one hand, a tie dye t-shirt. His Einstein-hair head down.
“Pete just ripped me off.”
“I gave him sixty dollars, and he goes in the house and never comes out. We saw him look through the blinds.”
Knock on Scufo's door.
Crack open his door. He is under the covers with a beautiful young black hair girl. Take a good look at her. She giggles.
“Hey Scuf, got a smoke?”
“Sure bro. Remind me to play my new song for you later.”
“Thanks dude.” Scufo is cool. He's in a band. Whatever.
Nothing to do one day I go over to the billboard in an area of grass between highways. It's a cool little world nobody goes. I touch the board and put my face close. I see little blue, red, and yellow dots. The heart is mostly red dots, but blue and yellow too. Even the white has all three color dots. The letters are taller than me.
Evening in bed. “Venus! Venus!” Scufo pounds my cheaply constructed door, “Have you seen my cat?”
“Let me in. Is Venus in there?”
“She's not here.” I am not getting out of bed.
“Let me in.”
“She's not here. Go away.”
He punches a hole through the center of my door and sticks his face through just like Jack Nicholson.
“I can't believe you. Are you insane?”
“Just wanted to see for myself.”
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Can smell the airplane glue. Walk to corner pay phone. Call the cops. Scufo goes to jail, because he was already on parole. I take care of his cat for him! Life is sad.
I love Kitty. Kitty is my baby. My little Whiskanippins. Kitty is my Lady McLickins, my Princess Catatina. Miss Pink Lips. Kitty is gray and white like Bugs Bunny, with pink lips and toes. The prettiest cat in all the land. She's a little runt. Chicken Lickin'. Nipper mittens. Honey pie.
Dennis gives me countless cigarettes, and buys me many steak subs, never asking for anything in return. He's got a car, a place with nice furnishings, a tapestry of a leopard roaring on a mountain peak, and a male longhair cat, who's always trying to get outside. He likes driving out to the park.
See a sign on a light pole, “Make your mark on Snowchester. Money Walk.” An art contest. If you win, they engrave your design on the sidewalk. Cool. Write down the information.
Got the runs, so they take me off Lithium, and put me on Normalcil.
Nedwina, my case manager, recommends a club, Operation Food. I can eat lunch and dinner, do chores, go to movies and picnics, play pool or bingo. Work units.
It's a mansion five times bigger than West House. Ten staff and a hundred members, ages eighteen to eighty, all types of dress. Den rides a motorcycle and wears a black leather jacket. He has a hot girlfriend. Sherri is hot too. She has a boyfriend too. He also wears a leather jacket. The big secret. Sandy is adorable. The hot ones never like me.
Mostly people just smoke and eat.
A miracle happens. For some reason I hit it off with Rosa. We talk and laugh. I don't feel self-conscious! We sit on the lawn. Talk and laugh. I'm relaxed and having fun with a girl. Holly the bookkeeper comes over and tells us, “You can't do that.” Thanks a lot, Holly.
Went to a party when I was ten. Too shy to dance at first, but I talked myself into it. Eventually I built up enough courage to walk on the floor and dance. It was fun for a moment. The song ended. The party was over.
Over the years I had girls who liked me, but for some stupid reason I didn't jump their bones.
Julian announces, “We can't eat until someone takes mopping.” He used to play pro football. The staff nags for ten minutes before Jerry volunteers. Always the good people. He looks like Bob Hope.
Theresa prepares to raise her hand. She has short black hair and wears a sweater. She adjusts her body and makes vocal sounds. She speaks loud, “I... can... do... the napkins.”
“Thank you Theresa.”
Theresa continues, “I like... to mop. I mop... all the time... at home.”
“We need someone to sweep upstairs. We can't eat until someone volunteers for upstairs.”
Leonard's voice is high-pitched and choppy. “I'll have to do it.”
“Thank you, Leonard.”
Leonard giggles. He's young, thirty, bald.
Theresa chimes up again, “Are we going... to Albany... again ...this year.?”
Robert looks like a banker. He answers, “Luis has the sign up sheet.”
Theresa, “Good. Good. Oh I love going to Albany.”
Leonard, “Maybe we'll see Governor Pataki.” He emphasizes the tak in Pataki.
Julian, “Oh Leonard, go do your chores.”
Leonard giggles, “You go do your chores.” He giggles more, “Julian and I are friends.”
Hand out trays, call people's names. “Boris Garrett.”
“Thank you.” Boris is in his seventies, “Anyone who smokes is a suicide case.”
“Theresa Hand,” I announce, pronounce, and enunciate, at correct volume.
“Thank . . . you.” She stretches out what she says. Her voice is clear and loud, maybe because she's visually impaired. Her white cane leans against the wall, at its end is a ball. I can see dirt on it, where it touches the floor.
Would I want to be her? Would she want to be me? We can only be ourselves. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, the worst hell a man can know. Thank God it's not worse.
The principle of OCD is to suffer as much as possible without going to the point of suicide, which would end the suffering. OCD means you think too much. Spend all your time planning and none doing. OCD means forty years old and no girlfriend. OCD means always having to say you're sorry. It must be a test of God. Your own mind tortures itself. I'm not the only one with problems. Stop being selfish.
Work in the kitchen. Stay productive and close to food. First thing every morning fill the stainless steel double sinks. The counters and refrigerators are stainless steel too.
We cook five trays of roast chicken. I wash the five large trays, scrape with spatula, and eat whole bowl of drippings. Awesome.
Don Ding is at one of the round six person tables. He's a hippy social activist. He wears a red headband. His hair goes down to the middle of his back. He says, “Remember to vote everybody. Keep those cards and letters coming.”
Back home, receive call--won contest. My drawing will be on the sidewalk. MoneyWalk is awesome, the nation's first Outdoor Museum of Economics and Politics. If I die today, at least I accomplished one good thing. A drop of water to the thirsty. Public art is cool.
Inspired to write a letter:
Dear Capsulsgrave Confections,
I am a regular customer of your 74-ounce Southern Bucket® chicken, normally buying three or four boxes a week.
I am appalled and outraged to discover it contains hydrogenated oil!!!
Please remove hydrogenated oil from all your products immediately, so I can resume buying them as soon as possible. Thank you.
Walk to corner mail box. The letter in my hand could change the world. Creak door twice to make sure it went down.
TO BE CONTINUED
Foxavier and Plinka is available on AMAZON and KINDLE