I had been following a winding path through the woods for hours when I heard his TV playing in another room. The voices sounded frantic. He had been watching the news throughout the day with his mother in hopes of seeing the world end. It was the most important thing and almost a secret.
I said, “Hey, man, you all right?”
He said “Hi,” but that was it.
An ominous crowd of birds perched on power lines. Leaves fluttered down. The streets named for trees were being renamed with numbers. I was unusually touched by the gesture as I had just recently seen a demonstration of robots versus Kung Fu. By the time I got back, autumn was trending on Facebook. Some called it suicide. Others called it justice. It was shaped like a combat boot.
Voodoo Never Dies
A woman on the verge of tears steps out from between the giant columns into the last of the light. She whines that she wants to sign my petition. No time! The sky is erupting in the distance in purples and yellows and reds. My eyes fog up at the sight of it. The ancient Chinese recommended the healing power of a dog’s saliva. I hurry on, clutching to my chest a small dog that doesn’t realize he’s missing.
Here on Gilligan’s Isle
A dyed blonde who buzz cut her bush calls in to ask how long before her pubes grow back. It used to be a lively topic of debate, who would you rather fuck from Gilligan’s Island, Ginger or Mary Ann? Someone always said Mrs. Howell. The hotline hums with the characteristic themes of isolation and escape. More than one caller threatens harm. Another suffers from an irrational fear of thunder. Being connected only seems like sharing. Throughout the downpour, shipwrecked sailors search for ship timber in the debris of Flint, Michigan.
How I Lost 117 Pounds!
I wore thinner pinstripes. I took to avoiding weighty moral issues. I shed layers of guilt by giving up excessive introspection. I eliminated words ending in “e-a-t” – meat, buckwheat, overeat, etc. – from my vocabulary. I stopped filling my pockets with the anti-crazy pills I only rarely need. I exposed myself to rough treatment that scraped inches off my ego. I limited my intake of salty ironies to one or at most two a week. And when all that still wasn’t enough, I sweated far into the night dreaming of a tree on fire.
Who You Are, Really?
Even the little blonde girl seated on the bus driver’s lap looks up at you with a bitter expression. Posters lining the interior of the bus advertise one or another of eight explosive facts about orgasms. If you’re at all like me, you imagine a difficult future in which you need help with when to use @ and when to use # on Twitter. You hop off the bus before anyone in the crowd of passengers can ask who you are, really. Shadows form an extensive part of the architecture of the neighborhood where you live. A stranger in a belted leather coat appears to be flexing his trigger finger just outside your door. It’s someone’s responsibility to create this mood of anxiety, but until now, you never suspected that it was yours.
Murder by Suicide
The country didn’t exist except on maps. Patriots crisscrossed the landscape. We were waved down at checkpoint thousands of miles from the nearest Starbucks. A guard with a machine gun strapped across his chest demanded to see our papers. At the time we attributed the whole thing to the effects of cell phone withdrawal. Scientific fact – a zebra stood on the building’s roof. It made me feel that someone was trying to follow us. In an attempt to save himself, our translator jumped in front of a train. We were finally underway again when I caught sight of a faded smile that looked like his descending by parachute.
Astronomy for Idiots
Everyone said, “Just be yourself,” and so I pointed at various stuff with the neck of my beer bottle. Wispy white clouds clung to the top of the ziggurat. She leaned into me without seeming to ever get any closer. I almost asked, “Is that your gizmo?” Back at the house I wrote down what I could remember from college about red giants and white dwarfs. It was like having to use a nonexistent word in a sentence. Rain doodled on the windows while I strained for a thought. I stood up and closed the shades. Astronomers would later conclude through spectrum analysis that we all carry small pieces of Africa in our pockets.