Now confusion hath made its masterpiece. ~MacBeth.
1. Running for the Getaway Car
I was stomping cartons outside Jose's store on the avenue this morning so the guy Jose comes out and he says hey what the fuck you doing?
Hey, come on. What the fuck it look like I doing? I crushing the cartons. I tell him.
He tell me you remember I told you yesterday you should never come back here and do this shit again? You remember I tell you what I gonna do to you ass if you come around here again doing this shit at my store?
I cut you motherfucker I cut you on your face so everybody know you a pato motherfucker. So you book outta here right away or I put that shit on you man.
Hey, fuck you asshole I tell Jose. I always crush these boxes. I best fucking box crusher on the avenue. You ask the blanco next door. The blanco he tell you I crush the cartons better than anybody else.
Jose he don't give a shit what I say he pull a box cutter on me and tell me to book now or he cut me in the face.
Okay man, I go I don't need this shit you don't want me crushing boxes by your fucking store that shit cool with me jack.
I walk away from this Jose motherfucker but I come back about a half hour later.
Now I got a twenty-eight ounce Heinz ketchup squeeze bottle I filled up with lighter fluid. Jose he behind the counter hammering and chopping some shit when I come up to him and he look up I say hello motherfucker.
Crushing boxes that shit cool with me I don't need you man but I come back with a pocketful of kitchen matches I boosted at the Key Food yesterday. Goes for the gun. Behind the counter Jose look up and see me come in with my hands behind my back got the Heinz ketchup squeeze squeeze bottle full of napalm palm I made from gasoline and Ivory liquid ketchup and lighter fluid.
Hammering and chopping some shit I come up to him smile hello motherfucker whip out the Heinz ketchup bottle douse him with my ketchup napalm then he goes for the gun he keeps under the counter. I expect that shit and he too slow anyway.
Before he can cook one off at me, I light a kitchen match and toss it on him setting Jose on fire. Jose burn up behind the counter stink up the store but I come back about a half hour later with a twenty-eight ounce Heinz ketchup squeeze bottle squeeze bottle set him set him on fire fire.
Okay fuck this shit the motherfucker had it coming but the man's already after my ass so I book down the Prospect Park F train station and I have to assume some Stan Laurel shit so I assume the Stan Laurel shit and the cop motherfuckers do not see me when they come down the subway in fact they ask me if I seen this young light-skinned black in big hat and dreadlocks in a Desert Storm jacket come booking down the stairs blue-eyed speaking German and I give them Stan Laurel face stun face.
No way I've been standing here for fifteen minutes in bullshit voice bullshit smile bullshit face bullshit laugh I haven't seen a thing and the cops they curse out the punk and go away.
The neighborhood too hot right now after what happened with Jose but all physical quantities carry dimension and in al-tawhid, the affirmation of unity, all things are permitted so you never get the mud off. Know what can happen. In the meantime, best thing is to get on the train and ride on up to the Bronx to explode some shit on the Grand Concourse. My man Fazood got some fine Paki girls up there, got poker machines in the back too.
So the train it come and I get on, still assuming my Stan Laurel shit because the man still around. I park my ass on a sign says priority seating for disabled only. Fuck that shit. I pass the time staring at my crotch and making the train stop at every station and the doors open and close.
Sometimes I make the conductor say strange shit in Arabic and shit I have him read from the holy Q'uran speaking from al-Jabarut the world beyond form. Nobody hears this shit but me because they have not assumed this shit that I have assumed they are not in Stan Laurel face.
On the D up to the Bronx , I take another seat and stick my legs out in the aisle so people have to walk around me or trip. I make the doors close and the train go forward and backward in the tunnel and I laugh to myself as I look around and check out my ride.
I have a lot of seatmates on my ride. My seatmate to the left is scratching an instant-win Lotto card. My seatmate to the right is playing bongos on the colorful orange Formica seat. My opposite seatmate makes snorting sounds through his nose and spits on the floor. Shut the fuck up. The fuck up. Now my left seatmate is laughing to himself and staring at me like he's thinking thoughts thoughts of negativity.
Fuck these seatmates. Shut the fuck up. What bullshit seatmates I got on this ride so I think I'm gonna explode some shit right here. Shut the fuck up. So I lean over and I ask my bongo seatmate spits where you steal your sneakers, man.
So he comes back with an attitude and I tell him to shut the fuck up shut the fuck up. Shut the. Shut the. Fuck up.
Make me he says.
Alright, you fuck with me you suffer the consequences so I drop Stan Laurel face and I reach into his heart chakra and squeeze his Heinz ketchup bottle full of lighter fluid ketchup bursts inside his chest and I have removed al-lubb, the Kernal from him and he is as nothing in the darkness rolling around on the floor and speaking in the tongues I have given him. Same punch killed Bruce Lee I tell him that I may milk the she-goat pain can heal and liberate.
Now I got to wash my finger. I do not need this action. I get off before the cop motherfuckers wait for me at the station and run down the tracks. Got to wash my finger.
Run up the stairway to the street and then climb out from under a ventilation grate somewhere in the Bronx by now. Got off the train and walked up the stairs to the mezzanine level where I wait in a corner till I see my man coming up the stairs.
Open the grate and climb out, see a delivery boy from a Chinese take-out place. Grabbed my man from behind and pulled out my switchblade, say shut the fuck up and gimme the money gimme everything blanco take his gold necklace, walkman and Chicago Bears leather jacket.
Shut the fuck up. Punch the delivery boy in the face and took his money and the bag of food. Slice him on the leg. Shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up. Slash his pockets. Take his money. Shut the fuck up. Escape with fourteen dollars and all the food. Shut the. Fuck Up.
Run down the street, cross the parking lot then cut into the playground and run across the highway, eating stolen Chinese food on the move. When I finish my Chinese, I'm at a strip mall where a guy's getting out of a Mitsubishi.
You want some of this Chinese food I ask the guy when he gets out of the car.
When he says he doesn't want my food I point to the car and I say, you know you just killed somebody under the car. He looks down and I hit him on the head with my boom box and take his car which I drive the rest of the way to my man Fazood's bodega.
Take the car and drive it into the back of a cement mixer pop the airbag. Drive the car to Canarsie and steal a fish tank. The car down to Fourth Avenue pick up a girl get a blowjob leave the car few blocks away from my man's bodega walk the rest of the way.
Fazood he in back cleaning out what never gets clean then he come back out soon meanwhile I start crushing the cartons he got piled up outside, stomping them flat under my boots. Mouths sewn shut. Waffle patterns of my dirty soles.
Ancient Egyptian serekh or sign. Shut the fuck up.
Who the fuck are you Fazood says when he comes out from the back of the bodega where he was doing his shit. You rob me last week?
I knew Fazood from this negative I picked up off the street and held to the sun and saw his face in the sky, hung from trees by the hair hooks through eye sockets. You never seen me before I tell him a statement not a question.
Al-kawnu insanum kabirun wa-l-insanu kawnun saghir cosmos is a big man and man a little universe.
Had this gallon jug of wine disintegrate on me before, he told me. Let's see your finger. He looked at my hands and said I was okay. All cut up, but that heals. Heard about the fierce shit came down on me before. The cops asking questions. You got to disappear for awhile, Fazood say. You got to swallow some pills. I got here. Made from the mud burrowing the bees in the mud I clean from the sun.
Opened the shopping bag took out the skull. That was mine. Still had the bullet in it. Small caliber. Heads capture their doubles, eating body over nine-day period. Outside the station, picked up the garbage can and carried it down the stairs. I remembered that one.
Put the pills in my hand. Told me to go downstairs. Chained to the bed for the last nine days getting injected inside a mud beehive tomb. Down the stairs. That shit heals.
Picked up the garbage can smashed it into the token booth window smash smash smash. Shut the fuck up and hand over the money. Shut the fuck up and gimme the money. Gimme gimmie. Shut the fuck up.
Ran upstairs with the cash and jumped into the tan station wagon with the busted rear fender driven by my self. The film I picked up negative dirt that will never wash off the pills the hands the finger. Fazood said to go outside and crush all the cartons I wanted. Keep me busy for weeks.
2. Keno Money
When it has been made a sphere, it continues a sphere. This I know now, because I have keno money. I had nothing then. I had simply tried to throw out the bread, which had become moldy in its plastic box. Solitude for the bread, and mold had arisen.
Three days bread, by itself, then sporulation. And then I came and took the bread and threw it out, sniffing the mold of sour odor and beginning to cough.
Will I too sporulate, because I had coughed? I did not want this, and so I went and took two Tetracycline capsules from the medicine chest, so that I would not sporulate like the bread.
In this when, before the hours of the blaring horns, this sporulated bread was gone, so I would have new bread which had not yet been changed by the spores into bread of sporulation. By the cool blue numbers, my clock showed me I could have this bread, since my corner bakery would be open.
Dressing in clean, fashionable attire, I went down to the level of my corner bakery, and was quite close when I saw a man, also cleanly and fashionably dressed, as myself, say to a woman, similarly attired, in a car, that it was really five in the morning. And I knew that he was right, for I recalled then that I had forgotten forgotten to push push my clock forward forward to the correct hour, so that I now lived one hour behind that hour in which I should normally live.
Behind myself now, I began to cough, and felt sporulation arise. The old bread I had thrown out, but I could not have the new. Despite Tetracycline, I was caught between the bread, sporulating before the time of the blaring horns, left an hour behind myself. Not in daylight savings time, nor in any other time. I had come loose like a thread, and this garment was existence. For I was caught caught between the between the bread, caught between the bread.
But there is a point when night crosses day, when from one minute to the next, it was night and now it is day, and this is before the hour of the blaring horns, and nothing can change this, not the bread nor the spores, nor daylight, nor savings.
In the unguessable arrangement of things, in the light of a fig which resembles a masked face glimpsed in flashes, as though through a translucent membrane lit by strobes of bright light through which pigeons fly to the sharp corners of rooftops cutting into the windshields of parked cars, I saw Angel push his shopping cart down the avenue.
"Hola, amigo," I said to Angel. "Que tal?"
"Da roof on fire," Angel said to me. "Last night. Da roof on fire. I call the cops. They no fuckin' come. Tonight, da roof be on fire again."
"Ay, chingao, amigo," I told Angel. "Fucked up. How you doin' this morning? You catch a plane yet, like I tol' you, man?"
"Da roof on fire."
"Forget the roof, man," I told Angel. "You got the long arms for it. Not like me. You just reach up like I show you before, and you catch that plane outta here."
"No man, not yet," Angel tells me back. "The roof on fire."
In a before of months, this fly, of a blue iridescence, had flown inside, despite my screen, liking empty Tostitos bags on floor, banana peel hung over TV antenna, toilet not flush, spore colonies in sink, pillow weeping like slim dog.
And so I had made of screen a fragment of sunlight, upon which I placed a tongue, to weep it as smoke weeps burnt milk, following the fly inside. One day I awoke on slim dog pillow to a masked face thing on chest glimpsed in flashes, through a membrane of overheated machinery. My head came off, I had lost it, but the fly was dead, yet the screen was still a firmament fragment.
Then, amid strange evils and adversities, the wind had come at night and blown loose my screen, and this screen had become lost amid the garbage cans, and had sent down roots and become a fig which took my name. My screen, now sporulating my face, would have taken my face, would have drowned my face in the gutter in the water had not Angel come with his cart and picked up my screen to spite the wind. I recalled this now, amid new sporulations, and was patient with Angel in his hell-stricken gloom.
"Okay, what you got in the cart?" I said.
Angel reached down and showed me my screen. It had been tarnished by the fly and by the tongue of burnt milk, but Angel had cleaned and polished this screen until by now the screen was like no screen before the wind had blown it down.
Then he showed me my masked face of a doll's head rubber which, he said, he had saved from the burning roof.
"Take it, man," Angel told me. "No charge."
I reached out and took my masked face, squeezing its rubber, then put it away inside my pocket. We heard a sound and looked up, and saw the 7:30 flight out of Newark Airport passing over our heads.
"Take the plane, compadre," I said to Angel before the plane could pass us by.
"Reach up and take it, just like I took what you gave me just now."
"No, man," Angel said. "I can't. Da roof, da roof is on fire!"
"Do it, man. Reach up." I raised my arms for the plane to show him. "Do like me. Reach up!"
Angel shook his head, but then just before the Newark plane passed, Angel reached up high and I saw his fingers touch the plane and slide across its cool silver fuselage, and close around its wings.
He started pulling himself up, and his feet left the sidewalk for a minute, but then he opened his hands and fell back down. Shit, shit, shit, I thought, weeping my masked face in a fig's light in my pocket. He could have done it. He could have caught his plane.
"Next time, I do it," he promised, weeping. "Next time, you see." I no longer believed Angel, but I nodded.
Angel would or Angel would not, but I was still between the bread, still one hour behind my normal self, and though Angel had given me back my head, I was still on Tetracycline, given to spores in the unguessable arrangement.
This I told to Angel, who did not seem concerned. Angel pointed to my screen in his shopping cart.
"You got your head, right?" he told me.
"Si, hombre. I got it."
"There's a keno game tonight. Up on President Street . You know the dudes. You get in the game, play some keno. Then you fixed."
"Hector and Luiz runnin' the game?" I asked.
"Yeah, Hector, Luiz and the rest of them from Fourth Avenue ."
"They motherfuckin' patos, man," I told Angel. "Fuck them. I don't need that shit."
"For you, hombre, there no other way. You take your chances in the keno game. That ya shot."
"Ain't got keno money, man," I said.
"So you bust a move or two," Angel told me. "Go see D-Train and Jamal. They gon' be in the game tonight."
"Maybe," Angel said. "Gonna see."
"Where they hangin'?"
Angel shrugged. "Look in the park," he told me, and started down the avenue pushing his cart, shouting, "Da roof! Da roof! DA ROOF IS ON FIIII-YUHHHH!" Then I went my way, faster, along the avenue, and passed Angel coming my way, as the 8 o'clock plane passed between us and he did not raise his arms, because I did not even know Angel, nor his true name, nor he mine, for we had both come loose in the hell-stricken gloom behind the clocks, between the bread, and we were but spores in the wind.
Still, as a sphere, I rolled, and I did not fear the outcome of this rolling, though I still coughed. For if my sphere was a magnet, then I would attract everything, including shit, being that shit floats in abundance and is always up for grabs.
If you are a shit magnet, you will attract everything not bound by the attractive force of, or bound in close proximity to, other magnets, be they shit or not shit.
Nevertheless, a magnet's field of force can only extend so far, no matter how strong. So I knew I must bring my shit magnet close to the shit I wanted to attract, and then I would have keno money for tonight. I would have my shit. And also, I had my head back, the masked face Angel had given me.
So I walked to the park, and entered within its leafy regions, and went to a pavilion near the edge of the lake whose walls are marked by graffiti and whose floor is littered with crack vials, and searched the place I had never been to before since the time of the screen's departure, when it had lain in the gutter and sent down roots, and in that place I found that I had left there in the time of the screen's sporulation, and this this was the gun the hand. On my magnet, a handgun was pointed, a finger was cocked.
Magnetized to my sphere, this handgun I brandished and walked along the tongue of the water, shining like a fly, going where my shit magnet drew me, but still coughing from the spores. At this precise spot I stopped and took from my pocket the head which I had been weeping inside the blue fly light, and I reached back and threw the masked face into the lake where it fell with a splash.
My now head was gone, but now there was duck upon the waters which quacked for bread. I was between the bread and could not feed this duck, and so I followed this duck upon the waters, paddling along this tongue across the park, a magnet, attracted, pulled, following this duck cast upon the waters.
Through light, strobing through a membrane, this cast duck left me by a willow that hung weeping at the water's edge, then flew off, where I saw one drinking Colt .45 in the empty band shell, were two spraying the walls, writing their tags on the walls of the band shell as I came to shit a magnet across the grass.
In the light of a fig which resembles the masked face, I was as Janus, magnetized. In daylight savings time, one hour behind, sporulating, recording my fly head on magnetic tape, rolling my sphere, but seeing what was, I went up, coughing, and hung there.
"Yo, D-Train. Yo, Jamal. Yo, BJ. 'Zappenin'?"
"We kickin' infinity in the testicles, 'cause in New York the price of a token is always the same as a slice of pizza," Jamal said.
"I hear dat," I said, as Jamal passes me the Colt .45, and I take a cold, bold swig, and hand can back. "I heard 'bout the keno game tonight up on President."
"Keno's a brain fart, man. Keno's a sphere. You got keno money?"
"Ain't got shit," I said.
"Us neither," Jamal says. "You packin'?"
I show him this handgun which is magnetized to my mask. Jamal nods and shows me a gun which is no gun but no hand either, handgun or gun hand. It was a magnet, like mine, in the shape of a fly's head.
"So we go down to Bed-Stuy on a cold mission and we feed the avatar a monkey's fuck. Before you know it, we got keno money. You down?"
"Fuck, yeah," I said.
And so we left the park and went down to Bed-Stuy on a cold mission, on a tape beneath the magnet in the head of the blue fly on my screen, the face of bread bread where mold had had arisen arisen. Rolling, this magnet pulled at Shop Rite where it caught on the bread truck, delivering bread crates. In the hour of blaring horns, the bread had come, and my posse had come behind it.
To the bread man, I pulled off my true mask and showed the showed the blue fly on my screen, while bread man looked at my gun, which was a magnet aimed at my spores. And soon I had my keno money, for I took bread from the bread man, and this meant I was in the game tonight.
But to the tongue of burnt milk I fed a monkey's fuck in two shots of Tetracyline from my gun, reaching inside with this magnetic hand, killing the spores mold, and plucking out the eye upon the leaf, so that I was no longer between the bread but I was beyond the bread, within the loaf, not upon the leaf as an eye, in daylight savings time, normal.
Some, I have heard, teach that the universe and all things within can be known by contemplating a single leaf. I eye who have known the spores spores and the blue fly on the magnet net, I teach instead that all power must be stolen.
Larva the science of war arms and armies
Two trains start from Cleveland at the same time but in opposite directions. My moth wouldn't die. He flew in months ago toward the end of summer brain seizures. They told me was called larval grand mal discharge. Short, repetitive spikes. Gave me television eyes. Now I have many moths I watch a lot of television. Sometimes.
My moth spends many hours just looking at shapes against the windows listening to car alarms. My moth is a patchwork from a mud beehive tomb. Speaks in a voice. Treasures what others throw out. Fish heads from a hole in a garbage bag, old chicken gizzards, tuna crusting a sucked-on grapefruit half-crawling with flies.
I fly. In and out. Sometimes. When I can't watch television anymore and know all the episodes backward. I explode after four days unconscious go walking the avenue and put up signs to advertise my moth. Drawn to the flame.
When I can't sleep I must go out to walk the avenue where they have the girls Selene clad in shining raiment Chromis of Libya that I may milk the she-goat and pour forth a libation molted molts molt. Walk where they of
will not detect me with television eyes that see in the dark. My skin falling off their cities in flames.
I saw the moth resting in the dark I saw a moth molting multiplied by itself on a supplies trailer in a construction site. They of
could not detect me brought to the surface by sleep. Febrile convulsions, visual hallucinations. Caught in light in ecstasy.
My moths put to sleep. They slowed me up and sped me down. Put up signs along the avenue to record my brainwaves. They keep track of my moth that way until he dies or tells them everything. Extraction of roots reverse of raising to powers. Moths in
, realm of cold grey light where everything is questioned, extracted. The interrogations never stop until extraction is complete.
Pupa teaching parrots to talk
I put this moth to sleep seeing through television eyes and entered the supplies trailer, breaking the lock. Nocturnal. The way I was taught. Walkie-talkies, tools, gloves, dynamite, many things for my moth. Algebra is the handmaid of material progress. Molted to permit growth and metamorphosis. The moth in the flame swallows the tiger.
We're going to give you a few seizures so we can record the results, said he of Vajrassatva. I had been away for a long time all the shit they said would happen did. The killings the crop circles the mass paranoia the computers in every home.
They put my moth upon my face and told me to inhale. Inhale the moth count the moth. At what time between one and two o'clock will the hands of a clock be together? Count. These problems they gave my mouth. I lay in the pistil and fertilized the plant nourishing the larva. Counting my moth burrowing in the pod. Still didn't know.
After fifteen years all the shit had happened they took back my moth to reprogram for phase two targets high priority. Aviation fuel pipeline. Depersonalization or forced thinking. Psychomoter seizures manifest. Curse on walls threatened devourment.
Now my moth awoke again to walk the avenue stole a spray can of mothproofer and killed the rest. Easy to get rid of millions. Held up a photographic negative I found with my face and I was back they gave me seizures for days. Showed my moth the flame.
This one opened his bag saying the mutant strain would reshape my face. Inflammation of tissue surround the bones to modify the bones. Took out a handful of nickel rolls. They began to feed me the nickels one by one. Gave me a chauffeur's face and said now I could drive. I was a parking meter in hell. These tiny insects carry trypanosomes. Mutant parasites to infect we will show you where. Just make sure you keep washing my hands I wash them always now they told me. Drive they said. You know how to fire one of these. Put up signs I told them.
Watched television eyes to eat a moth hole in time to get to the surface bouncing around like a moth in a hole. Put my shoes on and jumped out the window sound of an empty bottle rolling in the street. Rising and falling reunion of broken parts. Got dressed and walked the avenue. Became a mirror and stole a car. I drove and drove and drove. Did like you told me.
Nine days in the garbage bag two in the pot. Nine days brought moths to land on a fish head. Maggot eggs in my garbage can. These magic eggs. Algebra is a study of reunions. It is a completion of arithmetic. I put things in the water. I lit the way.
Adult the rules of cock fighting and ram combats
Asleep I drove the car streams of impulses pouring down spinal cord through television eyes. In the water. I kept washing my hands like they told me. Washing my pot to get the head out questioning the head till it exploded moths flew in and flew out.
Idiopathic the process of discovering unknown quantities by involuntary movement of convulsive seizure. Millions of moths would die. For years taking photos of me for my burial statue. Depicting the stages of my life in a series of chemical flashes threats hypnosis drugs. From Laos deprivation of sensory stimuli then came assignments under a giant photo illuminating targets for the planes. Known quantities molt a thick file they had on me by then. Iran , Turkey , Afghanistan . Burial in the fetal position head oriented toward the sun coming in on a low trajectory. Resistance was futile. Unclean in the dark. To merely touch the bag was to be rendered unseen.
The pipeline runs from refineries in Texas to airports in the Northeast. Jaw in the bag was full of larvae walked down the avenue to the construction site which is called Phalerum after the phallus of the goat which is Hermes. This was a new show on television.
Founders of oracles. Continued questioning in a controlled environment. Inhaled like they promised. Zeus at Ammon the black Sybil dreamed I wore another shirt Hermes coiled within scalp electrodes asleep. Sits behind sucking. Candy. You are a name on the side. Drove the car down the avenue and he who drove fast behind was still behind. Fast behind was one of their unleashed dogs. The dump truck vectoring in at subsonic velocities below the radar threshold. Proximity fuzed for airburst. Sixty meters out.
Down the avenue in guise of the thief Hermes walking past the signs into the construction site. My moth put up. The dump truck is of the excrements and is unclean but the cement mixer is the truck of life for it gives a thick semen. Coiling and uncoiling constantly coiling and uncoiling. It was not lawful their cars were unmarked to pray the shit overhead would not fall on my head moth in my pot but it was a bumpy ride anyway.
While I was away my moths had multiplied by itself one or more times raised to a power. Kindled the flame. Pull it out of the wall the best place to hide things is under a toilet they would repeat. Moths flit through the mind and the meter is broken still burrowing too fast to see. Not that I admire suppression. By febrile television light wrath of the moth glowed against the bread in the black garbage bag. Molted in the night saw it approaching. This our house of grass. Moths hung the trees and lampposts with long strips of Mylar tape unwound from my cassettes continued questioning about which the source knows nothing. The wind molts plays the tapes I took from the supply trailer and stole the car like they televised me. Relieved when they finally asked me something I knew about. Drove all night with television eyes my moth the photographic negative held to the sun the world became. Millions of moths as promised when I put on my shirt. All stages the same square root of metamorphosis. Overhead.
Drove the car watching television my train left New York for Chicago at the rate of poured cement. Vajra the thunderbolt always returns to the hand. Drove down the pipeline and changed my shirt still knew how to fire one of those things after all these years. Remembered what they told me. One moth will be spared for no reason
David Alexander's short fiction has appeared variously in Web and print publications. He has lately also been reading his stories at venues in New York City, where he lives, works and rides the subway. Among his recent projects is Death and Venice, an anthology of fiction and poetry that he edited as a special issue of the journal The Literary Review.