(As promised, here are our stories.)
It was an awkward silence.
He imagined that he was in the right, raising his arm to rally the support of the apartment dwellers he supposed would stand behind him as long as he stood strong in front of them.
On sunny days, it seemed, she raised her arm, too, but always away; she was not a long-hair high-tower princess in need of rescuing.
One Thursday afternoon, after a confusing rush of crowd and noise, she was suddenly gone.
Mainly confident of her return, he kept his spirits aloft by devising clever quips that he would offer up as a sign of his strength; he stayed on his pedestal.
On Monday, he thought he heard her voice, but since he had never heard it before, he couldn’t be sure.
In his mind, the thoughts echoed loud: empty clouds in a metal shell.
When he dreams, now, he sees her arm reaching—always away—but he can no longer piece together her face.
Their dialogues now sparkle, silent eloquence and matching wit penned in the air by one hand, always right.
There that – your nonexistent future. Only stare. Do nothing more lest you wish to forget who you are. Do more nothing lest you wish to confuse the staircase and the doorknob. Lest you nothing do more to repeat what was.
Look instead at today. At the acid rain amongst the singing flowers. Look at today. See the soft sun shining on that garbage mountain. Notice how the smell of rain washes out the roaring found on the streets. Feel that key in your hand which dictates, “You belong here. Unlock your door and step into…..”
Or better yet, just have a good day.
Enough, and I went up to the attic.
There’s only so far anyone else can take you; whether in words or pictures.
Dead men tell no tales, they say, but hell if my grandmother couldn’t whip some words up and leave you unwilling to reside elsewhere until the sharing was done and the yarn was entirely spun.
Wishing – needing – to unravel what she had begun, and having waited fruitlessly for the other shoe to drop, I threw down my towel, left the dishes in the sink and headed for the hallway.
I pulled the string and the stairs descended upon me.
Arching my back and puffing my chest, I craned across to the woman I had left reclining in her chair.
I don’t believe in boogeymen and I’ve never seen the Jabberwock.
I know there is no Chupacabra and I’m a man now – I ain’t some boy to be spoiled or smothered with love and bundles of joy.
Maybe that’s why she let me go up – hell maybe that’s why she told the story in the first place – but I’ll never know now, will I?
“But elephants don’t eat tires.”
“I know, but, like, I think that’s sort of included.”
“So when they say ‘Don’t feed the elephants’ they also mean ‘Don’t give them anything fun to play with or really even pay attention to them at all.'”
“I’m not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to them.”
–What’s that– a tire?
–Yeah, that’s what it looks like.
–Why’d they give us a tire?
–You don’t want a tire?
“Why’s there a tire in the elephant habitat?”
“You didn’t put it there?”
“You, there – Grab that sail!”
The boat tipped into the wind and flew over the clouds. For a millennium no one had dared sail the public square, but this bored two-year-old was sure going to attempt the adventure, while waiting for her father to just snap the 656,302th photo of the day.
“Iceberg, dead ahead!”
She could not think of anything else to say, having recently snuck out of bed to ‘get a glass of water’ while her father was watching the Hotel Titanic. (Think Kate Winslett meets Hotel Rwanda and there you Africa.)
Having almost capsized, she caught glimpse of her Cossack in shining armor concretely galloping towards her wayward story. She knew there was a reason she snuck the papertowel roll into her pajamas, and made a note that next time, she’d hide the unused papertowels not on the floor but use it for the decoration desperately needed to decorate the next hotel they’d inevitably stay at the next time her father took her on a business trip.
“Onward, ho!” beckoned her father as he kept his eye on the lens.
“I don’t know, what do you wanna do?”
“I don’t know … what do you wanna do?”
“I don’t know … what do- SQUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAK!!!! SQUAAAAAK SQUAAK SQUAK!”
“Calm down – Owner ain’t comin’.”
“HE IS, HE IS – I SEE HIS BLUE ’93 BLAZER PULLING IN TO THE GARAGE RIGHT NOW, FROM THE EAST, LIKE HE ALWAYS DOES AFTER WORK WHEN HE’S HAD A COUPLE AND HE’S TRYIN’ TO HIDE THE SMELL FROM THE MISSUS BY ROLLIN’ AROUND THE BLOCK WITH THE WINDOWS DOWN SINGIN’ ‘HAIL TO THE BANDIT’ BY THE ROLLING STONES ON THEIR UNRELEASED B-SIDES THAT HE GOT, BOOTLEGGED, FROM THAT OLD ROCKER HARLOT IN MONTREAL WHEN HE TOOK US TO SEE THE PENGUINS IN THE AQUARIUM BY PARKING ON THE 8TH STOREY OF THAT PARKING GARAGE WHERE I COULD SEE ALL THE WAY DOWN FROM – THE PLACE YOU SAID SMELLED LIKE APPLES AND RAINDROPS AND FRESH TATTOO INK FROM A FLEETING MOMENT OF A LOVER’S PASSIONATE RAPTURE IN THE NOTION EMBEDDING IN THEMSELVES SOME IRREVERSIBLE MARK, SOME ETERNAL QUALITY THAT REPRESENTS THE INUNDATING AND IRREVOCABLE IMMINENCE OF THE COMMITMENT ONE MAKES, NOT ONLY TO ANOTHER IN THAT QUIESCENT MOMENT, BUT TO THEMSELVES AS WELL – THE SYMBOL ITSELF EXTANT AND EXTENSIVELY ENGAGED IN ITS OWN BEING-IN-PLACE THAT CANNOT BE ATTRIBUTED NOR DEATTRIBUTED TO OR FROM ITS PROPRIETOR, INVESTOR, EXHIBITOR AND – LO – FEALTOR!”
“Oh yeah, that place.”
“SNAAAAACKS, WE’RE GONNA GET SNAAAAAAAAAACKS!!!”
“You know, I’ve been thinking – this whole dialogue about when and where the owner’s been coming from every day, well, I just start to wonder what it’s all for – you know what I mean – like, who is this owner fellow anyway and why exactly should I consider myself property of anyone at all – be he man, beast or God – there’s no real order as such to our existence, which is, I might add, an a priori being-at-large, if you will or, being-in-nature – something to that effect – suppose it ought to be worked out a bit further in that regard, but I suspect you see my point in the round, if you like – or perhaps you prefer I use the so-called ‘bird’s-eye’ imagery (a little played out for my taste) but you get me, you get me … I suspect you do …”
-“Jeremy! How dare you! I told you to stop watching the gymnastic channel right before you wakeup. You know what it does to your breakfast!”
-“Shh..I know..but c’mon look at my hair…No one can pull off canary yellow tights like me. NO one!!!”
-“Will you just put on this suit and tie so we can go to your mother’s funeral? As it is, we’ll only be 20 hours early.”
Finally, freedom to dissolve into a bright yellow blur of automatic energy and to fade into feeling.
Enough pretty pennies to pay off this piece of paradise, and I’m gone.
No more children’s birthday parties spent trying to keep my head on, no more stand-in jobs at zoos with high demand and lazy bears, no more themed Chinese food deliveries.
Maybe tomorrow, maybe next month.
Soon, all these sights and sounds– the haughty executive meeting his sweet-and-sour in a bathrobe, the pointing fingers of parents insisting falsely to their children that there’s really a bear back there behind the bamboo, the stickyfaced birthday girl trying to tell me that she doesn’t really like pandas as much as hamsters but I shouldn’t take it personally– all those pieces I’ve tucked away will reemerge, sifted through the years and into my art.
I will not pander to the portion of the populace praying to plastic perfection; I will offer the truth in its messy mire, wired to inspire and fired in a kiln of will and wonder.
For now, I am a hunter and a gatherer, a deliverer and unraveler,
It’s easy to be confident inside this head of mine, inflated as it is, clear and cool in silent black and white.
Now, onward to the next block, deciding to turn away or to hurry straight ahead into the future, catching it before its time.