i lay in bed, saying my simple prayer
lord please help me, to stop my dumbfuck ways in this dumbfuck world,
the desert heat beats my brow. sweat dribbles down my back. i shut the plastic door of my car, and lock it.
i’m in the waiting room, and everyone’s getting mad at the tv. i can’t see it, but it sounds like the guy from wheel of fortune, discussing that which concerns celebrities and their followers. i sift through the magazines and pamphlets. long spreads of lipstick glossed over, with a sun hat. a man at the front desk talks on two phones at once. his smile radiates.
i finally get in to the doctor, and he tells me to pull my pants down, so i do.
moved here a few years back. telling myself i’d build a cardboard house in a cardboard town. with a silly putty wife and a silly putty dog. stars made of cellophane.
she makes flapjacks, as the dog does jumping jacks as i play solitaire with a deck that’s missing the jacks. the clock strikes bonanza and she pours the pink mist. i think about what the doctor said about my hemoglobin. he said it was looking fine, everything in order. i went because i thought i’d vomit up blood if it ever got that far. if it got that far, that i’d vomit at all.
i was having waking dreams, of some woman i used to love. sweating.
i kiss the silly putty wife, florence. i kiss her and tell her i’ll be home by six. i tell her to be ready by six. she says i’d better be ready, too. i will, i assure her. better run, engine’s gettin cold.
out the door, into the car and down the windy roads. styrofoam cactuses darting past. thick greens set against the orange, and some sort of effigy enclosed by mesas made of salt. jutting out, on the outskirts. the news man says we’re reaching a heat wave. the hottest in 38 years. i roll the window down for a smoke. cotton lazily seeping out the tip of my stick. that’s much better.
great serenity washes over me as i sharpen my pencil. my boss walks in, his red comb is droopy. he’s been crowing since he was three, and now he does so at me. i yap back a bit, and head to the cooler. lester sips from a straw.
i’ve been working on an expansion for the house, something that’s really gonna stick. i bought some chairs, finally. oh, they look nice in the bulb room. sometimes the neighbourhood bullfrogs come round, and i give them a pop, and they scoot. always prankin. always riding their high wheels down the bend, to the creek.
it’s 5:30, and i punch the clock. i go to pick florence up, and silly dog must stay. we park on the main street. a slight wind causes the buildings to sway like they’re dancing around the fire. i can see embers and sparks if i think hard enough.
corner booth, noise dampened. our tronic waitress scoots over to top up the pink mist. she sends idle chit chat. i ask her to call me mad dog, she commits it to memory.
florence mashes her face, frowny. i ask what’s wrong. oh, nothing. the night goes on.
we put a dime in the robot and it emits frequency for us to drink to. the pitch is higher than normal, but palatable. maybe even a bit more roomy than normal. i pretend i’m on safari.
i see the cutouts in the sky. jfk and fdr and bogart. at the beach, a train line running over stars with cars backed up for miles and miles. miles davis in the window, frozen. and the dandelions swaying in unison with the monolith.
i ask the teller what’s playing. real cinema, he insists, taking token. i buy some buttered biscuits, and sit with florence. the lights go down, and it’s quiet. there’s only about 5 other people in here, tonight. the commercials were nothing to write home about. some value cream, and linked sausage.
it begins. the flickering light, and running tone. blank screen, changing brightness intensities. i am in awe. at one point i notice the exit door has been left open. i’m having a hard time taking my eyes off the screen, but best i can tell it’s a smudgy gentleman. his walking cane is propped against the frame. he unbuttons his shirt, and buttons it back up. over and over.
used to be we could tune in to soft core porn on friday nights. there’s a message on the machine waiting for me, once i get home.
hey derrick, thought i’d give you a ring, but i must’ve missed ya. the waterboards all done. up in the shop. you really wore it in, didn’t you? i’m taking the fish to the lake if you wanna join, let me know. bye.
florence and i sit, staring at the cotton candy sky as it turns all shades of red and orange and pretty pink. those hues, cutting me deep. some memory tucked away, in a plain, unlabelled box. it’s summer, and not enough light is getting through the blinds. frequency is soft in the distance. the sprinkler is on. it’s some great buried sadness. like the world won’t be here tomorrow. i desperately want it to end. for it to become dark. but deep down, i know i’d rather live in this singular point in time, for the rest of my life, than ever have it leave me. was some time during the foggy years. when things took longer to form.
the bulb dips beneath the tarmac, and it’s over.
we slowly make our way back to the street. passing the laundromats, and dunk diners with their low hum. some people seldom sleep. sometimes i wish the same.
Jordan Pansky is a writer/video person. Currently editing Angels in the Outfield in the style of David Lynch. His videos can be viewed here.