He sits across from you, one earplug in, as he espouses on the failings of the world – and you – and begrudgingly takes your five dollars. “You are wrong. Nobody has said anything dumber.” He’s out of tobacco and would like to squat your living room for the winter.
He rambles on, first about the barter system, then on the meaning of work until he starts a full tirade on the failure of representational government, everything you need to know and how you can change, all that just by being like him. He asks for five dollars – “Thanks, man” – ambles off, briefly holding back the subway doors, and vanishes up the stairs.
I don’t have a clue who I am, where I am going or what I’ve done. It’s a meandering thing that goes out the door and comes back in. I know something about nothing and that is about all. I am fascinated for a time. People too. There is a moment. And then not. I know it is about nothing, nothing and nothing again and almost take solace in that. Not quite.
The fact is that I hate the look-at-me dissolution of our world, the babies that never grew and think people cares about their childish discoveries. That is where we have lost everything. While the barbarians culled these ones, we’ve decided to let them run the show.
I do my research and read the tweets and bios of the agents who specifically request speculative fiction. And I make my pitch. “No” is all I hear.
The biggest clunker came from an agent asking exactly for what I am writing – a generational ship off to a distant planet – and I got this form-letter response.
My Cx Trilogy pitch must be more of a scream. They need to know that the book is the future of the speculative genre. It is real. It is direct and clear. It has the voice of terror as we go straight off the cliff. In other words, it’s now or never. Now. Or never.
The magic of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is in the point of view, Chief Bromden sharing his thoughts on the insanity of life.
The Big Nurse is able to set the wall clock at whatever speed she wants by just turning one of those dials in the steel door; she take a notion to hurry things up, she turns the speed up, and those hands whip around that disk like spokes in a wheel. The scene in the picture-screen windows goes through rapid changes of light to show morning, noon and night – throb off and on furiously with day and dark, and everyone is driven like mad to keep with the passing of that fake time.
But generally it’s the other way, the slow way. She’ll turn the dial to a dead stop and freeze the sun there on the screen so it don’t move a scant hair for weeks, so not a leaf on a tree or a blade of grass in the pasture shimmers. The clock hands hang at two minutes to three and she’s liable to hang them there till we rust. (71-2)
There is nothing like coming into the city on the train. It’s all here, inside and out, the buildings thick with cranes, the roads with trucks and plastic, the river wide and dark.
We have forgotten what we never had. We have looked back blind. We have let loose with a broken yarn. We are here, magnanimous and incompetent. Yes, yes, yes. Wait. That is the answer, that sound. It will come again. When we are gone.
The boy across from me eats salted cauliflower sticks, one by one, wiping his fingers on his drooping mask, intent on the next page of The Magician. He pokes his fingers inside again, licking off the last grains, crumples the bag, and holds the book up high, a better filter against the pandemic that anyone knew. The couple beside hold hands, the young man clinging, desperately asking her what she thinks through his tight mask. The girls at the front of the train explode hilariously, talking over one another in a spew, “I felt it touch my lips. That was it. I love weed. I was going to put it into the Pringles. I don’t remember a black bag. I will Venmo you right now. You look so good.”
I think of her, still think that we could make it work. I know it is not real, that she would wander away or lie or deny what she did and said, but still it is the idea of her, the magic of that streaming in, with her in a remarkable circumstance, sucking on her great left breast, marvelous in mass, supple and goose-pimpled, believing in everything, stuck in that, even when she laughs and her friend tells her to turn to the camera for the Tik Tok video.
And then it becomes something else, more wide, more clear, held, the way you might hold a piece of nothing like it was god or truth or love and really believe that. And so yeah, seven dollars for two shots and a mega-can of beer. Fuck me. That’s what it’s all about.
Dee Sinclair is impossible. She doesn’t give a fuck about anything or anyone. Don’t get me wrong. I love Dee. She is the Cat’s Pajamas on steroids. For me. That’s probably because she is so much like me: opinionated, cantankerous, demanding, isolated and always right. Readers of The Cx Trilogy and My Bad Side don’t find these attributes compelling. She’s does not inspire empathy or engagement. She is not likeable. That’s what they say.
And so, I’ve been at work, cleaning up Dee’s rough spots, gutting her bitter pontifications, making her a little more approachable. And while I might be making headway, I’m struggling with it. Dee doesn’t want people in her head. She wants to be left the fuck alone. In other words, what makes her so lovely to me is what makes her an impossible bitch for everyone else. No one likes to be told to fuck off. I get that. And that’s the thing about Dee. She’s good with that. She wants it like that. Leave her the fuck alone.
As soon as I explain why – the tragedy of her mother and sister – she just gets more pissed off. Pity? Fuck, no. Empathy? Why the fuck would she want that? She’s got the genes, the chromosomes, the essential strands of life. Why would she want any of us to understand or care? We can all go fuck ourselves. Done and done. And that’s my problem. Not her problem, but mine.
My head of marketing has this idea about how to spread word about my work:
Dude, you just kill me with ur love for pleasuring yourself. How many times per day u are able to pamper ur dongle? You are like an Olympic champion. You look like a mature person. What happens to u? A psycho-trauma?
I copied all your contacts from your email and I am about to share ur habit with your family. 1141USD, Bitcoin 1KZqsAvshQs7VcFkDLqeU7qRAe4raTx3bC, in 48 hours as soon as you read this notice you send my reward and I will sweep off the dirt I have got on you. If you defy me, within ninety six hours ur home movie is gonna be distributed on the net.
It might work, although $1,141 does seem a lot to pay.
Writing is a spew of the subconscious, or at least a myriad of that, mostly the id. That’s where the core is of what I refuse to realize I am, that fear and pain and stupidity that make me so unique and nothing at all.
It doesn’t mean much of anything. I am alone in this. Except when I write it down here.
I realize that I am the same chunky fellow when I was a kid. The same. That’s what I am thinking about or more about not going anywhere, of staying, doing something else, just not what I’m doing, not this, because that is what’s expected of me.
There is someone at my shoulder. I don’t know here. I ask, “Who are you?” She says something about understanding. It goes on until I finally lose it, “I don’t want to know who you are or wake up next to you, right? I just want to say goodbye. That work?”
A little wisdom from David Bowie: My parents had the same work ethic, you know, work as salvation. Work really hard and somehow, you’ll either save yourself or you’ll be immortal. Of course, that’s a total joke, a sham, and our progress is nothing.
There may be progress in technology but there’s no ethical progress whatsoever. We’re exactly the same immoral bastards that we were twenty thousand years ago. (From Dylan Jones’ An Oral History, 429)