Monday, February 23, 2009

Start to Something that will end up Nothing

There's a movement on the street: one yellow light blinking on salt-and-pepper asphalt. Nearby: a boomerang-shaped splotch of blood as dark as an oil slick. Sounds: a clicking noise, the humming of a streetlight (the bluish haze of which casts a skeletal shadow of a young tree against a single-story vanilla-paneled bungalow) and the low-pitched whistle of corn refineries over the horizon. If I could pick any moment in my life to return to it would be the instant I realized that the green and white pebbles resting in front of my eyes were shards of glass. After dragging myself out of the overturned Hyundai I rolled onto my back and was struck by how odd my first clear thought was. It's so good to finally be lying down. The sky was as flat as cardboard, and there were either no clouds or a sky so dense with them that all of its features were lost.

Some people in these situations start counting their teeth. Others try to remember the names of old pets. A guy in the ICU waiting room at K.C. General told me about how when he got out of his burning mini-mansion (a suburban meth lab explosion in the neighbor's garage was to blame) he kept thinking about some stray awkward comment to a girl at a coffee shop earlier that week. With my blanket of a black sky and the surreal atmosphere of florescent lamps and the metronome-like click of a turn signal I could only think about some news story a friend had told me once. Over the length of a few months a number of Japanese schoolchildren had gone missing in a rural prefecture. All were females between the age of seven and twelve. It was uncovered that an American businessman on extended vacation in the area had been abducting the children and skinning them alive with a number of sharp instruments. He would hang them with nails from the wall by the skin of their abdomen and back and with their ribs exposed the kids would be screaming out these Japanese polysyllables while the guy reached into them to cover his hands in blood and then rub the stuff all over the walls and his own exposed chest. He would keep these girls alive for days while he cut off little pieces of them; nose, ears, pinky, eyelid. This is not to say that this was a surgical-type operation, as it was pretty messy. Investigators report that upon entering the mountain cabin where the man resided seeing a waist-high pile of intestines off in one corner and walls covered in skin and hearts, feet, scalp, and so on pinned up with filet knives. The article, I was told, also described “frozen organ-slush” being found on the premises. But here’s the weird part: the place was found because a fourth grader called the police from inside the house and calmly explained to them that he had just murdered a man. The cops showed up within a few minutes and when they kicked down the front door with guns drawn they saw a small girl lying limp and a small boy sitting cross-legged and facing her with eyes downcast in the middle of a bare hardwood floor. Behind them a middle-aged Caucasian man wearing dress pants and no shirt was planted flat on his back, a fat gut protruding. In his right hand he gripped a lengthy blade. On the walls and ceiling and on every imported living room piece were gory strips of rotting organic material.

The boy told reporters that after arriving at school that morning he felt a strange sensation about one of his classmates. He wondered if something had changed in her or if she was sick. Throughout the day he looked over at her, and each time he claims he knew something was somehow different or ‘off’ or that it soon would be. After being released from school he followed his classmate as she walked home. He kept at a distance for a while and reassured himself that he was being foolish. But as the girl began to turn onto the street where she lived a man stepped out from behind a building and stabbed her with a syringe. The boy was horrified and jumped behind some recycling canisters. He watched as the man, who was tall with graying hair and a face that seemed elastic in some way, nonchalantly picked the girl up in his arms and cradled her as he walked towards the train station. The boy didn’t call out or run for help, but instead checked the contents of his pockets. He saw that he had enough for a train ticket, and quickly decided he would follow the man who carried his classmate. As the man boarded the train the boy heard him tell a ticket-taker that his young daughter was very sleepy and needed her rest. The boy sat a few rows back from the man and watched the way he carefully propped the girl up against the window, how he brushed the hair out of her face and arranged a pillow behind her head just so. The man was then seen for the rest of the ride engaging a PDA with some fury. Somehow the boy found it easy to rest his head on the window and stare out into the quick-moving countryside. No thoughts came to him and soft-gazed clouds of an unseasonably breezy day filled him with an eerie sense of ‘rightness’.

The boy trailed the man with considerable caution after exiting the train. He was at least fifty miles from his home and didn’t recognize the landscape. The horizon swallowed a red sun and a gray-blue afterglow of the post-dusk atmosphere set upon the mountain. With tiny insects buzzing in his ears and very little light the boy could track of his target only by silently inching along in the direction of his footsteps. The wind flowing through healthy trees heavy with dark-green leaves orchestrated a type of flushing sound made up of many small noises. Somewhere in the forest a thin ambiance of singing locusts came in pulses. When the door shut on the sturdy dwelling of the American the impact of it shook the boy out of the semi-conscious trance he had been in. The boy absently strolled into the opening in front of the house and let the tips of tall grass lick at his ankles. He stared up into a pale moon watching over him between the trees and drank in its presence. And without anymore hesitation he went to the American’s door and opened it. The American had just removed his undershirt and was wielding a long knife. The girl was on her side still asleep a few feet in front of the American. The sound of the door opening sent the American jerking towards it with an audible gasp. The man’s eyes widened and he began to cough and after a moment of clutching his chest he fell backwards onto the hard floor with a meaty flop.

So anyways I am thinking about whether or not I had made up the conclusion that the man had been the boy’s father and had suffered a heart attack from the sheer shock of seeing his son (who had been observed by the man from a distance since a young age on the man’s periodic vacations in the East but had never met his biological father) or if in fact that was just some hypothetical that my friend and I had talked about as I am being carted into the back of an ambulance and the overhead light pierces my thoughts and this rush of sound enters my ears of a woman who I am not immediately aware is my wife screaming and crying and the quick-paced hushed tones of paramedics and police officers and somewhere someone says dammit, god dammit, just look at my headlight.

One of the things I put away after my long stay in the K.C. hospital was the photograph of Amber and me in the back of our then-new car, smiling with all teeth showing like a couple of dumb mutts. Our eyes were bright with youth and possibility, and at that point you could barely tell she was pregnant.

Friday, January 30, 2009


George Zoole was still shaking twelve days later. Spoons were still rattling against morning cups, feet were still bouncing on waxed tile, and on the first hour of The View the chin and shoulder kept almost connecting with each other in an involuntary spasm. George being the only survivor of a bizarre week-long hostage situation perpetrated by indicted U.S. senator Fillmore Card that lit up the ratings boards across seven 24-hour cable news networks and sold out national newspapers. Across the world millions had seen the six minute long cellphone quality recording of the once-promising "Mr. Smith"-type Idaho electrician-turn-lawmaker forcing two senate pages, four members of his staff, and one civilian to recite at gunpoint "The Star-Spangled Banner" several times before being commanded to lay on their stomachs while the senator walked across their backs and whimpered and said something about how he wished it didn't have to be like this.

Those first few minutes of footage that interrupted sports games and sitcom reruns of the red-nosed George Z. in a traditional post-situation wheelchair being escorted by a fleet of stone-faced capital hill police officers across a snowy street to the private hospital usually reserved for senate employees were analyzed for hours by the smooth pixelated faces of mostly teeth that speak in that certain language of half-empty sensationalist phrases from that weird stance of appearing to be overly invested in any segment; whether it be public relations controversy or weather or budget reform or hostage situation. A popular theory propagated by media outlets in those first two days after the “D.C. Hostage Crisis” following the wide dispersal of the non-H.D. NBC4 D.C. local Action Update feed as to why “Sole Survivor” George Zoole had a splotchy red snout was that the delusional Card had forced hostages to snort cocaine, which would have fit in with the psychological profiling of the senator’s actions, the actions being hypothesized by several leading academics as the lawmaker forcing on his subjects the very things he felt were thrust upon him, Card writing in his New York Times bestseller “Ten Minutes of Silence” (the title being a reference to Fillmore C.’s father’s insistence that his son spend ten minutes at the end of each day with his eyes shut standing outside on the wide cedar porch without saying a word and only trying to listen to wind or insect noises, a practice Card championed in his 2005 I.S.U. commencement speech and continued every night for the rest of his life excluding overseas trips to hostile areas and the final week, of course) that he felt as if his life were a series of occurrences simply happening to him, like he was being shuttled from one event to the next where the thing that was going to happen would happen and he would watch it happen with a calm demeanor and accept it, all along playing the role of the good son and the hard worker and the community organizer, and would soon be off to another fated episode that would push him further into the place where he needed to be, and that also his short struggle with drug abuse in the year after he was elected to the Blackfoot (home of the Idaho Potato Museum) City Council seemed to be pre-destined and that he went through the motions of late-night parking lot meetings with unwashed twenty-somethings and pre-dinner party injections of China White with the same liquid removal and compliance he had allotted to every action in his professional life, including his redemption-themed stint in rehab where he was made to write poetry and hug sweaty fellow addicts and confess his actions in group therapy, that ordeal and his later conversion to evangelical Christianity being the focus of an inspirational 60 Minutes interview with Katie Couric that aired a few weeks before his initial election.

The theory fizzled though when Zoole told Larry King in an exclusive prime-time interview (the first of many for Zoole) that “[Mr. Card] tied me up before he shot everybody, well, he tied everybody up but me too, I was tied up last, and he pushed me over to the floor and for a while was making us be quiet before he shot everybody, and, uh, he just started I guess going up to people and shooting, I don’t know, and people were screaming, and […] Yeah, I’m fine I’m just nervous, and then I heard the door bust down when [the police] came in and there was more shooting, but I don’t know because like I said I was on the floor, so […] Yeah, my face was right on the floor for like twenty minutes or so and that’s why I was red. I didn’t see anything happen when everything went down, so, yeah, that was it.” Privately, George felt he wasn’t living up to the media-generated myth of himself. In a phone call placed to his older sister eight days after his release Zoole described his upcoming morning-talk-show-heavy schedule as suffocating and the pre-show makeup and prepping interview as degrading. When he was finally all smoothed out and rehearsed and sort of separated from the entire process (due to the process) psychologically he would walk out in front of a cheering-but-subdued-due-to-the-seriousness-of-the-situation studio audience (usually after a montage of news clips set to dramatic music and a ominous narration) and answer these questions that have been already pre-answered several times backstage and have to exaggerate his emotions and get a little teary-eyed so as to live up to what is expected of the rattled “Sole Survivor” and have to tolerate the clownish expressions of so many waxy faces and always wrap up his rehashed speech about how thankful he is to be alive before the commercial break.

When you are in the teeth of book deals and feature-length documentaries and Lifetime Original Television Movie reenactments and your self-conscious twitch that people attribute to your traumatized psyche is broadcast to fifteen million Americans in the Key Demo and you find yourself yelling at your agent to get you out of the country and your sister and parents are calling you and asking you if you are okay because in recent A.P. interviews you seem more jittery than usual you start to wonder how much of you is inside and how much really is outside, just painted on and built and approved by the horde already for you and you are tumbling through their jagged guiding lines and becoming who they need you to be, an actor or a blurred image in the static. Opened my eyes and felt nothing.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I need a reset button.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


To be updated sometime.

I'm sure.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


It's smooth out there, and the sky is violet and deep.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Therapy tomorrow.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Third War Happens Thirteen

First day of Cre. Writ. Tomorrow.
Plus full schedule at LCCC.

It'll all work out somehow.