What you are is crisp. That is the word that fits, but it doesn’t do the whole job. It can’t manage all the weight. It needs something a little further. Like that coolness of biting into a fresh apple. Breaking the thin leathery skin and that gentle spray of inner juice. It’s that. But it is also that moment when you bite down into an ice cube. That sudden surge of nerve endings screaming in agony from the piercing of ice, driving itself between your teeth like a ghost spike, but your taste buds close their eyes and lean into the satisfaction of the cold with unbridled enthusiasm.
That’s why this city feels less like another thing and more like a living thing. An entity. Because no matter what season it is, the wind is always angry. Vicious. Acting out like a tempestuous child. It has its grubby hands on everything, pushing over empty cans and sending loose trash into hand-springs and somersaults. It gives them brief bits of life, little angry spurts of acrobatics. You pull the trees into a frenzy. Madmen, waving their arms and trying desperately to get your attention. To tell you something. Or maybe not. Maybe they have nothing to say, but just want to touch. To reach out and grasp you, limbs waving and yearning and stretching. The wind turns them into horny beasts. Looking to fondle every passersby. But we don’t look at you how you want or look back to see if you’re still watching. We shrug off your glances, brush away your reach, and duck under your waving desperation. Because to stop and grab your hand would be acknowledging your presence. Taking part in your sick possession.
And because having sex with trees is illegal.
There’s two kinds of people in this world. People who buy a stack of comic books every Wednesday and those that have respect for their own money.
Welcome to the financially irresponsible side of being a nerd.
This week saw the release of the usual slew of comics across the board. Except I only gave a shit about about a few. These few.
There was a slight tremble in Maurice’s hand, but he pretended it didn’t exist. He imagined his muscles like loose ropes which moored a ship to the docks. He saw himself grabbing hold of the frayed, coarseness of them and pulling hard, stealing all the slack they had stolen as the ship drifted at the mercy of the tide, and he wrapped each one tighter and tighter around the steel protuberances of the wharf. His muscles mimicked this, the taught-ness and the tension. He knew that this utter focus was necessary, because this was something that could not be undone. There was no means to erase or undo each stroke of his blade. There was a finality in this, but it did not enter into his head. Only the unfettered commitment to his work which slowly etched itself in front of him as he went.
As each cut bore itself deeper into the surface, flakes and bits of paint fell to the floor like confetti and began to stick to his pants. But this too went unnoticed. Maurice was almost finished now. He was almost at the end of all this. He felt a sudden, unexpected sting on the flat part of his thumb and a small stream of blood began to drip across the groves in his palm and down his wrist, as if some disembodied force was guiding it without knowing it, like hands on an Ouija board.
As a single drop of his own blood struck the floor, mixing with the paint and flecks of cheap metal, Maurice finished his work. He had transfered which had only been a semblance of thoughts, a mixture of things never quite settled on long enough to be considered thoughts. They couldn’t have that name because they were only flickers of ideas, strapped together with the fleeting phantoms of past experiences. But now he had made them concrete. He folded up his tool, hiding the half-dull tool away for now. Maurice didn’t linger, though. The thing was done and before the blood that had spilled on the floor had made its way into the groves of the tiles, he was out the door and in his car and down the road.
He knew that his work would be there forever. And if he ever questioned his own existence, doubted for a moment that he was really a relevant player in this world, he would not need to doubt himself.
Because, forever etched into the third bathroom stall in the Gas and Go off of Interstate 73, read the words:
He tapped his fingers on the table, all five of them, quickly and rapidly like he was nervous. But this was not it. He was waiting for a girl, yes, and that makes even the bravest lose their wit. But it was, instead, because he was desperately trying to recall his name in morse code. His father had taught him when he was young and it had always come to him easily in the back of his mind when he didn’t mean to think of it.
Da – dit- dit
That’s how it started. He was sure of that much. He remembered it was rhythmic, that it sounded like a song. The start of a catchy tune. Or maybe it was more like a limerick. What was that called? That tempo to the words that made a limerick a limerick and not simply a story with really bad spacing. Did it have a word?
A fly and a flea in a flue
Were caught, so what could they do?
He felt he should know it, since he went to school for it. Like a mechanic should know that thing that connects the alternator to the engine. If that thing had a name. It had to have a name, right?
Dit- dit – dit – da – da – da – dit – dit – dit
That was something, but not his name. That was SOS. This was good to know, he assumed, in case he was ever on a sea-faring vessel that was sinking and had no radio. But what if they asked for a name and he couldn’t say? What if they thought it was just a prank call and he drowned somewhere out in the Pacific, his colleagues shaking their heads disapprovingly at him since he could not remember three simple letters that were also beeps and boops.
Said the fly “Let us flee!”
Then he recalled that the letter ‘e’ was simple. Just a single, quick dot. Like a stab from a rapier.
Just a simple one. After that, the ‘b’ made sense. It was longer, heavier. There was more there, and it certainly began with a da. A long one. A dash.
Da! Dit! Dit! Dit!
Almost there now. The dit’s were all but done, packed together like cattle in the middle. There were more da’s in there, to frame out the dit’s.
“Let us fly,” said the flea.
A lady with one of those obnoxious pocket dogs jammed in her purse, it’s head darting its eyes across the room like it was just hatching for the first time from an expensive Prada egg, stared at him since he was now hitting the table with his fingers like it was a snare drum. He had it now.
That was it! That was the N. The whole thing came back and sat so solidly in his frontal lobe, he wondered how he had ever not remembered it in the first place.
Da! Dit-Dit-Dit-Dit! Da! Dit!
He sneered back at the dog lady. He had won. And it was then the girl he had promised to meet walked in. He barely knew her, but he knew enough to know that if he told her this, shared in this achievement, she wouldn’t care even a bit. So, before she caught site of him, he grabbed his backpack and made quickly for the back door. All the time, he tapped out his name on his leg, as if he was trying to imprint it there forever. Brand it on his leg so he would never forget.
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.