And the air would taste of patterns Nov 7, 2011
I have to get up early and do laundry so I can wear something nice to the weirdo sex club. Pink go-go boots and matching rocket-launcher, if you know what I mean. The voice on the radio discusses politics. There is a long set of stairs I walk every morning, and I walk them again when I come home.
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The city never sleeps. It finds morning light with the weary, fluttering eyes of the graveyard shift. Just before lunch, the conductor is running on coffee and gum as she walks the rubber-lined train. But the club is on the other side of the city and only at night. I smile at the old trainman as he punches my ticket but he gives me a weary look. Was it disdain, pity, apathy, or envy? It's hard to tell through all those facelines.
In the bathroom, the effect is subtle in the mirror. My eyes have become beings in their own right. On the way back onto the floor, it is like becoming a god, mandible stretching to infinity below an immense cranium asteroid hurtling through a writhing stage-light galaxy. I feel dizzy and smash into the green and blue crowd. Their soft faces and clothing giving way to skin in all the expected places and get into my blood. My surface becomes the smoky darkness and I am lost in fabrics and ears and hips.
I taste the electron on the railing as I climb from the subway into the open-air blacksky gasoline exhaust thousand points of light echoing rubber and brick. The people are already somewhere else, in their minds and eyes and I-am-late step. Behind them all I glimpse the boy who cried cheesecake, skyclad and birdlike. He is holding cardboard, the symbol of refuse which did not wash down the sewer in the storm but woke sopping and crazy. I am constantly being mauled by bears. I have to look at my phone to know which way to turn to get home.
In the bathroom, the effect is subtle in the mirror. For a moment I'm not sure I left the club. Pounding in the next room, or maybe just the vessels in my ears. I slip the pill under my tongue. Everything is about an inch closer than it looks. I am surprised to find someone on my bed before I remember our wobbly walk back between the streetlights. "Sit up," I say, "I have a present for you." He didn't understand my tattoos, but now he does as I pull him into the other room, into a bowl of water, the night sky wrung out into a sparkling warm soup around our ankles. The mirror is unbroken from left to right, a great black wall with a city deep inside it. I take him into the city, even though he is shaking and having difficulty standing.
Bare wall warehouses and chainlinks give way to shops and restaurants, give way to stacked apartments. I see her through the third-floor window, silhouetted. They don't scream when she slides a knife between their ribs because her magic makes them believe they are not real people. I think about the lost boy in the rain, and grip his hand tighter. Does he have a somewhere that is not swept with cold wind? I feel him slipping away. A knife in his hand while he sleeps? I throw away the basketball poster; the only sport I ever enjoyed was hunting. If you hang it on the wall, you can relive the rush any time. The house is empty and dark and my new friend is crying on the couch. I caress his face and tell him everything is okay. In my pocket is a half-finished bag of skittles which I begin feeding him. Call me weird, but I find few things in life measure up to the feeling of a finger in someone else's mouth. My phone vibrates in my pocket.
Glyphs and characters appear gridwise and rainbowed, bending through the air in arching strands of corrupted digital condensation. ASCII fractals dissolving into the air. I feel a frazzled presence emanating from all points of space at once. "You are not a human being having a spiritual experience; you are a spiritual being having a human experience. Do you see how this explains death?" it says. "Wow, I'm so glad to know you're still alive!" I say. "I thought you died." "I did." it says. A passing woman stares. I realize later that it wasn't because I was talking to a disembodied soul, but because of creativity, sex, sports, music, and religious ecstasy. A group of black birds takes off from under an overhang like a storm of black knives and I wish I hadn't left my camera at home. Once and somewhere far away I might have found peace, but now I can't live without this city.
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