Norway is one of the most secular places in a largely secular Europe. Only 1 percent of its 5 million people attend church. When a Norwegian looks into the night sky, a black, meaningless abyss that goes on forever looks back at him, nihilistically to be sure.
Waning Beneath The Night Sky Glare
There’s stars out but no moon
the sky seems empty or lonely like
a clown funeral attended only by mimes
or cowboys and indians getting along
It sparkles but is blank like the eyes of a politician
when promising a lie during a debate discussion
that rattles and hums in the ovoid of understanding
in the lacking of angular momentum. Or like
false positive truth serum soda sliding
down your throat, the cold jizz of a deadened demented lover
It’s a curved vault of black high above me
freezing and weighing down
inaccessible and far
close oppressive as every stupid rule (and
every smart one too)
following me with cackling implications of Nothing
- Michael Kindt, who is not Norwegian.
The sudden surge in the Bible’s popularity has Lutheran officials scratching their heads—Lutheranism is the official take on Jesus in Norway. The Good Book is even outselling ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’, a bad book.
For fun, here’s a quote from ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’:
His tongue swirled the edges of her lust cave rapidly, like a slimy, jittery worm on its second espresso. Involuntarily, she squealed. She was a newly born piglet, glistening with the damp afterbirth of love.
“This is wrong,” she cooed breathlessly. “We shouldn’t be doing this.”
“Shut up,” he said petulantly and slapped her right tit, leaving a pink handprint. She watched as her nipple became erect from the sting, rising above the pastoral landscape of her areola. It reminded her of Isengard.
A six-hour play based on the Bible recently ended a three-month run in Oslo, and people apparently went to it in droves. Imagine sitting though a six-hour play!
Some scholars aren’t surprised by the success of the Bible or plays based on it, explaining that faith is a deeply personal matter in this nation of taciturn Scandinavians who tend to withdraw to remote forests, mountains, and fjords to spend their handsomely paid vacation time.
“Church attendance is a poor measure of the Norwegian state of faith,” said Thorgeir Kolshus, a post-doctoral fellow at the university of Oslo.
But Bible sales and play attendance is a good measure? Hm.
Six-hours, though. Hopefully Odin blessed them with plenty of bathroom breaks.
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Norway is one of the most secular places in a largely secular Europe. Only 1 percent of its 5 million people attend church. When a Norwegian looks into the night sky, a black, meaningless abyss that goes on forever looks back at him, nihilistically to be sure.
but not like the cops we have today. He didn’t carry a machine gun and had never beat anyone up in the name of security. He never smoked the drugs he confiscated, nor did he get a cut of the property he seized. Times were quite different at the beginning of the century, kids.
Pete was a cop, yes, but unlike most cops, even back then, he wasn’t a fucking dick. As a child, he hadn’t been a bully, hall monitor, or tattletale, and despite these psychological red flags, had gotten into the academy anyway.
Pete honestly wanted to serve his community. Back then, you could still say ‘community’ without everybody cracking up. He wanted to actually protect and serve, and not protect and serve the fucking hell out of you, like our cops today.
Oh, sure, back then they had cops like we got now. Many, if not most, were cruel, evil bastards who sprouted wood watching weaklings squirm under the boot. But that was officially frowned upon. Police brutality was still prosecuted in those days, although those accused automatically got off or were given a slap on the wrist for show. Nowadays, of course, ‘police brutality’ is a redundant phrase.
Pete was genuinely a good guy. He really wanted to help and often did. One time he had found a toddler who had wandered out of his yard while his mother was having an anxiety attack in the bathroom after her boyfriend had dumped her. The poor little guy could have been easily run over by an energy drink truck or something. Turns out he was just a few houses down, playing in the yard of another family.
Pete was all over that case like dots on dice, solving it in short order and averting disaster. Triumphantly, he steered the little guy home to a life of moderate to severe neglect due to parental self-absorption. “Maybe he’ll grow up to be tortured rock star,” thought Pete wistfully as he delivered the boy back to his mother, who was pleading on the phone with Rick, her former boyfriend, to take her back.
“Pleeeeeaaase,” she was begging into the phone as Pete climbed back into his police cruiser. “I’ll suck your cock so good, baby.”
Pete had done many things in his career of which he was proud. He had probably gotten more than a hundred drunk drivers off the road. He had personally convinced a drug-addled prostitute to go into rehab. He had prevented two armed robberies and had even administered CPR to a car crash victim, saving her life.
In the summer of 2018, Pete was working the Q1 Music Festival and quite enjoying himself. He liked working special events, finding them quite fun and varied, as opposed to patrolling in his cruiser, which could often be quite repetitive. He was on foot, keeping an eye on what had been deemed Zone 7, which was mainly the area of concessions and picnic tables, when a young woman ran up to him and asked for help.
“I was just in the bathroom,” she said breathlessly, “and I’m pretty sure someone was spying on me.” <end of part one>
I don’t know if I told you guys about me being all obsessed with cacti, but I am. Specifically growing them from seed. I am currently the proud papa of three teeny Sand Dollar seedlings.
Here’s a grown-up.
I have also a teeny Arizona Rainbow.
I am excited and stoked and everything about growing cactus. I researched and researched how to do it. I even bought a book, which has proven useless. I can sum this stupid book up in one sentence: DON’T WATER THEM TOO MUCH AND PUT THEM IN A SOUTHERN WINDOW.
Hell, I coulda told you that. For free. This waste-of-space book cost me $7.
The internet has been very helpful. There are many cactus communities out there. Many forums. It’s 2013 and there is an active community and forum for everything.
Do you like to steal bird’s eggs out of their nests? There’s a whole community and forum devoted to it. Maybe even two. Choose a username and sign in. You’ll learn tips by just reading the discussions:
“What if the tree is too tall and I can’t manage to reach the nest, therefore am unable to steal the bird’s eggs?”
Thirty people will answer, helping you out, all of which will no doubt be variations on the “get a fucking ladder” theme.
This follows along with how there’s a porn for everything. Are you attracted to feces? There’s a porn for that. You can watch a shit video and masturbate while human civilization crumbles all around you.
Do crusty elbows in dire need of lotion get you hard/moist? You’re not alone. There’s a hundred thousand other people who are also hardened/moistened by crusty elbows in dire need of lotion. Choose a username and connect. Talk about how fucking hot crusty elbows in dire need of lotion are and masturbate while human civilization crumbles all around you.
I was thinking about cacti, though, about how tough they are. You can pee on a cactus or never water it at all. You can flip it off from across the room. You can force it to grow in rocks. You can forget you even have a cactus for, like, a whole year.
The damn thing will still be alive. It doesn’t give a shit. Bring it.
I think this is why I’m so attracted to them. They evolved to live in totally shit conditions. No rain. No nutrients in the dead sandy soil. Blasted with fiery sun.
“Fuck it,” the cactus says. “I’m home.”
Reading about their care and feeding, I learned, in fact, that they hate all the wimpy shit regular plants normally like. Give them a lot of water and they’ll die. Put them in rich soil and they will flounder.
How weird is that?
If you think about it, a cactus used to be a normal plant, but everything went wrong for it. Instead of giving up and dying like a lot of other plants, it put its boots on and went to work figuring out how to live in these now super sucky conditions.
The cactus liked it, though. It figured out how to live in a burning desert, but it wasn’t just biding it’s time until the rain and topsoil came back. In fact, now if you give it lots of rain and yummy yummy topsoil, it’ll keel over dead.
Evolution is weird. I believe in it, but it can’t be explained. “Survival of the fittest” is just survival of the survivors if you think about it. There’s no way to determine if a lifeform is fit to survive except by the fact that it survives.
Survival of the fittest is bullshit. It’s like saying the waves on the sea cause the wind.
But whatever. I really like cacti and totally think they’re the bomb.
I have lived in a trailer court or two and the last time, the most recent, I was living in a rust red single wide, a total shithole, floors caving in, stains all over the ceiling, a weird, elusive smell, the works. Down the way lived Jesus, or so I pretended. Maybe six or eight trailers down, Fucking Jesus H. Christ.
Or he was some dude who looked like him, with the beard and the hair and even the sandals. He was all about peace and love, I pretended. I didn’t know anything about him, so had to pretend a great deal.
He drove a Toyota Corolla, like me. We were brothers, Jesus H. Christ and me. Car brothers.
He would come and go, doing his daily shit, and I would peer at him through the dirty curtains as he did it. His piece-of-shit Toyota coughing and smoking and back-firing as he went on his way to heal the sick, make the blind see, free the demon-haunted brains.
No one ever gave a shit, but, then, I didn’t tell them. I didn’t tell them “That’s Fucking Christ Jesus Himself, right there in that rusty Toyota!”
I would watch him come back, watch him get out of his car with a case of beer and a carton of smokes, and I’d pretend he was exhausted from helping the Lost Children of Nobody, from his missions, and that he was going back into his beat-up aluminum rectangle of a home to fucking relax in the hurry-up-and-die working poor way.
Also, I pretended he knew I was watching him. He was my Fucking Lord And Savior after all, so how the hell could he not? He knew I had my nose in the dusty curtains, knew that I was looking to him for guidance, for example, for meaning, for life, truth, god, the American Fucking Way.
Sometimes I wouldn’t see him for a while. I’d look and nothing. His car just sitting there for hours was all I’d see. I’d grow bored, turn on the tv, grow bored again, and turn it off. Sometimes I wouldn’t see him for hours and hours and I’d become lonely and sad, desperate, lost like a Lost Child of Nobody.
I would begin cheating on Jesus, begin looking out different windows in different directions, pretending the woman who had just come out of the shower with the towel on her head was Allah or the fat shirtless guy was Buddha or the old man Albert Einstein. I pretended the guy who was always fixing his boat was fucking Odin, the One-Eyed God of the frozen north from whence my people came in great wooden ships to terrorize, to teach, to steal and build.
It was like this the whole time I lived there in the trailer court, me peering out the damn windows, day after day, seeing everything or nothing, pretending what was necessary to give it context because it had none.
Then one day, a Wednesday, I realized I was losing my fucking mind. I located my car keys, got in my own rusty Toyota, and got the holy fucking hell out of there. As I drove through the trailer court, faster and faster, I could feel dozens upon dozens of eyes on me, crawling like ants, eyes which did more than look, eyes which told stories at me, yelled stories at me, pleading, with question marks ending every sentence. Stories which made no sense. Stories which were crazy. Stories like this one.
And as I turned onto the main road, I found myself driving the fastest of all, well over the legal limit, my tiny Toyota motor screaming. In the rearview mirror I watched the trailer court diminish, growing smaller and smaller, until even the dim light it produced was nothing at all.
It’s a very anti-choice state.
It’s worked, too. Abortions have been going down and down here. They are half what they were 20 years ago. Women have to jump through a lot of artificial hoops made up to make getting an abortion difficult—mandatory counseling, waiting period, forced to look at sonograms, etc. We try to fuck with their fragile heads as much as possible around here. So far, though, we’ve drawn the line at shoving medicial instruments into their vaginas. So far.
Today in the local paper, they are lamenting the rise in unwed pregnancies in the state. Lulz.
It seems that unwed, single mother pregnancies have gone up and up, kinda like how abortions have been going down and down, only backwards.
It’s a real head-scratcher, I’m tellin’ ya.
The people lamenting this, of course, say a bunch of tired crap about how important mom-and-dad traditional families are, but mostly they’re worried about what all these little babies are going to cost. You see, a great many, if not the majority, of these single unwed mothers are poor and are seeking and getting help from the state.
And that’s expensive.
Anne Hajek, one of our state legislators, wants to know, and I quote, “Who pays the bill?”
Gee, I wonder, Anne. Another real head-scratcher.
Linda Schauer, state director for the anti-choice group Concerned Women for America, said, “It appears that perhaps a woman in South Dakota in an unplanned pregnancy is more likely to give birth and raise her own child.”
She also noted that the sky was blue, mountains tall, and rocks hard.
But isn’t this the whole point of passing laws designed to be mean and intrusive, to limit abortions? Since the Supreme Court won’t let a state ban abortion outright, states have to make getting an abortion so difficult and uncomfortable they’re practically banned anyway.
So now we have all these little babies who need state assistance. Schauer says we need to make sure the parents take care of them.
With or without the help of the community, Schauer? Help from the wider community in which a person lives is usually derided by conservatives as “welfare” or “entitlements”. According to conservatives, not only MUST you carry that baby full term, you have to fend for yourself with it after it’s born, amiright?
Whether or not you are pro- or anti-choice, we should all be pro fucking baby once the damn thing is born.
It started out, like everything horrifying in this world, innocuously enough.
I had bought a bar, actually a bar/lounge, and I was one happy camper about it. It was a rundown place, dirty and dusty, but it was mine. I got to work right away fixing her up for opening day, which was something like a week hence.
I got this big pressurized deep fryer for chicken. That was going to be my specialty: fried chicken. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps I thought it’d be funny as a vegetarian.
“Hi, I’m Mike, a vegetarian who specializes in fried chicken. Introduce me to your daughter. She looks lovely.”
*insert creepy two-second clip of me licking my chops*
Of course, while I was perfecting my super awesome fried chicken recipe, I would have to taste. I am a cook first and a vegetarian second.
I also got a video lottery machine so me and the government could team up and steal lots of money from stupid people using the highly effective variable reinforcement schedules of Pavlovian psychology. No bar in modern America is complete without some dipshit planted in front of a video lottery machine, staring glassy-eyed into the blinky screen and feeding an endless series of dollar bills into its hairless and welcoming stainless steel slit.
The place was a real fixer-upper and there was much to be done and I was thoroughly enjoying doing it. It was my place, my own, my preciousss.
In one corner, I came across a pile of dusty boards and rolled-up scraps of old carpet. Dumpster fodder to be sure. I wheeled my wheelbarrow over to it, all manly and shit, and got down on my sweaty, well-muscled haunches. (I was wearing tight, blue-jean cutoffs, ladies).
I began to clean the area out.
Almost immediately a cloud of flying centipedes emerged from behind the pile and began trying to land on me. I screamed like a little bitch and started running, but the cloud of flying centipedes was very fast. Some were even landing on my neck!
I ran and ran all around my would-be bar, screaming and waving my arms crazily. Finally, I ran out the door, into the summer day. I ran and ran.
Behind me, the cloud of flying centipedes had grown to biblical proportions. There were millions upon millions of them now, so many that things around me were growing dim because they were actually blotting out the sun.
I ran faster and faster, but they got closer and closer. They began to land on me and to bite. They were biting and crawling on my bare shoulders and back. (I was shirtless, ladies) and the flying centipedes were slipping down my plumber’s crack, squirming and biting me where the sun don’t shine.
It was at this point, the instant before I was overwhelmed by the flying centipede cloud, that I awoke. The couch I was napping on was soaked with….let’s say sweat. I was gasping for breath and my heart was hammering in my chest.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” I said to my dog, who was curled up on my feet and looking at me weird.
I decided to walk in this upscale neighborhood. It was the first time I had been there.
A couple things:
First, it was cleaner. There were less oil stains on the asphalt, fewer beer cans, less trash overall. Not like the areas I normally walk in are shitholes or anything, but they do look like humans have been there. Occasionally, you come across an oil stain, a crushed, forgotten beer can, a scrap of paper. Not so here (I have since nicknamed it THE VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED).
Second, the houses were bigger, but uglier. They were McMansions, very cookie-cutter, and lacking personality—at least visually. I’m sure their inhabitants thought they were great, but they kinda reminded me of Hollywood celebs: skinny-pretty white girls and boys—but in house form (sorry Tumblr—I know who your true gods are, despite all this faux “atheist” bullshit). Also, their newness bothered me. Everything felt like it had been built last month.
So as I walked, I came across these signs in the thick, lush yards. The first one said BEWARE! AREA PATROLLED BY PEKINGESE SECURITY COMPANY! The second one, a block or two down the very clean, astoundingly straight road, said SCREW THE DOG! BEWARE OF OWNER!
The third one was the best: THIS HOUSE PROTECTED BY A PITBULL WITH AIDS! In the fabulous driveway of this last house sat a very new, very shiny pick-up truck. It literally glistened in the moonlight, like urine in freshly fallen snow (It was a yellow pick-up). On it’s bumper was a faded Romney/Ryan sticker. It was the only object in the whole neighborhood which had any wear and tear to it, this silly sticker, any dust or dirt on it, any asymmetry about it at all.
I found that hilarious and laughed my ass off under a streetlamp that was both perfectly vertical and sufficiently luminous.
I wish I was kidding.
Truthful Tuesday (names changed)…
TW: Animal abuse; implication of child abuse
I first met my friend Bob on a mountain lake beach playing volleyball with one hand because he was holding a beer. Since it was years and years ago, I don’t remember exactly how but I ended up playing volleyball with them. I think it had something to do with odd numbers.
I learned Bob and his group were Seventh Day Adventists, a Christian organization that thinks it’s really important to worship on Saturday. They think this because, like all Christian groups, they’ve mentally highlighted in psychic yellow ink certain lines of the Bible, deciding they’re more important than other lines in the Bible.
This was on a Sunday, by the way.
Bob was not exactly converted to the organization yet, thus the beer. I got the distinct vibe that the entire reason for their little get-together on the mountain lake beach was for his, Bob’s, benefit. They were ‘fellowshipping’ and trying to fully convert him.
Bob, though, was being a tough, if amicable, sell. He had his own cooler full of beer, for example, separate from the group’s cooler full of pop and water. He took and pretended to read every pamphlet handed to him, which he then carefully folded, stuffed in his pocket, and threw away later when they weren’t looking.
To this day, I’m not exactly sure how Bob got himself into that situation. I think maybe it had something to do with the fact that some of his relatives were Seventh Day Adventists. Something like that.
But that was how I met Bob and we were friends for over 20 years.
Our friendship ended over a dog, but not for a long time—20 years, as I said in the previous sentence. At times we were nearly day to day companions, smoking weed and getting drunk. At others, we lived in different towns and didn’t see each other but a couple of times a year. In the very end we were closer than ever, roommates even.
Bob moved away to another town for work.There, he met and fell in love with a woman. They got married and bought a house. The woman had been married previously and had a teenage daughter, who became Bob’s stepkid.
I went to their wedding, which was a Seventh Day Adventist ceremony. Bob always considered himself a Seventh Day Adventist, even though he didn’t attend church, was pretty much an alcoholic, and smoked weed almost daily. It was simply the little box he had checked off in his head.
Most people need to do that, I find, i.e., “I’m Catholic!”; “I’m atheist!”; “I’m a Colorado Rockies fan!”.
Then tragedy, like it often does, struck. A few years after they got married, Bob’s wife fell ill and passed away. His stepdaughter wanted to finish growing up with blood relatives and he was left all alone in his house.
I did not go to the funeral, which I’m sure was a Seventh day Adventist ceremony.
During the time Bob was married and a stepfather, he didn’t drink or smoke weed. He had become what he had always wanted to become: a regular Joe Schmo. Not only did he have a yard, he even fucking mowed it.
I come back into his picture at this point. I had called up Bob and gave him my condolences, of course, shortly after he lost his wife, and this started us talking regularly again.
Bob resumed his drinking and he would call me up smashed a lot, trying to talk me in to coming up and partying with him (he lived a few hundred miles away). I was having financial issues of the completely fucking broke kind and always declined. At work, my hours had been cut and I was having trouble making rent.
“Come on up and live with me,” he said.
“Hell, yeah. I got plenty of room. This is a three bedroom, one and a half bath house, and I’m the only one here. I got a garage, even a deck. We’ll have cookouts! Plus, there’s a shitload more jobs around here.”
So I packed up and headed north.
My first few days of living with Bob were spent in an alcoholic haze of reminiscing. We were reconnecting and in a lot of ways it was just like old times.
There were some odd little things, though, that began cropping up. Like, for example, padlocks on all the cabinets in the main bathroom. They weren’t locked or anything, but someone had gone to the trouble to install them. Heavy, pendulous padlocks hung unclasped on every cabinet door in the bathroom. WTF?
I asked him about them.
“Oh, that was because of my daughter.” He always referred to his stepdaughter as his daughter. He told me they had begun the process of him adopting her when the illness struck and sidelined everything.
“Because of your daughter?”
“Yeah, she used a lot of towels and rags and stuff when she showered. I mean who needs to use two towels when they shower?”
“So you installed padlocks on all the cabinets?”
“Yep. I had to distribute her towels and toiletries because she always used too much of everything.”
“You had to?”
“Yeah. She was a handful.”
Also, his reaction to some of my books. I had, of course, brought my books with me when I moved in, and he didn’t like the ones on Buddhism. I had (still have, in fact), ten or twelve Buddhist books, sutras and commentaries mostly, some stuff by the Japanese Zen master Dogen, various other related material. He had a problem when he noticed them.
“I’d rather you not have those.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’d rather they not be in my house.”
“Yeah.” He laughed and shook his head like I was some sort of idiot.
I ended up keeping them in the trunk of my car. WTF?
During our many drunken conversations, I discovered that Bob was at constant odds with and truly power-struggling with his daughter. At least that was how he presented it.
“She was such a willful teenager.”
On school nights, she was expected home by 4 pm and couldn’t go out afterward. The only night she was allowed out was Friday and her curfew was 9 pm.
She was a 16 year old, for Christ sake.
One time, he told me that she didn’t make it home till 9:30 pm and he had to ground her for the remaining school year.
This occurred in October. On Halloween, in fact—which, he explained, he didn’t want her participating in anyway.
By grounding, he meant that he picked her up from school everyday and took her there every morning. She was not allowed to do anything else. Apart from school, she had to be at home, and could only go out with a parent. Also, she was not allowed a phone or handheld device, nor access to the net or tv.
“I had no choice,” he lamented. “Teenagers, huh?”
Shortly after this conversation, I discovered the markings on the wood frame of my bedroom door of where a padlock had once been installed. It would have locked from the outside, of course, and guess who’s room it used to be?
I began to grow some distance between us. Not really because of the above, but because of the alcohol. Bob was a full-blown drunk, way worse than he had ever been in our younger days. Now, I like to drink, don’t get me wrong, but getting completely and utterly shitfaced every single night? No, thanks. I enjoy getting lit up once or twice a week, but I just couldn’t do it every night anymore. I had drank like a fish for the first week or so after moving in, but the ‘special occasionness’ of it all wore off and sometimes I’d just want to kick back with a puzzle or a book.
Meanwhile, Bob would be out in the living room blasting Foghat and pissing his pants.
I got a job, settled into a routine, and began searching the paper for a place of my own.
It was about two months after I had moved in that Bob came home with a dog. It was adorable, a young, light brown, medium-sized female with big friendly eyes and a super waggy tail. He had gotten her from a co-worker who had to move house and could no longer keep her.
Bob named her Leah, after his daughter.
Things went to shit almost immediately. The next morning after he got her, I went to work like always, and on my way home I stopped and bought a Pringles potato chip can full of tennis balls as a present for Leah.
When I got home, me, Leah, and Bob, spent the warm afternoon and evening out in the yard playing with the balls. It was great.
As darkness settled in, Bob, of course, began drinking and I joined him. I still drank with him from time to time. Just not every day. He was pretty fun to drink with, up to a certain point. Eventually, he’d get insensible, unable to communicate, stumbling around. I’d call it a night at that point. But for three or four hours, it was the old Bob and pretty damn fun.
Leah was underfoot as we drank. Young and curious, she’d go from me to Bob and back again. We interacted with her and our little party was kind of all about her, which she didn’t mind at all. Bob began to be a little annoyed with her, shooing her away good-naturedly, but then more firmly.
Eventually, he decided that Leah needed to lay down and “be fucking mellow”. He insisted that she lay down on the mat in front of the door. She complied, but only for a second. Bob would make her go back to the mat, getting rougher and rougher with her.
“LAY THE FUCK DOWN!” he screamed at her.
But young and impetuous, she couldn’t, not permanently.
He began to kick her when she’d get off the mat. Hard.
“Fucking chill,” I told him. I felt a bit cornered. It was Bob’s house and Bob’s dog, after all. I’d try to get her to lay on the mat, even sitting next to it cross-legged with her and petting her. But I’d get up to piss or something and BANG! he’d kick her in the ribs.
I stayed up all the way with Bob that time, not wanting to leave Leah alone with him. At one point, after he had completely gone over to the Drunk Side, I even restrained him from kicking her.
Finally he passed out with urine spreading to the knees of his blue jeans.
And so it went every night, for three or four days. Bob got wasted every night and Leah was supposed to lay on the mat in front of the door while he did it or she’d get kicked, fucking hard. The super waggy tail that had once wagged so much it was blurry now hung between her legs like a thing paralyzed or dead. She was terrified of him and this only pissed him off more. If he wanted to pet her, which he did randomly on occasion, she’d flee from him. He would rage and then kick her.
Using my phone, I recorded several instances of his abuse and went to the cops. I spoke to the animal control officer and showed him my video. As he watched, he began to shake his head.
“Well, that’s pretty clear,” he said. “If needed, can we use this in court?”
“Would you be willing to appear?”
I filled out a bunch of papers, signed a bunch of things and went home.
Bob was drinking. I began to drink too. By now, Leah had been trained. Her spirit was completely broken and she pretty much refused to leave the mat in front of the door. I’d call her to me and she would look at Bob and put her head down.
About 9 pm that night, the cops knocked on the door. Bob kicked Leah to make her move from the mat so he could answer it.
They told Bob they were taking Leah and explained that he had the right to go to court to plead his case and try and get her back. They had anonymous complaints of abuse, they said, and even cellphone video.
Off she went. Bob looked at me. “You fucker.”
“Who else would it be?”
“Yeah, it was me. And fuck you.”
We fought—physically. We both ended up bloody and bruised. The kitchen table was destroyed. It ended in a draw and I packed my shit and left that night to constant “get-the-fuck-outs!”
Two years ago, I moved back to this town for a second time. I actually live about four blocks from Bob and his three bedroom, one and a half bath house as I write this.
Even though I’ve been here two years, I have yet to stop by and say howdy.
I’m sure you understand.
Not really lamenting about him but perhaps being perplexed by him.
“His teachers all rave about him. He excels at all his school work. I never have to tell him to do homework. He does it on his own without any prompting. During his last conference, the principal said she thinks he might even be gifted. But I tell you, he is the shyest, most awkward kid. He can’t relate to anybody. Plus, he lacks all common sense.”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, he can’t tell the difference between the recycle bin and the trash bin. He’s constantly mixes them up when he’s doing his chores, throwing trash in the recycle bin and recyclables in the trash bin. We even got a letter from the city about it. One’s blue and one’s black, for God’s sake.”
“Perhaps he doesn’t give a shit.”
“His father and I have sat him down and explained to him time and again. But there are other things besides that, like all toothbrushes go in the toothbrush holder on the sink. His sister’s, mine, his father’s are all right there, plus there’s a slot for his toothbrush. But for some reason he just lays it right down on the sink, right next to the toothbrush holder even. There’s just lots of little things like that. He just lacks common sense. I don’t understand how someone can be so smart but still so lacking in common sense, in everyday ordinary smarts.”
“Have you ever thought that it went both ways?”
“Yeah, like the people who are socially adept, gifted even, with lots of friends. People who are extroverted and involved and making smart, reasonable decisions, people who know where the trash goes and, what’s more, care. People who put their toothbrush in the toothbrush holder in the designated slot, has it ever occurred to you that they might be dumb as rocks?”
“Seriously. I’ve heard that complaint before a lot—that super-smart people lack common sense. But take a person with common sense coming out their ass and ask them who Schopenhauer is and all you get is a blank look.”
I remember reading that almost every day when I took a piss. I would stand there, pissing and reading “clinically proven to relieve dry skin”.
What does that even mean? What clinic? There are people proving this in clinics? In Africa, children are starving, AIDS is rampant. War is everywhere. Religious nuts of the This and That persuasion are killing each other in the Middle East and elsewhere. People in the richest country on Earth are dying of cancer because they don’t have enough money and people are squirreled away in clinics fucking working on this shit?
As her bath products built up, I became angrier and angrier. They are toiletries, actually, but who says ‘toiletries’? They fucking built up and built up. There was more and more of them until the bathroom was stuffed.
If I bitched at her she felt attacked, so I’d lay off, say nothing, and there’d be more and more of them. She wasn’t happy, of course. How could she be? Her entire psychology had been manipulated to think she wasn’t good enough as is, that she needed all this fucking useless shit, that her skin was so dry that she needed some clinically proven goop to relieve it.
Her routine in the morning got longer and longer and longer and the only thing she was doing was applying more and more corporately produced chemicals on to her body, layer after layer. It was like she was building a shell.
Basically, she was convinced that burying herself was a good idea, a clinically proven one. I disagreed, and for that I was an asshole…”
(excerpt from my novel coming out later this year)
— 900-year-old writing advice from an Icelandic Saga.
This time, my hair is black, parted on the side. When I was young, my hair was dirty blond or light brown. It only turned black in my late twenties, after I had shaved it all off. I am walking through empty small town streets, stepping over skeletons. There are thousands of skeletons covering the ground, thousands and thousands of them.
I am heading, for some reason, toward a grocery store. Like everything in this town it is abandoned, boarded up, sinking back into the earth. I don’t know why I’m heading that way, but I am. I simply feel compelled to go there. As I near it, stepping over and around the skeletons like someone crossing a stream on stones, a young boy runs up out of the dim light and asks for my help. “Please, Mister, please!”
I begin to follow him and suddenly we’re in woods. The darkness of the abandoned, death-smeared, skeleton-choked town is gone and we’re in the brightness of trees. Summer sun, high noon, cloudless sky. Green everywhere and heady, intoxicating scent of vegetation.
The boy is crouching by a man a few feet in front of me. The man’s chest is torn open and his heart is exposed. I see it beating wetly, glistening in the bright light.
“Please, Mister!” the boy says again.
I hurry over and kneel beside the man. He is barely conscious. I try not to look directly at his exposed heart. Something needs to be done and, for some reason, I know I am the only one to do it. What, exactly, I do not know.
The boy’s eyes are desperate, pleading.
Finally, I look at the exposed heart. I reach out and grab hold of it, feeling it squirming and twitching in my hands. It is slimy and hard to hold on to. My hand is instantly covered in blood. Not knowing what else to do, I try to push the heart back into his chest, into the large gash next to it. It is difficult and I use more and more force, pushing and squeezing harder on the heart. I hear a ripping sound and blood begins shooting high into the air.
I let go of the heart, practically throwing it at the man’s gnarled chest, and jump up.
The boy is gone, running wildly through the trees. His cries and screams echo back to me.
I look at the man’s face and watch as he dies, as his skin fades to a glossy, waxy white and his eyes, once darting and full of fear, become still and staring.
I look up into the flat blue cloudless sky and notice how there is nothing up there. It isn’t a real sky, I decide, but a fake one, a painted-on sky, and it hides a terrible secret.
I look down again at the man and he is already a skeleton. So is my hand, the one which had held his bloody heart.
It’s obvious, but not completely—aging, I mean. Some things are given: I can’t drink like I used to. I actually NEED to sleep. When I was in my 20s, I’d get 3 hours and be good to go. Sure, I’d be grouchy, but I wouldn’t be physically compromised like now. I have gray in my beard. My johnson still gets hard, but sticking it into any available hole now strikes me as a bad idea. I have become highly selective when it comes to my johnson. Roughly 90 percent of the women I meet make me want to masturbate, but not for the reasons you’d think. I have passed the point where bad movies aren’t funny, too. They’re just bad movies and my time is more precious than irony.
One other thing I have noticed: “The Economy”. It always pretty much sucks, really sucks, kind of sucks, or is about to suck. It isn’t just “this” economy, but all economies. It sucked in the early 90s. It sucked in the late 80s. It sucked in the late 70s and in early 80s.
The economy either sucks, is about to suck, or just got done sucking—only to suck again.
Surely you people in your late 30s and up have noticed this too? I contend that a 50 year old person has spent 40 years of his or her life under a bad economy.
Imagine what would happen if there was no economy? News would not exist. 99% of the ideologies we have made up would be gone. You would go to talk about something and just end up shrugging your shoulders. There would be no politicians. All politicians do is worry about the economy. Everyone has a competing theory on how to fix the economy and, obviously, none of them work.
The economy is like a junky car you keep putting money into. The tailpipe falls off, so you fix it. The minute you get it home, the U-joint goes out. You fix that, but then alternator goes out. You fix that, then it’s the battery….
This is “the economy”.
You have socialism and unions and capitalism and mixed socialism and capitalism and bartering and communism and god knows what else and it matters not one fucking bit because THE ECONOMY SUCKS (or will suck soon).
The economy is like a disease, like a disease the whole human race has. We can’t cure it, just maintain it. It’s diabetes or AIDS that way. We’ll never cure it and we’ll always be kinda sick. Eventually, it’ll probably kill us.
The funny thing is, you can major in economics. You can go to college and learn all about it and nobody there realizes that they are learning how to simply “maintain” a partial, complete, or soon-to-be shitty economy. You have people studying the broken U-joint on our metaphorical car or people delving into the mysteries of how to fix the battery. It never occurs to anyone that we need a whole new car.
I have no answers either. I can’t fix the economy and neither can you. The person you voted for certainly can’t fix it. You elected him to work on the economy. Why in hell would he fix it? I wouldn’t perfect a machine that could write funny. Hell no.
Perhaps having a shitty economy is necessary for us, like evolutionarily. It is so constantly and consistently not working correctly that maybe it gives us something to talk about and try for. If we had a good economy (that lasted forever, not just 2-10 years), perhaps we’d stagnate, like most rock stars do after they finally make it.
It’s hard to be brilliant when you’re sitting around your mansion with a gorgeous groupie going down on you all the time, amirite?
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