Monday, November 29, 2010

Who Is Without Flaws

On the company’s last day, I stuffed black bags with file folders, broken staplers, wires, plastic shelving.

We ate takeout Chinese. Two days before, we learned the feds were coming. Two months into this job, it was time to call my parents, say, I’m jobless again.

We learned the news in a group meeting. Some assertive types raised their hands, gleefully asked, how can we help? Me, I pondered my stupidity working here.

I piled kung pao chicken onto wobbly paper plates, then talked to Jill, who, industrious as ever, was shredding papers. I asked, what’re your plans? She said, maybe get margaritas. I meant like, long term, but just nodded, depressed about our differences. See Ted for your last pay. She didn’t look up.

Ted had Eddie Vedder hair, never wore ties. He sat cross legged in a barren office. Before him, a laptop and accordion folder.

He looked up, said, Bell, retrieved an envelope from his folder. Cash--you’ll understand.

Ted, what’s next?

Well, we’re gone by 5:00, then detail guys hit this place with Q-tips and toothbrushes.

That’s not what I meant. But I just nodded.

I always stumbled explaining my job. It’s varied--database, spreadsheet, support. Dad never understood. You need goals, mom would say.

Back on the floor, shredder hum meditation was broken by packing tape screech.

Soon, I’d return to resumes, Careerbuilder, interviews with bad-breathed sharks. For now, I read my fortune cookie: who is without flaws? I tucked it into my pocket.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Danger Man (additional Casolaro material)

Extra Casolaro related material. I have more extras like this that I may post occasionally.

Danger Man flew to Iran in 1980 and handed their leadership promises to $40 million to not release the American hostages until the election was over and the next President was inaugurated. Danger Man spent his time on Native American reservations, working on new weapons systems and improvising new airborne explosive devices. Danger Man also dabbled in the software, the modified backdoor program that allowed rerouted spying that sort of started the whole thing, became the single dot starting point of the investigation of the Octopus. Danger Man was a drug dealer. Anything to make some cash, the dirtier and shadier the better. Danger Man was a dangerous man, as his name implied.

Danger Man eventually got busted for the drugs. A phony charge, even though he was dealing methamphetamines, but he felt that he knew too much, he was too far involved, and he had to be neutralized. When he went down, he told the court about INSLAW. They’re tracking other governments, people they think are subversives in this country. They’re tracking everyone. They know what you do.

Danger Man said that the investigator and his Octopus were nothing more than what a particular intelligence faction wanted to be revealed and there was nothing there that was revolutionary or should cause any particular uproar. It was inevitable the investigator would be done away with. That’s how these things played out back then, he said, before the current setup, the assassination by mass media. He played a part in feeding information. He knew about the hit that ended the investigator's life, framed it in a suicide.

Danger Man claimed he witnessed an alien autopsy once. His connections were that deep that if such a thing were real it would be believable he’d be a part of it.

Danger Man had seen anti-gravity technology made by the government. He’d seen scientists back track alien technology. He’d seen a manmade version of a UFO. Completely functional, unlike any other technology on this planet.

He was a danger man when he was a child (Danger Boy?). He rewired his neighborhood’s phone system, circumventing the big monopoly system, his first crack at undercover subversion. In eighth grade he created a three-dimensional sonar system, winning his school’s science fair.

Danger Man sits in prison. He’ll tell you that he’s there because they want him to be viewed as a petty drug trafficker with a devious smart mind. But he insists he’s more than that, and that you should know better.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Real Fun of Vivian Darkbloom

I am a weakish speller.

In the department, I bury messages and play games. I talk quarks and hadrons, quarks within hadrons, and the flavors of quarks. Up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom. Hear me speak. Watch me. My hair stands like burning flames. My mouth is crinkled, eyes slipping downward like melting candlewax. I start off with something like, I have observed the most distant planet to have a triple form. There are a few chuckles in the crowd, those whom I’ve slipped into their mailboxes Torchwood and King’s Lead Hat, and more people get it each year. It beats talking gluons and vector gauge bosons, inverse beta decay and electron antineutrinos.

Call me Vivian Darkbloom. But I know nothing about butterflies, or that young girl. Humbert Humbert is an anagram either way. People ask me if I take drugs and the key there is the tense; present no but the past? The future? Hmmmh.

A colleague from biology walks into my office. Moon starer? No, that’s not me, go up two, take a left, take your first right, then go straight until the moor at the end. Room? Yes, but the guy is also a moor, believe it or not. We have a good laugh. This guy’s straight and narrow, pens in front pocket, but we get along. Coffees, lunches, spitballs from the math building roof.

There’s someone out there anagrammatizing your dissertation. Did you know this? He’s starting, “Though this is the air where Quentin takes the hodge of the podge. There is no amity, only that queer shake.” It’s not sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. He’s going beginning to end, so he indicates online. The whole 160 pages. Says there’s an experimental work in there, a greater meaning. A never-ending cycle, are words he used. Circular, revolving.

Who is this guy? Suddenly I’m unnerved. This treatment—it’s, there’s a word for it, I’m sure.

Greg House? Sound familiar? Didn’t indicate he was a former student, someone with an axe to grind. The worst thing to fear is the bored anonymous soul out there who somehow has picked you to exact his boredom upon.

House? Never heard of him. That shipwreck of a dissertation though. Death, it starts in ice. I wrote it and didn’t know what I was talking about. That was my true defense. So, why is he taking my penchant, turning it against me? I suppose I should be amazed someone picked it up, read it.

Maybe you could cease and desist.

There’s a word for that in biology, isn’t there? Tip of my tongue.

Yes. The word’s death.

Voices rant no more.

Later I ponder that it’s all over. All coming apart. Higher mass decaying into lower mass. The constituents falling apart, moving toward free existence, everything moving to liquid, formlessness. End is a car spin.

I find this anagrammatizer, his project. His site, hinged on my dissertation, expands daily. Page by page, a meter like a thermometer tracking blazing fever showing progress, hit counter increasing, the turnstiles of curiosity, leaving quark epoch in dust. Hey, you coward, I shout at the flickering screen. There’s a brief write-up in the odd news. He’s a mini-celeb. No one contacts me.

Down this hole, frightened, I stop circulating my anagrams. People stop by, call, e-mail: what’s wrong? A rope ends it. I focus on lectures, papers. It’s all bad news because I know where it all leads.

I see now after the final explosions, the winter over all. Here come dots to spell out the last epoch. The fine game of nil. A weakish speller, I am. Not anymore.

Now—I’m a dot in place.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mind Meld

This is just me rambling on about movies from the 80s. There is no coherence here.

I was eleven when I first saw Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in the movie theater, and I was devastated that Spock had died at the end. Look, I was just eleven at the time and I didn’t know about that mind meld stuff, Spock putting his fingers on Bones’ face and saying, remember, and that meant in the next sequel he’d come back to life. My friends and I went around putting our fingers on each other’s faces and said, remember, not knowing what the heck we were doing.

Stuff like that that made absolutely no sense to my eleven year old mind was said all the time. Like in The Empire Strikes Back—Yoda says, no, there is another, and like I’m supposed to know that little line meant Luke and Leia are siblings, or Darth Vader telling Luke that he was his father was supposed to be real? Back then, we were debating whether or not Boba Fett was really Luke’s dad. Then, in The Wrath of Khan, you’ve got Khan quoting Moby Dick throughout and I’m supposed to get that? For Spock, I figured, you killed someone, he stayed dead, which I think was the big reason why my father was a big Dirty Harry fan.

Anyway, Spock dying was upsetting, but the really disturbing thing was when Khan planted those bugs into the ears of Chekhov and that other guy. I was freaked out, and there was no way any bug was getting within a foot of my ears. It was sort of like when I saw E.T. soon after. I loved E.T. but I was afraid that long glowing bony alien finger that looked like white hot metal you’d pull from a foundry would pop out from under my bed and say, ouch!, and I would scream and no one would hear. A couple years later there’d be Temple of Doom—don’t get me started. Even as a grown up I can’t even watch the scenes of the room full of bugs and the meal with snakes and monkey brains.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Baked Apple Pie

The composer was confounded by baked apple pies left outside his door.  In his place composing music, his mind and compositions growing more paranoid over time.  Concertos and string quartets that no one would hear; he kept them secret, not making public appearances, concerts of these late stage works performed only in his mind.  Days with ears to the wall, quick peeks through the shades and the door peephole to see a still life hallway; nights he’d sneak out to jazz clubs, lose himself in formlessness, drinking whiskey as he blended in with the room, leaning against a cold brick wall.  Then the pies appeared.  The first one he saw when he opened the door, looked down at the doormat.  There it was.  A pie.  Apple filling showing through a lattice-topped fence.  He picked it up—the bottom still hot, the smell intoxicating.  It sat in his kitchen untouched; he stared at it each time he went for coffee.  The next several days later.  His resistance broke; he ate a slice.  It freed him, paranoia fading the more he consumed, the forms of composition losing hardness, his works growing fluid, boundless.  The saxophone of night entered his mind, the day something he no longer feared as he waited for his benefactor’s return. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thinly Sliced Raw Fish

New one today, here

Fiction under 100 words.  New post every other day.  50 posts total.