going for gogol


 

   So the jig’s finally up and here I am coming out with my hands raised to the sky. Yes, I, David Eggers have been the merry prankster (sans LSD) behind the past five months of various claims to authorship on this here site. As of today you can put your address in the comments section below to receive a copy of all the contents on this site in a special 141-box edition of McSweeneys. Each story is written around a box which opens up to another box and down and down it goes until the smallest box, which is today’s story, will be in the palm of your hand for you to enjoy.

   I hope you’ve enjoyed all the playful fictions on this blog. 

 

Arms, Arms, Arms, the Arms of the Man

 

   Anderson was sorely disappointed in his newly acquired abundance of arms. He’d forgotten to pick up the six-sleeved t-shirt handmade by his mother in anticipation of the great change so for the first week he walked around with his extras bundled around his belly, stretching out his favorite t-shirts beyond belief. All he wanted was to put these extra appendages to good use. “It’s like carrying around a bunch of unopened Christmas gifts under your shirt,” he complained to his co-worker, Marc, in the mail sorting room. “Go shirtless,” Marc suggested. “In pubic?” Anderson hollered and he threw a letter bound for Bolivia into the domestic bin. 

   Anderson made mistakes. He was a busy man. While his supervisor, Bernard, berated him later that afternoon for having the highest rate of misdirected mail, Anderson counted – thumb to fingers- the reasons for his failings. When Bernard stopped shouting to take a sip from his tepid coffee, Anderson countered with 17 explanations which included: Marc makes innate suggestions regarding my personal life, I’m still waiting for the six-sleeved t-shirt which will help me be the best employee this place has ever seen and I have chronic itching which keeps my hands preoccupied. As Anderson explained this one of his new arms reached out from beneath his shirt to scratch at behind his knee.

    “And finally Marc keeps sexually harassing me. I got these extra arms to swat him back,” Anderson concluded, repeating a lunch-room joke that now come out in earnest. Why did he say that? 

     Bernard raised the thicker end of his monobrow.  “That’s a serious charge. We have to take that seriously, you know.” He walked behind his desk, opened a drawer and flipped through some files.

    Anderson nodded while his twenty fingers tapped out rolls beneath his shirt. It sounded as if his stomach were rumbling. His heart was beating furiously. Confess that it was just a joke. Yes, piss Bernard off even more.

    “Where did he touch you?” Bernard asked with his pen hovering over the official looking document. 

     “The buttocks,” Anderson said.

      “How many times?”

      “Three or four.”

      Anderson’s hands and arms became damp beneath his shirt. He felt like he was at the bottom of a pile of people. He wished he never gotten all these arms. Run, something inside him said. He wished he had ordered two new pairs of legs. But would his mother be able to find a pattern for pants that size? 

     “Anderson?”

     “Yeah?”

     “Sign here.”

     Beneath his shirt he crossed all his fingers and then signed the report.

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   And I’m fed up with shoveling out advice to people who are barely literate enough to put together a letter. I’ve been on a bender. It’s true. I’ve been holed up in this hotel room numbered 260 for the past three months and I have been drinking my face off. That’s why I’ve put up these past three months worth of stories and introductions and outlandish claims to being George Bush, a sled dog in Alaska and Osama Bin Laden. I’m drunk. I’m tired of giving advice about love or spoons or whatever garbage it is that I’ve been writing. The drinking works! I’m forgetting all those stupid letters. Booze forgets. You look into a bottle of JD and you’re looking straight into an ocean of forgetting. Booze works. There’s my frickin’ advice for all of you today. I’m Dear Abby and I’m drunk. Long live booze! 


Etiquette of the Heart and other Organs


    You live too tightly bound to the present, he thought as he struggled over his choice of cheeses. Either one will do. He put back the Havarti and placed the Edam into his green basket. 
   That evening she’s impressed by the dinner, the candles and the Bossa Nova. She’s particularly pleased that he served her Edam, the cheese which they’d nibbled on during their first date two years ago. She falls asleep with her lips moving through different stages of a smile.
    The next morning he throws up as usual. He barfs up some content from his night’s dream. Some small momento covered in dinner detritus that lays at the bottom of the bathroom sink. He turns on the hot water until steam rises from the bowl and then he turns on the cold. He picks it up and takes it into the shower.
   She joins him.
   “What’s that ?”
   “It’s a tire from a Hot-Wheels car that I had as a child.”
    “Wheely ?” she jokes but he hates all manner of baby-talk. He’s a different man in the morning, governed by knowledge of dislikes and irritations. He doesn’t want any kind of baby-talk in the relationship because this will push things in the direction of a baby. He supposes. 
   She squeezes liquid soap onto her scrunchie and rubs it down her arms.
   He wonders what the connection is between wheels and cheese until he remembers the lesson from the previous day.   
   He lets go of wondering and presses the tire into the belly of the bar of soap. It scratches a little as he rubs it up and down his arm. Then he rubs the bar down the side of her leg.
   She smiles.

   Yes the one and only and I’m adding to my new edition of Principia Discordia, the sacred text of the Discordian religion. This new edition is built on layers of voices that lie and then tell the truth and lie and then tell the truth and then lie.
   And tell the truth.



The Memory Bible 


   Abram Abromavitch, whose memory started to go at the age of 60, took meticulous notes of daily life in the margins of his leather-bound Bible. Over the proceeding years his chicken scratch started to stumble all across the pages of the Old and New Testaments. At 70, he’d forgotten all about his past enterprise of note-taking in his Bible and as his sight was failing him he had his great-grandson slowly read to him from the Good Book. Little Abe tried to stay on course with the original text but the jottings about his great-grandfather’s life which ran alongside the scriptures were sometimes too hilarious not to note. One evening, Little Abe read about Christ’s use of a laxative prepared by the village idiot whose sole skill in life was mixing concoctions and cures. After drinking the laxative, Christ danced at the wedding in Canaan. At the shock of the image of this in his mind’s eye, Abram Abromavitch keeled over from a heart attack. His great-grandson sat in silence for five minutes not knowing what to do.
    Holding onto credibility in the current environment of cynical doubt and disbelief has never been harder but I’m not afraid to say it again: I’m a Holocaust Surviving Drug Dealer in LA. My first memory of life was trying to escape Nazi Germany in the 30’s. As we were a family of acrobats, my parents hit upon the idea of rolling across the border in the shape of a four person human swastika. It took us months to perfect the routine. Sadly, it was to be our last performance together. When we were told to halt by the young Nazi officer, I lost my hold over the ball of fists that we’d made at the center of our swastika and our contraption of human forms collapsed to the road. I escaped into the bushes where I watched my parents and older brother get taken away. From there I was raised by wolves who taught me how to kill rabbits and forage through garbage cans for sustenance. We ran wild across Europe and then one day I was shot by a near-sighted hunter who, assuming I was a dead wolf, hung me up on the wall of his study. Those were the happiest days of my miserable life but, years later, when everyone fled the house in anticipation of the Soviet troops’ brutal arrival I knew that my haven wasn’t safe anymore. I escaped Eastern Europe and through a harrowing series of twists and turns I ended up, decades later, in LA where I ran drugs for the Bloods. 
  It’s too long a story to tell in such a short space but I though that you deserved the truth. As for all the other people that I’ve claimed to be over the past two months, well those are all people inside of me. I feel that there’s a computer programming geeka neurologist, a George W Bush and deaf and blind Bodyguard inside all of us. I’ve been trying to let these voices inside of me speak.
  Here’s a story that no one will doubt. 
  It’s fictional.


Funeral Number 135 


  The blond woman with the flowing dress stepped off the bus but her silk scarf was picked up by a gust of wind and thrown back inside. The driver who had looked particularly pooped that morning couldn’t have noticed the tiny swatch of pink sticking out between the closed doors at the back of the bus and he sped off to get through the green traffic light.
   One week later, I attended her funeral at a church down the street where I noticed a couple of other regulars from the 135 express. One of them was folding and refolding his morning paper the way he always did and a couple of others were listening to the tiny buzzing of their ipods. I fought off the urge to reach into my backpack and get out the tests I had to mark. The front of the church was draped in long pink scarves.
   After a while, a blond man walked up to the podium. He held the sides and introduced himself as the blond woman’s brother. I’m embarrassed to say I don’t remember any names from the day. Another regular from the 135, seated right next to me, was talking on her phone at the beginning of the ceremony and that was kind of distracting. The blond woman’s brother spoke of his sister’s love of pickled cheese. I think that’s something he said. Again, it was hard to hear. I wanted to tell the woman next to me to be quiet but her phone call sounded urgent. I think she’d called 9-1-1. Something about a woman in a pink scarf. Thank God she left right after the brother finished speaking
   Later in the ceremony, the driver himself appeared to give a talk about how the blond woman was such a beautiful sight in the morning. He waxed poetic on the subject of her hair and cloths but every couple of minutes he’d stop, step down from the front and have a coffee and cigarette. Everyone waited and there was nothing but the occasional sobbing from various parts of the large church but at that point I noticed that the 135 regulars were slowly leaving in the order that they got off the bus every morning. The blond woman smelled of perfume, the driver said. It reminded him of his youth.
   After all was said and done, I struck up conversation with the blond woman’s sister. The whole family was blond and fair and to see them together, you’d think they were a snow-bank in Alaska. The sister spoke in little chirps.
   “How do you know her ?” she asked.
    “As inspiration,” I said, mustering the small truth that I heard in my heart.
   Her sister smiled.

   Okay I’m not a clown. That’s not true but I felt like I was a clown yesterday morning after I snorted two lines. My nose felt larger than life and my feet felt flappy. Usually, you get an absurd burst of confidence but not yesterday. Actually, all the names that I’ve written under do reflect this truth. I’ve felt like Tom Cruise after freebasing and I’ve felt like Britney Spears after dabbling in crack. I’m a drug addict and everyday I try some new drug or – more likely- combination of drugs and then write based on the person that the concoction invokes. Yes, it’s fucked up but that’s my life.
    Here’s today’s story.
    (Stay tuned for tomorrow’s tale: Oprah Winfrey in a K-Hole.)

Cocaine Nose Jobs

     Michael opened the bathroom door to his two roommates who were lock, stock and barreled within some kind of wrestling hold. With a gun. With a gun held firmly across Sidedish’s face. Michael blinked and shook his head.
    “What the…?”
     “It’s cool. Sidedish is down with this.”
     “Yeah, don’t bitch out on us. This is all per request,” Sidedish said out of the side of his face in which his lips were bunched up under the pressure of Gogol’s knuckles. “It’s just my nose. His gonna take off my nose. We’ve got bandages and shitloads of painkillers.”
     Michael wiped the shock off his face with one slow swipe of his hand while he balanced himself with his other hand on the white bathroom door. “Why the shit would anyone want you to take off their nose with a gun ?”
    “Sidedish says it’s got him on the run.”
     Sidedish nodded.
     “You gone cracker on me ? You’re not making no sense, G.”
      “Sidedish says that late at night his nose gets up, steals money from us and then goes out to buy blow,” Gogol looked Michael in the eye, “and I believe him.”
     “He’s gone cracker and you’re gonna believe him ‘cause he stole your money ?” 
     “No, man. He shot it last night on his cell. Check that shit out,” G-Dog nodded to the cell phone balanced like an open razor-blade on the side of the bathtub. Michael picked it up and saw what appeared to be Sidedish’s nose blurred across the floor.
     “Yo, G, he’s hating on his own nose. It got an addiction of its own.”
     “It’s like it’s not even mine. Like maybe it was switched at birth with some assholes or something ‘cause this isn’t my nose.” Before Michael could administer more reasons to the situation the gun went off and the nose flew through the newly shattered window and fell into an open window two stories down. It landed in a bowl of bread dough and the Russian woman, distracted by the gun-shot, failed to notice the foreign ingredient. She continued stirring while staring at the photo of her strong husband pinned to the wall. In the photo he held two smiling immigration officers. That evening, they found a nose in the freshly cut loaf of bread.