pinch of Pynchon


  I’ve spent my career as a poet striving to find new forms of expression. Recently, I’ve been putting my poems up on youtube but this site has also been a foray into something new. Over the past five months I’ve pretended to be over a hundred and forty different people. The point of all this mask-making has been to examine the notion of identity online and off. The multiple layers of the self made up of the world around us.  

   You.

   Me.

  As a structural challenge I’ve also taken the comments made at the bottom of each day and allowed myself to use only those words for the next day or two or however long it takes to get another comment. Thereby playing out the permutations of another person’s message.

   And now for today’s short-short story…

 

Did he fit your handshake?

 

   One Wednesday evening, on the cusp of twilight, Derrick Garbert got the call about a Mini-Austin backed into a ditch at the corner of 168th and 80th. “Easy,” he said by way of good-bye and he flicked his cigarette out the window. He pressed his big hand down on the stick-shift which reached up with a customized hand of its own. His hairy fingers expertly slipped through the metal fingers and he put the truck in gear. After seventeen minutes of AC/DC’s High Voltage, he pulled up next to the front of the car. A seven foot man stood next to it. “You could carry that home, what did you call me for?” Derrick said, half-seriously. The man said something about his back but Derrick couldn’t understand his accent. Within minutes the car was hoisted up out of the ditch and Derrick was hauling it to the nearest mechanic. The man barely fit next to Derrick in his truck. The man seemed to be complaining about the size of his cab. “Don’t make them any bigger,” Derrick replied, squeezing the hand of the stick-shift. The man didn’t tip anything on top of the twenty dollar towing fee.

   “How did he fit into that car?” Derrick’s wife asked later that evening.

   “Don’t know. Didn’t ask. Don’t like talking to complainers. They make poor conversationalists.”

   “But you should ask about something like that.”

   “I don’t know. I’ve seen weirder things.” 

    But he couldn’t think of anything and that’s when he got the idea of taking pictures of everyone in their car after a successful tow. Just to be on the safe side as well as a nice touch. 

Advertisements

   And yes I’m the one responsible for this daily shape shifting. Of course by now – after my 108th “confession” of who I really am, I suppose the vast majority of you are going to be skeptical beyond belief. If you read through “Broken Record Technique” you’ll see that the flash fictions on this site are a reflection –albeit pale and adumbrated – of my more polished narrative experiments but that is because I’ve only given myself fifteen minutes everyday to whip these up. This “behind-the-scenes” apology is an attempt to unearth some truth in order to establish some trust which leads me to the observation: isn’t it funny how we need some foothold into the facts before we can suspend our disbelief? 

   Enjoy today’s story and my new novel (plug plug) will be coming out in August of this year. 

 

Water-Slide Boy

 

   Most of the residents of Surrey were almost happy to have a super-hero making their streets a little safer. On the night of May 11th, a gang of aspiring hoodlums broke in through the back door of a house on 80th street. They had been keeping tabs on the houses on that block for weeks, driving an ice-cream truck around and around and through friendly chit-chat they’d gleaned essential info for their B and E purposes. “We’re going to Disneyland on Friday. We’re going to Disneyland on Friday,” the children from 7287 shouted as they crammed ice-cream into their mouths as if to shut themselves up from the painful impatience of youth. And so on Sunday night the ice cream truck returned but this time it was black, shelled in large pest-control decals. The B and E was swift and thorough and soon the three criminals (Pete, Ted and Tom) were backing out of the driveway when they were stopped by a sudden thump. “What the..?” Ted, the driver – the most articulate of the three- shouted. He pushed his foot harder on the gas and they backed up into another thud that jerked their necks forward. A third time proved to be no more successful and so Ted drove forward. “Get out and see what that is,” he shouted at Tom and Pete who challenged him with blank stares. “See what it is !” he shouted a little louder and lurched towards them and yes he was the biggest of the three. Tom opened the sliding door and was halfway out when he was knocked over and unconscious by what appeared to be a waterslide that snaked around the front of the truck and then disappeared from view. It was followed only by a trail of high-pitched laughter. On the second trip around the water slide coiled even tighter to the truck and the next morning the police had the criminals all wrapped up like a gift. The clean up of the waterslide which lay like the cracked skin of a giant snake all the way up 80th Avenue took three days. Traffic was held up that Monday morning and call in radio programs were slammed. “We have streets in Surrey. That’s what we have. They need to be kept clear and safe. This Water-Slide boy is the real menace.”  And on and on and so it went but the Water-Slide Boy continued laughing and riding his waterslide through it all.

 

   I’m a painter and illustrator from Sweden with a secret penchant for literature. In fact, each of the ninety-one stories that I’ve written on this blog have all originally been written on canvases which I’ve painted over. I like the idea of falsehoods wrapped around stories tucked away forever, epistemologically, keeping us on our toes.

  And now for some fiction…

 

Goofy on the Brain

   This is convoluted but true. I’m a 15-year old hacker from Trollhattan, Sweden with a secret. This  should come as no surprise as I spend the greater part of each day trying to sneak into places I’m not supposed to go. That’s kind of my job as a hacker. I try to get into government or corporate databases or sites restricted to only a small group of people. But last year I hacked my way into a site that was too weird to be true. I was going deep into the Disney site which has some obvious tricks to getting into but once I’d cleared the initial walls there was another super secure area buried in this cluster of code that looked like a virus. That was its cover.  I spent three hours solid trying to break through and when I left my room to take a whiz I passed my dad who was all zombified from two hours of doing his income taxes. I totally laughed out loud inside. He thinks he has it tough. By the time I got back into my room, I figured out the algorithm they were basing their code on and I was in.

    At first I was seriously disappointed. It was nothing but a community hub with a list of super-ordinary topics that people were talking about. When I explored a little further, however, I saw that everyone was named Goofy, Donald, Mickey Mouse, etc. and their conversations were kind of on the weird side: “Did you get to the dentist on time, Mickey?”  “None of your business, Donald, none of your goddamn beeswax, nosewax or mousewax!!” “Why so hostile?” “Don’t patronize me with feigned ignorance.”  I nosed through other conversations and they were all hostile, paranoid, sexual or the characters were blissed out, talking about how they were flying or remembering something innocent and pure. Basically, all the conversations were totally cracker.  

    After a couple of weeks of following the conversations and snooping around the hidden hub, I found out what it was really all about. I was staring directly into Walt Disney’s mind. You know how he was cryogenically frozen after he croaked? Well, turns out they’re trying to thaw him out and this hub is like a direct link to his consciousness and Disney Scientists are trying to communicate with him by posing as characters. They’re communicating with his unconscious mind. At times he’s Goofy, Mickey or Donald and then the Disney Scientists type away as other characters, trying to calm him down or help him out. 

   My parents want to go to Euro-Disney this year and I’m worried about my safety. That’s why I’ve finally come out with this secret. I figure that if I go public with what I know, they won’t be able to whack me without raising some eyebrows.

 

  Weird, huh? 

    I recently made a short documentary about a Vancouver writer who’s penned into existence over a thousand short-short stories. A lot of people have been telling me that it’s a dope doc. 
   While I was stitching 1000 Stories together, I thought, “Why don’t I write a short-short story everyday? That’ll put me in the mood – so to speak – to understanding Spenst’s mindset and I’ll make a name for myself as the Marlon Brando of Method Editing.” 
   So anyway here’s today’s short-short story…

Three Minutes of the Future

     Jonathan pushes the red door and steps into the darkness of the Italian restaurant. A large man in a red apron, propped up on a stool at the empty bar, tilts his head to the left. “He’s over there.” Jonathan sits down two stools over from the man.
    “Nice place.”
     “A hundred years old.” The man makes a wincing grimace. Jonathan can make out some kind of faint accent. It must be Italian. 
    “You in charge?”
     He nods. His head is a pile of flesh that tapers up towards a white peak, like wisps of clouds near the top of a mountain. There might be wisdom up there.
    “Well there’s one guy here you should totally fire,” Jonathan continues as his friend swings around from behind a mural of an Italian villa. Trevor spins his serving tray on his finger as if it were a flattened basketball.
    “Jonathan, you meet Luigi?”
     They shake hands.
     “So what do I owe the pleasure?” 
     Jonathan reaches into his jacket but a screaming from behind the Italian villa mural stops him short. 
    “My baby. My baby,” a woman is screaming at a table for four and Trevor goes into action. He sweeps the table clear of three plates of meatballs and spaghetti and he pulls off the checkered table-cloth. He sets the baby down in the middle of the table. Even in the darkness of the restaurant he can see it’s turning blue. “Sterilize this,” he shouts as he tosses a small scalpel to Jonathan who runs into the kitchen.
   “My baby’s pace-maker is not working. We have to get her to a hospital,” the mother shouts. 
   “It’s too late for that. We’ve got to go in now,” Trevor says while staring straight through the chest of the infant. Trevor visualizes the incision that he’ll need to make to kick-start the little device. He’ll give it a low voltage shock. He’s done it a dozen times before. Jonathan tosses him the sterilized scalpel.
   “Are you crazy?” the father shrieks at a volume that breaks from his lungs. 
    “I play Emergency Room all the time,” he says automatically, his thoughts are already deep inside the child.
    “It’s a video game but it’s totally real. You move your hands and everything,” Jonathan adds. “Patients die on my watch all the time. You totally don’t want me in there.”
    The man calms down and says something to his wife in Chinese. 
    Half an hour later the child is giggling and kicking.
     “Free pasta for everyone,” Luigi shouts.
      It’s Tuesday. The slowest night of the week.

   Yeah, I’ve helped out in over a dozen bank heists over the past fifty years. Depending on your cut you don’t need the money after the first three, four or five jobs but you still need the rush. You need to continue doing what you’re good at, know what I’m saying ? But Jesus I’ve got grand-kids now and what I don’t need is a retirement gift of a bullet in the head. I’m trying to keep my nose clean. That’s why I started this here blog three months ago. Yeah, everyday I’ve pretended to be somebody different and that person’s intro is followed by a story that they claim to have written. It’s what my writing teacher calls “establishing voice”. Like you gotta know who’s telling the tale so I figured I’d let that guy speak for himself a little before the story.  Today I’ve run out of different voices and I just thought I’d step out from behind this mask and say hello. 
  Obviously, I can’t tell you my name. I live in a Spanish villa and a lot of people are looking for me. Let’s just leave it at that. I can also tell you that I’ve started reading Thomas Pynchon. I’ve lifted some details from Vineland to write the following short-short story.
  What do you expect ? I’ve spent my whole life taking what isn’t mine. 


Blowing up the Big Screen


     After two decades of writing prose that never saw the light of day – or even somebody else’s reading lamp – Trunch Wheeler declared war on the Enemies of Literature. “Movies have been cutting into our territory far too long,” Trunch explained to his one and only friend in the world, Jason Van Meter. “What we need is to strike hard.” Jason listened with a rolling nod of his head which really meant that he wasn’t listening at all. In fact he was thinking of his own next story about a draconian city where squeegee children were punished by being strapped to windshield wipers. In heavy rains their sopping wet bodies were slowly dragged up and down to remind them never to try to clean a stranger’s wind-shield. Jason nodded his head in excitement over the story he would write the next day. The roommates’ original plan – sketched out one morning on the blank inside of a ripped open box of Count Chocula – was for Trunch to write on even days and for Jason to write on odd days. When one was writing the other was to edit the snot out of the other’s work. They shook on the plan over two bowls of soggy Count Chocula five years earlier but both of them failed to keep the promise. They were so wrapped up in their own stories and thoughts that they rarely even listened to each other. Over breakfast cereal, they would talk at one another and Jason would nod or Trunch would hammer the heel of his left foot into the wooden floor. This morning, Jason nodded with excitement over the absurd image of small children’s faces smooched against and dragged up and down the front of a city bus. Trunch blathered on with a  mouthful of Frankenberries. Specks of pink flew from his obese lips. “What we need to do is write a story about somebody planting bombs in movie theaters playing hit movies like Top Gun or Stand By Me. Once we write the story we’ll really do it. When nobody’s in it of course. We’ll leave our manuscript outside the theater. Read this if you Know What’s Good for You, would be a good title. Right ?” Jason stopped nodding. Sadly, three years later, the one and only 200-page manuscript was also blown sky high in the Capital 8 blast that ended nothing but old-fashioned aspirations. This was a shame because it was the only half-decent piece of writing the pair had ever done together.