I, Shotgun Jeb, do on this day reprint below the entire 77 pages of my book The Manifesto of the Guild of the Trash Artist containing short stories and epic poetry. This is the manuscript as I sent it to the publisher, and since it went through three rounds of editing once I sent it in, this version will have a few typos (though the final book is not without its characteristic blemishes). Anyone wanting to contact me or to obtain a physical copy of the work, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no God but I. “Shotgun Jeb spins, twists, jabs and gouges tales like so many abused kennel dogs, you’d think he was lurking around dark alleyways with a chunk of festering steak and a can of mace. But, sadly, no. He’s just really weird.” —Tom Slick, author Acknowledgements Thanks are deserved and granted to those who aided in this reality creation: Richard; The Family; Terry (Mr. California); Justin, Steve, Tony, the rest of the LOD and SC; Dave, Andy, Scott, Matt and the rest of the KALLISTI Kids; James Hatfield, Anne Paris, Woj, Olcott, Willis, Lindahl; Jason; Ashlyn, Fiji, and the other Shotgun Jeb Daily readers; Cletus, Honkie J, MC Smelly Smell and the rest of the Trash Heap Records gang. May it help not to bind us, but to free us. Foreword By Richard Myers Things weren’t the same after my brother was diagnosed with a mild form of schizophrenia. He was still the same old John I’d known and loved for so many years, but now his antics were more depressing than hilarious. The knowledge that his quirky, eccentric behavior was really just a by-product of a mild mental dysfunction and not the master workings of a visionary genius made everyone a little uneasy. We just assumed that when my brother spoke things we couldn’t comprehend, it was due to his blinding intellect and not because those things were figments of a deranged imagination. We always joked he was crazy, but now no one was laughing…except me. John convinced everyone he was certifiably insane: our parents, Grandma Eunice who’d worked her entire life as a nurse in a psych war, our Uncle Brawn stationed at a Marine barracks in Iraq, our gay cousin Frankie in Virginia, our Mennonite cousins working the fields in upstate New York, our Grandpa Jack on life support in Arizona, and even the broods of second and third cousins we’d never seen before knew of their distant relative’s sickness. But I had him pegged from the start. If you really knew my brother as I did, you might consider which scenario is more likely: either that he really is mentally ill or that this is just the latest and greatest in a long history of schemes aimed at disturbing my family beyond repair. Not that I believe he was faking it. In truth, he never changed at all. But now that our family had found some validation for his actions, he finally had the authority to act the way he wanted. I always found it strange that my family seemed to understand John better now that he was crazy than they ever did while he was sane. Worst of all, they now felt obligated to put up with his rambling talk of trash can music and discordian manifestos, even encouraging him in his exploits. One time, he cornered my Uncle Hugo at a family reunion, divulging plans of a performance art piece in which John would recite German advertisement slogans into a microphone with a bucket on his head, smashing the bucket with a lead mallet between stanzas. “That’s really interesting,” Hugo said while attempting to divert the attention to the potato salad spread on the table nearby. “It’s really great to hear you’re taking an interest in music.” I almost flung my handful of peanut-buttered celery at them both, but luckily common sense held me back. Nothing brings on the stigma of sibling rivalry like accusing your brother of not being crazy. In the old days, making fun of my brother was not only commonplace, it was one of our favorite family activities. Every evening, while sitting around the dinner table, my father would pose a question to each of us, one at a time. “How was your day?” he’d ask my mother. Her story was usually concise and often rehearsed, generally centering around some idiot patient or doctor who made her job at the hospital miserable. It always ended with the person becoming aware of his or her own stupidity and thus vindicating my mother’s original assumption. “How was your day?” I was a teenager at the time, so my answers were always short and filled with contempt. Besides, John’s answer was the only one any of us really wanted to hear. “How was your day?” My brother would only begin to answer the question once his dinner plate was completely organized and coded by food group. He had this absolute terror of items on the his plate mixing with one another and he wouldn’t start eating until all his food was properly seasoned, bread thoroughly buttered, and all meat sliced into easy-to-eat cubes. Only with this obsessive ritual out of the way did John even turn his attention to the question at hand. Sometimes he’d start off a bit light, something like, “Today I got into a 45-minute debate with my history teacher after saying our gun control laws are similar to those imposed in Nazi Germany.” “Oh, John,” my mother would gasp, stabbing a sprig of broccoli with her fork. “They’re going to think you’re one of those Columbine kids if you keep talking like that.” If there’s one thing my brother loved, it was a good argument, especially when he was arguing the more controversial viewpoint. This put off most adults who thought a freshman in high school should listen to his elders, instead of trying to convert them. My parents never got the joke. “But it’s true. Hitler made all gun owners register their firearms, and then when the war started, he arrested all of them and confiscated their guns.” It was my job to ensure these little outbursts of conservative rhetoric didn’t get out of hand. Left unhindered, they might escalate into full-blown tantrums like on one Fourth of July when I found him downing a bottle of Jim Beam on my porch and shouting, “Buy American!” and “Down with China!” to passing cars. There were many ways to quell my brother’s irrational rage, but out of my entire family, I was the only one to have mastered them all. The simplest way was to just stare him down. He could only ignore you for so long before he slammed his fists on the table, shouting, “Stop looking at me!” Then the whole table would erupt in laughter, and, with his composure shattered, he would laugh too. If his rant was particularly furious, a little dance or an annoying noise was sure to break his concentration. But those good times were just memories now. My parents were no longer interested in how John’s day was. Any strange answer he might give to the question only reminded them of his sickness and how much better he might be today if only they had interpreted the signs sooner. Not long ago, I found myself at the dinner table again, this time listening to my brother’s scheme to incite a war between two of his imaginary armies. That’s right, my brother didn’t have imaginary friends, he had imaginary armies at his disposal. I watched my father, Ph.D. and Vice President of a large laser research company, as he allowed my brother to describe his insidious plot to invent a terror cell of radical counterfeiters, of which John was Prime Minister, in order to devalue the currency of the tyrannical Emperor Norton, and thus start a war that would allow John to overthrow the Emperor. Sensing my father’s growing frustration with the story, I took it upon myself to intervene. “You have way too much time on your hands,” I told John. Where once my mother might have agreed with me, calling my brother a “sicko kid,” now she wagged her finger at me, saying, “You really should be nicer to your brother. He has a condition now.” John ignored us both as he rattled off to my father how the terrorist ambassador was a lemon dipped in black paint. I could go on about how that lemon enraged Emperor Norton so much, he had the lemon skinned and stuffed with nails, but that would only encourage my brother further. In the past, people could dismiss his ideas by calling him crazy, but knowing he really was crazy made him impossible to ignore. To me this was certainly his greatest achievement, and the cause of his eventual downfall. The paradox of John’s phantom psychosis was that now that he had the world’s ear, he no longer received credit for his own exploits. When he unveiled his latest project to fulfill the musical wishes of a deceased hillbilly named Cletus by channeling Cletus’s spirit and recording songs on four-track, I alone told him it was the worst idea he’d ever had and he’d be a fool to follow it through. But despite my stance on the issue, John found the support he needed in every family he pitched the idea to. When asked aside, however, not one of them actually gave John credit for the idea, saying things like, “Oh, he doesn’t really mean that. It’s just the sickness talking.” But of course, he did mean it. John was dead serious about the idea in a way that I found infinitely more disturbing and frightening than any mental illness imaginable. Perhaps it was his plan all along to confuse his contemporaries into thinking he was sick, serving as a private joke for future generations. But most likely, the diagnosis came from shared need to explain my inexplicable brother and legitimize his behavior. John probably though it was funny, deciding, if that’s the way they need to think of it to deal with him, then let them. He certainly didn’t try to disprove the diagnosis. For me, though, it meant everything that made my brother unique was now passed off as schizophrenia. His creativity was now medicalized and classified as an aberration. People were no longer threatened by John’s eccentric superiority and the notion of such radical behavior was missing from their own lives. Now they knew he was just crazy and not someone to aspire to be at all. I want to believe he’ll tell everyone he really never was crazy, assuming anyone will believe him. Or maybe he’ll admit once and for all he really was crazy and I was wrong. As much as his exploits disturb and irritate me, I still find myself anxiously awaiting his next great surprise and thrill in race to foil his plans. Honestly, I hope he gets the last laugh. A Message From Holy Ascended Master R’umanda Zortax Salutations, oh my Beloven! It has been several orb revolutions since we have channeled to you, but the energy is nonetheless as strong as when we first encountered each other. We are transmitting from within the Thirty-Fourth Crystal of the Ninth Existence, as you well know. It should also be clear to you that we are speaking directly to your solar plexus (seventh Nebultar) from which a wellspring of understanding and self/all love can arise. It is now the time when we bestow upon you the three Light Technologies of Shamanic knowing. You may wonder, “How can I know/feel the Technologies if I have not fully ascended my heart/eye (fifth Nebultar) to coincide with the Druidic alignment of fire/water and earthquake/lightning?” Your query makes us smile (not in the humanic/Bigfoot/yeti/ascended ape form, but rather in a way quite mysterious to you, which some day you may come to understand). We do not expect the ascended ape to immediately reach to a Christ/Gandhi/Zigglar comprehension, but we hope to channel enough crystalove to begin the journey through the portal. It is well documented that for a being to feel the love of other being(s), he must absorb the magnetic grid matrix to attune the proper love frequency. It is the same basic principle that underlies the first Light Technology: Transeption. Transeption allies itself with the six basic Gaia precept formations, namely stone, ice, hurricane, aurora borealis, phosphorescence (phytoflagellate phytlocyanine) and wood. “Oh ho, but what of the precept formation of the crystal?” you might ask. We can only say that in this case, the crystal precept is unattainable. For now, meditate on this diaphaneity: If a Lock Ness monster swims into the Bermuda Triangle, where will the love/energy reemerge? The second Light Technology is that of Jamshyd. It is an Icarian fundamental, known and told through the ages from Druid to Wolfman to Freemason, and down to the present time. If the portcullis of Jamshyd can be breached by any form of ascended ape, then the world womb can be reached and fertilized. This has long been known, of course, by various masters from Merlin to Harry Houdini, but only in a partially revealed holographic form. Only when the seven sacred holograms are aligned and a sacredly blessed laser is aimed at the center of them can the true form of Jamshyd be unveiled. Naturally, this alignment must only take place within one of the sacred vortices, under the guidance of a Navajo Medicine Man or pregnant Wiccan Goddess. “But what of ETs?” you may ask. “Can they utilize the power of Jamshyd to fertilize the world womb?” Oh, but of course they can. Though ETs are a race of superbeings (to use your terminology), they are able to free themselves from self-doubt and ascend to the higher rotation. We are dawning into an age in which less and less humans/ascended apes are being born with their Emergable DNA intact. Emergable DNA is the third and most important of the Light Technologies. This is part of a larger plan we here in the ninth existence, along with our compatriot Grey-Ones, have formulated. Do not worry; it will not be long now before this plan will be revealed to you. For now, just understand/empower that Emergable DNA is a revealing spiritual consciousness that allows us to achieve our goals in Career, Love-Life, Family and Health. This Technology allows light/love to enter the mitochondrial DNA of a human/yeti/dolphin/centaur without affecting the RNA, thus allowing the Golgi Apparatus to release phospholipids and synthesize an eicosanoid. In other words, energy and light are derived from love by the use of positive vibrations. Beloven, we have thusly revealed to you the three Light Technologies and how they may be applied in the age to come. So now I ask you to leave this communication to unravel your seventh Nebultar, and descend your love/energy back to a cellular level. We entreat you to go forth now, and with peace, and release unto the orb what we have shared. Excelsior! Foreword II By Tony Burchyns, Mundane Person Extraordinaire What can I say about the creator of this text? He’s got a world up his sleeve. Pardon my hedging. He’s just so, um — well, look at it this way, err … Oh! Blast. This text is more than the ordinary citizen’s manifesto that flies across the desk of the occasional greasy-fingered police commissioner. This text is not meant as a warning. It is not an apocalyptic message, nor is it a menacing “Fuck you.” But it warns us all the same. Beware of the tromping army of the comfortable, for they know not what dark underbellies lie beneath their caramelized-leather easy chairs. Beware of the two-and-a-half car families with their pinched-in lives and duller than mud imaginations. Beware of forgetting about your creative faculties — it’s better to lose control of them than to deny they exist. Such denial would be costly — an abandoning of the soul. This text is a test of the mind, a kaleidoscope of being, a swirling gaze into the plain white ceiling that covers so many of us. It is not an escape, but a discovery. If you don’t know your boundaries, be careful. There’s only one question you’ve got to remember. Who’s your God, daddy? Shotgun Jeb, baby. “Sooner or later, some people will realize that no one really needs the Beatles.” —Mr. California Introduction The Bull of Pope Kappa Nogga Bru-Ha-Ha At first I thought it was a bad thing this had happened. I was lying on the floor, my arms outstretched and my feet close together, unconscious. And I was floating above myself, looking down at my own shallow breathing. But then I thought, it can’t really be that bad. After all, some other voice had told me to do this, some voice that had proclaimed itself the “Hyperphenomenal Entity.” And anything with a name like that was not to be taken lightly. “So, was this what you meant for me to do?” I asked. “Of course it was,” the Hyperphenomenal Entity said to me. “Now come with me. I want to show you something.” The Hyperphenomenal Entity grabbed me by the scuff of my neck, and we soared up into the air, above the house, above the street, above the city, the state, the country and even the planet until we came to the opening of a blue ribbed tube. The doorway was a ring of black, a hollow eye that spied me, teasing. Inside, it flickered white and electric blue, beckoning. “What’s that?” I asked. “This is where you will see what reality is.” The Hyperphenomenal Entity pushed me into the gaping tunnel and I felt a steady wind at my back propel me through it. On either side, symbols and words flashed like fireworks — passages from the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, the Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita, and Principia Discordia. Past the Book of Job, the Gospel of John; between walls of Sanskrit and geometric designs. Beyond the incarnations of Krishna; away from rubber stamps and roaches. All of these blinked and laughed at me as I hurtled through the tube. And then I began to pass by works of art, masterpieces and failed masterpieces, musicians performing, book covers, art and more art. People creating pieces for other people to enjoy or laugh at or mock. I passed by it all until I saw the end of the tunnel approaching and the Hyperphenomenal Entity standing and waiting. It had felt like I had been shot out of a cannon, going 3,500 feet per second, while I was traveling through that tube. But when I made it through the exit, I stopped in front of the Hyperphenomenal Entity with no difficulty, no whiplash, and no need to brace for the g-force. I just stared at the Hyperphenomenal Entity for a moment, not really knowing what to make of the scenes I had just witnessed. “All of those were examples of how reality is created,” the Hyperphenomenal Entity told me. “Now it’s your turn.” “My turn? What do you mean?” “It is now time for you to paint your world, write your text, create your Gods.” “Why not anyone else?” I asked. “I can only let one person at a time through that tube.” It snapped its fingers and I was suddenly back in my own body, lying on the floor, and staring at the ceiling. I stood up and walked over to my desk where a fresh spiral notebook and a pen were laid out, and I began to write. The Manifesto of the Guild of the Trash Artist Tome the First Verse A: In the beginning Trash and Non-Trash were but one form. Man utilized this one form In the creations of tools and society. But then came 5 A beardless and greedy man named Elito Who decided to divide man’s creations Into two categories: One contained naught but 10 Rules and order And the other contained naught but Creativity and imagination. “Yea,” said Elito, “The order shall I call ‘Pop’ 15 And the creativity shall I call ‘Trash.’” And Elito did accumulate That which he did deem Pop And Elito did give Pop 20 To those who also had Pop To give to Elito in return. “Let us trade in Pop,” Spoke Elito, “And we shall forever be with Pop.” 25 And those who dealt in Trash, They were banished to live In naught but exile. Verse D: Elito became very rich And he did mock those Whom he had banished. “Trash is for none But the fool,” 5 Elito preached. “Only by using the Pop Which I do gift upon you Can you be prosperous in this world.” Elito soon died 10 And his vast fortune of Pop Passed to his only son Who was named Executif. Executif was even more greedy 15 Than his father Elito. So Executif did one day declare That not all Pop was equal. He spoke at the top of the mountain And those who knew naught but Trash 20 Were kept far below In the valley Far away from Executif’s words. “From this day of our Lord, The deity of all that is organized, 25 From this day will me and mine Accept no Pop which was fabricated Outside of my hand.” And the people of Pop did smile, For they saw in Executif 30 The words of a divine being. The people did shout, “Hail to Executif, For he can guide us to wealth.” And Executif was crowned 35 By his people of faith And the shadow made by Executif’s crown Fell upon the people of Trash Who wept Upon the floor of the valley. 40 Verse C: After Executif died And his legacy passed From heir to heir There lived a man among the people of Trash And they called him 5 Outsider. On the 28th day Of the month of October, Outsider suddenly fell upon the ground As he was working to harvest the Trash for his people. 10 Outsider’s head hit Upon his favorite piece of Trash And he was knocked unconscious. Outsider had a dream And in his dream he dreamt 15 That his pieces of Trash Came alive and stole out of the valley And up to the mountain Where dwelt the people of Pop. Then Outsider awoke. 20 And when Outsider awoke, He was greeted by the face Of the Hyperphenomenal Entity. “Look upon me,” said the Hyperphenomenal Entity, “And do not fear, 25 For I am the one who did Give you such a dream.” And the Hyperphenomenal Entity spoke: “Your Trash is gifted, Outsider, 30 And I have taken notice. To create more Trash Is what I command of you.” And Outsider heeded these words Which the Hyperphenomenal Entity did speak 35 And he created for the Hyperphenomenal Entity A marvelous piece of Trash. And the Hyperphenomenal Entity again appeared to Outsider And said: “You have done well. 40 I shall bless your Trash,” Spake the Hyperphenomenal Entity, “And your Trash will forever be known As ‘Art’ And you shall henceforth be known 45 As ‘Artist.’ ” And Artist thanked the Hyperphenomenal Entity And praised It And the people of Trash praised the Hyperphenomenal Entity And they also praised he 50 Who the Hyperphenomenal Entity had deemed Artist For Artist was their prophet And the Hyperphenomenal Entity was their messenger From the Hyperphenomenal world. 55 Verse T: On the mountain, Above the people of Trash Who lived upon the land of the valley, Ruled the descendent of Executif Who was called Greedone 5 By his subjects of Pop. Greedone saw what was happening Upon the floor of the valley And he felt jealousy build within him. Greedone summoned to his palace 10 The two greatest thieves Who preyed upon his people And he said to the thieves: “Go down To the bottom of the valley 15 And retrieve for me That which the people call ‘Art.’ Do this thing And you shall be rewarded 20 With the greatest Pop in the land.” And the thieves heeded The word of Greedone And journeyed down the face of the mountain Under the cover of darkness 25 To the dwelling of Artist. And through an open window Did the thieves go And into Artist’s bedchamber Where Artist slept silent. 30 One thief, He who was dressed in black, Lifted Artist’s belongings of Trash While the other thief, He who was clad in red, 35 Stared idly Upon the slumbering body of Artist. The red thief withdrew from his cloak A piece of Pop Which Greedone had given to him 40 As a down payment. And the red thief did shove That piece of Pop Into the throat of Artist. And Artist choked upon the Pop 45 That had been carried by the red thief And the two thieves fled Into the night, Clamboring up the mountainside With such volume 50 That they did wake the people of Trash. And the people saw that Artist lay Stiff and dead And that all of the Art which Artist had created Had been reaped. 55 And the people of Trash They did shed tears Upon the corpse of Artist, For he was loved And his Art 60 Had been blessed by the Hyperphenomenal Entity. Verse J: When the thieves returned To the top of the mountain They were given the homecoming Of kings By Greedone and his subjects. 5 “Look before you,” Greedone said to his people of Pop, “At this that they call ‘Art,’ For I will take it as my own And all of you shall 10 See it as mine.” And the people of Pop did see That the Art was good And that Greedone Now had control over such Art 15 And they allowed Greedone To take the Art as his And they did see it As his own. Verse D: The people of Trash Clad themselves in black And did mourn the loss Of Artist. And the Hyperphenomenal Entity, 5 Who was the advisor of all Trash And the people, Spoke down to the valley From his chair that sat Even higher than Greedone’s false throne: 10 “Fear not, my people,” The Hyperphenomenal Entity did say to the people of Trash, “For whatever happens next Shall not endure. Know that I 15 Will come and save you When the time is right.” And the people of Trash Praised their Hyperphenomenal Entity For they knew 20 That it would save them. Verse H: Greedone continued to grow Even richer Among the people of Pop Until one day When Greedone spoke 5 From the balcony of his palace: “People of Pop, Do not reject he Who partakes in the worship of Trash. For he, too, 10 Is your brother Albeit a misguided one. Any person of Trash Who does abhor his natural practice And turns to I, 15 Greedone, And the Art and Pop That I have given Will be welcomed as a sibling To the table of Pop. 20 Allow not their ill-made Trash To bother you people of Pop And let us all lift up The banner of Pop Together.” 25 And some of the people of Trash Who had been filling the valley with tears Heard the words of Greedone And lifted their heads up As they climbed to the peak of the mountain. 30 Verse V: The people of Trash split Into two groups: The first was led by a man named Avant Who rejected all that Greedone Said or did. 5 The second group followed The brother of Avant Who was named Garde And who believed that the people of Trash Should infect the people of Pop 10 By joining them And then bring others back Down the mountain And into the valley. And the Hyperphenomenal Entity looked down 15 Into the valley And saw the divide And realized that such a split Would not endure. So the Hyperphenomenal Entity appeared to Avant 20 In a dream And spoke to him: “Do not be so closed-minded, My son, And pay heed to your brother 25 For only when the two of you unite Will you be able to defeat The power of Greedone.” And then the Hyperphenomenal Entity journeyed Across the valley 30 To where Garde slept And the Hyperphenomenal Entity appeared in a dream, saying: “Pay no heed To the differences between you and your brother Avant Who rests in his camp 35 Across the valley. For only the unity of all Trash And the combination of both your ways Can defeat Greedone.” And when Garde awoke, 40 Startling awake in his bed, He saw Avant staring into his eyes. “Brother,” spoke Avant, “I have dreamed this very night That the Hyperphenomenal Entity, 45 Which watches over us and our Trash, Came down to me and said That we must bind our camps To defeat Greedone.” “Aye,” said Garde, 50 “I too dreamed of the same. We shall combine our heads To become more powerful Than he who does control Pop.” And the Hyperphenomenal Entity saw this binding 55 And spoke down to Avant and Garde: “So shall it be: May Avant take unto Garde As Garde takes unto Avant.” And the Hyperphenomenal Entity melded Avant’s body 60 With his brother’s And the Hyperphenomenal Entity melded Garde’s body With his brother’s And the two became one. “Henceforth,” 65 Commanded the Hyperphenomenal Entity, “Shall you be known as Avant-Garde By the blessed people of Trash, And may your name 70 Forever cause the worshippers of Pop To cringe With misunderstanding.” And it was so. The Manifesto of the Guild of the Trash Artist Tome the Second Verse W: Greedone became distressed When he saw that the power Of Avant and Garde had merged To become one, That of Avant-Garde. 5 So Greedone assembled His wretched host of thieves And told them: “Go down to the valley again Where the people Trash 10 Are ruled by the might of Avant-Garde And steal from the people All of the Trash That Avant-Garde has made And bring it to me, your leader.” 15 And the two thieves Heeded what Greedone did say And they clattered down the mountainside, One dressed in black, And the other covered in red. 20 There, in the valley, Under the cover of darkness, They reaped all of the people’s Trash Until finally they came upon Avant-Garde 25 Who slumbered peacefully in his bed. One thief, The one who wore red, Withdrew from his belt A dark knife that Greedone himself 30 Had fashioned out of Pop. And as the thief raised the dagger To Avant-Garde’s throat, The feel of the cold Pop Did waken 35 The sleeping Avant-Garde And when he saw the two thieves, He reached for his own dagger. Avant-Garde slew one of the thieves, The one wearing black, 40 Before the other, The one in red, Dealt Avant-Garde a wound Upon the face. And then the lone thief did flee, 45 For he knew he was no match for Avant-Garde. And the thief took with him Half of all the Trash from the valley And Avant-Garde was left With naught but a scar upon his cheek 50 That drifted from his left eye Down to his chin. Verse B: When the lone thief returned to Greedone, Greedone was angry: “What has happened to your comrade?” Greedone asked, “And why have you brought 5 So little Trash back to my company?” But Greedone did not wait For the thief to reply: Greedone stabbed the thief through the heart With a blade made of Pop 10 And claimed all of the Trash That the thief had brought back For his own. And then Greedone spoke From the peak of the mountain: 15 “Look upon me, My people of Pop, For I, Your leader and king, Did this very day 20 Confront he who does oppose us, And I left upon him a mark With my own knife And I retrieved this bounty Of Pop 25 Which they had stolen from us And relabeled Trash. And now that I have reaped such bold vengeance, You know that I must be Your lord and God 30 And ruler of all Pop.” And the people of the mountain Who did follow Pop Rejoiced For now they had a lord God 35 And he was their keeper And ruler of Pop. Verse G: When the people of Trash Awoke the next morning, They saw that Greedone, Through the work of his malicious thieves, Had stolen from them half of their Trash 5 And they wept tears upon the floor. But Avant-Garde, Their leader and prophet, Spoke out to comfort them: “Fear not, 10 My people of Trash, For we are all still together, As one people, And we are still under the protection Of our Hyperphenomenal Entity. 15 The amount of Trash That we collectively retain Matters not When we still have the determination To remain people of Trash. 20 We can always make more Trash, And yea, Greedone may steal half of it And claim it as his own, But that shall never stop us 25 From staying true to ourselves As creators of Trash.” And the Hyperphenomenal Entity did smile Upon Avant-Garde’s speech And the Hyperphenomenal Entity also spoke to the people: 30 “I shall make with you, People of Trash, A covenant: You will forever create Trash, Even though Greedone will steal half of it 35 And force it into Pop, And in return, I will forever keep The valley of Trash alive Despite Greedone’s attacks.” 40 And the people of Trash did agree To this covenant, And they agreed to never Become one with Pop And to forever produce 45 Naught but Trash. Verse F: Avant-Garde traveled Far and wide among all the people of the valley And in every village, he stopped And spoke to the citizens, saying: “I know you have been ravaged 5 By the insidious might of Pop, But do not forget our covenant With the Hyperphenomenal Entity.” And all of the people cheered Except one, 10 A man called Condescendar, Who stepped up upon a rock Across from Avant-Garde. “You speak repeated ideas And copied words,” 15 Said Condescendar, “For your covenant is naught
But a rip-off of the Hebrew Bible.
And your name blatantly refers To a style of art that you hardly emulate 20 And you emulate it poorly, At best.” And the people of the village gasped, Hearing that their leader was a fraud. “Avant-Garde does not know anything,” 25 Spoke Condescendar, “About Trash or Pop, For he has read no textbooks And has taken no classes.” The people of Trash 30 Began to become angry with Avant-Garde, For they felt he had been exposed By Condescendar. “Condescendar is right,” Said one citizen, 35 “Avant-Garde doesn’t know anything.” And the people of the valley rose up With their anger of Avant-Garde And they forced him to bow down Off his pulpit 40 And to leave the town for some time. Verse H: Condescendar moved From village to village In the valley of Trash, Gaining support to oppose Avant-Garde. Word of Condescendar’s doing spread 5 And finally that word was brought All the way up the mountain To where Greedone sat upon his throne. And Greedone saw that he could use Condescendar Against the people of Trash 10 And to ruin the power Of the great Avant-Garde. Greedone called for a new thief To take the place of the ones who had passed away And when a thief clad half in black and half in red 15 Arrived at Greedone’s palace, Greedone said to him: “Go down into the valley of Trash And find this Condescendar And bring him back to me alive.” 20 And Greedone sent the thief away So that the thief could do Greedone’s bidding. The thief journeyed down Into the valley of Trash And crept along the valley floor 25 Until he came upon Condescendar’s camp Which sprawled from the last town That Condescendar had visited All the way to the next town At which he had just arrived. 30 The thief worked his way Through the camp During the night Until he reached Condescendar’s tent, One that was larger and fancier 35 Than the others. The thief entered the tent And found Condescendar asleep. But when the thief tripped Over the Trash on the floor, 40 Condescender jumped awake. “What are you doing here?” Condescendar demanded. The thief replied, “I have come 45 To take you with me Back to our lord on the mountain.” And Condescendar answered: “I shall come with you, For the people of Trash know not 50 What power I can wield.” Verse A: Condescendar’s followers Awoke the next day, Deserted by their leader And with no place to go. Word of the thief’s intrusion 5 Soon spread around the camp Until one follower stood. “People of Trash,” He said, “Those of you who thought you were doing the right thing 10 By following Condescendar, You have all been cheated, As have I, the one known As Punx. Follow me now 15 And we will take our revenge By spitting in Greedone’s face And stomping on Condescendar.” A cheer went up throughout the camp Until someone else stood 20 On the opposite side of the camp, A woman named Indee. She spoke: “People of Trash, Will you forget your covenant, 25 That which is most sacred? We should continue to create Trash And in that way, We shall be forever protected By the Hyperphenomenal Entity.” 30 And the camp turned away from Punx And turned to Indee And cheered for her Until Punx spoke once again: “I have not forgotten the covenant, 35 My people of Trash. But rather, I modified it. We shall continue to produce Trash And we will always be protected By the Hyperphenomenal Entity 40 But we will then use that Trash To vanquish our enemies, The evil Greedone and Condescendar.” And the camp divided, With half siding with Punx 45 And the other half with Indee. But the two sides did not quarrel. No, they worked together To produce more Trash Than either side could independently. 50 Verse Z: Above the valley of Trash, Greedone and Condescendar looked down And saw the force That Punx and Indee Were gathering. 5 “Their power is naught Compared to the power That we control together,” Greedone told Condescendar. “Aye, 10 And we, too, Are massing a host Within the walls of Pop That is stronger than any force ever seen on this earth,” Spoke Condescendar. 15 Then Greedone said: “Our army shall attack And destroy them.” Verse C: In the valley of Trash, The camp was preparing To repulse the imminent attack That would pour down the mountain Wielding the arms of Pop. 5 Punx and Indee rested together In a tent that was identical To those of the other people of Trash. “We have done nothing but create Trash In preparation for the attack,” 10 Punx said. “Aye,” Agreed Indee, “For we shall endure as a people As long as we forever produce Trash.” 15 And they embraced together And together with the Trash about them, They begat a son Whom they named Undergrunt The Manifesto of the Guild of the Trash Artist Tome the Third Verse O: The valley of Trash was besieged For nineteen years And three-hundred and sixty days When the makeshift walls Finally began to crumble 5 Under the massive force of Pop. By this time, The people of Trash Had had to reinforce the walls With the bodies and skulls of the fallen of both sides. 10 Greedone and Condescendar repeatedly rode out In the open, Taunting the starving People of Trash Until that day 15 When the twentieth year approached And the wall began to split. Punx, Now older and pained From old wounds, 20 Went out from his tent And walked the mile and a half Down to where the wall began to creak As the soldiers of Pop continued To chop at it with their axes. 25 Punx saw that the wall was breaking And he saw that his soldiers Began to grow fearful. “Worry not, people of Trash,” Spoke Punx, 30 “For we are still creating Trash, And so we will be saved. The evil forces of Pop May indeed break through This wall of Trash 35 But know that they will never Win the war, And we shall be victorious.” At that moment, The calm static of Pop’s chipping axes 40 Was broken by crude laughter From beyond the wall. Punx climbed to the parapet And gazed out over the field of dead To where Greedone and Condescendar 45 Stood side by side To mock the fortress of Trash. Greedone called up to the parapet: “My axes of Pop Chip away at your wall daily 50 And my arrows pick off your men One by one. The end of the people of Trash Is on its way And your people will nevermore 55 Live in defiance of my rule.” Punx replied: “Your war band is nothing But thieves and murderers Who reek of dishonor. 60 We are not afraid of you For we have made our covenant With the Hyperphenomenal Entity. And even if I were to fall, This army would not be blind.” 65 And Greedone smirked at Punx And nodded to Condescendar. And Condescendar drew his bow Armed with an arrow of Pop And Condescendar loosed the arrow 70 And it flew past the parapet To stick firmly In Punx’s chest. Verse S: The people of Trash Carried the wounded Punx, With the arrow still embedded In Punx’s breastplate And with his life’s blood leaking out 5 Onto the groundcover of Trash, Down from the parapet And along the wall to where the tents Stood silent. When they brought Punx into Indee’s tent, 10 She began to weep, For she feared that now The people of Trash Would perish. But Punx, 15 Still able to speak, Spoke to Indee: “The barbarians of Pop May have felled me, But so long as the people produce Trash, 20 That which the Hyperphenomenal Entity has deemed sacred, Our people will never die. There will be one to whom I can pass my Trash: Undergrunt, my son.” 25 And Undergrunt entered the tent And came to his father’s side. And Punx said to his son: “Take my Trash And defeat the host of Pop, 30 For you and the people Shall be protected By the Hyperphenomenal Entity.” And with that, Punx exhaled his last breath 35 And his hand fell To his side, limp. Verse M: Undergrunt stood up From his seat at his father’s side And looked around the tent at his people of Trash And he spoke to them: “Even though my father 5 Has been struck down At the hands of Greedone and Condescendar, The fight is not yet over. Will all of you take up Your arms of Trash 10 And follow me to victory Against the horde of Pop?” And the people of Trash Cheered in response And they donned their Trashmail 15 And sharpened their Trashswords As Undergrunt led them through the camp To where the wall cracked and fell away. And when the axes poked through And Undergrunt could see Greedone’s grin, 20 Undergrunt ordered the charge. The wall shattered And the warriors of Trash Poured into the soldiers of Pop, Lopping off limbs 25 And slipping in the blood Of twenty years of siege. Undergrunt cut his way Through Pop soldiers on all flanks Until he came, 30 Face to face, With Greedone and Condescendar. “You may have killed My regular soldiers,” Greedone said, 35 “But you must now face Condescendar, My general.” And Condescendar, Armed with the largest piece of Pop In any hand on the field, 40 Charged against Undergrunt. Verse T: They clashed with the scream Of the dead and dying, Undergrunt and Condescendar did, And Condescendar raked his Pop Across Undergrunt’s face, 5 Blood shattering into the air And falling to pepper Undergrunt’s shoes And to stain Condescendar’s shirt of Popmail. Undergrunt retaliated, Thrusting his Trash at Condescendar, 10 But Condescendar parried, And the weapons met With thunder and wails. And Condescendar again Reached for Undergrunt’s face 15 But this time, Condescendar missed, As Undergrunt allowed the crumbling Trash wall To move him out of harm’s way. Condescendar’s Pop was pinned Between two large boulders of Trash. 20 Undergrunt wasted no time, Bringing his Trash down On Condescendar’s exposed Pop, Slicing it in half. Condescendar was knocked back 25 By the force of Undergrunt’s blow And he fell into a pile of the dead With the blood staining His pristine Popmail. Still, Undergrunt wasted no time 30 And he swung his Trashsword Across Condescendar’s neck, Throwing his head across the field And it skittered to a halt, Lost among the millions of others 35 In the ruins of the wall. Verse Y: Undergrunt, Caught in the middle of a rush Of his own adrenaline, Spun around, Expecting to find Greedone smiling, 5 But found nothing But the grimacing dead And the sad Trash survivors Who stared with stone eyes At the crimson ground. 10 Undergrunt’s snarl weakened, And his amphetamine breathing slowly returned Back to normal As he realized that Greedone had escaped. And after Undergrunt 15 Let his rational state of mind return, He spoke: “People of Trash, We have earned a great victory today And Greedone has escaped. 20 But did the Hyperphenominal Entity not fulfill Its part of the covenant? We continued to make Trash, And yea, Greedone did take some of it, 25 But we are still alive, As a people, And we can still produce more Trash.” And the people of Trash cheered, For they knew 30 That if they forever produced Trash, They would never fall To the dark forces Of Pop. Drive-Thru I’ve been coming to this place every Saturday night for the last five months. This same part of town, this same parking lot, this same parking space where I always have to turn on the interior light of the car because the pole with the burned-out bulb blocks the red and white fluorescence of the Mel’s Drug Store sign. The light on that pole used to work, and I used to be able to see the food I had picked up from the drive-thru. But a couple of weeks ago, it got really dim and flickery, and now it sleeps up there and the car is too dark without it. That happened about the time she started coming around. She came to her same parking space, across from mine, over by that tree and that light which never got dark. And she smiled at me the first time. But now she’s gone and I can’t go to the parking lot anymore. I always start it off with a fake phone call. I have this over-sized and obviously cheap cell phone that doesn’t play any of those trendy tunes or have games or anything. My parents got it for me when the older, bigger one broke and wouldn’t let you recharge the battery anymore. I hardly ever get any phone calls on it. Well, real ones anyway. Usually the calls I get are from my parents, never from my friends or anyone else. So I have to make up phone calls to get my parents to let me use their car. In my room, I pretend to talk to someone. I wouldn’t normally do that, but the walls in the apartment are so thin that you can hear everything that happens in the room next door. When someone coughs in the bathroom or grunts when they push while sitting on the toilet — I hear it all. So just in case one of my parents is there, I say things into my phone. You know, thinks like “Yeah, I can go,” or “Sure, I’ll be there in twenty minutes.” I always tell my parents when I’ll be home. It’s not like I’m that much of a rule freak or anything. No, I just tell them every time so they will keep letting me use the car. I’m just doing what I have to do to keep my weekly drives. Then, of course, I head out there, in my parents’ car, and I go to the drive-thru. I always order the same thing, but no one there ever remembers me. Sometimes the person working the intercom is some woman who talks too fast. She talks so fast that sometimes she finishes half of what she’s saying before I start hearing her through the speaker. I always thought maybe she was reading a script or something because the only parts I hear are always the same. I ask for barbecue sauce every time, and she always looks at me with this disappointed glare, like I had just gotten an F in math or something. I did that once, in real life, and both my parents gave me that look and rolled their eyes at the same time. I never failed a class afterwards because I never wanted to see them do that again. Then I drive down King Street to the parking lot of Mel’s Drug Store. When I make turns in the car, I sometimes have to stick my right arm out and pinch the edge of the top of the bag so it doesn’t fall over, and when I do that, the steam kisses my fingertip. And then I let go and listen to the loose fries and salt batter around in the corners of the bag. Those last ones are the best. Just when you think all the fries are gone, and you pick up the bag to put your trash in it, and you hear those last few in there — it’s like an old friend who moved to Arizona a while ago just showed up at your door. That’s how good those last fries are. I always park in that same parking place. At first I didn’t think about it, where I was parking that is. Then one day I realized that there was nothing new to look at out the window, that I’d looked at it all — the Mel’s Drug Store sign flickering red and white, the dark lamp post, the other empty spaces tattooed with oil stains that looked like celebrities, the dashboard of my parents’ car. It kind of became a sitcom, but with every situation the same and none of it comedy. I knew something was going to happen that first time I saw her. Just as I was pulling into the parking lot from King Street, she was leaving, making a right onto Canyon Road and heading off across the overpass where I saw her taillights wink at me before disappearing over the crest. For a second, I panicked and almost parked in the wrong space, the one next to mine. But at the last moment, I adjusted the wheel and parked crooked in the right space. That night was also the first night I almost got caught by my parents. I almost missed a ketchup packet that had fallen between the passenger seat and the door, but I noticed it as I got out of the car, after pulling into our driveway and for a moment, I didn’t mind if they found out. Then I changed my mind and walked around the back of the car and got the ketchup packet and put it in my pocket so they wouldn’t know what I had done that night. It sat in my pocket in a weird way while I walked past my parents and into my room. It was sort of diagonal and I could feel the corner poking through the pocket and into my thigh. I saw her face the next week. I had just pulled into the parking lot when I noticed the dark shape of her car under that light that works across from my space. It was hard to see the color of her eyes, but her hair burned a bright crimson with ripples of black that told me it was slightly permed. It hung loose around her head, like a dripping crown. Her cheeks were smooth, uncreased, and I could see a slight blemish — a brown dot — just below her temple, by her right ear. She was eating food from the drive-thru across the street from the one I went to. I couldn’t see the bag that I was sure sat in the passenger’s seat next to her, but I could tell by the fries. They were wider and flat, like small steak fries. The ones from my drive-thru were thin and long, the shoestring kind. She must have already eaten her burger, because the whole time I sat there watching her, she only ate fries — one at a time — pausing only to take an occasional sip from a medium-sized soda. I don’t think she noticed me until she finished and looked up to where I was sitting with the interior light on because the streetlamp above my parking space didn’t work. During that first glance from her, I thought I saw her upper lip twist into a slight sneer. But then, when she had stared at my round face for a little longer, she smiled. It was a small smile, a quick one, the right corner of her mouth contracting and pulling back toward her ear. Her eyes snapped up into mine, just for that second, before collapsing and looking down to where her shoes probably danced nervously on the pedals. Her hair curtained her face when she looked down, and for all I knew, she was smiling even harder under her blood-red veil. And even that thought, just the very thought that she might smile just because I was there, it made me forget a lot. I forgot all those nights I spent flipping through my CDs and thinking about how I’d give a lot to be in one of the bands, or how I would like to meet those band members, or how they are all happy now because they were never forced to play along with my dreams in real life. That’s what she made me forget that first time she saw me. She made me forget those wasted nights. She was there again, waiting for me, when I pulled into my parking space the next Saturday night. I knew she was just waiting there, because I saw the empty bag from her drive-thru lying on the ground outside her door. I did the same thing when I was done with my food. I stuffed the empty wrapper and fry box back into the bag, along with the cup that rattled with half-melted ice, and kicked it out the driver’s door. Sometimes I would run over it, squishing out the ice in a glistening stream, when I backed up to leave the parking lot. But sometimes I’d drive forward and just leave it there with the sideways cup leaking and bleeding the bag a dark brown. I watched her as I ate my food. She seemed to be listening to music, her head nodding and tilting slightly every now and then. When my radio got quiet between songs, I could hear the beat of the bass drum in her music and the soft tinkle of cymbals. Her eyes flashed up at me several times and I saw that smile creep from one corner of her mouth to the other. I made sure to smile back, and I even winked at her once, but I don’t think she saw me. After I finished my food, I leaned over to the passenger’s seat to grab the bag so I could throw away all the trash. As I sat back up, I looked over toward her car, where something caught my eye. She had the back of her hand up against the windshield, with only her index finger extended and wiggling, beckoning me to come over to her car. At first I didn’t know whether she wanted me to just drive up and park a little closer or if she actually wanted me to get out and walk over there. So I just sat there for a minute, fidgeting with the keys in the ignition and fingering the bag in the passenger’s seat. She cocked her head and half-glared, and I knew I had to do something. I opened the door of my car and got out, bringing my keys and the bag with me. I dropped the bag when I was halfway to her car, letting the ice rattle in the cup and the bag crinkle on the hard blacktop. When I got to her window, she was smiling. And I mean really smiling, with her teeth glowing in the light from the streetlamp. Her cheeks pushed into slight dimples and her eyes narrowed with finger-like laugh lines. We smiled at each other for a minute until she reached down to the handle of the door. I had to step back so she could swing the door open the whole way. “Hi,” she said. “Hi.” She kept smiling. “Do you want to come sit in the passenger’s seat?” she asked. “Sure.” I walked around the front of her car and sat down next to her and closed the door. “I’m Laura,” she told me. “I’m John.” We shook hands and then sat in silence, listening to the faint music pulse through speakers near our ankles. “So,” she said finally. “What do you do?” “What do I do?” I briefly considered lying, telling her an elaborate story about how I was a record producer. I wanted to say I was a photographer and needed her to model. I wanted to say I was an artist, waiting for the check from my last gallery open house. But I didn’t, I couldn’t. “I just drive around sometimes, then come here and eat food from the drive-thru.” Her smile didn’t even flinch. “Me too.” She leaned over and kissed me then. A quick peck on the cheek. I stared straight out the windshield, but I could feel the red dancing across my face. She giggled and I smiled. The next thing I knew, she was all over me, kissing, groping, feeling. I kissed back, but otherwise, I didn’t know what to do. I tasted her lipstick and the salt from her drive-thru food. I licked her teeth as we wrestled in the front seats of her car, under the streetlamp that worked, in the parking lot of Mel’s Drug Store. She unbuckled my belt and unzipped my fly. My heart began to race as I felt her mouth slide away from mine and re-emerge below my waist. I couldn’t hear the music anymore. I couldn’t see the bright red and white Mel’s Drug Store sign anymore. I just leaned back and let her massage me. She paused a few times, letting her hand fill in as she panted and looked in my eyes. She still had that slight smile across her lips, even though her lipstick was smudged and patchy. She continued for a while. It must have been over twenty minutes, with her sighing when she took short breaks. Then she stopped and moved back to the driver’s seat. I sat up and looked at her. Her smile was gone, and so were the dimples and laugh lines. She looked at me, with that disappointed glare, for too long. I started to shift in my seat. “Sorry,” she said, “but I have to go right now.” She must have known it was time to leave some other way because I never saw her look at the clock. “Where do you have to go?” I asked, still unsatisfied. “Somewhere else.” She reached over and opened the door and gestured for me to leave, her fingers flicking toward the road. I zipped up my fly and stepped outside of the car. She turned the keys in the ignition and pulled forward, the door slamming shut from the inertia. Her taillights only brightened once, as she slowed down to enter the traffic on Canyon Road. Then I lost her in the school of other cars and I had nothing to do except sit in my parents’ car in the dark. She wasn’t there the next Saturday. Or the Saturday after that. I just stayed there alone, eating in the dark and waiting. It was about eleven p.m. when I saw the lights in my rearview mirror. A car had turned into the parking lot and it shambled across the asphalt to park in a space behind me. I was hopeful it was Laura. The car wasn’t parked in her usual space, but I thought she had just forgotten which one it was, considering she hadn’t been there in a couple of weeks. I got out and headed over to the other car, but stopped when the door opened. A blue uniform got out, the light shaping his broad shoulders and glinting off the shield pinned to his chest. The cop snapped on a flashlight and pointed it at my face. “Hello there, sir,” he said. “What are you doing here?” I held up my hand to block the light. “I’m just waiting for someone,” I told him. “A friend.” “You’ve been coming here a lot, huh?” I nodded. “That’s what I thought.” He took a few steps toward me. “Someone from Mel’s Drug Store here called us and said they got videotape of someone who loiters around here and then leaves trash in the parking lot.” I just stood there. “So I’m going to ask you to leave these premises now.” I took a few steps back, but didn’t leave. “Go on,” he said, waving the flashlight at the car. “Or else I’ll have to cite you.” I got into my parents’ car and started the ignition. In the rearview mirror, I could see him watching me leave, his flashlight pointed at the parking space I used to park in. Then I turned the corner and only saw the bright headlights of other cars behind me, and I had no remorse. Angela I Ryan was always whistling that song He whistled it now As he dusted off the top of a cash register in Milton’s Hardware “Sugar Candy Train” — a long legato slur followed by a few
As I stood at my empty cash register waiting 5 The phone near the monitor rang Ryan the Customer Service Representative calling “Yeah” I asked “I need to you turn out your register light and get a mop” He told me 10 I could hear him smiling through the phone II I flipped off my register light but of course it didn’t matter A customer cruised up to me anyway A package of batteries “Your total is $3.24” 15 I was sure I heard him gasp “That can’t be right” He pounded the counter With his wallet A clear plastic Ziploc bag containing colorful cards and crumpled bills “The sign back there said $1.99” he said tilting his nose up 20 A bloody lie “Would you like me to call back there and have them check the price” A glance at his watch “No that will take too long Just let me pay for them And then I’ll go back and check the price” 25 He paid by credit card And snatched the receipt out of my hand and pounded back into the
I headed for the back room The mop was waiting III The mop had the stench of over-use 30 Dark and permanent on gray weeds hanging in leaking braids The bucket a bright yellow smudged with brown slobber The wheels giggled across the linoleum to the front I steered toward Ryan “You see that brown stuff over there” He pointed 35 “An old man soiled himself while staggering confused around the store I need you to mop it up” I rolled my eyes and sighed “I always think of something happy whenever I have to do stuff like
that” he said
“I sing ‘Sugar Candy Train’ and everything is good” 40 He meant that song from the 1930s Sung by that cute dimpled Angela Angel The child star “Everything is good” IV I rubbed the mop across the streaks of foot-printed dung 45 Cursing the smell and Ryan’s grimace and the squeaky wheels Maybe it was the fact that this couldn’t get any worse That made me want to try it I whistled the pickup note then the long one that pitch-shifted to the flat Then the punched notes after 50 And soon I whistled it like a symphony I could even see Angela Angel tap-dancing around the feces Sausage curls billowing dimples puckering Red shoes skidding And I smiled 55 As I mopped the old man’s dung Angela followed me back down the main aisle to the janitor’s closet She kept singing and dancing as I whistled ‘On the SuuuuuuuGar Can-Dy Train’ I kept whistling as I let the water play a solo flowing 60 From the grunge bucket to the drain I hung up the mop and turned to her Her shoes clattered to a halt I winked and she danced away V “You were right” I told Ryan 65 “Didn’t I say so” he said “I even saw her and she danced with me” “I know it’s great isn’t it” “Yes” VI The windows rolled up 70 The heat battered by wheezing air conditioning I sat in traffic On King Street A Dodge in front had lost control and struck three vehicles The owners were arguing 75 And I sighed and glanced out the windows I shifted my arms one hand coming to rest under my chin The other draped across the top of the steering wheel The radio crackled like a pyre I whistled tunelessly until I accidentally fell on that long note 80 ‘Suuuuuuu—’ And I launched into the full song ‘—Gar Can-Dy Train’ Angela Angel was sitting next to me Bobbing in the seat as she squeaked out the words 85 The shoulder strap of the seat belt behind her little body Leaving her arms free to float along with the tune She opened the door and tap-danced across the hood Her shoes scraping adorable scratches into the paint She chattered over the trunk of the car in front of me 90 Up the back windshield Across the top of the car Down the front windshield Onto the hood I smiled 95 Traffic began to move And I nodded to Angela and she danced away VII I could feel it long before I woke up Someone’s eyes were on me pawing at my face I rolled over but they kept digging into my back 100 Finally I opened my eyes Those dimples stared back at me The silky golden curls dangling near my forehead Well hello there sleepy-head I leapt back 105 Shuttering with a muffled scream Scrambling backward Trying to climb up the headboard and through the wall Holding the sheets between us as a shield But she was gone 110 I sighed but my heart still raced I glanced around the room Scuff-marks from tap-dancing shoes littered the hardwood floor Stray strands of hay-colored hair slept in my bed A giggle echoed off the walls 115 VIII “What have you done to me” I asked Ryan “What do you mean” “Angela was watching me while I slept” His eyes narrowed and darted from side to side His lips pursed 120 “Maybe you’re taking it too literally” he said Don’t listen to him “See Did you hear that” I said jerking my head around the doorway But she was hiding Ryan jumped slightly 125 “Hear what Calm down” Then I saw her Skipping near the hammers in the tool section Twirling around the rows of spray paint on aisle five Her tap shoes blaring 130 “There she is” I pointed Ryan didn’t even look “I gotta get to work now” He turned to the computer Come on let’s dance 135 “Don’t just blow this off” I grabbed his sleeve He stopped “Let go of me Leave me alone” “You did this to me” ‘There’ll be lots of gum drop rain’ 140 I barreled out the front door IX Even out in the parking lot she danced Her tap shoes scratching against loose gravel on the blacktop Cars veering around her People narrowly missing her with shopping carts 145 Yet I stopped to smile when she splashed through a puddle And a customer growled at the water emblazoned across his jeans This can all be a game And I laughed out loud When she squeaked out the tune of the song through smiling
As a runaway cart dented the door of a blue Volvo “Maybe you’re right” That’s the spirit I began to whistle as I opened the door to my van ‘Chocolate syrup greases the track’ 155 She danced from the waist up in her seat again Her hands taking the place of her tap shoes ‘Your tummy will hurt when we get back’ X I heard it before I was fully conscious Clatter clatter clatter in the far corner 160 I hadn’t opened my eyes but I knew what it was I squinted at the crimson numbers burning on my nightstand “Angela it’s three in the morning” But sleeping’s no fun “I have to be at work in four hours” 165 I stared up at the ceiling trying to ignore her But her dancing took her everywhere And soon she was giggling down at me Her shoes smacked across the white paint Leaving black slashes in their place 170 She circled the glass globe encasing the light bulb as she sang ‘It runs on yellow sugar crystals’ “Please Angela I need to sleep” You sure are grumpy She pouted but didn’t miss a beat 175 I covered my face with my pillow Her taps lost rigidity but still bled into my ears XI It was Friday my usual meeting night with Jane I opened the car door And Angela was already buckled into the passenger seat 180 Where are we going “To the movie theater I’m going to meet Jane” Your girlfriend I thought I was the only one Angela’s smile flipped becoming a frown between two dimples Her eyes pointed down her nose as I drove down Park Street 185 She stared straight ahead Eyes hidden by curls I decided to break the silence I whistled the tune and slowly Her frown flat-lined her lips pursed 190 And she squeaked out the faintest of laughs Her head began to bob until she could no longer contain it She exploded in a giggle Her dimpled grin illuminating the dashboard ‘The conductor blows a bubblegum whistle’ 195 She danced almost the whole way to the theater Resting only when I turned onto Lawrence Road And drove out of breath for the last two blocks Sharing Angela’s smirk as I parked next to Jane’s red jeep XII We hadn’t even made it through the opening credits 200 When Angela screamed This is rated R Her screech echoed off the canvas screen to shoot back at me With the power of the theater’s acoustics at its back How could you come here and watch this 205 “Settle down Angela” Jane turned to me “Did you just call me Angela” she asked “No I was talking to Angela Angel” “Angela Angel” 210 “Yeah she’s right there” I pointed Angela had her hands cupped around her ears Her eyes were slammed shut and her head wiggled back and forth The sausage curls shimmered in the light from the film projector A soft white on gold just above her knees 215 Which were poking up at her chin “There’s no one there” Jane said “Of course there is Angela is there” Come on let’s leave “We can’t leave now” I said 220 “I think we should” Jane said “You’ve been acting strange lately” Angela screamed again drowning out all the other white noise “Shut up Angela” “All right that’s it” Jane said She stood up 225 “Where are you going” “Out of here—what the hell is it with you and Angela Angel” “She keeps screaming I don’t know” Someone behind us said something But it was drowned out by Angela’s howls 230 “Call me tomorrow if Angela will let you” Jane stomped up the aisle to the door Her footsteps could hardly compete With the wails from Angela’s throat I turned back to where she sat 235 Curled on the seat Head between her knees Flashes of soft-core porn on the screen Reverberations crackling around me Her dimples covered by her thighs 240 “Shut up Angela” Hisses from behind Screech “Shut up” I stood 245 “I’m leaving You can scream yourself breathless” I thought I felt the sting of a chocolate-covered raisin on my back I grabbed her by the wrist “Come on” Her patent leather shoes shuffling along the carpet 250 Her arm twisted with resistance I jerked her up the slope while she wailed And smeared her tears on my hand XIII “What is wrong with you” I snapped Angela forward with a flick of my wrist 255 As soon as we were in the parking lot She stumbled but then caught herself on a white sports car You took me to an R-rated movie She hugged the car snuggling it like she would her father’s leg “I can go to R-rated movies if I want to” 260 Those movies are trash “Look I don’t mind you hanging around But don’t tell me how to live” She began to cry her chest heaving her head jerking “Oh come on don’t do this” 265 She sniffled then heaved again Almost squealing as she wept “Come on stop crying” She slid down the side of the car The hem of her flowered dress dipping to the blacktop 270 “Look I didn’t mean it Angela it’s okay” Her head rose a bit so she could look at me “Come here” I knelt down smothering her in my arms I rubbed her back lightly 275 Tracing around the blue ribbon between her shoulder blades We hugged until a man asked me to move So that he could he could get into his sports car I let Angela take me by the hand and lead me to the van I whistled all the way home and Angela’s cheeks were dry 280 XIV Jane wouldn’t answer the phone When I called her the next day “Well I hope you’re happy” I said to Angela She just smiled and tapped around the sofa She was mean 285 “If you hadn’t screamed like that it would be fine” She wanted to see that R-rated movie “You still shouldn’t have acted like that” Let’s go to the park She headed for the door with her dimples radiant 290 “I can’t go to the park I have to be at work in half an hour” You’re always such a worrywart “See what I mean Don’t tell me how to be” She stopped tap dancing And watched me change into my uniform 295 Tan khakis white polo shirt black shoes Green vest with pen and nametag I wanna go to the park Her voice had a growl behind it “Then go I have to go to work” 300 She stomped her right foot down The sole of her shoe ringing off the hardwood floor Shaking the bookshelf behind it and knocking over the lamp “What is wrong with you” I want to go now 305 “No” Her fists raised into the air And came down on the center of the bookcase The shelf cracked and several novels toppled to the floor She shrieked and stomped 310 Rippling the glass in the windows like water “Shut up you brat What is the matter with you” She continued to wail And pound out wounds on the bookcase I wanna go to the park and I wanna go now 315 I took a step toward her “Angela if you don’t shut up I swear” She didn’t even listen to me The shelf was dented beyond recognition Bleeding books onto the floor 320 Her foot began to produce a small well in the floorboards Her curls had begun to unravel And the loops in her blue bow were loose and drooping My downstairs neighbor began to bang on her ceiling As Angela’s screams pierced through the thin walls 325 Finally I snapped my arm out With the hand waist-high And slapped her XV Silence Her head snapped to her left and back 330 Tears spraying off her face My right arm was stretched out parallel to the floor Like I had just thrown the bat after striking out Angela lifted off the floor With her back arched 335 Her golden curls whipped back and ragged She hovered there for a second Before crumpling to the floor Her body making only a slight tap She didn’t move for what seemed like an hour 340 My arm was still pointed out waving to the wall Her right hand moved first Drifting up to the red smear across her right cheek She rolled back and forth Clutching her face not saying a word 345 I turned around My face flushed And stomped out the door XVI It was dark when I got home I found Angela still in the living room 350 Huddled in the corner Her head pointed down toward where the couch met the floor I stood in the doorway watching her for a moment Stray hairs splashed around in the light by her head Her knees looked used and scuffed around the cap 355 Her dress was adorned with dust bunnies and spider webs And grains of dirt sticking to darkened wet spots Her right cheek was swollen Ringed with a circle of red And marbled with laces of purple 360 Her mouth trembled muttering words I couldn’t hear I smiled slightly And headed into my bedroom XVII I sat up suddenly in my bed Pebbles of sweat dotting my face 365 I heard something out in the living room And found Angela still in the corner Making short quick squeaks As tears dribbled down her chin I winced when I saw it 370 The bruise on her face had shaped into a welt the size of a baseball The center had burst And opaque milky pus oozed out Crawling onto the breast of her ill-fitting dress The swollen knot hindered the movement of the right side
of her face 375
And so that corner of her mouth remained in stone While the left side dangled on its own “Angela” I whispered Her eyes shifted and her head wiggled But she still wouldn’t look at me 380 I stepped closer to her Her legs shuffled a bit Pulling in nearer to her body Her shoe pulling a line of salty water from a puddle of tears Her mouth became more frantic 385 Mumbling hotly to her knees “Angela I’m sorry” Her eyes flipped at me But she just clipped her hands around her drawn legs “Please Angela” 390 She shook her head Her shredded hair waving “Forgive me I’m sorry” Her left hand reached up to smear at the tears pouring from her eyes He shoes shuffled her around 395 Turning her body away from me So she was facing deeper into the corner Her eyes on a black blot That I hadn’t cleaned off the wall yet I stepped over so I was right behind her 400 Her mumbles just as unclear I kneeled behind her sighing “Angela I’m sorry” She began to sob again Her shoulders shrugging with each sniffle 405 Her voice ragged coughs My hand reached out to her And smoothed some of her frayed hair Her shoulders heaved her breathing quickened Her jaw opened 410 And spewed out a thick stream of mucus and vomit That splashed onto her tap-dancing shoes Spreading filmy white drops across the red leather My hand jerked back XVIII It was like a dog gnawing on a chair 415 Or a cat clawing at a sofa But I heard it A gurgling scratch From outside my bedroom somewhere At first it was almost as familiar as the cars burning down
the street 420
But then I sat up and listened and heard it Like something chomping on a stave of wood It was still dark out And I flipped on the light next to me Kicking my legs off the bed to the floor 425 I staggered toward the door And opened it to peek out Angela was sitting near the sofa Her back to me And the profile of the left side of her face 430 Shining a rotten yellow in the light from the streetlamp “Angela are you okay” I knew she wouldn’t hear me But I did hear a low growl from her direction I snapped on the light 435 And gasped at her The pus-filled welt had grown into a second head Its eyes were green slits glowing in the bright light Its mouth was full of jagged gray bones for teeth One gnarled tooth reaching up to its right eye like a tusk 440 Its tongue lashed out forked and smoky Its hair was made of black fingers That clawed at the empty air The fingernails gray pieces of rotten tree bark Its nose a gaping heart-shaped hole 445 The head glared at me as I approached it Angela still mumbling silently “What the hell is that” She didn’t listen The head growled louder 450 I stopped and watched it As it began to chew on the sofa and spit out raw chunks of stuffing “Stop doing that” It paused to stare at me Angela not even bothering to control it 455 Her body limp when the head jerked to tear up the sofa “Angela look at me” Her eyes glanced and she tried to turn to face me “Angela what happened” The head’s slotted eyes glowered at Angela 460 “Tell me Angela” The head stretched its mouth open Placing its bottom jaw under Angela’s chin And the top teeth on her sausage curls The mouth closed 465 Angela screamed And then sat silent XIX I thought she was dead And the other head too Both lying there motionless and soundless 470 Then the new head stirred Sliding toward Angela’s limp body Its finger hair clawing at the gritty floorboards Gurgling until it reached the empty neck between Angela’s shoulders The blood had poured out fast at first 475 Gushing out in sheets Spraying all the way to the front door And rippling under the sofa to the television Now it had slowed to dull steam That split up to gather in one of the seven baths 480 That had formed a semicircle around her body The head slithered to her neck Where the fingers pulled it up to the open wound By impaling their crooked nails into Angela’s cold chest With another murmur 485 It attached itself to Angela’s body and stood Staring up at me from its short stature It growled as I backed up against the wall Pattering in Angela’s dripping dance shoes It hissed and grumbled 490 I walked toward my bedroom door In slow jerky movements The head watching me and following Its feet scurrying along the slick floor I moved faster but it kept pace 495 Until I slammed the door And its hands clawed at the doorknob Trying to open it Its fingers flailing at the greasy metal Now coated with a frost of blood 500 I sank down to my knees My feet were cold as the congealing blood Crusted around my heels and the tips of my toes I moved my right hand to my face to rub against my temple And I felt a cool paste glide into my hair 505 My hand was burning bright with Angela’s blood And it dripped down my forearm To collect at my elbow then fall to my chest Where it glistened in the dull glow from the streetlight When I turned out the lamp on my bedside table 510 XX I heard it at the door all night long Gurgling and growling scraping and scratching When the sun began to flow through the window I decided I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep And I threw back the sheets 515 I was startled when I saw the bright red stains across my chest Small splotches near the right side Grouped tight together My right hand was also soiled Coated like a red glove stopping at the wrist 520 I walked toward the door Rubbing my eyes with my clean left hand And raking out the tangles in my hair I saw its dark silhouette dance under the door A black form shuffling from side to side 525 The doorknob had faint streaks of red circled around it As I turned the knob and pulled the door open I saw it staring at me with glowing green cuts I heard it bubble a growl and wave its finger hair at me It balled Angela’s hands into tiny fists 530 Tight and pallid and shaking I stepped forward as it stepped back I made my way to the front door With it following and growling Sloshing through clotted blood 535 Matching every step I stomped down the stairs to my car Hearing it was be close And wouldn’t let me out of its sight XXI I thought I would be able to get into my van 540 And drive off Before it would make it down the steps But as I buckled my seatbelt and jerked the keys in the ignition I heard it snarling by my right shoulder It kept Angela’s body motionless 545 As it snapped its head to look at me I drove down the block And turned left at the stoplight Both the van and the thing muttered in time The head rumbling and its tusk-like tooth shivering 550 Its finger hair clacking the twisted nails together I heard it growl louder each time my hands loosened on the wheel I parked in front of the big wooden sign Near the center of Huntington Park Block letters had been chipped out some time ago 555 And painted with a dark green But now they looked crooked And pieces of the paint had flaked off The light laughs of the children playing on the swings Were a nice change from the grimacing hostility of the
car ride 560
I stepped out to the sidewalk Striding to the grated metal bench On the edge of the concrete pool of sand I sat down and watched the children swing back and forth Barely aware that the growling had stopped 565 The thing crunched through the leaves Until it splashed in the sand Its rotten dress fluttering in the light breeze I began to smile a bit as it scuttled toward the other children Then it lunged at the little girl on the swing 570 The tusk-tooth raked off a quarter of the girl’s head Throwing the piece into the air Long wisps of gold streaking in the wind The chunk of the girl’s head landed next to me on the bench Splattering my right side with stripes of blood 575 I jumped at the sudden warmth and stood Blinded in my right eye The blood tickling me as it crawled down my jaw line I turned around And ran back to my car 580 Stopping only to brush away a leaf that had become confused And almost wandered into my left eye XXII I slammed the door shut After finally parking the van crooked And running up the cement stairs 585 I pressed my back to the door and slid down it Panting and smearing a streak of blood From the peephole to the doorknob I sighed several deep breaths Staring into the gel-like pools of blood 590 Seeing black reflections of my face and the rest of the room Strands of golden blonde hair sat frozen on the surface Shards of skin and muscle rested like castles Surrounded by rusty moats I let my head fall back 595 And lie against the door Feeling the cold dampness soak through my hair I closed my eyes Still trying to calm the quickness of my chest I knew what it was when I first heard it 600 The soft jabber of small tap-dancing shoes on hardened cement Clicking up the stairs and to my door My eyes shot open but I still didn’t move I just waited holding my breath I shivered unintentionally 605 As the collected liquid around my neck Flowed down the ridge of my back And then the door jerked Shoving me forward Then again and a curved tooth broke through 610 Next to my right ear Then the whole door broke off its hinges Shattering in half As the thing bolted into the room I was thrown down to the floor 615 My face plowing through the jiggling seas of blood My whole right side was dripping As I rolled over and it stood there Glaring at me with its slits bright green In the middle of its pock-marked face 620 The dress was soaked down the front A bright red at the chest and the belly Darker near the edges It lunged at me with its mouth open The tusk like a spear 625 Its forked tongue whipping around its lips The fingers on its head rigid Pointing the distorted nails at me I crawled backward slipping on the slick floor As my hands fumbled around collections of blood clots 630 XXIII I held up my right hand as if blocking the sun from my eyes The thing streaming toward me I didn’t feel it at first As the tusk-tooth surged across my right wrist Warm blood swarmed down my forearm 635 Heating up the crystallizing coldness That was leftover from the girl on the swing I screamed when the pain caught up I slammed into the back wall just under the window The curtains whistling in the breeze 640 Catching me under my chin and tickling my mouth The finger hair landed in my face Scraping tiny licks into my cheeks and forehead I swatted at it with my left hand Feeling the wrinkled leather-like skin breaking 645 Under the heel of my hand And cool thick blood sticking to my palm It rolled off me landing to my right I continued to pound at its face Aiming this time for the crooked mouth 650 I felt its teeth crunching against my knuckles The pieces clattering to the hardwood floor I pulled my arm back and held it there for a moment The bloody fist by my ear Blood stepping down to my shoulder 655 I released it And let it impale through the gate of teeth The long tusk fractured at the base near its brown gums And careened against the wall behind my head And landed next to my left knee 660 The thing reeled back The back of its head dashed against the floor Shards of chunky nails popped off its finger hair I let my sore left hand drop down to my side It landed on the jagged tusk-tooth 665 The fingers naturally wrapping around it And squeezing until my knuckles glowed against the red background The thing stirred and pulled Angela’s arms up The elbows creaking as they bent under the weight It rose 670 Wavering in Angela’s leather shoes That looked like they had aged a century It stuttered toward me Holding out Angela’s arms As it struggled to maintain its balance 675 Drool bubbled out of the gaping hole in its mouth Where the tusk had been It sprung forward Its finger hair flailing about on its head Its glistening mouth open 680 Chipped teeth sparkling with spittle The tusk-tooth pierced it in the right eye It growled quickly before going limp And it smudged against me like jelly Gurgling along with the cold blood 685 Oozing from the back of its head where the tip of the tusk Had poked out to sparkle in the light from the window That illuminated the room XXIV I ripped my hand back from the embedded tusk-tooth As if I had just been bitten 690 And I held it away from me The cool breeze against the freezing blood made me shiver And I wiped the hand against my stained shirt Leaving slashes of dark red across my chest I curled my feet underneath me 695 And pushed my body up So I towered over the still corpse That looked small and far away I walked toward the bathroom A red line following me through the doorway to the sink 700 The blood gushing out of my wrist and down my right hand Tickled my finger tips as it dropped to the floor I gazed into the mirror My face pale and bland My eyes dark and cool 705 My shoulders drooping and soft I shuffled into my bedroom I didn’t even feel the blood flowing anymore My fingers were numb Laying down on the bed 710 I gazed up at the ceiling And with my left index finger I traced the scuff marks that were still there around the light Until I drifted into a soft sleep And I didn’t even wake up 715 When the room filled to the top with warm blood Lonely Dog The A side of the tape had ended some time ago, but I hadn’t turned it over yet. A sharp crackle had made its way from the cassette player in the front pocket of my backpack, through the wire that dipped below my belt, then swung back up my chest, took the right lane at the fork covering my aorta, and finally terminated with a snap in my only working headphone. I could now only listen to the flapping of my torn Converse sneakers on the sidewalk, complimented with the cough of the cars grumbling past me and an occasional toot from a horn as some motorist failed to conform. My stomach muttered a solo in the symphony, reminding me that I hadn’t eaten for three days even though my parents had already bought the food and I only had to remove the packaging in order to choke on the chemically-laced marvels of modern genetics. The crumpled grocery bag was in my backpack, buried underneath the Velvet Underground record I had just bought with my last nine dollars, and with the sun beating down on the twelve patches covering my backpack, I figured that the vinyl would probably melt before I even had the chance to listen to it, and the sandwiches below would be encased in a black tomb that was painted with heroin lows and amphetamine burns that bubbled the blood of Lou Reed floating through each and every one of the record’s grooves. That’s when I noticed the dog, about two blocks ahead. A limping basset hound whose misty eyes smoldered with such ferocity that I could feel their heat from four hundred feet away. Its ears fluttered at the sides of its head, tattered banners of brown and black with snowy tips. Its tail licked the sidewalk with each sad stagger that moved the hound closer to the place I had just abandoned. It stopped about ten feet from me, staring with its cavernous eyes, its breathing mere gasps, its muscles tense and shivering as it gripped the sidewalk and waited for me to move. I stepped closer, shrinking the gap between us to a leg’s length and we stared at each other—his quivering eyes looking me over, the watery surface reflecting back at me. I cocked my right leg back. The hound gripped the sidewalk and lowered its head. I released the leg and the toe of my black high-top Converse sneaker struck the dog in its left shoulder. It didn’t make a sound. It only shuttered backward slightly. Its watery eyes reflected back at me. I ratcheted my right leg back. I released it. It struck the hound in its temple. And the hound didn’t even reply. The cars passing by me began to slow down. I turned to stare at the people as they went by. Not one offered to shake my hand. No one asked for an autograph. The hound winced, and its watery eyes reflected back at me. That disappointed glare came from the cars. The tape had stopped. But I was too lazy to turn it over. The dog slunked forward, its eyes straight ahead, ignoring my own and the gawking from the cars, gnawed battle-flag ears at the sides of its head, tail pogoing down the sidewalk. I watched it go for a second, the hound waddling down the street, then I set my eyes forward, pausing only to turn over the cassette tape in my walkman so I could listen to the other side. I anticipated when I might be able to break bread with The Velvet Underground without the background hiss of strangers passing and judging. The Gate 12:34pm Prayer of the Opening of the Chaos Gate Ritual of Passage through the Trash Portal Casting of Hyperphenomenal Sight
Now it is time for me to bang my head against a typewriter and then hand out the messages to strangers. They’ll take it if I claim it’s a newspaper, I’ve found out. But there are still some who reject free information. I am the king betwixt this skin. This is not a joke. Do not stand there idle. I was given the power to rule by the Hyperphenomenal Entity itself. I shall rule for life, and then the crown shall pass to my next of kin. All those who question my authority are, of course, wrong. But do not worry or despair, for there is no punishment or persecution in my kingdom. We all live as happy squirrels, harvesting each other’s euphoric blasphemy. That’s right — we’re all sickeningly wacked out.
Counter of Hyperphenomenal Sight Ritual of the Garbage Dump Prayer of the Closing of the Chaos Gate 12:37pm 12:46am Prayer of the Opening of the Chaos Gate Ritual of Passage through the Trash Portal Casting of Hyperphenomenal Sight
I make the rules, Angela, for I am Shotgun Jeb, the Chaoticious Seer of Trash, Pope Kappa Nogga Bru-Ha-Ha. My rules are the ones that snap your head—see? Another one. I demand that you interrogate all of the gnomes in the garden section. That’s right, a customer said one of them is evil and I intend to find out which one. You are to spend the next week laying in a pool of stale cracker crumbs, mumbling “Oh my God” at Channel 5’s Eye-Witness News. And every other day, you’ll answer the door and pale people with stickers over their faces will flop across your threshold and barter for assorted items among your belongings—that Paris snowglobe your aunt sent you last year, the drinking bird you looked long and hard for on the internet, that box of Goblins and Gore books you thought you’d never find amongst the junk in your parents’ garage. And, of course, as they leave, they’ll forget one more photograph of the dog you had when you were six and they’ll attach it to their wrinkled heads by peeling back the edges of their stickered faces and inserting a corner. And, joined together by this photo, they will slobber back to the front yard and play gin rummy. You’ll bet on which one wins, but you know you won’t be able to stay until the end. Your ticket gets nauseous when it travels alone.
Counter of Hyperphenomenal Sight Ritual of the Garbage Dump Prayer of the Closing of the Chaos Gate 1:00am 3:16pm Prayer of the Opening of the Chaos Gate Ritual of Passage through the Trash Portal Casting of Hyperphenomenal Sight
Due to recent animal rights violations, I have been ordered by law to insert the phrase “hugakitty” in place of every punctuation mark from here onhugakitty I found the magick key to unlock the black treasure chest which was awarded to me upon defeating the red dragon and the ochre jellyhugakitty My characterhugakitty a thief with godlike dexterityhugakitty gained 6hugakitty500 experience points and three levelshugakitty Hot damnhugakitty And nowhugakitty in the chesthugakitty I found the Sword of Lightninghugakitty Whotta wet dreamhugakitty Please excuse the rather large handwritinghugakitty I wrote this with a crayonhugakitty Thathugakittys only one of the many perks of working in a place like thishugakitty thoughhugakitty True troopers of the Alabama Highway Patrol stick together and pass around purdy pictures of their newest diseased dog as it struggles to grip the Astroturfhugakittylined bed of a Chevy El Caminohugakitty The allhugakittyseeing pyramid has a bloodhugakittyshot eye and it cries ebony tears upon the frozen wastes at its foothugakitty The cracks in its bricks widenhugakitty the dusts of a thousand years of selfhugakittyruin blow away in the wind and the golden point rusts with misusehugakitty Ayehugakitty it has been a super yearhugakitty Hugakittyhugakittyhugakittyhugakittyhugakittyhugakittyhugakitty Counter of Hyperphenomenal Sight Ritual of the Garbage Dump Prayer of the Closing of the Chaos Gate 3hugakitty17pm 10:05pm Prayer of the Opening of the Chaos Gate Ritual of Passage through the Trash Portal Casting of Hyperphenomenal Sight
I’ve dragged, through mud and tattered shoelaces, seven crates of cheap ceramic skulls I bought while trailblazing across ghost towns in New Mexico. And still, I have thirteen more to go. It’s only midday, 10:05pm, and with yet another half of a bottle of Robitussin to get to. The dreaded relay is only intensified with the manic howls of bug-eyed and long-armed on-lookers, knock-kneed gargoyles that buck under the weight of the ones with vein-gnarled biceps. That’s the view from the stage, where sweaty clean-shaven jocks mumble choruses and pluck regurgitated chords. A drum stick comes loose from a lock-jaw grip and gets devoured by the crowd, splinters causing the vocalist to back off the microphone and stumble into an amplifier for protection. If only it could get worse from here. Then I’d be happy.
Counter of Hyperphenomenal Sight Ritual of the Garbage Dump Prayer of the Closing of the Chaos Gate 11:39pm 4:15pm Prayer of the Opening of the Chaos Gate Ritual of Passage through the Trash Portal Casting of Hyperphenomenal Sight
That stain on your shirt wasn’t put there by accident. Nay, it’s a reminder of the greatest cup of coffee you ever had. Simply recollecting it isn’t enough; you need that postcard, that sticky note, to prove you were there at the local indie coffee house. You were there and every time you lick the stain, you replay the movie in your head. Don’t forget: I’m not only a fourth-grade teacher; I’m also a fifth-grade student.
Counter of Hyperphenomenal Sight Ritual of the Garbage Dump Prayer of the Closing of the Chaos Gate 5:47pm 12:58am Prayer of the Opening of the Chaos Gate Ritual of Passage through the Trash Portal Casting of Hyperphenomenal Sight
Cletus had a great life back in Gainesville, Tennessee, in 1983. Oh, yeah, he sure knew what was going on. He had a girlfriend named Starla, had a truck with the StarsNBars shimmering on the antenna, had a set of teeth could go and break a mirror. But one day, Cletus decided something was missing from his blissful hick lifestyle — song. Cletus knew he had to become a rocknroll singer. He told his Uncle Hogbart about his musical aspirations while the two were chugging whiskey and lighting farts afire on a Tuesday morning. Hogbart was a preacher, so Hogbart offered Cletus the chance to sing down at the Gainesville Church of Them Jesus Folk. And sing Cletus did. Everything from the top-forty to the daily hymn. Cletus gained such a following that his brother, Bobby Bo Bill Joe III, got jealous. So, while loaded up on glue fumes and cough syrup, Bobby Bo Bill Joe III took his 12-gauge shotgun to Cletus’s chipped teeth and blew off half of Cletus’s head. It goes without saying that Cletus died. His spirit, however, did not follow the smell of old people and potpourri up to heaven. Instead, he followed Bobby Bo Bill Joe III around, hoping to get some revenge. After the shooting, Bobby Bo Bill Joe III hopped in Cletus’s truck and skedaddled northeast through Virginia and into Maryland. Upon arriving in Annapolis, Bobby Bo Bill Joe III took a swan-dive off the harbor dock and swam on down to Hell. Realizing he no longer need to reap vengeance, Cletus remembered his lifelong dream: to become a rocknroll singer. And this is where I come in. Cletus’s spirit searched for someone who would eventually give it a record contract…and he found me, just born, there in Annapolis. For years, I didn’t really understand what the spirit wanted me to do, so I tried to please it by participating in Civil War reenactments and attempting to distill my own moonshine. But then, one day, I understood all of Cletus’s frontier giggling. He told me about how he wanted to record an album and become a star. At this point, Trash Heap Records, my record label, had already released three albums and was looking for new material. I finally drew up a contract and signed it. Cletus agreed to give me a skull-popping recipe for moonshine and in exchange, I would produce four of Cletus’s albums. The spirit possesses me and allows me to deliver the vocals with the exact lyrics and style as Cletus would have done back in 1983. After the third album was finished, Cletus was not ready to hang up his overalls. He negotiated a new contract with me agreeing to release five more albums for a total of eight. So we now have those five more to go…
Counter of Hyperphenomenal Sight Ritual of the Garbage Dump Prayer of the Closing of the Chaos Gate 1:16am 3:56am Prayer of the Opening of the Chaos Gate Ritual of Passage through the Trash Portal Casting of Hyperphenomenal Sight
Yes, that’s right, Angela. This is the stool of the future. Instead of having four legs, it sits on two rounded, ski-like rungs so that the stool can be gently rocked back and forth, providing a soothing effect. No longer are you in danger of falling off the seat of the stool of the future, for it has a backrest so that you can lean back and relax. And, with the deluxe model, the stool of the future has two extra pieces on the sides, shaped for comfort when resting one’s arms on them. Carve out seven holes in my face and use each sliver of flesh in your sandwich. Your dog won’t know the difference and it wouldn’t matter even if he did. And every time you bite down on cartilage, you get that bitter-beer face, wincing. Your next door neighbor will happen to be looking at you when do it and will hope she is not the cause — yes, someone behind her must be the thing to merit such an expression. Wake up once during the night, sitting up like a rubber band snapping into your fingers, and panting as you try to remember what it was you were supposed to do. And then you realize that the only thing left to do is hit yourself, so you do, and in licking the blood that shudders from your nose to the corner of your mouth, mixed with mucus and hair, you feel a sense of completeness. I thought the world was fact until I re-wrote it and christened it “real.”
Counter of Hyperphenomenal Sight Ritual of the Garbage Dump Prayer of the Closing of the Chaos Gate 10:54pm 7:22pm Prayer of the Opening of the Chaos Gate Ritual of Passage through the Trash Portal Casting of Hyperphenomenal Sight
Maybe by now you’ve noticed that he who visits your dreams — Cletus, all clad in plastic sheeting and carrying a lock of your own hair — will always circle about your room before entering through the gap in your wall, between your Free Tibet poster and that still-life you did in art class. And then you’ll bow at his feet, kissing the lock of your own hair, and you’ll mutter about how you’ve been scorned by the dumbfucks and rejected by the punks. And Cletus will listen until he hears the dinner bell ring, and he’ll leave you stranded in your penitent stance, sucking at the air and whishing that your lips were once again pressed your hair. When did you notice that your hands were deformed? When you tried to dial your girlfriend’s phone number and you got Mel’s Drug Store instead? When you tried to sign an autograph for someone who saw you kicking a dog as you walked down King Street, but you ended up poking the pencil through the paper when you dotted your I’s, even though your name had no I’s in it? When you tried to hug yourself and instead gouged out an eye?
Counter of Hyperphenomenal Sight Ritual of the Garbage Dump Prayer of the Closing of the Chaos Gate 7:54pm 5:56pm Prayer of the Opening of the Chaos Gate Ritual of Passage through the Trash Portal Casting of Hyperphenomenal Sight
I imagined you dead today. I was walking from my humanities class to the cafeteria when I did it. You were hoofing it from the business building to your math lecture. For a moment, we made eye contact, your dirt browns spraying my cloudy gray ones. And when you looked at me, it all came back. That time you tripped me on the playground, that time you laughed when I dropped my lunch tray, that time you decided I need four more bruises on my left arm while I was retrieving my math book from my locker. That time you stereotyped me, that time you cursed me, that time you forgot me. So I did it, right then and there, I imagined you tripped on the blue bench near those trees in front of the auditorium. You stumbled with a surprised gasp and caught yourself, looking back only to curse the bench that you swear had not been there yesterday. And that’s when the maintenance guy slammed into you as he was riding a 500-pound beast and barreling through students at five miles per hour. You bounced off the front end like a pin hit by a bowling ball, leaving your shoes where you feet once stood firm and your hat mashed against the windshield. You slid for twelve feet, across gravel and concrete, before coming to rest in rusty lava that popped out of your mouth with each breath and poured around your shoulder blades. You struggled through those last seconds, I saw that you did, and at the moment you crossed over, I was the only person in the universe, delighting that I had just glared and killed. And then I tripped on a bench that must have been brand new, and no one even looked my way. They were all hurrying to their classes, so that they could sit there and write down every word the instructor said verbatim, not even thinking to actually absorb the material into their heads. I can see the new scar crawling across my shin now, the one that the bench made. It smolders as a deep red outlined by dark hairs. It’ll start up my thigh soon, and eventually it will reach my throat and sleep there, smiling, for all eternity.
Counter of Hyperphenomenal Sight Ritual of the Garbage Dump Prayer of the Closing of the Chaos Gate 6:14pm 10:48pm Prayer of the Opening of the Chaos Gate Ritual of Passage through the Trash Portal Casting of Hyperphenomenal Sight
If audio sabotage and buzzsaw feedback were the music of the past — scoffed at my the classically-trained and nodded to by the avant-garde — then I would have to say animal abuse is the next logical step. We’ll fill whole records and CDs with strangled cats hacking for breath and booted dogs who whimper when you autograph their heads with your boots. The sounds of crabs and lobsters being boiled alive and the soothing purr of jigsaws in aquariums. Will the art be the actual sounds of these animals dying? Or the feeling you get when you contribute to their deaths? I guess it doesn’t matter either way, since it will largely go misunderstood, or even nonunderstood, by the masses at large. You are all so accustomed to acquiring music and paintings and books in shrinkwrapped packages, with the songs and brushstrokes and pages all composed by executives in ties and sports cars. You buy these in the “alternative” section of the store, and they’re only in that section because the store was paid in ink and trees to put it there. A fairytale that’s become a nightmare that’s become a plastic mask that floats in front of your face night and day. It’s so inconvenient to pound that mask against the wall and shatter it into grimacing shards.
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I was born with three arms. I have both the normal ones—the one on the right which I use for most things and also the one on the left which helps out when jobs are too big for the one on the right. But then I have this third arm that is lower than the other two. It’s a little bit different, but the hand is the perfect shape for me to put a shoe on it. I do that a lot, every day almost, and I walk around with it. I can run and jump with it, too. Oddly enough, I only have one leg. The dog has been licking my brother’s pillow for the past hour. It’s lying in the middle of the floor, its mouth gnawing on one of the corners, shading it a glistening gray. Every once in a while, that dog squeaks out a satisfied bark, a soft grunt just to let me know it’s enjoying this. Dammit, I want that job back.
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I sometimes wonder if, given the choice, would He do it again? Would Jesus die today, for us? Here, now, in a country that passively oppresses the different and dodges human rights with double-speak? Would He do it for me? For you? Should He do it? Maybe he doesn’t have to, because no matter where we go, we have the choice to decide what it’s called — it can always be your personal heaven. The demons are kissing you with those swords, not stabbing you. You can always get away with reality.
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I cut myself when the boxes of the first record came. I was using a knife I kept in my desk drawer to cut through the tape and it slipped, slicking off a nickel-sized chunk of flesh from my thumb and leaving me with only a half-opened box of records. The blood dripped off my thumb in smooth sheets, pattering on the box and tacking on the floor. It left dark brown stains where it landed, and the tissues did little to stop the flow. This was back in September, or maybe October, and the blood is still there. On the knife, the floor, the boxes. Not the tissues, though, those are long gone. But I see the blood every day. The spots on the floor are no longer as bright or round as they used to be. Now that it has dried, it comes off easily in flakes. You can run your shoes over the spots and scrape off powdery blood. Maybe it’ll be valuable one day.
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On the subject of my name — Shotgun Jeb. I have heard that many of you have decided that I am not allowed to call myself “Shotgun Jeb” on the grounds that I have given this name to myself. I was not christened as such by some other entity, and so therefore, this name is false. However, your statement of dissent is the false one, for it implies that other entities — be they human or not — have control over my collective reality. I am also forced to remind you that I am the ultimate supreme king when it comes to my own reality. These chairs are only chairs if I say they are, just as I am only Shotgun Jeb if I say I am. You may call me different names, but none of those names will be as you created them once they enter my skull. For, as they sail out of your mouth as aural memes, they will wrack their hulls upon my kopf, and I will reconstruct them not as you thought they should be, but as I know they are. The M shall become an S, the A an H, the G an O, and so on, until I recognize the correct name. If one is not allowed to rename himself, then what, may I ask, is “Bob?” Shotgun Jeb is to me as Bob is to Robert, or Dave is to David, or Greg is to Gregory. I am sure Dave was not called “Dave” for any reason other than his personal preference. Shotgun Jeb should be treated no differently. I hardly need my name to be validated by you. The spirits know me only as this name, but they don’t matter either. I validate this name myself, for it is what I call myself, it is my pure identity, it is my holy name among discordians, trash artists and creators. This name is years older than my acquaintance with you, I am not sorry to say. You may not understand it, and so you recoil from it, but it is set and it is divine. Try as you might to undermine it, your meme is far less powerful in this realm, and you shall be the one to suffer. I am Shotgun Jeb, Pope Kappa Nogga Bru-Ha-Ha, the Chaoticious Seer of Trash.
Counter of Hyperphenomenal Sight Ritual of the Garbage Dump Prayer of the Closing of the Chaos Gate 12:19am 2:01am Prayer of the Opening of the Chaos Gate Ritual of Passage through the Trash Portal Casting of Hyperphenomenal Sight
Saturday is one of those days that begin with an S. But few people know that there is another day which begins with an S — Shotgun Jeb Day. Without this day, I would not know what day I am supposed to celebrate my general being. However, with this day, I am equally confused, since it appears on only one calendar, and it only appears there because I wrote it in myself. I didn’t have a pen at the time, so I had to carve it into the paper with a coat hanger. But nonetheless, no one can deny its existence. Maybe one day all of you will have one day where you yourselfs can celebrate your own beings. We can call it “My Day” and it can be every day. On the day this finally happens, we will have pure tranquility for every subsequent day. But, of course, we might run out of coat hangers.
Counter of Hyperphenomenal Sight Ritual of the Garbage Dump Prayer of the Closing of the Chaos Gate 2:00am 7:33pm Prayer of the Opening of the Chaos Gate Ritual of Passage through the Trash Portal Casting of Hyperphenomenal Sight
The world has covered most of the bases as far as media are concerned. We have newspapers, we have magazines, books, television, radio, the internet. We do not, however, have a mental medium. The world needs a group of people to mentally project the day’s news into the heads of other people. I am, of course, the obvious first choice to head up such a project, but I shall instead grant this honor to the first person who can mentally project to me the correct question to this answer: Randy Luffhakstein with cheese. Soon we will have hackers, though, and they will think about the password and then spam the rest of us with thought-about advertisements. This will not be tolerated in my kingdom, and the punishment for this offense will change depending on my mood temperature, and state of perplexity. So be prepared, knowing that any general wacko can be projecting the news into your mind so you won’t have to read it like a common, twentieth-century crutch.
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Often I lament this eternal sadness, this pulsing burn, this empty hole. I know none of them will notice, and I am happy they do not understand, for if they did, the idea would lose all meaning. I ponder this question: How can society at large be good if it rejects those such as me—those artists and philosophers, those general wackos and mental news projectors, those kings of all kings. Maybe one day the hedonists will grow impotent, the intolerant will grow apathetic, the powerful will grow weak — and all that will remain will be Shotgun Jeb aka the Chaoticious Seer of Trash. Alas, I am already king, but lacking the crown that only society can give, one of acceptance and understanding, neither of which I deserve. All moments are fleeting; none can be proven once lost, so let them go. Let yourself take the chance and approach that general wacko in your humanities class, your math class, your science lab. Love him, accept him. Let it be known that we are without remorse. Without remorse for the things we have said, the things we have done, the things that we have been and will be in the future. And let it be known that we will never have any remorse for these things, that we will no longer tolerate this constant chiding, because anything you will taunt us about is not a failure in our eyes.
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Today is as good as any day to call upon the powers to take notice of our actions. It is time we had a formal coronation where you, the citizens of the world, crown me as your absolute monarch so I may begin my divine rule. I swear my rule will only be half as bad as you say it will be, and only half as good as I swear it will be. I displace far more water than your current king, Dollar, for I am actually real. Real and powerful. Powerful and divine. None of you will need to worry about elections or petitions or any other such nonsense. All will be decided by Shotgun Jeb, your king. It shall be an obscene victory, O innovators of the absurd. Your world will be the home to the most powerful, most divine monarch. I make this claim, indeed I do, and I ask that all of you stand behind me. No villages will be plundered, no peasant will be left defenseless, no general wacko will be without padded walls; all these things are the will of the king, and so shall they be the will of the people. We’re all wacked out together.
Counter of Hyperphenomenal Sight Ritual of the Garbage Dump Prayer of the Closing of the Chaos Gate 8:21am 8:25am Prayer of the Opening of the Chaos Gate Ritual of Passage through the Trash Portal Casting of Hyperphenomenal Sight
This word “shotgun” on the cover of this book is a direct message to spirits everywhere that more munitions should be assembled for the everlasting war between that which is called Trash and that which was deemed Pop. Now is the time to gather arms. Start your newspapers, produce your magazines, film your movies. We will show those Pop maniacs who was meant to rule the world. Do not be tempted to join their plastic side. Stay true to your trash ways, and your Trash will forever stay true to you. We don’t have long to prepare; Pop has had centuries to build its forces, and we must catch up and strike before they even realize that the DoomTrash is upon them. And that is me. I, Shotgun Jeb, the Chaoticious Seer of Trash: I am the DoomTrash. I will lead you to victory. All I need is an army. And by creating Trash, you will provide it to me. Let us bear arms together, for they have naught but legs.
Counter of Hyperphenomenal Sight Ritual of the Garbage Dump Prayer of the Closing of the Chaos Gate 5:23am 7:02pm Prayer of the Opening of the Chaos Gate Ritual of Passage through the Trash Portal Casting of Hyperphenomenal Sight
Well, have you gotten the joke yet? Mayhaps you haven’t, and now it is up to me to explain it to you. You’re just sitting there, impressed with yourself that you have made it this far and now you fear to put it all down and walk away without finding some sort of “meaning” or “reason.” I have been your actor extraordinaire in this sitcom known as “My Reality.” I have played many characters, each with different virtues, vices, hopes and ailments. These characters have interacted with each other — as well as with you, the audience — in several different scenarios, many of which frightened or disturbed some viewers. And now, this text is the finale of the first season. But do not think it is the end of the series. No, I will be back, with new characters and new plotlines, all for your viewing pleasure. It is not easy to stop this rolling stone, but one day, it will shatter at the base of the mountain. We, however, have only hit a slight bump, and soon this stone will touch back down on the slope and continue rolling. You have some choices in dealing with the second season. You can be a passive viewer, and merely marvel condescendingly at this performance. Or you may abandon all, join me under these lights and gawking cameras, and take your bow before the season ends. Don’t be afraid, and don’t hold back. You have naught to lose, and all to gain. We shall not be bound to some other reality, we shall be free to explore our own. Be sure to make the right choice. Neither is inherently wrong; I do need both an audience as well as actors and actresses to perform. These are also not the only two choices; there are plenty more where they came from. There are an infinite number of possibilities, and it is time you chose one or many or all. But hopefully not none.
Counter of Hyperphenomenal Sight Ritual of the Garbage Dump Prayer of the Closing of the Chaos Gate 7:22pm For the back cover Description: It is time to rise up with the army of Trash to take back what is rightfully yours from the insidious rulers of Pop. And this is just the beginning of the battle. Being a collection of short stories, The Manifesto of the Guild of the Trash Artist is not only fiction for your enjoyment. It is a call to arms for you to write your own text, film your own movie, record your own album — anything to help win the war against Pop. Shotgun Jeb can’t do it alone. About the Author Shotgun Jeb is a writer, musician, discordian, philosopher and general wacko. He is the CEO and GOD of Trash Heap Records and the Emperor of the Hellish Roman Empire. He may be contacted at email@example.com. Blurb: