FORTUNES by FRED
The BUZZING TIME
“Fix your bulbs before I swallow the vapor. My grotesque maw is widened, drawing in cathode coating skein shaved dry down to Autumn thanks to enamel neglect. Under your fluorescent flickering, the raceway of my circular thoughts spirals into bouts of stroboscopic convulsions, switching off, in the precise and grim moment of total eruption, all my racing thoughts and leading left into nothing but nerves and anger. Please fix your bulbs; your red shoes…”
…I seem to be saying to the rookie cashier, a teen delegated to monitoring the automatic activity of mercantile maneuvers between machines and humans. The nominally compensated teen referee stands at her lectern, hypothetically ready to respond to any hint of “foul play” at the point of sale.
I seem to be pleading with her to fix the “bulbs” while I simultaneously penetrate the self-serve’s money mouths with cupronickel, coupon, and cash. The machine is easy, built for collaboration, its common core sharing with me the fragrance of sanitary plastic. A mood ring of scanners and visual cues, its consistently medium and monochromatic voice tells me what it wants, at what torque, and in what order. The cuckolded surveillance cameras turn the exchange, an otherwise pure act, pornographic. Before the day is done, the well-versed machine will have engaged in intimate transactions with thousands of humans of varying temperament, rough or gentle, cursing or compliant, impatient or submissive, clumsy or skillful. At the moment, I am granted the privilege of one on one contact with the supreme and inanimate servant. I am graceful, taking my turn when prompted, following its commands with tender embellishments. I am as graceful as the machine is absolute.
The cashier, on the other hand, is a tough nut to crack. I’m screaming my head off at her in anguish about the flickering predicament. She’s politely pretending to not hear me. She’s swabbing her tubes with ear buds and blowing green apple bubbles when she could be signaling to the plainclothes cop to “put me away.” For her indifference I am grateful. Her cool and passive resistance balances my ever-increasing hysterical and desperate vocalizations:
“Look, you dim bulb, who’s in charge here? I’ve swallowed the vapor, now you want me to swallow my tongue? I’m in no mood for mercurial swings…”
…as I think to myself, Thank my lucky stars she doesn’t flag down that cop.
“I’ll rip every tube lamp out of their fixtures and shatter them and swallow every shard per tongue in this shop and rip down the rafters while I’m at it! I’ll pull every closed circuit vulture down off of its perch and chew up the currents and spit their electric roots back in their leering faces!”
Humans fuss over Dole barcodes, triggering a staggering volume of scanner blips sustained and staccato. The accumulative effect of their civilized, non-musical rhythm is crippling. My machine spits coin at my midriff. Flickering lamps blend and blur, hit the methyl methacrylate coated concrete and mingle with the reflections of scuffed sneakers.
The black burns warn me that I’m two flickers of my red shoes away from a terrible amnesiac trance. In the nick of time, though, the machine’s thermal jaw muscles contract and deliver the receipt - the evidence, fully digested and final, of our intercourse.
I jackrabbit across the black top. Lofty sugar rushes from my matador mix turn my head and spin my wheels in a brand new way. I am fully equipped for a morning rustle down TARP LANE. I ride the dividing line, prepared to do so until the tank is drained. I count three oscillations and one rattle. The connectors remain; the radio is missing. I lick their ends to catch a buzz. I chew gummy matador cud. Hot white wired ignition flashes the two eyed wink to oncoming traffic. Steer clear, too close to shore.
A swipe of debt at a self-service pump hours ago, “bathed” in frontier dusk and mural, is my fee for a speedy therapy session. Flat, dark, dull, and predictable, I settle down to a gentle, low heat boil. The nerves and anger retract into their soft purple nest. The “blurry thinker” yields to my “flatline philosophy,” that is, “no thought, best thought.”
Brain-dead as the road is flat, as the milestones are even, as the Jersey wall is monolithic, as the route is dull.
I am a dull corpse. Nobody’s son would catch a tinge of Playmate in this cruising cadaver. The oscillations intersect, sacrificing their independence, and descend in unison. The blower exhales wet fever breath until its lung is deflated, as occupied as Mack Sennett’s banana peel. The parched belts crack down to a whimpering halt. The speedy kilometers become slow, mysterious miles. I jump shadows. Everything is one, and boring.
No sound lingers in the complete darkness of the BLACK FOREST MAZE on TARP LANE. My flatline moment enters, as all my moments do, the “buzzing time.” The prophet Hornet Fred is with me, humming in my ear:
“your blood lies between the old and the new
between the hours of 4 am and 7 am
a jackhammer whispers in Hamburg
stroke white retching duplicity: ice and ink, across the title loan
cover-up vaindal’s ad
with a flash brush streak
of the state of TN
sandal films of Inglewood
fantasy shields, the
the “death; defeat” league of Fonte City string-along
abject equine performers endure
tellus. flicker features unlike clap
ablate impetigo in projectionist’s booth where projectionist
opens a fist
full of homuncules
her fist fronds readings alert
those who would be harmed
their fine weeping cherry loss jogs
hormonal and follicle fall-out
leg risks start up front of fronds expose top
front of a fantasy clue
and even Hammett
couldn’t guess it.
of haggard messianic raiders:
and an illustration.
Hammett and Blake’s take on
angel baby blind
blunt and top bun operative
crepuscular and broad-shouldered
chiseled and aquiline slasher
a story of the southbound raft
magi c ink rube of the role play
could seem much more relaxed
if you return my dog to me that you
won’t return after I’ve asked you ten
or more times. have you gone mad?
why do you presume it’s acceptable for you to
it’s a long story, B
eggar Sam, the commando quarter horse
a longer limping way to
on our way
we’ll pony up
or settle the score
with deposed riders’ near paralysis”