by C.A. Seller
art by Dan Reece
(read chapters 1-4)
Always brush before you visit the dentist. Be careful who you pick your nose around. Pick your nose, pick your ass,don’t pick your tattoos. Don’t throw your cigarette butts in the urinal. Put the seat back down when you’re finished. Don’t stick it if you can’t lick it. Avoid anal sex (when possible). Don’t share needles, toothbrushes, straws or razors. Don’t tell your girlfriend everything. Keep your mouth shut.
Trust no one. If you act you belong there, everyone else will act like you do, too. On the telephone you can be anybody you want. Keep your back to the wall. Practice safe sex. Don’t argue with cops. Don’t argue, period. Hold fast that which is true and get a shovel and hip boots for the rest.The most dangerous people are those who believe their own bullshit and anyone who believes them. Don’t talk shit – well, not too much, anyway. Never mess with your friend’s old lady – not even if she’s begging you to. Avoid red meat. Try not to get too emotional in front of anyone. Familiarity breeds contempt. A dog is a man’s best friend – you ever meet a dog who lied? Always treat it as if it were loaded – even if it isn’t. Avoid bars and big parties. If you’re paranoid you’re probably right. The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask. Women are crazy. Men are crazy. Be careful – because you’re probably not going to be good. If you’re going to tell the truth, you’d better make it funny otherwise they’ll kill you. And remember:
“The world is a cross between a slaughterhouse, a bordello and an insane asylum. “ Isaac Beshevis Singer.
Under the covers with the lights off. The radio on. Hero draped his right arm over his eyes. The veins of his eyes projected dim powder blue pastel lines in his brain that looked very much like the spiders he’d once seen in a broken windshield. He was face down over a cue ball and the green felt of the table rolled them smooth, floating hungry, until his regrets were forgotten. There was the sensation of little chills on the outside of his legs just like the ones he’d had while he was kicking methadone, four times. A nerve on the right side of Hero’s head twinged as if an acupuncture needle had stimulated it, he knew it was only herpes. Hungry, he couldn’t eat. Lonely, he couldn’t speak. Horny?
“Nah, too depressing, maybe tomorrow.”
A song played on about a pubic parasite that made the girl singing cum and Hero thought his bed was slowly bouncing up and down on super soft springs but his bed didn’t have any springs, it was made of steel.
Worried, but with no one to turn on, there was something else in all of this that he had to look for in the space between the spaces, Hero would dive and return with that silent knowledge that defied fear and mind numbing reason of numbers here that counted everything in their greed. Their need to know killed the whole show,
Hero agreed. “Yes, that’s it alright.” He ate some plain white bread he’d saved from dinner and sipped at a mixture of his breakfast pineapple juice and state cool aid while the radio played on about some country and western singer who was a traitorous dyke, now the kept drunk of some cowboy somewhere.
“I spent my last ten dollars on birth control and beer, my life was so much simpler when I was sober and queer … “
Che couldn’t hide his eyes, so full of focused, thoughtful non-pity and murder there on the wall of Hero’s cell. He looked so young.
“!Viva Cuba Libre, Che!”
Oh, man, where was he? What was gone? The passion in their hearts? Now it was all alone to be chalked up to whatever was good for me, so, “fuck you,” Che, they’d said.
That cadence of Karma came down through Hero’s headphones carried by a man who said, “ … I’m grown – to the maxim – two hemispheres – battling … “
Had it happened that Hero tripped without any new chemicals being ingested? His mindbody swaying for days, the wisps of electronica lights everyone else called “tracers” started to take their places with flashes and exclamations lightning white, “my eye,” Hero said in his head because he’d felt one of them in his eyeball, lower right. The squiggles did their eternal dance in every shadow, he hadn’t even taken exception to them. He’d told a shrink about them once and got 300mg. of thorazine everyday for three months for his thirteenth birthday.
He never told anyone again. The memory tasted like brown corrugated cardboard inside his mouth. Scream to him on frequency modulated, heterodyned waves, super RF burn “ .. dog will hunt!“ signals and all the hairs on his head stood up just long enough to let the cool night air irrigate his thinning scalp.
“Not too worry,” he reminded himself – he always slept with a wooly cap on in all but the warmest weather. It had begun ten years earlier when he’d woke up one morning and half his face was paralyzed by that evening. He’d had to tape his eyelid closed to go to sleep and looked positively ghoulish when he got stoned. Bells Palsy, and it would come and go for life. Ever since then Hero wore a wooly cap whenever he could and he’d never had the half-face blues again. And he had a great collection of wooly caps from all over the world to boot. He was quite attached to them, too. A friend in Brooklyn was keeping them warm for him until he got out.)
In Attica, he owned two wooly caps, both of them from the commissary. (The governor wasn’t giving them away anymore irregardless of the fact that the temperature there could drop to twenty below zero with the wind chill factor. That wind chill factor was a motherfucker.) These hats were thin and synthetic and green like almost every other fucking thing with the prefix “state” on it.
Hero began staring at a wrapper from a can of Ravioli with cheesy aliens and cheap holographic designs took Hero away again, off to the sky over that portion of the planet for orbit before he was swung out towards the moon, stars and suns exploding in his head with the Universe, together, One. Moot.
For some strange reason, he couldn’t stop thinking about Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Oil Soap, the big family size bottle. Strange to Hero, was anything, name it – a toothpick – a yellow toothpick, an unopened candy bar, a closed pack of cigarettes or a bundle of shirts folded and wrapped in brown paper bound with the thin red and white string from the Chinese Laundry. Hero had a penchant for packages of any kind, so long as they were closed. He didn’t want to open them and didn’t make a fuss if they were, though he liked them better closed.
Hero caught feelings from objects. Their shapes communicated to him in a silent language that was holy, sacred even. It was a given and very much like second nature to him that this should be so. The relationship was similar to that of an artist for still life, only Hero didn’t paint and couldn’t.
“get crazy with the Cheese Whiz … “
This was the alleged nature of the bi-polar, he’d read, of placing undue importance on so called everyday objects and events. But that wasn’t so. Hero knew he could lose his track, but it was this world, this Big phony Lie fronting as civilization – reason – that choked the living shit out of any decent opportunity for return to a continuing, synchronous way of living, of interacting, of interbeing.
“The difference between a schizophrenic and a holy man is that the schizophrenic doesn’t know he’s holy.” Marco Vallis had written somewhere between the coasts flared out on speed, spiritualism and anal sex. Truly a life lived. Hero thought about Marco; familiarly naive and struggling upstream, forever searching for the ebb, flow and click.
“But, man,” Hero said sounding like he meant it, “that ‘click’ is a motherfucker! I mean, why have to differentiate?”
That’s how we’d all lived a long time ago and some of us lived it still, hidden mysterious from the consumers who always had to pick everything apart in selfish investigation evaluation to determine its acceptability for their fucking consumption. Before. Before all of that, before standing armies and the advent of “The Dominator Society” Hero believed that the original questions of supply and demand were created by our paranoid, survival instinct mechanisms perverted and exploited in applied ignorance by the early large scale designers of The Big Lie. Smaller versions existed as they did today beginning with any nuclear family. Any attempt to trace The Lie went so far back that it rippled time lines.
Hero thought it had something to do with ego, self-recognition, “I think all the trouble started when I was about 14.”
“What happened, Web?”
“I developed an ego.”
Web told Hero about his journey, his search for freedom, for the truth to all of this. All of this? Tony listened with Hero and when Web was finished he asked him if he wanted to go to the airport.
“I get money from the passengers waiting to leave. “
“Tell them my luggage was stolen and that I lost my ticket and all my money.”
“Do they give you money?”
“Yeah – only – don’t tell my wife – she thinks I’m working.”
“Oh,” said Hero, a somewhat naive 19 years old.
“That’s how you could go crazy, “ Web told him shortly before he’d died, “if you don’t have anyone to share your truth with – the real truth – not this phony baloney bullshit all these dumb bastards are buying; your knowledge of what we are, what we were, and how we’d lived and thought so differently when we lived with the Earth – instead of on it like some kind of hostile fucking mob of alien insects.”
“Like red ants,” Hero added, anxiously wanting to be recognized for having some brains.
“No. Ants are way smarter than we are .. “
Couldn’t tears flow freely to hasten our return? But the garbage we’d made, “Oh, the garbage. “
Hero sat still and didn’t have an answer for that either. There was just so much of It, that It was so nasty, and It was hard for him to believe that any of It had ever come from the same place he had.
When he was 14 years old he saw a television interview with Charles Manson by that snooty Geraldo Rivera. He’d got scared. Manson made a lot of sense – even his idea to get people to kill each other off to save the planet wasn’t so crazy – so long as you weren’t one of the people getting killed.
When he got a little older Hero learned that Manson had been locked up for almost 30 years and they’d never proven that he’d killed anyone. The actual killers found Jesus in their jail cells, publicly fingered Charlie, and were cut loose after serving about 20 years a piece.
Meanwhile, the Fuhrer of California, Governor Pete Wilson, had decided to so severely restrict Manson’s “correspondence privileges” that he personally ordered all his mail be read going in or out of San Quentin.
The Fuhrer struck Hero as someone in need of a heart. He wanted to torture immigrant Mexicans and their children by denying them access to health care – pretty stupid – even for a Nazi. Hero knew that most of those poor Latinos and Latinas were working at very low paying jobs like picking our fruit and cleaning rich white peoples’ houses while the more enterprising of the lot sold oranges out of stolen shopping carts at the end of L.A. freeway off-ramps. He imagined that eventually a pandemic of some formerly eradicated virus would tear through the Mexicans and hopefully The Fuhrer and his friends would catch it, too.
The Fuhrer believed that everyone should speak the tongue of the Fatherland, English, in California; the state with a Spanish name. None of that bilingual crap for the home of Hollywood. The Fuhrer’s Final Solution to The Mexican Question was modeled, closely, after his careful study of The Grim King’s manifesto: “The Cowboy’s Big Lie” which was later re-released in northeastern markets as “Mr. Bonzo Goes To Washingtoon.”
Hero wanted to keep up with America’s fascists but it was all kind of disheartening as he became more and more desensitized trying to consume – year after year – all of those scumbags who were living well while there were so many poor people like himself not to mention all the poor scumbags, too. He even knew their “apologia” by heart: “You’re just jealous and you know full well that we’re really no different than you – except that you’re so poor. Now that’s not our fault, now is it?” Which sounded, oddly enough, a lot like what that cop told that mark about the $600 he’d lost playing Flukey Ball.
The American Dream was more like a screwed up lottery they should have called The Big American Liary. lt was painfully obvious that many people were being rewarded for all the wrong reasons. The idea that there was “more” of it going on didn’t change the fact that it was wrong.
“Balance? What, Balance? We don’ need no stinking balance!“
Hero had wondered how a particular newscaster he watched was capable of smiling so sincerely night after night without fail? Then, when he found out just how much his favorite anchorman made he realized that the guy had seven million reasons to smile. And that was per year. That’s a whole lot’a smilin’ alright.
“What goes around comes around, Hero.”
“Bullshit! That’s just something losers tell each other to make themselves feel better,” he shot back when he caught himself talking to himself and the mirror of his own thought shattered before his closed eyes. Hero wished he hadn’t caught on so quickly. Quantum Theory of Observation or was that The Heisenberg Principle? It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered.
sound around swirling
of emotion ..
“Hero,” his androgynous self-called to him dragging the “0” like “oh” from within from without, his rotting carcass still quick flesh crawling with life into the mouths of ravenous insects “Corn, grow,” said Hero, standing on the plateau of a great stepped pyramid as he pulled the skeleton of the ocean eel , Anguilla, through his foreskin.
“Anguilla!” he cried out ..
“Rostrata!” the reply and sweat rolled down his temples while he spoke with the dead.
He saw a place, a sea, and a word. One word: “Sargasso,” and there was no more.
Sitting up, Hero rolled a cigarette and tried not to think about any of it. The words “Seven Macaw” echoed inside his head. They didn’t mean anything to him, yet he sensed serious danger the way he did when a man had once attacked him with a sharp heavy weapon trying to kill him. All his frivolous thoughts – formerly taken for granted – were surgically cut out – fast. Seven Macaw was close to him, like a brother, no, a half-brother stronger than Hero and Hero was king.
Playing ball in the underworld, depicted in stone and later
on paintings that moved with his brother who carried a short ironwood club carved with numerous gods and decorated with beads and feathers. Skull beads hung loosely, staggered on a long thong at the bottom of the handle and clack-clacked sharply when Seven Macaw swung the club high over his shoulder to smash his brother’s skull in deep. His body dropped on folded legs until he lay on his face in the dirt and the ball rolled into his blood. An odd shaped corpse, thought Seven Macaw and dropped the club and two knives he’d also brought with him. The Earth drank his brother’s blood and found the taste bitter, tainted by his treacherous jealousy, and she yielded no corn, or beans, or grains, or even the grasses used for the mortar and bricks. Not that season – or even the next – when Seven Macaw was drowned in the River by a great green snake with sparkling yellow eyes.
All this was locked away, hidden deep inside Hero, someplace, and all that he’d brought back were the words “Seven Macaw” and the strong impression of inevitable, serious, deadly violence. The words themselves didn’t mean anything to him – but that was what he’d brought back this time. When he’d eaten ibogaine, Hero returned repeating the word “Pesach.” A few years later, while reading a Lubitcher tract about Passover, he saw the word “Pesach” and it s English translation: it was Hebrew for “offering.”
Loneliness empty and soul-less, or was it senseless? Hero decided to put it all together in his invisible mojo like Felix The Cat or some junkie Houdini idiot-savant. Houdini thought he knew why all the old Chinamen were so mellow until one of them leaned over and said to him in Yiddish,
“Gee, that’s funny – you don’t look Jewish!” and the entire three front pews of the synagogue rocked and howled with knee slapping laughter. A couple of the old men even cried, it was very, very moving. Hero thought that he would have laughed, too, if he’d had some of that shit those Old Chinese Yids had been smoking. They gave a whole new meaning to the expression: “Chasing the Dragon.”
“Two bowls every afternoon,” said The Burning Bush, and Moses began to cry over the sins of Charlton Heston, “the children ache, their bellies hollow, how can he not hear them in the Choking City below? Surely, his footstool is not made of his enemies, the little brown ones tortured to face the forces of circumstance, stuck like bloodied pigs by men.”
“No, this is not a circle,” said Hero, floating in the smog high above the Freeway.
“This is not life, but so long, and that is time to do over again until we peace,” but the words didn’t make any sense and Moses broke-out. All Hero could see were the suffering fast. The steps of the dancers up and down again against the Earth.” She is sentient and you may cry to her, but she is as indifferent as you, too, should be. Abandoned meek without malice. Stalk yourself, Hero. Have no pity but without hatred.
Glide between them all to your chosen destinations of solitude where you may find them.
Hero saw himself from behind stepping through the courtroom door and into the Manhattan Supreme Court bullpens just as he’d promised his overpaid lawyer, and the judge, two months earlier during his plea bargain agreement. His journey began again. Sometimes, he saw all of it like a long digestive system – primarily the lowest intestine – and they were all foreign microbes and viruses, these prisoners like himself.
Relatively tiny, by comparison, yet very dangerous to the system they’d infected and sickened, and even more so to each other. As in Jack Henry Abbott’s, “In The Belly Of The Beast” although lately, Hero believed that he’d been getting closer to the beast’s asshole and with any luck he’d be shit out soon. For now, he needed sleep and modeled an image in his mind of himself asleep.