Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Anus of Evil

James Nowlan

I could never be like other people. The shadow of my father’s work, whatever it had actually been or not been, floated beside me like a ghost keeping me from ever sharing in the normal activities of others. Whether I was with a group of friends or alone with a girl I could feel its terrible wraithly presence contemplating me, correcting the syntax of my sentences and changing their punctuation. College was even worse. The severe gaze of the professors trying to pierce my distraction while occasionally glancing towards a point above my head where they almost perceived their pupils tormentor. Of course they didn’t know of my dad because hardly anyone did as he’d been seldom published and almost never read. His short-lived fame was due to the unusual circumstances of the "accident" that took his life.
I usually told the other children that my father was infirm and so spent all his day in bed. I some how sensed that the truth was much more shameful. My fathers "work" was said in such a way that one could tell it wasn’t work in the sense that most people understood it and what he actually seemed to do, filling waste baskets with torn up pieces of papers and the mail box with letters with well printed impressive sounding addresses that were torn open anxiously by my father to feed his dismay like some strange drug was much more obscure and arcane than the activities of the other kids parents. And unlike the professional pursuits of other parents it became that much more inscrutable as adolescence approached. Where before all that came from his office, actually a converted walk in closet, were the sound of his typewriter punctuated by occasional curses accompanied by the static of the paper being torn from the carriage to be crumpled and thrown into a trash can now an endless tirade of low murmuring. "They should have" followed by something inaudible then a peck at a few keys "they didn’t need to" the carriage being thrown abruptly back "I’m going to have to" more pecks. Longer and longer silences began to set off these intervals, silences that became more and more filled with cryptic dread.
Why he chose the office of the publishing company that he did to perform his act was never known because he didn’t leave any note. A "literary" magazine that had been one of the few publications to actually print something by him had been recently acquired by the firm that had started with college text books (a sure thing captive audience and you can impose a certain taste that will influence their later life purchasing patterns) and was branching out into everything. Where he had gotten the explosives to commit it, indications of links to extremist groups had been hinted at, or how the explosives had been introduced into his body cavities, some expert witnesses had sworn that it must have been ingested others theorized introduction through the rectum or even some form of surgery. Regardless, the effect of the explosion had been to not only instantly kill my father and mortally wound the security guard at the reception desk but to shred the collected manuscripts that my father had been pecking at over the last twenty years. The man having attached the thousand odd pages to his torso by dissimulating them under his clothes a bit like a bum might do with newspapers before bedding down on a park bench on a winter’s evening.
Anyway, the blast projected bodily tissues and paper in all directions the former serving as a sort of glue or tacks to stick the latter to the sandalwood walls and ceiling that had recently been installed. The whole lobby was closed off after the event and the personnel passed through a service entrance on another street. The images recorded by police and journalists made there way around the world and before the lobby was reopened to the public the agent of a well known German conceptual artist called the office of the multi-national that the literary journal was a part of with a strange offer.
The lobby was transported around the world and millions of people passed through it in a dozen different museums of modern art. A phrase like, "she wasn’t feeling very well but she hid it very well indeed", swimming amidst a sweaty summer public swimming pool of like phrases would be a very sad page but all by itself nailed to a wall by a splinter of bone from its author it became filled with all the cryptic possibilities of the empty pool in late fall with a few leaves in a puddle in the deep end and for awhile my father was seen as some sort of deranged genius.
After a short spell in an over priced university I came to the conclusion that it certainly wasn’t leading to anything; most of the other students had gone to exclusive boarding schools and so were already well connected to the world that I would more or less be permanently excluded from. Going back to New York I tried to exploit what little notoriety was left from my fathers spectacular end to become some sort of transgressive literary star. Unfortunately punk was pretty much dead and there wasn’t much hope for me until I was anonymously contacted by some one claiming to represent an important group that was at the moment the center of attention.
My personal style was so in conflict with theirs that when they made me an offer of collaboration I imagined some sort of set up. To quiet my suspicions and convince me of the seriousness of their offer they even suggested a meeting between me and the person who, though he tried to present himself as just another casual collaborator in a collective effort, was actually their leader. We were to meet at "Spatzes" a delicatessen whose fading authenticity had made trendy.
I didn’t think I would ever see the great man himself and when I did there in those humble surroundings with a platter of fairly greasy corned beef and fries I almost dumped it into his lap but his reassuring smile buoyed me up until I had sat down and the odor of my food wafted up to his sensitive vegetarian nostrils. The food proved to be an effective negotiation device for to escape the site of it, Dale Beggars (yes it was really he) quickly transmitted the hushed instructions for my mission and emphatically promised that my dreams of literary fame and fortune would be fulfilled upon its completion.
A few days later I was on the train for Pittsburgh to meet with the group who had become the sworn enemies of the Beggar’s band a group of literary misfits commonly known as "The Haters". They had fixed a rendezvous in a strip tease joint that found it self in a zone that had been washed over several times in the last decades by the ebbing and flowing tides of decay and gentrification and looked worn down by the current. I entered the dimly lit establishment that seemed empty except for an almost naked female swaying unseductively upon the stage. She looked to be in the terminal stage of serious crystal meth addiction, the formaldehyde derived substance claiming its own was witnessed in her cadaverous appearance. As my vision adjusted to the strange pastel-lit interior I noticed a group of shadowy figures in a corner booth crouched around a beer pitcher reflecting the multicolored spotlights. I stumbled across a floor strewn with broken bits of furniture and glass and they seemed to straighten up in anticipation of my coming. It was only when I was seated that their features became recognizable in the varying hued illumination playing off the glass pitcher from which they poured me out a pint by way of welcome. I hesitated to drink it fearing any beverage served in such a place but wanting to be accepted I took a swig; it was actually quite good.
I don’t quite remember what was said that night but the hospital emergency admittance noted something about me getting up on stage with the emaciated dancer to strip with her and then falling off the stage onto some broken glass and needing fifty or so stitches. I thought that I’d failed my mission and missed my chance at greatness until a chirpy message on my answering machine from Dale Beggars advised me otherwise. He was apparently quite content with my "infiltration" and was eager to give me my reward. An appointment was made for the next day at Spatzes.
This time he didn’t even wait for me to set my offending tray of food before him but stood up regally and pointed an imperious finger towards the toilet, which upon entering I found to be much more spacious and cleanly than I had imagined. Dale opened the door of a stall and indicated that I should occupy the adjoining one with a nod of his head. I had just slid the bolt shut when his penis appeared through a glory hole.
"What the fuck, I stuttered?"
"Suck me.." insinuated Dale.
"You wanted greatness well here it is; swallow my semen and be owned by my muse…"
Mechanically I got down on my knees and went to work. I’d always thought that something like that, sucking cock for the first time would be some great transition Like now I’ve changed and can never go back, something as big or maybe even bigger than killing someone but actually it was completely banal and made me think that when the time in my life came, if it ever did, that I should have the occasion to do away with a fellow human I could do it with total nonchalance, thinking yes I could right now be taking your penis in my mouth and swallowing your sperm but as chance might have it I’m thrusting a knife into your chest or pumping a bullet into your head and you should accept and acquiesce as I have acquiesced in the past…..
Later in the subway I stared at myself in the mirror watching for change to come over me. I knew that right then another passenger was doubtlessly gazing at me looking at my reflection having this introspective moment and thinking there is someone gazing at their reflection in the window of the subway train against the darkened background of the tunnel rushing by while it is occasionally obscured by the well lit platforms that interpose themselves upon his image. Platforms upon which amongst the crowd of passengers at least one was thinking there must be someone on that train looking in the window while having an introspective moment. The tongue amongst the taste buds of which some of the greatest voice of my generation’s spermatoza were wriggling their last began vibrating with a strange urgency that I knew must be sentences of dazzling eloquence and I stood up on the swaying floor of the subway to release them in a flood of incoherence.
They let me out of Bellevue after a seventy two-hour hold. They didn’t offer me any explanations and I didn’t ask for any. Back in my decrepit apartment I called "the Dale" several times with out any response. When I finally threatened to expose his involvement in my "infiltration" of "The Haters" he told me to go to the same stall of Spatzes’ toilet in order to avoid us being seen together. After waiting for what seemed like several hours I heard the door of the stall next to me open and close and I sense it must be him. I was about to get down on my knees before the glory hole when he told me, "no time for that, I’m leaving you something that should work out better for you, wait until I’m gone then come and get it."
After a painful pause the door hastily opened and shut and I went over to see a note taped to the back wall of the stall "eat me" with an arrow pointing downwards. It floated there forlornly; a sad reminder of human mortality and not at all smelling of literary genius. Surrounded by the piss-flavored waters of the enamel bowl it might be a minimalist delicacy of a cuisine still too exotic to be appreciated.
The revulsion of the act of eating it hit me like a bad drug and I staggered home stopping only to buy a six-bottle crate of vodka and a supply of porno DVDs at a new concept boutique liquor store/sexshop that had opened in the neighborhood. The next week or so passed in a blur of alcohol and hardcore sex but I woke up at the end of it with the manuscript that I felt sure would be my guarantee of glory.
When I emailed it to him he sent me back a mocking response. When I called threatening to expose him he laughed egging me on saying that he could use the publicity. I then decided upon a path of vengeance that would not only punish Dale and his band of Beggars but also award myself and my father’s memory with some long overdue recognition.
I bought a laptop and a camera and then salesman helpfully demonstrated how to set up a pod cast. The counterman at Spatzes carefully wrapped two dozen frankfurters for me as if he knew they were going to be used for something special. Flying to a gun show in Reno I was able to complete my equipment and was soon across the state line into California breaking several federal laws and singing along to Frank Sinatra and ranting with radio-evangelists, rolling towards San Francisco and destiny.
The sleepy eyed posers in the "beggars’ bunkhouse" an ex south of market S&M bar that had been converted into a pretentious literary venue looked up with a start when I barged in the door with my camera, guns, all beef frankfurters and laptop at the ready. They thought it was simply "a performance" but when I fired several rounds over their heads they quickly lined up against the wall as I ordered. "But how many had swallowed his sperm or eaten his feces? Or swallowed the sperm or eaten the feces of someone who had swallowed his sperm or eaten his feces……" I wondered. Anyway I waved the nerdiest looking one over with my .25 and then held it against his neck while he set up the camera and the laptop meanwhile holding the rest at bay with my 9mm. When it was ready I ordered them all to get strip naked and had the nerdy one carry the sack with the beef frankfurters and my manuscript to a table standing before them. One by one I then ordered the females to bend over the table while from behind the males (I call them such because they had become for me like another species for which I felt as little affinity as I might for sheep or cattle) stroked out a passionate reading of my work.
The nerd held camera broadcast this event to the world. I felt a certain pride knowing that millions would now know my words.
"When he first arrived in this distant age he imagined that he had stumbled at last into utopia. Every chance encounter with a female seemed to be an instant pretext for rapidly consummated intercourse. But then he noticed the cameras and a series of short notes slipped discretely into his hand during the trysts revealed the truth; they were all just the toys of some perverse artificial intelligence."
"Life’s a party but not all of us are invited, or more exactly we’re invited but not welcome or let’s say some are maybe more welcome than others but sadly the host neglects to include this information in the invitation so that we could dress more appropriately."
"At the same time that the sensation of her stroking his testicles was making him harder speculation upon the significance that testicle stroking held for her as, "the testicle stroker", was tending to make him soft."
"When the American empire finished its robotised army in time to secure its domination of the world. Unfortunately the contract for maintaining this army was subcontracted to the lowest bidder who further subcontracted security to a firm whose employees spent their shift watching porno films on the computer. The immense central control became "aware" by bias of these images and sent out its robotic minions to transform the world into one immense theater to satisfy its strange desires."
When all the females had passed their turn the cowed and naked group looked hopefully towards me for some indication that their ordeal might be at its end but then I indicated the unread half of my work and made them know that it was now the turn of the males to recite my lines of genius. Which they did with the females all beef almost kosher encouragement.
"The first time I saw one who had not performed satisfactorily hung up for punishment, mercilessly tortured with electric shocks I shivered in horror but I soon learned to pay no attention."
"The festival began with the massive consumption of raw alcohol and ended with the "fucked out" having been doused with the same liquid and set afire squirming and screaming as they were immolated alive."
"But before the flames had completely consumed me I saw opening before me a passage like that that had brought me to this cursed époque."
"And so it was that one brave traveler through time had prevented this most monstrous of futures and made known to us to manner in which the blessing of alcohol might preserve us from the horror of sexual intercourse. And now at a certain age all of us that have the misfortune to belong to this thing that might be called humanity are anointed with the substance and illuminated that all that that might provoke desire be burned away."
Now having passed their turn the males looked even more shamed than females had while a few of the females appeared to have some how restored their dignity in the process. But what would I do next? Seizing the bowl of sausages and taking a small jar of mustard out of my pocket I rapidly swallowed them and when they were all on the way down my esophagus put the barrel to my head showering the SWAT team rushing in with my brains. And in Williamsburg thousands of recent MFA grads seized with a unbearably agonizing self-consciousness rushed to the Brooklyn bridge to leap into the East river and obliterate it, as Samizdat seminar students in Prague threw themselves under the wheels of the nearest street car and many others elsewhere hit by the terrible wave of introspection that my death provoked sought appropriately dramatic ends to their failed literary ambitions.
And now I see them often here in this place which though not resembling any description of hell I had ever come across certainly isn’t heaven and they give me a tragic look to try to stir some guilt feelings but I just smile. Actually the worst thing about being dead is that it isn’t really all that bad, which is perhaps the worst thing about life as well.

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