On the Wall
An inch-thick layer of dust carpeted John’s apartment. He liked that. The one-room stank of sweat and urine, and the smell of rotting food wafted from the mountain of unwashed pots and pans jutting from the sink. In short, it smelled like home. In the corner of the room, a bed sagged under crusting sheets, bathing in dust. The only remotely clean object in the room was the typewriter, which sat on an otherwise bare table in the middle of the room. In front of it, filling the apartment with typenoise, sat John.
He loved his typewriter. The smell of the ink; the clicking, mechanical rhythm; the font set: it was perfect. As he typed furiously, John resembled a concert pianist—stoic and confident, fiery yet controlled. His mind would live forever on the thousands of pages he had churned from the platen. Word after word flooded onto the page. Trope after trope flared out of each sentence, igniting the page with life and exciting every human notion of aesthetics. John smiled. He hadn’t lost it. Even in his age—his maturity—he could still shake the earth.
Forty years ago, when he was still young, John had been clearer and sharper than ever, and he’d only improved. I am ****ing immortal; he smirked as he finished typing.
Settling in the silence, the room listened patiently for what was coming. John, knowing the value of hearing one’s words aloud, picked up the page and began to read.
“You pick up some modeling clay on the way home from work because you want to play God. You feel it in your left hand as you drive. You love the malleability. Extricate the meaningless moments from your day and you’re left with a soft, grey chunk shapeshifting in your palm.”
John picked up a cloth sitting next to his typewriter and cleaned off his glasses with it. He glanced back at the typewriter, at the soft, graying keys, and then continued reading.
“You look out your window at the next stoplight and watch a pair of women power walking by. You want to **** them. They remind you of all the women you’ve wanted to **** but never have. The ones you have ****ed, too, came to mind. Stupid semen-receptacle ****s. Green means go. You squeeze the clay again as you press down on the accelerator. Enginesounds are nice.”
The phone rang. Again. John looked up from his reading. Silent. Again. He walked over to the phone and reached out his hand. Right above it. Again. His hand wavered there over the phone. He waited. Again. Could it be?
Silence. There was a breath on the other end, and then a sharp click as the line was disconnected.
“As you drive by, the smokestacks in the old industrial park belch smoke at clouds overhead. You put the clay down in the passenger seat and take a cigarette from the pack in your breast pocket. You take a drag.”
A knock at the door broke John’s concentration. Not the landlord…I just paid yesterday. How did they get this address? John fumbled through his pockets for a cigarette. Another pound on the door echoed through the filthy room. As John cautiously approached the peephole, he wondered who it could be. Who would come here? Who could ever get inside? Another knock.
—Who is it?
—Hold on, I’m coming.
John peered through the peephole. Nothing. ****.
“You wish you could just drive forever, but your hands are brittle and their grip on the wheel tentative. You want to shout, but what’s the point? You suck on that cigarette again and tap ashes out the window. You can’t wait for the next Harry Potter. You’re astounded by Rowling’s command of the language. What a gift! She’s like Faulkner, but good. The story’s not that great, and the characters are completely ridiculous, but the absolute control over every sentence!”
A scowl crossed John’s face. He walked over to the lone window of his apartment, peered through its grimy, closed blinds for a moment, then turned away and spat. Disgusting.
“Suck on your cigarette, you’re addicted to death and you love it. Tar fills your lungs and sticks to the walls like only tar can. You’re on your way home to watch ‘Friends’ and then CNN’s having some eleven o’clock news special because there’s an item in your kitchen that might kill you, so you can’t miss that. You wonder what the hell it could be… You suck another drag out of your tar tube and think about your evening. Some TV, maybe go out to a movie with your friends. It’s a weekend, after all.
“You pick up the new Oprah Magazine because she’s such a strong person. You admire that. She should be a role model to more people. Cigarette draw. You ceaselessly suck on the smoky tit of daytime television.
“You pull into your driveway at 5:30 and toss your keys onto the kitchen table upon entering the house. You collapse onto the couch and flick on the TV to watch the episode of ‘Mind of Mencia’ you recorded on your Tivo yesterday. Carlos Mencia is just so edgy. He’s not afraid to work with dangerously offensive material, and that impresses you. Brass balls: Mencia’s equipped with them. He never plays it safe; he lays it all out there on the line. God, what a great comedian. Talented, too, and original.”
John sneered as he wondered if anything was worth watching nowadays. Celina used to watch that God-awful show, when she was in high school. He hadn’t heard from her since she left the house. John had insisted that she go on to college, but she was in love. What a dumb ****. Celina’s boyfriend had an IQ somewhere around room temperature and a ****ty band that raked in about two hundred dollars a year. Lucrative.
She ran off with Dumbass McGee three days after she’d graduated high school. Un-****ing-believable. Screamed my ****ing head off trying to get through to her. It was best for her. ****ing BEST for her, it’s un-****ing-deniable! Almost lost my voice trying to show her reason. That’s what I get for selflessness. Some thanks. Ran off and cut all ties. What a ****ing whore. I knew how she should behave. I knew the way things should be, but would she listen? No, of course not, her father didn’t know a God damn thing.
John glanced at the clock. How long had he been… Too long. Back to work.
“You love magic shows, and movies with special effects, and 3-D roller coaster simulators because you obsess over being lied to. Who doesn’t love to be deceived? You spend exorbitant amounts of money to be tricked, and so does every one else. You even trick yourself into thinking you actually enjoy it, but you don’t enjoy it. The truth is you’re afraid of the truth. You find yourself looking up at the horrible and terrifying face of fact and shivering with fear as it sneers at you. I know what is real. I do not fear the truth. You cower in the shadow of reality, along with all your kind—lesser men—never recognizing your betters.
“So you sit on that couch, waiting for your friends to come by. But you’ll still be alone. You’ll still be sitting in a vacant room with dozens of vacant people talking about vacant things. You banal mother ****er. You trite piece of ****. You pusillanimous ****. You ungodly derivative hybrid of idiotic, spineless douchebaggery. Existential meaninglessness is part of your hippopotapotamus illegality with deleterious effects and un-exculpable nature of parochiochiochial socioergonomics ergo sic semper tyrannus ephemerality of the patriarch eliminiminiminate the middle man shopping at the factory outlet. Give a toast to the lady in the little red shoes… The little ****-rag whore with low self-esteem and an inability to listen. Good that she’s gone.”
As he finished reading, there was another knock on the door. John’s head snapped up. He waited to see what would happen next. Knock. John leapt from his seat, running towards the door. Don’t go away this time. Please, oh Jesus Christ, please wait. Four steps away.
—I’m coming! Don’t go anywhere!
One step away. John’s heart hammered in his chest.
Doorfling. Empty hallway.
Shutting the door behind him, John shuffled back to his chair. He sat in front of his typewriter and stared ahead.
Suddenly, John flung out his right hand and struck his typewriter hard on the left side, knocking it onto the floor; the floorboards cracked under the weight. He glared at the machine as it lay there motionless. For some reason, he wanted to throw it through the window. Crash! Down to the sidewalk. Shards of glass raining on the street below as the typewriter exploded on the pavement, ink and keys jettisoning from the main body. A little defenestration goes a long way.
Still fantasizing, John gently picked up his typewriter and looked it over. No major damage done, just some superficial scratching. Carefully, he placed it back on the table where it belonged, and sighed. This was the way it should be. God knows he knew that. If only she’d listened. Belshazzar at home, he looked at the bare wall to his right, wondering if maybe it wasn’t so bare after all. No. It was.
I want the bomb
I want the P-funk!
My band is better than yours...
I want the P-funk!
My band is better than yours...