(I am seated at my computer,
facing it, facing you. Behind me, behind the clutter of electronic gear with
its cables and blinking lights and the shipping boxes it came in, there is an
overhead screen, which you are to assume is my monitor. On which I tap out
everything youíre about to read, as it appears in real time, letter by letter,
word by word, the way someone would send to you on ICQ, with all the
accompanying mistakes and backtracks and erasures and leaps here and there,
performing some corrections, leaving off others when the ďactionĒ seems to
accelerate or grow more heated. In addition to the main screen, up center,
there are two others, right and left of it, on which you can see downloads of
various news clips, regional maps, pieces of interviews, disaster footage of
floods, hurricanes, etc., interspersed with pics of naked teenage and
prepubescent girls, bondage and other kinky stuff,† drawn from newsgroups and porno sites.)
ME:††† This morning, we made our umpteenth air
strike on Iraq, hitting communications sites near Baghdad. Three dead, Baghdad
says. The pentagon isnít saying anything, but they arenít smiling either, so
that means either a lot more dead, or something worse. Dead like us, perhaps.
Dead like the clouds of stuff weíve already released over Saddamís desperate
So, Iím waking up to this
burble of maps and commentators on the noon news. And last night it was the
raccoons again, the fucking raccoons they never give up. Somehow, donít ask, a
pair of them tore the fascia loose at the rear of the house and then hung
upside down while they chewed through the half-inch plywood soffit beneath,
until they had a hole about two feet long and ten inches wide, like someone had
fired a rocket through the thing, vinyl flopping and plywood splinters sticking
out and the great darkness of the attic beyond.
And this does not even
address the wind and the rain, which, in tandem, ripped loose some shingles in
a ten foot area of the roof, letting the water spill into the attic, and soak
through the insulation which held it until the mass became so heavy that the
whole damned up mess broke through the sheet rock and came spilling down onto
my bed, soaking the bookcase nearby, the hardwood floor, and leaving another
huge hole in the house, this one opening up to the attic void from within.
So here I am, raccoons
invading from the west, winds and rain from the vaults of heaven. And to this I
have to add fucking Saddam again, and his hordes, and the goddamn fucking
pentagon, and its fucking aircraft hitting everything that moves or beeps or
tries to lock on.
And thatís not all. Consider
this: consider the Japanese fishing boat sunk by our nuclear sub as it
surfaced. And somebodyís telling me that we hit Saddam to shift focus from the
fishing boat because those civilians at the controls were wealthy hotshot
contributors from Texas.
And who knows? Maybe itís
true. Clinton used everything at his command every lever he could pull every
button on the console to hide some blowjobs that were already fading into the
past, like her name, her name he could never remember. Sweetheart, he would
say. So sweet.†
Iím not turning on the
speakers yet because I want you to see my thoughts as they happen; want you to
wrestle through this with me, okay? And no cameras yet, no distractions. But
please, please understand, this is part of getting there, this is part of being
together.†† This is how we will cum
today . . .gradually, okay?
So, what were we, oh yes,
hereís more. The old German shepherd, Lady, needs her nails clipped again. Itís
so bad she can hardly get up and down on the linoleum floor, the way the nails
skid out from under her, and it isnít that she minds my cutting them. Itís . .
. itís oh fuck itís finding enough time to get one single thing done before
another one rears up to giggle at you like some fucking inmate escaped from the
deep darkness of the fucking asylum.
So okay. So letís get
organized here. Weíll, weíll make notes.
But the oldest cat, dear old
Spunky, has pissed on the writing pad, my favorite pad, by the way, one of
those old fashioned blue books we used to use for tests back in college. I
loved it then, everything so new and wonderful. College was like being Miranda
discovering the world.
And then, then we discovered
the world. It was not brave. It was not new. It was the same old shit theyíve
all had to put up with. Only, this time, right now, itís worse.† You there?†
(On the left screen, a
womanís image appears, obviously taken with a digital camera. She too is
stationed before her TV. A paraplegic. One hand missing at the wrist. She
begins removing her clothes slowly, with some difficulty, but with not much
attempt to appear sensual, at least not yet: theyíve done this, one supposes,
on more than one occasion in the past.)
I hope youíll forgive me for
this rant. I know Iím taking up valuable time. I know youíre there my darling.
Just bear with me a bit this morning. Iím . . . I donít know what I am just
now. Iím feeling. Alone. Thatís all. Canít explain that. Lonely, okay?† Just need to talk before we. Before.
And then, sometime before
supper, I have to go visit my sister-in-law at the nursing home. Sheís in the
final stages of early-onset Alzheimerís, which has reduced her to a childish
babbling and weeping and begging to see her sister again, her sister who is
usually seated right there beside her when sheís asking for her. This sister
now is not her sister, her sister dwells in memory only.†
So thereís that.
And the goddamn Corsica
needs brakes, especially the front discs, which are digging into the rotors and
screeching like banshees.†
Sometimes. Sometimes I think
So okay, I tried to cut
Ladyís nails. Did okay on two of them then cut into the quick and drew blood on
two more, and that did it, fuck it, she didnít cry or anything, didnít even
seem to notice, but I had to use my styptic pencil, the only styptic pencil I
had. Oh, forget that. Forget I said that, okay? Look, itís not that styptic
pencils are important per se. Itís . . . itís . . . fuck it. Donít ask.
So here we are, Lady and me,
sitting on the floor and she has her paw out like some fancy dog at a
dog-a-cure parlor, not minding a bit, and actually feeling kind of superior,
kind of, with the other dogs standing around sniffing at the cut off nails
falling around them like dead bees.†
See, Lady is not the only
one to consider here. There are eight others. Their names. You donít wanna know
their names. Who cares? Just one big happy family, you get the picture, two
Pomeranians, a miniature Pinscher, couple other mixed breeds, a Chihuahua, a
Cockapoo, which is not a breed, but a lot of owners want it to become one, and
what else? I forget. If it comes to me in the next little while, Iíll try to
get it down.†
So, weíre all sitting here,
and Ladyís blood is all over my styptic pencil, and sheís licking blood from
her nails too, lapping it up like sweet cream.†
Another one is a poodle,
name of Stanley. Named after this movie producer I once worked for who fired me
one Easter when I said I couldnít work I had to move my family to Burbank.††
Rex is the small
Pomeranian.† And the noisier of the two.
Other one is blind.† Think maybe a cat
took out his corneas one at a time on two different occasions.†
So my wife called Stanley up
and said you cock-sucking heartless Jew bastard the entire world is not made of
money and you can go fuck yourself.†
The blind one is named
Coco.† Never bothers anybody. Except
maybe the minute you get sit down for supper he decides itís time for you to
take him up in your arms and carry him out for a shit and a look at the sunset,
which to Coco is just a glorious big ball of light that shimmers all around him
like the northern lights over the St. Lawrence.
So Stanley fired me, and
then our son was killed in an auto/train collision and then nothing meant
anything anyway for the longest time.†
(Switching to mike. My image
appears on the other right screen. The middle screen is empty except for
cursor. Beginning to remove my clothes:
ME:††† Hi, baby.
YOU:††† you ever get scared for no reason at all
but youíre too scared to even think about what it might be that was causing it?
YOU:††† Me too.†
(We sit there, naked and
silent and alone. The moment extends. And holds some more. And then the scene
goes to black.)