19: How To Disappear Completely

Kadrey was blind for an entire day. Blind is perhaps not the correct term but in my personal vocabulary and , I believe, the entirety of the English language it is the closest approximation one will find of his 24 hour affliction. The peculiar mechanism that transforms light into the multitudes of the world was corrupted and shapes, colors and depth were lost to the poor man. For an entire rotation of this Earth, Kadrey was not immersed into the inky blackness customarily caused by the absence of light but was trapped in the words of Paul Auster. It is not that this building or that hydrant were beyond his perception but rather that they were replaced by a descriptive paragraph in the style of his prose. Kadrey was quite certain that it was Auster.

After the crisis had passed and Kadrey was once more able to slowly move his gaze through the subtle shifts in the blue of a summer sky, he rather surprised me. "I could have lived with it," he told me, "if I had a good variety available to me. If this car were described by Chandler or this lamp post by Bukowski, I maybe could have lived with it. I could have enjoyed being immersed in words."


20: What a Shame about Me

The heavy silver ball rolls up his spine
Picking up speed and mean
The gray loosens up
Ready to embrace the coming destruction

The end is blind
Skin gets the final solo

The silver ball makes no decision
It shakes a memory loose
It took a week to heal
And is propelled through the gray
Until it hits another cluster
The cold gritty wall at his back
Hot breath rushing out his nose
Waiting for Carl to give up

It's getting darker in his own head
And all sound is collapsing into pink

Standing in a stream
Water is not
One thing
But many snakes
Each with a slightly different coldness
The silver ball is the same
All over and to the core

There is a clear separation
Between the pole pushing up against his leg
And the leg giving up
What was a closed circuit is open
To the whole world
And the world to it
Communicating through pain

The silver ball
Does not loose speed
After a collision
Fifteen thousand pounds
Fifty four miles an hour
Feet off the ground


21: Pyramid Song

Of Course
But so do Things
And also Places

On and off the highway a dozen times tonight looking for a bit of real estate from my 5 foot and below days. Evan is remarkably patient. Is this a real memory? Running with some cousins in the woods? i don't really remember their names. i know the occasional flu had me laying in the living room, nursed by Mom and TBS. Swiss Family Robinson. Little House on the Prairie. Didn't one of the Ingalls sisters loose her sight after some illness? Was fever involved? Glad i never lost nothing. Nothing that big. Jasper! The big dumb one was called Jasper. Jasper and then my last name. That's him. Dumb son of a bitch but funny. Funny goes a long way. Bet he's married now. Paunchy with a litter of dumb kids all his own. Living like an adult. Jasper.

Time done ate it up to shreds but the old cabin still squares with Kadrey's description. Lucky bastard, it's like something out of a Paulsen book out here. I should holler, but I'm in no hurry to have him see the place. I imagine of a bunch of kids inside, their life force tied to the cabin, rotting away at the same pace. Moss and crawlers coming out their mouths and ears. Tiny bugs making songs in their hollow bellies. I'm going to be sick. I need a cigarette. I holler out his name.

The cabin was a mess of flames. The men left the woods.


23: Black Cow

fucking nosebleed every fucking time in the parking lots no exception to all this abject retardity just once one fucking time it would be nice a straight line through a parking lot at peak hours a simple understanding of civility it wouldn't kill you how do the old fucks do it without a stroke and a change of diapers every fucking time was that fun asshole was that your idea of entertainment can't afford cable never learned to make a fist and shake your wrist asshole cumsmear i swear i understand the nra your taurus vs me and smith and wesson how would you feel whose idea was it to arm this entire country with 2 ton bullets just once respect the idea of a motherfucker trying to get to point b keep your fucking paw on the right pedal look think a little reminder that we built pyramids and invented cake and holland all out of dirt and twigs what do you do for a living what do you do with your fucking brain all day you're allowed access all day just once across the lot fucking nosebleed this was a nice shirt


24: The Bends

The man owed them money
and he had money
too much of it probably
he was used to petty childish pleasures
Twinkies before dinner

"I'm not convinced he'll have it, Evan."
"1200 dollars? Not on him. Not likely. Don't get me wrong, we're not leaving town empty-handed, but you better let go of that figure."
"You make it sound like business; this is revenge."
"Revenge is for fucking Cro-magnon. This is not that."
"This feels like that."
"Kadrey, when I play by the rules, I adhere fully. He stiffed us and this is what follows. If so then."
"If so what. Why don't we drop it? We need milk money that bad?"
"The precedent: We give this guy the idea that you can treat labor a certain way then we are partly responsible for every moe he rips off from now till kingdom come."
"That's very Hammer and Sickle of you."
"Kadrey, that's a great idea. You wait here, I'll get hammers."

In the hours we stood there in the narrow shadow of the corridor, the rain teased us several times. Never enough to get wet, but we were moist the whole time; in combination with an unrelenting wind this kept me cold and lucid for every second of it. I counted the windows that offered up some view of the little scene we had planned. I noticed the ridiculous absence of the police force except for a magnanimous meter maid at sunset. I compared, several dozen times, how many seconds it would take our man to get from car to door and how many it would take us to rush from shadow to door and statistically we failed. I checked on that fat nut of fear suspended in my chest. I was not afraid of what Evan was about to do, I had seen him do it several times. You get used to anything. I felt miscast, quite frankly, for this little slice of noir, and something about being made of the wrong stuff, standing on some other man's mark, must have been the source of my fear. I say this because in the deep of my pocket was a pez dispenser as ontologically misplaced as I was in this never ending moment, and the fat nut was obscured every time I slipped a pez out of Deputy Dog's face.


25: I'm a Wheel

There is a volatile alchemy of blood and words.
Whispers from a stranger engorge capillaries.
Consequences wait offstage.

26: Night by Night

On the way down
The body is the instrument
Fell by drink, fatigue, or violence
That describes an arc
A shift in perspective
With point of view doggedly intact
A paradox for moron
A short trip with a Keystone punchline

On the way out
There is usually a quiz
A pretty pointless one word query
With answers that devolve into explanations
Then strengthen into stories
Anecdotes illustrated by scar tissue
Bunched up beneath epidermis
Discreet but fully present

On the way up
There is nothing
A blank page
An empty glass
A clearing of the throat
A kind word toward your mother
To set up the night's entertainment


27: Knives Out

The world out the windows is flat and black. The road offers up a long series of soft, small curves, like a string of honey poured by an octogenarian. The forward motion, the push against the wind, the tread on blacktop, it all becomes melody, sweetly vibrating in Kadrey's skull.
Evan is in the back. Asleep. Maybe. He's so quiet that Kadrey is afraid that he'll die one day, in the dark, and his body will be cold and stiff before morning can reveal the stone-like nature of expired skin.
It is very hard not to think about sudden endings; so many creatures have had their bellies split, theirs skulls caved in on the asphalt band. The headlights define a tiny, ever-changing kingdom. Red trails come in and out of clarity. Blood arabesques to deepen the music.
Strange that there are no carcasses on the road, just evidence of collisions. It must be that the road rejects anything that static. Still, it leaves constant reminders, some of them fresh enough to glint in the beams, that eventually there is not enough space for everyone. We are, every single one of us, headed for a crash.


28: Company In My Back

You all know about Zeno


So you'll understand

and I imply no condescension
by thus speaking
to the uninitiated

about the split between appearance and existence

But maybe split's too spiky a word


The punch

To those not well versed


Will present itself as a swift, simple action


In the presence
Of a
Master Killer

That may well be the case

But for anyone



It is a thousand decisions

What looks to be

A single gesture

Designed in frustration

The desire

The desire is what's singular

And on the way to contact

Before the destination

And before that

There is doubt


Constant corrections too quick

Too minute

To chart

No proof

Blood Pudding

Just Constant






29: In Limbo

Ten years on and this country is clockwork. You know when to spit out "Yes Sir", when to susurrate "No Bitch". The rules don't change, but that don't mean that they can't be deflected, mutated, digested and shat out as Montelimar.

Just like the old men, you deal in real estate now, like Bobby Baltz or Lee Frost,
you're always on the lookout for soil with potential,
enclosed areas where each angle responds to the previous one,
places where one can stand and feel the rotation.

You are past the point (hell, can you even draw the point)
Where architecture can betray you,
So it knocks you off your game a bit to fall for the old round-the-corner trick.
Shit, shit, shit, Fuck.
It figures they would not disappear
Just because you stopped thinking about them
An awful long time ago.
Ten years of roads spiked with opportunities for contact.
Ten years they've been carrying your features on their own trajectories.

It occurs to you that they probably could not cut you out from the static. They may have the benefit of transportation, but transformation is beyond them. It must be. There has to be a reason you left. There better be. Four men are in the jelly aisle of a grocery store with one nose and one gait to split between them. You start to close the distance, and with every step you get closer to a new kind of comedy.

It's about twenty five paces to the trio
Just don't walk like a dolt at a wedding
Your path is butchered out of this world
You will splice it back after thirty paces
Close enough to tell Ted's asthma's no better
Eyes down they're looking for apricot
Aren't you glad you're strawberry tall
Rounding the aisle you stash the loaf
Bread can wait, the getaway's constant
On the wide open you keep it steady at 75
You make all the left turns they can't
You wish for another dime, at least


31: Babylon Sisters

Bones are slow-built cathedrals revealed only at the architect's exit.

It's day five on the Malibu coast where camping is surprisingly affordable. Kadrey pours himself out of the tent a good hour before sunset because nobody's yet bothered to design a tent for smokers. Evan's there, of course, drawing something in the back pages of whatever he's reading this week.
Kadrey's been a bitch all week but Evan chances a greeting anyway, "Hey Dracula." Kadrey answers through the filter, his words spurting from the tobacco, "Whazit? What the hell are you talking about?" Evan stands and faces Kadrey, "Two weeks in California. Two weeks and you are still lilly-white. I think you had more of a tan in Michigan."
A couple of screeching kids run in between them, their frequencies liquefying thoughts and molars. Kadrey knows they live four tents down, he knows their parents are usually reduced to pinot grigio containers by nine P.M., he has a warm cannibal thought.
He starts walking away from the field of tents and Evan follows. Thirty feet from the highway he stops and speaks.
"I'm tired of this fucking water. And I'm tired of these rocks. I want to get back into the car. I want to keep going."
"Keep going," Evan shouts over the traffic, "there is nowhere to go. This is it. We ran out of country."
"So? We go back."
"We go back why, Kadrey? We do what? It takes me a week with both of my feet in one little spot to feel like I've stopped. All of this movement, Kadrey. All of this for no real reason."
"What are you saying? You can't do this anymore? You don't want to?"
"Driving is getting scary. I keep thinking that we keep avoiding disaster by just a little bit, feet probably, but we keep running we're gonna end up smack dab in the middle of fucked."
"I thought I was the pussy."
"You've been the pussy. Now you're aiming for retard. Did we loose anything on the road, Kadrey?"
"You're not curious? How about Joanie, and Olly, and The Casbah, and that grave in the desert. How about we go back and make sure we kept all of our promises and nobody is worst off in our wake."
"How about we go back and erase every dumb ass thing we ever done. Come on Kadrey there's forward and there is stop. There is no time travel."
"That's it? You're settling?"
"No, no. I never said that."
"Well I'm not. In two days I'll be headed East. It would make sense if you came along."
"What will you do till then?"
"Right now I'm gonna cross this road, go down that cliff and jack off into the Ocean."

Sand gives to any pressure but it's foolish thinking it will remember.

32: Chain Lightning

Money's like rain.

Office buildings make for decent shelter.

Before the endeavor or after the failure.

They feed on light and dust.


33: Kamera

Understand that this inventory does not include the trunk or the glove box. It takes no accounting of those places where things go to hide, but it does include all objects that, by some accident, find themselves out of sight.

In the civic we find:

A pack of Marlboro Reds, three left

A pack of Benson and Hedges menthols, one left

An eyeglass repair kit, no screws

A pack of Merits, five left

A crumpled Wendy's bag with two Whataburger bags inside

Five dollars and forty-three cents in loose change

Three Euros

Five packs of Turkish Gold, all empty

Two atlases, both falling apart

That morning's copy of the Arizona Republic

A pillow

A Tom Waits cd case with Shakira's "Fijacion Oral" inside

The latest copy of the New Yorker

The latest copy of Swank

An old copy of In Touch with a subscription sticker for a Doctor James Bannon

Ticket stubs for a Fellini retrospective

An open bag of trail mix

Eight lighters, most of them green

A paperback copy of "Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand" by Chip Delaney

A Steely Dan shirt

A switchblade

A half full bag of Sun Chips

An empty wallet

An Oregon traffic ticket

A laptop




34: Pretzel Logic

is written
on skin
turns to

is written
on skin
turns to

is written
on skin
turns to

36: I Bombed Korea Every Night

"Goddamn man, that's gotta be one hell of a rock with the new sun on all that granite."

It's three in the morning and the sign reads "Keystone City Limits". Suddenly Kadrey remembers a bit of middle school history. He convinces Evan to stick around and see the sun rise on Mount Rushmore.

"No I can't remember where I'm from, and no I don't blame the chemicals, I'd guess that place didn't lend itself to remembering"

They find a picnic table to lay out their black coffee and ground beef tacos. In between four and five they are joined by a young man with way too many stories for his twenty eight years. He has the grace to leave before the silences start filling in the gaps of his autobiography.

"It's settled then."

They spend the morning tallying up at the picnic table. Every dollar, every assist, every rescue, every piece of bread or drop of blood. Things are almost even between them now, but they agree that Kadrey owes Evan a shirt. The button-up kind. With long sleeves.

35: Handshake Drugs

At first light, it is often obvious what type of opportunities a day will offer, and on those days that offer neither the option of making nor breaking, Evan and Kadrey will somehow find themselves in one of those gigantic hardware stores.
They prefer the Home Depot, definite article always included, because it gets the scent right. That odor of eager wood with its metallic accents and plastic finish; it's the same in Maine, Georgia, or Wyoming. They must get it from a bottle kept in the back.
They'll walk those deep, bright aisles for hours, gliding from thrill to thrill as raw materials whisper new promises. All that potential animating every piece of wood and stone, every color and fixture, it's dizzying. A man will go light in the head and his knees will tremble and a shopping cart will be the only thing keeping him upright.
Evan and Kadrey haven't built a thing. Not yet. But the trunk of that Civic is slowly filling with hammers and levels and tape measures, and it is often their pleasure, between these two oceans, to correct or clarify a thing or a person that needs correcting or clarifying.

37: Black Friday

SCENE - Lobby of an abandoned building. Three chairs and a broken table emphasize the desolation of the place. An inch of dust covers everything. It is pitch black.
[Evan and Kadrey run into the room holding flashlights. Kadrey stops suddenly]
Kadrey: Wait. Wait! [whispering] why the fuck are we running?
Evan: [Stopping. Catching his breath] I don't... I don't know. That was a real ruckus.
Kadrey: Quite the commotion. Quite the commotion. But I'm not looking to get my throat slit.
Evan: What are we looking for?
Kadrey: Only the correct exit. [he shines his beam on the floor] What's this.
Evan: [augmenting Kadrey's beam with his own] I think it's blood.
[Kadrey is still. Evan moves his beam along the crimson trail. It goes into the next room.]
Evan: What do we do?
Kadrey: The correct exit.
Evan: We leave? Now? What if someone needs us?
Kadrey: That question only has the one answer. I only have the one life.
Evan: What's that worth?
Kadrey: What?
Evan: A life.
Kadrey: That's not fair Evan. I see no life here demanding consideration. It's curiosity. You want me to gamble for your curiosity.
Evan: You're no kind of man.
[Evan goes into the next room. Kadrey is left alone and in silence for about two minutes. His beam stays fixed on the spot where they first saw the blood]
Kadrey: Evan, damn you, make a sound.
Evan: [Coming out of the room, looking queasy] There's most of a man in there...
Kadrey: My God.
Evan: Alone. Whoever, whatever did this... He doesn't have much of a face left...
Kadrey: What can we do?
Evan: I don't know. I don't see a whole lot of options.
Kadrey: Can we take him somewhere? Or do we have to...
Evan: Damn it Kadrey! He's not some fucking horse.
[There is a long silence]
Evan: You get our shit packed up, I'm going to drive down to that truck stop and make a call.
Kadrey: Are we going to wait with him?
Evan: I've got no answers for cops.
Kadrey: For a little bit then.
Evan: You do what you want. I'm not going back in there.
[Evan leaves. Kadrey raises his beam to the entrance of the next room. As we hear Evan's car start up Kadrey starts walking towards the entrance. He turns his flashlight off and goes in.]
Kadrey: Hello?