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