1: Deacon Blues

"I'm going back for what's left," he said shortly after breakfast. They watched him leave, quiet about the shared certainty that not a thing had been "left".

The sky was a solid sheet of blue but outside it still smelled of rain. His balding tires had trouble negotiating the mud.

He had to use a window; it never crossed his mind that the old place would be locked tight. Inside, he was shocked at the emptiness of it. The place was nothing but walls and passageways, with no suggestion as to where one should stand or what one should do.

Light came in from windows, holes, and cracks and traversed entire rooms uninterrupted, breaking against the walls.

The heat got to him and he took off his hat. Extending his arm he used it to catch the light here and there, becoming the interruption.

He turned around and noticed he had tracked a looping line of mud. He heard himself say, "I am the endpoint."

2: The National Anthem

There is most of a city between these two. The roads between them split and dip and end, frustrating any chance at a straight line. Concrete walls stop bullets, they swallow one's voice and deny one's image.

Other way round there is most of a planet with valleys and rivers, deserts and oceans, plains and canyons, and towns that read like punch lines on a map. Some of them make for adequate meeting sites.


3:Can't Stand It

What Kadrey knows: there is no reason to have lunch in the baby mall situated within this building's guts. Festering with humanity by 11:55, it becomes a grueling miasma difficult to wade through, exhausting one during the very hour reserved for recuperation.
What Kadrey does: lunch is eaten at the wokstation where there will be no waste of time, energy or social tolerance. This action awards him 18 to 22 minutes that belong to no institution or biological need. In this time Kadrey thinks about fighting. About winning fights. The opponents and settings vary. The style of fighting changes from 70s Hollywood tussles, to Jack Kirby throwdowns, to UFC massacres, back to Hollywood for golden age duels. The ending is always the same, it will brook no modification, mutation, or innovation: the fallen opponent receives an uncivilized kick to the ribs. Kadrey will feel his leg swing back, every joint perfectly aligned as if on a track, then there is the acceleration toward the offered torso, surprisingly effortless, which doesn't end in impact but is transmuted into a wave of pleasure racing past epidermis, then through the nerves, spiraling up the spinal chord, and finally redefining the brain, changing chemicals, opening up transmitters, allowing brand new divorces and unions. It's a party.

4: Parallax

Looking at a stranger head on is always a confrontation.

There is no truth in battle.

Evan learns to look through things and around them.


5: Planet Telex

In his car, hands at ten and two, Kadrey is waiting for the frenzy of coworkers fleeing the parking lot to die down before turning the key. He is thinking about the paycheck already en route as electric impulses to his only account. The one in charge of shelter, sustenance, entertainment and emergencies. The one that can never grow quite large enough to actualize desire. He is thinking about all of these fixed numbers that he lives with: the rent, the cable, the insurance, that kid in South America ("just pennies a day") and so on. All of them will be debited automatically from the account. The mighty paycheck will be reduced to a measly allowance in no time flat. Of course there is time. Time enough to change his automatic settings and live at least for a little while with his full compensation. To look at the screen and see what he is worth for real. And then maybe to apply this power towards something significant. Something unexpected. Fuck the rent, he can take the money and run. But where to? And how far? It isn't that much money.


6: Two Against Nature

Evan got out of the car and the surveyed the street. It was a crap scene. something starring Lee Majors on the way out. Extras casting had no real budget and Wardrobe was all newbies. These tiny towns were all the same: no hope for a decent meal or real conversation. Just a place for beer and cigarettes. And maybe some flashback candy, a Charleston Chew perhaps.

Kadrey always got out of the bus at these insignificant places. Sure, the man always needed a pee or a cigarette or soup, but there was real excitement for him in visiting these alien colonies. The tide of civilization had receded but these folks and edifices had held on to the soil with quixotic determination. A fascinating stain on the land.


7: Alpha Beta Parking Lot

Sleeping in a car moving across this continent is time travel; you're very likely to wake up in another era. That man you just locked eyes with could have been your grandfather. Before the War. This brand and that cut are were not, until today, things you know from experience but from heavy-lidded memories of late nite reruns. You start to wonder how exactly the world twists around you while you sleep. You look at your hands expecting scars and calluses to still be in your future. You get a little paranoid.

8: Sky Blue Sky

They went Downtown on a Sunday.
Nothing going.


9: The Late Greats

With the earnings from the race they go into that little record store across from the Barnes and Noble. They're there until closing, carefully selecting; this will be the soundtrack to their entire October and maybe even November if money's tight.
On the road they test out their new materials. As the tones and stories fill the Civic they slip in and out of new characters. Testing them out. Gripping the wheel a certain way. Twisting their features into unfamiliar expressions. They are renewed.

10: I'm Only Sleeping

Geography has a strange influence on the radio
Sounds become liquid and tactile
Voices turn to syrup
Putting forth great anger enrobed in great civility
Beats migrate to your sternum
Colonize your heart
And turn humours a golden hue
Radio is sonar
And every song
Is Answer
Is Illumination
Is Location


11: Softest Bullet Ever Shot

12: Theologians

Ext Night-A deserted highway in the middle of the night. It is very dark but not pitch black. A solitary Honda's headlights are the only things gliding down the macadam.

Int Night- Two men are inside the car. A haggard looking KADREY is at the wheel. EVAN is passed out in the passenger seat.

Highway-The Honda going down a hill. The headlights suddenly go out. The car pulls over.

Car Interior-Kadrey opens the door and gets out in the huff. The automatic light wakes up Evan. He is a bit disoriented. Off screen Kadrey is cussing up a storm and we hear him kicking the bumper and the hood.

What's going on man? Hey Kadrey. Kadrey! What's going on? Kadrey what the...

[tossing himself into the driver's seat] The lights are dead.

Lights? Both of them? That doesn't happen man.

In lieu of a response, Kadrey makes a frustrated gesture towards the front of the car.

How long 'til sunrise?

I look like an Apache chief to you?

Kadrey balls up his jacket, puts it under his neck and reclines his seat all the way back.

You really going to sleep?

If you let me.

Man, I'm wide awake.

Kadrey digs around under the seats and finds a flashlight. He hands it to Evan. He digs around some more and comes up with a book.

Here. Read.

[looks at the book] Where did you get this? Arthur Miller is ass.

I know he's ass, but it was only a dollar.

[sort of fascinated by the book now] Attention must be paid.


Attention. Must. Be . Paid. He wrote that. That's some sentence. "Attention must be paid." It's like awareness, imperative, existence and economy. In that order.

Evan. Read. Sleep. Marvel. Just shut the fuck up while you're doing it. Please.


13: Don't Take Me Alive

Evan decided to look up an old buddy. Since we were in town and all.

His family had no news and no curiosity. I think there was a peak of lassitude in their answers but I won't swear to that.

He was not at work where they told us he'd dropped by if and when he was needed.

He was nowhere. And if he was somewhere then we had no idea of what that looked like.


14: Gaucho

Right before daybreak, Evan found him in the sliver of space between two warehouses; Kadrey was crying.
"Kadrey, It smells like jizz and fried chicken. How you even breathing in here?"
"Please. Please don't tell anybody."
"Who'm I gonna tell. You're everyone I know."


15: Bad Sneakers

Drinking in worn out clubs with young ladies.
Trailing the music by half a beat.
Pissing in badly lighted johns crowded with scoundrels.
Smelling like smoke and vinegar.
Feeling like ashes and leather.
Forgetting what day it is.
Only Evan is having fun

16: Lucky


17: Equivalents

Kadrey says:
"Everybody is from TV"

"Everybody looks like somebody else"

"No one's got their own face"

"Not Any more"


18: Sheep Go To Heaven

Chapter 1: Wherein our heroes are stranded

Chapter 2: Wherein brambles ruin an excellent pair of pants

Chapter 3: The lavender and champagne rescue

Chapter 4: Wherein a bond is formed

Chapter 5: The contagious dream

Chapter 6: Leaving the Lautners

Chapter 7: Wherein an option loses its abstract nature