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.