© 2014   Nico Pliskin  ,  "Unititled"

© 2014 Nico Pliskin, "Unititled"

Hello, Stranger

//Mark Jay    

In this life, there’s not enough time in between when they tell you that you can be anything, and when you discover that you are nothing.

The kids squealing in front of me, they have yet to make this discovery. They are shaking with excitement, screaming at the top of their lungs, ignoring their parents’ pleas, laughing, crying, sniveling, clawing over each other like spiders in a mason jar. Only security guard Reggie stands in their way. He, also, despite all the evidence, has yet to make this discovery. He takes himself too seriously — way too seriously. He unclips the velvet rope and waves me past the kids. I do my best not to look at him, with his mustache and unibrow, like two parallel caterpillars squirming across his face, as I slink past the little shit who’s asking his mommy why I get to cut the line. I reek of tobacco, and hopefully that’s all. My eyes are itchy. I’m wearing a pair of dark Aviators. Reggie offers me a pound. I pretend not to see it. He then clips the velvet rope behind me before telling a parent that he cannot let them in until another party leaves.  

There are sounds everywhere. Lights everywhere. It’s like being inside a pinball machine. Toddlers squawking like vultures. Screens too bright. Not enough parents. Greasy, dirty, disgusting hands plunged into the bowls of communal ranch at the salad bar; ranch that is weeks old, months old. Rancid. Fucking children: frosting in their hair, tomato sauce on their foreheads, savage determination written across their faces.

“Whose is this?” a young woman asks another who is holding a baby at her chest.

“Alisha’s? I think,” she replies, before easing him to the floor and letting him scurry off.

A boy with his diaper hitched high above his jeans plays Agassi Pro X III until another boy, larger, diaperless, haughty, with a red-balloon hat, grabs the paddle out of the first boys’ hand, bops him on the head, then, as the diapered boy cries for his mommy, who is nowhere to be seen, the big dirt bag starts swinging the paddle wildly, out of synch with the avatar on the screen. There’s a wild orgy of children in the ball pit. If only their parents knew how much human shit Tommy had to clean out of there each night, and how frequently Tommy ignored this duty and got high with me in the back parking lot instead.

“Yo, man,” he once told me, his face scrunched together after a huge hit.


“You ever piss on an electric fence?”

“No. Should I?”

“You know what that feels like, man? I’ll tell you. It feels like your spine is being jerked right out through your dick hole.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“I don’t know, man.”

I weave past the shirtless kid climbing his way up the Skee-Ball lane, slam dunking a ball into the 500 point hole, and head towards Munch’s Make Believe Land. There, folk music is being played by large, furry, mechanical animals on an elevated stage. Sammy’s there too, serving pizza, a smile on her face like she’s checking in the mirror if spinach had gotten stuck in her teeth. This is how she always looks here, serving pizza, lighting candles, singing happy birthday – there’s something horrible about a smile which is forced into existence. Sammy’s dead brown eyes find me in the crowd, and I meet them. She mouths that we’ve got to talk. I shrug and slink into the locker room. Tommy is already there by my locker. The radio in the corner is babbling its usual babble:

I’ve had love. Oh baby boy, don’t you know it. I’ve had love so good, love so bad, that it damn near ripped my heart out and made me eat it in a flesh sandwich. Yes sir! She had these big green eyes that could make a grasshopper cry. Love, baby. Love. That’s what makes your grandfather tick right along with his clock. That’s the tick and the tock. That’s the answer. And don’t you worry yourself about the question, darling.

Without saying a word, we go into the staff bathroom and lock the door behind us.

“I feel like without these drugs, man, I’d just, like, power off one day, you know. Like a laptop that you don’t charge up.” His round, shaved head is flanked on either side by huge ears, which flutter like butterfly wings as he does his second line off the sink.

“I know what you mean.” I rub some residue on my top and bottom gums.

“You know, man? You ever think about doing something else?”

“Like what?”

“I donno. Anything. Like be a race car driver.”

“You don’t even have a license. And let’s not forget-”

“Naw, naw, man. Come on. Forget that. You know what I mean. Something, anything — besides…this. Like, don’t you want to live? Do something great?”

"Yeah, I thought about it once or another.”

“And so what about it, man?”

“I guess I just never did anything about it.”

“Why, man. Why?”

“I guess — maybe I’m scared. Maybe I’m lazy. I don’t know.”

“Scared of what, man?”

“Look, I don’t know. Back the fuck off. Okay?”

“Didn’t mean to pick a scab or nothing, dudelet.”

“I guess I’m fine right here so long as they just give me my medicine and let me swallow in peace.”

“Amen, brother.”

“Just let me swallow, you fuckers!”



We take a couple healthy pulls from his flask of cheap vodka.

“Where am I supposed to go, anyway, though?” I say. “This place, another place, what’s the difference, really? I mean, once you’re in hell you don’t, like, go from room to room seeing if the room where the devil is shoving hot tongs up your ass might be better than the room where the golem is sticking a flaming staff in your eye or, like, what about the room over there where the kids...”

“My mama warned me about people like you, you know that, man?”

“Plus there’s all the free pizza.”

“She said, if the drugs won’t get you, man, the dark and dreary cats will.”

“I’d like to meet your mom one day.”

“Easy partner. And you know Sammy told me about your performance review yesterday. What’s going on between you guys, by the way? You still boinking?”

“I ended it. Last night, actually.”

“Aw, man. That’s a real bummer, man. I’m sorry. I thought you two were...”

“Fuck it.”

“I ever tell you I was married once?”


“Aw, man. She was a real beauty, man. Like class A. She made me feel beautiful, man. All warm and good. Like whiskey minus the hangover. But I guess I didn’t make her feel beautiful, you dig? And one day I woke up and she just wasn’t there. But, hey, man, that was a long time ago. We should get going anyway.”


“Hey but do me a favor, man? Maybe you could ease up out there, with Tyler and whatnot. Cut down on the bullshit. I don’t know if I could take this place without you, hermano.”

“Yeah, yeah. Let’s do one more right quick. I gotta get out there.”

I change at my locker. Tommy helps me put on the head of my costume. He tucks my ponytail under the fake fur, and gives me a big thumbs up. The radio is rattling on:

Oh mama! A warm glass of milk for the tired old man, stooped by his bedside, praying, praying, praying to Darwin that his son will make it home from the war in one piece. Ha! The doctor prescribes three tablespoons of Leviticus to the young woman dying of cancer. I tell you what. It’s a lark. It’s a shark. It’s a tiger let loose in the zoo – and we’re the paying customers. Where do we go? Where do we go? cried the deaf man to the blind man. And the blind man said, follow your nose, my friend.

Outside, Remmy, a squat, hairy woman, is standing with a microphone in Munch’s Make Believe Land, counting down from twenty. Children are squealing. Something feral in their cries; less joy than torment. Twelve, eleven, ten… Tommy is massaging my shoulders like a boxer’s corner man before a title fight. At six, I jerk my mouse head off, remove my glove, and rub one more thin coat of cocaine on my lower gum. Tommy tucks me safely back into the costume and whispers something into my ear, something that I don’t hear.

When she says one, I enter into a cackling din. Remmy hands me the microphone, and together we initiate our routine: stomp, clap, stomp, stomp, clap; stomp, clap, stomp, stomp, clap. The children are clapping and stomping along. So are some reluctant parents.

It’s really hot in here.

Raul sits stage-right at the control panel. He’s wearing a red cowboy hat, denim jacket, denim shirt, and jean shorts. He has aspirations of becoming a music producer. He’s in the zone, turning nodules, making the large goose with the purple t-shirt to my left strum his fake banjo. I wave at a young girl with a tiara on her head, and she beams at her mom behind her, like, can you believe he’s waving at me? I run left to right, extending my hand, and kids race towards the stage to touch my hand to give me low fives. Then I start doing jumping jacks. The kids follow along. Even the parents are jumping. Remmy jumps too, but I’m off script, and she looks at me, scratching her neck with her middle finger. The pink, mustached cat to my left is feigning a guitar solo, and Raul is smiling and nodding like some old man at a jazz club. A birthday girl is licking pink frosting off of a table. My toes tingle. My chest tingles. Sammy is looking at me, like, what the fuck are you doing?

If only they could see how much I am sweating. If only they could hear my maniacal laugh as I spin on my ass and watch all the kids turn into human dreidels. If they only knew that I am alive in here.

“Who’s having a good time?!” I snarl into the voice modifier inside the costume’s mouth, which makes my voice sound like a prepubescent Disney character. The kids raise their hands and say, “Me! Me! Me!” I tell them how much I love them, how happy I am to be with them today.

“I’m the luckiest mouse in all the land, baby! Oh mama! Who’s having fun? Friends? Scream, why don’t ya? That’s it.”

I circle the room, pen in hand, giving autographs to the kids. My heart is beating like it wants out of me. Raul follows behind me, passing out CDs in clear plastic sleeves to kids and parents alike. “Look me up on Facebook,” he says. DJ Smoov’s After Hours, the CD jacket reads. I pose for a picture, nuzzling twin brothers under either armpit. Neither kid has a clue how to smile on command. It’s the type of picture that, if preserved, they’ll both recoil from years later.

I jump on the table closest to me and scream, “I’ll be back in five minutes, friends!” Then I twirl my index finger, take a bow, jump down, and duck through the door that says DO NOT ENTER.

Tommy is waiting for me, sweeping piles of grime up and down the row of lockers.

Listen. It ain’t so easy. The doctor gives the homeless man a dollar – he buys a cigarette and dies of cancer. Throat cancer. Black lung. Hypothermia. Bronchitis. Kawazaki disease. The plague, baby boy. You better believe it. Please. Please! Can you spare a blanket? the Indian Chief asked the Spaniard. It’s cold, brother. I don’t mind the small pox, and you can take my land, and you can have my gold, it’s just this wind’s ahowling, and my people are cold.

I change into jeans and a hoodie, and we go out back behind the garbage dump. The sky above is closing in on us like some miserable woolen blanket come to suffocate the world. Tommy lights a blunt, and we pass it back and forth.

“What are you doing out there, man? You trying to get canned or what? You’re lucky Tyler wasn’t out there. He—”

“What do you think happens when you die, Tommy?”


“What do you think?”

“How the hell am I supposed to know something like that, man?”

“Take a guess.”

“Why don’t you tell me, Mr. Socrates?”

“Well, I think you go to heaven. I think you just float around with angels and reunite with your dead family and learn how to play the harp or whatever.”

“Far out, man. Really?”

“Hell no. Who do you think I am?”

“I don’t know.”

“I bet you just die and you just lay there till some tiny animals eat you up and then they shit you out and then some even smaller animals eat that shit. You just become a smaller and smaller piece of shit until everyone just forgets.”

“Nobody I know has died yet.”

“Lucky you.”

“What was it like when…I mean…”

“It was like this: like you went to the bathroom before you’re done eating and when you come back the busboy already cleared your plate. Does that make any sense?”

“I dig, man. I dig.”

“Actually, you know what? It’s not anything like that. It’s like nothing.”

“I dig, man.”

“Do you ever feel fucking trapped, Tommy? Like maybe some really important part of you died already when you weren’t looking, and what you got left isn’t enough.”

“Well, not really, man. I don’t know. I guess I had a rabbit for some years when I was growing up. And I forgot to feed him one day and that little fucker went and died, man. I was devastated. I loved that rabbit, man.”

“What was his name?”

“I don’t know, man. Come on, you better go back in."

Be bold! Yes, if nothing else, be bold! Honk three times if you like your pizza cold. If you wish the sun would just take a couple of days off for crying out loud. Let them hear you God damnit, if you want a little more wing with that chicken. Or tofu. I’m not discriminating here. No, sir. Go ahead, I say! Save those animals! Hell, why don’t you save me while you’re at it. Here I am! Save me! Save me, cried the missionary to the slave. Woopsee. Had my textbook upside down there for a second. But go ahead and save the world – that is, if that’s your particular cup of tea. Me, I’m a coffee man myself. Yessiree. Four cups of sugar and as much creamer as you can spare, because you only live once, darling. That is, unless you never live at all.

I go to the staff lounge to look for Sammy. She’s in there with Remmy. I hear them talking and giggling, so I hang behind the vending machine so they can’t see me while I listen in.

"Some lady out there was like, excuse me, there’s vomit in the ball pit. And so I’m like, look, what do you want me to do about it, lady?”

“Tommy’s lazy ass.”

“Right. He’s such a creep. I don’t know why Tyler keeps him around. Him and your lover boy are probably getting high in the back right now, getting ready to scare the crap out of some kids. I’m getting tired of covering for him.”

“I know. I know. He’s just having a hard time is all. It’ll pass.”

“Why you always sticking up for him? Open your eyes, Sammy.”

“He just can get super depressed and stuff sometimes. And sometimes, yeah, he makes mistakes. It’s not his fault, though.”

“How is it not—”

“Look. Not all of us had childhoods of candy land and piano practice and stuff.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing, okay? Just...nobody’s perfect. Maybe he’s tired. Maybe I’m tired. Look, people just deal with stuff in different ways and stuff. He’ll come to his senses soon, watch.”

"Nobody has time for his sad little pity party.”

I head back to the locker room. Tommy isn’t there. I measure out two lines and vacuum them up. The world stops and speeds up at the same time. The word elephantine appears in my mind one second, then vanishes the next. I do a few high knees, a few pushups, then lunge into my pocket to discover a text message: I made some veal parmesan. When will you be back from work? I love you. XO. Mom. I put my phone away.

God damn! Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn! Sing it, sister. Let it out. I need to hear your voice like I need to breathe the air like the world needs to spin and the bugs need to scurry along, just like that dog scratches at the back door cuz he’s got to get out. He’s got to take a leak, man - can’t you see that that mutt doesn’t wanna piss on your carpet but we’ve all got our limits.

My stomach curdles. There’s not a drop of water in my mouth, even right after I take a sip from the sink. My toes feel all glued together. The jagged writing on the stall door has been there for as long as I’ve worked here. It says, The revolution starts here. Below that, it says, in loopy, right-leaning handwriting, No it doesn’t. Just above the toilet paper dispenser, someone also etched, Sydney Worchester was here, you bastards.

I can’t think of anything to write, so I flush the toilet again and again and watch it swirl into oblivion, attempting to vomit now and again until Tommy grabs my shoulder.

“Come on, man. What are you doing? Remmy just started the countdown.”

“Bathroom lights are like interrogation rooms, T. Why is that?”

“I’m not fucking around, man.”


“Are you all right, man?”

“I’m hurt Tommy. I hurt so much.”

“Jesus, man. Get it together.”

“Just one more line, Tommy boy.”

“You look like you’ve had enough.”

“One more line, mother fucker!”

I dump the vial onto the toilet lid and use my vibrating ring finger to scoop a teaspoon into my mouth. I hear Remmy say, “Two, one, zero, zero, zero.”

There’s only a last time if you let the first time end. You catch my drift? Don’t let go, brother. Don’t let go. Not for them. Never for them. Just hold on. Don’t get me wrong, though. Listen up baby. Ain’t no point running from the past either, cuz the past is faster than God in a tracksuit.

Tommy lifts me up and shoves the giant mouse head over my face. He gives me a push through the door, and the shrieking applause I receive nearly blows me right back into the locker room. My knees wobble, and I right myself before ripping the microphone from Remmy.

“Sorry folks. Nearly got caught in a mouse trap back there. But I made it. Haha! Now, who’s ready to party!”

Stomp, clap, stomp, stomp, clap; stomp, clap, stomp, stomp, clap.

I look out at the crowd and wave. I raise both hands in the air like I’ve just won the Barcelona Marathon, like I just sent Tyson reeling to the floor, like I’m Rocky and I just ran up all those fucking steps. A seizure of happiness spreads through them all. All but Tyler: he scowls at me and runs his finger across the front of his neck. Sammy is staring at me. They’re all staring at me. I’m crying. I’m hot and itchy and these people are staring at me and I’m crying. I run across the stage. I jump and spin and high-step and they do the same.

Sammy’s smile is tense, her face electric. She is begging me to look at her, but instead I shadowbox with one, two, three monster uppercuts. I focus on the fat toddler who is pounding his chest; on the baby in the onesie getting breast fed by a floppy titty; on the girl in a SpongeBob rain coat punching the broken ticket machine; on the girl in the lime dress with a piano key smile; on the two boys under the table to my left as they wallop a smaller boy, steal his tokens, walk away; on the purple hammocks under a young mother’s eyes.  

An image threatens to manifest in my head. My own father, hazy as can be, back from the grave, swaying and smiling. I clench as hard as I can to bring him more fully back to life, but the humongous goose bangs a crushing note, and I’m back on stage. I feel as taut as one of his banjo’s strings. I dance. These legs are not my legs. Raul studies the sound board with his tongue out. My heart tap dances on my chest plate. My eyes rattle in their sockets. They are chanting my name — his name.

I love you. I love you all. I want to pour my love on you like big juicy wads of rain until your shirt is soaked through and your nipples are pointing to the blue, blue sky. Blue like that deep, deep ocean where the lonely whale spouts his troubles through his hole. And if you’d just open your arms then I’ll be your Captain Ahab, baby. I want to flatten you with love until you’re a pancake and don’t worry cuz I’ve got butter and some syrup too, darling. Why won’t you let me? Huh? Huh? Get that look off your face and just open your arms. Please! Can’t you see I’m doing the best I can?

I leap into a handstand, nearly shatter my elbow, and catapult back onto my feet. I am invincible. The world races around me and I’ve got to catch up. I do another round of jumping jacks and the audience mimics me like some kind of depraved mirror. I do some more push ups, and all of a sudden, I’ve turned the world into an aerobics class. Look at their young bodies, up and down. Look at their pathetic form. Bend your elbows, little man. Get your butt down, for crying out loud. I laugh into the voice machine, I tell them I love each and every one of them, and I listen as a voice filled with helium spreads across the room.

I chant his name and they echo it back. My spine zippers up. I feel a pop in my mouth, like a circuit coming loose. Blood in my mouth. The room swirls. A tyrant of chaotic limbs. Eyes swimming across it all. I shiver, doing my best to keep moving. Remmy is standing still with her hand over her mouth. They’re all staring.

“Come on kids,” I yell. “Let’s get groovy!”

Something pops again. And again. I am wooozy. I can taste the blood. So much blood, more than my mouth can hold. I flop to the ground with a thud, and there is a chorus of clattering chairs as the audience flops down with me. Together, we writhe. We do the jitterbug. I feel nothing. No pain. I can’t move. Above me, the giant cat strums his guitar. Up and down. Up and down. There are heads above me. Eyes big and wide.

Hello? Is anyone listening or am I talking to the moon and the stars? To the pedophiles and the czars. To the dirt and the dung. Hello, stranger. I love you. I know, I know. They promised us love and they gave us this shit instead. They promised us love then did everything they could to make us hate ourselves. But guess what? I still love you. Just like your mother loved you before they cut your umbilical cord and they’ve been beating you down with their eyes ever since. Their miserable fucking faces. Their faces and their expectations. But mostly with their eyes. Oh God! Lower your head! Don’t look at me with those eyes, please, brother. I can’t bear it.

Until everything stops. Until the music is done and the furry animals are frozen. The game is over. I can’t stand up. My legs are like two lumps of clay. There is a swaying mass of heads above me now, and I know that my mask is off because I feel the cold wood stage against my neck. There is a sound in the crowd like a puppy’s been run over. This followed by a series of shrieks, cries and moans. Someone has grabbed my wrist. For a second I see my dad standing by a swimming pool, shirtless, his nipples turning like gears in a watch. He is fuzzy. Someone’s finger is in my mouth. Sammy is next to me. She’s trying to say something.

Now tell me: On your journeys, did you happen to ask the internet any of the really funky questions? Why you can’t sleep and what in the hell it all means? Why there’s another world inside your eyelids? Did you ask about your dead father who got run over by a tank in the Gulf. Did you ask how you put a medal around a neck that’s been flattened to putty? Did you ask if he cried? Tell me: did you ask if he cried? Did the internet suggest that you should maybe buy some sleeping pills? Huh? Did it? Did it? Did it tell you about the magic of Melatonin? Well, I’m here to try to tell you these things. To tell all you people living like hangman out there that the right word will not save you. You’ve got to listen. Really listen, and you’ll finally hear that wind. Listen to the mendacity of the moon. The salaciousness of the stars. That scandalous sun. Screw that screaming sun! Fuck it up and down the street, darling. Oh baby, just give me the strength and I swear I’ll shoot it down with David’s slingshot. For you, I’ll bring the curtains down on the whole big shebang.

And then: everything is silent. Nobody says a mumbling word. And I lay there, feeling like I am on the bottom of a pool, not drowning, just hanging out, just watching the world above me. Watching to see what they’ll come up with next.

*                      *                      *

Tommy drives my car like a madman. He can’t drive for shit, and everything around us, the trees, the cars, the moon, the road itself - it all seems to be charging right at us. And we barely elude it all. My heart beats faster than the yellow lines skip past. I feel like I have to vomit, and maybe I already did. Tommy pinches the radio and lands on the voice of a twitchy southern man, talking in a throaty whisper, as if on his porch swing, as if in his bed under the covers, and I hear these words blow in the wind as we drive into the night and shatter it into a million shards of terror.

The cops killed a man out in Tucson the other day. Yes they did. Shot him dead. Put eighty-two bullets in his stomach. Shot and shot and shot until he spilled all over the Earth. Paramedics needed a shovel and a wheelbarrow to take him to the lab. The judge let them off. It was justified. They say he had a bat. The bastard! Turns out he was a baseball coach. Oh well. The cops fired forty-one bullets each and they got three months of paid leave. Serves them right. That’ll show them to fuck with us! But there will be no martyrs, only mirrors. And oh, darling, is there any sight in the world more horrible than your own face in that mirror. In that ocean. In that mercurial pool of blood in the eye of your one true love.

All four windows are down. The windshield is all fogged up, and Tommy holds his head out the window like a dog. He sits down and rubs on the windshield, and through that pocket I see the pale moon winking right at us.

I can help you but first you gotta tell me: is that the tears in your eyes or is it the rain on the windshield? I cannot help you if you don’t speak to me. Listen. Only poetry I read is on bathroom stalls. I suggest you do the same. Listen. I’ve got an idea for ye brave souls: Let’s raid Capitol Hill. What do you say? Let’s raid Capitol Hill and have a tickle party. The man who laughs last – he’ll be the next President. Who’s with me? Hello? Hello? Class? Is anyone there? Has anyone done their homework? Have you read the Braille on the sidewalk? Did you kiss a stranger on the hand and look deep, deep into their eyes and then did you say: I’m here to help you partner. Tell me your story. Cuz I know you’ve got one. And I’ma aching to hear it. Oh baby, please. Tell me your story, darling, but do it soon, or else you’re gonna find out the hard way that the epidermal cell don’t offer any conjugal visits.

“If you can hear me, hang in there, hermano. Okay? I’m going as fast as I can, man, and there’s nothing but open road ahead of us. What did I say? Can your man Tommy drive or what?”

Am I getting through to you on this cold, crazy night? Do you see the moon nodding up above. Up and down. Side to side. Yes sir. Yes ma’am. Hello. Hello? Paging doctor Frankenstein. You. You there, tell me. Did you live? Did you love? Did you contribute? Did you let the shame and fear and loss wrap you like a mummy? What did you tell your mother when she looked you right in the eye and said I’m proud of you, baby. Oh God! Is this all that was meant for us? Is this it? What will your gravestone say?

Donald Throp: accomplished little and was loved by few.

Rooney Tugston: paid his bills on time and had a wife with big old honkers.

Barry Brunt: an angel who it turned out only wore a halo to obscure his horns.

Doug Wallard: divorced, lonely, absentee father, scared shitless, always drank the last cup of coffee and never refilled the pot, the bastard!

Theo Yawson: was loved by many but only dared to love himself

Serena Apricot: loyal employee, average lover, irritable, itchy, smelled: even as a teen, she smelled like an old person’s living room.

“Now, try not to panic, man. I’m not gonna lie to you brother, we may be a little lost. We are definitely lost, comprende? This map doesn’t appear to be from this century, man. But, hey, just trust me, man. If you just trust me and hang in there then your man Tommy will get us out of this little pinch here.”

Oh God! Please, would you honk a zillion times if you hear me. Honk, and if the guy in front of you gives you the finger, then go up and give him a big hug. Tell him you love him. Tell him you’re sorry about everything, and that you love him. And if that doesn’t work, punch him right in the gut and tell him Sydney Worchester sends his regards. You there. You. I see you. Driving the night away. Driving away, away, away. Always away. I know a little thing about a car with two gas pedals and zippo in terms of brakes. And I see you. Speeding down the right lane. You, with the hair and the nose: tell the cop with the radar gun to go to hell – tell him you’re just a ball rolling downhill and you gotta go, baby. Tell him: Burt Lancaster called, and he wants his mustache back. Tell him: you heard his daughter got on the honor roll, and that you’re very proud of her. You! You there: turn the heat down for crying out loud. Don’t you understand: gas costs about three or four humans a gallon. Oh mama! Power to the people. Rock on, baby. You: with the remote: I’m talking to you buster: why not give it up for a night, man. Why not let the lunatics and the crazies have the remote for just one night, and let’s just watch, damnit. Let’s just see what they put on.

You: with the arms and the legs: I see you: put your hand down and just ask the damn question already. I can’t take it anymore. Just say it already. In fact, you know what? Why don’t you take the damn chalk and you teach the class for once. Lesson one. The thermohydronicatomspherics of 14th Century IndoChina. The time you got a handy in sixth grade from a girl named Eliza Demph. The time you cheated in Monopoly and got caught. Where’d you get that stack of orange bills, mother fucker? Huh? God damn. Damn, damn! Look at you. Holy! Holy! How much wisdom dangles in your ear lobes. What makes you purr, darling? Tell me! I need to know. But you better tell me soon or else I’m gonna rip that skin off, cuz I need to see you. And I got long nails, darling. Hello? Oh God! Hold me. Love me. Please, just talk to me. I got my ears pinned back and raring to go. I’ve got ears like the wings on a ladybug, baby, and you better watch out, cuz I know how to use ‘em. I’ll get down on my knees and beg if I gotta. Take off your mask for crying out loud and just talk to me. I love you. Now, tell me baby, just tell me: would you be so kind as to hand a rope to a friend? He’s trying to kill himself, baby. That’s all. Hello, stranger. Listen. Can you hear it? The goose who lays the golden egg is telling the farmer that he’s constipated, man. He’s telling him, get your Goddamn hand out of my ass.

//Mark Jay is a co-founder of The Periphery.


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