The Fargo Kantrowitz’z Literary Campsite – Albert – Blogpost #16

There is a song for everybody. I don’t care the beat. It just follows us along, accompanies our days like some metronome angel. Dylan’s song was of unpredictability, brokenness, like an asteroid going a million miles an hour and never really getting anywhere. He listened to others like he was a radio, but heard nothing, almost seeing the soundless radio waves instead, mocking him as though he could not know reality just because he perceived it differently, not wrongly. – From Dylan’s War by Albert Jones.

this is a short story of desperation
by

Albert Jones

a guy is born. Later he dies. It doesn’t matter to him because the way he feels he could care less. That’s the way of life. Death. Simple. Not that he wanted it, to die, no, he wanted to live, but it felt better to him to consider being alone in a warm grave for the rest of his life, or death, whatever it became. He couldn’t consider which was real. Life or death. The christians say that death is more like life than life is more like life. They call life death and call death new life. It’s odd. This is what all the presidents tell us and Billy Graham and the senate when they say a Christian prayer. Death is better than life, so don’t have too much fun I guess. I guess that’s what it means. Look forward to death after which you will have fun. What is fun then? I guess fun is being warm in a grave for the rest of your life or death, whichever it is like I said. So I guess I’m pretty straight on target, middle of the road for my views. I’ve never been much of a non conformist. Most christians would call me dour though. I guess I’m dour then. Isn’t that what they want us to be? Makes you think if maybe there isn’t money involved in this ludicrous argument. Fuck it. I believe in God, but I’m not going to freak out about it. The entire system of our Christian faith is wrong. We don’t worship Christ anymore but the devil. We watch television and go to church on Sunday. I’m not criticizing the television except its the most flagrant advertising scheme ever put out in front of the world and called by some “art.” it’s not art. It’s shit and an addictive behavior. The networks are enablers. Some will say that there are some good programs on television and its up to you to choose the ones you watch wisely. Well, they don’t live at my house where my dad sits around and drinks beer and farts his life away all the while watching Jerry Springer. We’ve become a potential case for the Jerry Springer show just by watching Jerry Springer what seems about four times a day. Is that possible? It sure seems like we see it four times a day. Fuck Jerry Springer and my dad. Fuck em all.

My mother’s cool though. She gave me four hundred dollars to get me by last month. She’s cool. Gotta buy weed and shit, but she don’t know about that and she thinks it all goes to my rent. I don’t say my mom is stupid, but she does give me a lot of money when I don’t really deserve it because I admit it that I’m a fuck up to some degree just like my old man is. I get stoned too much and I eat out a lot and I’m getting fat like my dad. I don’t work and that sucks, but I don’t give a shit. It’s what I want to do. When I get stoned it feels alright. I know, it’s an artificial high, but what else am I going to do? I got a dog that doesn’t stop barking. Barks at everything. It’s winter, got bronchitis. What the fuck else is new? Why not just get stoned and wait for better days to come in the mail. And they will. Sent out a rock musical and hope it will catch on. Created the tunes at home stoned of course. Everything stoned. Nothing held back and that’s my claim to literature like henry miller did, but, well, you can’t say better. Henry Miller wrote exactly what was on his mind. No messing around. Good writer. I try and look for ways to claim that the shit that I write is a short story or something so maybe I can sell it and get some money so I don’t die of starvation or consumption or stupidity or something or just die of being plain just stoned, scared and uncared for like most people do, I think.

But what are these paths in the mind that take us places we don’t really want to go. I know that everybody must think exactly like me in the solitude of their own minds. I just happen to sometimes put it down on paper. What are they going to do to me after I’m dead for writing these pages, admitting I was stoned and lonely and a loser and lost? Everybody will just relate. It’s as simple as that and I’ll be called a great writer because it will be as if I gave my very existence for their sakes since they never had the balls to write down what they felt which was just as fucked up as what I’m writing and often write. And I hope to sell this shit because I think it might make me a few bucks because people don’t know what short stories are and sometimes pick up a magazine and see something that looks like a story, but reads like a true to life narrative, but it ain’t it’s a short story, like this one, but you don’t know your role in it. After all, if this isn’t true then there’s no need for you to read further, but if it is true and yet false, I mean, made up, then you can read on because it won’t hurt you, it won’t relate to you in a preachy way. So I propose that this is a short story about what you would write if you could write short stories and had become a writer like you probably a couple of times wished that you could become, but didn’t. I write for you. Write the shit in my mind, because you thought that you would want to get out of your mind more than you did when you were alive, but you didn’t. You died silent. But don’t worry, Christians say that is the only way to die, silent and solemn. Then you dream well. Do you believe them? I don’t. I don’t think I do anymore. My father eats and shits and watches Springer. I get stoned and write short stories that I think maybe if i’m lucky might come to me in the form of an actual short story and not pure shit of my mind and it always comes out a little bit of both and all I can do is hope that the future will look at my work as valuable so that maybe while i’m alive I can actually get a little money so I can buy some shit for my bronchitis so I don’t hack to death, so I can sell my motorcycle and get a little car so I can go out on a date and chicks won’t think i’m a total loser and maybe my life won’t be a total waste. In the meantime, it is. And I write. I write a short story for you because I think that maybe you would want it that way. You would want a short story about the process of not really knowing how to harness all of your energy to write a short story and yet having the short story called a short story anyway. Then you get the money and you can get out of your shit situation like I can get out of mine, you can turn your heat up in the winter. You can work less. You can ache less. You can deal with stupid people less and just be by yourself more and maybe get stoned in a relaxing way or sit there with a drink because you not only gave yourself a mental enema, but you got paid for it and you knew the whole thing was shit and yet you didn’t care because they all bought it. They bought that all the mental puking you did on the page was somehow worthwhile and that you showed them a little bit about the imagination, free association, the nature of literature itself and you know it’s impossible that it really is shit and only by a stroke of luck, luck such as comes only once in a lifetime, some idiot reviewer might see your piece you got lucky to place in a stupid student literary review and say that you have a style and that you’re trying to say something but he is not sure what it is although he’s willing to give you the benefit of the doubt that somehow it is meaningful. But you know that if it isn’t meaningful in a way that has meaning, or at least words to describe some aspect of the feeling which poses as meaningfulness then it is all bullshit. It’s all a scenar. It’s all a fade out. None of it matters and you’re left sitting there knowing that your game is almost up and you will be homeless soon and all the talk about how you’re a writer will be out the window to the rest of the world as soon as they see you pulling out of its garbage cans. Such is the love of the world for artists and truthtellers.
So. Points of reference become important. Some are very close to you like the scratchiness in your throat which has turned into a fever because you fell asleep on a bed and your insistence that you still get stoned and try to write because you’re so confused about what the hell you’re going to do with the rest of your life that you don’t even want to think about it anymore. Forget about larger questions, those concerning the possibility that a big hand might come out of the sky and pluck you with it’s fingernail through your chest into another dimension which you won’t ever actually see because you will already be dead by the giant fingernail through your heart just like the movie Starship Troopers. Why not admit in our movies that we are all doomed to laugh and cry and die according to the straightness of our chins and noses? The young are praised and the lucky ones, like I’m not, make a lot of money early on chins and noses. The rest of us die unseemly deaths after many years of losing faith gradually by watching ours and our loved ones bodies fall apart. We see the girls who we thought pure die slowly through alcohol or drugs or just a bad marriage. We consider how many days we actually have after we have lost the best days of our lives to time. And sometimes we smell the roses, look at the mountains and try to remember that we still must have some good days left even though we can’t pay the bills on the table and we live in Santa Barbara where the millionaires live and don’t really give a shit about the poor folk and that’s almost a fact, I can’t say a complete fact, but they sure don’t open their doors wide around here for people without a lot of money. Let’s just say the Okies wouldn’t have been warmly received in Santa Barbara. They’ll arrest you for sitting down on State Street in Quackersville. Can’t even sit on a planter waiting for a bus. Fuck them. But that is the way it is.
Fuck Clacknersberg. And I’m trying to consider this a requiem for a fantasy. As I slowly sputter out I cry out like a leper without love ever and ask for somebody to notice me as I fall slowly down, spiral down, like a boy drowning in a whirlpool or falling over the falls of Niagara unnoticed, calm one moment and down and drowned the next in a violence unheard or unconceived until as yet that point that only the boy could have ever really known until he woke up or woke up dead. I think I’m dead. No, I can’t think anymore. I think I’m dead. Where is the short story in this statement? Where’s the monetary benefits? Where the benefits for a dead man? So I’m trying to be a good Christian and pretend that I’m dead when I’m really not because the Christians say that if you’re dead you are happy and if you are alive then you are sad. They don’t need to tell me that because I already know. I just can’t get myself to kill myself and I guess I never won’t.

Published in: on November 28, 2010 at 10:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Product – a short play

Dave, Jenny, Marta, Johnny, Peter, Brenner and Janey sit together in a storefront.

Dave:

Okay. You, Brenner, you’ve got the existentialist shit, you know, the cloud of unknowing, we’re all going to die, but don’t worry be happy.

Brenner
Why do I have to be happy dying and you guys…

Peter
Because Peter will be handling that.

Brenner
You know I asked that before Peter even came along.

Peter
Look, Dave, I can give up hedonism. I could go with Epicurianism or something.

Dave
No, no, you’re covering hedonism. How the hell else are we going to…

Peter
Be bad?

Dave
Exactly. Look, some of the coolest cats in the world have tackled existentialism and come out okay: Sartre, Camus, Kierkegaard…

Brenner
I know, I know, okay.

Dave
Jenny, you’re the rationalist.

Jenny
Are there a lot of numbers?

Dave
Sometimes, but you can bring to it what you got.

Jenny
Can I make my beads?

Dave
Ask yourself.

Jenny
No.

Dave

Good. It’ll work then. Marta, you’ll be covering the darkest night thing, way beyond existentialism. This will make you ultra cool, though. Can you handle it?

Marta

I’m not sure how my mother will feel about Nihilism.

Dave
She’ll love it. Rather, don’t tell her about it. It will be okay.

Marta
Okay. I feel depressed.

Dave
Good. Johnny…

Johnny
I know. Idealism.

Dave
That’s right. It’s a sunny day. Everything is going to shit, but it’s a sunny day. We’re all going to be okay. The meteor isn’t going to hit. Cows will eventually talk to us and tell us that they like us.

Johnny
Do I have to smile.

Dave
Yes.

Johnny
I’m going to end up wearing a nametag a lot, aren’t I?

Dave
I’m afraid so, but we need you. We have to smile when Marta pipes in.

Johnny
Okay, I can see the importance in that.

Dave
What are we missing?

Jenny
What about Janey?

Dave
Janey, you’ve got all religious ecstatic motivation, got that? You got the ear of God, that sort of thing. Totally effulsive, mind blowing God exists type thing.

Janey
I feel like I’m getting bigger.

Dave
Don’t talk in tongues. At least not yet. This thing could blow out of control, but you will exist in this form. You know that you know that you know. Got it?

Janey
Hallowed be thy…

Dave
Keep it. Now. Everybody. Go!

They all sit silently not knowing what to say.

Dave:
Jenny?

Jenny:
Oh

(Jenny runs to the window and turns the open sign around. She returns and all sit once more in silence. Then the door opens. A man, Robert, walks in.)

Robert:
Hello?

Dave:
Come in. Come in. How can we help you.

Robert:
I was walking around outside and I saw your sign.

Dave:
We have no sign.

Robert:
It says “open.”

Dave:
You’re right. We have a sign.

Marta:
We can’t really help you.

Robert:
Why not?

Johnny:
(stands) Of course we can help him. Come in. What’s your name?

Robert: Robert Mayhew.

Johnny:
(Shaking his hand) Gosh, it’s good to see you, Mr. Mayhew. Isn’t it wondrous how things work out? Here you are. Here we are? The world is out there. The world is in here. But, in here, (he points to his heart) all things are possible. Wouldn’t you agree?

Marta:
That is if you believe that this turning world is not a diseased soon to be corpse patiently awaiting self styled annihilation. You see, Mr. Mayhew, we are on a downward spiral and it’s going all the way down this time. Corruption, sin, evil ways produce enough ugly corroding acid to assure that this world, including the one in your heart, will not last the millennium. Have a nice day.

Robert:
Perhaps I should go.

Dave:
Go? No, how could you go? You came in, did you not? IN has nothing to do with out and…

Robert:
Just what do you do here?
(they all just stare at him with blank looks)

Dave:
Do?

Robert:
Yes, do, what do you do here. Why am I here?

(they all look at each other)

Brenner:
May I respond?

Robert:
Of course.

Brenner: Look, I can see you came in here looking for something. I’m afraid that you’re not going to find it. There’s too much to find. Ultimately,and I know because it is a universal thing, you’re probably looking for answers, meaning, maybe even “God,” universality, foreverness, whatever. Look, how do I say this…

Robert:

Do you have a product? Maybe I’ll take one. Sure. I’ll take one. Give me one of your product.

(silence again)

Brenner:
Okay…Look, as I was saying, maybe you came in here looking for something. Maybe a “product” or something. Something to hold on to. Something tangible that will let you look at your life and feel good inside, some lasting promise about something good, some sense, maybe, that this life is not the only life we’ve got.

(janey starts to speak, but stays quiet)

Now, Janey may have a different opinion on the matter and I can respect that, but in forming the business we, I think, and I don’t know how it could be refuted, it is evident that the product that you seek would not make you happy because attached to every product is the promise of that product’s demise. Do you see? You are really, I’m sorry, wasting your time here because, really, nothing lasts. But that’s okay! That’s okay!

Robert:
Then I guess I’ll go then.

Peter:
Wait!

Robert:
You have no business, you have no product, yet the product I would have purchased here had you had one would not have satisfied me anyway. So I guess I’ll go…

Peter:
Wait. Wait. You can’t take his word for it. You cast aside something that does not work, namely, buying a non-existent product and what do you have left? That’s right…a reason to totally party!

(Dave, Brenner and Peter break out in guttural laughter. Janey, Jenny, Johnny and Marta remain silent)

Robert:
Right. I gotta go.

Dave:
Wait. Wait. We’ve got something for you.

(he scans the people in the room and then nods nervously to Janey.

Janey:

Thank you (relieved). Hello, Robert.

Robert:

Hello.

Janey:
Robert?

Robert:
Yes.

Janey:
I love you.

Dave:
There’s something. We’ll find it guys. We’ll find it. There’s gotta be a product somewhere that we have. Something.

Marta:
Prostitution is as good a way to go as any, I guess.

Janey: I love you with my width. I love you with my height. I love you with my morning. I love you with my night. I love you when all love seems withered. I love you if you don’t love yourself. Imagine a universe of holy love. By being here you are inside of this universe. Your soul floats on the starwagon hitched to eternity.

Marta:
Oh, Christ. You think, guys? You think? What are the odds…wait for it…

Janey: oh lalabadanallallapoalapolafolawalaoshkalasa…(speaking in tongues)

Marta: (singing) and we all go down together…

Dave:
Janey….Janey!

(Janey wakes up from her trance)

Janey:
Do you see, Robert? Perhaps you can call almighty, universal Love the only “product” that you need. I can.

Peter: Here here, as long as you share it with your friends.

Marta: You holdin?

Peter: Hell yeah!

(Peter goes for his stash, but notices the stern disapproving look of Jenny. Instead, he and Marta run offstage together)

Robert:
Why do I feel…

Jenny:
Confused?

Robert:
Yeah, confused. That’s it.

Jenny:
That’s normal. If you think of the amount of confusion that you deal with on a daily basis you will soon come to realize and see the threads that if you follow will lead you out of your confusion. Regardless of what some people think, there are things to know. The basic process of living is enough to keep your mind occupied happily throughout a typical day. You really don’t need much more than this: Life, Love and Happiness. But you’ve got to start somewhere. You’ve first got to get your ducks in a row. Make sure everything you do is going to get you somewhere. If you don’t you’re going to get stuck and then if what Janey says or anybody else is true then you will have come to it on your own. Just keep your eyes open, Robert.

Robert:
Miss…

Jenny:
Jenny.

Robert:
Jenny, you make sense. Can I ask you then, what exactly can I buy here?

(Jenny looks at him with a blank stare in her eye)

Dave:
That’s not important right now, Robert. There is something to buy, I’m sure of it.

(Peter and Marta return. Stoned)

Peter: Sure we’ve got something to buy.

Dave:
We’re selling, Peter.

Peter:
Selling now? Oh. We’ve got something to sell. Imagine it, Robert. Starting with a nice 1972 rieseling to compliment the Oyster Marmaduke in a slightly reversed onion and tangerine sauce. Beef Wellington and asparagus tips sautéed or braised, your choice, in an eastern Ethiopian frame of which I could speak all day followed by a port so influenced by the French that the Italians after years and years of trying finally outdid it. Of course I’m talking about Dell’callabrezia, oh 1982, possibly 1983, followed by hand rolled spliffs from seeds imported from Holland and grown in cat feces, I know, I know, it sounds horrible, but the high…

Marta:
I can attest to that.

Dave:
Robert, of course we aren’t selling drugs.

Robert:
You’re a restaurant then?

Dave:
No.

Robert:
He’s high, right.

Dave:
You got it.

Robert:
Then what? What! What am I doing here? I’ve gotta go.

Dave:
Wait!

(Dave jumps up and does a quick dance number before sitting back down.)

Dave:
You like? You like?

(Robert says nothing)

Johnny:
God, Robert, it’s all right here! The future starts now as they say and the heights that you can climb if you only start when the world wants you to start! Instead of doing this or that, battling that thought against that thought and always spinning your wheels, just accept that life is Good. Got it! Life is there for you. It’s as high as the sky and this future does not need a nice meal or a good joint to make it a real fact as long as you embark. Take off! Go! Be with You and all things will come. Your loves will appear to you and the next step will always be followed by another and one day, one day, Robert, you will quite simply, be sitting on a cloud.

Marta:
Or in burning embers.

Janey:
And his Eyes will behold you and His demeanor will state to all that you are worthy for the entering of the light and once the light is shining upon you the world will bow to the goodness of your soul until you disappear into the light and all questions will have been answered. Nothing else will ever be needed again.

(she closes her eyes and is about to speak in tongues again.)

Dave:
Janey.

(Janey opens her eyes, smiles, and acquiesces to the request not to speak in tongues.)

Marta:
So your sitting on a cloud, right? Robert, listen. So you’re sitting on a cloud and God comes up to you and sees you. You maybe masturbated earlier that day and maybe cursed your neighbor because your neighbor is brain dead and deserves to be cursed and then suddenly it’s like wham! Off you go. No more. Sayonara. No more high rise cloud living for you. Down you go. Falling. Falling. Seven, eight, nine miles until you land flat on your back in the land of the doomed. It was nice to think that you could make it to the cloud planet but ultimately you’re just like the rest of us imperfect specimens avoiding points from a pitchfork and watching full time the type of things that got you in hell in the first place.

Brenner:
Hell is other people.

Marta:
Not for Robert it won’t be. For Robert it will be full time anguish. Gnashing of teeth. Ticks, electric shocks, abject fear, blackness, death fucking death fucking death. It’s not going to be nice.

Brenner:
Robert, at least you don’t have to believe in fairy tales while you’re here. We may not have a product.

Dave:
We have a product!

Brenner:
Okay, maybe we don’t know if we have a product.

Dave:
We have a product!

Jenny:
Well, technically, Dave, while we have a lot of desire to have a product we don’t really, as of this moment, anyway…

Dave:
Sssh!

Brenner:
Okay, we have a product, but right now…anyway, if you want to listen to Nihilist Nancy over there I can go get you a rope from the store right now and you can answer all of your questions yourself.

Janey:
Go on, Brenner, testify.

Brenner:
Or if you go to Saint Janey’s school of perpetual elation you’ll end up being as dumb as an ox. No, listen. There is a product, but it isn’t what you think. The product is…Now. Eat, drink and be merry la la la for tomorrow we die.

Peter:
That’s what I’m talkin’ about. But it’s a science, man. A goddamned science!

Marta:
I need a new rat.

Robert:
I see. I see. Well, thank you. I really must be going.

Dave:
Wait!

(Dave jumps up and goes off stage. He comes back with a dirty rag)

Dave:
Here. Here it is. Here’s our product, Robert. Thank you for your patience with my salespeople. It’s a rather new staff that I’m still mostly training.

Robert:
You’re joking, right?

Dave:
No, no, not at all. This isn’t what you think it is.

Robert:
It’s not a rag with oil stains on it?

Dave:
No, not at all.

Johnny:
It is an emblem of all that you can be when you wipe clean your past and start anew.

Brenner:
It is a testimony to the fact that you will not be a victim to nothingness after you have asserted yourself into the truth about life, that you are born to die, but that shouldn’t put a damper on things now should it? You will still have this as soon as your personal assertion is made. There are really very few, if any, products like this one.

Janey:
It is what you will use to wipe the feet of the Universal One when your time comes. It is the flag of surrender that you will need more than anything else when all spiritual embodiment comes to compliment your hereafter. It is a valuable lifeline.

Marta:
It could sop up your blood when I kill you.

Dave:
Marta!

Marta:
Oh, never mind.

Jenny:
It’s a rag…

(Dave gives her a stern look)

A very nice rag if you ask me.

Peter:
It’s a start, you see, when you harvest there needs to be a certain amount of moisture held within the soil and by placing this over the cat mixture essential nutrients will remain. This is how it is done in the casino districts of Somalia.

Dave:
There you have it. It’s only a dollar.

Robert:
You sold me. I’ll take it.

(Dave hands Robert the rag)

Robert:
Thank you, Thank you. I’ve so wanted a rag just like this. Well, gotta be going. Appointment at four. Thanks again. Bye bye.

(Robert exits. The group sits around and says nothing)

Dave:
(to Marta disgusted) I need a new rat…

Published in: on November 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm  Leave a Comment