Friday, January 12, 2007


We live in a community overrun by a liberal arts university. The Pulitzer committee is in town.

There is one of the ravers downtown who has attracted notice. She blares and babbles all the day long down on the main street, and her virtue is, no one can understand her. Abstraction is, after all, the roiling thunder in currents betoking depth. She is thus a postmodern marvel.

She is writing into her journal when she is not raving. Furiously scribbling, as if settling old scores. Apparently the university press has published some of her writings in one volume, and then they marketed it all around as a sop to the uneducated street masses, saying in their meetings, we must overcome our elitism by supporting these lowly dregs sometimes. The journal is supposed to be better than Jacques Derrida. She's a natural genius, they are saying. She will most likely win a Pulitzer. Wonder if she'll bathe in Sweden.

I find the book at a booth in a street fair for thirteen dollars, which I don't have. The husband of Heidi, a bookseller classmate of our boys in real time, is the merchant. Here, just wait, I say; Niki J will be along shortly. She'll have the price. I take the book and now it's up to me to pay, only I cannot until my loving lady returns.

There she is now, down the block, entering the square. I hustle over to solicit funds … only … it ain't her! How embarrassing.

Now I have the book and still haven't paid for it. I take the auto now. I don't know why. The road leads up a very steep incline. I will park up here. That's best. I don't know why that either. I will park in this space in front of a building which has obviously burned very recently.

Okay, I think to myself. I'm parked up the hill from the street fair with a book by a postmodern genius I haven't paid for, in front of a burned-out building, after mistaking my wife for a stranger, and none of these various parts hang together. Nothing relates to anything else. I don't even know why I bought, or made as if to buy, the book.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

DIY Transplant

It is like changing out a hard disc unit. I just don't know how deep to cut, is all.
A friend needs a heart transplant.

I just don't know how deep to cut. So I say, maybe we should consult my cardiologist?
His name is Hauser. We are in the habit of traveling up and down the Peninsula, Menlo Park and Redwood City and Cupertino and Palo Alto. In the night, we go up and down, seeking the next party.

I arrive at the apartment, with an anonymous friend. His lady is there, and she goes back to what she was doing when she realizes it isn't more interesting company. We catch a glimpse of her in the hall. She seems terminally bored. It's her relation, after all, who needs the new ticker. A son or brother. She is unconcerned. Best not to be too anxious, I think, in these circumstances.

I don't know how deep to cut, I say. I'll call my own doctor, I say. She asks, where's his office? She's worried about the toll call. Oh, Menlo Park, I say.

We call him. He is a slipshod sort of doctor. He walks into the apartment and he collapses onto the carpet in the living room. Hua-Vac, he says. That's the name of the artificial heart we need. There are so many brands. Skil, Block & Decker. Okay, solid, I say. Hua-Vac. I'm glad to have expert help.

He moseys on out. It's just that, I still don't know how deep to cut. Maybe I should've asked him that?

"It was a fifteen cent toll call," says the bored lady.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Mask

We travel, all of us, always traveling. Someone has an auto and recognizes the responsibility of carrying as many of us as the vehicle will hold down that road. When we stop, we always lay down on our backs like troops on bivouac. Just lie down and wait until someone else comes by with another auto.

Someone does. He has a superb ride and he intends a major trek, out of the way, beyond anything we have yet seen. All of us at this particular stop in time decline in unison. It's risky, and what's the purpose? After all, traveling is all we do, so why add to it an elaborate journey to an unknown location? We remain as we are, lying and waiting.

Me and Chico, we're to the movies now. We are in Zacatecas. We sit and we watch. The Spanish is surprisingly clear to me, and Chico is fluent.

This is Alejandro Rey onscreen, a noble of some sort, and he presents what appears to be an ancient mask to a dealer in antiquities, who glances at it and immediately announces it is a fake.

"You can tell by the eyes, you see," and he indicates, but Rey is glowering. The one who sold him the artifact has left the country, but he must be found, for all that. Nobody puts one over on Alejandro Rey.

The hero strides to the door, pauses, turns back. Freeze frame. There's no reason for him to be standing and facing the camera at a slight left profile. It's only because that's his good side, and also the composition is used on the marquee to sell the picture.

Outside now, there is a Mercado, well lit, with rows of tables. Me and Chico, we roam the tables. The stalls are along the sides with the tables in the center. I see now it is a mess area. We take a tray and sit.

It isn't very palatable, nor nourishing either, I think. Everyone around seems depressed. So am I. This is supposed to be exciting, exotic, but it is, I must admit to myself and no other, rather boring. We are sitting in a dining hall not very different from the one in our old grade school.
I rise and visit the shops along the fringes of the mess hall. There are varieties of goods, none of them well-made nor interesting. I roam through the stalls.

I cannot locate Chico back in the hall now. He isn't where we were seated before. Has he left me again? (In waketime, during our first hitchhiking On the Road trip together when I was 18, we were back in Dallas after visiting New Orleans, near brother Joey's apartment, and I said, "Wait, I'll leave my rucksack with Joey; the parents will be over tomorrow..." and I go off to do that. But when I come back to the road where I had left Chico, he had in the meanwhile been offered a ride the seventy miles home and jumped at it.)

I must see about going back home, I'm thinking. If he is gone, then how am I to manage that? I slowly pass through the mess hall, thinking, I'm alone now. I must think.