[ fiction - may 11 ]
When you do the same thing every day, it gets really nutso. Even berserk. I sit at the window, picking at a blemish, concentrating on traffic outside, seeing streams of vehicles, many I’ve seen two or three times during the past hour. They’re psychologically torturing me, those anonymous vehicles. Staring, blending my mind into the eventual blur of nothingness, Char perches foremost in my thoughts, turning zeroness into meaning.
We were last together in a clean, well-lit restroom at a large market, our secret meeting place, secret because no audios and videos penetrated the walls. Some sort of material from moon rock maybe, surrounded us and others. Or, only you and I are protected. We talk in our natural voices, using genuine gestures, familiar facial expressions we never revealed behind walls meant for privacy.
“Sometimes I think it’s a big joke,” Char says, tangled hair no longer seen on youtube, her high-pitched laugh, a risible squeal can’t be heard on facebook. “I pick my nose thoroughly, eat waffles and tofu sandwiches, crawl beneath the sheets thinking of your warm hand traveling across my naked body, dream of men in sport uniforms doling out food and $10 bills to computer engineers and chimney sweeps, then get up at healthy sunrise, calling you on the cell phone, visualizing you, Skip, staggering under the shower, dreaming you’re riding an elephant across the Serengeti, taking photos of herds of wildebeests, knowing nothing about natural habitats, then flashing them from Africa to me, and when I see your blackened big toe dripping with water, I understand that only a person with early stages of Alzheimer’s disease would do that. It’s then you become my lover, that big, hypochondriac soul of yours all the more plangent and though the pressure from an overdriven mania about being observed and heard all the time hasn’t warped your Skipness, the Skip I’ve come to love, you’re under siege by those you call criminals, you’ve hung in there, vowing never to be plundered from the earth.”
“Don’t you love these echoes? Damn, this washroom is cool. It’s better than being in an armored truck, not filled with hundreds of thousands dollars, but seated inside its protection zone, whether imagined or not, sealed off from the world as Predator drones blast children and enemies to kingdom come. I gotta use Christian terminology, I’m the nostalgic type,” I say.
“I want to kill the fucks.”
“Me, too, Char.”
We’ve had this conversation before, and it’s gone viral, you and I have had our essences stolen from us for our so-called crimes against the state.
Hans Fallada showed how simple postcards placed around Berlin, its messages telling Germans that war was futile, lead not to toppling the regime but succumbing to personal deaths and squabbles among Berliners both in State hierarchies and among everyday citizens. I haven’t finished the novel. Maybe it’s not precisely that but I’ll know later. If it’s something contrary or opposite of my interpretation it’s because it’s hard to have two contrary thoughts in your mind if you’re not a genius.
I told you that I applied for a MacArthur genius grant for all those experimental books of poetry I’d published but when the MacArthur Foundation denied my request, with one word written on a postcard in bold black letters, PYSCHOTIC, I cried, tears streaming down my face like a volcanic lava flow until I realized I was the reincarnated Otto Quangel of Fallada’s novel.
I enjoy talking freely so I repeat the obvious. Things get screwgy after a while with surveillance so tight. We both know that. I began sending postcards: “STOP TERRORIZING US. IT’S NONE OF YOUR CONCERN. I’M WARNING YOU. I’LL GET EVEN, BLOWING UP YOUR FIRE DEPARTMENT” - that’s a typical postcard. I, then you joined in later, placed them in strategic locations around a small town I fictionally named Arcata, California, though, in fact, it’s an all too real town in northern California (see its website ) where it’s forbidden to place postcards within any building or public space within its city limits (see Penal Code 8/009, Section C7, Index 1468990, Paragraph 4.7, Sentences R + 3 squared - you’ll need a magnifying glass for the microscopic print).
Though the history of banned books, how they’ve been deemed contraband throughout American history and, later, always read by millions, here in Arcata not only are vapid, tame, insignificant written words on postcards banned but also there’s a law, really more a papal bull, against selling Fallada’s “Every Man Dies Alone” here. That, my friend and lover, Char, is why we are under surveillance 24/7, that’s why they hate us, why we’re the only one whose rectums are photographed by a nano-camera in our toilets’ water molecules, the photos generated are seen in all Arcata’s citizens’ TV screens 13 times daily. After our shits are analyzed by Humboldt State University here in town, the results are flashed to Area 51, ninety miles north of Las Vegas, where our two genetic codes are a necessary component remotely piloting Predator drones to any point in the world, slaughtering enemies and innocent civilians, who the hell cares, and that’s why you and I are essential for wars to be carried out with techno stealth.
Readers of Fallada’s novel are suspect. His novel is not banned anywhere on earth except in Arcata, and while wars committed by unmanned aerial vehicles need our shit, our lives must be terrorized night and day, driving us mad, making us paranoid, enabling them to create delusions of freedom, i.e., whenever we walk around town on errands or for exercise, thinking our every step is taken because we have chosen our feet and body to move down one block rather than another, our destinies are pre-determined by a special unit beneath the police station. I call their location the Catacombs. There, all Arcata’s copies of Fallada’s novel are stored.
I knew a man by the name of Otto Quangel, my grandfather. Char, and you know this, I’m reiterating because our memories have been tinkered with by the Catacomb’s neurobiologists. Your grandmother was Anna Quangel. The filthy secret is we survived the concentration camps as children, The SS passed over us. Where do you think the celebration and worship during Passover came from? From the camps. History ain’t what it seems, we’re not what we seem outwardly.
The National Socialist German Workers’ Party has been around for thousands of years.
They were in the Bible’s Genesis, written second in Hebrew but first in Quangelese. Adam and Eve were actually the Quangels. Thousands and thousands of generations have passed, probably millions if you interrupt Genesis to mean the first Homo sapiens, the first human consciousness.
Our normal usage was seven minutes in the restroom, our underground. You only get that much time and then older men with prostrate troubles bang on the thick door. This restroom was made especially for folks like us, troublemakers who refuse to knuckle under and not throw away our lives, never repenting for all our alleged spontaneous bodily actions and brainwaves. Crescendos of our violent profanity all for the sake of crashing down those who’d destroy us just because we blew up the Statue of Liberty and killed a few dozen armed soldiers… As descendants of Quangel our genes speak to us, telling our inner selves that everything in the USA requires destruction, informed rearrangement.
Suddenly, the door flung open. Two members of Arcata’s special forces grab us, handcuff us, then place us in solitary confinement in the Catacombs. Thankfully, a younger member of the force, a lieutenant, interrogated us, and he, of Quangel lineage, wrote the words you’ve just read. “Quangelism” is ghostwritten. We’re ghosted out of history.
But, because we are dead, no more UVAs exist anymore. Without our shit, the fucks couldn’t use them any longer.