On the Free One-Way Trip to China

—not Miss Sweetie, No, no; she is only yours. Yes only yes only yes only yes. Worry, worry, worry and worry, why worry when what’s worried about will wear to less than a nub, then gone. Sure; pause a moment. This can’t be; yes, yes, that is it. Close your eyes and shut me out, says the wide round dark cylinder overflowing with worries that are not really there. Ah, good. Yes, that’s right. Teeth painful and throbbing from gnashing hard through the thick brush of wood-ticks, mosquitoes, and drenching hot sweats all night, at last can rest. See, it’s true, it couldn’t be that bad. There’s no need for that last push to rake up and bag what the teeth sliced through and away and let fall to the grass all behind. Garbage. Garbage. Nothing could cause so much garbage. Thank God there will be no more. The place to put it was almost full. There was never any garbage at all, actually; it was just a cheap, overly long play, perfectly performed as though almost real, but now past the bushes any size or strength of grey-brain can see that it was all just make believe on a false stage set under the kliegs. So, this is when the stage crew pulls the rope that glides the curtains together, and this is when the actors’ eyes are all supposed to pop open and pull back away, and there goes the stage, sliding, pulling over the dark of the bedroom before the cast, who breathe deep sighs of relief. Wow, hey, shit. It wasn’t real. But the last tiny words from the last tiny bushes lying on the grass, cut and dying, need to be all heard before the last word opens the last set of eyes. These are yours. It will take the words forever to open the eyes, yes it will, there’s ages to go, this is a nice peaceful breather of a spot, nice warm words goose-bumping cold that will pry loose for many years, surely, Listen, the words say, life’s just one big moment. Eternity holds its breath; life starts and stops; then eternity exhales and strolls on. That’s what the Doctor said. That’s a healthy way of seeing all around as life rolls by, one sidewalk concrete square after another. Life is one big dog-walk. It’s a quest to find the perfect dog, and the perfect way to walk. That’s all your desires boil down to, in the end. The end is meaningless when one has got everything that one ever desired. The fun ride is over. The play park gates will be shut up locked. You got to just pull your head out of the mud right now, wipe the stench from in your hair with the towel handed you by the surprise of an attendant, and as you search for coins to pay the attendant this unexpected tip, this last fact razes everything that’s gone before. Up until just before eternity exhales as a factory bell-buzzer signals the blue-men, it must be time to go. The everyday mortal invisible tripwires have all been avoided. There were close calls, but just brushes they were. The tip? Huh? Something about a tip what, where, oh well; there’s no need to tip the sudden frozen dripping-with-thaw-water chocolate bird, whose left wing brushed down over a sun-sized solid brass ball all hung there. In one hundred years the wing will brush again. And over and over until the ball is worn to a point so small it just quivers and evaporates. The bird brushes once more and thinks the ball is still there. The one-eyed bird blinking, brushing down once every hundred years forever, until the bird is so far ahead no one could possibly see it again. Has it been taken and will not need to brush down again? Or is it just too far away to see? That’s a good question. Yes, class. That’s a good question. Anybody know the answer, class? If you think you know the answer raise your hand. Come on, come on. A guess at least?

What? Hey! No questions? What kind of class is this? Holes for eyes are in all sixty-five young students. All the holes expand, growing together, pulling up inky liquid from way deep inside. The best potters let the clays form themselves. Deep under water, it’s dark and confusing on which way is up. Follow the feeling of that air bubble to the surface above which again panic settles in; what panic, why panic? These shut eyes can’t see anything to fear. Just still, solid absence of noise. Too hollow to stab, cut, hit, kick, or curse. Curse is a word. Sure it is. Curse. Curse. Curse, but a breath must be taken, eyes must pop open, taken breath, opened eyes, taken breath, and open eyes, sure; the truth’s icy bare curved steel which, after all that, is still around.

The watched water never boils. Never. And at the never point here, panic sets in, but—don’t yell. Oxygen, don’t use up oxygen; please don’t yell. Please, my face, pray for me in the Church lobby before mass. After six o’clock Mass, wander out. Been in there too long and prayed perfectly knifelike to everything; each sit, stand, and Kneel also, done perfectly, precisely. Life is over, you say, Peter? Life is really over, but how can it be still marching? How can the ball have been thrown when here it is palmed tight and hot? If the boots were thrown in the fire, why do I hear them marching? No, no, no, not! Life over; step by step, extreme panic builds, breaks through, explodes, but words come, a will to keep it back. Quiet, relax. What’s living? What’s dying? What’s this horrible in-between place? Why be given life if it’s going to end like this? Honest, out of school childhood, sweetheart can’t get work, no no no no, no interviews please, no, none, no, not; we just got time to get down and go in the daily laborer pool.

Run down the steps with shoes just half on; when kneeling, the good book says, do not lean your butt back on the pew to rest. No, never do it. Like in Catholic School, the large, mysterious, frightening, black-draped being of a nun that wanders and watches, and would poke any boy on the side that it caught dozing or leaning their butt on the pew, kept the class honest, and will single you out. The have to shit bell is rung, and the need to piss bell is rung, but; need to go, as taught; get there, as taught; can get out to a rest room to go, but how? Oh, sure, how about I ask this other guy waiting on the corner across from the Dunkin’ Donuts I’m suddenly at for the thousandth time, whose name is Lucas.

On the hit list to the rubout is where he is, sure, says Lucas, talking to one of the other regular gang of guys waiting for day work on the street. The other guy is a large man named Walter, uh, oh, but can’t go into that now because I feel I have peed myself in my pants, cripes almighty. Need to leave, get new pants, sound stiff as if rolling around the steel drum—what steel drum? no God, no—stay where you’re at, smile at Lucas.

Lucas! Hey Lucas. Big wind today, eh?

Oh sure, sure, says Lucas, turning from Walter—and he goes on to rattle off, Hey man, do you know it is a fact that every fetus begins urinating into the womb very early, and, once started, pees every forty or forty-five minutes? So, don’t worry about it. We understand. We can see your—well, your problem. No need to hide it. If I were you, I would do the same thing, what the hell. Go on to the bathroom in Dunkin’. They won’t make you buy anything.

But, Lucas, it’s not just the periodic wish to pee. It seems like mere pee, but it’s actually a wish to not ever have been born. If I could go back and catch mother and father copulating, I would stop them like dogs and yell, No, don’t do that, don’t, you are condemning me to this! It would be far better for me to have never lived. Please, please, Mother, do not give me birth! Be like me, I cannot do it. Half the world can do it, and half cannot. I know, I know. So, in this handwritten letter I can truly say, I am developing okay. Why had I felt myself urinate, she replied? So in honor of my long gone Mother, I opened my eyes, and Lucas and Walter and Mother and all went totally flat black mixed with absolute silence, and my hands moved feeling everything all around; just in the dark we felt hard cold curved steel, and the flat under me was a puddle of something, I didn’t know what until the urine smell from the flat bottom strengthened, and I struggled to feel down in the dark, and everything, yes, everything below me was drenched; bad, bad, bad; bad was all around; see what I mean, Mother? Oh, please, please, Mother, do not condemn me!

Men, a BAC level of point thirteen to point thirty percent leads to this stage, which borders on alcohol poisoning after consuming an unreasonable number of drinks in just one hour. And, the resultant confusion gives way to emotional upheaval and extremes. Coordination is markedly impaired, to the extent that the person may not be able to stand up, may stagger if walking, and may be completely confused about what’s going on. So, watch your drivin’, goin’ in!

Yes! He has. Yes!

My dear God, yes God, I can stretch, stand, sure; it’s a miracle to be able to walk, God I am stiff as shit, where was I, where was I, think where I left off, before the—don’t say it. Keep it like it is that there’s no barrel all dark and cold and around anymore. No need to say it anymore because it’s gone and over. Good God—no more a horrid dying body. God was wise to make us so there’s no feeling after death because being dead must be unbelievably painful. The boss’ speech told multiple times that those in this stage of intoxication are highly likely to forget things that happen to or around them. Blacking out without actually passing out can happen at this stage.

That’s all it was, was blackout. No death right behind. No more steel, side, top, bottom sealed I guess, no more holding my breath and closing my eyes to make it now never had happened!

Yes, Mackie!

God, yes, go on!

Yes, you may begin to feel your baby move, since he or she is developing muscles and exercising them. This first movement is called quickening—say Johnny, is that it? You feeling your insides quickening? What, you trying to give birth to yourself? Huh? That does not work, Johnny—hey, boys, what you think—should we let him go or what? Should we, what, hey!? As is, he’s a fourteen-point-eight percent chance of survival. And about half of these survivors are brain-damaged, either by lack of oxygen in the airless moist womb, or too much oxygen from the ventilator. Funny they save them, then just let them die again; but, no time to talk more. Everything’s around, everywhere cold and solid. Still living, yes living, but the solid steel walls are—no, can’t know. Don’t know. It’s not, there’s still a way out. Listen, no more heavy thought. Sleepy. Go on, sleep, you want to sleep—gone over gone over gone—going too sleepy to care. But, what’s that? That’s Mackie. Where is this? Still the toast? My God, any time closed eyes come, up shoots the crazy toast again.

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