Category: Episode 26

Episode 26

Episode 26….Deconstruction….couldn’t have come at a better time.  It rides the coattails of an old death, a birthday, and a new death in my life.  The triangulation of these things makes it ripe for the deconstruction of a psyche to happen.  You will read a series of 8 pieces that I hope will display every reach of the meaning of deconstruction.  As always, I hope you read them all in a row because they are arranged to be read that way.  You can go back and hit up your favorites later.
I would like to introduce four new writers to the In Between Altered States family:  Chris Mansel, Doree Weller, Tyler Gates, and Taylor Saldarriaga.
A big ups to the repeat offenders who keep laying it on me:  Joseph Bouthiette Jr, Kyle Hemmings, Ed Go and Robert Vaughan.

Thanks for reading.



Black and white children, not from ethnicity but from lack of color, as if they stepped from an old movie screen into this world of golden wheat and baby blue skies, race through these rolling hills and fields, baskets bouncing against their hips from the crook of their elbows. They hold bleached blonde rose petals, which the colorless children toss haphazardly into the wind and they flit about them like confetti.

The children, expressing no color, also produce no sound, and so the man made of skin hardly acknowledges he’s surrounded until there’s a pain in the back of his right thigh. The children riot about him, pulling scissors and scalpels and kitchen knives from deep in their baskets and cutting at him, peeling away his patchwork skin that, unlike their own, shines across the spectrum of humanity with tans and browns and olives. They cut at the sutures holding his patches of skin together as he tries to escape their onslaught, but to no avail. As his skin is pulled away, another layer is exposed, and another; the man made of skin is, or was, just that: skin upon skin upon more skin.

His struggling becomes weaker as his form is lost, limbs deconstructed, his torso shed away. The children tear until there is no solid mass left, then take the patches of skin and, with wet smacks, slap it onto their bland forms, creating vibrant, relative to their prior state, atrocities.

The newly skinned children continue their frolicking, now full of laughter, bubbling with glee tinged with malice. Their trail is further displayed as the rose petals in their baskets, as well as in the surrounding fields, take on scarlet pigments.

In their zeal, the children missed the deep fuchsia maggot that fell from the center of the man made of skin and buried itself in the ground. It is blind now, but will soon develop the ability to see red. It will discover the petals on the surface and make a snail’s run after its former itself. But for now, it waits.

It always waits.

He spent his hours in the evening in front of the computer his hands and sometimes his arms shaking. Brief seizures plagued him until the Grand Mal’s came. He also experienced severe headaches which reckoned him, not because of the pain but in moments of absolute despair he wondered if it had something to do with the diagnosis of psychotic depression. He didn’t like to talk about it with too many people but perhaps talked about it too much to his wife who sometimes reminded him that he should be positive about his condition. He was doing better in this area but the struggle like the blank screen in front of him was paralyzing in his eyes. It was not an easy time of it.

He needed to work on the story he hoped to sell and make some money on but he usually found himself working on rather disturbing confessional poetry. Revealing bits of himself in each line that others weren’t aware of. He hears voices, and he sees thing that aren’t actually there. At one time he wrote down what the voices said but it became too disturbing. A word he has come to think of as a friend. He’s sees each poem as a living will or so he thinks. He might be wrong. He waits for the voices to tell him different. Sometimes it happened just that quick. Other times they waited until he rose from his chair and he stumbled as they howled.

He began to type a few words and instantly he knew he would delete them. He did this over and over until he knew it was worthless to try until the inspiration came. He almost never found his way into a piece without it but accidents happen. Fuck the old saying about lightning striking. That cliche was for those who had a life that wasn’t plagued with his problems. He picked up a copy of Georges Bataille’s Visions of Excess. The book was a kind of a security blanket to him. He poured over the text again and again and again. He identified with Bataille in more ways than he wanted to admit. He wasn’t sure about that statement. More than he wanted to admit, he could admit all he wanted if he kept it to himself. Every time he read about the beatings Bataille suffered from his father it made his body tighten. He knew this kind of thing well. At that moment he thought about the dream he had the night before

Whenever Chinatsu sees her lover crying in the face of rain, she turns colorless. In this way she cannot be mistaken for sad. Or she becomes the wind, thinking I want nothing to do with flighty boys, their bipolar destinies. On a clear day, after Chinatsu has made impossible promises with the sun in her eyes, men fall from the sky like planes with rusted parts. Skittering, searching each individual fire, she discovers the body of her boyfriend. No longer afraid of being burned, she picks up his remains, carries him across the poppy fields. He is lighter than she. Lighter than rain.

She picked at it the same way she picked at chipped nail polish.  It wasn’t that it didn’t work.  It did… too well, and she needed to know why.  He called it things like chemistry and fate.  She hated words with meanings she couldn’t see.  If it was chemistry, she should be able to measure it, predict the reactions.  He laughed when she said that, and told her she didn’t understand.

Usually so calm, she wanted to scream that of course she didn’t understand, which was why she asked the question in the first place.

If we can’t measure it, we can’t keep it.

It’ll be fine.  You worry too much, he said.  Some questions have no answers.

All questions have answers.  Sometimes they’re the wrong ones, but it’s important to at least ask, explore, theorize.

He didn’t want to argue, but couldn’t answer.  Mostly he shook his head and laughed a little.

She liked to hear him laugh but wanted to understand why he was laughing.  Was he laughing at her?

Eventually… eventually he didn’t laugh at the questions anymore.  He scowled and didn’t argue.  But turned away.

See, she said.  See.  I knew it couldn’t work if you couldn’t measure it, couldn’t see it.

He asked her, Do you know what a self-fulfilling prophecy is?

I know what it means, but I don’t believe in it.

You should, he said.  You should.

little girls’ legs

When first they found them strewn about the canyon and up and down the highway it was assumed to be the work of a single perverted miscreant. Still attached to each other—hips and waists intact—moguls attacked the situation for sitcom material to forge a tome of visual recreants giving birth to national culture and pop, but when the first little nubbin’s—discovered in a covered cover uncovered west of the west end projects—picture was posted the whole project was postponed for something more crimescenic. Oh my! said the little lamb to the gimphorse, these taste like nuggets dipped in mother’s milk, or cows’ brine, or semisweet gone sour. . .

Apple Butter

rosary. Rose-marie. In the jungle. In sweatpants. Thwack of the tse-tseslap; smack of a whip. Whip of a tail. Orangutan. Wildebeest. Adidas and Gazelle. The last line of insects a circle round the camp. Fire. Cans unopened. With a rock and a stick, an ape in a mask. By a dungheap the water; by the bottle a glass. Vino. A bra and glasspipe. Broken glass. In the slag of a skinnydip and the bone of the bonobo.  A lemur.  A mango.  A taffeta remnant by the moonlit sheet. Mosquito net and brim; thread of a horsehair. In the sorry of a torch; in the fire.  With a slingshot.  In a jungle.  In nothing. Ave Maria, sweet swell of the.

What the Gimphorse Said

onlydalonly, da loosnin’ lulu, loast in da loam, da lack o’ da lock; loop-di-loop! loop-di-loop! loop-di-loop! lo&behol’ da fewah da mowa! da maxim iz mosim—da happen iz happen! oooohhhhliddle ladle, whe way go to da jayhow now—hoo way goan gloam fo’ da gleemeen’wha da do dat——liddle ladle diddle dadle————tekeli-li!! tekeli-li!!

You wake up, hard. You are handcuffed to something. You are naked. Your sore eyes adjust to the dim light and an overwhelming sense of horror fills your gut. You are cuffed to a thick pole constructed out of rusty box cutter blades and other razors all welded together. You look up, it goes on forever. You look down your at the edge of a hole, it goes on forever. You are covered in some type of grease, your skin itches. Someone forces you down, you can feel their hands on your back as they push you.

You begin to fall.

You want to scream. Your mouth is bound with duct tape. You have light-bulbs stuffed in between your cheeks. You can feel the glass break between your teeth. As you fall you bounce and skid against the razor blade pole. The razors are rusty, your skin snags and hooks against the dull, bent blades. The perfectly placed duct tape keeps the powdered glass safely in your mouth.

You fall forever.

Your face, neck, chest, stomach, and inner thighs all become a mess of bloody pulp. You have a mixture of grease and blood in your eyes. Despite this you can see that the hole you’re falling down is artificial, it consists entirely of television sets. They all broadcast your descent. The televisions zoom in on your face. Your face is so mutilated you look like something else, the person you once where has been shaved away. Piece by piece, chunk by chuck you are nothing left, but the bone, the gristle. You are nothing but table scraps for something less than the family dog.

Suddenly and in the harshest way possible the soles off your feet dig into the pole hard, it slows you down. You stop and scream using what little oxygen you still carry and almost as suddenly as it began, you wake up, breathing heavy. Staring at the ceiling you watch rain water drip through the cracks in the ceiling.

A man on the street gave her a sentence. He spoke into a headset that she barely noticed, and, on second thought, that she might’ve imagined, because it wouldn’t make sense that someone who took the trouble to wear a tie would be careless enough to speak to himself in public. Really, then, the sentence was less a gift than a coincidence.

She went home to share her found phrase, but each person she told dismissed it as unremarkable. So she began to think it wasn’t a sentence the man had given her, but a way of saying it.

She stood at the mirror and practiced, molding her mouth with her fingers, her cheeks with her palms, pinching her eyes until she was looking at the man’s expression and could recite him perfectly. With new ambition she took to the streets and spoke as if speaking into a headset. Over and over she conveyed the man’s way of speaking and looked around waiting for someone to notice, to brighten, as she had. But pedestrians avoided her, pinned her with disapproving glances. So she began to think it wasn’t a way of saying the sentence the man had given her, but a way of remembering it.

She thought about the phrase, remembering it when she woke and before she went to sleep. The words transposed themselves, then the letters, until she never thought the same sentence twice and wasn’t sure what the original had been or sounded like. Then she thought about it less, which bothered her. Then it bothered her less. So she began to think it wasn’t a sentence, or a way of saying it, or a way of remembering it, the man had given her. Then she didn’t think about it. Then it wasn’t anything at all.

Every cult comes at a price. This one cost $4.99 and my wife said, “you’re getting it for a steal!”  It only made me more suspicious. Shopping for a cult is never easy, they’re just too abundant now. Even at the mall, self-made gurus have set up shop. One trip to India and you’re the next maharaja. I scanned the form, then I noticed the address at the bottom.

“$4.99 is a bargain,” I said. “But we’d have to move to Florida.” I showed her the address on the Lily Vernon stationery.

“Forget it,” she said. “Nothing there but a bunch of cholera.”

“And geezers,” I nodded. Then I thought: easy to hop into those third world countries in Central America from Florida. But nah, it was Florida, after all.

“Let’s get toour 12 step meeting,” I said. “We’re already late.”