His name was Dave or Trevor or Brandon or something. Normal haircut, stupid job, no dreams, politics. There was nothing to make him stand out. he sat there like all the others, head on top, legs crossed. Sitting at his desk. Always going with the flow, never making, say, a LEFT turn, a RIGHT turn, no. Eyes forward, straight ahead, head bowed in service, plodding through the slag of seventy thousand melted bodies of the ones who’d gone before. They must have known it was right! Always marching onward into the furnace. Even if your nose begins to melt, or if it melts entirely off. This will be your mark of bravery. The assignment that day was to write about “lacks individuality.” It was a real kick sometimes, the humor life had. Dave or Steve or Bill would probably end up writing the same thing as everyone else. He had always wanted to fit in but how he really wanted to stand out. He raised his hand. “May I go to the restroom?” But they wouldn’t allow him. He had to start writing that paper. He wanted to write something individualistic about lacking individuality, something completely individualized that could never be mistaken for anything else. But it had to be about the lack of individuality. He frowned and tried hard. Seventy thousand have passed this way before, he reminded himself, this is getting to be a tradition. It’s honorable and right! How dare I question this road? He challenged himself. Just go with the flow. As above, so below, he reassured himself. As within, so without. Even the tiny torn out guts of dead insects should do nothing to dissuade my doggedness here. “I have blank eyes,” he wrote. He thought this was a very good idea; other people had blue eyes, etc. but his were blank because he lacked indi- But no, that was the exact opposite of “lacks individuality.” This assignment was a Mobius strip! Tom/Joe/Bob crossed out that sentence. It was almost his time. He frowned at the paper again. “Once upon a time,” he wrote. Every fool always wrote that. He crossed it out. He couldn’t think of anything. Just kept sitting there. Even the way he sat there was nothing special. This assignment was so hard! Soon he would crumple it up and throw it into the fires of hell. He couldn’t wait to eat his lunch.
Tag Archive: kopp
I like to conduct myself in a leisurely manner. At first, you might not even think I’m at home. Part of me is several yards away from several other parts equally spaced about my living quarters. My left brain is just there beside the windowsill, best hope no cats come by, mistake that stuff for liver sausage. And if you’ll notice, over there, my right elbow, jutting out from beneath the laundry basket, half obscured by the playful tumble of frilly fabrics fresh from the dryer. Over here, my left eyebrow, attached to a patch of left forehead and the skin that used to run down one cheek, with a little bone and cartillege attached, a little leftover facial “mask plating” as it’s called in biology seminars in some parts of what’s left of the world. There is almost no integrity of form, in such a leisurely manner have I chosen to conduct myself. In this way I am everywhere at once, seeing everything from all angles. Having already gone everywhere even while standing completely still. “Pull yourself together!” scream my infrequent guests. Often they will suggest a course of strenuous diet or exercise. One even suggested I might try joining the army or at least the civil service to give myself a steady diet and hammer the needed rigidity into my skull, one part of which is over there. Chance would have it I found myself three steps ahead and said, “Ha, what flag? How should I wave a flag? Any flag but a transparent one that is? hah!” A true captain of leisure like me, feeling guilty even to stand still, one such as I, to place all my dumb weight on one part of the ground is the same as giving up. My love of leisure notwithstanding.
They called him Old Greenshoe because his shoes were so decrepit and decomposed after years of homelessness sleeping in the heating ducts of towering buildings or sprawled under some bushes in one of the many town parks. He was the ancient, bearded archetypical Father of them All. The Very First One, they called him. And striplings new to the homeless way cut their teeth on fables about the Old Greenshoe. There was a lot more to being a good bum than just being broke. When Greenshoe crawled out from behind the dumpster that afternoon, picking the bits of discarded leftover fast food from his choppers, he grinned slightly and let out a gurgle, farting as he went. “Ha ha!” he chuckled. His merry life. Then he saw her. A woman in a wedding gown with a shovel digging a hole in the pile of ash behind the chinese restaurant at the far end of the alley. There seemed no obvious reason for this, and Greenshoe wondered why, and who she was, and what for. Buried treasure? Concealing a secret last-minute abortion? Burying a rival for the groom’s hand? Well, times was funny. After a whole life spent trying to fit in, he didn’t dare ask. It was just one of those many strange things he often noticed and wondered about. The word “green” recently having come to mean “environmentally conscious”, he’d recently attempted a comeback, prancing out into the main street, cuffs flapping. Only to be pelted with rocks, running off down an alley, children laughing at him.
Behind every face, another piece of corn. Behind every piece of corn, another face. Soon everything became a cornball in his mind. If anything was said he thought was stupid, he’d sneer, “What a piece of corn.” If he saw someone stupid, he’d think, “Oh, you corn face.” Corn had become the wadded archetype of all he scorned. Even the word scorn had corn in it, which he felt was fitting. “You piece of corn,” he said half laughingly half-jokingly to the woman with the fake tattoo standing right in the door of Kirby’s Saloon hoping to pick up some customers and give them a Tarot reading or school them in her other ways. She was a silently laughing but dying inside kind of leftover beauty after everyone else has gone home, and the whole thing is being swept up. “I am not a piece of corn,” she set him straight. “My name is Lulinda Cecile Harkinson, and I am here only as a favor to people like you. Otherwise, you would languish without me, for this is my penance.” Lulinda got so sad she started crying, which reminded him of all those plaster icons who start crying tears of blood all the time for no good reason. “Well, cheer up, Virgin Mary,” he reminded her. She laughed and the two of them went off together down into the town, just laughing and sighing, passing a bag of popcorn. There followed some interaction with the customer service agent, over there near where the old warehouse is, out near the dump, squatting there in a thicket of high weeds, looking like a mean old one-eyed encroacher on the land (being as how it sat out there amidst all the wild growth with two big windows in front and one was all busted and blacked out looking from vandals spraypainting all over it). Many passing wayfarers had set up their camps in the corners and eaves, even now there was a smell of burnt chicken from somebody’s breakfast, and the black smudge of ashes from the tramp’s cook-stove. Oh, hell, what would they think of next? Each former tenant had removed a long thread of torn cloth from his or her bundle of rags and tied it up near the door as a tribute to mark the presence of this or that gentlemen or young lady, person, or traveler. Many had even used shoelaces. There was a whole row of them tied up next to the door. Or maybe he was just imagining it. He kept on walking through the desert and staring up into the hot blank sky until he saw a long stream of faces coming out of the sun in a royal procession.