Worse than forging God into the world, the visions took us into the aquarium and filled our eyes with sand. I looked over at Jenny, who was in labor. Damn. I looked around in search of a large city, one that might have a hospital or a medical tent. We found a good one, I don’t know what—we called it St. Petersburg—and I was given a son, who has cared for me in my old age. I vote Republican, because I’m really fucking pissed off. Jenny has gone crazy and I’ve got to wipe her weird thin ass for her every morning after she shits herself. Meanwhile my son’s wiping my ass!
Meanwhile my son is wiping my ass! I hope he falls in! If I could just clamp around him with my ass and digest him upwards, his bones reinforcing mine, his mind giving me the processor power to make free internet phonecalls to the Government, Jenny, fetch me the phone, but that was years ago.
I remember another movie by the same title. The one you know sounds a lot better.
The one I know is about something terrible.
I don’t want to talk of it.
There’s one more beer, I think, from last night, I can pour it in a glass for you. When I was younger I was drunk all the time. I’d get drunk at noon at work. I loved getting drunk. Jenny, who was pregnant with you at the time, was bleeding terribly, we woke up in it, just all over the bed. I was so drunk I tripped down the front porch and knocked myself out! My bleeding pregnant wife, which is one reason that policemen are heroes, probably didn’t really happen, but you never know. Forget it. I remember the movie now, it’s calling to me, distantly, but that’s how I hear, like text-to-speech on a telnet client. Jesus. I love getting drunk and eating Mexican food. I loved it. But now,
instead, every time anything changes I get reminded that I’m going to die! And without one little bit of me passing on, just waiting out another generation to be fully dead. My step-son will never breed. He takes care of me, and then he’ll die.
Jenny’s throat ribbits ceaselessly. I love it, but as a separate thing from her, as how I love her, now, is a separate thing from how I love Jenny, who understands the morning news but not the evening’s. You can count on me, you can count on me. I love her like a mother loves her disease when her ass and wrinkled brown pussy need shit wiped off them every morning as I wipe the shit off my father’s ass sticking up in the air like he’s examining an insect crawling on a mat of grass clippings. Meanwhile the nurse is licking my ass, and her German Shepherd is chewing on hers, and sometimes I really want to believe my reward waits for me in heaven, but I know it doesn’t.
Let us pray:
Have I got a story for you:
There was a man, let’s call him Our Father, who was in search of a certain chameleon who had made off with something very precious of his. Our Father couldn’t usually see the chameleon, but he could smell him, and finally chased him to a spot so variously colored even this very clever chameleon couldn’t change his skin to fit in. This is metaphorical. Unfortunately for Our Father, the chameleon was also a hero of his tribe, and a great warrior, as well as a witch. Using weapons he had found over the course of his long journey, he stuck them into Our Father and made a staircase all the way from Our Father’s feet to Our Father’s neck. Do you get it? The chameleon represents me, or my future. And then the chameleon climbs over Our Father’s face and suffocates him, and changes his color to look like Our Father’s face looked like when Our Father was alive, and walks him around his daily life, meeting Our Father’s old friends, doing his whole routine basically, and even if you know it’s not Our Father’s face, even though you know that face that looks exactly like the face you love so much has suffocated Our Father, when you’re looking at him you can’t hurt him. Not if you see that face.
You are sitting with him, and the Red Sox are on.
He’s frowning but it doesn’t matter if they’re winning or losing, that’s his face.
And you see something of your own face in his, as if parts of you that you, well, hadn’t exactly noticed before had burrowed out of the surface of your face, then assembled themselves next to you on the couch.
You’ve never done this before, but you just do it:
You take his hand. You put your hand over his hand.
And he doesn’t move, not at all.
And your palm is sticking to his skin.
And becoming more stuck—his skin is growing into your skin.
It feels like your palm has become covered in fur, but it’s not fur, and all these loose threads of skin cells are tying themselves into complex knots, maybe pulling on you a little, a tug, closer, and he’s still sitting there, frowning.
But he turns his face on you.
And you look into those eyes.
And you see your reflection warring against you, being, in ways, the opposite of you.
And you look then into those eyes, and you see another reflection warring against that one. One that looks and behaves very much like you.
And it’s your reflection that has reached out and grabbed you, and made your arm into part of its arm.
And his reflection in turn is melting with him, arm sliding into arm, and then his and his and his, the myriad yous and not-yous clipping together like paper.
It’s just like that, or like thinking it’s like that while it happens to someone very much like you, just older, just an aspect of time you can’t even pretend you were in—those years when the sky was more papery, the best thirty seconds of nineteen fifty-four, the hundreds of thousands of moments it felt like waking up when he was already really awake sliding into these other million moments when you felt like you were about to wake up, and then didn’t…
I woke until I stopped speaking completely.
I woke up with my legs cocked in the air and a rag working its way through the wrinkles of my buns and upper thighs. It all feels very warm. And I would think to say something if I were young, but one morning I woke up and it felt as if rice paper doors had been shut somewhere, and I thought to tell someone about it, but the machinery I would use to do this was now behind a pair of delicate rice paper doors, standing so perfectly and so defenseless I knew I would never disturb them.
But then the next morning there was a new pair of doors, as polite and as harmless as, and in front of, or to the side of, the first pair.
And for the first few weeks it was just a pair or two, or a couple new pairs each day. I began tending them, learning how to replant some, how to open, briefly, others. In time, the act of opening the pill bottle and pouring water into the short, neon-green glass was something joyous, like dancing through a long series of halls, the small ritual of steps to be stepped before advancing to the next hall, and then later, as doors were obscured by doors, as every hour a fresh pair would turn out to have been standing just behind me, and as they began appearing on the floor and the ceiling, and hanging from each other down long chasms of pristine white rice paper doors, as I found doors clotting in enormous cave systems of doors, it soon felt like I was swimming through the ocean of sliding rice paper doors, an ocean of unsure depth and boundary, where I find the shore and cannot describe it to myself as I turn away.
And when I meet you, and turn away.
How can I trust you?
How will I recognize you?
I’m handed the wrong kid in the hospital and I name him Step Son. Dear Lord. Of course, I give birth three times in quick succession, and my animal children claw my breast and nurse on my blood. Oink oink oink oink oink. No. I lift up her legs, stand up straight, sweep open my arms, and welcome you, my only begotten son. Oh gosh. So this is me, stepping into the room. The AC is on. Here I am pulling the tiny brass chain on the lamp. Click. It’s time to wake up.
Let’s get these sheets off you. Let’s get…get the diaper off.
So I’m just going to clean up down here.
Now this is me cleaning up down here.