I chew a hunk of limestone and drench my body in wasp venom. The journey begins afresh. No time to read the rules, Cupcake. No time to go moisturizing a Seventh-Day Adventist. Just turn and walk through that forest of KFC drinking straws.
A night later, I lie next to a fragrant postman and tell him my dreams. We are deeply attracted to each other, and will soon do what others think impossible.
A three-foot tarantula erupts into our space, but we remain undistracted, coats of cobalt blue sleet blasting our minds into Latvian pudding. This is passion. Next comes a dinosaur skeleton, loud as a kindergarten barbecue disaster. It croaks a raspy shush, and the walls of the sun close in. But we revel undeterred in a bound body of stupidly real persimmon molasses.
I’m happy to serve you. You’re a veteran. You have a thing for plants and Cool Ranch lipstick. You know CPR, and that’s gonna come in handy.
I was there when you tried cauterizing those cows, every artery and sac. A septic disaster. But you were cute. I stood like a deity in the Sporting Goods section, caressing imperial-grade photos of forbidden Volvos. They had names like Bad Violinist and Veal Detonator—names that would sink whole economies.
Now a dance team gathers around you, drunk on falcon feathers. The stadium lights explode in cascades of swollen runes. My pancreas catches fire: a sympathy rupture, they call it. I cough up ancient lambs’ eyes. The radiance blinds me from within. There’s no escape. Every cloud is jackfruit when you look from above.
You are handed what they call The Million Dollar Questionnaire:
• Why do you glisten with golf lubricant?
• Are your tools cut from cold iron or hot lard?
• When did you suddenly wake as an old man, with a long white beard?
• How many times a day do you scream Mother, why was I born like this?
• Where is the stingray?
The teacher collects your paper and sighs at your answers. Her name is Laura Ingalls Wilder and her personal motto is: if you never liked me, don’t go to the funeral.
She feeds me saltines and I eat them. Waiter! These crackers are begging for a cauldron of shark stew! My hips become caterpillars. It’s time for another operation! Take your hands off me, Laura Ingalls Wilder! Why do you undulate squidlike into a pulsing lighthouse of cyberflesh? Not you too!
I reach for the knife. This is going to be great. My thighs melt clean off their femurs. Yogurt is splattered on the ceiling. Nobody knows where the door went. It’s just a gaping nostril in the wall. Echoing in the distance are the ecstatic screams of gorillas conquering a Wal-Mart.
And finally, the mailman and I fall asleep under the gutless night. The dreams are always about lung tissue, rubes in Kansas stockpiling it like 1998. The Beanie Baby craze all over again. Grease up, Jody. We’re hitting Forktown.
Our speedboat captain is a Nile valley fertility god. He tosses me something metal and says Here’s a can opener, kid. Start exploring. Soon the burlap seats are rancid with beet juice. I am a national treasure.
Boats exist so we can make things wet, I tell him, and then start batting my arms, vexed by some beef banshees. Beef banshees are a real problem here. If they want to tear you open, they will.
In my sleep I tell you the hard stuff: sometimes I cry for months on end because fulfillment comes so slow. Cry till my eyelashes fall out. They shrivel up like old chives. Fulfillment comes, I say, in tenuous increments, like the bubbles of a bratwurst Martini. It’s a forty-minute car wash with the water turned off. Are we there yet, you ask?
Bucko, it’s not your imagination. Look out the window. The world has vanished. That’s the real romance.
end bug report 6