book three:


chapter 25:


There was a little scene out infronta titepocketssome people standin around a double parkd golfcart and that fuckt up police car.

shit. kryshas here ⋞ D ⋟

and vince ⋞ andy ⋟ what the fuck?

i’d haffa mind to say, what person in their right mind wouldnt call the cops? even if the cops were vince.

vince sat on the hood of his car drinking from a bottle of cuervo gold. when andy walkt by, he pointed an acusatory finger

your under a rest.

for what? ⋞ andy ⋟

for not givin me a hita that doobie.

i refuse to smoke up anyone who says doobie.

vince stared andy down.


andy pastim the joint.

puff, puff, puff. . . give.

vince said,

who wants to do five shots with me?

why five?

cinco de mayo.

cincodemayo was like a month ago dude.

then saint patties day who cares, its all phony anyway.

peeple lined up to do shotsandy kayla johnson julien jondavies [ altho i think he just liked standing in line ] dave, kathleen, liggle and ulp [ theyd rold up just in time for the massacker ] evrytime somebody did a shot, vince would handem his gun and makem pretend to shoot in the air and say somethin mexican.

i followd D over to the golfcart, where madi was talkin to a wild-eyed redhead, had to be krysha. she lookd kinda crazy but the good kinda crazy i think, the kind that gets shit done.

we join their conversation already in progress.

tecnicly it still is ⋞ krysha ⋟

but i thought ⋞ madi ⋟

nope ⋞ krysha ⋟ we decided not to.


they were doin us a favor. they coulda calld the cops.

krysha lookt over at vince.

vince said


did a shota tequila, and pretended to fire his gun.

i mean the real cops ⋞ krysha ⋟

want us to shutter down? ⋞ D askd ⋟

dontcha think the splosion’ll do it? ⋞ krysha ⋟

madi shook her head, supressing a smile.

i wish it was that easy.

D. madi. krysha. i began to suspect that a small number of athenians pictup the slack for the great majority of their fellows.

madi was right tho, the splosion hadnt shut anything down. somebody dragd the bar outside and peeple were hanginout in the yard. a truck rolld up with a piano in the back, there was a dude backthere bangin on the keys and singin, and he had him some pipes

and i’m runnin out of PATIENCE!

to be fuckin with YOU now!

he didnt seem to care that the cops might be on the way, or that nobody within a two block radius could carry on a conversation without raising their voice.

oh cool ⋞ D ⋟ mica’s heer.

maybe if we ask evrybody to be considerat a the neighbors.

krysha worried her brow. she didnt wana be the heavy.

you better blieve me when i say THIS now!

and if we could get mica to sing a little quieter.

its mica, he dont got a volume knob ⋞ D ⋟ we’ll make im stop after this one. quit while your ahead, this’s the en em ee of the state.


nuthin, i’m just bein absurd.

you think theyll dispers, if we shut mica down? ⋞ krysha ⋟

if we makem dispers ⋞ madi ⋟

who all do we hav? ⋞ krysha ⋟

see that line a peeple doin shots with vince? ⋞ D ⋟

krysha checkd out the line of peeple doin shots with vince.

is thattaylor? ⋞ krysha ⋟ why is taylor in handcufs?

not handcufs, he can get outa handcufs. shackels.


its a-l’s firsday ⋞ D ⋟

i see.

D grabd me by the arm and yankt me into the convee.

krysha this’s a-l, a-l krysha. al, if it wudnt for krysha this town woulda burnd to the ground a long time ago. litraly and metaforicly.

welcome to athens, a-l.

krysha gave me a smile, she has a welcoming smile. and a southern way of clasping your hands. you can tell she takes her welcomin seriusly, and it pays off. she could welcome you to hell and youd be happy to be there.

thanks ⋞ i said ⋟

so ⋞ krysha askt ⋟ can you fight?

i did the deer-in-headlites.

not s’much yet ⋞ D ⋟ but he sure can bight the shit outa somebodys face, checkout andys cheek if ya dont bleev me, how drunk is vince?

vince was tryin to pour tequila in ulps mouth.

ulp didnt want any tequila.

too bad, ulp.

krysha calld over

vince are you too drunk ta fight?

i’m never toodrunktafight, bitch!

he’s not toodrunktafight.

you sure?

if he dudnt call me cunt, he’s not toodrunktafight.

we’re gona need evrybody we can get ⋞ madi ⋟ Andrew praters on the warpath.

yall didnt endup gettin that tazer, didja? ⋞ D ⋟

krysha shook her head.

we had the money, but the insurance was reedick-yullus

ker- B O O O M ! !  !   !

you could feel it in your chest. like the earth was a kickdrum and somebody just kict it.

evrybody ran around tryin to figure out where it came from.

someone shouted


and peeple started runnin tword the explosion, or gettin in their cars to drive there, like the exodus from a gatsby party cept the cars were way shittier, there was even a car stuck in the ditch, i helpd get it out, there were six of us it was easy.

The only people left were the mellow ones, and they were just quiet shadows of chatter and cigaret smoke.

problem solvd ⋞ D ⋟

madi shouted in the direction of some circus kids hangin out by the door

nothins on fire, is it!?

i dont think so! ⋞ shouted a guy in a porkpie hat ⋟

did anybody check!?

[ silence ]

can somebody please check!?

we’ll check dude, me and a-l ⋞ D ⋟ he’s sober, he’s good for shit like that.

your sober?

madi said that, but it got the attention of krysha too.

for three-an-a-haf years.

that could come in handy ⋞ madi ⋟ yeah, would yall mind checkin? the breaker box is on the backporch.

hey while your in there couldja do the glass? ⋞ krysha ⋟

krysha handed us each a black garbage bag, a flashlite, and a pair of work gloves.

We went thru evry squareincha the placeit was bigger than it lookd, there were secret roomsmakin sure nothin was onfire [ it wasnt ] pickinup broken glass [ there was alot, but not necessarily from the explosion ], checkin to see if anybody was hurt, which they were, but not too bad, we gottem outside and into the hands of their friends or atleast people that knew their names. the worst was brownfrowns drummer. he was pastout when the splosion happend, when he woke up it was dark and he thought he’d gone blind, we foundim in the bathroom splashin water on his face

i cant see. i cant SEE!

yeah we got a p-b-r in im and he was fine.

i pretywell enjoyd the massacker. but this, i hafta say, was my favrite part. trish was rightits better on the other side a the counter. workin, i mean. cause thats what we were doin. as in, on the clock. dont know if you realizd that, i sure didnt, but if theres one thing i learnd at burning man, its that life is best when work and play start to blend into one another

globecap sure stampd that one out, didnt it?

well atleast we got jersey shore.

We found the source of the explosion. the wall was charrd black around this one outletthe outlet into wich was plugd a powerstrip that supplied the power to all of brownfrowns equipment. it was sittin in a puddl a water. or...

i wouldnt touchit a-l. i can tell from here its piss.

sniff test proved her correct.

i’d like to see the tipa that dudes dick, heh-heh ⋞ D ⋟ a-l, wouldja mind turninoff the breaker? we gota get this shit unplugd.

[ ive never been here before, i’m use to dealin with electricity thats been updated since worldwar-two, etcetera ]


i chopchopt. it wasnt hard. i had a flashlite. evrything was labeld.

when i got back, D was already unpluggin shit. i guess she assumed i wouldnot fail...

As you can see, there are paralells between my life here in athens and the one back in texas, and i was beginning to realizetho i wouldnt admit it yet, even to myselfthat i belongd over here, not over there. i dont mean that as a judgment of either place or as an excuse for the responsibilities i obviusly had, which i obviusly was not gona ignore just cause i liked athens just cause i belongd here, there are more important things than belonging

orso i thought.

By the time we finishd cleanin up, most evrybody had cleard out, even some of our crew. it was sad i didnt get to say goodbye. julien. jondavies. dave an kathleen. they were already like friends.

D had a drink at some point in titepockets, which raisd her total for the evening to two. one too many to drive, she maintaind, despite sevral opinions to the contrary.

whos gona drive yugi? ⋞ andy askd ⋟

nobody ⋞ D ⋟ we can take booty-d’s van.

booty-d? ⋞ i said ⋟ as in booty dharma?


the guy who use to do athens quotes?

howd you hearbout athensquotes?

on the internet.

seriusly, how?

D ⋞ andy ⋟


he use to do it over there.

he did?

over where? ⋞ me ⋟ i thought he was from athens.

face gettin cold scalp tinglin

he is dude, relax. your visage is pallid.

what is goin on?

andy caught me before i realized i was falling.

breathe in your a flower, al. breathe out your a cloud.

i tried.

but i didnt have control over my breath

over anything.

heart racing head spinnin

blood swishin around a hundred miles an hour

my body understood what my brain couldnot

fade to black  

ext. titepockets. nite.

i’m lyin on my back, lookinup at the sky. sevral peeple stand over me, including a realyshort giantess.


you awake?


did i passout?


jusfor a second y’did. its nuthin to worry bout, happens all the time.


what happens all the time?


peeple passout. when they first get here.


that doesnt make s€η§ξ...

blood drainin from my head, had to lay back down.

taker easy dude, taker easy. open yurself up to the world around you.

but D

[ i was havin some crazy ideas ]

evrythings fine, al ⋞ andy ⋟

not thinking, not thinking

we’re here for ya ⋞ D ⋟ we love ya.

not thinking about not thinking

you love me?

is that so hard to bleev?

but we just met.

so? you just met max and you already love him.

whadoes that hafta do with it?

its human conection D it has to do with evrything.

we all we need, we all we got andy

M– wudnt worried about money, a-l, he was worried bout geist* D write that down in your little notebook.

i wrote it down. in my notebook. i could show it to you if you want.

Nexstep wouldof been for me to try standin up, and if that was ok, maybe walk.

to booty dharma’s van, i spose.

course it didnt go that way.

cause see Andrewprater was still around, but the teenage girls were not. he was on the lookout for his next target.

he found it.

i tried not to look deer-in-headlites.


andy pickimup! ⋞ D ⋟

andy threw me over his sholder.

sorry al, no time to explain ⋞ andy ⋟

get evrybody loaded up and ready to go ⋞ D ⋟

Andrewprater took a hungry step towrd me.

D stept between us.

andy sprinted towrd the van with me on his back.

when we got there all he said was


and i’d never seen athens peeple move so fast, they loaded into the van in ten seconds flat.

andy threw me in afterem, somewhere softpillows, there were only pillows in the backa the van, no seats just pillows.

johnson said

most people get worse at fightin when their drunk. but Andrewprater jusgets better the drunker he is.

andy said

when i say STEP ON IT, step on it.

the driver [ booty dharma, i assume ] got ready to step on it.

andy squatted in the open door, ready to yank D aboard, it was some milenium falcon shit. the restof us watchd thru the back window and this is what we saw

D had settled into a defensiv crouch.

Andrew was runnin at her, nostrils flaring.


right at her.

D lowerd her centeragravity. raisd her hands.

somethin had to give.

it was terifying to think what it might be.

prater was closin in on D

his mouth was open—

it lookd like he was gona eat her.



projectile vomit, right in her face.

he hitter with his powermove ⋞ johnson ⋟

andrew gave her a head fake

changed directions

headed for the van!

D threw out a leg

prater tripped

he went flyin


f l y i n 

hit his head on the rusty bumper of a pickup truck, and i’m pretysure it made a dent.

Andrew didnt appear to be gettin back up. but we werent taking any chances.

D started runnin for the van.

her legs were so short it was like she was runnin in slow motion.

andys arm hungout the door, ready to grab her.

Andrew satup.

he’s gettin up, booty-d ⋞ andy ⋟ better start rollin.

the van rold forward. . .

D, runnin as fast as her litle legs would taker


Andrew prater was on the move.

you can move faster than that, D! ⋞ andy ⋟

D, runnin in slowmotion, barely gainin on the van.

fuck allyall.

prater closin in.

c’mon, he’s right behind ya!

he was.

when i get [ pant ] on that van...

legs pumping. she was almost there.

you better watch your solar plexus!

prater graspd

D reachd

andy s t r e t c h t

grabd D’s hand

flung her into the van



which booty dharma proceeded to do.

We lost him. we got away. i mean we were in a van.

chapter 26:

booty dharma’s van

So bootydharma use to be a big drinker, but now he doesnt drink anymore, and in order to make up for all the years he got away with drivin drunk, he gives drunkpeeple rides. if you see bootydharmas van, wherever, whenever, you can hop in. and if your drunk enough, he’ll give you a ride.

we were drunk enough.

it was one a those giant vans from the eighties forlike if you needed to transport an entire troop of cubscouts, tho as i mentiond, he’d taken out all the seats and thrown a buncha pillows back there, and stuft animals and other soft things, it was like hangin out in a cloud.

a smoov beat came out of the speakers.

then a piano

and a womans voice,

no anecdote was ever wrote

that could cure her woried mind.

it was madi. her lyrics were choptup and sprinkeld around, playin off the beat. underneath was a piano loop which i think was sampled from the begining of the song. it was tite yall. even you dj’s woulda thought it was tite.

whend you do this?!

madi said that. hadnt realized she was in the van but she was, ridin shotgun.

bootydharma replied,


did i mention that he lookd like me? a few more gray hairs and bigger glasses and a slitely larger face, but still, alot like me. a handsome devil, inotherwords.

So i had some questions for him.

incase your wondring, my current leading theory re: what-the-fuck-is-goin-on? was that bootydharma was behind it. he’d trickd me into comin to athens and then aranged things to freak me out for the purpose of

thats where my theory reachd its limits. if this was scooby-doo it would be so he could scare me outa the house that stood between him and his secret plans. but i had no house, i guess it was time to findout if he had secret plans.

i was gettin ready to introduce myself, when someone [ D no doubt ] shuvd me into madi.

scuse me ⋞ i said ⋟

madi smiled.

sodawater with lime?

good memry.

ever try it with bitters?

thats my favrite drink

ask her ⋞ d-nazi ⋟

whada ya wana know? ⋞ madi ⋟

its just, we were wondrin ⋞ me ⋟ whyi mean how you got into music. like, what made you start orwhatever. if you remember…

oh i remember. neutralmilkhotel. in the airplane over the sea.

she said it so matter o factly it almost got by me.


she nodded.

firstime i heard that record i thought you can do this, with your life. music, i mean.

well i’m glad you did, i think you made the rite choice

[ fanstruck stuttering praise etcetera ]

not the firstime but whos countin, so which side were you on?

which what?

side a the bet, i see D is behind this.

D was backthere cacklin to herself while she wiped prater vomit off her glasses with johnsons flannel shirt.

the wrongside.

if you want my advice, dont take any a D’s bets. no matter how much of a sure thing it might seem.

kayla peekd her head into the fronta the van. it was like a seprate room up here.

So yall met a-l?

not ofishally ⋞ booty-d ⋟

introductions were made, we shook hands, it was awsom.

we use to be lovers ⋞ kayla ⋟

yes we did ⋞ booty-d ⋟

but we’re not’n y more ⋞ kayla ⋟

dont imagine sadness tho. kayla reported it like a kid tellin her mom what she did at school that day, and it was a pretygood day.

then bootydharma took out a cigaret-lookin thing, but it was too big for a cigaret, but i dont think it was a one-hitter. he put it to his lips and inhaled, and then what hapend is two conversations began simultaneusly and went on paralell, ocasionly intersecting like a trail and a river but moreso, because they got mixed up together.

Anyway, their real into simulconvee here. ive been wantin to give it a shot, so here goes [ if your readin this on a phone, try turning it sideways ]


my face fell, i am sure.

you did not! ⋞ m to bd ⋟ you shuldnt fuckwith newbies like that.

aright, i didnt make it up ⋞ b-d ⋟ but i had you. you shoulda seen yourself, al. you had suckerface.

you have a prety awsom suckerface ⋞ madi to me, then to booty-d ⋟ whadju tellim about?

firstime jeff playd in town

with elfpower and he was nockin peeple over and broke aarons drums. dont handout all your goldstars now al, booty-d’ll give you plennymore chances to be imprest.

but i am imprest.

i’m sure you woulda been there if youd livd in athens then, but remembermost people didnot. its easy to forget that sometimes. your here now, thats what matters.

madi’s little speech made me feel kinda woozy, like taylor and his nyquil.

but i’m not here.

sure ya are ⋞ madi ⋟ even if you dont plan to be here forever, your here now.

well thats true.

soon as i admitted that, i felt light, like i’d shifted up a few inches.

it was scary, but i breathd in like a flower out like a cloud.

this is not a metaphor not a metafor 

you can be a flower you can be a cloud.

y o u  a l r e a d y  a r e 

chapter 27:


Booty dharma slamd on the brakes

we went flyin all over the van.

what was that? ⋞ madi ⋟

frank ⋞ booty-d ⋟

booty-d rold down his window.

hey frank.

it was the same pedestrian we’d almost hit earlier. dude made a habit of walkin down the middla the road with his hand infronta his face.

he held it up there with his fingers spreadout just enough for him to peek thru, like he was gettin ready to fence and he forgot his mask. he kept his hand propt up by cradling his elbo against his stomach with his other hand. he could keep it up there allnight. infact he does, and not only thatyou can tell how drunk he is by how close his hand is to his face.

course i didnt know that yet. all i knew was there was this drunkguy swayin in the road with his hand infronta his face.

hi booty-d!

frank said. he had a realy nice drunksmile, what you could see thru his fingers. if they designed a muppet whose main thing was bein drunk, theyd model it after frank.

do you need a ride frank?

frank lost his balance and regaind it. laughd. held his hand infronta his face.

its pretty close ⋞ madi to booty-d ⋟

how close? ⋞ booty-d ⋟ i have terible nitevision.

pretty close.


he’s beyond questions b-d, lookatim ⋞ D ⋟ you can barely see is eyes.

frank was. i mean he existed. in the middle of the road in a state of frankness, with his hand infronta his face.



get in the van.

frank got in the van.

franks a drunk bodisatva ⋞ D ⋟

prepare to be enlightend ⋞ madi ⋟

and possibly be made drunker by his presence ⋞ andy ⋟

frank stood in the center of the van [ it was that big, you could standup in it ] smiling at evrybody like he was so happy to see useven meit was all he could do not to eat us up.

i was already feelin kinda enlightend. and drunk.

and i stand by what i said about drunk muppet.

have a seat, frank ⋞ D ⋟

frank had a seat. nexto me.

frank a-l ⋞ D ⋟ a-l frank.

frank took is hand away from is face to shake my hand only for a second, but in that second i gazed upon his visage and beheld the radiant joyi had to avert my eyes yall, it was too much. i was glad when he put his hand back infronta his face.

its your firsday ⋞ frank said, or maybe it was a question ⋟


you musbe ffffffreakd out - - - -  -

i am.

he waited a beat before answering...


then he retreated into a smiling state of halfconsciousness with his hand infronta his face.

i sure was freakdout when i got here ⋞ booty-d ⋟ in a good way tho. mostly.

i got a whole album out of it ⋞ madi ⋟

outa movin here? ⋞ me ⋟

madi nodded.

i coulda done three. its like you get to be a kid again, only now you can process it like an artist. craffin, workin, doin battle. your first massacker, your first all in.

whats all in? ⋞ i said ⋟

you hadnt gone all in yet? thatll change real soon i bet.

but what is it?

youll see in due time ⋞ D interupted ⋟ hey andy, you know what the world needs now?

yeah, i do. but i’m not sure johnson does.

johnson dyou knowhat the world needs now?

no anser.


johnson was asleep.

kickim andy.

you kickim D.

your closer.

andy kict johnson.

johnson wokeup

who shot who in the what now?

i was just askin andy if he knew what the world needs now.

you were?

he said to ask you.

well deidra, jusso happens that i do know what the world needs now.

whadoes it need?

it needs. . .

johnson lookdaround to make sure evrybody was excited.

we were.


Andy and johnson pulld guitars from beneath the pillows and started bangin on em so hard they didnt even need a drummer.

johnson sang

the DEVIL made the LEGS

but GOD sticht the CLOooOooOES!

and so forth, it was prety intense. i dont think i’d ever heard someone sing that loud that upclose before. when it was over andy went straight into the next song, strumin pretty and somber, not afraid to try, like the music is here, god i wish you could hear it.

johnson started fingerpickin in and outa andys chords.

andy croond

i’m not an asshole. i’m just misunderstood.

they tell me god is goodoh, and who am i t’argue?

afterwards, D said

is that a new one andy?

it is.

whend yall geta chance to practice it?

we didnt ⋞ andy ⋟

that was the firstime i heard it ⋞ johnson ⋟

sweet ⋞ D ⋟

sadly, i’ll probly never play it that good again ⋞ johnson ⋟

they finisht off with a murder ballad andy wrote, i cant recall any of the lyrics but it wasnt all hokey and ersatz. it involvd a plauzibl situationa borrowd car, a wreck, a girl freakin out on acid.

When the last chord had faded, D said


thanks D.

that was good yall ⋞ me ⋟ encore!

i’ll encore your core ⋞ andy ⋟ this is the en this’s athens, G-A, quit while your ahead.

were you gona say the N-M-H? ⋞ me ⋟

i was.

why did you stop?

to avoid the inevitable, i spose.

what inevitable?

your startn ta sound like a worrier ⋞ D ⋟ i had you pegd as a fuckup.

i’m both, i guess.

nice. we can use more a that around here.

i’m not here. quit sayin that.

you are here a-l. let go a whats backthere, you cant get to it now.

i can get to it.

not rightnow you cant, its not real. now is the only thing thats real, evrything else is imaginary.

no. its real.

no it isnt. add these to your list, i cant bleev i leftem offsartre, the imaginary. lacan, the four fundamental concepts. gotem all at the hizzy, evrythings alphabetical no categories, makes it easier, trustme...

[ she was lookin at me ]

write it down dude, i know your not gona remember it.

fuck all that ⋞ andy said ⋟ just think of ticknot. member the part about the mama holdin her baby?

i did.

you know what kinda energy it takes to be present like that? ⋞ andy ⋟ you cant do it if you spred yourself thin.

let go ⋞ D ⋟ your still hangin on to it. i can tell by the way you hunch yer sholders.

i cant help it. i love them.

i know ya do ⋞ D ⋟ if you were with them i’d tell ya to letgo of us. but your not with them now, your with us.

but i will be. with them.

you may be, al ⋞ andy ⋟ but you arent now.

whatre you doin now? ⋞ D ⋟

ridin in bootydarmas van. with yall.

i started to drift...

evrybody was smilin. even frank wokeup and smiled.

breathe in flower breathe out cloud

lookhe’s flowting ⋞ madi ⋟

i wonder whats goin on in his litle mind? ⋞ D ⋟

crazy shit, actially.

some of it too crazy even to mention

breathe in flower breathe out cloud

uh-oh, he’s goin too fast ⋞ andy ⋟

dude relax, evrythings gona be o-k ⋞ D ⋟ evrything is o-k.

relax, al ⋞ andy ⋟ deep breaths.

i tried to relax. but who cares? freakinout, relaxin

none  a thats even real.

shit was fallin off me,

like i was the grandcanyon and this was erosion.

i had the sudden thought

things are never gona be the same for you, again.

scary. but also exciting, if you let it be.

breathe in breathe out

D kneaded my sholders.

she found the spot where i carry it most, topa my chest.

sit back.

i sat back. ended up with my head in her lap.


[ f l o w e r  ]

she ran her fingers thru my hair.

let gowwww

[  c l o u d  ]

[ i’d never been more relaxd. this was the womb yall, i’d figured out how to get back in! ]

as i drifted off, D cooed to me, somewhere between a prayer and a lullaby, in a beautiful soft voice she must save for ocasions such as this

if you wana be happy

be happy with what you have now

be happy with n o t h i n g

chapter 28:


I woke up exausted. but the good kindof exausted. like i’d been thru it and come out on the other side. it kinda reminded me a the way i wokeup from the bluesky dream. not the content of the dream, but the feeling that came out of it. tho now i’m not sure it was fulfilment after all. it was morelike gratitude.

but before i had the chance to think on that too much, we came to a stop. we reachd our destination.

i mean we parkd.

in the fortywatt lot. dontknow why that suprized me.

andy johnson kayla and frank headed for west washintong. evrybody else [ including taylor, by this time theyd lettim out of his shackels ] went arounback, where a light still shone thru the records. a little thing like five in the mornin wasnt gona stand intheway of lowyoyo bein open.

Oh my god its b,boody lishus! didja finely figureout jazz’s the root a hiphop?

i figured that out the firstime i heard tribe. atleast the firs-time i heardem hi.

i have the things you orderd.

i orderd things?

a wileago y’did.

you mean the penguin cafay?

was there anythin else?

that was liketwo years ago.


how many did you find?


[ said as if there was no other possible answer ]

cept the comp and the live thing, they werent issued on elpee. i threw in a simon jeffe solo, n,nocharge. most of its crap but the two good ones make it worth a lissen.

while todd hunted booty-d’s records, i decided to check if they had any mahalia jackson. mahalia’s probly my favrite female vocalist. you cant match her voice for joy carryin capacity. pain, too, cause she cant be with jesus yet, but she wants it sooo bad.

i imagine shes got it now.

i didnt see a gospel section, and she wasnt in post-gospel. but i hunted around til i found a divider labeld

Jesus's dick is bigger than anybody's other dick

there was mahalia. bigtime. like a dozen records, including live at newport which is sposetobe great, but i’d never heard it cause i’d never been able to find a copy.

thats a badass record.

[ bootydharma said that ]

so i hear.

i’ll get it for you.

ohno dont do that.

whynot? i’monna be givin todd money anyway, i can probly getim to throwitin. plus ive been wantin to scratch with city calld heaven for like a year. its nice to meet another mahalia fan, hav you ever playd around with turntables?

no. i love music, i just never

lernd to play an instrument, a-l you are the perfect candidate, you should come try out my tecnics, we’ll lissen to mahalia like youv never lissend to er before.

i’m only intown till tomoro probly. its realy upto my car.

shit, lets do it tonite!

not tonite booty-d, remember? ⋞ D ⋟ yall do it another night.

booty-d gave me his number and said to textim if i endedup stayin intown an extra day. we talkd about music, i wrote down some bands he couldnt believ i hadnt heard yet, there were alotofem, there were whole genres i’d never heardof, maybe cause they only existed in athens


that was madi’s unmistakable soprano.

D, it seems, had todd in a headlock.

D, lettim go ⋞ madi ⋟

i will lettim go, as soon as he ansers the question.

w,whatwas the question again? ⋞ todd ⋟

you know perfecly well the question.

todd’s face was gettin red.

r,refresh my memry.

love or hate, your choice. just take a freakin position.

D squeezd.

todd spoke thru clenchd teeth

i am... indifrent... to the m,music of... neutralmilkhotel.

she lettim go.

i piss on lowyoyo,

she said, and she left.

we left.

todd calld after us

thanks come again!

At this hour, things had slowd down on west washintong. there were still peeple out, but you could actualy go along the sidewalks without pushing them outa the way.

we found andy and johnson outside of xray [ as for where frank and kayla had gone, no mention ]

what happend to rainbo conection? ⋞ D askt ⋟

[ the loop was conspicuously absent ]

it came to an end.

andy didnt elaborate, but the little recordplayer was nowhere to be seen and the table it hadbeen on was upside down.

there was a question i wanted to ask, but i didnt ask it.

but then johnson askd it

where’re we goin?

i dunno ⋞ D ⋟ quality?

you have a key?

D smiled.

wherd you get it?

todd? ⋞ andy guesd ⋟

D said nothing. she was quite pleasd with herself.

So this placequality orwhatevera space. a cavernous, empty, space. no stage, no bar, no items for sale, not even storage. just a couch, a lamp, a mannekin, and a piano.

what is this place? ⋞ i askt ⋟

quality ⋞ D ⋟

but i mean, what is it?

whado you want it to be? ⋞ andy ⋟

why dont you just ask it, a-l ⋞ D ⋟ who makes money on this piece of property?

well who does?

nobody ⋞ D ⋟

then who takes care of it?

we do ⋞ D ⋟

athens, she means ⋞ madi ⋟

so the city maintains a wastedor an emptyspace, in the middla downtown.

not empty. quality ⋞ andy ⋟ if a store or someshit opend up here, we wouldnt have quality.

not to mention where would todd keep his overflow? ⋞ johnson ⋟

and where would paul and ort live? ⋞ booty-d ⋟

along the back wall, theyd sectiond off four things that lookd like a cross between a room and a cubicle [ they call em roomicles ] the walls only went eightfeet up, musta been as big a section of drywall as they could get their hands on.

each of the roomicles had a door, numberd 1 thru 4. just then door 2 opend, and out walkd paul, rubbing his electric hair.

didnt know you were home paul ⋞ D ⋟ sorry.

paul squinted.

i didnt know either, i went to get more gummy salamanders and i musta dozed off orsomethin, what time is it?

late-thirty ⋞ D ⋟

just before sunrise ⋞ madi ⋟


friday ⋞ madi ⋟

oh good.

then door 1 opend and ort walkd out, wearin a unionsuit and eatin from a styrafoam bowl.

mm’mm, brunswick stew, ladled out this mornin by lula mae hutchison herself at philomath groshry, she wont reveal the secret ingredient but she will tell ya she learnd it from her grandaddy ike eldridge who got the recipe from colonel avery pomeroy while they servd together in the 44th georgia volunteer infantry. before ike built the groshry they use to serv it outa the back of philomath presbyterian church, they didnt even put up a sign when the stew was on, you could smell it from the old post office clear down to maxwell and sons funeral parlor on walker road, where they liked to say if its dead, we’ll bury it

its like nighta the livin dead in here ⋞ D ⋟ i feel like we should run.

on cue, someone started playin the opening theme from nighta the living dead on the piano.

it was taylor. his eyes were closed. he was so relaxd the music seemd to flow outof him.

he transitiond to a lovely melody, it sounded familiar but i couldnt place it. so i askd.

donknow the name of it ⋞ taylor, still playin ⋟ the one they closed with at titepockets. the first band, the one that could actialy play their instruments.

he kept playin til he came to a part where he askd,

is this right?

he playd the tune. it was close, but slitely off.

that spillainish trumpet, you remember?

wait, are you justnow figuring this out?

tryin to.

after hearin it one time? while tending bar? on nyquil?


he tried it again.

you have an amazing memory.

not realy. i just pay atention.

This, i think, is when i first began to suspect that the problem with my memry all along, maybe it wasnt realy my memry. maybe i just wasnt payin atention. or not the right kind of atention. what if the reason my memory couldnt access past events was that my mind never made a permanent record of em in the firstplace?

i been workin on that. i think i’m gettin better. if i can remember all the shit i’m tellin you i must be, altho they say you never forget your firsday, well i hope thats true.

when the song was over, bootydharma requested layla.

taylor crackt his nuckles and the restofus [ including paul and ort ] sat down and lissend.

i dont care what yall say about eric clapton, the piano part of that song is intense, especialy the way taylor playd it. nobody said a word til he was finishd.

the silence persisted for nearly a minute, infact.

til D finely said

so yall wana look at some records?

Todd’s warehouse was bigger than it lookd, maybe twice the size of a large selfstorage unit, minus a ceiling.

there were records, of course. crates and crates of records. along all four walls, two and sometimes three deep, stact well past the topa the walls i’d say twelv feet high atleast.

and one rickety wooden ladder.

i’m certain there were records in here which could not be retrievd without atleast tenhours of laborpower and a willingness to risk ones life.

even tho it was goodsized room, because of all the records it was quite intimate for the seven of us. i know its hard to keeptrack so here they areme andy D johnson madi booty-d taylor.

am i leavin anybody out?

jesse! i almost forgot. when we first went into todd’s warehouse, D cut on the light and who should we find, bundled up in a sleepinbag in amongst the records, but jesse? i think he’d been asleep when we came in, but he gotup to hangout with us.

we sat in a circle on the floor, eight of us, indian style, it was comradic as shit. nearly ceremonial, minus the ceremony acourse. unless the ceremony was to openly marvel at the quantity of records.

well, and to smoke pot.

i watched the pipe make its way around the circle.

when it came to me

i took it.

one puff, and nearly four years of sobriety went up in smoke. literaly and metaphoricly.

i began to observ what i guess youd call an auditory hallucination. i could hear the records whispring. very softly, mind you. but when you addedem all up it was definatly audible. for a minnit there i wonderd if we werent all hearin it.

eventialy andy spokeup

if church was like this, i’d go to it.

this is church ⋞ D ⋟ we’re makin it church.

i had to ask

d’you know howmany ⋞ it was hard to say the word in here ⋟ r,records, todd has?

in here? ⋞ D ⋟ or total?

total i guess.

i have a pretygood idea.

three hundred thousand ⋞ johnson ⋟


more than that?

D was quiet.

justell us ⋞ andy ⋟

i’m onna hafta plead bartleby on this one yall, i’d prefer not to.

why you gota be like that, D? ⋞ johnson ⋟

i dont wannit gettin back to todd.

atleast tell me ⋞ johnson ⋟ i dont live in athens, i can actialy keep a secret.

cant risk it, sorry dudes. if it got back to todd he’d lose it. he can barely keepitogether as it is.

i chimed in

he knows, i think. i heard im say he had a hundred thousand.

todd had ahundredthousan records by the time he was in highschool dude. he’s fiftytwo now, do the math. and its not a steady slope orwhatever, its a parabola.

ive been to his house ⋞ jesse ⋟ theres only like two hundred thousand records there. unless he’s got secretrooms.

how does he live with that many records? ⋞ me ⋟

he doesnt live there ⋞ andy ⋟ he just keeps his records there.

he has a house just for records? ⋞ me ⋟

two houses ⋞ D said that ⋟

you could hear pin drop.

theres another house? ⋞ andy finely askd ⋟

D nodded.

and its huge. and its full of records.

[ a moment of silence ]

my god ⋞ johnson ⋟

i would pay to see that ⋞ booty-d ⋟

you dont wana see it, trustme. todd hasnt been there in two years, he just sends his minions with crates and ladders, you cant get to the second story sep thru the windows, their painted shut, we had to bust em out.

we must be talkin over a

dont say it ⋞ D ⋟ its best not to hav it out there.

he’s just one step away from complete madness ⋞ johnson ⋟ one small step.

D shot back

oh but arent we all?

Afterwards, we gotback in the van and booty-d drove around takin peeple to their houses




when he finaly pointed the van towrd odd hill, it felt like somethin was coming to an end. i guess it wasthe night.

but something else was just beginning.

chapter 29:

all in

SCRRR —   - –  -  -

[ van door slidin open ]

we were parkd infronta 195. i musta dozed off.

bootydharma stood outside the van.

behind him, the sky burnd ornge.

sunrise, yall.


we watchd it thru the open door of the van. a buncha clouds in the way but the sun winkd at us from betweenem, kinda reminded me of frank.

max figured out we were home and got tired of waitin for us to come inside. i dont know how he got out, but he was runnin towrd the van, you could hear his coller jinglin.

andy said

prepare to be mauld with love.

i prepared [ as much as one can prepare ]



flasha fur—

tung flappin—

then, imagine one a those comics where the beast is frozen mid-jumpteeth bared, comin right for you

for me, i mean. thats who he mauld first.

it was awsom. dog-breath-sloppy-tung-littl-hairs-on-your-lips-youd-hafta-pickemoff-later awsom.

then me and max had a convee, i’ll translate from the dog but i hafta warn you it doesnt translate too good.

i’m sory we leftya, boy.

welcome home!

i wish we’d brought you with us, youda had fun, you woulda liked todds records, i betchyou woulda lickd em.

this rules!

i’ll get you a treat soonas we get inside, o-k boy?

i love you!

you will note that all my statements were about the past or the future, while all max’s were about the present.

i’m workin on that.

max is helpin me.

one by one, max visited evrybody, givin each one of em the same level of atention he’d given me, it woulda made ticknot proud, infact i wonder if ticknot doesnt have a little dog in im.

when max was finishd, D cleard her throat.

all in, yall. its hi-time.

fuckyahh all in! ⋞ andy ⋟

they all tumbled outa the van and assembled under the oak tree, formd a little huddle like in footballD, andy, johnson, booty-d, max stuck his head in there too. they left a place open for me, and what can i say? i took it.

between D and andy.

imediatly went flyin back

thats how i figured out you were spose to push.

i dug in and started pushin like a scrum in rugby, but the scrum was movin the opposit direction of D and her low center a gravity, we realigned, the pile equalized, evrybody still pushin but we canceld eachother out. they lowerd their heads, we did, sqeezd em in together like wedges in a trivial pursuit pie. that sent us staggerin back away from Dshe has some strong legs, i heard she can squat four hundred tho ive never seen it donere-equalized, i became aware of a smell, a fecundity, my skull prest into D’s and andy’s, theirs into mine, i got a headache tho i hear you eventialy stop gettinem, hair skin nerves blood vessels pusht outa the way almost like your minds are touchin, my temples throbd my legs were tremblin my eyes i dont know if they were open or closed it was like lookin into a strobe lite

i musta stopt pushin cause the pile lurchd back, i staggerd then recoverd, nobody said anything but i knew i had to keep pushin or this thing wouldnt work. we restabalized, inhaled fecundity, nerves shuvd outa the way temples throbd skuls threatend to fuse and the flashing like before but this time i wasnt afraid, if anything i pushd harder, evrybody did til the flashing wentaway and the throbbing, and all that was left was stillness. emptiness. plenitude. geist.

all in

it seemd to come from inside my head our heads our headandy D johnson booty-d, i think i even heard max say it.

all in

all in

all in

all in

all in

guess they were waitin on me.

you know how the judge said to the kid at the end of blood meridian it was required of no man to give more than he possesd nor was any mans share compared to anothers, only each was calld on to empty his heart into the common and one didnot, can you tell me who that one was?

it was me.

but it didnt hafta be.

all in.

some say you dont have a choice. i say you do. even if theres only one choice you still hafta make it.

Afterwards we stood around in a daze, like somebody on mortal kombat waitin for you to finish im.

excepfor johnson. he was off by himself, sittin on the ground with his head in his hands.

andy said

evrything allright, j-man?

johnson lookd up.

thats my first all in since i moovd.

people in portland dont all in?

i gues they do, i dont know, me and wendy dont, whats the point when theres just the two a you, you mightaswell fuck.

talk about alienation ⋞ D ⋟ who needs the capitalist mode of production when you got the nuke famly? altho i gues they do go hand in hand


quite the opposit, actialy andy.

theres this couple wendy knows from work. we’re gettin to be good friends.

gettin to be? youv been there like a year.

two, almost.

a-l’s been here less’n twenny four hours and hes all in.

portland aint like athens, D. nowhere is.

whyd you moov again? ⋞ D ⋟

aww, dont be sad ⋞ andy ⋟ D, chill.

no, D’s right ⋞ johnson ⋟ it was my choice. our choice. its good to remember that sometimes.

its aright j-man.

andy wrapt him in an ape arm, D nesseld him to her bosom, and it was allright, atleast for the moment.

which i guess is all weve got.

you could moovback yknow ⋞ D ⋟ you and wendy.

and do what for jobs?

beljean’d take ya back in a heartbeat.

yeah ⋞ johnson ⋟ makin tendollers an hour.

you always had enuf to eat and a few bucks in yer pocket.

its difrent now.

whats difernt? yall aint havin a kid, are ya?

[ silence ]

i rememberd then, somethin which i’d noticed earlier but temporarily forgotwhere were all the kids in athens? didnt these people breed? did they keepem loct in the basement, was this gona be like the ones who walk away from omelas?

johnson broke into a smile.

maybe now yall’ll come visit me.

holy shit! ⋞ andy ⋟


mad scramble to hug johnson, max lict his face til he fell over, evrybody piled on top.

dont tell wendy i told ya. we’re not oficialy tellin peeple yet.

whens it due? ⋞ andy ⋟

not for a wile.

dont play ignrant ⋞ D ⋟ you know the date.

december fifteenth ⋞ johnson spoke from the bottom of the pile, while atempting to evade max’s tung ⋟ its just an estimate, it couldbe longer we’re gona do it natral, wendy found this great midwife max, CHILL!

max elected not to chill.

i hereby proclamate ⋞ andy ⋟ that evrybody do a shot, outa the first thing that somebody produces.

andy went for his pocket, but it was booty-d who was qwikest on the draw, he uncapt a flask and stuck it under D’s nose.

D snift it. made a face.

oldcrow are you seerius?

dooo-it ⋞ andy ⋟


she did, evrybody did. i even put a litle on my tung, like comunion wine i mean the blood of christ.

johnson was gettin prety verklempt.

next fathersday, i’ll get a card. do yall know how awsom that is?

i had a guess.

i askd to borrow a phone.

two fones came flyin at me, i caut one and had to swat the other one away or i woulda lost another tooth.

threeinarow, D. your slipin.

mine left my hand first. you were jus closer.

the way they make a game of evrythingmaybe terry-e was right, the point is pointlessness.

8 1 7

then how did we let it get away?

6 6 4

did something take it? or is it our nature to let it go?

5 0 9 1

to trade it, for security. anything to keep the wolf from the door

or was it 1-9?. . . no, its 9-1, i can still see where she wrote it the night we met, on the back of a goldenrod flyer. she used oldstyle figures, dont think that shit was lost on me yall, i use ta be a typesetter

8 1 7. 6 6 4. 5 0 9 1


shes not gona anser.


do you even want her to anser? i think so, parta me does, should i feel guilty for not bein sure?


who cares, its not like i can control what happens just by thinkin about it... but what if i can?


dont think, just let it happen as its meant to happen.


how many times should you let it ring?


afraid for her to anser, afraid to hangup too soon, always afraid thats why i needed constant reasurance poor claire.


thats definatly enough rings, now you dont hafta feel guilty for hangin up. exept maybe for hopin she wouldnt anser. but you kinda hoped she would too. you always hedge your bets dont you?


but you can change at any time. you do change. your a new person, evry second


no anser? ⋞ andy ⋟

no anser.

then D said the most suprizing thing i’d heard in a wile.

oh dude i almost forgotyou gota be at work soon.

[ power moveact confused ]


marko’s gotcha on graveyard, which around here means 7 to 2. this time its not optional, if you dont show up its somebody elses job, so do you want it or not?

i dont know.

decision time, chop chop.

whatime is it now?

six forty three.

fifty three, oh-three, minus three

i cant be ready in i mean i cant work now.

caint never could, evrybody works their firsday ⋞ D ⋟ and tho it might sound like im bein hyperbolic, i assure you i am not.

even peeple, who arent stayin?

is that whatcha are al? ⋞ andy ⋟

i hafta getback to fortworth.

[ sounded absurd, i admit ]

tell ya what ⋞ D ⋟ we’re walkin to bluesky. you can come with us, ornot. but i should warn ya its a six-minnit walk. which gives you exacly... ⋞ lookin at her fone ⋟ ten minnits, to make up your mind.

i didnt need ten minnits. i went to bluesky. and what happend there

remember how i said my life started to change when i found that punchcard?

well bluesky is where it finishd.

chapter 30:


We walkd there together, me andy D johnson and booty-d. max came too, justo make sure it was safe.

we got waylaid by this guy named pete, we stopt for a round of shots etcetera etcetera, but eventialy we made it to the top of odd hill.

it kinda suprized me, all of a sudden the trees clear out and there you are in a bright summer morning with the overlook below you and bluesky behind you in all its blueskyness. you could hear the chatter and the piano. you could smell the coffee from here.

You can do this al, its just a shift.

its not like its the rest of your life.

just walk in there like your john wayne and this is a saloon

and i would have too, excepfor this one thing standin between me and the door:


hands on hips, lookin quite the riptidian obstacl.

im not late am i?

thirteen minnits an countin.

[ he dared me to ask for a watch ]

i asume you got a chance to read The List.

yeah ⋞ a lie, obviusly ⋟

then you are already aware that an employee whos more’n fifteen minnits late dudnt get paid the first hour. not a thing the union can do about it, i got it in writin.

so let me by and i wont be late.

the curl of his lip said it all

just try and get past me.

i tried—

but he caught me

like i was a line drive and he was ozzie smith.

held me there, wriggling

then dropt me.

i went down hard. hit my nose my balls and evrything in between.

i wasnt cryin but tears were in my eyes.

oops ya fell ⋞ marko snickerd ⋟

then i got an idea. i started moanin and groanin.

do you have a towel?

whada you need a towl for?

my nose is bleedin, its gettin on the floor.

that got his atention.

your nose aint bleedin.

but just to make sure, he bent down to check.

i waited til he was in range, then...

chomp! on the tip of his nose

marko recoild

i bolted

got about two steps before marko grabd my ankle.

i hit the ground, caut myself this time, so atleast i didnt hit my nose but it knockt the wind outa me, before i could move, markos knee was behind my head and he prest down hard, no way i could get outof it, but i wasnt gona give him the satisfaction of beggin or i was gona try not to but he prest harder and harder til i thought my head was gona split open, then

i was free.

look at the time, quarter after already.

marko stood aside and gestured, after you.

So i went inside

and evrything got quiet. instantly. even the piano stopt playin. total silence. which was weird, cause there were alota peeple in here. mostofem peeple i knew. julien madi kayla, dave an kathleen, krysha and vince, jesse whosevrywhere, nathan prater, trish tyler and all the bluesky folks, taylor [ sans camra ] and my whole crewandy D johnson booty-d max [ i gues they snuck in the back while marko was distractin me ] saxy larry, jondavies and his arketypal laugh, doctor shithammer and the other al with blunts, frank with his hand completely coverin his face, c-fouls was there tho i didnt know it yet, even Andrewprater, in a temporarily peaceful capacity, i think his head hurt too much to atempt any more evil deeds tonite.

evrybody i’d met, pretymuch. exept peeple who had posts they couldnot abandon. or who were on the lam.

whatre yall all doin here?

[ what i wanted to say was, are yall all here for me? ]

we wanted to make sure ya had custammers ⋞ julien ⋟

then the album started playin, the opening to king of carrot flowersyknow, doom doom doom, doodudda doom doomwhere was it comin from? it seemd to just be outa the air

hello? ⋞ booty-d ⋟

oh. his ringtone.

[ . . . ]

sure, hold on.

booty-d handed me his phone.

its your mom.



its really loud there al, are you at a party?

not realy. well maybe.

your gona hafta speak up i can barely hear ya.

howd you get this number?

i’m your mama.

that doesnt anser my question.

wana see somethin cool? watch this

a cellphone rang, it sounded like a bullfrog.

trish said,


it was my mother. i could hear her talkin to trish

can i speak to the hansomest boy in the room?

theres a lota hansom boys in this room ⋞ trish ⋟

but the hansomest one. thats the one i wana talk to.

here ya go hansom.

trish flipt me her phone.

idnt that prety cool?

[ i could hear my mother in both fones at once ]

how are you doin this?

i toldja, i’m your mama.

mamaanser me.

[ kaff kaff ]

sorry, i got this throat thing from daddy, i cant get rid of it, member i toldja boutit? i think i should take a antibiotic but you know daddy, he said just take a tylenol and drink lotsa water. speakin a daddy, you know what he’s doin right now?



whats goin on?

whado you thinks goin on?

i hav no idea.

you dont even have a guess?

look inside dude ⋞ D ⋟

who was that? ⋞ mama ⋟


deidra? she sounds nice.

she is nice.

remember when you foundout about sanna claus? it was nicole addison that toldja, on the way home from school. you remember nicole, dontcha? yall use to say she had cooties.

i’d forgoten about her.

well she was the one. and as soon as we dropt her off you said mama, are you and daddy sanna-claus? i said well whadaya think, al? and do you remember what you said?


you lookd at me with this serius face and you said you didnt think reindeer could fly, but maybe if they were filld with helium and they had engines they could carry santa. that was your story, and you stuck to it. til the next year you caught us.

i cant help it if i need proof.

you remember what you askd me at grams funeral? it was that same year, you askd alota questions that year. we were in the backa uncle mannys car on the way to the cemetery, and you spoke up in your biggest bigboy voice, you said mamawhat happens when you die?

i did?


whatd you say?

i said i dunno, ask me when i’m dead.

whyd you just tell me that?

i cant say it, al. you hafta say it.

you sound like them.

like who?

peeple over here.

thats where i heard it. paw-paw told me.

paw paw?

i toldja i can talk to people over there. i dont think you believd me tho...

[ pause ]

...i guess you do now.

f e e l i n l i g h t  -  -


what is it, al?

light light  maybe i’m made of light  maybe we all are

am i?

you can say it. i’m your mama, i’ll loveya no matter what.

i knew it, parta me knew it allalong, you probly figured it out some time ago, lord knows the clues were there. but the power of denial is prety strong, especialy in this paticular case.

i framed it as a question, which they tell me is actually quite common

am i . . . . dead?

she was bawlin

i was bawlin

there was some serius releasin goin on.

D’s hands were on me, andys were too,

somethin flowerd between us.

andy said


D put her fingertips together and cackled.

all a yall? ⋞ i askd ⋟

andy slung an arm over my sholder.

hapy firsday, m’brutha.

then evrybody said it at once


i was prety choked up, it took me a minnit to get it together enuf to ask mama the thing foremost on my mind, the first thing evrybody asks, i hear

howd it happen?

oh, al. it doesnt matter.


its not important. if it was, youd remember it.

is it bad?

its not bad or good. its like bein born, thats what pawpaw says. it dudnt matter how you got there, all that matters is your there.

whatabout claire?

she’s a strong strong person. one a the strongest people i ever met. she started a new painting, its her way of dealin with it i think ⋞ she was doin her best not to cry but her voice was gettin wobbly ⋟ she let me and daddy look at it, and alyou wouldnt believe how good it is, it made me feel all these feelins i didnt know i had. it made daddy cry. i wish i could describe it better. youd love it al, i know you would.

i wish i could see it.

i wish you could too.

[ her sniflin. me doin the same ]

max said


you can talk to yer mama anytime tho, al, sounds like somebody needs ya more than i do. but whenever you feel lonely or sad, just think a me and i’ll call, ok? anytime, day or nite. ten times a day if you want.


i just need to ask one thingsomethin evry mamas gotta know.


are ya happy?


uh-huh. its ok to be happy, it dudnt mean your not sad too.

i considerd.

i guess i think i mean, yes.

then i’m happy too.

Afterwards i went outside. to be by myself, mostly. to cry. and think about shit.

i thought about alota shit. claire and gabe, my parents and all the other peeple i left over there. life, death, neutral milk hotel. and how the misfit was right, its no real pleasure in life.

only now it didnt depress me.

K said real pleasure isnt what you take pleasure in, its in your mind, and thats not real. its no real pleasure in death either but thats ok, we got somethin better


then i started to laff. tho i was still sorta cryin.

andy stuck his head out and when he saw what i was up to, he turnd around and yelld into bluesky


and peeple started pourin outside. like if theres sucha thing as a herd of bears, thats what got after me.

my chair was instantly flattend, i hid underneeth the table, peeple piled on the table the ductape came off the legs and the whole thing collapsd, if johnson hadnt piled ontopa me it woulda smashd me good, instead it clockd johnson on the backa the head peeple kept pilin on til it got pretty smothersome but johnson and D nelt over me formd a shelter with their bodies i almost wana say manger cause thats what it felt like, it was prety awsom, even if i was dead– -


Marko. had to be. altho i couldnot visualy verify. as i said i was at the botom of a pile.

is A-L under there?

whado i look like, his peridontalist?

[ that was trish if im not mistaken ]

well make sure he gets this message: clock in by seventhirty, or dont bother clockin in at all.

nobody moved.

attention all hipees - - A-L will be clokt in by 7:30 or he’s fired. this servs as the first notice, somebody write it down, now here comes the second

whats that on your nose, marko? ⋞ trish ⋟ looks like teethmarks.

crazy bitch. thinks she can go marmot on me evrytime i maker

i dont recall seein ya with any bitches ⋞ trish ⋟ not lately, anyway.

[ peeple started unpilin ]

im not like you hipees, i keep my shit private.

yeah between you and the interweb. i’ll go on record right now and say i know what a fuckbight looks like, and that aint no fuckbight.

you think you know what a fuckbight looks like.

dam marko, if your wit gets any sharper i’mona hafta start carryin bandaids.

[ crafpile almost broken up by now ]

and speakina notices, if that furnitchers not reasembled by the time i leave, im billin the union. i can do it now, i got it in writin, ask krysha. long as i provide the nesassary equipment, here ya go

he tossd a pair of scisors at trish, and threw a roll of ductape at the pile. it bounced off and hit D’s purse. fermina stuck her head out to check if anybody was tryin to kill her.

they werent.

i mean she’d already been killd.

Evrybody was up now exept me.

chopchop dude ⋞ D ⋟ you dont wana make marko hafta ask twice.

second time he dont usualy get around to askin ⋞ trish ⋟

roof-roof, al! GET UP!

max lickd me on the mouth.

k, max, im gettin up, im getn up.

while max workd on me, evrybody else organized themselvs into groups to get that furnitcher reassembeld, shoutin backanforth about who had the scissors, who had the tape, and who was bogartin the doobie. workin, i mean. in the delitefuly dysfunctional way they do around here.

if they could do it, i could do it.

i stood up.

i felt difrent. i was difrent. lighter, somehow.

they say it never goes away, the lightness. we call it flowting, tho thats a bit misleading. its not like floating, its more like bein carried. only nobodys doin the carryin

exept in the way that we always are. its prety awsom yall. prety fukin awsom. maybe one day youll come here and see what i mean but for now youll just hafta trust me.


tell the rest

I would tell the rest, but there isnt anymore to tell. i mean i jusgot here.

now, i know i mightof been a bit too honest about some peeple, maybe even exagerated a litle for efect, and as i think i warnd you, conversations are reconstructed anyway. but before anybody takes ofence, i wana put it out there that i love evryone  a those fuckers i told you about. evry last one of em. even the assholes. i wana sqeezem til their eyes popout their heads, eat their faces like that monkey travis.

and its not like you could do anything about it anyway, now that im

dead. its still hard to say, so i’ll say it again for practice: dead. i am dead. we are dead. we all are. my friends, my peeps, evrybody i know excepfor my mother.

but i dont feel dead.

the enem aitch yall, neutch milk heavn. i never knew you could love a town the way you do a person. thats one of a million things ive learnd since i got here, am learnin will learn, so many things that im temted to say i never understood it at all beforeyou know, life love etceterabut thatd be a bit hyperbolic.

i’ll tell you this: i talk to my mother evry day now. sometimes twice a day. i actualy crave talkin to the bitch [ sory mama, if your lissnen ] any place that does that to a son must hav some redeemin qualities.

and yes,

i miss claire, i miss the fuck outof her, altho i lose her face a litlebit evryday. and gabe, babygabe, the son i will never knowhere i go craffin againhe will, i expect, growup to be a wonderful soul without the asistance of my deadass, buzzard-atractin carcass that i am to him now or soon willbe, just a patch of grass with a stone by it.

i say it like ive been there and seen it. i havent. im usin my imagination. it is possibl to go back. we call it haunting. its frownd upon over here as much as it is over there, maybe moreso. and not very efectiv either, unless your goal is to torture yourself and your loved ones for years to come.

so, noi havent been back, i dont plan to, altho i would giv my left testicle to see claire one more time, maybe throw in halfa the right one if you plop gabe into the picture. im not bein metaforical yall, im bout ready to havem choptoff anyway, but i wish

see, that was one a those places where you pretend to stop yourself but realy you wana say it, so here it is

i wish you could tell claire what i told you. the whole ridiculus thing, begining to end.

but like i said, upon further reflection that would be a horrible idea. and you probly dont know her anyway.

but if you do, dont letter know you talkd to me.

or, if you hafta say somethin, can you please just say two things for me? one, i love you, i will never stop loving you, and two, its ok to go on without me.

just say that and nothin else ok? even if she begs. i dont want her freakin out oranything. plus she’d never believ you anyway. trust me i know claire.