chapter 30


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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.

i m 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 moren

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 - -

keep scrolling

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, marko s 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 crew— andy 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 shit  hammer 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 andrew prater, 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 could not abandon. or who were on the lam.

what re 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
flowers—  y know, doom doom doom, doodudda doom doom— where
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.

mama— anser 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.

id 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 mama— what 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.

feelin light


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,

ill love  ya 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.

Ds 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, mbrutha.

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—

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 al— you 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 ill call, ok? anytime, day or nite. ten times a day if you want.


i just need to ask one thing— somethin 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
and thats not real. its no real pleasure in death either  but thats ok,
we got somethin better eachother

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


[ 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? 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 ]

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

yeah between you and the interweb. ill go on record

rightnow and say i know what a fuckbight looks like,

and that aint no fuckbight.

you think you knowhat a fuckbight looks like.

dam marko, if your wit gets any sharper im  ona hafta

start carryin bandaids.

[ crafpile almost broken up by now ]

and speakina notices, if that furnitchers not reasembled by

the time i leave, i m 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 Ds purse. fermina stuck her head out to check if anybody was tryin to kill her.

they werent.

i mean shed 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, i m gettin up, i m 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 nobody s 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.