First Things First

A man, let’s say–what, with a three-inch penis? That might be amusing. Might also be sad, pathetic even–even tragic, given the proper circumstances (which we can accommodate as things develop). Yes, that will do nicely. What of his countenance? What of that word? What of any word?

First things first. Dispense with the preliminaries; describe something. Right. The weather; that usually works to some advantage or other. It’s raining. No, it’s not dismal nor dreary; merely raining. No, not merely; it’s raining colored fluid. What color, do you think? What would be appropriate? yes, that’s true; I agree; it does indeed depend. On what–that is the question. Red, say. Alizarin crimson’s nice, I find; deep. Transparent like something. Intestinal epidermis, say. Shiny. Glistening, even. Luminous with the translucent phosphorescence of an amniotic sac by candle light, we could say–were we ambitious.

O.K. So we’ve got a man in red shiny weather–do you buy that? O.K. so far? His hair would be wet, then, would it not? No, you’re right; not necessarily; he could be indoors, or in a vehicle, or carrying an umbrella. Well of course it would, what good is an umbrella left unopened? True, his mood, his attitude, right; we could conjecture endlessly upon a man who walks in the rain carrying an unopened umbrella at his side, who does not look up, nor curse the heavens, nor seek out shelter and comfort. Maybe he’s even bald–good point. We could then bring in the windows, crying, the crying windows and the eyes mirroring them, and then when it gets dark–is it dark now?–well when it gets dark the man sees his own reflection in the window which is now a mirror, crying all the same. His own eyes studying him–how? Accusatorily? With pity, contempt, indifference, unrecognition? No, certainly, we would not use “unrecognition,” we would find an apt synonym, that goes without saying. Unless perhaps the very subject of our _____ were negation. Which it is not. As far as I know. No, true enough, that’s not at all very far, I confess; but we ought not admit such things.

Have we established, then, that the man is melancholy? No, right, not necessarily habitually, we’ve not gotten far enough to remark upon his temperament, so tut tut, wait for it.

Maybe he’s inside a glass bubble in the middle of the street–Aureole Avenue, say; that’s got a certain ring to it. Now. Is he rolling or stationary? Maybe a child, a girl, is pushing on the outside, trying to roll him down a hill. Cars, buses, taxis, antelope and the like move past in bunches–herds; quite right. That works. How about “harem,” or better yet “covens”–that’s got certain primitive-sacrificial connotations. (I see the girl naked, why do you suppose I see the girl naked–not even nude, you understand, but shamefully naked, cold and alone. What does that say about me, do you reckon? Never mind, you’re absolutely right: I don’t enter into it. The picture, into the picture. Onwords.)

They speed; very busy; one wonders wither they are headed all, in such post-haste amade, whether they are chasing something, or perhaps being chased by that something or by another something or all of the above. Now we’re getting into sticky business–motives, past behavior, revenge or lust, religious fanaticism, and the hunter vs. prey archetype with all its concomitant connotations. We may even get legalistic, if we’re not careful. Or, what’s worse, moralistic. God forbid. Har har, tut tut, pah. They gawk. (Is she indeed naked?–Are we all O.K. with that?–Because I can’t seem to get around her. Clothe her if you must. Let’s make her a mummy. [I could go on with that for some time– “make her a mummy” –but never fear, I say could. Naked. Very well.) So they gawk, these passersby, so to speak, at the sight of this girl trying to push this glass bubble with this three-inch-penised man inside it–he’s naked, also, you see. Don’t ask me why, just . . . All right, fine, fair enough: he’s naked otherwise why bother about his penis? Eh? See, see? True; it could work out for something later, something more important, a sexual encounter or the like; his childhood, affinity for mother (they say Hitler suffered from same; we could make him Hitler, in a fish bowl, figuratively speaking, only we wouldn’t discover this until the end; mull that and get back to me), locker room trauma, penis envy and thus identification with womanhood. Right, I agree. But let’s leave him naked anyway.

So people slow down as they pass this bubble, look through red wet intestinal windows, wipers squeegeeing of course, also perhaps squeegeeers squeegeeing (which would put us in a relatively sizable city, or a deprived-and-poverty-stricken-but not-necessarily-so-sizable city, and thus we’d have established a setting [albeit a vague one, not exactly a locale per se], on which those readers with a sociological bent may comment), and because the sight is odd the traffic does not hit the bubble. Yes, that’s significant. The people merely observe, curious, perhaps slightly appalled, though one ought not speculate. Speculate, maybe; but let us not assume outright. They have their heads turned or eyes averted toward mirrors and consequently they often fail to watch where they are going and end up crashing into one another. Yes. They look at what they cannot understand, at what is not them; they look into rearview mirrors and consequently crash and sometimes die or require hospitalization, often dying in emergency-room waiting lines. But miraculously–can one say that? you’ll allow it? fabulous–the bubble remains intact, because people avoid it or drive by it with great caution. And meanwhile, meanwhile, some observers look at their neighboring observers to see that they, too, are in fact observing, and that this spectacle is neither a drug- nor heat-induced hallucination–Right, it’s not in the least hot. But panic manifests often in sweat. Fine; forget that. To see that their subjective impressions are universal (relatively speaking), their concept of normalcy and prudence intact and shared and their place in right-minded society assured. (For staring at that which is banal can be uncouth.) So these chaperoos also, many of them, crash in their panic-stricken effort to maintain conventionally acceptable behavior. Eh? Many, too, look elsewhere to ensure that they are not surrounded by giant transparent bubbles with cold naked girls in them, lest they are thus exiled to minority status for residing in automobiles instead of bubbles, a failing for which they could be arrested or ostracized.

This is becoming a regular allegory, is it not? That can’t be good.

So the girl keeps pushing . . .

Who is this girl? An orphan? An abortion? Was she raised by wolves or in a bee hive or a kitchen? No, just a girl, say. Dare we say such a thing?

Now–O.K., fine, yes; at 5:47 P.M. on Thursday–happy now?–no; let’s make it Sunday. A sabbath day, you see. Potentially a Bloody Sunday. And furthermore, as has been established, a “Sun-day” distinctly lacking sun. That’s as far as we’ll go. At this time. At this time a woman stands in readiness. At this time a woman stands in the doorway of a building, a brothel, no a monastery, no a courthouse, no no a Muslim temple, no no no, no spirituality, not in this day and age, an outhouse. Right. A cafe, looking out into the red tumult. Yes, that’s good; the tumult. Perhaps she owns it. (The cafe, not the tumult.) She doesn’t come out, just looks. Now she calls out:

Mary! Mary!

Mary is a common enough name, and yet has Biblical connotations both virginal whorish and miraculous and so forth. We could use either or both. Or neither. Yes; let us not forget that neither remains an option. No no, you misunderstand, I say “neither” [the use thereof] remains an option, precluding [if used] the other two, but only if used, that is, opted for. We could do something with merry or marry or both, or, yet again, neither. Maybe even mar. We could employ some etymology, had we the time. It might be a stretch, yes, I agree. Is stretching technically impermissable? We could pull it off, though, perhaps. Stranger things have happened, as they say. That’s true; ‘they’ is ambiguous–vague, in fact; and possibly pretentious. Quite. I will make a conscious effort to avoid its further appearance.

But who does say that? Believers? People with faith? The gullible? You’re right; that’s neither here nor there. I should stop. It’s a question to ponder, though, if not investigate; time permitting. But who should investigate? The curious? The skeptical? Right; sorry. No “they’s” without antecedents.

Back up. She should be divorced, this woman. That’s pretty fashionable these days. I beg your pardon? No, not at all; ‘fashionable’ is strictly descriptive; I imply nothing. It’s an issue, is all. No derogatory intent. I condemn nothing. For the moment. The husband is dead–killed in the line of duty. But what duty? Do we still believe in such notions? No, he was drunk, and strung out on meth, waiting at a bus stop, for his crack dealer, no, leaving town, running from the law and from his past and from himself, his selves, both former and present, and possibly future, yes well he is emotionally and chemically disoriented after all, and the bus hit him since his impaired depth-perception coupled with manic anxiety caused him to step out into the street prematurely. No? Did he drown then? Maybe ate beef infected with that particularly unpleasant bacteria–that’s timely. We don’t know. There. There we are. The girl and her mother don’t even know; they have the police looking for him because he is obligated to pay child support, but he cannot be found.

He is nowhere to be found. (i.e. he is lost, i.e. a lost soul . . .)

He is a missing person. (could be taken as one who misses, or is missed, or is displaced [in existence], or does not exist [in this place] . . .)

Mary! Mary!

The girl cannot hear because a red internal storm is erupting and everything is honking and roaring both within and without and the voice of a strange personal deity or an angelic messenger is thick in her ears and beyond that she is schizophrenic and M.P.D. and can never differentiate between voices between the real and the imaginary she is quixotic nor can she decide which of her selves is the ‘real’ self or if the whole is the sum of its parts and the aggregate of said selves makes up the ‘true’ ‘self’ and we might here speculate upon her past some horrendous cataclysmic catastrophe (as opposed to a minor catastrophe failing to horrify) or merely (merely?), again, the aggregate of an infinite (infinite?) succession of trivial wee catastrophes (or bummers, to be technical) tapping away since childhood (wait–she is a child) since birth since the womb since before even that, the trauma of gestation, nevermind birth, tapping away at the chisel fixed upon one spot in the developing (and probably precocious) personality, but then, wait, alas, from whence cometh the chisel itself, is it genetic perhaps, what of the father, we need now know more about the father. No, nevermind. Suffice it to say she is possessed by demons, metaphorically or literally depending on your religious affiliations, a ‘real’ ‘lost’ ‘soul,’ but are we alluding here to Gogol or the more contemporary Poppy Z. Brite, or both, yet it’s up to you, that’s your job, well pretend I’ve hired you–I have, in a sense. Well pretend you’re being paid, by the hour or on salary, as you like, with full benefits, which however it is up to you to abuse. She can only hear dog frequencies because she was, after all, raised by wolves under the supervision of a one Dr. Skinner represented by a one Clarence Darrow under the supervision of a one H.F. Godd, if you will, or whether you will or no, who observes all in spite of all

What was that all about? No, that was beyond a tangent. Digressive, nothing. Was that what you’d call a brainstorm? A tempest–and is calm not apt to follow?

No, not unbelievably likely. But who’s to say?

Maybe she’s more concerned with penises and oddity and fragile things requiring protection than with her mother, being protected, or the goings on of the world; she longs to be like the snail and his cousin the turtle, but this means fleeing the shelter housed and hindered by yet another. (The bubble, right. Do keep up.) She wishes to be with the man, to be like the man, to be the man. Maybe she does not wish at all, she cannot dream. Maybe she does not wish to–to wish. To answer. To listen. To hear. She pretends to be deaf, has pretended for so long that she has become deaf.

Maybe it’s wrong or unnecessary or irrelevant or a waste of time and energy and ink and trees to look further into the matter. Maybe I should ask where am I in relation to.


Copyright 1999 by dustin hansen