baseball, poetry, and kim chi

Saturday, June 24, 2006

a Story i wrote in Bangkok

The refusal to put one foot infront of the other had left me in this small town, two stories up, overlooking a main street cobbled with stones too fragile for modern traffic. Only oxen and the carts they pulled gave voice to comerce. The hawkers which lined the street, and their customers which were plentiful, did their buishenss in silence, or in whispers, when bargening became heated.

Every night I slept with my windows open, and through those open windows, only the sound of the ocean crept, and in the morning, it seemed, even the birds respected my slumber.

The boy who took my laundry and brought my food said that many exhaused travelrs had slept in my bed and had stayed for days, a month, never more, they always left in time. No, he said, reservations were not taken, only that people left when they should, that I should feel no obligation, that there was no one waiting.

My energy, and with it, my desires began to return. I asked for, and was brought, a pencil and paper. With the help of the boy, i moved a desk infront of the window with the promise that i would move it back, with his help of course, when i left. He asked only that nothing be changed which could not be changed back. this seemed a small request so i granted it.

Looking at the streets below, uniqiqe in this epock as they were, i felt i should have remembered, no matter how tired I’d been, crossing over them. But I could not. What did i remember? What do I remember, i asked the boy. You remember your youth, your homeland, and your wife, he said. And i did infact remember those things. But this street? i asked, how did i navigate it? You didn’t the boy said. you came in the back door, as all travelers must. But i did not remember this back door either. It will come to you the boy said. May i see it? i said. From the inside for now, and from the outside when you leave, the boy said. But the inside will not help, i said, i’m certain i’ve never seen it before. None the less, he took me to the door. It was large and smelled of green wood, was without a peep hole, or visable hinges.

Never before had i slept so well as i did in my lovely room. In the mornings I’d wake and work until noon and at noon the boy would bring me a coffe and a sandwich. Then I’d go back to work. I was producing. There were no distractions.

It was a lovely day, and realizing that id yet to go outside, wanted to take a stroll. Might I take a walk, i asked the boy. of course, he said, but let me give you a card with our particulars. It was a small town, and i did not feel the need, but why not accept a card when it is offered?

When the boy left to get the card, I stuck my head out the window, to left, down the street, were pastel colored shop fronts and merchant stores and vendors’ smocks behind push carts. a healthy woman exited a butcher’s shop with a bundle of pink wrapping and walked beside the manicured hedge which, waist high, lined the street. I turned my gaze to the right, at a fountain of nudes spitting water and two lovers eating a baguet on its bank and before and past them, more shops fitting the already mentioned description.

I met the boy at the counter down stairs. I am sorry, but i am all of a sudden in a hurry, i said. Of course, the boy said, and handed me the card.

i appologize for interupting, but could not help but hear you; you are are foreiner, and our ears are sensitive, a man in a heavy coat said, but don’t you think, considering that you are going outside, that you should bring, at the very least, an umbrella? he said and handed me his. It is not mine, he said, when i began to thank him. Then whose is it? should i return it? it looks quite expensive. i do not wish to become involved, I said. It is mine, said the boy. No it is not, said the man, it is his, he said and pointed at me, it has always been yours. Consider it a gift, the boy said. But how can you give what is already… it was lost, said the boy interupting the man, now it is returned. I will return it, i said, it is a beautiful day, and if it rains, i thank you in advance.

The boy opened the door for me. When i turned to him, he was holding a heavy coat which i took, put on, and went out into the snow.

I walked down the icy steps, then thought better of going out in such a sudden storm. I returned to the door and knocked. A young strumpet answered. Might i come in, i said, you are blocking my way. You sir are not a gentleman, she said and closed the door. I knocked again. A man in red flannel underwear answered. Tell Javier I don’t like boys, he said and shut the door. I knocked and the door was answered. Who are you, asked a balding woman. I was stumped. While she waited, staring blindly at me, I procuded the card and showed it to her. I am blind she said, but my dog is not, now go away.

I did as i was told. Banks of dirty snow lined the street. The sky was gray and low. I walked towards a factory which billowed smoke and merrow. At the gate a guard shouted at me to get moving in the other... I did and walked away from the factory. i walked for a few minutes, looking down at my wet feet, when i looked up, I was approaching a factory which expelled smoke and marrow. I didn’t want to go any farther and opened a door that said closed

The bar was long and crowded. Men jockeyed each other, positioning to receive a drink. I walked past them and sat down in a large red leather chair by the fireplace. Take off your shoes, my friend, they look wet. I did because they were and placed them right up next to the fireplace. and your socks too. I did. your pants are dripping wet, you must take them off at once. I did. the moment they were off a young woman brought me a heavy robe that smelled like wash. Sherry on the house, she said, for you, everything is on the house. Give me your shirt and drawers too. I did. She hung them by the fire and went away.

Don’t mind the rifraff. Oh, I don’t, i said. They are an unfortunate by product of the indusrial age; I’m sure in hindsight they will be charming. They work in a factory? I asked. The factory. But there are two, I said. On this point, sir, you are mistaken. But Ive seen two, I said. You are mistaken, but not to worry. They bookend the steet, I said. There is only one factory. I would like to work at this factory, but should I turn to the right or the left when I exit this pub? I said. I am your boss. Already, just like that? I said. Don’t you find it presumptuous to be sitting with me? No, not particuarly. You are fired. Just like that? I said. You have no respect for authority. My workers must respect authority. I assure you, I have the greatest respect for authority, I said. You do? I do, I said. Strange for a man in your position. And what position is that, I said. Who do you consider the authority if not yourself? Am I the authority? I said. You are. Then have the barwench bring us two pipes and clear the rest of the bar. And like that, it was done.

After smoking a pipe and contemplating my importance I asked to be taken home.

I sharpened my pencil with a small, rather dull, knife i kept in my pocket. Again, and not to beleabor the point, I was working well, and that was why my knife was dull. I heard the sound of a ball rolling on the street. I looked out the window and deduced that the boys were a team of eleven, ten in green, and one in black. Next i deduced that they played while waiting for their mothers’ knives to be sharpened by an old man sitting on a stool behind a large wet stone. When the sharpeing was done, he called each child by name, blessed them, returned to them their sharpened knife, and sent them on their way.

I looked at my knife. Boy, I said. The boy opened the door. Take my knife down to the man on the street and have it sharpened. The boy took my knife. I watched him cross the street to the old man. The old man shook his head. I watched the boy re-cross the steet. Heard him climb the stairs.

He will not sharpen it. Why not? I asked. He did not say. I will speak with him. the boy looked worried. Quietly of course, I said, and because the situation called for it, put on a tie. A masson passed me on the stairs. What is he doing? I asked the boy. Repairs, but don’t get sidetracked. The boy was right

A man in a heavy coat was sitting in the loby. He handed me his umbrella. i took it without thanking him because i was in a hurry. I stepped through the door and into the snow.

A blue bus pulled up to the curb. I got on. It was crowded with men wearing blue hats, blue jackets, and blue pants. Eveyone had the same color of blue eyes and sat straight backed in blue seats with their hands on their knees. All of the windows were closed and fogged. The floor of the bus was wet from melted snow. I turend to exit, but the door was closed. I sat in the last empty seat. I do not think that you think that you belong here. Nor do i, I said. But the driver only picks up those he should. It is why he is the driver and I am the 37th passenger. Just wait and sit next to the window.

I wiped the fog off the window and watched as we passed bulding after gray building. We went through a gate and i recognized the guard. He did not see me. When the bus stopped i followed 37. He lined up, and i lined up behind him. We faced a large gray building. i am in charge here, I said. They looked at me, and looked at my tie, and as one they shook their heads yes. A girl in high heals came out of the factory and hurried to me through the snow. her cheeks were flushed and when she wispered, I am your secretary. her tounge darted in and out of my ear.

Today the air smells like burnt feathers, i said. Just as you requested, she said. And again, her tounge was in my ear. i patted her on the ass and she motioned for me to follow. A heavely armed guard at the door saluted me. I saluted him back. He took up too much of the door. as I passed he wispered, I am sorry. his tounge darted in and out of my ear. so this is their custom. Not to worry. I said and stuck my tounge in his ear. I wiped the collected wax off my tounge and onto the sleeve of my shirt. We are not all equal, she said. His ears have never been cleaned before. Of course not, I said.

She led me into my office. I manuvered around busts of tropical fish hung from the ceiling on thick brown rope. three of the four walls, each maybe 15 feet high and twenty feet wide, were ant farms. the other wall, which looked onto the factory floor, was a window. It is mirrored, she said. They can not see you. On first glance, I could not see them either. The factory floor looked like a big empty room. It looked sad. I would like to inspect the factory, I said.

Where are all my workers? I said when i was on the factory floor. There is only one, she said. And where might he be? I said. I am in front of you, she said. You are my sole worker? I am. And a secretary? Only a secretary, she said.

A hand gripped my shoulder. My secretary motioned with her chin to turn around, that there was someone who wished to speak with me. I grasped the fingers on my shoulder and tried to pry them off. I could not, so i decided to ignore them. How is production today? I asked. Scent, she said. And masks, a voice behind my back said, and there is one missing. Which mask? my secretary asked, looking high above my head, making eye contact with whatever was behind me. Number one, the voice said, and the hand increadsed its grip on my shoulder. My lovely secretary produced a pair of scissors and cut off my tie. My sight was blocked by another monserous hand which, I assumed, was the second hand from the thing behind me. One finger was inserted into each of my nostrils. It pulled. My head jerked back. I was surprised when my face came off.

News to me! News to me! was all i could shout as the thing deposited me in a cell. There were no rats in the cell. The were no windows. There was no ceiling. there were no walls. A car drove by. I got up and began to walk.

By touch inspection, my face seemed normal. But that wasn’t enough. I wanted to see my face. that proved impossible. Parked cars did not have mirrors. dressing rooms in department stores did not have mirrors. If women on the street had mirrors, they would not share them even when i offered them money i did not have. a public restroom appeared to have a mirror, but it was painted over in black marker.

again, as before, as all agains must, by walking in a straight line, I found myself infront of the factory. And having nowhere else to go, I decided to go in. the guard on duty did not recognize me, and i wouldn’t have expected he would, because i did not recognize him. I am number 38, I said. We have been expecting you, he said. he pressed a button on a remote controll he pulled from his pocket and the barbed wire fence retracted into the ground and was covered by a grating. Go right ahead. Thank you, I said, but where should I go? In. And that is all? Possibley. thank you again. The fence rose when i passed it.

I followed a path of arrows on the ground. the arrows looked like this ^1-178. But then they began to branch off >42&43 <21 I continued to follow the arrows which included 38. unitil finally I saw > 38. I turned right and stopped at door numbver 38. It was locked. I searched in my pocket and found a key. I incerted the key, turned the nob, and walked in.

The factory floor was abuzz. A converyor belt conveyed things counterclockwise. People sat and stood, heads bent over projects.

My secretary grabbed my arm. We have been waiting for you, she said and took me over to a stool, she did not stick her tounge in my ear, and after sitting me next to 37, walked away without another word. So what are we doing today? I said. doing your work all morning, don’t need your help now. What work? I asked becaue he did not look busy. waiting, he said, now I can get onto something easier. his work was intricate. He picked up things, sometimes put them right back down, sometimes held them poised over the conveyor belt waiting, waiting, for god knows what, then put them back down.

He picked up a mask from the conveyor belt and put it back down behind a mask he’d let pass, next came a dictionary. he oppend it to page 805, tore out the second column and handed it to me. I looked at it, saw the word languish, felt bad, wondered if it was a comand or an observation and handed it back to him, but I guess there was nothing else on the page worth reading because he clipped it overhead without even looking at it.

The conveyor belt stopped and everyone groaned. What happened? Someone on the circuit isnt doing their job. The conveyor belt groaned, and with a small lurch, began to move clockwise. 37 put the mask behind the mask and inserted page 805 back in the dictionary.

Masks passed infront of me. I did not touch them. When the converyor belt stoped, I groaned just like everyone else.

i was responsible for was reading page 805 when 37 handed it to me, and, as far as i could tell, nothing else. I’d read it, then hand it back, and he’d clip it overhead

There were hundreds of masks, but only one dictionary and the dictionary never completed an orbit; always, before completion, it, along with everything else on the belt, reversed direction.

Besides reading page 805, I also observed. This room, save for the conveyor belt, the workers, machines, red brick floor, casino red walls, height of celiling, florecent lights, was the same as the one I’d been in earlier, before the goon had taken me under his arm like a loaf of bread and locked me in a cell from which i escaped; even the mirrored wall, in the distance, two stories above the workfloor was the same. I did not remember it being concaved, but my memory, as of late, was a bit hazzy. And the mirror, even if could have given me an honest rendering of my face, as I’d so desperately wanted before, was too far away, and too high, to capture my likeness. All i could see in it was what it reflected onto itself, and even that, was too distant to understand.

this room, however, did not have a bathroom, and considering my minimal responsibility, decided an absence of a few minutes would not hurt production. I got up from my stool and began to walk towards a door with a bathroom sign above it. before I could enter, however, my secretary darted infront of me and blocked my enterence. Where are you going? she asked. To the bathroom. You didn’t ask, she said. there was no arguing with her, so I asked, can I go to the bathroom? I don’t know, can you? this game was not new to me, she’d obviously borrowed it, and knowing i was right, that my word choice was as correct as what she desired, I pushed her asside. The exertion forced me to begin peeing, not a lot, I caught myself, but enough to know I’d peed in my pants. she screamed and grabbed my colar. I turned and punched her in the nose. The blow to her face would have been enough to free myself, but my turning had won my freedom, and the punch was just for good measure. i ran into the bathroom to relieve myself.

I was not supprised when i came out. the thing was there: huge, smelling like bacon and milk, bent forward like a ski jumper so his face was paralel with mine, number 2 wants to see you, he said.

I was led down a hallway which looked like a giant PVC pipe, the only difference being the multicollored neon lights which curfved this way and that, like a child’s new cursive. There was no door to number 2’s office. And though he must have heard us, everything in the tunnel echoed, he feigned surprise, going so far as to say, oh my! when the thing coughed to draw his attention.

Oh, my! said number two and with seductivness befitting a man dressed only in fishnet tights, as he was, pirowetted, and shimmied over to us. He excused the thing, patting it on the butt, a perfect gentlemenan, he said, indicating the thing as it walked down the hall.

Number 2 said nothing else until the thing had exited, and closed the door behind him, leaving only the two of us. Would you like something to drink? I bet you are a wiskey man, he said and placed a stetson hat on his head. what do you say cowboy? Whisky would be fine, I said. He smiled, flashing a gold tooth and the diamond it held. Anything else? He said. No, I said, whiskey will sufice. NOthing else? Anything, really. Anything you like, he said. Whiskey, I said. He grabbed my hand and placed it on his cock. i looked down. It was huge and erect and sticking out of his fishnets. Belongs to boris, he said. But I am not boris and i do not want it, I said, and his penis began to shrivil in my hand. It got smaller and smaller, down to cherub size, becoming lost in his pubic hair, and then it disapeared all together, turning inside out. His pussy became wet. Nice trick, I said, and felt the pressure of two breasts against my chest. He leaned closer to me. his whiskers were gone and so was his voice, because when he said, Anything else, for the third time, I felt much different about the question than i had when he’d posed it moments before, You a lady? I asked. Of course. You were never a man? I asked. No. Really? Don’t insult me honey, what does it look like to you. There was no denying it.

I steped back to admire her. Her red toenails and dark skin. He subtle calves, long legs and little nest of pubic hair, under her black fishnets. Her breast with dark nipples, rigid and turned up slightly. and her face without a blemish. Even her cowboy hat, tilted slightly forward, was sexy.

I laid her back on the desk, but before i could fuck her, she said, I am shy, and covered her face with the cowboy hat. There was something pleasant in this, a woman with no head. It excited me and i began to work. the desk rattled, and the rattle echoed off of the PVC. If anyone was curious, it wouldn’t take an ease dropper to hear. You hot bitch, I said. Give me that cock, she said. I’m giving it baby, I said. Give it to me, she said, and I did, it came right off. Thank you baby, she said. I looked down at my completely sexless pelvis. While my pelvis was like a manakin, hers, I guess I should say his, because she was wearing my cock, in fact, it was pointing at me. There was no mistaking it, even the mole which looked like fidel castro was there. I was speachelss. It was a beautiful cock. I’d never been so jelouss in my life.

I pulled up my pants even though there was nothing to hide

Number 2 sat up and placed the cowboy hat on the desk. It seems you had a run in with the secretary, he said, flashing the gold tooth. yes, but…I said. We don’t take those things litely here, he continued. I grabbed hold of my cock and yanked. Number 2 fell off the desk. And now you are abusing me? number 2 said. I’d only like back what is mine. And who are you? Number 37, I said. A hand on my shoulder announced that the thing had returned. A giant finger was inserted into each nostril. it pulled. My face came off. Not likely, number two said, Take him to the eunichs.

The thing took me under its arm and carried me out of the PVC hallway, through the single door. The factory floor was quiet. Everyone was gone. I suspected it was late. Maybe they had gone home for supper. I can walk, I said. The thing put me down. Nothing silly? it asked. do you have other tasks? I asked. Only other hobbies, it said. you are not paid? I asked. I am unskilled, it said. Absurd, in fact, I applaud your efficency. We are here, it said. and opened up a trap door, it revealed a ladder. Climb down.

The afternoon sun was shinning through my window. When the boy brought me a cup of cofee I asked him how i looked. With your eyes, he said and closed the door. I drank my coffe and ate some fruit I’d kept from the day before. Boy, I said, and the boy came back into my room. Who is that man? I said and pointed to the man who’d sharpened the childrens’ knives, but had refused to sharpen mine. He is the butcher, the boy said. but he has a shop, i said, i have seen people coming out of it. Nonetheless, he is the butcher, you asked, why do you aregue? thank you for the information, I said. The boy left, and this time, I could hear his footsteps going down the hall. There were too many songs in my head, so i put a bannan in my pocket and stepped out of my room.

I went down the staris, following the smell of new morter, then, when my ears knew what to hear, the sound of it being applied. i turned the corned to see soft mortar on bricks and the bricks around the green door with no hinges. Why are you doing that? I asked. The door was too low, it needed bricks to prop it up, then it was too high, shortly after, it became too wide, the mason said. the door was bulging under the pressure of the bricks. it flexed in and out, left and right. At my touch, it retreated. The door is still green, the mason said, this is no problem, it will dry, and when it drys it will set in the way that it is and that will be ok. why don’t i buy you a drink, i asked, I knew little about the door besides that it was my exit, and knowing that it was my exit, was enoguh to know that i did not want it covered. You believe I have something to tell you, the mason said, when in fact, i do not. Every moment I waste with you my mortar grows rigid. He dipped his spade back into his metal bucket. Look, even now, it is harder than it was before, and it is harder now than, it is too hard to continue.

I came to the bar at the bottom of the stairs. Upon entering, I found that, besides the bartender, I was alone. whiskey, I said. She uncorked the bottle beneath a tin sign that read: Hot pants are not allowed, please remove them before entering. Ants crawled over this sign, above it, and below it. And though it might have said what i thought it did, namely, that hot pants are not allowed, the lettering itself was in motion, and no longer read what I’d believed it to read, in fact, it read nothing and was only ants moving in their orderly way. But it did read: hot pants are not allowed, please remove them before entering, and just because ants served as lettering did not make the message any less valid. The ants were not limited by the tin sign, instead, though their cluster was greatest there, they made their way in a single file line, down the wall and onto the bar, then across the bar, back up the wall and onto the sign to form the letters.

Your drink. Thank you, i said. They’ll stay away, here they are orderly, there, she said, and pointed out the window, they are not. I will skip the obvious question regarding what you’ve just said, be secretive regarding my motives, and only ask, because I think you are someone who might know a thing or two about what happens in this town: Do you know a man by the name of Boris? It is of the upmost importance that i find him. There are many men who go by that name -- Once, my best dishwasher turned into a magacian. his name was Boris. Someone must know, where he is, but I do not. Besides, she continued, what does a man with soft hands want with Boris? That is my buisness, i said, and showed her a scar on my nuckle. This scar, located in a place that suggested a fight, did not affect her. But when I slamed my tumbled down on the bar, her tune changed.

Look what you’ve done! I have finished my drink, and would like another, I said. Of course, she said, and picked up my tumbled. When she did, an ant fell off the bottom. One, she said, it has yet to give up the ghost, but it will. And here is another, and another. Each ant she pealed off the bottom of my glass was counted. At the last ant she declaired that I’d killed 27. So I have, I said, and slapped the line of ants with an open hand, lifted it from the bar, and placed it before her nose. Again she counted, this time to 45. You’ve killed 72. Now bring me my drink, I said.

In my drink was an ice cube and a dead ant. I stuck my finger into the drink to remove the ant, and when I did, a voice said, seize him. I was seazed and tied to the mast of an ocean going vessle. My maritime experience was limited to Robinson Carouso, so my description might be lacking, please forgive me. the mast i was tied to had a large cream colored sail with a crest i could see only when the wind suddenly reversed driecton, concaving the sail. the crest was of a lion eating a snake, and behind the lion was an ominous tree, tied to which, a black flag with the familiar skull and crossbones flew. The ship, of course, was wooden, maybe twenty yards wide. I’d yet to walk fore and aft, and because i was tied to the mast had not yet dertermined that the ship was roughly onehundred yards long, but, it was. since it is now obivous that at somepoint I’d been released from my position, and all suspence is gone, all i will say is that I was tied there for a few days, given water and bread. there was a single iceberg in the water and we never seemed to outrun it, though it did get smaller, and finally disapear.

My release, when it came, was a result of my delirous bragging. And who are you to brag so much, a pirate asked me. I have two legs, I said, and you have only one, yet i have killed 73, and you sir, how many have you killed? I received no answer, but was imidately released. A black hat was put on my head, a red parrot on my shoulder, and was, from then on, refered to as Captain. Now in charge of a ship with 16 cannons, I could think of nothing better to do than pillage.

The parrot on my shoulder encouraged me to use coloquialisms, like mattety, or salty barnacle. Sea dog, I said to an old haggard sort, almost as blind in his left eye as he was in his right, and his right was covered with a patch. A rope, tied around his waist, ensurfred he could be retreived should he step overboardhe. when he walked, people, on ocassion, did trip over the rope, and at other times, out of spite, his mates gave thr rope a yank, sent him sprawiling and got a good laugh.

Sea dog, I said, What is the name of this ship? The Barren Matilda, he said. Might we take her to a port, inspire some fear, and leave with money and maybe a few women? Captan, he said, as you wish, we are the meanest sort around. let me introduce to you your crew.

Before giving up forever life on the continent, Blody jack over there taught youngsters latin by day, and at night, was asleep before nine. Pleasure to meet you Bloody Jack. I said. Captain, he said. And over there is Stew . Stew taught yaughting to raise money for her opereation. Her? Aye, but now he, and a mighty fine chap i might add, got us out of many a mess, best sailor on the seas. Stew, with always a wind at his back. Aye Stew, good old Stew. But Salty Dog, who is the meanest, I want to know the dang nab most awful bloak on board. Captain, you are the meanest, you’ve killed 73. Me, he continued, I’ve killed a few, and those died only years later when the syphilius I carry made them insane.

Salty dog intuduced me to the rest of my crew. they seemed a nice sort, the kind a gentle old lady would approve of, and knowing this, they’d all come to sea for improvement. They hadnt set down on land for 9 months. They’d run from every ship they’d seen. the only thing cowardice had not induced them to do was lower the sail with their crest, it was true, they loved their crest, it had been a joint effort, but, because they’d not known better, they’d put a pirates ensignia on the very thing which they needed to propel them through the ocean; if they lowered it they’d be at the whim of any passing boat, so they decided it was better to keep the sail ‘hoisted’. but with me aboard, they felt they could become the pirates they’d always strived to be. They had the best equipment, the best boat, everythikng that money could buy, they’d bought, but they’d never had a captain mean enough. And I was their man.

Do not worry, Captain, my parrot said when we were alone, I will help you, but you must do me a favor. When….

There are a few things every pirate ship needs, my parrot said, first, a strong willed, battle worn, captain, a mean abusive and intimidating man that can drink like a fish, is always drunk, even slurs his words, but when the time comes, no matter how drunk, is always a keen swords man. He must be a man with unseen wounds, but these unseen wounds, though their specifics are not known, must not be hidden too deep or he lacks motivation, and hence, authenticity. Second, a unjustly deposed first mate who, while not necessarily a bad sort, sees wekness in the abusive captian, and, though he proffesses to desire mutany for the benefit of the crew, really wants to usurp your power for his own glory, and in this case, that glory will include a beautiful woman who we shall prcure shortly. Salty dog has already cast himself in the part of being the unintentional informant, your little wit will be enough to extract any information you desire from him. He will also provide a bit of physical comedy, and at some moment that physical comedy will enable an outcome which otherwise would have been impossible. Unless necessary, the rest of the men will be background rabble, of no importnace, besides their necessary function of sailing the ship, and being the mob the first mate must sway. Do you understand? Yes, I said. Good, my parrot said, now pick out your first mate, and order him to work the men excessivly hard to complete a meaningless, though dangerous, task.

Salty dog, I said, and when he scurried over to me asked, Who is the first mate? Pure Stan, he said. Call him over, I said. And when he brought Pure Stan to me, I sent him to gather the others and go below deck, leaving Pure Stan, myself, and the parrot beneath the open sky in the endless sea. I recoginized Pure Stan from before. He’d been the one who wore the capitans hat before he recognized in me a more capable leader, cut my ropes, and wilingly stepped down. Yes, capitan, he said. Pure Stan, I said, you are no longer the first mate. I must asses my crew, see who is best suited to be my right hand man, then promote him to the postiton which you now hold. Aye captain, very wise, Pure Stan said. The last order you will give the men, before you blend back into the faceless mass, is this: Srub the ship until it shines.

The mass emerged from the galley, buckets and sponges in hand. They took to their work with glee, splashing eachother with water, and giggling flirtaciously. Unlike the others, Pure Stan took to the work with a solemn dedication. When two men, engagaed in a bear hug, which looked a bit too playful, knocked over his bucket, he thrashed them easily, like a man used to giving beatings, leaving them bloody, but able to work. After that, the eficiency of the crew increased. When they were done scrubbing, I orderd them to sweep all the salt from the deck, then went below to get some rest.

But my parrot would give me no rest. sleep? it said, get drunk, get mean, use your imagination. Getting drunk was easy. One for you, it said. I poured two fingers from a ceramic jar without a label, then drank it down. Now one for me, it said. pour it and lift it, it said. I did. My parrot tested it, as any bird would do, by sticking its gray tounge into the liquid, then pulled its head from the drink, smiled at me, returned its head to the drink, and without my tilting the glass, sucked out the rest. It matched drinks with me, then, as soon as I was drunk, said, now get mean.

Stop sweeping, I said to the men when i returned above deck, Men, you have been at sea a long time, and apart from discreet buggery, have known only your own hand. Tonight, from our deck, we can see the fires burnign on the tropicl island on our starboard side. Tomorrow we shall land, I said, and looked at Pure Stan, to behave as pirates. We shall take what we wish, do as we like, and by the time we return to the Barren Matilda, have become the men we’ve always desired to be.

In the morning we boarded dingys and rowed toward the islend, and, in response, the island launched three boats. I told my men to paddle slowly, to save their strength for the battle which was likely to come. My men talked bravely, words like courage, and glory, were brandied about with the ease of ownership, but as the distance was usurped, and our dark skinned combatans came into view, these words were replaced by quiet expectation

At mid day, we met the three canoes, each filled with a dozen or so savages. When we stoped rowing towards them, they stopped rowing towards us. Be ready men, I said. When one of the canoes seperated from the others and slowly approached our dingies, I stood. Seeing me stand, a savage stood, and his canoe rowed abrest of my dingy, so his bow was at my stern. Be ready men, I said.

Good morning, captain, he said to me, but before I could respond, Pure Stan lept into his canoe. The savages did not resist, didn’t even stand to receive the the blow each face recieved as Pure Stan walked past, and when he reached the savage who’d addressed me, Pure Stan drew his sabor, and rested its blade on the savage’s nose. He’s killed 79! Pure Stan said. No doubt he has, the savage said. Demand something, my parrot wispered into my ear. Your women, or your life, you mangy lizard! I said. My crew roared its approval.

Young savages swung on and jumped from ropes tied to palm trees which bent like questionmarks out over the water. And once in the water, they swam past the savages towing our dingys, and up to us to say, hello, before swimming off in hysterics. When we reached the shore the savage men pulled our boats onto the sand, and with smiles of good will, left us when their savage women, breasts exposed, began to drape wreaths of flowers over our heads, and giggle when they touched our mangy beards; after clasping the hand of the one they desired, they led us inland to a pool fed by a waterfall.

While they bathed us with oils that smelled like mangos, we sang pirate songs about abduction and drink. the women led us out of the pool and sat us down, still naked, at a long table beneath a cnopy of palm frawns. After eating our fill, they sat with us and rubbed our legs and looked at us with pleasing eyes. Their savage men were nowhere to be seen.

At dusk the insects came out. They most closely resembled the house fly, if houseflys glowed so bright a red they cast a shadow. However, unlike house flys, these insects showed no interest in us, did not land on our food, nor bite, nor buzz, and, as already stated above, they glowed red. If anything, they seemed skitish, attempting, it seemed, to keep at least ten yards between us and themselves. When night fell completely, their myriad number, though not commprehensible, was visable in the space, or lack of it which could be seen between them. They gathered so close that one could not see through the glowing wall, and there were so many of these bugs, that i felt surrounded by a wall which moved away, and another wich followed, so that no matter where i moved, the five walls around me remained at ten yards.

This phenominon, though not frightening, was distressing. I felt clostrophobic, and these insects, though much move vivid than lightning bugs back home, seemed to me, very similar to what i knew. However, my woman saw things differently. Though she must have seen this every night, she began to radiate. Not just from the glow of the bugs, but also from excitement. She went away for a moment, the walls parted for her, then closed, then opened again when she came back. When she did, she put eight jars on the table. The jars were glass, maybe half a litter, and had a lid which screwed down, very much like a jar for preserves. The other women gathered round and each took a jar.

obviously the jars were for the bugs. How will you catch them with that? i said. Wait, she said. so we waited. Maybe five or ten minutes passed. since they were only bugs, and we were pirates, we soon lost interest, and began to talk, and eat the food still left on the table. Without warning, the bugs fell. Like a red curtain, they fell as one. So many fell into the sand, they made a sound, and all around us, the sand glowed red. As though nothing unusaull had happened, though with urgency, the women gathered a handfull of bugs each, and dropped them into their jar. after no more than ten seconds the bugs, like a red curtain, rose as one, flickered, went out, and became invisable in the night.

Take what you like! I said to the men. Bloody Jack spoke to his savage in Latin, and she responded in latin, and they walked away from the table and into the darkness. Stew called forth the largest of the savages. Her ears, strenched by the wight of diamonds, hung to her brests, and her breasts, streched by their own weight, hung to her belly, and her belly, though a gem glistend in her naval, rolled forth and lay upon her slight pubic hair for no other reason than because it could and anything less would have brought her less pleasure and anything less would have been undesirable for Stan With The Wind At His Back. They too stood, and after asking for, and receiving, my permisoon, excuesed them selves from the table. Salty dog by this time was talking to the cook. I watched him by the fire and could hear his discussion. On the seas, marange does not rise. but here, on this island. Captain! Look! he shouted, and ran to me with cuped hands filled with risen marange. I dipped my finger in the marange, offered it to my savage woman, who took my finger in her mouth, and sucked it clean. Excellent, I said to Salty dog. Salty dog hurried back to the cook, who, though a young woman, seemed very interested in the things the salty dog wispered into her ear. Now and again she would kiss his neck beside the fire, now mostly coals, which heated the black cauldren above it.

Each member of my crew took what they needed to become the pirate they’d left home to become: a savage woman, numerous savage women, other pirates and savage women, while I, at the head of the table, continued to eat and drink slowly, feeling my savage woman’s fingers on the inside of my left thigh, and my parots feet pacing the length of my right shoulder, her breath in my left ear, and, suddenly, and unpleasantly, the parrot’s voice in my right. Pure Stan is still here, it said. And then, for the first time that night, I noticed Pure Stan seated beside my savage woman, without a woman of his own, seemingly very content, looking out at the waves, at the sky, taking deep breaths. Pure Stan, I said, take a woman. No, he said. You must, I said. Must I, captain? Yes, I said. Eye, Cap, he said, and looked from the table to a savage woman, motioned to her, and whith her seated on his lap, asked if she had a friend whom they both might enjoy. And to the savage friend, when she arrived, he posed the same question, and to that friend, he asked once more. Cracking! my parrot said as Pure Stan disappeared into the mix of savage women, and with them, into the deep beyond the cooking light, grown too feeble to warm, illuminating hardly more than the bottom of the cauldren


Blogger JWG said...

I dont know if this piece is even readable. I can hardly finish it.

3:56 AM


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