A contagious confluence, metaphorical hydraulics in chronofluidity, multiple rippling effects.

Location: Lawrence, Kansas

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

More Outfluenza

Licked bimonthly,
stegosauruses begrudge
salesmen’s contraptions.

Sepia background,
immediate, indistinct,
involute keystone.

Lean acerbity,
bulky, inefficient, prone,
achromatic eels.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Split

Flint Locke arrived early at the Hole. Herb noticed that instead of ordering a Mickey’s, Flint said, “I’ll have a beer.”



Herb also noticed that Flint, already a man of few words, was less talkative than usual and spoke with his jaw clenched, kind of like Rod Serling. Flint took his beer and moved to a table to wait for his men. He’d found a biker tattoo artist at Myrtle Beach who agreed to perform the tongue slitting. He’d spent the last few weeks letting it heal and, at the bathroom mirror, trying out different facial expressions, sneers, snarls, and tongue-flickings to gauge how he could best use this evolutionary development to affect his followers and win converts to the cause. He also was beginning to have second thoughts about the lisp. He became more conscious of his speech and his word choices. He began training himself to be more careful when responding verbally and choose his words carefully. Besides hiding the lisp, he was sure this tactic made him appear more serious and thoughtful.

This would be the first time the Troopers had met since the split. He had told his men that he was taking off a few weeks to help his mother move from Pensacola to Lubbock. During that period he’d also found an unlicensed Filipino doctor who agreed to perform the tarsal amputations. The procedure for the right foot was scheduled for next week. After a period of recovery and adjustment, he’d then have the left foot done.

Outfluenza (More Inbox Outtakes)

An awful breakup--
dignified chronography--
stamina’s prism.

Neutral Audobon,
erratic, advantageous,
dried birds diagrammed.

O catfish joyous!
Disastrous desperado!
Aeolus, wait!

O sculpin, advise
Savannah’s airspace cadre,
Sousa’s caribou.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Real Time

At midnight the sun was just setting behind Cohokia Mound. Everyone had made the One Big Adjustment and now was on Real Time. Almost everyone, anyway. Several counties in western Kansas and eastern Colorado had resisted and now were trying to maintain their economies by having sheriff’s deputies issue tickets to Real Time drivers who were not adhering to Kanorado Time when driving through their jurisdictions. The legality of these citations was on the Supreme Court’s docket later in the year. Similar pockets of resistance had formed in parts of Idaho, Montana, and eastern Washington. Internationally, Real Time was adopted except in Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and few other outlyers which chose to maintain their renegade diplomatic reputations. Switzerland, in deference to its historical neutrality, adopted both Real Time and Historically Local Time, necessitating two clocks in most households and business establishments but not disrupting banking, and coincidentally slowing the digitally-inspired decline of Swiss clock making.

Cahokia Man was surprised at how quickly the change had occurred. He’d begun writing letters to the editor and then put up his “Back to the Present” Web site. Unbeknownst to him, the idea took off when his Web site was discovered by Crankdotnet, a Web site that calogued, categorized and posted links to “the crankiest of the cranky” and featured a daily “Crank o’ the Day” link. Here the casual Web wanderer could find compendia of links to anti-gravity and perpetual motion theorists and inventors, cryptozoologists, conspiracy theorists of every imaginable (and some unimaginable) stripe, creation scientists, and others. Cahokia Man would have been incensed had he known he’d been included in such company, but he didn’t, and thus the credit or blame for Real Time passed to Diogenes in his Carpathian yurt.

Eighteen months earlier, Diogenes had been flipping through the channels on his satellite TV when he came across CrankTV, a television spin-off of Crankdotnet. A short feature on the One Big Adjustment caught his attention. Unlike most cranky propositions, which were so solipsistic as to be impervious to argument, the One Big Adjustment idea was susceptible to cost-benefit analysis. Diogenes went to work.

He began with outsourcing. It had started with manufacturing jobs, but had gradually grown to include service and support jobs, marketing and sales call centers, and computer program and systems development and support. Workers in India, China, Singapore already had been adjusting to U.S. and European time zones, especially those workers who handled real-time customer inquiries from the western hemisphere. Data clearly showed that, generally, the West was the world’s economic engine and the East benefitted economically by providing a growing part of the workforce.

Diogenes had not always been a rock and roll drummer and a Carpathian hermit. Before he joined Fecal Matters for his brief lion-terminated stint as drummer, he had been a financial analyst with a couple of large investment groups. His job had been to monitor the fiscal health of publicly-held corporations by looking at their business plans, supply chains, workforce, and management of operational expenses. He was an expert on business process outsourcing before the term gained currency in the media and in stump speeches. He had observed the growing pains in India as their call centers struggled with the disparity in time zones. But the Indians had already made the One Big Adjustment, not because it was a great idea but out of necessity to diversify their economy. Entrepreneurs in other nations took heed and began competing with North American providers by keeping North American business hours. Diogenes knew that Real Time was an idea whose time already had come. He had the data and the industry connections. It wasn’t long before the One Big Adjustment had entered the nation’s, and then the world’s, political discussion.

Real Time was instituted at midnight on the turning of the year. By international agreement, midnight Greenwich Mean Time became midnight Real Time. There had been some debate, for this decision meant that the western hemisphere would arguably be required to make a slightly less drastic adjustment with respect to daylight and nighttime hours, whereas the great majority of the earth’s population resided in the eastern hemisphere. Economic arguments prevailed, however.

A Viral Theory of Time

DT made a good living blacksmithing and teaching witchcraft by correspondence. But his academic training had been in philosophy, and that was still his passion. In the evenings, after grading papers, he would resume work on his philosophical investigation into time as phenomenon. His working title was “A Viral Theory of Time,” although he also liked “Time as Contagion.” He’d leave it up to whichever journal editor finally accepted it. Once he had completed the study to his satisfaction, he planned to submit it first to the “Journal of Predictive Coincidence,” then to the “Journal of Chronological Ambiguity.” He subscribed to both and was sure his approach would be well received by either.

His thesis was that we are aware of time or understand time through cause and effect and the kind of linearity that causal chains imply. Yet causality is itself an effect of coincidence, a nonlinear and timeless phenomenon. On those occasions when we are conscious of coincidence, we often ascribe the phenomenon to improbable agents such as karma, destiny, luck, fate, predestination, spiritual forces, when in fact they are at least chromosomal. Time is, put simply, a byproduct of human procreation, a sexually-transmitted disability that underlies all the anxiety, ignorance, and misunderstanding that characterize the human condition. But armed with this self-knowledge, we still are powerless to improve our lot. He still had to work out some details. He needed to do some research on retroviruses and DNA to take his thesis beyond the metaphor that had first illumined his thinking. As he had worked through the ontological details, DT at first was depressed at the implications, but every evening he became a bit more comfortable with the truth and was finally beginning to feel its liberating effects. He thought he must feel something like the first hominid to stand erect and see for the first time an enlarged world, a range of possibilities. If his paper was never published, it didn’t matter. The writing of it had already been transformative.

As he was about to resume work on his essay, the computer beeped to announce incoming email. It was a message from the producer of the Rill World television show, who had traced DT’s whereabouts through some old Pearl Brewery records. He wanted to take a remote crew to Lubbock to shoot Pearl Stream for Channel Tao, but no one in Lubbock seemed to know where the stream flowed. DT smiled. He emailed back, indicating that he thought the stream would be a disappointment. The producer replied that one of the production principles of the show was to take what comes, to go with the flow. And the crew was going to be in the area anyway, as they were scheduled to broadcast from the Paluxy River, near Glen Rose, anyway. Sure, DT replied, he’d be glad to meet the crew in Lubbock for the shoot.

Locke Begins Evolving

Flint Locke couldn’t remember exactly when he had decided to have the surgery and advance to the next level. He had been spending expanded hours on the Web, pausing only for an occasional meal, an increasingly occasional day at work at the textile mill (he was “on notice” with his boss and was supposed to see the company psychologist), and the weekly strategic briefings of his troopers at the Hole. Nor could he remember exactly when it was that he realized the Serpent Seed doctrine of the Christian Identity movement, of which he considered himself a part, had been seriously misstated by its proponents and misconstrued by its adherents. The Serpent Seed doctrine held that the inferior races, that is, the non-Aryans, were descendents of a sexual encounter between Eve and the Serpent. Therefore, the Adamic race, the descendents of Adam’s union with Eve, was the race meant by the Creator to flourish and have dominion over the earth. All of this was well and good, but Flint kept returning to the passage about the Sons of God visiting the Daughters of Man and couldn’t figure out where their offspring might fit into the racial and evolutionary scheme of things.

Late one evening, with a slice of pizza in hand and listening to “America Awake,” a radio talk show devoted to discussions of paranormal extraterrestrial conspiracies, he Googled “Sons of God” and found the answer. The first link,, shot him into a blinding light of pure, distilled and heretofore hidden knowledge. The Sons of God were alien visitors. As anyone who watched television knew, the physical appearance of the saucerians was definitely saurian, the large unlidded eyes, the three-toed feet—the feet! They looked like the fossilized so-called dinosaur footprints found next to fossil human prints along the Taylor Trail in the streambed of the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas. Yes, the serpent in the garden wasn’t Satan at all but rather one of the Sons of God bringing the cosmic seed to Eve. Eden had been in Texas. The three-toed aliens had walked hand-in-hand with the Daughters of Man in the Texas mud millennia ago. The Serpent Seed preachers had it wrong—the Serpent Seed line was the master race! The problem was that the descendants of the Sons of God and the Daughters of Man had interbred with the muddy human stock again and again, diluting the gene pool and stalling the progress of evolution.

What could one man do to reverse this tide of history and return his people to the straight and narrow evolutionary track? Raising awareness was a first step, along with setting his own biological assets back on track. Then he would bring his own courageous and inspirational example to bear on his followers. As awareness built and his movement grew, a sort of biological manifest destiny would rise like a zeitgeist and stalk the land. That’s how he thought about it anyway. Thus the surgery.

The first steps in what he called the Transformation would be largely cosmetic but highly symbolic. First he would get the tip of his tongue split so that it forked. He had seen a story about this on the Surgery Channel. It was the latest thing, after tattoos and piercings had become passe. He didn’t know if he wanted to tell his men about it now or wait until after the procedure and then, at the next strategic briefing, lean forward over his Mickey’s Big Mouth bottle and flick his tongue at them. That would make a statement. There was the issue of the lisp, which he knew was a common byproduct of a tongue-slitting. But, he thought, what better proof of his courage, manhood, and heterosexuality than to knowingly incur a lisp for the good of the race? Yes, his troopers would be impressed and eager to emulate him.

Then he would need to find a surgeon who would agree to amputate the second and fourth toes on each foot. He’d thought about just shooting them off like the draft dodgers did during Vietnam, but he knew that would probably send him to the emergency room, where he’d have to answer a lot of questions, not the least of which would be official curiosity about his accumulation of unregistered firearms, rocket launchers, and explosives. Depending on what the surgeon advised, he thought he would have the right foot done first, symbolically stepping out. Then, after the stubs healed and he’d made the necessary adjustments in his stride and was confident in his mobility, he would get the left foot done.

Inbox Reversals

Upperclassmen lurch--
goofy managerial
vices convulsing.

Who’d proliferate
inconsequential kumquats?
Everyman’s lap?

Summer’s Irish musk--
inducible Arkansans--
headlights aborning.

Ectopic delights--
Miltonic issuances--
galaxy highlands.

Modest assistant--
apocalyptic sergeant--
abject predictors.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Cahokia Man and the One Big Adjustment

Everyone called him Charlie, but to himself he was Cahokia Man, after his birthplace in Illinois, just across the Mississippi from St. Louis. He imagined he was descended from the Missippian moundbuilders of the area, even though his American forebears were definitely post-Columbian, German immigrants to be specific. During the summers he would volunteer to help the anthropologists and their graduate students from Northwestern University process the Cahokia Mounds site. During those long summer days, painstakingly sifting through dirt for shards, artifacts of any kind that, when pieced together, might give a glimpse into a lost culture and a lost time, Cahokia Man let his mind wander, trying to imagine the life led by his people. Not the Germans. The Moundbuilders.

He was struck by how he knew they must have viewed time. There was no day carved neatly into twenty-four segments, certainly no time zones and daylight savings time. Sunrise, sunset, the equinoxes, and the solstices, these were how they reckoned—the mounds themselves, their orientation, told him this. And when this city had thrived, with its unencumbered, elegant sense of time, its population had been greater than that of Paris. It was Cahokia Man’s meditation on the Moundbuilders’ simple chronicity that inspired his idea for One Universal Time, to be carried out with One Big Adjustment.

The idea of One Universal Time was simple and profound. Forget about ante-meridian and post-meridian, and the fact that some people think noon is 12 p.m. and others that it’s 12 a.m., when it’s neither, and midnight is both. Forget about trying to figure out and adjust for what time it is somewhere else in the world. Certainly forget about the six months every year when Indiana, already divided into two time zones, observes or doesn’t observe daylight savings time, depending on which part of Indiana in which you happen to live or be passing through. Keep the twenty-four hours—a realistic concession to the global nature of commerce and communications; the Moundbuilders had an extensive trade network that spanned more than one of today’s time zones, but they didn’t have fax machines or telephones, or at least no fax or phone artifacts had turned up yet in the dig. But instead of having twenty-four parts of the world operating under twenty-four different hours, put everyone into the same hour. The costs of the current multiple time system were staggering. Cahokia Man had tried to calculate them but the costs were so pervasive, so minutely woven into the fabric of modern life, that he despaired of arriving at a number. How much time was lost every year just in resetting clocks and watches for time zone changes and daylight savings time? How much time was wasted in meeting rooms because one or more of the parties forgot to change his or her watch or clock? How many meetings, appointments, and transportation arrangements had to be rescheduled because the time differential hadn’t been calculated or calculated correctly? How many opportunities were lost when a businessperson on one side of the globe was working while his partner on the other side of the globe was sleeping? What was the cost of weekly having to print multiple editions of TV Guide? How much money was being spent to equip news rooms, war rooms, airports, and other such time track centers with multiple clocks lined up in a row on a wall, labeled Chicago, New York, London, Paris, Moscow? And how much extra electricity was being wasted twenty-four hours a day to keep these extra clocks running?

The benefits of One Universal Time were obvious. But to reap the benefits, humankind would have to make One Big Adjustment. Sure, One Big Adjustment would be wrenching to everyone. It would take some getting used to. Roughly half the world would need to start sleeping during daylight hours and working after dark. But what an improvement, no longer to have to make the Constant Tiny Adjustments every day. And what a beautiful thought—that everyone on earth would be sleeping together, waking together, working together. To educate and prepare people for the One Big Adjustment became the life mission of Cahokia Man. It would be his legacy to humanity. It would be the world-transforming transmission of his culture into the twenty-first century. He knew he was going to need a Web site.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Haiku What Am

Cellular sardines--
endogenous wastewater--
Prone, ciliate eels.

Contestants freeboot.
Martini databases
locate bungalows.

acidulous booksellers’

harmonicas coexist--
benighted objects.

Valvéd delphinus--
exponential jitterbug--
patient conduit.

Courses of Correspondence, Streams of Desire

DT’s friends called him Surelock, because he was a logician, a locksmith, and his last name was Holmes. But he preferred DT—he thought it made him seem like an illusion, a hallucination, a shadow passing over a demented mind. With his long beard and black clothing, he looked like an Amish patriarch, an effect reinforced by the fact that he also operated his own blacksmith shop in southeastern Missouri.

Most of his friends did not know that he was a native Texan—he’d lost every bit of his native drawl after spending four years in Chicago while getting his bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He had gone to school to become an engineer, but then he got caught up in those dormitory bull sessions. Soon he was reading Heidegger and Nietzsche and forgetting to carry his slide rule.

Most of his friends also did not know that he supplemented his modest smithy’s earnings by developing and instructing a correspondence study program—Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Witchcraft. Not that he was a practitioner—he’d just found it amusing studying this arcane field over the years and advertised his course of study on a lark, a few classified ads in some of the little magazines sold in the health food stores. He was surprised, even a little dismayed, at the response. Every day there was at least one course application and check in his mailbox. Some days the mail carrier brought him as many as a dozen prospective hoodoo students. In short, business was good—and easy, as most of the students lost interest after a lesson or two and never completed. Even after the students dropped out or graduated, they still provided revenue, as DT had discovered a great demand for his mailing list, selling it to “alternative lifestyle” list brokers. He thought of it as a kind of alchemy, an income stream flowing from what appeared to be a far flung and tenacious intellectual virus in the land.

He had learned about creating streams from desire and delusion while a teenager working in his father’s photography studio in Lubbock. The senior Holmes had shot the popular 1960s-era Pearl Beer commercial, in which a water-beaded can of Pearl rested in a gurgling stream of clear, presumably cold and refreshing water. It was better than the Land of Sky Blue Waters. But no such stream existed. In the studio, festooned in camouflage burlap, fake greenery, and a few real rocks, was a water trough with an electric motor on one end creating the fluxual turbulence. Shot tight with a babbling brook sound recording played over it, the illusion was good, especially for the technology of the day. DT had watched television in the dorm lounge and seen how that commercial captured the attention of the homesick freshmen watching old sci-fi movies on a sunny Saturday afternoon. It traded heavily in dreams of a golden age, of fantasized oases, of the pastoral moment. He would have laughed had he not been so moved by the effect the illusion had on his dorm-mates.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Diogenes, Near the Goat Trail, Far from the Milky Way

Diogenes had spent the last five years in Romania, but whenever he happened to come across “The Rill World” program on Channel Tao when flipping through his satellite channels, he would be reminded of his Milky Way Creek home. He had been living contentedly in his own hand-built yurt in the rocky Carpathian foothills, next to a literal goat trail, but he missed the sound of running water.

In Romania, he had learned that there are two kinds of people: those who believe in vampires and those who claim not to believe in vampires. In Romania, he also learned, it is illegal to disturb the peace of the dead. Disturbing the peace meant unearthing the body, removing the heart, burning the heart on an iron plate, mixing the ashes with water, and drinking the mixture. Those whose peace was disturbed were thought to be vampires. Of course, if they were vampires, they were not dead and therefore were not protected by the law. It all depended on one’s world view. Although it was in Romania he had learned about this curious lore, he had learned about it from an old copy of USA Today, which he’d found with several other bags of old newspapers and magazines, just off the goat trail when he first began exploring the area. In his five years in Vlad the Impaler’s homeland, he had yet to meet anyone who would admit to any knowledge of or belief in vampires.

Before he assumed his current name, he had been Dee Genesis, short-time drummer in Fecal Matters. He had left the band after a falling out with Roger, the singer, over the affections of Susan Sun-Shu, the band’s manager at the time. No sooner had he resigned than Susan broke it off with Roger, and the next morning Roger was lion’s meat. Dee, crushed by guilt, left Susan and returned to his childhood home in South Carolina, where he squatted in a shack on a creek bank for a few weeks. During his creek bank reveries, he became Diogenes. One day when cruising the alleys, looking for an honest man or a discarded sandwich, he found an old globe in a dumpster. He spun the globe, closed his eyes, and put his index finger on Romania. He headed for the columnated Roman revival bank where he had stashed his savings and then headed out of the country.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Housefly’s quietus--
Cromwellian consultants
grill dockyard newsboys.

Quick ship messages
gain complementarity,
another’s notice.

Always, eight blackfeet
prognosticate fungible
ridgepole spatulas.

Sixteen dopes devolve.
Hostesses dereference.
Freethinkers demur.

Inductee highwaymen--
Caspian protozoans--
commerce gamblers teem.

editorial doctor--
agony’s writeup.

Scan for Origins

Steve had some trouble reading the Gideon Bible map under the dim dome light in the car, but he finally found the trailer park in Cabool and Lenny’s trailer. Apparently Lenny wasn’t back yet, but the door was open so he invited himself in. The front half of the trailer was neat, clean, organized. The back half, behind a curtain was stacked ceiling high with newspapers, bankers boxes with news clippings, each box labeled with presumably the contents: Winrod Letters, White Aryan Seed, Covenant Sword Arm of the Lord, Teutonic Wrath, Sons of God, Lizard Race, Twin Towers Theories, and on and on. Lenny’s bed was at the far end, unmade, barely visible among the papers and boxes, with a goat trail leading to it. The trailer park had a satellite dish, and Steve was surprised to come across Channel Tao while flipping through the available signals. A rare rain-swollen arroyo in northern New Mexico rushed through Lenny’s old black-and-white television as he continued to look around.

He waited an hour, then two, still no Lenny. He got up from his chair and began exploring the trailer again. On the kitchen counter was a stack of mail—credit card offers mostly—and a National Geographic with an article on the Extinction Index. Next to the mail was a crisp five dollar bill. Steve picked it up idly and turned it over to reveal the red tag.

Steve recognized the sticker as a microchip label used on produce. It was big in Japan—you use a scanner to read the information stored on it. Tells you stuff like where the fruit was grown, if chemicals were used, the pH of the soil, the grower’s name. Some growers even included jpegs or mpegs to show the field the vegetables were grown in, pictures of his family, kind of the Japanese version of driving out into the country and buying your vegetables from the farm family at the roadside stand. The field workers slapped them on the produce as they harvested—some chips even date stamped and recorded weather conditions at the time of picking. In the U.S., organic growers were starting to use the chips as a way to certify their produce, though it hadn’t caught on yet. As plugged in as Americans were, they didn’t come close to the Japanese in embracing new digital gimmickry.

But Steve did. Joy had given him a universal scanner for Valentine’s Day. He used it when shopping at the local natural food store, but mainly for reading the barcoded output from his REM monitor. That had been another Valentine’s gift the year before.

Steve went out to his car to fetch his computer bag. He scanned the label and downloaded the results to the laptop. First there was a series of digital pictures: an Indian aiming an arrow at the sky; an outer spacescape, labeled “Ultra Deep Field,” what looked like a child’s drawing of a sailing ship. Then there was a sound file of a faint, rasping voice speaking, almost chanting, what sounded like Greek, but barely perceptible as background noises rose and fell like liquid static against the voice. Next was a video sequence in which a pair of leathery hands set a stack of paper-thin clay bowls on the ground and then removed the bowls one by one from the stack, placing them in an array, equidistant in a straight line, all bowls tipped on their sides in the same direction. Then another sound file, an organ playing a verrrry slow blues before fading to silence, and a hyperlink. He would click on the link, but not yet.

Monday, December 06, 2004


secondhand sanctuary,
vaginal idols.

Diachronic surf--
yapping adhesive toothpaste--
nutrients billow.

Alternate birdseed--
gasified biennial
chickweed irony.

The Flow, the End, and the Great Delusion

He began the day as he always did, clicking the remote at the television and tuning in Channel Tao. The water started flowing, and he leaned forward to read the crawler under the flow: “Mickey’s Way Creek, South Carolina,” it said. Amazing! It looked just like Turkey Creek back home. Before heading out the door, he flipped to CNN, where the livecam was on the scene at a public disturbance. There were picketers and signs: “God hates tanning,” “Dark times for the White race,” and “Pray, don’t spray.” The text beneath the livecam said, “Tanning parlor protest, South Carolina.” He remembered what Darjeeling had said about cosmosis. He called in sick, filled the car with gas, and hit the east bound interstate.

Sarge and Cowbird were arguing about the Extinction Index. Sarge said the only extinction index he paid any attention to was his own, and so far he’d had a better than average return on investment. Cowbird wanted to find out exactly how many species currently exist, so he could use the Extinction Index to figure the odds on the human race. Then he could use the data for bar bets. He calculated he could drink free for a long time with that information.

Flint knew SCAT couldn’t hit the dark ops perpetrators head on. He settled on a two-pronged approach. (He wanted to call it a “pincer movement,” but he couldn’t get the guys to understand what that meant. Prong they understood.) He would use his Chert alias to call talk shows regularly and begin to soften up the public to the possibility that their reality was being manipulated by dark forces. At the same time SCAT would mobilize at the grassroots level, working inductively (he thought that was the right word, but he needed to look it up sometime to be sure), to confront the local manifestations of the Great Delusion. Among these was the spray-on tanning salon. White people paying to be made brown—what could be more delusional than that?

Saturday, December 04, 2004


Interference pact--
a confident papacy
but adjudged cockeyed.

Streetcar hooligans
coax honoraria home--
ridiculous sport.

Friday, December 03, 2004

SCAT, the Hole, and the Milky Way

Behind the Hole was Mickey’s Way Creek. The common joke was that the Hole’s urinals drained into it, thus the name. The fact was that the creek had been named Mee-Ki-Wa, after a 17th-century Cusabo chieftain, but no one knew how to spell it, and over time it became Mickey’s Way. Some of the locals called it Milky Way Creek because of its cloudy white color. On the creek bank stood an abandoned shed with the painted word DIOGENES and a horseshoe over the door. That’s where the first official SCAT meeting was held.

Late that night, Flint Locke called a nationally syndicated radio talk show. Identifying himself as “Chert” and with an empty Mickey’s Big Mouth bottle held near the mouthpiece to distort his voice, he laid out for the first time what he kept referring to as the Great Delusion. Flint didn’t understand that most of his listeners thought the term self-descriptive. But all he could think about were those holograms and what he was pretty sure the physicists called gluons.

Fast Eddie and his crew rolled in shortly after the nascent SCAT members headed out back. Fuzzy, Finn-Dog, and Flash made up the crew, and they quickly converged on Cosmic Baseball after ordering drinks.

Spam-o-grams (Still more Inbox Outtakes)

Reduction is good.
Normative malnutrition--
Zen ephemeris.

Algerian bales--
Athabascan waterhouse--
Annulus standstill.

bloopers hew
A feathery festival,
Fondling condiments.

Cyanic strippers--
Mediterranean rut--
chantilly tresses.

Blackbody dingo,
exhumation belying
inflamed bravery.

Puddingstone cometh--
an American bandage--
Stunned Christmas present.

Foxy ambling jets
bestow fecund perchlorate.
Switzerland swishes.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Hole and the Beginning of Time

Herb’s regulars occasionally kidded him about not having a television in the Hole. He said Bill and Beth’s didn’t have one—they had an AM radio on day and night, talk shows and country music. Jane’s didn’t have one, either—she had the juke and the pinball. That was good enough for Herb. The subject came up again, though, when Fuzzy and Flash got into an argument about cosmology, and Fuzzy wanted Flash to see the pictures on CNN. “Geez,” Fuzzy growled, “today they’re showing the Beginning of Time live on tv and you don’t even have a tv. Now we’re going to have to go home tonight to see it on the replays.” Herb shrugged, but Fuzzy wouldn’t let it go. “I wanted to be able to tell my grandkids that I was playing Cosmic Baseball in the Hole when I saw the Beginning of Time.” “Tell ‘em anyway,” said Herb. “You’ll only be stretching it a few hours. This Beginning of Time Thing is give or take a half billion years anyway. Have another Mickey’s.”

Inbox Outtakes, another set

The cent imputes yen.
Antipodean buttons
sulk, embattled, mourn.

Triumphal shuttle--
Lavatorial egress--
A pinging transit.

The sowbelly cults
don’t get ripped off anymore.

Crop boatmen startle.
Adulterous aliens
rub slick civilians.

Happenings at the Hole

Cowbird and Sarge were regulars at the Hole, good customers and always good for a story or an argument. Sometimes Fast Eddie and his crew would roll in after work. The decibel level would always go up then, as the pinball machine started clanging and clattering and the juke box ran its gamut from country and western to rhythm and blues. Flint Locke wasn’t a regular, but he dropped in occasionally for a beer. Herb thought the guy was wound too tight. As a public service Herb would always punch B4 on the juke—Al Green’s “I’m Still in Love with You”—hoping it would mellow the guy. Flint then would mutter something about “dark music” as he slouched at the bar and nursed his beer. “Y’ oughta call this place the Black Hole,” he’d say, joking but not really. Herb would shrug and let him be. Next time the whole scene would repeat, note for note and word for word.

Except next time it didn’t. Flint walked in after work, took a seat, and ordered his beer. Herb couldn’t help noticing his eyes were red, to the extent that he could see them at all under the drooping eyelids. “Tough day, huh?”

“You can’t imagine. I’ve seen things no one will believe. Now I’ve got to do something about it.” Then he bowed his head in silence, as if offering thanks for his Mickey’s Big Mouth. Herb decided to drop it. The next ones to pour into the Hole were the future rank and file of the South Carolina Aryan Troopers, always ready to toss back a few but curious as to why Flint felt like he needed to turn it into a meeting. Flint looked up from the bar and said, “Git yourselves some Mickeys to-go and meet me out back.”

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Inbox Outtakes, continuing

Brinkmanship controls
ecumenist aqueducts
and smears amethysts.

Benedictines strafe
aristocratic Tampa,
dampen open rooms.

Smudgy telegrams--
sinister micrography--
desk-tossed Gemini.

How the Hole Happened

Herb, the Hole’s owner, had moved from Kansas to South Carolina in the ’90s, after selling his software company at the height of the dotcom boom. When he opened his bar, he had wanted to give it the ambience of his two favorite Kansas haunts, Bill and Beth’s Tavern in Shawnee, and Jane’s Corner Tavern in Merriam. He bought the Cosmic Baseball pinball game and the juke box, with its eclectic and frozen-in-time collection of tunes by Buck Owens, Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard, Al Green, War, and Janis Joplin, at auction when Jane’s went out of business. From Bill and Beth’s he got Bill’s secret instructions for the pork tenderloin sandwich. He even decided to locate near a Christian Science Reading Room, just like Jane’s. The only thing missing was a nearby vintage movie house and railroad tracks. And Fecal Matters’ “Apocalypso” on the juke. The house bourbon was Old Quaker, the house scotch Kilt Kastle, and he had an entire cooler dedicated to Mickey’s Big Mouths. Every Friday he had a Rusty Nails special. Business hadn’t been great, but he wasn’t in it for the money—he just enjoyed spending his time there.