The erratic sidewinder in plaid.
Going apeshit over a loaf of bread.
Have you ever heard of tranquility?
Oh, I see, you reach for it there, you look for it in your…earbuds?
Why do you stop and yawn and pause and breathe and think and question?
The world says go, mind skids, the world says know all you can… The mind knows fear, trepidation, hesitation, latency, blueprints burning in an Oxford fireplace. Plans going up in smoke like Colorado reefer in an apple bong.
The gong in the mountain. The birds gather, flutter at the entrance to the cave. There’s something deep down inside. Get it out. Tell it. Feel it. Peel it from the botchwork in your soul leather this night. Flowers in October. Snowmen in May. Rice soup in August. The clock runs backward, faster, faster, faster… Until you are born again. The priest moves a red velvet curtain aside and walks out of a highly polished mahogany box. He holds the baby aloft in his hands. “He has returned,” he says in three slow breaths.
He passes him to a man dressed like a smokestack. A cloud of thought is spewing from the very tip top of his head. “This,” he begins. “Is an exercise in recreation… And I will swallow all lives whole.”
He drops the baby into the top of the smokestack and there is a minor explosion. Confetti the color of candy suddenly bursts out. The baby has slid down to the furnace. He will work there for another 71 years. “Nobody ever says they want to be a furnace worker,” the man dressed as a smokestack says. “So, we make the decision for you.” He laughs out loud and the priest lumbers over and gives him a high-five—flesh against brick.
“Let’s go back to my place and drink some wine,” the priest says.
The man dressed as a smokestack laughs. “But I’m not a kid!”
A synthetic laugh track laughs mechanically along with him.
The camera zooms in on the priest’s long, scowling face. “Oh, come on!” he says. “We’re not all perverts… And besides, you just swallowed a baby.”
“I did no such thing,” the man dressed as a smokestack says. “I simply set him on his life path.”
“That’s no life,” the priest complains. “That’s hell on Earth.”
“Hell is Earth, you fool. Earth is Hell. How could you have not figured that out by now? Your God play, your religious charade is simply a tool, a coping mechanism. You are a victim of your own game.”
“If this is Hell, then where do we go after we die?” the priest wanted to know. “Hell 2?”
The man dressed as a smokestack laughed his bellowing laugh and his bricks shook. “We come back for another round. I mean, you just demonstrated that very same thing. Are you blind?”
“I am only blinded by the misguided nonsense that is you. Your lack of anything that resembles wisdom is nauseating. It was rebirth. The child found goodness and you suddenly plucked it away from him.”
“You handed him over! That’s what you do. You raise them among sheep and then throw them to the wolves. You have all these pictures of sheep, but why not be honest about it and have some pictures of wolves, snarling wolves with blood dripping from their fangs. Show your dumb bunnies, your people, reality for once.”
“This conversation is going nowhere. I must be off,” the priest said, and he turned and swiftly disappeared to another part of the sanctuary.
The chimes of Saturn clinked like metal jewels tumbling in an out-of-control spaceship. Alternative lemons hung heavy from a tree wet with morning California dew. The man once dressed as a smokestack but now just as an ordinary man, sat on a bench in his garden. The roar of traffic on the wide interstate rose from beyond the grove. A dome of pollution muddied the blue sky giving it a dull yellow tint. He took a deepening breath and her taste still lingered. He turned to look at the house, dark wood, a mass of glass windows, numerous rooms and levels, secret passageways, greenery, a waterfall, an outdoor kitchen, stone walkways, a myriad of verandas, his very own creation.
He knew she was still sprawled in the messy sheets, sleeping, dreaming, aching. He had snuck out early for the ceremony. He wondered if he should tell her about what he had done this time, the one about sending the newly reborn baby to work for the rest of his life in the depths of hell’s furnace. He decided not to, he didn’t want to upset her. She was so easily upset. He picked some lemons and went into the cool house and made a fresh pitcher of lemonade.
The zippity zodiac cigar syndrome ship floated among the stardust near Saturn and its wedding rings. The crew were blasting Bowie and eating Hostess cupcakes. Everyone felt weird because there was some sort of magnetic pull on them, some invisible entity had the ship sandwiched between fingers and palm, the hand of God, they wondered.
“Are we merely all sharing the same dream?” Captain Dogwood asked, but no one was listening. They had all moved closer to the monitor widescreen, space floating by them like a stream, the hand pulsing goblets of gold blood in the pious veins. The captain rose from his seat and watched with them. “Or have we reached our final destination? Is this the web of serenity we’ve been searching for?”
The lumbering priest with the long face who had so recently cast the fate of some newly reborn baby to a life of suffering in the furnace depths of a hell factory stepped through the doorway to the bridge of the SS Cuckoo Clock. “You called for me Captain Dogwood?”
The captain turned and looked at the tall, lean man in black. “Yes, father. We were hoping you could tell us if what’s happening to the ship has anything to do with God.”
“Take a look for yourself, padre. See that hand, out there. It’s got a hold of us and won’t let go. I’d like to know your thoughts.”
The priest stepped forward and studied what was on the monitor screen, it was indeed a hand, a hand still pulsing goblets of gold blood in its pious veins. “I can’t say if it is God, or not God, captain. I just don’t know what it is. But it does appear to have the ship in its grasp. Have you tried blasting your way out?”
Violence interrupts violets. A silver coin calls for Uhtred. Night calls. Sleep calls. Madness calls. Dreams call. Some have the fear of lying down for it may never come to sweet, peaceful fruition. The same ones fear the lying down of death. What will the black mask bring? What will be beyond the veil? What is on the other side of the passage? A bright place in which to finally sit and breathe… Or another rattle of decades in the mines of meaningless.