Catch my begger’s reflection in storefront’s window display hawking colognes, cufflinks and cigarette cases. This fuckin culture. A parade of pre-paid promises. Cut your corpse to suit this week’s style, stink of the finest ambergris and penis will swarm like blowflies to fresh excrement. Truth in advertising. Nevermind that this week’s sheik is next week’s antique. Chase that dirty paper down that one-way street. Nevermind how one day your prick will wither and all cocks turn to ugly borrowed flesh. Make yourself inta a mannequin for Mammon. Follow fashion all the way to the ovens, you ignorant pigs.
You blew the scene, pendejo. You think you’re original but you’re a dead brand walking.
Your readers can twist your name inta a brand but you can’t burn me. I’ll give you writing. Feast your lies on this: try and commodify my words when it’s up your ass. Read that, you greedy little queens.
But not much longer. Settle every debt. Outstanding.
Wonder what kinda slop they serve at the psych ward these days.
Split lips pull away from receding gums in the glass. Teeth feel loose. Why’m I staring at this shit? Time is it? Nine maybe. Gotta eat. Coffee, clear the grog outta my noggin. Seize the day. Focus fucked since I wigged back at Carlos’. No place to sleep. Nothin but sink baths. What’m I doing? Sleeping in alleyways is for dogs. Fine when you’re twenty-nine, but at my age? Crazy.
Okay. Okay. Filch food, find an unbroken smoke somewhere. Get it together. Where’s the nearest Starbuck’s?
Hitting the trolley for downtown SD. You learn, waiting for trains. People stand in specific spaces for particular cars. The rat racers crowd front of the platform because they’ve confused status with speed, like they’ll get there fastest by being firstest. Writer types never sit for fear of pickpocket delinquents, teething to grab the rails nearest the door so they can pretend to read tweets and updates on where and what their friends are eating. Blacks meander, weary waiting for window seats wherewith to eyeball the rest of us in reflection, or they’re teenage peacocks, can’t wait to stride the aisles smooth as hardhats on I-beams, allatime flirting & bullshitting. I wait by the handicap ramp with the Mexicans for the last car. It’s the rear view for me.
When those doors open they always sound like they’re asking the secret word.
Today’s crimson chariot is sparse. Three navy men in dark wool coats. A trio like they’re welded together. Obscure insignias on their caps. The tallest carries an ipad, the shortest an instrument case of some kind. Miniaturized tape recorder maybe. Mister hands-free has a pipe, the prick. Standard-issue Hefners, chiseled expressions and phony cologne. The Mexicans shuffle to the front of the car. Who can blame ‘em?
Just when I think all the variety has been crushed outta this fuckin world in glides this lithe fag in smoked glasses, black turtleneck, would you believe, leading a wolfhound. As I wonder if he’s blind he smiles one of those wiiide, spacy smiles that belongs in the old Hollywood movies but in this moment is all for me. Gauging his mutt’s custardy eyes it’s obvious he’s no guide. His cheeks look slightly hollow and his swooped ebony bangs gained some verdigris but those full lips are the sexiest contemplation I’ve harbored in weeks. At least! Love don’t have an expiration stamp, honey, oh no no. As we push off I decide his kinda class deserves a show.
Thumbing toward the boys. “Hey sailors.” The trio favors me with all the cordial disinterest of French queers. “Must be crusin’ for an invite to the Vulcan Baths?” They stare with the dead eyes of a wounded dog.
The fag has a windchime kinda laugh.
Howbout that. The fag shares my sense of humor. Don’t much dig his mangy alsatian but the solid jaw line remind me of this dude I saw at Ranchero Bar in TJ. Suddenly the fag’s pressing this mildewed purple mag inta my hands. Process Number 5: on the crimson backboard of a pinball machine sits a nekkid guy in full lotus, semen pourin outta his mouth, flowin over his pecs. So he likes porno. Okay. Breathe. Press the advantage. Seize the moment. Make conversation. What to say?
“Y-you like pinball? Me too.” Of all the corny…
As he reaches to spread the mag for me I realize he’s a sink bather as well. Stale. The pages are a collage of freakout imagery: crystal skulls, hell’s angels whipping dragons with tire chains, apocalyptic death kink. My heart caroms in my ribcage like a drunk with the D.T.s. I don’t deserve this. There’s dandruff on the thinning fabric of his sweater like chips of ice right above a jeweled goat’s-head pin. Mary mother of shit.
The short Navy jerk clutches the instrument case to his chest like a solid gold bible. San Diego Trolley people! Don’t you navy boys talk that chivalry balls alla time? Can’t you see this bitch is bad news?
Pressed inta the corner, momentum reminds me of the whalebone propping me up as sooty tile slams past on both sides and I’m calculating the millimeters to full stop. Queen witch transfers the leash to his right and gimmes in my face a brush with ashy, foul-smelling fingers.The routines people put down these days!
“Freely have ye received, freely give. The workman is worthy of his meat…”
The onomatopoeia of sliding doors sighs exeunt: “Ehhh, some other time!” and I fade backward inta the workflow of away. San Diego. Every hour’s a rush.
Toss the freak's rag in a bin. The fag’s still shouting after me about foes and households and who knows what all as I cut the corner toward Horton’s. Nevermind. Pretend he didn’t happen. Hopes are for crushing. Gotta grind 'em with your toes like a dead smoke. Walk head up, stare at all that sky. He wouldn’t of asked me back to his place anyway.
“Freedom Scientology number eleven! Freedom Scientology number eleven! An exposé of the weird cult of psychiatry! Sir! Did you know that in 1945 the first director-general of the Doubleyou-Aitch-Oh said 'If the race is to be freed from the crippling burden of good and evil it must be psychiatrists who take responsibility’? It’s true! Miss! A psychiatrist! 'We must accept our responsibility to remodel the world’! A Canadian! These are not my words! Read them yourselves! Freedom Scientology number eleven! Sir! Dr. Brock Chisholm! 'We must root out and destroy the most flourishing parasitical growth in the world: the tree of knowledge of good and evil’! These are not my words! An exposé of the weird cult of psychiatry! Freedom Scientology number eleven! Sir?”
“Fuck outta my face with that, mutherfucker.” How’m I in Diego? When did I…?
So hungry. Should write down so I stop forgetting. Right. The plan. This morning. Dropped the manuscript and saved files with Lee. Worryin over my teeth. So sick of feeling angry. None of that is now. I need bearings. Housing style says I’m adjacent to…
What kinda breakfast they serve in State Psychiatric Center of San Diego? Thought of a cot has me droolin. Not a bedroll, an actual bed. Not a blanket of breezes in a tarry corner of the skyline but an actual bed! Catch my begger’s reflection in the window of a pretty Plymouth. Should do somethin about my hair. Dip in a sink somewhere. Check pocket for soap chips and feel… a wadded napkin? A peso.
When’d I grab this?
“'God is no longer a useful hypothesis’! These are not my words! 'God broods over our world like the smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat’! These are not isolated views! Freedom Scientology number eleven! Sir! An exposé of the weird cult of psychiatry!”
Pitch like his, what’s left to read? Hunger pangs have me laid across this parking meter like a crutch. Wind from up the block blows an argument with a cop. Barely hear over this bozo barking. Like any other argument except not. What now…“Freedom Scientology number eleven! Anti-Christ and subversive! Psychiatry denies god!”
“Hell it does. Gimme one of those.”
Bury myself in the bullshit. Pretend to be interested in the fanatic’s carny jive how this super-scientific tin can telephone set can cure cancer. Long enough to be certain.
Fuck, the sun. Past noon. Better hoof it.