Tuesday, June 12, 2012

King Bitterman And The Ghosts Of Dead Snails

Come on, give a rat's ass, would you? Give it the old college try.

Take a good look around and tell me what you see.

Don't lie to me.

My kingdom is a laughingstock. I've let myself go, grown fat on the sautéed kidneys of disc jockeys and dickweeds whose gross ambition offended my eroding sense of decency. I've eaten other things I'm not proud of. So-called professionals.

What I wouldn't give for a second chance.

What I wouldn't give, you fuckers, but it's too late for that and I have nothing left to give.

This confusion of dialects, poverty, and heat. I can't get any more naked, have no more grease left to sweat.

From my window I can see the laborers dragging bodies across the dirt courtyard and stacking them on a flatbed truck. It's not a pretty picture, but I am incapable of painting a prettier one. Near as I can tell the engineers have cobbled together some sort of crematorium in the laundry room of the Super 8 across the courtyard. Three tin smokestacks that weren't there yesterday are belching out clouds of thick black soot, an additional layer of grime that is trapped beneath the over-gloom.

Mine is now a kingdom of branded cattle swilling 3.2 beer, feral dogs in shopping malls, brain-damaged lab rats shuffling along in flip-flops and ridiculous sunglasses, and genetic monsters with perfect teeth. Dime-store dollhouses and teetering castles made of recycled plastic sand. The bones of dead roses. Fields of loud pastel crows, screaming for attention. Almost trees. Burned-out rocket ships that never left the launch pad. All our dreams, dreams written in invisible ink and nightmares etched in the more permanent kind.

When night falls I draw the shades and listen to Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings over and over as I imagine --or cannot imagine-- the next crippling blow, the next wave of sorrow, the inevitable endlessly repeated slow-motion montage of flag-waving catastrophe. You can bet, by God, that when again this world begins to fall down around me they'll once more dust off the old reliable Barber.

Didn't any of you remember to bring a flashlight? Did it not occur to a single one of you that it would be dark in the belly of a whale?

You tricked me into this covenant, but I have no one to blame but myself.

These words --the last I have left-- are the ghosts of dead snails. I give you my word: you haven't been haunted until you've been haunted by the ghosts of dead snails.

Come on, let me have it. I'm ready for my medicine. Give me my bitter pill.

I am waiting, my little sparrows, to hear from you.