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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Acid Fizz - 13

It's 1:43 PM and my head is a little stuffy from work stuff, but I like this thing I'm giving you right now.  If you haven't been reading our ongoing online serial Acid Fizz, you can start with the earliest installments and catch up.

click picture & open link in a new tab for a song while you read


KkKkKkKkKkKkKkKk – a key: bronze, a “15” etched in its side, between my left thumb and forefinger.  In my right hand, the fob, a flat green diamond painted with a “15” and in italics, under the number: “Casa Do Mundo.”  The key slides between the fob’s metal rings and they sync together.  I drop the entwined pair into a shoebox lid with other sets and pick up fob 16 from a pile on the desk.
            “Bloodaloop.”  I have an AOL instant message.  It says, in Portugese, “Pregnant again.  Third time this year!” The chat window is framed on all sides by a gray Google Earth map of Rio.  My fingers press into the keys to type back.  I don’t bother to focus on what I write back.
            What the fuck just happened?  I struggled through that black pond where something grabbed me again.  I got loose and then came out of Ginny as a death rattle, vibrated through the microphone until I raised into electric volts and slid into a single data bit.  I shot through space, bounced off a satellite, and fucked a zillion wires until I was in this computer thousands of miles away, then crackled out of its speakers as that terrible sound.  That whole time, only a few long seconds really, I was in the world, but I wasn’t a part of it any more than a submarine is a part of the ocean.  I was just an unthinking, unliving, neverending “KkKkKkKkKk,” the sound of blood being gargled.  Suddenly now I’m unfrozen, a man again, pairing keys and fobs and chatting on my computer and listening to the dead air that must be Ginny’s show.  I’m in the world and breathing air and on solid ground and wearing clothes, but I don’t remember what’s so good about these things. They’re supposed to keep me alive, but do I really need them?
            This guy I’m in, Marcos, his mind is in five different directions.  The keys, the online conversation, Google directions to Páoderia Maria, tuning in and out of the dead air hiss from the speaker, and thinking, in Portugese: What was that sound?  Was Ginny choking?  No.  She probably just fucked up her show again.  So what was the sound?  Should I call again?  To say what?  Are you choking?  I apologize for my terrible English.  Let me give you over-the-phone Heimlich.   I’d probably just hang up again.  If they have caller ID, she wouldn’t even pick up.  Why can’t I say something to her?  I need a new station.
            He stops typing his AIM message mid-sentence to open another browser window and search for “WFMU streaming.”  Before the search results come back, he’s typing and sending his message.  He sifts through a bowl for a key with “16” on it.
            The busyness of it makes me sick.  He looks at the world through little periscopes without having to get out of his chair.  This room doesn’t even have windows, nothing on the cracked walls.  A desk, a cot, a hot plate.  I’d say this guy was poor but for the computer.
            I don’t for one second believe I need this.  I need a smelly room and a pudgy, balding body?  I need water, gravity, light, air?
            I shove Marcos into the middle of his brain and hold my breath.  I can get by without it.  A new message bloodaloops: “But she’ll die if she keeps popping them out like that,” it says.  I decide to type back to whoever this is, though I have no idea what she’s talking about.  “Did you know there are octopi that have litters of like 8,000 and they die raising them because it’s so exhausting?” I write.  What do you say to that?  I probably just killed the conversation.
            The need to breath starts for no good reason and pulls at me.  Marcos’ face reflects in the computer monitor.  He seems okay without oxygen so far.  The guy lives like a slob.  Dried gunk sticks food wrappers together.  Soda cans lie on their side.  One corner of his mattress is bared under twisted-away sheets.
My throat contracts like it’s taking in air, but it’s not.  Can’t it stop trying?  My head feels like it’s bruising.  It’s a big myth that we need anything not to die or that we live at all.
            The telephone on the desk rings.  Maybe there is no such thing as air.  There is no sun.  I could live on Neptune if I wanted to.
            My nose tries to take in air and I have to clench it harder.  The phone rings.
            My head is light, there’s pressure on my temples.  What does that have to do with me?  The phone rings.
            My throat is tense and painful.  I convulse in very slight ways like my mouth is fighting me to open up.  Hold it.  Hold it.  Fuck.  My mouth pops open and I gulp a mouthful of air.
            I run to the door, the only way out, and swing it open.  Into a dark hallway and I stub my toe on something hard.  It’s a stair.  I hop onto it, then up and up from nothing but a phone ringing in the middle of nowhere.
            I hear a woman scream something.  A slit of gray light shines from under a door at the top of the stairs.  Another scream.  Something awful is beyond the door.  I don’t want to see it, but I am scared that somehow I’m trapped down here, that the door is sealed from the outside.
            I climb the last step, just outside the bright and screaming world.  I throw the door open and it bounces off of something.  “Fuck,” someone says.  The door only opens halfway so I jump through it sideways.  It’s a dirty half-light on the other side from dusty and broken ceiling fluorescents.  I close the door and behind it in this narrow hallway is a small old man in a tank top, grabbing his eye where I landed the door.  Marcos’ memory supplies his name for me, Vinicius, and I know, like the knowledge one inherits in a dream, where the scar down his right arm came from and how his wife died and how long he’s had his job as a security guard.
            “Sorry,” I say.
            He looks at me with his good eye.  “Fucking Marcos,” he mutters.
            Behind him, on either side of the hallway, are several doors, all numbered 16-10.  The hallway is full of people standing outside these doors, all of them disheveled, most in their underwear.  At the end of the hall, where it breaks into a lobby is a white-haired man in a wheelchair, a button-up unbuttoned enough to expose most of his chest.  He has a cell phone at his ear.  He’s the only one here who looks like he didn’t just wake up.  Another name feeds into my mind, then shrouds and settles around him: Lourges.
            Lourges sees me and puts down the phone.  “I was trying to call you,” he says.  “They need to leave.”
            I turn around and find Ana Flavia, less than five feet tall, almost crying and cocking her head as she screams at her boyfriend, Joáo.  They’ve been here two weeks and were bad news from the get-go.  He’s a dope, scrawny, over a foot taller than her with clothes sagging off of him.  He gawks and grins at her rage.  Not that I need it to know they’re drunk, but I can smell the cachaça from here.  Behind them, more hallway, more stained and feral carpeting, ten more rooms, each with one or two more interrupted dreamers before them, squinting at the spectacle.
            He clucks in a sort of laugh and calls her a puta and she slaps him.
            “You two,” I say.  “Get the fuck out.”
            He turns and tries to stare at me, but can’t quite focus his eyes.
            “These people are trying to sleep.  Time to go.”
Joáo shrugs his shoulders and walks away, toward the peeling door at the end of the hallway.
            She bites her lip and follows him, punching his back the whole way out.
            They walk out the door and I turn back to Lourges.  “Make sure they leave,” he says.
            I squeeze through the guests as they turn back into their rooms.  I peak through the door and look down from a second story fire escape onto a parking lot next to a noisy street.  Joáo starts his rusty Civic, parked with its nose up to the building, and the tailpipe rattles.  The woman jumps behind the car and kicks it a couple times.  “Don’t leave me, motherfucker!” she says.
The man backs up a few inches, then slams the breaks.  She kicks the car again and again, each kick paired with a “fuck you!”  He straightens his body as he steps out, looking like he’s growing out of the car.  He strides to the back and shoves her to the ground.
            Madeinusa, the cute, tired woman behind me with a ten-month-old in her arms, shakes her head.  She has to work at five this morning.  Lourges sighs and rolls his wheelchair back and forth, idling.  He yawns at me.  I push through the doorway and climb down the steps.
            The woman is back on her feet and screaming, “Just go.  Why don’t you go?”
            “Because you’re standing behind my car.  You want me to run over you?  Huh?  You want fucking treadmarks all over your ass?”
            As I reach the bottom of the steps, he slaps her again.
            “Hey!”  I say.  “You two need to get off the property now.”
            The woman looks at me.  “Why don’t you mind your own fucking business,” she says and I see her fist coming at me but am so surprised I don’t react until the punch connects.  The car’s engine revs high and then low even though no one’s on the gas pedal.
            The hotel door flies open and Vinicius runs down the steps and into Ana Flavia’s face.  The eye I banged the door into is squinted shut.  “Who you think you are, hitting him, you skeazy bitch?” he says.
Joáo butts in between them.  “You gonna start shit with my woman?  I’ll kill you, old man.”
            “Yeah,” she says.  “We’ll burn the whole piece of shit hotel down and lock the doors from the outside so you all choke to death.”
            “Fuck you both,” the old man says and winds up to sock Joáo.
            Joáo punches him in the stomach.  The old man looks to me for help and I look over at the Civic as the revving starts to dip down again.
            Ana Flavia hits Vinicius in the face.  I run around them and jump into the driver’s seat.  I back up like I would run them over.  Maybe I would.  They scatter backwards.  Vinicius falls to the pavement and coughs. I jam it in first and vroom the scraping engine out of the parking lot into the rest of the world so dense with noise and lights.


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