I am sitting, heavy and endless, at the Surgeon General’s Warning Mall food court just letting the wicked world die all around me. Synthetic chairs, synthetic knives, synthetic forks, synthetic spoons, Styrofoam plates, ceramic tiles, melamine coated tables and counterfeit plants being my only real company. Momentarily, the imitation gangs of white-trash suburbia adolescents will arrive and vomit their casual indifference all over the fake fresco walls, ejaculating their digitally re-mastered sex juices and force-feeding their Proactive-needy faces. They will trickle-in in droves, groups of four’s and five’s and ten’s and 100’s and 103’s. Sporting trendy space-aged NASA inspired fiber patch encrusted knapsacks filled with wanton prepubescent angst and curiosity and desire and fear and self-loathing and hatred and Budweiser beer. They will swarm the near empty food court with single-minded intentions, playing musical chairs with fleshy Pillsbury cookie-dough asses fueled by omnivorous animal fat and liquid sugar and MSG and ecstasy. They are chock-a-block with disease and parasites and infomercials; living, breathing, made-for-TV nomads. Increase and multiply, and fill the Earth and subdue it and rule…They are spellbound by the dazzling neon redundancies, double entendres and barely comprehensible text of every conceivable font and color and insult. They are hard-wired into this place. They are part of the giant synthetic life-form, breathing in deeply its deadly fumes and exhaling pure poison. For now, I am alone. Absorbing the fragrant erotic chemical releases from the surroundings as I sip coffee from a filthy chipped mug neatly labeled “coffee” for my convenience. The recycled air has lent its sour touch to the succulent tropical waxy plants, leaving a fine coating of dust and grime and mites that could never be removed. And why should it? It is a forensic orgy of hair and skin and sweat and money and religion and politics and sin. An original HBO series in the making. Thursday nights, right after Serial Killer Sisters of the Mid-West on Acid. There is a pilot in every nuance of nine-to-five life. You just have to look hard enough. I am sitting here contemplating the rest of my day. Will it include any prime time worthy drama? Will it include any sardonic commentary? Will it include surrogate suicidal tendencies? How could it not? This garden is littered with clashing eco systems; this much is certain. For I am the perpetual observer. The retail field voyeur with the bottomless coffee and the strained pink swollen eyes and the rolling gut and the dirty bitten fingernails and the everlasting emptiness. Early on-set albinism is my casualty of war. Florescent light dances off the remnants of my once pigmented skin. My lungs breathe in deep the sweet aroma of capitalism and corruption and cunningulus and coupons. My evolution +1 gills have become cancerous, rotting away slowly from the inside. I wheeze incessantly, collecting small offerings from the plastic vegetation gods. Straining the nutrients through my baleen, capturing tiny remnants of Conrad and Golding and Saramago. The partial coffee rings on the table wink at me with a sick desperation. Coffee drips slowly from my mouth, leaving caffeine pock marks on the artificial elbow rest that supports my pathetic sagging disposition. Another celestial morning has taken shape and I just sit alone and watch it die slowly. Wickedly. Purposefully. From life you escape, reality’s to blame…
This is not as morose as it seems. There are daily manifestations of yet-to-be-recorded behaviors to be observed and closely studied. I am the perverse suburban field scientist, in stained out-of-date Levi’s rolled up to reveal asphalt-worn Doc Martens that should have died an unnatural, but purely justified, 80’s death, taking notes on custom inked napkins and jotting down crucial data on crumpled food receipts as faded as the Black Flag T-shirt that hugs my gut too tightly. There is much to note. Before the great brown-eyed orifice, with its swollen dripping hemorrhoids and walnut sized will-nots, is officially opened to the public, the mall mercenaries must prepare properly and thoroughly for the elaborate rituals of feigned obedience. There are windows to be streaked, floors to be saturated, doors to be unlocked, signs to be displayed, food to be prepared, pockets to be picked, dreams to be fulfilled, fetishes to be satisfied, tempers to be unleashed, panties to be torn, flesh to be gouged, blood to be sucked… This daily phenomenon goes unnoticed, unappreciated, unwanted by the myriad of daydream believers who wander in and out of this cocoon of brick and steel and mortar and golden oldies played at the faint hint of a decibel. I am here to document the truth, the rituals, and the habits of the great Consumer Cataclysm. Taking samples, making notes, observing routines. Watching the obedient drones as they prepare for the onslaught. Leaving chemical markers for the day-trippers, leaving pheromone trails for the vermin, leaving bread crumbs for the blind and cum-stains for the deaf and dumb and desperate. They will welcome the invasion with open arms, open legs and moldy eyes and the great mind-fuck will begin in earnest. Let us make man to our image and likeness… It won’t wait for analysis; it won’t wait for advice or regret. It moves like an African grass fire, surrounding its prey before burning them to death with the promise of renewal. A renewal that means nothing to those caught in the line of fire. But, like I said, it is not as morose as it seems. It could be much worse.
The doors are hurled open in unison at 8:00 ante meridiem and each door of each mausoleum-like vending hole is unlocked, swung open, latched into place and door-stopped for the next twelve hour shift. It’s an unhinging of magnificent proportions and meticulous execution and enviable disillusion. An invitation impossible to reject. The individual cells are open for business and the great Warden is watching, drooling, masturbating, climaxing again and again, glued to the closed-circuit camera screens. Sticky fingers control well worn joysticks. The patrons are oblivious to the biological hazard that has erupted at their expense in the Warden’s checkered polyester pants. A word of caution: the Elapidae may be the minority, but they strike with deadly precision, injecting their neurotoxins deep into unsuspecting, apathetic walking hominid tissue. You push the needle in… There is no constriction involved. A slow but steady consumption follows. Digestion begins in the mouth and only accelerates in the esophagus. Jacob’s ladder cannot help you. You will be devoured. Slowly, but with intense determination. You will disappear. The air vents give a false sense of security and connectedness with the oxygenated world outside. The plants look on with solid detachment. The windows reflect nothing. The seasons will come and go, but the endless halls remain the same. Faux finishes abound, living room luxury at recreational room rates, preparing for the heavily sponsored WWJD 500; the lanes have been designated; the watering tables have been erected; the starter’s pistol has been raised. And the doors…by God, the doors are open!
Sweaty asses leave plastic seats and acrylic fiber pillows and artificially veneered benches for new territory. Coffee mugs and half-eaten donuts are left on marbled melamine tables, napkins roll like tumbleweed from the back draft of bodies leaving in unison. Determined to be the first to enter the lunchbox cubby holes, they dash for the imaginary ribbons and s-t-r-e-t-c-h to win by a nose. The high-speed cameras flash, the crowd holds its breath, the bookies clench their teeth, the horses’ erections peak, the jockeys’ asses clench; there is a new winner in every lane. The race itself is endless. It begins and ends in the same breath. I yearn for a sudden outbreak of asthma. An epidemic of Global emphysema. An unknown air-born hot agent from the deepest darkest depths of the once romantic Imperialist Congo. A crippling lack of phony oxygen. To see them wheezing and gasping for air. To see them fall to their knees and hold their throats with bargain flyer ink-stained hands. To see them rip open their shirts, buttons falling to the ceramic tiles like a wannabe blue blood’s fake pearls. To see them…this is my task. This is my affliction; my reward. To see them everyday. To watch them rot and slowly decay. And everyday they come. Green to the danger that surrounds them. Green to the pathological watcher in their midst. Green even, to themselves. The lights cast no shadows. The store windows are semi-solid liquid cages for minimum wage specters. Only the register receipts confirm the mildest sense of reality. And, of course, the linear sweaty ass-crack mist contributions to the on-going forensic orgy of the past, present and future. Now this is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh… Oh, dust where have you gone?
They move like hoards of winged, clawed vermin, intent on being the first to the kill scene. Hooked beaks and scale-covered heads probe for the hint of opportunity. A snap here, a squawk there, and a shuffle bric-a-brac. They are relentless in their pursuit of consumer carrion. For their task they are suitably equipped. Evolution (Ha!) has provided them with a toolbox that defies the old naturalist’s theory of natural selection. Eyes that scan the synthetic horizon, spotting limping blue-light sales, and clearance racks from miles away. Coupled by a keen sense of smell that can detect the slightest sniff of placenta under three feet of cotton and polyester and rayon and cashmere; they systematically survey the asbestos Serengeti looking to meet and exceed their official classification: Serutluv. Three distinct groups emerge. Serutluv adolescent, Serutluv adult, and Serutluv senior. Though initially slightly different in outward appearance, they share the same common purpose. They are here to mop-up the cellophane carrion. Without them, there would be no New and improved! No 30% More. No Longer Lasting! No Fair Trade Produced. Without them, the shelves would be stacked to the asbestos-covered rafters, collecting dust and mites and dandruff and L’Oreal tumbleweeds. Without them, without them, without them. Of course, this could never be. The great plastic chain would be missing a link and the entire length would be compromised. They are the key-link species. So they circle, endlessly looking for that next bargain on intestines. The next V.I.P. special on bone marrow. The 2-4-1 deal on the leaky pancreas. The lights are humming, the escalators are grinding and the serutluv have begun their descent in sincere but misguided seriousness. There must be a clearance on gallbladders. We’ll need a clean-up in isle six in mere moments. In the fields the bodies burning…
The chipped, chinked, filthy, and now nearly empty mug has earned a well deserved rest and I decide to lean back and take in the migration; in all of its chaos and calculated dependence and casual coldness. Eight oh eight a.m. and as of yet, I have jotted down nothing but this reckless, hackneyed, assemblage of self-indulgent digressions. It is time to hunker down and record some bona fide facts and figures and forensic felatio. I am running out of napkins and cash register receipts and must resort to the underside of the paper placemat that has been so neatly positioned on my little melamine elbow rest. Uncapping my red Bic medium ballpoint pen, I sit absolutely still while I scope the scene for a potential candidate. Without warning. Without so much as an announcement over the mall’s public announcement system, you turn the corner with an awkward, almost gawky gait that immediately catches my now steady ever-pinkening retinas. This is like no serutluv that I have seen before. You walk with a casually forced lethargy that would be the envy of any 16 year-old stay-at-home-welfare mother with tank top pit stains and Cheese Whiz moustache and stretch marks and chipped toe-nail polish. Draped haphazardly in the latest fuck-me-harder-daddy fashion, you fumble with your keys as you try to unlock the fingerprint smeared glass door to the cubby hole you tell your friends is your “fucking Mc Job”. You are late.
Frantically scribbling with my shaking hands and throbbing heart and wheezing lungs and stiffening cock, I note every detail of your appearance. Every nuance of your indifference. Every chink in your delicious youthful armor. You wear your hair tied back, long, brown, messy and slightly greasy, with the occasional exodus of strays that blow gently in the cool, stale, recycled mall air. Your skin is taught and bronzed by the sun, pink at the edges and peeling in the center. Your two sizes too small apple red tank-top hugs your perfect breasts and pushes them back with enough authority to challenge your lungs. Your small band of abdominal flesh sits lightly on sagging scarlet shorts that challenge gravity and tease voyeurs with riding pink panties that peer over the top with sleepy eyes. A home made belly chain of plastic beads and trinkets and charms invades both spaces. Your toned legs stretch for miles and end with cul-de-sac white plastic flip-flops that are never quite on or off your slender dirty feet. Your long, sharp, polished toenails poke fun of the carpet as they drag along with confidence and a daring sense of self-fulfillment. Before you suddenly close the door and disappear under the pink neon sign marked For His Comfort, you make eye contact me with for the briefest of moments and the seed is sown.
I want you. I want you in rotting corpses. I want you in blood stained sheets. I want you in vomit covered silk robes. I want you in your mother's wedding dress. I want you in my wife's bed. I want you in new worlds. I want you in old memories. I want you in my sickness. I want you in room 101. I want you in your sister's soiled panties. I want you in the Vatican. I want you in burnished leather. I want you in dimly painted caves. I want you in sterilized rooms. I want you in bondage. I want you on my altar. I want you in abandoned shanties. I want you in ivory towers. I want you in modern habit. I want you in ancient tales. I want you in empty bottles. I want you in cavernous landfills. I want you in the backseat of my tope sedan. I want you in my mother’s coffin. I want you in Intensive Care. I want you in interstate restrooms. I want you in my weakness. I want to eat you to your core and devour the seeds within. I want the seeds to erupt from my chest and… Should it be any more than this? Can it be any less? You know there’s no return…
Sitting in my car, dazed in the parking lot, unable to process what has happened so unexpectedly. A Hawk lands solidly on the hood of my old tope sedan. In her left talon she holds an albino Squirrel. The outlandish couple’s arrival should take me by surprise, but not today. Not today. I watch with horror-stricken curiosity as the Hawk tears out the pink eyes, devouring each one quickly while the plump, weathered Squirrel, still kicking against the pricks, still trying to make it to the safety of the old oak, wonders why the world has so abruptly and regrettably disappeared. For a moment I consider using my horn to end this gruesome spectacle, but decide to maintain my role as bystander to this parking lot tragedy. The Hawk is magnificent. She is sleek and powerful and awe-inspiring. She looks as if she has just survived a spectacular oil spill. Her feathers are intense and glisten in the cool morning rays of early summer, the odd one standing out from the others, blowing in the breeze. The Hawk looks through me with indifferent eyes and seeing no obvious threat from this strangely fashioned audience, contemplates her kill like a skilled butcher before making the prized cut. Long polished talons buried deeply into the soft white fur of the Squirrel, the slow but steady stream of blood stains the antique white coat to a patchwork of deep burgundy blemishes. The Squirrel, a little less plump than before, remains motionless. The fur on its long tail moves slightly in the wind. Its eyes, relieved of their biological duty, are everywhere and nowhere all at once. The Squirrel has become silent in every sense of the word. The Hawk is persistently watchful. Head moving quickly from right to left; she guards her prey from possible aerial poachers. She has laboured too rigorously to give up her prize. The talons hold tight what took minor skill and even less strategy to obtain. It will not be lost. Both pink eyes now digesting, the Hawk scans the horizon thoroughly before spearing the vulnerable gut with her one yellow fang. Ripping and slashing, bits of soft white and crimson fur are left to the wind's whims, floating with a muddled gracefulness across the asphalt plain, sticking to the tinted windows of the beige mini-van eight spots over; left there for children to wonder about dandelions in early summer. Having an opening from which to escape, the intestines make a sudden, but unannounced appearance. They spill onto the tope hood of my old car, adding a permanent sense of temporariness to the ongoing collage of rust and fading paint. The Hawk devours the intestines eagerly, throwing her head back with violent conviction. No male equivalent in sight to challenge the scene. No video camera to document the event. The Hawk simply gorges herself on a few feet of purple fleshy piping. I watch with a sudden dread I never dreamed of as the Hawk’s shimmering feathers are coated by small crimson droplets. The Hawk takes little notice of her sole spectator. She simply tears into the Squirrel with a confidence and vigour that would be the envy of any being. Her ebony eyes seem to predict events before they can occur. They command her head to move this way and that, jolting from left to right with a speed that invokes dizziness. The quick black eyes take in the landscape with the sureness of cool methodology; they do not miss a single element. A branch swaying in the wind, a coffee cup blowing across the pavement, a gull circling just out of concern; all are noticed and momentarily ignored. Like I am ignored. The Hawk does not see me as a threat. And why should she? Am I any different than the prey she holds so tightly in her forked hand? Would I fare any better than the white lifeless tree rodent that stares at me with empty eye sockets? She greedily tears out and swallows down organs that I can only assume were essential to the Squirrel just mere minutes earlier. I am amazed by her persistence. I make as many mental notes as I can. Though for some reason I cannot explain, I know they will do me no good. By tomorrow, I will have forgotten everything.