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Excerpts


by Jeffrey S. Callico


This is what it means but it means more than it meant before, you can be seated now, it's the rule. I won't say this again so leave your minds outside. If you get sick you get sick of yourselves. And if things don't work out then they work to someone else's advantage, believe me. I won't lie to you, sometimes you really feel floored when people say they're out of control.


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If the sun shines at all you'll get out of bed and stretch yourself into some kind of extension of being then cascade your feet to the floor and stand upright, just like you're supposed to do when they give you the impression they're telling you things you long to hear but are afraid to listen.


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Rhythm so fast he couldn't see it. A voice shrill from some corner of being. Here's a cup of something, man. Baffled, voluminous confusing. Jeering face at his throat, wanting inside, all that blood there at the ready.


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A small complication infused like a dark syringe. A thousand wise men couldn't understand it. A thing fell off a shelf, dropped from some ceiling; it was a death, in the end, a gift.


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Insipid, his face crumbled. The others wanted to cram him into a wooden plank. He sat alone on one side while the others smirked their existence at him. Suddenly everything folded shut and he found himself flattened, his death impending.


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It's not what is meant when it's stated in such a way, like when before a small group of people, like in a coffee shop or something, when the piano player is on vacation and no one's there to replace him. You get lost in all the verbal shuffle and then somehow get accustomed to saying nothing in response.


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I drove backwards out of the driveway and hit the gas. I was going forward and speeding down the road. I was driving somewhere, I was thinking about something that happened before, wondering what had happened and what would happen afterward, like after I left and all. Things would happen for sure but what would they be I had no way of knowing so I drove down the road and looked around at the passing trees as I passed the trees that lined the road and it was getting dark so I sped up and drove faster until I got where I was headed and then things started to be ok again I think but who's to know what ok is when ok is something that really isn't ok until you say it is.


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Where do I come from, and he thought this as he crossed a street when the sign said walk.


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They burnt the dinner and threw it out. It was a black mess in the can. They cut off the TV and talked about the burnt dinner. It was a dinner that would have been good he said and she said yes but it's burnt now since you burned it and he said no you burned it remember you were the one who burned the dinner remember can you not remember anything anymore you're the one who does all the burning of dinners around here not me all I do is turn off televisions in the middle of nights with burnt dinners in the can so let's sit here and see what happens now and her eyes burned as he talked.


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What did you get me, she said, but he didn't get her anything. The car wouldn't start and he kicked the tire and screamed but it wouldn't start, they were done, he didn't get anything. He came home and got nothing. She looked at him, his empty hands. Her mouth was empty and she had nothing to fill it with.


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You have no reason to stop, you know, so keep moving. It's what we do around here. You know, we keep things moving here so keep it moving, keep things moving along and we'll be fine with that when everything's moving in some direction we need it to go in, you know. Look at me, I'm asking you a question.


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A heightened sense of being when the rain comes down, when the wind rushes through the green and brown trees against the mottled sky, all that terror on the news but you stand here with your face wet in the tough breezes anyway, all this is what you feel now and you'll feel it again but until then just standing here is fine.


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In other words, in other worlds, nothing mattered when he thought about things for a minute. He was standing on the edge of some road overlooking a deep ravine, as if being there made any difference to anyone. Birds flew nearby, but that always happens in skies when birds are around. He kept looking for a ride.


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Perpetual and unnerving, he was unerring in his estimation of what he thought of himself, like some stuck pig or a pig stuffed in a den. He explained himself well when he was sitting in a chair but when he had to stand up everything fell apart and left him alone with himself like he was in the middle of a snowy nowhere, no food, no fire, no life, just no no no.


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Joined nights the bar open late you think you know where home went. Lit mind down neighborhood street: no one cares.


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He wanted something to think about so his brain coincided with what he wanted, as if there was a pocket of thought there, hungry for intelligent banter. He felt his mouth move, felt his mouth moving along down its road of strange verbatim then take a turn, the one taken before, the wrong one, again.




















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