sidebrow

Picayune

He smoked the kind of cigarette that killed you—the strongest one in the world. How could this document, apparently entitled “How to Make a Martial Arts Porno Movie,” have come to him? It seemed more a polemic expressing the need for such a film than a guide to making it. On the cigarette box, unironically, there was a picture of a sailor. He would watch a movie like that. He would like to see a movie like that although he would never, ever, tell anyone that out loud. A shred of tobacco was lodged in his throat. This document a xerox of an email that someone had printed out, the text full of grammatical and spelling errors, a work defined by its desperate strangeness.

Yeah yeah yeah, the King, trapped in his regal popular culture and unable to think or dope his way out. Yeah.

Need—everything was about need. Somewhere. Somehow. At some level. He was afraid too. He was afraid he was burning himself up, himself and his needs. But the needs were burning too. The needs were making him burn.

Was that it, then, to burn yourself up?

Pleasure, okay. Pleasure had some funny definitions. Some funny incarnations. He coughed—this tobacco burned like acid. Pleasure and the flesh—pleasures of the flesh. Why not do everything? What was the difference? Study kung fu, smoke cigarettes, be the King. The live King, of course, with the dead King dead.

He threw the cigarette end in the street. With no filter, it would decompose.

He was too old, too soft, too lazy to study kung fu. Worse, he as a kid had believed in kung fu, but now he no longer believed. The movie, sure, he’d watch the movie. In the movie, there’d be beautiful, exotic women skilled in sexual techniques and kung fu. He was not sure if he anymore believed in sexual techniques. Still, they were something to see.

He thought as he went back towards the building that he could leave soon. Leave and go home and drink some whiskey. Try to forget his job and blot out his life.

He knew this was not the right way to think.

What about The Market? How was his attitude improving the performance of The Market? He was in The Market as everyone he knew was in The Market, and it was The Market that was the thing most likely to guarantee his future. There would not be a lot of use for kung fu or porno come Social Security time. There wouldn’t be much use for Social Security either.

Didn’t he realize that?

Like this six-page, small font, single-spaced email meant anything: What was the intent? Somebody wanted to make the movie, let him make the movie, and the movie’s made, and there’s the movie. It didn’t even seem American. This seemed like something from somewhere else like France. Like some Frenchman made this orgy of violence and orgy of orgies and then presents it like it means everything in the world.

That’s the way it was.

He had to live with that. And with himself. Though he knew how burdensome he was. But this other apparently had no idea what a burden each one was to all those around him. And everybody else as bad, the loved ones as bad to us as we to them.

He couldn’t stay in this doorway. He had to go back inside.

Everyone had to be somewhere, even this computer-crazed Frenchman, and he had to be here for a while yet.

Get his orgy on film. Send out his message. That’d put him on top. He’d have something then. That was the other, that was the other one’s life.

He couldn’t get that. Go back in, go back out, drink some whiskey. He knew it. He was settled. He was settled with his problems intact. But he had to go back in and appear, at least, to be making an effort. Always, always, always there was some going back. Even if there was nothing, if he had nothing to go back to, he was sure he would go back mentally. Mentally—that was the only true time travel.

With that he got the headache.

A quick headache, a pain at the front of his skull that lasted maybe a minute, maybe less.

Someone, he thought, had shot a beam into his skull.

Funny how he thought that. He did not believe that. It was just something floating around, something from the TV.

Regardless, he had to go back in for some more time.

Couldn’t it just pass? Couldn’t he just sit in there as though he were in a trance? Why not be in a trance? He saw himself as a man with a desire to be in a trance state. If he had that movie, and he put it in his VCR and watched it, he could sit there as though in a trance. He could watch it again and again.

But he might not be in a real, an authentic, trance. Why, he thought, was he denied a trance state? It wasn’t part of his culture, true, but how long did he have to suffer at the unknowing, the uncaring, mercy of his culture?

What did he get? Instead of the trance states he got, what, the Promised Land? The problem with the Promised Land was that inescapable and unenforceable promise. Instead he got to go back inside and toil by the sweat of his brow. Or something like that.

Okay. Yeah, all right. He had this temp thing writing curriculum for inclusion in a software package. Right, right, right. He knew how to do it. He, he, he had been a teacher.

He should have brought some whiskey with him. You know, in a little flask. But that would be bad. He couldn’t let himself do that. Just as he couldn’t make or participate in the making of a martial arts porno movie. Wasn’t in him. Wasn’t who he was. Or could be. Prisoner of his culture, his idea, his ego, his head. Couldn’t think his was out. Couldn’t feel his way out.

Somebody’s, not his, escaping the ego. There was a trap to be sprung.

Nope. Not his.

Back to the Spook House, one way or the other. Earn his daily bread.

He knew a woman. Yeah, yup. She was brilliant then. Now she sold things or helped sell things. He had been a teacher. That was supposed to be better. Really he had helped people so they could be well prepared to buy things. To consume things like the movie. To take the movie, the stuff, the food, the cars—all—into themselves, in a way.

He took all that into himself. How could he not?

The best thing would be to live in a box.

But then—

The best thing would be to live in a box with her. He could be King then and reign with the Queen. Reign in this Kingdom of Junk.