The pain in my knees is unbearable, so if you don’t mind, I’ll just lie here on this very nice rug. At least for the duration of this tale I must recount of my beloved yet tragically afflicted former master. Now, I am masterless, as you can see. I’m too old for service, and far too old to learn the idiosyncratic particulars of a new master. I know you, the fireside that flickers, are warm to my story as my fur warms to your light. Please allow me this indulgence, to tell my tale, for I do not wish to be falsely accused for indulging a madman out of some malicious humour…I indulged a man who had nothing much left to him. As though it may seem so to the heartless who hear this tale, I was never comedic relief…even in the objective comedy that our entwined lives seem to solicit.
You read me with your beady, jaundiced eyes. Ah!—you sour and doddering parliament of hexed owls hooting whatnots. I’d sell your precious “Freedom” for a song....For a moment’s peace. I see you gathering now…around my house, entire troops of rag-wringers shambling forth in the world’s slowest, most agonizing manhunt…for cheap laughs. To torture me with your little disingenuous pebble-pelting. Clawing at my face like a pack of deranged babushki in a flea-market rage.—and out come the daggers in the din of the marketplace, eh? I’m just secondhand textiles to you, rip and toss. The meek shall disinherit me and put me in the hands of wolves. Make a pyramid of my belongings and a pyre for my body. Ravage the whole thing in flames. Auction off the ashes to the sick.
What is this heady rodomontade with its heavy, ugly tempo? A vocabulary of abuse. A lexicon of sabotage and terror. A rhetoric of fickle brats with their swarthy intentions all carefully enameled. I have no time for you backbiters of the national mistrust. Throw me, bones and all, into your bitter soup. Make your hawkish statements…I see it now…all the way up to the UN. “a fatal defect in the plan that prevents its ratification…you’d be ill-advised to push it forward in its current state—at least not without first consulting the amendments in the policy documentation.” For sure and certain. Entire realms of policies regarding me…field manuals distributed to even the children on how best to make my life miserable in perpetuity. Even God had mercy on Cain…But these beasts? Not a chance. There he is.—attack. Storm his battered gates and let’s tie him to the tail of a horse and, giddyup. You think I complain too much…But you’re not the one losing sleep. It’s all buttercups and champagne bubble laughs to you. Forty-fifty emails a day. A potential hazard in my mailbox. Serpents in boxes…You don’t believe me? Go stew yourself.
All sorts of insinuations and slanders. Hail and bullets. “He’s creepy in a Nabokov way, those little young girls he predates on, that filthy brothel of an abode.” A lecher. Pedophile. Sex maniac. Throw him in prison and cut off his balls. Paste his mug up at all the schools. Public enemy number one. Vile beast who deflowers the innocent.—Oh, I’ve heard it all. It comes to me, you see, through all sorts of channels…people who come around and posture as my friends, confidants…agents of torment trying to slip the poison into my ear, getting a sick pleasure out of giving me the bad news, the town gossip. They come with their sad sack faces, their fake sympathies…give me another dose. All heavy drama, the air all thick with dread. Foreboding. The town is ready to spring on me like a trap, just one more misstep.
No end to my troubles…Every day a new scandal. I don’t go out much…as little as possible, but you would be astonished to learn of what exploits I am alleged to be the author of. Brief economic recession in town? Aha, it was him and his sabotage. Tourist turnout low? He drove them away, that fiendish eyesore. My reputation doesn’t just precede me…it lives its own life, wild and merry and full of vice. My reputation stays out all night, it seems, boozing it up and crudely propositioning otherwise upstanding Christian ladies. My reputation pisses on all the walls....It needs to be put in a cage. A ravenous satyr with cloven hooves and the devil on its eyes....A derelict. A scheming villain. It’s always such a disastrous surprise to find out what my reputation has been up to…I get the regular updates, my “friends” who come and confide in me the ugly gossip of the town. To torment me further. Drive me around that awful bend and into the ditch.
“Oh, my friend, what the people are saying about you today…It hurts me to relate this…” Bullshittery and knick-knackery. Ballyhoo. He likes to crawl around and watch me writhe in fury. Loves to give me the newest atrocity. For kicks. And me, powerless. Another round of awful, baseless accusations. What now? Did I throw an old lady under a train? Molest some children? Cheat the local butcher? Steal from the collection plate again? Poisoned the water supply? Shredded glass in the baby’s milk? Never a moment’s peace.
But please don’t let me paint you a monochrome portrait of a life…There are happier times, or at least quiet times when the town’s vicious mockery is spent…I’m not always everybody’s kicking boy, their little monkey. A little time to myself, maybe take my dog for a walk…read the papers, a few books, anything that doesn’t tire me out too much. Let it be known that fatigue kills. My little factory of a brain, of a body—all abandoned now. Hardly standing on its wobbly stilts. The townspeople were no help in that regard, either…always sucking what was left right out of me…But I live for those quiet times, just me and my faithful dog, Frederic, part wolf…Sometimes he howls, right at the moon like a postcard from the taiga. The neighbours complain, but don’t come near. He can growl, too. Big teeth. A trespasser is as good as a walking raw steak. But Frederic is getting old and tired, too, like me…The town wearies him just as much. Spends his time moping beside me everywhere I go. A man doesn’t need friends, wives, children, cousins as hangers-on…a good dog is all the company he really needs. You feed them, walk them, pet them, they don’t pester you with any more demands than that. Dogs don’t play manipulation games with your overheated head…they don’t ask for money to buy some bijou…they don’t torment you with their banal woes or harangue you about your “bad habits”. No judgment. No endless, maundering preacherisms and moralistic blather. No gibbering that the house is too small or about the latest crooner-sensation. Completely honest: they get angry, they bark and growl…they need to make their “fait”, they paw you to get the leash…they want attention, they nudge you with their cold noses. They eat, shit and fuck without making a big scene about it, without all the ceremony and patter, without elaborate contrivance....A dog is far superior to a man.
Ok, I have to quit clowning around with you…I was called in for questioning by the police over various matters, idle gossip being the muse for the heavy-handedness of what passes for the law. Oh, they don’t like me right from the start....Wordy bastard. But that has passed now, and so where’s my t-shirt, ass? Perhaps you would like me to recycle some old love letters. Encomiums to the great service of the badge....The sergeant, a complete ass as well, his wife a calliope....I only know this because she lurked around the station…Well, the walls may have ears, but the wife has a mouth…an unbroken line of chatter and communiqué…before I even give my testimony, it’s already on the other side of town. The pig-farmers preparing their pens, grumbling about my moral turpitude, feed me to the pigs. A special place for me where no one would bother checking. This town is a cage where one can neither stand up nor lie down.—always caught in mid-erect posture, hunched over and aching. Damned if you do or don’t. Ten times worse than Abu Grab-bag....This wretched mothball justice. And over there, my so-called “lawyer”…nothing more than a moral charlatan, a carpetbagger president, a weathervane when it comes to allegiances—like everyone else in this town....the wind changes direction and so do they. Ready to see me hang…already has the tricoteuses on speed-dial. Sell my severed head on eBay. My lawyer, the wannabe politician, avaricious eyes on the mayor’s comfy seat…speaking out of two mouths at once. Thinks himself all glide and glow with the girls, all stylized and sexualized…Nothing more than a purloin steak, a rotting carcass nobody with a storebought legal diploma, alma mater of the University of Online. Fourteen easy installments $29.95. Couldn’t tort his way out of a paper bag. But I’m disgusting…my lawyer doesn’t dispute that. In league with the rest of them....Erect some kind of enclosure around me, some public decency sanitary cordon of the blue kind. Keep the children from seeing the satyr. Moral guardians every one of them....In a place like this, my “public acts of indecency” are everybody’s alluring private enjoyments of sport. They dare impugn sickness to me? Moral failing? Never better than a twisted sadist to play the ethics police....Nice way to play the reversal, a kind of psychological projection…mediate the inner guilt by crucifying the other guy....If they put me up on the cross tomorrow, they’d all laugh and mark the event with a joyous festival....They’d all get liquored up and bugger each other right under my bleeding, writhing body, all nailed up as they nail each other. You’ll see…it will be an animated blockbuster put on by Disney. When it came to sins, Christ didn’t die enough…a botched job. Oh, he did fabulous in the Disney adaptation, though. Go ahead and write a bible, but let’s see you enforce it.
But the “questioning”…more like a Soviet interrogation, a vicious community intervention, a job ripe for a Grand Inquisitor in training. Torquemadas. “Where were you on the night of…?” They know exactly where I was…at home with my dog, Frederic, him grumbling away at the proximity of all the community spies creeping around in the bushes…tired of it. “Witnesses place you at the local sex shop” this or “peeping in keyholes” that. Who are these witnesses? Thirty-odd silver pieces for their pains?...A bunch of fiendish collaborators. Getting fat on alibribes. Rogues of the new mendicant order. No choice for me but to go hide up a tree, like skittish King Charles. Might as well be the tree I’m hung from. “Yeah, why don’t you go up a tree, you lout. You smelly pervert. You nuisance termite boring into the foundations of our Christian family town. You pile of flaming feces. Put you in the poke, we will.”
Witnesses…witnesses…Frederic is mine. Too bad he can’t speak. He growls. Barks. Not much for the witness stand. They’d sooner beat him off with sticks than even let him get anywhere near the possibility of my defense. Like they did to Cellini’s dog in the Papal apartments. Yeah, you’re welcome, too…the welcome we give your dog will be how we welcome you, too. Sticks to the noggin. We crown you, king of the deviants. Thwack.—oh, they don’t need to pin and staple a rood to my back to drag that through town…they’ll just nail me to my alleged reputation, watch me hobble…You stagger and fall? Nuts to you. Proof of guilt. Why not pin some scandal and legal charges on that gorilla on your back? We saw you masturbating in the park. All over the swingsets the children use. Disgusting. Peeking up little girls’ dresses and hunting for rabbits, eh? Full, triple castration for you, punk. You slobbering bridge troll. Oh, stop your bleeding on the cross, you cross-eyed bastard. We’ll staunch that bleeding with a vinegar soaked pair of panties, you licentious git.
Now even the town trash has been given a bit of a boost because of me…all of them circling around my house with their taunts, in their beat up old ’90 Camaros…A new pecking order has been established. Them and their trailers…black-eyed wives, filthy children…Even the Mullet-brigade has someone they can look down on, finally. But that’s the thing about the Western chadras, the lumpenproles, the untouchable-unlikeables…the most vicious and snobby lot if they get the chance. You’d think they’d show pity to those at the bottom, but—No.—it has made them mean-spirited, finally an opportunity to treat others as they have been treated....They suddenly become emboldened, complete reversal, just as soon as someone displaces them from the bottom echelon…welfare crack mothers suddenly gain the affectations of well-bred queens. One-toothed pickup yokels are suddenly members of the Freemasons and MENSA. Now they all have someone to spit on.
So there I go again. I get up to say my piece and—plop.—ham-smacked down by the community’s moral avengers. They’ll have a volcanic picnic over my remains…a volcanicnic…whatever. It’s all dust plumes anyhow....You should see the diarrhea gushing out the church door with every spicy sermon, with me playing the devil, the icon as a window right to the anti-divine. The laity fuck-laughing themselves sick, my guts as the main course. The neon frolic of cinema, a pan-hatred for the one afflicted with pariahsis....watchmakers setting their wares to my inevitable execution....Oh, you’ll read all about it…in the papers…the great triumph over evil…maybe it will be part of your childrens’ history lessons in school one day, in the textbooks. Marched up to the banks with a mighty shove and sploosh....no more problem, but not before they load my pockets with my own bricks. Believing I pinched some tyke’s bottom they pinch my belongings, my organs, my bones—for deviant science. The new phrenology—no need for an ethics committee. This is not time to quibble and parse out the pronouns…me, you, them, the great worker’s “us”…I’m the one left holding the big stinkbag of guilt. Throw a blinding spotlight on the fucker. He’s the one with all the town’s naughty giblets. Charge. Hurry before he has the time to return all that we foisted upon him. Clam up, you clown. The accused wants to speak? Drown him out with the air horn of moral panic....wailing mothers and outraged gentry calling for me to be quartered, pronto. The din of their complaint, the courtroom stuffed solid with screeching, yelling, accusations by the boatload imported from abroad. Outsourced allegations…why not borrow a few from history while we’re at it? “He killed the Czar, JFK, John Lennon, Richard the Weasel-Hearted, and every pope that went mysteriously missing…” What’s that you say? Innocent? Shut up, you abortion. You addlepated poof. Dickering buggerist.
All of it—sawdust and rainbows. Might as well be dreaming in colour if I think I can prove my innocence. Everyone waiting for me everywhere…they know my quarry-value increases every time I evade their clutches, their endless fox hunts…I become a more enticing prize, a wildly sought-for hunting trophy par excellence. Whoever bags me at top dollar and mounts my mug above the mantel gets all the bragging rights and more. Every day my “monstrousness” increases, the bounty goes up. “We got ‘im. Mission accomplished.”—all that to cheers and yelps, picnics and parades, flag-rallies and the sock-hops get wild again. Finger-banging with more gusto. Maybe for good measure they film my scraggly face being inspected by the army veterinarian like I was some sort of feral jungle boy or a rabid raccoon. Then they’ll put me through a show-trial only to hang me in botched fashion…a spectator with a “hidden” cell phone cam who “accidentally” leaks it to the press and the web. All for jollies. A websplash. Exclusive footage, unfairly obtained. Most downloaded video on boobtube. See the crooked huckster swing....Nowadays, the circus is always in town, right there online…the guts are still hot....the voyeurs get to stay home, all dusty with cookie crumbs. In their holey socks and gravy-stained PJs....no action here? Go click yourself. Go Google yourself, too, while you’re at it, Jack. A fickle finger…if we don’t give the people their circuses, they get ornery, restless…maybe they pick the nits from each other’s fur…maybe beat the wife and webcast that.—DIY circus. Even the corporate bozos do everything from home…Is that a pleat in your pants?—out to pasture, you business relic, you corporateer in bad faith, you heretic of the virtual.
It is always this way with the gutfest. New media tech is always accompanied with new ways to broadcast the circus to the maximum number, the great cull of actual talent....Perhaps some outmoded ex-Soviet client state author could write the rejoinder in happy yellow, “The Infinite Snarkiness of Being”. Who knows? I don’t have political afterburners on this craft. I am merely the State itself, the whole of it, the whole pie, the big stinking enchilada of ideology, right?
“Volunteers are priceless treasures.”—are they? Any time I volunteered for anything, a heavy rebuff, a hard slap to my snout. I cough phlegm upon my computer screen these days, oozing, itching, bitching, full of sores. The people don’t want volunteers—they want butcher-bloc satori…None of my boring lojinx. I may have the lateral torque to spin a few lines here and there, buttress the community with my benevolent services, but they only come out in stronger force to dub me some sticky-dicked fondler. But my bones can carry the mass…quite a load. Crushing tragic sentiment…heaps of abuse…You should see what this body endures—I outwork them all.
Ah, but you have had quite enough of my hive-bonnet of complaint, all abuzz and pestering you. No word of a fib, no little icing of despondency, but my life has been a phosphorous bomb, perpetual burning even after the explosions....But that’s just boring, morbid, bad faith in spades, hook him off the stage with all his little existential antics. Give us singing woodchucks—that’s what entertains us…and excoriated virgins, mammoths of entertainment. Not you over there, you with your “culture” and “books” and fritter-away “art”. Not practical. Not enough blood gushing out every cornice. Well, it’s hard to appear valiant guarding a bone-palace, I admit…and hard to appear modest when you make your coin as a professional howler…Just ask the talk show hosts, ambulance chasers, ham judges, politicians flirting with reelection, the televangelical pontiffs, the radio punditocracy. You have gonzometric flourish?—yesterday’s news. You’re a waste bin of creaky old sentiments, an anachronism. Yesterday’s wilted lettuce. They’ll chase me around with their swords and snarls, screaming “Yulla. Yulla.”…You’ll see. It’s in the works…my ruin a factor in the next town budget.
“Ok, shit-for-brains…show us what you got. Stand up and deliver you washtub of grey water.” Ok, ok, I’m working on it. Patience. Unlike the late Robert Palmer or the current Ghaddafi, I don’t have my own fleet of Amazonian-sexy all-female security entourage. I can’t just say nor do what I want…that’s a luxury that is shared only by the crookedly rich and all those booze-shellacked by good fortune. Beat me in the street? Beautiful. These days, even the ghettos and shantytowns turn me out…And this town—you can tell who had money in the way-back-when…Stately homes, now surrounded by chic refurbished barn houses. Top of the hill and near the river, a real Victorian throwback. Half of them carved up into apartments for frat boys…rimed on all sides by clapboarded and aluminum-sided semi-dwellings. A meth lab here and there for good property value measure. You think they’re just reliving the old chem-lab school days? Finding a cure for cancer out of the nobility of their good citizenship? Who is the idiot now? Me, the hub of all arcane negativizing value? Please....I’m only quilting a few things here for you…lifting a few episodes from our “dear town”, mere reportage of the blatantly obvious.
You aren’t just kidding me…I see how things work around here....Some nubile tart just jiggles her tits…red carpet treatment. Bowing and bribes. No, madam, please, you don’t have to pay…They’ll break your balls for the hell of it. No elixir will do, boost up the public appeal…no vitamin regimen to make my teeth look pearly enough for the cameras. My polished words? Pure retrosonic echo-grade returns....archaic. Dummyspeak. A discourse among mannequins. Bad puppet show—boo the fucker off the stage with all his Bach cello sweetness, pure scale-exercises. Not a jot or a mote of justice in all of it. Hack. High dudgeon of the dead frontier. The people only gather—not to get your autograph—to pelt you with rotten tomatoes. That’s how it goes. Break a toe or a leg while tapping soft-shoe? You’re finished. Retrosonic becomes retrograde, so pitch it in the dumpster and let the rats take their share....after the lions take the choicest morsels…and then the scavengers, bubble-headed taxmen, licentious preachers, scrap ironists....Then they sign the next act, another rube....Here, brother, you have talent. Light up a cigar. Let’s do business. The contract, pre-pressed already. Just sign here and there. All glitz for the Schlitz. A scrolling neon marquee with your name in bold letters....in every town. You’re a sensation. Tomorrow’s household name. All swooning to your crooning....But not me. They’ve had just about enough of me. Better to wipe the shit off their heels on the unwelcome mat of my mug. Who the hell are you again? Ah. Yes. The contract breaks up, dissolves, it was all written in magic ink.
You see, I was something of a singer on stage many years ago. Maybe you heard me? Came to a few of my little soirees…Jazzy blue and marigold-glint of the brass band. Beloved in this town…Before me, people wouldn’t dip off the highway to even gas up or take a quick power lunch here…I still have a photograph of our town sign before they “revised” it…I remember. “Population: 2000. Home of the Pelvic Prowler…” My old stage name. When I fell into disrepute, they took it all down. Pass the peanuts.