Saturday, May 26, 2012

At the dead end, I turn back, but there is no point in retracing my steps as my steps were altogether random in the first place, I see that now. I understand suddenly that intention is simply a fiction we tell ourselves so as to differentiate ourselves in our own heads from the starfish. Perhaps the starfish are doing something similar in their entirely alien fashion. Perhaps they are better able to accomplish whatever they set out to accomplish. Mostly to move from one place to another, I imagine (the same as us). To surround and consume organisms weaker than themselves. In the dim light cast by highway signs that rise high above that part of the city, the skin on my arm begins to look as if it were thin and papery, just the sort of thing that might tear and release its contents should it rub up against something solid. My concern grows out of all rational proportion and I move to the center of the street so as to avoid the garbage cans and benches and anything solid that I can’t see but that I know is out there and just waiting to cause me pain. Ten or twelve hours pass in this fashion and before I know it the sun is up and I am no closer to my original goal than I was when I set out. Farther away, in fact, because I can no longer recall what that goal was. Just when I am ready to give in to despair, to lie down in a garbage-strewn lot I have discovered and let the insects consume me, I see Eulalie scurrying between buildings two blocks away, pushing her wheelbarrow and kicking violently in the direction of anyone who attempts to impede her progress. I was right! I saw in my mind that she made use of a wheelbarrow and my vision turned out to be true, unless of course, this too is a vision and I will find neither Eulalie nor the wheelbarrow once I corner the apparition in the alleyway in which it has disappeared. That possibility frightens me so much that I am unable to move from the spot where I am standing and eventually people begin to gather around me, asking questions, occasionally poking me with a stick or waving their hands in front of my face to determine if I am responsive, if perhaps I have had a stroke. Their concern makes me hungry for some reason and I search through the pockets of my coat to see if I have any crackers or loose seeds, but all I find is a single piece of yellow gypsum I had managed somehow to overlook previously. Oh ecstatic day! I bolt the substance and feel the effects almost immediately – the slow hum of the gears of the world turning on its axis become gradually audible, the curtain of unreality lowered over everything visible, altering it irrevocably without obscuring or distorting it, without eliminating so much as a single leaf on a single nearby tree or a syllable of the words spoken by those who have lost their concern for me and are now grumbling at the shabby way I have treated them, even hatching plots to avenge themselves upon me for tricking them into believing I was in mortal distress through no obvious fault of my own when in all actuality I had brought whatever adverse consequences I was experiencing down upon myself through the misuse of substances each of them had heard of previously, even if they had never before used them, or believed in their existence. They had considered them the stuff of legend and fairy tale until that moment when they saw me pop a grain of gypsum into my mouth and turn before their very eyes into something simultaneously both human and less-than-human, something very similar to the portraits of ordinary people they might have run across hanging on the walls of a local museum that is not known particularly for its collection of portraiture so much as it is known for its extensive collection of medieval suits of armor.                 

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