Crossroads

John Park-Carr and Parlor Trick Johnson met at the R&D Deli one fine Swedish afternoon for a round of aquavit and a fat-chewing session.

JPC: “What’s new with you, brother?”

PTJ: “Not much, the Magic Johnson impersonation business is still dragging, thought it would’ve picked up by now. Youth sports leagues have gotten savvier at this point–they’d rather get an actual basketball player, even if they’re not a household name, or even in the NBA at all. Turns out people aren’t in the business of taking tips from color commentators at local high school games.”

JPC: “That’s too bad, man. I hope business picks up for you soon.”

PTJ: “Yeah, I don’t think it’s going to happen. I feel fortunate that I have a little nest egg saved up for a crossroads just like this. I’m going to take some time off and figure out what I really want to do with the rest of my prime money-earning years.”

JPC: “You’ve always been a visionary, man. I look forward to hearing about what you’re cooking up. Myself, I’m just gonna keep valeting around town. The money’s decent enough, not like I have a wife and kids to feed or anything. Easy peasy. You know, I did think for a minute about starting my own valet company, being as my name is Park-Carr, for cryin’ out loud. I’m pretty sure that about half of my new client acquisition would just be answering the ol’ ‘Is John Park-Carr really your name? Seems a tad on the nose for a valet guy, no?’ I’m still on the fence about it, as you may rightly understand.”

Marching St. Evers’s Day

“And on this, the bicentennial of Marching St. Evers’s Day, we shall all gratefully lose our footwear as we plod through our town’s humble main drag in accordance with the man whose name graces the gates at the original northern and southern boundaries of what we now know as Everston, ‘The Friendliest Town in the World!’ according to Volume 47, Issue 3 of Weekly People Quarterly.

“To get a sense of this hallowed day’s magnitude, if natural mud has not populated the grounds prior to the event, we shall have some ready-made for the occasion, so as to harken back to the infamous time that old St. Evers himself trekked from the north to the south end of town in desperate need of a pub open in the wee small hours of that particular horrid winter morn. In the midst of all the squelching, his boots slipped clean off and sunk into the good country clay, but he was not deterred, nay! He continued along his harrowing haunt, on a mission to wet his whistle before dawn cracked and the drones began their scurrying for another day, reminding him once again of our puny species’ fleeting existence.

“So as the story goes, Old St. Evers (known simply as Tony Evers back then) happened upon a house at the very southernmost point of town, which–at the time–was yet comprised of simple farmhouses sparsely scattered few and far between. He was just one more setback away from packing it in for the night, about to abandon hope for a watering hole that could quench his very soul. He beseeched the landlord to spot him with a wee drink, letting him in on the gory details of his arduous trudge, expecting a sympathetic ear. The landlord would have none of it, promptly kicking the inebriated Mr. Evers back into the road, “ya lousy old souse!” Our hero tripped and fell backwards into the damnable mud, made worse and worse as the morning haymakers began their bustling to and fro, whipping up a froth that slowly but surely engulfed the poor man.

“All these years later, St. Evers’s remains have never been recovered (though that doesn’t stop enthusiasts from continuing to try). Some folks claim the tale is a complete hoax, and the townsfolk were just coming up with new kinds of drinking holidays to pass the brutal Winters. Regardless of whether or not this unfortunate soul lived and died in our beloved little town, we all still take the time once a year to celebrate his story.”

“Gee Dad, that’s a cool story and all, but why do we have to camp out here so early?”

“Son, there aren’t many times in life when you can be a witness to the history that shaped your town and very way of life. Trust me, one day you’ll be telling your kids about how you got a front row seat with your dad, how you learned not to abandon your fellow man when he asks for a wee nip of the house brandy.”

“I have to pee.”

“Just soil your britches, son. I’m not giving up this spot on account of your wee bladder.”

Thanks, Dad

“Parallel entities befit madness, my son.

“You should never turn your back on those other dimensions our forward-thinking predecessors have been touting for some time now, or your attention will lose its cosmic importance, the aggregate of local souls gradually easing you out of their observational patterns–though it’s the last thing they would do if given the choice.

“While you are charged with keeping your attention beyond the present actions contained within our visible plane, you mustn’t let the responsibility weigh on your consciousness too much; although you know everything is simply an illusion, you are an integral part of the chain of illusions keeping our earthly consciousness afloat.

“When you shudder, know the implications. When two birds meet on a wire and appear to converse, understand that their dialogue fits into our space on a level wholly undisturbed by our own idea of language. No need to fret over payment, my first lesson is always free.”

“Thanks, dad.”

——

First draft posted on 10/12/11,
originally entitled #40

Roses

The ever-present Rumpelstiltskin type of orangeade
seems to have no connection to the ingenuity
of a person concerned with a corrupt bargain
and everything to do with a personal vendetta
to be meted out over the course of several decades,
if not millennia.

Such a skip in discourse may only lead some people
to believe of its malintent, but truly
there is nothing wrong with such a change in scale.
How else are we to judge our actions
against the actions of others in present or past?
How else are we to compare ourselves
to the species who specialize in longevity?
The trees out there, the mollusks, the fungi,
all of them. We’re just individual pinpricks
in their rearview mirrors, and it would take a miracle
for us to cause more than just a blip
on their collective radar screens.
How do you like those terrible mixed metaphors?
Yeah, it’s getting me pretty hot too, come to think of it.

Who needs any kind of inspiration anymore anyway?
It would seem as though folks
mainly just seek to consume
pleasant media at a reasonable price,
and anything falling outside of that window
must be judged much more critically,
since fewer people have sought it out.
And the ones who go out of their way to discover
such outlets must therefore–in their own minds–
be superior beings, leading to tirades
about their keen eyes and intellects
while we sit there right next to them
with a thumb up our ass, hoping only
to take that thumb and plug up their infernal nostrils.

“What is that intoxicating aroma? Roses?”

“No, genius, it’s my shit-covered finger. Why don’t you go off somewhere and have a time of it while you prank a local youth?”

“Why, you insubordinating little trolley-hopper, I’ll have you know that I earned this domineering nature through sheer pluck and grit. Also, possibly through piss and vinegar. Over the course of my years, I haven’t been able to differentiate the two, though you might say I’m a bit of a glutton for the cinema. Wait, what kind of critic am I? Shit, I forgot. A jack of all trades such as myself can only be concerned with where the next paycheck’s coming from.”

Infarction – 03:27GMT

All things considered, today is an ornery gentleman on the verge of a total pulmonary infarction.

So, since we’re all in the same boat, might as well bring our unique benders to the stage and rivet that audience through their tenure in those uncomfortable seats while they’re shifting around, groaning and fumbling with hard candy wrappers.

Exquisite, is it not? That gallant patriarch wrangler has struck again, and he skipped away with six of our proprietary cultures! That devious bastard, I hope they fry him.

Anyway, as I’ve been known to say: the illusion of sterility is wasted on the fertile.

I really wish I could use my arms.

Devilles – 07:11GMT

Boom. All right, let’s wrap it up. I’m tired of your hesitation here! Don’t you know a high roller when you see one?! Chop chop, kid. 6,000 silver Devilles. Come on, while we’re young! What’s your deal, kid? Don’t think I have the funds to pay for these death traps? 45 grand apiece, what’s that, two hundred and seventy five grand? Eh, close enough. Fine, I’ll carry the zero over by a couple decimal points, just to shut you up. You sure are mouthy, kid. JESUS, do you have those cars yet? I’m on a tight schedule here, college boy. I gotta get these cars to kids with cancer—all terminal. GET A MOVE ON. Does your grandmother know you work this slow? What do you mean you don’t have 6,000 Devilles?! That’s ridiculous! I came to you guys specifically because you’re the largest Cadillac dealer in the tri-state region. Don’t feed me bologna and tell me it’s peaches, kid. How about I I take my business to another dealer? Frankly, I’m shocked that you’d let me walk away from such a tidy commission—the sale of your LIFE. You know you don’t want to look like a loser in front of your buddies when you’re talking about your day at the ol’ watering hole. They all went and got their degrees and cushy little office jobs—the SELLOUTS—while you’ve been sputtering away in the retail sector, waiting for days just like this one. And now you’re just gonna piss it all away. Come on now, how long has we known each other? All right, regardless, I’m a business man who has the funds at hand. I pull the strings. I give people the products they want and deserve. That’s something completely foreign to you, isn’t it, egghead? I mean CHRIST, is there any place in this God-forsaken country where you can buy 6,000 cars in peace anymore?! This is absolutely ridiculous. Yeah yeah, get your manager. Screw you, kid. I’m outta here.

Yeah, Gloria? I’m gonna have to cancel that shipment of Devilles. The sick kids are gonna have to learn to drive in some shitty old driver’s ed cars before they die of CANCER. Oh wait a minute, Gloria, here comes the manager. All right, put a pin in this. Talk to you later. Yep. Okay, buh bye.

Oh, okay. So you’re calling me unreasonable for expecting the fourth-largest Cadillac dealer in the COUNTRY to give me PERMISSION to buy 6,000 cars? First of all, I don’t need anybody’s permission to do anything. We live in a little place called the USA, ever heard of it? Second of all, if I have the funds, how could you peabrains possibly deny me the right to buy as much substandard American merchandise as I so please?! Listen, I’m no dummy. I understand that you don’t have 6,000 Devilles in stock. But is it unreasonable to expect you to pool your resources and deliver them to me this week some time? Oh. Okay. I understand. Well, I’ll just take one then. How much was it again? 40 grand? 45, you say? I think it was 40, boss. Hey hey hey—do you really want to debate me on the price when you flat out refused to accommodate my request just a minute ago? Remember that?! You have some nerve, buddy. Okay, fine. 45 grand. Do you accept traveler’s checks?

That would have been more fun if I could have used my arms…

Johnny Fartenrod – 20:41GMT

Johnny Fartenrod had too many English Bulldogs to assemble a proper team of chariot racers, but that didn’t mean much in the long run anyway. A chariot racer needs a swifter breed of canine, one that contributes more panting than snorting when all is said and done.

Johnny Fartenrod wouldn’t hear of it. He never took those competitions seriously, no matter what the prize happened to be. Now, it may seem a bit unfair that an individual as zealous and spirited as good ol’ Johnny can’t compete in the thrice-annual chariot races (sponsored by clinical-strength Moon Buggies®), but sometimes you have to understand that we all have our distinct purposes in life.

What is my purpose, masters? Am I special? Is that why I’m here?
I really wish I could use my arms.