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.”

Inherent Value

Poet: I got a steal of a deal on turkey today! I’m unreasonably happy right now.

Accountant: So… why’s that? It’s just turkey.

P: Well, someone dropped one of those shrink-wrapped breasts on the floor, and it had already been opened, so their policy was that they had to toss it.

A: Let me guess, you–

P: Yup, got it for free! Gino was working behind the counter today and came out back on his break to “dispose of it,” i.e. let his buddy have an ample supply of salty fowl meat.”

A: Gross.

P: I didn’t see it fall, but Gino said it got picked up in about a second, and the floor was pretty clean at the time.

A: Pretty clean?

P: Come on dude, I get floor food all the time and yet never get sick. Coincidence? I think not.

A: Well… you might be onto something there, but you’ll have to walk that tightrope without me.

P: How very cryptic, yet obvious. Did you think I was going to try to share this miraculous bird boob with you? Fat chance, señorita.

A: Señorita?

P: Yeah, I’ve been starting to call white cisgender males señorita lately, to get them to question their binary perception of sexual and social roles (unless they already think about these things, in which case they’re cool with it anyway).

A: Good to know.

P: Back to the point at hand: you were insinuating that it’s only a matter of time before I ingest a floorbound grape and contract some horrific illness. Sometimes I wonder why it is that you actively root for my destruction.

A: Geez! Where did you get all that from?

P: Tonality, body language, eye movement, the usual.

A: Well it’s not true, dude! You really take things too far sometimes.

P: Yeah, whatever. That’s what they all say. All those… “people.”

A: People, sheeple, I know where this rant is going.

P: Fine, then let me localize my argument to this room and the mind straddling the body in my vicinity at the moment. I have been observing for some time that you repress your instinctual side, and the passive-aggressive comments you make on a fairly regular basis are vessels for your packing-up of creative frustration. You lob them–like grapefruits–right down the pipe and I hit tape-measure blasts from time to time, depending on my energy level at the particular moment of said pitch. My diagnosis: Boredom-itis. Prescription: Weed and painting classes.

A: Ooh, ow. Oh yeah, you really pegged me, you bedraggled son of a gun, you.

P: Glad you at least acknowledged it this time.

XCIX

T: “I’m sick and tired of this situation, constantly running around and spitting out rhetoric at every person I see, able-bodied or otherwise. Who knows, if they can’t perform daring feats on a high wire, that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to recruit that kind of talent.”

R: “What the hell are you yammering about? Tightrope walking?”

T: “Yes, tightrope walking. Some consider it to be vastly more important than the entire field of biology, you know.”

R: “Are you referring to the French family of wire walkers?”

T: “Well, they’re definitely included, but they’re certainly not the only ones who find the art of high-octane balancing to be more important than life itself. Believe me, there are a lot of them out there.”

R: “If by ‘a lot’ you mean a couple of dozen, then I’m sure you’re correct. Don’t go making this into a whole thing just to show how much you like tightrope walking–no, scratch that, spectating while others walk the tightrope.”

T: “A ‘whole thing’, you say?”

R: “Yes, hijacking the conversation to give you the upper hand, or what you think happens to be the upper hand, when in actuality you’re just yammering about something that probably came up in a dream, and you can’t tell the difference between dreaming and waking anymore. I mean, I haven’t seen you running around in years.”

T: “Maybe this did come to me in a dream. So what? Surely you’re not discounting the importance of dreams and their power to influence the waking world. I don’t have any examples of this, but I instinctively know that some of the best minds of all time made serious breakthroughs after having dreams and applying them to their lives.”

R: “Yeah, that’s how the periodic table was developed by Mendeleev. I happen to know that you’re not one of the best minds of all time, sorry to day. Just stick to your day job.”

T: “What an original witticism. Can you at least admit that you’re not much of a genius either? All you can seem to do is knock me down when I try to explore new scenarios.”

R: “Yeah, stupid scenarios.”

LXIII

The following text will constitute post number 900 since Wharved’s inception just over 6 years ago. I’m very proud of this number! While it’s not quite 1,000, it’s still a whopper, and serves as a boon to my self-confidence as a poet and writer of absurdity. Now that I have this little intro out of the way, please enjoy something completely different.

———-

O: “Skipping right through to the meat of the matter, all I can see is a gaggle of swans just floating and honking while we’re trying to enjoy a leisurely lunch and put all of our animosity behind us once and for all. Can’t Mother Nature take the hint that we don’t need comic relief at this point in time?”

V: “Swans don’t form a gaggle, they form a bevy. I’m not quite sure how I know that, must have been one of those things I picked up along the way, definitely before I ever met you. Now, I appreciate your willingness to bury the hatchet with me, but there are still several things that need to be put out in the open before we can reach any kind of closure.”

O: “I have nothing to hide from you–you know about all the skeletons in my closet. That’s one of the benefits of being a blabbermouth, I blurt out my deepest, darkest secrets without any real encouragement at all.”

V: “I’m still on the fence about that particular trait of yours. There have been plenty of moments I wish you’d never initiated with me, and I could have lived without knowing some of the stuff you’ve blathered on about. I mean, why should I care about your crippling fear of snowmen? We live in southern California, you’re going to be just fine, even if you still haven’t fully unpacked why the phobia developed in the first place.”

O: “Snowpeople. They don’t have to be male to scare the living shit out of me, though Frosty definitely takes the cake. I remember a childhood in Wisconsin, where the Winters were WINTERS, none of this namby pamby temperate climate nonsense. But I must have blocked the specific memories that planted the fear in my psyche. I still don’t know how something as inane as a person made of snow could frighten anybody so much, but I’m sure my therapist and I will figure it out before too long.”

V: “You and your therapist have much bigger fish to fry than that, which leads me to your intolerance for dog walkers. Surely you understand that they’re just normal people who need to earn a living, and not the dog-fetishizing monsters you make them out to be. Are you ever going to get a dog, anyway? This hatred may never actually impact your life directly; I doubt you even care enough about dogs to do anything about a real live dognapping psychopath. I’m sure there’s at least one running around out there, which isn’t good for your mental health. Nothing would please me more than to inform you that you’re getting all worked up over nothing, but I’m a very bad liar.”

O: “You know, I’ve made a lot of progress on the dog walker front. You’re absolutely correct about me never owning one of those slobbery beasts, I can’t stand their constant need for attention and complete dependence on their owners. In fact, I’m starting to think that I don’t give a rat’s ass if a conniving dog walker kidnaps one of their clients and has a field day doing whatever perverted thing they so choose. We live in a free country after all, and those dog owners knew what they were getting themselves into when they agreed to pay a total stranger to enter their home. Anyway, don’t pretend that you’re any better than me–you have your share of laughable weaknesses that I wasn’t going to bring up, but since you insist on bringing up my foibles, I don’t feel the need to restrain myself anymore. How about I start with your need to have correct change for every purchase you make? You can’t just use a debit card like a sane person? You’d rather have a pocket of bills and coins at all times? Talk about obsession.”

V: “Yeah yeah, whatever. Don’t come crying to me when your bank account is compromised by someone who stole your debit card information and took an impromptu trip to Cancun.”

O: “That’s what fraud protection is for, dummy. Whatever, I know we’re just avoiding the inevitable here. Why don’t we just air our real grievances–here and now–like adults?”

V: “That’s the most sensible thing you’ve said since we got here. Hey! Swans! Shut the hell up for a minute! Jesus, they really are starting to annoy me.”

O: “Oh, so now they’re too much for you. I suppose you’ll want to move to a swan-less location now.”

V: “Well, when we’re done eating our sandwiches. I want those damn birds to envy our meals.”

O: “Yeah, that makes sense.”