Dreamscape

By Nicholas Becher

These are the relevant details:

-at three a.m. there will be a hissing sound outside the living room window;

-when the contrast is adjusted in a photograph of leaves and branches from below, they will begin to take the form of galaxies and nebula in black and white;

-the swamp hug of Florida dawn is a mother’s bosom to the barfly;

-somebody decided there are right ways and wrong ways;

—that same person invented the list;

-the sister will never call first as it is the job of the brother to keep in touch – after all, his life is easier;

-a beach parking lot in Hawai’i Kai is swarmed by dozens of feral cats at night, the thin Pacific twilight so clear it magnifies the moonbeams into silver pinholes frozen at the crux of their stalking feline gaze;

-inside of the brother and sister’s blood-cells are smaller and smaller and smaller moving pieces that compress into flattened layers of electricity, sparking sideways inward and outward into a new universe that births new galaxies that birth new solar systems that birth new earths that birth new brothers and new sisters;

—they hear echoes of this infinite loop, but only the feedback (they call it ‘love’);

-in the future, projection of a writer’s neuroses into her/his fiction will be a technique often frowned upon in bougie academic circles;

-the sister weeps into pillows at a young age before falling into a relentless sleep, she dreams of snake scales wrapping and sliding around her throat and when she wakes she can’t breathe until the snake disappears;

-caught beneath the mangroves, a body will slowly decompose and deliquesce for months before a Florida State Patrolman pulls the waterlogged cadaver through muck-soaked roots;

-in Suburban Humdrumia, lives are camera lenses turned in on themselves, mundanity packed so full of meaning and purpose and truth that the drones rejoice: “All Hail Netflix!”;

—this American God is mythologized, idolized, worshipped vehemently by a cult of leathercouched plebeians, bellies packed full of technopasta and digitacos while murder and rape binge-normalize in Ultra High Definition 8K 7680 x 4320 pixels, boasting 16 times the resolution of a normal 1080p HD television;

-the sister’s bedsheets savagely sponged her roofied sweat while she lay helplessly beneath a face that warped in and out of monstrosity;

—she calls these bedsheets the demon’s bath-towels and keeps them folded and locked in a chest in her basement;

-the father taught the sister to hide a hammer in the crack between her mattress and the bed frame;

-when they were children the brother and sister worshipped the same God on Christmas and Easter, but the brother’s relationship with God was slowly sexualized by an absent mother-figure;

—the brother prayed to a blind woman in the clouds that could control the ocean waves and would often lose control of the tide when she made love;

-the Honolulu National Airport is primarily outdoors but the Transportation Security Administration agents and Dunkin Donuts employees and Lei Weavers must pass in and out of the security terminal to spend 10 minutes in a smoking pit where they will dream about all the airplanes they will never board and all the landlocked lives they will never live.

These are lyrics:

“Fuck-Piss” by The Ratfucks

What’s that smell?
It’s The Ratfucks.
Fucking and pissing
Down the elevator shaft-fucks.
Hey motherfuckers
You’re all full of piss.
Hey cocksuckers
You’re all full of fucks.
Fuck. Piss.
Piss. Fuck.

 

These are people:

-Annabelle started her fall into a heroin addiction after years of quitting and restarting regular cannabis usage. She believed, however, that nicotine was her biggest vice despite smoking only two cigarettes a week;

-Nate, a CIA Drone Pilot, is now married to a Filipina woman nearly 10 years his senior, whom he met on a business-related trip to Hawai’i. The first thing he thought when his plane touched the tarmac was “I wonder if they have Waffle House here”;

They don’t.

-Sarah changed her name from its Polynesian roots after gaining US citizenship and fame, feeling pressure from her publicist to be more marketable to a white audience;

-Phillip was an unemployed astronomer making money as a freelance handyman. His wife was murdered in 1985 purchasing a pack of Lucky Strikes at a Circle-K in Jupiter, Florida. His children are twins and were buckled into their carseats when they heard the gunshots;

-Hezekiah toured with a punk band from 2003 to 2006. On a drug-induced hallucinatory trip, he convinced himself that he was actually a renowned essayist from the future whose stories often took the form of lists.

 

This is a suicide note:

There’s a sickness I’ve been fighting off. A confusion of language and syntax. I’m cloudy. I’m alone. How many times will I write those words before I know what they mean? The challenge isn’t finding love, it’s detaching from the addiction to loneliness. I befriended that feeling some time ago, maybe in an attempt to prove that I was better than I used to be. See, we spend our time as scientists trying to stave off abstractions. Realistically my ‘mind’ is an abstraction. All words are an abstraction. The mind is not a singular apparatus. The brain, maybe. But the mind is a complicated abstract. It isn’t really mine. Yet it defines me. It is the most identifiable piece of me. Because it orders my language. My words. It organizes itself and filters. But it is outside of me. The brain – interior. The mind – exterior. It isn’t mine at all. ‘I’ am just skin and bones and muscle and tissue. ‘I’ am made of tangible matter. ‘I’ am a physical object. ‘I’ am made of physical pieces that can be extracted and held in your hand to drip the blue blood until it oxygenates to redness. But you cannot hold my mind. It is intangible. That which I am defined by – my emotions and language that has made ‘me’ – all intangible. Non-physical. So I am an intangible being. But I am also here. These words are here. On this page. I am duplicitous by nature. I am an idea and a body. I am the matrix of myself. A larger apparatus. A thinking and non-thinking presence in a thinking and non-thinking world. So I lie and I think. And this makes me human.

-P.P.

This is a conversation:

“Tantalus?”

“Once you get to the top, I’m telling you babe – a sunrise that will make your dick hard.”

“Better than Stairway?”

“Well no. Nothing is better than Stairway. But that’s a commitment. 4,000 fucking stairs? Your legs are jelly for a week afterward. And half of it isn’t even stairs, just metal slabs or two by fours.”

“It’s worth it, though. I mean I fucking cried when the sun came up. I thought there were fingers stretching through the clouds. Holding us up over the whole island. And on the way up in the twilight, I never felt so close to space. Like I could step out right on to the moon.”

“Did you see they’re ripping up the Catwalk?”

“Why?”

“A girl killed herself up there. But people talk.”

“On purpose?”

“People talk on purpose, yeah babe.”

“No I mean did she kill herself on purpose?”

“Oh. Probably. That’s the place to do it. Walk right off the edge of the world. Let the ocean eat you up.”

“When we get back I want to go up there again and check. That’s my spot. Five minutes from my house. And at night there are no guards.”

“Why is everything off-limits in Hawaii?”

“Because of assholes like me who try to pretend they aren’t tourists.”

“…”

“Set him down here and open the trunk.”

“…”

“Jesus, this motherfucker is heavy for a junkie that never eats.”

“No kidding. God my back is going to be so sore tomorrow.”

“…”

“You’re going to have to break his leg.”

“I think I can get him in.”

“Knees don’t bend that way, sweetheart. He isn’t going to fit. Just break his leg.”

“He’ll fit.”

“I’m telling you, just break his leg.”

“It’ll splatter shit all over me.”

“Who cares? Your shirt’s soaked in sweat and blood already. It’s not going to make much of a difference.”

“But my pants. Do you know how hard it is to find pants that fit right as a short dude?”

“Will you just smack his goddamn leg with the hammer so we can get out of here?”

“What, you don’t like Florida?”

“It’s muggy. There are fucking gnats inside my eyeballs. It smells like a watery fart. Not to mention the sprinklers. No I don’t like Florida. Why do you think…”

“Alright give me the hammer.”

“…”

“…”

“Sorry about your pants, babe.”

These are less relevant details:

-the brother was in a tree at the age of ten reaching outward to loose a Badminton Birdie from a horizontal branch when his weight shifted against a rotted limb, sending him plummeting face first to the blacktop of his neighbor’s driveway;

—the street name is Bennington;

—a psychologist will tell the brother later in his life that this fall was the source of his obsession with television, attributed to a subtle yet all-consuming fear of the natural world;

-for five minutes that last 100 billion years, Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) will trickle down the brainstem tunnel with feathered bristles, painting the nervous system kaleidoscopically into parallel universes where life takes the form of hollow, crystalline wraiths dancing around solar systems dangling like chandeliers from the ether;

-the hammer is a versatile tool and has been reshaped for a variety of jobs:

—the brick hammer has a chisel end to crack or shatter bricks into smaller pieces;

—the body mechanic’s hammer has a curved anvil known as a dolly to remove dents from automobile panels;

—the Lineman’s hammer is designed to drive lag-screws and bolts into utility or telephone poles;

—the Chasing hammer is used for shaping and remoulding metal jewelry;

—the Welder’s hammer has a coil-shaped spring-handle built for comfort and dissipation of heat;

—the ball-peen hammer is used to form the head of a rivet or reach into small crevices;

—the Tinner’s hammer is sharpened cross-peen and can complete a folded seam or set a rolled edge;

—the Prospector’s hammer has a head to break rocks apart and a pick to split them cleanly across pre-existing cracks;

—the drywall hammer has a hatchet-like tail to chisel out errant pieces of drywall, while the round-edged flat-head avoids extraneous nicks or dents in the fragile drywall surface;

—the sledgehammer is large and weighty, often used to drive wedges or for demolition;

—the Bushing hammer resembles an oversize meat tenderizer and is used primarily to add rough texture to stone;

-the appeal of island sunsets will fade gradually from a lifetime of overexposure;

-the barfly will inevitably seek out the syringes, the pill bottles, the prostitutes, the LSD, the spirit molecules, the bumps, the ridges, the sleeplessness, the fire, the fuel, the farce, the coffee-houses, the bloody noses, the track, the tables, the races, the rat poison, the nicotine, the noise, the rock, the roll, the drums of forever, the shattered glass, the slit wrists, and (most importantly) the partner to share it with;

-the sister will look out the window at the hissing snakes which have taken the form of an in-ground automatic sprinkler system set to a three a.m. timer;

This is a poem:

Wharf
I daydream across a sunken harbor on Oahu
In a sailor’s tavern wreaking of dead fish
Waiting for a brunette waitress to finish reading a poem of mine,
And I see the track-marks in the varicose veins
Of a dirty, drunken seaman. His forehead presses
To the rim of a bottle of Jameson.
In the fall, he weeps without tears
As The Wailers play through the jukebox.
Out of the heroin-hole in his sun-soaked arm
Spews a puff of blue-green gas.
“This doesn’t even rhyme…” says the waitress,
Soaked up in the teal haze.

The sailor leaks out
Into every drowned corner of the wharf
Before he finds the nerve to plug his arm
With a spittle-soaked napkin wad.

He stands from his chair and stumbles toward me,
Whiskey-sweat seeping down over his swollen eyes.
“They don’t need pirates anymore, baby.
You best find a high bridge to jump from,
Before this all soaks up into that big, fiery sponge.”
He hobbles over the promenade to the water’s edge
And collapses on the rotting dock.
He breaks into laughter, and I smile again;
Every blue and green cloud sifted through a pirate’s guffaw.

– Mililani

 

This is a timeline:

-1969: A man and woman run into each other accidentally on a sidewalk in Wallkill, New York on their way to a free music festival;

-1971: The first PhD in Astronomy at the University of Florida is awarded;

-1975: A young girl from a distant island has an epileptic seizure waiting in line for the opening of Space Mountain in Disneyland;

-1976: The last batch of C-rationed Lucky Strike cigarettes is sent to Vietnam, long after a majority of US troops had withdrawn and returned home;

-1979: Underground operation codenamed Honeysuckle continues experimentation methods enlisted by Project MKUltra, Edgewood Arsenal, and Project 112 – CIA, U.S. Army Chemical Corps, and Department of Defense (respectively) trials enacted to test the unknown effects of over 250 chemical reagents on the human body;

-1983: Mount Kīlauea’s Puʻuʻ Ōʻō eruption begins on the island of Hawai’i;

-1984: A woman pregnant with twins is found in stable condition after being forcibly injected with LSD;

-1990: The Hubble Space Telescope is launched;

-1993: After taking a job at the Midwest Aerospace Research Institute in St. Louis, Missouri, astronomer Philip Peterson, PhD is left stranded and destitute as mass flooding obliterates his home and belongings;

-1994: Charles Bukowski dies of leukemia, his gravestone reads simply: “Don’t try”;

-1999: Despite public discontent, the world does not end;

-2007: North African terrorist Jamal Zougam, responsible for planning the Cercanías bombings in Madrid in 2004, is the survivor of a drone strike that obliterates half the population of his small African village;

-2008: Band members of the once slightly popular underground punk-rock group The Ratfucks attempt to contact their lead singer for a reunion tour but never hear back from him;

-2010: Blockbuster, a corporate-sized video rental service, goes bankrupt after years of battling neo-tech market trends such as live-streaming video services and DVD/BluRay by mail;

-2013: The 14th moon of Neptune, only 19 kilometers (12 miles) across, is photographed for the first time by the Hubble Space Telescope;

-2018: Esteemed poet laureate Sarah Peterson announces on her deathbed that she is ashamed of her decision to change her birth name, as well as adopting her husband’s surname, claiming that she was a perfect example of the colonized mind;

-2019: The FBI ends a nation-wide manhunt for an alleged serial killer after officials deem the brutal killings in Florida, Missouri, Hawai’i, Washington, and Colorado unrelated.

 

This is a dreamscape:

This is a recorded wiretap conversation from the CIA database:

“I guess I just wanted to call and say thank you for everything. For getting me into the hospital. And paying for rehab.”

“Of course, you’re family.”

“I never heard from him again. Do you think he’s alright?”

“Does it matter?”

“I hit him pretty hard.”

“Good.”

“…”

“What is this letter?”

“From mom.”

“Why?”

“Couldn’t say. Got it from dad’s desk.”

“That explains the blood drops.”

“Did you read it?”

“Not yet.”

“Read it now.”

“Out loud?”

“Sure.”

“‘To Phil, my learned astronomer:

I found this newspaper clipping in an old suitcase. It reminded me of you.

Lightning in Jupiter, FL strikes near three men who were installing lightning rods. One of them fell into the soot from 135 feet up and survived.

I hope your new life keeps you out of the storm.
I’ll kiss the twins for you;
Love always.’”

“…”

“…”

“So, what now?”

“Your phone is breaking up.”

“I said, what now?”

“Nate? Hello?”

“You could come out here. We’ve got room.”

“…”

“Belle?”

“…”

“…”

Here is the last thing:

This world… this world needs unfiltering. It needs a beer and a bump. It needs to be held and choked and loved. It needs a life-vest. It needs to be censored by the goddamn MPAA because it’s so perfectly fucking NC-17. This world needs cocaine syringes in the shaft of its dick. This world needs pain and wincing. It needs serendipity. And Jesus Christ it needs some Truth. This world, these silent whisper-ers begging in the dark, these Post-It-Noters reminding themselves of the smell of their sweat and time… This fucking world. Lost in the dust building up in the cracks of our floors. This world – siphoning out of us one tongue-flick at a time.

It gives us love. In our fingers.

It lets her go. Out of our fingers.

I want it to sing. I want a sequence. Fibbonachi. DNA. Perfect pitch.

But this world isn’t pentatonic. It isn’t a fucking punk-rock, dead-fuck. It isn’t a world that breaks your knuckles when you play. This isn’t a picked-locked, stolen-out-of-the-case, chrome-cunt-shimmer, black-glean, maple-glide Fender-Tele, swept out of and through your fingertips world.

No.

Fucking no.

Quiet.

Soft.

This world inhales.

This world holds it in.

This world breathes out into the Midwestern expanse. Into that weather-niche, plush prairie. Where the hills bleed drugs and roll octaves over my tongue… my tongue – bristled by the gold-wheat glitter. Where I lay backward, touch the grass to my neck and the Whitman-Leaves tickle my shoulders. Where tornado hums wind-pull my hair toward a grey-black funnel. Where God sloshes from my belly to my tonsils while I lay in my own piss. Where it walks into sparkling black and tears through the darkest of matter. And the Mississippi flows into its own soul and sings.

Where the blues were really born. Where music really makes you want to live.

Chuck Berry. Ike fucking Turner. Bennie Smith.

Where love looks through my ice-blue eyes, down my cracking-copper pipe throat, bubbles around my lungs and heart, and tells me she has been clean for three months now. That she came back to bring me with her.

And this world won’t let you live without one or the other.

The central purple-green-brown, mucked heartbeat of America. Or the musical chrysalis, unedited, ever-emerging from an unseen oversoul.

When I wanted her back. I wanted to remind her of the dancing colors behind our black curtain. Her eyes went blank. She says she can’t have the needle. She’s too far gone.

I offer her the potion until she sleeps.

I tie her off and she whimpers to the sounds inside of us.

This is the end.

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Nicholas Becher

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