Hearts on Fire / Cut Copy

Here is my summer jam for 08. I recently saw them live (merci, C-Dawg!) and they completely won over both me and The Moroccan, along with hordes of jumping Québécois. They're like having prime-of-their-career NewOrder back again, making new music. Also, the video is cute, and has the first use of a growing puppy to denote passing time I've seen. Puppies are the new cigarettes!

Apartment 3-G Fan Fiction

Part of the reason why I decided to belatedly hop onto the weblogwagon like this is to heal a schism I inadvertently created when I chose to post under two different handles in my interwebventures. At Josh Fruhlinger's wonderful Comics Curmudgeon site, I created a persona under a name specific to the comics world and have posted more disquisitions, attempted witticisms, and, yes, forays into fan fiction there than I care to admit to even myself.

I personally prefer the Japanese term for works of this kind,
yaoi, because of its etymology as an abbreviation for yama-nashi, ochi-nashi, imi-nashi, or no climax, no payoff, no meaning. And indeed, I like to think of these fictions as snapshots or portions of invisible, parallel stories that array around an original work every time it is read. Another way to think of them, I suppose, is as slashes cut into the seamless surface of the text, openings that paradoxically provide possibilities for suturing together characters the text's uncut surface holds apart.

It therefore seems appropriate that these stories in both Japan and elsewhere so often take the form of dramatizations of homosexual desire, their essential meaninglessness as independent works attesting to their status as instantiations of what Judith Butler has termed the "non-narrativizable" desire produced as an effect of the necessary disavowals that prop up heteronormative romance.

But enough chit-chat. Below is a supplemental wound I cut into Apartment 3-G, a meaningless snapshot of the invisible romance between two tertiary characters, Lu Ann's drug-addicted boyfriend, Alan, and Margo's harried assistant, Sam. Enjoy.

Big Dog

Sam looked up. It was eight o’clock already. Where was he? He’d said he’d be back from the gallery by six, and now look: the paella was well past cold and had congealed into something resembling the yellow goo Alan once joked that Lu Ann’s head must be filled with that time he tried to make pineapple upside-down cake and ended up cooking it on preheat. The idea that the cloud of lemony fiberglass filaments encircling Lu Ann’s addled noggin sprouted out of a grainy, gelatinous mass and slid through a series of tiny holes in her skull brought a chuckle to Sam’s lips now just as it had then, but this time it was followed by a vexed sigh. Where was he?

A rattling at the door announced the answer. Alan seemed to be playing with the key in the lock like he sometimes did, getting lost in the metallic music of the latch’s inner workings: click click click! Sam walked over and relieved the door from being worried like a chew toy. Alan looked up from the key in his hand with a beguilingly guileless grin plastered across his face. “You changed your ha-ir,” he drawled, his other hand reaching up to touch it. Sam ducked out of his reach.

“You know it was Margo’s idea. I told you when she made me.”
“But I didn’t think you’d actually do it!”
“She said she wanted an assistant that represented the brand.”
“And what Marmaduke wants, Marmaduke gets.”
Sam had to smile at that. “She is the Big Dog.”
“You should have heard her at the gallery today with Eric. It was less Marmaduke, more Marmite.”
“Marmite? That’s a new one.”
“You know what they say about Marmite.”
“Only Brits like it?”
Alan pawed idly at the paella, his eyes slightly unfocused and a smile still curling the corners of his mouth. “Mmm-hmm.”
“I didn’t know Eric was British.”
“He’s not.”
“Is anyone Margo knows from England?”
Alan looked up at Sam. “No.”
Sam laughed, then gestured at the paella. “You’re too late for that, you know. Once it goes, it goes.”
“That’s okay, I’m not hungry.”
“You ate already? I told you I’d be making this for you!”
The smile smudging Alan’s features finally disappeared, and he walked over to cradle Sam’s newly blackened head in his hands, “No, babe, I’m just not hungry. I promise I’ll make it up to you.”
Sam leaned into Alan’s palm but kept his gaze steady on Alan. “What did you tell Lu Ann?”
Alan snorted. “That I’d be working on my own paintings tonight. Not that it matters, she’ll just forget.”
“It’s not easy using a goldfish as a beard.”
Alan shuddered theatrically. “Clammy. And it keeps slipping off.”
“Well, just make sure Tommie believes it. Did she hear you?”
“I think so. It’s hard to tell where she is, even when she’s right beside you.”
Now it was Sam’s turn for theatrics. “Oh my God, is she here right now?” he squealed, peering under the kitchen table.
“Dude, you know no matter where you look, you’ll always end up finding her in the closet.”
Chuckling, Sam straightened up and drew Alan into his arms. “I missed you.”
“You just saw me on Monday, mushmouth.”
“I mean…before. You were gone too long.”
Something shifted behind Alan’s features, like fingers brushing across his face from the inside. “I was fucked up. I told you before. You wouldn’t have wanted to be with me then.”
“I know. I just…”
“Besides, you were with that cowboy asshole…”
“Hey, Blaze is a nice guy!”
Alan pulled away from Sam and headed into the bedroom, calling over his shoulder, “So why aren’t you still with him?”
“Nice only goes so far.”
Alan turned, grinning, “Somebody’s been hanging around too much with a certain Big Dog, it sounds like.”

Sam started barking, and ran into the bedroom to tackle Alan, pinning him down on the bed. Alan twisted his body beneath him, as if convulsing. A sudden mental picture of Lu Ann’s body, sprawled across the studio floor and haloed in blood, just as Alan had described it to him, sprang unbidden to his mind. Sam shook his head to clear it, still pretending to be a Big Dog. It was supposed to have been a quiet exit for her, a final step into the dreamland where she already seemed to live half her life – that’s why he’d told Blaze the studio had passed the inspection, that’s why he’d planted the seed in Alan’s head to let her use it. He hadn’t counted on Alan coming back so soon, or him discovering her….

Well, we all have our secrets, he reflected as he unbuttoned Alan’s dress shirt and pretended not to notice the little bloodstain on the inner part of the left sleeve. Sam decided not to ask whether Alan had asked for the advance yet, or what happened to last month’s paycheck. He decided to be the Big Dog for now, and just enjoy what bones came his way. Sam growled as he unbuttoned Alan’s fly.

Sweet Dreams

Inaugurations demand ceremonies. What better way to begin this foolish endeavor than to submit to "posterity" the story I wrote during a commenter-run "short-burst" literary contest that took place in a now-deleted secret room within the Gawker empire? The final lines were presented by instigator AndSheSaid as bait inspiration.

Sweet Dreams

The slow song's fading chords melted into the night like caramel into coffee, as did our dancing: our arms dropped slowly to our sides and our heads swiveled in unison to focus on the flower-festooned mic stand where there now stood a man with a balaclava pulled over his head that punctuated his white tuxedo like a period on a page. His bowtie was green as a mint.

We all knew what was coming, yet it still felt like a surprise when it did. This meniscus between the preamble and the wedding party was where the power of the ceremony coiled, still and quivering, waiting for the rush of descent. The eyes of the tuxedoed man surveyed the crowd as if from a haunted portrait, rimmed by margins of flesh that shone a ghastly white against the edges of the balaclava's eyeholes. No one dared to meet their lighthouse stare, except the bride, who picked absently at her corsage; she could afford her nonchalance, as she and her pale groom were the only ones who were safe, at least tonight.

It was on their third pass that the roving eyes of the man at the mic stand finally stopped, snagging on a little boy who tried, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to hide behind his mother's spangled skirt. The sound of the man clearing his throat into the mic cut through the silence like the rev of a chainsaw, and the crowd flinched reflexively in unison. "That one," said the man, his voice more tired and his enunciation more casual than anyone expected, and his hand rose to point at the little boy. The mother in the spangled skirt began to weep, but silently, and she pulled her boy into a short but fierce embrace before pushing him gently toward the stage.

It was an odd sensation to relax and fill with dread simultaneously, but after a few weddings, we'd all grown used to it. As the pulley system hoisted the boy by the ankles to dangle him headfirst above the punchbowl, the creaking of the ropes mingled with the rustling of the crowd as we shifted our weight and exhaled, diffusing tension and bracing ourselves in one collective movement. Some of the more seasoned of us wondered if the tuxedoed man was getting old or lazy; this was the third child in a row he'd chosen. The faint but still audible groans emanating from beneath the balaclava as the boy jerked higher and higher told of tightened tendons, gnarled joints, seizing shoulders. Perhaps by next year, it would be a more hale and hearty frame beneath the ice cream cloth and licorice shroud; perhaps it would again be time for adults to shiver like the children did at the sound of wedding bells.

But not yet: with a practiced motion, the blade cut cleanly almost to the hinge of the boy's elfin jaw, and soon there was enough punch to go around. Chalices were passed from hand to hand, and everyone drank deep - even the mother, in her grief, partook, as if giving her son a last sweet kiss. Before long it was time for the bride and groom to receive their due and blessing, crimson crosses painted on their foreheads, a shared toast that they themselves had written.

"Sweet dreams," said the groom as he tipped the still warm fluid into his beloved's mouth.

"Are made of this," finished the bride after swallowing, holding a cup of her own to her husband's lips.

It was their song, after all.

Still, the first half of the wedding was more like a funeral. But then, as people drank more, the bride ended up dry humping the hell out of the groom as well as a few other guests, and soon she was walking around with her pants down to her knees; as always, once the ceremony was over, things got a bit more interesting.