Imagine an indistinct corner of America, like a scarecrow in a line up, it's pretty much all the same straw. Light a match, pull up a chair. Nothing more terrifying than knowing that deep down you always want to stick around for the fire. Why not? We're a 'show me what you got' nation of half hearted nobodies. It's kind of our thing. Gawking. Foaming at the mouth. Over-involving ourselves in everything.
Enough already. Let's start the story. The story you've all been waiting for. It involves a murder, betrayal, diner's with back doors that lead into a room with a great big oozing wound on the floor, a pit, see, an endless goddamn thing, what's it, 'an abnormality', Ruth says, only she leaves off half the letters. There's no sex but you can be assured everyone's thinking of it, except maybe for Fred, the cook, who's all mumbles and numb from the war. The war in the Brooklyn Navy yards, with his old man and his stuffed dog and black and white tv set sitting on a crate playing cards with the wind. Yeah, Fred, don't care for sex. He's laying down, whatcha call it, strategy, in his head. He must find a way to steal the old man's dog. The fate of large things rests on it.
On this particular night, through a heavy windstorm that forces you to really smell the city, a large mumblin bumblin man shuffles down the sidewalk with all the grace of a turtle. Shuffles, clock it, 10 minutes later, same block, as to give you an idea of the turtleness of this man, past a woman in a wheelchair on the corner of Bedford Ave screeching at the cars. He just got done killing a man. We know this, because I, a most unreliable narrator, am telling you; this is a man who has most definitely killed someone. Even Minky, the woman in the wheelchair, that's her name, in case you were wondering, even she can smell it on him.
'Say, guy, who you kill, come out with it?'
'You, in a minute, if you don't mind your own.'
'Haha, what I got to own pal, this ain't even my wheelchair, get fucked
'Tried, but it don't work no more.'
'Aww, guys' a killer and a comedian, everyone in this goddamn city is so full of personality. It's overrated. We eat, we fuck, we die. The end. Who has time for personality? haha.'
'Ok, ok, I'm with it, but buzz off me now, will ya.'
With this, our large man turns the corner, walks into the Diner and sits down at the nearest booth.
'What'll it be fella?' It's Ruth, remember Ruth, only knows half the alphabet, that's the one. It's her asking our man what'll it be. I hope you didn't think this was, what do you call it, a linear narrative. I like to move in and out of the story, mostly out, cause that's where the action is. Fucking stories are dead matter. So why tell em, right? Because how else are we gonna feel superior to people who'd rather be watching tv?
Anyway, like I was saying, Rita's asking what it'll be.
'What's good?' asks our man.
'Here, nothing. But why don't I just get you some coffee and you can ease your way into it.'
Frank howls from the kitchen suddenly.
'the goddamn wound on the floor is getting bigger, it's spewing black goo all over the grill, goddamn it!'
The rumblin' fumblin' bumblin' man gets up and walks towards the wall in back. He knocks on a painting someone's wife must have painted and sold on the corner for booze money and the wall opens up and swallows our guy whole. Rita returns with the coffee; 'hey, where'd that big turtle lookin fella go?'
The wind lashes hard against the place, a dark no good kinda wind, a portend. Rita's been on for two shifts, plus two from the night before, must be imagining customers now. And that goddamn floor wound keeps getting bigger. Pretty soon it's gonna swallow the place. It's like you can't catch a break but you can always catch a case. Fucking city is a trap, if you don't fall right into it sooner or later you're gonna get pushed.
'I wish someone would.'
'Would what?' asks Frank, battling the void in the kitchen.
'Never mind, you wouldn't understand Frank.' Fuck is it with people thinkin he don't know what things are like, Frank thinks to hisself. He's trying to save the world by stealing a stuffed dog from the Navy yards. Clearly only a man who knows where it's at, a goddamn stealth warrior, could pull anything out from under his old man. Don't understand! psfhh. He understands too much.
Imagine, in this indistinct corner of America, in a small Polish diner with a gaping wound in the floor, where a bumblin, tutt tutt turtle lookin murderer disappears into a wall, is where God decided the story should begin. Allow me to introduce myself. I am The One and Only. And this is how things really fuckin got started in the beginning.
For I so loved the world. And this is how shit got kickin.
James Diaz is mostly a poet who every now and again dabbles in stories. They edit Anti-Heroin Chic and live in farm country New York. Their most recent work can be found in Bear Creek Gazette, Misery Tourism, Cobra Milk, and Rust + Moth.