the house. is a shack. the house is situated in the middle. dead middle. a house of no end. creepily creeping. of pasta. it has dilapidated over time but it still holds up. it's gray with white paneling charred on the sides. parked by a cruel rope a horse has broken free from its pole made slanty by a surreptitious Cotard. Codrus would have been the better rhyme, but that's not how life is. an airplane softly buzzes overhead. this house has one room, where the table lies. it looks like a grand oak table long and proud but it's a collegial round white circle upon further notice. nobody makes it this far to observe it deeply. the family is heaving breakfast as always. the woman is wearing a purple frock of silver fleurs-de-lis, her hair happily shaggy, curling by the dying sun. she smiles cos she has every right to smile genuine and warm and snickery. her two sons pull each other by the hair. as normal. Cotard, the good son, eyes dainty, the one who isn't done learning. and Codrus, Goofus, eyes droopy, the one who stopped learning miles ago. the tablecloth is the ol' dusty beige curtain. the mother tried to fight the light for awhile but said fuck it one day and just let it all in. there's a mirror, the only glass, with wireframe steamed with punk that hangs around the sidetop above the table, gothily reflecting. near the center of the table one candle with a fire base holds a wax flame atop alight. Fuerza is setting up the table, one fork, an alpha, one spoon, another alpha, and a knife that is a scissors of blades of two butter knives.
Fuerza: it's getting cold.
she pours the coffee into the orange juice. on the menu today: bread brilliantly toasted, eggs scrambled with creme fraiche folded into chives, salted duck egg, steak after a loss, and necktops on punji sticks. nachos and hot-buttered popcorn on the cob for the show. baby Imzhan injures his tiny peepee trying to open the pink bacon case then promptly falls asleep on the floor. black and tan for dessert.
Fuerza: welp, only for mama. *ah* delicious digestif. i deserve this. i'm your typical SAHM who drinks a little bit too much afternoon wine cooler with her Oprah.
Codrus: you can keep her. way too much hardship being both a black and a woman. how do they do it? is it meant to be this hard? extra hard? double hardship? pain pouring out perfecting pouts and popping pills. you can't think of the meaning, your brain is just a blob of fat, you have to feel the meaning.
Fuerza: don't make me look bad in front of the other mothers. you're bad enough. you illiterate ill-raised ingrate. you have to learn. you HAVE to learn. that's the way it is. a hater has to sleep some time, that's when i intrude, inside a dream quickly forgotten, in the mellow moments, and plant a quiet red flower that creeps up through the concrete. that's when you use your noodle, in the silence of sleep. now finish your noodles. slurp them up with a slurping sound to let me know you like them. noise, am i right? that's the way it is, son. it's kinda just perfect, though, huh?
Cotard: yes, mama. unfortunately netflix only has Jerry Springer, still waiting on those Oprah repeats to upload. perhaps in the next Eight Days of Eighties. i talked to that woman again on instagram. you know the one.
Codrus: leave her in the dust. not worth the trouble. never worth it. bitches, please. harlots only hatch headaches.
Cotard: well i didn't talk to her actually. i don't know what to do. we had been cordial. she wears a bison hat.
Codrus puts his hand-ears to his ear-sides.
Cotard: no, Street Fighter Bison. beautiful german lady. it was international women's day. i forgot to wish it to her. first. i used her space to wish it to you, Fuerza, with a yellow heart.
Fuerza: awwwww, like a good mijo. i'm sure she understood.
Cotard: she stoned me. answered everyone but me. i wished her HIWD but it might as well have been hi or Happy Iraq War Day, i wasn't gonna get a reply. we had been okay, now it's awkward. her next pic came up. tennis ball in bernard's mouth. i love tennis. i love dogs. do i unfollow? do i like to see if she's blocked me? do i ignore her for the rest of time? this indecision will haunt me and hit me, there is no moratorium, there'll just be peaceless silence all across the plains. i'll forever feel morbidly misaligned moving again.
Fuerza: wait, let me see that thing. i'm not mad about the gram, but i told you to stop playing these video games. they only lead to ruin. i don't get it. there's already magic all around. i see a plumber but i don't see the crack anywhere. never trust a man with pointy ears. and these carnal combat games with the ninjas where you can't see their faces. Mask. and i'm not talking about the video games. pleasure is a privilege. your home will be your graveyard. the only glass in this house is that mirror over there.
Codrus traps his brother in a rear naked choke and gives him an indian burn on his shoulder and a noogie on his noggin.
Codrus: yeah, bro, grams in moderation. bye mom! we can walk to school. we'll look both ways.
Fuerza: wait, mister! you, bad seed, i have a feeling i won't be seeing you for some time. give your mama a kiss on the mouth for old time's sake. you've got some detention in you, i can see it. finish your oatmeal and your errand before you go. i'd tell you to complete your homework but what's the point. you, prodigal son, since we are here on Bridge Street with those poor sealions barking on the pier, have some local cuisine, some french sourdough bread, some oysters kilpatrick, some green goddess dressing, that's my specialty. eat up and feed it to those poor barking animals out there. i hope their food supply hasn't been wiped out. my sea is somber. nature is in algal bloom. they just had to move faster, didn't they? couldn't wait for the next ice age. stupid man! i wonder about my decision sometimes.
Codrus (outer monologue): i love being around trash, being in it, within it. i love taking out the trash every morning. whenever i do it, i always feel empty inside, like all the nastiness has gone out of the house, it's clean and cleansed and colonic. come over here, i'll show you, give you the master tour. heh, watch your step. yeah. coming out here to the front porch. overcast today. so we just move the rocking chair here over to the side to reveal the hole in the loose plank there, see? we remove the plank to reveal the hole. this hole with all the hands coming out of it. the Wat Rong Khun hands. the hands are white and black and green. i don't mind the hands so much as the voices that get in your head. and dump and close the plank and done. voices over. what's that red? my hand is bleeding. huh, didn't notice. i love taking out the trash.
Fuerza: don't have time to wash, son, you're late.
the boys finish their oatmeal. the oatmeal is really gray moondust. Codrus gulps down the last of his milk by eating the cow out back. Cotard declines and becomes a vegan right then and there on the spot. Codrus bites into a bloody knife while eating his porridge, dug into the sand with viginti inscribed on its dulled sterling blade.
Cotard: i'm at a loss.
Fuerza: there's not enough money. you're gonna have to split that fin for hot lunch today.
Codrus: *Nelson haha* i'm gonna eat your lunch.
Fuerza: gotta fight, mijo. if you don't stand up to the bully in the family, the cycle never ends. but i love your animal spirit. so i've stashed some hidden goods in your backpack, some frozen custard in your thermos and fish sticks in your DuckTales lunchbox. i left a little motivational meme on a yellow postit, don't open it til lunch when you'll need a positive positing pickmeup. a mother's love works so much better than 5 Hour Energy. don't tell Codrus. Codrus, you'll forget your Duck Hunt lunchbox. now off you go, two, shuffle forth. i want to eat my oysters kilpatrick in peace.
Fuerza: either way, it's such a lovely name. oysters rockefeller? not so much.
Free Willy jumps onto the table and onto the silver platter.
Fuerza (softly and with a sly eye): did you bring your swim trunks for the pool, mijo? and extra towels?
Cotard (mouthing mutter): si, mama.
Codrus: bye mom! i feel like i'm in a cage in here.
Cotard: women's day. huh. oh wait, i forgot to do one thing.
Cotard reels himself around the table to find a baby girl toddling underneath on a damp towel. he kisses both her cheeks and hugs her, and the two kids are off. Fuerza picks up the two cats which have leaped onto the table and holds them with her arms outstretched so she can get a good look at their faces. and bodies.
Fuerza: i'm never gonna have grandkids. so you are my fur grandbabies.
she takes a sip of her coffee from her chipped All Hearts mug and licks the cats on their faces which the cats turn to decline with a meow-cry.
Fuerza gets up and checks herself out in the mirror. instead of showing her her image the mirror begins drawing a sketch of her in pencil. first the outline...
the boys reenter frantically.
Cotard: oh, almost forgot, it's picture day! need moar money.
Fuerza: what am i, a cash register? the spaghetti's getting cold and less thick. fuck me. shit that, i'll take your picture right here. gotta save you. gather round, tight circle, let's go.
Fuerza collects her two sons Cotard and Codrus around her wide arms and fits them into the frame. she holds up the camera with her outstretched hand in front of their three faces and gets in one good shot that just makes the portrait dimensions. the flash-lamp goes off in an explosion of smoke.
Fuerza: this is the very first photograph.
Codrus: not only that, it's the very first selfie.
Cotard: what's a selfie?
Fuerza: the end of introspection and the beginning of fear.
there is shitloads of traffic this morning. the boys have to do a bit of dodgy dodging and fancy footwork and pretty parkour to manuever past the sunday drivers. Codrus stays on the yellow dotted dividing line and lets all the cars crash into him.
Cotard (halfheartedly): don't do it. numbnuts. do you want to be an exquisite corpse?
Codrus: i dunno, i want to feel again. i still feel like i'm in a cage, even here.
Fuerza can be seen on her front porch, waving wildly hi and bye with a spaghetti spatula in her hands, one with a heart on each tong organization.
Fuerza: come on, i hear the bell ring. vamonos. i'll hold up the traffic. one flash of my tits and they're putty in my hand. just go. they know me at the faculty, tell them i signed the permission slip in spirit. facu.
Cotard: come on, bro, get up, i'll carry you. why is your bookbag so heavy?
Codrus: got my boombox in there.
the boys open a door and are at the property line of the schoolyard.
Cotard (sniffs): we're here.
Codrus (sniffs): and i'm still in my cage.
the asphalt is black and colored brightly in white chalk, divided up into hopscotch rectangles and squares. and would-be jocks. the kickball field is indistinguishable from a baseball diamond. the tetherball circles house a big harmful steel metal pole drilled down into its center with the yellow volleyballs' cruel ropes tightly bound all around the pole that all you see is light-red string. the morning announcements are lately made through the loudspeakers blaring all across the hilly area.
Cotard: you know, we always hear the announcements but we can never find where the school loudspeakers are located.
Codrus: it's magic, like Hogwarts.
a girl is shyly leaning against the brick handball wallcourt. Sid, Rumi, and Glidden are thumbing marbles at their circle. except it's not quite a circle.
Codrus (pushing Cotard): wait, hold up, i wanna scare them. i'm gonna hide in the bushes. imma b a pirate. watch this.
Codrus cuts himself on the serrated leaves of the overgrown ivies hanging out of the encircling chain-link fence of pentagons.
Cotard (Isabella singsong): what'cha doin'? are you guys having hot lunch today? i only got 5 dollars, can't get the supreme pizza.
Sid (face lights up): hi, my friend. i think it's enough for a chili dog. the price always goes up.
Glidden (face droops): not enough for a Chicago-style hot dog, though. i brought my sadbrownsack lunch today. i feel like such an outcast. i'm thinking of leaving. dying my hair pink.
Rumi (face drops): my mom made me two pieces of bread with spaghetti in the middle. and a note. awwww. i'll keep that private amongst the two of us.
Cotard: that reminds me, i forgot to thank my mom this morning.
Sid: you'll have another chance, my brother. oh look! (lights up) up in the sky! it's a bird! it's a missing plane! it's...........no, it's a bird, a green bird.
Codrus as the green bird flies around erratically and does a loop-de-loop perching himself on Cotard's shoulder. Codrus poofs back into a man, a boyman, flips Cotard over WWF wrestling-style and cradles Cotard in swaddling towels, tapping his nose, babying him with babytalk, and feeding him pruned prunes.
Codrus: mama said. what's up, guys? how's tricks how's tricks? ready for hot lunch at high noon? it's Wednesday. love Wednesdays. what d'y'all have for lunch? hey is that a circle or a pentagram?
Sid (droops): oh it's you. your head is big. your hat is too small.
Codrus (shoves Sid against the fence, following a pattern of marking): what'd you call me?! do you know who i am? who do you think you are? how dare you call me fat and stupid! (flips baseball cap backwards and turns the ring on his finger around) enter my ring. here's my finger in your eye. taste my gold.
Codrus shoots Sid's face. the other two are too scared to intervene so they go by the bystandard standard.
Codrus: look at that honey over there. that girl is prime meat. i'm gonna make her mine. i'm gonna smash that dime into pieces.
Sid (starts to cry): please don't be so coarse. my sensitive ears can't take it!
Codrus: awwww. should be. that girl is our future. without her, we are forced to become famous. are you jealous? did you want her for yourself? but you didn't have the words? didn't have the style? weren't a part of the world enough to be worldly? you imagined her as your future wife, your lady, your eighty, baking her pies and kissing her on the sill. and a little birdie would come and cover your hole. pathetic boy with your newfangled mini tv in your hand. that won't get you anywhere. are you still breathing?
Sid (struggling): yes, thanks to you. what do you want? everyone has a price. candy? gum? rummage through my rumpled pockets and in my socks, you can eat my whole load.
Codrus: not me. i can't be bought.
Sid: i'll trade you two mini KitKats for a Twix.
Codrus: bad deal, kid. Always Be Candying. always open with Whatchamacallit, close on nerds. you gotta know how to negotiate like me. gotta run your personal life like a business. i won't destroy you this time. you've got gumption, little man, think i'll keep you around, turn you. it's nice having someone around.
Sid: i refuse. j'accuse. i have my clique, get yours.
CLICK HERE, RIGHT HERE AT THIS LINK
Codrus steams back up, clenches his throat, and one-punches Sid through the wall. except Cotard saves Sid at the last minute as the handball wall crumbles in a heap of ashes and dirt brick. the girl luckily had since left, disappeared, never uttering a word, and was never heard from again.
Codrus: throw another one in the pile. *ah* i feel better.
Cotard: remember what mama said?
did you remember to forget?
no, i forgot to remember.
Codrus: i know, channel your rage positively. with music.
Codrus plops his heavy rainbow boombox in front of his captive audience, blows on the tape cassette, blows on the right tapedeck painted red and pushes PLAY.
CLICK HERE, RIGHT HERE AT THIS LINK
Codrus: what you think? how u like? just some fat beats i've been working on.
Cotard (chanting): remix! remix! remix! re...sorry.
Codrus: well, if you insist...
Codrus hurries up and flips over the cassette and flips to the left tapedeck, not painted.
CLICK HERE FOR THE B-SIDE, RIGHT HERE AT THIS LINK
Cotard: tuneful. you have us at a deficit. you have surpassed Mozart and Kanye. you are the Kubrick of painters, the Escobar of apostles.
Codrus: that is called music. see? forget those wenches, this is what gets us high. what's that in your hand, weird kid?
Rumi: my dice. i was saving them in my palm for later. my deadbeat dad gave them to me. i treasure them. i cherish the chance. as a surprise for the guys.
Codrus twirls his finger.
Codrus: look again. carefully this time. comb through the lines of your palm.
the two die have transformed into two pieces of the Stones.
Rumi: no thanks, man. i just say no.
Sid: i DARE to...
Codrus: yeah, yeah, we get it. (swallows the two rocks himself) it's the greatest things, you never have to think again, just take two and call me in the morning. i can lie back on this tin trash can, let my arms and legs dangle, and look up to the sky. zone out. fruit and veg. oh look, up in the sky! it's the green bird. what am i doing up there?
the Cowboy Bebop "Green Bird" song plays on the loudspeakers.
also on the loudspeakers:
Chris Rock: welcome to the Oscars! (and then Chris Rock walks off the stage and boycotts the rest of the show.)
the green bird lands on Codrus's gigantic head. Codrus has a starry look in his eyes and pets the bird's plumage.
Codrus: prettie birdie. i'm jealous. i can never get it as good as you, bro. mine is always a copy, yours always seems like a real animal. *pet pet pet stroke stroke stroke* so where did the Stones come from, anyway?
the bell rings. the hot-lunch truck lumbers its way into the schoolyard, busting its tire trying to get over the hump. it churns out that creaky racist ice-cream-truck song. the truck is adorned with bad bunting, truffles, and crosscountry miniflags. the sidedoors open and it's quite a spread: dogs, pizza, AND chicken! the last embers of sunlight bounce off the driver's bald head. a plume of smoke escapes from the other door window.
MEANWHILE, DURING LUNCH
Codrus (in Colonel Sanders twang): man oh man that chemistry is hard. did you get the fillup box? are you filling up?
the three would-be surfers are having their lunch together. but they're not eating any pizza. they are merely smelling the aroma from the truck. they manipulate the stink lines of the pizza wafting in the light summer breeze on this misty day and form three slices of invisible pizza which they eat.
the three bums: we've had our fill.
Codrus: you're eating air, brahs. hey bro, aren't you hot in that thing?
Cotard: i've grown comfortable in my coat, thank you. it's animal-free. i'm accustomed to it now. i smell the pizza, too. it's surprisingly plain. you didn't get the supreme?
the three bums: no, cheese pizza is the best. just cheese and bread. gooey and gentle. starch and simple. burning on the roof of your mouth where your voice is. everyone loves pizza. even vegans. especially vegans. you can smell the cheese. you smell the essence of it. it's like that old ditty goes, some folk music refrain i heard once before Codrus invented music:
the cheese stands alone
Cotard is drawing the smoke towards himself. he directs the smell lines from the truck oven to form a rainbow spinning wheel that turns into a spoke of cheese. it is real cheese, it's corporeal, he can hold it in his hand.
the three bums: how's the pizza taste?
Cotard: i'm tasting the pizza right now. but it's not a circle of pizza pi. i bite into it and i only taste the cheese. it's not pizza made of cheese, it's cheese. it tastes weird. foreign.
the three bums: lucky. at least you get to see it. we don't.
Cotard: not yet. you'll get there. maybe i'll die or something. what are you guys doing after school?
the three bums in unison: finding our loves!
Cotard (bashfully): girls?
Sid (blushes): in bed!
Rumi: i'm thinking of taking up surfing. there's a star i want to bank on.
Glidden: girls? i've never thought about that. not once. the galaxy is so full.
Cotard: you have all the space in the world.
everyone starts laughing uncontrollably for no reason and can't stop.
Codrus: what's so funny.
Wolf comes sloppily in.
Codrus: you look like you ate a dozen corndogs. none of that chili shit, just plain hot dog, liberal. and why were you absent yesterday? you were the scuttlebutt of this whole joke of a school.
Wolf: why are you guys still here? it's a half-day. my mom took me to In-N-Out Burger. got me some animal fries. i went back home and i watched Looney Tunes at 1PM. i never get to do that. they were so mysterious and awesome. then i got bored and came back here. nobody's in the house, my folks are at my little brother's teeball game and the place gets lonely and cavernous. i can't do spelling in spooky. look, here's a picture of my baby bro on my instagram.
Codrus: that's that baby with the raised fist. he's flicking the world off.
Wolf: nah, he's giving the world inspiration, hope, he's gesturing to them YOU CAN DO IT! scroll, scroll, stroll. look at that beautiful woman with her beautiful expression, her beautiful pizza-slice wedge-shaped mouth, her lips like a quacking frog, her eyes lovingly raised up to her sick black cat. that's the most beautiful picture i will ever see. i think it's great we're all connected. i go on suicide-prevention boards all the time. i cry when i see threads where no one is answering.
hello? is anybody there? i know it's a tuesday afternoon but i need to talk to someone. now. it's all a lie. i can't do this anymore. it's just words. there's no meaning. i don't feel well. for four weeks. roughest spell yet.
i make sure to answer. i think of their mother. i never leave a thread bare. always by a hair's breadth. by the skin of my teeth hidden by my bushy beard.
Codrus: yeah it's weird that a fifth-grader like you already has a full beard. have you heard the new Pablo? the new Baleen?
Wolf: love Baleen. i saved him from sacrificing himself to his sadness, killing his kin.
Codrus (low bellowing voice): no you didn't. he killed his kind. he didn't just suicide himself, he became a suicide bomber. you see it, don't you? you see his funeral playing out right now? his griefstricken mother veiled in patchy hexagonal black, morose mouth hidden, at the foot of the pew, unable to sit up? to die is one thing, but to bring shame to the family is eternal, to sow dishonor deadens the deity.
Wolf: how can you be so cruel? where's your soul?
Codrus: i'll trade you my thermos of klit liquor and my empty cornhusk for one of them things. my spaghetti comes with the egg on top. NBD. it's just another reality, an alternate dimension, one as real as the one you know.
Wolf: just because you can doesn't mean you should. that's mean, not meaning. i'm still human. this isn't a game, even though it's set up like a game.
Codrus: i've always wanted to master Go. ha ha. heh. heh heh. so where did the Stones come from?
Cotard: they came from you. your imagination.
Codrus (flustered): no, that can't be. no more tricks, facades, false doors. this is the REALITY! this is the ENDING!
Cotard: they come from where the wild things are. where they go. they are Calvinball, which we play at recess now instead of kickball. they are Mister Rogers. they are The X-Files mythology. they are Richard Thompson's Cul de Sac which i'm allowing him to finish now. i healed him. there is no justice. except in art. finish the art before helping the family. there is no room for forgiveness nor lost ideas. we are all at our core completionists. it's all made up.
Codrus (getting more and more heated): that can't be. after everything. it's a beautiful day in the culled n' sacked hood? every level up. every book. eating snakemeal. drinking every secret potion and using the excess as aftershave. eau de Ebert's comet. bitchin brews. every incantation. learning how to fight from Bruce Lee, Mugen, Jin, and Conor McGregor. secretly hating my mother to gain more eyesight.
Cotard: you need not insight, brother, but outsight.
Codrus: transform into the green bird! do it now! right now! i order you!
Cotard: if it keeps peace in the family, our house in order. i can't do it like mama's bird all big and yellow.
Codrus (smiles): where's your stash? under the bed? i've checked there a dozen and once times. never could i find it. i know you're a druggie like me. you're no better than me. you fool mom but you're my inspiration.
Cotard (as the bird singing): it's me, brother. all of me. i make the sign of the cross in my mind. i don't do drugs. i've never touched the Stones. don't have the stomach for it. got a weak stomach. a fat flabby stomach.
Codrus (falls back and hits his head on the surface of the moon): *scratches the top of his head* *scratches the back of his head* *on the blood bubble blister on the back of his neck* new blood. i'm barely able to search my neck now my head's so massive. all i see is my own head. the dome. not outside. i don't see the horizon. the stars are my eyes. i can't touch my spine.
you have to understand: all of this has been going on while Codrus is still cradling Cotard in his arms.
Codrus (looking up at the baby): what is the meaning?
Cotard kisses Codrus on the mouth.
Cotard (meekly): there is no meaning. that is the meaning.
Codrus starts to snicker to himself. it grows. it develops into a full-blown wicked guffaw. and he grows. Codrus closes his eyes and laughs and laughs and laughs and takes his two fists, clasps them together, and punches his stomach to laugh more. he doubles over in rision.
the circle is as tight as it will ever be.
there is no meaning that is the meaning
there is no Big Bang. Codrus is sitting in a pool of his own filth. he tries to sit up and fit himself into a bathtub. Codrus drinks of his own bathwater but the bathwater dissolves Codrus into sugar. there is no Big Bang. instead, Codrus's head explodes and fills the galaxy.
out of the white ash, Codrus emerges. Codrus is a baby.
and he cries.
Codrus cries for all of eternity. his nose fills with snot.
a pitiful yearning woeful cry full of pain and desperation and uncertainty, wanting a woman
wanting a mommy
unable ever to see the man
on the first eternity, he cries for all the injustices that were electrocuted away
on the second eternity, he fills all the rivers, streams and bogs, but not the lakes, with his tears. the new worlds are filled with his sadness. that is why water is always salty
on the third eternity, he moans and wails with the Thom Yorke falsetto
and on the fourth eternity, not the final one but the clinching one, he cries for the collective burden of being alive in an unfair universe, for every thing who has lived or will ever live, stuck in boxes, stuck in shitty childhoods, branded with skin, dying of darkness, chasing smart and sexy, riddled with unknown diseases, hollowed-out and hungry, fashion victims, crooning against culture, body-shapers and circular boxes, circle boxes where you store the latest hats that Codrus wants to try on. like a baby. a baby that fights to go forward, fights back. babysoft skin made rough by rite. the milk that becomes the lotion that becomes the comet. hardened work. man-u-all. the baby brought into a strange environment with no light to count on, no teacher to stay with. why? why? why? sobbing in space.
Codrus cries forever.
AND ON THE LOUDSPEAKERS, CLICK HERE, RIGHT HERE AT THIS LINK, THIS
Fin(n and Rey)