And Change grabs the mic from off of The Line's bloody ears in one last single desperate attempt to wrest control forever. he speaks into the earpiece as if signing his electric-chair-confession warrant.
And Change: FAM!!! IT'S ME!!! I WILL BE WITH YOU SOON!!!
The Line bullies his head into And Change's skinny stomach giving it an extra one-pack.
The Line: oh no, my fran, you had your shot. mine is more waddy and sticky. it shoots better. and now before i was so rudely interrupted, here are the schematics for the next hit. it's gonna be the big one we're running out of time. don't you want to stop running? the times they are a'changin' so rapidly you gotsta keep your head on a swivel. that's a sportscenter analogy. i played a little college hoop with Stephen A. Naismith Hawking.
And Change: you mean Robert Allen Zimmerman with a Z Thomas. see you just don't get me, nor us.
the rest of the crew are busy blowing their yellow vuvuzelas the four corners of the room as background noise.
The Line: WAKE UP!!! RISE FROM YOUR SLUMBER!!! all you who are deep underground writing and pontificating and screaming at a screen, be a scream queen. scream screen queen. use your ginger fingers to crawl out of your graves, untomb your tombstones and be a zombie of a different kind, be the fodder for freedom!!! i want the whole world on my team! Team World! Team Universe! Team Crystal Gems! i won't lie to your face like Pink Diamond, i'll tell you you're doomed like Peridot. think of me as the Onion.
The Line: fam once you receive your pertinent individual instructions on a sheet of lined yellow paper we are all to collectivism meet at out required stations. blow up this tape so it goes untraced Inspector Gadget-style. hell i've made it easy for you, simply place the folded-in tape in one of the many bombs i mailed to you in a blue-and-red white envelope. two birds and all that to impress the birds.
And Change: what? bombs?! are you a crazy man?
The Line: just smoke bombs, man, you gotta learn to relax more or you won't ever be successful at war. put on your happy face.
And Change has never heard a collective sound so loud. he is used to solitary quiet so he can think. he presses his thumbs into his eardrums like fleshy q-tips.
And Change: and for fuck sake chrissake be quiet, fool! you want the enemy to spot you?
The Line: i'm lookin' at the enemy. you're either with us or you're in the sunk dunk. this is bigger than your precious kid.
And Change: no it's not. it's exactly for my child. my kid is small. no my kid is big. i am proud of my kid.
The Line: everytime you open your knob you make me feel guilty. that i fucked when i should have breeded. i'd have an army by now.
amdist all the chaos And Change is barely able to hear the most imperceptible beep from his phone. in his backpocket. the phone the guys don't know about yet. it's as if it's a sound only a dog at a specific spot in a certain time can hear.
And Change slowly raises the phone from his pocket to the perch of his puffy cheek.
And Change: hehe, just my lady, fellas.
the crew signals and returns to their determined delinquency.
it's an urgent worm. the message has gotten through and affected all of the systems in the half-house. but it's only lighting up to warn And Change here at this screen of his personal phone. the flashing icon used is a big instagram wave. ocean wave. with the comment:
I KNOW ABOUT YOU/I LIKE YOU/I KNOW ABOUT ALL OF YOU/THE LINE'S WOMAN IS HIS AUNT/I KNOW WHERE SHE LIVES/I'M PATCHING HER THROUGH TO YOU NOW/YOU DO THE REST/THERE IS ONLY SO MUCH I CAN DO/I AM NOT YOU/I LIKE YOUR QUICK-THINKING REMINDS ME OF MY LONG-THINKING/SHE'S ON THE LINE
And Change twiddles his thumbs to type out: i hope i have enough time to tell you...
And Change: drat. i should've lead with thank you
And Change: uh, we're friends, right? is your aunt's name Fran?
The Line is too busy wiping his teeth in front of the monitor with his finger.
And Change: right, gotcha.
The Line's twitter blows up. he picks up his phone from his frontpocket.
The Line: Auntie N? shhhh! *whispers to himself in cupped hands* quiet! what are you babbling about? why are you in such wild hysterics? i can never hold a serious conversation with you, you're always spouting nonsenses. Scarecrow? what? you had a nightmare before you had your dream? what'd i tell ya about watching those horror movies before your bedtime at 4PM? you always thought Batman was sexy? you want to lick off his yellow belt wih your tongue? took you back to flashbacks to your halcyon childhood on the farm? the first time you bad memories about it? yes yes i know! i'll pick up the queen-sized lasagna tins and bed on the way! the fellas and i are recording right now you know my music is my life. no, auntie, i'm not dating hookers anymore! okay, i'll be home soon, i'll take the first bus out. no i'm NOT mixing in the wrong crowd! bye.
The Line: damn it all, i need my twitter phone to be my burner phone. *non-extra-time voice* uh, cum'on crew, that was my lady, she's naked and wants it bad and on top of a large fan. she's already drunk all the milk that was delivered.
And Change: it's nice that your lady lets you stay with her. you're like the Eddie Murphy of the '20s.
The Line: *scowling* anyway. we'll settle things here later. you coulda been the first settlement. let's go, i can plan on the way to the bus i mean bust a move. you coulda been part of something big, bih. historic.
And Change: i prefer my spaces intimate. i got a message to record.
The Line ditches his homies the minute they reach the unlit busstop at night. under cover of his cowardice he hides in the bushes till the last bus train homes on his bright eyes. he slinks across the lined lines of the houses in a row, he's memorized this hood, this is where he peed in his first ice-cream cone. he makes it to the back way of an out-of-the-way late half-Victorian shanty with one pointy half-ivory pillar that wants so badly to be Gothic but is only Southern.
he climbs in through the webby window.
The Line: whaddaya want, auntie?
Auntie N is a towering figure tho she stands half her normal size due to the old-woman doubling-back on your stomach everyone goes through. she wears one gigantic gold-and-pewter hoop earring on her right ear which encircles her entire frame. her picture frames are of old farmers looking for dates, not wallpapered over, wallpapered under.
Auntie N: i nailed each and ev'ry one 'em. when you reach my age, you don't just fold inward, your mind folds inward and you contemplate your last words. heed me, sonny, i mean my son. stop ackin' da fool before your ass ends up on death row. the hood is the only row you know.
The Line: and my cornrows. i'm proud of those. did them myself.
Auntie N: shoulda been plowing the rows on farmer's row. a farmer's field is never far afield.
Auntie N: *pointing* now you listen good 'n ready, Constance. imma tug on your ear till you hear me and it hurts you!
The Line: Auntie N., i...
Auntie N: stop insulting me with that morbid moniker. guitar or unknown origin i don't CARE!!! imagines me all manner of nasty images. boy! my name is Netta. a tornado touched these lips. listen to me clearly. i do not debase myself the way you do every time your big nose breathes in all that air. i am a proud black woman, daughter of the South. i know what real pain is. and what it is not. there's grief and then there's grievance. i stood up and counted in Latin. married my Latin dancer. dancing taught me calculus and i formed my calculus. let no man identify me. joined the Civil Sevice and weaponized my civility, taught all those pointy-head kids how to survive in this world, fruitless, like any of your generation could ever conceive of such "cringey" concepts as fealty and sacrifice. you're the cohort cohort. i gained everything i ever earned, if a white man walkin' down the willowed street called me a name i gave him the look over my library glasses and that shut his quiet. stand up straight with my tigress sinews all red and chuck up my blood. once more unto the breach. like the look i'm giving you now. my yellow eyes are a well of depth so bottomless as to induce a flood in any man's eyes. i need not say a word, my hotstory history bespeakeths unto him like the very first Psalm. i don't run around in a brown costume like you lot do. go play in the parking lot some more.
The Line: aw, auntie...what are you watching? it's 3PM so it must be Judge Judy.
The Line is horrified to finna out........his aunt watches Fox News!!!
The Line: it can't be....auntie, what are you doing!....foxes aren't that cute...am i lone here?...and they say my generation has a problem with indoctrination....i used to think you were crazy cos you were old, but...
Auntie N: what? i'm a Republican. lifelong. i earned my money. i'm keeping every red cent. not givin' it away to no multilateral man!
The Line puts his entire fist in his mouth to muffle the scream. that leaves his eyes room to dart up to where he spots a strange-looking suspicious yellow-metal tin bucket atop the small oak telly set. Nigger Hair tobacco collectible. with a horrible image up front.
The Line: auntie! be straight for once in your life! be real! how did you get that tin? come to be in possession. did Holon leave this here as a housewarming gift in the present?
Auntie N: who? Oolong the pig? what you talkin' bout?
The Line: shit! they found us! fuck!
Auntie N: get outta my all-paid house with your gutter talk and tattoos. get a job, a real job, make something of yourself. and make something.
The Line: right away, ma'am. and i'm sorry for everything. you don't know me. i will cause you more grief than any of your forebears.
he slunks out the window and retrieves the long rifle skulkily hidden in the bushes.
at the airplane ride over there, President Bump is exhausted and takes up three seats.
Pence, with the white Superman curl: sir, it's time to choose your carrier.
Bump: Qantas, never crashed. oh, you mean Supreme Court Jurist? just watch Cory in the House. i dunno, SCOTUS sounds like a lady operation, or one of my bad dates where i end up upside-down on a stretcher. a dungeon stretcher. i gotta pick a dame for appearances, right? how bout Judge Judy?
Pence: she would be the first woman who had ever eaten out a man. and she hates your guts.
Bump: my sister the judge? here cum the judge, here cum the judge...
Pence: conflict of interest, she's not interested.
Bump: she's never been interesting. okay, fine, Aaron Judge even though he's being deported. sad. i wrestled his mother in a cage match. do i get my red sock now?
Pence: he's white, i think.
Bump: alright the judge from Night Court, he was always my favorite, he used magic to make decisions like i do.
Pence: sir, I hate to be the one to report this to you, but i'm afraid he's been aborted.
Bump falls back asleep, and at the NATO summit:
there's a huge gigantic plastic big balloon of Bump as a baby in a diaper with a safety pin and held by no strings like the British-humor mad psychedelic fractured version of our Macy's Parade. it lurches precariously close to being popped by Big Ben.
Bump has been sleeping this whole time. when he wakes up he can't rub his eyes............COS HE IS THIS VERY BLIMP!!! he is so exhausted he thinks he's still dreaming. but it's really him up there unable to move. he is too bleary-eyed to look out at the loch and forgets that he's claustrophobic.
Bump: i despise transatlantic travel. i am superstitious when it comes to flying over water. i get too tired, i miss everything. i want the gift of flight. i want to flight freely. granteth unto me! hear me up there?
Bump eventually makes it down to the ground as a man. he walks fingerly along the cobbled grills of the street. half-Monty Python walk, half-goose step.
he rounds the corner and is delighted in his eyes to find a balloon shoppe, an old red circus boxxe with gold grills missing its pull wheel. an old man with long gray strands overcrowding the city gutters climbs his nose out of the darkness below his scarecrow hat.
man: here, sonny, i know you like balloons. take this red one. last one. watch the string. wrap it around your hand. i know you like red, reminds you of your lost love. it's free.
Bump: expensive. thanks, strange old man. what are you signaling? the Ben of Clock? oh, that. that balloon up there was hysterical. that's what everyone says. heehee, like Robin with the baby hands. i don't care what nobody says, Teen Titans Go is a good show.
the man's hair makes a sound, the sound of water tricklin' down.
Bump makes his way into the Stadium of Ice Cream for the final of the World Cup.
Putin: did you make it up okay?
Bump: i hate climbing stairs. who's playing?
Putin, smiling: it's England vs....................a mystery team.
Messi, holding all the lots in his shaking praying hands: come on, come on, let it be Germany...
the other team comes out of the left field, 11 with 2 subs. they are all wearing robes with their hoods drawn over their heads. they reach the center of the FIFA Say No To Racism circle. they undo their robes, it's
the Thai boys all flash the peace sign to an uproarious reception, all the vuvuzelas fall silent and can only be played by rubbing the yellow circles of the horns up and down and left and right with a finger by the remaining Russian Buddhists in the vast country. a quiet chanting hum befalls the stadium.
Putin: the V-for-Victory sign.
after a quick push-up to get their bearings, the Thai boy soccer players erase all bad memories of their flooded-cave nightmare and concentrate on the soccer ball being passed around their weary psychologically-broken legs up and down and left and right.
Messi: how did you get out? i mean you can have my bicycle and my scuba snorkel when i go to Barbados. i mean we are so thankful to the gambling god...
the boys: we were stuck in that last nastily-narrow tunnel of rock with no way out. stoned. then we remembered our training. the only way to free ourselves was to contort our body as if we were doing the bicycle kick.
Tricky starts the scoring. he braces a splendid ball in a strike of pure class, footing the Beckham-bending aerial gem in the back of the net off a long penalty kick. cos he's Tricky.
Bump: but he looks white
the lads all pile on top of Tricky and he sustains two leg injuries which he has to be carried out of the game for later in extra time.
Thai boys: it's fate. our day today.
the spirited match on the pitch reaches a fever pitch. the extra time is so long and boring and yet filled with hushed-toned nailbiting tension. both teams kick the ball all around the park like little kids. finally the game reaches the penalty-kick shootout. it is tied 5-5 and it goes into golden-goal-penalty-ball overtime...
the last Thai boy rescued is chosen cos he has the most mettle and this is no pressure at all. he does the bicycle-kick from the spot with his tired leg and kicks it in.
Tricky can't go so the Thai boys win the World Cup!
Thai boy: i got the brace! and i need a brace!
Tricky trips over one of the boys but gets up and trips over himself to show good hospitality and English sportsmanship. they name him Jack Tripper in the English press which is a compliment. he removes the velcro and exchanges captain's armbands with the little kid.
Thai boy: mister, i, uh...without soccer, we wouldn't be here today. without soccer, uh, football?
the American VAR USM referee in the booth, bowing his head and making a signal with his face: it's okay, son. England was all i had, but I've come to realize today that you boys are what i have, too, and that is more important.
Thai life-coach: uh, Federer? what are you doing here on this green field?
Federer: doing Nadal's hair.
Marine: i don't wanna go home.
Sarah Palin shiggle-shuggles the marine's shoulder.
Palin: *carrying her Palin Psalms under her armpit* uh, sir, we need to talk.
another Thai boy: why are you here, Reese Witherspoon?
Reese Witherspoon: i'm half-Croatian. i think. related to John Witherspoon, the important guy, not the actor.
DJ Rudenko kisses Reese Witherspoon on the lips.
DJ Rudenko: just be cool, play it cool, i'm undercover.
the summer monsoons all rain upon Bump's head. pelting with grandueur. all on top of his hair, a dark cloud hangs over him above, overhead view. his hair doesn't move an inch.
a circle of ducks escape onto the field and form a circle in the centre circle. The Penguin tries to play with them but they all drown out his squawk. The Penguin is getting hot under the collar and is starting to smell like goose.
Bump: how is this possible? with all the accumulated yellow and red cards there should be no one on the field for the Final. that is so unfair! i wanted to see the drawing-of-the-lots to determine the winner. don't worry, you puke-green environmentalists, i'll make sure to make that Thai cave a national landmark, it will be a monument for all time. i saw those ancient cave paintings there when i was down there as a child...
Putin: where the adventure began! not knowing how many different endings there were!
Bump: i dunno, i like to have fun. i like wrestling. i'm invited to LeBron's pizza party after this. going on a joyride with George Clooney on his motorcycle later later. i like old movies, i like the Golden Age of Hollywood actresses, the dames, the scorching sirens of the past silver screen, the noir nuts like Sarah Palin and Sacha Baron Cohen. he's Royalty you know, the sex with Di was to die for. see? i like Jews.
Bump: i love that in France, Claude is a female name.
Doryce and Gladyce are shopping at The Store for Bama's wedding.
Gladyce: that Catwoman is one lucky cat woman.
Gladyce: have you seen the new thing, dear? in the paper this morning.
Doryce: who reads the paper in the morning? i'm trying on suits. for my birthday. and insta-ing them.
Gladyce: tryna on poop chutes? it's the most marvelous thong i mean thing! instead of glasses, simply put a spoon up to your eye. cure! instant 20/20 vision! i'll pick one up.
Doryce: just steal a spoon from that deli potato-salad over there, that stuff hasn't been touched in 20 years.
Gladyce: anything catch your fancy, dear?
Doryce: 1850 coffee? light lantern-shade?
Gladyce: ooooh, that was the year i started getting going!
Doryce: Mayo man?
Gladyce: it's not what you think.
Doryce: oh come on. unicorn bust? Raisin Bran with Bananas? noir nuts? adjustable comfort? Purr-adise? puff-pastry pizza? melty boi? can i have nothing, Mommy?
the loudspeakers: service in. service out.
Doryce gives Gladyce the look.
Gladyce: no, child.
Doryce: but it was Supermarket Sex, my favorite game show.
they check their watches for the scores. it's Laertus and Dirg.
Laertus: who won?
Gladyce: Monty Python won! that cute sweeper Nobby Hegel saved the day with his foot!
Laertus: heehee, thanks. i got that reference, you?
Dirg is wearing a Unicorn Bust T shirt.
Dirg: i hate college.
Laertus: me, too. i just want to draw. Queen Walkthrough 4 wasn't better than Too Many Cooks, i just liked it better cos it didn't involve salad if you catch my drift. or diced celery.
Dirg: don't feel ya. i liked the sequel better, number 2.
Laertus: so it turns out Day from Dayworld is actually an incel. yeah i know, i didn't know either, no way to tell upon first viewing. i'm not sure if that makes it a better experience for you or not. with this knowledge.
Dirg: at first, better, representation. but then, worse the more i thought about it and me. why does that bubble site get more views than me? i don't read any reviews on anything anymore, i do my own thing.
Laertus: oh, sir, you dropped this. here. where are you going in such a hurry? Rush concert? heehee. flashlight. you know, in Britain that's called a torch.
And Change: thanks.
And Change returns from The Store with supplies for his bunker. he quietly backstops the basement door with his two stuffed brown bags. he talks into his camera's mouth like a long lost love.
And Change: my fam, welcome back. i missed you. i'll never stop talking to you, for you help me help you help me. this is my video diary of enunciated words, i'm a rapper by trade. i need to get it out. like i lift those weights over there in the back to be less skinny, i need to be strong for you guys. it sucks not having a spotter for that bench, i can only lift so much weight, i need you guys. no that's not my forehead-sweat towel draped over the bar, it's those brown headbands. i need you to lift me, you are my VAR, we'll figure out life together. so i was thinking on the way over, there's the monumental figure. the monumental figure is both a monumental figure and a statue, you know? mental...
...it's the difference between getting your grind on and getting on your grind, you feel me?...
...wait, hold up...
And Change notices the cameras are crooked. he checks his scores. the screen says 1 FOLLOWER.
And Change: dammit, those scoundrel burglars left the place a mess. they mess everything up. i need my cameras angled just right. you see the background now? my weights? wait, who's that? who is that in the back?
he makes sure it isn't a mirror trick. in the very back yellow-wallpapered wall on a creaky stool sits the man with the Scarecrow hat and tails of gray prortruding from his hidden black face. And Change can only see the man's white eyes like they were white cartoon eyes against a black cardboard-paper backdrop.
man: i love that song. an honor to finally meet you. nice. i like what you did back there, kid.
And Change: uh, it was all you, sir, you provided me the crucial intel.
man: we make a good team. don't worry, the cameras are turned off this whole time, we can talk freely. you are vital to my grand master plan.
he takes off his hat. And Change is completely mesmerized by this face, he can't see it, he knows it's there but he can't see it, he can only see the man's outstretched hand so he goes to outstretch his own hand. And Change is in a psychosis hypnosis.
man: cute meet. cited.
the man bellows like a beluga whale.
man: excuse my face, train rope burns. i like you, kid, i like what you can do for me, only you can do this. you're smart, you got blood in the head.
a pall comes over And Change's eyes, it's as if his eyes have been swallowed up by the screen in front of him. his black hand is a silhouette upon the white hand, white large hand bigger than the whole man himself.
man: you wanna know about strength? i can help you, you and yours are in grave grievous danger. take my hand. shake my hand.
And Change reaches out below without losing his gaze. he gulps in absentia. he shakes the man's hand. the man's hand is not clammy, it is beyond clammy, the palm of the man's hand is all the world's oceans at once, swirling into his lifeline.
man: you may call me Codrus.