the half-Victorian shanty is no more. well at least no more half, it is wholly turned into a pile of razed dust. it is much more Gothic now.
flattened like the pancake Auntie N used to treat herself to when IHOP still didn't serve burgers and had problems with black people.
this breaking news will break The Line's charging spirit, he doesn't know about it yet, blissfully unawares as long as he doesn't pick up his phone. shine it on his backpocket. he's at the Big 3 Tournamnet downtown with Phil. between the Ghost Ballers in purple and the Night Ridas in purple.
Phil: what are you doing here?
The Line: shouldn't you be in England? oh just watching has-beens and hacks toss the ball around a half-court. so sad my man Latrell Sprewell ain't in this mix. i'm making sure the 4-point shot gets implemented in the NBA so the Golden State Warriors will run state-run tv someday. doing my part for the beautiful game. when the halftime show is Britney Spears you know you're not in the NBA no more. i'm awaiting further instructions.
The Line's twitter blows up.
The Line: this is me...............................*he looks like he's seen a ghost*..................what? wha? .............no, can't be...............who is this?.................can't be..............hello?
the person on the other end drops the phone for him. on the court. The slunches over his metal fold-in chair at the foul line.
Phil: everything okay, man?
The Line: what? who are you? what?...........i gotta get outta here
he brushes past security in a cloud of white dust and into the hands of the street. he slaps his lap to make sure his instrument is still with him in his hour of need.
The Line: always...my baby never lets me down...
he takes the bus to Congress, he sits at the well of the senate before the Session starts. he crawls away in the dark of the blackened eaves high above the lowest oval, in the ceiling icicles. he trains his gun at the speaker, both of them for comparison, distance, and accuracy. and scale.
The Line: and relativism.
he cocks back his cock and his gun, past security on a cloud of white dust, not a sound, not a sound heard until the one sound, the sound which will bring him down, both hims.
Holon is at the lectern. the one on the blue spot in the blue carpeted well. with Amtrak rainbow lines. fuzzy blue carpet which stands against the hard white marble. Holon still has on his cut ear, mother's army boots, tied black, dusty, white pin, beige uniform, brown slacks, buttons which go all the way down, punk-rock poseur hairstyle. his orange headband covering his right damaged eye. he lifts up his arm in a diagonally straight line in the air, the same air lit dreamily by the falling light. slow-motion particles. arm banded with the SS. he is able to speak his first words:
he holds a yellow lined sheet of paper over his face.
the bullet hits its mark, through the sheet of paper perfectly, in the middle, deadshot like the last of a nine-darter. crinkling up from the center. Holon's mouth forever quiet. he was about to say something.
the body huddles onto the blue. on the sheet of yellow paper: I'm not racist, I'm just edgy
minutes earlier it was Ocasio's turn, the other guy, both sides, she in her brown suit, with her brown hair, dark-brown hair, and brown headband accentuating her left ear with the low-hanging glittery gold dropping chandelier. she with the shiny new pouty pointy heels and apple pin. she of the bare lipsticked lips and afro in a ponytail, red-and-green-bowed. she of the S armband, she raises her arm with the same diagonal angle.
Ocasio: *mic scratches* we will not be silenced! but we need a bit of money. the underground journalists do their best for us but papers just don't sell the way they used to. journalist don't journalast. what i am saying is that i am willing to be compromised. i speak the truth, when have you heard an old politician do that!!? i need to compromise to get the dough. our pizza is the best, it's flat like, well, we take all theories here, we shut no one up or out, all voices welcome, all safe, all right, never misguided, always out of concern, we are your representative concern troll. they call us angry, we call us passionate. they go low, we get high.
she steps out of the reverberating room, hollow with hallows and halos, to go to the bathroom. first she has a hard time finding the bathroom with all the spiral steps. then she takes a little longer in the bathroom cos she has to sit down and everything. she apparently takes too long cos the lightly-attended meeting is canceled on the spot per House rules and to make way for Holon who will take some time getting his prop cleared through security.
The Line skulks his black eyes into the overhead light to peek at his prey from the peak and peruse politely for a pip. no time for twitter, no time for peep.
The Line: *hushily* they were smokebombs..............but you're in Hell now.......i'll join you there soon and kick your ass some more................i didn't want to go this far................maybe i did..........there's no turning back after this...........the cause is cemented in my core............my stomach is a giant truck rolling mixer machine, hypnotically spinning forever.........i've made my case, i chose a side, may my blood color within the lines. for my side. leave outside the lines for sportscenter, this is no baseball, no sport that's also a game, this bloodsport is no game.....................*breathing heavily* i am now an agent...............you've crossed the line......................i've always wanted to say that movie-style....................it doesn't feel as good as i'd thought or hoped at the moment.......this human moment..........
President Bump is playing checkers at Chequers.
Bump: i prefer this to chess.
The Queen walks in.
Bump: wow i never knew you were so short! the tv actually adds pounds to you!
The Queen: what i lack in stature, young man, i can assure you i more than make up for in stature. would you care to peruse the Crown Jewels?
behind the bulletproof glass of a red box with gold lint lie three sets of treasures: a crown with wooden jewels where the jewel holes are, a fleece made of golden hairstrands of silk bequeathed by Wonder Woman herself, Jason's sister, and a long wooden sceptre that looks like a ordinary stick but carries with it a slithering spectre.
Bump: nice. we don't have this where i'm from. 54 million dollars can you believe it!? loyalty is not a two-lane highway. if little tiny-hands Montenegro doesn't pay its bills there could be hell to pay.
The Queen puts her chipped teacup to her folded-out lip with a cold sore. and her saucer to that cold sore through spindly fingers.
The Queen: and what did you think of the Cup?
Bump: the Holy Grail? sham, just a chalice. o you mean the soccer shenanigans? glad it's over. that dragon with the red firebreath scared me to death. for some reason the color red is giving me the chills. the balloon and everything.
The Queen: *pausing to snide her elide* yes. well that drawbridge opening in the opening gave me the chills. in the wrong way. in my day that bridge went the other way.
The Queen: young man! what do you think you're doing!
Bump has his blue pants by his ankles. and is squatting by the gilded corner of all the wainscotted walls.
The Queen: and when you finally pull your pants up will you kindly remove that waistcoat, you waistcoat wastrel!!!
Bump: what? it's a vest. i thought this was Waistcoat Wednesday! think of it as a baby coat.
Bump: i was told i could poop in here. you guys fixed our plumbing, right? as in, ie, the Cream House plumbing was fixed by you to not work or explode the toilet when you flushed it or something, that's what i read a file somewhere. i've been holding it in this whole time.
The Queen: never mind all that business and come sit on these uncomfortable comfy chairs made of bolted red felt and hardened leather for stumps. have a pastry.
John Kelly: for fuck sake finally!!! THANK YOU!!!
outside on the life-size checkers board cut into the grass of the farm, a slew of chickens encircle and peck at the beak of The Penguin. Giuliani is jealous that the chickens can at least fly a fair distance when kicked and he cannot even do that. that gets his feathers all in a ruffle.
Bump: want me to help you with Brexit? when all else fails, sue. it's brilliant. it delays the problem until they eventually pay up out of just wanting it to go away.
The Queen: i'm afraid, sir. i'm afraid of you, sir. not of you, of course, but of what you might do. and i'm not afraid of anyone. i'm not afraid of God, unless She were female. cos then it's like, really? what the fuck, Ma'am.
Bump: i know God. *haha* there'll be a woman in the God when the Cubs win the World Series.
The Queen: i'm afraid the Brexit quagmire is simply unfixable. you wouldn't know about it. it's just something that cannot be done. really stretches the limits of democracy wouldn't you say? when is it democracy and when is it mob rule? i just wish they'd give me something to do around here.
Bump: wanna come party with me? after this i'm gonna drive up the palm-treed streets of East L.A. with my good friend George Lopez. we're gonna drink a few too many beers and pee on the sidewalks. drive around on that beige longboard skateboard he has which can hold both our weights. or maybe that ice-cream cart he drives. i still have some leftover pizza from the party i was invited to. all of it.
The Queen: why don't you share it with those nice Thai boys. did you see how spiffy they look now? they clean up well.
Bump: what a splendid idea! laterz yous queenie.
he reaches the big mouth of the cave riding on the North American Monsoon.
Bump: America first. howdy, boys? whoa, that sounds bad.
Thai boys: don't come any closer, sir, we may look healthy, but we may have psychological problems for years to come. issues with tissues. Gorgeous Gupta gave us the 411 area code. and seeing you here as a sign of normalcy might trigger long-repressed feelings.
Bump: that guy is your enemy. steals maple syrup from our trees, that's why everything's brown. hey where's Bill?
Elon Musk: he quit. i'm here in my human form. i'm usually a rocket.
Thai boy: sir, the mini submarine thing wouldn't have worked. it was some fantasy out of Yellow Submarine. it smelt of odd perfume that my dad wears.
Elon: i know. it's just ...i have to solve everything. it's a complex. like some have a sister complex and some a brother complex. and some a diving complex.
Thai boy: he was just a nice man, that's all. not in it for the glory like you are. nice men are hard to come by these days. we were just joking around, having a fun time.
Bump: i would have helped but i don't like getting my hair wet. i could have fit in the wetsuit. i want to be funny, too. i try to be funny all the time but then a paper gets dropped in my face and i have to say something else that isn't a joke. brings the temperature of the room down. lights go off. it's a big paper.
US VAR Marine: i hope yous gentlemen can see the vital work these divers you malign do for the world, the real good. they prefer to stay unpublished. we need experts in the field. those underwater-basketweaving classes finally produced their first heroes.
Thai boy: so you're not gonna make fun of the Thai Royal Navy anymore, are ya, mister?
Bump: not unless it's the Thai Royal Coast Guard. now who do i see for this? where's customer service? where are the highlights of the football final?
Marine: i always kinda liked the sport, thought it was boring, but i have to say, this World Cup really explained to me the intricacies of it, the beauty of it, the passion behind it, the chess-like attitude of play, the fact that it's hard to score a goal which is why it's so special, takes timing and heart. being in the box on-sides is impossible. they direct traffic with those flags, airplane traffic. the waffling and going down the field off a cross and counter. running with all your speed down the park with the ball hoping you don't trip on the ball. finding an extra gear in extra time when you're so tired and you score the goal and there's still 28 minutes left you have to play. the poetry of Pogba. and yes, even the ballet of diving. i even learnt a bit of Russian psychology from that docu, i never knew the psychiatry of elation, never knew elation was akin to craziness.
Bump: see? Russia good America bad.
Marine: and that British announcer who does all the highlight-packages for all the matches. what poetry in his startling starting stirring voice! my favorite announcer by far, even better than Alfred Noyes or John McEnroe or the old goal ole ole ole ole ole ole guy.
British Indian woman on the pitch not waiting for cricket season: he's my father. my mother was that one from Doctor Who and that cop show. i hate Curry.
Thai boy: uh, sister? football, uh, soccer?
the British Indian woman nods pleasantly over her veil.
British announcer: and the Galic Giants drive through the driving rain, assembling an All-Star damp field and a dank way to dance in front of their manager. the Champs will be filled with Champs shoes and croissants tonight!!! as for Croatia, the Heavens have opened up and God is crying for them.
Croatian coach: hey, that's our line! that was from a Croatian poem. it's complicated like we are, 14 lines no rhyme. we know ourselves, we've been through some things. our history goes unreported. we play chess on our jerseys not checkers!
Thai boy: we know about your cave of secrets, sir. you want to preserve it, but we know why the cave we were in is a cave of miracles. we found something to occupy and preoccupy our time. we discovered a dusty soccer ball in the very back wall of the cave, in the corner.
it is Ellis Onizuka's soccer ball from the spaceship Challenger.
Bump: i don't want to live on this planet anymore.
the Thai boys present their coach at the press conference, who is Ellison Onizuka! the press scrum clap hardly and loudly. he transforms into a boy in front of the team, this boy with the overstuffed jersey and two twinkling stars in his eyes, the Final is about to begin, and the soccer ball for the Final is on its tiny pillar in front of the field. Ellis picks up the ball, looks up to the darkened sky, and the game starts...
each of the Thai boys are rescued one by one, and as each is announced on the news drones the huge crowds gathered at pubs and public parks and fan zones throw their beer up into the air and rejoice elatedly at the top of their lungs. Messi gets on his hands and knees and collects all this beer before it evaporates for the Germans later.
Bump: do you boys like to party? what do you boys do to unwind after a big event?
Bump visits Vlad at his private windowless office with no doors.
Bump: i await your orders.
Putin: da good, i see you've read the dossier. that's what she says, that's her trademark code line.
Butina bursts through after having gotten past security and having gotten adopted by Putin himself.
Bump: congrats on being a father! save that paper believe me. o i see you've gone down the same path i have, she's quite the stunner! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
Bump: red hair! oh hello, who are you? Vlad, can we get her in blonde?
Putin: but you see my friend, all Russians are blonde. the red hair is a cover.
Bump: *reading the picture* should be Marina Putina, rhymes, easier to remember. just tryna make it easy on me. and we have here a Marina Gross? on the far left. see?, Marina.
Butina: ewwww, she's gross! look at me, i'm the Comely Commie! my patience is hot, too. i got cold blood but i got hot patience. *raises fist in the air diagonally* Jesus fuck yeah! breakfast! pancakes! American waffles! i'm Kim Possible, pet my naked mole rat! no the one in my frontpocket American button-fly jeans! sex, drugs in pee, and Pussy Riot!
Bump: now why are you here? what have you come to teach us today for show 'n tell?
Butina: the right to handle a gun. and the right way to handle a gun.
Putin: we handle things.
Bump: wait, i hate real guns! icky!!! ew. i was told this would be how to master the light gun. the Duck Hunt gun. Dick Cheney is my Latrell Sprewell. i'm into playing long involved fantasy video games for a long time. i want to play sci-fi. can we start off with a little icebreaker, blowjob perhaps?
Putin: AFTER the mission.
Bump: okay. we need to burn two hours. anyone know any two-hour movies?
Putin: for these times: Clockwork, Pulp Fiction, Fight Club
Bump: The Place Beyond the Pines.
Putin: *puzzled* we thought you would say Raging Bull...but actually yes, i want Ryan Gosling's pecs.
Ocasio at a makeshift lectern: my fam, we will be hunted down! they will blame us! pull your headbands tight around and use your heads! this is it! for freedom!
Maxine: *spittin'* chillen now! I AM MARIAH NOT MARINA OR MARIA!!! STOKES STOKES!!! STOKE YOUR HATRED AND shoot it through the turkey-pistol of disappointment appointment! NOW NOW! I AM THE BLACK MARIAH!!! pick up your sticks like you're supposed to!
The Line skulks behind the wooden stage barely held up by a nail, gun in the grass.
The Line: Auntie N was my Agent M. now what? that's why i liked Maxine so much, she reminded me of my aunt. but right. a history i can no longer see, cos i'm dead. but with my scuba snorkel i could see the wave that carried me out to sea. on a moonlit night.
The Line picks up his stick. the stick. the stick attached to the sign, the sign which reads in bold white letters:
ABOLISH THE PATRIARCHY
The Line jumps on stage and takes his place amongst the shouting and crying crowd. and he begins shouting what's on his sign. all hues. all hues held together by one brown headband.
our crones are on a lava-tour boat. the only ones. Gladyce directs the lava flow so it's only a sprinkling of rain on their heads. Doryce doesn't want to mess up her hair with an umbrella.
Gladyce: calls for monsoonal moisture.
Doryce: that's me erryday down below. o without Bama i am lost, sister. we tried to be each other's lookouts and beach trolls but the red lifeguards who weren't cute this shift thought we were actual trolls and shooed us out. i was just trolling for my next Bama.
Gladyce: when are the Taco Bell Baja Blasts coming with their little straws on a tray? you know in all my years i've never tried that blue drink when i go to Taco Bell.
Doryce: tastes just like the Baja Sauce. tastes like mouthwash, which is good for our teeth.
Gladyce: here, dear, have some burning-hot Texas firehouse chili poured into a specially-made sourdough bread bowl with a sturdy burning-hot bottom. you can't shape normal bread like this without magic. can't find it at The Store.
Doryce: i ate my weight in groceries at The Store! which is not very much. oh hi, dear! hi amby! hi ambie!
Gladyce: Ambassador McFaul, what are you doing here? would you like some Away Recipe saltines? eh.
Gladyce is reacting to Doryce biting down and chewing her teacup.
McFaul: does anyone else feel hot or is it just me? *Doryce raises her hand* i'm under a midsummer night's heat. uh, i think i'll stay in Helsinki a while longer. i have a hel-sinking feeling.
Gladyce: but the light show is here.
McFaul: oh didn't you hear? the fjords were formed by lava, too!
Putin: *flashing his steely-blue eyes and wooden teeth* i'll take the Browder Chowder in my sourdough bread bowl.
Dirg and Laertus at college:
Dirg: why do we have to compile all of Pogba's Diaries and write an existential essay on them?
Laertus: our professor said that by winning Pogba has moved from rapper to poet. Pogba won the Poetry Olympics.
on Dirg's watch: DeMar DeRozan knocks on the door of Genie Bouchard. Genie pretends she's not home clutching the inside doorknob.
Genie: *whispering to herself* i can't go to San Antonio...
the city is awash in smoke and bombs and fire.
Codrus smiles. And Change can only see the semblance of the edges of that smile.
Codrus: well you know, my student wanted to know what it was like to be a god so i gave him his wish. what can I say i'm a softee. i pander to my pupils, you could be one, too. i've got my emissary giving him the tour of godhood. go. take your daughter. i'll cover the fort here. you only have minutes. they're coming for you. this place is not safe.
And Change takes the shoulder of his daughter Sonnet, the corner he knows warmly from the other cold hanger corners, out from the slatted closet she's hiding in with Emma Gonzalez and Michael Avenatti on their knees covered in fuzzy red-and-brown grunge sweaters.
Sonnet: daddy, what's wrong? i can sense you. is it okay if i wear my Frozen princess dress?
And Change: you wear whatever you want, girl, you eat your oatmeal. let no man ever call you thicker than oatmeal. how could a man understand? sweetchild, we have to go NOW and brusquely. i know you are forever traumatized by a school shooting, you've had me homeschool you and i've done it proudly. you've only known this structure as your home. but baby girl, I am your home.
Emma Gonzalez: told ya they'd forget about us. my parents bless 'em thought my buzzcut was cos i was a dyke but it was because of the hot summers this place gets.
Avenatti: i'm here to help. anything you want, pro-bono immigration cleanup work.
Sonnet climbs on top of her father's skinny shoulders like a jungle-gum and kisses him on his lips.
Sonnet: daddy i just realized, the Pioneer Chicken logo of the man in the covered wagon i saw on tv was my first-ever concept of "chicken". what i mean to say is that i have no culture of my own.
And Change: you have me. and that's all that matters, natters. i can't ask you two to leave. cling to the closet, your country needs you. it's so easy to leave when they force you to stay. please stay and fight/we'll be alright/the brown headband/defend the Land!
he gives Emma and Ave his and his daughter's brown headbands.
Emma: but i know Mexico.
Avenatti: and i know Los Angeles. i was taught to be silent and steady, like God. i don't do tv interviews anymore.
And slaps them both on their heads.
And Change: bless you both.
And Change flies out his basement door like a ninja with his kunoichi in tow. to the back way of war.
Sonnet: daddy daddy you forgot your video-camera!
And Change: YOU are my life. and you are a genius.
the two make it to the Mexican Border. all the chain-link fences which line the Rio Grande are cut and swallowed up by yellow-and-black tape. they hop the wall. the 1-foot wall. out of danger.