"There's not much doubt in any of our minds that no complete idea springs fully formed from our brow,
needing only a handshake and a signature on the contract to send it off into the world to make twenty-five billion dollars.
The germ of the idea grows slowly..." - Walt Kelly

Friday, November 26, 2010

Too far

when he bent and crossed
both ventricles,
bit down hard
into the rest of his life,
a long wait
until anything substantive
teased life out of his taste buds.

and in one violently nonchalant movement,
the bedrock is kicked
out from underneath us.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Talib Kweli, Never Been In Love

Saturday, November 20, 2010


A shout out to Melissa for giving me this prompt idea, albeit through a middleman.

"I want this thing to be legendary," Adan told me as he wiped flour off of the counter. "Like I told you, it's not about the statement you make, it's about how you make it."

Feeling like I had heard that somewhere before, I furrowed my eyebrows in mock consideration of his point as I watched him gleefully thrashing the batter about inside his Pyrex mixing bowl.

"So you're going to make a statement...with a cake," I said, half question and half rolling the sentence around in my brain to try and see why the hell it made so much sense to him.

Adan ignored me and began whisking faster, turning the bowl into a shopping mall-colored whirlpool, the material inside making sticky thwock noises as it passed through the metal whisk and smacked the glass.

"Okay fine, I'll bite: What statement do you plan to make?" I asked.

He looked up and shook his head. "Not important." He went back to his work. "Weren't you listening to me before?"

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, yeah, the point's not as important as how you make it, sure." I picked up the empty box of double fudge chocolate cake mix that was lying on the counter.

I stared hard at the very tempting picture of the perfectly cut slice of cake posted on the front of the box, observing the flick of the frosting on its top where the knife had departed and gone back to the jar for more. I tried to imagine the cake portraying some kind of message, but got only as far as picturing a devil's food homage to the same-sex marriage movement.

"You're still on about the message, aren't you?" Adan said in an obnoxious, know-it-all tone. "Do I really need to explain this to you?"

I shot him a displeased look, then glanced back at the cake box, pretending to be very interested in the nutrition facts.

"Fine," he said, misreading my signals and wiping his hands on some paper towels he had laid out near the sink. "Think about it: Let's say you go to all these lengths to make a really important, meaningful point. Once you make it, chances are that half the dumb-fucks who see or hear it won't even understand what you're getting at - but they'll sure as hell understand how you made your point. And nine times out of ten, that's how they'll judge whether or not to support whatever your cause might be."

I poked the side of the box. "Lotta bad calories in here, you know."

Adan wiped flour off the side of his nose and his face morphed into a reproachful glare.

"Funny," he said. "But do you understand why I have to do this now?"

"Sure," I said. I didn't.

"Good." He picked the whisk back up and shook it at me in a comically menacing manner. "Now, would you mind giving me some peace so I can finish up? Don't you have work to do or something?"

I dropped the cake box onto the counter in mock indignation.

"As a matter of fact, I don't," I said. "But fine."

I left him in the kitchen and walked around the corner to my room. I bent down and powered up my Xbox, then poked my head back out into the hall.

"You're a pompous asswipe," I yelled in a sing-song voice toward the kitchen.

"Fuck yourself," he shouted back.

*     *     *     *     *

A few hours later, my late-afternoon nap was interrupted by a loud crash. Five men in suits and sunglasses burst through the door of our apartment and, ripping me off the couch like a Band-Aid off someone's forearm, pinned me to the floor using maneuvers I was almost positive were outlawed by the Geneva Convention.

"Adan Ramirez?" one of the men questioned in a molten growl.

Struggling to breath with my chest still sandwiched between his extraordinarily pointy right knee and the twenty-two dollar carpet I had bought at Home Depot, I decided that shaking my head "no" was the simplest and least painful road to freedom.

I felt one of them reach into my back right jeans pocket and pull out my wallet.

"He's telling the truth, Fox," one said a moment later. "Not the target."

"The target?" What had Adan gotten himself into this time?

The one called Fox lifted his knee off my back slightly, letting up the pressure just enough that I could break out into a fit of gravelly coughing.

"Search the upstairs, find that son of a bitch," he told the other men, his voice drenched in disdain.

I heard four pairs of well-dressed footsteps rumble up the stairs to Adan's room. I heard his door slam open into the wall, and then a resounding thud echoed through the floorboards, at which point I assumed he had received the same warm welcome I did.

One by one the suited men walked back down the stairs, the last one prodding a handcuffed and clearly terrified Adan. When Fox saw this he let me up from the floor, but as soon as I was standing he put a hand on my chest and stared at me so intensely that I could feel it emanating through his shades.

"Don't move," he told me in two breaths, emphasizing how important it was to my well being that I do as I was told. I nodded my compliance.

Fox reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a badge, which he flipped open and flashed quickly at me before giving Adan a much richer view. My roommate's eyes widened, either in realization of why this was all happening or, as I suspected, simply an increase in dread.

"Mr. Ramirez? My name is Agent Lawrence Fox, and as you can see I am with the United States Secret Service."

"Isn't the Secret Service supposed to protect the President?" I asked abruptly, surprising even myself with the informality of my question.

Agent Fox slowly turned his head to look at me, the same fiery seriousness I had heard in his voice earlier very much evident in the look he gave me.

"What do you think we're doing here?" he asked. "Now shut the hell up."

He turned back to Adan. "Mr. Ramirez, you are under arrest for making threats on the President's life. Agent Carmichael, please locate and retrieve the evidence."

Agent Carmichael, a tall, thin man whose sunglasses were far too big for his face, rushed quietly by me into the kitchen, and I heard the refrigerator door open and the rustling of plastic bags. He emerged a moment later carrying a yellow Shop Rite bag filled by a large, square, dark object in one hand and licking the index finger on his other hand.

"I've got it, sir, we're clear for extraction," he said excitedly.

"Excellent," Agent Fox said. "Move it out!"

He held Adan while the others filed out the door. When they were all outside, he pushed Adan out onto the landing and grabbed the door handle. As he pulled it shut, he turned and looked back at me.

"Have a pleasant evening," he said, vomiting insincerity. I half smiled at him, hoping I was clearly transmitting my distaste for him and what had just gone on in my living room.

He slammed the door shut, and for a moment I just stood there, half angry and half something else, but wholly in shock. Then I remembered: the fridge!

I rushed into the kitchen and the door flew open before I even realized I had laid a hand on it. There, on the bottom shelf, was a chocolate icing smear that trailed off in a hand print that must have belonged to the overeager Agent Carmichael.

I guess Adan had made his point.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
J. Cole, The Autograph