The brain is a strange companion – easily confused with its inhabitant, in (or through) which an ever-evolving “you” becomes partially but not completely fused. Not that he isn’t Donald Marcus, and not that this isn’t his brain, but the rupture between them is the cost of doing existence. Or is it? Because the faith that he can transcend the fissure and forge a more perfect version of himself is, or seems to be, the very (airy) substance of his higher nature.
These are the things in the back of his mind as he stares at the crown of Alan’s head buried in a cracked plate of food.
The braised cabbage was good too …
It’s a quick trip – he’d forgotten how close – before Delvin Cythroat joins a herd of wastrels waiting for the tram. He longs to see how physical proportion and symmetry have devolved over the past 10 years, but the sun sticks to the sky like a pat of butter, melting its brightness through the nooks and crannies on down to his darkness-craving eyes. Nonetheless, this visually impaired state only heightens his sensitivity to the heat signatures of nearby bodies – wandering purses of hot urine – and the pandemonium of heart beats to say nothing of coughs, moans and other orificial cacophonies.
Terese moves on. Onward! Into a rose garden. A rose garden in the evening is a (wonderfully humanly) sensory experience to be sure … surrounded by tender layers of nature’s savagery, thorns like rhinoceros horns bejeweling the exploding tangle of ripe-flowing stems through which the force of not-NRG-but-something-like-it pumps (something like) blood into those engorged folds that in turn pump mechanized wafts of pleasant odor (perfume, Terese! So feminine!) that feel, somehow, as heavy as the very flesh of the blood-red rose she fingers and then pulls, like (like what? Like an artichoke?) a sheath of skin from the mechanical organism known as a rose/Rose. In the evening air, the fragrance is like a strip of womanly skin from which an article of invisible clothing has been removed (how scandalous, Terese!) and which, bared, touches one’s own inside skin, coupled by the touch of that velvety/fleshy/not-quite-leather-but-thick-nonetheless softness of the artichoke petal which she drops, with the others, like an atom.
“The crude aggrandizement of experience – loves, losses & perceived wisdom – seems important to the spirit experiencing it – especially from the straitjackets of the body and mind. Having experienced those things myself, naturally I’m sympathetic.”
All around his office, through the floor-to-ceiling windows, the sienna desert roasts in the sun.
“As a young man,” Walther Wallach continues, “I failed at an extraordinary number of ventures. According to the Preacher, it’s all a chasing after wind … but that’s taking a long view of a short-term experience. In any event, I paid attention to the men and women who were successful in my day, and I observed that they read. A lot.” Walther Wallach watches, in the distance, a hawk circling the clouds. “So I resolved to read every self-help book available. They became my Rock. Which led to other things. Which led to something of a revelation.” Dying into a mutter: “I won’t go into the specifics, but suffice it to say that so much depends upon one’s point of view. Anyway –”
Jesse Pigg is like a human drug, capable of transporting you into another world, willingly or not. The question is not whether Marcus wants to make the journey. He's already locked in place, like a bullet in a gun, or more appropriately, like a pathogen in a needle, and now remains only to be shot to his destination as determined by a functioning psychopath.
“Here’s my offer,” Jesse Pigg says at last. He twists the burning cherry of tobacco from the shell and watches it smoke itself out on the floor. He tosses his glasses on the cot and plants his other hand behind him. His melty face is smeared with a close-mouthed grin, the drippy mustache festooned across the arcing lip, his marble-green eyes bright, piercing, expectant.
“I’m coming with you.”
This is as good a place as any to piss. On this cold rock. In this cold terrain. Now wet, getting wetter, dripping with his scent. There. May all desert creatures beware. Carson claims this rock. In the middle of fucking nowhere, with no women, no drink, in this forsaken man-made desert after falling from an aerial and being carried (so embarrassing, but what is a lynx to do when the damn jetpack wasn’t designed with length and girth, to say nothing of paws, in mind?) from the sky to this cold desert rock. All around, nothing. No sign of civilization. And in the wilderness, no sighting of the inferior cottontail or jackrabbit, let alone the rarified snowshoe hare. Can memories alone sustain a lynx?