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Monday, June 29, 2009

meteor

Late last night something hard and incandescent plunged down from the sky, ripped off the back wall of my kitchen and lodged itself five feet deep into my backyard. My window was shattered. Everything shook. The world was dust and broken glass, and for a moment I wondered whether I should get up at all. For a moment I thought it might be best to just sleep through this and wake up in whatever other universe I had been transported to. Not think, not look, ignore. But there was knocking at my front door, it was bigman, and eventually I got out of bed. He didn't ask to come in, he just came in. We still hadn't said a word to each other, I still didn’t know anything about him, how he lived under the brickwork, but there he was and I was grateful for it. He stood for a while, all sandy and shaky, scratching his chin at this strange rock in the ground. Then he touched it, but it was still too hot from its descent through the atmosphere. So we just stood there, side by side, me and bigman, gazing at this beautiful, amazing meteorite from the sky. And I was happy somehow, in all this wreckage, that it had come to my universe, to my backyard, to me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

bigman

I’m in a bar on the Coolsingel with Bren. I haven’t slept in three days. I entered a dark hole from which I have yet to emerge.

Man, check her out, Lui, check her out! Bren elbows me in ribs. She's yours, Lui. Your name's written all over her. Step up.

Maybe later Bren.

Don’t be a pansy. Do it, man! Do it!

Three nights ago I felt quivers coming from underground. I imagined a Bangkok of rats coming and going from eatery to fornication nest. The sound strapped me to my space-cube as if gearing me up for a journey vast and interstellar. But the quivering was something else, something quite different. A large figure, man-like, but darker and taller, rose up from the brickwork outside. He dusted sand off his fuzzy body and looked around absentmindedly. Ten feet of head, chest and limb. Not a Turk, not a phantom, not a famished beast, crazed and rabid. Bigman kicked his foot up against the back wall of Ankara Grillroom and looked around the street calmly, as if he owned the place. I watched him through the blinds.

Do it, Lui.

Bren, please! I grab a handful of peanuts strewn with urine-microbes and I eat before I say something I'll regret.

Bigman... like one of JK’s contraptions morphed from cork to flesh; indeed, the sound of wood-creak and the tinkering of JK's little gas-stove have been on around-the-clock for weeks.

You’re a gaylord Lui. It’s official. You’re a disgrace to the race. Eventually we're gonna go extinct with people like you. I mean it. Look at her, man!

A redhead with pearls and colored nails. But it makes no difference. I order a tonic. Off goes Bren in my stead. Redhead ignores. Redhead stiffens. Bren flexes. Sleeves tighten. Hand on the bar. Then Bren speaks. Colored nails do the wave. Hair-flick and bracelet-pinch. Then she smiles, there it is. She’s screwed. Entry n+1.

I drink from my tonic and start thinking - I don’t know why, but I think maybe bigman is a friend. The way he was standing there, is just the way I would stand there. And the way he kicked up his foot. I do that! What are you doing underground, my friend. Come have a cup of coffee. A glass of milk. My kitchen is small but I can accommodate. Mi casa su casa. Dust of the sand and I’ll make you a sandwich. Pastrami? I have.

Bren swings around the bar: Lui, listen – big favor, huge favor – I need the mattress. I’ll make it up to you.

Bren – fuck – where the hell am I going to sleep.

You're skinny, you can sleep on my bench, no problem. I’ll make it up to you, man, I swear.

Bren!

Come on.

Alright... I won’t be sleeping anyway.

Friday, June 12, 2009

time is money

Drago Stanic, my buddy from grade school, called me from his boat on the Adriatic. You must come, my friend. I have too many dollars – you cannot understand. I am shitting money. It is coming out from my backside, yes. You listen [a huddle of girls giggle in the background] you hear? You must come to Zagreb for party Lui. And you must bring your women, yes, [giggle] good women [giggle], and your wife [giggle]

Drago, how did you get my number?

Your mother.

What!? How’d you get her number?

No more questions, Lui.

Earlier that night I was on a ‘business date’ with Ietje van Velzen: medium length hair, brown nondescript; bowlegged but brisk; dentures and hairnet. She’s 75 years old. My first venture into free enterprise.

I ate Chinese and conversed for money. It was easy. I know the angles: Is that lavender Ietje?... Let me get that for you... and so on and so forth.

But let’s face it, at twenty euros an hour it was a miserable start. I made more xeroxing in servitude back in Amsterdam. I could raise my price, yes, but I’m investing. Gratitude pays greater dividends. And don’t let the hairnet and orthopedics fool you. She’s the Drago Stanic of her class. She used to own van Velzen Vliegpapier – you may know it – that’s flypaper, but not those scrolls of grim adhesive; think pastel, gauze, potpourri and scenes from Aix-en-Provence. Bowlegs never stopped her from getting places. Her factory in Slovenia employed two hundred men. She’s a killer.

Halfway through dinner Brendan called in distress. For two weeks now he’s been haunted, he says, by “poltergeists” from his little black book. Girls. What else.

They’re ganging up on me Lui. I’m telling you, it’s a fucking campaign. This one chick locked me out of my house. MY OWN HOUSE. I need a break, man. I’m coming to your place.

Now?!


Yes, right now. You mind if I bring my bench.

A bench? I have a couch, Bren. Good couch.

My bench press, man!

Now Ietje was getting offended. She rapped her knuckles on the table and lanced tofu with her chopsticks. I hung up.

An hour later I put her on the bus and headed home. That’s when Drago called (...I am shitting money... it is coming from out my...) I took a detour west and watched some geese paddle in a pond for a bit. And that’s when it hit me – fuck-a-duck – That’s what I’m going to sell (why didn’t I think of it before): TIME. Plain and simple. Lui-Labas-time. By the second, by the minute, as you wish. It starts and stops at your command. It doesn’t weigh a thing. Comes in a JK-BOX, special design. Put it in your pocket. Twenty euros an hour; a hundred for six. Order while there’s stock!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

JK and the Turks

There was a fight on the corner last night. Ten Turkish guys went head to head on the pavement. As I understand there were no bodies, but blood was spilt.

When it happened I was at my upstairs neighbor’s, Johan-Karl – JK, from Charleroi – I was there to ask him (for fuck’s sake!) to please stop chucking his butts and cans over his balcony onto my square-meter of yard. I have thyme growing down there for my bouillabaisse and whatnot when I have visitors. Listen friend, I said, keep your waste-things out of my yard, cappice, yes?! Then I made a fist or a finger, but he didn’t respond. He left the door open and I went in after him with more shit to deliver, but once inside, my mouth dropped.

Do not fear friends! He is much older, yes, his suits are oatmeal-beige and he’s from Flanders – it all stacks up – but he’s not a pedophile. Johan-Karl is an installation artist. He makes wood and plaster contraptions; he builds animals, current and prehistoric. e.g. a full-scale, cork-built brontosaurus split in two: the rump is near the kitchen, the other half by his bed. The other thing he makes is BOXES... yes (I don’t know how else to say this except to italicize and capitalize). I was inside one when the shit hit the fan with the Turks. Six cubic meter of darkness, the highest grade, I couldn’t see my hands, there were no grooves, no fissures, the whole thing was totally hermetic. I could hear stuff, though, the Turks shouting abuse and JK rattling ice cubes in his glass. In my head – still annoyed – I was thinking of my bouillabaisse and my thyme-bush strew with Phillip Morris.

Eventually though, mmmmmmmm, I realized where I was,

Thank you Johan-Karl. Fascinating. Thank you, yes. Now, let me out.... you’re a true artist... Thank you... Johan... Johan-Karl?

I spoke Dutch. The Flemish are pesky with language, and what with the Turks dismembering each other on the block, I took precautions.

Johan-Karl... sir!

But then – Holy mother of God – something appeared out of nowhere, an electrostatic ball that sparked sporadically and danced in suspension – WFT! – an unearthly Teslian experiment, and I was caught, riveted, like the summer in Split under the pier when Nataša Franolić showed me hers and I mine and I was catapulted like a spitball into the ether (cops - sirens - ruckus - Turks caught in hand-to-hand combat) and briefly I was glued in space.