Detouring America With Horns – 1994
April 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
July 3, 1994 –
Frisbee’s asleep but I can’t join her; the dream came again this morning, and it scares me. It was payday – the universal payday that scrapes off my fingerprints, counting, counting, counting – and I was working for Mary because she wanted to spend the weekend with her family. Customers were running in so they could be first to wait in line, because National United was having a promotion where if people waited more than 7 minutes to be helped they would get a free automatic rifle, the Chinese kind they were talking about on TV. So all of these homeless people were camped outside even before we opened at 8, cups full of change in hand, hoping to be the lucky recipient of instant power. There were a few lawyers, too; Mr. Snarly showed me his stopwatch and made me throw in a free clip, which we were supposed to charge customers $5 for. My boss gave us a memo from the NRA which said that since the sale of firearms was being increasingly regulated, they were testing new markets by giving away “premiums”. This made sense to me somehow, and as the line snaked around the block, into the subway even, I felt a peculiar glee at the transference of strength. Everyone that the bank fucked over now had the means to pop off a few rounds whenever they couldn’t cash their checks, or there was going to be a hold on their funds. One lady told be that she came from 137 miles away just to pick up a piece, because her husband was an ass and he had it coming. None of the looks on their faces – homicidal grins fused to dentist-chair stress-lines – nor the elevated tone of their voices fazed me, but when I saw Friz in line, letting other people pass her, I knew something was up. She was carrying her Empire Strikes Back lunch box, which she only whipped out for special occasions, and kept waving at me, smiling her “I’m eating carrots” smile. I had a feeling she was going to fuck things up, and when she finally arrived at Tanya’s window, the one next to me, she swung open the box and pulled out a thermos full of coin. “I hit it big at the subway, bitch, selling tickets to the stars.” Tanya just grimaced and said “you need to roll those and write your social on the wrapper.” Friz was pissed and she dug out her whistle and started to blow it, drawing stares from all around the bank. “Give me your fucking manager, bank slut, I want to complain!” Tanya ran away from the window while I closed up mine, because I was scheduled to close at 3:33, per the new policy. Friz leaned over and said “Pyr, can you make two copies of this for me?” and she pulled off her right, middle finger, placing it on the counter. Unfazed, I carried it over to the Dubox while the boss sauntered over to the window, followed by Tanya. “I’ve been waiting for 24 minutes and this assholette wouldn’t give me my gun.” “Is that true, Tanya?” he asked her, and she shook her head no. Friz then whipped out one of those videocameras with the large, color screen on the back and played a tape, on which Tanya looked straight into the camera and said “go get your own gun and stick it up your snatch!” Tanya started to cry while my boss apologized and tore the shrink rap off of a gun, handing it to Frisbee. “Ms. Watson, to make up for this horrible transgression, I will give you 3 tellers to do with as you wish.” So Friz closed up the lunchbox, hopped the counter, and yelled “all right, I’ll take stupid-ass Steve, Tanya of course, and him over there” pointing right at me. Cocking the gun she waived us over to the windows, and had us line up facing outward, with me in the middle. “Did you make that copy for me?” she smiled, and I nodded while handing over the finger and its two duplicates. She took them and stuck them in my ears, fingernails inward, and blind folded all of us with the paper tape the adding machines used. “I’m doing this for your own good,” she said, shooting off a few rounds into Steve, who fell to the floor at my left. “If I didn’t take care of everything for you then nothing would get done,” and Tanya slumped down, bleeding on my right leg. “What’s my social security number, Pyr?” she whispered as she approached, “I need to cash in everything I earned.” I tried to remember but all that came to me was the bank code for travelers checks, and as the tip of the gun met the back of my head, I said “wait a second, let me look it up for you.” She simply laughed, took out the finger in my left ear, and whispered: “even if I shoot you, I’m still your hostage.” Gave me a kiss on the ear lobe, put the finger back in, and pulled the trigger. Then I woke up.
Sometimes Frisbee makes Tanya rape Steve before she kills them both, other times she forces everyone to wrap and unwrap coin, while the customers get target practice with flying brochures. In any case, it always ends with the same whispered message, “even if I shoot you, I’m still your hostage,” and then everything goes blood-red and I open my eyes to the crack on the ceiling. Of course, this time there was no crack, only the track lighting on the roof of the bus, dim enough to fuck up your eyes if you try to read or write, bright enough to peek in through your eyelids while you try to call forth calm. It must be around 6 now since the sun is peeking over the horizon; I’ve been waiting and waiting for the light, so I could write down the dream before I forgot it again, and it took long enough that some things slipped away back into my brain. But all I want to know is what Frisbee means by that, and how it fits in to the mess we’re in. The dream started the night I quit the bank, almost a week ago, and every night it comes back stronger than before. I’m not afraid of Frisbee actually hurting me or something like that, just of that little phrase, a warning, promise and lament all in one. Watching her breathe in the stale air that others tasted minutes before, flowing with the hum of the engine that spins the tires which imperceptibly flatten the interstate a little more every mile, I want to nuzzle against her, reaching up short sleeves to rub her cool, smooth shoulders, preparing them for future burden. I don’t know what’s going to happen when we make it to Abe’s; when I called and asked if we could crash all he yawned was “if you’re gonna be in the neighborhood and you wanna, I guess so.” He’s always been an “I guess so” kind of guy, slipping by through the sheer force of ambivalence, but in that non-commitance is a real power which I have yet to truly understand. He has the money, the wife and the “life” – all through well placed shoulder-shrugs – while I have the bills, Frisbee and only what we can carry, worrying every second. I guess that’s O.K. and all, as long as I’m happy, but sitting here in the bus to New York, wanting to give Frisbee a kiss but scared she’ll give me back the finger or something, all I can do is wait. Worry about being happy, and wait for the sun to rise a little higher.
“Even if I shoot you, I’ll still be your hostage.” Damn, why can’t I just dream about flying around and shit?
July 5, 1994 –
Last night as we watched the “fireworks” – A Treesol can that Friz found in a dumpster behind the Circle X, which she rubber-banded to a constant on, lit, and threw in the air like a shooting starlet set against the Arizona sky venetian-blinded shut, the hissing flames ending with the inevitable gravity-regulated thud – for some reason I was reminded of the little push-locks on the signature card drawers at work. Fuck that, the bank’s not my work, not any more, and I can’t understand why I keep thinking about it, when I’m free to do whatever I want, whatever I should do. Still, the sensation of kicking-snapping the doors shut at the end of the day, imagining all of the irate non-customers or snippy higher-ups in place of the fire-resistant cabinets, punting them into submission, stuffing them inside and locking up the keys, was pleasure enough that I dreaded the eventual lock-opening the next morning. Every card was its own Pandora’s info-byte, which when held to the light could and would determine the right everyone had to their own money – the potential worth they lease from the powers-that-are. Digging in those misfiled reflections of everyone’s pocketbook key, I wanted to set fire to them all, releasing with the ashes the essence that window-chained bank pens sucked from unknowing customers, blackening the signatures that are, and yet are not, the builders of capital. However, as soon as the first flame lapped against the “A’s”, I knew that 10 fire-extinguishers would come running up to right the obvious wrong, to protect that which should be held sacred, the basis of the world as we know it: verification, validity. Money-lighting would no doubt provoke the same response, as would microwaving a bundle of twenties to oblivion in the cafeteria, but the idea of reducing the pretense down to its undeniable essence – misplaced trust – and blackening everyone hands with the truth, the same way that my fingers darkened from the never ending counting, checking, calculating digitalness of it all – on, now off, now on again, lather, wash and repeat ad infinitum – was attractive enough that every bill dealt out became potential for subversion. I started initialling the backs of every 10 I could get my hands on, and sometimes would tear a 50 right in two, condemning it to the “malconditioned” envelope we all keep – kept! – in our drawers. Whether I simply hate money, the people that handle or covet it, or both, is frankly beside the point; when the air-freshener was spewing forth fire, cleansing the air of bus-stop ozone and tourist-skin dust, all I knew was that every canned convenience carries along its own negation, and just as Frisbee’s “pine bomb” ended in a brilliant flourish contained within its own warning label, so too would ATM machines some day spit up green ashes along with a blank receipt.
Guess I make too much out of not much at all, but a simple finger-wiggle by Frisbee has been known to spawn bungee-surfing suicides. Which brings me to last night’s dream, in which Friz and I were taking a subway trip down south. Since she always like to sit backwards, we were – in the last car, no less – and as she stared out of the window, watching the passing condos, I noticed this woman at the other end of the car, fiddling with the sliding doors. She would open them about a foot, stick her head through, and let the slack be automatically taken up, her purple-green hair hanging into the inbetween, and every so often, when someone wanted to pass between cars, she would scream at the top of her lungs “I’m trying to understand the connection here, so back off!” and then open the doors, sit back down, and smile as the person passed. After we left 17th street she started using her whole body, letting the industrial-strength rubber-bordered glass press against her forehead and nose, cleaving her breasts and pelvis in two. Whenever people got on the train she would rub up and down, obviously getting off on it, and read the emergency instructions located at the car-end into the red emergency phone, connected to the train-operator’s booth. Strangely, no one seemed to notice all of this except me, and when we were one station from ours the doors suddenly started to crush her, the light above them flashing “Emergency Seal Activated”. Concerned, I jumped up and ran to the end of the car, trying to find some sort of switch that would make the doors open again. The only thing I could find was a fire extinguisher recessed into the wall, and as the doors imprinted a trough into her chest and stomach I fumbled with the nozzle-switch, trying to make it work. Then the lights started to flicker, all the side doors opened, and the driver announced over the speakers for everyone to “please exit the train immediately, the North Korean army has attacked substation #1! You will find levitation devices directly underneath your seats; follow the instructions printed on them and fly to safety.” As if on cue the passengers crawled underneath the seats and pulled out these orange cushions with two backpack-straps, which they put on like miniature parachutes before they jumped out of the car, falling to their deaths off the elevated skyway. “If anyone cannot read Japanese, translators are available to assist with the devices’ operation.” The driver’s warning was obviously too late, and as I continued to struggle with the doors, Frisbee walked over and pointed out a panel in the wall. Opening it, she told me to “enter my death-date, or else the doors will snap her in two.” Perplexed, I tried to remember when she was going to die, but we were still alive, and I wasn’t about to guess when there was a life at stake. “Here Pyramid,” she said, picking up a paper off of a seat while she put on her orange pack, “look at the headline.” I took it from her as the doors continued to close in on the woman, who was now yelling “I think I understand the essential dichotomy, but I need more time!” The headline read “Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”and the date wasn’t today, but November 17, 1972. “Enter it, before she’s torn apart!” Frisbee yelled, before jumping out of the train and flying off into the clouds. Looking for the first time at the woman’s face, I could see that she was Frisbee, only older. “I need to see I!” she screamed, but I couldn’t understand what she was talking about. Then something flew in one of the doors and the other end of the train caught on fire, so I ran down to try to put it out, but when I turned the extinguisher on nothing came out but a blue light. I looked in the nozzle and there was a little CRT with a picture of a small girl on it, the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, and she told me to “give this to Laura, and never leave her side.” I knew she meant Frisbee so I ran back to the doors and handed her the extinguisher. Immediately she held up the nozzle to her eye and began to smile, nodding and whispering to the girl although I couldn’t understand what she was saying. The doors continued to close and so I went back to the keypad but now it was like an ATM machine flashing at me to enter my right hand in a slot on the wall. I did, and then it told me to enter a date and so I entered the one on the newspaper Frisbee gave me. The machine started to click and whir and behind me the fire was racing closer to the end of the car, and the older Frisbee was still staring into the extinguisher, mumbling something. Then the machine spit out a ID card with Frisbee’s picture on it, looking exactly like she did between the doors, down to the purple and green hair, and it said to “Enter Card into Retrieval Slot,” which appeared right next to the door. I did, and Frisbee looked right at me, eyes filled with tears and said “I told me that she forgives us” and then the door cut her clean in two. The extinguisher dropped with her half inside the car, and when it hit the floor it broke into two pieces. Inside it was a picture of the little girl and her parents, and as I reached down to look closer at it the fire leaped to the end of the car, burning me alive.
At this point I don’t know what the fuck’s going on with me, maybe it’s just the stress of traveling and all, but I’ve been having the weirdest ass dreams. This one wasn’t like the rest, though, although I don’t understand it any better. I guess dreams aren’t meant to be understood that way, it’s like they’re TV programs flying off into space that someone picks up millions of light years away, and as they watch these little fleshy figures run and yelp about, I bet they’ll be as confused as I am. Still, there seems to be something in common with all of these dreams, like they’re selected episodes of a larger story, that I have to watch all out of order and piece together at the end. Or I could just be that nasty-ass pizza we ate yesterday talking, my stomach cursing out my brain for putting it through such shit.
Anyway, today we’re heading out of this shit town we spent our 4th in, only because Friz though that it was “quaintly fucked up in a Southwestern sort of way.” True, there were lots of people BBQing and playing football and shit, and there was really nice weather, especially for laying down in a field of tall, dry grass and just hugging and kissing each other, like we did as the sun set. Plus, there was the obligatory Circle X, with the Freezies that no one in their right, thirsty mind hates (“and Circle X’s,” Friz told me, “always have a wide junk-food bar for dumpster dining”) and the general atmosphere of holidayness, which helps to distract from funky-looking strangers like ourselves. But we have to leave, have to get back on the road, because dreams or no dreams, something is up and the sooner we face it, the better.
The bus doesn’t come fore another hour, so maybe we’ll have some time to hit the Post Office and…oh, here comes Friz with breakfast from behind the Circle X, so excuse me while I dig into some stale powdered donuts. She swears up and down by them so you know they got to be good.
July 6th, 1994 –
I don’t remember my dream at all, except for the last few seconds, which involved this little computer-book thing that you would hold and control by thinking. I was thinking it to show a picture of Frisbee but instead there was a picture of that little girl from last night, and she was yelling “mama, E tie” or some shit, crying her head off. The more I thought of Friz the more she would cry, and I started to cry too as a vicious pot-hole woke me up. The bus has grown really tired, really quickly, but Frisbee seems to be having a real ball, talking it up with the other passengers – like right now she’s trading road stories with Annabelle, this punk girl who’s following Suspender all across the country on their first real tour. I think Friz is trying to trade a ‘zine for their tape, because she likes to collect that sort of indie-shit – not that it sucks or anything, it’s just that she’s very clingy when it comes to cool junk, and has to tell the whole world about it. She won’t tell me what this month’s book is on yet, but I snuck a peek at a few pages while she was asleep and it seems to be about when she was 15, along with some collage of bank stuff that I have no idea how she snatched. Annabelle seems to be exactly Frisbee’s type, fire red hair cut into a little bob, blue-tank top 2 sizes too big, beat-up walkman in her Osh-Kosh short’s chest-pocket, laugh that could stop a truck, smile that could start one. She introduced us last night, and as I tried to come up with something cooler than “nice to meet you” she squatted down in the aisle and whispered in my ear “if you two aren’t, like, together or anything it would be fucking keen if I could borrow her for a month.” All I could bring myself to do was lean over and kiss Frisbee smack on the lips, which brought forth a playful “kiss your own fucking lips, I’m busy,” which she was, digging through her bag for a picture she wanted to show A-Bell (that’s what she likes to be called). “Here it is, look at that stupid motherfucker!” and as she handed the snap over to her, I could see it was of Spazz, who I never had the displeasure of meeting but know far too well through Frisbee. To put it short and sweet, he was her second boyfriend. “Yeah, I know this prick!” A-Bell boomed, as everyone on the bus turned to face us, “but the last time I saw him he was in Minneapolis, crashing at my sister’s.” “Your sister? The slut!” and the conversation went on, as I gave A-Bell my seat and walked up front to her’s.
It was my supreme luck that A-Bell’s travelling partner was a hardcore e-punk, her dynabook riding on the bus’ carrier wave for uninterrupted net access. When I came up to her, around 10:30, she was dumpstering Japanese bank trash, piecing together discarded signatures for some quick Yen. “That’s not your seat,” she mumbled as she flew over the keypad. “That’s not your password,” I said, whipping out my e-book and hooking up to her signal. “Whatever,” she smirked, going back to business, as I continued to check her out. Far from Annabellesque, she was dressed in a plain green T-shirt and faded jeans, her long black hair tied back into two pony-tails, held by twist-ties. A little bit of hacking and a unlocked door on her side got me her name – Sasha – along with a brief bio she’d prepared for just such an occasion. “I’m a junk-byte dealer, an info-scavenger that will dig up just about anything, if the price is right. I only take clean credits – account to account transfers are ideal – and have little respect for anyone who doesn’t know where there trash is. Presently my specialty is reverse information engineering, with an emphasis upon mass subversion. Leave any inquiries at SW.3472c?. I take no responsibility for unencripted crap.” Impressed yet a bit skeptical, I backdoored and tapped her on the shoulder. “What are you doing touring with Suspender?” She frowned, put her dyna to sleep and replied “I’m not, I’m touring with A-Bell, but you already know that, don’t you?” “Not necessarily,” I smiled as I put away my e-book, “but I just thought I’d inquire because she’s been hitting on Frisbee,” and I pointed over to the two, who were huddling together trading dirt. “You’re a lucky jerk, and you haven’t the slightest idea why,” she said as she reached in her bag, “but since Frisbee chose you I’ll cut you some slack.” She handed me a card, which I was smart enough to put away for later, and told me to “watch out in New York. There’s an e after you who’s pissed because of 1992, and if you don’t lock your doors he’ll take it all.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I half-lied, “then I’ll cover your ass for you, for Frisbee’s sake,” she half-truthed. “Until then, heed the net and all that crap, and stay out of my shit. I’m going to sleep.” With that she leaned towards the window and shut her eyes, clutching her dyna as she drifted off.
Sun’s well up there and it’s about time to kick A-Bell out of my seat, but I think I’ll wait until I give that card Sasha gave me a little look. I have an idea who she was talking about, but you never can know; 1992 was one hell of a year. Not that this year isn’t. It’s just that ’92 was the year I met Frisbee, and a guy can only be that lucky once. I take that back. It would be even more lucky if I can keep her.
I just looked over my shoulder and was surprised to find Frisbee staring right back at me, sucking on her finger. I think I actually might have a chance after all.