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Twenty-Third Sitting

The dead cat's name was Lumbar, incidentally. This is important, I feel, because I haven't given to my knowledge revealed any non-pronounal names of anyone that actually exists, or existed, as the case may be. I told Her that I wrote about the death of Lumbar, and She threatened that I had better have been properly respectful, as Lumbar was Their faithful porch cat and never did nobody no harm. In a feeble attempt after the fact to adhere to this request, I will hereby present another parable:

...Las Vegas gathered all the major pronounally-named characters together on the porch and pointed to noble Lumbar Vertebrae, cheerfully licking his paws, apparently unaware that he was doomed. "So should we take him in now?" All eyes were downcast. "I mean, it'll be a lot cheaper if we do it tomorrow when the normal vet is open." She stroked the cat tenderly. He stood around politely. The Visitor opened his big mouth:

"He looks okay."

"Looks can be deceiving," said Las Vegas. "Sometimes milk masquerades as cream. The question is, what does he symbolize?"

"Gee, I don't know, Barney. Why don't we sing a song about it?" asked a child in some completely unrelated situation at a different time. At that, We all looked at the cat, trying to figure out what the hell this scene was trying to say, what happened to the airplane food and the DOGS that were promised. It was the Wise Fellow that saved the day.

"That cat is like this silly-ass love triangle that's going on here. It just can't last, even though it looks okay. The question is, should we take him in now, or tomorrow when it's cheaper."



"We'll take him in tonight if he bleeds any more. He's still eating, so he must be okay."

"Yeah, yeah... yeah." The identities of the speakers here are not so very important.

"Very well," said Las Vegas. "Proceed with the waiting, with the petting, with the vibes of impending ambivalence that the stench of death or `end' (from the Latin `endus' meaning `Kieth Partridge's Butt!') tends to bring. To the airplane with you Nar-rator, Nav-igator, Visitor whose decision this is not! Proceed with mighty jumping jack flashback heart attack-ack-ack-ack-ack; you ought to know by now...); Begone!"


It's hard to spin on a plane, even if you really want to, unless of course the plane is spinning in which case it's quite easy; just sit still with your seatbelt buckled, your seat forward, and your tray table locked in its upright position... And no smoking, please.

...This would be okay except for the fact that if one can't spin, but one has reached that precarious balance where one would like to spin, then it's tempting to get out this energy in some other destructive way, maybe involving one's delightful airplane delicacy. On the first flight, from Chicago to Seattle, there was a choice of entrée. I mean, they were both sort of sub-grade, but at least there was a choice, and choice equals delight and freedom and all that is good. But on this flight, from Seattle to Anchorage, there was No Choice. I felt restricted; I felt my country had betrayed me. Whyfore must I eat this particular meal? What must be wrong with it, that they would put it in front of me with no other option available? Again I felt powerless. My only choice: To Eat, or Not To Eat.

...Oh My God Don't Eat Me Please! The meal stared up with terror in its Rye Krisp(TM). It pandered (<--not a typo) a bit, flashing its little life before its little eyes (or the functional equivalent, which I guess doesn't exist, but oh well) in a flurry of semi-random self-referential thought: "I am a meal of Tripe. If you want to know what that is I will tell you, I mean specifically tell you. Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary (Unabridged; second edition-- deluxe color, 1972) says, `tripe, n.... 1. the entrails generally; hence, the belly : generally used in the plural. [Obs] 2. part of the stomach of ruminating animals when dressed and prepared for food. "How say you to a fat tripe finely broiled?" --Shak. 3. anything worthless, offensive, etc.; rubbish; trash. [Slang].' I also say this, though not as often or at such great length.

"What right has this Visitor to chaw my visage? I blame him despite his correct belief that I am inanimate and totally dead. Am I not an entity unto myself, independent of his hunger, his eating fetish, his bleeding lip sore (this is an over exaggeration; it was actually just a fairly small sore on the lower lip, and while it looked slightly like one of those syphilitic symptoms just preceding insanity, it was healing nicely), and his other purposes? Yeah, yeah, yeah... uh huh. Do I not have my own context, being an assemblage of functional and adjustable parts like any other organism, and do I not deserve to live out this context in the void of freedom, even though I will undoubtedly fail to achieve a satisfying "relationship," inanimate mess that I may be? What a bastard! Must be from British Columbia!"

"No!" I silently shouted. "I will not eat this, whatever it may be! I will be nourished by love alone! Plus the Rye Krisp(TM) mmmm mmmm. However." I brandished the cold glistening fake-plasticky-steel knife. "I will carve her name into it." I did so, and though the gravy seeped to cover it up in seconds, I enjoyed the scream it emitted, or that it would have emitted had I cared to hear it.


My God, I'm making myself physically ill with all this exemplary symbolism, and I can tell you there's much more to come; ready your airplane sicky-fun bags. I remembered more stuff I have yet to do. You still don't know what really happens during the breaks, and the increase of breaks with the addition of the *** ones makes it all the more sinister. I mean, I guess you must have figured out that I put your hand in warm water that one time, but that's not the whole story. Not even close. Plus I still have to tie about fifty themes together in a big Revelation-like free-for-all, not the least of which my image and merchandising as a religious figure, which I haven't really talked about for a while, getting caught up as I am in this "Jesus goes into the desert and sees funny snakes before coming back to teach" love story as I am. All in good time, sonny, all in the best damn time ya ever did have. I bet you don't even feel lonely any more, with Me so fleshed out as real person as I've become these past several chapters, and I've been trying to explain/show how communication is just as horribly non-connective as my present relationship with you, the reader. I can love you, hate you, order you pizzas, or just hack you up like a ball of phlegm in effigy, but there's always that distance, characterized in this case by your inability to get information to Me about how much this book sucks, unless you know Me personally, which come to think of it is really really likely.

Rumor has it that this book is now officially pretty darn long. Yes, according to my initial count, 100 pages has recently been passed, which means that with careful gluing, you may now use this book as two-ply lavatory tissue and still have enough for a whole roll. So I guess the plan is now to survive these three weeks or so, writing regularly, spilling out all the relevant flashbacks and accompanying commentary, go home, bullshit an ending, and just frigging publish NOW, as I really do want/need some money so I can stop eating sand.

So are you okay with this new narrative style? It really doesn't bug me as much as that "describe-all-the-scenery-and-make-up-illustrative-adverbs-for-how-I-breahed-heavily-and-shook" style that I conceived as a bit more normal, and so was trying to write in, as adverse to the strange and different as I am. Please write back soon, Oh, reader, and tell me how I'm doin'; tell me if I'm worthy; tell me if I'kin be your Writer Man.

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© 1993 Mark A. Linsenmayer [ Contents ]