Excerpt from Narcissus In The Dark
The following is an excerpt from the novella Narcissus In The Dark, available as a paperback or an ebook via Amazon:
There is a spider in the land.
His name is Flippy Killbones.
Here in the dungeon he casts his own glow, a blue flame like a feather, and illuminates my surroundings. He calls me by my names and reminds me we have met before.
I remember this dude. Unusual for a spider, so glib, so with-it like a hipster, so tied into the post-Caucasian zeitgeist.
"Your problem, Buzzy Lagniappe, if I might step on your God-tonsils for a sec, is that you still buy into that Love crapola," he says.
"Love is a relic from dinosaur times, dude," the spider goes on, "a security blanket for people who lacked the internet."
"Admit it: everything you need is online," Flippy Killbones continues, "Other people are becoming increasingly irrelevant."
"So whatever new universe you're thinking of creating next in this dingy shithole need no longer retain Love as its basis. Plug in, baby."
"Let your divine creativity posit an anonymous cosmos," Flippy Killbones instructs me, "a playground of psychic stylings unbound by Love. But instead of letting it all sit privately in your head this time transmit the Big Bang via webcam to all the world's lazy addicted pilgrims."
I snap back, "Dude, don't be telling God what he oughta. I'm the boss of everything including your sorry arachnid ass. And I say Love's a must. Plus they don't got no wi-fi all up innis bitch, so, you know, basically, whatever. And anyways I have indeed made the odd anonymous cosmos here and there and they're always lame-ass," I go on, "They always end up sounding like bad hip-hop, know I'm sane?"
"That's racist," Flippy Killbones says, "But, um, yeah, I'm just clowning you because, dude, you might be God and all but you take yourself way too seriously. Let me show you how this shit's done."
By way of demonstration, Flippy Killbones starts tapping out a remarkably complex rhythm, each of his legs playing a different beat.
And he intones a cadence over the intricate rhythm like a cosmic calculation of some kind and making those cadences into phrases, a bad-ass anthem called "Dizzy Infinity."
"You hear that, Buzzy Lagniappe?" Flippy Killbones whispers, "That's the sound of one hand clapping. You can either believe me or not."
Living in a window
"How about a cosmos with that shit as the basis, baby?" Flippy proposes, "Who needs Love when there's this?"
Drop your dreamy nonsense
"This is the new dimension we are all about to experience. Grok the fullness," he says, "Thou art God."
Rains erase the day here
My thoughts saunter and then stop in the silence after his song is done. "I'm nowhere near sexy enough to get a rhythm like that going," I say.
"It don't matter none," Flippy says, "I'll be interested to see what you come up with regardless. I'm not going anywhere. And neither are you. That's the nature of the dungeon, son. Eventually you'll make up something cool and then it'll be, like, dang, dude," the spider assures me, "It'll be, like, whoa, shit, this doesn't suck."
God is a singular happenstance presuming to be many.
The key is to imagine a universe that remains contiguous with but does not overlap other universes.
All the universes being created by all the Gods locked up in all the dungeons everywhere must learn how to touch but not intrude.
"You still letting Heaven fuck your shit up?" Flippy asks me with psychic insight. I forget how long the spider's been hiding in my head. Since like 10th Grade maybe.
Anyway, he'd already long been hovering among my thought processses by the time I first talked to Heaven Sender, on the Venice Beach boardwalk, amid the panoply of addicts and freaks and homeless hippies and neglected renegade youth and rich hipsters and semi-talented musicians and half-assed artists and skater boys and the girls who inexplicably love them and bemused tourists and deeply quiet poets and brazen drug barkers selling their contraband stashes with impunity.
She was working at this avant-garde performance space called Commedia dell'Art-School and also performed there sometimes.
Even though we had gone to Fairfax together and I was acquainted with several guys who claimed to have had sex with her, we'd never formally met or exchanged names or anything despite the fact that like every horny dork I'd wanted to fuck her when I was 16.
I was sitting on a bench outside Commedia dell'Art-School, drinking a can of Schlitz and having my regular Saturday sojourn by the sand, when she sat down next to me and said, "Hey, I'll give you a cigarette for the rest of that beer."
"I don't smoke," I said, "but I'll share the rest anyway. I've got more."
"Cool," she said, reaching for the can.
I couldn't tell if she recognized me or not. It had been a couple of decades since high school and we hadn't even been friends back then.
"But you have to promise to be nice to me," I said.
"Uhh . . . wait . . . when you say nice," she paused before sipping, "do you mean nice like pleasant or nice like you're gonna want me to give you a blowjob later?"
"You know, nice," I said, handing her the can, "pleasant," imagining how her lips and tongue might move across my little twitching dick.
"Well, I don't know if I can promise anything approaching pleasant," she smirked, taking a sip, "but I'll try to keep my screaming meanies locked up in their dungeon for a while. Sometimes they find a way to escape, though. I can't be held responsible. Just warning you. So, no blowjob, huh?"
She looked past me at some cute guy whose movement she followed for a while.
"I've never had this shit before, it sucks," she said after swallowing.
"It's just Schlitz."
"But there's so many better beers, dude," she says, "Come on, really? Schlitz?"
"It's a nostalgia thing," I say, "a stupid inside joke from junior high school."
"Nah it's gross guy stuff."
"Are you talking about the one where the reason girls's assholes and pussyholes are so close together is so that you can carry them around like a six-pack of Schlitz?"
"Ummm, I, well, yeah. That one," I said, flustered by her frankness.
"That's not gross, it's just stupid," she finished the can, "This fucking beer is gross, though. Ugh."
"You want another?" I asked, pulling a Schlitz out of the bag.
"Oh, hells yeah," she said, fresh cigarette in mouth, "But hold up, I need to ask this dude for a light."
I pulled a pink Bic lighter out of my pocket and handed it to her.
"Here, it matches your lipstick," I said.
"Oh, cool, thanks," she said, lighting her cigarette and taking a deep drag as her glance followed another cute guy walking past then ruminating a moment on the lighter, "Hey, I thought you said you didn't smoke."
"Tobacco," I said with Groucho eyebrow movement.
"Nice," she smiled. "You have any grass on you right now, by any chance?"
"I don't, no. Sorry."
"You suck," she said, twirling the Bic. "Pink lighter. That's pretty gay, dude." She giggled quietly. "Now I know why you turned down the blowjob. Haha."
"Hey, I said you have to be nice."
"Psych," she jabbed at my shoulder with the lighter, "You do have dick-sucking lips though," she paused to grab my eyeflash infatuation and then with squinting recognition said, "Hey, we went to Fairfax together, didn't we?"
"Were we friends?"
"Nyeah not really. I know who you are, though. Heaven Sender, right?" I pointed at her with both index fingers. I don't know why I did that.
"Yeah!," she said, happy or flattered, "And you're, um . . ."
"Buzzy Lagniappe," I said.
I hate saying my own name.
I always feel like I'm pronouncing it weird or something or like I'm talking about somebody else.
Saying my own name makes me want to blush.
I have no problem saying Godfrey Dirth. Especially because then I always get to add, "But you can just call me God."
It makes me feel like a Catskills comedian, rim-shots and all.
"Buzzy Lagniappe," Heaven was putting it together, "Yeah yeah, that's right, like the fat kid from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."
"No, that's Augustus Gloop."
"Oh, I thought it was Buzzy Lagniappe."
"Augustus Gloop is the fat kid from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. But I did used to be fat. And my real name is Augustus," I explained. "Actually, I looked like Danny Partridge when I was a teenager."
"Trippy," she said, "Trippy Killbones. You still kind of do. Haha."
I shuddered and so did Flippy.
"That's weird," said Flippy Killbones somewhere behind my right ear.
"What did you say?" I asked Heaven but Flippy thought I was asking him.
"That's weird," Flippy repeated.
"Trippy Killbones?" Heaven answered.
"Yeah, where'd you get that from?" I asked.
"I dunno," she shrugged, "Just something I like to say when I like something. I've said it since high school. You probably even heard it back then."
"That's weird," said Flippy again. "This girl will fuck your shit up, Buzzy Lagniappe. Steer clear. Let God handle it," he warned me to no avail.
"I'm doing a set tonight at Commedia, you should come see me," she said.
"I will be there," I said before I could stop myself. I hate when I do rash things like that.
"Good," she said, "You'll dig it, I promise. No menstrual cycle jokes. I'm avant-garde. Be afraid."
We shook hands.
"I remember you," she said as we shook, her recall quickening with the intimacy, "Everybody said you went schizo or some shit."
"Yeah," I said, "I heard those rumors too."
Not too many months later we were married just long enough to ruin everything.
Copyright 2012 by Barry Smolin. All Rights Reserved.