(01-16) Blue Midget 03

It was when A Bomb watched Troll lifting the rack cases into the bus' cargo hold that he began to suspect Paris' writing was full of lies. If Troll was as naturally strong as she described him as being he had certainly lost it by the time he climbed, sweaty and out of breath, into the bus after the exertion. He tried to broach the subject but Troll thought he was being insulting when he asked, "Can you tear a telephone book in half?"

"I'm not scared of you because you're just a big pussy," Troll said, swelling up ominously to fend off a predator. "I'll stick that phone book up your ass."

"Oh, I see what you mean," A Bomb said pleasantly. "I wasn't saying I could tear one in half, I was recalling what your sister wrote about you."

"I never read it," Troll said. "I don't read women writers."

"No, neither does your cousin, and I don't recall reading anything much, and to tell you the truth I don't know how to do it. The book just talks to me."

Troll's jaws were still tightened but he was letting down his guard a little bit. He hadn't expected to end up alone in the hot tub with some giant who had a midget fetish for his sister. He was self-conscious about his body when he was out of his double-breasted suit. The suits were not just representative of a Hollywood past when film noir held the ground for flying nuns and talking horses, they were a signal: "Think Joe Pesci."

In reality, Troll's stage persona was fueled by the rage he wanted to unleash on his enemies, but did not in consideration of their restraining their own rage. He was a dwarf who called himself a troll because he wanted to be a troll. He wanted to be the monster under the bridge that collected tribute to his fearsomeness. He had made the mistake of threatening his sister, and was learning that aggression creates an equal and opposite dose of poison. He glanced at A Bomb, who lolled in the hot water while smiling into the sun.

"It was nothing like she said. There's something wrong with her. She just makes things up and that would be all right if it was people she made up, but I'm not made up. I'm real, and I have a professional reputation, just like she does. And she starts making things up, and people believe it, and when I call her on it she says, 'It says right on it that it's a novel.' Like that makes any difference to the trouble it causes me. I won't read it myself. But people come asking me about it, and they tell me what she's saying. I don't know who she's talking about, but it's not my family."

"Well, Louis said she doesn't write it to be the truth; he said she writes it to be made up stories."

"Then she ought not to talk about her brother being a troll when she's got a brother that's a troll. You know how they say at the beginning of a novel that any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, is unintentional? She put that right in the beginning of that book, and then she describes her brother who's a troll, and herself as Miss Perfect. And what am I gonna do, sue her? We're in business together. I'd be suing myself."

"Did she get mad at you about something?"

There was a bird singing in the oak tree. It was beside the large, rectangular spa, which was not the kind you can buy at the store. It was built into a terrace, and was made of marble. The world stopped for a moment, and the bird's singing accentuated the silence beyond it. Troll was remembering when he walked in on his sister and his cousin.

Then there was the sound of car passing on the lower road, and a door slammed in the house. "How would I know? She's crazy."

A Bomb had brought the book with him, and alone in one of the four upstairs bedrooms, looking out at the boats on the bay, and beyond it the San Francisco skyline. He waited patiently, now staring at the black words on the white background. After about twenty minutes he felt the light change in the room.

"There was a change in the light just before the first seizure." His eyes moved, now, and connected like fishing line into the story, which took the bait and ran with it. "Of course there's really no way to separate the light into what's outside and what's inside, so nothing may have changed so far as anyone else could see. But in my memory, the light became almost unbearably alive, as if it had just realized it was defining everything, and it began defining it more consciously. I thought, 'This must have been what Van Gough saw that made him go mad,' and then I remembered being a child in Sunday School, and hearing that if you ever look directly into the face of God you'll ... what was it? Now I don't remember. Go mad, explode, something like that. The point was you can't stare directly into the sun without taking damage."

A Bomb turned the page and waited.

"When the seizure came, I was glad, at first, that my body didn't go unconscious. All it did was shake. Later on I found out that the reason the Shakers were called Shakers was they would shake, and the Quakers would quake, and the holly rollers would roll. There were all kinds of ways the body tried to escape from the deadly confines of conformity. All through the week people had to be out there in the world, where it was dangerous, but on Sunday they met on holy ground and could act in ways that would get them beaten or locked away on the outside.

"I had never understood this before the first seizure. I didn't flop around or anything. I just saw without the filters. And as soon as I did that, I knew for sure that the only place on the other side of my door where I could see what was underneath the smiles and the staid civility of other people and not be out of place was a church. It was where it could come out of hiding and be seen, and, being seen, rejected for another week.

"I had my first glimpse of evil, and it wasn't some alien thing. It was as ordinary as water. It was woven into the canvass underneath the paint, and while I had thought I wanted to get rid of what covered me up, at that moment I knew I'd been mistaken. That was the beginning of my second education."

A thought crossed A Bomb's mind and he looked up and over the book toward the skyline of the city. His thoughts were different since they'd kidnapped the Patriarch. Just having heard the voice gave him evidence that his ears were mysterious things. He was hearing a voice that spoke to him in words he could understand, and it came from some brain tissue growing in semen and containing some unknown quantity of DNA computers. He tried to picture this in his mind and got a vague picture of a genie coming out of a lamp.

Since he'd heard the Patriarch's voice, he became aware of other voices, but they were little voices, and they weren't satisfying anymore. They were like fake bells, and he'd heard the thunder of a real one. Now, he could hear the little voices, and there seemed to be an endless supply of them. One was saying, "I thought this was going to be erotic. This is like a diary or something. Where's the blue part?"

He looked back into the book and it said, "Am I blue?"

"That's the song that was on the stereo when it first happened. I knew that if I was on the street I'd be insane, because I couldn't help seeing through the surface of things, and that if I was in a holy roller church I'd be possessed by the Holy Spirit, but I wasn't.. I was on the inside, safe in my own apartment, behind locked doors.

So ... I listened to the song. It was extraordinary because there was no separation from the music, and I knew that moment was always there, would always be there. That moment will never go away because of the emotion that tunes it, all of it, from the furniture to the warmth from the fire, into one thing, and you might be dead in other moments, but in that one you're always alive.

"I can't go back to it just any time I want. It isn't a memory. It's a place. I have to travel to it, and it always takes me twenty-two years and three months to get there. When I arrive I know because of the change in the light, and Billy Holiday singing, 'Am I blue? Ain't these tears in these eyes telling you?' And then I look up and see my cousin. And then I realize he actually is a criminal, just like when he was little, he said he was going to be one when he grew up. I look at the empty teacup on the coffee table and realize I’ve been drugged. But it is way too late to say no. The light has already changed. My body is separated from me, and I watch it do things I would not allow it to do if I was still in charge. But in this particular moment, I am surrendered."

A Bomb shifted uneasily and looked away from the page. He thought of Louis drugging his own cousin and taking control of her body. To his consternation he felt a surge of desire to be like Louis, and have Paris totally surrendered to his will. This was confused with a knowledge that it would be wrong, and with that came a certainty that Louis was not a good man. He wondered how he could have thought Louis was Cowboy Jesus. It was because he was little and wore a cowboy hat. But who was Cowboy Jesus?

At the very moment he asked the question he remembered a dream from early in the morning. It was about a little cowboy with six guns and a hat. He was looking at the camera as if from far away, no smile on his face. He looked tense, squinted into the sun ... and then Louis knew who Cowboy Jesus was. He had fallen back asleep and forgotten all about it. He'd seen that picture before, a long time ago, in a photo album. It was a picture of him when he was little.

Now he remembered and he wouldn't forget again. Louis hadn't exactly lied because he hadn't exactly said he was Cowboy Jesus. But he'd let A Bomb think he was, and he'd taken advantage of him. He'd taken advantage of Paris in a particularly evil way, by using drugs. He was clearly not a good person.

He knew when the Patriarch was going to speak because it was preceded by a moment of silence, as if he was being switched to a different channel.

"Remember that Paris makes things up."

Posted: Mon - July 14, 2008 at 05:17 PM