We buy double-journey tickets and scan them at the gates, beginning our descent under Moscow. The escalator runs for what feels like a hundred metres down, affording a survey of droves of Russians rising to the street. We plunge down past huge light bulbs, cell-phone ads, people going up: smoking-hot blondes with Louis Vuitton bags, frumpy matrons with quaint hairdos, military, a Tatar family, a man and his screaming kid.
I grip the steel railing as the doors shut on the lime-green eastbound line. The dirty grey car screeches to full throttle, goes faster, faster, almost whistling like a kettle, runs obscenely, hellishly fast, the sparking metal wheels overclocked, slaved to their mechanical limit. A Tatar girl smiles at me and looks away, again and again, as the train jolts and slows, gliding to a halt at Сре́тенский Бульва́р. I’m imagining this scene twenty years back, or maybe this train car exists in a multiverse. We almost forget to change to the blue line, but we switch and ride to Партизанская.
Back at the surface, a beige shepherd dog lies by a war-torn man with one eye and a cart of bottles and magazines. Chad winks at me. Yesterday at the Armoury we discussed whether the Westernization of Russia would strip its women’s femininity. Whether lining up is anathema to Eurasian culture. I don’t know if I can stand four hours on the train with him. It kills me, I’m realizing, how such a knob gets slobbered with so much attention.
Adam wakes in afternoon fog. The sun glows bright and indistinct. Two hands are upon him. Each belongs to a different person. They grab hold and shake him into consciousness. He had fallen asleep on the baseball diamond again.
“Adam,” the person says. “Adam,” the other person says. “Wake up.” “Wake up.”
Their faces resolve, side by side, identical, unfamiliar, framed by long blond curly hair. Adam recognizes a third: Helen, blond also and sitting at a distance, beyond the foul line, in her wheelchair. She pulls forward. The features of her own face are lit by the sun and lit by a large holographic billboard mounted above the dugout. It advertises urban luxury units for seniors.
“Adam.” “Adam.” “Wake up.” “Wake up.”
The blond pair must have gotten his name from Helen. No priors exist as far as he knows. But Adam and the crippled woman have a business relationship. It involves the exchange of particular fluids. Helen crosses the foul line and wheels onto the artificial turf. Another job needs doing evidently.
“Have you been robbed again?”
Cliqued by proxy into Dodie Bellamy’s (born to sneer dismissively about the flank of her Buddhist sebum & riding some long expired mid-west working class cred) most fleeting and be-caped endowments (paper towel wipe of political-writer-arrogance-cum-mundane-new-narrative-diary-graph endemic to San Fran), iphgenia baal (the pronunciation of which is its own insufferable reparation / too patriarchal if capitalized / character white guilts yuppie pals into buying her drinks / prime to move copies with another super-ethical, f-the-corporation (ballsy maybe twenty years ago), slogan-wrought (SJW PP time) NPR chum trending its propagandistic new left media Iago ballyhoo (titling the hydra-dependent soapbox as it cousins her protests) inveigles readers (even one this mean and pasty) with the tale at hand, because attention, lost and gained (unto aforementioned death), is her book’s motif. Enchanting splotches tobogganed down daddy’s comforter (she’s not yet another victim in a half shell), the spanked array of politics and ass may be capable of rooting up an eye or two while a sophisticated talent endures below ideology (getting under the skin it aroused and bleeding the life out). It’s art, though, not a marriage, and for zero to five likes online, I’m willing to call baal an artist. Any click-count higher and I will correct my mistake and revert to the previous hatred. Her publisher (Jarett Kobek, to whom I apologize) wrote a brilliant book (Atta) that, to the shame of our anti-literate country, relatively few people bought. He then changed his approach and wrote a gimmicky (overtly) political conundrum (sneaking talent in) and profited, if any lit could provide the ink for a receipt (thumbs up and hearts from me, he awesomely Trojan horsed the culture).
My mother once told me
if it were not for her stretched out cunt,
I’d walk this world with no fame
The steady practice of placation melds
the false flesh to your mistaken relation.
Exuberance time and time again misunderstood as
the false prophet.
Taking inclusionary indecencies at face value,
the appearance of acceptance dwelling in the forefront of
our forefathers’ prefrontal cortex,
adhering blinders to the hooven metal clanging the streets in tow.
Taking the blood cousin from its box, ancestral dust spiraling up my nostrils into brain, flipping switches toward what nostalgia hasn’t gone to rot, I wonder if I’m making a mistake.
Then the lash-heavy lids of its eyes heave open. It smiles, and I know. Grin growing rows. Long tongue emerging from gullet, flicking at the air to taste how long it’s been. Its tip fishes between its lumberpile teeth for bits of food or chunks of mouth and like a slick pink deformed arm it flings what it finds at my face.
The thanks, I guess, I get for this.