Marcus was a patient man. He had learned patience in Otisville Correctional, where he had spent five years of his twenties. He was 40 now. He wasn’t shy about it, and would often joke that he had been a Jew only by name until he went to Otisville, where he learned to eat gefilte fish and intersperse his conversation with bits of yiddish. It was really a strike of luck, he said when he talked about it now. Had his surname been different, or had he burned down an apartment building outside of Williamsburg, he could have been sent to a real prison instead of a federal sleepaway camp. No matter how much he underplayed it, five years is a long time, and his habits still bore the mark of his time upstate. In fact, all of his hobbies seemed to be a product of what he called his “long walk in the country.” He read constantly, played tennis twice a week, and took classes at a community college downtown. He had never gone to college, but discovered in Otisville that he enjoyed the ceremony of sitting in a classroom. He figured out that he liked being the class clown, and had passed the time mastering a range of sleight-of-hand tricks. This was how he met Mary.
You drive to Baltimore late at night. This is the only exciting part: the moment of anticipation/this could be anything. Once it is some thing we’ll all be very disappointed. You drive to Baltimore late at night from Chevy Chase. You are headed somewhere.
He eats his cigarettes on his way to Baltimore. The filter papers get stuck in his teeth. His gums are bleeding. When he devours the last of the pack he bites down hard on the steering wheel, fresh indentations on exposed rubber, and tries to hold on fucking tight. He is getting married in three days.
I am rushing senses seeing yellow lines all blurred and fast-coming-on all of a sudden listening to the air suck new holes in my ear cavities, creating new drums and busting old ones + smelling autumn and its burning. I am driving to Baltimore this very instant at the cusp of a new day heat seeking coke missile fully erect body cocked and ready.
Ron Ogórek tiptoed away from his daughter once her eyes were fixed to the TV screen. The calm that came over her when she stared into LED was so intense that he was sure in that state Jane could learn differential equations or ancient Chinese; yet mostly she watched Arthur reruns and YouTube videos about historical fires. (Currently, a documentary about the Chicago fire of 1871.) Sometimes he thought he was a bad father for letting a fire fixation fester in her, but nothing soothed her like holding a screen and staring into flames.
People from the future are stupid. They must know what happened. Not to lecture, but countless misconceptions always arise when the subject tiringly turns back to time. To summarize the position of the post-quantal school of psycho-physicists: it could be said that time slices, and time is also a slice. When the subject turns to time, making a slice, a piece gets lopped off, like cutting off a fingertip while dicing vegetables, it’s self-inflicted. Juice and widely quoted proclamations chopped up in dozens of dead languages wet the butcher’s apron with runny antimatter, the yolk of origins. Try to repair the parts and recreate the whole, but it’s an exercise that’s both cosmic and futile. I meant to say comic and futile. The future is not a place, as if, upon departing, a senile mode of transportation simply ambles along a path, forgetting events while they’re occurring, as the passengers watch their home era recede into the distance. No, the future unrolls if it goes back. The universe is the highest grade fiberoptic line we could afford on our veteran discount, but time reverts to analog VHS tape when idiots mash buttons on the controller’s controls. The rich try anyway, believing that time travel is an affordable way to take advantage of monetary inflation. “The past is so cheap!” is their way of thinking, dumping trillions into pre-paid debit cards that are unusable in Periclean Greece or in Han dynasty China or in Tutankhamen Egypt or in Zuckerbergian America.
We struggled as we walked, coughing terribly at times, our eyes dry and burning. A drug named Alice, administered with an eyedropper to the tear ducts, brought some small relief, moistening our eyes and bathing everything in a sullen green glow, eliminating the need for further use of our lamps, which we snuffed out accordingly. We continued quietly, passing one abandoned house after another, their thatched roofs caved in, large portions crumbled away. Stopping to look at one, I kicked a support post; it broke apart like a piece of balsa wood, exploding into a cloud of dirt, the awning it supported quickly collapsing onto the ground, forcing us both to dive out of the way to safety. Further along down the trail, far off in the distance at an elevation a great deal higher from where we were, we could see a green glow, emanating from somewhere off in the forest. Alice guided us toward it, intensifying our experience the closer we got to the septic pallor shining through the trees. In the forest, the air grew even thicker with dust and particulate, leaving a thin film of dirt upon our skin. Our partner and their appearance gave us a start—it was as if they were covered in mud—and for a moment we stopped and stared. Alice intensified the experience, making them appear as some nightmarish figure that’d risen out of the ground. Suddenly, they began to cough uncontrollably, and a cloud of neon-green dust erupted from their throat, spreading out into the hot night air.