SSM – Day Eight

Short Story MonthWhy, hello to you to. I apologize for the lateness of this post – there were tears to dab at, suicidal notions to shrug off, cigarettes to manically consume. That said, today’s SSM edition will be an extra special one, mostly because I’m glad to be alive, you betcha, and everything has this happy, shiny glow about it that can only be produced by over-the-counter drugs glugged down in the middle of an episode of existential dread.

But enough about that. Today, I present to you three short stories I stumbled upon in FailBetter.com, and I mega-spectacular one by Rafael San Diego — thank you, Wappy! Ahem. Let’s get right down to it, shall we?

Story #25 is “Current Events” by Suzanne Scanlon. It is the shit, I kid you not. Form and language, and that offbeat persistence about hitting you where it hurts. I will dare to say that this is one of those stories that make you want to write stories yourself – specifically, to just copy-paste the whole damn thing and add your name to the byline. I guess that’s why I’m posting it here: the linkage prevents me from succumbing to the temptation. Read this; I swear I am not wasting your time.

#26 – “Cherry” by Claudia Smith, because it’s about time we had a story about young, sexual ambiguity. And then there’s #27 – “To Do List – Week of March 14th” by Carolyn Hiler, another experimentation in form (oooh, I sound so academic) — although I have to admit the last day’s to-do list entry had me going, “Wah?”

And, ladies and gentlemen, this is what y’all have been waiting for, the mega-spectacular piece by the mega-spectacular Rafael San Diego:

* * *

A Draft of a Fictional Interview With a Fictional Legend

Note: The following manuscript was found beside the clothes of a man who was, five hours before this document was discovered, found naked along Ayala Avenue, completing a photorealistic mural of a dog, and a fat old man in panda slippers, playing the piano.

Saving the World Through Old School

by Albert F. Dimagumgum

it was five o’clock in the afternoon and as i perched myself on a hotel lobby stool one bright sunday, expecting the unexpected finally paid off. the rockman, just out of another one of those deep musical trances he made famous in the 20’s, remembers his appointment with me, the measley mortal from the suburbs who’s just trying to make a buck. no self-respecting journalist wants this interview to tell you the truth, because the man i just talked to just can’t be written. he can only be experienced. so as i perched there waiting for the man, he shows up in his wifebeaters, a pair of boxer shorts, and panda slippers, sipping on his breakfast beer. and strangely enough, with that sort of presence, it didn’t feel strange at all.

A: Nice getup. I’ve heard many things about you.

R: (chuckles) but never believed. i know. i know.

A: Man, my dad used to sing us “Tahan Na, Little Baby” every night before bedtime. It became sort of our anthem back in gradeschool. What can you say about that? You’re the soundtrack of three generations. And I can’t believe I’m talking to you.

R: believe what you will, man, but i tell you, the only thing you gotta know about me is that i’m hungry, so buy me breakfast and tell me what’s on your mind.

A: Well what’s on my mind is that maybe i can write about you for Rolling Stone and maybe earn a few bucks to feed my cat.

R: *chuckles* i like you, kid. you’re very funny. and very brave to meet me in person.

A: why thank you.

So when asked about his musical career, this is what he had to say about his third album “Redemption Songs” and the scandalous allegations that he lifted off some vibe from Bob Marley: (I thought he was going to cave my head in with a bar or two of “tremblin’ little river”. But in stead, he calmly replied,) “you know, i canvas around for ghosts, man, especially when i pray. it keeps me steady in the evenings and let’s me just do what i love. so yeah, i borrowed some love from bob marley. i also borrowed some love from lennon. and where are they now? dead. i’m still stuck on this mortal plane. serves me right, i guess, for trying to be the monkey king.”

And when I asked him about the miraculous survival of the hip era due to his intervention, he just nodded and said, “aaah, those times were the best times to be alive, man. you didn’t have to believe in anything other than yourself.”

It’s a great surprise why this guy didn’t have his soul phase albums turned into Gospel truth, no pun intended.

R: i mean, on the one hand, you had the revolution, and on the other you had the government. but none of that mattered to us kids growing up by the mountains. we just wanted to meet chuck berry and louis armstrong. we just wanted to love a few prom dates. we just wanted to get our motorcycles runnin’ and get our heads into the clouds where they belonged. when i was starting to rock and roll my father whacked me every night with a stick because i wouldn’t put my guitar down. i’d just strum a song i wrote for my dearly departed grandfather all night and let the grief flow from my heart, out of my voice so that it could vaporize and i could finally go to bed. he went crazy, my grandfather. i wonder why things like that happen to people. it’s kind of sad.”

A: wow for a wild child, you’re pretty sensitive.

R: naaah. i only picked that up when i started reading neruda. i’m actually pretty much a fuckin’ wreck of a man.

After a nervous pause, i finally mustered enough courage to change the subject.

A: So tell me about this fine award you just received last night. I hear they’re giving you another excuse to save us all from bad times.

R: believe me, kid. there’s no better time than every fuckin’ second. even when your face is shit first in the ground. yeah they gave me a grant at Berkeley to conduct a series of tests. they say i discovered a new frequency and it drives the ladies crazy. i thought they were making another one of those metaphors for your magazine articles. but they say i have some sort of super power.

A: You ever read X-Men?

R: wuzzat? sum sorta gay porn?

A: They’re super-heroes. Comic books.

R: i only read Batman.

A: nice. so what do you think of this new run by Grant Morrisson?

R: *looks around for a camera and thinks he sees one* grant, if you’re reading this, you old codger you, i just gotta say, big fan, but i ain’t too big on the whole psychobabble thing. go back to the kung fu. the kids love a little rop-and-chop. i know i do.

A: So it really remains to be seen where Batman’s destiny will lead us faithful fanboys, but what about that grant? Berkeley, that is, not Morrisson. Are you gonna do it?

R: i figure, i done my time. no suit is ever gonna run my life again. not even teachers, man. i know they’re tryin’ to help and all, but all you gotta do is listen to yourselves man. you don’t need my music. you don’t need my voice. all you need is a little faith and some strong beer.

A: amen to that, brother. amen to that.

R: but seriously now. why don’t you take a look out on the streets and see that there’s nothing out there but nothing? why don’t you just take the fact home to your family that you’ll never be good? why do you have to keep on running and try to hide your misery in the very coin you use to buy a cigarette by the corner and smoke your blues away, while your at it. why don’t you stop trying to open up my songs and finding the keys and study the other wonders of nature instead? they say i’m a preacher. they say i’m a mutant. they say i’m a lord, they say i’m a pauper. they say i’m here to usher in a new age. they say i’m here to end all ages. but what they never say is what they’re all about, man. and what they’re all about is doubt. because believe me, i’m no prophet. i’m just a guy who loves what he loves and does what he does because there’s nothing else out there worth doing. and in the end, i’m the one who’ll say, ‘fuck you, buy your daddy a tux and give your momma some chocolates, because the only answers you need all point to the same unyielding light. all songs combine into the same hymn and you’re only here to save yourself. i’m definitely not here to save you. i’m here to rock and roll. i’m here to get dazed and live by the second. i’m here to ferret out the bad seeds and plant them in a stone garden where they can turn into beautiful bad trees and make evil fruit, so that when the reaping season comes, the demons will take all the apples, and we’ll only be left with a garden.”

and as soon as it was bright that day, it began to rain cats and dogs. the old legend was sweating through his thin undergarments, and nothing he said after that point made remotely any sense whatsoever. but i knew it was time for a change. a change in what, i’ll never understand. you know those guttural sensations of wanting to suddenly transform into something more beautiful than your human husk will allow you to be? well, that’s what happened to me. being with Rocky instigated my molecules to rebel against their very order. they say that a human body is what it is. factoring out the soul, removing all experience from a single life, you’re left with the body, plain and unlearned. like a child. was that happening to me? is it happening as i write this? as if somehow from the well of stories that i’ve kept all my years, suddenly a weed blooms in between those stories and kills all the healthy memories i have. of growing up. of falling in love. of going on for so long without love. of exchanging my dreams for some half-assed job which, against every bone in my body, i accepted.

i’m beginning not to believe in anything anymore. isn’t that funny and silly and stupid? nobody will believe that. nobody will believe that i’m taking all my stories and placing them against the paper shredder that is now installed in the left hemisphere of my brain. god, i can’t even remember what i was doing last month. i don’t remember my dog’s name but i’m certain that in a few hours i won’t even know that i love dogs. yes. i love dogs. and cats. and rain. yes. it was raining. i can see a man rambling about the future and the present as clues to the past. the past as proof of the present. clue and evidence both immaterial to the mystery.

i understand the uselessness of order. i understand the futility of capitalizing my sentences and that i shouldn’t have become a writer. i should have become a painter. i should have become a musician. someone voracious with senses. there’s a dog in my living room. he and i are so alike. and i’m beginning to understand him. what’s that? rrowr? yes. arrrrwwwrrwr. rrrwwwwwrrrrr. wrrrrrr. it’s beautiful. his hunger. his excitement. its like the human body being drained of its own lifetime. music in reverse. until we’re back to the origin of the sound. what’s the name of that man again? i must remember. i must remember his name. no. wait. i must draw his name. on a wall. with this dog.

*

Bra-fucking-vo.

*** WHAT THE HELL IS SHORT STORY MONTH?

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About Sasha Martinez

Her sins were scarlet, but her books were read.

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