I have been in a coma now for sixty-seven days. No one reaches me anymore. And I don’t reach them. Everything that has to do with reaching—in, out—all of that is done. It is jazz that has lost its voice.
I am adrift on a blue glacier in the middle of the sea.
Here, there is no history, only invention, and hopes for survival.
Here, from my icy alien distance, I pitch a network exec on my idea for an interactive pop odyssey through American culture and void, I get all crackly and charged telling them how it will be the remix of a remix of a remix ( I get lost in layered Matroyshkan notions such as these, by which we feel there is more, always more, when I know there is always less, so much less…)
Yet being adrift on a blue glacier
in the middle of the sea
in a coma for the past sixty-seven days,
I am inclined to fill up all this
hobbying nothingness with my own set of illusions,
which of course are not mine at all but remixes
of remixes … you get the idea.
Here’s where the odyssey begins.
It is a book, it is a film. It is interactive. You are part of the action. You must participate—physically, sensually, imaginatively, etc.—in order for the venture to be successful, in order for the gaps to be filled in. You also have the choice to leave the gaps completely unfilled, empty. You don’t have to do anything. This book will exist without you, same as you’ll exist without this book. There is no mutual bond of dependency. There is the Mission Impossible creed, remixed: (now being spoken through the ghost of Tom Cruise through an aging grade school’s P.A. system, also aging: If you choose to accept this mission…)
You are aboard a space ship. There are lots of blinking lights, a multi-colored siege of blinking lights and cool-looking consoles that are both futuristic and retro, Star Trek as a stillborn space-baby. All of it is very thrilling, very exciting, you are intrigued and highly stimulated by all the things around you that are beyond your grasp, which is pretty much everything: the lights, the humming consoles, the ironing board on long spindly insect legs, the blue-skinned alien with a coiled pyramid of dark, glossy hair set atop her head, the way she is ironing a yellow shirt that looks like it might be Lycro, and the way the steam exhales from the iron like the hissy snortings of a gentle baby bull.
You are aboard the ship, you don’t know why. A dignified-looking gentleman, with dark eyes and spongy gray hair that stands several inches high off his scalp, turns to face the screen, that is to say the camera, and speaks directly into it (this he does after after all the people and activity around and behind him have gone into a freeze). The Captain engages, in a rulerthick stentorian—We, the characters? You, the readers, the audience?
We have stopped. When we start again, you will see a black screen.
That is, our first lady, Ursunnah, the one who’s ironing, she will stop ironing and walk over to a screen that will slide up from the console, like a technological piece of toast smoothly rising from its toaster, and Ursunnah will stare at the screen. The screen will be black. You will project an image onto the screen. So now, right now, it is your time to get up and look through an old photo album. Look for a photo of yourself as a a child, or of a family member, or perhaps of a family pet who died. Or maybe it’s the family member who died and the pet is still living. Whatever photo you choose, whatever the life-status of its subject, spend some quality, intimate time with the photo, its subject. Feel what it brings up in you. Grief, joy, tenderness, nostalgia, sweetness, anger, let yourself feel into whatever comes up. Then, when Ursunnah looks at the screen, project that image into the screen. If you don’t do this, the screen will simply remain black. Obviously, the story will take different turns, depending on if the screen is black or if you projected an image of you as a five-year-old swinging on a swing in the park, or of your beloved beagle, Sparky, rest in peace, or if … you get the idea. We will now resume the action.
My sister’s strongest memory, the one that she’d bring up again and again and he would laugh and I would laugh, we would laugh together, and if my mother was there she’d laugh too, is of my father chasing my sister and mother down the block armed with a butcher knife. My mother and sister hid in a hallway right next to a card store. Either he didn’t see them, or his psychosis wore off and he gave up the chase. My father wasn’t a bad guy. Deranged, maybe. At times, yes, deranged.
Cut to a shot of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Maybe the scene where he is giving his wife, Wendy, a cruel lesson on writing etiquette, and his need for quiet. Maybe the scene where he takes an ax to the door and through a crack, the maniacal moonsliver of face, and his iconic punchline—Herrrrrre’s Johnny! You can choose whichever scene in The Shining that you’d like. All I ask is that it features Jack Nicholson, and that it’s after Jack had started to lose it.
So yea, my father, at times, deranged, but not really a bad guy.
Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, spoken word performer, and playwright, John Biscello now lives in Taos, New Mexico. He is the author of three novels: Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale, Raking the Dust, and Nocturne Variations, and a collection of stories, Freeze Tag.
His fiction and poetry has appeared in: Art Times, nthposition, The Wanderlust Review, Ophelia Street, Caper, Polyphony, Dilate, Militant Roger, Chokecherries, Farmhouse, BENT, The 555 Collective, Instigator, Brass Sopaipilla, The Iconoclast, Adobe Walls, Kansas City Voices, and the Tishman Review. His blog--Notes of an Urban Stray--can be read at johnbiscello.blogspot.com. Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale was named Underground Book Reviews 2014 Book of the Year.