Friday, February 25, 2005

Adam and the Fortune Cookie

The man next door doesn’t take kindly to Adam’s knocking. When the man was a kid, he had fiery red hair, but since then it has dulled to a depressing brown. His hands are small, but his wrists are filled with fat. His shins too— the fat that hugged his calves snuck around to snuggle between shinbone and flesh. His name is Max and he sounds like this: what? why are you looking at me? Stop coming here. I hate you.
Can I have a cookie? Adam asks.
What? Die.
Come on. I saw you carry in a box of fortune cookies. I just want one.
Adam could sense it in the hall, but it wasn’t until he was entirely inside that he could taste the tangy smell of Max’ apartment misting out of beautiful blue and green mold. It made Adam want to chew the air, to try and kill it and get it out of his mouth
How can you breathe in here?
Please get out of my room please.
I don’t even believe in fortunes, I just eat the cookies. Most people aren’t like that. Most people eat fortune cookies for the fortunes inside. Some don’t even eat them, they just open them. Did you know that?
Just take a fucking cookie and leave.
Thank you very much.

Adam’s feet stick to the plastic tile kitchen floor. The counter is covered by spots of various textures and shades of brown. Everything turns brown after enough time, Adam realizes as he opens his fortune cookie.

Holy shit, Adam says. But he has to say it three more times, each less convincingly, before Max finally sighs and says:
Fine. What. Just tell me what it is and leave.
There’s no fortune in here.
So. You don’t believe in fortunes. You said you just wanted the cookie.
No, I said I just eat the cookie. And I know I don’t believe in fortunes. I do, however, believe in no fortunes.
You’re an idiot and an asshole.
This is serious. No fortune is an ominous fortune. It means I’m nothing. This is a sign. People make up those sayings in fortune cookies, and every one in five is the same. One in five isn’t a sign.
Listen, I’m being serious here. Please leave my apartment now. Please. I’m being polite and calm.
Do you know what the odds are of me getting a cookie with no fortune?
Apparently high, because you got one.
No, it’s low, and that’s why it’s important that I got one. And I picked mine from deep in that big box. I felt that cookie. It found me. And then it told me I was nothing.
No, it told you that you are nothing. Now please leave my house. Do not come back here.
Thanks for the cookie, Max.
Aren’t you going to eat it?
Not Yet.

Adam went home and gave the cookie a nice talking to. The cookie told him a lot of things about Max that Adam didn’t know. Like that he said terrible things about him. All kinds of things, the cookie says.
Yeah, but like what?
I don’t know, just things. Like, I know what he’s up to. Or, Yeah, that’s it, I’ll do it like that.
What does it mean?
I don’t know. He mostly grumbles and scratches himself. He also said you were a homosexual.
He said that about me?
Yes, and in a derogatory way.
What was the way he said it?
He said, I think Adam is a homosexual. I don’t know how I feel about that. But at least he’s not a nigger.
Oh my god.
Yeah. Then he said he was going to try to hit on you, or just date rape you.
Yeah. Because he’s fat and lonely. That’s his original reason for getting the box of fortune cookies. He said so. That’s when he mentioned you. He said he knew you liked fortune cookies. He was going to put drugs in them and then go to your apartment to offer you one so he could rape and kill you terribly slowly.
This is horrible.
. You didn’t give him enough time to poison the cookies. He’s coming over now, but he didn’t count on my being here. You’ve got to stop him. Go get a knife. Hurry.

Frightened, Adam does whatever the cookie tells him to do. Sweat gathers in the folds of his skin as he panics at the thought of that fat man with his clothes off.

Max knocked just when the fortune cookie said he would.
Hey, Adam, sorry about before. I thought about what you said. You should pick another cookie, maybe get a real fortune.
What do I do?
Invite him in.
Yeah, Max, sure. Come on in bud
As soon as he walks through the door, stab him in the head.
In the head?
Stab him in the head.
What about the neck or heart.
Don’t you fucking question me!
Yes, Fortune Cookie.
As soon as Max walked in, Adam jumped at him, bringing the blade onto the top of his head. The knife stopped at the touch of Max’ skull, and Adam was too weak to drive it further
Holy fuck, Max said, shoving Adam off and pulling the knife tip out of his head.
Shit, I hit the skull. I told you we should have gone for the heart.
Who the fuck is we. What the fuck, man. That really hurt. I think I’m bleeding. You son of a bitch.
What should I do?
I don’t know, but you’d better find out fast, Max says.
Fortune cookie, what should I do?
Kill him.
Psycho, are you talking to a cookie? Are you going to attack me again? I’m calling the cops, but do I need to kick your ass first?
Max can’t hear you.
And in a state of professional calm, Adam breathes deeply, then says: You’re right, Max. I do need help. Help me. Call the police.
There is something seriously fucked up about you, Max says as he turns around and grabs for the telephone.
I know, Adam says as he slices Max’ throat.
Nice work, Adam.
Thank you, Fortune Cookie. Now, what?
Burn down the building. There is some kerosene in the basement. But first, check and see if there is a gun in Max’s apartment.
Yes, Fortune Cookie.

When Adam comes back from the basement, the fortune cookie is just staring off into space.
Hey Adam, do you ever feel, you know, kinda left out sometimes?
Well, sure, Fortune Cookie, Adam says as he pours kerosene on the drapes.
I want to burn here, Adam. You will burn with me.
What? I don’t know, Fortune Cookie. This has gotten a little bit satanic. I mean, I’m okay with burning down the building, but not myself.
You must do it. I command you.

This is when Adam eats the Fortune Cookie alive. On his way out, he lights a match and throws it onto his kerosene soaked couch. As the building burns to the ground, he says, man, I’m glad that’s over, then strolls down the street, twirling Max’s gun as a quiet giggle builds in his head.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


I saw you die one day in october that felt like august. I only see the creek at night- daytime horrors wear no veil; nighttime is generous with denial. Your arm hung like a pigtail, fingers curled and calling me over. The warm red crawl down your cheek made me think of my birthday party: I hadn't seen blood before. I wanted to see my own. I wanted to know I had some.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A flashlight running out of battiers slowly dies in the darkness it creates. Fishes drown in air. Parking meters are expensive.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

we were sitting in the cafeteria when his heart exploded

Everyone heard it: the quick, hollow pop, then a rush of wet wind sounds spilling out of his chest and onto the orange lunch tray in front of him. When I turned around he was staring right at me. His pupils expanded, hiding the whiteness of his eyes. Dilated, his stare cried out: don’t you remember me? Help me. Fucking help me.

I spent my eighth new years’ eve at his house. We played pixilated video games and ate peanut butter and spaghetti sandwiches. The noodles help the peanut butter slide down the throat, his mother said, patting her son’s overly-combed, shiny black hair. I smiled and nodded as I secretly gagged, then turned around and shoved my fingers down my throat in a panic. After pulling the noodle free, I washed my hands and continued playing Nintendo. I left in the morning knowing he was my best and only friend. We haven’t spoken since.

He did everything freakishly alone— his body emitted an undetectable fume that disallowed sympathy and communication. So he didn’t get anyone wet when his aortic valve poured from his chest like an unmanned summer hose on pavement, spreading across the table in the abandoned corner of the lunchroom. This is when we started laughing and pointing.

“Sweet circulatory system, faggot,” someone yelled, maybe me. He dropped his strange sandwich in the puddle on the table, staining his white bread the color of thick blackberry jelly. As the laughter spread, he started slowly scooping his pulpy insides back in. Anything he could reach, even the sandwich, he began shoving into the cavity from which he poured. But it was no use. There was nothing stopping him from revealing himself to the laughing lunch room faces. The girls screeched, enticing shame like howling sirens. The boys threw half-empty milk cartons at him, head butted each other, and tongue-kissed.
Then he gave up. He lowered his shoulders and allowed himself to empty. When his face was entirely drained of expression, he stood up and let the excess of his tray spill over onto the floor. I could tell that he was thinking about throwing the tray, showering an innocent crowd with blood and bread and loose cheetos. But he didn’t. He just walked off, calmly placed his tray on the conveyor belt, and left.

He walked home, dragging his feet, saying things like, the penalty is death, then laughing himself to tears. Things seemed much better now that he knew he was going to kill himself. Or maybe someone else, he thought, skipping slightly, then catching his stride. Or both. Yes, it will have to be both. Then he raised his chin and let the sun sparkle off the ruby cavern in his chest. He went straight to his room, planned his attack, then made pen and ink drawings of gasoline lanterns, signing the sketches “He Must Be Destroyed.”

Friday, February 04, 2005

Los Angeles is like the paranoid sociopath that lives upstairs. The one that chokes you in your sleep because he thinks you've been talking about him. The gradual tightening control, the slowly dying air. The grip gets firmer until you wake up gasping for non-polluted humanoids and things unmarketed. Bag ladies, bag ladies, bag ladies. It's okay to smash things in the street. I need to move.

Mogwai - BBC Sessions - 1996-2003
Mice Parade - All Roads Lead to Salzburg
Constellation Records - Songs of the Silent Land

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


The worst part of having vertigo is being alive, and the boy had been born with the disorder. He never knew a world that wasn’t swirling, a sky that wasn’t swelling, a surface without a wake.
When his grade school teacher told the class that the world was constantly spinning, she spoke directly to him, knowing such information would be of no relevance to anyone else in the small classroom. He vomited with joy or nausea.
One night, at the age of seven, he found a great love for floating in the living room. It would be his first and only love, and, aside from his death, one of the few pleasures he took from life.
Unable to sleep, he went into the living room and turned the lights on dim so the glow would be as tired he was. Without his crutches, he stood barefoot in the middle of the empty room, the plush carpet undulating with the cadence of the sea. Bluish twirls curled around his toes like weak carpet fingers or cresting water.
He stood and swayed until he lost his balance and collapsed onto the fuzzy lake in the living room. With his face on the floor, he closed his eyes and ran his palm across the carpet, petting the waves of furry blue yarn.
“How is that?” he heard and opened his eyes.
“How are you?”
“Okay.” The ‘y’ quieted by a meager inhale, the boy closed his eyes at the sound of his grandfather’s chronic uneasiness. “Do you want a blanket or a pillow?”
“No thanks.”
“Okay,” his grandfather said, leaning down to stroke the boy’s head with one finger. Then he darkened the letters ‘M’ and ‘S’ into the carpet by running his finger against the grain.
“Those are my initials,” his grandfather said. “That’s me.”

The boy wiped his grandfather off the carpet and placed his face in the unmarked blue fluff, pleasantly smothering his cheek with carpet strands. His grandfather turned and walked out of the room, and with his back to his sad, floating grandson, he spoke again.
“Have you ever heard of a Jub Jub bird?” he asked, but didn’t wait for a response, knowing one wasn’t coming. “It’s this amazing type of bird that never lands because it doesn’t have any legs. Their eggs are laid in midair and the father catches them on his back. Then the little Jub Jub birds learn to fly and grow up and hatch or catch their own Jub Jub birds. They actually sleep in the air. To dream while flying, can you imagine?”

His grandfather took another breath and walked out of the room, whispering “goodnight” some ways down the hall. And in the echo of his grandfather’s quivering voice, the boy stood up and, leaving his crutches behind, walked over to open the sliding glass door, welcoming the midnight breeze. He returned to the center of the room, the cold air sweeping across his face in thick December gales, and imagined the life of a Jub Jub bird. His arms outstretched, he opened his eyes and looked down at the carpet as if it were the sea below. What would it be like, he wondered, to constantly fly over water but never know anything of its carpet-like softness? That is, he realized, until they die. Until they drop right out of the sky, dead or dying, and are slowly immersed in that which they have soared over their whole lives.

His young eyes watered from the wind and the thought of drowning birds, and when his tears fell onto the carpet, he saw the blue yarn ripple. Still looking down, the spinning intensified and the walls and floor became a swirling blur, everything quick and wind-filled, as if he were falling breathlessly from the sky. Flightless, he crashed back down onto that familiar living room floor, the carpet hard at impact, but then soft once he settled, took a breath, and sank.