Shortly after Michael Jackson dies, I dream that he and I are sharing an apartment in Oakland, California, above a dentist’s office and next door to a newly remodeled synagogue. We’ve been living together long enough that I’m content to sit beside him without feeling the need to speak. The sun is sinking beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, and the fog is rising like smoke from a fire. ...READ MORE
That summer the storms finally hit. Everyone knew they were coming, at least everyone who’d avoided the powerful temptation to self-delusion. But no one expected the ferocity and the volatility, the way the rain and hail would fall so hard and so long that it grooved the blacktop. the twisters that sliced through Brooklyn, wildfires that scorched the Smokies. No one ever thought they’d see lightning strike thrice, didn’t believe that the rising tides could take the land, couldn’t have imagined the settling of New Brighton Beach in the Catskills or Little Long Beach in the Inland Empire. But even if they had, there wasn’t much they could have done.
Because of the watchfulness of the overseers, it is not easy—they watch closely, keen to catch and punish; each falling lash a sacrament: being an overseer is a calling rather than a deputation—but sometimes he'll break one of the stones, take an edge from a block, secreting the rubble in his rags, close to his skin. Once, a plinth broke free from its anchor, sliding down and over the ramp, crushing, killing and annihilating before it crashed to earth (its mother) breaking into thousands of raw-edged pieces. He had been put on cleanup while the overseers had beaten to death the shift manager, and he’d been able to save so many pieces, some as large as his fist.
And so the man speaks his evil in the room and says that the body of Christ tastes like chicken. He is a liar. The body of Christ tastes like cardboard—not chicken—cardboard is truer than chicken and both thoughts are blasphemous and evil and under God’s scrutiny and once you get on God’s bad side (because we’re all convinced He has one, and our human condition keeps us held to that conviction, no matter what comes out of our mouths) well then, the jig is up. And so you need not try anymore and you give in, as this poor man was prepared to do, indeed planning to do, because giving up was just so much swifter. And he forgets that the moment he gives up he begins a fast and downward spiral where everything is exponentially more difficult.
I stood over the corpse of Inga Johnson, grinning. “She looks so peaceful,” I thought. Her red lips sloped downwards in a natural state of nothingness. Rouge gave color to her otherwise colorless face; her eyes shut, so gently that they looked like they wanted to pop open any second. I laughed at the idea of a corpse opening its eyes. “Preposterous,” I balked. Suddenly the cadaver’s eyes did pop open.