Did You Drink the Paint, John? by Ryan P. Kennedy

You think the grocery is a fact of life, but it’s not. You know they use paint instead of milk in cereal commercials? To make it look delicious, to give it maximum appeal. They know, these commercial guys fucking know. I know, too. Me and the commercial guys know the truth. Knowing is only a chemical reaction in the brain, it’s like its own secret language.

And tasting is only a chemical reaction on the tongue. It’s like a secret language, too; your tongue translates that language into emotion, but your tongue isn’t to be trusted.

“Hello,” you say. “Hey. Is this the paint store?” “What?” “Is this the store that sold me my paint?” “What number you dialing?” “I don’t remember. Is this the store that sold me my paint? Hello?” “Yes,” you say. “Is this the store that sold me my paint?” “Yes,” you say. “Is it? Look you gotta talk to me. Okay? Can you, like, talk to me? Hello?”

Most of the time I keep my left hand between my thighs, right by my groin. I sit on my right hand, it feels natural and warm. I should find my mother’s sonograms, because I think this was my position in the womb.

Me and the commercial guys. Pouring tall glasses of paint and bringing gasoline to the rim of our shot glasses. This is what I’m trying to tell you. I’m evolving, passing you by. Shutting down the parts of my brain I don’t like. It feels natural and warm. This is the kind of brain I had in the womb. I’m going way back, exploring the pre-life, the life before birth. Don’t trust your tongue, remember? That’s because it’s a shitty translator. Feeding lies to your brain. It’ll translate gasoline into hurt, but the truth is it’ll make you feel good. The burn is only a test you have to pass.

“Hello,” you say again. I think we’re still having this conversation. “Hello.” “Yeah, who is this?” “This is John. Can you help me?” “Yes. John, what’s your last name?” “Fred— Ricks— Fredrickson.” “You need some help, John.” “Hello?”

I know truths. The average you can drink about twenty teaspoons of gasoline before spitting it back up. So sip slow. It solves things. You don’t like your big nose or crooked feet? The grocery won’t help you, but I’m trying to put you on the same team as me and the commercial guys. We’re a five-step team. When you eat something, it becomes a part of you. Long-term transformation is possible in five steps. Okay, picture yourself with an apple.

1) Gnaw off a fat chunk.

2) Chew it savagely.

3) Swallow it with a gulp that turns heads.

4) It’s inside you now, rewriting your code, calculating the new you. Human 99.998%. Fruit 0.0013%.

5) Do it again and again. Eat enough and eventually you’re just a bunch of apples in the shape of you. Nobody will know you’re a mashed up apple woman. Stems for bones. Skin for skin. Apples for brains. Paint for brains. Gasoline for brains.

I like to think this is very possible. Because it is possible. Drinking ten teaspoons of gasoline a day assigns me a higher purpose in life. A transfiguration. A shift toward something spiritual. I see it when I poop out the pieces of the old me and fill in the gaps with gasoline. I’m inventing a new species to populate the earth. You can be my gasoline wife. Gasoline babies to inherit the garden.

“Yes,” you say, back in this conversation of knowing things. “Is this the paint store?” “Yes, John. You need some help.” “Can you help me?” “Yes, John. You need some psychological help.” “Hello?” “Yes.” “I need some help. Can you tell me what to do?” “Did you eat the paint, John?”

You finally get it, but the point is still lost. I think you like sex because it brings you back to a smaller brain. Shrinks your thoughts until all you think about is flesh and heartbeats. Drinking paint is like that. But it’s like sex all the time. Sex brain is fun, but paint brain is funner, a height you can never climb down from.

I tell you, “Uh huh.” This indicates to you that I ate the paint. Message delivered. “Well, John, why are you calling this number?” “It’s the first thing I thought to do.” “You called this number so you can see what to do?”

This isn’t so much the truth. It’s the other way around. So Y-O-U can see what to do. Create chemical reactions in your brain, not mine. But it’s hard to say. I want you and me and the commercial guys to be here forever. I want to inhale you through the phone. It’d be easier to explain things that way. Explain things with my eyes. I have so much to tell you. I have so much to explain. My god.

“Hello?” you say. “Hello?”

Ryan P. Kennedy is happy and he knows it. Clap your hands.