The Man Who Was Allergic to Himself (Pt. 1)
Two tiny black pyramids.
Like black sugar, but with a faintly glowing core.
Supposedly I’ll be able to taste the light.
But I’m thinking too much.
Steeling myself when I should be trying to relax.
Breathe out. In.
Without letting myself worry, I put the pyramids in my mouth.
They taste like electricity.
I’m leaning over my desk, typing one-handedly.
The keys I’m pecking look like runes embedded in jello.
Already my head is hovering above my body, engines purring; time has the consistency of clear jam, and it is no simple task to keep reality integrated.
Slopping over with stars, the kitchen sink reflects the moon.
I risk the mirror.
Every face I’ll ever have flickers superimposed, the layers of selves shifting so that I wobble between young and old, with my hair spasming and flickering through different colors.
Hours coat my cheeks, minutes glop from my chin, seconds itch at my neckline…
Did I take too much?
No: don’t think that.
Cradling my left forearm in its fleecy cast, I climb up to my loftbed and hump awkwardly beneath the covers. Only my head protrudes from the warm cotton sea.
What did I come up here trying not to think about?
The ceiling’s hung with a zebra-waved cloth that ripples and pulses jellyfishily, the inky black stripes scurrying over smoky white stripes, mesmerizing me with undulations like liquid math.
I’m forgetting something important.
What was I supposed to remember?
The ceiling is distant as a great-great-grandfather. Immensity envelops my tiny form and yet I am gigantic, stretched like a rubber band over thirty years, with my feet in a different era than my head.
And something somewhere is rotten.
It’s hard to explain.
Sometimes randomly the rot recedes and my head floats free, spinning featherwise through sunnier realms.
But mostly my body is a sack of gibbering red goblins laughing fire, with the broken wrist a raw chicken wing folded against my chest, its stiffly limp fingers like thawing frozen shit.
Looks like I’ve fallen into my own trap, again.
No matter which way I turn my thoughts, they darken, wither, and mutate into dreadful crackling forests of mocking laughter too bitter to bear, and all while I’m being sucked to taffy in a neverending spiral into myself.
Me: the white zero of ego: swirling drain all the world empties into.
Whole cities pour through me, and the sun’s stuck in my throat.
Just to stand up I’d have to reverse the entire flow of the universe.
I crawl over and open the window.
The lampstroked night, shaking inkdrops from its shiny black pelt, leans in close to inspect me, exhaling frost that trickles blue and soothing into my lungs.
It’s vast out.
A queenly evergreen wrings her hard hair over the wiry hedge-bones. Beyond her, a stately-eyed brick schoolhouse with white brows of ornamented plasterwork sweats in his own spotlights.
Out there everything is breathing, powering up.
In here it’s all grimy spiders and greasy pans, my mind stabbing itself from all directions, and decaying thoughts hanging above me, drying on strings.
It’s obvious I have to go out.
But… is that really a good idea?
Then I’m hunched in two jackets on a streetcorner just a few meters under the sleeping sky, and there is no going back. This is too important…
Bars surround me.
Within their glass bellies, flesh gargoyles yell and cough and guffaw, gnaw bones or suck on burning roots, breathing in slow watery pink music—squashed hiphop, spiraling funk, itchy jazz.
Past the bars rises a square church tower like a middle finger flipping off the ghostly sky, which has only one enormous cloud-crowd riven with crevices, crazy jigsaw seams offering slim glimpses of a night so black it looks heavy.
Whenever someone draws near, I floor my gaze to conceal my gemstone pupils and corkscrew grin—
And all the flaming, unfurling magnificence of the night fizzles, dumped out.
I just have this feeling that if I am not exceedingly careful and in control, if I don’t plot every second, if I let my guard down and unlock my fists, even for a breath, something terrible and irrevocable will occur.
I sit cross-legged above the canal.
Dangling lanterns ring luminal bells, singing in a language of light.
Upon the black water hangs my graven image, the familiar pale round face melting into itself, staying in one place and yet forever eroding and losing its contours, an enduring frame of reference in a dissolving world.
Or is that the moon?
Yup—just the moon, the pounding and cascading moon, a cataracted eye fizzling and popping against the rippling cheek of the sky, doubled in the water, quadrupled in windows.
I stand up, and my upside-down self streaks off to lead his own adventures.
Further downstream the bridge makes a running jump over the canal and freezes in mid-air, over that goddamned moon bouncing like a puppy’s tongue.
The moon is a cursed coin I trade for coffee, to a sharky clerk who grins too wide.
I look up and away, into myself.
My eyes rearrange themselves again.
Level after level of streets stack themselves teetering, plazas and alleys spiraling around impossibly, with partiers staggering up zigzag stairs at ninety-degree angles to each other. Gargantuan bridges fork off in all directions. A train car with motionless silhouettes floats above an empty parking lot, all thoughts inside frozen into a solid block.
On a concrete ledge I gather a handful of dust whiskery and hostile with micronized glass. From my hand crumble cities, flinging out streetlamps and traffic signs as they sparkle down into the water.
Along the river, the buildings look like fortresses dedicated to various ideologies: there’s a jumble of beer-umbrellaed verandas, a clean crystal helmet for sterile business thoughts, and a dated ultramodern experiment resembling a tumorous potato with blinking eyes.
One building in particular stands out, a collaged chaos of styles that doesn’t quite hang together, all its variously shaped windows loudly lit, and its front doors wide open despite the evil cold and late hour.
Its sign says only THE MUSEUM.
Part Two is here