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Thursday, May 2, 2002
By Paul Ford
The puzzle piece with the frayed edges is the last one you need.
Last night I was having an exciting conversation with a lady, when I heard the sudden shake of a plastic bag across the room. The bag being trod upon, raced across. Which can mean only a single thing, that is, vermin. Have entered. My room. Again.
In less than 1 second I went from involved, warm banter to hypervigilance, all the lights on as I peered around the room, searching for motion, overwhelmed with a desire to punish the intruder, the desire coming on like hemorrhagic fever, the voice in my ear drowned out by the scuttling on the floor.
I apologized, explained with embarrassment what had happened, and was too distracted to keep speaking. Two hours later a visitor to the apartment - if anyone was coming over at 4:30 AM - would find me beating my stereo with an umbrella, trying to force the rat (the rat I saw, the puppy-sized monster that ran from under the stereo and tried to get into the bathroom) to go out the open door and into the hallway. But it wouldn't. It went under my bed instead. Where it shifted and rustled.
What do you call a man with no legs in a pile of leaves?
What do you call him 6 months later?
What do you call a man with 60 rabbits up his ass?
What do you call a man who sat up in bed with all the lights on and his shoes on, cursing every aspect of his life and deciding that this is fucking it, he's done, whatever comes next, it's all changing, everything is changing, transforming utterly, he's never going to sleep again, and he's going to stomp the clawtoothed little fucker into a fine film of blood, bone and tooth, and he's going to get a job or go back to school or get married or finish a short story or do something, something that feels like alive instead of a short comic-serious film spliced to loop.
A total lack of focus, as if I were off on my boat rocking without any idea of the shore, and the loss of sense of time.
I am angry and fairly lost, but screw that, I will reclaim joy. I will tear open my own heart to give it air; I will go after the layers of fear-based shellac coating my mind with a hammer and break them and let the air in.
I have a prose style. I have a picture of a woman. I have the taste of garlic in my mouth. I have a love for dogs. I have a need to have my temples rubbed. There is evidence that life is a worthy endeavor. I have a desire to make things better. First for myself, then for everyone else. Hammers out!
Now I am going to sleep at Steve's to avoid hearing the rat snap its trap.