Grant Request By Duane

by Doug Elsass

My privates are of porcelain and shine. It means that I am incomparable among men, among women, obviously then among this body or any crotch of requesters.  My lap, the obelisk and double bauble of it, makes your granting today a cinch, your cashing of me a homely dilemma not beyond the self-shitting and/or those who watch television.  My groin is a phenom.  Also a once an epoch art movement.  Unto itself.  To those who will say I have the fallback option of becoming a subject for study, my reply will be to kiln myself and have my sulfur fed to squabs.  With your largesse I will make myself an act.  I will not join a circus.  I leave group-think to those that parade, sponsor parades.  My act would be niche, invite only, smart asshole only.  There would be a jewel box accessible only by alley, gerund of the day.  There would be a quartet or sextet and the four or six will remain faceless.  I would arrive onstage to sickly chords.  I would begin extemporaneous song in a third language.  After song I’d launch a loopy narration tuned to the gestalt and a deliberate, teasing unveiling.  They wouldn’t see my privates until after intermission.  But I will sustain their interest with the other elements.  Then I pull a floss ripcord on my vestments and Cello-Bark!  Porcelain privates painted to season.  I would chime them with a gherkin fork while a wasp’s nest is also berserked.  Adjacent there may or may not be a man wearing a Lyndon Johnson slickback and footy tights fulfilling a troubled destiny.  Will he mime scenes from a childhood throughout?  Ping-pong with Chong in lieu of prom here, vehicular catslaughter there, listening to records.  Perhaps.  If cast, should furry tights and a bared torso suggest a greaser satyr?  Defer.  These are the pinions of it.  With your largish check I will be free to pawn less and recline myself fully before the idea.

Field I:  My Serious Vulnerability To Collisions, Fissures Is Severe

There are others who will say I should go unto Thailand and buy new privates.  Best time to go to Thailand is when it is winter here.  When it is winter here it is not monsooning there.  Raining sheets but not monsooning.  Monsoons would be dangerous to my pre-operative loins.  High winds produce unwanted collisions down below and maybe fissures.  I do not want my privates to anyway resemble the liberty bell.  My works will never be contiguous with Americana.  Americana is sold at gas stations and parkworlds where patriots mill and feed on fables until engorged.  Having my secret urn in any like association makes me want to suck fumes into my hypothalamus and turn light blue.

Diagram II:  If You Don’t Give Me A Bulging Sum I Will Be Forced To Pursue A Nine To Five

Know what that will come to?  It will come to where I’m in a building where cubicles are propagating like the god-sure.  Some Charles with little hair but a thick glaze of hair product is taking me deeper into the ninety-degree angles where a typing test awaits.  I am concerned about my preparedness for the test but if Charles passed it maybe I can.  What if I oiled Charles with five bucks?  Would he help me cheat?  I don’t know if Charles has the power of words.  Everything so far has been nodding and handing me clipboards and hand gestures.  He huffs some.  It might take ten bucks to get traction with Charles.  My globes pendulum and ding.  Charles looks back, annoyed.  Bribery of Charles won’t be possible.  He was spermed by a penis sent due north by recitation of interoffice memo, orgasm was sound of facsimile static, both parties angry on fried drip coffee.

Charles stops short at a junction.  I walk into him out of an eagerness to please that has me following unnaturally close.  Because we are walking at a good clip the collision is not benign.  We knock helmets.  It is audible and very painful to both of us.  I can vouch for Charles’s pain because he sags to his knees and suffers visibly.  I say visibly because he doesn’t moan or comment.  His face, though, turns into a horror mask.  Seconds ago I never would’ve thought Charles could look like he does now.  It is a terrifying display that both sickens me and distracts from my own rapid onset headache.  I tell Charles he is scaring me.  I ask him if he needs me to call someone.  He lies down, putting his face and open, writhing mouth against the carpet, working it.  The carpet is not luxurious, not the kind that welcomes anguished chewing.

Transparency III:  I Will Suffer Quick Autism At A Rough Junction, This Will Be Your Fault

I look around the junction.  There are two choices.  To the left is a colossus wearing a phone headset.  She types and harpoons sashimi.  She talks through her sashimi into the headset.  She is talking about something that gives me autism.  Reparations.  Her tone is astringent, her command of the topic faultless.  It is a conversation that does not invite interruption.  If she was talking about coiffured dogs I would not interrupt her.  Even during this Charles on the floor making monster faces against the abrasive carpet crisis, every cell of me is inclined to keep her out of it.  If she were to look at me I would simply hand her my wallet and walk away.  Suddenly I am horrified that she may look at me and make my commute home problematic.  I turn to the other cubicle.  It quarters an aged man who is either deceased or napping on crossed arms.  I see no signs of respiration but that could be explained by his air puffed suit, obscured face.  I know he was born before the gospel of salves and fevered grooming because the back of his neck is a memoir of lines and stains, his ears thatched.

The hopefully not dead man doesn’t acknowledge my breaching of his cubicle, my quivering assumption of his phone module.   His cubicle is decorated.  There is bunting with questions, aggressive fonts.  “What Would The Company Do?” and “Do You Know Him; That Is, The Company?” and “Are You Saved (By The Company)?”

I dial zero.

Audiospool IV:  Toxic Exposure To Incompetent Larynx Emissions, Rented Giant Threats Will Happen To Me If You Remain Non-Committal

“Grieve.”  It is an unexpected voice.  It sounds like a pre-pubic boy but is probably an adult man or woman who is either toy sized or suffering from pinched sinuses or an incompetent larynx.  Dare the person be standard proportioned but self-pinching their sinuses?

“I need assistance.  Charles needs it.  He is on the carpet.”

“This isn’t Grieve.”

“It’s grave, yes, slightly grave.”

“Who is this?”


“Duane?  Sounds fake.  What, Fake Name, have you done with Grieve?”

“Grieve is asleep.”

“Not likely.  Grieve is a top producer.  Put Grieve on the phone.”

“Grieve?”  I repeat it several times with increasing intensity while keeping it office appropriate.  Grieve is unmoved.

I’m going to have to touch him.  I’m not sure where to do this.  His arms are a tight pillow for his face.  His head is clear but I don’t want to touch it.  I have a play for his ear, but Grieve’s ears are tangled jungles, hairy hearts of darkness that declare Keep Out.  I decide the move.  I’m going to lightly probe his nearest underarm.  Not the tickle node but just below it.  I take one of his The Company Is Love pens and poke.  There are several layers of office wear to contend with.  I am all the way up to Love before I strike his gills.  First I am gentle.  Grieve doesn’t register gentle.  I try less gentle with a counterclockwise twist into a gill gap.  It is a valley of marshy flesh that begs the pen deeper.  I resist the hunger of his flesh.  Further risks intimacy with organs of Grieve.  I am not an aspiring coroner.  Or to be more optimistic, vivisector.  I am a conscientious objector to vivisection. Ms. Acierto will corroborate.  She tried to conscript me in sixth grade.  I led a small, but staunch campaign for the frogs.  My loyalists and I took the battle all the way to the school board.  I testified, pointing out the heart disease of raising frogs from tadpoles in the winter only to filet them in the spring.  I gave elected officials emotions.  The district bought anatomically correct models and we released our frogs into the suburbs.  It was the last time I was politically active.  I was a different person then.  Or the world was different.  My exuberances are petrifying.  I spend most of my waking hours with a flexed brow.  At night I am a bruxist.  Neither are solutions to the life problem.  My mouthguard is a solution for the bruxism but it turns my mouth into an unsightly jetty and cannot be risked after dawn.

“Grieve is unresponsive.  His flesh, though, is willing.  This may be a good sign.”

“I’m not interested in your imitations of doctor.  Put Grieve on or I’m sending rented giants to your coordinates.  They are officebroken, songful men who love Grieve like a grandfather substitute.   I’m not laughing.”

I ditch the phone against Grieve, propping the earpiece in a vague association with his furred ear.   Grieve is going to have to take it from here.  Because I am unhappy and angry and overwhelmed to a temperature I remember but wish I didn’t.  The gym classes of my yesteryears were the last times I felt such surging inadequacy, dissolution of spirit.   They asked me to do cartwheels and somersaults in front of the class.  My porcelain and lummox breeding made this a grotesque.  Invisible handicaps give no free rides.  Then were the showers.  I saw what they did to the uncircumcised boys.  My ceramic groin would’ve been riotous.  I hid in the toilet stalls performing imitations of complicated bowel movements.

Sketch V:  Spare Me Any Hurt Charles Is Gone Scenarios, Contiguity with George Wallace Risks, Small Writ Gary, Indiana Jeopardies

The floor where Charles is indicated is sans Charles.  Maybe he dragged himself to the next set of cubicles.  Wrong.  Charles is gone.  The woman is looking at me.  Her assessment of me is even more withering than I feared.  She gives me that George Wallace feeling.  I fumble for my wallet, drop it.  This is adverse.  My condition contraindicates quick bending, kneeling.  Movements of the bending, kneeling family are even more loaded when I am stressed.  Stress makes ceramic porcelain brittle.  I use my foot to trap the wallet against her cubicle wall, and using the wall and my clogs as opposition, slowly raise the wallet.  I skid the wallet up the cubicle only to watch it wiggle clear and fall.  I call on the android focus of the imaginary piano recitals of my youth and achieve wallet lift-off.  I am sweating from my sideburns from the effort.  The tributaries of sideburn-born urea descend into the greater watershed of my lower mandible and neck, all of it meeting the cloth dam of my white collar, my tie levee.  I am fast becoming office inappropriate in look and smell.  My shirt, haggled under ten bucks from a street vendor only an hour ago, has chemical properties that render my sweat into a localized heavy industrial draft.  The shirt has become a small writ Gary, Indiana.

I extend my wallet.  “I am, musical groin notwithstanding, a modest man.  But please, accept some recompense of my ancestral shame.  I have a coffee card in there that is near fruition.”

Her eyebrows arch into severe twin peaks as she assesses the gummy red snake my sole left on her ramparts.  Perhaps this and other cubicle drawings will be studied with great interest by futurists, but that is no solace to me now.  There is no time for speculative anthropology or the commitment of field notes to a leatherbound portfolio, one that is perhaps monogrammed.

“Lincoln was my second favorite president…..” I attempt, both afraid to hazard and unwilling to cede my cult of Monticello.  The Jefferson-Hemings finger-fucks by the gazebo, as solicitous and rich with the waft of wisteria as they may have been, were not a simple matter.

Across the sea of cubicles an elevator sounds.  The elevator light illumines.  Muffled largeness and the clicking of what I surmise to be the largest binder clips in Christendom is heard as the door parts.  Out poreth goons singing songs of Grieve.  One of my gonads rings sympathetically with a particularly well-rendered high note.  The goons sing like a prep school a capella group.  Like the sociopath who lovingly tends to a parakeet, their musical prowess is the kind of incongruity that increases terror, augments doom.

Kabuki VI:  Not Binder-Clipped Only Out Of Pure, Dumb Miracle, What Kind Of Life Is This For The Exceptional?

The woman rearranges her legs, exposing passage under her desk.  I look at her to divine if she is a miraculous accomplice or a bounty hunter who seeks favor or promotion with the goons and their masters.  There isn’t time to properly deliberate.  I lower to the floor, cupping my china, and scurry into what is either a trap or a panic room.  I grimace myself into strained reduction as she shuts me in.  Her legs smell wonderfully of ointments, butter and banana-themed.  There are worse smelling places to incarcerate, obfuscate, inhale.

The goons arrive, deem Grieve dead, mourn him in an abridged but affecting manner, and begin to query my captor-protector in melodious, corporate verse.  The goons are fierce, tuneful units of company power.  My protector, however, is a revelation of calm and faux stupidity.  She answers each of their lyrics with phrases that are drained of inflection, bereft of clues.  As she continues to put up a verbal blockade that I will ensure is included in at least one history of our listless decade, she hands me a fuselage of balm.  I cream her calves and ankles with great felicity until the goons’ songs grow faint, subside.

She beckons me out of hiding and points me towards a mode of egress that does not include the elevator.  I tell her she will be remembered until my last pneumonic breath.  Despite my weeping she keeps it professional.  Trembling, I take her advice through the cubicles until I arrive at a doorway notated with a stick figure navigating a series of descending right angles. The stick figure’s torso and leg proportions are poorly rendered.  The stick figure’s legs are way too short.  A stick figure with this physiognomy would have trouble supporting such a long upper body with such legs.  It is safe to say that stair climbing would be difficult if not impossible for such a stick figure.  This stickman would be resorted to crawling.

Placard VII:  Are You Going To Sit Fat, Miserly While I Am Drafted Into An Unjust, Death-Brush With A Zombie?  Really?

The stairwell contains Charles.  Once the door closes behind me he is riotous.  He carries on at decibels suggestive of unanesthetized surgery.  I know because I attended a reenactment of a Civil War battlefield leg amputation.  The re-enactor, a confederate with more bravery than teeth, was commissioned into bray and foam.

“The pain lingers?”

Charles is one landing below.  He wobbles, rages up at me.  His speech is gibberish thick, contrary.  Like a zombie.  It’s hard to argue with a zombie, reason with one.  Hence all the track and field in those zombie scenarios. It’s better to resort to steeplechase than to dialogue with a vindictive nitwit.  Charles, however, was supposed to proctor my typing test.  I should try to negotiate for the yes as they say in the literature.  But will Charles abide the kind of reasoned diplomacy described in literature?

My question is answered by the thrust of Charles.  He thrusts up the stairs with such idiot fervor that he is upon me before I can reason or retreat.  Charles is an enraged idiot.  His recent defeats, it is now visceral, have made him immune to diplomacy. Given that Charles has bloodied my nose and lip and is adopting an overall scorched Duane policy, it is clear I must select a rapid response Save Duane campaign.  The gist of the campaign is to shove the Charles the fuck away from me in a manner that is mostly autonomic, effective in toto.  Charles goes the fuck away down the stairs in a mixed grill of fly, flail, koala-eyes, bassmouth, land, bonesnap, grunt, gasp, and quiver.  The landing fulfills only its basic function.  It lands Charles.  Charles has landed.

Monologue VIII:  Wince On This, I Will Be Sentenced To The Frost-Heaved, Crabgrassed Asphalt Of America’s Backside, Also A War Of Slow Typists, None Of It Good

Landed Charles does not fill me with optimism about the typing test, my fitness for cubicle inclusion.  Even if I was to locate another vehicle to the test, how could I summon the composure to find the home row much less achieve 50 wpm, what I understood to be the minimum benchmark for definition as a modern man.  Perhaps if Charles weren’t so goddamn inert, I might manage 45 to 48 wpm.  His body’s present languor could easily rattle me into the sub-40 range, maybe lower.  I have heard legends about colonies of slow typists, their club-handed largo and its accompanying shame and stigmatization relegating them to monosyllabic, brawling lives in dips, margins, and behind suburban superstores.  I suspect I have seen these slow typists in my peripheral vision on several occasions and their entwined, twisting shadows gave me a surging agita not merely attributable to lunch at the food court.  It would be better to avoid the keyboard altogether than to meet it unprepared and be cast to a life scrambling for ranch dressing packets behind Kmart.

Diagnosis IX:  I’m Durable To A Point, But Let’s Locate Your Wallet

My porcelain birthright, due south of genetic advantage, can be credited with eroding my psyche into a chilly, windswept tundra that repels easy intrusion, further wound.  Such is one of the salutary effects of anomaly.  Just as the blind man savors his immunity to jury duty, I do not overlook the durability hard won by the bearing of a fine art scrotum.  The stall of Grieve, the flight and crash of Charles, however, are not easy intruders on my innermost tundra.  These are cocktail lobbing, arsonist hooligans on my tundra.  As cars burn into carcasses on the tundra, the heat born there initiates slow but steady glacial melt.  The melt builds into fjords and when the banks are insufficient there are waterfalls on my face.  For the second time in a half hour I taste my own salt.  My glaciers are, it seems, brackish.  Add this notion to the slow science of me.

I swell for her palladium of tropical calves.  The banana grove of her legs, though not roomy, would be just the fragrant redoubt I need.  Perhaps she can secret me until close of business and then I can utilize her ability to throw large shadows to darken my escape.  Once on the street I will maintain her shade until there is a sufficient mob.  Then I will release into the mob, allow it to tide me for several blocks, trust it to beach me well away from detection or until there is an appropriately generic theme bar where I can lap mahogany calmatives in the anonymity of denim-shorted, red-boiled Midwesterners. Later I will cull unguents and post them and my pregnant coffee card to her cubicle for thanks.  Though not contingency-proof, this is as good a plan as I can muster.

Scenario X:  Stickman Is The New Nosferatu, The Goats Of My Tundra Will Be Roused, Herded Skittish

My muster lacks.  The plan, at least it’s founding tenets, the first quill of it won’t muster.  I am going to have to re-muster.  Because contingency arrives upon the stairwell.  Actually he didn’t arrive.  He’s been there the whole time.  He’s been watching me from the wall, taunting me to look at him.  It’s the stick figure’s kin.  He resembles the other stickman in that he’s got the hypertorso and the abbreviated leg syndrome but he’s wearing a different face and a haircut where the other was bald.  This one has drawn a dickhead older brother set of mouth and a bulbous unit of hair that trends perm and is among the quickest ways to jerk up a stick figure.  He looks like the kind of pedant brother who puts on middle-aged airs and delivers unsolicited lectures about why your plain white T-shirt is hackneyed.  I experience a rush of empathy for the other stickman.  He would not have had it easy growing up with this crown of foam sidling up to the jam with smirks and nostrums.

Here he spooks the jam, sidles obstructionist, uses one of his hands to point out a “No Re-Entry On This Floor” dictum on the door to my aspired banana grove deliverance.  The dictum, though written, has a phantom auditory effect, playing in my brainpan as a line that clangs, awakes my goats.  There are goats on my tundra.  A high-altitude, liken gnawing herd of them.  This is, per the second stickman catalyst, yet another new discovery.  The last thirty minutes, though my worst by the magnitude of two murder-manslaughter jeopardies, are now officially a golden age of Duane-Sci. The atlas of me has thickened by several sections of technical prose, three annotated diagrams, and a bar chart.

In my present state of tundra insult these goats are vulnerable to the second stickman’s getting, his talent for herding.  He also tries to herd me, his other hand arrowing up the stairwell.  His hands, it should be remarked, are single lines, arrowed off at each end.  It gives the impression of two rappelling hooks. The potency of this stickman as a monster – genetic, aesthetic, attitudinal – belies his simple geometries.  This is a stick figure after all.  I am being gamed, galled by a one-dimensional drawing.  I would not like to meet the artist.  He or she is a far gone exemplar of this environment, incorrigible to the point of foregone, blistering purity. I am convinced the kyphote’s atelier abuts the howling sphincter of this building.  I envision an unbroken procession of inbred, Duane-seeking stickmen issuing from this unhappy caecum.  The stickmen cometh. The stickmen stoopeth, crawleth rather.  They crawleth to conquer Duane.

Video XI:  My Pane Of Cognizance Is Apt To Grow Legendary, Troubling

Overcome by spastic phobia of the army of disproportioned, Duane-adverse stickmen I palsy the latch, power my shoulder once, twice into the steel, cradling my porcelain from glancing.  The door is inviolate.  There is a window in the door, but the glass is rheumy, funhouse.  There are blobs, blots, elusive smears but nothing to compass the view. Is that my lady-conspirator or a bank of printers?  The waning foreign body in the upper left axis could be any of erasure dust, fly, or griffin.  The waxing blur there is telemarketer en route to toilet stall exultation or the vaunted jackalope.   It may be raining packing peanuts or excelsior.  Such is the anarchy of this pane.

A manila sun fixes into the square and slowly draws in.  It betrays properties of a face, but could be a hustle of refraction.  As I squint for reckoning, it rushes forward to be solved, to solve me.  The approximate face is an opaque stew of irregular gaps and densities.  It is the Easter of John Merrick and he will tattle.  Could it possibly be my buttered repo-matron?  Should I attempt to lip-sync a top three plea?  Help or help me or help me please?  Hand pidgin a scheme?  The milk-glass is a translation-poor medium and might alienate our fragile alliance.

Charcoal XII:  The Elephant She-Man’s Orgasm Or Imitation Of Orgasm May Be At My Expense

Painted lips cushion into the glass and come into startling relief.  It is not her.  These lips are soft and well candied where hers were no-nonsense and matte.  These lips are ecstatic and terrible.  Pleasured by an unknown source they mollusk across the glass trailing electric pink smudge.  Their good times can’t be trusted.  Their indulge insults my tough times.  The lips may rend and caterpillar happily in service of forces or agents determined to make me more unhappy.  There is a sucking black field between their margins that advertises neither teeth nor respiration.  Both absences are troubling. The lips’ face remains an inscrutable sump.  Despite the feminine lips it still traffics in the neighborhood of Merrick.  John Merrick has risen, toothless and perhaps transgendered, and found work as a white-collar accommodator.  His lips are beautiful and rapturous and may shortly be used to tell on me.

Another flight is called for.  If I stayed here long enough I may solve any number of legends be it griffin, jackalope or feminine John Merrick, but there isn’t time for proof or bunking of legends and proto-gimps who may or may not have resurrected with sexy, troubling lips.  My lam is calling.  That Charles remains down below in what is either a masterful playing of dead or his remains in every non-recreational, unbecoming of a pratfaller state of being, my lam is rising.

Animation XIII:  Groin, Bomb Of

As I rise from lump or performance of lump of Charles, slip the witness of lips, and put worrying distance between me and my accessory, duty phones.  The duty in question is one that, given my middle accessory, rings loudly and suffers no screening.  I am a special needs evacuator.  Militarily, urologically speaking, a weapons grade incontinent.  When my bladder, which is competent and unexceptional, attains term, there is, out of a previous condition of nap upon the exceptional section of me, an immediacy that humors no colonial.  Failure to evacuate in excess of several minutes and I fall victim to a hive of sensation that Duane, Volume I indexes as groin, bomb of.  There is the rapidly stoking heat, the excruciating, blown-glass like expansion of my art piece. There is the localized britch-bulging, the steam release, and the inner thigh contact burning.  All symptoms in countdown to detonation.  In lieu of these morbidities, taking the seat of eunuch inevitability, I orbit bathrooms, mission to them frequently, and on those occasions when such gravities fail, I am a zealous founder of toilets where none existed prior.  Toilet wildcatting for those with time bomb, fine art privates is risky, grant-worthy.

Diorama XIV:  If You Haven’t Gathered By Now, My Talent Merits A Living Audience, A Non-Stairwell

The present venue has only one audience member and he is one flight below and in no shape for a show.  Though I continue to root, with reservations, for the restoration of Charles to a groggy amnesia, I am glad for his continued inattentiveness.  There remains the threat of John-girl Merrick leading forth an oval of goons.  I rotate away from the pane below, felt my fingers, and unzip my simmering teapot, deliver it to gently to air.  The desert of this stairwell knows its first water.  It trickles and collects in the wide bay of my stance.  Even now I am not immune to my beauty.  Even as newly minted possible killer on the lam my eyes and brow release into rapture.  I empty my teapot according to its slow-pour design, playing it side to side so that it catches meek fluorescence, percolates it empyrean.  The stairwell becomes, for the moment, in fact for the first time since one of its snub-nosed masons sang a homesick, aorta-blowing rendition of Danny Boy, a setting for artistic maximum.

Choreography XV:  A Reunion First Charmed, Auspicious Then Deeply Sad, Tragic, All Of It Owing To A Lack Of Funds

The door below violates into the light show of my number one.  I look down with the face of someone greeting an aspiring rapist.  This face refreshes into that of someone joined in a stairwell by his Marcus Garvey quoting benefactor. I profess she is some kind of wonderful.  She informs that the cubicles are too hot for contrarians and that we must abscond to the roof.  She lumbers against the stairs, shielding her eyes from the blinding cathedral of my peeing.  My excitement is contained only by my desire to finish and cloak before her arrival.  I have shown my art to Chong only.  Dad came in a test tube, mom a casualty of my breech.  Chong curated them into maturity but never leaked.  Even during her stroke howls she stayed off topic.  My romances have never been durable beyond a posing of heads in styles meant to feign interest, costume the ambition to leave the smorgasbord, go home alone, execute a sober succession of solos.  I am no sell-out.  Both venue and audience are chief.  There resides in me a stubborn, if antiquated and grant-needing notion of artistic integrity.  Chong sang underground in red verse.  She was not popular but put fever in the ventricles of the knowing.  This is my standard.

Fortunately her obesity gives me plenty of time.  Punctuating her riot of oxygen debt are brief, sighing interludes in which I detect the first buds of reverence for the reflected talent of me.   I accede these moments of dulcet wheezing may be symptoms of her morbidity, but it is soothing to consider her my first fan.

I finish and hide my teapot.  She does not judge my puddle.  I brief her on my hurl of Charles.  She does not impugn the hurl or its corollaries. If she keeps this up it will soon be time for the third tendering of love in the history of Duane.  We lam together now, her wheezing, now grunting, me scouting for stickmen, occasionally dinging.  The duet of our retreat is not without melody.  It is evocative of much more than shared need.  Romance is in there somewhere, larval, but unmistakable.  I ask her if the Elephant She-Man works on her floor.  She does not register the reference.  I ask if a she-male with gorgeous lips and a face that could halt a convoy is present.  She refers to a woman with innertube lips who was promoted to replace Grieve.  There is no mention of a face grievous enough to sink battleships.  I consider a leading question about jackalopes but reserve it and griffin banter for our hypothetical first date.  I will suggest a diaspora restaurant where utensils are anathema.  Onto the brushfires of the heavily spiced food will be poured several beers.  We will toast Grieve, salute Charles’ assumption of soft-retardation and a demotion to the copy room.  Back at her place a re-fatting of her legs will graduate into a makeout session rivaling, in erotic frisson if not the fear of sniper fire, the Loving-Jeter doggie-styles below the window sills.

We do not make the roof.  We make it to the next landing.  Here there is a stickman apocalypse.  There are several arranged in a picnic scene.  They hover over a pit, spit-grilling one of their own babies.  Several hold cans of cheap domestic beer, smoke from glass bulbs.  One has his hook on his pregnant mate, a thought-bubble from his mouth reads “This one better be a boy.”  I surge with the desire to inhale Aeroflot contrails.

My tacit lady-love does not remark on the cannibal family picnic.  Perhaps because now the din of her climbing exceeds Concorde, bests Niagara.  Her acquisition of oxygen has become an overriding concern.  I query her well-being as she timbers into me like a chainsawed mature gingko.  Her lumber is heavy, Duane eclipsing.  One second I am upright, bodily intact, asking after my heavy breathing love interest, the next pinned fast to the landing, bodily spoilt, needing my no longer breathing love interest off of me.  I produce a bleating complaint that saddens even me.  It is the climactic, aneurysm-giving aria for the opera of Duane, Unfunded.

Aria XVI:  This Outrage Is Completely Preventable

This is, to the extent that I need monies, to the extent that this is a very poor season for arts funding, what a recent afternoon came to.   Just reading about it should inspire a getting out of your checks and a making out of a sustaining, high six-figured check or check series.  This will be no mere tax deduction.  It is a conception.  A deep-thrusting, moan-farming pledge to never let something like this happen again to an artist.  Yes my colossus of love and restitution is dead.  Of course I am damaged by her death timber, my ankles especially, they were timbered badly.  Indeed the stickmen laugh at my expense.  Sure my talent may never be the same.  I don’t see any obvious cracks, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.  At any time my talent could atomize, shards of fabulous privates hailing down my pant leg unto the floor of the city.  There they will be milled into detritus by the footfalls of hedge fund wives, their ugly, bored children.

There may be little consternation among boutique shoppers and their potato-faced, boring offspring about the death of art.  But the blithe consumer’s yawn is for the culture, the climate of living, the zip code in question, an immeasurable atrophy.  And when both the artist and his masterwork is nearly destroyed before it has lit the warming, contagious bonfires of creation, the world bleats.  Fund my porcelain privates and I will show you a shining that not only will obviate this high-pitched whining, but will bring nightly gales of pleasure to a jewelbox of assholes.

Doug Elsass’ work has appeared in Guernica and Gigantic.