I'm strangely drawn to you; your electronic presence has, dare I say it, caused me to reconsider my position on romantic interludes with multi-appendaged creatures of the deep. My position now is that there are many intriguing positions that come to mind. Name the weekend and body of water, and I'm there.
It was this Sunday past, during a brief and sunny break in the MichiMay showers—which I am told, anachronistically have broughten the April flowers—that I sat in my mobile dooryard with my young neighbor Trael. He sat upon a "milk crate" (although how the milk is produced from the crate is unknown to—even unimagined by—me) and betwixt us sat, atop an up-ended waste-paper can of the "office" style, the checkered board. As ever, Trael wore his brown knit cap pulled low on his ears—although this was well advised by the climate of the day: 50-some degrees of Herr Doktor Fahrenheit, our garden's large, round, plastic, duck-bedecked thermometer did indicate—and sat with elbows to knees and hands to chin as he meditated upon the diachromatic field of battle.
Let me tell you, without shame, that I was being thoroughly trounced in this quaintly two-dimensional fray. When one is accustomed, by long life experience and evolution herself, to battles of three-dimensional parry and thrust, the pivot, pitch and yaw of escape, the dive and rise of attack, limiting your notion of battle to a vast and graceful simplification, the pure and rarified lines of movement, vectors limited and direct and linear yet all the more important for their limitations—well, to put it simply, it is like and unto a curious form of boxing which is itself also the writing of poetical haikus. It is grace and beauty most sublime. And it is very, very difficult.
His small, fine hand gripped his plasticine checker-disk and slid it, cattywise, to my edge of the board. "King me, Mr. President Squid." I groaned internally, knowing the savage toll Trael's king would take upon my brave little red soldiers, like a locust swarming across a field of grain, or Russian soldiers charging across the frozen April soils of Eastern Poland, hopping over cowering Nazis like a sickle reaving sheaves of grain.
Trael is a boy, brown and stoical as a little hawthorne bush. It is not like him to betray of the emotions human, either subsequent to a windfall or a defeat, his is the icy-cool of the master, so when he happened to glance up as I was placing his one checker, brokeback-mounted to the other, and I saw a look of round-eyed surprise surface on his visage, I was snared in that moment as surely as a fly is in a spiders nest. What enemy might approach, from my behind, to elicit such spotlighted panic in the boy?
A hand did slam against my velocitator's anti-bathosphere's glass dome. I twisted and jerked away in panic, toward Trael, jostling the checkered board, although thankfully not dislodging a single checker disk.
It was my dear Hazel's hand, slapped and pressed full-palm against the glass, and clutching something pale and flapping.
"Just what is this?" She yelled, her auburn hair a blazing, writhing fury like flames engulfing an orphanage, or perhaps like a rain of snakes upon a preschool, "Just what in the hell is this?!?"
It was paper, I saw this much to be truthful. "It is paper," I said, and then noting it was printed upon, and the nature of the formatting of this printing, I expanded, "It is seemingly the mail electroníque, delivered by the invisible and Santa-swift electro-mailman. I have not yet succeeded in catching him," I winked my optically perfect eye at Trael to signify the jest I was making, "but his days are indeed numbering close."
It was seemingly your mail electroníque, Erato. Delivered by the treacherous and conniving electro-Mailman known only as "Yahoo".
"Seemingly the mail electroníque" Hazel did sneer upon me, mouth drawn into a terrible anti-rictus—not so much the opposite of smile, but rather the opposite of expression itself—like the door of a private postal box, and rendering her voice high and whinging and comical—which is much the opposite of my own plangent, vocoded voice, but I understood from context that it was to be a parody of my own self. This was conveyed by Hazel's waving her arms about tentacle-like, and opening her eyes the widest. I found her devilishly attractive in this terrible moment. "Seemingly the mail electroníque," she repeated, pulling the paper a-back so that she might view of it as though it were an objet newly discovered and never a-fore seen to her. "Seemingly the mail electroníque! What might it say unto me? Oh yes and thusly does it ergo sum, thee little missive electronical and bold: 'Dear Sir' "—and now her voice became like some strange parody of her own, husky and low, a voice that filled me with terror, for somehow it was the aural equivalent of the inks a female might release into the waters just prior to engaging with the sex that, all too late, one discovers to be a cannibal's scheme for easy-caught, blood-engorged and testosterone-tenderized meat. It was—I swear to you—a voice so potent in its smooth low frequency wash that it rendered me temporarily part-blind with its effect, and full-on mortified with mortal terror, "Dear Sir," she read in this voice, the voice of a sexually promiscuous cupie doll armed with razors and needles in its tiny hands, dentata sharp behind the lacy hems of its little ruffled skirt, "I'm strangely drawn to you . . . your electronic presence has, dare I say it, caused me to reconsider my position on romantic interludes with multi-appendaged creatures of the deep. My position now . . . "she batted of the eyes, like a moyl's scissors snicking in the air over a tiny newborn male member, "Is that there are many intriguing positions that come to mind. Name the weekend and body of water, and I'm there," and her demeanor dropped back to rage, like the flames of an inferno falling back only to charge forth as an incinerating backdraft—which came as her tiny hand again slamming into my dome's glass, "smooch-smooch-smooch your goddamn girrrrl-friend ERATO!" She stepped back, stomped her foot, crumpled the paper and threw it at me, at my bathosphere's dome. It bounced off and landed at the toe of Trael's sneaker.
Trael, to his credit, is stolid and unpuckish, wise in his silence. As a male in a world of such archetuthically incenseable females, he might well live long. He stared fixedly at his checkered board, no doubt planning moves upon moves into the future. Surely this, then, is the secret to his success at the gaming.
Hazel stood, facing me, her legs stiff, her arms stiff to her sides, leaning forward, eyes alight with the rage-fire, hair dancing about her head hypnotically—frankly, the similarity of her stance and that of a squidly female's Shards of Basalt posture-of-assault was uncanny.
"Whaddya have to say about that. Hon?" this last word, though understood to be interrogative, fell from her mouth like and unto a cinderblock dropped from atop a garage onto a kitten. There was finality to it.
I reached with my velocitator's gripping claw, gingerly lifted of the paper crumple, and flattened it against my dome's glass. I looked upon the words.
"Your reading is accurate and stirring?" I hazarded.
I frustrated grunt-scream escaped her lips, and she stomped again.
"You dirty fucking cock! What is it!?! Who is this?"
Had I brows, I would have stitched them. Had I shoulders, I might have shrugged them. Thankfully, I lacked both—I have since learned that either might well have meant death in that moment.
"This is a petition, and it is from Erato."
The notion had finally dawned upon me that I had entered into some manner of a test, profound and labyrinthine, and I really had no notion where I stood in that maze, or upon what grade of ground, and that ground was crumbling, and the labyrinth's walls tumbling in upon me, and I knew not the redress.
"And whaddya plan to do with this little petition. Hon?"
I heard, from Trael, the slightest groan, and tossing a glance back saw that he had lowered his stocking-capped head into his hands, shaking it in pity and disgust. Looking back to Hazel, I did see her face red with rage—a chromatic display common to all species? I know not. Common, at least, to man and squid. Her mouth opened and closes several times, baring her teeth threateningly.
"Fine!" She shouted, "Dandy! Why don't you and your little slut just go fuck 'til she busts a damn seam, you limp shitsack!"
"She?" I asked, perplexed, "The signatorio is Erato, dear Hazel—"
"Don't you 'Dear Hazel' me! My name is fucking Melissa!"
"—and as such, my familiarity Romantíque"—an inopportune word-choice, to be sure—"Which is to say with the Romance languages" I hurriedly added, "Leads me to believe that Erato, thus, must be male. Much unto like the Roman Philosopher of oldentimes long since gone."
Hazel paused, and the glow of flame about her dimmed somewhat. Her eyes left my chassis for the first time since she had appeared in this garden yard, and darted to Trael.
"This note is from a . . . guy?"
On tenterhooks I approached the conversation, an opening so small that not even a breath could escape had materialized in this labyrinth I walked, and I hesitated lest I destroy my one opportunity for solace and succor. "Melissa, I can only surmise that the writer of this electronic mail is a man, for this is the first I have seen of this mail. I cannot enter your home," I gestured slowly to indicate my immensity, "so Trael and his brother Jarwaun has been printing off the emails for me to read out here in the dirt yard. There were a great many this week, so we decided to play the checkered game while the tiny printer carried the burden of my missives."
"So . . ."
"I had not seen this mail. I do not know this man, this Erato. And I have no intention of Ron-Day-Viewing with strange men in the fecal-infested lakes hereabouts." I could see my words were working, and the terrible anger was leaving her as she realized the error. "We are together, my dear Hazel. I seek no one else."
Hazel glanced again at Trael, who nodded imperceptibly and then walked away on his tiny legs.
"Oh Shug, I'm sorry. It's just that, y'know, you were the President and now here you are with me, in all my glory." She gestured at her tattered shirt, the dusty ground beneath her and the tin Shack of Gardening wherein I reside these nights. A smile fought with tears that now rolled down her cheeks freely. A bright flush of colored infused her pallid skin.
"Yes, Hazel, in all of your glory."
I am no stranger to misunderstandings, Dear Readers. At times I do believe they are my primary form of communication with your species. And as so many of you have been patient with me—especially my dear Rob—so shall I endeavor to be patient with you.
Trael returned later in the day, to finish our checkering. I sat back down, and looked upon the checkering board. I had seven pieces left.
"Our pops plays a CD where the guy singing says a Woman is a Sometimes thing."
I nodded, but had naught to say. I lifted your letter, Erato, and looked upon it. Trael looked at the board.
"Now that I'm king-ed . . . it don't really matter what piece you move; I can clear the board on the next move." He traced his finger over the board, marking out the several different paths his king might take, and the permutations of these, and it was clear that it was the case. All was lost for me.
There was a time—it was years ago, but it was still a time, halcyon in memory—when I could see all of the angles and all of the vectors, could take them in a single, optically-perfect glance, and track them with my enormous mind, and it was like knowing everything, at once, as I could see the patterns of the several paths of every movement of everything. Days when I lived high atop a tower of glass and steel in the sky, and worried of little, and knew much, and was hidden and obscure of the world.
This, it seemed, was a very long time ago.
"I miss my lab, Trael." I did say, apropos of nothing, and surprising even myself with the utterance.
"I miss my mom, Mr. President Squid."
I nodded of the headsac sagely, "Our nostalgia and melancholia do bind us as surely as the yoke wedding one ox to his burden-mate."
I shifted one of my red disks, perhaps despite the futility of the gesture, or perhaps because of it, in honor of it, and Trael set his king in motion, and I was finished, and he left, and I was alone, and if I tuned my aural monitors sharply, I could hear Hazel's sobs within the trailer mobile in which she dwelt, but I chose not to.
Instead I gazed upon your letter, Erato. In reference to my column of several month's past, it appears venerable Hokusai has "beaten us to the punchin' it" as my erstwhile assistant,Rob, might have coined it, if he had not abandoned me to my squalor, my drudgery, and my hearts-breaking.
Nonetheless, the weekend I name is Never, Erato, and the body of water is the River Styx.
Your Giant Squid
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson