Mike Tyson (but not the famous one)
My Dear Unfamous Mike,
We approach the center of things now, in this tripartite tale.
One of the things that Detective Tichy had said to me at the very opening of our tale, a thing he uttered to himself actually as he stared deep into his mug of spirits and I feigned (or perhaps actually) slept, was this:
"It's all a matter of applicating a little bit o' reason, and a judiciousical amount o' force."
He held up his rightern man-paw in an open palm and said, "Reason," and then held aloft the sinister appendage, his leftern hand in a fist, and he said, "Force." Then he shook his head and said, "Maybe i's tha other way around?"
And it is with this dictum in mind that we enter back into the heart of our tale. Cousin Albert is missing and we three, the Squid, the Detective and the Trained Monkey, stand at the back door of a stationer's shop, faced with a dazed and drugged mulatto reading from the twisted non-Euclidean beatings of poetry from that crazed man-mind, The Writer.
". . . [T]here was a prodigious amount of blood leaking from the mulatto's ears, soaking into his shirtsleevesbut at the mention of the book the mulatto's head snapped up, and his heavy-lidded eyes laid a hellish fire upon us, and from his mouth came a sound, a noisome and ancient spectrum that, simply put, absolutely defied the linguistic limits of description imposed by the thin match sticks and shallow slashes of this typography."
And now, as in the past, and as with the future, the mouth of the mulatto did gape, and from it unfolded (unfolds, shall unfold) an undulating black speech as would erupt from the mouth of the devil himself, and as the haze of the sound filled the space between all four of us, there unfolded from his mouth great gouts of suit wool and cotton, thread and yarn and finally scissors and needles and chalk. The tailors of the damned had taken up residence in this devil's mouth, and the blackness of the sound was made manifest in great bolts of fabric unspooling onto the entryway into the cavernous building behind the stationers.
Reason and force converged on the point of Tichy's knuckle as it connected with the slack jaw of the screaming, bleeding, mad mulatto who stood astride the threshold of this twisted palace of language.
The creature fell to the ground like a ton of shellacked feathers. All black. The pin feathers scattered across the ground like the broken shells of a thousand scarabs. The shells closed against one another with definitive clacks, and the beetles scurried away from the light, merging with the shadow, the shadow itself pulling away, but it was not replaced by encroaching light, but instead left behind an impenetrable nothingness.
In the end, all that was left of the man were a thousand disembodied needle tracks describing the contorted path of his twisted arms.
Tichy lead the way up the spiraled stair case, which I found devilish in my velocitating suit, whose chromed legs and pincers slid and clamored upon the treads. Tichy let good-right hook, Reason, slide along the wilting green wallpaper, while methodically pounding the opposing wall with Force to announce our arrival.
As I ascended the stairs, our primate companion scampered about, across the top of my suit, betwixt Tichy's legs, and eventually he was lost in the greenish sagging gloom.
Pound pound pound, announced Force. Swish, sish, slish, whispered Reason.
"I tell ya, Squiddo, I like coming to the climax of a tale, you know?"
He and I peered up into the looming leer of the shadowy staircase, the wallpaper crumpling down against the floor, dangling away from the white crumbling plaster in strips, the lights flickering, the floor whining beneath my weight.
"It's just you an' tha end o' the hall, right? Just you an the finishin' line, right?"
pound, pound, pound, swish, sish, slish.
We ascended the stairs, and from above, in the darkness, we heard scritching, and then slow slow ticking, and finally the primate hoot and scream of a tiny ape.
Our pace quickened.
"Life's all just paths, right? We're jus' bloodhounds, people are. Jus' sniffing our way from crotch to crotch, and then on to the right trail again. Ain't no choice, really, we just either get to choose our path, or have it chose for us, right? But the path, she's just a bitch on the ground, made afore Methuselah was young. Baked in the cake, my maw sez. We follow it cause it's there, cause we got a nose. Nosehound."
There was a struggle ahead, and we continued up and up and up, faster and faster, though the stairs swayed, and the plaster walls crumbled into a cloud of dust, and the pounding continued, the swishing continued.
"Ain't no forks in the path, Squiddo. Always a god damn straight line!
And with that, Tichy hurled himself up into the shadows, beyond the fluttering remnants of the green wall paper, into what I can only described as the outstretched arms of red Indians painted on the unwinding bolt of time's canvas. Their war paint was glistening red and black, and their teeth were shining like the hides of beetles in their bloody mouths. And when their mouths gaped, out poured the sickening black speech of knives and stitching.
And with my last thrusting step, the point of my velocitating leg pierced finally the rotting timber of the stair case and I plummeted for what must have been an hour, or a minute, into unreachable blackness.
I crumpled against the ground, and heard the last tock of ticking unwind. I lit my electric torch and surveyed the scene.
Illuminated, caught in the light, was the crumpled clockwork of Cousin Albert's velocitating suit, Albert himself trapped within the antibathyspheric dome, helplessly scrabbling against the glass, his tiny simian companion towering above him.
Beyond, at a writing desk, sat the hunched and sweating Jew—the best mind of his generation, destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked—known to me as such by his be-kinked hair, sallow skin, and his obvious penchant for detail oriented, anti-linear perseverating, as witnessed by the unfurling mass of black text he inscribed in a deep and endless notebook.
From out of the book, I could sense though not see, the entire vast embracing world view of post-war Modernity.
Tichy walked on, ever closer to the ever-residing vanishing point where the Jew crouched and scribbled, ever shrinking ever whirling the twin-nunchaku of Reason and Force, like spinning blades, as he resided into the vast distance within the Jew, ever shrinking and tearing, burrowing into the Semitic and ill-fated liver, destined to be victorious, but only at 27 years remove. Then the detective was gone, falling still, forever, having walked all the way to the end of his path, having been lead there by the tip of his nose, one proposition after another, an endless string of ergos and sums, interrupted only briefly by fist-fights and swordplay, culminating in a billion train freight cars stacked full of bodies, all passing through a great shining gate into the endlessly detonating inferno at the atomic heart of the sun.
And all that was left to me was the mad Jew, who wrote and wrote and wrote, and with his words he unstuck us all from time, and each square inch of the basement of the stationer's shop (for surely, by reason, where else could we be) was itself unfolding into a cube, and then a tesseract of shining truth, and within each upright unfolded cube, there hung a tiny crucified man.
And each tiny martyred action figure was the star of his own blockbuster film showing at the cinematech of a different possible world. And each world was described by the quantum state of a different particle.
And in every world there was popcorn.
The Writer flipped madly through his notebook, inscribing missive after missive, and with each new incantation, another tesseracted man appeared, filling the space denser and more densely with karate chops and over-emphasized groans of exertion.
And for a moment, I could see one missive over his shoulder, refracted through the lens of his heavy black horn-rimmed glasses:
Chuck Norris once ate an entire ream of rice paper and shat out origami swans and Mister Miyagi from Karate Kid.
And with that, all of the tesseracts merged together, and a great and powerful blonde haired, blue eyed man was presented to me, ethereal and yet firm and strong. He hovered above my crumpled up cousin.
The man was the collapsing of all things linear into a single form.
The room was filled with ten thousand karate chops, and we were all defeated in a manner outside of time's own ability to measure.
And the man smiled. And he said, "Art is the tree of life. Knowledge is the tree of death."
And I was bidden by the moment to enunciate this reply: "DID HE WHO MADE THE LAMB MAKE THEE?"
The blonde, bearded, karate-chopping avatar paused and grinned slyly, "I hope I didn't shit on anyone's birthday cake."
And the room was as black as sackcloth. And I saw that in the future, the Writer would die: Cancer, conjured by a tiny and vengeful Tichy, would unfolded in the Writer's liver, the cells dividing and dividing and dividing, following the Force of their logical Reasoned course, unstopped by any mercy. The cancer proceeded from proposition to proposition, unchecked and unhindered.
The Writer would die, but the mustachioed man with a fist for a heart would live on, eternal, a jump-kicking and deathless Christ.
After the moment had passed, we all returned to our bodies, and the world was returned to us.
Cousin Albert's monkey carefully wound him back up, and Cousin Albert rose on legs, as quaking as a fawns.
"Do you think," Cousin Albert asked, "that the cop meant to set Tichy up like that?"
I thought about it, but determined that I thought not. "AS UNLIKELY AS IT SOUNDS, I BELIEVE THAT WAS SIMPLY A HAPPY COINCIDENCE."
There were questions yet to be answered, problems yet to be solved, but as we stumbled out into the morning light, through the shaded alleyway and back onto the streets of our fair city, it was brokered between us, a peace of silence which might allow our minds to be stilled, and for our hearts to re-open.
This then, was our way back into the World of Things:
I Remain Faithfully,
Your Giant Squid
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson