The Fiction of Sound


A series inspired by publicist e-mails.

Math the Band, “Tour de Friends”
Tweakin’ freaky, Dave leaned hard on the buzzer, persistent, insistent, desperate. He knew Jill was home; her ghostly form paced upstairs behind a curtain tomb. Dissatisfied with her lack of response, not even a rumble down a flight for a crimson-faced what-the-fuck, he shoved a fistful of Teddy Grahams into his jungle-beard maw. They usually calmed him down — mems o’ ’80s mornings with his bros and sists, that lost tykedom before the overrated bullshit wallow called adulthood. Unfortunately, they didn’t work today. Within seconds he was barking volcanic epithets through sweetened mush, his head pounding with ancient New Wave loops. They scurried across his littered synapses like a rat-dance down the tenement tile he’d kissed that morning after sinking half the city into his arm.  “I know I got a problem, Jill!” he roared. “But fuck you your regal indifference!” He fired a vulgar gesture at the window and imagined it had the power to shatter enough glass to pierce her heart dead.

Ape School, “My Intention” (Yppah Remix)
Dave didn’t remember much after his finger-pistolero fantasy. He woke up in the park sometime around breakfast, a mist of dew clinging to his grimy features. Birds tweeted their disapproval. As did Jill, according to the hum in his pocket and the fusillade of textspeak that pried his eyes open. His head clanged with a dolorous peal, like a lost ship’s ballad in the fog. There was glass in his greasy hair, an unkempt diamond mine. Something had happened, enough to inspire fences of exclamation marks around an all-capped assault. Dave collected what remained of his humanity and responded.

@jill you can take my eyes ill still see what i see it isnt my intention to head off what has to be

He pressed “send” and the device buzzed almost instantly, as if shuddering from the impact. “U FUCKIN JUNKIE” came the reply, “U PUT A BRICK THRU MY WINDOW & ALMOST CRUSHED MITTENS.” Fucking Mittens. How she loved that downtrodden freak of an animal. She once told him that he and Mittens were kindred spirits — that’s what she loved most about her man and quietly jealous beast. To hurt Mittens was to only hurt himself. Dave pondered a tic, then blasted one last salvo. Mind at ease, he wiped the muck from his jeans and ached home down the cobblestone.

Darlings, “If This Is Love”
“Fuck! FuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckFUCK! FUCK!” Dave barked as the garage door kissed his foot. It boiled up in a phlegmy harrumph of pain and exhaustion. His pinky toe throbbed a while, but after a glass of Black Grape Kool-Aid, everything seemed swell, with at least a smidgen of fucked-up exposed to hope.

Voodeux, “Bones”
“Hittin’ the town,” Dr. Charlie said by way of prescription. “It’s the only way to get what was fucked fucked the fuck up.” He and Dave padded down an alley. Aluminum twisted and shivered in a distant junkyard wind. The sky poured itself a tall glass of sangria. “It’s our night!” the doctor hooted. “A night for the last of the true rhythm thugs!” They strutted purposefully toward the clubs to start some shit. Ghastly shells of lost beauty pawed at their coats in the dark. Everyone seemed to be dying for a taste of something. The deejay swiped with fury. Violet drooled down walls to caress the writhing shadows. Sneakers shrieked in banshee unity, vibrating through Charlie’s skull. His eyes spun in jackpot pain. “I can’t open my mouth,” he grunted. “No telling what I’ve invited in.” Dave understood and patted his partner on the back before weaving down a razor-lined corridor. Charlie watched his friend vanish and accidentally relaxed his jaw. As if summoned by God, an elephant slithered in and re-emerged, a butterfly.

Boogie Boarder, “Bio Hassle”
His heart thundering against his ribs like a tweaker on a buzzer, Dave steadied himself against the bathroom sink. Shit was clocking him like Ted fucking Williams. With quivering fins he made a cradle beneath the faucet, then splashed purity across his face. Opening his eyes he saw Jill at his side, wearing a smile that left a wailing trail of dead. She fixed his tie, the one he donned to assimilate with and mock the straights.

The public restroom crumbled to rubble and pipe; he was back in her apartment. Mittens regarded him suspiciously from atop a purr-warmed copy of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. “Here, fatso,” Jill smirked, offering him a tattoo of their mutual acrimony, “swallow this.” Dave did as he was told. The taste was surprisingly sweet. He smiled and moved to the living room, where he commenced to eat the couch. He followed with the flatscreen, her computer, her Joan Miro prints, her futon, her wicker, her bedspreads and drapes. He slurped the paint right off her walls. He ate her bookshelves, her books, her photographs. He put the refrigerator between two slices of desk and ate that too. Pretty soon he had devoured the entire apartment, leaving only Jill and Mittens and Being and Nothingness in a stunned void. Shocked by his gluttony, Dave rolled himself home.

Rainbow Arabia, “Omar K” (Max Justus Remix)
Jill scrawled quietly in her journal to the jut-jut putter of the Metro. A child toward the rear began to chant. Jill found the intrusion annoying at first, but then noticed the hypnotizing effect it had on her fellow commuters, their consciences visibly wandering private walled gardens. She watched the lips of her seatmate caress the same sentence on page A7 of the Los Angeles Times over and over again. She even read the line with him: “‘He’s dangerous,’ claimed the former Vice-President.” An elderly woman up front was the only one to reprimand the child. “This does not compute,” she sighed before resuming her embroidery: a hydrogen bomb powered by shame. Jill watched two teenaged girls giggle as they sent cheesecake photos of themselves to the mainframe, which chattered its approval and beamed them into the beyond.

The bus continued barreling down Santa Monica Boulevard, past West Hollywood, past North Hollywood, past Dave’s gorged vessel eating its way toward Silver Lake, never to return. “It’s funny,” Jill remarked to no one in particular, “how life works out sometimes.”

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