WHEN THE ACID SPLASHED.

There is nothing new— just those left behind. A metallic planetoid hovering over Los Angeles. Senseless pain inflicted on the citizens. Apparitions hiding out in small air-locks. Please send help. Dangerous animals inhaling intolerable oxygen. Beams of sleep— luxurious days. I see Tony ...  another apparition. He stands before me ...  on the edge of a cliff. He wears a black suit ...  black shoes ...  his hair is dark ...  glossy ...  wet. He has a smile on his face that is only for me. He stands on the edge of the cliff ...  waiting for me. I am afraid ...  truly afraid. This is me walking in the sea ...  I am done with you lot. Deep liquors imbibed beneath the sea tide. Loud voices from Hermosa Beach. I stand in a car park ...  a short distance away from the edge of the Pacific Ocean. I am alone ...  watching the waves ...  I am crying. The sky is clear ...  warm ...  there is nothing. My name written in silence. Tony on the streets— insane— absolutely raving insane. Hot raw gulps of food in his mouth. A yellow pencil stabbed into black hair. Fresh bread with a smattering of butter. Bad comedians— bad singers at the supper club. News flashes and national anthems. The stench of disinfectant the smoke swirling through the building’s windows. The smell and sound of coughing and wheezing ...  and sometimes screaming. The early hours of Thursday morning ...  November 13th was when the acid splashed in my eyes. Tony sipping some hot black coffee. He is wide awake. Fertile land on a rich planet. Ghosts from a great war. A new building. On the ground floor and above: offices. On the floor above and just above that: two large apartments with a communal area and a toilet. On the floor above: one apartment and a toilet. On the upper floor and above that: nine apartments ...  one of which is vacant. This part of the building is being renovated so that new owners can move into it. So ...  who are the owners? Hot clamp on a wax head— a waxen dummy— poisonous air over Los Angeles. The medical kit that is missing stay-wake tablets. Wearing your ass like a face mask. Drinking black coffee. Inside the crematorium: Crematorium chimney. Crematorium chimney in close-up. Crematorium chimney in close-up from the other side. The mortuary chapel. A close-up of the mortuary chapel. The coffins and the coffins lining the walls. The struggle to sleep at any stage— the shrill warning of an oncoming battle— wild body and grand gestures— the rescue ship— soft noises throughout the Port of Los Angeles. A view of the side windows in the crematorium. A view of the front of the crematorium. A view of the crematorium chimney. Close-up view of the crematorium chimney. A view of the fireplace in the crematorium. Close-up of the fireplace. A hand crept upon my body— a hand withdraw from the touch— apparitions every twenty-five minutes— the bleary vortex of bodily functions. An evening coffee— candle flame— human skin stretch on racks in a long hall. I’m smoking cigarettes in the dim corners. A view of the crematorium from the crematorium car park. A view of the crematorium from one of the side windows. A view of the entrance gates to the crematorium. The letterbox for the crematorium gates. A sign that warns people not to litter. Screams from behind doors. Westwood mansions with reading rooms— I take a deep breath. I can’t breathe— my long-dormant muscles— little air getting into my lungs— it is autumn— the vast forest of Los Padres. The air seems heavier. It is cold and grey. It is hard to decide which is real and which is not. A man stands in the doorway. The figure seems thin, and his face is tired. It is an apparition again. He watches me. He will not look away. When I look at him ...  I find his eyes are like glass. The wind and the grey. I turn and run. I walk through the rain and down the street towards my apartment. A new apartment complex is at the end of the street. I have never seen an apartment complex like it before. My neighbours have moved in. Two young mothers and their babies. They live on the third floor. Little air for me to breathe. Crying in bed as the sun came up over Los Angeles. 28 August 1976. I can’t understand what Tony is saying to me. It doesn’t matter. He shows me the bloodstained body bag. I can’t sleep. I sit on the balcony looking down into Los Angeles. My thoughts and tears can’t stop. Someone knocked on the door. I am afraid. My body ached— as it always did in the early morning. I hated school. I really hated it. I had been doing okay. I didn't mind it in the beginning. Well— that's not quite right. I didn't mind it in the beginning when I was on meds. I never did graduate from college. I only got my B.A. in sociology. I can’t remember my name. Body on a cool stone surface. Slow illuminations on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Raw earth— poplar trees— flat bricks buried on Brentwood Glen. The President was in New York City on Wednesday night to attend the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I sat here in Los Angeles watching it on TV. The air pollution in New York City was terrible. I spent endless weeks building myself a coffin. Cold spades digging up ancient bodies. Coffin lids discarded across Bel Air Estates. I pass houses where everyone stands out on the street ...  their faces are wrinkled ...  old apples. The door of the houses  stand open. I go inside one of the houses. There are empty bottles and glasses all over the floor. A small group of humans sit in the middle of the room ...  hunched over the table. None of them look up. A plume of polluted steam. The antiseptic age of Mid-Wilshire— foolish and sterile— corpses and crop circles and the new violence of a future world. This is dead man’s knowledge. No trees. No grass. Nothing. A vast concrete structure in the middle of a corn field. It’s a factory that has been designed to deal with only one product: human waste. I walk away from the smokestack with a feeling of regret. The sky above Los Angeles is dark ...  the rivers of California are greedy ...  they smell like sewage. I walk past some brick villas ...  the names of the owners written in gold lettering on the mailboxes. I hold a gigantic pistol. Superstitions on my mind. I was taking the back road into town— trying to find a tree that I could hit at high speed. I look in the mirror ...  my deep blue eyes. I see everything ...  further apparitions. I see how little I deserve to live. There is no more affection for each other. We have no more screens to share. The wind is strong. It howls inside the apartment. Tony opens the fridge ...  he holds up three cans of beer. I am afraid of alcohol. Afraid of my liver. I am too young for cancer. I have no body or physical problems. This is all my body knows. The incinerators of Echo Park and El Sereno— grisly fumes— unhealthy stenches— reminiscent of Salem— steam shovels and the evacuation of Beverlywood. I was sitting in my kitchen ...  with my cup of coffee ...  smoking Kools. I looked outside ...  someone is standing there. This person was not me. I have never been someone who lives in a world that does not move. This experience was a new experience ...  another apparition ...  when I walk into rooms ...  I do not expect them to be there ...  but they are. This apparition disappears. Graveyard on our right— graveyards in Griffith Park— dug up by government order. Leafy grey ashes from the incinerator flue. I lean against a heavy brick wall. I can see the cold stars above. My cold hands— the incinerators— the people inside them— an entire world inside them— footsteps. Ancient clothing torn apart by a small pocketknife. I wear a dark suit— bought from a haberdashery store in Little Italy. We were born of the sun so that we could return to the sun.

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Shane Jesse Christmass

@sjxsjc