Thursday, November 28, 2013

An Adjacent Room

 photo montage by aleXander hirka - click on image to enlarge


An Adjacent Room ~ by T. Remington

      When Trixie rented 340-19 North End, she was just happy to get away from two pill head roommates and an unhousebroken French bulldog named Bijou. On the sunny, late autumn day that she looked it over, she convinced herself that this one room would work. Anything would.
      By February, with gray and wet and cold in every direction, she’s having her doubts. She can’t quite put her finger on it but there’s something a little off about this building. It’s hard to work here. Daydreaming, though, is easy.
      She pulls up another file, syncs it and gets back to it. Everyone thinks that working from home is such a picnic. Long after quitting time for “everyone”, Trixie is still grinding away. Her clients don’t care how long the work takes and her landlord doesn’t care that she’s developing repetitive motion injuries from hour after hour of mousing through documents. Her mother doesn’t care that Sunday is her only day to sleep late and read trash.
      Late one night in March, Trixie suddenly realizes that someone in the next apartment is scratching, tapping at the adjoining wall. She’s adjusting to life here and actually didn’t go to her mother’s twice this month. The client extended the project and has even paid her a bonus and a compliment. Idly, Trixie finds herself tapping back. No response and she goes back to work.
      Half an hour later there’s a single tap and silence. Trixie is about done for the night and waits, coiled and ready. Nothing. Sirens outside. She saves her work, closes the program and TAP. In unsuspected fury, she slams the side of her closed fist into the wall. She goes to bed with a small, mean sense of satisfaction.
      A month later spring has shoved the stubborn, dirty winter aside, Trixie is coming down the hallway, carrying groceries. A sudden spike of curiosity has her pause at the neighboring door. 340-17. Closed and common. She knocks. She has no idea what she’s going to say if anyone answers. Which they don’t. So she knocks harder.
      “What do you want with the cripple?” a door opens on the other side of the hallway and a voice without a visible owner barks at Trixie’s back.
      Trixie does not turn. She’s listening. Has she imagined that tapping? The helpful neighbor grunts and closes her door. How long is she going to stand here? A dark, stray impulse has her try the door and it’s not locked. She pushes the door open and walks in.
      Here’s where anything could happen; a pivot moment when what we agree is reality plays one of its little tricks. Wherever we live, we are surrounded by walls. And on either side of many of these walls there is a room. Two rooms, side by side. Here, in this particular building, there are two women, one in each room. One works. One listens. Now one is going off script and the other wonders what took her so long.
      The room is lighter than Trixie expected and the woman in the wheelchair over by their shared wall is smiling. There is a canary in a fancy little cage by the window. Books are everywhere. A worn oriental rug has oddly bright bits of crimson that leap out from the beiged out patterns. The room smells good and music, Chopin?, lilts quietly in the background.
      “You work a lot.” The woman wheels herself away from their wall, closing a book and setting it on a stack of others.
      Trixie walks into the room, leaving the door open and goes over to that wall. She scans it up and down, then puts her fingers on what she thinks is the spot and taps. The wall feels warm and seems to give a little. The warm spreads into Trixie’s fingers and goes up into her wrist. She frowns and taps harder. The warm goes hot and there’s a sense of approval coming from the woman in the wheelchair.
      She turns away from the wall and the two women face each other through the clear expanse of a different kind of wall. Suspicion faces serenity and suspicion walks away thinking it’s won.
      Back in her room, Trixie puts the groceries away and gets to work. She’s not thinking because there’s nothing to think about. Her wrist doesn’t hurt, but that’s nothing to think about either. The tapping never comes again. Once in awhile Trixie will put the flat of her hand on their wall, a wall that is never warm and never gives a little. Somewhere among the dead megabytes of data that she coordinates, living words sneak in. Late at night, she finds herself writing stories and occasionally touching the wall. For some reason she begins submitting her stories and is surprised when some get published.
      There is a wall. On each side of the wall there is a room. Each room has been occupied many times over by many people. A wall can be a barrier or a conduit. Once in awhile it’s possible for a gift to be offered through that conduit. Some ignore the gift, some squander it and some few submerge themselves deeply, bringing back to the surface gifts of their own to share. From either side of some very select walls a richer world rises on a new morning to bless the givers.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Patron

   photo montage by aleXander hirka - click on image to enlarge


The Patron ~ by T. Remington
      When the fever is on, Distance doesn’t go in to work. Gladys knew this before she moved in, but back when she had her own place, it was simply further evidence of how dedicated Distance was to her art. Gladys remembers now how it seemed that that eccentric and fascinating artsy woman seemed to move a lot. Gladys had moved exactly once since coming to the city after school: in with Distance.
      Now she rises wearily, glances in at the flurry in the studio and pours coffee. She decides not to say anything to Distance about that guy who was here last week saying he represented an investor; the one who took some photos and left his business card.
      Distance Blue knows she’ll be the most influential painter of the decade and just hopes Gladys sticks around to keep the rent paid until the big break hits. Still, she hates the concessions required. Gladys always expects a kiss when she leaves for that shit job downtown and then the sex. Distance determines that she’s got to set a boundary there and reaches for a smaller brush.

Word. Word. Two words. A sentence. No, not that word. That paragraph makes no sense here. Andy has perfected his system of typed pages cut out and stapled together in the sequences that work. That fancy ass computer that his sister sent sits in the corner, covered and ignored. The stack of stapled chapter nine is just about right; tonight he’ll start the first rewrite. First though there are six briefs to proof and he probably should have something to eat. 
      When his first book was published, he was over the moon. At last! Now he looks over at the bottom shelf of his bookcase to count sixteen solid, squatty blue copies of “One Into The Next”. He won’t be hearing from that publisher again he supposes and what a surprise that his agent doesn’t return his calls. 
       He wonders about that odd conversation he had with that guy last week, the one who caught some of the pages Andy had dropped on the train. The guy struck Andy as someone who actually read books.

Maxwell hates that term angel investor, but sitting across the desk from another eager dreamer, he supposes there are worse things to be in this life. This kid, though, there’s nothing to work with here. The plans are not well presented and the guy has obviously not thought this idea through. He’s got a germ of something here, but like too many of the other hungry schemers that find Maxwell, the kid thinks all he has to do is seduce the guy with the money and he’s on his way. 
      It’s a drag to say no, but Maxwell has his other investments to consider and some of them are on the verge of paying off. Those are the ones he needs to nurture and bring along. He’s also got a couple of potential prospects that his nose to the ground, Sidney, has sniffed out. He opens Sid’s folder and shuffles through the documentation, pausing to size up the work. There are excerpts from what is going to be one hell of a novel if it gets a chance, but judging from these photos of finished and half finished paintings someone is barking at the moon.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Our Or Boros

   photo montage by aleXander hirka - click on image to enlarge


Our Or Boros ~ by T. Remington
     Cyrus doesn’t even open her mouth until she’s considered the consequences. How long? A year? A millennium? It’s all the same to Cyrus, still she’s not to keen to rush this. All is writhing chaos in every direction and the violence of erupting volcanoes and slamming tectonic plates have become a bit much. When she first twists around one full turn and brings all into existence, her first ever experience is one of delight. Well, look at this, would you?
    Clots of magnetically charged dust coalesce into masses that are pulled into globes that begin to spin in an intricate new dance, sort of but not quite obeying unacknowledged laws that confound even Cyrus. She floats amidst the new planets and marvels as some fire up into engines that emit light and heat, influencing the dance and complicating things for the dark globes, the ones that don’t spark into stars.
    Not one to see or even care about details, Cyrus is content to suspend herself and let the vast process do what it will. Small amusing frictions build up momentum and new levels of disruption arise and replicate themselves up and down the cosmic scale where there had once been endless dark and limitless silence. What is birth but a rending of matter? 
     Each planet convulses itself and each star punishes anything that strays too close. Brilliance and bombast and the unmoored screeching of split apart atoms racket along Cyrus’ elongated neural pathways and it becomes difficult to differentiate the creator from the created. Who’s running this show anyway?
    Cyrus becomes restless and irritated. Just as she focuses on a particularly lovely pillar of cloud that is jettisoning newly spun stars some comet comes ripping through asteroid fields, smashing and gathering at the same time.
    In vast concentric waves, this whole process is repeating itself with established stars casting unshadowed light for the new ones to attempt to ape and dark, shuddering planets to cluster about, confused and jockeying for good slots. At some far and unfathomable fringe, Cyrus’ turn has lost none of its ferocious energy. Inertia, not yet invited to the party, hasn’t yet asserted its indomitable sway and the chaos continues exploding in every direction.
    Cyrus begins to ponder what another turn, in the other direction, might set into motion. Can all this be reversed and, if so, does she really want that? Up through a valley created by the formation of two new solar systems, comes something new and utterly unexpected yet somehow tantalizingly familiar. Carelessly knocking the struggling solar systems out of kilter, Cyrus swings around in a large arc to investigate. Only recently has she become aware of her own form amidst the violence, none of which is more than a satisfying itch and all of which delineates where she ends and her creation begins.
    And so, what have we here? It’s deserving of serious investigation followed by long consideration of what to do next. As galaxies gain their foothold and the suggestions of gravity groove into shaky and constantly edited laws, Cyrus takes great delight in swimming around to bring that joyous tail into sight and then whipping it out in long, terrible sweeps that crush and reform trembling new star systems.
    At every other level of perception, what was happening is catastrophic. For Cyrus, it is all fun and games. Somewhere out there in some quickly dissipated pool of melting black methane ice, a frantic scream for help goes up. And then another. And another. A rising chorus of protest and supplication sifts up through the smashing convulsions. Even Cyrus begins to hear it and it grates terribly.
    In an attempt to evade the insistent whining, she takes to long cruises up and down and to the furthest frontiers of her majestically unfolding universe. But she only gets so far when the temptation of her tail returns and she finds herself doing long, lazy spins, admiring the grace and reaching to brush her face against the tip. Just as she’s on the cusp of some action, the shrieking of pre-sentient life finds her and off she goes again, violating all the struggling new laws of physics as she tears through the cosmos.
    It’s not that she gets tired exactly but boredom is truly universal and there comes a time when all this charging up and down and over and under just isn’t that much fun anymore. The demands of mitochondrial dna gathering in a hundred trillion patches of methane will not be denied. She slows at last and drifts for another several millennia, simply listening and observing. The laws that are trying to assert themselves are being constantly undermined by the inexorable push of all matter outward and in the midst of the maelstrom, the tiny and determined bits of what will become living, breathing, eating, fucking, shitting, lying, thinking, hunting, planning, designing, building, brick-laying, harvesting, needing, giving, warning, dancing, scratching, confusing beings strive to gain a foothold.
    As the whine crescendos up and withers down, Cyrus slides through the burgeoning universe in enormous circular spins, keeping that tail in sight and ponders an action that could have enormous and irreversible consequences.
    Then she simply stops thinking and reaches across the galaxies’ wide gap to firmly grasp her tail in her teeth. She doesn’t delicately nip the tip; no, she fills her stupendously huge mouth with miles of tail and clamps down tightly, holding it firmly and feeling every shudder and pull along the full length of her invisible and powerful form.
    In that moment, the cataclysmic expansion shudders into an elegant and neatly constructed dance of set actions and reactions. Whole new processes come into play and the stars’ rule becomes absolute, gravity gains traction and in some forgettable tiny crevice on a planet easing into a happy, dependable orbit, two small molecules join and stayed joined. Too late, Cyrus realizes her role now and can only spin into eternity, holding tightly to that tail lest all come undone.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Anomalous Duo at Burning Man

Flying into San Jose, California - picking up our camping gear at our friend Liz's house in Los Altos - driving down to Sacramento and then to Reno for a two night stay to stock up on food, water and other supplies, then onto Burning Man for a week.


Click HERE to see a 35 minute compilation of our short video clips from the journey. A little sample of the magic we experienced on the road, in the air, on bike wheels riding day and night, and walking around the desert experiencing the art installations, sound camps, fires, mutant vehicles, and more. 

click on images to enlarge

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Gullible God

Artwork for the booklet was designed by AleXander Hirka, adapted from the large 40x40 photo-montage he created for display at the Center Camp at Burning Man this year.  See the original, complete piece: here.
[The following story was written for Burning Man 2013 ~ towards this year's theme, "Cargo Cults".  Wikipedia about cargo cults: here. Video about Burning Man: here.]

             "The Gullible God (Expectation From Above)"
                                  ~ by T. Remington

      Trace has been flying this route, his father’s route, since he was 19. In any visibility, he can practically feel where he is without needing instruments. Today, though, the sky is clear and the sea ripples far below. It’s been too long.
      Open heart surgery is a bitch and it takes forever to recover from. He glances back at the cargo piled up. Man, is it going to be a party in Eden tonight.
      When he married Louise he thought he should put this behind him, but within weeks he was back in his Cessna, fleeing to his garden. Over the years he convinced himself that he came back from out here a better husband and father.
      He was blindsided when Louise demanded a divorce and the kids all sided with her. He nearly lost the plane in the settlement. Somehow he’d never realized how determined and smart and uncompromising Louise could be.
      But Trace kept his plane and his Eden. Six trips later, he decided to stay. He learned quickly that he had no place here. He’d walk through the village and be left alone. He’d known some of them since they were wide eyed children running out to the airstrip, yelling and waving garlands of flowers. Without cargo, he was nothing to them.
      When he left, no one came out to see him off. Not much given to navel gazing, Trace got on with life. His kids still weren’t talking to him. Surprisingly, it was Louise who would meet him for coffee and listen to the sad tale of his lost garden.
      Chrissie was 32, divorced and had two kids. Trace had her in bed by the third flying lesson. Or maybe she had him. But she seemed ok with his flying off without explanation, so he took a chance and hauled out piles of food, building supplies, bright clothes and electronic gizmos. He was greeted with flowers and cheers. Some mystical balance was restored and he had his Eden back.
      The heart attack took him by surprise. He was scheduled to fly out when it hit. Chrissie, bless her, was at his side in a flash. Weeks became months and he was still in no shape to be flying off. He began dreaming of his Eden overgrown with jungle.
      Well, that’s all behind him now. Far below spots define themselves against the eternal sea and he’s amazed all over again to see them get bigger, grow trees and beaches and become land. He flies over the outlying atolls and swings around to his island.
      Something’s wrong. He double checks his instruments. There’s no sign of the airstrip that’s been in this clearing since 1941. He comes in lower to squint and scan. It’s the right place, but it’s overgrown and looks different. He can’t give up, rising and coming back down to circle again and again.
      Then he sees the fuel gauge. He may not have enough fuel to make it back, but he engages the auto-pilot and scrambles to the back to open the hatch and shove the cargo out. He swings around his smashed gift to Eden, then climbs into the sky without a backward glance.
      Far inland, the small cluster of huts slides back into jungle. Trace’s happy tribe of innocents left six months ago after their lawyer had finalized negotiations with the logging representative of Davis International. There is nothing, not even curiosity to honor that ruined pile of cargo left to be reclaimed by the forest before it, in turn, becomes fine furniture and quality flooring.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Win, Lose, Draw


photo montage by aleXander hirka - click on image to enlarge


Win, Lose, Draw
~ by T. Remington

      It’s wet enough down here already. Jompley thought that cramming all his old Utne Readers into the drain pipe would do the trick, but when he wakes up to a mushy mattress again, he wants to cry. He doesn’t, of course, because it wouldn’t help. What will? He scrounges around in the back room.
      Until last Thursday, he hadn’t even realized that that there was a back room down here. It took that long to shake the blues. He still isn’t sure why Mister Evans arranged for him to be kept down here though he probably has his reasons. Overall, the place isn’t too bad or at least it wasn’t until that darned drain pipe let loose. He guesses he should just be happy that it seems to be rain water, but it does seem to be a bit much to tolerate.
      You might wonder why Jompley doesn’t simply tuck in and sleep in the back room, especially now that the mattress is a waterlogged loss. You may as well wonder why the sun rises in the east. Jomp’s a pretty steady character and Mister Evans counts on that.
      Mister Evans lounges on his 300 threads per square inch Egyptian cotton sheets and calculates how long it will take before Jompley finds the back room to the back room. He reaches over and pats Miss Priss on her fanny and asks her to get him another glass of sarsaparilla punch. She makes a face, but does as she’s told.
      The thump behind the headboard tells Mister Evans that the jig is up. He sighs and gets up off the bed just as the wall shakes and crumples in, covering the bed in plaster dust.
      “Am I too late?” Jomp’s wiping dust and plaster and whatnot off his face.
      “No, Jompley, if anything you’re a bit on the early side, but no matter.” Mister Evans hands Jompley his fine brocade dressing gown. “Priss will be happy.” And into the hole in the wall he goes while Jompley shakes out the dressing gown and tries it on for size. Perfect fit. A thought occurs and Jomp leans into the hole to shout down at Mister Evan’s retreating back.
      “Don’t worry too much about the security cameras. I don’t think anyone’s paying any attention to them.”
      He turns back in time to greet a smiling Miss Priss and to ask her to dump out that sweet, ridiculous punch and get him a beer.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Open & Shut

      photo montage by aleXander hirka - click on image to enlarge

~ by T. Remington

       Sally Ann found her key stuck in the crotch of the cherry tree she climbs after school whenever the weather’s nice. It’s one of those fancy old kind of keys; a skeleton key. She tells Grampy just about everything, but decides not to run to him with this key. She’s not sure why, but it feels like it’s hers and hers alone. She pockets it and all day long she reaches in to play with her secret. It’s her first.
      There are lots of locks to try, but Sally Ann finds out pretty quickly that she has to be careful about it cuz people get funny about her trying her key in their door if they happen to be home. Another thing: an old timey type of key is not going to fit into just any  ordinary modern lock so she has to find old doors. Since she’s already used to being called absent minded and foolish, no one’s gonna notice anything different. Which they don’t.
      Weeks pass and Sally Ann has to go further and further from her usual home to school to library to home route in search of her old door. Sometimes at night she tries to imagine what will be revealed when she finds that special lock, but falls short. Any of the usual stuff that she reads about or sees on television can’t be nearly special enough to be found by this key.
      There’s a day, an oddly windy day with a weird colored sky, when she’s a long ways from home and there’s this great, old door with fancy old columns on each side of it with peeling paint. The key slides right into the lock (that almost never happens, but even when it does, that hasn’t meant anything until maybe now) and then, oh wow, it turns and there’s a click.
      “I’ll give you ten bucks for that key if you don’t open the door.”
      “You don’t have ten bucks.” Sally Ann turns to confront…nothing. There’s wind, dust and some garbage being pushed around, but she’s alone. The voice, though, it sounds so familiar and she knows she didn’t imagine it. Right? It’s kind of nuts, but she thinks it sounded like Daddy and that’s impossible.
      When she turns back to the door, it’s changing into blocks of color that are shifting in and out from each other. Quick, she grabs for the key, but it’s also changing. She yanks at it anyway and the separating blocks of colors are hard against her hand and it’s stuck firmly in what had been the door.
      Sally Ann, see she doesn’t scare easy. She’s the one who kills spiders in the kitchen when her mom is freaking out. Grampy always said she should of been a boy. She thinks that’s stupid, but never tells Grampy that. She knows he means it like a compliment. Now, though, she’s scared but curious, too and curiosity wins out so she twists what isn’t a key anymore hard and pushes against the shifting blocks of color.
      “I told you not to turn that key, didn’t I?” It is Daddy’s voice. Sally Ann can’t see him, but she knows he’s nearby and not in Atlanta like Mommy said.
      “Yeah, well if you wanted me to do what you say I guess you should of stayed here with us, huh?” Sally Ann toughs up and doesn’t show the new panic that’s hit because she can’t get her hand back. It’s stuck to the key and she doesn’t want to see what’s going on now but she can kind of feel it.
      “Ok, smart girl, what are you going to do now?” And then here he is; her Daddy standing here in his dirty gas station pants with his hat pushed back. He holds out a hand.
      A funny thing is going on now, though, Sally Ann can feel bumpy hard stuff going on up her arm and, even as she reaches for her Daddy’s hand, she knows it’s too late. He does, too, but he rushes to grab her hand anyway and then he’s stuck too and the bumpy stuff is running up his arm.
      Sally Ann doesn’t think Mommy is altogether happy about Daddy being back, but she sure is and it’s even better on Saturday afternoons when she and Daddy go back out to their door. For hours after they join hands and go all bumpy, the world turns into a blocky wonderful mass of shifting colors and they walk around, giggling and pointing. One of these days they’ll turn that key and see what happens.