Oh Heavenly Father, what can I do, what she’s done to me is making me crazy;
Oh Heavenly Father, I know I have sinned, but look where I’ve been, it’s making me lazy.
I went to bed even earlier last night, thinking about isolation tanks, floating one metre above the ground in Colorado, taking the first shaky steps on that infinite plank. I was shuffling my memories and anti-memories into a sloppy houndstooth pattern, and was almost happy with it when the phone rang. As I splashed back into myself, I knew it must be urgent since those rings shot right through the bricks of the fact that I don’t have a phone like they were wet toilet paper.
It was Rafael again. I could tell by the sheep. At least it sounded like sheep, although I sure as shit wasn’t about to ask. I waited. After what felt like three and a half minutes, the voice began to ooze into my ear like glue. I don’t remember the exact words, but the question was something to the effect of “What is your nucleus?”
A cat’s eye marble bouncing down a metal spiral staircase in the bowels of a cursed submarine. Periscope up, periscope down, doesn’t matter. The captain has just met Molly and is now reshuffling his priorities, taking out the Jacks but leaving in the Jokers.
Was that it? It was hard to tell in the dark. Maybe if that red beam would swing by this way again… A distant toilet flushed. No, a marble was too big. Maybe a pebble inside some half-hearted bodhisattva’s left Reebok Pump? Or a rare beardless Lincoln penny left on a train track, one second from derailing the 3:15 to Honolulu and killing the next Hitler and the previous Buddha?
No, it’s a piece of candy corn taped anachronistically to the hub of a wagon wheel rolling across a frozen pond in 1811. But at least it’s taped to something, right? There is a nearby pelican watching the scene, but it’s okay, it’s dead.
I tried to call Rafael back with a soup can, a conch shell, a stale croissant, a kick in the head, but nothing worked. I even tried the last clean pay phone in Red Square, but by the time I got the rubles out from my pocket someone had sneezed on it. Not that Rafael would answer in the first place. He’s got everyone convinced he’s Number 1. Even the sheep.
The ice was shattered by the neighborhood screamer, making her irregular rounds during the single-digit hours, hollering about death and cholesterol and Reagan. “Lou Reed’s dead,” I pondered, “Dylan’s next, but she’ll live to 110.” Whatever my nucleus turns out to be, next chance I get I’m going to throw it into the gears of this crappy mechanism.