Friday, July 17, 2015

Slumber (an excerpt from 'Medea's Videos')

Jesse S. Mitchell

the following is an excerpt from the novel, Medea's Videos.  It is available for purchase from Oneiros books here Medea's Videos

She lets her heavy eyelids smother over her big sore eyes.  And her mind goes, palisades and pineland wastes and punk rock pictographs.  Past Passaic, past Passaic, past Passaic, beyond the Styx, beyond the Lethe, to dreaming dream oblivion.  Just try to make it all work.  The most mysterious of all mysteries, may we all have hallucinary dreams, descriptions of love or fantasy, depictions of exorcism or orgasm or something alike but in-between, something narcotic, neurotic, narcoleptic.
And then she is in an empty field, a giant sky.  A sky so grey not even fire could scorch it black, so grey lightning couldn’t even flash it bright.  So grey.  She moves her eyes.
And then it all rolls away.
And the green grass, turning crude yellow at the tips, covering over everything at her feet, was suddenly illuminated.
And the tall red grass next to her, rusted through with late season maroon and crimson, swayed.  She put her hand in it, touched the tops of it as she walked slowly through the field, over a small hill, toward the big red barn as it became more and more visible.  A flock of small black birds bust into the air, starlings.  The ripple rustle of their wings, the deep shadow they cast over the ground.
Can’t think too much.
No words forming in the mind.
She began to feel a bit sick, dizzy.  Couldn’t keep her feet.  Felt unstable.  Tumbling.
Her eyes opened.  She was lying sweaty on her bed.  Ran her hands over her face.  Sat up in bed.  Still unaccustomed to, but becoming more so everyday, to the violence of tearing between two realities, just by opening or closing your eyes.  Jarring.
Heaves herself off the bed, stumbles, feet of dead brick, slowly to the bathroom.  Showers. So much steam.  Lights a cigarette and watches the smoke mix with the evaporating moisture, the humid air.  Wipes off the mirror and stares at her face, pulls on her eyes, eyelids, cheeks, cigarette perched on her lips.  Combs her hair back and up.  Grabs an oversized white t-shirt off a teetering pile near the door and yanks it over her head.  The words on the shirt ‘Black Flag’ appear backward in the mirror but she can still read them. When she notices that fact her mind turns for a moment to philosophy, physics, same as with anyone else who happens upon the phenomenon.  But as with everyone else, she quickly forgets.  She tugs on a pair of dark indigo jeans, flicks her cigarette in the sink.  Turns the water on to wash the ash down the drain.
Walks into the other room, picks her jacket up off the floor, puts her arms through carefully.  Snubs out the butt and tosses it in an old coffee can.  Grabs an iPod off the counter, twists the headphones, wires, around it slips in a pocket.  Takes a small camera off the shelf and puts it in another pocket.  Pack of cigarettes, lights, keys.  Next to the refrigerator, she slides her back and brings out a pint bottle of vodka, she drops it in a hidden inside pocket.
Opens her door to the outside world.  Pauses for a moment, shudders, a kind of prayer on her lips, just don’t be terrible today, just don’t be cruel, don’t be awful, shakes her head and closes the door hard.
Out on the streets, it is all zombie-eyed dawn, glassy, glazed over staring down the barrel of a gun, all bloodshot throbbing veins around the horizon.  Loud, screeching, bleating noise, deafening, throwing punches at the sky, a hundred thousand million people with scissor legs cutting, slicing, daring someone to do their worst.  Belligerent.  Ugly.    
The syncopated caffeinated rhythm. The merciless pulse.   That vindictive speed.  It will get you.  It will get you.
She jams her earbuds in her ears, moves them, repositions them.  Her ears get irritated, flushed.  “Passing Complexion” plays, Steve Albini’s electric chainsaw buzz.
She dodges as many bodies as she can.  Dancing through the thick warm tide of pedestrians, waves, crescendos, arpeggios.  Too much distance between anywhere she is and where she means to be.  She can feel the sun trickling down from out the stingy sky, clogged this morning with clouds and long fascist wisps of dark atmosphere.  Another warm day.  Another killer day.  
And in the middle of this wasteland, in the midst of all of this indifference decay, a peak, a mountain top.  A sanctuary.
A square Plexiglas booth.
A bus stop.  With a long composite plastic bench.  The bench is empty except for one blonde head, slumped down, peering into a book lazily cracked in one hand.  A big thick manila folder resting on her lap.
Medea walks into the booth and sits down, rips the earbuds out of her ears, grimaces at the slight sting. Turns off the iPod and shoves it in her pocket.
Lindsay looks up from her book and smiles.
“Get the part?”
“Fuck no.”
“Why not?  Did you listen to the others?”
“Did you read well?”
“Yeah.  The best.  I was the best for the part.  I know it.”
“These things happen.”
“You got the band posters done?”  Medea reaches down and taps the folder.
“Yeah.  Last night.  Taking them over to get them approved right now.  If they like them, then it is a go.  Get a little bit of money out of the deal and we get to go to a free show.”
Medea nods.
“What did you do last night?”
“Ended up getting too stoned, passed out at some point.  Living the dream.”
They sat together looking forward at nothing for a few seconds, silence, there weren’t even any sounds leaking in from the city.  Nothing.  A perfect vacuum of noise.
“I think I dreamed I was in some underwater world, filled with Roman ruins and shit, picking up bits of gold and treasure.  At some point I had to fight with mermaids…or something.”
“How very Wagnerian.”
Medea took the pack of cigarettes out of her pocket and slammed against her palm a few times, pulled the cellophane strip away and opened the box, yanked out the foil and tossed it on the ground.  She watched float away on the breeze for a few minutes and finally in fell and rolled next to an old dilapidated trash can.
“Oh! You are such a litterbug.”
“Yeah, all us Nihilists are.  The planet can take care of itself.”
She puts a cigarette in her mouth and lights it.  She leans forward and rests her elbows on her knees.  She takes a drag and fills the booth with smoke.
“So, you coming by tonight?”
“Yeah.  I’ll be there.  I have my thing.”
Lindsay interrupts her, “What thing?”
Medea waves her left hand at her, trying to blow her off, “My thing, you know.  I’ll be there after that around six, I guess.”
Lindsay nods, “Cool, we can finish watching ‘The Planet Earth’ box set.”
“Urrghh!” Medea sits up and sloughs in the seat, “No, I can’t stand it.  We have to watch something else.”
Lindsay laughs a bit.
“Every time we watch that, I spend the next two days hearing David Attenborough narrate everything I see.”  She sits straight up and with a fake upper class British accent, “The homeless American Vietnam vet does the MOST remarkable thing, in his shopping cart filled with jugs of urine, he keeps an entire change of clothes and two full brown paper bags of loose chicken bones.  A master of organization, he can accumulate great masses of strange and bizarre trinkets and talismans.”
Lindsay laughs.
“It’s too much, man.  I cannot take another night of nature documentaries . Do you want me to bring something myself?  I can run back by my place and get something good, I swear.”
Still laughing a bit, “Sure.  Sure.  That’s fine.”
As the words leave her lips, a bus begins to chug to stop and the folding door creeks open.  Air brakes breathe out in a gust.
“That’s me. See you later, okay.”
Lindsay stands up and collects her book and folder and a bag at her feet, under her shoulder.
Medea nods and slumps forward again, smoking.
As soon as Lindsay walks on the bus and down the aisle to her seat or nonexistence, one or the other, Medea reaches inside her jacket and twists the lid off her pint bottle, eases it out of pocket and takes a hard slug.  Caps it back up and stands up and smoothes down her clothes.  And leaves the bus stop booth and continues her way through the streets toward her destination.