Hosanna in Hand

Salt City

Adam and Musette return to Salt City. All of the comfortable sinking in takes place. It’s like waking from a dream. The routine revives itself instantly.

The dormitory they live in is a graffiti dripping sponge of nowhere souls. Limbo taverns of droned out dead heads sit beneath dime store paintings, staring into computers. Hipsters, Jigallettes, gangsters, and pedophiles call the place home. They congregate against the night with cheap coffee and loud music.

The teeth of clinking glass chink out conversation. Thousands of eavesdropping skyscraper eyes keep tabs on their cattle. The working class, blue collared, white collared, short sleeved, long sleeved, orange vested, grunts serving up McDonalds in the morning and Burger king at night lull lingering on a buzz, a cigarette, some young poon…

Jazz music thumps a basketball rhythm from a television set hanging in the corner. It bleats out the rim clattering backboard shatter of an evil keneeveling mascot fire spinning three point hoops into temple advertisements while slam dunking corporate logos into the brains of countless spectators from the remote control of a barrel toting blimp.

Everybody cheers. Neighbors spill drinks and high fives with neighbors, waiting for the next advertisement with anxious anticipation.

Adam holds a steamy cup of watery coffee in his hands as he steps outside. Rain drops hiss against the frying pan tin of electric heating lamps. Neon vacancy cackles the porch orange. Joint shaped cigarettes sputter cherries in the electric glow. Allen Ginsberg is sitting in wait. Before him sits a bowl of din. Accidental ashes crumble from an effeminately clasped cigarette.

Allen watches through mushroom blasted pupils as little men scamper from his table mat. Wide brimmed hats flop as they dash from the ash.

There are a couple of missionaries sitting with Allen whom Adam doesn’t like.

“Adam!” shouts one of the missionaries, hopping from his seat, an arm extended. “When’d you get back brother!?”

Allen gives his friend a watery eyed, heart squeezing greeting of silent exaltation which Adam reciprocates, the gesture of true emotion flying over the sycophantic missionary’s shoulder.

The two friends submerge themselves in a porridge thick, nostalgia soothing energy.

“How was your journey?” Allen asks.

“Things happen… And the world is cruel.” says Adam. “I’m not spiritually ready to talk about it yet. Let’s talk about you. What have you been doing while I’ve been gone?”

“You know Fielding is running for office right?” Allen says.

”I didn’t know that.” Adam says.

“I’m working with the party to promote his ascent.” Allen continues.

“I thought we had come to the conclusion, together you and I, that there is no point in politics, that Magic has become nothing more than War in disguise.”

“Surely with Fielding there is hope for change…” Allen says.

“Hope was left in the box for good reason.” says Adam.

“I may not have the most hope for politics,” says Allen, “but always for Fielding.”

“I’ll pray for a corpse.” Says Adam. “It would serve my memory of him better than if he succeeds.”

“Oh, don’t talk like that.” says Allen.

Adam lights a cigarette.

“Have you found a job yet?” asks Allen.

“Please don’t get me started.” says Adam.

“You’re going to have to start sooner or later.”

“While it’s true I don’t want to work,” says Adam. “I have given it some effort out of necessity. The problem is, I don’t have a place here anymore. In a world of miniature black rimmed glasses, and blonde pony tails, where does the man with no economic skills and a buttonless shirt belong? The only possible position for me is that of the coin clicker, or if I’m lucky the Salvation Army bell ringer. The vagrant life is rapidly becoming my only option. I’m a marked man. An ugly duckling. A Jonah. And I don’t think I want to be saved. The homeless are the only people in this world that I can truly bring myself to respect.”

One of the missionaries pipes in, saying, “Maybe you should take an apartment job, at least for a while, while you get yourself settled. We could get you a nice deal. Give you a little income while you recollect.”

A sheet of redness flashes through Adam’s mind. A volcanic cello grind curdles the insides of his gut. It surfaces like a killer whale, splashing fury into the air. Adam spills his coffee through the steel grating of the table as his hands fly gesticulations around his head.

“And just as I was approaching a stitch of sympathy on your behalf, you go and say something so stupid! If you’re not going to leave this table, when you can clearly see you’re not wanted, then at least have the courtesy of keeping your mouth closed!”

“I just thought that taking an apartment job would be preferable to sleeping on the streets… I don’t know what you have against the television. It’s fun… It’s not like you have to exert your energy into somebody else’s pleasure. The pay is multifold.”

“Your and my definition of fun are vastly opposing…” Adam says. “You might think that transforming yourself into a fleshy pile of diarrhea sounds like a good time, but I’ve seen what comes from your installations, the greenish slather drizzling from the corners of mouths, the stretched out T-shirts stained with unobstructed growths, the couch ranking of too rapidly splurted out liquid shit spills, the flabby sphincters hanging over the rims of crusty feeding/recycling tubes, and the stroke victim expressions. Those yellow, corpse encrusted eyes haunt my dreams… Flakes of crumbling cornea piling up, the milky white pupils upturned to stare into roofs of petrified brain, the feasting flies and the reactionary nerve spasms of data splurt injections. How can you live with yourself?”

The missionary laughs, pretending to shake it off.

“Perhaps you’re right.” he says. “Perhaps it’s a terrible thing for some people, but there is a ninety eight percent satisfaction rate logged within our files. And every year, more and more people join the system. I have yet to speak to someone who’s willingly returned to this life after experiencing the television. You are correct regarding your observations regarding the unflattering effects imposed upon the body, but neither God nor his son has ever advocated the ways of the flesh. Corpses are never gracious looking, and even saints decay. Vanity is not welcome within the kingdom of heaven. We believe that the television reality is a gift granted us by God himself. A forgiveness of man’s sins. A literal heaven on earth.”

“If it’s so great, then why have you two not already submitted yourselves to it?” Adam asks.

“We fully intend to. I bear testimony here and now, shamelessly, to the rightness of what we preach. I know that a seat awaits me within the palace of Heaven. Yet, knowing what I know, and knowing that there are others out there who don’t know, I can’t morally depart for the next world. There is still so much work to be done. There are others who still need to hear the word. I have a responsibility to preach. Once I’m called, I’ll take my rightful seat within the flock of Christ’s children.”

“Good for you.” Adam says, nonchalantly taking another drag of his cigarette. “I’ll personally take my chances as a hobo. I believe that it’s better to die consciously aware of my shame than translate myself into the unconscious slime of Babel’s demise. And now that your word has been properly smeared across this direction, I’d rather you moved the act on to some other table, if you would be so kind…”

The missionaries heed the request, departing off the porch like red flushed martyrs, joyous for suffering this humiliation on behalf of their beliefs.

Allen reiterates to Adam that there is still a place for him within the working world if only he will apply himself a little harder.