Monthly Archives: September 2014

Why Is This Here? — 12th and final installment, continuing a sentence from #11

. . . where did this rage come from he wondered then and for a long time after, what match lit it, what fuel fed it, how long has it burned, how quietly. He locks both her wrists in one hand and throws open the door to the baby’s room, his baby’s, his, and drags her inside, throws her into the wood rockingchair, it slides, tips, she falls off she falls legs flailing, her head strikes the wall then the floor, everything’s in full sight, her body has no secrets, the room’s an anarchy of wails curses growls screeches, Bonita’s on her knees and elbows and elbows forcing herself up, the heel of his bare foot thumps her forehead her head snaps back and she crumples, his face is locked in terror, he runs to the other room throws sloppy clothes on and around himself, storms out, he never sees Bonita or the baby again, leave the city his messenger later tells her, don’t ever initiate contact with him again, you’ll receive a generous check bimonthly when you inform me where you are, never initiate contact again, be far away out of his life or. After a week that little house burned to the ground, an unsolved arson, but like an underground coalfire, an eternal holocaust, the tongue of those flames forever crackled out the name Martin Major.

He rests his arm on Marci’s strong hard neck, in profile from forehead to nosetip it’s almost a straight line, almost comical to him, she’s returning his gaze through those little triangled eyes, all logic is gone, reason evaporated, words in hiding, they’re all replaced by images streaming past like a gust of hurried careless birds in a silent video, soft swaying leaves on a young spirea bush and springtime grass in a light breeze, peristalsis, a woman’s hair and heaving breath, beams of sunlight, all things undulant, cadent, alive, writhing snakes and throbbing tears, a percussion of gunshots rumbling guts sparks of downed wires, I’m all of these things he feels, all and more, he closes his eyes, shuts out Marci the tapestry the teak, it’s dark now I’m all of these things in the dark and more, vastly more, the dark is vaster than all these things, he yearns for the dark, it’s all he wants, it’s all that matters now.

Time to go he finally whispers. He unwraps his arm from Marci’s patient neck, struggles to his knees and pushes himself upward, Marci tenses and raises her head, there’s blood on the floor it’s still oozing from small slits in his leg, he glares at it, Marci’s snuffling. An odd but familiar sensation assaults his thigh just above the knee and as he looks a long blue snake wrapped in transparent sheathing is shooting out, the sensation lasts only seconds this time but Martin shivers with fear and disgust and the image disappears. Time to go before I can’t anymore he mumbles, time to kill that snake once and for all. He’s still shivering. He looks down at Marci and spots the dumbbell nearby and automatically bends over and lifts it and looks at it almost fondly. Neglecting her instinct to test the red spots on the floor with her tongue, Marci turns and trots across the room, turns again and picks up the pace again, seems undecided, finally sets off toward her master but he’s out the door now, closes it behind him, the dog begins a deep drumbeat of a bark. Over the speaker system Martin Major hears Offenbach’s Barcarolle, he sops, listens, begins doing curls. Mezzos slay him every time.

He advances to the kitchen. Before entering he stops, stands, he’s a bit unsteady, he feels aromas swirling, the ripeness of fruit, the pliancy and blush of fresh meats, the clay pot rests on the cuttingboard, he hasn’t broken anything in this room yet, stained the floor with his blood or wet it with his urine, I’ll bet the wife will regret going out today he thinks as he crosses the threshold. It’s a goodsized kitchen with windows and a sliding glass door overlooking the Hudson and the New Jersey banks and dense trees and skyline across it, there’s a balcony outside stretching from the door to another one in the adjacent bedroom, the one he and his wife, he doesn’t even try to recall her name anymore, have ridden in so many times, bucking bronco rides from kitchen meal preparations to the firm wide bed under a sweeping impressionistic willow tree in the the thick goldgilt frame, their playful concession to coarseness in that room once governed by abandon and ardor. Blood smears underfoot on the bright tile floor as he advances toward the door.

The last aria on the CD has played itself out, the apartment is quiet and a pall of sadness descends on Martin Major, he stops and turns and slowly oscillates his head, his eyes are clouded with perplexity, he’s a slopeshouldered bloodied man without pants, a twentypound dumbbell in one hand, for him even the distant past has with all sound faded from his pendulous head. If he were looking in the direction of the hallway he’d have seen Toni in the livingroom, door open behind her, inching her way toward him loosely holding a plastic Rexall bag, her smooth oval face encoded with dread. The motion of his head stops, his eyes focus on a plain roundfaced clock with a thin black rim, he pivots, sees the sliding door and without hesitation winds up and hurls the twentpound barbell at it, his pacifier since the livingroom suddenly alive with menace, he screams in pain as the door shatters around an ugly hole in its center tiny cubes of glass flying like glistening water droplets, the missile thuds weakly against the baclony railing outside and drops to the floor, the remaining door a field of tiny attached cubes jutting from the heavy aluminum frame. Toni shouts from the hallway, she runs a halfdozen paces and embraces Martin Major who’s bent over yowling and holding his shoulder and crying streams of tears. He keens like a beast and writhes as she holds him and he sobs and hooks his chin onto her shoulder.

Philip O. Jung


Why Is This Here? — 11th installment

Martin Major turns his attention to Marci, returns her attention that is, she’s calm now, breathing slowly, she’s gotten her sniffing in, she licked his cock leg foot and  slipper, now her long smooth face lies on his lap, her body stretched and legs splayed on the floor, her odd little eyes alternately fixed on nothing and searching for his. One of the arguments that his wife . . . Toni . . . had used to delay his final departure — obliteration rather, since he’s in the state of final departure now, had been for some time and and will continue to be indefinitely unless he takes action to end it and soon — was the appeal to his sympathy for Marci, she’d be heartbroken Toni had said, she’ll miss you and she’ll be even sadder when she’d see how much I miss you too. She’d be living in a household of misery. And she’ll be happier watching me slobber in bed? he said in return, she’ll be happy with me unrersponsive and staring off into deep space with vacant eyes and an empty brain while she’s running off steam roomtoroom knocking down lamps and soiling rugs? You’re not the only one occupying this place she said, I’ll always be here to play with her, No you’ll be out he said, you won’t be able to stay in here with a thousandyearold man who stares unseeing at colorless ceilings, you’ve given your life to children, that’s your profession, or if I’m in some nursinghome Alzheimer unit she’ll be lonely too, my god she’s only three years old. But Toni’s appeals always won, at least they always had won, but with her out he’d better do something quick get out on that balcony quick, a fourteen story drop should take care of everything.

I’ve got a little will left he thinks, feels really, since words are hard to summon in such times of turbulence and repose as he’s experienced in the last twenty minutes, and a little eye for beauty yet, the view from the balcony is lovely, the harbor, the boats out there, the ribbon of park and boulevard, the green grass fourteen stories below, the bright sparkles on the waves out there . . .

Come here girl and sit by me.

Thickbodied Marci scrambles up beside him, he puts his arm around her powerful neck, her breathing remains quiet as she peers at him, their eyes are locked together, you’re a good girl he tells he, I’ve got two good girls.

He used to have reason too — he resumed his wordless thoughts — he was a master logician, he used and abused logic like few out there, it’s all gone now, he can’t even make points with his wife anymore, none, the . . . what was her field again? damn she was as good in hers as he was in his, reason has pretty much left him, it’s as though it had only been visiting, as though it were traipsing all around spacetime and decided to set up shop in his head, it was pretty good to him, pretty good, he tried to banish it more than a few times but it was , what? he thought hard, it was pretty much invulnerable, no no, indefatigable, no, invincible — ah yes invincible, good one — until it decided to leave him him and dry, make a getaway, a sneaky getaway, that and memory, most memory anyway. Not all of it. Not everything. Not the awful one, the nightmare. Ravenhaired Bonita in the nude. Bucknaked. Gorgeous. She murmuring in early foreplay you’ve got to leave her you’ve got to leave her you promised, he kneading already panting not now not now she pushing him away Wait a minute, hold on, the baby . . .  the baby, what about the baby, what about me, what do you mean not now? In the next room the baby wakes in a panic, screams and cries out mama, it’s a fourroom house he pays for, the meager rent, they’re in the livingroom the blinds are closed, they’re on a sofabed, it’s now a battle zone. Bonita’s hitting him with her fists on arms chest and shoulders he blocks wild punches aimed at his face, cock flailing strenuously as though imitating the punches, finally he grabs her wrists tight, teeth gritted, she struggles, her soft body, accustomed to babyflesh gentle strokes and massages in all the right places, quavering, flapping, Stop it stop it goddamnit stop it . . . . .

[That’s it for now. It’s called worn out.]

Why Is This Here? — 10th installment

In the hallway amid fragments of glass and a few new drops of blood Lt. Martin Major (ret.) gazed at some photos at random, felt mild pain in his legs, moved on to the closed door of the den, he clutched the knob turned it and as the door opened he felt resistance, he studied the door for a moment then pushed more forcefully and heard a breathy guttural sound, he saw Marci awkwardly appear. Preoccupied at once with the bloody leg and foot she commenced to lap at them, slobbering, the heavy painted brownonwhite bull terrier, and as he descended to his knees and embraced her that slightly rough tongue sequed to his face without hesitation. Girl he said, he’d think of her name later it would come to him, girl it’s good to see you. He laid down the dumbbell and held her long blunt snout with both hands as she continued her licking, then his brows furrowed as he took measure of her face, something seemed wrong, he felt it, the licking wasn’t calm and rhythmical as he usually experienced it but seemed, what, a bit agitated, labored, as if she were trying to strip the skin from whatever held on to it. A moment later they were sitting on the floor together his back to Toni’s desk, one hand stroking Marci’s smooth coat the other relaxed, resting on the dumbbell, his naked legs straight before him, Marci attending to his exposed crotch, he stared at the red ooze streaming down his calf now and settling into the Turkish rug he sat on, Well girl he said, she raised her head from his thighs, her name would come to him later, she sat up and gazed sadly at him.

Well girl he said again, but he didn’t see her penetrating eyes, he was surveying the room, the teak desks and cases filled with books, heavy law tomes and academic works in Toni’s field, child psychology,and the literature, he’d read it all and forgotten it all. Firm couch in tan leather, teak armchairs with plain golden pads, Danish floor lamps, a large tapestry of a Scandinavian shoreline village against a backdrop of forest barely concealing reindeer unicorns wolves and blackbirds. Well girl he said once again.

Why Is This Here? — 9th installment

As he struggles on his hands and knees to raise himself he spots the black dumbbell on the fleckedwhite tile floor, reaches for it like a child a gift, rises and does a few curls. Maybe if he does enough of them it’ll erase the dull discomfort in his thigh, he closes his eyes, grimaces. He rises like a wounded troll blindly exits the bathroom opens his eyes the first photo he encounters on the hallway wall is that of a young Toni, he knows it’s her because he reads the tag, she’s beautiful, Audrey Hepburnlike but a bit fuller, there’s a glitter on her lower lip and in her dark eyes. He takes a few steps, stops at a picture of a young man in a military uniform receiving an award of some kind from another uniformed man, both rigid as flagpoles, oh yes it’s a Purple Heart, he received it for a wound in combat, almost lost his leg, a memory rises and as quickly recedes. Martin Major’s face turns grim as granite, he raises the twentypound dumbbell and smashes the glass over the photo, it shatters and the wall booms, quivers, he smashes it again, then after a quick survey of the gallery he spots another photo. 1st Lt. Martin Major beaming, shaking hands with a colonel, he rushes to it strikes it too STUPIDFUCKINGWAR HE SHOUTS, the glass shatters and the wall’s report sounds like artillery. His youthful dream of a law degree and a career in politics he’d thought necessitated his enlistment and his subsequent officer status and his dysentery and his killing of four soldiers one of them trying to desert his command and finally his nearfatal legwound, he’d earned the degree but wanted nothing to do with politics, just work and drink and fucking, that was all, until he met Toni. Now he hears deep barking, his fury abates, he turns toward the den. The dog. Marci.

He surveys the minor havoc in the hallway, shattered glass and broken frames and photos askew but he misses the new cracks and chips in the plaster, he looks downward at his own form, he’s pantless and diaperless, his feet are clad in brown leather slippers, there’s some some blood meandering down the shin of his right leg, nothing serious, small shard cuts, it gathers a bit at the top of his foot and slides down into the slipper. Marci barks, moans, barks again. He stands there, lowers his head closes his eyes feels a rising desire, he wishes he could think rationally, again carry on a line of thought, all he knows is that he has something to do, there’s a mission to accomplish, he has to finish all this, end it all, while he still has a shred of will left, enough thought to connect intent A to what turns out to be telos B. His wife’s smokey voice, or something like it, interjects itself into his desire, his wistfulness, uttering words that she may or may not have said but that are clearer than the background soprano of Kiri Te Kanawa competing with it You’ve got to live, Marty, you can’t go before your time, you can’t leave me before I’m ready to let you go Maybe it’s really he that’s saying it, maybe not Toni at all, though it sure as hell sounds like her I’ll help you with your history Marty, you help me get through this time okay? we’ll work on the future together everything in its time.



Why Is This Here? — 8th installment

He opens his eyes wide, his body’s shuddering, he wants to vomit is afraid of what will come out, he pictures things reptant, things serpentine and largetoothed and scaly erupting from his guts through his mouth, he shakes, his left leg pounds as though struck over and over by an oversized thghbone, he sinks against the wall exhausted, his eyelids sink , he waits for the pain to subside and the fear, it doesn’t take long, just some minutes, he has a shitload to spare. His thigh still throbs a bit, he lets his tired gaze drift down to his left knee, just above it there’s a scar like a wellhealed old bullet wound, he sees and hears and feels the snake swishing the air around him, it hasn’t gone away, it never will, at any rate he’ll never forget it that’s for sure. He sits there for some time, the present is very long but he doesn’t want it to end, is afraid of what might follow. The thing that he always wanted to forget is still there, it’s still inside, the expulsion of the snake didn’t get rid of it, it’s like a broken bottle slicing up his lungs. How he wishes ______ would come home, he works hard, his numb face doesn’t change but he works hard to remember: Toni, Toni, yes, god she would hold, she . . . He looks upward, sees a limited edition print on the wall, the back of a seated naked woman after Picasso, she looks like fruit, he tries to concentrate on it but impulsively begins the hard labor of getting up. He knows where he must go. The den. The dog will be there. The dog. He’d forgotten all about her, he’s forgotten her name too, he hadn’t heard a sound from her all this time, all he’s heard have been orchestration and loud voices and his own groans and whimpers.

As he struggles on his hands and knees to raise himself he spots the black dumbbell on the fleckedwhite tile floor, reaches for it like a child for a gift, finally manages to stand and does a few curls. Maybe if he does enough of them it’ll erase the dull discomfort in his thigh, he closes his eyes, grimaces, forces more curls until his bicep hurts.

Why Is This Here? — 7th installment: Brace yourself

What was left of Martin Major’s mind kept returning, like the buzz of a fly, to the phrase almost always. ALMOST always. Almost. Back when his memory was active little exceptions to his genteel code — an audible damn, a finger in an itchy ear at a meeting, a demonstrative suppression of a belch — kept pricking him, like nettles. But those instances, those memories, were long gone now, disposed of, like lilac petals faded into earth, not even a hint of scent remaining. So whatever relic could penetrate the tangled and frozen shreds of his brain now had to have some potency, some vigor I’ve got something to confess Toni

You look serious babe, I’m very serious, she grins and nods I suppose you’ve filed for divorce right? or you’ve had your navel pierced, Don’t laugh Toni it’s more serious than either of those, You have nothing to confess to me Marty, nothing that I need to hear, she approaches him cups his firm face  looks deeply into his eyes, if you need to confess then pretend you’re a catholic and talk to a priest, there’s nothing you need to confess to me, she smiles, expects the same from him, broadens he smile and rolls her eyes when she doesn’t see it, I don’t need a professional confessor you’re all I’ll ever need he says, she drops her hands takes a step back I could confess lots of things to you Marty but I’m not going to, it’s all in the past, dead and gone, he squeezes his eyes shut grits his teeth before blurting But baby this is horrific. She sees something alien, swimming eyes alarm blows across her face freezes a moment evaporates just as quickly, Marty she says we have a good life, we live life today and we plan for tomorrow, our whole life together is here in the present, that’s all we need to keep us strong, you need confess nothing to me, nothing, except don’t tell me that we’ve got no future, that’s all, if we’ve got a future then all we have to concern ourselves with is the present and our plans, that’s all that’s all, that’s all.

Something’s resounding in Martin Major’s head, a klaxon, a piercing blast repearing itself, pounding there, a bewildered cloud shadows the image in the mirror, he feels a pulsation in his left leg just above the knee, he’s jolted into a stagger feels the bathroom wall slam against his back his thigh is turning blue, just his thigh, the throbbing is alive, he bends, grasps his thigh uses his hands as a tourniquet, he lets go and his back slides down the wall his bare ass then tight to the floor, he yells out. Something’s going on that he can’t understand, but then again there’s a lot he can’t understand now, the present, most of the past, his career in meetingrooms and courts, libraries, university lecturehalls. Still, the one even he had spent his life trying to forget, the one memory that consumed him every day, that Toni wouldn’t let him confess thank god, it would have killed her, it’s killing him now — that one event like a savage recurring dream bellowed through the hollows of his mind how could you do Martin Major how could you have done such a thing thing thing to your loyal wife how could you do that  that that to that other other woman to that other woman woman’s b b baby how could you do that Martin Major . . . the throbbing in his thigh is intensifying, he sees a streak forming in the blue up above pointzero, the center of the pounding, his breathing quickens, the streak gets longer wider

and then the skin at pointzero erupts and something emarges, it’s covered not with blood but a sheath, opaque at first but becoming transparent, he sees something, form and developing features, the form tubular its blunt end writhing against the air it’s forcing itself into, the sheath slits open and the head of a snake shoots out blue and rigid with effort, its body flows out after it, he hears something like air crinkling and then a sharp shhh feels the smooth speed of the thickening force widening the hole in his leg, the milky sheath slides down his leg and puddles up on the floor as the sleek blue body accelerates, the snake seems neverending, it keeps streaking out its body thickening its head thrashing like a monster fish trying to throw a lure, the head end finally disappears and still the body pours out, there’s a deafening rushing sound the snake seems desperate and Martin Major, screaming, passes out.

Why Is This Here? — 6th Installment

Martin Major supported his upper body on the teak vanity in the stylish bathroom with the toilet that was so expensive that he used to say it inspired him to shit gold and he stared at the mirror trying to determine whether he liked what he saw, his pajama bottoms in a wet heap on the floor, not soaked but wet enough to soften the crust that had formed sometime after his earlier masturbatory episode back in the livingroom how long ago? In Martin’s mind it had never happened, and he was already past any recollection of the puddle on the hallway hardwood and the beads and smears of moisture on the fancy bathroom tile, he’d made it to the toilet, finished urinating without touching himself after pulling down his pants, he’d sighed, forced himself straight, retrieved his dumbbell from the vanity top did a few curls and fixed on his reflected image, painting out in a fuzzy gesso all the details of the room behind and beside him. He didn’t smile.

The face he gazed at appeared peaceful enough, the hazel eyes steady but no longer penetrating, grey hair still plentiful, combed straight back, he could see the longish ends hanging out a bit behind each ear, skin not deeply lined, smooth, he’d shaved that morning, Toni had placed the electric shaver in his hand with  playful housewifely indulgence that aroused some laughter, a too infrequent sound lately, he gazed at the image but that’s not what he concentrated on. He was thinking without words who is this guy who’s lost his smile, who can’t remember his wife’s name, who can’t identify the singer or the aria he was hearing from speakers all throughout the house, let’s see. Name: _____ (Gary, Garth, Michael, Cody? . . . It’ll come). Date of birth: ____ ’55 I think. ’52? No no, late 40s sometime. Job: . . . Law. A silent snort, a cursory nod. Moment of silence. Ecce fucking homo he thinks. Nods again, barely perceptibly, numerous times smiles almost imperceptibly at the rare profanity. It has a strange taste. A little ginger, a mild jalapeno, a sprinkle of garlic. Something else, unidentifiable. Martin Major never cursed, vulgarities were always disagreeable to him, unpalatable. His life he had tried to shape into something smooth, clear, something one could embrace, admire for its cleanness, the elegance of its organization, a Brancusi life rather than a Lipschitz, a life that a fine person like his wife Toni or his more refined colleagues and clients would be pleased to slide their hands along, lips parted, mouth moist, a life like a sleek feather of flawless silver. The end too would be lustrous. He’d always wanted, and prepared for — well almost always — through the cultivation of solid friendships and of amiable acquaintanceships, through impeccable manners and invariable kindness, a death that would be all sunshine and lilies and graceful dancing, a death that would invite the Earth to welcome him home with understated delight, that would be the simple, elegant little dot at the end of a life well lived. Instead, he knew as he peered at the face and narrowing shoulders in the mirror, it would turn out to be all empty and dark and trudging. Either way.

What was left of his mind kept returning like a scratch on a vinyl LP to the phrase almost always. ALMOST always.