Prologue – Tunnel Rat
The previous night he’d been no different than any of the other poor dusty souls on the work crew.
Chapter 1 – Pogo in slow-mo like a funk-wrapped mummy on a trampoline
Some kind of tea jangled down his throat in a parade of flamboyant somersaults, pleased at having transformed a sluggish mind into something resembling the inside of a warm sun.
Chapter 2 – Echo of a murmur
His consciousness drifts alongside itself in a mellifluous whirlpool of time, nothing at the bottom, stillness at the center, a stillness so final the malleable edges of his awareness melt away into…
Chapter 3 – “I am a lap hound with a velvet tongue and persnickety grooming habits.”
Chuckles woke up facedown in grape mush, his top lip obstructing both nostrils.
Chapter 4 – The Gargler and The Gurgler
The old man wished to verbalize his distaste for the mouthwash.
Chapter 5 – “How long was it on my teef before I noticed?”
Chuckles locked the door as quietly as possible and spent his customary forty-five seconds trying to extract the key from the lock.
Chapter 6 – The sun fell down the volcano / And ash filled every footprint
I perceive winter hiding behind the persimmon tree.
Chapter 7 – “One slobber smoothie, please.”
“Vitamins are absorbed faster if you get them straight from slobber.”
His first thought upon waking was an associative one.
Chapter 8 – All the wood from all the coffins from all time gathered together informally to make a point
I perceive winter hiding behind the persimmon tree.
Chapter 9 – “I’d rather be grossly intimate with a rabid anteater.”
The stream was gargling the shower from the night before when Chuckles plopped his rump upon a dry stone beside it.
Chapter 10 – After 75 years of parting their hair on the left, two old men consider a change
Studies doubly blind from all the moonshine swilled by their investigators reveal that twenty minutes never elapses the same way twice.
Chapter 11 – Different dialect, same blood
“They know about you. They’re already there.”
Chapter 12 – His pockmarked lungs held pockets of air hostage and released them in syncopated explosions
Grasping the cruddy overhead support handle with one hand, Chuckles stood as erectly as possible to exaggerate the contrast between his bearing and all the slumped and sprawled souls beneath him.
Chapter 13 – The Courtyard
“I almost stepped on it,” he muttered to himself.
Chapter 14 – “I play in traffic without smiling, for I can be stern.”
A balloon was erratically inflating and deflating inside Chuckles’s head.
Chapter 15 – The origins of a coyote
The fetus brought coyote teeth to gnash.
Chapter 16 – Lay down next to a starfish. Who’s the bigger man
They said little. The grey skies admitted no glare; the squints never left their eyes.
Chapter 17 – If you wrap your head in a wet towel and hang it out the window while you’re driving it gets cold in a hurry
“Are you hungry?” Moe suddenly roared.
Chapter 18 – The sun the moon the sky and the sea
The moon sets bronzish orange and readies to disappear just as the sun peers over the opposite horizon, a celestial seesaw.
Chapter 19 – It’s refreshment time with drinks!
The bus door levered open and Chuckles flailed awake and smacked his knuckles SMACK on the ceiling and his elbow on something knobby. “Ow! I’m throbbing!”
Recovered Memo (Origin unknown)
I have eyes, I do, so I see my skin and its history, and it seems clear to me where I end and the environment begins.
Chapter 20 – In which curiosity’s momentum is the lever for infinitely tangential maneuvers
Storms of static, the sibilant hiss of the shower, sought Chuckles out in sleep and soaked his unconscious.
Chapter 21 – The sadness you feel when a beautiful woman gets off the subway
The morning had dawned soft and mellow, and all that was attuned to its influence emulated it.
Chapter 22 – The Legend of Moe
A wave began to roll over Chuckles, then paused, rose, and diverted the greater part of itself up his nostrils.
Chapter 23 – A furry way of existence
If it hadn’t been so muddy in stretches he would have been walking on bloody stumps. Which would have produced some damn fine nicknames.
Chapter 24 – Peaches the Poet
Pilgrims, plumbers, poets that can trace their line back to this one-armed seaweed farmer, you are all direct descendants of a poet who washed ashore Joyakdol Island during a typhoon.
Chapter 25 – The Tuba and The Whale – And Her
The bellow of a heavenly tuba keeps me afloat in the preferred reaches of the atmosphere.
Chapter 26 – Eat at Moe’s
When he tossed the bread away and the squirrel raced after it, its balls bounced off the sunburnt ground with every stride.
Chapter 27 – Three drink- and shame-induced nightmares (Part one)
Gizzards under a heat lamp
Chapter 27 – Three drink- and shame-induced nightmares (Part two)
Sadder than a bucket of brown apples
Chapter 27 – Three drink- and shame-induced nightmares (Part three)
A warning for those on speaking terms with their innards
Chapter 28 – Whirligigs in the mind, in the eye, in the sky
He would never be in the middle of the ocean. He had always wanted to be alone on a small boat in the middle of the Pacific. That wasn’t going to happen.
Chapter 29 – My hangover has an entourage / I wish I’d banked some sperm before last night / Coffee’s host organism roars its approval
It was a quiet island morning, and each sound rang clear and unopposed. The morning dew covered everything including eardrums and the silence and the shuffle of papers and then the silence again.
Chapter 30 – The Sapling
I like that about you. You have a bounding mind that is more interested in testing itself than engaging others.
Chapter 31 – The Sauna
The old man nodded as he entered and settled into the corner, and with light-headed resignation Chuckles turned and walked back into the hot room and slowly lowered himself down onto one of the four towel-covered benches that lined the walls.
Chapter 32 – The Universal Constants
Even though they only obscure a slice of the field of vision, they are aptly called blinders. That’s something worth remembering.
Chapter 33 – Television takes the pain away
They would recall movement in the dung pile, a moment of high alert, and then a sudden appeasement, an instantaneous and welcome pacification of cell function.
Chapter 34 – The fine layer of drool in the fossil record
In any human society, a certain percentage of people can be counted on to be drooling believers; others to be the proselytizers of the prevailing thought (the drool dispensers); many to be pliant; and some to be systematically shot, imprisoned, or subjugated.
Chapter 35 – When hoot turns to whimper
“Van. You need to calm down. Speak. Slowly. You can’t snort Saturn’s rings in a day. And they can’t shoot me when they’re asleep.”
Chapter 36 – Thwock
All at once without recognizing experience as discrete sensations which is the story of your life if you want to be told the foolish truth all at once
Chapter 37 – Meet the wet banana in the bed sheets, the turd in the bath towel
A few days later, the sound of static in his head abruptly fell to its usual whisper.
Chapter 38 – A different sort of fellow
“I only played one note the whole night, the lowest note I could play, the one that sounded the most like an ancient barge of gloom signaling an approach that was preordained to be irresistible.”
Chapter 39 – A roundtable discussion
Well, when you have been administered that much acid, it takes the mind so long to be certain that those are, indeed, ants swarming your nub.
Chapter 40 – Lukewarm & Gushy: A Buddy Picture
“Hello? Did someone just talk to me? Somebody just talked to me.”
Chapter 41 – General Kim
A man in a sadly florid dress uniform entered the control room. “Is he talking?”
Chapter 42 – Siberia
I have moved to Siberia to apprentice under the esteemed watchmaker Nikolai Gulav, who has promised to teach me to tell time what to do.
Chapter 43 – Found
Warily, not sure of what would happen if he did it, certain it would hurt like a tick on the eye, but with more single-mindedness than he’d ever possessed in his life, Chuckles bent his elbow.
Chapter 44 – Tiny Bubbles
Well. That was that and nothing else.
Chapter 45 – Warm hugs for the vertebrae
First, there is sleep. Filling the blackness of the womb and the pre-universe. Dreams tempt us with reality, and we wake up for a look-see.
Chapter 46 – Baby talk
When I wake she is hugging as much of my backside as her skeleton allows and dramatically declaiming elementary Spanish to the folds of my ears in her Korean country girl accent.