July 18, 2012

(First, my new chapbook, Organ Meat, Killing Me is now available at http://turtleneckpress.com/our-chapbooks/. Buy a copy, then come hear me read from it in Brooklyn on August 4. Moving on… the other day, I named my new novel characters. But something felt off. The names weren’t right. So I made them more abstract. Some inspiration might have been drawn from Twin Peaks. You know, Log Lady, Man from Another Place, that sort of thing. Twin Peaks is freaking awesome.)

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     i kick the oven. i walk back and forth frantically, my eyes watering as i walk around the corners and double back into rooms. [my eyes burn, i whisper. my eyes burn.] i lean over and rest my forehead against my thighs for a moment. the oven bumps against my waist. [the boy seems nice, the ceiling says.] [SLENDER saw him, i say.] the floor sighs. [SLENDER? the real SLENDER? or your bathtub entity, the floor asks.] i glare at the tiles and slip onto the floor. [of course, the real SLENDER, i say. i’m not stupid. i know what i’m saying. i know what i saw. SLENDER is out there, the half-man, half-octopus. i saw him. and he tried to scrape my brains out of my head. he tried to eat THE MAN WITH A YELLOW SOUL.] the oven giggles. [THE MAN WITH A YELLOW SOUL, it asks. the man is THE MAN WITH A YELLOW SOUL, now? as if we should recognize his bones in case SLENDER sucks you both dry.] the oven spills gasoline on the floor. i turn to the side and wipe the gasoline away. [stop it, i say. you aren’t blowing the kitchen up, even if SLENDER is lurking outside.] the floor bumps my foot. [so you sent the man away. you sent him into the heat, into the sunshine, into the place where SLENDER hums. were you trying to kill him? were you considering breaking his joints into pieces as some sort of fun? do you want SLENDER to share his skin with you when the time comes? because SLENDER might not be a good sharer. but it never hurts to ask, the floor says.] i lean against the wall, dropping my head back until my scalp smacks the plaster. the wall slithers beneath my head. plaster drips onto my shoulders. [the ground is wet, the floor whispers. the ground beneath. the ground i forget. but SLENDER never forgets. SLENDER remembers everything. and you must remember SLENDER or else he will bite the stitching out of your nose. don’t you have a painting to finish?] i lick my chops angrily, my tongue pushing against the cheeks until my face is warped. i relax my tongue and my skin returns to its normal shape. [i wanted THE MAN WITH A YELLOW SOUL to get away. SLENDER was gone and i wanted THE MAN WITH A YELLOW SOUL to be safe. i don’t want SLENDER to hurt him, i say.] the oven laughs. it opens its door and slams it shut. [so says our little girl. to save the boy, she must sacrifice. but what about SLENDER? what does SLENDER sacrifice in the state of your name? what does SLENDER make sense of while holding a needle over his head? SLENDER is a bad boy. and he has thousands of arms. you don’t want SLENDER to touch you. then you’ll feel like a worm. but you can’t follow SLENDER either. he’ll bring you to the diseased place, the corridor of red wine and gold shavings. you don’t want to touch that acidic metal. it’ll burn through your hands and then you’ll lack palms. what good is a hand if you can’t use it to hold anything? how do you measure with the palm, the oven hisses.] i shake my head and the oven bumps my face. my teeth break through my bottom lip and blood runs down my chin. i wipe the blood away aggressively, moving my hand so quickly, my wrist aches. i brush it over my skin and flick the blood away. [i didn’t want SLENDER to see him. not when he can’t see SLENDER, i say. i liked SLENDER better when i thought he was a bathtub. i liked him better when his appendages were faucets turning on and off with a rusted squeak. but what good are the bones now? now he has tentacles. now i can’t stop him because his smile appears and disappears and he’ll wear us on his head like a hat. how can he walk without having eyes? how can he breathe without having a nose? he doesn’t have any real appendages or features. i don’t understand. how does he live?] the ceiling bends towards me. plaster tiles bump my face gently in a clumsy caress. i turn my head away and the plaster rests on my shoulders for a moment, pinning me into place. [stop crying, the ceiling whispers. you’re better than that. you don’t cry. you crawl into ovens. you try to asphyxiate in the heat. you don’t sit in a corner feeling terrible. we understand that you like the man. we see it in your face. and we like that he makes you happy. a doctor is good. a doctor can heal the wounds SLENDER makes on your arms. a doctor can stitch you up tightly. but a doctor isn’t immune to SLENDER. a doctor is just a man who understands bacteria, viruses, disease. a doctor is just a man.] i lean over and rest my chin on my knees. blood soaks into my pants and i lift my head slightly to watch a scarlet puddle flare out of my knee. the blood travels through the fabric, branching off into small tributaries and capillaries. i breathe slowly. the ceiling rubs my face. skin comes off the cheek. i wince. [you hurt her, the oven hisses at the ceiling.] [i did not hurt her, the ceiling screams. i would never hurt her. i might make mistakes but i am not SLENDER.] i lean over and lower myself into a reclining position on the floor. the floor pushes against my back. my spine cracks gently. i squeeze my eyes shut and release. [what if i gave SLENDER an offering, i ask.] [an offering to SLENDER, the appliances ask. what kind of offering? not a fruit. SLENDER would never accept a fruit. something else. something better. a steak. a bone. we might have an offering stuffed into the walls. you can never trust refrigerators.] i sit up and press my head to the wall. i listen to the plaster. [it has to be a broken bone, i whisper. something that lets the fat out. a bone wrapped in rancid meat.] the plaster clatters approvingly.

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