Chapter one is here.
“When I had journeyed half of our life’s way, I found myself within a shadowed forest, for I had lost the path that does not stray…I cannot clearly say how I had entered the wood; I was so full of sleep just at the point where I abandoned the true path,”
No wait, shoot, that’s Dante. It’s hard to make an audio-diary, but the note in my rollerboard said I have to record my journey or be banished to the Pinch-Punch vats. Crap. I hate the sound of my own voice and I can’t think of anything to say. Crap. Okay, let’s try that again:
How does one fall through a skylight into new life? In the dream I was knitting an endless afghan with which to cover the earth, in which to wrap it, to snuggle it, until all the icecaps I had always meant to scale melted, wetting the earth’s blanky like a baby. In the dream I was also the earth, and also the afghan, which was woven of scraps of paper sack, heirlooms from past centuries, barbed wire, and the fine blond hair of little sisters.
The sign did not say WELCOME. I would not have known this because I crashed through the skylight and landed face-up on the bar, faces of drunks looming above me like funeral flowers. I couldn’t tell if they were laughing or crying. They brutally brushed my hair, so that my scalp bled pleasantly. My whole body bled pleasantly upon my arrival, as if my old life were draining out of my body.
Whoa, audio-diaries are super-dramatic. I think I love audio-diaries. They make my life seem way more important than it is.
“What do you drink in your neck of the country, sister?” said the bartendress. “Cuz I know
you don’t come from ‘round here.”
She was a giantess, with gold fingernails like claws, or switchblades, or switchblade claws. She looked vaguely famous, but I wasn’t sure; I am a knitter; I don’t believe in television.
“Um, I was knitting an afghan in which to cover the earth?” I said.
“Caravaggio! You’re supposed to be barbacking! Paint me up a Pinch-Punch chaser for this freak-ass transient!” She tried to snap her fingers, but her switchblade nails just sort of clacked together.
“Fuck off, TYRA, or I’ll stab your tits,” said Caravaggio in a Boston accent.
He sat Indian-style atop a table in the darkest corner of the bar, wearing a purple wig and wildly patterned swimming trunks. He began fingerpainting a portrait of my dream. In the painting the earth was being smothered, not happily bundled; the earth was suffocating. He made suffocating noises as he painted to ensure that I understood this. He poured the painting into a frosty mug.
TYRA slammed a shot glass full of glowing liquid down on the bar.
“Um, is this a liquer? Because I’m a knitter, and I don’t believe in--”
“Drink up!” TYRA said. “Or Caravaggio will stab your tits.”
“Drink up or I’ll stab your tits,” said Caravaggio. “Cuz that’s what I do for a hobby, is stab tits and play my brand of bocci where I throw the balls at people’s faces. See that broad over there? The plus-sized one? Check out the number I did on her.”
“They call me Ye Old Blackeye of Bloody Tit now,” she said. “I used to be called Sunshine, after the bread.”
Everyone at the bar chanted “Pinch-Punch, Pinch-Punch, Pinch-Punch.”
I had never done a shot before; this one tasted like the sweat of tiny animals, namely teacup piglets. It kicked my ass right off the barstool and onto the floor.