8 ½ : Or the Unexpected Virtue of Being Unable to Forget

“You promised the other one was the last one.”

“Well baby I still got things to say. This one might sting a bit.”

But that comes later. After you’ve discovered the empire I founded without your love.

They call it a residency to narrow down the parameters of what the hell it is. It’s more of a tree house without the trunk to garble it together. It’s in fact the outside set of stairwells and adjoining stairwells of the building next to it.

No space is left unnoticed and uncovered. Cardboard, squishy bubble wrap, and ropes dangle from every section. They are laid down in clumps of twelve so as to create support for the base. Roadblocks are reframed as doorways. Blue tape tethers the loose ends. Gold spray paint hastily mashes into pink and purple to form something mistaken for a canvas. Sheetrock forms the illusion of beanbags. Castles of books with DVDs as their moats line one section. A sole screen on a revolving table. This is the exception to the rule of “nothing intangible.” A set of flickering light bulbs dangle from a rope at the top of the catacombs. Cut outs of Bonnie and Clyde and Mickey and Mallory on the first level. The pine from fallen oaks hug the shadows cast by the Christmas lights.

All throughout, Words: Revolution, Surrender, Selflessness, Unrequitable, Fireball, Effervescent. Words with disparate connections tied together by fishing lining.

There are layers upon worlds here. Caverns with seemingly no depths. Structures with the absence of hierarchy. Insularity as a myth that was left out of the oral tradition. It is a reckless shelter for these apocalyptic days. Amplifying the Bad and Minimal Good. All are welcome. But no one is ever properly invited.

The building my secret universe of stairwells is stapled to moonlights as both a club and a theater. My penance for my shortsightedness in the General-All-Of-It is to operate as the venue’s eternal AV technician.

And of course You’re staring in a production there.

For months I man the scaffolds, tiptoeing with the deliberateness of a prisoner trying to escape his captors. I cast the lights your way setting the course for the dozen of future broken boys who will clamor for that exact moment when they first saw your face. Your outfits change and embolden with the seasonal tilts. Your expressions retain the bronze steel of their jaw dropping sincerity all through the whipped cream and sunscreen applied to you per setup. Your movements always a step closer to the other side of spontaneity.

This ritual persists for a time that even Bill Murray would consider obscene.

On other nights when you aren’t there, when the afterlife of the theater/commune is pulled into the strobe lights, I slip my way into the fortress. A whiskey sour here, a foreigner there, a molly somewhere in the middle…the ingredients for the ceaseless glory always out of my grasp. And when the sun returns to me, like those nights in Europe long ago, I return to my kingdom alone.

On the night in question, a slew of monitors descend into the theater company interrupting the dress rehearsal.

Armando Christian Pérez (Pitbull) has won the democratic primary. He is now poised to run against Abby Huntsman in the 2032 Presidential Election.

I am standing in the far end watching the spectacle unfold as all are and you turn to see me. We lock eyes momentarily and I scurry away to my cave-lands.

It’s raining.

You follow me.

I leap from rope to rope to the upper levels. You’re running as quickly as you can. You stop. Someone is calling your name.

I descend to see where the tracks paused. He is standing holding your arms and places a kiss on your cheek. You embrace him and rest your head on his chest.

It’s still raining.

He sees me. For some reason he stamps out a cigarette and tells me frankly how to properly put one out so as to not light fire to the structure. He is saying all of this in a British accent.

As his ginger hair casts a thick hue  through the downpour, I see magnified through the glimmer how inconsequential I actually am.

I make my way upstairs, him behind you still chatting away, you grasping at my leg.

I shake you loose and pause in one of the hardly stable constructed rooms.

We speak for a moment but nothing noteworthy comes out.

You say something about moving but I don’t catch what.

A well dressed Italian man carrying a statue of Jesus tears down the banners with the strung up words.

A German Artist Collective passes through moments after, wheat pasting the walls in faded brown with a phrase:

“Know Hope”

A short Irishman follows not long after that and with his guitar smashes the K & W in the phrase into charcoal bits.

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