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July 6, 2001
"You sick, sick shameless motherfuckers," he's saying. "I'm going to exterminate every single one of you..."
People have been writing me to ask for more frequent updates, or just wondering whether things are all right.
Apparently they haven't seen The Sixth Sense, not read the last piece carefully enough, and/or they missed the front-page article in the Washington Post about the shooting spree early Sunday morning on the metro.
Let me tell you, in the past I mused more than once how much more time I could spend working on things I truly enjoyed if only I didn't have to deal with the overwhelming web of life's obligations -- and boy was I wrong. Being dead is hard work.
There's a pregnant pause, and then he slowly unzips a fanny pack draped low around his right hip. I avert my eyes and look at the little blue lights of the tunnel flashing by. I remember a friend, a first-time visitor to the area, asking me recently whether the lights are blue because it's the blue line.
"No," I repeat the line from the conversation, "this is the orange line but the light is blue anyway." The light is blue anyway. When I turn away from the window he's already locked the magazine in place and there's the familiar, little burst of oven-lighter blue flame inside the impossibly tiny mouth of the gun. The fury it can unleash through that narrow hole is astounding when you think of it -- rip rip rip it's just like snow flurries inside the carriage but it's very fast and it's all orange and red and everybody's screaming.
It turns out this particular section of the tunnel is so straight that the train operator a full car and a half away is hit with a couple rounds, which kill her instantly. By the time the command center can realize what's happening the out-of-control train has plowed into a second one cooling its heels at the next stop and a fireball has engulfed the platform and raced through the escalator tunnels, cremating people on their way down and tossing a parked car out on the street atop a homeless individual turning in for the night across the bench in the little park facing the station entrance.
The ragged blankets hug him as if it's a burial at sea...
It's hard work because your mind doesn't stop:
Who first thought of building a squat lighthouse (and why)?
Am I bad because I've objectified, decontextualized, transmogrified, ogled to the tune of millions of bytes?
What will happen to this year's tax return? Will my people be able to navigate our records and find all our deductions?
Our flowers will probably die before anyone gets to them.
Thank god we don't have a pet.
I never sent the information I promised to Paul Ford and John and Chris.
I never came up with a good ending for my second book. And what if the draft is too embarrassing to read? I had so much work to do on that. So much, damn.
Uhh, the documentary. We were just starting on it. Now what'll happen?
The coffee in the cupboard is going stale. I don't want it served to guests.
Paul Simon to play during, of course. Early period, starting with the very early solo BBC recordings, skipping most of S&G and then most of the early solo work. Family tradition. I'm trying to get some sleep, but these motel walls are cheap. Lincoln Duncan is my name and here's my song. Here's my song.
I want this site to be burned onto CD and tossed on a shelf with a shoebox containing my ashes, to be forgotten. The books, the pictures, the notes, drawings, all that can go to my parents, and they can decide what to do.
Suddenly everything washed out to white -- a spotlight breaking through the sky, a wide beam, focused at first, and then expanding and obliterating the rest of the frame -- and he knew no more of this particular life.
An image appeared before his eyes, a picture he'd taken from the living room of his old house, where the days had been windy with open windows and barking nasty crows flying high perching on the balcony railing trying to rape the gentle pigeons, and of course there were the billowing white curtains from his childhood, and in the warm summer evenings his mother would make tea for them to drink together while they read by that very window. He smiled as brain glops, held together by bloody goo, dribbled out of his skull and bouncing slowly off the orange seats pooled by his twitching feet.
While blocked during the writing of Miller's Crossing, the Coen brothers came up with Barton Fink, a self-absorbed tale of murder and quiet madness. While wrapping up loose pieces for this Web site [you'll eventually read "Tomb of the Unknown Civilian," "Jazz Legend Comes Clean," and even the long-promised "bottle story" called "Trust" right here] I came up with a self-absorbed tale of murder and loud madness. I hope that's OK; I don't have to make sense all the time, right? Now, back to life for a bit...
There's a whole lot more:
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