Tag Archives: Fiction

The Happiness of Kalashnikov

One pretends to be happy, but never to be wretched

✎  Wayne K. Spear | April 17, 2018 · Fiction

M

Y NAME IS KALASHNIKOV, it is true. Some things said of me, in my absence, are true. But also in my presence, some things are true. And yet many things are not true, or are true only in a sense, which is to say only in one sense of the word true. For example: the manner of a fool’s speaking, which is a sense in the form of nonsense, can be said to be true. I am speaking of the fool in Shakespeare, not of the fools one encounters regularly, such as I encounter here. Yes, even now I find that I am surrounded by fools. There is truthful nonsense and non-truthful nonsense, perhaps also sense that is nonsense. There is the untrue which nonetheless is not without truth, not entirely. There are fools, and there are fools.

So much is said in my absence, and I am unable to comment on this, being absent. If I were present, I would comment. Of course I would comment, being present. The absence, the not-being-there, precludes the commenting. The—what is the word for it? Ah, but to use a word is to not name the thing, the absence, and that is the problem, the speaking of it, in the words. One can only speak of the absence wordlessly, in a kind of sleep, the sleep for which I long but which forever (or so it feels) eludes me, until of course it does not. And then what? The unspeakable thing, the wordless thing, the thing we can never describe so long as we can describe.

The things said in my presence are scandalous. Such as: “Kalashnikov is happy.” Yes, they have said this, in words, in my presence. The fools, I mean. Perhaps I am to blame, for it is true that I pretend to be happy. One can only pretend to be happy, and not miserable, obviously. Yes, the thing speaks for itself. For only misery, only pain, only the wretchedness is real. There is no doubting the pain, the reality of the pain, the truth of the pain. But happiness! Well, it is another matter altogether, obviously. The wretchedness is certain, as certain as I, Kalashnikov, am. There is no doubting the pain, the misery, the wretchedness. One pretends to be happy, but never to be wretched, because one has no need of such a thing. And yet they say I am happy, as if they could know. As if I were not dissembling. As if I were not a semblance of a thing rather than the thing itself.

It works as follows. The semblance, I mean. The simulacrum, if that is a word, of happiness. Here is what I do.

First, I show my teeth. I have heard that this is what the happy do. And so everyone gets to see all of my teeth, as well as my gaping mouth, and its hastily masticated contents (for rarely do I chew) at all times.
Second, I repeat the word HAPPY over and over again. Sometimes it is the voice in my head, but from time to time I shout the word HAPPY as loudly as I can. This appears to make a most definite effect. In the bar, in the coffee shop, in the theatre—a good, loud eructation of HAPPY does not go unnoticed. Often, it is rewarded, by recriminations or ejections. Sometimes with joyful banter e.g.: SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU FUCKING CUNT.
Third, I speak loudly. Even when I am not shouting my HAPPY I am loud. The happy ones, the others pretending to be happy, seem to do this, and so I, too, speak loudly. It seems to make the proper effect, which is to say the effect of appearing to be among the happy ones.
Fourth, I carry about with me, at all times and places, a sign saying I AM HAPPY.
Fifth, I cannot recall. I have written it down, I think, in my book. The book where I write all things down, as I am even now writing.
Sixth, I am in continuous motion. Or continual. I confuse these terms, the continuous and the continual, please forgive me. What I mean to say is that I am forever in motion. One might even call it a gyration, if that is a word. If it is not, one may still say it. For once it is said, it is a word.

There appears to be no seventh. I thought I had written seventh in my book, but perhaps not. Perhaps I only imagine it. Or perhaps seventh is merely sixth restated, in which case why bother committing it to memory? If seventh is only sixth restated, as I suspect that it is, then to hell with seventh! Yes, I mean literal hell, the place of eternal burning. There is no need of metaphor here. Let us say no more of this infernal eternal business of the burning seventh, the destroyer, the very Beelzebub of my schemata.

And yet there ought to be a seventh, 7 being a sacred number. Why there is no seventh is a mystery, unless there is a seventh and I am simply unaware of it, which is likely, very likely indeed. So let us say there is an unknown seventh, and perhaps even an unknowable seventh, for aesthetic and schematic purposes. To do otherwise is a scandal and an outrage, an offence against those who pretend to know god, who pretend to believe in god.

I am speaking of the happy times in which we live. The President is happy, the world is happy, and the people are happy. Which people? Well, all of the people, of course! They move and speak, all of the people, as the happy do. I can say no more of it, it is a matter of national security. They have whispered to me in dark corridors of the President’s happiness, but I can say no more of it. They assure me the President is happy, and I have no reason to doubt it, beyond the reasons I have adumbrated, above, or have not adumbrated, which are many. Nor can I say who They are—they, the ones who whisper to me from the happy places. It may be the voice in my head. Yes, it has occurred to me that the whisperings may all be in my head. It has occurred.

Yes, everyone is happy. All of us together, pretending to be happy, are what we appear to be. That is what I meant to say earlier, before the unfortunate derailments, if that is a word. Before the digression, the perambulation, the odyssey, the peripatecian, the excursion, the circumlocution, the fucking around. Did I not say I was forever in motion, the happy one? No, perhaps not. And perhaps in not saying so I failed in my duty, the highest duty of a patriot, to dissemble at being happy, along with all the others, pretending to have the desires (desire!) of one’s heart fulfilled, pretending to believe that all is well, that all will be well, Amen.

Kalashnikov, Resurrected

I am returned, in the time of Spring

✎  Wayne K. Spear | April 5, 2018 · Fiction

Boiler Room

M

Y NAME IS KALASHNIKOV, it is true. And it is true I have come again, after a long absence, and after a kind of silence, in the season of the resurrection. Yes, even at the time of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

When the thought of a return arises, naturally the season of resurrections presents itself. Naturally, one chooses an auspicious moment, the moment of ripeness, the ripe moment. Or perhaps it is the moment when the thought of ripening occurs, the moment when Spring is at hand, that one thinks of a return. In any case, I am returned, in the time of Spring and in the time of rebirth and in the time of resurrection and ripening.

It happened as follows. I say that I thought of it, or that one thinks of it, by which I mean to say the returning and the resurrecting. But that is not exactly the case. I, Kalashnikov, was, for a time. Yes, most definitely, I was. In the flesh, in the word, in every sense of the word was, I was. For a time, of course. And then I was not, neither in the flesh nor in the word. The wasness yielded to nonwasness, which I shall call the silence, or the not thinking. Yes, that is it. The others spoke of Ivans and Dmitris and Yvors, but not of Kalashnikov. Because of course there was nothing to speak of, nor nothing of which to think. I was, and I was not, for a time. How could I have thought of a second coming, under such circumstances? Under such non-circumstances!

You may ask how long I was away, but I am unable to answer. It may have been an hour, or perhaps a year, perhaps also an eternity. It was probably not an eternity. Nor, in all statistical likelihood, which is the likelihood that matters most, an hour. To disappear, into the notwas unbeing silent nonexistence of oblivion, for one hour, is frankly impractical. It shows an utter disrespect for the thing. It is, in a word, impolite. One ought to undertake annihilation with more vinegar than that, if one is at all serious. To pass into this Beyond, and to return an hour later, is an affront to all that is holy. Therefore I am of the view that it was not an hour.

To have been gone an eternity seems unlikely. To begin, eternity is long. Imagine a long time, and multiply this long time by an infinity of long times, and then double this amount an infinite amount of doubles. I will wait. This may take some time, but no matter. I will be here when you are done. And when you are done, stack the amount on top of an equal amount, and double this infinitely, on an infinite redoubling of infinite redoublings. And the result will be nothing as compared to eternity!

It follows that I was away more than an hour and less than an eternity. And it follows that I was likely away at least a month, but probably no more than a year, for after a year one longs to return. It is the nature both of longing and of returning. It doubtless has something to do with the seasons, with the changing of weather, with the coming of Spring. After a time, one hankers for the return. I am speaking of hankering, of the nature of the hanker, of hankerings, of Hankerology. It is a well-documented thing, a matter of near certainty, this business of the hanker.

So many have departed. For example, I too once worked for the President. Once he and I were close, not as objects are close but rather as ideas are close, such as the idea of coming and the idea of hankering and the idea of Spring. Once, the President placed great faith in me, close as we were—in a conceptual sense, please note. The President trusted my words, my counsel, my notions, no matter how delusional or no matter how much under the influence of my medications. “I have full confidence in Kalashnikov,” he said. “Kalashnikov is not about to disappear into the silent unbeing,” he said. “It is fake news,” he said. “The rotten bastard, Kalashnikov, who I love.”

Imagine my surprise when I returned, in the time of the resurrection. It was not my idea, nor my will. I did not think of it, beyond all thought as I was, or was not, in the notwasness. It was not against my will, but also it was not my will. Will had nothing to do with it. Say nothing of will, it is a matter of irrelevance. As I said, I fell into a kind of silence. “A kind?” you say. “Well, what kinds of silence are there?” First, the not-speaking silence, the negative silence of negation. But there is also the silence of things that are not negation but are nonetheless silent, such as prayer. Or a silent fart, often the most deadly of farts, but not in this case. That was the kind of silence that I was, or rather was not: a prayer-fart, without sound and without smell. Not being able to speak of it, I did not speak. It was and yet was not. That gets to the heart of it, I think.

Yes, the heart, that bloody organ to which we advert in moments like this, when the invocation of an organ is requisite. It could well have been another organ. Goodness knows that the heart is among the least favorite of my organs, like the brain, very near the bottom of the list. If I am pressed to come up with an organ, then, yes, I may blurt out BRAIN! despite myself. Or I may scream FOOT, which is not an organ but let us not dwell on this. I am saying If pressed, there is a chance such words will issue from my orifice. My preference would be to return at the time of the erection, with a giant priapus. I am speaking of steely resolve, of standing tall and ready: I, at your cervix, ready to take matters into my own hand, if I must. Which, most days, I must. Ah the blessed days when I am taken by another hand, a stranger hand, in the alley or whilst riding the subway! I come with no hidden pudenda, cocksure, eye on the ball, a penetrating question on the mind. I take no responsibility. It is simply the time when one does such things.

The time, I mean, of seed and sun. The time of pilgrimages and of rebirth, of birds and flowers, of regeneration. In a word, of fucking. Yes, that is the word, the precise word for it. The dirty dirty life-force unleashed upon God’s blessed creation. He gazes down upon the fucking dogs and the fucking cats and the fucking ants and the fucking capybaras. Presumably, too, he looks down upon I, Kalashnikov, almost hidden from sight in the boiler room, furiously tugging at my engorged member, to no use, to no use. In my own way, I get into the Spirit of the thing, with help from the videos. I see roughly how it is done. Spittle appears to help. I shout OHMYGOD at what seems to be the advisable juncture. I search the boiler room for a proper hole, this business of holes apparently critical to the success of the enterprise. It is the Life Principle that compels me. I am at one with the life-force, as I make sweet love to the furnace.

As I said, I mean only to get into the spirit of the season, to not be apart or left out or otherwise non-participatory. Everywhere life returns to the Earth; everywhere there is romance and love and intercourse. And so I throw myself into it, with abandon, with all that I have. I have crossed the Lubicon, shouting, “Alea ejecta est!” It is my second coming, already today. I, Kalashnikov, returned after a kind of silence, from the non-being nothing of eternal notwasness.

Why Do We Dream?

Would a life of only agreeable experiences be as rich and profound as a life of at least some struggle and suffering?

✎  Wayne K. Spear | February 1, 2018 • Personal Essay

W

HY DO WE DREAM? Why the dreams of stress and misery, of being lost, of wandering, missing the train and having no phone nor money, sometimes not even clothing. The dreams are always of failure and disappointment, always of appointments about to be missed. A wrong bus taken, a wrong turn on a highway that allows no going back. And there I find myself, alone, in a wilderness, sometimes at a border I must but cannot cross. There is a sense of urgency, a deadline, a nameless necessary place I cannot reach. There is no one to call, nowhere to go. What is to be done?

I pick up the boxes or the bags, or whatever burden I am compelled to carry. A wagon, or a set of luggage. Something awkward and useless, but indispensable, on a path of deep mud. A cold wind, water, rough stones underfoot. It is dark, and the rain is heavy. My vision is obscured, by snow or by fog. I am miles from anywhere, from everywhere, arms filled with something that does not help me on the voyage but which I must carry, for reasons unknown. I don’t know who has given me these possessions, if that’s what they are, or where I will take them. There is always one thing I have managed to drop or otherwise misplace—the one, critical thing. A passport or a receipt, a map, instructions, a phone number. It is gone, and though I search for it again and again, I find nothing. I cannot go home or reach my destination. I am suspended in a story with no arc and no momentum. I may well remain here forever.

The landscape changes in an instant. I am on a bus, but now I am in a boat. We reach the shore, and I step out, but the dry land is suddenly an ocean and the boat is slipping away too fast for me to swim. I call out but no one hears, and I watch the boat get smaller and then vanish. The ocean becomes desert. I drag my belongings through deep sand. Nothing makes sense. Why am I in a desert? I know only that there is an appointment which must be kept. To miss it is to suffer an unbearable blow. I must find a phone. I must let them know that I have been delayed, that I am doing my best to arrive, only give me more time. I am trying as best I can, I will tell them, and I will be there. Just give me more time.

I have this dream almost every night. A dream of terror from which I wake in a panic, my heart pounding. My mind torments me in my sleep for reasons I cannot understand. I am lost without recourse and the world I have known slips away, but there is nothing I can do. A dream that means nothing, that warns me of nothing, that solves nothing. Why do I dream?

A night arrives when I lie down for sleep and I tell my mind the dream I want to have when I am gone. Where I have got this idea, I can’t say. It is an experiment, an act of desperation. I describe the dream in as much detail as I can manage. I don’t want to leave anything to chance. So I describe what I am doing in the dream, perhaps floating in water (but not drowning!) or flying in air (but not pursued!) and I choose a place, also, such as the tropics or a Mediterranean port town, Venice, or a house from my childhood. And the people I want to see there, I specify this too. What will we talk about? The happy times, things that draw laughter, beauty. All that is impossible in life, I describe. The departed will be there. I will breathe underwater. I will have dinner with the dead and a journey into space. I know that my mind has an agenda, to introduce monsters, so I interpolate the fantastic on my own terms. There will be palaces and ocean creatures and other-worldly beings, not of the menacing variety but come to reunite with their sundered kin.

They come not bearing unresolved guilt, but joy. Everything that has been buried remains buried, including the mind, submerged and inscrutable, burdened by its inheritance and longing to be set free. And so I am clear about my desire. I would prefer not to see the half-rotted faces, the ghosts, the brutal finality of cul-de-sacs. I don’t wish to be trapped or lost or set on a fool’s errand. I want to feel love, and not terror or sadness. I tell this to my mind as I prepare for sleep. I know that life is loss and pain, but if one can confect a dream, then why not a dream of happiness?

To my surprise I find that this works, even if imperfectly. The departed return to sit for tea. There is no grief, no dragging of luggage through a useless desert. I discover that the imagination invents pleasure as easily as it invents pain. Would a life of only agreeable experiences be as rich and profound as a life of at least some struggle and suffering? Perhaps, but this is invention, not life. In life, no one chooses the losses, the pain, the tragedy. In life, one is chosen.

The suffering return from their journey bearing wisdom. We whisper in their presence, awkwardly, our faces grown longer. Wherever they go, those who suffer find streets of dark water, and when we stumble upon them we phrase our greeting with care. They did not ask for the journey, and we don’t want to know too much about it, but they return holding a marvellous gem that they alone can explain. A gem from a dream of the departed who haunt them. A dream not of the day but of the relentless, interminable day. A fascinating gem that I do not want to ever hold.