No Escape Starring Ray Liotta

I cannot talk to people; what I need has outpaced the spoken language. I compensate by dropping words, building sentences like airplanes or beer cans, hand gestures all the time, a new apocopation. Linking verbs, prepositions, articles, and most adverbs have disappeared from my speech. I talk in nouns and guttural intonations. The communication age has left me unable to communicate.

I’m not sure anyone understands our technology anymore; everyone I’ve met who said they did was trying to sell me a cellphone. I think we’re overdue for a dark age; I cannot be the only one who feels this. People who slept through history are doomed to have nightmares about it. People like me. I used to dream about car crashes and now I dream in ringtones. Maybe this is the year we go back to living in caves.

I went to the river park to take the auspices. The pigeons were obese, the geese were disoriented and honking at terriers, a murmuration of starlings was shitting on everything. I wanted to spread the entrails, examine the hidden parts, but there were some children, and a cop.

When I read the paper, I feel like a credit assessor looking at the balance sheet for the Heaven’s Gate cult the day before the comet passed. Like Cassandra pacing behind the crenelations. The Ouija board directs me to websites whose domains have lapsed. If it’s all the same to you, I’d prefer to keep my prophesies a little vague.

Trial by seaweed. Trial by bedbug. Trial by surrounded by wolves.

Scenes from a Bruckheimer movie. Emetic tableaux. The skyline will even itself out, the works of man and dirt will converge, and it will happen very quickly. There will be a lot of screaming. A lot of screaming.

I’m compiling a handbook for the people who come out of the ashes, a Foxfire for the disconnected. The first chapter will be a lesson on phonetics, pictures of dogs and frogs and logs and hopefully a speaker can become a reader. Medicinal uses for cayenne pepper and super glue. Synthesis of algarot and alcohol. Semaphore and the hobo cant. Nutmeg and Aqua Dots. Germ theory might not make the cut. The last page will be Elizabeth Bishop.

If I survive, I’m going to adopt the bootstrap vernacular, the redneck trochee, the hay in the corner of the mouth. I’m going to preface everything I say with “Now I think.” The overalls I bought at Roses will no longer be inappropriate. I will not become a warlord. I will not become a warlord. I will be Kevin Costner in the Postman. I will not be Kevin Costner in Waterworld. I will try to be Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves but I will lack aplomb, though I will see all my pets shot in front of me. I may also be accused of treason.

I will show up at a high school, pretending to be making court appointed amends, here to bear personal testimony that yes, methamphetamine is a terrible life decision. When I get up to that lectern, I’ll break from the script. I will tell them about Savonarola, Quisling, Tina Turner in Thunderdome, things you’d think they ought to learn and that you know they aren’t learning. The precedent for the abuse of power in times of crisis. This is my community service, and I’ll be escorted off the grounds for it.

I’ve been reading up on turnips because you can grow them in the middle of winter when there’s snow on the ground if you really have to. Recipes for dandelion soup; which mushrooms won’t kill you or make you freak out. I’ve been buying up hand tools at garage sales; I’ve been hedging against the future.

I will be Mel Gibson in the Road Warrior. I will not be Mel Gibson in real life. I will be Sellers in Strangelove. I am Dr. Emanuel Bronner in Chicago in 1947. I am Howard Beale, resurrected for another season, come to make my witness. The currency will be blood, meted out in plastic shopping bags with ‘THANK YOU’ printed on the side. No-escape-starring-ray-liotta-eric-ehrnschwender