Brent Powers

The Case

The Walls of Eden are made of pages torn from an unreadable book. That’s how I see it now, the Lost Paradise, which I seem to re-imagine and fabricate with the aid of prompts I find in the rows and rows of cipher … “Fro”… “Guest Mix”… “DJ GEE” … I’m sure that none of it’s anything like what really lies behind the walls.

One question I have which I’ve never even dared to ask, let alone test. Why not simply tear down the walls, they are only paper? Yet I haven’t even touched them. I’m afraid to. It would appear that there is some constraint upon me. Hence I write these fantastic improvisations, these maunderings around vague themes.

Fro, for example. This is a man born out of his time, or so he imagines it. Fro stands on street corners and explains himself as he waves at the traffic (he has taken on the job of serving as Official Greeter to the City). When some pedestrian happens by he just starts right in.

“I am Fro,” he says proudly. “They pulled me out of the ground and sent me forth without preparation. They told me to do what needed to be done, and that’s all. I saw no point to it so I became a slacker right off. Soon I was a Ward of the State. ‘You can’t help yourself,’ they told me. ‘You’ll never amount to anything. But you shall not want. No, you shall not want.’ They gave me money and taught me how to make shoes out of old tires. These I sold on the Avenue at a little above cost. I was allowed to keep what I made which, together with my Government allowance, provided me with a comfortable livelihood. I lived in large crate which I papered over with various samples, making for a striking effect. I lived out in the Baylands alongside the Freeway among all the sculptures and gulls. My neighbors were other people in crates who didn’t speak to me. At some point I may find it necessary to kill them all.”

He goes on like that. He’ll go on all day if you let him. However, sooner or later he wears you out and so you run off screaming. I do, anyway. Perhaps there are others who will abide with him forever.

But here is a faded picture of a floozy at a dance. It must have been a poster ad. I could stalk this broad, she is just my type. She holds bowling pins on straps which she effortlessly dangles from her fingers, one for each hand, the pins I mean. She wears dark glasses. She throws her head back and kisses the air. Ah, how I could ravage her! At least make her happy with my tongue. We could lie among the crates and sculptures, nuzzling in the mud. The gulls would serenade us with their filthy songs. Also they would be allowed to peck at our flesh if they wished, perhaps nibble us away to nothing, that’s nice. This floozy has on a loose fitting silk Flapper dress and a striped jersey underneath. All of this is easy to remove at a moment’s notice. I think they ask her wherever she goes, ‘Will you remove your things, please?’ and she feigns outrage, strikes at them with her bowling pins and they laugh and duck. Then she gets undressed and allows them to sniff at her.

I imagine it would be she who asks me, “Why don’t you just tear the wall down?”

And I would say to her, “I have no answer for you at this time.” It occurs to me now that I never will. I can see no way to accomplish this.

There are clues, of course. Fro is a clue, and so is the floozy. These, together with “Guest Mix” and “DJ GEE”, not to mention the others I will find in the time remaining, could provide me with a solution to El Problema De, which is another one, I should put quotes around it.

DJ GEE, for instance, was the mysterious General of Disk Jockeys for Our Era. I found him among the pages, howling at crowds. He accused the Nation for Which it Stands of sleeping around, of consorting with Known Slackers and Counter-revolutionaries. What’s more of efforts to peck out his eyes on the part of Fro and his legions, of floozies troubling sleep and staining his bedding, of sending anthropologists in to do versionings from his Wailing Wall.

From much of this I could build a case for brazening on in, for calling upon the passing traffic, the ravenous gulls and all the floozies and Fros of this world to enable me, to force action, to tear and enter the Guest Mix, which is what is promised for all your money, your house, your wife and children, your 401K, which is another one, useless, but I can find meaning there, too. Everywhere there is meaning, and it is all related, you can’t stop it, it all knits together in a crazed pattern of recognition and rime, and even though I expect to find these very pages that I write forming part of the Walls I tear away, yet still I know that by this means there will be Justice.

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