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  1. ANIMALS
  2.  
  3. 1.
  4.  
  5. That day was Animal Assisted Happiness for the specially-educated kids at Argonaut.
  6.     The workers were bussed in, pink pigs and gray hens came out of the trucks, sand was spread out…
  7.     The day was sunny, Argonaut was clean; clucking and chirping rose up in the hidden backlots, while the rest of the intelligent school worked in order to give society and their parents late-age satisfaction and permanent rest.
  8.     The boy S. was mistakenly transported along with the lines of retarded children; he thought they were all going to get candy somewhere, and that even he could tag along.
  9.     But he found it hard to listen to them, and he withdrew into his own tired mind, trying to have the peace of sadness there. S. drifted amongst the workers in the sandy dust…
  10.     A young man, not having arrived with the workers, appeared from the distances of the haze, with dust devils raging in the background. He was carrying a big pig on his shoulder, as if he still had to prove he was a god; his uniform was blue; the pig was brown, pink and strong, riding the bumps of his steps as a ship in an even sea.
  11.     Then, reaching the pen of hay, the worker took the pig from his shoulder, tossed it and spun it in the air as a cook spins the dough of a pizza, showing to the cheering children with his slim strong shoulders the fun a pig could have while flying. Then he set it down in the hay.
  12.     S. followed him and asked him if he really liked the retarded children.
  13.     ‘For an idiot stands like a shrub, a sterile node that shall not bless-with-children,’ said S, observing him pretending to unload the trucks. ‘How do their parents survive, having to pretend for years that they love them?’
  14.     The man stopped in his tracks and, changing appearances, with gloating eyes, cut a cigarette in the shadows of the truck, and looked down haughtily at S.
  15.     The smoke rose into the dusty air, and his eyes were like cut shining diamonds in a gray fur.
  16.     S. lowered his head, saying: ‘The parents received their arrivals with smiles forced to be one-hundred percent…but night by night, they grew tired of smiling; and secretly blaming the other, stayed together, in part for the remembrance of love, in greater part for duty.’
  17.     The young man scoffed ironically, ‘Of course we do not really like them. We do this to signal altruism, to impress girls, to lessen our own sadness; sometimes we gain a perverse sustenance by crying and observing that they are happier than we are.’
  18.     S. shifted in place, looking in the agony of unsatisfaction.
  19.     ‘So what,’ said the young worker, ‘if one or two of them has parents who are really proud of them, even of their slobbering? Evolution will one day make them extinct, while you and I will continue living the life of genes.’
  20.     ‘I agree,’ said the boy. ‘There’s no need for me to be jealous. Their parents can only pretend to be proud of them.’
  21.     ‘And if one or two do not feel disgusted by their child, what is it to you?’
  22.     ‘And they are too friendly with each other, the hierarchy of the real world seems amiss…’
  23.     But a bully came parading amidst the retarded children with all the air of a prince amongst lesser men, raising his arms up for no reason and smiling with satisfaction, declaring he was a princess.
  24.     S. watched anxiously and raised his chin with keen satisfaction.
  25.     The young worker drew close, leaning his tall form like a shadow over S., so that the day darkened, and passed a hand across S.’s chest, with precise fingers, so that he was moved to unbearable lust; but the moment S.’s hand stretched out, the man melted into a shadow and posed as a rabbit in a nearby fence.
  26.     S. went to the rabbit, where there were only a few retarded children, knelt down and was glad that someone liked him. ‘At times people have wanted my soul,’ he said. ‘But I always really wanted them just to eat me up entire.’
  27.     But the handsome T. and his friends came by and pushed out the retarded children; with their fellow children in whom there was no playfulness, they stood guard so that none could pet the animals without feeling gay.
  28.     ‘We knew you were a faggot,’ cried T., thrilled. ‘But we did not know we could call you retarded, too.’
  29.     S. blushed and, scratching the sand with his shoe, looked down at his own shadow.
  30.     ‘There are all sorts of names you could call me,’ he said softly and quietly.
  31.     But gradually they were distracted by the animals. It was near a play-structure where S. often conversed with the voice of Jesus underneath the webbed plastic floors. The winter oaks raised into the air cold and spindly happiness.
  32.     S. went to the nearby creek to pee into the cold rushing waters. There, he saw the girl J. standing over the waters, with their friend Jesus peeking out from a winter oak.
  33.     ‘I had not known I could see so much, so much,’ she said, weeping.
  34.     S. walked up timidly and hid behind the oak trees with Jesus as they watched the girl weep over the rushing water, straightening her hair with her hands.
  35.     ‘The water, sleeping in curls by the dead rocks, shows the image of the sky…’ began S.’s thought.
  36.     ‘This is evidence that my parent is not a demon. My father loves you,’ said the child Jesus. ‘Just not your body. His human statues sicken him, preferring the clean locution of marble.’
  37.     S., still not used to how Jesus could read his thoughts, said nothing more, hoping that Jesus would continue to like him. For they were both rather rare and queer.
  38.     They went back to the pens of animal. Their friend Soren came by and, staring sadly and blankly at a rabbit, as if it were indeed the essence of a rabbit, said nothing.
  39.     ‘I help everyone with their homework, in the hopes of getting class president,’ he said at last, frowning. ‘But nobody helps me.’
  40.     ‘That’s okay,’ said S., trying to hide behind Jesus’s shoulder. ‘I’ll vote for you.’
  41.     ‘I am absolutely being murdered by geometry,’ Soren whispered. ‘Ministering to everyone, no one ministers to me.’
  42.     ‘We are each of us the genius diagnostician of our own illness,’ said. S, ‘which we can’t beat; for we can’t erase our selves. We all like to give advice, but we can’t heal ourselves.’
  43.     Soren said: ‘Everyone is very selfish.’
  44.     ‘Yes,’ replied S., ‘who is Everyone, that he is always getting ministered to, without giving back? There is this whole world-system where everyone gives but nobody receives.’
  45.     ‘I’ve had enough of it,’ Soren said. ‘Starting from today, I’ll demand money for my help.’
  46.     ‘Water says splash splash,’ said S. ‘Cows go moo moo. But humans say all sorts of things, while never saying their essence. If you should discover the human moo, you should heal our language and ourselves.’
  47.     But S. turned aside, for he thought he saw the young worker lying down on a tarp, for a nap, as a god will sometimes take a younger boy to sleep alongside and within a river, so that he may observe fishes forever.
  48.     But it was only another tarp wrapped up, bound by cords, like a body upon a bed, twisted in agony, hiding its face in its chest, covering its ears and head with its arms, to avoid the discovery of unspeakable things…
  49.     ‘Oh,’ said S., biting his own lip in sadness.
  50.     ‘Your cells fidget,’ Jesus said to him, taking him out of his silence, ‘Obey my father, and they become obedient stone, like those lovers who were frozen in Pompeii.’
  51.     Other children had come about. One of the retarded children, squatting by the pen of deer, said in a loud voice, ‘My older brother gives me candy everyday. The medicine packets he receives in the mail everyday always have a salt-water taffy, for me to chew.’
  52.     S., unaware that T. and his friends had come over, said: ‘The world is in the process of healing itself. Soon even the medicines shall taste good, not sticking in our throats everyday and wishing to dissolve in an agony of choking.’
  53.     But T. and his friends ridiculed him so that he stamped his feet, wept, and closed his eyes. Jesus disappeared and posed as the sky.
  54.     A teacher came over and asked why S. was crying, if the other students were being mean to him, if his parents had to be called.
  55.     ‘I’m not sad,’ said S., wiping his eyes. ‘I’m just filled with the holy spirit.’
  56.     When they returned, scared off by the teachers like crows by a scarecrow, T. said: ‘Crying is like candy for the gays.’
  57.     ‘Indeed,’ replied S. ‘Especially gay people cry.’
  58.     ‘Faggot,’ said T., along with his friends. ‘You’re both special-ed and gay at the same time.’
  59.     ‘But I have friends who like me,’ replied S. ‘They are low in status and like each other.’
  60.     ‘Where are these friends of yours?’
  61.     ‘They are posing as the rabbits.’
  62.     Taking him to be insane, T. and the others left off.
  63.     ‘The meek weep,’ said Jesus, materializing out of the ashamed wind. ‘My father destroys the strong.’
  64.     ‘The holy spirit is full of tears,’ said S.
  65.     ‘I made that,’ said Jesus. ‘I made it that way.’
  66.     ‘How does he destroy them, Jesus?’
  67.     ‘He takes out their lungs, and forces them down their throats again.’
  68.     ‘What of their intestines?’
  69.     ‘He pulls them out, and binds their throats while the intestines still throb.’
  70.     ‘Do their fingers go untouched?’
  71.     ‘He uses their fingers to pull triggers and start wars that their children must fight in.’
  72.     ‘I am so happy this happiness is not allowed,’ said S. ‘Soon, I shall have psychosis, and a toothache.’
  73.     Jesus beckoned and they went to the play-structure and crouched together under the shadows, on the tanbark.
  74.     Recently S. had started an anonymous newsletter, read by Soren and J., and Jesus wanted to talk to him about it, before the teachers confiscated it for being suicidal and dark and disturbing.
  75.     ‘My kingdom is whole,’ he said with finality, after some harsh words. ‘And this playground, under the gracious God, has flattened the need for your newsletter, or poetry.’
  76.     ‘What?’ said S., hurt, realizing that the entire day Jesus had this pent up in him.
  77.     ‘Poets who love me must give up their hands to rest transparent in me.’
  78.     ‘But I am no poet. Anyway my newsletter is largely unread, it is said to be too nerdy and timeless. I only I, Jesus.’
  79.     ‘But there is no poetry in my kingdom, only the angels’ breathless praising.’
  80.     ‘So there is praising up there. But this playground, and its newsletter, is for my friends and I. We are too tired, we can’t climb that high, we hear even the bullies make it up there.’
  81.     ‘Death to you, Samuel,’ said Jesus, letting him hear it. ‘You have stolen from you and your friends, and perhaps this whole playground, the resurrection and the meaning of life. Already, some bad elements in the heavens have taken hold of your newsletter and mean to start for tragedy and amusement a secession of clouds in the sky.’
  82.     ‘But the others just said it was gay poetry and had no content. The girls said it was poetic! They all are not at war, thus they do not have ears for me. Neither ears.’
  83.     ‘I am the resurrection, and the meaning of life. Remember your place – confused reincarnation of a major prophet. Or I’ll have my father hit you in a way you don’t desire.’
  84.     ‘The meaning of life is fulfillment,’ replied S., not at all timidly, taking a stand, despite having no one around him to defend, ‘We don’t want resurrection. We want to be happy together, we have planned to become friends at summer camps, and to have the sun rise in a damp field.’
  85.     Jesus prevented graves from opening up in anger.
  86.     S. went on, putting his hands on the sides of his neck timidly and lowering his head, like a feeding animal, in fear: ‘We’d like to hold hands without having to die first, and we’d also like that our dogs talk to us.’
  87.     ‘To have a nice playground with all the bullies cauterized or dead?’
  88.     ‘It is because they speak the language of faggotry and gays, and do not know the happiness of my tongue.’
  89.     Jesus did not reply.
  90.     ‘But you were ninety-two percent right, and eight percent wrong,’ said S. ‘My people remain in endless suffering because of that last eight percent. Because you put into your scripture one bad word, we have been persecuted to bits with no mercy, and our parents throw up when they think about us.
  91.     ‘And though poetry comes from my mouth, still, it is the very meaning of life, soft and nutritious as purple beans.’
  92.     S. went on: ‘Life had no meaning, the pages were blank, until life became luminous with meaning; our walks were better than having children. And the eight percent who were left in the loathing darkness were left as the remainder who remained.
  93.     ‘And not just 144,000 of us overcame, but even our fingertips made it into the kingdom to come.
  94.     ‘And not a loser is left in the outskirts. He who was despised has been given a cat, and a swan loved him for a bit, so that he knew what it felt like and it resolved into rest.
  95.     ‘Don’t you regret that eight percent…? Don’t you wish you could take back a word or two? – but the rest of your words were truly poetical!’ he inserted, hastily, suddenly afraid.
  96.     But he was not there; already, even before it occurred, he had already left.
  97.     S. was alone in the playground. He wanted to kill himself for he had lost his friend.
  98.     But eventually recess came and he went and found J., who was sitting by the creek, combing her hair, and they went and sat near the swings which were occupied by people who had taken them over and would not give them up.
  99.     Instead, they went around walking and, when they could listen to something funny, would stand in silence. T. and his friends did not approach S. for they were afraid of J. and her turnaround kicks.
  100.     By the bushes next to the bathroom, the older D. complained of having great trouble with girls on the playground.
  101.     His friend counseled him: ‘But in learning to be polite, you may after all find out that you are a good person!’
  102.     The older boy D. replied: ‘I am plenty polite, I tow her on my bike within the vicinity of her house when I drop her off and say: Can’t you just walk back? It’s girls who don’t understand politeness!’
  103.     Now his girlfriend Symphony had come up, and the rest of the friends ran off, giggling in fear.
  104.     Symphony said: ‘Can’t you just love me with your reason, a reason that doesn’t have hands?’
  105.     D. replied: ‘Can’t you love me with affection, which has both hands and a mouth?’
  106.     Symphony said, ‘I don’t want to insult your intelligence by appealing to your baser instincts, for, though you are a man, you are not a primate.’
  107.     S. turned to J. and observed behind his sleeve: ‘Soon, all that will remain of a man will be the top of his hair.’
  108.     J. said: ‘When men bald, they forget their own names.’
  109.     ‘Yes,’ said S., a little put off. ‘The name of a man is inscribed in his scalp, and when there is no hair protecting it, the air erases his dignity.’
  110.     Now D. was confessing: ‘I find you hopelessly beautiful. Unlike other girls, you wear no makeup, for your authenticity is so without beauty, that there is no hope for it in the first place and you have dispensed with beauty out of hand.’
  111.     Symphony rolled her eyes sarcastically. But she had already prepared to run away and weep into her hands, so overjoyed to hear the words ‘hopelessly beautiful’ that she had failed to hear everything that followed.
  112.     Thus, leaping and praising God, she ran far away and was never heard of again.
  113.     ‘Surely,’ D. thought, stunned. For he had found her so beautiful he was in despair. ‘Girls run away from you when they have fallen in love with you. For as the Created-Second and less rational species whose blood is concentrated in the nether region, they run away with desiring wombs because they are afraid you shall see them exposing their reality.’
  114.     J. was so angry that she kicked S. in the face and said: ‘Here’s that, for your species!’
  115.     S. fell to the ground, and hugging a tree, lingered with pleasure on the bruise on his face.
  116.     Recess was over; the workers packed up the animals; the bell rang and the children ran screaming into their classes. S., suddenly remembering that the god had posed as a rabbit, thought to run after the trucks where the animals were being taken away, sure that the god had somehow forgotten the retransformation.
  117.     But he could not go after the trucks, and thought with longing about having at all times a rabbit in the bedroom.
  118.     ‘To speak the language of elation requires training,’ he thought. ‘I should practice with the tongue of a god.’
  119.  
  120.  
  121. END || JAN. 13, 2020
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