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Blue Hands

    Thousands trod, jogged, slogged, sauntered, staggered, schlepped, limped, or otherwise passed Lane and Habib each day. A few became regular contributors even though Lane never uttered a word. Once in a while Habib would reveal to people some tidbit about Lane with all the auspiciousness of a shaman interpreting goat entrails. Lane had long since ceased listening to what people said to him. It was only through Habib’s care that he had any human contact, and indeed survived at all. Human speech had become noise to him, but the everyday sounds of a huge city had become an ethereal space music, filling him with wonder and joy. Sound became liquid caused by the pulsations of liquid. With each breath Lane inhaled liquid, with each glance he emitted liquid. Approaching footsteps were ovals of liquid lightly kissing squares of liquid. It was through liquid that the thoughts of others visited Lane and he learned to read minds.

    Some slowed when they passed him, most didn’t notice or denied themselves the sight of him. Those who looked at him, who saw, gave over to him in an instant. As the multitudes streamed by, Lane’s heart swelled to almost bursting: ‘…if you’d only invested…  live chickens empty onto a conveyor belt that leads to a darkened room… under Section 2524.2 (c) the Landlord is still prepared to accept your… Who asked you to butt in, Charlie?  Mother! Why don’t you just let me live my… resources it needs to undertake this necessary expansion… when the shark makes its first attack on Quint!  Circle Line Sniper Shoots Tourist… is a model and avid dancer… refused to respond to questions about her husband’s infidelity… khaki linen three button… citing CNN as the worst offender…’ Lane could not stop or control the flow of humanity’s inner babble. It was all he could do to surf the constant tsunami of emotion and psychosis that had become his eternal here and now. Of course none of the pedestrians of our fair city realized that for two or three seconds they’d become a minute reality bite, a spec in the giant Seurat painting of Lane’s existence. It was purely his own Hell. And it was the kind of Hell he felt he alone was uniquely suited for.

    ‘…Bronx’s chief sanitary officer… slid steadily against the yen… too shaky for the return of refugees… thanks to an experimental prostate implant…  listen to the purr of its 24-valve in-line six.  Christ, baby I’m doin’ the best I…  softened the rhetoric through the prism of his good-guy persona…’ On and on the ceaseless chatter continued. Lane had heard it all. And within the hearing there was knowing. And deep within the knowing there was feeling. Buried feelings of hurt and loneliness and the remembered snubs of a million variations on a few simple childish themes. Feelings of inadequacy and yearning. Yearning for meaning or justice or love/happiness/contentment or plain simple relief.

    Then it happened. It slid liquid into his nostrils, then entered his brain through the long neglected proper passageways and began rooting around in musty drawers for its own name, finally discovering it: blueberry. Thousands of skeins of crusty muslin are rent as they are pulled across a thousand pairs of unblinking reptilian eyes. Perfect dusty indigo spheres dance across the kodachrome Disney lawn of Lane’s memory. Particles of liquid light swirl in a tornado as delicate as moth wings, forming in Lane a totally new human emotion. This clot, this knotty nimbus then speeds out those same liquid passageways and arcs across six and a half feet of Broadway airspace and into the mind of Benny Moscowitz, on his way back to Flatbush with his box of fresh blueberries purchased moments before at a Korean deli up the block. And yeah, just then somehow Benny feels a little better. ‘Not bad, really, considering the shitty day I had. Can’t quite explain it but who’s complainin?’ Benny gazes up at the clouds in the sky, pans down to a windowbox of blazing vermilion geraniums three stories above street level. Benny appreciates the clear autumn light as it illuminates the fabulously symmetrical one-point perspective of Broadway, and catches his foot in an eroded part of the pavement. A single blueberry tumbles from its place under the cellophane, bounces off some random elbows, evades heavy foot traffic to jump up onto Lane’s chest. With tapered translucent fingers Lane brings the orb to his lips and smashes it against his soft mossy teeth. Lane smiles up at Benny, blessing him with spiritual healing, love and acceptance. Benny stumbles to a halt and stands transfixed and baffled. He is unable to hate, indeed forgets how to hate this man on this afternoon. ‘Weird, this kind of creepo I normally go awf on…’  In those few seconds Benny’s hate molecules start to break down. The chemistry of the dissolving helixes warms his brain, beginning an irreversible process. On the subway home Benny even thinks about it some more.

    What happens next is one of those ‘only in New York’ urban phenomena of the late Twentieth Century. You see, Benny’s a very superstitious guy; that night he hit on the Pick Six. “Eyyy, no Getty, but $2,168 aint nothin’ to sneer at.” He tells his whole family the Koreans’ blueberries on lower Broadway brought him luck. Benny has a BIG family. “Pretty soon Moscowitzes from all five boroughs AND Jersey is buyin’ blueberries on lower Broadway like there’s no tomorrow!” And though none of them realize it, they all walk past Lane on their way to the train. And soon enough, they all start to feel great. They tell more people (those Moscowitzes are a kindly lot) and so on and so on. Lower Broadway becomes a swirling mosh of warm & fuzzy. Viperous Soho art-hags unpinch their faces and get over themselves, NYU students decrease their rhetorical inquiry, skateboard kids have their clothes altered to actually fit them, and seventeen squeegee bums pool their quarters and charter a one-way bus to Idaho. The Village Voice dispatches its new Lifestyles cub reporter to write a puff piece on the whole scene. Her name is Mimi.

Posted at 1am on 03/08/2005 | comments are closed Filed Under: Fiction

"The sleep of reason
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