The road at night is home to one of America’s perennially romantic figures: the man who’s on the lam. The escaping slave wading in the water to throw off the dogs; the western outlaw with his face on a Wanted poster and a price on his head; the Depression-era bank robber gunning his…
Humans have a big cluster of dead keratin tendrils growing from our heads and we arrange them in different configurations and worry about whether other people find our keratin tendril arrangements aesthetically pleasing.
"As a precaution against tip-overs, he had to show his map at the peephole, even though he scrubbed the onions nightly on the agony box at the blind pig. As usual, valentinos were trading kale for juniper juice at the bar and putting the eye on tootsie rolls."
The universe doesn’t listen when you tell it that you’re tired. Or that you want a day off. Or that you want to quit.
It just keeps expanding, oblivious to your tiny concerns and your silly wants and your blinkered needs and your searing pains and your occasional triumphs that are, by all accounts, almost entirely the result of random chance and not talent or hard work or perseverance.
You can shout “I QUIT!” into the unspeakably, unimaginably, sumptuously vast emptiness that is the universe. But it doesn’t listen.
In my dream last night I walked through a small old city with tiny, perfectly aligned streets, devoid of people. All of the traffic lights were red. Somewhere in Switzerland, perhaps.
It was pouring rain but I had a large umbrella, albeit one with a hole that allowed just enough drops to seep through and tap rhythmically on the top of my head like a mild sort of water torture.
I entered a squat, nondescript building in a tight alleyway of other squat, nondescript buildings.
The first thing I noticed was how cavernous the structure was within, compared to its compact appearance from outside; the ceilings receded into darkness, as did the walls, which were lined on both sides with what seemed like an endless number of teller windows.
Immediately inside the front entrance was a small desk staffed by a lithe young woman with olive skin and high cheekbones and unnaturally black hair, cropped close to her thin, ovoid head.
"I’d like to make a deposit," I said.
The girl at the desk said nothing, but tilted her head slightly and flashed a sterile smile. The tip of her tongue darted over her lips in a disturbing, almost reptilian way.
She stood, motioned for me to follow her, and we walked through the center aisle of the building for what seemed like several minutes, yet I don’t remember seeing her feet move at all.
At length we came to the opposite end of the room, where she left me in the company of a tall man. He wore a bespoke suit of the highest quality and finest detail, yet it seemed somehow out of fashion in a way I couldn’t really put my finger on.
The Tall Man presented me with a metal deposit box and a scalpel. I opened my shirt and removed my heart, as carefully as I could, so as to leave the smallest possible scar.
It was a messy procedure as you can imagine, but I did well to keep myself clean, except for a small patch of gore that had splashed onto my shirt. I placed my heart into the deposit box, closed it, and handed it back over to the Tall Man who locked it with a small key and an oddly satisfying click.
The Tall Man removed a fountain pen and slip of paper from inside his jacket and, with an apologetic look, dipped the nib of the pen into the bit of now-congealing blood on my shirt. He wrote a long account number on the slip and handed it to me, then turned and disappeared into the darkness with the box.
The next thing I knew, I was standing back outside on the wet, empty street under gray skies. I looked at the slip and began committing the number to memory, but just as I did so, rain seeped through the hole in my umbrella and splashed onto the paper. More than half of the numbers were rendered illegible almost instantly. Liquid digits the color of the traffic lights, dripping out of existence.
Enslaving people is crazy. Using Jim Crow laws and other forms of institutional racism to keep them enslaved is crazy. Dressing up in white bed sheets like a bunch of ghosts in order to terrorize and brutalize people whose only crime is existing is crazy. Dismissing centuries of valid complaints about racism is crazy. Cheering when a teen boy is killed by a local vigilante is crazy. Consistently appropriating the culture of the same people you treat with disdain is crazy. Thinking that somehow, despite all this, YOU are the true victims of racism and champions of equality?