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Lenz details how the vegetarian new Joel girl’s veil is because of this condition people get where she’s got only one eye that’s right in the middle of her forehead, from birth, like a seahorse, and asks Green not even to think of asking how he knows this fact.

While Green acts as lookout while Lenz relieves himself against a Market St. dumpster, Lenz swears Green to secrecy about how poor old scarred-up diseased Charlotte Treat had sworn him to secrecy about her secret dream in sobriety was to someday get her G.E.D. and become a dental hygienist specializing in educating youngsters pathologically frightened of dental anesthesia, because her dream was to help youngsters, and but how she feared her Virus has placed her secret dream forever out of reach. 239

All the way up the Spur’s Harvard St. toward Union Square, in a barely NW vector, Lenz consumes several minutes and less than twenty breaths sharing with Green some painful Family-Of-Origin Issues about how Lenz’s mother Mrs. Lenz, a thrice-divorcée and Data Processor, was so unspeakably obese she had to make her own mumus out of brocade drapes and cotton tablecloths and never once did come to Parents’ Day at Bishop Anthony McDiardama Elementary School in Fall River MA because of the parents had to sit in the youngsters’ little liftable-desktop desks during the Parents’ Day presentations and skits, and the one time Mrs. L. hove her way down to B.A.M.E.S. for Parents’ Day and tried to seat herself at little Randall L.’s desk between Mrs. Lamb and Mrs. Leroux she broke the desk into kindling and needed four stocky cranberry-farmer dads and a textbook-dolly to arise back up from the classroom floor, and never went back, fabricating thin excuses of busyness with Data Processing and basic disinterest in Randy L.’s schoolwork. Lenz shares how then in adolescence (his), his mother died because one day she was riding a Greyhound bus from Fall River MA north to Quincy MA to visit her son in a Commonwealth Youth Corrections facility Lenz was doing research for a possible screenplay in, and during the voyage on the bus she had to go potty, and she was in the bus’s tiny potty in the rear of the bus going about her private business of going potty, as she later testified, and even though it was the height of winter she had the little window of the potty wide open, for reasons Lenz predicts Green doesn’t want to hear about, on the northbound bus, and how this was one of the last years of Unsubsidized ordinational year-dating, and the final fiscal year that actual maintenance-work had ever been done on the infernous six-lane commuter-ravaged Commonwealth Route 24 from Fall River to Boston’s South Shore by the pre-O.N.A.N.ite Governor Claprood’s Commonwealth Highway Authority, and the Greyhound bus encountered a poorly marked UNDER CONSTRUCTION area where 24 was all stripped down to the dimpled-iron sheeting below and was tooth-rattlingly striated and chuckholed and torn up and just in general basically a mess, and the poorly marked and unflag-manned debris plus the excessive speed of the northbound bus made it jounce godawfully, the bus, and swerve violently to and forth, fighting to maintain control of what there was of the road, and passengers were hurled violently from their seats while, meanwhile, back in the closet-sized rear potty, Mrs. Lenz, right in the process of going potty, was hurled from the toilet by the first swerve and proceeded to do some high-velocity and human-waste-flinging pinballing back and forth against the potty’s plastic walls; and when the bus finally regained total control and resumed course Mrs. Lenz had, freakishly enough, ended up her human pinballing with her bare and unspeakably huge backside wedged tight in the open window of the potty, so forcefully ensconced into the recesstacle that she was unable to extricate, and the bus continued on its northward sojourn the rest of the way up 24 with Mrs. Lenz’s bare backside protruding from the ensconcing window, prompting car horns and derisive oratory from other vehicles; and Mrs. Lenz’s plaintiff shouts for Help were unavailed by the passengers that were arising back up off the floor and rubbing their sore noggins and hearing Mrs. Lenz’s mortified screams from behind the potty’s locked reinforced plastic door, but were unable to excretate her because the potty’s door locked from the interior by sliding across a deadbolt that made the door’s outside say OCCUPIED/OCCUPADO/OCCUPÉ, and the door was locked, and Mrs. Lenz was wedged beyond the reach of arm-length and couldn’t reach the deadbolt no matter how plaintiffly she reached out her mammoth fatwattled arm; and, like fully 88% of all clinically obese Americans, Mrs. Lenz was diagnosed clinically claustrophobic and took prescription medication for anxiety and ensconcement-phobias, and she ended up successfully filing a Seven-Figure suit against Greyhound Lines and the almost-defunct Commonwealth Highway Authority for psychiatric trauma, public mortification, and second-degree frostbite, and received such a morbidly obese settlement from the Dukakis-appointed 18th-Circus Civil Court that when the check arrived, in an extra-long-size envelope to accommodate all the zeroes, Mrs. L. lost all will to Data Process or cook or clean, or nurture, or finally even move, simply reclining in a custom-designed 1.5-meter-wide recliner watching InterLace Gothic Romances and consuming mammoth volumes of high-lipid pastry brought on gold trays by a pastry chef she’d had put at her individual 24-hour disposal and outfitted with a cellular beeper, until four months after the huge settlement she ruptured and died, her mouth so crammed with peach cobbler the paramedics were hapless to administer C.P.R., which Lenz says he knows, by the way — C.P.R.

By the time they hit the Spur, their northwest tacking has wheeled broadly right to become more truly north. Their route down here is a Mondrian of alleys narrowed to near-defiles from all the dumpsters. Lenz goes first, blaze-trailing. Lenz gives these sort of smoky looks to every female that passes within eyeshot. Their vector is now mostly N/NW. They stroll through the rich smell of dryer-exhaust from the backside of a laundromat off Dustin and Comm. The city of metro Boston MA at night. The ding and trundle of the B and C Greenie trains heading up Comm. Ave.’s hill, west. Street-drunks sitting with their backs to sooted walls, seeming to study their laps, even the mist of their breath discolored. The complex hiss of bus-brakes. The jagged shadows distending with headlights’ passage. Latin music drifting through the Spur’s Projects, twined around some 5/4 ’shine stuff from a boombox over off Feeny Park, and in between these a haunting plasm of Hawaiian-type music that sounds at once top-volume and far far away. The zithery drifting Polynesian strains make Bruce Green’s face spread in a flat mask of psychic pain he doesn’t even feel is there, and then the music’s gone. Lenz asks Green what it’s like to work with ice all day at Leisure Time Ice and then himself theorizes on what it must be like, he’ll bet, with your crushed ice and ice cubes in pale-blue plastic bags with a staple for a Twistie and dry ice in wood tubs pouring out white smoke and then your huge blocks of industrial ice packed in fragrant sawdust, the huge blocks of man-sized ice with flaws way inside like trapped white faces, white flames of internal cracks. Your picks and hatchets and really big tongs, red knuckles and rimed windows and thin bitter freezer-smell with runny-nosed Poles in plaid coats and kalpacs, your older ones with a chronic cant to one side from all the time lugging ice.

They crunch through iridescent chunks of what Lenz I.D.s as a busted windshield. Lenz shares feelings on how between three ex-husbands and feral attorneys and a pastry-chef that used pastry-dependence to warp and twist her into distorting a testament toward the chef and Lenz’s being through red-tape still in Quincy’s Y.C.A. hold and in a weak litigational vantage, the ruptured Mrs. L.’s will had left him out in the cold to self-fend by his urban wits while ex-husbands and patissiers lay on Riviera beach-furniture fanning themselves with high-denomination currency, about all which Lenz says he grapples with the Issues of on a like daily basis; leaving Green a gap to make understanding sounds. Green’s jacket creaks as he breathes. The windshield-glass is in an alley whose fire escapes are hung with what look like wet frozen tarps. The alley’s tight-packed dumpsters and knobless steel doors and the dull black of total grime. The blunt snout of a bus protrudes into the frame of the alley’s end, idling.

Dumpsters’ garbage doesn’t have just one smell, depending. The urban lume makes the urban night only semidark, as in licoricey, a luminescence just under the skin of the dark, and swelling. Green keeps them updated re time. Lenz has begun to refer to Green as ‘brother.’ Lenz says he has to piss like a racehorse. He says the nice thing about the urban city is that it’s one big commode. The way Lenz pronounces brother involves one r. Green moves up to stand in the mouth of the alley, facing out, giving Lenz a little privacy several dumpsters behind. Green stands there in the start of the alley’s shadow, in the bus’s warm backwash, his elbows out and hands in the jacket’s little pockets, looking out. It’s unclear whether Green knows Lenz is under the influence of Bing. All he feels is a moment of deep wrenching loss, of wishing getting high was still pleasurable for him so he could get high. This feeling comes and goes all day every day, still. Green takes a gasper from behind his ear and lights it and puts a fresh one on-deck behind the ear. Union Square, Allston: Kiss me where it smells, she said, so I took her to Allston, unquote. Union Square’s lights throb. Whenever somebody stops blowing their horn somebody else starts blowing their horn. There’s three Chinese women waiting at the light across the street from the guy with the lobsters. Each of them’s got a shopping bag. An old VW Bug like Doony Glynn’s VW Bug idling mufflerless outside Riley’s Roast Beef, except Doony’s Bug’s engine is exposed where the back hood got removed to expose the Bug’s guts. It’s like impossible to ever spot a Chinese woman on a Boston street that’s under sixty or over 1.5 m. or not carrying a shopping bag, except never more than one bag. If you close your eyes on a busy urban sidewalk the sound of everybody’s different footwear’s footsteps all put together sounds like something getting chewed by something huge and tireless and patient. The searing facts of the case of Bruce Green’s natural parents’ deaths when he was a toddler are so deeply repressed inside Green that whole strata and substrata of silence and mute dumb animal suffering will have to be strip-mined up and dealt with a Day at a Time in sobriety for Green even to remember how, on his fifth Xmas Eve, in Waltham MA, his Pop had taken the hydrant-sized little Brucie Green aside and given him, to give his beloved Mama for Xmas, a gaily Gauguin-colored can of Polynesian Mauna Loa-brand 240 macadamia nuts, said cylindrical can of nuts then toted upstairs by the child and painstakingly wrapped in so much foil-sheen paper that the final wrapped present looked like an oversized dachshund that had required first bludgeoning and then restraint at both ends with two rolls each of Scotch tape and garish fuchsia ribbon to be subdued and wrapped and placed under the gaily lit pine, and even then the package seemed mushily to struggle as the substrata of paper shifted and settled.

Bruce Green’s Pop Mr. Green had at one time been one of New England’s most influential aerobics instructors — even costarring once or twice, in the decade before digital dissemination, on the widely rented Buns of Steel aerobics home-video series — and had been in high demand and very influential until, to his horror, in his late twenties, the absolute prime of an aerobics instructor’s working life, either one of Mr. Green’s legs began spontaneously to grow or the other leg began spontaneously to retract, because within weeks one leg was all of a sudden nearly six inches longer than the other — Bruce Green’s one unrepressed visual memory of the man is of a man who progressively and perilously leaned as he hobbled from specialist to specialist — and he had to get outfitted with a specialized orthopedic boot, black as a cauldron, that seemed to be 90% sole and resembled an asphalt-spreader’s clunky boot, and weighed several pounds, and looked absurd with Spandex leggings; and the long and short of it was that Brucie Green’s Pop was aerobically washed up by the leg and boot, and had to career-change, and went bitterly to work for a Waltham novelty or notions concern, something with ’N in the name, Acme Novelties ’N Notions or some such, where Mr. Green designed sort of sadistic practical-joke supplies, specializing in the Jolly Jolt Hand Buzzer and Blammo Cigar product-lines, with a sideline in entomological icecubes and artificial dandruff, etc. Demoralizing, sedentary, character-twisting work, is what an older child would have been able to understand, peering from his nightlit doorway at an unshaven man who clunkily paced away the wee hours on a nightly basis down in the living room, his gait like a bosun’s in heavy seas, occasionally breaking into a tiny tentative gluteal-thruster squat-and-kick, almost falling, muttering bitterly, carrying a Falstaff tallboy.

Something touching about a gift that a toddler’s so awfully overwrapped makes a sickly-pale and neurasthenic but doting Mrs. Green, Bruce’s beloved Mama, choose the mugged-dachshund-foil-sheen-cylinder present first, of course, to open, on Xmas morning, as they sit before the crackling fireplace in different chairs by different windows with views of Waltham sleet, with bowls of Xmas snacks and Acme-’N-logoed mugs of cocoa and hazelnut decaf and watch each other taking turns opening gifts. Brucie’s little face aglow in the firelight as the unwrapping of the nuts proceeds through layer and stratum, Mrs. Green a couple times having to use her teeth on the rinds of tape. Finally the last layer is off and the gay-colored can in view. Mauna Loa: Mrs. Green’s favorite and most decadent special-treat food. World’s highest-calorie food except for like pure suet. Nuts so yummy they should be spelled S-I-N, she says. Brucie excitedly bobbing in his chair, spilling cocoa and Gummi Bears, a loving toddler, more excited about his gift’s receipt than what he’s going to get himself. His mother’s clasped hands before her sunken bosom. Sighs of delight and protest. And an EZ-Open Lid, on the can.

Which the contents of the macadamia-labelled can is really a coiled cloth snake with an ejaculatory spring. The snake sprongs out as Mrs. G. screams, a hand to her throat. Mr. Green howls with bitterly professional practical-gag mirth and clunks over and slaps little Bruce on the back so hard that Brucie expels a lime Gummi Bear he’d been eating — this too a visual memory, contextless and creepy — which arcs across the living room and lands in the fireplace’s fire with a little green siss of flame. The cloth snake’s arc has terminated at the imitation-crystal chandelier overhead, where the snake gets caught and hangs with quivering spring as the chandelier swings and tinkles and Mr. Green’s thigh-slapping laughter takes a while to run down even as Brucie’s Mama’s hand at her delicate throat becomes claw-shaped and she claws at her throat and gurgles and slumps over to starboard with a fatal cardiac, her cyanotic mouth still open in surprise. For the first couple minutes Mr. Green thinks she’s putting them on, and he keeps rating her performance on an Acme interdepartmental 1-8 Gag Scale until he finally gets pissed off and starts saying she’s drawing the gag out too long, that she’s going to scare their little Brucie who’s sitting there under the swinging crystal, wide-eyed and silent.

And Bruce Green uttered not another out-loud word until his last year of grade school, living by then in Winchester with his late mother’s sister, a decent but Dustbowly-looking Seventh-Day Adventist who never once pressed Brucie to speak, probably out of sympathy, probably sympathizing with the searing pain the opaque-eyed child must have felt over not only giving his Mama a lethal Xmas present but over then having to watch his widowed asymetrical Pop cave psycho-spiritually in after the wake, watching Mr. Green pace-and-clunk around the living room all night every night after work and an undermicrowaved supper-for-two, in his Frankensteinian boot, clunking around in circles, scratching slowly at his face and arms until he looked less scourged than brambled, and in loosely associated mutters cursing God and himself and Acme Nuts ’N Serpents or whatever, and leaving the fatal snake up hanging from the fake-crystal fixture and the fatal Xmas tree up in its little red metal stand until all the strings of lights went out and the strings of popcorn got dark and hard and the stand’s bowl of water evaporated so the tree’s needles died and fell brownly off onto the rest of the still-unopened Xmas presents clustered below, one of which was a package of Nebraska corn-fed steaks whose cherub-motif wrapping was beginning ominously to swell…; and then finally the even more searing childhood pain of the public arrest and media-scandal and Sanity Hearing and Midwest trial as it was established after the fact that the post-Xmas Mr. Green — whose one encouraging sign of holding some tattered remnants of himself together after the funeral had been the fact that he still went faith-fully every day to work at Acme Inc. — had gone in and packed a totally random case of the company’s outgoing Blammo Cigars with vengefully lethal tetryl-based high explosives, and a V.F.W., three Rotarians, and 24 Shriners had been grotesquely decapitated across Southeastern Ohio before the federal A.T.F. traced the grisly forensic fragments back to B. Green Sr.’s Blammo lab, in Waltham; and then the extradition and horribly complex Sanity Hearing and trial and controversial sentencing; and then the appeals and deathwatch and Lethal Injection, Bruce Green’s aunt handing out poorly reproduced W. Miller tracts to the crowds outside the Ohio prison as the clock ticked down to Injection, little Bruce in tow, blank-faced and watching, the crowd of media and anti-Capital activists and Defarge-like picnickers milling and roiling, many T-shirts for sale, and the red-faced men in sportcoats and fezzes, oh their rage-twisted faces the same red as their fezzes as the men careened this way and that in their little cars, formations of motorized Shriners buzzing the gates of the O.D.C.-Maximum facility and shouting Burn Baby Burn or the more timely Get Lethally Injected Baby Get Lethally Injected, Bruce Green’s aunt with her center-parted hair visibly graying under the pillbox hat and face obscured for three Ohio months behind the black mesh veil that fluttered from the pillbox hat, clutching little Bruce’s head to her underwired bosom day after day until his blank face was smooshed in on one side. … Green’s guilt, pain, fear and self-loathing have over years of unprescribed medication been compressed to the igneous point where he now knows only that he compulsively avoids any product or service with ’N in its name, always checks a palm before a handshake, will go blocks out of his way to avoid any parade involving fezzes in little cars, and has this silent, substratified fascination/horror gestalt about all things even remotely Polynesian. It’s probably the distant and attenuated luau-music echoing erratically back and forth through angled blocks of Allston cement that causes Bruce Green to wander as if mesmerized out of Union Square and all the way up Comm. Ave. into Brighton and up to like the corner of Comm. Ave. and Brainerd Road, the home of The Unexamined Life nightclub with its tilted flickering bottle of blue neon over the entrance, before he realizes that Lenz is no longer beside him asking the time, that Lenz hadn’t followed him up the hill even though Green had stood there outside the Union Square alley way longer than anybody could have needed to take a legitimate whiz.

He and Lenz have become separated, he realizes. Now way southwest of Union on Comm., Green looks around at traffic and T-tracks and bar-patrons and T.U.L.’s huge bottle’s low-neon flutter. He wonders whether he’s somehow blown Lenz off or whether Lenz’s blown him off, and that’s all he wonders, that’s the total complexity the speculation assumes, that’s his thought for the minute. It’s like the whole nut-can-and-cigar traumas drained into some psychic sump at puberty, sank and left only an oily slick that catches the light in distorted ways. The warbly Polynesian music’s way clearer up here. He starts up the steep hill on Brainerd Rd., which terminates at the Enfield line. Maybe Lenz can’t move straightforwardly south at all past a certain time. The acclivity is not kind to asphalt-spreader’s boots. After the initial crazed-gerbil-in-brain phase of early Withdrawal and detox, Bruce Green has now returned to his normal psychorepressed cerebral state where he has about one fully developed thought every sixty seconds, and then just one at a time, a thought, each materializing already fully developed and sitting there and then melting back away like a languid liquid-crystal display. His Ennet House counselor, the extremely tough-loving Calvin T., complains that listening to Green is like listening to a faucet with a very slow drip. His rap is that Green seems not serene or detached but totally shut down, disassociated, and Calvin T. tries weekly to draw Green out by pissing him off. Green’s next full thought is the realization that even though the hideous Hawaiian music had sounded like it was drifting up northward from down at the Allston Spur, it’s somewhat louder now the farther west he moves toward Enfield’s Cambridge St. dogleg and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. Brainerd between Commonwealth and Cambridge St. is a sine wave of lung-busting hills through neighborhoods Tiny Ewell had described as Depressed Residential, unending rows of crammed-together triple-decker houses with those tiny sad architectural differences that seem to highlight the essential sameness, with sagging porches and psoriatic paint-jobs or aluminum siding gone carbuncular from violent temperature-swings, yard-litter and dishes and patchy grass and fenced pets and children’s toys lying around in discarded attitudes and eclectic food-smells and wildly different-patterned curtains or blinds in a house’s different windows due to these old houses are carved up inside into apartments for like alienated B.U. students or Canadian and Concavity-displaced families or even more alienated B.C. students, or probably it looks like the bulk of the lease-holders are Green-and-Bonkesque younger blue-collar hard-partying types that have posters of the Fiends In Human Shape or Choosy Mothers or Snout or the Bioavailable Five 241 in the bathroom and black lights in the bedroom and oil-change stains in the driveway and that throw their supper dishes into the yard and buy new dishes at Caldor instead of washing their dishes and that still, in their twenties, ingest Substances nightly and use party as a verb and put their sound-systems’ speakers in their apartments’ windows facing out and crank the volume out of sheer high-spirit obnoxiousness because they still have their girlfriends to pound beers with and do shotguns of dope into the mouth of and do lines of Bing off various parts of the naked body of, and still find pounding beers and doing bongs and lines fun and get to have fun on a nightly after-work basis, cranking the tunes out into the neighborhood air. The street’s bare trees are densely limbed, they’re a certain type of tree, they look like inverted brooms in the residential dark, Green doesn’t know his tree-names. The Hawaiian music is what’s pulled him southwest, it emerges: it’s originating from someplace in this very neighborhood somewhere around W. Brainerd, and Green moves upriver toward what sounds like the source of the sound with a blankly horrified fascination. Most of the yards are fenced in stainless-steel chainlink fencing, and occasional yard-dogs whine or more commonly bark and snarl and leap territorially at Green from behind their fences, the fences shivering from the impact and the chainlink stuff dented outward from previous impacts from previous passersby. The thought that he isn’t scared of dogs develops and recedes in Green’s midbrain. His jacket creaks with every step. The temperature is steadily dropping. The fenced front yards are the toy-and-beer-can-strewn type where the brown grass grows in uneven tufts and the leaves haven’t been raked and are piled in wind-blown lines of force along the base of the fence and unpruned hedges and overfull wastebaskets and untwisted trash-bags are on the sagging porch because nobody’s gotten around to taking them down to the E.W.D. dumpster at the corner and garbage from the overfull receptacles blows out into the yard and mixes with the leaves along the fences’ base and some gets out into the street and is never picked up and eventually becomes part of the composition of the street. A nonpeanut M&M box is like intaglioed into the concrete of the sidewalk under Green, so bleached by the elements it’s turned bone-white and is only barely identifiable as a nonpeanut M&M box, for instance. And, looking up from identifying the M&M box’s make, Green now espies Randy Lenz. Green has happened upon Lenz, way up here on Brainerd, now strolling briskly alone up ahead of Green, not close but visible under a functioning streetlight about a block farther uphill on Brainerd. There’s some disincentive to call out. The incline on this block isn’t bad. It’s cold enough now so his breath looks the same whether he’s smoking or not. The tall curved streetlamps here look to Green just like the weaponish part of the Martian vessels that fired fatal rays in their conquest of the planet in an ancient cartridge Tommy Doocy’d never tired of that he labelled the case ‘War of the Welles.’ The Hawaiian music dominates the aural landscape by this point, now, coming from someplace up near where he sees the back of Lenz’s coat. Someone has put Polynesian-music speakers in their window, pretty clearly. Creepy slack-key steel guitar balloons across the dim street, booms off the sagging facades opposite, it’s Don Ho and the Sol Hoopi Players, the grass-skirt-and-foamy-breakers sound that makes Green put his fingers in his ears while at the same time he moves more urgently toward the Hawaiian-music source, a pink or aqua three-decker with a second-floor dormer and red-shingled roof with a blue and white Quenucker flag on a pole protruding from a window in the dormer and serious JBL speakers facing outward in the two windows on either side of the flag, with the screens off so you can see the woofers throbbing like brown bellies hulaing, bathing the 1700 block of W. Brainerd in dreadful ukuleles and hollow-log percussives. All the blunt fingers in his ears do is add the squeak of Green’s pulse and the underwater sound of his respiration to the music, though. Figures in plaid-flannel or else floral Hawaiian shirts and those flower necklaces melt in and out of lit view behind and over the window-speakers with the oozing quality of large-group chemical fun and dancing and social intercoursing. The lit windows make slender rectangles of light out across the yard, which the yard is a sty. Something about Randy Lenz’s movements up ahead, the high-kneed tiptoed skulk of a vaudeville fiend up to no good at all, keeps Green from calling out to him even if he could have made himself heard over what to him is a roar of blood and breath and Ho. Lenz moves through the one operative streetlight’s cone across the sidewalk and over to the stainless chainlink of the same Quenucker house, holding something out to a Shetland-sized dog whose leash is attached to a fluorescent-plastic clothesliney thing by a pulley, and can slide. It’s cold and the air is thin and keen and his fingers are icy in his ears, which ache with cold. Green watches, rapt on levels he doesn’t know he has, drawn slowly forward, moving his head from side to side to keep from losing Lenz in the fog of his breath, not calling out, but transfixed. Green and Mildred Bonk and the other couple they’d shared a trailer with T. Doocy with had gone through a phase one time where they’d crash various collegiate parties and mix with the upper-scale collegiates, and once in one February Green found himself at a Harvard U. dorm where they were having a like Beach-Theme Party, with a dumptruck’s worth of sand on the common-room floor and everybody with flower necklaces and skin bronzed with cream or UV-booth-salon visits, all the towheaded guys in floral un-tucked shirts walking around with lockjawed noblest oblige and drinking drinks with umbrellas in them or else wearing Speedos with no shirts and not one fucking pimple anyplace on their back and pretending to surf on a surfboard somebody had nailed to a hump-shaped wave made of blue and white papier mâché with a motor inside that made the fake wave sort of undulate, and all the girls in grass skirts oozing around the room trying to hula in a shimmying way that showed their thighs’ LipoVac scars through the shimmying grass of their skirts, and Mildred Bonk had donned a grass skirt and bikini-top out of the pile by the keggers and even though almost seven months pregnant had oozed and shimmied right into the mainstream of the swing of things, but Bruce Green had felt awkward and out of place in his cheap leather jacket and haircut he’d dyed orange with gasoline in a blackout and the EAT THE RICH patch he’d perversely let Mildred Bonk sew onto the groin of his police-pants, and then they’d finally got tired of the ‘Hawaii Five-0’ theme and started in with the Don Ho and Sol Hoopi CDs, and Green had gotten so uncomfortably fascinated and repelled and paralyzed by the Polynesian tunes that he’d set up a cabana-chair right by the kegs and had sat there overworking the pump on the kegs and downing one plastic cup after another of beer-foam until he got so blind drunk his sphincter had failed and he’d not only pissed but also actually shit his pants, for only the second time ever, and the first public time ever, and was mortified with complexly layered shame, and had to ease very gingerly into the nearest-by head and remove his pants and wipe himself off like a fucking baby, having to shut one eye to make sure which him he saw was him, and then there’d been nothing to do with the fouled police-pants but crack the bathroom door and reach a tattooed arm out with the pants and bury them in the living room’s sand like a housecat’s litterbox, and then of course what was he supposed to put on if he ever wanted to leave that head or dorm again, to get home, so he’d had to hold one eye shut and reach one arm out again and like strain to reach the pile of grass skirts and bikini-tops and snatch a grass skirt, and put it on, and slip out of the Hawaiian dorm out a side door without letting anybody see him, and then ride the Red Line and C-Greenie and then a bus all the way home in February in a cheap leather jacket and asphalt-spreader’s boots and a grass skirt, the grass of which rode up in the most horrifying way, and he’d spent the next three days not leaving the trailer in the Spur, in a paralyzing depression of unknown etiology, lying on Tommy D.’s crusty-stained sofa and drinking Southern Comfort straight out of the bottle and watching Doocy’s snakes not move once in three days, in their tank, and Mildred had given him two days of high-volume shit for first sulking antisocially by the keg and then screwing out and abandoning her at seven months gone to a sandy room full of tanly anomic blondes who said catty things about her tattoos and creepy boys who talked without moving their lower jaw and asked her things like where she ‘summered’ and kept offering her advice on no-load funds and inviting her upstairs to check out their Dürer prints and saying they found overweight girls terribly compelling in their defiance of culturo-ascetic norms, and Bruce Green lay there with a head full of Hoopi and unresolved pain and didn’t say a word or even have a fully developed thought for three days, and had hidden the grass skirt under the dustruffle of the couch and later savagely torn it to shreds and sprinkled the clippings over Doocy’s hydroponic-marijuana development in the tub, for mulch. Lenz goes in and out of Green’s focus several times within a dozen andante strides, still out in front of the Canadian-refugee-type house that’s drawn Green on, Lenz holding a little can of something up over one side of the fence’s gate and dribbling something onto the gate, holding something else that suddenly engages the dog’s full attention. For some reason Green thinks to check his watch. The pink or orange clothesline quivers as the leash’s pulley runs along it as the dog comes up to meet Lenz inside the gate he’s slowly opened. The huge dog seems neither friendly nor unfriendly toward Lenz, but his attention is engaged. The leash and pulley could never hold him if he decided Lenz was food. There’s bitter-smelling material from his ear on Green’s finger, which he can’t help but sniff. He’s forgotten and left the other finger in his ear. He’s now pretty close, standing in a van’s shadow just outside the pyramid of sodium light from the streetlight, like two houses down from the source of the grisly sound, which all of a sudden is in the silence between cuts of Ho’s early Don Ho: From Hawaii With All My Love, so that Green can hear baritone Canadianese party-voices through the open windows and also the low lalations of baby-talk of some sort from Lenz, ‘Pooty ooty doggy woggy’ and whatnot, presumably directed at the dog, who’s coming over to Lenz in a sort of neutrally cautious but attentive way. Green has no clue what kind of dog it is, but it’s big. Green can remember not the sight but the two very different sounds of the footfalls of his Pop the late Mr. Green pacing the Waltham living room, the crinkle of the paper bag around the tallboy in his hand. It’s well after 2245h. The dog’s leash slides hissing to the end of the Day-Glo line and stops the dog a couple paces from the inside of the gate, where Lenz is standing, inclined in the slight forward way of somebody who’s talking baby-talk to a dog. Green can see that Lenz has a slightly gnawed square of Don G.’s hard old meatloaf out in front of him, holding it toward the straining dog. Lenz has the blankly intent look of a short-haired man with a Geiger counter. The hideously compelling Ho starts again with the total abruptness that makes CDs so creepy. Green’s got one finger in one ear, shifting around slightly to keep Lenz’s lampshadow from blocking the view. The music balloons and booms. The Nucks have turned it way up for ‘My Lovely Launa-Una Luau Lady,’ a song that’s always made Green want to put his head through a window. Part of the instrumentals sounds like a harp on acid. The hollow-log percussives are like a heart in your extremest-type terror. Green fancies he can see windows in the houses opposite vibrate from the horrific vibration. Green’s having way more than one thought p.m. now, the squeak of the gerbil-wheel starting to crank deep inside. The undulating shiver is a slack-steel guitar that fills little Brucie’s head with white sand and undulating tummies and heads that resemble New Year’s subsidized parade balloons, huge soft shiny baggy wrinkled grinning heads nodding and bobbing as they slowly inflate to the shape of a giant head, tilted forward, straining at the ropes they’re pulled by. Green hasn’t watched a New Year’s parade since the Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad’s, which had been obscene. Green’s close enough to see that the Hawaiianized Nuck house is 412 W. Brainerd. Blue-collar-type cars and 4×4s and vans are all up and down the street packed in in a somehow partyish attitude, as in parked in a hurry, some of them with Canadian lettering on the plates. Fleur-de-lis stickers and slogans in Canadian on some of the windows also. An old Montego cammed out into a slingshot dragster is parked square in front of 412 in a sort of menacing way with two wheels up on the curb and a circle of flowers hung jauntily over the antenna, and the ellipses of dull fade in the paintjob of the hood that show the engine’s been bored out and the hood gets real hot, and Lenz has gotten down on one knee and breaks off some of the meatloaf and tosses it underhand to the ground inside the leash’s range. The dog goes over and lowers its head to the meat. The distinctive sound of Gately’s meatloaf getting chewed plus the ghastly music’s zithery warbling roar. Lenz now rises and his movements in the yard have a melting and wraithlike quality in the different shades of shadow. The lit window farthest from the limp flag has solid swarthy guys in beards and loud shirts passing back and forth snapping their fingers under their elbows with flower-strewn females in tow. Many of the heads are thrown back and attached to Molson bottles. Green’s jacket creaks as he tries to breathe. The snake had leapt from the can with a sound like: spronnnnng. His aunt at the Winchester breakfast nook, in dazzling winter dawnlight, quietly doing a word-search puzzle. Two dormer windows are half-blocked by the throbbing rectangles of the JBLs. Green’s the type that can recognize a JBL speaker and Molson-green bottle from way far away.

Date: 2016-03-03; view: 402

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