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Fiction by Scott Morris
Part three of a six-part serial. Click here to read parts one and two.

Useless friction

A molecule slips through loopholes, looking for a link somewhere down the twisted chain. I can feel myself starting to rub, my chest getting tight. Warmth escapes me—I’ve been letting off a lot of steam. Everything that comes out of my mouth feels like a hot, damp rag—impossible to swallow or dispel. Trailing deep into my guts is a long, thin chord that I yank out inch by inch, trying not to gag. Gooey friction can’t spark. Conversation is nil. It’s all issues and reissues of how what I did was wrong, how someone else’s kindness became selfishness, and how honesty can’t hold a candle to that—things I realize and wish I hadn’t. Now I have to keep my mouth shut. Transparency is brutal, but silence cuts deeper.

What is and what isn’t

Things change, cells divide, selves multiply. I’ve been thinking about where I’ve been all this time—feeling my way around in here—dropping clues in some murder mystery, a dim flame dancing on the head of a pin. I tried to hold my breath until the last, too-late minute when my pages would turn into sheets of glass that wouldn’t fog up when I finally exhaled. But that was just a passing thought slipping through thin skin.

I’ve been killing myself here so I can live there. I can be found in both places, strumming along in the entrails of the deflowered, powdering my nose with their pollen, plucking the strings of a guitar warped by childbirth and left in the gutter while my honey frets upstairs—upsetting the top spin of the seasons, etching over the lines of a green-leafed motif. I come and go with an uncertainty that passes through walls, getting closer to long-ignored facts.

Under matte finish skies all is absorbed and taken back to where it came from—down moonlit mine shafts like moths to their cocoons. I’ve been looking for hieroglyphs in womb-caves, plotting my escape, counterfeiting tickets for the elevated train, the golden elevator, the flash trip of that backwards running waterfall.

In actuality, I’ve been walking the circuit between café, library, bar, and home—losing and gaining friends, struggling with maybe-lovers, dancing drunk with goats and girls, Pans and pansies, growing impatient for work, for home, for a place to place my belongings.

All the old ways of bearing my deception have deceived me. I’ve been entirely too susceptible to the comfort of wailing walls and wishing wells. Things have become too uneven, convenient, and overdone—I made sure I never got what I really wanted.

Am I still here-there, in the life of a mind strung out on nothing ordinary? Do I still want what I once wanted—to be alien, devil, god—disappearing in the folds of someone else’s brain, looking for a place where I could do all, be all—playing one side just so I could change direction? Serenading sirens, exchanging words for flesh—I confessed no love but turned around and seduced the seducer, remained faithful to the unfaithful, and confessed a love more real than butter, bricks, and beds. But the cuckold will be cuckolded, the cheat will be cheated. So what? Who wouldn’t emasculate himself for a love so big?

Back and forth, here-there, I was gearing up for the inevitable wrench. Under the bright lights of shady dealings—evenings of family, politics, and polemics—I sorted through sheet after sheet of pages of skin and bone—I am... I am not... It was... It was not.

An exquisite corpse is no thing to be, no more alive than an ordinary dead man. Piece by piece, section by section, the image changes with each thing added or taken away—disappears more and more, completely, to a point.

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