• Dzama


Reflected in the glass window of a hulking, old gas stove- swirling purple smoke, a sleeping bull-dog, a dragonfly trembling on a piece of crumpled paper. The glass suddenly shatters, the dog barks like crazy, a bloody fist unclenches and withdraws as glass shards rain down from the white rusty enamel.

Max steps out of the stove over the jagged glass, takes and uncrumples the paper, his blood dripping all over it. It’s a pencil-drawn map with a dagger outlined at the bottom. He wipes the blood, it smears across the paper. “Jesus.” He stares at his hands. Wipes them on his dirty slacks. Touches his face. Wipes his face with his sleeve. Becomes slightly less bloody. The dog stares at him. He yanks a twisted cord out of his pocket. One end he plugs into a socket in his arm and the other directly into a regular wall outlet above a dirty kitchen counter. A lizard darts down the counter. Torn, faded curtains, thin membranes sticking to the window, a desert outside with scrub and tumbleweeds.

The wounds and blood gradually dry and fade as electricity courses through the cable into his arm. A crazy face pops in the window- brown with wild orange hair like a huge black-eyed susan. Max hoists himself up onto the counter and peels the curtains back, opens the window and jumps out into the desert.

He and the orange haired girl walk away, getting smaller and smaller across the desert scrub.

The bulldog leaps up onto the counter, nails scratching the Formica, huffing and wheezing, barely makes it up, then plows through the window, landing heavily in the sand and tearing after the couple who are now even further across the dunes.

The cab of a Mack truck, Max driving, arm now connected to the cigarette lighter. The dog is between him and the black girl with orange hair who is topless but otherwise wrapped like a mummy in silk bandages. Suddenly sirens blare from behind them, deafening. Max looks at the girl. They exchange a weighted, knowing look. The truck comes to a skidding halt with tires screaming. The girl reaches over and pushes against his head. A seam in his neck pulls apart and then gapes until his head hinges off his neck to one side, resting on his shoulder.

Inside Max’s neck is a tiny staircase going down. The black girl puts her hands on his shoulders and reaches up a long, loosely bandaged leg, which stretches and shrinks until it stands on the first step of the staircase. The rest of her body follows suit, stretching and shrinking until she is tiny, walking down the stairs into the darkness. Max shrugs and his head falls back shut on his neck- clack!

He looks down at the dog, who stares back, slobbers, pants, looks away. He pulls the cable out of the lighter and out of his arm and puts it into his pocket. Grabs some colored candy pellets from the ashtray and tosses them into his mouth, crunching away. He steps out of the truck and walks toward a nervous, pasty officer who stands, legs apart, trembling gun aimed at him. As he walks toward the policeman he towers higher and higher until he stands towering over the little man who now fires his gun at Max’s shoe. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Eventually a small hole breaks open and Max’s shoe starts to crack. The policeman runs over and tears at it, pulling the crack open until he squeezes himself inside.

Max walks again across the desert, dog at his heels, slobbering and sniffing at his shoe which is never in one place long enough for adequate investigation.

Max pushes the rusty screen door of a filthy diner. It slams behind him and hits the dog in the ass, nudging him forward into the room. A handkerchiefed waitress with a dirty face takes a greasy ballpoint out of her apron, then a crusty pad. “Be right with you.” She gives him a smile that’s cute despite the missing teeth. She walks over to a table in the corner where a huge man sits, silhouetted by a bright window.

Meanwhile the policeman runs up a spiral staircase in the dark, gun drawn. Hearing his steps the black girl stares down a spiral staircase into the darkness in nervous anticipation. She stands in a round, grey room holding a silver rope attached to a large iron bell. She pulls up her thin silk bandages, covering her top. She hears the cop from down below: “Come on motherfucker!”

Meanwhile, Max has sat down across from the large man, who is still a very dark, indistinguishable silhouette next to the bright window beaming in harsh desert sun. The dog sits on the round wooden table between them, first looking at one of them, then at the other.

Max’s neck tears open and the black girl runs out, still holding the silver rope which unravels as she runs toward the big man. The cop bursts out from behind her and stops on the table and aims. Suddenly more identical cops burst out, flowing out of the hole, then out of Max’s mouth, popping out his eyes and climbing down his face. They all fire their tiny guns at the girl. The large man picks her up in his hand and throws her out the window where she takes off running across the desert, growing back to normal size as she runs. She still holds the silver rope and now she turns back toward the diner and pulls the rope.

Back in the diner the dog is slobbering and eating the little policemen. The sound of the bell ringing in Max’s head can be heard and the waitress comes over, staring at Max, who gets up, mini cops tumbling down only to be scarfed up by the dog. The big man rises now, staring at Max. “That bell.” He stares. He can see it ringing through Max’s eyes and through other holes in his face. Then he crumples to his knees and crashes to the ground with a deafening smash. The waitress stares, ballpoint pen in hand. The big man claws the scummy linoleum floor. Then a tiny door in the top of his head swings open and a wasp flies out, carrying a miniature briefcase. “You’ll never get me!” The wasp cackles. The waitress swings at it with a flyswatter as it cackles madly. Max, the waitress, and the bulldog chase the wasp around the diner, crashing over chairs and tables until they all tumble out the window, running. The black girl with orange hair now joins them. They all chase the wasp across the desert who darts back and forth, laughing in its tinny little voice. He then opens his briefcase in mid-flight and pulls out a cellphone. “Hey Charlie, they’re right behind me . . . Yeah, all four of them! . . . No, I’m not kidding. You really gotta see this . . . You are? Well, watch this!” And he takes off straight up into the sky. The four stare up at him as he gets higher and higher, laughing. He stares down at their figures getting smaller and smaller.

Finally he reaches a chunky, squat rocket floating in the air. A door pops open and he flies inside. “Charlie! Did you see all that?”

Copyright © 2008. All Rights Reserved.

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