By Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois
However, some years after my father died, I changed. I ran to California. I ran from my origins like a man running from a tsunami. I ran ever northward, from L.A. to the Bay Area, from the Bay Area to Humboldt County, almost to the Oregon border. In each place I invented new expressions of my madness, but my madness never left me. It was only when I finally left that state that it began to fade.
I imagined I was going to a place where I would live down a dirt road among orange groves, a Florida reincarnation of a defunct California dream, but, of course, it wasn’t like that. I took up residence where alligators ate dogs, men carried flasks of bourbon in their boots and stood and removed their hats when a band played Dixie. An ancient photographer reached into a dusty drawer and pulled out a black-and-white photograph of the last lynching done in that town, the last lynching in the South.
I was in Ace Hardware this morning. They made a key for me that didn’t work, but it was a pleasure to have it made by a young woman with tribal inspired tattoos on her anorexic arms, so I forgave. The cashier had no tattoos, but also had emaciated arms. Both these women together had barely a shred of muscle between them. I would like to have watched them arm wrestle, weakness against weakness, tattoos against the milky whiteness of skin.
Then two homeless people came in, each pushing the kind of carrier an old lady might use for her groceries, and the homeless lady said: Do you have little wheels like these? (pointing at the right wheel at the front of her cart) and the weak-armed cashier looked edgy and said: No, we don’t carry wheels like that.
A giant anteater put his tongue down my throat. I’d been eating chocolate covered ants. Since I got this job at the zoo, I’ve been expanding my range of experiences. Don’t judge me. I’ve been lonely for so long, I deserve intimacy wherever I can find it.
I’ve come to despise people. The only way I tolerate my boss is to imagine him as an orangutan, the animal he most resembles. Then I can be cordial with him and follow his orders, which contradict each other from day to day. I’ve found human women harder to take than men, which is unfortunate, because my preferences are heterosexual.
I’m the oldest motherfucker riding the rails. If I fall onto the tracks, my hips will break like any old fart falling out of bed or on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It doesn’t matter that I’m a legend, the last Beat still cranking it out, still finding my inspiration in life’s crap.
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over a thousand of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, The Best of the Net, and Queen’s Ferry Press’s Best Small Fictions for work published in 2011 through 2015. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver.