Now, some of you may take that as some sort of convoluted, homoerotic message. Others a non sequitur that has no bearing whatsoever on what I’m about to divulge into on this series of pixilated prose. You know, it has nothing to do with neither me, nor my preference for all things pickled and not in their prime. This has to do with something far superior, something we are about to embark on, an voyage, of sorts, masked by complete and complex nostalgia, yet utter and staggering harmony. We’re in it, my friends – this is it. Don’t get seasick, because, well, at this point, were almost there. I can see land, and I’m already drunk from whiskey and wine or whatever in those barrels, because that’s what we drink in now, on these ships, as we are downwind and soaring. There’s no worries, mate, nothing to worry about at all, because you let the wind take care of you at that point and just fly three sheets to the wind, my friend, three sheets to the wind. And you may be thinking, okay man, I don’t drink, how can you compare apples to giraffes here, when I don’t know that feeling, that buzz you get when the sour nectar streams through you, seeping into cavities and caverns and all corners of the brain and the neural connections get fizzed and the synapses say, hey, it’s time to take five, and your drunken brain tells the limbs to loosen up, do a little fox-trot man, dig it, that’s it, let loose, you feel like puddin’ now, don’t you? – oh, don’t fight it, do not fight it, or else I may not be able to handle myself, and myself being me, the brain, which is telling you to fucking let go, just leave your limbs to me, consider me a babysitter of sorts, just call me when you get back from the movies, or “the movies,” and I’ll be sure to tuck theses bones into bed before midnight. (Wink)

And so that’s sort of how it is, you know, like, sans hyperbolic rant, but you see – there it is again, a rant, an extension of reality; we all just want to add some essence to our banal existence, some kind of heady afterthought. But don’t stray too far, it’s nothing to be scared of, no, no, just add a little poetry to your order at the pizza counter – you know, something like, hi, how are you – good, good, now, before I was about to order, I had noticed your tattoo, that brilliant little thing poking through those two tank top straps like field goal posts, a punt leading straight to the heart. But it’s ironic. I get it, a tattoo of a heart outside of your actual essential organ, fantastic, just incredibly fantastic of you, well, what’s my name? Well aren’t you the acute observer, you see what I’m doing, don’t you? – I’m slowing things down here, halting the mundane order of things, just about twenty-five more seconds, that’s all I’ll take. Can we all just pause, and see this, here? You know? – What? Oh, okay, I was just seeing if the – very well penned – calligraphy, right there, over your true heart, and arching over the painted heart like Apollo’s arrows…No, I mean, I realize that you’re a woman, okay, so Artemis then, she still flung those things around, right? – I’m just trying to make a pretty image for you here, but I honestly think mythology is up for interpretation, right? – like Jesus presumably being black; okay, I digress. Your tattoo that reads – “If I die, take this, please.” – how transparent we are – ha, no, I’m kidding, but I like it, it goes with the whole unconcerned disposition I get every time I come here. But I just wanted to say hello, and I appreciate the extra rolls you give me when I order a salad, and the half wink I see that may, mistakenly, or whatever, come my way. It hurts, you know, when girls do that, such silly games we play. I think Bret Easton Ellis wrote something about that, yeah. I know. I was born that year. But regardless, I read it, and disagreed with some of his convictions, like my generation’s death of romance, or the lethargic state of The Party. You know, my friends have thrown a few good Parties over the years, and I still open the door for dates of mine. C’mon, you’re forcing me to embody Cassandra here. And fuck, I know, she was a girl, just go along with me here. We could be great, you and me, I’d twirl the pizza dough up in the air in the back while you keep the patrons in line, and you’re so nonchalant, I love it. Like, I know it’s not ideal, we’d have to take out another mortgage and you know, I’d have my softball games with the guys every Wednesday night, and then we go out to the bar after, you know that. Fuck, okay, I understand, I’m getting ahead of myself. But this isn’t Troy; this is real shit here, the city won’t be destroyed any time soon; we still have time. I can’t say this for everyone, but I appreciate your time and consideration here. Goodbye, Apollo, and good luck with your heart.

There was some sort of, like, freak exodus of about thirty some odd teenage-looking boys and girls (they look younger and younger nowadays, are they getting enough Calcium? Wheaties, my friends, and a half cup of low-fat milk every morning). Well they were traipsing up across 3rd St. downtown at the ungodly hour when people have to decide where they are going to stake out for the night. It’s a tough decision; we usually choose the wrong place, get dragged to some dreary Party where your own sex clearly outweighs the opposite, and you’re stuck, because your brain hasn’t tucked you in yet and Jesus, ten blocks is a long way from home to walk. So you indulge. You need to calm your brain. It’s ordered too many Pay-Per-View movies on our TV and now we’re home and you just can’t tear yourself away, c’mon brain, it’s time to go home. And then it hits you. Yes! There’s only one place in town that you can be assured of respectable dining, a place where the cashiers are working out the last few words of a crossword puzzle, and you come to the counter in just the right moment to swoop in and take a peek at the chicken-scratched checkerboard of words and realize – “fuck, I know that one, what’s a four-letter word for the Greek god of love, fuck! I know this. It’s … it’s … Eros! Yes, Eros! Fuck, Eros!”– and you’ve blow your cover but the cashier blurts out – “fuck yes! – immediately after your original “Fuck, Eros!” – like some sort of call-and-response mantra, and then screams “I finished the Friday crossword, you all are mother fuckers!” – to which you are congratulatory and know that you aided in the effort to undermine the crossword guru Rich Norris. And just then the cashier rings you up and – no fucking way – it’s about four bucks off the price tag of my meal. I ponder this for a moment, maybe her fingers are sticky or she forgot a decimal or something, but shit yeah, I’ll sacrifice eternal-Friday-crossword-finisher glory in exchange for ghostwriter status and a significantly less costly midnight munchies.

And don’t think I won’t leave without telling you how sweet these pickles are. No, don’t get all Freudian on me – I’m talking about the most well composed piece of art, the most fantastic component of the night; I’m talking, of course, about the Flacos sandwich shop. Nothing outstanding out front, really, just a corner sandwich shop, the kind of place you’d go on a whim. But because you went out sailing again, halfway through the week (again) – because you deemed it necessary to take a few swigs from the barrel before you hit land, before you are set free to explore your new soil – fresh, but foreign new world. You need this small token of lucidness, something to remind you of your divine dwelling, the place you came from, the constant you take with you every time you set out. This fucking … stupid … sandwich. Yeah, I know, it’s small – really small, like a picture of your wife to clasp during war, or that videotape your wife sent you of your baby girl’s first steps, that you replay over and over, before you are sent out into the desert; and fuck does it get lonely out here, out at sea I mean, but it’s the same thing – way, way far out here. And just then you hear rings in your ear, it brings you back down. And they register as faint twangs, perfectly spaced with other familiar arrangements – yes, banjo strings I think, Key of G, as usual. And then the voices come reeling in, and they spin around inside your head like vultures that feed off memories of youth and all that was decent at one time. Yes, that’s our hometown boy Claytor again, see him there, through the crowds, right there! – on the mic, on the banjo, with five plastic picks dancing across tiny bronze and silver fibers – they resonate in and out of your heart that you’d tear out in an instant to go back.