In the Spirit of Dunkirk (Nov. 5, 2003)

Monday, 3:14pm — A friend calls to say that he is fed up with the stupidity and crassness of wage slaves happily voting to keep their wallets empty and their dreams stillborn. He invites me to a series of socio-pagan rituals designed to: 1) inflict damage on the corporate symbols that serve as shrines for the homogenization of thought and consciousness, 2) meet girls. I said I was all for number 2, and getting some dates for the weekend, but didn’t understand the difference between “thought” and “consciousness.” He says that Stalin felt the same way, and henceforth he would take great care to ensure that his back would not be exposed to my knife. 

Wednesday, 11:22pm — A large kitchen half-brightened by torches. The dwarf is in a butcher’s apron smeared with blood. In his hand is a meat cleaver and on his head a cowboy hat of white straw, bent at the ends in the fashion of bull-riding rodeo cowboys. The dwarf is on top of a massive wooden table, dancing around the carcass of a lamb in what he calls 17 Steps Celebrating The Hierarchy of Need. From the stereo speakers fast jangling flamenco guitars urge him onward, faster. The dwarf gyrates to the tempo, violently spinning limbs and weapon and moccasins, a whirling dervish falling into and out of the flickering light. His face twists in a perverse religious agony, at once ecstatic and murderous. I think of hatchet-faced missionaries in dark robes whispering salvation in Caesarean vernacular. The dwarf howls a strange cry, like a wounded vampire, and when he pivots and stabs the air, his blade slices through the murky yellow light in a menacing gleam. I notice small silver bells plaited in his long hair, twirling in delirious spasms. “Dance, you little fucker, dance!” someone shouts. The music lulls, and the dwarf likewise slows the pagan writhings of his bloody gherkin, his blood-washed hands, his cheeks flecked with lamb’s blood turning rust-colored from his sweat. Softer the music and softer his low-throated chant and softer his feet, until he’s barely moving at all. Finally he drops to his knees and runs his blade along the lamb’s neck, tracing a patient line from jugular to inner haunch, then drops his ceremonial knife and pulls the carcass closer to him, until he lies side by side with his object, like lovers in a motel room after the sin. “Bless us,” says the dwarf, “Bless us and our cowardice, which takes sustenance from your strength. Bless the stew and the chops to come, bless our greedy mouths as we chew your flesh, forgive our fangs and tongues as we swallow your beauty with no attention to the carrots. For we are the eaters of the dead, and tonight we feast.” 

“Here here.”

“There there.”

The dwarf pushes himself up and sits on the edge of the table. He turns off the tape recorder and for a moment there is nothing but torchlight and silence. Then a jug is passed around, and we tip it down into our throats and let the wine splash against the sides of our mouths, some spilling over our shirts and to the floor below. The dwarf hungrily watches us drink, nodding his head, rocking back and forth in anticipation of his own lips and teeth grabbing at the glass teat of Bacchus. When the bottle finally reaches him, is passed from shadow into the sickly glow of the lamb’s body, the dwarf grabs it with both hands, takes a lengthy sip, another, then lifts the bottle over his head and lets the wine spill on his hat and head and shoulders. The dwarf moans the mournful bellow of a donkey, pipe music drifting down a lonesome corridor. The dwarf stands up to straddle the lamb, the body of the lamb, the slaughtered innocent that in minutes will be carved up and split open, whose ribs will be rubbed with garlic and touched by fire, so that the fat sizzles in the flame, singeing the skin and sweetly roasting flesh. The dwarf strips down to his bare chest. His torso bristles with muscles, a pint-sized Adonis. He flexes his muscles in a series of body-builder poses, tensing his biceps, squeezing his delts, turning around so to show us his iron-hardened reverse, he even shakes his ass at us, slowly, modestly, like a fat woman emerging from a public swimming pool. The onlookers whistle and clap. Bravo! Then the dwarf scurries off the table, ties his apron back on, and puts a cigarette in his mouth, then produces Zippo and flame.

“This is not meant to be a criticism,” my friend says, “But I think your nutsack was showing.”

The dwarf takes a long drag, then exhales. “Were you looking?” He is nonchalant.

“No, and that’s why I bring it up, as it were. I wasn’t looking and there it was.”

“Scro-tum,” the dwarf says, “my scro-tum.”

“Exactly.”

“Scro-tum represents Ganesh, remover of obstacles. Scro-tum says Hierarchy of Needs is interpretive.” The dwarf turns and walks out of the kitchen. 

My friend raises his eyebrows. “Do you know what they say about dwarf equipment?”

“No.”

“It’s bigger than you think.”

I learn that the dwarf has had three penis enlargements, inch by inch. He is the Michael Jackson of cock trumpers, and addicted to plastic surgery. He’s had a nose job, calf implants, a tummy tuck. The dwarf’s name is Devon D. Dunkirk, and he is fond of saying: “True, I’m a small disaster, but it could’ve been worse.” 

Later I am approached by a woman in a silver flight suit. She says, “Have you ever bought a pair of pants at Banana Republic?” Well, yes. She sneers and walks off, and later I see her bending down to light the dwarf’s cigarettes. He whispers something into her ear as her flame catches the mouth of his Marlboro, they laugh and look at me. 

Thursday 9:51am — Walking by the bus stop at Haight at Clayton. There's a blonde woman in a long coat with a faux fur collar with leopard spots: it’s the same girl who asked me about the trousers at Banana Republic. She looks at me, looks away. For an instant anything is possible, the membrane between time and space dissolved by subtle below-the-belt stirrings. She walks up to me and sneers, “When you get home after work you’ll lay on the floor next to the open window and pretend to hear my footsteps in the streets, the clatter of high heels clickety-clacking and you’re paralyzed by the pathos of pen and paper, all the love letters you never sent. You want more but don’t know how to grab it. I say you should quit now. Don’t get on the bus, don’t let the television define your masculinity. Don't swallow another half-breath of recirculated air, each tepid machine-cough a little less full of oxygen, as beneath the city-code fluorescence every ominous tick of the clock makes you feel a little less vital, a shuffle closer and hopelessly towards death. A phone rings somewhere inside of you, I can hear it ringing. It’s me, pick it up and I'll tell you everything, I'll confess the secrets of the universe, how it's all lies and beauty, pop music coming from the man's car next to me. But first you must promise to strike back, to go down fighting.” She puts a smooth stone in my hand and leans forward to kiss me and I close my eyes but when I open them she is gone. Later, out of frustration and love, I throw the rock through a window, and the shattering glass and shrieking alarm make me remember running out on the football field beneath the Friday night lights, young and full of hope.

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