even conceivably useful to the military, I can
no longer focus or think straight, and sure as hell
can't do seven more hours without going nuts...
my bloodstream, now a Yangtze of yellow fever,
smallpox, and plague vaccines, I’m a lock-jawed yawning
hippo, my fevered, sleep-deprived brain no more alive
than a bowl of scorched oatmeal, and all these A B C D
columns of fill-in-the-answer ‘bubbles’ converging and
retreating on the pages like dance partners in a Virginia-
freaking-reel while the High Noon clock on the wall nickels
and dimes away the seconds, and my sanity packs its
AWOL bag and books a seat on the next flight out--
leaving me languishing in this honeycomb of plywood
testing cubicles (the ‘test-icles’) surrounded but existentially
alone, not allowed to talk, and no one to talk to, complain
to, yell to, ‘Going nuts over here, boss! ’ nothing to look at
but a test, a standard #2, and oh, this one tiny snippet of
olive-drab thread folded over on itself like a cursive e
insubstantial as a strand of hair lying there with the
pocket-lint that eddies up into future dust bunnies in the
corner between the desk’s surface and the upright panels and...
it IRRITATES me, man, just infuriates the hell out of me
like some damned housefly on my dinner plate... so I just
blow that filament, PHUHH! outta sight outta mind, right
out through the crack... and get back to chewing on what’ll
become of me if I flunk this freakin’ test, when suddenly,
pssshwt! it just tumbles itself right back out into its former
place, lounging now in the lazy form of an S like it’s
just basking there in a chaise lounge (No thanks—I like it
just fine right here) ...prompting that exhausted little nervous
bug-zapper tic in my eyelid that’s been driving me nuts
to crank up the bass in my brain another notch. So
I go feeling along the seams to see if there’s some
draft that might’ve blown it back through, but not
finding one, so: PHUHH! blast it once again right under
the wall and sit back to eyeball that corner like some cat
listening to something tickity-scratching on the other side...
and sure enough: pssshwit! she comes side-windering
back onto my desktop again TA-DAH! like a breeze- blown
acrobatic tumbleweed... So: PHUHH! back it goes,
and pssshwit! back it comes (and something’s begun to
‘happen’ inside me, something warm and fuzzy... PHUHH!
some little filling-of-The-Big-Void, Pssshwit! a therapeutic
playfulness, a putting it into perspective that I’m not
alone, that I have this invisible ‘friend’ on the other side,
an ‘opponent of friendly fire’... and a crooked smile stitches
itself across my face as I roll the tiny strand up into a
booger-ball and position it in the opposite, unexpected
corner (Ha-hah! Nobody expects the unexpected corner!)
...take a deep breath, and PHUHH! drive that sucker
straight in past the goalie! SCORE! And the crowd goes
wild, the ‘stadium’ rocking from the stifled belly-laugh
on the other side... over there. I can feel him (and he
feels good) Pssshwit! String-ball rockets back out
the center of the front panel (what the...? ) practically
bowling me over and... CRAP! I wasn’t ready yet!
I was scouting the corners! OK, mister...game’s tied,
one-all! But... it’s my serve, and...
PHUHH! Right down your throat, fella!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A decade before the advent of personal computers,
and long before the world wide web or the first
video game... an imaginary ‘friend’ and I kick the crap
out of each other in a rousing little game of Thread,
two good ol’ ‘boys’ destined never meet
face-to-face, but spiritually touching one another...
two incarcerated ‘prisoners’ communicating
through the wall dividing our adjacent cells...