The Unknown: The Red Line.

Santa Monica Boulevard address Unknown. Dirk was dressed as Santa Claus, rolling a joint. A rivulet of blood tickled from his nostril. He was laying out his drugs on an issue of Rolling Stone. Scott looked away. William was on the cover of the Rolling Stone. It was obvious to Dirk that Scott was jealous, and so Dirk laid out his reds and greens and blues, his ritalin ephedrine ecstasy ibuprofen epiphany, in a mosaic of oval capsules, languorously. Before that, he had been laying down a heavy rap about the Illuminati, about J.R. Bob Dobbs. Scott looked out the window. Was this Delaware, Wyoming, Utah, North Carolina, South Dakota? Dirk arranged the STD, LSD, MDT. Dirk is high like alpha centauri, low like Lucifer, visionary like Hitler. Dirk had, with his abacus of hallucinogens, uppers, downers, narcotics, tranquilizers, steroids, solved the Kennedy assassination. His nose was bleeding because, hours earlier, he had shattered the mirror he was doing lines off of, and then did an inadequate job of separating the cocaine dust (his last gram) from the glass dust, snorting everything, lacerating his nasal membranes into a bleed that seemed incurable.

–But, really, despite all appearances, my aspirations are decidedly modest, Dirk said. I’ve just been parroting my reading; all the connections were made by others, long before I knew anything. So if this pharmaceutical menagerie provides even the brief illusion of some transcendental vision, I’ll be satisfied. The metaphysical equivalent of an overpriced roller coaster ride would be more than sufficient.

–Yeah, Scott mumbled bitterly, after all, not everyone can get their picture on the cover of Rolling Stone.

William took out his ukulele and started strumming a barely recognizable version of the Dr. Hook song of the same name.

–And I keep getting richer, but, William sang.

–Fuck Scott, see, man, that’s your problem, Dirk said. Listen, I’d be happy to just have some stupid piece of crap I wrote mentioned in the same magazine in which Umberto Eco had an article. Even if they got my name wrong. No, especially if they got my name wrong!

–I got all the friends that money can buy, so I never have to be alone . . .

–Shut up, William, Scott barked. Just . . . shut . . . up. Please.

It had been a tense holiday. NASDAQ had tanked completely in the days leading up to Xmas and Scott had lost a bundle. had briefly flirted with penny stock status, but now you couldn’t buy a share, even if you wanted to. After NASDAQ had stopped trading our stock, whatever miniscule value remained vanished. I keep saying “our,” as if I had a true stake in the success or failure of Sure, I got my block during the IPO, but I had nothing before I got the stock, so having nothing now is no different. Only Scott took advantage of the extremely generous options. He kept urging us to buy more and more stock, “If the creators of the product don’t believe enough in their work to invest in it, why should anyone else?” Everyone ignored him and now he’s in debt up to his eyeballs. The margin call wiped him out, and beyond.

In the offices of Rolling Stone, William had sat in a waiting room with Blink 182. The band were taking turns reading out loud to one another from Wallace Shawn’s The Fever. William didn’t recognize the band, but he did recognize the text, and rather enjoyed the recital. A woman leaned out of a pastel green door and said to William:

–We’re going to take your picture. Do you want cool clothes?

William looked down at his clothes and realized they were uncool.

–Sure. Cool clothes would be, uh, cool.

He shot a brief glance at Blink 182. Nobody had offered them cool clothes, therefore their clothes must have been cool.

Rolling Stone: So, how do you see the Unknown compared to the British invasion of the Sixties?

William: Well, we’re the Beatles, obviously. But more of a post-structuralist Beatles. We’re taking on literature as less of a pastiche, more of a ready-made. We’re anti-bourgeois, but closet modernists. So, if we can recontextualize the Stones as Sunshine ‘69, The Kinks as Grammatron, then it is within the heuristic to reconfigure us as an enigmatic Fab Four, with the one–Frank–a sort of mythological undead walrus. With Roland Barthes as George Martin… I think that can be thought of as the Greenwich Village folk music scene, which flourished briefly, only to be plowed under by psychedelic-cum-classic rock.

Scott fumed.

Dirk sealed the joint with his tongue, concluding:

–The Unknown embraces the Groucho-Lennonism of The Firesign Theater.

William stopped strumming and singing and stared blandly at Scott.

–Why is it, William mused, that every time we convince Dirk to throw an altered reality banquet, Scott shows up in a bad mood?

–Because he knows we’ll let him go first, Dirk said. C’mon, Scott, choose your poison.

Scott turned to scowl or protest, but Dirk, for once, is taking control.

–Now, Dirk said.

Meekly, Scott headed over to the tableau Dirk had assembled.

As Scott began to slowly pick this pill and that button, Dirk continued a thought everyone had already forgotten.

–And I never aspired to messiahship; that was your trip. I’m perfectly happy emulating Santa Claus, capitalism’s a poor excuse of a god. I give things to people. C’mon, William, you’re next...

novel META
al bull
shit sort of
a doc
ary corr
ence art is
at art live

The Unknown at Spineless Books.