by Dillon J. Welch
Please exit my head; the aisle lights will direct you to the corner door which is illuminated by a red neon orb and a sign reading do not come back, please don't ever come back. It was two years ago today I watched you shine a floodlight on a bald fool, made him eat eggs and twist marionette strings until a cacophony of wind chimes played the stage like a concert. Hurl your clay-borne pigeon into the air, but tie it to a shoestring and let it return to place. Please exit my head. My temple is pounding, Caden's temple is bleeding and beating, but it isn't really, is it? Your house is perpetually burning, good sir. Your stage—inside of a warehouse inside of another warehouse—is on fire. No one makes Keener slant, makes her crouch in a boardroom as if the ceiling were electric. No one should ever convince Nic to talk to himself because he does that enough as it is. Mr. Kaufman: please exit my head. Please exit the stage the way rockstars do, twirling ladies' undergarments as pyrotechnics shoot off into the rafters. Please exit the room the way the poet exits the coffee shop after the third line in his second poem didn't quite land the way he wanted it to. The IV drip of the espresso machine is ticking his footsteps down the street, down the alleyway and up the fire escape. For the love of God, in all his ephemeral greatness, please exit my head and put out the flame that you left burning on the mantle.
This morning I woke up and it was morning, which I hadn't expected because the label preached take two, with water. I keep seeing his face or, at least his lack-of-face in the bookstore, a lifeless pale sphere on collared shoulders. It's disgusting, really, watching Joel fling his arms around a body only to have it slip beneath the surface of the floor before his hands can hit the opposite sides of his ribs. When the two of them sprint through Grand Central—Clem's tangerine hair making note of the immediacy of it all—I nearly lose it. How could you do this? How could you tear down the foundations of everything I've ever thought about every girl who's ever kissed the back of my hand? Stop this, Charlie. Destroy your notebooks, lose them in the shuffle of moving boxes when you relocate from Pasadena to Tamarac. Don some kind of extravagant memory eraser (which can't truly exist...can it?) and remove what I can only assume is left from your lobotomy: a fishbone, a divorce, and some childhood reverie that wakes you up at night but does not water the plants while you're away.
You've slipped up. According to whoever carves definitions into stone tablets, Synecdoche does not stand for making one sad and lonely man feel like the floor is sinking, even though it doesn't matter because it's always been sinking and he's just never noticed before. The thought came to me late last night when a bottle of whiskey served me another glass, and the bar around me turned into a restaurant (which turned into a small town, then to a city, a state). When the room shrunk back into itself, I stumbled into the street and the Law took me in; gave me a blanket and a court date for drinking my head into the pavement. It's okay though: when I got back home, I set a mousetrap in the hall next to the crack in the wormwood. When it snaps, I'll name the captive "Charlie" and I will watch until his legs stop breathing air into his lungs.
The candlelight in my room has been flickering as of late. I will admit that I'm only lighting it because I'm afraid that the electricity will go out, afraid that the insides of my sheets may actually be made of quicksand. Sinking. It's a strange concept, almost as peculiar as the faceless narrator (read: me) and the way he's been hanging tiny portraits of past lovers around his apartment. You can't see them unless you're either really deft or wearing vastly magnified glasses, the likes of which probably don't exist and won't exist until scientists find a way to capture telescope, to capture longdistancefaraway in concave glass form.
Tonight I've decided to stare at the paint cans on my kitchen table until they call my name in a gurgled voice. Home redecoration. Rearranging of one's life. I remember watching Lotte scream and shriek from inside the dog cage and thinking their apartment is a mess. Why is their apartment such a mess? I could argue (with myself) that these are untrained optic nerves tied to my brain like a balloon string, that I'm not actually film savvy, that I know nothing of pain and psychosis—but I'd be lying. I once saw a dog on the freeway that lost its legs, but hadn't yet realized it was dying. I've caught a moth in my palm and crushed it until nothing was left but a wisp of dust. When the driver almost flipped the school bus into a ditch, I was in the fifth row. I remember the way she sat on the curb, her orange eyes not wet but vacant. I'm pretty sure she quit that day, Charlie, but then again, who wouldn't?
Charlie—it's midnight and I'm writing this not because I can't sleep, but because I can never sleep. Tell me how it ends tell me that at age twenty-four I will know the insides of a derelict hospital better than I know myself. Tell me that at age twenty-seven I will meet a girl, perhaps named Fiona, perhaps Julienne, and we will snicker under the sheets when I call her apple or potato. Tell me, Charlie, that when I turn thirty-three, I will look at my reflection in the mirror and see: DENTAL FLOSS, HAIRLINE, FAMILY DEATH, MORTGAGE. Is it frightening to look into old pictures in frames made of tarnished silver and see someone you don't recognize? At age thirty-eight will I dance the Electric Slide at my boss's wedding? Tell me it gets better, tell me that small victories—free dinner for two, the closest seat at my daughter's recital, a refrigerator magnet in the shape of a whale—will string together my sanity long enough for me to forget that it's short and mostly painful, especially for an artist.