vendredi, juin 08, 2007


Pecker hopping. Bare chest and thighs shiny with sweat. Nothing they hadn’t seen before, thought I__, an Investigator for Family Pharmacy & Foods Inc., trying to make out the face looking at him through the glare of an apartment window across the courtyard, the someone watching him as he jumped rope naked.

He kept up the rhythm while the someone—a woman?—a man with hippie hair?—settled in, watching. As steadily as a camera.

1011 1101 0110 1111 1100 1101 0101 1100 1101 1....—a choreography of bytes....

It was like being in a movie….

Family Pharmacy. Standing before glossy models on the covers of magazines, Q__ felt eyes on her. Instinctively she stashed her meds in her army jacket and looked up—a bowled security mirror collaged her own bowed face with the reflections of a store manager, standing behind the cash register, pretending to work though she could tell he was actually scoping her out; he began diddling with his bowtie—the polka-dot bowtie all Family Pharmacy managers wore—companies as bad as the army about making everyone dress alike so they’d think alike—this stooge looking away as quickly as people always did when she caught them watching her. The Creep.

What kind of movie?

Odd, thought I__., skipping rope in his living room, that he, an Investigator for Family Pharmacy & Foods Inc., a person who knew how surveillance could turn anyone to glass, could be so untroubled....

My Neighbor’s Affair?


The View Into Apartment 3-G?

It was like being visited by a shade, U__ thought, naked except for matched black panties and bra (Without-a-Trace™). Ghostly shades, she considered, that were everywhere and therefore nowhere even if night by night they made her a little more like them. She shifted her weight from one spiked heel (Armani) to the other, waiting for the photographer to finish adjusting the flood lights shining into her eyes. They would take her picture—she was sure it was her that they were photographing because her body was there—then one of them would come, make her a little more—a little more obscure—and by the time she saw her other self, the self that appeared in catalogs, on packaging, in brochures and the ads she modeled for, she was different: duskier skin, softer silhouette, anime eyes. Different her, yet her.
"Raise the key beam,” Photographer told his Assistant. Or at least she assumed it was Photographer. With the lights glaring in her eyes, the people beyond came to her as disembodied voices, fussing about whatever it was that they worried before they took her picture.
She shifted to the other foot. Odd, how something as tiny as a tired muscle or a paper cut could remind a person that the world was solid and too real all around though you yourself could seem so— What?— Not there? And this is how U__’s story began: wondering how the stone walls of the wine cellar she posed in could have such gravity while most of what made up who she was was lighter than the web of stories and negatives and pixels that modeled her career out of thin air. As Stylist put a wrap around U__’s shoulders to keep the cool, wine-cellar air from goose-pimpling her flesh, U__ took inventory: this morning, her bathroom scale said she weighed one hundred and seven pounds; mail addressed to her was delivered to the apartment she inhabited. And of course her driver’s license listed a name (Organ Donor?—NO!).
But in an age of interlocking subdivisions and identical restaurants, in a world that each year generated 100,000,000 Miracle Slacks™, each of which had to be filled—HELLO! MY NAME IS:_______________—in a country of actuary tables, of ZIP codes, of an endless supply of service manager uniforms (filled out by Service Managers), census forms (filled in by Citizens), personalized mail-order catalogs, identical parking garages and their tiers of look-a-like vans (Forest Green or Goldenrod) bearing vanity plates (2HOT4U) stamped out by some 51 prisons (a form of living to be sure), of Neilson ratings, and Frequent Flier Memberships—an age when the Japanese went through thirteen Prime Ministers in nine years without blinking, when every American City greeted tourists with local versions of the same Sports Heroes, News Teams and other types—Bag-lady, Alderman, Shopper, Cop—that is, for the purposes of a story of her time, did the particulars of name matter?
What was important was that the world at this time required Models, just as five hundred Fortune 500 companies required five hundred CEOs, just as airports required Airplanes, just as Hollywood always required about six Action Heroes, four Teenage Heart Throbs, and one, but no more than one, overweight Funny Guy. Just as most divorces still required at least one Jerk, Top 40 lists required forty Top Songs, best-seller lists required Best Sellers to be best sold and talk shows required Hosts to talk, Guests to talk to, and Viewers to call in; Teachers required Students, History required Revolutions, Economies, Wars and Peace to fill it—and Historians to make it mean. If you light up fluorescent lighting over an expanse of office cubicles, everyone knew, Accountants and Phone Solicitors, Web Designers and Xs and Ys and Zs would soon fill those cubicles, as surely as a crossword puzzle invited Letters or vending machines promised to dispense Product. Thus, if some Photographer set up floodlights, sooner rather than later, a Model would appear to stand in their glare as was U__, dressed in black Lycra, Without-A-Trace™ Panties and Bra (seamless shaping!), shifting limbs heavy with boredom while she waited for him to take his meter readings, adjust his light umbrellas and do whatever it was that photographic apparatus required a Photographer to do.

A movie others were making.

This is stupid, Q__ thought, the store’s Manager’s eyes weighing on her in that old exhausting way as she brought a magazine up to his register. Even though he probably thought she was shoplifting, she kept the meds she’d paid for back in pharmacy hidden in her army jacket because— Because she didn’t want every Tom, Dick & Harry knowing about her meds. Because she didn’t want him to think she was only buying a magazine because—
Because she hated having to ask.
X__ said his Family Pharmacy nametag, the rest of his name hidden by the lapel of his blazer. She placed the magazine—Look—on the counter, fished around in her purse—the Manager’s ratty, piss-holes-in-the-snow eyes unbuttoning her blouse?—

1011 1101 0110 1111 1100 1101 0101 1100 1101 1....—to and fro and up into the card reader of the cash register.

On the monitor below the counter, Queenie Qunt, and other info linked to the credit card X__ had just swiped appeared across a live video of her face. Most customers didn’t notice the decal on the door giving Family Pharmacy permission to videotape them, he knew, but so what? If they weren’t doing anything wrong they had nothing to hide.


After paying, Q__ stared straight ahead as she asked, “Do you have a public restroom here?”

Store 046616


...firm melons....


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