The congress woman was on the phone and some loud mouth woman was jawing off about how the American Pharmaceutical companies were getting screwed and how independent insurance companies couldn’t compete with federal medical coverage, how the starving and the sick were fucking these poor corporations up the ass wanting to receive health care for no reason, just because they pay their taxes and their parents paid taxes before them and their children will pay taxes after them doesn’t mean that they are entitled to anything so superfluous as health care. That was the situation, getting this call from the congress woman and listening to this vicious loudmouth give a speech instead of asking a question. And Jojo’s stomach was clawing around at her insides as if it hoped to escape after a day of hunger, then overfeeding and now this sonic interruption. The house was full of fucking phones and they kept ringing off the hooks, cell phones, old fashioned rotary phones, touch tone phones, phones, phones, phones. She went into the bathroom and shut the door and started the water running in the bath.
Running in the bath…the water, water splashing, crashing against yellowed titles and cracked grout,
her naked body suddenly slipping into the warm tub, slink splosh, like a giant pink fish.
For a moment the water is roaring, the bath is thundering and her mind is running, running with the stars, and she realizes that if she howls just the right way her ears will ring and her stomach feels better. Clothes are piled on the floor, a little rumpled heap of jeans and sneakers and cut up T-shirt, as if the wicked witch just melted right there, into a simmering puddle while uttering a moan that sounds like the ringing of telephones.
Got to, got to go. Got to go see the gnome. This is a new trick, a new thing learned just this week. Just like at 13 months old she learned to utter the sound “Shlashshlight” and the heavy black mag light would be handed to her, that black thing that made light in a little circle, that came alive when a button was compressed, and it felt so good to push that button, click, on, click, off, now she had learned a new thing at age 23. A sound. Another sound that made things happen. A high pitch sound which she adjusted by listening to that almost none existent ringing in her ears. As long as the ringing kept up she was doing the right thing. Not the clang gatta clang gatta clang of the old rotary telephone, something else. A sound that seemed to come out of a tunnel, out of a forgotten channel, an invisible ear canal, high and soft and sweet. It could happen in the quiet. If she was lying in bed and everything was silent for a change and her body felt heavy as lead, she could hear that ringing without howling and singing her own high pitched sound. But if she couldn’t hear it by being still, she could find it with her own noise. It was an outgoing call. Yes, that was it, she could open the line from her end, but sometimes something else was initiating the call and all she had to do was pick up. Pick up and summersault through the weightless abyss for a time like Alice until at last reaching a more material chamber. Or call. AhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhoooooooooooooooooooooooooOAhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhoooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhahhhhhhhhhhhhhhoewahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…
And then tumble fall, woohwee!
Twirl among the stars, get tangled in the arms of galaxies, let the oblivion run, spilling into black pools, overflowing until ping, she was somewhere. She was standing in a forest, by a tree, (Arrrrrborrrrrr) looking at her own hand, the beautiful rivers that flowed through the palm cutting grand canyons into the fabric of life.
“Ahem.” The gnome, clearing his throat to rouse her from her reverie. His little face looked as though it were carved from wood, except that the flesh seemed to shiver like water, brown wrinkled water, and his beard was white but it wasn’t hair, it was something like moss or mold, formed of repeating geometric forms and his pointed hat wasn’t a hat at all but rather the top of his head, pointing into the sky like a capsized ice cream cone, but it was bumpy and composed of many smaller spires which ultimately composed the one distinct spire she had first seen. It was like romenesco cauliflower, something her roommate brought home from the farmers market once. If she hadn’t seen that there, in that kitchen in a galaxy far far away, she would have lacked a point of reference to correlate this to.
Oooooooh it was sooo pretty sooooooo…..
“Ahem.” She came out of the endless fractal beauty of his pointy little head and saw his dewy black eyes regarding her from under twig-like brows frosted with more of that white mossy mold stuff.
“Did you bring them?”
“Bring what?” she asked.
“Those mushrooms you just told me about. The squishy ones.”
“Oh.” She said, “I forgot about that. I couldn’t remember once I got there. I forgot why I went back. I’m very glad to see you again, it seems like such a long time.”
“I’ve only been waiting a few minutes. I could wait a few more if you go back to get them.”
“It was kind of a long time there. The time goes so slow, but it’s so hard to do anything. It’s very hard to remember.”
“Oh. But still, you said you would bring them. I want the spores. They will grow better here I think than they grow there. I think they will be something like me when they grow here.”
“Yesssss.” She answered slowly, ”I think you could be right. That’s why I thought of them in the first place. They remind me of you. I’m afraid to go back though. What if I can’t remember at all this time? What if I don’t ever come back?”
“Just try harder. You might remember better this time since we’ve tried it a few times before. I can wait. I’m very interested. Life is so precious, so hard to find. We are so fortunate to have met one another. Think of how glad we feel. I suspect that they will be glad too. Perhaps they’ve been waiting for us for a very long time. A time longer than the one you just returned from.”
“I should bring them then.”
“Yes, like I brought you the first time.”
“ I want to go over this again before I go. I should eat them, and when I’m with them, then I should call you?”
“Right. That should work.”
“Okay. I’ll be right back.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll wait. See you soon.”
They smiled at each other, their hearts fluttering, and she waved her hand before looking back into its creases, down into the canyons, into the running water that shaped them into the rushing, swirling darkness veined with purple and green, tumbling through the pulsing triangles of a weblike network until the web is golden and the abyss is crimson and she watches the lines flicker and surge like a fireworks display, watches it shift and pulse and twirl for an eternity and suddenly she realizes that these pulsing geometric patterns are the blood veins in her own eyelids. She is a pink fish swimming in the womb. No, she is in a tub. Pink tub fish in a fish farm. No, no. Not a fish, not a farm. A clang gatta clang gatta clang. The phone is ringing, vibrating through the walls of the tub. The bath! She is Jojo in the bath! Gasping, she opens her eyes and sits up. She shuts off the roaring cascade of the bath water and listens to the fucking phones ringing all over the house.