for Shelly

The fish wakes up in an alley in full daylight. It's Sunday. Must be. Feels like Sunday somehow, and he's disheveled and bloodied, beaten and robbed, hung to the heels and smelling like a mammal. He pulls out his Louise XIV hand mirror, the one with all the various sexual positions as demonstrated by the Model Partners intricately sculpted all around the silver frame. This is a way of distracting the viewer from just how ugly he really is. The sunken eyes, the scales, the stubble. He is the only fish in existence who has to shave. And can He? Has he thought to bring his kit? This always happens on a Saturday night and Sunday Morning.

Seeing a homeless person pushing a shopping cart containing everything once owned by everybody else, he says, "You. Inferior Specimen. May I use your window washing equipment?"

"What's in it for me? Refer me to some windows? Condemnation site where I can crash? Some assholes to guilt for driving those tanks use radar to see out don't need no window washer, fuck em, fuck em? What can you give, sea creature? You're a mess, by the way. Somebody throw you back in the wrong side up?"

"I was assaulted and denied property rights like anyone else, Oh Counter Evolutionary. Now, you gonna show compassion and pass over that bottle or do I gotta skin ya?"

Did him no good at all. The street opened up into other possibilities. Not good ones. This was a street of sorrows. This was a street of bad dreams. Frank Sinatra once stalked this street. He was looking for a boy named Fabian, who had gotten the better of him in an echo chamber. There they were, rockin and arollin in that echo chamber and young Fabian was besting ole blue eyes, besting him at his own game. Think of it. Two northern Italians, both got tonsilitus. Both need to cut one. "Have to use the echo chamber, Chairman." Massed strings, some nice toots from the sax. So on. All this covering up, in the first place, the fact that you sound like yer singin through a bowel. Secondly, you can't sing a lick due to the terrible condition. Trouble is, Fabian's got dibs on the echo chamber. He can't even TALK without the dang thing. So Frank says to the kid, "I'll wrestle you for it." "Yer on, square." Etc. Not a nice street, no matter how you look at it. At least they accept unshaven fish.

"Dig the stubble, hon," says a tall blonde on a workout bike. "Nice noir effect. Bet it flies real swell with floozies in smoke-filled rooms, gum-chewing social climbers still thinkin' Kim Basinger."

"Think the effect'll get me off the street?"

"Well, maybe a pad off Hollywood Way where these late romantic lookalikes all talk Existench while they're diggin on the Wagner, maybe one of em's even got some pernod in his hollow cane, other guy is an unresolved Oedipal with his thumb up his mom's socket, his mind running through the Leibnitz variations on the I Ching, fuck em, wouldn't know what to do with a gal like me if I showed the training flicks, you know, the ones from junior high with these Dubyou Dubyou Two Vets go, 'Open-press-insert-wriggle-push ... now follow me ... One and OPEN, two and PRESS, three and INSERT ... You know what to do, guys. And remember. SHE has pleasure centers, too. This was recently discovered by SCIENCE.' Dig that one? Also got a flop over on Nova Burbank B-L-V-D, complete with neat green blinking on and off neon sign effect, for the alienation? The lonely guy maybe played by Jack Webb or some asshole like that? Thing is, though, marine life, you don't have to pay no rent because it's the set for some film they forgot about. Not bad. We might even have a life there together. Ever think of that? Quality stuff here. Buff. A hardbody type chick. Blond from countless selectivity operations on the part of the Gene Pool (you know, where all those typists hang out, kind of an Akashic record for the fast fading belief system, blame it on John Searle, blame it on the Logical Positivists, I don't care; Kant's the real culprit here: mix him up with all these mushy German harmonics trying to cover up some thin triad work you got fuckall ... Whadayasay?"

"I say I'm outa here. Outa here's better. Only got a few more seconds. I've completely forgotten my life project. Ever hear tell of it?"

"Yeah, I heard."

She pops her gum.

"You're not gonna share, are you?"

She tilts her head and looks coy.

"I don't think so."

"Hope you die."

"I will."

"I mean soon."

"Relative statement, thou short-sighted, ductless wonder. Soon for a rock. Soon for an ocean. Think about it."

"I will."

He goes on. He could go further. He could go until the end, and yet there is no end. Five more minutes. It started five minutes ago. It will end in five minutes. His life began five minutes ago. In five minutes it will end. But then he'll wake up in an alley somewhere, or in Egypt or London or Nova Burbank, alone and unshaven, ready for another quest, another life five minutes long, never longer. It's always five minutes, five more minutes, it started five minutes ago and it will go on for five more minutes.

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