April 15, 2009
People have been wanting a place where they can go to read the Twitter novel “Small Places” without clicking through the reverse order on its Twitter page site. Right away, this post is for “Small Places” readers and new fans, and people who want to discuss literary innovation, because here, they will get 14 chapters (of the 25 posted), and a whopping 358 tweets of the nearly 600 posted.
But first, what is a Twitter novel?
A Twitter novel is sent out in verses. Twitter is a social networking micro-blogging site tied to cell phone technology (140 characters or less per entry). That means people can receive updates on their cell phones, thus making “Small Places” a mobile phone book.
Every leading media outlet uses Twitter, as do many presses, large and small. Why, even Brad Listi, the founder of TheNervousBreakdown.com, has a Twitter account.
While “Small Places” is a corporate mockery and love story set in Central California, it follows one man’s mundane day-to-day life, and his attempt to create philosophical meaning out of it. But the story isn’t just about a corporation. “Small Places” is highly imaginative, fantastical and filled with themes such as nature, relationships, compartmentalization, a search for understanding, and even tiny themes such as bugs, as the story explores our teeny weeny relationships with the cosmos.
Are Twitter novels just a gimmick? You’ll have to decide for yourself. But don’t be too quick to judge. Check this out: I began transmitting “Small Places” at 9:38 p.m. on April 25, 2008. Since then, people have been following the micro-form novel from all over the world. And it keeps getting talked about.
“Small Places” made the entire front cover of the North Bay Bohemian’s April 8-14, 2009 edition in Hannah Smith’s article, “Welcome to the Twitterverse: Where the Ego Generation and Novel Writing Meet, 140 Characters at a Time.” (Also featured in Silicon Vallley follow-up article in Metroactive). The novel has also been featured in the innovation section in a 2008 Christian Science Monitor article by Matthew Shaer, “The Novel by Tweet”. It was mentioned on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” on March 11, 2009, written about in 2.0 blogs, lit blogs a popular LA podcast and mentioned on Bakersfield’s ABC23 and KGET. It’s also featured as funky margin art in issue No. 11 of Antioch University’s “Knock Magazine.” That’s with no marketing or press releases. The phenomenon has simply garnered interest on its own accord via word of mouth because it’s the first original literary Twitter novel and the first original literary cell phone novel (mobile phone book) in North America and possibly all English-speaking countries. As you may know, there’s a huge sensation in Japan with cell phone novels (keitai shousetus).
With that said, there has even been interest lately in making “Small Places” available in print. I just sent off a letter after a publisher asked for information on the book. It could be rejected. You never know.
The literary world may be filled with its share of non-traditional methods. In my opinion, if a few more people start reading literature because of “Small Places,” then something good has been done for the literary community. Besides, cell phones aren’t going away anytime soon.
“Small Places” – By Nick Belardes
Twitter 1: I’ve grown to like small places. I like bugs, bug homes, walking stick bugs, blades of grass, ladybug Ferris wheels made out of dandelions.
Twitter 2: I like puddles, segments of reflections in dew and the parable of the bagworms I once made up. I’ll tell you later.
Twitter 3: On the other side of my apartment window is a dirty grey compartment of Central California sky.
Twitter 4: It’s right there; just on the other side of a wall, through a piece of glass, through an unopened doorway, even beneath cracks in the floor.
Twitter 5: Endless grey corporate sky. Above valley cities, cubicles of dirty air. I can see the grey, can practically taste a chunk of cottony smog.
Twitter 6: I tie my shoes. No great mystery about this cul de sac. Southern valley catcher’s mitt of mountains harbors the worst air in the nation.
Twitter 7: Just read the headlines in other cities. You won’t necessarily read it here in this all-American city, though everyone around here knows it.
Twitter 8: What else can I do but shut the door behind me and start walking? I don’t have a goddam car. And yes, it’s because I’m not well paid.
Twitter 9: The grey skyline doesn’t tower too far above wide, empty streets. From several blocks away I can see Buildicon Enterprises.
Twitter 10: Buildicon uses a four-story bank as its home base for product development, marketing, tech support and shipping.
Twitter 11: I see a line of ants on the sidewalk. They seem to be walking to Buidicon. I imagine them taking my place, in cubicles, hardly working.
Twitter 12: Boxy, the structure looms above the dirty horizon. Lines of ants spill into gutters and cracks. A leaf is carried with them like a stretcher.
Twitter 13: I imagine myself falling down exhausted, shrinking, lying on the leaf and carried into the darkness of small places.
Twitter 14: I’m not thinking about Mulani, not right now anyway. I pass a school auditorium, looks like a Lego. It’s haunted complex is ripe with ghosts.
Twitter 15: When I get near Buildicon I stare up. The windows are dirty, dusty. I walk through the parking garage to the foyer. Bankers, lawyers pass.
Twitter 16: Then I see faithful Buildicon workers–all people like me who infest this building. I silently curse the elevator. The doors open. I step in.
Twitter 17: I beg for this to not be the time I get stuck as it chugs toward the third floor. “Please, not me today. I didn’t eat a hearty breakfast…”
Twitter 18: Elevator sickness… Are there rooms ants hate, that grubs detest? A type of wood chamber for a termite–a moment when a cocoon is a prison?
Twitter 19: “I don’t care if I get stuck in the elevator. As long as you do my work.” That’s what Mulani, a true time-managed Buildicon employee, says.
Twitter 20: Such kernels of truth are nothing a Rolex after five years of faithful employment can fix. The doors swing open. I walk toward marketing.
Twitter 21: Perfectly compartmentalized sits endless cubicles with computers in each, all cozily networked, each with a chair fit for lumbar support.
Twitter 22: On each desk rests pictures of Buildicon’s idyllic families, all non-management: husbands hugging wives, children with perfect white teeth.
Twitter 23: Cork boards are filled with exotic faraway images of Modesto, Fresno, Van Nuys and California City–the desert town that never grows.
Twitter 24: Desk cities: Kleenex boxes, staplers, tape holders; endless stacks of paper dotted in red ink. Burger King toys that can light up and spin.
Twitter 25: At my desk now thinking about Frederick Taylor. He’s the bastard from yesteryear who was so efficient with his hard-on for time management.
Twitter 26: How much time did he waste picking up shovels? The average Joe will always find a way to dig a hole and dog work at the same time.
Twitter 27: It’s what all of us clock watchers do. We are humans and not automatons. I sigh. It’s another day at the office.
Twitter 28: So I just wrote an email to Mulani. I realize she hasn’t been efficient in relationship with her asshole husband. Note: look up fungible.
Twitter 29: He’s a semi-pro soccer player who just spent more than a year overseas screwing God knows how many South American prostitutes and bimbos.
Twitter 30: You’d think missing the birth of his kid would’ve pissed off Mulani. Or his lack of phone calls…
Twitter 31: Or his once-in-a-blue moon insincere jests of marital love (just after brothel moments). A clear indication of an inefficient marriage.
Twitter 32: There’s so much more. But my point? You’re right. There’s no efficiency anywhere. So I spilled my guts in an erroneous work-related email:
Twitter 33: “I guess there’s always some idiot Jodie Foster around who develops feelings for the monster, knowing full well the man ate brains.”
Twitter 34: Pondering: If sex were efficient it would take two seconds. We would all be monkeys, humping, then eating leaves and worms and lazing about.
Twitter 35: So Mulani took it from me for hours in our three, count them, three non-work related escapades. Efficient? No. Time consuming. Yes.
Twitter 36: Taking a break that’s supposed to only last an hour and coming back sweaty, smelling like your sexy workmate, that’s an efficiency problem.
Twitter 37: I compromised my integrity. I hoped she’d say, “I’m leaving him. I love you,” then hold my hand and see the great waterfalls of the world.
Twitter 38: That’s the web of adultery: inefficient babbling of one gorilla to another while pumping on an ass, eating leaves. I’d make a great monkey.
Twitter 39: When people are at work, do they think about work, or are they thinking about sex, blowjobs, touching, caressing, lunch-time shenanigans?
Twitter 40: Lollipops are the oral dose of sexcapade medicine that’s legal in the workplace. I’ll take a red one.
Twitter 41: Why does the company secretary keep a copious supply of lollipops on her desk? Company prez says, “I need a form.” She licks her lips. They’re doing it.
Twitter 42: And so the candy, the lollipops, they keep workers working along with their abstract naughty thoughts. Enough. I have to go to a meeting.
Twitter 43: Of the eight people in the meeting room who appear to be in a state of cryogenics, three of us seem worse off than the rest.
Twitter 44: Vishnu rolls his eyes as if slowly awakening from a month of freezing-tube paralysis. There’s no hope for him.
Twitter 45: His karmic voyage to a land of the sleep gives him a strangely peaceful look as if he’s an all-wise-half-listening webmaster from New Delhi.
Twitter 46: I glance at my watch. He’s at least thirty minutes from point of consciousness.
Twitter 47: Mulani is half-Chinese, a valley girl all the way with her pigtails and bubblegum chewing. She’s lost to the marketing manager’s monologue.
Twitter 48: In her wide-eyed state she concocts a plan to make it with Michael Jordan. She’s knows kissing me put her at only 2.5 degrees of separation.
Twitter 49: How do you break into ‘no’ degrees of separation? I wonder with her. At least we’re brainstorming. “He’s old,” I said at lunch yesterday.
Twitter 50: She set me straight, said Joan, our project coordinator, is in lust with Sean Connery. “And he’s at least three times Michael Jordan’s age.”
Twitter 51: Is my heart rate in the low 30s? As our marketing manager “Blahs” I think about the Giant Root Borer, the largest beetle north of Mexico.
Twitter 52: Our marketing manager’s name is Milt Butterlink. He’s the proud corporate embodiment of a big dumb B-movie monster bug.
Twitter 53: Never before has such a re-animated corporate dialogue risen from such a cramped meeting room insectoid. He is what Buildicon emulates.
Twitter 54: Milt Butterlink: As I fall asleep, this is the man who has prepared pages of notes simply to unravel the mystery of the color orange.
Twitter 55: “Team, we’ll get a new color though I know you’re attached to your tangerine polos. Orange is an out-of-fashion corporate-color faux paus.”
Twitter 56: Milt Butterlink begins to look more wooden, like a stick bug. Like five stick bugs all wrapped into one, with large pinecone hands.
Twitter 57: He’s got big grey eyes and large lips; his cheeks puff out above a weedy sidewalk of chest hair that springs up through his v-neck.
Twitter 58: His hands don’t look like flesh at all but dry and wood-like, as if unfinished, stuck onto his body: lost boy bug monster.
Twitter 59: God only knows what he does with those hands in the Greenhorn Mountains, where he commutes from everyday and lives with his wife and two small children.
Twitter 60: He’s probably digging a tunnel to nowhere with those bare wooden hands like shovels. Very time efficient. Very Frederick Taylor.
Twitter 61: Today Milt passes out another document. In case you didn’t know, he’s the one who puts us in our cryogenic state every Tuesday.
Twitter 62: There are always two boxes of donuts that we inject straight into our bloodstream so we can crash at just the right moment of diatribe.
Twitter 63: I imagine myself in the middle of the conference room table–the donut my life preserver. A current of normalcy pulls me out of the room.
Twitter 64: I wash ashore where marketing is of the cowboy and jeans ‘no bullshit’ variety. Mulani senses my imagination and showers me with smiles.
Twitter 65: Back to semi-reality, Milt pushes papers in front of us. Always scheduled at 11 a.m., our weekly meetings never start until lunchtime. Why?
Twitter 66: Reason No. 1: Milt sends an email to the entire marketing department at 11:19 a.m. stating, “I want you all to be freakin’ superstars.”
Twitter 67: Reason No. 2: Meeting has been delayed because he needs to discuss, er, micro-manage magazine ad designs with me, Joan and Mike Neversmith.
Twitter 68: Why is it important to tell you? Because this happens every day, five days a week, blah blah weeks per year. Every single grey cubicle day.
Twitter 69: Milt Butterlink is always second-guessing himself, his intentions, his copywriting, his morning coffee flavor, but not always in that order.
Twitter 70: I imagine a small place in a bug colony. Milt, with no feelers would try to lead us to the productivity room. We’d end up eaten by birds.
Twitter 71: Milt only uses ideas he steals for his own. He passes those straight on to the company president. That would be the enterprise level.
Twitter 72: Milt’s Document: “Caterpillar Marketing Plan: Budget and Style for Buildicon’s Gadgetary Future.” He has an excitable look on his face.
Twitter 73: It’s an energy no one in the room draws from. His eyes twinkle with nonsense as he leans in to let us know he is working on a major project.
Twitter 74: “This is the most important document to come out of Buildicon. Any leak, our competitors could destroy what is noble and true about us.”
Twitter 75: I look at the document. It’s gobbledy-gook can’t be interpreted. I suddenly imagine caterpillars crawling out of Milt’s ears.
Twitter 76: I sketch an image I know he thinks are notes. If I can stay awake long enough to finish I might put it in a frame and hang it above my desk.
Twitter 77: “Is this a marketing plan that crawls all over you?” whispers Joan. It could be a real insecticon buildicon modicon. I keep drawing.
Twitter 78: “Ha! You guys are all geniuses and yet you’re not getting the picture. I don’t mean caterpillar in the insect sense of the word,” says Milt.
Twitter 79: He thinks we’re all idiots because we didn’t attend NYU or have lunch at the World Trade Center before it blew up.
Twitter 80: “They’re not cultured,” he says to the prez behind our backs. “They’re small timey, loosey goosey and flashy pants non-extraordinaire.”
Twitter 81: He just wants us to be freakin’ superstars like him. This man who supposedly once made chocolate macaroons with the likes of Bo Derek…
Twitter 82: This man who claims to have single-handedly invented all Adobe products, and who once walked on the moon in a G-string Soviet flag.
Twitter 83: Milt: “What I want to tell you is we are like tractors. We’re not bugs. Everyone here plays a vital role in unearthing our marketing core.”
Twitter 84: All I can gather is I’m some kind of marketing backhoe operator and I need a hard hat to withstand Milt’s dense communication methods.
Twitter 85: I’m starting to lose consciousness again. Vishnu looks fish-like. His eyes roll and bulge. The gills I imagine on his neck twitch and gasp.
Twitter 86: Milt: “Let’s get to advertising.” Micromanaging his creative team means we don’t create a piss in the toilet. He doesn’t realize this…
Twitter 87: So he begins to criticize his own advertising tag lines, “I want you all to know that too many catch phrases can make you sound like a real trinkydink kind of a company.”
Twitter 88: I write furiously in my notepad. I’ve been putting together a book of senseless micromanager quotes and Milt has just laid a doozy on me.
Twitter 89: It’s right up there in the cloudy angelic fields of marketing nomenclature: “A trinkydink kind of a company.” I’m almost jealous.
Twitter 90: Guy: hair stands on end, metal glasses on a long pale nose, faded Hawaiian shirt and book, “Massage Mataphysics” tucked under scrawny arm.
Twitter 91: He follows me. I get a hot dog and he’s reading that book. I’m in a cafe looking for a muffin with more than two blueberries. He’s there.
Twitter 92: The next day I see him just as the Winona Ryder look-a-like girl behind the coffee counter says: “My boyfriend has a catheter.”
Twitter 93: She continues: “It’s a skateboard injury. The skateboard stood straight up on him in the half-pipe and he injured his dick. Want the usual?”
Twitter 94: I grimace and notice Kramer reading the same book and finally realize he works less than I do. He must be an extraordinarily agile downtown business escape artist. How can I get away with more?
Twitter 95: I want to become efficient as such an expert corporate Houdini. Alakazam! Alavamooshka!
Twitter 96: I can’t get away from time: 8-hour day, 1-hour lunch, two 10-minute breaks, boss comes in at eight, I come in at seven. I’m a bug. Stomp me.
Twitter 97: Second day in a row: “…catch phrases make for a real trinkydink kind…,” Milt’s glazed eyes stare wide-eyed at a sleepy marketing group.
Twitter 98: His dark brown hair is a mess. He’s wearing yesterday’s Benetton sweater with multi-oranges, greens, blues, purples. A dull Japanese beetle.
Twitter 99: His lips are swollen, while his cheeks puff out, boyish, chipmunky. They’re reddened because he slept outside his mountain cabin.
Twitter 100: Milt attempts to write copy. The ad design shows a metallic gizmo with Ethernet cables like tentacles: “Your Autolink Connection Solution.”
Twitter 101: He’s re-written the ad copy five times. Each revision is as though he hasn’t written the previous copy. Does he think we wrote it?? Nuts.
Twitter 102: Maybe he imagines we’re mutinous trinkydink catchphrase sailors. I can see the grimace on Mike’s face as Milt sits behind him and banters.
Twitter 103: “OK Mike, let’s look at this really super cool design. I mean, you’re really a genius. This is what we need! It’s what I was thinking!”
Twitter 104: Two seconds later: “Let me show you what I would do. I mean, this is a little too goo gah. You should have caught this bad vibe idea.”
Twitter 105: “Well yeah, we could use a little less of the trinky and the dinky,” Mike grimaces, realizing he doesn’t understand his own words.
Twitter 106: Milt nods in agreement as if Mike finally understands the manager’s enlightened marketing lingo. “Exactly. So make the changes,” Milt says.
Twitter 107: I’m bored with the nonsense of micromanagement and wander to the bathroom to wash my face. I wonder: Is this everyone’s mad corporate dream?
Twitter 108: Just as I demand to the mirror that I wake up, the bathroom door opens. It’s Glen from Tech Support. “Fancy meeting you here,” he says.
Twitter 109: “You know, it’s funny how you can only take so much of work before you have to get up from your desk and attempt to piss it away,” he adds.
Twitter 110: Mike stares into an outdated MAC G3. He downloads a Prince tune because we think a boyish secretary looks like she starred in “Purple Rain.”
Twitter 111: Our desks share the opposite walls of a low-wall cubicle. We can see each other working. This is the part of the ant colony where the mandibles are made out of NERF.
Twitter 112: Mike’s got a contract the rest of us don’t have, making him immune from the daily grind. Truth? He never has to attend marketing meetings.
Twitter 113: Jealousy: Mike’s strange anti-meeting immunity idol that he wears around his neck. It’s a secret “Survivor” clause he can’t talk about.
Twitter 114: That doesn’t stop me from harassing him each day. And it doesn’t keep him from showing off his imaginary idol and thumbing his nose at me.
Twitter 115: He pretends to take it off and wave it at me. I think hateful thoughts. He grins. Would he eat rat poop on “Survivor”? Of course he would.
Twitter 116: I’ve been here six months. I do nothing. It comes down to setting the mood. Ask yourself: “What can I do my first three weeks on the job?”
Twitter 117: I brought four axioms for a better work environment and for better all-around ‘inefficiency’ when I first arrived at Buildicon.
Twitter 118: Write these down, but not necessarily in this order. No sticky notes please.
Twitter 119: 1) How to increase sexual tension in the workplace. 2) How to woo the corporate crowd with a tasty salsa. 3) How to have fun at work and not feel guilty about it. 4) The ‘three week’ rule.
Twitter 120: Number four: Fake incredible work ethic. Act busy even if paying bills online. Company prez should see you stay five minutes extra each day.
Twitter 121: Number three: Laugh. It makes people think twice about your state of mind. Believe me, work laughter is impossible to achieve for most.
Twitter 122: I’ll get back to number two. Number one occurs with relative ease and is contrary to every corporate code ever written in the post “me” age.
Twitter 123: The idea is nothing is serious. So statements become flirty, bombastic, sexy, overly offensive, sexually humorous, odd-gestured signals.
Twitter 124: Mulani pretends to be a victim, though really she is just as strange as Mike and I when it comes to increasing sexual tension at work.
Twitter 125: Example: Mulani walks up to Mike’s desk: “Can I see the report?” Mike: “Not sure I wanna share unless you’re blindfolded.” Mulani: “OK.”
Twitter 126: And then she rolls her eyes right after licking her lipsticky red lips and walks back to her office. It’s an hourly routine. So we cope.
Twitter 127: Example: Mike: “Got the plotter to work. Says it needed less suckage.” I reply: “Who would have thought anything would need less suckage?”
Twitter 128: Mulani and Joan both roll their eyes and tell us we’re sick. Truth? They would be bored if it weren’t for our sexual tension statements.
Twitter 129: Same phrase by Doug in shipping? Forget it. Mulani prefers jokes from non-creepy guys. Besides, these are matter-of-fact axioms to live by.
Twitter 130: Back to number two. Early on at Buildicon, Mike said: “You’ve only worked a week and you’re already stinking up the office with that salsa!”
Twitter 131: It’s such moments where I’m most calm. I stood next to a big bowl of my salsa. I calmly handed Mike a tortilla chip. He raised an eyebrow.
Twitter 132: Mulani then stepped from her office. Two eyebrows went up as Mike dipped. He took a bite. He chewed. He double-dipped and that was that.
Twitter 133: Mulani smiled as she tasted the salsa. Soon afterward I couldn’t keep middle management fingers from greedily grabbing food from my desk.
Twitter 134: Everyone stopped by but the corporate prez. He’s kind of like one of those weird beasts in Star Wars than can’t be swayed by the Force.
Twitter 135: This Force was a salsa I swore, “I will never share such a guarded secret with others.” Ten days later I posted the recipe on willieboy.com.
Twitter 136: By the way, in regards to the fourth workplace axiom, after three weeks of exceptional behavior, slack to your heart’s content.
Twitter 137: I buy an ant farm and name all the ants inside after me. I call them my collective consciousness. They’re all named Willie. I talk to them.
Twitter 138: I take the ant farm to a coffeehouse. I get a mocha, smile at the ants, read the paper and feel like God spinning planets on his fingertips.
Twitter 139: What else can I do but bring the ant farm to work? Workers come, stare into the little cubicles of sand. They wander off. I feel giantish.
Twitter 140: Soon I come to work and the ant farm is filled with water. The ants float hopelessly, lifeless. Milt walks by, winks. I stop bringing salsa.
Twitter 141: Milt is in his Benetton sweater attire, probably bought at the Cusack Movie Collection auction from High Fidelity. He oozes seedy Hollywood.
Twitter 142: He declares himself a big fan of Japanese samurai movies. He currently reads, “Samurai Stories and Other Decapitation Romances.” I hate him.
Twitter 143: Most jobs are about nothing. The corporate world is no savior from that. I mean, what are we but a slowly drowning ant farm, anyway?
Twitter 144: I have a college degree, a marketing background that you can’t laugh too hard at. But I make a mere 34K per year. I don’t even have a car.
Twitter 145: I don’t make as much as my cab-driving father did back in the 1970s. He didn’t have a degree. So where’s the money? At Buildicon?
Twitter 146: Not in this job where ant killer Milt Butterlink gets 110,000 clamshells per year. Now I think I need to explain my take on advertising…
Twitter 147: Advertising. It’s what fills sports stadiums, magazines, computer games, TV shows about nothing. It’s a numbing new take on dish soap.
Twitter 148: Can you feel orgasmic about advertising? Sure you can. It gets ladies and gents to wash in adorable new ways and makes you coo and googoo.
Twitter 149: It’s about interactive thinking. We need subliminal Buildicon messages that spin heads like soap bubble carousels in mindless playability.
Twitter 150: Ad creation takes enlightenment about the corporate world. A true mystery, yes.
Twitter 151: I work in a corporate world where everyone thinks I’m weird. No mystery there. Though I don’t think my dead ants thought I was weird.
Twitter 152: Milt wants me to think up an ad concept for Buildicon’s wireless recordable transmitter devices. It’s for industrial data, like evil robots.
Twitter 153: I’ll think up copy for an ad, sure. This industry is so C3PO. We help protocols speak to each other. He was a protocol droid. We translate.
Twitter 154: We can buildicon that gizmo. We can help protocols speak to one another. Only, like C3PO, I can’t help but feel impending doom when I think.
Twitter 155: The day I saw boxes filled with pink sponge packaging I stared in wonder at the little rectangles. Here was my temporary answer to fun.
Twitter 156: Most corporate folk consider ‘fun’ a ludicrous non-serious detrimental work behavior. Creative marketing people are freaks who live for fun.
Twitter 157: Fun: more than just ball-game beer. Sorry to offend you simpletons. Fun is a complex process often meaning hyperfocusing on the mundane.
Twitter 158: There is something inherently appealing in a block of pink sponge. In and of itself it has no real value other than as a packaging product.
Twitter 159: You stuff them into empty spaces in boxes. They fill voids. Yet I see living shapes. I decide the sponge rectangles will make nice puppets.
Twitter 160: I suddenly want to create diorama of pink packaging corporate puppets, not merely for my entertainment, but for all bored Buildicon workers.
Twitter 161: What do you think if you see pink packaging sponges with faces: felt-pen grins of asinine pondering and surreal cartoonland pontifications?
Twitter 162: Mike and I design a character in this pink sponge puppet named Blockhead Joe. Much of his story is simple. He marries Airhead Pam.
Twitter 163: Blockhead Joe and Airhead Pam have a grand wedding. They appear on a sitcom. He cheats on her. She cheats on him. They have baby larvae.
Twitter 164: We put up a ‘Free Larvae’ sign. They’re made out of packaging popcorn. We draw faces on them so each one is unique.
Twitter 165: Glen quits his job in Tech Support and takes his larvae to Mississippi. I soon get an email: “We’re here!” I never hear from him again.
Twitter 166: Airhead Pam gets murdered. Some of the larvae turn into spawnlings that are Styrofoam, half sponge. Blockhead Joe gets framed.
Twitter 167: Blockhead Joe gets kidnapped. The ransom is twenty bucks. Body parts begin to arrive. How do I get away with this you might ask?
Twitter 168: I have no idea how I get away with this sponge show other than the four workplace axioms I defined earlier. I’ll do some real work tomorrow.
Twitter 169: 2 am: I dream about my dead ant farm. I am inside it, lost. There are no ants to show me the way, only plastic walls and hulks of dead ants.
Twitter 170: I split open a dead dried ant and make a sort of shaman costume that I wear while I explore. I commune with their dead consciousness.
Twitter 171: I find a room with ant eggs stuck to the walls and ceiling. One is cracked open. Black lifeless eyes stare out at me. I am them.
Twitter 172: In my shaman ant dream I grow thirsty. I use two broken antenna as divining rods. I dig and water springs out. I wake up having wet the bed.
Twitter 173: Milt’s eyeballs are nearly touching the new ant farm I bring to work. “Where are the ants?” he asks. “I just mail-ordered them,” I say.
Twitter 174: He seems more impatient than me about the ants arrival: “When will they come?” Me: “Any second now.” Milt stares for minutes on end.
Twitter 175: I finally get the ants and dump them into the ant farm. They spread throughout like they’d just been on vacation and start digging tunnels.
Twitter 176: I watch the ants watch me. I think they can see me. They gather at the plastic walls. No wait. It’s the dead fly I put in there. Never mind.
Twitter 177: After lunch I see the ant farm is a complete wreck. All the sand walls have collapsed. There’s no movement. A Post-It reads: “Earthquake.”
Twitter 178: Milt walks by. He doesn’t look at me but snickers to himself. I follow him to the bathroom where I can hear him laughing insanely.
Twitter 179: Today is like yesterday only worse. I walk up to Buildicon where a bum pisses on a tire in the parking garage. Thank God I don’t have a car.
Twitter 180: I say: “Don’t you have a goddam outhouse? Or a newspaper? Or a friend to piss on? Cause you’re pissing me off!” He laughs in my direction.
Twitter 181: I snap out of it as Buildicon’s self-imposed beauty queen, Kira de Frito passes by. She builds spreadsheets that Mulani has to fix.
Twitter 182: She talks to Brazilian product buyers, perhaps about lingerie. She’s the Wicked Witch of the West Indies, kind of dark, with a hook nose.
Twitter 183: Kira de Frito slinks by in a jaguar of an outfit, very catlike, with tight black pants and cleavage you could put a pineapple platter on.
Twitter 184: By the copier Mulani tells me about Kira de Frito’s crisis: “I will not suffer this one alone. She has to dance for her husband.” Me: “No!”
Twitter 185: Me: “He can’t?” Mulani: “Nope.” Me: “So she dances a jig each night before they salsa?” Mulani: “Every night.” Me: “Horrible!”
Twitter 186: I mean, don’t get me wrong. Shake it don’t break it. “But that’s not all of it,” Mulani says. I run the copier again to buy more time.
Twitter 187: Mulani: “She’s only clothed from the waist up, a corset.” Me: “Right now?” I look. “No, you idiot. When they, you know,” Mulani says.
Twitter 188: As I sit down at my desk I suddenly realize that if Buildicon is the social heart of Americana I’d rather be in Brazil with Kira de Frito.
Twitter 189: I want to be carrying around platters of pineapples, wear an oversized cabana shirt, and see Kira scream “Carnival!” in her coconut bikini.
Twitter 190: I’d rather it be Mulani than Kira de Frito. Let’s eat, let’s dance, let’s get away from the color grey in a seaside town filled with color.
Twitter 191: Except there will be copacabana boys by the hundreds. I can’t bear the thought of losing Mulani to a pineapple plate distributor.
Twitter 192: “Ay!” I yell. “Is there no justice?” Mike looks at me. I don’t think he cares that I yelled. He’s busy designing a robotic ad for Buildicon.
Twitter 193: Me: “Do we have to sing a musical?” Mike: “Yes. Can we make one up?” Me: “Of course. I don’t know any actual words or tunes. Do you?”
Twitter 194: Mike realizes he doesn’t know any musicals either, but we sing. He leads. Next door is the president’s office. He doesn’t say a word.
Twitter 195: He knows we’re crazy. He’s also happy because I know Margo in Orders just intercepted a fax that he paid $300,000 for a turbo prop.
Twitter 196: And that’s OK, except now he’s wearing goggles to work. He’s happy we’re bringing life to the land of grey. But now I call him captain.
Twitter 197: Up walks Kira de Frito. Dear me, did I forget to mention that she has a birthmark on her forehead? She’s got that look in her eye again.
Twitter 198: “You do not like me,” Kira says. I say in reference to her birthmark: “You’re so retro Gorbachev.” She doesn’t get it.
Twitter 199: We battle with questions: “What did I ever do?” “You didn’t like the song?” “Why are you so angry?” “Are you not a fan of musicals, Kira?”
Twitter 200: Kira de Frito once starred in a Brazilian novella. I never acknowledge her stardom. So she’s overly sensitive. She bolts into Milt’s office.
Twitter 201: “What’s up with the colorful new ads?” I say to Mike. “It’s like robots in dance gear.” Mike: “It’s our new look and feel.” Me: “Rainbows?”
Twitter 202: Mike imitates Milt Butterlink: “Make Buildicon recognizable with color.” He adds, “Milt can’t choose one color so he goes with them all.”
Twitter 203: Milt’s door opens and out pops Kira de Frito. She bolts for her cubicle. “What’s up her pineapple?” Mike says.
Twitter 204: I ask: “Does anybody know Vishnu’s real name?” Mike: “I think it’s Sam Vishnukuku.” “Oh come on,” I say.
Twitter 205: “Seriously. Check him out. He seems to go into hibernation at his desk. You think he’s sleeping but he’s not. Not at all. It’s perplexing.”
Twitter 206: Vishnu sits in near slumber. His screen changes. Updates are made, download buttons are created, links form. His lids are half-closed.
Twitter 207: I can hear the mouse click, but Vishnu doesn’t change position. His hand never seems to move. I swear his body is about to levitate.
Twitter 208: Vishnu is from New Delhi, a city not filled with elephant tusks or nectar water torture. It’s as advanced as the rest of the Free World.
Twitter 209: He sits at his Web post like a guardian to a realm of many-armed gods and says, “You think I am sleeping but I am not. What’s your problem?”
Twitter 210: “I have no problem, Vish.” “Yes, you are staring.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “You are staring at me because I’m Indian.”
Twitter 211: “I would never. I just know you’re the new guy and wanted to say hi, Vish,” I say. Vishnu: “I’ve been here four months.”
Twitter 212: He sits like the same preying mantis near my kitchen window. I can’t ever tell that it moves, that it eats. I can’t even see it blink.
Twitter 213: Every once in a while I notice in the small places of my house where there used to be spiders are now broken webs picked clean.
Twitter 214: “I just kind of wondered,” I say. “Wondered what??” Vishnu sits up. His eyes are now wide. “Are you wondering the mysteries of the Web?”
Twitter 215: Vish: “Afraid customers aren’t going to partake of the Buildicon web portal?” “Nothing of the sort!” I say. “Do you hate New Delhi?” he adds.
Twitter 216: “Let me tell you the streets are like gold. There are no huts, no barbarians, no Mother Theresa action figures, no cow trolleys…
Twitter 217: “We have temples for old and new religions. We have Sikh temples that sparkle with white lights and Hindu temples like mountains in the sky!
Twitter 218: “We have an ancient red fort and much newer lotus temple that glows like a candlelit blossom on a serene body of water…
Twitter 219: “That is New Delhi. It is a place of ancient wonder. We even have McDonalds,” Vishnu says. I am in awe of his city. He is in awe of the Web.
Twitter 220: He humbly accepts his Web pages as his creations, his work in the corporate sphere. I can see that. I extend an olive branch.
Twitter 221: “Hey Vish, some of us are going to a bar tonight to shoot some pool. I thought you’d want to go.” “Really?” he says. “You’d fit in,” I say.
Twitter 222: There are now two preying mantis. They’re statues, pale green, eyes like opals, with arms tucked in quiet worship of walls and windows.
Twitter 223: I’m fascinated with their bug world. They seem to silently socialize as if my entire living room were a lawn filled with infinite dreams.
Twitter 224: It’s not that I always take time to think about little things. But adults no longer fascinated about small places in life tend to bore me.
Twitter 225: I imagine the smallest boxing match in the world. The darker mantis knocks the block off its pale friend. They both wear tiny boxing gloves.
Twitter 226: At the bar Vishnu sinks the 8-ball before any of us get a chance to shoot. Mulani pouts, sticks out her bottom lip: “I didn’t get a turn.”
Twitter 227: “You’re a baby. It’s beginner’s luck,” I say. I turn to Vishnu. “You hung out in what place in New Delhi?” “The Punjab Potato,” he says.
Twitter 228: “It’s a drink,” Vishnu says. I grimace. “The world is full of many things. One experience is but a doorway to another,” he says.
Twitter 229: Mike: “I hate to be a ball breaker, but we do have a game to play. Break!” he yells and starts a new game. I have another agenda on my mind.
Twitter 230: “Joan’s off the deep end,” I say. “No!” Mike feigns surprise. “She’s near meltdown,” I add. Mike waves his hands, pretends to care: “Oooo.”
Twitter 231: Mulani nods: “It’s Milt.” Me: “If he didn’t steal ideas, berate everyone and generally not let us do our jobs, maybe he would be likeable.”
Twitter 232: Mike: “Managers like Milt aren’t supposed to be likeable.” Mulani: “Well Joan says she’s calling in fifth-column action to see he gets his.”
Twitter 233: Mulani continues: “Well that’s what she said when she was cursing like a sailor in the parking garage.” OK, I’m curious: “What did she say?”
Twitter 234: Mulani: “She said, ‘That SOB is messing with the wrong bitch if he thinks I’m taking the fall again for his boyish grasp on the department!”
Twitter 235: Several tables stop playing pool to stare at Mulani yelling. She smiles back innocently: “Well that’s what she said!” She loves to curse.
Twitter 236: “She’s right. The guy is like some kind of psycho babe who’s constantly making false promises about gooey relationships,” Mike says.
Twitter 237: Mulani frowns as I say, “He then forgets all about his kind gestures and goes Devil on our asses and treats ads like bad dates.”
Twitter 238: Mulani growls: “Leave us women out! Milt is just showing poor traits common to many men. He has an unhealthy management-sized dose.”
Twitter 239: Vishnu rolls his eyes. Mulani grins in response. He sizes up the 6-ball, but finally misses a shot. “Ha! Did you see that?” Mike laughs.
Twitter 240: Mike’s had a few too many beers. It shows. “Vish is breakable after all! You shark! You potato drinking pool shark!”
Twitter 241: “Leave sharks out of this game,” Vishnu says. “I am not fond of them or their many teeth.” A shark’s stomach isn’t a small place, I think.
Twitter 242: Joan has glazed-over eyes. They are shiny and bloodshot as she sits in my cubicle and speaks in a whisper. Her hair is a burnt frizz.
Twitter 243: Milt says: “I feel like a freakin’ superstar. But too many tigers in those hoops while you’re jumping can lead to unspeakable things.”
Twitter 244: I write down his axiom. It’s another bad saying for the book of Milt sayings. Joan continues to whisper. I don’t listen. She thinks I am.
Twitter 245: Joan rants: “That &%$#! should be shot! He doesn’t know who he’s dealing with! I will lay down my resignation! He doesn’t know shinola!”
Twitter 246: I can’t understand how someone can purse their lips so much and still be able to form clear sentences. My mind wanders.
Twitter 247: I’m thinking about Mulani. She’s dressed cute. It’s formfitting. She’s formfitting. Her hair is in pigtails. What happened between us?
Twitter 248: Joan paces. Milt’s in his office speaking French to a French marketing contact who looks exactly like Ichabod Crane in a turtleneck squeeze.
Twitter 249: He has a large nose as big as his head, narrow set eyes, and an Adam’s apple that moves like the large glowing ball on Times Square.
Twitter 250: I’m sure Milt and Ichabod are having a lovely discussion about an ad campaign. I laugh because Milt is oblivious to Joan’s ranting.
Twitter 251: Joan disappears down to the parking garage. She smokes two cigarettes, then screams so loud a lady walking to the bank trips over her heels.
Twitter 252: If there’s one thing I learned how about to approach people from my previous jobs: never cross a bulldog. Joan, my friends, is a bulldog.
Twitter 253: How to treat Joan the bulldog: do what she says, pat her and scratch her fur every chance you get. Stay away from her pissing tree.
Twitter 254: Joan is from a working class cowpoke town. She’s the kind of person you just leave alone. That’s what you do with all cowboys actually.
Twitter 255: Apparently, Milt yelled at Joan for missing an ad deadline. Everyone in marketing knows it was MIlt’s fault. Well, except for him.
Twitter 256: A micro-manager like Milt has to see every ad before any can leave the office. Otherwise that’s trouble: my natural state of existence.
Twitter 257: Milt changes all the copy. It goes full circle with graphics too. He’s ignorant that Buildicon ads cost $8,000 to $10,000 each.
Twitter 258: You can see that if we miss a deadline it’s bad even if it is Milt’s fault. I call it displaced blame. Others simply call it “Milt sucks.”
Twitter 259: When I’m at home and the lights are out I stare up at the ceiling imagining pinpricks of light, the small places that represent infinity.
Twitter 260: Get ad copy right, or Joan says it won’t mean shit from shinola. Joan: “You will piss off the entire sales force.” Like I’m scared of them.
Twitter 261: Joan is sort of like a manager. She’s also a trade industry writer, idea woman, trade show aficionado and daughter of a Korean War veteran.
Twitter 262: As the story goes, her father killed off his own captain for sending his platoon on a dead-end run up a Chinese-infested hamburger hill.
Twitter 263: Joan says the story isn’t proven. But one can tell there’s something in her blood that runs wild like her father up that bullet-ridden path.
Twitter 264: I give up on copy for a Buildicon newsletter. I put it down to work on a pop-up pencil holder wireless device mock-up for a possible ad.
Twitter 265: It’s for a big wireless promotion: a life-size pencil holder punch-out. Just color with crayons, fold together, add sand for a stable base.
Twitter 266: Kira passes. I clearly don’t know what I’m doing because I have paper cutouts all over my desk. She flings her hair in my direction.
Twitter 267: I want to say: “It must be easy to know where you’re going when there’s a map on your forehead.” I bite tongue, consult net for paper dolls.
Twitter 268: Fold ‘C’ into slot ‘C’, ‘A’ into slot ‘A’. How can I go wrong? Hell, I designed the slots. It will cost $18,000 to run the ad. No problem.
Twitter 269: And then it falls apart. Every slot rips at once. I’m not a goddam paper house architect. I know this.
Twitter 270: Mulani hangs over me. “Nice,” she mocks. “And you colored in the lines.” Mike shakes his head. “I need a third grader to do it,” I admit.
Twitter 271: I need one sentence approved to finalize this month’s e-newsletter. It’s taken five days to write the stupid sentence. Am I inefficient?
Twitter 272: The problem is, each time I show the sentence to Milt he says the same thing: “It needs some shiny pizzazz. Make it freakin’ Hollywood.”
Twitter 273: This is technical data. I interviewed two product developers and a tech support engineer. It’s not enough. This job is a battle.
Twitter 274: How can Milt expect me to know technical data when I can’t even build a paper version with slots in it? And no, I can’t color in the lines!
Twitter 275: The tech support office is a nerdy war zone with everyone on a headset solving a wireless protocol automation crisis somewhere in the world.
Twitter 276: I feel like Dan Rather trying to get a story. I say: “How does a Radioblast work over Ethernet when running twelve robo-flippers?”
Twitter 277: I’m ignored by the tech nerds. So I determine the only answer I can from the land of high waters: I’ll write the newsletter next month.
Twitter 278: Today I’m at work surfing the Internet. What more can I do to take up boredom than to stream mindless media straight onto my desktop?
Twitter 279: The Drudgereport is scamming there’s been another shark attack. For some reason I think it might be my ex. Worse things have happened.
Twitter 280: I can imagine my ex on Oprah, sobbing, wearing a fake arm that’s Gumby-like and bent to look like she’s the victim of the shark kingdom.
Twitter 281: Ex: “I was paddling, stuck in a half circle, trying to get away. I could see my fingers wiggle as he swallowed.” And then Oprah would cry.
Twitter 282: I’m feeling dysfunctional. It’s a cubicle thing. Confined, I don’t feel like I’m helping the collective. I bring my pet tarantula to work.
Twitter 283: The spider’s name is Ms. Barbarella Big Fangs. She’s hairy. She eats crickets. Milt Butterlink sees her and instantly stops at my desk.
Twitter 284: Milt: “You can’t bring a spider to work.” Me: “It’s not real.” Milt: “It’s real.” Me. “It’s not real.” Milt: “I know it’s real.” Me: “Nope.”
Twitter 285: Milt stares at the spider. It never moves. He waits 10 minutes for it to move. I wait 10 minutes for him to move. It’s a move off. I twitch.
Twitter 286: Milt comes back to my desk eight times. I hand him a completed newsletter that’s a month late. “I’ll look at it next week,” he says.
Twitter 287: “Why is there a live cricket in your spider tank?” Milt asks. Me: “For effect. It helps make the spider look real.”
Twitter 288: The next day the spider tank is on its side. The lid is off. I find Barbarella crawling on Kira de Frito’s chair. I think about leaving it.
Twitter 289: Milt passes my desk. He has welts all over his face and neck like he has just wrestled a snake or giant spider. I take Barbarella home.
Twitter 290: Shark attack on a nearby beach. Some surfer was nearly chewed off his board. I click on the video link and see a chomped on surfboard.
Twitter 291: “Yeah broh, I was hangin’ it goofy foot by the pier. Shark thought I was seal bait. But I looked into his eyes, and like, whoah, you know?”
Twitter 292: The closest beach is two hours away from this smoggy valley. The water is cold, the jellyfish are as big as people and the ocean is murky.
Twitter 293: I need a road trip with my office pals. I imagine Vishnu has an inflatable tube, Mulani in a bikini and Mike with a splatter of nose lotion.
Twitter 294: I begin to imagine Mulani blowing me kisses, sharing a beach towel, when I notice Kira de Frito standing in my personal cubicle space.
Twitter 295: Kira: “I need a projecta requesta.” Her Brazilian accent is extremely horrible today, more so than usual. Her breath is no rain forest.
Twitter 296: Me: “You have a project?” Kira: “I believe so, jes.” Me: “You believe so? OK.” And then she just stands there. Is she hypnotized? By what?
Twitter 297: I pray to God I don’t have something hanging from my nose like Milt Buttlerlink always does. Me: “Kira?” “Jes?” she says.
Twitter 298: Me: “Kira? I can’t read your mind.” Although I am beginning to think I can see the shape of it outlined by the birthmark on her forehead.
Twitter 299: “I need…” Kira de Frito says. I form words as if speaking for her. I do the eternal slow nod as if to pull words from her lips.
Twitter 300: Kira: “a…” I speak slow as if to help: “A… what?” But that does no good. She suddenly bolts to Milt’s office and slams the door.
Twitter 301: Mike: “What do you think they talk about every time she runs in there?” Me: “Maybe she can’t form complete sentences in there either.”
Twitter 302: Vishnu walks up and looks at Milt’s closed door. “Who’s in there?” he says. Mike and I: “Kira de Frito.” Vishnu: “Why?” Me: “We don’t know.”
Twitter 303: And so this is the corporate world: incomplete sentences, mass miscommunication, closed-door meaningless meetings. I need a road trip.
Twitter 304: Vishnu: “Ahh. I need a graphic for our new website that never launches.” I feel put out. Can’t he see I’m surfing the Web and chatting?
Twitter 305: Along with Buildicon’s old website, Vishnu works on a new company website that was supposed to be launched a year ago.
Twitter 306: It’s like the space shuttle. Every time they think they find a loose tile, the launch date is scrubbed for six months in order to procrastinate.
Twitter 307: By the time we launch the new site, Buildicon will be ready for a new design on top of the old design and the new design. Vishnu stares.
Twitter 308: In the meantime, Vishnu does double work maintaining both the old website and the new website that is never launched. His eyes slowly cross.
Twitter 309: Me: “Say, Vish. What do you think about a beach trip?” He gets nervous: “Did you not hear? Shark attack.” Go figure. He’s a web news junky.
Twitter 310: “They’re not going to jump on the beach and bite you.” Vishnu: “Oh no? I cannot place myself in the path of certain death.” Me: “Come on!”
Twitter 311: Vishnu: “I have seen Luke Skywalker and his war of stars. The dark side can rear its head any time to bite off the hand of the unsuspecting.”
Twitter 312: “Did someone say beach trip?” Mulani says. She must already have bags packed somewhere. “Yeah you can bring your husband.” I cross the line.
Twitter 313: Mulani is quicker than me: “Oh who needs that bimbo. He’s in South America. Besides. I need some fun in the sun with my favorite boys.”
Twitter 314: Just then we realize that Kira de Frito has been standing in the cubicle. We don’t know how long. Her birthmark looks like seagull splatter.
Twitter 315: I give Kira a slow nod as if I’m communicating with an extraterrestrial. She looks like she’s about to cry and bolts into a sea of cubicles.
Twitter 316: Mulani: “Maybe we should invite her.” Me: “I thought shark attacks were terrifying.” Just then Milt passes. He trips on the carpet. Karma.
Twitter 317: The blue-green ocean off the California coast plays like a magical song, beckoning Vishnu. It reflects deep azure in his eyes.
Twitter 318: There is a boyish glow that builds until he suddenly screams joyously from the back of the car: “Ocean! Ocean! Ocean! Ocean!”
Twitter319: If there is a time that Webmaster meets spirituality in nature, this is the mystical moment. Sadly, there is no mouse for Vishnu to click.
Twitter 320: Near the pier there’s a shop that makes the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever tasted. The aroma fills the street as we park.
Twitter 321: The aroma inside is perfectly overwhelming. “Four please,” I say. Four rolls are placed on plates. Icing is then smeared across the tops.
Twitter 322: “Let the angels dip their heavenly wings in sugar and fat,” Mike says. Vishnu: “What are cinnamon rolls?” I set one in front of him.
Twitter 323: “Ah, a pastry treat,” Vishnu says. He smiles big as he takes his first bite. Suddenly he looks like he’s about to tell a wondrous story.
Twitter 324: Vishnu: “We have such delicacies in India. Picture a soft midnight sky. You’re under the most majestic festival lights wrapped in goodness.
Twitter 325: “People from your city, your family, your neighborhood and outlying villages celebrate this festival for 5,000 years.
Twitter 326: “Customs are as ancient as the streets and air. All around you are lights and smiles. There are great temples and wide festival streets.
Twitter 327: “You stop for a pastry delicacy smothered in cheese. The ancients walked the same road, ate the same food, prepared in exactly the same way.
Twitter 328: “You see, a roll is not just a roll. It is a cultural artifact constantly remade in the likeness of its former self.
Twitter 329: “Every day they are reborn and you can have another. Time overlaps. This is the enlightenment of the roll,” Vishnu says. Mike doesn’t get it.
Twitter 330: On the pier I have a moment alone with Mulani. Far below we can see Vishnu and Mike tossing a Frisbee across the sand.
Twitter 331: Each dives over sea kelp and jellyfish carcasses to catch passes. Occasionally Mulani waves down to them while we walk.
Twitter 332: She leans over the pier railing. Her skin is dark. There is a shine to it in the hot sun and I suddenly want to hold her.
Twitter 333: I want to touch her shoulder, wrap myself around her waist and feel her lips. She turns and looks into my eyes. She gazes and starts smiling.
Twitter 334: Mulani turns and looks over the sand and sea. “China is so far away,” she says. “Are you the kind of person who would take me there?”
Twitter 335: I don’t have to think about this: “Sure. Why wouldn’t I?” Mulani: “There are things I need to do and see but I’m afraid.” Me: “I know.”
Twitter 336: Down below, a few large waves roll across the surf. I sneak closer. I want to put my arms around her waist. She can sense it too.
Twitter 337: “Tell me what you’re feeling,” she says. It’s as if she knows what I’m feeling–that I can’t shake her, or this, or anything about her.
Twitter 338: I’m about to answer when my eyes move from Mulani down below to Vishnu who just dropped the Frisbee. He points to the ocean.
Twitter 339: If I had watched Mulani I would have seen something in her eyes just then I had never seen: the same adoration I feel for her perhaps?
Twitter 340: She wrinkles her brow in confusion. My hands never quite reach her waist as I suddenly turn and run down the pier.
Twitter 341: Two porpoise leap and make their way along the coastline. I know what Vishnu is thinking. The dolt thinks he sees sharks.
Twitter 342: Vishnu’s hands are up by his face in disbelief. He screams and runs, falls, gets up, screams and runs then repeats the process once more.
Twitter 343: Mike simply throws his arms in the air. He walks around clumsily on the sand for a few moments, then picks up some seaweed.
Twitter 344: Suddenly Mike starts screaming as if he’s seen some kind of sea creature more frightening than the sharks in Vishnu’s imagination.
Twitter 345: Mocking Vishnu, Mike covers his chest with his hands and falls to the ground pretending to die. He convulses. He kicks his legs out.
Twitter 346: A couple of kids walk up and kick sand on him then take his Frisbee and run.
Twitter 347: Mulani passes me. She’s a faster runner, more athletic than I ever knew. I get winded in the sand and have to stop. I’m a failure at rescue.
Twitter 348: I never should have watched Baywatch. They were out of my league all along. I gasp while Mulani comforts Vishnu with kisses and hugs.
Twitter 349: I put my hands on my knees as Mike comes stumbling, pretending he’s mental with the whole episode. For some reason he’s a natural.
Twitter 350: Mike: “I murder little kids for Frisbee. Now I go to car and we go back to institution.” Like an insane man he stumbles across the sand.
Twitter 351: Lying on the sand in the dark I feel like Buildicon’s cubicles have been lifted from around me. I imagine them shooting into the heavens.
Twitter 352: I look up, play dot to dot, connect unseen lines into Mulani’s shape. She’s about to wad the moon like paper from Buildicon’s faulty printer.
Twitter 353: Not too far away there’s a fire in the sand. Mike is building it. Sparks fly. Vishnu is drinking heavily. Mulani is humming quietly.
Twitter 354: I suddenly feel small again. I’m the ant shaman in the tiny farm. Even a fleck of dust shines brighter than me. A star shoots across the sky.
Twitter 355: I see Mulani’s shape in sparks. I see her shape in the sand, in imaginary bioluminescence. I hear laughter, crackling flames, ocean roars.
Twitter 356: Buoys bounce in the dark sea. Waves crest and crash. The sand is cool next to me. A sand crab wanders close, moving like a sideways glance.
Twitter 357: I drift off to sleep feeling so infinitesimal that I can understand the small places between grains of sand. There’s electricity in them.
Twitter 358: I can leap from each. A billion stepping stones to an uncertain future. The spaces become wider, the leaps longer. I try to grow wings.
Read more of the story at www.twitter.com/smallplaces