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Lincoln Log Smoke Signal by Julia Long

Lincoln Log Smoke Signal.

America was downright dirty.

So was an American named Shem.

Shem was at the CVS Pharmacy. He found whitening toothpaste and went for the least attractive cashier.

Shem got what he deserved, a shitty cashier. She didn’t ask how Shem was doing, but actually, Shem asked the cashier how she was doing! It was chaos, it was like Shem was the employee.

The cashier said the word Working.

How you doing? Working.

What the fuck, thought Shem.

Shem didn’t make a $5 donation to the Special Olympics (downright dirty).

Shem let everything he saw on the walk home go in his eyes. Most of it evaporated and some vague tracing of it went to his crackly God Sized Hole. When that happened, Shem pushed it back away. He was preoccupied, thinking about more important things than what he was seeing. Light, events, nature, buildings and random people, this stuff didn’t affect him. Maybe made a little wiggling insect leg shift in his God Sized Hole but would not affect his life. Could not would not harm him.

Shem was thinking about his genitals. The world revolved around them. The last time Shem touched his genitals was in the morning. No porn, not even using thoughts. His brain and body always seemed to come back to this, this directionless lust, this vague but screaming force field around his genitals.

Elsewhere on Shem’s body there was this dual itch, meaning it was the same itch happening on two body parts at the same time. Shem trusted the itch. It was just there, not to be judged or scratched (killed). He stared into the sun.

Shem was home. He was at the front of the house, taking his socks and shoes off. There was a spider on the wall. Shem smiled. A vague thing wrong with his genitals changed.

Shem stuck his hand down his shorts and rubbed his genitals. He was thinking about something really solid as a feeling but unnecessary—maybe impossible—to put into language in his God Sized Hole. Not that he wanted to—he didn’t. He liked it just as a heavy, thing. Some vague notion of rhythm, some consistent vibration of sights. Some, thing.

Shem’s genitals gushed. His God Sized Hole throbbed with pleasure.

The big bad thing inherently wrong with the world bounced forever down the sidewalk.

Something was living in Shem’s computer.

When Shem was typing to his friends on the Internet, he’d hear these crawling legs coming from underneath the keyboard. He’d stop typing and the crawling would stop momentarily. He’d listen for a beat, always wondering if he’d imagined it, and then when it didn’t come back he’d keep typing.

But it would happen again. Always.

This had been going on for days and Shem had gone through various vague stages of grief until he finally accepted it, accepted that he wasn’t going to tell anyone nor try and kill the thing. It was almost a comfort, now. It definitely made a difference in the vague Universe that was his genitals.

The state of the thing, though, was that it was trying to escape. Shem knew because the crawling was frantic. Maybe it wasn’t crawling really, but writhing.

It moved around to different parts of the keyboard, though, so yeah it was crawling. Maybe crawling then writhing. Shem smiled.

Rand was Shem’s girl.

Rand was Shem’s friend.

Not a girlfriend. There was no reason for that and Shem had no opinion about it.

Shem and Rand were waking up hung over in the USA.

They were at Rand’s house.

It was a nice house, Rand had a nice job.

Rand was a nice American. The TV was on. ‘The’ war was on TV, Shem really wasn’t in the mood to think about it.

“Which countries are fighting?,” said Rand, “America. What else?”

“I like that you don’t know,” said Shem, “I really like that about you. It makes sense to not know, you can look it up on the Internet whenever you want.”

“That means a lot baby,” said Rand.

“The Internet,” said Shem. Rand moaned.

Shem held Rand’s boring body closer.

“Do you know which countries are fighting?,” said Rand. She sounded jealous.

“I did at one point, not right now. When I’m hung over I’m the dumbest POS ever,” said Shem.

Shem’s God Sized Hole felt filled with heavy, mhm, cerebrospinal fluid. For some reason he knew it felt like that. It felt okay, it really felt okay, got him high. He made a Neanderthal like expression, which gave him a rush. Dumbness high, Shem thought. It felt like he was on a rocket. It felt like he was an object. Some, thing. It felt like he had no responsibilities.

“I just wanna like, get some evil food, sexual food,” said Shem, “Turn on trash TV and just dumb out. Can we do that? Ride the high? Doritos, whipped cream, Maury? It would make you a better girl.”

Rand started giving Shem a handjob. Maybe she thinks I’m joking, thought Shem. Maybe she knows about my genitals. Maybe she knows something I don’t.

Shem focused on pretending to like the handjob. He didn’t really like other people touching his genitals.

Maybe even the handjob was a joke in a way. Handjobs. They were so, pointless. They could always just be something better.

Nothing could be better than a face fuck. Shem liked blowjobs.

Shem woke up for work. No alarm. He just knew it was time.

On the way to work Shem went to the McDonald’s drive-thru.

“McDonald’s, what can I get you today,” said an omnipresent voice. The Voice of God. My name isn’t McDonald’s, thought Shem, Fucked up.

“Hi m’dear yeah can I get some hotcakes, a sausage burrito, some oatmeal, Egg McMuffin, some Cinnamon Melts, the parfait,” Shem said, “I’m trying to gain weight.”

Shem smiled. The gaining weight thing was a big joke, but a real one. A long-running joke with himself, about nothing.

“How many on the Cinnamon Melts,” said The Voice of God.

“Surprise me,” said Shem.

Shem went to the next window to pay. It was like an assembly line. With each window there was progress. With each window he became a little more complete as a person.

The employee at the window read Shem his total.

“Just what I needed just what I needed,” Shem said. He could totally afford it, he was fucking with the guy.

“You can modify your order Sir if you want I can help you with that,” the employee said. Shem handed him cash.

“No can do,” Shem said, “I’m trying to gain weight.” The employee gave Shem his change.

“You have a nice morning,” said the employee.

“I hate my body,” said Shem. It seemed like the employee was going to say something. Shem definitely didn’t want to hear it. He wanted to wonder forever, mystified, like it was the meaning of life. Before the employee had a chance to reveal the meaning of life Shem glided away to the Final Window. It was all very Sturm und Drang.

The Final Employee passed Shem his bag of food. Shem realized with The Voice of God you exchange words, at the first window you exchange money, but at the second window you’re the only one getting food —things end up uneven. Shem thought it would be downright dirty if he right then passed the employee a bag of some food too. So that was something to do later, next time.

“There you are Sir have a nice morning,” the employee said.

Two different people just said the same thing to me, thought Shem, Thanks a lot Obama. I should say the same thing to two different people. He was trying to smooth out the world.

“I hate my body,” said Shem.

“You have a nice day,” said the employee. He thinks I’m a schizo, thought Shem.

Shem put the bag in his glove compartment. S’later, he thought. He got back on the road. He thought about the phrase “I hate my body.” It was an empowering phrase. It gave all worth and power to the mind.

Shem didn’t know if he ‘really’ hated his body. It didn’t matter. ‘Reality’ is toothless.

Shem neared the freeway. He knew he might or might not have to get on, depending on where he worked.

Where do I work?, thought Shem.

Shem and Blister were taking a shower.

Blister was Shem’s therapist.

“Rand thinks she’s pregnant,” said Shem.

“Would it be yours?,” said Blister.

Shem thought about his magic genitals.

“It’d be some, one’s,” said Shem.

Shem was on a filesharing web site, watching an episode of a reality TV show about addicts.

This one was about a bulimic puker. Bulimic pukers are addicted to bingeing and purging.

Shem had seen this episode some times before. It was his favorite episode of any TV show e v e r. He already knew everything that was gonna happen but that didn’t kill it. It maybe made it better.

The girl on the show’s name was Sunshine.

Shem had elaborate fantasies about what he would do with Sunshine, their lives together.

It had nothing to do with her looks. She happened to be attractive but it didn’t matter. There was something so feminine about how her body controlled her. It was chaos! She couldn’t resist her urge if someone held a gun to her head. This was someone totally innocent, sensitive enough to be this affected by something as tame as food.

They don’t make ’em like that around here, thought Shem.

On the computer screen, Sunshine was gagging over the toilet. Shem turned the volume up.

Shem smiled. I need to find me a puker, he thought.

Oh Sunshine.

Shem was in love.

Rand and Shem were naked together and Rand was on Shem’s lap. They were doing things, wet mouths.

“I like you so much,” said Rand.

Shem had no opinion and nothing to say and it seemed like Rand had nothing else.

Good, we’re both being quiet. We both shut up, thought Shem.

Shem took Rand’s boring breast into his mouth. He thought it was good to get physical with anyone he spent time alone with so he could have an excuse to shut up.

Shem relaxed into the awesome silence while Rand’s boring body occupied his hands like a fiddle thing. Like what he did with twist ties he left around.

I’m with someone, which is normal, thought Shem.

Shem thought about when Rand would leave. It was normal for Rand to leave eventually. Then Shem could be alone again, but alone and thinking of himself as outgoing and desirable. Spending time with people was just an enhancement to his alone time.

Shem dipped a finger into Rand’s vagina.

Little fiddle thing on my pullout sofa. Aww, thought Shem.

Shem kissed Rand and it didn’t matter.

Hey hey what can I do, Shem thought.

Rand was supposed to go home tomorrow to watch ‘the’ war with her family. To get serious about watching ‘the’ war. Tomorrow it was supposed to get serious. Schools were gonna close so kids could stay home and put on serious faces for the serious war on TV.

Shem and Rand fell asleep watching ‘the’ war. In the middle of the night Shem woke up to some surfaced footage of American hostages screaming into gags.

“Mother fucker,” said Shem. He turned it off and rubbed Rand’s boring asleep body until he got so bored he fell asleep again.

Shem was in the kitchen.

He was making a TV dinner called Fiberful Carbonara. Who are they kidding trying to make this sound healthy? he thought. It was frozen. It came in a box.

Food came in a box. Just like any other product. There was no denying that was upsetting. The way he was about it, though, it was like it wasn’t his fault, there was no way around it, no way he could’ve just gone to the pretty much equally close, similarly priced health food store instead.

Nope. It was destined as the seasons.

Fiberful Carbonara was fate.

Shem was in Blister’s office.

“What happened at work today?,” said Blister. Shem laughed.

“That’s funny?,” said Blister, “It’s a funny question?”

“It doesn’t matter what happens during the day,” said Shem, “Night happens no matter what.”

“Were you thinking about that today?,” said Blister.

“No,” said Shem, “No I never think about it, it’s just omnipresent, the truth.”

“What did you think about today?,” said Blister.

Blister was rubbing Shem’s inner thigh. Shem had no opinion about that, it was like he was being brushed by a branch.

“A lot of things,” said Shem, “I have a lot of thoughts.”

Blister was writing something down.

“For all I know you’re, like, drawing dicks,” said Shem.

“I meant primarily,” said Blister, “Like, did anything keep coming up?”

“Sunshine,” said Shem. Oh Sunshine.

“Okay so the bulimic puker,” said Blister. She wrote something down.

“Right,” said Shem.

He held Blister’s hand, he sensed he should. It was like her hand anesthetized his. He accepted this.

“You know about bulimic pukers?,” said Shem, “Like have you ever met one.”

“Oh I know bulimic pukers alright,” said Blister, “I see bulimic pukers every day.”

“Well when I think about cute little bulimic pukers, I have a lot of hope for the world,” said Shem.

“I wanna do everything to you,” said Blister.

It was chaos.

Shem was touching his chaotic genitals after a shower.

With the bathroom scale he checked his weight. A gain. Shem smiled.

He thought about the Bible.

He thought about all the authors he had yet to read. Murakami and Coelho and whoever wrote Gone Girl. There were so, many. I’m ROTTING my brain, thought Shem, and the thought was exciting.

Shem went on the computer feeling excited.

The bulimic puker episode of Mediation it is.


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