Hypnotism of Animals
Gabriel Orgrease

“The so called hypnotism of animals consists in the fact that by means of energetic action, overcoming all resistance, the animal is brought to an unnatural posture (laid on its back) and kept thus for a brief space of time. Afterwards, when the hands are removed from the animal, the latter remains motionless for many minutes and even hours.” —Ivan Pavlov

. . . then the masticated cucumber hits the screen.

On a Sunday afternoon Ms. Lova Ayesack and her sort of nearly but we may presume live-in boyfriend, Willy Gillis, are pressing their amplitude into the upholstery of a window booth of the Rose Sunset Diner on Rockaway Blvd., Queens, across from Buster’s Texaco.

“I don’t see,” says Willy. “I’m touchy,” as he slides his hand, palm down, across the surface of the table towards her knuckles. Lova with the power to not attract just about any guy she wants, and here this Willy is reaching for her. His limb vibrates in the air a fraction above the surface, gliding like a tethered hovercraft, an extended metal detector, a tenuous feeler—an antenna to connect him to an existence of this proximate other, this woman.

Life is a flow of indeterminate information that we force to conform to the images of our selves. Tweedle and boob tube, light in darkness, bodies irradiated by sunlight—one with his hands the tactile handler and one with her eyes a visual scanner. Fingers to be entangled like cheese sausages forever and ever rolling beneath heat lamps. Her full irises swipe his motions of limbs encircling the flattened topography on the table of their embrace.

Lova scans the hair on the rise of Willy’s hand like wind-blown autumn salt hay beyond the contours of his stained nails. It is a collusion of flesh without penetration, a surface mating, a conflation of blurred colors, an amorphous emotional mix of flesh and petrol-chemical odors.

He feels an animated magnetism on the first touch from the rolling contours of Lova’s sun-warmed skin. The booth glows expectations.

The black and white TV set at the counter next the gyro rotisserie shows the turbaned head of a bearded man talking to the turbaned head of a bearded man; turban-headed talking heads with the inconclusive evidence of electronic lurking . . .

And Lova replies, “Think of the money.”

“. . . sitting with the Shaykh in a room, and then I left to go to another room where there was a TV set. The TV broadcasted the big event. The scene was showing an Egyptian family sitting in their living room, they exploded . . .”

“Money is not all of it, Lova. I don’t have enough time.”

“You could buy real art stuff instead of spitting glop.”

“I don’t spit glop.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Why the push?”

“Correct me; with a real job you can go buy new stuff instead of foraging in a dumpster.”

“Recycling, green feels . . . good.”

“You saw that somewhere?”

“No, on the radio. I heard green art is real. I’m going to do green art.”

“I don’t see you making the Big Time shooting your food spit on subway posters.”

“All in the way you do it. I’m into cabbage this week.”

“Spitting cabbage?”

“Look at the ketchup lady. She made out pretty good.”

“Dhabaha is a slashing genius.”

“She is a TV geek, a princess of the airwaves.”

“At least she looks around and finds interesting stuff and makes something of herself. I bet she went to art school.”

“Some help, Lova. A genius is this Dhabaha dripping and smearing ketchup on the TV for art?”

“. . . a huge plane, long and wide. I was carrying it on my shoulders and I walked from the road to the desert for half a kilometer. I was dragging the plane.”

“She probably couldn’t do much else than that.”

“. . . the only ones who stay behind will be the mentally impotent and the liars . . .”

“And I can do something else?”

“You have other interests,” she says, frustrated with Willy not going along with her request that he call for the job interview.

“No genius. I’ve got no genius.”

“You could buy a new shirt. You could look . . . well, you could look nice sometimes.”

“What! You don’t like this shirt?”

“It’s not that I don’t like the shirt. It’s just that, well . . . working at the gas station is no way to get ahead. You’re never going to make it as an artist by pumping gas and cleaning toilets. You should go do the job interview. You don’t know what can happen.”

“This is a good shirt, cheap, it cost nothing.” He smirks while fondling a broken button. “I found it in a dumpster. Real cotton. Feel it.”

“Is that linguini or a tapeworm dried on your collar?”


“. . . hit the building. That was last year. We haven’t thought much about it. But, when the incidents happened he came to me and said, “Did you see . . .”

“You can have more than one shirt, you know. You don’t always have to be so frugal.”

“I’m not starving. You want that toast?”

“Yeah, right, eat it but please don’t spit on me.”

“I’ll temporarily restrain my genius.”

“. . . a small machine with a handle was attached. They asked me questions and turned the handle . . .”

“You can’t get a decent paying job and only struggle half time?”

“What for?”

“Oh, maybe someday you might want to like . . . you know, like to settle down like normal people.”

“Beep! Beep!”

“To get ahead with my art I got to concentrate my focus and struggle. I got to struggle all over. There is no other way. That’s how it works, we struggle, we stuff our faces, we spit our guts out, and then one morning we’re dead.”

“Not very optimistic, is it?”

“I want to be famous dead.”

“At the age of twenty-seven Willy Gillis, the international famous art spitter and food sculptor met his destiny!”

“That works.”

“A master of the universe to be remembered . . .”

“. . . due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit . . .”

“I’m on it, babe. The Big Time is waiting.”

“A karaoke bar in Horse Head Bay isn’t exactly making it.”

“I forgot to tell you I got a Williamsburg gig.”

“What, in a Polish deli?”

“No, more than that.”

“Spitting kielbasa and hot melon?”

“More than that.”

“More than?”

“Yeah, in like a real gallery. Some lady’s extra bedroom.”

“Oh, you showed her spittle slides?”

“No, I don’t do slides. I gave her the masticated cucumber.”

“You what?”

“I spit chewed cucumber on her screens.”

“. . . worried that maybe the secret would be revealed if everyone starts seeing it in their dreams. So I closed the subject. I told him if he sees another dream, not to tell anybody, because people will be upset . . .”

“Willy, you got a real talent for wet dreams.”

“That and the radish rabbits—she loved it.”

“So you got a show?”

“Yeah, a one-man show. Food spit on the walls and radish rabbits on the floor. I got the gallery for a whole weekend.”

“. . . we were talking about how come we didn’t have anything, and all of a sudden the news came and everyone was overjoyed and everyone until the next day, in the morning, was talking about what was happening and we stayed until four o’clock, listening to the news every time a little bit different, everyone was very joyous . . .”

“For god’s sake, Willy, wake up. Airport security is nothing more than like working in a nuts and bolts factory. You do it all day . . . or all night as the case may be, you get a decent pay check, and you go home.”

“But, Lova, this Willyburg show could be my break.”

* * *

The lounge outside the work room is a haven for mouse potatoes. Dimly lit with low-voltage amber lighting, ambient relaxation music frolicking through an androgynous background, a lingering scent of exotic blends of frankincense and sandalwood, a subtle taste of pan-seared ginger and sprinkled cilantro.

“. . . touch another button, and the windscreen wiper works… that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.”

In an era of synchronicity the scanner work takes a specialized talent and guts, though Lova is not able to admit this to herself. It takes the sort of talent her great-grandmother used in spotting the silhouettes of aircraft over the coastline during the war. It takes the talent of a pigeon to know a hawk flying overhead. It takes the nature of a telly babe nurtured to staring at images 24/7. It pays well. It takes the talent of realizing that an inkblot is an inkblot.

Lova pops stay-alert pills, muscle relaxers, ginkgo cognitive enhancers, placebos, anti-sleep medication, and anti-flatulents. Administering her eye-ease drops and lechee lip balm she exits the lounge into the artificially darkened work room.

Expanding her earth-motherness into an industrial body suit transforms the garment from a lifeless lump of dark spandex-fabric into a dark cloud with eggplant-like appendages. She flexes armpits, lumps breasts, tweaks nipple cups and wriggles her buttocks to adjust the wire harness. She puts on her helmet, fiddles with the visor, and then plugs in the feedback line.

Undulating she eases her bulk out onto the temperature-controlled water bed. She inserts the intravenous feed above her left wrist. She moves her head slightly to fit out the headphones for the ultimate in listening pleasure. Tapping middle finger to thumb turns on the virtual scanner and Lova is now fully alert and focused.

Passenger baggage is flowing; busy, then slow, sporadic, nothing, then resuming in a spastic rush. Images, one after the other, reduced to simple cutout shapes of a flat-color gray.

Often . . . a rubber band effect, baggage piles up, speeds up, slows down, speeds up. Gray against white, contrast enhanced through her visor, a stream of electronic images. She is enclosed and nurtured by the all-encompassing machine. There are visual color-flashing cues and audio that Lova instinctively responds to—alerting her when a bag will be moving through.

“Little children, the time has come for your deliverance. I am your sign in the heavens, and all of the other signs attest to it. You are free, for I have broken your chains, and I have left you unconfused.”

She floats out-of-body on a bed of images, an action performed without hands, silver-screen temptations of poetic copulations in a rapid frequency. She barely clicks on either cue, visual or auditory, as once the work begins her body space is a sensorium to an undiscovered consciousness.

Three hours on, half off—during the break she remains on the water bed and for a refresher views Gilligan’s Island reruns.

“As Dhabaha contends, the majority eats sleeps talks fucks and shits. The chosen minority does all the above with the value added of watching, the observed and observer confused.”

So there is a test, a screening without spit cucumbers. Not everyone gets to be a scanner. Not everyone fits the mold. Nearly anything from a manatee to a blue whale, including lovely Lova, will fit the one-size-fits-all body suit.

The handlers out in public that the passengers see with their white shirts and authority patches are the jittery folk. Scanner rejects. Only able to touch with their hands-on they need to be watched. They direct anonymous citizens through the daily procession of entering. They need to be monitored, reviewed, evaluated, and overseen. Those who fit the psychological profile, such as Lova, make the higher grade. It is the backroom scanners who are our true homeland security. They are the last line between us and nothing. They are all around us in quiet rooms, hidden away and watching. They are the soul of our brave new technology, the proud, the reclined, and the victorious. They are waiting patiently for the next push of the button.

A limo driver in baggage claim holds up a cardboard sign saying Missing.

“Step forward please.” “Carrie made the swim team.” “Lay the case flat.” “Don’t touch that.” “I hope my Janice does that well.” “Can you turn this on?” “Going to Fordham?” “Do you have change in your pockets?” “Do you mind if I put my fingers in there?” “Can you turn this on?” “Are you a bush pilot?” “Either there or Queens College, she hasn’t decided.” “Step back and empty your pockets.” “Raise your arms and turn around.”

Beeps and whistles.

“A man who kindled a fire; when it lighted all around him, God took away their light and left them in utter darkness. So they could not see.”

Baggage passes through the machine like it is a stationary hay baler or limb shredder. It is a sequential processor of our nightmares. Blinking yellow flashes in Lova’s view, audio goes to a focus of bi-hemispheric alpha wave inducement. Lova jumps her concentration, she zeroes in from the dreamscape of her idleness to discern the outline of a black comb, a disposable razor, and a pistol. She taps her middle finger to thumb and sets off the alarm. Security goes into fast forward motion.

“We need to inspect your bag.”

Unzip. They find a red comb, a disposable razor, and a book.

“This can’t be it, look further.” There is panic over a collection of words.

“I don’t find anything.”

“False hit, close it up.”

“We’re sorry to inconvenience you. Enjoy your day!"

Reset the alarm. Push the button, the left blue button with the bright yellow stripes for a false hit, the solid green right button for a hit. This was not a hit.

“Who is on scanner?”

“We don’t know. We never know. Need to know. You know?”

Electroshock to the soles of her feet causes Lova to shiver, a minor tsunami of pain coursing through her spinal column. Twitching like a frog on a copper wire, she bites her cheek and there is fresh blood. “Oh, shit, what the fuck was that?”

* * *

In the reception area, there is a badly executed painting, an expressionist abstract sunset all harshly orange and brown. Paint applied in thick swipes, a sculptural relief of mountains with heights and a lump that evokes a solitary weathered pine that for Willy resembles a strip of teriyaki jerky with green fur.

A landscape staged on a planet of heavy-metal pollution as seen from a barren moon of the Pleiades. It is an extraterrestrial doormat of the wandering umber-soul. The art sticks out from the plane of the wall with a topological inversion and intrudes upon the transience of the waiting space that a motionless mind enters.

Willy is fidgety teetering on the tangerine couch perched below the landscape as he molds a small lump of blue cheese moistened with his saliva.

Not totally absent of color, the off-white walls in the soft light impress him as a muted gray.

A Moroccan palm stands dying in the corner. A discount-shop bronze-tone four-masted barque sits on the magazine table, between abused copies of Us and Them.

Willy with the blue cheese fashions artificial seamen, cheese puppets. Feeling odd today, he figures little boys and girls sailing tall ships in the harbor, miniature simulacra humping each other, fire eaters, tattoo artists, fallen angels, bond traders, contortionists, and leprous cripples. Willy molds with his hands a crew destined from an amusement park hell. Fiery frames of flesh and bone are paused in leaps and boundaries of engineered gravitation in mid-collapse. A black cloud of stench expands over their lives and melts into the pores of their skin. Dealing with death, dismembered body parts and the raw emotions created during terror. An eyeball rolls across an unsteady brow. Darkly lit dead ends, they all crumble on the rig’s deck into small lumps that for anyone but Willy would be indiscernible from moldy cheese, as he rubs his fingers between them.

Touching. Watching. The test.

“When the moment of truth comes near, and zero hour is upon you, open your chest, welcoming death in the path of God. Always remember to conclude with the prayer, if possible, starting it seconds before the target, or let your last words be: ‘There is none worthy of worship but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.’ After that, God willing, the meeting is in the highest paradise, in the company of God.”

“Mr. Gillis,” she squeaks softly, and Willy with a mush of his hand litters the evidence of his food art on the tin deck, “this way.”

Into the next room… into the next room he follows. The thin woman has pale complexion, and sparse lips, butch cut hair, a flat bosom, and immense doe eyes.

“Please take a seat here,” she indicates. Obedient Mr. Gillis, he cannot place her accent, he says, “Where are you from?”

“You may trust that we are not a death cult, Mr. Willis. Let me see your hand.”

Willy reaches forward across the desk to the touch of thin fingers and a cold palm, a wrinkled touch of her knuckles—tough like fish scales.

“Interesting,” she squeaks as she looks closely at the lines on his palm.“You may let go now.”

The real danger is not in terrorist states, as in the cold war, but in terribly weak, if not phantom or virtual, states.

“The first phase of the testing is quite straightforward, Mr. Gillis.” She turns to the shelf behind and returns with a small copper box.

“I will lift the cover of this box. You will look into it. I will replace the cover. You will tell me what you see.”

Willy touches the box. Willy absently reaches forward and touches the woman’s hand, running his fingers along her extended thumb. Then Willy again touches the metal box.

“Are you ready?”


“What did you see?”


“And . . .?”

“Ring. Ruby ring.”

Willy touches the woman’s hand.

“Is that all, Mr. Gillis?”


“Hmm, a thimble.”


“Did you see a shot glass?”

“No. Was I supposed to?”

“There is no right or wrong answer, Mr. Gillis.”


Willy fidgets with his hands and scratches his nose.

“Did you see a key chain?”


“A key chain.”

“I don’t remember a key chain.”

“Did you see underwear?”


“Very well.” A thin smile.

“Hold it again?” he says.


“Your hand. May I hold your hand?”

“Let me show you some cards.” She reaches around to the shelf. “I need you to tell me the first thing that comes into your head.”

“Door handle.”

“And this?”

“Cat’s paw.”


“Turkey foot.”

“That will be it, Mr. Gillis.”

* * *

Mid-evening, the end of twilight, and a quarter hour after their dinner, Lova is rinsing plasticware at the sink of her efficiency above the New Beginning Outreach from Jesus Love Center. There is a rumble of the gospel coming up to them through the interstices of the floor. While listening to Willy she watches Road Runner reruns on the set he found abandoned in the alley behind the Texaco.

“I’m getting on with plastic bottles,” he says.


Willy sways ’round; his socks polishing the floor in small circles between the window and Lova. “Plastic bottles. Carving plastic bottles with sticks.” Waving his hands in an arc aimed across the room towards her Swedish ivy. “Like giant molecules, you know. I started a geodesic dome. It fell over. I’m creating molecules.” Collapsing the arc swing to a small sphere of gas held between his hands. “Should I paint them?”

Wile E. Coyote is blown up by his own dynamite.

“What about the spit food? What about the radish rabbits?”

“Old crap. Bottles have labels, you know? Easier for the viewing audience to appreciate.“

“I want to hear about the radish rabbits.”

“Nothing there.”

“What about the show last weekend?”

“Nobody important showed, not even the Voice.”

“I’m sorry I had to work.”

“I had to pay for the beer. Those freaks drink a lot of beer in that place. I don’t know what they do for art. They were not even into the cucumbers. I asked them, I asked Mandy and Jane if they wanted to help me. They told me that they did not want to interfere with my inspiration. I had to chew and spit the damned show on my own, 483 friggin’ cucumbers, and most of them bitter. Do you know why a dog is better than a cucumber? By the time I got done they were in bed asleep. I think they were asleep. Hell if I know.”

“So what about the radish rabbits?”

“I was bored and I ate them.”

“You ate them?”

“Yeah, the ones that didn’t get stepped on. The girls were dancing and singing Blow the Man Down near the end before they passed out. I have to move closer to the edge.”

“You ate them.”

“Yes, with milk. That is how I got the idea. It was a vision. It was their milk, too. That was what they left me, sour milk . . . two-percent sour milk.”

“What idea?”

“Empty milk bottles, I mean, plastic gallons with a hundred handles. I don’t know, seriously, I have to move closer to the edge. I don’t have many visions like that. I could fill them with cucumber pulp to weigh them down.”

“You’ll need money to buy glue for the handles.”

“Then I got to thinking about all the empty beer bottles. Three thousand empty beer bottles with a note with a name in each one, like a fortune cookie with a cork. Memorial beer bottles let loose on the ocean.”

“Where are we going with all this?”

“Art is like that. It comes up. I can put your name in one of them if you want.”

“How did you do on the test?” Wile E. Coyote chases a beeping bird out of the corner of her eye.

“So I brought home all the empties.”

“On the subway?”

“Yeah. They were heavy and the bag ripped in the station. I need to find a place to buy corks.”

“The test . . . how did you do on the test?”

“OK.” Feeling the stop-motion of the floor circles his socks make.

“OK? You don’t know better or worse than OK?”

“Cast off the demons you have slept with. Let them no more have your bed. Do not bear their children any longer, but only the children of my Father. Come away from your worldly lovers. I tell you that you need no longer stay with them. I have broken your contracts with the earth and nullified your vain promises, in order to bring you up to me.”

“She had interesting hands.” Holding his own together.

“Yeah, how so?”

“Amazing hands.”


“I could not keep my hands off her hands. They were incredible.“

“What are you saying?”

“I’ve never felt hands like that.”


“A turn-on. I could hold her hands like . . . like forever.”

“Yeah, you think so?”

“Perfect hands.”

“You know this sucks.”


“I work and you play with food.”

“Hey, I don’t fart around all day at the gas station. You have a cushy job.”

“You don’t know.”

“Nice music, nice vibes, no exertion.”

“Not exactly! Nothing is that simple.”

“Yeah, right. You got it easy.”

“Count your blessings.” As she lifts her hands from dishwater she turns and pushes him in the stomach.“Take these hands.”

He staggers back. “What is that about?”

“I need positive feedback.”


“You never say anything nice about my hands.”

“You got nice hands. Let me hold them.”

“Hold them yourself.”

Willy reaches for Lova’s hands, but she raises and flutters a washcloth in front of her head so that Willy can only see her hands as if behind a soggy drapery. Tapping middle finger to thumb, she slams him sideways with her buttocks.

“Take that.”

Confused by all this but desiring peace and common sense, Willy steps forward and embraces Lova, wrapping his arms around what he can manage between their uneasy girths. He wants to clasp hands behind her but like discovery of a free world it is not exactly there to be imagined.

“I want for us to be together,” she whispers in his ear.

He holds and he feels, as if holding an inflated sculpture of blue cheese and eggplant. Lova melds, hugging, they smooch. They flick tongue against teeth and share saliva. She drops the washcloth; it lands on her bare foot, reminding her of her work day. She jumps upwards into his frame.

To be one with the other.

* * *

Some days are not quite as good as others.

This day Lova is twitched out. In love and luggage you can only see the pattern that you look for. The balance between the left and the right button is whacked.

The handlers have gone mad, giddy, a lag between response and reaction, they are the runtime error in her system.

Her heart rate and perspiration monitored, fluids replaced automatically, from within the pain Lova forces herself to concentrate and see the reality of shadows.

The personal belongings of strangers pass. Life is screwing up.

They buy and sell souls like cattle, and the people stay in their stalls as cattle do.

Usually she has no problem telling the difference between silk underwear and a utility knife. She tries to think pleasant thoughts. Waiting, bracing, waiting, then bang—the jolt smacks and her legs jump from the bed.

“Oh, gawd,” she moans.

Concentrate, breathe steady. Between waves of pain she thinks socks, rotating socks shared with Willy. That is not a hatchet. His muskiness and his feeling of her intimacy. A unicorn bearing a crossbow. Then her hand flickers as if pulled by itself and the alarm goes off and the handlers harangue an innocent first class passenger over a plastic bottle of sorghum.

By geese, by golly, Lova twists and wrenches, an awkward muscular twitch, shivers and quivers on the waterbed once again while losing consciousness. The feedback triggers that Lova is missing in action and revives her just before the next wave. Off again, on again, all in a day's work on the line to interpret the ghostly images which continue to haunt our troubled perimeters.

* * *

“I think I’m depressed,” says Lova while she limps to their window booth at the Rose Sunset Diner on Rockaway Blvd., but Willy does not connect with her; preoccupied, he cannot feel what she can see. "I think the whole world has turned to damnation. Nothing will ever be the same."

“It never was the same, Lova. It never was to begin with.”

“Something really bad is going to happen. I can feel it.”

Listen, children, there is a small voice down inside of you. It speaks to your soul. It is my voice and the voice of my Father. I have freed you from the burdens of your guilt, and you will never have them again if you follow my word. Believe in me, and you will find that the powers of darkness will lose their hold on you.

“Didn’t pass that test,” says Willy.

“It figures. How could I know this? How fortunate,” she says, aware that Willy is not connecting with her. There are no hands across the table; he sits on them. She finds herself wondering if she cares if he ever connects. “My back hurts,” she says.

“No worry,” with energy and vibrancy, “I passed another test.”

“You did?”

Raising off his hands and reaching out towards Lova. She leans forward.

“I thought I was in for a scanner, like you, but it was for another. I took another test and did not even know it. It had to do with my cheese puppets.”

“With what?”

“Before the interview, in the reception room, I was playing with this blue cheese I had.”


“Blue cheese in my pocket. I made little people and stuck them on this boat they had there. They must have been watching or something.”

“They are always watching.”


“What test did you take?”

“McLuhan Tactile.”


“I passed. Basic goes next Tuesday. Blindfold and feedback gloves. They told me I'm perfect for a handler.”

“You’re not going to be a scanner?”

“No. I qualify for a handler.”


“Handling, you know, I touch things.”

“Those who have been dead in trespasses and sins, but who have felt the presence of my Father calling out to them, will be freed. They will rise up from their dusty beds, and ascend into the clouds of my Father’s presence where I dwell. They will forever be with me.”

“But you’re not going to be a scanner?”

“No, no . . . I’m going to be a handler. I feel bags.”

“Then what?”

“Oh, simple, I get to push buttons, then the scanner scans. Decent pay. Good hours.”

“I’m delighted.”

“We can work same shift. Go to work together, like normal people. I thought you would be happy. My job is your dream. No more food art. No more gas station. It is a new day dawning.”

“I can’t wait.”

“I start Monday. I’m excited!”

“Hypnotism of Animals” was written in the aftermath of 9/11 and as such in story time it is old—as in it was not written yesterday. In this world where it seems that everything has to happen immediately within seconds of the click and poke of desire I find it curious to track the life expectancy of a story. Can it endure in either relevance or need-to-read past the first week of existence? I’m slow. It tends to take me two years to write a short story, not counting the decades I will dwell in the back channels of my thought on a particular thematic direction or plot premise. Because of that I do hope that the story I come up with will last for more than a week. Even at that I come back to a story and reread it and wonder, “Why?”

“Hypnotism of Animals” was first picked up by Carrie Berry and published in Gator Springs Gazette. Ellen Parker missed being the first to pick up on this story by a few hours (time zone of Scotland vs. Seattle?). Subsequent to that tug of desires, my desire to keep both of these excellent and curious and supportive readers entranced, I wrote for Ellen “Chernobyl Breathes Through Us,” which can be found in the archive of FRiGG (spring 2005).

Both stories are explorations in what I contend is “horror”—not in the decorative sense of the horror genre, which tickles our suspension of disbelief, but as in a story that has just enough realism to cause one to wonder if something really bad can happen to us (a bashing in of the skull of our little people). Might there be substance in the real world to the small paranoid intuitions that we feel day to day, the small hints of fear that have behind them an otherwise unknown, possibly unrecognizable flood of terror?

We are not talking about postcards from Hell (located actually in the Caymans, been there, done that), wherein one is a tourist on vacation.

Naturally, I have my own small story to tell about 9/11 and where I was that day. I have my own story to tell about Chernobyl. I have a story about Katrina that has not quite settled out to be written. There is a connective thread between stories, between those and the ones imagined for the future. If you are curious you will find it; if not, it hardly matters.

I recently came upon an artist in Brooklyn who goes around dredging up road kill and other dead animal carcasses, sifting through dumpsters in Chinatown (Manhattan), and he gives tours if one is inclined. Then he proceeds to hack and whack then sew duck bills onto rabbit heads and pigs’ ears onto possum asses. He began with small, small animals, taxidermy experiments stuffed into pickle jars, and blossomed out from there to videos of his “craft,” posted with a commentary from observers on YouTube. A bit of controversy as to whether the videos were being censored and blocked, but who cares? Eventually the artist made a man figure, which was not so easy to stuff into a jar, and laid it out on what appears to be the floor of his apartment. Because of him I feel validated in the feeling arts portrayed in “Hypnotism of Animals.”

I have been asked by a perplexed reader why the female character of “Hypnotism of Animals” is portrayed in a black lump body suit hooked up to many wires, and what sort of friggin’ chauvinist metaphor is meant by that? My only plausible excuse (to myself) is that as a male writer my anima undergoes a subjective electroshock quite often. The story is intended in part as an exploration of our human relationship to catastrophic events coupled with the filter of media—this consciousness of “news” is one of constant and, for some, addictive, jolts to the subconscious.

Here I have to admit an interest in the dynamic of fear politics. We have recently lived through a time when our political leaders, of all persuasions, have made capital on keeping the shit scared out of the population. I do believe that it is those bogeymen and bogeywomen who would exterminate me and mine. They dampen our life energy and cultivate in us our auto-hypnotic regression to self-censure as a means of basic survival. I mean, we all want to go hide.

Just recently I read of a plan to establish a national cell phone text message alert system that will 1) tell me the world is ending in the next fifteen minutes, 2) tell me that we have a half hour, or 3) let me know that a child has been abducted. What this seems to portend in my interpretation is that each time some raving lunatic is put in charge of the USA, that he or she can instantly pull my leash, so to speak, and jolt the shit out of my subconscious. Talk about mass hysteria, and talk about one of the most favored conspiracy theories as to why the Air Force does not own up to extraterrestrials who visit our Presidents, if not outright control them.

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