Hypnotism of Animals
“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
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
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
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 Willys hand like wind-blown autumn
salt hay beyond the contours of his stained nails. It is a collusion of flesh
penetration, a surface mating, a conflation of blurred colors, an amorphous
mix of flesh and petrol-chemical odors.
He feels an animated magnetism on the first touch from the rolling contours
of Lovas 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
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
Egyptian family sitting in their living room, they exploded . . .”
is not all of it, Lova. I dont 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
“I don’t see you making the Big Time shooting your food spit on subway
“All in the way you do it. I’m into cabbage this week.”
“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
“She probably couldn’t do much else than that.”
“. . . the only ones who stay behind will be the mentally impotent
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
“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
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
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
and turned the handle . . .”
“You can’t get a decent paying job and only struggle half time?”
“Oh, maybe someday you might want to like . . . you know, like to settle
down like normal people.”
“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
“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!”
“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
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.”
“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.”
“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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
images. She is enclosed and nurtured by the all-encompassing machine. There
are visual color-flashing cues and audio that Lova instinctively responds
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,
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
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
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
“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
“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
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
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
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
if possible, starting it seconds before the target, or let your last words
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
“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
“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
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
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.”
“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
Road Runner reruns on the set he found abandoned in the alley behind
“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
“I want to hear about the radish rabbits.”
“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
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.
“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
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.”
“Empty milk bottles, I mean, plastic gallons with a hundred handles. I
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
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
“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.
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?”
“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?”
“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
“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
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
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
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
in me, and you will find that the powers of darkness will lose their hold
“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
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.”
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.”
“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?”
“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
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.”
“Oh, simple, I get to push buttons, then the scanner scans. Decent pay.
“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!”
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