Undertaking Clarissa

In light of the current political situation, the dog and me want to give y’all a peek at a project under deconstruction:


     I put on the dog. Impersonate an undertaker. How come I collect all the roadkill. The dog, in suspension of disbelief, drops his tongue. Waddles along in a down-at-the-heels version of heel.

     “Proper interment,” I mutter under garlic breath (can’t be too careful of vampires in this business).

     Stoop to pluck from the gravel a red-shafted flicker. Bead of blood at the beak, otherwise intact; likely bounced off a windshield. Add bird to bag.

     Back home, I cremate some of the kill in the frying pan. Toss the dog a skull or two. Get my own fill. Start a cardboard fire in the wood stove. Settle down to composing a letter home asking for money. Home just a memory. Both parents long gone. Sisters eons ago disowned me. Brother never had:

To Whom It May Disconcert:

     Mornings I sit in the park. Observe the wildlife. This same old squirrel scampers up. Halts at my feet to beg. Gazes up with bullet eyes. I give the rodent all the time in the world; nothing else.

     “Morning, Fuck Nose.” His name is Fuck Nose because his name is – well, who the fuck knows?

     It’s Fuck Nose enables me in the first place to put on the dog. Without emanations from those slick eyes the dog would soon discover I’m not only not an undertaker, but not even employed; except in writing these letters. My soul is blind. Without a seeing-soul dog, well … you see my point. I mean, without a service animal – who the fuck knows?

     I doubt the dog would stick around long for the few lousy coon skulls, cat tails and chicken feet, if the dog weren’t convinced I’m a big time mortician currently between well-heeled corpses.

     So please send $5,000. Or at least $50 per word, so I can put it toward the purchase of a medical cadaver, so I can put the dog to thinking I am prepping a bonafide corpse. Convince the mutt to hang around at least through Ground Hog Day; maybe then some.

     Sex is another thing, and the dog is wondering, and I’m sure I could dress up the cadaver real swell. The sex is unimportant, but I’d likely go for a girl, since girls are pretty much what I go for. Even though I’d just be watching, there is no point in not accomodating yours vicariously.

     Another thing is that the customer will most certainly need a hairdo before I cut the dog loose, so maybe you could throw in another hundred or five?

     Hope all is swell down in hell or wherever the hell any of you reading this might find yourselves. Up here certain canine organs are swelling and Fuck Nose is blinking I need to close.

                                             With everlasting consideration & so forth …

P.S.  F. N. insists we call the cadaver your money will procure “Clarissa Harlowe.” I’m sure you’ll agree, because, after all, who the fuck knows?

     Fuck Nose lectures on the orgasm. Slow going, blinking Morse code, tail twitching to accentuate (italicize (as it were)) certain words or phrases. F’r’nstance why is it the orgasm? According to Fuck Nose it’s because the orgasm is a universal sensation (hummingbirds, worms, slime mold, amoebas, even viruses undergo orgasm); but a sensation that beggars description.

     Big Tickle. Sugar Shiver. Little Death. Yawn of the Anima. All metaphors. Figure-eight’s of speech. To know orgasm you must not no orgasm. Fuck Nose crosses his forepaws over his breast when he Morses this last riddle. Whenever those paws cross, I produce pad and pen:

To Whom It May Disconcert:

     I keep checking, like a cardinal at a feeder, my box. But no seed. No cash. No check. I get the idea – in technicolor: no communication. OK, so the dog and I last night pay a visit to Lakeview.

     Got staked out a fresh grave. Take along a stake, in case encounter a vampire (also a jerked rat steak, in case nothing on the road to eat). Teen hung herself over love gone wrong. Read about it at the library on Facebook. Attend couple days back the funeral. I explain to the dog exhumation necessary because her fly-by-night mortician blew the job. As a public service I’m donating my skills to better the disgrace. As if the dog really needs an excuse to dig up loose dirt.

     Once we get Clarissa back to the shack – pausing to toss in a possum flattened as the brim of a cardinal’s hat – we lay her out on the kitchen table. I fry up the marsupial in Crisco. Give the dog half – he doesn’t need to be hungry for this.

     After supper we scrub the mud off the babe. Dress her up in white aviator scarf, banker’s gray thigh high’s, vermilion teddy.

     I walk the dog into the living room. Have him sit beside the front door. Wait for a distant siren to approach. Scream past. Die back into the other distance …

     Clap hands. The dog bolts across the linoleum. Leaps onto Clarissa sprawled on top of the formica. After slobbering her etiolated face, the dog falls to humping a nyloned shin, like an oldtime fireman sliding in a silent movie down the pole. Roots snout up under the teddy till we picture Rough Riders up San Juan, 1898 – just when flickers are first getting made – way past time to eat …

     But I’ll hold the details if you’ll just send $50 for each of the next hundred words I’m not about to write.

                                                  If so, why not …

     “For that matter,” Fuck Nose – erect on hind legs – telegraphs, “why is it the fuck?” tail stuttering while he blinks the “dah … di-di-di-dit … dit” for the word the.

     “The fuck …” I mumble, slumped on the bench, rolling eyes at a V of geese high in the blue. Peripherally catching:

     “As in ‘who the fuck knows?’” Fuck Nose blinks, tail-spasms, blinks, blinks. Crosses paws.

To Whom It May Disconcert:

     So who the orgasm knows?

     The dog, a shepherd-lab mix, coughs up a hank of scarlet lycra teddy. Licks chops. Belches. Pauses – for his oily eyes to meet mine. Guides the soul to the sink. Washes my paws. Rinses psyche down drain.

     In no time I’ve got Clarissa gutted, and the dog is squeezing into the skin suit, tucking forelegs through the arms, hopping around the house, while I shove Miss Harlowe’s innards, along with a couple more broken-down boxes, into the stove.

     The bones become flutes, saxes, xylophones, trumpets. The vocal cords string a jew’s harp. The hair we knot …

     Fuck Nose is blinking I can stop, and we won’t go any further into this, if you’ll just write a check for five K, so next new moon we won’t need to visit Lakeview; or instead grow fangs, shift into a bat, come looking for you. No doubt also come when we finally ferret your blood out. Everybody knows vampires come all night long.

     Wake up and smell the money, Orgasm Nose.

                                             Very Insincerely and Untruly …

P.S. F.N. sure enough turns up the other day on the shoulder of the service road through the park wearing his guts, both eyes pecked out. Means no more letters. Not even a shot at any money. Which means plan B in effect. Already the moon shrinks. Beware. Because – who the fuck knows?

Willie Smith

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