often dream of an antique clock. Triggering a mechanical reenactment
of a man's life at the top of each hour, it annihilates the
moments of tedium by cramming his cycle into a minute. The
price of observation may or may not have been twenty minutes
from my childhood while the body heat of impatient spectators
in a Boston Museum suffocated me from all sides.
left panel opens to expel a pregnant woman arranged spread-eagle
on an operating tablecloth. Her gastroenterologist follows
from the right. The doctor makes preparations for the childbirth
— writing himself a prescription for an anti-nausea
tablet and popping off to the pharmacy — leaving the
expectant mother to discharge her lump of joy without the
validity of a medical license. The pain lulls her into unconsciousness,
and a chainsaw revs up and peeks out of her stomach like a
periscope. The chainsaw sashays across its runway, creating
an emergency exit. Tiny hands reach out and swing the power
tool triumphantly. It's a boy!
automatons shift back into the belly of the clock. They exchange
themselves for an infantile incarnation of the newborn and
his chisel-chinned dad. The child leads his father through
a hedge maze. The father uses his son's adorableness to attract
shrubs of the opposite sex so he can secure the directions
out of his predicament and dinner dates ending in non-committal
couplings. But each time he yanks his son's leash towards
an exaggerated representation of the female form, she squeals
with joy at his offspring and fails to initiate conversation.
After seven interchanges between the sun and the moon, the
father looks up towards the clouds and guffaws in defeat.
His son watches as he floats into the sky like a balloon.
reached the legal age of consent for running through the sprinklers
in a state of undress, the boy snares his predecessor in a
peanutbutterfly net. Swallowing him in one chug, the elder
absorbs his vitality and naïve experiences.
Sugarbush blows her top to signal the end of recess. The boy
swears that she will get her comeuppance. After herding him
and his classmates back into their earlobe restraints, she
makes the mistake of calling on him for the solution to all
her calamities. Dodging the question with the agility of someone
who gets shot at at all hours of the night, he divulges his
secret: the schoolhouse does not exist. It is a hoax. He designed
the building plans, supervised its construction, hired the
staff, authored the textbooks, masterminded the curriculum
... all for the occasional laugh, which he must execute at
a low volume to avoid the sting of Mrs. Sugarbush's wet towel
of discipline. Overcome by the fumes of persuasion, the students
gnaw off their earlobes and make a break for truancy, leaving
their teacher with twelve months of summer vacation. The boy
places a watermelon on her desk.
and you'll miss the clockworks substituting the boy for a
young man with peach fuzz above his lip and juicy pustules
carved into his cheeks. He and his unsavory peer group are
hanging out in the parking lot of a Humperdumper Yogurtarium
and Toilet Paper Boutique, waiting for the clock to fulfill
its obligations as an entertainer. They kill time by conducting
surgical strikes on the little hand and doing impersonations
with their gelatinous trench coats. The teen jiggles into
his posthumously-acclaimed goldfish in a humidifier routine.
Trevor and Nickname stare at him vacantly, unable to digest
the subtleties of his buffoonery. Despondent over his audience's
reaction, he is incapable of seeing the behemothic woman through
his tears ... the woman who has just crashed through the store's
exit, squawking at her unruly child. Mouth filled with exasperation,
he can't warn them of her creeping hands, intent on snatching
their coat hangers. And as they fall towards the earth, the
woman spanks her son with the cruel plastic and modifies his
behavior so it doesn't include the urge to wrap himself in
toilet paper and proclaim that undead pharaohs are entitled
to free low-fat desserts.
teen hangs. He watches the parking lot's heavy gravity take
his mangled friends on a journey to the center of the Earth's
molten core. He can do nothing.
balloon surrounds the parking lot — not the sort of
floating object that's often found in the hospital rooms of
the terminally-ill, but a pillowy white blob that usually
contains words and levitates above an oblivious person, excreting
dots onto their scalp. Today's target is an older stand-in
for the teen, who is being interviewed for an entry-level
position at a witty retort factory. Whitewater rafting through
the memory of his passivity, he doesn't respond to the interviewer's
inane questions. The man's sensible tie is so impressed that
someone finally had the viscera to stand up to its oppressor.
The tie tightens him into unconsciousness and hires the young
man on the spot. The brain chemistry of the newly employed
swoosh about and try to determine whether or not they are
pleased with this decision.
young man does a dance of uncertainty.
moon rises. He glares at it, annoyed. It has reached the phase
of the lunar cycle when the man in the moon waxes his chest
hair. The young man shrieks. His body vibrates like a caffeinated
poodle humping its favorite chew toy. His skull slurps down
the front of his hair. His belly peeks over his thrift store
suit pants. When the transformation is complete, he looks
like somebody who has made a decade's worth of blood sacrifices
to a witty retort machine. He sits on the floor of his bedroom,
trying to balance his budget so he can afford a mattress.
The window opens and a woman in a scat burglar suit ski-do-be-bops
through it. Lost in the realm of her impeccable scatting abilities,
she doesn't notice that someone in the room is hyperventilating.
She steals the floor and is halfway to the pawnshop before
she discovers she's committed a kidnapping. Their eyes meet,
go out for dinner and a movie, and REALLY hit it off. One
thing leads to another and the burglar's eyes gets a passing
grade on a pregnancy test. The two strangers decide to do
what's right ... and a rabbi parachutes down from the heavens
to conduct the ceremony. Afterwards the man sticks out his
tongue and bonks noses with his new bride.
four walls of a washing machine ambush him from all sides.
It completes a wash cycle, rendering him as pruny as an archetypal
witch after spending a relaxing afternoon in her cauldron.
a bungee jumping excursion with his grandson, he becomes the
first senior citizen to involuntarily urinate off the top
of the World's Largest Ball of the World's Largest Balls.
Then he executes a perfect Triple Lindy dive, which is followed
by an important safety message: "When bungee jumping,
always use a sturdy cord rather than a jungle vine ... or
this can happen to you."
vine snaps. A pickup truck transporting bowling trophies breaks
his fall. The driver never gets the chance to enjoy the spectacular
view from the incoming cliff. There's a sternum-shattering
crash, and the cliff cruises down the highway looking for
its next victim.
bird lands next to the man's broken yet still ticking body,
clutching his severed thumb in its beak ... along with a needle
and sutures. But the man is too busy with his heart attack
to comprehend that Dr. Tweety is trying to siphon funds from
his health insurance provider. And the grim reaper annihilates
him in a game of tetherball.
minutes pass and it begins again. But this time it's different.
This time, I watch from a different seat as my impatient hands
run the chainsaw through my mother's stomach.
Sands lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he edits
absurdist journal Bust
Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens. He is the
author of the novel, It Came from Below the Belt,
which is published by Afterbirth Books. He shares a birthday
with Stan Lee. Until he stopped writing comics, he was convinced
that there was a great cosmic significance considering the
fact that he was born twenty-two years before the end of the
twentieth century while Mr. Lee was born twenty-two years
after its beginning. He experienced enlightenment after walking
into a bookstore and being shocked to see his picture on the
cover of Your Four-Year Old: Wild and Wonderful.
See more of Sands and his work at www.bradleysands.com.