Friday, August 19, 2011

VHS by Pablo D'Stair

The following is an excerpt from VHS, a literary novel by Pablo D’Stair being released in various e-formats, absolutely free-of-charge (and in limited edition print-editions-by-part through giveaways). Information on the project, including links to what is currently available, can be found at

"all I did on my break"

On my break, I didn’t do anything but walk down to the corner, turn, get to the front of the McGruder’s supermarket, stand there, look at the soda machine for what seemed a very very very very very long time, reading the names of the sodas off of the buttons and trying to think of a way I might put them to a tune that would be celebrated and found wickedly clever by anyone who ever learned that I done it, and then went into the supermarket for absolutely no reason, this being a supermarket I had a deep disdain for because it was so grossly different from the supermarket I went to and had gone to all my life, the supermarket which had imprinted on me as Supermarket—or rather as “the market”—and I got to an aisle where shoelaces were on sale only to have it hit me that yes yes Christ God I did need shoelaces for both of my pairs of shoes but being
a dunce I’d left all my money at the store in the back room, so it was a loss and then I looked at cookies and tried to remember about some cookies I’d once had when I was a kid, distracted from this train of thought by my noticing there were women in every single aisle—every single aisle, no aisle didn’t have a woman in it—and by the fact that I could taste the back of my throat which made me think of lepers and leprosy and how lepers got shipped off someplace else and I wondered if lepers who were artists were forever seen through the pigeonhole of “leper artists,” if just because they would rot until they died and rot on more from there it would be generally considered in the critical community of whichever art they as individuals expressed that this expression of theirs was an expression “of leprosy” and then I fundamentally decided to take the point-of-view that something like leprosy would, indeed, alter everything about a person, even the abstractions they access, so a leper could not write about “love” without also writing about “leprosy”—then I found myself countering my argument by pointing out that this held the distinctly frightening implication that to express art that actually had to do with some abstract like Love or Soul or Identity one would, in fact, have to be devoid of any characteristic because otherwise this characteristic would, like leprosy, define them, be the slant of their “love”, to take just that example, though, being fair, I mentioned to myself that perhaps the beauty of art was that it could not be an expression of the abstracts—which by definition I, supposed, may or may not have any substantive definition, actually—but could only be a light shown through a filter meant to keep the light from getting to the other side and I checked the prices on beefsteak out of a vague curiosity of how much money my family spent on food when I’d been a kid, subtracting from the price of the beefsteak I looked at what I thought was an appropriate amount to account for inflation and general changes in the marketing of “meat” and particularly of “beefsteak”—I didn’t want to generalize my remembered childhood meals to just “meat” or even just “food” because that seemed ugly and personally affronting to the decisions my parents had made and which had shaped my mentality into what it was, a mentality I neither blamed them for or felt it appropriate to wholly credit them with, after all I’d been in contact with other people and the residues of even more people in the form of literature and cinema and public policy and historical evidences etc.—and then I went back out of the supermarket and was going to buy one of those soda’s from the machine but (one) there was a line for the machine I didn’t want to wait in and probably didn’t have the time to and (two) I still didn’t have my money on me and I peeked into the shop windows and the Chinese restaurant windows I passed and did a karate kick—not a Chinese thing, so I did a Kung-Fu kick, too—and then made a grimace at the overcast of the early night sky and as soon I was in the door Roscoe wanted to know if we were still honoring coupons even if they were clearly outdated by more than two years, to which I shrugged, said it would be a matter I’d contemplate and to take the customer’s name, address, and number and if I’d come up with a decision before it got to be too late to politely telephone them—also depending on where they lived in relation to the video store, because I wouldn’t want to tell them, for example “Yes we will honor the coupon” only to have them drive out to find we had closed for the night—I would call and the customer, though this wasn’t how they’d wanted things to turn out, explained that “it didn’t matter,” I agreed, Roscoe agreed and the matter ended in me shaking Roscoe’s hand arbitrarily and the customer not having enough money to rent their video without the coupon, short fifteen cents, so they said they actually would appreciate the call and would appreciate it if I made up my mind quickly, to which I said “Hey, I’ll do my best, if all goes well things’ll work out to your advantage and it might even be better that it happened this way, though only the final analysis can tell us that” and then I spent just two minutes in the back office—technically punched back in to shift—during which I made up my mind we could honor the coupon so I used the office phone to call up to Roscoe to get the customer’s number and then, without even hanging up the receiver, just resetting the phone, called and left a message with the customers young daughter that “could she tell her father it would be alright to use the coupon at the video store and that we couldn’t hold the film for him, out of fairness to others who enjoyed cinema as much as him, but since it was lousy film, actually, the chances were good it would be in when he got back” she said “Okay” but in a half awake kind of way and told me that she liked my voice and I told her that my voice was deathly attractive but not to get so excited as people might be listening and then try to imitate my voice in order to seduce her—specifically people who were very physically attractive, thinking if they had phenomenal bodies and my voice, to boot, it would a sure thing to get at her and likely convince her of their political philosophies while she was in the post sex euphoria—to which she said it was “alright”, that she “wouldn’t fall for an imitation”, but I could tell she’d taken what I’d said to mean “I have an ugly body” hung up without saying Goodbye and so I didn’t say Goodbye, either, even to myself, waited a minute until my erection had subsided enough to not be considered vulgar, calling the door stupid as I shouldered it open and went back out onto the sales floor.

No comments: