Excerpt from Battle #1

Here's an excerpt from "Invective," the first story in my latest fiction collection, Battle without Honor or Humanity: Volume 1. I'm happy not to provide any context.

[Name of protagonist] said, “Long ago I fell in love with a common woman. We indulged in the entire spectrum of human existence in the span of a fortnight. We spoke about everything. We enacted everything. It was a tragedy.”

Palsied, [name of detractor] replied, “I understand. Have you ever been hurled out of a commercial airliner? My father did that to me once. I wasn’t expecting it. I have been mocked before and I will be mocked again. But this business about the ‘entire spectrum of human existence’ is a red flag. ‘Life is nothing more than a sequence of painful separations.’ You said that. Those are your words. At any rate, it is my contention that those are your words. You had stormed the entresol of the P’Zhang Theatre. You had jumped onto the railing and were striding up and down it like a funambulist. ‘We are born,’ you exclaimed, ‘and the doctor takes us away from our mother. He tells somebody to give us a bath and then gives us back to our mother, and then we get taken away again, this time by our father, who wants to cuddle with us. There is a lot of back and forth at this point. Later, we are separated from our parents and sent to school. Just when we get used to school, we must go home to our parents. It’s confusing. Later, we find a woman who we never want to leave; all day long we lay in bed and fuck like banshees. But we must go to work. And then we have kids together and the cycle begins again. Do you understand?’ Something to that effect—that’s what you said. On and on you went, soliloquizing with little, if any, original energy. Your thesis was plain enough: there’s never enough time to grow roots. And yet you, sir, are an enemy of the root, as your behavior and your discourse, time and again, reify. This is not to say that I don’t respect you. Here is my curriculum vitae.” [Name of detractor] hands a c.v. to [name of protagonist]. “As you can plainly see, I have fallen into the proverbial fire pit on multiple occasions; I allowed the flames to consume my flesh, then crawled out of the pit and started again. One must always start again. It is the nature of life. New beginnings. [Name of God] would have it no other way.” Click. “I swear this gun isn’t working.” Click. Click. “This piece of shit. It’s broken.” He moved the barrel from one temple to the other and pulled the trigger again. Click. “I’m going to set the weapon aside. It has ceased to retain a purpose, even as an object of intimidation, even as [name of the Phallus]. There. It’s done. Do you have any cigars? No? Well. We must celebrate. It’s not every day that one fails so excellently to live up to one’s potential. If I may. There. Yes. Ahh. My boneless phalanges dangle into the void like fulminating counterparts. Are you aware that there is a hole in your [brand name of jeans]? Buy some new fucking [brand name of jeans]. If you think that I am spying on you, it is very likely that I am spying on you, even as I kneel before you.” [Name of detractor] kneels. [Name of detractor] realizes he is already kneeling. “My irreconcilable vigilance is doubtless the reason I have come down so hard on you this afternoon. Repairing your ‘text,’ so to speak, may ultimately be a simple matter of linguistic, and hence neurological, fine-tuning. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. The egg of the Word came before the chicken of the Brain. No. When you fall into an inverted lotus pose it frightens me; time and again I am reminded of the crabs. More to the point, I acknowledge your intuition, but do you really think you can get away with any kind of intelligent discussion of [name of discussion subject] in the absence of an invocation of Ronald Reagan? I don’t understand. I . . . Here, let me stand up now. I’m going to stand.” He stood. “There. I’m up.”