(Originally published on http://www.paradiseofstorm.tumblr.com on September 2, 2014)
by Guy Walker
You, who like a dagger ploughed
Into my heart with deadly thrill:
You who, stronger than a crowd
Of demons, mad, and dressed to kill.
Baudelaire, The Vampire
The year is 2034, and it’s another thick sudoric Sunday morning in Griffith Park. The sun hasn’t even risen above all those frantic cheerless steel erections; instead, it parts into several different begging golden rays of light, each of them shining onto the remains of the park, onto a limping pigeon or a patch of tall dead grass or a bald and frozen oak tree standing alone. There are so many seagulls, thousands of them, crazed and screaming and flying between the shadows from the buildings and the pouring stuffed morning light. They’re flying in every direction and then back to do it again; it’s like watching the old ones in the asylums run their circles. One gull with a spasm in its neck lands on a stoplight that’s all blacked out in front of Capitol Records. The seagull looks down the long soundless streets; no movement in sight except for an occasional rabid dog running across. The seagull stands there, twitching his neck, trying to remember: what the fuck is wrong with Los Angeles?He remembers there was something, and it wasn’t just the enormous buildings and the long waiting streets and the ubiquitous scent of piss. There was some sort of commotion, some big deal that went on here. He scans his memory for a second as the sun rises enough to crest the top of his head.
Birds typically have remarkable memories, many of them return to where they stored seeds months prior. Even pigeons are congratulated with modest degrees of intelligence—psychologist B.F. Skinner, along with R.P. Epstein and Robert Lanza argued in 1981 that the pigeon shows levels of self-awareness, as demonstrated in a series of mirror tests. But the seagull; the seagull has survived this Last Collapse, this human orgy of death that turned the sky all red . . . and it doesn’t even know it; it’s always been destined to survive on other’s misery, like a Dostoyevskian hero as it parades in the dying morning sky. Gulls exhibit highly complex communication systems; they are one of the only species of bird to drink salt water; they are monogamous as well as faithful; and they are single-minded kleptomaniacs, making them more human than all other winged warm-blooded vertebrates.
The gull then saw the entry of a now-abandoned convenience store it had stolen from many times before. It all came back, the memories. All the thick entropic mass of human flesh and their cars and horns and stinking teenage farts. In a flash, he saw his last nineteen years of unadulterated vapidness. All the desperate neon light buzzing in the night, all the garbage and soiled panties he’d picked through, all the women with their Botox lips shooing him away. He looked down the miles of empty hot asphalt with a sickening nostalgia for humans. How could it all have ended like this? he thought. How could they have all died so fast?
Then he glanced across the road into Griffith Park, into the deserted anhydrous landscape. He thought about all the dog owners who used to come here to walk their dogs, and bring their little doggie bags, and talk to each other about each other’s dogs and how handsome or pretty they looked. The gull knew he would miss the dog people the most—they were so rational and levelheaded.
Suddenly the gull saw a movement where the chess players used to play. A shadow leaning over one of the tables. There were two figures in total. The last two humans, the only one’s he’d seen in years, and they were playing chess in the 110 degree morning. He flew closer, careful not to be seen. There was a little boy in a chair, his feet not even reaching the ground, and he was crying. The chess game was going awful for him, it was over with for the most part, just a tragic finale was left. Across the table from him was nothing less than a female villain, a volcanic perverted form of Anahita, her nostrils flaring orange napalm, her face completely embalmed by a hundred plastic surgeons who she later killed by chopping off their penises fluttering in the silver moonlight, saving them in a mason jar to perform magic tricks with. She was skinnier than the rotting corpse of Heidi Fleiss—every time she shifted in her chair she broke another bone, but it never caused her pain, it only made her more evil, more awful and smelly. The seagull felt the inhuman chill even from this far away, but he still couldn’t tell whothe woman was, her face was down in shadow, her white acicular eyes gleaming from the dark. Then she sat up, smiling a deathless smile, the baking sun shining on her cheeks, almost melting her plastic cheeks away. And the gull finally saw who she was. It was Joan Rivers, immortal and evil as ever.
“Holy shit,” the gull said to himself. “The legend is true after all: Joan Rivers still prowls, and she must kill to stay alive.” The gull had heard about Ms. Rivers many times before, as he flew among those high chariots of madness, the other seagulls screaming that they had seen her squatting on all fours, her face plunged in the open ribcage of an old celebrity, as once was Demi Moore screaming for her mercy. Joan was never actually funny! one of the seagulls yelled as the golden light poured under his wings. She hated everything! Once she screamed that my feathers were not white enough! she threw rocks at me, her legs spread in that stained fur coat of hers!
Joan Rivers still writhes for fragments of attention, like a star-nosed mole groping blindly in the tunnels of China, trying to claim some biological purpose. Ugly creatures who roam the earth are typically pardoned because of their unwitting importance to sustain life itself. They may not be the prettiest things in the world, a reasoned biologist purports, but the rainforest couldn’t survive without it. The helmeted hornbill, the blobfish, the aye-aye, the monkfish—they may all suffer under curses of hate and deformity, but at least they plead humbly for a better more fertile world. But no one knows why Joan Rivers was created. Why? a young lascivious Pan asks himself, Why the fuck did I create this contorting monster? Not only is she uglier than the worst I made on my drunken diabolical parades of madness, she is spewing commands about yellow-speckled dresses and bombing the Gaza Strip.
Every time a Jewish woman wears an unflattering dress, Joan Rivers has night tremors. She moans in her sleep, alone, a damp wind blowing in her long white curtains, a cockroach turns and scurries the other way. “NO!” she screams as she claws her wrinkled tits, “Wear the purple one, you bitch! How! How could you do this to us!” Then she whimpers away quietly, “It’s all Mohammed’s fault. Kill them, kill them all.” Every time a barefoot Palestinian boy is blown to bits while playing on the beach, Joan Rivers gets another nose job. Every time Israel makes an advance, Joan writes a holy scripture on the bathroom mirror with her lipstick. But Joan doesn’t just hate the Palestinians, she’s after Beauty itself. She pulls down a vampire bat hanging from the shower ceiling, and bites its neck, sucking out all the blood, her bloody portal of lips and porcelain fangs gasping for more. She limps down the creaking stairs to the basement, her bulging swelling knees quivering each step she takes, her varicose veins frigid and painful and fabulous; she flips on the light, the blue florescent lights buzzing and crackling. There are hundreds of them, maybe more, younger more beautiful women than her sitting there chained together, naked, with red ball gags pulled halfway down their throats, their mascara running down their smooth bright cheeks. “Hello ladies,” she smiles and rubs her nose feverishly. “I need a new nose.” All the girls’ eyes open wide, their muffled screams try to articulate that they disagree with her. “You have all been very bad girls,” she says as she limps nearer, “Your shoes have not been matching your underwear.” Then she rips the ball gag off a shivering Jennifer Lawrence. She begs, “Ohhh! Mommy dearest! Forgive us! We did not know what you know so well! We will all be better! O please! O please don’t. Not the nose!”
What Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t know is that it’s all an illusion. None of this is actually happening to her. If she had only read a little more Descartes, she could have slept in peace. Rene Descartes wasn’t actually right about anything. His adolescent inquiries into the Cartesian cogs and springs of interstellar dust even offended the Protestants. As his students were cutting open the stomachs of live dogs, the dogs mysteriously howling in pain, Descartes told his students to “ignore their screams, it’s merely the creakings of the machine.” But Descartes was still right about one thing: his dieu trompeur, his evil demon who is “as clever and deceitful as he is powerful, who has directed his entire effort to misleading me.” It’s the evil demon who has orchestrated all this lusting waking reality, all our dreams and romances and penetrative scripture. All the fond religions, all the drunken nights, all the Einsteinian measures of intellectual progress—they all pay their debts to thedieu trompeur, the Mephistopheles of intellectualism, for it was She who made us think this life was real. She came to Descartes in a dream, a horrible Caucasian batlike woman, and she whispered in his ear, “I am Joan Rivers, therefore you are.” And Descartes woke, trembling, and began writing, scribing his famous scripture, “I think, therefore I am.” All those who think freely, she hates. Freewill is simply a demonic puppeteer with the face of a clown. It’s easier to give up now.
Back in the dusty shriveling park, the little boy has been locked in checkmate. Joan Rivers stands and metamorphoses into a human-sized bat. She spreads her wings and wraps the boy into them. The seagull knows he must fly away as fast as he can. He flies madly, nearing the golden light, the other seagulls looking at him, screaming. Suddenly, he feels a jerk, his feet are caught. Suddenly, his world turns black forever again.