Employment Evaluation During The Final Moments of Earth



                                                              ... excerpt from the novel 'Monkeyhead'

“Culturally, there has always been a connection between the divine, the infernal and the world of the dead."

          Molly paused, sighed gratefully, folded herself languorously deep into her lamb’s wool blanket. And, oh, what a great, lovely couch under me, she thought. An excellent, excellent buy. She gleamed just thinking about it and about how the colors of her living room, the shapes and textures of all its inhabitants, were brusque, joyous, and were ardent, too, in being attentive to all of her visual needs.
          She continued her recording.

“When sleep is the place they meet there is nocturnal death, a special kind, for the heart has not forced the hyper adrenaline release found in fatal night heart attack, but the chemistry that fueled the life gone now is intact and the dying is a mystery, yet it always occurs the same way and so should be solvable and understandable, but this is a peaceful death originating in the right atrium of the heart, in every case, and no doctor understands its origin, methodology or the gentleness of the aftermath, chemically, for there has been no chaos, only dying — sudden, inexplicable dying, This dying has as its mark, its absolute brand, the face of the world of the dead: a look of abject terror, the gaping mouth, the remarkable signature of this death.

But sometimes all this occurs, save death.”

          She put away the microphone and gazed at the old personnel file next to her. It had grown dog ears from her reading it over and over again, particularly the essay.
           “I must discuss this with Patty,” she whispered into her ‘blue dog’ coffee cup and its creamy brown life inside, as she flipped open the file with one hand and thumbed through it to William Dooda’s old essay, a free-association essay required of perspective death-row employees during the final selection process.
           “Oh, sure.”
           She had just recorded it’s first lines committed to memory.
           And she perused.
           On it went, its purpose two-fold: the essay was to determine if certain aspects of the applicant’s personality, considered necessary for psychologists at correction facilities, were present, for the psychologists must be capable of random, controlled illogical thought to make valid summaries of the conversations and monologues of condemned inmates asked to reminisce during final interviews, either under the influence of mild sedatives--in the event they were unwilling to reminisce to their soon-to-be-killers--or only under the influence of whichever demons or angels a heart beats to, knowing it will soon be snuffed out.  The other purpose was to determine at a date after hire if the applicant, as known, had changed in any way during his or her tenure. It was only a rough way to assess progress, or regression. Simply put, it was used to determine promotion or continuance of employment after the probationary period had lapsed.
           Molly smiled at the blue dog dancers, her comfy feet like in heaven ... new knee-high socks ... and read on

Shamans. These flutter, like in water for walking upon, vow promises of circadian rhythms to come, and hover in tribal myth-like firmament, same as medicine dogmas our modern bodies ride like ponies, but die from causes our culture demands torments be made of;  for these our shamans have blessed.

Skin walkers. These wander the patient fields where our houses never used to be, and so go through them, and always at night to search out tender, melancholy destinations which always are where we stand shielded from the night’s musculature and its eggs with fierce things inside.

We have the thickness of shoes, and cannot remember anything, anyway, although slaughtered land and patient, wild, wildflower seeds wait for pouncing winds to grasp them and lay them down where our cows shall have eaten us whole one day.

Bees sense this, are yellow hellions and the gleeful, highest scavengers of all.

           Molly sat the file down and leaned back into the soft depths of her comfy chair. “Oh sure.”
           She shifted her back into the soft, snugly pillows, arranged just so, and plied her feet together and deeper into giant, endless virginity her new socks. “There is nothing finer than new knee-high cotton athletic socks,” she sighed, staring at the file.
           “Oh nothing here is like William at all.” She continued reading.

Wolves know things we used to be that we shall not remember to be again before our cows eat us whole, except for some of you who do and have, and so the wolves hang around and walk with discernment near all humans, for they cannot determine which to take first, before all the rest.

            She sat up with a start, alarmed.
           “No. This is not William’s.” Molly scowled and flipped the page. “I must discuss this with Patty. Oh sure.”

Morticians. These know the facile innocence of children, its sham. Their trade brings them up close. Some know why souls have fled, yet know that only then does the worm consider you worth its while. What terror had kept the worm at bay, much to your relief? Morticians have a low suicide rate, as though close proximity to corpses reveals to them the utter redundancy of self-murder. Others simply pray there is no God. None ever look for another trade.

A lovely thing it is to be, indeed, born a natural mortician.

They are happy, tender and joyless. Some of them never die. Those that do, leave no wake in their absence.

           “No.” Molly shook her head. She stared at the ceiling. “This is not Wiliam.”
           He worked as a technician in a mortuary at one time, before attending college, but this is not William’s, she mused, yet the surveillance cameras in the personnel section had clearly shown that Dr. William Dooda had composed the paper during the hour of allotted time, shortly before he was hired three years prior.
           “Something has been added to him, somehow.”
           Molly scowled and flipped the page. “Patty will find this interesting. Oh sure.”
           On it went.

Lunatics. Why are they? Have they simply grasped the primal chaos of randomness in a way that distinguishes them from the inelegant, roughshod simplicity of utter madness?

Failure to yawn the yawn.

One night you may be awakened by the need to breathe. You do not understand if you have never awakened unable to yawn the yawn, the yawn that demands yawning of you the way the birth of a sneeze insists you were born with a nose, and that now, right very now, is the time for you to use it.

When you can’t yawn the yawn, you can’t actually get enough air to maintain homeostasis. Entropy begins and the galaxies, their blankets of firmament and elemental things, turn their attention to you and demand you perform so they can get on with their business of universal plasmatic revolution. But if you don’t have a nose, or are a quadriplegic unable to muster even involuntary muscles....

This is often referred to as a panic attack. You perceive your skin does not protect you from the outside things, but, instead keeps you inside, trapped there like a slug on a hook over water where snapping fish, hungry ones, wait for you. Your muscles beneath are revealed to you for what they are: insulation, big hands holding you further inside. You begin, piece of skin by piece of skin, to determine that being skinned alive would get the clogged air filters open again. This, the musculature of night, begins to lay eggs with fierce things inside. These fierce things are the primal knowledge of chaos. That primal knowledge is simple horror.

You try to grasp the string of instants by which you never came to be exquisite. But you cannot fight your way out. You seek a way to do it.

How much tissue should be removed?  You begin to estimate and become feverish inside, begin to walk though your house. All colors dim. Music that you remember grows distinctly tone deaf. Thoughts loose their hold upon you and beyond these you learn for the first time that there is no firmament that will allow you to pilot through it, no skin, no service, unless you bring it close up to your face like a satin coffin lining. Then the struggle begins, for you shall bring the firmament close in order to break through into any cool, long draught of air that might lie behind: deep, pointless inhalation of useless drabness drives home bliss and desperation cloying together like matted blood and the simple facts.

These simple facts are: god is not benign or caring in any recognizably predictable or poignant way, for there is hell, and either might offer relief, yet both are remorselessly unavailable.

The only release from this realization is suicide as the only way out of the bag. The horror of it is that you are the bag within the bag.

           “It is in William Dooda’s handwriting, though.”
            Molly shifted her weight.
           “Why would he memorize something this long. We throw the essay at them as a surprise. They don’t know its coming.”
          She continued reading, bewildered at how William could have written this in such a short period of time and in such an unhurried, almost maniacally perfect script.

A panic attack does not occur in a suicidal person, for such a person need not any longer suffer realization of the firmament in its chaotic, linear randomness. A panic attack occurs in a person who does not want to die, but suspects that is the only possibility of escape from the confines of the bag within, that being the body of the soul itself. Upon realization that the body itself is closing in and has the effect of suffocating you just as surely as a fish drowns in the ocean of air, you so yearn for more and more each second, the more you realize for the first time that it is just beyond your skin. You begin to hate this obstacle, immovable object, and your need, irresistible force — you begin to hate that, too.

          “Oh, sure.” Molly stared into the blue dog. “Oh, sure.”

The desire for life remains stronger than the desire for relief, or suicide happens, or to be more accurate, suicide does not happen; it is something you do to yourself: not the suicide cancer inspires in its throbbing poetry along firing nerve synapses a physical brain can no longer bear or receive, yet flowing freely not to be denied.  Nor  is it that of a bereaved lover who has, over a number of years, made the fatal error of performing alchemy upon the flesh and bones of a dearly departed loved one. These suicides might actually bring some sort of relief by merely being an option. Yet when no other exchange is available other than that of one unbearable dismay for another, madness is grown in the brain to provide a release, such as catatonia, or its sweet, little sister, amnesia.

Manic depressives will happily tell you all about how this works when they come out of their catatonia, if they come out, and pass from that into their manic phase where all is well, exceedingly, exceedingly well, if not downright alarmingly well. That’s when they talk their heads off. Later, when brain chemistry can no longer sustain this machine gun firing of synapses, the depressive phase takes over, and well, that’s when they may have discovered they cannot yawn, and what’s more, may have discovered anew, and they discover anew over and over and are completely incapable of tearing this thought away, that they cannot yawn.

There is a thing within my skin I cannot divulge. It is a child, a red and shiny monster which I know and have found to be controllable, in a curious way. It is not unlike the yawn that cannot be yawned.

This we cannot treat with drugs, although we do. We cannot stave this realization, or fantasy, or whatever clinical term, or non clinical term, we apply to it. This need for air, overrides everything. The brain will not allow its own obliteration through suffocation anymore than it will allow the manic phase of depression to continue without a response such as catatonia.

Yawn denial — failure to yawn the yawn is utter desolation. Laugh, you, laugh, until the lustre comes for you. This is how the psyche becomes a shape shifter — to avoid death.

My child within my skin has told me so.

           “No, something is terribly wrong.” Its lustre. The speed with which it must have been written. Molly leaned upright and set the blue dog cup down. It clinked. She was suddenly startled as she stared out the window.
           A sudden flash covered the entire sky, but she missed its nanosecond of duration, although its brilliance would have been subliminally noted by that portion of her brain she used to store unashamed fantasies inside. It would have appeared crimson-yellow to her, although to the neighbor’s dog huddled inside its heated potty house, it appeared green-red.
           The dog whined. It curled up more tightly and was content in its own body warmth. The cat that glared mirth at the dog from inside the neighbor’s kitchen window, noted a pink nanosecond had blown across the sky. The cat blinked and glared more mirthful hatred at the dog, for it is well known that all cats hate the planet earth, for it is said that they have their own and are stranded here, and so its demise is of no interest to any cat that ever lived, for cats are not linear thinkers, as are dogs, the race of which this particular cat hated with a trueness born of sheer depth.  The cat hated no other thing in creation, none, more than whatever dog it beheld, or any dog, and this dog this cat beheld was hated, purely, truly and marvelously hated. The cat glanced up into the snow night sky, blinked, tilted its head in surprise, and, for the first time in its existence, mourned.
           Molly continued gazing outside as the flash slowly dimmed. She glanced at the file, and a thought occurred to her.
           “Oh, I missed that, first time around.”
           She picked up the file and held it in front of her....'psyche becomes shape shifter to avoid death.’
           Then, for the first time, she noticed the length of the essay.
           It was approximately twice as long as any other pre-employment essay that she had ever read, and the letters were perfectly formed, the words and sentences easy to make out.
           “Odd.” No sense of rush here, she thought. “Oh sure, I missed that, too.” The plodding, easy all-day sense of it. She rotated her head on her neck, listened to the tiny scrunching noises this caused directly beneath her head. Relaxation spread into her shoulders. “God.” Time for some music. “Oh sure.”
           She closed her eyes. “Time for Juliet Roy Rogers.”
           Molly loved violin music; in fact, she loved all strings as well as all woodwinds. Wood received human breath and the bow in a special way she could not understand but truly loved. She pressed the remote control and waited for the notes of her very favorite musician, Juliet Roy Rogers. Patty had introduced her to the new sensation, apparently considered to be some sort of quick study genius.
           Molly caressed the blue dog cup with her right hand and let the file bend onto her lap as Juliet Roy Rogers  sent a melancholy glow into the air. Molly sighed, and thought to herself,  I must get Patty to see if there is still a copy of the video we have of Dr. Dooda writing this essay.
          Video tapes involving interactions with prisoners were saved for five years, usually.   Tapes of interactions with potential employees were something else altogether. She just didn’t know, but if a tape of William writing his essay could be found — and it would exist entirely by oversight, as most such tapes were simply copied over as soon as it was convenient to do so — she was certain the results would be interesting.
           She waited for the music of Juliet Roy Rogers to completely overcome what nervous energy Dr. Dooda’s essay had created in her.
           “Oh, sure.” She sipped more coffee. “Oh, sure.”
           After awhile, Molly read on, but allowed the wind and rain of Juliet Roy Rogers to impel her mind through the sentences. She had always read to music, and especially this kind of music, to ease compilations of data into her unwilling but experienced brain, allowing these notes before her, about William Dooda, which seemed to her to want to find their ways beyond the walls of her apartment and plow deeply into the snow, the way Captain Nemo’s ship-ramming sub Nautilus had submerged full-tilt speed, bright, yellow windows of light turning green as the deep night sea took it like a lover on its way to mayhem and murder and glorious destinies...
           “Oh, sure.  Oh, sure,” she mumbled, then slurped from the blue dog cup. Her mind was wandering, and she was glad that it was. She closed her eyes and followed Juliet Roy Rogers into a lovely bright, note-night of melancholy, spider-webbed emeralds.
           Her fingers loosed their hold on the folder’s manila skin like stems pulling away from shade, gradually, and into new light, for she had read the last of the essay many times, now, but Juliet Roy Rogers was, well, quite indeed, endlessly endless collections of all exquisite things like childbirth, yet painless, and as beseeching.
           She sat up suddenly. She had to finish so she could relax with more of the music. She grabbed the file and held it up to her face with determination.  She read on, unaware, as most humans, of a growing tumult outside her window beneath and above the snow as the smallest insect shuddered and remained still within defensive postures, and cats, dogs, lions in jungles, and their subjects, spun and lay still, trembling. Even raptors and vultures descended to huddle together, many for the first time in their existence.

Doctors do not understand the etiology of this disorder. That’s why they don’t talk about it or consider it to be anything but the raving of lunatics, when they come across it, which it indeed does become, although the raving itself is nothing more nor less than reporting of real data.

Until we understand the difference between real data and what is in our own limited, educated brains, we shall not find cures.

Lunatics are illusions. Its the rest of us who are mad. We don’t know that, though, which is what makes us mad, you see, or that we are frightfully happy, so, like trees changing color, we do not have realization of the exact moment we became mad, not the clear-as-a-bell way those we label ‘disturbed’ or ‘insane’ know it. Its the not knowing that makes us sane. We can cure no thing.

We only become melancholy and say existentialist things to ourselves, hoping we didn’t really say those things to ourselves, but believing that we have no other choice than to have some sort of life of the mind, paltry and depressing as it becomes. We only know that we aren’t insane and we do not feel frightfully happy, though we live off the residue of that which we ignore.

But, mad we are, nonetheless. We stave off entropy that way, we think, but only enhance its continuum, its steady, swaggering pace. Like the bow of a titanic vessel upon a smooth, windless sea, it plows the essence of our time away and the droplets within evaporate and so time just becomes less, less, less.

The child within my skin, the red, shiny monstrous child, tells me so.

We do not understand that entropy IS homeostasis.

Dream states often follow us up through our first waking moments. They cling to our brains and follow, intrude into our sleepy, new day consciousness for a moment or two when they do this. For a moment or two they cloak us, and we do not know the difference between what we have dreamt and what we have become, namely, just us again.

We do not reveal these moments to others, not fully, but in giggling dismay, the better to make light of some things, eh, for we know that were these mysterious and rare waking moments to extend and overwhelm us, and become our actual awareness, that we would be enlightened or will have become schizophrenics, for the chemistry of the brain once altered through this clash with awakening within receding dream states, need not necessarily follow us to where we had usually gone.

To awaken mad, and knowing that we have, in this there is a moment of decision to go there, or home again. Listen, listen. These decisions are final.

So we flat line. Homeostasis is wise, yes?

That’s why I would make a very good interviewer of the condemned.


William Dooda

           “Oh, sure,” she breathed a tiny, sort-of, snore. “We may have to let him go.”
           The snowflake blanket beyond the tall, slender panes of glass her blue dog cup was not dissimilar to, but for pigments and firing of kilns, and her drooped eyelashes which flickered momentarily,  wavered in a quick little gust of wind, jiggled and made lines into itself as though a little snow god played chase games with brethren beneath its moon-sparkle skin. 
           Cat streaked across it towards distant trees, and beyond.
           Dog began to howl with a broken heart, for all dogs love their true masters.

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excerpt from novel 'Monkeyhead'
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