[We meet in my Subaru, in front of a strip mall]
Me: So thanks for giving me a few minutes.
CL: Ehhhhhh–AWCK! (mix of wet and dry cough, something)
Me: Right, right…so how did you like the book?
CL: Didn’t read it. What book?
Me: My chapbook.
CL: I didn’t touch your damn checkbook.
Me: Chap! Chap…You’re holding it in your hands! On stage.
CL: Oh. What? Oh I was burning books on stage, Renfro! The kids love that. I burned the bible. Burned an owner’s manual to a Saab. I burned a dinosaurus. Somebody handed me that little yellow thing, I burned it. I think a roadie was reading it, maybe Stan or TrueBlood.
Me: A dinosaurus?
CL: Words and shit, you know.
Me: You burned my book?
CL: You tell me. Like they say: if the cat do run, don’t try to catch it. Hey you mind if I smoke in here?
Me: Go ahead, I guess. If you could maybe crack the window. Hey, hey!–
Me: What’s that?
CL: Aluminum foil. An eyedropper. You said I could smoke, Renfro. What’s your problem?
Me: Ok, just hurry. Jesus. So what did the roadie think of the book then? The ones who liked it.
CL: I didn’t say he liked it. He just grabbed me while I was about to roll up that stage like a raw dog and he said, “Clo, burn this book.” So I did. Whoa…
Me: You OK?
CL: Look, I been studying Buddhist stuff, like with the red string and all that flying saucer thing with the levels. I know what that sound was. I got to go, now.
[She runs out the car, into Blockbuster. She returns.]
Me: Did you get a movie?
CL: What? No. I had to see a man about a dog, get it? You can’t assume things, Frof. Not every person leaves a hospital has a cold. I feel great right now.
Me: Good, OK. I’m glad you feel good.
CL: I said great. Hey you know why birds fly?
CL: I’ll tell you. They fly to polish glassware. To keep up their scales and measures. Like parsnip, blue bottle, hollow bone, automobile, farm. They fly to air-fuck. They fly to cow-map. You know about cow maps right? Cows as temporary perches. Navigational guides. As friends. Cow-maps require constant updating, as information changes, as cows come and go, exit the tall factories, enter the tall factories to never be seen entirely as whole again. These maps, they keep them in colorful pouches of their own devising. Them birds even fly like me, Frof, for melody. Song of breeze thru discarded straw; silent fathers long flown; sky when glass, iron, whirlpool, or bright star; cornrows, corn tassels, cornhusks; phone wires, microwave towers—sizzling hums; exhalations of held song; night crawlers crawling along. Oh they fly for video games, or I should say game. They have only one, and they are addicted. The birds calls it Sarah. A quest, a longing, for lost love. The story is told through a series of digital letters in Sarah’s hand writing, sequences of exponentially difficult logic puzzles, Birds-Eye views of locations significant to Sarah’s life, Webisodes of Sarah’s everyday existence, like, you know, screaming past mountainsides; quietly sky-writing her diary; diving recklessly into reservoirs. The finale is said to be a number of maddening obstacles: birdhouse walls, shut windows, storm-swept nights of birdshot, windmill farms, and tornadoes. But who the fuck knows? The birds play for hours, but the majority of the game is an unsolved mystery, a vague mythology. Most never even pass Level One, The Honest Letters of Sarah. No one has ever won. No one has ever found the lost love; has found Sarah. So, this is why they fly.
Me: Wow. I didn’t really know you had that inside you.
CL: (laughs) Well. I told you I feel great. You know, you’re alright for a square. I’m sorry I burned your chapstick.
Me: Oh, it’s no prob–
[She runs out the car, into Blockbuster. I wait ten minutes, a half hour. Then I just go play disc golf.]
Sweet style, brosh.