Literature is made upon any occasion that a challenge is put to the legal apparatus by conscience in touch with humanity.—Nelson Algren
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER EIGHT: PART FIFTEEN: THE FALL
Cool Slopp–nobody knew his real name, he was a yellof as kept such gen close to his sleeve–was the boss fence and ace pawnbroker in all of Noxtown as specialized his trade in the old neighborhood of Stone’s Throw. It was an old name as grew up with the country; so called because once upon a time it was at the far limits of the city boundaries and was the rubble strewn quarry where cons built the city penitentiary. It was also a stone’s throw from the police barracks, the old brewery, and the potter’s field. The city grew up all around it and just sorta swallered it up sometime in the early 1800s, so I’m told, when the grand panjandrums still wore tricorn hats and buckles on their shoes and still sported powdered wigs, if I ain’t mistaken. Flea havens, those wigs. Hence the saying, you cannot crush a flea with one finger. Best way to get ’em is to use the fingernails. Just as the best way to cotch a dopey fly a crawlin’ on your face a feastin’ on morsels near your lips is to reach out with your hand and grab ’em and crush em–not waste energy tryin’ to chase ’em around…wait your turn and Mister Busy Busy Buzzer will fly right into your trap…but I ramble. Folks as ramble, them’s the ones the butchers cut down. Society is a ramble. Society ain’t restful. You could live a long and happy life without people, but you’d go stir-nutty. It’s a long way to be happy. People need people, but people and their associated troubles kin be the death of you. Close, but not too close–that’s the watchword.
I know I ain’t talking sense, Yob, but maybe there’s a sense that lies beyond our senses in such rambling talk, I don’t know. The pain is awful. Palaver is sometimes the best medicine. Only look at my own worn-out rags. Have you ever seen such a terrible sight? That’s what becomes as those who scorn to lay a treasure trove aside.
Nobody ever accused Cool Slopp of failing to be a prudent man. He was in long-ago youth a blond and laughing giant, but had grown careworn with years of greed and treasuring up other people’s plunder. He was quite a drinker back in the olden days and had his nose broke in barroom brawls on more than one occasion. He had been a sailor at one time–a man of the world–knew every low trick in the book–a nat’cherl born skunk–shipped out on the merchant marine–lost his papers in a drunken brawl–took his tiny grubstake and set himself up as a pawnbroker. All the features of his leathery face seemed to come to a peak at his nose. His brow was high and wrinkled and he looked as if he had almost no chin. With his beaky snout and his bald head with feathery patches of dead-white hair he looked like a vengeful eagle. He grew smaller and smaller over the years as he hunched over his loot. You might say the richer he got, the more he shrivelled up. But he was always a companionable man, full of talk if you struck him the right way, not like your greedy miser of yore. He always had money, and he spent it when he felt like it, but his vices were few. He didn’t drink no more, ner ever gamble, ner chase after women. But he drank about fifty cups of coffee per day, and he smoked rollies from the time he woke up from the time he went to sleep. Those hours were few, as though to sleep would be to leave his gelt unguarded, and so he would wake in the middle of the night and roll himself a fag and sit there gloating over his pelf–or so I imagined.
He kept a little pawnshop called Slopp Brokers with the sign of the three golden balls. It was on a muddied street with worn cobblestones as never smelt a whiff of asphalt, off in one of the neglected by-streets of the main drag. It was the corner shop of a big warehouse where, known to but a few, he stored his vast holdings. Mostly what you saw in his shop was the junk–the threadbare coats of starving ar-teests, the shabby duds of filthy tramps, and here and there in a display case some rubbishy jewelry–a gold ring prised from off’n the clawed finger of a croaked beldame, a gold-plated bracelet with a worn inscription, a thingumybob silver necklace and crucifix with a broken clasp torn off from the fat neck of an superstitious old Mammy so her thug grandson could buy some wonderful asthma powders.
I would run errands for the old rogue; fetch his coffee and ‘baccy because he was a hunched and suspicious man who seems as though he never wanted to leave his shop. When poor freezing Yellofs staggered in during a gale breeze and stomped the remnants of a blizzard off their poor rotten shoes to pawn or even sell outright their poor torn greatcoat for pennies–and precious few at that–he would stare at them suspicious like, as though they had a mind to rob him, rather than the other way around. Not him for the social ramble–the poor stiffs as came in to beg his favors was received with all the munificent scorn of a crookback nobleman addressing a peasant–the pennies left his claws and were dropped into a shivering starveling hand with the slow patience of the hands of time–drip, drip, drop–but when some big time crook came looching in with fingers all a- drip with swag, then Cool Slopp would straighten up to his full height and talk turkey, man to man. It’s the way of men the world over—them as has will be treated as though they got to have more, and them as is unlucky enow to have not will be given the old bum’s rush.
MISSION OF BURMA WERS 21 SEPT 1980
BANK OF AMERICA CUSTOMER ABUSE SECRETS
THE OMNISCIENT COUNCIL OF VAGUENESS
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
6* DAILY UTILITY
WHO LOSES IN A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?
ESSA Environmental Stimulation Sensitivity Assessment
FACEBOOK OUTS INVISIBLE USERS
MORE TOWNIE NAMES
Harry the Spoon
Jack the Bunker
Fuzza (slept in the village ice house)
Handsome the Barber
The Count Village Barber
Frank ‘Stubby’ Scungio
Anthony ‘Buffy’ Ferri
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
You will hurt the old man’s eye. I have found the drunkard’s paddle. We have passed the European’s grave. I see the white ashes of a great fire. They are burning the deaf man’s pine-apples. The chief’s slaves took the fisherman’s paddles. The slave’s knee struck the stranger’s eye. They have hidden the canoe’s sail. The mangouste has bitten the child’s armpit.
Our chief has destroyed your plantation. The Europeans have cut their cocoanut leaves. His arrow struck my neck. Your slave girls took my frying pan. The old man wants my amulet. Your boil [is] large. You will take our perfumes. I shall leave your carriage. You [pi.] will hate our flies.Our agreement is not yet ended. My blister is not your boil.
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE. 713.
THE FRIENDS OF EXTINCTION
The Friends of Extinction, and our Children’s Auxiliary, The Sunshine and Lollipops Guild, is a Rainbow Tribal Gathering where People Who Need People Are the Luckiest People In the World. (Crabs, Grouches, Gloomy Gusses, Pesssimists, Naysayers, Channel-Turners and Lardasses need not apply.)
Madport may be just a picture-postcard Hamlet blown up to poster-size; a pint-sized burg with a big-league attitude, but that don’t mean the Jukes and the Kallikaks can’t all sit down at the same table and maul the flatware and gum their inedible vittles and drink themselves into a slack-jawed stupor as they stare vacantly at the hole in infinity and attempt in vain to twiddle their non-opposable thumbs.
What I mean to say, Pard, is Come On Down, Pilgrim, and Join the Party–We Got a Lot of Friendly People and We Hope You’ll Like Every One.
Just because some of us are Negroes and some of us are Oafs and some of us are fourth-generation Greasers with a mad on against the world, don’t mean we can’t all get together and grope at each other’s fundaments and make real-friendly-like with that freckle-faced redheaded Pixie Sprite who’s, like, really “into” the Ecology and wants all of us to like, stop killin’ the whales.
Likety-like, herez what we believe:
Play Well With Others!
Food, Not Bums!
Can’t We All Get Along?
Listen: the FOE is all about integrity. Once you can market that, you’ve got it made, Chief.
The temporarily permanent, non-spatial, everywhere-is-noplace HQ of the Friends of Extinction is located in the deepest part of the woods on the edge of Holly Park, where the flowers are in bloom. Take the Indian trail to the cardboard box, bear right at the old mattress, follow the blue blazes until you reach the burned-out wooden shack right upside of Hobo’s Ridge, and You Are There. (Nota bene: Though this be our special hidey-place where we used to go to drink Dad’s Bourbon, that don’t mean we ain’t willing to meet at your house, when YOUR Dad is away, and drink HIS bourbon!)
The Friends of Extinction is a zoovie non-juried space wherein brothaz and sistaz and all our udder peeps can meet and and greet and be supportive of one another and get baked and play drums on old coffee cans and recite way-out poems and tell non-offensive earth-friendly jokes and all like that. Like, get this:
Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: International Bankers!
Haw Haw Haw! The Friends of Extinction is fixin’ to build us a network of like-minded original thinkers whose home away from home is everywhere and nowhere. For the Present will someday be the Past and the Future Now is truly merely the past of the Eternal WOW.
On the lam of God? Running away from your obligattos? Shake the stones from your shoes and set a spell. Summertimes we like to meet by the old stone windmill down by the breakwater in Smug harbor; in the Fall our HQ is the sub-basement of the deserted Pumping Station in Cruikshank; in the Winter we meet at the Peaceful Coexistence Coffee Shop just over the border from Nob Hill, and in the Spring is when we observe the mystikal rite of St. Patrick & Beltane, which is why we meet in the thickets of Holly Park like our patron forebears who believed in gnomes, kobalds, and outdoor fucking–not necessarily in that order.
We join together with udder Peeps from all over the world, whenever they want to come and mooch off our one-world hospitality because a smile is just a turned-on frown. Also, it’s always good for a High Plains Drifter to have friends in High places, if you get my drift, and et cetera.
Hey–listen–you can have your own club! We don’t care! Everything is Everything! All we ask is that you use our symbol, FOE, in all your posters and stuff that you wheat-paste around town to promote your concert or party or event or just to cause trouble. Here are some of musical groups who are our affliates:
THE HAUNTED DRUNKS
SISTERZ OF SAPPHO
THEE KORNHOLE WRANGLERS
DAUGHTERZ OV ROXALENA
THE DSM IV
THE NEURASTHENIC NOMADZ
EPPUR SI MUOVE
THE THIRD ZIMBARDO
THEE IMMORTAL JELLYFISH
CHILDREN OF THE BROKEN SKYLINE
THE SQUARECROWS OF TIANANMEN SQUARE
THEE OKKULT REVOLVERZ
THEE NOSTAGIC PROPHETS
THE HONEY PEEPERS
If you’re in a band or even if you just like to pretend like you’ve got your own “band” then why not send us your flyers and we will send you our flyers and we can post them around town until THE MAN is forced to acknowledge us!?
Therefore, send us your flyers!
Become part of the FOE!
The FOE is your FRIEND!
And someday–SOON!– the whole world will be surrounded by FOEs!
COMING THIS BELTANE!
THEE ICE CREAM SOLDIERS
THE TAO OF RUNNING IN PLACE
THE PSYCHOPHRENIC GODS
BIG MISTER SUNSHINE
TIME AND PLACE TO BE ANNOUNCED!!!!