Monthly Archives: December 2011

Excerpt from Remembrances of Harvey: a look at the man behind the mask

I don’t think Harvey was initially a bad person. He certainly didn’t think he was, and he probably had good intentions…at first.

I guess it started, like everyone else, with childhood. It was a job sifting through the bullshit he spouted off by the gross. A few nuggets of truth here or there. His father was a salesman, mom never wanted to be a housewife, went through a lot of dogs growing up, all shit that was verifiable; but then he would go off onto these tangents you knew were never real and never could be real and you felt so…bad  for him. Even when he wouldn’t stop. They were always about him averting some great disaster or being the descendant of royalty or having some rare talent. The kind of wistful lies a kid tells himself when he has no sense of importance in the world.

Worked on the ladies, too often, even. I think nine out of ten lays were pity fucks. The tenth would be Maryanne.

Maryanne. I wonder how he took it, how he really reacted to her death. Under all the armor and inflated ego. I bet he cried. He cried like a little boy. Only way he ever could. He was only ever on top of the world or utterly shattered.

He never did well in school, Harvey. I would just kind of stare with openmouthed amazement as he told me about how close-minded, authoritarian pea-brains had infiltrated academic society at its core, and they had their sights set on crushing such a challenge to the system.

I learned better when Frank, you know, Frank DuBois, the guy they grabbed and left out in the desert? He quit being Harvey’s study buddy. He was a good student, got places (not that it did him much good in the end) but three semesters in he called it quits and I got to learn why.

Harvey was the kind of dreamer that was poison. Things should just be fantastic, all day, every day. No one should have to work for anything, a switch should flip and suddenly life turns amazing.

You can imagine the state his sentence structure was in.

He would try to argue me out of corrections. I tried explaining to him that even if I conceded that yes, periods go outside quotations and you can spell quiet without the ‘e’, his professors weren’t buying it. Then he would try bargaining with me, then wheedling, and then sulking. I think I finished a few of his assignments for him, just to avoid dealing with it. You see how well that worked out.

I have to clarify right here and now that that man has no kind of doctorate of any kind, medical or otherwise. What he did to those people is wrong, pure and simple, and I won’t deny it. He was good at making you feel bad for him, Harvey, but then it went away and you were left with this miserable little lump of hate.

He left school when Jenny Acker made that accusation against him. Poor Jenny. Pretty Jenny. All she ever did was exist too close to him. Remember I said he thought he just deserved things by virtue of wanting them? Jenny learned that the hard way. I wonder what he told Maryanne, how he spun it so he was the victim yet again.

She was in South Cali, last I heard of her. Did okay for herself.  Founded a pottery school, dead of a stroke around ’85. Sweet girl. Only sin was being too nice. Of course, that’s not how Harvey felt. I was the ear he bent afterwards, when he decided how all women really were. I’m not the most progressive guy around, but it was enough to make you sick to hear the bile he spewed.

Yes, I heard those reports, too. Couldn’t keep his hands out of the cookie jar, could he?

His ma was an early starter, married at fifteen, ancient by twenty. His dad had to’ve had at least a decade on her, maybe that’s how he felt things always should be. I don’t know when he started sugarcoating it with all that new age bullshit, that the woman was really fulfilling her potential by being “available” 24/7 to any man she knew.

Like I said, enough to make you sick.

He never went after me like Frank, hell, after a certain point I never even saw him in person. But oh, I got the calls. And the letters when the lawsuits started piling up. I don’t know what lot I pulled to enjoy such good fortune, but he would pour his heart out to me as long as I pretended to listen. That was Harvey. Talked at you more than to you.

I don’t think the drugs started him down a bad road. I think he was already on the road, the drugs just moved things along a little faster.

Liked his drugs, Harvey did. I saw the printout NY Times did of Maryanne’s chart around the time she’d metastasized. Whatever she was feeling, if she was feeling, at that point I bet it wasn’t pain. Never looked into it too hard, but I bet his father was a dope user. Addictive personalities, genetics, and all that.

I stopped being his confessional around ’75. At that point I’ve got kids, first accusations flying, I tell him there’s no way I condone what he did and he needed to leave me out of it.

A man comes to my house about a week later while I’m out at work. I don’t know how he found me, but he says he’s from Mercy United and he’s here to give my wife her monthly checkup. Barb’s a diabetic, see. But she smells something off right away. His uniform’s not fitting him too well, like it was tailored for someone else, and his bag is the old hospital kind. But he’s such a confident talker it isn’t long before my wife lays on the sofa and puts her arm out.

Thank god for nosy old broads, though, because Nancy from a few doors in pops her head in the door and asks to borrow a cup of something. Barb, kind soul that she is, pops up immediately to fetch something for Mrs. Busybody. The orderly gets nasty, orders her back on the couch, even calls her fat. Barb is kind, don’t get me wrong, but that shit just does not fly with her. Calls the man a few four-letter words, tells him she’ll report him to his supervisor, and that’s what gets him. Suddenly he’s all smiles and bows, there’s no need to report him, he’ll just excuse himself. Leaves his bag behind. After we call and establish he wasn’t connected to the hospital, we rifle through it.

You know that creeping feeling you get, when you’re pulling on the tail end of something that goes deeper than it should? We took syringes out of there, bottles filled with god-knows-what. Not a medical man, but I know damn sure lysergic acid isn’t a medical treatment for DB. We turned the whole thing over to the police and we sued. Oh boy, how we sued.

Trouble was, we weren’t the first. I think that’s why he got extradited and all that legal mumbo-jumbo for “on the lamb” gets tossed around. Only wrote him one letter, not even sure he got it, but it was short and to the point. Hey fucker, it said, you go after my family again there’s nowhere on earth you’ll be able to hide. Count on it, mama’s boy.

Like it? I think the mama’s boy was a nice touch. He didn’t like to be reminded he wasn’t the third coming of Crystal Jesus or somefuck like that, guess that’s why he bulldozed his old house. You’ve probably seen it. Center for Harmonic Wellness. Or, as the city knows it today, the ugliest god damn paperweight you’ll ever see.

I wonder if they found dog bones when they were laying the foundation for that place.


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RE: Mr. Hammond

To: the employees of Nifty’s Coffee, 1st floor

RE: Mr. Hammond

ATTN all employees:

It has come to our attention that a few of you have been having problems with garbage detail, so I will restate this in memo form:

DO NOT open the side door, back door, maintenance door, fire escape door, 1st floor bathroom window, 2nd floor bathroom window, or engage the exhaust fans when Mr. Hammond is in sight.

Mr. Hammond DOES NOT know any of your relatives, alive or dead. He never served with your father, did not date your mother, and whenever your grandparents died, I’m quite sure he was not present.

DO NOT make eye contact with Mr. Hammond. If he should appear before the double-front doors, alert a senior staff member to the situation, keeping Mr. Hammond in sight at all times by his  reflection in a carafe. Nifty’s Coffee and by extension CitiCorp are exempt from all responsibility should you choose to disobey. (and no whining, check your employee waivers)

If you are outside when a sighting is made, make your way carefully to any nearby trash receptacle and seek shelter. DO NOT offer Mr. Hammond a cigarette should he ask for it, and for the love of all that is holy DO NOT offer to light it for him.

If Mr. Hammond pays a compliment to any individual body part, IMMEDIATELY run said part under cold water if possible, and enlist the aid of a fellow employee to douse it with the “special” fire extinguisher. You know the one. Failing that, a bath of 50% nondairy creamer/50% caustic soda should stave off any ill effects until you can be attended to. DO NOT substitute dairy for this process. If creamer is unavailable, the spittle of a windblown virgin may be substituted. (this means YOU Kevin)

Cleaning shifts will be done in pairs from now on, preferably by twins, preferably by identical twins. Should Mr. Hammond make off with your sibling, Nifty’s Coffee will compensate with up to two week’s paid personal leave. Any employee suspected to be harboring fetus in fetu will be asked to leave immediately.

If any dairy dispenser should spontaneously fill with blood and/or human bile, simply empty it into the nearest sink and get an empty from behind the counter. DO NOT contact the health department, at least until the agent who touched Mr. Hammond stops vomiting bees.

Finally, and this should really be unnecessary by now, Mr. Hammond must never be let inside. Ever. Fully ¾ of the Wik ‘r Basket across the street is uninhabitable, and we at Nifty’s would like to keep up our proud tradition of quality coffee and low 34% employee mortality rate.

Remember, if you feel yourself becoming sympathetic to his plight in any way, or start hearing voices in your head that do not belong to you, we at Nifty’s are here for you. Don’t be afraid to approach us with any problems/queries/hellish visions of the future, at any time. Discount any feelings of empathy arising towards Mr. Hammond because, whatever he was, Mr. Hammond is no longer human.

Thank you and please forward any questions about paychecks to Barb before 5:00.

—The Management

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The Irrational Sonata

The sonata’s official length is 3:14. Three minutes and fourteen seconds. Upon first hearing, that is the time it will cease playing. On the second listening, few notice much difference. Here or there people will notice a note out of place, an extra beat where there was none before. It is only upon the fourth or fifth listen that the listener will notice any change. There will be entire bars of music unheard of before, usually laughed off as “I wasn’t paying attention.”

The song repeats. It will get gradually longer, around twenty reiterations it will include an entire orchestral section, around the forties there will be vocal parts. The player (digital or otherwise) does not waver from its insistence that the song is only three minutes and fourteen seconds. The counter, when looked at, will seemingly be unwinding at a normal speed, but every glance picks up where the other left off. A listener may look away for four “minutes” with only ten real-time seconds passing in between. The song must stop when the counter reaches zero, however, so theoretically watching the song counter would make the sonata conform to its intended length. The strange nature of the sonata seems prepared to defend against this, however, as listeners will often insist on hearing it “just one more time” in order to make sure that they haven’t made a mistake in hearing. They do not appear aware of previous requests, the lacuna specific to the piece makes it feel as if each time is only the second or third.

The first alarming change comes on the sixty-fourth repeat, exactly. Where the music was in simple four/four timing, now it may change to a highly irregular time signature, sixteen/two or twenty-one/nine. The listener may begin complaining of strange visuals, though it does not seem unusual to them that the piece should have visual accompaniment.

Around the eighty-first repetition, listeners will begin to complain about “the show” being too incomprehensible/explicit, etc. When asked to describe the scene, the listener will give a series of logarithms rather than actual description. Into the lower hundreds, subjects begin to lose voluntary motor control.

No repeats past 240 have been allowed.

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