about the author

Samuel M. Moss is from Cascadia. He has work published or forthcoming in Nightscript V and Vastarien. He is the author of the chapbook Rural Information (Rockwell Press Collective, 2014) and cohosted Hespera, a quarterly reading series in Minneapolis concerned with the distant and ineffable. Currently he travels between, lives on, and writes within North American public wilderness land. More at perfidiousscript.blogspot.com and on Twitter @perfidiousscri2.

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Two Flashes  

Samuel M. Moss

Drug Lung

He knew nitrous. Thirty seconds bliss. Slipped and soaking in that wood home with his cans: cool, calm, correcting. Sexless. Time passing in hurdy-gurdy jerks, perking up for a minute. Right after breakfast. Each time: déjà vu with the sprawling city’s arms afield and akimbo.

‘HELP ME’ cut in big letters on the portalet door. Someone said Hippie Mike put acid on the toilet paper. He wiped furiously but never felt anything. Mike grad’ed years ago but: staid in town, did nothing, drank with Juniors down at the dike. Pontificated on tired what-ifs and such like.

Drank so much caffeine once that everything hurt. Whole body, mind and soul. He knew not to do it anymore but couldn’t help it. Built pipes out of bamboo and broadwood. Dip spit in Coke cans. Dumped on some weak kid’s head. Joke hadn’t landed though he’d thought it funny.

Saturday nights with binaural beats. Those were supposed to get you high too. Twenty bucks wasted on this one kid’s mom’s Mastercard. Nothing happened, ‘cept Dean had laughed so hard he pissed himself. Dean always did stuff like this. Like in the last three weeks: Dean done and asleep, Valiumed into magic marker’s vellum. Skin washed so clean nothing kept. Do you want to try this pen? Wiped off again. Do you want to try this pen? And wiped off again. Damn man. Then dumb Dean slapped awake.

But summer was coming. Then nothing. Summer was coming and some hope was fermenting. Apex bummer when everyone went out of town. And they wouldn’t come back after this. Not fall, nor ever.

The only trick he knew was not to be generic. Right there in the rule book. The only other trick he knew: ‘get the girl,’ but this was lost in the running. So again, a bummer.

Some Eastern Demon

I saw some eastern demon crawling. Called out, Catch as catch can! and started to run. He was lumpen, tired, smoking a cigarette. Sweatpants and derisive comments. I made it thirty feet before turning.

These things don’t pay as well as they used to, he said.

I sympathized, sat. It startled him, but only for a second. I dodged again but he only looked, bleary-eyed.

Steppes and plains, passing shit-smoke yurts. Shamankas in their settled ways. Rattles under ikons. It’s a living, I know. A thousand years of anything will get you down. The fun? Gone. Gum arabic and spicy Chinese tobacco used to get you everywhere out there. Soapstone altars, oud, sandalwood, those lamaseries smelled so good! So much gold and so gut gleaming it frightened even me off!

God those teeth, I thought.

He couldn’t blame the kulaks. Even they couldn’t inhibit what the West won.

Evenk, Yakut, Koryak, Chukchi. Blessed names all. Children chewy but the sheep were all right. Itelmen? You should see such animal fear. But best of all? Yukagir, Yukagir, Yukagir!

Apparently even the Abkhaz knew him, but by a different name.

He handed me some mare’s milk: stark, fermented. I sputtered and choked. Was that a laugh I saw? God, too, the flaring nostrils.

And Tundra rites, he mumbled. Boundless dark, but I liked it. Cuz’ when we got the sun the place lit right up. I’d go to Magadan again, if I could make it. Those little clay dolls atop counters and hills of sable fur. Leaden jackets hung like trophies on my cavern wall.

But wheat? Wheat! What am I supposed to do with this gassy stuff? Passing through my fingers, fallen on the ground. White, flowy and tasteless. Have you had it? Pools of tractor grease and spouts of flame on the horizon. An utter, spinning shame.

What if we went for a walk? I asked. Or otherwise played at horses and sorcerers?

Give me a moment, straightening and sighing. A step or two taken, then just growled and gave up.

I hate to see the sight, have to help a demon down on his luck. But he just didn’t have it in him. Needed brick tea, a big blow of snuff and the fear of a thousand dark-browed warriors.

Stick it in a chimney and see how it burns, pull out a horse hair lute and sing those songs I used to hear. Can you throat sing three notes, he asked. I demurred.

He coughed once. Took an easy pull off the acid milk. Moved to a bottle of brown vodka (branded Katorzhanka, unironic), some bitter root floating at the bottom. Said he felt hemmed in by the horizon, built up with pig pens and high rises.

Twice, thrice the teeth gnashed. Said he was dying. Said he had no time left. Us too, I thought. Us too and all of us.

Are you dreaming? I asked.

We all are.

And you’re done?

No demon’s ever done, he said. Not done ever. Just I, some eastern demon, wan and dithering.

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