My boss and his friend just pulled off the freeway to get fireworks in Lost, WY because I guess they’re not legal in Butthole, CO where we’re going. Sorry. I’m not going to be negative just keep reading this novel, Blackhole, about a time traveling drug addict’s life path, questioning mine: I’m a caretaker in the back of a van. Do I want to get out? my boss asks after I’ve been losing my place in Blackhole for hours fighting the urge to jump out the window into the cowfieldblur and just mooo until I’m tipped or slaughtered. Sure. I follow them into wonder— almost. They pause for minutes in the trailer’s entrance mesmerized by stacks of what makes Pollock paintings of the night sky. I shiver behind them on the ramp similarly enchanted by a pair of deranged caged ferrets twitching in the window like little weasel time bombs. Your wheelchair stuck? I call out. That gets him to roll and his friend to walk in. It’s the first moment I want to be where I am a.k.a. Deranged Fireworks Shack Ferret Land! I am a powder keg of questions: Does the cashier pet them or just feel kinship with their palpable misery like me?
Do they eat happiness? Have they ever smiled? Do they sound like choking sirens if they speak at all? However, it’s not my first shit-job rodeo and what I’ve learned is the only surefire route to surviving a road trip as a suicidal caretaker is you make yourself scarce but conspicuously available (so you don’t start saying what you are actually thinking: I want to die. I WANT—) I snuff out the fuse on my ferret infatuation. I’m going over there. I announce and wander where his chair can’t roll searching for what will add to his boundless joy. It’s like selecting a knife for a master chef when all I cook is cereal and milk. How am I this depressed when his limbs don’t work? How is he so happy to be happy? I come back brandishing cartoon-grade dynamite.
The ferrets are still glaring maniacally out the window but all other eyes are on me. The cashier suggests I put that one down, hon… and my boss looks like Wyle. E. Coyote with a death wish so I lower it in exaggerated slow-motion into his lap and watch as his eyeballs bulge out their sockets like lightbulbs set to shatter into flame. I want to light it. I hear myself say as his grin crosses the threshold from mischief into how I imagine the ferrets’ faces might stretch demonic, up, up if they ever escaped into the Lost, WY brush. I tell the ferrets I want to light it! I turn to my boss’ friend I WANT— and then the cashier who shakes her head and shrugs like a carny pointing to the MUST BE AT LEAST THIS TALL TO RIDE THE RIDE sign. She tells us we can have all the bottle rockets we desire. I inform her that has become impossible.

Abe Becker, a.k.a. The Poet Laureate of Awkward, was recently published in After Happy Hour Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, and the East Bay Review. He is a performer, a playwright, a caretaker, a guest editor of the Bay Area’s Sparkle + Blink, and was long-listed for the 2016 Lascaux Prize.

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