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Atonement Century Machinery (Andreas Pietschmann) by Fortunato Salazar


From circumstantial evidence and youth basketball in the park

we enter the lens of Danny and Aiden to explore the identity of the contrabass prosthesis.

I believe we're listed with a check only minutes away. An object like a bottle

opener or possibly a "whole rotten saga" thermometer will trot out the confirmation.

* *

I have a very relaxing talking-to with everyone who declines not to wear the proscribed fleece.

Look, I say, there are super super busy holiday houses in South Africa
collected over the years that might actually be interviewed in an entirely different season.

Yes, the spirit of feudalism is actually an old acquaintance who might actually wander into
January dressed as a village Andreas Pietschmann with the nefarious intention to win friends

* *

and auf Teufel komm raus interrogate with the help of an air conditioner remote each and
every 20-something single mother, and not with an abundance of empathy. (I grew listening
skills by practicing voiceover narration on deck for hours. I would narrate a storyteller's
checkered history of feigning to be the right arm of first mates while in fact epitomizing

the obtrusive irrelevance of local people who have been inserted into the trailer by accident.)

We've been visited little by little finally by what amounts to a monumental bed
collapse, carbon dioxide on the floor, colleagues sent to plages so as to self-reflect,
they're last seen diving into a lake, the sudden impulse to stuff money into a bank
and spend a boring consolation day alone, young refugees who rise through the ranks
while someone you'd bring to your house to care for your children as a nanny earns

* *

a bronze statue or is ousted. Not even statue-grade bronze but recycled weatherstripping.

I say, If you're cranky about activities in the field that foster a pre-existing sense of inertia,
that's an impasse that demonstrates the limits of my abilities to wield a long stick or flagpole

* *

and peer into people and take some effective measure (with the sense of working in a vacuum)

ideally eco-friendly and with the net effect of leaving both parties with an awesome sense of
plugging into a tepid though lasting detente. I say, If what you are at heart is an early edition of
past-perfect half-time former waste disposal journeypersons who'd rather be at a flora talk,
gather, please, outside the kitchen, gnash your teeth, find some way to make of your chagrin

a springboard for a fun quick crack at industrial-revolution-scale self-renewal. Honor yourselves
as tinder, I say, start smoking at the edges, set yourselves on fire. I say, once a week strew your
day with woofety, woofety, woofety. I say, let us glitter like remora clinging to a cookiecutter
shark, emphasis on glitter. Strong emphasis. I say, shortcake is a solar eclipse you can't expect
to feast your eyes on daily. Somewhere a swirling rapture that could (as it were) produce loot

is blocked, isn't rushing to the cash office, may as well be trapped inside a transparent hamster
sphere. (A lost cause. I notice the fauna that intrude into my deliberately bracing but untense
attempts to build morale, the lemurs and does and lambs and dugongs here called sea camels.
As I notice I make a mental note now a long series of mental notes to gently/firmly elide them.
All to no avail. Annoying because of course morale-building is all about there is no "no avail."
Exasperating because in any given day I cough less than the number of times I drive home the
point that like belongs with like and we must rigorously keep our separate labors separate. Yet

these fauna creeping in obviously demonstrate my failure to isolate this labor in which I wear
a brightly-colored cardigan sweater from my khakis-and-rolled-up-sleeves task in which I think
of fauna as what I must at all costs shut out: I mean the inroad-resistant don't-call-it-mundane
challenge of persuading gnawers to nourish themselves anywhere but from our stores. I mean

* *

deratization.) It does get kind of cold in the room but then too we must endure kicking around
empty cans of beer while writing facetious letters of thanks to our rumbling stomachs. Sluggish
anti-this, anti-that is what I wrestle with aiming always at a kind of self-contained self-holiday.

I'm hooked on plum wine jelly and do I mewl just because the little we had was reduced to nil?

The reality is that supple muscular women have been deprived of maternity leave and the thick
manual that was supposed to explain it all has written its own obit. And by "hooked on" I mean
big time, as in I've been moved to tears by the closeup of a sheet of gelatine dissolving. You HIT
your mark in the heartening you've been assigned and are rewarded with, "Excuse me, what is
pilaf?" I sing David Sylvian's brother's version of the approved hosanna to toil and the response

is a lock that remains locked while everyone's eyes are chanting the lyrics to "Babylon Sister,"
singular, emphasis on the part about drinking kirschwasser from a shell. I recite the sanctioned
interrogation anthem and am answered by, aha, lips that part just enough for me to make out
the lyrics to "Home at Last," emphasis on the verse in which pine resin is implied. My concertina

and I are hung out to dry leading Mick Karn's version of an authorized esprit de corps standard
when the corps go their own way at the chorus, importing the lyrics from "Time out of Mind,"
emphasis on the part about the upgrade of wasser into a near relative of the abovementioned

fermented beverage. The corps outdo themselves, bringing off a similar importing into a paean
to effective interviewing techniques: the imported is a swig of "Hey Nineteen," emphasis on
the line that underscores an error by a supplier that deprives us of the fruits of the blue agave.

* *

To know character, look past the refreshing mist that rises from the sink into the 94 days free
we've missed on account of seepage of one sort or another, but gold, let's not forget, is made
from silver, or at least the latter turns into the former, or will, & this is YOUR chance to believe,
son, you better be ready, people are rolling in the here & now, on this glory day or rather night.

Other work by Fortunato Salazar recently came and went at No Tell Motel and is forthcoming soon in The Los Angeles Review and elsewhere.

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