ne bulb, set beneath the tiles. One bulb, hidden behind the fascia, locked in the flutes—stretching quietly under the floor, behind the walls, following the wires. Creeping finally from the interstitial spaces and trolling the halls and counters, but not finding the right answers to any of the questions, so he’s out for looking; discover the right angles, carve the proper trajectory, then place a wall here and here, and here, leaving just the opening at the top for entry, and the words will bounce properly into place. He thought it was first about asking the right questions, but that didn’t do it, nor did steering conversations or carefully selecting the players and participants whose knowledge was comprised of the words only, only those he needed. But still they did not give them to him, holding instead jaw-dropped sessions of denials and misdirections, each of them extending a sack of beans or a menu or cigarette, waving arms and concerned eyebrows trying genuinely: is this it? Is this it? Giving a flamethrower—which is nice—but he wants the hands holding it. What he means to say, what he’s avoiding here… solid stance on wide hips beneath her tiny waist and Kelly’s so tall with an endless mouth and she won’t kiss him. He’s staring fish-eyed and hopeless, the last freak in a line of weirdos gone unnoticed but he thought the smile meant something.
      Everyone thinks they’re Jesus at one point or another. He’s out of it, finished years ago. It got boring. No one crucified him, his persecutions diminished parallel to his weakening efforts. He discovered that people did not push him if he did not get in their way, that they did not home in on him or seek him out if he did not shit on the hoods of their cars, if his hands stayed out of others’ pants. There was no retaliation heaped upon him if he did not hurl Oprah’s latest pick across the aisle of the bus at the steroid-bull pricked with sun through the holes of his sticky numbered jersey and shorts that could be seen through when the sun got behind him, testicles clapping sub-bass tolls against sweaty thighs. No black aura inviting harm or death upon him. If anything, he escaped notice altogether. He dreamed as a young boy that his take on it all was hyper-unique, defying all categorizations and displaying itself exponentially—no, infinitely—unassailable as it had never materialized in so concentrated a form, and that he too was special by dint of the take and that neither he nor his take were a product one of the other, but rather a peripheral identity and temporal manifestation of something else, transcending meaty considerations and material concerns—but not in any Buddhist way, good Catholic boy he was—and part of him understood his responsibility to suffer for it. Endless late-night and midday back alley flagelleations and reconciliations and penance through compulsive masturbation, yanking and squeezing his bleeding dick until it hung broken and not responding, waves of nausea following each orgasm, making no sense and providing no pleasure leading him to conclude that it must be divine. He knew he was different, he knew he had it coming and that each blow and every lash would let just a little more of him into the world, his take, his transcendent bent carrying salvation—but they wouldn’t come, they wouldn’t make a move or raise a hand. He got in faces: he got knocked away. He got vocal: he got slapped aside. He wondered WWJD, how does one become a martyr when no one wants them anymore? He learned it wasn’t about him, wasn’t about anyone, they were all gone Jesus or Mohammed or Kali… and it just wasn’t interesting anymore. If he had any fashion prescience, he would have set himself on a Krishna arc, mapping out the apex for 1996, but he was stupid, he was Jesus and it was just time he got over it.
      Ditto on Art.
      And so he wants his take back, but just for him now. He wants to remember what he was and maybe set radiant arcs with interleaved apexes and follow each one, crossing lateral and touching silvered transverses laid by his suspicions making his splay into a web. But he doesn’t remember. He gave it all away and now his take’s all diffuse and has nothing to do with him. He’s takeless in this place and everyone’s got their opinions, everyone’s got their persecutors but him. He’s moving consistently and smoothly and it makes him want to die. He can see the connections between a and b and c and it ad nauseams through all the letters and some numbers and shapes so clean. He wants the words, the answers to his questions that he can set upon the progression and break it, trip himself on a thumbtack where f is supposed to be and land rudely in someone’s oil pan. He’s asking her but he can’t get his questions out, all stupid and charming and knowing all the right things to say… Kelly’s got her breast pressed against him, her lips on his neck, it’s all going so well—but he’s trying to open up the back of his head, letting new lacerations pull the wind through and howling between the vertebrae he’ll whistle it out just the right tone. And then she’ll answer.
      The smile had meant something. Each one of them in line receiving it and each one thinking it meant something, but only he was right. Kelly mistook him for someone else. He’s trying to use that to his advantage but she’s molding him into this idea and he’s falling too easily into this idea, this person he’s not—but it’s the person she pulls into herself, the name written invisibly across her fingers that slip under her skirt when no one’s looking. She says she’s always wanted him but they’ve only just met.
      Batman or Spiderman? he asks. He knows the answer’s Batman, but they all say Spiderman. So he asks again and again the same answer. Creme or jelly? Ginger or Maryann? Such simple questions and no one ever answers right, no one can see past the questions and find Jesus battered and fried, the Buddha in the hammock dreaming of sandwiches—not because the answers are there to be given, but that they’re what he needs. Everyone so earnest and knowing just what to say and him right alongside so charming and making his hands move just the right way to produce the presumed desired effect; responses proper and he’s getting laid regular.
      “Tell me a story,” Kelly says. “Tell me what you’d do.” And she gets it, she hears how they’d be on the roof of the St. James and she’s pressed against the wall, the preacher staring horrified from the street and screaming on his curb about blasphemy and harlots, Armani, Babylon and philately while the crowd around the corner cheers them drunkenly on. Kelly knows she’ll come as the glass shatters on 5th when the man is thrown through the window, and again in the lobby when she sees the bank of monitors behind the smiling clerks who watched it all. She can remember now the park bench by the museum and the headlights showing everything for five seconds at a time while they pass and honk, roaring and jealous. “Tell me what you’d do,” she said, and he told her what he’d done, replacing one face with Kelly’s, then another, rewriting his history to remove the lines, creating disparities and conflicts, taking his truths and fragmenting them into the lies he needs. He’ll place her right there, spreading her out across these points and making of her a metaphor illuminating nothing, but blocking out the things he can still remember.
      “Would you hold me over the edge? Would you let me see them watching?” She wants to know the wrong things. What if I said no, she says.
      “You didn’t say no. You drove.” Her stockings tied in a bow on the museum’s doors, their clothes stained from the perfume gun in the garden…  they made the entire drive back naked. Kelly protesting now, she doesn’t recognize herself in the story. Your role is fixed and the memories are already in place, he tells her; these things aren’t important, only background. Her lip moves, like she’s almost talking, or a fish, but slowly, silent and blue eyes give way to white then her hip slams his shoulder, his head forced away by her half-slap making too solid a connection.
      She turns back, “I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about, but I do know I wouldn’t like it if I did. Keep out of my head.” Then Kelly turns again and he memorizes the rhythm of hips in their interplay with thighs and arms, calling her by all the names he’s seen exactly this way, taking the third name, Lesa, and placing her here, calling her Thumbtack.