Proof Positivist: A Story by Chris Pusateri


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Proof Positivist: A Story by Chris Pusateri


9:00 am—Opening Procedures

It’s a directional question—where to stick it. Some still prefer the carriage return method of saying ‘fuck off,’ but they end up sounding like they can’t get properly enraged. When you wish, nothing appears but a bulb over your head, which lights the way, but only just. When you’re tired of what you’ve become, just login under another alias. On the internet, nobody knows you’re a terrorist. On the internet, nobody knows you’re an embassy employee whose other login is CIA rendition officer. When you’re tired of what you’ve become, you disconnect from the network: I’m nowhere when I’m not here, a click and drag to my own robust notion of solitude. I plow ahead like a prow through Crisco. In one more line, the paper will read like nobody’s business. Do you print or do you copy? Do you read me? I’m mean, we’re all positivists here: proof positivists.

11:00am—Position One

Some mornings, the day wanes from the word go. It’s the diesel generator talking. As the color winds into the evergreens, it defies its very semantics and becomes unlike any prior description. Fishing, hunting, shooting—you think these have nothing to do with poesy, but they do, are supreme, are title & line. I can’t see the clock from here & I want to see the clock. Not to situate myself in it, but to feel its passage. Know it will go whither I wish. If you need me you can find me in the Dewey 811’s.

12:00—A Noon You Can Use

We have reciprocal trade agreements, but you can match neither my output nor my consumption. In a society like ours, you’re not colleagues unless you’re paid the same and have the same port of call. The value-added aspect will die without regular watering. The fact that I’m left-handed should tell you nothing about my shoe size or the size of anything else. “The phone isn’t ringing & the coffee is hot.” That look alone is sufficient to earn you an answer to a question you didn’t ask.

1:00 pm—Reprise: Positivist: Choo2 Loco Mobile

Let’s review. If you skip a line, people will think time has passed. White is never the uncomplicated passage of time, just so you know, sonny. They don’t use rock salt: they use pea grave, but only until the idea gains traction. That would account for all the chipped windscreens. Age is an orthographical condition. One is whiter, the other tied tighter. 1,642: now that’s the loneliest number.

3:00 pm—Collection Development

You can use the resource, but you need a login. You’re never 1,642 when you’re logged in, though you can tire of the company. It’s difficult to tell where jurisdiction changes hands. Would you like a reminder, a wake-up call, a pad of paper? You need to login. An impact at any point is felt throughout the structure. You welcome & I thank you. By calling it ‘an application’ we do not mean to suggest that there’s any possibility you could be refused—this information exists only to track you. A cookie in your brainpan, which tells us where you go, but not what you do once you get there. It’s like cybernetic haiku. Lunch time is the Wednesday of the workaday. We can give you a cracker, some water, a spoonfulla speedball: you have only to login. Lost your PIN? You can request a new one. What if the day’s high and the day’s low were the same number? 1,642, for instance. It’s my gross pay, the number of seconds remaining in the workday. It’s the loneliest something.

5:00pm—A Fast Scat

A definitive study implies terminus. Your job category does not permit you to access to my Outlook calendar. About mid-sentence, his face switched to screen-saver. I consider myself encumbered, expenditure with an account balance, my cock up Heisenberg’s radical simultaneity. The sun hit me like a seizure. I’ve recently been hired by the human race. My password is: 1,642, which is not a word but an article of faith, if math is meaning. It earns you membership in the world’s biggest club. Five years ago, being googled was like being felt up on the tube. Now, we’re filling potholes on the information superhighway. I, 1,6,4,2: a superhighwayman who puts some spin on the King’s English.
Chris Pusateri is author of the e-book Berserker Alphabetics (available at and the print chapbook VI Fictions (gong, 2006). Other recent pieces have appeared or are forthcoming in American Book Review, The Poker, Xantippe, and The Tiny. He lives in Lafayette, Colorado.