the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




FIVE WORKS
BY BOB FREVILLE

CONGLOMERATION OF THOUGHT

The malevolent shadows that enveloped me as I quivered in the dim, orange evening light was not what troubled me about the forest.
    "It's no trouble," I said to the trees. "I've been lost a million times and I always run just fast enough to find my way home again."
    Just then the troubling treble of the troublesome woods crept up my spine, further inundating my already weary soul. It knew I was cracking. It knew I could only last so long. Tenuous, that was the word. Tenuous. I was feeble, irascible, easily flustered. And Lord knows I was already a mess before this whole goddamn thing. Hell, the Lord ain't the only one that knows.
    ...Am I the One? Am I the one who knew? What did I know? Surely The One would no what one knew, right? But I don't know and maybe I never did.
    "...and I always run just fast enough to find my way home again."
    The forest mocked me, replying with a plangent fart from a fissure in its soil. The ground erupted in a ball of smoke. A real wet one, that one was. I miss smoking. I miss making people wet. I miss a lot of things.
    "...I always run just fast enough to find my way home again."
    "Do you? " the Forest asked. "How do you know when you are home?"
    I contemplated this long and hard, long like the winter and hard like an erection drenched in blood. Whose blood? My blood? I was at the end of my tether. The more I thought about "home", all I could picture were sterile pathways, grey vestibules, marble foyers with crimson drapes and various other places I had never been. No bread crumb trail...lost in Erebus???
    A single mattress on damp floor in middle of sepia-colored apartment, grey blood seeping through handkerchief, staining the lapel of a once-great dinner jacket. Golf sucks and so does the Elks Club. Who wants to play on a team if there is no team? Then again...who wants to live if they don't know whose life they are living? Ask myself.
    Ask myself.
    Ask myself.
    Ask myself.
    Ask yourself a question and you will not come up short. For good or ill, you'll always have an answer. However absurd or irrelevant or uneducated the response, you will elicit one. Why? The thought. You thought to make yourself think.
    But then I got to thinking...maybe acknowledgement of a thinking process negates the purpose. Perhaps hypothesis will show that realization of thinking process means think no more, for thou shalt never think freely again. But what is free?
    I was never free, always clutching the coattails of a person or a trend. It was not me because my thoughts and actions we pre-determined, but it was not somebody else because I was not being forced to respond to external stimuli. Who knows where it all came from? Where did what come from? Well, I can't tell you. I haven't imagined it yet. Simple as that. 1 - 2 - 3. That is not the Law of Nature. I would come to realize this, or maybe I wouldn't come to realize anything at all. Who knows? Not I.

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DEVIL MAY CARE

    "You never know, " the blind organ grinder said. "You just can't predict which way it might bend. Hell, you don't have any way of knowing how often it'll bend neither, kid."
    Phaethon was asleep and the night was icy and moribund. The wind stole my breath as capreolate cackled like sheep crotch-locked in estrus. It's all fun & games until a man loses his stump. There's no getting around it, then. Literally! But that didn't stop me from firing away haphazardly.
    In the distance a light goes on, a tent lights up...bizarre, multi-colored wigwam on acid. Haggard woman with prosthetic leg tells organ grinder to go take a hike before nailing me in the face with a toupee. There's no waking up from some nightmares. Like the one in which I sucked face with my lady friend's pretty, autistic cousin and end up on staircase in my dead grandmother's house consoling my gal pal and apologizing to no avail for asking her family if I could take the Mute to her bedroom. Where are all the dolls? I need them.
    "Shit," the lycanthrope said as he brushed his teeth with baking soda and axel grease. "search me, man! I ain't got clue one about where your dick could've gone. "
    This is beginning to sound like that catchy number "Detachable Penis" by King Missile. Oh, well.
    Truth of the matter is when I lost my bearings, I lost all tact and spit on the Queen. And that's why you see so many young folks in county or prepped for Death Row, Mister. Because they are all no good dissidents with zero respect for the Way Things Work. And once you lose respect for the Machine...Hell, you might as well lose your dick in a cheese grater.
    "You're reckless, son! " the spurious half-man/half-hedgehog barked at Dull Gun Sam as he made for the gates and observed his mental compass as it drifted toward Palookasville. But nothing ole Pointy could say would change stout-hearted Sam's mind. Still, that didn't mean the ratty little fuck wouldn't try. After all, what are friends for? "I'm tellin ya, kid. You got this devil-may-care attitude and a chunk of Gorgonzola in yer wallet. Don't mean a goddamn thing in the REAL world! Let me fix you on up! C'mon, boy! Get back here! This is where you belong!"
    Sam didn't like the sound of that. He did not feel comfortable sharing a home with a travelling cross-section of anomalies and "special" people. He wanted to better himself. Or at least that was what he had wanted at some point. But at this point with detumescence setting in and his trousers slack, a bottle empty and only one cigarette left, all the fella could think to do was turn on the cold work. Lay it on hard. Sheesh, there was a laugh.
    As he left the park, he turned to look at the place one last time. Seeing the effete sign advertising Flotsam & Jetsum's Cadre of Mutants, he began to weep. But not for long. After wiping his nose and eyes with the sleeve of his plaid jacket, Dull Gun Sam drew his pistol and fired at Grand Mol Jones and his poor lover Pointy the Hedgehog Dude. Both took lead in their deformed chests.
    His aim (no pun intended) had been to destroy something. Fuck it all! Smash it up! Kill 'em all! But the result seemed more like euthanasia. And that was just how the cops would read it too. Alas, Dull Gun Sam's gun was not so dull after all. At least not the one he kept in the breast pocket of his Salvation Army jacket. Dull Gun Sam ran on the lam.
    He wasn't afraid of the fuzz really. He was running from something else. And as he drove he felt no remorse. Why should he? I mean, c'mon! Hadn't he done the freaks a favor? Was there not a discernible gratefulness in that hedgehog's sad and stone dumb eyes? Who could tell with epicanthus flaring up worse than on some diseased Vietnamese whore. Squirt some lemon juice on yer dick, boy. Unless you're yeller!
    When his legs could move no more and the dizzying apoplexy of his inebriation had gotten the best of him, Sam came upon a field littered in broken glass and baby doll heads, tiny pairs of scissors and steam irons. Beyond the field, he could see marshland and hoped that after a momentary break, his weak, gummy legs would carry him to the mud where he could die in peace.
    He lit up his last cigarette and reflected on the Stigma that was his lifestyle on that Night. The night of emasculation. The night of disaster. A fine comedy, indeed...gyromagnetic romp on water bed...pu-pu platter of chemical amenities...intimate talk with intimate stranger. Some things are beyond me and this is one of 'em: How things can go so sour I'll never know.
    "I'm sour and so is this stinkin' world."
    Poetic words for a man down to the last drop of his second bottle of Jamaican Rum.
    Or maybe you prefer "fait accompli. " Yes, what is done is done and there ain't no changing it. The evening had been a debacle and Sam was in the muck now because of it. But why? Was whiskey and coke the Pandora's Box? Or was it Sam's unconscious? Was he the victim of bad genes or the slippery id? Was God laughing at him and why was his tongue numb?
    "Where are all the freaks?! " he screamed, then slumped onto the ground, cutting his hand on a shard of glass.
    For some reason, he thought of the number one hit single he had written for the latest pseudo-punk band on the block. This one was a funky little techno-trip hop ditty... alca-alca-alca-alca-alca-alca...alcohol & sex with midgets! Catchy till the grave.
    From cradle to grave, we make some mistakes. It's only important where we lay our heads, isn't it? A question worth asking, Sam.
    So there he sat, with a gun to his temple, as sirens blared and the ground opened up in Hearlemmermeer. 85,000 People Die In Sudden Eruption...Worst Deluge in Netherlands History, Scientists Say...
    I got up and made my way reluctantly to the bathroom with a morning erection and a stiff back. As I urinated profusely, I observed the soreness of my lower spine. Just then, my lousy bookkeeper Cleveland Everlast walks in without warning and I dribble all over my inner thigh and come close to catching Derr Helmut in metal teeth.
    "Jesus, yo! Can't you knock?!"
    "Dude," Cleveland says. "That's some bruise you got, man. Uh, I just thought you'd want to know that your girl called and she wants to know what happened to all her Malibu, dogg."
    "Puerto Rican rum?
" I replied quizically, my brow corrugated. "Ain't that a bitch and a half. "
    There's no waking up from some nightmares.

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ENGAGE

In Narcotics Anonymous, they have a word for people who inadvertently encourage the Addict to continue on the path to plenary self-destruction: Enabler. Anybody familiar with N.A. or related 12-Step Programs will tell you that this name, usually reserved for loved ones and relatives of the junkie, is as bad as, if not worse than, the Scarlet Letter. As the risk-taking journalist who came out of the riotous Liberation Day (Manhattan Marijuana March) and March for Life virtually unscathed, and, more importantly, as the "level-headed" pragmatist who co-wrote Reefer Madness Redux, I never thought I would see the day when I would be accused of such an atrocity as this. Lex Sativa: The Enabler. Sounds like a Schwartzenegger flick.
    Even if I had seen it coming, I would have mocked the accusation and written it off as the nefarious plot of some fuckwit GOP spook. But that proved ever more hard to do as the evidence finally surfaced like a fetid Lincoln Log in a public swimming pool. It was irrefutable and what's more, I was the one making the claim. Kind of hard to argue when you yourself are the prosecuting party.
    Yes, I was an enabler, responsible, at least in part, for Cleveland Everlast's many relapses and lies. The red flags had been waved aplenty in the past, but I had ignored them for the sake of continuing on in the name of the Cause. Just what that Cause was eluded me at the time, just as surely as it eludes me now. I believe it had something to do with a quest for socio-political, spiritual and legislative righteousness. Or whatever. Lately, the only Cause seemed to be getting high. All well and good, you might say. And I am inclined to agree. But not on my dime, and damn sure not at the expense of our personal and professional relationship! No sir! But that was how it seemed to be going.
    New Year's used to be a time after which we would stick to an almost ascetic regimen. It was a time of sacrifice, a period when folks decided to up and quit. Resolution, ya know? Granted, they were bound to slip up once or twice. In fact, it was expected, it came with the territory. But now it was already February and there was no sign of the needle receding...Only fresh track marks and hackneyed excuses.
    Cleveland had been estranged (emphasis on the strange) from the scene for quite some time. Where once we had seemed so close as to be one entity in duality we were now as far apart as Heaven & Hell. He was vague when it came to where he had been, verbose like Tigger on crack and totally untrustworthy. His stories were always a muddled, unbelievable miasma of unrealistic facts and nebulous pieces that refused to fit the puzzle.
    Sometime in the middle of 2002, he had gone to detox when the addiction got the better of him and he began to suffer physical ailments. When he got out, everything seemed okay for awhile. My partner in crime was smiling again, content to smoke up and jabber about Montezuma's Revenge, instead of banging up. And for brief time, I really thought he was on the way to fulfilling his destiny.
    "I want to get into politics, " he had said. And he wasn't even on anything at the time!
    What a great idea, I remember thinking. Now we can really turn the skank inside out. I wasn't talking about a vicious gang bang neither. Perhaps the System could have its switch flipped. Surely the adumbrated nature of Cleveland's life wouldn't hold him back. Unless, of course, some absent-minded, santimonious Reaganite with a silver spoon in his mouth was responsible for electing the old boy to office. Surely, Mr. Everlast had just the right temper for this Dog Will Hunt business.
    Unfortunately, Cleveland's aspirations vanished just as quickly as his born again contentment, and before I could say guttersnipe, he was back with the horse. Little by little, the lifestyle rushed back in and I had to start questioning whether my boon companion would die in this state. I had seen it before, witness the shit cloud as it enveloped dozens of lowly acquaintances and sent them to early graves. We had one acquaintance who was shot in the face over an attempted narcing, at least five friends in various prison facilities, one friend in the loony bin and another in reclusion, her brain aflame with the worst kind of paranoia. Was this to be Cleveland's fate? And would he end up taking me with him?
    These were good questions to be asking, but no ones that occurred to me in those nasty, jagged times. Instead, I busied myself with making arrangements for our appearance at the next Republican Convention. Surely something as egregious and disgusting as that would make my friend think twice about filling his veins with poison. If you keep shooting smack, you'll end up like one of these mutants, completely stolid to humanity.
    Naturally, we wouldn't make the grade for press registration to such an event, but before we could even give it a shot, Cleveland grew desperate. My phone began ringing off the hook and I had to sift through twenty pathetic answering machine messages, each more vehement than the last.
    "I'm in pain over here, Lex! Can't you just take out some money until Thursday?! I really don't know what I'm gonna do?!"
    It goes without saying that my suggestions that Mr. Everlast seek out a drug counselor or a priest didn't do any good. Cleveland was always ready with a lame excuse. My first instinct was to pick up the phone and make the necessary plans to meet my fairweather f(r)iend [sic] to hand over a fistful of cash. But then I remembered that I needed cigarettes. My hands were shaking and I could feel my irritability surging. So I grabbed my wallet and started out of the kitchen, leaving the plastic bitch screeching behind me.

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COCOLOBO

  "COCOLOBO: THE FIRST WHORE"
  By: Bob Freville

When I learned of Hunter S. Thompson coming to Union Square for a book signing at Barnes & Noble , my first instinct was to jump up and down and soil my bedsheets. But that wouldn't be proper at all, now would it? I mean, sure, that old cowboy sonovabitch might be the closest thing to a genius I will ever see in my lifetime. And his Quixotian Fear and Loathing Saga might have had a profound impact on my life, as it were. But fuck all that, because everybody knows that great expectations make for a fine clusterfuck abortion. Might as well sell my sperm to an infertile crackhead if I want to wish for something grand that will never come. Hell, with my luck, that antiquated daredevil wouldn't even show, and I'd be trapped in a stuffy mausoleum to the written word with a crowd of impotent pariahs, speed-crazed motorcyclists and low-down Chicano demimonde. Better to look in a more unexpected place for today's amusements.
    It was with this in mind that I took to Harbor Links Golf Course in Port Washington. The atmosphere was that of your run-of-the-mill golfing acreage, but a vibe hung over the place as I recall. This was a gorgeous place to look at, kept up well by the owners and run with care by an amiable enough staff. But on this particular afternoon, something dreary and awful lingered in the harsh, cold air like a stale fart.
    Maybe it had something to do with the person I had invited along for this little day of fun and games. The mere mention of his name was enough to send a positive frame of mind hurdling into
the Abyss. "Be...be...Re...bo...zo..." Yes, sir! Charles "Bebe" Rebozo, the one and only, was about to get a lesson in Long Island golf and leisure.
    "Why don't you just come out here?" he had asked me on the phone earlier in the week.
    "You must take me for some sort of mindless geek," I had said. "I'm not gonna end up bound and gagged in the ole Winter Palace out there in Key Biscayne! I operate on my turf and my turf only!"
    It took some convincing, but once the man with the bushy eyebrows heard that I would have a generous portion of blow waiting for him, he made like a rampant wildebeest to the greens. After all, this was a fine chance for him to practice his backswing and catch up on what he had always done best: Make his client, nay, his best friend feel better about bad calls. Lord knows, I was bound to swing a little too rough and make a human mockery of the game. And who better than Rebozo to extricate me from this little conundrum when I'm in over my head with those skullfucking nouveau-riche dandies with the sweaters tied around their necks? And in zero temperatures no less! Oh, yes...This was gonna be a trip!
    Rebozo, who was called a "valueless veneer of vicinal villainy" by Dr. Zachary Smith (according to web2.iadfw.net), arrived at Harbor Links at 3:38 p.m. looking more like a washed-up, half-mad schizophrenic scientist than the toast of Florida he had once been. His plaid pants, a sad, effete throwback to the attire of Drayton Sawyer (see: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 ), were torn and tattered, and his socks---one black and one green---suggested the carelessness of a lobotomized Carny. His nostrils already looked like a powdered donut factory and his chipmunk-esque upper lip was curled upward in some queer, unintentional impression of Elvis Presley in his final hour. It was clear, at least to me, that this was not the same man whose name was synonymous with good fortune, good business decisions and good yachting. This short, wrinkled specimen before me was broken and crazed, not debonaire and respectable.
    " So the doctors gave you a day pass, eh? "
    " Excuse me? " he replied sharply.
    "... Why? " I asked him. " Did you rip a fancy? ...Look, old man, you're already three hours late, so let's get down to business already! Lest I have to use my stun gun. "
    He did not respond well to my blatant attitude at first, but by 3:00 a.m. he had $200 worth of yay, half an ounce of Northern Lights weed and a 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon in him. Now I couldn't shut the fucker up. All he wanted to do was ramble incoherently about the gay bike courier who had assaulted him in Key West earlier in the week and how coons were eating away at the tarnished remains of the once great Winter White House.
    " I don't know, " he said. " If my old friend the Reverend were around, he's damn those carnivorous home-wreckers to Purgatory! I do declare! "
    " Listen, you geriatric slob! If I had known you were going to be so goddamn unprofessional about this, I would never have even bothered! But I went on the word of some Baby Boomers that you were the only one left alive with some exuberance."
    "Clearly, my dear boy, I have a king's ransom o' that stuff!"
    "Well," I intoned. "Then stop stuffing that shit up your bulbous nose and going all to pieces about homosexuals on bicycles! Just give it to me straight...No pun intended."
    "WHAT?!
" he bellowed quizically.
    " JUST TELL ME WHAT I WANT TO KNOW!"
    "What do you want to know?
" he asked distractedly as he packed a water pipe with some purple sticky.
    " For starters, you were real close with Nixon. I mean, that goes without saying. So how much do you know about...Watergate?"
    "I know it wasn't the Hoover Dam,
" he quipped, following this insubstantial remark with a series of bronchial guffaws.
    " I mean...well...any idea who Deep Throat was? "
    After a long, solemn pause, he put his arm around me and said " Bob, I don't profess to know anything about that cretin. But I will tell you this: That Marilyn Chambers could sure suck a cock! "
    This was followed up with more hysterical laughter and wheezing, at which point he decided that the paparazzi were going to catch him with possession of illegal contraband. Of course, it is a given that paparazzi do not frequent Long Island (except, perhaps, The Hamptons), but once a millionaire senior citizen makes up his mind while u.t.i., you would do well to acquiesce. We wouldn't want any accidents with canes or walkers or police-bugged hearing aids. Lord knows a young man of America doesn't long to taste Orthopedic shoe.
    " So where should we go? " I asked him.
    " Cocolobo ," he said.
    " Your old boat? Here?! Docked on Long Island?! "
    He explained that he had taken the boat out on a whim and gotten it in his dope-crazed skull to take it all the way here.
    " I didn't think that was possible, " I said. " What with all the separate channels of water and all, but okay. "
    There we sat on the smallest ship of the Key Biscayne Yacht Club, guzzling piss warm lager and doing lines of baby powder, when a thought suddenly crossed my confounded mind.
    " You don't seem to have much to say. I've asked you questions, but you've answered all of them with a yes or no. I would've expected more---you being R.N.'s butt buddy and all."
    "So what is your question?
" he asked with a note of growing agitation in his voice.
    " Well...don't you have any personal opinion?"
    "Nope."
    "Well, what do you think about Martha Stewart facing a possible jail sentence while our own vice president has practiced the same, unlawful, unethical moves in the past, bought out just before the system plummeted, and he gets to live in a house of luxury? How does that grab you?
What do you think of that sort of nepotism?"
    "I think that, between me and you, the crazy bitch will finally get her just desserts. On the record, I consider the whole thing unfortunate and can only tell you that the system has always been kind to someone as honorable as Mr. Cheney."
    "Have you ever heard that song Know Your Rights by The Clash ?"
    "You kids with your blasphemous music," he exclaimed, not without a discernible half-smile, a demented quasi-grin. "No, I have not."
    "It says a lot about what we've got right here. I mean, this is some Animal Farm jive, my friend! And all you can say is, 'It's unfortunate'?! Shit, man! Don't you have anything of substance for me? I mean, c'mon! You were a landowner at 10-years old, a navigator at Pan Am, owner of the lucrative Monroe Land Title Company . You must have something profound.
"
    The tan-skinned prune of a man just stared incredulously at me like I had just insinuated that I was a giant with seven testicles or something. After a beat, he replied "I'm old. Half the things you have brought up are a blur to me. I don't remember all those things."
    "Hogwash! How about you tell me why you would stick by the Dickmeister all those years if you had no political agenda or objective in mind? No alterior motive, Bebe? None at all? Why did you bother?"

    The stocky, decrepit creature in the goofy pants and the wife-beater thought for a second, scratched his head and then forced a faux-confident smile.
    " The pay was good, " he finally said.
    That was it, the closest thing to an explanation, or confession, I could hope for. A few hours later, the sun was rising again, but Rebozo was still unconscious from the binge. I realized that this might be the only chance for me to jump the boat and get it all down on paper before I was harpooned for yellow journalism . So I dove on in, just as I had dove into Rebozo's hollow mind the night before.
    Back in the safe environs of my study, I came to a conclusion: There were no more blue suits in the closet for this man. I went over the drug-fueled bedlam of the last 24 hours, recalling the man's many glittering generalities. But the only relevant words I could remember were his last before hollering " Goddamn " and passing out; " The pay was good. " That was it, simple as peanuts in an elephant's ass. The great windbag had travelled all this way just to confirm what I had already suspected all along. Bebe Rebozo was the oldest prostitute on the political dole. And if his main man Richie Rich ain't exactly flush these days, at least old Bebe's got the boat.

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RERUNS - AN ANGRY POEM OF INCULCATION

Smoke your butt,
which dangles from your pursed lips
like a ruler penetrating a teacher's brain.
What did she know?!
Textbook case.
Case of crabs.
Bloody, menstrual remnants on a wash cloth,
on a sink top,
beside a bar of soap.
Beside myself with guilt.

Burning.
The phoenix squawks,
laughes at his own horrific misjudgement.
Again, a cigarette in your mouth.
Oral Tampon,
absorbing your life,
taxing your dollar and your heart
and your patience(!)...

...Wait!
...Arrive.

A rap on the door lets her know
that it is you.
"Batten down the hatches, baby!
Cuz Daddy's got a knife,
a poniard for a tongue,
a heart imbued with tarot cards
and despair...
"Lean in and give Daddy a kiss!"

Wait now!
Take care not to wipe away that balm.
The interminable allegory of love
has its symbols,
this is one.

Do not erase the trails of embrace.
It means alot...
...palms in sync,
in unison,
locked and cohesive.

"Let's bleed together!"

Part company after hours.
The tissues in the pail.
The fragrance clinging.
The stench of estrus overpowering.

Go home.
Have a cigarette;
it dangles like a worm in the phoenix's mouth.
From the phoenix's mouth.
Inhalation of vapors.
Work.
Play.
Jerk off.
Plan another day...

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3 BACKWARD CAPS


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m.a.g.