Table Six: Joseph Suglia

Looking upward, you see young boys perched on the tops of streetlamps—streetlamps that have become leg-tufted trees. Leggy trees. The boys call to you from the leggy trees. You cannot understand what they are saying. What are the boys in the trees saying? What are they saying to you?

You look ahead. In the middle of the street, there is a refrigerator. The refrigerator is egg-white. What is inside of the refrigerator? Within the refrigerator, there are snakes and snake eggs. Snake ova. Oviparous snakes.

Zigzagging serpents—big yellow constrictors, yellow rat snakes—are wriggling and writhing over and around the refrigerator. A brood of vipers, you imagine, squirms within the refrigerator, snaky food.

There is a fire. There is a garbage-can bonfire. A ball of fire, crisping newspapers in the garbage can. Crackling conflagration. The flames do not look like tongues. The flames do not resemble snakes. The flames resemble fingers, fingers of orange crinoline.

You are nearing the intersection of Clark Street and Superior Avenue. You hear the approach of a car. Behind you.

You give a sudden cry. The car comes too close to you. On your left. You back away.

Swinging around the curb, the Sports Utility Vehicle comes to a halt, the ignition is turned off, and the driver yanks open the door.

Turning slightly, you see a man approaching you. The man is the motorist. He is twentyish and blonde-maned. Garbed in pre-faded grey jeans and a thin black-leather jacket zipped to the neck, his eyes shielded by overlarge brown semi-transparent sunglasses, he has the air of an extra from a motorcycle film. A film about motorcyclist zombies. You think him rather affected.

You look at the SUV. The car is packed with marijuana-smoking humans. They are studying you.

The motorcycle man asks you:

—Do you got any money? We run out of gas.

—No, you say, I have no money.

The man does not shrug. He says nothing. He simply turns away and says nothing and strides back to the SUV. What use is cash in a world in which money has lost its value?

Before you, a wad of snakes is balled up and hissing. In the street, a wad of snakes is balled up and hissing. You slink away from the snaking snakes.

You look up at the sky-bound office buildings and imagine that the snakes have invaded the offices, too. The snakes have overcome the maze of cubicles. Snakes are dropping over the partitions and plopping on to the keyboards, the papered surfaces of the desks, and the computers, black asps and adders.

Walk past the nightclub now. In the nightclub, you imagine, mamba snakes are slithering noiselessly over the catwalk.

You see snakes in the grasses that circle the artificial trees. The snakes are throbbing in the grasses and bobbing their snake heads. The snakes are vibrating through the vibrant green grasses.

Reclining in the grass is a motionless anaconda. You can see the anaconda’s head, but not the tip of the snake’s tail.

You observe a mother and son, walking in tandem. A red-headed mother walking down the street, holding the hand of her red-headed nine-year-old son. A nest of snakes is concealed in the foliage past which they walk.

A snake head jumps out of the bushes. The young boy jumps jauntily into his mother’s arms.

You are drifting past a telephone pole. A slithery eight-foot python is wrapping its rubberiness around the telephone pole at an astounding speed, its skin glistening viscously, a glistening viscous yellow, the yellow of yellow gelato.

Coiling and winding, like a disembodied yellow arm, the python winds and coils around the telephone pole, gripping the telephone pole, swirling around the telephone pole, swiftly ascending, flicking its forked tongue in and out of its mouth rapidly. The great python is spitting venomously, viciously, in your direction.

There is a girl—blonde, 21—following you with her eyes. She has V-shaped cheekbones. Her boyfriend is wheeling a shopping cart full of beverages: seltzers, margaritas, wines, Corona Extras. Out of Superior Wine & Liquor, out of the vacated liquor store.

Inside of the liquor store, a boy is kicking the ATM.

Twin snakes are parachuting downward in front of your eyes and mouth, describing sinuous patterns in the air, curling their bodies into soft green whips. Avoid the cartwheeling, somersaulting snakes.

Now you are walking past a vegan diner. There are teenagers in the vegan diner. Sipping vegan milkshakes, the teenagers are morosely silent. There is no longer anything against which to rebel.

The pranksters are now the conformists, and the conformists reveal how neurotic they truly are.

You are floating by a butcher’s stop. You see a matron there, a matron in the butcher’s shop. A boy beside her, begging her for meat snacks. She whisks the unrude boy out of the butcher’s shop, a sausage-shaped finger pointing toward the door. In the butcher-shop window, tortoise heads are snapping at the meat.

The streets are wriggling with snakes; covering the streets is a writhing serpentine carpet. Slow, dreamy streets pass you; the useless traffic lights are blinking uselessly.

Something behind you is hissing. You hear a hissing behind you.

You turn around and see a clandestine meeting between two lovers on the verandah of a condominium building, a meeting between two lovers who are entwined like serpents.

Do the lovers not see the snakes? Hissing vipers are coiled around the stair balustrade.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia


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