Table Ten: Joseph Suglia

He fondles the steering wheel as he waits for his wife to join him. The street is torn up and burned out.

You watch her as she briskly paces back and forth, moving her legs together. She is wearing purple high heels. She is smoking a slender cigarette.

His neck-skin is as loose as a turkey’s wattles. He is a flabby, shabby-looking man with shaggy eyebrows. He is succulently chewing a wad of gum. He is wearing a purple silk vest.

He is waiting for his wife to finish her cigarette. His left arm dangles out of the window. The black Toyota is purring and humming. The back seat is jammed with luggage, a ballast of baggage.

It is a bright day. Now that the city is renewed, the sun is as red as a McIntosh apple. Before the renewal, the sun was as pink as a Macintosh iPhone.

You see a pink girl walking toward you, breathing into her mobile telephone. Her shirt is pink, and her yoga pants are pink.

Her mobile telephone is pink. Emblazoned on her left thigh is the word PINK. She nearly collides with you. She is not speaking to you. She is speaking to her mobile telephone. She says to her mobile telephone:

—He has a girlfriend now, so he’s doing good.

The girl’s pink boots cut through a knot of croaking toads. She is walking into the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s.

You follow the girl into the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s.

The Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s is a two-tiered building. Two yellow arches slice into the structure. The arches are sixty feet tall—ten feet taller than the cement-plaster top deck, which serves as a sunshade for the diners in the restaurant. Though you cannot see the top deck, you imagine that it is now a flourishing terraced roof garden.

No, the arches are not golden—they are yellow, and they are made of steel. Wrapped around the first story of the building is a red-and-white metal ribbon.

Swing through the revolving doors. You squeeze into the dining area. An oversize man in a mailman’s uniform is gorging himself on French fries. A supersize woman in a nurse’s uniform is gorging herself on a cheeseburger. They are loving it.

At the center of the first-floor dining area, a solitary lamp is fizzling, emitting fizzles of light. It is a Torcher floor lamp.

You walk toward the ordering area. Above the ordering area is a shadow box that frames the McDonald’s logo and a wraparound with video screens.

You look through the window. You see the copper statue of a steatopygous woman.

(Steatopygous = having large, excessively fleshy buttocks.)

You see a statue of Ronald McDonald impaled by a unicycle.

You look through the window. You see statues of the Beatles. All four of the Beatles seem to be shaped out of vanilla pudding, their faces contorted into grimaces of agony.

Two young boys are inserting tokens into a red-and-yellow kiosk, which dispenses one-inch injection-molded figures. The machine dispenses plastic dinosaurs, Grimaces, and Hamburglars.

Within the see-through display cases are backlit figures of Ronald McDonald, the Hamburglar, and Grimace. The display cases function as divider walls between the seating areas.

You see tall glass panels with digital images of Chicago residents blissfully eating hamburgers. They are eating cheeseburgers in ecstasy.

The second tier of the building is held up by mirrored stalactites, mirrored pillars, and mirrored columns.

On the transparent video panels of the mirrored columns dance holographic images of floating food: French fries, milkshakes, and cheeseburgers. The French fries, milkshakes, and cheeseburgers are smiling zoomorphs.

(Zoomorphism = having the form of an animal.)

Grinning surprised cheeseburgers.

At the center of the building, there is an escalator and a de-escalator separated by a red-and-yellow staircase.

A man in the bile-colored uniform of a railway conductor descends the staircase in search of his wife. The man has a wide and wild face. He calls for Nancy. His wife’s name must be Nancy.

As you ascend the escalator, you see a row of LED video screens. On each of the flat screens, Anderson Cooper is declaring the end of the world.

In the seating area on the second floor, you see an egg-shaped chair that recalls both the late-1960s British television show The Prisoner and the late-1970s/early-1980s situation comedy Mork & Mindy. You see butterfly chairs and wire-legged side tables.

The Clark Street windows and the Ontario Street windows are made of three layers of glass buckled into titanium banding.

Through the Ontario Street windows, you see a Sports Authority, a billboard for a morning radio show called The Eric and Kathy Show, and a British Petroleum gas station. Through the Clark Street windows, you see a Walgreens, a Hard Rock Café, and a Rainforest Café.

You see a crowd of people beneath the billboard at Clark Street and Ohio Street. The billboard is smothered in vines.

A building is smoldering somewhere in the distance. You sight spires of smoke lifting into the clouds.

Above the reflecting city, the sun is high in the sky like an orange.

You look around you. Ceiling mounted fixtures for accent lighting. Flat-screen video screens. Display cases imprisoning the figures of Willard Scott and Ronald McDonald. Guitars dangling from support cables. A guitar pick-shaped panel with displays on both sides: a frappe mocha drink and a strawberry lemonade. Ellipsis-shaped panels framing the images of fizzing effervescent beverages. At the McCafé, freeze-dried yogurt flakes and McDonald’s mouse pads are sold.

Displays that resemble gigantic straws and soda cups. Stand-up tables by the Ontario Street windows. Plasticine statues in the shape of soft-serve cones.

Before you is a bloated teenage boy. He is oozing over the table. He is wearing a Megadeth T-shirt and a Hustler baseball cap. He holds an iPhone absently in his hand while chewing his Chicken McNuggets. Upon the table is a Styrofoam cup in which a mulch-colored colloidal substance is contained. Leaning against the steel railing of the balustrade is a yellow-shirted and Bluetoothed security guard.

The security guard barks, clapping his hands:

—Time to go. Hip, hip. Come on! Time to go.

The boy lifts himself from the booth. His arms dangle in front of him as he walks. His indifference is extraordinary.

—Whatever, he drawls and then drops upon the sofa, sprawling himself.

On the soundtrack—the soundscape of the entire building—is “Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You Can Do)” by Christopher Cross.

It is then that you notice the birds. The birds’re in the rafters.

The birds are descending from the rafters.

The flesh-eating raptors—vultures and eagles—hover and then launch their air strike against the hamburger patties.

You see the three hooded vultures.

The three hooded vultures are all aquiver. They spread their wings and soar into the kitchen, where—in a flurry of brown wings and white plumage—they frenziedly strip the semi-frozen hamburger patties, ripping them into shreds. They are towering over the naked pink meat like three old men in long brown coats and white pants unswaddling naked pink babies.

The caracaras—they, too, are drone-striking the kitchen. They are tearing at the hamburger carrion, pulling it apart with their talons and curved beaks. They are devouring the chicken carrion, cannibalistic birds.

The next thing you see is the Northern Red Jungle Fowl flying—no, floating—impossibly across the foyer, ballistic basilisk. It, too, attacks the hamburger patties and the chicken patties.

You see the golden eagle scratching the yellow wall with its talons, its massive pinions flurrying behind it.

See the man with his digital-video camera. Arching his back, the camera-holding man frames images of the gyring vultures and buzzards, the revolving serpivolants.

Swarming vultures loft on the statues and throw out their wings.

A Big Mac is lying on the red-and-white tessellated flooring. The falcon descends on its quarry, hooking the Big Mac with its hooked beak, and then flies upward with deep pulsing wingbeats.

You see boats and boats of Duck McNuggets, Duck McNuggets scattered across the floor.

See the Andean condors descend with unfolded wings on to the Duck McNuggets. They tear into strips the anatine flesh. The entire flock collapses into an orgy of pecking and pulling, tearing and ripping, lacerating and swallowing; the Andean condors are devouring the breaded duck pellets.

On the tables, the crows.

The crows pick up and pick at the pickles with their beaks, a whole mob of them picking up and picking at the pickles. They rattle and croak, the predatory corvids, ignoring you as you steer through the glistening black crowd.

(A corvid is a member of the crow family.)

The crows are devouring the pickles. They are loving it.

There: A fiftyish man in a muted-blue business suit is grappling with a jungle rooster, a male red jungle-fowl. But the bird seems more powerful than him and is beating its wings violently, rapidly, menacingly, refusing to submit to the predations and depredations of the man in the muted-blue business suit. The man in the muted-blue business suit is unarmed, but the bird has pointed spurs and flesh-scratching claws. Beneath his muted-blue trousers, the man is wearing a thong, which is exactly the color of the rooster’s crown.

Owls loft on the video screens and befoul them, blasting them with their syrupy excrement. The owls have reason to be afraid.

There is an anaconda in the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s. The anaconda will wrap its slow and heavy body around the slow owls, drowning the owls in its incalculable bulk. It will swallow the owls, swallow the owls whole.

The owls shudder, shivering their soft plumes. Their yellow-eye masks unblinkingly stare at you as you pass beneath the video screens. Soft, round owls.

A buzzard alights on to the ceiling light fixture. You want the buzzard to grasp you in its claws, flap its wings, take flight, bearing you into the air, sailing across the city skies with you in its solid grip.

In the foyer: Glorious peacocks are strutting over crushed eggs. They, the peacocks, are screamingly beautiful. You marvel at the birds’ iridescent plumage. They are spectacular birds, their plumage a stunning array of blues, greens, and reds.

Now the peacocks are eating the French fries. They are loving it.

The Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s is a bird house, an insane aviary.

Swooping down from its aerie, the eagle owl spreads its wings wide and stretches open its curved talons. Its eyes are Halloween orange and blazing. The eagle owl is flying with its wings stretched out and its claws open, as red robins are wheeling through space.

The eagle owl is attacking the Egg McMuffins.

See the Egyptian vulture.

Nothing is more beautiful than the Egyptian vulture, with its bright-orange hooked bill, rapier claws, and pristine-white plumage. The Egyptian vulture pilfers the chicken sandwich from the table, picking and pecking at the chicken-flesh with its beak. Rapacious, the Egyptian vulture feeds itself.

Flying above you, the king vulture—with its flappy, blue-orange-yellow head and bespectacled eyes—fixes its hard stare on you.

You wonder at the toucan—with its banana-colored face, its massive beak the shape and color of an unripened banana with a hot orange stripe down the middle—and ask yourself, “How could such a gloriously exotic creature exist?” How could such incomprehensible beauty visit a city such as the one you called your own?

A preening, self-cleaning spoonbill cleaves its feathers with its bill. With rapid pecks and plucks, the bird nibbles its lush, snowy plumage. Sensing your approach, it crawls gingerly along the transparent plastic balustrade.

The woodpeckers chisel the bathroom doors with their chisel-shaped bills, pecking and plucking in stiff movement, their stiff plumage unmoving as they peck and pluck. Their skulls move mechanically forward and back, pecking and plucking.

The hummingbirds are fluttering their wings at unimaginable speeds, floating before your astonished face. The birds are right in front of you—they float there, before your eyes, and then suddenly transcend to impossible heights, spiraling upward to places you cannot see. They hover in a horizontal formation—then they suddenly disperse, flying backward, upward, downward, and diagonally at spectacular speeds. They hover, then upglide, downglide, sideglide, and backglide.

Ravens are soaring on the updraft, moving vertically on the windy air-condition current.

A hawk trances before your face, its brown wings featherily flapping, and then flies off.

Bluebirds are fluttering up before you. They circle in the air, carving invisible arcs, revolving fan-like. They lift higher, as if suspended by invisible threads.

It is then that you see the humans, cowering and scared. Humans are fearful of an animal backlash and retaliation and are hiding in the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s.

A seagull glides beyond a beefheaded man who gapes stupidly at the seagull as it glides.

See the tribe of renegade children, giggling at the parrots. The parrots erupt into a crazed flight, liberated from their cages. The little girls titter as the parrots flitter. The tittering of the girls irritates you.

A grim North American turkey vulture is peering at you through sharpening eyes, super-seriously. You know that her eyes are keener than your own.

Peered at by the sharpening eyes of the North American turkey vulture, it is now the German family that is being observed.

The German family comprises two young children and two middle-aged parents. Two young children and two middle-aged parents compose the German family. The faces of the children are not expressionless. They are enraptured by the swirling and spiraling raptors.

Swinging her shoulders as she walks, a massive woman is swaying across the foyer to the counter. A radio is strapped to her right shoulder. There is no one to take her order.

You see a younger woman—blonde, around twenty-four—sprawled on one of the booths. She is asleep. A Brush turkey creeps toward her where she sleeps. A Japanese crane struts toward her where she sleeps. The Brush turkey creeps; the Japanese crane struts.

You strut out of the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s. A gale is blowing against your face.

You glissade between the red streetlamp and the yellow sign that thanks you for choosing McDonald’s.

You look above and see an American eagle lofting on the red streetlamp—a female American eagle, brown and less resplendent than its male counterpart.

You hear the screeching of a Valkyriean jet as it slices through the clouds and then turns and spirals and dives.

Look around you: at the Hard Rock Café, at the Walgreens, at the British Petroleum gas station, at the billboards, at the condominiums, at the office buildings.

The intersection of Clark Street and Ontario Street is exploding into a wild aviary, a bird typhoon. You whirl into the avian whirlwind. You dive headlong into the explosion of birds.

Seventeen-year-old girls with picturesque faces, faces that seem almost like holograms, faces that almost seem Photoshopped, are leaping about on the sidewalks.

He is wearing a white muscle shirt—the ex-convict, the man who is looking at you. He is strolling leisurely on the sidewalk and leering at you with leery eyes.

You see a woman in her mid-twenties blowing magical bubbles through a bubble wand. Dirt mats her hair. Her hair is a tangled mass of dirt and twigs, a messy dirty mane.

Squawking above you, perched on the wires, is a cult of ravens. The ravens shake their velvety black feathers.

The ravens squark and squeak and squawk and squork and squook and squack.

A solitary raven croaks throatily and descends from its celestial aerie, circling the tribe of frogs that pulsates below.

The ravens are shattering across the sky, shattering into fragments of black, breaking apart into shards of black ice.

You see a half-devoured apple on the street.

Whishing across the sky, its massive wingspan dwarfing the sun, a hawk suddenly arcs downward and takes the fruit into its mouth, pauses, flaps its wings, and then reascends, soaring back into its cerulean castle.

Looking sleepily at you through slanted eyes, two teenage boys zombie across Ontario Street. They are sleepwalking to the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s.

One of the teenage boys is wearing a T-shirt that reads MILF Magnet.

The other wears a T-shirt that reads Never Approach a Cougar.

You look up. A girl is nestling in the tree. One blonde strand of hair describes a question mark on her lineless forehead. She scratches her elbow and looks past you at some unimaginable thing. Her father extends his arms upward. She slithers down the tree and jumps into her father’s arms.

Perched close together on the boughs is a flock of vultures, solemnly patient and patiently solemn. A cumulus cloud of ravens drifts above the tree.

The eagle extends its broad wings and vaults into the vaults of the sky. Its feathers resemble fingers, fingers that are playing an invisible celestial piano. The eagle makes its incandescent descent, the sun burning furiously behind it.

The large, powerful wings of the Greylag geese carry them through the air. They fly above the green buildings in a V-shaped formation. You watch their southern migration and wonder if you should follow them.

The crows rustle their shimmering metallic black plumage and release rumbling grinding clicking calls into the wind. A pack of humans shuffles down the street to look for other humans. The crows, rustling their feathers, watch the humans as they shuffle.

Bustards and cranes race around the Chase Bank, chasing the humans who try to outrun them.

The birds are taking advantage of the chaos, scavenging the abandoned houses and apartment buildings of the human beings for food. Pirates and looters of human scum. The human beings, on the other hand, are finding it harder to eke out a living in the reverse rodeo. They are less adept looters and pirates than the birds.

A police offer stands alone at the intersection between Clark Street and Ontario Street. He looks visionarily into the cloudy distance.

Great buzzards and massive vultures have lofted on the bright orange, green, and red awnings of the apothecaries, hair salons, liquor stores, and shut-down video stores.

A pair of puffins shoots past you, and all you see is a haze of orange feet and bills, black wings, and underbellies.

Crested wood partridges are delicately and ridiculously dancing on the ledges of the windows of the apartment buildings.

Now come the shrikes with outspread wings, turning and twisting, making air strikes and doing aerobatics. Their talons seem to be made of black insects; their beaks are hooks; their faces are hidden in Zorro masks.

The vultures and the buzzards and the eagles and the ospreys are propped on the ledges of the office buildings, on the parapets of the building-towers, looking down on the vine-webbed streets, silently awaiting the maceration of the city-dwellers.

(Maceration means “starvation and reduction.”)

Flying clouds of feathers above the human city, the birds are meting out punishment to the humans for years of imprisonment.

An eagle whirls past you in a white arc and then speedily resumes its lateral attitude, coasting and then soaring one hundred feet higher, flying straight toward the tall black buildings on the Chicago skyline.

You stare at the John Hancock Tower. The building rises four hundred feet to a tapered summit, a summit that is shrouded by the scissoring wings of crisscrossing blackbirds.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia


Table Thirty-Six: Joseph Suglia

The Trump International Tower & Hotel is overgrown with rasping weeds.

The Aon Center is covered in throbbing fleshy pulsers, pulpy leathery leaves, and fibrous roots.

What was once the Chase Tower is now a gigantic green tower.

Lounging on a branch 1,000 feet above the ground, a puma stretches herself out, her thick, pendulous tail swinging, her eyes shining like the moon.

The AT&T Corporate Center is wrapped in bright-green vines. Rows upon rows of tall green stalks form a thickly and densely knotted green wallpaper.

Glaucous leaves, leaves with a will of their own, are embracing the forty-four-story red pillar-shaped building known as the CNA Center.

Tufty buttresses extending to the sky.

311 South Wacker Drive is flowering. Some of the flowers are a glistening translucent red. Other blooms are bright orange. Their petals seem almost liquid.

The Chicago Board of Trade Building is entrapped in knitted nets of green leaves and branches. So many tangles of vines. Wood rats camouflage themselves, bury themselves, tangle themselves in the nets of vines. They, the wood rats, are fearful of terrestrial and aerial predators, such as vultures and buzzards and coyotes and panthers.

111 South Wacker: Surrounding this massive building are tangles of foliage, groves, meadows, and a landfill teeming with fire ants. Flashing orange lights radiate around the rim of the building.

The building looms. It dominates. It engulfs space.

Humans come with baskets fastened to their heads, baskets full of tomatoes. They ascend a 681-foot ladder that reaches to the pinnacle of the humongous pillar.

Aluminum and glass buildings, with high-intensity lighting. Buildings with plane glass buckled in steel frames. So many castellated pepper shakers towering over you.

Looking at a forest where a Banana Republic once stood, you no longer recognize your city as your own. What was once your city has become a natural reserve, as the entire metropolis has grown into a zoöpolis, a city of animals. All of Chicago has metamorphosed into an immense zoo.

A raft of chocolate-colored giant otters swarms swimmingly into the half-abandoned Banana Republic. There, they taste the winterwear and the underwear.

The sky is turning a necrotic grey.

The Apple Store stands luminous and large. It is night. It is night, but the Apple Store stands out in the night. It is nearly a mile away from you, but you can see it shining in the night like a lantern in the night, like a lighthouse. The Apple Store is like a hole in the night, a white hole that perforates the fabric of the night. The night, it is as porous as a Lifestyles condom.

Even from this vast distance, the Apple Store looks pure—immaculate, even. All of the muck that comes from the outside is washed away. The Apple Store is an immaculate white cube. Bathed in a pellucid glow, the Apple Store welcomes animal, plant, and human life.

You see bear cubs filtering into the cube.

You scythe your way through the mobile hedges. Before you, across a narrow shopping-mall street, lies a T.J. Maxx. Someone—a rowdy mob, most likely—smashed in the windows, and now swift-footed impala and sable antelope are running through the windows and into the storefront. The sable antelope are sleek and glossy black with white patches on their faces and undersides. Their horns are magnificent—their movements are elegant, even as they are running at full speed. The impalas are graceful and nimble—to your human eyes, they seem both masculine and feminine at the same time. They dart into the T.J. Maxx.

Ibises and ibexes populate the Mega-Walgreens.

There is a Victoria’s Secret.

A gorilla in the Victoria’s Secret is fondly fondling the female undergarments.

A tapir is in the Victoria’s Secret, her puckered lips pluckily plucking the brassieres from the rack.

On the thong table, ferrets are thronging into the thongs.

A pack of seething ocelots and a family of wobbling capybaras are devouring the PINK lingerie.

Lions are tackling the Victoria’s Secret mannequins, gnawing at the Plasticine angel flesh.

A triad of zebra zips from Victoria’s Secret to Express for Men.

There is the Macy’s Shopping Center.

Like a ruinous castle, the Macy’s Shopping Center has become a home for denizens of the night, for humans stranded in a world that is becoming increasingly inhospitable and foreign to them.

See the people run into the Macy’s Shopping Center.

A dust cloud ascends as the wildebeest herd into the Macy’s Shopping Center, a bouncing stampede.

You zombie into the Macy’s Shopping Center.

Raising its branch-like horns, the red deer steps aside, admitting you to the temple.

The shopping center has become a bizarre ranch of free-ranging animals and plants, of strange fauna and flora.

The food court is smothered by palm trees and flowering foliage.

Swiftly running black cattle are coursing through the shopping-mall concourse.

The lion is weaving its way through the mannequin maze, its bristling white whiskers askew, its frozen orange irises glaring at nothing and at everything.

Spearing the mannequins with their curved lower tusks, the boars make their attack.

The striped tiger strikes the mannequins with awesome force. It gapes its flesh-slicing and bone-shattering jaws.

Slashing the curtains and the dresses and the pants and the dress shirts with their scimitar-like tusks, the boars are on a directionless rampage.

Acrobatically scaling the walls is an army of monkeys.

A lone-roaming coyote you see, running up the stalled escalator. The coyote’s snout is moist and curious, its teeth are sharper than pins, and its golden hide is covered with white tufts.

Streaming across the display area of the clothing department are long-horned antelope, smearing hazel stripes.

A mosaic of orangutan, aardvark, and black bear unfurls its canvas before you.

A tapestry of boar, emu, giraffe, flamingo, and caribou unfolds before you.

All of these animals move together. They move as one pack, as if woven together.

Roused to hunger, the black bear advances on the escaping gazelle.

Peccaries with javelin-shaped tusk-stubs are nailing the display cases. The cases that contain bracelets and necklaces.

Alone on a black futon, you see a Geoffroy’s marmoset, a hybrid creature with the face of a monkey and the body of a cat.

The animal life within: There are bouncing, flapping, and slithering animals everywhere. Animals that snatch and animals that scratch and animals that catch.

Bats are pendulating from the ceiling.

Thrushes are thrashing in the green dresses like giant moths.

Monkeys are slaking their thirst at a milk hole that has swelled in the middle of the department store’s main concourse. You pass the drinking monkeys, the sucking and licking simians.

Hiding in the changing rooms, there they are. The human survivalists are hiding in the changing rooms.

They are the most ridiculous, the most comical, the most stupid guerillas imaginable. Makeshift guerillas combatting gorillas.

With their camouflage and painted faces, they are grotesque lampoons of what guerilla rebels should be.

You recognize instantly that twenty-first century Americans make terrible guerillas, inept survivalists.

Americans are not prepared for the Apocalypse, if this is the Apocalypse.

It does not seem like the Apocalypse.

It does not seem like Armageddon.

It does not seem like the End of the World.

It seems like the Beginning of a New World.

In the Home Appliances department:

A proboscis monkey, a primate with a bluish-orange fur and a bulbous nose, is smashing the dinner plates and the tea cups to shards of porcelain and tearing the napkins and menus to shreds. Solemn-faced gorillas are hammering the tables with their fists. The tables buckle from the force, splintering and collapsing. Monkeys with pendulous tails are ripping up and biting the tablecloths.

Mice rush noiselessly into the kitchen cabinets on little pink feet. The refrigerators are covered with mossy green leaves.

An old woman is reclining on one of the mattresses. Her head shapes the pillow.

The wolverines, with bone-breaking glee, are shredding the mattresses. Shredding the mattresses, the curmudgeonly wolverines.

You can smell the thick, musty odor of the anal glands of the wolverines.

Todd Rundgren is crooning “Hello, It’s Me” a bit too loudly through the speakers as the wolverines and the badgers do their angry devouring. Their rabid chewing.

Grooming primates gather on the queen-sized mattresses, extracting human scum from their fluffy fur, while Japanese macaques float above them.

The grizzly bear swipes its protuberant, non-retractile claws, slicing apart the mattresses.

Languorously lounging on the chaise longue is a languid leopard.

Four white shower stalls have been installed at the center of the Home Appliances Department.

Wrapping its grappling claws around a shower-curtain rail, a three-toed sloth is swinging. Within the bathtub bustles a nine-banded armadillo. It scuttles around like a giant potato bug, with its grooved plates, long snout, and rat-like tail, thrashing its tongue.

Slashing through the shower curtains, zipping through the plastic curtains with scalpel-sharp webbed claws, the beavers are beavering in the tepid milky water, splashing about wildly.

In the Entertainment Department:

The fluffy-tailed skunks tunnel through the mass of Coldplay CDs. They find their burrow there.

The rusty-coated weasels squat on the check-out counter, chewing and shredding the Mark Z. Danielewski novels.

The gold-colored polecats defecate on the Dave Eggers novels.

The wolves devour the Wally Lamb novels.

They shred apart the Jonathan Safran Foer novels, the Jonathan Lethem novels, and the Jonathan Franzen novels.

The beavers rip through the hipster-trash novels, shredding, shearing, and slicing them with their heavy claws.

The beavers flatten the tables, shattering them with their heavy tails.

Perched on the television sets are colorfully feathered lorikeets and blackly feathered toucans.

Peach trees are growing right there—right in the middle of the Entertainment Department—magically growing magical peach trees.

Throwing television sets against the wall, smashing computers with their fists, bursting open DVD players, kissing the air obscenely, hooting squeaks and squeaking hoots, the orangutans are going wild.

Trundling through the display room, a bloat of hippopotami is squashing the plasma-screened television sets and computers beneath their pillar-sized feet—hissing television wreckage and computer circuitry gored open, electric sizzle. The hippopotami are smothering the iPads and iPods with their massive bulk. The iPads and the iPods buckle and crackle. An ibex lofts on the thick tough obsidian skin of a sleeping hippopotamus, sleeping beside a fizzing and fizzling television set.

Yawning, a hippopotamus shows its lower canine impalers, the mouth growing larger than the head.

Owls are screaming, shrieking, and screeching their cries of triumph, alighting on the television sets and computers, plucking at the iPads and digital-video cameras, and whispering to one another in sibilant murmurs. They ruffle their feathers and shuffle.

Music booms from the woofers as the dogs bark.

Like the clamor of a pet store, with all of its pet ferrets and fat parrots, the noise of the devouring animals rings in your ears.

Carmine-hided pandas scale the displays and tear the novelty T-shirts and novelty hats.

The ospreys, with their taloned feet, seize the baseball caps. With their sharp hooked bills, they fly at the bright lime-, lemon-, and cherry-colored designer shirts, tearing them open. The hawks are flaying the autumn coats.

There you see an entire tribe of lost humans sitting cross-legged or reclining before a row of television screens, staring into the screens. Some approach the screens and touch the screens as if longing to fuse, to merge, with some lost reality. Nordstrom nomads, deracinated, gazing into light-emitting screens. You cannot bring yourself to judge these lost people, for television transmits the illusion that stability exists somewhere in the world, and who would blame this uprooted tribe for desiring stability? The screens flicker, spewing forth light, covering the cultists in candy-colored coruscation.

The crows smash the television screens, shattering them with their wedge-bills.

The green-headed mallards are marching in circles around a mannequin family.

In the Department of Women’s Apparel:

Squatting on their haunches, the squirrel chew at and up the turquoise tank tops, holding the fabric to their chisel-shaped incisors in an almost human fashion. They tear at and up the turquoise tank tops with their teeth.

You observe the transports of the birds fluttering into the blouses and skirts.

Zebra are trotting through the Department of Women’s Apparel. Now they are bucking and stamping and spanking the ground with their clattering hooves. Beautiful zebra, avant-garde donkeys, asses with zagging white stripes, disappear into the dresses and blouses, clapping with their feet. You throw your arms around a zebra’s massive, heavy neck and kiss its dewlap.

A scratching is coming from the women’s changing room.

Out of the curtains pops the conical head of an anteater, a funny-looking tube with boggled eyes on the sides. The anteater’s cylindrical muzzle twitches. The anteater scurries, wiggling its wooly, funicular body out of the changing room, nearly colliding with your legs, its feathery tail high in the air.

The genets and the civets wrestle over the lavender blouse. The genets resemble cats; the civets resemble dog-cats.

Bejeweled birds are roosting on the female mannequins.

A bear wanders into the Department of Women’s Apparel. Lashing out with claw-daggers, the bear tears down and tears up the lime and grey blouses.

A stretching lioness is pulling down the white dresses with her mighty mouth and gnawing on the white silky fabric. The lioness is alone in all of her loneliness.

Littering the floor is a web of white and grey undergarments. See the toads leaping on the web of white and grey undergarments. The Eurasian toads secrete their toxic white fluids on to the undergarments, the marine toads lash their tongues at the undergarments, and the bullfrogs engulf the undergarments, swallowing them, putting them into their bullfrog mouths. The poison-arrow frogs stare at you.

Before you now is a towering American bison, gargantuan in its massiveness, a bull bison, snorting. In the storefront, a humped bison, with its massively bulky, wooly head, with its shaggy, wooly coat. Its lower body—its hindquarters and backside—is disproportionately small in relation to its front body—its head and hump. Its upturned, saber-shaped horns—give the overwhelming impression of gruffness, of force, of brute physicalness. Its head is comically huge, whereas its hooves seem almost tiny in comparison. He batter-rams his head against the changing rooms, shattering the mirrors and Plasticine mannequins, flinging hats and dresses in all directions, bearing them into the air with his horns.

The beast tugs at the sweaters, dragging them down, and then nibbles the knitted wool.

The rack of sweaters is toppling. The eagle is bringing them in a crashing heap to the linoleum. The eagle yanks at the sweaters with its sharp beak.

Champagne-colored antelope loll before the perfume counter.

A wave of whooshing milk on the second floor envelops the fragrance library.

You hear the rushing of the hissing milkfall as it cascades over the fragrance library, then cascades downward, wettening the magazines.

Eagle flocks cut airy paths over the perfumes and the facial creams.

Night-feeding lizards—geckos—and docile, happy llamas are grazing, sipping the cologne and the perfume.

In the overwhite glare, monkeys are eating the lipsticks.

The bushpigs are rooting and rootling in the makeup, their whiskers twitching, their splayed trotters knocking open the pots of candy-colored lip gloss.

A Maybelline-smeared woman is purloining lipstick from the display case.

She walks to the deep red-velvet chair in the corner.

She sits asprawl in the deep red-velvet chair, the bored woman.

Reclining on a neighboring futon is the bored woman’s bored boyfriend.

The bored boyfriend asks the bored girlfriend:

—Do you want to get something to eat?

She answers, following with her eyes the oscillations of a cat:


The bored girlfriend tousles her hair.

The swifts, in thick ashen clouds, descend on to the cash register and snare dollar bills in their beaks. Money-snagging swifts.

Hailing down from the displays, the earrings and the necklaces—so many meretricious things, so many baubles. Everything is useless in a world in which use-value is no longer a category of value. Money becomes mere paper. Ornaments revert to metal or stone.

You walk past the jewelry cases, where the bejeweled crocodiles are enshrined in the displays. Glinting crocodilians. Their scutes (ridges on their backs) are wet with milk and glisten like some kind of reptilian jewelry. Gila monsters, scaly intruders, have tunneled into the jewelry cases. They writhe.

Sitting upright and each looking rather self-immersed, a sloth of five pandas is chewing tough bamboo stalks. You notice that the pandas seemingly have six fingers on each forepaw, six digits that they use dexterously to peel and hold the bamboo stalks. They move their fox-like heads up and down, and it is very hard to see their eyes. So dark is it becoming, it is as if you are looking at five disembodied fox heads chewing bamboo stalks, the five heads phantasmally white, bobbing up and down.

You see the wild pigs. The wild pigs have broken free and are running free. The bristled monsters are tusking the drapes and curtains. Digging their snouts deeply into popcorn, the hogs are snortingly engulfing.

With long trunk-shaped muzzles, the crazed pigs unleash their fury on the human-created shopping center.

Swiftly coursing down the down escalator, the herd of pigs is coming for the dissipating crowd of humans.

The swine squeeze into the atrium and chase the flappy shoppers flapping their shopping bags.

The spiny-bristled, ugly, nasty, lewd boars are rudely prodding the legs of the shopping-mall humans with their insistent protuberant snouts, with their probing proboscises.

A wild boar turns its porcine head and looks at you. The disc-shaped cartilage at the end of its snout is smeared with maroon lipstick.

Its white tufty beard is spotted with red lipstick.

Go into the Godiva Chocolatier.

The tufty-headed warthogs are raiding the chocolatier, sticking their disc-shaped tubular noses into the wobbly viscous yellowish-white gelatin of the cheesecake and the spongy black-and-brown lard of the mousse. Snorting, snuffling, grumbling, grunting, groaning, the warthogs scuffle with one another over the cheesecake and the chocolate mousse. The babirusa seems to be laughing as it watches the warthogs scuffling and snuffling. The babirusa is chortling silently.

Crows are swooping down to feast on the scattered popcorn and peanuts.

Chocolate truffles, chocolate cigars, and chocolate pretzels are being devoured by the pigs.

White-lipped peccaries, mall pigs with bushy grey coats and pinkish noses, are slamming the showcase window, ramming the window with their snouts, raising their hooves to the window, breaking open the glass, the glass shattering.

The Macy’s Shopping Center is now a black forest of nightmare boars, tusking their way through curtains of air.

The fountain is the pulsating heart of the shopping center.

A smack of squishy jellyfish balloons in the fountain. A mad gorilla smacks the surface of the water with his paws.

Streaking across your visual field is a herd of water buffalo with grooved horns. The water buffalo are making their way to the fountain.

The beautiful Burrowing Owl sits on its perch, spying the lemmings, gophers, and voles that race brownly underneath the television sets. The beautiful Burrowing Owl wheezes and twitters.

Softly padding across the tables, the squirrel inspect the bright green and fuchsia polo shirts.

Swinging orangutans swish from pillar to pillar, catapulting themselves through the air. Some climb up the white walls, transporting coconuts into ventilation ducts. Others, squatting on the floor and swaying, burst open the woolly coconuts and mangos with their fists, juggling the coconuts.

Gliding above you, expanding their membranes into kites, a school of colugos are gliding on the air-conditioned breeze.

A Feathertail Glider glides through the air from the hat display to the check-out counter, expanding the parachute of its patagium.

(A patagium is a membranous fold of skin that extends from the gliding opossum’s forepaws to its hindpaws.)

Everywhere, the animals are eating and destroying.

The animals are eating the Frango mints.

The animals are eating the Heart-Shaped Cheesecake.

The animals are eating the Tommy Hilfiger Lobster Beach Towels.

The animals are eating the Ralph Lauren Flamingo Beach Towels.

The animals are eating the Lacoste Crocostripe Beach Towels.

The animals are eating the Martha Stewart Collection beddings.

The animals are destroying the glassware and china.

The animals are destroying the Merlot wine glasses.

The animals are destroying the serveware and vegetable bowls.

The animals are eating the Fruigurt.

The animals are destroying the indoor bicycles and treadmills.

The animals are destroying the luggage.

Torpid tapirs are chewing the jeans, the polo shirts, and the Zippered Sweetheart Dresses.

A pack of cheetahs undulates into the men’s lavatory.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The low-hanging vines are dangling in front of you.

In a trance of hazy love, you walk straight through the vine curtain.

Walk down the corridor.

The corridor leads to a door and is lined by glass-cased daguerreotype photographs that you do not take the trouble to observe carefully.

Walk toward the door.

You move haltingly down the corridor, stepping over the writhing snakes and tortoises.

You limp to the threshold, limping through the knot of leaping toads.

Birds coming at you with razor talons, you grasp the door knob, swing open the door, and dart into the unknown room.

You are in the dark room, the camera obscura.

Slamming the door behind you, you cover thirty-six steps in the darkness.

A cavernous room with white walls and a domed ceiling, the studio welcomes you. A bay window is opposite you.

A pair of dimly inflamed candlesticks is dripping on a support that resembles an ancient Greek plinth. The candlesticks are pitiful and are quickly dripping into the mere memory of candlesticks.

There is a standing mirror at the center of the room.

You look at the reflection in the mirror.

The image in the mirror is not your image. It is of an entity that mimes your gesticulations and expressions. It is not the reflected vision of your own being. It is a ghastly clone that is looking at your eyes.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia