SHELDON LEE COMPTON: You move to Montana to get away from it all. Turns out Ted Kaczynski, the one and only Unabomber, is your neighbor. He comes over the second night you’re there and confesses his twisted plans. What do you do?
xTx: With Ted there is a warm ringing and we embrace like brothers begging before our brutal step-father. This, after our hands were writhed. A progression of understanding, compassion and love that knit the evening. His beard I breathed. This, after I shaped his jaw with my palms. A mandible meaty and wide. Strong. The beard a white cloth covering a David. It was hours I listened. The pour of wine deep between us. It was not minutes it came to that, it was one decade.
I moved to Montana a ten years-lonely woman who wanted to die underneath a sky I would never deserve. The shame in that heating my loins. When Ted appeared on my doorstep, madness in his gaze, I clung to him like a bundle of rebar thrown into a very deep lake. A quick and easy way to go down.
No one will ever know Ted the way I did. The mushroom-smell of his hair. The way he’d hitch and Gollum-sputter nonsense sounds in between monologues. How he agreed to a promise he eventually kept. How, these years later, I still keep that promise, metal-tubed and ticking underneath my mattress, Ted-set for a day he doesn’t want me to wake up. I often wonder if it will be the same day of his not waking.
I often pray for that.
SLC: Tomorrow you show up for work and the whole damn place, the entire building, is gone. There’s a note in the place you used to park that reads, “They know.” Walk me through the rest of your day.
xTx: 1. I say, “Oh shit” and get back in my car.
2. I drive to Venice Beach.
3. I find one of those “Pot Doctor” places and pay $50 for an exam so I can get a “Pot Card.”
4. I walk around without an iPhone until I find a Pot Store.
5. I go in to the Pot Store and buy pot in the shape of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
6. I ask the Pot Store Guy if he knows what they know and he nods and hands me an envelope.
7. I leave the store and open the envelope after I eat the Pot Reese’s.
8. I start every sentence in this thing with I.
9. I find a feather smeared with feces inside the envelope.
10. I get mad at the Pot Guy because I realize he did not know what they know.
11. I drive back to where my work was.
12. I lie down in the parking lot and make snow angels against the asphalt that has no snow until my clothes wear through and my skins rubs off exposing my yellow fat and muscles and eventually bone.
13. I die.
14. I know.
SLC: The 1980s or the 1990s? Let’s talk about that.
xTx: Let’s not. But, the 80’s man……
SLC: Fifty percent of the U.S. population can manipulate one of the four basic elements. You’re among that percentage. Which element, and what will you do?
xTx: I’m not sure what elements are and I’m not going to Google it so I can just write whatever I want to write on this question.
I’m going to guess that elements are things like rain and the waves of the ocean and how those new-fangled kitchen drawers stop a half-inch from closing all the way and then slooooowly close all the way shut. I didn’t go to college so hopefully that helps explain my guess if I am, like, way far off.
So, taking the path of my guess, I’m going to say that I would probably manipulate something really small and stupid because I’m sure all of the other people picked all the cool elements (like tidal waves, Beyonce and fire smoke) and are all acting like they are bad-ass while actually they are just a bunch of sheep. So, I will pick the element of the slam dunk. I will make bets on basketball games and then control all the basketballs to be slam dunks in my favor so I will win lots of money. I will also use my powers to blow men’s minds at various playgrounds, gyms and recreation facilities all across the land. Especially at those courts in Venice Beach where they filmed White Men Can’t Jump. Man, I will fuck their shit UP over there!
SLC: Ants and humans switch size but retain their intelligence. What the hell do you do first?
xTx: Get out of the way of the ants.