His quarrels and his writings show Epiphanius to have had a crabbed old single-track mind, and the track he covers is usually a sidetrack. He clearly knew too much for his limited understanding. His style is discursive; his thought is poorly organized. Good and bad information, important and unimportant matters, stand side by side and form a rather unsavory mess. Hence the study and editing of his works, a thorny subject at best, has attracted few students and lags behind that of his contemporaries. In the case of his Ἀγκυρωτός, a summary of what he considered the true faith, that does not matter so much, for it is little used at any time.

–Martin Sprengling

Chapter 1. Never fails. Another fat day in the frat boy war…

Never fails. Another fat day in the frat boy war zone, lovingly called The War Zone in some parts of the Deep South, finds the smiling president sliding another five finger discount speech into the Middlesex American Sawbuck Party’s spending habits, and it seems he’s taking no prisoners with this one. Tweet, tweet. Some prayers may take ten seconds to engage a response. Some drag on like a dance of finesse in stagecraft for a decade. Doesn’t take the egg-sniffing genius of a 24-hour news cyclist to figure out if floating about this swirling soup kettle in wobbly recession the best hearts and minds are competing with more than a few tragically flawed human catastrophes, then somebody sure as hell needs to pin the tale on the donkey with brutal enthusiasm, and give shout in an unheavenly voice, “Bull’s Run! There’s a brand new bird on the move!”

I say these things to put myself in the best possible light. I mean, flash the scene forward, who shouldn’t be disturbed when taking one’s own personal inventory, as they say among the Twelve Steppers? We stand, squat and salute but for a moment, then the moment’s gone, right up to the crown, and down along the fallen arches? But before actually doing the math, taking the vows, and shutting the casket, it’s all soil for the poor, boil for the lowlanders and ancient toil for the rich. My own backyard’s become so indie-concentrate and fast tracked foreign ivy, I don’t reckon I could fathom the silly soles of a brand new Buster Brown two-page display without rotting first in some hot buttered real estate bubble bath or crackling in the next zoo-laced tropical depression, greener than Kentucky bluegrass, choking down a bucket-sized box of Daisy Duke’s own sunshine fried to the hilt, schlepping one small schlep for mankind, one giant planetarium for the Godfish speaking English to the sums by way of software. So yes, I’ve got a bone or two to pick with the sudden powers of the air who tricked me this way, and I don’t have an irreverant amount of time left to do so. Therefore I humbly request a soldier’s reprieve if I am to continue to rewrite this wrong, and peg my thoughts to the Colossal Board of Education that had no choice but to let me down in an upright position into a dark shale tank of sharks now circling the globe, sharks nobody hates but everybody fears.

Reminds me of when I got snookered, snagged actually, peeking a little too soon with my boniface nigh straight smacked across the cheeks by a fool’s full house smug in a sleight of dirty hands some call prestidigitation over America, somewhat resembling a Jennifer hoax come clean into a jar of marmalade reckoning machine. One thing is for damned sure nasty, though often passing for tasty—I ain’t quite comfortable living large in my own skin, or the Lord’s own coloring book as my Great Uncle Noah King James used to call it, and frankly, I’m neither too proud nor poor mouthed to admit I’ve not only done been that way for most of my life, probably since this first day at McIntosh Elementary when Missus Smith’s class, my own of course, took leave for lunch, and I got left behind in the bathroom washing up my tidy white hands without a clue or a crumb trail to track my way back down the hallway and over to wherever the cafeteria was hiding that day. Missed lunch altogether that day. Avoid mad dashes to somewhere else even to this day. Least I tried. There’s a reason for everything.

Some might think that this was my first memory. But it’s not. I have secluded others pre-dating this school lunch fiasco, but it surprises me how so few early memories so many others I have interviewed have retained. Perhaps excellent memory is a narcissistic trait. One that has yet to be claimed as such. But what do I know of such things? My mother, on the other hand, made it her life’s work to know these things about people. She always wanted to organize and control the sticky labels that all screeds of men and women and children use to spank and sport each other. Then there’s the slap, the kick, the scream, the yell, the bawling, the hug, the quiet, the you name, she wanted to categorize it. It’s true. I am somewhat like my mother. In fact, of all my siblings I am my mother’s son. But as east is to west and west is to east, I am not my mother. Our similarities are not our differences. Our behavioral differences are easily detected, and are regarded as salient points on the Maginot line we each drew in the feisty red clays of heritage in persisting in our own escape, each from our own strong mothers.

In fact, I’m an actually damn fright on the harsh side of strictly uncomfortable going public eyeballs with all my skin. But what unquestionable choice do I have? Sure, I could lose a supermodel or two on the JC plan, and still make for a strapping fellow, I am told, but why should I lose two supermodels, if they are also a part of what has become of me? So I’ve decided to go public with the whole story. Alpha. Omega. And all the juicy ooze in between that I can still remembers. Remembers this, memories are not forever, no matter what I or anybody else may tell you when you or your protogé are about to pull a ’65 Marichal-Roseboro maneuver on your closest enemy.

Now, ye fed-up to the gills sons and daughters of that rather imperfect union that keeps us in paper or plastic hock from the bubbling price on our heads down to the gravy velveeta now crusting between our toes, and y’all all know which one I mean, to each of you I must fess up, I must fess up and be park ‘er to the curb honest, perfectly honest you see, maybe I did feel asunder the ill at ease twelve-step even somewhat earlier than that first wicked day at the McIntosh school, but we’ll just vamp into all that ire and loose skin hallucination a bit later. The real fascinatin’ point I was trying to make before I ramble onto this green Virginia slate to secure a fatal patch in this godforsaken wordslinger’s pale territory (pretending to not notice that skeezy old bird, Jayhawk Bill Burr, exploding, yes, flying into a fit of Turquoise Laughter, dropping a dabble or two of paint into his latest novel), is that there truly is no single point to this universe. Worth getting shot over anyways, and I’ve been shot too many times to argue the point anymore, but I have tah be honest with you hustlers, and let’s face it, all readers are hustlers right down to the dotted line. Why honesty, you ask. Because it’s a trip down memory lane rip in my rubber soul. It’s the only bee boppa loola bounce in me, hands down. A twisted helix ripped open personality trait, and dang if, DNA ain’t got nothing on honesty. Honesty is the freedom bomb. That’s right. Honesty is never having to say, “Lester Bangs, you’re dead.”

Didn’t give my name. Don’t think it’s all that important right about now. There is an occasion for everything I was once told. No need to rush things while we’re still laying in the wiring for the matrix of electronic fencing that will guard what the ancestors had deliberately dubbed false idols (for national security reasons) in an age better fit for history than the one we now understand as our own. It’s a matter of framing the information properly, and by that, I certainly don’t mean manufacturing an automobile that looks and rides just like your sweet grandmother’s Second Corinthians Buick from back when. Ah man, still rue the day Chief Pontiac Automotive was killed in a Government Motors knuckle popping, taking with it my ever beloved Bonneville spectacular, but feral machines once re-educated, can often swing productive second lives. History is full of these stories, so we have no need to advance corny science fiction to make our point. An ounce of caution, though. Watch out for the Matiz. Word from the sling. Says it stings like a crossed scorpion. Sings like a Farsi poet stuck in rush hour traffic.

Oh yes, mon frére, re-education camps are slam full of ordinary glam machines. This much has been proven. But this knowledge begs several questions. Does being able to resurrect and mass produce the Pontiac or a dead language or a spitting image of Steven Jobs mean that men are more creative than God? Or is the fact that God can and does seemingly create limitless numbers of persons, unique individuals, humans on the make, without ever the need to repeat Himself suggest that He, God, the Almighty, the Everliving Ghost is exponentially the more creative, the most awesome, the absolute beginning and end of all things we reckon by?

Jury is out. Never fails. Another fat day in the frat boy war…

My own name. I might get around to it in a chapter or so. As you can already surmize, I have or pretend to have a lot to say, and perhaps more than a dozen ways to say it. All the important names have already been taken anyway, they say. But I do have some vital italicized history to share, some famous names to drop in the old rust bucket, and some secretly pleated trousers to iron fist as I fetch and claw to the end of this rather ordinary tale, so bear with me if you’ve got the time, and the literary itch, but I reckon not many folks this side of the No Child Left Behind crowd have either anymore.

Death is over-romanticized. Romanticism, both the scarlet and black, pink and passionate pale varieties have been mollycoddled not to death, but to near death, and the experiences just keep on spelling fluency for the influential. Of fangs and fruit flies, the fruit flies win the race eventually. Chaos is come, but order, or shall we say, the organizing principle, shall seize the day, fury once again vanquished, once again made fluid. Time has damned near gone extinct on Southern Man’s watch. His Internet no longer breeds liberty and his global warming rhetoric is the stuff of David Foster Wallace straddling his Year of the Love Is Blue Period. All this huffing and puffing and blowing America dry will doubtlessly run its course, both tactically and strategically. The dog tires. The wind extols countless efforts yet faithful to the chain of evidence. All ribbons and badges run counter to the image. Just like dignity, gut resolve ain’t never been photographed by the paparazzi or one’s next of kin. Makes my blood boil when it ain’t icing up. And I’m no GG Allin if you catch my drift…

Actually, now that I think of it, my name and my birth details can be found in my first recollection. Masquerading now as the prime novelist, back then I was the cull poet. Guess I can fill in a few details I left out in that book. I was born at the Palm Beach Air Force Hospital which was closed in 1962. I guess this is important information now that we’ve elected an American president of uncertain origins. Frank miscalculations are the ultimate strategy for those short on the courtesies of fair play, long on the bird in the hand.

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