David Swartz "RELIGION WITH AN EDGE"
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Farley's Last Stand

 

for Grace Klimik

                        

 

The Emerson Convalescent Center

230 Boulevard K

Emerson, Montana 59102

 

July 21, 2012

 

Serenity Grace Agency

117 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10016

 

To Whom It May Concern:

 

I enclose several pertinent memoranda and the holograph copy alluded to as a possible inclusion on the fall list of the most suitable publishing corporation you may deem eager for this sort of  thing, all proceeds to benefit the Center here and its further contribution to Convalescent and Phrenological science.  Academic or mass market, this work is not mid-list.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Robin Garrilick, Ph.D., Chairwoman

Department of Behavioral Health

 

THE EMERSON CONVALESCENT CENTER

230 Boulevard K

Emerson, Montana 59102

 

MEMORANDUM OF MARCH 3, 2012

 

FROM:        Melissa Wistful, M.S.W.

             Department of Social Services

 

TO:          Robin Garrilick, Ph.D., Chairwoman

             Department of Behavioral Health

 

CONCERNING:  Personal effects of Stace Benson, resident of this institution, now lately deceased.

 

Mr. Benson, having no living relatives or personal contacts, in which manner are we to dispose off the following:

 

1)                     Acme Bros. 312D5 Self-propelling Motorized Chair.

2)                     Denson stereo equipment.

3)                     Assorted posters and allied memorabilia from past association with various musical organizations, to include Country Joe and the Fish, Santana, The Holy Modal Rounders, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Kiss, The Grateful Dead . . . .

4)                     45 Bic Disposable Lighters.

5)                     15 cartons of Camel Regulars.

6)                     Wedding band.

7)                     Patient reserve fund in the amount of $59.65.

8)                     An indeterminate number of compact discs and audio tapes.

9)                     Three pairs of 12D zippered boots.

10)                  Good News Bible.

11)                  6 Hawaiian shirts.

12)                  A loose-leaf three inch binder containing correspondence, approximately 180 pages holograph, from one Frank "Fart" Farley, current address or disposition unknown, the express purpose stated by Benson himself to yours truly, M. Wistful, as an oral will and testament, that they and the final listed memorabilia be preserved for posterity and in memoriam to [Benson's dying words] "the years and events subsequent to my own paramount function in this universe, a living repository of an era and individuals perhaps now otherwise but perhaps better off forgotten."

13)                  A gold-filled Bulova pocket watch and chain in an advanced state of disrepair but attested by accompanying affidavit as once the personal property of the late Mr. Jerry Garcia, an entertainer of some notoriety over several decades.

14)                  A collection of 36 antique "roach clips" [Benson's term] in various states of disrepair and having perhaps more of a sentimental attachment to the deceased than current market value.

15)                  The complete editions in mint condition de-acidified and preserved of The New York Times, January 1-3, 2000,

                 the foregoing list with the exception of the enclosed letters in holograph to be disposed of as best adjudged by Dr. Garrilick herself.

 

THE EMERSON CONVALESCENT CENTER

230 Boulevard K

Emerson, Montana 59102

 

MEMORANDUM OF MARCH 23, 2012

 

FROM: Robin Garrilick, Ph.D., Chairwoman

      Department of Behavioral Health

 

TO: Melissa Wistful, M.S.W.

    Department of Social Services

 

CONCERNING: Personal effects alluded to in March 3, 2012 memorandum.

 

Having reviewed the effects of the late Stace Benson, I am recommending that the whole consignment be shipped to the County Incinerator for disposal with the possible exception of the F. F. Farley bound holograph correspondence, the disposition of which will attend upon the recommendation of our Phrenological Consultant and Chief Logician, Rupert D. Jelliffe, Ph.D.

     All action herewith is postponed until upon receipt of his memorandum.

 

cc. R. J.

 

THE EMERSON CONVALESCENT CENTER

230 Boulevard K

Emerson, Montana 59102

 

MEMORANDUM OF JUNE 19, 2012

 

FROM: Rupert D. Jelliffe, Ph.D.

      Phrenological Consultant and Chief Logician

 

TO: Robin Garrilick, Ph.D., Chairwoman

    Department of Behavioral Health

 

CONCERNING: F. F. holograph.

 

My considered recommendation is that the enclosed document be submitted for publication (barring legal difficulties, of which I see none at the moment) in the interest of Phrenological science.  These letters, taken singly and as a whole have importance not only for science.  They're a damned good read.

 

THE TEXT:

 

288 Forest Avenue

Paramus, NJ 07652

June 28, 1998

 

Mr. Stace Benson

Room 26A

Emerson Convalescent Center

230 Boulevard K

Emerson, Montana 59102

 

Dear Stace,

 

     You'll never guess who this is.  A lady in the library found your address on the Internet, and here I am—your old buddy.  That's right—Fart Farley.

     When they shipped you out after the breakdown, I thought you'd turn up dead real soon.  And then I heard you was out again and then back in the whole way from copping bad dope, far worse, in fact, and now you're a vegetable. Right?  All over chipping smack—what the hell did they lace it with anyways?  (By the way, if my English don't suck too bad and the inside address is in the right spot, I'm not just trying hard.  They sent me to secretarial school the last job I lost due to flatulation (sp?) when I had it made—just up and down all day on a elevator with a stool to sit and all, and I was letting gas too much, and that was the end of it.)  Say, I hope I hear from you.

 

Hugs and kisses

 

Fart

 

288 Forest Avenue

Paramus, NJ 07652

July 15, 1998

 

Mr. Stace Benson

Room 26A

Emerson Convalescent Center

230 Boulevard K

Emerson, Montana 59102

 

Dear Stace,

 

     I knew damn well it was you.  It had to be you.  There ain't but two Stace Bensons in the whole country and one's a used car dealer and the other's a quad and guess who I picked?  That is, I heard you was a quad from Shakey the last time I ran into him over at Garvey's Petro.  And guess what he did just a month back?  Took his uncle's Colt and blew out the side of his head.

     Got fed up, I guess, after they took him off disability.

     So I write you a nice friendly letter, and what do I get back?  Words I can't even spell.  And what the hell does this mean—

     "In sudden time that eats all wounds, we'll copulate with worms,

      my noble friend."

     Just what the hell does it mean?

     Whatever it means it sure don't look like you're handling things just peaches and cream and all that.  Remember "Cream"?  Remember Fillmore East?  Remember the old paregoric trick?

     The times we had!

     The other morning I get up early, see, at the Nursery, and I step out and the sun is just breaking over the Fitness Center, and it's all rosy-like and there's a chill in the air, and I take a deep breath, and what do you think crosses my mind?  Yeah.  You got it.  We all got to croak.  Sooner or later we croak and there ain't a damn thing you can do for it besides keep on getting up every day and watching the sun rise over the Fitness Center where all the yuppies are working out to slow it down, but all those big shiny cars, those utility vehicles and big mean Chevies, and all that muscle don't signal more than a couple of months they buy it off, and then they go too.  That's it, right?  That's what you meant?  Well I go back inside and open up a Miller's and drain half of that down, and then I go out and tune up the Rambler and hot wire it and drive over to the outlet and pick up a whole case of that brand and come back here and get your letter and open it up and find out the same damn thing I already knew from looking over at the Fitness Center and having it all turn sour as a turd in a salad bar—namely, that is, well you said it better than old Frank Farley could.  But then I'm still sucking Miller's and with a little luck some reefer come Saturday.  Haaah!

 

A big kiss

from Fart

right

on your

juicy mouth.

Goddamn!

 

288 Forest Ave

August 4, 1998

 

The Convalescent Center

Emerson, Montana

 

Dear Stace,

 

     You'll never guess what happened to me.  I went over to visit my ex, and she went out to baby sit the neighbor's kid, and I curled up on the floor and commenced to concentrate real hard and it all come back, the time I was hitching on the Interstate and some spades picked me up in a Lincoln and passed me back a jay and it must of been angel dust cause pretty soon I can see 50 miles ahead down a tunnel with everything black besides the tunnel, and just when I was getting into it, the dream I'm having on the floor, curled up fetal like a frigging embryo, my daughter steps in with some friends and one wise ass says "Who's the old man on the floor?" and Omy (you met her), she says, "Don't mind him.  It's my father.  He's all burned out."  And after that they laugh a while and I get up and find my guitar case and my wine and walk right out of there slow like, under complete control, and knowing that there was some smelly drawers on more than one of them before I made the door.

     By the way, you owe me a letter, leastwise one.  That postcard got here but I couldn't make out what you was trying to say beyond something about spirals on the left side of your head.  Well, anyways, I hope you cop a big burrito tonight to suck on and maybe you won't feel so bad.  I'd hate to tell you the dreams I get.

 

Love,

 

Your old

buddy, Fart

 

 

288 Forest

October 16, 1998

 

Emerson, Montana

 

Dear Stace,

 

     When a dude has to write his letters like you do, I understand they come hard and not too many.  You got to understand that I understand things ain't that cheerful.  But then you can't have that many friends either, for Cripes sake.  But what's this mean—

"This nectar tastes of the sieve."

And this

"The noblest vision is a hole in God."

And this

"All human discourse is small talk."

     I always knew you was wired, Stace, even in '69 when I met you at Woodstock.  Christ, didn't that stink?  And the way they used to go on about it.  Well this guy knows for damn sure it was one big pain in the ass.  Nowhere to take a decent crap, nowhere to sleep, even sit half the time, and everybody hollering about peace and love, and the only pretty ladies bare ass the ones you seen later in the film.  Yeah, the music was good, even excellent, but Joe McDonald stunk, and who else did we go there for?  And then, to top it off, I get the shits and pass out and the next thing I know they was dumping me on my dad's front steps at the Nursery with a load down my legs and a puked up shirt and one shoe gone and a broken front tooth.  I'm telling you.  But then you know, at least you did.  Smart guy like you with nearly a Ph.D. from Iowa till you got in with the Workshop crowd and a bad bag of heroin.  Times like this I could sure use your brains.  Because it's confusing.  The music stinks.  Can't even buy a decent strobe.  And then my daughter (Omy) showing up at the Nursery for a hand-out with some spade in a Benz and a silk suit on him and one of those earrings on the wrong side.  I give up.

 

Well, see ya.

 

Fart

 

 

Forest

November 9, 1998

 

Dear Stace,

 

     Christ, it's cold.  All that talk about global warming, and me freezing my ass off (gonads included?  Haaah!).  What's this latest shit you sent me?  Some kind of diagram you claim explains the Universe:

                   

               

         "Creation                                        Preservation

                                      6Ә

                                    Calm Center

             9               

                                 Transformation."

 

     All about how you could change things if you had enough reefer and the time to concentrate.  But what the hell do you have, laying around all day in that chair with a hose in your privates, sucking Camels and eyeing the colored aides?  Stace, I always known you was bent out of shape, but that diagram beats all.  I send off a good-size missive and get back your diagram about "Evolution" or whatever else you run on about, and "Greetings."  No huggy huggy kissy kissy, just a crazy scrawl with arrows and directions.  What the hell can I do about it?  The world ain't changing, Stace, for nobody, and you know it.  Life sucks.  It always sucked even back to the pyramids.  You used to buy a whole kilo for what you pay for an ounce these days, or even what was no more than a dime bag, and Christ, it's so strong you got monsters coming out of the set when all you want to do is relax with some old footage they got on PBS.

     Which turned commercial too, gradual-like with nothing all that cheerful no more beyond World War II clips and some British spy movies.  But what's this shit about "Evolution," Stace?  It ain't evolution.  It's evacuation.  I'd rather be a rock or some kind of mineral than the damn yuppies that tool by here on the way to Manhattan mornings in their BMW's.  More often than that those big ass Lincoln 4 by 4's or Rovers so as to navigate the potholes without having to shell out to fill them in or pave them proper so that losers like me in their Ramblers don't get swallowed up just going to the supermarket.  God knows it ain't fair.  And Stace Benson's fixing to change it with a frigging diagram? 

 

"The world is, at best, a spiral expanding from its own direction."—

What the hell is that supposed to mean? 

     Don't go psycho on me, spaceman.  You're the only friend I got, and Christmas coming on like a maniac and I got to eat turkey again, not to mention Thanksgiving.  Well, I'm running out of steam here.  Just closing with a big bear hug and some sweet nothings in your beautiful ears.

 

Fart Farley

 

288

November 30, 1998

 

Dear Stace,

 

     Here I get this postcard, and all it says is—

"The truly bright are never confused long enough to learn anything."

     Now if that ain't depressing, what is?  Besides that, it makes no sense.  Why do you got to confuse your old buddy now that he's writing prompt and proper the saga of his miserable depressing life?  How do they say it now?  You got to VENT? 

     Remember Dylan at the Garden?  Remember that?  Christ, that was venting!

     How did The Band put it?  "Take a load off, Annie.  Take a load for free."

     Dylan and The Band.  Last damn concert we went to and somebody had the divine mercy to pass a proper jay (big as a White Owl) and, hell, it was paradise on earth.  Old Rubber Ranson venting on the way back in his Porsch, the 3 of us jammed in and venting.  What do they know about venting?  Hell, Rubber was the biggest head of all time, now, wasn't he?  Bigger than Garcia.  1967, was it?  Out on the Coast, thumbing a ride, and somebody pulled up in an Edsel, and they ended in a blind spade's crash pad and (how did old Rubber put it?) they handed him a quart (a quart, mind you) of pure acid, and Rubber just stuck his finger in and licks it off and the next thing he's off, like a asteroid, and on like that for 3 years, most of it in the psych wards, practicing guitar till he said he was better than Clapton.  And then he comes down into this stinking world, late '70 when the whole thing's over but Cocker and maybe one or two others not sold out, and somebody out of the past comes up to him and says, "Have you discovered Elton John?"  As if anybody even a tenth cool would give a pinch of shit about some tired fag with funny sunglasses!  And Rubber can't even play no more, can't even tune it.

     I'll never forget that last night with old Rubber Ranson, coming back in his blown out Porsch, all cramped up but mellow as a dude can get, the whole rush of "Blowing in the Wind," all three of us stuffed in the Porsch and singing our hearts out, and when we was on Martha, the lower deck of the G.W., a back tire blew (remember that?) and we waited in the rain for 6 and a half hours for the truck and got nothing but a lot of deadbeats in fancy cars just slowing down for a look-see at 3 old hippies bummed totally out by another twist of the handle in the big old cosmic machine that it was when Lennon died.

     Down enough even for me, old buddy?  You hang in there and maybe they'll find a cure.  Fire up a Camel and remember.  Remember how it was in the Garden and all but the last 6 and a half hours when even the guy on the Cross would have traded off for what we went through.

 

Your bosom

bosom fraternal

buddy,

  

Frank "Fart" Farley

 

PS.  You got anything to recommend for a bad tooth? 

 

PPS.  Turkey-day sucked. 

Ain't it always? 

Hope you was OK. 

 

288

December 13, 1998

 

Dear Stace,                         

 

     Just how are you?  You'll never guess what happened to me.  I been having pain in one of the molars for months now (did I mention it?) but no money to get it done over proper when I saw an ad in the Laundromat for a Puerto Rican dentist that comes cheap, so I call and the lady says come right in, eager like, and I say, lady, I got limited resources, and she says, exactly what I was willing to pay, and I say 10, and she says it's 25 with the Novocain, and I say, how much without?  What do you know, I end up getting it pulled cold turkey about 3 in the afternoon, and all I could smell was garlic and cologne and my own sweat when he got the pliers out and went for it.  Christ, I was hollering all the way to the South Bronx, and then, Stace, it was out, and he holds it up and asks me in very good English about did it hurt as much as I was really letting on.  I nearly lost it, Stace, sitting there on the edge of the chair and just wanting to nail the S.O.B. and retrieve my money back which was in his pocket, and shaking to the bus where a fat lady took up most of the seat and all of a sudden was rubbing against me and trying to pick me up, and just about home when I run into old Marv Peters from the filling station that got on, when the transmission went and I had to entertain him for another hour and change, me giving him the whole story and just hoping to make it to the liquor outlet for something to settle the nerves, cause the pain was eased up by then.

     I'm sorry if I got morbid with that.  Life ain't so bad really.  How did Rubber put it?  McCartney on the left, Jagger on the right, and you burn right down the middle.  Stace, he was just like you.  A thinker!  Burn right down between say Jagger and McCartney or Lou Reed and Lennon say, and what was waiting at the very very end?  The Ultimate!  The Ultimate.

     You may not believe this, but there's people out there now never heard of Mick Jagger let alone what's left of him.  Sad as it sure does seem.  And you know what?  I got one in the front now's aching.

 

Love,

 

F. F. Farley

 

288

December 15, 1998

 

Dear Stace,

 

     Stace, old buddy, I had to clear out.  Got in a bad argument with the brother and he went for the Remington and me for the stairs and he let go some that are still in my ass, the right cheek, so it even hurts to sit.  I call my old lady, and even she won't let me crash.  $23 and an old Rambler and my best velvet coat with the ruffled sleeves and parked just off Columbia U. early in the AM writing to you with a massive black dude on the hood of the car smoking crack.  Life really sucks.

 

Later,

 

F. F. F.

 

December 23, 1999

 

Dear Stace,

 

     I got a job.  By Christ, a fucking JOB!  They was taking on staff holidays, and Sterns had an ad out, and I washed up good at Grand Central and went in for the interview, and I can sleep nights in the stock room—no shit—for the interim till I find a place to crash of my own.  Merciful Jesus!  Just when all goes dark and horrible Fart Farley is fully employed.  I can't believe it.  I just can't believe it! Stopped in on the old man early when the trigger-happy brother was sure as hell sleeping one off, and there was your card!  An Angel, for Cripes sake.  A fucking angel.  Stace, it's turning!  My whole life, Stace.  Just like you said it would, and what falls out but a twenty in mint condition, bless your sweet sweet ass, and this message (remember it?  You wrote it right under the greeting)—

"The most loving gift a parent can ever bestow upon a child is a full-blown neurosis."

     Stace, it all made sense.  It fell into place.  All my life I've been in a box.  In a dark smelly box with a bad flashlight and a jigsaw puzzle I been trying to piece together in bad light with not even a tenth of the room to spread it out, and then comes this card.  I've been blessed!  I'm neurotic!  I always somehow knew it, but you brought it all into focus.  It explains the whole thing.  Stace, the whole frigging Cosmos.  All those years in the box and I now got a real job and a place to crash till it turns permanent.  Hell, I'm even starting to like people.

     Got to head for the Goodwill Box to forage for some work clothes.  Mail this en medias res?  Christ, Stace, I'm nearly God.

 

 Your grateful, ever indebted

 faithful servant,

 

 Frank F. Farley

 

Bergen County Office of Civil Correction

December 25, 1998

 

Dear Stace,

 

    Yes, Stace, it's Christmas.  And where's your old buddy, Fart?  In Hackensack, 21 Main Street, Stace.  Know that address?  Give it a try.  You're right!  The County Jail.  Sure as God made little green monkeys.  My very last stamp and a borrowed envelope and fitting this on the front and back like a postcard, mind you, writing small as I can make it.  Busted!  Guess where?  At the Goodwill Box.  Spending one more Savior's birthday with the usual accommodations--bars, walls, a cot, and a crapper.  Two fags across the aisle very cozy.  And Stace Benson don't believe me.  Check out the envelope.  All over a pair of overalls and some work boots, and no way in God's infinite mercy to get to work till I'm sprung.

     What did Stace Benson offer on the subject?  (I just took one of your many many cards out of my jacket.)  And what did Stace say?  Here it is, Stace, your words, not mine—

"Some strange deliverance that,

waddling toward my lap.

I'd just begun to take a nap and wakened to a nightmare."

     300 big ones, Stace.  300 big ones wired here posthaste and I'll be back on track. 

     Farley will prevail!

 

You brush your lips against

my defiance,

my stringy matted hair.

Hope you can read this.

Love,

 

Fart.

 

December 29, 1998

 

Dear Stace,

 

     Pretty poetic, wasn't it?  I'm on my way.  On my way.

     Got your 300, praise God.

     Just in time for the evening shift.  Going to stay off the sauce now even this solitary blessed night, slouching toward 2000.

     I think I been hanging out with the wrong crowd anyways.  Besides, I'm solvent.

                                                                             

Hugs and kisses,

 

Farley

 

PS.  They're offering a creative writing course nights at the YMHA with a real writer.  And it's only 25 for the whole ten weeks.  Don't be surprised if one of these days I'm famous.

 

PPS.  I always liked your duck poem, Stace.  It had real potential.

 

288

January 13, 1999

 

Dear Stace,

 

     Two days after the sale they can me.  Can you imagine?  But the brother ended with the bad DT's and it was safe to move back in because he's up state in some kind of center for winos and stuff.  And I'm back to square one.  Jesus.  But that's life.  Right?  And what's on the mail tray over the Motorola but your latest wisdom—

"Paradox is the womb of utterance."

And—

"All human utterance is an attempt to define God."

And (this one I really like!)—

"The measure of a man is the strength of his clichés."

     I got to hand it to you, Stace—no boredom.  And to tell the truth I was glad to be out of there, all the rich flat-chested broads with the neon smiles and getting all tight when I get around to cracking something off color.

     And then there was a guy—you won't believe this—from the Mormons that stood on the table in the lounge every break and told jokes out of Reader's Digest and Boy's Life and another dude that used to surreptitious-like lick the crotches on the manikins and dig in his ass and such and smell his pits and laugh like some kind of fright-film extra and pick his nose and rub it off on the show cases.  And they got the nerve to tell me I was scaring the customers!

     Christ, Stace, you never seen such losers, druggies and winos and born agains and even a Quaker, mind you, just when I thought they was all dead.  Well, I'm back at the Nursery and two paychecks coming in by the end of the month and a whole case of Miller's to tide me over till Sunday when Rance gets back.  Right now all I need is a big old White Owl burrito to make it solid 120 percent and sure as hell better than working 18 hours overtime for a bunch of deadbeats that got no respect for their betters let alone the common average man.

     One thing's sure, Stace.  Life is looking almost as good as if Billy Joel never existed.

     Hang in there, old buddy.  I send thee three tokes-worth-of-Panama-Red kind of big-ass hug and a sloppy kissy kissy from your old comrade in the purgatorial fires, Fart Farley, in this current suck-ass decade.

 

Later.

 

288

February 9, 1999

 

Dear Stace,

     Guess what.  They threw me out of the writing class second night in for reasons not that clear, I think, even to them—mostly about how my first shot at it was totally "a-grammatical and plebian"—I'm quoting from the non-Aryan fag's remarks all over my title page.  Anyways, all they did was read from The New Yorker and talk real polite and nibble on little sandwiches they brought in and other stuff not worth repeating.  He (she) said there was only one way to write anyhow, and that it was a cross between Updike and Philip Roth, dudes you already warned me about in the old days.  The prof was a dead ringer for the guy that wrote Cold Blood?  In Cold Blood.  Somebody gave a little speech about contributing to the legal fund or something, and then they all headed out for coffee at Barnes and Noble or some other square place, and all I could think of on the way back was about the only one in there with good tits, who turned out to be the totally wrong gender.  Live and learn.  What you doing tonight?  Cruising around the ward in your motor chair and sucking down Camels from a cath tube?  I know you, Stace.  You got better things on your mind than the YMHA in downtown Hackensack.

     Just looked again at your card.

"Knowledge is the helpmate of closed minds."

     And—

 

"Better a confounded dullard than a convinced mathematician."

     You got it all figured.  Right?  Old Stace Benson sucking on a Camel—who on this whole frigging planet'd ever guess, even have the slightest clue, that the fountain of all wisdom is flat on his back with a hose in his tool, sucking Camels, in The Emerson Convalescent Center, Emerson, Montana, just south of Billings? 

     That's what makes the whole thing taste so perfectly good.

     Hang in, chum.

Kissy, kissy,

 

Fart

 

PS.  Rance never even come back.  He ain't coming back.  He got diagnosed with the big CA in his brain (like a starfish, the doc said), and it wasn't DT's after all.  He's a goner, Stace, and I got his whole collection of water pipes that he hung onto even when he was selling even Dad's suppositories to pay for the sauce.

     It's over, Stace, the whole nightmare.  No more juking around dodging bird shot or waking up in the middle of the night with him holding a lug wrench and staring down-like as if you was about to join the worm club.  Rance is out of it, Stace.  M.D. said 4 months at the outside.  Gaahddamnn!!

                                                                                                                                                                                       

PPS.  Ever hear anything about something called Y2K?

 

 

288 Forest

 

Stace,

 

    The Feds were by again last Wednesday checking out the greenhouse.  When will they ever give up?  Flat out dumber, more grossly ignorant than a slug or some other crawler that scares you when you got half a bag on and you look at yourself too long in the mirror.

     Christ, those guys give me the creeps—flat eyes like you find on a raccoon or maybe Tom Landry—remember him?  Always the same hat and no more emotion than a cup of herbal tea or Mellaril or something.  A Quaker maybe.  Stace, just Sunday I tried them out.  Guy at Sterns I mentioned came by in a second hand Taurus and drove me out to Ridgewood.  I come back thinking they was A OK when I get a call the same afternoon if I would serve on the Religious Education committee or paint the lower stairwell.  And they got money, Stace.  Tons of it.  Come across as plain folks, simple-like and much too friendly, when they got more greenbacks than that crazy little rat of a Ross Perot—ever seen him, the way he rears back and laughs?  Only thing visible right then is the roof of his mouth, when you know damn well he's got his fingers on your wallet.

     Take about 20 of the same kind and chill them down and throw in Donald Trump with piles and a dose of your typical book club hen, and you got them pretty well figured.  I may go back once in a while.  You never know.  Scary.

     Puts me in mind of the time with the demons in Big Ed's, but I ain't getting into that right now.  Got to get this in the mail.

 

Love,

 

Fart

 

288

 

Stace,

 

     I never told you about the demons?  For real?  I mean, I never told you?

     And what's this shit?--

"Confusion is the only real blessing of existence."

     Stace, sometimes you give me the creeps.

     So old Farley never told Stace Benson about the demons.

     Remember the summer Nixon resigned?  Remember how we celebrated?  Hell, it got close to a frigging festival, right?  So I go out from my ex at 3 in the AM and passed the barber shop and the drug store (the legal drug store—this ain't a metaphor, Stace) down to the corner where the Excel was (remember the night we was in there shooting pool and downing cold ones and that little ferret of a alkie—I had just edged into a stool at the bar—turned and said, "You look like the last shit I just took," and you let him have it with the stick and there was blood all over my pleated shirt and even my wire rims?).  But anyways, I step out (it was the same frigging night he resigned) and head for Big Ed's Triangle Pizza and step in and order a pie with all the extras, fully loaded, see, and I slide into the booth to wait on the pie, and this weird dude slides in after, just when I was nearly tasting the anchovies and the pepperoni's and our victory over Tricky Dick Nixon, and who slides in the booth but this goddamn born again, and what does he say but "You look like you could use some help."  And I was in a pretty fair mood from the celebration and in no mood to argue, so I said, "What can you do about it?" nice like, not all that confrontational, and he says, "I can take your pain out of your head and ship it back to the Holy Land" (his exact words).  And so I said, because I had nothing to lose those days, something agreeable enough, and he grabbed my head (I had a full beard then) real gentle-like and commenced to holler and pray and carry on about the demons and Jeeeesus (you seen the way they do), and meanwhile the pie was getting cold and Big Ed was looking on in real shock and amazement, and after about a half hour of this the dude finally lets go and looks me straight into the eyes with his own that were all shiny-like and full of light, and he says, "How do you feel?"

     And I say (not meaning to hurt his feelings, mind you, after all the effort he put into it), "About the same."

 

Love and kisses,

 

Farley

 

288 Forest

 

Dear Stace,

 

     Remember what you used to do with the stoplights?  You said it was something to do with Fate or something, even God.  Those days you was an aide in the psych ward at the Pines.  Remember that?  Geriatric Psych?  Old duffers pissing in the bubblers and eating their own "leavings," as you put it then, refined creature that you was.  And every day you watched the stoplights.  Like some big-old Cosmic message, a sign from God.

     You told me back then you just had to wait for the time they were all green on the trip back to your pad over on Third and it would mean that things had locked in, that we were on the verge of it, that any day it would happen, that the sign was when they were all green (and not cheating by speeding up or slowing down, just driving normal), and then after about 5 months of this, it happened, that is, it just about happened.  You was through the whole string without even speeding at a yellow, and you just knew.  You knew!  And then over on Gilmore just before the turn there was a frigging detour and three extra reds and you never did get home with the whole string green.

     Stace, you always were a thinker, and I'll tell you right here that I simply adore your wasted ass.  Not just Stace, the body, cause there ain't much left of that, flat back with a hose in your what's-it, but your mind.  You're the smartest dude I ever met, and old Fart's been around, I mean been around. 

     Like when I tended bar up in Saddle River that month.  Christ, you never heard such high class talk.  I mean I never.  You lived it.  I always knew I was going to run into somebody like you, Stace, somebody that knew the score.  Even Rubber Ranson don't hold a candle to your theories.  Hell, you're mind itself.  How did you put it?  I mean how did Stace Benson put it?  Let me pull out one of your cards.  Here (and this one ain't even dated)—

"Spiral, direction, origin, world exist merely in your own imagination."

     Christ, that's heavy.  Stace Benson said that and Stace Benson is my best friend.  The whole thing boggles the mind.  My mind anyways.

 

Huggy huggy kissy,

 

F. Fart F.

 

Forest

 

Dear Stace,

 

     Old buddy, I'm painting again.  My Aunt Susan sent me 50 and a card for my birthday, and I went out and blew the whole wad on some stretchers and oils and brushes and stuff.  Hell, I feel like Modigliani.  I mean it's a real rush.  Remember the one with the broken whiskey bottle?  I redone it.  Remember George W. and Martha? (the Bridge, Stace).  Remember that canvas?  It was five foot wide and so pretty you nearly passed out.  I redone it.  Remember the nude?  The one of the flat-chested broad holding a dog?  I redone it.  Remember the one of the washers in the Laundromat with babies turning around in the foam?  I redone it.  I redone the whole bundle, Stace, and that slimy S.O.B. that bought me out for 35 when I was down on my luck and then burned the whole collection right there in the parking lot of his church is going to regret it, Stace, because this guy's headed for Immortality.  All I got to do is something clever like cut my ear off or take a sailor dive off the top railing of the Guggenheim and I'm in.  Stace, they're the same frigging paintings and none of that cheap stuff on velvet.  Not this guy.  Did Farley ever compromise in his whole damn career?  Like a shooting star, Stace.  Like a big ass shooting star.  That's what they'll say.  Hell, Jackson Pollock was a pigmy compared to what I redone just last week in a hot fever, doping myself with Maxwell House by the gallon and some of that Valium you sent me.  You and me, Stace, like Theo and Vincent van Gogh.  Only thing that worries me right now is they're starting to warp.

     Hang in there, old buddy.  We're getting set for the big one.

 

Your bosom chum

and fellow aesthete,

 

F. Fart Farley

 

PS.  You sure you never heard of Y2K?

 

288

 

Dear Stace,

 

     Remember when Shakey gave me his Tofranil?  He was having bad dreams or something.  Well I had a flashback last night about one I had on that shit.  I was sitting there glued to some stupid stuff on the Motorola when the black and white all of a sudden had color, and then the picture fuzzed and I rubbed my eyes and there was Stace Benson looking straight out at me, and I felt something on my leg (I was sitting there in my boxers) and I reached down and there was a lump and I took my eyes off the set and looked down, and there was Minnie's head (remember my cat, Minnie?) sticking out of my leg just above the knee, and if I'd of scratched I'd of torn her head right off.  Stace, it was horrible.  For about 3 minutes there was Minnie's head sticking out of my leg.  And just like that it went away, together with the itch, completely back to just my leg there, and I looked up and your face was gone, just an ad there for some kind of Oriental vehicle in the old black and white.  And it was just as if nothing had happened.  A flashback, Stace.  A frigging flashback.

     And all this time I thought they were some kind of Republican propaganda.

     I hope you sleep tonight.

 

Fart

 

288

May 18, 1999

 

Stace,

 

     Buried Rance today.  Scattered him, so to say.  A real bummer.  And the old alkie had the final word.  Ain't making this up, not even a whiff.  Wired the Rambler and coaxed it all the way to the top of Bear Mountain (no small achievement when you assess it proper) where I stepped out into strong wind and opened up the big white container with the Purver Henly Funeral Home decal and the black cross and virgin and let it rip—tossed the whole load right into the wind, and I could swear I heard Rance laughing, that wild crazy cackle he had, when the wind blew most of it back in my face and his artificial knee clanged on the rocks and I looked up for some kind of relief from the whole damn hopeless situation with the echo of it going on, just the echo now, and the Rambler still choking in the lot because I was afraid of being stranded up there with the little bit that was left of him.

 

And that's it, Stace.

Your grieving buddy,

 

Fart

 

 PS. What do I find in the slot the next AM when I was just about fixing to mail this?  Stace Benson's latest wisdom—

"There is no one that does not elevate his own limitations; 

     justice is the solitary condition of human existence."

     Gahddamnnn!

 

288 Forest

June 4, 1999

 

Dear Stace,

 

     This global warming—I thought it was another media con job, but damn it, it almost cost me my sanity, me, Stace, the most steadiest of all human creatures.

     They were paving the lot at the bowling alley on Kinderkamack, and I had just bought a cold one at the White Horse and had it in a brown bag like usual, and it must have been 95 F and I was sipping slow-like, savoring the whole bouquet, when all of a sudden two squad cars swoop in and this big dude with a buzz and flat eyes gets out and says how he needs a look-see at the bottle, and I knew I was about to be busted so I took off on foot down Kinderkamack, sprinting, if you can believe that, anyways as fast as this old body could propel itself, with 2 cop cars trailing and the sirens and the whole general hubbub, and I turn at the bowling alley and lose my footing and slide about a hundred foot on the hot tar from the fresh paving and the sun, and I up and running through the alleyway by the Laundromat, and the dryers were blowing lint out the vents, and by the time I made it to safety I looked like a big old turkey buzzard, just damn near tarred and feathered, and my guitar case was gone and my leather hat, with a hole in the seat of my brand new second-hand Levis.

     Stace, I looked awful.  And besides that, I was all sweatied up from the greenhouse effect, and the Rambler was back there on Kinderkamack and there was no way I was going to retrieve it, no way I could, without bringing on major time for resisting arrest.

     I sat there a while and counted my change and had enough and took the first bus into Manhattan, and out the Port Authority and down 42nd Street—you should see it now, Stace, damn near beautiful—but still the hookers and hustlers, just more subdued, and the show crowd and even the German tourists watching this big old tarred and feathered hippy heading past, not too direct, mind you (I must have been pretty scary) but nevertheless watching, and I catch the bus on Madison to Fred Pincher's condo on Third and Lex and the doorman makes the call for me and, won't you know, 10 minutes on old Pincher had me in the hot tub and a fresh suit of duds with the tags still on, and I sleep that night on satin and wake early with Pincher cleared out (he's big time now, Stace, a lawyer for the City Council) and a note to call 201 967-4000.

     So I dialed three times before I got it right (my hands kept missing the buttons I was so strung out) and there's a recorded message on there, and it ain't Pincher no ways but some young princess with a Brooklyn accent saying, "This is the Mid-Bergen Mental Health Center.  Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 8:30 PM.  Should this be an acute psychiatric emergency, remain on the line."  And all from the frigging greenhouse effect.

     Stace, have you still heard nothing about the Y2K coming up?  I'm finally in the loop on this one.  It's going to be bigger than the Second Coming, Stace.  There must be millions out in Idaho already filling sand bags and laying in provisions for when the whole mess shows up.  Right now, even now, it's just a blip on the screen, Stace, but just you wait.

 

A soul kiss

from your one and only

 

Fart

 

288

July 4, 1999

 

Dear Stace,

 

     I been sucking down Miller's all day, just hoping to get through the miserable omnipresent frigging suck-ass 4th, Stace.  The big old ugly flag craze.  Who gives a shit?  I don't.  The 4th of fucking July.  And tonight this whole area lit up—when all we did was steal it from the Indians.  Makes me puke.  Even the dogs celebrate this one.  What did they used to say?  "Love it or leave it."  Where you going to go now? Sure as hell not Russia.  Even China's in our pocket.  They been talking about shipping old Mao out on a Boeing to Disneyland for the tourists to check out.  Well in 3 hours it's over and I'm good for another year.

 

Love,

 

F.F.F.

 

PS.  I just laid in another case of Miller's and a carton of Spam as a prophylactic measure.  Hardest thing is coming up with the U.S. green stuff, and they say there's going to be a run on the banks.  Just don't trust what you hear on Public Radio.  They been sold out years ago like the rest.  Even Prairie Home Companion's gone free enterprise.  Hell, they're further right than the Wall Street Journal.  All hell fixing to bust loose and the Republicans talking about a tax cut.

 

PPS.  I'm digging a shelter out by that big shed Dad put up in '73.  Laying in ammo and stuff.  And don't trust Bradley or Gore neither.  They're all on the payroll.

 

288

July 29, 1999

 

Dear Stace,

 

     Guess what my ex is up to.  Trying to set me up like 5 years back.  Same damn story.  Opera in the Park.  Can you imagine?  Sucked me into it once, but this cat wises up.  Hell, her and her boyfriend piled into the Rambler that August (was it July?) because Marvin T. (the paramour)'s car was in the shop, and we headed down 4 toward Martha, the air so hot even the slipcovers burned your fingers.  And the Rambler's bucking and stalling out through the tolls and the whole damn world is en route to the Fat Guy, Provolone, and a sexy spade chick with decent lungs and all that, but they give me trouble in the garage over the headlight's out and park it next to a Rolls, and I'm in my best velvet jacket and worrying all the time how they just might rip off the Rambler for the parts, and we get there and it's Squaresville, Stace, a million yuppies on fancy blankets sucking expensive wine and all loaded up on self-importance and food I wouldn't feed to a damn possum, even one in the way of being all that non-discerning enough to even consider it a remote possibility.  God, it stunk!

     Provolone and the spade chick on stage and a sea of the worse kinds you could ever imagine, me and the ex and Marvin T. the only ones pulling down less than 6 figures but those two happy as a pig in BM and me like a stalled car in a ghetto, wandering off to check out Strawberry Fields and nostalgic as hell for a taste of something real, when I traded my pleated shirt for a bottle of Seagrams and made it back in time for the finale and the ex complaining about my bare chest and how it was soooooo embarrassing.  And then back to the Rambler and over Martha's belly to relative sanity, but all the time Rigoletto this and Luciano that, and I had the worse damn migraine of my life and a swollen bladder, just aching to be anywheres but still on 4, and then it was over.

 

Fart

 

PS.  Do you still got that Velvet Underground tape I lent you?

 

PPS.  It's getting closer.  Closer every damn day and they're still pissing and moaning about lowering our taxes half a percent.

 

288 Forest

August 8, 1999

 

Dear Stace,

 

     Some more yuppies by the other day, hoping to buy us out.  God, they make me sick.  Just about the way they got those alligators on their shirts, and even their briefcases and they way they stink of money.  Anyways, this couple stopped, pulled in by Porsch Boxster, and I was hard at it in the heat, digging out my shelter, and I asked, did they need flowers and the skinniest one (hell, I ain't seen a Yuppie yet that wasn't skinny) said, "No, we'd kind of like to look over your place here just in case you'd like to put it on the market."

     Stace, we got 5 and a half acres here of prime real estate in the richest county east of DesMoines, Iowa.  You can't imagine what it's worth.  Hell, you seen it.  The thing is a week don't go by without one of them (maybe 3) stopping by to check it out.  And you ask them what they want it for and they kind of grin and act real nervous-like and check their watches (cheapest one on them I ever seen was a Rolex.  Haah!) and climb back in their Benzes or Porsches and tear right back on out of there.

     This time my dad come out and asked me if they were buying some of the wild flowers from the greenhouse, and they said, no, they were interested in buying the place, and Dad got real salty and asked them if they thought he was going to die, and they get all embarrassed-like, fingering their briefcases and the alligators on their polo shirts, and then he hollered they should just clear the hell out and leave us in peace.

     Stace, they even been watching us from the roof of the Fitness Center.  Just the other Saturday AM there was one of them up there with binoculars, and I seen him again Tuesday even in the fog.  Probably wanting to know what I'm doing with the shelter.

     I had Randy Morphew's dad in here with the pick-up to haul out some of the dirt just yesterday.  It's coming along real good, and I been laying in more Miller's and Spam and ammo and things, and just Wednesday I read about a place in Maryland where they got Army surplus stuff like flak jackets and helmets and cartridge belts and (would you believe it?) Browning automatic rifles (B.A.R.'s like Audie Murphy used to carry) and even surplus grenades and launchers and such.

     When you think of it, there's a lot of scared people out there that's going to be pissing themself to move on in here when the glitch hits, and dudes like me that's got it read right will have to protect every damn thing they laid away.  Clock strikes midnight it's going to be total chaos.

 

Well, hang in there,

 

Fart

 

PS.  I was back at the Quakers, and all they done was go on about how the Feds was going to come in and "repossess their homes" and such because one of their group got carried away and dented up a silo lid out in Utah with a sledge hammer.  They got in one hell of a fight over it right in the middle of the service, and a little fat guy was running around saying as how they all should "center down" so as not to be "eldered."  Stace, I ain't going back.  You know what they say, "Three strikes you're out," and I already gave them two.

 

Later.

 

22 Speedwater Blvd.

Hastings, Maryland 07785

 

Stace,

 

     It's pretty down here.  See the Howard Johnson's?  I stopped off there for chili and a shake and bought this card.  Everything's on track.  I got the stuff and a lot more.

 

Kissy kissy,

 

F.F.F.

 

288 Forest

August 31, 1999

 

Dear Stace,

 

     Been digging like a maniac.  Randy's dad just hauls it away, sweet old duffer that he is.  And there's not that much time.  Just yesterday there were three guys on the roof of the Fitness Center (I could a sworn there was three).  Well, I got room now for the Browning.  It's still in the crate, and the instructions are hard, but I got 3,000 rounds of ammo just waiting, and old Fart will prevail.  You won't believe all the stuff I hauled back from "Mereland" (that's how they say it down there).  Dad set me up with 700 big ones because he's just as disgusted as me about the whole situation, yuppies, mind you, and them taking over the universe.

     Stace, I got me two helmets with the liners, a flak jacket, two gas masks with the nerve gas kits case they really get desperate and go that far.  I got a tarp to cover it all and I got some K rations and canteens (the U. S. regulation kind, not your Boy Scout shit).  I got a M-1 for Dad and a bayonet with it they just threw in.  I got a hundred rounds to go with that one and I got a walky-talky and some concertina wire and things.  Stace, I'm having a frigging ball.

     And theories—I got theories, Stace.  Been reading up on it, stuff from Charlton Heston himself.  They say he's the only one on top of it, the Y2K.  That it's a plot or something.  The C.I.A.  You know what they did in Waco.  And that flat-chested used-up old broad that runs the Justice Department—I can never remember her name for the life of it.  Well, Fart Farley's not going to be caught with his drawers down.  Just as soon as I get the tunnel dug out to the basement, Dad'll be able to back me up from his post on the second floor—a frigging lookout, Stace.  Hell, even he's psyched.  I tore down the shed yesterday to clear out the line of fire.  Good thing the greenhouse's toward the back, or I'd be ripping out our whole damn livelihood.  This thing is serious.  When the glitch hits I'm going to have half of Bergen County going for my provisions.  And to think I was a turn-the-cheek dude in the old days!  Well, turn my cheek, you alligator faggots and kiss this guy's bottom two!  Haaah.

 

Later,

 

F. Farley

 

PS.  How come you don't send me no more quotes?  The last one threw me off anyways.  Here, I just fished it out of my jacket—

"Messiahs have no place

in this bleak century;

we give them Mellaril

and treat them gently."

If you're going to send more on, try to lighten them up some.  Besides, this century's nearly over.  Hell, the whole frigging millennium!

 

Your Fart

 

PPS. You should see the shelter, Stace.  All I need is a lava lamp to make it a real Leonardo.  Haaah!

 

288

September 21, 1999

 

Stace,

 

     We go ten months without a frigging shower.  They been rationing since July.  I'm just about fixed when Fate steps in—FLOYD, man, FLOYD.  A goddamn hurricane in Paramus, New Jersey!  I don't know about you, Stace, but I'm starting to think I'm cursed.

     I get it all cozy in here with even a second hand sofa, and 4 hours later it's God almighty pissing on a flat fucking rock.

     I'm bailing with the bucket Dad brings, bailing like a son of a bitch, like a goddamn madman, and the stuff's coming down out of nowheres, right into my eyes.  And then the wind, blowing like Jesus, and the tarp goes, and I'm up to my ass in it, and still it's rising.  Hell, I could of drowned.

     Everything I slaved for wiped out in a hour.  It must of been like Noah, Stace.  Only thing that survived was the Browning and a carton of Spam.  Everything else I can deep six.  I mean it.  It was a frigging holocaust.  It was the worse damn day of my brief and vulnerable life.  Your old buddy Fart just about dead on arrival when I give it up and headed for Dad in the attic.  And we huddled and prayed and prayed, but who the fuck listens?  I didn't write so as not to alarm you, but the truth must be known.  Stace, even Jesus never went through this.  See the wrinkles on the page?  Tears, Stace, tears.  And I just started with the sump pump.  Hot scalding tears.  It's a frigging wheel of fire.  It's God or Satan lifting a leg over poor Fart Farley and letting go.  My life is over!  Finito.  Kaput.  You got to help me, Stace, you got to help me.  I'm begging you.  HELP!  Help!

 

Fart

 

September 28, 1999

 

Dearest Stace,

 

     I always known your compassion.  How can I thank you?  The wire came yesterday with the 2 grand, and I got the pills this morning.  Stace, you're my saviour.  You're my frigging saviour.  I kiss you.  I lick your feet.  How can I?  What can I do?  I got money for the ammo, the gas masks, the M-1, the Spam, the walky-talky's, the Miller's (hell, I lost 23 cases, Stace), the whole damn bundle.

     I'm getting it all back.  You're a goddamn angel, man.  You're God on earth.  Jesus Christ is flat on his back in Emerson, Montana with a hose in his privates, sucking Camels.  It's a Vision!  That's what it is.  Fart Farley has had a Vision.  How did Shakespeare put it?—"Seek and ye shall find."  God bless the very diapers under your sweet ass, Stace.  I love you.

 

Fart

 

288 Forest

October 9, 1999

 

Stace Benson, Saviour,

 

     The whole damn universe is watching the Mets, and Fart Farley is writing this humble missive to his Lord and saviour.  How was that?  Pretty damn impressive, right?  You made a poet of me, Stace.  A frigging Poet.

     And tomorrow I'm on my way south to restock.  I got money, I got the Rambler, I got mercy.  I got a vision.  There ain't nothing I don't got.  I got purpose.  I got reliability.  I got faith.  I got that goddamn Fitness Center by the balls.  This whole frigging Cosmos watching a bunch of deadbeats chasing a white leather pill?  I got the ANSWER.  The glitch is a key.  It's the key to the whole frigging mess.  It's the piece that's missing.  You put in the Y2K and it's finally in focus.  The world makes sense.  Fart Farley has the missing piece.  Fart Farley is at peace.  Fart is the son of man.  Fart is the saviour.  Goddamn it, Stace, don't you see it?  I spend my whole damn life in total confusion, and then there's Noah's Ark and the water and it's all in place.  I'm almost God, Stace, God.  And all because of Floyd.  Stace Benson and Floyd.  May the grace of Fart Farley rest upon you, Stace.  Let there be peace.

     Going to hot wire the vehicle and head south, going to bring back deliverance.  Going to clear things out.  The sump pump grinding away, sucking the juices of Floyd out of the shelter, and by next Wednesday I'm stocked. Restocked, Stace. Two of every kind?  All but a carton of Spam and a Browning.  Robert Browning?  How's that fit in?  Pretty soon I'll be reading the whole thing in the crook of my arm.  Or hearing it out of my Timex?

     I just dropped 2 Valiums and downed a half of Seagrams.  It's almost too perfect.  Christ, it nearly scares me.  So long, Stace.  Have a wonderful wonderful rest.  Tomorrow morning we're on our way to Mereland.

 

I incline

my head for your

blessing.

 

Fart

 

22 Speedwater Blvd.

Hastings

October 11, 1999

 

Dear Stace,

 

     Da-ya like the card?  Ain't it a ball buster?  The same damn Howard Johnson's, only this time they got a new roof.  So pretty it makes you choke up.  Well, I was able to restock the whole bundle, even the gas masks and some extra shit.  Would you believe they got howitzers down here?

 

Kissy kissy hug,

                            

You know who!

That's right.  Old Fart

 

288

October 26, 1999

 

Stace,

 

     She's nearly dried out.  I run a cord in from the house and been blowing air on it, specially back the tunnel—that was the worse.  I brought the prettiest sofa you ever seen, Stace, and one of them carbide lamps in case the generator goes out.  The concertina's laid, big hoops all across the front ramp, and there's sand bags and all the good stuff.  15 cases of Hormel Spam!  Can you believe?  And guess who shows up yesterday?  Another BMW with a load of yuppies, wanting to check me out.  It's bad enough they got the same 3 again with the binoculars on the roof.  Well, I got my own set now.  Hell, I can even make out the Nike emblems on their jackets, those little ugly check marks all the pro teams took up.  Stace, I got a CD player down here.  Yep, I broke down.  Said I'd never own one.  Said it for centuries.  But I got one.  Just when they're thinking of going DVD or some other thing to phase you out.  It's a capitalist ploy—the same old story.  But you know the sound's real good.  I paid over 300, and what was my first disk?  You guess it.  Time's up. "I Feel Like I'm Fixing to Die" by the Fish.  I played the cut about Viet-Nam so hard my teeth shook from the way it bounced off the mud.  It was paradise.  Remember how Shakey used to dance around swinging his arms—"Be the first one your block to have your boy come home . . . "  You say it.  Come on, Stace.  Yeah.  Yeah.  In a frigging "box."  Old Joe McDonald.  They say he ain't dead.  Can you imagine?  Say he's even putting out records.  I thought he'd OD back in '71.  The signs were there.  Hell, by '73 nobody even heard of a strobe candle.  Totally off the shelves.  And a roach clip?  And strawberry pink rolling papers?  You hang onto your collection, Stace.  You got it salted away?  The roach clips, damn it.  You and old Rance, only he was into water pipes.  There's maybe a thousand in the attic right now.  You know he even got one autographed by Wavy Gravy?  The genuine article, and it's all the way from Nepal.  Remember the spice rack?  When you run out of doodge and you smoked up the whole rack?  Hell, you was a goddamn maniac back then.  Well, hang in, cause it ain't long.  How did the Underground put it?  "Bodies piled up in mounds."  I told you, Stace.  Bigger than Armageddon.  Bigger than the goddamn Milky Way, and it's all right here at 288, Farley's Nursery.  I wouldn't sell out for a Rolls and 3 billion.  Haaahh!

 

You just pray we don't

get no more Floyd or

even a Gertrude.  Pray

hard every frigging hour.

The time's running down.

 

Love, Fart

 

288 Forest

November 13, 1999

 

Dear Stace,

 

     You know I checked it out at the Library.  Flat-chested broad named Alice—"You can get everything you want"—remember that?  Arlo?  Anyways, she checked it on the Internet.  There ain't but one title I can use if we get this story wrote down.  It's a buster, and even Amazon.com don't list it.  It's singular, Stace.  Ever hear that word.  It's "Farley's Last Stand."  Some day old Farley going to hit it.  You ever hear of having your cake and eating it?  Well, old Farley going to buck the trend.  Going to get rid of a whole load of Yuppies and then write it up and sell it to one of the big ones.  It'll sell like hotcakes, Stace.  They'll be lining up at Barnes and Nobles four miles down the block, all over the U. S. of A.  I mean it, Stace.  This one's bigger than Custer.  Bigger than the whole planet.  How did Shakey put it the first time he got off on smack?  "The whole damn Cosmos shining right between your ears"?  Remember that?  Shakey knew.  He did more heroin than Lou Reed.  Had to.  That the poor damn suck ended the way he did—blowing out the side of his . . . .

     Stace, it makes me weep the way he went, half of his pretty brain SPLAT in room 23 of the Spartenburg Motel 6, all for some poor sad-ass trailer park broad to mop up.  Makes you tear up something awful.  You and me and Rubber and Shakey—those were the days!  Hell, you could buy ten hits of blotter for a dollar if you knew the score, and drop one and sell the balance for 50.  And it was quality stuff.  Windowpane that set you free.  10 straight hours looking the universe in the crook of your arm.  And what do they got now?  Action films.  Date sagas.  It just ain't right.  Only trip they take these days is down to Wendy's for a chicken sandwich.  Hell, they can shove it, Stace, cause this dude ain't going to buy.  Old Prudence dead in Morocco.  Filbert OD'd in Tibet.  Rance still blowing in the wind on Bear Mountain.  The wise and the lovely.  All disappeared.  All vanished.  When those days a van was what you fired up in and not for hauling a bunch of damn Yuppies fixing to pollute what's left of the suck-ass planet.  Sad.  Sad.  Christ, Stace.  The whole world's spinning past and I can't grab it.  Waiting for the GLITCH!

 

Good night, sweet man,

 

Your Fart

 

288

November 26, 1999

 

Dear Stace,

 

     I set up the mortar over Turkey Day.  Then it was the same shit—stuffing, cranberry sauce, same dry old bird.  If this is what they ate when we started out over here, knocking off the Indians, things ain't much improved.  Biggest day of the year besides Christmas, and only the Italians eat it right. 

     You should a seen the meals my ex used to cook—lasagna, spaghetti, meatballs—gaaahddamn!  Well, I got 150 rounds for the trench mortar, and I laid in a bazooka and some other stuff.  They run out of nerve gas kits, but we do got the masks.  Did you ever try and fix up a helmet liner?  For a size six head?  Dad looks like a goddamn mushroom in it.  I been training him on the Browning in case I get wasted early in the assault.  I read up a whole lot on tactics and on night warfare.  There's good books on the subject.  If I had a computer and one of those Internet hook-ups, there'd be more. 

     Got a lot of good stuff from the N.R.A.  The more I read the more it makes sense.  I mean the ideology.  To think I was nearly a Commie?  Hell, the taxes we pay here on the Nursery go right into Bill Gates' pocket.  And that little guy, Bauer?  Looks like a hung-over possum?  Manic, kind of.  It ain't just that, Stace.  There's a whole lot out there we don't know about.

     The concertina wire is laid out, and I got the distance down on the rocket launcher.  There ain't room here really for the really big stuff.  I read somewhere they got tanks and half-tracks going for a song.  I wanted a launcher for the grenades, but I got to be satisfied with the old pitching arm.  There's two kinds, you know.  Two kinds of grenades, Stace.  Concussion and frags.  God they feel good when you wrap your hand around one.  And the mortar should just about reach the Fitness Center if I aim it right.  I got so damn many manuals it'd make you puke.  That was real thoughtful of you to send on one on the Honest John, but those big nuke rockets are just too hard to come by.

     What do you know, there's another guy on the roof with those field glasses.  When he bent over just now I could read the Dockers label on his pants.  This set I got can make out a fly at a hundred yards.

     I just laid in 12 more cases of Miller's and a fifth of the good stuff—Wild Turkey—case it's cold over New Year's.  The eve, I mean.  Got an extra flak jacket too for the old man.  There's Spam enough to hold out here for 3 months and a drum of rainwater.

     Stace, I got to thank you dearly for backing me and Dad on this.  It seems like nobody really cares.  All of them following Florida State and those big old Paterno goons.  I read somewhere they were naming a library after him.  Can you imagine?  A library after a frigging football coach?  And his wife said (I read it in the Record) that it made good sense cause he was the genuine article, a real intellectual.  That he reads (get this, Stace) The New York Times!  FSU and Paterno.  Is that it?  Hell, I've lost track by now.

     It's getting real hard, Stace.  Some days I start to lose faith.  Maybe the whole damn thing was invented.  Maybe there ain't no glitch.  Maybe the dudes on the roof are bird watchers.  We ain't even going into Christmas trees this year.  Without the old man's pension and the government checks we'd be under.  There's nothing left, Stace.  It all went into the armaments and the shelter.  Maybe the Record's right.  Maybe Paterno is a hero.  Maybe he's going to keep on there forever.  Maybe football is important. 

     I get lower days than whale shit even with the pills you sent.  Daddy's little helpers.  I can't sleep.  I can't take a proper piss.  Stace, I can't even pray.  Life is getting too damn confusing.  What I need is a purpose, Stace, a purpose.  Times like this the old days start to fade, and there's nothing left to hate. 

     It's the dark night, Stace.  Send me a card.  Send me a greeting.  One more quote from Mind itself.

 

In my time of need,

 

F. Farley

 

288 Forest Avenue

December 10, 1999

 

Professor Benson:

 

     Thanks for the reading material and the diagram, but I seen the latter before.  That's one hell of a good title though.  Beyond the Human Predicament.  I begun chewing on it real hard, but so far it ain't cleared up.

     For example:

     "The total fabric of human confrontation and escape is what we have managed to contribute to the existence of our Creator, and yet He always subsists without us, both as primal cause and primal target."

     Where you going with that?  And how about this?—

     "Our God is a construct only humanly possible, child of our own predicament;

     whatever we utter or define is the God we posit, somewhere out there in front of us, soliciting His existence;

     we live and die toward Him;

     He lives and dies within us toward Himself."

     And this?—

     "Our God is the God of murder, just as He is the God of love;

     one can never avoid creating Him."

     Stace, there ain't much really heavy stuff I follow, but I think I got a glimpse.  Right here a glimpse.  Tell me if I'm wrong, but I think we're all in this together.  That the Yuppies ain't worthless.  They're the enemy, but they ain't worthless.  Fart Farley ain't worthless.  There ain't a damn thing in this whole weirdo universe that's worthless.

     In a sense (the way you put it) we're just mopping up after the Creation.  That it's going to take time, but it's going to take.  That God is what we are, even when we kill Him.  That Cain is Abel?  Damn it, Stace, you nearly make sense.  That this whole frigging thing is a crucifixion, and we just as well might get the hell on with it.  That when those Yuppies cross that road and try for the shelter and all my goodies, all I got stockpiled here, I'm crossing with them.  Hell, you're making me into a Thinker, Stace, a goddamn thinker.

     But what in the name of all human suck-ass mercy is this?—

     "Even murder is an attempt to define God."

     Stace, that's just crazy.  That's just off the hook.  That's about as sick a thing as this dude's ever encountered.  Maybe somebody's listening?  You scare me, Stace.  Maybe somebody cares?  You frighten me to death.  Cares?  For everybody?  Even Stace Benson?  Even me?  Stace, you got me half wet.  I don't know much, but I know one thing.  I just know one thing in this whole damn crazy misbegotten mess, squatting here on a very mild night for December—when those goddamn Yuppies make their try for my shelter I'm going to deep-six every bitching one of them.  I'm going right on with the whole program, and there's no turning back.  I'm going to do it cause they're going to do it, and we're both going to do it to each other.  And if I got it right, Stace, if I got you right, that's God.

 

Anyhow, thanks again

for a real hard read.

 

Frank F. Farley

 

288

December 28, 1999

 

Dear Stace,

 

     It's winding down.  3 more days to Armageddon.  I got everything laid in, got the old man trained, got my ammo out and the Browning set with a clear line of fire.  Only thing I don't got is you.

     Stace, you should see this layout.  I even sleep here, cook my meals, shit, shampoo.  It's the frigging belly of the earth.  I'm on the sofa right now writing this, and I feel like a frigging embryo.  I feel calm-like, totally at peace.  In 3 days he arose from the dead.  That's Fart Farley.  Stace, this is what my whole life was coming up on.  Total irrevocable sense.

     I may die here, Stace, but I won't die.  Those Yuppies may die, but they won't die.  My mind is clear.  My soul is at peace.  I love you, Stace.  I love everything.  There's nothing on this whole frigging planet isn't God.  What was it you once said?  About dying?  "A cold glass of water."  Right, Stace?  A cold glass of H20.  Peace, Stace.  May you rest in peace.

 

Fart

 

Bergen Regional Medical Center

Forensic Medicine

January 23, 2000

 

Dear Stace,

 

     This ain't such a bad place here.  Calm-like.  Nice bunch of dudes.  They were just here an hour back with the calipers.  Seems they're measuring my brain.  Phrenology.  That's the word.  Got to figure out why Fart Farley shot up the Fitness Center at 12:01 AM, 2000.  Why he raised so much hell.

     It was real scary, Stace.  It was pretty but scary.

     We were all hunkered down at midnight when they started to come across.  It was like the Pepper album (Sergeant Pepper?), Stace, only more crowded.  Yuppies though.  Every damn one of them.  Christ, there must of been a hundred thousand.  And they was smiling-like, and some of them serious.  Stace, I let go with the Browning, and you could see the tracers going out.  And they kept on coming.  And I was lobbing grenades, and Dad was letting go with the mortar, and I never had more goddamn fun in my life.  Scary fun.  The whole damn sky was lit up, and you could hear the ammo going off, and the grenades and even the rocket launcher, and they kept on coming, and I kept on mowing them down, and Dad and me was laughing and crying, and it was big time, Stace, for everybody concerned.  I must of fired ten thousand rounds.  I just went on spraying lead and tracers and letting go with the launcher and the grenades.  It was hell on wheels, Stace.  Body parts flying, a river of fucking blood and just damn crazy.  We were hitting them with everything at our disposal.  Only regret I could feel at the time was we didn't have more staff here to man the equipment.  The sky was screaming.  It was blood red and screaming.  You could hear them groaning and praying and the chatter of the ammo and the sounds of the dying and the pain and the whole horror of it all, terrible to behold and yet strangely beautiful.  It was DADADA DADADA DADADA DADADAD ADADADADA DADUMMM DUMMM DUMMMD DUMM DADADADAD ADADA DUMMM DUMMA on a cold dark night with the spray of the worst damnation screaming stop and STOPPPPPPP, and you know what?  All of a sudden, all of a fucking sudden it DID!  The whole thing.  It just disappeared!  For what seemed like a good 9 minutes there was nothing.  I mean nothing, Stace.  Nada.  Zilch. A void. A goddamn shining void.  And then it went away.  And then things were calm.  There was this strange kind of calm.  There was real slow time, like it had all stood still, and we looked out and there was maybe a thousand squad cars out there, from every town in the County, and the lights were flashing and the sirens wailing, and the bull horn croaking something like, "Come on out of there with your hands over your heads.  Drop your weapons and come on out.  Come on out and no one'll be hurt."  And loud as you think that might have been it was quiet as a pin dropping, all that sirens and flashing and wailing stone quiet, nearly real.

     After that it got stranger.  Dad and me climbing out of the shelter, almost floating out, and floating across the field toward about a million cops, smiling kind of, and not a Yuppie, not a goddamn Yuppie to be found.  And no bodies, Stace.  I could of sworn I killed ten thousand, and not a body to be found.  It was almost as if it never happened.  Almost as if we made it up.

     Dad's down the hall, but I don't see him none.  The food's good.  They got billiards and ping pong and a gym and even a swimming pool.  It's like a country club and 929 a day.  You never seen such service.  Happy kind people with a lot of the docs from strange places like Pakistan and Morocco.  I even copped some weed with the tenner I had left over.  You'd like it, Stace.

     When this whole thing's over I'm taking a trip.  Going to sell the Nursery and take a trip.  Going to see the whole planet.  No use coming back.  It won't matter none to Dad.  He's headed for Chronic, word is.  10 years down the line he'll be out of here, I guess, in a box.  But then ain't we all?

     On the other hand, I got your cards with me and your book, and they help a lot.  I know things are A OK.  I done what I had to do.  That's the main thing.  I done what I had to do and I done it good.  I done it.  And I done it good.

 

Amen. Amen.

You hang in now.

All my love,

 

Fart

 

 

 

                                              FINIS