i'm not afraid of meteors (today)

i'm not afraid of meteors (today)
mixed media on canvas
6 x 6 x 1.5 inches
in the shop

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i'm not afraid of meteors (today)
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We escape. We are always escaping, Tanner and me, we go over walls like they're velvet ropes. Stupid guards! Tanner says we cannot be contained. We like breaking into places too, so you could say that we don't like containers of any kind. If only we could live in a free and open society, Tanner says. Tanner is a prophet and the megahits are RIGHTFULLY HIS.

Only Tanner isn’t saying anything right now. He's in a bad mood and he won't tell me why. In fact, he shakes his head at the very idea, denies that he's in a bad mood at all. Which is the first indicator of the worst kind of bad mood, the look-right-through-you-shrug-I’m-fine kind, the I’ll-get-over-it kind, the kind that makes you nervous in the space between your lungs and leaves you a little hopeless. Plus I'm in a bad mood too, but for the more obvious reason of modern dentistry. I wear my misery on my face, in my mouth, in this viscous blood-syrup that swims between my teeth.

Still: we are free(!) and clear across the back parking lot, into the open fields. The centre of my thoughts is rotating again so I let Tanner lead the way – plus it was his idea in the first place – while I run along behind with my envelope full of gauze, holding it out before me so I can read the instructions on the back, which is not as difficult as it sounds if you run with your hips more than your feet, like on a treadmill made of air. I am wearing my Valentino sunglasses and the Marc Jacobs scarf so I’m sure that helps as well. Megahits meteor style!
Instructions Following Oral Surgery 
1) Bite on gauze for 1/2 hour.
Only it wasn’t ‘oral surgery’; it was me being told that I had to see the dentist because of the new crown I got maybe three or four months ago, this crown costing Dad something like five thousand dollars, I heard about it a dozen times I’m sure, every time I phoned, this crown that was starting to jiggle, from side to side, Nurse Carol-Ann-Carol was doing her rounds when she caught me at the mirror, mouth open, fingers in, wondering why my gums were sore. What I expected was that the glue had failed, that I’d go to the clinic downstairs and the dentist would pop it off and smile and shake his head and then tell the nurse to get the good stuff, the über-bond stuff, and the most I’d have to deal with would be some industrially noxious fumes, just some more dead brain cells to cloud the rest, maybe there’d be some jaw wrenching too, but that would be it. Instead I sat down in that chair as a clear head and a minor complaint and found myself, quite suddenly, falling into the wrong end of some complicated pliers, because while he popped off that crown easily enough (what was this thing but a glorified hard hat?) the rest became rather involved, rather complicated, this dentist doing his little song and dance and telling the nurse how he didn’t like what he saw, no not one bit, and that it would have to be fixed, meaning pulled, as in right out of my head, right then. Fucking bastard! And the fucking thing hurt like hell, especially that shard that hid behind bone. Dig dig dig you plastic-faced bastard!
2) Keep fingers and tongue away from the operated area. 
The fingers are easy but don’t talk to me about the tongue – what it does, it does, I learned that a long time ago.
3) Do not rinse your mouth until tomorrow, although it is permissible to drink cool or lukewarm liquids. Smoking should be avoided.
But I LOVE smoking. Smoking is the bomb, smoking is MEGAHITS METEOR STYLE. Don’t they understand anything?
4) Starting tomorrow, rinse your mouth frequently with a solution of 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Continue the rinses for a few days. 
No. That’s gross. It tastes like pee.
5) If you have any discomfort, take whatever you normally take for a headache, every few hours. If necessary, the doctor will prescribe stronger medication for you.
So Tanner distracted Nurse Carol-Ann-Carol while I stole some red pills. He talks like sliding wax, it was no problem. And these red pills say SPI and look tasty!
6) Diet – Cold or lukewarm liquids may be taken for the first four to six hours. After this any soft food is permissible.
Tanner told me once that food is irrelevant. Have I told you that TYLER IS A PROPHET?
7) Bleeding – It is normal for the saliva to be streaked with blood for a day. If frank bleeding is present, fold sterile gauze into a firm wad and place it directly on the bleeding area. Maintain firm pressure by biting for twenty minutes. The gauze may be substituted by a tea bag; the tannic acid in tea has a clotting effect. 
I’m biting on a wad of gauze. Frankly, it is so soaked in blood that it looks like a small liver clenched between my teeth. Tanner says my breath is like a wound. Bad Tanner! You and your bad mood!
8) Swelling and discolouration is to be expected in certain areas, usually reaching its maximum two days after surgery. It will disappear gradually and is no cause for concern. If desired, an ice pad may be applied for the first four to six hours only, alternating twenty minutes on, twenty minutes off.
Tanner says that everyone’s looks are irrelevant, except mine, and mine are the most important thing in the world. Accordingly, I am very beautiful, like a horse with its head held high he says, in full concentrated glory he says, as if on royal parade or crossing a river or just galloping down the beach, galloping galloping.
9) Sutures (stitches) – if required, are removed without discomfort in about five days. An appointment will be made for you.
Thanks to Dear Jesus, but no stitches for me.
10) Do not hesitate to call the office if in doubt.
There’s no number on here to call. I’m no good on the phone anyway.

Tanner’s got a pretty good pace going and it’s difficult to keep up but I know I won’t lose him because he taped a sign to his back that says FOLLOW ME. The day and sky feel dark and rain-splattered; when we finally cross the field, and emerge on a street, I’m soaked up to the knees by the long grass. Then we start jumping fences and cutting through people’s backyards. It’s amazing how most people’s backyards are simply repositories for children’s toys. Everything is plastic! Everything is plastic and dirty and glaring in red and yellow and blue. A woman on her back deck yells at us but Tanner doesn’t care, he’s on a mission. TANNER IS A PROPHET, I want to yell but I don't. It all reminds me of the time we broke into the museum to see Hitler’s car. It was so easy. We just went in around closing time and hid in the suspended ceiling in the women’s bathroom. Then we had a nap. Did you know that Hitler’s car weighs over nine thousand pounds, that it can go 135 miles per hour but only gets three-and-a-half miles per gallon? Did you know that Hitler’s car has a special stand built into the passenger seat? And special pistol holders? Did you know that Hitler’s car has seven bullet holes in it? And that one of the bullets is German? Did you know that Hitler’s car was bought from the US Army for six thousand dollars in 1956? Did you know that Hitler’s car makes Tanner look like a rock star when he stands on the passenger seat and waves? That’s something that I will always remember. TANNER AND THE MEGAHITS IN HITLER'S CAR. That, and the security guards swarming in on us.

Now Tanner is holding my hand and leading me down a sidewalk. In his other hand he has flowers with bits of dirt still hanging from them. We must be close to the university hospital. I’m tired. Of hospitals. The left side of my skull feels like it’s cracking in on itself. My lips are like some kind of blubbery smear. I wish had access to a milkshake. Always it’s just one thing to the next, one thing to endure or to escape from, and the space between is an affliction. Don't drag me, Tanner!

In the elevator Tanner squeezes my shoulders but I can hardly feel him. We come onto the ward in a rush and the nurse at the station gives us a look and I know our stay won’t be for long but Tanner is quick, he hustles me down the hallway. We find his sister’s room right away, she’s sitting up in the chair beside her bed, sitting up awkwardly, one hand holding her stomach, the other hand holding a spoon, this little spoon with a cube of red jello on it, held in the air, like a thought, I love the way jello glistens, and her eyes are big at the sight of Tanner and me, and there’s something stirring in the bed beside her, in the careful folds of a blanket, I see this little red face with its eyes pinched shut, and I feel my own lips closed together, cracked and smiling, and I'm thinking what a good idea this was, ILLEGAL DAYTRIP MEGAHITS, and afterwards we can say we saw the baby, we saw the baby alright, and talk about it always.


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