Posts tagged ‘DR. BUCK’S LETTERS’

May 1, 2008


by Brad Zukovic

(an extract of PULL THE PIN: The KeroseneBomb Reader; excerpted from DR. BUCK’S LETTERS)


From a counter seat at Gower Denny’s, I watched Jack Ternan emerge from an oily blur of superheated air.

The heat was really shattering of the boulevard now, and Ternan’s bowed legs were massive in the glassy distortion, his shaved head craning high above traffic. From thirty feet, I made out a brow with a mouth-slash-pissed-off ’40s freak somehow still walking around. An unemployed actor was with him: a Viet Nam vet who’d ordered a coffee at Denny’s and saw the same cup staring at him twenty years later.

Next to me, McCaw had the maps out, and not the usual USGS topos of the Mojave desert either. These were military topos of places where they lit cobalt shots. He had Plutonium Pass circled in blue felt pen – that’s west of the Skulls where you find the Epson Salt Works if you feel like pushing the rental up a twenty-mile wash through sand traps. There were maps of China Lake and the Nevada Test Site… dry lakes where the dust devils follow you… uranium dumps… and the unobtanium of a cheerleader’s hips moving timelessly in time, mortar in the pestle of her gold country.

Jack Ternan barged into Denny’s and a couple of sleepers at the counter lurched up to greet him. He looked like a thing out of fllm noir, which he was – a heavy who had pissed away a run of Warner’s gangster flicks when he started caving in the jaws of his co-stars. Jack’s comeback began when his Billy clubbed mug appeared in “Hollywood Sodom,” a hipster coffee table book. That mug shot caught the attention of the young director Carlton Spigarelli, who hired Jack as the gangster chief in the first of his neo-noir hipster blood baths – the ones with the spaghetti western sound tracks. On screen, Jack played flat and real, and at age seventy-eight he was back in the chips. Unfortunately, Jack had gotten into it with Spigarelli, sending his teeth through his septum. Jack was blackballed again, bunkered in a day hotel near Hollywood and Vine, watching tourists through a tinted window and masturbating.

“We makin’ a run?”

“We are making a run, Jack,” said McCaw.

We drank fresh drip coffee and it was the first morning of the world. McCaw was two months from a shallow grave in Trona – explaining how the military copped an algebra of Banach spaces to send a drone down a chimney. Jack was doing a Walter Brennan shtick for the waitress and plowing down French Toast. At that moment I felt the cold breath of the future, but just as surely, the scene froze in a defensive reflex – entering the permanent record. I looked at the collar bone of the waitress, thinking, “There is a Moment that crosses all moments, even as they flow.”

I must have said it out loud because McCaw answered, “The Dedekind infinite – William Blake was onto it and that’s what they’re modeling with quandles in 3-space – running analog drones of of knots. That’s what we want to see.”

“I don’t give a fuck about drones,” Jack said, stabbing a finger at the map. “I want to find some gold.”

At that moment, Duce walked in, two months from being killed by a train in the yards east of downtown. Duce was a homeless, late 70’s punk – flush with cash, having just appeared in a hipster documentary wherein he fingered a former Clown Room stripper in the death of Kurt Cobain. Jack got up and embraced him. They had gotten tight playing Donkey Kong at the Cahuenga 7-11.

“Now,” said McCaw, spreading maps. “We are going to need water for this trip – lots of it.” -30-