Mark Brunke

2012/03/29 Comments Off on Mark Brunke

On the theme of David Lynch

David Lynch: An Oral History of Las Vegas

“The only true part of this is that when I was fourteen, my mother put me on a Greyhound Bus to get me out of Las Vegas.

We were never meant to live in Ontario. How does driftwood end up anywhere? It all tastes the same, unless you particularly like the Irish Sea. Our mother’s had escaped into the Wasteland between the Clean Cities. There was never any muscle, just thin fibers. When you pressed them, there was little meat on the bones. They had those dry famine teeth you get in the high desert in February.

The first thing that hit you was the constant temperature and humidity. It was solid, unchanging. The landing was soft, but you had to keep moving. Eventually, if you moved steady enough and far enough, you hit solid ground.

The night before I left, we watched Eraserhead. She gave me her copies of On The Road and The Soft Machine. I was on my way. My last memory, the last memory I ever want, is sitting alone in the old bus station off Fremont Street, watching this old man with his arm in a sling playing the slots.

We’d take them when they were near their last breath to the Garbage Waters. The radio station constantly replayed broadcasts from the nervous room where children sent their lost teeth. The waves rolled in and out with the thick litter discarded from the Clean Cities.

As we got mother closer, the gases would begin to make your head float. We never went further. You’d see her eyes becoming translucent; she’d begin talking to the sky of heads out beyond the sea. She’d lie down and the waves gradually would roll her back into the surf. She began to talk, but by then her voice was either drowned out by the sound or becoming one with it, it was too hard to tell.

William S. Burroughs came up to me outside of a bathroom in a donut shop in Barstow. He had his dick in his hand, well, that’s a presumption really, who knows what it was; you could see the old grey wrinkles in his arm skin and imagine how his bony artistic fingers felt; for all I know it was a collapsing beetle. The black dirt covered him. He asked me what kind of writer I was and I said Neither Fiction. We didn’t talk about it, his exposure. Those were different times, you just toughed it out, got back on the bus, and hoped to fucking hell you didn’t have to sit next to an asshole.

She lay back upon a folded blue blanket, looking at the top of the tree line, at the darkening horizon of the East. In front of her she could see the little mirror in the tiny trailer kitchen, reflecting the still cold blue setting to the West.

The biggest problem was I kept stealing comic books from the 7-Eleven off of Charleston and 8th. They always had the same story. Godzilla, looking in a mirror. She set her eyes upon the reflection of sunset as her heartbeat slowed to a close. She tried to be at peace, but there were the tethers, her children, still in the woods. She remembered taking them on the train, and letting them go on the bus.

The old girls would always freeze at the edge of the horizon. You imagined them living somewhere, expanding their skin across the black and white memory, reading the scrawl and snippets they etched with their bodies into the tundra.

They would drift in and out of the Earth, their mouths barely above the ground. They were cresting when the driftwood came across the flat beach. In the earth black sand, you felt the holes breathe with every exhale of the methane clams, their feet pulling ever closer to the sea.

She turned like a corkscrew, her left leg lifted into a high thrust, spinning forward. Her left foot planted on the edge of the dirt mound, pointing straight at the batter’s head. The energy in her body projected through her, to the end of her extended right arm as it sailed around her midsection, fully extended and parallel with the flat earth. In between two heartbeats she snapped her wrist in perfect rhythm, exploding from her body, the baseball left her hand, appearing to rise as it sailed by the batter’s chest before he could blink. A perfect game.

We’d crawl to the other side of the old gravel pile, roll over and sit and watch the orange sky fade; wait for the train to make that evening sound of strawberries drowning. The winter sun was a small sliver, emerging through lights from the violet shades of sky.

I kept thinking about Bill. I had noticed sores from an ingrown hair were getting infected on his forearm. I imagined pressing the rough edges of a bitten fingernail into it, folding that skin back. Seeing bone, talking like a mechanic.

The mothers would raise us as their minds fractured. We would watch them disappear into the Pain. We were okay with the air, but you could see it turning their eyes. There was something about being old enough to gestate. The only cure was finding jars of discarded Famine. One jar and they could make it another year. As you poured it into them, you’d see their pupils turn black, watch as the thinness between their bones and skin inflated with the color of glowing eosin.

They would hold us in-between the train cars as they descended into the psychedelic edges of the Mess. Then, when the train slowed so the Disposal Cars could turn their load sideways and disperse it into the remnants of the old Central Valley, we jumped. That air…that was the last moment you felt the air move.

I’ll never forget your funeral, the color of your made up face. I know it was the makeup, but it’s like your body shifted into it. When we die, we get that grey ash from the cave walls all over us, it’s like yeast or vinegar flies, it’s always there waiting to grow. It’s like you were back in France, ten thousand ago, being eaten by life. Except your cave was a basement in Las Vegas.”


Author Biography


Mark Brunke lives and works in the Pacific Northwest.

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