Under the Bagel Volcano by Robert Hambling Davis

Sweeny felt downright nonterritorial as he sat with notebook and coffee in The Bagel Omnibus, prose-sketching the teal-green tables and sand-blond chairs, the muffins and scones and bins of myriad and furiously still bagels awaiting the plastic glove of the pert high-pointed countergirl, and the free-refill containers where Sweeney had just pumped his fourth mug of Sumatra black, and coolers droning with--no, droning coolers of yuppie soda and spring water, while on the walls loomed pictures of bagel-spotted leopards, surfers in bagel-wheeled dune buggies, Bogart puffing bagel rings, cowboys on bucking bagels, lovers leaping into bagel-rimmed volcanoes, bagel-haloed cancan girls, and similar trick photos that insinuated lean physiques and lots of dough, subliminally suggesting you could eat all the cream-cheese-slathered goods in the place and not gain a pound. Yes, it was here, in The Bagel Omnibus, now, in the eternal present coincident with 7:46 a.m. EST, where dauntless Sweeney sat to write the Great American Creative Nonfiction Novel, that masterwork which (provided he didn't stop to look back in self-conscious hung-up mindfucking appraisals of culturally attenuated goal fixation-- instant & lifelong killer of spontaneous first-thought/ best-thought texts) would win him the love of millions who yearned for lucid vision in a technodystopian world, and secure his place in literature as The Global Village Bard, that prodigious luminary he'd aspired to be since his tenth birthday, thirty-two years ago.

So, open, receptive synchronist that he was, Sweeney wasn't opposed to giving voice to immediate external details, transmuting, via his seismographic pen, the mundane into the divinely memorable, and trusting the power of these impressions to subvert his habit mind and clear his brainscape for optimal view and harmony with its mythopoeic terrain, producing at best, a numinous neo-animism, and at worst, a happy accident, the kind that wine-quaffing watercolorist loved to make. After all, what were blank notebooks, cafés, and the brashness of fresh brewed jack for, anyway? One must consider Joyce, Hemingway and Paris, and the Beats in North Beach; one must consider lineage, especially chest-tic-shivering, goose-bumpy, unspeakably visionary lineage, dope or no dope, booze or no booze, espresso or no espresso, but definitely freewheeling smack-dab in the core of the Whitmanic grain.

At the same time, hip to the dangers of his permeable nature, Sweeney knew how much of the world he could osmose without risking viscosity. For bagel-and-cream-cheese-abstaining Sweeney was trim and extremely balanced, moderate in all his desires (except to write the Great American Creative Nonfiction Novel), and unhoodwinkable too. Yes, as he sat here in the Bagel Omnibus (whose subliminal sales pitch and kickass brew always spurred him to write nonstop from the incorruptible depths of his soul), Sweeney trusted zoom of pen over page without stopping to think but to see Kerouackian picture better or without reading back over or crossing out or sweating punctuation grammar syntax or any of those pedantic rules like when to use lay and when to use lie and when to use laid and when to get laid and boy, could he stand to get laid because it'd been a long time, a dry spell he equated with the dozen-year African Sahel drought from overcropping, to ironically suggest man's rape of Big Mama Gaia Herself.

Yet having steadily accreted diamond-pointed wisdom over the years since he'd embraced his bardic destiny, Sweeney didn't rely too heavily on metaphor, not wanting his future readers to mistake his moon-aimed finger for the moon itself. Put simply, Sweeney did not stink of Zen. Although he'd surely stunk of it once, he definitely didn't stink of it now.

Nonetheless, Sweeney wasn't one of those truncating hacks who disdained metaphors and scrupulously weeded them from his work, which only resulted in an overly self-conscious "plate-glassy style," to lift a phrase from that great poet-printer-seer Whitman, who certainly wore his hat on or off as he pleased in metonymic taverns and synecdochic parlors. For if not abused, metaphors were capable of enlarging the reader's vision, provided they "rang true" and the reader was chameleonic enough to be transformed, and no one got hung-up on extensional metaphoricalism, or stringing out the shortest poetic leap between alpha and omega.

Now a young woman entered The Bagel Omnibus and sat at the table directly in front of Sweeney, blocking his view of the picture called "The Hula-Bagel Girls Get Down." Sweeney took one look at her and knew he wasn't even going to try to describe her for fear of extending more than her image. Specifically, of streaking his mythopoeic well-hung member from his lap to hers, in a leap great enough to "stagger sextillions of infidels," as Walt would say. Instead, Sweeney would keep his cool by recalling Hemingway as he faced the same disturbance in A Moveable Feast, where he sat in Paris café, writing Michigan-based story, when very pretty girl enters and he wishes he can find a place for her in the story. Oh the frissons of lust H. felt but understated and largely omitted, to leave his readers ample room for imaginal renderings of said text! But unlike H., Sweeney would not stoop to comparing his own very pretty stranger girl's face & hair with a newly minted coin and a crow's wing; for Sweeney had the bigheartedness to grant her entrée to his Great American Creative Nonfiction Novel, which made it a far more accommodating genre, its rubric spacious, with room for immediate, palpable, roadside vistas routinely blackballed from the anal-retentive world of short-story writers, despite their craftiness. Nevertheless, bending to paper and pen, Sweeney partly steeled himself the sudden auguring of kudos that emanated from the girl as she eyeballed him now, over the wreathing steam of her mocha latté (her order hadn't escaped him) and the banana walnut muffin she was at this precise instant lifting to those bilabial mysteries meant to be savored not solved.

He'd immortalized her indirectly, for didn't Walt affirm indirectness as the key to Literature? Yes, Literature, spacious enough to include pretty mocha latté banana walnut girl planted squarely on the edge of his notebookward eyes synched to oracular pen speeding across hallowed page at the end of this Kali Yuga, before the impending dawn of enlightened globalization which Sweeney's gospel would herald; and spacious enough to include the banana HE WOULD NOT SLIP ON!

Despite the length it assumed between his legs. He looked up and she smiled and bit into that muffin, making rapid progress toward the satiation of her gastronomic forenoon desires, he figured. Or maybe not. What did he know? Things had suddenly become dubious.

Sweeney turned quickly from the very disturbing pretty girl and went to the men's room. And it was there, teetering over the toilet, where he questioned the indirectness of Literature. Now Sweeney was one piss largely, having never before divided his Rabelaisian visceral gusto (if only over the needs of his moderate desires) from his Transcendentally attuned Emersonian life, this avoiding duality at all costs. But the pure white stream he trickled from his throbbing member seemed to drown all his progress toward an unrepressed union with cosmos. Cosmos? Cosmos, indeed! He, Sweeney, would shake the last drops from his cock [divine lingum? axis mundi? --no, DOWSING WAND OF THE IMMINENT RACE OF EARTH STEWARDS!] and march back out there with a buddha smile at the bagels and tables and coffee and chairs and at her and everyone else in the whole damn place and beyond. He would replant himself in his wisdom seat and not drink any more coffee, and there write his composed and compassionate ass off, singing his story and her story and every sentient being's story, in a marriage of body and soul that would make Billy Blake cheer from his grave.

Sweeney was moving now, he was going back out the door. Returning to his transient and eternally momentous work table, he sat with but a quick nod at the pretty girl hanging ten on the wave of his oceanic consciousness. Yes, she was mugging it up and she looked so-so what? vestal? inexorably ingenuous? at the same time so beguiling in a crepuscular sort of way that- that --dammit! . . . Time for his old writer's block mantra that never failed to clear nagging right-brain obstructions--

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy zebra. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy zebra. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy zebra. The quick brown fox almost jumps over the lazy zebra, but almosts don't count. The quick brown fox lands on the lazy zebra where it's all black and white but still better than a zoo. The broad-jumping fox jumps through the hula bagel. It wasn't working.

Sweeney looked up, saw her smile, dove back into the page. The quick red fox mounts the lazy zebra to breed a black-and-white-with-a-slash-of-red-hybrid called--no! The pole-vaulting fox clears the rearing giraffe, then examines his pole with the help of a huge mirror. The cream-cheese fox lies under the bagel volcano. The white-robed fox floats over the tallest, darkest star of Hollywood as he straddles the Empire State Building flailing his fists and eating Air Force machine-gun bullets. NO! NO! NO! The quick--

Holy shit, the pretty girl was standing over him now, so very unlike Big Mama Gaia! Sweeney heard her say something that reminded him of what he wasn't and would never be. Sweeney's pen stopped.

Robert Hambling Davis