The illusionary shape of the whole great big wide world lacks a certain substance. Profound imperfection. Shape was assigned so that, like a map, we don't get lost.
There are no words, no names, no colors, just a million illusions and you call that Truth and—you would be wrong but they won't hang you for it because in their heads they stopped doing that a couple hundred (no numbers) years (no time) ago (no meaning).
The gravestone read Untitled because his parents had never gotten around to naming him; they'd never understood him and what he was all about. The way he walked, one foot in front of the other. Ice cream in a cone never out. Pants on backwards if at all.
He was thirty-three when he died and maybe once an angel had come down and told his mama what to name him and she'd said, "Angel, honey, you're crazy." Maybe the angel was crazy. Her wings were pink and purple. Angels weren't supposed to stand out. They were supposed to be meek.
I will rip out of you. I want out, damn it, let me out, I need to see the world, don't keep me cooped up any longer.
I'm sorry. I didn't mean to kill you.
Yes, I can spell my own name, thanks for asking.
What's with these walls? Where's the windows? Let me out! Yes, I can spell my own name, why do you keep asking? K is for kangaroo and I don't want to write my name at the top of the paper again again, always writing my name as if you don't know who I am Great Teach you're s'posed to be the smart one make me see—
There are no windows. No doors. No vents. No trapdoors, no candlesticks, no hidden key.
I take it back, I can't spell my own name, let me out, let me out, let me—
Call me Untitled.
Out of the box and already:
"I am very well-behaved. It's on my resume. It's the one thing I learned in school. Tee hee."
Oh, honey-child, poor deluded. But oh so well-behaved, let's see if that's true on sexy.
The President. Because he is so smart. (And well-behaved.)
The President pulled the lid off his pudding and licked it. Aluminum foil and glue and chocolate made with just a dash of ground up horse hoof gelatin.
It was a private moment. Not the President and the pudding, but the President popping and licking that lid. He knows better.
The media reporters yell, "Mr. President, Mr. President!" Not because they can't remember his name and it would be embarrassing to forget the regime. But because it snaps him back—he's no longer Luke or Bob or Atticus. Luke licks, but Mr. President's got great posture.
With the pudding cup safely in the trash (oops, forgot to recycle), the private audience was over. Next time we see him, he'll have to be at a urinal or something else pretty darn special.
Untitled grew up and went to Vietnam and people looked at him funny and called him Private because he didn't have a name.
You can't kill someone without a name.
Maybe they don't exist, but should, or do and shouldn't.
My neighbor's name was Mary and she died and she had never done anything and that was saddest of all. Except Mary didn't realize she was pathetic because she'd learned young, you always cross your tees and pray for world peace. She was obsessed with convincing me of the existence of the Easter Bunny. "Start small," she said and went off to say her prayers.
World peace does not exist.
I have always, deep down, believed in bunnies at Easter. But I never told her. Maybe it would have helped, made her depressed as she stared out her kitchen window, so she'd have seen something out there like Big Foot instead of willow leaves and maybe she'd have thought of something like construction instead of what's for dinner.
Her successes were so tiny. They didn't show up on the Richter scale. When she got to Heaven, St. Pete said, "Who are you?" and he marked her Untitled and said, "We forgot about you, if we ever knew, why don't you have a seat while we have a meeting. Gotta decide if you're real." She sat, and the bobcat that ate the people in our neighborhood got to go in for free. You couldn't forget him.
On EBay they're selling a shard of the rock that went in front of Jesus' tomb. The boulder had been in a private collection for a long time. The owner was joyous to live in this era, when he could sell the rock piece by piece, unlike his forefathers, who'd just had to sit on the son of a bitch and be satisfied that it existed and they had it.
Now a thousand people could have it and he could finally move.
Couldn't move before. No way to get that rock out of the house. Couldn't just leave it behind. For free. That's not why they'd kept it all those years, kept having children all those years. Profit, proliferate, or drop dead.
Even when Untitled was a child, children looked at him in fear. He was overbearing. His size made him look a little like a bully. He did know the Muffin Man. You just don't taunt a kid who's twice your size and looks at you funny.
Children laughed at Untitled's grave. They thought he was a poem.
The world was in need of a revolution and to have a revolution, you have to be against someone and it helps if that someone is part of a group that's easily named. So Untitled and his brigand were called up and given rope and ammunition, but not guns. Guns aren't that scary, but a good bullet has someone's name on it. "Someone" quaked and dropped to their knees in their little grocer's apron and said, "No, please." The prevailing winds said, "What did I do?"
The suburbs had been around for a while, long enough that every house had a nice big tree out front, and the trees on the street corners were even bigger. The trees in front of the houses were Private Trees. Keep off. But the trees on the street corners were Public Trees. Anything Goes.
From each tree, they hung the Pragmatics.
That'd teach them.
And it did.
The public elected a new President. It was a urinal. It had little to say, but only one job, no malfunctions and no ulterior motives. Pee on me. Thank you.
"I've done unspeakable things," Untitled told his wife on their undocumented wedding night.
She didn't speak.
Maybe she'd learned her lesson.
Or maybe the lessons had learned her.
Maybe she'd never learned to speak.
Maybe she'd been taught not to talk back to her husband, or if she can't say anything nice, or maybe she'd opened her mouth and a cat got in. We'll never know. Untitled died, and she did, too, eventually, and no one ever wrote anything down, and when you die, you may as well have never lived. All that was left was a small piece of stone, chiseled, that said "Untitled" and "Untitled's Wife", but a year or two later, it was up on EBay with the rest of the world—one blade of grass at a time, until one man in Topeka owned it all and the only way you'd know was to go there to visit and see it all piled up in a great mound and him sitting in his rocking chair at its base, looking a mite confused about what to do with it all. He had a shotgun in his lap (with ammunition, too), just in case I got any crazy ideas.
My girlfriend called me. One day. I was staring out the window at the sun. The man from Topeka hadn't collected it yet. He likely wasn't sure how.
"Howdy," I said.
She said, "I bought you a poem."
The next day she put a rock in my hand and maybe it wasn't so bad for Untitled to come to me in this way. Untitled, or maybe it was a slice of Jesus, sometimes it's hard to tell. I didn't know what to do with him, but at least I was certain of one thing he was not. He was not a poem.
So it was okay, for the time being, for me to put him in my desk drawer and shut it tight and only take him out when I needed him. That's what parents dreamed and got startled to find impossible, when they made the move from one to two to three. I was ready for the moment my girlfriend would say, "I'm pregnant," and I'd take out the slice of that tombstone and turn it over in my hands and vow that kid would have a name and a legacy and a tiny slice of that growing hill of Everything sitting down in Topeka, guarded by a skeleton in a rocking chair with a gun. No one ever wanted any of it, and they started over, everyone, with a single blade of grass, and said, "This one's mine."