that dare not speak

They exorcised unease by arguing which route north to take from Oakland: East Bay, West Bay. DC conceded. East Bay through Napa. Jimmy drove. They agreed not to wear leather intimidation gear. Jimmy sported a frog-green warmup jacket, DC a panama hat and hawaiian shirt. They looked like tourists from Tucson. Too soon, KSAN went fuzzy and faded out.

They would not talk about Cathy. No. She had slipped the bonds of possession. No man who could not call her his could speak, and that was both of them.

“What’s new with the shooting?” Jimmy asked.

“When I ambushed the cops?”


“That’s what they say.”

“Say what?”

“A Lieutenant Heston condescended to give me an interview so I went in.”

“You bring a lawyer?”

“One of Charlie’s people.”

“Uh huh.” [Cathy?]

“One of the lawyers.” [not Cathy]

“He read my statement, laid it down, first thing out of his mouth, ‘I understand shots were fired from your apartment.’”

“I don’t believe it,” said Jimmy. “I do believe it.”

“So I start in about how I have ten eyewitnesses and no police investigator has come to my apartment to see what happened and this constitutes vigilante action under color of law, Penal Code 246, assault with firearms on an inhabited dwelling or occupied building and he tells me to Calm down, Mister Baines, and pulls out a file and starts asking me, am I the Mr. Daniel Clovis Baines who is a member of the Black Panther Party. No, I am not a member. You accompanied the Panthers to Sacramento to demonstrate against gun restrictions? Yes, I did. You have been arrested the following times blah blah. At which point, George or whatever his name was [not Cathy], the lawyer [not Cathy], jumped in and said, This has nothing to do with the shooting, we’re here about police misconduct, we’re prepared to file a civil etc, and the Looie gave us that 'I’m afraid you’ve wandered into the wrong office' look."

“I heard [Cathy told me] they warned you to get out of town.”

“Officer Todes. Yeah. Tried to throw a scare in us [Cathy and me].”

“Sounds like they mean it.”

“You think I should get out of town, Jimmy?”

[You know what that meant.]

“No, DC, I do not think you should get out of town..” He took his eyes off the road to look at DC, whose hat had blown into the back seat. “Oakland needs you.”

Which meant everybody needs you, and if that includes Cathy, so be it.

They studied the Napa River for a while.

“What did Cosmo mean, we’d already been there?”


“You trust Shauna.”


“[Cathy trusts Shauna.]”

“[We both trust Cathy]”

“But I don’t trust Cosmo. He pops up, weird shit happens, he takes off. Bag full of tricks. Signifying monkeyshines. Now he wants you and me.”


“I’m asking,” said DC.

“[What do we have in common]?”


“He trusts us.”

“When somebody says they trust me, I like to know to do what.”

“Ok,” said Jimmy, “we don’t know what we’re walking into.”

“Is he armed?”

“No.” Jimmy could not picture Cosmo armed. And yet.

“Or he’s the bait.”

“Or he’s the trap.”

“I can’t tell you how this conversation has set me at ease,” said DC.

“We do things well together,” said Jimmy. “Let’s do that thing we do well.”

[love Cathy]

“Anyway, if he’s a trap,” said Jimmy, “he’s not a big trap.”

it's mind

No problem locating the house this time. On a street of model houses, Cosmo’s was the model burned-down house: gravestone chimney, blackened stucco, perfectly collapsed fake tile roof, front yard of phony Spanish ash.

They passed through the front doorway; the door itself lay in the yard. Jimmy stopped to light a cigarette. The Konnectikron, mostly incinerated, a scale model morgue, Black Death tongues hanging out, empty of cards (opened before the fire?). The rear wall had held up, propped from the garden side by kitchen appliances. The fire’s dead center was the living room; maybe the Konnectikron had self-immolated, a Buddhist protestor in Calistoga.

They stopped at the rear door, front door now. Burned-house protocol: do we knock? DC peered out a smashed window, said. “Unfuckingbelievable.”

The garden, intact, undiminished, as if spared by its carved Oaxacan angels. A house of invisible walls. Falling plants, carved chairs, gauze-roofed bed, fevered air. In the geometric center where two walks met, a bathtub that had not sat there before.

With Cosmo in it.

Jimmy opened the door.


No motion. Dead?

They crunched on gravel.

“I would’ve rung the doorbell,” Jimmy said loudly, “but there wasn’t any.”

The bathtub sat beneath a canopy of gauze. At its foot, two benches, infrared and ultraviolet, formed the point of an arrow, the tub its shaft. They stepped into the dappled shade, moved toward Cosmo as toward a special effect. The effect’s head rested against the porcelain rim, one arm dangling toward the ground. Be not dead, Cosmo. The bathtub and benches pointed toward a life-size gaudy wood skeleton in sombrero, holding a deck of cards.

“Mind!” said Cosmo.

Mind as in mind your manners? As in a command to a dog?

“Mind,” said Cosmo. He addressed the calavera, El Muerto. His jaw sent ripples down the tub. “Phenomena. Two. Crunches, speaks. Pure. No adjectives, no nouns. Then you go and ask, What is it? Dog? Possum? Fire inspector? Nouns. Make me paste words on, reach toward, push my head in. I know something IS. I don’t want to know WHAT it is. What, what, WHAT? Now you want adjectives. Pizza deliverer, court summoner, subpoena server. Don’t say, Turn your head, Cosmo, take a peek. Ok, peeked. There’s two. What part of speech is “two”? Number 2: noun. Two things: adjective. I don’t give a fuck. Have to know two WHAT. Two much, Mind. Two men. Shit! OVERWHELMED. Sift out. Panama hat, silly shirt. “Silly,” judgement word. No judgement, flowered shirt. Green naugahyde, cowboy boots. Who NEEDS this information? Adjectives, nouns, qualities, specifics. See what you did, you let in qualities. HAS to be green, plastic, ugly — judgement word! — warmup jacket. IN my head. MY mind. Can’t get them out, fenced in, additional unnecessary parts of speech THAT CANNOT BE STOPPED. Nouns, adjectives, judgement words. TOO MUCH CLATTER. Keep them out, Mind. Getting worse. JIMMY voice. Man with tape recorder saying Jimmy saying “Cosmo?” Getting worse, Mind, SPECULATION. What happened to Pure Experience? Gummed up. I’m THINKING, thinking, speculating. Mind says peek, should say SHUT DOWN. Jimmy voice. Jimmy and DC. BUT I KNEW THAT WHEN THE DOOR OPENED. How does that work? You were supposed to come over the wall on a rope ladder, camouflage, Green Beret shit. You did come over the wall. I saw you.”

“No,” said Jimmy, “We came in through the non-front-door.”

“At the risk of sounding stupid,” said DC, “what are you doing in that tub?”

“Drowning troubles.”

DC and Jimmy leaned on the two benches, red and blue. Cosmo floated, nude, submerged, seaweed that was his pubic hair. Beside his hip, a strip of rippled metal caught the light.

“May we sit?” asked DC. Cosmo nodded.

“What you got in there with you, Cosmo?” asked Jimmy. “Is that a —”


“You don’t need a knife in a bathtub.” Their instincts said no glancing at each other, no two-on-one.

“Defense against sharks,” said Cosmo, “see?” He fished it out, gripped the bone-handled carving knife in his teeth.

Jimmy saw Marat in his bath, another revolutionary pamphleteer. Pamphlet: Cosmo, His Own Corday. They shifted their weight forward. Too obvious. Cosmo spat out the knife, it splashed, sank, bounced against his thigh, clunked on the bottom.

“So what happened, Coz?” Jimmy waved toward the no-more-house.

“I told you to come.”




“She said DC.”


“Good. Does he scare me?”

“Ask him.”

“Scare me, DC?”

“Could be.”

“You belong. We belong. Here.”


“Somewhere, Jimmy, SOMEWHERE there is a door, behind which there is nada.”

“What?” said Jimmy. “What?”

“Maybe the door is the nada.”

Jimmy felt a terror of being mind-read, that the world is shot with holes that leak information, holes to summon or skid into and not return from and be thought crazy and yet be sane.

DC nodded toward the skeleton. “You and he have some sort of project going?”

“Why did you ask that, not Jimmy?”

That forced silence.

“I was thinking something else,” said Jimmy.

“Bad habit. Heroin. Konnectricon.”

“Are you in trouble about the fire?”

“Spontaneous. They got a department for that.”

“Konnecticron cause it?” He hadn’t told DC about the Konnecticron, motioned him to nevermind.

“Big One. Put the rod in, AND THEY ALL FELL OUT. Firebird landed on them. Inflammation of information.”

“What was the connection?” said Jimmy, “that made them all fall out?”

“Conference. Call.”

“What’re you guys talking about,” said DC, who did not want to never mind.

“You too,” said Cosmo, “we three. Convention. Topic. Topical application. Three-man team. Unstable triangle. Unconventional confluence.”

“The convention has a topic,” attempted Jimmy.

Cosmo bent his leg. Metal scraped underwater, amplified.

Jimmy turned toward the calavera as if it had caused the sound.

“Mind can’t help,” said Cosmo. “Up to the three-man team.”

“Tell us then,” said DC.

Cosmo dipped his face in the water, looked up dripping.

“What do we do about Cathy?” he said.

out of mind

Ambiguity, none.

Each looked at the other two.

A consuming pain to perform the exactly correct act NOW paralyzed Jimmy.

DC saw Cosmo as a BIG trap.

“We’ll talk about that [should have said ‘her’] later,” said Jimmy, and knew he’d failed. “When we know.”

“Time to go,” said Cosmo.

“We’ll help you up.”

“YOU go,” he said, “Time’s up. Out.”

They shifted balance, did not go.

“You’re out there,” said Cosmo, “and you’re in my mind. TOO MUCH. TOO IRREVOCABLE. TOO TANGLED UP.”

“With Cathy,” said Jimmy.

“They are not helping me, Mind”

“We’re trying,” said DC.

“Not trying to LEAVE.”


“What is their purpose, Mind?” said Cosmo, “Protecting her. Has to be me in the tub by myself with this knife, just WITH.”

“What purpose does the knife have?” asked DC.

“Just with. Cosmo in tub with knife. You are making me Cosmo in tub with knife WITH Jimmy AND DC AND your wrong purposes — judgement word — heating everything up which makes me BE DIFFERENT because I am what happens to me and what happens to me has to leave my brain and go into MIND, who is over there and I was keeping everything in Mind and not in my head until you made me talk about her SO GET THE FUCK OUT!”

“What can we do to help you?” asked Jimmy, social worker blah blah blah.


“Why?” More blah.

“True thoughts are in Mind. Thoughts in my brain are not my thoughts.”

“How do you know?”

“They don’t FEEL like my thoughts, frog.”

“You hear voices?”

“No, Doctor, I do not HEAR voices. I hear someone DOING me. If they were my thoughts, they would be warm to me. They are IMITATION Cosmo thoughts like your jacket is naugahyde frog. STOP ME THINKING OR GET THE FUCK OUT!”

DC rose, moved toward the tub or toward the door.

Jimmy leaned to his left, sitting.

Cosmo dropped his arms under the water, splashing some over the tub’s lip.

DC heard the splash, turned toward Cosmo.

Jimmy half-rose, supported on one leg and his hand on the bench rail.

Cosmo’s arms broke surface, knife clenched in both hands.

Jimmy’s boot slipped on the gravel.

Cosmo plunged the knife into the water.

Jimmy thought spear fishing

A spume of blood from deepsea veins fumed to the surface.

“A discontinuous experience,” said Cosmo. He held the knife out of sight under the reddening water. Jimmy and DC stood on either side of him, out of slashing range. If they moved, he’d stab himself again, if they didn’t move, he’d stab himself again.

“We can’t stop you thinking, Cosmo,” said DC, but we can stop you bleeding.”

“Thinking, bleeding. What’s the diff?”

The Firebird that inflamed the Konnectikron dipped beneath the gauze, landed on the lip of the tub, its talons gripping the porcelain at Cosmo’s feet, fanned its wings into fire of every fabled color, captured his gaze, engulfed him in consuming rapture.

“You see!” he cried. He raised his hands in offering, palms up. The knife fell at Jimmy’s feet. They seized him under each arm, raised their cold, pale, abstract comrade from the water, his right thigh throbbing blood. He did not resist, gazed upon the adjective-, noun-, judgement-less phoenix in his garden.

“The gauze,” said DC.

Jimmy slashed the hanging fabric with the knife, wrapped it round Cosmo’s thigh.

“The rug-thing.” Sarape on a chair. They jammed Cosmo’s head through the hole, DC pulled the thick wool behind Cosmo’s back into a makeshift straitjacket, hoist him over his shoulder, started for the car.

“The bird,” said Cosmo.

“What bird?”

“The Firebird.”

They loaded Cosmo into the back, god knows what the neighbors thought. Jimmy crouched over him, pinning Cosmo lengthwise on his left side, gripped his shoulder with one hand, pressed down on the gauze with the other. DC took the wheel.

“Santa Rosa,” said Jimmy. He pulled a paper from his jacket, handed it bloodyfingered to DC. “A doctor at a clinic. Shauna knows.”

There was no way to drive over the mountain ridges to Santa Rosa in less than 30 minutes. DC, one of the great wheelmen of the civil rights era, made it in fifteen, tires on the white line all the way.

Jimmy pressed on Cosmo’s wound, apologized, laid his head on Cosmo’s shoulder, apologized, held his hand, apologized. He did not have to hold him down. Cosmo had abandoned all such words, the stickers and gooey strips of names and qualities, left them back in Mind. He was running on pure experience now, no categories with which to err. Pure verb, pure color, pure sensation, he lay on the back seat of the Ford. Let Jimmy persecute himself with thought, let Jimmy cry. He was done with that.