Kamby Bolongo Mean River named one of 25 Important Books of the 2000s by HTML Giant

KBMR was named one of 25 Important Books of the decade by HTML Giant. And was a Page One selection of New & Noteworthy Books by Poets & Writers Magazine.

Friday, August 26, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Imad Rahman

There is some news today, but you already knew that. What you didn’t know is that in the today of this story that is also not-story, I threw a tantrum splattered with woe and intrigue live and in-person, you know the emotional kind of blackmail that you throw because you have the courage of your convictions like a kidnapper with a social agenda, and betrayed myself for the child I really am, the kidnapper demanding of the kidnappee, ‘Why don’t you love me?’ and lost perhaps a friend but gained a Greyhound trip back to Cleveland from The City, before which, after lager and ale and pilsner and whiskey consumed at a pace that would seem romantic were it not, come on, masturbatory, and in a place where I had to punch in a code to get into the bathrooms and the code did not work, threw yet another series of tantrums remotely via text message, tried to lose said friend yet again, a kind beautiful generous soul with legs that I wish would wrap themselves around my neck for a second time but that are now and perhaps forever another city, and who really has no business trucking with the likes of me and my Mountains of Unresolved, realized I’ve been taking the Greyhound a lot recently like someone in a Denis Johnson novel, someone named Fuckhead or Houston, got to thinking that if I can’t write like Denis Johnson I can at least live like a character in one of his novels, that being what some people call living deliberately, if that’s news to you, started jonesing for the hound days from the 90’s, the coke, the weed, the booze, the cigarettes, all gone now in this today but the booze, and the clarity that should accompany the quitting has quit, although there was this guy who, at the trucker rest stop, one of those rest stops that looks like an outtake from the Maximum Overdrive set where the semis go bananas and try to kill Emilio Estevez and conquer the world, and where today on the set of my life there is beef and turkey jerky everywhere and sleek, dangerous knives for sale behind glass, anyway, this guy, who looks military-jaded, face crumpled under his hoodie, he says, ‘Do you smoke Marlboros?’ and I go, ‘I used to,’ and he says, ‘Well you can again,’ and he hands me his pack and I say, ‘I think I’ve quit,’ and he says, ‘I don’t need them any more, I’m going home,’ and I was in the moment heartbroken, not because someone gets to go home and I don’t really know what that means other than the country, Pakistan, that I grew up in and have not returned to for fifteen years or this place I rent where the dogs wait patiently on the chewed-up couch after the dogsitter leaves, but because what do you say to a friend who you want in that desperate way you’ve wanted someone who you want more like a lover but who you only get to keep in your life as a friend, and what do you say when you’re angry that all you’ve got is a friend and what the fuck is wrong with you, with her, with the world, that there can’t be more, more, more!, and then you’re terrified that once you have your barbaric yawps all texted you’ll be left with no friend at all, no gray eyes so contact-friendly that pierce and linger like that shard of glass that once got stuck in my finger for weeks and stung until I learned to love the way it stung and then if you were me you’d get to thinking about that moment in the bus when at eleven, nighttime, grimy windows, grainy world, someone announced, ‘He’s dead! They got him! They killed Bin Laden!’ and there was cheering, and the bus driver with the accent that is Poland but not precisely, he was cheering, and the dude to my left who is wearing a sweatshirt that looks like it has belonged previously to five different dudes from five different cities, he’s cheering, and the woman up front in the frayed everything, she’s cheering, and the whole bus, this motley crew that now feels like family, they’re all cheering, and my friend-not-lover, she was perhaps cheering, though she isn’t that sort of person, cheering back in her apartment, but not from the back room where I broke that jar of organic sauerkraut and where I’d spent the night, and I was cheering, but with that sliver of dread, because, you know, I’m petrified by death, by the death of things, and here I am back in this moment I’m writing about and so I take the cigarettes from the guy with the home and I put them in my pocket and I don’t smoke them and I’m thinking if this was something more substantially desperate in my pocket I would, I would, I would, because I am after all a child, and then I get a text from my friend who is still, despite my best efforts, trying to be my friend, that reads, ‘Are you okay? You seem really manic! Did you take some meth with some Greyhound people? And if so, can you please write me a short story about it?’ so while there’s no meth here, there should be, there should be that scene where this guy who, come to think of it, looks a little like Emilio Estevez circa Repo Men, behind the stubble and the stain of war, this guy and I, we’d go behind one of those monster trucks with snarling decals that’s about ready to roar alive and take the whole parking lot hostage, and we’d smoke something that will do something untenable and rotten to our teeth with protracted use and then there are those knives back behind glass at that truck stop counter, and they, the knives, they got to go off by the third act, right, because for that dude, in that story, a punch in the face is really just a handjob, and there are monster trucks to hallucinate and battle, there is glass yet to be broken and hearts yet to be stabbed, although none of that happens, yet, not to this me-dude who can’t even in this hollow time smoke a cigarette, and then finally here, now, in this no-longer today moment, if she’s reading this, this is the best I can do, this apology that is not-apology, this not-story story, this piece of sweet and bitter, this is for you if you’ve made it this far, and this is to say that all I wanted to say was please don’t leave me lonely and that is all the news I have for you and for everybody.

Imad Rahman is the author of I Dream of Microwaves, a collection of connected stories. He teaches at Cleveland State University & directs the Imagination Writers Workshop & Conference.

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