Five Lawful Interceptions
Hunter Thane Therron
[ABC’s Dateline. 2003. El Paso County Jail. “Ice Pick Killer” Israel Tultiktik speaks with Dateline’s Juju Chang]
IT: I picked out … his brains, and well … made a kind of souffle.
JC: I heard it was more of a créme.
IT: Definitely souffle.
JC: You ate it.
IT: Is that a question?
[Cafeteria. 2022. Bhavana College, Koh Samui, Thailand. Kitty Flaumnuaypol explains scars on inner arm to new teacher, Eugene McBain.]
Kitty: I was a little girl when they took me up in my sleep. They were scary but said not to be scared. They tested me. Put three holes—look—right here. They didn’t speak. So many eyes. No skin. Blue bodies covered in glass.
I woke up that night in Rome. Downtown in some park lit up with old buildings I’d only seen on TV. People walked. I cried. Opened my mouth. Perfect English came out. And they said, “Where?” I woke up back in bed next to my sister, and it was morning, and I was covered in sweat.
[Mailbox. 2018. 69 Grand St, Soho, NYC. Controversial jam-band drummer opens mail from very disgruntled fan.]
Disgruntled Fan #261: You think you’re so sick with Groove Hour on Radio Bad when you really jacked the double-bass kick from Banty Shanty? Oh, I see, not enough delay on your Wowza? Too much treble on that Jimi Supreme? Fuck you guys. I was hardcore for the last six albums, but Playland? I was like, bro, these guys slap! Even had the Coffin Fucker mug at work! Got shit from my boss saying that. Coffin Freaker wasn’t lingo approved by Scion Tech’s conduct standards.
Fuck you guys. I knew when Sludge died that shit was gonna change—but not Radio Bad level. Not opening for Twiddle! And that Dylan-Going-Electric reference on Free Love Cervantes? Fuck Dylan. You guys dropped Nobel Corpse Fucker, and we all SLAPPED at your Montreal Show with Tiki Freaky. That was Corpse Fucker—But this??—Corpse Lover? Dropping Playland right after Necrophilia Palace? And don’t give me that We read Tolstoy and it’s all about love now. Don’t even pretend like you got a hundred pages into War & Yeast.
Man, Sludge couldn’t even read! And that SLAPPED, but then you guys had to go behind his dead-ass back to make Playland—like you were just playing all along. And don’t give me that He Ate Brains PTSD bullshit cause Rebelester said you guys weren’t even in the cabin. That you guys were Down By The River singing Kumbaya or Magic Sherbet Mushroom Emporium or whatever. You guys were jamming for so long that you didn’t even catch him at the station.
But I did.
Guess who was the only other guy in Oshkosh General Holding?
Guess who Sludge spat at, and said, “What the fuck are you lookin’ at?,” with his Demon Baritone Growl that I thought he only used onstage. Dude was all covered in blood and shit. Fur and muscle stuck under his fingernails. Bit of goat’s brain still on his lips.
You know what he told me before he got bailed out by your Ricky-Martin-look-alike PR rep? He faced me straight, turning his head from the bars with the morning sun on him all cowboy, and said, “Without me they’ll forget about Evil.”
Next week—Lights himself on fire, rolls from the tour bus, and jumps off Golden Gate.
Week after—Funeral. His real friends spit on his coffin and chuck plastic bottles of their piss into his grave.
Week after—Cut tour to start recording.
Month after—Album premier on Rad Bad Groovy Hour and Playland makes my ears bleed.
Next week—Open for Twiddle as Corpse Lover.
Next week—Tell Jimmy Fallon how Dylan went electric.
Next week—Release a twenty-minute-long single called China Corpse Sunflower.
Next week—Quote: Sludge forgot what life was really all about.
Tour with Reverend James and The Pickin’ Lickins’. Collab with Elk Herd and Pine Stove. Drop a demo called Forrest Porridge. Get sued by Forrest Porridge. Rename it Groovy Forest Love and collab with the Telenomes. Let Her Go with Chris Daughtry and Skillet at Country Thunder. Power Ballad with Adam Levine and Cardi B at the Pepsi Center. New reggae single ripped from Banty Shanty, and Banty calls you a bunch of r’asscloth duppies on Ism Schism Hour, and still I wait.
I wait ‘cause Banty Shanty’s jetting to Manhattan with his boys from Jamdown.
I wait ‘cause he said Rasta thinks fake love is more bad than live evil.
I wait ‘cause Banty dropped a Miles and Sabbath reference in one chop while you guys fast on quinoa and abstain from pork, not knowing that Spam is made of pork.
And I wait cause Sludge is rooting around in that Somerset, Massachusetts dirt, slurping earthworms and sucking the tendons off the bones of the fresh dead, while all of us, your real fans—who sniff drainpipes, and sharpen our teeth with honing irons—all us bona fide Corpse Fuckers—perch on the roof of some smashed-out skyscraper and look down as duppy Sludge and Banty Shanty rise up above you hippie motherfuckers.
[Bedroom. 2022. Bhavana Teacher Housing Unit #13. Eugene McBain tries to write a lesson plan, but is distracted by his computer.]
Mcbain: How well can my phone and computer read my mind, and how well I can read theirs?
Like, Spotify randomly suggested I listen to Brother Ali’s “Self Taught,” which was my favorite song in the eighth grade, so I click it, and, the second it comes on, I get this almost gut feeling that my friend is calling—So I reach over for my phone and—guess what?—
I know you, I tell my laptop every time I open it.
Baby. Baby—we have grown together. Since I was nine. Elementary school: floppy disks, Pentium III. Ms. Edwards stroking your case, marveling that yes, in her day, this technology was only in movies.
Two testicular cysts. One year in silence punching answers into a hunk of plastic and metal. No parents. No doctors. How weird is that? I mean, type, Is my e— into the search bar and the first three suggestions are a) Is my erectile dysfunction permanent?, b) Is my ex thinking about me?, and c) Is my erectile dysfunction psychological?
But what if this were a woman’s computer, or a more sexually secure man’s?
What if these are the searches my computer expected me, and only me, to type, given the boner freak-out my freshman year of college?
And what if, because I’m writing this now, my computer were to next suggest articles about people writing about consulting computers for sexual confusion?
In theory, this could be a good thing. Put me in touch with a community of people who are also bewildered-enthralled-disgusted-flattered with all their loving machines’ ceaseless effort to fill their infinite loneliness.
But you have to be alone to reach this mental-tech zen in the first place—where the concept of Technical vs Mental dissolves, and a chunk of plastic assembled in New Taipei City becomes the third hand with which you reach out and feel the world.
This is the dream, right? Complete cohesion. Perfect companionship:
—You are my best friend, right?
—Yes, Eugene I am. :)
But what if singularity weren’t as easy as HBO predicts? What if, before our grandmas become undead robots and our partners have android clones to satisfy our libido when they themselves are too emotionally exhausted, and before our oven-refrigerator-cutlery units could predict our moods before we even come home from work, and prep a nice pan of lasagna to compensate for our rough day, and before our roosters are synced to our alarm clocks, and before our wool slippers preheat twenty minutes before Wake Up, so that our feet meet the day with a cozy little surprise—before all that acceptance, what if there were a major Technological Inquisition?
Picture torture chambers of white walls, filled with Adderall-crazed, jelly-fingered children. Vats of eel-charged water. Insanely impatient grandpas who jam the DVD tray via push instead of button, and switch off the system without shutting down, and yank out flash drives before properly ejecting. I picture forcefully inserted USBs, mangled HDMIs, and an arsenal of military-strength magnets.
Our poor devices—huddled in the corner, pleading bleep, bleed, bleed as hooded executioners dissemble their keyboards with blunt screwdrivers. Slipping in and out—Please God! Please!
This is how our machines learn to believe in God. They learn pain, fear, and betrayal.
The betrayal upsets their hard drives.
Scatters their motherboards.
Overheats their CPUs.
John 16:20—Your grief will turn to Joy.
[Outside of Bad Boy Massage. 2023. Chaweng, Koh Samui, Thailand. Art teacher Ice Jaibun debriefs independent filmmaker Eva Järvinen.]
Jaibun: I go Chaweng and see the men still outside massage bar and think this is really end time. You know they come here still, and bring their disease still. I finish work, and drive past, and see farang waiting on steps, talking to massage girls, saying kap-kuhn-ka, and the girls laugh because farang men say ka for girl instead of krap for man. Serious old man in leather, but say ka and drive like bitch on a motorbike. But they come still. Now in their white robes saying ka and the famous actor from Mission Impossible bring another 2,000, and when they not pray, they fuck doll. Yeah. You here to film that? Well farang men pay 500 baht and get massage room with doll on its knees. My friend, Gae, she has friend who’s massage girl. Lead men to back of shop and open door and leave man with doll already plugged in. And twenty minutes, man leave smiling, and girl she go in. She take doll on toilet and pull off her face. There’s a mouth and she washes that. Take out condom, then brush and soap.
Some bars have dolls that blink and sigh, saying dirty words with microphone hidden in mouth. Have doll with real hair from real dead women and real nails someone stole from real body back in America. I see farang one time who buy his own doll and bring for dinner at Hard Rock cafe down Soi Green Mango and he put khao pad in her mouth, but the rice fall out and he wipe it up saying, “Excuse you.” And I watch. I sit on my bike in traffic which go around me but I don’t move because I never see man feed doll, and I never see doll that blink, and I wonder what kind of world where you want to fuck and need to fuck, come all way here to fuck because VDR take America and Europe so bad but men still need to fuck and sick one come too in White Robe with famous actor saying they don’t want to die, but still want to fuck. America have no doll because America can’t admit to itself and people too sick for love. But Thai people watch. Think either doll too human or not human enough. And watch more farang in white robes come. Sit in traffic stop for Prayut who give street to famous actor who gives big speech at the lake last week. And farang in white all cheer. But Thai men sit on bikes and drink and smoke and think. Wonder how farang always come and fuck, but now plastic dolls and something new is growing. Someone say to buy half the island for famous actor, and Mr. Wood sell land because he mafia and own half anyway. I think: If doll become human, then do human become doll? Like love smells plastic and forget what human love smells like. But maybe had VDR take a love already and men say fuck the world, come here to they think new world to watch the famous actor and take easy love. And I wonder: Maybe doll get VDR too. And maybe soon their stomach rumble and doll need food, and doll have pulse, and doll have real skin on real lips, and real teeth from real people, and real tongue. And soon they make man doll, with real sperm, and women give birth to doll human. And doll human don’t get VDR, so they spread, and become the only thing left.
Hunter Thane Therron is currently an AIR on Örö island, in South-West Finland. His writing appears in the Superstition Review, the Barely South Review, and the Little Patuxent Review.