I wrote the following story many years ago. 33 years ago, in fact. I was in high school and had discovered the metafiction pastiches of Donald Barthelme. I can see his influence—and Beckett's—in this particular piece, but I like to think there is something of the off-center slant that continues in my current work.
"For Godsakes, grow up, Wulfhund."
"Easier said than done. Easier to articulate than activate."
They argue as to whether Hitler had charisma or not."
"He could gesticulate. But arbitrate? I think not."
"Some can, some can't. Some will, some won't."
"Some do, some don't?"
"And what do we do? Who are we?"
"Who aren't we?" replied Wulfhund, marking the trousers with quick, deft strokes of the tailor's chalk. "We don't make money, and we don't spit teeth."
Wulfhund and Jeremy have acquired a reputation and all of its trappings: identity crises, misplaced change, dust.
Sometimes they rifle through cigarette machines, seeking slug coins. They no longer mark trousers, adjust hems; instead, they drive on the turnpike in Jeremy's Rambler, trying to "...consolidate..." things.
Themselves. They stay in Holiday Inns, thinking about who they aren't, about owning a hunting lodge on Baffin Island. A place where they "...could hunt polar bears with machine-guns..."
Now they watch television at a Quality Motor Inn. But, as Wulfhund has seen Death of a Salesman, they know that "...failure's waitin' 'round the bend..."
"But what will we fail at?"
"What won't we fail at?"
" ; , , ."
The television is still on and the sink and bathtub have overflowed and are running onto the orange-and-ochre shag rug and
Wulfhund brushes lint from his beret on a PanAm flight to Dublin.
Taking pictures in profusion. Kodak Brownie, dated Leica, assorted lenses.
Shot of cobblestones. Shot of cat. Shot of newspaper vendor. Shot of newspaper. Shot of newspaper against sky. Shot of Jeremy gesticulating obscenely.
Wulfhund and Jeremy bum a lift to Londonderry. Purpose: "...to take artsie shots..." This they do without hesitation.
Shot of rusting Mini Morris. Shot of shoe reflected in hubcap. Cheap shot of Jeremy sprawled on street, doused with ketchup. Shot of doorstep.
They seek bombings, wishing "...to portray the guts and steel..."
Jeremy books them a room in the Hotel Viscount.
The television is on, and Jeremy puts an edge on his scimitar; Wulfhund mounts a flashlight on his .22 with black electrician's tape. An I Love Lucy rerun comes on the television, and they look at the set and then at each other.
Jeremy: Do you remember the time little Ricky played the drums and sang "Babaloo"?