Gowanus

by Mitchell Grabois

1. I have lived too long with imaginary friends, and with imaginary paintings. My father told me I was a bum and would always be a bum. That was at a critical stage of my development. Thus, I flirted with becoming a Jesus freak, but didn’t give in. Bob Dylan gave in. He painted his face like Batman’s Joker and declared: You’ve got to serve somebody. Bullshit. The only person you’ve got to serve is yourself at the ALL YOU CAN EAT buffet. Also your legless wife—she can’t serve herself. She was a hero in the Iraq War—her legs were blown off. That’s how you can tell she’s bona fide.

2. I hugged darkness to my heart as if it were inherited farmland that many ancestors had slaved over. I lacked success or satisfaction, and melancholy was a vast ocean much greater than the mill pond across the street from my old apartment where logs floated, barely submerged, waiting to be plucked and sawn up for the mill owner’s profit.

3. I asked my cousin Hubert, “Is it true that your sister committed suicide?”

4. I have imaginary Picassos on my walls, imaginary van Goghs, Rembrandts and Matisses, and all of my paintings are better than real paintings by the same artists. I have a collection worth billions of imaginary dollars. How much am I worth? My worth is an illusion. That is true of all of us.

5. Hubert’s current occupation is caring for his demented mother. His sister Monica helped him until she became unbearably allergic to the old lady.

6. Hubert’s lifetime profession had been catalog photography. He specialized in taking photos of chairs, couches and home appliances. I had spent some time admiring his pictures. Then the demand for his work dried up.

7. Mist was rising over the Gowanus Canal. The next ice age was coming. The continents were preparing to move back together into one huge land mass.

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