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Is it ink or pencil? In the Depression did your accountant hold behind his back your last big ledger sheet and smile because maybe he did not like you and then whip out the pale-green Boorum & Pease ten-column double-entry ledger sheet and — did they have … was Boorum & Pease extant in the thirties? Or in ’29, rather? You’d think, wouldn’t you, that of all businesses to go out with the lights it would have been first and foremost, very head of the line, some outfit making accounting products, zero dollars after all does not require extensive books, so if Boorum & Pease existed before the Crash it had to have Crashed, it was therefore born from the embers, later, its gentle green products sprouting humbly up along with other, new, and miraculous shoots of recovery, the accountant could not whip out Boorum & Pease paper and you couldn’t wonder then or now if it was pen or pencil that sent you flying out the window, the good old double-hung sash window with two fine slugs, or pendula, what’s the right word, those long, hangy-down doobers on the rope inside the walls, iron, like billy sticks, hard to find now, very hard to find, hard to know what to do with them if you do find one, tell other people who are looking for them for whatever reason they’re looking for them that you’ve found one, or ten, maybe ten is enough to get them to buy them from you, then they go get some old windows, wind up fixing up a house of about Depression vintage — can you jump out of the window fifty years before the damned pig-iron thingamajigs are to be used restoring perhaps the same window? Can you jump? Is it an inked or penciled zero, whether on Boorum & Pease or not (let’s forget that absurd debate!), is it a zero … or maybe a negative … yes, why on earth would a zero inspire anyone to jump out of a window? Zeros never hurt anyone, it’s negative numbers make people kill themselves, zeros are perfectly harmless, often salubrious, just sometimes unsettling to the capitalist mind with its impractical insistence on constant growth, a more absurd proposition than the Boorum & Pease wrangle by a factor of … of a lot, so is it an inked negative million dollars which will keep your kids from attending college, which wasn’t so important in 1930 anyway, they could just go to your alma mater, the School of Hard Knocks, but a negative million dollars would keep your wife out of the beauty parlor and good-looking probably low-cut post-flapper dresses, and you out of walnut-wainscoted boardrooms for the rest of your bathtub-gin life, or is it a penciled negative million dollars that could be erased and changed either before you jump out the window or, if you take yourself by the scrotum and leap, after you jump out the window—

— Mr. Desultory can’t jump out the window in his beloved simple time, no binary easy time that, a debit-credit St. Vitus dance before a skyscraper window; the Depression’s not for him, maybe something earlier, wax seals come to mind, quill pens and ink, no, not more ink, trouble there, before writing would be safer, rocks, fires, elephants, and not elephants that evoke global economic ecologic politics ivory wars Greenpeace ozone acid rain what to do what to do what to do, no, elephants and plenty of them, maybe more than you want to see, but let’s leave that alone, impossible idea surplus herd in ancient times, elephants, plenty of them, yes: elephants with hair on them, don’t even have to call them elephants if they have hair on them, or enough hair, all elephants have hair, bristles coming out of their deep rubber flesh like wire—how much hair was the cutting-off point, made you a mastodon, cut the girls as it were from the boys, sheep from goats, dainty modern pachyderm from the woolly mammoth?

Mr. Desultory must continue to regress, it won’t work, he can go all the way to the Big Bang and still not manage two consecutive or consequential — no, just sequential, two … okay: Big Bang, BANG! Is Mr. Desultory in it or not in it? Does he go that way into the black hole, whatever that is and if one may enter it, or this way into the light of day, elephants with or without hair, Boorum & Pease in ink or pencil, windows to be jumped out of or to be restored — here, perhaps, his error, or not his, somebody’s, Fate’s or Accident’s: if he had gone that way, through the black hole at the beginning of time, at the moment before which there was no decision but after which there was no deciding, he would not be in the difficulties he is in today. There would be no problem. It, the Bang, was a larger, simpler, if in a sense higher window than the later double-hung one in the Depression, and he wishes he had jumped, or been sucked, through it.



FROM A LINE OF FAMOUS men I am, and of armoire and men I sing, and my father doesn’t have a goddamned thing to do with it.

My coffee cup leaks! The girl, if you think she’d check to see if the cups leak at the takeout. No. And walk eight blocks without noticing, without the cup falling through the bag. If my father had a goddamned thing to do with it, he doesn’t now, and I’d like to see the bastard who will say it to my face.

An excellent wool blazer contravenes the wit of planned obsolescence to the utmost. An excellent wool blazer nearly obviates, forever, the new wool blazer. Do you think my father had a goddamned thing to do with it? I don’t even think his father had a goddamned thing to do with it. The Wall Street Journal may well be an excellently written paper but I do not find it helpful. It is of marginal use to me. I don’t care for it. I don’t care to be buzzed, either. We can, if we want to, stem the tide of technological tackiness, we can have the girl just get up and knock and lean in, or present herself with dignity and inform you that someone wishes to speak with you on the string and Dixie cup. What is so wrong with that? Do you think I’d stay here if my father had a goddamned thing to do with it? Stay? Remain? Hold prideless untenable sinecure when of I sing … really, there’s nothing wrong with lineage, that is how you win the Kentucky Derby and the only way you win the Kentucky Derby — if my father had a goddamned thing to do with it I’ll eat … Mister Donut here, I’ll eat that box of Mister Donut. She got the white, choke you to death you breathe wrong, High-Level Corporate Exec Dies of Inhaling 10X Confectioner’s Sugar, Wall Street Journal, page 6. If my father had a goddamned thing to do with it, it’s water over the bridge now, spilled milk under the dam. Anybody who tells you he did is a high-water asshole who’s jealous. How could he have had a goddamned thing to do with it if I tied his shoes for him, in the end? When you tie an old man’s shoes, he does not have a goddamned thing to do with it. Not a goddamned thing.