Today I bring you something different - my friend and fellow Sofanaut (someone who does regular pieces for StarShipSofa.com), Matthew Sanborn Smith has published his first collection of short stories. It's called the Dritty Doesen. I'm posting the "title" story in full below. I hope you'll take a few minutes and read it and then go and check out the rest of the collection here at Amazon. Matt tells me "Dritty Does" is a pretty surreal story, but perhaps it would appeal to the poetry types who read my blog. The whole collection is a wonderfully bizarre set of stories as only Matt can tell them. But first, a little introduction by the author himself:
Thank you, Diane, for sharing my story! The Dritty Doesen is my first collection, full of my least reasonable stories. As you might imagine I named it in honor of the following story, because Dritty Does is the least reasonable of them all. The collection contains eleven more stories (most of which are easier to understand than this one), and behind the scenes looks at how each of them came into being. If that wasn't enough, you get a gorgeous cover by the great Galen Dara! Enjoy!
And as an aside, if you don't know Matt's podcast "Beware the Hairy Mango" and love a good manically weird story that will only take 5 minutes to listen to, this is the podcast for you!
Now on to the story!
Cover art copyright © 2014 Galen Dara
Dritty heaved and drew heaven-long strings of lights in from across the nocturnal sea. The ocean-wide song of them rocking in the water sang itself, played itself out as it poured off the world stage. It didn’t need to be done. Nothing needed to be done but in Dritty’s mind. He who put old batteries in all of the stars so they might flicker overhead in the formerly dead night when comets and meteors tired of their running, panted tongue-sweaty and drank the waters just beneath the horizon. And he who swept those same slackers in his mastodon nets to haul them in and swing them back up into play. They hated him for it and would have plotted his destruction had they more than a jackal’s sense and distractions.
I myself for extended years smothered, too tied up in the Kepla fires to overly concern myself with any of it. Over time they burned black sigils into both of my souls, scarring me with forever regrets and excuse enough for a free responsibility ride my whole crawling slow life. I did revel in Dritty’s water music, however. Its turquoise spray cooled my skin, made my flames pop. His tropical winds washed the ash from my body. I rolled and I lolled and before I knew it, I forgot the bindings and they burned themselves through. I fell free again and damned myself to no avail. Terrifying scary. I ran to find the next prison so I could curse and cry and scream at injustice once more. So I could feel safe again.
In time I came to hate Dritty, though I couldn’t point to why. The troubles into which I sank myself never seemed deep enough, the drink never drunk enough. I cried chilling in sweat-soaked beds, I scratched at my father’s eyes, felt the acupuncture thirst and still I starved. Maybe down in my intestines where I never saw, only felt, I held some Dritty-shaped lump of blame in there. I didn’t like to think of him.
I always thought of him.
When the Dread locked down the weevils, they fled scamper-shot into their wholes and all talk of Revolution became all talk. Dritty cranked the World on its axis with a creaking and groan of that old wooden wheel that made the savage thunder meep in comparison. There lived villages out there, I tell you, villages that knew what went on and flew their kites high into the black sky beyond the blue to catch the super orbital photon winds which came only one time in a Dritty mood. In all the little worlds of frying eggs and falling loves and the sweet taste of coconut, each and every thing of us made a little world in each and only event. We all ran worlds, just a question of their scale. Dritty made the big world happen.
In my grey wanderings I fled from my own void up the skystep to find the old Dritty cotton-candying the winds. I felt the weight of everything there in his red barn lair. His single rooster, a Rhode Island Magnetite Red, perched permanently overhead, bowed and dizzy. Straw floors gritted and stabbed my bare feet. A googly-eyed froggy magnet pinned one single paper to a vast rippling expanse of refrigerator door that doubled propping up the Moon. The paper, done on the Indonesian Postal Service in fat orange crayon, sported a B-minus in red ink and a smiley sticker above the words “Good Try!” This, of all of his accomplishments merited the door. My eyes ran. So sweet. Simple.
Watching him there I contemplated the even bigger world, the climb of magnitude up that made ones like us look out and wonder. Well, I just felt the weight of even everythinger. I nearly fell faint with the crushingest pressure that the universe knows as Anxiety. But I saved me by a glance of Dritty’s mighty oaken limbs, muscles bulging from muscles, hewn from the iron cores of stony worlds and they worked. They worked our corner of cosmos like the watch-spring whipping tensions of spiral galaxies, forces of nature, natures of force, and habanero pepper seeds. And there came no fatigue in those old bones. Lactic acids splashed off of him, beaded up and rolled from his Armor-All D.A., impenetrable!
Power and potential never occurred to him. He just felt the need to work those big machines and he galumphed off, from one to another, spinning plates on their poles while gamma radiation bursts played the circus music behind him. Beneath his fingertips, life tasted lemon sharp and ran pug wild and Dritty never even knew it. He just lived. Just lived. His lungs drew hard and his hot blood forced itself through supple, long arteries, roaring rivers pounding dams to dust. He bellowed from Hindenburg lungs to rock the space-time foundations until a little blip in the vast infinity/eternity saw dinosaurs riding cowboys in Tokyo Bay. One wonder-spitting child, racing from thing to glorious thing as if his life could never fit it all.
Only when I took in the absolute of him, that entire life captured in his body, the oppressive wholeness spilled off of me like it never soaked into him. I went to him, rubbed his vast Volkswagen shoulders and I thanked The Allness for him, for that great Paul Bunyan chest, for the magma heart that burned white within it. He was too busy working worlds to shrink before their masses, more alive than that whole damned writhingeatingfuckingshitting biosphere.
In that next instant he turned to me. His large, calloused hand cupped my face. I smelled the ozone on his breath till my pee hole burned and hot liquid ran down my inner thighs. So unknown, Dritty’s attention on me! Why?
He looked in me. I stood bare for the most intimate of all physical exams. My liver, my kidneys, my brains, all saw sunshine for the first time in their lives. All of us needed to cringe in his eyelight. None of us could, exquisite and painful.
“Your beautiful fires,” he said, “They have become unkindled.” He held me, wrapped those tree trunk arms around me gentle as a kitten, scritchily licked the salt from my body. He healed my wounds, the runes on my skin and the ruins deep below its surface. I took him into me, me, long toes, long breasts and he wide and weighty. We disturbed the silk of caterpillar nest which held the heavens in place. Worlds shook with our exertions and gravity boiled.
When he moved on to the next piece of existence, I sat on the skystep and found myself for the first time devoid of have-tos. My former addictions, every niggling one, from morphine to blinking, scattered on the winds like dandelion seeds. Directions shot out of me like rays of laser, but I would sit here for a while and catch my breath. I stretched my corneas and watched my baby at play, five thousand miles away.
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