Mercury V. Cucumbers, maybe it is your name the gasping machination of it, makes me follow this trail of links no other name not Colander Q. Beefsteak not Mellifluous T. Horticulture could make me follow, buy V1@grrrra, P3n1s 3n1@rgm3nt, whatever it was. Maybe my writing, the thrill had left for a moment, these words winding and wending together around me in the late last of the desert, or a flowchart flickering, bleary-eyed, boredom, again, whatever, the work of the new white collar staring at our electric effigy to Bill Gates until bled bone-eyed and sleepy, maybe thatís why I chose you, or you me. Most likely, though, Ďtwas a backblast sonnet, me the monkey tapping out my accidental Shakespeare, youíll get me sooner, or some other sucker, and validate yourself through pure serendipity, youíll rise up the algorithm in the back-end alley switchboard randomizer that spawned you: tabulated as successful, enticing, like a mass market striptease. Heíll applaud you in binary, assign you a new classification, compute you again and feed you out to a million more meís on your tether. But, now, this moment, I am yours. Now, this moment we are alone and I may just make love to you, my white shadowed arrow on the changling crease of your name, my mouse-hand sore, shaking, from the stroke up and down the mousepad.
For a moment, nothing. The connection staggers. Slugs in telephone lines, vapors in the atmosphere between dish and radiated satellite, a quiche some grandmother phones her friend interferes, cuts across you, tangles until the cyber bits in blue shirts and bludgeons brawl you apart from each other and deliver you unto me in the shape of a single blinking red bunny upon my screen, dashing hither and thither, infecting me, and Iím there, one with you, stripped and alone, shutting the switch, cursing it as it fails to respond. I am yours. I am disconnected. I am sent out. Out with you, the serendipity of you hot as a rash on my skin.
I owe you, Mercury V. Cucumbers, you and your alluring name. The accident of you. Among the noise you rose. Among the noise you fell, wounded angel of you, unbodied, reigning nowhere but now, perhaps, worthwhile a moment as I rub my nightvision away.
Even if I wanted, I couldnít buy that V1@gggrrrra. No link, dead-ends, more flashing, gridlock. Transference from the Chicago on-ramp stalemate wishing the L were just a bit closer to home, thatís the same model of us up there in billboards, shining blue and muscular like Sally Struthers in the fagged-out flipping between infomercials end of the binge, thatís the same us everywhere in 48pt bold Arial, 3D, with exclamation points: a new and improved creatine, a new and improved NFL autographed football, a new and improved carrot for chrissakes, all of them swallowed up via the seen/heard as an extruded interference no thicker, no more tactile than scratched cueballs, the Himalayas obliviated on our little imperfect oblong sphere when seen from such omnipotence, all simply looked beyond, waved away, simply not there until you fell, cute, burpy, unable to let me label, refine, define, Babel out my unworded understanding of you, O, who are you?, who are you my Mercury V. Cucumbers?
I step out of my tent into the darkness. The wind shinnies the tent poles, shivers the plastic porto-pots, whistles in the guywires. Sand from the floor of the desert shifts around my ankles like drifting snow, snakequick, stinging. Generators rumble, chug, beat diesel into electricity.
And then, one by one, they stop, go silent. As if I had flicked a switch, as if in mentioning your name beyond the blue screen some witching hour welled up into the realm of the physical, real, capital, combustible now. Those generators, ever-present licorice of my dreams, drowned long ago since the always, always around me, those generators die.
The camp darkens. The hairs in my ears tingle.
From the mosque beyond the wall of barbed-wire the muezzin call to prayer sighs into the same 6000 yr-old stillness of struggle to rise up and be more than mud. But it is a quiet cry tonight, Islamís amplifiers black and cold, infected with you. The old prayer man climbs seventy-two spiraling stairs to complete his duty, brings them to prayer by singing in his natural voice, wailing with atrophied lungs over the quiet dark American fortress.
Though I do not know what he says, after the first ritual nothought of his Allahu Ahkbar, the ablution of sound, I can at least imagine. Imagination remains, formless and perfect as art. He sings, I think, nothing sweeter, nothing more fluid than your name, my Mercury, my V period, my gentle green prickly Cucumbers.
Benjamin Buchholz is a US Army Officer working in Iraq. His short fiction and poetry have appeared widely in the last few years at places like Tarpaulin Sky, Identity Theory, The 2River View, Tryst, The Wisconsin Academy Review, GoodFoot, Harness, Antimuse, Opium, and others. His first collection of writing is forthcoming this summer. For a full bibliography and other oddities, please see www.benjaminbuchholz.com.