You are currently viewing Pack Mule by Caspian Alavi-Flint

Pack Mule by Caspian Alavi-Flint

I wake up and think “where am I?” It takes me a moment. I am flattened against a kitchen island of a rental apartment in southern Pennsylvania. I have sleepwalked again.

From the floor I look at a clock on the stove. I shower with a medium level of heat. I enjoy most making myself as placid as possible. How calm can I get in any given moment?

A minimum of ten hours in commute is a quiet evasion from a ceaseless internal silence felt when I am free and doing things considered good for the body.

Today, the battery in my car dies. I stand next to it looking in, as if I could change it. You’re a disgusting roach, I say to the window where my pretty face is reflected.

On Amtrak platform six, my whole being and all this stuff I have to carry to a drop-off point in DC. This, the fat belly of living.

The sound of the door squeezing its metal thighs. Thunks and is swollen. I bring myself to investigate the carriage before retreating again. It is good to know who’s around if you are a woman and alone early in the morning.

Two people. The first, I am familiar with. The second, looking as though she passed away years prior. Nobody cared to touch her cold body so she remains on her seat, ossifying, merging with upholstery forged in the fires of hell. She hisses like a kettle.

I have no idea what is attractive about art, but my instinct is to say, ‘she’s a work of art,’ which is to say she incites a temporary intelligence in me. I keep my eye on her, she looks at me with the same milky curiosity.

I jerk my body towards the window, trying to look like it’s what I was planning on doing anyways.

I look back because I think the woman looks a little bit like me. It’s too much. I try to look like a still lake by closing my eyes but keeping my arms on the bags stretches me. I may not survive that much. The thing I am trying to convey is, mine is not your average heart.

I wake up on a couch and think to ask myself where I am? Another day in Michigan? I am in a well-furnished cave, a rental cave in DC. I spend some time browsing through in a shop before the Amtrak.

Would I do better to have some fraternity? Because not having an outlet might cause a festering wound which would be bad for the heart. I feel inwardly guilty and enter the station with two bags full of stuff which need to be carried.

The train stops. A piece of trash hits my face, falls onto my lap, reflecting a ray of light into my eye center. While grappling with the tumultuous sun-spot, the almond-cheese stick wrapper peels away and is innocent, lost under the seat.

It is raining. A group of little trash people wearing yellow t-shirts imprinted with the Dairy Free Catharsis Convention for Kids board the car, explaining the trash. Their chaperones wear bluetooth devices and shout. I move away from the lurching gamin flailing and hitting each other. I still have an hour before my stop and if I can, I’d like to be alive when it occurs.

I wake up the day after tomorrow and figure I am on an overnight to Colorado with more stuff. Every day is a machine. I feel very little; my needs are kept to the minimum necessary to keep me hurtling forward in time. I am always in a waiting room. 

I can handle my assets in a way that seems fine. I have a sinking feeling: a commute can never really end. My personal cycle of extermination.

At the drop-off, I interact with an automated machine. Rapport is somewhere between reality and mythology, and I wake up again. Texas. California. New Mexico. Three things can be learned and accepted at one time.

The car is still broken. Presence leaves you vulnerable. And a companion that blocks your movement may not be so bad if the companion is a rock.

The weather here is fine. It is cold. It is biting. I am friendly with the cashier. I ascribe to practitioners of health foods. I press lips against the glass, making them look womanly. I can watch the platform take off in the opposite direction. And I see. Far away. At the end of the dark tunnel, a breathtaking view of the underground.