The place needed redecorating so I started pilfering furniture: a couch from this condo, a laptop from an abandoned houseboat. I even returned to the wreckage of the Greenwood apartment to collect the old armchair, which, as it turned out, was some kind of antique. According to a plaque on the chair, it was a gift given in 1914 by the last Empress of China, Cixi, to the mayor of Seattle. It took a while to bolt everything down so it wouldn’t slide across the hardwood to the ground-facing windows, and even longer to get used to the pull of gravity as I cooked up breakfast, took a sideways shower.
Word got out about my new digs and, by the weekend, everyone wanted to see me. I threw a big party. The Jeffs and Tammi and Tina even drove in from the suburbs.
“Poetry is the ecstatic rendered into static,” I said.
“Property is the illusion of time as capital,” I said.
Everyone applauded. We toasted cocktails with fennel vinegar to cele-brate Tina’s new self-composting toilet, Tammi’s new job in HR, Nathan’s new haberdashery.
The next day I saw some other salmon come sniffing around the place, so I went out on the balcony and shouted, “Hey you! Yeah you! Scram! These are my digs!”
Others came by from time to mine. If hollering wasn’t enough, I’d slap my fins against my chest, or throw some garbage at them, or recite sections of the manifesto I wrote in college for a course on sustainable urban planning… Lichen for every rooftop! Kombucha mothers for every closet! Recalibrate root chakra from consume/decay to ferment/foment! We ARE the automaton!
Weeks passed, and my parties became a big deal. Every Friday night we’d dangle from ropes to keep from falling and drink and talk, looking down at the rubble below. But, at the end of the night, after the guests had left, there I would be, holding onto a support rope, all alone.
One day I saw the landlady wiggling her tail fin below my window.
“Yoohoo!” she said.
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