Bruxism [excerpt] – Daniel Breuer
May 5, 2021
“Shame, you needed her. We all need it sometimes.” He lights a match, white heat and orange glow, a new form – puts it under my skin, under my nose. The nostrils start to sag and sway, melting like white heat wax, orange glow jowls, charred but not lighting, it won’t catch fire, I can’t catch fire, I haven’t caught fire yet, still waiting. The match in his fingers, delicately rocked too and fro, the metronome of man. I can’t light – I will soon he says,
“Such a shame, years of yearning and never burning”
Before we make it to the thin house we pass The Dark Square, never growing, the sun settles and has settled for good, it sits static in the sky, embedded in the atmosphere, the shadows that have been long gone cast have been frozen in and around the cold, the dark and the cold and the dark cold ground. Set in black stone, frozen shadows, no gossip stirs in the square, the dogs roam, never bark, never even touch the dark. Silent and No one talks here, can’t talk here, shouldn’t talk here, too many to hear, too many echoes, reverberation and ears, a nasty combination, a fatal concoction. I can’t hear what Teddy Silo is whispering, as his voice has taken off and momentarily frozen in a gust gone past. He thought he saw his breath carried to The Clocktower above, but it diverted at the clock face quick style, green scan and (for now) he’s in luck. Begins to waft his voice back, silently cooing with outstretched arms, willing the voice to travel, full steam ahead, reassemble the condensation, vocal chords dripping with more sand by the second, clocks ticking above and the Ears around are sucking the voice with equal force, he beckons and beckons diverting the flow and ebb from the Ears, sucked in the gullet, full in the lung, diaphragm quivering with anticipation, it’s in he wheezes and heaves, it’s in. Finally he whispers, “not here, too many shadows” The whole square’s a shadow, no double action, I’m dubious – what’s the plan? “can’t you smell the shadows?! Stop and smell the shadows, for Dawns sake!” He laughs and laughs, laughs silently, sinister, “no, really”. He has stopped the silence, paused, “no, really. stop. and smell the shadows” He gestures with a cold palm, eyes and fingers, two knuckles protruding, nods down, wants me to, he wants me to.
“Hands and knees, smell the shadows” Takes a big whiff, icy and his nostril hairs freeze and crunch, fall out and shatter, looks at me, keeps looking, “hands and knees, go on” I get down slowly with ice burn from the cold concrete, jack-frost bite, glued to the pavement, dogs not barking, knees scraping, “smell the shadows” my face being pushed down head glue to the pavement the dogs not barking, stoic in the street the cold street, The Dark Square, everyone is looking but not one bark, none can bark, Teddy Silo’s pushing my head closer and closer, I can feel the chill my skins sticking to the frost bite bile nothing humorous about this nothing funny at all, he was laughing, not barking, smell the shadows he says feel the fumes, feel em, right? what’s that smell what’s that smell what’s that smell? huh? He lifts me by the collar with force, thin head and thin fingers but dexterous and strong, I never forgot his strength, he’s shown me before with a puddle of blood, swashing and the skin tears with it, small slit at the back of my neck, looks and stares, all ears now
“too many shadows?”
“then let’s go”
The bus is due, it’s here. Every single seat is sticky with saliva, too much plucking and too many droolers. I had placed mine, so evenly, my set, my chalky rock formations. They were compared to ancient stone circles, so sturdy, always being plucked and placed. Maybe they weren’t my teeth, someone else’s, another stone to suck, Nuvvuagittuq Greenstone, green with plaque and moss, my teeth they wobbled when tapped, ready to pluck, birds would nest and tourists gather and I would know it was time, I would wake and my teeth would not feel like mine – someone else’s, not my teeth not my tooth. I was a member of the Anti Bone Brigade, you see, premium subscription, we were sent one axe each afternoon, meant for dismemberment. “You were a dismember member, remember?” Teddy Silo says, nodding at the limbs scattered about the top floor, window seat, leg room. “Yeah, I wouldn’t hack… couldn’t chop”
“You’re built too bold, that’s the problem”.
The Leg Room on The Bus was at the back, up and back again, BLACK CUBE  like Mecca, you would take a pilgrimage to pulverize your leg right at the groin, tendons turn to pulp and plucked off with chopsticks by the Attendant. Hobbling along clockwise anti clockwise, it was wise to check the time and the route, a sharp turn could topple the tepid turds, limbs flailing anti gravity and anti time, would have to start again, wait for Regrowth, chop and chop, sigh and sigh again, the sideways shuffle. Bunch of crabs, really. That is, of course, if you were born (and blessed) with Brittle Bones. Some are born with BB, they have all the luck, they snatch the first opportunity to dissolve and degrade, feathers and all, in the furnace, the Leg Room, room to stretch. The Leg Room provided the steam, the push and energy of The Bus. The burning limbs would power the propeller, it was economical and efficient, but the smell was pure rot, pure pulp, pure and putrid. Those with Body Integrity Disorder (BID) would auction for prime bus seats, nosebleeds from the Gods. Their intense desire to erode in a most violent manner meant they’d pay an arm and a leg for courtside Leg Room. Those who bid the highest would often nurse a sense of sexual arousal connected with the deep deep dark desire for loss of a limb or sense. The gunk that flung out of these individuals would be most anti-social, but the scent would mingle with the stench and all the senses would distort and descend to a synesthetic symphony. The smell was the main reason The Bus was the safest mode of transportation, no Noses. The Noses would sniff out a Degrader like us bar the stench in seconds, sand timer seconds. Still had to watch out for The Eyes and Ears of The Clocktower, but their sense wasn’t so strong. This is because of the fog, the orange dusk glow, the shadows, too many shadows, often a trick, mostly false, double duplications. Waves and radiation lost in the clouds, taken by the gust, taken by the grime, in the sewers, in the slime. The smell was like Afterbirth Aftershave, true venom. My nose was on its way, one nostril out the door, the first significant stage of my Degradation, cut cuticles and flaking fingernails were the flimsy first, but the nose is the most noticeable, holds more weight (4), impresses the Board, the News Agent notes noses, doesn’t jot jowls… anything to lure The Body Corp.
Teddy Silo says “Did you place them?”
“Yes.. so evenly”
He was right, the new set had grown, accelerated regrowth, infinite cycle of baby drop, elder growth, withered pluck and baby grow. The cycle of life occurring eternally in my sloppy bloody mouth. The placement didn’t delay, the neat stack didn’t do jack “But I plucked, and placed so evenly? You saw? They weren’t mine!” I protested to the Tooth Fairy, fluttering past mockingly
“Take them out again, I can’t talk to you like this”
So I did, plucked and placed, so evenly to the seat next to me, beyond the leg room, always to the free side. They sat there, so neatly, root protruding with the nerves fraying out like gnawed cable, they weren’t mine either. Rock formations arranged, an erosional fin, so flimsy but stuck in the glue glob of Droolers, upright and ancient.
“I knew you would take them out, I knew it! I knew it!”
“Of course you knew, I take them out when they’re not mine” I nod at the set, “These teeth are not mine.” “Head can turn quicker now. Always helpful”. I demonstrate the speed of the owl, rotating all the way round and back again, Teddy joins me, shouting “I knew it! I knew it! I’m the soothsayer tooth slayer! The soothsayer tooth slayer!”
Whirred play and word play, always fun to keep the spirits high and the prophets low, he excites himself and he takes a shit, always like clockwork, I could guess that, the Nostradamus of the Anus! Don’t hear me chirping with the birds over the raw machinery and fire, but Teddy Silo shrieks in excitement, committing obscene excrement to the walls and windows. The hobblers round the Leg Room glance over but pay no heed, they can’t turn their head, they glance over: they’re already dead. Their teeth have anchored the jaws, in a perpetual state of shock – can’t lose the teeth so have to examine the alternatives i.e limb detachment. Most don’t mind the leg chop room place, as those who chose this particular path usually suffer from somatoparaphrenia – which may explain why the Leg Room is completely mirrored, each surface a perfect reflection, ceiling and floor, wall x4, perhaps a coincidence or potentially a fatal gag, a device that enables total realisation moments before the final chop, this limb belongs to them, them is me, i am me, this limb belongs to me, wait….! INFERNO!!! The guillotine eats the hobblers and gags out a flame where the dense orange glow distorts the scene, foggy and luminescent like a sun beam light box – the shadows don’t run here, the darkness doesn’t grow, but stretch. If this were the case I’d perhaps reconsider the route, but I have no time nor mental resources for the mawkish. Teddy Silo gathers his voice, he is perspiring profusely but the wetness of the skin mingles with the voice box and generates a smooth hush, damp and deranged he clicks me over, my lungs are seeping air and I need quick tape to stitch the wheezing silence. Teddy reaches into his trousers, arm deep in the hole, elbow down in the well of time, he jangles with forgotten fabrics and recent relics, empty bags, a handful of tree sap and vera juice to soothe the sores, his last ever lighter, maybe the last ever lighter, metal and rusty with a childish inscription, a statement of inexorable enthusiasm, wet wick all bent and soggy with gasoline and spit, rummaging through the dark abyss lucky dip, covered in flies, full of them, ink sap and fishing bait, rotting maggots can throw the scent off, The Noses sniff and sniff but their directions point down, handful of dog hair in your hole and get on all fours, crawl right past The Nose, they pat your head and tell you good boy, good boy, good girl, good girl. Never bark though, this will alert the Ears, who are harder to fool with a whimper and a woof, finely tuned to generate the high frequency, they will know the sound of a man rotting on all fours mimicking a canine… anyway – He pulls out an old card covered in sheen and flies, folded 8 times inwards, 9 times impossibly outwards. “I need you, I mean, I need you to tell me who this is” He says, unfolding a photo. It is sticky with pocket residue, creased and aged and frayed at the dusty paper seams, have to squint to make out a silhouette. The profile points in the direction of familiarity… a faint sense of a spark plugs my gut slot direct to the memory bank. I feel it inside, someone I should know, definitely, do know…need a prompt. I shoot him a hazy glance… “No dice”
“Asked the audience?” Says he had… no dice. He rolled 2 6s in the I Ching Championship, but they all voted against him, every one of them, the polished panelfolk really fought him, fired on all frontiers, red eye red scan and booted off and humiliated and bombarded with boos, had to fish the photo out from the waste basket at the studio, they tried to rip it up, an angry rip, so severe and mean, but he pleaded on his knees, on all fours, had to dog for a day. Teddy Silo says with sickening frustration, barely spitting out the words “It’s either my wife, my sister, your wife or your sister.” He has a curious look, while trying to gauge my reaction, trying to fish the facts from my face, he hit me in the back of the head, lightly, friendly, sending my vision faintly fuzzy and cheeks wobbling, he was desperate. If he wasn’t he would have hammered my skull, sent it shattering, a delicate Teddy Silo is a sad sight indeed. I looked closer at the photo, the closer my eyes went the less familiar the sight, had to stand back, blur the human in question into a foggy blob, squint and detach the retina, burn the image in the lids, blink, blink, heavy blink, do it with me Teddy, blink, wait, blink, can see the face in my Mind now, no need for the lies of eyes, no need for eyes at all. Can navigate the contours of her face without prior prejudice, soft and gloopy, dripping off the skin and drooping off the skull in an extremely satisfying and sensual style. This broad can blob! Teddy shouts, reading my mind. The hair has been plucked the perfect amount, just enough to catch a flash of skull, some dead skin in the sky dancing with the dust and debris, and lens flare white light in the eyes, orphan blue whirlpool and black death pupil, a real bubonic babe. Even in this little space, occupying not much than a quarter fist, standing frozen in time, her ghostly pale skin so delicate and porcelain, the urge to shatter like a bull in the frame, smash to perfect pieces, was strong. “She is definitely one of the four, agreed?” I can agree with this “if not more!”.. the focus pull on the puppet strings was tugging my mind in all directions, I can place her, I’ve placed her here… I have definitely placed her here I tell Teddy, pointing downwards, like the signs his sight follows my fingers south. past the major organs (all failing), to the passing member, easily held and seeping. “That rules out your sister, I think” I agree, I think.
“Where are we heading?” I ask Teddy Silo, looking out the bus window, not sure if I’ve seen this area before. “Somewhere sinister” He says with a wink as his eyelid flutters off like a butterfly intercepting and avoiding the contact required for social affection. This bus expires soon, we are alerted by the rattling of a hollow bell that we will have to jump through some hoops in the hopes of hospitable transportation.
Luck, as ever, was on our side. As we slap on the pavement Sam Flot stumbles past, singing and merry.
The Short Story Of Sam Flot:
Once, on a trip to the seashore, Sam Flot stumbled off the curb and hit his jaw and got up again, he then fell through the crack and had to climb up the gutter ladder, all bronze and rust, flaking in his fingertips but somehow dislodged debris that cleared his sinuses so sufficiently his voice now mimicked a Siren, and could do as he pleased while simply cooing away the Body Corp with sea-shanties. He developed barnacles, shingles and limescale erupted all throughout his new skin, scaly and shiny. Where most might cower and be somewhat embarrassed at this aquatic transformation, Sam Flot frolicked in the fishy fields, smelling absolutely putrid but rotting rather happily at his own pace.
“Sam!” Teddy Silo calls and he slips n slides right up to us, smiling his fishy grin. “What’s on the menu, boys?” he says as he opens up his jacket, flashes us his gills and drenched swimming trunk. Sam Flot’s got every kind of Extra Age Pill known to fish, found and dealt exclusively in the Blue Market, selling only the greatest barrier reefer. His wet teeth clinging like limpets suction cupped to his pearl gums wobbled as his black eel tongue darted around searching for a whitebait bone. The black fishpaste oozed out and in between his porous tiny gnashers as he laughed at our agape jaws swinging in electric eel shock at the Xcess in Xtra Age. Squid ink ran down his cheeks while he toad and fried swinging the stock. Sam Flot was a certain type of loan shark, sniffing red meat and pouncing. His brother Sammy Jet tried to imitate his style but it was forced, whenever he was around it weighed him down like ballast – Sam flourished the solo sale However, this flesh is alive, this meat is dead. “We don’t need any now” Teddy Silo squealed hush, taken aback at his own refusal and restraint. “We need transportation, we need clear minds, take us to translucentville, stat!” Teddy outstretched a crumb of a finger and pointed wayward, into the depths. Sam Flot carried us downstream wobbling without warning, we rode in his pockets, his shark teeth clattering all the way, clicking between sets and singing the seven sisters hymns. It was fantastic.
“Downstream? Nothing but dirt and dirt down there” I say to Teddy Silo – his thin face growing and stretching every second watch the clock
“I heard about a big man from old west, red and blotchy, sells Tongue Slab”
And that was that, the immediate answer to my immediate query – Tongue Slab, the Anti-ToT, usually impossible to find, have to roll it out like a play doh pancake, salty and full of shrapnel, smoked in one sitting, clears the fog, opaque brain, the chair is there, there.
He was a big man, sat on his suburban stool, his shadow stayed static, cold and frosty from the sheer surface area of his girth. His face was putrid, fat, pinkish and brown. Sores puffed and steamed like a pus volcano erupting at every micro-expression, the scabs would peel and curl when he smiled – don’t get me wrong, this was not an unusual sight, but his face sitting amongst all those blisters and blotches was terrifyingly youthful – this was not the result of rapid radiation nor artificial deteriorating, this was a true, pure, hideous degenerate, decaying only by nature and nothing else.
“pee-so-rye-a-sis” —-he says, I’m dubious, although my mind is foggy, I seem to recall my aunt having psoriasis, and it didn’t look like this, nor was it pronounced with a PEE, which he emphasised in an exclusively Old EAST eloquence.
He spins a yada-yada yarn about his blemishes. Says he was born blemished, with spots and sores that would itch and flake, kids called him a curse, his parents owned the milk n mucas corp, he spiked the supply which ran him out the city, into the bus and here. from the sticks to the burbs, where they aren’t so used to the skin peelers and definitely weren’t as tolerable to the flaky, no truck for the slime.
“do you like it here?” Silo says,
“I don’t like the bright sounds, the sonic spasm of the city, I mean don’t get me wrong, I like The Big Light! the Big Light is wonderful! We didn’t have that growing up. Ambient Num. 2 was all we had down Big West, couldn’t see SHIT! We had to squint so hard our lashes ended up like venus fly traps, sucking in every bit of light poss-ee-bell, had to trap that sucker! One ray hit the pew-pil and SNAP! Lids closed shut tight on that ray, holding on to it for as long as poss-ee-belllll like the Menorah oil… had to savour that beam, I don’t miss that, I don’t miss that one bit. Now what can I get for you boys?”
He makes the smallest gesture, so tiny and insignificant it may have been an ant hopping off a leaf two towns away, causing a microscopic gust of fabric, a mere twitch of a lapel, yet Teddy Silo, ever so jittery and jagged took this as a threat and pounced, using his singular long nail to slit the plump man’s throat, leaving him gurgling and spouting blood out of his rotten neck clutching at the cut trying to close the gash with his red pink sausage fingers. Teddy’s nail is known around the world, it has been crafted like an ancient japanese sword, decades of diligence and sharpening has left his pink lefty with such a blade he can carve his initials on a dandelion’s stalk or slice a daddy long legs’ stride in half.
Teddy Silo ripped his skin in such precise and peculiar formation that his flesh flayed like ribbon string, it was a marvellous Sight, and although stunned by the sheer violence, one had to admire the craftsmanship. “Why??” Teddy Silo shrugs “I thought it was a Nose Job! his story went on, no one talks for that length without some agenda, without some ulterior ulcer.” We checked his pockets for any device but all we found was slab dust, lice and snail shells. No tongue slab neither, sigh and sigh again. We have to dip, drool and mozie aside, he’ll be fine, suffer, but fine. but first we have to do something about that, Teddy circles with the same sharp nail around my mouth, leaving a faint trail of skin, blood and white ash. my teeth have returned, again. The teeth keep growing, new sets appear at an accelerated rate, the head weighs heavy. Chopstick the nerve, bundle them spaghetti style, twist round the root, take them to the desert, shoot and pulverised, bury the ashes, fuck the phoenix, a pheasant will suffice. The roots are rotten, the fruits don’t ooze good juice. They stink.
The sun used to rise and set and rise again, now the dark dust envelops us all, fruit and fibre are a fiction, however beneficial to the cause – it is hard to believe gangrene and scurvy were once undesirable, they’re now craved en masse. collectors item of considerable fortune.
Once a 2DOZEN I take a yellow green bath to soothe my sores, scabbing and scabies….wait for it wait for the peel, scab wrapping up around the soft wrinkled finger so slowly, twisting off, clean off…success! The piss juice and snot serum help spread the sores, while the attendants with their red gloves through the black curtain rub you all over with the putrid, a spoilt milk curd 10 times past the pasteur. Each follicle spurts black tar when pressed and squeezed, tweezers tweezed on the lemon juice geez.
at the operating table a small crowd watches me in the middle, naked and underground, a mole in the middle of a medical amphitheatre – the doctor struts in with dark shades on and says “it’s a routine surgery…. unfortunately not my routine!” and breaks out in a hideous dance, chucking his wrists at degrees and angles so uncouth it causes a vicious cycle of viscous bile, mass vomit and regurgitation to all unlucky enough to be laying on their backs, unable to rise they swallow the suds and chuck up the sludge for the rest of their days like a vile fountain, a perpetual motion machine of goz, a water feature for the retching wretched. Everyone watching is cackling as he hits his moves over my molten torso till the lights turn off and everyone goes home. It is simply the death of light, dying light, the deceased light, the living night, the thriving dark, the growing dark, the pure black, the death of dark the birth of light the afterbirth of light the thriving light the growing light the pure light, one can hope.