Caulk – Nicholas Forman
August 22, 2023
I’m looking at this photo of a girl boy, looking at it on my phone while I’m sliding off the bed. The smoke coming out of their mouth (with great intention) dyes their hair blue adding to the ambiguity. Their hair is in piggies and they have some kind of beard and glasses I think if I can remember the photo well enough. I assume they’re in New York because that’s where all people online live now, all the ones who just show their face and the background is some dreary street with boring buildings that not even ghosts would want to haunt.
The person in the photo I didn’t know. Even though it was a selfie, some girl had reposted their selfie on her story, accompanied by some text that I didn’t process. But I know I didn’t recognize them, despite their digital invasion.
I felt a new envy and attraction that’s only come from the hypotheticals I can congeal in my head. Where I apply perfect speech and clean faces to everything in my mind and it makes me fume and gasp, mainly internally. But this person needed no smoothing, I knew they were perfect, they were all I wanted and wanted to be.
Somehow they attempted a lobotomy and failed as a hole in my head allowed either them to sneak in or some part about me sneak out. This is the beginning of my downfall.
I spent the rest of my day playing with myself in my head as I never knew when my roommate would come home. All the while I drew. Spirals and circles and blobs of annoying nothing. I really can’t multitask. It pains me and can even be dangerous. I can’t look at directions while driving, I have to memorize them beforehand.
But in my thoughts this person kept slipping in, never moving or talking.
It was the photo slipping in, not the person. It was a fully static square with everything inside it. Presenting itself as a watcher of all my scenes. The estranged director who got fired halfway through production and I had to step in and fill their impressive shoes. And although disgraced by the media, they birthed this show as God did man, so everyone here knows they’re the phantom idol, the pre-fallen Lucifer.
Is this my desire? To not be loved or be understood, or be the perpetrator of those two? but to be watched, unjudged, watching unjudging. I stare at the photo in my mind’s eye, and the person now looks to me. The image moves, They go across the street and start talking to a person passing by, walking their dog. The camera follows their day, and now and then they look to it, making sure I’m still watching. I wonder what my static form is.
After making dinner and rigging jeopardy (this is my job, how I make money) I went back to Instagram to try to catch the photo again. It took some time but I found it and went to the profile of the person, which gave me little in terms of satisfaction. I watched their story, skipping to find the photo, the original, with none of that added text. 3 taps in it fills up my world and I’m struck back.
I called the phone store to get a new phone. I carefully screenshot this image, love it some more, and then I frame my phone, with a little hole for the charger to pass through to keep the photo going forever. It’s on my wall now and it makes my mouth water not from desire but more in the way of when you’re nauseous and your spit pools under your tongue, sliding down your throat. The door rings, it’s my new phone.
As I put my shoes on to go grab it, I hear some extra noise coming from the front of the house. I go downstairs and look through the window and see my phone guy, khakis and little hat and whatnot, leading a line on my doorstep of a cameraman following. Not so sure what that is. I slick my hair to the side and wipe my teeth on my shirt. The door opens and now I can only think about what they see. What the families at home will see.
The light of the camera takes this guy by surprise. Biscuit turns back to us with a smile and says “time to make his day.” He’s shorter than this person inside the house who has a confusing hair slick. We push our way past the guy and make our way into the kitchen which isn’t too messy. Biscuit takes the nice new phone from his pocket and places it in between two slices of bread, wonder. Zoom in on everything, somehow. Including our home owner’s face which looks funny and pissed. Biscuit takes a bite, wholeheartedly, a real bite. He cracks the phone screen or his tooth, it’s a small but completely unsatisfying sound. Make note to mic him closer to the mouth next time. He brings his shaking jaw back and mutters the words “mmm..tasty!” Turning to our host, the camera pans with him, and Biscuit says, “want a bite?”
I’m looking around the room for more cameras than the obvious fat one in my face. I have to be in some set in my home, some bugged version of it. These men don’t look like they’re even really from TV, or a phone store, or anything. They look like they’re plucked off some grim college campus, where this is the only kind of fun they can muster up in their smaller brains and towns. There is something inside my head that wants me to go along with all this. But that’s my phone, which I need to look at the frame photo when I’m not at home.
“What the fuck are you doing?” It escapes my mouth in a really nervous way. I didn’t think about how freaked out I am by intruders. This little guy’s mouth is still shaking and his eyes are locked on my head. The camera guy is nothing more than his camera. The camera follows my question to Biscuit, who has a name tag, as his shaking mouth fades to a closed frown. In a baby voice he looks at the camera and says “I’m so tired.” And makes an even comically sadder face that’s being squeezed by his palms, home alone style. He looks over to me through the side of his eye, seeking my approval, as he descends to the rug and lies on his side. The camera lies too. Not even the camera exists now, it’s just an extension of Biscuit.
As smiling is contagious, so is napping, and I fall to the floor too, and have a dream about my time at Uni. I remember this one lecture, my first day of my last year. I had gone to a wrong class, and only realized it as the professor began to speak his first words.
“As we are human, we are met with ritual. We are met with the belief of the anti human form, and its journey to destroy us. We are given vices and solutions. But who delivers these to us? They’re not from God, as he is just one of those aforementioned, forgive me. So from where does our universal ‘ayudar’ come from? To answer that is a death wish, you will spend your whole life in search. And no. The answer is not the self, or society, or evolution. Don’t be so slow. Understand that some rituals are beyond the comprehension of you or I, especially through words.”
I wake up exhausted and unable to move. Biscuit and cameraman are gone from the rug, and so is the rug itself. I’m in an unfamiliar room. It’s dank and lit with two.. Stage lights? They are in the corners opposite of mine. The walls look like thick plaster but the floor is hard and gray. There are a few chairs facing me. No one is sitting there though. My hands are tied painfully behind my back.
Biscuit walks into the room with the camera closely following. He’s wearing an all black adidas tracksuit now, he wants to be a post Soviet gangster. He walks up to me and squats down to my level. I swear this cameraman is perfect at his job, wow. Biscuit looks into my eyes and the bright lights around him make it both impossible to avert his gaze and focus on it.
“To tell you the truth, Slick, I was with the phone company at first.”
He gets up, turns around, but only as a fake out, pivoting back on his right and swinging his left sneaker a little higher on my chest than I’d imagine he intended. I hear some sort of crack and air fills my lungs but I can’t feel any pain at this moment. I gasp and I can hear the camera zooming in on my mouth.
It’s a fisheye lens now, Biscuit’s head looks even more bulbous. Biscuit continues what he was saying, as the camera gets him and Slick from the side.
“That was some odd years ago. I’d do the phone deliveries, and I had no problem with it. Really. It was mainly contactless. But something happened Slick. It was one of those changes that occurs overtime, but you only just notice it at once, and it hits you like a bat. Everyone had left my side. My mind began to pool with gutter water. That’s how I like to put it, gutter water. I could only think of things in terms of drowning. How could I get the most breath, the most life, before I fall under the waves.” Biscuit takes out a little knife from his pocket, the blade can’t be more than an inch. He wipes it dull side across my brow, which still should hurt, but again I feel nothing.
“I quit my job without telling anyone, including the company. I still deliver these phones, just on my own terms.”
“So I am going to get my phone?”
Biscuit takes the knife and plunges it into my temple. I feel the cold air in this basement like room now, it tightens around me. My eyes water up with a dark fluid as my vision begins to blur. What follows can’t be told from my depleting words, so switch to cameraman again.
Oh man. This is always the hardest part, and Biscuit gives no warning. I follow his hand a little late to this poor guy’s head. “On contact, filming becomes secondary” is what Biscuit said after I messed up the first time. I am trained now, I am better now. I drop the camera and pull out the tube of caulk from my pocket, pressing it an inch away from the blade still in the temple.
This guy seems gone now, with his lips blue. A little bit of spit works its way from his mouth to the cold concrete ground. Biscuit looks at me and not the camera for the first time of the night. It still makes me anxious, to lock into his eyes.
He slowly slips the knife out, as I press my tube against the blade, ready to fill the hole it created. Before even a lick of blood dribbles, my tube is inside. I squeeze a liberal amount of thickness, knowing there is not really a “too much”. The man’s lips regain some color, and his eyes roll forward just a little, so that he’s looking up at the wall, not the ceiling, because he’s on his side, remember? Biscuit is pacing his small circle all the while. I’ve always wondered why he doesn’t pick up the camera to get this part on tape. What did Biscuit call him, Slink? That’s a good one. Maybe I’ll name my next pet snake. Slink.
And now my brain is mushed inside. Take it… take it.
The camera is back on him now, zoomed in on face, which is more plush, holding perpetual nausea, and his body rolls side to side. Biscuit bends back down and pokes his nose.
Slick lets out a grunt, but it’s so soft, almost childlike. An odd choice here- the camera fakes a fade to black but stops itself halfway through. A callback to Biscuits kick.
Biscuit turns back to us,
“I wish you caught the fill. I just really can’t show that kinda stuff on camera. It’s grotesque past nature. I can give you a phallic comparison but your mind is already there.”
He looks seductive.
The body of Slick starts to prop himself up. His movements are clunky and imprecise. His head rolls one wall to the next and settles in the vertex between them. His lips puss open.
“Can I ask you one question?”
The camera and Biscuit look at him.
“Sure thing, Slick! What is it pal?”
“Will you give me clean cloth when you done here? I’m sweaty.”
Biscuit walks over to Slick and kicks him in the head with his boot. It sweeps through his jaw and there’s a freeze frame. On this still where Slick’s mouth looks like it could almost swallow his nose. It cuts to Slick on the floor, bleeding violently from the face, and he’s even coughing something up. The pool around him is pink, a mixture of caulk and blood.
The camera backs up to show Biscuit breathing heavily with his fists locked, looking over Slick’s body.
I am not dead yet. There is something inside me, everfleeting, atune to a squeak. Translatable by genius touch. Biscuit is saying something to the camera, pointing back at me now and then. But I just hear a long tone, that gets deeper, and deeper, and deeper.
When I was younger I used to fantasize about being placed in a room, white all around, where I had all the contact cut from the world and distraction. And by my own will I’d be forced to get fit and consume and create vast amounts of media. Finding friend and foe in my head and crafting beautiful fictions. I thought of isolation as the opposite of a curse. It was a gift from our ancestors in the past, when it was all they had, and it is what queens will value in the future.
What I never took into account was the inherent safety I’d apply to these situations. The caulk, good riddance, was purely remote. But I looked at Biscuit and although unknowing and uncaring about him I didn’t have freedom. I desperately needed to focus, which required me to connect to something, but I couldn’t. I had this ability to move, even with my arms tied, but everything around was nothing to grab.
Biscuit is coming over now. I don’t need a last word, or anything at all, I am just tired, so I will try to die.
The camera is wide, as Biscuit, after revealing his plan to the camera, to take Slick on a boat, walks over to his body. He pokes Slick with his foot and then kicks him again. The corpse elicits no response. Biscuit looks back to us and rolls his eyes. He takes a breath and says, with a crowd chanting the words in the background, “Lets Caulk Him Up!!” The words even appear on the screen. The camera smiles. Biscuit grabs the caulk and plugs the hole which is a little harder to find now. He squirts hard and sees Slick’s face fill up, but only a little, as pink starts to foam out of Slick’s mouth.
Biscuit looks defeated and stunned. His head turns slowly to the side, like he’s admiring the beauty of Slick’s mangle. Like it’ll make up for killing him, to show he knows he was a person. You can imagine Biscuit putting two fingers to Slick’s lips, wherever they are, and going, “Shhhhhh… It’s all over now.”
He gets up and puts a hand to the camera, to end the shot, but his other hand whacks it away. He’s not usually split down the middle like this. He walks away from the body to the stairs, which were out of view from Slick’s perspective. They lead up to above ground, and you can see through the panes in the door that it’s a beautiful day outside. A pure and rich blue. Biscuit turns back to the camera and smiles.
“Let’s take him outside.”
He rushes the body, tugging Slick’s left leg, dragging him, as he leaves a snail trail of pink and red. The camera gets close and steady. It does a long pan, as the body moves across the floor, maintaining the closeness, the intimacy. But the body stops moving, and the camera has a mind of its own, and pans to Biscuits hands dragging, and then his feet, and then another pair of feet, facing him.
The camera shakes and zooms out. It’s a person, about 5’9, with a chiseled frame. They have a beard, and long beautiful hair, that’s tied up in pigtails. They’re smoking a cigarette that clouds their glasses and eyes, making their presence ghostly. They have their hand on top of Biscuit’s head, squeezing it. Their other hand is making the shape of a gun, with the two finger barrel, two finger handle. The gun is pressed against Biscuit’s neck. Biscuit remains completely still.
“Please don’t kill me..”
The camera man tries to yell that it’s not a real gun, that it’s just the person’s fingers, that it will be okay, that he can just kill this person, and he’ll film it, and then after they can edit the footage in Biscuit’s house, and Biscuit will lean into me and kiss me, and we can go to bed after that, and he’ll ask me to move in, etc.
But I can’t yell at all, I’m just a camera. And The Person Shoots Biscuit. And Biscuit’s Head Explodes With Blood, Like It’s Shot With A Deagle. Then the person aims it at me, and the camera sees a flash of light.