The Works of Zak Block

Zak Block's fictions have appeared in Quail Bell Magazine, Paper Darts, Gadfly Online, and Defenestration, among others. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of (the) Squawk Back, an online literary journal of transgression and alienation, baptized by fire in May of 2011.

All Fiction © Zak Block

I'm Sick and I'm Dying


I was waiting for the bus: I had just missed the bus, but there was man in a parked car in the bus lane—yet I saw no connection at the time;—the car, an SUV, or something other than that, but only upon further inspection would I remark that, in no conventional sense was it parked. Though it stood in the bus lane, this was obvious; yet, it appeared to me, its front wheels were turned out, or whatever you might call that; that was to say, turned toward the street, as though to pull away,—and even further inspection, as my minutes of waiting unfolded, showed it to lay at an angle oblique somewhat in relation to the sidewalk. I thought nothing of this at the time as I yet did not see the connection...


(...when speaking of connections there's the implication of a continuity of events; while this was more a continuum of themes, expressed as events, or expressed in the reverberations of events—this was even more tricky. So I think about this, that now I'm sitting back of the bus, because this part of the bus smells of raw feces...


...though I should have, must have, known this would happen;—not the event, that was, if the smell were indicative of some, or another, event (or continuity of events) but the theme, in a continuum of themes,—after boarding the bus, retreating to the back, I remarked there was a fat indigent-seeming man standing in the aisle talking to an MTA employee about to clock out for the day (what appeared to be one about to do so) and I must ask him: “Excuse me,” could I pass him to get to the back of the bus where, it appeared, the long row seats, if that's what they were called, were empty, and after a pause and confusion he permitted me without looking at me to pass, but as I passed him I remarked his smell of hot raw feces, though he wasn't, couldn't truly have been, an indigent, but only what appeared to be a man on a bus chatting with a bus employee, perhaps himself a bus employee; and as I made my way to the empty seats I found them, too, redolent of hot raw feces, albeit that the expanse of seats before, where there sat in a line several hoary gray eastern-European women all with enormous cancers and beards, was not.


So it was that I sat there, with the odorous feces, watching the conversing men, of whom one was standing, he who also bore the odor; watched him as he dropped his folder,—some folder,—onto, around, the lap of a nearby sitting woman, a hoary gray Asian woman with enormous swollen thyroid glands and whiskers. Requiring as he did a relative eternity to retrieve the folder, folders, and their contents, he touched her several times; but she must have, without betraying it, it seemed, become aware of the odor of feces; for, at one point, he endeavored to reach, with his foot, for a document, if it were, that had slipped out of the folder and under her seat, and she watched as he did this and I watched the both of them...)


But back at the bus stop: waiting for the bus I had just missed; and I had seen the man in the parked car, and only then had it occurred to me, there was a man in the parked car, who saw me looking at and seeing him and help up hands: “What the hell?!” he seemed to express, soundlessly, “Why are you looking at me? What do you want from me?” He was white, heavyset: so I shrugged for an answer no it wasn't worth it to attempt to explain what had happened and leave it at that.


He wore glasses, more severely than I, but we looked nothing alike. More time passed and he remained in the bus lane; times I glanced in his direction to further remark his incidence and the lateness of the bus—or was it—but never wondering what it, that incidence, meant. Then a second time he looked at me, and shrugged, though that time with less vehemence, but vehemence. Another eternity passed when I saw him adjusting himself in his seat.


I looked again, now he was wearing less clothing; looked in the opposite direction to see the bus I had missed, I imagined, invisibly slowly getting away, and when I turned back I glanced at the man and looked away, back in the opposite direction, and then he began revving his engine. He continued to rev it, without moving, that car, a consistent growl: grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr; I looked away, I looked back and he was removing his penis, and as he removed his penis he revved the engine: grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, the car still lay in the bus lane so I decided to move away, to the opposite side of the corner where I could still wait for the bus. From my new vantage I looked again and he was handling his long, long penis as though to put it away, though it was still out, and he moved his lips, and now when he spoke, somehow I did hear him: his voice as a tiny echoing growl in the reverberant stem of my skull: an abrasive electric buzzing, as it said:


You want to get in my car, don't you Josh...” Josh? “But my name is Zak”—I couldn't answer him, or could I?—He spoke again, into my skull:


”Come into the car Josh and show me your penis and I'll show you mine how it's longer than yours and you'll see it and start crying and I'll laugh and you'll know and it'll get hard and get longer and longer and I'll show you how much stronger I am better at math how much higher were my college boards how much taller I am than you handsomer stronger earning a higher income a life of leisure in comfortable soft recumbencies in luxury condominiums beautiful girls without an ounce of fat on their bodies state of the art electronics and how I have better genes how I'm whiter than you purer than you better bred pedigreed blood of a superior inheritance stronger bigger faster brain better hair better skin body more muscular leaner harder better proportioned greater stamina endurance physically more fit a cleaner bill of health clearer skin and better and better and you'll cry and cry and cry your heart out and I'll laugh to it as I jack my long wet penis and laugh and beat you until you bleed out of your ears and cry and cry and cry and I'll knock your fucking teeth out and break your glasses and then I'll fuck your skull, fuck you to death...”


And he revved the engine once more, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, this time louder, the bus approached. I could speak to him, I knew, I could speak to myself so he would hear, I said, cried:


“No! Please sir, leave me be, leave me be. I'm not interested in anything like that and I don't know why you think I would be. My name isn't Josh, it's Zak. I don't know how this began, I was simply remarking your presence in the bus lane; I thought it was unusual. You seem like a perfectly reasonable person and I meant no ill will. I just want this to end. I want it to go away. I can't listen to it anymore. I can't be in this place. I'm sick of everything in it! I'm sick and I'm dying!”

Now the bus pulled up: I must board, I thought. But he remained in the lane. And when I went to board the bus he mowed me down.