|On the TV screen: TEETH in a mahoganied mask watching a camera watching him, and you could see easily this man he’d been a pretty boy, pretty boy, poly-wanna-fuckin-cracker boy, now older, distinguished, so completely IS—that is, perfect—that as the brown-red of his lips parts the pearly white gates of Heaven could almost be said to to’ve been revealed—if only it wasn’t for the color. With hair like the silver cords of hundreds of souls flash-frozen in goose-step on the astral plane, and eyes, aquamarine, that glint edaciously, he IS watching you watching you.
“Hello there,” he says, “and welcome to the GREAT SOUL SUCK TASTE TEST! We’re asking people all over this great God-fearin’ land of ours which soul is the best—which has the best flavor, the most depth, the richest bouquet, the fullest body. And we want you viewers out there to know as well. All YOU gotta do is step up here, give a little suck, and let us know which soul you find most satisfyin, reassurin, rectifyin.”
The cameraman, a fissureman by trade, plucks another man from the mall shopper’s dream. TEETH steps up to the freshest catch and offers his hand.
“You, sir. Yes, you, sir. You look like a fine American lad, sir. Do the right thing and step right up here, son. Sit down, son. Make yourself comfortable, son.”
He sits in a black wooden chair. On his left, there’s a large table covered by a red cloth. Five round shapes bulge from under the covering.
“What’cha doing out of the hot summer sun, son?” TEETH asks.
“I don’t know. Buying stuff.”
In the absence of purpose TEETH’s smile broadens. “Well, how ‘bout a nice, refreshing drink, son, to help keep you on your feet?”
SILVERish PHALLUS FLASHith THUNDEROUS CG AND GENERIC LIGHTNING GLINT ALONG THE LIPS but he can see none of it, our son, the boy.
TEETH continues: “Today, son, you don’t have to worry about money because we’re giving these things away free! Yes, you heard me right [cue victory music]. Son, this is one hundred percent free. By capitalizing on a little-known loophole in the American Dream, we’re able to give this refreshment away free of charge. All you have to do is try it and give us you opinion. Just do it. Whadda say?”
Pray to me, prey.
TEETH puts his arm around a the boy’s shoulder and what was one seen changes: camera focuses in on this and same scene: Camaraderie. The red cloth is pulled away.
A table lined with heads full of eyes looking around looking, but heads locked in place by clear vices. Eyes swivel, looking to escape or not. Five heads in all—black, white, yellow, brown, red—the primary colors of a mass-produced racial consciousness. Each head on a silver plate (luxury) on checkered table cloth (down-home goodness), but each obviously attached to a living body somewhere below the table. How could they live otherwise?
Our boy stands behind these heads so he cannot see their eyes. Our boy looks down on these heads, our boy, marbleized, a statue in the rapture of thought. TEETH stands in the foreground smiling at the camera, at us, at himself.
“You know how they say some are born leaders and some are born followers? Well, I’m here to tell you it ain’t true.” He turns and walks over to our boy. TEETH removes a white-tipped pointer from off camera and uses it to point at the top of our boy’s head.
“You know that soft spot babies are born with on the top of their head? the one that’s supposed to go away as the bones of our skull harden and grow together? We at Soul Suck long ago introduced a special chemical into name brand baby shampoos. This chemical kept this joint of bone soft, a chemical we call THE GENERATION OF NEED™.”
TEETH walks up to our boy and puts something in his hand.
Camera close-up: SILVERish PHALLUS FLASHith
“Our titanium-tipped Suck Straw™ is just perfect for piercing that little bit of bone and sucking at the goodness within. Stain and dent resistant, washes easily in warm water. You’ll never need another Suck Straw.”
Our boy breaks from his reverie. As if on cue. “But won’t that kill them?” he asks, nodding towards the heads.
“It’s complicated, and you don’t need to worry about it, son. With just a little training and practice, you’ll be well on you r way to worry-free sucking in no time. We have years of experience in the soul-sucking field. Many have tried our programs and had their lives richly enhanced. In our training program, you learn how to handle the Straw, how to insert it, and how to twist it to get the taste just right. All we ask in return is for you to give us your opinion.”
TEETH holds the Suck Straw in the palm of his soft, tan hand. Camera zooms in. The Straw gleams in the mall and camera lights; a crucifix on a satin pillow couldn’t’ve gleamed brighter.
Our boy thinks it over. Or appears to. What’s the difference, anyway?
Our boy snatches the Suck Straw out of TEETH’s hand, face rapt with expectation, and plunges it into the nearest skull. A faint pop. The head’s eyes roll back until just the whites are visible, then look forward again for always. Cue heavenly harp music, ecstasy’s wave form to dance across the cerebellum. It was quick; maybe too quick.
We could suspect artifice.
TEETH is seen to wipe away a tear.
“Ahhhhhhh,” our boy sighs with satisfaction. “That was really good!”
TEETH puts his arm around the boy’s shoulders again. “You don’t need to tell us that.” He grins ever wider.
“I don’t? I thought this was a taste test?”
“In a way. In a way. But, you see, you’ve already given us your opinion.”
“I did? When?”
“Once you stuck the Straw in, boy.”
TEETH turns to the camera. “Get this man a suit and tie and get him on his way!”
Our boy is led away, a question, unanswered, forming on his lips. Remember him this way.
Another shopper is plucked from the stream. It’s true: You can’t eat just one.
“You sir. Yes, you,” TEETH says, microphone in hand, stepping towards another young man. “You look like a fine American lad. Do the right thing and step right up here, son. Good. That’s good. What’s your name, son?”
“ . . . “ Mouth opens. Cut off.
“Ah, who am I kidding? You don’t need to tell us your name,” TEETH says, lowering the microphone without any noticeable drop-off in volume or sound quality.
The new boy looks confused. “I don’t?” he says.
“No. Just step on over here and take part in our SOUL SUCK taste test.”
Hunger, impatience, the desire to bring explanation to an end—TEETH’s face is a clear screen to all these emotions. Perhaps he’s been saying these lines for too long, or perhaps he just doesn’t buy into all of it—there are a million million possibilities, and all we can be sure of, you and I, is that what TEETH’s face is showing now is all SMILES.
TEETH is fun. TV is fun. It is educational. Just don’t forget it is a mirror. And it is never the same.
TEETH guides the new boy over to the row of waiting heads, none of which have moved, though the sampled one has been replaced, for reasons of hygiene, common decency, and an opening in the job market.
“What is a Soul Suck taste test?” our boy asks.
TEETH tells him.
“Are you guys insane, or what? I mean, that’s just fucking sick, man.”
“Nothing sick about this, son,” TEETH replies calmly. “You might wanna try it before you pass judgement, son.”
“No, I don’t think so. Thanks anyway.”
“You don’t want to take part in the SOUL SUCK taste test? You might as well.”
“Are ya deaf?” the boy says and turns to leave.
It happened faster than imagination faster even than the camera can follow: somewhere, somewhen, TEETH plunged the SUCK STRAW into this boy’s, our boy’s, head. The camera freezes on TEETH as his cheeks depress and expand rhythmic, hypnotic. Only when the new boy’s eyes have roll back does that rhythm cease and TEETH remove the straw.
He smacks his lips in satisfaction and eyes the camera, you—whatever.
“You can suck or be sucked,” he says. “The choice is up to you.
“Just do it.”