14 Clean Shots Chapter 1 - Things Were Getting Strange in Zane's Kitchen Life

One of the strangest things in the world is washing a floppy carrot, Zane thought to himself as he scrubbed an overly-ripe carrot with his stiff-bristled dish-scrubbing brush. It made him think of washing his own penis with a stiff-bristled brush, which made him squirm, his stomach subtly buzzing with the anticipation of genital pain. Bloody awful thing to think about Zane… he said this in his head with a not-so-unconvincing British accent. Standing awkwardly now to protect his penis from any incidental contact with the stiff-bristled brush, he thought “things are getting strange in my Kitchen-life.”

Things were getting strange in Zane’s Kitchen-life. He had just moved into a new apartment with a strange little kitchen. It was a triangular kitchen, approximately equilateral. The oven sat directly across from the refrigerator, which sat directly across from the sink and cabinet drawers. The oven and refrigerator faced each other at an angle and formed a de facto entrance to the tiny Kitchen-space. They were spaced apart at such a distance that both could not be open at the same time. In fact, a mildly obese person couldn’t even fit between them in order to access the Kitchen-life. Zane couldn’t figure out if that was somehow ironic, simply inconvenient, or just a clever weight-loss scheme.

The oven also blocked half of the cabinet doors, which lay along the other wall, and the cabinet drawers that were not blocked completely by the oven could not be open if either the oven door or the refrigerator door were open. So never two out of three. Zane thought tempestuously about getting rid of the damn oven, but that would mean getting a microwave, which was surely worse than dealing with the physical restraints of his kitchen arrangement. Zane held course and grew to enjoy the quirkiness.

He figured that having a microwave would cause him to gain weight at a faster rate and higher frequency, and after a few months he wouldn’t even be able to fit into his own kitchen. But if there was no oven… Zane felt the beginning of a Loop starting. He shut off his brain for a second… much better… he relaxed and looked around the place with more tender eyes. It was such a cool old apartment building, and such a strange little apartment. He was happy that he was lucky to have it.

As a congratulatory token for moving into a new place, his mother had purchased him an apparently expensive blender. Zane had never used a blender before, let alone ever owned one. Now it was the most expensive item in his possession. He suddenly wished he was a hardcore margarita drinker. He put on a Jimmy Buffet record, took a sharp drag of marijuana through a makeshift soda can pipe, and considered the possible fallout of becoming a hardcore margarita junkie. Wouldn’t be so bad, would it?...

Zane made a list of pros and cons. He was surprised to see that the cons side was overwhelmingly short, yet potent. There were only two cons: 1) Have to buy a bunch of those obnoxious, wide-mouthed, thin-stemmed glasses; and 2) Losing mind due to severe, tequila-induced alcoholism. The ‘pros’ side had over ten items, but nowhere near the significance, even cumulatively, of the ‘cons’ side. He then contemplated the effectiveness of ‘pros-and-cons’ lists for a minute, took another toke. He suddenly wished he had a pencil-thin mustache…

He flipped to the next page of his notepad and began making another list, this time about the pros and cons of ‘pros-and-cons’ lists. Again, a similar result. Larger quantity of pros, but less significance than the short list of cons, which again only had two items: 1) Ability to swiftly negate any positive aspects of my thoughts; and 2) Con-Air (the movie).

“Goddammit! What’s the point of these lists??” Zane was miffed.

He took a large chug of water, too large, spilling portions out the sides of his mouth and all over the lists he had just made. He looked down angrily, and then glared at his water bottle. He was fairly certain that he had spilled water every single time he had taken a drink from this particular water bottle, which boasted an openings nearly as large as the bottle itself, the arc of the circumference of the opening carrying well past the sides of his mouth, so that unless a great deal of care was taken, which it rarely was, then some water would always rush past the corners of his mouth following some version of Bernoulli’s Law. Nice design, folks... Another non-functioning piece of junk that I have to deal with…

Zane screwed the lid back on his water bottle and crumpled up his ink-bled lists, which now looked like they had been following the Grateful Dead for several years. He rolled the lists around in his hands until they were adequately firm and round so as not to adversely affect the flight of the paper as it hurdled through the air to its temporary resting place. Zane couldn’t stand missing the waste-basket. He turned towards it and squared his shoulders… should be an easy one… just a free-throw… deep breath… bend knees… no sweat… no pressure… you’re a cold-blooded killer… there’s ice in your veins, Zane… that’s what they call you: Ice-vein Zane…

He confidently tossed the crumpled lists from a distance of twenty-two inches and waited for the crowd to start cheering. He left his shooting hand in the air, showing off his picture-perfect follow-through, and was already walking towards his strange little kitchen to refill his water bottle when he heard the sound of the paper hitting the top edge of the waste-basket rim. It caromed off and fell to the floor, bouncing meekly once before settling into the outskirts of the room in some sort of tacit agreement with gravity. He was no Larry Bird.

Zane left his lists where they lay on the floor as he recalled all the times in his life that he had missed his target while throwing crumpled pieces of paper from short distances, and he recalled all the jokes about him being a basketball player…

Nobody ever called him “Ice-vein Zane.”

It must have to do with weight. Weight is such a funny thing, not a measurement of mass, but a measurement of the force of gravity upon an object, so it’s not a constant… it is subjective, subject to the influence of gravity… Zane, with finger placed on chin, now moving up to scratch his brow in a less than pleasant motion, now squeezing the temples…

… Then, it must be that the Weight of variables, the value of the items on the list… cannot be absolutes, cannot be constants… the value of the columns is the sum of the value of the individual items, the variables, weighted variables! And the iterations… there must be some kind of way to assign values to these items, but how can it be objective if the list is subjective and referenced to my own perspective or further still to my physiological being…

Zane began to see narrow lines forming a grid, a neon light grid against a black background, neon symbols forming like kaleidoscopic flowers, tiny explosions of color turning to mathematical symbols, Greek letters, geometric shapes, all flying around in the space of his head-grid on the black background… black background… blackground… blackspace… backspace… space-grid… head-space… I am so high… he thought as an uncontrollable, tight-lipped smile pushed across his face.

So what? These lists may not function, but they are still fun to make, probably more fun than drinking ten margaritas even. God a margarita sounds good right now though! Jimmy Buffet had some pretty good ideas… Zane thought about all the incredible sailboats that he’d seen in his life, long and glorious like an enormous weapon, a great blade tempered to cut through stubborn waves and terrible mind-fuck storms, but waves could still tear apart the best of them. He thought about sitting on top of a capsized Cal 34 with Jimmy Buffet, pissed at him for getting so drunk and hitting that sandbar, mast splayed out to port, the sails sadly afloat, half underwater, water gently lapping at the transom as they waited for the gulls to pick out their eyes. Zane would, of course, forgive Jimmy after he somehow miraculously came up with two perfect margaritas and Zane knew that someday he would be in a Jimmy Buffet song…

Zane never unpacked the blender from its box. Instead, he painted it. He painted it solid black first, then used masking tape to make a grid of narrow latitudinal lines all along its sides, and then painted the spaces with glowing neon colors. It made an excellent corner table.

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Jeffry Harrison
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