Transit Authority

He cracked open the bud tallboy. He spit onto the tracks. His train was coming. He had a story. He had no ticket. There was no telling how far he could go. On board was a conductor, an artist. The conductor could paint a picture using his ticket punch as a brush - a ticket to Grand Central his canvas. He illustrated colorful stories for free.
 
Lichtenberg figures, arborescent in appearance, covered his skin. A pin oak in winter on his back, burnt capillaries, maple and birch, branch-like patterns down his arms and legs. The big toe on his left foot marked with a bullet-like exit wound.
 
He swilled some beer, wiped his mouth on his sleeve. The platform was becoming insufferable.  Electricity, his mortal enemy, was wildly present - humming and buzzing incessantly. He had been wronged by electricity.
 
He took a long pull on the beer in his hand, the paper bag already wrinkled and wet with spillage.
 
Where was that fucking train? Eleven thousand volts coursing through overhead wires. There was a grounding strap on the frame of an advertisement to his left. A Broadway show featuring dancing sailors. Fragments of everything he used to know. Talk about a boy, talk about a girl. It was sixty- five degrees. He was wearing a down jacket.
 
He had been subjected to experiments involving something called the TL 50 Brainwave Stimulator. A lightning strike to the temple. The idea behind the device was to evoke some type of parallel consciousness. It was rumored that one of the subjects had exited the trials as a concert pianist, though he had never before played a note. He, on the other hand, emerged as a conductor - an artist.
 
Following the application of the voltage, he had found himself possessed with the ability to hear color - the sound of color. Painting became obsession. In his painting the colors spoke. Rods and cones processing as they had in childhood, saturation and hue, volume and pitch, major and minor color. His masterpiece - surrealist painting with sound. He painted as heard in his mind. It was  automatic. Vermeerian technique, Channeling Magritte and Dali.
 
The platform was humming harder.  Another lukewarm tallboy was drawn from a greasy bag. He was a little unsteady. His ankle didn't hinge as it once had before.
 
A screaming ruin on the horizon.  A bone-littered landscape.  Celebrated female form - auburn delta and stone-like skin.  He heard the click of a distant switch somewhere down the line. Sound.
 
In his apartment, he had pushed the furniture aside and stretched a huge canvas. He mixed pigment as a chemist with a piano tuner's ear. Familiar specter drew him in - the colors speaking in tongues. Without resistance, he could step inside the canvas, and have a look around. Carrying palette and brushes, he did as he was told. Each foray a little deeper - surpassing the depths of his own perception.
 
Two years on the easel. When finished, there was nothing to do but show it. All the people he used to know were gone. There was no gallery show forthcoming. He had a painting. He had no patrons.
 
In a moment of weakness, he invited the girl from the coffee shop to view the painting. The girl with the blue eyes filled with shards of broken glass, the girl with brown eyes and beautiful smile. She came over expecting a make-out session at best, a rape at worst. He didn't come across as a murderer.
 
She sits in front of the painting, views beautiful woman as herself, realistically rendered at first glance. Whispering music beckons. Leaning forward as one might listen for final words, she falls.
 
Bruises appear in daylight. His cappuccino is free. Apologizing for the previous evening's performance, she requests another look at the painting. She leaves with some bruises, trace of color. Adherent coating on her shoes, a low moaning reminder to return. A paint chip flake of a stone absentmindedly slipped into her pocket, a whispering souvenir.
 
On the platform everything was beginning to glow. Future passengers on the Eastbound side wore screaming burning auras. He wanted nothing more than to step on to the last car of that train and ride in relative silence. He had sixty-five dollars tucked into his sock and half a pint of warm beer. He spit onto the tracks. It would have been easier to knock a needle from a man's hand than to keep her away from the painting.
 
He watches her sitting before the painting - lovely young woman, cute little shape. She approaches a Spanish galleon, a dry-land shipwreck in full sail. The splintered hull spilling a cargo of watch parts onto the ground. She climbs aboard the listing vessel and is immediately tied to the mast by a thin figure made of smoke. A green apple in a cage sings a soulful, core-felt song just for her.
 
She leaves the apartment with rope burns on her wrists - apologizes for staying so long, though she has barely stayed a minute. The other lovely baristas eye him warily as she speaks of wonders and treasures, earth tones and roundness, long shadows with no discernible sun. Her quest was to reach the clear running stream that she could see in the distance - the stream's prismatic surface refracting color and sound. She was unfazed that objects and landscape features often got smaller as she approached.
 
She would reach the stream.
 
Emergency services would find her lungs filled with water. A victim of drowning - sitting before the painting.
 
Timeline skewed and foreshortened, a dot viewed from the end. He stepped forward then back, before teetering headlong onto the track. His train was coming.
 
 

TRAIN DELAY

police report states

unidentified man lost

sixty-five dollars.

 
 
© Jon Montgomery 2017

He cracked open the bud tallboy. He spit onto the tracks. His train was coming. He had a story. He had no ticket. There was no telling how far he could go. On board was a conductor, an artist. The conductor could paint a picture using his ticket punch as a brush - a ticket to Grand Central his canvas. He illustrated colorful stories for free.
 
Lichtenberg figures, arborescent in appearance, covered his skin. A pin oak in winter on his back, burnt capillaries, maple and birch, branch-like patterns down his arms and legs. The big toe on his left foot marked with a bullet-like exit wound.
 
He swilled some beer, wiped his mouth on his sleeve. The platform was becoming insufferable.  Electricity, his mortal enemy, was wildly present - humming and buzzing incessantly. He had been wronged by electricity.
 
He took a long pull on the beer in his hand, the paper bag already wrinkled and wet with spillage.
 
Where was that fucking train? Eleven thousand volts coursing through overhead wires. There was a grounding strap on the frame of an advertisement to his left. A Broadway show featuring dancing sailors. Fragments of everything he used to know. Talk about a boy, talk about a girl. It was sixty- five degrees. He was wearing a down jacket.
 
He had been subjected to experiments involving something called the TL 50 Brainwave Stimulator. A lightning strike to the temple. The idea behind the device was to evoke some type of parallel consciousness. It was rumored that one of the subjects had exited the trials as a concert pianist, though he had never before played a note. He, on the other hand, emerged as a conductor - an artist.
 
Following the application of the voltage, he had found himself possessed with the ability to hear color - the sound of color. Painting became obsession. In his painting the colors spoke. Rods and cones processing as they had in childhood, saturation and hue, volume and pitch, major and minor color. His masterpiece - surrealist painting with sound. He painted as heard in his mind. It was  automatic. Vermeerian technique, Channeling Magritte and Dali.
 
The platform was humming harder.  Another lukewarm tallboy was drawn from a greasy bag. He was a little unsteady. His ankle didn't hinge as it once had before.
 
A screaming ruin on the horizon.  A bone-littered landscape.  Celebrated female form - auburn delta and stone-like skin.  He heard the click of a distant switch somewhere down the line. Sound.
 
In his apartment, he had pushed the furniture aside and stretched a huge canvas. He mixed pigment as a chemist with a piano tuner's ear. Familiar specter drew him in - the colors speaking in tongues. Without resistance, he could step inside the canvas, and have a look around. Carrying palette and brushes, he did as he was told. Each foray a little deeper - surpassing the depths of his own perception.
 
Two years on the easel. When finished, there was nothing to do but show it. All the people he used to know were gone. There was no gallery show forthcoming. He had a painting. He had no patrons.
 
In a moment of weakness, he invited the girl from the coffee shop to view the painting. The girl with the blue eyes filled with shards of broken glass, the girl with brown eyes and beautiful smile. She came over expecting a make-out session at best, a rape at worst. He didn't come across as a murderer.
 
She sits in front of the painting, views beautiful woman as herself, realistically rendered at first glance. Whispering music beckons. Leaning forward as one might listen for final words, she falls.
 
Bruises appear in daylight. His cappuccino is free. Apologizing for the previous evening's performance, she requests another look at the painting. She leaves with some bruises, trace of color. Adherent coating on her shoes, a low moaning reminder to return. A paint chip flake of a stone absentmindedly slipped into her pocket, a whispering souvenir.
 
On the platform everything was beginning to glow. Future passengers on the Eastbound side wore screaming burning auras. He wanted nothing more than to step on to the last car of that train and ride in relative silence. He had sixty-five dollars tucked into his sock and half a pint of warm beer. He spit onto the tracks. It would have been easier to knock a needle from a man's hand than to keep her away from the painting.
 
He watches her sitting before the painting - lovely young woman, cute little shape. She approaches a Spanish galleon, a dry-land shipwreck in full sail. The splintered hull spilling a cargo of watch parts onto the ground. She climbs aboard the listing vessel and is immediately tied to the mast by a thin figure made of smoke. A green apple in a cage sings a soulful, core-felt song just for her.
 
She leaves the apartment with rope burns on her wrists - apologizes for staying so long, though she has barely stayed a minute. The other lovely baristas eye him warily as she speaks of wonders and treasures, earth tones and roundness, long shadows with no discernible sun. Her quest was to reach the clear running stream that she could see in the distance - the stream's prismatic surface refracting color and sound. She was unfazed that objects and landscape features often got smaller as she approached.
 
She would reach the stream.
 
Emergency services would find her lungs filled with water. A victim of drowning - sitting before the painting.
 
Timeline skewed and foreshortened, a dot viewed from the end. He stepped forward then back, before teetering headlong onto the track. His train was coming.
 
 

TRAIN DELAY

police report states

unidentified man lost

sixty-five dollars.

 
 
© Jon Montgomery 2017

POST RECITAL

Talk Icon

TALK

TN: It's me, Tom Newton
 
SFX: sounds of a party in background.
 
JM: I told you never to call me here.
 
JM: Shit. What time is it?
 
TN: Three o'clock
 
JM: In the morning?
 
TN: No...afternoon
 
JM: Look. This isn't a good time. I have some people over.
 
SFX: women talking /  live electric guitar.
 
TN: I just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about your story, Transit Authority.
 
JM: Now is not really... not good...
 
TN: If you could take a few moments to talk about the process.
 
JM: Listen. I've been trying to recreate, you know, that feeling - that moment-
 
when everything goes black but there is absolute clarity. You know what I mean?
 
TN: Um...
 
JM: Oh shit. Hey, have you ever administered an adrenaline shot?
 
I have this long needle, but I'm afraid it will glance off of a rib and break.
 
TN: That may be just a movie prop.
 
JM: You may be right.
 
SFX: sound of needle plunging into chest - self administered – grunting.
 
JM: WHOA! Centipede, centipede, centipede, centipede.......
 
TN: Are you all right?
 
JM: HEY! I'm coming up there to see you.
 
SFX: beeping of an off the hook phone.

***

 
TN: We scheduled an interview with Jon Montgomery about his story - Transit Authority. Apparently he walked up here from The City, sleeping in people's gardens along the way and stealing food. He was arrested while trying to climb a high-voltage pylon. He told the police that he was addicted to electricity. He is now being held in the Ulster County jail. Brent went down there to talk to him.
 
BR: Hello Jon.
 
JM: Centipedes.
 
BR: It's awkward looking at you through glass and talking to you on the phone. Is that what they call FaceTime? Well, we'll just have to improvise. Are you okay? Is there anything I can do?
 
JM: Hundreds of them, hanging from the ceiling.
 
BR: Do you have a lawyer?
 
JM: Three.
 
BR: Three lawyers?
 
JM: Three. Twisted together.
 
BR: It seems a bit draconian, putting you in this place. There must be somewhere better. More helpful.
 
JM: That machine.
 
BR: What machine?
 
JM: Where is it?
 
BR: I really don't know what machine you're talking about.
 
JM: I know you. You were trying to help me. The other guy, the Englishman! Where is he?  He said double it ! I remember now. Son of a bitch. The ears have wanting a music of words sixty seconds of darkness to find them. Curled photograph and wizened finger- it's right there! There were uniforms and yelling. It's so obvious! But there are unfamiliar shapes. You know what I mean Brad?
 
BR: Brent.
 
JM: Yes?
 
BR: No, I'm Brent.
 
JM: Suit yourself, but I do know my own name, despite what they're saying about me.
 
BR: Who?
 
JM: Them. I do not like this hotel. Not one bit. There is this bank of phones in the lobby, and that's it! I can't even pay for this fleabag. But instead of throwing me out, they are keeping me. Hot water. Scald upon flushing. Elevator ice Machine.
 
Loud banging nightly. I don't get it.
 
BR: So what happened?
 
JM: You know what I mean?
 
BR: I have no idea. What do you mean?
 
JM: There's an eel in your pocket. A sliver of chance. A conger. It's talking to me. It's laughing.
 
BR: Tom said you got arrested while climbing an electric pylon. That you walked all the way from New York and......
 
JM: Where's his mouth anyway? That's a cruel man. Heartless. The electrodes! Can you get your hands on them?
 
BR: You know I came down here to talk to you about your story. The circumstances are unfortunate, but do you feel like talking about it?
 
JM: I do business with supposition these days. It's all the other way round Brad. I'm on the other side now.
 
BR: Well... I think maybe this interview is not working out. I'll have to come back at another time.
 
JM: Another time? There's only one time as far as I know. Do you have a Van de Graff generator on you?  Tesla Coil?
 
BR: Is there anyone that can help you? Anyone you want us to contact?
 
JM: There was - a low lying lizard. It ate everything it could.....There's no fucking cigarette machine in this lobby....
 
SFX: PA announcement: Attention! Visiting hours are now over. Visitors will please exit immediately.
 
BR: Okay, I'll be in touch. See you, Jon. (SFX: Chair moving back.)
 
Guard: Hey! Where do you think you're going?
 
BR: Visiting hours are over, so I was just--
 
Guard: Stop! Up against the wall!
 
BR: But I'm a visitor and I was just--
 
Guard: Right, pal. You can imagine you're a visitor if you like, but you still have to go back to your cell.
 
BR: No, that's backwards. I'm not a prisoner here. Tell him Jon! Jon!
 
Guard: You can shout all you want. He can't hear you. That's what the glass is for. Now get going.
 
BR: But wait.....
 
Guard: Now, don't give me any crap. Your visitor is leaving. Turn your ass around and march. Back that way. Move it!
 
BR: You can't do this, I'm not a prisoner here!
 
Guard: All right Robinson. I know you like to play this little game, and pretend you're the one on the outside, but it's getting tired. It's over. You've got the most fucked up visitors. That mask wearing woman's not allowed back. And who's this freak that was just here ? Screaming about centipedes - I thought he was the exterminator. He just left in a limo. You wanna talk? Talk to the walls pal. Keep movin'.
 
 
PA announcement voiced by Kevin Swanwick.
 
Prison guard played by Mark Bailey.

TN: It's me, Tom Newton
 
SFX: sounds of a party in background.
 
JM: I told you never to call me here.
 
JM: Shit. What time is it?
 
TN: Three o'clock
 
JM: In the morning?
 
TN: No...afternoon
 
JM: Look. This isn't a good time. I have some people over.
 
SFX: women talking /  live electric guitar.
 
TN: I just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about your story, Transit Authority.
 
JM: Now is not really... not good...
 
TN: If you could take a few moments to talk about the process.
 
JM: Listen. I've been trying to recreate, you know, that feeling - that moment-
 
when everything goes black but there is absolute clarity. You know what I mean?
 
TN: Um...
 
JM: Oh shit. Hey, have you ever administered an adrenaline shot?
 
I have this long needle, but I'm afraid it will glance off of a rib and break.
 
TN: That may be just a movie prop.
 
JM: You may be right.
 
SFX: sound of needle plunging into chest - self administered – grunting.
 
JM: WHOA! Centipede, centipede, centipede, centipede.......
 
TN: Are you all right?
 
JM: HEY! I'm coming up there to see you.
 
SFX: beeping of an off the hook phone.

***

 
TN: We scheduled an interview with Jon Montgomery about his story - Transit Authority. Apparently he walked up here from The City, sleeping in people's gardens along the way and stealing food. He was arrested while trying to climb a high-voltage pylon. He told the police that he was addicted to electricity. He is now being held in the Ulster County jail. Brent went down there to talk to him.
 
BR: Hello Jon.
 
JM: Centipedes.
 
BR: It's awkward looking at you through glass and talking to you on the phone. Is that what they call FaceTime? Well, we'll just have to improvise. Are you okay? Is there anything I can do?
 
JM: Hundreds of them, hanging from the ceiling.
 
BR: Do you have a lawyer?
 
JM: Three.
 
BR: Three lawyers?
 
JM: Three. Twisted together.
 
BR: It seems a bit draconian, putting you in this place. There must be somewhere better. More helpful.
 
JM: That machine.
 
BR: What machine?
 
JM: Where is it?
 
BR: I really don't know what machine you're talking about.
 
JM: I know you. You were trying to help me. The other guy, the Englishman! Where is he?  He said double it ! I remember now. Son of a bitch. The ears have wanting a music of words sixty seconds of darkness to find them. Curled photograph and wizened finger- it's right there! There were uniforms and yelling. It's so obvious! But there are unfamiliar shapes. You know what I mean Brad?
 
BR: Brent.
 
JM: Yes?
 
BR: No, I'm Brent.
 
JM: Suit yourself, but I do know my own name, despite what they're saying about me.
 
BR: Who?
 
JM: Them. I do not like this hotel. Not one bit. There is this bank of phones in the lobby, and that's it! I can't even pay for this fleabag. But instead of throwing me out, they are keeping me. Hot water. Scald upon flushing. Elevator ice Machine.
 
Loud banging nightly. I don't get it.
 
BR: So what happened?
 
JM: You know what I mean?
 
BR: I have no idea. What do you mean?
 
JM: There's an eel in your pocket. A sliver of chance. A conger. It's talking to me. It's laughing.
 
BR: Tom said you got arrested while climbing an electric pylon. That you walked all the way from New York and......
 
JM: Where's his mouth anyway? That's a cruel man. Heartless. The electrodes! Can you get your hands on them?
 
BR: You know I came down here to talk to you about your story. The circumstances are unfortunate, but do you feel like talking about it?
 
JM: I do business with supposition these days. It's all the other way round Brad. I'm on the other side now.
 
BR: Well... I think maybe this interview is not working out. I'll have to come back at another time.
 
JM: Another time? There's only one time as far as I know. Do you have a Van de Graff generator on you?  Tesla Coil?
 
BR: Is there anyone that can help you? Anyone you want us to contact?
 
JM: There was - a low lying lizard. It ate everything it could.....There's no fucking cigarette machine in this lobby....
 
SFX: PA announcement: Attention! Visiting hours are now over. Visitors will please exit immediately.
 
BR: Okay, I'll be in touch. See you, Jon. (SFX: Chair moving back.)
 
Guard: Hey! Where do you think you're going?
 
BR: Visiting hours are over, so I was just--
 
Guard: Stop! Up against the wall!
 
BR: But I'm a visitor and I was just--
 
Guard: Right, pal. You can imagine you're a visitor if you like, but you still have to go back to your cell.
 
BR: No, that's backwards. I'm not a prisoner here. Tell him Jon! Jon!
 
Guard: You can shout all you want. He can't hear you. That's what the glass is for. Now get going.
 
BR: But wait.....
 
Guard: Now, don't give me any crap. Your visitor is leaving. Turn your ass around and march. Back that way. Move it!
 
BR: You can't do this, I'm not a prisoner here!
 
Guard: All right Robinson. I know you like to play this little game, and pretend you're the one on the outside, but it's getting tired. It's over. You've got the most fucked up visitors. That mask wearing woman's not allowed back. And who's this freak that was just here ? Screaming about centipedes - I thought he was the exterminator. He just left in a limo. You wanna talk? Talk to the walls pal. Keep movin'.
 
 
PA announcement voiced by Kevin Swanwick.
 
Prison guard played by Mark Bailey.

Music on this episode:

Piano improvisation by my cat Felix.

Cop Show by xj5000.

Used by permission of the artist.

THE STRANGE RECITAL

Episode 17082

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