A coda, according to the dictionary of your choice (I averaged all of the definitions for your convenience), is a passage that brings a piece of music to an end. In rock music, they call a coda an “outro”. In literature, it’s the conclusion (or maybe a footnote, if the author is feeling saucy).

If my current existence were a composition, the coda would be Adderall. The piece would be this roaring, sprawling, explosive thing that you don’t think will ever go anywhere, but then out of nowhere, there’s a defective crescendo in the shape of a 90 degree angle, a flatline on a 12-lead ECG on a planet where aliens are born when they die, and everything is suddenly very still. The beast closes its gaping maw.

And then I stop eating real food and only eat a cracker and then forget to eat for ten hours. I find pop-up advertisements not only annoying, but infuriating. I read three (pretty big) books in one 24 hour sitting, and remember the numbers on the license plates of the cars of strangers, and think more critically in one hour than I do in one week.

I turn into a wild, expensive computer with an operating system you have to reinstall every morning, two hours after waking up – and never on an empty stomach.

My compulsion to do good for people turns nearly robotic. My nagging guilt manifests itself into items on a computer-generated to-do list – nothing more than a routine debug. I stay up until two in the morning completing tasks someone else has written into their schedule – cleaning my mother’s house, driving my brother to and from and to and from and to school, cooking complicated dinners.

Like a machine still screwing lids on mayonnaise jars long after the end of the world, I am hard-working, silent, and essentially pointless – but no one would ever tell me that. After all, I survived the end of the world somehow.

When I’m not medicated, I lose interest quickly. I bury strangers and acquaintances I haven’t spoken to in more than three weeks in rubble that I stir up building marble idols out of new acquaintances that told me that they agree with some thought I had. The process repeats until everyone is a pile of broken art.

But on Adderall, I pin people to my dead butterfly board and stare at them until I need to go buy eyedrops. I turn into a referee for a demented game of bobbing-for-apples – the one with their head under the water of my train of thought longest, with their teeth dug into the apple of my brain the longest, is my new friend. When people stop talking to me, I turn anxious. I get cold. And I start cleaning.

I don’t know if this stuff is bad yet. I don’t know if it’s good, either.

I have to go get more crackers. Please don’t go anywhere.

Not enough space in the bed. No will to disturb you. And us living the echoes of events that happened before we were capable of forming memories. Long before we were capable of revising memories.

The only reason to stay to say in the morning what we both already know. While you are conscious and sober. Waiting these days to say it. While you were elsewhere, while the link waned. Takes no courage to start something that will likely end or burn itself to nothing. It’s the easiest thing in the world.

If it was a game. It was well played to the end, ecstatic and somber and even, at times, graceful. And if it wasn’t a game or a story. Then we’re still riding that same wave, in places where familiarity has yet to threaten splendor.

Outside I can hear them talking. I don’t know who they are—but they’re here, and they’re talking. And though I can’t understand a single God damn thing they’re saying, I know that none of it is consequential, and none of it is good.

They have been out there, talking about absolutely nothing, for over a year.

From my window perch I have heard gunshots and I have heard screams; I have heard laughter also. I have witnessed drug dealers sell drugs to drug users. I have seen freak outs and psychedelic meltdowns. I have seen rain. Mostly I have seen the sun.

A big orange dog with sullen eyes paces up and down the street all day. As far as I can tell he has no home. We have made eye contact. I have communicated to him, behind an apathetic gaze, that I think he is OK. I did this because I perceived that he needed to know.

Sometimes a son of a bitch just needs to know.

Recently I watched the poor creature almost get wiped out by some maniac driver. My street doesn’t have speed bumps, so these fuckers rip through the neighborhood at 80 miles an hour. The dog jumped out of the way as a car swerved to hit it. Down the way, where all the dealers gather, I heard laughter. Someone shouted, “Hit him! Hit him!” I could hardly believe it. Why anyone would wish pain and death on something as harmless as this dog is beyond me. If anything I wish pain and death on these ignorant fools.

My mind wanders and I sometimes think I would like to be out there mixing it up with the animals. But when I see something like this I am reminded that humans are trash, and that this is the trash world they have built. They don’t want things to be beautiful and peaceful; they want to be excited by mass destruction and rivers of blood. I would almost feel sorry for them if it weren’t for the fact that they are so aggressively vile.

I like a few of them. My friends here in the house treat me nicely. The people who come to visit me, and who call me by my name, are mostly agreeable. I only protest when I am picked up off the ground against my will.

I am not a child, you see. I am a thirty-five-year-old man. I am also not a play-thing.

Jesus, I have no idea what I’m saying. Everyone is asleep and I’m depressed for reasons besides.

My favorite toy, the “Cat Dancer,” is on the rug in the living room. I have tried fucking around with it by myself, but it’s not the same.

Nothing is worth it anymore. I am tired. I will be tired for the rest of my life.

Gunshots on the street. A car speeds away. If you don’t think we’re all just circling the drain, then kid, I don’t what to tell you.

Charlie Dumpo and Kevin Burpo took turns punching each other in the face; they had been going at it for over three hours. Charlie Dumpo’s face was purple and his eyes were black and swollen. Kevin Burpo’s lip was busted open and was missing four teeth.

Charlie Dumpo took a swing at Kevin Burpo’s face. His fist landed hard on Kevin Burpo’s cheek. Kevin Burpo laughed wildly.

“Pretty good?” said Charlie Dumpo. “Pretty good? Pretty good?”

Very good,” said Kevin Burpo. He spit out another tooth.

Charlie Dumpo smiled. He adjusted his posture; he sat upright. His spine was as straight as a witch’s dick.

“Ready?” said Kevin Burpo. “Ready, ready?”

So ready,” said Charlie Dumpo.

Kevin Burpo wound up his arm like a cartoon baseball pitcher. He spun it behind his back a dozen or so times. Finally he released the punch. His fist smacked into Charlie Dumpo’s nose. It made a sound like a gallon of mayonaise dropped onto a sidewalk.

Blood poured out of Charlie Dumpo’s nostrils. A cashew-sized piece of his brain slid out as well. It dribbled down his face and neck and onto his T-shirt. Charlie Dumpo carefully picked it up with his thumb and index finger. He placed it in his palm. He extended his palm to Kevin Burpo.

Kevin Burpo examined the cashew-sized piece of Charlie Dumpo’s brain. It was grey and wormy. It looked like spoiled meat.

“Nice,” said Kevin Burpo. “Very nice.”

Charlie Dumpo laughed like hell.

Kevin Burpo formed his fingers into tweezers and collected the piece of brain from Charlie Dumpo’s palm. He broke it into two smaller pieces. He plugged his nostrils with each half. He inhaled them violently. They were gone in an instant, were absorbed into Kevin Burpo’s head.

“Yeah?” said Charlie Dumpo.

“Yeah,” said Kevin Burpo.

Charlie Dumpo clapped his hands. Kevin Burpo burped. The two smiled.

“Ready?” said Charlie Dumpo. “Ready, ready?”

“Oh yeah!” said Kevin Burpo. He leaned forward.

Charlie Dumpo punched Kevin Burpo in the face as hard as he could. It made a terrifying noise. Charlie Dumpo and Kevin Burpo laughed like maniacs.

The planet spun on its axis. The planet rotated around the sun. The sun was setting in the sky. The light was fading. The trees were silent. The buildings were dark. The sea gave up the dead.

The cook poisons himself with astonishing consistency. The cook either wallows in self-hatred or basks in egomaniacal sadism. The cook is often one misplaced fennel frond away from total psychological collapse.

•     •     •

Scotty, the self-coronated salad king, is having a crisis over his impending thirtieth birthday. He puffs hash on the second story roof, behind the neon sign, peering down at the street, sitting alongside the pig skulls glued in place on the brick ledge with fish caramel sauce.

Owen, the busboy, is in the walk-in sneaking slabs of applewood smoked bacon into his cavernous backpack, enough to pray away a fortnight of hangovers. Sandy, the waitress, is spit-shining vases of orchids in plain view of the clientele. Trevor, the dishwasher, is rapping a verse for each rack of plates that passes under his dangerously omnidirectional sink nozzle.

Garrett, the runner, is standing behind the windowed double doors gazing into space for a brief moment of empty-headed gawkery, watching the swaying motions of women he will never know as they parade down the sidewalk toward the downtown scene.

Julian, the prep slave, has discovered the blow torch is running dry. He slips out front to enlist the aid of Martha, the bartender. Together they fill a fry pan with bourbon, ignite it, and pour the flaming liquid all over the grinning severed pig head to banish the last prickles of stubble.

D’Artagnan, the chef, is in the throes of a boozy spell, locked in battle over the soul of a single clementine segment, picking at the white veins with a bird’s beak knife, mesmerized by the task, oblivious to the chaos around him. It is unclear whether this hypnotic ritual is meant to cool his rage or to raise it to legendary barometric levels. One look at the sweat pouring unchecked into his bloodshot eyes is enough to dissuade all attempts at communication.

Meanwhile, Mike the sallow-eyed grill man, prone to one night stands that stretch into love affairs that stretch into agony and die, has just received word, while hauling compost to the curb, that the last quiver of affection between he and his newest lover was struck down like a roach scurrying for cover, some hours ago, while he worked a double to afford the good wine for her one last time.

He has made off with a half gallon of one hundred proof vanilla extract and locked himself in the broom closet with the lights off.

Service is going smoothly.

Footsteps. Voice of Placed fading fading fading.

Placed: I’d go with you I truly would if I knew where the Spot would take me. Maybe I could try again and see my son. . . . Beautiful boy with dreams and a future way his father never had. His mother knew what was best for him and sent me away . . . and how could I give up the bottle after she gave up on me. . . .

Overpass builds to a roar and from this roar the sound of one engine overtakes the scene, inside the car the retro hip journalist chatters over psych rock. Monologue.

Journalist: We’re closer now. Cock your weapons of mass desimination, brother. Load the cameras and click the pens. Rewind the tape, epate eht dniwed. Keep your fingers ’round your cocks and your eyes to the blazing skyline this is it and if you can’t get off to this then you ain’t alive, dig? It’s gonna be untellable, it’s gonna be unrecordable but we will record it anyway and the reality of the thing the real ineffable shit, right, that shit will be known only by the impression it leaves on us, by the way it widens our pupils from now until the worms stake their claim, and we will be more human than the rest and we’ll be sure they know it from the ways we don’t speak, the shit we don’t talk about. . . .

[Musical interlude, psychedlic jam on the melodic theme of Agua de Beber.]

Fade back to the familiar footsteps of Tagonist. Roaring of all kinds, an orgy of noises. We’re talking wolf pack howling, dinosaur screaming, children crying, rushing by, auditory focus shifting rapidly. . . .

Fruitstand Lady: An orange for a pine cone! A watermelon for a pocket knife! Money is dead, fruit is delicious!

Footsteps, noise. . . .

Military Official: Yes sir . . . two blocks east of main locked down . . . cutting power lines in three . . . two . . . one. . . .

Surge, hum from high to low, a machine grinding to a halt. Footsteps. On the radio, deep blues. Change of the dial. News flashes on.

Newsman: Citizens continue to flee the epicenter of the affected zone. Physicists speculate the growing surface area of the Spot could be due to fenzied radioactivity occuring at one of the time-nodes linked by the event, leading polytemporal historians to speculate on the existence of a possible future or past in which the earth is or was heavily irradiated and lifeless. . . .