I opened the box, where my newspaper usually appears sometime after 8:37 a.m., and found two small creatures nestled together on top the news print. Nearly two minutes passed in confused contemplation, attempting to gather a thought that would provoke an action. I decided to take out a pen out of my pocket and poke one of them. Assuredly had I thought of anything remotely better I would have done it, including closing the box and walking away, pretending the papers simply didn’t come. Past my blue corduroy pants and into the box my pen pushed slightly, even gently, into a haunch. A sort of pitiful, whiny sound emitted. The animal I know the best, though in no way completely or with any certainty, the human, makes that sound when hurt or sad. I surmised the only option was to lift them both and place them together in my coat pocket, on the right side. When my fingers just began to wrap around the bottom of the furry pile, exerting a bit of pressure into soft parts, a thrashing, hissing, biting of the most horrible sort sent blood onto my clothes, lining the inside of the box and even onto the sidewalk. In the seconds it took to pull my hands out and close the lid what looked like a lot of blood was splattered everywhere. My hands were cut viciously, but no bone seemed to be exposed. Suddenly the thought of having just contracted rabies entered, was taken note in my mind, and placed aside for another moment’s focus while I began to wonder how I would stop my current rate of bleeding. The box was dripping blood from the bottom and movement inside could still be heard. Again, for the second time in so few moments I stood wondering what to do, and again it took minutes until I started to move. Taking care of this myself would be best, I thought, and casually began to step back with a throbbing from wrists to tips. By then, however people had been gathering and some were looking concerned, and some were so concerned they asked me if I was OK and talking in such an unsettlingly panicked way. This, more than anything else, made my heart race and my face become cold. Home was not an option, nor was a hospital. At that moment, of all moments, I remembered my house in Missouri, the house I grew up in. I used to sit by the small creek that ran just beyond a hill behind our house. I used to sing songs to myself, mostly stupid rhymes about what I did and saw, in some melody that was in no key or relatively in tune. There, with all those eyes before me and my old home in my mind, one of the few songs whose words I still knew became loud, louder than the questions and the cars passing slowly and the movement inside the box. My disjointed melody started to seem like it was being sung by those around me, their mouths moving along with my stupid words. If it was coincidence that was fine with me, but that they seemed to know the words irritated me. I blinked, coughed, inhaled and then ran. It wasn’t that I thought a running bloody man could get help faster than a standing bloody man, especially if he, like me, had no destination in mind. It seemed, rather, that it was time to leave. As I got further away, I wondered if that particular incident of mauling wouldn’t be the first thing I thought of when turning the corner and facing the box sometime after 8:37 a.m. One day there would be other neighbors, other shops opening in some different season and I would walk past, maybe no longer living there myself and thinking nothing of the running I had done through the street, bleeding and throbbing. If there were only a creek nearby, I thought, my hands would have found their way there, submerged then healed by the magic healing powers of mud, rocks, water and aquatic waste. The nearest house seemed respectable and perhaps housed someone with snese, with it’s tasteful trim and elegant landscaping, and I ran onto the porch and kicked the door a few times. An elderly woman with thin orange hair who seemed no taller than 4′ 5″ opened the door and blurted, “what the hell?” as soon as she saw my hands, but maybe her question was rhetorical, because she didn’t wait for my reply and quickly asked, “are you on drugs?” to which I said with certainty, “no”, though certainly I was a bit hungover, and high, on coffee and weed. “Come in!” and she grabbed the elbow of my coat and tugged me inside. The house was warm and sweet, much in the way of old people’s style. Everything seemed made out of cake, including, I swear to God, a painting of a cake that I later saw hanging in her hallway. She seemed prepared for such an incident and was in no time had my hands clean and being wrapped. Perhaps she was a red cross nurse in the second World War, but I didn’t ask. Within minutes I was eating a cookie and drinking Ginger Ale. “What happened to you?” she seemed to demand, not out of curiosity but out of obligation for my repairs. “Some porcupines bit me.” I wondered if the lie would float or sink. “You were bit, or were you scratched by their spines? What, were you trying to grab ’em?” “No no, they bit me with their teeth, not the needles. They only use those for backup defense. This was a full on assault. They were purposeful, vindictive. There was a plotting on their part, to be sure.” Within seconds I felt less welcome and uncomfortable, so I said thanks and made to leave. She reached for me as I stood, a grasping that was desperate and strange. I managed a quick manuever and jumped through the doorway and into the street and broke into a run. Slowing after turning left onto another street, I realized I’d yet to get a paper, and it was already after 11:34 a.m. If one is to get a job one must beat the pavement early and I might have ruined the whole day’s search. The one good thing would be avoiding the churning of the days maladies, whose culmination into a dissonant chord accompanied most of my days. Recently any movement or thought was the background of a single nausea. I wondered if Jackson Pollock ever said to himself, “damn, that was one too many splatters, I’ll have to re-do this whole corner.” I pretended I was made of wood and wondered why I couldn’t get a job. Something was surely conspiring against me, making me unable to gather applications, making me late for interviews, causing companies to send their most inept employee to interview me, keeping me in a hotel room watching TV and rubbing curtains on my face. Funds were running low and friends had long ago gone from politely refusing to give me money to ignoring me completely. I thought back to a few days before. Walgreens was advertising some food on sale and I thought I would be able to eat for less than a dollar. I walked in and went to the office/school supply section for some browsing before breakfast. I was drawn towards a box of crayons, when the smell and their promise of vivid colors sent me back to when I was young and in school, and chants and taunts, reprimands and refusals filled my mind and I began to cry, in isle 4. I was paralyzed, enraptured with sobs and regrets. The next thing I remember was thinking that biting into a crayon would surely break the spell. The crunching brought me back to reality and made me aware of being approached by two employees who escorted me to the street, the while asking me, “what the fuck?” and threatening to call the police. I told them, “if you ever want help, don’t call them!” but my advice perhaps went unheeded. It’s hard to trust a guy you just saw eating a crayon, I understand that plainly enough, but hopefully they will think about what I said, once they had calmed down. Days later, with moderate wounds thinking about an aborted Lunchables breakfast, I began craving cheese and ham on crackers. I entered a store close to my hotel, bought some malt liquor, job hunting relegated to another day, and a Lunchable. I took them to my room and consumed them during The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. “The worst ain’t so bad when it finally happens, not half as bad as you figure it’ll be before it’s happened” made me laugh and laugh. It sure ain’t, I said in my best Curtin impression, sure it ain’t. Later I fell asleep on the floor, thinking about piles of good, too.