On the Third Day, Boulder (barrier)

VI.ii. The Auto Mobile

Erik Jespersen
9 min readNov 23, 2021


— ‘(oo-oo-t.)’

“OMG! Who the fuck did this? These were my paints!” Maxxie shut the water off, watching the rainbow acrylic catastrophe of splotches begin to swirl in the unlevel sink, primary pigments dive-bombing and short-circuiting in ribbons and parallel streams with psychedelic rarefacted motion.

“Goddamnit, Max, she just asked if anyone needed them.”

“Somebody get me my phone, somebody get me my phone!” Maxxie flapped her arms in her lightly-spattered smock, primarily streaked from paint-battered hand use, without lifting her attention from the artwork congealing itself before her.

Photo by Danny Lines on Unsplash

“Where is it?”

“Oh God, hurry! It’s by my coat. It’s beautiful, a gyroscope of many colors — you ever play that as a kid? You know my coat, right, with the buttons? It should be by the…”

“Got it. Coming!” Melinda clacked over in clogs, holding up Maxxie’s phone victoriously. “I don’t know how to turn it on, it’s locked.” She fumbled her nails tugging along the time display, 03:48 PM, until the snow-speckled arctic fox face would brook no further disrespect, and snapped to origin.

“Nah, I got it, just give it here.” Maxxie grabs the phone, unlocks it with a thumb gesture and starts recording in one motion, holding the viewfinder about a foot from her eyes.

“Shit, it’s almost practice.”

“You hear that, MxC-fans, Mean Messy Melli refuses to help me with the horrorshow she made of my paints, the last paints I had for the entire class… Enjoy my last piece of the semester: I call it Squirming Coils of Big Generations, a meta-meta artwork. I’ll take my ‘A’ now, thanxxie.” filming.

“Oh, did you mean Spirograph? The one with the plastic circles and compass

“Uh… No? Wtf-wtf, anyway?”

“Gotta go. And hey! Technically that’s my art, and I don’t giveyoupermissiontouseit!” Melinda spoke quickly to get the entire sentence on video before Maxxie pressed it off. “You better tag me, B.” Melinda flicked a strand of Maxxie’s hair. She didn’t register, cock-headedly glued to the shifting bright kaleidoscope on her screen.

“Now I have to delete all that!”

“Pfft. Just add a post-script after you post it, that’s what I’d do.”

Maxxie paused the entrancing video and dropped her jaw in mock disbelief. “Seriously? That’s so very very last year.” Maxxie flashed the back of her hand as a dismissive wave to stand in as insult-proxy for all outmoded trends ever.

“Tea-time-ya-later, B.” Melinda shrugged her shoulders and let her smock fall naturally from her arms as she clogged noisily to the coat hangers and strung it up. She checked her bright orange cubby for her sketchpad and purse.

“Bt-dubs, wtf with the ‘wtf-wtf?’”

“’What the fuck was that, friend?’”

Melinda hooked the purse strap over her mottled gray nylon trench-length cardigan outlined with thick-marker black vinyl seams and stopped just shy of the door, looking up from her phone. “Hmm. ‘k.” And into the hallway, likely to be late for basketball practice, but unlikely to care.

Maxxie pulled over a bar height metal stool to perch on as she tried to apply stock treatments to the video, but none of them were altering the colors or imagery. She plunked her frocked elbows down on the sink’s curved stainless steel lip, but lost her footing on one of the rungs, her sock tore on a stripped exposed truss screw head, and grazed her ankle, which smarted enough to investigate.

Now the sock’s ruined, gutted open by the industrial resilience of unstainable and unsustainable steel. How many darned socks had to die before we woke up people! Think of the socks!

She almost dropped her phone into the gurgling drain of paint. The normal play button was on, but the video was running slowly, so slowly as to seem to be reversing… she was seeing liquid globs of just enough density as to be collectively referred to as one, cohere and shape-shiftingly fumble back to its source, the source itself being just a happenstance of squeezing the remainder of a paint tube haphazardly into a slightly wet stainless steel sink… left exposed to angular motion, chemical interaction, gravitational pull, electromagnetic force, and time. As one final source of what? A glob of paint? Does that even make sense? How does anything happen? How do you stop it from happening? Should you? Until you know what the message is, who sent it, and who’ll be receiving your response, you can’t really formulate an answer. Does it matter that it was just paint? If I can dream being paint, am I? Being paint, not dreaming.

Now visualize it.

Start with the dark basement in the Armory. A light, intrudes, unwanted. You’re ready for anything but the light. You’re cringing with your back in the corner to keep your eyes front. But the light gets brighter, and it dances, bobbing from side to side as it approaches… Do you fire at the light? Do have any choice but to? Until it gets too bright, flash-banging a few feet in your face, you have to shut your eyes and fire into the darkness again. So you’re back to where you started, but with so many dead, including yourself. For each bullet goes through the back of the stomach of the you above you, or before you, the you just before the shot, just before the light got so bright, where only your back was to the light, and only your back was in darkness, because when it gets bright enough, you don’t know where you’re aiming, you’re aiming back into the darkness.

You’ve really no aim at all.

So abyssal-like, each of you fall onto each other, collapsing down the reality of now, onto the reality of now, onto the reality of I said now, onto the reality of I said stop it! Like domino’s over time, so close as to create a continuity of self, and the laws of angular motion, chemical reaction don’t matter much, now it’s just gravity, always pulling you slowly (it’s really just a rate of information, dude) down its pinwheel drain, a sluice through which the blood, guts and white chalk will seep until someone quickly throws up a white canvas to catch a frame of the bio-effluenza mass (wait, what if you don’t slice the human the right way in time, but maybe at a bias, I think that’s where Picasso was going, I’ll have to try and remember to read up on that…) in action, and what if that someone is: duh-duh-Duh! Super-Maxxie! Now I just have to get the paints back, oh, and it should probably include ‘Slow Children’ in it somehow, cuz that just always cracks me up.

Don’t advertise, okay?

No ma’am, I was not caught making fun of someone’s intelligence. Because it was not someone’s it was something’s. I was calling out the racist signs that have no regahd for the retahd’s privacy. Ba-dum-ching! Take that, Sleeping Beauty. I grew up on the Nawth Shawh, okay?

She tapped on options to check her settings, but playing speed was normal, standard video was selected. Maybe it’s bugged. Whatever. She swipes out of the app and struggles out of her smock with one arm unwilling to stop the scroll on her Patreon feed. Where should she post it? Clearly on Patreon, so start there. Yup, for sure, that way if someone wants to pre-purchase it based on the concept, boom, they’re right there.

She stops biting her lip as she finally wriggles her left arm out of the old smock and switches hands, tugging at the sleeve while the screen is jumping around illegibly. God, Maxxie, put it down! She clucks her tongue twice and places it precariously on the nearest standing easel. She frees her royal purple sleeve from the curled frock cuff with some effort of twisting and is sliding the white frock off her arm when she cringes at the cracking sound of her phone’s hard plastic case on the scuffed and soured ivory concrete tile of the class-sized art studio.

Dread is a pickle in the back of your skull that yanks your entire skull, even your inner ear, to tingling attention. Two more quick cracks before it skids to grout. She throws a crumple of a smock near a bench, and from a crouch grabs it tightly. God, if the face is cracked… it’s totally gonna be cracked, so long as I can see it, I’ve seen people use completely cobwebbed phones, I guess. She drew breath as she turned it over. It looked intact and not scraped. Phew. She dusted off particles of sawdust, pastel and dirt tracked in, probably by the guy douche art collective. If asked, I’m referring to a group of male artists whose bespoke media are bygone feminine hygiene products but weirdly never wipe their feet when entering a building. Some feminists, huh? Allegory, schmallegory, don’t I already taste mostly like acetic acid? Must be, that’s why all the super-hotties don’t want to talk to me!

She unlocked the phone as she stood up and leaned against the corkboard, littered with invitations to private music lessons, one-act real and virtual plays, study groups, choral performances, all still hanging on to reality with email pull-tabs or QR codes. All too archaic, this etched billboard of memories of frantic anticipation; what’s really happening is what’s happening online right now. Everything else is slogging redundantly through fields of oxygen, snorting and aching, cursing and hurting. There’s life in them there atoms! Where there is a energy density, there is life density. It’s about the right amount of information.

She tapped on the colorful thumbnail in gallery view and a video of an empty plain sink began playing.


“You hear that, MxC-fans, …” just jostled camera footage of an empty sink. She hit pause, and scrolled to the end and back to the beginning, shocked and confused.

What did it do? Just write the same frame over and over again? “No, duh, I could still hear the sound, and the camera is moving,” by now talking to herself out loud.


It was time to throw a tantrum, so she clutched her fists, stamped her feet and wailed to the fluorescent ceiling lights.


It dawned on her to run to the sink to capture more footage, but found it clean.

<:: don’t never send no udder fucker ta do the work of yerself when it comes right down to it and it always does don’t it always come right down to it it’s where the fun starts where the house folds holding jokers where the bankers run for cover in insurance fraud loopholes and even the cowpokes have had their fun slippin in between a round up where the bessie’s get she pretty zippy when you start calling her herd by their body parts like you been lickin yer lips or somethin ::>

<:: it was about the baby i was thinking about in the shower lyin in a bassoon er whatever it is and lookin up above it how they always hang some sort of mobile plaything fer it ta look at and keep it entertained before folk had screens and implants like they got later but this thing would move by itself whether it be from subtle air pressure changes in a climate controlled room or had a motor in it again later on like it was they would have all sorts of animals or fairyland creatures usually of brightly colored colors painted differ’nt colors you’d see cuz i guess baby eyes aren’t so sharp as ther gonna get but what i wantya ta imagine is seein that thing every time you get put down to sleep it’d be your constant companion through the majority of yer alone time ::>

<:: so i’m thinkin that half them little farckers gonna think that be a real person there hanging out above them lookin over them and i guess wut’s wrong widdat dat yeah i mean it that’s why i’mma say it out loud ::>

:: Wut’s wrong widdat? ::

<:: fer if when you were a lil tyke you had an inviserble friend or maybe one fer every spoke of the mobile world that spun over your head wouldn’t you be a better person with greater imagination and empathy and a playwright of our tomorrows? *ahem, yes* an tha days after an tha days after that an after that an right up un’il one a tha monkeys accidentally taps out tha true story of the universe on ther typewriter there the end ::>

:: An’ wi’dat, Myrrmann O-O-U-U-T!! ::



Erik Jespersen