(originally published in Why Vandalism?)
Edsel Skylark looked back on his sewing accomplishments and beamed. Blue ribbon at the county fair, honorary member of the committee to include sewing as an Olympic event. As always, he was sitting at the sewing machine in the back of the pickup truck, when suddenly the sewing machine was on fire. Edsel was part of a traveling road show, which included sewing as one of its surprisingly popular attractions. People would come from miles around to throw all types of garments to him in the pickup truck, garments demanding seemingly impossible surgery. Yet he would always triumph, performing a dazzling operation, every seam in place, the garment newly intact. And always at the end of the performance, a spark of light, a crackling flame, and a bright yellow-orange ‘S’ flew into the sky. There was major debate in various sewing circles as to whether the ‘S’ stood for ‘Sewing’, ‘Skylark’, ‘Singer’ (manufacturer of his sewing machine), or ‘Something else’. But this time, something was amiss, and the sewing machine had caught on fire. The whirr of the Singer continued as the flames leapt around him. He didn’t stop, hunched over, beads of sweat dripping on threads of a tunic that he pressed into the maw of the machine, an apocalyptic hemsman, a burning seamster. Then everything blacked out.
A dream emerged: The purple slave runs into the Foucault skies, a microscope under his/her breast. An elevator delivered the illiterate eggplant onto the plateaus of deliverance. Soon a confused and angry hen deliberated, and pecked at the eggplant, yearning for nothing. There were 3000 empty days, followed by a ‘ping’ of the elevator, inhabited by an empty carton, delivered haphazardly by a temp Fed-Ex employee, looking forward to his luxurious lunch. He would be sitting on silken pillows, made from the carcasses of deviously amorous pheasants stuffed into the efficiently cavernous fabrics, sewn into a strict Dutch hyper-stitch. The remains of the Fed-Ex employee’s lunch would empty into a local sewer, and he would later be frolicking in the trauma centers of the underground hospital: blips and bleeps, upward and downward trends displaying on the electronic charts.
Edsel awoke on an operating table in a stark white room. He could feel the flaps of skin being stitched. The doctor looked down upon him, eyes seeming like dark kaleidoscopes. Dangling from his surgical mask was a little tag that stated, ‘Inspected by Number 57. Do not remove under penalty of death.’ The doctor said, “We are using your sewing techniques to heal the epidermis, Mr. Skylark, you pioneer, you!” The anesthesiologist then quickly moved the mask back over Edsel’s face. He awoke in a hospital bed hours later, a bowl of fruit by his side. Although he had suffered severe burns, he felt rather pleasant. He examined the stitches and seams of his skin reparation. “What?!” he exclaimed in alarm. “This is a cross-stitch, when a Dutch hyper-stitch would have much better served the purpose! And this seam is very poorly done, flawed workmanship!” He stalked out of the hospital without settling the bill, but the accounting department already had his medical number and insurance information.