In a glass of whiskey, a shark chomps off a swimmer’s head.  Chocolate icing sports a vulva.  Everything contains numerous SEXes and FUCKs and KILLs.  For four decades, as one of Madison Avenue’s top artists, he secretly embedded subliminal words and images into print advertisements, winning eight or nine industry awards in the process.  Now, as he lies dying of stage-four pancreatic cancer in his hospice bed, he does not regret keeping the economy healthy via tapping into (some would say exploiting) consumers’ subconscious fears and desires.  Rather, he regrets not flying to Mexico with his girlfriend, the love of his life (he now realizes), on vacation in 1981.  Neither of them had previously gone there; he watched her choose that country when she tossed a dart at a map of the world she had taped to his apartment wall.  He worried they would risk their lives in what he called that Third-World hellhole.  She called him racist.  He called himself rational.  After uttering FUCK followed by YOU, she tore down the map, crumpled it up, hurled it down at the floor, and left his apartment.  They never spoke to each other again.  She traveled to Mexico a few months later and ended up moving there; the last he heard, she had married some left-wing labor activist and started working at a non-governmental organization.  Maybe Mexico did have something.  Maybe it has subliminals.  Of course it does; they circle the globe, from the Third World to the First.

Oh, shit, the pain.  He thinks his morphine drip has broken.

Copyright © 2016 by David V. Matthews


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