Bedroom Theater (4)

By: Gabriel Chad Boyer
July 23, 2012

We first heard about Gabe Boyer in 2001, when the then-24-year-old gave a series of lectures — at Boston’s Berwick Research Institute performance lab — on romantic love, utopian thought, and causal reasoning, punctuated by his Wurlitzer noodling. In 2002, Boyer founded Bedroom Theater, a weekly happening in his apartment’s bedroom; in 2003, he took his show on a bedroom-to-bedroom tour across America. This series recounts what happened.

A Near Collision Changes Everything

Any moment the distractions in the cab surrounding would call for my utmost attention, and I would have to simply let go of the wheel so as to void my mind and my guts as well in a single blood-smeared flash of whipping neck. I was playing at suicidal with myself – like a swan out of water scampering towards the cliff’s edge – but when someone is sitting beside you, what had formerly been classified as a bit of half-hearted suicidal play pretend quickly transforms into the much more distressing homicidal variety. I wanted to commune with Jill on a basic, almost gremlin level, but the road had gotten in the way. Then I attempted to switch lanes and almost ran us straight into a semi had to careen to the left to avoid impact while blowing its horn. Jill screamed, but more than that I felt whatever vegetative connection remained between us being wrenched free from out my frontal lobe, the last remnants of our psychic connection undone. (I literally felt some growth being ripped out of my mind at that moment, and that this was Jill.)

I pulled off at the next exit, and into the first parking lot I saw, skirting round the corner of a defaced warehouse, then the skritch of gravel, a few bumps, a squeal of breaks, and I slammed the door behind me. Staring at a brick wall and the pristine blue of the sky above. I turned and lit my cigarette as I paced, back and forth in weaving threads, then inhaled a rich plume of smoke. I flicked the lighter compulsively. Weeds were sprouting up through cracks in the asphalt. The tip of my thumb was already sore.

Fuck. Fuck, I said.

Main Street was one abandoned storefront after another. A line of cruisers pulled out of a sidestreet and turned left in wing formation with periodic blips, but other than that empty. The lot where we’re parked consisted of pools of blackened gravel in an otherwise moonlike landscape. I sat down and picked up a few pebbles and flicked them at the van. I stood up, dropped my cigarette to the ground and smeared it into the crumbling asphalt with my tenny.

And Jill wouldn’t look me in the eye. She looked tired. Like when you suddenly see clearly the decisions you’ve made and where those decisions have got you, i.e. Jill had just looked Death in the Face and now she couldn’t look me in the face because I was the one who had shown her this Death with what was practically a disingenuous giggle.

I took one last walk around the parking lot, before she took the wheel, and we headed west into Texas. It got dark. Jill pulled off because we had seen a sign for camping. Neither of us had said a word for some time when we pulled into IHOP, and Jill got out without a word. I collected a few scraps of cardboard, followed her in, and ordered a large coffee to go. Jill was over there by the window staring intently at the journal she was writing in.

Then I went out to the parking lot. I chewed on beef jerky and wrote on those scraps of cardboard I’d collected, attempting to express myself to her in the form of poetry I would never show her. Then the local all-girls’ soccer team came streaming from out IHOP in force and I got distracted. They’re miming faints of drug-induced dizziness in the vicinity of our vintage VW minivan.

Their ponytails bobbed as they rocked back and forth with laughter in matching skirts.

What you filly thinks you doin, their coach called out from somewhere deep within his v-neck t-shirt, then laughed like a circus barker on his off hours. All of them were chewing gum and cavorting in a flock. While I sat there sneering at all this laughter like a regular villain by the sprinkler system nearby and dressed in nothing but a soiled windbreaker, a torn pair of khaki’s, and a pair of turquoise sandals with “Crazy Feet” written all over them in ornate script. One or two glanced in my direction nervously, and I looked down and took a sip of coffee.

I once heard an editor of a prestigious poetry magazine saying that the slew of amateur poems he receives on his desk every morning are like a harvest of severed limbs. They aren’t poems at all, he said. But pieces of a person. Like getting someone’s bloody chopped off arm in the mail. That’s what I was writing outside IHOP on the grass that night. I got up and went to the van where I found Jill annoyed because she hadn’t known where I had gone off to.

It was hot. We had parked the van in a back lot filled with semi’s, and it was stinking hot, and we were sandwiched between them, completely concealed within the larger herd of sixteen-wheelers. Every hour or so one of our neighbors would wake from its slumber with a grumble of the engine block and leave, only for another to take its place a moment later. I was tossing and turning, slick with my own sweat like lubricant. Between bouts of sleep, I imagined I was a refugee in some science fiction fantasy on the run from the forces of fate in this asphalt lot, where star cruisers dropped from the sky like over-sized tins of sardine, with my blaster by my side and stripped down to my threadbare boxers because it was so damn hot. All the while trying to force myself back into slumber like shoving my mind into a warm little bag was far too small to keep all the thoughts were ballooning out of my eyes to fill in all the corners of the past.