I Am Chuck Palahniuk's Inner Ear

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    Had my girlfriend Rachel ever mastered the fine art of driving a stick shift I never would have met Chuck Palahniuk, much less sing two-part harmony with him on “I’ll Cover You” from our prison’s annual production of Rent.

    Well, it isn’t actually Rent every year. One year it was La Boheme.

    So I guess I should thank Rachel for that. She is the love of my life, but damned if her Size 11 gunboats aren’t always stomping down on the wrong pedal. I ran out of that bank and all I heard were sirens…and our car coughing like a black lung victim.

    I was looking at five years minimum; I had a couple trumped up possession with intent to distribute charges on my record, and I got it. I was scared shitless when the verdict was read: I was to be sent upstate to the maximum security prison; where all the violent and dangerous motherfuckers go.

    Naturally I became a violent and dangerous motherfucker myself. But I never got in to any trouble. I kept to myself and read a lot. I read everything, from the expiration date on my morning carton of milk to the ‘do not remove’ tag on my pillow at night (which, FYI, does not really prohibit the removal by the owner of said pillow).

    I hung out at the library as much as I could, and was there the day I heard that a library trustee named Chuy got shanked. I later come to find out that Chuy was a corruption of the name “Jesus,” and that his martyrdom allowed me to replace him in the library. Being in the library was my salvation.

    I had access to stacks of Steven King, Tom Clancy novels as thick as a Filet Mingon, mountains of Michener, and even a quick romp through the windswept worlds of Nora Roberts and her ilk. I even read all seven of the Rod McKuen poetry books the library had. Hey, it gets real slow some times.

    One day I am sorting through a box of donations (mostly John Jakes, with a few dust jacketless W.E.B. Griffins in the mix) when I came across a copy of Choke, one of Chuck’s novels. This was a rare event indeed; a pearl that was plucked out of a sea of maudlin mediocrity. I stashed the book aside and figured I would savor it; perhaps reading just a few pages at a time before lights out. Then I decided to wait until Christmas Eve to start reading it. It would be my present to myself. And that way at least I had one, you see what I’m sayin’?

    I enjoyed the privileged status of being the Librarian at the prison. After I had salted away enough time at the library I had planted a few seeds, and one had come to fruition: a guest speaker night once a month. At first we could only book local writers of the male persuasion and lesbian poets, but we upped our game and started inviting authors of national renown. Suffice to say, we didn’t send out invites to, let’s say, the Tess Gerritsons and Jodi Piccoults of the literary world- their appearance would start a forest fire from all the whittling dicks in the audience- but rather concentrated on the Nelson DeMilles and Clive Cusslers; men with just a hint of power-bottom bear in them.

    Well our little literary events started to attract some attention, and everything was looking good until we booked E. Annie Prouxl. We though she was a safe choice, and some of the boys really liked her Montana stories, so we jumped at the chance to have her come inside the yard. We just didn’t know about her penchant for public exhibitionism. She was a flasher. It could have been the booze, she did have the faint smell of fermented potatoes about her, but whatever the cause it was quite night. Needless to say, after the bedlam quieted down there were no more guest speakers to be had.

    Autumn turned in her cruel way, our dreary grey world turned white with snow, and we all set in for another winter. I laid down on my rack that Christmas Night and said a little prayer for all of us there at the joint, and then cracked open Choke. The book appeared unread, and I hadn’t read a new book in years, so I was euphoric. I immersed myself in the book, the pages numbers a blur as I read on, forsaking my vow to only read a few pages I soldiered on, lighting a candle after the guards extinguished the flitting phlorescent lights overhead.

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⏰ Last updated: Jul 07, 2012 ⏰

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