Issue #55

Summer 2015

The Theory of G

by D. Harlan Wilson


Larded with fractures, Dr. Ströffe entered the manse and immediately clutched his heart. It was more than a gee-whiz overture to the night. He fell to one knee and threw back his head, punctuating the roll of fat on his lower neck. His skull glistened in the light of a low-hanging chandelier. Bored guests stared on quizzically. Dr. Ströffe balked. Fearing an attack, he smacked the thick black spectacles from his face and collapsed like an exploded tower, sinking into worn leather shoes. He fell onto his side. His jaw dropped open and a rivulet of pink vomit flowed across the white floor. It was a gesture of intimacy, if not civility, and everybody knew it. This was as close as he had ever come to a realization of the theory of G. Reeling, he turned onto his back and something like an apothegm escaped his crushed lips.


It took several minutes to irradiate the phlegm. On Tuesday, beneath an architecture of criminal voltage, Dr. Ströffe had tripped on the edge of a motel bathtub as he stepped into it; his body whirled and he struck a porcelain soap dish jutting out of the wall, breaking two ribs. The slightest clearing of the throat incited immense pain and boundless electricity. Daggers stabbed his flank without warning. If he lay down in bed, he had to exert at least 10 minutes of concerted effort and agony to get back up. Laughing, coughing, crying, singing, belching, any form of noisemaking resulted in Hell Unleashed. Talking hurt. Sometimes it hurt if he stared at an object with too much enthusiasm. The broken ribs had effectively robbed him of all emotions and modes of communiqué. He could hear the doves of greed buzzing and snapping in the rafters like mad volts. Pedestrians looked askance at him as lightning struck his spine and he contorted and writhed on the sidewalk. An ample prescription of Tramadol did little to assuage what ailed him; primarily the drug caused vertigo, which prompted him to stagger or slouch or nod off -- which, in turn, incited immense pain and boundless electricity . . . Clearly all this had something to do with the theory of G. Dr. Ströffe could see the equations and the filaments of syntax unfolding and locking together on the blackboard of his mind, but writing hurt, and typing hurt, and thinking, perhaps above all, hurt . . . He would have to wait until the ribs healed and his clarity dissolved into the ether.


Idle hegemonies waxed an immunological breakdown. It didn't work. There were no gondolas in the liquid streets, and all motorcraft had slipped into the spirit world of technicity. Oneiricana. In the latter episode, a Norwegian gunman took out a mid-list dignitary from the belfry of the Camponile, which, as the dignitary's chest exploded into slow tendrils, leaned into the wind like a bird of descent. He hadn't expected such violence. With his digital capability, he was able to process the most important deductions regarding the matter, although the cinematic connotations hardly eluded him. Nostalgia for celluloid. "But technology," he uttered into a portable audio recorder, "low or high, base or grandiose, material or immaterial, is little more than an extension of the self. The sphere of culture is thus the melting pot of selfhoods. Remember that." Across the street a child screamed in feigned peril. He recognized the nature of it, but the effect was the same: the reverie dissolved into clarity . . .


Dr. Ströffe awoke in the air. Epistemological contours immediately revealed themselves to him in the topography of the clouds. Since discontinuing Tramadol, he remained unable to achieve an erection even in the finest company. Stroboscopic sex scenes obfuscated his trains of thought and the quest for answers (there could only be multiple answers). The stewardess led him to the lavatory by the flaccid leash of his penis. He had only expected a cocktail in a plastic glass. Caught off guard, he worried that his inability to ejaculate, let alone stiffen, would be misperceived as a critique of the objective talents of the stewardess, whose lips, breasts and ass were like ripe jungle fruits waiting to be plucked and devoured. In effect, the stylization of her future actions would suffer and he would be responsible for that inefficiency. He needed to do something and devised four plans (A, B, C and X) on the spot. Seconds later he had selected plan X and when the stewardess led him into the lavatory and shut the door behind them he clubbed her in the back of the head several times with the cudgel of his elbow and then delicately returned his penis to his trousers. Back in his seat, he considered how events may have unfolded had he selected plan B (A and C were mere clay pigeons) and how, ultimately, the selection would have effected the theory of G, particularly a variable associated with the ethic of reciprocity, which Dr. Ströffe perceived more as an evil than an ethic in spite of the fact that the concepts often pointed to and achieved the same ends.


"G," so to speak, presented itself to him by "accident," as it were, materializing in the wake of an unforeseen catastrophe. It had little to do with reasonable ventures into the cultural maelstrom. But the primacy of G was decidedly extant, and viral to boot. G as the central band on the spectrum of color. G as fifth note on the fixed-Do solfège that begins on C, rendering it the dominant -- above C, a perfect fifth; below it, a perfect fourth. In the history of language, G, which was invented circa 230 B.C. by Spurius Carvilius Maximus Ruga, the dominus of the first bona fide private elementary school, functioned as a variant of C, which, at the time of G's conception, was being farmed out for both /k/ and /g/ sounds; as such, G became a rhetorical savior or messiah or sorts (if only given C's godlike importance). G as the insignia of Freemasonry (framed by the Masonic square and compass). G-force. The G-string. And so on. There were more than enough coordinates on the register to coalesce into a fluid and functional (and likely seismic) theory. Perhaps even a religion in the vein of the psychotic Dr. Schreber (sans the psychosis). He believed it to be so. Meaning can be conjured from anything, from the largest cataclysms and holocausts to the smallest spec of nothingness loitering on the roadside. This was not the case with G, a holy virus . . .


A man proceeded to clear his driveway. Over a foot of snow had accumulated the night before and it was too heavy and wet to shovel. He didn't own a snowblower but he did own a flamethrower. As he strapped on the incendiary device and ignited the pilot light, he rued the idea of not seeing his bones before he died. And his organs. The actual organs. He had seen them in his dreams, hanging from his bones like a gown of eels. He wanted to see them in reality. To hold them, inspect them. Then die . . . The neighbors fell into their yards as the driveway went up in flames. Cars crashed in the street and drove into the ponds. Mad screaming. Even the clouds seemed to contract a lunar sickness, tearing across the sky like half-slaughtered cattle as flames danced against the windows of the man's eyeballs and teeth.


The luminescent blanket of sewage hangs on the strings like a phantasm. The drainage pipe, however, weighs a thousand tons and is rotten with cancer at the core. This information is conveyed in a toilet near the gorge. Escorted by a washed-up celebrity on a moped, the horse has already traveled miles across the highway and now lays idle on the peninsula under the blazing stars, threatening to slip off and roll down the turf. They serve stale gin at the baroque restaurant where lonely fiftysomethings go to dance and reclaim the past. What about the cancer? "The pipe will have to be replaced," says a voice in the adjacent stall. "Otherwise the dirge will spread to living organisms." I hear the sad song and reply, "But the pipe is buried deep in the earth. Only the foremost silo is visible. Won't the soil eventually digest and expel the virus?" Only a Dream can answer the Sphinx. And the likelihood that a salient Dream will rear itself is a longshot. Dreams are the only real truths and yet they reveal lies at every turn.


Detumescence . . . Tumescense! . . . Sound of an impaled zeppelin. . . . I stumble upon an emergency life form and the mist is utterly hostile, threatening to valorize existence while mangling bystanders. The malleability of precincts moonlights as the antidote. That is de facto voodoo. A birdflock makes shapes in the sky. First rule of life: one's death isn't real until it's fictionalized by the media . . . Delirium tremens. The absence of the pull of gravity diminishes the shakes but nothing can be done about the hyperirritability, the high blood pressure, the dry heaves, the diaphoresis, the insect hallucinations . . . High measures of benzos yield loud moths and public toilet-going. In the dirt, grandmother stares disapprovingly through broken pince-nez. And yet I am the one who continues to rot . . . Dr. Ströffe has, by way of G and its concerted exhumation, slipped into the realm of mythology, a metaphor of expression that, like the science fiction genre's various representations of the Space Age, clings to its identity via historical amnesia and the quest to reclaim memory, a failed endeavor from the outset. Dr. Ströffe can only try to fuck his way out of the hole he has dug for himself. It is all a proper human being can do. Right now he has kidnapped a hooker and strangled her pimp with a stethoscope, posing as a rogue general physician. The hooker is attracted on some molecular level to Dr. Ströffe but she would never dare confess such a thing to a John, even if she knew how to quantify and articulate the weird collisions and pile-ups of her molecules. He penetrates her and she emits a birdlike sigh of relief. He doesn't care. He isn't even thinking about the thrust of his argument. Rather, he is thinking: The universe was created by a man in a cheap suit. That is what it boils down to: subatomic particles and poorly stitched-together fabric with frays at the seams. And a man with superpowers -- or at least a working knowledge of science. Only facts can be bartered for fiction, and fiction is a bad trade, even in large quantities. The news is never wrong . . . When the sky makes faces, it typically has to do with the badinage of my unconscious, which worships an all-play-no-work ethos. My consciousness has the stamina and competence of an arthritic earthworm. There is no preconscious. Thank god for the superego; otherwise I would backslide into psychopathy like a primordial ape-man, swinging from vines and having a good time shitting on the armadillos in the underbrush below. Then: abiogenisis. Now we have completely regressed and returned to the Beginning. There is no Word here. Furthermore, it is Dr. Ströffe's right to situate his bed on the roadside atop a hill that slopes down to the containment shelter. He tucks in the sheets and smooths out the wrinkles and fluffs the pillow and retires to the verandah, searching for an antiquarian that owes him a considerable debt. The arcade is a madhouse, shoppers scuttling up and down the narrow passages couverts toting satchels of iridescent memorabilia as gaslights blaze overhead . . . He can't find the antiquarian. He returns to the bed and a businessman has usurped it; kneeling on the mattress behind a portable bureau, he has remade the bed into an office. He tells Dr. Ströffe it is his right to do so. I swoop in like a fallen curtain and make a deal with a sideliner who without delay convinces the businessman to leave. I study the sheets. They are in a state of disarray; ink stains and pencil shavings litter the pillowcase. Later I try to fuck a berserk real estate agent in the cottage -- her legs creak like the French doors of a haunted house when I spread them apart -- but my mother and her companion emerge from the wine cellar and my mother berates the real estate agent while the family sits down to dinner and pretends to untangle the knots in their genetic code.


In the mirror, I can see my neck slouching into chicken skin. In the anechoic chamber, I can hear the gray whiskers growing, crawling through the pores of my chin. My remaining senses have failed me. When I repel into the brothel and confiscate whores, there is no feeling in my cock, and my tongue falls from my skull like a ribbon of dust. It smells like foreshock. Beyond the arc of mortality, a primate waits to be born. They bury the fetus beneath a garden of yard art. There are primates in every insterstice. And archbishops. They stand behind the lecterns in full regalia eating jungle fruit and uttering mumbled homilies as the congregations doodle cold reckonings in the handouts. In time: accidental carnage. The blast makes my eyeballs rattle in my head like painted marbles. The paranoia of old men surges to the periphery. They worry that their entrails will spill out of their backsides and that certain interlopers will be responsible for the act. Nusquam. The thesis of modernity is more like a crank call than a grand mal assertion. The koalas' hands burn blue flames when they fall out of the tree. In an alternate universe, a plainclothes Officer of the Lieu slips into the lavatory at the Delta Club to look in the mirror. Rationale: it's free. On the promontory people willingly step to the edge so that a Scharfrichter can throw them off. They fall to their deaths like holy toads.


Lagged with friction, Dr. Ströffe tossed aside the shovel and entered the ditch. But he was already in the ditch -- from the balcony, several guests assured him of the truth with cryptic hand signals and retail glances. Moreover, there was no shovel, and no digging had been done. The ditch was artificial. In fact, there was no ditch. The further we seek G, the further we move away from Identity. I did this in the wake of divorce, cracked ribs, ripped-apart skin, jaundiced eyewhites and limitless emotional turmoil. Dr. Ströffe provided little comfort. He just wanted me to copyedit his figures and santize the diorama of his innocent heal-all as the scars of history unpeeled from his fingers and rose to the ceiling like smoke signals. It was a simple matter of primal fear. Everybody knew it. And nothing could be done to stop the eclipse of theory by pornography. This has always been the case. Nothing buries uncertainty like a machete of truth.

Author Bio

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D. Harlan Wilson is an award-winning, critically acclaimed novelist, short story writer, editor, literary critic and English professor. His work has appeared in the pages of The Cafe Irreal four times previously, and his story "Giraffe" was included in our print anthology, The Irreal Reader -- Fiction and Essays from The Cafe Irreal (Guide Dog Books 2013). He can be visited online at and