Mergers and acquisitions

by John Liam McCaughan



Every dawn, I plank for an hour straight. Then, slick & trembling, I run in escalating streetlight laps to the XhaustFit class at the warehouse gym three blocks from me. Eighty-nine minutes later, I’m back in my apartment making breakfast – today (Thursday) it’s goat blood & egg whites. 3D fractal zooms, drone camera footage & reruns of the Selma Summers show play, mute, on background screens. 


In autumn, I shifted from the werewolf-alkaline-acid diet to the Paleo-Atkins stack. For the last month, I’ve been switching between the two (Paleo on Monday, Atkins Tuesday & so on) followed by fasting & a lemon enema detox on Sundays. The results have been . . . impressive. Last night at Demens/Furorem, my second favourite bar/niteclub, I could feel every beta & moistie eye on me, straight miring how truly a e s t h e t i c I’ve become. So I don’t feel too bad about yesterday’s indiscretion – the amaranth dumplings (homekill venison & hydroponic kale) at Bistro Squilibrato are so good as to be immoral. I’ll probably eat-cheat again for lunch – maybe the brown rice rolled in organic bull bladder kelp at Uchiko. 


Every morning after breakfast, I wax my shadow bald (all variation on beard & moustache is so over, dead last spring) & every fortnight I get the stylist to laser my undercut step-fade. My hair’s getting quite long, so I’ve taken to boxbraiding my topknot & gelling it straight up in a prong. Dreadlocks might vogue again, but until the fad is peak I think I’ll stay hush-hush; I’m meant to be keeping a low profile, after all. I plan to get my ink (for which I flew all the way to a genuine Yakuza scrivshaw in Shinjuku) reworked: the sleeves of waves & carp bloodied over with watercolour prismatics & double-up line vectors. To work I wear only normcore, resort pastels & splatterpaint T-shirts; at the restaurant or discotech it’s always 1929, 1987 & 2008 in simultaneous market collapse & on the street it’s a vaporwave windbreaker over a black & khaki ensemble with more than a hint of fascism. 


I start work at 10 & leave the office by 2.30 so I have time to catch a Lyft & then stand outside the animal rescue centre & watch the dogs being led out on their daily walks. Legally, the volunteer walkers can’t do anything if you’re across the road & all you do is vape & smile & wave. Yesterday, the lurcher puppy I nicknamed ‘Nibs’ smiled at me & wagged his tail & it kindled my heart. I got a promotion last week after recoding our website & app (resulting in stealthier traffic flow & better adclick revenue) so now I’m earning enough to sponsor a few extra African orphans. I’ll visit them all when I fly to Burkina Faso next month to escape the cold; I’ve always found winter in the city too sinister. 






The Selma Summers rerun this morning is about women who are attracted to food. I catch the end of the segment about a girl who has sex with pizza slices, avocados & chili con carne. On the other screen is footage of murders & executions staged in a marmalade desert, under a perfect blue sky that looks like a desktop background. 


After the break, Selma interviews acclaimed rapper, mixed media artist, fashion mogul & cultural icon Kanye West. I’ve been a big fan of ’Ye since hearing a leak of The Life of Pablo (2016) a few years back. His early albums The College Dropout (2004), Late Registration (2005) & Graduation (2007) are a little too street for my liking, a little too ethnic. It wasn’t until My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) that he really came into his own, both artistically & megalomaniacally; then, ignoring that abortive collaboration with traitor & usurper Jay-Z on Watch the Throne (2011), Kanye’s visionary seed blossomed in full with the dark yet undeniable genius of Yeezus (2013). 


Watching rerun Kanye pontificate quite rationally about the state of the world & his artistic vision, I’m moved by his candour, suddenly aware of a kinship cynics might mistake for zealotry. Selma sits bewildered in the twin armchair across from him, insensitive to his deep, unabashed sincerity & I pity her for not sharing our optimism. In the void behind my dark brother’s blank eyes, I have found a perfect mirror, bright & cosmic. 


On Kanye’s Wikipedia page, I ctrl+f ‘solipsism’, ‘derealisation’, ‘petulance psychosis’, ‘masturbatory’, ‘narcissist’ & other terms my psychotherapist has mentioned (the weekly sessions with her are a condition of my soft sentence & monitoring after what happened at PetSuppliez) but there are 0 of 0 results & I feel vindicated by this confirmation of our shared sanity. I know now that if we were to meet, Kanye & me, we’d find in each other kindred spirits. Perhaps we could collaborate. 


At first he might ignore my emails & tweets urging him to grow out his hair, but soon he’ll see we are of one mind. He will see that (even though my eyes & skin are far fairer) we are twins, a pair of mirrors, blindly shining into one another. He will grow out his topknot, ooze it long & sharpen it like my own gelled spike & we’ll form a pair of horns, one black, one white, on opposing coasts & in opposing hemispheres & as two human-sized fangs we will merge & acquire the perfect obscenity of the amalgam devil & thrusting together we will skewer the world.