American Book of the Dead: Man in the Black Suit

Chairman of His Own Black Suit

For a time wrote copy the Agency freelance lived alone. Had a Man in a Black Suit. A friend. Man in the Black Suit claimed to be IMPORTANT, chairman of the board,  DataCo Inc.  Research credit of.  Research backgrounds of. Research lives of. Database, database, government monkey work.  Man in the Black Suit said I’d been recommended highly. Who had he spoken to? The Clients whom I sent my copy? But I didn’t send  to clients, only The Agency. Man in the Black Suit a liar. Chairman of nothing but his own black suit. Damn hi black suit. Bizarre, a suit  that part of town. Tenements. Rats. Chickens. Dirty children. Ubiquitous workers in and out of work night and day all-night groceries and diners. “If you’re so important, why do you live here?” I asked. “Who said I lived here?” he said. “That’s your apartment, directly above mine, is it not?” “Yes,” said Man in the Black Suit. “What’s your point?”

Parable  Dream Angel Gymnast

Man in the Black Suit haunted my doorway. Where could he sit but my futon, laid directly on the floor? The folding chair on which I work? But that was for me.  Filled two glasses bourbon. What are you doing here in my apartment, drinking my cheap booze? “I had a dream,” he said, told me the following: “My flying gymnast visits from abroad. She’s beautiful. She loves me. Straps, harnesses, pulleys, cables.  I fear for her safety. Bloodthirsty audience below, but she flies masterfully. She changes to furs and denim, and goes off to explore – I’d rather she didn’t, but I’m confident of her love. She’s out for the night. She’ll be back. I’m anxious. “I hang with the boys, old high school friends, though I don’t know them. Up in The King’s hotel suite, I take conference calls; big deal brewing; they want to screw us, but we hang tough – I want to make this sale and take my flying gymnast someplace warm… “Phone calls and counter-phone calls last hours. Anxious drinking, smoking, nothing done – I’m mortified. I want to kill myself.  “I return to the party of old friends who are strangers: I’ve failed egregiously. “My gymnast returns.  Hasn’t she heard the news?  Has she not looked at the sky and read for herself the script of my descent? Of course!  Out in the street my utter failure and ignominious defeat are common knowledge.  But she could care less about the power prattle of the City — I’m not an insect, I’m a person. “Her bronze hand leads me, step by step, to heaven…”

What was one to make of such a tale? A dream he’d  had? I thought not. A parable belched from his sad, lonely heart.

The Dancer

A woman came to his apartment. Flesh blood young. Student Dancer,  The University.  Man in the Black Suit age fifty. Hear everything in those tenements. I heard them.  Afterward, music, the Dancer’s bare feet swept hard wood floor. Above my head. While I was — work.  Did I mind? On my way  for beer and cigarettes he buzzed her in I watched her float ghostly through the corridor, passed me on the stairs,  thin as a dancer should be, smelled of,  I don’t know, flowers or perfume.

Late in his apartment

We. Got buzzed. Scotch, cigars. Old LP Grandpa Jones: “They call it that good ol’ mountain dew/and them that refuse it are few…”  Greatest selection country music in the world, all LP. Fat expensive stogies. Long relaxing smokes. Nothing in MY apartment but futon, folding table, books,  machine. Man in the Black Suit said profound stuff or sounded profound like: “Those who can’t do, leach.” and “Do not hate, but rather use THEIR bad energy against THEM.” and “If goodness can be chewy and chocolaty, who would aspire to such sticky virtue?” and “Where are the people going with their heads down? They are going to work.” and “In my youth I sowed wild words.”

Shit like that.

In the Playground

Man in the Black Suit entered the playground, women’s eyes upon him. Necks stiffened. Not supposed to be there;  no child his own. But heard a boy on the swings chant, “I’m going to live to be a hundred and seven yeeeaaaars old!” repeatedly. He approached. “Do you love life that much,  little boy?” Before the child could answer,  mothers   surrounded Man in the Black Suit. What kind of question was  that to ask a  boy? Who was this strange man?  Someone call the police. Man in the Black Suit left, avoid further commotion.

Lunch Naked

Man in the Black Suit ate a sandwich. Man in the Black Suit naked, even in his black suit.

You Won’t Have Man in the Black Suit to Kick Around Anymore.

He tried to speak; they wouldn’t listen. “They”  ghosts of erstwhile children  shells inhabited  office buildings and houses of The Nation. So Man in the Black Suit left public office. Never to return?


Get an ID. License. Gray Gap-Wendy’s-Starbucks- Duane-Reade-Barnes-and-Noble- afternoon. The bank. This bank, that one. Department of Self and Others.  Man in the Black Suit bought  identity for seven dollars. Decent photograph. Did not smile. Drank cola. Waited. Woman behind the counter summoned. His laminated card complete. Man in the Black Suit sheathed his likeness like a dagger in his wallet.

Into The Family Head

I visited my Sister and her Husband, a man of many whiskers nd hard work. Within cubes of  home clear bounds exist. Violence and Power  partitioned according to state or local custom. Morals delineated. Children  feted fed. Pizza, pasta, cereal crunchy-sweet. Appliances break. Year is One. Family is one. Dad  a blowjob every night. His due. Mother serves, though sometimes sick. Where is the God THEY promised? Where is money? Work hard. Study hard. THEY promised candy. THEY promised  feathers. Man in the Black Suit did not concatenate his lineage. Did not extend. Whatever began  past times ended with him.


Man in the Black Suit shot a man (not in a Black Suit) outside our building. The Guy got up and ran. Three bullets in him from the tiny pistol taped to Man in the Black Suit’s lower back. A gun not meant to kill but mortify. The Guy had tried to mug us. “Gimme yer money,” he said. Man in the Black Suit said, “He has it,” looked in my direction. Wanna-be-would-be mugger pointed his gun at me — BamBangBam! — Man in the Black Suit plugged him thrice. Shoulder chest thigh. The Guy collapsed. “Lose the weapon,” said Man in the Black Suit. Wanna-be-would-be  mugger tossed his gun. Bleeding  gasping Guy ran to the hospital blocks away. Read in the paper  next morning “some Guy,”  wanted on many charges, admitted himself  to ER and eventual custody police.  Gunshot wounds. Would not say how, at whose hands. Critical but stable. Slugs traced to Man in the Black Suit’s registered weapon. Went  to  police next day  told our story. Assailant’s gun in clear plastic bag. Assailant’s gun used several crimes. Man in the Black Suit hero in the papers, refused to be interviewed or press charges against Wanna-be-would-be mugger. “Problems enough,” Man in the Black Suit said of The Guy.

Study Hard

Man in the Black Suit studied Zen. Man in the Black Suit studied Yoga. Man in Black Suit meditated. Man in the Black Suit danced.

I Want I Need I Crave

Apartment.  Studio. Six-fifty a month.  Alone  get  work done.  The Network, The Machine. No longer  rise early some ffice cubicle, some cube. Work done “home.” Home there. Such as. It was. “Neighborhood changing”  read newspapers. Didn’t  notice. Up-scaling. Shoveled out  lower-incomes built condominiums. Targeted my building.  I didn’t worry. Had work,  books. Didn’t make much to get by. Grocery the corner.  Didn’t go out. Once upon Time went out.  Once upon had women. None stuck. Alone work. Watched people leave morning. Offices what not. Man in the Black Suit officed, I assumed, for he left  morning at eight returned past six. Supposed I’d be at fifty.  Alone he was. As I too. But not  officed. Machines connected. I worked home. Sometimes, despite machines, connections, I officed, met clients. Met, talked talk. Then home to work. Newspapers announced, “Machines.” Yawn world. Not impressed.  Once…I don’t know. Young. Would I have minded terribly yawn world disintegrated that instant? Rather than  prolonged? Terminal. Nothing to be done. Work, work. Books of dreams.

Dreamer my problem. Teachers said so long ago. “Dreamer,” they’d said. Read sports pages. Stats. Records. Numbers.  Conversion of deeds to data. Never watched games. Boring. Didn’t have  television. Spoke to mother on the phone until. She died disappointed. In me herself. She was not much older than Man in the Black Suit.  Spoke to my father. Competition,  deep antagonism between father and son. Natural. I needed  drink. I needed cigarettes. I needed.

I needed.

What time? Strange hours. Slept when workers went to Day. Showered  ready for work coffee brewed when poor tired masses returned. Outside my window. Good to have a window, better than television. Watched TV young. Passive mind open. Why I always wanted always wanted something not sure what. Never sure. Wanted needed craved.

To Each His Boswell and the Nevermore

Moment of vanishing. Momentary moment.  Constant. Moments passed. Man in the Black Suit would never leave. Stay moment, save moment. Perilous. Unforgiving. Forge moment, carry  moment. Look back on. Accretion. Left that place. Gone.  Forever. Forever Time oblivion. Concepts cling clang clung. Man in the Black Suit, me his Boswell. Boswell scavenged moments. Boswell and his earn machine. Connection. Living machine. Friend. Man in the Black Suit neither work nor friend.  Avocation. Subject. Not everyone an artist, you know. Starving children  mouths open  baby birds. Boswell  nest. The City.  Man in the Black Suit about town. Time. Passing. Time was. Not unaware of. Disappearance. No pills. No bills. No clinging  nevermore.

Tap, Tap, Tapping

Man in the Black Suit said, “And after we’re gone and new life again as long as the earth spins, until it stops, and the sun grows dark or big bloated red as a toe with gout, then where will your stories be, your poems, your wordy opinions? You’re a fool.”  I said, “It is pleasurable to walk the streets of the City with a buzz on, or dead drunk, for that matter. My checks from the Agency come in the mail. I must go to the bank to deposit them. I drink before going to the bank. Sometimes I linger about the shops. Stop into a deli for a beer.  Sip from a straw.”


Nothing grew. Antagonism, anomie. Peanut-butter stuff. Opinions of The Wretched. Exorcised those thoughts. Saw deep. Man in the Black suit stepped on a cupcake. Man in the Black suit polished his gun. Breathing  better knowing. Long run in the park and breathe.

The Rift

Man in the Black Suit. Refuse to speak of. Will speak (or write)  my self. How many men in black suits? How many possible? Remember old  films. Black suits abounded. Good or evil? Tailored suits, or  rack? What did poets say of men in black suits? Who cared what the poets said?  Advertisements, marketing proposals, copy.  The Dancer danced a million years. Loose and alone. Pedaling my excer-cycle, touched by genius.

No Omniscient Author None

They married not to be alone. They worked, were entertained.  They died, one at a time,  alone. Feared Life, feared Death, feared Time. What happens, happens. Wouldn’t know a poem
from shot of Novocain. Poets lightening inspiration Muse. That was no country for Dead Men! Excer-cycle peddled nowhere.  Stationary visions.

Mistuh Black Suit, He Dead

Black in the box. Color of  night.  Many gathered in the park mourned Man in the Black Suit. Many, many.  Me, another forty, fifty years until. If I grow cold before machines have gleaned my teaming brain…

I want a Black Suit.  I want heaven.

Beau Cephalus, Writer-in-Residence at /dev/null, is not afraid to speak the Truth to Power. So long as there's a viable exit-strategy. Read other articles by Beau.