Ecce Mortis: Man in the Black Suit, a True Time Defective Story

Chairman of His Own Black Suit

For a time I 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 to whom I sent 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 his black suit.

Bizarre anyway, a suit in 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?”

“That’s your apartment, directly above mine, is it not?”

“Yes,” said Man in the Black Suit.  “So, what’s your point?”

Parable of the 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 with bourbon.   What are you doing here in my apartment, drinking my cheap booze?

“I had a dream,” he said, and 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 about fifty.   Hear everything in those tenements.  I heard them.  Afterward, music.   The Dancer’s bare feet silk on hard wood floors.  Above my head.  While I was — work.   Did I mind?

On my way for beer and cigarettes when he buzzed her in.   I watched her float ghostly through the corridor, pass me on the stairs, thin as a dancer should be.   She smelled of, I don’t know, flowers or perfume.

Late in his apartment

We.  Got buzzed.  Scotch, cigars.  Old LP of Grandpa Jones: “They call it that good ol’ mountain dew/and them that refuse it are few…”

Greatest selection of country music in the world, all LP.   Fat expensive stogies.   Long relaxing smokes.  Nothing in my apartment but futon, folding chair and table, books, machine.   Man in the Black Suit said profound stuff, or stuff that sounded profound like:  “Those who can’t do, leach.”


“Do not hate, but rather use their bad energy against them.”


“If goodness can be chewy and chocolaty, who would aspire to such sticky virtue?”


“Where are the people going with their heads down? They are going to work.”


“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.   A boy on the swings chanted, “I’m going to live to be a hundred and seven yeeeaaaars old!” repeatedly.    Man in the Black Suit approached him.

“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 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,  the  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-BestBuy 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 and 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.  A blow-job every night for Dad.   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 in 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 looked in my direction and said, “He has it.”

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 sealed in a 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 rose early to some office cubicle, some cube.  Work done “home.”  Home there.  Such as.  It was.

“Neighborhood changing” newspapers proclaimed.  Up-scaling.  Shoveled out lower-incomes to build condominiums.  Targeted my building.  I didn’t worry.  I had work, I owned books.  Didn’t take much to get by. Grocery around the corner.

Didn’t go out much.  Once upon Time went out.  Once upon had women.  None stuck.  Alone work.  Alone, I worked.  Watched people leave in morning.  To offices and 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 now too.

But not  officed.   Machines connected.   I worked home.  Sometimes, despite machines, connections, I officed, met clients.  Met, talked talk. Talkety-talk.  Then home to work.

Newspapers announced, “Machines.”

Yawn world.  Did not impress me.

Once…I don’t know. Young.  Would I have minded terribly if 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, grids.   Never watched games.  Boring.  Didn’t have a 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 when 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 was neither work nor friend.

Man in the Black Suit was my subject; he was my avocation.

Not everyone an artist, you know.  Starving children, mouths open like birds.  Boswell’s nest.  The City.  Man in the Black Suit about town.  Time.  Passing. Time was.  Not unaware of disappearance.  Of pills, of bills.

Always clinging to the 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 poets said?

Advertisements, marketing proposals, copy.

The Dancer danced a million years.

Loose and alone I pedaled 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.  That was no country for Dead Men!

They, those ones, wouldn’t know a poem from shot of Novocain.

We poets and our lightening inspiration Muse.  We on our Excer-cycles peddled nowhere to 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.  Until.

If I grow cold before machines have gleaned my teaming brain…

I want a Black Suit. I want heaven.

The Staff of /dev/null is the Staff of /dev/null. Read other articles by The Staff.