Above western France, James Franco tumbled (more sucked out actually) from a C-82 cargo plane and spinning, spinning, through strands of torn cotton, whirls of luggage-shaped clouds, flakes of snow, soups and footballs and marshmallows and wispy, white ropes like the starting cords of mowers, etc., etc., spinning, falling (140 mph now) and down below is another James Franco and below him another James Franco and another James Franco and another James Franco and another James Franco and another James Franco—imagine a flashing mobile in the sky (though devoid of wires, obviously), abstract shapes, some spray of heavy coins (or maybe horseshoes?) flung down from the heavens, tumbling, spinning, falling:
France? wondered the first James Franco. I hope they have the fizzy water. The fizzy water is never the same elsewhere. Ah, France. So special, and don’t they know it…the odd paradox is that France thinks it’s the tutor to the world, yet it has never really believed it can be imitated. “What are your thoughts on the paradox?” he yelled out to the second James Franco, spiraling far below.
This was of course absurd: to parachute is an incredibly loud activity. And anyway the second James Franco was wondering about Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky had seen him win a few kopeks one evening at the roulette table and thought James Franco had a system. James Franco had no system. He just drank white wine from a coffee mug and played all the red numbers for no reason greater than he liked apples, especially Bismarcks (which are Australian and damn near impossible to find at a reasonable price). Nevertheless, coatless and shivering in the hissing snow since he’d lost all his outer clothing to gambling, Dostoevsky stalked James Franco all over St. Petersburg. Finally, one day in the Café Babushka, James Franco exploded: “There is no system! It’s math. You lose because it’s math! No one in the world can defeat math! It’s like Time or Bob Costas—it cannot be defeated! Believe me, believe me”—here James Franco dropped to one knee while his face fell into an agonizing state of self-combustion—“I’ve tried…believe me…”
Dostoevsky was moved. He was just about to ask James Franco if he could borrow money for a cup of tea (it was for roulette), but seeing such a forlorn James Franco in his dark saṃghāti (a type of robe preferred by Buddhist monks of eastern Japan) and his camouflage New Balance running shoes, Dostoevsky felt great pity, so kept silent and went home to lightly edit a novella.
The third James Franco wandered his tongue over his second molar—it throbbed from eating so much popcorn at Comic-Con.
The fourth James Franco touched a long, red, rumpled scar beneath his nipples and wondered about Brown Blob (it was actually a mammoth), as it neared over the tundra grass. (A Pliocene memory Pliocenely remembered…) James Franco thought BROWN BLOB OUCH STICK ROUND STICKY JUICE SOUND SOUND FIRE BLOB YOW!
House, house…the fifth James Franco wondered, then to that other, much different word, home, home…will I ever return? And where is it?
The sixth James Franco wondered if Napoleon even opened the cheese basket.
The seventh James Franco wondered about Baudelaire, Genet, Celine, and Batman.
The eighth James Franco had finances on his mind, specifically a bounced check and a faulty clutch on a Subaru…
The ninth James Franco wondered this: VISUAL MATCH-CUT ACTION VISUAL MATCH CUT EXTENDED MATCH DISSOLVE CUT SMASH CUT STEADICAM CUT MOTIVATED LIGHTING FLASHBACK REALISTIC SOUND CUT WIDE-ANGLE PAN VISUAL-MATCH CUT BALANCE IMBALANCE CUT.
(A V of geese slid by his spinning form, horns blowing.)
The tenth James Franco pulled on his ripcord and pulled on his ripcord and pulled-on-his-ripcord!
Not really wondering much about anything at all.
Sean Lovelace lives in Indiana, where he teaches in the creative writing program at Ball State University. His latest collection is about Velveeta and published by Bateau Press. He recently edited a book for James Franco (New Michigan Press). He has won several national literary awards, including the Crazyhorse Prize for Fiction. He likes to eat nachos and to run, far.