Michael Disend’s

Featuring Penman,
master hypnotist to the stars

“How do I know what you’re telling me isn’t a bunch of deballed vegan bullshit?” asked Billy Walnut skeptically. “I just downed one hundred and seventy-three buffalo wings at Wing Bowl XIV in Philadelphia. I didn’t need hypnosis for that gobble.”

“What a big heroic mouth you’ve got,” replied Penman admiringly. “Cracking the wings in half the way you did, then sucking the meat off. Brilliant! I’d never seen anything like it!”

“You were there?” Billy looked surprised. “You came all the way from San Francisco for the Wing Bowl? Really?”

“Of course I was there,” replied Penman. A look of grave sincerity crossed the face of the master hypnotist. “I’m a long-time competitive eating devotée. There’s no way I’d miss the Wing Bowl.”

Penman sat up in his chair and looked around Sushi Rock, a crowded rock ’n roll joint on Polk Street where they’d arranged to meet, glad that he’d researched the Wing Bowl and found it normally attracted about 20,000 live spectators. No way Billy Walnut would catch his harmless fib.

“We need more wasabe,” he said, signaling the waiter. He noticed that Walnut appeared more trusting now, ripe for induction.

“That was a tough night,” admitted Billy Walnut, with a brooding look. “I had a pulled jaw muscle and kept seeing chickens cursing me out.”

“Where’d you see the cursing chickens?” asked Penman. “In what context?”

“Flying around my head, round and round, like in … you know … circles?”

“Is that so?” asked Penman, disguising his eagerness with studied professional indifference and a long menu gaze. This could be the moment of opportunity he’d been waiting for — the way the waiter was waiting. “We’ll have twelve Spicy Salmon Rolls, nine Mango Tuna Rolls, eleven Umeshiso Rolls, and … let’s see … fourteen TNT Rolls.”

“Whoa, Nellie!” yelled Billy Walnut. “That’s a lot of sushi! Man’s on a tongue roll!”

Tongue roll. Hmm, thought Penman, former sports journalist turned hypnotherapist. Never heard that one before. It figures competitive eaters would have their own jargon.

He mingled the last of the wasabe with soy sauce and looked toward Billy Walnut, whose kisser was still troubled, as if he’d just chomped into his thirty-second hot dog — almost there, almost the winner — and discovered it was really a gorilla cock coated with tabasco sauce or the severed middle finger of a Polk Gulch condo developer dunked in milk chocolate — maybe that shithead charging $2500 a month across from Sushi Rock for a miniature one-room hovel. Exploitative motherfucker should be drawn and quartered, reflected Penman, a politically conscious San Franciscan.

“Tell me about your thoughts and feelings in the last 24 hours,” he continued in a benign therapeutic tone. “Since our conversation.”

“You mean since we talked on the phone?”


“So far my response to the hypnosis has been pretty good,” said Billy. “But I haven’t felt the post-hypnotic suggestions yet.”

“We didn’t do hypnosis on the phone,” replied Penman, alarmed. “We just made an appointment to meet. Post-hypnotic suggestions from whom?”

“From another hypnotist.”

“I see. You didn’t tell me that. “

“Yeah,” said Billy Walnut, “two years ago. We worked on my farting problems that started around when I beat Sonya Thomas.”

“Ranked #2 in the world and you did her in at the fried asparagus eating contest in Stockton,” interjected Penman quickly, proud of his homework.

“Right. I call them Sautéed Death Knell Mohammeds.”

Penman leaned back in his chair, suddenly at a loss for words, which was rare.

“What do you call Sautéed Death Knell Mohammeds?”

“The fried asparagus,” replied Billy softly. “And I never told anybody that before.”

Penman considered carefully before replying. “Might be wise to keep it that way, Billy. You don’t want your throat slit.”

Penman noticed he was also speaking more softly now, and looking around to see if they were being overheard. Christ, is this what free speech in the West has become? You can call the president a nazi jerkoff and sleep easy, but label a vegetable a Sautéed Death Knell Mohammed and they’ll burn you alive. Even the Pope’s kissing ass.

“And my world record for waffle eating …,” continued Walnut.

“Eighteen and a half eight-ounce waffles in ten minutes,” announced Penman, but cautiously now.

“Yeah. Them, the waffles. I call my world record The Crunchy Sugar-Coated Asphyxiating Wall Of Birth And Death. I don’t know where these names come from, Mr. Penman. And my world record for pork ribs …”

“Five and a half pounds of pork rib meat devoured in twelve minutes. Chinook Winds Casino..”

“Yeah, Mr. Penman, right. That world record I call The Able To Grab And Bite Hell Of Constant Burning. It’s like they come to me, these names, and sometimes, sometimes” — Billy Walnut looked a bit embarrassed — “I got to tell you … sometimes, I talk in tongues …”

“Hmmm,” said Penman, fascinated by the subconscious cascade of buddhist, demonic, islamic, and pentecostal imagery. “Hmmm. Can you tongue-talk … like, you know, on demand?”

Billy nodded, closed his eyes, and Penman watched the kid’s expression transform from that of a kickass speed-eating champ to something akin to a moonstruck, eerily radiant Joan of Arc hearing the voice of an angel of the Lord Almighty in battle.

And then Billy was rattling away, three octaves higher: “… sandwich-booly-meat-a-fooly-gravy-doughtnut-buttery-booly-caca-caca-crazy-weemy-weemy-stuffy-wuffy-corned-beef-’n-cabbage-borscht-and-beanies-stuff-my-gullet-feed-the-worms-feed-me-feed-me-worms-wormy-wormy-feed-the-worms-ooobah-ooobah-munchy-munchy —”

Stopping now, soaked in sweat was Billy Walnut, almost whispering, “And then I get kind of pumped and excited and I hear a voice, a little voice saying, ‘Bite down hard, Billy. Bite it, bitch,’ and it helps me win. But I get scared, too.”

He sat up, wiped his brow, and polished off a Mango Tuna Roll with evident pleasure.

“So what do you think, Mr. Penman?”

Penman poked a finger in his right ear, wriggled it around, inspected the results, and deposited them on the underside of his chair.

“Well, it’s not talking in tongues — or glossolalia, as it’s commonly called.”

Billy Walnut sat up straight, glaring at Penman.

“Then what the hell is it?” he asked angrily. “That’s not me talking. It’s the Holy Spirit coming through me!”

A wise inner counsel urged Penman to nod and smile tentatively. But as a world-class hypnotist, Penman was used to dishing out suggestions, not taking them — even from himself. “It sounds like food-related gibberish to me, Billy. I didn’t catch a scent of the divine.”


“Yes, tongues, in this instance, means a language unknown to the speaker containing secrets of heaven … if my understanding is correct.” That last spoken with therapeutic and theological gravitas.

Billy Walnut’s eyes bulged. He looked like he wanted to throttle Penman.

“My name is William Christian Jaws Walnut,” he said slowly with great emphasis on Christian and Jaws, “and I hold five competitive eating world titles. When it comes to magnifying Yahweh through food, I know my way around. Gibberish my ass! I was talking in tongues.”

This time Penman did nod and smile tentatively, although he suspected Walnut’s mediocre mumblings to be some sort of clever self-promotion campaign targeting goyim of all stripes, ranging from the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship to the Union Theological Seminary. And who could blame the guy? That’s what it took to build a career these days. But it was wrong. Morally wrong.

Penman had to stop him.

He said, “Perhaps you’ve been engaged in tongue abuse, Billy, and this is a way for your Inner Healing Power to send you an important message — which you and I can decipher together through hypnosis.”

Then Penman smiled very brightly.

“Tongue abuse,” murmured Billy Walnut. “Tongue abuse …”

Billy Walnut’s hostile facade softened, although the relaxation of facial muscles and nerves seemed more a sinking into despair than comfort or ease.

“Maybe you’re right, Mr. Penman,” he said mournfully. “I definitely got issues.”

And Penman, ripened by years of meditative training and hypnosis and a shitload of suffering his own self, just about overflowed with compassion as he saw that William Christian “Jaws” Walnut, from San Jose California, who’d had major feature articles written about him in the SF Chronicle and tons of national media exposure besides, was in the thick of a spiritual dilemma of the utmost importance — certainly for America, which had been captured by a dark whirlwind of polluted binge eating, maybe even for all mankind. Because Penman, spiritual aspirant maximus, recognized that the Hand of a Higher Power was upon the nation’s fastest-rising competitive eating star with a message that might help save the Land of Stars and Stripes from the Corporate Oligarchy and return Self Government to the semi-literate (if that) masses.

Then the waiter arrived with their Mango Tuna Rolls, and Penman forgot what he had been thinking. “Dig in, Billy,” he said.

Billy Walnut reached across and delicately picked up nine pieces of Mango Tuna Roll between thumb and forefinger and fired them into his mouth all at once. One bite and they vanished down the hopper. And he hadn’t even dipped them into the green mustard and soy sauce.

A stone pro, thought Penman, duly impressed.

“You think hypnosis can really help me, Mister Penman?” asked Billy, belching slightly but covering his mouth like a gentleman.

Penman ground a piece of Mango Tuna Roll into the right side of his jaw where he still had some upper teeth, the rest having been knocked out in brawls, and paused tendentiously, somewhat like a northern California Episcopalian bishop reminding us that each and every form of sexual expression, including fucking a blind hermaphroditic raccoon up the ass with a giant dildo, is totally legitimate as long as each loves the other, and to think otherwise is Blue State bigotry or Red State reaction.

“Billy, let me explain. Your subconscious mind is a warehouse of memory and experience and also a kind of radar unit for messages from a higher power, known variously as Jesus Two Gun Christ or Flying Saucers Over Twin Peaks or Don’t Mock Me Muthafucka Allah or My Girlfriend Knows Everything. You know, a sort of self-correcting harddrive, which, although impersonal and not evangelical in nature, will — when conditioned properly — always help you.”

But Billy Walnut looked bored as Penman prattled on, with his standard how-hypnosis-works rap, the attempts at witty instruction going nowhere, and soon the young star’s eyes were rambling around Sushi Rock where music was blaring and everybody seemed to be having a great time the way you can in San Francisco if you’re young and Asian and don’t give a fuck about global warming or Bushitler, thought Penman.

Billy’s roving gaze stopped at a table of a dozen — perhaps fifteen — highly attractive young women, all giggling and cute with lots of ivory midriff showing and pitch-black hair fluttering and two young guys with them, silently docile, knowing that at the end of the night there could be duly rewarded ecstasies in the neighborhood of Twentieth Avenue and Clement if they played their cards right, so who wouldn’t?

They were all having a fantastic time. Penman saw “Jaws” Walnut staring at the flotilla of beauties with envy and, yes, sadness.

“I can eat all those girls under the table,” he blurted out resentfully.

“Why don’t you, then?” advised Penman.

“What do you mean?” asked Billy. He looked puzzled.

“I mean,” said Penman, suddenly forgetting his professional role as hypnotherapist to the stars, “why not crawl under the table and eat out all those babes?” He followed that with a braying laugh and realized instantly that he’d made a monstrous mistake.
His spiritual cachet was gone.

Walnut stared at Penman like he was from Uzbekistan and wore a loose over-shirt woven of lamb intestines. His nerdish Irish-Italian face didn’t crack a smile, and the look was not all that friendly on top of it. He signaled the waiter.

“Can you play a tune for me?”

The waiter looked at Billy Walnut, and Penman witnessed a dawning of media recognition. And he became even more uneasy.

“No. Sure. Maybe,” said the waiter.

“Okay. Going the Distance — the theme from Rocky.”

“It’s Billy Walnut!” screamed the waiter, and Penman sensed heads turning throughout Sushi Rock as the competitive eating star’s name echoed across the room.

In a minute the uplifting melody was booming and Penman wished he were someplace else. Walnut leaned across the table. He looked tougher now. Much tougher.

“I’m disgusted with you, Mr. Penman. You called me up. You said you could help me with hypnosis after I lost the world hot dog eating title by two dogs to that fucker Kobayashi. You said hypnosis could do the trick. You said you’d trained all kinds of champions. You called and you called and finally I agreed to meet you, right?”

“Yeah, sure, and —”

“Never mind!” snapped Walnut. “And then you make a joke like that! Like that! A dirty biased joke! Involving eating! E-A-T-I-I-N-N-G-G-G!! Eating, which I hold sacrosanct. Do you know who I admire, Mr. Penman? Do you know who my heroes are?”

Penman did, of course, since they’d been listed in the Chronicle article. But he just shook his head, in alignment with the Ericksonian hypnotherapeutic teaching of follow and lead, lead and follow.

“Nelson Mandela!” yelled Billy Walnut. “Mahatma Gandhi, Lech Walesa, and Jack Kerouac!” He leaned back in his chair with his arms crossed. “What do you think of that, Mister Penman? Me, Billy Walnut, with heroes like that, and you cracking filthy jokes about me on my knees devouring vaginas like they were grilled cheese sandwiches! For which I also hold a world record.”

Penman weighed the odds. Wriggle out of this one and maybe get a world-class hypnosis client for his ever growing — although currently threadbare — roster of champions. Or, or, or …

“Tell you what, Billy. You can smear Lech Walesa with mayo, sprinkle chunks of diced Kerouac on top mingled with slices of braised Gandhi, and shove both of them up Nelson Mandela’s sagging cuckolded black ass. And on top of that, I could eat you under fifteen fucking tables loaded with deli goodies, you overrated San Jose dipshit! I’m a Jew, and what we know from eating goes back five thousand years!”

Billy Walnut’s eyes seemed as big as platters now, which was fitting, and for some reason there was no longer the theme from Rocky playing and the manager from Sushi Rock was standing over them asking what was wrong, but Walnut brushed him away and leaned closer to Penman.

“Fressers,” he said.

“Huh?” asked Penman.

“Fressers. Guys who fress. Big eaters. It’s Yiddish.”

“I know it’s fucking Yiddish!” snapped Penman.

“I learned that at the Potato Latke World Eating Championship in Cleveland in 2004 where I almost got the title but was whipped by Butch Lambert, a Southern Baptist who later became a Jew in a black hat.”

“What the hell are you talking about? A Jew in a black hat? What is this, a cowboy movie?”

“Yeah, real religious Jew he became, singing and dancing kind of guy, and then I saw lots of Jews were big eaters throughout history. Like FDR …”

“FDR was not Jewish,” interrupted Penman.

“His grandmother was! And Cary Grant’s mother! And Robert De Niro! And all of them could eat like me — big eaters, champs. And I felt sorry for you Jews, eating like that, and what the world thinks of you now.”

Penman was electrified. Billy Walnut — speaking of the Jews and eating and the world. With a stern look on his face, almost accusatory toward Penman.

There would be a price to pay here. There surely would.

“Let me tell you something, Walnut. I don’t need to practice three nights a week — like you do. I don’t need to build up my jaws and stomach — like you do. And I sure the fuck would never eat 79 cents a pound so-called ‘generic’ hot dogs like you do — whatever the fuck they’re made of. Wrapped in Wonder Bread! I’m a Jew and there has never been a table set in the history of the Jewish people where we didn’t just grab and eat without waiting for everybody else to go oooh-oooh-oooh because we’re Jews, and we know every meal may be our last!”

“You got that part right,” responded Billy Walnut snidely.

Penman slammed his fist on the table.

“Let’s throw down right now!” And he wasn’t talking about duking it out with Billy Walnut, who stood around 6 foot 2 and weighed in at 230, a guy around twenty-four or something, no big tough dude. But having it out gastrointestinally. Mouth-wise.

“Throw down and THROW UP, you mean,” cried Walnut. “You’re in for it now, Mister Fresser! Soooooo-sheeeeeeeee!!”

And that’s how the now-legendary Polk Gulch Gulp Sushi Speed Eating Contest came about in an early year of the new century.

In a few minutes, the door to Sushi Rock was locked — no small feat, as this was Friday night — and their table was surrounded by reverent young Asians, mostly Japanese it seemed to Penman, and a couple of smirking yuppies and a few grey-haired ex-hippie types, around Penman’s age, who were looking at him with idealistic hopefulness, a political miracle in the offing, like Boy Dylan made Dictator For Life.

The rules were simple, but a little different than the normal eat-until-you-explode-in-a-timed-round format. This was San Francisco, after all, where enlightened cultural values prevail.

Each contestant had his pick of sushi and the amount of each serving. They’d compete by the numbers. Add ’em up at the end of the night — or until one guy caves.
And then the startlingly debonair Sushi Rock manager, who resembled a Japanese Gavin Newson — frighteningly so — and introduced himself as Cool Guy Six Thousand, was by their side once more, in a tuxedo now, as if he’d quickly changed in the bathroom. He handed each of them a huge ornate scroll sheathed in leather.

“Mr. Penman, Mr. Walnut, you may also choose from this, the secret pride of Sushi Rock. ”Both contestants unrolled their scrolls, and their jaws fell open simultaneously. Carefully written on parchment in ornate calligraphy was a description of hundreds, possibly thousands, of specialized sushi and sashimi offerings, delicacies that few sentient beings would ever have the honor of devouring.

“Sushi Rock-out!” cried Cool Guy Six Thousand.

Suddenly there was music again — Going the Distance, but other tunes as well. Japanese reggae, which Penman loved, and stern Mexican gangbanger music and strange sounds like Iraqi children and polar bears smashing stained-glass windows — to Penman, anyway — artfully blended in a jubilant pastiche, some kind of progressive amalgamated rock you might hear at Bottom of the Hill or Top of the Mark or in a place which was never quiet and tranquil but filled with screeching happiness, a circus perhaps, yes, a sushi circus ringing a death-sport competitive eating match.

Several Asian kids began to dance, and Penman noticed two of the old hippie types had tied hankies around their foreheads like they were bikers.

“Go, Mister P!” cried one, grinning at Penman as if they’d boogied together at Woodstock, and giving him the V-fingered peace sign. And Penman grinned back, snapping his fingers, feeling like a complete and total fake, a schmuck.

Penman, the elder of the two heroes, ordered first: six Spider Rolls, composed of soft shell crab, avocado, tobiko, and onion.

They vanished down Billy Walnut’s throat faster than an American eagle can blink. But for Penman, under two minutes is the best one could say. For, try as he may, he found himself chewing, a terrible handicap.

Walnut chose next, keeping it simple: six Asparagus Rolls — which he didn’t call Sautéed Death Knell Mohammeds, thank God — and they vanished in an instant, and Penman began to sweat a little, as well as noticing a disturbing nudgy kind of pain in his chest just behind his right nipple.

Uh oh, he thought, that guy.

Tamago Rolls — fourteen each — followed. Then Poki Rolls. And Penman was feeling dizzy and swayed a little.

“You okay, Mr. Penman?” asked Billy Walnut with an impudent grin, as Cool Guy Six Thousand refilled Penman’s glass with water and a beautiful young Japanese girl, unasked, raised it to his lips.

“You’re goddamn right I’m okay,” snarled Penman, gulping the water. “A Jew doesn’t quit eating. He doesn’t quit, period.”

“Yeah, yeah, you Jews,” said Walnut. “Your turn to order.”

Then appeared Dragon Rolls, Dynamite Rolls, Sexy Rolls, Sean Penn Sashimi, Boston Rolls, and Alaska Rolls — composed of avocado and ebi with salmon, normally one of Penman’s favorites but now tasting like molten copper mixed with pus. And Penman desperately thought, “These are just manifestations of my own mind,” seeking refuge in Dharma although none was apparently to be had.

Another round of sushi ordered and polished off, primarily by Billy, who was lithe and abrupt and fabulous, while Penman slogged along, the bile rising. Then another grand order of delights wrapped in seaweed, bits of sea animals, veggies, fruits, seeds, and spices. And another. And one more after that, all colorful and tiny and increasingly evil in Penman’s estimation.

Billy slamming them down his throat like pool balls into the side pocket, or Jews machine-gunned by the thousands falling into Ukrainian death pits, or seagulls swooping into the bay, fishing for alewives. And Penman felt the sushi dropping down through his throat like so many sins and departed relatives and books started but never finished, those books he’d once read all the way through, now just skimmed because there wasn’t enough time left to live and read them all.

There came a rapping on the Sushi Rock window. Penman looked toward Polk Street and was taken aback by the size of the crowd. He recognized David from the Royal Ground coffee shop, who was grinning away and giving him the high sign, sweet guy, David, as were all the loafers and chain-smoking bums who sat out in front all day, now rooting for Penman they were — not a bad bunch, really, thought Penman, who normally disdained them as pathetic hungry ghosts lost in a corridor of unrequited cravings.

Then a shapely woman with the haughty face of a countess elbowed her way through the crowd and rapped sharply on the window three times.

“Leah! Leah! It’s Leah!” Penman heard the bunch of excited female voices.

More rapping on the glass from the broad, with gestures demanding entry at once.

Cool Guy Six Thousand adjusted his tuxedo and was heading toward the door when Penman grabbed his arm.

“Who’s that? What are you doing?”

“Leah Grumchik. Gossip queen. Chronicle. She write about sushi contest.”

“No fucking way,” objected Penman. “I want it private!”

But Cool Guy Six Thousand jerked his arm loose and welcomed Leah Grumchik into his domain, then braced himself against the door in order to lock it again. The crowd, Penman could tell by a glance, was growing bigger and more ornery. Leah sat down with a smirk across from Penman and opened her long reporter notebook, pen at the ready.

“Billy Walnut! Billy Walnut! Bill-eeeeeeeeee!!”

Now a gang of Tenderloin low-lifes, pimps and thugs, all dressed in warm-up suits, were rapping on the glass and hooting. Billy punched the air victoriously.

“Mr. Penman, are you a zionist?”

Penman gawked at Leah Grumchik.

“What? A zionist? What the fuck does that have to do with anything?”

“Well, are you?”

“Well, yeah, well, I’m a Jew. I support Israel. Does that matter … here?”

He belched in Leah Grumchik’s face.

“Jeez, I’m sorry, Ms. Grumchik.”

She brushed it away.

“I’m a journalist, Mr. Penman: a fighter for truth. I’ve been through worse than undigested sushi fumes. What I want to know is why you’ve made this a contest between the … let’s say … ‘chosen eaters’ … and a man who is a distinct local favorite and whose middle name is ‘Christian’. As it were.”

Penman was flummoxed, as Billy Walnut inserted himself. “Look, lady, we’re in the middle of a sporting event between two fressers, so cool it, yenteh.” And he winked at Penman, who thought, “Wow, yenteh. The Yiddish word for a woman who never stops talking — a real blabbermouth — coming from Billy ‘Jaws’ Walnut.” And the two contestants smiled at each other warmly, the way boxers bond in the ring and thoroughbreds sometimes kiss each other in the stable later after the race, and Leah Grumchik just snarled and scribbled, meaning Billy might get some bad press on the back page of the Metro section or wherever her column appears.

“Your turn, Mister P,” said Billy Walnut politely.

Penman flipped through the ornate Sushi Rock secret menu, wishing he were home reading a book, any book, the Bible, or Buddhist sutras, or even The Da Vinci Code — piece of shit — or sitting in front of his failing Mac Powerbook G3 skimming through online rags like Slate, Salon, or Little Green Footballs, mentally vexed and bitter and all alone — his usual existence — far away from food. Then he noticed how strange the historical sushi list was:

“We want ten Frank Norris Million Dollar Condominium Rolls, plus eight Holy Roller Human Sacrifice Rolls, twelve Breasts of Carol Doda, four Escape From Alcatraz Rolls, three Jack Kerouac Kisses” — his gesture of respect to Billy Walnut — “seven Twinkie Defense Rolls, and, and …” — dropping the menu then and wiping his feverish brow with one of the embroidered Sushi Rock napkins placed on the lap of each contestant.

“You look like shit,” said Billy Walnut. “Hey, we can end this now. No hard feelings …”

“What’s the score?” asked Penman testily.

438 sushi/sashimi: Billy Walnut.

61sushi/sashimi: Mister P.

As they’d taken to calling Penman.

The room fell silent and the tension surged as Penman struggled — as he so often had throughout his odd life — for clarity and direction. And then he thought of Moses struggling to enter the Promised Land but being denied by God, and Rocky Marciano dying in a plane crash when he was such a good guy, and a girl named Mary Ann Marinelli who’d kissed Penman in the fourth grade and he couldn’t get her out of his mind until he lost his virginity, and then coming into Bombay, deck class on that freighter from Pakistan when he was 19 years old after hitchhiking across Asia, and thinking about all the poverty in the world — millions starving — when he’d started talking to an older Indian guy on the boat and the guy made a gesture with his hands, about six inches apart, and said, “A person can only eat this much rice” and then he’d stretched his arms almost a yard apart now, palms facing inward, and said, “But some people want that much rice on their plate” and Penman, sailing into the Bombay harbor, blue sea and golden sun, saw that the weird beings called human were like the moon reflected in five and a half billion polluted ponds, the moon of Self/God, one Person only, and he understood poverty and greed and the world that the weird beings called human create from themselves, from their vexations, the world pillaged for their eating, more and more eating, never enough eating, and then he felt the pain in his chest again, his body, the recurrent pain, all the time now, maybe diabetes, a painful thumping, maybe myocardial infarction or whatever they call it, Penman called it “Joey Chest,” his own greed, his own hatred, his own fear, and whenever he had that pain he said, “Joey Chest again,” and it didn’t go away now and he knew one day he would die from “Joey Chest” which he’d named long before he’d ever met Billy Walnut and it wasn’t right, it wasn’t right that some people stuff themselves for fun when others are starving by the millions, fucking starving, so much fucking greed, each person lovingly attached to his own body, desiring to fill it up, fill it up, fill it up again, over and over, then shitting it out, shitting it out, each thinking his own body is something beautiful throughout the long night of time when it’s just a stinking toilet and then it falls down and there ain’t enough food distributed fairly throughout it all, so fuck the karma of it — distribute the food fairly, damn it, fairly, fairly, fairly …

“There are eighty thousand worms in my body,” he said.

“What? What’s that?” laughed Billy Walnut, who had a girl on his lap to whom he was feeding a piece of North Beach Nut Job Sushi covered with wasabe and she was giggling and it looked like a walk in the kitchen for Billy Walnut tonight because he’s so, so far ahead on points.

“You and me are giant worms and inside us are smaller worms and little worms inside them eating away and tiny worms eating them — bacteria really — and our bodies are just condominiums for worms, eighty thousand worms riding through phlegm and snot, so filthy, so hungry, and that’s who we’re feeding tonight, Billy, eighty thousand worms …”

Billy pushed the girl off his lap and stared at Penman, eyes like platters again and this time horrified.

“All we do is feed worms,” continued Penman, who knew from Dharma but not how and why and now he didn’t know anything, clean as a whistle his mind, his gut full to bursting, but it felt right, the worms in his body, feeding them, caring for them, eat fast, eat more, die, more worms …

“The worms are happy when we eat, Billy. It’s all about worms.”

Billy Walnut’s eyes glazed over again, that Joan of Arc trance thing, moonlight over San Jose, and he started babbling again, “Wormy-turny-worms-of-cabbage-worms-of-heart-worms-of-love-worms-of-far-and-stinking-bowl-of-worms-nightly-worms-and-pinky-worms-worms-worms-worms-worms-of-winter-worms-of-spring-worms-of-death-worms-of-love-and-worms-of-hate-death-knell-mohammed-singing-worms-of-fate-apples-pears-oshinko-roll-cheeseburgers-and-payback-wormy-toll —”

The partying circus kids around their table had drifted away now, looking back with frowns, and Leah Grumchik suddenly left — big party to attend — even Cool Guy Six Thousand was gone, and Penman leaned in closely, his right chest hurting like hell, like he was dying — “Joey Chest” in action again. He could barely breathe, and outside Sushi Rock, the people had also left. Things were too weird, even for Polk Street irregulars.

Penman, master hypnotist to the stars, leaned in closely to Billy Walnut and said, “Billy, you are so very deeply relaxed, just allow your mind to become quiet. You are speaking in tongues, channeling the Holy Spirit, and in a minute I’m going to count from one to ten. And with each number I count, your heart will open wider and cleaner and a joy will fill you from the soul of life itself, from the Treasury of Perfect Existence, from the Holy Spirit, and with each number you will feel full of joy and delight. Full, Billy, so full of beauty and satisfaction and freedom that you will always feel full and free and victorious and whenever you eat from now on — for yourself and for the worms — whether you speed eat or eat to live, it will always be the same and there will be nothing but rejoicing and contentment in your heart, in your mind, in your mouth, forever and ever and ever.

“One: slowly returning to waking consciousness. Two: you are Billy Walnut, king of the speed eaters, who always eats to live and lives to give, eating and giving. Three: taking the flavor of life itself as food and filled up with joy, so satisfied, no longer hungry just to stuff yourself, never greedy. Four: knowing that you don’t have to eat when you’re not hungry and forevermore thinking ‘This is wonderful, this is wonderful, this is wonderful, I’m free now, I really am, I’m free …’ ”

And as he counted William Christian “Jaws” Walnut back up, Penman saw the cursing chickens who flew around his client’s head line up in a row and soar out the open door of Sushi Rock. They vanished up Polk Street forever. And all the other devoured animals from deep within Walnut — pigs and cows and fish and frogs — subtly re-formed and wandered outside to find new homes in the intestines of San Francisco.

Penman continued counting to ten, pausing to gobble the last piece of Rainbow Roll, and debated whether to send Billy “Jaws” Walnut a bill for the session or to request payment in dinner at a Russian joint in the Richmond with very good herring salad

Mickey Disend – is a noted hypnotherapist, film actor, performance artist (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLX2l_Y6LR4 )and the author of legendary ‘60s novel, Stomping the Goyim. Over the last several years his award winning Penman Chronicles(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAPIJAkx3Ag&NR=1 )have defined living the writing life in the Bay Area. http://www.dublit.com/node/912

One Response to “
Michael Disend’s

Featuring Penman,
master hypnotist to the stars

  1. Mick,

    They just get better and better, are more and more valid, are funnier and funnier, are more and more touching, with amazing structure and delicious layers of chocolate and strawberry and characters who jump off the page, rich and thick, ready for a close up.



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