Fantastic Metropolis

If Armstrong Was Interesting

Steve Aylett

If Armstrong was interesting he’d take the initiative on stepdown. He’d emerge from the moon capsule wearing Mickey Mouse ears. He’d confess to a major felony. He’d land lightly and trill ‘Not bad for a girl.’ He’d shout ‘Jeez Louise I could use a bacon sandwich’ or ‘Praise be to Satan’ or ‘More land to pillage and despoil’ or ‘This is nowhere’ or ‘Lock up your daughters’ or ‘Who farted?’ or ‘I’ve never been so bored’ or ‘I’ve never been so hard’ or ‘Looky here — a million strawberries’ or ‘Kill the white man’ or ‘I was brought here against my will’ or ‘I can’t live a lie anymore — I’m gay.’

If Armstrong was interesting he’d phonetically blur his assigned lines — ‘That’s one small pecker, man — one tired leaker, and mine.’ He’d slam from the capsule roaring drunk. He’d skip across the sands like a fairy. He’d pretend to meet aliens and narrate false thrills amid non-existent domes of tessellated gold. He’d plant the Chilean flag. He’d wheely and wreck that crappy car. He’d claim the whole thing was a movie set. He’d speak in seamless, uneditable profanity. He’d laugh without interruption. He’d rant bitterly against his mother. He’d scream at a pitch which blew the headphones off NASA control. He’d say everything in a thick French accent. He’d yell that his facemask was filling with snot and abruptly terminate transmission. He’d moan ‘Even here there’s pigeons.’ He’d ask ‘If I’m the first man to walk here, who set up the camera to film it?’ He’d pretend transmission was breaking into enigmatic fragments. He’d say ‘demonic’ and ‘pants’ and ‘fantastic’ and ‘farewell’. He’d neigh and say ‘Woah, there.’ He’d childishly mimic everything Houston said. He’d curse the Earth and claim the moon’s supremacy. He’d moon and decompress, exploding.

If Armstrong was interesting he’d emerge from the capsule riding Buzz Aldrin piggyback with a horsewhip. He’d ruthlessly probe Buzz’s sexuality. He’d slap a squid over Buzz’s visor, blinding him. He’d get him in an awkward headlock. He’d try repeatedly to run him down with the buggy, mouthing laughter in the vacuum. He’d snap a thousand contrary orders, dancing sarcastically to his own contradictions. He’d ask once every minute on the return trip ‘Are we there yet?’ He’d emerge from the space toilet sweating, pupils constricted, and threaten the co-pilots with a blender. He’d draw them into his madness so that after splashdown they’d prance out of the rescue vehicle giggling and pushing eachother into the bushes.

If Armstrong was interesting he’d attend a press conference wearing a hat made of a human pelvis fringed with the shrunken ears of his victims. He’d say the whole trip was a waste of time. He’d complain that his critical judgment had ‘turned to jelly’. He’d describe his own eyelashes as ‘a delight’, speaking at first in a stage whisper, then screaming into the mike and blowing eardrums like popcorn. He’d fall at every hurdle. He’d purse his lips to his fist and trumpet ‘The Red Flag.’ He’d guffaw. He’d announce ‘I crave the company of morticians. I love everything about them. You’ll be glad to hear I live in a ghastly dreamworld. And you can’t stop me.’

If Armstrong was interesting he’d sell baby crocs on TV for ‘crazy prices.’ He’d crash into people’s front rooms in the cab of a beaked ironclad Russian locomotive. He’d work as the actor inside the rigid costume of Gamera, the giant turtle which flies by means of a nuclear arse. He’d fashion underwear for ungrateful, unresponsive bugs. He’d build a papier mache demon with beautiful legs. He’d thrash mini-veggies from the banquet table. He’d toss frogs from a speeding car. He’d drop-kick a master chef. He’d promise the warden he’d see him in hell. He’d say urbanely ‘Put it on his bill over there — him with the dead eyes.’ He’d prong his own nose with an ancient eel fork. He’d flaunt his head, god’s gift to snipers. He’d grimace like a tailor. He’d put a flea in the deity’s ear by capering like a chimp. He’d evince groggy surprise. He’d impregnate his lunch. He’d pistol-whip a troll. He’d say ‘We are sisters in tennis.’ He’d enter a casino with a shovel. He’d burn formality through the night. He’d visit gas upon clowns. He’d become a hive of teeth. He’d leak genes coveted by the scrabbling poor. He’d don the bell-sleeves of a magus and rain down mellow blessings upon his people. He’d go as loose as a flower. He’d smile wan and leave. He’d grow soft pink fur and stink of diesel. He’d say ‘Just think of it. Octopi for everyone. Yellow conclusions of a thousand years. Am I dreaming? Is this the rumble of age and sainthood? Let me say this. You can inspect the thundering skies for saliva. You can feed into the machinery of demolition. You can pledge your darkness to a joke. But — my sweet, sweet beauties — brace yourselves. I’m going to look you in the eye.’

If Armstrong was interesting the moon would blush into a fizzy paradise, florid with ease and wild good humour. The moon is as dry as a health cracker.

Copyright © 2001 by Steve Aylett.