Cistulli had never been more lucid in any act of his life as when he forgot about his writing and the pain of his writing and copied the articles off the server, ripped the images, locked and barred the door so as not to be disturbed by any of the temptations of the world, for he knew then that his fate was written in Dick Allen’s literature. He found the works intact among the archives, among the men and the things that surrounded them and the gleaming deathgrin of Uecker that had removed all reason and humanity, and he did not have the calmness to continue downloading them to his laptop, but right there, standing, as if they had been written in play logs and were being read under the green-splendor of a Bradbury spring afternoon, he began to read them aloud. It was the history of baseball, written by Allen, down to the trivial details, all adjective and sinew, forty years ahead of its time. He had written it in whiskey and cigarette smoke, in the names of ironic jerseys and twisted into the chest hair of Jim Palmer underwear ads. The final protection, which Cistulli had begun to glimpse when he let himself be confused by the love of Charlie Blackmon, was based on the fact that Allen had not put the events in the order of man’s conventional time, but had concentrated a century of daily episodes so that they existed in one GIF, a GIF of all NotGraphs articles overlaid, writhing and coalescing. Fascinated by the discovery, Cistulli read aloud without skipping the paeans to eyeglasses and mustaches, and he inserted Reuschels into movies about food metaphors, only pausing to meditate on the allotted Feast Days. At this point, impatient to know the meaning of himself, Cistulli skipped ahead. Before then the hum had begun, the servers murmuring warm and chordlike, incipient, full of voices of prospects past, the drawl of Trevor Bauer and Bronson Arroyo buried in a Jack McDowell guitar riff, sighs of disenchantment that preceded the most tenacious nostalgia. He did not notice it because at that moment he was discovering the first indications of his own being in the first bat flip of Yasiel Puig, who with it impregnated scores of women decades in the past. He was so absorbed that he did not feel the second surge of electricity either as the fluorescent lights pulsed and rattled, the servers clicking with irritation, grinding impossibilities against each other on a molecular level, crackling with mirthless laughter. Only then did he understand that Banknotes Harper was actually the father of Nick Johnson, and that Joe West and Dr. Internet had simultaneously ejected each other into the afterlife. The server room was already a fearful conflagration as reds and yellows licked the insides of the computers and against the walls, whipped into a cyclone by the invisible incongruity of meaninglessness within meaninglessness, the void finally tangible, while Cistulli skipped four pages of TLDRs so as not to lose time with stories he knew only too well, and through the lachrymose smoke he began to decipher the instant that he was living, the final NotGraphs post, writing it as he was living it, prophesying himself in the act of deciphering the last lines of the website, as if he were speaking and listening to his Dragon software simultaneously. Then he skipped again to anticipate the predictions and ascertain the moment and circumstances of his death. Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, leave the site, for it was foreseen that NotGraphs would be consumed by fire and exiled for the memory of men at the precise moment when Carson Cistulli would finish writing the last sentence, and that everything on it was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because websites condemned to one hundred pageviews of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.
Patrick Dubuque is a wastrel and a general layabout. Many of the sites he has written for are now dead. Follow him on Twitter @euqubud.