To Inherit Latitudes One Never Knew
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roseville.jpg

Roseville, California

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The freight was moving.

Somewhere down the line, a locomotive opens wide, plumes of oily smoke bursting skywards as prime movers shudder, backspin against the rails. Spark. Start to tug out the slack.

You’d been running. Running for the better part of three days, a burlap satchel and a fistful of gouged quarters in tow. First it had been away from Seattle, taking the Greyhound until its diesel engine sputtered, conked out at the state line. Then it was onto K-Falls. Dunsmuir. Redding. Oroville. Two-pump chain link gasoline towns that clamped, a vice grip of tetanus-bidden hardware stores and broken glass over I-5. Diners where the hamburgers came straight out of a plastic bag and into a microwave.

Your thumb had been busted. How it had gotten to that point—the flesh violet and swollen, pushing back against joints and bone, wriggling loose like the body of a dying fly—was an enigma. Maybe it had been the payphone receiver, struck back against the hook when the operator rasped, cut the line. Maybe it had been some bicycle chain. Or the sharpened rear guard of a semi truck at some backwater weigh station, asphalt illuminated by little more than a couple of propane lanterns. Plunging and ducking through canyons and gullies of Swift and X-tra leasing trailers as red and pale amber lights strobed and reformed strong over pressure-treated lumber and shards of broken glass. For days afterwards, as a squall rolled in from the Pacific, droplets seeping through your poncho into your shirt, you slogged on, eyes fixed on the pavement. On boots studded, nicked Budweiser brown.

The freight was moving.

Boxcars scream. Buckle and grow taut. You fling an arm over your face, feeling the skin flake and tear, crusted over with sweat and mud. An outwards blast of air barrels down from the embankment—grease and biodiesel and aerosolized rust breaking over the retaining wall, the valley oaks. Bowls over the old man whittling with a pocket knife. The kid stripping copper from a washing machine. You feel yourself start to stagger forward, sidestepping bodies sprawled out on tarps, sleeping bags, quilted cardboard—streaked damp with condensation and dew.

Someone cackles. Spits phlegm before doubling over. You crash through the brush, foxtails and thorns pricking, scratching at your ankles, hefting your satchel as the first boxcar—a short, squat thing whose roof barely seemed to level itself with its neighbor rolls by, fattened tags and spray paint insignia slanting, breaking past the failing primer and sunlight just long enough to reveal the print beneath: Cotton Belt…volatile load. Keep tight. Shove and ride to rest. Shit.

Doors all bolted or plugged shut. Stirrups and running boards fit for a six yard ride but not five thousand. They slick by in quick succession. Double doors. Tankers. Gondolas, their bays overloaded with steel coils and crushed Volkswagens. A breath catches in your throat. Not a gasp. Or a scream—the journal bearings and adrenaline feeding down to your heels—still planted staunch to the ballast—had already taken first prize. It was coming perpendicular. You whip around, tearing away from the locomotives, the pulpwood flatcars in tow, bulkheads rising vertically to blot out the highway overpass, the local panhandlers at work—raising styrofoam cups and battered lunchboxes aloft like plywood cutouts: rigid and darkened and still.

A second howl. Streamlined grunge and extruded Plexiglas shooting for the Sierras. The Amtrak express closes by on the opposite track, bringing with it a shadow which flung, masked itself onto the freight. A clap. You feel your feet pucker. Freeze. Go limp. Bend like an length of garden hose. A thin shaft of light streaks through a rubber vestibule. Radiates across your chest as your arms extend, hands grazing a boxcar wall—moving still. Rivet and truss bracing and strobing weld lines.

Clap.

Seams quiver. Vitrify.

Flash.

Blowtorched panels. Scaly primer.

Clap.

Fingers painting crimson on whiplashed burlap. A protruding sill.

Flash.

And then…

Another boxcar. This one, however, was different. Much different. Journal bearings boxy, packed with oiled cotton and rags in lieu of rollers. Batten board walls secured lengthwise with timber posts and capillary-action lacquer, winking bronze and off-gold and an dull shade of rose.

Another clap.

It peels by, single sheathed door wobbling free.

Flash. Ballast glances off your ankle. Your muscles scream. Knock and buckle and grow snap taut. Clap. Aluminum smothers and liquifies, pooling against the inner ribbing of an axle—chewing forwards. Flash. Blood is drawn, twice…twice…tricking thin down sunburnt skin. Skin and scabs. From behind a café car window, a kid’s face peers over their tablet. Flash. Another Amtrak vestibule breaks in the sun. Clap. Wind ignites somewhere in your lungs. Clap. An man leering out, dinette shades caving in. Muffling his beer glass. Clap.

Flash.

The eastbound Amtrak clears. And you run—run not with some reluctant, lightheaded pace, joints acting lopsided, off kilter on every third stride as if injected with molten lead—but in one sure, swift motion.

Legs churning, arms finally swept wide.

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Title Description
Astoria Everything that's killing me makes him so alive. —♪
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No Right to Remain Silent (The Tower) Entry for the Anthology 2023 event, with art by the incredibly talented syuzhetsyuzhet and IRL friend A.A. Bask—skittishly—in the reverberations, aftershocks of an paralyzed suburbia, an atomic-age V-8, an Smith and Wesson branded barrel and then: clumped droplets of caffeine… cyclidine. —♪
Fisticuffs Under Cherry Blooms Last night we took to the theater, myself to the microphone, trying to spit out the liberetto as the orchestra pit groaned, faltered and sunk away into the now-amplified starlight streaking down with shards of glass, sticking to your oilskin cloak and coiffed hair and patinaed scars, whipping with the hilt of the saber. An Shebang2024 collab withStygian BlueStygian Blue —♪
Crystalline Petrichor (Stritchtarn) "Your place is warm…but the streets are waiting for our footprints." —♪
But I Still Got an Space To Fill Hunting a monster with a deadweight geezer and '59 Cadillac is good exercise. An Yuletide 2023 gift for the one and only MsDirectionMsDirection. —♪
Ramblings of a Retired Tramp 🛤 "We're too quick to throw things away." —♪
A Dance Between Flesh and Steel 🛤 The screech of thousands upon thousands of pounds of steel on the move rents through the air. Shoulder your pack. Poise your feet to run—and dance, dance to a unseen rhythm, a unseen tune of gumsole, denim, ballast, boxcars—sacred in our world. —♪
Pictures of Her True Son 🛤 Portraits of newsprint and purple hearts are swallowed by the aching spines of the VFW cards stuck in the benches. —♪
West of Winnemucca 🛤 "I'll never be your beast of burden." —♪
Into Its Heart I Beat Again 🛤 "Turn the radio loud. I'm too alone to be proud." An Shebang2024 and River Canon entry. —♪
Middle Yanji Road We bicker and weep, with cold duck tongue and glasses of Moutai for the shards of the darkened band across the neon bay, lost, plunged forever in the chest of memory.
Sing For Me, Grandmother Frozen wheat finches and artillery shells lie cold beyond the jade pagodas, the eddies of the Yalu and a peninsula split apart, growing dark with the feverish skies.
Radium Tears Swim in The Cowlings of Departed Wrights Let the sunlight slant, strip through your chest and shear the bone, the aluminum Roosevelts and Norden bombsights flitting into crosses—and watch her fall—ablaze. —♪
The Lion Bleeds Stark Epiphanies "Invasive (heartstrings) are sad things. If they had friends, they would not be invasive, but without friends they are divorced parasites."Stygian BlueStygian Blue —♪
A Fool's Pinings for a Lost Umbrella Yes, I'll take the umbrella. Damn it, I'm short twenty five cents for the sales tax…sales tax? Make up the remainder with the visage over there, breaking with a slick of matte over the aluminum siding of that half-eaten Winnebago. —♪
Hazy Elegies from the West Ward Window, 1969 Two morphine shots and an empty M16A1 removed from rural Arkansas. From the wailing alleyways of Saigon. A PicturePalooza 2022 entry.
Turn Off the Lights, I Want to Go Home in the Fog (1970)—The silver nitrate gulls roost, glut themselves on saltine crumbs beneath a stripped-out transformer box, the vermillion ribcages of welded, braided steel extending over a ashen pool rising beyond the wilting poppies and newspaper editorials stuffed into the charred grilles of Type IIs.
A Hymn of Overthrown Hexes and Whetted Steel Teetering with nothing but an glorified spear at the cusp of the world. Started life as an high-effort fiction shitpost in the WL Discord server subverting an tired magic v. conventional tech worldbuilding trope.-♪
Instant Flushes and Mercury Bloodstreams Over Easy "Ninety-nine percent of inland beach towns out near the California-Nevada line quit the blackjack tables before hitting it big." -♪
Bloodfishing Breath forms, warms in your chest as the current surges and tugs you away from starless skies. An collab with Stygian BlueStygian Blue and Din-BidorDin-Bidor
Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed "Always, sometimes, think it's me…but you know I know when it's a dream." A part of the Mages of Rela canon. —♪
Nowhere Express Figments of godhood rest like scarabs upon double-laminated QR labels and eighteen wheel Great Danes slugging for a city swallowed between the redwood trunks and traffic posts slumping, pipelines of concentrated ichor and iridescence, into the Pacific. Collab with Stygian BlueStygian Blue —♪
An Architect's Notions of The City "This calls for a glass of champagne, my dear." —♪

Key: 🛤=Asphalt, Steel & Stories series

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Collab page contributions & audio adaptations

Title Description
In Poems Without Authors: Memento Mori Inscribed on the inside cover of Take it Easy, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Shultz —♪
In Things Left Unsaid Closing remarks on a informal subtournament of Ephasian Modified Court Chess between Lady Neralith of Wilder, County Kalgour and Thomas Yi-Tsai of Corpus Christi, Texas —♪
In Goodnight Rounderpede Vol. 5 Rounderhouse's excellent reading of Ramblings of a Retired Tramp.
A Cat Reads... Readings of Hazy Elegies, An Architect's Notions of The City, Ramblings of a Retired Tramp, and A Dance Between Flesh and Steel by WL/SCP Youtuber Scrambleking.


Hello, I’m lzhoudidion, (the first letter of the username being an lowercase L) and I bid you a fair welcome to my author page. I use any pronouns. Offsite I go (or have gone) by lzhoudidion, Greenbird2003, or HobbesAtHeart.

An long story condensed down to an turn of phrase—I got sidetracked. Sidetracked for an fair bit with college. Other projects. This page itself. Some of the more far-fetched concepts that were messed around with were something to the respect of traveling through various Ways and an switchblade rumble in Griffith Park at sunset, Rebel Without A Cause style—two figures lunging forwards over the city—stainless steel and horns and pearl sparking against stucco and puffy sleeves as spells and mothballed neon and absinthe streetlamps light up, forming an translucent cushion underneath.

If it wasn't evident from the intro: I like trains. Particularly the Southern Pacific Railroad. And classic automobiles (C1 Corvette gang). And history. Stuff in the past in general. My experiences as an Chinese American. As an Asian American, memories both collective and lived. And California! The grounds of the grizzly and quail. This state's pretty neat. The ocean to the west, fields, foothills, movie lots, one-pit stop towns, saguaros and beautified filing cabinets to the south and the east.

How to pronounce lzhoudidion: L (standalone), Zhou (Sao but with an Zh instead of an S), Didion. L-zhou-didion. lzhoudidion.

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