There was only one house at the end of that long, long road that didn’t connect to anything else. As I approached the home on foot, I couldn’t shake the grim nature of my current predicament. It’s not easy to pave your own road, especially one as long and flat as this, so the only explanation is that the state was responsible for its creation. They must have come out here by request of the man I was supposed to see at noon for an appointment.
It takes some serious pull, some real respect to get the state to come out here. Twenty miles may not seem like a lot when you’re driving a race car down the super highway, but when the only known route happens to coincide with a plot of land that’s spent the last several decades plagued by odd occurrences, frequent disappearances and universal accounts of supernatural malevolence, it takes some serious pull to get the state to send the necessary equipment, supplies and collection of both skilled and unskilled laborers out to build a road for one man to walk back and forth on.
There’s an excitement to meeting men who are so powerful. Their actions will always be infinitely unpredictable and they will either confidently share the revealing information about how they accumulated such wealth or they’ll let the strength of their glare say everything that falls between their words.
Visually, the home is flawless. Two stories, clean windows, shutters that are the latest trend over in Europe but still haven’t made their way over to the states, and a front door that popped in such perfect contrast to the off-red bricks that surrounded what was clearly the entry point to the home of a man who had apparently been quite successful in commerce throughout his life.
The road leads all the way up to the front door, which stands on the ground level. The path narrows from its original width in a gradual fashion. If someone were to drive upon this road with the intentions of visiting the same man that I was visiting on foot, eventually they would feel the bounce of their tires upon the stone-filled hills of the burnt Georgia grass, which painted the landscape grey. If it weren’t for the man who I am going to see supplying the necessary funds to build such a structure, these pale yellow hills and cloud-filled skies would appear so undeniably bleak that even Death would be looking over his shoulder in the moonlight.
At the front door, I stood with the shoulders of a man who could not be easily moved by an aggressor of the mind. A tingle of fear giggled down my spine as I concentrated my efforts on achieving a well-practiced look of determination that is so palpable that weaker men often fear it to the extent of disappearing completely when they see its lines being drawn on my face. And although it may seem like a flaw in my character, I am an honest man in the eyes of the men I have come to respect in this world. However, I am calculated, vague and active-minded when facing the ones who could potentially be taking part in a scheme to take what I have, or, even worse, gauging how easily they’d be able to manipulate me into taking part in a scheme even larger in scope and focus, one in which they plan to use me as a multi-faceted pawn most likely.
I heard a window open behind the house. Clear as day. There’s no breeze out in this stale air. I walked to the back of the house, slowly turning each corner as the edges of my eye-line were the only places where evil could hide out here in this sun-smoked field. No back door, though. I slowly inched towards a window, carrying with me the sneaking suspicion that one may not be locked from the inside. Lo and behold, the first window I tried opened right up, and I peered inside the home at the end of the road that led to nothing.
The room was empty. Not a single thing inside, not even a speck of dust. The walls were painted a calm baby blue, the type of feminine blue that a young boy would want his room to be surrounded by in hopes that clear calm skies would be all around him.
Although I was clearly in a state of consciousness during this time, a variation of that same state came about when it occurred to me that if I were to be caught at that very moment, I would be unable to maintain my look of determination, as I would be forced to immediately concede the first battle. I was quick, though, and in a move of athletic precision, I contorted my body to climb through the window in what was dangerously close to absolute silence.
I stood still and simply listened, waiting for some type of clue. It began with the recognition that something was vibrating somewhere in the home. Then, the faintest, most indistinguishable noise arose, so softly that anyone would question whether it was a sound from inside the home or a sound from inside their head. Still unable to determine individual characteristics of the sound, I picked up on its rhythm, which moved like the ticking of a clock if there were four second between each tick and tock. It grew louder within a handful of measures. It was a piano key, the same one each time, growing louder and louder until it grew distorted from the pound of a thin finger attached to some unknown host who had been slowly filling with rage. It must have been him. Who but a powerful man would have such a well-controlled aggression in their progressive rising of the note’s volume?
And it was at the exact moment in which I heard an argument begin to take place. I couldn’t make out the nature of the conversation between what I assumed to be the man who I came to see and his wife, whose voice quickly rose to a shriek as footsteps converged five or six feet directly above my head. Upon the converging of the footsteps came a slapping noise, which was followed by a the sound of what must have been a fist slamming down on the piano keys. It slammed down once, then another time three seconds later, and even louder two seconds after that. By the next maddening connection between the powerful man’s fist and the keys, a variation appeared in the sound that seemed to relay a malfunction in the instrument.
Some deep-seeded heroic quality overtook my nature and I sprinted towards the staircase with the intention of stopping the man from putting his hands on the still shrieking woman, as the mere tone of her voice was enough to determine that her husband was at fault in this hysterical climax. Just as I reached the top of the staircase and headed left, the man emerged from a room on the right, moving with purpose down the stairs, still entirely naive to my presence in his home.
After a minute of listening to his wife breathing heavily from across the hall, I heard him returning up the steps, moving slowly, sounding as though he was carrying extra weight. At the top of the stairs, he returned to the room with the broken piano. Upon entering and seemingly performing some sort of a motionless, silent pause, the sound of a limp body being dropped to the ground rung out as clearly as the church bells used to.
His wife’s breathing grew louder, now carrying with it a defiant groan of ferocity. A couple footsteps were then followed by a shriek that began closer to the door and quickly approached the outside of the house. The shattering of glass then emerged from the room and as I raced into the doorway in a last ditch effort to save her, I could only make out the sound of her body thumping upon the stone-filled, stained yellow grass that surrounded the home.
I stood in the doorway, staring with captivated eyes at the man who stood before a young boy whose lifeless body looked uncomfortable on the floor. I watched the man take a breath, listen to the silence and then take a seat at the piano. Once again, he lapsed into the tapping of a single key, this time using a note on the other side of the piano. He had an impeccable gift for timing and for tone, as he had perfected the ability to raise the volume of the note in identical intervals.
I saw the rage curling up inside him, all alone. He took a deep breath and the muscles in his back seemed to come down to their natural positions of rest. I envied such comfort, so I sat alongside him on the bench and played the note farthest to the left that hadn’t been previously broken by his fist. I came in one beat before he played his. The sounds fused to create the kind of comfort that could lure in the sirens.
It’s always this note that brings me back together again. I stood up and thought to grab the broom to clean up the shards of glass. There were none. I walked over to the window, which was as perfectly clean as it’d ever been, and outside there was no trace of a body that slammed against the ground. I got confused again.
I decided to get some air and headed out my front door. In front of me was a road of infinite possibilities. I was free to choose the direction in which I could travel, but only one path was available, so I began to follow it away from the house. The road would not have been built if it led to nothing.
I walked down the widening path with a vague feeling that I had taken this trip before, an understanding that I’d be taking it again, and I pushed away the hopelessly foolish idea that this will never stop repeating. I had to get to where I was going before the sun went down; around here, even death has to keep looking over his shoulder in the moonlight.
I have always called myself a writer. Yes, I have a profession and no, it is not one that is worthy of mentioning, but, regardless of the title that I hold in the profession that provides my means, I have always spoken outwardly about being a writer. I have written for most of my life and I have had mild to great success in terms of my own evaluation of my work. However, I have rarely felt the impulse to share this work with the outside world, as it will leave me open to a form of judgement that I have no interest in defending myself against. The same way that the vulture doesn’t want to be questioned about his choice of cuisine, I don’t want to be judged for my literary conventions.
Recently, my creative impulse has been dulled. The mere picking up of a pencil drives me to shake and the screens of my brain turn black. Occasionally I can will myself to write two connected, complex sentences or one theoretical, brief poem. Unfortunately, the results of even these works of excessive brevity hold no artistic prowess, as they simply serve as regurgitations of old ideas that used to flower in the tunnels of my mind, as if I just started sweeping up old daydreams, threw them in a blender and made lemonade. Even more tragic is the inability to create original lines of thought in my internal monologue; it feels as if I had died at a certain point in the near past and now I am crawling through an afterlife of collaged memories and looped observations.
What is a writer who can’t write? A writer is a thinker first, thought goes round and round and the writer is the scribe who can channel the thoughts and display them through the linear medium of written language. How can I call myself a writer if I can’t even think? How can I call myself anything at all if my brain is simply reading aloud the ripped pages that are blowing through my mind from far-reaching chapters of my own past experiences? I can’t be a writer if I can’t think, and I can’t be alive if I’m not a writer.
There has always been a saying about the best writers being the most avid readers. I have never prescribed to this idea, but, given my recent predicament, I felt that diving into literature could itch my scratch. I went to my bookcase, grabbed a collection of short stories and began to read. After reading the first one, I immediately felt inspired to write. Amazed at my drive, I wrote through the night, completing a draft of a seven-page short story in the process.
The next day, after proper rest, I returned to the story I had written and, much to my dismay, it felt as though I had read the story before. Something clicked in my mind and I grabbed the collection of short stories from the night before. I opened to the story I had read, “Rain and Fog on the Mountainside”. I turned back to my manuscript, then back to the story. Back and forth I went, unable to believe what I was seeing; the story I had written was identical to the story I had read prior to writing. How could I not have been aware of that? How could I have written it verbatim?
My heart began to pound out of my chest. I thought to myself, “this is it… this is when they’re gonna lock me up and throw away the key… The institution is where I’m headed and those tranquilizers will keep me drooling on my pillow for years and years.” I thought I’d lost it. I had lost it. My actions were certifiably insane.
I stepped outside of my apartment for some fresh air. I saw a group of people heading down the street, speaking rather loudly to one another, apparently in drunken states of glee and heading to another place to drag their joy. I decided to follow them.
I walked 20 or 30 feet behind them as they headed down the road. Five or six blocks down was a bar and something innately told me that’s where they were heading. About three blocks before the bar, after going undetected by the group of three men and one woman, I decided that I didn’t want them to go to the bar. I picked up a dense rock and threw it as hard as I could at the group, striking one man in the head. He fell quickly and his three friends turned at the sound of the rock cracking the bones of his skull, all of them reacting so instantaneously to the sound that they were able to watch their friend’s head dive straight into the pavement.
They all turned back at me and I just took off running. A couple of them chased me, but they were pretty out of shape and I have always been a strong sprinter. However, my speed was not the only skill that helped me so quickly get away from my pursuers. If I desired to I could have sprinted in a straight line and still escaped with ease, but, instead, I ran in a collection of diagonal angles across the street, resting in shadows as they approached, allowing them to get close before I took off once again. Finally, as their pursuit was becoming dispirited and they began to point fingers at one another for the inability to capture me, I slipped off into a shadow and kept going, cutting through a suburban backyard to gain access to an adjacent street.
I walked down the street and I smiled so brightly. I felt alive. I felt the creative juices flowing again, like my mind was awoken to the artistic vibrations it used to eat, sleep and dream with. If I were writing a story about writer’s block, I would have never thought to make a character throw a rock at a group of strangers. Never! It would have never occurred to me to connect violence with inward frustration.
I returned home, taking the long way through side streets, walking slowly as my mind felt an ease that it had not known in longer than I could remember. I walked up the steps to my apartment door and, just as I was about to enter, I heard music playing from inside. Something unfamiliar. I walked in with great curiosity, like a child walks into his birthday party or rich men walk into the bank. Sitting on my couch was a woman who I did not know, smoking a cigarette.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“Oh honey, you know me,” she responded. She rose to her feet, kissed me on the cheek and said she was making me tea. She wasn’t classically good looking, but she was attractive in her movements. She didn’t seem to move as much as she seemed to flow, like the tide or Shakespearian meter.
“Oh yes, I remember you,” I said, keeping my eye on her as she navigated through the kitchen as if she had been living there for centuries.
“Take a seat, sweetheart,” she said. I did as I was told.
“What’s the nature of your visit?” I asked after studying her longing glare at me.
“I’m gonna take you somewhere you’ve never been,” she responded. She walked towards me with a cup of hot water. There was no teabag inside, but the water held a brownish green color.
“What do we have here, my love?”
“Something delicious. Drink up, my love.” She sat down close to me and played wit my hair as I silently drank from the cup. She had a control of me that I can’t fully explain. My attraction to her grew with each sip I took, although I had no impulse to make a move towards the seductress. I was paralyzed by her…
“Now, we’re going,” she said to me, gripping me by my hair. I reached my hand out to grab her, but felt only air. I reached closer to her core, but there was nothing there. She was just a collection of vapor. I pulled my hand back, noting that the fingers that I had attempted to touch her with were now a shade of pale blue, nearly frozen to the knuckle.
She pushed me down on my back and levitated to a position directly above me. I stared up at her and she turned her finger in a circle. Her finger began to grow longer and longer, her nail extending as the pointer finger itself stretched farther and farther. I followed the spinning finger until it approached my face.
“Close your eyes,” she said. I could not defy her command and my eyes closed. I bubbled with excitement— I could never have written a tale with such a shocking turn as this! She was an angel in countless ways that she would never realize.
Suddenly, a screech came from above me and I felt the support on my back disappear. I opened my eyes and observed that I was now floating downwards, my eyes fixed on the floating woman who floated in the same direction as me. I let my body dangle, felt a freedom from my physical form that I can only describe as heavenly. I drifted and drifted, thinking thoughts that I hadn’t thought in a long, long time. Thoughts of being a child and being excited. Thoughts of hope that a person only feels a handful of times in their entire life, as if I had accomplished something great and now my fate had changed for the better. Thoughts of private islands and widespread recognition; Thoughts of praise from the masses; Thoughts of being stopped in the street and thanked by beautiful women and wild-eyed men; Thoughts that ceased as I felt my hair yanked upwards as my feet planted on steady ground.
I opened my eyes and found myself alone in a pitch-black forest. The trees hung low and made whistling sounds in the wind. The sound of a beating drum, like a heart beat, ticked and tocked as I turned in circles looking to see something in the dead of night. I moved forward, but nothing moved at all. I turned to the left and right, took a few steps in each direction, but nothing moved but me. I heard a laugh out in the distance.
“What do I have to do to get out of here?” I asked bravely. I saw it as a challenge. The drum beat cut out. I listened intently to the silence of the forest, hearing something skitter across a patch of grass behind me.
“I hear you,” I said.
“You need to answer the question,” a voice let out in a disinterested tone.
“What’s the question?”
“The question is simple: Why do the vultures eat the dead?” I thought about it for a second.
“Because the dead don’t fight back.”
“Wrong,” the voice responded quickly, sounding as if it had ran past my ear.
“Because they want to be close to death.” Mentally, I patted myself on the back for my somewhat philosophical retort.
“Incorrect.” I heard wings flapping overhead. “One more try.”
“Okay. Um,” I began, stalling as I processed all the information that existed in my brain pertaining to vultures, the entire bird family and all scavengers. “Because they eat your soul,” I said with confidence.
“Correct! We got a winner,” the voice spoke with excitement and the forest filled with light, exposing to the true nature of the position I was in. I was surrounded by four walls, each of them painted with scenes from the forest. The walls began to shake and fell back. For an instant I was surrounded by black, empty space, but the scene was soon filled up with the contents of bedroom, sliding in one by one. The walls followed, then the floor and ceiling and my door slammed closed.
On top of my bed, a notebook laid open with a pen resting upon it. I took a deep breath, sat on the bed and began to write:
If a day and a dream can become tangled, I may be breathing out my dreams like rotten smoke invades my lungs. If I spend my days dreaming, I can disappear completely and be whoever I want to be. Vultures dream of eating meat that shines in the glow of a benevolent soul. I bet they’re drinking the blood off the sidewalk from some drunk man who was struck by some flying rock that was thrown by some man who called himself a writer but could only write what he had read; a man with a mind so weak it could be dragged underneath by a hand whose touch he desired. I bet the vultures dream of meeting someone like me.
I closed the notebook, tossed it across the room and crawled inside my bed. A writer needs his sleep if he wants to create the kind of scenes that dream on dreams that never repeat. A writer needs to dream the same way the vultures need to eat.
She always hated feet. I couldn’t figure out why. I didn’t get it.
When I was a little boy, I had this recurring dream. Well, I used to think it while I was awake. I didn’t know where it came from. I thought that everyone thought of things like this. I was in a graveyard. I was naked and I couldn’t find a way home. I was buried alive—well, alive in the same way that I thought I was dreaming—naked and alone.
I wandered back and forth through the night. I was embarrassed and scared. I tried to follow someone out, but I couldn’t find my way home. I started to like it there.
One night, I heard someone softly crying in the absolute stillness of the trees. One whisper of a tear drew my sight to the grave of a girl that I saw a man who could not see me fill in a few days earlier.
There was no name on her grave. There had been no one on her funeral. I had heard the man digging the grave talking to himself as he shook his head. No family. No one knew where she came from. Scars on her face. The strangest clothing, all custom fits, patterns that no one wore. No one claimed the body, so an old man, once a veteran of The Great War, made sure she had a place to rest. Her gave her the lot, but didn’t come to the funeral.
But she was not resting. I heard her softly crying in the absolute stillness of the heartbroken trees in the darkest night. I didn’t feel so alone anymore.
I dragged myself over to her. She could hear my footsteps. She was quiet. I could hear her trying to hide her breath. She couldn’t.
“Hello?” I said gently. She didn’t answer. “I can hear you down there. I hope you’re not lost like me. I want to go home, but I can’t find my way out.”
She didn’t answer. I didn’t care. I didn’t feel so alone anymore. I slept by her grave. It was the warmest one around. At night I got scared, I could hear screaming and crying sometimes. But I wasn’t alone anymore, so I wasn’t the same kind of frightened.
One day, she laughed at a joke I made. She wouldn’t admit it, but I heard a giggle.
Another day, I heard her whisper good morning.
One night, I heard her wish me sweet dreams.
Then, just as I thought about leaving her grave, just as I thought about following a man home who had been screaming for god and getting no answer in return, she spoke to me.
“What are you doing here?” She asked.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “I woke up here and I was alone, but I heard you down there.”
“Have you been waiting for me?”
“I guess… In a way.”
“I’ve been staring at my feet forever now.”
“Come on out.”
“I think I was too.”
“How did you get out?”
I didn’t have any idea, but a soul spoke through me, which I guess they do from time to time in varying degrees.
“You don’t have to stay in there anymore.”
“But how do I get out of my grave?”
Again, I had no idea how to respond, but something spoke through me, the same way they seem to do all the time.
“You don’t need that body anymore.”
Then, she was with me, in the graveyard, no more scars on her face and I didn’t feel naked anymore. She didn’t know where to go, so the two of us held hands and started to try to find our way home.
I think she was just happy she didn’t have to stare at her feet anymore.
A young man by the name of Malcolm stood on the steps smoking a cigarette. He was a normal looking fella, whatever that means to you. That’s the best way to get a grip on him. A normal looking fella; pleasant looking if you get to thinking of him fondly and definitely with physical flaws if you observe him from the most critical lens. He stood on the steps and waiting until he saw her come running down the street. He began to rhythmically descend the stairs, somewhere between speed-walking and jogging. He greeted her at the base of the stairwell, reaching the sidewalk only a split second before she reached him.
“You look a little bent out of shape,” he said.
“No shit,” she responded. Her name was Maralou. She was a trip. If you asked ten of the closest people in her life to describe, at least five would say the same thing. The girl was just a trip.
“You’ll be alright,” he said, not sure how to quell her noticeable discomfort.
“I don’t know how you could know that,” she began in response. “I couldn’t even look up as I walked through the street to meet you here. Every time I picked my eyes up I could feel someone’s eyes calling mine and all of a sudden I’ll be looking at them and I can see so much more than what’s in front of me.” She pulled out an oversized vape and covered both of them in a cloud of smoke.
“That’s pretty heavy. What do you think it is?” He asked.
“Something ghoulish you think?”
As the cloud of smoke cleared, Maralou looked up at Malcolm and his eyes widened as he looked at her.
“You can feel it, right?” She asked.
“Yes, mam. Something’s watching from inside of you.”
“Don’t tell me that.”
“Sorry.” They stood in silence briefly.
“No, I’m sorry,” Maralou began. “You were just giving me your opinion andI told you to meet me here so I could hear your opinion, so I shouldn’t act like that when you give me what I came here for.”
“Apology accepted, but unneeded. If someone told me that something what looking through my eyes and it wasn’t me I’d be pretty snotty, too. So, what’s your plan?”
“I think we gotta go see Evangeline.”
“Why can’t you just call her Evie like everyone else?”
“I told you: I will never call her Evie. Evangeline is too pretty of a name to turn into the name of a Pokemon.”
“It’s about the speed of saying it, not the alternative. No one with a four-syllable name goes by that name in everyday life.”
“What about Alexander?”
“Who calls him Alexander?”
“She doesn’t count.”
“Cuz she just calls him what you call him.”
“Why does that matter?”
“None of this matters,” Malcolm blurted out, tossing his cigarette into the street. “So we’re going to see Evangeline then?”
“I guess. It’s the only idea I got.”
“Let’s get going.”
Malcolm and Maralou walk down the main part of town, past little shops and local businesses that got grandfathered in before my grandfather came to this country. They walked past the strip of town and stopped at the train station. Malcolm sat down, locked his fingers behind his head and rested his head against his hands. Maralou sat for a second, but quickly got up and began to pace back and forth. His eyes moved quickly, like she was trying to see every detail that surrounded her but was simultaneously paranoid that someone will accuse her of staring.
Evangeline lived out in nowhere’s land. She didn’t have a place or anything. Her and a bunch of other random people lived out there, sharing the space, squatting in the abandoned structures that used to serve some purpose when the farmland pounded out the profit and drove the local economy. Malcolm had lived out there for a week, but he couldn’t deal with being surrounded by a bunch of vegans and not having anyone to talk sports with. Maralou couldn’t even make it a night out there, too used to the comforts of the bourgeois lifestyle to ever leave it.
When the train arrived, Maralou waited for Malcolm, who allowed the other waiting passengers to enter to get on the train first. Maralou and Malcolm walked on and took a small loveseat in the back that faced the window. Within a minute, the train began to move.
“Look at me,” Malcolm said to Maralou.
“I really don’t want to,” she responded, keeping her eyes forward despite Malcolm’s attempt to line up their eye-lines.
“Mar, come on, just turn your head, look at me and count to five.” Maralou’s eyes began to shake, filling with tears before she turned towards Malcolm, made eye contact, counted to five and then turned her head back. When she moved her head he blinked several times and fell silent.
“What happened?” Maralou asked.
“First I started seeing things, random things. Like… like memories, but they weren’t yours I don’t think. Then I felt something pulling at my eyes and then I hated you for a second. I can’t remember why.”
“That’s horrifying,” Maralou said as she bent her head towards her lap and rubbed her forehead with her hand.
“I just made that up.”
“No, that really happened. Just don’t want you getting freaked out by any of this.”
“I’m already freaked out.”
“Well… I just don’t want you getting any more freaked out by this. Look on the bright side, at least we’ve got something to do,” Malcolm says as he nudges Mararlou. “I mean, you can’t say that you expected this to happen today.”
“You’re right about that.” Malcolm looked over at Maralou covered in concern before regaining his looseness, slouching deep into the seat. He sat back and leaned the opposite way of Maralou and she did the same.
“You ready?” Malcolm asked Maralou as they approached the best spot to jump off the train to get to the deserted farmland. The train conductors refused to stop at any point other than the edge of town and the state line. Apparently the train company was hoping to sell off their tracks to the highest bidder if the farmland was approved for real estate development. In the end, the town voted to keep the land as it was, believing that the abandoned farmland could provide a sanctuary for the outcasts, hippies and gypsies, and that’s exactly what it did. There was no mental hospital around, so a tax free collection of squatters scraped off the underbelly of a well-functioning bourgeois neighborhood was the next best thing.
Malcolm jumped out and Maralou quickly followed, both landing on their feet. The conductor pounded on the horn as the train pulled away, seemingly wanting them to know that they didn’t sneak out undetected. Malcolm turned towards the train and gave it the finger, while Maralou didn’t seem to notice what the conductor did.
From the spot they jumped out, they had about a mile to go to get around where Evangeline lingered. Each time they went to see her she was within 500 feet of this big green barn where she slept.
“What do you think she does all day?” Malcolm asked Maralou.
“Evangeline?” Maralou responded.
“Evie. Yes. Same person.”
“I’m not sure.”
“Isn’t it like a five to one male to female ratio out here?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
“That’s gotta be a little dangerous for her, don’t you think?”
“Eh, it could be… but I don’t think it is.”
“I don’t mean this in a rude way or anything cuz people like what they like in the bedroom, but is she the kinda chick that would do a few at a time? I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it if she is; I just get the feeling that she’s the kinda girl who could take a couple at a time.”
“I should tell her you said that.”
“Or you could just tell me if she’s that kinda chick and we don’t have to mention it to her cuz that conversation is just gonna be rough on all parties involved.”
“Yeah, she is. But it’s weird. It’s not like she wants to have a bunch of dudes run her over at once. What she likes it controlling multiple dudes at once. Like, shifting her attention from one to the other, having them both under her thumb at the same time. It’s weird.”
“Not that weird. I get it.”
“You trying to tell me you want two guys going at you at the same time?”
“I never want any guys going at me ever. But if I could have a handful of consenting women trying to please me simultaneously I would certainly accept the offer… And I bet I would be interested in having that become the focus of my life if that were an option.”
“It’s not an option.”
“Yeah, it’s not.”
Just then a man came up to them. His name was Dent. He was a dirty fellow. His hair was greasy and his teeth were greenish brown. He was average height and scrawny. He had a limp, which was accentuated by the fact that he wore only one shoe. His t-shirt was oversized and the print on it was meant to look like a pair of overalls. He kind of looked like a piece of white trash who still made fun of people for being white trash.
“I wouldn’t go that way,” he told them as he approached.
“Why not? Something happen?” Malcolm asked as Maralou kept her eyes from meeting the stranger.
“Didn’t happen yet, but I could feel it, understand? You understood?” Dent stared at Malcolm, his weight leaning forward.
“Um, I understand that you have the feeling that something’s going to happen… Was there something else for me to understand?” The man scowled at Malcolm and then moved his attention to Maralou.
“Hey pretty girl, you understand? I’m Dent by the way,” Dent said as he introduced himself. He reached his dirt-covered hand out towards Maralou. She kept her eyes facing forward and ignored his hand. “This your woman?” Dent asked Malcolm.
“A little,” Malcolm responded, moving himself between them and keeping an eye on Maralou.
“Somebody’s gonna shake my hand or you won’t be getting out of here the way you came in.” Dent left his hand out and widened his eyes. Malcolm looked back and forth between Dent and Maralou. Abruptly, Maralou reached her hand out and shook Dent’s hand.
“Let’s go,” Maralou said to Malcolm and the two of them jogged on. After a few second they turned back and saw Dent standing white as a ghost, his hand still being held out, shaking.
“I was wrong. You ain’t got nothing to worry about pretty girl! You’re too far gone to worry! Your boy better find a place to leave you! Something ugly’s got you. Something ugly’s got you by the throat!”
Malcolm and Maralou moved quickly towards Evangeline’s resting place.
“He’s right,” Maralou said after a long silence of contemplation.
“Na,” Malcolm responded. “He’s never right. Ever. About anything. Seriously. He looks like he showered in Boston Market gravy for a month. His opinion means nothing.” Maralou laughed and they continued.
Within a minute or two they could hear the sounds of camaraderie. The truth about the area was that most people lived alright. They lived off the land, sold some things that they made to the stores in town, grabbed supplies with the cash and, generally, were really good at sharing what they got. There were some inner disputes, people came into the community and left, but they were pretty much your average hippies.
Malcolm and Maralou followed the voices, which seemed to come from a large green barn that was at the center of the land Evangeline and the rest of her Phish-fan friends lingered. The barn door was closed, so Malcolm knocked. Maralou was still anxious, her teeth grinding and her mouth letting out little sucking noises.
“Who is it?” An unfamiliar female voice yelled out.
“Um… My name is Malcolm and I’m with my friend Maralou. We’re looking for Evie.”
“You mean Evangeline?” The voice responded. Maralou shot Malcolm a look.
“Yeah… I was just abbreviating because it has four syllables… But do you know where she is?”
“Who’s asking?” She asked again. Malcolm and Maralou went silent for a second.
“She just asked us that,” Malcolm whispered as he leaned down towards Maralou’s ear. Before Maralou could respond, the barn door flew open and a young, pale girl stood wearing a pair of sweatpants and no shirt.
“Were you guys like ‘what the fuck’ after I asked you who you were again?” She said as she laughed. “I’m Tonsha. Evangeline is just getting herself dressed right now.”
Malcolm and Maralou awkwardly introduced themselves, Maralou doing so without looking up and Malcolm attempting to do so without staring at the exposed breasts in front of him.
“You guys want anything?” Tonsha offered. “All we really have is bread and milk.” Malcolm starts to giggle and Maralou does the same, both wanting to ask the source of the milk.
Evangeline comes walking up to them.
“Hey guys!” She says as she walks over. She walked up to Tonsha and licked her earlobe as Tonsha slides her hand down Evie’s thigh. “These are my friends I was telling you about, babe.”
“Oh my god, I heard mad stories about you two. So happy to meet you guys!”
“Are your tits always out like that?” Malcolm blurted out.
“Mal, what the fuck?” Maralou lashed out.
“Yeah, what the fuck, Mal,” Evie agreed. “It’s just a body. Would you bat an eye if a guy was shirtless at the beach?”
“I’m sorry; I’m just not used to having tits out in front of me.” Malcolm turned his body away from Tonsha and Evie. Tonsha and Evie turn towards each other.
“I’m so sorry, baby. Are you okay?” Evie asked Tonsha.
“I’m fine, babe,” Tonsha responded. “We can’t expect everyone to live by the standards we’re living by. Some people are just so trapped inside the standards of modern society; they can’t help it.”
“Come on,” Malcolm blurted. “I’m pretty loose in my standards, but I feel a little weird when someone’s got their tits out in front of me.”
Maralou diffused the situation with some girl-power support and quickly left the barn with Evie and Malcolm as Tonsha said she was going to need an hour to find her center after Malcolm body shamed her.
Once they got outside, Evie starts laughing.
“What was that Eve? You turned on me. Judas,” Malcolm said half joking, expecting an explanation.
“I’m sorry, man,” Evie began, “we’re just rolling right now on a sexual level and I gotta keep going with it.”
“Really?” Maralou interjects. “You come out here and become a lesbian? You kidding me?”
“I’m not a lesbian,” Evie started, “But, like, there’s not that much going on out here, so we spend a lot of time expressing ourselves physically. She’s opened me up to a whole new world and there’s times when I just…” Evie stopped abruptly as Maralou accidentally made eye contact with her. “Dude, are you okay?”
Maralou attempted to respond, but struggled to find the words.
“That’s why we’re here,” Malcolm explained. “Figured we’d come see you about it cuz you seem to know all types of gypsy stuff and…”
“And we both feel like there’s something ghoulish going on,” Maralou said, finishing his sentence.
Evie began to walk quickly in front of them.
“Hurry up!” She yells back at them. “We need an electromagnetic field that’s gonna be stable enough for me to analyze you safely.” Malcolm rolls his eyes and Maralou begins to jog towards Evie.
When they got to the tree, Evie told Malcolm to take a walk.
“Why?” Malcolm responded.
“Because I need all of my attention on her right now. Just take a walk and come back in five minutes.
Malcolm walked away and left the two girls at the tree. Evie immediately started to inspect Maralou, moving his hands over her energy fields as she asked her questions.
“Any symptoms in the eyes?” Evie asked.
“I can’t look at anyone,” Maralou responded.
“Why? What happens?”
“Do your eyes hurt?”
“Nope. Mal said his eyes hurt when he looked at me, though.”
“Bad sign. What about heart symptoms? Any pounding in your chest?”
“Yeah. It’s been coming and going. I’ve been doing some of that deep breathing when it starts to bother me and that works, but it takes a couple minutes.”
“Good, good. Now, when did this all start.” Evie gets down on her knees and moves her hands over Maralou’s stomach with concentrated, calculated movements.
“Today. Woke up feeling like this.”
“What happened last night?”
“Nothing. Went to bed early. Slept a lot.”
“How much is a lot?”
“Like, 10, 11 hours I guess.”
“Without waking up?”
Evie stood up in front of Maralou and wiped off her knees.
“What do you think?” Maralou asked.
“I think you got yourself a demon.”
And it was at that time that I had to leave. I was driving the girl crazy and it would have taken every ounce of energy I had to get her to start doing the things I wanted. I headed towards the barn, hoping to slip inside that chick Tonsha’s throat. She was a sure thing.
I can’t speak for all the other countries on the planet, but when it comes to America, I can firmly say—and this is without a shred of doubt—that one of our most debilitating flaws is our over-reliance on the most conventional response.
One example is with the weather. Let’s say it’s mid-March, two weeks before spring break at an overpopulated urban high school—the dog days of winter as the most grizzled of teachers will tell you—and, upon scanning the faces of the students in the class, a near-tangible sadness hangs over their lackluster movements and expressions. Then, you look out the window and remember that it’s rainy and it’s been rainy for three days and spring flowers aren’t even showing their faces yet.
Now, as a collection of people—this analysis does not exclude me (we all think together)—we are too quick to settle on the weather as the catalyst that created the gloom that hovers out of sight but all around the classroom. I guess it’s reactionary. Everyone is bummed out because of the weather. Next item please. Maybe it’s some ancient reflex to blame our issues on the weather outside, rain dances and biblical storms and whatever superstitious shit sailors do.
More realistically, though, the gloom that is plaguing the classroom was brought about by a myriad of converging factors and waring energies. Maybe the weather put someone over the edge; maybe it fucked up a couple mornings and put some volatile people in some potentially volatile moods.
It’s a distinct possibility that the weather had a pacifying affect on the student body, turning some anger into a reflective, low-dose of melancholy. If the sun had risen early in the morning and hit the freshly fertilize, soon-to-bloom flowers, the chain reaction of events could have been near catastrophic. Maybe, instead of a sullen air sweeping in and out of the student’s lungs, a foreign air would reach them instead. Then, the pollen-filled air would disperse some sort of sinus discomfort to a quarter of the student population. Now you have 25% of the kids dealing with the hankering obstacle of misplaced snot and the other 75% are breathing in and out the fresh air.
Then, you have to deal with the inevitable conflicts that unravel like clockwork in a vacuum that leaks. Sprinkled with the more tranquil vibrations of a collective downheartedness, these conflicts are much less likely to set off chain reactions, and even less likely to render definitive outcomes. Outcomes or conclusions are the children of life. Spring in bloom brings new life. Spring in gloom maintains order and prolongs stability. New life is one of the most powerful things on Earth, but it’s the creator of both good and evil, almost as if it were the fuel they run on.
Another example—and I’ll try to be less tangental this time—can be found in the most common passing phrases. What’s up? Hey, how are ya? Hello. Sup dude. How’s it hangin’ playa? All of those one or two line conversations that we just throw back and forth at each other throughout our days. Why keep saying the same thing? Why not pass each other and make a joke or tell them an interesting fact or just make something up or pretend that you forgot how to speak the language or anything other than repeat the same phrase? We turn communication into a chore sometimes.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we should rip the fuckin floorboards up and start tearing the lid off of everything that’s covered and make sure it’s the right tool for the right job. We gotta give every inch of occupied land on this floating ball of Earth a clean sweep. Let’s reset this dust-covered attic.
Disorder may ensue, but I just looked outside and I see some green on the trees and I see the rainbow swirled inside the flower beds and I hear the birds chirping. Spring in bloom brings new life, but it’s the creator of both good and evil.
Maybe I’m just young and naive…
But maybe I’m also something else. I am young, and, as I’ve been told by sources of information I have the utmost trust in, nativity ALWAYS correlates with youth, so I will begrudgingly agree to the latter as well. Even with this labels, the reality of the situation is that every time something has been ripped up by its roots—whether it be Rosa Parks sitting down where she knew she wasn’t supposed to sit or John Calvin calling out the church for its corruption and overall backwardness—there was someone with the idea to dig into the soil of the forest, flatten the land, and build a new foundation.
The counter argument is this: “So, every time someone reaches 28 and has a brain on them and an eye on radical, positive change, are we supposed to just call in the bulldozers? It’ll be just like this whole gender saga, where they made two in 92 and only further diluted a system already rife with excess verbiage.”
While that counter is not completely incorrect, it fails to acknowledge a time in which the system needs to be ripped down and built back up, and everyone, regardless of age, sex, class or race, agrees that when a system begins to swell and expand, it will eventually explode if it is not uprooted and replaced with a more modern alternative.
Now is the time. Think about it. Unequal distribution of wealth. The internet. Breakthroughs in quantum theory. A two-party political system that is serving the opposite function that it was intended. Everyone’s social security number can be bought for the right price. Most doctors are closer to peddlers than healers. Most healers can’t even heal themselves.
I thought of myself as a healer. I’m gonna heal myself and help out the rest of this old world. Maybe I’ll reappear in another life and maybe I’ll get it right that time.
There was a man from down the street that said that there were spirits in his water. He lived alone and didn’t work.
First, he heard them whispering. Every so often. Simple phrases usually. Sometimes just a whistle.
The whispers became more frequent. They seemed to be moving closer. He followed the sound of each one, jotted down any phrases he heard, mapped out what he believed to be its exact location.
After an hour, he identified a pattern.
The whispers were coming from the pipes in the walls.
And that night when he relaxed his neck onto his pillow and pulled his neat white sheets above his uncut toenails, he quickly drifted off into a deep, deep sleep
And dreamt dreams
that always ended with a tidal wave smacking down in close proximity.
Flood replacing the people.
Like the way it used to be, but he couldn’t remember.
He put the dreams together with the whispers and the pipes and decided that the spirits were in the water.
He tried to live with them for a while. He didn’t really go about it the right way. You can’t just go back to ignoring them. That’s what he tried to do. Lying to yourself is a spiraling slow knife that’s pointed right at your heart. He knew they were there. He knew they were in the pipes. He figured a handful could pack themselves into even the tiniest drop.
When he received his next water bill, his hand would not cut the check. He tried. Wasn’t happening.
He stopped drinking soon after. He would suck down a couple glasses a day, but he would only drink just enough to lubricate his mouth during his bland, dry meals.
He became clearly repulsed by the sight of any clear liquids. Occasionally, after exerting himself past his shrinking limits, the sight of a drop of sweat crawling down his skin would prompt him to gag uncontrollably.
As you can imagine, his appearance disintegrated. He ate less so he could drink less. He never showered. His skin looked as though it was being slowly cooked from the inside. He stopped moving everything but his eyes for quite a while near the end.
Eight weeks he went on like that. Didn’t eat. Didn’t cough. Slept. Woke up. Looked around. His eyes bounced and bounced. Everything else was still.
Eight long weeks. Eight weeks.
Seven days in a week. Fifty six days. Twenty four hours in a day. One thousand three hundred thirty four hours. Sixty minutes in an hour. Eighty thousand, six hundred and forty minutes. Sixty seconds in a minute. Four million, eight hundred thousand thirty eight, four hundred seconds.
Eight long weeks.
A number of theories emerged as to how the body remained alive so long. Trans-like state. Out of body experience. Long lineage of endless survival. Excessive thirst for life. That type of shit dominated the conversation.
One theory was never discussed. Just the ramblings of a lonely old man coming to grips with death…
But the old man was right; there were spirits in the water.
They had been living inside the mustard yellow liquid that he kept surrounding his heart. As every other liquid rapidly disappeared, the chamber of the heart swelled with haunted bile, slowly beginning to leak out in every direction.
After four weeks, he disappeared from the body. No more blood ran through his veins. His lips were like plush stone. His skin dissipated like cracked chalk.
The spirits covered his skeletal structure with a thin coat of that yolky bile that they had all been hiding inside of. They turned his bones to stone and he became a steady, cooperative subject.
They carved out a path from his lungs to his throat. They quickly organized and initiated a routine that would help minimize chest movement during the inhale/exhale process. They slowed his breath down to next to nothing, the way that hibernating animals do.
Then, they covered his eyes in everything he’d been ignoring.
And he watched them.
All the time.
When they found his body, they pulled back the sheet and took the body of a man who’s life came to an end due to the shackles of time and an unfortunate set of circumstances.
They did not see the cloud of shadows that followed them all the way home.
It found a way to the water. determined to crawl inside something else, something younger, something lively, something with a future that could be manipulated.
Gotta give it to the old man. He said there were spirits in the water. Nobody believed him. Come to think of it, the old man couldn’t even believe himself.
How many times do you have to spin a circle before you realize that you are spinning in a circle? Ah, the argument ensues. When did you begin to spin? When did you make the conscious, definite decision to spin? Did you start spinning when you put your bones in motion or were you already spinning the instant your subconscious focused its intent on spinning?
These are the things that the philosopher tackles. I’m nursing the philosopher inside of me. I used to be a scientist, but the machine broke down…
I spent most of my childhood in the backyard with a magnifying glass, a pencil and a notebook. I was born to be a scientist. My father was renowned in the midwest for his part in the captivating study of fungi in tropical-climates. My mother claims to have always carried an interest in science since birth, although it is up in the air whether or not her claim is a piece of revisionist history. The family joke between my father and I is that her side of the family couldn’t tell a molecule from a mitochondria.
In the seventh grade, I won the local science fair by creating a four inch wormhole using what I have self coined a theoretical space technique. The experiment was simple; stacking text books on top of each other and adding two plastic trains to a cyclical path of train tracks. After using the appropriate theoretical space technique (there’s too much to it to explain right now), I tapped the first train into the second train and, like some kind of illusion, the trains disappeared for four inches of the track. There was no lag time between disappearing and reappearing. The trains moved exactly as if they would on any other flat surface, only this time they slipped part of the tracks.
There were four total rounds to the competition. In the first round, I was pretty nervous because I hadn’t yet presented. I always preferred the lab coat to the business suit. With my heart rate fluctuating and my voice shimmering, I set the trains in motion in front of the judges for the first time. They seemed perplexed, but withdrawn. Shortly after, I found out that I had advanced to the next round.
This time, with my nerves behind me, I ventured to study the faces of the men who held the fate of my science fair career in their judgement. I hadn’t seen anyone else’s experiment. Deep down, I figured my experiment was more advanced than any other, but my little boy nerves told me that the judges had it out for me and the experiment was nothing that hadn’t been done before. When the trains began their loop of disappearing and reappearing without lag time or shadows, I observed all three judges get hit with a humbling vibration.
I loved the way it felt. These guys were success stories living upper middle class lifestyles with note-worthy careers in one sect or another of the scientific kingdom. They came down to the science fair and volunteered to judge out of kindness (and possibly a sense of civic duty, but I have no grounds for that claim). So, none of them knew how to take it when those two trains just kept winding up space, disappearing and reappearing without time elapsing. They were backhanded by the outcome, which forced their hands.
They had two options. They could either inquire—three well-respected men from the field, this is—as to how the theoretical space techniques were applicable on a three-dimensional plane or they could just nod, half smile and give me the trophy without losing face to anyone else (aside from themselves due to their own ensuing feelings of inferiority, that is).
The last two sets of judges did the same as the two before and, I went home from the seventh grade with a certificate that said first place. Well, they also gave me a frozen, dead frog to dissect, a pair of binoculars, a “science rules” keychain and a few other little trinkets, too.
None of that matters, though. The whole point of that story was to demonstrate that I was onto something. I guess prodigy would be the word. That’s the one the papers used and that’s when the interviews started. Here is a short excerpt from my one on one with Keefer Southerland’s first cousin for Rolling Stone Magazine.
Me: Space-time always made sense to me.
Interviewer: Would you care to further elaborate on that?
Me: Yeah… I don’t just mean I can recite the definition, either. Once the theory was grasped in full to me, it changed my perception of reality.
Interviewer: Wow, wow. Must have been a trying time for you, huh?
Me: No. It changed me for the better. Before then, there was always a jitter in me, stagnant energy, a feeling that it was part of self-regulation to sabotage all logic. Once I could fall asleep in the idea that here, now, there and then are all entangled, I was free. My creativity and focus have fused in the middle of my forehead and I see the edges now.
Interviewer: For the folks at home who struggle with the vernacular, explain what you mean by you “see the edges now”…
Me: Um, I guess it means I have no limits to my army of solutions. If I could find you in the waking, I’ll come find you wherever you run to in the dreaming.
Interviewer: Woah, that’s some heavy talk. Can you back it up?
Me: Let me know after you wake up tomorrow.
I thought I was hot shit. I kinda was. Cocky plays well at first as long as it’s not insulting.
Next thing I knew, I had my degree in quantum mechanics and my PHD in… damn, I don’t even remember what the fuckin’ diploma said, but it ended up being elite-white code for quantum mechanics. I had staff members working for me—people 20 years older than me kissing up and calling me sir—and I had been given complete freedom for discovery. They wanted me to stay in the realm of what I had made my name with; wormholes.
They wanted to commercialize my theoretical space techniques. From time to time a man in a military outfit would walk in with a guy in a suit who had really good posture and ask me a few questions. It was pretty comical usually. With blank eyes, the nearsighted, close-minded, low-functioning army general would ask if I could make his troops disappear at one point on the map and reappear on another point on the map. Instead of explaining that I couldn’t just drag all forms of life through a theoretical vacuum and leaving it at that, I always made sure to weasel a little more information out of him. The first time was the best. That general must have been the only applicant up for that promotion at the time because he was an awful protector of the whispers that drift off the truth. With a couple questions and a little back and forth where I was making up science words just to fuck with him, I was able to identify the country, the mission’s objective and the misinformation that accompanied the accurate information that he so cavalierly shared with only the slightest nudge.
NASA stopped by one time too, ya know. I pretended to be in a trance-like state and then, in a violent outburst, explained to them that I knew, without a shred of doubt, that Armstrong’s steps on the moon were staged and filmed in Pinebrook, New Jersey and that I would never associate with an organization that continues to perpetuate such an unnecessary farce. They never came back after that.
Then, finally, suddenly and without warning, the day that has shaped my disposition came. It was nothing special, another day in March. I was working on an expansion funnel using low-grade wind tunnels and an ear-piercing combination of high-pitched beeps and flashing pastel strobe lights. I think I was crossing the energies on a steeped, cosmic plain divider and using the beeps to create blemishes on the stagnated air that surrounded the plain-dividing device (an arduous task to put it lightly).
It happened right after lunch. I remember I had just eaten a roast beef sandwich from a shop down the street. Solid sandy. After lunch, everyone went to the conference room and I got trapped in a thought as I glared out of my laboratory room and into the illuminated corridor that my coworkers were currently roaming through.
Whatever had initially driven me to stare off into the blankness of the clear glass door disappeared. I heard a voice who must had been hanging around my thoughts for a while say “Nothing ever happens in a controlled environment.” I turned my head, but no one was there. The thought was for me, even if it didn’t come from me in the most traditional sense.
And things snowballed from there.
The thought played on repeat until it sunk so deeply into my foundation that I began to trace it all back to the beginning, back to a place where every experiment hadn’t been spoiled. Everything I had filed away in permanent ink, all those pillars of knowledge that I had been ornamenting with research, were now engulfed in rubble, the house of cards torched and swept up. Control. Ruling class. Set the rules. Paint the information. Illusions. Keep them all in line. That’s not what they set out to do, but when you write the bible you’re responsible for what the characters do.
In short, I unraveled exponentially. I tore apart everything I believed in because of a flaw the discipline itself used as one of its earliest building blocks. Each thought led to more questions and more if’s and more sinkholes in science’s paths of logic.
Nothing happens in a controlled environment.
It got me thinking about medicine. An infinite number of variables lay between every daily medication that a doctor prescribes. Take pill A at (blank) time and (blank) time each day with water and two months later we’ll check your blood pressure and if it’s returned to normal then you’ll be staying on that pill for the rest of your life as it has corrected a malfunction. But, as it turns out, correcting the malfunction is nearly exclusively always an ineffective means at gaining an advantage over the malfunction itself. Then, everyone’s blood pressure returned to an average test result. Cool. However, 62% of them were diagnosed with type-two diabetes within ten years of beginning the high blood pressure medication. Next thing you know, the medications are piled on top of each other and contradicting and cancelling eachother out. Now the test results are off and there’s no reversal at that age so you just have to deal with your deterioration and instead of having a blood pressure number in the substandard 35th percentile, you’re a diabetic test-tube who the doctor would put out with the trash if he could.
I had saved some money over the years, but there was nothing to sustain anymore. I’d wake up in the morning, read a little bit, eat my oatmeal with a cup of tea and then try to do anything but think about how I had built a home inside of something that had been swallowed whole by the tidal wave of a truthful reality superseding order and conquering it with a storm of chaotic dysfunction and existential whispers.
I hear the whispers, though. They say you’ve got something wrong with you if you’re hearing them, but I don’t want any spoken word to be sailing through my sonic realm to get past me. I can store all the information. Sometimes I forget it. I’m just kinda learning to let things go, to let them lye where they land. I’m trying; I didn’t say I’m succeeding.
You know what one of the whispers told me? He told me there’s a little more than a loose affiliation between science and race. Science’s emergence conveniently coincides with an era of what the white ruling class refers to as “environmental inquiry”. In reality, it was a time when the intellects of the ruling class, fresh off a pep talk from Darwin and his buddies, were aching for the quantitative evidence that proved white superiority (particularly over the black race).
The black race, with their slaves of the south and wide-eyed “free” men of the north, created a moral dilemma within the white bourgeoisie class. By virtue of sheer wrong place at the wrong time, the black race became the subject of the powerful and under-worked gossip hounds whose names were on the deeds that stretched to every inch of those mile-wide plantations. They’d sit around with their powdered wigs, little asian fans and puffy dresses and smoke mountains of tobacco and recall exact lines of text from classical literature to somehow come together and figure out if it was wrong what they were doing to the slaves who were roasting in the sun and not even half way through the work day.
Unfortunately for the black race, the bourgeoisie class is relentless in their stubbornness. Instead of their discussions guiding them towards the true moral statement that states “nothing kept without freedom”, they landed on a few studies done by Dr. Darius Stephenson-LaBeau, a well-respected southern intellect and only heir to his father’s six Lousiana and Alabama plantations (over 425 slaves and 45,000 acres a man with a southern drawl told me he reckons they own). In Stephenson-LaBeau’s expert opinion, the black man, “although distinctively superior in terms of individual strength, is decidedly of a lower caste, nay, genus, than the man of the highest cultural standards of Western Europe. How did he ascertain this information? Well, he had his slaves in a controlled setting and studied their group against a second group, which he was lent as a favor from the local warden who had his hand out the next time.
The study concluded that the response time for group A (all African slaves) was nearly non existent and that the response time of group B (all American born white convicts from families that came from wealth) was “exponentially faster”. The circumstances surrounding the exercise were not concisely stated in the proper format for a formal scientific study, but, using the information that was provided by Dr. Stephenson-LaBeau, it appears that the non-English speaking Africans “are too simple minded to connect thoughts that are no intrinsically tied together” and “clearly would occupy a subordinate function in any government that they praised loyalty to.”
Another activity included a spatially expansive environment, which Dr. Stephenson-LaBeau claimed to have gone to the “99th degree” in securing the six miles of forest that the activity took place at. Upon arrival, both groups were given verbal instructions (without translation) and they were forced into a hunting competition. The group of white convicts performed within the range that Dr. Stephenson-LaBeau had hypothesized as “normal” (although it was towards the bottom of the range) and the slaves finished only a handful of vermin short of their counterparts. However, Dr. Stephenson-LaBeau took only the total numbers of successfully hunted vermin, which, unfortunately for their future, left the slaves just below the threshold between “Below Average" and “Normal” (he was rigid to a fault when it came to predetermined thresholds). Instead of acknowledging that they were not given instructions in their native language, acknowledging that the forest in North America are not the same diamonds as the jungles of East Africa, acknowledging that the terrain was completely unfamiliar to the slaves but familiar to several of the white convicts… Instead of acknowledging any of those things, Dr. Stephenson-LaBeau stuck with his guns, and used the information to support a reality that was convenient for he and his peers in the ruling class.
And the immorality just slides on down from there. Science is not holy. Science is a fabrication. It’s man-made, an obsessive-compulsive tick that the spirit of some man who wanted to conquer got clicking and clacking inside of him.
Nothing was holy. God wouldn’t threaten you with hell for not kissing up to him like clockwork every Sunday for an hour. Jesus hung out with all those prostitutes and never fucked one? Get the fuck out of here. The jews didn’t build the pyramids, they just re-wrote history. The Egyptians and Aztecs had some type of communication. The vikings all got reincarnated into American cowboys out on the Great Western Frontier. The Crusades weren’t really as bad as they say. The Mongolians were a lot more friendly than history paints them. The Native Americans definitely didn’t want to create disorder, and, given the way they speak of the battle between good and evil, I think they would have played their hand similarly even with a mulligan. Shakespeare's stories didn’t come from one man and, maybe, there was no Shakespeare at all. The plague was really a widespread haunting.
I sound crazy. I am aware. However, I find blind belief in information provided by a party with an agenda to be far worse than any of my half-baked conclusions.
And now, wouldn’t you know it, I’m just as helpless as everyone else, lost inside the spinning, sweaty hands of eternity. As we speak, I am questioning my own existence and until I scratch that itch, I’ll be dead center on the crosshairs of stagnation. It takes a while to die from lack of joy. It won’t take as long for my automatic payments to start malfunctioning. What matters more? The clean slate of death or…
Well, death is always the last road taken before the highway unfolds and all of this world’s blending dimensions go back where they belong. Death is like evaporation in the water cycle. You can see someone deteriorate just as you can see a puddle grow smaller in the morning’s rising summer sun. You can see the light disappear from their eyes just as you can see the puddle ceasing to occupy a place on the pavement. With the water cycle, we trust that the evaporated moisture fulfills its function and replenishes tomorrow’s fog, drizzle, snowstorms, mists and dreary-day showers that go on and off and on and off.
The philosopher in me is having a really hard time dealing with the fact that Death, like the water that swings steady on 70-something percent of this magnetized rock, is floating all around us.
The scientist I used to be keeps trying to tell me that he’s seen death come and go, painting gray-washed abstracts on days that were made to shine.
The philosopher in me has lost control, given into the sickness of the spinning. Now, we just spin and spin and never change course.
The philosopher in me gets really confused, writes long winded explanations that take days to properly articulate and then erases them.
The philosopher in me is starting to realize that there are a lot of philosophers who spent their entire careers talking in circles; kinda like the scientists who gain notoriety for advancements that are later labeled missteps.
The philosopher in me says yes. I’ll ask him again next week. Maybe by then I’ll find some semblance of hope that I haven’t been spinning from the start. Maybe then I won’t continue to be haunted by the thought that everything and anything is just what you make of it and a golden palace of thought can be bulldozed and sold for the price of copper when that shine goes out of style.
The fundamental flaw in our logic may come in our understanding of ourselves. We aren’t really anything. We are constant motion in multiple directions, spinning in a circle, rotating around a fixed point of energy along with everything else.
So, tell me, where is the “I” in this equation? Self obsession is a disease. It will haunt you like the ghosts that start getting real close when it’s time to get moving again. The flaw is early in the foundation of our pyramid, miles and miles underground, a tick off dead center of the focus of the source of all magnetic energy (gravity); the place where we all get sucked down into, the place that we’re all confined to.
There is no “I”. Every second of every day is just filled with moments of passing time that are somewhere between the near past and the near future, oftentimes tipping the scale in one direction or the other. Experiences are just the recognition of sensory stimuli that we observe haphazardly. Each instant holds an infinite collection of colors and songs and data and everything else, from daydreams to nightmares to beauty through horror; we just fall asleep in the habit of seeing one small speck of the canvas and we stare at it, far too often for much longer than we should.
Where is this “I” that we’re all so stuck on? In the mirror? The phenomena of dysmorphia dispels that notion. The classically beautiful so often spend an inordinate amount of time trying to come to grips with their appearance: you think what they look into in the mirror is the same as what we see when we walk by? Do we even see the same thing? Or do we all interpret energy differently? Do we only agree on classical beauty to keep order? Shine comes in virtue, not in physical perfection. Life is the essence of imperfection.
And virtue, well, that ain’t the easiest thing to nail down, either. Sometimes it appears that you have met someone with a shine that is unending, a perspective that is unshakeable, a spirit that is always dancing in the glitter of glee… Then the fuckin’ lightning crashes and you see that they’ve been playing on your perspective to put themselves on the top of the mountain, and as their armor of glory reveals itself like the portrait of Dorian Gray, you see their beauty melt away, replaced by the hideous reality of their self-serving nature.
What is “I”, anyway? When someone says “I know who I am” they never do. None of us do. It’s fluid. One day we’re up and the next day we’re down. One day we’re the dog and the next day we’re the sunrise. Through one pair of eyes we shine and through a pair of ears we dissolve.
I searched for a long, long time for myself only to find that I am an abstract painting that shifts and shutters, catches fire and branches out into an eternity of electrical wires that connect to each and every form of life that ever was and ever will be. The angels and demons have always walked right through me, puppeteers and shoulders to cry on, selfish and selfless, back and forth on the rocking chair of a pendulum that always matches its previous swing.
They’ll tell you that you’re this way or that way, but don’t take it so personal. They’re not wrong and they’re not right. They just are, just like me and you. Sometimes they want you to change your behavior and sometimes they just want to put you in chains. Sometimes they want to change you for the better and sometimes they want to run away with their favorite piece of your soul. Sometimes they’re just trying to distract themselves from the burden they’ve been running from for the past fifty lifetimes and sometimes they’re just in a bad mood and they take it out on you.
I’m not here. I and you and them and us and all that shit is a dream within a story that we tell ourselves every day; the plot of a narrative that we watch through the lenses of our eyes… But the film is always best to watch without a preconceived notion of the unfolding of its events.
So, what if disease wasn’t inside out, but outside in? What if our body just shows the curse of the world running inside its complex system of human to human—soul to soul—interactions?
We’re a world of lost souls, right? Flawed people raised by flawed people, looking for a path to some sense of happiness, some loose longing that we all share to some extent. We forget that we all suffer from the same disease.
I and I. I can only be as good as you. I and you are the same. We’re all one big thought in one big brain, trying to stay sane. We forget it, though. Guy in the next door office is having trouble, guy’s a nervous wreck, we start shaking too, the shiver travels down the line. Give the guy a couple minutes, telling him you’re hearing him.
Cancer is a collection of cells that eat each other. The body turning on itself. What else would you call individualism? People turning on each other. Slamming doors. Cameras in the doorbell. Don’t pet my dog when I walk by you. What, man? Letting me pet that dog is gonna make me feel so much better right now. I got a bad thought I can’t kick. You could of just stuck him in the backyard but you decided to take him for a walk. So, let me pet your dog… all the time for up to ten seconds, no more, rarely any less.
Tangents. Cancer is people not having each other’s backs. Top to bottom, bum to billionaire, Wall Street to Market Street, uptown to downtown, coast to peninsula and the tundras and the deserts and all the oceans and those icy edge continents where the eskimos roam I’m told. Can’t be right wing, left wing; we call that broken wing. I and I.
You’re just walking around in my mind, in my dream and I’m in yours, in your dream. Literally, you could be born on one of those icy continents on the top and you could be an eskimo. Why are you here and why are we now? Make the best of it. Don’t take advantage. Creepy guys, I’m talking to you. If someone’s doing what your three year old daughter does when a drunk man stumbles towards her, then she’s not liking what’s going down.
But not just the creepy dudes. Everybody. Bossy girls and pompous guys. No one cares. Don’t judge each other, don’t turn on each other, lend your neighbor milk or butter or whatever if people still do that shit.
Cancer stops. Effects of cancerous vibration need to be healed. Traffic in the ether. Unsettled karmic energy shifts. Discomfort continues. See a little hope, though. Process of healing. Waves from one soul to another don’t arrive smoothly. Cracks along the roads of the streets between you and me, disrupting the proper conductors of electricity. The trees don’t have problems like these. They get along with all the birds and all the little critters, like come on in fellas, maybe tonight the fox can sleep inside the bed between my roots that are coming out of the ground a little and maybe tomorrow Mr. Coyote and his nursing lady can claim the palace. The other party can simply do the same three or four trees down, which is customary etiquette in the forest. No one wants someone sleeping in one tree over. They’ll be afraid you’re gonna steal their breakfast.
Tangents. Sorry, I get lost in the forest sometimes. I’m not sorry, though. But anyway, cancer is reflected on the inside when it is rampant on the outside. Woman to man, man to woman, child to child, camp counselor to laundry lady to custodian to accountant to lawyer to teacher to cop to convict to student from Wall Street to Market Street to everywhere else including those icy continents at the top and bottom where the eskimos roam I’m told. We’re tied up like pretzels, tangled in knots both steel and string and no one knows how any of it is working.
I was busy dreaming for most of the day. It just felt good, ya know? That escape. Dreaming isn’t like anything else, man. It’s, like, something that is more real than everything, but at the same time so fake. Think about it: What the fuck happens in our minds--the same minds that process whole-scale system automatically--to make us just end up in a foggy, almost-always-recognizable setting where we see people but no one ever walks into the room. And sometimes they just disappear and you can’t pinpoint when.
If you think about it though, maybe that’s even more like our reality than we perceive our reality to be. Somebody says “how long have you two been separated?” and you say you haven’t seen her in three years. What’s more real: The fact that you haven’t had her close enough to your eye-line to see her in three years or how you are dealing with it?
Hear me out on this one. Two people could both have been separated from their spouses for exactly three years, same day, same minute, same second. One is still heartbroken, filled with regret, has trouble holding a thought without it being interrupted by the cloud of gloom that is as sure to surface as the sun is to set. Meanwhile, the other person spent only the first month hampered by a diffuse sense of regret. By the second month, they began to feel gleam of freedom, sometimes so strong that their regret firmly disappears. The next time their regret returns, it is in short stories, no longer a cloud poisoning your atmosphere, this time more focused, a vignette where an unrecognizable version of themselves is the antagonist. After a year, they’re firmly over the separation, their former spouse placed in their past surrounded by their positive qualities, and when they are recalled at random, they just smile, having already reinforced the definitive affirmation that they wish them well.
So, look at those two people. Similarity: they both haven’t seen their spouse in three years. Difference: One is still so close to them, while the other is in another lifetime. Just like a dream, people come and then they go without you ever knowing exactly when they showed up and when they left.
Anyway, I gotta get some air. From an energy standpoint, it’s not good to stay in your house all day. Gotta see some people, even if they’re only at a distance, and breathe in and out in a different place, drinking different air than what I’ve been spitting out all day, to keep my vibrations on their feet.
Life’s just a big fuckin’ box of repetition and every day you’re pretty much sure what it’ll throw at you (with some obvious exclusions of course). But I’m talking about an average, run-in-the-mill day, schedule booked until 6, maybe fuckin’ later if people try to take up the same space at the same time with their cars. Things change when you change a routine, alter, customize the template. The more changes, the more work it takes to perfect the new routine, the more work it takes to perfect the routine, the more likely it is for you to just be like fuck this, and when you keep getting the fuck its, you just end up falling asleep all day in your discomfort. Think back on the most chaotic period of your life and you’ll realize that even then there was a routine, a pattern of existence, actions and reactions, an abrasive melody, but a melody all the same, hopefully one you don’t have to try to sing along to again.
I took 12 hits from my bong in the garage... That sounds like a crazy amount but it doesn’t seem like that while I do it... And now I’m just sitting in my fucking car looking at my phone. Like a fucking dumbass, I’m just scrolling through Facebook out of habit, like I’m a fucking 12 year old snot-bag at a family party, not looking for anything or open to reading anything, just getting drugged by the blue light because I guess that’s become a reactionary impulse now. I realize I’m an idiot, pick a song to listen to and I start pulling out of my driveway. I slam on the brakes because I guess I thought I might have forgotten something. I didn’t, so I let go of the brake and started to leave.
I live in a relatively affluent neighborhood in a definitively affluent town in an absurdly diverse 10 mile radius of North Jersey. The houses are spaced out and everyone has a decent-sized backyard and almost everybody’s grass is really green all summer because that matters to all of them. They don’t even fucking look at me. I don’t think it’s anything personal; they don’t even look at each other. I guess that’s what happens when your lawn is big enough that even the few people straggling by that see you picking the weeds out of the cracks in your walkway are far enough away that eye contact is hard to come by and if you get caught just staring at them, waiting for them to look up at you, you’ll look like a guy in his mid-40’s with a boner peeking into The Little Gym.
I’ve got about four minutes of side-street cruising before I get to the main road that divides the town, but there are plenty of assholes on both sides of it, so it doesn’t make a difference to me. It really is beautiful where I live. I mean, my house is kind of a mess inside right now, but when you drive down the block, there’s an aesthetic charm to it. It’s the end of winter and it just snowed a foot and a little a couple of days ago, so the streets are all painted black. The trees have a little snow still on them--wait, no, they don’t--and there’s still a few spots of stacked snow from the plows. The sun is on its way down and it felt about 45 outside and the sun feels like it’s nibbling on my earlobe through the window.
Fuck. God damn it. Where am I? I can’t believe this shit still happens when I’m stoned. Every once in a while I’ll be driving and I’ll just be stricken, nay, overtaken, by absolute confusion as to where my physical body is at that specific moment in time. Sometimes, like, I have no fuckin’ clue, not an inkling of comfort in the realm of proximity, as to where I am. Usually I see something that I hadn’t noticed before and I guess my mind probably places it among some other things that are somehow similar to it and then my mind’s gotta be like, shit man, that’s not where you are, get a fuckin’ grip and then I go into panic mode, like an instinctual reflex, quickly reassessing my surroundings and regaining an understanding of my surroundings.
But this time... I mean, I don't even know how to share this information without you just thinking I’m a fucking psycho, but all anyone ever does is share their evaluation of reality, so I will tell you mine. I’m sitting in my fucking driveway again. I didn’t stay there the whole time. I wish you could see my face right now cuz if you could, you’d see that this isn’t just another moment of stupidity by a fading stoner. I have no reason not to admit that I just got so stoned that I sat in my car, had an elaborate daydream of driving through my neighborhood and then snapped back into it with the car still in park. I’ve admitted to acts of mindless stupidity that this one would pale in comparison to, normally presenting them by my own choosing as humorous tales of weed gone wrong.
No, I know for a fact I pulled out of this driveway. I have fuckin’ proof. My car is playing this song off a Modest Mouse B-side album and it’s two minutes in. Right before I backed out of my driveway, right after I caught myself compulsively and aimlessly scrolling through social media, I put on this song by this guy Howie Payne and it’s like a two and a half minute song. I picked that song and backed out like four and a half minutes ago.
I remember recognizing the sun feeling good coming through my window just as I turned off of Lithcalf, which happened just as the song has this culminating moment of sorts with backup vocals coming in, layering it perfectly and he says something about dangling thread. And I remember I was passing Kathy Kuntlenger’s house when he says “you keep time close by,” which is near the end of the song, maybe with 35 seconds left. And I remember making a right on Ridgestalk and noticing this lady’s house that always looked messy from the outside and who I developed a kind of sympathy for by I guess just making up a story in my head about how she lost her husband and her sons don’t talk to her too much and she didn’t keep up with her front yard because she figured it didn’t fuckin’ matter anymore.
But I’m not sure if the song had changed by then. I don’t remember any sound at all. I don’t remember anything after that. How many minutes do we actually remember though? Nearly all of them are discarded completely and even though we take little snapshots to put in yesterday’s collage, those are just single, random frames to a recording that never turns off. A recording that stores more than you think, editing, zooming, filling in the empty space when needed. Kind of like a dream. Exactly like a dream. A reality created by a seemingly randomized grouping of settings, transient characters, void of a clear beginning or a clear end. No greetings or goodbyes, just lingering influence, rotating company in a revolving backdrop of locations, most familiar and commonly revisited and others absurdly routine, oftentimes seen in passing, fitting into a pattern to keep away the discomfort of those stagnant vibrations that come from sitting in your house too long.
Life’s kind of like that too. I walk out of the car and back inside and go back to being busy dreaming.