Living in such a state taTestaTesTaTe etats a hcus ni gniviL of mind in which time sTATEsTAtEsTaTeStA emit hcihw ni dnim of does not pass, space STateSTaTeSTaTeStAtE ecaps ,ssap ton seod does not exist, and sTATeSt oFOfOfo dna ,tsixe ton seod idea is not there. STatEst ofoFOFo .ereht ton si aedi Stuck in a place staTEsT OfOFofo ecalp a ni kcutS where movements TATeSTa foFofoF stnemevom erehw are impossible fOFoFOf elbissopmi era in all forms, UsOFofO ,smrof lla ni physical and nbEifof dna lacisyhp or mental - uNBeInO - latnem ro your mind is UNbeinG si dnim rouy focusing on a unBEING a no gnisucof lone thing, or NBeINgu ro ,gniht enol a lone nothing. bEinGUn .gnihton enol a You are numb and EiNguNB dna bmun era ouY unaware to events stneve ot erawanu taking place - not -iSSuE- ton - ecalp gnikat knowing how or what TWENTY-TWO tahw ro woh gniwonk to think. You are in 01/30/96 ni era uoY .kniht ot a state of unbeing.... ....gniebnu fo etats a
Yeah, year number three. Who woulda thought? Not me.
Frankly, it makes me feel old. I started this thing in my last semester of high school. Ouch. I'm twenty now. My writing, thankfully, has improved immensely. And the zine has definitely come a long way.
We aren't gonna go anywhere. We've been down and come back. The SS and even Lilo the Duck couldn't stop us. So why don't you come be a part of this fine tradition?
<gets into request for submissions mode>
It's not that I don't get enough submissions. I'd just like to see some new faces every now and then, which we do have in this issue. Don't know whether we'll take it? Have you seen some of the stuff we've printed in the past? Yeah, that's what I thought. Send it in.
Wanna torture me? Send in huge pieces that are REALLY good so I'll have to put them in, and then you can cackle with delight as I try to make a 4000 line document in my wimpy text editor on my 386SX... yeah, I make a sandwich everytime I load in one of IWMNWN's stories.
<submission request mode off>
Whatever. It's late, I need to get this thing outta here, and this issue is so good I don't need to say anything about it. So there. Nyah.
Welcome to 1996. It'll be the last 1996 you'll ever have.
[this issue we had a few more letters than usual, and they were quite unusual, to say the least. well, okay. maybe a couple were just plain stupid, but hey... i thought they were funny. --kt]
From: Daniel Holt <HOLTD@lib.pvhs.wash.k12.ut.us> Organization: Pine View High School WHERE ARE THE PICTURES OF MARINA SIRTIS
[actual letter i received. he wins the SoB horny geek of the month. as for the pictures, i'm sure they're lodged in many a young trekkie's head. all you gotta do is pry it open.]
From: "Jorge A. Benitez" <email@example.com> Organization: U.C.S.D. I'm looking for images of Marina Sirtis. My e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org Sincerely Jorge Benitez
[apparently we've become a hot spot for people looking for marina sirtis. well, she ain't here. jorge wins the dubious honor of being the SoB horny geek of the month runner-up, only because he sent his message later. maybe jorge and daniel should get together. that way one can tighten the vice on the head while the other readys the drill...]
[this one is self-explanatory. see if you can guess they're rating criteria. god, form letters really show how much people care.]
From: McKinley Review <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Your site awarded 4 stars by Magellan Congratulations! Your Internet site State of unBeing http://io.com/~hagbard/sob.html has been selected by The McKinley Group's professional editorial team as a "4-Star" site. This is the highest rating an Internet site can achieve in Magellan, McKinley's comprehensive Internet directory of over 1.5 million sites and 40,000 reviews. As a Magellan 4-Star site, you are being awarded a special logo to recognize the hard work that has gone into establishing and maintaining your site. [various HTML codes cut out] Here at The McKinley Group, we pride ourselves on our ability to recognize the best resources on the Net. Your site has excelled in our rigorous review process, in which we consider three primary factors: depth of content, ease of exploration, and Net appeal. [various HTML codes cut out again] Congratulations again on your 4-Star award! We at The McKinley Group wish you continued success in all of your Internet endeavors. Sincerely, The McKinley Group, Inc. http://www.mckinley.com email@example.com
Dear Editors I believe that the acknowledgement of ourselves as citizens of the earth is a concept in direct conflict with the 20th century western "philosophy" of egotistical self-importance, which to a large degree precludes compassion for others. I think this same premise inhibits our ability to look beyond the familiar boundaries of reality to which we cling so desparately. By even considering the reported accounts of human-alien interaction as possible, I find they eerily mirror man's own treatment of other members of the world's community, as well as the planet itself. I believe the alien phenomena to be yet another wake up call to our own humanity. ". . . To me that's why puzzles like UFO's are interesting. I don't have a personal theory to "explain" them, but I see them as an opportunity to pose new questions. If it's true that information resides in the questions we ask, coming up with novel problems may be more important than having answers, at this stage of our very limited understanding of the universe." Jacques Vallee (computer scientist, author, and UFO researcher) Thanks for your consideration, K2. ADVOCATE DISCERNMENT REPRESENT TRUTH Say NO to deceptive alien entities. For FREE stickers and info send self-addressed stamped envelope to: V2, Box 911, Stanwood, WA 98292 Fear Not. Spread the Word.
[hey, free stickers and info. besides, sooner or later, SOMEONE has to be right about the aliens...]
Dark Crystal Sphere Floating Between Two Universes
I Wish My Name Were Nathan
The benevolent city of Austin has officially passed and enacted a camping ban, which is an ordinance meant solely to take away the homeless person's right to sleep where he can be seen. No matter that the city claims to achieve a "high quality of life", they have again taken a contradictory and dehumanizing step to criminalize homelessness and poverty.
When a person sleeps in a public place, such as a street, a park, and the common areas of hospitals, schools, and bus stops, he will be fined up to $500. Community service is an alternative to the fine, but doing neither lands him in jail.
Pure justice. Making an obviously poor person pay an exorbitant fine or do community service for the crime of sleeping.
Does this ordinance in any way agree with the promise of a "high quality of life"? No.
The city has passed other laws in the past to wipe the streets, namely a smaller camping ban along the Drag, and an ordinance against public urination.
The urination ordinance is pure justice as well, disallowing a person to perform natural bodily functions. Of course, the numerous businesses in Austin have bathrooms, right? Yes, but I doubt they allow "non-paying customers" to freely use their facilities.
You see, the businesses promoted both ordinances. Businesses exist solely to make money. And what greater detriment is it to business than to see a homeless person dying outside?
Let's discuss the homeless person. Contrary to popular opinion, many do have jobs. But they're shitty jobs, the kind of jobs that most Americans will not accept, because it takes away their dignity. Fast-food drones. Sanitation engineers. Stockboys. Telemarketers. Yet the homeless person takes the job, and loses even more dignity in not making enough to pay for an apartment, which are at least $350 a month. His boss is a businessman, someone who wants to keep as much money as possible. He will not give the homeless person a wage higher than the federal minimum wage.
Let's discuss this person as a biological entity. This is an animal who has nowhere to sleep, besides the oft-full occasional church or shelter with restrictive rules. The animal's body and brain are not allowed to rest and recuperate until it can find somewhere to lie down. A large patch of earth is completely covered with roads and businesses and jealously-guarded homes. By the ordinance, this animal should not be allowed to sleep anywhere on this patch of land.
However, thirty miles in some direction is bare land. This bare land may fall outside the definition of "public area", but this bare land is the property of someone, and is fenced off. Being caught on this bare land entitles the owner of the property to aim a gun at the sleeping animal, and use his own best judgement to fire it if he feels threatened.
Police are entitled to arrest the animal and throw it into a jail, which is a place where other animals live who very much dislike their situation, and will not linger to take their aggression out on any new animal who enters. And, sleeping in the jail puts the animal on a blacklist, which makes it more difficult for the animal to find a job in the future, which will prevent it from purchasing land to sleep on, which will simply get him arrested again.
This entire dilemma is caused by only one thing: greed. The businesspeople pushed for the ordinances to be passed, for one reason so that they can make more money, and for another that they don't have to be reminded of their own greed.
Actual people with money should be just as offended as the impoverished homeless. Businesses only want your money. By pressing for the ordinances, they demonstrate their hopes that you will not be discouraged to spend your money due to the sight of someone without any. They even demonstrate their utter lack of compassion about those people's quality of life, although they claim to be very much concerned about the quality of life in Austin --
I can't hope to convince you to overthrow the capitalist economic system. You are greedy and care about your own life too much, as well. But, I hope I can convince you to look at the lives of people every day being trampled further under your feet by lack of compassion.
Let's have a piss-off.
The plan is simple. Gather up all your friends and neighbors, anyone who is in any way connected with the economic system, and go to downtown Austin and pee on the businesses. This is to protest their support of the two ordinances I described above.
Be sure to tell them why you're peeing on their storefronts, sidewalks, and windows. Tell them you're no longer willing to subsidize the suppression of the poor. Tell them that businesses have the same responsibility to the city that everyone else does, which is to enhance the quality of life, not only in Austin, but everywhere else; not only for moneyed people, but for everyone who is alive. Tell them that you won't stop peeing until the businesspeople agree to allow anyone to use their restrooms and to push for the repeal of the camping ban. And pee on City Council until they repeal the ordinances.
And hold your nose.
Oh, to know so much and to be able to do so little.
Really, what can I do here? My current field of expertise is being a computer science/math student in college, and writing fiction and essays for State of unBeing. The former occupation is a clear waste of my time, especially considering the themes and subjects of anything I have ever written in my life. It is simply mind-candy for me, nothing more. But what about my writing? What purpose does it serve?
To illustrate the point, let's consider all writers. There are several types of writers, and I choose to divide them into three categories: entertainers, moralists, and formalists.
The first category includes well-known and sometimes respected writers of fiction and non-fiction, whose purpose is no more than to tell an interesting tale. I hold no outward prejudice against them, as they have a wide audience and therefore a purpose, only allowing myself to occasionally grumble "hack writers" under my breath. I respect the work they do, especially those writers of lawyer stories and murder mysteries and pointless horror stories, since I don't get out often enough to rubberneck at real-life car accidents.
The last category consists of educated people who write about specific areas of subject matter. For scientists and mathematicians, such areas include the discrepancies in Paleolithic and Mesozoic subterranean plant life, finding the integrals of erratic n-dimensional functions, and other subjects I could make up. These writers are extremely valuable in chronicling the exponential rise of concrete and abstract human knowledge. Other writers, such as lawyers and government officials, can bite my bag.
So where does this leave me, the neurotic college student? Right in the middle -- I'm a moralist. Mainly. Moralists are writers of fiction and non- fiction who go to great lengths to devise tales (or arrange facts) in such a way as to make very important points about humanity. Often it is through examples of extreme but common cases of immoral behavior -- greed, lust, murder, symbolic or actual. Symbolic greed can be jealousy. Symbolic murder can be the rape-murder of the child's mind through condescending disrespect by those who hate carefree innocence. Moralists know that humanity is tainted by clear, omnipresent faults, and cannot stand to watch how the world suffers by them.
In a tipped-over fishbowl, the moralist is the fish, writhing and flopping about, who screams out (through fish telepathy) how horrible it is to lack the ability to breathe air, and how horrible it is to die, and how horrible it is that something tipped over the fishbowl and everyone is doomed. The other fish are non-moralists, who choose to ignore the moralist while writhing and flopping about, who die knowing how horrible it all was, but who don't bother to share their experiences with anyone else, not giving a shit because they know everyone else is going through the same thing.
By the way, such a convoluted example is the clear mark of a moralist.
I respect moralists for their work in bringing out the obvious truths that surround us and making them seem much more important than they are. It at least makes people think. Too many people are content to live believing that whatever happens around them is bound to happen, and that there are victims, and that there are winners, and that nothing can be changed. Living lives of quiet desperation, as Thoreau said. It's comforting to realize that others share the same problems you do. Yes, others have been screwed over by money. Yes, others have seen power ruthlessly amassed and corrupted. Yes, others feel how you feel.
Moralists raise people's hopes unnecessarily, because they make you believe that things can be changed. But, unfortunately, it's true -- nothing can be changed. Five-and-a-half billion people have millions of strands of DNA that say this, and this only:
Now, surely this doesn't apply to you. But you know some people...
It's you. And your mom. "Win."
Oh, damn, how could I have forgotten? "Win" is in the DNA of every single living creature. The uniquely human part of the DNA occurs in the form of two nucleotides along the fourteenth chromosome that differ from our most recently deceased predecessor, Homo erectus. The two nucleotides are of adenine and thymine, which is inconsequential, but their message, as transmitted through the brain due to the altered electronegativities of the proteins they produce, is this:
Now, that's you. That's me. That's my mom. None of us will admit it, but we know it's true.
Win and lie.
So modern humans were born! Homo erectus never had a chance.
Alas, you can see that I'm a cynic as well as a moralist. Whether writing or not, an uncynical moralist is best known as a bleeding heart. This type of person spouts off about troubles all over the world, and has the nerve to push for changes that will hopefully solve the problems. Being optimistic, he or she will not try hard enough, and will not go to the right places to institute the changes. Bleeding hearts who write can be found in the editorial sections of newspapers under headlines crying, "This must be changed!". Those who don't write, vote. It's a fulfilling cyclic life to lead, and it doesn't greatly upset the day-to-day workings of anyone.
Cynical moralists come up with much more grandiose ideas. Cynicism and morality is a deeply dangerous combination: we realize that nothing will change without the help of a widespread upheaval of effort; changes which may cause vast, long-lasting human suffering. But we don't care: everyone's already suffering enough.
Unfortunately, cynicism breeds a fuckuva lot of apathy. How long have people been making huge changes, again? At least ten thousand years, through revolutions, wars, exploration, colonization, education, genocide, birth control.... And it's still the same. People still adhere to these tenets:
Win and lie.
The prospects of changing humanity for the better? It's a damned bleak thing to think about.
I have a serious mental flaw. Although I'm a cynical moralist, I have occasional spastic impulses to be optimistic. These impulses haunt me. I never know when one will hit me. When it does, my entire viewpoint on life changes. I start to sweat. My stomach flutters. My arms twitch. I so much want to rid myself of this mind-wrenching anomaly, but I can't. Optimism breeds optimism. I fear it will never end.
Right here, I take a big screaming 180-degree turn.
I believe humankind can be made less of a menace on the earth. I believe humankind can be made less of a menace to itself. The proper pathway to achieve this goal requires natural selection.
As you may know, natural selection is the process by which animals and plants in nature live and die. It's where no one at all comes to the help of a sick animal -- as no one except a human even knows what's happening, no one except a human even cares. Animals live day-to-day, trying to survive. Their peers don't look back when one falls over.
Humans, through our use of techology, have conquered the problem of survival (except, of course, where money interests cause an entire nation of homeless people to struggle about under our shoes, but that's another topic). And humans greedily want to conquer death, through medicine. Certainly, in our modern world, this seems well and good; there's no reason to change it, right?
There is. We must give up our war against death.
But you don't want to. The reason is: Win and lie.
You see, the current widespread patriotic belief is: "Everyone on this earth should have the fullest right to the best medical care."
You lying bastards. The American health care plan fell flat for your lies. You don't care about everyone on this earth. You only care about your loved ones, and maybe yourself. When natural selection -- leaving an injured person to die -- came into the discussion, you probably thought, "What if that happened to my mother/father/kid/fuckmate/ME...?!"
"Win": you want to live. "Lie": you act like you want everyone else to live, too.
Medicine has done an extreme disservice to the people of the planet. No one dies anymore, except by accident, crime, or old age (and war falls under crime). But we still reproduce like rabbits. Look around you. The earth is serving five-and-a-half billion people now, which is twice as many as in 1950, and which is fifteen times as many as a thousand years ago.
I'm not going to throw around scare tactics about the lack of food or living space, because they're not true. But I'm going to ask you to look around:
Look at the animals. Look at the plants.
Did you see any?
Okay, you saw your dog and some grass and a tree. But look at your floor. There used to be plants and animals living right there. Look at the roads that crisscross the world, that are being widened every day, that smother miles and miles of vegetation. None of these things in itself is evidence of supreme natural destruction -- there's still patches of exposed land around -- but consider the fact that a road whizzing through open country fucks up the patterns of all the animals around. Noise and flashing lights are scary. Wild animals will not hang around a road. The exhaust from the cars undoubtedly has an effect on the plants. Look at the skyline of your favorite big city.
Is the world shot? No. Environmentalists will have you believe we're destroying the earth. It is absolutely true that humans, with their big brains and intricate hands, have completely changed the face of the earth. We've built homes and factories and skyscrapers on it, we've mined it for minerals, we've paved it over, we've dropped all sorts of explosives on it, and we've dumped chemicals toxic to every sort of life on it. But some animals and some plants are still around.
But, we're changing their environments too quickly. Those animals and plants were here before us, living in evolutionary time. Now they're being forced to adapt to human time, which is millions of times faster and more destructive. Humankind is a whirling tornado on the earth.
The only way to save the earth is to cut down on humans and human developments.
Back before technology, humankind was essentially animal in nature. We died like animals. Although there was always someone around to care for us in times of need, to provide water and natural remedies, people died more often than not. Things called "plagues" swamped entire countries, because people were defenseless and uneducated about the spread of microscopic organisms. There were no quarantines, no emergency rooms, no powerful antibiotics. There was only what nature provided and the added placebo of human love.
The one thing we have over animals in the wild is that we can make ourselves free of natural predators, through the use of tools and weapons. Perhaps we should let our guard down and let disease and fate once again control us, as they used to do.
Since technology is what allows humankind to live so grandly (both in quantity and quality), the destruction of technology is the most obvious way to cut down on the human population. But it would be impossible for the people of today to survive through such a violent change in lifestyle. The changes must be gradual and voluntary. The "voluntary" part necessarily requires the changing of recently-acquired and greedily maintained beliefs.
First. Money sucks. Get rid of it. Our modern world is one where our survival instincts have been replaced by the desire to make as much money as possible, in a sort of analogy to life. Unfortunately, it's not directly analogous. Whereas an animal can only be healthy, sick, or dead; with money, a person can be healthy, sick, dead, or very healthy, or way way healthy, or much too healthy -- stealing health from others. Nature wasn't made that way. The term "social Darwinism" has a lot to do with money. But it has nothing to do with natural selection: nothing in natural selection is grossly unfair.
I could fill pages with talk about money. I already have, in fact, in the chronicles of a guy named Ethan. They're in the fiction section, but the problems considered therein are very real.
Just take this as fact -- money is a curse worse than "Win and Lie".
Second, people in medicine must voluntarily give up their technology. This would be an extension of eugenics, which is, as you may know, the practice of letting people with terminal diseases die as they will. As you see, today the only hope for ending terminal diseases is technology. My proposal, however, called "natural eugenics", would include any and all disease. No one would even consider putting someone in a hospital, not even for pneumonia.
People must realize that death is natural. Today, people in modern nations everywhere fight death, afraid of it. The existence of medicine has only added to the fear of death, since it can now be avoided. Some people are even ludicrous enough to hope for immortality. Medicine must end in order to put humans back on a level with nature.
This is not to say that people with the common cold should die. Nature provides medicines in plants and herbs. How effective they are is what will decide people's fates. It was like this for tens of thousands of years. Humans survived.
Third, we must adopt strict birth control practices. I propose no sort of societal constraints against sexual intercourse, which is a violation of people's natural liberty. On the other hand, at-birth sterilization and, in rarer cases, infanticide must be used when necessary.
Without technology, we certainly won't be able to tell if the fetus has any deformities, but birth will soon show. We certainly shouldn't follow the pragmatic rituals of Mongol nomads, which decreed that deformed or weak babies, or "dead weight", should be murdered (exactly the same kind of playing God that medicine does today, in extending the life of such people); however, we should let such people live as they will, but without any assistance whatsoever. It is the mutation of genetic material which pushes evolution along. To murder a baby with deformed feet is ludicrous, when it may well be a feature that could prevail in the future.
However, a baby born with obvious defects, such as severe mental retardation or no brain or a hole in the back, should either be sterilized or put to sleep, if you will, since such defects will never conceivably do the human race any good.
Trying to let people with extreme defects survive in nature would simply be cruel, because even if they didn't die, their lives would be painful. The cruelest thing medicine does today is trying to force such people to live their entire lives in hospitals and in bubbles, not enjoying life, but only being kept alive to sedate parents who cannot accept death.
Fourth, adults should reconsider their opinions about suicide, and accept it shamelessly. Not only people with physical ailments, but also mental ones, should not be persuaded to keep on living simply to save others grief. But, rather than some societies have done in the past, suicide cannot be a decision made by society; only the person himself should be allowed to make the decision.
Consider the effect of current anti-suicide opinions on a severely depressed person, the kind who often thinks about suicide, who has very good reasons, who has considered the topic in-depth, but never does it. Why does this person decide to keep living?
Emotional pressure: the fear of death, the concern for those left behind, hope for the future. I discussed the fear of death above.
The concern for "those left behind" is certainly human, but look at "he who stays". If he's truly suicidal, he will always be suicidal, the intensity of the impulses changing over time. Emotional pressure will convince him to stick with it, for the good of others, while still feeling suicidal and depressed.
Concern for those left behind? What about himself?!
Alas, hope for the future -- that's my fatal flaw. This is the belief that maybe later, something will change and things will be better. It's probably one hundred percent true that things will be better. But you'll have to wait, and live with your suicidal mind until they do.
Look at the whole issue of suicide from the biological point of view, without the warping prism of human emotion. Suicidal thoughts are when an animal's brain is telling it to kill itself. Does this sound normal to you? Sounds like natural selection in a very clear way.
I think that depression and self-destructive thoughts were an unfortunate genetic mutation somewhere way back. The emotional pressures mentioned above, however, kept a great number of its victims alive and reproducing, much to the detriment of themselves and living people today.
Persuading people with extreme suicidal disorders to survive is simply cruel, because if they don't commit suicide, their lives are painful. The cruelest thing society does today is trying to force such people to live their entire lives in denial and false happiness, not enjoying life, but only being kept alive to sedate people who cannot accept death.
Finally, there's the concept of voluntary sterilization. Even if we follow the three concepts above, five-and-a-half billion people will still be around. Besides massacring innocent people, we ought to halt the rabbit-like production of new ones. Sterilization, unlike contraception, is a rock-solid promise that changing human moods can't circumvent.
Although this idea exists today, it still carries a taboo. We men, especially, ought to lose our egos and do the deed for the good of the world. Especially men arrogant enough to say, "I wanna pass these genes on, dammit," ought to be immediately seized and castrated. The world needs more docile, modest people.
Masturbation should be acknowledged and accepted. It's becoming more tolerated as the years go on. This might actually be a goal we can accomplish. I work hard every week at it.
When viewed biologically, these ideas ought to make sense. If your mind ever seriously considers the idea of slowing population growth by not reproducing, you ought to do it. Your brain knows best.
For suicidal persons, this may be an alternative. Outrightly encouraging people to commit suicide is heartless; after all, the suicidal thoughts might simply be a mood swing. Those who can't decide, or who are too manic- depressive to hold a train of thought long enough to, should consider not reproducing, to prevent having children who might live such tortured lives.
I know I will. Snip-snip, bye-bye, neurotic suicidal children.
Now, back to being a cynical moralist writer. The plan above is simply a piece of writing, persuasively trying to get people to consider looking at life and death in a (most likely) new perspective.
My moral throughout the piece is that people should stop trying to ignore the fact that they come from and are products of nature, and not demi-gods who should be allowed to unnaturally extend their lives. People should consider acknowledging their roots, a twenty-five-thousand year-old species which started its life-line like every other being on the earth -- living in nature, actually fending for survival. The fact that we've been able to extend our lives and overpopulate the earth is incredible, something to be amazed about. But we should be nostalgic about it, and not live in it. Look at the animals and plants we misplace, and the damage we do to ourselves in overcrowded cities. It's simply inhumane to live this way.
Yay, applause. A nice attention-keeping conclusion paragraph just passed. But I'm not impressed. My cynicism has taken hold again, and I don't believe anyone will take the essay seriously. Some men might say to a friend after reading it, "You know, I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna get my testicle(s) cut off from my reproductive system, maybe even removed, for the good of the world." Then they'll conveniently forget. Some others are probably nauseated at the juxtaposition of the words "voluntary" and "sterilization", soothing themselves with words like, "I'm going to have six kids and be a good father, by golly." Some women might eagerly consider the idea, but their mothering instincts will make them reject the idea, after "one or two" children.
Win and lie.
And that's all it is. That's people.
That's the cynicist in me acting bleak.
No, seriously, for the good of the world, consider these ideas. All you gotta do is act natural.
"The poets? They stink. They write badly. They're idiots you see, because the strong people don't write poetry.... They become hitmen for the Mafia. The good people do the serious jobs."
your head explodes
and you clip the nails
from your toes
but the sickening stench
of your fucking
insanely crippling lies
rape the cleanliness of the air
and make me sick as i breathe
a croquet ball would look beautiful
if it were stuffed deep
down your throat
and you wouldn't choke
oh hell no
you would close your bright eyes
and lie your way out of death
and the reaper would laugh
because he wouldn't want to deliver
such a sickening excuse
for a life
(of lack of one)
to his hell
so he drifts back in his self-made fog
and coughs as sickle gleams
by the nighttime sky
that reflects beautiful colors
upon your brains
that i have so painstakingly placed
upon a table
in the corner of your apartment
and the reaper keels over
still hacking like he has swallowed
a gigantic sewer rat
and he hurries away
because the stench of your lies fills the room
and it never goes away
The heart relates its story wrapped in black---
In darkness love and friendship both do dwell.
And there they bind each other without slack
in layerings of words, that wound or heal.
With words I try to wrap the spirit lace
And fail, the cording disappears from sight.
Now silence sneaks along,and takes its place
Enshrouding me in wordless, breathless night.
I now surrender, bound, I cannot stir;
Nor can I speak, when silence speaks its mind---
Expounding loud what I cannot infer:
How words, enlaced in silence, breathe entwined.
For who can know what windings, ties or ends
Enwrap the hearts of strangers, or of friends?
A 60 watt bulb
Goes crashin' to the floor
Sparks fly for an instant
Cause the damn thing
Defies laws of magic
And somehow remains lit
Pieces of metal
Followed by shards of glass
That go 'crunch' when
Yet slice like a ginsu knife
And as the room falls dark
Roaches are free to roam
Cause the drunk bastard
That broke the 60 watt bulb
With his sweaty
Is sitting in the floor
Because he broke
The 60 watt bulb
Bleeding in the floor
For a 60 watt bulb
Roaches walkin' on his leg
Crawling across the blood
Caused by the pissed off
60 watt bulb
The drunken bastard
Feels the roaches on his legs
He grows paranoid
In the dark
As he bleeds
He grows afraid
He screams and has a heart attack
He dies alone
In the dark
All for a 60 watt bulb
Bleeding and dead
For a 60 watt bulb
The roach crawls away
Fearing he may be
The next victim
Of the 60 watt bulb
A murdering 60 watt bulb
A 60 watt bulb.
Artemis gazed down with woeful eyes upon nightly passions.
Bright silver streams of sparkling tears slipped from her shining throne.
With keening lips and a keen perception, she spied the bastions
placed solidly on many a human heart. Oh! She did moan
for the tragedy of mankind as she looked upon the city.
Dangerously deft darkness swept through and left virtue at bay,
for New York City contains much pain and not enough pity.
Stagnus,lord of life without change, placed chains from which few could stray.
Yet through murky marshes of manipulation and strife
ruled by apathy and tinged with hatred where Stagnus did sit,
one single moonbeam mingled with tears sliced through filth like a knife.
It cut through a building window in dull lines of light. Then, it
crept across crumpled sheets on a fowl mattress, an ill-used bed.
Two enormous eyes filled with tears matched the brightness of the moon
and lamented with Artemis while their owner was far spread
across vile sheets in that sick room where yet another buffoon
would use her! Why must the poor girl exist in such misery?
Her tears stained the soiled pillow and her vehement sobs reached far
to the heavens where they lingered for a moment to blend in eerie harmony
with melancholy cries of Artemis that no man could mar.
In heavy vibrations, malicious laughter shattered the air.
Stagnus, enslaver of mankind, watched the girl's torment with greed
fully aware that in her helpless state she would never dare
to rebel against his tyranny. On her fears he did feed.
The young prostitute, now alone, dropped her bare feet to the floor.
Her fingers clutched her head as dark curled cascades fell through her hands.
Cecilia was her name, a noble name that all should adore.
It once belonged to the chaste saint of the blind; for good it stands.
The wonder of Cecilia was astoundingly clear in that
lonely solitude. She was too innocent to be striking,
too jaded to be pretty. Still, beauty clung close as she sat
smoking cigarettes. Her head spun due to thought's rapid piking.
She clothed her tired body and was soon outside on the dark street.
She let herself weep for the first time in years, no longer apt
to suppress the swimming questions normally locked up, discreet.
With a raspy voice she cried, "Why the hell can I not adapt?
How did I get to this God damned place?! Why? Why am I still here?
Where is my prince I waited for when I was a stupid kid?"
Bittersweet childhood memories (inappropriately near
prurient pornography shops she passed) left a box she hid.
"Oh God, how can I change when all I've known is pain? How the hell
can I scrape this life away, scrape away this fucking label
of a whore?!" Cecilia was caged under Stagnus' cruel spell.
She thoughtfully walked to the subway where she would be able
to go to the corner where she ritually met her peers.
Before it was reached, the thick odor of the station was smelled.
Her hand slid down the sticky railing and she wiped away her tears.
A decision had to be made, she knew, and fear dwelled
in her heart. The subway token trickled through grimy metal.
Stagnus awaited her arrival, eager for his herd
to have no strays, not a single girl like little lost Gretal.
When the subway came to a screeching stop, she stepped on, assured
that she must go, whether it be to her past or to a new
place. The wretched Stagnus cunningly closed in around the girl.
He tugged on her chains making them heavy and chances few.
Soon, halting floors, walls, windows clink-clanked in an abrasive world.
There stood Cecilia facing the open door to her downtown
corner, a very familiar passage to her shameful past.
Stagnus moved to her, a shrewd shadow with the grin of a clown,
white teeth flashing under blood-red lips -- his wits terribly fast.
"I beckon you, Cecilia, go through the door. Do not cause pain.
Do not feign a fate that was not made for you. You can't go
where you are not wanted. Do you honestly think you can gain
from parting with all that you've known? Am I to be made a foe
for doting upon you so fondly, for being the sole rock
to which you could cling? My precious Cecilia don't be a fool.
You belong to me. Oh, it does hurt to see my child block
me in this way. I am not a monster. I am not a ghoul."
"Please just leave me alone! I cannot take anymore. I ought
to resist, but can I face the world with a past black as coal?"
She turned and said with courage for once in her life, "Yes. You sought
and conquered my body, but I will die before you have my soul!"
The subway doors slammed shut and shackles fell from her heavy limbs.
Laughter tickled her senses. Her head reared toward the ceiling.
Small spurts of music escaped from her mouth in capricious whims.
She laughed with her arms spread beautifully above her, feeling
freedom, eloquence, and sheer glory swell and throb within her breast.
Stagnus was left behind staggering from her surprising blow.
He was soundly defeated. Raging, he fled to his base nest
to cultivate more followers whom he would seek and know
that they would never leave him, never want more than stagnant lives.
Let no hope be lost from the continuation of his work.
For despite Stagnus' power, some will take courageous dives
and leap bravely out of the dull darkness where Stagnus does lurk.
After numerous stops, Cecilia stepped on to steady ground.
Behind, the roaring snake slithered on through its cavity of black.
She ascended the subway stairs and viewed the world all around
her with destiny unknown and no regrets, no looking back.
Cecilia knew not where she was or to where she was headed,
but the first step of redemption for her was over and gone.
Above, Artemis's throne hung low in the sky. Embedded
in her pale lips was a faint smile on that hopeful eve of dawn.
Me, you, them;
we're all different
we see differently.
Eyes in muted sunlight
glowing greenly in their gaze
Me, I, eye;
losing balance, judgment, time.
Lips at rest,
lips curve outward
from the punctuating nose
resting on the shining face.
Seventeen, sixteen, fifteen,
where does it all end,
and why so?
The green discs dart away --
I am lost --
The sunlight blinds me --
Where does it all end?
We see so differently.
As told to the Scribe, Ciaran, by Squire Iwan of Llandaf Translated by Sir M. Ambrose Dewart, late of the British Museum Edited and put into more modern English by Dark Crystal Sphere Floating Between Two Universes (From Ms. 352 of the Connolly-Pearse Collection of the British Museum)After ye feast at which the Holy Grail of His Most High Jesus Christ was displayed at the Court of King Arthur, in the Realm of Camelot, the Knights of ye Table Round asked leave of Their Lord King to go in search of It, each believing God would show It to the Most Righteous among them. And Sir Rhisiart asked leave to be among those to go on Quest for this Relic, granted that he may go for one day and one year, and upon that time had the Krater not been found to return to Camelot, and not to search after that time. And this wish was granted by the King, and provisions were made, and each Knight took with him one Squire, and they did depart the Court of Camelot. And after their leaving, Arthur did ask Myrddin of the success of this Quest; upon which Myrddin did say that the Table would never again be seen compleat and in its full glory, and the King did despair.
And Squire Iwan did go with Sir Rhisiart to the West in search of the Holy Grail of Christ, yet no success did they come to until ye two and fifty days of ye Quest, at which time they came upon the village Beddrod. At this village they heard of a Wise Woman named Mair versed in the Magickal Arts and known of Divination who knew much of that Unseen; and who liv'd in an abode on the borders of the Grey Woods where none did wish to go. And so the Knight and the Squire left this village and went to the abode of the Wytch.
This Wytch did have a Mirror possessed of the Power to see that which is Unseen, and upon the arrival of Rhisiart and Iwan she did use this Mirror of Black Obsidian to see the whereabouts of the Krater of the Lord thy God. In this Mirror was seen a Krater wreathed in Fire, which was seen in a Cave of Crystal in a glen in these Grey Woods, from which a river did flow, which was under the Watch of a Guardian, whose face was not to be seen by sane men, save in the deepest dreams of childhood. And the Wytch did bid them take Amulets of the Fire-Stone, which were carved in the sign of ye Elder Ones, at which the Knight scoffed, saying he would not trust in the advice of one such as she. And so ye Knight known as Rhisiart and the Squire Iwan did leave the abode of the Witch and did proceed into the Grey Forest toward the Cave of the Grail.
The Pair did go forth through this Forest at great peril, for in this Forest did live the Ogres of Holthar, who were known to eat those who would try to pass through these Woods. In this Quest they did face many dangers which shalt not be recorded here, save that they did fight many a Fiend which would put and end to them.
Upon the seventy and fourth day of their Quest they did come upon the Cave in the Grey Woods. From the roof of this Cave did hang Spears of Crystal, as well as Crystal Spears upon the floor did lay. The recess of the Cave were not to be seen from its mouth, so into the Cave did the party go. Far down did they go, walking alongside of the River which from this Cave did flow, until they came upon a Sea deep within the Bowels of the Earth, in which blind fish and other creatures did swim. Upon the shores of this Sea did they walk long, until they saw an Altar hewn of Black Stone by the Hands of Thinking Beings upon which lay a Krater which did emit Light like that of Fire.
And upon their arrival at this Place a cry was heard such as could not have been made by a man of this Realm or any other Earthly One, not even in the wilds of the Dark Lands to the South, nor in the strange Lands of Riches and Spice to the East, nor in any other land, civilised or wild, and a Cloaked Figure holding a Staff of Crystal did appear from the Caverns unseen behind the Altar. And the Figure did ask for the Amulets of the Elder Ones, at which Sir Rhisiart did say that This he did not have. Upon hearing this the Being did Strike the ground thrice with his Staff of Crystal, upon which the Earth began to quake, and strange murmurs and chaunts rose from the bowels of the Earth, and Daemons strange and wild and of all sorts did come forth from the Earth and did carry away Sir Rhisiart to Some Place Beyond the Altar of the Black Stone.
Upon seeing this Squire Iwan did run from this Place of Evils out of the Cave, the Figure still screaming indistinguishable words in an unknown tongue after him. Once he ran out of the Cave the Staff of Crystal was heard the strange Figure striking the Cave Floor thrice again, and the roof did then collapse, sealing the entrance of the Cave. And from that Time the River which did run from the Cave was turned to a Black colour, and was poisoned by some unknown means. And this Poisoned River did kill the life in the Glen, which is now barren and shunned.
After these events transpired the Squire did wander the countryside until he was returned to Camelot, for a small ransom, by Gypsies travelling through the Western Kingdom, and the babbling Squire did tell of these things to the King, who did grieve for the passing of the knight in this terrible way, and bid the Squire's tale be writ down by me, Scribe to the High King. And these are the things which did happen as told by Squire Iwan of Llandaf to me, Ciaran, Son of Owain, Son of Dewi, Scribe to the High King Arthur at the Court of Camelot.
(For those wishing to learn more about this Manuscript and its history, and of the Connolly-Pearse collection in general, please refer to Sir M. Ambrose Dewart's The Connolly-Pearse Collection, and Other Mediaeval and Ancient Celtic Documents in the Collection of the British Museum. London: British Museum Press, 1986 reprint of the 1879 original, ISBN 7-856-86153-5.)
[12 jan 1996]
Gruesome, he thought.
She came at him with the knife, slashing blindly. He dodged to the left and struck out with his fist. Bone cracked. A scream. He whirled around, panting. Crimson flowed out of her mangled nose, and she cried in pain. The man bent down and felt the wrist of the small boy. No pulse. There was a large gash in the boy's neck.
"Why?" he asked, facing the woman.
"You made me like this," she sobbed. "I never had a chance."
He smiled weakly. "You always had a choice. You just chose never to exercise it."
"Fucking liar. You promised me. You promised!"
She leapt up at him, the knife raised above her head. He moved too late, and she buried the knife in his left shoulder. He punched her in the face again, causing her to fall down. The woman passed out.
"Where did I go wrong? I taught you how to live, how to be in control. Why didn't you understand? Now you've made such a mess, and I'm the one who has to clean it up. Goddammit, you can be such a cunt."
He grabbed the knife with his right hand and yanked upwards.
[8 sept 1995]
Cheetah and Mickey were sitting on the sidewalk when Donald approached them. They were old buddies of his from a warehouse job he had once held for about six months. Both men were now homeless, spending their days panhandling and dumpster diving to survive.
"Hey, guys," Donald greeted. "How's life treating ya?"
Cheetah laughed. "Not too good, unless you really think we like living like this." Mickey nodded in agreement.
Donald pulled two twenties out of his pocket and gave one to each of the men. "I need a little favor from you guys," he said. "It's nothing hard, and it's not illegal. Just keep your eye out for this woman." He handed Mickey a picture. The photograph showed a woman in her early twenties, brown-haired, green-eyed. Her skin looked pale, and she had a nose ring.
"Who is she?" Cheetah asked.
"A girl named Mary. She's supposedly been staying around here, and I need to find her. If you guys could help me out, I'd appreciate it."
Mickey studied the photograph and nodded again.
"Thanks," said Donald. "You can reach me at this number twenty-four seven." He offered a piece of paper to Cheetah, who took it. "I'll be waiting."
[12 jan 1996]
The man tied the strip of cloth ripped from his shirt around the wound. It was slog going, as he could barely move his left arm.
Gruesome, he thought.
He surveyed the scene around him. The room was small, dimly lit by a single kerosene lamp in the corner. There were a few holes in one of the walls, and the only window was boarded over.
The blood around the boy's head had already begun to dry in the carpet. He stared at the lifeless body for a long time, thinking about his senseless death. The child was never meant to be a part of this, but she had wanted him so much that the man had no choice but to give in. It was both for her pleasure and her safety.
"Too bad it failed," he said aloud. "Too fucking bad."
The woman began to come around. She pushed herself up onto her elbows and looked at the man.
"Help me," she pleaded.
The man stumbled over to her and sat down. He stroked her brown hair and wiped away some of the blood off her cheeks.
"Please do something," she said.
"I've done enough already. You can't be helped anymore."
"But I love you--"
"No," he said sharply. "You loved the boy. You hated me."
She looked away. "I know. But I can't go on anymore, not without... him."
"That's your own fault. You did it to yourself."
"You made me this way. Your hands are not clean."
"True, but you were the one who wanted him."
Her eyes closed. "Tell me the story again."
The man sighed. It was going to be a long night."
[17 sept 1995]
The phone rang while Donald was reading. He set down a tattered copy of The Stranger and pressed the speakerphone button.
"Donald? This is Cheetah. I've got good news for you."
"You found her?"
"Yup. She's staying in the old Millbrook Hotel on 41st. That place is spooky, man. I hear lots of bad things about that place."
"Don't worry about it. Next time I see you, I'll give you something for your trouble."
"Thanks, Donald. If you need anything else, we'll be around."
Donald hit the off button and grabbed his car keys.
[12 jan 1996]
The man began. "Once there was a young girl who lived in the forest. All day long she played and danced and sang, and at night she slept under the stars. She would swim nude in a small pond every morning, enjoying the cool, clean water.
"One day a small boy came to the pond and sat at the edge, watching the girl. She did not notice him and continued to swim until he jumped into the pond. They swam for hours, and she was happy to have a playmate.
"They fell in love and lived together in the forest, playing and dancing and singing. Life was good. Then one day an old man came to the pond. He had a long white beard and walked with a cane. He told the children of a part of the forest where other children played. The girl and the boy were happy to hear this, because they could finally make new friends. So they followed the old man."
He stopped and looked at the woman. She was smiling. He continued.
"The old man led them to a cave in the side of a mountain. He told them it was a secret passage to the other side of the forest. They went inside, but instead of going to the forest, it ended at a large pit. The old man pushed them into the pit, where they starved to death."
"You changed it," the woman complained. "They were supposed to live happily with all the other children."
The man frowned. "Things change. Things change."
[18 sept 1995]
Mary wasn't at the hotel the first night, but the second night, he found her. She was sitting on a mattress, staring blankly at the walls. Donald closed the door behind him.
"Hello, Mary," he said. "You've been gone a long time."
She didn't move. He sat down beside her.
"I know what they did to you, what I did to you, was wrong, but I'm here to make everything alright again. No more pain, no more suffering -- you'll be like you were before. You'll be happy again."
Mary opened her mouth and closed it. She put a hand on her chin and pulled down. Her mouth opened. She pushed up. Her mouth shut. Donald took her hand and held it tightly.
"It's going to be okay," he soothed. "I'll take care of you. I promise."
The sound of shattering glass and a scream came from the hallway. Donald pulled Mary to him and held her.
"I'll find you someone new. I will, I will, I will."
[12 jan 1996]
"What now?" the woman asked. "What is going to happen to me?"
"I don't know," the man replied. "Everything is so confusing right now. I have to think."
"But you are supposed to know what to do. I depend on you. I didn't know what to do tonight, and look what happened."
The man leaned forward. "Why did you kill him?"
"I don't know."
"Yes, you do. Tell me."
"He wanted to leave. He said I wasn't nice anymore. He said I was a freak. He made me feel bad. I got angry."
"So you killed him for that?"
"It was the only thing I could do. I couldn't let him go. I needed him."
"Even if he was dead?"
"You were wrong."
"You weren't being nice. You know that."
The man coughed and swallowed the phlegm.
"Are you going to punish me?" she asked.
"Sometimes you just have to let go. People have the right to do what they please. You can't make slaves out of them."
"He shouldn't have tried to leave. None of this would have happened if he stayed."
"You'll never understand, will you?"
"I do understand. I'm just the old man, aren't I?"
"Not yet. There's still a chance."
"There never was," she moaned.
[30 oct 1995]
Mary was silent for the first month. Donald had moved her into his one-bedroom. She stayed in the bedroom. He slept on the couch.
During that month Donald left the apartment only to buy necessities. He was with her constantly, reading to her and talking to her. She ate on her own and used the restroom when she needed, but she would not speak.
Each morning, the same routine occurred. Donald would get up, fix breakfast, and he and Mary would eat. Then he would bathe and dress her, and they would sit on the couch where Donald would try to cajole any sound from Mary's mouth.
At first he read her children's books: Grimm's Fairy Tales, Dr. Seuss, Beverly Cleary. He read the daily paper, Roman mythology, and finally anything he had lying around. Donald finished The Stranger that way.
Whether or not this was helping, he didn't know. Donald hadn't been one of the main members of the experiment, and he was definitely not a trained psychologist. But he blamed himself, and he was determined to get her back to normal.
He had one-sided conversations with her about the weather, sports and politics. He told stories about himself numerous times and began making up stories to overcome his boredom. Donald feared she would remain this way forever, and the thought of having to take care of her like this frightened him.
Still, he continued.
And then, one morning, on his way back from the supermarket, he found a young boy asleep outside his building. He was wearing tattered jeans and a t-shirt and looked like he hadn't eaten for a week. Donald shook him and asked if he would like something to eat. The boy said yes. Donald led him upstairs, planning to feed him and call a social worker he knew.
When Donald ushered the boy through the front door, Mary was sitting on the couch. Her eyes widened, and she smiled.
"Hi. I'm Mary," she said. "Can I be your friend?"
[12 jan 1996]
The man stood up, pulled a Kleenex out of his pocket, and blew his nose. He crumpled the tissue up and dropped it on the ground.
This is not going to be easy, he thought. I'm not supposed to let it drag on forever. Something needs to end this, but what?
"Are you leaving?" the woman asked.
"I have to," he explained. "I've been here too long, and you are the only one who can help yourself now."
She got on her knees. "Tell me why you made me like this. I just want to know."
He paused for a second. Should he tell her? Surely she deserved the truth after all this time, but would it be too much? The man didn't think it would be right to not explain his actions, but he didn't want to throw months of rehabilitation away.
"I don't think you'll like what you'll hear," he said.
"That doesn't matter. I deserve the truth."
"When the doctors found me, I was sleeping on the streets. I was a mess, drinking away any cash I got and barely surviving. They took me in, gave me a job, and helped me in every way. So when they asked if I could help them, I thought nothing of it.
"Did you know what you were getting into?"
"No. Honestly, I didn't. They lied to me just like they lied to you. Point being, I thought we were doing you a favor."
"How could you think that?"
"I'm not sure. I guess I deluded myself, and it was quite pleasurable in a sick way." He turned away. "I don't ask for your forgiveness. Nothing can make this situation any better, and that boy's face will be in my dreams until I die. You have the consolation of knowing you'll haunt me forever as well."
"I don't want solace. I want to know why. You still haven't given me a straight answer."
The man turned back and knelt beside her. He put his hand on her shoulder. "The real reason? I wanted your affection."
"And you thought you could get it that way?"
"No. But I did it anyway."
[30 dec 1995]
Mary and the boy played constantly. Donald never called child services, deciding instead to house the boy for Mary's sake. It seemed to be the right decision. The boy's name was Ricky, and he had been living on the street for six months after he ran away from home. He was twelve.
Donald bought them toys, and Mary showed considerable improvement. She talked almost nonstop now, sometimes to Donald's irritation. But he never said anything, as he was happy to see her getting better.
A few times Ricky broke down and cried, saying how much he missed his parents but couldn't go back. During these times, Mary played the role of a mother, holding and comforting him. Donald thought it was beautiful, for he could never have done that. He also thought it was a sure sign of her recovery.
The bond between the two grew. They slept together in the bed, and sometimes Donald would stand in the doorway, watching their bodies slowly rise and fall. He felt he had done some good for once and was well on his way to rectify the situation he had helped create.
And then when he came back one morning from the grocery store, they were gone. Nothing was missing except for Mary and Ricky. Donald panicked. He drove down to the Millbrook Hotel, but they weren't in Mary's old room, and no one he talked to had seen anybody matching their descriptions.
Donald tracked down Cheetah and gave him some cash. They and they scoured the downtown area looking for them. They searched old tenement buildings, back alleys and shelters. No one had seen them.
Two weeks later Cheetah called Donald. He had found them. Experience extreme deja vu, Donald left his apartment to see them.
[12 jan 1996]
"Now it's my turn," he said. "Why did you leave?"
Mary frowned. "I thought I was better, and he wasn't happy there." She pointed to the body. "I needed to get out, to show to myself that I was okay. It didn't work out too well, did it?"
"No. I wanted to help. You should have told me. I would have done anything to help you."
"You kept us trapped like prisoners. You were no better than the doctors."
"Then why didn't you say anything?" he asked angrily.
"I was afraid. Afraid of you."
"You had no reason to be."
The woman touched her nose and grimaced. "You've made me look how I feel. Ugly."
"You were never ugly."
"Fuck you. Just go away. Get out. Leave me alone."
The man got up, looking hurt. This wasn't the way he wanted to end this. He needed closure, an amiable ending with her.
"Can't we talk about this?"
"No," she said, motioning towards the door. "We're through here. I can't be near you anymore. It hurts too much."
"What will you do?"
"It doesn't matter. Go."
"Fine. If that's what you want."
The man got up and went over to the boy. He lifted him awkwardly and put him on his good shoulder. The boy was light. He opened the door and stopped.
"You know," he said, "you'll always be beautiful to me."
Silence closed the door behind him.
[5 may 1993]
Donald felt the warm sunlight caressing his skin as he sat on the park bench. An old man sat beside him, puffing on hand-rolled cigarettes.
"Nice weather today, ain't it?" asked the old man.
Donald nodded absentmindedly.
"Did you know that in Paris in the late 1800's, it was illegal for women to wear pants? My grandmother told me that when I was younger. Don't you find that amazing?"
"What, that women had no rights back then?" Donald asked hurriedly. He didn't want to talk. He had come here to relax. "They can wear pants now. I'd call that progress."
The old man chuckled. "Yes, getting women the right to wear pants is such an important step in human evolution."
"But don't you think it would be dumb to not let them wear pants?"
"Of course. Yet shouldn't we be more concerned about bigger issues?"
"You're the one who brought it up, man. I'm just telling you what I think."
The old man took a drag from the cigarette. "Yes, you are, and I thank you, because most people would never indulge in conversation with an old codger like me. Let me ask you this. Have women's rights come a long way in the past 100 years?"
"Definitely," said Donald. "They can vote, hold jobs, and do anything a man can."
"So they're equal in every way?"
"Then I guess the question to be posed next is how far men's rights have progressed."
Donald get off the bench. "Why are you asking me this? I came down here to rest, and you're berating me with all this philosophical mumbo-jumbo. I don't need that."
"Yes, you do. Everyone needs it."
"Look, old man, the human race is a lot nicer than it was a century ago. We have--"
"Nicer?" the old man laughed. "One hundred years makes us nicer?"
Donald looked frustrated. "You know what I mean."
"Son, let me tell you something," the old man said, flicking his cigarette into some nearby bushes. "I've been around for the better part of the century, and nothing's changed. Oh, sure, we've got all these fancy technological gizmos to make our lives easier and we're supposed to be able to do whatever we want. But you fall out of the party line and they'll lock you up in a second. We only think we're free."
"You are one paranoid guy."
"Am I? You probably believe in free will too. Only a few ever attain that great American Dream. Everyone else is left to hang."
"Isn't that chance of making it enough? I sure as hell make my own decisions."
"Hope keeps the suicide rate down. But hope doesn't get you anywhere."
"You're wrong there," Donald countered. "It's the only thing we have that keeps us going."
The old man laughed again. "Sounds pretty delusional to me. Hoping for a better tomorrow while today is shit. People are too complacent to change. They want security, not freedom. You impose on other's rights every day. The ones who do have freedom are the one's looked down upon by society: the poor, the homeless. They're free because they have no ties to anything, no socially-imposed obligations."
"I've been homeless before, and it sucks."
"Who said freedom was easy? I sure didn't."
"So why didn't you try to change anything?" Donald asked. "You seem to have all the answers."
"I never wanted to change people. All I wanted them to understand is that they are being deceived. Are you being deceived?"
The old man smiled and clapped his hands.
"I'll take that as a 'yes.'"
[12 jan 1996]
The man left the building with the boy on his shoulder. He walked a little while until he came to an alley. Setting the boy down on the ground, he went over to a dumpster and opened the lid. The foul stench of rotting food pervaded his senses.
He dragged the boy over to the dumpster and managed to get him over the top. It wasn't a good grave, but it would have to do. The man had found the boy on the streets, and he would leave him there.
Tonight had gone badly, but at least it was finally over. Walking back to his car, he resolved to never get involved in something like this again. But could he? Would the temptation be too great? He paused by the side of the car and then walked around to the trunk, opening it and pulling out a can of gasoline. Not too smart to be driving around with, but it had saved him a few times when he had run out of gas.
He made the trek back to the alley and dumped the contents of the can on the boy. He lit a match and dropped it inside.
Did she really have a choice in the matter? The man had asked himself this a thousand times since the beginning. His answer had always been a resounding "yes," but now he wasn't so sure. Yes, they had coerced her, and yes, they had been monsters. But hadn't she always been willing? It had been so clear before.
Flames erupted from the dumpster. The heat on his face was intense, and the man took a few steps back. The fire was beautiful, lighting up the alley. It was the only beautiful thing he had seen in a long time, except for her.
What would she do now? The man didn't know. He didn't even know where to go himself and realized he was just as lost as she was. Maybe their paths would cross in the future, but he doubted it. Still, he knew he would take her in again. He couldn't help it.
The man stood silently, revering the fire, until he heard the wail of fire trucks. He walked out of the alley, not looking back.
"He's coming," said the man in the shadows.
"I'm getting nervous, Hiolo. I don't like this," said another man.
"Quiet! It's too late to back out now!" Hiolo, the man in the shadows said.
Lithan was coming fast and the men were hiding down by the small hill. Lithan couldn't see them. Just as he was coming close to the nearby bridge he began to slow down. That's when they made the ambush.
"AHHHHH!" screamed Hiolo as he came dashing out of the shadows with the others at his back.
Lithan wasn't ready. He turned in time to see Hiolo's face as he came smashing into his horse.
"Hiolo!" Lithan yelled, "It wasn't my fault!"
"Wasn't your fault? YOU KILLED MY BROTHER!" Hiolo screamed.
"You don't understand!" Lithan said as he was backing off of his horse slowly. The men were surrounding him.
"I understand fine. You killed my brother. You're going to kill us all!" Hiolo said as his sword came into the air gripped by both hands. It flew down with strength and power along with other swords of those around him straight into the flesh of a man named Lithan.
"This can't be!" screamed a giant of a man in a white room to three other creatures who were laughing.
The other creatures looked somewhat like men, but with odd features. Some had antlers, others had pink skin, while one had no nose.
The men continued laughing as the big giant of a man came crashing towards them with a drawn sword. They stopped laughing.
"We didn't talk about this! THIS IS UNFAIR!" he screamed as his sword came quickly slicing through the first creature's body.
"Stop! You can't do this to us. We weren't laughing! You can have our money!" said the third thing as the giant crushed his sword into his skull.
A scream came from the fields. It came from the plowing boy as he fell to the ground grasping his head. He fell down hard as his last fall.
Lithan looked at himself and at the ground. He was somewhere in a desert someplace. He looked at his own skin which was light, but becoming red as the burning yellow sun beat down upon him. He ran his fingers through his dark hair and sighed as he looked back at the sand. He heard a cry from afar and his hand flew to the hilt of his sword. He looked up and saw a vulture crackling, as if mocking him. He cursed the creature and continued on his voyage, trying to find some way out of the damned desert.
"Where is he? It can't be! I don't sense his presence! Is he dead at last? Is he gone? Could it be? Hah! Beaten by yourself, Lithan? She's mine now, all mine! You're a fool!" said a man, who was leaning against a tree just before being startled.
He laughed and cursed Lithan and praised some God for his good luck. A smile came to his parched lips. He threw back his head and his long blonde hair fell behind him as he cackled.
Rath, the man who was laughing, then reached to the ground and brought up a sword. He slung it over his shoulder and sighed.
"Now I go to take my treasure from that bastard. Let him stop me. I gain our freedom!" Rath yelled aloud.
He then proceeded to mount a nearby horse and laugh as he rode towards the nearest city.
"Lithan's troubles were many, as Rath was free in the world of Ilirii. He had been warped out of that world by the man Hiolo, who was avenging his brother. Lithan was trapped on a foreign, desert world. And how can he get back? What now Lithan? Figured out who I am yet? Doubtful. It shall come apparent soon enough. I shall spin this spider-web of a tale into more of a web, you see."
"What now, Lithan?", asked a small man beside Lithan.
The small man was a burly one. He had longish, stringy red hair like the fires of hell. He was also somewhat portly but quite strong. His eyes were a shade of deep, dark green. He looked up to Lithan, who stood motionless facing the wind.
"Now we find a way for me to get back to Ilirii. You know a way to teleport me there? If you do, direct me there now," Lithan said quickly as his gaze flew towards the small man.
"If there is any man who can magic you out of this world, it would be Burgandey," the small man said as he shook his head slowly.
"Then take me to Burgandey!" Lithan replied.
"Well, I shall, but we must turn around. For he lives in the desert from which we just exited," the man said with a slight sigh.
A frown came to Lithan's face and he then looked back down at the man and said, "We leave now. Take me to this man, this Burgandey."
"Our hero has left us, and with us he has left the shining lady. Rath is not gone. We are in danger. We cannot stop Rath. There is only one who can do such a thing. His magic is too powerful. The only counter we have, is the man Lithan," a man at the head of a giant oaken table said as he repeatedly smashed his hand into the strong table.
At either side of the table were men and women of much importance in the world of Ilirii. Kings, Queens, Monarchs, and various lesser people.
"Then we wait. We wait for Lithan, or we wait for our doom," said a man at the far end of the table.
"Let us all pray for the Distant's help," said another man with his head down.
"So why can't I just `kill` you and send you to another world?" asked the small man, named Hishi.
"Well, you could. But that would only ruin others lives. And who knows where I would end up? It would take way too long to get to one planet. It's completely random," Lithan replied.
Rath, with blood dripping from his lips, stared into the eyes of a man who was on his knees, whimpering and shivering.
"I don't know where she is!" the man screamed.
"You are the keeper! You know! You show me!" Rath yelled back.
"I...I..." the man started.
"Won't tell me," said Rath as he shook his head. He reached to his side and pulled out his sword. He shoved the sword deep into the man's heart.
"I can't stop. I won't stop. Until I figure out...the truth!" Rath screamed in the darkness towards the sky, at ME.
The two men, Lithan and Hishi, continued walking through the desert.
"Do you believe in the distants, Lithan?" asked Hishi.
"No. I don't," Lithan replied.
"Why not?" asked Hishi.
"Well. I suppose I BELIEVE in them. I know they exist. I've seen one before. But do I believe they are supreme beings, no. They are more mortal than you. They just sit up on their throne making games out of your lives, and probably mine own too," said Lithan as he paused a second.
"Humm," Hishi murmured. "Well. We are not far from his home. He should help us."
"Why does such a man live so far away from civilization?" asked Lithan.
Hishi shrugged. "He's a thinker. He believes we're controlled by some distant spirit or some weird thing. He was outcast from almost every city for his opposing the Distants and his weird demands on history books and such. I really don't know why he choose out here, but many magicians of the world visit him for items or such things. Ah, here we are. This is his house. It's a bit primitive and a bit odd but he should be able to help us."
They looked at the old house. It stood still even with the strong winds blowing hard at it's foundation. The brown paint on the wood wasn't chipping or changing colors under the sun. A small well stood outside the house and next to it was a few wood buckets.
They came to the door and Lithan knocked on it several times. The strong wood hurt his knuckles and as he started to massage them the door opened as a small old man looked up at them. He looked the age of 100 but in him was a determination that was so strong is was shown on the outside. His eyes a dark blue and his hair gone white long ago dangled around him. He squinted with his left eye to see and limped on his left foot. But he held strongly onto his cane and it hit so hard on the floor that Lithan winced.
"What?" he cackled in his old cracking voice.
"We need your help. This here, is Lithan." Hishi said in such a manner that even if one didn't know who Lithan was, they would recognize him as someone with power.
"Lithan whooo?" he asked with his final word carrying out.
"The hero Lithan. He needs your help to get back to a different world. Do you think you could help us? Maybe somehow warp him back to Ilirii so he can stop the evil Rath." Hishi replied.
"Yes. I shall help you two, I sense, for all your ignorance, an air that you will help my cause." the man said as he led Lithan deep into the dark laboratory.
Lithan charged at Rath, who was stunned at Lithan's sudden appearance out of thin air.
Rath held out his hand and held up his other in some manner of surrender. Lithan paused.
"It's not me. It's not you. We've just been playing his game. Today it ends. Listen to me, Lithan. She's the secret, not the power! He's tricked me! He's tricked you! We just didn't listen!", Rath screamed.
So, diary, we meet again after a long time. It's been a whole week that I've lived out in the middle of things, right smack in the middle of nature, and I'm doing just fine. I have no idea where exactly I am, except that I got here by heading off into the woods from a road connecting Juncture and Austin. All I can see for miles around is forest. Of course, there was a fence. There's always a fence. Thoreau had it so easy. Some bloke let him rent a patch of land right next to a lake where hardly anyone would bother him. He had connections. Nowadays you don't know anyone but your closest friends. And none of them have a patch of land for me to rent. Not that I haven't spoken to them in a year or that I have any money anyway. The only money I have on me is one quarter, and that's to make a call if I ever lose hope.
But I won't lose hope. This is great out here. I swear, I don't remember hearing birds in the morning at home. I really guess I wouldn't, unless the pigeons and grackles had decided to circle around in the air next to my fifth-story window and put on a Disney show for me. Well, they always found time to shit on the windowsill. That part always threw me.
No, the birds out here are, well, nicer. It seems like they sing all day, except when it rains. They have tons of food in all directions, so there's no problem with them surviving the night. They're so resourceful.
Me, on the other hand, ha ha ha. No, I can always find something. I just have to know where to look. But, frankly, I don't know that either. I went on those two sleeves of crackers for the first few days. Then I tried this strange-looking blueberry thing a few days back. Just one of them. It didn't make me sick at all, so I ate a whole bunch for dinner last night. I'm still here, so I can rely on those for a while.
Geez, it was actually easier when I was homeless. I was around stores and fast-food places all day long. Of course, there was a nice barrier called money between me and the entrances, but even that wasn't so important when I was really wanting. There are actually a lot of nice people out there who'll throw change at you if you bug them enough. I hate thinking about that part though. It feels so scummy. I'm sure my fellow "out-of-luck" were glaring at me. Lately I can't get that feeling out of my head, although it doesn't make any sense at all. Hell, they were probably happy for me. But they probably needed it more, too. At the time though, I really didn't give a shit. Funny how things change. At least out here, everything's free and there's no such thing as poor, until you get caught.
I'm really lucky it's summer because I don't have to worry about building a fire. I guess I could learn early so I could cook some food, like some little animals or something. The thought always makes me feel a little creepy, but put it in perspective -- people lived off this stuff for thousands of years. Maybe they had bigger food to trap back then, but I'm just one guy. I don't need that much. Besides, bigger stuff would rot. I don't want wolves or foxes to come sniffing around here either. Maybe a squirrel or a bird or something? We'll just see.
"We." Sheesh. I've got to stop using that phrase. There's absolutely no one around here but me and some little scurrying future pieces of food. No, but really, I enjoy it a lot. After the first few days, I lost my fear of the unknown -- mainly the prospect of other people hanging around. There's no one here. I checked it out one day. It's great. It's great to know I'm alone and have total privacy. It's the kind of feeling only this type of place can give.
I remember when I was like thirteen and me and a friend of mine named Nick were camping in a local woods. As far as I knew, I thought we were out in the middle of nowhere, but a few hours into the night, when Nick and I had started telling creepy murder stories, out comes this fucking hick wandering around looking for a hat he lost while hunting. I mean, at the time, it just scared the hell out of me, due to the intensity of Nick's story at the time. But thinking back on it now, it really ruined the only possibility for a good cool night out in nature for me as a kid. Because that was the only time I went. The outside never held any reverence for me as a kid. It's just where I went to be away from home and to, well, get in trouble. Now I find nature very important.
Sometimes I'm awaken in the early morning by the sounds of a distant train carrying freight. They don't carry passengers around here anymore. This is strictly a car part of the country. The trains' wheels send intense low-pitched rumblings through the ground that shake your body and your mind. Somehow, though, I find it comforting. One of the first nights I camped out here, I was scared a bit by the trains. I felt sure I had found a spot deep enough into the wilderness to be away from other people. But as it turned out, the train's roars just carry everywhere. The one I heard ran on a track about two miles away, I later found out. After that first day, the trains were comforting because they remind me that I'm never completely alone, no matter how much I try to fool myself.
Yeah, I was thinking for a while that it was a mistake to have come so far into the woods. Like, what if I want to go into town suddenly? Well, I did that the first day I was here. I was a little scared to even leave the road, so I marked my way in. And a few hours later, I followed the marks back to the road. Whether it was good planning or a good memory, I found my way out, and it took about an hour, just because it was so far. But I did it. I decided to come back here, feeling silly at doubting myself, and I haven't gone back since. Besides, it's a damned straight line from here to the road, and that airplane radar tower near the road is the easiest landmark to follow along the way.
Sleeping is excellent out here. When I was scouting out the place on my first day here, I found this huge rock, shaped the way those wacky desert rocks in the Roadrunner cartoons are. I was able to make out the remnants of a stream next to it, which probably accounts for the erosion. I could have been seeing things. But anyway, whatever made it like that, there's room under the edge of the rock to sleep. I mean, two people could fit under there. There's a bed of leaves there, and it's really soft, except if I sit up suddenly, ha ha ha. I don't know much about how it would help me keep warm in winter, but it certainly keeps the rain off.
That was actually my biggest worry, finding somewhere to sleep. I'm a really big fan of sleep, you know. But I won't just sleep anytime. It has to be dark. I guess I'm really conventional that way. I don't much like napping during the day because my sense of time gets fucked up. But during the night, it's excellent.
It goes back a long way. When I was a little kid, darkness never scared me. I actually liked it when my parents turned the lights out, because there was less to see. I don't go for the whole ghosts and monsters-under-the-bed thing, because it doesn't make sense. Whenever the lights go out, the darkness envelops me, and it's comfortable. What I can't see doesn't bother me. All that exists in the dark is me and my bed, because I know I exist, and I can feel the bed. Later on, digital clocks and those little lights on the stereo also existed, but I blocked them out.
I always liked to imagine that in the dark, I was the only person who existed on the earth. Not having brothers or sisters or noisy parents made that pretty easy. I always hated having to close my eyes to get the image right, due to the onset of night vision, but I tolerated it. When the air conditioning would come on, I'd imagine that I had suddenly been transported to somewhere near a rushing river. When cars would go by outside, I imagined it was a change in the wind. Yeah, I guess I was always living outside, in a way.
Now, when it gets dark, I actually sit up on the rock and open my eyes wide. The forest turns completely different at night. Most of the day animals go to sleep, and the night animals wake up. Mostly all they do is scurry, foraging for food. Very rarely there's a fight. But it seems like the animals do nothing but eat and sleep. What a life. When you think of the differences between people and animals -- consciousness -- and how it distorts our lives so much, it's almost sad to be a person.
We could have life so simple if we just lived in nature and didn't try to fill up our lives with such crap like technology and jobs and television. Animals don't give a shit about what time it is, except for the change in seasons, because it's important to their survival. Myself, still I feel compelled to do something when I'm out here, not because I'm necessarily bored, but because I feel guilty for wasting time. I mean, I've completely cut myself off from society, and have no more responsibilities, except I guess to not get caught, and I'm worrying about wasting time. Except for impending boredom, I could really spend my whole life out here. I just wish I'd thought of it earlier before I wasted my whole life. But that's just the way it goes. Can't change the past, no matter how much you wish you could, blah, blah, etc., etc....
Urrgh. I guess there's no use ignoring it. The past. Why the hell I'm here anyway. I've been thinking about it for months now. Should my mind choose to repress the memories, I'll write 'em out.
It was a few weeks before I went to college, and my mind was a mess. Dad had thrown me out of the house, probably with good reason, so I took to wandering around homeless in Austin, deciding to make the worst of a bad situation. I was enjoying it for a while, just a naive kid looking to get away from it all. It was certainly more exciting than hanging around Juncture and masturbating away my free time. Yeah, then things got really exciting with being arrested, sucking yuppie cock, and trying to avoid the pervs. My mind was blown away from getting arrested for being homeless.
I know, it was only a day, but good lord, what kind of a fucking country makes you a criminal for being poor? Hundreds of other countries are made up entirely of poor populations, and they're damned happy to be that way, I bet. Or at least they're united in misery. Here, it's a twisted game of survival, where money is life (because you have to have it to ingest the food that grows from the ground) and you're humiliated for losing the game, though in any other part of the world, you'd be a winner simply for being happy.
I can see why kids live at home for so many years. At least society sees that kids can't play the game until they've been lambasted with twenty years of propaganda and fear. At least society sees that far. But society gets damned annoyed when you try to start out earlier than they want, because they know you'll lose and they don't want to think about it and they don't want to worry about kids on the streets. Our fucking society will go all out to murder an adult who in any way harms a kid, but if a kid shows up in Austin without a home or money, the police are more than happy to throw him in jail. I mean, why not? God forbid you help us now. Might as well go out and get raped for some positive attention in this town.
Oh dammit I know that's twisted logic but you can only write about what you know, right, asshole? Yeah, I coulda gotten thrown in a juvenile shelter or a foster home or some shit like that. It was damned smart of me to lie and say I was 18 instead of 17. But it's all the same really, it's still prison. At least that's what me, dumb kid, hears about it, and that's what me, dumb kid, believes.
Anyway, there was nothing else to do so I followed the rules and went back home. And lo and behold, I find out I'm about to be a college boy. Mom had forged my application for me and I got in. I never planned to go to college, of course. I hadn't even started my senior year at high school. Apparently when I was away, I graduated from high school twentieth in my class, and even skipped a grade to do so. Mom was a good forger. That blew my mind away too. Who ever thought she cared? I guess I hadn't been home enough to notice. Her spoken reason for signing me up was, "We won't have a shiftless son." Maybe it was some sort of intricate reverse-psychology punishment meant to make everything all better. Well, sorry, Mom.
And Dad, he hadn't said a word to me since I got back. He probably wanted me to stay away. But with all of Mom's sudden goodwill, I was so overwhelmed that I went into the mode of repentant sinner, and I lied to make it easier for them to swallow. I told them that I'd been at a friend's house the whole time, thinking about what I did. With the condition of my clothing, I don't know how they chose to believe it, or even if they did. Yeah, mom, my friend's place is a pigsty. No food, nowhere to sleep. Didn't even have a toilet for me to legally piss in.
I told an outright lie to make everything all right, but I also wanted to tell them what had happened to me. None of it had been good at all, when taken event by event. I mean, really, when you think about it, what fucking kind of a God would... augh, screw it. There's no God.
But all together, I had to count it as experience. My mind changed. So much of the gingerbread ideas I had about the world turned up lies. Yes, usually they were simplifications or omissions, but what the hell kind of a deal is it to bring up a kid on thought-candy that has nothing to do with reality?
Again, I had stepped off the normal road to adulthood. I found out stuff early, and it was grisly stuff. It's not meant to be that way. Even normal adults have to learn these lessons eventually. How do they maintain their sanity? How? Many of them don't, I suspect. Either that or they've been happily brainwashed by their childhood lessons and can choose to ignore everything that conflicts with their sense of reality. They can choose to say, so-and-so doesn't make sense, so I'll ignore it. For me, nothing made sense. Ignoring it all would have killed me.
So for a week I was back at the tiny imitation home five stories in the sky adjusting to my good-boy ritual. I sat around with my parents all day watching buttloads of television. I felt compelled to, both to regain their trust and to regain a sense of comfort. It was a hell of a lot of guilt too. I get in so much trouble that they throw me out. Then I stay away, completely out of contact for a month, and then come back claiming I was just fine doing so. What the fuck! I couldn't possibly have convinced them of that, but I didn't even want to tell them the truth. They must have been terrified for my life, because they knew what the outside was really like. But they seemed to conceal it well. Only once did Dad get drunk and yell at me, but he apologized afterward, though he didn't seem to mean it. Yeah, really, they should have been prepared for it. Hell, I'd stayed away for days at a time. They probably figured, let's throw him out, get him a little scared, and watch him come back in three days. I did better.
But that week readjusting was no good. I felt emasculated. I couldn't talk to my friends, as if I would have dared call them up. They'd helped me out a lot in terms of getting thrown out. And I wasn't learning anything new sitting at home. Shit, my parents don't even subscribe to magazines. It was all TV, TV which didn't teach me shit but gingerbread. Even the crime dramas were sterilized. They were all the same, all stylized and clean-cut and predictable. Even the plot twists were predictable. Nothing in life made sense like on TV.
But eventually I had something to do to fill my time, getting prepared to go off to college. My mom, and I guess my dad, had gone all out to sent me to this expensive place out-of-state. I didn't want to debate their logic for sending their troubled kid far away for a "real- world" education, but I was happy to be able to get away from home. I a fews days packing, and a few more simply reading the brochures for the place I was going. Luckily, nothing seemed strange about it, like, it wasn't an all-male school or a military school or a church school. Otherwise I wouldn't have gone.
So I went off to school. The place was called Trumpet, after the name of the guy who built it. The students were really big on the name, though, making jokes like "Feeling horn-y? Trumpet has a 50-50 male- female ratio!" That particular joke was in one of the brochures. My mother must have been insane to miss it.
I found the school to be pretty small. There weren't many more people there than there were at my high school. I felt very happy about that. At that time in my life I was really looking for some companionship, whether it was in the form of a friend or a girl. My summer had totally screwed me over and I was left feeling alone and lost. College at a faraway school was an excellent remedy because I could start over, just start everything over, and not have to explain my past to anyone. Hell, that was how it was with everyone there.
But it didn't turn out that way. I had quite deluded myself before arriving there. For some reason I assumed most people, if not all, would be like me. Shoulda been a year older. During registration I looked around and saw no one I liked. The guy in front of me was going into detail with a new acquaintance in front of him about how he'd sculpt his degree plan to get out in three and a half years so he could get a high-paying job. One of the girls behind me fretted constantly about what the condition of the dorms would be like, namely, the telephones and the vending machines. A guy behind her was looking forward to getting drunk a lot. There were some shy people too, but I didn't want to invade their worlds and talk to them. So I talked to no one. That became habit.
I guess I tried to justify it by claiming I was trying to get myself into the mindset of the students around me so that I could more comfortably fit in. After all, I shoulda still been in high school whacking off to the cheerleaders. But I couldn't understand anyone around me. Apparently no one I heard had ever stepped as far out of society's lines as I had. They were all pretty rich; they hadn't had to. The most daring person I heard of was a guy who "borrowed" his brother's car for a two-day ride around the state. It was a small state. He got some community service time for it. I was the only person not impressed. I wanted to ask who around me had stayed voluntarily homeless for a month but I didn't want to appear like I was looking for attention, because I wasn't. I don't want attention. I've found more often than not that attention just leads to trouble.
Yes, that's it. That was the mindset I had at college. I decided to clam up and live unto myself. I devoted all my time to my schoolwork. Didn't want to let my parents down. Didn't have an immature desire to rub their unwanted gift in their face by utterly flunking out. So I studied. I didn't study hard by any means, because I had so much free time. I studied lightly during all of it. The amount of free time I had also astounded me. I could have sworn that during high school time was always the big crunch. I was always looking for a few rare minutes to do my homework wrong. But here I had so much time that I often wondered if I was forgetting to do something important. Well, obviously that thing was meeting people. The only person I had met was my roommate, John. He was utterly boring. I think my studying set him off from me, because he stayed out a lot. I became used to having a room all to myself, except at night. I had become used to being a loner way too easily to ever work myself out of it.
For a few weeks after that, I had an urge to make some friends. After all, your own mind gets damned boring after a while. So I wandered around campus a bit for a start. I found the architecture very interesting, the layout of the campus very well-planned, and the students very groupey. (Yes, that's a word because I say it is.) All the people I saw were in groups. I don't think it was a safety concern. It just seemed like everyone had instantly found a close-knit group of friends in the few months I'd been there. I suddenly felt very lonely. I should have stayed in my room and studied, I told myself. At least then I wouldn't have had to discover that fact.
After that failure, I started attending campus events. There was this karaoke thing one night. I went to that and participated in a quartet I had been randomly picked to be in, and also embarrassed myself in a duet with my roommate. That didn't get my face in the paper. And there was also a coffeehouse dealie, where a whole bunch of students get together to read their shitty poetry and get some much-needed applause they'd never receive anywhere else. Yeah, I read a shitty poem too. I was about being deaf and dumb and trapped in a box. I think it was symbolic. I got token applause but everyone's eyes looked distracted. After that, I decided I was probably having a better time in my room.
That's about when it happened, on good old October 20, 1995, my eighteenth birthday. I was still sticking to the random-wandering- about-campus habit, and when I stopped to tie my shoe, I heard a voice beyond the wall. It was one of the students from my world history class named Sean. He beckoned me to come over to him. I had completely forgotten my bad experiences with guys trying to pick me up, and was amazed that Sean would want to talk to me. So I talked to him and I realized he was trying to sell me some drugs. I'd smoked and drunk before, but never anything more. I guess I just didn't have the right friends. Sean seemed to have some of everything. I told him that I was still nervous about drugs, which, I explained, was only due to lack of knowledge. He sympathized with me and said LSD would be the safest thing to try. I was sort of disillusioned with life anyway, so I figured it would at least be some experience.
I gave him five dollars and he handed me the smallest fucking piece of paper I'd ever seen. I was wondering if he'd ripped me off. He told me to put it on my tongue and let it sit there for a while, and then swallow it if necessary. It would take around an hour to take effect. In my nervousness I didn't really get a clear idea of what its effects were. But I felt childishly proud and put it on my tongue right there behind the wall. Sean grinned and said, "You better move on now. Tell me how it was." Sure thing, I nodded, and headed to my room.
I was in there for forty-five minutes when things started changing. I guess my heart had been beating pretty fast. My sight became very clear and intense. Everything I looked at suddenly seemed to become very important. I found it hard to simply scan the room because my eyes stopped on every odd thing, like the bedpost, the papers on my desk, John's nudie calendar, the lamp, little bits of garbage on the rug, oh, just anything and everything. It was very interesting. I went into the bathroom and ran the water and just watched it. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my pupils were huge. I figured that accounted for the lucid sight. I wandered around the room for hours simply looking at things. I noticed the wall was wavering, as if a gentle wind were blowing it around. That was amusing so I laughed. My laugh seemed to be the perfect expression of my experiences. I found myself laughing a lot, although no one was in the room to hear.
I also found myself lacking in concentration. When I'd look at something and try to figure it out, seeing something out of my peripheral vision would distract me. I'd be forming thoughts in my mind, and they'd be dashed away by the amusing sight of the blinking colon on the digital clock. I felt absent-minded, but it was funny, so I just laughed about it.
I suddenly remembered an anecdote I'd heard about some kid who dropped acid, went to class, was asked to read aloud, and found the letters melting off the page. I decided to read a book too. I laughed at the thought of it. I had picked out an economics textbook. I opened it up and started reading. The letters were distinct and luminous on the edges. The paper seemed much too bright. I noticed when I was reading that the words and sentences seemed very important to me. I quickly got bored with much of the subject matter due to my lack of concentration, until I came to a page describing the way the government calculated the poverty level, and how many people were under it.
"Just look on the streets!" I exclaimed bitterly. "It's so easy to do!" It was a natural response. I had felt the need to express all my thoughts that night out loud, but I knew no one would hear. But the problem with what I had said was, I had heard it. Things changed.
I hadn't thought deeply about the experiences of that summer for quite a while. My words brought back a flood of memories to my mind, and the thing about acid is, it makes you think. I had read the wrong thing. I was thinking about a summer full of horrible demoralizing experiences, and with the acid, they seemed much too important. The only problem was, I couldn't distract myself anymore. I closed the book and tossed it on the bed. I saw how it landed on the bed and it reminded me of the homeless man I had seen someone throw out of a store onto the street. Even the bounce was the same. The appearance of the book amongst the mussed-up covers even looked like the man. I saw a corner of the book, the man's head, turn around in amazement, over and over again. I forced myself to look away. Before my mind could make out the funny dark area between the bed and the wall, I saw a filthy garbage can sitting in the corner, the one I had forced myself to eat out of that one day. I couldn't look at anything in the room without seeing something unpleasant. I became utterly demoralized, as the ideas circulating around my head were all I could think of, and they completely defined my world-view as I sat shaking on the bed trying not to see.
I decided I'd have to sleep it off, so I turned off the light and found myself on the street at three A.M. looking for somewhere to lie down. The light seeping in through the little gaps on the edge of the blinds looked just like windows in a tall apartment building a thousand feet away. I headed toward it, found myself approaching at an extremely fast rate, and realized where I was again. I forced myself to concentrate on lying down. When I got in my bed I had a fleeting idea that someone might have already taken it, and the book I had thrown down there fooled me for a second. I tossed the book to the ground and lay down.
I realized I wasn't going to sleep any time soon. My heart was beating, my mind was racing, and my stomach felt hot and tight. I'd only realize a few hours later that my stomach was telling me it was hungry. I didn't know acid gave you the munchies. So I lay in bed trying to concentrate on sleeping, and I couldn't stop thinking of that night that I wandered around for two hours, exhausted and looking for sleep on my first night in Austin, a deluded little kid who thought it would be nice and easy to live alone on the streets. To this day I still wonder why I hadn't considered doing what animals do, which is to go away from the concrete grass and the metal trees, and to live where it was comfortable. I guess I had just seen more of this life on TV, so that's what I assumed was normal.
Then my mind rocked when I realized just how senseless TV was. It didn't make any sense whatsoever. I'd always had a sort of resentment against it, but now it was clear in my mind, that it simply didn't make sense. I tried to think back to favorite shows of mine, but I couldn't make any senseful connections. This was obviously due to my wandering acid mind, but at the time it profoundly affected me and made me feel disoriented. How could I have been living my life by this medium which has never made sense? I started to wonder if it was simply my lack of ability to comprehend it. Was my mind that weak? Millions of people love TV, but not me. What's wrong with me? Maybe the same thing that made me seek out an utterly unfit place to live, maybe the same thing that makes me so alone...
I started to cry. It was dirty raindrops sliding down my face, raindrops coming from an angry sky that hated me more than I hated myself. I was pouring tears and gasping for air and my mind was ricocheting inside my head with the realization of basic facts that I had still been shielding myself from, things such as I had no place on the earth, that I had no future, and that I didn't want one. I was tearing myself apart with the simple anxieties that drive functioning members of society. I felt absolutely helpless and alone. I cried harder, gulping for air, squeezing my fists, buckling and shaking with convulsions.
The bed was rocking and I was suddenly in the back of a pickup truck driving through the country. When was this? Was this something I'd repressed from the summer? No, it wasn't. It was a simple thrill I'd had when I was eight and I begged my dad to let me ride in the back of the truck he had borrowed from a friend. I'd never ridden in the back of a truck before and haven't since. It was wonderful to lie flat on my back and look up at the sky and the passing trees and power and phone lines and have no idea where I was going. There was a time when I liked not having plans, when it didn't make me feel guilty, when it didn't scare me. I decided to grasp onto that idea again. What was life, really? Beyond the simple structure given to it by society and television, life was totally free, given the restrictions of law.
But what was law? It's not meant for everybody individually. Laws are made to prevent circumstances from occurring that could harm other people. Yes, I reminded myself, I can live outside the law as long as I harm no one. That's the definition of liberty, isn't it? I'd had random associations with that definition as a teenager, sometimes feeling unnecessarily restricted by circumstances of society... but hell! I should have allowed myself to transcend those circumstances, because they were impinging on my liberty. I had tried to wipe those ideas from my mind, however undeveloped they were, when I came back home and prepared for college life. The guilt I was feeling, it was guilt about deluding myself! I had it right to begin with!
A wellspring of positive emotion suddenly opened in my mind and it forced me to sit up in bed. Life was fair: I had to make it fair -- and this country wanted me to do so! That was the secret of life -- making it fair for yourself, while not making it uncomfortable for others. It became crystal-clear in my mind. I jumped up from the bed and flipped on the light. I was in a completely different world from the dark, but also a completely different world from the day I had become used to. I laughed maniacally at having figured out the secret of life. I suddenly felt a freedom I had never allowed myself to feel before. It had always been inside me; I just had to let myself acknowledge it. Nothing could wipe the smile off my face.
I daringly opened the door and left my room. I figured that, besides the crying jags, I was in control of myself and could trust myself to go out. I wanted to look at things some more. Merely walking down the hall took on new importance. I found myself imagining I was someone very important on his way to do something very important. To take on new experiences, that's what my mission was. Right now, I'd look at stuff. That's all I was obligated to do.
I was about to head down the stairs but I wanted to have fun so I took the elevator. Acid gave me the strangest variation on the experience that I had ever had. I felt like I was floating as the elevator moved down. In normal experience I often tickled myself with the notion that I was floating, but my rational mind disintegrated the idea. Now, the rational mind was quelled and I floated down to the first floor. When the bell rang it seemed like a heavenly bell, like an angel getting its wings. Maybe it was my angel, I wondered. The euphoria of finally having an angel made me laugh out loud. I quickly realized where I was but I didn't see anyone else around. That was lucky.
I glanced up at the clock and saw it was four A.M. I was astounded. It was only nine when I took the stuff. I guess that was one of the effects of the acid too, the loss of time. I was enthralled with that notion, because I'd never liked to worry about time, although I'd been programmed to do so. I'm trying to regain that feeling now as I write this, but I was actually doing better when I wasn't thinking about time at all. Oh well.
Then I headed outside. I figured everyone else was already asleep, though that didn't account for John's absence. Oh well, it was a Friday (er, Saturday), so that made sense. As I headed for the exit, I realized someone was sitting there. I became very talkative.
"Why, hello!" I said. "How are you doing tonight?"
"Just fine. Are you heading out?" he asked.
"Yes, I was planning to do that, and look around. It's a nice night, and there's lots of -- Oooh ooh! The trees! They must look really cool right now, with those lights, and those wacky limbs... And the fountain! I have to peer into the fountain! All that water! Oooh!" I babbled, eyes wide.
"Uh... okay, then. Be careful," the guy said.
"Thanks a lot!" I exclaimed, heading out. The door felt weightless with the force of my push. Walking out into the slightly chilly air, I realized I had just talked to the dorm guard, a senior. I wondered if I appeared drunk, and felt slightly guilty, until I rationalized the incident with the fact that I had done him no harm, and was well within my limits of liberty. Now, I realize the guard knew I was tripping. God bless him.
So, I did go to look at the trees. On campus they had these wacky floodlights in the trees. Saved money on lightpoles. They looked especially interesting late at night. (But of course the sun would rise only an hour later.) They appeared to sway back and forth in what I assumed was the wind, but realized was only my eyes. I lost interest in them quickly upon realizing the prospects of the fountain.
I ran across campus, feeling exhilarated and floating, and came upon it. Like all year round, the fountain was shooting water high into the sky. There actually was a breeze and mists of water floated along to sprinkle on the lawn. It looked so magical. And to think how often I'd looked at the fountain and just thought how wet I'd get if I walked too close. I let myself get too close and the water sprinkled upon my face. If I had been more religious, I'd consider it to be a spiritual baptism celebrating my rebirth. It was way too easy to read into things that night. Everything was blown out of proportion in whatever direction your mind was heading at the time. In that segment of the night, everything was exceedingly good.
After standing there for a while and letting myself be drenched, I realized just how hungry and thirsty I was. I was surprised that I had brought my wallet along. I guess I had never taken it out. When I left my room, it was on a pure whim. Anyway, my wallet contained sufficient funds to feed the vending machines with. I floated across campus to a wall of machines. I bought a Dr. Pepper and a bag of animal crackers. I could feel the Dr. Pepper making its way down my throat and into my stomach. It was amazing. I was more concerned with my hunger, so I gulped the impromptu meal down in three minutes. This I can verify, because I glanced at a clock before and shortly afterwards. Feeling the time taken to eat didn't amount to much, I bought some more and ate them. My stomach finally conceded to the food and stopped aching.
I wandered around campus some more and decided I needed to sleep. The acid seemed to still be going full-force, but I had to sleep or else I'd be exhausted the whole weekend. Coming up to the light of the dorm shining out of the door, I was astonished at its beauty and told the guard all about it. He grinned and let me go on.
When I came back to my room, the clock read five-thirty. Again I was astonished. What the hell was time anyway? I noticed John was finally back. He must have been amazed that I was actually out of the room, I thought.
With that thought, I lost it again. It was so sudden that I reeled and just stared into space. Why hadn't I been out more? Because I was a recluse. Who the hell was I to think that I knew the answer to life? I had come to this college three months ago and hadn't said anything meaningful to but one person so far. Knowing the answer to life? I didn't even know how to talk to people. I didn't know anyone there.
I was a crawling basket of delusions, tonight imagining with the help of a mind-altering drug that I'd conquered the world with my thoughts alone. What the hell! My new little philosophy had nothing in common with the real world. There was no liberty. Everything everyone did in some way fucked someone else over, and that was the way they liked it. You couldn't champion the cause of liberty but to yourself. And I was too weak to let that reassure me. That philosophy blew away into the air.
Geez, I'd even tried to solve my inferiority complex with illogical rationalizations. What I'd done tonight hadn't changed me at all. I was still the same lonely guy who studied all day long. I'd still be the same lonely guy when I woke up tomorrow. I still didn't have a place on the earth I wanted. Even though my mind was full of new thoughts, I couldn't apply them to shit. I was still bound to my schoolwork and the implied promise of renewed perfection to my parents. What kind of liberty is it to not be allowed to change? I was stuck right where I was. The trip hadn't done anything for me but to open my eyes. But what I saw, I realized I couldn't even have.
I headed to bed crying uncontrollably again. When I was about to lie down, I was a few feet away from the bed and realizing it wasn't there made it feel as if it had melted away from me. Suddenly the whole room seemed to melt away from me as my eyes strained to become adjusted to the darkness. I cried out, terrified, and fell down, hitting the edge of the bed before falling on the floor. I suddenly became utterly frightened and helpless again. My mind was a jumble. I told myself it was my fault for trying to delude myself into a feeling of happiness and self-importance which I didn't deserve. I decided to lie on the floor and live like I deserved. I shivered all night.
When I woke up, I prayed that the trip was over. I looked around me and nothing wavered or appeared especially important. Everything seemed normal, except... good lord, the mindfuck I had worked on myself had actually set in place. I felt completely disembodied. I didn't know what to do. I felt utterly useless to everybody and everything. It seemed that the world was getting along fine without me. I lay there on the ground for thirty minutes before I finally got up. I was getting bored with doing nothing, but I knew that as a sole human on the earth, I didn't matter anyway. I contemplated suicide with a completely open mind but decided against it. I somehow knew that there was a heaven, and my immortal soul would live on forever, and that was a fate worse than life.
As long as I was on earth, I thought, I should at least act busy. So I accepted my humdrum studying life with a sigh and lived like that until the end of the school year. You could say nothing much happened in the meantime, because nothing did.
The only strange thing that happened was that day when I was coming back from dinner. I came across Sean heading the opposite direction, so I waved at him, not wanting to discuss anything with him, although he had wanted me to tell him about it. He seemed okay with it. When I was back in my room, I lay down, shut my eyes, and heard him distinctly say, "Oh my God, man, you're gone." No one else was in the room. I never figured it out.
After the trip, I found my mind remained permanently open to new ideas, even if it was only open a crack because of my utter demoralization. I of course tried to ignore the openmindedness -- look what happened to me when I openly accepted it. I found solace in my schoolwork. During the spring semester I had an American Literature class. We got to read parts of Walden in that class. I, however, read the entire book on my own time (and there was plenty of it). The ideas in that book worked their way into my mind. I eventually reaccepted the idea that I had liberty and that I should be allowed to do as I please. It was difficult to do, but the effect of time helped greatly to erase my mindfuck.
When the year finally ended, I found myself with a perfect 4.0 average (something I'll never tell my friends about). My parents were relieved, to be sure. I hadn't even come home for Christmas. But everything was still the same. I was still guilt-boy. A few weeks after I got back from school, I'd fallen again into the pattern of staying home and watching TV, even though I knew it didn't make sense. I was about to go mad. I wanted to end the cycle but I didn't want to disappoint my parents. They felt they had a good grasp on me. So I did the only thing I could do. I left a nice note telling them I was committing suicide, and I came here. And I'm staying.
--SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-- State of unBeing is copyrighted (c) 1996 by Kilgore Trout and Apocalypse Culture Publications. All rights are reserved to cover, format, editorials, and all incidental material. All individual items are copyrighted (c) 1996 by the individual author, unless otherwise stated. This file may be disseminated without restriction for nonprofit purposes so long as it is preserved complete and unmodified. Quotes and ideas not already in the public domain may be freely used so long as due recognition is provided. State of unBeing is available at the following places: iSiS UNVEiLED 512.TMP.DOWN 14.4 (Home of SoB) CYBERVERSE 512.255.5728 14.4 THE LiONS' DEN 512.259.9546 24oo TEENAGE RiOt 418.833.4213 14.4 NUP: COSMIC_JOKE THAT STUPID PLACE 215.985.0462 14.4 ftp to ftp.io.com /pub/SoB World Wide Web http://www.io.com/~hagbard/sob.html Submissions may also be sent to Kilgore Trout at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Thank you. --SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB--