Crux Ansata stared at the knife he held in his hand. He had just finished sharpening it, and a bead of sweat dripped from his nose onto the blade. Raising the knife up to his throat, he slashed his throat and stared at the red smile on his neck in the mirror.
Gurgle, gurgle, gurgle. [the sound of death.]
A white light appeared over his head, just like in all of those Sightings reenactments, and Ansat's soul rose out of his body and dissolved into the light. He flew down a tunnel, checking out his new angelic threads all the while. After what seemed like eternity, he set down on some fluffy white clouds in front of a large, golden gate.
A man stood by the gate, cloaked in a long robe and sandals. His white beard flowed down to his chest, and he stared intensely at Ansat, who walked over to him.
"La ilaha illa Allah!" the bearded man shouted.
Ansat looked worried.
"Just kidding," the bearded man laughed, slapping Ansat on the back. "I'm St. Peter, and you really are in Heaven. Heh. Sorry, but it's really funny to scare dead people. It's kinda boring standing out here all the time."
"I'm here to find Kilgore Trout and take him back," Ansat said.
"Take him back? This isn't Hades, Cruxie baby. Mortals just don't come and go as they please. You killed yourself, remember?"
"But the zine is in total chaos! People are fighting over editorial control, everybody's getting edgy, and Noni Moon won't even give me the time of day anymore."
St. Peter didn't look concerned. "And what about things that really matter? Like biological chemical agents? Bosnia? Health care? The Spice Girls' new movie?"
St. Peter did a little jig.
"You like the Spice Girls?" Ansat asked, bewildered.
"Call them a guilty pleasure. Besides, after all that contempary Christian music came out, standards up here dropped a bit in the music realm. I mean, whatever happened to stuff like Bach, when you didn't need words?"
"Anyway, can I get Kilgore and go back to earth?"
"I dunno. You'll have to talk to the big cheese about that."
"No. Jesus. God is the really big cheese. And he's not American Jack either, which has greatly disappointed some of our more ethnocentric friends."
St. Peter opened the gates and ushered Ansat into heaven. Angels flew around, plucking harps and throwing their halos around like frisbees. They walked a few miles to a great big temple.
"Just go straight in, take a left, and go through the third door on your right," St. Peter ordered. "That's Jesus' office. I've gotta get back to the gates. Check ya later."
Ansat followed St. Peter's directions and soon found himself staring face to face with the Messiah, the Savior, the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the...
"Would you stop going over all those titles?" Jesus said, interrupting Ansat's train of thought. "Just call me Jesus. I may have saved you from all of your sins, but I'm a regular Joe, too. Well, kinda. I'd explain it, but then that whole trinity mystery would be half gone."
"I need to retrieve Kilgore Trout and take him back down to Earth," Ansat said.
"Um, he's just a character in a Vonnegut book, if you don't know. The delusional filter must be on the blink again. I'll have to get my dad to fix it. He's handy with tools, you know."
"Naturally. God can do anything."
"No, not God. Joseph. I bet you thought My Two Dads was just a sitcom vehicle for Paul Reiser and Greg Evigan. Well, boy oh boy, did you miss the heavily veiled symbolism. Watch the reruns on the USA network sometime."
"But Kilgore Trout is real. Anyway, I don't mean to be impatient, especially with you, but we've got a deadline to meet. After all, it IS almost time for the Christmas issue."
Jesus grimaced. "Ah, Christmas. I won't even touch that topic. C'mon, let's go find your friend."
Ansat and Jesus left the office, and Jesus led him up an elevator through the clouds to a small shack on the outskirts of Heaven. Jesus rapped three times on the door and waited.
"Who's there?" a voice from inside asked.
"It's Jesus and Ansat," Jesus replied. "Can we come in?"
The door swung open, and there stood Kilgore Trout, dressed in his angel robe and halo, which was flickering in and out.
"Gotta change the batteries," Kilgore said. "You know how hard it is to find triple-A batteries up here?"
"Batteries?" Ansat asked. "For your halo?"
"Oh, I guess we should come clean," Jesus answered. "He's not really dead. He's been hiding out up here. Kind of like a sabbatical."
"Yeah, after the fireworks thing, I decided that I needed some time off. I figured that the place people wouldn't look for me would be heaven, so I prayed and viola! I was transported to heaven. It's definitely serene, although a bit boring if you don't like harps and frisbees. Jesus and I are gonna start a club scene up here."
"Just remember that St. Peter can't DJ," Jesus reminded Kilgore. "That damn Spice Girl fetish. Ugh."
Ansat crossed his arms. "So, lemme get this straight. You're not dead. You just took a little vacation to heaven, and you can go back anytime you want. So what about me? I killed myself to get here."
"I can fix that," Jesus offered. "You boys run along now, and finish up that zine. Dad really likes it."
"Tell Joeseph thanks for the compliment," Kilgore said.
"No, not him. God."
"This place is confusing," Ansat said. "I wonder what Hell's like?"
"I'll give you a tour when you come back," Jesus said, his eyes lighting up. "I bet we can find some kickass DJ's there. And it's really just a big beach. Yeah, it's hot, but it's too cloudy up here to get a good tan."
Kilgore hugged Jesus. "Thanks for the help, but we ought to be going now."
"And how are we gonna do that?" Ansat asked. "Please, no more crappy tunnels of light. That was really hokey."
"Yeah, but it was really spectacular when Moses went through it," Jesus said. "Anyway, take care, and remember, I love you, man."
Kilgore smiled. "Thanks. Later."
Jesus snapped his fingers, and Kilgore and Ansat disappared. He turned away from the small shack and walked back to the elevator, whistling something by Tom Jones.
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, UfOFofO ,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 12/23/97 tahw ro who gniwonk to think. You are in FORTY-ONE ni era uoY .kniht ot a state of unbeing.... ....gniebnu fo etats a
Hi. I'm back from the dead. For my next trick, I'd like to pull a rabbit out of my ass. Well, maybe not. I think I'd like to pull a rabbit out of your ass. That sounds a bit better.
So, now that I'm back, things have settled down quite a bit around here. The writers have all made amends, people have taken down booby traps, and the contracts on various staff members have been rescinded. And Clock -- sorry bout the mailbomb. Noni says she's sorry, but once you mail something, there's not much you can do about it.
My death has caused a few problems, however, and one of those is my email address. Future submissions should be sent only to <firstname.lastname@example.org> and not to any of the other addresses featured during the past few issues. My address at sage.net will be dying shortly, but anything that has already been sent there will be garnered before it dies.
As for Christmas, well, consider the zine your present from all of us here at Apocalypse Culture Productions. If you were expecting real presents, well, send us a SASE and we'll put something in it. Of course, you have to figure out what our address is, but if you can do that, you deserve to receive something.
So, as 1997 ends and we approach the millennium with gaining speed, let's all remember that there is only one thing that is really important in life. And once someone remembers what that is, email me, cuz I forgot. We'll see you next month. Enjoy!
From Kazakh To: CruxAnsata@hotmail.com Subject: Scooby Snacks and Ice-9 Do you want a Scooby Snack Shaggy? How about some nice Ice-9? (Gauranteed to take the edge off your beer) Even though I'm not normally a homosexual, I've been enjoying your SoB for a while now, could I please get some through the mail? Ok, that was really bad, I admit it. Sorry to hear about Kilgore, maybe we can reincarnate him someday but until then, I'll send you some of my horrid scribblings. I'm not nearly as entertaining as Kilgore, but I do make about as much sense as he does. (None whatsoever) Oh well, hope it makes good space filler at least. If you run out of things to wipe your ass with, maybe you'll get more later. -- Kazakh
[reincarnation is for suckers. i prefer coming back as myself. again. and again. and again. and as for that me not making any sense remark, frotz the kazakh. <insert Clash music here.>]
From: Mark A Phillips To: email@example.com Subject: SOB Mr. Trout, If this mesage finds you well, i ask that I may recieve issues of SOB by e-mail. I am not presently sure wether you are still distributing the 'zine or not, but if you are, here is my request. Happy Make-up-day, mARKpHILLIPS
[well, your message found me not-so-well, as i have a bit of the sniffles today. but since today is happy make-up-day, whatever the hell that is, maybe i'll feel a little better. and no wonder those bastard treasure hunters can't find noah's boat in turkey -- it's in your name! way to go.]
From: MsHappy69 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Poem More and Less The more you live the less you die, The more you smile the less you cry, The more you don't care the less you try, The more you're open the less you're shy, The more you tell the truth the less you lie, The more you think the less you ask "why?"
[why? why? why? ack. and i think i'd rather have less, if you don't mind.]
From: Dani To: email@example.com Subject: State of unBeing Mailing List I am interested in joining the list. Could you please subscribe me? Dani
[weren't you supposed to tell me why you are worthy? being interested just doesn't cut it. oh well. i guess we'll make an exception in your case, since you're in Austraila, and that's a long way away. wear those long sleeves!]
From: kilgore trout <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: unexpected return. unexpected turn of events. im not going to write you a whole long email, kil. because i dont know if you'll even acknowledge me. but this is ridiculous, what you're doing to the zine. what you did to me, that's one thing. what happens between you and crux and nathan, that's another. but to the zine? c'mon, trout. heres a copy of what i sent to sob: *********************************** From: ALGEDONIC To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: let the truth be known This is ridiculous, guys. When I left, I had thought that you would put an end to this petty bickering. Kilgore isn't dead. And keeping him out of the zine isn't going to change what happened. C'mon-- you're pulling a veritable Fowles move. We all read the book , Crux. The only thing that bewilders me is that Kilgore hasn't stopped this already. It isn't like him not to overpower you...being a Scorpio to the core. Which leads me to a frightening thought- that he's somehow involved in this. If that's the case, well, Kil: use some complex thinking skills here. What exactly are you trying to accomplish at the sake of your own dignity? I knew I shouldn't have left you guys. Maybe it wouldn't have escalated to this... -noni moon- ********************************************** don't let it happen, kilgore. and i swear, i'll get myself involved. -noni-
[well, now that i'm back, you have nothing at all to worry about. and isn't impersonating an SoB staff member a felony offense? it isn't? damn. drat. double drat damn damn. guess i need to pull out some of my puppet strings.]
From: kilgore trout <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: sob mailing list to whom it may concern: I would like to be on the SoB mailing list. If possible, please send the issue immediately following kilgore is dead. thank you. ALGEDONIC
[first off, it's REALLY REALLY dumb to send mail to a dead guy. secondly, you really, really, REALLY need to figure out just WHO you are TRYiNG to be. it helps if you stick to ONE persona, and when you are STICKING to that one persona, you DO NOT, NO WAY, DEFINITELY NOT, ABSOLUTELY OUT OF THE QUESTiON, NEVER sing the email with your real name. and don't sign it with your real name, either. can you even sing? i'm not sure i want to know. REALLY.]
greetings from the ancient one.my name is micheal.i am a poet,writer and metaphysicist.i have written for a number of periodicals on a variety of topics.i have worked the psychic fairs,lectured on alien abduction and had my own cable t.v.show on the paranormal.i am interested in writing for you.if you are interested please reply.thank you.
[spacing between punctuation would be nice. we'll look over anything you have to send us. i haven't worked any psychic fairs myself, but i have listened to Psychic TV, and i dig their style. just an obersvation. oh yeah. anything by Milton William Cooper, and you'll be laughed out of here faster than I can be anally probed by the Nordic aryan aliens.]
To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: comedy <email@example.com> Subject: Crazy Vonnegut Fan so what do you think about the RAMJAC corporation? Is it going to take over, Kilgore? Anyway, listen... I dig your site when I remember to check it out... so you ought to periodically remind me too, that is, put me on yo' list. And send me your submission guidelines, too, man, I write from time to time. Brady
[RAMJAC: no comment, man. we have no guidelines. you write, we publish. as long as i can make some sense out of it, i'll take a look at it. we take anything from obscure fiction to investigative articles about bestiality on the net <see SoB #39>. the most important thing to get it to us.]
Howler in the Shadows
I Wish My Name Were Nathan
Yeah, you've heard it all before. All the lame reasons why smokers are cool and get indie-rock cred. Plain and simple: I smoke because I'm addicted because I smoked for a year when I thought I was invincible.
So now I'm on the healthy smoker trend. Smoke half a pack a day and fit for the rest of the time if there still is more time to fit about. Sometimes I break down, sometimes I'm too busy. But I smoke, and, knowing that it will and is killing me, I try to enjoy every minute of it. Now, let me tell you a story.
Forty-six colleges accepted federal funding with the catch that they have to present an anti-smoking message to their university or college, make the entire campus smoke free (which I'll touch on later), and show a decrease in smokers over the next few years. At Rhodes College in scenic Memphis, Tennessee, 40% of the student body smokes. How they came to that figure I'll never know because I never filled out a smoker survey, but it's a good percentage. Not quite half but a large, large body of students, all puffing away. Most are social smokers, smokers who need to be lubed up by the almighty demon Alcohol before engaging the demon Tobac, but some, like me, are addicted, committed, smokers.
A smoke-free environment means that all buildings are designated non-smoking with the exception of one room within the refectory and dorm rooms. For us poor commuters, nowhere on campus offers us a roof and an ashtray. If I want to smoke outside (which looks like always), I have to be forty feet from the nearest entrance. This makes roughly one-third of the campus outside non- smoking, and a large section between four buildings where once I could enjoy shade and a cigarette, completely off limits. So, I'm on the ends of campus, in the elements, pissed. So why do I smoke? I'm addicted.
And, yes, I buy into the cred thing. Or at least the cred-as-an-underdog thing. They're both stupid, yes, but otherwise I'm a stand-up guy. At least some think so. Smoking provides me with seven minutes of uninterrupted thought that is usually applied to something useful, such as the line in my next story, the point in my next paper, or as a quick time-out from stress. Smoking is something to do, an end within itself, and enjoyable. My body wants and needs it, and I reward it when I accomplish something. Now I am no longer allowed to smoke at the school where I pay 20,000 dollars to attend, mostly in loans with a nice little interest that compounds itself a little more during each smoking break.
I know smoking is bad for me. I know second hand smoke sucks. I know that tobacco companies lied to me, keep me addicted, and make so much money off me without a care in the world about my health. So what? I knew all this before I smoked and I'll know all this well after I've given the habit up. Right now I'm doing reversable damage to my body and having a good time doing it.
Smokers bond quicker, have a strong code of honor regarding tobacco (or get ostrecized if they don't), and are generally more laid back. I'm proud to be a smoker. I didn't do it when it was trendy (not to be trendy, at any rate), and now that's it's unfashionable, oh well, so is long hair but I'm not going to the barber anytime soon.
So, the whole point is that I'm being looked down upon as destructive to myself and others because I enjoy tobacco. I'm almost at the point of being labelled a social ill. Well, that's all fine and good, but if someone asks me to put out my cigarette I'll do so for two bucks (it's cheaper here than in Texas, ha ha ha) or I'll blow a big wad of second hand smoke into the oppressive fuck's face. If you smoke, don't let allow yourself to be stigmatized as a slacker-fuckoff with no consciousness about what you're doing everytime you light up. It's not a political statement, it's curbing an addiction and embracing a lifestyle that's not favorable anymore. But we smokers are made of sterner stuff and can stomach all this, right? Yep. Now, excuse me while I go take a quick smoke break and get back to my homework...
"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."
[ Our illustrious writer has sent us many, many poems over the past few months and we figured it would be kind to publish them for once. ]
HERE i SiT WAiTiNG FOR THE COFFEE TO BREW
here i sit waiting for the coffee to brew. i am senslessy tired and have been for 2 days. ijust have no wish or want for sleep. i don,t want this.. i can not want this.. i can not face my dreams anymore. i have actully decided that i do not want them inside my head anymore. I am sitting here alone and Iam not lonely, I have some time to think.. I have some time to think, I am thinking about my life and I can honestly see myself for the first time. the shadows are moving around in funny forms reminding me of my life. I remember when I was told I would never learn to love.. Honestlly I believed her. You see if I ever fealt for a woman they never fealt back. When someone fealt for me I would use them. I never seen this until recently, I can not believe how evil and useless I was.. I actully feed of from the pothetic existance I use to have and now here I am. I have realized that I am not worth being alive.. I have found someone who loves me,but I do not love her,so why have we been together. 'I know why', I was a child who would have killed himself if he would have been left alone. A child who lied to someone he never even liked. He lied so he would never have to sit alone and realize who he was. I lied because I started to feel for the first time, I fealt lonelyness.. I can see why I was told that I would never learn to love.. It is in this lonelyness I picked up a crutch,now I can see who I am inside and out..I want to get rid of this crutch,the only problem is that while I started to like myself I also learned to care. I do not love her, but I care.. I am her world all that she has,if I were to leave she would kill herself. I want to die.. Before I wanted to die because I hated myself, so I used her love for an excuse to live. Now I can have emotions and I started to like me as myself. I do not need her any more, but I can not leave. If I left she would take her life and I can not live with the guilt. I was so stupid then I forced myself into now. I really do not know what to do, I have to get out.. When ever I see her I hate myself for leading her on for so long. I wish I would have never learned to like myself, I would not belong to these evil thoughts. So where did they ever come from,these dark thoughts.. I have to tell you, that is why I am writing this down. You see I have for many years lived a painful existance in the realms of Cyber Space. Last year I met a woman on a chat line and we talked, I had to teach her how to use her P.C.,but after a few months we became close. Soon I knew I had someone speical and close,someone to end this lonelyness. The only problem is I could not leave my crutch and she could not leave hers,We grew apart then closer than before. Then one day I could not get a hold of her again,I lost my phone the only acess we had. She told me that once we grew apart she had met met many others,but truly loved me. Anyway she had found her way out and it opened my eyes to my own. The love we shared was perfect in every way.. Her passion,life and understanding.. I think though I will have to use a rope. You see I love to think and this way it willbe slow. Unlike pills or slit wrists I can not run for help,unlike a gun or a jump I would not have to worry about getting the job done.Besides the mess be minamal and no one else would be blamed. So you look and see my seriousness and I am sure you ask the same question I do, why am I still here.. I know how perfect an end would be. I see this clearly,but deep within something would be wroung. I have no need to die,I want to find away out...
VOiCES iN MY MiND
Another day rips away at my silence, tearing marks that will scar us forever, rearing closely as the days run together All I want are the wings from above, take me away, wrap me in love Believe in the pains of tomorrow Drift of my life, drowning in sorrow, my life begins day after tomorrow I only ask one thing of you, I want you to kill this pain Passion breaks from the silence Ripping away what's left of my mind, leaving me between day and night All I want is to know the feeling of love You deny me my only escape I believe, I am going insane I am losing my grip on sanity I am not sure where my mind is I only ask one thing of you I don't see how I can take this pain Voices rip through my head again They scream when all else is silent, rendering me out of control All I wanted was an escape from pain I move toward obsession again I am losing myself, within my dreams I have lost my chance of having you, I only wanted to be with you I only wanted you to kill this pain
I sit still.
Listening to the sky.
I realize the worlds above.
I can not think of myself alone.
With all the stars in the sky.
Could I be dreaming of all of this.
The world is full of this.
I sleep in love at pease, under the deep blue sky.
To look into your eyes. I see a little girl. I wish, I want to, I wish I were the little boy that weeps in your arms. I can see your heart. You have the purest soul. I only wish one thing, that I was in your heart..
I wish I could say you feel this same pain. What I share for. This would be to much, to much to say for you. Still I walkout the door. Look at the stars they cry for you alone tonight. I take time to pray for something to fill my heart. I wish you would awake feel for you alone, feel for your own. I stand beside you, pass a smile, standing by. Remember the day the sun smiles a cool summer breeze. It is the most I see in love of the day. Bussy people running to and from, they don't know. The smell of flowres, the kiss of death. The park of dreams, I wait there living not wanting to die. Trying to forget the night.
This love is like the sorrow I feel so great and true. I can never be alone as long as I have dreams of you. It is hard to believe in me when I am in so in love with you. To love you, I care to adore you to my own end. I hate what you have done, you took you away and I have no one to talk too. We never had our love so true I blame me for you. I want now to die alone, why can't I be with you.
Up like people please if I please to you. I'm down on my knees tell me why I feel this way. I'm left in satisfaction and I can feel your desire tell me why I feel this way? What is it that makes the world light up when ever your in my room. What is this that I have become, I can't explain what causes love between us. I see the light, I pick the flowers and I wish it to do from here. I'll call it love the way my heart jumps in my chest . I wish I knew before how the world could be . A much better place , I knew before how the world could be this much better place I know the world and it is love. When you are here and this love is the only I ever knew. But you are not heer and I hang around I am left with my final thoughts as all gos black The rope has helped me leave this life before you came back
The brook babbled, oblivious to reality, creating its music as it flowed over the rounded stones of the stream bed. A tall old elm stood by the stream. Its branches bowed briefly under a sudden gust of wind. The first brown leaf of the coming fall broke off and sailed gently down in the currents of the wind. A man sat at the base of the tree, his back resting against its gnarled trunk. He was a tall, thin man with a thick graying beard and short wind-tangled brown hair. His face bore the lines of a life of hard work, and his eyes held the light of a life's wisdom. He had large strong hands, heavily calloused and knotted. His clothes had once been fine and civilized, but were worn and tattered, not at all holding up to life in the wild. In his hands, he held an old paperback, its spine was broken in several places and its cover was gone. He held it gently, as if it were precious. His grey eyes lifted from the pages, his soul captured by the beauty of the brook's song. His heart swelled and his soul sang in tune with the water. He closed the book and slipped it into an old leather pouch that lay at his feet. His eyes slowly closed and he slept, his soul at ease. He had been a man of the city once. A bridge builder. Though he never built one by hand. He built them in his mind, and other men had built from his vision. But inside the bridge builder there were two others. The Howler and the Joker. The Howler saw only the bad of the world and was dark and cynical. The Joker cared not for the world, for it was only a lesser part of the greater reality, and so made light of it all. The two were constantly at war, each trying in their own way to protect the bridge builder, and each inadvertently contributing to his destruction. So the man suffered for the war, but could do nothing to stop it, for he was the war. At the brink of chaos, the bridge builder had had enough. Without a word, he quietly quit his post. He cast off the shackles of civilization, and walked past its borders. Within the confines of the deep woods, the bridge builder found peace, the Howler could not exist without misery for it to feed on, and so fled back to the city,and the Joker, having no enemy to contest, faded and was gone. The bridge builder let down the walls he had thrown up against the Howler and the Joker. Finally, the Bridge Builder died, and only the Man remained. And the man listened to the melodies of the water, and rejoiced for its simple beauty. One day the chains of flesh could hold him no longer, and the Man was no more. But the Soul remained, and it rejoiced for now it was truly free. And with the brook's song as its guide the Soul's journey truly began.
Steam drifted from the gaping jaws of Jormagund as he gently dreamed of dark things unseen. High on the lofty perch sat Jara, his cloak rattling with each billowed breath. As the whirl of life swept around him, he would come here to sit and think. Like the serpent, he was happy to pass his days in quiet dream, never asking much of the world but to be left alone. People would rush by and never see Jara or the monster that lurked just below the End. He didn't mind. Science had told them the world was round and that there was no End. They were wrong. Jara had seen the End of the World. He visted it almost everyday.
The tome was old, wrinkled and scarred from overuse. A wave of cold settled upon him as he gripped it with an iron hand. The book was cold, unnaturally cold, colder than the people that had forged it. But they had done him a great favor; they had left this place to him, untampered and free of their ignorance. He would return the favor, and give to them what they had lost. The book plummeted into the abyss.
Majestically, it spiraled into the great beyond. Plumes of steam shrouded the view, encasing the book in a veil of darkness. Into the gaping serpent's jaw, it fell. The book slithered down Jormagund's throat to splash in his stomach. A thunderous crash broke the lingering silence as waves of acid erupted from the beast's belly. Jormagund was pleased, and so was Jara. The sun cast its dying rays upon the hill and it was time to leave.
"Who stole my book!" demanded the overlord. The reddened old man sifted through the room hoping that conscience would reveal the thief. A smug look crossed Jara's face. The man was nothing without his books. Perhaps now, they would dream.
Maya says that I am going to live forever. I don't see how.
two a.m. electrotrance neon pummel dodge the airwaves haven for the homebodies who lust for me time compression is a lie there is no time lying lying bastards grotesque appendages massage my brain for information i have no answers no questions no thoughts flatlining death tone clear clear electricity racing through my veins overload where is the tunnel helpless abode embodiment nonexistent sinking flesh onto mine skin curls rips brutalized by machines i need
Once, after Maya and I had finished eating supper, she proposed that we should get married. I told her that marriage was awful. Maya said that it would be wonderful, that it would be a statement of our commitment. I asked her if she knew what happened to Lon Chaney. She didn't. I recounted how Lon Chaney's first wife was an alcoholic who destroyed her vocal chords, and he left her for another woman who was already married to a guy with no legs. Marriage is for freaks, I said. We watched Tod Browning films for the next ten hours.
mother of god save me save me how does your garden grow entropy garden thorns burst out of me porous minds hold nothing sifting through decay lamp post dead in a dying street i am not alienated assimilation is my vice overwhelmed by tortured feet stomping point line no line smooth enough for her guardian angels betray me sweet succubus apple gag feast on me
Maya explained to me a few days ago that her name means "illusion." I asked her if she was real or just a figment of my imagination. Don't be such a solipsist, she replied, kissing me on the cheek to prove her existence. I wasn't positive that I actually felt her kiss, but I kept that to myself. I think the real question is whether or not you exist, she said. I've never been sure since.
indeterminate silence stranglehold butchers my ears mind control a retinal violation daunting razor blades warm beserk circus maximus seldane dreams codeine skies immutability what did he know his wife dreamed up a nightmare my nightmare release sleep circadian rhythms cacophony cycle round and round and round no tone clear
When I first met Maya, she asked if I could sum up my life in one sentence. The ape children have no hope, I answered. She asked who said that, and I said that I didn't know and that it didn't matter. Maya wondered if I was always that depressed. I thought so and made up some excuse about having a bad childhood, but I don't remember ever being a child. She stayed with me anyway.
Maya says that I am going to live forever. How long is forever?
Never say things directly. This statement is a peculiar paradox, direct and unemotional. Perhaps I missed the point. It makes sense. On a spherical world such as Earth, projecting sound waves directly upon a tangent line would miss other points (and people) entirely. Direct words would zip on by and into the great Nothing. Of course, that doesn't mean that Nothing is listening. Nothing seldom listens. It doesn't care. It is content being what Nothing is, and that is, of course, absolutely nothing. By listening, Nothing would have to become Something and then become unhappy at having heard nothing. So, Nothing stays nothing and is relatively happy.
It is the Korgaforms that live in the Nothing that listen. The Korgaforms are evil robots. Korgaforms don't like people and want to destroy the universe completely. No one knows who built the Korgaforms and no one has ever seen them. The Korgaforms built themselves. Korgaforms hate people for the exact opposite reason that God loves people. They just do.
Korgaforms don't believe they are evil. They believe they are doing the universe an invaluable service by reducing it to Nothing. Being Nothing, the universe could be utterly indifferent and never become unhappy. Most people were unhappy with this conclusion. God was utterly indifferent.
For show and tell on Friday, Randy brought a homemade thermonuclear device. The class oohed and ahhed as the bomb was passed around the circle, marveling at the simple yet efficient design. The casing was built out of Legos, and the detonator was constructed using a small LED clock from Sears and parts from a Capsella toy set. Randy was especially proud of the fact that his father had allowed him to do all of the sautering himself. He had obtained the plutonium from his Russian terrorist pen pal, who had been nice enough to provide a lead casing to prevent radiation poisoning.
"That's very well done, Randy," Mrs. Silverwood said, twirling a strand of silver hair around her index finger. She wasn't really Mrs. Silverwood, of course. She had told the class that she was Mrs. Higgenbothem's twin sister, who was their normal teacher, but she really was Mrs. Higgenbothem, just with silver hair. She enjoyed playing mind games on the children, since they usually never caught on. It was also, she thought, a decent preparation for real life.
"Wow, Randy," Sally said. "If you could blow up anything with your nuclear bomb, what target would you choose?"
Randy stared at her My Little Pony T-shirt for a moment, wondering why, if girl toys could be made to smell like perfume fragrances, his G.I. Joes weren't manufactured to smell like blood and rotting flesh.
"I can't reveal my targets, Sally," he replied, placing the bomb in his backpack. "If I did, they would beef up their security. I need the element of surprise on my side."
"You can't even give us a secondary target?" Nathan inquired.
Randy shook his head, disappointing the class.
"Well, class, I think that Randy gets to turn off the lights for nap time," Mrs. Silverwood said. "Everybody get on your mats, and after our nap, we'll go outside for recess."
Outside on the playground, Randy sat alone on top of the jungle gym. Even his winning show and tell presentation hadn't garnered him any new friends, since most of his classmates were Marxists and he was an anarchist. He knew their system would never get past the dictatorship of the proletariat, and so far history had been on his side. Besides, Randy felt more at home with Bakunin than Tolstoy. He had helped them once, organizing a labor protest, but became disillusioned with cell conflicts and their lack of direction. He adhered mainly to Hakim Bey's theory of temporary autonomous zones, a system wherein so-called guerrilla cowboys came together to perform certain tasks and then disband. At least he wasn't one of those damn capitalists, with their three-piece business suits and Bill Gates lunch boxes.
A girl's voice called his name from below, and when he looked down, he saw Sally.
"Mind if I join you?" she asked, already climbing up the bars. "I really liked your thermonuclear device. You're very smart."
"Thanks," Randy answered.
"If you tell me your primary target, I promise not to tell anyone. Cross my heart and hope to die."
"No can do, Sally. It's got to remain a secret."
"Well, I had to at least try. Anyway, I wanted to invite you to my birthday party. I'm gonna be seven."
"Congratulations," Randy said, "but I think I'll pass. It'll be mostly Marxists and, no offense, I really don't get along with Marxists well."
"None taken," Sally assured. "Please come. We've got to set aside our differences for the revolution's sake. It's going to be a happening party, and I think you'll have lots of fun."
"I don't know. I'll have to think about it."
"You do that. I also think you're pretty cute."
Randy blushed as Sally climbed down.
Randy rode his bike to Sally's house, listening to Psychic TV's cover of "Eve of Destruction" on his walkman, thinking that more 1960's music should have more like this. He was dressed in his best black and gray camouflage, and in his backpack was Sally's present. Pulling into the driveway, Randy got off his bike and set it against a tree. He rang the doorbell, and Sally's mother opened the door, ushering him inside.
The interior decoration of the house screamed communism. Posters of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Vladimir Lenin lined the walls, and Randy saw that the foyer table was stacked with party favors consisting of Marx and Engel's Communist Manifesto and Quotations From Mao-Tse Tung. Randy had a feeling that this wasn't merely a birthday party but a recruitment festival as well.
Sally's father appeared from around the corner, gave Randy a firm handshake and told him to join the kids in the backyard. Randy made his way outside and saw about twenty of his classmates engaged in a game of "Shoot the Apple Off of the CIA Agent's Head." Various kids took turns shooting the straw dummy holding a sign which read, "If you aren't CIA, you aren't anybody." Nobody really cared about hitting the apple.
He spotted Sally standing in a group of people and waved. Sally smiled and ran over to him. Some of the kids she had been talking to gave him nasty looks.
"Oh, Randy, I'm so glad you decided to come," she said.
"To be honest, my mom made me come," Randy confessed. "She said that I should get to know my enemy."
"Am I your enemy, Randy?"
"No, you're not. My mom's just crazy that way. She's an old hard-liner, thinking that everyone who isn't with us is against us."
"Oh. Well, this is the best birthday party I've ever had. Daddy is letting us use his prized uzi, and Mom baked a cake that looks like the cover of Guevara's Guerrilla Warfare."
"Good book. I learned more than I could ever want from that book about staging efficient small-scale operations. Hopefully it will come to good use in the future."
Sally's mother announced that it was time to open presents, and everyone trooped inside to the living room. Sally ripped open package after package, including a complete collection of Billy Bragg albums, a Chia Pet in the shape of Stalin's head, and a Subcommandante Marcos mask, complete with fake cigar. She opened Randy's present last, revealing a T-shirt with the words, "Dyslexic workers of the world, untie!" written across the front. Kids sneered at Randy, but Sally cut them off.
"If we can't laugh at ourselves, we'll never win," she commented.
"I think it's time for the anarchist to leave," Sally's father said, putting a hand on Randy's shoulder.
"No, Daddy, I want him to stay," Sally objected, standing up.
"It's alright," Randy said. "I'll go. I knew it was a mistake to come anyway."
Randy felt their glares as he left, and he tried not to cry on his way home.
"My dad threw away the shirt," Sally said. "I tried to get it back, but he said he would ground me if I wore it."
They were sitting on a bench in the park, having snuck out of their houses. Randy hadn't wanted to go, but when Sally had come to his window and threatened to scream, he feared the wrath of his parents if they woke up.
"I can make you another one if you want," Randy offered. "I made it with my father's silk-screen."
"Oh, that's so sweet."
Sally tried to grasp Randy's hand, but he pulled away.
"Listen. I don't think this is going to work," he began, nervously rubbing his hands together. "We're from two different worlds, and our parents would never agree to it. I'm sorry, but I don't think we were meant to be together. Maybe in another time, in another place, but not now."
"Don't start with that tired tripe," she said. "We can make this happen. Forget about our parents. We don't need them. We can run away and be together. It will be an adventure."
"But what about your friends? What about your revolution? I'll still be ideologically opposed to you. I'm an anarchist, and any government is bad in my book."
"But doesn't love conquer all?"
"Not when love is dead. It died a long time ago without anybody noticing."
"But I love you," Sally protested.
"You only think you love me," Randy countered. "Nobody really loves anymore. It's a sham, Sally, and if you keep think that love exists, your revolution is in deep trouble. Tell the guy you're about to blow away that love is real and see if he agrees with you."
"You're a bastard. I hate you."
"Hate. Now you're coming back down to Earth. Maybe the revolution stands a chance after all."
"You'll be the first one against the wall when the revolution comes, " Sally said. "I'll make sure of that."
When the revolution came, Randy's parents took off for the hills. They planned to wait it out and see what faction would emerge victorious before making any decisions on what to do. Randy had helped them load up the RV and saw them off. Normally, he would have accompanied them, but he wanted to see if Sally would keep her word.
About twenty minutes after his parents left, Randy heard a knock on the front door. He answered it and saw Sally there, looking smart in her gas station coveralls and beret. Revolution had become a glorious fashion statement.
"Hi, Randy," she greeted, raising her 9mm Beretta level with Randy's chest.
"I was worried that you wouldn't make it," he said. "I figured you'd be storming the capitol or shooting record executives. Won't you come in?"
"Don't make any sudden moves," she ordered as she stepped inside, keeping the firearm fixed on Randy.
He was secretly pleased that she had kept her promise, since Randy hated liars more than anyone else. Naturally, he wasn't happy standing there with a gun pointed at him, but at least it proved that Sally was honest.
"Didn't Mao Tse-Tung say that power stems from the barrel of a gun?" Randy questioned. "What about truth? Is that where truth originates as well?"
"You know nothing of truth," Sally said. "The workers are taking control, and there will soon be a worker's paradise."
"You believe that lie, Sally? Do you? When's the last time communism hasn't been used as a mask for socialism? It will never work."
"Will too. What do you know? You're an anarchist. All you want to do is blow stuff up."
Randy laughed. "That's what you really think, huh? Fine. Forget about the amount of personal respect and cooperation that are necessary for an anarchist society to work. You value virtue over freedom, but I will not be inducted into your Marxist ways because you think my life will be better. You think I wanna just blow stuff up? Okay. I can accommodate you there."
He pulled his hands from behind his back, producing the small nuclear device. He pressed a button, and the clock began to count down.
"There's no disarming this baby," Randy said. "You've got about two minutes to live. Any last words?"
"You're crazy," she replied.
"Not very memorable, Sally. How about some Shakespeare? 'By my troth, I care not; a man can die but once; we owe God a death and let it go which way it will; he that dies is quit for the next.'"
"Turn it off!" Sally pleaded, steadying the gun with her other hand.
"Your political ideology means nothing in the face of death."
"Stop it. I don't want to die."
You were willing to die for your cause, but what about for nothing?"
Sally fired, and the hollow-tipped bullet took off half of Randy's face. He flew down onto the ground, his hands still clutching the bomb. She watched the counter decrease.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
"Viva revolution!" she screamed, and then she cried.
I should have known long ago. I should have noticed. People have looked to me with fear and reverence yet I am kind and benevolent. Extraordinary events have plagued my life only to be dismissed as circumstance. I know why my face was painted to match the stars and I shake my head at the ignorance. As tears of regret roll down, I glare to the heavens and pour out a blackened soul.
"Why do you taunt me so?"
The stars, now in their fiery twilight, answer only with an icy chill. I dry my tears with fire and tremble in the rain. My patience expelled, I cry anew and trace the challenge.
"Why do you taunt me so! You think I know not of this test? Why keep the illusion when the delusion doth fade? The game is over and refuse to let me loose. This lie of life is more horrid than the fires that rage in the bowels of hell. I spit in the face of a wicked god."
I awaited the flames of redemption but they never came. Neither whisper nor word was heard from heavenly spirit save for the whisper of an ill wind upon my back and I was left alone to ponder a puzzle half solved.
`she only sleeps when it's raining....'
that isn't entirely true. my body sleeps on a reasonably regular (define reasonably) basis. it's the rest of me that has the difficulties. most people have the night to dream and rest and perhaps resolve some troubles and to just take a break. but i work differently. the moment that my body slips into sleep, the other part of me wakes up - the pain and thoughts that tear me open and scream and shout - the pain and thoughts that no one else can see or hear. i can't get any sleep, even in a quiet room. there's just too much noise inside my head, inside my chest. but there's something about rain. for unknown reasons, it's the one thing that can bring me peace. maybe the beast inside me is just thirsty.
`come on, give me your blue rain, give me your black skies...'
so today was boring. not boring but just casual. i sat in the sun a lot and realized that it was no good. no good. not even the nice weather can do me any good. nothing. everyone says that blue skies make them happy, but i tried to take the blue sky, the bright blue beautiful sky, just stick it in my head, and lock it up, and hide the key.... but it didn't work. i was still yearning for grey.
`that you should ever think,may god forbid...'
my mind is a catalog full of feelings that i can sort through until i'm all done and i know what i want to do. but the problem is that there's only so much room in my head, so i can't keep all the thoughts forever and i forget things. my mind's like water in a bathtub that wants to overflow but the drain thing is there to take away all the water before it ruins too much. before it stains the wood in my brain.
`she lives alone on a private archipelago...'
i could walk on water if i drank enough H20. it would become me and i could. and then maybe i could walk to shore.
`she's scared of dying...she wants to keep it that way...'
what's so bad about dying? me or them, it doesn't really matter. nothing bad about ending their miserable, meaningless existence......is there? i got this little song in my head this morning: "99 people on my hit list, 99 people on my list, take one out, without a shout, 98 people on my hit list" and it seemed perfectly reasonable.
`she screams, and her voice is straining...'
i want to be able to believe in fairy tales and birthday candles and god and not worry about being disappointed, and I want that logical voice in my head to shut the fuck up. i want to go outside and run around and scream at the top of my lungs till somebody hears me then scream louder until they actually listen....and i'll scream until my throat hurts and then i want someone to hold me. and i want to curl up inside them and feel safe. i want to lie down on cold hard concrete and feel it scratch my cheek and know that i exist.
`come on, color me in, come on, color me in...'
picture me. 5 foot 3 inches red hair. blue eyes that will cut right through you. i mean right through you. i'm on this cliff. i want to see what it's like to fly but i'm so scared. so uncertain. then the rain starts to come down on me and i can't even see my hands there is so much darkness bleeding into me. then i disappear from your sight. then you close your eyes.
`i deserve a little more...'
oh, but i do. i deserve so much more. i deserve to live and be me. i can't. this is how you end up old before your time, and alone even though you deserve not to be just as much as anyone else. all my friends, all my family, all my loves...is that connection attainable at all? to ever feel so completely not alone? to be surrounded by fifty, or more, close and not-so-close acquaintances, and feel utterly and totally alone. that's the worst. i don't want to be alone. i belong anywhere but here - here in between the garden and the sea. i belong anywhere, somewhere, just don't put me where no one will find me and the loneliness chases away the last bit of peace i have.
`everybody loves a man on a cliff some hope for heroes, most of us beg for blood and we all stay to see if he falls but no one stays to pick him up'
people are monsters. they all just wait for something to fall. they don't care if it's you or your name or whatever. it's just the fact that people are so infatuated with failure. as long as it's someone else's. people become notoriously quiet and circumspect on the issue of their own imperfections. and yes, i love that man on the cliff. he gives me a release that otherwise i would have to furnish for myself. and he gives it free of charge, whereas my own expenses would accumulate to a very stiff total indeed.
`maybe if you put a little faith in your own voice...'
but the problem with that argument is that the moment you put the least bit of faith in your own voice, the universe compensates for it, so someone else loses as much as you gained. and even though you can't avoid having some level of confidence in yourself, the less you have, the better off you are. the other thing about having faith in yourself is that you either have to have a lot of it or very little. because if you only have some, then every time someone expresses a thought about you to the contrary, that little bit of confidence won't be enough to overcome the disillusionment, so you'll lose it and you might as well have not had any in the first place. and it takes quite a bit of faith, far more than i've ever been able to muster, to overcome those contrary bits.
`it's 3 am, i must be lonely...'
it's raining at last. but for the first time, the pain refuses to take a break. and i'm so tired of it. it's like this: i can't get this grey sky outta my head, but i got a blue sky down in my heart...
`you can't change a leopard's spots...if someone tries to scrub them off, he'll be a mighty unhappy, neurotic leopard.'
these are my spots.
Scott, 20, is a somewhat ordinary fellow.
Jeremy, 16, is an insecure skater punk.
David-Michel, 60, is an abstract artist, immigrated from France.
Jessica, 18, is a soft-tempered Buddhist.
Maura, 22, is overweight and dresses in black. Caustic wit.
Barbara, 45, is Jeremy's mother, and a bit overbearing.
A grassy stretch on the side of a roadway. Two badly mangled cars that have collided head-on lie off behind the road. One is a sports car, another is an economy car. The sports car is facing right, indicating it crossed the median. Sounds of passing vehicles murmur in the background. A cloudy autumn day.
(SCOTT and JEREMY are in the wreckage. SCOTT is in the sports car, his body having gone through the windshield and partly onto the hood. JEREMY is in the economy car, visible behind a shattered windshield, draped over the steering wheel. They are completely still throughout the play.
After several seconds, DAVID-MICHEL walks onto the scene, curious. He re-reads a paper in his hand and looks around to confirm it. He steps closer, looks over the cars and bodies, and leaves.
He soon returns and cordons some red ropes around the cars and puts up a sign reading "EXHIBITION.")
|DAVID-MICHEL:|| This is quite a find. What shall I title it? |
"Meet Me Half-Way: The Art of Compromise and Car Wrecks."
(stands next to the sign and regards the piece)
(Some time passes and MAURA and JESSICA arrive together.)
|JESSICA:||Good lord, what a sight.|
|MAURA:||Kick-ass -- carnage.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||It's something, isn't it?|
|JESSICA:||Those poor people.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Don't worry about them. They're dead.|
|JESSICA:||I guess you're right. No more speeding tickets for the guy in the sports car.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Not exactly, I fear. I spy one under the windshield wiper.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||He seems to have had it coming.|
|JESSICA:||That's meaningless. Everyone "has it coming," sooner or later. Everyone dies.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||You needn't lecture me. I'll die before you do.|
|JESSICA:||Sorry. It just makes me uncomfortable, I guess.|
|MAURA:||You know, they sure look natural.|
|JESSICA:|| (restraining nervous laughter)|
That's so cruel! They're not being buried.
|MAURA:||Well, when they are, I bet the cars will be included. (Pause.)|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Did you two get invitations?|
|JESSICA:|| Yes, we did. |
(searching front pocket, finding slip of paper)
What time is it?
|JESSICA:|| (comparing with paper)|
Hmmm. We're early then.
|MAURA:||Great. I could have finished watching "Love Boat."|
|JESSICA:||Why were you watching that?|
|MAURA:||Come on, Jess, culture! Ships, water, separation, no-man-is-an-island -- classic modern rendering of the "stranded souls" motif.|
|JESSICA:||Doesn't the Love Boat dock every day?|
|MAURA:||Damned if I know. I only caught a few minutes.|
|JESSICA:||Gilligan's Island would be a better case study.|
|MAURA:|| I shouldn't try to write my papers from TV shows anyway.
Commericals suck! You lose all the continuity. But it's easier to write
When's this show gonna start?
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Actually, it already has, my dear.|
|JESSICA:||Oh! This is it?|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||I thought you recognized that. Look: we have our invitations, we have arrived, and we have our show.|
|MAURA:|| Well, hell! Let's do something! |
(steps over ropes into the mangled wreck scene)
C'mon, Jessica! Get a closer look.
|JESSICA:||(shocked) I dunno about that! What are you doing?|
(staring up close at the bodies)|
Getting a look-see. What, you Buddhists got something against gawking at the dead?
|JESSICA:||I suppose it would be considered rude, at least.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:|| (stepping over rope)|
Do you read the newspaper?
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Do you think that's rude?|
|JESSICA:||I don't understand.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Your newspapers in America appear to gawk at the dead quite a bit.|
|JESSICA:||Oh, you mean the obituaries?|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Not at all. Look at the front page. I prefer to say "oldspaper" myself, since by definition, they print information about the past -- which has passed away. Gawking at the dead.|
|JESSICA:||Oh, I understand. But still, this is much worse.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||What does your invitation say?|
|JESSICA:|| Say? |
Oh -- you mean, "Experience another's suffering?"
What? That's odd.
(looks at a copy of the invitation)
They're supposed to say, "Indifference exposed."
|JESSICA:|| I don't really feel like enjoying another's suffering.
It's vampiric. |
(still distracted by the sight)
Maura, what are you doing?
|MAURA:|| My ticket says "Make the best out of a bad
(peeking into SCOTT's trunk, which is open)
This guy's got a bunch of aluminum cans back here. No beer, though, so I can't respect him too much. But there's enough cans here I can recycle to buy myself some.
(starts sifting through cans)
|JESSICA:||Um, uh -- isn't that part of the exhibit?|
|JESSICA:||The sign says "exhibition."|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||You do not practice Zen? I must have misheard. "Do not mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself." The sign is only a convenience.|
|JESSICA:||Is this found art?|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Life is art. And it changes constantly. We cash in the aluminium.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:|| Bah -- I like "aluminium." Then I am
mistaken for a Briton. You Americans like the British. |
(poking around with the cars)
Interesting, here, how the roof is bent in. One could place a nice flowering plant in that crevice and make this much more appealing.
|SCOTT:|| (quite perkily)|
No no, don't try to make this car anything it's not. It's really not that special. I saw this terrible movie about ninjas or revolutionaries or something where the main villain was driving this car -- I laughed out loud! This is a sham Toyota! A car a ninja revolutionary would drive? Come off it!
Aw, fuck, that's you, Scott, isn't it?
|SCOTT:||Yes, Jeremy, it's me. Fancy running into you here.|
|JEREMY:||Fuck off. Since when are you cool enough to drive a Toyota? Is this your daddy's?|
|SCOTT:||WHAT?! I bought this car, I'll have you know. I started work right out of high school and earned it.|
|JEREMY:||Where do you work now?|
|SCOTT:||I do technical support at Dell.|
|JEREMY:||Yep, you're still a dork.|
|SCOTT:||Jeremy, allow me to point out that you're driving your mom's car.|
|JEREMY:||Uh -- well, at least I didn't spend money, on purpose, to drive it.|
|SCOTT:||Sigh -- children. Haven't you ever heard of responsibility? I had to earn money to --|
|MAURA:|| (breaking in)|
Well, you may have earned the money but not my respect. Where the hell are the beer cans?
|SCOTT:||What?! I'll have you know I do drink quite a bit, but not from cans.|
|MAURA:|| You only drink -- |
(Rustling through cans, holding up examples)
-- Diet Pepsi and Shasta from cans.
What kind of a freak are you?
|SCOTT :||I can't believe this! Who says those are mine? Why must I explain myself to you?|
|MAURA:||Why are you trying anyhow? You're dead.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Interesting how your oldspapers carry on with similar dead arguments.|
|SCOTT:||Right. Say, someone ask me how I died.|
|JESSICA:||How did you die?|
|Actually, my memory's a little unclear, but I know a joke about another notable car accident. There was this woman whose husband couldn't satisfy her. They tried and tried and tried but she never had an orgasm....|
We've heard it!
|MAURA:||Wow, Jess, now you're gawking at the dead?|
|JESSICA:||Well, my invitation says to.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:|| It's more subtle. |
She isn't gawking at the dead but now speculating on the no-longer-existing living.
|JESSICA:||Not really -- nothing exists anyway.|
|MAURA:||Here we go again.|
|JESSICA:||Seriously, it's all an illusion. At the core of matter, for example, atoms are just vibrating electromagnetic waves. Those are massless. Solidity, weight, even the notion of distinct objects, are all illusions.|
|MAURA:||Hey, dead guys -- was your wreck an illusion?|
|.... so the witch doctor gave her the Amazing Orgasmic Dildo, and said, "All you do is say, 'Amazing Orgasmic Dildo, my pussy!' and it'll fuck you silly...."|
We've all heard this before!
|MAURA:||Whatever -- Jess. Does the Buddha exist?|
|Well, then, why do you worship him?||Wait, yes. |
I don't worship him -- it's undefined, really. You can't define Buddha. It neither exists nor doesn't exist -- it's beyond that distinction.
|MAURA:||You base your whole reality on something you can't say exists or not? Wow. No wonder you're so fucked up.|
Leave it up to you to define that....
|... she's in the car, and the Amazing Orgasmic Dildo is fucking her silly! She's coming and coming, and also pumping on the accelerator -- 65, 75, 85 -- she doesn't even realize what she's doing, she's in heaven...|
"Amazing Orgasmic Dildo,
Shut up, we've heard it!
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Jess-ica, is that your name? -- does this wreck exist?|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Why do we experience it then?|
|JESSICA:||It's a shared illusion.|
|MAURA:||That reminds me of that time when Clay and I both -- I swear -- we both saw "The Nightmare Before Christmas" but the audio was a Skinny Puppy CD. We couldn't tell anything was wrong!|
|DAVID-MICHEL:|| (ignoring her)|
So if I don't believe in the wreck, will it disappear?
|JESSICA:|| Maybe for you it would, but it's difficult to do. |
|DAVID-MICHEL:|| (closing his eyes, pressing fingers in ears)|
I don't believe in this wreck anymore. I'm walking...
(walks into side of car)
What did I collide with?
|DAVID-MICHEL:||But it doesn't really exist. What is this obstruction?|
|JESSICA:||The car. We can all see it.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||So you're telling me, "Monsieur, I'm afraid you're delusional."|
|DAVID-MICHEL:|| So are you -- because it doesn't exist, as you
said. How is my illusion different from yours? And how can you decide which
is more real, if all illusions are false?
Look -- the plain fact is that we are all trapped in bodies of death.
|... the cop comes up to the car, wrapped around a tree, and she's so out of breath and ecstatic that she still doesn't know what's happened. The cop asks her, "What happened?" She's still being fucked silly by the Amazing Orgasmic Dildo and only manages to get out in hitched breaths, "You see, officer, it's a funny story..."|
Gee, officer, don't say:
"Amazing Orgasmic Dildo,
It'll fuck you silly!
|MAURA:||I've heard quite a few men end up in the hospital with that as their excuse.|
(BARBARA appears, strolling over near the ropes.
She stands away from the crowd.)
|BARBARA:|| (finger in the air, monarch-like)|
Jeremy, get out of the car!
|JEREMY:||Oh no! Mom!|
|BARBARA:|| (to OTHERS)|
"Oh no, Mom" -- isn't that sweet?
|BARBARA:||I won't have you participating in such detestable pieces of so-called "art."|
|JEREMY:||Why can't I?|
|BARBARA:|| (to DAVID-MICHEL)|
I let him cut his hair with sheep shears, but this is going too far.
|JEREMY:||You didn't let me -- I did it anyway!|
|BARBARA:|| But it turned out so cute. If I knew you were going to
do that, I would have said okay. |
Isn't he cute?
Get out of that car, now!
|SCOTT:||... and the cop says, "Amazing Orgasmic Dildo, my
(waits for laughter)
That's the end, folks.
|BARBARA:|| (to DAVID-MICHEL)|
I hope this hasn't started yet. I didn't buy my invitation to come here and miss half the show.
|MAURA:||You bought an invitation?|
|BARBARA:||Of course. You don't think I'd wait around for them to invite me, did you? Those empty-headed immigrants always forget. I pay my taxes like a good American so I don't put up with being ignored. My taxes pay for the gas and the roads that make this all possible.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:|| (walking over to BARBARA, bowing dramatically)|
Oh, we are honored to be in your presence, madame.
|BARBARA:||I'm sure you are. My invitation does say to "Do something honorable." My presence is sufficient, I assume.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:|| (to himself)|
Who printed these invitations anyway?
|BARBARA:||Excuse me, don't I remember seeing a picture of you in the newspaper peeing on a wall?|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||No, madame, not at all.|
|BARBARA:||"Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab he that pisseth against the wall..."|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Quite. I do not appreciate some of the modern artists. They cannot mock art without -- mocking art.|
|BARBARA:||Don't you make your living off of peeing into cups and such?|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Madame, I am not an athlete.|
|BARBARA:||That's quite clear. You fancy yourself an artist, I recall. God knows some real artist spun in his grave when you moved into our country.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Such as whom?|
Hmmph -- you probably don't know any one of those paint-pushers either.
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Forgive me if I misheard your claiming to have read the newspaper.|
|BARBARA:||I do, Frenchy, and that's why I'm here, in fact. I read the article about this putrid exhibition you're having here. I think it's detestable!|
|JEREMY:||No, Mom, it's pretty cool, really. Scott and I got personally selected to do this! They had one of these setups for Drunk Driving Day at school.|
|SCOTT:|| How appropriate. I'm quite toasted, myself. I think I
made a wrong turn a while back, come to think of it. |
The oldspapers have already written this up?
It's just happened!
|BARBARA:||That's why I got here as quickly as possible, to see it.|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||You just wanted to see it?|
|BARBARA:||I didn't buy an invitation just to come here and ignore what I paid to see, however insipid and exploitative it is. You've made a car wreck into art?!|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||But you're gawking at it! Precisely my point.|
|BARBARA:||I have a right to know what's going on -- it doesn't matter what it is, I should know about it. I watch my local news!|
|DAVID-MICHEL:||Madame, you only justify all my disgust for this country. Did you happen to notice that your son is dying?|
Did you? (Pause.)
(Suddenly, the sounds of a loud car horn and a collision ring out.
JESSICA and MAURA leap back from the mangled cars.
JESSICA starts screaming.)
|Oh my God, look what's happened!||Someone call an ambulance!|
|BARBARA:|| (crying, running toward the OTHERS)|
(SCOTT does not respond.)
|BARBARA:||Jeremy, you hold tight, we'll get you out!|
(DAVID-MICHEL, left standing by himself, watches in horror.
The OTHERS awkwardly dash around the car, try the doors, etc.)
|Anyone have a towel or something?||I'm gonna be sick.|
(DAVID-MICHEL, snapping out his daze, dashes to JEREMY's car door, and tries futilely to open it.)
(DAVID-MICHEL continues to yank on the handle, failing. He goes to the other side and tries that door, and fails.)
What's going on?
|MAURA:|| (to herself)|
(JEREMY continues to moan softly.
Sensing futility, everyone stops and watches JEREMY mournfully.)
|JEREMY:|| Why's everyone staring at me? (Pause.)
Stop staring at me! (Pause.)
Was today the day the lady with the crooked wig was waiting for the bus? I wonder as I sit in the corner with my green pad. Eyes turned to the aging, atrophying speaker. The speaker wearing the string of letters which follows his name, like a secret handshake. Crystallized excited eyes around the long woodlike table nodding in intelligent assent. (Yes, I believe that is so. You are too wise, just what I was thinking.) We are the careful planners, the great creators, the ideamen of our time, there can be no sitcoms five years from now, no lite news, no fat free products and modern homes and vehicles no software but for us. We are the men and women of the moment. There I am foisted in the midst of their genius their brilliance, surely I am aware, surely I sense myself in the presence of Einstein and Goethe and minor gods and deities. Surely I am honored and titillated.
I am a BMW, a cellphone, a laptop as necessary to these egos as mirrors and conference calls and awards. Me, here I know, to scribe great wisdom, for posterity, for reflection for edification. Clever little squiggles on a pad that only I can read.
Me trying to remember what day it is. Trying to control the onslaught of memories that of late have made of me their slave. Their saviour. In the corner with my green pad. With my glass of water and poker face.
Memory intrudes even now, "What is she doing writing letters to her friends?" the man speaking whose name cannot be mentioned here, a room of men, powerful men known to the world, dry chicken dinners and white wine, paneled walls, bad oil paintings, "She is taking minutes." "Minutes, you mean she is writing down what we say?" "Yes." "Everything?" He had been stunned. I was hired to keep the administrator happy. For my tiny tailored suits, to comfort him after meetings that ended late in the evening. He had strolled by the office many a time way past dark and asked, "Working late or what?" Wasn't it "or what?" And later, I discovered, I was there to create the illusion of an affair that didn't exist. To keep the important men from wondering where he took his lust.
And now, here. Me and my own secret code and the idea deities. I must stay in this moment, this now, so I can create an accurate record of their brilliance. I must push aside the constant flow of memories. Why am I like an old woman on her porch in her metal chair... speaking to all who will listen. Speaking to no one. Vomiting the past on any unsuspecting passerby? I am young. My breasts still bounce, my eyes still twinkle... I must repeat to myself. It is 1997. It is 1997. Lest I confuse a future or past reality for this moment.
I hold my green pad in my lap the words flow from the mouth of the lettered pontificator to my hand. I needn't listen, it is automatic. My mind is free to wander. My gaze meets the glazed and nodding eyes of an ideagoddess. Her nods are strong, with smiles in the right places and a yellow pad, pen poised to capture her own points her agreement, disagreement, she would like to interrupt but she controls herself. This is not her moment. Memory intrudes, I try to push it away, the hand continues to record. I am sitting at a round table with a dainty hand-stitched white tablecloth. My clothes are stiff and uncomfortable and I use incredible 8 year old strength to control the legs which want to jiggle, shake, kick and run. Volcanic energy restrained under the watchful eyes of a scary woman. Beautiful sharp featured, brunette, my mother.
I watch my hand glide across the pad, turn the page, glide across the pad. I know my mother was rosy and blonde and warm. She was an apron-wearing, cookie-baking disney movie mother. She helped me dig up worms and led me by the hand to discover caterpillars under fall leaves. There she stood now before me, brown and cream mixing bowl and wooden spoon laughing, my face was covered with cookie mix. I was "helping." She smiled and reached for my hand. She grabbed it, nails digging into my skin. I am muted with shock, my mouth open, I look into the cold, hard blue eyes of my brunette mother seated across the tablecloth from me. She tosses my hand back in my lap, picks up her napkin, cloth, white, folded around one finger to form an acceptable triangle, brushing it briefly across the corner of her cold purple lips and then back to her lap. Her eyes filled with hatred, I continue to stare. Now, she grabs my hand again, nails engaged, using my hand to pick up my napkin to brush my face. Oh, I understand. A crumb by my mouth. Several other woman are glaring at me from around the tablecloth. My mother is mortified, I know, by my behaviour. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 I count to myself 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and control my legs.
I turn the page of my green pad and continue to write. I look again at the ideagoddess, she is writing on her pad 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
I feel strange. The color is rushing from my face and the room begins to spin. My hand continues to glide across the page.
A pause in the conversation. I rub the small red crescent shaped marks on my hand. A vote is to be taken, first the other deities will be encouraged to speak. The idea goddess immediately throws her serious smile around the room, like a boomerang. Finally her turn. She puffs herself up, glances at her list of comments and shares her wisdom with the group. Reveling in their nods and smiles of acceptance. She looks at the last note on her page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. And sits. Seemingly deflated.
The floor is passed to the next member of the group. I am glad not to have to look at the ideagoddess. My hand throbs. I transfer my attention to the relaxed and easy man who buys burritos for the hungry, shopping cart, cardboard sign outcasts. It is he who reminds the group of the selfless work which must be done before the BMW is rightfully earned. He who keeps the egos in check or inflates them to unimaginable heights as they acknowledge their great mission. He, the god of compassion. Morbidly, I glance at the ideagoddess who is looking somewhat chastised by this warm and compassionate speech, drawing concentric doodles on her yellow pad.
The floor is passed to several other gods who add bits of wisdom and clarification. I am feeling more in control of the moment. I have taken a large glass of water. I will my eyes away from the ideagoddess and follow the conversation around the table to the man, quiet until now, seated at the head of the table. The lettered pontificator has long ago taken his place to the left of this man. All eyes turn to the leader, the dark, mustachioed young man born with the wisdom of ages, generously pandering knowledge for children's tuition, mortgage and nordstroms clad wife. The silent room waits for his enunciation. The idea goddess praying her words will be acknowledged. My hand throbs. The benediction is made. The die is cast. Each with their mission. The meeting is over.
The door looms before me and I run to it, carrying my green pad, my water. I rush to the ladies room stand in front of a sink holding myself up. Allowing myself to take a few deep breaths, looking into the mirror. I had been scared back there. My own memories are more than I can handle. But how is it I have the memories of the idea goddess? The mere thought of her causes a sickness to fill me, I feel as if I might explode.
The ideagoddess walks in the door. Her energy fills the room. Somehow I know she knows. Her eyes take on the look of the brunette mother. She walks up next to me, too close, powerful, somehow terrifying. She puts her hand to the back of my neck and forces my mouth to hers. She kisses me deeply, long. I feel myself becoming aroused. I feel like I am kissing myself. I am lost. My hands remain limply at my side. She pulls my blouse from my skirt and reaches her hand under my bra, pinching my nipples. I am confused, is today the day the lady with the crooked wig was waiting for the bus? I am not in the ladies room. I am in my office, my office? It is not the ideagoddess with her hand under my bra, but me with my hand under the bra of the ideagoddess. My penis is erect and pushing against her thighs. I am biting her neck touching her soft long hair she is pulling my hips to her with her legs, I am unzipping my slacks, freeing my swollen red penis an incredible heat lifts my penis into the air, it is wonderful.
Leaning on the sink, I look again in the mirror. The ideagoddess is in the door of the ladies room. I check my clothes, they are fine. I am flushed I fix my lipstick. She goes to the stall. I am still there when she flushes the toilet and walks to the sink. She looks at me and says, "good meeting". I mutter something and head out to my cubicle.
I tell my boss I need to go home early today. I still have his erection. I feel it under my skirt. I am shaking. He is concerned. I don't look well, he tells me to come into his office for a moment. He closes the door. He locks it. He reaches his hand under my skirt and takes my penis in his strong hand. He strokes it. This is wonderful. Somewhere in my memory I am wondering when I grew this incredible penis. He is taking it in his mouth now, his mustache tickles, the pleasure is incomparable. I can't decide if he is sucking my penis or I am sucking his penis then I realize, of course I am sucking his penis. I don't have a penis. He is seated behind his big desk and I am on my knees before him, under his desk. I love his penis, I love to fill my mouth with it, sucking hard, my tongue, tracing circles around and around and then flicking at the heart shaped head, sucking eating digesting this man and all his wisdom. Suddenly the knowledge that I am in control of this powerful man overcomes me, his thighs are shaking and he is murmuring, eyes rolled back in his head, I pull his belt from his pants and yank them all the way off. I take the belt and wrap it around his ass. I pull him to me with my hands on the belt, slamming his penis deep into my throat as I continue to suck and my tongue continues circling, circling, circling sucking thrusting pulling him slamming him now he cannot control his murmurs but groans, and shouts and quivers and I realize my erection has grown, the heat is unbearable and I explode in the face of the idea goddess. Sperm flowing like a waterfall from my incredible penis. Sperm showering the conference room, the idea deities, covering me and my green pad raining and raining life into the room and all the deities are reaching their hands in the air and laughing and shouting and we are all there our penises in the air shooting life into the room.
And the lady with the crooked wig is waiting for the bus.
Zach, 18. Homeless.
Nikki, 15. Homeless.
Elaine, 20. Arcade employee.
A video arcade in winter.
(Curtain up. ZACH and ELAINE are smoking outside the arcade.)
|ELAINE:||You know that cop is in there.|
|ZACH:||Yes, I watched him walk in and said hi.|
|ELAINE:||You've got balls, Zach.|
|ZACH:||So I've heard.|
|ELAINE:||He arrested you before.|
|ZACH:||I remember. That's why I said hi.|
|ELAINE:||You shouldn't be so cool.|
|ZACH:||I wasn't cool.|
|ELAINE:|| You know what I mean. (pause)|
He's coming out.
(Policeman walks out of arcade.)
|ELAINE:|| Goodnight. (pause)|
They always make me nervous.
|ELAINE:|| They've got all that power, you know? (pause)|
|ZACH:||That makes you nervous.|
|ELAINE:||Sure, doesn't it you?|
|ELAINE:||Nothing about having authority over your life and property frightens you?|
|ZACH:||I don't understand. I only give myself that authority.|
|ELAINE:|| You shouldn't be so cool. You know what I mean.
I'm going back in. You have any quarters?
|ELAINE:||Here, take a dollar. Come in out of the cold.|
|ZACH:||Yup. She went in.|
|NIKKI:|| I saw. (pause)|
Aren't you freezing?
|ZACH:||I sure aren't.|
|NIKKI:|| I think it's cold. The wind is blowing so hard. |
Where are those gloves of yours?
|NIKKI:||You had gloves yesterday.|
|ZACH:||Those were Elaine's.|
|ZACH:||What wind? I don't feel it here.|
|ZACH:||Why do you want gloves? Where are yours?|
|NIKKI:||Some jackass stole 'em. You know that church down the street?|
|ZACH:||(simultaneous with "street") Yeah.|
|NIKKI:||I took a cot in there last night, 'cuz it was freezing, and --|
|ZACH:||You give up --|
|NIKKI:||(simultaneous with "up") I know.|
|ZACH:||-- your rights.... Did you see who took them?|
|NIKKI:||No, I just realized they were gone.|
|ZACH:||When you came --|
|NIKKI:||(simultaneous with "came") Yeah.|
|ZACH:||-- outside? Why dincha get 'em back?|
|NIKKI:||They kicked me out.|
|Were you --||Drinking.|
|NIKKI:||I didn't like that place.|
|ZACH:||Did they catch you?|
|NIKKI:||No, they said I was loud. (pause)|
|ZACH:||Who was he?|
|NIKKI:||He... -- there was no "he" I was just yelling or something, okay!|
|NIKKI:||Is it just that church that's like that?|
|Why do you --||Or all of them?|
|ZACH:||No. Well, I can't say. There are some places on the east side where they'll lock the door from the outside all night.|
|ZACH:||And some on the west where they give you soup.|
|NIKKI:||Well, that's cool, I guess.|
|ZACH:||(simultaneous with "cool") Only ten people at a time can sit though.|
|NIKKI:||Where do you stay?|
|ZACH:||Weather, friends, stuff.|
|NIKKI:||Can I stay with you?|
|ZACH:||Why don't you go home?|
|NIKKI:||My aunt hates me.|
|ZACH:||So I've heard.|
|NIKKI:||She's all mad because I sold that crummy old --|
|NIKKI:||It was in a box in the attic! All covered with dust! (pause)|
|ZACH:||How was the coke?|
|NIKKI:||Couldn't get it.|
|ZACH:||Where's the money?|
|NIKKI:||Stop asking me that. You know.|
|ZACH:||Go home. Face your aunt.|
|NIKKI:||You know I can't! Let me stay with you.|
|ZACH:||You have to face your aunt. Go home.|
|NIKKI:||Why do you hate me?|
(NIKKI runs off.
(Two days later. Fade in. ELAINE is standing outside the arcade, smoking.)
|ELAINE:||(hugging ZACH) Hello. How's it hanging?|
|ZACH:||I dunno -- should it be? (laughs)|
|ELAINE:||You haven't been here in a while.|
|ZACH:||Nope. Repairing a friend's guitar.|
|ELAINE:||Did you get paid?|
|ZACH:||Hell no. He's my friend.|
|ELAINE:||He's got a house.|
|ZACH:||And a guitar. So?|
|ELAINE:||You don't. You shouldn't pass up opportunities.|
|ZACH:||To what -- leech off him?|
|ELAINE:|| He can bear it, can't he? |
To let you sleep and eat in comfort for a few lousy nights?
|ZACH:||I don't recall mentioning being uncomfortable.|
|ELAINE:||But you must be. Where can you sleep safely? You know? How can you be sure of finding food? All that.|
|ZACH:||Elaine, those are your concerns. You have a job. You have to keep it, or else these concerns will become real. I'm not in that situation. I don't rely on a job for security. I rely on myself. (pause)|
|ELAINE:||I guess I just don't understand. (pause)|
|ZACH:||You care too much. Don't. (pause)|
|ELAINE:||But you're homeless.|
|ZACH:|| I'm not homeless. I'm houseless. And I choose it. |
You see, wherever I'm standing, is home.
|ELAINE:||Oh, Zach, you're so poetic.|
|ZACH:||But it's true.|
|ELAINE:|| I've always thought you should be an artist. |
All the things you do. (pause)
|ZACH:||What do I do?|
|ELAINE:|| Last week, when we met. You told me your life story.
I could help get you published.
|ZACH:||Publish that? Why? I'm not dead yet.|
|ELAINE:||(laughs) Course not. How else would you write it?|
|ZACH:||I'm doing fine. No thanks.|
|ELAINE:||I know! I know you're doing fine. You're so... so free.|
|ELAINE:||But it could be... easier for you.|
|ZACH:||I know that. (pause)|
|ELAINE:||I admire you. I really -- well. You know. I -- look at me.|
No, no, silly. Look at me. You're right. I work in an arcade. That's how
I survive, if you can call it that. (pause)|
I couldn't be like you.
|ZACH:||You don't have to. Be happy.|
|ELAINE:||You're not happy? (pause)|
|ZACH:||No, you're not me. (pause)|
|ELAINE:||Yeah. Listen, Zach, listen. I think we should take a road trip some day.|
|ELAINE:||What do you think? Like to New Mexico or somewhere?|
|ZACH:||Sure. Tell me when.|
|ELAINE:||Zach! Do you like the idea?|
|ZACH:||I guess. You know I don't have money.|
|ELAINE:||Well, I do.|
|ZACH:||Your loss. (pause)|
|ELAINE:||You don't sound very excited.|
|ZACH:||Elaine, no. Just I don't like to plan too far ahead.|
It's going to be really cold tonight. Sleep at my place.
|ZACH:||No, I can manage.|
|ELAINE:||I'm not kidding, your face and your hands are so red right now and it's not even nighttime yet.|
|ZACH:||I've been redder. Don't worry about me.|
|ZACH:|| I'm sure. (pause)|
Thanks anyway. (pause)
|ELAINE:||Just don't freeze, dammit.|
|NIKKI:||You were talking to her. What about?|
|ZACH:||Nothing much. How are you?|
|ZACH:||She's pretty warm.|
|NIKKI:||I'm fine. Whatever.|
|ZACH:||You haven't gone home.|
|NIKKI:|| Fuck home! You're not my mom. (pause)|
Neither is mine.
|ZACH:||You're sick. I can feel your fever from here.|
|NIKKI:||(simultaneous with "from") Yes I'm sick, alright? It's winter.|
|ZACH:||Where did you sleep?|
|NIKKI:||Under a car.|
|ZACH:||Good lord, Nikki, that's --|
|NIKKI:||Don't talk to me like that. I know it was stupid. I didn't mean to fall asleep, alright?|
|ZACH:||(laughing nervously) But why were you under --|
|NIKKI:||(simultaneous with "under") Aaaugh! Leave me alone! I knew perfectly well what I was doing --|
|ZACH:||(simultaneous with "doing") You coulda been run over!|
|NIKKI:||-- no, he saw me anyway.|
|ZACH:||This is insane.|
|NIKKI:||(simultaneous with "insane") I knew the guy, alright? I knew him. We dated before.|
|NIKKI:|| He wouldn't let me inside. (pause)|
His engine was warm.
|NIKKI:||I was gonna, the next morning, grab his legs when he got in the car.|
|NIKKI:||He's rich, Zach! He has fuckin' four empty bedrooms! Why didn't he just let me in?|
|ZACH:||He's not obligated, Nikki. It's his house.|
|NIKKI:||He's a swine, Zach!|
|ZACH:||It's his house. (pause)|
|NIKKI:|| So where the hell are you sleeping? |
God damn you're perfectly healthy! Share the wealth!
|ZACH:||Nikki. I couldn't tell you. You wouldn't understand.|
|NIKKI:||(simultaneous with "understand") You're bonking that whore Elaine!|
|ZACH:||No, I'm not.|
|NIKKI:||I knew it! Who the hell do I have to sleep with to --|
|ZACH:||You're wrong, Nikki.|
|NIKKI:||Don't lie to me, Zach! I've seen you two --|
|ZACH:||You're wrong, Nikki. (pause)|
|NIKKI:||Then let me sleep with you, Zach.|
|NIKKI:||How long have I known you, Zach?|
|NIKKI:||I can do anything for you.|
|ZACH:||Go home, Nikki.|
|NIKKI:||I'm going to die, Zach! I'm going to die if I can't sleep!|
|ZACH:||Go home, Nikki.|
|NIKKI:||What do I have to give you?|
|ZACH:||Nothing. Go home. Sleep.|
(NIKKI strikes ZACH's shoulder and exits.
(Later that day. Fade in.
ELAINE is outside the arcade, smoking.)
|NIKKI:||(approaching) Where's Zach?|
|ELAINE:||I don't know. (pause)|
|NIKKI:||Is he inside?|
|NIKKI:||Is he at your place?|
|ELAINE:||No! What's your deal? (pause)|
|NIKKI:||I know you know him.|
|ELAINE:||Right... but I don't know where he is.|
|NIKKI:||In case you've got anything in mind, you can't have him.|
|ELAINE:||Who are you?|
|NIKKI:||You know who I am.|
|ELAINE:||Right, I know you bother Zach --|
|NIKKI:||Keep away from him!|
|NIKKI:||Where is he?|
|ELAINE:||Last I saw him was two hours ago, alright? (pause)|
|NIKKI:||I'll just wait here until he comes out, huh?|
|ELAINE:||Please don't come inside unless you feed the machines.|
(ELAINE enters the arcade.
NIKKI sneezes and groans.)
|NIKKI:|| Come back out here! (pause)|
Come out here, you bitch!
|ELAINE:||(comes out) What?|
|NIKKI:||Give me Zach!|
|ELAINE:||Here's a tissue. You look horrible.|
|NIKKI:||He's not in there?|
|NIKKI:|| Oh. (pause)|
I'm still gonna wait for him.
|ELAINE:||Great, fine, super. Find him yourself.|
|NIKKI:|| I don't know where to look. (pause)|
He doesn't tell me these things. (pause)
|ELAINE:||He doesn't tell me either.|
|NIKKI:||Why should he? You don't know him!|
|ELAINE:||But he doesn't even tell you!|
|NIKKI:||Why? Why does he hold back? I'm gonna die from exposure!|
|ELAINE:||You really are sick, girl.|
|NIKKI:||I know. (pause)|
|ELAINE:||Where are you sleeping?|
|NIKKI:||A few nights I stayed in a church. But you know about them? They make you sleep. Curfew and lights out and no talking and all that. I can't stand it! They also let people steal your gloves. (pause) Last night I slept in a car. I showed them how much I needed their hospitality.|
|ELAINE:||Where do all the others of you sleep?|
|ELAINE:||You know, other homeless kids.|
|NIKKI:||I dunno. Don't talk to 'em.|
|ELAINE:||Ask them. I bet they wouldn't be totally rude.|
|NIKKI:||I need Zach. (pause)|
|ELAINE:||I don't think he can help.|
|NIKKI:||How do you know? Is he shacking up with you?|
|ELAINE:||No, I already said!|
|NIKKI:||Everyone is holding back! You all hate me!|
(NIKKI runs off.
ELAINE returns inside the arcade.
(Some time later the same day.
Fade in. ZACH and ELAINE are in the arcade,
sitting in the cashier's booth.)
|ELAINE:||We all hate her.|
|ZACH:||That's what she says.|
|ELAINE:||Sometimes I'm inclined to --|
|ZACH:|| (simultaneous with "to") You can't. |
She just wants us to agree with her. (pause)
Then she'll do it.
|ZACH:||Keep trying. (pause)|
|ELAINE:||But if we don't?|
|ZACH:||She keeps trying. (pause)|
|ELAINE:||What's she trying to achieve? (pause)|
|ZACH:||I think I know. But I can't help her.|
|ELAINE:||Why not? (pause)|
|ZACH:||Let me fill you in.|
|ELAINE:||Okay. Wait a second.|
(ELAINE serves a customer seeking change.)
(ZACH does not respond.)
|ZACH:||Oh, hi. Sorry, I'm having a little trouble with my concentration.|
|ZACH:||I'm on drugs.|
|ZACH:||I'm tripping right now.|
|ZACH:||I told you I did acid.|
|ELAINE:||But I can't believe you're doing it right in front of me!|
|ZACH:||Why does it matter?|
|ELAINE:||I don't know, it's just not safe.|
|ELAINE:||I can't handle it.|
|ZACH:||You're not doing the drugs.|
|ELAINE:||I know, I know. (pause)|
|ZACH:||About Nikki, though?|
|ELAINE:||Yeah, Nikki. Does she do drugs too?|
|ZACH:|| About Nikki, though, I think her problem is, she tries too
Without knowing what the situation she's in.
She doesn't ever step out of her own world and --
|ELAINE:||(simultaneous with "and") This is drug talk!|
|ELAINE:||I can't listen to drug talk.|
|ELAINE:||I'm just gonna think you're babbling.|
|ZACH:|| I choose my words, Elaine. (pause)|
How many times have you talked to me anyway? (pause)
|ZACH:||Wait, no what?|
|ELAINE:||Are you telling me --|
|ZACH:||Stop, no, wait!|
|ELAINE:||-- every time we've talked?|
|ZACH:||Of course not!|
|ZACH:||Elaine, it really doesn't matter, I --|
|ELAINE:|| It does matter, Zach. |
You don't know what you're doing to yourself.
You're frying your brain.
|ZACH:||No, Elaine, not at all. Forget I said anything.|
|ELAINE:||Ha! I can't forget it. Now I'm always going to wonder if I'm talking to a symptom, or the real you.|
|ZACH:||(laughing) The "real me" is a symptom!|
|ZACH:||Actually, it's true. All I am -- all any of us are, is --|
|ELAINE:||That's drug talk! No! Shut up! Get out of here, Zach.|
|ELAINE:||I can't handle this.|
|ZACH:||Forget about me -- I want to tell you about Nikki.|
|ELAINE:|| I can't, I'm sorry. You have to go. (pause)|
I guess I don't know you.
|ZACH:||(leaving the booth) No one can know anyone else. (pause) What matters is to know yourself.|
(A few days later. Fade in. ZACH is standing outside the arcade.)
|ZACH:||Inside, I guess.|
|NIKKI:||You haven't seen her.|
|ZACH:||"Drug talk." (pause)|
|NIKKI:||You were talking about drugs?|
|ZACH:||I talked while on drugs.|
|ZACH:||It sucks, really.|
|NIKKI:||You wanted to bonk her.|
|ZACH:||Bonking doesn't interest me, you know that.|
|NIKKI:||You're still strange.|
|ZACH:||Now I'm strange?|
|NIKKI:||Always and forever.|
|ZACH:||And you? You look rested. Have you found somewhere to sleep?|
|NIKKI:||Elaine put me up.|
|NIKKI:||Know that closet in the back of the arcade?|
|NIKKI:||I got a mattress and a quilt!|
|ZACH:||How can you sleep with all the noise?|
|NIKKI:|| Oh God, tell me about it! (pause)|
Just kidding! It's fine, really. They close at three A.M. and open at eight. I can sleep that whole time, at least!
|ZACH:||You are just one big ball of happy.|
|NIKKI:||I know! (pause)|
|NIKKI:||Yup. She didn't say anything about you.|
|NIKKI:||I figured you two weren't as close as I thought.|
|NIKKI:||Strange. She seemed infatuated earlier.|
|NIKKI:||Guess I did. (pause)|
|ZACH:||Are you ever going home again?|
|NIKKI:||I'll think about it.|
(ELAINE comes out of the arcade.)
|ELAINE:||Nikki, aren't you cold?|
|ELAINE:|| Come on, Nikki, you're freezing, all alone out here. |
(NIKKI and ELAINE go back inside.)
(Fade out. Curtain.)
Baudelaire's The Flowers of Evil was lying next to the bed, open to "The Evil Monk." The tiny garage apartment reeked of fruity wine and Gauloises. Tinny strains of industrial music crept out of an old jambox, and the ratty blue covers on the bed shifted slightly as the sleeper endured another night of nightmares. The sheet-rock walls were covered with graffiti: quotes of William Blake, Jim Jones and passages from Revelation. Ants on the card table feasted on Chinese takeout leftovers, crawling over noodles and drops of soy sauce.
The door to the apartment silently opened, and a slender figure stepped in. She took a seat at the table and waited, monotonously crushing ants with a pen.
"Lackluster. Simply lackluster."
"Look, I'm sorry that it didn't go as planned. We can try again."
"No. Just thinking about that makes me want to rip my insides out. You never could do anything right."
"It doesn't have to be like that. I'll call again, and this time they'll listen to me."
"Why? Why should they? I never should have gotten you involved when we started. Abraham had you pegged for a loser, but I gave you a chance anyway. Now I've got to pay for your mistake."
"There's still time to set things right. Forget what Abraham said. We can do this."
"You don't get it, do you? It's too late. You can't stop it, and neither can I."
"But there's always a chance."
"Not this time. Not for us."
The phone on Benny's desk rang as he was polishing his story for Conspiracy Today. He stopped typing, swiveled around in his chair, and yanked the phone out of its cradle.
"Hello?" he asked.
"Do you know who this is?" the voice on the other end inquired.
Benny straightened up. "Yeah. What do you got for me?"
"Not over the phone. We need to meet."
"It's that important?"
"Yes," the voice dryly said. "You know where the hostel is on 15th near the Tower?
"Yeah. I can be there in fifteen minutes. You do realize that meeting me in person is dangerous, don't you? I can't guarantee protection."
The caller sighed. "It doesn't matter."
The line went dead with a click, and Benny grabbed his jacket and raced out of the building.
Small boys weaved in and out of the ravers on the dance floor, serving nootropic drinks. Spinning lights cast multicolored beams down on the dancers below, and on the walls of the warehouse were projected movies of computer animation and sped-up nature footage. The DJ's on stage blasted the undulating crowd with hypnotic technotrance and jungle dub.
Amanda felt her skull pounding and swooned as a wave of nausea swept over her. She stumbled through the crowd, accidentally tripping one of the drink servers, who promptly cursed her in Cantonese and ran off. Finally finding the exit, Amanda stepped out into the brisk night air. The pulsating rhythm in her head didn't stop.
Julian looked across the table at Greg, who was sipping from his overpriced latté. The coffeehouse was unusally empty for this time of night, but Julian liked it that way since he could carry on a conversation without shouting.
"When do you think the world is going to end?" he asked.
"Huh?" Greg stated, confused. "The end of the world?"
"Sure. How soon is it?"
"I don't know. I'm not into that stuff. Give me some choices."
"Choices? Who do I look like? God?"
They both laughed.
While he slept, she arranged the small carcasses of the dead ants to spell "free." Every few moments she would brush away a strand of dyed jet black hair that kept falling down in front of her eyes. The girl sat back in her chair and watched the shape under the covers in its traumatic slumber. He had begun rolling around about an hour before, and sometimes it seemed like he had trouble breathing, but she made no attempt to wake him. She could smell his sweat.
The sleeper settled down after a while, and she drew in a sharp breath of relief. Taking a napkin, she glanced down at the ants, then at him, and wiped the ants off of the table.
Benny made it to the hostel a few minutes early and waited outside. A few of the overnight residents were standing around, finishing their cigarettes before going in to sleep. He noticed an elderly gentleman in a trenchcoat walking towards him and, figuring it was his informant, waved. A black sedan barrelled out of a side alley, tires screeching as it turned onto the street. The old man began to feeblely run, but he was cut down in a hail of automatic gunfire. The sedan sped off.
Benny, having thrown himself to the ground at the sound of gunshots, got up and hurried over to the prone body. His informant was definitely dead. A small piece of paper was still clutched in his right hand, and Benny took the bloodied paper and unfurled it. One word was written on it: Armageddon.
"Armageddon is your first choice," Julian offered.
Greg shrugged. "What's that?" he asked.
"You know, the second coming of Jesus, apocalypse, tribulation, rapture, the kingdom of God. All that jazz. Didn't you learn anything in Sunday school?"
"My parents are atheists. I never went to church."
"Oh. Well, basically, the armies of God and the devil battle it out after a series of plagues and catastrophes, and then Jesus comes and establishes Heaven on Earth."
"And what about those of us that don't believe in God?"
"I'm not sure," Julian said, grinning, "but you probably die gruesome deaths."
Greg pushed his empty coffee cup to the side of the table.
"I don't care too much for that option," he replied. "Next."
"We can't just sit around here and wait. We've got to do something."
"And what exactly would that be? You gonna march up to the big man himself and tell him to stop?"
"The thought had crossed my mind."
"And why would he listen to you?"
"Like I said, I'll make him listen."
"Don't make me laugh. He'd down you on the spot. Or have you forgotten that you're the reason that Abrtaham is dead?"
"It was his fault, not mine. He wouldn't do his job."
"Yeah, and you were supposed to make sure that he did. You're pathetic."
A gutteral, banshee wail rose out of Amanda's throat as the pain in her head continued to grow. She tugged at her dyed jet black hair and bit her lips, trying to suppress her screams. A small trickle of blood dribbled down her chin. The people milling about outside the clubs gave her a wide berth as she haphazardly navigated the sidewalk, praying for sanctuary, her head throbbing with each internal beat. Fumbling her way into an alley, she collapsed against a wall, slid down to the ground, and put her head between her knees as she violently rocked back and forth.
"So you don't know who the deceased was?" the officer asked.
A flash from a photographer's camera momentarily blinded Benny.
"No, I don't," he finally replied. "He was just one of my sources, and his information was always reliable. I always assumed he was deep in the bowels of government. Probably CIA, for all I know. He knew about everything."
"Then if he's so mysterious, how did you find him?"
The coroners put the old man into a body bag.
"I didn't find him," Benny said. "He found me."
The officer scribbled in his notepad. "Any ideas on that scrap of paper he was carrying? Know what it means?"
"No. But if his track record is still holding, I bet it means something really bad."
"I can't believe you. Just because he's dead doesn't mean the operation is off."
"That's the whole problem. It is still going to happen. We were trying to stop it."
"And we still can. You can't give up now."
"Nothing can be done without Abraham. He was the key."
"Then why did you put him in my hands if he was so important?"
"Because I was stupid, and now we're going to die."
"You're forgetting one thing."
"The girls. We still have them."
"The twins are useless without Abraham, and we don't know where they are. Possibly dead, just like him."
"But what if they're not?"
"Then they soon will be dead. Abraham was administering their serum, and without that, it's hopeless."
Her body convulsed in spasms as the pulsations overtook her whole body. Amanda screamed as she watched her skin grow and contract, as if someone was pumping her full of air and then sucking it out again. Her jeans began to rip, and she felt her eardrums burst. The skin on her arms and legs began to rip, and her body thrashed itself on the pavement, covering her with dirt and grime. Amanda finally passed out, and a harsh wind blew her frail body against a dumpster.
She opened her mouth, letting the strap fall out. She loosened the belt from her arm and flexed, looking at the track marks on the inside of her forearm from mainlining the serum. The empty syringe -- her last -- went into the trash can by the table, and she rolled down her sleeve.
He was still sleeping, and she stood up and went over to the bed. His teeth were clenched, and she watched his eyes move rapidly back and forth under his eyelids. Bending down, she kissed him on the forehead and turned away. A tear rolled down her cheek as she deftly folded the napkin into the desired shape and placed it on the card table. Without looking back, she left.
"Okay, how about this?" Julian started. "Behind door number two, we have Terence McKenna's Timewave Zero theory."
"Explain away, O guru," Greg exclaimed.
"McKenna postulates that time is a measurable wave. Using the Wu King hexagram sequence of the I Ching, which also turns out to be a far more accurate calendar than our own, he devised a mathematical equation which produced the timewave. This timewave plots points of novelty, or significant events, on a graph in relation to time. As time goes on, novelty increases until December 22, 2012, when time and novelty meet on the graph at point zero. That's where he took the name from."
Greg gave Julian a flippant look. "I could have figured that out. What happens then?"
"Who knows? McKenna doesn't. Maybe the earth is destroyed or we enter a new realm of consciousness. Coincidentally, or synchronistically if you want to be Jungian about it, the Timewave Zero date is also the date that the Mayan calendar's 5125-year cycle runs out. McKenna didn't know about that until after he devised his formula."
"Too pseudoscientific," Greg concluded.
"Well, that's my personal favorite, but I wouldn't put any bets on it myself."
"What else do I have to choose from?"
"Maybe he'll call it off."
"For what reason? He's been planning this forever, and he's not going to stop."
"Doesn't he understand that this will be it? No more life? No more Earth? No more us?"
"He will still be around. Count on it."
"That's not possible."
"He wouldn't do it otherwise. It's an usurpation of power, plain and simple."
"What good is power when there's no one to rule?"
"Look. I'm tired of this, and I'm tired of you. You should go, because I don't want to spend my last few minutes with you."
"Answer my question."
"There is no answer, okay? We don't understand because we can't understand."
"Then what's the point of trying to stop it if we don't know why?"
"Now you're getting it. It was doomed to fail from the beginning."
"Well, I'm going to try."
"He'll kill you."
"And if I do nothing, I'm dead anyway."
"Wish me luck?"
"If you still believe in luck, you're dumber than I thought.
Benny walked down the steps from the police station, having finished giving his formal statement. He was exhausted from the ordeal and just wanted to go home and crash. He rubbed at a bloody stain on his shirt and walked to his car. He looked up as he unlocked the door, noticed that he couldn't see the moon, and hoped that he could make it home before the storm came.
"What's left is a hodgepodge of theories," Julian explained. "You've got Nostradamus' 1999 prediction, way too many year 2000 scenarios, and various other predictions that aren't even worth mulling over."
"What if this end of the world thing is metaphorical?" Greg asked, setting down his freshly filled cup of coffee.
"Sure, that has proponents as well. The new ager's say we're in the Age of Aquarius, and you could even choose Crowley's Aeon of Horus with the Law of Thelema in full swing."
"Those are my choices?"
"Those are your choices."
"What if I choose none of them?"
"Then how do you think the world is going to end?"
"I don't. The sun always rises in the morning, Julian."
Amanda came to, but she couldn't feel anything. It was still dark. She sat up after a few minutes, using the dumpster for support. She looked down at herself and grimaced, seeing her shredded clothes and the blood on her body. Slowly, she pulled herself up and heard her ankles snap when she put her weight on her feet. She crawled out of the alley, feeling no pain.
The street was packed with people, some yelling, others crying, and most just staring up at the sky.
"It's three in the afternoon," someone said. "Where's the sun?"
"Maybe it's an eclipse," somebody else said.
Amanda looked up into the black sky. She knew.
"My God," she whispered through cracked lips. "There are no more stars."
He awoke and sat up, rubbing his eyes. He saw the oragami scorpion on the table and knew that Anna had been there. Getting out of bed, he picked up the paper scorpion and crumpled it. She was gone for good now. He took a spoon out of the box of Chinese food, wiped it on his shirt, and held it under his nose. He breathed out. There was no condensation. Smiling, he dropped the spoon and crawled back into bed.
He did not dream.
--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) 1997 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) 1997 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: 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>. The SoB distribution list may also be joined by sending email to Kilgore Trout. --SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB--