There is a brick wall in front of me. The smell of hour-old taco arrabe fill the air, next to a blue back of kettle brand sea salt & vinegar chips. I am continuously shushed by a Somalian girl reclined on our twenty piece couch – which neatly unfolds into a stack of cushions and disjointed couch parts under the weight of the slenderest bottom.
I am reproached by an all-seeing eye – plastered on the steel green “Sucking Lemon” can – the poor man’s 4Lokos which sold 2 for $5. In the right context, nothing more than a fast pass to skip the line of your local hospital. I asked not a moment ago how many words are in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four. A quick calculation produces approximately 100,000 words. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I love non-sequiturs.
The series of events which brought me to this couch is long. Approximately 24 years, going on 25 in a few weeks. A match-making between organic human history and the business acumen of Bob’s Discount furniture store. The off-putting hemp cushion flexes ever slightly under the force of every keystroke. And what is the probability of that? Infinitely smaller than most other things. A simple arithmetic produces a result near zero – that which begins at the improbableness of the propagation of every single one of my ancestors and which ends at the odd resurrection of NanoWritMo at the 11:59th hour.
Let’s weave some fiction into it. A little spicy zinger to liven up the wim wam and other stereotypically Asian sounds. Let’s drop a few hits of acid into the cauldron of trivial stuff. If you haven’t guessed already this is the point where I briefly rechecked the rules. Yes, has to be a fictional work and so.
Fanny Fish walks into a subway cart with her birch tree branch. She ignores the incredulous stares around her. Mostly because they didn’t happen. No one seems to notice anyone else at 1:08AM on the 4 Train going downtown to New Lots – specifically when it nears the stop at Canal Street since the 4 Train runs local. No she’s not stalling for extra words.
Fanny Fish carefully places her birch tree branch on the hand holder thingy which is metal and filled with germs. She’s sure thousands of gross people touched those things every day especially the really awkward ones who tend to fall over easily or get too embarrassed to sit down if it involves their shoulders touching anyone else’s shoulders.
Anyways, her tree branch sways gently as it hangs above the bars. She spins around a few times for good measure and gently slides her heavy black bag under the bench at the far corner. She flexes her toes through her sandals. The feeling of constriction is pleasant on her weather feet, kept warm by only a thin worn brown pair of socks. She knew she could pass as Occupy Wall Street in this part of town if not for her peculiar scent of dead fish.
In the corner of her eye, she sees a passenger leave the cart only to make a quick turn and re-enter another cart. Oh well, more room for her she thought. If only he had known her story, but she can never tell. Who would believe her? Not even herself.
Stan A takes his bag of tacos and slides into an adjacent subway cart. Man that woman smelled he thought, and then he instantly felt bad. And then not quite that bad anymore because he has a severe case of ADHD and a new thought came to him. Stan figured out what he would be doing for the next three to four days. When the subway came to a stop he grabbed his tacos and quickly left the train.
Right before he exited the station he noticed two teens approach him from behind. For an unknown reason he felt a sense of alarm and quickly darted through the gate. When he checked his bag he noticed the zipper was half open. A corner of his laptop stuck out from the side. The light hitting the silver casing cascaded a faint light across the tiled walls.
I think that was a close call. Or I’m really racist he thought.
Person-D and Person-C got off the train, exhausted. They had been working into the night on their school project and felt like they deserved a break. Person-D walked a little bit ahead, eager to step home. Suddenly he noticed a man in front of him with his bag hanging open. A silver laptop was hanging almost completely out of his bag.
Person-D tapped his friend’s shoulders and motioned over. Person-C quickly walked up to the man and zipped his bag up halfway. Suddenly the man turned around and gave him a dirty look. Person-C pulled Person-D aside and quickly exited. No good deeds goes unpunished. They were too tired to care.
Person-D walked with his friend to the end of Battery Park and waved goodbye. They were in for another long day at school the next day with double practice sessions. Why can’t he just get into college already? Things can only get better. High school was a real pain in the ass.
Lost in thought, Person-D trips over something and quickly regained his balance. It was rolled up bed covering, too small to have anyone inside. He sighed, relieved that he avoided a potentially awkward encounter and headed straight home. He headed up the steps and froze. The door to his apartment was wide open. His parents were gone.
Fucking kids. He was always treated like this everywhere he goes. The man who is absurdly thin who once the circus days were over just became a human origami that’s kicked around and ignored in every alleyway and no matter which way he lies. Despite the signs that makes it obvious that he is still there even though it looks like he’s not. It does not help that he tends to sleep a little bit more out in the open than he should or that his complexion sometimes blend in with the pavement.
In the 1960s he was just known as the guy who is the thinnest and smallest guy in class. One of the oddities that Mt. Vernon High School ever produced. He won nothing in the yearbook votes, but if there was a category that suited him he would won hands down.
Unfortunately this never actually happened. The bed spread was just empty. Only a common homeless man inhabited this particular spot in New York. Not to say this man doesn’t exist somewhere else but in this situation there was no one. The bedspread in fact, did not communicate.
Dog is a dog. Or at least he thinks his name is Dog. Actually it’s unclear what Dog the dog is really thinking at all, but he has an owner and he’s pretty hungry. The pizza place which used to always feed him scraps is closed on Sundays but it wasn’t always like this.
The weird thing is that Dog didn’t used to be a dog. Dog used to be much much more. This is a story that goes way back, centuries maybe. Which for a dog is something like 19 years, who knows. If the person writing the thoughts for Dog actually did some research they would figure this out but hopefully it’s not crucial to the narrative.
Roughly a dog century ago there was a notorious pirate who set up a blockade around Manhattan. The exact details of this incident was struck from every single textbook in the entire world. This was possible because there was no internet and pirate attacks was as taboo as reenacting Goatse at a kid’s bar mitzvah. This pirate was the son of another pirate who had an even longer beard. This doesn’t really matter to the story but it is a noteworthy fact for visualization purposes and/or imagery. I’m sure if this story was read in a middle school English class some kid can write an entire essay on how the length of the beard symbolizes man’s inhumanity towards man and also suggests that the story was written during Movember. Lucky coincidence jackass.
The pirate blockade was so successful that the only way for cargo to come through to Manhattan was through hot air balloons. This time period was known as the Era of the Sky Floaters – not to be confused with eye floaters. Incidentally it was also the origin of the stork – delivering babies myth.
One of the most patriotic yet incompetent of the ballooners was Person-E, who was actually a man. This is because history is gender neutral and incompetence is equal opportunity. And because people had weird names a dog century ago. If anyone actually calculates how many years a dog century is then they are a really really big nerd. Seriously I know how easy it is, just don’t do it.
Anyways, Person-E, being the most patriotic – commanded a balloon that was red white and blue. This was in fact not an issue at all. What became a much bigger issue was his insistence on adhesing fifty metal stars on the outside of the balloon. This will turn into an important plot device in exactly 14 chapters from now.
Let’s do a time warp back into the present because no one will actually read up to this point and basically anything goes at this point.
Yes I had to scroll up because I forgot the names of my main characters. If you think that’s bad, wait until I get into the 24 oz can of Sucking Lemons.
Fanny Fish (Fish) exits the station at New Lots. The description here is hazy since she hasn’t actually been to New Lots before. All she can make out is the generic fixtures of a subway station. The faint smell of urine, garbage on the tracks, large rats skittering across the platform, and people passed out everywhere like this was the best senior prom afterparty ever – or any senior prom afterparty ever. There’s also always this one guy in a suit who looks totally out of place but acts like everything’s totally cool even though there are like four hobos passed out around him and he’s literally sitting in dried vomit. Hats off to those guys, they sure know where the expensive drugs are sold in NYC.
Fanny Fish feels herself fragmenting under the weight of time. Her identity splits in every direction, converging only during her nightmares which grows more and more vivid each night – until the level of clarity is so high it’s like comparing a HD camcorder to a flip phone video. She both longs and fears the path. The surreality of her origins – the adventure, the creeping horrors, the amazing sex she used to have. It was the fragment of her humanity which clings for survival in spite of a world that treats her like garbage – like garbage next to a fish market. She has grown stoic to the inhumanity, her resolve as thick and busy as a pirate’s beard. Yes busy, that was not even a typo.
Get on with him, Fanny Fish reprimands herself. Enough scattered thoughts and time to return to the past she knows too well with the only one she ever loved and the view which took her breath away like Honey Boo Boo should be taken into protective child custody.
Person-D screams. Yeah right. That stuff was for the movies. When he tries to make a sound the rational side of his brain smacks himself across the cerebellum. It’s time to stay calm and investigate. He slowly creeps into the house, his heart beating way faster than his resting heartrate, probably like 2x faster. He slinks into the kitchen – his back against the refrigerator – trying not to make a sound.
SURPRISE! He hears. The light flicks on, confetti flies into the air. Wait a minute, he says. Who are you people? But it was too late. A fourteen inch sword slides quickly into his chest. Person-D tries to scream but now it was too late. He was already dead.
Is it over? asks Person-C. I can’t believe it’s over. His hands were trembling. This was not the way he thought things would go. It was as if some deranged god orchestrated this result to their friendship – having so little evidence to go upon and never having developed either of their personalities fully. A solitary tear rolls out of his eyes like he was a Native American witnessing a wild pinecone being grinded into potpourri.
Person-C lays down in bed. He didn’t think they would ever finish this project which took him and Person-D weeks to complete. Their friendship had produced so much goodness and productivity that it was shocking. He couldn’t even believe that it all started a dog century ago.
Person-D wakes up. But he was no longer Person-D. He was a ghost. Let’s call him Ghost Person-D. Ghost Person-D floats from the painful containers of his organic being and into the air – spinning freely in his room and looking down at the strangers who had expelled him so violently from the physical world. Time to haunt the motherfuckers he said.
Ghost Person-D grabs the legs of a chair and tries to pick it up. His hands went straight through the chair but he could feel a slight vibration. He was pure energy – what happens if…
Ghost Person-D flips back up into the air and drives straight into the body of his assailant. The light fades. The memory of himself fades into dark. A familiar sensation revisits his body.
Stan A misses writing, the feel of his hands striking the keyboard. The familiar ache behind his eyes when his screen has thoroughly dried out his eye sockets. The tacos lay dormant on a table. His appetite is gone. There is only one single purpose for him. The all consuming drive to put more black digital markings on a white digital graphic. The eternal idea of putting ideas down and regretting them later – the hipster version of taking a bad Facebook photo. The now settling realization that in a few days when he revisits his work he’s going to face palm so hard but for now.
All he can do is push forward. Stan read a few weeks ago from a popular article on the interwebs that one of the best ways to avoid procrastination is to begin doing something. If you tell yourself I’ll just write the first paragraph and if I don’t like it then I’ll stop eventually your momentum will cause you to complete the entire assignment.
Or did he imagine this. It is hard to tell. Perchance he should ask the bats flying over his head or the muttering mothlings perched on his terrycloth robe. Perhaps he should ask the dried up flower that his roommate Kate has surely neglected for the past few days.
Surely this is all fiction. But what is so different between reality and that which is constructed if everything is an artifice – the only differentiation is how easy one is to visualize and how deliciously absurdly out of access your own private reality is to the prying eyes. He thinks this thought and stops writing. His fingers hitting the last keys forever.
Ghost Person-D feels that which he has never felt before yet more familiar than what was just a moment ago – an existence which is new but confined – a freedom he shares with another. A metaphysical metamorphic experience which defies what he believed was possible. He was literally possessing someone. Sweet!
The masked figure turned around and his friend gives him a weird look. What the fuck? He asked. His friend points towards his shoulder and sighs. He says, there is a ghost child head sticking out of your collar. The masked figure tries to look but his neck is not that limber. Perhaps he has meningitis, but I believe he has all his shots so it’s probably ruled out. More likely it is that one’s neck doesn’t normally have the range of motion of an owl. It is tragic. But also a bit of a hoot as they say.
Masked man goes to lunch the next day on a date with a woman he met last week at a bar. Everyone stares at the ghost child head on his collar but he has already forgotten. What he feels is a sense of unease, a certain level of sensitivity that has broken through the fortress of his mind. He understands on a rational level what is happening but he is surprised. He doesn’t feel any anger. Only pity. The sadness creates a strange gravitational pull. The other customers find themselves falling into him. The masked man is awkward. He decides to post this story on Reddit to get some karma.
Person-C is at school. He is more nervous than usual. Something is a little bit off. He realizes too late. He has worn his shirt inside out!
Oh shit here comes the girl he has a crush on. She walks past him without a second glance. It is bittersweet since his shirt is inside out and he hasn’t figured out anything clever to say about it yet. An obnoxious kid walks by him and points out that his shirt is inside out. Person-C answers in an extremely obvious way and is humiliated. This is the reality of his life. If only he could escape somehow.
Person-C escapes, through a tunnel. The guards uncover the terrycloth robe that covers the escape hatch. It was too late suckers.
Bitch I got stripper money! Says Allison. I got that fucking song stuck in my head all night long – as she struggles to unbutton her jacket. An omniscient voice shushes her from across the room. She was being loud and disruptive and in this house that would not be allowed. The Somalian wakes up to exchange a few words before quickly falling back into slumber.
We are waiting for four more, says no one. Four more before this ordeal ends.
Dog was a dog or some kind of thing that is a dog now that used to be not a dog. What evolved into a dog? What is evolution? These are what are widely regarded in writing as rhetorical questions. Dog the sort of dog had a long and illustrious past. If everything goes right his past should be the longest chapter that this novel has ever seen thus far.
As mentioned a dog century ago Dog was something a lot more than a dog. What can be more than a dog you may ask? Once again that is a rhetorical question. But I’ll attempt to answer it anyways. Maybe a dog with a dollar bill taped to his tail is more than a dog. It would be precisely a dog + $1. This is assuming a dog has monetary value instead of some crazy friendship spiritual value. If the latter is true, maybe Dog was a dog that never vomited and eaten his own vomit.
For the sake of argument let’s say Dog from way back was a flying giraffe. This makes sense because it’s a fictional novel and basically fuck you. The great thing about a flying giraffe is that evolutionarily it kind of doesn’t make sense because a giraffe has long necks to reach really tall plant foods, so it kind of negates any reason for it to have to fly. But let’s re-imagine the earth as being such where a flying giraffe would actually evolve. How would this happen you may ask?
A long time ago, the earth was configured in a way where there these flying holes in the walls. Inside these holes in the walls (not speakeasy bars) there were a lot of stuff that theoretically would be awesome to eat. Unfortunately these things flew around a lot and even when you caught up to one you would have to be able to stick your head so far in that you could get the cool stuff that was in the hole.
Therefore animals back then looked a lot different than they do now. Even so it may seem like birds or smaller insects would have an advantage over flying giraffes. If you didn’t get the gist yet you should probably just skip to the next chapter.
But let’s really have a real conversation about the theoretical merits of a flying giraffe. Let’s really really dig into it like dig harder than a realistic CJ from San Andreas has to dig to hide all the bodies from the police. Let’s try harder and paint a better more beautiful world which allows for rare happenings to occur and strange things to tickle fancies and confuse old people’s Puritan beliefs about right and wrong.
Let’s imagine a world that’s sort of like a mix between Chronicles of Narnia and The Never Ending Story – where everything is fuzzy and winks at you in a weird way if you happen to be children. Really visualize this world and everything you hold dear in it. Make sure you remember how great the ginger ale rivers are and the fields of airplane neck pillow and how when one earphone loses sound another earphone would grow from its shell – with even better marketing push behind it and flashier ads. Remember this world well because it’s really going to matter in Chapter 24.
I am not even going to mention this again or setup a context so if you don’t read or remember this part you’re going to get really lost. You being lost now is like when you get out of a subway and you don’t know which direction to walk is uptown. I’m talking about lost in Brooklyn where there are redundant streets and a really deceptive grid system.
Getting lost in Brooklyn is the worst.
Person-C scales over the barbed wire fence. Making it look easy. Why not, it took only seven words for him to do it. The prison guards do everything they can like in every prison escape movie – trying to hit him with the spotlights, the bloodhounds, the running and yelling while chasing him through the woods. Nothing works. Person-C’s 10 years spent in jail allowed him to plan the perfect escape and which also allowed him to transform his awkward pudgy high school self into a slightly more fit 10 years older version of himself which can run decently quick.
They never found Person-D’s killer but they found some circumstantial evidence linking Person-C to the murder. Did I forget to mention that part? Oh oops.
Person-C runs until he can’t run anymore. He pretty much does an ironman right here. He runs for a bunch of miles then swims in this river and then steals a bicycle and rides it for a bit not in that order. No matter what you say about Person-C you got to respect the fact that he did an Ironman sort of. It’s one of those things where you can absolutely hate a guy and everything he stands for but it’s always a bit redeeming to see that they can travel great distances without using a vehicle.
Anyways, he finally comes upon a trailer in the woods. In a part of the neighborhood that seems so familiar. Oh wait, could it be? Did he run back into Battery Park? What amazing luck. There is a trailer park there that has been abandoned for years. He knocks on the door. No one answers. There is a note with a badly scrawled warning stuck to the side of the trailer. It reminds him of a popular indies game people used to play a decade ago. He shrugs, ignoring the potentially horrifying implications and walks into the trailer. The faint sound of bongo drums reverberates through the trees.
The chase was on once again.
What are you doing here?
Person-C blinks, his eyes adjusting to the faint candlelight in the trailer. There are two people there both playing Gin Rummy and heating dried noodles with tea candles. One looks like a rugged Canadian man and the other, a frail Asian guy who looks like the man he accosted ten years ago with the half zipped backpack.
Person-C looks around for something to use as a weapon. Finding nothing, he slowly backs up against the wall of the trailer. His eyes transfixed on the flames of the candle, unable to think of anything clever to say about the situation.
This really takes him back to that day when he was in school. Or is he again. He looks around. The trailer has vanished. He was back in school in front of the girl he had a crush on. He gulps. She walks past him.
Person-C lets out a sigh of relief. She hadn’t noticed that his shirt was inside out. He knew exactly what to do. Person-C walked out of the school and went straight home. He was going to post this story on Reddit and try to get some karma.
Fanny Fish looks around the trailer. The ghosts of her past haunts her and she is unable to move. Her mind is frozen in time but her body aches. It is so fucking cold my fucking spine hurts she thought. But her mind was divided. Half of her soul was reliving the reality of what transpired only a few dog decades ago. Of her illustrious life which to this still inexplicably led to her association with a cloud of noxious fish gas.
It is as if she was cursed by someone to not remember, or haunted by a forlorn spirit which has steered her astray. But she relented. She let herself get this far. There was no going back. The only solace is her mind. That day. The day with the balloons – the day she is still trying get to – so close only three chapters away. She hopes that by that time she’ll remember more of what transpired and not meander into another afterthought. Another trivial aside about fictional taxonomy which results in a pointless discussion. Another reference linking disparate ideas and thoughts which don’t advance the plot.
Could this be it? Her chance to find out why she is or why she continues to be. For now she waits – along in the cold confines of her metal prison. It is one which is inescapable – just like how fish can’t escape the hypothetical barrel that’s being used as target practice. It is “easy” but not for the Fish.
Existence fluctuates between darkness and light. When he opens his eyes all he can see is a cobweb of light blanketing the pulsating glow of every surface. When he closes his eyes, his mind navigates through infinite fractals, breaking and rebreaking. Ghost Person-D was beginning to forget.
His grasp on the past was receding and all he can feel is the present. The sorrow. The inexplicable shame. The tinge of regret – was it there or did he imagine it. What does imagine even mean? He can no longer pull it together. His thoughts shatter into a million pieces. Who am I? What am I? What is the idea of I?
Person-D wakes up. He looks around the room like he was dead for 20 years. His friend Person-C takes the glass piece away from him. Dude, you were really out of it, what happened?
There was so much Person-D wanted to say, of how he was in his mind and in Person-C’s mind and saw the future and the past and been in and out every place, nook and cranny, imaginary worlds and real worlds. Of how he lost his ego and how his soul broke into a million pieces and he was trying to pick it up like someone picks up broken glass with a piece of white bread – destroying the essence of the bread and the glass. Recombining in a way that ruined both – of an awkward half-existence which lacked intellectuality and spirituality. In a sense, he felt death and it was both awful and tremendous.
Person-D looks at the time on the wall. Shit, we should really get started on that project Person-C we’re not going to finish. But it was too late. Person-C had already faded into nothingness. His laugh punctuated by a short gasp and a blank stare. Damn this was powerful stuff. Why is this thing legal anyways? Person-D watches patiently, still half in a daze.
A thin line of spit drips from the corner of Person-C’s mouth. This was going to be a long night.
Dog the sort of dog wanders on, desperate to remember where he came from. What he was. The absurdity of dog thoughts made everything impossible. This reminded him of an experience he once had – when he was something else. When he was part of something bigger. If only he could focus, but everything was distracting – a million scents and sounds and an endless flow of inexplicable joy despite all.
This was the reality and it was good. Why was he trying to chase his past like a cat on Youtube chasing laser pointers? Every time he feels he has a grasp on it, it emerges above his control. Floating slightly over his understanding. He barks a few times at his butt, walks around and slowly fades into sleep.
The shadows of balloons clouds his mind. Something really fucked up is about to happen.
If you looked up in the sky on October 2, 19xx you would see a strange sight. Well strange is relative. Not internet strange – let’s just call it peculiar. A fleet of brightly colored balloons floating slowly through the air across the river from New Jersey. Today was an important day in the Era of Sky Floaters, almost a holiday if any of it were acknowledged by history books. This would be the day when the Sky Children and the Water Orphans collided. Not in a figurative sense, but literally.
Person-E touches his mustache for reassurance. Today was too calm. (Something inexplicably fucked up was about to happen which will confuse this story. ) Too calm, he thinks.
His shipment of fish going to lower Manhattan was going to be right on time. He smiles to himself. No one appreciates punctuality anymore. His smile turns into a frowny face.
Unknown to Person-E, one of the stars on his balloon was starting to get hotter than a seatbelt buckle during a summer day. The plastic around the was melting and the faintest trickle of air was beginning to leave his pride. Of course he doesn’t hear this sound. It is as if the balloon is gently exhaling – the last gasp of breath before the deep dive into the abyss.
Out of nowhere, a shot rings out. The bullet goes straight through the barrel-like basket of his balloon. Fish guts splatter on his lower leg. A second shot goes straight through his balloon. The slow air escaping turns into a much quicker incidence of hot air escaping the balloon. Person-E was quickly losing altitude – heading straight for the edge of the pirate-controlled shore. Person-E reaches for his blade. He was not going to give up without a fight.
He starts loading the fish cargo into a black bag. The basket crashes into the ground. He tumbles out and immediately runs for it. The woods are overrun by weeds and awkward branch placements. He runs, dragging his heavy bag behind him with one arm. His other arm shielding his face from the shrubbery. SNAP. He stumbles into a clearing. The lusty voices of pirates ring out through the woods. They had spotted him. The chase was on once again.
Person-E searches for a place to hide. He sees a silver trailer out in the distance, the only place he has to barricade himself. He runs towards the trailer as shots whizz by him. He starts running in zig zag like he has seen people do in video games. To whatever effect, one bullet grazes his arm. He winces. This was not looking good. He jumps into the bushes and waits for his pursuers to run past him. Luckily, his pursuers do not notice his boots sticking out from under the shrubbery and continue forward.
Person-E manages to poke his head out slightly above the bushes to see his pursuers scatter and split up. They had lost him but they were trying their hardest to find him and presumably to shoot him dead. He was still vulnerable, it was a matter a time before they figured out his hiding spot. Doing an army crawl, Person-E crawls towards the trailer, pausing once every twenty feet to make sure his pursuers were still off in the distance and for him to catch his breath for he’s not quite as young as he used to be. Finally he arrives at the front of the trailer, which features two rickety steps leading up to a flimsy looking front door.
The front of the trailer looks dilapidated. It’s unlikely anyone was living there at the moment. The door seemed locked, but the hinges on the door looks like they’re rusted through. Even through the door, Person-E notices the strong stench of garbage coming through from the inside. On top of it all it was pitch black. Just his luck. Disgusted, Person-E kicks the door in and which falls straight over onto the floor. Slowly, he walks inside, careful to avoid the knives and silverwares strewn across the trailer floor. He kicked one spoon and it rang against the side of the cupboard. Maybe he was losing his mind but he could have sworn he heard someone knock from the inside of the cupboard.
Person-E walks towards the cupboard with one hand stretched out and other hand on the hilt of his sword. If there was someone hiding in there they had better not do anything stupid. He stops short. Someone else was approaching the trailer. Person-E quickly swings back towards the stove and kneels near the pile of garbage, trying to stay as still as possible.
His breath shallow and quick. His hand trembles over the hilt of his sword. His knees sore from his sprint. His other hand clutching the black bag. He knew the end was upon him. He prayed for a miracle.
A shadowy figure walks through the door. Person-E jumps up – bits of garbage exploded in every direction - and plunges his sword into the shadowy figure’s chest.
The figure falls over. Person-E pulls his sword out making a very interesting suction sound. He then turns on the lights.
To his surprise and horror, he had killed an old woman wearing a ratty flower hat. Even in death her hands are tightly gripped on a black duffle bag and a tree branch. She was obviously dead. Her eyes were glassy and she started straight forward – coincidentally making eye contact with her murderer. In shock, Person-E lets go of his sword and falls backwards onto a chair – which neatly disassembles into a pile of sticks and hinges. The walls come apart. The floor vanishes and a dark pit opens underneath.
Everyone wakes up at the same time with a jolt.
There is a moment right after you wake up when you remember almost everything about the dream. It is the only time when the vividness of your feelings wash over you and you for a brief moment are completely in between words – confused as to what exactly is reality and what is just another delusion. Do I really have a paper due tomorrow? Oh wait I haven’t been in school for two years.
Next comes the relief and then sometimes disappointment – man that was a good dream, or man I could have do so much cooler stuff in my dreams that doing homework. Am I seriously the only one who still dreams about doing homework?
Take that moment of limbo, when you are only in between and realize that is all that really matters. Your life as a transition between one “non-existence” to the next, or if you’re an optimist, one form of existence to another. We are continuously in between and aspects of ourselves are continuously dying and being reborn. Every few years almost every cell in your former body have died. What pulls your identity through death and the abyss when every aspect of yourself have changed or have the ability to change over time?
Five people wake up at the same time. An alarm buzzer alerts them of a forsaken roommate. God damn why doesn’t someone make her another set of keys already? Before the thought completes the protagonists drift back into sleep. Reality morphs. The plot thickens. Push the pause button for at least five hours. We are going to space next.
There is no denying the linkage between the worlds. Three or four intersecting realms where imagination borrows from delusion and gives back to reality or vice versa. To trace the beginning of everything back to the source is not an exercise of the eyes but of the mind. In paring away every thought and feeling until you reach the primordial feeling of being. Nor is it particularly difficult to imagine that beneath the surface of everything lies an alternate causality. A true non-linear reality which “explains” in a way that is impossible to translate into language except through metaphor.
To the extraterrestrial which looks at the nature of a frat party keg stand or a spontaneous elevator party. That which seems random is not so random with context. And like an ant living in a giant hermetically sealed ball still has a level of autonomy, fate will inevitably bind its decisions. All points eventually converge. Destiny happens. Two antelopes jump over a slumbering lioness. One of them turns to the other and says, what the fuck are we doing?
There is a monster living in the cupboard of the kitchen. He was there during the entire plotline. However he didn’t have much of a perspective because the cupboard is dark and he was pretty much sleeping through the whole thing. Who’s cupboard you may ask? Perhaps it’s yours. Or probably not – your cupboard is a bit unkempt I don’t really see anything living there. Sorry to break the bad news.
I think it’s fair to attribute some of the happenings to the monster in the cupboard. Let’s make a simple list so no one gets confused.
1. The monster caused the demise of Person-D’s parents
2. The monster manifested the nameless pirates with his thoughts
3. The monster pokes holes in time space which causes all the characters to travel non-linearly through time
4. The monster pokes holes in higher dimensions which causes mutually exclusive event paths to occur simultaneously
5. The monster told Alexander Hamilton that Aaron Burr called him a pussy.
The cupboard also didn’t used to be a cupboard. Several dog millennia again it was the cast iron safe of the Great Baron-B, who ruled an obscure kingdom off the coast of New Jersey – also unreferred to by any written documentation or oral tradition whatsoever except through the medium of a groggy malnourished half asleep brain type medium.
He floats on a leaf. Or rather the leaf floats on the stream. I used had a class in earth science which was all about how rocks are carried by rivers. Some of the rocks skip along the riverbed. This is a process known as “erosion.” That’s how you pick up the really smooth shiny rocks along the water. The air was filled with suspense. Or in other words, suspense suspended in mid-air. The dark canopy above swayed with the tiny battling of fairies – warring their invisible wars under the guise of tiny gusts of wind. This was a world that has evolved from minute to minute. A magical land slowly squeezed out of the eye of the stone.
He floats. The strange half smile of the trees greet him. Today was going to be another day in the valley of no memories. No past to tug at his heart strings or future to prepare for. The only thing to do was to remain perfectly still. Someone would come for him eventually. Or not, it matters not. The static fizzing lulled him to sleep. Here’s what he dreamt.
And that’s the story. Pathetic Writer slaps the manuscript down proudly. His cup of tea wobbles but doesn’t tip over. No one notices. He’s sitting by himself.
PW whips his phone out impulsively. No text messages. Another email from Woot farcically trying to sell him a refurbished toaster. He puts his phone on the table and leans back. This was going to be a long day.
Pathetic Writer picks up his bag and walks home from the local coffeeshop. The rain comes down gently like when your showerhead is so rusted that it feels like a baby is peeing on your head. But like cold pee. It’s been a strange November and now he was ready for anything – even the purported end of the world.
He whips his phone out again impulsively. Someone messages him about a package delivered to the office. He shrugs and walks towards his home, darting from scaffolding to scaffolding to avoid the moisture.
PW steps into the elevator and heads to the top floor. The door opens to a scene. A group of people sitting in a circle discussing their next project. He says hello and walks towards the back room. There was indeed a package there in a Express Mail box. PW picks it up and shakes the box around. Something heavy rattles in the box.
The box is white. It is covered with creases. Some of the corners are indented from trauma. The edge of the box is rough. Parts of the cardboard feel damp. PW’s friends are giving him looks. Why are you feeling up the box so much?
Tearing open a box requires the most imprecise of sciences. It often involves tugging at a flap until the entire thing rips off like a ripcord. The box opens and a manuscript pops out.
PW thumbs through a few pages. He wishes that somehow he can copy and paste chunks of the manuscript into his own story – which at this point is still woefully short of the minimum length. In a sick way it is a bit regressive to regard writing as a quantitative exercise to meet a certain quota. But thus is the nature of the game and according to one wise parent on Reddit, if you’re going to half-ass something you should do it or not do it at all.
PW reaches in the box. There was something else there. Something he hasn’t seen for the last fifteen years of his life. Slowly he pulls out something that belongs to an old friend. Quickly he grabs the box and checks from a return address. Whatever was written there was quickly scratched out, or perhaps the rain had washed the words off the box.
PW set the manuscript down and the relic to the side and thought carefully. There was something that had happened recently which led to this event to transpire but he is unable to formulate the memory which can access this bit of reality. Slowly time ticks by and what seemed like minutes turn into hours. He knows the next few hours of his time will be squandered in distractions subdivided between his work and the requests of his friends and his own short attention span.
If only he can pull together and remember what happened not so long ago, and why this seems eerily familiar yet distant. It was hopeless. To PW it felt like recalling a dream from childhood. He can only recall the feel of the dream, faintly.
He leans back and looks at the ceiling and thinks of his favorite lore from childhood.
The history of the magic cast iron safe kingdom off the coast of New Jersey is something that hopefully takes up lengths of words to explain. For the history is rich with strife, cultural expansion, scientific discovery, graphic novels, plentiful tubers, and colorful sub-tropical frogs.
The story begins from the perspective of a young man born into the world as a newbie into the halls of the great school where he was unceremoniously dumped – naked with barely anything but a standard issue manual, a flimsy dirt child, and a sword that flops around in the breeze. This would be the beginning of his long and eventful adventure and rendezvous with dangerous creatures, crazy magic, spam and lag, and a world full of drunks and socially awkward adults who have chosen to dwell in this kingdom rather than that which forces them to re-evaluate their lives.
Friendly denizens of this land guide him at every turn, and explain the basic mechanics of the world, which exist solely in the form of writing and without any insane high resolution graphics, slick animation, or cut scenes. Yes, it would be a world built upon the idea that imagination dwells over all and that reading really quickly was equivalent to having really fast reflexes or simply skimming would suffice in most situations despite the care and detail others put into interior decoration or a particular design of their own being.
It is that overlooking of details which characterizes the reality of the sub-reality of the kingdom – which often compared to that of the overly real reality of ignoring details and sub-text in order to hold together a sense of decency and coherence in the world around us – not a very different exercise indeed. Sir!
The progression of the young man from a newbie to a barely competent denizen involved an incredible amount of trial and error of death and rebirth. Of realizing that sometimes dungeon monsters are large pansies and other times a mere dog can pose an incredible obstacle to one’s success – depending on which room that animal were placed and the vulnerabilities of the young man to physical attacks.
This obsession which overtook him found a way into the deepest recesses of his character. A certain cavalier attitude slowly formed over time and the bonding with ones who were often cold and distant rather than overly helpful and friendly – outlined the division between perceptions of strength and weakness. To be feared was a certain kind of strength which was alluring to him. The gravitational vortex which causes everyone else to respond to your presence with alarm and as your influence grew the necessity of their will bending to yours was a surprisingly positive outcome from something that is antithetical to everything one learns from an early age.
The young man become a normal aged man and then an old man but his conquering habits stayed constant – for it had to be. And as he grew wiser and more able he learned how to bend the emotions of others around him and to extract humor from situations which meant life and death for others. He learned how to troll and how to deceive and even as madness settled him he held unto his loyalties fiercely. This was the epitome of the highest level of existence in a world that is overrun by the soulless and the commoditized.
The man exploited vulnerabilities In the world around him of certain glitches that occurred – making a mockery of the very laws which hold the world together. He became jaded.
One day all of it becomes too much. The psychosis triggers in him a self destruct protocol and erases itself – a fail safe that only a few are able to activate. This would be the day he escapes the world, not gracefully but casting aside everything he once believed and lambasting those who continue to believe the same way.
The shadows form into shapes and follow the Cadaver Prince to the end of the nursery hall. The slow whispers of the lantern flickered against the stern mahogany hall exterior. This was the bridge which some consider the ferry. Charon’s obol was self condemnation – an abundant resource.
The Cadaver Prince lifts his index finger and points towards the corkboard near the northern end of the facility. Three pictures were prominently featured. The first one was a man holding a balloon next to a white dog. He appears to have walked out of a house which is far too small to be comfortable. The oblong shapes of the walls betrays a certain innocence in the artist. A closer examination reveals that everything was in fact deliberate. There is melancholy in the lines and the brush strokes which filled the vacant space was frayed and unloving.
The second picture depicts two cats sitting under an umbrella on the beach. The cats are both awkwardly splayed next to each other – their eyes staring blankly over the plane of the art piece. What is remarkable in the picture is a tiny bell that seems to be hanging off the collar of one of the cats. The bell stands out as the only accurately depicted object in the painting. The light plays off the bell in a hyper-realistic way and if you get obnoxiously close to the bell you would notice a few rust stains at the corner of the slit cut into the metallic ball.
The third picture depicts a pyramid and a family ogling it all wearing identical t-shirts and shorts. Only the outline is displayed. Nothing else can be made out except for a large letter B on the upper corner of the piece of paper – too short to be the initials of the artist but also not corresponding to what might seem like a grade for the painting. Another letter appears half erased on the right side of the letter B. Not much can be made out of it.
Upon a second glance, all three paintings are blank sheets of paper. The corkboard is filled with staples and shreds of ripped page corners. The Cadaver Prince turns and walks briskly down the hall. Clop Clop Clop. In his platform boots he stops precisely ten feet away from the glass wall separating the hall from the auditorium room. He reaches out and taps the metal tapering of the wall with his index finger. A door swings open from behind him and out steps four figures in hooded robes and masks. Without a word, they bring a chair to the Cadaver Prince and sits him down – before all taking a leg and lifting him high over their heads like the most bizarre silent Bar Mitzvah ever.
Slowly and without much deliberation the four shuffle back into the room from whence they came from. The gathering shadows evaporate and slip under the door. There was no time to lose. There were more phantoms to gather before their job was over – more stones to overturn and dark twists to twist before they can sleep for they are already a ways behind and something dark and sinister compels them to continue onward. A single-minded determination to reach a conclusion – to put the jigsaw puzzle back together and back in the box – for the pieces were never meant to be outside on their own and might catch a cold.
The Cadaver Prince’s eyes adjust to the darkness. His four hosts look up at him with mild interest before slipping out again and closing the door quietly. He was now in a classroom. Desks are arranged in a ring with nametags prominently displayed in the front – held together by scotch tape and in some instances written over with glitter glue. Smatterings of book socks, trapper keepers, pencil bags, and other oddities of elementary school accessory-nation lay strewn around the room. As if there was a fire drill and everyone expected to come back. But the Prince knew. No one was coming back. For the simple reason that there wasn’t anyone here to begin with. This place is not meant to house children but shadows – like him. The vestige of childhood memories which eventually is teased out years later and used to explain a library of adult malfunctions. The guilt of taking something from someone which is still there fifteen years later – a little too late and impossible to redress.
He sits - knees coming out from either side of the tiny desk – and sighs. His work was not over.
The secret to writing quickly is apple juice. No, in fact the secret is the write without thinking to let the words wash over and through you like a bad case of dysentery. When you stop writing you start pondering what you had written and that’s when the process stalls. It’s when you begin to question yourself and attempt to reward that last sentence because your diction isn’t up to par of your personal branding. This is some crazy vanity shit when you think someone will actually read your inane babble up to this point. It is some hyper-optimistic drivel that partially motivates you to accomplish this one goal despite the lack of a tangible reward or anyone really caring. You’re doing it for you. It’s the fundamentally zen-ist experience a creative can undergone as long as you make a pact with yourself that once you finish with the work you will seal it away in the fiery peak of Mount Doom. This is something you don’t incessantly facepalm yourself over.
After a certain point the will to write is replaced by the impossibility to finish. If delayed enough often choice will become irrelevant, leaving the situation as it is expressed in the most morbid sense of the word, fate. Fate is when less than thirty hours away from a deadline one is able to only complete a bit less than fifth of the assignment and having done some quick arithmetic must produce more than four times as much content during a shorter span of time. This borderlines on impossibility, the delicious idea that no matter how hard one struggles success is simply unattainable. The very idea of this idea is so delightfully un-American – which bordering on the area of manic delusion we promote the idea that anyone can become anything can work anywhere and be as great as they want to be. The problem is that this often doesn’t motivate as much as cause people to feel an inflated sense of self aggrandizement.
This is the idea which has only infrequently be forced upon me. That no matter how much you try or beg or think of creative solutions there is no escape. This is the stuff of nightmares – like the one time I missed a flight going from Rome to Athens in which no matter how much I tried to talk and excuse myself from responsibility the customer service woman wouldn’t budge. No amount of asking to see the managers or appealing to their lack of familiarity with the plane booking process when it pertains to electronic checkins was effective at all. We hit a solid brick wall and that feeling – the hyperventilization – the waking up in cold sweats the day of the due date for an assignment or after having overslept an important test or courtdate or getting stabbed by a stranger and realizing that shit was really real. It was so real that no amount of imagining or denial can deny it away and that the repercussions were so permanent that they can be reversed or ignored. This is when a deluded force hits an immovable object. You can almost hear the billabong of fate ringing through the air.
But this was not such a situation. This was a situation where the deadened ember of aspiration was rekindled. At this moment the ashes of inevitable defeat was swept aside every so slightly by a skillful rendition of what is known as a motivational speech – appealing to not self delusion but faith on another person – the entirety of making something trivial seem an important achievement and allowing the other person to connect this arbitrary and absolutely retarded task with an extremely deep meditative and spiritual experience. This was the gift of gab which re-accelerated fingers to rat a tat tat on the keyboard and to write without censorship or regard and to acknowledge the absurd wonderfulness of free writing an entire novel and putting ones soul bare on electronic pages to be able to spread the psyche out skin it and flay the bits of flesh away and plaster it onto a framed canvas and to say this is me this is who I am unabashed and for all of my life which attempted to dress up my thoughts or dress down my thoughts this is my thoughts in its birthday suit raw and unafraid of criticism. This is what pushes forward this strange and twisting narrative which during the twilight hours of the first spree left me a bit jumpy and afraid of darkness. Where despite its surface inanity actually touched a deep chord of dischord between myself and myself – and that feeling was real even if impossible to fully communicate to another person. I am again chasing this feeling as drug addicts say and this is my way of chasing it. Without any enhancements aside from a bottle of Naked Juice, a large can of Sweet Tea, nuts, and a box of overpriced chicken and rice. These are the only things which will fuel this one last push towards what could possibly be success or a humiliating incomplete on the fourth down to use the tritest metaphor ever. For sooth there is no going back and no editing this would be a run for survival to send a message to the parts of my soul which dare to overscrutinize the insatiable need to express and to say this is pretty much how dorky and unkempt my heart is and no matter how much you want to try to psychoanalyze this shit you’re never going to be able to read past a certain part. These are uncharted territories only I’m able to navigate.
There is something amazingly satisfying about subway railings. Not only will inevitable doom come in the form of crushing momentum grinding your puny organic form against large metallic rails but also purportedly the magical third rail which as far as I’ve seen is some fearsome relic of legends that can trap the errant urinator or someone dumb enough to skip fancifully across from one platform to the other side – which I’ve seen friends do whilst in a bout of alcoholic merriment. He however so carelessly leaped over the third rail it almost diminished the doom-ful nature of it in my eyes. But I digress.
To get to my final resting place I chose to take the subway which either green or blue lines would suffice. This would be the topic of an argument I had way back, a heated argument at that about how one names a subway. Rather than saying the color of the subway line I was instructed to refer to subways by their corresponding numbers or letters. However being of a poetic nature I would argue that to say Green Line would be simpler and less arduous than saying the 4, 5, 6. Same as saying Blue Line would be easier than A, C, E. Essentially you’re saving yourself a syllabyle. Over the course of your life you’d probably have saved enough syllables to write a nice Eulogy for yourself about how you saved all these syllables enough to write this Eulogy. But of course you wouldn’t be dating my ex-girlfriend because she vehemently rejects that form of subway classification. But I digress.
I rode the subway line uptown heading towards Time Square – an interesting place for tourists and a dreadful area for Native New Yorkers who are used to walking at least four times the average walking speed in the area. Plus the chicken and rice costs a dollar more as do the bottle water and looking at wax figures. Everything’s expensive – tourists don’t know much better and there is a certain price on convenience – which there is sort of if glam and lighted glitz can be considered a sort of convenience. It is also the breeding ground for all kinds of money making clowns and animals and dancing people trying to market themselves and/or some brand who threw them some nickels. Someone just mentioned seeing Wicked with their dad. This is exactly the kind of shit I’m talking about in regards to Time Square.
I was on the winding subway which goes both crosstown and uptown and lurched a few times during the sharp turns. Due to the crowded nature of the subway carts I had at one point two fingers on a stripper pole, one leg in the air, and a look of struggle as I tried to regain my balance against the momentum-ladened cart. I also accidentally stepped on a few people’s shoes and punched a teenager in the ribs with my bag holding hand.
The best way to distract oneself on the subway is to look at the various advertisement but to never commit to making a purchasing decision. One of the advertisements closest to the door prophesized that buying one’s boyfriend a coupon to attend a pig slaughtering class would be a good gift. This was worthy f a few pictures. The other thing which I was oft perplexed about is whether to ever give up a seat for someone else. Not to say I haven’t in obvious cases but since the implication is giving up a seat implies someone is either old or pregnant this is a setup which is rife for misunderstandings and awkward assumptions. According to popular websites one must never assume that a woman is pregnant lest they were to incur the greatest of all great wraths that may befall a man in the civilized world. There are literally hundreds of stories to back up this claim if not more. I am also often too passed out to give up my seat anyways this would be partially due to committing to stupid unnecessary assignments which involve a lot of time and little sleep. This time suck is not the first and it will certainly not be the last time I’ve done something of this magnitude in unecessarity.
Finally there is also an instance where one’s hands come dangerously close to touching another hands while gripping the stripper pole. I’ve encountered situations where ones hands slowly slid down until its stacked neatly on mine and oblivious to the awkwardness of the kinetic encounter the other person continues to let their hand get pulled by the light touch of gravity. In other circumstances I’ve seen people flinch literally when other people’s hands come close to theirs. My resolution is to hold two people’s hands at this same time this New Years. This is another one of those non-sequiturs I was talking about a while back. I’ve also never fulfilled or remembered my New Years resolution ever since I was old enough to know what New Years resolutions were. So I expect there to be a death of hand holding for this year just as for the foreseeable future, unless I can guarantee someone without the slightest moisture in their palms – stupidly rare.
On this particular day of riding the subway absorbed in my thoughts – trying not to fall over from sleep deprivation I felt a lurch unlike other lurches. The train comes to a sudden halt. No one seems to mind. This was an awkward time of the day and no one was in a hurry – very unlike typical New Yorker behavior. The intercom comes on like it always does and a tired sounding train man says, there is some train delay because of traffic ahead. However unlike the usual incidence of this occurring the lights of the subway suddenly cuts off. The sound of the speaker system stops and there is dead silence. Angry muttering starts to ring through the subway as people put down their newspapers and kindles and copies of Games of Throne or Twilight. The people playing videogames or listening to music don’t give a shit at all and the people who are passed out are still passed out. I mean who has ever heard of a passed out person waking up when the lights go out. That’s pretty much never happening. But for the sake of this fictional account lets say one person wakes up. I hope that meets the threshold of fiction because I swear to G-D if I get caught on a technicality after all of this I am never writing a paragraph again. Just straight haikus for me.
I use the flashlight app on the iphone. Every time I shine the light on people they started groaning and muttering. I feel like I’m in a zombie movie. And then suddenly I hear a noise. One cart still had power somehow. I break the law and walk through the carts even though no one has instructed me to do so. I walk towards the light at the far end of the train cart – pushing through smelly hobos, breakdancers, guitar players, accordion players, jugglers, schizophrenic war vets telling stories about their lives that no one wants to hear, the people who say ‘Excuse me everyone’ and then tells an irrelevant story before they start asking for a donation, the people who claim to be working for a charitable organization and produces a few ham and cheese sandwiches which they claim to be giving out to the homeless and who do a little better when they ask for money – people who are passed out horizontally with their shoes off – and lots and lots of people holding all kinds of awkward things like flowers, shopping bags, babies, dogs in purses, suitcases, their significant others, a bunch of clothes that they decided to not wear and just hold like a security blanket, some large boxes, a camera bag, a guitar case, a large picture frame that’s huge and is jabbing this really tall guy in the eye, and four garbage bags full of cans. This process takes a really long time as you can imagine. When I finally get to the cart with the lights I push the door open and a waft of warm air blasts me in the face like when you take a hairdryer and blow your eyes with it because you were watching the notebook and you didn’t want anyone to see you teared up a little bit – or even worse when you were watching Inspector Gadget with your little cousin and her friends – which, never happens because they never invite you. Those cretins!
This one cart that was lit up was something out of a miracle. No shady characters – just a bunch of people dressed up in pajamas dancing to the music that’s playing on someone’s Pandora account that somehow has reception in the subways. This would be the most unbelievable part of this entire novel of course – no you say? Well what if I told you that person has AT&T service and still has reception. Yeah get out of here you would say. Get out of where? How do you know where I am? Yeah that’s right, shut up stop having a dialogue with the writer you insane person. Just enjoy the subway lit up dance party.
This would be the kind of super crazy dance party where some people dress up and somehow has alcohol even though its in the subways. There are maybe three or four people who aren’t in anything festive who look a little out of place but they are tapping their hands on their knees and stomping lightly to make it look like they belong and put up these awkward smiles so that they don’t feel as out of place as they look. Plus they’re usually friends with someone there and they want to avoid the most dreadful thing that can happen at a party which is someone coming up to you and asking you what’s wrong. What’s wrong? What do you mean? Everything’s great. And then they give you a look like you’re crazy or in denial and when they’re alone with their other friends they say – hey have you noticed how depressed ____ looks. Yeah don’t you love that shit. Overly concern friends – or when people keep asking you what’s up or what you’re working on. Those nosy people are a lot of fun right? Why do they constitute the majority in every situation? There is literally no escape from this suffocating blanket of concern and friendly inquiries.
There’s this one guy Bruce who was a horrible influence on me. When I was in middle school Bruce was making people feel uncomfortable all around the world. He was calling people pansies getting drunk and refusing to play nice. Everyone was super afraid of Bruce but they respected him because he knew how to get shit done and he had this manipulative side where if you were friends with him he’d treat you like a true friend 46% of the time and so for the other 59% of the time you were chasing the feeling like a heroin addict is chasing heroin. Bruce, I knew him well. They claimed he died in a car accident and another soul possessed his carcass. However later on it was found out that this was a fabrication and that he in fact did not die at all and just got tired of everyone hating on him that he wanted to start anew and rebuild his character from the ground up. This was an interesting twist in the story because it underlines how gullible I was and how I just accepted at face value that people would so cavalierly die on the internet while there are a jillion safety precaution involving paramedics, blood transfusions, and skin grafting which is so advanced it can keep an one legged stool level for at least thirty years. Man I respect medicine but those guys really stay in school for a long time. That part is kind of whack plus Organic Chemistry seems like it’s pretty hard. I don’t think I’d be any good at something that requires rote memorization.
Did I mention this dance party was a Christmas tree dance party? No I didn’t? I think it’s because I forgot the exact terms of the dare that I was supposed to execute. Not that I know it now but based on my notes there is some kind of Christmas tree involved and cinnamon buns. I think for the sake of integrity in the story I’m not going to arbitrarily insert things in the plot just to fill up more space or to have random characters come in and out. Especially if this is positioned to be a movie in a few years it’s going to be way too expensive to hire all these minor characters.
I opened the escape hatch on the side of the subway cart. This usually inadvisable because you are not supposed to leave the subway in the middle of a tunnel unless you are instructed by an official MTA personnel. The other reason is that there isn’t an escape hatch to escape from so most likely what I’m implying is that I phased through the walls or knocked out a window with my laptop and dove through like I was Bruce motherfucking Willis. The subway tunnel smelled musty, kind of like a bunch of soccer players played football there and dumped a bunch of Gatorade around which attracted the rats which pissed everywhere and left a bunch of rat pellets for everybody which mixed with the Gatorade and the sewage smell. This was a unique kind of smell which is often imitated but never duplicated.
At this point my flashlight app was slowly draining the battery on the iPhone. Although to be fair this was still way better than the flashlight they use in the Slender game because I can actually see things with it. However in roughly forty minutes my phone was going to run out of batteries. At this moment if I don’t find a way out I would have to sit in a dark cold tunnel until a train smooshes my brains aginst the wall or wait to be adopted by the ninja turtles. I walk forward because I’m reckless and because it moves the plot a lot better than if I just sat there in a corner. However I would say that it is conforming to the whole idea of hashtag don’t go home in that no great story ever started with someone sitting in a subway tunnel in the dark not going anywhere.
There are several more things that are spooky about the subway tunnel aside from the trains which can kill you. There is an abundance of rats and a lot of ratacide spray which means you can’t really touch any surfaces without feeling really icky inside. The other thing is that there are all these clotheslines going from wall to wall where they string together a bunch of dolls heads. It’s this weird thing in New York City where the mole people dry their doll heads on clotheslines since the hair takes so long to dry usually that they need to hang it up. The other thing that’s spooky is the ivy-like Christmas lights which are plastered around the walls and which coil around different protruding surfaces like some kind of festive serpent. The shadows which are cast by the lights are faceless. This really goes without saying since when was the last time you’ve seen shadows with faces. That shit would be really scary. The last thing which was spooky was that there is one sock on the floor of the tunnel. There is a little bit of blood on it and there’s no shoe and nothing else. This is always one of those mysteries in bad neighborhoods when you see a single shoe or a sock or underwear or pants and you’re scratching your head wondering what happened to that person.
There’s a broken monocle and half of a retainer laying by the side of the drainage into the subway sewer underbellies. It seems that at one point there was some significance and dignity down here. I come upon a platform that’s elevated a little bit off the ground. The tunnel has now branched away from the main tracks and no semblance of the subway railing was laid anywhere near these parts. The ground was becoming surprisingly dry. In a weird way this part of the subway tunnels was clean – as if someone had recently done a sweeping to it. A faint hammering noise can be heard echoing from the distance. A faint glow is diffused from the fog in the air – not fog like sewage moisture but a different kind of fog – cleaner but of indeterminable source. This was the parts of the New York City underground that people only speculated about – the places where the underground people supposedly lived and built their communities.
The tunnel narrows to the point that I can touch both sides of the wall with outstretched arms. The hammering sound grows a bit louder. I still feel ambivalent and confused – but a strange force compels me forward. There is no trace of discernable reason or emotional response to this predicament. Something smells like coffee. I move forward like an automaton – like a dancer doing the robot when he lets his arm swing so my leg swings forward animated by a puppeteer’s touch. To where am I moving towards and to what end? What destiny wants the lone wanderer who wanders alone in the darkness?
I don’t even notice that the flickering strobe of my iPhone flashlight has all but disappeared. The occasional sound of group-texting has ceased. I was now in the dark figuratively as well as literally. Still I move forward, groping the walls to gauge a proper direction, hoping not to step into thin air or to run into any obstinate objects. Slowly I advance forward, with only the sound of my breath and the hammering which grows louder with every step. Hands sliding across the moist walls of the tunnel.
Suddenly I feel something. A metal handle is on the wall. This was a door. I try to open it. It was locked. A few chapters ago I encountered a mysterious door key with a glow stick. However I failed to mention this and I failed even harder to pick up these items – both which would have been immensely useful assuming the key actually unlocked this door – a slim to none chance that is only great enhanced in novels of such simplicity and flat imagination as this one. Instead I decided to try to kick the door down. This doesn’t work. The door is quite sturdy and I have no experience in kicking doors, especially ones that are metal and framed by the stone walls of the tunnel. Shrugging ever slightly I move forward.
My hand comes upon another metal handle, not a door this time but a hatch – like the one they have in the postal office for your packages. I pull slightly and the hatch swings open with a slight groan. Looking inward I can make out a small tunnel three feet by three feet. At the end is a bright light. I crawl forward – again for no particular reason other than having seen something like this attempted in the movie Being John Malkovich. Hoping to emerge in the body of at least a B-list actor, I eagerly crawl forward.
If you were to remember the first two seconds of your life it wouldn’t be the way they depicted it in the movies of abject darkness and then light. And then the smiling face of the doctor saying welcome to the real world son. I wonder if babies have nightmares or if they come out dreaming and the entire reason for is that they’re really pissed off that they got woken up during the part where they had this dream about how they won the lottery and then flew home on the back of a giant bat.
He’s kind of a different socially awkward that the usual. He gets really quiet when he’s nervous. So how’s he charming? He was just cute and he gave me a very polite goodnight kiss.
So was emerging from the tunnel into a dustier staircase, enclosed in a dungeon-esque stone veneer. The staircase spiraled upward until it comes to a trapdoor. I banged on the door slightly. A cascade of dust and other things fall through the cracks in the floor. The sound of hammering stops suddenly. Footsteps approach and the door swings upward. A dim light washes through the staircase and I look up blinking as my eyes adjusted to the light. A shadowy figure hovered over me and I felt like the staircase began to give from underneath. Reaching up and grabbing the edge of the floor I look down as infinite darkness threaten to swallow me from below. No semblance of my fantasy walk through the tunnels was left except some speckled memories of the absurdity of my decision to push forward. I pull myself up and look around the room. It looked like a cross between a nursery and a mental hospitality. The walls with a sickly green color with children’s drawings plastered everywhere. There was a window which led to the dark hallways. I could feel a presence in the room but feared to look behind me as I felt the situation reaching a certain climax or resolution. I feel a spindly tap on my shoulder from impossibly thin fingers at an angle which suggested someone who was enormously taller than me. I turned around and stared at a masked man in hooded robes. In another setting he’d have passed for a wraith but the sheer absurdity of getting my attention dispelled most of the effect. Boo he says. I looked at him incredulously. Was this some cosmic punchline in a joke that I don’t understand. Are my relatives and friends going to emerge from the dark corners flick on the lights and yell surprise? Am I suckered into some grand hoax or is this some sub-reality that is the fragile scratchings of a mind under distress. I stared at him for what appeared to be at least eighteen hours, unblinking. Finally the wraith sighs and walks slowly towards the door. He pushes the door open into the dark hallway and walks into the distance, flicking on lights as he passed by parts of the hallway.
A bright incandescence lights up the entire environment. White light floods everywhere causing my eyes to water. The entire last seven hours of my life had been a blur and culminated in this absurdity which has no end. I followed in the wraith’s footsteps desperate to get an answer. The man stays slightly ahead. Symbolizing an event that is just outside of my grasp. Something so simple to pull off that has yet to materialize. I realized what this was. This was a mental rendering of a haunted house and the wraith was the hired actor. Or perhaps it is the symbolic nature of my internal struggle to cause a ruckus that is so easily deterred by the stoicism of the world which even though at times reacts excessively emotional in minutiae but as a whole remains passive and unmoved to almost every single antic I can possibly pull out of my sleeves.
Now going into a full spring I finally catch up to the man in the hooded cloak. He doesn’t turn around but speaks in a polite Scandinavian accent.
The Cadaver Prince paces the room waiting for his big moment. Perhaps he would never arrive or perhaps he was already here and had already wandered to his doom. For whatever reason he felt compelled to stay. Perhaps this was some fools optimism that drives him but when there is a job in front of him and a goal to reach he knew there was only one direction to go. A few weeks ago he had talked to a few of his bone-ling minions about the nature of the world. It is impossible to know what you’ll accomplish or what kind of undead prince you can be in your un-lifetime but the only thing you really can control is the direction you’re moving. At the very least you can imagine that if you are going in the right direction eventually you’ll get where you want to go – even something that is of unfathomable distance as long as you take small steps to get closer to your destination your destination will come to you if not in your time then in the time of collective consciousness and unconsciousness of all existence. If you look at the contributions of individual actions to the whole you can weave the narrative into a much bigger one and derive significance from insignificant milestones. This is something that takes a while to believe and a lifetime to reinforce and constantly there is everything that deters you from pursuing the path which heads down the dark and murky swamp life. But this is where faith comes in. Not the kind of faith in blindly believing in others and what they’re telling you to do and what morality is and any kind of origin creation stories, including the most scientific of explanations that you have not personally experienced or verified or even things that you have experienced. This is not faith. Faith is the belief in yourself and that you are not an ugly snowflake that’s sole purpose is to melt into oblivion and that there is some part of you that if taken in the right direction affects the fabric of all existence and the most insignificant choice in one word in one sentence out of a thousand sentences can have amazing consequences far beyond your imagination. This is productive faith. That you matter – even if you’re some kind of magical golem of an reincarnated body of mass held together by a tapestry of restless souls which have only so much runway as to gain employment in a cosmic haunted house. To wait for only one person to make an impact to and derive purpose from your entire life to that one moment. Yes, even in that case. Albeit this would be an extreme one.
The Cadaver Prince hears footsteps coming up from beneath and he fist pumps slowly and with a twinge of melancholy. His moment has come and he knows exactly what he must do. He reaches down and throws open the trapdoor – waiting patiently. Clearing his throat slightly he reaches down to direct the attention of his guest to him and says.
You do not belong here yet you belong. I will take you where you want to go, back to yourself. That’s it. Said in the voice of someone who’s trying to sell sex enhancement pills completely unfitting some purportedly super-natural being. But the promise is fulfilled. The walls disappear into a wisp of smoke. Sudden scene change. They were in the middle of the woods.
You know before I go, I’ll have to say this. I’ve seen a lot of shit in haunted houses. I’ve seen these tall eight feet tall dudes shit themselves every year at least four or five people have to get carried off by the ambulance because of heart attacks. How do we cover the liability you say? Well I really don’t know. The place I work for doesn’t really care for that kind of stuff – we just get assigned and there’s really no economic structure which underpins the business. And the kind of horror we specialize in is a bit different than the one you’re used to. For you see even at this moment a part of you is terrified to continue forward because of what you may discover about yourself but me. I’m just here to guide you to those unsavory aspects of yourself and to get you to the point where you can no longer hide and have to accept things as they happen. At this point you will truly be living in the moment and become one with yourself. This is the resolution that you sought ever since the last time we’ve met. Under different circumstances all will be revealed soon.
For now I’m going to leave you to yourself. Take the path towards the receding sunlight until the moon is directly overcast. When that happens sleep for exactly two hours then finish your journey north. When you get there you will have learned everything you need to know about yourself but before then you must tread carefully. For there is no time left and every misstep could be dire to your journey.
It is unclear at this point if all of that was said and by who since I was standing by myself and it seemed to be the case for the past few hours. My memory of what transpired seems more and more like a hallucination if not for two things. I pulled out a cinnamon roll. An owl flies by with a beehive updo. Out of the corner of my eye I see also see a beehive. This was the part of the neighborhood where there was only black squirrels. Walking around sounds like stepping on bags of tortilla chips.
It’s so hard to do. Sometimes it requires constant vigilance. I’m sidetracked trying to strike a flame with two rocks and a stick. To create some warmth in an otherwise chilly autumn evening. The rocks hit with a clack but no sparks. The air was becoming cooler and I know I have to keep moving. The moon rises as the last bits of sunlight melt away. Perhaps through divine intervention or from the humanity within the message I received on that day was clear and the feeling behind it even more vivid. I really do care about everyone and one of the challenges was to put that care and feeling in everything I do and everything I communicate with others. To place the attitude of empathy above all and to use is as a filter or a frame to guide every single action. This is my lesson. I strike the rocks again. Nothing. No amount of philosophizing parallels physical materials and getting fire from a stone. I toss the rocks away. They strike something and scatter with a rattling only stone on stone can make. However one of the rocks hits something that sounds like water. I can’t see anything but it seems that there is a body of water in front of me.
I keep walking on the bags of nachos. The entire scene reeks of the game Slender which I used to play in the dark always with a friend and one time by myself I had to pause midway because it was getting too intense and the bongo drums was turning dubstep on me signaling something really bad was about to happen. Lucky for me this time there was no flashlight. I couldn’t see a murderer if he was two feet ahead of me, plus the atmosphere of the woodland seemed too calm. Not too calm like something bad was going to happen but too calm as in it is impossible to sustain the level of horror or violence that would occur in a different environment. Essentially there was no horror-driven bongo techno music and I felt a lot safer – for a reason that is completely unjustified and unwarranted considering all the natural hazards like bears, snakes, and overly aggressive beavers. Oh those chaotic beavers, those angers are as fierce as they are obscure. Incidentally they are also the largest rodents in North America.
The moon is now overcast. I stop walking. Not because I remember the words of my phantasm but because I simply have grown too tired to walk any further. I lay down and rest on a pile of damp leaves. Against my will my eyes close and I’m knocked out. This begins an entire chapter of imaginative things which have no relations to anything else. Some may call it a dream sequence but I call it exploring a creative lead that should have been was never created. This would be the amalgamation of my past mixed with the future in a way that I always thought would happen but has yet to materialize. The dream I had were too familiar and too real. This has to be the reason why I’m here and when I woke up I knew something significant had just happened.
John Perry Morganson downs his expresso shot in one swift fluid motion. I’m fucking late he thought. He pulled his trousers on – unironed heap on the floor from the past night where he got home at 2AM and is now scrambling trying to get a cab uptown which can take him to the office before 7AM when his boss was supposed to arrive. JPM sprints outside. No cabs. He paced around the street, ambivalent as to which direction to turn. Damnit why didn’t he just call car service. He was starting to sweat. This was going to look really bad on his second day at work. Unsure what to do JPM decides to sprint towards his office, roughly 72 blocks away. No sweat if he runs at an average of 10 blocks a minute he’d surely make it on time. He’s sprinting and sprinting. Fuck red light. Fuck there was an unoccupied cab. Fuck there was a bus that he ran right past that was going to take him right to the front door. This shit was ridiculous. It was 80 degrees outside he was sweating like a hog. Almost to the air conditioning. Just twelve more blocks. He checks his watch. Oh shit only one minute left. He put his head down and goes into a full on sprint.
Lynch wakes up. He doesn’t remember much from last night or even the past three months. Time to do the same shit again. It sucks not making it to the pro leagues but working in a high paying job doesn’t hurt. If it wasn’t through his uncle though, he’d really be fucked. Lynch never really tried hard in school. He was always more into the girls, frat parties and lifting. His favorite line was do you even lift bro? What surprised him the most about his job is how fratty it can get on the trading floor. That’s kind of cool and the money isn’t bad. It’s hard to complain when you’re making that kind of money clicking a few buttons. It does give him some time to work out so he’s not really complaining. Lynch grabs a dirty shirt from the hamper. Good thing he lives five minutes away from work otherwise he’d never make it. He slams down a beer and walks out with his backpack. Another day another dollar.
Sully Banks checks his watch. Right on time. This was going to be the day he gets that promotion. Been schmoozing the boss over the past six months – also pulled in a few clients from a private event his ex-gf invited him to. It’s been a pretty good run and he’s feeling great. What they don’t know is he’s already got offers on the table to switch to a competitor bank. It’s always good to keep a backup option and something for leverage. This job was way too easy. He was going to run Wall Street in the next five years. These thoughts make it hard for Sully not to grin as he finishes shaving his face and slicks his hair back with some premium hair wax. He grabs his briefcase and heads to the door, his tailored shirt as white as the glint of his veneered teeth. Time to kill it.
Wells Fargo polishes his shoes and picks out the perfect tie. He has to keep up the image as the most refined gentleman in the bank – a tough mantle which is made progressively easier by his colleagues retiring, dying, or dropping out to start their own firms. Wells is loyal to the game – playing the same chess game he played for the last thirty years and which his father before him played to perfection. Some people may think finance is a young man’s game but Wells believes differently. It’s all about building trust over years of loyalty and service and making sure you play it safe. All those hot shots are going to see that one day their recklessness will come back and fly in their face. Wells is sure of that. That’s why he always buckles his seatbelt when he rides in the backseat and makes sure he takes a daily vitamin once a day to keep up his stamina. After thirty years I’m not about to take any chances, he thinks. I’m working my way up to the top one step at a time and as long as I keep going at it there’s no way I can fail.
Lynch gets an email. His uncle Lehman has just passed away. He’s not sure whether he feels sad or just elated. He had a bet going against his Uncle living past the end of the year and he wasn’t about to lose another bet with his dad. He’s got to save his money to buy some important things like a new weight set and upgrading to an apartment that doesn’t hit him with noise complaints every time he tries to throw a party. He clicks the checkbox next to the email, and deletes it. Way too depressing. It was time to focus on what’s important.
JPM’s boss walks up behind him. John we need to talk. He motions to the private meeting room. As you may or may not know, we’re on the books with some really nasty assets and things are looking really bad for our desk. We can no longer afford you we’re going to have to let you go. Sully’s mouth hangs open. You can’t be serious. I’m getting fired? The man across the table hands Wells an envelope. You have two weeks pay and all the benefits. Good luck, I’m happy to recommend you anywhere on Wall Street, you’re a trustworthy loyal guy. We’re just looking for something a bit more innovative so we can keep up with the other guys. Lynch you’re fired. Lynch can barely react before the door slams in his face. This turned out not to be such a hot day after all.
That evening at eight by the most miraculous of coincidences – John, Lynch, Sully, and Wells end up at the same bar in the heart of financial district. John was drinking a Brooklyn lager. Lynch ordered a bucket of PBRs. Sully had a long island ice tea and Wells was sipping on some aged bourbon. The four looked somber but no one could predict what was about to transpire. Suddenly a man in a bowler hat and overcoats walk into the bar. He sits down in one of the center tables, places his briefcase in front of him and flips open the latches. Inside are four pieces of paper. He eyes the people around the bar with some interest before slipping the papers back into his briefcase and closing the latch. He then climbs onto the bench and then onto the table standing on top of the briefcase.
I have an announcement. To those who are downtrodden today here is your chance for redemption. I have here a contract you cannot refuse – a deal to buy distressed assets for 2 cents on the dollar with a mandatory hold period of 1 year upon which a fully insured guaranteed amount of $1 will be returned per $1, backed by the United States of America. This is a promised 50x return on your money. However I only have four contracts each worth twenty thousand dollars. Who’s interested? Don’t bother bidding I’ve decided already. Goodbye gentleman. The shadowy figure picks up his briefcase and bolts out of the bar.
Most of the people drinking don’t even notice him but our four heroes do. Puzzling over what they just heard they thought about the improbableness of such a lucrative deal and decided it must be a scam. When they finish their drinks each head home and go their separate ways. At exactly 10:53PM each of our heroes reached into their right trouser pocket to fish out their wallet to make a purchase on Amazon when they all felt neatly folded into the pocket was a single sheet of paper. Unfolding the paper they realize that it is the contract the crazy man was babbling about. The four scrutinized the content of the contract to various degrees of care and patience – ranging from completely ignoring it to actually researching the origins of the asset in place and how the insurance worked. At the end, by some black magic all four had transfixed their signature on the contract. Some as a hoax and some seriously – as they had no idea where this man with the bowler hat had left and there was no business card or contact information. The very next morning all four of our heroes discovered that the contract had disappeared. No matter how hard they searched for it – it was as if the blasted thing had never existed. Writing this off as trauma induced dementia the four spent the day working on their resume to get it another go. But something incredible happened at exactly 10:53PM that night.
At exactly 10:53PM that night, all four heroes fell into a deep sleep.
I wake up in the middle of the woods. Well I can’t say this is the second time this has happened, because it has never actually happened to me before. Quite a site to behold, a grown man waking up on a pile of leaves in the middle of nowhere. The last thing I remembered was thinking there was a body of water nearby. Speaking of which a strong feeling of thirst takes hold of me and I look to see if the body of water was running water. Hearing some trickling sounds up ahead I venture forward, ignoring everything that wasn’t relevant to moisture – ignoring a litany of things including pinecones, squirrels, and strange signs written in a language that is unlike any known language I had ever seen. But since I never noticed those things there isn’t much to discuss about them except that they might have existed. Who knows, if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, did we really land on the moon or was Twister the movie actually based on the popular party game Twister?
The stream runs from what seems to be North to South, but given my horrid sense of direction it might as well not have been a non-comment. The strange thing about this stream is that despite how badly one wants to submerge themselves under there is a strange buoyancy which repels even the most obstinate person. In fact, everything in the stream has risen to the surface including fish and garbage of various kinds. It’s as if there was something in the water that made it so heavy that everything else was comparably less dense. I did not thirst for this water any longer.
However, I was curious to test a hypothesis – and so I stepped onto the stream. Just like all the other objects I did not sink, but instead was carried along like an airport escalator towards a direction which I can only hope was the right one – for if it isn’t there is no creative force on earth that can steer me in the right direction again. Although it might lead for more story to have to wander all the way back to the spot and to reverse courses. One of the most embarrassing pedestrian moments has to be walking in the wrong direction, passing someone, then correcting yourself and passing that person again. Except the reason why it’s not embarrassing is that the person in question most likely did not remember you and so did not even notice you passing back and forth. Therefore this whole conversation is pretty much moot and pointless. At this point I’m starting to notice the four p’s lined up in a row and how some letters for diagonal lines. It’s as if there is some rhyme and reason to what I’m writing instead of some random sampling of words very much akin to a Ms. Dos typing program or some kind of typing test in which the only thing that matters is volume not quality. This is pretty antithetical to my favorite forms of writing – movies, in which words are pretty much entirely absent except for subtitles and occasional signs and things like props that has some written component. Right now the words are flying so quickly out of my fingertips that Microsoft Word is struggling to recompute how many words I’ve actually written. The counter is simply stuck at a certain number which is a cool result. Anyways what I was saying is that this water was some whacky water treadmill that makes people say Whee. I bet that when I actually reread this paragraph I’m going to end up hating myself. However I shouldn’t say that since the whole point is to accept me for who I am even my crazy stall tactics. Btw, honestly I would grade this paragraph with a D-, although there is a certain Holden Caulfield-esque quality to how frantic it sounds.
Suddenly I remember where I am. I mentioned a magical land before where there was ginger ale rivers a few chapters ago. Yes I do know you can’t stand on ginger ale. Shut up.
I now know where I’m heading to. This field of neck pillows conveniently located at the bank of the ginger ale river, where there’s free headphones that grow from the ground and when one breaks another one grows in its place with better marketing. And it’s also a land when if you get a free pair of headphones you get email notification to reserve your free headphones instead of finding out a day later when it’s too late and being forced to use these horrible Jim Bean headphones that literally are designed for the ears of a meerkat.
As promised, the river unceremoniously dumps me into the field of airplane neck pillows. Suddenly I hear a familiar voice. Rest here and recount your other plot line before you lose momentum on developing that storyline. This one’s completely ridiculous and arbitrary and you should abandon all hope – until you tie it together in the end in a way that somehow makes sense. Right now it’s some piece of garbage two-bit plot tied together with bunny ear shoestring. I obliged.
At exactly 10:53PM that night our heroes notice a change that has taken over them. To make a long story short the contract they signed transferred a dangerous amount of special toxic assets to them, which triggered a mutation in their financial genome. All of them missed the fine print that the transaction was for one contract a minute capped at a billion dollars worth of contract. As a result, the four superceded the debt capacity of normal human beings and became highly unstable radioactive beings capable of more advanced debt financing and access to a wider range of financial tools. They also reached a level where the government is unable to cover the debt fully and so if they fail to refinance their debt they will turn into blackholes and disappear forever – but this event would be catastrophic that the entire world would be destroyed. Thus they are now too big to fail.
However with great power comes great responsibility. It is now up to them to leverage their powers to combat the financial crisis and same the Western Society from an economic meltdown in the only way they know how. Leveraging their assets and trying to double their money.
To continue the psychological descent into further darkness. The airplane neckpillow fields began to deflate and welt. I found myself wandering around a field of deflated rubber – an imagery straight out of someone’s strange nightmares. Aimlessly I wandered towards the setting sun until ran into the stream again. Dipping in I found that this stream was not like ginger ale at all, but a normal stream. I began to float downstream, struggling just to stay above water. The water was both turbulent and calm. I felt the water foamy part rise above the non-foamy wet part. This was very similar to that one time I went white water rafting in Georgia with a few friends. There was this one move where someone ride the bull and get to the front of the raft and get splashed on like in the front row of Sea World. Speaking of which I once went with a friend to Sea World somehow near NJ and got splashed wearing one of those t-shirts where people signed it because they were sad they graduated elementary school and was like everyone was going to remember each other’s names and how bad their handwritings were. That was kind of bad but I guess since I lost the shirt it doesn’t really matter, plus most of the people on that shirt ended up in jail or some kind of existential doom stuck in the pits of NJ never to emerge from the darkest depths of the pits of a place that is half suburb half underworld.
It’s so easy to give up sometimes. To relinquish your hold on life. But contrasting accounts on whether dying by drowning is painful or peaceful is a vexing dilemma. Perhaps there is a technique for relinquishing. Such as never having tried. To give up from the very beginning is sometimes preferable than fighting all the way down. But you must fight. Sometimes you need to be dragged away kicking and screaming. More theatrical plus you can annoy more people that way. What is there to life but to leave a deeper more indelible impression on others, to inspire those to follow in the same path not to quit but to enjoy the burning sensation of existing. Are you going to encourage a generation of cowards or those who raise hell. This is raising hell on the 11th hour, a minor rebellion against common reason. I kick up and up and reach for something to grab on. It’s not too late to fight for a happy ending. My hand brushes something unexpected. Something wooden. I reach up again and grab on the handle. It was a rope ladder. I look up through the all-encompassing dark. A dark form floated above me like an evil cloud – and slowly pulled me into the sky. This was going to be one of those flying dreams.
I was in a hot air balloon. From the flickering flames of the engine I can make out a glint of gold and a flash of blue eyes. I was saved by a damsel. She had an innocence about her but something darker underneath. I didn’t ask her why she saved me or where she was going. Instead I grabbed one of the neck pillows that clung to my neck and sat against wall of the basket. Slowly and deliberately, she began to speak.
I was born in North Carolina. I had an awful time growing up because I had two drug addict parents and I lived with them until I was seven. Then I moved off and got adopted by my aunt and uncle so I moved in with them. That was still pretty shitty, because they were really rich and they didn’t care what I did. They were just mean. And then I moved in with my bipolar grandmother who was crazy. After I graduated high school I moved to Malaysia and lived there a couple of years. I met them randomly in my town and they moved back to Malaysia so I randomly went there. I went to an all girls college religious college for a year called Peace and I hated it. It was all girls and everyone’s a lesbian. Even though it was un-Christian it happened anyways. And then, I moved to Chapel Hill North Carolina and then I went to hair school for one year. Then I met this guy in high school – we dated for almost three years. The first part is sad then it gets happy then it gets a little sad near the end then happy. Yes I have siblings. I have one biological brother. When he was born he had this gigantic boner and a pirate boot and one hook for a hand. So I’ve never really been close to him. My grandmother liked him better than me because he liked her chicken pot pie better than I ever pretended to like it.
My grandmother is bipolar which means she’s a bisexual polar bear. I wonder if that means she likes Klondike bars if she’s bisexual or she likes coca cola and wipes her ass with a Downey toilet paper. I then I met him again after I graduated high school and then college. My brother didn’t get to see all the bad things I saw so he’s crazy. I mean who likes chicken pot pie anyways. My aunt and uncle had three cyborg robot sons who got scholarships at Naval Academy which means he’s pretty much gay the other two are okay too I guess. When I was in high school and my dad changed his name was Slutty McSlutterson and decided to have sex with Misty from Pokemon and stole all her pokeballs. Misty was the slut and neglected her children because she was too busy defending her gym from a bunch of Pokemon trainers who wanted her badge. Then when her kids got adopted by another trainer we all celebrated because now they won’t grow up as crazy as us. But they all got adopted by some rural farmers who made them water the chickens and deep tissue massage the cows. My parents get into fights where they would shoot up heroin and fight. It didn’t make me sad but it made me kind of a bitch and a cold person, but now I defrosted kind of like Hungry Man frozen dinners. People didn’t like me because I was some kind of blonde hair blue eye stuck up goth but didn’t think I was a goth really because goths have to wear black and dark makeup lol. When I was eight I lived with my aunt and uncle for a year. My dad was a drug addict and drug dealer and got into a really bad deal and got hit in the head with a baseball hat and had to get the frontal lobe removed. Even now he can’t taste anything, especially grandma’s chicken pot pie which made her disown him. He lost part of his sanity and got dumber and regressed to a sixth grader. Now he won’t be able to fit in any of his clothes.
My mom is into opiates like heroin and opium but my dad is into normal stuff like coke weed and alcohol. When I was in high school I used to jump rope with my dad and he used to walk me into the grocery store barefoot and buy me beer and marijuana. His favorite stuff to do is to drink white zinfandel wine and smoke weed with Snoop Dogg and make crazy rap videos even though he’s white. The cashier said you can’t bring in homeless people to buy alcohol but that was super judgmental thank God she got fired. My mom’s been in and out jail and dropped out of seventh grade like all North Carolina folks. I got into fights all the time with my Aunt and Uncle.
I had the same group of best friends since I was five years old. Senior year of high school I started crashing everywhere and moved to Malaysia. I hated Malaysian food. I can’t eat sushi anymore. I lived with Tarzan in a village it was neat except there was National Geographic people everywhere and they thought I was an ostrich person. I also converted to fundamentalist Islam and started burying people and died so we sat around a dead body for three hours swatting flies off her eyeballs. This would be the moment when I found purpose in life. People were getting mad dysentery like in Oregon trails and dying even though people didn’t have any cures. I also moved to Koala Lamps. I worked in a boutique for three months doing a touristy stuff. I sold finger traps and fans and happy meal toys.
I dated my boyfriend who I thought was the duck of my life but he was more of a English hen. He was adorable like Justin Biebs. I didn’t like Peace so I started a war. Then I became a nanny to Italians and fed them spicy meatballs – metaphorically. I flew home every weekend. Then I moved to Chapel Hill and some of my best friends lived there and started going to hair school. I loved it there and met really cool people. Then I started dating a lacrosse stick which is everything I want in a guy. I can’t be together with him because I’m in NY. The past June my dad went on a bike ride and got hit by a car, but survived on some crazy medication. There was even more brain damage and December last year he regained consciousness. He’s at the level of a 2nd grader now. That’s when life really got crazy.
I decided to move to NY because I’ve been doing some modeling in North Carolina and was like I got to get out of this place. I was talking to my agency and got sent to NY to redo a rendition of Cats. Then my lawyer was all like I need to go back to North Carolina for one month. My dad stole money from me got rushed to the hospital and signed over guardianship to the state and now I don’t want to be involved with this shit. My grandmother kicked me out even though I was only home for a week so I stayed with Liz. I have bronchitis now. Plus one of my friends who was salutatorian in high school just moved in with her boyfriend who got signed to a major league baseball team. The bitch is showing off her huge house and dog. What a bitch.
I was in this Hindu temple and there were five hundred flights of stairs. There are also thousands of little monkeys everywhere. Most of them are cute but all of them are super mean. They’re also ugly as fuck. The females have really big boobs. They had babies with them. If you even get closer to the babies, the mother ones with the big boobs were really mean. I was carrying soda up the mountain climbing halfway up the stairs. I was attacked by five monkeys. I don’t know why they attacked me but they’re grabbing at my soda. I believe it was coke. I think it was a normal coke. It would make an amazing commercial. They all grabbed my soda and they started chugging it. I was just sitting there watching them chug that coke. One was holding it and all of them were drinking from it. Two seconds later all of them started throwing it up. So on the other hand they didn’t actually enjoy the coke so it makes a really bad commercial. So then I get to the top of the temple. I was super dehydrated and dizzy and went in and out of consciousness. There was a fucking guy who sold fucking pictures with tourists by putting boa constrictors on their neck. It started to wrap around me and it makes me pass out. I fall over with this snake wrapped around me. It was awful. Did he apologize? All of the Hindu temple had to rush up. It took them ten minutes because there are only four hundred flights of stairs. I had to go to the doctor because I passed out with boa constrictor wrapped around my neck. It was around my body and I wasn’t really eating, so I was anorexic. I lived in the middle of the jungle. I was literally George George of the Jungle watch out for that tree. Not even Puerto Ricans would live in the jungles. That is so weird. How did you take a shower? Where did you put your makeup on? Where would you wash your panties? Where was the laundry. Do you just walk around with your tits hanging out. There’s a show on travel channel with a bunch of Africans who walk around with their tits hanging out.
The people who live in the jungle in Malaysia, there’s a name for them. The name of the people start with an O. Were you on drugs when you were in Malaysia. They eat these little berry things which ripen into alcohol and they’re really bad for you. They make you go insane. They don’t’ have any alcohol so that’s their way to substance abuse. Anyways, washing the panties part. The name of the people are the original people. The Islamic government tries to make them convert and to try to make them civilized so they randomly bring them random obnoxious things. It’s a jungle with huts and they’ll have a flat screen plasma screen. Only certain houses have electricity so they would have plasma TV and washing machine. And their neighbors would have dirt floors and there are a lot of monkeys walking around. And there are a lot of dogs and puppies. They were these jungle dogs. There are these really skinny dogs. The day we buried that woman there was this guy who was the village drunk. He doesn’t actually drink so he’s the village berry eater. So it was early in the morning when she died so we all had to sit around her. She was the first one to die. There weren’t any Walgreens. We didn’t know how sick she was. She was old and senile and wouldn’t accept any help. So anyways a couple of the guys were sitting there with us and they were praying. This guy he was just like talking nonsense, and he couldn’t speak English. He would just get up and started doing little dances around the living room. He was also trying to pick up the dead woman while everyone’s trying to bury her. He dropped her like five times while he was on the berries. I had to run from the Islamic government like seven times. Anytime there’s an American there they think everyone who’s white is a missionary.
The Cherokee people Is Native America somewhere in America? Where is Native America, are they from Brazil or something? Why do Catholics think they’re so different. Is it because their church has figurines? But seriously, Catholic churches are the bomb they are so decked out.
I nodded as her words enveloped me and I slipped in and out of consciousness. Something compelled me to stand up. I walked over to the edge of the balloon and looked outward. Right in front of us is a large looming form – taller than the tallest redwood and wide like a fortress. I could not see the details because of the darkness, but what I could make out was a highly detailed building outfitted with defenses and weaponry of every kind. There was no visible entrance or even a moat. It seemed the only way to enter was to enter from above. My mysterious savior pointed downward and slowly turned off the engine. We started our slow descent into the dark castle. I can only wonder what strange things await me – and why this mad castle seemed so familiar. Am I home?
When the balloon touched down, my friend whispered to me. I don’t belong here. Step out so I can leave. I obliged without thinking and she took off slowly. I worried that she would be detected by the owner of the castle but before a second thought can replace my initial she has risen above the walls and out into the distance. I waved to her like those bears wave to people driving by.
I was alone again in the darkness. This seems to be motif of my adventure thus far. My touchdown point was a central courtyard. There was a koi pond in a corner with no fish – a small stone bridge is over the pond arranged for purely decorative reasons. Some small shrub-like trees are placed in the shape of an X around the courtyard. There is a small temple in the center of the courtyard with a golden figure in the middle. The visage seems all too familiar but I’m unable to make out what it is. The statue looks too humanlike – unlike any deity I have ever seen. I have an eerie feeling that I’ve seen this statue before but there is nothing that comes to mind. There is no point in lingering, - I start to look for an exit. I push against something that looks like a sliding door. The wooden frame slides open, revealing a circular passageway. The light of torches illuminates the path. I take a deep breath and walk onward.
The passageway was unexpectedly un-passageway like. It’s as if someone rearranged an entire house into linear rooms. I passed by what seems to be living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, even back yards. Something catches my eye. Wait, this is the desk in my parents’ bedroom that I used to stick scotch tape on and rip off the wood-colored paint. And this was the nightstand that I used to stash pogs in. Some of the decoration seems directly transplanted from my childhood but other pieces are foreign. I half expect to run into my parents at the end of the tunnel. My steps quicken. I had to know what was going on here.
The tunnel ends in one last room. This was my eighth grade science classroom when I got detention for sticking an Oreo on my forehead. My seventh grade science teacher came in and tag-team lectured me on how much of a pain in the ass I was. A few weeks later I would move across to another town. That day still left an impression with me – where I remember being talked about in front of me as if I wasn’t there. To this day I have no idea if it was a psychological tactic or a slight bout of immaturity on their parts. Perhaps it was the promise that I had failed to fulfill. It was also one of the first major things I couldn’t finish – to this day I’ve never had a chance to fix things. A part of me wants to find those two middle aged women and show them that everything turned out okay – a bit presumptuous they would even care or that they still remember me. In this room there’s one more door. I turned the knob and open it slowly.
I’m back in New York City, on the edge of Central Park walking across on one of the few cross-park roads. I have in my hands two bags – one which contains blankets and the other which had some blueberries and one solitary flower. This was dejavu. I walked underneath the bridge and the tunnels illuminated by rows of lights. I remember seeing this moment in a vision and even the now crumbling flower. This walk was dreamlike in quality but a dark sense of foreboding filled me with every step. This was a dumb idea.
I was inviting in the horrors.
I looked down at my friend CR and his half eaten chicken nuggets. You know you can peel these things off, sometimes you get a prize. I take the left strip off, Vermont, and the right one, Connecticut. Fuck, I said, this was a major setback.
I found out a few days that the term basket case used to refer to a mentally unstable person comes from trench warfare. Some soldiers lost so many limbs they had to be carried off the field in a giant basket. The mental problems that followed caused the term to be a mainstay.
One of the fundamentals of spirituality is performing a task not for external reward but for one’s own satisfaction. This was one of the impetus and giant obstacles of performing a feat such as this in which one of the horrors is that absolutely no one gives a shit or appreciates how difficult it is to be successful even when almost everything written is a direct brain spill and perfect material for psychoanalysis. When you do something for yourself it is purely yours. If you do something for others or for approval or for money you can fall back on the claim that you were putting on a show or conforming to a certain standard of behavior or being ironic in order to obtain the necessary response whether it be a pat on the head, money, or something to laugh so uproariously that it disturbs the class and lands you in discussion.
It is the vulnerability of doing something for oneself and not for others that makes this kind of writing difficult to bear. It is in a way a mutation of the purpose of writing which is naturally intended to be communicative and represent some exchange between two people in the form of language that now in this case is meant for only one person to digest a self dialogue. This is the strange step-sister of language which in some senses is barely language at all but an intense spiritual and psychological cleansing so all of one’s demons are spilled out into one place never to be investigated or touched again. The abject horror of being ridiculed or dismissed or ignored to be trivial is one which is the reason why I push forward with this project. It is a cathartic spill that is why this exercise ultimately merits a revisiting apart from simply setting up a task and accomplishing it because one sets out to accomplish something. Which also creates a very good precedence for behavior but even that seems on the border of external reward which is not the spiritual answer.
I never get to the rocks which was a good place to sit but not a great place to watch the sunrise. The fields grow faster than I can walk. The day coming too soon and suddenly the darkness is pulled away like a tablecloth – leaving a grassy field with wild flowers everywhere the eye can see. There are no boundaries to the field. The New York skyline has vanished. I was stuck in a dessert of grass and foliage. There are no landmarks. I pick a direction arbitrarily and pray for the best as I continue on my journey. I needed a shower, my clothes were beginning to smell. I also felt distinctly malnourished and thirsty – having no food or water throughout this entire epic journey. I walk like this for another 10 hours or so before collapsing out of malnourishment.
To my surprise all the flowers have turned into bowls of corn flakes. Cornflakes everywhere I can see. I pick up the bowl and start eating. It tasted like normal corn flakes nothing remarkable really. But what was remarkable is that I snapped back to reality inside a house. My friend’s house from way back. Throughout the years we had grown apart despite more than a decade of friendship. A part of this saddens me. I look for him but he’s nowhere to be found. And then I remember that he’s in California trying to make his way as a “writer.” Which is code for slumming around, smoking gratuitous amounts of weed, and living week to week off of side jobs. He’s now considering joining the army and needs a recommendation from me – the only reason he called after almost 3 years of silence. I wondered if things would have turned out the same way if we had stayed in touch. A part of me will never know, but a part of me thinks definitely yes.
It’s a strange phenomenon to me. As I sit in the living room, staring into the unlit TV screen. It’s a strange phenomenon how differently my friends turned out when their circumstances were so similar to mine at some point. There is so much that can change from one small insignificant decisions or one smart decision of moving from one town to another that set in motion a cascading series of events which has led to the world being the way it is – which it is safe to say has enough indiosyncracies and major defects that it is by no means an accomplishment to create. But to ponder the version of myself wandering another timeline through another set of initial conditions having chosen every other possible scenario of options across every timeline every dreams and every nightmares. I wonder how these versions of myself are doing, whether they’re better or worse off than I am and how everyone else is doing. There is at least one version of me that turned into a mime. That’s pretty heavy.
I turn around from the living room and head to the front door. The roving nonsequential journey was coming to an end and on my terms. I opened the front door and walked outside. I was in the woods in my childhood town. I catch a glimpse of a place I haven’t been to in almost two decades. I remember the day my friend C unabashedly invited me to his house, which was a trailer in the middle of the woods. I remember being shocked that he didn’t have telephones and that there was a room that was narrow as the width of his shoulders. He lived there with his parents and brother.
I walked towards the trailer, expecting my childhood friend to pop out with his wireframe glasses and his box full of basketball cards. There was no one there. The sky is overcast as light rain begins to fall. The grass feels unnaturally stiff. I walk up to the trailer and open the door. It is pitch black inside. I called to my friend. There was no answer. I reach inside for a light switch but someone grabs my arm and pulls me in. The door shuts behind me.
K continues to float in her balloon heading to her home, now a mix between NYC and North Carolina with a bit of Malaysia thrown in there. She feels the timeline progression tug at her heartstrings. She was approaching a decisive moment. She could feel the energy in the air. As she floated, a bubble of time surrounds her balloon, keeping it shielded from the vastly evolving landscapes around her. What seemed like a field just a minute ago turned into a town in front of her eyes. What used to be a town, turned into ruins. A blockade of ships appeared in the harbor. A slow fire spread through the buildings. A huge shadow fell on her balloon. She looked up and acknowledged another hot air balloon floating over here.
She looks up. A bullet has gone straight through her balloon. The bubble pops and she begins to descend towards the harbor. The ricochet hits the balloon above her and a pool of fish water drips down into her basket from above. Gross. She wipes the slime off of her face.
As she descended towards the harbor she noticed something peculiar. No one was paying attention to her balloon yet shots continue to fire at the balloon above her, decorated in the most offensively gaudy way. A lone pilot draws a sword and grabs the edge of his basket as he prepares to crash into the woods below. K watches in awe. This seems oddly familiar and yet different. The balloon above her crashes into a tree as she continues to descend past the ships and into a clearing. When her balloon touches down, K immediately disembarks and hides in the surrounding bushes, watching as a chase begins to take place between the crew of the ships and the pilot who runs not twenty feet away from her towards a silver house in the distance. She ducks her head as a group of fifty buccaneers run past her bush carrying weapons of various sorts.
She ducks down, breathing heavily. The commotion dies down and she sits, leaning against the bush – careful not to give away her position. Suddenly, in the midst of the calm K felt a punctuating sensation within her chest – as if someone stuck a phantom fireplace poker through her heart and twisted it about. She lets out a sharp gasp. The pain turns into a dull ache and she feels her breathing becoming more labored. Everything turns red tinted in front of her eyes. She felt her life force exiting her body. And just as sudden, the feeling was gone.
K stands up, dusting herself off. She was no longer in the woods.
It is dark. It is cramped. Where am I? Why does everything smell like peanut butter and rye bread? I am obviously not within the trailer as there is not enough leg room to do anything but lie in a fetal position. Wait, I hear someone. I quiet my breath and put my ears to the wall of my prison. Someone is here. They’ve thrown the door open and is now breathing heavily on the other side. What could be going on here? I wish there was a way to light up this space. I knock on the wall gently and wait for a response.
I hear footsteps approaching. A pause. Rushed footsteps away from the wall. There’s a struggle. Someone falls. The crash reverberates the floor inside this small room. This is followed by a second crash and quick footsteps away. After that, complete silence. Deadening all-engulfing silence and darkness.
Do you want a napkin? Nope, nope I’m clean. There is an excessive amount of mayonnaise on her face. She just finished doing some couch-side acrobatics. To make a chapter out of a drunken four A.M. goofing off fest is only appropriate when the subject of the matter is an enigmatic figure which if one was to be reductionist unfolds into a very simple premise. The search for romance and acceptance in a word that trivializes human relationships and so in that sense deconstructs a person into one sentence. Almost a murder of a sort. However without paring down everything to this essence causes almost a distracting number of details many of which detract from the core essence of humankind. The idea that we are all lost children and orphans trying to find each other through the haze whether it is through a chase, through violence, through chance encounter, or near misses. Or whether our very presence in a room affects the nature of interactions around that room and the course of destiny for many people involved way beyond the purview of the immediate. This is the crystalline structure of humanity’s interdependence which ironically still collapses just like the most beautiful crystal structures can break into one or two different kind of atoms in repeated lattices.
The transition from romantic interest to pure friendship and care is not as most portray it of being in a zone where friendship frustrates sexual advances. It is actually at times the organic growth of the goodness in one’s interactions with others that blossom into a purely giving relationship which albeit could be sexual at times is simply the aspect which the other person needs – which in this case is someone who is genuinely concerned with one’s well-being and is able to form those bonds of friendship without ulterior motives. This is the strange and unique experience between two people so voluntarily stuck in the friendzone it resembles some weird asexual couple where neither feels pressure from the other in any regard. This is the purity of what some needs and everyone seeks in some measure or others. This would also be the underpinning which unravels the isolation which has locked those in a prison of their own desires. To transcend beyond the bodily attraction and refocusing on the spiritual connection. This is the key that is lost and the solution to so much more.
Centuries go by and I gradually slip into a form of madness. As almost a sick experiment to do with some in solitary confinement to understand exactly at what point one’s own mind drives itself mad which in some sense is a poetic result from too much of one’s unadulterated existence. Adulteration much like sex, or how oxidation both kills and replenishes organic material is the strange paradox which suggests that immortality is a form of death and all life must always be fleeting, impure, and in the process of blending and regrouping back into the source in a literal melting pot of spiritual and organic matter only to be reformed and redistributed into forms guided by the direction of evolutionary and social progress.
But just as a stagnant pond grows sour and becomes breeding ground for diseases, so does a stagnant brain devoid of external impetus and stimulation grow rife with diseases of the mind. The corruption creates a sphere which distorts the space around me. I am the terror in the cupboard – the secret behind the cast iron safe. Now the question is, how possible is this alternative timeline – to say that both one evolved a form of immortality and that one is able to remain intact in an environment which is pseudo-vacuumed. To say that in the infinite possibilities of the universe the unique arrangement of matter which creates this circumstance does exist as a finite set and to say this entire scenario is feasible in escalation depending on the energetic level of existence and the level of chaos is to say resounded Yes, and almost with a hundred percent certainty this destiny is occurring somewhere somehow in the unfathomable depth of the multiversal existence. Yes right now, currently. As in all possible fictional works are contained within the all encompassing Reality which accounted for every single possible iterations of every possible ending. Making every single instance of existence infinitesimally small but at the same time strangely valuable unique and beautiful in its fleeting rarity.
In this regard the fact that I am typing the sentence is less likely than winning the lottery a trillion times in a row in the sense that at every given instance in the universe a near-infinite set of probabilities is being multiplied by another near-infinite set of probabilities. And that fate which has already guaranteed the composition of this paragraph has guided this time-path this far, already affecting and intersecting the fates of at least ten people directly and indirectly hundreds through the influence of social media. That virus of destiny will then spread from those hundreds of people to cascade an effect in the millions and then the billions. I can almost hear the groan of the axis of the Universe shift as I am typing this sentence. People who would have been born are no longer and those who might have failed could now succeed or vice versa. To know the net benefit or harm of each action is a privilege best left unattained lest it frightens humanity from committing any action making all freedom obsolete. If measuring ever becomes that good then all hope is lost for a human society that’s not overrun with computational advanced robots which if ever to gain a utility edge on human beings with every decision would ultimately win out over humans perhaps very rapidly depending on how quickly that utility edge compounds.
These are the thoughts that run on repeat in a mind that is so full and saturated with its own self worth. The only thing keeping myself off the deepest of the deep ends are some memories which the mind is able to split and divide into a critical side and a perception side. To feel the left and right lobes of the brain uncouple and argue with each other is the best simulation of a social experience for someone in such a predicament as becoming the terror in the cupboard.
It is a strange a wonderful feeling and phenomenon to be able to recall any thought, feeling, or experience at will and to react strongly to everything. To distill raw emotional response for all of your actions and to look deeper inside yourself for understanding. These are the meditational practices which have at this point largely saved my life and reaffirmed a greater reality that is benevolent and looking after the obtuse and hazardous organo-physical world we dwell in.
The power of the medicine is such that it forces out several layers of thought buried under the active psyche. One layer of thought are truths that are felt but not described clearly. The other layer of thought are truths which are hidden by denial and/or are actively ignored in favor of maintaining a self-image that is different from reality. Thus an uncoupling within oneself in which one’s actions and physical attributes are mismatched with the expected results and responses from the external world. This division within oneself is ironically impossible to detect unless full uncoupling happens – allowing for a real conversation between the two bodies. Whereas in typical fashion one attempts to assimilate the other and disguise the other half as subordinate sides of the same puzzle. In fact they are not.
This is also why under the influence of the medicine one can learn lessons which bring much happiness and truths which can cause a great deal of distress. Both are necessary for the healing – just as when I was a child I took cold medicine always with a sugar coating. But like a fool when I ever were to bite down and crack the candy shell or take too long to swallow the pills – the bitterness on the inside would inevitable fill my mouth with what tasted like poison. Such is the sweet bitter pill of knowledge. It is the only way to heal.
The other aspect of this process is the understanding that self-healing and unification of one’s own identity is necessary before one can understand others. And that any kind of relationship based on a false premise lacks the strength of a relationship in which one understands the other party fully and has an objective and truthful view about oneself and how other people perceive one. Consequently – the hatred and disdain one has for others is often derived from self-disdain and perceived inadequacies which are insecurities for the person. The most insecure people tend to criticize the most out of habit in order to disguise one’s own shortcomings. This is a truth that is learned through experience and cannot really be taught as convincingly.
I write and write. Every single thought every abstraction. Every dream and every delusion. I write it all. There is an endless number of pages and a pencil which never needs sharpening. As long as I was in darkness, I wrote to stay sane, by candlelight, or sometimes no light at all.
K is no longer in the woods. She stands on a ranch in the middle of a small town somewhere in Brazil. Her family had recently brought the property and the adjacent copper mine. Her dad was in the copper business and had set up several mines throughout North and South America. He was extremely optimistic about this location and had purchased the mine at a pittance. What he doesn’t realize is that there is a problem with criminals in the area and that this territory is under the control of a notorious gang of banditos called Los Gatos.
Los Gatos was led by a man with an extremely impressive handlebar mustache – Pedro. Pedro is a very educated man who fell into a life of crime after becoming disillusioned with the government – which is often more corrupt than the petty thieves, prostitutes, and drug dealers that populate his town. Instead of helping serve a system that was not doing anything for the common man – Pedro grew an enormous mustache and decided to fight back, bringing onboard some of the local thugs and his close friends as generals of the operation. Together they prospered and the government feared them. They operated a bit like a NGO just like any spaghetti western – in the sense that they cared about the common folks and regularly provided the basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter to them when all the government wants to do is tax away their income. As such Los Gatos was a very popular criminal organization in the area and there was no stopping them. In fact the government had pulled out almost all the state sponsored police forces since their authority had no weight to any of the locals and they were regularly harassed and kidnapped by the criminal organization. Instead, they begrudgingly let the local gang operate their own private police force – which incidentally had been functioning better than most of the state run police forces in adjacent areas. There was peace and a delicate balance of power. All this would change when K’s family moved into the area.
Gringos is what the people called outsiders – especially a family as white as K’s family. Her dad was an industrialist from the North and her mom a southern lady. The two stood out like salt shakers. K herself feared the locals and had very little contact with them. She was having separation anxiety from her boyfriend back home who months into her move wrote her a letter declaring his love for another – thus ending what was supposedly a perfect match – in that the young man’s parents operated a railroad line and once you own railroads and utilities you have some meager power on a Monopoly board.
Los Gatos immediately targeted the family who they saw were spoiled, rich, and outsiders who did not care for the customs of the locals. They regularly harassed the family with threats, egged and TP’d the house, slaughtered their livestock, and hijacked several wagons of produce going to the mineworkers. Seeing no resistance, they started getting more and more aggressive, breaking into the house to steal valuable art, holding up K-Father at gunpoint to rob him of his watch, wallet, and coat, and charging them protection money on the threat that they would try to harm the family’s only daughter. These tactics worked for more than a year and the gang grew enormously wealthy at the family’s expense – which despite the cajoling of family members and friends alike – refused to move away from the area and was determined to see the mine operation through.
This caused some to speculate that there was in fact more copper in the land than was previously estimated and so that locking in this area was worth it for the family to endure the daily abuse. This was partially true, however, what was also true is that K-Father is an ex-military technician and during the course of the year was developing weaponry in his garage to defend his family from the gang of rogues.
On Thursday when the sun was highest in the sky, a typical raid on K’s family’s farm resulted in an unexpected outcome. When one of the underlings of the gang knocked on the door with pistol in hand to collect protection money, K-Father brought out his turret from the garage and leaned it against the front door. On the count of three, he opened the door and fired the large caliber automatic weapon – nearly cutting the bandit in half with its force. The result was so gruesome the family could not leave the house for the next two days, not until their caretaker scraped every last bit of flesh off of their front step – a process that took the better half of the week.
Whereas Los Gatos had little regard for the typical underling, there was something unusual about the young man K-Father attacked. What he didn’t know at the time is that the underling bandit was actually Pedro’s right hand man Sanchez’s younger brother – who was only 17 at the time. Unknowingly, K-Father had started a war.
Enraged, Sanchez sent a group of 20 bandits to K’s house at the dead of night. With revenge in his mind, he broke in the house, held up the entire family at gunpoint. They ransacked the house, taking everything they could and setting the rest on fire. The couple was left tied up to posts blindfolded halfway between the ruins of their house and the copper mine. Sanchez also took K away on horseback. You will never see her again, he promised, even if you survive this. The 20 gang members carried back close to $1 million worth of valuables as well as the automatic weapons that K-Father spent close to a year developing. That night the gang toasted to the memory of Sanchez’s younger brother. K was left tied up in the wagon. Eventually, exhausted, she fell asleep awaiting fate at the hands of the vengeful bandits – who all but forgot about her that night.
It wasn’t until the next day afternoon when a delivery boy who luckily got lost traveling his typical delivery route - found the couple and untied them. Frantic, they petitioned the governor to send the militia after the gang – to which they received only a formal apology and a message about how his hands are tied. K-Father petitioned the governor in an adjacent territory and even borrowed money from his brother to send as a bribe. He received a similar letter. The money was kept.
A haggard messenger delivered a notice to the couple to their hotel room. It was from Pedro. He promised the safe return of their daughter upon one condition – that the family would transfer ownership of the copper mine irreversibly to him and his gang – that all the workers would be retained by the family and paid out by the family – and that K-Father ride to the camp to pick her up wearing nothing but his underwear and a bow in his hair. Seeing this letter, K-Father was enraged. But choice did he have? He cared more about his daughter than the copper and even his dignity. He was prepared to get her back next day morning.
K-Father spent the night drinking at the hotel bar. After the eighth or ninth drink, he began to loudly lament about his fate and to curse the names of the prominent members in Los Gatos – saying every possible foul name in the book and spitting in his drink. What he didn’t realize was that there was a man listening to his story from the shadows – a man wearing a poncho and a large sombrero – the festive kind like when you have to dance around a sombrero. He introduced himself as Lucent and gave K-Father his deepest sympathies. He also revealed an interesting fact about himself. His brother once joined Los Gatos and was killed during a job. Instead of honoring his death, the gang left his body in the middle of the desert and his death was never mentioned nor was his family compensated for their loss. As a result he joined Los Gatos himself as a way to get close to Pedro so he can eventually get his revenge. He recommended that K-Father send a message back asking for a delay of two days in order to best prepare for the smooth transition of ownership. Plus as a way to appease them to offer an additional $1 million on top of the deal so that they can afford to wait.
During that time he would train the mine workers to use their guns and setup an ambush. The day before the exchange he will lure Pedro away from the others into the ambush. During the confusion, he will take K and return her to her father. Desperate, K-Father agreed to all of Lucent’s terms. He told Lucent the location of his mine and gave him all the money necessary to purchase arms to outfit his workers.
K had no idea where she was. She expected a desert, but all she can see is greenery. The territory of Los Gatos is fertile and beautiful. She saw workers growing crops, others tending to livestock, and some working as blacksmiths and cobblers. They had a mini-village of their own and everyone looked perfectly content. When she asked one of the shoe-shiners whether he was a fellow captive like her – he laughed and told her that he was actually saved from being wrongfully executed. All his life he had been treated like trash because of the way he looks. The large birthmark on his face was also read a sign of evil and he never had a chance to find proper employment. Los Gatos was the only group of people to accept him and paid him extremely well for the kind of job he’s doing. In fact they offered to train him to be a cobbler and it was he who refused saying he was perfectly happy just shining shoes.
K found this astonishing. This was not the band of bloodthirsty thieves she thought them to be – and a week into her captivity she had been treated relatively well. The only one who looks at her with contempt is Sanchez. Most other people generally ignore her but the women in their small village flock around her, eager to learn about her life, and what it’s like to be in America. The men find this amusing, and that is the extent of their interactions. There is only one man who continually talks to her – a man in his late twenties with dark brown hair and a wooly mustache. He speaks with a slight accent that’s unlike anyone else in the territory and is the only one who appreciates her knowledge of fine arts and literature. Throughout the course of the month, the two become close friends and he began to look out for her more and more – sneaking her new clothes, fresh produce, and even taking her on walks and shows being performed within their small village.
Unexpectedly or perhaps inevitably, Pedro the gang leader had fallen for the young mistress – who by most standards was attractive but on the plain side. There were far better looking women in the village but few with the refinement that K possesses. Something about the way she talked and her manners really captivated Pedro and reminded him of the women from back home – Sicily where he was originally from. He made everyone else in his gang promise not to address him by name during the course of K’s captivity and snuck around mainly to avoid Sanchez’s spite. But of course, Sanchez is slowly realizing Pedro’s feelings toward their abductee. When the subject comes up he snarls ever slightly but remains silent.
However, the more spent time with K the more he realized that no matter what she would not be happy apart from her family. With a heavy heart he decided that he would have to let her return. So he penned a letter – informing K’s family that he would be returning her home unharmed and for K-Father to arrive alone to pick her up the next day. He also promised to return some of their belongings. After this letter was completed he gave it to one of his subordinates to seal and deliver to K’s family – who he found to be staying at a nearby hotel. Seeing this transpire, Sanchez intercepts the subordinate and demands to see the letter. When he reads the letter, he feels a wave of nausea. Pedro, who is disgustingly soft, has shown his true color. Not only did he have no regard for the death of Sanchez’s brother, but he is trying to use the rightful possessions of the Los Gatos to appease his new girlfriend. Disgusting. Sanchez rips the letter to shreds and sends the subordinate away. If you ever tell Pedro I ripped this letter up I’m going to have you nailed to the side of that barn. The subordinate nods fearfully and walks off.
With pen in hand Sanchez writes his own version of the letter – demanding more from K’s family and for him to prostrate himself for her safe return. When he arrives, Sanchez decides – I’m going to personally put a bullet between his eyes. This isn’t over until I say so and it’s going to be when someone dies. Sanchez signs the letter under Pedro’s name seals it and gives it to his own subordinate to deliver. He then leaves for his private hut and spends the rest of the night polishing his pistols and cleaning his holster. Tomorrow was going to be a big day. I’m going to show these fools the difference between a coward and a real man.
When Pedro receives the reply from K-Father he was perplexed. The letter seemed unusually formal, ungrateful, and seemed like an effort to renegotiate terms. What could have been lost in translation? He expected a quick exchange but this was being drawn out. Something was wrong, but he can’t figure out what. He is relieved he didn’t spoil the surprise by telling K she was going home. It’s best not to tell her until it’s confirmed he decides. I don’t want to worry her any more than I have already. Before he can think anymore on the subject, he sees K at his doorstep in her new festive beaded gowns – a personal gift from him to her. Are you ready? She asks. Oh yes, he was supposed to have dinner with her under the moonlight. One second, he replied. Let me see if my master needs me. Pedro gestures towards the old blacksmith who he adopted as his “master” to make K think he was nothing but an honest tradesman. Sighing with a roll of his eyes, the old blacksmith gives Pedro the thumbs up. You’re free to go young man.
I don’t quite remember how I got here. It’s been so long I feel like I’ve lived in this place my whole life. But honestly, a part of me misses my family. I wish I could bring them over here so they can see how amazing everything is.
Pedro nods. If only things were that simple. There was no way they would accept him as he is, and there’s no way his people would accept the K’s as part of their village. He lies. Yes, that would be great. I’m sure someday that’ll become a reality.
K smiles. She felt extremely safe with Pedro. He wasn’t like the bandits. He was a real gentleman with a real trade who never has to kill to make a living. He had principles – not like them, who steals from the helpless to feed their own ambitions. Despite befriending many of them, she still loathes them and fears them. At their core they are still animals. She doesn’t think she could ever trust any of the bandits.
Pedro raises his glass. K doesn’t respond. He looks at her, concerned. K what has you so worried? Raise your glass with me, enjoy the night. You never know what’ll happen tomorrow. The moment is all we really have. K nods. He was right. She was letting her worries distract her from what was real – the stars in the sky, the soft grassy fields, and the man she was starting feel deep bonds with. She looks and points at the sky. Hey look, a meteorite.
This was not the way Sanchez imagined things would happen. He took every measure to prevent this event from ever transpiring but like all inevitable events, it inevitably happened. Sanchez, said Pedro through clenched teeth, what is this? You have been murdering innocent people to grab their land? This is not our way.
That fool. He doesn’t understand the value of this territory, of what can be gotten from the soil in the ground. Sanchez knows Pedro won’t understand that it’s simple business. There is no one stopping them. They are the law. This is a chance to make enough money to buy a country, yet Pedro is too blind to see it. Pedro, you fool I’m talking about real gold. He grabs a small nugget from his desk. Look at this. This is near the surface. Think about how much is further underground. We can live as kings. Do you want to keep running a gang or do you want to be the most powerful entity in all of South America? Maybe even the world? Do you not see this you fool?
Pedro facepalms. He’s exhausted. I can’t hear any more of this he says to Sanchez. Take your men and leave. I’m done with you. Do whatever you want but leave me out of this. This is not our way. Pedro turns his back and hunches over. His face turns pale and he looks as if he is about to throw up. Regaining his composure he turns around quickly and looks back at Sanchez. There is not much else to say. You’ve done enough. We’re no longer partners. Please take your men and leave.
Sanchez was shocked. But he has seen this coming years ago. He never wanted to be partners with Pedro. He just needed more time before he can take over the whole operations. Pedro was always the one in the way, who tried to hold back how much they can take, who they can take from, how quickly they can grow. Pedro was the reason why they were so weak and never moved beyond this small territory ever since the gang was formed seven years ago. Pedro had no aspirations to expand, to grow. He was stagnating and it was a matter of time before Sanchez had to prune him, but not now. He still had control over the vast majority of Los Gatos. Without his men, Sanchez’s force is crippled. Plus, he thought, Pedro might even compete with us or interfere with our operations. Okay, Pedro. Whatever you say. But listen to me brother. You’re going to regret this day. When I leave I leave forever. I’m not coming back, you hear me?
Pedro nodded. His mind was set. He can no longer afford to deal with such a true Ruffian as Sanchez. The peace of mind alone would be worth it. Plus, there’s no way Sanchez can set out on his own. His men are too few and they’re all thieves not skilled laborers. There’s no way he can survive out there on his own for long. He’ll have to come around and come crawling back. This will be good as a learning experience for Sanchez. He’ll understand why Pedro’s focus is not looting but on building his village and the sense of community. He needs us more than we need him. Pedro yells to the gateskeeper. Open the gates.
Just like that Sanchez and his 30 men rode off into the sunset. When they’re out of earshot, Sanchez’s lieutenant Pablo says to him. Sir, where are we riding to? Should we find a place to settle down nearby? No need, says Sanchez, let’s setup camp here. I suspect this’ll blow over a lot quicker than expected. He climbs off his horse and scratches a circle with his boot. Sit here, shut up, and watch.
Pedro woke up to the sound of gunfire and the screams of his people. He immediately sprang to his feet and peeked outside the window of his house. At first he thought Sanchez had come back to take revenge. Upon closer look he saw that the invaders were not bandits but ordinary looking men – mine workers, all armed with rifles. At the head of the charge was a man that looked familiar. It was Lucent, the new guy in Sanchez’s group. Rewinding to the day past, he recalled feeling that someone wasn’t present during his clash with Sanchez. Lucent. That traitor.
Pedro grabs his pistols from underneath his bed and sneaks through the backdoor. A cache of his men took refuge inside the small basement storage area for the dining lodge. How many of us are left he asks? About 50 sir. The rest have died or have escaped the village. Pedro looks at his group. No one else is armed. This was looking bad. By this time Sanchez’s group is long gone. They had no hope of getting reinforcements. Pedro peeks outside at the advancing mineworkers – now firing their weapons wildly in the air in celebration. His heart sank when he thinks about how many people must have perished in order for them to believe that they had won. He reaches put and puts a hand on the shoulder of a man named Rodrigo. Rodrigo, lead these men out to the back. Take the horses that are left, double up if you have to. Ride for Sanchez’s group. They are still your brothers. They’ll take you in. I will surrender. It is me they want.
Pedro’s men look scared. They hesitate. It is moments like these where men prove their bravery by sticking with their leader. A few of his men shake their heads slowly. No one budges. Pedro takes a pistol and slowly lowers it to Rodrigo’s head. Rodrigo, I’ll give you till the count of five to leave. If you don’t I’m blowing your head clean off.
Rodrigo stares at the gun and freezes. His eyes wide. 5. He looks around at the other men. They look back at him glumly. 4. Rodrigo no longer looks scared. He stares Pedro straight in the eyes. 3. He takes his hand and places it over Pedro’s hand. His finger over Pedro’s trigger finger. Pedro steps back, alarmed. He tries to lift the gun but Rodrigo holds it in place. I know you’re not going to shoot me. You’re not like that. If you want to shoot me, I’ll have to make you shoot me. Rodrigo nods to Pedro, we are at 2 right now. Pedro sighs and lifts his hand, leaving the gun in Rodrigo’s hand. He then pulls out his other pistol and places it against his own head.
I’m going to count down from 3 this time. And you know I have no problems erasing my own head. Rodrigo stands up slowly. Okay stop, I get the point. He gestures towards the backdoor. Let’s move out. He grabs some of the other bandits and walks through. Pedro looks outside the window, waiting for them to get to the stable before sighing a breath of relief. He knew that once K-Father’s men found him it would be over. These were not killers, or professional mercenaries. He knew K’s family didn’t want a bloodbath. They just wanted their daughter back, and maybe his head on a platter. He smiles grimly and picks up a plate. I’m ready.
Lucent searches through Pedro’s house, overturning furniture, looking under beds, cupboards, crevasses. His hands fumbling for a secret switch, some hidden compartment behind a wall, anything. Fuck. By this time he has surely escaped. Maybe he wasn’t here to begin with. Lucent looks at the bed. No he was definitely here. It seems like our little skirmish woke him up. He walks back to the front area and looks up the stairs. With a gun in hand he makes his way slowly up the mahogany staircase. His back against the right wall as he ascends into the study area. It is vitally important for his plan to work to find Pedro before K’s family does. There is a bit of information which has eluded Lucent from the start. One last piece of the puzzle. It’s so close he can taste it. Sure he took a gamble by telling the mine workers to shoot anyone on sight even though most of the villagers would be unarmed. There is a chance Pedro is already dead, but given everything he knows about Pedro, this was nearly impossible. This guy was a slippery eel. He wouldn’t go down that easily.
As Lucent turns a corner he hears a familiar voice. Hello Lucent. It was Pedro. He had his trademark matchlock pistol against Lucent’s back. What the fuck Pedro did you crawl through a window or something? No said Pedro. There is a tunnel that runs under my house and the basement of every building in the village. This is something only me and a handful of my men would know – not a new recruit like you. So, before I kill you. Tell me, what is it you’re looking for up here. Lucent turns around slowly with his hands in the air. Pedro, it’s game over. You’re surrounded. It won’t be long before my men run up in here and take you straight to the gallows. Your destiny is certain. But mine isn’t. Tell me the location of the cave where you keep your heirloom. I know only you know. I’ve been on that trip before. Do you know how unpleasant it is riding blindfolded for six hours? Having to be led like a small girl on a pony ranch? What’s all that money good to you now. You’re a dead man. Pedro frowned slightly. I really despise men like you. He pulls the trigger. A single bullet pierces Lucent’s stomach. He collapses as blood drains out of his body, soaking his dress shirt, and dripping into a small pool on the wooden floor. He passes into unconsciousness. Pedro hears voices downstairs. The small army of miners was upon him. Thinking quickly, he throws his pistol out of the window. He then rips a scrap of cloth from his shirt and wraps it tightly around Lucent’s abdomen.
He then presses down to stop the bleeding. He hears the voices grow louder. Over here, he yells. Before he can even turn around he can feel the warm barrel of a rifle against the back of his head. Help this man, he says to the miners. I think he’s still alive. Confused, some of the miners lower their guns while others keep their guns pointed at Pedro’s head. One miner says, Lucent says all of these guys are armed. I’d rather be safe than sorry what’s another dead bandit asshole anyways. The other miner nods and cocks back his rifle. Wait! a voice rings out. Don’t shoot him, he’s not a bandit. He’s a blacksmith! Pedro smiled to himself. Lady Madonna, she’s come to save me. K runs into the room with her father. Daddy this is the man who’s been helping me in here. Can we take him back as a guest? K-Father looks skeptical. This guy looks like every other bandit in this place. But looking at his daughter’s pleading eyes he sighs. Okay, it’s you’re lucky day fellow. He motions to one of the miners. Get this guy a horse before I change my mind. Unable to restrain herself any further, K throws her arms around Pedro. I’m so glad you’re okay…wait I never actually got your name. Call me Pato, he says. Standing up slowly. And if you don’t mind, tell your friends they can lower their weapons now.
See that? Sanchez motions to the black smoking rising over the village. I’m gone for a little over a day and Rome burns. His men nods. They can’t believe what they’re seeing. Wait, Pablo says to Sanchez, look over there sir. It looks like those raiders are coming towards us. Sanchez pushes his subordinate aside and looks over the distance. You idiot. That’s not the raiders.
Rodrigo rides up to camp. Something felt strange about Sanchez’s camp. In a day’s time they could have made it to the fertile valleys towards the east or at least the nearest town to restock on supplies. Why did they decide to setup camp so close? He dismounts and walks up to Sanchez, clasping his arm. Brother, we were under attack. A lot of people have died. Some have escaped, but now that everything burns I don’t know if they will return to us. Sanchez nods solemnly. Welcome to the winning team Rodrigo. If I had been at the village none of this would have happened. You guys got caught with your pants down. Typical. Just look at your pathetic leader, more distracted about a gringo girl that he is with you all. And look what happens. This is unforgivable. We will make the gringos pay and Pedro, if he survives, we will make him pay as well. Sanchez’s men cheers. Rodrigo and his men look around nervously. Rodrigo looks out into the distance. There is now an inferno over the village. He says to Sanchez, I saw Pedro get struck down by rifle fire. He’s gone. We will follow your lead and go with you to the ends of the Earth. Sanchez smiles, clasping Rodrigo’s shoulder. We’ll see about that, because that’s exactly where we’re going.
Pedro felt uneasy. He was suddenly demoted from the head of a major crime syndicate to a cross between a guest and a gardener. The other surprising revelation is that aside from Lucent no one on the ranch really knows his true identity. In fact, most of the people who could pick him out of a lineup were either dead or have defected to Sanchez. He was a nobody now. Just a guy who has the rudimentary skillsets of a blacksmith – from the weeks he pretended to be one. Now that Lucent was sent away to the hospital in the nearest city. Pedro had at least a month’s time before he has to devise another plan.
Pedro never quite got along with the rest of K’s family. They were nice but just didn’t seem like his kind of people – a bit too stiff and formal and lacking any real humanity. They were the kind of people who were hyper-conscious about how they appeared to others instead of taking time understand the people around them. It was hard living with people like that. Especially since in their eyes the only reason he had a meal ticket was because of K, who saw him both as the wonderful blacksmith apprentice who befriended her and as a form of escape from her upper class living. Oh and not to mention at this point Pedro was made to shave off his beard. Now, beardless, he looks very much like a proper gentleman – except betrayed by his years spent with ruffians, his manners and behavior often lacked in obvious ways. Pedro would still take opportunities to sneak her out of the house to walk along a nearby creek, to dine under the moonlight, and to ride horses together in the morning. Occasionally K’s parents would catch the two in the act, but there was little they could do. K-Father was too busy managing the copper mine, which was underperforming relative to his projections. K-Mother was in a deep depression – having been to long removed from her high society circle back home. Every day she would lament about the dirt, the people, and how everything just seems so bland. No one had the time to worry about K now that she was safe and sound. Pedro had her all to himself, by default.
As the two grew closer, each began to realize the litany of obstacles which prevented them from officiating their feelings for each other. K’s family would never approve and Pedro would not let himself bring her into his life of crime and violence. As it frequently happens, the frustrations surrounding their circumstances started to create a rift between them. Before long, the two were often in small fights over trivial matters. To the trained eye they started exhibiting all the symptoms of a real couple, but to them their proximity became something of a torture. Pedro and K could not stand each other but they couldn’t bear to be apart either. Hopeless, the two resorted to shadows to sneak small signs of affection – which betraying each of their better judgments - but it was a necessary violation which both healed and harmed them. It is as if two foragers on the brink of death were eating poisoned berries out of necessity even as it was slowly killing them both.
Vengeance was swift and hit hard. On the first Monday of October. Four mine workers were murdered during their commute to the mine. On the following Monday, a minor collapse in the mineshaft occurred, trapping 5 workers. The trigger was believed to be dynamite or some other sort of explosive. It wasn’t until three days later when the debris could be cleared and the miners saved. All of this caused K’s family to petition for a private militia to protect their assets. So far no one would dare take the job against even the remnants of the former Los Gatos gang. No amount of money worked. K-Father was hitting a wall and every day his workers are killed or who quit as a result.
Pedro overheard a conversation between the Mr and Mrs in their private study, while he was trying to find K in their house. K-Father expressed serious concern that they wouldn’t be able to sustain the copper mining operation for long. These bandits are going to ruin us, he said with dismay. Pedro knew Sanchez was behind all of this. But why? He knew Sanchez was too business minded to be motivated purely by revenge. He was using this as an opportunity to chase the K family off the mining property. The fact that he hasn’t attacked the family directly was suspect. There was something about the mines that no one was telling him. He remembered his last conversation with Sanchez. Could it be that these were not actually copper mines but gold mines? Was Sanchez scheming to strip the gold from K’s family’s land?
Pedro walks softly away from the door, undetected. Turning a corner, he runs right into K. My lady, he says. I would be honored if you follow me. Let’s take a walk along the brook. K obliges and the two walk off towards the woods. Once at a certain distance, Pedro takes K’s hand in his. The two walk like that for hours, talking about philosophy, arts, and literature. In the blink of an eye, the sun has begun to set. They have been wandering around the same spot for hours just talking. Pedro gestures back towards the house. Let’s get you home before your parents worry. He leads her back towards the house when he sees dark shadows approaching from the distance. He counted 7 of them. They were heading straight for the mansion. He takes K’s arm and says to her sternly, Stay right here and stay low. K obliges without question. Pedro sprints back into the house and runs up the stairs to the living room. He pulls a chair over by the fireplace and stands on it. Above his head is a mantelpiece that hangs a real hunting rifle, as well as one of the trophies – a moose head. He grabs the rifle and opens the chamber. It was loaded. Go figure.
By the light of the setting sun he recognizes the horses that were coming towards him. These were Sanchez’s men and all of them looked armed. He grabs the rifle and kneels by an open window. Setting the rifle on the window sill he takes aim and pulls the trigger. A gunshot rings through the air. One of the riders flinch and fall over. His partners bring their horses to a halt and circle their fallen friend’s body. Another gunshot rings through the air and a second rider falls.
The remaining five riders turn their horses around and gallop away from the house. The message had been sent. They will either return with more people or not return at all. Pedro hope it’s the latter. Cold sweat drops down his brown. I hope I didn’t like those guys, he thinks to himself. But he’s unable to remember who they were. Pedro climbs back on the chair and places the hunting rifle back on the mantelpiece. He then slumps into the chair, draws his knees up to his chest and thinks to himself. What allegiance do I owe these gringos that causes me to shoot at my own people? Was Sanchez right? Am I losing my mind? He sighs, lowering his legs back onto the floor. Before long, he hears the rush of footsteps upstairs. K-Father bursts through the door. Seeing Pedro sit underneath the mantelpiece he asks, were you the one who fired my hunting rifle? Yes, Pedro says. I fired two shots. There were bandits coming towards your house and they definitely weren’t here to sing a Christmas Carol. K-Father looks at him quizzically. Wait, are you making a joke out of this situation? Pedro nods, smiling slightly.
K-Father walks towards Pedro and puts a hand on his shoulder. You’re not afraid of these bandits are you. Pedro shakes his hand. I know them too well. They’re just like us. K-Father nods slowly. Work for me. Be our security. We’ll pay you anything you want, just make sure my daughter’s safe. Pedro grabs K-Father’s hand and brings it off his shoulder. For you and your family, I charge. I’ll protect your daughter for free. Pedro continues. Just one request. Get me a better gun than that. I’m not trying to shoot turkeys here. K-Father reaches forward and shakes Pedro’s hand. Deal, Pato. I’ll get you whatever you need.
Sanchez is fuming. You’re telling me that these gringos hired a bodyguard and he’s a good shot? How far away was he when he picked off our guys. About 300 feet, says Pablo. We were about 300 feet away from the house. This guy didn’t miss. What should we do now? Sanchez snaps. This is obvious. We have to crush him. Set an example. Anyone who works with the gringos is signing their own will. Grab ten of our men and meet me near the Northern gate with ammunition and flares. We’ll ride out when it’s dark. I heard they started to rebuild the ranch. I think it’s about time we give them a proper housewarming.
Sanchez’s bandits set out at night towards the K’s ranch. Their outlines formed silhouettes in front of the full moon. Sanchez motioned towards the ranch house. You four, go around the back. Kill everyone except the old man, his wife and daughter. You five, come with me. We’re going to pay our friends a visit.
Pedro wakes up in a cold sweat. Grabbing a small lantern, he walks towards K’s bedroom. Cracking the door he peers in. It was only a dream, he thought. She’s still here. Just as Pedro sighed in relief he hears the splintering of a door being kicked in. Motherfucker. He darts back into his room, grabs both of his new revolvers and waits at the top of staircase. The sound of broken glass and wood splintering fill the house, followed by the rumble of heavy footsteps on the ground floor. An assortment of objects hit the ground. Someone spills a bag of rice on the floor. One of the intruders downstairs yells check upstairs. Pedro kneels down and rechecks his ammunition. He had enough to work with. He holds his breath. They were coming upstairs.
K-Father wakes up to the sound of gunshots. Three gun shots to be exact, followed by sounds of a struggle and then a fourth gunshot and silence. Climbing out of bed, he walks out of his bedroom to investigate – pistol in hand. Oh my, he says, as he almost trips over a body. What is going on over here? K-Father bends down and feels the pulse of the fallen bandit. Dead. K-Father shakes his head. What a waste of youth. He squints in the dark, and walks towards the staircase with his pistol drawn. The elderly gentleman quiets his breath, hearing intently. The assailants were all dead.
K wakes up to a single gunshot and the sound of a body crumpling on the floor. She sits up, eyes wide, her blanket clutched tightly around her body. She slowly slinks back in bed, pulling the cover over here. The sound of heavy footsteps approach her door. The door swings open and her father pokes his head in, his gun at his side. K, just so you know there are intruders in the house. Please stay in your room and barricade it. I’m going to take your mom and create a barricade in our room. I just hope Pato can protect us. It’s all in his hands. I love you very much. With that said, he turned around briskly and exited back into the master bedroom. K hears the sound of a bolt locking in place followed by a latch, then the sound of oak furniture being dragged across the floor. She sighs. By the time my dad is preparing for the worst, the worst has definitely already happened. K throws the door open and walks towards Pato’s room. Pato, she whispers, are you in there? Before she knew it, she feels a gloved hand grab her face from behind. She panics and screams, but her voice is muffled by the assailant’s hand. A quick blow to the back of her head causes her to go limp. The world fades to black as she feels herself being carried off into the night.
Pedro wakes up with a jolt. Had he been dreaming? His felt a sharp pain in his ribs and looks down to see bandages around him. He looks over by the side of the bed and sees a roll of bloody bandages. How long had he been out? Why was he still alive? He tries really hard to remember, but nothing comes to him. All he can remember is a gunfight between him and some of Sanchez’s people. I guess it’s irrefutable that he was shot. Looking as his wound it was pretty bad.
Before long, a nurse walks by holding a tray of fresh bandages and a cold glass of water. Mr. Pato she says, my name is Anne I’m here to help you. Don’t be alarmed. Pedro looks puzzled. Yes I understand Anne. The nurse seems mildly surprised. So you finally came out of it. The last time I tried to change your bandages you were thrashing around like a fish out of water. It took two of our orderlies to hold you still and your wound opened again. If it wasn’t for our good doctor, you would have surely bled out again. She shakes her head. This guy was more trouble than it’s worth, but someone was paying them good money.
After finishing with his bandages, the nurse walks off. Before long a middle aged man walks in wearing a white coat. I’m the doctor, he announces. You’ve been in grave danger for the past few days, but now you should be able to return home. Make sure you rest for the next couple of weeks. Don’t engage in any strenuous activities. If you reopen your wounds again you run the risk of a major infection. I’ve seen patients with lesser wounds die from this. You should definitely be careful. Pedro nodded. He barely heard any word the good doctor said to him. He must find out what happened that night and whether K and her family is okay. The doctor said, almost psychically, don’t worry about getting home. Someone was sent here to pick you up. Wait just a moment while I get him. Expecting the caretaker, Pedro sits up. A sharp pain washes over him. His arms feel like jelly. How long had he been out? It feels like he had been in bed for weeks.
The doctor steps aside, revealing a tall man in a top hat. Sir, he says. Are you okay? Pedro blinks in surprise. This was Sanchez’s right hand man, Pablo. He instinctually reaches for his hips to notice, unsurprisingly, his pistols had been taken away from him. Pablo notices this and says calmly. There is no need to worry. I have been sent to escort you back home. Home, Pedro thinks? I’ve seen our home burn. Where is our home? he asks Pablo. Pablo looks seriously at him says. We are going to the ends of the earth. A horse has been arranged for you. It’ll take two or three days but when we get there it’ll all make sense when we get there. Pedro slowly climbs out of the hospital bed, wincing. And what if I refuse to come with you? Pablo looks at him seriously. Then you are not leaving this hospital. He nods over to the doctor who motions for the orderlies. Pedro recognizes them. They were two of Sanchez’s thugs. Pedro sighs. It wasn’t going to be easy. The only way to find out what happened and to find K is to go with them. He nods in agreement.
Pedro rides in the middle of the group of horses. Sanchez’s men are riding with their hands on their holsters. They look nervous, watching Pedro’s every move. He is calm. There’s no point in escaping. I need to know what’s going on here. They probably have K. The trip takes them over a mountain range and along the side of a river. They pass through a prairie and a field full of wild flowers. This land was unfamiliar to him. A part of him morbidly think they were fucking with him – and that they’re taking him somewhere scenic to execute him. At this point and ever since the last decade or so in his life he was at peace with the prospect of death. It’s hard to see your best friends get gunned down regularly growing up and still regard death with any ceremonious regard. It was something that was inevitable for everybody so why worry.
Soon, the band of bandits journey into a clearing. Pedro was astonished. There was a camp site that can easily hold a hundred people. This was more than just a camp. This was the home base to a major undertaking. In some regards it resembled the village that Pedro had painstaking constructed from the ground-up. However, unlike the village, there were no tradesman – just bandits and mine workers. Pedro looks around. There was no sight of any mine in any direction. It was Sanchez. He was obviously up to something. He looked noticed a mountain peak against the glow of sunset. He knows where he is now. They were located right outside of the K family copper mine. His captors had taken a roundabout way to it. Perhaps they were unfamiliar with the land or perhaps they were stalling for time. Something was up, but the fact that they haven’t summarily executed him yet was a good sign. He dismounts and walks towards one of the center tents. Pablo does not try to stop him. He barges into the center tent and sees an all too familiar sight. Sanchez is sitting there in a Mexican country style chair with a drink in hand. We’ve been expecting you Pedro. He turns around, gesturing to an empty seat. Sit down.
Pedro takes a seat adjacent to his former partner. I like what you’re doing with the place, he says. I don’t think I could have pulled this off. Sanchez takes a sip of his drink. Pedro, I appreciate your humility, and yes I agree. It is not like you to be able to run an operation like this one. However, I must confess. I am not doing this alone. On cue, another man walks through the back of the tent. Sanchez, the preparations are ready. The preparations are done. The man glances over to Pedro. Ah, Pedro old friend. How are you? Isn’t it ironic that the same doctor who removed the bullet from my stomach had just done the same for you? I heard you were confused when we came and got you. You don’t remember what happened do you. When we came into the mansion that night we tried to take you back with us. But you refused. You started shooting at our men and naturally we returned fire. You killed three of our best, but it seems you didn’t come out of it unscathed. He nodded to the bandages around Pedro’s torso. Do you know who put a bullet through your ribcage? Lucent studies Pedro carefully. No, you don’t remember do you. You don’t remember any of this.
Lucent sits down in the third chair between Pedro and Sanchez. Let me refresh your memory. When you were holed up upstairs like a coward you had not anticipated one thing. That I would find out about you. Yes, I found out that you had survived and you were now the K family pet. But of course, I am horrible at keeping secrets. I had to let the man of the house know who you really were. You see, it wasn’t use that took you down. Old man K shot you from behind. It was really not his fault. He was scared senseless – didn’t know what he was doing. Didn’t even realize that there were four men in the house and not three. Our men saved you. Found your worthless half dead body on top of the staircase. We took you to the hospital, paid for your recovery. Sanchez chimes in. Why? You can say we feel a bit sentimental about you, our once great and – he snickers – benevolent leader. But it saddened me so much that you had turned into a common house pet that a part of me wished you had been successfully euthanized. You have fallen far from your roots my friend. It saddens me to see you like this. I know what you’re wondering. Yes the old man and the old lady are okay, although they can’t be very happy with us. You see those people walking around? Those are the miners they employed to work on the mine. We doubled their rates for our own operations. For you see, we have much bigger sights than just copper. They were being lied to the entire time. They weren’t digging for copper, they were getting deep enough to come close to the largest deposit of gold ore in the history of the world. El Dorado as some say in legends. These men would never be loyal so they were told it was copper. We doubled their rates. Told them we have gold mines, can give them a share on top of their salaries.
You noticed right? How close to are to the old man’s mines. We took a roundabout way to get here to disguise the proximity. You see, what we are going to do is drill diagonally through the land until we can get to the ore before that old fool. We are going to take everything from under his nose and he won’t suspect a thing. You see, there is a lot of inherent risk in the speculation business. It is not entirely impossible that he miscalculated and purchased a dud. Sanchez narrows his eyes. You don’t really care about any of this do you? You’ve never been much about business. But then again you were never much about anything. You can try to look tough now but your face betrays you. You are a bit worried. You have never looked more vulnerable. You used to not let anything get to you. He gestures to one of his men. Of course there’s only one reason you came here. I will oblige you.
Sanchez’s henchman leaves the tent and comes back a moment later with K, gagged and tied up from her neck down to her waste. Sanchez looks deeply into Pedros’s eyes. This is how we treat prisoners here. None of that spa resort bullshit. He gestures towards his henchman, who walks K to Sanchez. He stands up and grabs her by her upper arm. Listen Pedro, you know what this is about. I want to know the location of the treasury and I want to know now. My partner Lucent was trying to give you a sweet deal, but since you were such a poor sport it has come to this. You really have no one to blame but yourself. He tosses K back to one of his lackies. Listen to these words carefully Pedro. If you don’t give us the location of the treasury in one day, we’ll be using your girlfriend as target practice.
Pedro studies Sanchez’s face. He looks deadly serious. Pedro thinks and then nods slightly. I’ll show you, he says. But you’re going to find things you may not have wished to discover. When you see these things you have to promise not to begrudge me, for I have done everything possible to protect you. Sanchez looks incredulous. What are you taking about, he says. Protect me from what? I know exactly what’s in that treasury and I want it all. Don’t think you can bluff your way out of this. Pedro laughs. It’s not a bluff old friend. You should know me well enough to know that a part of me always wanted to protect everyone. The fact that I blindfolded our helpers on the trip is just for my protection but for their protection as well. There are things about this cave which should be best left undisturbed. But even as I say this I can see in your eyes the madness and the greed which compels you forward. You will not hear me. I guess the only way is to show you. He stands up quickly. Set me up with a horse tonight we will ride and arrive tomorrow morning at dawn. Once I get you to this place I want you to let me and K go. At this point there will be nothing more you can take from me. You will have my men and all of my wealth. Sanchez extends his hand out. It’s a deal old friend. I will leave you alone. Who knows, if everything goes right I might even let you keep a little something. Pedro shakes his head. I haven’t been back at the treasury for the last year. I want nothing from that place. The very air of the cave nauseates me.
K stretches her arms. She had been tied up for the past 48 hours and her entire body feels numb from the lack of circulation. She flings her arms around trying to drawn fresh blood into her fingertips– attracting looks from the other travelers – all hardened criminals and murderers. Pedro led the pack in a white horse while everyone else followed. K rode on the horse in the very back, on the same saddle as Lucent. This is usually the part in any movie where it’s a big deal to discover that the love of your life is actually the former head of a violent gang of bandits. To K, this was not as big of a deal as she expected it to be. Seeing the human side of Pedro for the past few months made it impossible for her to see him in any other light. She was sure that even as a bandit, the man was a sweetheart. Although seeing the looks he shoots Sanchez, she knew he wouldn’t hesitate to kill if he had to – especially if people threatened the things he cared about. K was curious to see what was in this cave that everyone kept talking about. Was this going to be a cave full of treasure, gold, jewelry, valuables? From the way the bandits talk about the cave it seems that everything they pillage eventually goes there. After 8 years of rampaging in the greater region of Southern Brazil, there must surely be a large cache of unique artifacts. A part of K is excited even as she as a captive and a hostage. She knew that if Pedro failed to deliver they wouldn’t hesitate to kill her. This certainly felt a lot different than the first time she was taken hostage. She looks over to Sanchez. The man’s face was cold and unfeeling. There’s something charming about Sanchez if only he would smile once in a while. In another life Sanchez could have been a real lady killer, if only his mind wasn’t so transfixed on power and wealth. Well, literally he could still be a lady killer she thinks. Quickly, K shakes the morbid thoughts out of her head.
Pedro looks back at the group. We’re here.
Pedro dismounts. They were in the middle of a desert.
Is this a fucking joke says Sanchez. Where the fuck are we? Where is the cave? Pedro sighs. Look closer brother, over this direction. Sanchez follows the direction of Pedro’s finger. Still nothing. Pedro walks towards Sanchez and grabs his shoulder, and turns him slightly – so that he can look at where Pedro’s point from a different vantage point. Oh yes, I see it now. That shimmering panel in the distance – could that be the cave? Pedro nods. Let’s walk to it. I’ll show you how it works. Even as he talks he keeps glancing back at K, his eyes apologetic, and inquisitive. She looks back at him and tries to smile reassuringly. Instead her face is contorted in a look mixed with horror and apprehension.
Pedro shrugs and leads the group towards the shimmering area about three hundred feet away. As Pedro and the group approaches the illusion becomes apparent. There was a reflective foil covering the entrance of the cave, which extends far underground. The reflection disguises the entrance, blending it in with the desert land around it. Pedro lifts the cover over the cave and plants one foot inside. Yes they were all there. Boxes and boxes of loot spanning not only the last eight years of Los Gatos’s reign but older boxes from two or three decades ago. This was not only the treasury for the gang, but a storage cave for a family that extends several decades back. Sanchez squeezes by Pedro and starts rummaging through the boxes. He glances back, satisfied. This part of your story is over he says – looking at Pedro and K. Get the fuck out of here. He kicks the ground lifting a small cloud of dust. Pedro says to him. Just one favor. Let me take one of these boxes. It has sentimental value to me. He walks over to the tallest stack of dusty wooden boxes and pulls out a particularly thin looking box. It has the letter P engraved on the outside, intricately done – the work of someone not of this generation. Sanchez looks at him with interest. What’s in there?
Pedro slowly opens the cover of the box. There is a single necklace. Not even gold, but of a darker material. There are no jewels or any other decorations on the chain. The pendant looks like a cross between the letter P and the letter W. It hangs down in the center, dull, unimpressive. Pedro grabs the necklace out of the box and drops the box on the ground. Sanchez looks at him with disbelief. Out of all these boxes you wanted that piece of shit? The box is worth more than that pendant. Pedro shrugs. I am but a sentimental man. None of this matters to me but this necklace was passed down from my great great grandmother. You see, there’s a reason why I’ve never let anyone know about this cave. It is not only a storage area but it is the burial grounds of my people – has been so through at least ten generations. The very air on the cave reeks of death. My family history is one of bloodshed and violence. I recommend you take what you can and leave this place. Just sitting in here drains the life out of me. I must bid you farewell.
Pedro turns and walks, grabbing K’s hand and walking back to his horse. Lucent steps out from behind the group and stops him. Pedro, you and I have not through yet. You brought dishonor to my brother and to my family. I cannot forgive this. Without hesitation, Pedro spins around and punches Lucent, catching his jaw. He flips open his utility knife and leans over the man, his blade nicking Lucent’s neck. A small stream of blood drips to the collar of his shirt. Lucent looks at Pedro defiantly, his eyes wide with rage. Pedro looks Lucent in the eyes – your brother was a traitor and almost got all of us killed. If you mention him or his goddamn name again I will not hesitate to end you. He steps back, releasing his knife and offers Lucent a hand up. Lucent begrudgingly takes the hand and pulls himself to his feet. He rubs his hand with his right hand, checking if his jaw was broken. The then held his hand against his neck and looked. It was covered in blood. Someday he would get his revenge, he decided. But not right now. His plan was close to completion.
This was it, thought Sanchez. Finally the moment was here. Sanchez stepped inside. The walls of the cave was crystalline, itself a wonder to behold. He walks near the back of the cave. A small rodent scampers past him. He completely ignores it. A burial grounds eh. Nice story. I don’t believe any of that. He peered deeper into the cave. I think what he was trying to do is to prevent me from going too deep into the cave. I would think Pedro would know me well enough after eight years of working together that I do not give in to that psychobabble superstition. He takes his hat off and lights a lantern. The light reflects off the crystalline surface of the cave and cascades a rainbow of rays back at Sanchez. There was something to this cave. A secret that he must solve. Everything Sanchez plans depends on this one secret. He continues further in the cave, ignoring his people who have begun to transport the smaller boxes from the entrance of the cave to the wagon. They look delighted with the trinkets and baubles. Those fools. Do they not realize what real wealth is? Sanchez lowers is lantern until he comes upon a wooden trap door near the back of the cave. He takes his gun and shoots at the latch. The door drops down revealing a gaping black maw in the middle of the cave. No matter how he tries to illuminate the passageway downward he could not. The darkness greedily swallows up the light, leaving none for the eyes to see. Sanchez kneels, placing a head on either side of the entrance, and peers in – lowering his head down into the abyss. He could see nothing but he smelled the faint smell of gunpowder. Could this be what he was looking for?
Lucent! He yells. Bring some of the men over here. Sanchez motions to one of the men. Climb down there and hold this lantern. I want to see what treasures are kept underground. The man looks at him nervously. He knew that he had no choice. Grabbing the lantern from Sanchez’s hand he brought it up to his face and held the lantern in his teeth by the string at the top of the iron ring. He then lowered himself slowly against the sides of the trapdoor entrance until he felt his boots make contact with the ground. Senior! He says. I’ve made it.
Look around, says Sanchez. What do you see? The man takes the lantern and sweeps it around the room. I don’t know senior. It is too dark. This room is much bigger than it looks. I can’t see where the walls end. Sanchez nods. This must be the room. He takes a piece of rope from the other man and ties it around a rock near the entrance of the trapdoor. He then lowers the other end down through the entrance. He slowly climbs down and motions for his other subordinate to follow him. This was it. This has to be it.
Pedro rode back with K on his white stallion. Both were silent during the trip – exhausted from the day’s ordeals. Pedro looked particularly wistful. He wish he could talk more about the cave and what he saw and what his fears were, but it was not the time and place. Plus he wasn’t the type to worry other people for no reason. They made good time and before nightfall, Pedro has reached the outside perimeter of the ranch. He dismounts and takes K by the hand. Listen lady, go in there. Your parents are probably worried sick. Those bandits will not bother you anymore. They already have everything. But I recommend you get out of here. Convince your family to leave this place. I can’t explain why but there is something bad that might happen and I don’t want you to get caught in the middle. I can’t go back with you. He points at his bandage. Your father did this. He knows about my true identity. I do not want to bring further dishonor to your family. It was enough to ask him to house a strange blacksmith but too much to ask for someone to take in a bandit such as myself. I will wait here until I see that you have walked home safely. Then I will go. You will likely never see me again, which is for the best. I truly appreciate the moments we spent together and I’ll always remember you when the stars come out at night and the coyote sings its song. I will miss the moments when we walk and talk about anything and everything. They are happy memories and not sad ones. I am glad I was able to share something so amazing – and in a way it was made even better that it was fleeting. Pedro thought of saying all of these things, but he could not. But K understood. She turned around and walked back to the ranch house, stopping once to wave at him once she got to the front door. She turned around. She knew that once she walks through that door she would never see him again. This was for the best. What they had was fleeting and beautiful but it couldn’t have lasted no matter how badly both of them had wanted things to work out. Sometimes you can’t struggle against inevitability. A single tear fell down her face and she walked inside the door.
Sanchez was not a man who is easily impressed. He was a stoic by nature and had no time to be emotional when he was constantly calculating and planning his next step logically. This was the exception. He was caught completely off-guard. What he found in the chamber underneath the caves was unlike anything he had ever seen before – machinery, weapons, and cases of ammunition. The machinery varied from large artillery cannons, to industrial-looking drills and rigs. There was equipment there that Sanchez had never seen before and had no idea how to operate. But from the workmanship of every piece of machinery and weapon he knew, this was more valuable than any amount of gold. This was no morgue. This was the storage space for an army – a civilization more advanced than the two-bit Podunk towns littered all over this area. It seemed they had packed up and moved and forgot all of this stuff, or if somehow they were erased from the face of the Earth. At the back of the chamber was a metal door. It was wide enough to allow for some of the bigger pieces of artillery equipment to be transported out of the cave. This was a serious door – double reinforced steel, stainless, the metallic surface glints from lantern light – illuminating that half of the cave. He examines the door carefully. There was no handle and it was deadbolted shut. The only visible keyhole is a small slit about eye-level on the door. It was unlike any door he had ever seen before. Where is that goddamn key? He orders his men to search the chamber on their hands and knees, emptying every box. He must find that key – there was no other way to get the equipment out of this place. Senior, one of his men says. I think I found it. He pulls out a small piece of metal shaped like a key. Sanchez grabs it and slowly slides the metal into the lock. It clicks into place. He then tried to turn – but the key refuses to budge. No this wasn’t right. He pulls the metal piece out. But it has to be, nothing is weird enough to fit in that hole except for this piece of metal. He raises a lantern up to the key. Wait a second, this isn’t a key it’s half of a key. And it looks like the part that’s missing. Suddenly Sanchez realizes. He lets out a primal yell in frustration. Pedro has the other half of the key. It was on the pendant of his stupid necklace.
Pedro was alone again, a familiar feeling. He had spent most of teens wandering the desert alone, going from town to town. Living like a vagabond, stealing when he can and paying when he must. It was only when he was accosted by a local group of thugs and successfully defended himself as well as broken the nose of the leader – Sanchez, that he earned the respect of the crew. Before long his fame grew and his ruthlessness was a trademark that caused most to fear and all to respect him. However, as Pedro matured, he grew more empathetic. He could no longer make others fear him as he once had so he chose to have others love him. He established public services for his towns and gave his subordinates respect and kindness that they were never used to. As a result, a few of Pedro’s followers became fiercely loyal, but many looked at him as just the best game in town. People started following him just to receive the benefits and often switched to a rival gang or deserted him when a better opportunity presented itself.
So after more than eight years, Pedro has gone full circle. But this time he was not the same thuggish bratty teen he once was. He was also more ambivalent about himself and more sure about his beliefs than the last go-around. Well this isn’t so bad, he says to himself. The moon is out. The stars are high. He hopes Sanchez will abandon his ambitions to take over the land. He suspects Sanchez has heard the rumors surrounding the cache of weaponry underneath the cave. Without the pendant though, there was nothing they could do. They would have to blow the door out with dynamite, which in conjunction with all the explosives in the cave, would make for a pretty good show indeed. Pedro laid down on his bedroll, lulled into a trance by the crackle of the fire. His last thought was of K. She was not safe yet. Sanchez will come looking for him and that would be the first place they go to. He rolls to his side, his eyes fixed on the light in the distance. For now he would have to watch over them. He takes his new pistols out of his bag and starts to polish the barrels. It is not time to sleep yet.
Sanchez slams his hand on the table. Lucent, we must get that key. Lucent looks up at him, annoyed. You’re always making loud noises. I have a wicked hangover. Can you take it down a notch? Sanchez scowled at him. He wasn’t used to being talked back to. Lucent, are we set up to drill yet? Lucent nodded. We are starting the drilling today. I’ve also started the shipment of TNT across borders. They should arrive sometime next week. Excellent, said Sanchez. He twirls a gold bracelet around on his index finger. At least we got all these trinkets. It’s a matter of time before we find him again. I swear, this time I won’t let him walk away so easily. He’ll be crawling away with some shells in his kneecaps to say the least. The bracelet flies off his finger and hits a wall. Lucent looks up, even more annoyed. You need to get more sleep. I’ve never seen you wired like this. Sanchez turns around and storms out of the main tent. Lucent takes out a pocket watch and starts winding the dial. He leans back and smiles.
Pedro circles the perimeter of K’s ranch house. A part of him wants to barge in and demand her to come with us. If only he was more of a bandit he could just take her and ride into the sunset. He pats his horse on the mane. Just you and me horsey. Together forever – even though we just met a few days ago. He thinks back to when he first discovered the cave. The story goes all the back to his time spent in Sicily. It is also the reason why he ended up in Brazil to begin with.
When Pedro first turned elven his parents took him to see a circus act. It was one of the most famous circus acts in all of Italy, being featured on the cover of Italian Vogue. On their way to the show Pedro passed by a homeless man, passed out next to a cup of dried noodles. His face slumped to one side, drool hanging out, and as he suspected the man was in the process of peeing himself. Pedro ran up to the man and shook him. Mister Mister. Wake up. The man sits up startled and upon looking Pedro in the face – and then to the worried faces of his parents, he managed to utter one sentence. I was a scientist in a settlement in Brazil – take this necklace back where it belongs, in a cave near the Maranhenses. Take this, he hands Pedro a compass. The cave is always North. When you’re close you will understand. The man gets up, shakes himself off and stumbles off. Pedro’s parents look at the worn copper necklace and filthy compass and shake their heads. My son, I think you should throw these away they look very dirty. Pedro shook his head. No they’re mine and I will do what I please with them. His parents sighed.
I wonder how my folks are doing. He had been estranged from his parents for the last decade of his life. His family is still living in Italy, operating a small fishing business. When Pedro decided to move to Brazil his parents staunchly opposed. In retaliation they threatened to disown him, although every once in a while he can see in his dreams the letters and telegrams that was never sent to him – simply because they don’t know where he is. Perhaps out of delusion, but Pedro believes in his heart of hearts that when his adventure is over and he somehow survives that he can always return home and resume his former life as the son of a fisher-businessman. Pedro pulls the dirty compass out from his jacket. At this point he understands why it points towards the cave. There is something in those chambers which have a strong magnetic field. Of course a smarter man would have explored the chambers more thoroughly but Pedro was not one to spend his time in a damp and dark cave. Instead, I’m in a dry and too-well-lit prairie, he thinks. I’m not doing that much better in all fairness.
Sanchez was in disbelief. He woke up with ten rifles pointed at his face – all from the miners who Lucent had hired to work for him. Lucent walks in, his hands in his jacket pockets. Sanchez, my friend. The game is over for you. From the beginning I received an offer I cannot refuse. He paused for dramatic effect. I would like to introduce my real business partner – at this moment K-Father walks through the door. Lucent leaned close to Sanchez, grabbing his face with one hand. You see, with him I can own a piece of his entire business. I am a made man even if we don’t find one earring in these mines. All I had to do is get you to commit your men, and the equipment, and the supplies. You see, my client doesn’t feel safe with your kind around. K-Father nods, his face completely calm and emotionless.
It’s so convenient for you to have brought them all to one place. Get up, Lucent says. Step outside of your tent. Begrudgingly, Sanchez walks outside of his tent to see that all of his men were kneeling in a row with their hands behind their heads. Lucent gestures to the file of men holding the rifles. Fire. Sixty shots ring out simultaneously followed by the sound of bodies hitting the ground. Bring him over, says Lucent. We still need him. Sanchez, you’re going to get us the second half of the key. You’re going to help us track down Pedro. Do you understand?
Sanchez turns and spits into Lucent’s face. Lucent makes another signal. Bring me the medicine. He turns around and the doctor is there with a silver tray. On top of the tray is a syringe. He takes the syringe off the train and quick jabs into Sanchez’s upper arm. This here is a slow acting poison – a very common poison. It doesn’t impair any of your abilities but it will kill you in a week’s time. If you do not bring me the other half of the key you will die. Or theoretically you can study up on medicine during that time. If you think you can figure out what the poison is and where to get the antidote within a week I welcome you to try. But my professional advice is. He lightly slaps Sanchez on the face. Get me that fucking key. Lucent turns his back to Sanchez. What are you doing here? You’re wasting your own life. Lucent turns to one of his subordinates escort Sanchez to the outskirts of the tents and hand him your weapon – also bring him a horse. We want to give him a fighting chance at least.
Twenty minutes later, Lucent’s subordinate hasn’t returned. He casually walks to the perimeter of their base. In the distance he sees the body of his subordinate face down, his shirt covered with blood. Unperturbed, Lucent walks over to the body and rolls it over. Sanchez had carved three words into the chest of the dead man – In Due Time. Lucent chuckles. Sanchez was far too dangerous to let live. I hope he won’t be too upset to learn that there is no antidote to the poison. Lucent strolls back into camp with his hands in his jacket pocket.
At this point Lucent can’t remember how much of this plot is planned and how much happens by complete luck. Although he would like to attribute most of it to his cunning he realizes that things have pretty much fallen into place. Ever since the big lie about his dead brother (Lucent has no siblings) and the ease with which he earned K-Father’s trust cemented by him being shot in the course of duty (luck). Things have been going relatively well for him. Of course, when one has the cunning to exploit lucky situations. These opportunities come far more often than to a man without the perceptive ability to recognize gold when they see it. Lucent always wanted to be a magician as a kid but lacked any physical dexterity and the patience to hone any craft. Instead, he was and is driven by the magic embedded in everyday human interactions of all the social gymnastics that can allow one to get exactly what they want from others. This, as he decided from an early age, is a far more useful skill and one which has taken him from the most humblest of roots (an orphanage) to the partner of a major global mining operation. Of course, it is also his cunning which makes him a capable partner and one capable of sitting on the helm of such a major global endeavor. Such a mantle is reserved for someone of his character and not a simpleton like Pedro or one who is so crude with their words as is Sanchez. The thought of ever working under either of them makes Lucent laugh in his head.
Still, one of the unfortunate consequences of having infinite cunning is an insatiable appetite. Lucent is already beginning to scheme how to take over the entire business. The lynchpin really is to inherit it from his partner and thus, has focused his entire efforts on winning over the young K. By no accident was the setup to have her ride on the same saddle as him during her trip out to the cave. All of this was carefully orchestrated to build a plotline which culminates in Lucent being the obvious choice for a suitor – one who is charming, intelligent, and already a partner with the family – versus a ruffian with no ink of refinement and whose backgrounds and criminal pasts disqualifies himself from any serious relationship with the young lady. Lucent begins by speaking with her casually about her turbulent experience in the past few months, offering his condolences and nonchalantly walking off to take care of an important errand – always keeping his presence scarce. He then has arranged impromptu rendezvous with her in which she catches him at the more impressive end of a guitar solo or a dramatic reading of his favorite poetry. He also mastered the art of dressing casually but meticulously – in appearing to not care about his appearance but spending an extraordinary amount of time creating that effect. Lucent notices that K has begun to warm up to him. It is only a matter of time, and I have lots of it.
Sanchez has spent the past four days cursing Lucent under his breath, calling him every vile and cursed thing in his vocabulary. He can still hardly fathom the events that transpired in the past week, of getting so close to the apex of his success to falling to the lowest of the lows. In being certainly a dead man, as Lucent will never give up an antidote to him. The man is too much of a coward he decided. But if he can unlock the cave and move everything to an undisclosed location he can get the bargaining chip back on his side. First he must find Pedro. That might is not as difficult as he imagined as most likely the poor sap is within half a mile radius of his girlfriend’s house. Sanchez rides out to the ranch and slowly trotted around the perimeter, keeping his eye out for a white horse. There was none to be found. That night, he waits in the dark, looking for any camp fires or signs of life near the ranch. There was none to be found. Frustrated, Sanchez wraps himself in blankets and sleeps on the sandy prairie – too tired to even build a fire. Are the gods mocking him? How can it end this way, says Sanchez to himself. That cursed Lucent. If I can’t get the cure, my last dying wish is to make him suffer tenfold.
It was day four. Pedro returns on his white stallion. Sanchez spots him immediately. He walks his horse towards Pedro – who continues to gallop towards the ranch – completely ignoring Sanchez’s presence. Sanchez pulls his gun out and fires a shot into the air. Pedro pauses, pulling his horse back and dismounts. Sanchez, what are you doing here? I thought we were through. Sanchez dismounts with his gun at his side. Brother, you know why I’m here. You have one half of my key. I need it. Pedro looks down at the pendant that hangs around his neck. So you figured it out, compadre? I guess it’s about time. I hope it didn’t inconvenience you. Inconvenience me? Why no, aside from getting betrayed by Lucent, watching all of my men die and being injected with a deadly poison – everything has been going smoothly. Pedro raises an eyebrow. All of your men died? Sanchez nods. Were my men among them? Sanchez nods. Pedro sighs, taking his hat off and lowered his head for a moment’s prayer.
Pedro puts his hat back on. That Lucent is scum he says. I never trusted him – anyone who dresses that well in a place like this – gestures around to the desert and the prairieland. I mean look at us. We’re covered in dirt all the time and this guy walks around sparkling clean. How is that even possible? Sanchez chuckles. A part of him actually misses this guy’s company. He drew his gun out. Partner, hand over your necklace I need it. You can have it back when I’m through so the ghost of your great grandfather won’t haunt you or whatever bullshit you tried to feed me. Pedro took the necklace off and threw it at Sanchez. Say, what is it you’re poisoned with? Sanchez shrugged. What do I look like, a doctor? Pedro says solemnly. Take care of yourself and the key. If it falls in the wrong hands then we are all screwed. Make sure Lucent doesn’t get his hands on what’s in the chamber. Sanchez puts the necklace around his neck. Whatever. One thing I can say for sure. Lucent will not be alive much longer.
Pedro turns around and climbs back on his horse. Sanchez gets back on his own horse. You know what Pedro? When this is over and I nail Lucent’s ass to the side of a barn door, you and I still have unfinished business. I’m going to come back and we will settle this like men. Pedro sighs. Does it have to end this way? Sanchez looks at him. What way is there? We are bandits – how are things supposed to end with us? We grow old and retire and raise the next generation of bandits? No I think we both know how this will end. Pedro shakes his head slowly. No, you have no idea.
Sanchez rides into town and rounds up a group of workers – promising them better than a day’s rate. The job was simple. Ride out into a cave and transport equipment across the desert. When the job was done, only one person rode back – Sanchez. The fewer people who know about this equipment – the better, he thought. He rides back to camp. Immediately a circle of workers surround him with rifles drawn. He drops his pistols and is led to the main tent.
Hello Sanchez, we meet again. Lucent is again overdressed. Where is it Sanchez? Sanchez shrugs. I moved it somewhere else. It’s a secret I’m taking to my grave. Lucent frowns. That wasn’t part of the deal friend. Sanchez looks at him. I make my own terms. Lucent shakes his head. No deal, give me what I want and I’ll give you what you want. Sanchez says, you’re a big man – I’ll take you to the new location. Bring my medicine, and I’ll show you my toys. Deal? Lucent throws on a coat and a hat. Take me there.
Yes, I got lazy says Sanchez – walking around the dead bodies strewn across the plain. We managed to move everything about a hundred feet away before everyone died of exhaustion. Lucent nudges at the bodies with his boots – looks like exhaustion has caused them to have gotten shot, Sanchez. Yes, occupational hazard when you work with me. Sanchez draws his gun out and shoots Lucent in the knee. Lucent drops to one knee. What the fuck Sanchez are you mad? Sanchez reaches down, grabs Lucent’s holsters and tosses it aside. You are not really that good with these things are you? Lucent falls over tears welling up in his eyes, clutching his knee. Sanchez, what are you doing?
Sanchez laughs quietly. I’ve been waiting for this moment, been praying for this moment. I need this. You don’t understand how much the thought of your smug face has tortured me this past week. Sanchez sighs with pleasure. Now, hand over the antidote. He aims his gun at Lucent’s chest. Lucent knows what would happen when he gives up the antidote. He slowly shakes his head. Sanchez, this won’t do much good for you if I dash it against the ground. He grabs the vial out from his jacket and holds it against a rock. Without hesitation, Sanchez empties a shot clean through the center of Lucent’s goal, drops down to one knee and catches the vial in one swift motion.
He opens the vial and downs it, dropping the empty glass on the ground. It shatters into pieces. He licks his lips and grimaced. Lucent had given him olive oil.
Day six. Doctor doctor what ails me? Sanchez catches the good doctor at a saloon in town. One of local hoodlums saw him walking in and sold the information. Now cornered in the back of the bar, Sanchez waves his pistol around. The doctor starts to sweat. He looks around the bar for help. No one else is paying attention to them. Let’s take a walk outside. He grabs the doctor by his arm and throws him outside. Doctor I have 24 hours left. Tell me. What did that lunatic inject me with and where can I find the cure. The doctor sighs. What Lucent injected you with, I don’t have the cure. It’s a rare derivative of a rattlesnake poison. I’m sorry Sanchez, there’s nothing I can do for you. Please let me go I have to tend to some patients who need my aid. Sanchez lets go of the doctor’s arm. You’re free to go doctor. However, can I’d like to make an appointment for next week so you can recheck my condition, is that okay? The doctor looks at him, wide-eyed. Next week? Sure, sure, whatever you say.
Sanchez smiles. With one swift motion he grabs his knife and slashes the doctor’s neck. I’ll see you next week doctor. The doctor clutches his throat, blood welling over his fingers and collapses in the alleyway. Wiping his blade, Sanchez sets out for his final resting place. He had only one more stop to make before all of this is wrapped up. No more loose ends.
K and Pedro sit on the outskirts of her ranch property, hand in hand. In the past two days Pedro realized that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t leave the property. His excuse of protecting the family was wearing thin. He didn’t care about that at all. He was just hoping to catch a glimpse of K tending her garden or taking a stroll in the yard. This was turning into a corny Twilight-esque story, but to preserve the integrity of what actually transpired, K decided she wanted to run away with Pedro and to marry him. The two had picked out a date to elope and secretively packed to leave on a white horse. This was the fairy tale ending that K never thought would happen to her. All along, Pedro didn’t believe this could be possible. This is not how the way bandits end their journeys.
Of course. It’s you again. Pedro looks up at Sanchez on top of his black horse. I’m guessing you’re here to finish things with a bang right? Sanchez laughs and dismounts, landing on his feet with a small flourish. Pedro claps mockingly. K, please step aside. I have to take care of this. K gets up and walks away, then stops and stands about twenty feet away. Pedro points towards K. Hey Sanchez, leave her out of this. Sanchez nods. I don’t really give two shits what happens to your girlfriend. I’m not someone who take sloppy seconds. Sanchez takes his gun and tosses it. Let’s do the old fashion way. He grabs his blade out from his belt. Pedro tosses his gun as well and pulls out his knife.
Sanchez leans forward, circling Pedro with knife drawn. Pedro, relaxed. Stands there, hardly moving. Before another word could be said, Sanchez jumps at Pedro with his knife brandished. He swipes his knife across as Pedro ducks. The two then create distance and start to circle each other – their eyes locking. Sanchez lunges at Pedro throwing dust in his eyes. Pedro flinches, for a second dropping his guard. Seizing the opportunity Sanchez plunges his sword into Pedro’s chest, and then stabs him again through the collarbone. The knife gets lodged and Sanchez backs away, leaving the knife in place. Pedro grabs the knife – still lodged in his collarbone and wrenches – creating a sickening popping sound. Pedro says, unflinchingly, you got to be kidding me. He walks towards Sanchez – now paralyzed with awe, pulls his head back by the hair and swiftly slides a blade through his neck. Pedro then collapses. This was the way he wanted things to end. On a high note.
Pedro leans against K in a carriage going to the chapel. We are getting married, he made a promise and real men keep their promises. Pedro slumps forward, he was barely conscious. I don’t understand how men can so callously die. How they can die without regard to others and feel like they accomplished something. I don’t understand when it became the cool thing to abandon those around you. And although I’ve only known him for a few months, I know he wasn’t this kind of man. And yet, his fate found a way of catching up to him.
Rodrigo slowly rises from the pile of dead bodies. The shots had missed him miraculously, but by instinct he let himself fall over. The gambit had worked, the miners did not check his vitals before scooping him in the wheelbarrow and dumping the lot of them outside the base. He brushes his shirt off and looks at the other recently departed. Christ. He recognizes most of their faces. Some of these were good men. Some were new recruits who only recently started making their way in the world. He lowered his eyes in prayer for a brief moment – knelt in front of the bodies, making the sign of the cross.
As he rose, he scanned the horizon for a place to go. He sees a river out in the distance. He was likely to find civilization if he follows the flow of the water. Rummaging through the pockets of the other bandits, he collected a few important items – knives, compasses, even bits of baked foods that were stashed in haste and forgotten. He makes his way slowly to the river - careful to avoid being spotted by any observers at the base.
PW woke from a dream. I had the most vivid dream ever. It was like living in a movie with all these characters and their complex lives and their feelings. I felt it all. It was some 5D movie from the future where you were simultaneously in everyone’s heads. Everything was very dramatic and cinematic. I can almost rewatch the movie in my head.
Well there was this guy who was this criminal gang leader who turns good and ends up being the bodyguard for this family who’s alone in a foreign country. The daughter falls in love with the guy and he ends up defending her from his right hand man who ends up leading the gang and taking the helm. He was a giant asshole, but this man who changed his heart – he was a good guy. He was also a strong figure. I remember this vivid scene of them riding in a limousine and she had this very dramatic monologue about him and what kind of man he was and how he was going to keep his promise and how it looked like she was going to marry him but in fact she was going to his funeral. That scene really stuck with me at the end of the day.
I really don’t remember any of the other details. The longer it takes me before I recount the dream the more chaotic and fragmented the plotline, until it begins to be fused with other popular references and movies and stories. Elements begin to blend together from various sources and the dream turns into something new. It mutates into a brand new beast, something unexpected a share of one’s psyche mixed with the collective psyche of everyone in the world. The mix of arts and self reflection. This is what results in the story that is recounted now – a fine mix of psychological neurosis, stereotypes, clichés, and spur of the moment plot twists and luck-influenced elements. That’s why one of the featured discussion is that which pits cunning against luck in that cunning can help one actualize situations created through luck, while being perceptive is necessary to put the pieces together in the proper way. Which to say retroactively is left wanting in a story that is almost completely there but just a bit off. But the transformation from the monster under the cupboard to a real boy begins at this point. The dream that takes one outside of one’s mind, as a magnet for various ideas and influences which by itself is produced from such diverse sources.
Finally the door swings open. I step outside, not knowing which millennia I was in. A strange sound stops me in my track. My phone was on and I received one text message. Meeting at 5PM. I check the time. It was 3:30PM. I hold the manuscript under my arm and head off into town.
The goldfish swims and it’s beginning to recognize me as the one who cleans its bowl and feeds it. Every time I’m in the room the goldfish swims towards my image whereas before I was treated as much regard as a piece of inert plastic algae. I think the interesting thing about the goldfish is that it not only drinks its own Koolaid its own fecal matters and urine. Which for someone untrained in the anatomies of the goldfish it is unclear whether the fecal matter and urine are separate things or whether they come out in foul swoop, or poop. In whichever case, the shocking thing about one goldfish in a goldfish tank is that when the water becomes murky the fish is still able to survive in that hostile environment. It is in fact so hostile that for the person cleaning the tank, it almost makes me puke in my mouth. It is amazing how something that lives in the water and which is so tiny can produce such a foul concoction of shitty smelling water. What a trooper. In a sense it’s even more hardcore than Bear Gryllis since the fish is not only drinking its own urine but also eat its own shit and breathing its own shit and urine.
Person-C snaps out of it. He had been gone for way too long. He looks around. It seems he had been trapped in a psychedelic funk for the last ten years. Enough plot lines swirl around his mind equivalent to a hundred timelines. He checks the clock. Exactly five minutes transpired. Through this entire period of time his life had ended a hundred times over and he felt himself trapped in the infinite void. For one part of his journey he was in a cupboard. For another part of the journey he was in a hot air balloon. And then he was walking around. Walking everywhere. He remembers walking in the desert, in the prairies, in the woods, and in houses of various kinds. The trappings of his mind was laid out flat. He could navigate everywhere like one wanders a maze. But now he feels that he is slowly rebuilding himself, pulling in components of his life to reform an existence that he once knew.
Person-D walks over with a can of coke. Dude you were really out of it. I tried to snap you out of it but you were tripping the universe. Yes Person-D, I journeyed through the universe. I just had a thought. What if everything I imagined was a real living being just like us and that they existed as long as my phantasm existed. After I woke up they all died. Does that mean I’m a mass murderer? Person-C laughs. That’s something that makes me nervous about dreaming. Way to add stress to the most unstressful situation possible. I mean could it be that we are also people who are imagined by someone else and our existence is defined purely by the arbitrary synaptic firing of their heads. And that this dialogue is arbitrarily contrived and purely inorganic. Could it be that in the world higher than this one there exists another form of communication and a different style of speaking which doesn’t conform to this type of linear regular exchange between two entities. Could it be that the world outside of this can overlap sound on top of each other so that in every given instance there are dozens of simultaneous sounds impossible to describe through text except by the most laborious forms. Could it be that there is a way to capture dialogue in a way that’s not tedious or confusing and rather than breaking the convention on proper punctuation there is a more correct way to communicate in an organized and productive matter. This is the world that I briefly touched during my trip. Who, you mean me or you? It is unclear. For all of this talk is shrouded in ambiguity as is customary in our world. Our two dimensional world emoted from the reptilian brains of our “God.” This wonderful and terrible pathetic writer who attempts to convey his thoughts and discusses complex topics through metaphors but only succeeds in producing a massive act of chaos. Could it be that our necklaces. Person-C takes his necklace off – displaying two letters…P and W very clearly and then gesturing towards Person-D’s necklace, refers to a terminology that is profane rather than holy and that our perception of the only deity we know has an existence as cursed as our own.
Wow man you should lay off the stuff. Let’s just go back to smoking grass. You mean weed right? No grass. In our universe we smoke grass trimmings. This is the nature of having an absurd arbitrary universe depicted purely through imagination. Which, in a sense, is sometimes more rational and less absurd than the real reality which uncontrolled by a single imagination, is dictated by the collective imagination of all. Just as there is an experiment which shows the pure of collective intelligence in that the average of all guesses tends to be very close to average. In that case does adding more collective imagination to the mix increase or decrease the entropy. In the grandiose course of history when we look at the super-macro level analysis to say would the things that exist now be invented no matter what when given the entire timeline to work with or is it more of individualistic experience where a single contribution can make all the difference between something being made and/or not being made. On some level it seems both are true. In that the average reality of all humanity stays relatively stable but each person has so much ability to influence so many people outside of their immediate environment that the collective entropy is off the charts. At any given point we are always straddling the line between complete doom and absolute salvation. How we walk that line randomly is the something that is impossible to determine. Just as when one eats pizza and their stomach doesn’t settle that straddles the line between being in a position to empty one’s bowels completely or futilely toot into the porcelain like a little foghorn.
So we went to, this was a Sunday, we went to Dubstart first. We went to ZipZap Room first and I wanted to party my face off. So we went to ZipZap room. I’m already driving a tank at this point. No one needed to buy me any more drinks. We joined tables with a bottle buying table. If they bought a bottle of Jack Russel we would join tables with them because it’s what she wanted to drink and it’s her birthday. One of the guys is making rounds to all the girls. All of them are saying ew go away except I’m talking to this guy because I’m drunk and I’ll talk to anything with a mouth right now. The guy was like, hey let’s go to Single Tree, I have some friends there and I want to go see them. I have an awkward conversation with him about the conflict in Israel and I had opposing views. I want to have fun and I don’t want things to get too political and he’s like yeah of course. He agrees it’s inappropriate conversation.
He then dives in to start making out with me. That wasn’t your cue to try to make out with my face so I push him away saying hey I’m not that type of girl. He then becomes super apologetic. Then he asks to go to the bathroom and invited me to the bathroom with him. I was then thinking this was my opportunity to get away. He refuses to leave to go to the bathroom. He says no, I don’t have to use the bathroom after all. He was just like, No. Then he tries to make out with me again and I was like this guy just doesn’t get a hint so I leave. This guy chases after me and pulls the whole it’s cold outside let me give you a Taxi. So the cab driver asks for the address, and I was like let’s go to Address A and then the guy screams his address at the cab driver. I had to make sure the cab driver gets me home first. He then shoves his hand down my pants and kisses my neck. I then scream at the cab driver and told him to pull over. I was holding my vest in my hand and had my jacket on. I jumped out in the middle of the street and started to go home. I threw the vest at him and say, keep the fucking vest threw it at him and head back. I was digging in my purse for my keys. I felt someone tapping me on my shoulder and the super creep guy comes back. I told him. I told you to leave me alone. The guy says you left your vest. And I said you can keep the vest now. And I was still digging for my keys and this guy’s standing beside me and he’s leaning and he has his dick out and he’s peeing on my foot as I was digging in my purse to find my key. I was screaming so loud and freaked out and trying to push him away and he was still peeing. Once he started peeing of course he couldn’t stop midstream.
There are two guys who came by and helped throw this guy down the street. They then came back and asked me whether I was okay and I was like, he peed on my foot but I don’t think I can call the cops for shit like that. And they’re like no problem and do you want to go to an afterparty party with us. I was like, no I just had my foot peed on and you’re hitting on me now. Then I went back in for some gymnastics.
The next night I partied really hard again at ZipZap and I let a guy take me out to a diner because he seemed okay at the club and he insulted me the whole time. He was just all you wear too much makeup and like I like your style but it reminded me of something which is not a good thing. He was then begging me to come home with me. I was like I wear too much makeup and I have a weird style so why would I leave with you. The guy was like do you have a pen and I was like yes I have a pen. So he wrote on this napkin – I john therefore declare to offer ___ PJs and promise not to take care clothes off on promise of condom love.
When I was child I used to watch Are You Afraid of the Dark…All…The…Time. The was one episode which was about a ghost. There was a scene where there was the ghost that hovered over someone’s body and the ghost just chilled there and when the person woke up they freaked out. So, I watched that and in about two or three nights over – I had what I thought was the realest situation of my life. I was dreaming that I was in bed asleep and I woke up and a ghost was hovering over me and I reached out to touch it to see if it was real. And it pricked my finger and it started to bleed. And I got blood on the bed. I just sat there I saw my finger bleeding. I felt a lot of pressure and then the ghost was gone. I woke up shortly after that because it was kind of bad dream as a child. I look down and the same finger and the same dream had a prick on it and I just had the same drop of blood as what I just saw in my dream. Are you sure you weren’t mixing your dream with an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark, because our memories are so flimsy?
I woke my parents up immediately when that happened in 4AM in the morning and remember this super vividly. Even as a kid I knew they thought I was going to be crazy and told me to go to sleep. My mom who was a holy roller told me it wasn’t a ghost but it was an Angel and she convinced me to go to church with her for that reason. My mom was just like, she said the cutest thing ever, sometimes when people do bad things Angel come to punish them. What kind of crazy Christian cult believes in something in that. And then I thought about what I did wrong and it kind of ruined my childhood a little bit. And I thought what kind of stupid ass punishment was that.
Like I promised myself my last chapter will be pulled straight out of my crazy delusional brain. I’m going to sprint through the last seven thousand words because it’s purely me and wrap up this crazy mess. To boot, the compilation of this story was intended to be the intersecting timeline of various viewpoints characters which are collapsible into one entity enduring a linear and non-linear progression through stable and unstable initial conditions. Mimicking my beliefs in the multiverse and its various layers and different dimensions in seeing the various ascendance of the reality from super concrete to the more imaginative to the hyperimaginative to the zen nothingness to the amazingly surreal up to the point that it defies logic imagination and all reason but feel somehow correct and real. At the end of the day what the ascendence of fiction is to me is the ability to write metaphorically on feeling alone and to shut of the part of the brain which rely on judgment logical and criticism in order to function. The pure expression one’s creative juice begins and in a woven narrative to tie together disparate lives, two dimensional characters chained together by a thread which weaves in seven or eight dimensions.
To say that this story started simply is a lie in that first sentence ever written was swiftly deleted that which describes two antelopes leaping over a sleeping lion. This metaphor was then re-inserted into the story symbolizing an uncertain beginning to what certainly is an unavoidable and inevitable conclusion of sorts. In the brain neatly tying itself up in a bow let’s revisit this initial premise and write a story which relies on very ltitle experience and knowledge and so purely is that of imagination and silly wordplay that it becomes purely and in a undistilled way the raw essence of my personality. To the point that after this sentence nothing will be deleted unless it’s an obvious misspelling.
Two antelopes jump over a slumbering line. Trees cover the endless ground. Butterflies flap their wings as a futile way to farm the wind that blows through the ears and tips of hooves and fanciful flightful and frightful spirits which occupy this busy industrial world to say that the tips of the cattails. The lone zebra wanders through the unlikely premise. The grass caresses his striped zebra legs. I believe they have hooves I don’t know the technical term. What is also strange is that I never see anyone riding a zebra, could it be that to put badass black and white stripes on something signifies somewhat of an untameable spirit. That much is hard to decipher since I really have no idea at all.
The zebra imagery first started in the animated introduction to the Lion King but probably before that in some class or in the appearance of some coloring or picture books. To imagine a black and white figure moving through a landscape that is lush with color is something that warrants a second look. And to see that no matter whether you’re black or white or red all over everything bleeds and when a lion bites into one it turns into the same delectable juicy stuff and most other animals that fail to pass nature’s only test of speed and agility. The one which constantly occurs at random intervals in time whether or not one is prepared to race. It is an unforgiving world – compassion is a rarity and luxury for those who are in position to afford the sentiment. Similar to the baby baboon that is adopted by the leopard mother these are rare instances which merit us to reconsider exactly how the natural world functions and whether we have moved really that far away from the natural order of things. To say that most animals are actually pretty big assholes is a statement that’s not far from the truth in many instances. It would be true unless there is something inherent about ego and intelligence which naturally turns an entity towards cruelty and self-important enjoyment at the expense of others.
But what flows more clearly that a brush stroke of black and dashing on a white horse. A unicorn without a horn maybe but in every other stature a comparable beast. To say that the horn makes the unicorn would be that precise use of the term in this instance because of the category the unicorn belongs in. But to say whether the unicorn necessarily has to have the power of flight or whether this is an optional consideration is something that’s reserved for backroom talk. This is what writing looks like absent of quality control.
The manuscript slides in, completing the loop which takes me back to the beginning. A token to remember myself and a note. It was one of the few times I mailed anything addressed to myself. I walk out of the Post Office. I’m not sure why people claim post office workers are mental. They were actually quite nice. A few of them complimented me on my good manners. I was pleased. Positive reinforcement is something that’s very hard to turn down.
I walk outside and head to the nearest café. 4:45PM I was early for once. I order a tea as a formality, as always and find a seat to sit down. This should be an interesting meeting.
So let me get this straight, the man in the suit says, pointing at the packet of pages, frayed and stained through time. You wrote a novel about writing a novel, and then you packed it full of half developed storylines involving Wall Street guys, urban youths, a murder, a lady that smells like fish, a pseudo-fantasy story involving flying balloons carrying fish across the harbor to escape from pirates, being locked in a kitchen cupboard for centuries, two kids smoking Salvia and one of them fantasizing that he murdered his friend and ended up in jail complete with a half-developed plotline about how nervous he feels about girls, then you stuck in a story about some bandits on a ranch who are trying to get into the mining business, and then you copied almost verbatim the life stories of some of your friends and passed those off as a dream sequence. Oh and before I forget, you had all these weird sequences where you walk around everywhere and narrate bullshit no one can possibly give two shits about and which are written so poorly not even you want to reread them to fiure out whether you were babbling out of delirium or whether you actually knew what the fuck you were saying.
Is this really the meeting or am I on a hidden camera show? What do you want to do with this garbage?
Well let me say this. I think what’s interesting is that I received an identical manuscript to this one roughly a year or a few millennia ago that I was tempted to copy and paste directly into my own manuscript. And despite not doing so I ended up writing the same same manuscript. I would also like to say you forgot the bit about the Zebra and the Cadaver Prince haunted house character. I remembered receiving something in that package and I thought for sure it was this watch. I mean it wasn’t like any watch and it wasn’t particularly valuable. It was the plainest watch you could ever see but if you click a button it lights up in the dark. I’m not sure if after this many years the watch still lights up or whether they used some dangerous paint to create the glow in the dark effect, but now who knows.
There’s a story behind that watch. You can chalk this off as another story line that never got developed – which is ironic since for a story with so much filler not much was done with any of the plot leads. When I first moved to this country from China, I met this kid Charlie who was into collecting basketball cards. He was the one who pushed me to buy my first pack. And in that pack there was a hologram Allen Iverson card. Charlie knew this was a rare card and so he convinced me it was worthless and then traded me a worthless Michael Jordan card for it. Being completely oblivious, I complied and after I realized what he did, always held a bit of a grudge over that incident. Of course instead of confronting him I used the same passive aggressive technique that I find dreadful in others.
I waited until the right moment to exact a measure of revenge. One day, Charlie came into the elementary school and showed everyone his new watch. This was a watch that glowed in the dark when you press a button. No one had ever seen anything like it and he became one of the coolest kids for the week. A few days into his new watch I came into the classroom during lunch and took his watch. Then I hid it in my own desk drawer. To this day I still have his watch somewhere in my belongings. I would like to think anything that’s bad that happened to me is a result of me possessing this watch and the negativity that surrounds it. But see, the story doesn’t end here. During one non-specific occasion I was invited to Charlie’s house. Like I mentioned before, Charlie was one of the poorest kids I know and his house barely had electricity and had no phone lines. I literally shook down someone living in the bottom 1% bracket in America. That thought haunts me to this day and if I can find this guy again I’d settle it with him and buy him any watch I can afford. But not even the powers of Facebook would let me track him down and I hope for the best – in that maybe he was too cool to subscribe to such a mainstream service and any of the other alternative explanations which in general are not happy ones.
I thought for sure I would have another chance. I thought in that manuscript envelope would be tucked this watch and it would fall out as I emptied the content onto my desk. But it was not so. The reason being I no longer can find the watch anywhere, nor is it a part of me to give. Just five minutes ago I mailed this manuscript that you’re holding in your hands. What I put in the envelope is what completes the circle which holds together this flimsy plot. You are actually wearing it right now. I point at the man’s collar. This necklace that says PW. Do you know what it standards for?
Pathetic writer? The man replies.
Hah very funny. No it stands for Pass Word. I was giving myself the password to this manuscript which will soon be locked and filed away forever. For those who are able to access it must have a special password that I give them. Perhaps metaphorically or literally. It is the only way to unlock the content of my brain.
Figuratively? What do you mean figuratively. How can there be a figurative password?
Interesting question. This would be the lynchpin of the story, the tenuous “entente” which holds a delicate peace over all the clashing plotlines. To truly see the way I see this story requires only one thing. The ability to empathize. The more you look at it the more you’ll understand, and the more you live as I live and see as I see and endure the environment I’m in, the more you’ll understand me. Just as I am struggling to understand you right now, in your suit, no name, no face, no real characterization. Understanding you is impossible. I have laid myself out across ninety plus pages. And yes the bit about the zebra is important as well. Oh there’s also a bit about the goldfish that you missed. Some of these bits are obnoxiously literal while others require a bit of imagination or a touch of insanity. In either case I don’t expect this to be an incredible enjoyable read. It is most often tedious and bizarre. You are really better off reading anything else rather than this manuscript.
The man pushes the envelope towards me. That’s good, because I only skimmed it. Plus I’m only a foil for you to develop the last few pages. He flips to the last ten pages which are currently blank. I give the faceless man a salute and shake his hand. It’s been a pleasure sir. Do you still need the WiFi password?
So here it is – the master plan. First I commit to something outrageous. Second I go through an existential crisis in which I grapple between doing legitimate work and work which holds meaning only for myself. Third I convince myself that despite attempting something that is inane, finishing it would be even more inane. Fourth I receive the most inspirational speech to finish what I started and a reaffirmation of their faith in my ability to punch out a raw number of words. In this process I devised several strategies to keep to a 50 wpm average or at least maintaining a certain pace per hour, allocating time for drinks of water and some minimum amount of sleep. Finally I’m trying to fill in the next five thousand words unsure of whether I should use this space to tie up loose ends or to talk about something completely new.
Dog the flying giraffe flies through the top of the jungle, passing the zebra walking across the savannah, past the thousands of monkeys, the Hindu temple, and the high tech jungle dwellers with their large plasma TV and washing machines. Dog the flying giraffe flies higher, through the clouds, into the only piece of real estate that floats above the average cirrus cloud. Dog the flying giraffe lands on the flying giraffe landing strip. A large stone castle looms in the horizon. He clops forward or however giraffe walks – with a certain degree of dignity and giraffe swagger with the neck swinging and the large giraffe tongue hanging out. Giraffes have really strangely long dark purple tongues. When giraffes run they have this loping gait where they’re tongues almost hang out and their long necks slump forward like a buffoon. That’s why for a flying giraffe, the sprint is much more graceful and looks very much like a professionally choreographed dance.
The palace door opens and out dances a royal court of subjects. Polka music fill the air. There are purple tunics everywhere and everyone dances delightfully off-beat. In the middle of a dance, one errant participant launches a pig through the air. This insult is responded with by the downpour of carrots upon everyone who’s hair was pulled back. Before long the floor of the ballroom started looking like an awkward petting zoo with carrots and barnyard animals. Unfortunately none of the pigs were trained by the circus and proceeded to run around the court, bumping into all of the guests.
After the dancing there was a bopping for apples. Unfortunately there was no apples there was only oranges. The flying giraffe was not impressed. This would be one of the tamest parties he had attended to all week and frankly the liquor selection was not up to his usual standards. It’s unfortunate that even in a magical parties there are oversights in the planning process and the accoutrements that are lacking.
Rodrigo continues along the river – an afterthought to a world that has collapsed under its own weight. The characters no longer relevant to the prevailing plot but Rodrigo, his own character – a hero in another tale continues forward, until he finally encounters a settlement in the distance. Exhausted Rodrigo knocks on the gate of the village. A harsh voice calls out, who be this? Rodrigo responds, a traveler from a neighboring village. I’ve been ambushed I need assistance. The gate opens and two armed guards escort Rodrigo inside – taking him straight to the sheriff’s station.
So, you say you’re from a neighboring village right. Which village is this? Rodrigo looks at him, and responds near Anapurus. Oh is that right? Do you even know where that is? Rodrigo had no idea he only heard about this place one time from a friend. Yes he answered. Near the valley up North. The sheriff leaned back, putting his boots on his desk. Welcome to our village. We generally don’t accept outsiders but I like the way you look. I got a good feeling about you fella. Stay at the inn tonight. He pushes a placard over to him. Show the innkeeper this placard. This means you’re working for me temporarily. Lets find out what you’re good for and set you up here. I’m sure you’ll fit right in. The sheriff turns around, and grabs a rifle from his wall. Taking a small towel from his drawer he starts to polish the barrel. Well what are you waiting for? Get the hell out of my sight.
Rodrigo makes it to the inn – called Anejos Rojos. He walks inside and is greeted by the barkeep. My you look familiar. Have I seen you somewhere before? Rodrigo shakes his head. The barkeep sighs. Are you here to drink or to check in? Rodrigo shows his placard. I was told by the sheriff that you guys can help me get a room here with this here. The barkeep nods. Carlos! He calls. Come over here, we have a customer – on the sheriff’s tab. Carlos, an elderly gentleman with a vest and a tuxedo shirt sporting a red bowtie wanders out from the backroom. Yes, right this way sir. We have a few rooms available. Let me set you up on the third floor. He looks at Rodrigo then at the floor around him. Well then, where are your luggage sir? Rodrigo reaches into his pocket and pulls out a few scraps of paper, pens, and a few small gadgets. Carlos responds, ok I guess there’s no need to send down a bellboy.
Rodrigo closes the door to his room. It is pretty nice, wood paneling. The bed looks decent, large enough for two – not that he was expecting any company soon. Rodrigo had no plan but he knew he couldn’t stay here. The civilian life was boring to him and it was a matter of time before he restarted his journey as a vogue. Hopefully he can get on the sheriff’s good side before he switches teams. Rodrigo takes the glass of whiskey that was sent up to his room and downs the entire content. He then makes his way to the bed and immediately falls into a deep sleep, exhausted, in his street clothes and on top of the covers.
Rodrigo wakes up in a daze. He checks his pocket watch. It was 9AM. He stretches and climbs out of bed. Just my luck, he thought. I already got all my clothes on. Way easier to get out of bed this way. What I really need, he thinks, is a good shave. Rodrigo walks downstairs to see if there’s a place he can get a shave around here. The front desk should know. The barkeep greets him again. Good morning sir. Hope you had a good rest. Do you want to cap off the morning with a nice rack of gin? Rodrigo grimaces. He never drinks this early. But hey, with no plan, no direction, why not? As long as he doesn’t make this a habit. Rodrigo reaches into his pocket and slips the barkeep some money. The gin goes down like a shot. The barkeep looks amused. That wasn’t a shot, sir. Do you have some demons you’re trying to chase away?
Rodrigo shook his head. No, there are some demons I’m trying to catch. By the way. Would you happen to know a place I can get a nice shave around here? Yes sir, make a right at the front door. It’s right in front of you. Mighty fine place, I go there all the time. The barkeep points at his face. This was done two days ago. Shave’s so clean I swear it cut all the way down to the roots.
Rodrigo sits down to let the barber plaster his face with shaving cream. The barber opens his straight razor and starts working on his neck, and finishes with the sides of his face. He checks himself in the mirror. Looks like a fine job. He tips the man some change and walks through the door. His exit leaves a flourish ringing bells. Before he can take two steps out of the barbershop, he hears a second flourish of bells and the sound of footsteps approaching him.
Rodrigo turns around, knife in hand. In front of him stands a gaunt man wearing clothes that can best be described as strange. Rodrigo, the man says. Do you know who I am? Rodrigo shakes his head no, but he slowly lowers his knife and places it back into his boots. The man smiles. Rodrigo I need your help. For you see, your story isn’t over yet. Or rather, my story isn’t over yet. We still have a ways to go before our adventure can end.
Rodrigo looks puzzled. He is a man who is describing to him the intimate details about his life. He was talking about his with such familiarity and clarity that it surpassed his own knowledge of his background and the events that transpired in the past few days. Rodrigo listens intently, cold sweat dripping down his neck. The man looks at him and says solemnly, Rodrigo I know there is cold sweat dripping down your neck and you’re amazed at how much detail I know about your life. This is the part that’s really going to trip you out. You and I have been on this adventure together. I have chosen to bring you back from the dead. You were all but dead in Chapter 81. It was I who brought you back to life. I pulled you from the Armageddon that not only ended your life but destroyed the remnants of your world. It is the equivalence of you existing in my dreams and me waking up. I am choosing to fall back asleep because I must. You see my job isn’t done. I need to send you to where you need to go before this story is over. In addition, you have to do something for me that’s very important.
The mysterious stranger lends Rodrigo a horse and gives him instructions to ride back to the ranch where K used to live. After half a day of travel Rodrigo arrives at the ranch to see that it is now abandoned. After the events which transpired, K has returned back to the United States and decided to continue her studies back in her home state of Connecticut. Her mom accompanied her back to the states and her father, still obsessed with his investment – decided to move into the encampment adjacent to his mine so he can supervise his workers full time. The ranch is left largely abandoned and a “for sale” sign is placed in the middle of the front yard. The white shutters and ornate trimmings look extremely out of place juxtaposed to the rugged out country background. It’s unclear how much K’s father wanted to sell this property, but as of now it stays uninhabited.
The mysterious man gave Rodrigo explicit instructions on what to do from this point forward. He was given the exact coordinates to the equipment that was transported out of Pedro’s cave and also explicit instructions to destroy everything. Rodrigo agreed, riding out to the X marker with a wagon full of fuel and dynamite.
When Rodrigo arrived at the site he was greeted by a ring of skeletons strewn across the land. Even though he wasn’t specifically instructed, Rodrigo takes time out to bury all the bodies and to set up improvised tombstones for everyone with the large stones that he can scavenge from the nearby cave. He then poured the gasoline over the litany of machinery and weaponry and arranged several sticks of dynamite around the larger artillery pieces. He then poured a trail for the gasoline roughly fifty feet away and lit a match. Lighting the match, he sprinted in the opposite direction. Diving behind a giant boulder as the stack of machines exploded with tremendous force, combined with the combustion of the artillery shells and the fuel in the machines. Pieces of metal shrapnel flew in all directions. He can hear the sound of metal hitting rock – a combination of hail like smaller pieces and larger musical metallic sounds. It sounded like someone blew up a Xylophone.
There was only one task left.
Rodrigo returned to the burnt ruins of the former village of Los Gatos, enlisting workers from nearby towns to help him rebuild. After a long conversation with the mysterious man, he agreed to set up a legitimate settlement and appoint its first governor – serving as the interim governor before this process. A year later, the settlement has come back up and people began to settle back in. Tradesman of various sorts started living in the village again, but the element of highwaymanship was deliberately left out. At this point Rodrigo was given the option to leave to continue the Rogue life, but after a year of living in this new Utopia of a village Rodrigo decides that it wasn’t the life of the rogue that inspired him, but his need to do something that he felt ownership over. This village was home to him. He felt proud of his accomplishment, of his responsibility over this new village which is the home to a host of new talents. Discontents from every which place who lacked a sense of belonging congregated together and established new bonds. It is not a village without problems, but as time passed the village prospered under Rodrigo’s leadership.
Soon the village would expand, and be renown as an Oasis in the desert – as one of the most forward thinking towns in the area and a place for intellectuals and skilled craftsmen to take refuge. This place would eventually be known as Los Rodrigos and its fame spread far and wide throughout Brazil. Upon his dying day, Rodrigo was visited once more by the mysterious man. You have done everything you could Rodrigo, to fulfill your promise to me. You have wrapped up most of the loose ends in your world and for that I’m grateful. I will remember you as the savior who brought upon a new era of light to people who lived in darkness. However, it just wasn’t enough. For my purposes we have fallen a bit short. Your part in this journey is over but I cannot rest until the arc is complete. Rest now my friend, I am eternally grateful. Bringing you back from the dead was one of the better decisions I’ve made thus far.
A gentleman’s congratulations to ER who pestered me to copy Ernest Hemingway to an absurd degree. I managed to read a few Hemingway stories off of cliff notes. This was not the best of ideas since the summaries were at most two or three sentences long. If Hemingway were still alive I would heavily recommend ER to be his publicist. The man is leveraging social media to bring back the name of the H. If you look deeply into the subtext enough you might be able to pick up the same interplay between men who can take it or men who can’t take it. As an interesting fact about Hemingway, even as he derided suicide in his stories as an easy way out from men who can’t “take it” it is ironically the fate of both him and his father.
So here we are, at the last bit of the story. We began this story drunk, alone, in a dark room, huddled next to a radiator for warmth, sleep deprived, delirious, and overconfident. The initial rush of writing without stop has denied me the pleasure eating dinner that night and robbed me of most of that night’s sleep. The all-consuming feeling of authorship is what caused me to feel a twinge of fear, at my own mind, and the awe and wonder that accompanied it made it all worth it. As a thought experiment this nearly fully served its purpose. As an experiment period of an insane activity it was also nearly fully serving in its purpose. The symbolism of starting this project on the 27th and going through the same rhythm of procrastination brings back memories backdating as far as middle school. I’ve also procrastinated in elementary school but I just don’t remember that far back. I am now writing the story, still sleep deprived but warm in a well lit place and with SNL playing the background. I realize that I am incapable of writing while watching something else. And this outpouring of emotions is only genuine in the silence of my own mind. Ignore the fact that I’m listening to SNL now I’ve now successfully drowned it out.
It is kind of weird to say this but in a way I have prophesized myself writing this enormous work. I’ve had ridiculous recurring memories of having an assignment due the same day I was sleep and waking up in a cold sweat, certain that I had fudged up an assignment or received a score of zero on a major assignment that would surely affect my quarterly marks. This was a recurring dream and one of my last and final fears. And you may say this be a very stereotypical nerdy fear of mine, but in all honesty it was the one of the last few moments in which I felt any semblance of stress. Throughout this writing process I felt stress constantly. I feel ever more stress and elation now that I have thirty minutes left and roughly fifteen hundred word to go. If I do a quick math it seems to be that I would have to write roughly fifty words a minute to finish on the dot. A feat which is possible but which allows for no kind of censorship. This is the kind of writing that I set out to do in the beginning but only in the 11:59th hour does necessity force my hand in having to expel my thoughts in such a violent manner
Yes I stopped worrying after assignments and this brings back the last obstacle and frontier for me to conquer. A voluntary assignment that poses no actual benefit or advantage to myself aside form knowing that I have accomplished it is an idea that I would never have entertained in the past. To force myself to accomplish something and not the easy way out and use excuses of work to deny that this was an important exercise. It’s cathartic. I’m now sweating from how fast I have to type the final few paragraphs and quickly I have to think about the words that fly through the paper at this point. I am now unable to even stop. This is all thanks to a moment which I will highlight as the final part of this long and winding road of a story.
My now good friend who compelled me to entertain this concept did so in the confines of a subway. To the sway and awkward closeness of human contact I heard a song of pure truth mixed with my own internal fantasies produced an argument th at was nearly irrefutable. For me, I would regret forever if I had not attempted something like this at least once, and for everything else I could make up later. The regret of failing to look within myself to challenge every one of my instincts to symbolically look at my failings and vulnerabilities that I only paid lip service to but which I’ve only been chipping away at. This was a huge step in expelling this huge chunk of demon which flies out in this form and which will convert into what I hope is a cheap electronic certificate certifying that I have accomplished this feat. Ideally the cheaper the better the more pathetic the more glorious. I wish with all my heart one line ascii looking graphic or text denoting that I have indeed written more than 50,000 words with even a reluctance to attribute the term novel to this what might be considered a novel but in proper scientific terms is essentially a long rant with fictional elements.
Tying everything together let’s go back to the very beginning, the initial contemplation of my environment which kicked off this novel to the subways in which I experienced a real encounter and the nonfictional account melting into a fictional exaggeration ending in murder intrigue mystique confusion and multiple characters sharing the same fate and time path and what is assumed or presumed and absurd about characters fitting together and interacting in nonlinear ways gave way to an extremely standard account or rather dream sequence of a Western storytelling experience. This strand is what I carry forward to the very end. The idea that a world is not wrapped up until it fully wraps up and that I lied. Yes boldface lied when I proclaimed destruction of imagination at its conclusion. This is in fact not true. The fictitious and imaginative account and the final word on the story is that these words live on. The characters live on and develop by themselves. And even as no one else ever reads these words I write they take a life on their own. And in the works that many people do share these characters evolve and morph in accordance to each person’s whims and opinions and desires. These characters are infused with multiple souls.
Just as we are infused with multiple souls. Of how we have different facets of personality and have such richness of personality that it is almost painful to write a biography without feeling like you’re cutting off your own limbs in an effort to highlight the great oblongness of your face and torso. It is this exercise which is sometimes so scary and destructive that makes writing an exercise that one fears and which sounds stupid no matter how many times you edit or fix things. My hand has currently gone numb. I do fear some permanent damage might have settled in as I am unable to move the fingers in my left hand. As we stretch down to the final 25 minutes I still have to google the place to submit this novel which might take five minutes. This time however I know in my heart of hearts that I will finish.
Just as D said to me in the subway if you believe you will do something you will do it. If you believe that you cannot you cannot. I wholeheartedly believe that my journey will end in success at this point there is nothing stopping me and this paper will be delivered. Just as I rush my manuscript to the post office at two minutes before the post office closes. I am certain I will catch a postman walking out of the door on my way in as a last minute resort. The heart affirms the reality around it and the truth is what you select.
This is not to say delusion is validated, but rather than reality is in your control. Don’t underestimate chaos and imagination and one’s slippery twist of what seems like inert object and commonplace events. Reality is not so different than our imagination and the way we can affect our fate often starts with just that. A thought, an imagination. A playful trolling of oneself. A dare. An idea that starts with, hey wouldn’t it be cool or funny or impossible or extremely stupid to do this one thing.
And here it is, at the 99% completion bar, my brain is running out of juice to download so I leave with a final thought.
To Fanny Fish I wish all the best it is unclear whether you at some point were K but to say you were or to say it is also you sharing multiple initial conditions. You are a woman I passed by briefly on the subway but I hope your true life to be so filled with love and beautiful fleeting moments such as the one I described. To the Persons with letters. You are insane half creations of my demented mind combined with visceral reactions to Salvia. Please don’t overdo it and make sure you lock all windows and doors when you think about smoking that stuff. That stuff will, fuck, you, up seriously. To Dog who might have been a flying giraffe. Thanks for entertaining me briefly. To the goldfish, I fed you stop look at me anymore. To my two friends contributing stories I will talk to you shortly after the completion of this novel. I know I’ve been an awful conversationalist – sorry you know why. And if we did do karaoke last night I would have been totally fucked with this deadline which I’m now in a typical assignment fashion squeezing in a photo finish. To my good friend Pedro. I’m sorry I had to kill you off. It happened that way in my dreams and I was really trying to flesh out my psyche and trying to recount this story in a way that made more sense. I also wish I developed your character more. If at any moment I made you seem too much like a pansy I wholly take blame. Rodrigo thanks for carrying the torch. To Sanchez and Lucent you guys were fun to characterize. Sanchez you’re a real bad ass, come at me bro. To the Cadaver Prince, thank you for your wise words and attempt to scare me. I’ve missed out on real haunted house experiences and so it’s been great to be able to reference that a tiny bit in here. To the unnamed heroes who float up and down stream and open and close doors and generally act like wraiths. Thanks for being okay with anonymity. To PW, I hope your hand feels better in time. Yes PW initially stood for pathetic writer but I think I can upgrade you to password now. Just as I should probably upgrade this document to password protected lest someone gets ahold of it and psychoanalyzes the hell out of me. To the zebra running across. More power to you, zebras make really bad jokes when they get sunburnt.
And so here we are time to count down the words. The manuscript is all but finished. Last thing is to say honestly in a non-fictional account if I could find that watch I would return it in a heartbeat just as if I could actually print this in time and attack a piece of pendant with PW on it I would probably send it somewhere far away and see someone’s reaction. I wonder if they can ever trace it back to this document. I am never ever ever doing this again so late in the game and the next thing I write will definitely be a tad better than this – which I would compare to my mom’s cooking when she puts the leftovers from an actual dinner from the night before into a pot and put some noodles in it.
If anyone reads up to this point without skipping to the end. What do you think? How does it taste? Is it extremely fish like canned sardines? Is it like when you put siracha on ice cream? There is no seconds or thirds to be had and if there is anything I have left I left a link in my writing to it. There are clues scattered about. Follow it into the woods, through the prairie, by the river. I’ll be waiting. I’m in your cupboard. Expect me. Feed me.