“Civilization Was Created by Few, Built by Many, and Given to Most” (Chain Story pt 6)

Civilization was created by few, built by many, and given to most,” my father told me from his deathbed. “It was given to my generation, and we destroyed it, now it’s time for you to create a new one.”

I’ll do it” I said half-assed before he closed his eyes and passed away. It took me months to revisit that moment in time when I sat next to my dad in his deathbed at the hospital. I had tried to block it out; just like almost everything that comes my way in this shitty city during my walk to work. Like that overfilled trash can, or the hobos who ask for food, money, drugs, or alcohol, or attention, or just anything that you can give them. Scums of the earth. I’m a scum of the earth too, as I kick that trash can on my way to the office. The leg of my pants get stained. It was a start to just another god damn miserable day.

I go to the men’s room and try to wipe it out with a soaked paper towel. Now there’s a seemingly obvious wet spot on my gray pants. I get even angrier as I walk out.

Because I’ve been in a bad mood, work was especially dreadful. My interactions with people were quick and dry, my motivation was low, and my morale was tainted. I hated everything about work; I hated everything about this city. I hated my life and I hated myself. Back in my apartment, I look at the mirror before I head to bed. I brush my teeth just to feel a bit more human. What disgrace I see in the mirror before me. I had ungroomed beard stubble and there were bags underneath my bloodshot eyes. I couldn’t comprehend how on earth women found me attractive, but they did. And because I hate myself, I hate them for not despising me. It’s like the analogy of a puppy in a pet store; you’re standing there thinking it’s so cute, but it’s miserable and it wants out or it wants to bite your face off.

In the limbo of the next day; I stand outside my apartment balcony in the morning and look at the sunrise as it slowly creeps up and starts to blind me. The concrete jungle sprawls before my eyes, and it just sickens me even more. Everything sickens me about this place. My dad, in his delusional Alzheimer filled last days, wanted me to create a new civilization. I promised him I would. I spat the mouthwash on the flower pot and headed inside. I had gotten up, dressed up, and now planned to show up to work. I looked at the hoards of sheep-like people before me, who looked just like me, dressed just like me, and behaved just like me. Anger and frustration in their faces; just like in mine. We were all zombies who lived and thrived in this concrete city.

Start a new civilization” said my dad. I spat my gum on the gray sidewalk and disappeared in the force and momentum of the moving crowd.

If there was one thing I had, it was time. Had? Already discussed. Needed? Not necessarily. I knew what he said, I knew what had to be done, but in the tangled rubber band ball of a “plan” in my mind, nothing discernible could be found. When one doesn’t have a plan, what else is left but time?

I step on the metro.

See this peon’s face in front of me. See his slack jaw and hear his loose tongue, in your mind. See him hitting on women at bars and then getting belligerent at them for not sleeping with him. See the role model in front of you.

I turn on my phone.

Look out the window. Watch a few skyscrapers claw their way past the train (relativity?) before the deadly blackness of the tunnel consumes its prey. Look out. Always look out.

I look at the time.

8:17

The commute was little over 45 minutes long. I’m lucky, by relative standards. I’m a lucky bastard. I’m lucky I hate women. Attention begets violence, begets loneliness, begets death and nothing but death. Possibly debt on the way. Am I in debt? The groggy morning mindset finally hits me full in the face after another restless night of sleep and I realize once again who I’m working for. Beside my useless education, Talk Corp–a combination social media/phone/talk buddy corporation. Who knew it took so many peons to run a company that helps people… well, talk? What kind of world do we live in where people can’t just talk anymore? I hate it. I hated it then and I hate it now. The flashbacks start to show up and I block them out once more…

Talk Corp Incorporated, the megacity of the social media scene. The unofficial monopoly of smartphones and smartphone bills. (Because of course the government won’t lay a finger on what keeps its citizens in check.) And of course, the inventor of the talk buddy. What Amazon started and failed to fulfill, Talk Corp raised the ante on and won. Government statistics state that approximately 47% of all citizens owned a talk buddy. They popped up in Japan, but were a bit one-dimensional and only a niche market for the lonely 20-30’s business-nothing wanker.  Then came the soccer moms: How do I deal with my passive aggressive husband who doesn’t pay attention to me except when I’m cooking and stealing his children’s attention? Honest questions. Honest answers. At least, that’s what the company strived to provide. I stretch my mind and remember a Kurt Vonnegut book about it but block that out, too. Too much history before a day of psycho-suicide isn’t good for the lungs. I haven’t decided whether I’ve started smoking, quit, or started again yet.

I… do not own a talk buddy. And it shows. If there’s one thing I haven’t lost, it’s my attitude.

And the one resource I do have, I notice, is slowly slipping away as well. The train arrives at my company’s stop. A city in and of itself. But this time, a faux-eutopia rather than a dystopia. The kind where the murders happen hidden in the minds of the victims behind closed office doors and livelihoods are ruined over typos in thousand-page reports on labor law influences in the married couple’s talk buddy relationship. Let’s talk together! I almost say, “I wish I could talk to my father one last time…” but block that out before it enters my prefrontal cortex, too.

I step off the train.

Time. Time for another miserable day. And another. And another. Time time time. Time to drain, decay, and segue. Do I have time on my hands?

Time to think of a fucking plan, you idiot. Argh. I fall irritated with myself. Perfect mood as I step into my cubicle and start the daily routine.

Over the weekend I received three hundred thirty-three emails, separated into three folders: one for all company-wide emails, one for emails sent directly to me, and one for anything highlighted important. I marked the first folder read without opening a single email, I skimmed through the second folder, opening up every one with a subject that applies to my current project, and opened all of the remaining four “important” emails; three of which were from a coworker who thinks I like him. In total, I only had eight emails to actually read

I finished the last email, ironically from my boss, to her knocking on my cubicle wall.

“I’m going to need you to finish debugging the automated content review code by the end of today,”

No good morning. No how are you doing. No, “Mondays, am I right”. No nothing. But I shouldn’t expect anything. She’s a real cunt. A real cunt that didn’t know shit about code or programming but still got a job managing an engineering department. How did she get it? The fuck if I know. The coworker who thinks I like him heard that she was just waiting for someone to say the wrong thing so she could file a discrimination suit…and there were plenty of ways she could take offense.

“Do you think she tans to make herself blacker than she already is,” a coworker joked.

“Do you think she converted to Judaism to increase her chances of being discriminated against? I mean, Muslim discrimination is so early 2000s; bigotry against Judaism is back en vogue.”

“Do you think…”

“No, she didn’t cut off her own leg,” I answered before he could finish his ridiculous, and possible, assertion that our Jewish African American boss cut off her own leg to increase the likelihood of her being able to twist a word or phrase in a way that could be perceived as discriminatory. I can imagine her presenting this quarter’s budget, and her boss saying, “Why do we need an extra engineer, they cost an arm and a leg,” and boom, she has his job, or wins a multimillion dollar suit and becomes an activist for the missing leg community.

“Yes  I  will  have  it  done  by  today,” I responded in monotone to prevent her from being offended by inflection or cadence or rhythm.

She turned and gimped away without a word, and I dreamt, as always, of her losing the other leg in a freak shoe fitting accident.

“God, I don’t ask for much, but please, please, please, take her other leg—I’ll go to church everyday,” I whispered at the ceiling.

I stopped daydreaming about her maiming once I remembered how screwed I was.

I fucked-off most of last week going down rabbit holes on Wikipedia, covering nearly every current major conspiracy: holocaust denialism and 9/11 conspiracies, flat earth and the Illuminati, lizard overlords and chemtrails, the military industrial complex and medical industrial complex. I don’t think I believe in them, but I find the psychology of conspiracists interesting, and the raging of their creators and adherents hilarious.

When I got sick of reading about the cabal of people likely controlling the entire world, I imagined that my computer was the central hub for the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Every time I typed out a city or country’s name, my imagination flattened it via Peacekeepers, Minuteman I and II’s—I even borrowed the Soviet’s Tsar Bomba. Time flies when you’re daydreaming about dropping nukes on every population center on the planet. And now I’m fucked.

There’s no way I’ll finish the debugging by today…not without some performance enhancing drugs.

Kratom? Coke? Adderall? Hipster spliffs? Coffee?

All of the above.

Elijah dissolved three teaspoons of Kratom powder in his water bottle and chugged it, went to the bathroom and did a line off the closed lid of the toilet seat, and got a triple espresso from the automated machine in the breakroom. She was ready to debug the automated content review code.

First off, let’s talk about what working in the computer engineering department of a megalithic social media company is like. Imagine the library of Alexandria, in the palm of your hand. Then imagine that bit in the palm of your hand on a chip, and millions of those chips embedded in a server that is for all we know  in a nuke-proof bunker under the company’s headquarters. This comprises the code library accessible by Elijah to get his job done. In a sense, he was a very powerful person; a flick of the wrist, a click of the mouse, and the GPS tracker in Talk Buddy turns into a fart joke machine. In fact, he had never before realized the catastrophe he could bring down on the company just by modifying a few key lines of code in the company code library. At least, that is, if he could get past all the security mechanisms on the servers and computers, redundant, foolproof security mechanisms, protecting the company’s second most valuable asset.

It’s first most valuable asset?: It’s customers. The lonely and downtrodden in need of “connection”. Like broken dolls being sewn together. An extra body part here, a spare appendage there; all perfect. Normal.

Elijah shooed the thought of risking his job to bring catastrophic downfall to his company’s servers from his head and logged into the company’s code library. He navigated to the workspace dedicated for the automated content review. Explaining what the project about is a little complicated. In simple terms, it was a filter. The sadistic part? It filtered both input and output. If the user requested something from a Talk Buddy that was above the rating of the user, the Talk Buddy would filter it and present something of lesser adulthood. It filtered both the user’s input and the Talk Buddy’s output. Censorship, in short. There’s no bothering asking how the largest social media platform on Earth got away with such rampant infringement of Freedom of the Press; those were just the times. But people bought Talk Buddies. People with money, sometimes people without money (and greedy predatory loan-lending banks). Everyone needed someone to talk to those days. Never mind how in vogue the technology was.

Then there was the applicability of the automated content review (ACR) system to the social media apps the company owned. Chatbots, automated moderation, scanning user content for illegal or unwanton activity, suspicious even. That was just the tip of the iceberg. With a little twist, the company could delete the word “kitten” from all user interaction in the blink of an eye. ACR, folks. The most cutting edge technology in keeping narrow-minded, trigger-happy, overly-sensitive, overly-belligerent, overly-needy citizens from shooting themselves in the foot.

The kratom started to kick in and Elijah started to nod off. Work became a half-dream and inspiration started to arrive in waves of fire and warmth. Not quite bliss, the opioid did its job well. Syntax errors began to go away which Elijah was barely aware of, it just came naturally. What was that? What idiot wrote that method that way? Why wasn’t this algorithm optimized yet when it was already commented the shit out of? In all honesty, Elijah’s job wasn’t hard–he had the skills. Motivation and energy, no. But drugs took care of that part. And well.

Time flew. Elijah was barely aware of it. Half his mind was daydreaming about women he had dated and slept with before he began loathing them for not loathing him so much that he decided to stop. He had been out of control. He played the scene. He probably knew the name of half the respectable women in the city by now. He could recall each lady’s face visually in his mind, run his imaginary fingers over their skin and through their hair. The bliss. He almost missed it, until a syntax error in the code would bring him back to the current world. He never understood women. Maybe that’s what made him so good at exploiting them. He had yet to find someone who made him feel like the prey. Flip the tables, so to speak. But that was about to change very soon.

****************************

Elijah was nearly finished debugging when South Silicon City experienced a power outage, the third in four weeks. Like the previous two, residence of SSC were not given an estimated time of when the issue would be resolved, but in the past, power outages were fixed within a few hours, though it seemed to have progressively gotten worse, despite SSC containing 3/4ths of the tech industry in SC, and each hour the county was down, companies lost a collective three billion dollars. The government reported the cause of these outages to be equipment failures, the result of the much rushed conversion from standard power to solar power the city implemented shortly after its creation, but they had no response to the failure of redundant power systems that kept the servers operating, creating suspicions that the cause was sabotage. Add in the fact that SSC had the least amount of residence in the city—most of which being wealthy executives, city employees, athletes, musicians, and the rest of those considered SC’s aristocracy—and the only other county experiencing similar outages was North Silicon City, where most of the remaining tech companies in SC were located.

Elijah was the first to ask to go home.

“The debugging is just about done. I only need an hour or two once power is restored to finish up, test run and implement. I’m off in an hour anyways, so I can just finish up at home, or on the train if the servers come back up. Either way, it will be done before midnight tonight, in time for a test run on the West Coast domain early morning, and if everything goes as plan, we’ll implement it world wide by noon tomorrow,” I spit at my boss through vibrating lips, forgetting that I only speak in paragraphs when I’m on one.

“I put our coffee machine out of business,” I follow up with an awkward laugh, hoping that would suppress suspicions that I’ve been putting coke in my coffee instead of sugar.

“Fine. But you know what will happen if it’s not done,” she responded with crossed arms and punchable frown.

I know what will happen? No I don’t, bitch, what the fuck is that supposed to mean, a threat? I thankfully only thought.

I ran to my desk to grab all my stuff, paranoid that the power might come on just in time for my boss to renege.

Before jumping on the shuttle to the train station, I smoked a hipster spliff to calm down.

The shuttle in and around Talk Corp was the only high speed transit SC had. The train lines across SC still operated on outdated technology. After 40 years of planning, California was still without a high speed rail. At first it was just a matter of funding, but now it was a matter of partisan politics. Southern California miraculously turned Republican over the course of ten years. First, the New Republican party proposed and passed an amnesty bill better than the Green Party had ever even proposed. Second, a national emergency was declared by the President over the treatment of Mexican immigrants on both the American and the Mexican side of the border. The Cartel Wars, that killed more than five hundred thousand people, some of which were Americans, was acknowledged by the government, allowing the reallocation of military funds used in projects across the world to be used to fight the brutal war raging on the continent. Joint military operations from the US and Mexican military crippled every cartel in Central America. This, followed by the legalization of drugs in all of Mexico, and parts of the US, destroyed the remaining cartels, making America and Mexico the top drug exporters in the world, and producing endless funds for the two countries to use to combat addiction and provide support to families who’d previously been destroyed by drugs. The final nail in the Democrats of Southern California’s coffin was a Wikileak exposing their decades long plan to exploit illegal immigration for votes, blocking bills regardless the positive effect they’d have on both Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants. The border wasn’t open completely, but an immigration program presented by the New Republican Party in Southern California allowed more immigrants than ever before to enter America. These immigrants were placed in programs all across Southern and Central California that provided proper education and job placement. It’s not known if the radical change by the Republican party was done out of empathy or a stategic coup de tat to take back California, but the citizens didn’t really care, as long as it produced a positive outcome.Ever since then, the Democrats of Northern California and the New Republicans of Southern California have been at odds over any program that even slightly preferred one over the other; one of them being the California High Speed Rail. This meant citizens in SC still had to travel an hour or more to get home, depending on the county.

I got to the train station right as one left. This is a bad thing to some, but for a misanthrope like myself, barely missing a train just means you’re one of the first to get on the next and catch a single seat in the back car. This isn’t a sure thing, occasionally rude people in the back will try to shove to the front, but I’m intimidating enough to keep the line cutters at bay, occasionally unleashing elbow jabs at those getting too close to me.

The next train was late, as usual, but I didn’t care as long as I got a spot in the back. The doors open and the race commenced. I sprinted down the aisle, jumped up the stairs two steps at a time, and got to my spot before any of the other passengers got to sit down.

Alone, in a train full of people saying things that don’t matter, blasting music.

“I put my headphones on for this world I ignore”

High and ready to ride.



 

Having a lot of fun with this! We’ll need to do a lot of editing, I’m horrible at switching points of view, for one, but I still think it’s great.

To partake in the chain story please comment on the original post so two people aren’t working on it at once.

 

The original post: https://prettywordsforuglythoughts.wordpress.com/2019/07/26/who-wants-to-write-a-chain-story/

The second post: https://samasyatapasya.wordpress.com/2019/07/26/civilization-was-created-by-few-built-by-many-and-given-to-most/

The third post: https://burndoubt.wordpress.com/2019/07/26/civilization-was-created-by-few-built-by-many-and-given-to-most/comment-page-1/#comment-2003

The fourth post: https://prettywordsforuglythoughts.wordpress.com/2019/08/10/civilization-was-created-by-few-built-by-many-and-given-to-most-chain-story-pt-4/

The fifth post: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/75274988/posts/2374863019

 

To see or add notes, feel free to let me know, and I’ll share the doc we made—a lot of ideas.

Let’s continue this! Please, please, please, you’ll have fun.

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Johnny’s War Pt. 1

I went to see my peepaw every Thursday at the State Veteran’s Home. My father told me it was a minute step-up from a civilian’s old folks home, but only because he got to die the way all soldiers want to: with fellow forgotten heroes.

When he first arrived, they gave him six months, but not even god could tell a Marine when they’re going to die—he gave the doctor and god a proper fuck you and survived another two years.

“You’re the child of a long line of stubborn men, son,” my father told me on our way to see peepaw one Thursday night. “Your grandfather survived the Frozen Chosen, I survived the battle of Hue, and your great grandfather survived Gettysburg. Us Lorraines have survived every war we’re known to have fought in. Your Great great grandfather is the only known Lorraine to not enlist and fight for his country…but not out of cowardice, out of principal. He fought battles as a civilian; he fought with words and civil disobedience; he wrote pamphlets condemning the Indian Wars and championed abolitionism; he chose jail over paying taxes for the Mexican American war, and almost died alone, in a cold dark cell, but he, like all Lorraines, survived, giving his heart to the ideals and principles his father and grandfather instilled in him, up to the very last beat of his heart…”

I interrupted my father’s patriotic oration, “Did peepaw die?”

Peepaw was, like my father is now, dying of coronary heart disease, and earlier that day, he lost his final battle to a heart attack. The only kind of attack Lorraines don’t survive.

 

Who Wants to Write a Chain Story?

I’ll start:

“Civilization was created by few, built by many, and given to most,” my father told me from his deathbed. “It was given to my generation, and we destroyed it, now it’s time for you to create a new one.”

If you want to play, create a new post with the above lines, and contribute your vision. I guess the topic would be something along the lines of changing/rebuilding the world, which could go a lot of ways.

My comment section will be the hub for each part of the story–just post the link to your post.

The name of the story can be figured out at the end of it, but feel free to post suggestions.

Not sure if anyone will want to do this haha…but fuck it.

Johnny’s Mental Health

My first psychiatrist typed all of my symptoms into a Macintosh, then handed me a scantron sheet that said “You’re Crazy”, and wrote out a prescription for some type of medication that I’d already taken recreationally for years

I don’t remember much about my second psychiatrist, because I was sloshed every time I saw her, and high as fuck from triple dosing the pills my previous psyche prescribed me, but I do remember her cancelling my prescription, refusing to prescribe me new meds until I detox, and that she had big, luscious tits that I chose to stare at instead of listening to her babble about personality disorders.

My third psyche was the twelfth or thirteenth Shutterstock image you see when you type “White Doctor” into Google. He was nice, but I’m pretty sure he was an android. I spent our first appointment imagining which section of the curriculum for Clinical Psychiatry taught how to sympathetically smile and properly space out understanding nods while patients tell them how they can’t be in intimate relationships because they were molested as a kid, or how they can’t take the train anymore because it’s just a matter of time until they jump in front of one, or how cocaine and ecstasy calms them down and alcohol makes them hyper, or how they can’t sleep without having horrible nightmares so they stay up longer than they should but always crash after a week, or how some days they’re so anxious that they shake and have to blame it on too much coffee so their coworkers don’t think they’re drug addicts, which they probably are. I lasted for a few months with the white doctor. He gave me sleeping pills that actually worked, though they made me gain forty pounds in three months, without me noticing, because I never look in mirrors, and the sliver of Native American in me thinks cameras steal your soul. The other pills he prescribed for my “psychological issues” properly fucked me up and introduced me to the worst withdrawals since the Vicodin days of my late teens.

I quit doctors for a few years after Mr. White. If I was going to go through withdrawals, they might as well be the result of being under the influence of good drugs.

 



I’m afraid this will wind up buried in my drafts so I’ll just post it and get to work on pt. 2

Eevee McHale pt. 2

This is continued character building for Eevee McHale. I think the narrator is going to be the character in the story I’m working on about a failed liberal painter who jumps on the alt right train because it’s profitable, and how he gradually becomes ashamed about selling his soul for fame and money. Eevee might be a character he created, and this might be part of the novel he’s writing. He’ll probably have a redemption arc.

Ehh fuck that.

Redemption arcs are boring.



Eevee’s childhood was perfect, and she hated it. Her parents were rich, even by SF standards. They were happily married, an anomaly in our society of skyrocketing divorce rates and marital dissatisfaction, not even giving her the common whining point her fellow well-off peers told everyone to appear oppressed. She was an only child and spoiled the fuck out of. The only nonprivate school she went to was UC Berkeley, where she graduated with an Associates in Liberal Arts.

On her sixteenth birthday, her parents bought her a new Lexus. On her eighteenth birthday, her parents rented SF City Hall for a sixties themed party. And on her twenty-first birthday, her parents paid for her to “backpack” across Europe via first class trains and trendy hotels, ironically called hostels despite costing more than the average SF hotel.

It was in Paris, of course, where she got her first taste of radical politics via the salty cum of an “anarchist”. When he wasn’t sodomizing her in the loft his parents paid for, he regurgitated all the things her professors taught her in college: the evils of the rich and bourgeoisie and anybody who profited from anything; the damage colonialization inflicts to-this-day on former colonies who now have infrastructure and two story buildings; how forcing Muslim women to wear burqas and hijabs isn’t anti-feminist; how killing animals for food is bad and abortion is good; and a slew of other things that aren’t retarded.

Unbeknownst to Eevee’s parents, her backpacking stopped in Paris. She opted to skip Rome, because it was a symbol of imperialism, and spent her remaining three thousand Euros on anarchist leaflets and made in China balaclavas for her boyfriend’s Antifa chapter.  

She decided that she didn’t want to return home to the Great Satan her Iranian anarchist friends told her about. Paris would be her new home, and from there, she, her boyfriend and his three dozen followers would start the next socialist revolution.

They took advantage of every legitimate protest by destroying stores—even mom and pop shops because they’re the petty bourgeoisie and backbone of the corrupt capitalist system—flipping cars, and beating the fuck out of evil centrists.

She finally felt like she belonged; like she was a part of something bigger than her. She felt alive and important and a bunch of other platitudes. But then her boyfriend got arrested for tossing a Molotov cocktail into a Starbucks that didn’t allow homeless people, who didn’t smell like fermented belly button juice, to take up the seats paying customers didn’t deserve.

France’s terrorism laws guaranteed that her boyfriend wouldn’t get out in years. His parents stopped paying for the loft. She was thrown out on the streets with no money, and soon learned that none of her boyfriends anarchist friends actually liked her. They tolerated her because she was their leader’s girlfriend, but behind her back, they referred to her as The American Bitch—an allusion to Marie Antoinette’s epithet: The Austrian Bitch.

Eevee lasted two nights in the Parisian streets before calling her parents to apologize for being a dumb cunt, and ask them to buy her a first class plain ticket home.


 

Oh, and feel free to critique and/or continue the story in your voice. Tara did a lovely job last time.

Johnny’s Recurring Nightmares (Pt. 1)

I was friends with Johnny for three or so years before I found out how fucked in the head he was. And I know, fucked in the head sounds a bit harsh, but that’s his verbiage, not mine.


“I haven’t slept in two days,” Johnny said before inhaling a line of absurdly good coke. The type of shit that flooded highbrow clubs in the late seventies. The type of shit that shouldn’t be called shit, because the slang term shit came about when dealers started to cut their coke with laxatives…but not this coke. This coke was so pure Johnny called his Guatemalan drug dealer Freud, after Sigmund Freud, who advocated for medicinal cocaine use, until he got addicted to it…or so Johnny told me–I never touched the stuff.

“Dude,” I said with a giggle. “You can’t say shit like that after taking a line. Obviously you’re not gonna sleep.”

“Na bro, this is the first substance I’ve touched in weeks. No weed, no drink, not even coffee. I’ve been dangerously sober, but I can’t take it anymore.” Johnny fired out from pallid lips. “This is it. I’ve finally lost my shit.”

Johnny oscillated between all out addict and chaste straight edge, depending on the month, season and/or girlfriend. For a frantic fellow, he was unusually regimental when it came to drug use. Summer was filled with ecstasy and cocaine, drugs perfect for pool parties and beach bonfires. Autumn was his psychedelic season; he loved to take mushrooms, go on hikes and watch leaves fall from tired trees. In the winter, benzos, barbiturates and painkillers were mandatory to keep his SAD in check. And spring — which started a few weeks ago, on the day of his birthday, March 20th–was usually spent relatively sober; what he called his Spring Equinox Detox.

“What’s going on, man? Trouble with your lady?” I asked.

“Ah, fuck her. She went to the treasure island rave with her girls. It’s not about her, though. Well…it is…kind of. But not really. It’s more me. It’s always me. She’s just making it worse. I’m thinking about ending it. All she wants to do is party, and I can’t handle that shit right now,” Johnny said while chopping up more lines, not realizing the irony in complaining about partying while chopping up a bona fide party drug.

He met his current girlfriend, Luna, at EDC last May. What should’ve been a weekend fling, turned into a volatile, near-year whirlwind of love and lust and all types of fuckery.

“What is it then?”

“My fucking dreams…nightmares man. Every time I sleep. The same three over and over again. Nightmares from my childhood. Sometimes multiple in the same night. I can’t fucking sleep. And all fucking Luna does is complain that I keep waking her up.” he said, then inhaled a line so long he ran out of breath before reaching the end of it.

“Jesus Christ, man, you’re going to have a heart attack.”

“I have to. I feel like I’m in nightmare on fucking elm street. Gotta stay awake. Gotta stay awake.”

Johnny had never asked me for any type of support in the entire span of our friendship. He was my psychiatrist. I went to him when I had trouble with my girl or work or life in general. He was a manic madman, but he’d always seem to have this strange control over his life and emotions. He was a tempest in a snow globe that soothed friends and family with free verse lyrics of encouragement and hope while perpetually on the verge of a quiet nervous breakdown.

“Alright, calm down. Everything will be alright.”

“Everything will be alright?” he asked, perplexed at my trivial statement . “Everything will be all-fucking-right? Really!? Thank you for the pleasant platitudes, but I don’t need that shit right now!” he said in a decibel level I’d never witnessed. “Sorry man. Fuck. I’m sorry. I just–I just don’t know what to do. I don’t mean to take it out on you.”

I didn’t know what to say. All I had was platitudes. That’s what most people wanted to hear. It will be alright. We’ll get through this together. After the storm, the sun will shine. I realized there was absolutely nothing I could say to console my best friend. He’d prefer me to talk shit to him. Joke around. But even that might make things worse.

“I just need someone to talk to. Someone to keep me awake. Someone to just be there. Someone that doesn’t make everything about themselves, like Luna,” he said before I could eek out another platitude. “I don’t want to be psychoanalyzed. Don’t tell me what you think they mean. I already know. I don’t need you to be Sigmund fucking Freud. Just listen.”

“I’ll listen, bro, but only if you lay off the yay. I’m serious. I’ll smoke a J with you and listen, but I can’t pay attention if you’re bumping every ten minutes.” I softly commanded.

“Deal.”

I started breaking up some of Johnny’s top-shelf Buddha to roll up while he told me the first dream.

“This might be my oldest dream…or nightmare…or memory…or whatever the fuck it is. I’m in my childhood home picking up microscopic rocks off the floor of my room and putting them into a trashcan with a giant hole in the bottom of it. After picking up all the rocks in one spot, I pickup the trash can and move to another, oblivious to the rocks tumbling out of the hole onto the area I just spent an eternity cleaning. As I kneel down to recommence my Sisyphean task, my mother creeps in behind me with a terrifying smile. As I open my mouth to tell her I love her, or hate her, or something stupid, her mouth opens and rocks blast out like a high power pressure washer, quickly filling my room, crushing and suffocating me, until I wake up paralyzed, gasping for air as tears flow down my rolled back eyes.”

I stopped breaking up the weed, and awkwardly held a small nug for a few seconds, not knowing if Johnny wanted me to respond back.

As I opened my mouth to say something platitudinal, Johnny cut me off and began the second dream

“I started having this dream when I was around eight or nine—a few years after the other dream. I’m skipping down the sidewalk of some crowded city, likely SF, or hell, dodging lines of people coming at me like an old arcade game, while avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk. I can’t see myself smiling, but I know I am. I catch glimpses of the end of the sidewalk after dodging each line; something kind is at the end, but I don’t know what it is–I just know I have to get to it…”

Johnny stopped and looked at me struggling to roll the joint and laughed. “Ya wey, your first time rolling? Give me that shit, fool.” Johnny said, then took the notebook, his diary, I was using to break up and roll on.

“Fuck, where was I. Um, um…Oh yea…so there’s something warm and fuzzy at the end of the sidewalk; maybe it’s heaven, maybe it’s limbo, maybe it’s Oz, maybe it’s oblivion, maybe it doesn’t matter what it is. After dodging the last line, I see the end clearly. It’s beautiful…whatever it is, it’s glowing in way only possible if a million perfect rainbows converged on a perfect prismatic fractal….Hold up one sec.”

Johnny stopped speaking to apply the last coat of saliva to the joint he rolled in a dozen seconds, then resumed his dream.

“I begin to skip faster, making dangerously large strides while still trying to avoid the cracks. I feel the end pulling me. I know I’ll be safe there. I must get there. I must live there. I must die there…”

Johnny sparked up the J, took five or six micro-puffs then passed it to me.

…Right as I’m about to reach my heavenly unknown, a vantablack shadow appears, forcing me to recklessly skip off-course…the darkness lets loose a portentous cackle as my foot slams into the last crack in the sidewalk…the world shatters around me…the clouds fall like ethereal tear drops…I’m left standing on a single piece of freezing concrete, suspended in darkness.”

“Fuck,” I eek out with a puff a smoke.

“Yea,” Johnny said with a sigh. “That dream is the roughest. Every time I have it, I wake up sweating, patting at my body like I was just pickpocketed. Every time I feel like a part of my soul was stolen.”

End of Part 1



 

I’ll likely never finish this, but I wanted to post something.

 

 

 

All City

My friends and I were drinking forties at a park by my house when we decided it was time for me to hit my first billboard burner. I’d been doing graffiti for about a year, busting tags across my city with racked markers from Michaels, spray cans from OSH, and custom made, multi-colored mean streaks my friends and I constructed while chain-smoking Kools we bought by the carton from a dude named Wino Juan. My other two boys had already broken their billboard cherries—now it was time for me to get down.

“I say you hit that plastic surgery board off Capitol, towards Milpitas. There’s little to no lighting, and cops patrol less on the edges of the city,” Blend told me and my boy, Giant. He was the seasoned graff artist in our crew, KILL THAT NOISE, or K-10 for short, so we usually followed his lead. He was also the most talented. His older brother went All City a decade ago, and he taught Blend everything about graff: how to 3d and shade, how to one-line and throwie, how to rack supplies and mix streaks. Blend was busting tags on the benches of our elementary school while I was still drawing Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers.

“Na man, Capitol is hot right now. That cat from tops, M4ker, got caught up there a few weeks ago. His first time needs to be in the cuts. Dude will get spooked every-time a car passes. He might fall off like Just-us did,” Giant laughed and nudged me.

“That shit’s not funny. That dude broke his tailbone” I said.

“Ah, fuck that fool. He crossed me out at Hellyer,” Giant said

“HAHA, that was hella long ago,” Blend said.

“I don’t give a fuck how long ago that shit was. He’s lucky I never ran into him. Dude would’ve gotten smashed. I’m glad that shit happened to him. Aaand he was crossing out another dude on that board. Karmas a bitch.” Giant responded half angry. He was always ready to funk. He liked to fight more than paint, but he was just that type of dude. His entire family banged, and despite him not clicking up with the gang, he still sometimes acted like he was a banger, instead of an artist.

“Calmate fool, you take shit too serious…but he kinda did get what he deserved. Could’ve been worse, though—he could’ve busted his ass, then get busted by rollers, then get his ass busted in county,” Blend said with a snicker, causing Giant and I to crack-up.

“That’s fucked up, yo,” I said, still laughing.

“You got a spot in mind, Abel?” Blend asked me. “Giant’s probably right. It should be a board in the cuts. How bout one in Morgan Hill or Gilroy? I know there’s some on Monterey, and Morgan hill don’t got shit for cops.”

“The fuck, how would we get there? I asked. “There’s no bus stop out that way, and we can’t trek out there. Three dudes wearing back-packs and hoodies walking down the shoulder of Monterey–the fuck outta-here with all that jazz. And I’m not trying to hit up some farmer’s board. You know the rules.”

The three of us created our own graffiti code of conduct. One of the rules was that we couldn’t hit up property which caused private businesses to lose money; except for ones we didn’t like: the plastic surgery board, for example, or advertisements for lawyers or fast-food or anything political—basically things we felt were detrimental to society. We also never tagged on playgrounds, or anything kids had direct contact with. Our crew used to have another dude in it, but we kicked his ass, then kicked him out of the crew for covering a slide at my park with ugly tags. The code made sense at the time, but we didn’t figure in the tax money spent on cleaning up graffiti, and the indirect impact that had on people we tried not to affect.

“I could hit up Lexus. She’d be down to drive us out there,” Giant said. “She’s been on my dick since Sum1’s party.”

“Ya wey, you and your groupies,” Blend said. “Sometimes I think you only paint for pussy and funk.”

There was an abundance of graff groupies, as we called them, that orbited around the scene. Girls who’d fuck you just because they could say they did with a cat that caught city fame. Blend and I didn’t fuck around with these girls–too many of them were shady and/or annoying–but Giant partook liberally. He had a Myspace account dedicated to girls he’d fucked, and dozens of half-naked pics with Giant tags covering their bodies.

“You guys are gay,” Giant laughed. “I can hit up Lexus, have her drive us out there, throw up, then we could go back to her pad and take turns fucking her.” he said, absolutely serious with the proposition.

“Fuck that,” I said. “That girl’s fucked half of San Jose. I’m not trying to catch herps.”

“Ditto,” Blend said. “But I’m down to have her drive us. Does she know about the crew?”

San Jose had recently changed its Graffiti Laws. Crews now caught gang charges if there were three or more cats in it, and recently a kid new to the scene got caught up with a black-book, and snitched out dozens of cats from a bunch of crews. Some of the artists caught charges that put them up in Elmwood for six months and thousands of dollars in restitution fees, just for graff, so the scene was real hush hush about crews, not talking about them in the vicinity of civilians. We were only known by our individual names to reduce the likelihood of catching heavy charges. Blend had already been caught up once, but with his old name, Jest, getting him two-hundred hours of community service and a five-thousand dollar fine that his grandma was still paying off.

“Na man, she doesn’t know shit. I think she still thinks I’m Mad1,” Giant snickered.

“Cool, hit her up,” Blend said.

While Giant called his beezy, Blend and I planned the bomb.

“What are trying to bust?” Blend asked. “It’s your first billie, so you should probably bust a throwie you’ve done before. That one you did at Hellyer earlier today was clean and simple. It would only take a few minutes to do the whole deed. Fifteen seconds to climb up, and a minute, tops, to bust your shit.”

“Na, I think I want to do something new. I’ve been doing that throwie for the last few months. It’s old and boring. I’ve been working on a nu-mark,” I said while breaking out my mini black-book.

“Yoooo, that’s fresh,” Blend said after grabbing my book and peeping my new piece. “Look at you all stylin and shit. No lie, this is the best I’ve seen from you. You’ve really come up, man.”

“Thanks bro. Not to ride my own jock, but I think it’s on point with your shit.”

Whoaaa tiger, calm down. It’s dope, but I’m grey death,” Blend responded with a phrase I think he just made up.

“Alright, it might not be on the level of ‘Blend‘,” I said with air quotations.

“HA HA,” Blend responded straight-faced.

“I play, I play,” I snickered. “Alright, what cans did you bring?”

“I got two white and two black Rustos, and one brand fucking new red Montana.”

“Ayeee I haven’t used a Montana before,” I said excitedly. “Let me see that shit.”

Rusto was a good graff spray can, but Montana was top shelf shit—aerosol created solely for graff. Regular cans you’d toss after using them up, but you always kept Montanas. They’re the graffiti equivalent to trophies. Blend had dozens lining every flat surface in his room.

“Cool, so white fill, black outline, with a Montana stamp?” Blend asked rhetorically. “You got the initial outline in white, I follow behind you with the white fill, you come back around with black outline, I clean up any light spots with white, then you finish with the dirty, Montana red stamp.”

“Fuck yea,” I responded as Giant got off the phone with Lexus.

“Yoooo, she’ll be here in twenty,” Giant said. “And she wanted me to tell you, Abel, that’s she’s already wet.”



End of part-one.

Somehow I woke up today, after sleeping ten hours, oddly refreshed, considering my three day drug and alcohol binge. I feel fantastic and inspired and creative, hopefully it continues. I plan on being happy for the next few days. My sister made a surprise trip out to see me, and she’s bringing my niece, so that should extend my good mood, at least until they leave. I’m going to go have sushi with them, maybe catch a flick, but I’m going to finish up this story tonight or tomorrow. The title’s tentative—I couldn’t think of another one, but something will come to my mind as I work on part two.