( part 9 )
Copyright (c) 1996 Cognitec/3rd Force
By saving up my World Refugee credit markers, I was able to take a leave of absence from the camp in order to attend Serial Loser Polytechnic Institute.
I was enrolled in the Department of Pain, where the first (and really only) thing we learned was how quickly and how completely a single, simple, human-inflicted pain, anywhere on the planet, could move through the entire population of the world, affecting billions of people, millions of miles apart geographically, culturally, physically, and psychically.
Even before I'd completed the first semester there, I was offered a job with the Sony Guard, fighting all over the world and all over time, in the new-style cognitive wars that took place almost entirely in microcode or cache memory.
But I declined -- because these stupid wars just replaced brutality, conflict, and emotion with just software, software, software -- and where is the fucking heart in all of that?
I quit school anyway, and traded my World Refugee Empowerment ID Card for a lock-pick set and a .22 w/phone and became a cheap, petty, slimeball, hoodlum worm -- robbing and cheating and lying and stealing anything from anybody, anytime and doing anything scummy for a buck and always in and out of jail.
I hung out with people even slimier than me, and I was always preaching to them about how they should stop being such scum and go straight and get away from crime and drugs and prison and this slimeball life.
For a while, I tried being the Zero-Sum Killer and only did murders that mathematically balanced out some other gross human crime.
As part of my MO, I always left behind a searingly honest personal note, composed and hand-written entirely on the spot, while the body was still warm.
In it, I'd explain, in precise detail, exactly why I'd killed this particular person, in this particular way, at this particular time, and what piece of world shit was being balanced here. Then I'd express how sincerely sorry I was that circumstances beyond my or the victim's or the government's or Nature's control had necessitated this act -- and the 5 or 10 billion more such acts, I still had in front of me.
But people only hear what they already know, and despite all my efforts to explain, nobody really understood what I was killing for.
All the new categories of murder I'd created and all the records I'd set in them, were completely overlooked by the very people who normally revered and chronicled such achievement.
And the police couldn't deal with it, either -- because, even in my most pedestrian, most cliched murders, nothing I did matched any of the little boxes they had to check off on any of their little arrest forms.
So when they saw me walking down the street, laughing and singing and still dripping with someone else's blood, all they could do was just look at each other and shrug and then get all depressed and compulsively return to the sullen scarfing down of glazed astrid rinds w/meerschaum and onion.
Eventually, though, their sadness touched me and made me just wanna go someplace else and start all over again. So I left there and went to a small nation I knew, where the garbage was so good, the impoverished lived better than the rich.
My apartment had torn walls from rats and no hot water. But when I complained to the Council about it, they accused me of lying. "You're just not telegenic enough to be telling the truth," they said.
Since everything else was so fucked, I figured my last and only hope was to write a series of childrens' books, which would all become instant, runaway best-sellers, because they'd be the kinds of books that adults loved too -- for their pure horse wisdom.
The series was called the "Vacation From ...." series, and I already had hundreds of ideas and titles for it, including such personal favorites as "Vacation from Stupidity", "Vacation from Hatred", "Vacation from Jealousy and Resentment", and "Vacation from Always Being a Complete Asshole."
Eventually, I narrowed the list down to the one I thought had the best market potential, and set to work writing "Vacation From Pain."
I did the preface and the index and the table of contents and the bibliography and the footnotes and the acknowledgments first, but when it came time to write the actual text, I couldn't get past sentence 1.
I tried for a week, but still nothing. Then I realized:
I had never really taken that vacation.
I got into parole officer candidate school on full scholarship and, as soon as I graduated, set up a small office in a basement where a painter from uptown stored, you know, things like dropcloths and rollers and scaffolding.
I bought an El Camino and went over to my old girlfriend's place on the south side. She had been my girlfriend before I went away to parole school, but I hadn't talked to her since.
When I pulled up, her two kids were outside playing in the front yard.
Before I got out of the truck, I practised what I'd say.
Then I saw her looking out the window.
My first parolee was a Mr. Keith Barr. He had served 2 years for being hated, and another 4 years for hating back. But now he was out on 1 year probation.
We met for the first time on the street, out above my office, and I told him his restrictions: he couldn't do drugs or consort with anybody who did, and he wasn't allowed to be home alone for more than an hour at a time unless he was asleep.
This last rule wasn't my idea, of course, but was one of the fundamental provisions of the World Parolee Bill of Rights -- put there because, in the words of its framers, "If a criminal stays alone too much, she might get all wacky and go out and write 'Sony Sucks' on a wall, or something."
In my spare time, I was trying to figure out "What are people there for?"
First I did a lot of drugs so I could understand them and get to the gut of their problem.
Then, I became the astronaut of angst, doing an EVA on the soul -- just to get out there and test the farthest reaches of being fucked.
And I would be remiss if I didn't stop here, for a moment, to express my deepest gratitude to the tireless men and women who worked so hard and gave up so much of their time and their lives and themselves in order to form the vast, sort of psycho-NASA infrastructure of support services, without which, I must confess, I probably could not so easily have gotten away with being so self-indulgent and so deeply invested in pain.
I was happy in the parole officer service at first, but soon I could see my effectiveness gradually diminishing.
This began, I think, shortly after I'd learned that life is just Placebo Therapy writ large, so why bother?
When I quit the service, the only jobs legally open to me were all at pre-emptive suicide hotlines. These local franchise operations reaped vast profits by calling up people long before they've even considered suicide, and talking them out of it, in advance, by saying things like "Suicide is just a vacation in the endless stream of lifetimes, so why bother?"
Or, "Once you're dead, there may not be any drugs, and once you're re-incarnated, there is a high probability you'll be assigned to a really fucked-up life, with years of painful development all over again -- just to get somewhere that makes you wanna die even more than you wanna die now."
When I was finally fired from the hotline, for either attitude, or for not being enough of a dickhead -- it meant I could never be hired again for any other job, anywhere in the world, under any circumstance whatsoever.
The only thing I could still do, of course, was to sit down and write the giant, runaway, double-platinum, tour de force with a bullet, towering blockbuster rollercoaster bestseller of a book: "Elvis Presley: Child Molester".
Which I did, but couldn't find a publisher for it, and then, as a form of revenge, I did my last book ever, called: "Embarrassed Just To Be Alive (On the 4th of July)".
1Finally I just found a hole somewhere and crawled in and waited to die.
One of my old teachers from Parole Officer Candidate School came by and saw me lying there in fetal position, wrapped in a blanket, sobbing.
"What would your parolees think," he said, a little disgusted, like I'd failed him.
"I'm not into that kind of head, anymore," was all I could say.
He helped me up even though I didn't want to be. He took me to his place and gave me some clean clothes and a hot meal.
The next day he drove me into town for a job placement session, and before long, I was hired to be one of those guys you see ranting and raving and flailing away on the subways or walking down the street, talking to the air, then stopping and carrying on violent, imaginary sword fights with small, flying insects.
Though I'd been out of the suicide hotline business for some time, my reputation seemed to live on, and people were still calling me at home, at all hours of the night, to ask about punctuation or proper grammar in their suicide notes and suicide CD-ROMs.
And I was such a softie, I answered every one -- instead of just mumbling something about being too fucked up, or recommending Sting's or Cher's new book on the subject.
But, of course, despite my helpfulness, they still got together and launched a class action suit against me, alleging I'd re-used their tragic stories in hit songs and films and plays and dances and theme parks and tee shirts and greeting cards and operas and TV shows that I'd written, directed, produced, designed or starred in -- and I was sentenced to die by lethal injection with a broken, rusty needle or bent hairpin, on a live world satellite feed during sweeps week at the half-time ceremonies of the Unasport Superbowl of the Cosmos.
I accepted this decision with all the grace of a toxic spill, but wasn't on Death Row very long before all the crazed, mad-dog, mass killer-rapist-child molesters in the nearby cells started dying suddenly, mysteriously, from utterly unknown causes -- and the whole building had to be condemned.
The warden, after reading my record, called in some forensic pathological liars who were able to prove, beyond any doubt, that the deaths, as well as the "weird vibes" that destroyed the building, were all directly attributable to "various simple neuro-quantum forces present in the brains of truly, totally fucked-up organisms."
So I was kicked out of Death Row without a trial, or any opportunity to defend myself or argue my case, and sent, instead, to live in a town where there was nothing but justice.
People who hurt you here, were soon destroyed, and told why, just before. And their recorded wailing apologies were voice-faxed to you immediately afterwards -- to serve, not only as the record of your vengeance, but also a as warning to you, as well.
There was no greater crime here than blowing a chance to kill a politician or celebrity. And, any time people got together, there'd always be several moments of silence set aside to curse historical assassins who'd tried and failed.
3 or 4 times a week, there were government-sponsored, unmotivated, grotesque, public murders -- just so the population wouldn't grow too complacent, or get too receptive to the kind of extra-sensory material that could set them free.
Though they changed the vocabulary completely every year or so, it never seemed to matter, since nobody here really knew what they were talking about, anyway.
I got a job with the Human X Project -- where nobody would tell us what the X stood for, and there was no real way to know. All they would say is that it didn't stand for anything that began with the letter X in any language.
"It is about the world of the bold new future," someone hinted. "A world defined by people who never really existed. People who, if they had existed, could not have been believed, no matter what they said, because they were simply not telegenic enough."
At my drugs-murder-robbery trial, my attorney, during her summation, motioned towards me, seated all peaceful and saintly in the defendant's chair, and said to the jury, "Now look at my defendant over there, all peaceful and saintly. Can you possibly doubt her sincerity when she says she's 110% absolutely innocent of any wrong doing? And is there anyone here who doesn't believe absolutely in the old adage that you can always trust a totally fucked-up person?"
And then she went on to validate my credentials in this regard, beyond any reasonable doubt.
"Ahhh, yes," the prosecutor said, when it was her turn. "But your client is also a mass murderer, drug dealer, bank robber, nuclear blackmailer, presidential assassin -- and everybody knows you can't ever trust one of those."
So it was a hung jury.
During my first re-trial, there was a major emergency in the courtroom. Everyone got all panicked and didn't know what to do.
Without really thinking, I got up from the defendant's box, gently pushed the people out of my way, and took charge.
"It's OK," I said, to put them at their ease, "I'm in complete control of this situation, and since you know I'm a totally fucked-up person, you know you can trust me absolutely."
And they all immediately relaxed.
Then, as they gathered round me to watch in awe and admiration as I worked (with steely confidence and smooth efficiency) to keep things nominal, I glanced briefly up at them.
"And I'm also a mass murderer, drug dealer, bank robber, nuclear blackmailer, presidential assassin," I added, "So you know I'm highly competent, as well.
I had arrived in this town on the night of the annual holiday when everybody told their friends just what they really thought of them.
Of course, that made it difficult to check into a hotel there, with all the stray gunfire knocking pens out of your hand as you tried to sign in, or killing the desk clerk before she could even hand you your key.
I went to apply for early re-incarnation, but instead of giving me the forms, all they did was talk about all the people who'd suffered from pre-reincarnation jitters, and how bad it was.
This happens because you're already starting to worry about what kind of new life you'll get, while, at the same time, you still have to cling to the current life you're so anxious to leave -- and still have to pretend to it, like you're here to stay.
When I finished my novel, "Freedom Without Death," I showed it to my publisher or to my lead singer, but all she said was, "Ahhhhh, yes, but this highwire act takes place in nothing -- so where is there to fall?"
At the pre-publication party, my Doctor took me aside and said, "Before you start work on the sequel, you'd better go have some serious Space Shuttle Therapy," which, he claimed, was my only chance of salvation at this late stage of being so fucked-up.
The idea behind Space Shuttle Therapy was to take the patient and stick her in the cockpit of an actual space shuttle, one day, to actually pilot it in a real flight, while its highly-trained, professional astronaut crew stayed behind, on the ground, all sullen and drinking heavily, in the shuttleport bar.
For preparation, the patient was given a 10-minute crash course in shuttle piloting, about an hour before the launch, then handed sole control of the ship.
Then it's ...3..2..1..zero...blast off! and before anybody knows it, she's in earth orbit, and it's time to get up out of the cockpit and walk through the cabin, schmoozing and graciously stroking the passengers, as she'd been trained to do (just before takeoff) in a 5-minute crash course in shuttle diplomacy.
On the anniversary of my first death, I invited all my ex-accountants and ex-wives over to celebrate and watch the new hit TV show that was all about how fucked-up I was and why did I even bother to go on living.
My ex-s had all come to be with me in my hour of triumph and pathos, and they hung around for a while, but just before the opening credits of the show, all their beepers started going off and they all had to run or suddenly remembered a previous multi-billion dollar business meeting they had to go to, or were suddenly having premonitions of car crashes they could prevent, but they had to leave immediately to get there in time.
I went to my Doctor for a checkup.
"Relax," he said. "A few more World Societal Breakdowns like the last one, and what you have won't even be considered sick anymore."
I had been killed in every possible way except for actually being killed.
I was frequently quoted in the scholarly writing on despair, and the literature was filled with references to my many flagrant lies and many searing honesties -- as they appeared in the pages of "Pissed Off! With A Bullet Magazine," the "PentHouseBoy" of megalomania and depression.
The critics, despite all the fucked things they said about me, nevertheless always managed to achieve some sort of balance by backing off their venom long enough to lavishly praise my uncanny ability to be way down deep in the abyss of consciousness, withdrawn way back beyond all reach, with only a thread of a sensor left hanging out in the world.
A sensor 2-photons-wide, with a sensitivity that only responded to point-blank, hundred-megaton, cold-thermonuclear explosions or greater.
I joined the World Separatist Movement because their motto was "Nothing succeeds like secession," and their logo showed an emaciated person, separated from the street by only a thin wall, sorta leaning against it and softly, lamely crying out in a quivering, broken voice, "Yo! Get the fuck off my planet!"
I went to my first meeting, but, when I got there, a sign on the door said it'd been cancelled -- "due to 'Black Monday.'"
I went home and sat out on the stoop to let it all pass, smoking through a carton of IBM Menthols, but then, suddenly, it was the next day, and things sucked even worse. And everyone was calling it "Black Tuesday."
And the next day turned out to be "Black Wednesday." I sat on the stoop collaring everyone that went by, asking, "They didn't really teach us about this in reference training, did they?"
The next day I tried again, but everybody I saw and everybody I talked to was so bad off, that we all knew right away it definitely had to be "Black Thursday."
Then I left town, and when I got back, what do you know, it was "Black Saturday." I asked around and people said, "Yes, while you were gone, we had 'Black Friday' yesterday."
The next day I got up early and went to "Black Sunday" services and fell asleep that night wondering if any special events had been planned for tomorrow, the first anniversary of "Black Monday."
Or would it just be "Black Monday" all over again?
Then it was Fucked-Up Tuesday. Everything looked normal on the outside, but somehow, on the inside, the laws of physics and nature just didn't "feel" quite the same. "f" no longer seemed to equal "ma," and "E" felt like it just didn't quite equal "mc squared," anymore, and the days and months were suddenly named after bodily fluids and neuro-anatomical structures, instead of after ancient Greek autopsy tools.
All movies were, now, just endless pans through the hardball world -- the world of equilibriums no one wanted to talk about.
A world where CIA Mafia-Moonie KGB Corporate-Libyan hit squad Trilateral Commission Masonic-Rockefeller-FBI plots were always afoot to destroy you in the lamest, most simplistic ways.
And where World Fanatic TV was always doing hidden camera shows about you, with titles like "The One-Minute Attention Span, Tangerine-Flake-Flavored, Electric, Kool-Aid, Amino Acid, Urine Test, Crack-Baby Baby."
By this time, all advertising had been reduced to one single, simple, generic ad which all products and companies could use with equal effectiveness -- and because I was its star, everyone knew they could expect 100% accuracy and honesty.
The ad started out with me sitting on the floor, looking infinitely bummed out and pissed off, and saying, "Fuuuuuuuck! I just can't bear this shit any more!" in a most painful, agonized voice.
At that point, the sponsor would stick in her own product-specific footage, and then, when it was done, cut back to me, suddenly all joyful and happy, jumping up in the air, clicking my heels together, high-fiving the sky. Totally transformed by her wares.
Of course, a stunt double was used for this part, with a quick matching close-up of the real me at the beginning and end.
I tried to start a local civil war at every street corner, telling people that first they had to secede from the world before they could secede from themselves. And that, once they did that, they'd be free from the tyranny of the idea of life and could stop paying all taxes: local, state, national, international, and interpersonal.
Sure, they'd be out of a job -- but who cares?!
"And let's make sure," I'd say, stridently, "That when we achieve our goals, and forge a new regime, let's make sure that strength is not the only truth, anymore!"
And everyone would pretend to half-heartedly agree with that, of course, though they all knew it could never really happen that way.
"And no faking reality, either," somebody'd usually call out from the crowd, to emphasize this, and everybody'd laugh. Possibility closed.
I was selected as poster child for a whole set of abstinence ads that told people if they didn't abstain from whatever, they'd wind up like me.
But work was slow at this time, because it was one of those periods in human history when, for no apparent reason, everybody suddenly felt obliged to come forward and admit what charlatans they were.
Like you could be bumming a cigarette from a perfect stranger and she'd suddenly look at you all serious and penitent and say, "I'm sorry, but I really don't know what the fuck I'm doing," as she fumbled to light it up, filter-backwards.
Professors began each class by saying, "Look, I really don't know what I'm talking about, here, but that's OK, cause all the books we're reading are by people who've all been shown not to know what they were talking about, either."
Doctors about to operate, would look down at their patients and confess, "Hey, I really don't know what the fuck I'm doing -- but don't worry. Everything's gonna be just fine."
Businessmen would call key billion-dollar clients in the middle of the night and whisper, in a fake drawl, "Hello, I'm speaking to you from my bathroom, where I'm sprawled naked on the floor, eating a twinkie outta my ass."
And the actors who were so highly paid to maintain the continuity of human life by going around and acting "normal" -- even they were starting to lose it: flubbing lines, making bad choices, and becoming more and more unconvincing, like maybe they didn't really feel it anymore, and were just phoning or faxing or video tele-conferencing it in.
And everybody could feel this, too -- though they couldn't quite figure out its source. And they all started wondering out loud, almost in unison around the world: "What could be wrong with reality?"
Then, overnight, everything was transformed. The old songs were gone, didn't work anymore, couldn't be hummed or even alluded to. The old lines couldn't manipulate anymore, couldn't even be spoken or represented by an icon. And the old concepts just didn't connect anymore, and couldn't be thought or used anymore.
Everyone was a fresh, new atom in the world, but born dirty and already decayed somehow. And then rejuvenated by all this destruction, devastation and despair.
I started a business that would specifically serve world leaders who'd just come back, all tan and healthy, from 3-month Mediterranean vacations, but now had to go speak before major international conferences on the plight of starving, dying, mutilated, impoverished, hopeless, suffering, children around the world.
My company provided these leaders with a unique tarmac-to-podium service, meeting them at the airport in our mobile van and driving them straight to the site of their conference, while our team of highly-trained, world-class cosmetic technicians applied a multi-modal package of ancient, secret balms and chants and hand gestures that gently faded their tans and left them with a tragic pallor much worse than even the most pathetic infants they'd soon be making some goopy, pre-fab, sanctimonious speech about -- sandwiched in-between endless diplomatic luncheons and hand-jobs.
Once I'd amassed many gazillion World Credit Markers in this business, I took all the money and used it to buy a stadium where a game of my own design would be played by 20 teams of grossly overweight, highly-trained and highly drugged-up athletes, working on deferred payment.
I hired a management team that went out and hired coaches and trainers and referees and statisticians and PR flacks and concessionaires and world TV coverage -- for the many new leagues and teams and heroes of my new sport -- also on deferred payment.
Then I brought them all together in a small, barren room where they had to sit on the wood floor, and while my autobiography was read softly in the background by a chorus of spouse-murderers dressed as angels, we selected 200 of the best players from photos and resumes on Universal Access Database TV.
Then we set up camp and, for the next 6 months, the players went through 7 days a week of brutally rigorous 18 hour-a-day conditioning and training sessions, while management continued solving the hundreds of thousands of logistic problems that sprang up new and unknown and unexpected, each minute.
And then, when everything was ready, and all the leagues and teams and schedules were set, and all the players and fans were drooling with anticipation and anxiety, just itching to get rolling -- then, I suddenly just, well, you know, got like, umm, really bored? with the whole idea and so I like just kinda slipped away to go do, like, something else. Yuh know?
And, uhhh, of course, I took, like, my funding and, like, my stadium with me.
"Next time," I thought, "Maybe I'll try something light. Something a little faster, a little easier. Like manufacture "Fuck The World" bumper stickers or "Congratulations, You're Not In My Suicide Note" greeting cards.
Just before I died, I thought I'd take a tour of the Over-Developed Countries -- the countries that had gone too far and achieved too much.
When I returned from this tour and tried to remember it, the only thing that came back was the fable I'd heard in almost every town and municipality I'd stopped in.
In this popular story, somebody had borrowed some money from somebody else and hadn't paid it back or somebody had stolen some petty thing from somebody and the guy's family was out trying to get it back and get revenge. But the guy who stole it, or the guy who borrowed it, claimed it was really his in the first place.
Then the other guy gave him the finger over it and that really pissed him off. But later, in court, the other guy explained that it wasn't the finger at all, that he was giving him. It was actually the international brotherhood sign, which was the forefinger folded in half, with the other three fingers kept erect, and the whole thing viewed edge-on, with the thumb in front, folded out of the way, and the 3 fingers almost appearing to be just one.
Of course, the moral of this fable is that it never ends, but it just keeps on ending.
It was 2 days before the 20th anniversary of "Black Wednesday." The streets were filled with the aristocracy of slimy hustlers and cheap conmen, and that could only mean that somebody famous was in town.
Maybe it was the inventor of General Motors Twinkies or the author of the sequel to the hit TV series, "Everything Father Knows -- Is Wrong!"
Or maybe it was the world famous Dion impersonator, Bo Diddley.
I was in an accidental telephone-booth crash with Kurt Vomit Jr., but when I asked my lawyer what to do, he told me to just blame it all on drugs, and go write a book.
I decided to try to stop being an asshole again -- but that meant I'd have to give up all my jobs protecting places that had "Premises Protected By An Asshole" warning signs, and find another profession.
Since I was too lazy to look for work or kill myself, I figured I might as well run for President on the "Murderous, Coked-Up, Piece of Garbage" ticket.
So I took my case directly to the people.
First, I promised to redefine Time, so that appointments, schedules and jobs could no longer exist.
"Some nations," I said, during one of the Presidential debates, "Seek to project power globally. But we are much better than that, and if I am elected, we will seek to project suffering globally, and eventually dominate the world with our pain.
"International competitors will be helpless before us -- reduced to uncontrollable tears at the mere sight of our national fruit or the mere mention of our national bird."
I was doing my new night club act:
"Ladies and Gentlemen," I began, once I had their full attention, "I know that all of you, deep inside, are suffering mightily, while, on the outside, you are struggling desperately not to show it.
"But, you see," I continued, "The unfortunate, electro-chemical side-effects of this struggle are fucking everything and everybody else up even worse, especially me. So, please stop it. -- Thank You."
Then I got down off the stage and walked through the crowd, almost unconscious. I got outside and boarded a subway.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," I said to the people in the packed subway car, "The elements are all here." I pointed around as occasional tunnel lights strobed past, through the windows.
"The fundamental building blocks are all around us. Everything sucks. We need new dimensions. Kill your world leaders. Kill your celebrity whores. Kill your self-righteous sports heroes. Get closer to your neuro-chemicals, get closer to your hormones, your structural proteins, your immuno-proteins. Your semantic and mythemic primitives. Get closer to your lipids, your carbohydrates ...."
I started getting off the track. My drug had kicked out or something.
But the real problem here was the government. It was run by failed artists who'd become admen and failed at that too, and the army was run by failed writers who'd become journalists and failed at that too.
The President was a failed baby who'd become a person and failed at that too. But that just made the people believe and love her all the more.
Especially when she laid it all out to them so clearly in her State of the Union message:
"The real problem," she said in a voice quivering with emotion, "Is not to be found in the minutiae of reality. The real problem is not to be found in surface structure. The real problem is not to be found in the stories of peoples' lives, or in the story of wars and loves, or of gaining and losing, or in the stories of families and dying and disease. The real problem cannot be described by any of the words used by people to talk about what they did or what they're doing, or why."
Then she went on to explain what the real problem was -- but all she really did was just paraphrase some old lines from some old Sonny and Cher song.
No wonder this tragic country couldn't get its pathetic little civil war into the top 10 most brutally murderous civil wars of all time.
I went to a bar to try to pick a fight or set the record for number of plane crash stories told in an evening, but didn't seem to be succeeding at either.
The old-timers there had all fought in the Battle of Oklahoma City, the final indecisive battle in the California War of Secession, millions of years ago, before Repartition. And, now, they just sat around, retelling their old folklore about it.
At the first slight pause in the conversation, I took the opportunity to break in with my own lies.
"That reminds me," I said, "Of something I wrote once in my last book entitled, 'THEY Are The Problem.'"
But, before I could even start reciting the quote, somebody grabbed me from behind.
"Whadda' you mean, your last book?" he said. "That's the name of a song I wrote right after I got out of the service. You obviously stole it from me and got rich off it. Meanwhile I'm still just a poor slob stuck in this shitball town forever."
He was ready to explode in my face or equivalent, when somebody grabbed him from behind and turned him around and was ready to explode in his face.
"Whadda you mean you wrote the song!" he said. "That was the name of a painting I did while I was still in high school, years before you even thought of it. And my painting, unlike your piece of shit song, demonstrated conclusively both how and why THEY ARE, in fact, the Problem, the whole Problem -- and nothing but the problem."
Suddenly, the argument stopped dead -- silenced by the sound of one really messed up guy, alone at the far end of the bar, hunched over a bottle, singing softly to himself.
Everyone listened attentively, respectfully, for several seconds and then slowly, gradually, lamely, one by one, they all joined in.
It was "Mitsubishi Forever," the national anthem of the universe, and the song they always played at the beginning of faceball games and spitboxing matches.
But the roomful of drunken, sentimental losers, barely knew the words or the melody, and their rendition poked along like a dirge, slow and hesitant, for hours.
Then, gradually, almost imperceptibly, it began to mutate into something else, so that, by closing time, it had become the song, "They are the Problem," and then slowly, imperceptibly, the word "they," in the chorus, began to be replaced by specific instantiations of just who the fuck they really were.
Then, suddenly, even the sky was history.
Birds and planes and flying insects immediately lost all orientation and slammed to the ground in unison, like screaming rain.
Fraudulent realities on a collision course with each other in millions of different local places all over the world, had suddenly, finally, simultaneously met -- and found each other wanting.
And the only thing the news reports were able to say about it, the following day, was that, at last, human consciousness had been revealed to be nothing more than just a footnote to a marketing strategy for a post-drug world.
So why bother?
[ End: Part 9 ]