27 Sep 2005

Original Sin 1.5

Tommy walks. The air thins, the trees shorten. But the skinny path remains, winding up the mountain. Night falls and there is a sliver of crescent moonlight. His eyes adjust to the dark and he wanders on, shivering, with only a light jacket to prevent freezing. He’s not angry anymore. He’s not sad. He’s not happy. He’s just walking. Forgetting. Finally exhausted, he piles some leaves against a fallen tree to form a pillow and falls into deep sleep.

By morning, he can’t ignore the hunger cramps. Now he can’t ignore the thoughts that flood in like angry skin quivering over the cramps. Where am I? What the hell am I going to do? How far have I walked already? He thinks his town must be a mountain or two behind. The path has flattened out to a high plateau. The ground is frosty and he continues to shiver. Nothing to do but walk on. The path remains.

At least the air warms up. Spring returns to the plateau, albeit a mountain spring, barely out of winter’s grasp. He feels around for the paper in his pocket and pulls out Scuffy again. He’s surprised the image still packs an emotional wallop. It’s like a bottomless font of… something. Some emotional pull that is the antithesis of the clown. The clown. Thinking of that bastard sends a chill down his spine. At the same time he’s wracked with a wave of hysterical laughter. It rings through his head, too crisp, too clear, almost blank. Is it him or the clown? It’s the fucking clown, what’s that bastard doing here? Then he realizes… it was the clown that made him attack in the math room. It was that dark alliance under duress. He was supposed to kill or die. He shudders.

But the chill passes. He resumes walking. Because it was the forest that saved him. The forest is a good place, free from the clown and the blank bastard. It’s full. And Scuffy. Scuffy will keep him safe. He looks down at the picture and sees it for what it is. A talisman. He smiles. Then, with a jolt, he thinks of his dad – the association from printed inkjet image to office computer to father. A cramp of grief and guilt.

But my parents will be alright, Tommy thinks. They’ll do better without their psycho son around to shame them. And they always believed those kids at school who said I was a Satanist. They never understood about the inner light. He looks down at the paper. Scuffy is the same as always, fresh tugboat face, determined. It’s like the picture is beaming a ray of gnostic certainty into his head. He’s on the right path. Like the apostle to the messiah. He belongs in Scuffy’s World. He snaps his fingers. The Scuffy thing is being fleshed out but this is just the start. Scuffy’s world, Tommy realizes, is a land of many streams and rivers. Talking animals aplenty. Edible pinecones. Scuffy will show him the way.

Tommy flashes back to Mario Kart, not his favourite Nintendo game by any means but the most oft-played. There’ll be no more Mario Kart divination.

"Maybe I can use Scuffy in the same way," he says and discovers with amusement that he’s talking aloud. Does it matter here?

There is a darting motion in his left peripheral and a high-pitched squeak. Tommy whips his head in that direction seeing a few brambles swing to and fro. His heart races. Dead silence. Except was that a giggle trailing after the squeak? How could that be? Could it be – no, not the clown!

No, not the clown, too external. An animal that sounds like a laughing human? But what animal sounds like that? Now he wishes he’d paid more attention in school – zoology had always bored him. He takes in a paranoid panorama of the path, seeing nothing but trees, hearing nothing but birds.

Reality check, he tells himself. This is the fucking forest and there’s no people around for miles – but there are probably predators. Just what the hell’s your plan now?

He’s frozen on the path. There is an overwhelming urge to head back home. But the horror of this idea overshadows the dread of his current situation. What would he do back there? A grating fight-or-flight paralysis. The silence continues and he begins to feel foolish. "Probably just a squirrel I scared," he says, speaking aloud again to assert his existential rights. "Little chipmunky bastards – they could sound like laughter."

But the thought finally sinks in: It looked like a little person. But that was just his peripheral impression. Whatever it was, it was long gone when he got his head turned around. He tries to force the paranoid thoughts away. "Am I walking this path or not?" It’s a good path and a good forest. And Scuffy’s with him. Probably just a goddamn squirrel. He walks on, stealing nervous glances left and right.

The paranoia ebbs away, eclipsed by the hunger. The cramps. Scuffy will show him the way. But what’s he going to eat? He can’t eat Scuffy. And he doesn’t think the pinecones here are very nutritious. "I’m no hunter," he says. "Or what is it they do in the forest – trap? I’m no trapper eith-"

That noise again, the squeal, the laugh, definitely a laugh this time and motion to the left of the path. Tommy gasps, turns, and sees something dart behind a tree. Larger than a squirrel. Dead silence again like the birds are playing games with him.

Fuck, get out of here! he screams at himself but this part of him is in competition with another part. This part has stepped in and expressed an unambiguous urge to charge off in pursuit of the mysterious creature that is, without a doubt, some kind of little person. Tommy is appalled at this second self. He’s ready to go back home this time but he knows he can’t. His muscles twitch stupidly. Another laugh from the forest: soft, earthy, not the laser-laugh of the clown. There’s something about it, something he likes. Like it belongs in Scuffy’s world, but… the neophobic self will not be dragged into this adventure, the laughter sounds like death, a beckoning claw. One thing both selves can agree on is to consult Scuffy.

"What would Scuffy do?" Tommy says in a cracked whisper. Clumsily, he pulls out the picture and stares. And knows. He’d sail on. The words are right in his head. They sound like something he’d say but he’s not sure they’re his. Then: Scuffy’s got a date with the fairies. It’s clear in his head but he knows it’s not him. It’s part of the gnosis, the cryptic truths of the forest. Before he can allow himself to drown in dread he takes a leap to the left and into the bush, unable to believe his action.

The creature jumps out from an impossibly high position in the tree, jostling pine foliage from the canopy above and catching a lower branch. It’s a dark blurred figure but humanoid. Tommy runs toward it as it drops to the ground. What’s he going for? He doesn’t know but knows he must. The split is gone, Tommy is unified in pursuit, intuitive insanity. But there is no sane here.

The creature runs away but it’s more of a skip. It covers incredible distances with each hop, nimbly avoiding the thicker bush and ducking under fallen trees. Tommy awkwardly chugs through the thickets, panting to keep up. The object of his pursuit is a green blur, barely a foot tall, moving with an improbable gait. The closer he gets, the greater his desire to catch up – and do what?

"Stop!" Tommy commands. The creature turns around. Tommy freezes, bracing for a shock – any shock. The shock that arrives is coming face to face with what he thinks of as the elf.

"Ah, you caught me," it says. "Fair and square." It is most definitely female, very short, slender, dressed in bark and adorned with feathers. Her skin is nearly white with purple undertones and her hair hangs in curly peach-colored locks. Fine-feathered wings extend from her back. Her pointed ears are long, extending above the top of her head. Her expression is impossible to read – a quasi-smile behind which lies continental mysteries. Tommy gawks wide-eyed and the creature stares back with that enigmatic look. Her eyes blink once. Tommy laughs involuntarily. He sounds crazy to himself.

"Who… w- what… are you?" he finally mumbles, afraid to disturb the silence but unable to help himself.

"Well, I am what you would call a wood sprite," the creature replies. Its voice is soft but clear. Its accent is nothing Tommy could have expected – non-European. Something about it sounds Neolithic. He doesn’t know how he could make that association but it’s there nonetheless. More gnosis?

"I would?"

"No I am wood," she says and giggles. "Well, of the wood. Haha, I am not really a jokester."

Tommy smiles, feeling more insane by the second.

"But I am a sprite. My name is Candie."

"No way!" Tommy says, smile growing, sanity losing relevance.

"Yes, that is what I am called. I like my name." Tommy notices that a pipe-like instrument is slung on Candie’s back. As if his thought is a prompt, Candie unslings the pipe and begins to play. The tone is soft and piercing simultaneously, like her voice. It sounds a little like a clarinet. Seconds later Tommy recognizes the melody as one of the short "character themes" that accompany an animated sprite (!) after a successful race. But he can’t remember which one.

"Hey, that’s Mario Kart!"

"Is it?" asks Candie, withdrawing her lips from the pipe. "It was in my head. I never know where my melodies come from."

"Yeah!" Tommy laughs, noticing his laugh is beginning to sound just like the giggling sprite. He looks around the forest with bulging eyes. Somehow everything is new, freshly-connoted, hyper-relevant, down to the last pine needle. His eyes return to the sprite, still there, looking back. He feels like a sponge, human absorption. "Mario Kart," he mutters through a goofy grin.

Tommy flashes back to the game. Now he remembers with astounding clarity a divinational race long forgotten. It was three years ago at least. It was about running away. It was about whether he should say "fuck you" to that shitty society and head for the hills, the forest. And how successful that choice would be.

"Shit I’m remembering, I divined this runaway long ago," Tommy says. "But what were the results?"

"You’re a diviner?" asks the sprite and Tommy giggles again. The sprite joins in, harmoniously and Tommy explodes into a belly laugh. The sprite giggles up to her extreme high register and matches the rhythm of Tommy’s hearty laugh. Tommy falls silent, gaping in astonishment.

"So you cast your Mario Kart," the sprite says. "Whatever that is. What did it say?"

Tommy thinks, trying to regain access to the surprisingly clear memory. But his mind is a thicket of confusing hallucination. He closes his eyes and sees fractal pixies dancing into each other’s writhing bodies, hears a cacophony of flutes. The sprite starts playing the character melody on her pipe again and suddenly the information is there, solid like gnosis. The five races unfold in a microsecond, the character theme loops.

"It’s the Princess!" Tommy says. "That theme you’re placing, it’s her theme. I remember from Vanilla Lake 2, that bitch of a track, but I beat it. I thought I had to choose the Princess to properly divine, even though her steering sucks. It had to be a radical departure if I was preparing to abandon my whole culture, my whole fucking race! I made a record time on Vanilla Lake 2. But… didn’t I fall off Rainbow Road and finish last by the end of it? So what awaits for me?"

"I can not say, I am only a wood sprite," Candie says. "But at least I helped your memory."

"Well maybe I’ll transcend Mario Kart," Tommy says.

"If you have made the decision to cast a thing, then it is not something you may transcend," the sprite says with stern conviction.

"I guess not," Tommy says. "But how is it that you know the Princess theme? It’s from a video game!"

"Who is to say the creator of the game did not learn it from me?"

"Been to Japan?"

"I do not know but I have been many places my friend." Tommy smiles at the word "friend". He’s going to need some here. And to think he’d been so paranoid at the first sight of the sprite. Almost ready to turn tail and run, back to the vengeful mob.

"Do you know what a video game is?" Tommy asks.

"I may have heard of such a thing," replies Candie. "I may not have. But I can tell you I have most certainly heard of the Princess. We all have. Only she may conjure the fairies and sprites. You made the right choice with your Mario Kart. You surely are a diviner of some power."

"Really?" Tommy feels ridiculously flattered. The sprite is silent, waiting. "Yes, I guess you’re right. I sort of thought so all along, even though there were doubts I never admitted, even to myself. So now I’m here."

"And so am I," says the sprite. "I suppose you are the Princess now." She plays a cadence on her pipe and Tommy giggles at the musical punctuation. Candie’s cadence. Mischievously, she begins looping the Princess theme again, adding little flourishes.

"I’m the Princess?" Tommy asks. "Well Mario is dead. He ranked out back in the math room but he went out with a bang. So yeah. I’m the Princess."

"You just haven’t made it physical yet. But you will."

"What the hell does that mean?" Tommy asks.

"You’ll see.

"What do you know?"

"Oh a little of this and a little of that," Candie says, expression lacking the coyness of her comment.

"So what is it you want, Candie?" Tommy asks.

"The question is, what do you want? Why are you here?"

"I ran away. I have no home. I don’t know what to do but I need to keep going. Going is good enough. But I need to be able to survive. I’m hungry. What I need is a guide."

Candie smiles and nods, coyness finally evident.

"We sprites do not make a habit of helping humans and rarely play such a role. When we meet there is always a special deal to be made. That is why we have crossed paths. We will make exceptions in special cases. Are you special?"

"Special?" Tommy says. "I’m a fingersnapper!" He’d never dubbed himself thus before but he feels this is as good an identity as any.

"Then what do you have to offer?"

"Offer?" Tommy says. "Jeez." Well he damn well isn’t going to offer any fingersnapping wish to this sprite. He goes through his pockets again. There is the quarter. He holds it up to the sprite. Candie bursts out infectious laughter, Tommy giggles in spite of himself.

"I’ve no use for metal," she says. "You humans and your metal."

"Well," Tommy says, reluctantly grabbing the paper from his other pocket. But Scuffy?

"All I have is...." He trails off. No, he can’t trade Scuffy, his talisman, his protection against the clown and all he has left of his life. But he holds up the paper, image out, and is shocked to see Candie react just as he had that day in his grandma’s bedroom. Tears stream from her face.

"Awwwww," she croons in a sweet spritely moan, "Oh, what an adorable little boat. So you are special."

"But…" Tommy stammers. "Scuffy is special too. Too special. He’s mine. I found him. I can’t give him away."

Candie’s face pallors with dejection. "I guess I shall be off then," she says and leaps into the air. In a flash she is well above Tommy’s head, wings working furiously. She soars into the trees and out of sight. Tommy stands, frozen, indecisive, stammering and spasming like an epileptic. He hears a howl, a coyote? A wolf? A creature, one less friendly than the sprite? Is that a growl? The sky seems to darken.

"Come back!" Tommy shouts. This can’t be for nothing. "Let’s make a deal!" Ten seconds of appalling silence, the birds in suspense. Then, with a rush of joy, Tommy hears the flutter in the foliage, the return of the sprite, settling slyly back in front of him. She appears out of breath – apparently the disappearing act hadn’t been easy to pull off. Candie looks back, blinks twice.

"Here," Tommy says and hands the folded paper to the sprite. A smile slowly spreads on her tiny face and she grabs it with both arms. Upon letting go of the paper Tommy feel a chill. For a moment he feels the clown is back but this passes.

"Thank you," Candie says. Even folded, the picture is half her size but she holds it steady. "We are more partial to the treasures of the forest but once in a great while something like this comes along. This is a mighty talisman and we have need for such."

"Do you think I’ll still be able to evade the clown?" Tommy pouts.

"I know nothing of the clown. But we promise you safe passage through the forest. You will be alright with us."

Tommy smiles, angst fading. Thank God, the deal is done. No fingersnapping required.

"And what are you called?" asks the sprite. Ah, now we’re getting social, Tommy thinks.

"Tom," he says. It’s time for a change.

"May I call you Tomilin?"

"Sure Candy. Can I call you Candy?"

Candie giggles. "You may."

***

Candie tells Tommy to stay put while she disappears back into the forest. She emerges half an hour later, hoisting a large wooden bowl above her head. "The largest we could find," she says. It fits neatly in Tommy’s palm. The bowl is filled with raw purple mushroom caps in a thin sauce of some kind. Tommy reaches a hand inside, then pauses.

"They aren’t hallucinogenic are they? Or poisonous?"

"I am alive, am I not?" Tommy cracks a smile. Nothing to do but dig in. The mushrooms have an odd taste as wild mushrooms tend to, but the watery sauce sweetens them up. "I could get used to this," Tommy says through a mouthful.

"Good," Candie replies. "Because there is little else on the menu." And so begins the first of many lessons on the forest. Candie explains that the wood sprites are not carnivores but neither will they allow themselves to be preyed upon. They have evasion down to a science. They have stockpiles of human food but Tommy opts for the mushroom meal. When in Rome.

Candie springs back into the forest with the bowl and returns with a refill. After the second bowl, Tommy is surprisingly full and ready to move on. He starts toward the path but Candie gestures perpendicular. "You’re going the wrong way," she laughs.

Tommy chuckles at himself and follows Candie through what seems to be an arbitrary zigzagging bushwhack. But after an hour, Tommy realizes they aren’t really whacking any bush, despite the thickness of the surrounding foliage. It is in fact an incredibly subtle path that no human would recognize, integrated with perfect economy and minimal intrusion. It goes with the grain. Has it been cut through? Or is it a fractal vein that grew with the forest itself? Must be a sprite thing, Tommy thinks. Wood gnosis.

Another hour passes, though time’s relevance is bleeding into the soily ground. Tommy and the sprite stop to drink from a creek. Tommy has a moment of parasite paranoia, but the first sip is so tasty he soon forgets his fears. Candie stands precariously on a jagged rock and catches splashes of the rapids with her tongue. So fresh, so pure. Tommy notices her midriff above the feathered bark skirt and is moved to comment:

"You’re kind of cute, Candy. Fuck that, you’re gorgeous. If you weren’t so damn small…" Candie stops drinking and shoots him a look of blatant disgust. Tommy’s heart sinks.

"Sorry, it’s just… you turn me on. I’ve never said that to a girl before you know. Or a sprite." An enigmatic smile greets this confession. At least his comment wasn’t so offensive as to break the deal.

"Is that like bestiality to you?" he asks. "I’m no beast. At least not anymore. I stabbed someone who deserved it but I left that life behind. I’m no fighter, that’s why I joined the forest. This is my place I think. I think Scuffy will guide me – or, well you said you’ll guide me now. I think maybe Scuffy led me to you. Too bad I can’t have him though, he’s all I had left from the old world. A link worth preserving."

"But he’s of the new world," Candie says, water dribbling down her chin. "Our world – you know that." Foam bubbles pop at the corner of her mouth.

"Yeah, maybe he belongs with you," Tommy says. "It’s just – it’s beyond sentimental value. I can’t explain – I don’t know what I’m talking about really, I feel awash in mystery. I’m like a leaf in a forest."

"You are a man in the forest," Candie says. "Even stranger. This forest is enchanted. Humans will never encroach here."

"No one ever called me a man before," Tommy says, giddy. "I was always a boy, and a girly boy at that."

Candy giggles, arches her back. Her navel draws Tommy’s eye, framed by the peach-colored locks that spill behind her back. Oh God, why does she have to be so small? he thinks. She’s perfect for me! Then he bursts out laughing at the irony that he is finally man enough for his love interest. Only too much so. Even flaccid. Guess I’m lucky I can communicate with anyone at all in this forest. But now I’m hard again, fuck. Gonna have to bust a nut or go crazy. What would Candy think of that? Would it turn her on? Do wood sprites get it on?

"Candy, I have to step into the forest. I’ll be back in about five minutes, kay?"

"Okay," Candie says and catches more foam on her tongue. Tommy records the image before stepping off.

***

Tommy and Candie have been walking for some time. Tommy doesn’t care to speculate how long. He’s eaten many bowls of mushrooms and taken many lessons from the forest but it seems there are an infinite amount left to learn. A question occurs to him and he’s surprised it’s taken this long: "How is it that you know English?"

"I picked it up," she answers. "I told you, I have been many places. You English speakers seem to get around too."

"Round round get around, I get around," Tommy half-sings, half-cackles. Candie grabs her pipe and picks up the melody where Tommy left off as he knew she would. "How do you do that?" he asks.

"I have a lot of melodies in my head," she says. "We wood sprites are the barkivists of the forest. What you would call ‘archivists’."

"You say tomato and I say tomahto."

"You see trees are not meant to be pulped. Bark is what they offer for writing aid. And aid us it does. We are creatures of long memories. So I heard you talking and I recognized your tongue."

"Wow. You sprites are pretty smart, huh?"

"Some people say that. But that is a human standard."

***

Tommy wanders, losing track of time, losing himself in a gradually dilating coniferous glow. It seems that with every step he feels more content with his journey and more at home in the woods. His time is occupied with Candie’s lessons. He learns the sprite names for the plants and trees and animals and insects, and every day there is a new species, one that had been right under his nose, unnoticed. With the name comes the novelty of seeing this new form of life pop out as figure on background, another universe opens up, the riches multiply. Somehow he is retaining it all in his head. Maybe that’s what it is to be a sprite, enhanced sensory awareness.

Tommy is also learning about natural phenomena never noticed by humans with their much hyped cerebral-cortex and scientific instruments: patterns, the language of the trees and the breeze, a beautiful song. It’s all been catalogued by the sprites, documented on bark scrolls in a complicated pictographic language. The barkivists have probed deep into their surroundings, or the surroundings probed deep into them. They document and divine. "What you would call extrapolation," Candie says.

Divinely simple on the surface, the forest’s complexity grows more apparent with each lesson, cryptic purpose popping to the front of perception and no words to describe, only melodies. Tommy comes to see that each tree has a personality, some more interesting than any of the people he remembers. Each tree is a life and a history and a future and you can divine with the trees and the breeze. And with Candie’s melody overtop, it is a glorious symphony, localized omniscience, the game of playing the future, just for the drama and melodic joy of it, tree cinema. Such is the past-time of the wood sprites.

Months pass, then years. Candie helps him construct astonishingly cozy shelters, insulated, to ride out the winters in comfort. The menu varies little. Nearly always mushrooms, types varying with the seasons. But as years pass, Tommy comes to appreciate a range of flavor in this seasonal spectrum that would put his abandoned society’s synthetic palate to shame. Sometimes exotic berries make it into the wooden bowls and even, on a nostalgic spring day – licorice root.

Sometimes Candie leaves for days at a time to interact with her sprite community but she always finds him again to redirect him toward another fractal forest vein. When allowed to wander on his own, he often blunders off the subtle paths and ends up whacking bush but the more he’s allowed to roam on his own, the better his skills at finding the veins become.

There are rare sightings of other sprites, always peripheral. They never seem to regard Tommy with much interest. But one exceptional day Candie lets Tommy watch her fuck her spritelover.

"Do not tell Davorin! He will kill me!" Candie says. "But you are my friend and I know your needs. I will let you watch."

Candie directs the barely-contained Tommy to the perfect hiding place, a rockslide beside a pond. Davorin, a slightly more masculine looking sprite settles on the shore with an aura of eros and mounts Candie’s naked, bark-stripped body. Before long Candie is directing the action and has maneuvered herself on top. By this time, Tommy is bushwhacking furiously and damned if it isn’t the best he’s ever had. Candie even whispers (while fucking!) "Go slow." Davorin thinks she’s talking to him but Candie is telling Tommy not to blow it too soon. It’s good advise because the best part of the show is to come – so to speak. Sprite sex, an extra-curricular activity but a much appreciated lesson. It’s better than any porn, maybe better than the real thing although he’d never know.

Why can’t I be a sprite? Tommy thinks while mopping up with a leaf. Why am I cursed with humanity? But if Candie were here and not cuddling up, post coital, with Davorin, she would play his purpose on her pipe and Tommy would be content with his humanity.


Step Right Up, Folks!

GAPE
at the spectacle of
NATURE'S CRUELEST MISTAKE:

HALF MAN-
HALF ARTIST

He metabolizes meaning-like arabesques of
DUBIOUS PURPOSE

Neurotic Pain Creation in the
grimy plumbings of the porcelain god
Burroughs' Surplus Brainpan Retch
Not Content to be Farmer John's Vegetable
Must be Above the veggies, Model the Garden
Switch ON with Psilocybin - OH
Don't talk about those things anymore, oh
okay, talk about them, just keep talking don't
worry about what you're saying, the sickness
will phase out eventually won't it, I mean
mania is a phase, isn't it, I mean
at least your brain chemistry
is at least partially under
your control.

25 Sep 2005

Projection of Power and Paranoia

That's what happens when you hang out with middle aged folks and absorb arthritic pain through conversational osmosis - you get too cynical too fast. I need fellow foolish youth to prop up my dreams and delusions so I may at least have some fun with them while I can.

Although it might have been nice if Hitler'd had a jaded older friend. "Trust me Adolf, in thirteen years this 'thousand year reich' will be a joke - why don't you take up painting again? Europe is a continent, not a canvas."

I told Finch she was right about the drugs burning me out - while trying very hard to come down from a heavy acid trip.

Some people burn out. For some people, drugs lead to dead ends. These people, and the others around them, are naturally phobic of and hostile to drugs, the notion of drugs, the philosophical/natural justification for their use, altering consciousness, to the predictable point of lumping all drugs together - even damning weed. After all, there are those scientists, and even laymen anecdotalists, who say that THC has been known to trigger schizophrenia and cause schizophrenic-like states in even clean fresh healthy culture-bound minds, people who "have it together". And you did have that nasty paranoid trip last time you smoked a joint didn't you? C'mon, let's face it - the stuff is evil.

Well this is the attitude of either the majority, or has become so through a wealthy and powerful minority's shrill propaganda, so we find ourselves in a culture psychotically suppressive of our sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes just plain weird choices. Hell, we're humans, evolved but we took our monkey curiosity along for the ride. We'll smoke anything once, and if we find our memories of the trip lacking, we might smoke it twice, for the deja-thread.

So this pastiche of opinionated hallucination we call society tries, on a global scale, to sanction certain states of consciousness and ban the rest. And a few of us more curious members lobby, lazily, for cognitive liberty. But the suppression is an expected reaction in this human race, given the power of the places we face in those altered states.

It's just like racism's raison d'etre. I can't justify cognitive tyranny by the self-dubbed "sane" majority, and neither can I justify the hatred of brown-skinned people. But as ugly and horrific as they are, those things are not formless confounding evils inflicted upon us by a purely malevolent, inscrutable devil squished into the end of a definable dichotomy. No, they're predictable symptoms of this natural phenomenon we call humanity. The logical end of domesticated primates, or at least a stage. Earth the Monkey had it all figured out. He graphed it with a stick on the jungle floor.

21 Sep 2005

Waves of Stupidity

Oh no,
another wave of stupidity slammed into me.

Yes, slammed, that'll do.

Stupidity shot teeth through its cheeks in stubborn skeletal growth, wrapped tendrils around the dregs of arbitrary lucidity, grimy cornea surplus tumbled out of a dumpster, is that enough imagery for you?

No, I'll never transmit enough imagery for your mind's rods and cones, never enough to dig myself out of this metaphysical hole. But hey, the hole is home. I've been rotting away here for years, liferot, the chlorophyll rusted, red veins sunk into the mountain. They looked like the wrists of crone chronics from the struldbrugian life extension program, four years in a nursing home and we're on this side of the duality, the royal we, the limousine liberal hazing through an opening on opiate pills, glossing over the details, seeing a slick, rain-painted asphalt, pure in this frame, poetic image possibility number nine-hundred and forty-three.

Clichés leached out with isopropyl alcohol but the residue is substance abuse. Use for the cerebral popinjays with the cranial fortitude to keep chugging on, testosterone pumping, lumping the bright spikes of nuance like me and my struldbrug future into lilliputian nuisance litter to be punted right into the end of the dichotomy. The post-Trotsky pundit, good credit, eyes screwed in, ears filtering filtering filtering, helped himself, created a reality, gated a reality, no entry, no solicitors.

20 Sep 2005

beta wave beats

Delirium calls, reminds me what it was like to abandon everything. It's innocence and pre-dates the fear of puke. It's so old and true. By contrast, the new gnosis is full of holes, goes in so many directions. It's alpha and omega, knows everything and nothing. Karma's disconnection. Was touched by God a few times, I think, but maybe I just touched myself.

*

High scores
continued to blink on the wooden rafters of the ceiling flash

[arbitrary after the bracket, this new way of being blinked into the birth of a cranebular house pocket split in slivers of sillingtendenation that slid thither to a part of drenebular full in the ganting basequintezles of murg. Goused out of garfringling, this fringle sloothed straight statendentures for the plock of problematic wrintixiz.

*

Housed out of the skirts of shantytown, freezing hairs of brilliance from the before time, the "who knows what it could have been" time, freezing in this winter of what icicles claim is the real ridiculous wrungout rationalizations and raison d'etres, they regale me with this ring. I writhed into rooms of chat, proclaiming love for Sucrets, they called me Fluhead: Sitting, spasming, sticking out my tongue, action. Assinging significance, nevermind, niggling, narrating, never knowing, scratching the surface of deep politics, another failed slureof a bundle of breaths

Bong, bong, bong, bong, bullshit, bong, bong, bong, i love you, bong, nada, minstrels of unexamined assumptions, red herrings of fallacious current, eternal now bullshit, bonging past blackout, posted with brigades of flickering fantasy.

Ministers of the best of dated forlong fruiteranted scraps of recants bilge the slough-sauce out of blaring benders of blanked becoming belonging

too good, rhombus good, too good for the others, never allowed to know, but i would tell them if i could, but how real can divinity ever be? you'd be surprised, narrow, you'd be surprised...

i would give everything to her at some point, it couldn't be any other way, destiny and all that, that would be my cinematic narrative with a flakey crust of fake martyrdom, it would sound like a dog whistle, feel like i walked over my grave, subvert in sly ways like overripe cliches the reality in kansan cracks - like we should take it to hysterical levels of histrionic idiocy in the petroleum soaked filters of a doomed civilization

But you can't go far before the wave breaks, the untertow of stupidity seizes you, truth is less than worthless, death of some kind, delirium calls me

18 Sep 2005

serpent excrement

Look where we've come to, from
transcendence to mediocrity ~
hypocrite, meteorite of muon flash
then back to the atmosphere of emissions
this strange coal-black attractor, sweet crude
settling like ash on a land-owner's square, marked
for the next decade of industry to feed the pie-fighting
politicians under ground, breeding the next gen with black
cock-masks protruding ejaculate tubes, click, flick, come, swoosh
vacuum-sealed semen, the progeny we'll never see during this life
of manufactured sobriety, with the cherokee treasure still calling me
cause I saw it in a movie, with the real hallucinations whimpering of a bio-chemical end, with the diviner’s mint tiling me into the solid material exterior to the cursed chemicals for five minutes of perverse perception with razberry pointing to the edifice of the secret, painting the artifice of the secret, trying to enlighten me to her reality, with me lying on the couch in the living room, sore back, one wet foot phased into the jungle, a pattern of neurons spread through moldy bread slices of hyperspace and the moving image of eternity with all the semi-digested trips boiling and toiling in my guts, reaching fingers out of my throat, more more more, no matter what appalling inhuman vibrations claim to be the true nature of this species, laboratory neurorhythm rubbing me against my own grain, rubbing me down into the ground, deeper through quartz crystals and mantle-broth, frothing fractals, synthetic sinews of the earth's inner-lords, rubbing out into the sky, the celestial arbiter cataloged in radiowaves saved in silicon, hard drives, soft lives, soft as the grating flanged synthetic vibration of this evolutionary cul-de-sac, microcosmic death, species a feces wheezing failed breath, shat out of the snake, illuminati symptom resonates cosmic hierarchy, turtles all the way down.

17 Sep 2005

ride snake

used to be clichés
now they fill me

what doesn't kill me corrodes me
can't see strength if it's there

i’m called back to organic chemistry
another tour of duty in a dirty war
but i renounce drugs every week
what do you do after burn out?
sign the next lease on life and
renew your nerve cells, now more
fussy and prone to pain, prone to shame
the ridicule of regeneration, is it a
good deal, good enough to keep going?}
my girlfriend drinks once or twice a month
to excess, usually involves a bottomless pit of misery

so maybe she's real deep into the game, deeper than me
but i don't know, i'm not keeping score
somewhere somebody is retching at the cliché
of calling life a game, somewhere
in someone's reality, "reality" is not a game

it’s what you can get away with, the cliché is true
i just misinterpreted, like a literalist, for so long
rich with delusions, soiled with delusions
rife with opportunities for hallucination

by now i'm a pollock painting
splattered with a million layers
looking back through the colored cobweb
seeing there was never any thinking straight

gnosis
nobody can convince me
of their philosophy, gotta think for me

and one day, i'll come crawling back
to whatever womb i can find

16 Sep 2005

the bleeding edge

where some operate without anaesthesia, painful pleasure of chafing life - the wave of interogation, pointless information grating out of the khmer krahom central command - the heart of the jungle where interpol can't police, you gotta fight the commies by proxy, the extremists and the jewel theives, your allegiencies are so hopelessly perverted and

there's no database entry for the village leader chopped up for fertilizer, just human entropy and burning bodies - just one holocast in a long string of them, i'll churn up deadly factoids like slayer without the metal riffs

choke the rivers with the dead, firewater and bloodstream, never thought it had undone so many, hold onto the rails and puke at the gritty realistic slaughter of the untermensch, someone's gotta carry out the role

and somewhere, somebody is masturbating to Schindler's List

14 Sep 2005

Hunter's Last Trip

he drowned in the lake
and i didn't find out ‘til
drunk at a party, years later
he was high on dmt

like d. m. turner
called the tryptamine a “water spirit” and
drowned in the bathtub on k, entheogenic heroin
what did god look like, did he beckon, send a vision
of the insignificance of safety, a timeless truth?

hunter, jesus christ, and should i be naming names?
is the grunginess of this epitaph just a personal projection?
you'd think a man who decides to live a psychedelic life
would have no interest in prettying up his death
and who am i to say it isn't pretty anyway
and what does he care, he's dead
whatever that means

i guess there's worse ways to go
but since we've all been briefed on how the brain floods with
naturally-produced dimethyltryptamine
from the pineal gland for the run-up to death (us head hobbyists)
there is a feeling of redundancy to hunter's last trip
really puts the "gratuitous" in
gratuitous grace

life is a grace we know we should know
then we go and get drugged
when our space lacks grace
a chemical, ace in the hole

"just say no" they told me in school
but it’s not that simple
abstinence is dissonant
and the body speaks in tongues
and the brain got in there, oblique alien organ
whispered so-called secrets to me:
"cleanse the doors, see the infinite"

but I see the splinter too
like a fractal retinal grain
did hunter see the splinter when he tripped on dmt?
what does he see when he drowns by the docks?

this placid passive empire plagued with psychedelic
deaths, maybe it deserves to be overrun, lebensraum
for the foreign hordes, trust-fund hippies
radial pattern of gentrification, quasi-heritage
so many ways to hate, so many people to despise
i don't want to despise anymore, it's not necessary
just emotion, a chemical, addiction
can't write mein kampf when i'm burnt out
though i'm not burnt out just cause i think i am
burnt out, they're just words, chemicals, addictions

first world, first class
small business paying the boat bills
not a bad life i would think
and drugs are as evil as life is
no more, no less

10 Sep 2005

My state can beat up your state

My state is Great. A mighty great state with high-value currency. Air and naval superiority. A thousand deterrencies so if you’re not in the Nuke Club don’t even think about influencing our policy. We can rain fifty times as much death on the earth as the next greatest state, it's high stakes - did you feel the earth shake? They just blew Bikini Island to hell, testing atomic integrity - looks pretty good to me - fallout cooking your foreign flesh tasty. But a president once said to me: the ability to destroy an island is insignificant next to the emperor’s power to dress in new robes for new times.

My state can beat up your state. It's a state of hegemony. You'd better not fuck with my state. My state is democratic, because we're all modern and we know how things ought to be. After all, we did invent technology. And did I mention democracy?

But we're seasoned democracians so we know there need to be exceptions to democracy, like when people are saying treasonous things and when someone might be a terrorist. And sometimes for the Greater Democratic Good plus smooth statehood we’ll prop up a foreign tyrant, friendly giant, we like it when they save our oil, all snug in a refinery, fine with me.

Oil is important, it's what oils this big shiny gun-bristled democracy-spreading machine and if my Great God-blessed State ran out of gas, it would not be able to protect freedom. That's one of the altruistic side projects of our Great State - securing your freedom. Protecting you from those sub-people that do evil, and from yourselves. Some say we grate on you and why do we continue when you keep on with your shameful ungrateful state-hating sour grapes? I guess we're just too committed to freedom.

If you have anything against my statement, take it up with Mr. Cruise Missile.

8 Sep 2005

Oliver Stone

If I were an American neo-con, which I’m not, since a) I have a brain - b) I have a heart – c) I’ve got courage (plus I'm Canadian) I’d be pretty pissed off that Oliver Stone is making THE movie about 9/11. And of course it’s THE movie, after all, it is Oliver Stone. Love him or hate him, he carries weight. He’s definitely the man to cinematize the tragedy. I doubt he’ll turn it into liberal propaganda. Maybe he’s even gone all jingoistic and realpolitic in old age, who knows? Maybe Vietnamese scars do heal. I don’t know. But I know I’ll probably check it out.

5 Sep 2005

Original Sin 1.4

Tommy is spending the day at grandma’s house. Grandma’s house is a soporific drug, it soothes him for about eight hours, at which point the boredom becomes overwhelming and he starts pressuring his parents to drive home.

Mom is trying to pass information about her garden through grandma’s hearing aid, but Tommy has grown used to the high-volume shriek required, and is lost in his reverie. Today’s reverie concerns Candace, a short, large-breasted blond girl that sits a few tables over in his math class. It seems unfair that any sixteen year old should have tits like that. A travesty that any boy might be allowed anywhere near them. Pearls before swine. She’s "Candy" to Tommy. He wonders if anyone else calls her Candy. He doesn’t know. He barely knows anything except he wants to fuck her. And he knows he never will in this life. So he snaps his fingers every time he imagines that hypothetical fuck. Today he imagines fucking her right in the classroom – an empty classroom, that’s kinky enough. Just him and Candy. What a scene that would be. Such a great fantasy he decides to move it up in the queue. Right to the top. He snaps his fingers again to signify that this wish should be number one. A fine one to start with after death. He’ll thank himself later.

As the conversational drone continues he feels himself growing very erect in his pants. The thin fabric is not concealing the boner very well so it’s time to leave the room. He brought his super nintendo with him today so he’ll plug it into the TV in grandma’s room and play some games.

He shuts the door, plugs in the AC adapter, screws the RF switch into the antique wood-framed television, and bands of static resolve into the brightly-colored splash screen of Super Mario Kart. He selects a race from the Mushroom Cup using Bowser, as always. But his skills are failing him. He keeps crashing into pipes and skidding into the dirt. He kicks out his foot in frustration, knocking over a pile of Danielle Steele novels. He realizes he can’t get Candace out of his mind. He knows what he must do. Combine the two.

Lately, he’s taken to using Mario Kart as a divinational tool, like the I Ching. He much prefers the video game to that ancient Chinese book. The course of many races have proven to be fairly accurate metaphors for the future, fractal resonance from the seeds of the game. He worships the gods of chaos which he calls Fractons. Fractons are what he has to deal with in this crazy world, on this unwinnable level, so far from the light, only able to glimpse the shaft. Here, Fractons rule, and he connects to them with Mario Kart. They’re a plural divinity – another manifestation of the catalog god that will grant his fingersnapping wishes. But the Fractons are of this world.

He selects a new race from Flower Cup, this time as Mario, since Mario represents his sexual prowess, his virile avatar. Mario is Player One, red and ready for action.

As the first course, Chocolate Island 1, fades into view, Tommy recalls a conversation from his math class, overheard near the beginning of the semester. Candace was describing to a friend (tall black-haired Samantha, pretty fine herself but not Candy-level) a piano recital she’d been to. She was raving about the pianist whose name Tommy forgot. She seemed awestruck by the virtuosity and beauty of the playing. Tommy could see the appreciation in Candy’s intelligent eyes, that split second glance he dared steal. It felt like a key, a key to Candace, an impossible connection – an impression! But he’d quit playing four years ago and was barely any good back then. Maybe he could start again though. Would it be worth trying? Getting back on that punishing arpeggio regime?

Now is the time for casting. The Mario-casting. This race, Chocolate Island 1, will determine whether he’ll be able to develop his technique to the point where he can impress Candace. Enough to make her his girlfriend. That alone would be enough, forget sex. That would blow his fucking mind.

The race gets off to a good start. He jumps to the lead, then gets a mushroom powerup which he uses right before a jump, soaring straight over a barrier and a mud pit. He imagines his angle of approach for his first kiss with Candy. He slams into a pipe. He imagines sinking his hand into her thick blond hair. He navigates around the pipe only to get bogged down in a mud slick. He imagines how firm Candy’s breasts will feel through her shirt. Donkey Kong roars past putting him in second place. Then the Princess passes putting him in third!

Damn fucking hyper-responsive Mario! Tommy thinks. I can’t steer with this prick, I’m used to Bowser!

Yoshi passes, putting Mario in fourth place. Mario has good acceleration but Tommy is still not used to the increased steering sensitivity and turns too early, slamming into a wall. Now he’s in last place. He hopes for a decent powerup that will again launch him ahead of the pack, but when he passes over the question boxes, all he gets is a useless banana peel. Lap five arrives much too soon, and although he manages to climb in rank, he only finishes fourth place.

"Fuck!" he yells, then winces because his parents will surely hear through the thin walls.

Fourth place! For a Mario Kart master! Fourth place is surely not good enough for Candy. Surely not good enough to do justice to Beethoven’s Fourteenth Sonata. Negative motherfucking outcome, no Candy. No wait. He got fourth place so he’s still advancing to the next round. Technically that’s not a "loss". This first race can’t decide it, he tells himself, he usually goes through a whole cup to decide an important issue. On to the next course.

Ghost Valley 2 goes well for Tommy’s Mario. An easy victory. But Donut Plains 2 is a disaster. The damned bouncing moles attach themselves to him and slow him down on two occasions. The winding course wreaks havoc on his hypersensitive steering. Too many turns, too many fuck ups. He ranks out. Angrily he hits the retry button and finishes a mediocre third place. But that’s Donut Plains 2 with Mario for you. The next race will be better.

He zooms into first place right away in Bowser’s Castle and stays there for the next four laps but then careens off a jump into the lava on the final lap, recovering to a pathetic fourth place. Cursing Mario, he sees that in the overall standing, he’s only six points behind Donkey Kong and three points behind the Princess. If he can take them both out in the final lap with a turtle shell or something, he can cause them to rank out and still achieve victory, albeit with a low score. So impressing Candy will be a hard battle of course, those fucking arpeggios will take months, maybe years of practice, but he’ll fucking do it, just you watch. He’ll do it with Mario.

Mario Circuit 3, a tricky course to win with Mario. Almost as tricky as playing the third movement of the Moonlight Sonata with his stubby fingers. He’s in first place by the middle of the second lap and holding. He’s racing aggressively, lapping the last place racer and nailing the seventh placer with a green shell. He’s well ahead by the fourth lap. Then he runs into a fireball thrown by Bowser, the seventh placer he lapped, spinning out. Donkey Kong is roaring up behind him, eating away his lead.

Oh right! he thinks, I’ve got to take out Donkey Kong and the Princess to win! Luckily he’s got a red shell, a guided missile. He lets both racers pass him, then he opens fire on the Princess, scoring a direct hit and causing her to spin out. He passes her and rides over the question boxes ahead, hoping desperately for a useful powerup with which to kill Donkey Kong. He gets a green shell which can be lethal, but only with perfect marksmanship, since it isn’t guided. Final stretch of the final lap, Donkey Kong ahead, only once chance. He lines the big ape in his sights. Fires. HITS! Donkey Kong spins out, Mario is going to pass. Donkey Kong is accelerating again but Mario has the momentum. He’s about to take the lead.

Then he stops cold, spins out.

"What the fuck?!" Tommy says. It was a banana peel. Donkey Kong dropped a banana peel right before starting off again. Dropped it right over a yellow question box so it couldn’t be seen. And now he’s nearly at the finish line. Mario tries to catch up but he can’t. Donkey Kong wins the race.

"Godfuckingdamnit!" Tommy shouts, no longer caring who hears.

The princess takes second. Yoshi takes third. Mario finally crosses the line, taking fourth place. Tommy sits angrily through the victory ceremony. Smug Donkey Kong stands at the top of the podium. It’s Jim. Sneaky Jim, finding use for a banana peel. Jim wins Candy. Didn’t he see him talking to her once? He’ll have her. It’s as inexorable as a red guided turtle shell finding its mark. Jim’s fucking landmine. He’s laughing all the way to the bank.

Tommy shuts off the super nintendo in disgust. There’s nothing to be done. He kicks at the toppled pile of Danielle Steele novels, scattering them over the floor. Then he sees a thin square book propped against the shelf. A children’s book. He picks it up. There’s a red anthropomorphic boat sailing down a stream with a benevolent owl looking down. SCUFFY the tugboat is the title. Tommy’s eyes tear up. It is bar none the cutest image he’s ever seen in his life. Scuffy has adorable black pupils in large vertical eyes, glinting sunlight at the tops of their ovals. Under the innocent eyes are wrinkles denoted by single curves which make Scuffy look like an old baby. Above the eyes is a heavy brow of confused determination. Scuffy sails into the unknown. If rural tugboats had personalities this is exactly how they’d manifest visually. At the top: "a little golden book", at the bottom: "copyrighted material".

Tommy feels his anger melt away. He doesn’t care about Candace anymore, Jim is irrelevant. He wants to sail with Scuffy, he wants to wrap his arms around Scuffy’s hull, a spring morning embrace. He snaps his fingers. He catalogs the transcendental cuteness for future use. Somehow it will happen but probably not for a while. He will have to endure the sight of beautiful girls who call him "disgusting" to his face, and junior executives who mock his spirituality. He will have to endure this for years and years.

But he’s recognized the right details at the right time. The sacredness of Scuffy. So his life is not a waste. There’ll be other details to peg. There’s nothing more important than sacredity and what’s sacred is what he deems sacred. No all-encompassing cop-outs like the native Indians indulge in. Losing at Mario Kart was not sacred. That will be purged with his biological husk when it goes under the ground. But Scuffy will be a collector’s item. A nice little slice of 1995, to be combined with other slices in ways he hasn’t yet conceived, sublime juxtapositions that will engineer happiness on a transcendent level. Cuteness times coolness times energy to the power of whatever awaits to be discovered. Cataloged. And fuck Jimmy, how could that asshole ever understand? Let him bust up some more unions and take over his dad’s company, fucking business nerd – he’ll never understand.


So much sacredity. Tommy feels it, a gestalt, oozing out of every overlapping neurological pattern. Now he knows what’s coming. The blank. It always seems to hit him after an overload of sacredity. It’s going to feel sick. It’s going to taint everything. It does. How can he fill it? He ate all the licorice he bought for the car ride to Grandma’s house so that’s not an option. The blank feels unusually specific in this case, unusual for being a form of emptiness. It’s a pattern of emptiness. Carved into a pattern of substance. The substance of fingersnapping. It’s like the fingersnapping pattern needs something. A fingersnap!

Somehow he knows what he has to do. This is the dawn of fingersnapping in a way. The day he snaps his fingers to sanctify the fingersnapping. He must encase fingersnapping itself in the fingersnapping scheme, the regime at the end of this dirty biological Mario-Kart course. He thinks: I fingersnap that fingersnapping shall be a reality. He snaps his fingers. And the blank is gone. All it took was a little meta-stasis.

***

Math class, 1996. Tommy has discovered a novel way to avoid working on math problems. Composing. He never did bother to work on his piano technique. Mario Kart confirmed that he’d fail. But he’s getting a kick out of attempting to write music using notation and nothing else. He’s filling up staff paper with the few musical symbols he knows, humming softly what he thinks he’s writing. Around him, students have their textbooks open to page fifty-three where thirty algebra problems demand to be solved.

Candace is in some other class this year but seventeen-year-old Samantha is looking hotter than ever. Tommy occasionally sneaks a look behind him when his peripherals confirm that her head is turned away. He wants to see her breasts bulging inside her white tee-shirt, but his glances must be frustratingly fleeting. He confirms that the contours are deliciously round, then turns back to his staff paper and pencils in a flurry of sixteenth notes, an arpeggio he could never play. Hopefully it’ll harmonize with the bass octaves he wrote a minute ago. Hard to tell with just his head, he’s no Mozart. He thinks maybe he could write a masterpiece though. He finished first place in Special Cup while thinking about his compositional ambitions, but it was a strange race. If he pursued-

"Hey, Satan boy," someone says. Tommy snaps around. "Can I borrow your calculator? I forgot mine."

It’s Scott, Tommy recognizes, a ridiculously tall, thick-limbed kid. Rumour has it he’s nineteen years old because he failed a grade once or twice. He’s partial to the Satan-related insults, but he throws them out as a matter of course, with a malice so casual it’s barely detectable. He seems to expect Tommy to take it in stride. Why not, interaction between Tommy and the student body usually involves some form of belittlement. Like Tommy doesn’t realize he’s servant class.

"My calculator?"

"Yes, your cal-cu-la-tor," Scott repeats in exaggerated slowness, casually annoyed.

Tommy stares ahead with blazing eyes, rage rising. He can’t think of what to say. Scott speaks again: "well c-

"No. You can’t." Tommy’s voice is grave. Murderous. He can feel the violence chemically sloshing around in his skull. There’s no stopping it.

"Why not?"

"Because you’re an asshole," Tommy states like he’s solving an equation.

He doesn’t turn to see Scott’s reaction. He wants to write some more music, use this rage and righteous comeback to perfect his composition. He squeezes his pencil tight. But he’s bracing himself because he knows it’s not over.

"No wonder nobody likes you," Scott says with mock sorrow. Tommy sees him smile in peripheral, then lean over to whisper something to a friend. There is laughter somewhere. Tommy turns and sees that the whisper has spread all the way to Samantha, tits out eternally. She laughs, then shoots Tommy a condescending look while he’s caught fixated on her chest. Tommy’s dick hardens as his eyes blaze brighter. It’s so wrong. He stares at the centre of the room, right through the teacher’s torso but Samantha’s image from the waste up is burned into his brain, as vivid as the mind’s eye can manage. Her long black hair. Her smirk. Her knockers, puncturing that white sleeveless shirt. Her fucking smirk, that makes him hardest of all. Her contempt. It’s so wrong but how else could it be? Before he can stop himself he snaps his fingers. Because he sees Samantha and Candace together. In this room, the classroom, the math room. With these people, even "satan-boy" Scott. Candace and Samantha smiling, smug, sweet like expensive perfume, like bling luxury, like red sports cars, sweet as they call him names, tease his cock, laugh at his little life in the corner, his inappropriate erection, Tommy who would never discuss anything sexual with anyone, Scott leading the male chorus to counterpoint that sweet laughing contempt, a whole choir, soprano nymphs of sexy cruelty, tenor muscles, enforcement of reality.

So fucking wrong. And so fucking hot, thermostat through the roof. Tommy starts to sweat. He snaps his fingers again. Here, now, imagine, Candace, Samantha, Scott watching, everybody watching, grabbing, grabbing Samantha, nevermind Candy, throwing her onto the desk, the chorus turned to gasps, Tommy animal, sex organ full in abandon, monster cock, monster defiler, monster attacking the beautiful slut, no mercy, gratification, ripping open her shirt, small boy with raw power seizing the tall girl like a rag doll, human doll, whimpering, crying as he yanks down her jeans and panties in one violent motion, forces himself into her, lubricated by pure lust, precumming in her cunt, titties free for his hands as the thrusting begins, monster seed anti-Christ Fracton to spurt deep into her, fuck fuck FUCK… Then his imagination takes control of him, has Candy pry his frail weasel body off her, has Scott knock him to the floor with an uppercut, thick-limbed fucker with knuckles the size of golf balls, monster Tommy on the floor, frail monster with a massive erection, naked loser lust sprung from the pelvis, army of righteously angry students surrounding. Tommy knows what’s coming. Jayson, another bad boy pulls out his pocket knife, impossibly long and sharp. Scott plants his palm on Tommy’s forehead while Jayson kneels down with the knife, grabs his penis and slices it off in one brutal motion. Blood fountains up from the severed sex organ, Tommy feels the end of lust, the end of life, every fingersnapping wish draining out of him with blood, between his balls, the end, the blank.

The blank is bloody, covered with blood. The finger-snapping circuit is gone, empty, profound emptiness, dark chill. There is no fingersnapping. The images fade, the teacher’s torso returns, hideous, meaningless. Something compels Tommy to stand up, just as the room’s intercom sounds:

Tom Lewis, report to Mr. Anderson’s office please. Tom Lewis.

Strange coincidence. The predictable insults waft up from every corner of the room. Tommy’s name seems a rally point for the pogrom. Anderson is the guidance counselor. Tommy thinks it must be about all the school days he skipped. Ironic that he wants Tommy to skip class to discuss it. But that’s fine with him, since this classroom stimuli is obviously driving him insane. Somehow he lost the fingersnapping thread and it’s freaking him out. The blank has never been this strong before.

He eagerly heads toward the back door. Then he remembers that he doesn’t know where Mr. Anderson’s office is. He’s still sweating, heart pounding, feeling faint. He’s on the edge. He swivels his head toward the teacher and asks: "Where’s Mr. Anderson’s office?"

Jayson, sitting next to the door, snickers loudly and the boy beside him mutters: "What a dork."

"Mr. Anderson’s office is right in the main office complex," Mr. Ford says with a roll of his eyes. "On the second floor," he adds. More snickers.

"Know where that is?" asks Jayson.

Tommy is frozen again. The rage is sloshing inside his head, even more of it, sloshing around in that blank tank and his fingers feel meaningless, nails cut. He can’t snap his way out of this one, that’s too weak, it won’t do. And he cut his fingernails yesterday, why did he do that? He can’t even cut himself and pretend it’s someone else. These people cut his dick off. Every one of them. They cut his dick off every day. He can’t leave now, the blank must be filled. But how? Fingersnapping feels empty. He must fight reality with reality, it’s the only way. To fill.

Being frozen in place, he’s drawing attention from the class.

"Damn, who smells like poo, is that him?" asks Jayson’s friend. The laughter networks out into the class. The rage sloshes, overflows, it feels like it’s flowing through his veins and arteries, is it adrenaline? He’s never felt so much of it at once. Many eyes are on him now. It’s coming to a head.

"Don’t worry, you’ll be happy in heaven one day," someone snarks, someone he doesn’t know. But he must have been there in the English room the day Jim publicly demolished his arguments for the inner light. Samantha’s friend chimes in: "He can wear his shit-stained underwear and stare at girl’s boobs all day long on cloud nine."

Uproarious laughter at this zinger. The teacher says nothing. Tommy is shaking. About to leave, but – no. This isn’t finished yet. A creepy calm settles over him. He’s made a decision. He walks slowly back to his desk drawing more stares.

People have asked him why he carries a gym bag to class. It’s clearly overkill for a few textbooks. But it’s just the right size for the punishing stick. The punishing stick dates back to last winter when kids from the junior high across town walking home the opposite way took to throwing snowballs at him after school. After a month the indignity had exceeded tolerable levels.

"Stop throwing snowballs at me," Tommy remembers turning back and saying to the gang.

"I didn’t. It fell off the lamppost," laughed the kid in the red coat.

"I said stop it. I’m going to be armed next time."

"OhHOHO," red coat said, laughing.

"I’ll fucking cut your throat," Tommy said. "Don’t fuck with me."

"You wanna fuckin fight?" red coat sneered.

"I fight on my own terms. No one else’s. Stay out of my way."

"So scared," red coat’s friends taunted.

Tommy turned back.

"Yeah, just walk away," someone jeered.

Tommy walked away, nauseas, shaking, feeling empty except for one thought: going home and creating his weapon. He arrived home, grabbed a kitchen knife and sunk it halfway through the back of a wooden chair (his parents were pissed when they discovered the gash). But this didn’t come close to relieving the rage. He stormed into his room, grabbed the long piece of scrap wood he used to prop open the heat vent, and wrote "punishing stick" on the side with a black marker. But it needed something else. He opened his closet to look for the jar of super-sized nails he’d bought when he was building his tree fort so many years ago. The long ones were still there, the hammer beside the jar. He pounded one into the end of the stick. It stuck out three inches on the other side. Tommy examined his weapon, then pounded two more nails above the first, one on each side of the board. The end of the punishing stick now sported a triangle of spikes.

After the creation of the punishing stick he started carrying a gym bag to school. But he also started walking home a different way because he didn’t really want to use it. The punishing stick now lies at the bottom of Tommy’s gym bag, beside his books. He grabs it without hesitation. He picks it up and holds it with both hands. The onlookers don’t know what to make of it. Tommy’s eyes scan the room. He feels the dreadful momentum of the situation in every cell. No going back now, course is set.

"Tommy, what the hell- " Mr. Ford says, but Tommy won’t let him finish. Jayson is the chief bastard but it was Samantha’s bitch girlfriend that set him off with that hideous joke about heaven. She will be the first, and only if necessary. Tommy walks slowly down the aisle toward the center of class and Samantha’s table, holding the punishing stick low in his right hand and slapping it into his left repeatedly. The class is frozen in shock. This is reality and reality is not a place for heroes. Tommy stands beside Samantha’s friend, a small brown-haired girl with modelesque hair. Words cut into his head like he’s diving through a windshield in a loop {shit-stained heaven dork what a shit-stained is that him no wonder nobody happy in heaven likes you know where that is shit-stained boobs} He raises the stick, trembling.

"What are you doing?" the girl asks, also trembling. Tommy stares straight into her eyes {girly-boy heaven is for losers shit-stained is that him?we use people satan-boy no wonder nobody likes what a dork he can wear his shit-stained}

"You don’t care, you don’t care, you don’t care," Tommy breathes barely audible and, channeling years of rage, drives the punishing stick down towards her head, the cumshot. The left-most nail plunges into her pretty hair, tearing out a clump. The stick slams into the table, nails poking far out the other end. The splintering thud is deafening. Everyone jumps, pretty-hair screams, commotion and cursing begins, several seats empty.

I grazed her! Tommy thinks. I missed! He yanks his punishing stick back out of the table, only barely dislodging it. Several students have fled the class. Tommy twists around to see that Jayson is lunging for him. He wields the stick in a batting stance, then swings at Jayson who tries to deke out Tommy. He doesn’t twist far enough out of the way and two of Tommy’s nails connect with Jayson’s right hand. The impact is divine – both spikes stick out the other side and blood spatters on the wall behind. Jayson barks in surprise but still manages to tackle Tommy on his left flank. Tommy slams into a table and loses his grip on the punishing stick which now dangles from Jayson’s hand.

He uses both arms for leverage, gripping the edge of the table and attacking with a flying drop kick to Jayson’s stomach. Jayson tumbles backwards, out of commission, wheezing, moaning, then screaming, punishing stick still attached to his hand. Most of the remaining students have moved toward the doors and are blocking escape. Mr. Ford has stepped into the hallway and is yelling something. In his peripheral vision he can see that Scott (not Jayson, oddly enough) has pulled a knife. The situation is starting to look too much like Tommy’s recent nightmare/reverie. It’s coming true! He mustn’t let them capture him!

He makes a run for the back door but he’s body checked from the side by a burly male student, probably some hockey jock. He’s thrown into the wall. His head flashes white, then he comes to on the floor. The hockey jock is on top of him, pinning him, grabbing his arms, forcing them behind his back. They’re starting to hurt, eclipsing the pain in his spine. Tommy’s rage flares again. He’s close enough to the kid’s face, he lunges upward and bites into his nose, ripping through its soft rubbery flesh, tasting blood. The jock screams, the hold relaxes. Tommy pushes himself off, springs to his feet and reaches the door in two paces. He turns the knob and sprints out into the mostly empty hall, freaked out voices echoing behind him. Mr. Ford sounds enraged.

"Stop!" he yells. Tommy giggles. He can’t remember ever feeling so good. Some people are ahead of him, running the same way, running from him.

He tears down the hall, faster still. Some classrooms have opened their doors to see what the fuss is about. It seems incredibly surreal. Tommy wonders if he got so deep into one of his fingersnapping fantasies that he’s totally removed from reality – but the pain in his arms and back and teeth won’t allow him to believe that. He knows this is real. Gloriously real. He tastes blood.

He reaches the staircase where he once overheard Jimmy’s stories and knows this will be the last time he ever sees it. It blurs past him as he quickens his pace even further and he feels a ridiculous pang of sadness. He leaps from the third stair down, landing hard at the halfway point. He tumbles, slams into the wall, gets up, elated, takes a run, tries to leap the whole next half of the staircase laughing as he jumps. Close but no cigar, he hits the fourth stair up, slips, does a graceless cartwheel into the second floor doorway. Another bright flash, must have hit his head on something. He springs back up, launches himself at the next stairwell bounding five steps at a time, this time keeping on his feet.

Ground floor and he’s in sight of the main entrance when he sees Jim coming the other way. He stops for some reason, like he bounced off a force field, the Jim field. Jim locks eyes on him. Tommy holds his gaze, realizing that this is the first time he’s ever done that.

"You finally did it, didn’t you?" Jim says in an inscrutable tone.

"Did what?" Tommy says in an equally inscrutable, if maniacal, voice.

Jim doesn’t answer. He walks quietly past Tommy, heading for the library. Voices and footsteps grow louder from the floors above.

"Hey Jimmy!" Tommy shouts. Jim turns around. He says: "Did you just call me- "

"Yeah – Jimmy!" he says. Then flips him the bird. Then he runs at the door, slamming into the push-handle. It flies open, nearly busts its hinges and swings back with a thud. Tommy charges off into the cool spring air.

***

Tommy is halfway up the grass hill below the student parking lot when the laughter stops and the guilt floods in like corrosive acid. He doesn’t think it has anything to do with the nails he drove through Jayson’s hand or the flesh he bit off the hockey jock’s nose, although he does feel the shadow of the wrath of Jim, even as the school buildings grow smaller behind him. Jim’s empire must stretch further than that little educational institution. But the guilt is strange and complex.

"Oh god," he says. "Oh god." Perhaps he should pray to the Fractons. The gods of chaos. They’re all he has left. He betrayed his fingersnapping spirituality. Betrayed it for reality. He can’t go back to school. He’s betrayed his family. Mom and Dad will be livid. He can’t go back home. He’s on his own. He’s out of society. That chapter is finished.

"Oh god," he says, tearing up. His voice is hoarse, his throat is in agony, he’s got a stitch in his side, and he’s reduced to jogging. But he’s still pushing himself to the limit. He crosses the parking lot and cuts straight through the high grass and shrub of the unkempt upper hill. Beyond that is the forested mountain slope. It’s the only place to go. The city is a vengeful mob. He’s betrayed them all. "Oh god," he moans.

It's all out in the open now. His true self. The monster. He must learn to live with it.

"Oh god, but why didn’t I kill the bitch?" he moans to himself, whacking through the bush above the parking lot. "Because I couldn’t," he answers. "I didn’t miss. I hit the table. That’s what I was aiming for. I couldn’t kill her… I’m weak." A weak monster. Never even got to be a rapist. Got out of the classroom with his teeth. He spits out a pink loogie but he still tastes blood.

Finally he crosses into the forest. He enters a skinny, rarely used path and imagines what will happen at school in his wake. "It won’t be glamorous," he reasons. "I left the punishing stick behind. I’ll be some sad disturbed fruitcake who managed to spike one poor student through the hand, then bit his way out like a rabid pants-pissing maniac. Jayson will be a hero. The youth who boldly rushed the maniac, probably stopped him from killing a bunch of kids. They’ll give him a fucking medal. And the grief counselors will tell the whole class how brave they are for surviving the ordeal. My little stunt probably won’t even make the front page of the Daily News – school shootings have more pizzazz. The kids with guns did it better. Fatalities – that’s what people want to see. I’m a C grade maniac. I’m not even going to kill myself."

Tommy walks on. The path grows steeper, the forest denser. His tears dry up. The noise of cars fades away. The heavy industry on the outskirts of town fades too and a strange calm settles over him. He doesn’t know where he’s going but he’s content to walk. Forever. Just walk away. The path feels good. Sacred even. He snaps his fingers for the path. It could lead to lost cities, fertile lands, enchanted woods. He must incorporate this path into his future itinerary. He doesn’t think of it as the heaven itinerary anymore because he doesn’t feel quite alive anymore. His former life is finished. This isn’t death exactly but… limbo maybe. The endless forest. This is the forest he’s pussyfooted around all his life. Now he’s striking deep into it.

The path eventually intersects with a high-altitude flat trail that he’s walked before, but it continues up the mountain. The flat trail leads almost right to his home at the edge of the forest but the sloped path goes in the opposite direction. He continues upward, opposite, away. He pays no mind to what he’s going to do, but he does wonder if he has anything on him. He goes through his pockets. In his left pocket there is nothing but a quarter and a bunch of lint. There is a folded piece of paper in the other. He unfolds it and sees that it’s a picture of Scuffy the Tugboat. He’d found a jpeg image of the book cover online and printed it on his dad’s inkjet many months ago. Tommy looks at the poorly printed image, a smile growing on his face. Finally he bursts out laughing. It must have been in his pocket for ages. He hadn’t got around to doing his laundry in a while so who knows how long it could’ve been there?

All he has in the world is a quarter and a picture of Scuffy. He sits down on a boulder and laughs some more. A quarter and Scuffy in the middle of the forest. And you can’t go home again. He looks at the page and tears up again.

"Oh Scuffy… You’re so pure," he says. "So innocent. I want to join you." Scuffy stares ahead, intent on his journey. "You’re in my heart." Tommy snaps his fingers to prove this. Sometimes fingersnapping wishes are non-specific. They’ll be worked out later. Some activity will be created that will perfectly embody Scuffy being in Tommy’s heart.

"We’ll have adventures together some day, Scuffy. I filled in the blank. I wounded Jayson. I gave him a dose of reality. I fought. My career as a warrior is over now. I want to sail with you Scuffy. Down the stream." Tommy giggles again, then the giggles turn to sobs. Then he stuffs the page back into his pocket and continues up the path.

4 Sep 2005

BURNT OUT

Supercharged my brain

couldn't handle the energy

overloaded

that other level
is a ravenous mind-devouring beast