REPORT A PROBLEM
As you go deeper and deeper into trance, all of your muscles grow more and more relaxed. Until your entire body relaxes, and is relaxed. Very, very relaxed. You feel nothing but a deep sense of relaxation and satisfaction. When you emerge from trance, you will be prepared to go balls-to-the-wall. You will be a little less neurotic and a little more psychotic. You will shatter the doubts that hold you in. You're paralyzing need to be liked will give way to firm conviction. You will fear only cages, and you'll take no shit from any quarter. You will rule.
IF I WERE A RICH MAN. I could eat steak every day and get the fat sucked away. I could drink all I wanted, do all the drugs I wanted, and then lounge in rehab and take a break from the assholes. When I told someone to fuck off, it would actually hurt their feelings. If I had money, I could bag any friends I wanted. And when I wanted anything, I could pay for it, but I wouldn't even NEED to pay for it, dig, ‘cause people would just GIVE it to me, ‘cause I'd be so motherfucking wealthy.
This great nation has almost cured impotence and depression. If you can suck up the sensitivity and get the dick up, you're ready for most anything. Wouldn't mind getting gored by shrapnel or starving to death myself, provided I could bow out with a stiff tool and a grin on my mug. Let's talk about what matters. There are too many of us. At least in the cities, and I don't see your ass moving to rural Wyoming. Let's get this team in shape. Cut the fuckups. Sex v. violence. For every people we add, we subtract a few more.
Emilie remembers wanting very badly to feel superior to her schoolmates, wondering if she, standing in the same lunch line with the same processed shit on the same plastic tray, was at all unique. Of course she was. She was superior. But the folks told her bragging was wrong. So Emilie did modesty like it had never been done before. She was the ace of self-deprication. She made up insulting verses about herself and cooed them aloud. She took on every task she couldn't handle, for the joy of apologizing when she inevitably fucked up. She shot the humility moon.
You have no right to be alive. You can't own property without paying for it. You can't live on someone else's property if they don't want you there. And you can't make money – much less endure on the streets – without a struggle. At least not in America. And if you live in a nation where the Man takes care of you, you have to defend the Man when another, less sympathetic Man tries to topple him. You have no rights you aren't willing to defend. And if you aren't willing to sweat for anything, no one's going to guard you.
Wrightwood's IQ tested at genius levels. He couldn't think of anyone smarter than himself (although a few of his friends were close enough). His intelligence would've pleasured him, if he didn't live in a world populated with stumbling, drooling idiots. In his ulcerous rage, he told all the idiots what idiots they were, all the time. (They were too stupid to know.) He got revenge by hurting morons' feelings. Until one trog took offense and bashed Wrightwood's head in with a shovel. When he woke, his IQ was 76, and he was still an asshole with no sense of humor.
Everyone agreed that god had put in hard work. Although he was tired and a little ill, several circles decided to throw down in his honor. Trouble was, most of them scheduled their parties on the same night. A few even booked the same clubs, which caused massive hostility. At this point, someone suggested that all god's friends supporters converge for one big bash, but with all the hurt feelings, this wasn't going to happen. The big night arrived, and god, feeling drained and unwilling to snub any of his people, drew the blinds, ordered a pizza and stayed in.
ARROGANCE: To borrow one of Freud's less noted thoughts on masturbation, the only thing to be ashamed of is doing it badly. DREAMS: I had one last night in which the closing line was "Christ is back! And she's a librarian!" I'm almost positive there was nothing profound about it. FREESTYLE: I'll damage you, bitch. Feel the wrath in my blowback. I'm an atheist now, I can't believe that you're so wack. And I'm out. TALL TALE: OK, here goes. I'm never going to see these people again, so I'll practice my storytelling. "I grew up in a Mafia family!"
It's absurd. Of course it doesn't make any sense. You're all so sensitive to the mosquito bites on your calves, yet you haven't noticed the elephant shitting mountains in your living room. And I'm the only one who sees it. And I can scream about it and dance circles around it and you'll just think I'm crazy. This is how it's supposed to be, how it's always been. This is how it works. Yes, indeed. Naturally, natch. And if I take this seriously and look for a way out, I wake up, and it's Monday morning, which is nothing good.
You fail because you were born to fail. You fail because it's the easy way. You fail because success wouldn't suit you. You fail because it's cool. Because it's sexy. You fail because it tortures those who care about you. You fail because, hey, you're going to die anyhow, right? You fail because there is no god. You fail because it's hereditary. You fail because you're poor. You fail because there's nothing left to believe in. You fail because you want people to like you, and everyone hates a success. You fail because you duck risk. You fail every time.
You find a small snowglobe at the Salvation Army. You drop 50 cents and take it home. At night, you realize there's a tiny bulb backlighting the scenery, fueled by a struggling battery you'd have to destroy the thing to replace. You pass the snowglobe between your hands and roll it around in your palms. The flakes float about, and it's relaxing. However, as you focus on it, you notice the flakes are actually tiny marine life, and you're making them edgy. They bump against the glass in their escape attempts. You hear little blipping sounds as they bounce backward.
Can I just have a moment of your time? I've lived in this neighborhood for years, about four blocks down that way. My wife and kids are in my car, in the parking lot around the corner. I just got through driving them home. Spent the whole day on the interstate highway. And I just now ran out of gas. And I ain't got NO money. I've been out of work since before Christmas. So, if you want, I'll give you my name and address, and I'll pay you back just as soon as I'm able. I'm only asking fortendollarsorwhateveryoucanspare.
She thought if she behaved obnoxiously enough, she'd shake him and be rid of him. But he's still there, just not as close as before. Then, she thought if she rejected him outright, he'd disappear, hurt and angry, unable to do the same to her. He simply ignored her threats and insults, and stayed put. She thought she'd scare the shit out of him, but he held it in. She keeps trying to get out of their contract. He keeps rewriting it. He doesn't follow her around like he once did, but he always seem to know where she is.
The mouth breather ambles onto the bus, inspecting a girl's legs as she departs, mouthing "damn" and pretending to wipe sweat from his forehead. He sits down on the bench that folds up when someone brings a wheelchair on the bus. Thirty minutes later, by the time we move into Lincoln Park, there are still no handicapped travelers, and the mouth breather is joined by a skinny redhead with a discman. "You listening to music?" MB inquires. The redhead nods. "What's your name?" he continues. She shakes her head NO, not in disbelief or disappointment, but resolutely. It's nothing new.
On weekends, I mixed all my Matchbox cars up in demolition derbies. I'd hold them between my thumb and fingers, then snap my wrist back and let them fly. They'd roll across the floor and blindside their rivals. No twisting metal or breaking glass, just a click at the moment of impact. When a car flipped 180 degrees, it was out. The last car upright won the title to defend. Some cars performed more impressively in the deeper carpet downstairs. You'd think the heavier ones would always triumph, but not necessarily, with all the others gunning to take them out.
"I'm not going to put your name on my account. You can open your own account." "Hey, do you have that movie Spirit?" "I'm not watching that movie with you." "Why not? It's a good movie!" "It's stupid!" "It's a good, dramatic movie. It's about a horse, and it's a good movie." "Stop being an ass!" "I'm getting it. I'm paying for it." "OK, if we're getting Spirit, we're getting Queer As Folk." "Nah. I ain't watching that shit." "Why not? Stop being an ASS!" "I know Spirit is good. I've seen it." "You've already SEEN it?" "I LIKE it!"
I'm out of it. Lost in space. I see only green splotches, like you see when you close your eyes after staring into a monitor. I've got a hole in my head where the wind comes in, and anything you say is going to drain right out, run down my shirt and drip onto the floor. It's going to stain the carpet. I won't even notice. My mind is that shot. Could you run that by me again? Sorry. You had me for a moment, but I fell by the wayside. I lost you. Let's take it from the top.
America ain't ready for ethical anarchy. Sorry. I like cops. I think they're necessary. There are plenty of good cops, doing their best in a crooked world. I would not be a good cop. No sir. After a few weeks of being lied to, attacked and mistrusted, I'd be pulling random teenagers over, taking their drugs and beating them senseless. I think police work would make anyone cynical. Most everyone you encounter is hiding something from you. Granted, a lot of cops are sadistic assholes. Bullies gone pro. But condemning all cops is simpleminded, and I prefer sadists to fools.
IT'S ALMOST OVER. History is written. The book is closed. Time to pack up and head home. All that's going to happen has happened already. Nothing new is in the cards, just vacant nostalgia. Sorry you had to show up so late, but them's the breaks. This scene's dead. Over. Kaput. Out like a barely recalled dream. This is the end, beautiful friend, the end. That's it. Let's peel out. There was never much going to begin with. Now there ain't shit, as far as the eye can spy. Haven't you realized it's over? What are you hanging around for?
After Daddy was cremated, I had his ashes mixed with iron filings and placed in a enormous Etch-a-Sketch. But I can't get the old man to communicate much. When I try to write with him, the letters end up as meaningless little curlicues. I was never much good at cursive, and I can't flow letters together without creating a huge tangle of yarn. When Daddy starts to comment on current affairs, he can't stop until he's made a futile mess. At least now I can see him smile again. Even beyond the grave, Daddy retains the world's most honest grin.
It's not the heat, it's the stupidity. It's the stupidity that's got me down. It's the fluoride, the fluorescent lights, the flickering TV screen that've screwed y'all around. It's that same sensation that makes me wanna scratch my balls in the grocery line. That makes y'all think that you might be runnin' outta time. You've been through it all and you ain't learned a goddamned thing. You sacrifice another hour… Duty calls, and you let that motherfucker ring. You pound your knuckles into brick, and the blood runs up your sleeve. You don't question, but you damn sure don't believe.
I fell asnooze on the Red Line, going south. I don't remember where I was headed, only that I wasn't too excited about arriving there. I floated away as the train emerged from the Loop and approached Cermak-Chinatown. Lost all awareness of my coordinates. Before I dozed off, I started seeing neighborhoods I didn't recognize. I've ridden all the way to 95th, so I suppose I'd have found this odd if I'd had my wits about me. When I woke, I saw miles of swamp dotted with rickety shacks. I rode all the way to New Orleans. I didn't mind.
THE SAFECRACKER. I'm not going to snuff you outright. Too messy. I squeezed a man's neck once, watched him choke to death, and I'm still paranoid about it. Who knows where crimefighting technology will go in my lifetime? Not worth the trouble, ‘specially if they're already sniffing me, which I think they are. I've got a new MO now. I'll break your code. I'll find out where you're vulnerable. I'll draft a formula that'll slice right through your will to live. I'll spray graffiti on the overpass near your building that'll make you put the nine to your own melon.
Jorge stopped going to the Grand Total when he realized Jessica the bartender had a crush on him. He missed the place. Dreamed about the ripped leather on the stools and the low purple lights. Dreamed about it three or four nights per week. But he couldn't cross paths with Jessica again. Not yet, at least. Of course he was flattered by her attraction. Actually, he'd nursed an interest in Jessica for months. Always the bartenders. But he didn't want her to see him on a bad day. Not at this stage. And Jorge hadn't had any good days lately.
Jesus was too stoned to be drinking so much, and he wasn't sure how to react when Judas emerged from the kitchen toting two beers. Jesus was, naturally, touched by the gesture. Although he had a huge next day planned, he thought one more brew, just one more, might suit him nicely right ‘bout now. So he resolved to thank Judy and consume the 16 ounces. But no. Judas cracked one can and placed the other on the earth, at his side. He intended to drink BOTH beers. Unassisted. Fuck. Jesus knew then that Judas was out for himself exclusively.
First day on the new job. A summer thunderstorm rolls through Portage Par and pisses down for about fifteen minutes. Lightning flashes. I hear an itty-bitty snap somewhere in the works. The power shuts down. The neon in the steakhouse on the opposite side glows on, but our entire half of the block blacks out. A customer or two elects to patronize the dark, humid shop, and I keep track of their purchases on a legal pad. My associates leaf through the Red Eye and make cracks about the situation. I now have two jobs, and technical woes at both.
I'm a hypochondriac. I ponder disease constantly. So I know the mindset. I know that hypochondriacs – in their lust for total environmental control – have fucked us, and that we're about to get very, very sick because of their good-intentioned works. Methinks the agents of disease will see us and raise us. They'll develop beyond all our institutionalized checks. The antibiotic age draws to a close. And we'll be vulnerable BECAUSE we've scrubbed ourselves so clean. Our immune systems won't see it coming. So expose yourself to at least one known carcinogen per day. You'll toughen up, and perhaps enjoy yourself.
BLUE: Of course, no one would question it. ORANGE: I would question it. I'm not sure what it is. BLUE: Don't be pedantic. I think we can agree on its definition. ORANGE: OK, then. For the sake of argument, I'll accept your definition of it. BLUE: OK, then. Good. ORANGE: But I still question your assumption that's it's beyond question. Some would question it, and with gusto. For instance, I would question it. BLUE: What, then, is your counterargument? ORANGE: Doubt is the beating heart of truth. BLUE: Nothing is something. Something is nothing. Fuck you. I'm getting another beer.
Fanny felt her old-time passivity return like the oxygen flow to her brain. I'LL DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. I'LL DO ANYTHING YOU WANT. Geez, it's so much easier this way! Why don't more people do this? NO, I REALLY DON'T MIND. IT REALLY DOESN'T, DOESN'T BOTHER ME. This was truth. This was making things easier on herself. AT ALL. Fanny didn't mind getting pushed around. She always learned something, and most of the time she got pushed into something interesting, particularly if she let the right people do the pushing. YOU'RE NOT PUSHING ME. I DON'T MIND AT ALL. REALLY.
I'd like to get on the Hound and ride to the Pacific coast. I'd like to buy a plane ticket on credit and wake up tomorrow in Kabul House in Amsterdam. I'd like to travel. I'm not sick of you. You can ride with me if you want to. I'm not sick of this town. I'm sure it's not any better anywhere else. And yet, I'd like to take in some new action. See something I've never seen before. Do something I couldn't do locally. Or see and do things that I've done and seen before, a long time ago.
When I was a lad, I played with a wooden puzzle. Each of the lower 48 states served as a brightly colored piece. California was red. Nevada was blue. Utah was green. Iowa was yellow. Montana was orange. Illinois was baby blue. North and South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, and all of New England shared pieces, though they bore different colors. To this day, when I think of Utah, I think "green." When I think of Iowa, I think "yellow." I lost California. The piece disappeared, and I couldn't find it. Sank into the ocean. Left a California-shaped hole.
The Tip Jar