It had seemed apparent that I was in a new job that had a strange sense of stability. Government work. The type of career that offered a decent wage and the promise of pension and good health care benefits. And even better yet! One that was conducted in a pleasant environment with a minimum of stress or mental strain. In fact the surroundings were unexpectedly relaxing in some fundamental way due to the surrounding within which I conducted my appointed tasks within. The office was reminiscent of a late 19th century foyer that might have been typically found within the typical bureaucratic palace of some small duchy or minor monarch. French doors typically allowing the best light of the morning to flood in to illuminate the general mood of both client and functionary alike. Pleasant, as had I said!
And being the ‘newbie’ and wanting make sure that as such I had some measure of job security. Taking some time in the first weeks to consider how to best manage my tasks in the most efficient way possible along the lines of the goals of the job description as it was described to me. “It was a people business!”, or so it was described to me in the expected euphemisms and innuendoes that were part of contemporary business patois. It was my task to conduct one on one interviews with special candidates preselected by the other field branches of our quasi-governmental superstructure. These were people that came to us unbeknownst to them with a future on the wane. Randomly culled from the larger demographic who in the estimation of trained specialists were unable to be reasonably motivated and thus were sent into the office for interviews with me.
In true bureaucratic fashion, it was not my role to judge their circumstance or the reasons behind same but merely to offer the most expeditious solution to the problem that their existential presence presented. The protocol established was on the order of a séance. Create a pleasant atmosphere, as I had said! The idea being to keep the client calm and content in what they expected would be a positive conclusion to the meeting. My own addition to the process was at the point that I had gained the confidence of the man or woman. When after a certain amount of introductory patter had transpired leading to the inevitable smile congealing upon their faces. Then to swiftly produce a small caliber ,25 automatic and place a round in the central part of their forehead. If performed properly, the client was not even aware of their own passing. In the best of circumstances, simply sinking back in their chair into a relaxed almost restful slump the persistence of their grin un besmirched.
It was not exaggeration that my boss was almost exuberant at my dexterity at performing this task. In the previous sense of protocol, this operation was performed in one antechambers by another trained specialist who of course burdened the office with additional expense. The overhead was cut down substantially by the innovation of my own particular sense of unexpected bravado. The wound produced without any subsequent effects of profuse bleeding being hailed as particularly sanitary and efficient. A simple body bag and corrugated container produced each half an hour. The candidates in the outer reception opposite of my suite remaining completely unaware of the transaction. The only concern I had was to wonder if I would too soon tire of the tedium of the repetition inherent in the operation and grow bored of being to adept at my own abilities and suffer the fate of too many lifelong bureaucrats? Somehow it didn’t seem to address the point?
Self-expression aside there are worlds that one can be forgotten by. The so called ‘real’ world in the present that is made up by strangers that sometimes seem like your friends but fall away from your vicinity as quickly as the petals of a daisy. The world of a time that once was solid waking reality but as with all things incidental slips away with the passage of time. Go help you if you no longer play an active role that is no longer visible to others. You exist only in an abstract context of an imaginary pillar on a portico somewhere that is taken for granted as always being there. But nothing can save you from the stillness of the final realization that there is nothing left but the fact of yourself. No one to soothe or rely upon as you might have done so carelessly with those now long gone int he fiction of the past. The winds of change find you too far off course to ever pick up an expected trade wind to bring you to that pleasant fiction once a reality now lost horizon called home.
Sadness, happiness, expectation all beyond reach in the stillness of the night that comes to remind you that you are in the empty space known all to well as the now. That same ‘now’ that has no possibility of supporting the fictional character that you never seemed to be in the first place. You are just there with no clue about anything. Why things happened and what will happen next with no fit explanation of the mechanism that summoned you into life or fit reason why you should continue to be so. You are just another stick of furniture in an empty room gathering dust waiting to be discovered by some faceless person who will make a trivial decision to take everything that reflected who you were and who you tried to be and toss it in the trash. This is the fate of the faceless masses. To by no fault of their own, be totally forgotten. And as such, perhaps, you are washed clean. Tabla Raza. You find the world anew. Or you lay back with the gas turned on and the burners to snuff you out.
And this is the point where the cliche of narrative departs from the path of rambling chaos that seems more in keeping with the present tense of the instant. If the chains of Marley’s Ghost do not chafe then one raises their head up high and looks for that comfort of tomorrow as another chance to find something that amuses. The tail is gone and a phoenix takes flight, if only for a few moments or two before the habit of the emotions comes back to reprimand one for the sin of forgetting. Perhaps we are all convicts condemned in our own court of law for a multitude of wholly human shortcomings? But the sentence past must be a willful attempt to violate the remaining strictures of the past however immoral an abandonment of what might have seemed proper and fit in sensible measure to what had come before. God help the outside world! It is a ramble forward into a dark closet without hesitation with a new hope of discovering that undefined nature. One that however unexpected may matriculate to where fate decries that bilious notion of lifelong intended destiny.
There seems no explanation for the scenario of ransom in the dark corridor of the dreams of the very early morning. It there is a sun bringing clarity to this world it’s spectrum is not detectable by man. I could imagine a spelunking expedition through the convolutions of darker long untraveled synapses resting deep within the recesses of the brain. Maybe the human brain is a liability and we are a demonic species evolved to defy and dissemble everything around us that is chaotically beautiful and usefully. Haters of true nature that take on tasks that disrupt the balance that some vast universal unseen force has put perpetually in motion all for the sake of hubris and selfishness? A species whose long term survival depends upon changing all that is encountered into a flawed paradigm of what our simple spinal antennas sense is majestic and out of reach? The individual ‘WE’ have lost the possibility of paradise because we refuse to accept our own passing’s desiring eternal material existence over transitions that our phylum can not control otherwise. So the mistakes of Nimrod always spoiling for a battle with the heavens.
The mechanism of the embodiment of consciousness inevitably decays partly out of entropy, partly from being overwhelmed by a rival miniature world of creatures less intellectual but equally voracious. True Hell would be within the constant battle in the fractious dimensions found on microscopic slides is a battle for turf. Perhaps the FPS realms that enchant the young are naught but a sympathetic recollection of passage through this place. If the higher organisms are notable for cellular harmony then why is their evolution simply a return to the darkness of the paths long ago abandoned in favor of a more sympathetic light? Do we unconsciously dream nightly for the restful notion of our own demise? The vastness of light in the universe might possibly be a myopic illusion? Perhaps some larger sense of entity defies the notion of speed in a manner that dissolves the notion of distance and the evolution of the material? It is so easy to reach out to the artifacts of collective effort and feel grounded in a false foundation of collective enterprise that seem solid and unchanging save for a collective restlessness to build. “more” and “better”. The social evocative a small room increasingly cluttered with the proclivity of last years innovation blocking the introduction of the physical equivalent of this years sense of ‘new’ and ‘improved’. The fissure of internal travel substituted for the dark empty endlessness between immense pimples of immense density of stuff so compacted that it collapses into itself dragging everything else in its vicinity along. All naught but a flawed repetitive pattern of uncountable present tense logics that come and go without the logic of continuity to support them through a dark and seemingly endless nightly dream within a hall of mirrors.
I seem to have a proclivity of punishment and dirty laundry afflicting my existence as a supposed human being. My Job quotient of relative patience has been mightily tested and like some iron pumping Nietzsche I might be stronger for the fact of the increased capacity to suffer even more of the inconsequential ills that I may have missed earlier in life? I look up at the inevitable rise of the headlines of the day from the central orb of contemporary human existence, my computer and find that another bandit chieftain of finance now suffers from lymphoma and feel that the universe has vindicated my hunch. I find this amidst the regular flotsam of trivial situation blown up to national proportions betwixt the glad hand of Pope Francis. Last night it was the unexpected appearance of vertigo that persisted through a short period of rest. A malaise that still knocks upon the hollow of my existence.
We all pay for the world’s crimes by default as unwitting members of a demographic that is fed a constant diet of officially indecipherable compounds in the daily intake of water, food and air. Strapped in against what later becomes our better judgement which in the long run is never as effective ans a dog’s snout. If my earthly tower falls then, society reasons, it is to make way for the next generation of bigger better versions of the same. The collective generations forming an inadvertent stairway to the empty heavens. A human pyramid that like a proverbial pyramid of circus performers will eventually collapse under its own weight. The practice of stoic cynicism having its benefits after all in bot being to urgent to back the latest stalking horse of socially organized ‘public opinion. So, for whatever varied habitual everyday crimes or politically incorrect infractions, I am guilty by virtue of a consensus that is not of my own making. Something that I have never believed in or cared to support. Welcome to civilization alpha to omega.
It was 6:05 AM and the earth was once more moving steadily to the inevitable release of night onto day. A Sunday caught in the headlights of the approach of Fall. Colder than usual for sure but the lack of heat somehow significant of a lonelier harsher perspective. The world seemed through with him. A spec of dust unswept that lingered around from incomprehensible times past. He rose from the bed trying to remember the escaping embers of a dream whose coals were quickly growing cold. The key roles were populated with strangers now. All the familiar cast members were now gone. The last one having been laid to rest almost precisely a year before. The cycle of remembrance had seemingly long deflated. He was seemingly unchanged within a young man of may decades clothed in tattered remnants of a once energetic physical form. The leg was alternately stiff and then only partially sore. It felt like a block of marble sometimes and then after some motion just something that had become flawed at it’s point of major axis. Limping didn’t suit him. Neither did that morning sickness that dragged upon him like a coverlet pulled off trailing behind from the bed. He looked at his naked form in the mirror.
Maybe the back had been hurting all along? A psychological squeeze play that put him in the pincers of doubt as to how long a human being was expected to travel unhindered from advancing age? Tough was tough and despite the pounding of his heart early in the morning when he awakened to drain his straw the other tribulations seemed trivial to someone who operated by mind over matter. Yet things got worse. Now when he detrained the car or its reverse the full weight upon the most afflicted leg threatened the rest of the animal with the potential of collapse. It was an odd feeling being encased within an equally aging example of Detroit fashioned steel, leather and glass to find one’s self the weakest of links. He thought of his father. A tough guy who was indomitable against all earthly forces of nature almost up until his end. The recollection of that one final sortie where in the elevator meeting some familiar residents he admitted with a lack of ceremony that he wasn’t feeling good. It took only three months before his inevitable departure. It seemed to take just that. A simple realization equating to a surrender to the inevitable?
The world was fashioned for the young. Those grandchildren he never had roamed the planet in increasing numbers while the old familiar faces grew less and less. His few remaining distant relatives having traded in their youthful photographic identities for a tireder less vibrant appearance that suggested their parents rather than the impression of their former selves. His own visage brought no comfort in the mirror. Funny how one could look so directly at the reverse image of themselves and keep from seeing the truth that the strange face staring back was indeed their own. It was embarrassing to go to some event populated by his juniors and have to remind himself that he was simply and observer and not an participant. This was particularly poignant in terms of the animal attraction felt for beauty. It was part of the decorum to express himself carefully and politely so that whatever potentially unbridled admiration he might marshal at his command was toned down and not ‘misunderstood’. They were all to arrogantly young and self-possessed to comprehend the nuance of debilitating status of age and a lifetime of unquenched desire. He dare not raise even a hint of their ire let he awaken a man eating plant whose scorn and derision would shoot barbs into an already deflated ego,
The schedule of progressive behaviors and their appearance that he had noted in others a few steps ahead of him seem to be coos to on time. He too was beginning to spend more time alone by himself where it was comfortable to continue to believe in the eternal fiction of himself as he had always bee. A place where he could continue to contemplate and nurse along the eventual fulfillment of dreams that would mostly likely never come to pass. His landscape was a hopeful facade. Something to hide his emotional nakedness from the brewing storm of a final abrupt conclusion. How could one plan for the inevitable when the inevitable had no dimension necessary beyond simple solitary attendance. Better it seemed to drop unawares caught in the chaos of everyday life as best he could maintain it and let the earthly material chips fall where they may? The morning had bloomed into another quiet peaceful day. The only decision for the few hours of daylight left was where to travel briefly before the inevitable fall of night.
A cool draft of air from the outside park trailed down from the broken window glass through to slide betwixt the plumber’s crack of his naked buttocks as he squatted like an animal upon the diadems of ancient once inch tiles. Drub, drub drub, his head bent forward in impotent concentration counting the hollow echoes within the vacant men’s room of the slap of his hand upon his own flesh. His neck was dutifully haltered by a leash extending above his bloated form expertly kept taught to choke him to the requisite amount to produce a constant sense of discomfort. The great amorphous lump of his frame that once had resembled a man occasionally dipping the overstretched pendulum of his scrotum to the sharp bite of a cold subterranean floor. Drub, drub, drub, he continued to tug at that all but hidden flaccid bud that his tight grip could not induce any growth within. The occasional sting of a crop from behind threatening life but somehow still not able to deliver a single drop. His face was tight eyes closed like wet leather fire dried upon the orbs within. Drub, drub, drub, this great concentration like a Medieval ‘head crusher’ squeezing hard both brain and bowels to force out the hint of any feeling within that had to often so freely flowed in youth. His physical entity naught but a hard marble mausoleum housing stacks of bundled memories recalling endless disappointments and wrong paths too often taken. Somewhere, perhaps were a few more remaining strokes of life to spurt forth to remind him now of what being human once was?
The time was passing too slowly for her this morning as she gripped hard on the leather loop that kept that tottering greasy white rib roast of a creature from tumbling forth face first into the detritus clogged drain of one of the age old porcelain convex altars that lined this side of this forlorn shadowy room. The sharp invasive odor of urea invading her nostrils creeping ever slowly up the mucous membrane of her nasal passages like a freshly broken ammonia capsule. She goaded her client skillfully snapping the areas with her riding crop that had generally brought a reliable result to most. But this one was getting exceptionally difficult and the grocery clerk that she sometimes employed for a less reasonable share of the thousand dollar fee that she accrued to perform these less than pleasant but ever lucrative rituals. Though the ankle length black leather overcoat brought some relief from the predawn chill of the dissipating night, the tight grip of the taut under structure of her bustier was beginning to pinch upon the soft fleshy twins that it supported. She didn’t ask for them given all the trouble they seemed to stir up with the opposite sex not to mention everyday life. But their presence seemed to open up doors in terms of jobs like these where one got paid for little effort and a lot of tolerance. Her thighs were feeling icy and the ankles wrenched forth by spiked heels felt as if they soon might give way. She felt the desire to give him one good swift kick to accompany a earnestly spoken, “Hurry up, goddamn it!”. Something that the person at her feet pretending to be merely a thing would not doubt appreciate as part of the act. But, if misapplied at the wrong time might kill the possibility of continued repeat business. Unfortunately for her, business was too good. She stood there occasionally slipping back into character counting out the instants within the seconds of the increment of minutes that had nearly totaled the hour’s half. All that she could do is remind herself that the money was indeed very good?
The little man stood by the side of the car in the drift of dark night to dawn. The streets around the small park had taken on a wet sheen suggesting a brief rain shower but was in fact encouraged by the dissipating coolness of fog. He leaned against a delivery vehicle that like himself was three- quarter the size of its peers. His face being tears and abrasions improperly healed supported from within by a tangle of chaotic life events that like cartilage and bone had congealed awkwardly inside. To see him from afar, one might have thought this ragged Harlequin was a refugee from a long forgotten king’s court. She would pay him to wear this battered costume with its floppy jingle bell studded hat to accompany her ‘guests’ to these unusually abandoned locations. The C-note in cash for a few late night hours once or twice a week worked nicely with his job at the grocer who really didn’t mind his use of the truck. As long, of course, as it was returned by the break of dawn. His ferret-like glance was glued to the dark entrance of the public facility at the end of the broken concrete of the sidewalk. The image of the recurring dream of him as twelve-year-old once again, wandering about in a room of slowly staggering corpses, each transfixed by a horrific injury of war. His older brother’s restless body, the one who had ended up being disemboweled by a gear shift on the Autobahn in Germany conspicuously absent from this dark Valhalla. And he ever relentless to the task of handing out cans of beer from a seemingly inexhaustible six-pack in an effort to gain useful information as to his brother’s whereabouts from these mute lifeless staggering zombies. He could still feel the rough woolen blanket that he had pulled aside in his room when he had awakened to the news that his brother was no longer with them. The sight of the burnished bronze color steel of his brother’s closed military casket before the snap of the bolts of the honor guard a clear counterpoint to his waking existence. He could sense the clock’s rotation with the immanence of the rise of the sun soon once again to dispel this lingering twilight. He didn’t want to end up showing up late once again.
The woman rose from bed her half of the empty more out of habit than the obvious necessity of guaranteeing another meager paycheck. It was long past that point in her long abandoned relationship with an errant husband that she even bothered to glance at the slight depression next to her in the empty bed to fathom his whereabouts. She bundled his laundry into the top loader at the end of every week foregoing the necessity of looking for unfamiliar shades of lipstick or semen stains. At his age and lack of status as someone who might have importance, guaranteed an eventual return that would find him slumped lifeless on the couch catatonic before the frequent fanfares and commercial breaks. Work with it’s gauntlet of shower to makeup to dress before the unforgiving presence of a mirror whose reflection could only promise an all too cogent picture of what once was instantly despoiling what was now left. She still followed the tight protocols of dress with appropriate jewelry and scent that had been her regimen since her boyish chest had finally begun to swell. The transit in-between the poles of banal existence known as office work and cleaning up of a home in the foreign territory of public transportation the only opportunity to gaze into the varied inhabitants of the outside world. Though mostly populated by other age marooned examples of futility like herself there were occasions when an extraordinary young men or women in the flower of their youth world appear like genies to enchant those brief but heartfelt moments of happiness that she had shared once upon a time long ago at a similar age. The accidental brush of a hand upon her knee sending a chill up her spine beneath the accretion of scar tissue that left her outward self seemingly ever unmoved. She lived with her attic trunk bound hopes swearing to herself to one day bring them down to ground level to dust them off and ponder how she might renew some? The threat of the lateness of the hour and the indifferent phantom of a bus trundling by before she could reach the stop egging her on to get cracking with a quick and final click of the lipstick cap.
My friend and I had traveled to the foothills of a mountainous region somewhere in a lesser known region where legends abounded and explanations were few. There were a lot of strange types that lingered in the small town at the base of the region both adventurer and those with too much money and too much time who wanted to be recognized as such. The occasion of my own visit was to visit a friend who was originally from there who had asked me out to become reacquainted after a gap in our relationship of several years. He had talked up the ancient wonders of the place over the phone. And I like any tourist was inflamed with a desire to see all the sights to look behind each story as if in the relative safety of a themes park back at home. This offbeat menage would gather in the town’s tourist section at night to cajole and drink telling magnificently absurd tales of legendary personages that had haunted the place since the dawn of man. There was an old codger from the just out is the town, born and bred who like every other place fulfilled the task heaping as much eerie detail into his storytelling as the drinks bought be the customers would allow. He mentioned that the place had a strange uncanny quality of attracting good fortune or its opposite be virtue of certain indigenous vegetation that is used properly might result in the attainment of unexpected riches of either material desire or the ethereal. This depending of course on the individual..
I had set out one day into a forest at the base of a high ridge and found this strange kind of tree whose branches grew straight out perpendicular from the trunk. When fully matured these branches were the thickness of bamboo without he trunk being not much more in girth, There was a story about them like almost eve other anomaly that if you set them up in a teepee like triangular solid that you would bring material benefit into your life. The wood when harvested would almost instantaneously become brittle and one could easily break it w.i.th ones hands to fashion the requisite pieces needed to properly create the structures frame. After roaming about the strange in-quiet of the place I meet my friend at the base of a steep rise and we began to climb. By late afternoon we reached to summit and found the temperature such that it was necessary to build a fire to compensate for the cold of the wind that howled in a strange banshee-like manner. My friend went off into a small wooded area to search for dry wood and I not receiving any specific instructions decided to try out the odd lumber that I had ported up the cliffs to test out their medicinal properties on my own lack of fortune.
I quickly trimmed several of the spars to the same length being careful to keep the branches sticking out of them at equivalent distance to the ends. This allowed me to set up the requisite teepee-like arrangement as I had heard from one of the peripheral anecdotes of the old fool in the bar the night before. My friend returned at about the time I had gotten the structure stable enough to stand unaffected by the wind and had truck a small fire below the apex on the ground as the story had directed. He dropped his cache in horror and his eyes widened telling me that to his taste I had run afoul of a local custom. His general manner seemed paranoid in an instant and asked me why I had taken that sacred wood and set up what he termed in the language of the region a device that would draw the spirits to the mythical hearth. Not knowing what he was talking about his apprehension seemed quaint to my sensibilities. I tossing off his behavior to some lingering superstition that he had been brought up with. He enjoined me to quickly find more wood to burn down the contraption before its configuration could perform its task of bringing forth any unspecified local demigod. I almost laughed until I turned my head towards the cliffs edge to find a golden hand appearing unexpectedly over its edge followed by and equally gilded female figure that too confidently began to swiftly approach.
The maiden seemed equally ancient in the traditional sense of the areas lore but oddly modern as well. Like some society ingenue undressed up for some Spring based annual bacchanal. I could have mistaken her for one of the hangers on in the barroom the previous night having followed us on a dare to wreak playful havoc on whatever primal fears her unexpected appearance dressed only in golden pain might summon. Whatever the the true nature of this human shaped apparition my friend played it as something to be avoided crying out in terror that if she caught us we were done for. The rawness of the temperature limiting our flight to a comical ring a round the rosy pursuit by this silent female entity who stealthily took her time as the two of us attempted to stay a step ahead. My own state of mind somewhere between careful apprehension and the possibility that this might be a joke staged by my friend to summon up my own paranoia along the lines of a fireside tall tale. I kept a certain amount of aplomb that is until I saw the lithe form of the gilded female grab my friend in a bear hug that seemed to instantaneously sap the energy from his vigorous form leaving him crumpled on the ground in a limp posture that one could have mistaken as near death.
The act such as it was, or wasn’t, struck my unconscious animal instincts with such a fervor that while my intellect still harbored a lingering degree of doubt as to the authenticity of this little performance, my feet and the fearful creature were clearly committed to remaining as far apart from this demon as earthly possible. Whoever or whatever she was in truth, she was a good stalker. Her arms fully extended narrowing the possibility of my escape if for some reason I made a bolt for the woods where given the demonstration of her speed she could no doubt catch me. She seemed inexhaustible in the furtherance of our little dance as we circled around the flames beneath the odd lumber effigy that had drawn her. The farce of remaining opposite of each other went on until my limbs began to ache from exertion bringing my ability to quickly elude her advances with the requisite speed. Her feints became ever more effective in bringing me almost within reach of the life draining potential of her tireless embrace. As all things inevitable in the course of life’s unforeseen chaos, I finally slipped and she came up on me like a wild bear. The fact of her seductive nakedness not being lost to my own sense of ever-present animal desire. Her long golden arms seemed to glow with a metallic yellow as their circumference around me pressing her torso against my own produced an initial very intense refrigerator cold extending through my frame. It didn’t take long before my whole being had gone numb and limp. I didn’t recall much beyond a strange sensual almost sexual sense of ultimate pleasure as I sank into a state of blissful paralysis that resulted ultimately to total darkness.