Living in such a state          taTestaTesTaTe          etats a hcus ni gniviL
 of mind in which time         sTATEsTAtEsTaTeStA         emit hcihw ni dnim of
 does not pass, space         STateSTaTeSTaTeStAtE         ecaps ,ssap ton seod
 does not exist, and         sTATeSt        oFOfOfo         dna ,tsixe ton seod
 idea is not there.         STatEst          ofoFOFo         .ereht ton si aedi
 Stuck in a place          staTEsT            OfOFofo          ecalp a ni kcutS
 where movements           TATeSTa            foFofoF           stnemevom erehw
 are impossible                              fOFoFOf             elbissopmi era
 in all forms,                             UsOFofO                ,smrof lla ni
 physical and                            nbEifof                   dna lacisyhp
 or mental -                           uNBeInO                      - latnem ro
 your mind is                         UNbeinG                      si dnim rouy
 focusing on a                       unBEING                      a no gnisucof
 lone thing, or                      NBeINgu                     ro ,gniht enol
 a lone nothing.                     bEinGUn                    .gnihton enol a
 You are numb and                    EiNguNB                   dna bmun era ouY
 unaware to events                                            stneve ot erawanu
 taking place - not                  -iSSuE-                 ton - ecalp gnikat
 knowing how or what                THiRTY-SiX              tahw ro woh gniwonk
 to think. You are in                04/27/97              ni era uoY .kniht ot
 a state of unbeing....                                  ....gniebnu fo etats a



EDiTORiAL by Kilgore Trout



by Kilgore Trout

Whoa boy. I almost got run off the road today when I was driving back to college. I was doing about seventy in the left lane, and there was a guy in the right lane who was tailgating someone going about sixty. I guess the guy wanted to go around, because he started to move over into the left lane. Unfortunately, I was there.

It didn't help that I was listening to a Leather Strip song about airplanes crashing and fiery wreckage.

I slammed on the brakes and got onto the shoulder. My hand punched the middle of my steering wheel, blaring my horn at the guy. He has the audacity to finish going around the guy with me on the shoulder, and then he gets in front of the guy and does about sixty-three.

What the fuck? Was almost killing me worth that lousy three-mile speed increase? I think not. I got back into my lane and drove up alongside him. He looked over at me, and I gave him a nasty look. His eyes shifted around a bit and he gave me the "I'm sorry for being an idiot" wave. I drove off.

People, listen up! It seems like every week when I'm in my car, I'm almost in a really bad collision at least once, and I'm just sitting there, being good driving boy. Please, if you're going to kill me, make it worth my while, not because you wanted to go a tad bit faster on the highway.

It seems to me that people are in too much of a hurry these days, and so we're trying to slow you down giving you something to read. It's a big issue, sure, but it's a good way to kill some time. And maybe if I can get the drivers who seem to be attracted to my car as regular readers, then I'll be a tad bit safer on the road.

Besides, dying in a car crash is just so unfitting for a man of my stature. I think being bludgeoned with a crowbar by an angry gorilla would suit me better. Dontcha think?

* * * * *

I'm in a hurry, so I'll make this short. The zine rocks as usual. More new people are on board, and we've even got the return of the beloved Dr. Graves.

Now that I've just lost about half of my readers due to the good Doctor's reappearance, I'd like to make a request to those of you submitting pieces. If you'd would be so kind as to include quotes for your articles or fiction pieces, I'd appreciate it.

Man, I think I'm running out of steam tonight. Better get this thing out before I'm declared obsolete.



From: Joyce
Subject: subscribe to mailing list

Kilgore -
State of unBeing is a killer zine and I love the articles.  I recently 
stumbled across it and decided I can't live without it. Please add me to 
your list!
p.s. are  you single?

[we're happy that you like the zine and can't live without it. we suggested to the people who made up the food pyramid (ie. the illuminati) that our zine be made the foundation of every child's balanced diet. we really don't care about the well-being of children -- we just wanted those damn lion king characters for advertising. i mean, think of how cool it would be to get james earl jones to say, "state of unbeing." wow. p.s. i am not single, thankyouverymuch. but, since you are the first person in the history of the zine to ask about my availability, we are proud to dub thee "SoB groupie." tell all your friends, and carry the title with honor.]

From: Blind and Lost
Subject: Mailing List

I think you should add me to your mailing list because I am the
smartest person in the world and I'd like to know what all the other
idiots that share this planet with me are thinking.

Irritatingly yours,

Blind and Lost

[ahh, so you're the smartest person in the world, are you? well, how come you're lost? i'd think that the smartest person in the whole wide world would know where he's going. of course, we idiots like to pretend we're smart, and most of the time we seem more convincing than you do. enjoy.]

From: Mathew Bussler
Subject: pleaseputmeonthemailinglistforyourzine

Hiya, Kilgore!
Could you please put me on the State of Unbeing mailing list? Why should
you? You mean, why other than the fact that I asked nicely? Well, one of
my top priorities in life is the intake of information, and your zine
has very, very, interesting information that my input slots would love
to get there greasy little eyeballs on. As for info exchange in the
other direction, someday I'll get off my duff and send in something that
I've written. In the meantime, I'll ingest your zine and enjoy the gas
that it gives me.

                                                        -Mathew Bussler

P.S. How's your son, Leon? (I think that's his name. If not, I must seem
pretty stupid.)

[well, i think you're the first person to imply that our zine causes gastrointestinal problems. part of me thinks that's kinda cool. the other part of me wonders if you're reading the zine or eating it. oooh, my son leon, huh? heh. doesn't the faq cover that? i'll refer you to that. i can do that now, since we finally released a new version. "i'll refer you to the faq." man, that sounds cool. and it's easier than actually answering questions. "i'm sorry, the faq discusses that. go look it up." hey, i'm liking this gig more and more. "what? the faq doesn't cover it? wait for the next edition." heh.]

From:  Crazy Taralee
Subject: Mailing List, Ay?

As it happened to be made of cool grey brick, Mine stroked the roughened face of
the fireplace in sweet anticipation.  He had been taken to spending quite a bit
of time at Inverness during the past few weeks; the great shadows and
burgundy-with-gold-fringe carpets pleased him most cozily.  With soft, tiny,
sweaty hands, he clutched the patterned matchbox carefully...perfectly aware
that they were there.  He displayed a bit of trouble sliding the matchbox open,
and the sticks scattered to the cold floor when it finally opened with a
stubborn jerk.
"Fuck!" Mine muttered absentmindedly, as he crouched low and began to play
pick-up-sticks with the disseminated matches. 
Say, I'd like to be on your mailing list, o~tay? If you'll have me, that is.
Thank you.. Taralee

[i had the sudden urge to go buy underwear at k-mart after i read that.]



Kilgore Trout

Blissful Silence
Crux Ansata
I Wish My Name Were Nathan
John Smith
Nemo est Sanctus
The Super Realist
Water Damage

Blind and Lost
Crazy Taralee
Matthew Bussler



[=- ARTiCLES -=]


[Editorial | Next]

by Crux Ansata

Once upon a time, I believed in freedom, the inevitable rise of the proletariat, and the People's Revolution. I believed in might for right, not might is right, and that the right would come to be.

Then came Oklahoma City, and I was disgusted.

I was disgusted in the American people, whom I now had to accept to be emasculated slaves, willing to docilely jump through any hoop the government held out for them like trained poodles, without even once asking, "Was the bombing justified?" (Which is, of course, different from, "Was it right?") Today, the people in general seem to have already condemned McVeigh in their hearts, and are screaming for his blood in some perverse reliving of a savage blood sin offering. If recent history has any lesson for us, it is this: The United States government cannot be trusted any further than it can be collectively thrown, yet the people have accepted this appointed scapegoat and forgotten to use their minds and souls.

What ought to have been a wake-up call -- overblown or not -- was quickly silenced, and I was disgusted, and chose to be silenced.

Today, almost exactly two years later, I am disgusted again, disgusted enough to break my political silence. This time it is the action of the dictatorial client-state in Peru that has disgusted me, and made me realize that, in my heart of hearts, however much I may have lost my faith in the inevitability of the People's Revolution, I still believe it is right.

Fujimori is a tyrant. The world and his wife know that. He uses his military to intimidate voters in his "free" elections. He parades captured political opponents in cages through Lima. His prisons are hellish. It is right to oppose tyranny.

Does this justify terrorism? I suppose that depends on what one calls "terrorism". In the case of the recent MRTA (Tupac Amarau) action, the "terrorists" were simply those on the side without political and military power. The truly murderous and terror-wielding force works for Fujimori.

The Japanese embassy was a legitimate target. The MRTA did not attack small business owners or innocent civilians. The Edgar Sanchez Commando, under the command of Commidante Nestor Cerpa, seized economic and political leaders: Ambassadors, generals, reportedly six to eight CIA agents. This raid did not target innocent people.

The commando took good care of the hostages by any standard, and to an incredible degree when compared with the prisoners of war held by the Fujimori state. Once those without military or political roles had been identified, they were freed. Many more were freed over time. Medical care was provided. (Anyone considering buying Fujimori's story the decrease in medical visits precipitated the raid would be advised to consult the story released two days before the raid, about how his popularity had begun to plummet.) Food was provided. Even musical instruments for entertainment were provided.

In all the time of the siege, only one hostage died -- in the final assault. This final raid took forty five minutes. By that point, the question of usefulness of the hostages was past. If the MRTA considered the hostages as expendable as Fujimori considers his opponents, forty five minutes would have been more than enough time to execute them. One hostage even reported that an MRTA soldier reached where the hostages were held, and chose not to fire at them. The goal of the MRTA was not to slaughter the prisoners. The fact is, the MRTA protected the hostages. The corpse shows the rebels cared more for the lives of the hostages than Fujimori.

But, of course, the guerrilla is a dead man from the time he dons the mask. Or woman. Yes, at least two of the guerrillas were teen-aged girls, younger than me, which one Peruvian paper reported as holding their hands over their heads and saying, "We surrender" -- as Fujimori's headsmen murdered them. Preliminary reports -- supported by more than one hostage -- indicate many of the commando, including their commander, were murdered after the raid, murdered in cold blood to fulfill Fujimori's inhuman word that none of those "terrorists" -- some mere children, though with more love for the people than Fujimori has ever shown -- would be permitted to walk away. They may have been tortured, explaining the Fujimori government's decision not to allow the press to see the bodies, as of this writing.

Was this raid right? I don't know. I believe it was not wrong. It was not an arbitrary attack to cause terror in the people. It was a careful raid to strike terror in the true terrorists -- Fujimori and his cronies. Do I support the MRTA? I don't know. I don't know their ideology or the Peruvian situation enough to judge. But I respect them, I admire them, I pray for them.

And I love them.

Yes, I love them, and every other person with the moral courage to put their lives on the line out of love for the people. I love those children willing to fight and die and show they will not bow to a dictator, even if he can call on British and American paramilitary support to prop up his regime of terror, even if he seems to have a carte blanche to murder those with the courage to oppose him.

Have a good May Day, everyone. Remember, May first is International Workers' Day. Take a minute out of your busy schedule to remember the martyrs. If it's your way, send them up a prayer. Remember there are mere children willing to stake all, to fight and die to make their nations and their peoples a little more free; teenaged girls tortured and murdered by oppressive states, for the courage to disagree.

And what did you do today?


"Big Brother is watching, so wait until he gets up to grab another beer out of the refridgerator and run for it."

-- Flying Rat's Nostril


[Prev | Next]

by Water Damage

"Mrs. Smith? Will this be on the test?" Every day, all across the United States, school children recite this very phrase, much to the dismay of their teachers. It is expressions like this that illustrate one of America's most pressing problems -- the obvious lacking of our educational system. Any study will show you that Americans fall far behind the world's other countries in reading, math, and science. America's students aren't making the grade, and that could have some serious repercussions in the future. Yet, our government still sees fit to clutch onto the outmoded way of teaching used in public schools.

We will examine the various causal factors prohibiting our nation's youth from getting the education they deserve, both in the actual curriculum and outside influences. In addition, I will suggest a solution to avert America's brush with disaster.

First and foremost, the cause of America's educational decline is the lack of real-world applications to what students are taught. Teachers are sometimes trained to use critical thinking skills, but often times due to time constraints and administrative pressure, they have to resort back to rote memorization and text book assignments. Unfortunately, this method, seen by many as having been effective, has some serious drawbacks. The first is that doling out knowledge without putting it in context mitigates most learning. John R. Anderson, in Educational Researcher, said that "Practicing in isolation would not prepare a student to play with an orchestra."

Similarly, working off of worksheets won't prepare a student for the real world. Consider little Johnny, in the third grade. His teacher, Mrs. Smith, is teaching him about plate tectonics right now. She talks for a little while, then hands out a worksheet. When she does this, she is implicitly saying, "Here. This is all you need to know to pass a test." Johnny will do the worksheet and a few others over the course of several days. Then, he will take a test and do fairly well. Within a few weeks, though, Johnny will see no other purpose for this information, and his brain will naturally discard it in favor of something more interesting. Dale Parnell, in the Vocational Education Journal, calls this the "freezer approach." This means that when Mrs. Smith hands out the worksheet, she is in effect saying, "Put this in your mental freezer, and thaw it out later for a test." Parnell goes on to say that the brain needs to be able to put information into context, otherwise it's as good as useless. The second way the freezer approach dilutes learning is that it gives the student very little motivation for going to school. Johnny thinks that learning about plate tectonics is good only until the test because he hasn't been taught to do anything else with that knowledge. This kind of learning is called extrinsic learning, or learning for an external reward. Johnny wants to pass tests, but that won't teach him to learn on his own. This kind of extrinsic learning stunts his intellectual growth, and makes him dependent on his teacher for everything.

The next problem imposed on schoolchildren by our current pedagogy, or way of teaching, is the lack of critical thinking skills our kids have. "Critical thinking" has recently become a buzzword that educators and the media have been using to describe a process of reasoning where the students are taught to solve problems. In the April 19, 1995 edition of Education Week, Hugh. B. Price says that these skills have been perceived by many as being vital to the job market, yet so few students possess them, and are instead still in school memorizing facts. Let's go back to little Johnny and his worksheet. In a job, Johnny probably wouldn't sit and do worksheets all day, he would have to solve problems. Problem solving skills are not taught by answering vocabulary questions on worksheets. Patricia Hinchey, a college professor and writer for Education Week magazine has found that many high school students who have made it through twelve years of schooling by memorizing are failing college classes that require critical thinking skills. So possibly, Mrs. Smith will try to implement critical thinking in her class, and she will tell her class to invent a few of their own questions. Unfortunately, though, little Johnny won't be able to do that, because he has only been extrinsically motivated so far. So, you see how these problems relate to one another.

Still, one more dilemma plagues our schools. Dale Parnell has said that teachers are under incredible pressure to maintain the current pedagogy. Patricia Hinchey has encountered much opposition from parents for changing her curriculum to more real-world, because many kids fail her class. Teachers are definitely smart enough to see that the way things are isn't good enough for little Johnny, yet many are powerless to do anything about it due to administrative pressure. Mrs. Smith would like to create a new lesson plan that incorporates plate tectonics into the real-world, but such a radical form of teaching is frowned on by her colleagues, the school board, and maybe the community. Now under pressure to keep her job, Mrs. Smith retains her current methods, and little Johnny knows no more than he did. A conservative educational system won't get America out of the rut that it's in. We need drastic change to get us back on track.

Lately, there has been a big movement to implement a version of critical thinking. Critical thinking is a very good thing for Johnny, but implementing it under the same system we have been using won't teach Johnny any more. According to E.D. Hirsch, Jr., author of The Schools We Need And Why We Don't Have Them, "stressing critical thinking while deemphasizing knowledge reduces a student's ability to think critically." Teaching Johnny a little bit about critical thinking by using more worksheets doesn't solve the problem. If Johnny learns some critical thinking for a month in third grade, his overall patterns of thinking and learning aren't changed.

So what is the solution? The freezer approach has left many chilled, but there is a solution. What is needed is a multilayered approach to change our educational system. First, we need to initiate a complete paradigm shift from extrinsic to intrinsic learning. Intrinsic learning, in this case, would be learning for its own sake, instead of external reward. Programs like interdisciplinary learning, where subjects are combined, rather than separated, could accomplish this. What is really needed to make it a reality, though, is that knowledge simply has to be put into context for Johnny. This would teach him to run out to the library because he wants to learn, not just because he has to. The next thing to do would be to change the curriculum completely to incorporate real meaning into Mrs. Smith's lesson plans. If knowledge gained in school could be tailored to be applicable to a certain job, and purely school-born materials such as worksheets could be eliminated, much could be accomplished. The end result of this would be that Johnny retains more knowledge, and tries to use it for more than just passing a test. Critical thinking programs should be started everywhere, to teach students to extrapolate and solve problems on their own. This will increase performance on standardized tests, and open up America's job market. This could have far reaching economic and political benefits.

Finally, we need to pry open people's minds, and show them the benefits of these programs. That way, Mrs. Smith will be free to use what she knows to do good teaching. These reforms won't happen overnight, and complete paradigm shifts aren't cheap, but the future gains will be far greater than anything the present system has to offer. These problems are trivial when compared to all the good that will be done with these programs. Education is worth any monetary sacrifice, because, in the future, it will be money in the bank. In the end, little Johnny won't have to ask Mrs. Smith what's going to be on the test, because as Thomas Jefferson once said, he will have "gone to school to learn how to learn."

These solutions are only meant to solve some of the more concrete problems our system is facing. The problem of The Entrenchment Of Assumptions is probably not going to be cured by these. Once both of these scourges are eliminated, we can all find something else to whine about. It's a start, anyway.


"He who transcends Time escapes necessity."

--Austin Osman Spare


[Prev | Next]

by I Wish My Name Were Nathan

        bodhisattva (bo,-dee-sat'-vah), n.  [Sanskrit]
                I. One on the path to enlightenment.
                II. A wannabe sage.
Like many teenagers, I went through the classical "rebellious" stage, which for me was associated with a general destruction of all sorts of preconceptions about reality as well. The ideals of an anarchic state and revolutions and radical individualism were the goals that fueled this iconoclastic period. Fuck the system! Hell yeah! were the rallying cries.

Like many teenagers, the rebellious stage grew out of a sudden series of disillusionments -- realizing the graduation from high school was nothing better than the graduation from middle school, the same shackles binding my mind and movements extant from day one to day none. The work changed from year to year, for sure, getting more complicated and requiring more of my time, but I still felt like one cork among many floating in the water being driven through a narrow canal by force -- the work was staying afloat.

Likewise, the infuriating realization that under such restrictive regulations as no talking-no walking-no thinking, the idealistic preschool lessons about individual merit and worth were being narrowed into the strictly defined channels of memorized tests and essays about bullshit led me to wonder, "Why am I here?" I protested, "I know all this already!" Maybe not the specifics, but the general broad outlines were clear all along. Why the memorization? Why not application?

Stepping outwards into the realm of the "real world" surrounding our tiny school, I wondered, what's different here? Same fake authority figures, same binding rules, same meritocracy of mediocrity. The lowest common denominator defined and reinforced through opinion polls, power plays gained through defamation and skilled avoidance of issues, laws passed to combat rare occurrences but used broadly to criminalize common accidents.

Didn't I repeat it again here -- fuck the system! Hell yeah! -- the rallying battlecry of the true patriot, deciding to take action against the mumbling rumbling self-contradictory jackass elephant of government, through elections if possible, through armed confrontation if necessary! Don't the citizens deserve more from their governors -- some consistency, some fairness, at least some respect? No one deserves to be led off the cliff by the idiotic premises of these republicratic hoodwinking schemes. Isn't the candidate for president obvious here? The rational economics of a Perot or the common sense ethics of a Natural Law or Libertarian parties are what the people demand and want -- the Constitution didn't define "red tape" because it never thought it would exist!

Again and again, the questions come up: "Why can't this be simpler? Why the endless legislation when common sense is enough? No one designed the government with this kind of crap in mind, did they?" And the reluctant answers spring up from the depths: "Is it just greed? Do the cretins running the system care more for themselves than for the people they're serving? Do they make these laws to justify their lifetime-career presence? Do they really think we're stupid?"

In this stage, I have to concede to pragmatism, the answers which I couldn't fathom in high school due to the blinders of radical idealism and limited scope. Perhaps people are stupid. Or perhaps only the stupid people vote; us smart ones stay home to protest. But this protest defeats its own purpose, because the conniving scoundrels remain in the upper echelons and proudly feast upon those who elected them. Do the stupid live in mutual parasitism, the citizens devoting themselves to the politicians who greedily digest their tax dollars? Is apathy really all an intelligent person can do? God forbid I enter the fray himself and become one of them....

Upon reflection, the inevitable corresponding truth emerges -- even if we overthrew the government, a selfsame entity would replace it, with all the inherent corruption and demagoguery. How did our own government evolve? No, but if we're really rigid about it, if we really hold fast to the original principles, our new government will be perfect.... Ah, back in the grip of the self-replicating fractal of the body of law -- start off with simple law declaring equality and outlawing murder, and this will eventually be contested and redefined and adjusted into mandatory sentencing laws and the three-strikes-and-you're-dead penalty.

How do I escape from this infinite loop of continual rebuilding and redestruction paralleling my own sanity? The answer is obvious -- I must either do something, or do nothing. But, by doing something, I could do the wrong thing... and by doing nothing, wrong things would continue.... Activist or passivist? Each is meaningful, is it not? "Getting something done" is only a materialist prejudice, right? It's the meaning of the action that matters. Being intensely activist says something, no matter what results. Being intensely passivist, the thundering NO! is likewise effective, if people hear. But isn't that action still, albeit in a different way?

Suddenly, after many years, the breakthrough does arrive. What has been eating me up this whole time? Nothing more than shades of meaning. Why does a greedy politician offend me? Because it goes against the ideals of fairness and equality I've been taught. Why does apathy offend me? It also goes against the ideal of a participatory representative government. In the larger scope of things, does any of this really matter? If the prediction of an endless string of corrupt, unfair, and violent governments is true, then how is today's different from that of King George? Likewise, how is this year's president different from the one eight years back? Nothing -- they look different, but they're all the same.

So, if I give up the concept of meaning, then whatever happens won't bother me. I'm not upset about what I don't think about, right? Whatever atrocity happened this afternoon against a small girl in the neighboring city can't bother me if I firstly don't learn of it and if I secondly don't think about it if I do. Shit happens, right?

So once again I cry -- fuck the system! Hell yeah! I'm not going to be dragged into your intricate webs of meaning, binary opposites, side-taking, arguments, debates, screaming and thrashing, ulcers and heartbreaks. Fuck you! Get off my brain! Perhaps all this indoctrination about radical individualism and freedom really does work -- I'm responsible for myself, including my actions and my views.

Responsibility! Is that the key to all this? Is this why the legions of liars and legislators trample over us so much, because we don't take responsibility to begin with? After all, the students in high school who intimately knew their reason for being educated wouldn't have reason to rebel or immaturely break rules, right? Nor would their teachers subject them to ritualized routine memorization if they took responsibility for teaching!

The citizens in a society who knew their roles and purposes in a society of equals wouldn't commit crimes against each other if they took responsibility for their actions, and even better, thought before acting. Laws could be mutually comprehended and carefully followed, undercutting the need for a turnstile justice system. A government of corruption wouldn't exist if the officeholders were responsible for themselves and the citizens; and the citizens wouldn't allow a corrupt government to exist if they took responsibility for throwing out the scum and researching the candidates they elected.

It all seems so obvious! Why don't we teach responsibility to people? From early ages, hold people fast to their responsibility to be responsible, with swift punishment if this is forgotten. For students, strict guidelines to measure one's responsibility for learning, and yes, and a system of checks in the government to punish those who for a moment forget why they are in office. Er.... shit! That's just the way it's supposed to be now!

Lest I be driven into a whirling mess of a person pondering this huge joke we play on ourselves, I realize finally what's really going on: it's all a game! Systems of interlocking and conflicting games, for sure, but they're all just games, right?

Put in your fifty cents, hammer on the buttons, jerk the joystick around, give it all you've got, then GAME OVER -- shot dead by strange aliens who I don't really understand but know I despise, defeated finally, lying on the ground surveying the action continuing on around me. That health just went down too quickly, along with that ammo... didn't watch myself! But perhaps I made a high score that other players will see after I leave. And no matter what, I learned something, right?

Isn't that it? The realization that anything I do is just voluntarily tossing myself into a game, from which I'm free to leave at any time? My only responsibility to learn? It certainly makes it easier to exist with that in mind.

But my meddling mind sounds warning bells: you can't run a society that way! You've said that taking it too seriously is a problem, but the problem of not taking it seriously at all can also be disastrous. Would you prefer an airline pilot who acts like he's in a combat situation, thinking it's just a game? The same kind of corruption of government can result from having this mindset as well!

I almost reel from the rejoinder, but remember -- responsibility. A government official freely breaking the law and screwing the taxpayer may feel guiltless because "it's all a game," but she's still breaking the rules. Does my sense of "responsibility" imply something else here? It does. Why is the official breaking the rules in this case? For personal gain. From the viewpoint of the game of politics, personal gain may be a fringe benefit, but ideally, it's not the purpose. Just as in chess, the purpose isn't to blindly steal all the opponent's pieces, or even keep yours, since this strategy will not guarantee a victory. Anyone playing a game must remember he's playing a game and try hard to play well.

But it's so easy to get lost in the game, isn't it? If you extend the metaphor to life itself being a game, then it appears that most everyone has forgotten the point, arguing technicalities instead of playing. And what does responsibility mean on this level? Devotion to being an excellent player? Devotion to the inventor of the game? Or devotion to the rules?

Perhaps one cannot know what to be responsible for. This is where responsibility is so important but so difficult as well. Without a sure understanding of one's responsibility, one can go astray, chasing after the pleasurable, the easy, or the popular. If we willingly enter into a game, whether it be politics, a job, or life, we must be able to see it as a game to be played seriously. We ourselves must take responsibility for our performance the whole way through. And this takes work, a lot of hard work. This doesn't mean it's unpleasant, though. It's all shades of meaning when you get down to it. Is this the lesson? To simply work at it?

I continue to ponder.


"A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him (her), I may think aloud."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson


[Prev | Next]

by Ace

I've finally faced up to the fact: I'm bitter. I'm a bitter, young man. I don't know why... well, I do, but I don't know why this time is any different than before.

I loved her like no one else. I know it's cliched, but true. I would do anything I could for her, but I guess it wasn't enough. I walked three fucking miles next to manure-strewn corn fields in the middle of winter to call her over Christmas... I was visiting my grandparents and they only have rotary phones... no good for calling cards, so I walked to the nearest pay phone.

She was everything... intelligent, a debater like myself, fun to be with, affectionate, not to mention unbelievably cute. It was an instant attraction, though we realized the problems... she lived in Arkansas, I am still here in Dallas. Still, things were working out.

It's amazing what you can do over email nowadays. She was flying home for Christmas and had a layover at D/FW. I don't have a car and had made previous plans for the day, already... in retrospect I should have continued with my plans.

I managed to find a ride there and back... my friend and I waited for over an hour at the terminal. Her plane had been delayed considerably, and an earlier flight from Little Rock had arrived about the same time hers was supposed to. My heart nearly broke, scanning the faces coming in off of the bus from the commuter planes. I even started asking the people coming off the plane if they had seen her.... then, the next bus arrived. She came forward, clutching a box filled with debate evidence.... We ran (well, she stumbled, I guess) to each other.... That damn box landed on my foot, but I didn't care, because she was in my arms -- softness and warmth, hair cascading in honeyed waves over my arm.... It was everything romance was supposed to be, like in the movies. My friend, Drew, just stood there timing us.

The afternoon we spent together went by far too quickly, and then we were literally running through DFW so that she made her flight to Kansas. As I left the airport, I could still catch a whiff of her perfume in my flannel shirt.

"I used to watch her sleep, an angel on vacation" *

We talked over the phone while we were apart, learning more about each other, discovering everything we shared, everything that made us unique. She planned on driving back to school, and Dallas was on the way. So, she spent what was only supposed to be a weekend with me... that weekend stretched out until almost a week. It would have been better if she left when she was supposed to.

Her parents are real assholes, and they fucked with her life again. A good friend of mine walked into my apartment after she was done talking to them. They'd met earlier in the day, for a few minutes... no big deal. But when I was trying to comfort her, he sat down beside her and she threw her arms around HIM... amazingly enough, I didn't mind, since he seemed to be helping. Silly me.

"I fell in love so deep, far too far to mention" *

They went outside and talked. She whispered to me, "Don't worry... he's a good friend, nothing will happen." Those words are almost as scary as, "We need to talk."

When they came back, I could almost know for certain she had fallen for him. I tried to deny it, and she did also. He wasn't interested in her, though she still claims that he is. Life's funny that way. Didn't matter... she's not good with emotions... she reads Ayn Rand, not the Principia Discordia. She got confused, scared... she ran rather than deal with those feelings. We broke up, in an awkward sort of way.

But we never said goodbye... we talked on the phone again. And again, and again. I had tickets to the Star Wars premiere, so I invited her. She got in late, got lost. Like I said, terrible with directions. Almost a metaphor: she didn't know where her life was going, and still doesn't.

"Angels sometimes kiss you" *

It was a great couple of days... somehow. She met some of my friends; we got her hooked into Japanese animation. She even adopted a name: Nuku-Nuku (the All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl). It was cute, we thought. She spent a long time talking to one of my friends about his relationship... for some reason she never saw the parallels between his and ours.

That night, at his place, while watching a movie, she said those damn words again. "Don't worry, he's a good friend." Those who don't learn history are doomed to repeat it and all that....

"But angels never call" *

We broke up two days later. She still hadn't dealt with that other guy, blamed me for not giving the two of them a chance. For some reason, the incongruence of the belief that I, the current boyfriend, should set her up with a friend of mine seemed to completely bypass her. I couldn't take it any more... we were at a nice little coffee shop here in Dallas, called Cafe Brazil -- nice place, $2.00 for a bottomless cup, about 8 different varieties to choose from. I asked the dumbest question: "What do you see in him?" When I found out, I knew that she had no clue what she was looking for. My friend and I are the two sides to a coin, similar in many regards, completely opposite in emotions and logic. She wanted the strong, silent type. I wasn't it. We broke up. We talked, we made love, we had sex, we talked some more. It seemed things had settled down.

"But everything I know is gone" *

We still talked over the phone... long, meandering conversations, literature discussions, philosophies, life experiences. But I'd gotten to see both sides of her. The face she projected to me, and the one she kept hidden. It hurt, realizing that she'd hidden herself like that. One week after, and she tells me about some guy she's interested in seeing. Not much of a recovery time, I guess I'd put more into it than she did. That was alright. Two weeks after that, and I'm about to check my email. Then the second friend, with the relationship crisis, tells me that the two have been conversing over email and they were interested in going out. Ouch. What do I do? Tell him "don't" and try to avoid coming off as the jealous ex, or ignore my conscience and ignore them? I do the harder thing and warn him. I know I probably came off as an asshole to him, but I, at least, can live with myself. If something does happen between them, I won't say, "told you so." I just want my own life back.

"We are the Hollow Men"

Return from spring break: she's there. When I saw her in that apartment, with my friends, my heart stopped. But I knew I wasn't going to let her fuck with my life any more. I made a show of normalcy. I brought up some coffee filters and we watched MST3K tapes (hell, we're college students, right?) and stayed up all night. I thought she and I were friends. She and I talked quietly, a little reminiscing. I held her hand, tried to show that I cared, that I understood, squeezed it once, let go. My previous g/f before her and I are still good friends -- we're affectionate. I didn't notice any problem. Oh, well... that got taken the wrong way. Later, I tried joking with her, showing that I was over her, that I could have a laugh about the whole thing. That got taken the wrong way. I brought some stuff up to help with dinner, a group cooking activity. When I walked in, she verbally pounced on me. Being tired, I snapped back. Even THAT got taken the wrong way, and the new b/f thinks I'm flirting with her.

"The twisted men, headpiece filled with straw Alas!"

Then came the blowout. The day before, they'd come down to my apartment. She'd asked for her nice, framed photo back. I obliged, and then she presented it to him in my OWN BEDROOM. I didn't mind the making out in my apartment, in front of me, as much as the photo. He said, "Thank you"... to her. We have a mannequin head in our apartment, on a short pole, like a broom handle. The head's name is Sarah. She starts making perverse jokes about Sarah, the kind which got me yelled at for. I just sit there, silently. She starts talking to another friend about his relationship with his ex. Once again, the parallels between us and my friend are completely lost on her. She's not the most perceptive person in the world, I guess.

"Our dried voices, when they come together, are quiet and meaningless"

Anyways, I got back from class the next day, late. The two of them are sitting in my 'dining room' area, waiting for me. They say they want to talk. Silly me, I'm blindsided. We go outside, and they start yelling. The accusations started flying: I didn't respect them (not true), I didn't respect the new b/f (not true), I didn't respect the old crush (not true), I didn't love her (not true), I just wanted sex from her (not true), I forced myself on her (not true), I yelled at her (true), I attacked her (not true), I bruised her (not, most certainly not, true). I didn't bother defending myself. He was angry, wouldn't have listened. I thought he'd calmed down at one point, tried to talk to him. She starts yelling. It's funny. Everything is calm, rational, when it's a one-on-one with him or her. But put the two of them together and it all gets blown to hell. Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.

"like wind through dry grass or little mouse feet over broken glass in the cellar"

She starts yelling. I get fed up, yell at her to be quiet, step towards her. He plays valiant fool, jumping in front and spouting corny movie lines. "You'll have to go through me first!" It's all so ridiculous that I almost start laughing. He's usually the calm, cool type. She told me about all the stuff she'd been telling my friends, my roommates, the people in my life. For a couple of days, I honestly believed those people had turned against me. Paranoia isn't a delusion, it's a way of life. He said I wasn't welcome at his apartment, and I returned the favor. Silly me, they kept coming around. That talk about respect seemed awfully hollow at that point.

The day after the fight, they walk into my apartment, don't even knock. He just looks at me sitting on the coach. Asks ME, "Can I help you?" I'm not mad at him. He feels betrayed by me. He's been hurt before, badly. He's a bit sensitive... usually he's pretty cool about things. I'm still his friend, even if he doesn't want my friendship.

"Those who remember us, if at all"

Day after that, the two are there again. He wants to talk to me, and so once again I go outside. The attack begins anew. This time, I start to see how this started. Certain flaws in his arguments, his assaults, show through. He confuses dates, times, events, locations, words. Stuff he would only have any clue about if I told him or she told him. For someone who wanted me to keep everything between us private, she became real eager to tell him her side of the story without telling me. I walk back in, saying this discussion was finished. They actually follow me in, and I don't care any more.

Actually, I think I might have actually planned to do that. Made fools out of them in front of my roommates and the usual gang of suspects who hang out in my place. He calms down a little, and I go outside just with him to talk. He tells me everything that's been bugging him. I try to interrupt when he says something wrong, misinterprets something which happened. He just asks me to be quiet and let him finish. I ask if he will listen to my side objectively when he's down. He promises to do so. Things get intense for a while. My friend, the first crush, walks outside with Sarah to break the mood. It's so surreal that he and I just start laughing. She comes outside when I start to talk. Says it's only to smoke a cigarette. She stays. I start to talk, trying to talk only to him. She interrupts, saying that I'd better not say anything bad about her first crush. She goes on, while I try to keep talking. She says that I must treat my mother badly, because I treated her badly (funny... I always thought that my mother and I got along fairly well), and says that there's a special place in hell for me. This time I do laugh, because she knows I'm an atheist. If I'm going to be condemned, it would be for that first, not because I wasn't able to read her mind and treat her the way she wanted to be cheated. Things get tense. I confront her about something she told the new b/f, catching her in a lie. I get slapped for my trouble. I tell him that his whole premise is wrong, that if anything, she raped me, always demanding, always complaining when I didn't satisfy her. Believe me, if you start getting a blister on your penis from the friction trying to keep up with her demands, you don't have the energy to try and force yourself on her (nor do you have to)

"remember us not as lost, violent souls"

She slaps me when I catch her in her lie. I walk inside, this time locking the door behind me. As far as I am concerned, she could go to hell. My roommates and I talk, declare her persona non gratia. Roommates' girlfriends both suggest several bloody ends to her reign of terror in my life. The next day she walks in, wants to talk to me. She tries to order me outside. I refuse. Roommate (Tai Kwon Do brown belt and instructor) gets ready to throw her out. I calmly leave, try to go into my bedroom. She follows me in. There's an incredible feeling of power you get when you stay calm in tense situations. A sense of rightness, maybe even justice. Maybe it's just satisfaction knowing that I can be coolly arrogant towards her and she's still wrapped up in emotions. It was almost like entering a Zen state of awareness. I ignore her now. She's still here. I feel no need to protect her. Her parents, who she tries to hide from, know where she is. She's upset with me about that. She's upset that she can't provoke a reaction anymore. Had a few beers with friends late Saturday night. She showed up somehow. She left before I did.

Victory. The people in the apartment she's staying at want her gone. Victory. No one believes her except the b/f. Victory. So why do I feel so empty?

"but as the Hollow Men, the Twisted Men"

It's funny. When b/f and I had our one-on-one, he said that my words were designed to do damage, to hurt, to twist. He said he could buy that my words were wrong, except for the fact that I was a debater, that I use words as my art form as surely as he drew with his pen and ink, and that my words intentionally hurt. He said he couldn't believe me, because I was a debater. He forgot something fundamental that night: she is a debater also.

* with thanks to Ansat for "Angels Never Call 'Till Tuesday"
and T.S. Elliot for "The Hollow Men"


"The innocent and the beautiful... have no enemy... but Time."

--W.B. Yeats


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[previous page]

by Crux Ansata

0119 112096

On Lethal Injection, we are talking of rape. I didn't bring it up. We were talking of martyrdom, or of the Church, or of some such thing. Silverpoint, I think it was, brought up rape. I tried to see the guilt. In the rapist, in the victim, in the very society in which we live. I tried to see it like a scientist. Detached. It touched close to home for Windstar. Apparently, her sister was raped, and she took offense to my seeing guilt in all parties. We are all guilty! Victim and victimizer alike.

I told her I was not as naive as I seemed. I, too, know what rape does to people. I told her about the girl, when I was in fourth grade, who was raped in the bunkers where I used to play. A memory I found just a few weeks ago, and have been playing with, trying to see how it fits into the puzzle of my psyche. I told her about Ca., raped, and blamed by her parents. How she slipped into promiscuity and drugs because her parents' rejection made her feel worthless.

And then C.

I mentioned what had happened, how I held her as she cried, and told me she had been raped, and then she covered for the guy. I told her how she was probably protecting me as much as she was protecting him. I tried to sell my soul to demons for the chance to kill him; I certainly was capable. But then, she went back to being friends with him. I can't just blame the rapist. She could do no wrong in my eyes when I found this out. And then, it seemed to me a betrayal.

I had told her it was a bad bunch she was hanging out with. And she had agreed. She agreed! But she still did it. Out drinking with gang members, until she was too drunk to stand. Sober enough to say no, but not sober enough to enforce the edict.

I didn't realize until I started talking on Lethal just how much guilt and shame I still carry from that. I can't just blame the rapist, because I was betrayed by the victim. She, truly, had brought it upon herself, at least in part. But she was a victim of more than that; she was also a victim of the very society in which she grew up. We are all victims of the world in which we live. I search for the good and the happiness in life. I thought I was happy Sunday and Monday, and now I wonder how anyone can be happy in this world.

I quoted from "Simon of Cyrene", by the Pope. "Justice calls for rebellion. But rebellion against whom?" And: "No, I don't want merely to be just." Hard statements. But true.

I must have said too much, and not enough, but then, don't I always?

I went outside and smoked, and kicked my car for a while, but when I cry, I cry alone. No one else has the right. No one else has the fucking right to share my tears. My pain is my pain, and mine alone. No one else deserves the burden, or the twisted honor. I bear it alone.

I wonder what the response will be. Will I still be a child, who has had a few experiences but still thinks he knows more than he really knows? Probably true, but I do know the pain of rape, and I know it in ways Windstar cannot.

There were more I could have told. L., Ch.'s sister. He is like a brother to me. By all rights I should have killed that person, too. But I let A. talk me out of it, and I know in a way I wanted her to do so. Or that virgin A. told me about. Or A.'s cousin, B. I have come to believe that there is not a girl alive who can make it to her teenaged years without being raped or sexually abused in some way. I suppose that is all. I don't know. If we count statutory rape -- the fault of society I suppose -- and molestation, we have to include probably every girl I have ever known. Can anyone not know the pain of rape in this world? I have come to doubt it.

Five years later, and still so much rage, so much pain, so much guilt, and so much shame. I wonder how much this has shaped my life.

I wonder how anyone can go on.

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0208 112096

Well, I made a fool of myself. I went back on Lethal Injection, even though I knew I was emotionally worked up, and I tried to justify myself. Naive garbage about how I would like to make a difference, to ease the pain of just one person. I opened myself up too much. I let them see who I am, and I have no right to do that. No right! If I can't deal with my pain, I have no one to blame but myself, and now I have made myself vulnerable, confessing in public.

And then I sat on the curb, curled up into a ball, and sobbed. And smoked until I made myself sick.

I can remember myself a child of ten. This is one of the few vivid memories I have carried with myself my whole life. I am walking down my block, by one of the alleys where the trash cans were stored. We used to play there, and catch bugs. Maybe I was in the alley. I see myself in the alley, but I can't think why. I fear that may be elder ansat inserting editorial comments on my past. In any case, I was reviewing myself. I knew I could deal with being physically weak. The worst they could do was kill me. I could deal with being intellectually weak, and even so it wasn't much of an issue at the time. What I could not permit -- can not permit -- is being emotionally weak. If you allow yourself to be emotionally weak, you become vulnerable. You can be hurt. They may be sad thoughts for a child, and I can't even recall why I would feel that way, but that was the decision I made. Since at least then I have been keeping myself under control. I am my own master! No one else has the right to see me weak. I am a hard man. I don't need to allow myself to break down like that.

When I cry, I cry alone.

There is no shame in crying, there is no shame in being weak, the shame only comes in when one allows oneself to be weak among others. That is inexcusable.

And that is exactly what I allowed to happen tonight.

I can't understand it. Is this really about C.? Can I just be reawakening buried guilt and shame, feelings of impotence both metaphoric and literal, that I have just had the sense to keep buried until someone found my own emotional hot button? Can it be that easy? If it is, I have really fucked up. If this is a trigger for me, it is conceivable that others could use it against me.

(And who are these others, wise guy? Who are "they"? Who is out to get you? Who really fucking cares enough to want to destroy you? Huh? Or are you just trying to make yourself feel self important, puff up your little chest and feel like you matter.)

My God, can it be that simple?

At least, I know it now. And the trigger was because I allowed myself to drop my guard. I spoke from the heart, and that allowed feelings out that should rightfully be left unspoken. I can stop others from using that against me, because accessing these cues needs my cooperation.

But can it really be this simple?

Why C.? If I look for that kind of girl now, if I look for the masochist, the bright girl to whom society has dealt a poor hand, because I am trying to make up for that -- Like I can ever make it up, huh dumbass? It is past. You fucked up. You can never undo that. -- then why did I pick C. in the first place? But, of course, that is stupid. God picked her out, just as God picked out S. and A., and the only person He did not pick out was St., and I fucked that up, too.

Or, the part of my fragmented psyche I call "voice of God". Don't think like that, ansat. I have a hard enough time keeping you together without you taking down the one vertical force in your pathetic fucking psyche.

Oh God, I am losing it. Is this an anxiety attack? The physical symptoms are not there. I am not sweating. My heartbeat is accelerated, but only as should be expected after smoking until I almost vomit and going through a crying jag. What else signifies an anxiety attack? Stomach pains? I have them all the fucking time. NOT a useful symptom. What, then? Am I having another emotional breakdown? Or is this just the fair payment for what I thought was happiness, Sunday and Monday. What right do I have to feel happy, me, who cannot even define the word? I am not valuable enough to deserve happiness, even if it did exist in this world. It is only just that I pay a sharp price for it.

But, God! it is so hard, so hard.

So empty.

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0310 112096

I took a bath, I took out some garbage, I had another cigarette -- I must be up to a half a pack or a pack a day since the weekend; too much; too much stress -- and gathered some control of my emotions. I can still feel the pain, but it is further down, further in. I have the pain; the pain does not have me.

God! How can I be so weak? How can I live with myself, being so weak?

But it is my cross. I have to bear it. I have no right to die, and I have no right to expect this to be lifted from off my shoulders.

But, Oh! how I want to die! If only I could have that red crown. I hope and I pray that if I ever get the chance, I will not flinch. I certainly don't deserve it.

But I can't entertain these thoughts. I am being eaten up inside, but if I can force it further down and further in, it won't destroy me. I still have some strength left. I am not yet empty.

He who would save his life will lose it. To conquer death, you only have to die.

I am too young to be so old, but then is there any youth in the world today? Any innocence? When was the last time I looked at anyone and saw innocent eyes?

Or are the eyes the mirror of my soul, and not theirs.

But why did I open my diary again? Because it is here for a reason. I have to recount today, and get it done, and get to bed.

Today I had my French oral exam. I got a C. I am happy with my C. I only want to get out of that class without having to repeat it. I want to get out of my classes, get out of the University, get out of the state.

I want to get out of the world.

I want to get out of ansat.

I do not want to die; I want never to have been.

(But do I really? Have I really lived without pleasure? That cannot be true. Even logically, there must be points higher than others. It would not be too hypocritical to call those relative highs "happiness", and restrict the term "misery" for the relative lows. And didn't I think I was happy, just a couple of dozen hours ago? How can my life seem so long ahead, and still seem so long behind?)

I had my other classes, too. I don't like my Literary Criticism class teacher's interpretation of Deconstructionism. Linguistics was all right, and in American Literature I pretty much became convinced I need to read Schopenhauer.

I read two stories in the copy of Prime Evil Moonlight loaned me: "Food" and "The Great God Pan". Not Machen's. The latter was better than the former. I also read some more of Peoplemaking. I found myself with only that book, and time to read.

After school, I ran into Kilgore. He was working on a story, but I interrupted him. He says he has about eighty something k of material for the new State of unBeing, and plans to have it out on Monday. It could happen, too.

(Dammit. Stomach pains getting almost intolerable. I know they are not intolerable. It is my body. I can tolerate anything it can throw at me. I might concede, though, and have a snack before bed. I can feel my teeth rotting. Sometimes, just tea will make pains in one or two in particular. But it can't destroy me.)

Other than that, not much happened. I have to still make that tape for S. Or did I even mention it? She asked me -- she told me, rather -- to make her a copy of my Diamonda Galas cassette. I have to see her again. God would not have singled her out like that if I was not to. Maybe the kiss didn't please her, maybe I went too far when I touched her breast, maybe I did not go far enough. God, it is so hard. Do I move too slow and lose her, like C., or do I move too fast and turn her off? It is not as if she was acting demure on the subject herself. Writing "FUCK ME" in flaming letters, singing to "light her fire", and she did ask for the kiss. But then A. says she felt nothing the first time we kissed. We had a relationship first, though, so I had more chances to redeem myself. But S. did emphasize that she wanted to see me again. I drove through her neighborhood tonight, after ten o'clock, just to see that I did indeed know it. I forgot her address, though. K. and somebody came to see me when I was out, and I expect I can run into B. in the neighborhood. But I am babbling. I hate that. I HATE MYSELF.

I hate everything.

I hate. That is all. I hate.

That is not true at all. I want to hate, because the fact I cannot causes me so much pain. But even this confession causes me pain. I must get off these topics, the pain, the feelings. I must stop feeling. Constantly revisiting the text of my mind merely reinforces these negative feelings.

If only God would let me suicide...

What else? Nothing else. The rest is silence. I am left with the agony that I might have misread S., the agony that I might pain A., the agony that I failed C., the agony that is me, and I must sleep, or eat, or both. I must kill the pain.

I dropped two ginseng today. One around eleven, to get up my courage for the French oral, and one about nineteen hundred, when coming down got to be too much. It is about comedown time again. Maybe I can attribute all this to that. I could drop another to go to sleep, but then I would just be coming down again when I had to get up. I can't let myself get caught in that cycle again.

And yet I can almost feel myself doing just that already. Do I really think I will resist the bottle on my way past my school bag as I head to my bedroom?

This is gibberish. It is meaningless. It reflects my soul: meaningless. There is nothing more to say, and yet I keep trying to say it. That, I suppose, means there is more to say. And that, I suppose, means I don't want to know it.

It is not so much that the rest is silence as that we cannot bear to hear it. Sanity is willful deafness, sightlessness, senselessness. The catatonic are the only truly sane ones in this world of pain.

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0347 112096

Looking back, I think those times for the ginseng are all wrong. I think I dropped the first -- when? -- it was later than eleven. Eleven was when I met Jessica to practice. She lectured me about how I shouldn't be doing anything with S. She told me she is a girl, a child. She was speaking in French, though, but that was what she said. I think I took it between Linguistics and Literary Criticism, maybe. That would be about fourteen hundred. I took the second just after getting home. About nineteen hundred, I guess. I must have miscalculated. I was not coming down when I popped the second. I was depressed and tired, but still had the pill in my system, I believe. One is barely a mood booster. Two can make me happy. I am coming down now, or I am down, but I think I can resist. My feelings are realigning. The cages are going down. Everything is back in the box, and Pandora has been justly chastened. And so, I go to bed.

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"The facts about anything, and especially about a man's writing, are usually so much dust in the eye. What is important to know about a writer is given in his writing. No amount of information about a writer will clear up the controversy which his work arouses, if he is a controversial writer. The discerning ones will read between the lines; the patient, plodding researcher will only grow more confused."

--Henry Miller


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by Nemo est Sanctus


One can always tell when ansat has a new story in the works. He beams from ear to ear and tells everyone who will listen, "I've found a new way to ridicule my readers." He does seem to do this in "Greece" [State of unBeing #31, November 1996]. Sex is mentioned, but hardly dwelt on. A vulnerable nude is not portrayed as welcoming, but as a disturbing, blood-covered child. (One can almost see ansat grinning over his keyboard, thinking about the mind games of blood-covered breasts.) A nude girl plays in the water, but when the reader expects a description, ansat describes her discarded clothes.

But, unlike some of his writings, "Greece" is not intended predominantly to ridicule his readers through playing with their imaging faculties. There is nothing gratuitous about the sex or the blood and the misdirection serves the purpose of telling the stories, or rather of telling the story three times.

Characteristic of ansat's writing, as that of the Decadent school he admires and imagines in which he can write, is a dualistic perception of reality. Life is conflict. "Greece" tells three times the story of the conflict between the natural, subconscious world -- typified by the Grecian girl and the unbeatable, unconscious "necessity" of the relationship -- and the rational, conscious world, where he and his nameless girlfriend live.


Why Greece? It would be a more fair question if ansat had not told us repeatedly that he does not know. But one cannot confuse the narrator with the author, or even the fictional character that thinks of itself as the author with the existential reality of "ansat" (whatever that may be). This would defeat the whole purpose of fiction, and ansat knows full well how much trouble one can cause if one does not distance oneself enough from one's work.

An excellent way to see ansat's full range of emotion -- flattery, thoughtfulness, patience, irritation, finally anger -- is to start every conversation with, "Why Greece?" I ended with a range of answers. It just happened to pop into his head, was one. He always wanted to write about Greece. He was inspired by The Magus (by Fowles, not Barrett).

(Having seen the manuscript, and that where now the narrator has a vague "editing" and "notes" he once had the trappings not of a writer but of an editor, one may be tempted to see a connection to the editor and unhappy relationships of Nabokov's Translucent Things. But the European scenes in Nabokov's book were Swiss, and anyway this is a discarded variation, and not fair game for inquiry. Whatever echoes in tone or scenery, for the question "Why Greece?" we must dismiss this as a dead end.)

One may be tempted to drop this line of inquiry entirely here, to assume it just happened. He tells us he only picked Greece more or less at random. Why was it titled thus? It was a convenient name, a working title that homesteaded. So he says. This author does not believe anything in literature "just happens", and certainly does not believe ansat in any of his claims. Even when one knows ansat is telling the truth, one is well advised to assume he is lying, just to be on the safe side, or at least that he is infinitely ignorant.

A clue to "Why Greece?" may be found in the character of the shepherdess. She, as previously noted, typifies the natural world, the base reality ansat struggles against. Does she also typify Greece, or does Greece embody her?

The center of his Greece is a pool, water given shape, and birth, by earth. The pool is, of course, a very feminine symbol, and typifies the material world. The water within the pool typifies the spirit in the material, and so in the Narcissus segment of the allegorical Romance of the Rose leads to the seeing of God, and the all. The Pan within, to import a native archetype.

His Greece-as-girl -- his naiad -- descends into the center of the spirit, hidden in the earth, and emerges in a baptism. She typifies all ansat struggles against -- and desires. He can only observe from the edge, a self-exiled observer. He observes that she may be just what he needs, but misunderstands her as "simple-minded" due to his inability to reconcile within himself the transcendent with the immanent. He will see only the material, and so of course the girl appears -- in his deficient reality-tunnel -- as "simple-minded", as two dimensional. He is looking at her with but one eye.

Greece is the home of the materialists, and the inspiration of the humanists. From Greece came Aristotle, with his conception that knowledge can only be obtained by extrapolating from the material, observed world. Sappho's lyrics and Ovid's Ars amortica come from Greece, with their idolatry of the body and carnality.

And with all this in mind, we can turn to the very first section of the story. We see him raise the question of "Why Greece?" and then immediately turn to the motive of the trip as a whole. Herein lies the key. The narrator -- and, one suspects, ansat as well -- is ignorant of his motive. The reader, able to see the archetypes embodied in all parts of the tale with a simultaneity and a detachment impossible to anyone immersed in a life, can see what they -- the narrator, the girlfriend, and ansat -- wanted to reclaim, and even why they cannot see it.

The narrator and the narrator's girlfriend are involved in a struggle between each other. This is the first story. They are involved in a battle against their feelings. This is the second story. He is engaged in a battle against his desire for the Grecian shepherdess. This is the third story.

All these stories are one, and all the opponents are one. The narrator battles with the ideal against the real.

The shepherdess remains the kernel (there is, incidentally, a theological pun in that metaphor, which may not be clear before the last paragraph of this section), typifying the entire story in herself, like a fractured part of a hologram or a quantum nonlocal particle. She is Greece, as Greece the material. Her body attracts him, and repulses him. The erotic description of her stripped body ends on a corpse's pallor, and he leaves her laying on a shroud. He sees the material -- in both senses, when he gets to the shepherdess's dress --, and so sees the corruptibility of life, of death. In Greece, in the Grecian girl, he sees the materialism that he desires, and that he loathes. This battle is the one played out all through the tale, viz. the attempt to divorce the transcendent from the material, and to preserve a tenuous hatred of the latter.

Within this same Greece, though, we also have the high pagans, Plato, the Greek Fathers, and much of the early Church -- from the Corinthians to the Thessalonians. From what we have seen above, Greece appears to be a reversal of the use in the Gnostic reading of the New Testament. One can forgive ansat knowing his theological ignorance, but is this really necessary? We first look at the narrator's perspective, and then see where the author's true sympathies lie.

One remembers, of course, why Lorris coupled his pool with Narcissus, in a conscious echo back to Ovid's Metamorphoses: The pool can lead to enlightenment, but only if one sees through the pool -- the material, the feminine -- to the upper sephiroth. Ovid's telling presented only the flaw. This, of course, because Ovid was a pagan. In "Greece", the narrator is aware only of the danger, it would seem, and turns away. He turns away from her, desirable as she may be, and to the stars -- an unusual appearance of the sky in one of ansat's works -- the archetypical symbol of hopes, if unrealizable. This longing is the omnipresent subtext; this struggle is, again, the story told three times in the text, a thrice-told tale.

Ovid told of the dangers of seeing oneself reflected in the pool, this being the fall not only of Narcissus, but of Lucifer and of Adam. Lorris told of the benefits of seeing through the pool. In "Greece", ansat tells of a third way -- the unfortunate aversion to the pool itself. Why? "A little learning is a dangerous thing; / Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring..." For fear of the fate of Narcissus, the narrator fails to even try for illumination.

There is one thing the narrator fails to see, or rather, perhaps, fails to accept, this being the spirit within the material. Within Greece is the water of the pool, which he does not enter, though one suspects this is the reason he came to Greece. One recalls he leaves into the night, listening to the stream, which he then proceeds to follow. Within his relationship with his girlfriend is the transcendent "fate" against which he has no chance. He rebels against the material in a losing battle, because within the material of their relationship is the transcendent of their love. Finally, within the Grecian girl is the essence of the spirit.

If this story can be said to be "about" anything -- and most stories are "about" a great many things, depending on the creativity of the co-author we conventionally term the "reader" -- this writer would say it is about the realization of a former Gnostic of the goodness in reality that is the hallmark of the Catholic faith. Catholicism is a very material religion, because it knows the material points to the spiritual. Icons, statues, symbols, all point to God. God became flesh, showing us that one is not corrupted by the flesh. This relationship between the material and the spiritual is a hard one, and one that many religions -- iconoclastic, crypto-gnostic, Arian -- fail to grasp. It is central to the Catholic faith, though, as central as the Cross and the Mass. (Those who know ansat know he recently converted to Catholicism from a form of Valentinan Gnosticism.)

Knowing this theological "explanation", many of the symbols in the text become transparent things. It is not the purpose of this brief essay to bring to light every allusion, play on words, or symbol of the story. This would take a paper much longer than the story, instead of this paper, which is merely rather longer. A couple of the more major motifs, though, will be briefly touched upon.

An important motif in such somewhat-Gnostic texts as the Gospel of Thomas is that of clothing. "Greece" is no different. And, as with the Gnostic texts, the clothes represent the flesh. It is no coincidence, no mere misdirection, and no sexual prudery that leads to the description of the shepherdess's clothing after she sheds them. It is, rather, to draw attention to this motif. Two facets are of particular interest. For one, this brings to obvious light the battle of wills, as ansat describes it. He tries to make her "earthy scent" smell unpleasant, and the stitching tries to appear beautiful. The subjective nature of this description amplifies the fact that the narrator is not seeing what "is", but rather he tries to see what he wants to see, with dubious success. The other facet is just how the clothes are described. Knowing what the story is "about", reflection on the description should make clear each noun and adjective.

The shepherdess sheds her clothes easily, to bathe in the waters of the spirit. She also comes easily back to her clothes, and is undisturbed to find someone at them -- that is to say, she is not bothered by someone physically close to her. She does not merely shed her clothing. This cannot be stressed enough. She has no shame in coming back to them. The narrator sees her clothes as "ghostly", as "a shroud". He continues his subjective manner of seeing only death in the material. She, however, can take on or shed the flesh as she desires. She is liberated in a way he cannot understand, for she is not a slave to the flesh either by unduly loving it or hating it.

Contrast this liberation to the other girl in the story, the girlfriend. She has the most violent battle in the tale, and she attempts to deal with the flesh by cutting it. We see in her a violent hatred of the material world, which is, of course, a form of slavery. She fights a duel to first blood, which tries to save honor but cannot solve the problem.

So much for the clothing motif. As this paper already grows long, I will simply point towards the baptismal motif -- which the shepherdess accepts, though she does not need it, and he can merely observe, and which also brings to mind such related motifs as Easter and Beowolf -- and to the Christ motif. He is the Good Shepherd, she is the shepherdess. He goes down within the earth, and rises again. Within Greece is Sophia, and within ansat is yet a Gnostic, if only in his symbolism. This Savior had to be sought out, and is fittingly female.


Having looked at what is, so to speak, there, the logical next question is: Where did it come from? How much is real? One of ansat's maxims for authors, his proverbs of authorship, is: Always write what you know. There is, of course, nothing particularly novel about this. He always follows it, however, with: Never write the truth. He means: Never write the real. By this apparent contradiction, he means to say take what has been experienced, but don't simply vomit it upon the page. There is nothing beautiful in nature, and art should be entirely beautiful. Take what is experienced and transform it in the crucible of the artistic soul, purifying it into art.

Knowing this, it is a more than idle pursuit to seek the "truth" -- the reality -- from which came the facts and figures, so to speak, in this and any other story by ansat. The historic truth makes up the canvas upon which he paints artistic truth. There is another witticism, a maxim for authors, ansat likes to say that relates to this topic, viz.: "If they find out who your characters are after you're dead, it is literary criticism. If they find out before you're dead, it's libel." I flatter myself by saying this is literary criticism, but, as ansat is still -- as of this writing -- alive, we may expect little help on his part. It is fortunate, then, that ansat likes to talk about himself and his writing, and frequently fails to think before he speaks. What follows cannot be sworn as truth. It is a mixture of what ansat wants his reader to know, what he doesn't mind his reader to know, and what I have been able to determine on my own merits.

The characters are, as is typical of ansat, transparent as to their avatars. The narrator is more or less autobiographical. This is something ansat only bothers to deny when one of his character's opinions has gotten him into trouble with a friend or lover; ansat likes to say: "All fiction is autobiographical." (He likes to use "all" and "always" a lot more than he believes it. I suspect he thinks it makes him sound authoritative, and smarter than he can ever hope to be in reality. I will spare him in his ignorance, and I hope the reader will be equally kind.) This narrator, while he does not share ansat's experiences, seems to share his reactions. (And ansat is under no illusion that he is less dense or bumbling than the nameless narrator.)

It would not be honest to say the nameless girlfriend "is" ansat's real "kind of former but not really over" girlfriend, to use his typically awkward words. The girlfriend in "Greece" is a mutilation of this real person. The real one is not a self-mutilator, so far as ansat knows, and likes the grandmother slash surrogate mother a fair amount more than ansat does. She is an orphan, and ansat is pathetically, naively baffled by the intensity of their feelings for -- and often against -- each other.

There may be a prototype for the Grecian child. All I can say is ansat denies it.

As for the events, they are easier dismissed. None of them ever happened. He has never been to Greece, and neither has the girl. As of this writing, she indeed has only visited ansat once, but he was not nearly as eloquent as he imagined. The graveyard story happened in the graveyard from the story of that name, not a geographic location. Ironically, the only scene that happened as it happened in the story did not happen in the story. The conversation about the teasing is historical, in some fashion. The rest, ansat tells me, is fiction.

One is tempted to doubt every word.


Knowing what is there, and from whence it came, we can discuss the final, easiest question: How much does ansat know? The answer is, thankfully, not much. He writes in archetypes. He gives little or no thought to what it "means" or what it "is". He is concerned merely with what "should be", and that is enough "is" for him.

The reader may benefit here from an examination of how ansat writes. He is generally as baffled by what "happens" as anyone else, even though he generally knows the ending before he begins. The writing of a story is, for him, less an artistic creation than an archetypical dialogue between him and his subconscious.

Every writing is written by at least six people: The author, who the author thinks he is, who the author wants others to think he is, the hypothetical reader, who the author thinks the hypothetical reader thinks he is, and who the author thinks the hypothetical reader wants others to think he is. Different pieces of writing amplify one of another of the different co-authors, but all are there to some extent.

When ansat writes, an idea comes from the "author", his subconscious. Who the author thinks he is, the "conscious", imagines he thought of it himself, and ansat gets a little pride. The other four co-authors are generally present in ansat's consideration of certain words and jokes -- frequently at the reader's expense, though sometimes only because ansat imagines the author won't see his allusions -- but the first two primarily write the story. The subconscious feeds the conscious scenes and concepts, which the conscious tampers with to make elegant and presentable, as well as translating into human language. With every rereading, ansat discovers more about his subconscious, as well as his conscious, just as one does on every rereading of any piece of literature.

As with any bureaucracy, most information gets lost in the shuffle. One suspects this is how ansat insulates himself from the fact the pain he writes of is his own.


I could go one, but I have already exceeded the length of the story. "Greece" is not childish realism. Details are not present for the sake of details. In some cases, ansat did not become aware of the meaning of details before he wrote them, but all have their purpose in the final draft.

In his writing, ansat frequently gets amusement from his belief that most of his readers won't have a clue what he is "really" saying. It is a somewhat hollow laughter, as he comes to learn what he is "really" saying by picking apart what he says after he has said it, reworking it, and then saying it as elegantly as he can manage for the reader. Perhaps this essay will help the reader catch some of these subtle jokes.


"The creative mind plays with the object it loves."

--Carl Jung


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[to Part 3]

by I Wish My Name Were Nathan

One of my favorite running anecdotes is what I refer to as "my black-hole notebook." I found the pocket notebook two years ago in a sack of textbooks as a free gift. Most of those last two years, I carried it around with me to write down ideas for stories that come to me when I'm hanging around with friends. Ironically, though, nearly everything I wrote down has died in the notebook. None of the phrases or ideas seem to work, and I haven't used any of them in my writing. Hence the term, black-hole notebook. Anything attracted to it never escapes.

I'm surprised I stuck with it so long. Stubbornness, I guess. The black-hole notebook was my companion most weekends of the two years I used it. Whenever someone said something particularly interesting or humorous, I'd whip out the notebook and jot down what had been said. This would inevitably cause the last speaker to pause self-consciously and reflect upon his words. Whenever new people hung out with us, I'd make them nervous doing this. "Is he a detective?" was one of the more frightened remarks, said with a lighthearted air I always knew was fake. They had something to hide, I knew it.

Among others, the omnipresence of the black-hole notebook inspired an insatiable curiosity to know what I'd just written down. I never revealed what I'd written down. I have this bad habit of privatizing my ideas, superstitiously aware that revealing my thoughts would maim my writing. So I would usually lie to explain away the anxiety. "Oh, of course I'm not writing about you, and certainly nothing about any theory I'm developing concerning your pathological character."

Back at home, I'd invariably find something was different about the ideas I had written down. They had seemed to have lost something. [1] Perhaps the plainest reason for this is the lack of context. Being at home poring over blurry pencilled writing sorta lacked the fun of being in Austin with a group of giddy friends. I wasn't meticulous enough to copy down entire conversations, either, so oftentimes I was perplexed at the origin, intent, and meaning of a phrase I re-read.

So, for months, Kilgore would bug me for submissions, and after slapping him upside the head, I would lament, "I thought I wrote down ideas in my notebook, but they're gone!" The lament eventually developed into the all-explaining "black-hole notebook." It really wasn't at all funny, but he always laughed. I learned to as well.

Thinking back, I can say with some confidence that I should have been more selective in what I wrote down. Without context, timestamps, or pictures, the ideas and phrases all melded together into a general picture of incomprehensibility, nothing relating to its antecedent, no clue why I would think this interesting, or how I would use it -- much like Kilgore's sister's term papers.

No matter how lightly I take it now, I really was pained by the loss of so many cool ideas. Rather than explain this with a whiney philosophical essay [1], I will fight back, and reclaim my power to maim good ideas by writing them out, not merely by jotting them down.

To perform this herculean task, I present, for the first time, a world-premiere of my black-hole notebook. Here I will heavily censor some examples of things I wrote down, for your pleasure. So sit back, unzip your fly, and have fun. Reading, that is.

This threatens to become trite -- even with all I left out -- but maybe you and I can get an idea of where to head from this list. What strikes me is that in these seven or so pages crammed full of blunt pencilled writing, there is an astonishing blend of trivia, catch-phrases, humor, and deep philosophical insights. (At least I think so.)

Unfortunately, I know the ideas I have written down won't stand on their own. It'd be fun to write a scene with Trent Reznor arriving at Georgetown Airport and scaring away the kids lying on the runway (actual entry, folks), but personally I couldn't write a whole story just from that premise. But isn't that the way a lot of people like to write? Even the way people make up jokes -- adding dead weight to support the punchline? It's just a personal preference -- I can't write from a premise.

Looking back, however, it appears that all of these ideas were premises, or keywords meant to remind me of an anecdote that could also serve as a premise. I guess that was the problem -- I thought the notebook was worth more than the sum of its parts. But it's just a junk drawer! I shouldn't treat it like anything more. It's all so clear now, like the meaning of the phrase "Rubs himself silly!" I scrawled on one page with a sketch of a disturbed-looking face.

Wow, it would appear that simply writing out this essay has eliminated a major roadblock for me. Ironic, eh? Frankly, though, I've always known the real source of the black-hole notebook's evil powers. It's laziness! I just never read the damn thing. Hee hee. Can you blame me for keeping an old joke alive?


One final quote, to wash down the seething anger:

"I knew she was going to rob the store. I just ducked behind a shelf and thought about my hand."

Maybe it means something deep.

[1] I wrote an essay about this, relating to my poem in SoB #7, "Murder of an image," and how it sucks to write things down. It got philosophical and boring and annoyed me. This essay is a revolutionary swing away from the pessimism of that article. But, that version did provide a humorous anecdote:

At the end of that article, I included this paragraph:

Should I have warned people that this would descend into philosophy again? Is it worthwhile to point out that I actually planned it this way this time? Should I diffuse the tension by revealing that I wrote the idea for this whole essay in the black-hole notebook?

When I sat down to rewrite the article this time, strangely enough, I couldn't find the notebook anywhere. At all. IT'S GONE. [2]

[2] That's a lie. I found it later. But footnote [1] was funny so I kept it.


[=- POETASTRiE -=]

"The poets? They stink. They write badly. They're idiots you see, because the strong people don't write poetry.... They become hitmen for the Mafia. The good people do the serious jobs."

--Charles Bukowski


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by The Super Realist

Lights play across the sky, unwavering, pacing back and forth. Searchlights, aliens, hands of God. Face of God peers through alien searchlight, nicotine withdrawal strained face cutting through human apathy over purulent Peruvian night sky. Statue of Jesus shoots jizm and brimstone into the mouth of God, climacting God with horrendous volcanic fury. Dogs of Apocalypse pin worn Lambada boys from behind and mate with uncoupled fury. Police goose dogs and Lambada boys from behind as well, driving them from the street into broken hovels of hotels to be broken themselves even further. Neither the orgasm nor scream causes cops to cop a properly respectful attitude. Only the word of God is able to move these evil white pieces of judgement into action, and the word of God now is "Comprenden genitalia" -- understand the genitals -- written in thirty foot high letters on the porno magazine that Moses brought back from Mount Mammalia. "Love your neighbors. Let him feel your love flow through him in glorious waves of jism and holy water based lubricants." The dancing Lambada boys strip tease in concluded nothingness, blinding the Dogs of Apocalypse in women's clothing -- transvestites the whole Lot of them. The Dogs howl in rage and rage towards the nearest painted up dead whore, face peeling from maggot infested cheek meat, intestines bloated creating easier penetration; doing away with the need for lubrication. God frowns and orders his white Christian prison trash police to exterminate the Dogs with crystallized heroin (you ever see a hot shot kid?); however causing the Dogs to mutate into translucent junkies of globbed protoplasmic fury. The Dogs in ecto protoplasmic horror couple with the statue of jesus, massaging the prostate, the statue ejaculating into the eyes of God. God's frown deepens into the trenches of occupied French cafes where the crystallized heroin (I saw a hot shot once in Philly) is processed and sold to junky protoplasmal ecto-endo skeletal Dogs and cats and mice and men. Look at the pretty bunnies. Copulating, multiplying to copulate more. Bunnies make the perfect Southern family. God smiles and paces back and forth again. Again and again. Faster and faster. So screams God to his police, "Drive them faster! Use a whole tube of KY. No need for spermicide, no siree." The statue of Jesus moves off its pedestal and proceeds to impale itself on the highest mountain, sitting, corkscrewing, screaming in painful delight. The Dogs loose all sense of sexuality from their junk induced reality, the need of connecting mind and soul overpowering their orgones. The antithesis of God -- Satan, Ha-satan, Apook -- grins his goat shaped grin. God prefers sheep over goat anyway. The struggle begins anew. "Burn them out! Burn them out! Fire to cauterize the veins. Only way to stop a junky. Take away all passages for his junk. Burn them to a crisp so that they can't even use suppositories." Police grin and set fire to the sky in holier-than-thou thoroughness, anarchy raining down like the stone tablets thrown from the helicopters by raving Religious Fanatics. Cities burn. White burn of junk extinguished from firewalls of Dragons. The statue of Jesus continues to spin and rise from the mountain, only to slide back down on holy water based lubrication. Lambada boys couple with the police to rid the streets of anti-sexual protoplasmic fury rimmed globs of Dogs. Only the totally strange remain to hear Jesus's final orgasmic triumph as he rises off the mountain in blue light blocked by blacklight. Father, Son and Holy Ghost merge into one menage et trois.


"If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers."

--Doug Larson


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by Clockwork

So she sat there.

Misty blue-eyed smoke hazed over the dull roar of the crowd while wistful bodies slipped to and fro. Some were tall and and laughed with soft chuckles, others came to your knees, not mine, and wept in their lost height. Couples, naked in my head, played cards with fancified yuppie decks -- black on white on red on white. Stepped slightly out of place, but the lust slipped out as her foot tapped towards his. Too bad lust was all they had. You could see it. You could see a lot of things if you kept your eyes open with laughter, wrapped in determination and predetermined free will.

Other couples, clothed in my head, sat and argued the semantics of their relationship. Too far past and gone; no hope, although they try because of hope. All that and she rests her feet calmly upon his thigh.

Picture this -- middle aged wannabes so lost, perhaps reliving their generation's social habits in mine. Beauty slowly came down the stairs, with a glance towards me and a glance towards them. Stepped right for a moment and came back a moment later with a glance just for me.

Coughing smoker and large armed talker. Walk right in.


"People ask you for criticism, but they only want praise."

--Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage


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by Blissful Silence

Lying still on the edge of my bed, I closed my eyes and tried to understand it again. Understand it -- the whole body-soul essence of silence, that which lies beyond. Not grasping for a thread dangling before my eyes, but honestly not knowing it is there, and allowing myself to be astounded at its overlooked obviousness.

To understand, to know; to imagine, to act. Maybe I meant I was trying to know it again, to know that silence. Perhaps more accurate, but degrading to the self. I knew it once. I already know it. Is it not my job to understand it once again?

Lying still on the edge of the bed, the images and scenes played on my retinas. Sullen passenger in a car, trying to ignore the reflections of the neon signs on the window. Once she looks out the window in a moment of wonder and squints at the stretch of darkness, but it is too late. Her answer was amongst the gaudy signs.

My mind tripped and I realized I was daydreaming. I was trying to understand silence but had fallen into meaningless creation. I feel the rush of thoughts and control return flooding into my mind. Is this it? Is this the silence? It feels different, quieter, but I'm aware of it. I analyze the situation and try to understand what I did wrong.

My mind stumbled again and I realized I was categorizing. I was trying to know silence but had fallen into utterly meaningless calculation, like a man in a suit rationalizing the persistence of God. I reassured myself that I'd stop categorizing and daydreaming.

Lying still on the edge of my bed, another thought stampeded forth, a scolding sentiment. Why was I reassuring myself, catching myself, throttling my mind back and forth, when I was trying to know silence? This anti-thought was not silence, it was noise of a different sort.

I tried to let go, walk with my eyes closed, and trust in myself, my true self. To imagine, to act. Wasting my time rationally imagining I was working toward knowing silence. Imagination is noise. Bluejays building nests: the observer imagines intense scrutiny and effort; the bluejay thinks nothing and only acts.

I had to stop imagining I understood -- and start acting like I knew.


"This is insane."

--William S. Burroughs


[Prev | Next]

[to part I]

by The Super Realist

I saw my second crazy person on the bus today
rain slicked streets turned to black ribbon
and his wild eyed stare stayed up to watch
the ground breaking ceremony

As he walked by, feet clattering against the
white washed background of cloud nine to five
a downpour of God's tears blessed the man
to which I replied in kind

Lesser of two evils, hunger or cold the man
spends his last dollar on another's meal
saving the second stranger for another day
of routine inner politics

Streams of salt down my face I pulled the chord
got off the bus, ambled up, strained apathy
on my face and hands; too soon did he see me
before he realized the truth

Of course he took the money I offered, do
not blame him that for which we are all tied
down to this earth for some reason or another
My reason is to not lose my reason

[to part III]


"You who are girdled with ice,
by such fire consumed..."

--Puccini, Turandot


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by StormChaser

Surrounded by these walls
Strong, protected, shielding
Yet sounds of violence penetrate my silence
I will never escape
Days go by, harmless
I'll run for many years
Whether tomorrow or the day I die
Someday I must face
My hateful heartless world.
Never will I run ahead
For I know what future tells
Turning back I hide away
In a dead, forgotten paradise
To no world do I belong
Though search I everyday
Today is made of steel and hate
Today humans number few
Yesterday will take me not
Thoughts of tomorrow pierce my homeless soul
So I wander, ever searching
To house my empty being


"Only slaves love being powerful."

--Hans Erich Nossack


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by The Super Realist

Fester fester boil and
There's a vein for me to nod up -
It's not mine

What voice is talking? What ears are hearing?
What heart is beating? How's the stuff to reach
my brain? Too many questions. Am I asking

Too much too
baby burn
Socio-contract-hyphenated decaffeinated sugar
honey do do DO do doo do
Ah sugar sugar
you are my man the man the MAN

Away to nod and not off the wagon wheel goes round and round and round
I think I see a rat! I did I did see a silly putty rat!
I laugh so hard at the space between my toes that my tear ducts cry out
for the soothing calm relief of H and O
My god ... here I come!
Ectoplasmic servitude of the highest sexless pitied piety.
I'd bow down but I can't find the floor
or the phone to call my lawyer,
but Andy Warhol will do just fine!


[=- FiCTiON -=]


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by Blissful Silence

Silence lay on his bed, perfectly straight, with his shoes still on, bunched-up sheets resting on his chest, his arms holding them tight, and that blissful smile on his face. He looked like he was dreaming of hugging someone, someone small and waifish, much like himself, but younger, someone who could rest on his chest in a mutual embrace without causing any discomfort.

Someone small and waifish, much like himself, lying askew over his body, chests and noses touching, bony hips and pointy knees apart, breathing in rhythm, soaking in the moment and the blissful silence.

The sound of a door opening somewhere in the house awakened him from his daydream. In the afterglow of the memories he wasn't the least bit interested in what that opening door meant. Not content to worry, he assumed the event would be innocuous, or at the best, pleasurable. It turned out both ways.

In the gaze of his sleepy happy eyes appeared a boy, somewhat small and waifish, much like himself -- not really a boy, not really a man, either, but that indeterminate intermediate when one decides which to be. He wandered in and stopped upon seeing who lay in the bed, allowing his figure a full reading. The boy was draped in a large teeshirt and his thin hips barely held up his baggy jeans, below which somewhere were his shoes. Scuffed, scuffed, all scuffed. He was a skater, now seeming incomplete without his board under his arm.

This boy had let himself be watched before, shuffling feet and small hands working a masterpiece of artful direction over the board and his body, both connecting and taking off over the concrete, heavy plastic wheels rattling forward up a ramp into the air, legs disconnecting briefly for a brief moment of weightlessness.

The wind billowed through the boy's shirt, catching it midair at times revealing his hip-riding undershorts. One was left to wonder at times how his jeans stayed up, those sloppy tubes of heavy canvas hiding the sleek form of his workhorse legs. Long shoelaces also flew about, chaotically dancing and snapping around, all their energy deriving from excess exuberance the boy couldn't restrain.

All the clothes, all the encumbrances a challenge to the skater, trip-ups to delicately avoid, dead weight to master, and above all, padding. "We're not out here vandalizing buildings! All we hurt is ourselves!" Indeed. Looking over the skater, Silence experienced an ecstatic rush of memory, watching, sharing in his pain, his triumph, the art he worked so diligently to produce day after day. His audience was small, his fan adoring.

Their two gazes had met and intermingled to generate an unnameable force, one without meaning but begging for definition. Silence pushed aside the bunched-up covers covering his torso, revealing his frame, small and waifish like the boy's. Under his bed-wrinkled shirt and the artificial crease in his jeans, his loins murmured.

Silence let himself become swallowed up in the gaze, turn into the observed. The skater boy approached, letting himself be swallowed as well. He stepped up to the side of the bed. A quizzical smile graced his lips. Did he not understand? Or perhaps he did. His hand drew into the air between them, faltering.

Silence reached his hand up near the boy's and also faltered. Both faltered, both hands hovering in the air, their owners locked in a mutual gaze of confusion and wonder. Silence discarded his thoughts and let his hand fall far to his side in a gesture of openness, his uncovered frame beckoning.

The boy drew his hand to Silence's face, and bent forward and kissed his lips. The interlocking gaze magnified in strength with their nearness; at the kiss the two very nearly became one. The ecstatic intensity of the moment resounded through both of them, coursed through their veins, and in mutual surprise, the connection was lost.

Silence's eyes, heavily dilated, slowly shrunk back to size, and he looked up at the empty room with a pang of regret. The sun shone across his bed through the window, bisecting his body, uncomfortably warm. He pulled the sheets back over him, like the bagginess of a teeshirt, and clasped his arms around the bunched-up sheets, as if he were hugging someone small and waifish, much like himself.


"I contradict myself?
Very well, then: I contradict myself.
I am large: I contain multitudes."

--Walt Whitman


[Prev | Next]

by Water Damage

The glow of the neon sign caught my eye and held it, as there really wasn't anything else worthy of my attention. Cool metal reposed beneath me, and that blasted windshield wiper poked me in the small of the back. As I lay on my car in the Woking Taco parking lot, a stifling feeling hit me. I felt as if I was going nowhere, and fast. I mean, sure, I was white and middle class and all that, destined for a life of middle management, but where is that? Where does that get me, and why do I want to be there? As I lay on my car in the Woking Taco parking lot, basking in the electric glow of the sign above the entrance, the stifling feeling grew stronger. Stronger to the point where it felt like I couldn't breathe. Corporate America is closing in on me, images of office-buildings and parking ramps, of commutes to and from the suburbs. If you're going to live like that, why live at all? The warm summer air was still around me, the night sky lit up by countless artificial suns, sucking juice and spitting out light. Light to show everyone the way home, light to make sure that we don't get lost. Except I am lost, with nowhere to go at all, nothing that it all leads up to. I am lost in the world, and not all the electric light in the city can change that. Money is power, and at least in this country that is the absolute truth. It's something no one can protest against, but instead everyone must subscribe to.

My friends come out of the joint, chow mein burritos in hand, and we leave. Our beat up car peels out of the parking lot and on to the highway. Tonight, we are leaving suburbia and all it's glory forever behind. Gray concrete stretches to infinity, every bit as bleak and bland as my future would be. Hardly any variety through the curves and ramps. Green signs litter the space above me and to my sides. They tell me of all the suburban opportunities that await me if I would just take Exit 113A, promising to fill my life with all the plain, white bread I could ever eat. Only, that's not going to be the case this time. The four of us aren't going to be lost to middle-managing a Woking Taco franchise. We aren't going to be conned into giving up our souls to become mindless automatons, in the service of the almighty dollar. I would have liked to be able to say we never spent another dollar after Woking Taco, but I can't, because we were out of gas, and Johnny wanted some cigarettes.

Different lights, same feeling. I lay on the hood once again, not staring into the red glow of Woking Taco, but the harsh white of a convenience store floodlight. It's not long before we're on the road again, with a trunk full of tools of a sort, tools to separate us from the capitalist world around us.

I've been through the tired old capitalist/socialist debate with my friends maybe one to many times, and have finally come to the conclusion that I have no idea what's good anymore. I'm kind of disillusioned with the magic of these huge, macro-level systems. All of us are kind of tired to answering to an earthly higher power. We're ready to leave that all behind now.

I don't think I could go back to where I live, right now. Even if I wanted to, I don't think I could force myself to go back to that building I call home. It doesn't even deserve a name like that. I live in a nice suburban area, in a relatively new housing development. Trouble is, all the houses in my neighborhood look exactly alike. Someone once told me that they looked like houses, but not homes. I believe him, now. Why I ever thought living there was paradise, I'll never know. Corporations make everything that was nice and intimate turn it into something packaged and impersonal. Everything is so white, unerring, sterile, under the mighty hand of Woking Taco. Our neighbors in the housing development where we reside hardly ever talk to us, not much like a neighbor, if you ask me. It's far too late to go back there, now. I'm stuck on a crash course with destiny.

I see nothing now but an endless stream of headlights in front of me, as everyone goes home from the city, back to their boring little suburbs. Not that I'm in love with the city, or anything. If the suburbs are extensions of corporate evil, then the city is the core of all the horrors of the world. Corporations like Woking Taco have their headquarters in the city, so how can anything there be good?

We enter the city now, the lanes become narrower, and the traffic faster. Vince holds up a map, illuminated only by the orange street lights adorning the highway. It's up there, he says, take this exit. Exit. We exit into the last part of our journey, now, further away from the safety of a pointless life than we should be allowed to be. Our hearts beat a little faster, our breath comes a little quicker, except for Johnny, he smokes so much that there's not really much breath left in him. Typical high-school tensions have left our mind. We're not worrying about whether we passed such and such a test or not. We're not worried about asking Suzy to the prom. We're not worried about our moms finding the illicit drugs in our room. We're not worried about how socialism can change the world, socialism is communism is fascism is nazism for all we care right now. We're the ultimate in apathetic now, because we've got no future and we know it. No future if we stay, and no future if we go.

The Offspring speak through the tape player, telling me that I gotta get away, which is exactly what we're doing.

The Woking Taco corporate headquarters is in front of us now, a gargantuan version of the red logo at our local franchise. We pull over to the side of the road and pop the trunk. Vince and Johnny stand around, looking worried and shivering, even though it's warm. My other friend checks our cargo, and tells me the explosives are all ready to go, they just need an impact. I can't for the life of me remember my other friends name. We get in the car, and speed back up the lane that we were just in, narrowly avoiding a premature collision. I spin around, one last mighty U-turn, before slamming the accelerator to the floor.

We're ditching the impersonality of the corporate world the only way we now how. The gate to the parking lot breaks easily as we plow through at the speed I usually reserve for getting away from the police.

Hardly anyone saw us that night, as my car smashed into the side of Woking Taco corporate headquarters, but everyone heard about the apparent suicide that immediately followed. The car burst into flames, killing us all instantly, but hey, I don't mind because I wasn't really going anywhere, anyway.


"Have you ever been in a Turkish prison, Bobby?"

--Peter Graves in Airplane


[Prev | Next]

by I Wish My Name Were Nathan

Sometimes I feel like I'll stay in the computer lab for the rest of the week. I like it here. It's late at night and very dark outside. I feel like a night owl, still pecking away at the keyboard. I head out for coffee once every two hours. It's a cheap thrill to use the faculty lounge for brewing. I also use their Folger's, sugar, and creamer.

What I like most about all this is the loneliness. It's fucked up to call it that, but I enjoy the melancholy of the computer lab at night. It's an old place, probably the first computer lab ever made on campus, filled with PC/XT's with jerryrigged 286 motherboards. The keyboards and loud and clickey, the monitors are blurry and flickery and threaten to burn your eye sockets, and no one dares print on the old nine-pin Panasonic printer. I don't even know if it's hooked up anymore. These things have big floppy drives and tiny hard disks; the only worthwhile software is Microsoft Word, Lotus 1-2-3, and the NCSA telnet client. Not even Windows. The place is cheap nostalgia. No wonder it's empty usually.

The feel of the room is quite quaint, too. I'm sure this was a glorified broom closet before they moved these computers in here. There is one solitary window and I sit by it. It has a broken heavy sash so it can't stay open on its own. That is, if you could open it. It's also painted shut. From my vantage point I can see the wall of the opposite building, and if I stretch my neck, part of a service road.

My chair is the funniest thing. It was apparently stolen from a fifth-grade classroom. Wooden seat and back, metal legs, squeaks like a motherfucker when I scoot around. Quaint, quaint, quaint. And, tinged with a lonely melancholy.

Other students sometimes find this place, in the basement of the math building, by climbing down a set of stairs behind an unmarked door. Invariably such students are one of two types. One is the "exploring" type, who takes it upon herself to seek out all the intricate corners of the buildings. One girl named Nancy explained to me that she was acting out a childhood love of exploration. Some kids enjoyed the forest, but she enjoyed the buildings. "The thing that makes my heart skip a beat is how these places were created this way. Whether rooms were added on over the years, whether deterioration or bad planning casts a hallway into disuse, I always feel a sense of discovery at finding them, hidden away back in the corridors."

The other type is the person who was really looking for these computers, the nostalgic type. The kind of person after my own heart. They usually clue in on the existence of this room by following rumors, overheard tidbits of conversation, or, in some cases, following ethernet cable under the floors right to the door. They are always surprised to find this place exists. None of the student handbooks, campus maps, or administrators mention this lab, and I doubt many know. I think only one professor in the computer science department remembers this place. But the other nostalgists and I keep this lab alive. Without any administration, I think I am the lab assistant by fiat. I do stay here the most, but there is a chorus of four others who regularly join me.

One guy named Steve has taken it upon himself to program a GUI on these machines, using only the assembly-language power of DEBUG. He will have no mouse to use with it, but he has programmed the numeric keypad to function as a proto-joystick, which drives a pointer-shaped cursor over the CGA screen. These computers have EGA but he insists on being a purist. Programs written for this GUI will also be written in assembly and he claims they will be faster than most programs out today, even on these sorry antiques. I have little doubt in his abilities.

Another guy called Jok, "not 'jock', dammit," is running a pirate industry down here. He's planning to fill up each of the five computers' 40-meg hard drives with the classiest games and gee-whiz utilities written between 1981 and 1985, everything strictly pre-EGA. A lot of these programs run in BASIC, so slow you can watch the screen update. The most notable thing about these programs is their intensive use of the PC speaker, arpeggiating notes to create a semblance of melody, and ramming bits down the channel to create cheesy digitized sounds. I have to hold my ears at the high-pitched whistling overtones.

Steve likes to hang around in here in the early afternoon and "regrettably" returns to his dorm room at night to utilize more modern computers for class. Jok tools around on weekends, searching for pirate antiques on the internet. I'm usually here the rest of the time when I'm not in class, fielding questions from those passersby who unexpectedly find the lab.

I met this girl named Tina on an internet BBS a few months ago. I spend much of my time now chatting with her. Ordinarily I don't take much interest in such affairs, but early on I found we have uncanny similarities. It revolves around feelings of time displacement, like those I have when I'm in this lab. Using the old computers and sitting in the ancient lab room, I feel literally like I'm in the early eighties. I told Tina this -- well, I was forced to, when she caught me using really bad slang from my childhood. "Awesome," "far out," "grody" -- good Lord!

But Tina said she experiences time displacement herself without the benefit of an old computer. It just seems that for her, time has slowed down constantly since somewhere around sixth grade. "Things just started going faster and faster," she said, "and I didn't want to go along with it." I'm not sure if I can remember my own sixth grade experiences, besides general anguish about getting blown up in a nuclear war. Tina still worries about this, almost as if the threat is as real as it was threatened to be ten years ago. She still believes that people are as selfish and greedy for material objects as they were back then. I try to convince her that people are becoming more self-aware. I tell her the threat of nuclear annihilation is gone and that fiscal conservatism is returning. She won't believe me.

She says she still reels at the idea of the compact disc, and especially one that can be used with computers. She still expects to find a lot of stations on the radio with radically different formats, but is confused to find only two "alternative" stations and a fading country station on the FM band. "The alternative stations are playing the exact same songs," she complains. "What's it like in your town?" I laugh and tell her we have a nineties rock station to even out the gaps.

I don't know if I love her yet. Right now I just experience a warm sense of comfort chatting with her, two people united in time dilation. A friend of mine says that my love of nostalgia is a fear of the changes occurring in the real world. Kindly, he doesn't insinuate this is a bad thing; he himself regrets the end of his formal education.

I wonder if I fear change, or fear the future. I think I'm reasonably in touch with what's going on, but I don't think I fear it. I do prefer the odd old comfort of this computer lab, though. Things don't change much in here, if at all. It's a very mellow place, even when Jok is laughing hysterically at an old .COM file he's found. It's comfortable. It's me.

I've been to the new labs, and I profoundly dislike them. The computers are nice and speedy, and everything is clean, but the labs seem shallow. Students rush in and out of the lab, checking e-mail and hurriedly typing in papers. An atmosphere of stress and impatience accompany mundane tasks. No one seems to be enjoying the technology that is allowing them the luxury of avoiding typewriters, paper, and envelopes. Even my lab has the same luxury, but somehow, with the faster computers, the gift is less appreciated, even unnoticed. Taken for granted.

Given the fact that my future workplace will resemble such a place, I have to wonder if I'll be able to stand it. Will I fit into such a sterile, rushed, impersonal workplace? My biggest fear, I suppose, is that I will adapt to it.

I try to ignore these thoughts by engaging in a game of Sopwith, but they weigh heavy on my mind.


"We know nothing of tomorrow; our business is to be good and happy today."

--Sydney Smith


[Prev | Next]

by Griphon

Molly wants me to sell sperm. My iron count is too low for me to sell any more blood, and besides, I don't want another fucking bout with pneumonia like last fall. The money's good, she said. She's already been to the blood bank this week, and they won't take her again, no matter how much blood she says she's got. We're on our last hit, and the cash is all gone. Frankly, I don't know how we've gotten this far as it is. We used to laugh at the thought of selling junkie blood to the blood bank, but they took it, month after month, and I think we're, at least I am, beginning to feel like those blood dolls, mortals that sit around the dreary old castle all day waiting for some suave vampire to come feed off us for a while before sending us to town with a pocket full of money and an appetite from hell. But it's heroin that has its teeth in us, me and Molly, and now we're looking at no more fun.

I started using with Molly when I found out she had her own place. Me, I floated between my parent's house and the apartments of friends until their hospitality was more than a little used up. She had a good connection, nice tits, and a pretty face. We decided to shack together and pool our resources, keep the other one afloat until some scam could be run or some money could be stolen or, in the worst cases, some job could be found to bring in the necessary funds to feed the needle. In the beginning it was fun and games. The sex, when we weren't high, was good, and the bed was always warm, and there was someone to sit with, even when the junk had you drawn into your own little euphoric world. It always helped to know that someone was sitting next to you, just as happy as you were, and that much happiness is always a good thing.

Molly says she's had it with me. This isn't the first time, because it's not the first time we've been nearly out. When she withdraws, she gets mean. Cries a lot and shouts a lot and wrings her hand a lot. I usually just get sick and cold and sit in front of the television wishing it would all go away. They say everyone has a different sickness, just like everyone has a different high, and while Molly and I get along great when we're high, when we're sick, man, it's like a fucking war zone. Cat, we have a cat, we bought her when my uncle had died and set me up with a couple thousand dollars and a belief we had hit the good times forever, is hungry. We're not like some sickos who would starve an animal to feed our habit. We always keep money for food and litter, no matter how bad the sickness. But that money's gone, too. Molly went out with Cat yesterday and tried to panhandle food money for the three of us, but the cops ran her off. I hate cops. A resturaunt around the corner gave us some craps of meat, but we're all vegetarians, Cat, Molly, and me, so we just let the meat spoil in the refrigerator. I think we were sick then, and usually Molly and I don't want to do anything except get more dope, so things like housecleaning get pushed to the side.

I gave Molly the last of my Vicodens. Found a whole bottle of Vicodens in a dumpster behind a pharmacy. The tamper-resistant seal had broken, so the pharmacist threw them out, but they were less than a day old when I found them. I usually dumpster dive behind the pharmacy to find fresh needles. I had a needle break off into my skin. Molly had to cut open my vein to pull the bastard out, and I bled so much I thought I was going to die, but it finally closed and I still had an assortment of good veins to jack in to. I guess the only real tragedy was that I think I bled out all the dope, because I was sick the next day with withdrawal. Molly's better now, I think. She gave me a kiss and quit crying, but she doesn't look good. Her skin is stretched tight across her muscles, and they're all knotty, so she looks like a badly made doll. Still, the pills take the edge off, so maybe she'll think of something we can do to get more junk. Right now I can hardly think at all, much less think of a way to get fifty bucks from someone. People are funny, man. They'll toss out blesses and curses, real heavy shit, man, right and left, but they will not part with any of their cash. When Molly says "bless you" to someone, it's because she truly cares, I think. The same with me. I think Molly and Cat and my mother are the only people I say prayers for anymore. If God exists, I'm sure he's tired of people blessing this and that and thanking Him for this or that, or asking him for this or that and have it all be lame shit. I've never prayed for dope. I think Molly did, once, but she was real sick.

The sickness is here, man. The first wave catches you in the stomach. You get the shits real fucking bad, and then you feel queasy and empty. Then your muscles start to knot up real good, and you get cramps in your back and neck. Then the cold sweat comes, and it's like the true sign you're sick. You get real cold and the sweat makes you colder still, and you can't do anything to fix it. You just sort of rock back and forth and try to ride it out. After two or three days you can eat again and then you feel better and then you just get bored. Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored. Right now though, man, the sweat's coming. Molly's got a little ways to go, she's cramping up I think. She's crying again, but it's not frantic. That's how I know she's really hurting. Most of the time she cries it's like a pout. But then when her lip quivers and she sort of cries without making much of a sound, you know it's the real thing. I want to go over and hold her, but I'm so sick and am feeling a little mad at her for taking the last of my pills and saying mean shit to me. She still wants me to go sell my sperm, but I can't do it. I can't imagine 40,000 people just like me running around. Especially if I don't know them. I mean, what if I hit one, or yell at one, or scam one thinking that it's just some dumb kid but it's like my son or daughter or something. It would be real bad karma, man. Real bad karma. Besides, I don't think my dick could rise to the occasion if you know what I mean. The sex drive is gone when you're high, man, but it's in full fucking reverse when you're sick.

Two days have passed. I finally ate some pasta. Molly is still sick. I took a shower, but the water was like needles on my skin and I had to sit there in the shower, naked and dripping, until I felt well enough to get dressed. Still, I probably needed the shower. Cat is still hungry. I promised her we'd go get some food today, but I'm not sure if it'll happen. I don't mind lying to people, but I do mind lying to Cat. Molly called her a symbol of our relationship, which I think is bullshit, she's an animal and not some thing, but that's really neither here nor there except to say that, as an animal, she's hungry. I tried feeding her some pasta, but she didn't go for it. Molly stopped crying. Now she's just lying in bed and pretending her life was a hit that she could just shoot into her veins. She's cute, you know, when she's hyperbolic. Me, I'm starting to think more clearly. But the boredom's threatening. I, we, have to score.

I found three bucks. I didn't have to scam for it. I bought Cat some food and she seems to be okay now, though she had a stomach ache for a while. Now she's sitting in Molly's lap and purring. Molly is feeling better, I think, but she never fully dealt with the edge, so know it's coming to haunt her right before she gets better. I tried rubbing her back, but she scooped Cat up and rolled away from me. She said it still hurts to be touched. I almost got mad, I'm in the mood to get mad, all listless and hot, but I snuck in a kiss and made her some tea. The apartment is quiet, and it feels good.

I'm fully sober now. It's been seven months since I've been fully sober. This is not to say I've been perpetually high for seven months, but the denouement between fixes is just that, a between stage. You sober up for a little while to get the shit straight that's gotten out of whack during the time you're high, and then you get high again. The fall never hurts when you know you have that safety net to catch you and lift you back up. Molly is sober too, now. I think when I'm sober I become aware of the outside world a bit more. I looked at Molly today for about an hour while she was asleep. She's lost some weight, and I spent a good ten minutes tracing around her bellybutton with my finger. Her skin isn't sallow anymore, which is good, and the swelling in her face has reduced. She really is beautiful, and when she's asleep, she's perfect. When she's awake, though, and sober, I don't think we hit it off too well. Which is okay, I think. I mean, we didn't meet or decide to shack up while we were sober, it's a junkie relationship. Most junkie relationships work out when you have droughts as long as you've had a stash for over three months. It's a proven fact. You get used to a person by then, and can deal with them, no matter how unlike you they are, until the dope comes back and fills in the holes.

And even though I'm used to her, I sometimes feel like I shouldn't be with Molly. I mean, it must be possible with a population of 8.7 billion people that there's someone I could get along with, sober and high. There's a bunch of Cats out there, too. Maybe I ought use some of this energy to find somewhere else to crash, and give Cat to Molly and be done with it. Molly and I want to road trip, but she wants to go to Santa Fe, and I want to go to Portland. I think the junk makes us want to stay here, in Austin, and get high, and so we never think about what would happen if she went west and I went north. Maybe it's something to think about. Maybe I'll think about it.

I got a job today. Molly and I went to a party last night and got stoned, which wasn't as nice as being high, but it does the trick of knocking out reality for a few hours nicely. We came back to the apartment and started having sex, but stopped in the middle when Molly, half teasing and half serious, told me she was going to take the condoms to the sperm bank tomorrow and try to get a few bucks, as sort of a reserve item, for people with coupons or something who can't afford the real procedure. It was funny, and I laughed about it, alone, later, but at the time it was the button that needed pushing before war could begin. I apologized later for yelling, to Cat, and spent the night at the house where the party was. The next day some guy who was too sick to go to work gave me his keys and I started my first day as a pizza delivery person. I made enough in tips tonight to score six hits. Molly apologized, to me and Cat, and made the necessary phone calls. An hour later we had six beautiful hits of heroin.

Molly and I just finished having sex. We had decided to finish one more night clean and sober before getting high again. I delivered more pizzas, but took the last four orders home with me and Molly and Cat and I ate the Vegetable Supreme and gave the other three away to the neighbors in the building. Molly began to undress me, and, well, the libido was in fifth gear since last night's aborted attempt, and we had sex three times. It will probably be the last time we have real sex for at least a month, maybe two if our good luck holds out. I sat on the edge of the bed and tied Molly arm up. Her veins had receded a little bit, but after a few thumps they quickly fell into place and bulged out properly. I always shoot up Molly before myself. She's lying, naked, next to me and stares at me with those crystal blue eyes. Her face has a ruddy glow , something I don't often see. I run my hand over her breast and stomach before shooting her up. She moans and clenches her fist, more excited about the hit than the last hour. It's okay, though, because to a junkie, junk really is better than sex. I take a deep breath and tie off my arm. My veins come popping up and I careful slide the needle in and shoot. Thirty seconds later I can feel it hitting my brain, and my vision explodes into a thousand blurred images of an ecstatic Molly next to me, like a fucked up prism or kalaedescope. And I forgot all about the past few days and sink blissfully in to a numb, warm, happy silence.


"Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died."

--Erma Bombeck


[Prev | Footer]

[previous party]

by John Smith

The vicious cycle of holiday parties had not waned the least bit as Dr. Stephen Graves poured martinis for himself and Count Bak-bah -- one shaken (inside of Dr. Graves' pants at the request of the Count), one extremely dry (hard to accomplish in Dr. Grave's pants). The jetliner had been flying from Paris to Jakarta for nearly four hours and the onboard party was peaking in a frenzied hum of conversation and lewd activities. Bill Oliver had taken his shirt off and began rubbing table butter on his chest. Monsinieur Du Qoi's twin daughters, Isabelle and Denise, had been locked in a cage, naked since the aeroplane had departed and were now expressing their enjoyment of each other's company with a fist-sized bust of the Queen Mother that had been left in the cage from the last party. Dalhart Winnibew and Wesley Huffins were making merry in full view by the punchbowl. Barry Marquez had wedged the door of the rear john shut with the original copy of Picasso's "Pink Bannana," and was snorting cocaine with him and himself, while Kyle del Florio was seducing Gideon Crenshaw's wife in the cockpit as Mr. Crenshaw watched.

Dr. Graves left the wetbar with the two drinks in hand, the cyanide well-dissolved in the potent mixture of Count Bak-bah's martini. His assignment had him working on this New Year's Eve. Not a new idea to Graves, but this party season had been unusually trying. The love-making it brought had nearly worn a hole in the normally-thick lining of Dr. Graves' colon. It had started in New York on Thanksgiving and had lasted until now. Tonight, however would mark the end of a long two months and almost cost Dr. Stephen Graves his life in the process.

"Ah-ha, Stephen, you have brought me my drinky-winky, I see," said Count Bak-bah. "How nice. Shall we dance when we reach the bottom of our glasses?"

"A gay plan, indeed!" said Graves, admiring the scarlett cumberbund that spanned the fat stomache of his old friend, "but don't drink it too fast".

The satin-trimmed tuxedo coat of Count Bak-bah glowed softly in the cozy lighting of the aeroplane's main party room. Each man knew the other well. They had been bunkmates in the first war and had consummated their friendship on the battlefields of Jagerbund as storms of fiery bullets whizzed by in the German countryside, heightening the experience ever so much more. Guests continued to mingle all about. He hated to have to kill the Count, but kill him he must. Graves had his orders.

Count Bak-bah lay draped on the red, velvet couch, running his index finger up and down his inner thigh. Smoke from a hundred cigarettes filled the party and Bak-bah puffed his own long, African cigar. At a snap of his fingers, a dark youth, chained to Bak-bah's ankle leaped onto the lap of the nubian dignitary and unzipped his trousers. Count Bak-bah's deeply-bronzed tubesteak sprang forth, longing to be tamed. The boy began to fulfill his service, and a broad, brown-toothed smile prevailed on the face of the Count. Graves handed Bak-bah the drink he had prepared, but the night took a decidedly more complicated turn. Count Bak-bah refused the drink.

"Nay, my Stephen, I do not want a shaken martini anymore," he said. "I want one stirred and dry. Is your's stirred Stephen?"

"It is, Sir," said Dr. Graves, " but I really must say..."

"Say, Graves? What have you to say? Fellatiate me."

Graves gave the Count the untainted drink and began to join alongside the Count's personal attendant, his nimble tongue dancing up and down the bronze shaft in a lightning fast orchestration of licks, nips, curls, and swathering thumps. The Count moaned in ecstasy and began to lean back, his almond shaped eyes fluttering in the winds of ecstasy that only came during an encounter with the monsoon that was Dr. Stephen Graves. Graves, seeing the Count's entrance into obliviousness, quickly snatched the drink from the Count's hands, replacing it with the poisoned cocktail. At once the fat, tawny hued man sprang to his feet, upsetting the youth who was suckling one of the man's hairy testes. Graves tumbled backwards, his martini splashing all over his pink chiffon tuxedo.

"What is the meaning of this?!" Bak-bah roared. His penis was pointed straight at Graves's heart, hard as steel, glistening in the fluorescent light of the plane.

At once the party stopped, and each guest turned to stare at the soaked Graves and aroused Bak-bah.

"Why, nothing," Graves stammered "I was only trying to--"

"Silence!" Bak-bah screamed. "You blatantly began to lick when I specifically needed a lather. Have you lost your touch Stephen?"

Graves sighed relief and jumped to his feet. He tore the wet fabric from his chest and removed the nipple clamps Bak-bah had placed on him two weeks earlier. Graves pinned the Count's balls to his ass, and began doing a shiatsu massage version of "Ode to Blue" on the Count's region between ass and testes, all the while getting the Count's slave boy to play "accompaniment" in the form of sliding up and down the Count's engorged cock. The Count swooned, and after mere minutes the guest's were surprised by a great burst of tiny liquid pearls while the Count hooted in the deep voice that sent tingles of excitement up Graves's spine. Graves, lost in the moment, reached over to the table and grabbed a glass, throwing the contents down his throat.

Count Bak-bah, exhausted and pleased, turned to the good doctor.

"I say Graves," he said. "You look a wee bit pale. That martini not agree with you?"

Stephen Graves had indeed swallowed the poisoned martini intended for Count Bak- bah. Then, which drink had he given the count? And, who put the poisoned drink on the table? Nothing made sense anymore. Dr. Graves became frightened at his prospects. e would, almost certainly, die, but during the previous ten minutes activities, Prince Vel of Lebanon had already consumed half of the drink in question.

"I do feel a slight tinge of pain in my abdomen," said Dr. Graves.

"We could fix that with a slight tinge of pain to the buttocks," said the Count.

"I too feel the pain of my abdomen," said Prince Vel, "and I too drank from that glass."

Upon hearing this, Graves knew he was out of danger. If Prince Vel had drunk only one-quarter of the murderous fluid, the amount of phenalethalatum present would have been high enough to cause severe intestinal trauma, but not high enough to kill Dr. raves.

Stephen Graves did become ill and asked to be taken to a private room. Benny Mool, the host of this continental party escorted Dr. Graves to the cockpit. Kyle del Florio had finished seducing Gideon Crenshaw's wife and, once again, resumed his role as pilot. Mool laid Graves down on the upholstered bench that the Crenshaws and Kyle del Florio had been using moments before. Only one thought flowed through the mind of Stephen Graves at this moment, though. Kill Bak-bah. It had to be done. It had to...

Dr. Graves began to drift in and out of consciousness. While he did so, the party forged ahead well into the night. Frankie Berg and Ty Weatherspoon showed slides of their recent trip to each other's genitalia, and Herbie Hancock released his new CD, "Brooklyn Freakobot" by playing a song from the album. Danny Chun hated the song and hated the fact that he was at the party at all. He sat by himself on a sectional loveseat, drinking a bottle of gold tequila. Benny Mool approached Danny midway through the party, but Danny had been passed out for over an hour. That night, Benny Mool made love to a beautiful and unconscious Danny Chun.

Finally, Dr. Graves awoke in the cramped cockpit. His vision was a little blurred but, for the most part, he was himself again. The first thing he noticed was that he was alone. Kyle del Florio could not be found and the the plane was well over the I dian Ocean. The dark control room glowed softly with the light of its many monitors and instruments, and Dr. Graves lay still, planning his next move.

Unexpectedly, the doorhandle to the cockpit turned and the door opened. Graves could not immediately identify who it was. The bright, interior light of the aeroplane filled the room for a moment and the door shut promptly. Stephen Graves eyes began to refocus in the resumed darkness of the plane's nose. A stiff odor of cigar tobacco erupted and Graves knew his swarthy visitor by name. It was Count Bak-bah.

"Graves," Bak-bah said. "You disappoint me."

"Oh really," Graves muttered, his mind still a fog of booze, poison, dope, and semen. "Well, I guess it had to happen sometime. I hope you don't feel too bad -- being shunned for the bottle that is -- it happens to the best of us..."

"How do you say... cut the shit, Graves!" Bak-bah barked. "You tried to kill me. As feeble an attempt as it was, you tried to murder me, Count Bak-bah."

Graves tried to stand, only to find himself securely fastened to the pilot's seat by the same lavender silk chord that only days earlier had been the central prop in his game of "Rape the Shiek's Bottom."

"You make me sad, Graves. Working against me, your one true friend."

"My friend indeed, Bak-bah," Graves stammered. "I was never your friend. Sure There were the magnificent parties and cosmic sex, but you meant nothing to me. I found more comfort in the asshole of a sheep in Iowa than ever I found in our little encounters!"

Graves noticed Bak-bah shaking, his huge belly bobbing up and down and puffs of smoke escaping in choked sobs.

"Well," Bak-bah said, regaining his composure. "It matters not. You are, of course, going to die. It would seem the guests want to all fuck while freefalling. So, we've decided to all jump from the plane and let it crash somewhere in the ocean. The impact will be enough to do you in, Graves, but even if you could pull some fantastic rescue out of that golden ass of yours, the sharks will be along shortly. You can see if their asshole is as comfortable."

With that, Count Bak-bah left Dr. Stephen Graves to his fate, closing the cockpit door and announcing the freefall fuck was ready to begin.

Graves struggled against the chords that held him to the faux leather bucket seats, working up a rope burn on his midsection and wrists. Squirming down in a position found in the Kama Sutra under the "Rope Fucking" section, Graves was able to lodge his organ in a knot and bring the chord up to his nose. Inhaling deeply, Graves found the scent he was looking for. It was the vaginal fluids from the Countess Veronica Doopsy, whose pussy was legendary for its aromatic qualities. She had been the first to be the Shiek's bottom, and had left her trademark smell ingrained into the fibers of Graves's bonds. Jiggling his manhood and inhaling the magnificent scent, Graves worked up a stiffy, bursting the knots that bound him like so many old hemmerhoids.

"And now, my fat fuck count, it is your turn."

Count Bak-bah was strapping on his chute, planning to rape the servants first and try to get a good cum shot on the planes windshield as a going away present for Graves. He looked out into the dark air below, his flaccid penis gaining strength from the chilled wind as it whipped the dong against his tawny thews.

"I say, Bak-bah, I think I'm ready to have a go again. The nip in the air does wonders for the libido, you know."

Count Bak-bah turned to see Graves, erect, grinning, free, and high on the cunt juices of Doopsy.

"I don't know how you escaped, Graves," Bak-bah snarled, producing a snub-nosed .38 from in-between his butt cheeks, "but I'll be damned if I don't kill you and fuck your corpse now."

Bak-bah lunged at the good Doctor, cocking the hammer back and jamming the pistol into Graves's side, firing. Graves lurched back, his side exploding in pain in a manner similar to his first anal intercourse lesson from the mighty Wallace Dongiferous.

"Bastard," Graves said. Using all of his sexual prowess, Graves rammed Bak-bah with his penis, rhinoceros-style, into the cockpit and, throwing his hip to the right, turned his dick, fabled for it's ability to impale small mammals and large pieces of fruit, into a skewer that sliced open the belly of the Count and damaged the guidance system to the aircraft.

"Ta-ta, your obeseness," Graves said, slipping the dead Count's parachute onto his back and escaping to the black air below.

Dr. Stephen Graves paused for a moment from fucking Kyle Crenshaw and Gideon's wife to watch the plane explode into the water. "I say," Graves said. "This has been one hell of a week."


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