I sit underneath a plasma screen in the center of a coffee shop. My concentration on Saul Bellow’s More Die of Heartbreak is broken by the effusive television announcement from a voice of indistinct regional origin that a girl was, “Starved, beaten, raped, and impregnated…”
This poetic description is echoed every 6 minutes or so, presumably to ensure new viewers know exactly what’s going on. The other patrons of the coffee shop stare slack jawed at the screen. I can hear their inner voices condemn the man responsible. ”How terrible. What a monster. Those poor girls.” After a few minutes, I remember I’m not telepathic, that the inner voices are my own, and that I should silent them.
“Starved, beaten, raped, and impregnated…”
The House of Horror’s, the news networks are calling it. Like a viral campaign for a slasher film to be released next week. In vivid detail, I imagine three girls shrieking in an ugly bathroom with 70s floral wallpaper giving birth to a damned child. A maniac bus driver snarling over them like the cannibal cyclops over Odysseus’ men. I glance out the window hoping to see something pure but the sky is still gray.
“Starved, beaten, raped, and impregnated…”
I’m a product of my generation, wooed and seduced by sensory overload. Explosions, loud noises, bright colors, sex. Violent, gratuitous sex. I try to return to my reading. My concentration is again broken by the voice of an older man who I personally know to be a borderline sex offender, if not a full blown pedophile. I hear him talking to a girl atleast 50 years his junior and my stomach turns. I briefly indulge the fantasy of shooting him in the back of the head. The bullet shatters the window in front of him before the blood can reach it creating a midair waltz of dark fluid and glass. I feel somewhat better. Then, my mind splits open like a rotten egg. The walls become bleeding crustaceans and my heartbeat accelerates.
“Starved, beaten, raped, and impregnated…”
How many rape dungeons are there in this town, this state, this country, the world?How many people have enough ego or amorality to settle on “rape dungeon” as a hobby. I’m not so filled with moral rectitude that I can’t imagine why a person would, but I drive more fervently to the question of why it takes a decade for some “hero” to notice it? How many psychopaths do we say hello to every morning? How many do we share drinks with in the evening? How many do we lay next to in the night?
“Starved, beaten, raped, and impregnated…”
Well, it’s a choice now and always has been. I started my day at 7:45, attending a half hour meditation session hosted by a friend who embodies the fervent devotion to the ideal of peace. Several hours later, I groggily wake from an afternoon siesta whilst doing laundry and turn on the television.
I’m still transitioning into consciousness and my brain is clunking along to get to 100% and determine whether or not World War 3 has started. I see a concussive blast, screaming citizens, and blood soaked pavement that should be a scene from some foreign land. But it’s not. It’s a town I went to school in, a place people I love live, and body parts are flying across its streets on a Monday afternoon.
My initial response is sharp and hits me in the chest. My practiced apathy suddenly whimpers like a child denied its first desire and my tear glands constrict to produce a salty discharge. I wonder if I’ve just lost people I know in a savage gruesome manner. My involuntary imagination produces images of such cinematic clarity I begin sobbing.
This angers me.
I’m angry that the serenity I’ve recently been exposed to has been violated. That the sanctity of the joy I’ve met with friends old and new has become a potential target. I want to kill those responsible for causing this imbalance of harmony—with extreme prejudice. I grit my teeth and imagine myself parachuting out of an AC-130 transport plane with a SEAL team to exact bombastic vengeance on a middle eastern terrorist camp.
After a few minutes of pacing around, I slow my breathing and return to the half hour meditation session I attended earlier that morning. I let the totality of the event wash over me. I let go and try to pull outwards. Air cools my hot lungs and the lust for vengeance yields to a somber recognition of a Nietzschean thought—That there is something Beyond Good and Evil. That the unity of human brotherhood is under assault not from nations and institutions of perverted dogma, but from apathy. This is our failing. We’ve accepted—and encouraged—the ethos of “whaever” and neglect. Adults act like children, children act like animals, and the elderly watch with forlorn eyes as they drift into eternity—their lore forgotten.
Either it matters or it doesn’t. But choose today, you might not get a tomorrow.
I’m watching The Dark Knight Returns: Part 2, in the darkness, drinking “Menage a Trois”, a Zinfandel blend, and wonder how crazy I am.
I consider the standard that we’re all supposed to be sociable creatures. That we should be able to indulge one another’s inane anecdotes about the daily assaults on our ego and vanity. I consider that we’re suppose to love normal people with decent values—and that our families should approve of these people. I consider that though I live in a city of a million lights the only illumination I can see from my window is a ghostly white street lamp. It lightens up a lonely corner of a rooftop and it looks like the place where a Unicorn has died. I hear muffled nasally disembodied voices from the apartment next door and wonder what it would be like if it were just them and I left in the world. Would I go next door and be their friend, or would I kill them because I could?
I think about dark perverted romances and grin as others scoff. I dream about being violently drunk in a hipster restaurant screaming in patrons faces how boring they all are. I imagine a companion who is equally resentful and ambivalent to their reprobation. We storm off into the street with a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue. I curl it into oncoming traffic and orgasm when it shatters on a Prius’s windshield. We kiss and scamper into an alley. I take her hand, spin her around, and press her against the wet brick alleyway wall. She’s wearing a smart skirt suit and I hike it up around her hips and slide my fingers into her. Our tongues flick around one another like poisonous serpents. The wheezy cough of blades cutting through thick smoggy air heralds an LAPD helicopter overhead approach. Venomous ultra violent (or is it ultra violet) light pours down on us. We explode into flames and while our flesh melts off our bones she holds me a bit closer and maniacally laughs.
I cringe when I think about the daytime. How concentrated humanity is. How little time we have for ourselves. I think about the patrons of a bar who are so eager to talk to me. So very interested in the IBU of the India Pale Ale and whether or not the clearly very antiquated and defunct spiral slide is still used—and whether or not they can have a ride.
I imagine them at home sitting on the edge of their bed, hours later, while their spouse sleeps, staring at the floor. I wonder if their interrogation of me was the highlight of their day. I sigh when I wonder why I can’t happily indulge them. My brain vibrates with the force of a thousand Roman chariot races in the coliseum. I resume my gaze on the ghostly white street lamp from my window that resembles the place where a Unicorn has died.
I appreciate the silence, the dark, and the warm reverberation of cheap wine in my veins. I appreciate being undisturbed.
I wonder if this is alright—because it feels so.
As I sit in the trendy coffee shop reading Dylan’s biography, I pause to glance around and study the vacant pensive glare of each patron. They sit somberly slumped before their productivity boxes.
I return my gaze to the biography and, “I don’t have time for romance” are the words from Mr. Zimmerman’s musings that provide me a sly self-serving epiphany.
“I don’t have time for romance” keeps echoing in my head as I fight off memories of former loves and shirk the impending gloom of ones on the horizon. I recognize, as the caffeine of a $5 dollar Americano constricts my veins, that ideals, concepts, and philosophical identities trump having a sushi dinner with any apparition of beauty.
Now, certainly, I am a horny person. Probably one of the most in my particular social circle, but its by virtue of this that I’ve burnt myself out by 26. Every tall athletic girl with curiously well defined shoulders, biceps, or calves piques my curiosity. These days though, before I can even ask for a number, pragmatism gets ahold of me. I draw a revelatory breath. I see the entirety of the relationship flash before me in a matter of seconds. I see us in a trendy dive bar hurling exploratory questions about upbringing, education, passions, and fears at one another. I see the evolution into comfortable chit chat and good hearted jabs at each other’s insecurities. I see the collapse of the tryst under over saturation, familiarity, complacency and outright boredom. I’ve seen all this in 17 seconds, but I’m still watching her strut down the street stepping over the homeless with dutiful disdain for anything but herself.
I see a generation lost, yet hopeful. I see a generation misguided, but capable. I see it all because I’ve volunteered to audit existence, rather than participate.
A homeless man enters the cafe and dances. The Mad Man comes within inches of a patron who is physically his superior, yet does nothing to ward the bum away. This rambling crazy man has absolute power. He is barefoot and shuffles through the coffee shop with as much glee as a liberated Parisian in 1942. No one responds. Only the dull howl of Mumford and Sons fills the room. I sigh because this scenario could easily be the next must see music video sensation that would dominate conversation at the next wine and cheese party in the hills of Los Feliz.
He throws his hands in the air as if to summon The Ultimate Warrior. He isn’t audible but his body language screams violently. No one responds. The patrons shoot cross glances at him from behind their laptops and pray that he disappears like ash in high wind. The Homeless Mad Man does a barefoot moonwalk out of the cafe, but not before grabbing the tiny brass bell attached to the door and yelling at it.
He seems comfortable and bemused. I don’t think he had time for romance. Or ever will.
The Directed Positive Energy Light Path to the Aztec Disco Antechamber Protected by Bill Hicks, Led Zeppelin, and King Arthur.
The actress from the commercial shoot is resting on my chest as I describe a cosmic vision while tripping on mushrooms for the first time. My eyes are closed but that is completely irrelevant to my ability to see. Music is playing and I don’t question its source. There is no itunes, only Led Zeppelin—the actual band—at the foot of the bed playing ramble on, narrating the voyage.
Back to the starship.
* * *
The Actress’s apartment is a cozy low-lit studio with various paintings of hers on the wall. Some are portraits of her, but one looks like a former lover glaring at me. I shrug and continue munching on the peanut butter and shroom sandwich the Actress has prepared for us.
“These aren’t really working,” I boast. “I just feel drunk.”
7 minutes later I’m face first in her bed crying about how glorious the Directed Positive Energy Path leading to the Aztec Disco Antechamber protected by Bill Hicks, Led Zeppelin, and King Arthur is.
I attempt to relate my newfound Truth to her, delivered while Ramble On roars in the background, but I keep forgetting the key point. I glance up at the Directed Positive Energy Path leading to the Aztec Disco Antechamber protected by Bill Hicks, Led Zeppelin, and King Arthur who are all slapping their foreheads like, “Dude, we JUST told you what the key was.”
It’s at the tip of my tongue and a surge of colors swirling into a defined image settles in my minds eye. Hicks is in the corner somberly mumbling, “She’s not ready.” I kind of agree, but go ahead trying to explain it. I keep cracking up and this makes The Actress more curious to learn the truth I’ve come across.
She crawls over me and clicks through Youtube videos, finally landing on a dub-step remix of The Super Mario Brothers theme. The distorted modulations of a very familiar song that my recently deceased grandmother would always play begins to unravel me.
“God, no.” I plea.
My vivid imagination, now amplified by hallucinogenic mushrooms, hasn’t turned on me—-yet. I can feel the guilt and sorrow of not being there for my grandmother’s death starting to spin like a flaming pin wheel in my heart. It’s getting ready to fly off the stick and tear through my cerebral cortex and my only hope is to get this girl to fucking turn off this shitty teens remix of my beloved 8-bit masterpiece.
“Please turn it off!”
She obliges and I relax. All My Love begins to play.
I still haven’t opened my 3rd dimension eyes yet. There’s enough to deal with without introducing reality into the equation. The Actress and I are laying next to each other staring up at the ceiling and I could care less about how cliche the moment is.
I say aloud to her, pretending to be a friend of mine, “Hey Duval, what’d you do last night?”
Then I respond as my pompous self, “Well, I asked this Actress from my Budweiser Superbowl Commercial out for drinks and then we did shrooms and listened to Led Zeppelin at her apartment and traveled across the universe.”
She’s chugging a gallon of Alkaline water and spits it out in laughter which makes me feel Holy. Laughter makes me feel Holy. Then the shrooms start telling me things.
I begin spewing the Knowledge that, “Performance on stage under the light is what shrooms are. They’re that moment of pure joy doing your bliss slowed down to a discernible moment that you can walk around in and touch. Being on stage is the natural achievement of that feeling, for me, and maybe for you, it’s painting….”
I trail off into a bad Captain Kirk impression and start screaming at the top of my lungs for everyone to COOL IT in Mick Jagger’s voice before I dive back into another sermon.
“There’s a force that draws us forward towards positive and constructive ends and we just have to let it do its thing, and we’re all really good at something and that something is achievable by doing shrooms, but obviously we can’t do shrooms all the time so its a reminder for us to find that thing we’re good at so we can feel awesome. That’s what this path is. They’re riding on horseback next to us!”
“Who?” she asks while drinking fortified chocolate wine.
“Bill Hicks, Led Zeppelin, and King Arthur!” I scream, intermittently emulating the sound of a stallion in full gallop.
We vomit laughter and hold each other as if it’s completely and totally normal to traverse the Galaxy embracing someone in a bed.
“We’re all children being watched by our parents,” I start,”and adulthood is that search for the comfort of our parents gaze. Because, when we’re kids, we know our parents are going to catch us when we screw up. But as adults, that doesn’t happen. So we grow bitter, angry, jaded and resort to wealth, acquisition, and cruelty to supplement the lack of parental love.. But there is a celestial parent. The Elders are there, and it’s fine…”
As I ramble on, it makes me think the Plane of Enlightenment was overfilled with self-righteous assholes like myself who were too eager to understand existence. As if Mecca had a Dave and Buster’s built around it and I was some midwestern tourist snapping photos next to a wax manifestation of infinite knowledge. That the revelations were corny and I felt like enlightenment, the plane of enlightenment, was just filled with trust fund babies. Like it’s that really cool bar or restaurant that got ruined because it got a good review in Time Out NY or whatever.
So, we all said fuck it and galloped away. Later on I jump off a stage in slow motion and transform into pure light and fly over the crowd, but stay motionless hovering over them, as a streak of neon orange. This makes for an awkward time for all beings involved.
I close my eyes and everything is in the font of the Sugar Hill Gang’s Rappers Delight Album. Then, I see eviscerated crustaceans, oozing out of the walls—it’s fine. They can’t hurt me and I know it. I just let the shrooms take me elsewhere and I don’t fight it, which of course, is the point. To not fight life, not struggle, just be pulled forward by the Directed Positive Energy Path to the Aztec Disco Antechamber protected by Bill Hicks, Led Zeppelin, and King Arthur who are playing on a stage right next to our bed…rambling on and on and on. Then some self-involved vanity project singer/songwriter comes on fucking WHIINNNINGGG about his girl like DUDE just get the fuck over her man. Don’t bum me out, get outta there.
I fall asleep for a few hours and dream that Paul Simon’s You Can Call Me Al was a Nirvana song performed in 1993. The music video features Paul Simon, but he sings like Kurt Cobain and is wearing an oversized turquoise polo shirt. The video alternates between grainy black and white and vibrant pastels that evoke Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
7 hours have elapsed, and I’ve been in a bed with an Actress from the commercial. We traveled the universe, I learned how to wield light, and then we get coffee and go for a walk.