Every day I sit here and nothing comes to mind worth the time I’d waste in describing it. Gets rather frustrating, to be sure. Fortunately I like the staff and they pity me. A near perfect arrangement, other than I usually have to pay my tab. They even have wireless. So other than ink and the cell phone bill, I basically spend all my income frequenting the place. In theory, it’s an investment. In reality, it’s a good drunk. I even got rid of the cell phone. One less thing. If anyone wants me, they know where I’ll be.
So there I was, no shit. I love when there is truth to vernacular. I pushed myself off the ground and spit a little blood. Damn, that shit tastes good when you know you earned it.
Thank god for a fair fight. I was so exposed I was already dead, save my life had been spared by the thin veneer of honor. Of course I’d been up once myself and could have walked away. That was gone; two down as I shoved myself to my feet and got square. I probably couldn’t take but one more. I know my limits.
They told me to stay down. I only choose to press on when I feel certain I’m right, when I believe the blind lady of justice can’t help but deign to my position. I couldn’t see straight. Things kept fading in and out. The left knee was quivering a tiny bit, beginning to fold. The left fist scoffed and ordered the troops to kill the first traitor to admit defeat.
There was nothing left of strategy or gamesmanship. Tired as any, the finish wanted its arrival just as much as I. Give off with your deception and declare a clear victor. Suspend the tension of whether or not there’s a question. There is no question. Only control of a moment.
I strike first, betraying my disguise. I feign defense. By design I counter only, only to set precedence. I am just like you. I want to be first. I don’t want to be limited to the course of reaction. I too want to choose the instant when.
I miss but force a back step, an episodic loss of balance. I have planned for this need for redundancy. I have planned for many such events.
When things go wrong, they go wrong fast. You think you have it all figured out, have deciphered all the riddles, have finally conquered all. One moment you are the god of your own experience and your will is law. The next moment you’re on the ground wondering what exact instant it went wrong. It’s the same moment, you realize much later after deep reflection. It’s the same fucking moment.
I don’t really remember much other than coming to. After that I remember being conscious, but the images are so vague, the memories so fast and faded, I can’t express them. After a while, I could think again, could see and hear the world the way I had before, filed my thoughts the same way. But I always knew there was this time before, this time when I was someone else. Someone who had not yet chose.
Life went back to normal or so it seemed. Nothing in life ever seems normal. I lived better, which is always good. When all else fails, failure doesn’t. In all but the weakest it can only strengthen, save in final conflict with death.
Why I was fighting, one can only guess and only one can know. I think it is inherent, like the Buddha said. I can’t help but fight. It is how I know I’m here.
Everyone knew I was a fool, just like I knew they were. It hurt sometimes, when there wasn’t enough tension or sex or sexual tension to make the punishment worth the crime. Physical only goes so far. After a while, only pain feels real. Blood always tastes good when you earn it.
I like taking a lick. It’s a trait I take great pride in. I take one hell of a punch. It’s surprises people sometimes. I mean, shit, it surprises me.
What I hate is stepping right into it. It seems fitting when the body fails; it’s the mind I have a quarrel with. Where were you on that one, genius? Off patting yourself on the back somewhere? It’s as if you planned it or something.
Wait a minute.
I had the dream again the very next day. It was the same dream, except this time she was in it, which I can tell you really sucked. I didn’t think I would ever have the dream about her. I think it was my guilty conscience, or I should say I hoped it was, because I really didn’t want it to turn out to be true with her like it had with the rest of them.
Actually, I don’t even know anymore, what’s true and what’s not. I don’t even know if I care. Mostly, I just sit around getting high. The problem there is, having commenced from a point so low, said elevation typically only brings me back to par.
I don’t even know what I would do if I did get what I wanted. As if I could ever figure out what it is I want. Basically, I’ve come to realize I’m full of shit. Not that it matters, because everyone is, but I always told myself I was a cut above the rest. Unfortunately, it was true. I am clearly capable of achieving absolutely exceptional examples of self-deception.
In theory, I aspire to find a girl who adores me and would never let a shred of doubt enter my mind. She would be hot enough to keep me interested but not so hot that everybody was, and she would have sex with me every night so I could sleep without the dreams. I’m getting awful sick of the dreams.
Maybe if I could sleep without the dreams I’d have the time or the energy or the inclination to concentrate on the important stuff. But probably not. I’m sure I’d just continue wasting what little time I have like I’ve always done. I try to rationalize it, blame it on appearances, but the truth of the matter is I’m a self-righteous hypocrite. Maybe we all are, but I don’t see that being much of a defense, as we face alone our reckoning.
Sometimes I wish I had paid more attention to the classics. I read and reread all of the important ones, the Greek myths, Le Morte d’Arthur, Shakespeare. I read them, yet somehow I missed the message. No one is safe. Even a sword pulled from stone is insufficient protection. We are all betrayed from the start. It is fundamental to our condition.
Of course it was true. The human mind, to leave off the heart and soul but for their obvious inclusion, is incapable of invention. We are the greatest of plagiarists, confident in awarding ourselves a most undeserved pat on the back for our presumed originality. As soon as I awoke from the dream, I knew it as certainly as I knew anything. It was true, or would prove to be so, given time. I hated the world and everything in it, including myself. I skipped work and went straight to the cafe. Even if they really needed me, which they clearly didn’t, my fellow employees, to say nothing of the customers, would find my absence infinitely more palatable than my attitude.
It all started from nothing, really. She had just thrown me out of the flat, and I was drifting down the sidewalk in a most exceptional daze. It was a strange sensation, not disappointment or sadness of any sort, just this blissful sense of surprised relief. I could hear the sounds of the city around me, the cars on the street, the buzzing hordes that swarmed along the cause, the general din, but it all blended together like spirits in a shaken martini, numbing the senses. I didn’t even notice the bustling café until I had bumped into the waitress and poured coffee down her placket.
“Oh, jesus, I’m so sorry.”
What separated it from a million other errors in judgment on my part, a thousand other mistakes, the hundred other times I tripped over myself and crashed headlong into the arms of impending disaster, was that rather than running away, I haltingly stood my ground. The waitress mopped at her blouse with a clean towel. I noticed that her eyes were the most curious shade of grey.
“Is this a café?” I asked. It sounded like a foolish question.
She forced a contrived smile. It was a foolish question, clearly giving away my delusional state. “Yes,” she said. She drew the word out in a gracious effort not to call my bluff. “You may sit any place you like.”
Apparently I wasn’t convinced. “Do you serve coffee?”
“Why yes.” Her initial dismissal of my insanity an obvious error, she held fast. I stuttered incoherently. It was a worthy maneuver under any circumstances.
“And wine? Do you serve wine?” I was a daunting foe.
“Of course, sir. Are you alright?”
“Why haven’t I been here before?”
“Perhaps you weren’t ready.” I stared at her. She was pleasant to look at, but I can recall but a single feature, the grey eyes. I can’t even be sure now she was real. She moved off to another table with perfect efficiency. The lady and gentleman seated there smiled warmly at her as if they were well met. Indeed they were.
The next thing, I found myself seated beside a steaming mug of shade-grown bean scribbling the final lines to the first haiku I’d seen since I met her. I don’t even like haiku. Still it came so fast, so easily; it couldn’t help but be written. I signed my name to it and threw it in the trash.
Art is in the process, not the product. Chris Stevens taught me that.
No one wants to grow up. And I don’t blame them. Childhood is the most precious time in life. When the world is so fresh and new and experience so raw and innocent that reality is more like fantasy and reality is some distant fantasy you will conquer when you get there.
There isn’t a Santa Claus or an Easter Bunny. It may seem inconsequential at first glance, this lie perpetrated upon us by our most intimate relations. But it is a life lesson. Go on, believe it.
Nothing is what it seems, and there is nothing to believe in. No one can be trusted. What we think of as truth isn’t. It is a function of the Uncertainty Principle that we cannot know anything. Shit happens, but it’s still just shit until someone gives it meaning.
What your parents were trying to teach you wasn’t that some fat foreigner in a red suit is gonna slide down the chimney with a tote full of presents or that a man sized rabbit actually exists. What they were trying to do was condition you to the fact that nothing is real, and whatever ground beliefs are founded on is shaky at best. Feel free to believe; in fact, it’s encouraged. But don’t ever indulge in the illusion that it can’t all disappear in an instant. Yeah the world was flat. Until it was suddenly round.
As for me, believing is hard, but Christmas is easy. I knew my grandparents were the real Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. They would arrive at our house for supper each Christmas Eve with gifts I would eagerly open in hopes it might be something other than new trousers and a sweater to wear to Mass that night. Come on, I prayed. Be a Game Boy. Just this once.
What truly made Christmas special in my mind was the traditional Midnight Mass, a strangely transcendent experience for a recently awakened half asleep eight year old still occupied with dashed dreams of interactive video entertainment. Even now Latin is spoken at our church, and most of the proceedings were lost on me, even after I had learned to understand the language. There always comes the moment, however, when the dogmatic ritual has built itself to the point of maximum tension, and suddenly I am face to face with the most beautiful set of piercing blue eyes, shining in the dim light of the basilica. I did not see her there before. She leans her blond head to me in a reverential nod and extends her open hand. It is exceedingly warm and comforting. Her lips part and she speaks. It’s something a little bigger than a fat man in a bad outfit.
Peace be with you.