HARD BLOW FOR A DAY JOB
(in memory of Eric, aka Free-K, who was the green-wielding magi of this tale. RIP)
Presents Of Mind, Something About Nothing
I: HARD BLOW FOR A DAY JOB
II: PARAPHERNALIA SATURNALIA!
III. NO REST FOR THE WICCAN…
I nailed her three ways from Sunday, and one way against nature—and all while wearing Friday’s pants. But the drive is not the destination, so let’s back up to the starting line, as I regale you with revulsion and/or revelation, moving forward in sideways jargon, to relate a three-fold tragicomedy of error and erroneous agnosis for you all…
Down and out, out and about, and about to have it out—wandering off and often wondering—some things are best revealed in passing, and even better still if they merely passed us by. The Death Angel must smell the blood once caked upon these doors, as He’s drifted past so often these last months, stopping only long enough to smile and wave or piss behind the porch.
But the scythe did taste its share of blood last year, by the death of opportunities, a romance, cherished friendships, and my job. It all came crashing down at once, and freedom never seemed so bittersweet. A strained but passionate relationship imploded in the worst possible way. Meanwhile, I was to find that several long-time comrades frequently spoke ill of me in swollen, bubonic proportions. And then, to finally flip the lid down on the shitter, I wandered into work one day—the best job that I’d ever had—and was informed that the entire staff was canned. I was broke and broken, with a mangled heart and an empty wallet…but a cabinet full of booze that I’d been stockpiling for months. This is to say that a broken heart feels less so when one's liver is slightly more destroyed. Six restless blurry weeks collapsed, and the present writer's liver would want to crawl out through his navel.
Boo hoo. Moving right along…
The first of the three Magi came, and drug(ged) me from my home. It would be the gift of gold, though little would I know. He had a fresh lead on a job; I went with him to apply. We made appointments for an interview, and I went back to my binge.
I’d been on an energy drink-and-Everclear bender, and it was truly wondrous nausea. You’re up for days, alert and semi-functional, but drunk enough to ruin countless lives. For weeks now, I’d been doing merely that, with emphasis upon the ruination of my own.
At 6am, I'd passed out, having been awake far longer than my pickled, addled braincells could recount. Two hours passed, and then…my father flung the door ajar, kicked me in the leg, and said, “I’ve been waiting in the car 30 minutes; your interview is in 20. Get the fuck up NOW.”
I was in panic mode—if not beyond—with every crust of countenance on stun. I hadn’t slept or likely bathed in days. I was still drunk as a Kennedy, and parched. I wore a ratty pair of old black jeans, a stained Nail Bunny longsleeve, and a scowl. My hair was tangled like the mangled webs of life itself…enough to hold an artbox full of pencils, a stapler, and the cat. I smelled like a goat, and looked like Hell—or at very least, whatever Hell is like for goats. And worst yet, all who stood in line that day for interviews were clean-cut, shaven, primped with every hair in place, and wearing suits or some such fancy dress. I was destined to be screwed.
I grumbled through my interview with morning breath and hate. By conversation’s end, my sober mind returned enough to realize just how fucked I likely was. I braced myself for failure…
Then they hired me on the spot, at a buck more than I asked for, and two more than my friend. Rasputin had a day job now—and glory be, because my booze was almost gone.
She was a fresh face on a rotten afternoon.
I'd been hired as the lead cook in a busy greasy spoon with crusty forks to match. Some sleazy, drunken wench approached my counter for some wings. "Make them hot as possible, but good."
"Are you sure you want to tell me that? I collect hot sauce," I said.
She rolled her eyes and scoffed. "Look here, stud," she slurred, "I've worked in kitchens all my life. I grew up in the south. You're not going to impress me with that shit."
Determined now to foil her, I made fresh, evil wing sauce for her friend. He dipped a deep-fried pickle, and ran weeping for the john. She laughed with a most feminine malice, jotted down her phone number, and leaned in. "I think I'll stay and watch you work," she grinned.
Bustling on the line, I passed behind the fry cook with a plate. "Excuse me! Pardon me! Coming through!" She crinkled up her nose and scowled.
"You're cute, but I'd fire you. You should know better than this. You ALWAYS shout, 'Behind you!' Nothing else. It's universal kitchen code."
"Is that like the Universal Greeting from Transformers," I sneered.
"No, you dick. It's common, accepted protocol. If you're behind someone, you always--only--shout 'Behind you!'"
Her banter seemed irrelevant, but I somehow knew it'd mean something in time. I jotted the words "behind you" on a note.
"Listen to the lady," shouted our prep-guy. He then swept briskly past me, "Coming right behind you, with a knife!" Our prep-cook, Kelly, had been in jail; I shivered when I heard him shout out anything, much less that he was coming, or behind me, with a knife.
The girl would bark and bitch a bit at other things I did; finally, she winked and left--presumably for good.
Opportunity rarely knocks with such knockers opportune as hers; but alas it'd be tough titty in the end. Though we'd made a date, and texted back and forth, nothing quite so easy ever is. It seemed straight out of Dear Penthouse, but for every playboy out there, there's a hustler to be found.
Sometimes, it's better to suck it up than be sucked in. It was a hard blow for a day job; but I'd rather blow my chance than blow it off.
I had a date, seemingly, with destiny; but as always, I appeared to be stood up.
I was stalking only happiness, a brief respite from pain--but it seemed both of these things had a restraining order out; the light of hope had blocked my calls and stopped returning texts. The girl and I had plans to howl, but my ears heard only crickets, and the silence of the worlds beyond...or something melodramatic of the sort. Riddled with a sore arthritic knee, and a ribcage full of empty, I resigned myself to fate, and once again--as always--my resignation was refused.
Salvation, sometimes, finds you in the damndest places...
An old friend called newly out of the blue, seeking to sell me on the green.
My friend had long been urging that I reassess my methods, asserting that I’d dealt with pain all wrong. “Fuck these poisons,” he insisted, “what you need to do is smoke a little pot. And I don’t mean that bullshit frat boys smoke—I mean high grade, top-shelf herb.”
“I hate stoners,” I replied; “Tweakers and stoners are natural enemies.”
“It’s not about that,” he insisted; “just give this a chance—there are strains of marijuana almost as strong as LSD.”
I rolled my eyes; “I don’t believe that.”
“Dude,” he said, “I’ll prove it—let me smoke you up tonight.”
“Fine,” I sighed, and checked my phone for calls I knew would never come—“since I think I’ll have the evening to myself.”
And thus—braving winter winds and expired plates—the second Magi would arrive, not quite bearing frankincense…though the smell would likely be about the same. Indeed, it smelled like doom…utter imminent doom, and the failure of the last three generations.
He unraveled fragrant clusters--moist and multicolored--and began to pack a heaping bowl. He summarized his sermon from our call earlier that day: “How can you possibly think that downing a fifth of whiskey and a fistful of Vicodin everyday is somehow better for you than a little bit of pot in moderation?”
Ultimately he was right—but tonight was not a night for Right; tonight, it seemed, would be a night for Wrongs.
The place I have to go, sometimes, is a place you'd never want to be. I didn't want to be there then, and I wanted even less to see another share that space. It's like denying evolution whilst a lively chimp jerks off to the same porn.
I watched him disintegrate before my very eyes—not literally, as I wasn’t quite that high just yet. But that was ultimately the point: he started before me, and as I watched him, I realized that I would be exactly where he was in only moments. I could measure just how fucked I was about to be by how fucked he just had been. And from the looks of things, I was indeed mightily fucked.
We began to talk philosophy, or as best I had determined at the time. He began with a “God is dead” rant, then meandered on an atheistic tweak. Soon, the conversation turned and churned to Eastern mystic themes in anime, and some incoherent blather about the “true meaning” of Invader Zim. Half-baked, I brought us back full circle—suddenly inspired by the mighty Zim: “God’s not dead,” I smugly quipped, “He’s advaaaaaaaaaaaaannced.”
Invader blood marches through my veins, like giant radioactive rubberpants. The pants command me.
Do not ignore my veins.
"Lo—I’m high! High n’ dry, and drowning on dry land!"
"I didn’t jack off; I jettisoned cargo!"
"Stems and seeds from the dub sack of infinity."
Those were things I'd scribbled on a page. My dear leaf-dealing friend took but a glance at it, then a far more concerned glare at me, and shook his head. "I'm sorry, dude, but you're fucked up. I think I need to leave. Go get some sleep!"
Tweaker, stoner, psychonaut...it all boils down to this: sleep is not among my many skills.
I listened to Gene Loves Jezebel until the cat blew chunks; only then could it be time for change...a change in stance or in perspective...a changing out of cashed-out bats, and a changing of my Discman---it was time to play some death metal for balance, as I steadily lost mine.
I knew better than to leave the house, though for some reason, I prepared as if I might. It was a Monday Rapture evening, and I’d tried to dress the part, as best I ever bother…kitschy skeleton gloves, a leather coat, some voodoobilly skull beads, whichever boots make me seem least Danzig dwarven, the pants least in need of Febreze, and—slumped across my furry slouching back—the least stained and tattered black thing that I own (apart from my damned soul). But the haze within and glaze without broadcasted like some Wumpscut-loving DJ that I was clearly going nowhere…not tonight. I was all gothed out with nowhere to go, undeniably cracked out, stoned as Stephen, tripping balls and over random objects, going nowhere fast, while time slowed to a crawl.
And then, terror knocked afresh at my front door.
My date had chose to join me, afterall.
Finally, it arrived—all that I had feared and yet adored: Third Pillar, Final Rung, Excluded Middle, the gift of Myrrh from wise-asses, the promise of a womb worth prying open just for parts. My "date" was here--the Rapture I'd given up on had arrived, though I myself remained bright shades of long-past-gone.
Constricted by the snaps and fastens of my apparel (and by “apparel,” I mean the now seemingly mere formality of pants), which embodied captivity to my rapidly expanding, liberated psyche (and by “liberated,” I mean “bat-shit crazy”), I loosened a button here and there, and opened up the door for the guest I’d given up on (and by “guest,” I would mean “victim”), who’d decided at the last moment that she’d drop in after all. (And by “drop in,” I mean “witness my brisk descent into the icy depths of madness.”)
I knew this would be bad; I knew it could be brutal. Her ass might grace my couch, and her arm may grace my shoulder, but her face would be on milk cartons some day. I struggled to maintain composure—fighting to control my every movement—and invited the poor, doomed, lovely creature in.
I found myself falling back on “comfort zone” behaviors, realizing that by pursuing my more basic urges and familiar desires, I could somewhat pull myself out of the hole that I was in—i.e., my base urge to score with this broad would subconsciously push me to more quickly sober up. If I could keep the crazy-talk out of my head just long enough…I could essentially lust my way back to partial sanity. At least it made sense at the time. Funny, that.
So I said to myself, “I will win this woman’s heart; I will do so, because her heart is behind her left breast—and thus by sheer default, the path to her heart involves feeling some tits.”
I’m not sure what I’d do with any woman's heart; but I know what to do with tits.
We settled on a zombie film—the girl and I inched closer…closer still…and cuddled on the couch. I felt warm and aglow, yet terrified within, because the screen seemed to be melting and the room moved ‘round in frames. I can’t let this TV melt, I thought; if the TV melts, my roommate will be mad.
It was like my first time trying ‘shrooms some years before: They did precious nothing for anxious hours, then finally, they kicked in when I had least expected. I was sitting on the back deck, on break at work with semi-friends and kitchen staff, who were at turns oblivious, bewildered, and amused. Every drop of sweat was Waterworld, except they came in on time and under budget. I would sweat and sweat and sweat, struggling to maintain; and as I bled that sweat, I felt as if my head may well be melting. And all that I could think was this: “I can't let them see my head melt…because as soon as they see my head melt, they’ll all know that I’m high.” Behold: "dumbass mundi"--the domus mundi of druggie logic, the LCD of LSD, as such.
And I couldn’t let this fucking TV melt. She’ll fucking know.
She rest her head upon my shoulder, as the evil priest in Gates Of Hell made a girl puke up her innards one-by-one, organ at a time, whilst her boyfriend sat beside her, screaming, paralyzed with fear and bleeding from the eyes. Ah…romance.
Then, my ladyfriend gently nuzzled me, and spoke.
“Dude…I’ve been wanting to ask this for awhile now: What the fucking fuck is up with the cheesy-ass skeleton gloves?”
My tongue ever shoveling the dirt upon my deepening tomb, bloodshot eyes would lock upon her increasingly puzzled gaze, as I mumbled, stammered, then gawked about the room at the magick only my koinos cosmos knew, before dilation met frustration, noisehairs-to-eyelashes, once again, as I replied: "I like the concept of adorning my outsides with my insides. I'm transcending my flesh-cage."
I then noticed a hole exposing skin and nail at the very index tip. I held it up, and continued digging, word by word: “And this…this is fucking awesome—think about it: now my outsides are peaking through my insides, which I’m wearing on the outside. Wow…fuck...fucking wow.”
"You're high, aren't you?"
She wandered out to smoke, and I went to rummage aimlessly downstairs. She returned, and followed the sound of failure down the steps. I was playing with a shuriken, and dropping it on yearbook pics. She peeked over my shoulder and did a double-take. I'd been using a print-out of a pic from my ancient Bible College days as a bookmark. One of my roommates appeared to have used it as a target earlier.
She looked back and forth between the weirdo with the Skele-Gloves, and the well-groomed young idealist in the pic. "Is that...you?"
I paced around a bit and rambled a bizarre reply. "Have you ever seen the cartoon, Naruto? The American dub is awful, and mostly aimed at kids. But the Japanese is almost a different show, if you can find yourself a fansub on the web."
"You're losing me."
"OK, hear me out...There are all these villages filled with ninjas...like, the Hidden Leaf Village, or the Hidden Stone Village, or the Hidden Valley Ranch Village, and such. When a ninja gets cast out or goes AWOL, they put a scratch through the symbol on his headband, and label him as 'missing nin.'"
She cocked a brow, and nodded.
"I'm 'missing nin' from the Hidden Jesus Village," I said, and gave a shit-eating grin. It was the Shit-Eating Grin Of Enlightenment, but I'm pretty sure she didn't care.
"You went a long way for that one." She smiled, patting my head, and we both just let it go.
I stumbled into the bathroom, and must have been there for a while. My date peeked through the door, as I rummaged to and fro around the sink. “What in God's name are you looking for?”
I said, “The Bigger Thing, the Greater It, the Collosal That which I am a reflection of.”
“No you’re not," she huffed and puffed; "You’re stoned and staring at the goddamned mirror.”
I held a pocket mirror at an angle. “Look—now the reflection is a reflection, and it goes on ad infinitum. But we only think to look the one direction. It goes on further behind us, and we’re just another image in the chain. Our consciousness is just a reflection in itself, an echo of another distant voice.”
She shook her head, and turned to go. “Why can’t you just eat Cheetos and listen to Pink Floyd like normal stoned people?”
I ducked down, crept behind and then around her, then jumped up beside her, made some motion with my hand to remind her of the “missing nin” symbol, and—wild-eyed and aglow with madness—whispered, “Ninja!”
Or so I’m told... I probably did, and shall take it on faith. Odd that faith alone should at last be good enough for me. Perhaps, ultimately, Christendom merely needs more ninjas.
She seemed oddly amused by me, despite my Epic Fail. There was no way I was going to score; but there likewise wasn't any way that I would fail to try. No rest for the wiccan, don't you know...
At times, there was little but a frigid distance only crudely duct-taped over by the closeness of our limbs; and at other times, there was a sticky, sensual mammalian chemistry that overcame anything gone under…indeed, indeed…at lucid, lip-locked intervals there was smoke. Where there is smoke, there is fire… And where there is fire, there are primitive tools for roasting meat… And all that this could lead to was, “Bitch better cook a damn mean steak.” In retrospect, I can only recognize my skill at turning natural progressions into unnatural acts; perhaps I should have been a preacher afterall.
As opposed to the repulsion any sane man would expect, she seemed more disappointed that there wasn't dirty sex. “I don’t feel so good,” she groaned, and stretched out on the bed.
“You feel pretty awesome to me,” I grinned, and with stoned and wanton ballsiness, offered a massage only to fumble with her bra.
“Talk is cheap, bucko.”
I took the cue, as one might take a cue to rack 'em up and shoot. Each messy kiss a sloppy first as sloppy seconds became hazily-remembered moments, distinguished only by a tasteless coup-de-grace: I'd grabbed her by the hips, and mounted with a single lucky thrust. And it was there, balls-deep in hate-sex, that illumination came (although too soon). I smacked her ass, and yelled, "Behind you!"
Then I rolled over, and slept through the next day. In retrospect, I went a long way for that one, too.
And the moral of the story may only be that I ultimately have fewer morals than I do stories some nights; that sometimes illumination can be found in the desperate slippery inches between shouting when you’re behind someone, and the shout they’ll make thereafter; and that one should no more underestimate life—neither its capacity for pleasure, or for pain, or that weird grey space teeming with zombies, melting televisions, and ridiculous glow-in-the-dark stretchy-gloves—than one should underestimate an unknown drug.
Don’t let life see your head melt. It will know you’re high.