Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What is the worth of a word?
Trust

Whale… that was unexpected.

Trust: The steadfast belief in the words and/or actions of another to meet some unspoken expectation.

Trust is perhaps the most hotly touted but least earned characteristic of our time. Absolutely essential to modern living, Trust is required, to one degree or another, in nearly every interaction we have: from shopping for groceries, and trusting that the store you frequent isn’t completely ripping you off for Mallomars; To crossing the road (particularly here in NYC), and trusting that the drivers around you will follow traffic law… and not hastily paint a greasy tire track onto your backside while rushing off toward the next red light. Undoubtedly, Trust is the quintessential foundation for ANY relationship, or should be, particularly in those which hope to be healthy and long-lasting, and for good reason — without some sort of basic Trust, how could any relationship ever strive to exist beyond the superficial?

But — and I Trust that you know I had a big ole’ “BUT” planned somewhere in here soon, (and I know, that you know, that I knew that — believe-you-me…) — Trust, good, noble and wholly necessary to cultivating and maintaining relationships as it may be, is a double edged sword, ain’t it? As it’s also the very same condition which flips to become a hotbed breeding ground for treachery and deception. After all, the most effective way to dupe someone is by beginning as an individual whom they implicitly Trust. Someone dark and shrouded against their careful eye of scrutiny? Only an individual given sanctuary from your doubt will find themselves in the unique position to leverage you — you and your peevish Trust, reader — to take advantage, while your back is turned, of you and your good nature.

SUCKER!

Behind-My-Back

It’s a common misconception, actually, that bunnies are of a good nature. If you don’t believe me, go watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

So… getting back on topic.

Here’s the truth about Trust: If you deserve it, you shouldn’t need it. It’s more mere cursory respect. Worth exists individualistically, it’s intrinsic — either you’ve got it, or you ain’t — and thus is wholly independent of others’ regard of you. So when questioned by a friend or associate, IF you’re an honest individual, you shouldn’t distress — you should just be anxious to re-prove your worth. Between those of a valid bond, doubt is always laughable. Encouraged, even. As you’re both clearly confident that you’ve nothing to fear… just something to clear up.

Even in the healthiest relationships, for every five positive interactions, one is still negative. Couples, whatever constituents may make them up, just doesn’t see eye to eye from time to time… and that’s healthy. People are different. That’s what makes them interesting. Negative interaction is NORMAL; natural. Think about it, if two individuals were to agree on EVERY-single-THING, every stones ripple cast across their philosophical matrix, than there would be no basis for a relationship — they’d be the same person… with nothing to gain from an interaction at all. BORING! Without differences, we simply wouldn’t be interested…

Thusly, Paula Abdul was right after all — Opposites really do attract.

Only so long as long as this doesn’t happen too often, this doubt — so long as it is truly reserved for situations of true extremity — these little tests can serve to solidify and reinforce an already sound house of union. However, and as mentioned before, this healthy and natural turbulent period, necessary to the pretext of any relationship and it’s growth over time, is, too, very much sensitive… to exploitation.

Bearing all this in mind, today I’d like to present you with a short story that further examines the virtues of Trust, both from the writer to the reader, and from character to character, within. For this story, there is no right answer. Faith, and whichever direction you choose (or don’t choose) to place it, will determine your alignment in the end… and you won’t be wrong.

Thus, I humbly present to you — good, Trustworthy readers — with…

“The Duel”

The nebulous grey dust will never fully settle on the face of the Moon. It whorls, and kicks, and cuts unseen, vitriolic, against anything left exposed. It’s incessant and furtive, forever under the influence of the restless solar wind, and will, over time, dismantle man or machine alike without prejudice. The Dome was built inspired by this very volatility, fortified against this same eternal plague, and the unbridled solar wind herself, unable to be tamed, was the chief reasoning for our own engineering. We live for radiant energy; our metabolism necessitates it’s consumption. Thus is it our charge to siphon excesses from the craters and their pools for mere survival, and to flock about, endlessly searching for and then drinking from, cuts in their vast cable infrastructure. The same tethering which enables them to stay, and to thrive, on our world.

Something unusual was happening within the Dome. We could all feel it; after all, we were bred to. A flurry of humans, minds buzzing alight with fresh electrical impulses, fanciful notions of fear and doubt, all gathered around the southern lock-gates of their building 42 and made us slaver. Yet today there was no ship we could sense about to be seen off. No piles of refuse were planned to be jettisoned off into our wastelands.  Merely were there two men, each oozing with an abundance of mental radiance, standing in the antechamber, both donned in full Terra-Gear and each wielding an ancient pistol, slung by leather, and hanging low at the hip. It would seem that the most ancient of rituals, one which we hadn’t seen the execution of in many an orbit, was about to be underway…

A Duel.

Audible to our ears alone, the familiar, “Vhur-Woosh”, of the retreating exterior docking doors rang out, (our tympanal membranes had been contrived, perverted really, to be attune in these environs), as the hapless borrowed air from the cloistered commune was hastily released, vacuumed away, and lost forever to the vastness of space. Before long two lone figures, each mind alight with fervent, frantic activity, steadily paced their way out onto our bleak desert plain — one destined to live, and one certain to die. Both men were riddled with their own doubts, and each fed a few dozen of our kind, as we fluttered about their skulls, suckling on errant joules of lost energy expelled by their over-brimming brains, and processed what we stole, inadvertently, to read their every thought.

Eventually, at a spot wordlessly acknowledged by both men, each placed their backpack respirator against the other, and both heaved a lungful, having finally reached their place of destiny where no stray bullet could harm the distant Dome. Then, as their mental activity bounded toward a glorious crescendo, nursing ever more of our kind, the duo began to run through their paces.

These were the thoughts which crossed through their minds as they took their final, fated steps…

First Measured Pace:

“I am Podunck Jenkins. I have lived in this town my entire life. The scoundrel, how could he? I wear the holy helix upon my chest, am clearly a god fearing man of this state, and am a unyielding staple of my town and to my countrymen, who’ve all known this face for life. Clearly I’m in the right. And yet, who is he? An unknown. Some outsider, who dared to challenge my nuptials. A stranger! A nobody! And yet here he is, on the most important day of my life, no less? At the very moment of a Jenkins vow renewal! This cannot stand, this queer perturbation. It is unfounded. It is unjust. It is unfair… No. He cannot prevail this day. This day is bigger than he. Today, this stranger must die.”

“This is stupid, I should just turn around and blast him in the kneecap. Such a shame I can’t kill him myself… all this ceremony, what’s it for? Those fat fools in that bubble wouldn’t even make it halfway up the ridge by the time I’d crested it, hauled his ass in my ship, and set the hyper-drive to Old Abberdine. Wonder if those bastards would pay out all the same? Hell, I’d even take a cut to be done with this. Three days. I’ve wasted three days on this backwater, redneck, puritanical satellite, and this is where I wind up? This is not how you avoid fame, and you know fame gets you hunted. Were I trained, I never would have wound up here, but you know, too, training makes a man predictable. Looks like it’s just me and all I’ve ever had, for better or for worse, my instinct. Let’s hope it was right… Maybe I should just turn around and blast him. Ugly, son-of-a-bitch.”

Second Pace:

“Thank God I had Jerald, that bitch Makenze’s husband, hand out the guns; this fool outsider has no idea he’s only got a single bullet in that chamber. This is my town, this’ll all be over soon enough and I can get back to my business. Amazing… even after the affair Jerald’s still loyal to me. Never said a word about it neither. Not to a single soul, so far as I can tell. That’s good. After all, men are weak, and it was Makenze who’d tempted ole’ Podunck with her smooth, bare flesh. That wayward wench. The only damned person in this whole forsaken commune who agreed with the outsider and legitimized his challenge, making it stick. He’d be a heap of puss and blood were it not for that one. Of course she would. Everyone suspects something, even if they don’t know for certain what. But that’s baggage left behind from a past life, Sir. Now all that matters is my fresh commitment to Patricia, for as long as we both live, in this new one. Just got to make it through this one, little hiccup. And Jerald? Well, after today, I’ll see to it that Jerald never has to worry about a thing again. Today I’ll show him, Patricia, and Makenze just exactly what type of a man I am.”

“Damn this gated commune. Damn these close-minded twits. Never again do I walk in blind, I don’t care what the size of the bounty is. Were it not for that strange woman, I’d’ve been lynched. “Speak now”, they say. Yeah, unless you’re a guest, and, if you are, there better be at least one local supporter or we’ll beat you with clubs and stab you with sticks until you stop squirming. Sounds about right. Still… It’s not like I didn’t try. Couldn’t get a stitch of information about this rock before I flashed my paperwork and shouldered my way in through the door. First in years… and look where it got me. Don’t even partake in the pulse — wouldn’t know what to do with it if they did — heathens. They’re living like it’s earth-1 all over again… OK. Enough of that. No more distractions now. Focus: go over the facts, quick. There isn’t time. You’re hunting a deviant, likely a sociopath, a Missing Mayor from the Centarus Cluster, who’d first been the face of a children’s charity, and then disappeared days before his embezzlement came to light. This type of person will stop at no-one and for nothing in achieving his ends. A grade 8 stake, with the caveat that he’s brought in alive to face the scales of justice in person. You followed the unique ionized signature of a registered and recently stolen ship, which you found abandoned behind a high ridge, invisible to the denizens of this cloistered world, which inevitably led you here. Also, it’s suspected that this deviant has in his possession a quantum holographer — which is wonderful — meaning he can take on any appearance he wishes unless I can get him outside of an atmosphere. Hence: The Duel. The moons surface will suffice in revealing his true form, if my suspicions are correct, and if I can expose him to the elements… without killing him. That’s a lot of “if’s”. Surely this is not smart business. No. This is my mark, I’m sure of it, and I’ll prove it. “Toad-Man mayor”, this is your gambit to lose.”

Third Pace:

“This man, this supposed bounty hunter, will die by my hand in but a mere moment. I shall savor it. He has, thanks to good ole’ Jerald, naught but one bullet, and, knowing this as I do, all I have to do is dive astride, miss his one hasty shot, and, as he retakes his aim with an empty gun, unload my remaining chamber into his foul chest. Damnable outsider. I shall stare into his madcap countenance until the final reserves of his pathetic life drain out through to the acrid soil. Simple. But what after that? The battle is won, but the spoils are rotten. There will be blame yet. Surely this man hails from someplace significant. Others will come. Explanations, sought after… Perchance I can shift focus onto Jerald. Hapless, simple Jerald. If my poison spreads true… Nobody knows of my triste, and he has been acting rather strange. Maybe I could devise a way to have it yet again, after all. The comely Makenze. I know not how much longer I can suffer the company of that dullard Patricia anyhow, but, after the affair, in order to keep her happy and quiet about the… situation, surely I had little other choice. Unfortunate mistakes of the past. But now I wonder, could not I abdicate to finality? I could reclaim Makenze as my own, be rid of the nattering Patricia for good, satiate any authority who tries to intervene with a simple shift of blame, and fade back into the simple life which I’ve sought for so long, and surely so sincerely deserve. Yes! These events shall come to pass, or the name which I bear is not Podunck Jenkins!”

“These hillbillies are not to be trusted. This gambit threatens my throat as much as my mark’s. Never before, in all my starbounding years, have things ever been so out of my control. Even still, and if I manage to win out this day, can I truly be certain that I’m playing the right hand at this game? Am I so sure that an incriminating ledger from halfway around the galaxy, shredded and lining the barn bed of a neighbors horse, is evidence enough? Even when coupled with a hastily called “re-marriage”, a vow-renewal in normal corners of the universe, and some queer local custom of spousal benefactor inheritance, and automatic citizenship? Can I truly be so certain in my comprehension of local law after merely three days of study? Why must the Centarus government respect the laws of some backwards, uncultured religious reservation, anyhow? It’s loopholes like this which permit this exact type of lawless behavior. Then again, if not for bureaucratic oversights such as this, I might be out of a job. Now, here’s how it all could work: the mayor kills, consumes, and assumes the identity of one: “Podunck Jenkins”, utilizing his recently stolen Quantum Holagrapher to achieve the feat. Legally, this makes him a murderer, subject to local law… but only if caught. However, were this “man” to never officially be killed or discovered dead, which is unlikely given the types of acids that a Ratherain carries around in it’s gut, but rather, even as an impostor, remarry — or marry, depending on your particular slant — a local, sanctioned worshiper and denizen of the Helix commune, then that individual, whether or not they had the right, will become an official member themselves, having been ordained by an official minstrel, inside an official place of worship, with official witnesses lining the pews. Furthermore, and more to the point, this individual will, unwaveringly, be extended amnesty through governmental religious exemption. Their dome, their rules. Then, as an official member of this special community, sharing equally with his wife in all of his worldly possessions, were somehow some tragedy to befall his betrothed, he would successfully have become, legally and forevermore throughout the universe, the inimitable owner of a theoretically stolen charity fund — with monies ample to support a lavish lifestyle across many a generation. But I’m here now. It’s obvious, even to an amphibian, that people will be coming for him. He can’t kill his wife to be, unless he first kills me. And if he does, than he can become whoever he wants, and fade into whatever life he desires. No wonder he rallied in support of a duel over a hearing… Well, nothing more to do now but hope my gun swap, and empty chamber trick pays off… and I don’t somehow get shot myself before he shows his true form. Or get lynched. That’ll be fun. Well, here goes.”

*BANG*

Thanks for reading!

~J

Advertisements
Welcome back everyone,
hello-cute

Hey there 😉

As you know, on this blog I generally do my darnedest to keep things whimsical. I like to try and make intellectuality fun — at least as fun as someone bereft of said topic can make it — and that’s because I understand all too well that pretension will only get in the way of communicating what ideas I may have and would genuinely enjoy hearing others honest opinions about.

For that, I need you all to be smiling.

I require your guard to be down.

(But not your fly… XYZ, reader)

Now, some may call this peevish, and if you do I have a special place for you, (Just click the “X” on the upper right hand side of your web browser, and I’ve got the whole thing set up to redirect you exactly to where you belong on the internet!) but I believe in everyone’s opinion being valid. As I see it, we all have differing life experiences, which lend themselves to differing insights about the reality of being. Each of us alone is only a piece of the puzzle, only together can we see what is. Thus, you may have noticed, across the four some-odd-years that I’ve run this blog, (Say Thank-Ya!) that I’ve always made pains to refer to you all as one. Never referencing color, race, location or gender (unless that’s the topic in question), while addressing you all in these jaunty little introductions, or, in this blog’s previous incarnation, throughout the entire proof of my theorem.

"Humans"

“Humans”

Today though, as you may have already guessed, I’d like to assume a more sober tone. Today I’d like to discuss something that happened to me personally (don’t worry I’m FINE. It merely led to this week’s inspiration), which helped solidify the mere fragments of thought on the topic I’d had, up until it’s occurrence. At first I was going to obscure the introduction, being that the person who did this may well read this blog, but I quickly realized that I am no coward, and that relenting in such a manner would be tantamount to “Do as I say, but not as I do” — which is decisively Un-Cool. And so, without further ado, here it is…

(Wow, can’t quite find words which won’t elicit a giggle….)

(Well, whatever… You’re a mature audience.)

😛

I got my junk grabbed — like full on, a full handful, for a full second — and this was done by someone I work with. A Woman, no less. Now, as you may or may not know, I once worked as a topless waiter at a strip club. There this type of thing was routine, and I was able to shrug it off as the nature of the beast. However at my current job, working for CBS on a television show, this type of behavior, even with a flirty coworker (whom I certainly reciprocate with, just never to this extreme…), was, frankly, unacceptable. And so, with a heavy heart, and plans to kill the buzz, I approached her in a clandestine manner, asking for things to never again go to where she took them. She then responded vocally, amidst a large group of others — people without any knowledge of the aforementioned affront — saying, and I quote,

“Oh, be a man. You know you liked it.”

……

Now, it took me some time to process all the emotions — admittedly, mostly negative — that coursed through my mind at this moment in my life. I’m not going to lie… at first I wanted to smack her, but logic quickly argued against that. Then I wanted to wail vocally, explaining to the entire gymnasium full of our film crew that she had, in fact, sexually harassed me… but my days at the club popped in my mind and it all felt like a rather flat argument. The best reason I could find within for feeling so wronged was that, somehow, a power struggle had been breached… and quite unjustly. Finally I found a healthy way to deal with my feelings on the occasion — I’d write about it. And the story today, after three manifestations that I’d scrapped for being far too blunt, is the result of it all.

I’m not going to mince words here: Equality is a blanket term, it has NOTHING to do with entitlements or supremacy. If you truly wish to see yourself as an equal — a just contributor to modernity — than privilege becomes a slight. It’s abhorrent, as it assumes the same role of the oppressor which you, or (more likely) the brave people before you, had once fought so direly to be free from. You may or may not see how, but this piece is my way of confronting the racism I’d been subject to as a child, the class warfare I’ve bore witness to all my life, and the general ways that mankind has tried to keep his brothers and sisters down. It should also serve as warning to movements of equality, Feminism, Racial equality, First, Second, and Third world conflicts amongst each other, and any people who strive for their fair share, that sometimes we can take things too far. Equality, true equality, is blind to Gender, Race, Color, Size, and shape — and perhaps may someday include Species, Race, Planet — and even Galaxy and Universe.

Everybody’s on a journey throughout this life, one unique to them, and so every point of view is valid — and certainly deserved of a listen by the rest of us.

~J

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ordinary Extremities

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Ticket, please”, Bade the Conductor, approaching the squatted pile of rags at the far corner of the car.

The woman beneath didn’t stir.

“Hello Ma’am?” He said politely, “Sorry to wake you, but I need to collect your ticket now.”

Still the enshrouded figure remained nonplussed.

The Conductor bent, waving a translucent blue palm before the hooded cave of the woman’s visage, before kneeling and tipping his face in for a better look.

The fact that this man was, in actuality, a hologram — a mere segmented sliver of the conductors waking mind, present here only due to clever camera and speaker placement — was not lost on me. So at this thought, despite myself, I snorted a laugh.

From his hands and knees the man inclined his head in my direction, before craning his neck to peer under his arm’s nook at the wall of passengers which had built up across the car. The Conductor then got up, dusted off his knees, and approached me.

“Ticket Please”, he said, an accusatory lilt staining his custom level tone, seeming to imply some connection between myself and the vagabond across the way.

Casually I removed a balled fist from the pocket of my well pressed Sports Coat, never bothering to take the sole of my fine Italian loafer away from the door on which I leaned, thrusting it out then for the man to see, before hinging each finger out, slowly and in turn, to eventually present him with a bare palm. From the transparent ceiling above, at a point indeterminate due to the setting sun, a green laser light fanned out, sweeping my palm first in one direction and then the other before blinking out extinguished.

“Thank you.” Said the man, eying me suspiciously. Shooting a thumb over his shoulder, he soon added,  “How about you help me out? Go wake your little buddy over there so I can scan her ticket too.”

“Little buddy?” I scoffed, failing to stifle a second snort, “I don’t know that person.”

The man dove his face in toward mine, searching my eyes, darting erratically back and forth from left to right, before melodramatically stepping back to indicate the crowd.

“Tell me than, what’s this? Why is it you can stomach this woman’s clearly quite pungent odor, when the rest of my passengers huddle and cower like frightened livestock?”

I regarded the crowd, noting that easily three yards separated me from the next nearest paying customer. A singular huddled mass, the people all breathed as one; through sleeves, scarves, and hats — anything that might help stave off the offensive aura being generated by the woman just across from me.

“She’s harmless.” I asserted. “Besides, my desire to be left alone presently supersedes any musk this individual could possibly produce.”

And it was true. I’d hastily purchased a ‘standing room only’ ticket, knowing full-well the risk, and had accepted this unfortunate condition as mere penitence for my retreat.

The Conductor scrutinized me thoughtfully.

“Well then, friend” He began afresh, clearly changing tactics. “Give a guy without a hand, a hand, eh? This form may have function, but it has no form — if you’re picking up what I’m projecting down. Be a pal and, well… just tap her on the shoulder for me, would ya?”

I unfocused my eyes, looking straight through the shifting veil of blue before me to examine the mysterious figure just across the way. Indeed it seemed that the thing beneath the ratty pile of garments was, in fact, a woman… though without removing her thick and pungent wrappings it would be impossible to tell for sure. Long, dreaded hair flowed out from under the dark recesses of her cavernous hood, which then weighed down the loosely stacked garments cosseting her chest to detail two modest, though distinctly feminine, mounds. Carelessly crouched in the corner as she was — wrists rested on bent knees, back strait, shoulders level, with some indeterminate rigidity protruding diagonally underneath her thick vestments — the woman seemed more pious sentinel, particularly in this shade of divine azure, than penniless freight-hopper.

Malodorous scent or not, queer as it may sound… I soon found myself drawn to her. Something was brave and bold beneath that hood. Something new. Something I’d never encountered in all my worldly travels, and someone who the other people of this train would never dare try comprehend… I stared intently into the void cast by it, that hood. Searched every impregnable inch methodically, earnestly seeking but a single point of light being reflected back by flesh… but only found its darkness to be absolute. Just as I was ready to give up, prepared to simply walk on over as the Conductor had asked, a dual burst of slits flashed alight within the gloom, each punctuated by an iris of burning red. Their appearance, though brief, was married to a nearly imperceptible incline of her head, and the collective gestures combined to culminate as a simple yet strikingly vivid message; ‘Stay Away’.

I faltered. My composure shattered. Fear gripped my heart, and my easy lean slipped from the wall. My palms pressed firm to the doors behind me, unconsciously searching for a place to flee, and I found myself flat against the wall standing on tiptoes. The Conductor regarded my change, glancing over at the woman — who only appeared as she was — before whipping back around again to me, scanning my eyes for any sign of a ruse.

Eventually satisfied, he pressed a heavy weightless hand into my shoulder.

“Forget it,” He began, his voice imbued now with genuine care, “I thought you knew her”. He then added, dimming his speaker volume to a decibel only audible to my nearby ear, “I’ll just let the Staties deal with her once we pass Forrest Squarewood. That’s their jurisdiction, you know? They hate Planet Hoppers. Such a shame, too. Hate to hand over someone who’s fallen on tough times. But… a job’s a job. Word to the wise? Beware that woman, friend. She’s likely strange; wily. The type that can’t be trusted even for a second. You keep your distance, now.”

Abashed, staring absently through the clear floor at a tempestuous river we raced above, I nodded stupidly in response.

Then, I was alone. The conductor walking straight into the adjacent car, unperturbed by silly things of matter, like tangibility or mass.

“Get out-of-the-way, Moron!”, came a voice amidst the crowd.

“Move it, Jerkface!” echoed another, seemingly headed my way.

Then, all at once, the hermetically sealed line of average passengers burst, spewing forth, before the wound quickly healed, two attractive young ladies; one a petite Brunette, and the other a voluptuous Blonde.

“Jesus, Tria, you said she didn’t smell so bad. It smells like a Whorehouse’s Outhouse out here.” Exclaimed the Blonde, quickly masking her face with a jewel encrusted hand.

“No, Lo-Lo, that is not what I said at all.” Proclaimed the Brunette, exposing her pierced navel as she yanked a low neck line up over her nose. “What I said was, and I quote; ‘How bad could it be, that guy’s standing there?’ Answer: really, really, really, freaking bad. Wow. The last time that thing took a shower, John-John was on ‘Mercury House’. Am I right?”

“Hell, yes you are.”

“Am I right?”

“Oh my God, bitch, I already said, ‘Yes’. Can’t we just spark? That thing’s making me sick, already.”

“What am I, your mother, you whore? You need permission? Light it. Danm. Light that shit up already.”

“Shut-up, slut.”

“Hoe.”

“Bitch.”

Then, in tandem, they both concluded, “Whatever.”

Flashing each other a vicious pair of smiles somehow seemed to settle the exchange, and soon both were digging through their respective golden handbags, extracting, before long, a pair of Electronic Cigarettes.

The Blonde unscrewed hers at the center, peering inside. “Shit, I’m out. You got any left?”

The Brunette then unscrewed hers, turning about in circles while trying to find an angle for the overhead light. “I can’t tell, I think I need a refill too. You got any more on you?”

“Yeah, I think I do.” Said the one called Lo-Lo, juggling her effects, balancing her bag on a raised knee and struggling to keep her balance. “Somewhere in here…”

“Hang on.” Said Tria, tugging her friend violently by the hand, nearly toppling her over, and then dragging her by me. “Hi there, Mister.” she began, long lashes fluttering, salaciously brushing my arm, “Hold this for me, would you?”

Before I knew what was happening I found myself clutching a clutch, supporting a shoulder bag with my shoulder, and palming hand lotion — amongst other unidentifiable effects of superficiality — in my palm. The two young women, for their part, each held a strap of Lo-Lo’s Bag, and were both digging voraciously through its contents, stopping only to toss out bits of garbage onto the train floor.

Finally Tria produced a small container with a sealed lid.

“Is this it?” She asked, presenting it to Lo-Lo between two raised fingers and a thumb.

Lo-Lo snatched it unceremoniously, raking her friend harshly with manicured nails bearing a collection of tiny circus animals.

“Ah, you bitch”. Shouted Tria.

But Lo-Lo was lost in the vial. She eagerly popped the lid, hurriedly raised the opening to her nose, and huffed the noxious scent therein deeply. The display was for show. Once opened, even from back where I stood, the smell was sufficient to stifle even that of the transient’s across the car. Reaching inside they each pinched off a small amount before plucking their cigarettes from my open palm and stuffing their devices full. Within but a second, the gadget was reassembled, the girls pressed at the ignition, and each was inhaling deeply — leaving me as a forlorn baggage handler at the airport, and without any tip to boot.

From somewhere at the back of the crowd a man’s voice could be heard “Hey, you can’t smoke in here. It’s illegal. Some of us have an allergy.”

“Oh, yeah?” Challenged Tria. “Who’s gonna stop me? Not you. I do what I want.” And to punctuate this apparent fact, she took a long drag, deep down into her lungs, before exhaling a mighty vapor cloud toward the group.

A wheezing, raspy cough was the crowds only retort.

Lo-Lo then took a lungful in all her own, before breathing it out into my face, asking “So… what’s wrong with you? You enjoy smelling like ass or something, Mister?”

“I just want to be left alone.” I insisted, extending the clutch toward Lo-Lo, “I just got back from this long, pointless ‘inter-office relations-trip’ that my boss sent me on, and…”

“That’s not mine.” Lo-Lo interrupted, stepping back from the handbag disgusted.

“Yo. Don’t give that hoe my bag.” Interjected Tria, swiveling her head around like a snake. “She wouldn’t know what to do with one that’s not a fake, anyways.”

“Please, girl.” Pleaded Lo-Lo. “It’s been a long, hard day, and I don’t have the energy left to teach you the difference between a ‘Carl Mongoose’, and whatever it is you’re calling a ‘Petera’ Divine’ over there.”

“Oh, don’t you start with me, Miss ‘I-Don’t-Buy-From-Little-Persia-I-Only-Like-To-Look’.”

But Lo-Lo did start…

And then Tria continued…

And so, as the girls continued to debate the laurels surrounding the question, “Which one of their bags was better suited at holding things?”, I quickly grew weary of acting out the role of impromptu living mannequin. Thus did I proceed to place all of their loose effects into whoever’s shoulder-bag it was I was presently shouldering, to then merely lay the weighty satchel down on the clear floor at my feet, noting, as I did, the first patches of trees springing up on the ground far, far below.

It wouldn’t be long now. Soon I’d find out exactly what type of woman it was buried underneath all that dowdy patchwork.

Lo-Lo seized her bag from the floor with a huff, and shoved me harshly against the wall, saying “What the eff do you think you’re doing?”

“Oh-My-God” Chimed in Tria, slapping my shoulder. “I know that you did not just put her Ten Thousand Dollar, ‘Carl Mongoose’, Winter collection bag on that dirty-ass floor, with that filthy… thing… sitting right there.”

“Girls.” I began, tenderly as I could manage. “Don’t do that.”

“Don’t do what?” Demanded, Lo-Lo, as sprightly green tips began whizzing past her ankles.

“Don’t talk about another human being like that.”

“I will talk about whoever, however I want.” She insisted, the thickening wood growing steadily to overtake her height.

“Look, it’s clear this person has fallen on tough times. You don’t know her story.”

“We don’t care.” Insisted Tria, clapping her hands for emphasis on each word, all while massive shadows painted darting streaks across her form.

“Yeah, well… either way. You shouldn’t add to her problems. Just… leave her be. I’m asking you a favor.”

“Come-on mister. What, you in love? Bitch ain’t even got no clothes.”

“Hoe don’t have no money.”

“Trick smells like ass.”

The tips of the monolithic pines were now beyond the reach of sight, their numbers surging greater by the second still.

“Yeah, well… She’s a person. She get’s to live how she wants. What if this is what makes her happy?”

“What? You serious?”

“No makeup. No friends. No class. Smells like a dirty-ass construction worker that just tipped over in the Pora-a-John. Sitting here, doing nothing but stinking up the train for the rest of us normal, god-fearing, folk. Man, please: that ain’t even a lady.”

Suddenly light inside the car was squelched out entirely, as the encroaching tree line had finally grown bold enough to steal the setting sun.

A mind trembling scream rang out from somewhere amidst the crowd.

As the lights of the cabin pulsed slowly to life, and my vision oscillated between states of pure blindness and mere hazy shadow, I found the crowd was moving toward me, reeling back from some bewitching scene unfolding near its center.

It was then when I caught my first glimpse of the thing. Circumscribed by the ever swelling circumference of screaming and frightened passengers was a beast not quite human, with a wide drawn out squamous face, and a lithe lolling tongue — one which defied jagged rows of impossibly sharp teeth as it danced along their precarious peaks and valleys — actively tasting the air. It held a redundant dagger in each of its two claws, as all of it’s five fingers were adorned with vicious, corkscrewed nails, while it stalked through the crowd of lambs — slaughtering any and all without the sense or wherewithal to run.

Calcified as I was, agog from the massacre unfolding just before my eyes, I nearly didn’t feel the nagging pull of the two wildly wailing women persistently scrabbling at my back. However, when I nearly lost my footing while stepping on a familiar golden bag, the initials ‘CM’ forming a gaudy pattern all along it’s every facet, reality finally came home, drunk and crashing into the garage, and I became instantly aware of the two girls urging me to glance over to my left. There, at the epicenter of the car and just beside where we stood, a luminous pinprick wisp was floating, unaided, and steadily gaining in girth. The wormhole rapidly gained mass and began to pull at me, and, were it not for the frantic women holding firm at my arms, each demanding I, “Be a man and save them!”, and weighing me down, I may have even been engulfed by its mystical allure — cast to frightful plane. Then as the otherworldly draw began to ebb, and just as the brilliant vortex, hollow at its heart, had reached a sizable three yard diameter, another set of scaled and corkscrewed claws braced themselves at the lip of the dimensional rift, to then vault their master whole into our place in space.

The Reptilian beast landed to the floor of the car with a weighty thud, as the wormhole neatly cinched up behind it, sending a splintering shock-wave throughout the reinforced plastic at its wake, compromising integrity engineered to hold a hundred men. It spent but a moment in the throes of nausea before its slitted eyes were trained on us, and the women redoubled in their efforts of shrieking as it slavered and ambled serpentine our way.

Lo-Lo shoved me toward it with one hand, and held firm with the other, bellowing, “Fight it, Mister. Protect us!”

Tria wept, and held firm at my arm, wailing, “Make it go away. Tell it to leave.”

“Girls, let go.” I pleaded. “I can’t move.”

“Do something”, they screamed in unison.

Like lightning the creature was on me, effortlessly shifting its easy gait into a terrifying pounce, clutching then at my coat, arching me overhead, and slamming me down hard onto the floor. The ground groaned and quaked beneath the hammering of my mass, and all the air was stolen from my chest. As the room spun, and the light-show played, my whereabouts grew dubious, and my mind clouded. Sleep beckoned.

Somehow through the hypnagogic haze I felt the light playing on my face dim. Gathering my wits through great focus of effort, I synched my wayward eyes and fought to look out strait from my helpless supine form… only to discover forthcoming doom. The thing was upon me, mighty fist raised high overhead, blotting out the cabin light, and prepared to slam down into my skull. With a greater effort than my body had left to give, I rolled hard to the left, feeling the whipping air thrash my necks nape at the wake of its mammoth fist as it narrowly missed my face. Already undermined, the car yielded to the tremendous power of the things assault, and left me dangling through the floor, hanging precariously by the tips of my weakened fingers.

It seemed the end was near. The creature wasted no time in reeling back for a second strike, this one aimed at my fingertips which clung desperately at the lip of the opening, promising to cast me into an impending free-fall many kilometers long, either to be impaled on a tree, or to shatter my every bone against the distant terra. Resigned to my fate I turned my face toward my attacker, determined, at the very least, to go with my dignity intact. I matched his wild eyes with a level gaze, wholly free from fear, merely patient, and found myself in admiration of the speed in which it’s limb was capable of traveling — that is all before a warm spray misted my cheeks, and the hapless arm cascaded clear beyond me, tumbling freely into the open air beyond my dangling feet. Armless now, the beast hissed in pain, whipping about furiously then to confront its assaulter, only to be diced, just at the hinge of its jaw, by the returning upward swing of a Katana.

And there, flared by the wildly luminous cabin lights, stood a proud silhouette which wielded the brilliant blade — the lowly vagabond from the far corner of the car. Shed now of her outer layer, camouflage from the very start, she shucked her sword free from the serpents blood, highlighting, as she did, bountiful curves of dense musculature beneath an elite black and silken armor. She then kicked at the chest of the thing, still writhing even without a head, shoving it out beyond me and into the open air below, before dashing off, and out of view, presumably toward the panicked crowd at my back.

The drama then unfolded in screams and gasps, while I struggled and flailed, and failed, in extracting myself from my tricky predicament. Before long the cacophony, blind to my eyes, fell to stillness. Not a sound could be heard. Visions of an all-encompassing massacre filled my mind…

Finally then, after a silence of interminable length, where I never ceased in my struggle to re-board the racing car, it was the shallow voice of an elderly man which broke the strange repose.

“Thank You.” He said, voice quavering with emotion. “Thank you so very, very much, young lady.”

Then came another, quick on his heels, a woman this time. “Here, take this. Please, I insist. And… Thank you.”

Before long, another chimed in, a little boy, “That was really cool! Here, strong lady, it’s my favoritest… I want you to have it.”

And then came another, and another…. and another.

And so it continued, as my fingers quaked, from all the voices, of all the people in the car: gratitude. Thanks being showered on one who, only just a few minutes ago, the entire lot had all but condemned.

I felt the dimming of the overhead light once more, and, fingers trembling, strained to look skyward… and there she was, bearing a halo of light — and was she ever beautiful. Long dreadlocks framed an angled face that belonged on the cover of a magazine, were it not for the jagged scars and random battle-won maladies which gave it its fierce character. She had her rags back on now, and from all the errant, random, and poorly sewn pockets, people’s valuables jutted out. Precious necklaces, rings, jewelery and just plain cold hard cash overflowed the paupers clothes, creating a jaunty juxtaposition embodied in the sight of this mighty warrior woman.

She regarded me, as she drew her hood back over her head, sightlessly cleaned her blade on a rag, and sheathed the sword, asking, “You’re the one who defended me in my rags?”

I swallowed hard, saying all I could think to, “Yes…”

“You shouldn’t have done that…” She chided, a bright smile shining out from under the hood. “Look, times are always hard. People will have their opinions. All that really matters is how you react to the ordinary extremities of everyday life.”

I merely nodded, the wisdom of her words failing to presently pierce me in my condition — I was simply praying she’d help me up from my hole.

“Hey!” Came a voice, I knew to be Tria, “Take this. It’s worth alot!”

“Yeah, yeah!” Chimed in Lo-Lo, “And these. They’re yours now.”

“No.” Said the warrior woman, severity back in her tone. “I want you to keep them. After all, they’re all you have.”

She turned back to the hole, regarding me with pity.

“Pull yourself up.” She ordered. “You’ve done it before. I have no doubts that you can do it again.”

And then, without hesitation, she leapt through the hole — never to be seen or heard from again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~ FIN ~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I sure hope you enjoyed this.

It’s 4 days late, and that’s because I took some more time with it — and it still feels like I could’ve taken another week or so to get it right.

Please leave your thoughts below, on the topic and the story, and I’ll add edits to this as time permits.

Thanks

~J

Happy New year, Everyone!

Good_News_Everyone_by_martynasx

Hey there, everyon… Woh!

Heh. Sorry about that. You caught me off guard. No offense intended here, but… you sure put on some weight over these last few weeks. (I barely recognized ya’!). I mean, you’re still dead sexy, Readers… My readers ARE the sexiest group of readers on the planet… but come on! Let’s get with it! It’s time to kick this thang off right!

Anywho, no matter really — we’re all allowed a bit of leeway around the holidays. In fact I believe I’ve missed two weekends worth of stories, myself.

(Tsk, Tsk…)

And so, I thought I’d make up for it today.

This story needs little to no introduction, as I’ve written it, re-written it — and then deleted everything I had because it was crap and re-wrote it yet again!

And now I think I’ve finally got something of merit.

🙂

WARNING: For those of you that live with ADD (like myself) you may want to break this story up — it’s mostly why I add the pictures FYI… ‘Virtual Bookmarks’.

This story was inspired by three splinters that, despite how many times I’d removed them from my thumb over the course of a week, continued to appear. So, as inspiration goes, this was… queer… but I really had a lot of fun with what i came up with here, and believe I nailed the syllogism I was after in the end (if I do say so myself)…

Let’s see if you can catch it!

Please enjoy.

~J

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Evolution

Ominous_Mist_by_clacier

He felt it wake up…

He always did…

It wouldn’t be long now…

Hurriedly, abruptly, Hickey threw out excuses, ended conversations, and broke away from the gaggle of foreign nurses and technicians which had congregated around him.

It knew. It surged within him, flaring up from the nape of his neck and growing quickly around his shoulders to embrace his chest and ribs. His eyes watered, blurring his view, as he made his way, serpentine, toward the Janitor, entrusted today with keys that had never before been used.

“I’d like to be let in”, requested Hickey, meekly. His face down and his hands jammed far too deeply into his pockets — feeling more vulnerable than an assistant to a post op, carpel tunnel knife-thrower on a spin-wheel, he told himself.

Wait, what? Where did that come from, he wondered frantically…

Fanning the flames of his fear…

Unknowingly Feeding his demon…

Far too slowly, the Janitor raked a suspicious eye across Hickey from head to toe — it took hours. This is insane, he thought. It was calling again — of course it would, once awake it never stopped — and he didn’t know how much longer he’d be able to resist. He needed to get away. Now. It didn’t know what today was, and Hickey didn’t know what it was, to be fair… not for certain at least. But he simply couldn’t let his peers see him like this; in this sad, weakened state. No way he could let this ruin him. It was a cutthroat industry they worked in, and he remembered well what it had taken to get himself to the top — and he was now, undoubtedly, at the top. He’d arrived. The big dog, chosen alone for this special patient. Looking over toward the crowd of his contemporaries, Hickey thought, All they’d need is a little leverage, and all my life’s work

“You alright, Dr. H.?” finally, the Janitor spoke, “Normally you’re the last one in the OR.”

The overly familiar tone hit a chord within Hickey, making him tic, cocking his head to the side ever so slightly… before something behind his eyes snapped. Suddenly, with deft, explosive speed, he reached out, seizing the man’s Adam’s apple in his fist — gripping it with tremendous force — before proceeding to tear his entire esophagus out through his throat with a violent jerk. He hoisted it then above his head, his slick and throbbing trophy, while letting its fresh, warm blood trickle freely down and across his wildly grinning visage.

Seriously_Scary_by_steelgohst

It’s not real, Sam… It’s your imagination…

You know that it is…

Fight it.

He snapped back to reality, “I’m fine, thanks. Maybe it’s the locked door, George.” He said, selling the ersatz politeness like a veteran used car salesman, motioning toward the door. “It’s… unnerving. Would you mind?”

“Of course, Sam. Of course.” Said George, expertly fishing a weighty, triple-decker key-ring off his belt loop in a smooth and well-practiced motion, before beginning to rifle through the keys. “Hey, did you catch that Re-run of, “House” last night by any chance?”

“No, George” replied Hickey, far more edge to his voice than intended. “I’ve told you, I don’t watch T.V.”.

George tried a wide, bronzed key in the knob — no good. “I know what you say, Dr.H… but everybody watches T.V.”.

“Well… not me”, Hickey answered, saddened somewhat by the prospect of this simple normalcy which had always eluded him.

“That Dr. House, he reminds me a lot of you. You know?” George continued as he tried a dull silver key in the handle to no avail — and as Hickey saw a flash of himself gutting him with all the subsequent wrong choices. “He never gives up, that House. And, like you,” he glanced back at Hickey, “He’d rather be good at what he does, than be healthy”. Finally, his third try, George got the right key. He stepped into the prep room, holding the door for Hickey, and used his custom key to flip the light switches on. ” You look like you need some sleep, Dr.H…”, he concluded.

“I’m fine”, said Hickey, abruptly — before slamming the door shut in George’s face.

Violently, without hesitation, Hickey clawed frantically at his neck, eventually quieting, for but a moment, the crippling familiar which now resided therein. How much longer can this possibly last, he wondered. What have I done to deserve this? Fuck that damned rat, he thought, punctuating each word in turn within his mind… before beginning to feel a familiar warmth radiate from his chest. Returned from their charge, and speedily en-route to engage their fresh one, his hands came back from behind his head contorted, crooked, and, to his great horror, bloodied — which stopped them dead in their tracks before awestruck eyes.

Just then the light in the adjacent OR flipped on, and through the semi-transparent waved glass, just beyond the gap between his stained, seized-up hands, he saw the silhouette of the mystery man, the man who was to be his patient, being wheeled into the room.

Running to the sink, his demon momentarily forgotten, Hickey flushed his hands under the cool water, liberating them from their red coat… only to unearth a brass substrate beneath.

No… It can’t be.

Not today!

His demon laughed at this, and swelled.

Now, visible throughout the tips of each of his fingers, were tiny, filament like shards of browned steel. Most lay flat beneath his flesh, glimmering under the surface against the pulsating fluorescents above, but some jutted out straight, little daggers planted firmly in his skin — their tips sharp, foreboding, and now fairly obviously the reason behind all the blood. Without much thought, he jammed his fingers into his mouth, clamped his eyes shut, and felt about with his teeth and tongue for anything protruding… before yanking them out one by one as they were found, and spitting them into the basin.

Ting… Bing… Splat…

He had to hurry.

Ting… Bing… Splat…

They’d not be far behind…

His humanity was fading. This, perhaps, was the only bit of higher reasoning that remained with him — that he was losing his mind. Whatever he had been, prior to the Rat invasion only two weeks past, he now no longer was. Doctor, Leader, Boss, Friend… The best at what he does… These titles meant nothing to him now. Now, he was nothing but a rabid animal — cleansing himself with his teeth, and using the finished bits to slake away tiny increments of his primitive, senseless urge. God, did he itch! It was nary unbearable. But he had to hold out just a little bit longer. After all, he could always stop the bleeding on his neck, but he could never take the hue out from his scrubs. He just needed to finish the extractions, wash his hands, and put on the gloves. Then, none would be the wiser. Nobody would know. He could finish the surgery in half the time he’d quoted, rush off home to be alone, as he always was, and then calculate his next step.

Just one step at a time, he assured himself.

Just one thing, and then the next, and then… eventually…

…I’m sure you’ll get to the bottom of this.

Licking his fingertips once again reminded him of the devolved state he’d been forced to adapt, but also proved to him that he was now, finally, finished with his task. And as soon as this realization hit, like a green light after a year and a half of sitting at an intersection, he jammed on the gas, succumbed to his need, and worked himself into a tizzy — scratching this way and that, up and down, left and right, and turning about while contorting his shape in order to reach more and more exotic locations… feeling, all the while, like the Tasmanian Devil he’d loved so very much as a child.

What a stupid thing for a kid to idolize, he thought. A mindless, spinning, inexhaustible appetite with eyes. A creature of pure instinct, with no situational awareness whatsoever…

“Sam, what are you doing?” Demanded Ann in a whisper from behind his shoulder — shattering his thoughts, ceasing his motion, and causing him to leap from fear and land on the Moon. Her voice continued on then as an omnipresent echo, a hushed thunder that rang out all across the surface of the great cheese ball where now he stood, agape and staring up at a half-lit Earth, “You’re bleeding…”.

At once, the room he’d forgotten came back into focus, and Hickey soon realized, much to his chagrin, that he’d been doing the ole’, “Hokey-Pokey-Tasmanian-Devil-Itchy-Dance” right before all his contemporaries while they washed in the sink and prepped for surgery — precisely what he’d been planning to avoid.

Well, you got your leverage, he thought morosely, closing his fists to hide his shame, now let’s see if you spineless invertebrates will do anything with it.

“Come here”, insisted Ann, her hand spinning him by the hip to face the crowd, hiding the blood behind his neck as she wiped it tenderly with a paper towel. “What did you do?”

He faltered. “I, uh. I had an itch…”

Gently she grabbed his wrist, as she simultaneously conducted her blind cleaning, saying softly, “Stop. Sam, we don’t have to do this. You look like shit. We don’t know any of these people. Hell, we don’t even know the patient! What are we doing?

“We’re doing the surgery, Ann.” He said plainly, noticing an eavesdropping technician over her shoulder, holding the door for the bulk of the flock as they migrated into the adjacent E.R.. His gaze darted as it met Hickeys, but he was sure he’d sensed a healthy modicum of self-pity in those eyes before they had. Likely trying to justify why it was Hickey and not him — or at least one of their own, this supposed celebrities’ entourage — chosen to perform the surgery.

Because he was the best, he assured himself.

Not anymore, came his unconscious response.

His demon cackled heartily.

“What, were you up all night working on your book again?” Ann inquired as the room finished clearing out, successfully fishing him from the void once more.

“No. I just…. I can’t sleep at all anymore. I actually finished all three a couple weeks ago.”

“Edits and all?”

“Edits and all.”

“So… What is it?” She inquired rather tenderly. “I am so proud of you by the way, Sam… I mean, Doctor Hickey. Truly.”

Her eyes penetrated him thoroughly, leaving him somewhat dumbfounded. Proud? Who was she to care about him? He returned her direct gaze with one of his own, and their eyes began a waltz, chaperoned by dueling smiles. “Well, actually, that night… the night I’d finished, that’s when this all started. I finished typing in the final edits, clicked save, stretched back into my chair — the most relaxed I’d felt in months, honestly — and that’s when I saw it. A rat. A big, brown, bulbous-assed rat, scurrying across my kitchen floor, right in my peripheral vision.”

“Sounds like you need a woman’s touch around there.” She teased.

“I maintain a VERY clean home, thank you” He defended, quickly staving off the worst of his demanding flesh as he rubbed hurriedly at his thigh, hoping not to be noticed.

paranoia-melissa-dzierlatka

The demon was starting to win.

He had to get this going.

…But, what of Ann?

“I meant no offense, Doctor.”

“Never fear.” He assured her, feeling her draw away some. He picked up the pace of the story now, to try and win her back. “Anyway, I did a bit of quick research and found a simple solution: Steel wool. So, I bought a few cheap boxes up the block, scoured my home for any tiny passages, and shoved a ball or two of the stuff into all the spaces.”

“I don’t understand. So… What happened to you, exactly?”

“That’s just it… I’m not really sure.” He distractedly scratched at his belly,  “I woke up the next morning itchy, with a shard of steel sticking out of my thumb — so I figured it must’ve been the steel wool, right?”

“Sure.”

“Only this shard… was brown. And also… there were more.”

“More?”

“Yes. Many more… More buried in my palm. More stuck into my thighs, and my legs, and neck… and even certain… delicate areas. I mean, I did a bit of juggling at one point as I wandered about from room to room, stupid in hindsight, but this seemed… strange. Obviously. To say the least…”

“I’ll say, but…” She trailed off, noticing his balled hands held firm against his waist. “Wait, it’s happening right now, isn’t it?” Hickey didn’t answer, but his skittish countenance said all she needed to hear. She laced her fingers tenderly about his hands. “Sam, let me take a look…”

“No. It’s… it’s nothing. I’m fine. Let’s just head in and get this over with.”

“Sam Hickey,” she began, in a tone which mirrored that of his mothers when he was in trouble as a boy, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but you choose me… correction, you fought this celebrity douchebag tooth and nail to have one of your own in the room with you, and you made that person me… and you don’t trust me?” Verily, heartily, Ann was offended. “I trust you…”

Gazing into her thoughtful, deep emerald eyes Hickey felt an immense sense of guilt wash over him. He desperately wanted to relent, but the urge was reaching critical mass within him. Besides, this issue was no simple matter, not that she knew that, or even could know — and time was of the essence.  At once, he broke away and crossed the room, headed over toward the box of sterile blue gloves, saying simply over his shoulder for closure, “After surgery”.

The other side of the room fell cripplingly silent.

She hates me… He thought.

Well… What else is new?

Without looking back, Sam Hickey threw on his gloves, entered the OR, and left Ann behind in the prep room… as she silently began to weep.

In the room, everything was prepared. The patient was drugged, unconscious and entubated, and the impromptu staff had taken their proper places around the patient’s table. The head laparoscopic assisting technician was extending a scalpel in his direction, and Hickey could sense the sneer aimed at him even through the surgical mask.

Well no matter…

Let’s get this done with…

Time to begin.

Looking back over his shoulder, hoping that the soul vestige of his team would soon be at his side, Hickey saw the shadow of Ann grow through the dense and waved glass. Slowly it moved toward the OR door, placing a tentative a hand on it’s flat face, before hesitating, and then slowly retreating back away from it… eventually leaving the prep room entirely to head back out toward the hall. He sighed, and, after a long beat of hesitation, reluctantly accepted the scalpel… just as the sole of his right foot began to flare.

This surgery was going to be a test of will he wasn’t sure he’d pass…

His foot, engulfed in flame, beckoned him…

The demon was growing inpatient.

In his distraction, he never noticed the patient sit up, nor plunge the needle into his neck.

Before he could react, the group of strangers leapt at him, arresting his limbs.

He suddenly grew tired…

His demon assuaged…

Then… Reality grew dark.

Hickey slumped to the floor.

Businessman laying down on white background

The next thing he knew, Hickey was strapped to a massive, upright rotary sander, the pad wildly spinning, wobbling off axis, and making him vomitous. Across from him, on a belt sander, stood Ann, chucking scalpels at him underhand in a windmill softball fashion and missing repeatedly by mere millimeters. Then the queer, detached, markedly unenthused voice of a Man neatly broke his stupor, saying levelly, “Sam? Sam are you there? Wake up, my friend. there is much to discuss.”

Hickey’s eyes cracked open in a flash, his illusion neatly rippling into reality while fear slowly washed over him — as he soon realized that he recognized nothing of his surroundings. He sat limp, exhausted, and cotton-mouthed on an ultra modern, cloyingly adorned, white chaise lounge, amidst an expensive, well furnished, wood finished office, and just before an impossibly wide, somewhat garish, highly polished oak and birch trimmed desk. Behind the desk sat the man who he was scheduled to operate on, a man who had only gone only by the pseudonym, ‘Bojangles’.

“Oh, good. You’re awake.” spoke the mystery man from behind his small fortress. “How are you feeling?”

Groggily, he pushed himself up easy on the sofa, and then swung his legs off to the side to sit upright — and he couldn’t help but notice that his palms hadn’t stuck to the lounger as they sought comfort to lie in his lap. Turning over his palms confirmed his suspicion: there, at the end of his wrist, was bone, blood, dermis, epidermis, nails and knuckles and hair… but no steel. Not one single fiber... He shot a wary, frightened look across the room to the man behind the imposingly wide desk.

“We’ve given you a drug that can stave off the metamorphosis, but only for a little while. You’ll likely need more soon.”

“metamorphosis?” Said Hickey weakly, with a voice around three pitches below the one he was accustom to.

“Yes. Congratulations, Sam Hickey. You’re evolving. And, very likely — if you’re anything like the others — dying. Rather painfully, I’d imagine. I’m so sorry.”

Hickey’s brow knotted.

Dying…?

Evolving…?

Others…!?

Hickey was at a loss. What was he to make of all this? Could he trust this man? This imposter, who’d drugged him, and kidnapped him, and brought him… here. Wherever the hell here was.

His lip twitched…

No. He had to get away. Surely his life was in danger. He shot a glance behind him, discovering the door, and sprang to his feet to dash toward it, quickly finding the floor — which was a surprising outcome…

Speaking relaxed and unhurried from behind him, the man said, “Try again in about ten minutes, the drug is an intense muscle relaxer. You’ll only hurt yourself otherwise.”

Though he couldn’t move to look, Hickey heard the voice of the man grow, and visualized his approach from behind the desk. Soon there was an easy hand snaking its way under his shoulders, which then helped him back up and into the comfort of the Chaise lounge. The man dragged a simple steel folding chair over from the corner of the room, and set it up to sit next to Hickey now.

“Here’s the deal,” Began Bojangles, an older, silver-eyed, bald-headed man, with liver spots and tired sunk-down eyes, wearing a sad, simple smile, “You can never go back to the world.”

Hickey’s eyes went wide, quavering.

“Now you’re a doctor, so I’m going to explain this under the assumption that you know the terms I’m about to use. Have you any questions, let me know at the end, and I will answer them with complete candor. I want you to know, that I am on your side. Alright?”

Hickey eased some, and nodded — knowing that without motor function, he didn’t have much other choice.

At least my mystery has a solution, he thought, …or at least an explanation.

“Very well.” Began Mr.Bojangles, before pausing to clear his throat from what sounded like a golf ball-sized lump of phlegm — which Hickey then involuntarily visualized kicking clear out of his mouth to land a Hole-In-One out the window, which didn’t exist, on a golf course he didn’t know was there.

It had awakened…

The demon yet lived…

It was merely coping with the soporific drug’s effects, itself…

Reaper_155

Bojangles continued, wholly ignorant to his own death and rebirth that had just transpired in the last second, “Lamarckism is true, and it stacks with Epigenetics. Your father, Ron, was a very hard worker, indeed… as was your mother, Diane. As a matter of fact, we followed your genealogy back to the middle ages, and found mostly scholars along the way. Long story short, you’ve tripped an evolutionary trigger. Something you did recently, I’d say about a week ago, maybe more, filled your RNA to capacity. The reaction you’re experiencing is your body’s response to a need for more storage space. An updating of the brain, as it were, which seems to uniformly take place in its oldest region: the Medulla Oblongata.”

Hickey just stared in awe, rapt at attention.

Feeling it was OK to proceed, Bojangles forged on ahead. “Psychologically speaking, who you are is not a single entity. You are the manifestation of three — well, mostly three — distinct personalities: each arising in the major regions of the brain. This happens in any sufficiently interconnected system, given enough time and exposure to the world; consciousness forms. Here is where the problem arises. Feeling itself falling into a death spiral… The brain stem has begun fighting back. The effects can normally be felt as psychotic hallucinations, paranoia, withdrawal from society, and extreme discomfort. Without fail, these symptoms will continue to get worse, and worse, until one day you will snap… and likely go on a killing spree. This is why we must remove you from society.”

Hickey blinked… Then blinked again. Nodding then, ever so slightly, for the man to continue.

“Right.”

Here, Bojangles took a deep breath. To Hickey, he seemed redolent to dive into this next bit. He steeled his mind as best he could to accept what was to come…

Bojangles went on, holding out his fist, “Here’s the deal.” slowly, he upturned his palm and opened his fingers in turn to reveal a tiny purple pill in his hand. “This is the medication we gave to you. It has the power to stop the changes. But there’s a catch. Ultimately, it’ll be your decision whether or not to take it.”

Summoning the whole of his lungs volume to formulate his words, Hickey took the bait, “What’s the catch?”.

“The medication will insure your sanity, granting you the ability to exist without all the pain and mental torture you’ve endured as of late. However, the way it does this is by attacking the culprit at the source… it will erode your Brain stem.”

“Meaning my heart…” Hickey ran short of breath.

“Will eventually stop, yes. And you will perish…. Years from now, though. Probably twenty, maybe more… I don’t know. It’s different for everyone.” He paused here, letting the last bit catch up fully, before moving on. “Moreover, and if I’ve extrapolated properly from your case file, the bit you’ll find most pertinent… because the drug is engineered to pass the blood brain barrier, the other regions of your brain will be subject to the same fate. Basically, your brain will deteriorate. You’ll be alive, yes, but you wont be yourself. We’ll take care of you, we’ll feed you, house you, clothe you, clean you — permit you endless entertainment — but what you must know before agreeing to taking this pill, is that you will cease being who you presently are. But, from what I can gather, this option is far preferable to the alternative; remaining who you are, yes, but being all the while trapped in your mind, as your reptile brain tries to take over, and you journey along the hellfire on a spiraling journey to certain madness…”

Again, all Hickey could do was blink. This was unacceptable. Inconceivable. How could he, or anyone for that matter, willingly give up their humanity just… to be alive. Some lump on a couch with a TV… All that had ever mattered to him was improving himself, and helping others — he’d never even invested the time in someone else to have a meaningful relationship — his brain had always taken precedence… and here he sat, numb, lost, and facing nothing but a choice to give all that up… Meanwhile, in this perspective, he still had so much living to do.

He’d left so much undone in his life…

Ann’s beautiful face flashed before his eyes…

A single tear rolled toward the tip of her attractive, aquiline nose…

His ire at the prospect gave him the strength to speak, “You said I had a choice. This… this is no choice. Nobody would take that offer.”

Bojangles looked to the floor, rubbing at the back of his head with his free hand, “Everyone has taken the offer. Give it time… The pain will return, and you’ll remember why it is that you’re here, speaking with me.”

And it was true. Even as the air passed his lips, a meager flare-up, no larger than a pimple, was forming at the base of Hickey’s skull. Already he could feel it grow. Had all the others actually chosen mental suicide, he wondered? It seemed rather hard to believe, being that these individuals, like him, had reached this end due to a generationally passed down passion for knowledge. Could he really take the comfort of death, over the pain of living?

His mind was made up.

He reached out for Bojangles, lithe, arthritic hand…

And closed the man’s delicate fingers back around the pill.

“I refuse” Said Hickey plainly. “I choose knowledge. I choose myself over some lifeless husk. Even if that means constant torture…”

Bojangles looked up from the floor, and searched throughout Hickey’s eyes for even the briefest glimmer of doubt –smiling broadly when he found that none existed.

“We’ll have to cut you off from the world — you know that don’t you? If you continue learning, you’ll only accelerate the process.”

“All I require is paper, and pen” Explained Hickey, “I will make it to the other side of this… if even that place exists.”

“There is no evidence to that fact…” Explained Bojangles, the hope in his eyes and inflection to his voice mismatched to the words implication.

“Regardless… I want you to observe me. I believe that, over time, being that I now know what it is that ails me, I can conquer this…” And, as he made the claim, almost as a test, a fresh hallucination was unfolding before his eyes — Bojangles made for a very uncomfortable trench-coat, as it turned out… however, Hickey moved on. “I will do my best to document my experience, and I hope, over time, you may come to trust me enough to permit me back into society.”

Now it was Bojangles who could only blink… And with the heavy crease at his eyes, it was nary unnoticeable. Eventually, he said “Very well. The choice is yours, after all.”. Suddenly light poured in from the now open portal behind them, and two imposing men carrying shackles came to stand behind them. “You’re a braver man than me, Sam Hickey. You may always change your mind…”

“I’d like that option to be taken off the table.” Said, Hickey, cutting him off. “Who knows what I’ll say under duress?”

Bojangles looked him over, saying eventually, “Fine. That’s fine. Of course you’d say that. It’s not protocol, but… I’ll make certain that it’s so.” The both of them stood, and embraced, like old friends, before the security detail began to gently bind Hickey’s limbs.

“And… Sam?”

“Yeah?”

“Good luck.”

“Thanks” he said, while being escorted out the door. Adding, beyond Bojangles sight, while walking down the hall and toward a padded cell. “It’ll never win you friends — but somebody’s always got to be the first, before anything can ever move forward.”

Bojangles wished for something to say, something that may carry this brave man through the harrowing years that were sure to come, but failed before the sheer intimidation of what this all represented. Instead, here merely fell to his hands and knees, knowing this to be all too true.

"Thank you..."

He whispered, “Thank you”, just before hearing the bolt of Sam’s cell drive home.

“Thank you…”

“Good luck…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks for your time, everyone.

Hope you enjoyed the read.

Opinions are relished.

Have a great day.

~J

Salutations, superb supercilious simians!

How’s it hanging? Short shriveled and always to the left?

(I know, I know — a monkey throwback joke AND a “Liar, Liar” reference — 2 jokes in the first 10 words..! There, there *hugs you into my bountiful bosom* I know. It’s going to be all right. I know. Welcome home…)

I had been reading a wonderfully thorough, thoughtful, and honest account of a scientists changed perspective, surrounding whats happening to the brain while on psychedelic drugs, over on Reddit recently… hang on, lemme find the link… — HERE — and it really got me to thinking about all the unique compositions that our brains must take, enabling us to perform certain complex tasks. That line of thinking led me down yet another rabbit hole, circumscribing a series of questions surrounding one central idea, I.E.: what exotic and unique combinations of neuronal activity have we, as a species, yet to stumble upon… and what might these altered states allow us to do. Think of functional autism… Know how some days you’re the man? While others may find you boulder shouldered with a clipped tongue? What if you had a choice? The ability to shift gears, as it were — at will.

What else may you gain control over..?

Taking all this to its logical end, (and if you’re following my insanity at all up to this point, you deserve a gold star), I began my daily writing… and worked my way backwards from there…. I sure hope you enjoy.

~J

“The Day her life began”

Time retreated back to the unknown depths from whence it came.

The very fabric of the universe was undone.

God had been slain…

“BLAM”

"..."

“…”

The barrel rolled. The tension released. The hammer flew. Somewhere nearby, a universe sprang into existence which would support a host of tinkerers, gunsmiths, and engineers of myriad persuasions.

Slowly, with holy reverence, she lifted the pistol which now lay by her side, and greeted the frigid barrel with rattly, unsure teeth. Her tongue, acting of its own accord, probed the metallic stranger before reeling back frightened — arched as a hissing cat back in the furthermost recesses of the uncannily parched cavity. Tentatively she squeezed at the trigger, observing, with silent admiration, the hammers smooth and precising draw: a simple, momentary, accidental homage to the beauty of design.

No, this she couldn’t handle. This was the domain of wiser people, not her: some drug-addict waste of a life. She knew what had to be done…

There was no other choice. She’d never even wanted a child, (even when it easily could’ve changed her life with any one of over a dozen men…), the responsibility, she knew, would simply be more than her fragile psyche could support. The very thought of it paralyzed her — let alone pondering the mothering of full fresh galaxies, worlds, and people… Even now new forms of life, from the accidental warblings of her imaginative mind, sprang up all around her as her thoughts raced — neatly bifurcating into both matter and antimatter before disappearing into the thin ether all around, phasing down into their proper dimensions; the only stable places where they could grow, evolve, and prosper. Somehow, intrinsically, she knew all this.

……. I AM GOD!

It had all begun innocuously enough. Another night fleeing in desperate fear from her potential — she had come to terms with this cold reality some time ago, a brief silver lining to her staunch and stubborn nature, which otherwise had only served to deliver her precisely where was — chasing the bottom of an aged oak stock, paired with much smoke, and, the real culprit she’d now realized, the psychedelic mushrooms… Without that particular happenstance catalyst, she peevishly postulated, the seed of that thought would never have taken root in her. Sulking now, she wished she’d attributed, like all the others, that feeling of, “oneness with everything” to lend undeniable credence toward the thought of an all-encompassing God. But, no. Evidently her troublesome mind, and its own meddling realization here, was destined to grasp a truth so potentially devastating in its scope, that it threatened to destroy everything and everyone

Realizations, echoed on hollowed, tinny voices from ever-changing corners of her skull, began relaying a rapid fire series of truths directly into her psychological matrix. “The mind cannot exist in a state that the machinery itself cannot manifest, or support.”, They began. “Thus, every human experience hinges on all the exotic, common, and influenced ways that the brains neurons fire. It follows than, that reality starts between your ears, and extends to a world made up of nearly nothing. So why, if the potential exists, could not ones own thoughts manifest into the physical?”

So now, drawing on her studies of satellite imagery and maps of late, Melissa exploded upward on a rocket, quickly traversing the rotted roof over the abandoned squat, effortlessly accepting the house, block, town, and, before long, the entirety of New York state into her very being, just as soon as these things came into view. States seamlessly became Countries. Countries rapidly swelled to Continents. Continents yielded to the oceans, and jutted up once more upon the opposing shores. Before long, the entirety of the planet itself was in her game. She lived in it for a time, patiently breathing and letting her soul expand to fill the void. Finally now, as the full soul of the planet, she conceived a beam of energy, originating from the earths molten core, flowing outward as an explosive band — outward in every direction, out into the furthest regions of space… pulsating… feeling… expanding far beyond distances her human mind could ever hope to grasp… until, of its own accord, the feeling eased to a stop, draining her mind completely. Then, after an indeterminate amount of time had passed, one whispering thought, peeking its head into the whitewashed room of her mind and then passing the threshold with its head held high, tiptoed graciously, comfortably, across her state of zen: “If the theory she’d designed, in lieu of the divine line of reasoning, were true, and she could think her way into the proper mindset while sober, the true configuration of the universal fabric would become her reality”. Surely there would be answers there to glean.

Breathing solely through her nostrils, attention focused only on her breath, Melissa attempted to embrace the air flowing across her exposed flesh. She languished over the sensation, imposed only at first, that her skin had begun to radiate at its edge — blending with the world around her in the strange, love imbued way she could still vaguely recall from the night only just passed. Suddenly, somehow, she felt she’d accepted the surprisingly plush, tattered and stained red terry-cloth carpet as part of her expanding aura. She accepted its blemishes, they became endearing. She accepted its limitations, and became its friend. Imagining that each and every fiber, each and every strand, had now become an extension of her own body, made it so. Then, moving on, she perceived the tangible breeze licking heavily over her corporeal form, and the wind too became part of her energy, its trajectory acknowledged and absorbed by her creeping, steadfast awareness. It danced through limber, forest-like woolen passages below, darting to and fro, and tickling freshly raw and delicate nerves by the million. Before long, she found she was both aware of every distinct object in the room, and also, without a glimmer of doubt, certain that they were also an intractable part of herself.

She sat down, neatly crossed her legs, upturned her palms, and began to make her best attempt at meditation.

Melissa’s eyes cracked open, panic-stricken in her post sleep drug induced hypnagogic haze, deeply frightened, and ailed by amnesia as to where she was. Quickly scanning the dilapidated room, she soon identified the three lifeless bodies slung over the random bug infested, water-rot, furniture they’d together dragged into the squat from the curb the night before — fellow junkies, people she was calling, “friends” these days. Her heart went back to base from snare, and, as the vice subsided, the memory of the night before flooded back in full. Immediately she knew, the feeling had remained after all. Today was surely the day she’d have the strength to face the one thing that frightened her most — her own mind. Finally she could begin fresh. At last she’d stare down her demons, one-by-one, determine their vulnerabilities, and strike without mercy. This time, without fail, she would move on. This time she could get to the core of it all, her own subconscious, and finally address the fear. Whatever it was, fortified in the back of her mind, it couldn’t hurt her anymore. No, not today. Today, she would live — really live! — believing in her own potential to be great, and ability to achieve whatever she truly desired from life. By the time she got up, her life would truly begin…

Dear, good-natured, sweet and gentle readers…


…The host of this blog has deceived you!

That’s right, and GASP you should!

See, this Jared guy sure puts up a nice front, acting all wizened and caring and whatnot, but he never fooled me! No sir, not for a second! Well maybe ONE brief second, I did discover him by reading and following his blog after all, but not for a second longer than that initial second… which was an inordinately brief second to begin with! (I swear!) He’s not some nice dude, concerned about your happiness and well-being — NO — he’s a sham! A rouse. A villain! A vampiric siphon for your digitized web traffic and time, operating solely to further his own dastardly and duplicitous motives!

(Go on, have another GASP!)

Who am I, you say? What proof do I have? Well, for security’s sake, let’s just call me a concerned citizen. Someone tired of all the BS. And on behalf of all of us subject to said BS, and in order to seek out the truth behind this tyrannical monster, I’ve broken into his home in Astoria, Queens and am perusing his bedroom. I know, the irony’s not lost on me. It’s just that, well, someone needed to learn the truth, and learn the truth I have!

Firstly, I have to say, this place is a mess! Papers everywhere, scattered about without cohesion, dirty dishes stacked irregularly along the floor, hand-written pages with hastily scrawled and satanic looking images taped all about the walls, a pair of wooden nunchaku left abandoned on the bed alongside stacks of dirty clothes (one, a canary yellow button up, has blood splattered all across the fabric…) and, possibly the most ominous and disturbing facet to this whole incongruous scene — a lifeless parrot hangs helplessly upside-down, forgotten, serving as a misbegotten gate-keeper to lead you through the portal which is his bedroom door…

He’s named it “Nolon Effe”, two palindromes. Curious, that… Remnants from what I believe was a pirate party held here at his apartment… Curiouser and Curiouser…

Does this seem like the type of place an honest, caring man would keep!?

I would think not. You, his good-natured, gentle and sweet readers, deserve better than this. I know you think that he’s preaching about pacifism, love, creativity, openness and well intended insanity on here, but, trust me, it’s only a matter of time until his subtle brainwashing technique kicks in, and he’s got you walking the ole’ zombie shuffle up toward capitol hill. Still not convinced? Well, let’s have a look-see at his calendar than, shall we?

Oh — what’s this? Knife class? Fight lab?

That’s right. Sounds mighty peaceful, doesn’t it? For the last month your ‘enlightened’ author, who wont shut-up about creation, love, invention and non-violence, has, every Wednesday night, taken a two and a half hour course with knives, at a place called Combat, Inc. A knife is a very personal weapon, readers, and one which requires you to fully embrace and acknowledge the pain that you are about to inflict on another person… sounds rather violent, wouldn’t you say? Psychotic, even. Furthermore, every Tuesday and Sunday, he has his calendar marked with something he’s calling, “Fight Lab”. I wonder what could that be? Do you suppose he kicks cute little Labrador puppies? Fight Lab(rador)!?!? Oh, I bet that’s it… and every Tuesday and Sunday too!

ThE MoNsTeR!

Oh wait — crap — someone’s coming! I hear keys jingling just outside the door. Now someone’s slid one into the tumbler! Ahh, oh no! There’s no more time! I have to go, gentle readers… but remember, FOR ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY IN THE WORLD, stay away from this creepoid! For, after all these lies, who knows what he’s truly capable of?!

And I’m off!

………………………………

………………………..

…………………

(Screw it, I’m stealing Nolon Effe!)

……………

………

…..

..

.

OK then…

So, wow, yea… uh, hey guys. It’s me, J, now. Evidently some nut-job, some sunflower loving fan, broke into my house while I was away at the dentist today, and left, not only this crazy rant on my blog, as you can plainly see up above, but also tons of bar-b-que flavored sunflower shells all over my floor. WTF!? He also stole my prop shoulder parrot. Double WTF!? Who steals a shoulder parrot, I mean really? Nolon, was the man! He’s irreplaceable! Ugh… Plus, evidently, he broke my window during his hasty escape.. Seriously, what is wrong with people? You think I have the money to replace that? I’ll give you a clue……… NO. Why don’t you all go ahead and take a wild guess at, “who has two thumbs and will be eating salad for a month so he can pay for a busted window?”

Yea, that would be me… on both accounts.

But, whoever he was, he wasn’t completely off…

I haven’t been completely honest with you all, and I’m a bit ashamed that it’s taken all this insanity to make me come clean… I — aside from genuinely believing in unilateral love, cooperation, hard work, and general pacifism — am a fighter.

As a child I’d studied multiple forms of martial arts, and, as I got older, I traded my know-how with a good friend who was a boxer, picking up some of that. My years in school were not kind to me; I was picked on a good deal — leading to at least a fight or two a week. Yea, that many… Most of these I lost, I did not like to hurt others and so I held back what I knew, but I did learn how to end a fight without landing a blow, and how to take a beating without being hurt — mighty valuable skills in and of themselves.

I then became a wrestler in hopes to advance my physical capabilities further, finding that I was rather talented at it too. I took a few tournaments, pinned plenty of people who were purportedly out of my league, and had a damn good time while I was at it. Also, as my confidence grew and as rumor of my winning circulated, I was picked on less. I guess no-one wanted a ‘fair fight’ after all, just lunch money.

But, after six years in the sport, during which I had moderate successes in all three styles of wrestling, I began to feel that I no longer had to worry about fighting. And, being that it was so tied to a negative memory from my past, I was more than ready to let it go too. I’d learned plenty about self-defense by then in my life, and, because of why I’d begun to learn, I worried that it would only be detrimental to my psyche if I kept moving forward. Who wants to have their history solely dictate their future? Not me. No sir. So, even though I enjoyed the sport, I hung up my violence cap once and for all (or so I thought), and took, instead, to the sanctity and freedom of the stage.

I should’ve seen this coming…

I mean, what did I expect? A whole chapter of my life to just… disappear? Sure I’d left fighting and the whole physical aspect of myself in the past, (where I’d thought it belonged), but my body knew, all along the years that preceded this stoppage, that something was missing…

So I kept in shape, I couldn’t really tell you why, and not the, “Look how much I can bench-press”, rounded shape, which some guys prefer, but rather the, “I can do hand-springs, back-bends, and a whole bunch of push-ups” shape — practical stuff only, nothing just to look flashy. I never had the biggest biceps, but I took first place in a college arm wrestling tournament with my dominant arm, and second place with my non-dominant one. It’s still, to this day, one of the first images that comes up when you Google me ;-).

But why, right? Why bother? Well — I liked it. I knew this. I liked being physical. However, simultaneously, I denied myself of this same pleasure in order to ensure that I was pursuing it only for the right reasons. I never wanted to be anything like the kids who used to harass me, enjoying violence for the manipulation and fear that it could create in others. And so still, all throughout college, I ignored anything physical — even when it came to cooking up some good Theater, my major, despite it’s inevitable healthy dash of Stage Combat.

Now fast forward eight years — to my accidental encounter with Fight Lab.

“Lab”, as in laboratory. As in the way that Dexter says it.

Firstly, the sunflower jerk was wrong in his assumption. Fight lab is not at all about punting Labrador puppies, (nor full-grown ones for that matter), it is about taking fighting to the laboratory. A dash of this, a hint of that, stir it all up and see what works. Now this is not to be confused with “Fight Club”, for, if it were that, I’d be breaking the first rule by even writing all this (and Brad Pitt would already have a lackey en-route to deal with me). No, this is Lab; a controlled environment where a group of talented people get together twice a week to geek out on all that is fighting for stage and film.

For me, my involvement began when I met one of the fighters, Dina, by chance on a film I was doing for a friend: Sweethearts; a film made for Valentines day, about just how screwed up love can be at times (I’ll try to tuck a link in here later so you can watch it). Throughout the day of shooting we got close, as actors tend to do, and I told her about some of my past in combat.

“Well than you should come to lab tonight”, she said offhandedly.

“Sure” I said, without really thinking much about it.

See, I thought I was being polite by agreeing, I’d not really expected to go, but she thought, (cause why shouldn’t she), that I was serious. Now, you have to understand, Dina’s the type of person who could sell Ice to an Eskimo, Sand to an Egyptian, Funk to Parliament Funkadelic, and so, despite my objections post filming, even after no sleep and a thirteen hour shoot day, I found myself running home to Queens as soon as we wrapped to go grab some workout gear.

Yea, she’s that good.

What can I say — I got hooked. It’s been every Tuesday and Sunday now since I’d worked with Dina back in early February, and I wouldn’t give it up for the World. The people there are all hard-working, honest and real, easily the first group of genuine friends I’ve had since moving to the city all those years ago, and, under their tutelage, I’ve been chasing away my own private demons. It’s exactly why I took that knife class the sunflower bandit highlighted too, to support my growing knowledge of choreographed combat. So you see, gentle, good-natured readers, I am NOT — contrary to sunflower-boy’s claims — a violent person. I am just one who enjoys exploring the potential for the human body. It’s just another form of creative obsession, and, let me tell you, there is plenty to be obsessed about over at Lab. Check us out!

Here on the blog for the Deranged and Enlightened, we often talk about breaking out of our comfort zones in an attempt to keep growing as a person — so what kind of hypocrite would I be if I kept running from my past? In Lab we choreograph, rehearse, and then film a new fight each and every night, and, though I still get butterfly’s when I have to hit someone, I am slowly getting accustom to the practice. Hold the pencil. Punch the parrot. Sell the strike. This stuff is fun incarnate.

It’s not all just for fun either…

…These guys have a master plan, and one which has already been initiated. If we get our way, we’ll be the guys and gals that flood your movies, TV shows, and stages, heralding in a truer type of combat for all to enjoy. As a matter of fact, the timing of this break-in couldn’t be more fortuitous, (that is, if any break in which resulted in a stolen parrot and a broken window could honestly be labelled fortuitous), as the group, CKT (Contact Kick Therapy) has just released their first Commercial! I joined a little too late to be a part of this glorious foray, but I’m just so gosh-darned impressed with the product that they’ve put out for “The Baconery”, a bakery where everything is made with — yep, you guessed it — BACON, that I couldn’t resist sharing.

Now I’ve really got to run, it is Tuesday night after all, and now that my deep dark secret is out you all know exactly where I’m headed (plus I still have to clean up all this glass before I go…), but, please, go on over to You-Tube and “thumbs up”, as well as “Favorite” this video, as it greatly helps us as a group.

Thanks everyone,

Let me know what you think in the comments 😉

And, sunflower man, if you’re reading this… please bring back Nolon. I miss him dearly.

~J

We see only what’s in front of us…

Cute... no?

…And even then, only what we’ve told our feet to carry us toward. Choice and conviction, too, play their roles at the behest of your own personal direction. Something must physically change, than, in order to view what lies beyond the boundaries of our peripheral — but at least that remains an option.

So how might one begin to look within?

Should we place our faith solely in others? Depending on them to focus our peevish perceptions of the world and ourselves — or is there another way? Can we learn who it is that we are, somehow, on our own, and yet still be free from bias?

I believe we can.

It might be my youthful naiveté, but I have been convinced, for quite some time now, that the self can be known — though it takes a preternatural resolve towards the necessary work, and, even then, years. First and foremost: Honesty. Honesty with ourselves, and, as well, honesty with others. Before we go spreading “information”, which, truthfully, when is unproven, is nothing more than mere rumor, we must know that what we’ve heard or seen was true — and not merely an illusion…

Looks like you're the butt of the joke. Bet you didn't see that crack coming! 🙂

There is a passage in the Pulitzer prize willing, John Patrick Shanley play, entitled, “Doubt”, that I always return to in my mind when I think on the concepts of rumor and gossip, which speaks volumes, as well, as to what havoc they reap on our own psyche, along with others’.

It reads,

VI

Father Flynn, in blue and white vestments, is at the pulpit.

Flynn: A woman was gossiping with a friend about a man she hardly knew — I know none of you have ever done this — and that night she had a dream. A great hand appeared over her and pointed down at her. She was immediately seized with an overwhelming sense of guilt. The next day she went to confession. She got the old parish priest, Father O’Rouke, and she told him the whole thing. “Is gossiping a sin?” she asked the old man. “Was that the Hand of God Almighty pointing a finger at me? Should I be asking your absolution? Father, tell me, have I done something wrong?” (Irish brogue) “Yes” Father O’Rouke answered her. “Yes, you ignorant, badly brought-up female! You have borne false witness against your neighbor, you have played fast and loose with his reputation, and you should be heartily ashamed!” So the woman said she was sorry and asked forgiveness. “Not so fast!” says O’Rouke. “I want you to go home, take a pillow up on your roof, cut it open with a knife, and return here to me!” So she went home, took the pillow off her bed, a knife from the drawer, went up the fire escape to the roof, and stabbed the pillow. Then she went back to the old preist as instructed. “Did you gut the pillow with the knife?” he says. “Yes, Father.” “And what was the result?” “Feathers,” she said. “Feathers?” he repeated. “Feathers everywhere, Father” “Now I want you to go back and gather up every last feather that flew out on to the wind!” “Well,” she says, “it can’t be done. I don’t know where they went. The wind took them all over.” “And that,” said Father O’Rouke, “is gossip!” In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Fly, my pretties!

How many feathers have we all cast to the wind over the years?

If you’re anything like me, quite a bit. Embellishment makes for better stories. You instantly become more affable, enigmatic, and entertaining — but, at what cost? In my humble opinion, the feathers that are impossible to reign in which, in the parable, have graced the townsfolk’s ears, are similarly released into your mind whenever you’re not honest with yourself. And soon, if not held in firm check, when you release enough, you’ll find that your living in delusion. Or, rather, you wont. Sometimes you get so deep in the rabbit hole that you can forget that you’d ever gone down it at all…

This is why the self, and knowledge of it, is paramount.

It’s about growth. It’s about improvement. It’s about getting better. You simply can not grow if you cover up your failures from yourself. When you spin lies you become blinded to what is, what can be, and the work — as, there is ALWAYS WORK — required to get there. Blind as you will be, you won’t find the road, and, if you do, you won’t be able to recognize the path anyway to your true happiness. You will forever walk a twisted path of your assumed success, miserable, for some untold reason, with every gaining step.

Surely this is not the way

However, and again, it is possible that all this is just my 28-year-old, unrelentingly child like, naiveté talking (It’s an admission I must make if I hope to believe my own words), but I am skeptical. I’ve been doing my best to relay information honestly, to others as well as myself, for a while now, and though it’s not won me many accolades, nor hoards of acquaintances, it has brought me into some meaningful relationships, of which I would not sacrifice for the world.

In any case this is all very personal, and unique to each of us individually. There is a journey to be taken when searching for the self. An expedition I’m still on, say thank’ya. But I feel that this is the real fun of life. The meat of it. Simply: the path.

It wont be easy, cleaning the mirror we face — but what award would be worth it’s shimmer without a fight? And when you feel down, or lost, or simply out of gas — which you will, if you’re driving at the path with everything you’ve got (as you should) — a good Quote will always be there to remind you of who you are, or at least of how to remember. This is why most quotes revolve around The Self, and this is why I’d like to share with you all my quotes on the subject as well.

The Self

People who base decisions on one factor alone cannot possibly understand the matter at hand. — Jan 1st, 2012

There are no absolutes — only a spot on a spectrum within your own private perspective. If held in mind, this makes life easier to bear. — Dec 21st, 2011

Verbal or mental judgement of others is an obvious and ugly reflection of the self. Don’t judge others — change yourself. Lead by example. — Dec 26th, 2011

If you overly concern yourself with the adventures of others, you will never experience any for yourself. Live or observe — those are the choices — Dec 26th, 2011

The only thing you will ever regret learning, is nothing. – Feb 21st, 2012

When people use words to hold you at bay; to bring you down, make you small and incite a bad day — remember then this one shining truth: You’re fine, they’re in pain and their salvation relies on you — Dec 30th, 2011

You might have the best idea in the world, but present it poorly and no one will notice. If you’ve worked hard, than you’ve earned faith in yourself, and it’s not hubris. – Feb 18th, 2012

A life led in pursuit of understanding the self, is a self that’s lived misunderstanding life. Be good, be, then — be happy. — Jan 2nd, 2012

Health should be regarded as existing in three distinct places: Your body, your mind, and your awareness — all essential, and each no more important than the other. — Jan 3rd, 2012

It’s not everyone’s destiny to be great. Some are destined to be mediocre, to be worthless, pathetic and scared, and some, the smart ones, forge their own paths, knowing that destiny is highly overrated. — Jan 9th, 2012

Inspiration leads to Creativity, Creativity becomes Invention, and Invention lends itself to Inspiration — Thus is the wheel of life.
If you can’t find your place on the wheel of life, well, than — You’re not living it. — Jan 21st, 2012

Discernment above instinct is all that has made us man. Never sacrifice who you are for a group, as you yield to the very thing which has made you. – Jan 17th, 2012

When presented with opportunity, never ask, “why?” — that road leads only to excuses. Instead, try, “why not?”. – March 7th, 2012

Never sacrifice your own uniqueness in order to worship someone else’s. – Feb 28th, 2012

~J

People and Politics,

Both just reflections of the state of our world…

… or, possibly, just the state of our own minds. One’s considered a dirty word, a thing taboo; not breached lightly nor often in public, and the other IS the public itself, often dirty and taboo too, in its own way. You have to be nice, in public. Empathetic. You have to recognize, in an instant, a whole other system of belief and boundary (one you may or may not agree with…), and partake in a delicate, sort of, ‘push and pull’ in order to achieve anything — which can be exhausting. Particularly if you’re anything like me, and wish that we’d all just judge a little slower and love a little faster.

“How does all this relate to quotes?”, I hear you ask…

(Quiet back there — I’m getting to it!)

Jeez, give a guy a second…

OK. See, here’s the thing… Generally, quotes deal solely with the self. “Bring about change from within”, they’ll say. “Learn to do what you know to be best”. “Listen to your heart”… Now, and without doubt, all this, very good advice, would be wise (and easy to heed), were we to live atop an isolated mountain, feasting upon the bits of shrubbrage that popped up about our unwashed, untrimmed and likely calloused, lotus crossed feet. But — and I know… I’m going out on a limb here — I’m willing to bet that nobody reading this is a Mountain Yogi. I happen to know there’s terrible reception up there. I’m willing to bet that if you’re reading this, than, A) you have a computer (yes, wise-ass back there, I hear you again… smartphones are computers though — so please put your hand back down.) B) you have access to the internet, and C) you MUST interact with people, in one way or another, on a daily basis — which can seriously muck up that whole Zen thing you’ve got going on. Unless, that is, you take some time to seriously consider your own philosophy as it pertains to, “homo-erects interconnectedness”.

Hence; People and Politics.

The real, "Angry Birds". (Sorry Rovio.)

See, jack-ass back there, told you I was going somewhere with all this — now go sit in the corner.

Now, and don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to discredit quotes, or internal philosophy in general with what I’m saying here, quite the contrary actually. It is very important to work on the self, as, to others, you too are people, and while interacting your engaging with them in politics whether you like it or not. Thus, you first must be whole from within to properly function in society. However, that alone is simply not enough. You must consider more!

“When will the thinking stop!?”

Alright, , that’s it, enough interruptions out of you — to the principles office with ya!

No, no, leave the dunce cap on!

You go now!

You go now, you been here for hour!

Phew…

Sorry about that… It’s just SO distracting. Now, where was I?

Crap.

Great. Now I forget…

Well that’s just wonderful! Oh well, I’ve got to get off to work anyway. Just imagine I wrapped this all up beautifully and had some brilliant segway into the reason I’m regaling you all with quotes about People and Politics today. I trust you cool, creative peeps got the gist of all this by now anyway.

(Oh, and just a heads up, the blog will return to normal after this weekend, as I’m finally done (for now), with my recent, ‘Crazy-busy’ job. So, soon enough, I’ll be back on topic, and off this string of quotes. Just one more set to go after this.)

And now, without further ado (what the hell is an “Ado” anyway… crap, this is more ‘ado’. I lied! NOOO!!!), I give to you, (That rhymed. Huh…) People and Politics!!!

People/Politics:

Always be grateful for those in your life who know you best, yet still — somehow — manage to love you. — Dec 23rd, 2011

Changing yourself for others, so long as you’re aware of it, is not necessarily indicative of a weak individual – rather, an empathetic one. — Dec 31st, 2012

When you care about someone, in part, it’s because you see a bit of yourself in them. This is precisely why when things go awry you feel so very mad, it’s as if you’ve let yourself down… However, accepting the truth in this alleviates all pains — as rather than causing dissonance, it should highlight the beautiful dividing line between you and another unique individual. — Jan 14th, 2012

Much like making love, life has its ups and its downs — and if you medicate your way through you’ll never finish happy. — Jan 5th, 2012

“Power” is having leverage over others and using that leverage as you see fit.
“True Power” is having that same leverage over others but only using it when it is right. — Jan 23rd, 2012

Ah blanket assumptions, how warm your embrace. Yet, one would be wise to prepare for the shocking cold that is sure to come once the veil is lifted. — Jan 7th, 2012

When someone’s done something wrong, and you call BS, they will generally fight twice as hard to convince you that the lie is true. When this happens, take pity — as their need to maintain the illusion is all that remains of their reality. — Jan 7th, 2012

True wisdom is hard-earned; it begins with study, the acquisition of voluminous knowledge based in fact, and manifests over time, with empathy — this is the only mark of a worthy leader. This is why talking down to others as a means of asserting dominance will always be nothing but laughable. You would like us to believe that you are better than us, that you should have the right to rule us, to lead us, and your means of expressing this is by belittling us? A true leader, despite the fact that they are likely more knowledgeable than their subjects, inspires — for they are worthy of their ranking, and they know it. The only motivating factor for using fear in rule is the desire to keep someone in their place. In truth, it is a fear of competition and a fear of toppling from a precarious throne.
Only someone uncertain of their power would wish to publicly reinforce it. — Feb 20th, 2012

When you step back and look at the big picture, everyone’s there — It’s just all a little bit fuzzy. It’s then your job to ensure that you come into focus. — Jan 20th, 2012

Learn to identify and love the similarities between yourself and your fellow-man, rather than striving to seek out and loathe the differences. We are only as alike as you are willing to see: exactly. — Jan 9th, 2012

Empathy is all that binds us as a people. Without it you may become rich, powerful, and quite successful indeed, but when you do you tear apart society at it’s very seems. — Jan 12th, 2012

Who do white-lies said for comfort, comfort?
If the liar knows what’s true, and the one being lied to does as well, isn’t this all just a whole lot of wasted effort? — Jan 19th, 2012

Not wanting to feel depressed is not an acceptable reason to stick your head in the sand — it’s selfishness in its purest form. — Dec 31st, 2011

Because we have created an ‘industry’, for all intents and purposes, where an individual has to work their entire life toward the goal of ruling over the masses, which also necessitates that they be fully convinced, all the while, that they are the best prepared in the world to do so, we should expect, than, that the type of person this system attracts to possess an unhealthy tendency towards narcissism and delusion; as these are the only traits which could possibly convince someone of something so far from the truth. Therefore, individuals who seek out and actively desire this type of power, are, quite literally, the last people in the world who should ever obtain it. — Dec 11th, 2011

Before people fight — with words, wars, or fists — they should be forced to break not bread, but dark chocolate. Let’s see you swing with your eyes lolling into the back of your head like that! (Ritter Sport Marzipan is recommended!!) — Dec 20th, 2011

~J