The Aeneids

“The fallacy was obvious. It presupposed that somewhere or other, outside oneself, there was a ‘real’ world where ‘real’ things happened. But how could there be such a world? What knowledge have we of anything, save through our own minds? All happenings are in the mind. Whatever happens in all minds, truly happens.”

George Orwell, 1984

 

April Fourteenth

WHILE I WAS WORKING SOMETHING HAD BEEN GROWING INSIDE ME. It had been too subtle for me to immediately notice. Deep inside myself something horrible was brewing. When I closed my eyes, late at night, I could hear it, the sound of metal scraping against bone, my innards caught between the friction like hapless victims trapped in the molten heap of a car crash. Within the dark caverns of my body, I could hear the sound of something terrible emerging, veins rising out of the earth, reaching up and around telephone poles, slowly pulling them down. Quietly, the earth plotted its revenge.’

Those sentences are from the journals I wrote when I had first started working again after my term at the Ministry of Corrections[1], when I’d hit the ground running, the nine-to-five, the rat race, the vicious circle, the eternal return. I held myself in check then. Held the burnished glow of my former self tightly to my chest like a freshly shellacked violin. I thought of myself as the odd man out, the man against the masses, the ghost in the machine, the pale hero. History replays itself. First as truth, then as farce. That way you laugh on your way down.

Most of my good material is in my journals, but I’ve never let anyone read them, even though I quote myself in dialogues all of the time. My golden vocation. The auspicious indefatigable words of an irrelevant professional. I was wide-awake. Now you’ll most likely catch me yawning at my post. Most people don’t seem to notice they’re in the company of talent, not in the least bit! I smirk wide when I allude to my journals.

[1] Aeneas Ashbridge was released from the Ministry of Corrections after a two-year sentence for sexual misconduct under Thatcher’s Rosebush Act.

April Sixteenth

I was on the balcony on the eighth-floor of my apartment building at the Asphodel Meadows,[1] fogging up the air in front of me with my cavity breath. There were grottos in my teeth deep enough for gremlins of all manner. My mouth was a clubhouse for trolls and imps and ogres. Nearby, a solitary bird utterred strange clicks and vague human-sounding noises. The elephantine billboard at the street corner[2] said in giant caramel-colored letters:

THINGS ARE GOING TO BE OK

The most famous drink in the world and the OK Kola Company[3] still hounds the populace with their inane, browbeating, catch-phrases. The new OK Mousse is coming soon with twice the creamy taste of the original. Things are going to be OK. This world is conspiring to keep me from my beloved. I haven’t seen Heloise in nearly three years. She left me behind and I don’t know where she has gone. Her family won’t speak to me. They won’t answer my phone calls. They threaten to call the authorities if I knock on their door. I’ve run into a brick wall. She’s not listed anywhere. Doesn’t show up to any of our old hangouts. None of our old friends have seen her. They also tell me to let sleeping dogs lie. Do they mispeak? They are not begotten from love. I look for her in the day. I look for her in the night. I look for her in my dreams. And it is there that I come closest to finding her. There are clues to her whereabouts in my dreams. But they mutate between my fingers. Metamorphose as I’m inspecting them. Black is white. Up is down. Nothing is what it seems.    

A rotten gust of wind brushed my sleeve. It was a new day and things should have been OK but they were not. Everything smelled old and stale. I remember I used to try believing that every day was a new beginning and that everyone could start over if they really wanted. I didn’t have to be me and that guy down there, Chuck, the homeless guy, didn’t have to be a pile of rags on the sidewalk of Broadview Avenue. I remember how hard I tried to believe the motto that ‘everything could become new.’ Tall book talk! Everything I held dear depended on that wisdom.

The sky was gray. The air smelled like everything in the Narrows[4] all at once. I knew this smell well. It smelled like yesterday.

[1] Located on Broadview Avenue, the eight-storey high rise was built in 1945 by Morguard Real Estate in a neo-austere fashion.

[2] Located at the intersection of Broadview and Mortimer, the billboard faces northwest at a forty-five degree angle. Otto Normalverbraucher designed the advertisement for the iAM Corporation in 2000.

[3] The “OK Kola” formula was invented by pharmacologist Mason Oppenheimer in 1882 and widely used as a nerve tonic. During the First World War, soldiers drank the “kola wine” as an opiate elixir to dull their senses and steel themselves for battle. It later became a landmark in the soda business, bottled in Biloxi and sold nationwide as “OK Kola”, in turn making a fortune for the Oppenheimer estate. By the 1990s, the OK Kola brand had become one of the most valued commodity markers in the world.

[4] Queen City or “The Narrows,” is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, home to over 5.7 million people in a landmass of just under 600 km2. Fewer and fewer new homes are built due to the lack and high expense of new land; instead there has been a proliferation of buildings constructed since the 1970s. Queen City is known around the world as “the empire of stacked houses” or “the walled city.” New buildings are frequently built onto old buildings. The city’s heightening skyline looms over and dwarfs all other natural geographic features. “The Narrows” is a namesake that has germinated from within the native multicultural population, used commonly since at least the mid-to-late 1970s, in concert with the city’s burgeoning concern over architectonics.

April Seventeenth 

The strangest thing occurred to me on the street last week in broad daylight and nobody noticed. I was wandering the streets like usual, daydreaming (like usual), and some lady, probably in her mid-forties, was walking in front of me, dressed for business, confident as heather—navy-blue blazer, matching pants, black leather loafers. And she was in one crazy hurry too, swinging her purse and shopping bags ambidextrously, marching to the faint beat of some internal martial music, gears winding as if she were motorized. She looked so dull she could have passed for a man. Everything was quite placid and normal. Sol[1] was shining in the azure sky. Felicitous birds were chirping. There was a pleasant breeze. My thoughts calm and sober. I was feeling good. And then, out of the blue, the woman, not even five meters from me, fell into the sidewalk! Swallowed! Vanished! Dissapeared without a trace!

Gallantly, I hustled to the very spot where she had dropped out of sight—and nothing! There were no signs of foul play. I knelt down and inspected the sidewalk, feeling the cement with my fingertips. I ran my palm over the circular grooves and assymetrical cracks outlining the walkway, expecting a manhole or a trick panel, but there was nothing to be found! People continued walking past and around me like I was a nut (I must have looked strange just kneeling there on the sidewalk). They were all behaving like nothing had happened, carrying on with their affairs, unconcerned for this poor woman who just upped and vanished into thin air. Sidewalks didn’t up and swallow people. Or maybe I wasn’t up to speed.

Had I imagined the woman? Was it all a gag? Was she hiding somewhere, behind a car maybe, laughing at me because she managed to pull the wool over my eyes? Couldn’t we crack open the subminiature street cameras to have a teensy peek just this once? I wouldn’t have any of it. I stood from the sidewalk and walked around the phantom square. I tried to move on with the rest my day. I tried to be callous like everybody else. But I couldn’t get the lady out of mind, just up and vanishing like that. Where was she now? I tried to picture her smothered by the cement as if it were quicksand. I tried to feel her fear, her thirst, her hunger. I prayed with her, prayed for her escape and safe passage, our lips moving synchronously, in intimate tandem. Abnormal things were happening all the time in Queen City. X will mark the spot. This place is the devil’s triangle: ‘Nothing seems right, we are entering white water. We don’t know where we are. The water is green, not white.’

[1] Sol, he who wore a shining crown and rode a fiery chariot across the sky. Sol Invictus, the indefatigable contriver of light, light of truth and harmony. Perfectly spherical and consisting of smoldering plasma, Sol is not solid but three quarters hydrogen and is widely believed to be the final celestial metamorphosis of Apollo. He is the brighest star in the galaxy and is by far the brighest object in the firmament. The energy of his sunlight supports all life on Gaea.

April Eighteenth

I reprogrammed the out-loud voice on my office computer at work. It was not necessary to get the job done, but it helped me get through the day. It was part of the CPU’s software bundle. I think I was the only one who used it on a regular basis. I guess being mute does change things. Being unable to speak alters the way you look at the world. My speech pathologist said I would recover my voice in time. ‘When the perceived trauma[1] subsides,’ he said.

When I opened my mouth, no sound would come out. Like King Thestral in comix. Ruler of the Hyperboreans. Who could level a city with a whisper. Who’d undergone rigorous mental training to prevent sound escaping from his lips, even in his sleep. I worry for my enemies when my voice returns.

I reconfigured the computer’s speech rate in the virtual toolbox. He spoke at a faster, abrasive clip now like some high-strung rapscallion. My computer’s name was ‘Dennis.’ He was an iAM[2] (Interactive Administrating Machine), model number 1978. I didn’t name him. Some other corporate throb did. I just taught him how to speak. Well, my employer will have to forgive me if I need to stretch my ambrosial fingers over the keyboard every now and then. The label at the right of the monitor read ‘Dennis.’ I hated that goddamn name.

“Fuck you, chatterbox the iAM squealed, pronouncing chatterbox irregularly. Listening to the machine expressing itself, words don’t seem as natural as they once did. Things broken free from their names. I guess they don’t quill them like they used to.

“Down with big blue,” the iAM buzzed. I read that in a book sometime ago. It must have meant something important but I don’t remember anymore. I imagine an entire city leveled with a single whisper.

Some of my colleagues gathered together across the quarters are eating their lunch. I felt uneasy because I thought they were gossiping about me. I liked sitting alone. It lended a quiet dignity to my character, although I don’t think my co-workers can sense this quality. They can’t see anything extra-mundane. One of them said something super-duper and they all croaked like crickets. Another person glanced at me and whispered to the person sitting beside them. I wish I had a Technicolor wing, like a Monarch butterfly, so I could stroke it proudly right about now.

[1] A person with aphasia has likely incurred damage to the left hemisphere of the brain.

[2] The company began in the 1890’s after Irwin Abelard Madewell’s “Universal” tabulating machine successfully indexed the Amerikan population in the census of 1886. In the years that followed, Madewell streamlined the Universal and broadened its accounting capabilities, culiminating in the iAM*1900, which inaugurated the centennial, and ushered in a new era of programmed computation. The first tabulators that could print were introduced in the 1920’s. The iAM*1923, with it’s removable panel and net positive/net negative accounting capabilities, is said to have repelled the feared stock market crash of 1925 and helped Madewell’s design gain international distinction. By 1930, iAM business appliances were used in over fifty-two countries and were a staple in the accounting divisions of most major corporations. The iAM Corporation’s “Imagine” catchphrase has gained nearly worldwide significance. The iAM*1949 was the world’s first electric mass-produced computer, revolutionizing the modern age, and signalling the dawn of a new digital era. Irwin Abelard Madewell died of a brain anerysm in 1952 at the age of ninety-six. His three children, Ichabod, Francis, and Amy, are the joint succesors of the iAM Corporation’s rich and unrivalled legacy. Ichabod Madewell was chief engineer of the 1949 reinvention

  April Nineteenth 

On the bus, the engine below the seat hummed and hummed and it reminded me of how tired and hollowed out I actually felt. The IQscreen[1] overhead said that Chancellor Pu, the right hand of Emperor Li Dong, had been pied in the face by the Mal de Siecle[2] terrorist group at the Convocation of Kingdoms in Beyrouth. His face the worse for wear (first-degree burns) after it was discovered that the Mal du Siecle group had used an illegal compound of acids in the citrus pie, alledgedly violating the Protocol for the Prohibition of Acids and Bases in Pieing.

The lemon-lime curd was being thoroughly tested by field specialists for any violations occurring on the PH scale; meanwhile, the Franks denied the claims of affiliation to Mal du Siecle made by the Dong Dynasty. No official word from the Mal du Siecle group except for sightings of their logo (thistle purple stencil of a horse hung by the neck with the word ‘Overboard’ beneath) strategically graffitied over military walls in Beyrouth.

All my muscles ached, especially the ones in my legs. What do you call them? I could have joined a gym or something. Maybe my legs wouldn’t have hurt so much then. Now that I thought about it, I wish I were more proactive. So I surprised myself and I stood pat and missed my stop. I must have been going downtown. I hated going downtown. But neither did I want to move. I passed by a gym along the way. A few minutes later I was inside that very same gym listening to the woman at the front counter talking about membership formats.

The gym reeked of sweat and bad breath. All around me were these meaty bastards. Why couldn’t they just shut their goddamn mouths when they lifted? Didn’t they know that all those escaping amino acids turned to personality disorders when they were air-bound?[3]

The dark haired woman at the counter talked to me about nutritional supplements like protein powders. Her name was Veronica. Her skin was tropically tanned and she was wearing a neon-pink spandex outfit. I took out my scratch pad and wrote ‘I might be interested in picking up weights.’

Did I say that right? Veronica gave me a pitiful look that was also tellingly creeped out; she was probably worried that I may have been sick or something, that she may contract an illness and be unable to speak to her beach buddies about tanning oils and washboard abs and surfboards. She asked me a few follow-up questions about my health. I acted tough, like in a Western, and withheld information from her. She probably felt sorry for me. All the more reason to sign me up. Handled incorrectly, one of these murderous weighted machines could permanently put me out of my misery.

Veronica led me away from the front counter. She walked ahead of me, showing me the exercise machines and something called the Bilateral Universal,[4] I think. I looked at her from behind and measured up her legwork. A yearning ache battled its way into my spleen. She showed me the men’s changing room that was “fully equipped with sauna and showers.” I imagined puffy men lying around in steam, guzzling their imported, highly expensive, laboratory-concocted, shark-extracted, sperm cocktails.[5] I excuse myself to take a peek behind the striated meat-curtains, to goggle at the magic, the cogs-and-gears-of-glory at the-cutting-edge-of-the-industry, in case it’s where I needed to be.

The sauna room. I better get the hell out of here. I did not want see any one of those veiny bastards, especially not in any naked state. They might get some meat packing ideas and come after me with a moldy salami (I’m allergic to penicillin!) and then I would have been forced to retort all their thewy come-ons with a sharp kick right in the eye. I hated shower scenes from prison movies. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I’ve done my homework. I know what goes on through the butcher’s window. What? Behind the easy-breezy meat-curtains. What? Around the corner, in the dark, out of public view. What?

That’s not too bad, it was a very bright toilet bowl—deadeye! I stared at the washroom door; I listened to the circulating fan; I lost myself in the ambiance and pretended to be interested.

I walked out of the men’s changing room; I could not wait to shake Veronica’s hand. She was way over on the other side of the gym, helping some tall, tanned fella at the counter. He talked and talked and giggled, obviously pleased with herself, and she put her celestial hand on his pithecal arm. How long have I been away? Veronica took a towel to his sweaty primitive brow and I stormed out of the gym before she could speak another word to me. I tried to get on the first bus I could find, but a vagrant wooly racoon turned the corner, right in the middle of the day, and I tripped over my own feet and fell onto my keyster. I raised my fist and cursed at the furry mammal it as wobbled away unconcerned. That’s what I deserved for trying to avoid it. Goddamn uplifted animals the world over.[6]

At home. I felt severely depressed, so I binge-ate with an ultraviolence rarely seen in these parts of the world. I hoarded everything I could possibly stomach—a large bag of potato chips, half-a-box of raisin cookies, a can of half-warm mushroom soup, and a few cheese sandwiches—igniting a war between the food groups. There can be no peace between dairy and vegetable, between the dehydrated and the processed, between…

On my way through the living room, I got clever and did this Tom Revolta[7] shuffle-step thing and my stomach turned the globe and I got sick and vomited all over the floor. I did not bother cleaning it up.

The evening news. “By boosting their cyber war assault, Huaxia has raised the ante in their long-standing feud with Amerika by hacking into sensitive social media web sites and doctoring current event feeds. It is a strategic maneuver that reveals not only the acrimony the Red Dragon feels toward Amerika, but also the threat it poses to the governments of all free nations.”

I crouched in the tub and the IQwater shot balmy jasmine over my head and neck and chest. It made everything serene and pure before I handed my body over to sleep. The IQwater felt like a kind mothering eraser. Entire days were cleared from my memory while I was in the shower, safe from investigative eyes behind the blue-crackle curtain.

The hallowed pellets pitter-pattered over my body performing tiny miracles. Eight soggy hours from yesterday were erased. Melancholy Tuesday from last week was completely snuffed from the history books. A colleague at the office took a dig at me about my messy hair and grimy shoes.[8] I’ll teach her the true meaning of ‘topsy-turvy’. I watched the maudlin days sail down the drain with all the restraint of a stoic. ‘Wacha gonna do with a piss-drunk sailor when the ship is rolling.’ My birthday gets caught in the drain along with my…

I stood in front of my bedroom mirror without any clothes on. My hair was thinning at the temples of my skull. My chest was sagging like an old lady’s ass. I was getting plumper at the waist, shoulders curling forwards. I have become quite the physical specimen.[9] A tsunami of anger crashed over me and I turned away from myself in disgust. Fourteen wrathful pushups later I was asleep.

[1] IQtech was patented by Henry Tomakin in 1999, and by late 2000, the company’s “W.H.I.Z.” microprocessor chip’s were as prevalant and ubiquitous in Amerika and Europa as doorknobs. It is the western world’s fastest growing technology and it is estimated that 3 in 4 homes are now W.H.I.Z. friendly. IQtech’s affordable and efficient designs have considerably improved the general well being of individuals across GreatAmerika as per the latest Q.O.L. measure. Bestowing a type of “intelligence” to most home devices and appliances, these preliminary innovations are only the beginning of IQtech’s vision of the home as “the footstool of harmony.”

[2] “The Malady of the Century”. The Mal de Siecle group has been active on the international front as a “terrorist” group since the mid-1980’s. They have claimed responsibility for several hostile coups, including “The Towel Snapping of Helvetia” in 1987, where the managing director of the World Bank Combine was violently driven into a coma being repeatedly snapped by wet towels while visiting a sauna, and the “The Tarring and Feathering of Barca Nona” in 1991 where the CEO of Triton Shoes had steaming liquid chocolate poured over him and goose feathers applied as an applique while he was exiting a haute cuisine restaurant. The group has described these terrorist acts and many others as “deeds that are meant to shock the world out of political ennui and melancholy; no dictator safe; no bad deed unpunished.” Political scientists like Bill Sikes theorize that “pranks and shenanighans are the 21st’s century’s answer to modern warfare” and that “World Wars will no longer be protracted affairs, fought by incalculable armies in swarmy trenches, jungles, and deserts; they will be surreptitious and episodic transactions, abruptly occuring under a feckless dustcloud of schoolboy absurdity.” 

[3] On a biological scale, it is impossible for amino acids to become airborne as such, although elements of an amino, like oxygen, may be considered atmospheric and may freely travel as a gas. 

[4] In bilateral symmetry, the sagittal plane will divide an organism into mirror image halves.

[5] Shark sperm became popular in the late 1980s as a muscle-building supplement in the bodybuilding circuit. It was banned and driven underground into the black-market in the 1990s due to the protestations of animal rights activists. Its efficacy has never been scientifically measured and may in fact have been routinely used as a placebo. Derek Dorsett, the “Black Hercules,” winner of the Atlas International bobybuilding competition in 1989 and 1990, was a well-known proponent of shark sperm.

[6] In Baron Jubrick’s 2001-2031: A Space Inventory (1964), the arrival of the monoliths implies a cultural uplift for humanity, if not an outright biological evolution. Uplift is a common motif in science fiction, where animals are often biologically engineered and evolotionary nurtured to mimic intelligent beings.

[7] The star of such popular films as Sunday Morning Hangover (1973), Texan Dandy (1976), Scraping-By (1979), and Penny Dreadful(1990).

[8] Natalie Abess: “F.Y.I. You need to look in the mirror before you leave home. Your topsy-turvy wardrobe is in shambles. It’s completely unprofessional. Your messy hair, your mismatched suit, your grimy shoes. Get it together before they fire you. I’m serious.” Aeneas Ashbridge: “Sorry.”

[9] At 5’11, 183 pounds, with a body mass index of 23%, Aeneas Ashbridge cannot touch his toes or complete a set of 20 pushups without significantly pausing between sets or becoming lightheaded. Despite retaining most of the musculature from his youth, his body has accumulated excess fat in the stomach region and now exhibits the dreaded “pear shape” whenever he wears tighter fitting pants. The greatest contributor to his weight gain is seldom exercising and a predilection for complex carbohydrates, including fried potatoes or “fries,” which he consumes to a greater than average degree because of an adherence to an unbalanced vegetarian diet that was adopted in 1993 for avowed moral and ethical reasons. 

April Twentieth

My mind was rabid at night! It was impossible to sleep through the howling. I aimed to gingerly moderate the chaos within my three-pound universe. I used to have epilepsy. Actually, I still did, but now it was firmly under the control of medication.

I don’t know why I said that. The truth is I don’t have epilepsy. Things may have been different if I did; they might have been better, happier. I might have gotten more attention from people. Trips to the doctors. Lollipops. Pats on the head. Ice cream floats at the malt shop.[1] Weekends at the zoo.

The epilepsy could have been a divine mark, a token of my unique covenant with the creator of this world. I might have shaken for Him! A divinely sanctioned shake! An infallible shake teeming with mystic rage! Instead, I have to settle for this unnatural epilepsy.

I could not stop thinking! It is all the same to me, but my body would be tired in the morning. And so I remained awake while my body did most of its nightly housekeeping. Clearing the neural pathways and such, testing the connectivity between the hemispheres and lobes and subdivisions, testing the pH levels of the cerebro fluid, the flow through the aqueducts, the moxie of the arachnoid mater.

It’s kind of frightening to witness the restorative procedure. It’s like being awake during surgery, listening to the surgeon flapping his lips about penny stocks or male stockings or golf handicaps, while his fingers expertly jostled your huffy appendix, prepping it for removal. Despite your apprehension (Guys, I’m awake here!), you kept your mouth shut. You did not want to interrupt the team. You chose to remain professional. You wisely nestled into the arête of the moment.

It reminded me of my office job somehow—infinite data configuring and processing. All I saw were fractions and percentages being worked out in my brain and through my body; my internal eye goggled by the swift and precise body algebra.

Bright morning light. I woke up groggy and sore. I do not even remember sleeping. My mind awoke a few moments before my anesthetized body. It’s a very strange phenomenon to feel like you’ve been buried alive. You say to your listless body, ‘Move, you moron, move!’ But it doesn’t respond to your barking commands. It has become autonomous and it expresses that newfound independence by lying inert. You man the helm again and tighten the reins, ‘Move, you idiot!’ Your body jerks back to life and distrustfully follows your orders once more. But for a minute there, you get a penetrating glimpse into something you’ve never seen before, yet it’s something you’ve always been aware of.[2]

I sat up on the edge of my bed and I stared absently at the carpet. How many threads were suffocated in the making of that rug? I reached over to the IQphone and called the automated weather and news guy. He was cordial. Always a gentleman. I listened but I did not hear a single word he said. The living room stinked like aged vomit. Maybe I would buy a dog so it could lick it up for me or maybe I would just move out of the apartment altogether. Anything to avoid cleaning that spectacular mess. A glass of water would do me good. Set me back on course.

I had been waiting for years! Years upon years! What for, you may ask? Well, I don’t seem to know, that’s the problem. I feel like I’m running on a treadmill with a broken switch, or like that guy who had to push a house up that neverending hill, every single day of his life, as a punishment. I’m not sure what I’m waiting for, but I think I’ll wait a bit longer, just a little bit longer. Maybe tomorrow it will come.

I couldn’t wait for Friday. I hated the other weekdays. Friday was always the best day out of the week during high school. The problem now is what to do with myself during the rest of the week. It was a shame to waste the other days. The calendar is a ridiculous thing. Do we really need it structuring our lives? I guess there was no real use in rallying up a mob about it. The sun and the moon were to blame, and there’s not much we can do about them.

Day and night were permanent. At least there was work to fill the space. You got to punch in and out on an unsociable machine at work, and it created an outline of you that was also permanent. Payroll records are as permanent as the true and the good and the beautiful, except payroll was none of these things. Bookkeepers go as far back in time as priests, their austere fastidiousness knowing no bounds because they worked incessantly, tucked away in dry low-lit rooms, amid stacks of ancient dusty books, absorbed by every letter and every number in front of their eyes, busy inscribing your name into the Book of Life.[3]

[1] Aeneas Ashbridge has never in fact been to a malt shop and only romanticizes the idea because of his fondness of reading Teen Harold comix while dining. Teen Harold was written in the 1940s when there was a proliferation of malt shops and was a popular hangout for teenagers.

[2] Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon where people are temporarily unable to move, for seconds, minutes, or even hours, whilst falling asleep or upon waking, characterized by complete muscle atonia, and is often accompanied by terrifying visions of a “ghostly intruder” in the room who threatens to cause asphyxiation. Individuals who suffer from sleep paralysis seem to have trouble distinguishing between states of wakefulness and sleep. Some experts believe there may be link and common ground between sleep paralysis and mental dissociative disorders. Pathological dissociative states include conditions where the individual suffers from a sense that the self or world is unreal, a loss of memory, fragmentation of self into seperate streams of consciousness, forgetting identity, and/or assuming a new self.

[3] Said to be the heavenly registrar of the Latidunarian Church as writ in The Book Of Heavenly Foundations, the last book of Holy Scripture, as written by Saint James Polycorpus.

April Twenty First

Nobody fights directly anymore. All healthy conflict has dissolved into seething subterfuge. The state has ensured that. These days, all meaningful blows are cast economically through underhanded investments and unmerited promotions. If I could, I’d spit on every dollar people earn just to show them that I am aware of what’s going on.’

That entry was a real gem. The tip of the iceberg, from volume three of the life and times of your pale hero. I should etch it into the washroom stalls at work. It shouldn’t be a problem. I always carried a blade with me. You never know when it’s going to come down or who’s going to bring it. I figured the blade makes me square with any one, that is, you have to like my chances. History replays itself. First as truth, then as uncertainty.

On the bus, a gorilla of a man bumped into me as he walked towards the back. He intimidated everyone around him as he sat down. He stretched out his legs, obstructing the path. I fingered the steel in my pocket. You never know when it’s going to come down.

I looked out the window at the cars and buildings and people shuttling past. I thought time was just like that, trotting along like a callous thoroughbred, dragging an equestrian through the muck; mindless of the tenor of the entanglement, the thoroughbred tows the equestrian along until he weakens and crumbles in the dirt.

My IQwatch said it was April 21st and 12 degrees C. My body temperature was 36.9 degrees C. Heart rate 67 bpm. The bus was travelling at 52 km per hour headed northwest on Broadview Avenue. My netbalance was 1284 dollars. There were 2 films and 7 albums on my iAM hawked from the Net, waiting to be digested.[1] My water filter was dangerously low to expiring. I had 2 late bills requiring payment. 7 unread eMessages. 0 phone messages.

I have not written a story in years. The last one I worked on nearly drove me crazy. It was brilliant. But I couldn’t pull it off. It was about a man who transformed into an airport. The only problem was that I couldn’t figure out where to take the metamorphosis from there. I suppose the character could have functioned as a regular airport, chartering flights and moving people across the globe, but that’s where the story kind of stood still on me. I mean, what happens from there? I guess the flights could have some jazzy metaphysical significance.

I spent four years, on and off, researching and creating blueprints for this imaginary airport. I called it the Milton Airport International Limited. Get it? M.A.I.L. ‘I with pure mind by the number four do swear.’ Don’t feel bad, neither did anybody else. I think I saw it in a movie once: ‘If you build it, she will come.’ Well, the four-letter word was out.

[1] One of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century made by physicist Lady Yuri Zhen in 1984. It is said to resemble a “global brain” or a “network of collective consciousness” that encircles the globe like a mesh, hence the populist descriptor “Net.” It is an organic organism that has evolved along with the geosphere and biosphere, functioning like a nervous system for the Earth, which has grown in step and complexity with humankind. The intelligence of this “network of atmospheric neurons” is collective and equally distributed along the net. It emerges from a dynamic network of non-linear interactions between its components and is constantly self-organizing, self-adapting, and self-evolving. It is an open system, flowing, as such it is difficult to define system boundaries. Elements in the system may be ignorant of the behavior of the system as a whole, responding only to the information available to them locally. The number of elements is so sufficiently great that conventional definitions are not only impractical, but cease to assist in understanding the system. It has been called the “network of networks working behind the cloud of clouds.” Humanity is able to “dial-in” and “siphon” the complex, unbroken, interplay of information but no technology has yet been invented that may domineer over its raw natural power and channel it in any resolute manner

  April Twenty Third

On the couch. Do I start my week over or sink even further? I cleaned the vomit off my floor this morning. There was no use in trying to evade the stench any longer. I am so tired of the whole affair. It is too existential. The barf, too Nekrasovian[1], too pretentious. It has been going on for too long. It is like gnashing teeth in a mirror. There’s no reason to play the scapegoat when nobody’s watching. I could write an account of it, a memoir or something, but what’s the point? I’m not going to trouble myself. There are too many books in the world as it is, and, besides, this story’s too old and too crusty. If you pat it on the head it grumbles like an old man taking his pills. It’s better to leave one’s self alone and I’ve been tinkering under the hood far too long.

I’ve propped a tyrant over myself for close to a decade now. It has been agonizing. I think it’s best to settle for an oligarchy when considering self-rule. That way, only your strongest drives lead the council. To set a dictatorship over oneself is brutal. The violence is always direct and immediate. It means suffering all of the time because you never quite measure up to your own fascistic standards. The burden is always too heavy and the pressure doesn’t cease until you’re crushed. A democracy is the worst of all—the weak drives temper the strong drives. You end up becoming a knave. Like I said, it’s best to leave one’s self alone.

I’ve rehearsed every experience you can imagine internally: How it feels like to contract typhus while performing an autopsy free of charge, being carefully shaved by a butcher and then promenading around the city showing off your re-attached nose, donning a peasant wardrobe shunning all social responsibilities and duties, on a mercurial quest to assassinate the Emperor, prostrating yourself before a holy man and kissing the Earth in repentance?

I’ve learned that if a person is motivated and wily enough, the entire history of the world can be reproduced and re-experienced internally.[2] From the yawn of the loftiest Monarch as he rises from his lavish bed at noontime, to the sigh of the poorest pauper crashing on a park bench under a blanket of newspapers at midnight, all of it, everything in between, can be dragged unto the stage or slid under the miscroscope. Every act can be resurrected from the ashen past and examined on the inside. No, it’s best to leave things alone. I won’t not go into it again. I will not tamper with history. I will not tamper with the truth.

To rule over oneself requires extraordinary endurance and strength. Somewhere along the road I lost control of the well-bred inner tyrant and solely identified with the rubbery victim squirming around my guts. If you turned me inside out, you could trace every scar, every wound with your fingertip. There’s an exquisite sadomasochistic record on the inside. Your voice is one of the first things you lose when you wage a war on yourself.[3]

After college, I thought it would be best to detach myself from myself and I haven’t dared look back. These days I see myself through a telescope from somewhere in space. I remember I used to say to my mother in my youth, ‘That star, Mum. I want that star! Give me that star!’[4] It’s funny. Sometimes you get what you wish for the most.

[1] Nikita Nekrasov (1817-1887). Famous novelist whose literary works explore the troubled psychology of characters living through periods of political, social, and religious unrest in his native Scythia.

[2] Late 20th century philosophers have hypothesized that such an undertaking may be possible with the advent of the Net; hawking for the plurality of these perspectives is a different consideration alotogether. Does the Net store the memories of individuals once they have perished or are they deleted and relegated to another realm altogether? How does the Net organize the collective memories of humankind and how can a technology be developed to effectively tap into this index? There are more questions than answers at this point in time and Aeneas’ claim that he may access the Net through mere introspection is grandstanding at its very worse and presently completely unscientific and misleading.

[3] Aphasia can occur suddenly or may develop slowly. Traumatic injuries to the head may cause sudden loss of speech due to lesions of the language-relevant sections of the brain, while tumors and neurological diseases can advance the disease progressively.

[4] Never having named the star he was pointing to, never knowing if it even was an actual star, it cannot be named with any certainty, and apart from several obsessive journal sketches and references to an “Abstrakta,” which is not a recognized star in the solar system, the “phantom” star shall be considered, without being too boldly judgemental, as another reminder of Aeneas’ eccentric, heterodoxical mindset, hereafter referred to as an “Aeneid” for shorthand and clarity of communication. An Aeneid being a statement of amplification, caricatura, egregiousness, misrepresentration, or pretentiousness. These are the five Aeneids

 April Twenty Fourth

I spent the early morning cozying in bed. It was chilly as hell out there. It’s good I kept my socks on. A behavior I’m not prone to repeating. Clothes smother me when I sleep. I like to keep the bare minimum on my skin, the essentials, a t-shirt and underwear, just in case I’m accosted in my sleep by a burglar or a bogeyman. I don’t want to look ridiculous in the brouhaha. Appearances aside, it could get uncomfortable real quick wrestling in the nude. If we were both nude and oiled up it would be different. It’d be considered Neo-Classical.

The shrieking wind dragged its nails across the window. I decided I was just going to lay comfortably in my sheets and enjoy the sound of the elements. What’s another late on my record? Here’s a big middle finger to the world.

There is nothing I have ever wanted more than to kill the voice in my head—the goddamn voice that always has something to say. When I walk down the street, the voice likes to report what it’s thinking. I never manage to do anything, to own any act, because the voice is always talking to me about something.[1]

Well not anymore. I murdered the voice in my head four weeks ago today. I got bone-tired of the dialogue. It was making me sick. It tainted everything I did with noise. Everywhere I went, everything I did, had a verbal soundtrack. Everything around me became intelligible. I had to be conscious of everything and everyone, all the time! So I figured it was either me or the voice that had to go because I was growing horribly pale, turning hysterical like an old shrew, and I hardly ever went outside when I didn’t have to. It was the voice’s fault. It had to be stamped out.

The biggest problem of all was that the voice could mimic anything. If it heard a song it liked, it would practice it all of the time; if there was a noise it appreciated, it would ape it all day long. The voice felt that it had distinct opinions about things, ideas it had to recommend: ‘I like his shoes, but his nose, he’s got to clip that thing.’

The voice would eavesdrop on nearby conversations and relate them to me. It got worse in the underground. It was like the trains inflamed it. It would chatter at such a quick clip that the single voice seemed to multiply and the crowd of them would stammer away endlessly, easily competing with the noise from the trains. It was there that I learned how to kill it. It was the underground that gave birth to my plans.

I invested a large sum of money in IQnoise machines. I bought a large unit for my apartment and an expensive IQmusic player with IQheadphones so that I could listen to white noise IQloops while I commuted to work. It’s not easy to hear the voice in your head when there’s concentrated IQnoise working against it. The IQnoise shreds the voice like shrapnel. At home, I would listen to the IQnoise machine at full volume while I did things. I even left it on at a lower volume while I slept. Little by little, the voice began to grow weary.

In the beginning it vied with the IQnoise, trying to match its volume and output, but it couldn’t. The IQnoise was steady and insistent, whereas the voice took frequent pauses to collect itself. It lacked the stamina for a full-out, bare-knuckle brawl. It began to stammer shortly thereafter, followed by slurred, unintelligible bouts of speech.

I realized then and there that the IQnoise would strangle the voice for me. It would grind it all the way down to gasps and gurgles. I played the IQtapes more, all the time in fact. I even played them at work. Nobody minded. I told them it was therapeutic sound. Everything I did was accompanied by IQnoise. There were streams of it all around me and I swam in it like a little pond fish.

It didn’t take long before it was all over. I can’t remember the exact moment it happened, but I remember what it felt like the day after. The voice in my head drowned in the IQnoise like a bloated drunk in a bathtub. It was like a flash-light went out in my mind, and from there, with each succeeding day, things became less and less familiar, but surprisingly, more vibrant. I felt differently about objects I had grown accustomed to. Things were less defined, more comfortable. Everything was one step darker.[2]

[1] This conflict is either an affected, fifth-degree Aeneid or a candid revelation of Aeneas’ fractured psyche, whose gravitation may be schizotypal in nature. The more relevant question is whether Aeneas’ delusions, if it can be said he is delusional, are monothematic, where a person’s delusional state concerns only one topic, or polydelusional, where an entire array of delusions take residency and arrange themselves like furniture in the psyche. Common monothematic delusions include The Delusion of Doubles: the belief that various people whom the believer meets are actually the same person in disguise. The Perpetual Reigning Empire: the belief that the phenomenol world does not truly exist but was a kind of hologram or illusion put forth to imprison living souls herded by demonic exploiters of mankind. Intermerphosis: the belief that people in one’s environment swap identities with each other whilst maintaining the same appearance. Reduplicative Paramnesia: the belief that a familiar person, place, object or body part has been duplicated. The Solipsistic Prime Mover: the belief that a person is the creator of the world and therefore able to manipulate the world to his or her whims. Subjective Doubling: where a person believes there is a doppelgänger or double of him or herself carrying out independent actions. The Unrecognized Messiah: the belief that a person’s world saving abilities have been denied or unperceived because a person has been relocated in time and/or purposely oppressed by the government, church, or any other autocratic institution.

[2] An insincere and a borderline fourth-degree Aeneid (Misrepresentation)

April Twenty Seventh

On the couch. The IQvision ticker reported another monolith sighting, this time in Stamboul in the Ayasofya courtyard. Exact same measurements as the first black slab that appeared in February in Glastonbury. It could have been a prank from the West to mark the fictional anniversary of Baron Jubrick’s 2001-2031: A Space Inventory. The Moslems were furious at the ‘idolatrous and blasphemous slab’ being placed amidst their place of worship but have no leads as to how this may have occurred within the courtyard’s patrolled area. Nut astrologers believed the Monoliths were alien technology that will usher in the Age of Pisces, while cinema enthusiasts believed the artifacts would fetch a fortune on the black market if retrieved.[1] 2001-2031 was the most boring film ever made. If film reality was going to roll into our own, couldn’t we please live in the carnivalesque world of Kid Wheeler,[2] which was full of pranks and laughs and tomfoolery?

On the balcony. I watched people scurrying below, holding grocery bags, going about their busy meaningful lives. I used to own a pellet gun when I was younger. I would fire holes through pillows and vases, but I could never hit birds or rodents. I wonder, from this height, if I could wallop the people below. I drank eggnog for breakfast. I made it myself.[3] It was the raw egg that worried me.

A small group of crows gathered on an electrical wire, fanning their black tails and bowing with each ‘kaah.’ Look at all those grocery bags! How much do people need to eat? I licked the cinnamon from my lips. It’s one of the few luxuries I could afford. There were others of course, but eggnog was one of my favorites. It’s thicker than milk and smoother than malted. It’s like celebrating Heaven’s Day in one cup.

My mother used to make a special dessert for the family on Heaven’s Day. It was a frozen sweet. I don’t remember the name of it. It was made of chocolate and it had these thin crispy biscuits inside. There were nuts inside the chocolate and a touch of brandy for flavor. I’ve never seen anyone else make it. Nobody even knows what I’m talking about when I mention it. I would do anything for some of that old-time sweetness.

I shoot invisible pellets into a family coming out of a church. I think it’s Eastre today for some religions. I don’t know which is which anymore. Everybody cuts the Savior from his own cloth to measure.[4] A loud and raucous laugh escaped my lips as a kid’s hat went flying in a gale. I headed inside the apartment. Saturday is Professor Whom day: ‘You will be eradicated.’

I washed the dishes and dried them with a rag. I fell between the dish racks, hanging on for dear life. The plates drying alongside me. I saw the tiny fissures in the ceramic. It’s so hard to keep it all together. What’s keeping the bristles in the toothbrush? Holding the expiry of the produce in the crisper at bay? Fluffing the pillows? Collecting the dust from the bookshelves? Opening and closing doors. Walking through. Opening and closing cabinets. Trapdoors. Falling in.[5]

[1] Accurate reportage with a semblance of first-degree Aeneid (Amplification). The above details concerning the monolith sighting are a statement of fact; only some specifics of the story have been omitted, while others have been highlighted. A standard of most journalistic practice, therefore all Aeneidian charges are dropped in this particular instance, and have only really been brought to the forefront for examination because they are scenting of caricature.

[2] Famous film director and actor in silent motion pictures such as The Wild Frontier (1921) and The Modern Man (1932). He became a wordwide icon for his slapstick comedic antics during the early part of the Century. His films are routinely mentioned on industry lists of the greatest films of all time.

[3] 2 cups of whole milk, 2 whole cloves, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 6 egg yolks, 1 cup of sugar, ½ cup of rum, 2 cups light cream, ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg.

[4] Yeshua ben Yosef, King of the Israelites (1-77 AD), “the Savior” who united the Kingdom of Israel by virtue of the “Golden System” of governance that cessated all civil strife amongst the twelve tribes. The repute of his leadership spread wide over the ancient world during his reign, and his Golden System directly influenced the governing bodies of the greater region of Palaistine, spreading as far West as the Roman Empire, which was initially discordant with the state of Israel although without ever any official declaration of war, eventually adopting Yeshua’s Golden System as their own in 168 AD, an ideology that is still arguably dominant today in an amended form. Yeshua ben Yosef is one of the most influential moralists and political leaders in the history of mankind. There are thousands of religious and political sects that view him as “the liberator of mankind from class bondage.” His Golden System is one of few successful socialistic political forms of government to have ever spilled outside the borders of philosophic texts. For over forty years, the Kingdom of Israel was a functioning libertarian socialist state, with a thriving economy and a decentralized government. After the death of Yeshua ben Yosef, the Kingdom of Israel fell prey to a form of radical authoritarian nationalism, which led to the Civil War of Israel in 84 AD, breaking the peace in Israel and scattering the twelve tribes across Palaistine.

[5] A third-degree Aeneid (Egregiousness), smarting of delicateness and hyperchondria. Perhaps a somatopsychic symptom of domestic overwork; however, there would have to be a trail of work to consider before graduating to a condition overwork. In this case, there is a nary a trace of domestic or civil production.

April Twenty Ninth

At the office. I peeked at Violet through a crack in my cubicle, who worked in the space beside me. I could only see fragments of her through the partition: her red fingernails on the keyboard, her milky hands guiding the mouse (the button on her left cuff undone), the sacred spot where her thigh met her hip. Everything was so hazy around me. I felt guilty but I’m not a bad person. I know it’s wrong to stare and I don’t want our relationship to be tainted from the very beginning. I supposed she knew my name; our rapport is decent the way it is. But it’s so hard not to look. She’s wearing black high-heel shoes today with a strap around the ankle. One can always imagine what they’d look like…

NOBODY FIGHTS DIRECTLY ANYMORE. THE STATE HAS TAKEN CARE OF THAT[1]

In the washroom. It took my whole lunch break to etch that into the stall. I had to be quiet, but I don’t really see why that ought to be. People feel free to come in here and let them rip anyhow. What’s so criminal about the sound of a knife scratching into…what kind of wood was this anyway? What a stench! I can’t believe these people. I hope they swell to high heaven with their rotten maggot air. I’d like to kick their rolled up newspapers right up their…

I would be overjoyed to get up out of here, kick in the door in the next stall, grab the unlucky bastard by the collar and shake him like a busted piñata, pebbles toppling out! I clenched my fists in the air, barely able to contain my anger, and the knife accidentally fell out of my hands and onto the floor, sliding just outside the stall door. Damn it! There was somebody out there running water! He’s going to see it and report me! But I did not care. Let them all know! I pushed open the door and coolly walked out. To my surprise, it was John Bull. He was running a comb through his hair. He didn’t take notice of me or the knife.

John Bull: 38 Avenue Road, owned a luxury penthouse condominium, a black Porsche, had a Master’s degree in business or something, sported a six-three, two-hundred-and-twenty-pound-frame, was a track and field star in college, an accomplished boxer who enjoyed bodybuilding and sailing his father’s yacht, general manager of the company that’s enslaved me, thirty-four years old, had neat, pomaded black hair, manicured finger nails, an absurdly expensive Swiss-crafted IQwatch, a collection of elegant, custom tailored suits, a gifted speaker with outstanding posture, the most popular man around, and was currently dating Violet Safronov, the woman who works in the cubicle next to me. I folded the knife and tucked it away in my back pocket.

I wondered what he was doing down here, in this specific washroom. Surely he had the key to the executive restrooms. I heard he does this every so often, but to what purpose I’m not sure. John Bull had the aura of a celebrity in this company. He doesn’t own Crocell but he’s the face of it, and much more. Everything he did caused a stir down in the trenches.[2] I heard about his mighty deeds nearly every day of the week. Here we were now, across from each other, and he didn’t even know that I was alive.

I turned the water on and washed my hands. The cold water numbed my palms. John Bull had a way of making everyone around him act in a self-distracted way. I breathed quietly in order to listen to him. I wondered if he had seen the knife. I watched him from the corners of my eyes. He puts his comb away, adjusted his tie in the mirror, and walked out the door. He just dropped off Violet from lunch, I’m sure of it. I see you, John! You don’t see me but I see you!

[1] Graffiti became a worldwide cultural phenomenon for youth in the late 1990s, first as a form of protest, in emulation of the proliferating “terrorist” groups such as the Mauve Nineties and The Black Spider, that emblematically used graffiti as a form political rebellion, and second as a popular form of individual expression.

[2] On March 26, 2001, the announcement of John Bull’s and Tori Rubbers’ annulled relationship arrived via the social media website, “Agora,” four full hours before Bull physically broke the news to Rubbers over a despondent candlelight dinner at Bruno’s on Maiden Lane. Having read the Agora news ticker known as “the Mint,” Rubbers originally disbelieved the report and met with Bull with only slight apprehension. The evening’s dolorous events confirmed in her mind that social media had permanently altered “the way things are supposed to happen,” with the effect sometimes preceding the cause.

May Second

I’ve been late for work eight consecutive days. I wonder if anybody will say anything? I’ve fallen into a pattern recently that’s difficult to break. Two-minutes late becomes four-minutes late, four-minutes becomes seven-minutes. My heart beats faster when I punch the clock. I wonder how the machine represents me?

Everybody I pass on my way to my cubicle gives me a choleric glare, but I don’t let the worms in their eyes frighten me. I’ve worn the same clothes to work five days in a row. I hope nobody notices.

When things get really hairy at work, I look for a nook or a cubby or an alcove where I may ply my trade in secret. I carry a tiny totem in my pocket that permits me to teleport to a likeness of the the ancient Hellenic city of Athanas[1]when I cannot breathe in this world any longer. It is like a lucky charm with teleportative powers. A miniature city carved out of ivory set within a crystal globe the size of medium pearl. Lentil soup for the soul in my employer’s house of atrocities. I will never tire of being called ‘your lordship.’

[1] A first-degree Aeneid (Amplification). exposing an extravagant, over-idealistic self-referential encoding. The imaginary city, named after Aeneas’ mother’s maiden name, is a delusional utopian mental construct and is indicative of Aeneas’ narcissistic self-image and inflated belief of self-worth.

May Fourth

It is a strange thing to hang from this crumbling rock but I will not pull myself up. The view is too great for me to turn away.

My memory draws up these laconic adages out of nowhere. I’m not sure what I meant by that phrase when I wrote it. I think I meant for it to be existential or something. Either way, here I am now hanging from this ‘crumbling rock’—that’s what my life feels like. I don’t get the second part of the quote though: ‘The view is too great for me to turn away.’ What does that mean? What view? What should I be looking at? What should I be seeing?

A loud thud against my window splits my concentration. It’s a pigeon. Nothing but a rotten pigeon. Life is just like that. There are always little arbitrary disruptions thrown my way just to derail my thoughts.[1] It has always been that way for me. When I was a student, I would bury myself in my small bedroom for days at a time, working away on one essay or another. It was so difficult for me to write those papers. I would be in my room all day long trying to find the inspiration to iron out my ideas. Sometimes it would take several hours to write a single sentence. Small bantam things always came my way, taking my hamstrung attention with them.

I would get an itch, for instance, and then that single itch would spread and multiply all over my body. Suddenly, I would be aware that my whole body was itchy. Apparently, my body was itchy all of the time, only normally I would ignore the sensation.

This is the conclusion I finally came to, this is the human condition: mankind is itchy all of the time, and sometimes even profoundly so—I am my head, everything else works against me. I scratch my stomach-itch in abject obedience. I scare the pigeon away. My bedroom is no place for a bird of that stature.[2]

A train of children head to school below. I don’t think I was itchy when I was their age. My fingers smell like banana. You smell like whatever you eat first thing in the morning. A proverb for all the people at my office who skip breakfast and come into work smelling like coffee and cigarettes, or even worse, like yesterday’s leftovers.

[1] A persecutory delusion. Whom or what directed these “arbitrary disruptions”? While not specifically isolated here, at heart, Aeneas believes, irrationally, that the government, aliens, or demons have demiurged these “accidents.”

[2] Presumably, a falcon or an eagle may have better suited somebody of his station and been a welcome addition to the doldrums of his bedroom.

May Sixth

“So, will you be spending Sunday with your mother?”

There’s nothing worse than having Mike Snitman in your nose first thing after lunch. Sniveling Snitman. They call him Snits in the office.

“Why, what’s Sunday?” I wrote with black pen over the imprint area of the scratch pad. The Amasia line from Captain Notepad.[1] Standard fifty pound white paper. Fifty-two cents per pad when you purchase five hundred. I hang onto them and file them away when my parley is especially memorable: elequent cursive over the two-dimensional bluish impression of the twain continents that adorns the stationary.

“It’s Mother’s Day. What’s wrong with you? Don’t tell me you forgot your dear old mother?”

 Everybody likes Sniveling Snitman. He’s such a good guy. He sincerely cares about every corporate event, every commercial holiday, every piece of information that crawls through this place, the price of this and the price of that, the price of gas, the daily newspaper, the corporate art that gets shipped to this place, the corporate coffees, the corporate meetings, the corporate lunches, the corporate mail, the corporate eMessages, the corporate handshakes, the corporate slaps on the back, the price of gas, the denigrating talk about the women in the office that in a roundabout way is corporate, the going rate of home mortgages, the leasing cost of one upscale car or another, the usefulness of home exercise machines, the price of gas, the effectiveness of capsule vitamins, how to best cook a steak on the barbeque, and so much more.

In short, he cares about everything that I don’t care about. He was also one of the only people that spoke to me on a regular basis. Even though he always talks about his trivial concerns, he’s not entirely evil. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on him, but I just can’t turn my damn head off.

“I’ll visit my mother.” I didn’t have anything especially witty to write.

“I sure hope so. Nothing is more important than our mothers, wouldn’t you agree? Well, except our car stereos and the dolls between our sheets. Hah, hah! Right?”

What’s he sniveling about now?

“Did you get the memo from upstairs? We lost the Debreziner account. That’s big, man! That could mean jobs here. Debreziner was a multi-million account. Somebody is going to have to take the hit for that one. A few of us are going for a drink after work to jaw the matter over. We’re really worried down here. With reason, right? From what I hear, Solondz is getting pressure from upstairs to bear down on us. He’s getting all the heat for Debreziner, but it’s not him alone. Solondz! That poor bastard.”

With Snits on your back, it’s like having a bad case of fleas: they get in your socks and in your hair, in your pants and behind your ears. I’ve got a bad case of the Snits and there is nothing I can do about it because he’s one of my only friends around here, only the occasional bites are turning into rivulets, and I don’t know how much more blood I have the courage to lose.

“I have to get back to work, Mike.” His scribbled name looms large over SuperAsia like a specter.[2]

“Don’t you care about all of this? The lights are on, but is there anybody home? Take a copy of the morning minutes. Read over them tonight and tell me what you think tomorrow. A lot went on in the meeting. I’m not sure, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Hey, did you hear about John?”

He brought his body closer to mine, his stubby hand on my shoulder, pink balding head looking around for eavesdroppers, thick coffee-breath fanning across my cheek.

“He’s up to three-twenty five now! Can you believe that? That’s like benching you and me together like firewood! Hee, hee. How about that, huh! Okay, well, I’ll talk to you later.”

I’m bitten all over and there’s nothing I can do. Maybe I’ll get a dog to scratch the fleas off me. I rub the crystal totem in my pocket, yearning for a Hellenic getaway.

[1] Named after the hypothetical supercontinent, not the supermarket chain. Succintly stated, the continents of Gaea are said to have been prehistorically unified and not cleaved into Western and Eastern landmasses.

[2] The Eastern continent that comprises Afrika, Asia, Australis, and the Antarktic

May Ninth

I have no intention of visiting with my mother anytime soon. I haven’t spoken to her in many many years since my biological father died.[1] But I will visit with my grandmother who has been in my life since only recently. I have been doing my very best to take care of her, even though I don’t know all that much about her. Don’t get me wrong, the nursing home she’s living in is a great place. The Elyse Gardens Retirement Village near Mortimer Avenue (Building number 825, just down the street from the Civic Center and across from one of the elementary schools I went to). It’s a nice name for a retirement home.  She gets everything she needs at the Elyse.

My grandmother is afflicted with schizophrenia according to the doctors. What is schizophrenia anyways? What does it mean to be schizophrenic? Is there such a thing as a reality in the world and who can decisively say if the civilized world possesses it?[2] No, I don’t want definitions and I don’t want these types of answers. I have heard enough of them in my lifetime. I have had my share of meetings with doctors and psychiatrists.

Everybody points to chemicals in the brain as the answer to my grandmother’s condition. Chemicals in the brain are a half-truth at best! Chemicals in the brain are a case of mistaking the condition for the cause. Naturally, the specialists are aware of this, but they don’t let on as much.

I sent an eMessage to Mr. Solondz’s telling him that I’m feeling sick this morning and that I won’t be able to come into work. It’s going to look very bad for me, but I’ve got more important things to do today. Besides, what’s another blotch on my stained record? It’s like high school all over again. I am recurrently late and absent. What does that point to? What is the meaning of my being consistently late and absent? What can I say, it must be a chemical thing: ‘It’s the chemicals, sir, something’s a-matter with the chemicals!’

On the couch. There’s an old black and white picture on the IQbox today—some guy gets thrown off a roof and then they put a newspaper over him. It’s a movie about pigeons or something. “Some people think crucifixions only took place in ancient times. They better smarten up! Every time the mob puts the squeeze on a decent man and tries to stop him from playing his part as a good citizen—it’s a crucifixion!”[3]

How can somebody be crucified and not even know it? Can there be such a thing as an invisible crucifixion? The whole matter sounds ridiculous. What will they think of next? Isn’t a crucifixion supposed to be obvious? Isn’t that the whole point of a crucifixion? I don’t know about all this crucifixion business. But I do know that trees shouldn’t be implicated in the mess. It must be unavoidable, somehow.

Blood always finds its ways onto trees. It can’t be helped. It’s one of the Gaea’s deep mysteries. If it were up to me I would spare trees from being cut down entirely. There isn’t a story or a contract in the world worth printing or a crucifix worth crafting if it means cutting down a tree. The way things are now I’d say we’ve gotten our reward. Things have a way of working themselves out. The trees are slowly settling the score. With the score of global environmental crises looming on the horizon, can there be any doubt?[4] Our blood feud has sketched the millennia. The bundled pulp is laid in rows over cold factory floors, there is nothing I can do about that—but I write, that’s what I do in atonement. My boiling blood pored over paper. I hope my life will satisfy the trees in the slightest.

Lying on the floor. I’ve read somewhere that the entire universe is composed of numbers and that numbers are not merely aggregate indicators of amounts (like how are there are twelve planets in our solar system or that it takes Trismegistus[5] one-hundred-and-twenty-two days to make one full revolution around Sol), they are living deities, each with its own unique personality and occult powers. If my teachers taught math this way in high school, I might have actually paid attention, instead of surfing through the black holes in my mind and ending up in summer school with the rest of the flunkies.

A cross has four sides, so what does that mean? If the number four is a deity, he or she is probably some math geek with a cross fetish and a gluttonous appetite for inflicting punishment. In Hebrew, God’s personal name is a four-letter word made up of four consonants. I can’t write Hebrew, but in Roman it is rendered as ‘YHWH.’ Does that mean ‘YHWH’ is the number four deity? Then who is the God of all numbers? Phoebus the Radiant? Either way, I take back the geek comment. I should avoid probing too deep or pissing off the wrong deities. Who knows what rock I might kick over in my explorations and what size scorpion may be lurking beneath?

Cutting through an alleyway. A small bag of ketchup chips and a Cherry OK to wash it down. Written on the wall is: TERRY ROSE WHERE DID YOU GO?[6] I spray-painted that a few years ago in quite a few places across the Narrows. That was before Project Typhon and BOUNDLESS.[7] I thought I could walk to the park and have a turn on the swings. Bater Avenue to Floyd. I’ve always loved the name ‘Floyd.’ The word sounds fluorescent or something. It’s a cool word in any case. I wouldn’t mind if I grew up on a street called ‘Floyd.’ I grew up on ‘Grandstand’ and before we moved there we lived on ‘Frankdale.’ You can kind of tell what kind of person you are, or will end up becoming, just by looking at the name of the street(s) you grew up on.[8]

I currently live on ‘Broadview’ and before that I lived on ‘Grandstand’ and before that it was ‘Frankdale’ and before that…well I can’t remember that far back. Starting with ‘Broadview,’ well…the meaning is fairly obvious. Picture me on my eighth floor balcony, overlooking the expanse of Queen City. Granted it’s only the eighth floor. We’re not talking atop a tower-peak or anything. Still the view from the top of the building is quite far-ranging. I’d like to describe it as encyclopedic, but I can’t back that up. ‘Broad’ sounds about right.

‘Grandstand’ speaks for itself. My life has been one fearless grandstand against the Narrows—a steel-palm to the face, a granite-knee to the groin, a hammer-stomp on the foot. The unstoppable force versus the immovable object. Hercules versus Atlas, Achilles versus Troy, Socrates versus Athens, the Savior versus Rome. The heroic tradition continues. I couldn’t wait to reach the swings. I popped open the bag and crunched a chip. I slurped some Cherry OK. It only burned a little at first and then it was pure sweetheart joy. There was a guy running in my direction from the far end of Floyd. He seemed to be waving me down. I hastily swallowed the jagged, half-chewed chips.

“Hey, man.”

I half-nodded in acknowledgment.

“You don’t remember me, do you? We went to Coxburn together. Jimmy. Jimmy Cassias. That ring a bell?”

I shook my head.

“You don’t remember me, right? You’ve got amnesia? Is that it? You owe me money, Dimo! Two-hundred large!”

I tried to steer clear of him.

“You’re not trying to walk away, are you? You’re not trying to Dimo…Duma…what the fuck’s the difference when you owe two-hundred large! Give me your wallet! I’ll take what you owe.”

I pushed his roving hands away.

“You owe me money! Why so quiet, huh? You owe me! I knew you’d do this!”

He jabbed my stomach with something sharp. I turned to break his husky grip, but he held me tight by the shirt.

“Don’t do that. We’re old friends, right? Just give me the leather.”

Another jab to the ribs. He reached around and pulled the wallet out from my back pocket.

“Don’t make me do this, Dimo. Just pay up!” He opened up my wallet and rustled through the bills. “Thirty-bucks? You’re skint worse than me! Here, just to show you I’m not a bad guy, take your wallet back. I’ll get the rest from you next time. You won’t forget next time, right? Here’s so you won’t forget!”

Three more lances to the stomach and I was on the ground trying to regain my breath.

The ketchup chips and the Cherry OK had spilt everywhere. He must have been using a key between his knuckles. Rotten bastard! What the hell was he talking about? Owing him money? From Coxburn? I don’t think I’d forget a low-life mug like his. Two-hundred bucks? For what? If that was a knife I’d be dead right now instead of lying in a pool of OK Kola.

Speaking of knives, where’s mine? I must of left my steel at home! Damn it! He’s long gone now anyway. How could I’ve left my steel at home? What’s wrong with me? Here’s an opportunity to stand up for the oppressed and nothing! I go down like some little kid getting punked in the schoolyard, folding to his knees after one punch to the breadbasket. Alright, take it easy. It wasn’t one punch. I took like five or six jabs and with a key! He jumped me too. Acting like he knew me. He got lucky, that’s all. I’m going find that tricky bastard and pay him back rightwise! I always get tripped up with technicalities. If he challenged me straight-up, with no tricks or anything else allowed, there’s no way he could have beat me. I’ll get him back! Slippery bastard! Where are the authorities anyhow? All that BOUNDLESS video and nobody to survey it.

[1] Jean-Jacques Louis, Aeneas’ biological father, died of heart complications whilst traveling cross-country on a bus. In his will, he bestowed upon Aeneas’ his entire inheritance, including a ‘47-48′ Maurice Rochon rookie card, a bronze Attic helmet with a griffin crest, and his meager cash holdings. 

[2] A flagrant, world-contempting, third-degree Aeneid (Egregiousness).

[3] Crucifixion was an archaic and barbaric form of torture where a vicitim is nailed to a piece of wood, composed of an upright and transverse beam, and left to hang until dead. The Romans were very fond of crucifixion to humiliate insurgents against the empire. It is often cited as a political symbol of the oppressed agonizing under the boot of the empire.

[4] Every minute over 50 acres of tropical forests are destroyed. Mankind releases 37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. The level of carbon dioxide in the 20th century has been the highest in history. By 2060, 24% to 37% of our plant and animal species will be wiped out. There will be an increase of 23 inches in sea levels by 2075.

[5] The deified, planetary form of “thrice-great” Hermes Trismegistus, priest, philosopher, and king, who authored a plenitude of writings of “high standing and immense antiquity,” including the Corpus Hermeticum, which demonstrates the verity of the prisca theologia and includes the three parts of the wisdom of the whole universe. Hermes Trismegistus is the smallest and closest to Sol of the twelve planets in the solar and is the most rapidly moving. The Passage of Hermes Trismegistus across Sol takes place every four years when Hermes comes between Sol and Gaea, and Hermes is seen as a small black dot moving across the face of Sol. Transits of Hermes occur in May or November. The last Passage occurred in 1997 and the next transit will occur on May 17, 2001, Sol willing.

[6] Terry Rose was Aeneas’ oldest friend. They have known each other since birth and have been together through countless hairy situations. Terry Rose is 6’1, 190 lbs, with long blonde hair and blue eyes. He was quick to anger and more loyal than a St. Bernard, physicality indefatigable, and courageous beyond measure. He was also prone to dishonesty and often disrespectful of authority and institutions. A student to the “code of the street,” he was without belief in schools of higher learning, except for a conspicuous and ardent fascination with the figure of Yeshua ben Yosef, which is mostly due to the influence of Aeneas’ inordinate obessesion with all things Yosef, heedless of their historicity or apocryphal nature. His father, Andy, an obdurate thief and fanatical gambler, had driven his family to financial ruin and to the point of vagrancy on more than one occasion. His mother, Olivia, crippled by the shame of their destitution and her consequent isolation, more often than not, was rendered mute and delegated to utterly inconsequentiality. Andy disappeared without a trace sometime in Terry’s youth, leaving Terry to care for his mother and younger brother, Caleb. 

[7] The BOUNDLESS surveillance program was developed as a necessary tool to fight terrorism, prevent social unrest, protect national security, fight child pornography, and protect citizens. Project Typhon was initiated on March 3, 2000, after top-secret documents were stolen from the Octagon on June 3, 1999, and leaked in Asia the following month. The documents were purported to contain top-secret military Intel and the leak was labeled as “the most catastrophic blow to Amerikan intelligence ever” by influential Amerikan journalist and Evening News anchor Billy Batson. It is estimated over one trillion dollars were spent in generation of Project Typhon in GreatAmerika in 1999 and 2000.

[8] A completely invalid theory and a third-degree Aeneid (Egregiousness) to boot

May Tenth

A darkness is coming that will blanket Queen City like an ominous cloud.  A nefarious mass is fast approaching that threatens to swallow us whole. We are teetering on the brink of hell, my brothers and sisters. A large number of forces are currently acting against us, blunting the restorative activity of our souls. The most alarming of these forces is the increasing accumulation of men and women in cities resulting in more and more useless occupations: labor for the sake of labor and nobody knows what is on the end of our long fork anyways!

Where’s this numbness coming from if not our jobs? People commit crimes just to make news and sell more newspapers; waste creates new and interesting job opportunities; homes are built to store exciting new products. Those of us with any sense left take the money and run, becoming islands unto ourselves. What is left for a man to do? Buy the super-special-savings package: car-life-wife insurance, micro-kid-garden-wave set, ultra-thin-garage-tool-weight kit: two-for-the-price-of-one, buy-one-get-one-free, air-mile-rain-check, buy-now-save-later, club-pack deal.

These jobs that stupefy us are directly responsible for producing a craving for spectacle. Something has to happen all the time! Whatever it may be, it is there in plain view for all of us to see. Of course, it never is what it says it is. Different names and titles and packages is how it keeps us distracted and thirsting for more. But we forget to study the past. Where have we come from? Can the past tell us where we are going? We forget because there is so much, too much to remember. It is such a great weight to carry and for too long a time.

The last thing I remember is the height, the image of the height; there is such a great height for us to climb down from, to crash down. It is accepted because the spectacle is what we’re after anyhow, the payoff for a life of choking labour, needling morning bells, and grubby bus fare. There is nothing more exciting than a loud crash: a bang and a boom, we all fall down!

When I think of the immensity of our degrading thirst, I am almost ashamed to speak of the feeble attempt made in these journals to stifle it. Our coming fall is rattling in my ears, a shallow clicking behind my eardrums. Even the end will arrive too late to save us from our boredom.

Reflecting upon the scale of general evil, I shudder to think of our chances to survive the approaching darkness had I not a deep belief in a certain indestructible quality within us to oppose this spectral presence. The time is fast approaching when the evil of our city will be opposed by men of greater power than myself and with far more success.

Mankind will outlast the cockroach. This is my great belief. God will not smother us with another flood because even the waters are polluted and the Almighty does not like to get his sleeves dirty. We need more time. There is still time. Please wait for us. It’s not time.’[1]

Queen City. There will be a reckoning time for the Narrows, a sealed moment when our quarrel will come to head. You’ve got the squeeze on me but I’m getting closer to your black heart. I’m getting closer everyday and I will draw a bead on you! It’s either you or me that has to go.

I walked out on the balcony and gazed fixedly at the horizon. I was feeling more and more tired every single day. I didn’t know what to do to fix myself. My stomach felt like it was lined with barbed wire. I wanted to crank my head off my neck for a moment just so I could breathe comfortably. The sky was heavy with rain clouds. The Narrows would have to weather a storm today. A small flock of geese dashed across the sky. An armada of black bombers. I had a toothache that was driving nails into my sinuses. I could barely hold myself up from under the pain. Numberless pellets trailed down after the thunder and I retreated back into my cave to rest my foundering back.

The Myth of the Ubiquitous Man’ was a brief story I wrote while I was in high school at Coxburn. Maybe I was overly sentimental, but I could not help looking back. I remember being in that classroom, somewhere near the outskirts, staring pensively out of the window.[2]

Sitting alone at my desk, after years of shrewdly keeping to myself, harnessing all of my strength to remain composed, while every fiber of my body wanted to speak out, to be heard against my own will, I would heroically redirect emotions towards the inside the way a dam controls the flow of water in order to build a reservoir. It was the only way I knew of coping with the feeling that I would die from the humiliation of being a person like any other.

Every day I felt like I would be rendered to pieces from some unknown presence, from violent hands invisible. Building a reservoir was how I coped. I sat vigilant at the fringes of the classroom, watching the birds freezing outside the second-storey window, huddling together to brave the cold and I helpless to rescue them, wanting to feel the bitter bite of the cold with them.

The exam sheets were handed out face down along with foolscap paper. I hadn’t studied, as was my custom. I had barely attended class during the year. Wait, that’s an exaggeration—I was in school two-thirds of the required time, an admirable fraction upon reflection. There was one major question on the exam. I can’t remember what it was exactly, but I do recall that the question was fairly straightforward. Something to do with the media, I think,  examining the notion of books becoming bestsellers due to celebrity endorsement. I don’t remember exactly because I didn’t even care at the time.

I responded to the question indirectly with a fictional piece. The title came to me in a flash and I spent the first part of our allotted time, a little over an hour, contemplating the meaning of the title before I began to write. What came next was furious and original. I can’t even say where it came from or what kindled the inspiration; it was like a flame darting across my mind, inciting a big bang in the consciousness of my consciousness. I needed to act immediately. I pulled two pens out my bag: a red and a black.

There were two points of view in ‘The Myth of the Ubiquitous Man’ illustrated through alternating currents of dialogue. The red ink represented the thoughts of the man, while the black sketched the city view: the reflections of buildings, streets, and the surrounding industrial area.

A man cannot battle a city anymore than a flesh and blood being can antagonize a ghost, but this type of logic did not impede the Ubiquitous Man. He could be as spectral as his foe. Buildings and streets were not ethereal, they were solid and real, but this was only the outward form of an ancient residing evil. Some malicious entity circumnavigated these Druidical structures, tightening its stony grip over all who lived amongst brick and mortar. Red was vital, black was void.

There was the common material perspective of the city in black and then there was the red vision the Ubiquitous Man imparted. The ‘Ubiquitous Man’ was only one of many titles this man held. ‘The Hammer’ was another. What kind of man was this? What was he trying to accomplish?

He told his followers to keep his identity a secret. He tried to keep hidden, but the city knew all about him. It was conspiring to bring him out into the open where he would be powerless before the narrow sidewalks and the colossal skyscrapers; defenseless before the sewers containing agents of unspeakable horror, fuming noxious gases amidst the unassuming populace; lost below the numberless telephone wires, the veins of the city reaching across the landscape like dark industrial jungle vines, innocuous and stretched dormant until they are requisitioned to make a sortie.

Everything in the city was part of some secret operation to make the invisible visible and the Hammer was no exception. In fact, he was a very important target. The city bided its time, drawing him out, sinew-by-sinew. A squint here and a dust-up there, the Hammer knifed from left to right, in and out of corners and dirty alleyways, but it was getting harder and harder to hide in the city.

Through some enigmatic sleight of hand, the Hammer could vanish from sight like no other. I don’t know how he does it. When the going gets tough and his back is against a wall—poof—he was gone! Here today, gone tomorrow. He puts salt on those familiar words.

Cemeteries were once an excellent hiding place for him. The somber atmosphere of the tombstones lent itself to the subterranean nature of his schemes, and even if there were such a thing as ghosts in the morose surroundings, he would remain calm and sensible, confident all the while that he could teach them a thing or two about the haunting business.

He would stray through the city like some mangy alley cat, not having bathed in over a week, the words of Pylos John[3]waltzing through his mind:

‘We are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wickedness in high places under various guises. Therefore put on the whole armor of truth and light that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand with the sword of spirit in hand triumphant.’

He drawled the words often, changing them each time. Mostly he would utter them to himself and he would get goose-bumps even without an audience. This is where the story neared its finale.

The Hammer told his followers, the few in number, to keep his teachings secret and invisible. Everything about him centered on invisibility. That was the way of the Hammer. The silent wrecker of cities, the mousy dissipater of civilizations, he was everywhere and nowhere. He was everything human that survived wars and economic depressions, widely outrunning disease and famine, loved and prized beyond the yoke of any government. He would come around every so often, whispering into people’s ears, giving shape to their dreams and voice to their buried anxieties, the people’s champion if there ever was one…if such a wishful character could ever exist, stories about them wouldn’t be necessary. Or was it the other way around? Are the stories written to record the deeds of these heroic individuals or perhaps to harbinger their arrival? I wish I knew.

[1] Composed on April 1, 1999, after a long and dark night of the soul. Half-sincere, with one eye on the page and the other turned inwards, in a reflective and self-congratulatory fashion, Aeneas imagining himself to be a serious writer, penciling serious writing, that will somehow be revealed to the world at large through some happy accident and change the course of history. A fifth-degree Aeneid: pretentious, dry, haranguing, pseudo-literary drivel.

[2] Staring moodily out of windows and other theatrical gestures is a staple of coming-of-age novels.

[3] Pylos John or John the Revelator, was a first-century philosopher and mystery-religion priest who believed that Yeshua ben Yosef had been resurrected from the dead, rose to the heavens, and would return, at the end of days, to judge the dissenting tribes of Israel and restore order to the world. The Enchiridion of John is one of the most influential monist texts from the ancient world, analysing the life of Yeshua ben Yosef and interpreting his writings from under an idealistic and exultant lens. The Enchiridion of John is a manual on how to live in concord with the risen Yeshua ben Yosef and The One