The Empty Promise of a Brand New Day, Back Story Pt.1

Every morning the sun rises from behind the hills, and, glowing with warmth and life, lies to my face. A new day has begun, but within this day lives the same cynicism, the same egoism, and the same dim remorse as any other day. There are moments in the dawn that clang like trash cans spilled by strays that lurk just out of sight, and in those moments I bolt from my cot, I scratch and pull at my shirt, and I remember how the light in the bathroom was uncovered and harsh, smearing illumination across the stains on the sink and floor; lending unwanted dimension to the dried piss crusting the toilet seat as my head pitched forward and cracked against the side. Memories deep and mean like a quarry, red from rust and wet from rain. I see flashes of the evil twat once known to me as the Eternal Camile with her lips splotched and red, her tootsie roll nipples and velveteen heart, her scatter shot mind blasting me straight to jail. Camile, you rotten tomato, you Benji-fucking scum, you turn-coat whore of a slut, you master of disaster in your mask of angry zits. Oh…when next I see you, then we shall see…make book on it!

And now the bees rise like a cloud from the overturned garbage of the morning, and they descend into my hair and burrow into my ears, stinging and swelling and buzzing. I clench my fists and ask my friend the Wall to hand me some good news so that I might clear my mind of this shit storm, but the Wall gazes past me, unconcerned. My lost freedom itches like a phantom limb. My neck is already stiff with tension. An unseen screw is turned, tightening my skull. My cellmate Jody complains, “You’d better stop grinding your teeth, ass wipe!” I tell him that unless he wants to taste the bottom of my foot via the hard way, he’d better mind his own business, and he, as is his wont, punches his cot. “Damnit! I hate it here! I hate YOU!” I laugh and call him a baby, because that’s what he is: an over-sized, hairy baby, with no social skills. He flops around his cot like an frustrated trout.

And so the morning marches on.

People who feel they know me are probably looking for precious backstory: how did Pendel’s sorry ass land in the clink? The story is long, but I guess I have some time. When it all went down, it seemed so unreal to me, like everything was happening in a brain gone bad, as if, in reality I was lying strapped down to a bed in a mental institution at the top of a black hill, and the doctors were telling my dad that it was useless to talk to me, that I can’t hear him, that the strange things I was saying and doing were part of the brave, new world I had constructed in my mind, that I was not responding to medication, that I was never coming back. With the magic of hindsight, of course, I can now see that everything that took place is all part of the normal, natural order for any person who becomes involved in selling weed.

In my heart—my blackened cinder of a heart—I (justly) blame Benji and Camile for everything. It was their malice that turned my karma shit black. It was their corroborations that saved Benji from sharing my fate. It was they that flinched at the first sign of trouble, and turned Sugar against me with pitiable lies. If they hadn’t…oh, but I get ahead of myself.

******

So here goes nothing:

The nagging rain and dead gray sky notwithstanding, my day really turned to stone the moment I entered the old folks home. Debora Fanning immediately materialized from thin air and stepped—with more grace than a woman of her size deserves—into my path. “Pendel. A word?” I asked her if she promised that it would only be, in fact, one word she planned on sharing with me and her already thin mouth disappeared into the dough of her face. I was all like, hey man, give me a break. I’ve been helping Big Bill wipe ass, no complaints. She held a hand up to quiet me, which I freaking hate like death, but allowed it for now, because I am in control of all things Pendel. “There were men here again. But they weren’t the same men as the last time, Pendel.” She looked at me sideways as if I had something to spill, which I did.

Ok, I said, well, I need more information, Pilsbury.

“They had badges. They were detectives. They were narcotics officers.”

OUCH. But my face is unchanged, I am an ice sculpture of feigned confusion. I betray nothing. Debora, what did they want? Is it about my sister (I apologize to you Clare for having so cavalierly thrown you under the bus, but you know what a shit I am)?

“It is not.” Debora Fanning has a gaze as level as a gyroscope. It is fearless, but I am great and terrible. We are well matched, Fanning and I. “Pendel, I have had a lot of young people serve their community service with me. Do you know what that means?”

It means you’re middle aged.

“Pendel, it means that I’m no fool. It means that you might think you have me duped, but I can assure you that you do not. Narcotic officers don’t just come around asking for people. They ask questions about people. People they think might have reason to be up to no good. They check to see if people have jobs.”

So, I have a job. I love it here. Adult diapers and daisy chains.

“You realize of course that I cannot and will not cover for you. I do not know you. It’s not my place to trust you or rehabilitate you. This is not your job, it is your court ordered sentence, and I told them as much. Get yourself together, Pendel. I don’t know what you’re doing, but I don’t need the trouble, and neither do the other very good people who work here. Not to mention the poor souls who have come here to end their days in peace.”

What could I say? All the braggadocio in the world cannot change the fact that I am, in fact, a hindrance to Debra Fanning and the Silver Fox Players. I don’t admit it to her and never would, but I am a gambler in a game of unquestionable consequences. It’s cliche, but the walls are, in fact, closing in around me. I feel it in my head. I find myself looking for escape routes where ever I go. I check outside windows for sturdy drainpipes or adequate cracks. I check stairways for roof access. I have written out and destroyed more than five different options for home emergency egress. I have a supply of non-perishables stashed in a certain park and I refuse to reveal to any of you untrustworthy harpies the exact location. The other day as I headed out the door, Sugar Bear asked me where I was going, and I told him I was biking down to the Taco Bell on East Main. Immediately I suspected him of everything bad in the world. I then proceeded to pedal my ass as fast as humanly possible to the shop across the street from the Taco Bell—some stupid little shithole with the inexplicable name of Artistic Sandwich and Pizza. I hid behind a car in the parking lot for twenty minutes to see whether or not I had been followed. Make sense? Fuck no. How would I know the difference between a regular customer and the cops? Why would getting a taco on that night be any different from any other? If I was being FOLLOWED, then wouldn’t they have seen me turn into this lot? All these questions mattered not because my mind was fried beyond belief with worry. Oh, and pot. Which also just so happened to make the fucking taco, when I finally purchased and devoured it along with two of its brothers, one of the best tacos I had ever had in my LIFE (for more on my past experiences with tacos, CLICK HERE).

I lamely suggested to Debora Fanning that perhaps these gentlemen with badges (and therefore guns) must have simply been trying to question me about a friend of mine, someone with whom I had most DEFINITELY cut all ties, as a matter of fact, now that I think about it DEBORA, I know EXACTLY about whom they must be curious.

I had my regular smoke with my new old friend Charlie Murphy, and I told him I didn’t know how much longer he and I would be able to hang out. He shook his head and sighed, “Goddamn you, you just couldn’t stay out of trouble.” I agreed that no, I couldn’t.

“When are they coming for you?”

I really have no clue.

“You even know they’re cops?”

I just shook my head and finished a beer, crushing the can on my head with a belch. Charlie shook his head again. I forgot the question entirely a mere two minutes after he asked it.

I’m pretty sure I wiped an ass or two before heading out the door, but seeing as I have blocked as many of these particular traumatic events from my mind as possible, it’s tough to say. I biked home in the dreary rain and had already pushed open the door of my faded abode before a frightening realization brought me to a halt. The door wasn’t locked, and that was a HUGE problem. I was just thinking that someone (i.e. that fucking asshole Benji—you rotten piece of fucking shit I can’t WAIT to tear you a new asshole) was going to hear it from me, because you simply DO NOT EVER leave our door unlocked for OBVIOUS reasons, when the fact that the door jamb was a mess of splintered wood bubbled up to the top level of my mind and set everything inside me on high alert. I wiped the rain dripping from my hair from my eyes and backed one step toward the street. Dim light spilled out onto the front steps, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember if any had been left on when I left earlier in the day. I focused my entire existence upon the crack made by the partially opened door and listened.

“Hey man, don’t be shy, get your ass in here. It’s fucking wet outside.”

The voice, which caused my cock to turn ice-cold and shrivel into nothing, came from inside the house, but the hand that shoved me forward most definitely came from behind. I tripped over the sill and nearly fell flat on my face before the same hand (I assume) steadied me roughly and then immediately began to drag me the rest of the way into the front room of the house. At first I was simply too shocked to do or say anything, I simply let the disembodied hand throw me into one of our dilapidated chairs.

“That’s it. Get comfy.”

The sound of the voice speaking again brought me back, and I looked around wildly and began to stand, but was hit on the back of the head with something not quite hard like a semi-thawed carton of ice cream (I never found out what it actually was) and found my seat again pretty quickly. Cold steel was at my throat and I became very still. It’s funny, really, how certain things can focus a person. Is it genetic? It must be. A young man who has never seen a woman undress, even if he’s never heard the tales, would become very focused the moment it happened in front of him. He doesn’t need anybody to tell him where to look or what’s important. It’s all reflex; nature takes over. In a very disturbing way, the knife pressing just below my adams apple produced much the same effect. I was a statue with five senses, baby.

I gathered quickly that there were two men in the room with me. They had turned on only one lamp, the living room was dim, and I couldn’t see much. It appeared as though none of the other rooms had been entered, or, if they had, the lights had since been extinguished. The men in the room—and you know, all this shit is very foggy now—seemed to both be around average size and…how else to put it?…of average hair. I don’t know. Like I said, it’s all foggy. Fuck you if you don’t like it. There’s lots of blogs out there littered with minutia if you want them. The weird thing though, the detail I won’t forget anytime soon (that and being ‘jump started,’ of course), are the cheap freaking Groucho Marx glasses they both wore on their faces. The ones with the fake nose, right? Oh my god. Creepy as shit and completely effective, because I couldn’t bring myself to center on ANY other facial detail. I was so fucking freaked out I almost peed.

And it was all going to get much worse.

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Dissolution of the Senses

The next day, upon my return to the old folks home, I was immediately accosted by the unassailable frumpiness of Debora Fanning. Her dark eyes flashed upon my graceful and sweeping entrance through the front doors of this palace of the damned, but they faded back behind the glow of her shiny skin soon enough, for nothing seems to keep Debora Fanning passionate for too long. “Pendel. Just the person I was looking for. A word?”  I knew it would be more than one, but I meandered over to the front desk anyway. “Pendel. I spoke with Bill Hardisty yesterday evening. He said you left him hanging with Arnold Tillerman the other day. You know anything about that?” Was she speaking of Big Bill the orderly, friend to all mankind? “His name is Bill Hardisty, and to my knowledge, he’s never left this state.” I said yes, I knew that Big Bill had been on his way to wipe Arnold’s ass, but after taking into account the size of Bill’s dinner plate-sized palms, I figured he had everything under control. Debora stuck her tongue into her cheek and looked deeply into a spot above my head. “He did not, and poor Arnold has been very itchy for the last 36 hours or more. It isn’t funny.”

Well, okay, and so I’m sorry, and so where the hell is Arnie, and let’s get those cheeks scrubbed till they shine, America. Debora Fanning clucked and frowned slightly, and scratching the back of her head she said more: “Some gentlemen were looking for you the other day. You left before I could talk to you about it.” Casually I say: Oh? Did they provide identification? Had she seen them before? “Why would they have identification? They said they represented your grandmother’s estate. It wasn’t your day to serve, and I have no clue where you go when you’re not here, so they said they would be back. Has something happened to your Grandmother?”

The funny thing about my Grandma is that she died about four years ago. And before you all fall over yourselves telling me sorry, save it. The woman never liked me anyway. Apparently I reminded her of her ex-husband, who was of course my Grandpa, who was a difficult bastard, if you believe the rumors. My Grandma, a grown—nay, elderly—woman with stuffed bears and porcelain dolls all over her country-morning-breakfast-themed house…I’m sure my Grandpa merely had to lift a cheek and fart for her to consider him an abomination. She LOVED my brother Matty, though. He was her sun. He provided her with warmth and light and made the crops grow and brought the promise of better times to come on winter mornings after the wind howled and the cold seeped into every bone during the long dark of night. Every Christmas, Matty’s gifts were larger, and always needed batteries. And after I opened my new bathrobe, when the hurt expression would betray my feelings as Matty—a child at the time and not to be blamed for his actions, I SUPPOSE—would gloat with his beeping, blinking, plastic fantastic, my Grandma would shake her head with an impatient frown and claim, “Your Grandfather was the same way. He never appreciated the things he was given.”

So, look, I plan on keeping this short, so suffice to say that I doubt very highly that anyone came around to talk to me about Grandma’s estate four years after her death. Even if there were something left to give, it wouldn’t come to unappreciative ME, unless it happened to be a box of old bathrobes.

The thing I found really disconcerting was the fact that they DIDN’T show a badge. So then what the FUCK?

I told Debora Fanning that if the men happened to show their face again, she should ask them what my Grandmother’s name is. If they don’t say Esmeralda (her actual name was Gladys), she should contact the authorities IMMEDIATELY. She furrowed her brow and opened her mouth to speak, but I touched a finger to her lips and looked about conspiratorially. Later, I said, and ducked my head low, b-lining my way to Charlie’s room.

Upon arriving, having not seen Big Bill, I closed the door and snapped my fingers several times in front of Wide-Eyed Wendell’s nose. I said aloud to him that if he could hear or say a fucking thing, now was the time to let everyone know. In response he merely breathed. I turned and faced Charlie, who was seated in his wheelchair and watching General Hospital on the television. “What’s the big goddamned deal, scaring Wendell like that?” he said. I told him time was short, and I only wanted to ask if the men who talked to him the other day told him who they were. “They didn’t tell me, but it was pretty obvious, so I didn’t ask.” So who were they then? “How should I know? Are you deaf, Pendel? I just said they didn’t tell me.” And with that he turned back to his program. Charlie is so damned cool most of the time that you forget he’s an old man, but there he is in his wheelchair, sucking on his lip, his left hand fidgeting restlessly at his armrest.

I told Wendell to keep it real as I exited, and promptly smacked my nose hard into the chest of Big Bill the orderly. “There he is, ladies and gentleman!” he roared, and he slapped a one meaty hand on my shoulder as the other palmed what seemed like a dozen white towels. “Can I have a word with you, little buddy?” Rushed with no real idea why and with my eyes watering, I tried to tell this heavily browed man with the dark, curly hair and kind face that I knew what he needed to say, but that he needn’t because I was very sorry about Arnie’s rash-covered ass, but he silenced me with a serious look.

“Buddy, I can’t have YOU leaving me hanging when I’VE got to get something hanging out of a man’s butt, okay?” I repeated all my regrets, and stressed that it wouldn’t happen again, but that I needed to be on my way. “Where’s the fire, buddy? This is my point. There’s work to be done HERE. That’s why YOU’RE here. You screwed it up out THERE, so they sent you in HERE to learn about how what you do affects others. You see?” I said yes. He laughed. “No, you don’t. Look, you’re not so new around here that you don’t know what happens to an adult’s sheets after they shit the bed. It’s easily a two-man job, sometimes more. Sometimes MORE, you see?” Bill often repeated his words, adding weight to the things he really wanted his audience to grasp. “Now, that old man has about 500 hours left in him, maximum, and you just stole the dignity out of the last 40 or so. Does that sound like a person who knows what I’m talking about? Does it SOUND that way to YOU?” I said no, because it’s the truth. Bill took his hand off my shoulder and walked away.

I sulked to the nearest cleaning supply closet and shut myself inside the acerbic dark, and wondered morosely why I was made to suffer. This eventually tuned to self-reproach—inevitably, maybe—and the sheer depth of my inability to grow or learn sat on my chest—a lead gargoyle with a sharp, sneering eyes and zero remorse for my shortcomings. My stomach was killing me. My mouth felt watery and tasted of copper.

Eventually the dark grew kinder, and soon my raw nerves, deprived of stimulus, grew calm.

****

Sugarbear was in a panic about the strangers questioning the workers of the old folks home regarding my whereabouts. He wanted to dump every cube he had right then and there, but Benji and I convinced him to reconsider. I told him that I had no idea who was looking for me yet, and as far as I knew, the eternal Camile’s mother was hunting me down for my indirect role in trashing her house-cleaning business. We kept him from disbanding our little enterprise for the time being, but Sugarbear has been far less jolly than is the norm. If his old man ever found out about how he makes his spending cash, well, kiss Wittenberg University goodbye. I honestly think he frets over this more than he does, say, oh, I don’t know…JAIL TIME. That tells you right there how much simple approval means to a human. We are weaved into a social fabric at birth, the threads tight around our throat. Struggle but a little, and the grip tightens, choking off breath and weakening your resolve.

In all honesty, I think Benji and I are most worried about having to find REAL JOBS. A large part of me is happier than I have ever been. I seem to flourish on the underside of the ship, and the thought of being pried from the hull and dragged out into the sunlight to squirm in the plain sight of others leaves me hopeless and thin.

Personally, I think the horrible bitch that lives next door has something to do with all of this. I can’t prove it yet, but she’s fat and always complains about our music and has one nose out the curtains every time I walk out to hear the birds.

She’s going to find out what trouble is if I discover she’s fucked things up for me. Make book on it.

Ugh. Something tells me I should have apologized to Arnold T. for what happened to his ass. Oh well. There’s a lot of things I should have done.

Pendel the Great and Terrible Finds Gainful Employment

One of the more bizarre ironies of living in a culture built on fear is how surprised you find yourself when the worst of those fears is realized. Seems fucking nutty. Either we never truly expected our fears to scuttle out from the dark corners left dusty and cold when we turned our backs to them, or we never really believed in our fears in the first place; rather we thrived on the thrill of being completely amped and strung-out on distant possibilities, our runny noses sniffing madly in pursuit of blessed distraction. Craving simply to fill the minutes, hours, and days until they toss dirt upon our lips and eyes, we scrape at the wall, never expecting a hole to crumble forth, never realizing just how weak the wall is until it starts to fall.

Lousy contractor. We entrusted this dick with our LIVES, and he with his shoddy workmanship doomed us all to the crushing weight of reality. And to see the other side of that hole in the wall—well holy hell. Who knew?

But we can’t talk about all that yet. First, the Move Out: It was pretty simple. I packed a box and a suitcase and threw that shit in Sugarbear’s dirty Volkswagen trunk. Easy as freaking PIE, fellow motherfuckers. When in doubt, travel light. You’re really not going to need any of the shit you’ve collected while whiling away the hours pondering the greater good, so leave it; cut it loose and let it find its next big hero.

The hard part being over, Sugarbear accompanied me back into the house where I USED to live for one last dose of disparity as my family members congregated to wish me well.

I shouldn’t be so flip. The look in Clare’s eyes tore at my heart. I asked her what the hell her problem was in far more of an irritated tone then I meant, and she flinched—which of course made me feel like even more of an asshole. I was like, hey man, I am sorry, but you are making me feel like a complete and total fuck-face. She was all like, “How can you leave me here with these weirdoes?”—meaning my mom and dad, of course—and I could tell she was seriously stricken by the thought, but I found that to be incredibly unfair. I pleaded with Clare. I was like, hey man, come on, lest we all forget, THEY kicked MY ass out. This was not my idea. “Pendel, you didn’t even ask them to reconsider. They don’t know you the way I do. They don’t know that you could get hurt.”

Sugarbear snorted and smacked my shoulder, skyrocketing my level of irritation. “You hear that, you pussy? The real world’s gonna chew you up.” I scowled deeply at both of them—why must I be underestimated at every goddamned turn? I said to Clare, look here, sister: I am made of fucking steel, get it? I cannot be broken. She just shook her head. “I know you,” she said. What the hell is that supposed to mean? I wouldn’t get the chance to find out—down the hall came the clumsy love of my mother and father. Clare clammed up and simply continued to scowl in my general direction until I left home forever.

“So this is it, yes?” asked my dad. He patted my shoulder in a very ‘now-you’re-a-man’ kind of way, and I felt absolutely no remorse whatsoever seep from a single one of his pores. My mother, on the other hand, was beside herself. Her hands bothered themselves with incessant wringing, and her eyebrows were a study in sorrow. “Oh Pendel, I think this is all wrong,” she bemoaned. Please. After everything—after she more than any other member of our sad kin made me feel like a bother and a hindrance to her happiness—she has the balls to tell me it’s wrong that I should leave. In my mind I was smashing everything dear to her into tiny bits, but outwardly I chose to be as tall as the redwoods, and I simply gave her a hug. My dad tipped me a knowing wink (though he knows very little) and comforted my mother, “This is the way of things. There’s no other way for him to become a man.” Dear lord. Really? That’s what you’re going to say? Of course he’s wrong, I could maybe get fucking LAID for once. That would help a hell of a lot more than starving to death in the back of Sugar’s shithole.

My mother took my hands, “Come over for dinner as often as you want, OK? Please? Help me not to worry.” I said fine. Realistically, coming over for dinner might be the only time I eat. “Sugar, keep him out of trouble. Keep him INSIDE.”

Sugarbear gave me a nudge. “No worries, Mrs. Haight. I got bars on the windows.”

“Oh Lord. OK. Oh boy,” worried my mother, and she turned and hugged Clare, because Clare was far more receptive to such things than any of the men around her.

My dad walked Sugar and me outside, cause that’s just the kind of fucking stand-up guy he is. “OK, ladies,” he joked. “Look, Pendel. I know you’re gonna take a couple of days to get the feel of all of this new-found independence, but after that, come by, OK?” I said fine. Then he took me by the shoulders and looked me square in the face. “I will be right here, son.” I got the distinct impression that he was not only giving me reassurances, but also warning me of his continued vigilance—which is a complete joke. Although my parents did much in the way of keeping me alive in regards to caloric intake and clothing, when it came to guidance and structure…but this is horseshit. They tried, I resisted, and the world spun restlessly on and on.

So basically, my leaving home was a complete non-event.

That night I celebrated liberation with Bear, Benji, and Hugh—Hugh being the name we gave to the wizard-shaped ceramic bong belonging to Benji. As I have said before, Bear’s old man is letting us crash cheaply at a property he owns near the corner of Rubsam and Race. Kind of a shit-hole, but I’m not really complaining. The gray paint is slowly giving up, the lawn is the color of hopelessness, and the cracked driveway speaks of a world long after the death of the last man as nature once again claims the spots we had worn thin. Nevertheless, the bedroom I have on the ground floor near the kitchen is my own, the living room has a television and cable and the promise of a life free from lectures and suspicion, and my roommates seem to genuinely enjoy my company (for the most part). The jabbing tip of springs as they force their heads out from nearly every cushion of every ass-related surface is barely noticeable when you spend as much time rocking the skull of Hugh as we do.

How do I afford such luxury, you ask? It’s a great question. I do have work, but the work is tricky to talk about, if you get my meaning. Basically, I work for Sugarbear. Benji and I both do, really. We single-handedly run the sales and delivery department of Sug’s fantastically lucrative plastic cube business. Suffice to say there’s a certain amount of glamour involved. The client makes a call to my man Sugarbear, who places the order in the hands of the raggedly loyal Benji or myself, and off we go on our various modes of transport with a generous supply of cubes, each one full of it’s own special brand of magic.

With sincere purpose I pedal into the night (or day, I guess…whichever), nervous but free from it all, and I visit all parts of town, delivering Sugar’s flawless product. I climb sagging steps and cross gated paths unhindered; I am welcomed warmly into hovels of sand and gilded halls; I am given Mountain Dew and I am offered red wine and everywhere around me there are smiles which are unique purely in their genuineness. I leave strewn behind me a trail of happy people. Hell, if I could only get the crabby bitches in the old folk’s home to feel the same way, I would have been tempted to think I’m entering into an honest-to-god period of renewal.

And to think I dreaded the working world.

Yes, times seemed to be quite high, but of course awakening must soon break a dream realized. After just a couple of weeks of living with a smile, I began to see the dark sedan parked innocently in front of our house, and thought nothing of it. Hindsight is a useless appendage.

The Way-Fucked Circle of Life

It’s fucking crazy to think that sending a guy like ME to an old folks’ home is going to do ANYBODY any good at ALL.

My court appearance went off without a hitch. Processed like meat, cleansed of disease, stamped with assurances—I am made anew, and shall never stray from the path of direct righteousness again. They said to me, “Pendel, you have done wrong by us…why did you wander into the dark? Tell us what you saw while you were there.” And I said please give me a chance to explain, oh devisors of the faith, oh commanders of the wallow, oh brandishers of the law and sickle—my time in shadow was wasted…wasted…and now I’ve returned to the light and my sight is restored. Take pity. Have mercy. Show me the same clemency you would reserve for yourself. Are we not brothers? Has your life been a simple traipse from one patch of verdant truth to the next? Or did you struggle? Was there a climb over rock and stone with bleeding palms and cracked fingers and the thinning air shortening your breath as the sand trickled into your eyes? Did you stumble over cracks in the twilight? Was there never a moment of fear and doubt when, roused for a moment from your daydreams, you looked around to find the streets were strange and the windows cracked and boarded? Are you a fucking prodigy? Have you never soiled a finger while wiping your ass? Do you ever even shit AT ALL? Or are you magically immaculate, with every tender bite of veal dissolving like a drop of dew in the morning sunlight; no need for the crude stomach, the vile intestine?

“Are you quite through?” asked the judge, an old, dry fuck by the name of Parrott.

“Would you just shut up already?” pleaded Uncle Ben—whom you all know by now.

But I could not stop throwing myself upon the mercy of the court: Let me tell you a dream I once had, your honor (I begged). I was only a boy at the time—which in reality for me was not so long ago—and the summer was upon us and it was fucking HOT. I mean, you live here, you know how it gets. It’s brutal, your honor. The humidity is a living thing that fills your lungs; a sloth with hot breath sitting upon your shoulder, holding you down while the algae in its coat slowly creep down your neck and chest. I fucking HATE IT and I always have, and I complain viciously until all around me pray for a coma to take me until milder days arrive.

Evening falls, and the asshole sun finally finds it in its boiling heart to sink behind the hills, but still the bloated air presses its sweaty hand over your nose and mouth, suffocating you. Such barometric oppression is twice as distracting to a child as he tries to sleep, and to ME, ever the super fucking SENSITVE one, it is three times so. But my mother and father—too cheap to turn on the freaking battered window unit that could have saved us all from perdition and YEARS of mild spite—resolved the issue as inexpensively as they possibly could by letting us all sleep in the living room that night in front of one crappy, tore up box fan (as opposed to procuring a fan for each one of us, which would have broke the goddamned BANK, no doubt). Kids love this kind of shit, however, and the break from routine was welcome. We giggled and farted our way down the hall that night, our pillows under our arms—Pendel, Clare, and Matty—happy then because we knew no better; happy because to us, shelter was all there was, a roof over your head and a shirt on your back and the smile on the face of your father or your mother—never to see the worried creases in their foreheads when they turned to the window as the world wore away at their will—simple reassurances that sufficed so well at the time, but later would leave a residue of vague regret on your ribs as you think of all the nasty shocks in store.

Tee hee hee.

As hot as it was in the house, the breeze and noise from the fan was an extraordinarily comforting thing, and the very act of waiting for sleep was like a hug; the movement of air over my head seemed exotic, hypnotic. All five of us lay in a row in the living room that night, and I couldn’t have felt safer. Gradually, the murmurs and mirth faded as the shadows grew. Soon, all was dark and quiet, but something tugged at my mind telling me the peacefulness was a façade, and though I knew the loved ones near me were all asleep, a squiggling worm of fear in my gut told me that I was not the only thing awake in the vicinity—so I wasn’t entirely surprised when the door to my parents’ room slowly and silently cracked open…

The malevolent specter of my dream didn’t emerge from the room immediately. It first let the fact of the door sink in for a few seconds. As my guts slowly turned to ice, I watched the crack of blackness upon blackness slowly widen. The ice inside me froze my lips, froze my lungs, froze my limbs, and I could not speak, breath, or move when finally the dark figure—hooded and thin and uniquely evil—lurched slowly and ohhhh so silently towards us—towards ME, really, I KNEW he was coming for me, this evil piece of shit—and I remember feeling as helpless as I ever had in my LIFE, your honor. Because you see, I knew this presence inching its way slowly nearer wanted to kill me, yes, but he also wanted to get me out of the room as quietly as possible, because when I died he wanted me to be alone. Do you understand? He wanted my death to be worse than painful, more calloused than premature, greater than the terror of violence.

He wanted me to be lonely when I died, your honor.

There are many shades of black I discovered as I watched this mysterious cutter. The room I was in was very dark, but the hallway before me leading to the bedrooms was even darker. The crevasse left by the yawning door to my parents’ room was plain black. But the cloaked figure advancing on me like the staggered frames of a movie with missing cells was even BLACKER, and the hole in the hood where the face should be…well, that was a fucking abyss, plain and simple. When you rise uncontrollably (after the unannounced exit of gravity) above the trees and into the sky, straight up through the clouds—and the air is stripped from your lungs, and the atmosphere loses its color as you flail your arms hopelessly—soaring up to outer space, and then there is the blackness of the universe before you coupled with the unimaginable distances between things; but you do not stop, you only keep flying in a direction that can only still be described as upwards (though there is no “up” now), until, to your horror, you find yourself passing into a realm unknown, the mythical NOTHING that we always feared existed but could not prove, could not even bring ourselves to theorize, and yet here it is and its SWALLOWING you, gulping you in, sucking you out of the inkiness of space and hauling you into a blackness that you could have never in a million years supposed existed…the BLACK of NOTHING which you never imagined because who could ever truly imagine nothing? This was the black of the encroaching figure’s face. And now its frigid hand was around my ankle and pulling me, and the night no longer seemed hot, it no longer seemed close, it no longer seemed ANYTHING for I was quickly leaving the world of day and night and morning and evening and ANYTHING; I was being pulled away from safety to die alone. And I finally found my voice and I cried out for my mother to help me because the harbinger had me—the blackness was closing around my eyes as I saw my people all start suddenly from the floor at the sound of my voice and immediately begin to shout after me with their hands reaching out—but in their eyes was hopelessness. They did not gain their feet to chase after me. They knew there was nothing they could do. I was fucking GONE, your honor. I clawed furiously at the carpeting and the walls as I was pulled down the hallway towards the great nothing to die alone, but there was no purchase to stay me. Everything faded.

I awoke in my father’s arms, sobbing, crying out, my little kid PJ’s soaked in sweat. Like a goddamned baby.

“Where are you going with all of this?” judge Parrott demanded.

“Your Honor, my client is simply very sorry about everything that’s happened and the people’s time he’s wasted today,” pleaded Uncle Ben.

I cried out BULLSHIT. The whole point of the fucking story is that I’m INNOCENT, your honor. This fucking rice making fool doesn’t represent me. Not ME. He might THINK he’s representing some little asshole he “knows” as his nephew—some miserable little prick with a penchant for nasty anger and acting out against the cloned pigs feigning superiority—but that person is not ME. I am separate from all of that fucking jazz, your honor. I am not even in this fucking ROOM, your honor. I am a million miles beyond space and dying ALONE your honor. Or weren’t you even listening?

“Oh shut up,” said the judge. “This is nonsense. It doesn’t matter whether you committed a crime or not, Mr. Haight. The fact of the matter is that you ARE a miserable little prick, whether you believe it or not, and I think it would do you some good to spend some time watching the very specter you fear taking others into the blackness.”

I told the judge that I must freaking disagree most fucking strongly, but he sentenced me to community service in the local old folks’ home anyway. Which is fine. No, really. It is. The Eternal Camile’s great grandfather is there, for one—which means there’s a chance to get laid inside an old folks’ home, which would be fucking cool beyond BELIEF. I think Benji has a great Aunt or something locked up inside, too, but I’m not sure.

Three months. I can do that standing on my fucking HEAD, bubba. Make book on it.  It’s kind of exciting, when you think about it. To stare into the eyes of a soul so near death and to ask them if they want to play some cards…if you can’t take something away from that, then you’re definitely beyond help.

I can’t wait to tell them how lucky they are to be so close to having it all over with.

Patrice

I hooked up with Patrice a week ago Sunday night, completely by accident. Before I go any further, let me say this: Patrice is a sneak and a liar, and anything you hear from her is complete bullshit. If Patrice tells you that gas makes a car go, question it; check her sources. I feel about Patrice the same way I feel about Access Hollywood: she can be good for a laugh, but she has no ethics and will do anything to get ratings. Ugh. My mom loves that retarded show. She Tivos it and I think she has a glass of wine in the afternoon while she watches. She gets all dolled up in her high-waist jeans and clogs and snorts her disapproval over a bunch of everyday nonsense that may or may not be true, and is none of her goddamned business to begin with. What a waste of a life. Me going to jail tomorrow and earning my GED behind freaking bars is a better use of time. I HATE it.

And what did I go and do? The same damn thing as my mom. Drank some booze and ended up getting my kicks off of some lame sensationalistic bitch.

Sugarbear had an awesome party set up for that Sunday afternoon. His parents rock this mansion (at least, it’s a mansion to me) about a half mile away from my parent’s dump, and it is totally set up to fucking kill bugs dead. Hot tub, pool out back, sunken living room with the whole crazy home theater set-up and a freaking DVD jukebox that holds like two-hundred movies, for the love of Christ. And they have the SECOND living room where old people go and sit when they come over, with nothing but furniture, end tables, and flowers in it, I guess because the seniors don’t like all those shocking loud noises scaring them out of their shit-filled diapers. What a mess. Old people torque me off. What’s it gonna kill you to come and hear the younger set talk? Afraid you might learn something new right before you die? I guess I’d be pissed too, though, finding out about all the cool new things the world had to offer a fucking week before biting it.

The house has a kick-ass make-out pit in the basement, with black lights and a music dock and suede throw pillows EVERYWHERE, and there’s no windows so it is dark ALL THE TIME, even in the middle of day. During party mode, no one is allowed in the basement alone. Sugarbear assigns a pal (personal ass licker) to basically be a bouncer at the basement door, with a kind of gate made of the velvet ropes and poles that Sugarbear and another buddy of his named Johnson (also on the golf team) ripped-off from the local movie theatre. It makes the whole scene totally authentic. I love it. Usually I spend like an hour down there with Camile, but she obviously OPTED OUT of attending Sugar’s party with me, seeing as she read all about me smashing her monkey-dad’s windshield in on this site last week. THAT’S RIGHT. She found it. Needless to say, she and I are not dating at the moment. HA HA. Fuck her and her dumb-ass fish lips. I’ve had just about enough of her and her sweet little sprinkle of pimples. Die, Camile. I know you’re reading this, you strumpet. DIE. I smashed your dad’s window because he is a DICK and I HATE HIM, and I hate YOU, because you are obviously JUST LIKE HIM. You ACT like him, and guess what, you fucking prima donna hose-bag—you LOOK like him, too, you goddamned APEGIRL. You think you are so smart, calling the cops, and telling them about my blog…well, joke’s on YOU, Bitchy McSlutkins, because they ALREADY KNEW ABOUT IT, so HA HA HA. Hey, take this on, Camile: you think I’m so bad for smashing in a windshield, hmmmmm?? How about the fact that your oh-so-demure mommy is gonna be in way over her head in a pot of scalding hot water for not filing taxes on her little house-cleaning business? I heard my straight-laced parental units talking about it like three months ago. She’s fucking BUSTED, and there is NO WAY AROUND IT, and there’s a very good chance she’s gonna do HARD TIME FOR IT. Me, all I’m gonna have to do is some freaking lawn maintenance in the city park, so who’s worse? Her, or me? Or hey, maybe even YOU? The product of an ape and a thief, and the ex-girlfriend of a loser vandal, that’s what you are. And a fucking SNITCH.

CAMILE GLADSTONE IS A DIRTY RAT SNITCH.

Spread the word.

What was I talking about? Ah yes. The liar Patrice. What a prize. What was I thinking? So, she finds me at Sugarbear’s party, and she starts talking to me about how Camile is such a loser for snitching me out, that she read all my shit, and she thinks it’s sooo sexy that I have a blog (WHAT?!? Please). It’s all bullshit, and Patrice has just about the biggest feet I’ve ever seen on a girl, and her hair is like such an afro that I swear she’s got birds in it, but by this time I was on my third or fourth beer, so when she turned to get a cold one and rubbed her ass on my johnson again, it was pretty much over. She came back and said she wanted to see the basement but had no one to go down with, and I was like, you do NOW.

Benji was watching the rope at the time, and when he saw me going down with Patrice his fucking eyes fell out of his head. I mean, it’s no surprise that Patrice the Terrible would eat up a friend’s ex for breakfast—I mean hell, her whole reputation is built off of what she did to Tammy Reddick two years ago—but I think Benji was shocked because we spend so much time ragging on Patrice in the cafeteria lobby about her hair and her cross-eyes (when she takes off her glasses her eyes cross, so weird). Whatever. I’m what you might call an ASS MAN, and in my drunken state, Patrice had it in spades.

So we go downstairs, and she pulls me around by my belt (for all her failings she ain’t shy, bubba) to an empty spot as we stepped carefully over all the writhing bodies in the dim black light. It’s funny, now that I think about it. I wasn’t at all skeeved by being around a bunch of people getting to third base together in the same dark room at the time, but now I suddenly feel like I need to take antibiotics. Well, we find a spot, and she immediately is all over me and kissing me like a fucking back-HO, like this is a freaking construction project for her, like she is excavating something out of my face. And her breath is slimy and gross, all stale and smoky cause she smokes cigarettes (which I happen to not give a flying fuck about but her breath was SO bad), and suddenly I’m like, what the hell am I DOING? And she’s all like whispering, “I’m going to ROCK you, slugger.” And I’m thinking SLUGGER? Who the fuck says SLUGGER? But I don’t know how to get out of the situation, it’s like she has me where she wants me, and I can’t get free…she’s too confident, too strident, and I KNOW she has a HUGE fucking mouth and god knows what she’s gonna tell people if I jet on her.

It was at that moment that my ass started vibrating. I jumped up about ten feet in the air, totally startled, landing on some dude’s ankle, and he was like, “What the fuck?” And I was like, “My ass, my ass, something’s in my ass!” And everyone stops what their doing, pulling tongues out of respective orifices, and is just gaping at me as I dance around the basement. I THINK I danced around the basement, anyway. That’s how I recall it. So embarrassing. So, you know, of course I eventually remembered I had my cell phone in my back pocket, fucking DUH, and I pull it out and it’s a text from Sugarbear saying dude what the FUCK are you DOING down there with that BIRD’S NEST?

That broke the spell. Yes, I thought, what the fuck AM I doing with her? By this time she’s walked over to me, looking all around to see who’s looking at us, and she’s like, “Hey, what the hell, Pendel? Are you gonna come back and get busy?” And I’m just horrified with myself, because her glasses are off, and it doesn’t even look like she’s looking at me, she’s looking at her own freaking NOSE for CHRIST’S SAKE, and I’m just like, hey, sorry, I can’t…I gotta go…

I don’t even know if she said anything to me after that. I ran upstairs and was through the door in an instant, squinting in the light, and like, Sugarbear and Benji are practically on the floor laughing at me.

So what. It happens to the best of us, right? Well, you must remember that Patrice is a lying swamp monster skank. I go to school on Monday to find out she told everybody I spewed everywhere as soon as she touched me, and squealed like a 13 year old, and that’s why I ran out on her. HATE HER AND WANT HER DEAD.

On top of this, now with my guilty vandal status and community horseshit, my parents have RAMMED weekends with Mr. Hanson down my throat. We start Saturday, but I haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to kill myself before that. BUT! I start golf tomorrow, and maybe within a couple of days, I’ll get to try acid again, so I guess I will go on living just to see how THAT plays out.

I am only 17, yet life already seems so endless.