Light A Fire

The blank wall is my dear friend and is the first to wish me happy birthday as my resentful eyelids pry apart. I didn’t have to say a word, no pathetic hints were dropped for my own benefit, but the wall wished me well regardless. I love you, you fucking wall. Be forever mine. Marry me and take me away from all of this blight. Cradle me in your apathetic arms and shower me with kisses unspecific.

I would like to say that no one but me must know what it means to turn 19 while friendless and stripped in the spiteful cold of minimum security, but in fact there are lots of idiots in here doing exactly that. And I suppose that for every idiot kicking up his heels in such a shit hole on such an uneventful day there is a special wall with cracks like an uncaring mouth, from which comes neither praise nor reprimands, not compliments or insults; only consistency. And though things could be worse I refuse to admit it, and though there is no one to blame but myself I have my list.

I wonder mindlessly if any of the deeply wounded pricks I share my time with will find it in their sticky hearts to let me decide the day’s programming in the television room. I already know the answer. Fucking jerks. Selfish, rough, and tireless bunch of liars. The whole lot would be better off dead, and every single one of them—every last goddamned drop—will one day be so. I cast this spell personally on the very morning of my birthday. It is the gift I give to myself, since my “good friend” the wall is apparently too freaking CHEAP and/or LAZY to have taken care of my material needs on this SPECIAL day. I place into my own hands the ability to decide whether or not immortality will be given to any of my scumbag brethren, and in my infinite wisdom I withhold eternal life from the entire lot. So there.

I tell the wall thanks for nothing and my cell mate calls me a nutcase for the nth time. He isn’t dangerous so I tell him to go fuck a pig and he punches his cot and hates himself. I hate him too, although it must be noted that he is my friend (second in line only to the wall). All at once I am more tired of him than I ever was of my dear, insipid mother, yet I need him nearly as much as I did her in my infancy. My needs, in order of greatest to least, are as follows: water, someone to listen to me, food, and titties. I always knew about food, water, and titties, but I was surprised by my need for an audience. I thought I was above it, see. I thought I was the ROMANTIC LONER type, strong and silent and callous; self reliant to a fault. But as it turns out, I am just as weak as the rest of you. I am the deceptive rubber band, thought to be new, seemingly elastic and oh so pliable, hanging innocently from your doorknob, but when taken in hand and stretched, I snap almost immediately, my new jagged ends cracking back and stinging your fingers. And it seems to me incredibly unfair to have to find out all of this fucking horseshit about myself at such a young age, when it seems the rest of you fucking stiffs get to walk the earth for most of your lives under the dry shell of illusion, but what can one do when one so plainly brings it all upon himself?

My cell mate’s name is Jody—which is fucking stupid, but I suppose it’s not his fault. Just more proof of how the birth of children causes most people to drop 10 full IQ points (my name is Pendel and the irony is not lost on me. So fuck you, too, DEAR READER).

Jody has the face of a young dog beaten to the point of unassailable mistrust, with a sloppy mop of mahogany hair and terrified eyes that belie his 22 years tooling around the planet earth as his old man’s whipping boy. When I first arrived at PRISON—after I was first flung to the floor of my temporary tomb by a couple of overly enthusiastic gorillas electroplated into uniforms that grossly over-sold the said gorillas professionalism, and after I had a chance to check my surroundings for explosives—my attention fell upon him glaring at me from his bed, and I assumed that I was at least two years his senior. Wanting to appear tough and together and completely in charge of my environment, I sneered like a complete cock and asked him when he was going to get his braces removed. “I ain’t got braces,” Jody sneered in return. Well, you’re gonna fucking need them soon enough, if you keep that fucking look on your puss, I said. He punched his cot and hated himself.

Before the sweet reward of television has a chance to numb the constant drone of nostalgic remorse coursing through the dead alleys of my mind, Jody and I must walk ourselves through perdition: modern day Dantes in dull jumpsuits and no fucking brains, we must enter the ninth ring and sit frozen in ice as the local sinners arranged around the room tell Satan all about the horrible tongue lashings they have received over the years, the ones inevitably responsible for bringing them to such a state as they currently find themselves. I can’t stand to go into any of these ramblings in much detail, it’s all so useless and petty. Rationalizations. People spout them like sweat—they cool the skin and keep the ego from overheating, so I guess you can’t fault a man for basically turning his life into a sauna, but fuck me, brother! You act as though I can’t spot a rationalization when I hear one! But now hear this, you twisted ass: I dress in them from head to toe every morning; my very skin is woven from the fabric of these lies; I am not carefully sculpted from the delicate carbon dripped from starlight and collected upon the gossamer smiles of angels, no sir, I am hewn strong from the cosmic rock of delusion. I am an old hand; a master of the art. I have not yet reached twenty in human years, but in the measure of my conceits I have sewn many seasons.

Give me hypocrisy or give me death. Whatever. I am beginning to bore myself.

So anyway, these assholes are full of bullshit, I can smell it a mile away, the shrink lets them get away with it, and it just makes me want to fucking puke. But who am I to judge? What must it be for Dr. Nothing to sit day in and day out listening to this worthless bunch of low-life criminals lie to themselves three days a week? One loser cries over the spilled milk of the American caste system and his place in it, another bemoans the ass of his wife as it gyrates endlessly over the cocks of others. Dr. Nothing asks Jody what HIS fucking beef is nearly every day, but Jody says nothing. He simply punches his thigh and hates himself.

“How about you, Pendel? How did you get here?”

Simple. I was busted selling weed.

“But how did you GET here?”

I was busted selling weed.

“But what made you—”

Look, friend, I see what you’re trying to do (and at this point I even lend the sad piece of shit a smile, TRYING my best to remain friendly because oh how I want good behavior), but really man, I was just busted selling fucking pot, and that’s about it.

And he gazes at me sadly, steadily, like he knows something I don’t. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t..but how much could it possibly matter? Can I change where I am now? Can I change what happened last year? Can I change a fucking thing? The future? I tolerate his dissection of me for maybe fifteen or twenty seconds, and then I just say, hey, it’s all good—just let the chips fall where they may. He lets it go for now and on the inside my guts buckle like an old bridge.

Turns out television sucked. There was a baseball game on, and since baseball is considered an American past-time, it does nothing for me. I ask if anybody is watching, and one of the undesirables calls me a faggot and offers to break my arm. I sulk. Jody sulks. I meditate briefly on the irony of steroids and how every motherfucker on the motherfucking screen mounted high on the wall (not my friend, but just the friend of my friend) has probably taken the drug as recently as NOW, and how whoever sold it to them was probably doing just fine on this, the anniversary of my birth. Maybe he/she’s even a doctor or shrink or some other respected member of this twisted smoking metal wreck of a society. The bridge of my guts collapses completely and crumples with frightening ease into the river as the trapped occupants inside the motor vehicles struggle vainly with door handles and panic, and as they loose the fight and turn blue from death with surprised eyes and unresolved passions, I gather myself and return to my cell. I climb into my bunk and I tell the wall that I’ve had enough, that I give up, that loneliness is no longer an option on the table and it’s time for the two of us, the wall and I, to think about getting out of here. Good behavior.

Good behavior.

The wall looks blandly back at me and does not betray its doubt, but I feel it. I punch the cot and hate myself.

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I Am of the Dregs, Part 1

There are times when life offers little reason to do well. Summer sessions at any school are the perfect cross section from which to study such a phase.

During the normal school year, this swank institution provides the likes of Benny Henderson with every possible accommodation in order to smooth one’s ascension up life’s indiscriminate ladder to mediocrity; but during summer classes, it is simply a way to cage the random beasts in our neighborhoods and keep them from ruining our lives during an otherwise peaceful vacation season—unless, of course, your name happens to be Pendel Haight and you’re stuck in the fucking cage with the animals. They are the worst of the worst; the kids who are not only dumber than pigeon shit and uglier than a sack of assholes, but also just plain MEAN. Dirt eaters void of underwear wandering the streets of your town with an insatiable urge to drive the pistons of hopelessness. Filthy inside and out, they invade your right to amble unhindered with a palpable malevolence that is truly unnerving.

And, according to my state’s department of education, I am one of them—or, at the very least, I must walk among them—and it has caused me to become somewhat unhinged and paranoid. I am the darting eye and the restless hand. I twitch spastically as my peripheral vision is put to the ultimate test, keeping the beasts within my circles of attention at all times. I do not do this needlessly, I assure you. These people—these BOYS specifically, for at this level the girls are either TRULY stupid, or merely useless sluts and druggies—these BOYS are the MEN that will one day become the cause for your deadbolts at night; that are the stalkers of daughters; the side of mankind that leaves the elderly woman beaten and bruised, crushed and sullied in the corner and void of all her meager possessions, the end of her life reduced to the shame and pain of debasement. These boys will be the ones to take the only thing you can truly call your own—your self respect—and they will use it to wipe the blood from their snarling mouths.

It’s all fostered by the system, of course. As a species, we love to fucking coddle ourselves. It makes me sick. I mean, come ON, people. You fucking KNOW by the late teens which kids are fucking sociopaths. It’s so fucking OBVIOUS. Donnie Watts is a goddamn LUNATIC, and anyone who has to sit in the same room with him for more than 10 freaking minutes can feel it inside their BONES. The teachers know it—they’re scared shitless by this insane prick. You can see it in their eyes every time he bobs to the surface. But who do they talk to about it? Anyone? Actually, I bet they do. I can see in my mind’s eye the line forming outside the principal’s office, each tired faced lined with a litany of horror stories about this thoughtless, crazy, fucking asshole. But the principal doesn’t care. The principal doesn’t have to deal with him at all. No, the principal only has to listen to the prissy whines of the upper class parents and make sure that they all have clean bottoms and pressed panties; he need only ensure the safe passage of their precious children to, at the very least, the third college of their choice.

How many shaggy doggies must have their lives choked away inside the oppressive closeness of the abandoned refrigerator before someone in charge decides to throw the mad psycho Donnie Watts into the deepest and darkest hole we can find?

The Watts family hail from the caves found just west of the center of the earth, but they clawed their way to the surface some time ago and staked a claim near the outskirts of town in a vinyl-sided box with a car lot for a front yard and a cat ranch out back. I would like to say that rumors of incest abound in this family, and so one could expect a hell-spawn to arise out of the anguished dust—but alas, no. Genetics simply created a monster, as genetics are apt to do from time to time. Don’t get me wrong: Donnie’s family is one scary fucking bunch. Sometimes, even from a mile or more away, you can hear his father cursing the light and swinging the belt as the mother wails and the children scatter. They all drink constantly—you could build a sizeable pontoon from the beer cans left around the vicinity on any given day. The air around the house is filled with the smoke of unhappiness and cigarettes, and the youngest daughter—aged 13—is the most readily available lay in town for many of the factory workers nearby—a sad pack of men who gave up on their dreams and a decent spot in heaven long ago. By all accounts, young Sylvie Watts has absolutely no qualms with this. As far as anyone knows, she thoroughly enjoys her popularity with the night crew and wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am depressing myself simply writing about these people.

Donnie. He shares my summer math class and much to my chagrin sits just behind me, one row over and two seats back. His curly brown hair frames a set of eyes constantly brimming with heated excitement. You can see the gears constantly turning. Sometimes I’ll pretend to drop a pencil just so I can gauge his latest action and he’ll be staring right at me with those keyed up eyes, and I get worried sick wondering what he might be thinking about. “You sure as shit drop your fucking pencil a lot, PENDEL.” he yapped at me the other day. I barked out some panicked laughter, and watched my back the whole way home. Sounds strange coming from yours truly, Pendel the Great and Terrible, but you don’t know this guy. It is a well known fact that he carries a knife with him everywhere, and has been responsible for the hospital stays of several kids from his neighborhood. Donnie plays with homemade blow darts. He has a row of cans always set up in a vacant lot near his vinyl box and practices shooting at them regularly with a gun that it is rumored he stole from under the bed of police chief Moody himself. That last part is a little much, I admit, but you get the idea.

Donnie always wears one of several pairs of loose jogging shorts—not exactly dirty, not truly clean. One pair is black, the other is red, and the third pair is white with blue piping. He wears no underwear with them. It makes me want to fucking BARF, and I hate it whenever he comes within ten feet. He loves to walk near the desk of a girl and pull the leg of his shorts up, and dance his pecker up and down right in front of their faces. The girl is always horrified at the act, but she does not dare yell out loud, because Donnie does not shy away from punching a girl in the face. I saw him do it once, from a distance. I was in the school parking lot watching him advance on an unknown chick across the street from me, and for whatever reason, without saying anything as he passed, he just clocked her in the chin and kept going. I’ll never forget the way she screamed out and fell to her knees, grabbing her face. Donnie never even turned around. He just kept on walking, never even picking up his pace, his shoulders squared, head up, and his steps completely sure. The wind blew his hair back and I could see that he wasn’t even smiling. But his eyes burned with that fucking insane excitement that always scares the fucking shit out of me. I don’t even think he knew who she was. It was a random act of violence and I’m sure it didn’t even make a dent in his day; he just feeds off of it like other people feed off McDonalds, without even registering what they are eating.

So the girls squirm helplessly away from his dick but say nothing.

AND SO, soon after he made the pencil comment to me the other day, he casually got up from his desk and walked up the row to the desk of Mrs. Trainer, a completely harmless woman in her mid-40’s who has a tendency to get lost in her shit for like 15 minutes at a time, not even looking up as the students fail to achieve any of the goals she has set out for the day. She was staring intently at some papers when Donnie approached her. She did not look up as his shadow fell across her work. Donnie pulled up the leg of his shorts and casually laid his full business out on her desk. Trainer didn’t notice. Donnie said, “Mrs Trainer.” She asked Donnie what he needed, but STILL never looked around to see. Just so focused on those mysterious documents of hers. “I don’t have my book. I need to go to my locker.”

She sighed. “Donnie, for the love of God, if you’ve gone three quarters of the class without it, why do you need it now? Go sit down.”

“Can I go to my locker anyway?”

“No. Sit.” Donnie simply backed up from her desk and let his pecker fall, slapping against his thigh. It was a fucking disgusting sound that amazed me. I mean, how could I be hearing this from 15 feet away? I guess that’s how quiet the room had gotten. Everyone was amazed. I laughed very quietly. I couldn’t help myself. It was one of the craziest things I had ever seen. I mean, Donnie placed his fucking DICK within two fucking FEET of a teacher’s face, and she never even looked up from what she was doing to notice. That takes a carelessness that is breathtaking and evil.

Donnie turned, and then let down the leg of his shorts. I just fucking KNEW he would do that, so I shielded my eyes. Several girls squealed. They couldn’t help themselves. Finally, Trainer looked up and said, “Are you going to give the class a report, Mr. Watts?”

“No.”

“Then sit.”

Donnie walked back to his desk, looking at nothing but the back wall. Shoulders back. Head high. Eyes wild. He sat down and tapped his fingers to nothing at all until the bell rang.

Summer classes are the bottom of the social barrel. I am of the dregs. I want out. I hope it isn’t too late.