Hyper-reality now and then
The Day I Rode Schopenhauer’s
I woke up this morning feeling sort of lethargic and sort of hyperactive – I decided it could be a similar sensory experience being hit by a bus made of goose feather and marshmallow. It was sunrise and I was hot, shuddering and drenched in sweat – a common occurrence.
When I wake, there is an initial period in which my mind takes on the form of an infant, playing with colourful, round-cornered building blocks. These building blocks are my memories of dreams and realities and while I sleep they all tumble into a disordered mess. The infant organizes them in separate piles as I return to consciousness, but this morning he was confused; there was one he could not place. It was a large block and across it was the word MacGuff.
“MacGuff.” I contemplated the name, listening to myself enunciate its sound. “MacGuff, MacGuff, MacGuff.”
Butterflies with razorblade wings were playing about inside my chest in a frenzy of anxious anticipation for the day – Tuesday. I took my morning medication from the bedside and lay for a good thirteen minutes contemplating defiance of this brave new world, before placing the dissolvable olanzapine wafer on my tongue. My task for the day was to write a story. I lay in bed and a great white whale of non-inspiration swallowed me whole.
“The world is my idea.” I meditated, and failed to meditate. “Cunt.”
I felt slowly up my chest and let my hand move over the smooth, hairless skin, before trembling down sensuously to my deforested groin. I reached for the bottle of hair removal cream beside my bed and read the marketing slogan italicised across a woman’s slender legs on the front label – “Smoother than a baby’s bottom”.
“Fffffffffttth!” I motioned with my hand in a swift movement – a cross between a wave, a wipe and a whip. “Fffffffffttttth!” No hair – a pleasing result. My tentative acceptance of a product from Bison Care, which I’d been putting off trialling for fear of it compromising the affects of my already employed bikini tanning lotion from Coco Loco’s, ‘No White Lines’ range; the thioglycolate salts mixture, which causes the hair cells to collapse, has a potential chemical drying affect when mixed with the dihydroxyacetone compounds found in the artificial browning liquid of the tan lotion; seemed to have paid off.
After rising from my sweated sheets I made for the bathroom and started the shower before standing idly in the morning cold, examining goose-bumps on my bald nipple – it takes a few minutes for the water to become comfortably warm. Upon steam fogging the glass panels, I slid the door across its tracks and entered. I have a daily shower plan as the hot water goes very quickly; I tend to brush my teeth with my right hand, massage shampoo into my hair with my left simultaneously, rinse and then follow with a volcanic ash face scrub and body wash of kelp infused moisturising soap. However, this morning I didn’t reach either of the latter motions. At the point at which I decided my teeth were brushed and my hair fortified and clean, I spat out and rinsed my head under the running water. I had shut my eyes during the ambidextrous process to protect my retinas; when I opened them I looked down and to my horror there was a horrid pink spider trying desperately to crawl up the wet tiled shower wall.
My lungs failed me for an instant – scared of the arachnid’s intent and jealous of its fabulous flamboyance.
I watched the spider for a few seconds trying to make its way up the tiles. It made very little, if any, progress, before it slipped and landed - ‘plop’. I yelped. The spider scurried across the floor to the door and I watched it try as hard as it could to climb the glass pane.
Instinctively, I had covered my rod and sharries with both hands in fear of this uphill gardener’s perverted eight eyes. But then the building block left unsorted in my mind struck a pose at the forefront of conscience.
The beast ignored me, obviously focussed on its own goal of climbing upward to care for any sort of social interaction. This must not be MacGuff – I decided this spider must be named Elton.
“Don’t worry, Elton. I’ll be your friend…” I began to crouch, as my plan was to open the door an inch and lightly splash him out. This would both save Elton and avoid me touching his furry exterior. However, when I came down closer, the spider immediately skitter-scattered away from me.
I was taken aback by the obviously direct insult, but then overcame my pride and considered it a reaction of the glitzy thing’s fear rather than a representation of his character. I crouched down closer, but instead of reaching out my hand again I decided to observe, intently. Elton’s futile attempts to move himself up and dance out of the wet shower reminded me of a childhood song. I smiled broadly and felt an innocent joy at the sound of that lullaby in my head.
“Itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the water spout…”
I drew in closer to the creature and could hear the dulcet keys of a ‘Steinway & Sons’.
“Down came the rain”
I cupped my hands with water and proceeded to empty it slowly over Elton.
“And washed the spider out…”
At this point the hot water ran out, the piano strings snapped and all that came flushing from above were ice-cold torrents like needles. I yelped again and lunged up to stop the water. After turning the taps into the off position I looked back down to where Elton had been, but he wasn’t there. The poor little its-bitsy must have given up and slid down the drain with the final splash of cold water.
I got out of the shower and dried off. The instance had left a mark on my confidence and I was quarrelling internally as to whether I could have done more to become friendly with Elton before his death.
I generally think of myself as a well-liked person – affable. Not a social butterfly, but perhaps a beetle or dragonfly or some other, less enigmatically elegant and beautiful creature. Admittedly, I’ve been questioning this belief of late. I haven’t spoken to any person in weeks apart from my dashing, Aryan-looking friend in the bathroom mirror. I asked him this morning after I’d dried off whether or not he thought I was a likeable person. I had hoped for a positive discussion on this point, thus affirming my belief that I was likeable and could hold conversation, but to my dismay the question fell into an awkward silence. My friend in the mirror dropped eye contact upon my questioning and began picking his nose. And so, in response, I did the same. The interaction evolved into a quiet six or ten minutes of contemplating whether my mirror friend would gather the testosterone to speak up or at least clear his throat to break the tension. But nothing came of it but four very well excavated nostrils. I left the bathroom feeling put out at the mirror’s social inadequacies and resolved to make a day of having no pubic hair, writing my story and trying to make a new, more socially astute, friend at the library.
So here I am…sitting at the off-yellowy-brown lacquered desk at the back of the biblio, glossing over the odd assortment of phone numbers people have left behind and the strewn insults in permanent marker and white-out. One of them says, “Michael Castro has a smaLL cocK!” and another, in similar tasteful fashion, asks the reader to call the number ‘000’ “For a good time”, followed by a winking face.
“0416420959 Call for LEGIT GOBBIES”, the scriber of this one seems very intent on getting the point across that the ‘gobbies’ are in fact legitimate and not some sort of lewd joke designed to prank an unsuspecting phone recipient.
On the desk before me my laptop is open. My testicles feel comfortable and clean, unencumbered by course pubic friction between they and the cotton reams of my underwear. I have written one sentence in the hour that I have been here and it sits in bold at the top of my document, the cursor blinking intently next to it, waiting for my fingertips to spell out a miracle…
“Once upon a time, tomorrow…”
Dot, dot, dot, indeed – an implication of ambiguity and therefore a universe of potential. I’m also quietly smug with my erudite wordplay, saluting time’s continuum with a middle finger. I wriggle in my seat and feel the hairless scrotum move with liberty, lubricated and encouraged by sweat. I unzip my khaki adventure shorts for aeration.
I look about at the shelves and shelves of mediocrity, a paperback death camp. I could write a story about someone writing a story – an interesting and incredibly lazy effort. I could refer to it as After-post-post modern writing, or Future-Past writing.‘Tee-hee’; a twinkle in my glazzies.
I am in the library, and am considering writing a story about a man, who is also writing a story, within a library, about another man. His story is about the child of a failed suicide bomber in Syria. The Syrian chap travels to Australia and meets his perfect imperfect match - a young, male, Anglo-Saxon politician of unimaginably poor imagination who wriggled into some form of power due to family wealth and a 21st Century acceptance of un-evolved intellect from a gutless cohort of narcissistic lords of slime (All who have extensive bush and predominant tan lines.) The two renegades of modernity live happily as a secret couple; ‘shutter bugs’ of natural beauty, admiring mother nature’s allure, pretending to be ‘photographers’ who care for the world and society and the greater good. They’re cheese shopping one day and amidst an argument over whether a certain wheel of Jarlsberg ‘does’ or ‘does not’ have enough holes, somehow triumphantly decide to come out to the world as homosexuals and be married. At this point the escalator they’re riding collapses, crushing them both…
And that’s their life – an irrelevant spec on human history’s data sheet, with the only import being derived from a solipsistic self-belief that they were worth anything at all. I should mention that within each of their timelines would be speckled various attempts, on my character’s part (the story teller within the story), to use the plot as ignorant commentary on his modern society and its aesthetic flaws, as well as employing various archaic literary techniques to satisfy and satire the agenda of his contemporary society, while pissing on the sincerity of ‘English Literature’.
I believe I may be reprimanded though for putting forth such an insincere taunt at modern existentialism. Monsieur Albert Camus may understand my nihilistic humour, but he is no member of the norm, the audience, or of life itself. I must endeavour to write something drastically uneventful, exciting and shallow. Something so incredibly uncommon and mundane, that the reader’s mind has no choice but to be ravaged by its vapidity and appeased by its honesty as an unobscured tale of ‘the times we live in’.
I’m still looking at the screen, typing nothing – ‘Alt-tab’ to the Internet.
Thirteen minutes goes by of trawling through a cacophony of online garbage labelled ‘trending’ or ‘news’ or ‘current’. I click on a video link and watch a girl in Japan be suffocated inside a vacuum-sealed bag to meet the desire of some man off-screen. I believe he is interested in turning this breathing being into a life-sized action figure doll, which/whom he can unpack and have sex with.
I watch the girl’s mouth open in a muffled scream when the vacuum turns on, she then sucks the plastic wrapping into her gape at the next inhale, the sterile film gripping the inner folds of her lips and jaw. The vacuum is a little too loud through my laptop as the girl three desks away from me in the library lifts her head disapprovingly. The Japanese girl on screen writhes. I’m fascinated by how long its taking her to die until finally after six minutes and thirteen seconds the camera zooms in, her pupils look into themselves, lungs firmly contract and imagination tells me her heart limps into a weak beat before cessation.
There’s clapping in the background of the video – an awkwardly silent clapping – obviously admirers of the captor’s alchemy in transforming a living human into a packaged toy. I have a strange whiff of genius, arousal and understanding of the girl’s eroticism. Her life held no purpose without its ending.
I change websites and there’s a seemingly unrelated banner flashing at the top of the page advertising a new, bag-less, triple-suction vacuum cleaner.
I navigate to Facebook to discover that radical warriors for a better world are turning their profile pictures rainbow and battling poorly defined racism with illogical and uninformed arguments from their three legged political thrones. There’s one particular medical graduate who’s on the front line for animal rights while his profile promotes a fiercely proud comfort in being highly over weight and a great ‘Liker’ of Chicken McNuggets. Below him a ‘contemporary feminist’ named Molly Chow, whose mother and father moved to Australia from Hong Kong when Molly was 6, and are both fluent in Cantonese, has spouted a pearl of wisdom in proclaiming “REVERSE RACISM IS A MYTH!” Though, she has ensured her contemporaries in the ‘Comments’ section below she is unfamiliar with the slope-eyed racial bullying suffered by local anglo-minorities in selective high schools of Sydney.
I scroll up and down but nothing seems to jump out at me as a plot or premise or theme worth basing a story around. “Cunt.” I see a sea of cunts.
My mind, weighed down under the wet towel of ‘today’, flicks over to the still un-sorted building block labelled ‘MacGuff’ and the promise I had made with myself to make a new friend. I look across at the girl a few feet away who had expressed her dislike for my video viewing – a university student no doubt. Her chestnut fringe lopes gracefully down her forehead and she caresses the hair behind her ear every now and then as it falls. I won’t pretend to know her eye colour behind the dainty square red-framed spectacles, or the pretty constellation of hazelnut freckles playing upon the milky skin of her left cheek. She has surrounded herself with open books and is taking notes fervently.
I clear my throat, looking up at her, and then nervously back down to my laptop.
She says nothing. So I clear my throat again, louder this time so not only am I sure she hears me but so she knows I’m trying to get her attention.
Still nothing. I maintain my eye-line this time.
“Excusez-moi, Mademoiselle!” I wave with a tissue above my head – a universal sign of peace and friendship.
She looks up from her books and is glaring at me with a look somewhere between admonishment for interrupting her and disdain for my attempt to communicate in French.
“What’s your name? My name is Barnabus.” In English.
My eyes are gleaming as I’m trying to present my most adorable and attractive smile. She sits there and continues to look at me as though I have no right to be breathing her oxygen.
“I see you have a like of paper and pencils,” she looks down to the 2B Staedtler she’s holding and the A4 bound book of notes before her. “I also like them,” I hold up a pencil to signify how much we have in common and I’m optimistic in my line of salacious banter.
The girl exhales dismissively, curls her chestnut fringe behind her ear as she looks back down and continues taking notes.
“I dropped my pencil in the bath last night and now it won’t work. The led has softened, do you know of a way to fix it?” I sit there for a few seconds innocently waiting for an answer before withdrawing my attention from her in defeat and gazing back to the computer screen, “Dim harlot.”
I look around to find that there’s no one else about to attempt conversation with other than the lady at the front desk. She’s an old sort with a lizard’s face and a stench of dried soap. I weighed in on her upon entering the library earlier – she was licking her fingers of some icing sugar and I puckered my lips, distastefully admiring the wibble-wobble of her gullet beneath the chin.
No, this florally dressed baboochka, this sunshine-denied symbol of human devolution and common-order’s slavery, was worthy of neither my ‘Bonjour’ nor my ‘Hoo-roo.’ I imagined the old library woman lubbi-lubbing her cats or playing in the mud on a Sunday.
I turn my gaze from the woman at the front desk back to the table before me. Perhaps if I scout around the graffiti tagged in the wooden surface some more I may find a worthy contact for companionship. A friend.
There’s a signage that stands out amongst the others, commanding respect and attention: “CALL CHEKHOV – 9967 2856”, while next to it in similar fashion is drawn a highly detailed pistol. I look from the graffiti to my phone and contemplate a scenario, in which I do call Chekhov, and he does pick up the phone, and we do discover friendship. I breathe slowly and look back to the graffiti. Its design is rigid, harsh and the message copied over numerous times with a black biro pen so that the wood is carved. I run my fingers across it and feel an urge to pick up the two-dimensional gun and put several rounds into the face of that rude ptitsa with the chestnut fringe.
Breaking the daydream, I move to pick up my phone. I start typing Chekhov’s digits into the screen and my fingers dance about excitedly, making it difficult for me to accurately pronounce their choice in correct order.
Ring, ring…ring, ring…ring, ring…
I look about quickly to ensure no one is watching me, despite knowing full well the dwindling population of the library. In this quiet space, a phone call is taboo. Reckless apostate of social convention, I let the phone ring on.
Ring, ring…ring, ring…ring, ring…
My eyes are wide and a bead of sweat is about to drip from my brow and make its way down the bridge of my nose only to drop, ‘plop’, onto the table before me. My hand is shaking and I can barely hold my nerves.
Ring, ring…ring, ring…ring – a ‘beep’ then nothing.
No one picks up the phone and there is no message bank for me to leave note to Chekhov. I drop the phone and a cold flushes my face as the nerves slink into neurasthenia and I have a short, but deep, bout of exhaustion from the anxiously failed phone call. I’m almost relieved Chekhov didn’t pick up. What if he had been a dog?
My eyes scour over the table, looking again for a likely candidate to be my friend. They pause on a sentence written crudely, “Nik Gogol is King of tha world!” There isn’t a phone number and I’m immediately sad because just reading his note I think that the ‘King of tha world’, Nik Gogol, and I, would get along famously.
I continue to look over the markings on the table and come across one of recent origin. Its been carved with a red biro pen and coloured in pink hi-lighter – “Rosaline loves NeRDY boyzz, 0436 765 662”, within a heart. I hope Rosaline herself did not write this because unless she has groodies the size of watermelons, no self-respecting ‘nerdy boy’ would spend half a second in her company with such a poor grasp on basic pluralisation. She quite clearly only needs one ‘z’ at the end of ‘boy’, two reeks of desperation.
Ring, ring…ring, ring…ring, ring…
“Hello.” The voice of a girl I presume to be a few years my junior fires a greeting upon my unsuspecting ears and I pause in a flummox of astonishment and fear.
“Oh…mmm.” I stammer a little.
“Pardon?” her confusion is so poisonous to my confidence and I try to take a gulp of dry saliva before speaking again.
“Am I speaking to Rosaline? Rosaline who loves nerdy boys?” I’m immediately conscious of my shy tone. This devotchka surely thinks I’m some spindly child with no gizzards or yarbles or brains.
“This is Rosie. Where did you get this number?” She’s journeying between confusion and irritation.
“Ahhmm…” I’m searching far and wide for an explanation more admirable than having found the number carved in the back table of a public library. “MacGuff gave it to me…”
“MacGuff?” I can hear her brain whipping itself, slaving through memories and contacts to find MacGuff.
“Well, look, never-mind, MacGuff is a cheeky little veck and we have much, much more to talk about than the likes of him.” I hurry through this dismissive answer. I’m getting excited. I’m interacting with someone. I’ve asked questions, she’s asked questions, I’ve answered, she’s confused; it’s going very well at this point. “So…”
“Why are you calling me?” She is abrupt and I imagine her as some six-foot Aphrodite, strong and proud, looking for answers…and a friend, “And who are you?” Her second question stabs my self-conscious. I will have to reveal to Rosaline my identity if we are to be friends. She will know me.
“I - I am Barnabus!” I stand and almost explode with gusto through the phone to over-compensate my feeling of vulnerability, raising my free hand in the air in an action reminiscent of Spartacus to the Romans. “I am Barnabus.” The library around me is dead silent; the lady at the front desk pauses scanning books and looks around toward me.
The girl with the chestnut fringe is staring at me with my hand in the air. She seems to be highly amused with the phone conversation; she’s put down her pencil and is smiling broadly, mocking me. “Focus elsewhere, you nosey parker!” Anger at her mistreatment of my feelings overrides any timidity with communicating face-to-face, “I’ll fiddle with your insides!” It’s a snarling, toothy threat and I feel aroused by the aggression. A light breeze skirts my now semi-erect phallus and I realize my hairless jewels are exposed, slightly protruding through the unzipped adventure shorts. I lower my hand and carefully seal the fly.
“Goodbye.” Rosaline hangs up her phone, the girl with the chestnut fringe gathers her things and leaves hurriedly and I’m left with my phone still pressed to my ear, terrified that I have been robbed the opportunity to befriend Rosaline.
“Rosaline? Hello, Rosaline, are you still there?” She’s not. My red face evacuates its colour and slinks into opacity.
I put my phone down and grip the edges of the wooden table, embracing a broken heart curdling within my chest. I believe I could have easily convinced Rosaline to part-take in a social affair. She could have been my tiny dancer. I could have ‘asked her out’; our first date could have been a trip to the local magistrate to watch a vicious rape case argued in court; shared a platter of soft cheese, figs and fine wine while giggling under our breaths at the defendant’s stupidity in being caught. Oh my dear Rosaline, I will miss you so.
The old tart at the front desk gives me a firm, “Shhh!” before turning back to her pile of un-scanned books. I ignore her and look over to where the chestnut haired girl had been sitting moments ago. She’s left some papers on the table due to the urgency with which she departed. The feeling of cantankerous hatred for her completely subsides and I’m left flaccid and exhausted. My nerve and confidence have been raped and lie tattered in adynamia.
A haunt of curiosity requires that I inspect the chestnut girl’s papers left behind. Walking over to the spot she was sitting, I notice it’s a small mess of white A4 sheet paper. On approach I’m expecting to be written some silly syllabus for a subject in fashion or advertising or architecture or another chestnut haired girl-esque area of study. But when looking down more intently at the pile of papers I see that only one word has been written multiple times, all over the sheets of paper – MacGuff.
I look around wildly for the girl.
“MacGuff!” I call out in a building desperation.
“Shhh!” The lady at the front desk hisses at me.
I look in her direction and see that past the front desk, through the rotating front doors, the chestnut haired girl is walking away from the library, clutching a lime green satchel and searching her pockets.
I neglect my belongings and rush toward the circulating library exit, passing the woman at the front desk on the way, “Your cheeks would taste nice sautéed in butter and chives, what do you think?” I don’t bother stopping to hear the fat lady sing her disapproval.
I bluster through the library doors and run outside onto the concrete path. I can see the girl crossing a road ahead.
“MacGuff! MacGuff!” I begin running in her direction, my adrenal gland pumping energy furiously, blocking out a blaring pitch of noise to my left. I am going to make a friend; I am going to be friends with MacGuff. A huge grin licks my face and time slows right down as I’m overcome by this incredible happiness. The world seems quiet and paused in bliss and I stop my pursuit briefly to enjoy the moment. Everything is perfect and I turn and face the front of a large white bus, a gargantuan spider in dapper pink behind the wheel. Dot dot dot.