by Martin Rusis
These seemingly dull chapters are all intricate set-up. Truly they are.
Sam was qualified as an international journalist. But he wasn’t an actual international journalist – he was unemployed. He had studied the immediate three years after school ended to get his certificate. He didn’t study hard and relied on focused cramming on the hours before the tests. It was how Sam had acquired his coffee addiction. He would smash straight through the exams – no time for redrafting or second guessing. He found the long-term assignments harder – with those it is usually obvious when it has been slapped together. But there are only so many marks that can be taken off for glitches – and if the rest of the pieces are there, polish or no, then passing wasn’t too hard. Good marks were hard, scraping through not so.
Plus a university doesn’t want to fail a student – in the new era a student is a production unit. Where once there were by turns tweed and sandstone, brusqueness and civility, there were now core competencies. Coordinators only usually fail someone when they think that that student has done such a shoddy job that academic dignity has been offended. Few students managed to fail. They were more likely to get the idea to defer their course to get a job in a carpet factory or something, and before they knew it was 20 years had passed. It took some intelligence in organisational psychology to engineer such a passive and reliable response.
Faculties stuck together after everyone stopped swapping courses after the first year. Students stuck together as they found out the boat they were in, especially med-students and journalists. Med-students needed to push each other or no one would make it and journalists would need the contacts.
Journalism lost its lustre after students found out its real workings. Taking something messy and making it palatable – make a good guy and a bad guy – manufacture some blame. Put in the clues and let the audience roll the marble from fact to fault down a carefully smoothed runnel. Lies, damn lies, statistics, press releases and news. Working for Omnistore while his fellows conquered their desks caused Sam to lose his contacts. He hadn’t held them that tight anyway.
He bought the morning paper that Saturday and went straight to the jobs section after reading the publication first. It didn’t take him long to find a suitable job – a trans-national needed “a International relation’s Staff”. International relations is basically private journalism – boil the report down so that it fits on one page, even better if there are pictures to go along with it. Well that was what Sam knew of it anyway. And it was with this knowledge and only this that he decided to give this one a shot and closed the paper.
He spent the rest of the Saturday pottering about the house, attending to things that were undone during the working week. Going through his pocket of his ex-work pants he came across the yellow invitation to the strange girl’s party – apparently her name was Chloe and she was having a house warming. When one has no plans for the weekend it is odd how often when one is resigned to such that any appearance of ‘plans’ is actually lamented. After all one had made plans to have no plans. As the day wore on he knew he would end up going to the party where he knew no one but kept telling himself he wasn’t. This was the usual, ‘I don’t know anyone here…’ sort of pre-party statement. Quite literally the only thing Sam knew of this party was what was on the invitation and that the invitation was for him.
One night while out for some reason he couldn’t remember he had walked past a house with a large banner strung up above its open garage which read: Thing Happening – Come on In. This was in the university district where there are many share-houses and private colleges for the thirty-thousand-odd students. Obviously it was an open invitation for passers-by to drop in and par-tay. There were few people at the ‘thing’ it was still quite early. Sam was in the target age group and only just out of the target occupation. But he just walked past after some dithering. He decided that if there were more people at the ‘thing’ then he would have gone in. There was just too much chance of one of Sam most hated things happening, he couldn’t bear an awkward silence. Had he walked in then he would have added to the party atmosphere but not by enough, he reasoned. Clinical trials have proved that the atmosphere of parties is fuelled and consumed by the balance of personalities – with familiarity the destabilising agent – Sam was a moderate filler and a heavy consumer of atmosphere.
Strangely he always regretted not going in to the ‘thing’: this was part of the reason that he almost immediately knew that he would be at Chloe’s house tonight. It would be the usual set up – a bathtub full of ice and cheaply purchased communal beers. Someone will buy some imported beer for their exclusive enjoyment and find the only way to chill them is in the tub and so there they would be put – only for other people to decide they had a more refined palate and throughout the night come in and take all the Daschkarfels or what have yous.
He showered, dressed and left – it wasn’t that far to go. If it was necessary he could walk home – though that might take an hour or so. Being currently cash rich he took a taxi. The driver was simply the back of a head and natural conversationality to Sam, there were no other details to flesh him out aside from a lack of accent. He dropped Sam off at the address pressed some buttons on his console and disappeared. Maybe no one ever gets the same taxi driver again – perhaps there is a computer databank to make sure of it, maintained by the evil taxi company for its own devious means.
The party was the standard affair just as Sam suspected. All the elements Sam had expected were there but had important differences. There was dancing as per usual – but on a grand scale, there were few people clinging to the walls in reservation. The music had a driving beat and was very loud – it was controlled, as usual, by the requisite music hog/nazi only this time she seemed more interested in the listening choices of the masses rather than her own. Most unusual. Nevertheless, she wasn’t giving up her station next to the stereo and pile of CDs for anyone. There was not as much beer in the communal ice tub as Sam expected. However, at a rough guess, seven out of ten attendees were female. Inside it was hazy with tobacco and marijuana smoke outside where it was quiet enough for a chat that smoke drifted off over the dark city with its orange glowing streetlights.
Inside all the light bulbs had been changed to novelty red or blue bulbs. It created a weird intimate atmosphere that was also helped by the heavy nicotine/THC fog. On the wall someone had written with black pen, in an evidently feminine hand, the word:
And in an evidently masculine hand below this was written:
Throughout the night more words by many different authors appeared on the wall. For some reason, of all of them, the word lammergeier stuck in Sam mind when he read it – he had no idea what it meant.
When you are alone at a party and you don’t know anyone, but everyone else seems to know everyone else so well that there are no cast offs for you to engage is daunting – a good host does well to be mindful of this and can carefully steer the loner into a social intercourse.
A social network’s value increases proportionately to the square of its nodes. The more the merrier.
Sam’ host, the Chloe girl, was not at all apparent, so he was faced with a wall of dancers and an empty spot on a stripy couch next to an older woman who looked calmly off into her own little world. She looked like a fortune-teller – or at least the stereotype of such. It wasn’t the look of her clothes or her outward appearance, it was something intangible in her bearing. Without any other obvious choice Sam sat next to her after hustling his way side-on through the crush and the din.
It was far too loud to talk and so Sam sat next to her but not with her. He occasionally drew from the generic beer that he had acquired earlier. A little while later for no specific reason and not taking any notice of Sam the lady took his hand in hers. Her hands were weathered but soft. Sam thought they probably smelled strongly of lavender soap. She continued to sit and gaze off into nothing as she held his hand. She was so calm that she didn’t cause him any consternation. After a time the music and atmosphere started to get to him and he desired to get up but didn’t because he didn’t want to upset the calmness of the woman beside him. He had felt this way before.
One day while in a deserted ornamental garden walking alone through a grove of green bamboo he felt the silence and calmness as a definite force in the air. He dared not breathe too loud or make too much noise for fear of upsetting that calmness. He felt menace drifting below it. As he came to a pond with fish in it waiting to be fed and he felt the calmness all around him looking at him. It had thousands of eyes – eyes that could see into his head. It was then that he got the idea that there was a hauntedness watching him and waiting for its cue to manifest its fear on him. And so he made a hasty retreat out of the lovely sun-starred bamboo grove and away from the pond with its waiting indistinct fish and got back to where people were.
He found people again in the car park not far away – and wherever there are other people the forces in the mind are so much less real. Keep around people to keep the mind quiet and stop it straying into places you didn’t want it to go – it was a doctrine Sam had subconsciously adopted and each night before sleep he had to let it roam free and occasionally it gave him nightmares. Like the time he saw the demon hiss at him, that being the entirety of the dream. The demon had furious eyes – a cross between a viper and a bat. It was in black and white and then its eyes flared and it snarled in silence – it was the most terrifying thing he had ever experienced. After it he couldn’t get back to sleep and was trapped frozen by the image until morning. The lesson was: do not read about demonic possession before bed.
The unsettling calmness he was feeling on the couch this time left of its own accord when the hand was withdrawn. The woman never looked at him. Sam didn’t want to seem so impolite as to leave asap so he stayed until his eyes began to sting from the smoke. And only now did he get up and leave the woman one the couch – her eyes still questing into nothingness – they were clear and not irritated by the smoke. Sam took his bearings and once again shuffled sideways through the crowd toward the door to the backyard. He wended and shimmered past all sorts of gyrating body parts flung in his way as politely as he could – the dancers, mostly girls, took no notice of him.
Though the sliding glass doors were open the difference in heat and atmosphere inside to outside cut off markedly at the threshold. The night was clear and a little brisk, the stars that came through the light pollution were hard. Though they were in the city they party throwers had lit a small fire in a steel drum and – in that inimitable quality of fire – it had transfixed a small group. They sat around it in a natural equidistance. Fire and conversation fit hand in glove. Probably the most common night time entertainment for god knows how long in the dark primeval.
On a specially requisitioned bench sat a gay couple both dressed alike – she a lesbian and he a homosexual. The relationship worked because he was enough of a girl for her and she enough of a guy for him. It also worked because neither was puritanical about their choice of partner. Neither dwelt in the conservatively accepted petal:jackboot binary. A relationship of understanding, not passion.
Unlike inside Sam was spoilt for seat choice here the problem was which of the idylls of the couples and triples to interrupt. He stood in a gap in the roundel of seats for a little while looking non-committal. He finished his beer and placed it in a handy bin near the fire. The gay guy in the apparently hetero relationship stood up to go for some drinks for all the comfy fireside people who had finished theirs. He asked Sam if he wanted a new one.
“Thanks, that is generous of you,” Sam said.
“I’m big on largesse,” the guy replied. His name was Fee.
“Sit down here with us.” The request came politely from the girlfriend. She gestured to the now empty place of her departed lover. She had a blanket about her and was rosy-cheeked, happy in her tranquil tipse. Her hair was bleached bone white and she had tiny studs in both sides of her nose. She was just the sort of girl to sit on a stool, with a guitar rested on her upward knee, and play and sing with her eyes closed. She might have been an elf. Her name was Kir.
Fee dropped a sweet faggot on the fire.
You are not ‘other people’. What holds for you holds for you in its personal essentials to yourself and holds to no one else. I do know that you as an individual made me and all this so unless there are other people who are as you are then perhaps not. Sorry that I cannot be more direct.
But isn’t that what this is … direction?
Yes. But there are limitations.
Then why should I even listen?
Because you are not naïve enough to expect omnipotence from godheads that you created.
Then what I am not too naïve to expect?
Pragmatism of course. But pragmatism does also have its limitations — it is grounded in knowledge and not supposition. See now where I end and Zhen begins?
Well Zhen and I know very little of ner.
How did you find out the name then?
You actually made up our names and therefore I knew and I told Zhen. Like everything here we are the product of the product of influences that are you.
Do you always talk like this?
It is how we are expected to talk. How else should a god speak?
Without quite so many questions as answers for a start…
Well when you answer a question with a question then the asker is known by the askee to already have a suitable answer if only they look for it.
And you know that I know the answers here?
If only you had the time or mind to ask the questions and discern the answers. It takes a certain kind of application and direction of effort.
“So what is going on?” she asked him as she rehuddled herself into her blanket, looked into the fire and had a long draw on a small ornate pipe.
“To be honest I don’t really know.”
“What do you mean, you don’t really know,” she enquired mildly.
“Well I just got handed this invitation by a girl I didn’t even know and, hell, so I decided to check it out.”
“Was that girl Chloe?”
“I am not sure. I think it was. We haven’t been introduced. Just bumped into her on the street and she said she had to walk with me for a bit then she gave me this and disappeared.”
“What? Into thin air?” the girl joked. “No, I know what you mean, sounds like Chloe. It’s her party but she’s had other people giving invites around, even me. I’m Kir.” She offered a tiny hand.
“Sam here.” He said giving it a gentle shake.
“Who else do you know here?”
“I don’t know most of them, there are some of my boyfriend’s friends here somewhere but I don’t know where they are.”
They were forcing the conversation, as you do, Sam could feel the silence coming, before it did, the boyfriend returned laden awkwardly with drinks. He carried pre-mixes in all colours and beers of various labels. He had not discriminated between generic and Daschkarfel.
“Now … what were we talking about before I went?” asked Fee, he spoke with a lot of ‘tone colour’.
“I was telling you about that dream I had … we were all telling dream stories,” answered a girl on the other side of the fire.
“Do you want my interpretation? I think that your dream definitely points to your proper course of action ... I think you should call.”
“I don’t know…,” the far girl replied.
“I can only foresee what is written in the dream…,” answered the boyfriend with what was imagined a fortune teller’s accent.
Most around the circle chuckled, the boyfriend didn’t mind having had his seat taken by Sam, it meant he had to stand and that meant he was the centre of attention.
“And you, in my place, tell us of one of your’s.”
They all waited for him to speak.
Though he didn’t want to tell them about demon-face it was, under the pressure, the only thing that came to mind. As he finished the circle regarded him silently. They looked a little intimidating in the firelight. Sam could feel the judgement.
“I think that what you may have actually seen ... is a demon. I think maybe you had a visitation,” and the boyfriend turned his head sideways and looked at Sam appraisingly from the corner of his eyes. “Did you consider that?”
“It’s what freaked me so much…,” replied Sam. Most people in the circle laughed at this. Their faces broken with slight mirth.
“Still it is something definitely worth considering.”
“I don’t really think so,” answered Sam. “I read a magazine feature on possessions before bed, I think it was still in my brain when I fell asleep…”
“Maybe or maybe not…”
“Don’t listen to him, he’s just joking,” interjected Kir.
“No I’m not, it could all have been real, and he only wants to think it is a dream. What does everyone else think?’ asked the boyfriend. He didn’t get any particularly committal answers from any others of the group.
“Don’t worry, Sam, he’s always going on like that, him and his friends talking about gods and spirits,” Kir said.
“It’s philosophy,” he said to her with exaggerated labour, a worn in refrain. He turned back to Sam, “Anyway, you can never know can you? Well never until you die and you are not an atheist whose beliefs in the afterlife are strong enough to void your claim to one good or bad,” the boyfriend scratched his head and looked as if he had confused himself with that one.
He departed abruptly once more and returned with a seat for himself which he sat on backwards in a conscious imitation of Sitcom Dad. Kir explained to Sam that one of her boyfriend’s favourite pastimes was beanbag transcendentalism and that this he discussed with a fellow called Zeb.
“It’s short for Zebastien,” Fee interjected. “Come on! We will go to him and there discuss this dream of yours.”
Sam was halfway through standing as he looked to Kir, she smiled and joined back into the conversations that had since sprung up. Sam followed Fee through the inside party where people danced and drank and shouted. Fee slid through the shifting terrain of momentary gaps and sudden logjams and led Sam up a dark stairway. Being that the place was one of those estate townhouses the stairway was steep and took an abrupt 180 degree turn – this alone might have prevented many of the drunkards below from ascending – for there were none up here. The hall on the second floor was still and black. The stairs spiralled again and went to another level. Harsh streetlight slanted and gave just enough illumination. It was quiet compared to downstairs.
“The gap between floors is soundproofed,” Fee explained, as he opened what appeared to be a bedroom door.
Inside there was diffused rosy light that painted room’s furnishings in red and brown. Thick carpets lay on the floor and here and there a prostrate body. The room’s atmosphere was a change from the chaos downstairs, but, if anything, the smoke was even denser. And, it seemed, a greater ratio of it was hash based. Off to the side leaning against a wall was a man with his head down quietly snoring. The music was tabla and sitar played as jazz. The girl-most-likely-to-be-Chloe was sitting comfortably on the armrest of one of the couches and on another couch facing her was a large foreign-looking man with a great black beard into which he had plaited his long black hair. Sam suspected that this was Zebastien. Zeb didn’t move, he sprawled leonine. He was well stoned.
Zebastien was almost entirely colour blind. To him everything was shades of grey. That is why he dressed in monochrome. There is less chance of a clash of colours when one only wears black – despite his inability to perceive it, he cared about colours. An interesting side-effect of complete colour blindness is that it sharpens the low light vision and so when Zebastien was alone at home a caller would see all the lights off and assume he was out. This and his affinity for black made those who didn’t really know him think he wanted to be a vampire or, more likely, a werewolf.
“Fo Fum! Where have you been!” he demanded.
Fee, greatly dwarfed by Zebastien, sat neatly in a small space the couch and the two launched into an apparently long-running debate on the nature of ‘spirit’. Sam, whose demon dream was the supposed topic of the meeting, was forgotten and not officially introduced, in that wonderfully archaic way, to Zebastien. The conversation between Fee and Zebastien became strident as each interrupeted the other.
“… but would not the soul reach down unto the person and with it bring a taste of the heaven?” asked Zebastien arching his eyebrows.
Fee replied: “But would not the soul of a person reach up to heaven, because it is a node of loneliness stretching out to the greater wisdom, its impetus generated by the loneliness of the man as confronted by the imperfection of the world as he sees it. And thus in which he sees his incompleteness.”
“But is a man incomplete?”
“A man feels it in his bones that he is…”
“Stop there Zeb, I know where your going with this. Remember, you’ve already conceded that the worst thing a man can do with his faith is to inflict in someone else.”
“What about women?” asked Chloe pointedly.
“Nonsense, we are using man to stand in for mankind, and by mankind we mean humankind…” Zeb said.
“Right…” and Chloe returned to her conversation with someone else who had found her way upstairs to where the real party was.
So many parties, after they reach a certain density after a certain hour devolve into cliques. One is always the ‘alpha’ group. (‘Alpha’ here used in the way armchair anthropologists use it to categorise their subjects for idle and impersonal deconstruction).
“What I am saying is that the divinity of the individual is in-bred. Each man has the perfection of the divine inside him. And that this divinity reaches out to the perfection and infinity that dwells beyond the ambit of the biological,” Fee said.
“What I say,” Zebastien said, “is that the gods of the true world reach down to the lonely individual soul that’s roaming the wasteland of the conventional religion and the set text looking for the truth behind things.”
“Maybe there is no truth…”
“No. That is empty. Nothing but howling and bright lights,” Zebastien said with an odd first-hand conviction, as he accidentally put three words together in his head he thought sounded so good together he decided he must slot them in. He felt they really meant what he was trying to convey through the inept tools of language. These words:
The great wash.
“Why so scary?” Fee prodded. “Provided you are not afraid of being alone then being spiritually alone and being able reconcile endlessness shouldn’t really daunt a person. I see it as rather freeing to know there is no grand design. All you need is to appreciate the lack of universal design and abandon yourself, be zen, to the impossible size of ‘everything’.”
“Who can do that?” Zeb scoffed.
“And therein lies the game – that is the limitation that makes us make up the rules…”
“Are you saying that it is because we can never comprehend even a part of the great wash?”
They were both quiet.
They were competing for sure, but victory was not their competition’s purpose. They sought instead to stretch and grow. By perverting rules men know to their bones, they were giving.
This competition had a special way of keeping score. In each’s pockets, satchels, cargo cummerbunds, or what have you, they kept a ‘stash’ (not short for moustache mind you, that is ‘stache’, and Zeb had no trouble in the facial hair department that he would need to have a prosthetic ‘stache to apply when necessary, Fee could never grow any facial hair but didn’t like it so was similarly not enamoured of prosthetic moustaches (for more information on facial hair see a spaghetti western)). In their stashes each carried some pills, neither really knew what was in them, but you never really do, they were probably an alloy of speed and ecstasy. When one scored a point of knowledge, the other, in respect, would withdraw from his own stash a pill — which coincidentally had more or less one point of active ingredient. Then would place it on the table and a with sharp crack of some plastic financial hardware/health benefits card divide it as exactly in two as they could. Then each would wash down their pill portion with a gulp of whatever. By the end of the night whosoever had run out would have both lost and gained as much as his brother. In defeat there is can be more gain than in victory — the victorious has had his behaviours reinforced and is thus that much more limited while the defeated has now the opportunity to go away and learn. But perhaps the victor has now the peace from combat to also consider his actions — and so he should, rather than put his victim’s metaphorical head on a pike and beat jungle drums and dervish and smoke cigars and drink red wine. By their method Zeb and Fee had gone beyond triumphalism. Beyond winner and loser. From quantity to quality.
Of course the pills were stimulants and so once they kicked the conversation continued apace. In the centre of the table a tiny white pill had on it, written by process of sucrose transfer, the ‘kissing omegas’ corporate logo of Omnicorp. But this pill, like many others, didn’t snap neatly and a bit flew off onto the floor — a valuable bit. Both men dove to the brown carpets to search.
Sam found now the atmosphere of the room changed enough for him to think again. It was so hot and stuffy in here — the smoke sickening. Someone had planned for this by having set up a small desk fan on the floor. It was blasting away at its highest setting and making little difference. Sam moved to it and sat on the carpets directly in its jet stream. That was its brand: JetStream. Marketers had told makers and owners that a portmanteau with a capital remaining on the second word was a good thing. The twice-capped portmanteau, or TCP, has since been recognised as an important breakthrough in the study of Corporate Nomenclature and is attributed to JohnSmith of NewYork, NY.
Here in the JetStream Sam could breathe. Zeb and Fee found their pill bit and according to custom each took whichever piece happened to be in hand at the time. They chucked the vile tasting thing back and swallowed it with liquid it as soon as they could. And then they kept drinking until they couldn’t feel it sticking and reclined back into their comfortable pieces of furniture. Then after a happy pause: “Tell me of this great wash…’ And they were off again.
Chloe quickly bored of these conversations that never reached a point of simple and utter truth. She scanned the room. She saw Sam and went over and sat beside him. Sam noticed her legs come into view and tried not to notice as her tiny skirt rode up as she sat on the floor.
“Hey,” she said in her abrupt loud way. “You came! Cool!”
So who was Jake?
Yes, Jake… well that didn’t work out how we planned. But we did learn something important about ourselves there. I learnt of the evil available to me. I then must only guess that such badness is in everyone. A new edge to paranoia.
But what was the point?
He was to direct you into finding your own answer. He became however the beginnings of a fourth seepian. He was to split me into your ‘good’ and ‘bad’. That wasn’t okay by you. You kept ‘self’ together. And I think it is because you don’t believe in good and bad as absolutes.
But I felt good to let him die.
Because in the end he felt good to die — to be relieved of the discrete entrapment of individuality. To be free transformative energy in the tasma. That is why he died peacefully.
“Sometimes they really annoy me — they always talk about ‘man’ and ‘his’ when they should be saying ‘they’ and ‘theirs’,” Chloe said. “They imply women aren’t considered part of the higher beings but men are.”
“Well--,” Sam started.
“I mean women are probably even higher than men are,” she cut in, her pupils were really wide. “How do you like my party? How good is my new house? Well it is Zeb’s house…”
“It is packed here…”
“Yeah they are my friends, I don’t know many of them but people are having fun…”
“Have you been downstairs? It’s nuts.”
“Cool! Good!” She clapped her hands twice.
“Aren’t you worried about the mess they are gonna make?”
“Hadn’t cleaned up from moving in yet. When I clean up after this it will be two birds one stone. I am not really worried about damage the walls are pretty strong and there is no carpet to wreck.” The downstairs floors were polished concrete. “And no one is allowed up here. Hey! How did you find your way up here anyway?” she asked with flat curiosity.
“Him,’ and Sam pointed.
“Oh, okay. He’s one of my bestest buddies.”
Conspiratorially Sam leaned in and asked in a whisper, “Is he gay?”
And Chloe answered loudly, “Yeah but he has a thing for girls as well, you know Kir only likes girls? She has a thing for boys.”
Hearing this Fee looked up from his conversation took no offence and went back to it. Chloe was smiling — she evidently found their unusual relationship amusing.
“So the only people you don’t know are my man Zebastien and…,’ she turned and looked at the guy asleep over there, “well I don’t know his name.”
Sam was nearly disappointed, he had nearly hoped Chloe was single. He did like her — but to men it is always a tragedy whenever an attractive woman is found to be in a relationship. The betrothal of a Hollywood diva is the chagrin of men worldwide. But she’ll get divorced soon, phew.
“The smoke in here is getting to me,” said Sam — when he couldn’t think of anything to say and so to his regret babbled out a complaint in the conversation. Chloe didn’t mind, “I know! You smell of it after a night out it’s in your hair and all – but don’t stress – you just need to think about something else … or nothing else…”
“What’s that mean?” asked Sam.
She leaned in. “Have you ever tried some of these?” she said holding a small bag in which were a few Omnicorp pills.
“I have never taken drugs…” Sam declared with an eke of pride.
“Oh… Okay, can you do something me?”
“Close your eyes and try to think of nothing.”
“Why?” he asked warily.
“Just trust me…” he did trust her for some reason. Sam closed his eyes and he felt her making him lean back so that he sat more easily. “Now just sit there relaxing for a bit,” she said and waited for a bit. “Tell me how you feel.”
At first Sam felt nothing, except the blackness of his closed eyes, but it was a black he could feel. Slightly odd, but – ‘meh’. Then he could feel it tickling and then a movement, a tiny little buzz, in him somewhere — it made him give a little smirk. Then Chloe touched his nose and he opened his eyes.
“What did you feel?”
“A little buzz I suppose … and it was very black.”
“Friend,” she leant in again with a look of frankness on her face. “You are half bent. Sorry to tell you but you have tried drugs. You’ve been smoking passive since you got in here. Feels good doesn’t it?”
It did, but it still felt wrong.
“Tell you what if you ever get more curious give me a call and I will show you, okay? Have you still got the invitation? It has all the details.”
Like many drug users she was only too happy to spread the word. Like many drug users she was very thin, but unlike many not ghoulish and drawn. More snakelike. She had long straight black hair that she obviously took great care of. Her complexion was absolutely pale, but that seemed to be more genetic than any illness. Despite her unhealthy level of practice she still seemed healthy. Sam had heard that drugs destroy body and mind and that they made you look cancer ridden — all cheek bones and sockets. The current affairs stories also led you to make the obvious connections of drug use and gutter dwelling, of filthy people swearing at cameras in automatic hostility. True rubbish people for Aaron and Sharon at home to pity. Usage had been so stigmatised that people were unenlightened and fearful without account. People who took drugs were all dead and dying weren’t they? Chloe was certainly attractive, Zebastien was the definition of rude health and Fee had the standard sparkle of the gay. Sam’ concerns began to ebb from him in the presence of peers who had been there and come back, who had traversed that place he imagined so deadly without any evident effects.
Sam once again closed his eyes to let himself feel the buzz. It was a little louder now but still maddeningly small — the bigger it got the more wrong he felt and the more he liked it. His mind calmed for a tick, then…
Dammit! This wasn’t what good people did.
Nevertheless he didn’t feel like getting up and moving and so there sat breathing steadily and with each breath drew a little more of the N2, O2, CO2, nicotine and THC smog.
Sam slept well that night after he got the buzz to settle down. He awoke at home somehow. How he got there remained a mystery to him — all incidental witnesses were under the influence of something and would not really have grounds to remember the wholly usual sight of a person walking somewhere on a Saturday night. He was, however, a little concerned that he was naked when he woke up but here was no one else at his house and there was no sign of there having been so, he chalked this one up to the clandestine forces that delivered partiers home with magic carpets.
What is true here and now will change as it becomes eroded/painted over by new pieces of you. This is the way it works. For the meantime at least this system is also subject to the erosion of the shifting of convictions and conceptions that comes with new experience and knowledge. Let it change. Let the edges wear off. Let it become smooth like a river stone.
Things will change but they do so from this new foundations. Change, as it happens to you, branches from the trunk growing from your fundamental self. It is the nurture growing from your nature.