A Young Man Goes to the Cinema.

A meaningless, pathetic excuse for a psychedelic adventure.

As told to DrWadata, by someone he made up.


To my brothers and sisters Jacob; those that wrestle with life in a way that most seem not to need to, and wake up every day and choose to live. Make no mistake — this story is not a piece of advice, it is simply a feeling, perhaps a fear. Whatever happens next, know that the strange and angsty young man that penned this series of horrible lies is alive and well, and so are you. You are far from alone. Don’t give up.



First

“Say now, where might a fine, upstanding young seeker such as myself go to find cheap, disposable fear in the city of love?”

The words drip like melted candle wax off my pen and land with a muted thud on my small lined notebook.

Actually, not only is that a pretentious bit of writing, it’s also a lie. I’m not writing with a pen. I’m typing on a laptop computer; some esoteric device certified societally acceptable by those top-of-the-line manufacturers of mass-produced American culture over in Cupertino.

I’m really not sure why I use this product. Conditioning, perhaps. I am, after all, an American citizen in good standing. The land of Senator Zuckerberg. Chief of Defense Schmidt. The times being what they are, this is what I write with.

Sorry. Ignore me. I get like this, I suppose. Really I’m fairly harmless; just another self-aggrandizing dilettante vomiting Thompson all over my shoes.

Does this make me Fellini? Kaufman?

Ah, delusions of grandeur; sweet little nothings we whisper to ourselves like a desperate prayer just before bed to try and coax ourselves into waking up stronger in the morning, freshly re-equipped with that central lie that all Americans seem to feel we need to tell ourselves to be happy; that our lives are interesting, that we’re the only people that matter — the stars of something on television.

Whatever.

If I’ve learned anything from my lifetime of overthinking, and I’m quite sure that I haven’t, it’s that I’m tired of explaining myself, to myself or to anyone else (should they be inclined to ask, though I couldn’t imagine why they would.)

So read on if you must, judge me if you want, drop out if you can.

I don’t care.


Second

“Say now, where might a fine, upstanding young seeker such as myself go to find cheap, disposable fear in the city of love?”

The words sounded so smooth in his head, but now that he’d said them out loud the woman manning the Cinema box office just stared blankly at the young man standing before her and said nothing.

She was in her late 50’s and heavyset, and wore no wedding band.

A job with no future.

A life with no dependents.

Clearly this was a woman for whom questions pertaining to anything outside of her job description were hardly worth answering between the hours of nine and five.

It was just nonsense anyway. Most things we say tend to be.

“Heh. Just joking around…I guess. Two tickets for your cheapest film please.”

By this point, the Box Office Woman’s apathy had grown thick — a translucent, charcoal-colored haze that surrounded her from head to toe. Though he felt no breeze, the young man could sense this viscous cloud that emanated from the woman’s eyeballs oozing towards his nostrils like a gaseous sludge.

$15.50 American for an adult ticket regardless of the film.

The young man waved her bad vibes away from his nose with his left hand and coughed lightly.

“I see. Well, that sounds so enticing I think I’ll take two.”

Why not.

A few clicks, the sound of a printer, and he was through the doors to the Cinema, the box office slowly darkening behind him in a silent cloud of thick, black disinterest.


Third

I can’t imagine what a story about a young man going to the movies has to do with you.

Granted, I can’t imagine you at all. I can’t imagine you because there are many people reading this, all of them different, at least a little, often a lot. (Then again, perhaps no one is reading this, in which case, feel free to skip ahead.)

I also can’t imagine you because I can’t imagine me. It’s sort of like trying to satisfactorily comprehend the third chapter of a textbook without really understanding the first two — perhaps it’s possible, but I’m certainly missing some context.

Sorry…I’m being shitty again.

I’m not really sure why I get like this.

Perhaps it’s upbringing; this is what my parents did to me. Surely. Not my fault at all, or at least not entirely. You’re special, they promised — you’re smart, you’re kind, you can matter. Of course I’m self-obsessed — I’m supposed to be.

Then again, over the past half decade or so, a small army of wannabe pundits and doomsday salesman shysters have invested lots of time and noise into assuring anyone bored enough to take their shit seriously that all us millennials are simply like that; we all mainlined the future directly from our smartphones to our eye sockets and eventually our brains just short circuited. That’s us — the instant information generation; so hopelessly plugged in that, in this, the Golden Age of Content, anything is everything. And we want it. We deserve it. We demand it, and we need it immediately. We’re late.

After all, who can be satisfied when they practically have everything?

Of course, there’s also that last terrible possibility from which we all seem to hide: that your suspicion is correct — it’s you. Yes, you are indeed uniquely fucked. Your parents tried to protect you, guide you, and convince you of what’s good and right. Society offered you chances to fit in, to stay the course. You laughed. Rolled your eyes. Knew better. And now you’re just too old for the benefit of the doubt, from you or from them, and you’re stuck with yourself.

So yeah.

A young man in a movie theater. Do I have your attention?


Fourth

Two tickets. One person. Why not. He didn’t plan on understanding the film anyway.

The young man felt fortunate on some level that the woman in the ticket booth had at least spoken English, as it had helped facilitate his entrance into the Cinema.

Then again, if this was to be an adventure, surely to an extent he had been thwarted thus far. Where’s the fun in getting what you want?

With a few easy flicks of the wrist, the young man dusted as many of the tiny white specks of mild disappointment and doubt off his shoulders as he could. He walked slowly, calmly, floating his way through a Marquez fever dream, towards the man who took tickets.

The Ticket Man said something that the young man did not hear, or rather, did not listen to.

Too busy taking things in.

What’s the rush?

The Ticket Man, who was wearing nothing but an absurd handlebar moustache and some clothing, repeated himself. That is, the words were the same, but his eyes were narrower, his inflection sharper, his volume increased, which is to say that it was not the same in any way save for the words he chose to speak.

The Ticket Man seemed to have finished talking. His bald head glistened with sweat. His overly waxed moustache twitched. One carefully pointed end of the moustache rolled itself into a ball and shook itself at the young man like an old man’s fist waving angrily at some skateboarding hooligan.

The young man shrugged and offered the Ticket Man one of his tickets, if only as a token gesture intended to calm the man down.

The Ticket Man grumbled. A turnstile clicked.

Shuffle forward.

Take your place.

Keep quiet.

The system hummed along behind him as the young man entered the lobby of the Cinema.


Fifth

I can’t imagine what a story about a young man going to the movies has to do with you.

I guess I want to judge you for reading this far. Clearly this story has no point, this much must be clear to you by now, and yet you keep reading. Is your time so cheap?

Still, you might reasonably retort, what of mine?

Sigh.

I suppose I don’t really know who this is for. Or what it’s for.

Something to do. Pass the time.

But people rarely pass time by in this town — they bother to stop and murder it.

Kill time.

Can you imagine that expression? The passage of time is tantamount to the ending of your life, and the way you choose to use the time you have left over is to destroy it; undertake an activity so meaningless that even time itself can not escape that dismal tug into the black hole of how little you care about how much longer your own sentience might continue to exist.

I wonder, what does that tell you about the value you place on even being alive in the first place?

And you don’t even stop to watch, do you? I don’t. I kill time as quickly as I can. Flee the scene; expired minutes lying in a puddle, still and quiet off in the distance behind me, buried in the darkest hole into which my lost memories always seem to fall.

A tragedy all dressed up as an inconvenience, hiding in plain sight.

The banality of evil.

So commit your little murder and read on. I’ll do the same with a pen. Perhaps we’ll meet in the middle.


Sixth

Why do you need a ticket to get into the lobby?

…is something the young man might well have wondered, had his mind not been otherwise occupied.

Too busy enjoying himself.

Surround myself with strangers and seek to make a fool of myself? Don’t mind if I do.

Epic hyperactive lunacy. Judgmental adults seething with jealousy. It’s how all the young man’s most treasured memories seemed to begin. The stunted millennial’s answer to “once upon a time.” A white suburban American with a crown of dead flowers on her head and dad’s credit card sticking out of the ass pocket of her overpriced faded denim jeans; a teenager’s uniform on her back and a thirty year old’s wrinkles hidden in the corners of her eyes, aggressively drunk and desperately trying to laugh the loudest from the center of the outdoor softcore orgy of some music festival eagerly pimping the dying memory of Woodstock to a generation too late to care.

What more could the heart desire?

Well, no — the young man was not quite so youthful as perhaps he once had been, he’d very likely be among the first dozen or so to admit that — but certainly you’re never really too old to have some fun.

Right?

Still, those tiny flakes of doubt on the young man’s shoulders must have been living things with gluttonous appetites for the presence of other human beings. Here, at last, he found himself — in the thick of the madness — and by the time the young man reached the crowded lobby, the few white specs that were still stuck to his shoulders had grown exponentially in both size and girth, weighing down his shoulders and pricking at his neck.

He edged his way gingerly towards the center of the lobby, shoulders hunched slightly, rubbing his neck nervously.

The lurid temple of unabashed consumerism in which the young man found himself was humming with life. Passive, middle-aged denialists and elderly dope fiends prattled with painful exuberance as they rushed around in meaningless circles. Cheap shrines to cheaper food whistled and catcalled at passersby. Massive, two-story posters depicting scenes of fiction with fantastical titles peered down at the lobby and snickered.

Children screamed.

Be smooth. No worries.

The young man surveyed the scene. His eyes came to rest in time on the concession stand.

Well, sure. When in doubt, buy something.

He shuffled towards the stand carefully. His head was spinning a bit. Too much stimulation. Sensory overload. Were human beings meant to live in such conditions?

When at last he reached the stand, a teenager with an aggressively short, graffiti spray can haircut and an expression of nearly clinical boredom meticulously constructed and painstakingly maintained on her pale face snapped her gum at him and barked. Her head was leaning against a fist connected to a forearm, the elbow of which was resting on a glass counter displaying all manner of strange wares presumably designed to rot human teeth.

The young man held forward a green piece of paper that was apparently worth twenty units of American currency to a great number of very respectable people.

The Teen’s mouth laughed. Her eyes did not.

“Food…please? Look! Disposable income! Go on…take it!”

He waved the bill in the general direction of The Teen’s face and coughed up a hairball of a forced chuckle.

The Teen rolled her eyes, snatched the piece of paper from the young man’s hand, and resumed her former position.

The young man blinked, his now empty hand still aloft and directionless.

What had happened here?

A mild hallucination, perhaps — the illusion of progress.

Of course — if you can’t identify the crime, there wasn’t one.

The young man forced another curt, half-hearted laugh, paused, then walked away from the counter. He was replaced almost immediately by an apparently more qualified patron, with whom The Teen interacted with equal boredom, if slightly less vitriol.

Well then. What now?

He plunged his hands into his pockets, a nervous habit of his since early adolescence, and was quickly reminded that, resting benignly in one of them, was a stub from the ticket he’d offered the Ticket Man. He fetched the scrap of paper from his pocket and considered it with squinted eyes. He saw only gibberish.

No matter, perhaps someone here speaks gibberish and can translate.

He scanned the room for allies — someone he could reason with. For whatever reason, his gaze was drawn to a family of five — two children (a boy and a girl), two adults roughly in the middle of their life cycles (perhaps the children’s parents), and one elderly man.

The young man gathered his resolve and approached the strangers with a wave and an awkward smile.

“Ho there…any idea where…um…this?” He waved his ticket stub at the family clumsily. They ignored the stub and smiled politely, waiting patiently.

Huh.

He paused, then waved his ticket at them again.

The adults’ grins seemed to have been drawn on their faces with smudged sharpie, and their eyes resembled those plastic googly things kids use for their arts and crafts projects, with pupils that bounced from side to side as he gesticulated.

Their children giggled.

Wealthy humans at the zoo.

He offered an exaggerated shoulder shrug and head shake, his ticket stub still in his hand, his mouth contorted into a grin, his eyes more weary than he’d care to admit.

The family watched silently, their faces frozen in a suspended state of hellish cheer.

What had he been hoping for? At least some glimmer of understanding, perhaps — some modest gesture indicating that a real connection between strangers was possible. Something human.

Quite suddenly and entirely simultaneously, the girl and the boy began speaking the language of children. A most giddy brand of eager gibberish — all piercing squeals and run on sentences. He understood none of it.

He looked sheepishly at the two mid-aged adults.

“I…heh. What?”

The mothers giggled.

The old man poked the young man’s shoulder with his cane and gruffly muttered something that elicited more chuckles from the middle aged women. The children were still talking over one another frenetically.

Apparently children these days don’t even run on oxygen anymore.

Then, abruptly and in complete unison, deathly silent the entire family fell once again, all of them still smiling broadly, their eyes wider than a human being’s eyes should ever be, all frozen and unblinking.

“Um. Yes, surely. Thank you.”

The young man tip-toed backwards slowly, opened his mouth hoping sensible words might find their way out, found that none would, and turned his back at last to the family, engrossing himself entirely in the act of walking away exactly as if none of it had ever happened.

Fuck the lobby.

It was becoming desperately apparent that the time had come to move on to greener pastures.

After all, the adventure had just begun!

Still, where else was there to go?

For no reason that he could immediately identify, a perverse little piece of unsolicited advice the young man had been victim to some time ago popped into his waking consciousness.

“Young man, when someone tells you which way is right, always turn left. Life stays interesting that way.”

All left turns. Why not. A novel idea.

Or at least, it was an idea. That had to count for something, the young man reasoned gingerly.

He moved to the leftmost side of lobby as quickly as he could without hurrying. More signs and adverts flashed and breathed all around him. Words that meant nothing. Nothing defined, nothing certain.

His mind pulsed.

The young man’s crisp white sneakers crunched noisily along the thick crimson lobby carpeting until he reached an oddly narrow alcove protruding from the western end of the lobby. It did not seem to be intended for the average Cinema patron, which suited the young man just fine.

He moved towards it with as much indifference as he could muster, trying desperately to ignore the perverse and unrelenting normality of the surrounding scene.

The young man walked through the alcove. Though he had no particular endgame in mind, his momentum carried him onward. He passed through all manner of unmarked doors and hallways, up various creaky staircases and around many corners, adhering as dutifully to his all-left-turns policy as he could without exerting himself.

After walking for an amount of time that felt in equal measure slowly lived and quickly passed, he came upon another narrow hallway a number of flights above the lobby of the Cinema. At the end of the hallway was a small wooden door that did not seem to match the decor of the rest of the Cinema at all. He inhaled slowly, and, finally, twisted the knob.

He found the knob to be a willing paramour, but the frame of the door seemed to be having second thoughts about the entire affair.

The young man, feeling rather insistent, pushed harder.

Slowly, bitterly, the door relented, and the sound it made when it did reminded the young man of what he imagined time might sound like if it were whining.

To no one in particular, the young man offered the shrug of a man that wants the whole world to know just how open to anything he really is.

He walked inside the room.


Seventh

I hope this story pisses you off.

I hope you hate me for it.

I hope when it ends you feel anxious, and empty, like nothing’s been resolved, and maybe nothing ever will be.

I hope it’s my fault.

Why? I’m not going to waste my time explaining why. I’m pretty sure I made that clear earlier.

Still, I must admit — I suppose I’m still not entirely sure why myself.

Alcohol is certainly a factor.

Self medication.

Why not?

When even your friends don’t seem to notice just how morbidly boring life can really get, sometimes you start to feel a little lonely, and then you start to think maybe you’re just getting bored of them too…so, beyond that cold, familiar sort of comfort one searches for at the bottom of a bottle, what else is left to keep you company then? And every good American knows that without company, one mustn’t be happy. And we’re all meant to be happy, are we not? What could be more American than that?

Then again, perhaps not.

Fine.

Well? What then? Go on, call me a mess, if benighted judgement is what you need to fill your days with to feel satisfied enough with your own uninspiring excuse for a life story to limp along with it for another few decades. It’s what you’re thinking anyway, isn’t it?

Or, better yet — maybe you’re telling yourself, it’s not that you’re judging me, it’s just that you’re…disappointed in my choices. I’ve got so much potential, and, well, gosh I’m just wasting it all, aren’t I. I never get tired of hearing that, I really don’t, and damn if I don’t I appreciate your concern.

Personally, I prefer to think of myself as tragic. It’s got a nice ring to it, don’t you think? And it’s as good a lie as anything else we tell ourselves, so why don’t we pretend my little sins at least make me interesting, if only in that unique way that all us losers are the same sort of interesting as one another.

Besides, as far as I can tell the only difference between a bum and a bohemian is reputation. A puffed out chest and cheap guerilla marketing. A life well framed by pictures we strategically share on the Internet to maximize our worth in the eyes of strangers.

Self medication is for the poor — the has-beens and never-weres; those faceless, familiar strangers you find in dimly lit dive bars all across New York City, trying with all their broken hearts to bond over a mutual thirst for some sort of affirmation from their fellow man. You catch the game? What a play! Coach is a bum though; you’d agree with me there, wouldn’t you? Tell me you agree, and I’ll laugh all night long in your shadow. How comforting it must be, the tribal nature of sports fandom, for those that ascribe to it.

The famous, by contrast — those that matter — why, they’re just lost souls wandering the world forever doomed to observe it for what it really is, tragically seeking an escape from what they can’t un-see, and valiantly taking it upon themselves to scream some life into the void of an apathetic universe for all of us that won’t.

For lo, Kurt, we hardly knew thee.

Well, fuck mattering, and fuck the universe. Maybe I am a mess, and maybe that does make me something at least a little bit different from the rest of them, even if it hurts. And maybe that even means something. I guess it means something to me. I guess that’s pretty sad, huh.

And if not?

Well, at least I’m still drunk.

And what exactly are you?


Eighth

The young man peered through the door. What he saw on the other side was a room too dimly lit and oddly shaped to assess it properly from where he stood.

What he could see were walls littered haphazardly with windows, all adorned by frames of chipped black paint, all pointing off at odd angles.

Salvador Dali on a bender, painting in all dimensions.

Touché, Mr. Carroll.

The young man stepped one crisp white sneaker at a time onto the sticky white tile floor.

The door swung shut behind him. His heart jumped at the sound, but his body played it cool.

…so smooth in his head….

The air inside the room felt off, almost humid. The room itself seemed to emit a barely visible hum, a soft din of light and color, and it seemed to be rising.

It was as if the air was whispering to him, but he couldn’t understand a word of what he was hearing.

What is that?

The young man rubbed his eyes. Having no other direction to speak of, he drifted aimlessly towards the nearest window and peered through.

The scene upon which he gazed with a poor man’s disinterest seemed distant, and out of focus. He tried to let his eyes adjust, but before they could, whispers from other worlds compelled him elsewhere, and he drifted towards another window.

What’s the rush?

Again he peered through a window into a world that was never meant for him to see.

Again he tried to make sense of something far away, and again he failed.

He tried another.

And so on.

What the young man was spying through all the little windows were the Cinema’s many theatres; each theatre boasted a somewhat tattered vertical screen painting of lights and sounds towering over a crowd of mesmerized voyeurs in a darkened hall.

All throughout the Cinema, different rooms, similar scenes; each theatre a shrine to its own fiction, all swirling with stimuli and seduction, whispers and shrieks, laughter and heartache, all rising and falling at the mercy of the tug of their own moon.

Residual lights and sounds from each theater were strobing through the little windows at disjointed intervals, all overlapping in one central nexus in an orgy of loosely-organized chaos in the strange little room upon which the young man had stumbled.

In this room, it felt as if the ghosts of a thousand different lives were all being lived on top of one another with no regard for each other.

If the young man focused, which by nature he was not often inclined to do, his ears could almost follow one distinct narrative at a time.

The urgent, throaty whispers of a French lover — betrayed, and broken.

The booming crashes that seemed to follow on the heels of some American action hero wherever he wanted to go.

The lethargic musings of a droll British detective.

All at once.

…qui sommes nous, mon amour…

The sounds seemed to be growing louder and more aggressive by the minute, the lights more jarring and disorienting. A mass of liquid confusion that had been boiling steadily for some time inside an eggshell deep in the pit of the young man’s stomach burst at last like a faulty dam, its toxic cocktail racing for his veins, discarded shards of its former shell leaving little paper cuts all throughout his insides.

Voices crept into his ears and lodged themselves deep inside his thoughts.

…cheap, disposable fear…

Here he was, surrounded by every film a patron could possibly pay to see — every emotion a man could buy for fifteen bucks a hit — and he understood none of it.

Just like you wanted.

The young man felt disoriented. He felt ill.

How long have I been here?

The windows were creaking now, and the young man observed with some horror that they were growing; their frames groaning as they stretched, chips of black paint falling like ash and sticking to the floor at the young man’s feet.

All around him a multisensory hurricane was swelling to fever pitch. Colored lights and dissonant but technically decipherable noise pranced and shrieked all around him, pouring in through the once little windows that now stretched from floor to ceiling.

The young man bent over, clutching his stomach. He stumbled forward clumsily towards what appeared to be a load-bearing column near the center of the room and leaned an arm against it in an attempt to regain his bearings.

Propped up by the support of the column, the young man made one last attempt to stand up straight, but the burden of so many other people’s fictions weighed him down. It felt like asphyxiation; the whole world felt full of air meant for other people to breath.

He slumped to the floor, his back against the column, and shut his eyes tight.

A German war film boomed overhead.

Will werden kämpfen, und dann werden wir sterben…

No…


Ninth

What are you doing here?

Such a lonely question. Even before you can answer it, you’ve already been assaulted by the ugly truth that someone believes that you do not belong.

And the fear that they’re right.

Well? What are you doing here?

Despite my attempts to push you away, to point out the almost comical futility of wasting your time dumping your own trite meaning onto such empty words as mine, still you read on. I suppose you won’t stop now.

Do you want to know how my story ends? Will it change your life? I fear that it won’t. I fear that it won’t change mine either. I suppose I fear that nothing will.

I suppose I fear the soul dies before the body goes…

Crushed, it expires, and leaks down the leg of your pantyhose…

What, then? Read on because you began reading? Live on because you were born? Dream on because, once upon a time, you were foolish enough to dream?

Fine.

I will finish writing my story, and you can finish reading it if that’s what you want. I can’t stop you. Add it to the long and apparently eternally growing list of supposedly little things in my life over which it seems I have no meaningful control.

As for those rare moments when the opportunity to exert meaningful influence over my own life might actually exist, I intend to seize them.

I suppose I fear it’s all I have.


Tenth

What are you doing here?

The thought rose like dank, warm air, hovering just above all the other voices careening around the young man’s head.

He tried to swat the thought away but it would not relent; it buzzed and darted and dipped, always just beyond the swipe of his hand, always returning to peck incessantly at the sides of his skull, searching for an orifice into which it could burrow.

What are you doing here?

Adventuring, as young men are often inclined to do?

Surely. Aimlessly wandering the world focused only on feeling free, and alive; maybe even getting into a little trouble in a place where no one else seems to remember how.

Something easy…something fun.

What else is there?

…comment sommes-nous devenus si perdu…

As it happened, the thought the young man was so hopelessly struggling to consider and from which he was so pitifully failing to hide was actually shared by a man that was a bit older than himself — perhaps in his early thirties — wearing what appeared to be a security guard’s outfit and shining what appeared to be a flashlight on what appeared to be a disheveled young man slumped on the floor against a pillar in the Cinema’s long since shuttered former security office.

The young man only realized that they were sharing this thought at the precise moment when the young man also realized that the Slightly Older Man was in the room, and that he was, in fact, speaking said thought aloud, which was right around the time when the young man’s eyes blinked open for the first time since slumping to the floor.

What are you doing here?

…Qui sommes nous…

The young man was mildly surprised to find that he had frozen completely. His jaw had locked, his eyes trapped in a cartoonish bulge. His breath, he held.

The Slightly Older Man looked around the room with his flashlight, then aimed the flashlight back at the young man.

“Que fais tu ici??”

“I…I don’t know…”

The Slightly Older Man took a few cautious steps forward, moving slowly and with great care.

His look was one of concern.

With each step he took, the Slightly Older Man’s height increased by the length of his stride, until he was just centimeters from and towering over the young man. His nose and mouth had mutated and fused into a reptilian beak made of warm, hardened flesh. His flashlight had grown proportionally with his body and fused with his right arm, and now a pale, inhuman light engulfed the young man in a blinding heat.

The young man was dripping with sweat.

The Slightly Older Man roared. He blinked, and the young man watched the security monster’s eyelids close in slow motion. When finally they parted once again, his pupils had turned crimson.

Before he could think, the young man, having evidently re-discovered an affinity for motion, pushed himself off the pillar he’d been slumped against and took off in a sort of clumsy running squat towards the door. The security monster was too surprised by this turn of events to fully block the exit, and the young man slipped through.


Eleventh

He ran.

Out the door.

Down the stairs.

Two, three steps at a time when he felt he could manage it.

“Hey! Je veux seulement aider!!”

He ran.

High above the man that took tickets.

Far apart from apathy of the woman in the box office.

Security to his back.

Ostensibly, he ran towards the lobby, back from whence he came.

Down, down towards the masses.

Where else was there to go?


Twelfth

Before his conscious mind could even become tangibly aware that only the edge of the heel of his shoe had touched the succeeding step rather than the firm center of his soul, his body experienced a primal terror.

Like a rancid smell that had wafted toward a couple deep in the midst of a heated argument, it stung his nose long before he could even begin to consciously process the source of the sting. He did not have time to know what he knew. The feeling simply was, and it was terror.

That rare sensation of gravity molesting the body at perverse and unfamiliar angles — a feeling that a living being can likely only experience but once. Satan’s demons reaching up from beneath the earth. Scaly, crimson, reptilian arms. Tiny, blood-soaked fingers with long pointed fingernails. They curled around patches of his clothing and skin, gripped tight, and pulled hard.

Down.

He fell.

As his body acquiesced to the wants of the pull of the earth, for one agonizingly slow-moving instant, his eyes became alive, and he saw himself.

Every kiss he had failed to reciprocate.

Every decision he had ever rejected.

Every consequence.

He passed himself.

And he fell.


Obituary

A young man — son of two loving parents, grandson of three surviving grandparents and a smattering of assorted cousins — passed away January 18, 2016. The young man was less than ten years removed from graduation from State University, at which time he was one of three recipients of a prestigious accommodation awarded to young aspiring creative writers of great promise upon completion of their requirements for commencement. The young man was found at his desk in his parents’ home, where he had been residing, with a half-consumed concoction of Gatorade mixed with rat poison by his side, slumped over an open 2009 edition MacBook Pro computer. Displayed on the computer, potentially in lieu of a suicide note, was a nearly completed short story, which centered around a young traveler visiting a foreign movie theater. His parents have called his death “incomprehensible,” and ask for privacy in their time of grief. Such a promising young man will surely be missed.