The Happy Song
I will tell you what you need to know. Nothing more, nothing less. All information obtained in our conversation is considered true. The name I have given myself is “Jack.” Never could stand my real name. I was born in a small town in northern Canada. The date, well, doesn’t really matter.
When I was a youngster in primary school I could never figure out why my classmates acted the way they did. I would hear the others talk about their favorite sports teams, games, and who liked who. I must say it was rather irksome to hear the inane chatter of “I hope the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup” or “Sonic The Hedgehog is such a badass game.” Or my personal favorite “Jenny has a crush on Mark” to which the retort would be “I’m sure he’d like that since all he wants to do is fuck her brains out.”
It was this that made me uncomfortable to be around people. I mean what do you say in situations like that? I guarantee you back then it would have come out like “Yeah…I…guess…so” followed by a shrug. That is why I preferred to observe people. To see what makes them tick. Maybe their actions would have an adverse effect on me and hopefully fit in and be normal. But it was so hard to mask my sadness. I just wanted to be happy. Don’t we all?
Over time my observations taught me to act like everyone else. I almost seemed normal but could never fill the emptiness inside of me. My whole social status was forced. But I know I’m not the only one. I believe everyone observes one another to become normal. Deep down inside everyone shares the same urges I have. To act on them, though, is what makes me superior. To take a person and pick apart his worst attributes while they’re wallowing in their own mediocrity is wonderful. But in the end it leaves me uncomfortable and filled with hate.
When I got my first, and only, car I began to travel extensively. To feel the miles melt under my tires and to bask in the sounds of John Coltrane crackle and pop on my AM radio. I never went to the cities. I would go to these isolated areas. Alone, to watch the water cascading against the rocks. I felt like a pioneer. Sometimes I would go to a small town, rent a room, and lie down on the bed. Occasionally I would watch TV but mostly it was silent, except for the sound of my own breathing.
On one of these trips I went to Wyoming. As if by some unseen hand, I found myself drawn towards a town called Lusk. It looked like your typical sleepy little town with a sprawling landscape encapsulating a few stores and cottages. One dreary after noon I met a man who, unbeknownst to me, would change my life.
His name was…well…not important. He, like me, was a fellow traveler. I found him standing outside the motel parking lot I was staying at. He was wearing a green hooded sweatshirt and jeans. A sinister smile was on his face. Seeing me walk by him in the corner of his eyes he said “It sure is something isn’t it?” I stopped, turned around and said “What is?” He took his index finger and pointed towards the road. Upon closer inspection it turned out he was staring at a dead cat. It had been run over and was swarming with flies. “One minute you’re God’s gift” the gentleman said, “the next you’re food for the maggots.” I was a bit taken back by that statement so I muttered out a simple “yeah.” He was honest. We ended up striking up a conversation. He spoke of things that appealed to me. I ended up purchasing the video he was selling.
“What video” you say? It was a VHS tape in a hard black case. There was no label. He said “This video has the knowledge to lead mankind down the correct path.” I asked how it was possible. “These are ancient materials updated to modern media and edited for human consumption” he said. I was perplexed but yet intrigued by his answer. Much of what he said was in riddles and symbolism.
Excitedly, I went back to Canada. During my trip back I kept replaying our conversation in the back of my mind. Beads of sweat formed on my brow from thinking about our talk and the contents of the mysterious video. By the time I got back home it was almost midnight. The moon in the sky looked as if it was being gently caressed by the clouds. I grabbed the videotape and rushed into my house, slamming the door behind me. I flipped on the lights and went into the living room.
I walked over to the TV and turned it on. Pressing the eject button on the VCR I took out the tape labeled “Futurama Episodes.” It’s my favorite show. Fumbling, I put in the new tape, sat on the couch, and pressed the play button on my remote. I was so excited. Like a kid at Christmas time.
A black and white image, like a test pattern, appeared on the screen. It read “333–333–333, We Present A Special Presentation.” A low, ominous tone played during the title screen and on through the next screen. It was black with white text that read “Why Do You Hate?” Then all of a sudden a face appeared. It was smiling but pixilated. Then a screen of nine or so disembodied computer generated heads appeared than suddenly disappeared with two consecutive black with white text screens that read “You Are Ill” and “We Want To Fix You.” Then it ended.
The video was less than minute long. It did not look incredibly complex, just bizarre. I rewound the tape and watched it again to see if I missed anything. Then I rewound it and watched it again, and again, and again. I watched the video at least once a day since then. Visually nothing changed but the tune from the video began to get stuck in my head. To me it was a happy song. To you it would be eerie.
The more I watched the video, the more my confidence would grow. I felt like I could really be somebody. So I started to write short stories. Oh I would scribble and scratch on paper. With every pen stroke piercing the notebook I would feel joi de vivre. My defining masterpiece was called “The Masks We Wear.”
I began to use the internet to spread my stories. Going under different websites, using different personas. All in the attempt to be noticed. Unfortunately my tomes were met with indifference. They dared to call my works “average.” I would feel white hot tears whelp up in my eyes. It hurt. My way of interacting with the world ended up with my face being virtually smacked. The happy tune was being drowned out by the sounds of coarse gravel being rubbed together. It…hurt. These people, high up in their ivory towers, failed to see my uniqueness. To them I was blinded by social ignorance. I quit writing for good.
One day as I was working I saw things crystal clear. The video and the happy song which pulsated from its grey atmosphere had unwrapped the enigma of me. I wasn’t “ill”, it was they. I had to fix them. I would take them into my little tool shed. It was filled with objects. Some sharp, some blunt. I would make them suffer. I would make them hurt. The number 3 is called the cube in math. I would hum the happy song when I went cubing. My new hobby is the most righteous.
I took my new found hobby to the internet. For the longest time my computer was quiet. its blank screen staring catatonic into space. I soon had a community of others who liked cubing. We would post messages on our forum about our tools of choice, the best clothing to go cubing in, etc. Some preferred using hammers and screwdrivers while wearing leather (because it muffles yet sensitizes the texture). I preferred using advanced tools and casual clothes (because no one ever expects it and it ends up being funnier when the guy in the Homer Simpson shirt cubes somebody).
Things were going over smoothly at the forum until we got some brash members who would post pictures and videos of their cubing accomplishments. I told them “this is not a spectator sport” and “you will be banned if you post things like this again.” Members would also post black and gay jokes and irritate each other through flame wars. I sent out a simple post that read “Narrow-mindedness should not exist in a group like this.” Being a leader of a community you’re constantly surveying or revising.
At one point I had devised a plan for a yearly get together I called CubeCon. Made up of the cubists on the forum. But it had to be cancelled because one of the posters started to have second thoughts. He eventually bailed out which didn’t set well with three of the forum members. These three idiots threatened him and his family. So what does the guy do? He goes to the fucking police. A huge investigation is launched and the forum was shut down. It eventually opened back up because the police thought that the forum was a place where inner member threats were commonplace. To them we were nothing but a gang of internet trolls playing a practical joke.
New rules were put into place. My iron fist swung down with a roaring crash. No room for errors this time. With some old members gone a few new ones took their place. There was one who would end up catching my attention. For you see he had been in contact with the muse and knew the happy song as well.
On this particular muggy September evening, I logged onto the forum. I saw a thread entitled “We Present Video #1” by a newly approved user I shall call “Wilson.” With a click of the mouse I opened the page. The thread read “Look At This” and had a link to another site. I clicked the link to the new page that redirected me to a media file. I pressed the play button and I immediately became dry mouthed. It was my video, although not entirely the same. It had the same 333–333–333 test pattern title card and the same happy song but the text this time read “What Hides In Your Mind?” Then all of a sudden the screen changed to a gargoylesque rotating head then a close up of a pair of eyes. Again all computer generated. The ending title card read “We Have Already Seen It.”
You could have cut the tension in my room with a knife. The palms of my hands grew clammy as I typed a private message to Wilson asking him where he got the video. A few hours later I got his reply which reads as follows.
“I was on a hunting trip in Wyoming. The next morning I was approached by a man in the parking lot of the motel I was staying at. We were talking about various things and the subject of paranoia came up. He spoke of how paranoia helps guide society down the path that his people believe is best. The video he was selling was considered by him to be a sacred artifact in our world. So I bought it, uploaded it to the web and thought I would share it with my fellow cubists”
I sat there with my jaw agape with the glare of the computer monitor illuminating the darkened room. “What is going on?” I pondered aloud.’ “How did he get a different copy?” My video was special to me because I thought it was one-of-a-kind. Something for my eyes only. Through another private message I asked Wilson where he lived and that I needed to talk to him in person. “I have a video myself that I bought in Wyoming” I told him. He wanted proof so I sent him a copy in an e-mail. “110 White Oak Road. Lebanon, Indiana. One week from today” was his reply.
I went about the rest of the week like nothing had happened. My job as a landscaper keeps me busy year round. The sharp blades of my lawnmower had been replaced with a chainsaw for the coming winter. All the while I’d work and hum the happy song.
The day finally came and I was Indiana bound. Tooling down the highway I saw the leaves in the trees changing color. People were out fishing and there were parked trucks along side the highway. Presumably they were deer hunters. I stopped in several roadside diners for refills on coffee and to get gas. I had gotten lost along the way and stopped at this all-night eatery to get directions. The people there put me back on the right path. Too bad the coffee had the sting of the 48 hour blend.
About twenty some odd hours later I finally arrived at Wilson’s house. It was modest looking with a gravel driveway. I walked up and knocked on his door. After what felt like an eternity the door opened and there he stood. Wilson was a rather large fellow which made me second guess my being there. He was about six foot three and in the neighborhood of 300 lbs. He had a thick beard and wore a flannel shirt and jeans with boots. Through his grizzled veneer in an instant flashed a warm smile as he said “You must be Jack.” I felt an overwhelming sense of relief and said “Yes, I am.” “Well come in, come in,” said Wilson. I obliged.
Walking into his abode I saw a few deer heads that adorned his walls. I saw a red couch with a “Colts” blanket draping it. The rest of the living room was pretty typical. “You want a beer Jack?” he asked. I’m not really a drinker but I said “Sure, thanks.” My host returned with two mugs. Both were frothy with the liqueur. “Hmmm…nothing out of the ordinary here,” I thought. We both took generous gulps.
As I was about to make small talk Wilson said “Did you bring the tape?” I nodded, went to my car to retrieve it, and then came back inside. We sat there and watched both videos. After the last video ended I turned to Wilson who was lost in contemplation. Lifting his head up he told me “We’ve got to find out if anyone else has one of these videos.” I asked “Has any of the other cubists gotten in contact with you about the videos?” He said no. Wilson then stood up and walked towards the kitchen. He paused and said “I think we should discuss this more after we get something to eat.” “Ah now that sounds like a plan” I said jokingly. Wilson laughed and said “Follow me, I’m thinking pork chops.”
After about thirty minutes of bustling around dinner was complete. I was famished. We had a spread of corn, salad, and of course the pork chops. The salty aroma of the pork made me drool. Picking up a fork, Wilson started to devour the salad. The chewing sounds mirrored my own. I started to hum the happy song. Not out loud of course. Neither of us said a word as we ate. In a span of ten minutes, we finished.
Wilson rocked back in his chair. “Ahhh, now that hit the spot” said Wilson as he patted his big belly. I started to chuckle “A man like you probably hits the spot often and every time”, I thought to myself. Then from out of nowhere, Wilson slumped over the table. His head made a loud plop sound as his face went into the salad bowl. I went over to check his pulse. There wasn’t any. I got up from my chair and went into the living room. I grabbed his tape and left. All the while I was humming the happy song. Putting the keys into the ignition I thought “Nothing screams SURPRISE more than when you put aconite into a friend’s salad.” Now I had both videos, I am unique again.
More uneventful-ness transpired once I got back home. I and one of the moderators started to plan a new CubeCon. I asked for forum members to give me their information so I could send out the invitations. After some time I picked the location. It was to be held in Knoxville, Tennessee. We were going to go to a shopping mall, an amusement park, and finally to this supposed haunted house. Our community seemed tighter than ever. You could almost say we were clones of each other. I realized that. I did something about it. “Due to technical difficulties the boards will be temporarily shut down.” I posted on the forum.
Thankfully, due to trust, I found my fellow cubists. One by one I would erase their names from existence. The happy song was playing so loud it would have filled an ampitheater. Once I had finished, the song hit its creshendo than subsided until there was nothing let but silence.
I hit a relaxation period of two years. No cubing. No desire to do so. Surfing around on the internet I went to one of my favorite websites. There were some new videos posted. I clicked the link. It was my video….AGAIN! This time there were four different ones. Each one with different text! Each one with different heads! Bring it to a total six if you include the two I had. My happy song was no longer mine! It was everybody’s! It seems that I got to be “it” for a while. Now I’m gone.