Leon

Leon sat on the porch as the sun set behind the red silhouetted hills off in the horizon. As it went down the sun turned the sky into a deep purple with streaks of orange drizzled throughout. The sun itself had shifted into a deep red hue, a red that reminded Leon of the flags he once raised over vanquished enemies. Even though the shadows of the mountains had swallowed the whole front of the compound, Leon could still see the shadows of his bodyguards patrolling the entrance, their rifles almost making it look like they were carrying crucifixes on their backs.

It had been years since Leon was forced to flee his homeland, and though he was gracious to his hosts and happy to be alive, he just never could get used to the climate. The desserts of Mexico were vastly different from the muddy winters and bright springs of home. Leon was glad to have found refuge in Mexico, but he always missed home.

Leon did find the sunsets in Mexico more beautiful though. They gave him something beautiful to look up at when he wanted to take a break from his notebooks and studies. Leon was a man of the pen, a day he did not write a letter, an article, or a chapter in his next book was always a bad day.

Today was shaping up to be a bad day, nothing could get him to work on his book, not even the strong coffee that his local comrades had gifted to him. Leon was not able to write anything that day, until he came out to the porch to watch the sunset. For some reason, the deep red sun shading the sky had inspired him, and he took advantage of the withering daylight to fill his notebook as much as possible.

After the last bit of sunlight had been swallowed into darkness, Leon grabbed his books and notes and moved inside into his study. He sat at his desk and tried to continue with his writing, but he was drained out. For some reason now that he was away from the sunset he could not think about his text, he could only think of the sunsets back home.

He was lost in his pondering when he was then jolted by a knock on the door. Leon got up to answer it an on the other end of the door was one of Leon’s guards and a young comrade, Franc. Franc was young and Leon admired the energy of young comrades like him. He had been to the compound several times before with articles for Leon to read and had earned a degree of respect for his candor from Leon’s other comrades.

“Mr. Franc calling on you, comrade.” Said the guard.

“Send him in send him in.” Said Leon, gesturing for the young man to come in, closing the door and leaving his guard in the hall to stand watch as he did every night.

“No doubt you have an article for me to look at Comrade Jacson?” Said Leon as he returned to his desk.

“Yes Comrade.” Franc said pulling a stack of papers from out of a whicker brief case. “I wrote about the syndicalists, and contextualize what happened to them in the wake of this new world war.”

“Ah yes, so many of our enemies are all at war at once and all with each other!” Leon gave a chuckle looking at the papers handed to him as he sat down.

Leon shuffled through the pages to count them quickly before he began to read.

Suddenly Leon felt like a thousand nails had been driven into his forehead. He felt the crack of his skull and the surge of torture that came flowing through his entire body from the corner of his shattered temple.

Leon looked up from the papers to see that Franc had struck him. He struck him with something both sharp and blunt at the same time somehow. As Leon screamed in pain Franc delivered another blow, adding a stabbing pain to the torturous throbbing and shattered bone that was now torturing Leon.

Franc raised his weapon for a third blow, but was stopped as Leon sprang up and grabbed France by his arm and laying a firm grasp on his weapon.

Leon screamed, “You traitor! You scum! Murderer! Help! Help!” The two danced around the room, their shoes scuffing the wood of the floors as each one dug their heals in to try and over power the other. Leon might have been older than Franc, but one does not run an entire army without learning hand to hand combat, “And be damned this Stalinist traitor!” Thought Leon as he struggled to overpower Franc, “I will not bow down to anyone without a fight!”

Leon continued to scream for help as blood from his wound pooled over his eye and lips and dripped into his long beard. The guard from outside burst in, they grabbed Franc and pulled him back, forcing him to drop his weapon. The guard blew his whistle and with in seconds the room was flooded with Leons guards, others went to handle Franc while two sought medical attention for Leon who had collapsed into a guards arms after Franc had been subdued.

The guards beat Franc senseless until he was a pile of mush on the floor, but they did beat him just short of beating him to death. They wanted the man alive for his trial.

Leon was rushed to the hospital. Blood dribbling from the top of his head and through his hands as he tried to use what little strength he had left to put pressure on the wound. Some of the blood on in his beard was beginning to dry and congeal.

By the time the doctors got to him Leon was a weak husk of himself. They managed to bandage the wound but the doctors saw little else that could be done.

At the hospital Leon lingered in and out of consciousness. He’d awake from the pain, then he would collapse into unconsciousness from the pain. The blood had been cleaned from his eye and beard, but Leon could feel more of it seep into his bandages as he lied in bed. All time was lost to the pain, Leon did not know if he had been their for hours or for days.

After what felt like days of torture Leo woke once more, he could see that the sun was setting through a nearby window, just before he closed his eyes for the last time.

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Underground Radio

In 2118 all music had been made illegal 30 years ago by the Administration. The Administration had decreed “Music promotes diversity. Diversity is the enemy. One nation, one race, one people.”

When the Administration made the law it did everything it could to purge the country of anything related to music. Wood instruments like guitars, violins and cellos were burned in massive public fires. Wind instruments that were metal like Trumpets got smelted into new guns and bullets for the police and the army. Record stores were burned down and every iPod and mp3 player was smashed. Conductors were dragged from their beds and shot. Music teachers were sent to either dig ditches or prison, they at least got a choice.

Because there was no music all other self expression was practically non existent, but the Administration always made it clear that self expression itself was not banned, just music. However one could not tell that self expression was still allowed because everyone practically dressed the same. A pair of slacks and a t-shirt. That was what everyone wore, no dresses skirts shorts, not even swim suits when they went to the beach. Slacks and a t-shirt. The one avenue of self expression was that you got to choose what color of shirt you wanted. Some people choose red, others yellow, some had just given up on that and just wore brown to match the slacks.

The only people who got to dress differently were the police, military, and members of the Administration. The first two wore standard uniforms, but the administration was different, they all wore suits. The men in the administration wore top of the line hand tailored suits. The women wore pant suits of the same quality. No one in the administration ever dared wear anything but their nice suits(they would never be caught dead dressing like a civilian).

But still, the Administration stuck to its motto: ‘One Nation, One race, One people.”

The tailors all worked for the Administration making their suits, but even they were only allowed to dress as civilians. Dave’s father was a tailor, and he lived with his dad across the street from the shop. Dave would watch people file in and out of the store in their jackets and ties and Dave would hate them, and he hated them when he had to work in the shop.

Dave’s father used to play in a punk band. Dave never heard punk music, or any music, but everything about it sounded wonderful. His father told him the stories of the songs they would play, about the concerts and these things called “mosh pits” He heard stories about wild hair cuts dyed all sorts of colors, about people who were so into this scene they would get holes punctured in their face in order to put pieces of jewelry into their lips, eyebrows, and even their tongues. Dave was lucky to have a father who remembered what life was like before the Administration banned music. Very lucky.

On Dave’s 19th birthday, his father said he had a present for him, but they would have to go out of the house to get it.

“Dad,” Dave said worried, “You know that the Administration moved the curfew time up to 10pm right? Anyone caught outside their house without military clearance is immediately…”

“Shot.” Dave’s father finished for him. “Yes I know, that’s why I have been waiting to tell you.” His father took a deep breath and sighed. “David,” His father began, “You are an adult now. When you were a boy, I was always worried. Worried that something may happen to me and then that would mean something happened to you. I would never be able to live with myself if I lost you the way I lost…”

Dave knew he was talking about his mom, and he also knew his dad did not like talking about it, so Dave just nodded to show he understood, and his father moved on.

“It’s why I became a tailor for the Administration. I had to distance myself from that past I always told you about. But now that you are old enough, old enough to protect yourself, it’s time that I share this with you.”

“What?” Dave asked.

“Just wait son,” his father replied. “And happy birthday.”

When it was 9:30, Dave’s father told him that it was time to go. “Go where?” Dave asked. His father told him nothing except that they needed to hurry.

They went out the back door of the house through the alley to avoid being seen by the street cameras. The Administration had cameras everywhere but the alleys for some reason, so that was where the underhanded did their dealings. Dave’s father took him on what felt like a maze of concrete and trash, zigzagging all the way across the city. They turned a corner went one way, then turned a corner to do the opposite, until finally they hit a dead end.

The dead end was just a giant brick wall with a pile of trash underneath a large arch by the wall. Dave was confused when his dad told him to be quiet, and then his father kicked the pile of trash three times. The bags of trash and stack of wooden debris sounded hollow when he hit them with his foot. Dave moved back with a jolt when the pile started to rise revealing it had been on top of a door. The door popped up like a garage door to reveal a long set of concrete stairs that appeared to lead to the cellar of this black building they were by, but as the stairway disappeared into the darkness it seemed like the steps went on forever.

“Come on” his father said, pulling out a flashlight from his pocket.

They walked down the stairs and into the darkness with the spot of light to guide them. As the went down the stairs Dave could hear the trash door close behind them with a thud that echoes in whatever cellar they were in. The echo was large though, too large for just one cellar. When they got to the bottom of the stars they had reached a corridor of a tunnel, a long brick tube that stretched in either direction for miles. David and his father started walking down the tunnel and as they did the echoes of their feet began to be drowned out by other noises, noises that Dave had never heard before.

As they walked to the noise it had gotten louder. Dave could not tell what it was but it was a sound that intrigued him rather than terrified him. It was rhythmic and fast, and the closer they got the more they could hear voices along with the pacing rhyme.

Eventually Dave could hear what it was, his father was already singing along, Dave had never heard singing before.

“Neat, Neat, Neat.”

Then more of the rhythmic interlude. Then the voices again “Neat! Neat! Neat!”

“Neat! Neat! Neat!” Then with a sudden burst of sound then it had ended. “The Damned,” was all his father said to David. Before Dave could ask him what that meant suddenly another one started, again with his father singing along at first.

“I want to be classified, I want to be stereotyped!” Rang out from a distance, and it grew louder and louder with each step.

Dave could not help but bob his head along with his father, not knowing what he was doing or what he was listening to, but he knew that the more he could hear it the more he liked it, and he was hearing it clearer with every step.

“I want a… SUBURBAN HOME! SUBURBAN HOME! SUBURBAN HOME!”

The noises grew louder until finally they reached a metal door on the left side of the tunnel. The noises that they were enjoying seemed to come from this one room. Dave’s father knocked on it the same way that he had the garbage door, three times with his foot, and the door opened, but the door was opened by a person with blue hair that looked like spikes and a piece of metal sticking through their eyebrow, exactly as Dave’s dad had described to him.

The song was peaking and coming to it’s conclusion as Dave and his father entered the room, which was filled with people dressed like they were from the stories he had grown up with. The sounds were coming out of this little wooden box with a dial and speakers on it. Dave’s father told him that it was a radio and what they were listening to was Punk rock. The musicians that had just been playing were called the Descendants, according to Dave’s father, and there were plenty more songs to be played.

Dave’s father went around introducing his son to the people, some of them were people Dave recognized, even though they were wearing things that had long been banned. Torn jeans, military shorts, thick boots, and piercings and hairstyles that were impossible to imagine on the Administration’s surface world. Yet it didn’t prevent Dave from recognizing Mary who ran the corner grocery store by their tailor shop, or Phil, who even though he had a ring in his nose could still be placed as the physics teacher from the high school.

After Dave’s father had properly shown him around he told him that the box with the speakers was a radio, an antique from sometime in the 20th century. “What they used to do is have things called radio stations, and they would play songs. The stations would then transmit these songs through the air, and these radio things would pick up the signals and play the songs the station was playing.”

Dave then learned that this was what they were doing, listening to radio, and they were listening to the punk rock radio station, being run out of a different spot underground just like this one. “There are lots of us David.” His father told him, “and not just Punk Rockers either. There is an underground Hip Hop radio station, a Classical radio station, a show-tunes station!” Dave didn’t know what any of those things were, but he was just glad to finally experience Punk Rock because it was everything as his dad had described. Fast paced, energetic, and full of the most expressive people you could ever see.

The station had begun to play a different band and song, and on a loop the radio was screaming ‘I fought the law and the… LAW WON. I fought the law and the… LAW WON!”

The night had been the greatest birthday present Dave could receive, and he was even more thrilled when he found out they would be going back every night. “The administration can ban music,” his father told him when they returned home. “But they will never stop it.”

Each night for the next six weeks Dave was brought to the underground listening station where they rocked out and mingled with like minded punk rockers. For one night at a time people would shed their civilian dress and put on clothes from a bin in the corner which held jeans of all sizes, black t-shirts with holes and giant A’s on them in a circle. There were also studded belts and shoes. Some people took this chance to dress up, others just came for the music. Dave just came for the music.

One night the station was playing a female lead punk band called Bikini Kill. Dave was enjoying the gritty vocals and rapid guitars, but he could not help but notice his dad was not himself that night. Normally his dad was very sociable at the Underground. He would usually be off in the corner chatting with some of the civilians he recognized from their neighborhood. Tonight though he was sort of slow, down and moping. He just shuffled around nodding at people when they said hello and looked at his feet.

Dave went up to him. “Dad,” he said. “What’s wrong?”

He looked up at his son. He did not say anything at firs. At first he just put a hand on the back of his son’s head. Then finally with wide watery eyes he said, “This really does mean you’re grown up. I kept you from this because this, all of this…” he trailed off as he looked around at the people moshing or the neighbors shedding their t-shirts in exchange for their chains and studs. Then Dave’s father gave a deep sigh. “You know how big of a risk this all is right?”

Dave was about to say yes but then, almost as if on queue, there was giant explosion somewhere that shook the entire Underground. The radio was almost knocked off its stand, but was saved as the people nearby it caught themselves on it to keep from falling when the shock wave came. The bricks and mortar all around them danced. Still the music was playing, but something was wrong and everyone knew it.

The fast paced drums on the radio playing were being drowned out by different thudding rhythm. “One two One two.” That was coming from the hall and echoing throughout the tunnel.

They grew louder and louder as if there were more of them coming with each beat. Everyone seemed to realize what was coming all at once. They were trapped, the only way into the room was the only way out, and everyone knew what that beat in the hallway was. It was the rhythm that can only come from boots marching. It was the Administration’s army, and they were closing in on them.

Suddenly the steps all came to a stop at once. Within the next second the metal door was hit with a different rhythm. “BANG!” A beat, then “BANG!” Another beat. Then with the third “BANG!” the battering ram had shoved the door in, and the troopers began to swarm. They flank left right and center as they entered the doorway to keep anyone from getting away. They filled the room from corner to corner. Even when they had the whole room flanked, they kept pouring in, and soon enough the beatings started.

With the thuds of rifles came the the screams of everyone begging for mercy. ( Pleading that they would come peacefully.) Some got the butts of riffles plowed into there stomach or smacked across their noses. Skulls were cracked under the weights of a soldier’s boots as some people fell. Others were lucky enough to hit their head on the brick floor before getting away. The luckiest were the ones who took a bullet to the brain when some of the soldiers opened fire.

Dave and his father were near one of the flanked corners and each grabbed the butts of rifles as soldiers took swings at them. Dave’s father used the moment to butt his head into the guard’s while swiftly kicking him in the crotch. That soldier went down just before three shots from the other side of the room cut into Dave’s father. One of them made it all the way through his chest and ended up cutting Dave in the back of the leg, sending him to the ground.

“Dad!” Dave screamed back.

But his father said nothing, he just lied there bleeding out.

The song kept playing amidst the gun fire and the screams. Dave just lay there on the ground as bullets whizzed over his head. He tried dragging himself closer to his father only to be blocked by the body of Joan from the pharmacy when she collapsed thanks to the bullet now in her brain.

Dave just lay there, trying to make the most of his impeded view of his father. Trying to think of some way out of here. But the pain in his leg was too great, and for some reason the darkness was growing around him. He couldn’t keep his eyes open much longer.

The darkness was growing around Dave as the song kept playing. The music didn’t stop until one of the soldiers finally kicked over the radio and smashed it.

When the music stopped was finally when Dave let the darkness consume him.

Trash of the Gods.  Chapter 6. Junior Year, a chunk of life in 300 words or less.

Junior year I didn’t see much of Robert, I still hung out with Steve and the guys but Robert was rarely around, he had some girl friend junior year, Vicky, and he still had the heroine.
I still didn’t know about the heroine yet, but every time I did see Robert, his arms and legs were bruised. I would later realize these were track marks. Either I was in denial or really ignorant of the reality of the situation, or maybe I was too fucked up, in any case I just had no idea Robert really needed help.
 Some of the time, on days we’d actually see him, he’d be light hearted and warm, and I just thought he was super stoned.  
On other days he would just be out right vicious. It was as if he had to either fight someone or break something, he just lashed out at everyone like he had to destroy for the sake of destroying.
And he started to bully his friends, especially me.
That would be his days going through withdrawal.
And while all that went on; 
I was high and drunk most of the year.
I almost failed physics.
I got into a fight with a fat racist kid who was obsessed with Glenn Beck.
I almost dated a blonde republican girl who tried to get me clean. I didn’t get clean. She went back to her boyfriend. He looked very smug at me as he walked to her car one day.
That’s all I can remember from junior year.

 

Trash of the Gods : Chapter 1, The Painting

I originally met Robert in the sixth grade. Not even twelve and he was an orphan living with his Aunt. I didn’t know this about him for the first two weeks I knew him, I only found out about it when I told him a yo’mama joke and he punched me as hard as he could in the stomach.
I apologized, of course, when he told me his parents were dead from heroin overdoses and the matter blew over in a few minutes, but I’ll never forget the anger in Robert’s eyes that day, and the bizarre joker like laughter he had not two seconds after the fact as he pointed and laughed at my cringing from the gut.
I don’t think he was ever really mad I made a joke about his dead mom, I think he was mad that I exposed his soft spot. Robert was very kind and giving person, but he viewed the world as a prisoner does, one instance of softness and they’ll all be out to get you. That was Robert’s way of thinking. Because he never grew up with a mother, she had died far away, caring more about heroin than her own son. In a way Robert was probably more like his parent’s than he ever knew in the end.
Robert and I were sort of meant to be friends. Out of a sixth grade class of 60 from a Bukoskieaque Middle School, Robert and I were the only ones who actually seemed to like reading and learning. Neither one of us like our teachers or our school, but the one thing that kept us interested in school was the reading. The only problem was that Robert hated the books the school offered for our required reading, I thought they were okay but Robert pointed out to me how they were patronizing and low brow and stupid, how we were capable of reading better. I took refuge in our school’s supply of Agatha Christie’s and indulged on Hercule poroit, my dad watched those shows, and I wanted to be like my dad.  
Robert’s obsessions by age 12 were Brave New World and 1984, both of which I had never heard of yet nor would I read them until much later in life. That’s why I started hanging out with Robert, he was always so much farther ahead of the curve than I was, and all I ever wanted to do was just catch up with him.
It wasn’t long after middle school that Robert introduced me to pot and LSD. Ever the Huxley fan, “The doors of perception have been opened to you” he said the morning I woke up and came to school with my first acid hangover. He then flicked me in my third eye and walked to class as I rubbed my forehead, annoyed with him yet again.
I was only fourteen at the time, and I had developed a new obsession. My identity became marijuana and drugs I thought it made me a badass. Unbeknownst to me Robert had already tried cocaine and had a frequent supplier, our pot dealer Andy.
Andy was a fat piece of shit. The 26 year old guy with an ugly goatee that your mother warns you about. The 26 year old man who makes his living by selling weed to teenagers. The 26 year old addict who is so desperate for customers and company he gives a free supply of heroin to a teenager.
 Yet like a blind fool, I had no idea what was really going on, or if I did I pretended not to. I was so wasted most of the time it’s hard to remember what I felt and when sometimes.
Andy was the leading pot dealer to the druggie crew that hung out by the strip mall outside of school. This place became a hot bed for creepy drug dealers and malicious perverts harassing teenagers, and Robert and I were among the customers to frequent the place constantly. For most of the school it was just a place to score drugs then bounce, for the drug people like us, it was the place where you hung out.
Before long the place was a cop magnet, and everyday my friends and I found ourselves on the other side of the law.
One day the heat was on heavy, so Robert said, “My aunt’s not home lets go to my house.”  
I was a little surprised to realize that despite how long I had known Robert I’d never actually been to his house. I met his Aunt before, but for some reason Robert’s house was never our base of operations.
We got to Robert’s house, Robert and I with our friends Steve and Sam. Steve was sort of a living rally point. Everyone in the group had some kind of connection to Steve. He was that guy who might not be friends with everyone, but he was definitely cool with everyone. He wasn’t the most brilliant guy in the world either, a sort of simple mix of skater, punk, and metalhead. Don’t get me wrong he wasn’t stupid, just, simple.
Sam was kind of the opposite. No one outside of the strip mall drug circle really knew or cared who he was. He was the Ben Affleck in our Dazed and Confused, our Super Senior. He was the guy who could buy us pipes, papers, and cigarettes before anyone else. He always hung out with Steve, even when Steve got tired of Sam. 
 Sam clung to Steve like a helpless stray dog. Despite Sam’s extensive arrest record and dangerous profile, looking back on it I can’t help but feel that’s all he ever got to be in this life, a stray dog no one in his family or school wanted. But still, Steve welcomed him, that was just the sort of guy he was.
I had always known Robert’s house was within walking distance, but until now I had never thought it unusual that I hadn’t been there yet, despite how long we had been friends. When we got to the door, he unlocked to what seemed like the gateway to an episode of Hoarder’s decorated by a midwestern housewife. The shelves were clogged with figurines and grandma knick knacks. A TV hung in the middle of the room facing a box-crowded couch. Robert guided us around the corner to a room with a silk blue cloth drape hanging instead of a door.
Aside from the minimal privacy, Robert had a cool room. Tool, Fight Club, and Dr. Hunter S Thompson decorated the room. A copy of House of Leaves sat on his desk, opened and lying face down at the half way point of the novel. A couch faced his long desk complete with a TV and speakers. Despite everything clearly being taken from a thrift store or just picked up off the street, one had to admit it was a pretty awesome haven for a stoner.  
Robert grabbed a bottle of Jack, something that was always in supply on his desk, and had us pass it around as he packed his weed into Steve’s pipe. He passed it to Steve who started the bowl and started passing it along with the Jack. Robert put some Tom Waits on the speakers, and our tedious teenage conversations carried on. Steve and Robert would vent about their on again off again girlfriends, and Sam would offer advice as if it was solicited.  
I usually kept quite during these coversations, I was a virgin at this time. That was something I always tried to learn from Robert, he had none of the problems with women I had at the time, by the time I had slept with one girl, he had slept with twenty. Anytime I met a girl in the school I liked, Robert had no problem reminding me that I would be having his sloppy seconds. Needless to say, sex was an uncomfortable subject at the time.
As Steve was packing another bowl, Robert clapped his hands and gave a loud “Oh Shit!” and a smile as he looked at us wide eyed through his shaggy deep copper hair that was over its usual shave off. The sudden loud noise gave us a short instance of stunned paranoia that only stoners will understand. That half a second panic attack that stops your heart, then restarts it gently as you slowly exhale.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Now that you guys are here, I want to show you guys something.” Robert said as he stood up and walked over to the corner by his closet. He picked up a canvas that had been facing the wall and turned it to face us.
“Damn,” said Steve

“Oh Shit dude,” added Sam. That was all Steve and Sam could think of to say.
I was awestruck, I had seen Robert’s sketch books and doodles in class since middle school, but I had never seen him show me anything like this.
What Robert showed us almost didn’t even seem like a painting, but a photograph illuminated with psychedelic hues. Imagine seeing into your own soul, only to find strands of your DNA and it’s double helixes in a massive pool, so you look into a single helix, to see into your own make up, only to find space, and a dark blue cloud just floating in the corner. That is what I saw that day, a psychedelic portrait of the insides of our own construction, fixed with a dark blue cloud hanging in some distant horizon within.
“Rob,” I said trying to rack my stoned brain for something eloquent and complimentary to say. “That’s beautiful.”
He chuckled at my use of such flowery language and just said, “Thanks man.” Robert knew I had a tendency for such affectionate language, but Robert was not one to show such sentiment, he found it “gay.” Of course I think it was really because it was trying to protect himself from getting hurt again.
Steve and Sam took advantage of the opportunity and riffed me without mercy. I just shrugged and ignored them. “I have to remember to stop being so emotional around the guys,” I told myself.
Still though, I could tell Robert was pleased by the reaction he got out of me, he never stopped smiling whenever I talked to him the rest of the afternoon about my status on reading his copy of House of Leaves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 

TRASH of The GODS : Preface

The obituary didn’t mention that he was drunk, riding his bike down the wrong side of the street, when the SUV knocked him to the concrete. Robert was killed instantly and pronounced dead on the scene.
Robert had issues, to say the least. I think he wasn’t even 17 when he tried heroin for the first time. I always forget when his birthday actually was. All I know is he went from being my best friend, to a distant memory, to now, just gone, nothing. That’s what you are when you’re dead, you’re just nothing for the rest of eternity.
I learned about his death from Facebook. I found my newsfeed bombarded by my old high school friends and acquaintances, all of them mourning the tragic and sudden end to Robert’s life. When you think about it, it’s not fun to live in an age where you can get that kind of the news when you’re just trying to kill a few minutes on the toilet.
I hadn’t seen Robert for 2 years when I had heard the news. Last time I had seen him was at a chance meeting at a party when I was visiting home from college. I had cut off contact with him a year earlier after his addiction had taken hold of him to the point he was a different person. The Robert who was my friend was a kind, intelligent, yet disturbed individual. The Robert who I left behind after high school was so out of his mind that one night he drank a whole bottle of whiskey to his dome then apparently gave his girlfriend the worst black eye possible.  
Now he was a thief to. A junky, a thief, an abuser, and I hated him for all those reasons.
I wish I had helped. We all think of what we could have done or said when someone’s gone, I don’t know why we are so afraid to tell each other what we really think when we know we are right.
This is the story of Robert McKenna, my friend. My name is Will Martin, this is not my story. It was never my story, no matter how much I wanted it to be.
This story is about Robert, just like everything else, it’s always been about Robert.

Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis Chapter 16

chapter 16  The Aftermath

    Judge Bachman was ecstatic to hear Lewis was in custody.  He was disappointed to hear he was in another state and would be tried by a separate Judge, but he would watch the trial coverage on FOX NEWS as close as possible.

    Once Jack was caught, it wasn’t long until a cop leaked info to the press.  It also wasn’t long until the guy who broke out of jail by walking out the front door became the news of the century.  His trial would have more followers than Scott Peterson, OJ, and Casey Anthony combined and unlike all of them, the public loved him.  The more they dug up the more they realized this guy was less of a criminal and more of a conundrum.  The more they retraced his steps the more they all saw a man who had beat the system, had lived the ultimate adventure, and had made a strong network of friends.   Alex Kobe and Fiona did not mind the publicity.  Others, like Hal and Conner, disconnected their phones to not be bothered.  Kate showed her face without fear, and before her highly ttrated 60 minutes interview, she had released only one statement.  “I love him so much.”

    Then a girl named Ann delivered a rebuttal and was used as a character witness by prosecution.  “I Hate him! He got me pregnant and I had to…” She broke down “I destroyed my first child, and it’s his fault. But I’m in college, I can’t have …”  It then went on to become more about her and less about Jack.  It wasn’t long until no one gave a shit about the rich-bitch sorority girl he had a one night stand with.  That’s how fast the news moved on social media.  The jury also didn’t think much of her either.

    Another girl came to the press about having sex with Jack, in a more positive sense because he had rescued her from what she said would have been “a guaranteed rape.”

   

    A former prostitute gave a short interview from her room at a rehab clinic, apparently Jack was her “Guardian Angel”, who guided her with fatherly words and a much needed iron fist.”  The girl was quite poetic now that she was sober.

    Some hipster told a story of how he had been beaten senseless by Jack.

    Conner and Hal only appeared in court and offered no statement to the media.  They only voiced their support for their captured friend and acted as character witnesses for the defense.

    Nancy delivered only one statement, he burned his supena in a video he posted on youtube.  He refused to show up for court and be at risk of saying anything against his friend, period.  “Fuck you.  He’s a good man, good men don’t belong in the shit house!”

    The whole trial if it so can be called, was more of a rush of media, the law waving theirrestored masculinity around, and a fast forward of witness after witness that Jack didn’t even pay attention to.  Jack didn’t even know his lawyer’s name.  

    Jack was sent back to prison, obviously.  He was to serve at least 20 of his 25 to life years before he could start serving an eight year sentence for escaping and another eight for the various assaults, and finally two more for assaulting an officer.  Jack was to serve at least forty years, not eligible for parole until half of it.  The outrage from his fans was massive and pushed on the verge of rioting.  Jack got endless flows of fan mail, none of which he read.

    Jack accepted his fate with the usual discourse and lack of emotion he always had before.  Except one thing was different.  He never could stop thinking about Kate, every second he wasn’t with her he wanted to die.  He was not allowed a conjugal visit until they were married, which they were soon after the “trial” had ended.  

    Jack’s cellmates were two black guys and a hispanic man, all in for drug charges.  When they learned they were on the same cell block as the famous Jack Lewis, they spread the word and before dinner, Jack was a hero.

    Jack got a package every other week when Kate visited.  It consisted of cigarettes, suggestive photos of herself for lonely nights, and books.  

    Jack was keeping his reading up like never before.  Reading everything he was sent from beginning to end. Jack also took advantage of the book cart every chance he could.  Reading the classics, pop fiction garbage, anything that looked interesting.  For the first month of his sentence he was on an Oscar Wilde kick. Then he started to read some prison narratives by Leonard Peltier or Mumia Abu Jamal.  Soon he began a Kurt Vonnegut and Stephen King phase.

    One day on the book cart, jammed between two volumes of War and Peace, was less of a book and more of a pamphlet.  Jack looked to see it was by the same author Kate and he would read together.  Memories of his last hours in Kate’s bed came to him.  He decided to read this pamphlet.  He hoped it wouldn’t be as demented as the writer’s fiction or as archaic and scattered as the authors poems.

The parody of the self

a manifesto to the young millennium.

by James J Jackson Jr

“the more i see, the less i know, the more i like to let it go.” Snow by red hot chili peppers.

Introduction

We, as a species, are ever burdened yet rewarded with the human condition.  We have been given this gift of logical thought and consciousness; yet, we are ever burdened with the knowledge of our own mortality, the weight of physical and emotional pains coincided with our pleasurable emotions, and the fact that there is and are things in this universe that we shall never comprehend, not even in death.

We as a generation, are cursed.  We live in the generation that is blank abstract and a parody of itself.  Every cliche sense of identity, every generation has lived through some sense of identity, except ours, and the more we think we figured it out the more abstract it becomes.  We elected Obama and thought a new generation of peace and tolerance would take over the country, but other than killing Osama and marijuana dispensaries, we see Obama is just the black Clinton, left but not left enough.  A progressive American, but still an American, still putting delusional faith in the ultimate evil, the “market.”

We as a generation, have no sense of identity because of this sense of American economy.  Every sense of identity has now already been taken, and our generation is nothing but vintage chic that copy other generations.  We have people living the hip hop lifestyle that died with Easy E and Tupac.  We have hippies wearing their granola parents old clothes.  We have club kids creating multiple genres of rave and electronic music that would make the 1980’s blush.  We have the “fashionable” still flocking to the mall to throw away their money.  Everything, it seems, from the art world, to the film world, to the simple world around us, is blank because all that could be done with each medium has been done before.  Is there anything wrong with this pursuit of identity?  No, it is a part of the human condition.  It is one of the burdens of our gifts of conscious thought.  It could use a little more structure however.

We as a culture, lack culture.  Our authors have shifted from literature to nothing but commercial interests.  Mark twain would not survive the literary world unless he took shock value to another level.  50 Shades of Grey is a hit when its writing is pure garbage and names like Kurt Vonnegut, ee cummings, and Ralph Waldo Emerson are in danger of slipping into hipster obscurity.  We have no respect for the academic and the educational like we should, and those in the academic or educational run the risk of being cut off from reality and being stuck in theory.  Both people, academic and non, are guilty of ego and entitlement.

    We are so egotistical, so up our own ass, we refuse to acknowledge the Us government is guilty of genocide of natives and blacks, that immigrants and gays are being attacked for being who they are, that the authority of teachers is needed to educate our students, and that media is more powerful than it should be.

    The human condition, despite its strifes, is a beautiful and amazing thing.  We live in a beautiful world, and are capable of leading beautiful lives.  Yet these lives we constantly refuse to mold and make our own.  Not only that, but we are often under the delusion that we are the molders of our life, when in fact we are not.  As Goethe said, “ No person is more enslaved than one who falsely believes they are free “

We as a generation, are the generation of the 21st century.  We have to make up for the mistakes of our ancestors.  They promised so much to us by this century and none of it was delivered.  I say we deliver more than what they asked for.  Let’s not just shock and awe our failed ancestors with our technology and progressive inclusion. Let’s amaze them with a philosophical, artistic and creative strength not seen since the enlightenment and the renaissance.  That is where the waves are shifting.  Our existence, pointless. Our efforts for professional success, a waste of time, it is in the creative world that our generation belongs, and it is there we will stay.

The poet, the artist, the sculptor, the filmmaker, the musician, these people now live as “starving artists” and garner no respect from the public as they should because they don’t hold “productive careers”, they just express themselves.  Well, maybe if some of these white-collar conservative jerks expressed themselves once in while they wouldn’t be stuck in their meaningless existence. An existence where the only thing left behind to show for their lives will be a stack of money that will some day be gone and spent, and maybe a plaque on some office or library wall that will be up for a few years before the building is moved or torn down;  While the author and the artist have a lifetime of work to leave behind to show for their lives.  If that is not productive, and if that is not what this world needs right now, I do not know what is.  Also, these people make no money and live as they do because these Same people who criticize them for living so meagerly download and exchange their work with each other for free.  Capitalism has created the worst kind of entitlement, the kind where we practically have enslaved our artists and entertainers.  They look down on people trying to make a living through their creative side and then go around stealing it.

Consider this a manifesto, a philosophy much needed for the modern age.  Call it whatever you want, just take what it says to heart.  My only hope is that this book teaches you something, if you can walk away from this book with one difference of opinion from when you started, whether or not it’s agreeing or disagreeing with me, I will know I have done my job.

Also, I wish to mention that not a single original thought exists in this book, everything in this book has been said a thousand times before, and will always be said a thousand times again.  But every once in a while it needs to be put on to paper.

Lastly, I wish the reader to remember that this is merely a book, do not find meaning in this work where there is none and don’t miss the actual meanings altogether.  But remember this is merely one book written by one man, and in all respects should never have had to be written; for as Lao tzu said, “those who know don’t talk and those who talk don’t know.”

And there is hope, there is always hope.  For if there is not hope, these people strangling our culture, strangling our generation, which is a generation of artists, then our generation has already lost.

______________________________________________

When he finished, Jack  closed the book, sighed, and waited for his thoughts to catch up with him.

Jack enjoyed the read.  He was a little excited after he finished.  He stood and looked out the cell door.  Down the hall he could see the only window high at top by the catwalk that the guards use to look over the entire cell block.  He could see through the window that it was a blue sky and a sunny day, and despite all of Jack’s best efforts to stay grounded in reality, to keep himself from getting any fruitless ideas, he couldn’t help it.  After what he had just read, he could not help but feel that the author was, in fact, right.  If you want to stay victorious, there always has to be hope.

    As Jack looked at that tiny window far off in the distance, at that one square of blue in a bleak wall of gray that was almost blocked by a guard with a rifle and an NFL build, Jack could not shake the feeling that there was hope.  He then turned to his cellmates and joined their game of cards, still smiling, and he started to get excited for his visit with Kate tomorrow. 

Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis Chapter 15

Chapter 15 Gotcha, in the Cops and Robbers Game.

 

Jack had stopped listening long ago.  It wasn’t a voluntary thing, he was just too captivated by the sight of her to care about anything else.  After she had stopped reading she caught his gaze, which was locked on her eyes.  They both smiled and kissed a kiss so passionate that it belongs in a movie.  They damaged her mantle piece with the love they made.

 

Later, he sat on the edge of the bed, brooding.  Jack never brooded in jail, but he brooded now, naked, sweaty, and coming down off an endorphin rush.  His busty satisfied lover next to him sleeping and breathing heavy, happy breathes.

Jack truly did love Kate, and because he loved her he had never been more conflicted.  Jack knew that the reason he hadn’t been caught and thrown back in jail so far was because he had managed to move from place to place.  So now he had to make some choices.  He had been here with Kate for three weeks now, he knew if he stayed much longer it wouldn’t be long before the cops would catch up with him.

“What do I do?” he thought.  Does he risk getting caught and keep her at risk, this living gift that Jack had received after years of apathy and suppression.  Or does he flee, leaving a note for his lover explaining why she may never see him again.  Either way, he knew he would hurt Kate, and that was exactly what he was trying not to do.

 

He sat on the bed for two hours, trying to think of a way to elude the police and keep Kate.  The more Jack thought about it the more he realized one way or the other Kate was going to find out that Jack was a fugitive.  If he told her and she was okay with it, she would get locked up for aiding and abetting, and that was something Jack would never let happen.  He would sooner take a bullet than let this woman go through the hells he did in prison.  Especially a women’s prison, where she will be subject to the already sadistic guards.

 

He needed to clear his head and think.  He put on some clothes and shoes and a beanie Kate had given him that she knitted herself.   He kissed her cheek, then walked to the corner store to buy a pack of camels.

 

This turned out to be a mistake.

 

Jack got the cigarettes and left the 7 eleven with no confrontations, as he usually expected when going to a market at 3 at night.  He lit one and smoked as he wandered the neighborhood and parked his ass on a bus bench, chain smoking and trying to figure things out.

 

Jack went through four cigarettes when he first heard the sirens, he thought nothing of them.  He hadn’t been here that long, there was no way they could find him.

 

They did.  When one of the six squad cars parading the area turned the corner and started speeding towards him.  They braked suddenly by the bench, the red and blue sirens illuminating Jacks face from a fierce and distressful red to a chilling stunned blue in a taunting back and forth.

They blocked off the sidewalk with the car and before Jack could react or flea, another car came and blocked the sidewalk in the other direction. Jack had a cop car blocking either side of him and he now had four cops standing in front of him blocking him from fleeing across the street.  Each one was strapped in kevlar and had their gun drawn.  Within another the ten seconds the helicopter appeared and the light was right in Jack’s eyes.  In a last attempt to keep his freedom, Jack blindly sprang to his right and managed to leap over the hood of the cop car and out paced the spot light momentarily.  But he didn’t outpace the rookie’s taser which sent 50,000 volts into Jack’s body for what seemed like an unreasonable amount of time to take down an unarmed fugitive.  When Jack came to he was in handcuffs, sitting on the curb with some schmuck in a suit and trench coat standing in front of him like some Law and Order SVU cliche.

 

I’m agent smith of the FBI, as you can guess you are under arrest Mr. Lewis.

 

Jack nodded. he read him his rights and then took in one of the most wanted men in America.

 

The news hit the media in less than an hour.  While he was out Jack was just another transient to the world, now he that he was back in he was a celebrity, the entire world was captivated by the man who walked out of prison. Hashtags started trending for days, ones like #LongLiveLewis #JackAttack #WeLoveJackLewis  he had become a folk hero of sorts to some.  To others it was a chance to reveal their darker side of the internet once again with hashtags like #frylewis #LifeforLewis and the less creative #wehateJackLewis.

He used his phone call for Kate, he got the machine, she was dead asleep.  Jack said he got arrested, gave her the station number, and said don’t bother trying to bail me out, they wouldn’t let it happen, there’s a lot I didn’t tell you, but if you give me a chance to explain… I will.  I love you.

 

As he hung up he realized a bunch of the deputies were watching him and laughing at him.  and mocking him  “I love you..(grunt) yeah right”

 

“Bullshit”

 

“You’ll say anything to get people on your side won’t you.”  were some of the jargon.  This officer then shoved jack’s head, not enough to be called brutality, but just enough to remind Jack he was in and was powerless.   That’s how the police operate in this world, they remind the citizens they are powerless.  Jack knew this game, and he had played it his whole life.  Who is the court going to believe the cop or the three time felon?   The cops were going to remind Jack of that the entire time he would be in holding.

The other cells were full, so they threw Jack into the drunk tank but kept him under round the clock surveillance.  It was futile effort Jack just sat there hanging his head until Kate arrived.  When she saw him she leaped to the cell door and hugged him and kissed him.  She asked what happened before Jack could explain a cop had his baton between the two and he pulled Kate just out of arm’s length.

 

“At least two feet from the bar Miss.” jack noticed when the guard started pulling Kate away with his arm his hand noticeably brushed Kate’s breast.  Kate noticed it, and Jack definitely noticed it.  And the deputy definitely confirmed it as he smiled small but smugly as he walked away.

 

Later this cop would be sorry.  Jack made sure of that, the next time he came to tauntack he had a surprise for him.

 

But now he had to focus, Jack didn’t hesitate, he wanted this to be as quick and painless as it could be.  So Jack just spilled the beans, he told Kate everything; the escape, the wandering, Nancy, the head wounds, the crippled hand, Alice and the sorority girl, all of it.

 

Kate was speechless for five minutes, then when she got the chance as the guard wasn’t looking planted long wet kiss on Jack’s lips.  “Let me know when the arraignment begins. I’m there with you the whole way.  I love you.”

 

“I love you too” jack said and meant it.  He never knew one could fall in love in such a short period of time, but he did.

 

Kate left, confident she could help Jack in someway, unaware she had helped Jack in the best of ways.  Her presence in his life had given him something to live for, something to fight for.

 

Jack was left desperate for more of her company, this look was blatant on his face, and it drew the cop who just sexually harassed Kate over.  He had some new material to taunt Jack and was about to use it. Jack hadn’t been in there for twenty four hours and already sixteen different cops have taunted him right in front of the holding cell door.  This time the pervert cop got greedy, and opened the cell door and stepped in and out and in and out.  “Look at me” he teased “ I can come and go as I please, just like a certain Mister Jack Lewis thinks he can. I can just waltz out of here and visit my friends and go and have sex with my girlfriend any time I want and wait, why don’t you too?”  He kept the door open and stood aside while he raised his palm directing Jack like he was free to go, sarcastically of course, but the cop finally made a mistake he did this standing inside the cell.  The three drunks in the tank made a leap for the door but were immediately clotheslined by the cop.  “not you drunkies.  Come on Lewis.  go for it.”  Jack hated it when he was addressed by his last name; this was the final straw. Before  the cop could react Jack grabbed his outreached arm, twisted it like a motorcycle handle, then brought it down with all it’s gravity onto his knee.  The bone began to stick out through the flesh as the elbow was now bending the wrong way, the guard yelped with pain, and Jack used the cops weight to chuck him on the ground, smacking the back of his head on the concrete floor causing a nice concussion He grabbed the cell keys and the gun. He stepped out and slammed the door and locked it, and told the drunks to “go nuts.”

 

The cops injuries were so bad he was given early retirement.

 

Jack made it out into the hall in a sprint but was once again stopped by some offensively high number of volts that leaped out from behind and bit him in the back.