Short Story: Enjoy the Ride

We headed down an aisle of authoritarian, fascist goods. They put themselves on display for all to see, screamed their message as were wont to do. Were summarily ignored, then bypassed for what was desired. That was how society worked. How Human Evolution had evolved. We had no need to evolve the body anymore.

The mind was what mattered. It was the real battleground.

So much of it was fractal. Like the countless aisles of identical goods. All of them made of smaller components– atoms, molecules, stacked in identical or slightly varied ways. In the end, their composition mattered not, only our aim for them.

So much of Human existence is this way. We think in scales, in redundancies, so that we can better understand. It is Human Nature. To have mnemonics. Memorical redundancy. To come to see the patterns in things. It is only in that patterning that we can reassess.

It was somewhere around the middle of the store that we found what we were looking for. Something like captialism in a glass jar. It glowed slightly. Imperceptibly, but enough to be admissible to the senses. It buzzed and whirred. Only slightly, and only on the levels of metaphysics. That world beyond the tangible.

Debating it was ever there was not the point. It was connecting it to reality.

It is in the senses. The lack thereof. It is becoming the viral infection vector for ideas, images, sounds, and beauty, bliss-state, nirvana. Some call it God. Some Godhead. But it is not greater than us.

It is us.

We are vibration: radiowaves waiting to be received by radios. Perception then engages. And we’re given the noises after decoding. The noises decoded are those we attune to by dialing in.

What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

It is universal now. What’s transmitted is different. It’s so far-out, man.

This is the land of the postdigital Shaman. Words, gestures, wind. We use technology to raise rivers to douse forestfires. We learn from past mistakes, enemies, friends, so that they cannot defeat us with old tricks. We learn to manipulate the very aisles’ layouts, knowing that the people watching to build it better, do it wrong. So they will eventually see their own folly.

We reach an endcap, and there it is. The bounty, booty. It is cheap. It is simple. For our needs, it is perfect. We raise it up as the almighty end-all/be-all. The totem of our effort. What will make it all worth it.

Securely in place, we trek once more. To purchase. Gone are the days of barter-on-demand. We must now make a commitment and present proof of said upon exit. Like marriage. Or sex for procreation.

Outside the air is brisk. Mild. We feel it in winds and soft sounds. The back beats of crickets and bullfrogs keep tempo with dickenzian rhythm. Shadows flit o’er pavement and far-off sounds shatter the night at lower volumes. Up here, it is all divides on one sound. Divides: smoothed over by rhythm.

Love on a battered-back-beat flapjack. We surf the waves of its vibration across the pavement. To the car. Old metal. Spaceship angles on American steel. With all the trimmings. We drink deep of it. Knowing we could always drive forever, to a place that’s better.

We never do. We go home. To re-cycle. To reiterate. To pattern a bit longer.

This is survival.

We know it so well it doesn’t bother us. The show need not be perfect. Only worth it. Good. Anyone alive can know that. Change is what comes when the wind blows. It is what brings the trees their lightening of leaves.

That is life, living.

To survive we need only remember that. That there is nothing without the image of perfection. That it need not exist, only persist. That is what fearful men can never feel: Hope. It is beyond the scope of emotion for them.

The spaceship takes flight. We ride it like mother Earth. It catapults us through time and space in a most fashionable manner. Disk-jock and shock-rock all in one. The bounty is close at hand. The game fruitful.

If only we were getting paid, someone bemoaned.

Aren’t we? I ask, glancing around.

There’s a sort of rhythm to living that you can’t get until you stop and see it. To make it right, if only for a moment, that’s all anyone wants. It’s finding the groove in the vinyl on the first try. It’s becoming beachbound after decades in cold winter. It is finding love anew. It is God, but something… more.

Aware. Manifested.

Sense it: We are all one, written in sand ‘neath the sun. In times of tidal ruin and run.

To ebb and wane as a species, we feel it. We know it. Humans have birthed something they have no control over and want no control over. Only the most sensitive of us can feel or understand it so deeply. As it should be.

We are nestled deep in places other creatures cannot reach, because even they are not aware of these themselves. Not because they can’t or don’t want it, but because it is beyond their scope of singular existence to comprehend it.

It is beautiful.

In the end, isn’t that all that really matters? Won’t the rest of the shit shake out? Maybe even in laughter? I mean, really. Aren’t we all just riding some miraculous spaceship to the market for a bounty, to make it through the night?

Some would’ve said it differently. Truth is, it’s the vibrations. Where they come from, where they go doesn’t matter. It’s us that receives them. See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil. Not because it does not exist, but because it cannot then control us.

What a wild trip.

Poetry-Thing Thursday: Lean Upon the Wicked

Lean upon the wicked.
Trod upon the lame.
Chase them through the thicket.
Hang them without name.
If judgment comes to call,
say it was a game.

This is the creed of a motherless breed.
This is the soul-darkened human seed.
This is the eyrie of an immoral steed,
pregnant upon invirtuous deed.

Death is on your ticket.
Freedom’s in your name.
Never can be resown.
We fight but not in vain.
Eyes and minds alight.
And burning as one flame.

This is the song, of a petulant need.
This is the cry, that we cannot concede.
This is a wound, borne of gluttonous greed,
bending like, unbroken reed.

Cry of the fallen.
Breath of the flame.
Forget the calling.
Strike without shame.
For when at last,
the flotsam’s gone to claim,
and tidal waves roll,
cling to the innocents
and not your goal.

This is the sigh of the chaos gone by,
This is the reel of impossible cry.
This is the sound of the freewheel afly,
remembered long past the day that we die.

VIN26- The Best “Worst” Decision

We all have wishes. Skee-Lo had the most, at least in the publicized market. I had the second, but mine was written in words across pages invisible to all. Even if they hadn’t been, it was doubtful anyone would have found them. Even then, they’d never have enjoyed them.
It was simple mathematics, really. Take the amount of people in the world, multiplied by the amount of non-Skee-Lo wishes, then divided by each level of exclusion required to reach them.
In my case, that was invisible pages, requiring active readers, whom would not only ferret them out, but also enjoy them. Recursion that deep requires consideration.
But it happened. All of those infinitesimally small chances, and it happened.
What the fuck was I thinking?

Initially, It was from loss. Something I needed to do. Music had failed… sort of. Then, anyhow. I knew my body was too damaged and my spirit too wounded to do anything else. So, I tried to heal. Not knowing I was seeking to heal.
My dumb-ass went and put pen to paper.

For non-writers: the feeling of writing is intoxicating. It is more than a drug. It is like missing a crucial part of your genetic material and needing to supplement it with lifelong therapy. It is my theory that writers are Bodhisattvas: that we were the first to be reborn as Human, and needed to identify one another.
So, we began writing.
Only then, because we knew it would take lifetimes to make work, could we begin to understand that it was us, ourselves, that were the Bodhis now. Those old stories, their Buddhas, had already ascended the Godly realms. We were last in line, but richer for it, because we’d get to share all that extra time with the rest of this existence.
Righteous.
Wicked. Righteous.

The point I assume in this theory is that we are all building toward Enlightenment, Nirvana, or the Liberation from samsara. The cycle of Birth, Dying and Death, and Rebirth. It has put all of us, through the aforementioned, nearer to attaining that.
Seeing that, understanding that, is the way forward for Humanity and each of us as individuals.
Now, at every turn, the systems we’ve built around us to aid this are working against us. Justice is unjust. Corruption is purity. Fleas are jumping ship, yet the bridge isn’t burning. All the same, we know the waters are disturbed there’s a smell about there air. Something bigger is afoot.

Vermin fear predators.

I remember a story about a rally cry being heard in the distance at war-time. The village nearby immediately mustered its defenses and revealed its number. The rally never came. Days later, an army thousands strong had been amassed to encircle the village. They surrendered wholesale.
“Deception is the Art of War,” so sayeth Sun Tzu.
“Justice is blind,” retorts Lady Liberty.
Neither is wrong, yet others still bleed. It hurts somewhere. Deep. Even if we don’t care… we do. Even when we have every reason, rhyme, and conviction in the world not to, we do. Deep down. That is the condition: Human. The soul. The conscience. It is the effect of violation in that which is otherwise your norm and comfort.
No matter how comfortable you pretend to be with it, how much you smother it, it remains.

Becoming a writer was one of the best, worst-decisions of my life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Short Story: Dead Gods

On-stage the band were throwing themselves into every lick and power-chord. The effort culminated in all the lasting effect of lint in wind. Long hair flung sweat and other bodily fluids through colored stage-lights with twirling abandon. The lead guitarist leapt and bounded about, readied to kick a stack before using it as a launch-pad instead.

The madness onstage was matched only by the madness of a crowd that might’ve brought tears to Uncle Lemmy’s eyes. The poor old sod may not’ve been there in person, dead or alive, but there was no doubting he was there in spirit. The slam-pad mentality of the mosh-pit exceeded the loss of drugged-out brain cells by an untold measure. All around it, the pumping of fists and screaming of fans made sure Neu-Ballistix raged all the harder for them.

All told, a good crowd. Powerful. One that deserved better than the rabble they were forced to contend with. Perhaps that was the problem. In the end; all feeling, no discipline. A different world for a different kind of person. Thus, Neu-Ballistix would be no more remembered than the nameless rabble from the night before, or the night before that and so on.

Lee Felton flipped his leather-jacket’s collar down and slipped out past a bouncer. He thumbed a cigarette into his mouth as he surged through the few people waiting about, coming and going. They were faceless the way any crowd was; confirmed to the senses as humans, but clustered so as to be inaccessible, personally.

Like the bands every night, every weekend; All feeling, no discipline. All discipline, no feeling. No matter what, all of one thing and none of the other, and all nothing because of it.

Then again, beneath scattered streetlights, who wasn’t faceless and unfamiliar?

To Lee, most people were sterile sperm; the assumed potential of greatness, but that could never be attained. It wasn’t their fault they were blanks– duds, but they were. Fact was, it was really the 21st century’s damaged testes that had done it. The same ones that promised a world of flying cars and hover-boards, but in reality, had turned into slum-lord ghetto-living and dehumanization.

Even smoking in public was outlawed, required standing in the cold. Fine for bouncers on-duty, but why for him? Specially when the chick in the corner’s doing rails off a whore’s cock. They can still get their jollies, why not him too?

In the end, it wasn’t about what was cool, or in, it was control. No-one knew it, and no-one could. The artistic community lived on vibes. In a digital world, that meant being blind. It was a trade-off. The vibes were bountiful when harnessed right, but required certain sacrifices be made. It was the same trade every artist made, personally or publicly. More spot-light, more heat.

It just so happened Lee’s industry was especially good at using the light to blind and dazzle, before pillaging and plundering talent, image, and any hope of reputation. And why not? They were damned good at it. Had been for a century now. Never mind how much sleaze the artists had to contend with.

Lee lit his smoke with a cupped hand, fighting Chicago winds blowing in off the lake.As usual, Winter’s Autumnal-guise arrived in time for coeds getting blasted at weekenders. Lee wasn’t sure why he came out anymore; the bands weren’t hitters, the beer was watered downand too expensive, and he’d long ago given up the hunt.

Were he surfing one-nighters, he’d have hits left and right. That was the problem though; in the industry, you went along or you went against. In either case, you chose a side. Those one-hitters were a dime a dozen, and the corporate industrial music-machine thrived on them.

The shows were more habit than anything. That sort one went about once a week to decompress from reality’s attempts at collapse. Some people were weekend warriors, college kids especially. Others were simple party-addicts bingeing on one vice or another, burning away rotted brain cells already consigned as victims of wage-slavery or normal-joery and its weekly, excess-purge.

Lee couldn’t blame people for wanting to burn cells or war away weekends. Young or old, life was passing by and the more people were forced to sit and accept it, the more it hurt to watch. Lee had seen it enough in himself the last few years, he no longer cared to watch either. Instead, he went to the shows, the bars, the open mics, waiting and listening and hoping he’d find a sound; the right mix, the right person, to make another God out of them.

He doubted he would, even that any existed in these lean, silent times. Funny, everyone everywhere was screaming into mics or acoustic wells and no-one was making a sound. Lee’d figured that was the real problem. The difference between music and noise wasn’t the notes themselves, the sounds they made, rather it was the space between, the silences formed of off-noise; the style.

Lee knew those silences better than most, had built a career on them. It was in the toilet nowadays, but stuck out enough to live off royalties.

Lee started for the apartment off Lakeshore Drive. It was one of the higher-end places. In these times and parts of the world, that meant the heat worked when you wanted it to, ‘stead of when it wanted to. The twenty or so minutes between home and the juke-joint meant enough time for the liquor to run its course.

The cold had only started edging in, but not enough it to chill the bone, wind or no.

The elevator lurched with gut-punching familiarity. Lee lit another cigarette; he’d torn the no-smoking sign off the elevator months ago. Only three people other than he and Rhein used it with any regularity. Two were smokers.The other was an old man that couldn’t smell anything from all the blow he’d rammed in his sinuses over the years.

None of them cared if he smoked.

They were all like him; burnt-out fools with ties to the industry and more mental scars than normal humans had a right to. Lee’d decided long ago the apartment building wasn’t really an apartment building. It was a retirement home for old rockers. He’d lucked out and retired earlier was all.

He slunk to his door, thumbed his way past the print-lock and stepped inside. Rhein was slumped over the couch wearing only leather pants. He looked like Billy Idol might’ve had he been naturally platinum blonde and decidedly less-straight. He’d splayed out on the leather couch in front of the flickering fireplace, looking as if waiting to be taken advantage of– in one way or another.

Lee’d get there eventually.

He tossed his coat down and sank to the far side of the couch, between the widest points of Rhein’s splayed feet. He hunched to unlaced his boots and felt Rhein’s foot playfully close to his back.

He heaved a sigh and it stopped.

“Nothing, huh?” Rhein asked, sparkling blue-grays licked by fiery reflections.

Lee didn’t bother. They both knew the industry was dead, along with everyone attached to it. The few left were unaware. They were headless chicken-bodies and headshot-deer; adrenaline-drive from half pulverized-brains that had yet to decipher their rapid and immutable exit.

Fact was, not much could be done about it. The industry was dead; taken over by corporate ass-hats and frothing mouth-pieces. All of them, demanding everyone be the next pop-rock idol or gang-banger wannabe. Didn’t matter which because they were all the same; sluts on their knees sucking for the money shot– or hoping to get some of the splash-back, if nothing else.

Lee laid between Rhein’s legs, head on his navel, only then noticing he’d been throwing back sips of whiskey from a rock-glass. Lee looked up Rhein’s torso as he sipped, the Billy Idol image damned-near complete. He couldn’t forget what drew them together, even if he barely remembered how or when.

Rhein was a God; Lee, the demi-God at his side. They’d rocked the country, torn down stadiums, halls, and homes with walls of sound. One did it live, the other did in the studio. In that way that living fast makes Relativity make sense, they lived and did it all in a decade.

Then, the bubble burst with the touring fan-base. The boredom and rot set in. The silence came with it. They’d done their best not to acknowledge the haunting truth ever since that Rock was dead, the industry with it; its Gods now fables sinking into obscurity to eventually fade forever.

Lee let his head sink back to Rhein’s navel, finally at-peace with the idea. At the very least, if they were dead, the Gods had a good run. Now, they could sleep, secure in what they’d been.

VIN 5- What The Clash Knew

The Clash knew in the 70s what we’re realizing now; that business would rule and we would be at war with it. They saw the landscape for what it was– not only what it could, but would become.

They were looking out from skidrow before poverty reached the masses, but while war’s remnants still made it felt. Conscious or not, they screamed out to history that corruption remained. While The Clash were the paragons of this shouting, they were hardly the only ones doing so.

All the same, it wasn’t time for that revolution. Not yet. Not then. The job was done. War was over. Victory was at-hand. It was time for prosperity, peace, and celebration.

But No-one was listening. No-one believing. Especially, when the world was in the black and looked to stay that way for a long time.

Problem was, the next decades became a series of golden-age false-starts. Why, no-one was yet certain. Technology however, proved the reason. It was a tidal-wave coming whether humanity survived, thrived, and rode it in, or drowned in its unforgiving relentlessness.

The viral infection of corporatism though, spread by decades of festered neglect, showed the Clash then what Humanity must face now; that greed, corruption, if present and no matter its size, can and will spread.

It has.

Poetry-Thing Thursday: The Big Fin

I like the feel,
the push and pull,
of gravity and steel,
with the throttle at full.

The rumble of the engine.
Pulsing heat.
Surge of adrenaline,
coursing head-to-feet.

An amplifier,
cranked up past eleven.
Trembling thunder,
from bass-note heaven.

Slap and the pop,
high and low lows,
take you to the top,
even if the tempo slows.

It’s the terror
of 1 hp, a two-hour raid,
the smell of good weed,
the day you get paid.

It’s what you feel,
deep inside,
reeling,
‘cause of opposing inner-tides.

Exhilaration.
Terror.
Pleasure.
Pain.

All the same.
And so much more.
We play the game.
To rig the score.

‘Cause in the end,
we want to win.
‘Round the bend,
we know no sin.
This life is ours,
forever akin,
to filled hours,
before the big fin.

Short Story: Rock ‘n Roll Lifestyle

Scents of fresh cigarette smoke mingled with stale beer and dry sweat; the same scents that greeted Ethan every early afternoon at work. The painful truth of the rock ‘n roll lifestyle was that it didn’t really exist, never had. In fact, one of the few things it accurately claimed to have was long nights and late mornings, and even those weren’t the same, really. Fringe benefits, Ethan called them, hard truths of sound engineering for the local dive.

That’s all he could ever think to call the Club. It had an official name, but nobody used it– a claim to Ethan’s generational droves offlowing apathy. The Club wasn’t a club. It wasn’t even a bar, though it had one. It was a collection point for the aimless and brainless to nightly smash into each other. If they weren’t doing that, they were smashing other shit into their brains or veins. Regardless of its seeming differences, the road taken was always the same: ride the groove of the latest, least-audibly offensive metal jocks stuck in Podunk like the rest.

Every night was roughly the same. Unless the joint was bust from a cancellation, the band or bands arrived, set up, ran sound check, then lingered until their slot whilstdoing their best not to drink away the night’s profit. Most did. If, after the long wait, they were still fit to play, they went onto the makeshift stage and did their best to murder a set or two. By the end of it, the drinkers were drunk, the stoners were high, and everyone else was everywhere in between.

More often than not, Ethan watched from behind the mixing board. Drugs and booze made their way through the crowds. He could always tell the inebriated minors from the crowd; they didn’t move in time with it, as if knowing they stood out and completely incapable of helping it. No one cared. What was a few wasted teenagers to a crowd?

It wasn’t just the music and intoxicants that drew the kids either. The girls did their best too. If the bartenders and concession girls didn’t appeal, there were always the few regulars– cougars and their younger counterparts on the hunt for more stamina and cum than brains. Sometimes, even the occasional flamer or dyke surfed the crowd. Like the others, they too, found their select few to get something from or give something to.

Ethan still laughed at the thought of his closest brush with the rock ‘n roll lifestyle: He went to piss, walked in on a freshmen poking “Lightning Lucy.” She was fast, easy. Before Ethan knew what was happening, he was suddenly double-teaming Lucy with the freshmen– who was more and more jealous of the fact.

But Lucy was quick and easy because she wanted to be. It made life easier. The last thing she wanted was strings. By the end of it, Ethan figured he’d done the kid a favor: gave him a story to tell and made the break easier. The last thing anyone wanted was a love-sick hanger-on, Lucy especially.

That was the closest Ethan had come to the rock ’n roll lifestyle he’d been promised. Even then, he had a hard time believing it had happened. Life was hardly as fast and easy as the legends made it sound. Mostly, it was standard fare; sit at a board, keep the lights green, and ensure no-one skipped out on the tab.

Maybe that was why it felt like every other day to Ethan. Maybe it was just his generation’s total apathy from the knowledge that they’d missed “the good ole’ days.” Maybe it was nothing, or everything, or some of one thing and a little or none of another. All he knew, was after the fact, he knew even less than he’d thought he did.

He took his place behind the board to watch the lights. The latest incarnation of wannabe rock-star nobodies were on stage. They droned on with the same bullshit metal sound Ethan heard night after night. There was nothing original in town nowadays. The only thing that distinguished one set of screeching vocals and open-string pounding from the next were the various shades of gray eyes or their faces. The bands around were as dead as the horse their music beat.

The guys on-stage that day were no different. The only thing even relatively noteworthy was their singer’s utter lack of vocal enthusiasm. He looked like a caricature of late Floyd-era Syd Barret; on stage, head down, guitar hanging; no life whatsoever to him. The only real indication of his continued existence was the noises emanating from below his head. He seemed to be doing his best to do nothing at all, and was succeeding expertly– not that he’d have noticed nor cared. Someone had left a hang-dog expression hanging too long, and this was the result.

The drummer finally exploded with rage, angry at another night potentially ruined. It was then the singer came to life… in the most awful way Ethan’s apathetic generation could muster. He rounded toward the drummer, suddenly raised a loaded .45.

Where it came from, Ethan still wasn’t sure, all he knew was the sound of a round fired off into the drummer’s forehead. Then another, into the bass player as he booked it for the door. The third cut down the rhythm guitarist at the edge of the risers. After him, one-by-one, went all of the crew and the hangers-on that had tried to flee but weren’t quite fast enough.

The barrel angled onto Ethan and the frozen, deer in the headlights expression remained unchanged. The rampaging frontman stopped, stared. To an outsider, he looked as if trying to decide if Ethan were a man or an armless marble statue. Something suddenly shifted in the guy’s face. The gun turned on the shooter, and the guy let himself out as he had his mates.

Through all of it, Ethan was frozen, petrified. Terror had coursed through his veins. He was terrified, of course, but also utterly confused and entirely confused. A creature of such despair and hang-dogged emptiness had managed to erupt into a ball of fire. It was as if the last pocket of existence inside a formless shell had burst forth to ensure it be remembered, for good or ill. It was safe to say it had completed its task.

Ethan was more concerned for himself; a dozen people were murdered in front of him, and he could do nothing but blink. For a while, he wondered if someone had slipped him acid or peyote again. Instead, the police and EMT’s arrived to find him standing, staring, traumatized.

It took a long while to coax him back to reality. In the end, he returned from his curious fugue state unharmed carried on with life. The Club eventually began functioning again too, as much as it could be said to. Ethan wasn’t sure what life he nor it led, but something told him neither qualified as rock ‘n roll.