“We can always be certain that we will see each other again. We just can’t be certain it will be our real bodies that we see, see? I am a song. I am a movie. I am a photograph and an article of clothing. You are too and so is everyone. Some live on in other people and sometimes we play the part of each other’s demons without even knowing.” Veia and I were sitting out on the little balcony of our apartment. I smothered away the cherry of my finished cigarette when I was done speaking.
“I suppose that’s true,” she replied. “‘We play the part of each other’s demons’…is that a way of saying that I sometimes remind you of the blue-haired girl who hung herself from the backwoods bar?” Some might have been offended by a question like this, but I certainly wasn’t. I found the intuition attractive. It’s a rare miracle to find someone who one can say a lot to with only a few words.
“Perhaps sometimes,” I answered. “But it isn’t just her. I think everyone I’ve ever known pays a little visit to my mind from time to time. The dead or gone aren’t really so dead or gone. They’re alive in us. They live on in our dreams.”
“You’re right. You never left mine.”
“Really? You never left mine either. I guess one could achieve a kind of immortality that way. Look at Socrates, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, Timothy Leary…they’ve all outlived their physical existences.” We only had a few days before we would be evicted. After that we would be out on our asses and roaming the streets.
“I’m surprised that our physical existences have made it this long.”
“Why is that?”
“Because we’re not like the others, and the others think that anything different is bad. We’re ‘unfit’, ‘immoral’, ‘deviant’ and ‘diseased’. They think that we’re in need of correction because they think that different is incorrect. ‘Contrary to popular belief’ has become a forbidden phrase. They think that there absolutely has to be something wrong with us, otherwise we would be just like them. They’d burn us alive if they knew us. They’d show up at our doorstep and kill us while we sat here eating our dinner.”
“They haven’t gotten us yet,” I replied. “And if they do we’ll die with dignity. We have chosen to follow what we believe even in spite of the odds. We’ve experienced more wide awake than most of them have seen in their dreams. We will be us when we die. Few can say that. We lived. We really lived.”
“Ooh, ‘tis true. Very good.” She opened her eyes wider and began to glare at me. “You’re very nice to see.”
“Ah, thank you! So are you. You consume my peripheral vision.” After I said this, she walked back inside for a brief moment and returned with a noticeable sniffle. Opioids? She was pretty hooked to oxycodone now, which I didn’t really mind. Who was I to blame anyone for not wanting to feel? Besides, I had done ketamine three times during the past week. We had looted a few of the bodies at the Tonky-Honk too.
“Loot! Loot!” We said when we looted. It’s very important to remember to yell ‘loot!’ when one is looting. It was almost dark out now, and the molten fire sunset was fading away into the horizon.
“Let’s go and play,” Veia suggested. Where would we go?
“Where will we go?”
“We’ll go wherever we can imagine. Don’t you remember your imagination?” I certainly did. We were soon walking through cold dewy grass that seemed to be growing at a microscopic level that was somehow visible at the moment. How odd.
“All of the things around you…what do you see them do?” I questioned.
“Ooh, what a question you’ve questioned me with. The night things are here. I see them dancing all around, but only in the shadows. They’re sinister little things, but they’re harmless to us. We’re the same as them. What do you think they see us do?” I liked the things that now called out to us from the darkness. I could see them too.
“They see us looking at them as we wonder if they should move closer. They see me trying to guess what they’re seeing. Do they think I’m a mind reader or a fool? Next they look at you and…” Then something very strange happened. I was traveling through her eyes and down into her mind. Everything was as black as if it wasn’t even there. What was happening?
“Fuck!” She screamed as loudly as she could, but her voice sounded younger. “I can’t do anything! Everything is being taken! I’m a fucking leper! I have to enter through the back door so that no one has to see me. Why do they hate us? They fucking stalk you, they grab you and they throw you away.
"How? How can this be reality? ‘American freedom’ is just an oxymoron! I just want to go away...I want to wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Stop the ride, I want to get off! But when I open my eyes it will all still be there. Everyone leaves…” A holographic version of her stumbled toward me. She seemed very drunk, and not in a partying way. “Stop the ride, Tristan! Stop the ride! I want to get off. Please…I don’t want to feel anymore.” The ghostly Veia collapsed on the ground in tears.
“They wouldn’t let us be anything. We never had a chance. They were following orders. They caged and killed the innocents, the simply misunderstood, all in the name of their god damn commands. When they took us it was like the Nazis coming for the Jews. We didn’t stand a chance. They’re committing genocide, destroying those with alternative lifestyles or unconventional codes of ethics. ‘Different’ apparently means ‘wrong’!
“There can be no freedom as long as this goes on. I don’t want to live in a world like this. I was born far too soon, but maybe I can bring the world that I was meant for into being. Forgive them father, for they know not what they do. They know not…not yet. I don’t believe that I will live long enough to see them learn. It will be the day that the world stops merely changing the color of the tint in its glasses and finally takes them off. Maybe that day will never come.”
The transparent young Veia said nothing more. She just laid there in a puddle of blood and tears. Crack! Crack! I heard a whip as it lashed at her. Thwack! I was back on my nighttime stroll with the ‘real’ Veia again. But the other version of her was real too. It was a part of her that I had just seen for the first time.
“Are you okay?” She asked curiously. “You’re sort of quiet and spacey.”
“I just saw something strange. I saw you, afraid and betrayed. You were broken. They destroyed you in the name of the law.” She looked at me for a moment, not knowing what to say.
“D.J.J. changed me. I realized that the society really doesn’t care if we live or die. We’re just a Social Security Number or a number on a credit card. We’re just one more sheep in the flock to them. Maybe you saw me in my cell in juvie. Maybe you saw the future. We’ll be exiled or killed in the name of intolerance. Somehow ignorant brutality and the law have become the same.” Indeed they had.
“Boo! Eehee!” One of the little shadow people was right next to us. He must have been the curiousest one.
“Bwee!” Veia shouted back at him. The thing looked like a nicer, smaller, younger version of Shadowshade and seemed to have something to say.
“Oo hoo! The two of you! You’re both lost and found at the same time! You make them fit together so perfectly.”
“We don’t know where we are, but we’re where we want to be,” she replied to it.
“Yes, yes! But I must go.” Poof! The thing melted back into the shadows from whence it came.
“At least we aren’t going insane alone,” she whispered to me.
“I’ve always wanted someone to go insane with.” It was true. Going insane with someone was pretty high up on my bucket list.
“How about a guided tour?” Shadowshade was offering. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to take his tour, but I knew that I would regret letting the opportunity pass me by.
“Okay,” we said together.
“On.” It was a robotic monotone female voice. The scenery completely changed. We were downtown and two people were standing in front of us. They were definitely fighting. As we got closer we could clearly see a police officer beating the shit out of a homeless person with his nightstick. What the hell?
“You stupid piece of shit!” The cop yelled. “You are not profitable to the society! You know what that means? Hmm? It means that you must be exterminated!” He beat the man over and over until finally he fell dead at his feet. The limp body slammed down into the cool asphalt and our setting changed a second time.
This time we were standing amidst a crowd of protesters. There were peacefully protesting hippies and people of all races and ethnicities fighting for their civil rights. Occupy, Gay Pride, Timothy Leary and anyone else who chose not to die without first trying to change the world had come. The group of numbered in the thousands. Hundreds were being pepper-sprayed, tased, and shot down by various law enforcement agencies…
“Why are you doing this to us?” A member of the crowd shouted at them.
“We don’t know! We were told to!” That was the only response. Flash! Bzzzing! Once again our surroundings reshaped and shifted. We were facing a dimly lit alleyway where a group of lost night-owls had congregated. There were thirteen of them there…my lucky number! Shadowshade began again.
“They lack motivation. They’ve been beaten down and don’t know what to do anymore. They’re in need of guidance. Who will gather the products of society and teach them how to fight back? They’re not only here. You came from Tranquility Acres. There are certainly more potential Products in places like that too.
“They’re everywhere waiting to be activated, waiting to be inspired. They are those who are persecuted for being something other than what they were expected to be. They will die lying down, taking all of their beatings willingly, unless someone shows them how stand up on their feet. They must learn to fight for themselves. They are in need of teachers.” Zoombaloom! We were back in our shady grove, hidden from the terrors that lurked all around us. Most of those terrors were asleep at the moment.
“My god…” Veia said. “I suppose that we are to ignite the flame. He means us.”
“When cultural approval is no longer required, when decisions can be made by individuals instead of groups that sacrifice liberty and justice for cohesion, only then will anyone be free. Shadowshade is right.”
“That’s what we are then,” she added. “We’re the guns they forged and loaded with bullet after bullet for so long. Soon the trigger will be pulled. The Products of Society are the current regime’s way of committing unintentional suicide. Not all of us will stand still, cowering in fear while we’re beaten to death.” We were getting very tired now, and decided to rest in the grass. Veia gently laid head on my chest. The slippery wet grass was cold, but she wasn’t cold at all.
“Look at the stars; they’re so far away…” She gazed up into them like an awestruck child. They were beautiful. She was beautiful. I unintentionally remembered the night that Scéléra and I fell asleep while talking about the stars. We play the parts of each other’s demons without even knowing. Veia didn’t know that she was reminding me of mine. How often did I do the same to her?
As we drifted off to sleep I had the odd feeling that Vera would be there to wake us up in the morning, but she wouldn’t be. She had been blown to bits in a redneck bestiality petting zoo. What a truly unique to go. I hoped that I could die as uniquely as she had. Scéléra was gone too, and had taken many others with her. But my mind soon finished its nightly racing. I was asleep…
“Tristan, let’s go to the moon.” Anna’s childlike voice echoed somewhere in the depths of my subconscious. Bing! Just like that, the next day arrived. It was bright and sunny with cute little bunnies and all of that lovey-dovey bullshit, only it was overcast and the bunnies had become dinner for a hungry fox. This was the day that Veia and I would journey out into the world on our own. We no longer had anywhere to stay. We had searched desperately for jobs of any kind, but even the ones at McRonalds had been taken. It was time to become gypsies, wanderers of the night.
“I’ve lived on the streets before, love.” Veia reminded me. “It isn’t easy, but we have each other now. We have a reason to do difficult things.” After selling what was left inside the apartment at a nearby pawnshop we got into the Crown Vic and sped away.
“At least we have a car to sleep in.” I started the engine of the legendary vehicle.
“Hell yeah! That’s a step up for me. Where shall we go, Sir Boy?”
“Wherever we please. We’ll go where we please and do as we please, for our health won’t last forever and in the end we won’t be able to go anywhere at all.”
“Alright, terrible Ivan, let’s live while the living’s good.”