This is it. The time has finally come for me to depart. The landlord will be here today to evict me, but I’m no longer in need of a place to stay. I’ll be a corpse soon, and corpses don’t usually need a room to rent above ground. My book has finally been completed. A flash drive containing Product of Society has been mailed to Miss Dee Gaggles. She has promised to see that it falls into the right hands.
Another flash drive, identical to the one that I’ve sent her, rests inside the tiny pocket near the waistline of my dark grey jeans. I’ve only just slipped into them. The little stick will be there when I go. Hopefully someone special will find it. I make my way into the little bathroom across the hallway and jump into my very last shower.
Things seem to feel different, distinctive, when you know that you won’t be doing them again. The Last Supper, the last time sitting in a certain classroom, the last time having sex with someone who you know is going away, the last day at a job you’ll never work at again, this is no exception. It is The Last Shower. The steaming hot water pours down onto my skin and swims all over my body, stinging as it flows along. Stinging has always been sort of therapeutic for me. My eyes close and I begin to reflect over what my life has been, what my final hours will hold, and what I will leave behind. It’s all almost here.
Squeak. Squeak. I turn the water off and step out into the bathroom. I wipe the steam from the mirror above the sink, drawing little swirls in it just like I did when I lived with Anthony and Cindy. Anthony was always consumed with violent fiery rage when my fingers left these little smudge marks on the glass. His life must have been truly and wondrously carefree if something so insignificant could plunge him into such a rampage. I wish my life could be so marvelous that a smudge mark could seem like a catastrophe, but at the same time I pity him greatly.
I decide to wear black on my last day of life. It seems fitting. It’s my favorite color…or absence of color. One could argue that I wear black on most days, but no one is here to argue with me. Shadowshade has been silent for a few hours, which is alright with me.
My clothes match my hair, which has become a patchy scratchy mess ever since I arrived at this apartment. Somewhere along the road to psychosis I butchered it horribly with a pair of blue-green kiddie scissors. It took a while to get those damn things to cut through it. Snip snap, chip chop, chippity-chop snip-snap. Now I look like an angry feminist. Maybe I am. Patriarchy disgusts me and machismos make me homicidal.
I am ready. I look sort of like Neo from the Matrix, just a little gayer. I’m in my black-on-black-on-black attire, finally ready for my journey to come to its end. I still have one last stop to make before that can happen, though. I walk into the kitchen and open a cabinet next to the microwave. What magical treasures could be waiting inside?!
It’s a revolver! Wowza! Shiny! Dee sent me a .38 Special a few weeks ago via the United States Postal Service. Somehow no one discovered that she was shipping me a loaded gun…what excellent security measures the postal service has in place. Next to the pistol is a gram of cocaine. She shipped that USPS too. Good work, guys. I plan to go out with one hell of a bang.
10:17a.m., says the digital clock on the nightstand next to the bed. I’m hardly paying it any attention. I am busy staring out the window at the city below me, as I often do. There she is, my almost mini-metropolis, the city full of dreams that so rarely become reality. There are probably many other cities that the same could be said about. Is it the same all over the world? I give the window one last long and loving lick before I stride out the door.
I blow the last of my life savings boarding a city bus. It seems to be an appropriate way to travel to my final destination. I can feel the dreaming city moving me along her streets. I’m a blood vessel traveling through her veins. She’s so mechanical. She’s my wind-up toy. She’s dilapidated, drab, beautiful, horrible, fucked-up, magical, painful, predictable yet random, bold yet timid, safe yet dangerous, unique yet commonplace…
“Where are ya headed?” An old scraggly-toothed man who seems rather down on his luck asks while I sit down in the seat next to him. It feels like my ass is sitting on a rock. There’s a full load of passengers aboard this glorious vessel today.
“I’m headed home, missure, home to see my papa.” He turns his five-toothed smile in my direction with a twinkle in his eye.
“That’s mighty good of ya, sonny, mighty good indeed. My boy hasn’t spoken to me in many moons. I guess I could’ve been a better father. But yessir, it’s good to see a grown boy goin’ back to see his old man. Yessiree boob.”
“Yeah, I suppose. I’m going to tell him just what I think about him raping me and my sister. I’m going to tell him what I think about him keeping us locked inside his fucking house until puberty. He called it ‘playing daddy’ when he did it to us. What do you think of that?” His expression is rather blank upon hearing this. My words have frozen him like a frosty snowman. It isn’t cold enough for that! It’s only early fall.
“Does that shock you?”
“Son, I’ve seen it all. I hope it goes alright for ya.”
“It will. I’m going to make damn sure of that.”
“Well that’s good.” Before long we’re pulling at the bus stop nearest the edge of the city. This is where I get off. Father’s home is still about four or five miles away, but this is as close as the bus can take me. It’s okay. I’m in no rush. It’s not even half past noon! The sun is still climbing, climbing, higher, higher in the sky. I can wander around, take my time and still make it there long before he sits down to eat his dinner…a dinner of which he will never partake.
No address is too difficult to find these days. I spent a few hours snooping around on the internet earlier and immediately found a satellite photo of the man’s front yard. I wonder how I’ve evaded capture for this long in an age of such effective stalker technology, but I won’t be avoiding my stalkers after today. I step out of the luxury cruiser and out into the street. There are a few businesses here, fast food places and gas stations, but I know I’m already outside the city limits. The traffic in this part of town is practically non-existent.
“Are you ready to meet your fate, Ivan the Terrible?” S. is probably just trying to amuse himself. He’s like that. But I am ready. I’ve seen quite enough of this world. I wish I could have been one of those lost or abandoned children, like on TV, raised by animals in the wild. Then I would have no idea that society existed. I would never know there were other homo sapiens. My society calls me a sociopath, but society creates the ‘sociopath’. Without society, no one could be labeled as one.
I am simply the solution to their equation. I’m what you get when you put all of their actions together. I am not only Ivan the Terrible, I’m Ivan the Inevitable. They should have seen me coming, for I am their child. I’m the gourmet soufflé that was cooked to imperfection in their oven of hatred and unbending intolerance.
My arrival could have been easily predicted. I don’t claim to be the first of my kind, nor do I claim to be the last. We will soon spread like wildfire. Was it Karl Marx who predicted our coming? We are the servants who have been beaten to the point of being willing to stand against our masters. Our time is fast approaching. The hippies of the sixties were only the first wave. The next will be greater, stronger, and less peaceful. Peace must sometimes be achieved through war, and a war is coming.
I’ve made it a mile from the bus stop now. The restaurants and gas stations have started to fade away. Every now and then a corner store pops up in front of me, but nothing more. I remove the gram of cocaine from my pocket and shove a finger into the bag. I bring the white powdery substance up to my nose and am met with an interesting thought.
Many people in the world would certainly view me as a lesser person because of the action in which I’m now engaging. That is absurd. I haven’t done cocaine in nearly two and a half months. My life does not revolve around it. I haven’t sold a wife and child to get more of it. I’ve never force-fed it to any unwilling ‘innocents’. I wouldn’t let an old pedophile fuck me for another line. Yet I’ll still be seen as a criminal by the society, simply because I do what I want to my body. The government wants to own me like a prized pig? Too bad. I’m not their bacon.
It’s bullshit. My body is my body, it isn’t theirs. I am not their piece of property. I am no serf under the rule of a feudal duke. I hope that this ridiculous statist nonsense will soon become outdated. Thankfully I will soon be dead. I won’t have to live under tyrant rule ever again.
Sweet beautiful nothingness is fast approaching, and I will soon be going home to the depths of the void…but not just yet. Shneef! The blowcaine shnoots up my shnozzle. My pace instantly quickens. The sun shines bright and happily, smiling down upon me. Hooray!
“I’m off to see my daddy, my rapist daddy of Oz! Because, because, because, because, because…because of the horrible things he does!” I sing it to the tune of that one song from the land of Oz. Skip, skip, skippity-skip, I’m skipping along the road! The road? The road! This is doing for me what all of my past attempts at being anti-depressed were unable to accomplish. Shneef! I’m halfway from the bus stop to my childhood home. Likewise, my shneefing dust is halfway gone. I feel like the Road Runner from Looney Tunes. Meep meep! Meepity meep!
I zoom, zoom, zoom away from civilization, drawing ever nearer to my unfortunate destination. I’m quite certain that I look like a raving looney as I frillicky-frolic my way into the lands of the uneducated. I’m not far from daddy’s humble homely housing. Only a mile or so still stands between us.
“The clock is ticking. Tick tock.” Shadowshade is happy to remind me, but he’s right. It is. Just ahead of me, there stands a group of people. Three of them. They’re just standing there squabbling on the side of the road. I draw closely closer and discover two men and a woman who all seem to be around my age. Shall I venture over to them and give them my salutations? Why not? Live like it’s your last day on earth, right?
“Goodafternevening, citizens!” I loudly introduce myself. All three of them look rather intoxified.
“Ya piece a’ shit!” A white guy in a wife beater and athletic shorts is squealing at another white guy in a wife beater and athletic shorts. The screaming fellow was bald and the receiver of the scream had curly brown hair that was covered in a week’s worth of…something incredibly disgusting. This is how I could tell the two apart.
“Stupid shit!” M. has risen from the dark corners of my mind to degrade me once more. Her accent is far easier to understand then his is, but I wish that it wasn’t. It was too bad that Father didn’t live in the city. That would’ve made this a lot easier.
“Whose baby is it?” I ask, noticing the bulge in the girl’s stomach. She’s wearin’ a T-shirt ‘n’ jeans ‘n’ shmokin’ onna cigarette. The smoke floats back up into her straightened dirty-blonde hair, and her flip-flop covered feet flip and flop in place upon the blacktop. How long before her soles go up in flames?
Her cigarette makes me want one. That’s a common problem with cigarettes. If you’re a smoker then you probably want one right now too. Cigarette. Cigarette. It’s okay, smokers. I’ll still be here when you get back. I’d like to have a Marlboro anything please, waiter, but hold the baby mama drama. I’m convinced that this redneck raucous is exactly that. All three of them turn and stare at me in unison.
“I do believe you can do a paternity test done once the baby is born, if it’s unclear who’s…”
“Who the hell are you?” Mister Shit-Hair asks while scratching his unkempt grizzly beard and fishing around in his pocket for a cigarette of his own. Her cigarette is making him want one. That’s a common problem with cigarettes…
“Oh, I’m just a random gallivanting ‘sociopath’.” I make sure to use my beloved finger quotation marks when I say ‘sociopath’.
“Wha-? Galahad who?” Mister Buzzcut asks, and it sounds like ‘Gallerhad’.
“The baby is mine!” All three of them announce it. Only one of them can be sure.
“This is quite the predicament!” I exclaim in melodramatic surprise.
“Mmm, Dodge!” Scéléra’s pleased moaning voice flies through my unsuspecting brain. Super. Fucking super! Super-duper! She and Dodge Davis are both dead now, but the mental image of them fucking is permanently burned into my subconscious. I never saw it, but I didn’t have to. I guess I can empathize with these good ol’ boys in at least one way. The imagination can be truly horrifying.
My vague understanding of their present emotions isn’t really enough to make me give a shit about them. My life is about to end. I think they’re probably doing a little better than I am, but perhaps an early death is something to be envied.
“I think Solomon had the right idea,” I think back to my days of non-consensual churching with Anthony and Cindy. “Once she delivers, just cut it into three pieces! You can all get a chunk! Better yet, slice and dice it up like a pepperoni pizza so all of the other potential sperm donors can have a bite too.”
“What the fuck didja just say?” The buzz cut boy is livid. Why is it so easy to push people’s buttons? It’s truly remarkable. The other guy seems to be more amused than offended, but he’s clearly sky high on some decent Kush. The angry one is probably tweaking.
“Nobody’s cutting up my baby!” The girl seems displeased with my suggestion. I suppose that’s a good thing.
“Not until it’s older and it pays someone for knife play,” S. whispers in a playful voice. Maybe I said it too, for their expressions seem very uninviting…even less inviting than they seemed before.
“The bottom line is that you’re mine. You have to be with me! You have no choice!” Both men bark the same command as they turn and face her. Obviously they don’t really give a shit about her. They’re so ridiculously chauvinistic that they would rob her of the right to make her own choices. Society has done the very same to me and those closest to me far too often.
They remind me of the cops at the protest massacre that I dreamed about the night before, violently prohibiting choice. At least they aren’t killing anyone who refuses to thoughtlessly do the bidding of the state. I’ve lost respect for all three of them, the men for being pigs and the woman for being so enthralled with pigs. Perhaps the time has come for me to continue on my way.
“This has been a lovely chat! Madame, I hope that in the future you will find a companion who will acknowledge your free will. It’s the twenty-first century, you know. I hope you can find someone who realizes that you’re more than an object that one can possess.”
“I’ll call yer momma!” The tweaking hick yells at Shit-Hair. How could this possibly be any of his mother’s business? These supposedly grown men are no different than kindergarteners tattle-telling on each other for biting. They’re making me feel more confident about my plans. When I’m dead I’ll never have to think about the fact that Tweedle-dumb and Tweedle-dumber are out there having stupid bitch fit pissing contests in the street.
“She’s mine!” They both scream at each other while I skip away. I’m beginning to feel at least a little sorry for her. Maybe they’ve taught her to believe that being treated like this is what she deserves. I still have no time to waste on any of them, not on my last day. Sorry, but not sorry. I dump the last of the cocaine into the palm of my hand and shneef it all up. Bing! The hillbilly hullaballoo is filed into a drawer somewhere in the part of my mind labelled ‘irrelevant shit’ and I skip down the street once more.
“Where are we going?” A young girl asks me. Her voice is unforgettable. It washes over me like a torrential waterfall. It saturates my skin until I wonder why my fingers don’t feel like wrinkly prunes.
“You know where we’re going, Anna.” She does, but she doesn’t want to. Her terror shows in her eyes.
“No, Tristan! No! We can’t go there! It’s a bad place! Let’s turn around and go back the other way! Why do you think we ran away? So we could come back? No! I don’t want to see him. Please, I don’t want to play daddy with Daddy. I don’t want to. I don’t want to…”
I gently gaze into the beautiful eyes that I remember so well, those sparkling sapphires, and understand why she is so disturbed. The same fear once glittered in my own eyes, but we’re safe now. I’m not going to let him hurt either of us ever again. I am Ivan the Terrible. I will be the last face that Father sees.
“I won’t let him hurt you, Anna. He can’t hurt us anymore.” I look over at the green leafy tree line on the other side of the road. It seems that I’ve seen it before, but why?
“Look! Lookie-look!” She points right at the place where I’m looking.
“What? What is it?”
“The trees! They’re the trees we ran to. We ran through the darkness and the dampness and slushed through the grass and the leaves. We ate the grass. We fell down.” And so they are. It all revisits me…the taste of the grass and the terrible darkness. We were so naïve and afraid. Why did Mother try to kill us? We couldn’t understand why, back then. We were so young, so in love.
“Anna, listen to me. We’re done running away.” I mean it. I am done. I’m done running.
“Look, look how the broken boy has grown! Long ago he ran away, but now he’s coming home.” Shadowshade has become sort of a scribe or troubadour, a medieval bard who tags along inside of my mind instead of on the road behind me. He chants the tales of my exploits in ways that are odd and often unsettling. “Are you truly not afraid to die?” He has always been adept at asking the troubling questions.
He’s like an ethereal demonic psychologist gone mad. Maybe I’ve gone mad too, if madness is actually real. Maybe it is simply defined by prevailing cultural opinions about what sanity and insanity look like. There’s a giant list of those ideas listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Why are society’s guesses and attitudes considered concrete enough to be allowed to shape the lives of so very many people? I have no interest in taking part in a world like that.
“I suppose I’m afraid in some ways. I’m afraid to never think another thought, to never see another sight, to never hear another sound. I don’t believe I’ll be going to heaven or hell, but I might relive some memories. Maybe I’ll find them skewed in a positive or negative way. That may be what my heaven and hell are, apart from things to think about to ease the process of dying.
“I’m afraid of the unknown. I’m afraid of ceasing to exist. It’s just that living in this dreadful plane of existence frightens me more than death ever could. I’m more scared by the thought of continuing to live.
“I’m ready for the constraint and servitude to be over. I’m ready to stop living in a land that tries to force me to be a slave to the state. I’m ready to stop having to run away. I’m ready to leave all of it behind. I’m expected to spend my incredibly short time on planet earth in whatever way a government that only cares about what I can do for it sees fit. There are no foolish laws to abide by in death. There’s “nothing to get hung about”, as Lennon would say. There is no nation that governs the void. I will finally know peace.”
“I see,” he answers. “How do you expect the transition from life to death to be?” His interview wasn’t quite over.
“It’ll certainly be splendiferous, positively scrumdiddlyumptious.”
“Maybe, as I exhale my final breath, it will seem as if I never really existed at all…like life has been merely a show on reality TV that isn’t being renewed for another season. It is sort of like that in a way, with its scripts and manners, expected patterns of behavior, creeds and regulations, rituals and ceremonies. I open and close my eyes, but I can never be sure that what I see is really there.
“Maybe I’m only a rolling camera, along for the ride, shooting random collections of molecules in a small corner of a microscopic piece of the cosmos. Soon my lens will go dark. Maybe we’re only in a “dream within a dream”. I did always like Poe. I’ve only lived for less than a quarter of a century. I’m just a tiny blip on eternity’s timeline.”
“But perhaps your influence on the world will transcend your tiny blip. There is always a chance, regardless of whether you’re there to see it happen.”
“One can only hope.”
“…Sir Jumpsalot.” A new voice calls out to me. It calls so airily, so fairily, that there is only one person who it could possibly be. Veia and Anna are both with me now. In some ways, they have been for years. Veia doesn’t look like the girl I remember anymore. Her skin is as white as paper, and the frog shirt that she’s still wearing is torn to shreds. One of her eyes has been blackened. Blood obscures her pale face and runs down her arms before drizzling onto her shivering legs. She looks the way she looked on the table in Dee Gaggles’ forest hideaway, the night she was laid on top of it. Veia…come back, please. I’ll do anything. I’ll do anything at all.
“I’m sorry.” I kiss away the blood that stains her cheeks. “I’m so sorry. I would have never let you go if I knew this was going to happen.” She gently clasps her hand around mine.
“I know, love, but I still would have wanted to go. They were us, you know? Those people who fell there, they were ours. They were me. They were you. The captain goes down with the ship, yes? You weren’t the only captain. Co-captain Veia couldn’t sit back and watch her crew sink alone. I wanted to mean something.”
“You mean everything to me.” She smiles brightly as I say this. She’s still so incredibly beautiful, even with all of her present ultra-goriness. No one can compare to Veia. Not Anna, not Scéléra, not anyone in the world.
“Ribbit,” she says softly. “I’m a fuckin’ frog. Hippity-hop.” My heart might stop. “Kill the shit out of that son of a bitch when you get there.” I blow out an anxious breath that turns into a cheery chuckle.
“That’s a fantastic idea! There’s a gun in my pocket, after all.”
“Eeehee! We have a winnah! Hoozah!” She’s almost as excited about it as I am. “And then you’ll get to come along with me.” Can that happen? Can you really join someone in the afterlife? I doubt it, but I’d be happy to be wrong. She grabs me, pulls me in, and we share a kiss that lasts as long as those that we shared in high school. I remember back then, when a make-out session could boil our blood like a night of wild fiery sex would now. It’s perfect.
“Tsk, tsk,” she says in a loopy voice. Her tongue pokes out and she runs it back and forth across her lips. “You’ve numbed me, Mister Terrible. How terrible you are! Do you have any more?” But alas, I do not.
“We’re almost there. We’re almost to Daddy’s,” Anna announces anxiously. She’s right. We’re definitely out in the country now; the houses have steadily grown fewer and farther between. Soon I’ll be face to face with the man who I haven’t seen in a decade, the one who ‘loved’ his children so.
You’re okay. This is the game that all daddies and their little boys and girls play together. It’s supposed to hurt the first time. After that it’ll get easier, better, more fun to play. It’s so fun to play daddy with your daddy, see? That voice ringing in my head, Father’s voice…it is forever frozen in my mind. I can almost smell the twelve-pack of PBR on his breath, the only thing he ever used to clean his teeth. I have finally come home. Daddy will be playing my game this time.