Recorded by Matt

Recorded

Wait, hold on. There’s something important on here.

[Male Voice 1]: -ait. What?

(A few loud, fumbling clips)

[Male Voice 2]: Just speak-

(Incomprehensible over the sound of wind and agitated plastic)

[Male Voice 1]: -into here?

[Male Voice 2]: Yeah.

(Pause)

[Male Voice 1]: Just the first thing on my mind.

[Male Voice 2]: Yep. That. Or anything. (Pause) I just want you to document

what you’re doing. Your thoughts, conversations, anything. (Pause) I’m just

trying to get insight into-

[Male Voice 1]: Stop talking at me.

(Voices in the distance and wind)

[Male Voice 1]: And you’re looking at me weird. It’s like you want me to give

you something.

[Male Voice 2]: I’m sorry about that, brother. I’m just anxious, you know?

(Pause)

[Male Voice 2]: Not anxious. I mean eager. I think… I just mean-

[Male Voice 1]: (interrupting) Can I walk away? There aren’t any words here.

[Male Voice 2]: (Uneasily) Alright. Just don’t run off with it. You’ve only got

two hours of space.

[Male Voice 1]: (Distractedly) Trust me, Kyle.

[Kyle]: (muffled further off) Be back at 3!

I later found out his name wasn’t Kyle. He later found out he couldn’t trust me. You can

learn a lot in Ann Arbor.

There were a lot of things going through my mind at this point, but none of them were

vectoring in any particular direction. Daylight has a profound effect on me that way. I

can’t see a thing when I’m thinking straight at the sun. Dr. Searle didn’t know what he

was talking about. I used to really like Danny Boyle’s films, but after you watch them a

few hundred times in your head, they start to get old. I’ve gotten good at making up my

own dialogue when that happens.

At this point I started walking toward the Cube. I planned to turn up toward NYPD, and

then back down toward Packard on that one other road to lose anyone who was following

me. No one’s ever done it in the past, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Regardless,

plans suck.

After a dozen or so steps I got distracted because I forgot what I was doing and was

entertained by the recorder. As I tossed it back and forth between my hands, I enjoyed

the fact that it had a good solid mass for its size and that it had a shiny blue scratchresistant

cover. Durable and pretty. Like an electric seashell. There should be some

money in it. Judging by the weird assembly of letters on the battery case, it was made in

one of those Asian countries that I used to play bad video games from. Kyle or Kevin or

whoever said he’d give me ten dollars if I did recording with it, but I thought I could get

more money from the recorder itself. People buy things like this.

(Incomprehensible noises)

[Male Voice 1]: -uck. Wait. Son of-

(Incomprehensible noises)

I thought I was thinking out loud so I tried to turn off the tape recorder not knowing that

it was off already. Lots of things have too many buttons, and none of them are ever

labeled “Do Exactly What You Want Me To Do.” I tried to patent that idea a few years

back, but evidently “patent” and “pavement” aren’t spelled the same way, and you don’t

get partial credit for getting the “I’d like to apply for a” part right.

Unfortunately, there are very few places to unload stolen property in a high-class college

town so lauded by the AARP. At least it was all ubiquitously laudatastic when I still

went here. It’s been a while since I’ve sat near a psychiatrist’s waiting room magazine

rack that contained a relevant headline. Maybe there was a big problem at some point

that made this place really bad somehow. It certainly doesn’t feel that different though.

I’ve learned that people grow up but conversations tend to stay the same age.

Selectively passionate frat guy is really pissed off at being paired with fat sorority for

Greek Week. Girl with relationship problems gets too drunk at party, hooks up with

douchey guy, regrets it, and does it again two days later. Roommate 1 is annoying

Roommate 2 by not cleaning up after himself. Roommate 2 hates his pulsating orifice of

a roommate. That guy just spat on the ‘M.’ These squirrels are too fat. That bum is

staring at me.

[Female Voice IDC]: That bum is staring at me.

[Male Voice 1]: I think he just wants some change.

[Female Voice IDC]: Oh my God. He...

[Male Voice 1]: I know.

[Female Voice IDC]: No. Just no.

[Male Voice 1]: I know.

That bum really just wanted some change. He subsequently felt unwanted.

At this point I was hungry. It’s not a pleasant feeling, but not a particularly relevant one

either. It just means that at this precise moment I wanted food more than I wanted any

other particular thing. That balance shifts eventually. I just have to wait it out. Kurt told

me that if I brought the recorder back in one piece with anything of value on it, he would

buy me dinner as a thank you. I’d like to think my silent, acquiescent nodding made the

point that if he thought value would come from involving me in anything he was doing

that his standards were despicably low and that I was staring at him from the bottom of

the very tall cliff he was standing on.

[Male Voice 1]: Hey!

(Footsteps interspersed with unrecognizable dialogue)

[Male Voice 1]: Hey! Has anyone ever told you you’re too blonde for your own

good?

(Footsteps)

[Male Voice 1]: Hi! Hey there!

This was an effort to make friends. I don’t interact with the ugly ones. It just comes off

as sarcastic. This goes on for a while. You should fast forward.

You can make quite a bit of money from people giving it to you, and I’ve learned that

friends are the best people to ask for that kind of thing. I recently became distressed six

years ago when my buddies got tired of loaning me money without ever getting anything

in return except another chance to loan me money. I decided then and there that I would

change my life. I’d get new friends.

The other side of the coin, and I can use that colloquialism because my day to day life

clings to its vehicle, is that you can make more money by just taking it. But that often

devolves into a foot chase with authority figures and/or so-called Good Samaritans, and

these shoes are not in the same condition that they were fifteen months ago when I

bought them for free off of a shelf in a store with a neon high-top on the front when no

one was looking. I vowed to pay them back, but the closest I ever got was throwing a

beer bottle through their front window. That was 10 cents fewer, assuming the barcode

stayed intact. Random good deeds like that get me through the day. Giving. It’s

important.

Fuck.

[Male Voice 1]: Food. (Pause) Food. (Pause) Food. (Pause) Food. (Carried

on ad infinitum/for a quarter hour)

A few people were in a similarly altruistic mood, and I made a little less than 5 bucks in

about 15 minutes in announcing a syllable. I was satisfied. It’s the week before finals, so

people tend to deign a bit more. They want that karmic smiley-face in their back pocket

when they sit down to take that all-important test that they’ll forget about as soon as they

start studying for the next iteration. I suppose it says little about me in ravenously

vacuuming dubious donation in other peoples’ time of distress, but then again it says less

about other people believing that things actually happen for a reason. More so that they

can manipulate those reason-based things by basic socialist monetary morality. God,

college kids are idiots.

Fuck.

Speaking of which, I should probably tell you how I met Kyle. Kendall. How I met

Keith in the first place. It’s a small and useless anecdote and I don’t care to retain this

information after I give it to you. It’s yours now and don’t even try giving it back or I’ll

react harshly in the form of aggressive physical incomprehensibility. I guess he’s trying

to do research on homeless people in Ann Arbor. He explained to me that he had planned

to spend a week living as a bum, a “Tenant of Transitional Territory,” or a Triple-T as he

called it, in hopes of having an intrepid, fearless account of that horrible-so-horrible life.

He was unmoved when I responded by calling him a Tremendously Terrific Twat.

Perhaps that was because I never actually called him that but only came up with it 3

hours later and subsequently forgot after 5 minutes of accomplished giggling. He seemed

like the kind of guy who would have an ex-wife someday.

[Male Voice 1]: (falsetto) Hey Max, have I left you yet? (as close to gruffly as

possible) Yes. (satisfied falsetto) Good, cause I’ve been meaning to.

Ignore that.

I had convinced him that he was not of the fortitude to live homeless. I didn’t do this so

much with words as with the simple force of shoving him out from under my West Quad

awning on a particularly ghastly April night. I’ve always been pretty persuasive. He

called me a miscreant and ran home with his leather jacket and designer rain boots taking

on far too much water for their glittery construction. They were probably ruined so I was

going to take them from him next time I saw them.

In retrospect, there were a few points worth making that I probably didn’t get across in

repeatedly shoving his face into a puddle while asking for an ever-increasing number of

cigarettes that he swore he didn’t have despite the obvious taste I got from giving reverse

CPR. Specifically, homeless isn’t something you choose to be. It’s not even something

you are, in so simple a sense. It’s just another quality in your life that you have to

mitigate. I’m going to have a home someday, but that day just isn’t today. I mean, yes,

today I don’t have a housal area, but I’m not forever housebarren. I’m a person before

I’m a homeless person. I remember watching Bubbles shoot up heroin and scrape for

cash by stealing copper plumbing and pulling capers on the unsuspecting public. For

whatever reason, I would think to myself back then that I wouldn’t want to live that kind

of life, but that I probably could. And so I have. I guess I’m cut from that cloth. Kyle

just isn’t. He isn’t a lot of things. Too bad dumbass isn’t one of them.

[Male Voice 1]: Kyle can break. Kyle has always been broken. Kyle can break,

but Kyle has always been broken. Kyle is broken, but Kyle can still break. Kyle

can break, so Kyle will probably break. Kyle will…

It was unfortunately dry out a few days later when he tracked me down to buy me a

sandwich and discuss his grand thesis. I ordered roast beef. I got turkey. After

apologizing for the earlier night, he implored my help. I laughed expressionlessly. He

orgasmed on: “Your world fascinates me. There is something innately and more

intensely human and yet somehow animalistic in the way you live. I want to bring that

lifestyle to the public. I want to highlight your plight.” He stifled a self-aggrandizing grin

at his inadvertent rhyme. “Since I can’t do it myself. I want you to be my eyes and ears

– my conduit.” I stared at him until he seemed to stop talking. The word “okay” came

out of my mouth. I was satisfied at its appearance in that particular circumstance and

nodded at its birth in approval.

He excitedly laid out the terms of the world. His first idea was to pay me ten dollars a

day for two hours of recording my doings on a school-owned video camera. I explained

to him that that was less than minimum wage by taking three rapid inhalations of my

sandwich but subsequently stated that I would still be okay with it by belching a few

strands of shredded lettuce onto his previously white shirt. I didn’t feel bad because it

was clearly bought in a cheap set with a blazer and pants that he had either grown out of

or mistaken for a themed bathroom towel collection.

He said we would use an mp3 recorder instead in response. We agreed to meet the next

day which was yesterday but today as far as that interruptive voice is concerned.

He wanted to start a little charitable fellowship. I could tell. He wanted to be able to tell

stories about his interaction with me in med-school interviews. He wanted to say how he

made my life accessible in its tragedy to all who cared to know. He wanted to be able to

say how he bettered me as a person by helping me come to grips with who and, more

importantly in his mind, what I was: homeless. If all went well, I was a pretty project. If

all went perfectly, I’d be dead by the time he started talking about this, so he wouldn’t

have to think of me within the frame of humanity since my practical capital was worn out

within his incredible magnanimous effort. More importantly, he wouldn’t need to cite his

corpsetastic source.

Fuck the guy. He was kind of annoying, so I refused to let this process work on his

terms. I was going to return the recorder with nothing but the requisite two hours in

blank audio.

[Male Voice 1]: (In a bad imitation of a Brit doing a bad imitation of an

American accent) For seven years I spoke with God. He had a very childish sense

of humor, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that. I’m still trying to work up

the courage. Go back to your ship. This is me-time.

Coincidentally, I’ve learned that I have the best relationships with people who don’t care

if I say anything. Once I make some new friends, they’ll all be either egregiously

talkative or deaf.

And they’ll buy me a lot of food because I suck at doing it myself. Money doesn’t fold

evenly into pockets that don’t exist, and people look at you weird when you order food

and then respond to the request for payment by groping at your ass for five minutes.

Peter Cook is funny. I used to have a small, tan purse that I elected to keep my cash in,

but I got rid of it when I realized that it detracted from my credibility and that it’d been

taken by violent force in a skirmish with a belligerent third-year football player who

blamed my “queer shit” for his latest loss to the upstart Indiana team that fall. I think he

was either a halfback or a goalie.

I hid from this memory by skirting into an underused sidewalk. I might be able to call it

an alley, but I’m not sure what the exact definition of that word is, and I don’t want to

sound like an idiot. I think I was trying to seek out a guy I know named Red, though that

wasn’t actually his name. I started calling him that years ago because I shrewdly made

the connection that he was the equivalent of his given namesake from that movie with the

guy from that one scene in Anchorman where Brick killed a guy with a trident. Crazy

shit. Most of my character references come from films because I’ve never really read

enough. Shawshank Redemption was actually a book before it was a movie, but I don’t

know that. Actually, I don’t know more things than I know.

But yeah. Red. He wasn’t the guy who could get things; he was the guy who could get

rid of things, and I thought this piece of electronics could be valuable. And generally he

was just a nice guy to know. Salt of the earth, so to speak, despite the fact that he’s the

kind of person who would start a sentence with the phrase “I’m not racist, but…” I found

out later that he’d been dead for 3 years, so I can’t really be too mad at myself for not

finding him.

That suddenly became irrelevant because at this moment I thought it would be

entertaining to pretend that I was a narrator of a wild safari through a strange land. It’s

fun to pretend. It helps to think of my life in terms of a movie or game or something.

This way my actions can beget consequences only within the governance of some

fanciful, fictional sandbox where people and feelings can be played with but not broken

in any way. It’s all a practice run for the big scene later when somebody says “Okay,

your life actually starts now. Focus this time.”

I can’t be certain I thought I was pretending or if I actually believed it for the time being,

but if nothing else I killed off some of the stupid minutes between lunchtime and dark.

You can’t really appreciate the beauty of a cloudless afternoon or a sublime sunset when

that same asshole sun has been slapping your face red all day.

And then words erupted.

[Male Voice 1] This species is an interesting species. You can see them act as

they do without trying very hard. They tend to stay toward the right side of stuff

when they move unless they’re in England. That one over there has a red baseball

cap. He probably likes that color or that color holds some significance to a team

or thing he likes. He is walking at nearly the same speed as everyone else toward

something. All these people are going somewhere. The Cosmological Principle

kind of says that on a big enough scale everything looks the same to everyone.

That seems dumb at first glance or hear or whatever, but it sort of makes sense

after a while. Red-hat-guy is gone but now there is another guy in a red hat

walking in the same direction but few minutes later than Red-Hat-Guy-1. That

looks the same. I guess when you consider every single instance on its own, it’s

hard to view it as something general, but you have to in order make stuff work. In

the long term, you can’t remember every instance exactly how it was at the time,

so you have to generalize it to retain some part of it. More people are walking

here. None of them are interesting because none of them are all that unique in

their differences. They’re blurring together. I’m no longer seeing people walking

somewhere; I’m seeing the process of walk. Every person I see is rolling through

the rut that was occupied by the person before him. I kind of want to throw a

penny into their little river to see the ripple effect of a few of them ducking out of

the way of the sound of pling. This is uncanny. It’s almost inhuman. Everyone

passing is thinking on a local level that what he is doing is unique to him, but

within the context of the world he’s in, he’s just another collection of molecules

sent flying by the big bang. It’s almost frightening seeing what we consider hardto-

explain human higher-processes like free will, and choice, and social constructs

fit far more simply into basic animal or physical realities like instinct or

determinism or absolute reality. On a large enough scale, we’re all the exact

same. I could almost write a story about the absurdity of it all. I even have the

first line. Silver Pontiac! Barrel Roll! Barrel Ro-

(Noises of violent interchange between man and ground)

At this point I dove into a nearby canopy of sharp branches and caustic leaves. I saw a

car I recognized. At least I recognized a quality that set off an alarm of nausea in my gut.

My mom used to drive something similar, and I don’t want her to see me. It’s probably

best if she thinks I’m not alive in the first place, and I don’t want to bitch out that bliss.

No, that wasn’t her exact car from what I remember, but I’m pretty sure she’d stick with

that type of model. Familiarity. That’s just the general animalistic quality of man. On a

large enough scale, everything makes me hate myself.

Black SUVS and red convertibles are also bad. Trust me. There’s a reason.

(several loud thumps followed by hyperventilation)

[Male Voice 1]: Alright. (pant) Okay. I’m safe in this bush. The thorns hurt like

hell, but it’s probably worse for anyone who might want to come pull me out of

here who isn’t used to indescribable physical horror. I think I’m safe in pain. I

like safe. I think I’m going to take a nap.

(47 minutes of silence interspersed with unintelligible conversation, wind, and

grating snores)

[Male Voice IDK2]: Hey man, are you alright? Hey, dude…

[Male Voice 1]: (Incomprehensible screaming)

[Male Voice IDK2]: Holy shit! Why’d you do- Hey! Why’d you… (fading into

the distance) He just broke my nose! What the hell? Did you guys…

(rapid footsteps and car horns)

Yeah. I punched him in the face a little bit. Right in the face. Hell yeah. If I still had

friends, I would probably take some time to hardcore it up a bit and make myself sound

like a badass before I divulged. Unfortunately, I neither have buddies nor time, so the

story will remain a hit and run for as long as my memory allows. I’m surprised it’s

gotten this far.

To be fair, I just woke up, and I couldn’t really stop myself. To be more fair, I doubt that

would have made a difference. I always had random impulses I’ve had to suppress like

“Your mouth feels weird; spit on the floor,” or “That newscaster looks like an ass; kick a

hole in that TV” or “That guy next to you pulled up a bit to close to the light; flip him off

and yell. Just yell. Call him an asshole. He can’t hear you, but that’s not nearly as

important as you saying it. Scream the word ‘fuck’ now as loud as you can. Well done!”

One day I stopped suppressing one of them. One day I stopped suppressing them all.

And presently, not reacting to surprise with absurd physical violence seems dishonest in

some way. And lying is bad.

No. I would never qualify it as insanity, just reflexive irrationality.

I needed to go somewhere. I ran until I walked.

[Male Voice 1]: (gasping) Jesus. (panting) Okay. (breathing heavily) Alright.

Good. You’re safe now. Let’s keep walking now, dude. This sidewalk has a nice

even grade, so you should be able to keep this momentum going for a while. I

know that bench. There’s another one coming up soon too and it has fewer

scratches. This is comfortable. It’s nice. It’s real. Everything here is beautiful

and - Holy hell. Roadkill. Lovely. Going back the other way now. I don’t

remember anything smashed over there. Bye, badger corpse. …Racoon…

This ruined my entire plan of ducking behind Pizza House to make delicious use of its

dumpsters. Fun fact: that restaurant is now in the Guinness Book of World Records for

being the only two-floor eatery to take up an entire city block. I like to think that I played

some part in that even though I quite definitely didn’t.

[Male Voice 1]: Let’s see what the diag has to offer.

(Pause)

(Footsteps and indistinct voices)

[Male Voice 1]: No more games. No more bombs. No more walking. No more

fun. No more games. No more bombs. No more walking. No more fun. No

more games. No more…

When I get bored, I tend to just say this to myself and walk in rhythm to it until I get to

the place I stop. I didn’t stop in the diag. I kept on. I saw Maude Lang. Simultaneously,

I saw that guy who wanted something from me. I reacted. I ran to water and stretched.

There was a pretty pathetic look of terror on Korey’s face as I held the tape recorder out

over the fountain. I stood with my legs riveted together with my other hand out to keep

balance. It probably looked pretty crucifixical from a distance, but people never see me

anyway, and at a glance Kirk probably seemed far more wretched. This probably looked

like we were filming a movie. No one looked at either of us as they walked by. And I

didn’t really want to look at him. I was ashamed of being seen with him. I looked at

other stuff around his face in the guise of eye-contact.

[Male Voice 1]: I changed my mind. I want $20, Korbin.

[“Kyle”]: I only have $10 on me, but I swear I’ll get you another $10. Please.

Just don’t drop it, brother.

[Male Voice 1]: Show me your wallet then. I want $25, Korcavity. (Pause) And

a car.

[“Kyle”]: (In disbelief) Why are you doing this? (Stammering) I’m giving you

free money. I’m trying to help you. I’m paying you for doing exactly what you

always do. (In desperate pride) I’m doing you a favor.

At this point, I recoiled on instinct. I fell from the fountain, took a minute to find my

balance, and ran shoulder-first through him. I think he bled. Not to say that there wasn’t

truth in his statement, but the thought that people should be immune to bad things

because they do good things hurts. And the thought that he thought he was special for

helping me out and not taking the normal route of just walking by me as sat on the edge

of the sidewalk with my hand out hurt in a different direction. And the general concept

of doing ten dollars of charity work and celebrating it with an eighty dollar bar tab kicked

my soul in the taint. Holy god damn hell. The world is wrong and I’m the broken

variable.

I need to run. I’m a wounded animal clambering to sanctuary. A squirrel running from a

bigger squirrel with a knife and a catalogue of stabby words. It doesn’t need to make

sense to be real.

I’m disoriented. I tried to run far, far away but soon realized that all I had done was run a

lap around a block and came back to exactly where I just was. I looked around in a

panic. Luckily it seemed that Kia had walked away himself, no doubt to confess to his

professor that he had given a $100+ piece of school equipment to a crazy homeless guy

who he’d spoken to twice all the while hoping that he could draw some sort of sympathy

with his recent flesh wounds. I wasn’t as entertained by this thought as I usually would

be. I’ve always found a small joy in seeing someone get what’s coming to them for

trusting a person they should know to be an untrustworthy jackass. I guess actually being

that jackass is a slight detriment to the occasion.

I was breathing quickly and decided to lie down.

Sometimes when I get this way a nice thing in my mouth sings me a lullaby at varying

volumes. This day I was lucky enough to have it come out in a whisper which is good,

because most people around me tend to be put off by the voice when it’s yelling in

unsustainable abandon.

[Male Voice 1] (in and out of tune) Be calm / Be calm / I know you feel like you

are breaking down / Well I know that it gets so hard sometimes / Be Calm / Take

it from me I’ve been there a thousand times / You hate your pulse because it still

thinks you’re still alive / And everything’s wrong / It just gets so hard sometimes /

Be calm / Be calm

At this point I was contemplating taking a nap on the sidewalk when I looked up.

[Male Voice 1]: Hahaha! Ha!

[Male Voice 5]: (disgustedly in the distance) Jesus Christ.

[Male Voice 1]: (away from recorder) No, it’s not you. It’s just a joke. I had a

few friends here at one point who used to really think this time was important.

They would look at each other and smile when they saw it, and dance to an

Aquabats song sometimes. It was just a funny thing to be around. I guess you

had to be there. Hey! Pay attention, dicktwister! I’M ME AND MY HAIR

DOESN’T EXIST! Wait…Don’t ever say that again. It makes no sense.

I can’t remember exactly what word I was saying when I realized he was out of earshot,

but I kept wording stuff outloud because sentences are hard to control when they get

started. You’ve already kicked over that tower on your little cousin’s sand castle. You

might as well squash the king and use its corpse to fill in the moat.

Anyways, I was laughing because I saw the Bell Tower, and it was 4:20, and I had a

vague sensation that at one point that was significant to me. I laugh when that happens

except sometimes I cry or kick things.

[Male Voice 1]: I’m not tired.

I was tired.

I made the move toward the more residential area of this area. I would like some

semblance of a bed, and if not that then a roof, and if not that than an extension of at least

a foot off of one.

It’s a pretty simple process finding shelter when you need it. Frat houses are good. Or

apartment complexes. Pretty much any place with a lot of occupants. A person starts to

not care about security when he’s not the only one who is insecure. You need to aim for

the weakness, the flashy part on the starfox boss.

You walk. You trip. You get up. You smell smoke. You see an incorrectly-put-out

bonfire and search for marshmallows or hotdogs that may have been mistaken for

charcoal. You find an ill-used cigarette butt. You inhale as if it’s your own soul. You

enjoy the fact that one of your addictions is sated.

So I, like most people in my situation would, took to worshipping fire for a couple

minutes. I actually saw a picture of myself in the Michigan Daily today attributing my

joyous, rhythmic calisthenics to some sort of republican cult ritual. Evidently my armflailing

spelled out G.L.E.N.N.B.E.C.K. in Morse code somehow.

I heard he died a few years back. Something about a studio accident where he pretended

to hang himself in some entertaining allegory to the effect of American society killing

itself by embracing the idea of gay marriage. He was even wearing a jumpsuit showing a

purple map of all 49 states with a big black frowny-face where Nebraska used to be. He

really played the part well for an ale-addled apoplectic. He must have learned his chops

from those supporting roles in those John Cena movies. That fact doesn’t get the

attention it deserves, however, because apparently the knot in the noose was not false and

he actually hung there penduluming on camera for a little less than a half hour before

anyone caught on or at least thought it prudent to cut him down. The story goes that the

noose was rigged by a guy named Doubletex M. Chambers. Apparently, he was related

to Al Franken. He was arraigned on a count of first degree murder but was found not

guilty because everyone on the jury was related too. Justice is tricky.

I lost track of what I was doing so I made some tight circles within the process of

walking. I made the mistake of thinking. I rectified that by stopping. The funniest part

of all of this to me is missing things you'd never think you'd miss. That's not to say

things you took for granted, I mean things like videos of cats doing stupid shit. I mean

listening to a rendition of Cotton Eyed Joe and hating myself for doing it more than

hating myself for other reasons. I mean having the ability to make faces with my gut in

the mirror. I used to want to lose thirty pounds. Eighty pounds later, I’m cold.

[Male Voice 1] Aaaaugh. AAAAAAhhh. FFF--- God. GOD DAMN IT. Jesus.

AAAAUGHHH… why? AAugh… AAAAAAAA (Increasing volumes of desperate,

wretched screaming)

My god. I just want to sleep. Olivia and Cambridge used to hold some solace before it

was an apartment complex. That’s not working. I need to find a new soft spot.

I had a friend at Church and Willard and some point, but she’s been gone for a while.

Just, walk, dude, just, walk.

Pretend you’re asleep while taking steps. At worst you pass out upright and have a

satisfied hour or two unconscious on the pavement. And that’s hardly a bad thing at this

point. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot. Holy god, I want to rip my chest out. I want to

shove my neck through a bike rack and use the bars to gut my ribcage. I want to come

out the other side with nothing but head, arms, billowing skin, and the prospect of an end.

I want to be anyone but me and anywhere but here. My god it’s easy to sound edgy when

you talk about that kind of thing. All you need is self-harm in specific fashion. It’s

pathetic. I’m pathetic. Stop talking.

[Male Voice 1]: There’s a brown leaf on the ground. It’s not moving.

I think about death a lot. Usually it’s not a suicidal or melancholy thing. That’d just be

stupid. You don’t get poetic license when you hate poetry. To me it’s more of a

reminder. I’m alive. You have to be alive to die. In that way, I’m special. In that

special way, what I do can matter because I don’t think these things around me that look

like cleaner, prettier, varying versions of my reflection are robots.

I’ve never seen any of the Terminator movies all the way through.

There are a lot of movies I still want to see. The non-TNT-edited version of Shawshank

Redemption is up there. Four Lions, assuming it got a US release. That Kevin Smith

Porno movie with Darrell in it. Darryl? I don’t know. It’s been forever since I’ve seen a

Kevin Smith movie. I hope he’s still making them. When I get my own place, the first

thing I’m going to do is download a bunch of films and just sit in my living room

watching them for hours on end with only short breaks for bathroom, curry delivery guys,

and sleep.

It’s a beautiful, bare apartment with a big flatscreen on top of a cheap TV-stand across

from an ill-used pale-green chaise that was on clearance. The blinds are drawn. The

room is vaguely rectangular. There’s an achromatic poster on the wall, but I don’t know

what it’s of. The room’s neighbored by a full kitchen with a fridge occupied by half a

case of Guinness and a jar of horseradish. The only thing occupying the top level is a

small container of fresh parsley. I’m sure one day soon I’ll want to cook again, and

parsley will be involved. I miss the sweetness of caramelized onions. I think parsley

could help somehow.

I’m watching myself on the couch as the epileptic blue-ish light paints and erases itself

on and from the wall. I’m curled up in a gigantic quilt blanket that’s actually 4 blankets

sewn together because the one thing I think about out here is having a huge, smothering

cover that I can’t shiver or shake off because it hugs me manifold, and when I have my

own place I’ll be able to make that happen assuming I’ll be able to hold a sewing needle

more steadily than I imagine I can hold one now.

I’m still watching the lights. I’m cradling the large, jangling black can of imported stout

in my blanketed hands while lying on my side staring at the screen. I’m deliriously, yet

deliberately happy. I might have just won the lottery. I don’t know. I want to cry, but

those wasted fluids would just make me more dehydrated and hungover in the late

afternoon when I wake up, so I stop myself. I placate my emotion my kicking

unintelligibly at the ghost of my past all the while grinning and quaking in a manner the

exact opposite of wretchedly. I look back on what is now the present and tell myself it

was all worth it. This is what Edmund Burke called delight and he never imagined

anything as perfect as this. These calisthenics actually fucking mean something god

damn it. You’ll have your nook, Max. You’ll have your candle, whatever that fucking

means. I don’t know. But still. It means something. It means happiness. It does. It has

to.

This vision is a memory because I’ve had it before and I remember having it.

There are very few things I can say I remember since my downfall. Usually you don’t

take stock of what you remember because you just do. It’s there. You have it. That

doesn’t really make sense. It doesn’t need to make sense to be true.

I’m breathing a bit hard at this point. I remember. I remember the word “catharsis.” It

applies in this situation, right?

Okay.

So yeah. There’s a TV and a comfy me on a cheap couch. It’s decadence at its most

wrought. I want this to happen. Fuck. It’s going to happen this time. Focus, Matt.

You’re thinking straight. Goals. You have goals. Oh my God. Fuckin… Okay Shit.

Okay. Focus. Something good is happening. You need to get a job. You need to find…

whoa. Wait. Hahaha! Okay. How do I turn this thing on?

[Male Voice 1]: Okay, Matt. Okay. God damn it, you’re thinking straight.

Okay. Fuck. You’re in clarity now. Don’t lose it. You have a goal. How do

you get there? To get an apartment and a TV and a couch and four blankets and

sewing string, you need a source of income. You need to get a job. To get a job

you need qualifications. Work experience. A college degree. Terminal

associates degree. You have that kind of. Terminal associates.

[Male Voice IDK]: (in the distance)…to himself? (laughter) Shut up! The guy’s

talking to himself.

[Male Voice 1]: Damn it. Shut up. Terminal Associates. Termina…

[Male Voice IDK]: Hey, dude.

[Female Voice IDK]: (in the distance) Marc, just leave him alone.

[Male Voice IDK]: (Away from the recorder) I just want to talk to him. (toward

the recorder) Hey, dude. Who’re you talking to?

[Male Voice 1]: Fuck off, dickbasket. I’m recording.

[Male Voice IDK]: Recording, huh? Your hobo memoirs? Your uh… your

misanthrope memoirs?

(distant, stifled laughter)

[Male Voice 1]: Leave me alone.

(sounds of a brief physical struggle)

[Male Voice IDK]: Just hold… JUST HOLD ON!

[Male Voice 1]: (despondently) What do you want, man?

[Male Voice IDK]: I want you to uhh… I want you to do an impression .

[Male Voice 1]: (confused) What?

[Male Voice IDK]: (laughing) Yeah. If you do an impression, I’ll give you five

dollars. That easy.

[Male Voice 1]: I… uh… I don’t really…

[Male Voice IDK]: Come on, dude. It doesn’t have to be good. Just do an

impression.

[Male Voice 1]: Um…

[Female Voice IDK]: (in the distance) Seriously, Marc. We…

(incomprehensible)… idnight.

[Male Voice IDK2]: (in the distance) Yeah, dude. We don’t…

[Male Voice IDK]: (away from the recorder) Shut up! He’s gonna do it! (toward

the recorder) Alright. Say “I’m only here for the gay dance.” in a southern accent

and I’ll give you a dollar.

[Male Voice 1]: You said five dollars before.

[Male Voice IDK]: Yeah. Whatever. Five dollars.

(Sounds of fumbling)

[Male Voice IDK]: (nearly incomprehensibly) No!

(Another brief struggle)

[Male Voice IDK]: No. Leave it on. It uh…it can be part of the documentary.

(distant laughter)

[Male Voice 1]: Alright.

(pause)

[Male Voice 1]: (in an inaccurate Mexican accent) I’m only here…

[Male Voice IDK]: No. Come on. Say it into the mic.

[Male Voice 1]: (in a louder inaccurate Mexican accent) I’m only here for the

gay show.

(laughter)

[Male Voice IDK2]: (in the distance)… gay show?! Did he…

[Male Voice 1]: Can I have my money now?

[Male Voice IDK]: Yeah. You can have it. (laughs) Ready? (away from the

recorder) Go get it!

(Sounds of fading laughter overpowered by frantic footsteps)

(Heavy breathing)

[Male Voice 1]: (panting) Yes. That’s… Okay. Okay. Uh… Terminuhhh…

Termin. Um… Terminnn. God damn it. Terminix. No. (panting slows)

Termin. Yeah. Terminator. I need to see Terminator. I’m going to see that

movie one day. It’s… Yeah. Alright. It’s dark Uh… It’s dark out. Bye.

So yeah. That’s all. I’m sure there was something important on here. Could you give

this to Ken if you see him? He’s going to be looking for it. He’s going to be looking for

me too, but I’m never ever going to talk to him again. I’m going to run the other way.

Thanks. Do you think I could get the ten from you?

Recorded

Matt

8 October 2012 at 23:01:15 MDT

This is the first draft of a story I meant to redraft, but I never had the focus or patience while it was still real. It was written in a different mindset than I'm in now, and while I could now make it more accessible and tighten up the diction, I think I'd lose more in honesty than I'd gain in clarification. I'd make it a joke. While that'd be fun, it'd be inauthentic. The problems with phrasing and hamfisted allusions fail comparing to the problems that inspired the piece in the first place, and I don't want those back.

So my apologies if it's overdone and slanted in places. I don't want to be able to change that.

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