Sunday, February 25, 2007

Fairy Tales of the Damned

It was easy to see how she got here - if not so easy to see how to get out. That little voice hissing inside her: Why be alone if you don't have to be? Being alone meant learning to walk on your own, exposing your decisions, growing up. She could always do those things later. Trust God to sort it out. If her Maker ever wanted her to be alone, then she would surely accept it when the time came. She was God fearing and would do the right thing - just not now. Not till it was proven she was wrong. Her answer to being together forever was: "I do".

It was easy to see how he got here - if not so easy to see how to get out. He was a master at illusion and in the artifice of the world he found success. Why say no to greed if greed makes the world work? Was the world a bad place? Trust God to sort it out. If he were in the wrong, God would take his success away, but he could face that. He simply chose not to at this time. When offered the brass ring, his answer was: "I'll take it."

Loathing was the instant reaction when he and she met. Each smelled the other's weakness and recognized the stench: a stupid fool with a false sense of godliness. Their mutual contempt assured each transgressor of he/she's moral integrity. I would never fall for a fraud like that! And thus the seduction began. He bribed her with a life of endless companionship, sailing through troubled waters on a ship of romance. She pretended a moral struggle of which the only outcome must be a righteous one. We are virtuous, each decided, for the one who hates me now approves me.

And thus a fairy tale was born. “When I first met your father, I did not love him,” she sold to her daughter. “You have to be friends first and let it grow into love. That’s what happened to me. I was open to love and God sent me the one meant for me. I was so stupid I didn’t even know to like him at first! But God worked on my heart and turned me toward him so I might see the light. Now all my dreams of love have come true!”

Father colluded with his son. “Every man is a cripple and needs a woman to survive. But women are holy and pure and you cannot have one without being a rightly soul yourself. Your mother would never have agreed to marry me otherwise. God gave me this woman so I could perform the responsible deeds I need to in this world. By these things I know the path I follow is the true one.”

It was easy to see how they got here - if not so easy to see how to get out. It was a country made safe by war so war must be the answer. When the ugly reality of the world intruded upon wishful thinking, the thought of living without it was intolerable. Their leader cried War! and a lying nation followed. The good life must never be threatened. Why say no to the good life? Was war wrong? Trust God to sort it out. One day the path of peace would be chosen - just not today.

And thus a fairy tale was born. The leader spoke with a knowing smirk of approval. "This is a good and righteous war – one that God himself has told me to wage. We are spreading freedom and democracy. We fight the good fight and those killed are those who must be butchered. Those tortured are those who must be tormented. And the freedoms we abridge are freedoms that must be interrupted. We cannot let our enemies prevail or we will become murderous, tormenting enslavers as they are!”

He and she watched with adoring eyes. They worshipped a leader who was pure in heart, a person of integrity – just as each of them was.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

How To Make a Terrorist Happy

Angry with the moon;
Man shaking fist in the night,
Searching for lost dreams.

I hate me. I hate you. I hate my whole fucking, miserable life! And it's your evil that's to blame. I'm gonna get you, world. I'm gonna get you good! Soon, I will be your god. I'll be the one making the rules and you will be living in slavery, not me. This misery is unbearable, I can't stand to carry it alone. I've got to win at any cost.

Where is relief in hell? How can I keep feeding the monster that devours me? I need fresh pieces of life to chew and spit into the flames. The need is eternal. Feed me more! Feed me more! My only respite from the burning is sucking the life from you. Make me happy, world, feed me your lives. Turn away from the truth!

I scour your lives for bites to live on. I hear you say, "We are at war!" and I say, Yes! Yes!, always believe that! Never turn away from war! We will get you if you do. Mobilize your army, build your war machine, take pride in it. That like no other brings me hope for victory. It is chaos that brings me power. Please, please, keep war alive.

Shoot blindly, for one may be your enemy. Excellent! Kill them all! You think you can win but you cannot. The enemy is you! But you love your war machine too much too ever let it go. So eager you are to call it good and holy. If I ever see you lose your taste for war, I will bring it back, my sheep. I will keep you blindly maiming and killing in mad fear. I know where you live. Keep hate alive.

The panic in your hearts brings joy to my panic-filled sorrow. My minions spread fear and outrage within you. They hide as patriots, always assuring you of safety. Hehehe. I see them shove my diet of hysteria down your throats. Not all swallow but the hysterical voice is hard to drown out. They preach that you must defeat "the enemy". My precious fools, your outrage is my best friend. Keep fear alive.

It's the living of life I hate the most. I still see too many carefree souls and that singes me to insufferable torment! No! No! I was not a fool to throw those things away! Shut up, you! Shut the goddam hell up! I'm burning! I'm burning alive! Please stop! Dear God, I'm begging you, please stop...

You all think you're better than me because your life is so much better. Well, that's about to change. You too will live in fear and torment, never knowing when pain might strike. Fuck all your happiness. Your agony is my ecstasy. I'm not going to be alone in this. Your hearts will turn black also. And if I wanna keep winning I need only keep sinning. This is my chokehold on the world -

Hey, wait! Where you going? Come back! Don't ignore me! Don't leave me to myself! Leaving means I won! I broke your will to fight, coward! Listen to what I want! Fight me! Fight me forever! I'll keep coming until you do! ...Peace is my only fear.

A Walk in the Perverbian Park

     Harry threw down the last, empty beer bottle. But nothing ever stopped the eternal gnawing. He wondered how such misery would affect his health. And that made him worry even more. Safe in his secret retreat where he always took his bottles - drinking without privacy defeated the purpose - he stared once more at the perpetual stream of travelers on the city sidewalk.
     The gap between him and them on the outside was no more than 30 feet. The gap on the inside was infinite. Harry had known since his first conscious thoughts: "I'm fucked! There's no place for me in this world. No one's going to take the time to understand what I need, who I am. These people are like selfish teenagers - thinking they know everything - they've got it all figured out. And change is out of the question." No, those people on the sidewalk didn't really exist. They belonged to another planet.
     "Get thee to a monastery," he whispered as he softly drifted away from this world into another...

     When Harry awoke, it was to a different Sky. Bright and colorful with neon clouds and psychedelic sun. His instinctive reaction was to rejoice. Something about this said "home". But then slowly it dawned on him where he was: the Alley. Sarcasm Alley, where no civil word was ever heard. The were no streets or building fronts or any way out at all. Just alley upon alley. Escape only a myth. An unseen voice raged in hysteria. 
     "Find the bums! Burn them alive! Kill them - kill them before they ruin everything!" 
     Luckily, Harry the bum had heard that all before and knew the answer.
     Go where they won't go. They always leave an opening if it means their dirt will show. So into the sewer he went. The journey was not pleasant but Harry had gritted his teeth through many a like experience before. That ability was one of the few arrows in his quiver. His gamble paid off when he saw the level of waste rise dramatically. "Must be getting close to civilization."
     Harry popped his head out of a manhole cover and when he did -
     "Why, hello there!" A smiling man with a head two times too small and feet two times too large proffered a neatly manicured hand to help Harry up.
     Harry was in the condition he hated most: unpresentable. Soiled and reeking, he was loath to reveal himself. "I'm really pretty nasty," apologized Harry.
     "Oh, pshaw! I take no notice of that. Then I would have to take notice of me!"
      "Well, I don't think I can count on everyone not to notice."
     "Sure you can! We live for the illusion and the hope that it brings! I have a name for me and you may call me Notta Freak."
     Harry took the freak's hand.
     Once again noticing the strange, beautiful presence of the Sky, Harry asked, "Where am I? What is this world?"
     "Excellent questions of the Land of Sir Real!" responded Notta. "You're in Perverbia, where all things are perfect. It's a world of our very own making. You'll fit in too just as long as you're perfect - and I can see that you are!"
     Christ, one more fucking world where I gotta lie.

     Looking around, Harry found himself in an oasis wonderland park, dreaming the greens of summer and all the world a sunny day. People dancing, people laughing. A man selling ice cream, way beneath the deep, suburban sky. The man with the head two times too small noticed the glint in Harry's eye.
     "Welcome to our dream!" he proclaimed, "look at the wondrous life we lead - a sure sign of our morality, no?"
     "No," mutters Harry, having seen wondrous lives before.
     Only one thing didn't look so perfect: a towering dam loomed over the entire celebration. "That dam is huge! Is it safe to put your park so close?"
     "Perfectly safe! It is proven by the fact we have done it."
     "But, dude, it's a freaking monster."
      "We put all our imperfections in behind it. It's what keeps things good! All we have to do is keep building it higher - like we've always done."
     "Thing is, you can't keep building something higher forever!"
     "Ah, how little you think of our technology. We have a strategy for the facts: and that is to deny them."
      "But it looks so rickety. Damn thing looks like it could collapse at any moment."
      "Traitorist! Shut thy mouth! Don't you know that criticism can cause it to fall??" Freak's eyes sharply rebuked the dumbfounded traitor. "Now let us say a prayer to Sir Real. Oh, Heavenly Maker, please forgive this sinner for rebuking your laws of nature and life and for speaking ill of your most holy damn. Praise be to me, amen."
     "That Sir Real must be one helluva guy."
     "Oh, he is! He is!"
     "Must be if he's going to make you safe when you choose not be."
     "Our faith is complete and close minded!"
      That had an oddly familiar ring to Harry. "And you really think that's gonna work??"
     "Dear sir, the evidence is here before you!" Notta gestured to the laughing, carefree people in the Park of Denial. Harry was formulating an answer when interrupted by a Curious Being.
     The pleading eyes of a Shattered Soul accosted them. “No time…” he gravely spoke, “is a good time...for goodbye.” His shirt read “RESIDENT” and attached to his back were the faux wings of an angel. Seeing no hope, his eyes pressed on in an eternal search for salvation. “On with their heads! On with their heads, I say!”
     “He’s considered perfect??” scoffed Harry.
     “Good eye!” congratulated Freak. “He once was Resident and he removed many heads he shouldn’t have.”

                                             "Support your local Resident"

     “A Resident?”
     “Yes, every few years we put a man in a house to be Resident, to decide reality for us.”
     "But you just admitted he's not perfect! How could you let him do your thinking?"
     "Oh, I might say he's not perfect, but I would never admit it. We think only good things of our Residents. Otherwise we would be in a lot of trouble!"
     Harry thought he spotted a fatal flaw in the reasoning. “How can you possibly think good things of a guy like that? Killing people he shouldn’t have, doesn't that make him some sort of psychopath!"
     “Indeed it does! But we would never say such a thing."
     “Why the fuck not?"
     “Why because it's true of course."
     “But your pretense won't make him perfect."
     “Oh, all of our Residents are perfect – as long as you agree with them. But why should I think a thought that does not please me?”
     Harry’s mouth opened, but no words came out.
     Passing by were two diamond-studded dog collars, each attached to the most fashionable of leashes, and were sported by two nubile teenage nymphs. Their giggling came within earshot.
     "This is so awesome! No boy will be able to resist us with these collars!"
     "They'll be standing in line to yank our leashes! I so cannot wait to be humiliated!"
     "Football God called me last night and I asked him if he truly loved me and he said yes, he loves using me!"
     "You be ballin', girrl! Mom told me if we're good girls and keep our collars on, we can grow up to be Stepped On wives just like she is!"

                                              "Shhh, Mommy's a whore."

     Mercifully passing out of earshot, Harry reflected how far away he was from ever being able to waste life again. Notta Freak's eyes followed the nymphs' low rise jeans until they were out of sight.
     Continuing their stroll, Harry could see a stage filled with people costumed with the same angelic wings worn by the Resident. A Fiery Soul among them was preaching: “Man is evil! Evil I tell you! We are made in the image of Sir Real, it’s in our nature to sin! Repent my ways or suffer! Hell awaits you all with nasty, sharp, pointy teeth!” Harry mulled where he had heard that before…
     “But there is hope, friends, for I have The Answer. If love is what you wish, you must believe as I do. Put on the wings of my religion and approval will be thine. But beware! - and this is the best part - those who do not believe as us, we get to kill!" Spontaneous applause and whistles erupted at the thought of universal appeal. Harry even heard one cheer from far away. He swiveled his head to see the clapping ex-Resident with a halo of hate. The salesman continued his bribe. "Try it and see! Love is such a beautiful thing. Sir Real loves us all! Life is but a dream...”
     The parade of pleasant platitudes was interrupted by a most ungracious plea for assistance. In the perfect park of Perverbia, nothing was more despised than an unsightly cry for help. Children were present for God’s sake!
     Harry went to investigate but Notta latched onto his arm. “Don’t let some loser freak ruin your day. People get what they deserve!”
     Harry rarely believed people got what they deserved and rushed to find a man sinking in a pit of quicksand. He was confused by the four burly men apparently standing guard over the pit. As Harry moved closer a burly arm rejected him.
     “Back off, mate!” barked the first man, followed by the other three literally yapping like dogs.
     “OK, well, you help that guy then.”
     “’That guy’ as you call him, is a friend of mine. A very good friend of mine. He don’t need nothing from you! And don't you be denigratin' him!” This too was followed by yapping.
     “Dude, the guy needs help! What the fuck is your problem?”

                                                      "No relation to CCC."

     “Problem is there is no problem – just troublemakers like you! How dare you speak of my friend like that! You don’t know him, only we know him!” The yapping of the other three turned into a deeper woofing.
     Harry sensed the menace but troopered on. “So you’re just gonna let the guy die to prove me wrong??”
     “He’s not dying, he’s fine! He’s a good man and a fine fellow. A person of the utmost character. Nothing you say can shake my faith. We are a man’s best friend!” A low growling confirmed the man’s sentiment.
     A sudden idea popped into Harry’s head. Seeing a large stick nearby, he picked it up and whistled. “Here, boy, fetch!” He then tossed it as far as he could into the branches of a towering tree. The four men barked excitedly and ran off. Harry reached down to the give the man in the quicksand a hand out.
     “Oh no!” rebuked Quicksand Man, “Please, don’t give me help?”
     “Why the fuck not?” asked an annoyed Harry.
      “If they ever find out I need help, no one will ever love me. I’m fine, trust me. You have to believe my words and not my life.”
     “That’s just crazy! You will die in there!”
      “Then they will love me forever.” Sinking, Quicksand Man settled into a thousand yard stare and Harry saw the futility of his faith. Notta came up behind him.
     “I told ya people get what they deserve!”
     A newspaper boy came waving excitedly through the park. “Read all about it! Square Peg resolution passed! Read all the news fit to be read!”
     “Excellent proceedings that!” effused Freak. “Success is just around the corner!”
     Harry perused the gushing article of how Sinataurs at Silly Hall had reached a compromise on deciding if a square peg could fit in a round hole. The Perverbian dam had round holes needing repair but only square pegs were economical to produce. Opinions blustered and debate raged on this, The Issue Of Their Times.

                                     "Reality hinges on their every word"

     Some called it insane to try, some called it insane not to. Some called themselves optimistic and others pessimistic yet still open to trying. Fingers were pointed, names were called and fear was put up for sale. But all agreed that only in such manner politic could things be resolved. The passed resolution on Fitting a Square Peg in a Round Hole read: “It would be nice if it were true.”
     Harry threw down the paper. “I’d know more by not reading it.”
     Notta Freak took umbrage at Harry’s lack of civil concern. “How can you say such a thing? Fixing that dam is the most important issue of our time and if we can do it using square pegs it means we can keep our worldly world the way it is. It means we don’t have to change. It means we really are good. It means we can finally fulfill our ultimate dream: to choose death but receive life.” Notta gazed into the Sky with holy reverence .
     His gaze was interrupted by the charred screams of a family with clothing ablaze. “The Gas Man cometh!” warned the mother. “The Gas Man cometh!” With that, it was every man for himself.
     “Holy smokes!” yiked Harry. “That fucker’s insane!” Harry joined the mad scramble for safety as a small, beaming fellow with flame thrower attached scorched a swath of destruction in gleeful ecstasy.
     “Hey, world!” he called out. “I’m coming to fire you!

                                                                  "You're fired!"

     Bent and burdened, the Gas Man slowly passed through. But even with his slow gate there still were the crippled, the incapacitated and the depressed who could not clear out of his path. For them, it was a charring experience. All eyes watched in thankful horror, knowing their lives were spared only by the grace of Sir Real. But as the Gas Man passed out of view, so did all thoughts of him and the celebration resumed as before.
     Harry outraged to Notta. “What the fuck was that all about? I can’t believe you people let that guy run around! Kill that son-of-a-bitch! If you won’t, I will!”
     Freak was nonchalant. “Try to kill him and we’ll kill you!
     Harry snorted at what had to be a morbid joke. “Kill me? Thank me is more like it.”
     “No, kill you we would. The Gas Man gives us jobs to live on and sometimes fire us he must. We cannot do without him.”
     “But he goes around torching people alive!!”
     “On a percentage basis, it’s really meaningless. And besides, you saw the people he got. It’s the Unproductive Ones. Do they really deserve to live?”
     “Well, I guess not,” mocked Harry. “Surely, there’s no better way to run a world.”
     “Now you’re catching on!” agreed Freak sincerely.
     A Man of Permanent Smile then affably approached Harry and recited thusly:

“I have a conundrum,
“Making me feel so dumb-dumb:
“So what do you do
“When you know what to do?”

      Harry brain-locked again trying to respond but before he could get a word out, Smile Man interrupted. “It’s all good, friend. I’m a happy-happy man!” And he went on in search of another soul not to answer.
      "And who was that pop tart?"
     "Why that was Mr. Veneer, his house has the nicest facade in all the land!"
      "So he has the nicest house, huh? Have you seen it?"
     "No one has."
     "Then how do you freaking know it's the nicest?" popped off a short-fused Harry.
     "Why it must be," informed Notta to the ignorant child. "Anyone who can devote that much to his facade must have one dandy of a home." Notta was impressed. “What a truly, madly, deeply happy fellow!”
     “You really believe that??”
     “He said so. Have you not ears? Even my tiny ones heard him – proving they are normal!”
     “Just how did you get that way, Notta?”
     “Goo goo gajoob, Harry! I may be a freak but I’m a happy freak! But it all started with a girl. I should have used my head, instead I used my feet – and ran away.” The eyes turned inward, the veil lifting. “Biggest mistake of my life. Don’t know what I’m going to do now. I’m dying, it’s all so hopeless…”
     Then Notta Freak caught himself, realizing he had admitted an Ugly Thing – even though that with those words of truth, his head enlarged one size back to normal and his feet shrunk one size too. He forced a failed smile. “Sorry about that,” he winced. “That was wrong of me. Truth is the enemy of us all, neh?”
     Notta’s head and feet resumed their previous status.
     “Oh, I get it, “surmised Harry. “Take a sad song and make it sadder.”
     “It’s the only way,” sighed Freak.
     The cheerful voice of an Earnest Girl called out to them. “Hey guys! Come sign the petition! Do your part to save the world!”
     “What’s the petition for?” inquired Harry as he and Notta approached a booth filled with comely, topless women.
     Reading his mind, Earnest Girl gave Harry a wink. “Pretty smart, huh? We’re using the power of sex to save the land of Sir Real!”
     “You're not saving me yet,” hoped Harry, “but what is this petition for?”
     “If you sign the petition, it means you care. Then we can use that to force the people who don’t care into caring. It’s all about using our power for good.”

     Notta Freak hated his name and was reluctant to sign. “We gotta use our real name?”
     “Of course! This is no game!” Both Harry and Notta folded their arms in dismay. “C’mon guys! It’s easier than saving your soul!”
     Notta signed immediately. Harry drifted away homelessly.

     The old feelings were coming back. Freedom. Where’s freedom? Harry was drowning, gasping for air. Keep heading to the light, no matter where it leads you. It’s the only hope. What a frustrating world! A place where everything could be so beautiful. Then Harry purged as he always did when his world clashed with the outer one.

I wish I could live,
But I need to eat!
I live in a world
Where I must compete!

They said they did know me
Before knowing my name!
And if things do go wrong
I am surely to blame!

From the beginning
It’s been understood:
To be like others
Is to do as you should.

     Then came a man with the look of a dream in his eye, eager to make his revelation.
     “Look at this! Just look at this!” Harry and Notta stared down at the hands of a man lovingly holding a piece of tree bark. “Isn’t it magnificent!” Harry didn’t even try to fight the brain-lock. “With this I can rule the world!”
     But Harry just had to fight back, regardless of the futility. “Look, dude, it’s a piece of frickin' wood, there’s tons of it everywhere. It means nothing, it’s worth nothing!”
     Bark Man was worse than his bite. “You speak only of my life. But I have a nightmare! Where one day a man is not judged by the content of his character, but by the amount of wood he has! And when that day comes I’ll be free at last! Thank Sir Real Almighty, free at last!  All I have to do is cut this wood into little slices and imprint them with ink!”
     And with that, for Harry, it became all too real.

     Space and time froze. Comatose, Harry saw the carefree faces and innocent laughter of the children, he saw old friends re-uniting and impassioned lovers wrestle as one. The trees and Sky and sun all showed their approval of this and Harry wanted to crawl into that little world forever. Both beauty and barbarity reveling under the sun.
      The eyes of the impotent figure of Harry mutely observed the former Resident still decrying “On with their heads!” as he hopefully placed heads of cabbage on scarecrows. Quicksand Man backed away from yet another held out hand. And the cracks in the Perverbian dam fueled the growing, unspoken rage of a dying dream. A pressure cooker of denial eating away their souls with the obsessed mania of clutching onto a stove of ever increasing heat. Innocence dying as painful reality seeped into their park. There’s a future to this?

     Harry was startled by the cat that woke him. It was purring and rubbing against him. The love was much appreciated by its fellow homeless being. “Thank you for waking me,” purred Harry. “I was stuck in a nightmare world of impossible people with vain hopes and twisted dreams steamrolling their way to destruction.” As he scratched the ears of the appreciative kitty, Harry sighed. “Nothing left to do but love.”

     And in the distance, Harry heard the song of a long, forgotten dream rise once more...


Friday, February 02, 2007

A Persecution of Sanity

Oh, God, I pray to You. I ask You to save me but You have not ears. And You are my Final Appeal. Have I wronged You so much more than others for You to ignore me this way? Are my sins so much greater that I must suffer so? You give no answer! And You leave me to myself.

They say the only way to fix things - to keeps things good - is to kill me. That will prove them holy in their eyes. And they believe themselves godly. I can't believe this is happening to me! It's unreal and real at the same time. I get the perfect picture of my fellow man now: persecuters of sanity. They seek to solve their problems through me - through my dying. Hulking monsters spew flaming rhetoric against me, hell's demons posing as men of God - and no one says the Word. 'Burn the witch!' is all they can say. 'Burn the evil witch!'

But if God does not hear me, maybe they are right. Does not my Savior see them stacking the wood like blind, little gnomes in a play? Does He not smell the foul breath of the watchers who clamor for my death like barking seals? Is Justice so blind that the cruel deed of this day can go unchallenged as if it were the dark of night? All ears are deaf no matter how loudly I scream. Monsters rule this world. They're easy to spot. They're the ones who tell you God rules.

Maybe if I had done better with Tim, this wouldn't have happened. I ran away from him like a silly little girl. It seems so long ago now, lifetimes ago. Those feelings I feared to face. Is that what's come to haunt me now? Do they see my sins of failure and thus judge death upon me? Is that what's going on? I can't figure this in my head! There's only one answer I get: it's not me who's the problem.

My time is short now...the animals are sneering at the smell of blood...maybe I should confess unholiness to suck them deeper into their lies...look at the beasts! feeding off my terror, inhaling it, excited by fear...thank you, God, now I shall forsake you too!

"Fuck you! Fuck all you bastard motherfuckers! Lying, fucking pieces of shit! Damn you to hell! Damn you to fucking goddam hell and take this whole shit fucked world with you! Insane! Every single one of you is sheer, fucking insane! What gets into to you people?? How the fuck do you think this is going to make anything better, you moron pieces of shit? So die! Drown in your own goddam poison! The fate you've given me I now curse you with. And all your lives and all your deeds will be meaningless until the end of time! Unless you admit how you wrong me, you will never be free!"