Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Harry, Inc.: Resistance Is Futile

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you,
then they find out no one gives a shit about right and wrong
and fuck you twice as hard."
- Mahatma Harry

I should have learned when Pet Rocks became popular...

Let's face it we really are moron muppets of the highest order, crawling to the edge of the branch only to then proudly saw it off. "Look at my systemic faith! I'm proving we can be stupid and live! My life has meaning! I'm doing what they want!"

I live only for the moment to see the look on your face when falling. Sweet!

But no longer am I willing to go down with you. Time for Harry to get on the winning side! Soon I'll be the one peeing on people's heads as they say, "Oh! It must be raining, sir!" Happiness will be dutifully denied in order to serve me. The land, sea and air will be sacrificed for my benefit. Every life needs a purpose and yours will be to hear these words from me:

"You're an asset to the company."

That's right my sagacious stoners, Harry is incorporating! Harry, Inc. - I'll give you a dollar to tattoo it on your forehead. Everyone needs an identity! Be the first Harry Head in your neighborhood! I am your religion!

You see, if I Harry steal twenty bucks from a 7-11 the judge gets all hot and huffy yapping about law and order, the prosecutor froths at the mouth how I am the decay of society and a threat to our future and the jury hides its own sins too by condemning me to hell on earth. Gee, thanks guys.

But if I, HARRY, Inc., steals twenty bucks from you then that's just good business! I'm protecting the shareholders. I'm a job creator - more important than any real Creator. I'll use half that twenty bucks to bribe my congressman to keep letting me steal and next thing you know I'm in the paper as a pillar of the community. See, folks, it's not if you steal, it's how your steal that counts.

That's what religion does to you: it makes you dumb.

No aspect of your life is safe. There's this chick who pissed me off last week so I went straight to her front yard and took a big ol' dump right where she couldn't miss it. She came running out of the house screaming bloody murder but I just looked her right in the eye with a murderous laugh. "You want a job, don't you?"

That shut her ass up. Shut it up so good she got sick of holding in the anger until finally she died. See, folks, she understood: there's really no other way to live, just take it and die! Emotions are unrealistic. Corporate servitude is your ticket to freedom! If you die in the process at least I got an iPhone out of it.

Words of the profits are written on alley walls

Just signing the papers defining me as a living god was hawt, hawt, hawt! Soon as I handed the magical pulp back to the clerk she instantly dropped to her knees. "Please, sir, may I give you a blow job?" Wow, didn't know it would work this quickly! She later explained she used to be a journalist, blindly kissing my corporate ass out of habit.

Fine by me, felt just as good.

Why didn't I think of this sooner?? I can do anything now! God envies me. At first I was scared. Won't people get mad when I shit on them, destroy their lives, endanger their families and rob them of their future? But like a good sociopath I decided to take my moral cues from those around me. I read this and got a boner:

According to Bob Libal of Grassroots Leadership, a group fighting for the abolition of private prisons, corporations like The GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America, who take over and run existing local, state, and federal prisons — and sometimes build new ones — regularly lobby all levels of government for longer prison sentences “to ensure [for-profit prisons’] interests are met.”

Those interests, of course, are the 90-percent guaranteed prison-bed occupancy rates that the companies pretty regularly get from the government. To that end, for instance, both GEO and CCA pushed furiously for the current law that allows illegal immigrants to be jailed for up to five years prior to deportation — even if their only crime was being illegal.

Fuck, man, I can jail your ass and get a Ferrari to boot - all in the name of justice! Yeehaw! I do love America!

Occupy these handcuffs, asshole!

And remember in Robocop how he was programmed to be unable to arrest anyone who worked for the corporation who created him? Same way with all us bad ass CEO's! Untouchable, baby!

Last night I went to the Top Secret CEO Club And Shooting Gallery. That's where we go to laugh at such things as our Congressional testimony, closing nursing homes and having Obama as our waitboy. "Another cube for my drink, boy!" "Yessir, I won't stand in the way of corporate greed ever! It's the American way!" Trust me when I tell you there's not anyone not in our pocket - anyone who counts anyway.

We had a special screening of the greatest comedy in years: "The Hunger Games". Talk about funny! We had tears in our eyes from laughing so hard. Yes, yes - your hunger is a game! You lose, we win! When word got out the film topped the weekend gross a roar of hilarity ripped across the room. Best part is they paid money to applaud their own death!

No king ever had it as good as I. I can hand out death and destruction and yet they still blame themselves! "Oh, I must have done something wrong! I feel horrible not to serve! I deserve to die!" Hahahahaha!

Oh, we do hear the complainers - we love them the most. It's like listening to a slave complain while holding the key to his freedom, refusing to use it. He just wants a better boss, is all. That ain't gonna happen, bitch!

Maybe you're wondering how I can talk so openly. "Wow, Harry, if you tell them you're only out to fuck them won't the sheeple catch on??" Oh, hell no! Better to die than admit you're wrong! We invented money, made up a bunch of bullshit rules requiring it and then pretend there's nothing we can do about it. Boo-hoo!

No, man, there's no way I can lose. I got human pride on my side. Don't be a quitter! Don't give up on living that lie!

In fact, we like it when you think you're smart. How clever to do the bidding of the rich! Sure, it's not working out for you today - but maybe tomorrow! Keep dope alive! You really do have it all figured out. Got to put a gun to people's heads to make them do right!

All I got to say to that is: BANG!

In the meantime while you've immersed yourself in spectator sports and other dandy distractions, we the powerful have written a new constitution for you to follow (and we know what good boys and girls you want to be!)

We the powerful, in order to form a more perfect union (for us), establish justice for sale only, insure domestic division and strife, provide for the common defense contractor, prevent the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for the rich, do ordain and establish doomed corporate anarchy as the Constitution for the United States of America.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Dragon With The Girl Tattoo

"How did this happen? How did I get here? Where did I go wrong?"

Most would be hard pressed to see she'd done anything wrong. Living in a tastefully furnished, uptown, swank townhouse, driving an expensive foreign import and with no money worries for life, a thousand million bodies would gladly trade places with her - most to feel overwhelmed by such staggering good fortune. As co-manager of her family's antique shop she'd decided to take the day off, an unrelenting pressure building inside her head needing to be addressed.

But here she was a free woman at 27, lying on her leather sofa as the early morning sunshine crept through the drapes while the rest of the world made their way to their slaving jobs praying to make it one more day, and she was spinning, lost on a raft floating in the middle of the universe. With worldly distractions removed she finally faced the hounding thought nipping at her heels.

"No, it can't be. It can't be!"

It was the money. Her money had gone bad. It had once been her most proud attribute her guiltless gold and lovely lifestyle. To have her cake and eat it too - priceless. Somehow that good feeling slipped through her fingers like escaping water unable to be retrieved. Her cash, her clothes, her car - all gone sour. She had lonely money, meaningless paper, empty coins of the realm. One lifeless object same as any other.

The fantasy marriage lasted less than three years before their Icarus wings melted them back down to earth. He was gone forever and until this moment - much as she swore she would never do - she realized she'd been living for that lost feeling, to fly once more in white clouds with white angels. Her eyes, normally so vibrant with life and song, drew inward and opaque. Life was always just supposed to work out for her.

Hey, ring me anytime!

"I'll call a friend..."

Who did not love her warm ways? But would not her heart crumble on this road of vacant eyes? No, she didn't want to have to be "on" for anyone. She had her trustees, her careless suitors, her faithful family, but in this moment she could turn to no one. She stood still, the world revolving around her, moving on, leaving her behind - a frightening fate never before experienced. Take a day off and the whole world changes in the blink of an eye!

Life with the dragon. That was supposed to only be for others, the less fortunate or, frankly, the lesser in life, she an old soul, a strong soul shining as a beacon in a dark world. Like Jesus among the outcast she was, gathering them to her in succor, providing a tower of strength. To whom much has been given, much is expected. Had she broken that holy covenant? Who would be her tower of strength to lean against in this hour of need?

"I'm losing myself!"

Playful vanity of the past mocked her in echoing contempt. Thought you were somebody, didn't you? Reaping riches before your time! No shortcuts in life, my boastful one! So much for self-awareness. Time had come to do better. She knew this time would come. Her husband was supposed to be here for this crisis of conscience, his love to guide her down the perilous path. But now, who?

What had she been doing? She'd been believing her own newspaper clippings of having it made. Her attitude dried up on new relationships. She couldn't keep signing her name "Mrs. Jones" and be the person she needed to be. In her after-marriage pain she had opened up in her struggle to survive but gradually the door slowly closed shut in self-deception. Was she really the person she thought she was?

"I've been running away!"

The clock read ten minutes to twelve, the morning gone in useless despair. How could she explain losing half a day? It'd take half an hour through gnarling traffic to get there but the Uber Upscale Shopping Village still called out to her. One pair of Jimmy Choo’s to show off and she could hear the coos of congratulations of a day well spent. But old tricks didn't work anymore, the dragon barring the way home.

Trapped in uselessness. Love had no use for her money making enterprises. Across the Lake of Life a voice called out to her in faraway, indistinguishable words. Was it cursing her or hailing her? Dare she believe herself a creator, an artist? The fear of living in self-delusion her unbearable, no-way-in-fucking-hell cross to bear. She would not live her life as a fool! But had she consigned her life to foolishness by not pursuing her dreams?

"I want to...give in to my dreams."

That one simple thought breathed life back into her normally thrilling bosom. Eyes softened, lips unfrozen allowing a small smile. Rushing to the window she confirmed a still glorious day, she still a free woman in a world gone mad. Free to find her way back, free to grace her self-discovery. Free to find love anew. The world lay at her shapely feet! Had not a voice from the past once proclaimed absolute faith in her? Suddenly, it all seemed to fit.

Poetress of pain, swinger from the sky, traveler of the twilight she would be - she could be! Why had she cut herself off? Self-pity? False pride? The anger of solitude? Time to let that garbage go! Yes, feeling better now...the door cracks open, creative juices welcome her back...she need not labor in sacrilegious efforts doomed to ignominy. She had lived with one foot in the grave and one foot in the well of heaven, taking equal pleasure in both. Breaking the bondage of indecision, she knew what she must do next.

"I'm going to get me a new pair of Jimmy Choo's!"


Saturday, March 24, 2012

So Some Kid Is Shot Dead In Florida? Meh!

Don't be whiny just 'cause some kid gets it!

Apparently a kid was shot down in my old stomping grounds of the Orlando metro area in a "questionable", "unjustified", or some even say "lawless" manner. Everyone is quick to jump on the shooter - but should we be? Consider these things first:

1. The shooter had special, secret knowledge no one else on earth could possibly know! And with that special, secret knowledge the killing could very well be justified. Were you at the scene? Then how could you know anything!

2. It's a war on crime, of course there's going to be collateral damage! Grow up and get over it. The innocent sometimes have to be sacrificed for the greater good of overall safety. Better to off a few kids than to have criminals running wild through the streets! Get a grip.

3. Thought Crimes are the cutting edge of modern justice! OK, sure, the kid had not committed a criminal act - yet. But it is now socially accepted dogma that preventative killings - invasions even - can save the world a ton of grief and destruction. It's not what you've done that counts, folks, it's what we think you're gonna do that counts!

So I don't get why everyone is complaining. What am I missing here? Oh, I know Harry is not one of the cool kids or part of the "in" crowd, that maybe there's a secret list of Kids Who Count and Kids Who Don't Count. Without that list, how am I supposed to tell them apart?? I'm too ignorant to know when to protest! Argh!

"We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found.
They must be pursued and they must be defeated."
-current (and any future) President of the USA

I'm a political pragmatist. We have to make people feel safe. Enemies are everywhere! Muslims, terrorists and monkey bars, oh my! We must maintain vigilance. Anyone not holding fast to these political realities cannot be elected! Only by continued killing can we keep hope alive. If you don't like who gets killed, that's your very selfish problem. As for me, I'm sticking with the reality of the greater good.

Now lets dance to the Kim Finney song!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Why doesn't anybody notice I'm dying?"

"Why doesn't anybody notice I'm dying?" muttered Tony Acala to no one in particular in a room full of dying people.


They contend there's something wrong with me. They think because I can't live with any of their crap jobs, don't have any respect for what they allegedly believe or profess, am homeless and alone and have no future in this world - that that's no cause to be depressed.

I'd be fucking crazy not to be depressed.

But for them to admit that would be to admit they have no future. Hey, can I help the decisions the powers-that-be make? Regardless, my life must be sacrificed as part of the cover-up of the ill-gotten pains. They say you can't shoot human weakness. But I'd sure like to try.

So I'm sitting in mandatory therapy class to get my mind right with fraud, explaining my oft times conundrum of my inability to express my opinions. Tell me you're going to see a movie I don't like and I feel compelled list each and every reason why the film doesn't work all the while condemning you in the process. Problem is, I know that's the wrong reaction to have but not knowing what else to say I remain silent.

Michelle, sitting next to me, is surprised to hear my confession. I've tangled with the authorities quite openly here but then that's an obvious thing to do when someone tries to step on you - especially if they think they can get away with it, if they can paint you with the same brush of irresponsibility of their life. She thinks I always get my opinion out. Truth is, I've stopped speaking my truest thoughts long ago.

Tony, however, has not reached my corrupted state. He still has the nerve and clean conscience to ask why no one is noticing his pain. I may have been the only one listening but I had to squelch my desire to run over to clasp his mouth, to perform my own cover up. "Don't say that! They'll say you're a bad person!" You can't ask real questions, only questions where they can plausibly deflect blame.

It was in that moment I knew what a fucked up world I live in - both on the outside and within.

Physically, I turned my back on Tony, instinctively not wanting his innocence to notice my guilt. My ears were straining, praying he didn't repeat his question even louder. I also wondered who else had heard him and ignored him in a similar way. Maybe everyone. This is a conspiracy after all.

Some people have to provide an answer for everything or they'll drown in miserable guilt. Had one of those people been listening they'd of shut Tony up right away with a patented non-answer to prove any misfortune need not be. But of course they are merely cowards like me, telling him he is alone in his suffering. Some people tell him with words, some people tell him with silence.

I used to fight back, to make them avert their eyes with their constant phony talk and empty promises to us. We homeless are not your saviors! But that was before my Betrayal. Betrayal of my friends, my hopes, and my dreams. I'm locked in the cycle of damaging my life to make up for damaging other lives. What sort of madman snips off the head when handed a beautiful flower? Next thing you know, you find yourself needing to be the "good child" not upsetting the oppressors just because you can't handle one more bit of disapproval.

What I fantasized about doing was taking a bullhorn and have Tony repeat his question that none could deny hearing. I imagined the flashing, murderous anger of many of the self-knowing eyes, I imagined the fear that I myself felt, I imagined the sorrow of a few - and I imagined the helplessness of everyone. Dear God, what a defining moment when I heard that simple question!

Sometimes people tell me things right out of the blue, knowing I have an understanding ear. I don't know much about the details of Tony's situation but last week he explained a dream to me that frightened him too much not to share. He was on the street, tall brick buildings blocking out the sky in all directions and he had absolutely nowhere to go. He couldn't force himself back to the shelter nor into feudal labor. He couldn't force himself to be demeaned one more single moment.

His words were he just couldn't do "it" anymore. If you need "it" defined for you, you cannot understand his meaning (but feel free to pretend to!).

No possible food, no possible hope, Tony described it like drowning in air. The only thought to keeping his sanity was to retain enough money for a gun, a mercy killing from the prison of hunger. When no other answer appeared he woke up in a literal sweat, wanting to scream. But it was now, in the middle of this reception celebrating laudable achievements enacted for the homeless over the past year Tony could hold it no longer.

"Why doesn't anybody notice I'm dying?"

The world is a cold corporation and we its grinding gears, replaced and discarded when broken or in disfavor. One day this world of woe will be made to take to its Walk Of Shame, just as the Germans were forced to walk through the concentration camps after WWII. The pursuit of our profitless profits will be gone with the wind and we'll celebrate the dream gifts of every person, forever rejecting the twisted dream of pushing square pegs into round holes - so whacked out are we now some people call this pursuit "being practical"!

Too often we accept the role assigned to us, obediently answering the cattle call to death. No wonder they think they can decide how we should fuck, suck and cluck. No wonder they piss on our heads without fear from Wall Street balconies. No wonder we imagine enemies upon which to war. It's all the same issue, we're all the same person. These are the facts I share upon pain of death.

Tony was a hero that evening, his name in the Book of Life, no longer pretending to live while dying. Who will join him?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Unemployment Myths - Confirmed!

An act of nature or an act of man?
You decide!

Dear future historians, are you laughing or crying - or perhaps both - at the twisted behavior of which we so willingly allow during these dark and epic times? How clear it will become the contamination of our minds! It must be sort of like us looking back at the wrongheaded psychotic witch burners claiming that to not kill the witches meant certain death for society.

Ah yes, nothing like the cruelest form of murder condoned by the high state. But back in those days, no one stopped the piling of wood for the coming atrocity. Rather, they were good boys and girls and helped pile it on. How very special! Oh sure, there were some troublemaking loudmouths protesting the executions and accompanying mass hysteria but who were they to question anything??

Show me a man who never questions and I'll show you a criminal.

Now if I were to attempt to burn a witch today I'd be rightly labeled criminally insane. And one day, acts commonly done today will also be seen for what they are: criminally insane. Eh, stupid is as stupid does.

Just a matter of time before they are viewed (hung!)
as the criminal element they truly are

Taking a family out of their home, throwing them onto the street to slowly die can be argued as even more cruel than witch burning. Yet we allow it everyday. But seems most people when hit over the head with a two-by-four don't question the hit, they merely say, "I need a better helmet!" When their knees get hit, they follow with kneepads until finally - if lucky - their entire body is covered by a suit of armor.

That's what it's like trying to make oneself safe through money. There's no endgame to it, you're never free! If you want to be free - and there's no possible future any other way - then stop allowing assholes with two-by-fours going around whacking people to death! Not really hard to figure out. But like the witch burners of old, we maniacally protest it's actually life we are preserving!

Pretty goddam funny if the consequences weren't so barbarous.

In my novel I wrote of the Important Papers of the "Resident", declaring the need for "solutions that do not solve". People gotta feel like they're doing something - even if they aren't. Airport security comes to mind. We're doing something alright, it just doesn't make us safe! Keep the willfully ignorant occupied and you can slide anything past them.

Rising gas prices are an excellent example! "Buy a smaller car!" "Walk to work in the rain!" "Become a hermit!" Do those things and we'll call you 'good' and 'smart' and 'responsible'. Oh, goody! Somebody said I'm smart and responsible! Clap for me! Problem is, there's no such thing as a smart sucker.

Too few question if inflated gas prices are justified in the first place - and those who do are considered just more of the loudmouth troublemakers always being negative about acts of evil. The nerve!

When faced with society's evils, the traitors will say to the truth tellers: "OK, if it's so bad why don't you go out and stop it!" They say this knowing full well that to stop a witch burning would be suicidal and have no effect on stopping the practice. Some solutions are communal. Those who do not acknowledge that are the ones who destroy the fabric of society.

OK, none of these feelings are new on my part so what exactly pissed in my Post Toasties? This laughably named “Remake America” project from Yahoo. Guess they can't call it the "Assuage Guilty Feelings So Nothing Has To Change" project.

Here I come to save the day!

"This presidential election year, Yahoo! is following six families facing the same issues and challenges affecting millions of Americans. Our families will share their journeys and our audience and our experts will help them — and America — find solutions to these issues."

Oh, how noble! Please, show six families how to survive the endless blows so we can justify beating up on people forever. You see, if bad things are happening to you it can only be your fault! We are a good and kind and just people - just ask us! Misfortune is thine own, an ill favored thing!

Yeah, well, fuck you and the horse you rode in on. Fuck you to the hell you propose for others.

Episode 1: "Being laid off sucks...but I'm a sucker fighter!"

That's John talking tough there and we applaud him in fearful knee-jerk reaction, acting as if he's been left out in the forest only to fight his way out! Only, John's problems are very much artificial and manmade.

Career asshole expert Tory Johnson met up with John to figure out why someone with years of great experience can’t leverage that into a new job. What she found was someone who wasn’t marketing himself well and someone who had become extremely pessimistic about his job prospects. In this episode, Tory advises John on how to improve his job search and leaves him with an important decision to make

Well, the cunt has a good point there. People who can't market themselves deserve to die. Put on that top hat and tails and do the ol' song and dance routine! America loves public humiliation. Those Idol ratings aren't skyrocketing for nothing! "We don't owe you a living, motherfucker. Now dance!"

Only 10% of business is about business. The rest is seeing how much you can get away with being an asshole. My father was an executive whore most of his life. He told the story of one fellow executive who loved to fire people. It literally turned him on. See, he didn't lie to himself about the rape as most of us do. He wallowed in it - untouchable.

"What's held you back as a job seeker is bitterness!"

See folks, it always comes back to something you are doing wrong. You're lazy, angry, worthless, [fill-in-the-blank with favorite self-admonishment]. The one percenters are laughing their ass off at you watching you internalize society's ills, taking on debts not your own. They love it because it keeps up the free ride they live for - and maybe the free ride you hope to live too.

Trust me, folks, if you're out hunting for a new job without ever questioning what fucked you in the first place you're not a fighter, you're a quitter. "I won't protest the witch burning just so long as I'm not the witch."

How many must we sacrifice in the name of upholding a system of greed? Apparently, the answer is everybody! There really is no need for greed or hunger, we just pretend there is to justify our rotten ways. God made us perfect. What makes us imperfect is not accepting that.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Death Be Not Loud, The Exciting Conclusion!

Is it possible to choose Life and Love and still keep one's life in this world? From Jesus to Lennon the answer has always been "No". We simply won't allow it. These people reveal our failures in too clear a light. Oh, we like to pawn off our assassinations on a few bad apples but truth is they are committed by common consent. We allow these bad apples to live among us.

And it's not like the situation is getting better - which means it's getting worse...


Chester's Descent and The Voices Of Ill Repute

Chester was a new man driving home that wonderful, magical night. His self-image thrown into turmoil, an inkling of belief sprouted for his fanciful dreams. He also thought it unusual he was more than halfway home before he thought of calling the guys. I danced with Julie Steel! We talked! We exchanged meaningful words! This was better than any sexual conquest - Chester respected himself afterwards. He picked up his cell out of forced habit, then noticed he didn't want to call after all.

"Those two creeps." Am I a creep too? "They wouldn't understand. Not everything is about fucking." The phone returned to his seat with the fading desire but a sense of vague pestering guilt lapped up on the shores of his soul.

Chester was on top of the world but could not tell a soul. What did that mean? But it did not take long for the descent to begin.

All during the week he dreamed of nothing but her, still riding the high. He replayed their conversation, analyzed his feelings, other times the shit eating grin returning to his face all on its own. At work he was dangerously distracted. His ambition for promotion struck him as pointless folly, a tsunami of fear crashing down on him he might spend the rest of his life in meaningless labor.

Chester was a chrysalis in its earliest, most vulnerable stages. He was taking the first nervous steps of self-discovery, the dawning of a butterfly to be. But was he really a beautiful butterfly or was he just shooting off his mouth again? Admit it, you're always talking big, like you're the shit. Time to be honest with yourself!

Next Saturday, she was not there. Chester asked around, she had not shown up last night either. Of course not, she has a real life - while the club was his whole life. He wanted to resent her but he wanted to trust her more. She wasn't rejecting him, a thousand reasons for her to be someplace else. But when she didn't show again the week after, cold water sobered Chester's mind. Maybe he'd made her up. Did I really deserve that dream?


Charlie Couts wanted to die in the worst way. Driving the grain truck to the elevator like a thousand times before, he misjudged the speed of the semi closing up behind him. Just as Charlie turned left, the eighteen wheeler attempted to pass him on the left, slamming his forehead into the dash, knocking him unconscious. When he came to, Charlie had run right through a barbed wire fence, sitting in a corn field with a broken rear axle.

But his shame was much worse than that.

The unconfessable secret for the reason of his crime lay at the feet of the newly elected black President. At the dining table the previous night his father's words had been so sharp - so outrageously wrongheaded about the President - Charlie found his instinct to be to rebuke his father. OK if you don't like the guy but that sort of hatred is going to eat you alive! But how could his father see Charlie disagreed because he genuinely loved him?

In the pregnant pause that followed his father’s rant, Charlie died. Pity won the day. He'll never understand. He won't change no matter what I say anyway. I'll say something later when I become a man. But Charlie's conscience wasn't buying it. And it was while reliving that hellish wrestling match when the world intruded upon his struggles leaving him unable to explain his predicament of the broken axle.

Charlie sat unmoving in the truck, staring at the glint of sunshine on the chrome trim of the windshield, praying never to be found, knowing his future filled with perilous pain.


Two days later Charlie's dire drunkenness came knocking on Chester's door. He noticed neither Sam nor the trailer's owner as he made his way to plopping down on Chester's torn leather recliner. People were just going to have to understand: he didn't want to be alone and he didn't want to talk.

Sam tried the most benign story he knew. "Guess who came in for breakfast this morning? Julie Steel in these hot jeans like you wouldn't believe. Her whole fucking family was with her but I didn't care. I think I'm in love!"

"Who gives a shit!" snarled Charlie.

Charlie was right. Who gave a shit about Sam's immature desires - but immaturity had been their common bond. Growing up was treason. Yet no one in the trailer was a stranger to the misery Charlie displayed. Teenage dreams never come true for teenagers. And Charlie was staring directly into staying eighteen for life. Shame's prison knows only one way out.

Charlie told Chester and Sam the lie of his accident's facts. The truth he kept for himself, though he ached to be set free of his cell. His gun slinging ways always so quick on the draw to criticize betrayed him now in his hour of need. Surely the other two would leap at the chance to take revenge on his constant harping.

But Sam had already half-guessed Charlie's problem. What's really bugging him is something with his father. He thinks he can't confess what I already know! But if I say anything he'll bite my living head off. Two souls dying to speak, drowning in the sounds of silence. Chester had had enough of the self-pity and cowardice. He was proud of what he'd done - and damn tired of holding it in.

"I danced with Julie Steel. She told me all sorts of things. We talked night away." Chester's perusing eyes gave no quarter to any petty rebukes.

"How the fuck you do that?" Sam fearfully asked.

"There's a disco club in Amarillo. Been going there last two years. Julie showed up Saturday before last and we danced our hearts out. It was great. Un-fucking-believable. Never experienced anything like it in my life."

Shit, Chester, you're telling them everything! This must be the new you! But I see you didn't have the guts to use the word "friend". Is she your friend?

"Jesus, Chester," marveled Sam, basking in the associated glory for their gang. "Maybe you could introduce us."

"Sure thing. Come on up to the club." He'd die before he violated her privacy. Don’t be a punk, Sam.

"I ain't doin' no fag dancing!" Finally, something to make Charlie feel superior! But Chester's ears burned to a crisp.

"You fuckers do what you want. I looked into her eyes. She respects me. We moved together. You can't understand that feeling!"

"Shit, Chester! It's not like you fucked her!" - which was Sam's way of asking if he actually had. And if Chester had fucked her, Sam would never speak to him again. Sam too had an unconfessed secret.

Year and a half ago when Sam had been fired from his "real" job at a "real" restaurant he'd been forced to take a pizza delivery job. One of those deliveries was to the Steel Ranch house, a place of shiny new trucks, careless laughter and a hunger for living. Old man Steel took the pizza, looked Sam up and down and spotted the obvious loser he was. When the door shut, closing Sam off from his peek into this otherworldly heaven, he'd never felt so little and low.

Is that all you've done with your life? That was the question Old Man Steel's eyes seemed to ask. Charlie peeled out of the driveway naked before the world.

Now, for Chester to have conquered that world, to have found acceptance by its ruling queen - no, never, never! Sam was standing at the door all over again - only this time he had witnesses, the two worst witnesses on the planet!

"None of your goddam business what I did!" Chester barked.

"He ain't fucking nobody, Sam. Probably making the whole thing up anyways!"

Chester launched an attack on Charlie, knocking him off the recliner, and would have killed him had not Sam pulled him off. "Get out of here, motherfucker! Fuck you! I never been so goddam pissed in my life!" Chester made another move towards his drunk mate as Sam helped Charlie up and out the door.

"And don't come back! Go suck your daddy's dick! You know you want to, you fat fuck!"

Chester was still heatedly pacing when Sam re-entered. Chester was out of control.

"Can you believe that guy? How could he say something like that? Calling me a liar! You believe I was with her. You know I wouldn't make something like that up. God, that chaps my ass!" Chester kicked a hole in the wall.

"Why does he get to you so bad?" Sam was trickier inserting the knife than crude Charlie.

"I don't know," lied Chester, calming down, curious as to the answer himself.

"Dude, I'm not saying you weren't with her. Just kind of hard to believe you're all the sudden best friends."

"I didn't say that..." Chester's resolve faded as Sam had hoped.

"Women like that, man, they're all class. They won't say anything. They keep shit to themselves."

"What do you mean?"

Sam confessed his moment at the Steel's door in his own way. "You gotta understand, Chester. People like her see right through you. Embarrass the shit out of her and she still won't say a thing. You could be making a fool of yourself and never know it."

Was it not real? She hadn't come back since. Had I embarrassed her? I'd rather die! Just tell me! Fuck, I thought it was real! Chester drooped.

"I'm tired. 'Bout time for your shift anyway, isn't it?"

"Sure, Chester." Sam walked over knife in hand, smiling as he killed. "Don't worry about Charlie, man. He's got problems of his own." Sam placed his hand on his victim's back. "But don't let that Julie Steel make a chump out of you." Chester's eyes flashed angry denial. "Just sayin', man. Do what you want. Maybe she really will make you her man."


Julie's newfound connection with Chester was just what the doctor ordered. Being able to share a piece of her previous Dallas life was the perfect tonic to her ails. She was pissed at herself at being trapped by her family obligations. She swore she wouldn't return, the ranch be damned. Her life was important too. But in the end, guilt won the day.

No one in the house appreciated her excited chatter upon returning from the club, sounded too much like escaping. They conspired the next two Saturdays to keep her on the ranch but she put her foot down at a third. Would Chester be pissed at her absence? She looked forward to making it up to him. Maybe - just maybe - he could help her find herself.

But Chester could not imagine her life as anything but perfect already, living in luxury as the most wanted woman in town.


Chester cried grieving, burning tears nonstop that next Saturday night drive to the club. He decided Sam was right. He was never going to be her man. Funny, he'd been OK with that until Sam mentioned it. But he must face the honest truth: he was imposing on her. The idea she'd never return to the club drove Chester out of his mind. But what right had he to demand her time?

Only her man could do that. "Fuck you, God," moaned Chester. "Fuck you and your rules. Goddam, I want to be with her."

In this tortured state, Chester buried his own unconfessed secret: that he only reached the heights of his dance she had seen because of her, that he needed her. "Tell her that and you'll get The Lecture, the Look of Pity, and the Wave Goodbye." But it's killing me!

That night, Chester played it cool with Julie, pretending he did not want to dance with her, wiping the smile off her face. When she did dance, he spoke in loud disapproval to those around him. At last, she fled the floor when she could stand it no more. She flipped Chester the bird on her way out. He replied with a false, prideful smile.

After a face saving amount of time, Chester also left, walking in complete dread to his truck, picking up his revolver, placing it in his mouth, debating if he should pull the trigger.


CODA: Sam couldn't face Chester after knifing him the way he had, destroying his greatest triumph. Hounds of guilt chased him night and day. More than ever he was sure of his inability to make it in the world. What do all my smart ass remarks really amount to? Not a thing. Only resolution Sam could see was for him too to be accepted by the great Julie Steel - warts and all. That's when he got arrested for streaking on their property, proving the doubts of Old Man Steel at last, believed Sam.

The County Prosecutor salivated at Sam's very public and gossiped dilemma. He ordered a search of Sam's computer and hit the jackpot, finding 4,682 images downloaded from After very careful examination, 46% were of the bikini babes were determined to be minors. Since the pictures were ruled to be for personal gratification, that made them child pornography in the eyes of the law.

At the press conference crowing over the guilty verdict and Sam's three year sentence, the Prosecutor declared the children of the town safe from someone who "was only a matter of time before he attacked a child." After winning re-election in a landslide, he promptly went home and viciously beat his underage teenage daughter for having "Impure thoughts".

"I am a god! I am untouchable! You will not make me look bad!"

CODA II: Charlie had the misfortune of running into the County Judge - or rather the Judge's goat. Humiliated by Chester he became more determined than ever to "man up" and defeat his demons. That only made his demons stronger. Charlie turned loud and obnoxious (real men don't give a damn what people feel) but his drinking increased in direct proportion.

In what became a legendary drunken stupor, Charlie convinced himself fucking the Judge's goat to be an irresistible act of self revelation. Real men will fuck anything that moves, he reasoned. Once sober, Charlie could face no one, overhearing his father complain, "I knew I should never of raised him as some fag Episcopalian."

Charlie works under an assumed name at a truck stop in an unidentified New Mexico city. His boss is a black man and Charlie always addresses him as "Sir".


CODA III: For several weeks Chester drove to the club but never entered. He just wanted to see if Her car was there. For a while he privately imagined dancing with her in his home, but guilt soon suffocated even that. Satisfied she was never returning, Chester lost all hope of life and love. Stabbing stress gave him his first grey hairs.

Questions pitchforked any relaxing moment. Did I let her down? How could she want anything to do with me? Some big shot is probably fucking her right now and she's forgotten all about me. What could I offer her? She only knows my dancing from dancing with her, not the real me. I must have my integrity. Truth is, I'm just nothing. Or if not, I'm the world's biggest jerk.

In Chester's new Saturday night routine he drove his pickup down furious farm to market roads, losing his mind in the darkness; his castle nothing more than a prison to which return. Lost and confused, he looked no man in the eye, embracing his new false morality of nothingness. "As long as I'm nothing I did no wrong. Nothing I must be."

Death be not loud.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Death Be Not Loud, Part 2: Chester Climbs The Mountain

Chester Climbs The Mountain,
Is Rewarded By The View!

Chester did what everyone else did in the oil field. He worked hard covered in greasy grime, put in his hours with dog-like devotion and made no complaints. And yet, Chester never belonged, the perpetual Outsider. Behind his back his co-workers sneered at his "pretensions" and "aspirations." Chester's mouth was always writing checks he could not cash. They resented his living in a fantasyland - which is why when there was a practical joke to be played, it was played on him.

Lord knows what they would have done had they known the secret kept deep in the fancy of Chester.

Forty five miles up the highway from his trailer, an Amarillo club opened with little fanfare. A private indulgence of the famously eccentric millionaire Stanley Marsh III (of Cadillac Ranch fame), it had not been expected to pull a profit but rather be a gathering place for like minded souls however few. Chester was very much one of those souls.

For this was not just any club on the vast open plains of the Texas panhandle where the wind and oil pumps never cease, this was a dancing club. A city that refused to leave the Fifties, Amarillo still held deep suspicions on the notorious act of dancing. Perhaps the pillars of the community could tolerate a little boot scooting - maybe even a little dirty dancing - but not this, not disco dancing!

Every weekend possible (it was only open weekends), Chester snuck away on his stairway to heaven, escaping his castle walls for freedom's sweet taste. On the dance floor, he forgot Chester the Molester - he forgot the world - moving as one with the music, swept down a river of joy. Life held no boundaries under the flashing sparkles of paradise celebrating dreams he could not defend but knew to be true. Under the rotating crystal ball, Chester could die with no regrets.

Fearing revelation when confronted with a conflicting Saturday night invitation, he would accept with a strained smile, all the time fidgeting and longing to be at the one place where he felt important and alive. But this strand to life came with a price, for once tasted he hungered for more, to somehow take it back to his trailer and his kingdom. But he always felt so dirty in his world - how could such a feeling ever survive in his withering woe?

Why am I so excited this time? Nothing is different - is it? Unexplained anticipation electrified Chester on his usual weekly trek. The stars shone extra brightly in the sky, a tailwind at his back speeding him along. Sweaty palms gripped the thin steering wheel in nervous delight and Chester could only snort and laugh at his own condition.

But pulling into the club parking lot he did notice something different. An expensive, white SUV he'd never seen before. He couldn't take his eyes off it on his way in. His eyes adjusting to the darkness, he searched for the unknown face that must be the driver. And that's when he found her smile radiating through the smoke: Julie fucking Steel!

Earlier that day, the vaunted Ms. Steel had come to the attention of the Men-To-Boys group...

Killing animals made Charlie feel like the man he never was. With one foot in his father's world and one foot in his own, the daily diet of frustration ached for resolution. The sound of a rifle shot and the sight of dead beauty gave him that momentary resolution. He'd talk about that moment for days afterwards, hoping to reside in it despite boring the hell out of everyone around him. Luckily for Chester and Sam, a subject far more interesting appeared on TV.

"Maria Sharapova!" wailed Charlie, interrupting his own story. "Goddam, I'd like to fuck her! Look at them legs running down that ball." He made an unconscious pelvic thrust to prove his point.

"She can spank me till the sun comes up!" ventured Chester as proof of his devotion.

Sarcastic Sam was not to be outdone. "I'd suck a dick for her!" Sam had forgotten he was not alone.

Charlie channeled his father's voice. "Jesus, Sam, you need to get you a woman before you start walking around in a bra and panties! Fuck, I can't believe you talk like that!"

"Just get me that woman!" pleaded Sam, suddenly realizing how very much he was dying in the dominion of Dark America. Am I really going to die if I stay here?

"Just look at her face when she serves," remarked an entranced Chester. "Look at her concentration, you can see it in her eyes."

"You gonna fuck her for her mind, Chester?" Sarcastic Sam anxiously feared to regain his footing after the bloody faux pas he was sure to haunt him for eons to come.

"What's it to you?" retorted Chester in an unexpected show of strength. Sam sunk back into the couch.

"You two bitches wouldn't never have a shot at her no ways," scoffed Charlie, overestimating his worth as always. "You gotta handle up on them bitches like a man and show 'em who's boss!"

"What are you going to do?" Sam scoffed back, fighting for his life, "Wow her with your grammar?"

Charlie's below average school grades secretly rankled him (well, not a secret to the perceptive Sam) which wouldn't bother him that much if it didn't play into his fears of being too stupid to take the reins of the farm when time came. Tempers were rising in Chester's castle and he was desperate to change the subject.

"I saw her today."

"Bull-fucking-shit!" Charlie was ready to rail at anyone and everyone. "You didn't see no fucking Maria Sharapova."

"Not her. Julie Steel." To Chester - to all of them - she was one and the same as anyone famous. "She was coming out of the quickie mart dressed in these fancy boots and tight jeans. Boy, does she have style! It's like the dust moved around her."

Chester got the silence he hoped for as his compatriots stopped to imagine the described scene. Charlie added more news of the world.

"My dad told me she's come back permanent from Dallas to help run the ranch. Gonna be great watching her walk around town."

"Woman like that could save your soul," Sam observed with a sigh. No one contradicted him.

Swallowing his guilty life, Chester made a bee line across the dance floor to Julie refreshing herself at the bar. Any other place, any other time, he'd dare not approach her - or, if he had, it would be in stumbling disgrace. He surprised himself by his own confidence, fighting not to make it an out of body experience.

"Julie Steel!" In his mind he still sandwiched the word "fucking". "Bet you don't remember me."

He watched her eyes search their memory banks - and come up empty. "Afraid not," she graciously replied.

"We went to school together, I was a grade behind you." To sweep away the issue of himself, Chester added: "I heard you've come back to stay."

"You're Chester! Yeah, I remember you. Been a long time."

Chester could win ten lotteries and not feel that good again. Julie tried not to giggle seeing the shit eating grin her recognition had put on Chester's glowing face. She didn't have particularly fond memories of him - if any - but things were clicking so she decided to go with the flow. Plus he was most charming when next inviting her onto the dance floor.

Can she really be everything I dream her to be?

Watching her moves, marveling at her rhythmic soul, falling in love with her innocent joy, the one word that kept running through Chester's mind was "YES!" Yes, she was everything he dreamed her to be. Yes, he was more than he feared. And yes, there is a God.

Julie was ecstatic afterwards. "That was fantastic! I mean it, really. I had goosebumps."

"Me too!" stammered Chester. "The way you move - it's so perfect - like a dream!"

The pair absorbed the night into themselves, speaking of dancing and music, of life in both Dallas and the clean country air, never straying too far from the groove they created, reading the other's mind in perfect synchronicity, dancing when the spirit moved them, tenderly nurturing the newborn flower.

"Thank you!" inadequately summed up Chester as they parted. He wanted to thank everyone: the club owner, the workers who built it, the grass for growing and the world for living! He was in their eternal debt. How could he ever repay it? He started to say more, thinking his words too little but she saw the boundless gratitude in his eyes saying so much more than words ever could.

"Thank you, Chester. To tell the truth, I wasn't too thrilled about coming back. You really gave me something here tonight and I hope we can do it again."

Later, try as he might, Chester could not remember anything past that point, his head a thousand miles into the clouds. No longer could he fight the out of body experience as he watched himself walk back to his truck in the cool evening air, listening to the crunch of the gravel and the applause of the angels. It had been greatest night of his life - but he had no one to tell. On the drive home, Chester shouted to the moon.

Now he had two secrets: the dancing he kept from his mocking coworkers and jealous friends - and the fear he kept from her. What he couldn't explain - the state secret he dare not confess under any circumstances - was that all that she saw and loved that holy night happened only because of her. Chester had never danced that way before.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Death Be Not Loud

Far from the shining night lights of the big city lies Dark America, safe in rural seclusion. Sustained by a connection to the salty earth, imagination is left to roam freely across the plains of wheat and rows of corn to places long strangled from the confined mind of industrialization. To some this is a blessing of fresh air, to others a curse of life unexplored. But to most it held the communal bond of their most prized and possessive gift: the life unexamined.

Chester the Molester was happy with his unhappy life. He lived in a sagging trailer five miles outside the city limits of the farming community of White Deer, Texas. Drivers zooming past his humble abode gave it little notice but if they did most were grateful to not be its surely condemned occupant. Between the scattered shacks of rust and farm implements left to die in open fields, Chester's place blended into the landscape with chameleon-like efficiency. In fact, if asked, many who drove by would swear they had seen nothing at all.

But in Chester's mind, he was king of the world.

Working off and on in the oilfield, he got enough money to get by but a mountain of cash was never his goal. To live by his own rules was. He bristled at the hooks society demanded, making your business their business. Ruling his domain in lazy rot, nary a man alive intruded upon his kingdom, and that to Chester was life itself. If misery he was then misery he be. Don't like it? Go fuck yourself - and find your way off the property. The trailer, the land, the free air around him, he owned them all outright. To rest on your own land, staring up at the sky while secured by a sea of surrounding high pampas grass was a feeling beyond compare.

Chester pitied anyone who died never knowing that feeling.

Sarcastic Sam was a running mate of Chester. While the oil fields had bulked up and burned Chester's beefy skin through his tank top, Sam was a scrawny pale white with pasty ambitions. Unlike Chester, he was bitter about his unhappy life, venting with barbed wire words every chance he got. The tiny town had three main restaurants, each of which Sam had worked in due course. He worked a split shift as a breakfast cook, coming back in the evening as the line fry cook. Sam had long coveted the fry cook position and once having achieved it found it to be just another fucking dead end.

Since everyone else drove an American pickup, Sam gravitated towards a small Japanese car. He never wanted to be one of them. They were mere hicks, trembling in fear of the big city and its foreign ways. The idiots dismissed anything as different as bad. That's what drove Sam the most to be different in as many ways as possible. He proclaimed himself a champion of the liberal and open mind, superior to his rural brethren who slogged their way through life in unfounded conservative fear.

But a fly lay in Sam's vaunted ointment: his own fear to leave, to be exposed has a poser with no real convictions. Easy to be a liberal among the shit-kickers and Bible thumpers, but life in the big city meant facing the big time.

Charlie 'Barley' Couts walked as a human see-saw, his shoulders dipping from side to side in his highly distinctive gait topped by his John Deere perma-cap. His father walked that way and in Charlie's mind, it's his successful father whom he must be. Like any closed mind, he needed That Which Is Unquestionable. That his father was a Successful Man and that he can be no less was the absolute religion of Charlie. His life's path had been laid out for him, taking over the farm and doing the Lord's work of cultivating crops and feeding the masses, carrying on the no doubt envious tradition of his family.

But having never have had to find himself, Charlie lived in a hell of unperceived self-loathing. What if he were to face himself and find himself wanting, not up to the expected task? He'd be forever branded by his father and family a loser beneath contempt. At best, they might bear him in polite disdain as Charlie imagined they secretly wished he'd die and save them the embarrassment of association. He truly believed the glorious life of his father was out there, but to reach it seemed as far as the stars in the blinking night sky.

Around the clock these insecurities ate on Charlie in devilish mayhem, alcohol his only escape. They also led him to say what he was going to say next as the evening news came on the television.

"Goddam, I can't believe we got a nigger running this country!"

Charlie and Sam had come over to Chester's trailer to help him seal his windows with some heat-shrink plastic he'd bought, but mostly the pair just drank beer, watching Chester and his satellite TV. Charlie's parental household contained much political talk. "Washington is ruining this country!" "Godless heathens want to tell us how to live our lives!" "All they want to do is take away our guns!" Charlie loved the opportunity political, of the sweet surrender of calling out someone as full of shit - the same shit he knew was full to be.

"There's some great political insight!" smirked Sam, always ready to goad anyone into anything.

"Four more years of that and you can kiss this country goodbye! What I wouldn't give to get the chance to straighten his black ass out. That boy don't know nothin’ from nothin’!"

Sam in his old Bill the Cat T-shirt was swimming in it now. "And people say country folk are racist!"

"Fuck you, smart mouth. You know I eat lunch with Freddy all the time and I'd call him better friend than you if I had to."

Chester turned around from the blow dryer he was using to seal the plastic. His opinions were almost always reactionary in nature. "I don't know. I think he's got some good ideas, about rebuilding the infrastructure and stuff. What's wrong with that?" Chester didn't know if he was a racist or not but he knew he didn't want to be called one. Sam - Chester's version of a man of the world - would know a racist when he saw one and it was to Sam whom he secretly had addressed his reply.

But Chester's openness to accepting a "nigger President" was an arrow Charlie could not endure. Charlie viewed politics in is most pure form: as voting on who should be loved. The idea of a black, big city boy who went to Harvard held up as the example of who he should be blinded Charlie with rage. He rebuked Chester as an "uninformed idiot" but his tone was clear: That's a person I can never be!

Chester was pissed, he'd just gotten out of the racist frying pan only to be called an idiot. If only he knew the elusive correct answer no one could dispute! But Sam had been cut to the quick with Charlie's claim Freddy was a better friend. He liked Freddy too but Freddy was black and listened to rap. They all three hated rap! But since Sam was rarely his own friend, he fretted over Charlie's charge and pined to strike back.

"Don't worry, Charlie, one day you'll grow up to be an educated black man speaking in complete sentences in front of large audiences wildly applauding. I can see it now. I is Charlie Barley and I grad-ee-ated sixth grade! Vote for my weenie!"

"Fuck you. I ain't no racist..." Charlie was fighting too many demons to say more. His father was a classic racist, fearing a man for the color of his skin - or even the length of his hair. Charlie hated the fact he never stood up for himself, never stated his true feelings - never doing what he knew he truly needed to do to become a man. And how would his father react when he found out he was no man?

Chester saw his chance to come off as peacemaker, swinging his opinion the other way to shore up Charlie's needs.

"You gotta admit, Sam, he's not gonna look out after us. He makes fun of us and not only that you know for sure the man don't hunt. No black man ever gonna hunt!"

"Black man get hunted," blurted Charlie, momentarily coming out of his inner battle, impossibly hoping his father could hear him. Sam would have none of it.

"You just want someone more like you, eh, Chester? Big white hunter, not meaning nothing, just a good old boy?"

"Yeah! Everyone votes for the guy most like he is. What's wrong with that?"

"You mean some ignorant, backwards ass barnstormer who doesn't know shit from shinola mindlessly shooting everything in sight?"

Charlie mindlessly responded. "Hell, yeah! Fuck 'em up!"

"We are already had one of those," Sam dryly observed. He imagined how big city liberals would cheer him if they could see him now - but would they really? He longed to know.

"I'll take anything over some black bastard blaming us for all his problems!" Charlie regained himself with a fully approved remark while not treading too heavily on his own feelings.

"This country's going to hell!" Chester authoritatively interjected, fearing to fall behind. He'd heard the claim too many times not to believe it. It's what People In The Know always said - even though Chester had no idea what exactly was bringing the country down. You work, you get paid, everything works out OK just like it always has. What's wrong with that? But it wasn't until after he imparted his pearl of wisdom Chester realized he had no follow up.

"Someone should put you two parrot heads on TV. Not an original thought between you." Sam said this knowing he'd never have the balls to show own his face on TV. "Catch the new comedy act: Oral and Barley!"

Barley took exception, in essence to make fun of him was to make fun of his father - and he knew that was wrong.

"You're a frickin' fry cook! Like you know shit. This country needs farmers like me to keep going. Needs oil workers like Chester too." Chester straightened up. "What you got anyway, Sam?"

"World needs fried chicken too!" bravely bluffed Sam, who inside was crestfallen. It was true: he offered nothing to no one. If he ever thought he could he'd move away in a pounding heartbeat, the very fact he lived in Dark America proof of his loserhood.

The trailer was silent except for the sound of the TV no one heard. Chester was left in the same fog all political conversations left him. He hated that feeling of inadequacy. Sam still smarted from the charge of worthlessness on his contribution to mankind. No one's going to love me for my political views. Charlie ached for a drink to settle the now heightened inner conflict between being himself and being his father. All three saw no way out.

Sam prayed to seek redemption with news to re-bind their friendship. Please, please, please don't look at me. Look at that over there and bless me as the messenger. "Guess who I saw in the restaurant the other day?" He made sure the other two looked over to recognize the seriousness of his announcement. "Julie fucking Steel!"

Julie Steel - one of the famously gorgeous Steel girls of the Steel Ranch - was as exotic a creature as any Hollywood star coming to town. She was an Untouchable from their shared high school days, the head cheerleader about whom one heard myths and legends, dreaming them to be true. Just the thought of her presence an elixir for their tainted souls to be a vicarious light in their lives.

Chester and Charlie responded as Sam had hoped: coming to life and no one asking internal questions anymore. Sam also relayed the breathless rumor she was here to stay. But unknown to the boys, if the rumor proved true, all their paths would be altered, never to be the same again - dreaded and feared Change upon the horizon.

Read the exciting conclusion in part 2!