Highway 17 Revisited
Twisted Metal 3 used to be my favorite video game. Ready to get twisted? To me it wasn't as much of a slogan as it was an eternal question that held the key to my destiny. Then one day I realized I had to put down the controller. And it was totally like pulling my hand out of the box in Phantasm because I could only do it if I had no fear.
I remember my first punk rock concert. The band had their amps turned up loud. So loud that no one heard a warning, shouted in earnest, that psychomagnetheric slime was bleeding out of the club's walls. I pushed my friend into the mosh pit. It was like watching a sock in the dryer.
"Like watching a sock in the dryer?" C said. "A simile? Okay, if I'm the reader I'm not really believing you as a narrator right now. It's like one minute you're this hardcore punk rocker and the next minute you're Charles Dickens or something."
C and I were in a conference room. Everyone rose to their feet as the general and his aides approached the podium.
"Ladies and gentlemen, you've already figured out that if this wasn't important you wouldn't be standing here on the U.S. government's top secret moon base." the general said. "So I won't waste any of your time or, more importantly, mine. As you may or may not know, we lost contact with the mars outpost at approximately 16:00 yesterday. This morning the hubble space telescope took this image."
The picture on the viewscreen was blurry but unmistakable: a row of space invaders, each one six pixels tall and over seven pixels wide.
"The eggheads at nasa tell me we have 12 hours until they reach earth. This base is the planet's last line of defense. You've all been called here because each of you possesses a unique talent vital to the success of this mission. You are the best and the brightest - earth's last hope."
"It's kind of sad how this is the most time we've spent together in the last 6 months." C whispered to me.
Fridays at Mcdonalds are a Dante-esque journey through fast food hell. Last friday someone tried to rob our store. I explained to him as calmly as I could that if he fired his gun he'd rupture the cooling system and cause a thermonuclear explosion. Current mood: depressed. Current music: Friday I'm in Love.
"So what if you promised your childhood friends you'd go back to Derry if the evil clown ever returned." C said. "Just tell them the truth, that you don't want to go because you don't relate well to groups of people. They'll understand."
"People." I said. "You can't live with them and you can't stab them in the face."
New Hampshire is like a black hole at night. People were driving home from the factories, cursing the rogue asteroid that's gravitational pull had plucked the earth from its solar orbit and sent it hurtling into the cold recesses of deep space. We tell ourselves that if we make it through this long, bleak winter we'll change our desktop background. Maybe to a sandy beach or that photo of a dilapidated shed that comes with Windows ME.
"This unisex slave jumpsuit is giving me some serious camel toe." I said.
"You should've gotten the extra large size like me." C said. "Check it out, you totally can't even tell that I'm wearing a diaper."
C and I looked on helplessly as the blue team made off with our flag. In the face of absolute loss the painter no longer has any use for the fiery red shades of anger or the subdued sepia tones of sadness. I could hear my cell phone's Toejam & Earl ringtone playing, its every note a broken promise.
Two college students, Ari and Ryla, were sitting in a dorm room.
"You know, you shouldn't air out your vagina in the winter." Ari said. "It might get frostbite. Although on the plus side I guess that might kill off some of the centipedes."
"Hey, at least I've never masturbated to a pregnancy ultrasound." Ryla said.
C and I signed up for Fark forum accounts. Alien zombie slug entering through the mouth, attaching itself to brain stem. Subject becomes a mindless drone. "If there were any truth in the universe they'd change the name of the site from Fark to Fark: with Wil Wheaton's dick in your mouth you speak only in vowels." C said.
My plasm is filled with something resembling hope. My energy is the energy flowing through Mark Knopfler's agile fingertips as they explode into the thinking man's guitar solo. Wearing my best dress, I take a blonde wig from the ancient gallery and walk on down the hall.
"Halo eight was The Downward Spiral." I said. "I think halo nine was just some previously released tracks run through flange effects."
"Remember back when even the most mediocre Nine Inch Nails songs sounded like choruses of neptunian jellyblimps serenading us with empyreal siren songs not of this world?" C said.
"Yes, we'll always have that tea in Paris."
As the zombies overran the city it felt like my day had just begun. When I totaled their orders the drive-thru customers at Mcdonalds always said "thank you". I wondered if this spirit of courtesy would be the first thing to go as society crumbled.
"I can't believe my psychiatrist put me on antidepressants that will make me gain weight even though he knows I'm trying out for the cheerleading squad." I said. "Let's be total bitches and overdose on our medications. We'll be flirting with death, just like any black man who reaches for his wallet in front of a cop."
"Uh, I really need to get home and study for my power loader operator's license test." C said.
Harvest by Neil Young is one of my dad's favorite albums. It came out when he had just gotten out of SOLDIER and was ready to start his new life. Somewhere atop a crude structure made from the bones of its enemies sits the western dream, staring at the sea with cold eyes.