Set in the jungles of Brazil or a strip of land off the 5 freeway near Stockton or someplace else entirely. I take creative liberations or ridiculous misconstructions depending on the date and time. I like to make up words and the meanings those words will ultimately connote. All in all, these words are fictional; my life is completely make-believe. I do not exist, not circumstantially and certainly not realistically. This is ghostwriting in the truest sense. Boo!
Night makes it sound so ordinary. It wasn’t night but it certainly wasn’t day. Day is not scary; things that make the gooseflesh appear on the skin of your arm do not traditionally happen in the day. There is too much light for daytime to be scary. No, this was blackness, a blackout, the absence of a sun, the way it might look to sunbathe on the surface of Neptune. The sun was only as bright as a distant star then, warming us not at all, and providing nothing but shimmery aesthetic beauty for us to look on at and indulge in kind.
I was having one of my usual sleepless, horror-filled nights where I imagine myself a corpse rotting in a heart-shaped coffin and all the people around me are also corpses and I get this sick sort of rapid heart beat that makes me viscerally hate the idea that I was ever born because I could die, I might die, I will die at some point and that moment right before death scares me more than the possibility of a hundred overdoses, a thousand rejections from guys that are too hot for me, a million daggers to my metaphorical, under-emotional, drug-calloused heart muscle. I fear death more than lizards, more than the number 117, more than my exoskeleton shattering to pieces on an unforgiving asphalt after being catapulted off the Empire State Building, which is only coincidentally like 14 stories shorter than that fateful number. I’ve been on top once.
Of course I realize most of those things listed neatly above would result in a type of death, here or there, through heart attacks or the sheer will not to live, to unlive in fact, after something so horrific has assaulted my carefully constructed, wholly not invulnerable, pinpricked and poisoned mind. But I cannot unlive, not at this point and not anymore. My parents ripped that privilege away from me with selfish indifference to my own wants and whims when they conceived me and made the decision to birth me. Narcissists!
I can wish easily now that I was never born, but suicide is so repugnant, so utterly despicable that I will never entertain the thought of it. Now that I have life flowing through my veins in the manifestation of blood and cells, I cannot and will not snuff it out. I am stuck here to live it out (even though I wish for the never was and the never will be), because the idea of death is just so viscerally gruesome that I cannot bear the idea of it. Now that I am alive, the only thing that I can rationally wish for is the impossibility of immortality. And that is a huge caldron of disappointment in and of itself because unlike Tuck, I have no magic elixir that will make me, and the people I care for, eternally eternal.
That was a tangent that I indulged initially because I thought it would be less reprehensible than one stuck in the middle or toward the end of this hasty and un-thought-out story. In actuality, I am here in this forum now to tell that story, an accounting of something that might have been a dream, or a reality laced in dream material, or maybe the ill effects of narcotics, or maybe a slathering of both those things laying waste to my mind as those things are wont to do, telling me what I should think or what I should feel as if I am nothing more than an animal, nothing more than a mess of tissues like an organism that is ruled by a science that I don’t understand.
But I listen because I must. Now, where was I? Yeah the story, of course.
There we were surveying the property, a property that I did not recognize but one that I got the distinct feeling that the others with me recognized quite well. I should have probably recognized it, but I didn’t. By then the night was over and it was day, early day, past twilight and into the gripping, rising temperature of the summer sun probably around ten o-clock in a place that resembled my California. I’m pretty sure it was Los Angeles; it could have been San Diego.
The sun was out and the sky was blue, almost brilliantly so. It didn’t make sense, at least insofar as I was there, following directly behind them, watching them take account of the storm, the storm that would end up being legendary, the storm of the night before that was gone now without a trace from the sky. I categorize it as legendary only because tales of it would be told many times in the future within the confines of my extended family. And the story over the years would always morph into an acceptable distortion of what actually happened. Which is basically as follows.
My father was there, following cats as they ran around sniffing and investigating things on the ground. I think for the most part my father likes to watch them explore as he does, even knowing that they are hunting different things. They hunt lizards, which is both good and bad in my opinion. I like the fact that they are cutting down on the lizard population because lizards are utterly reprehensible and deserve to die brutal deaths, but it’s bad because they typically bring back the carcasses of said lizards, which on some occasions aren’t so much carcasses as full on, still alive organisms in the shape of lizards and they hide under the treadmill, my treadmill, and attack me at the most inopportune of times. So mostly I hate cats, and lizards, and anything else that I find aesthetically displeasing and that outwardly wishes to cause me physical harm.
My mother was there too, surveying the property with us, and it was odd because she is not known for being outdoorsy and certainly not known for surveying property. But she was there too, investigating alongside me, intrigued almost unnaturally by the cats that she typically tends to abhor, making me feel like I have been the ghost in this story all along, and not some other indefinable character. Like me, my mother tends to be partial to bunny rabbits because they are cute and altogether better than dogs and cats combined. So it was weird for her to be out there watching cats. But I suppose it was also weird for me to be there. The whole scene was weird and gave me a distinct feeling of unrest.
The ground was uneven, filled with sunken and overflowed gopher holes, long since abandoned, and I was finding it harder and harder to keep up without turning my ankle and causing some lifelong troubles to assail me. Everything was dirty, grassy, and muddy, and I don’t like the idea of dealing with a mess. My mother diligently followed my father around, who was diligently following cats around, inside and out of turns, holes, and fences. I didn’t like the setting, not one bit. And I had no idea how I found myself there.
It was a jungle, a swampy forest with fallen trees, some vines and fence boxes to climb upon and ponder about. How did those fence boxes come to fall in this place? Where did they come from? Did the storm carry them distances? Did it plant them there after a long journey? Their presence confused me. I seemed to be the only one who found them distinctly out of place. I’ve never known fence boxes to be constructed and carried by storms.
My father began to yell at the cats for going too fast and getting lost from his view. He hates when cats get lost because it makes him nervous that they will become coyote fodder. It’s not an unrealistic fear; we have provided the coyotes with a good amount of cat fodder over the years. Unintentionally of course.
I started listening to my mother who, by the nature of the conversation, seemed to have been talking, talking, talking, about something that I was only beginning to take note of. She was bragging about how she was sewing during the thunderstorm the night before, the unyielding thunderstorm that poured all this rain onto the property and turned it into a jungle, a playground of ropes, vines, and fallen trees. And fence boxes.
Apparently Karen and some of her friends were asking my mother questions about her sewing feats. They likened her to batman. How did you sew in the midst of a thunderstorm, they asked her interestedly. Weren’t you scared of electrocution? Did your project turn out despite the horrendous conditions? Those types of questions. I wasn’t there during the interview but my mother was bragging about her conquests at the time we were surveying the property. She thought herself to be a minor celebrity. I found the whole thing silly and confusing but I refrained from saying so. I wasn’t even sure that I existed in the same way that everyone else did.
She continued to brag heavily about her amazing feat and my father continued to follow cats around. It was rather ordinary in its extraordinariness. My mother really dug the idea that these kids were looking up to her and her accomplishments with sewing and doing it during a thunderstorm and all that. I can understand the feeling but I’m not sure I understand anything about those few minutes of time. I said nothing and kept following the madness.
“Hey, be careful!” my dad shouted at my mom, sounding like an authoritarian. He was yelling at her because it is “rough terrain” and he thought that she was going to fall and twist her ankle or something. He constantly worries about her overdoing things. She is an over doer. She was climbing all over those fence boxes, getting up on top of them and looking around, trying to locate cats on the property. I don’t even know why she cared to locate felines, they are so ridiculously unimportant in the big scheme of things. I would be on her side completely if she was trying to locate bunnies.
Regardless, my mother continued to climb from one fence box to another, weird little obstructions that appeared to have been dumped by the storm or maybe something else entirely. But these obstructions in the shape of beautiful fenced in cubes had no effect upon her whatsoever. She seemed to have no problem scaling, mounting, and extinguishing them as if they were nothing at all, as if she were Mario or Luigi, wild and capable plumbers, sewer-dwellers of the most unique kind. I was awestruck as I remained on the ground with my father, hands in my pockets, looking on at the scene developing before us. Those boxes were never there before but they were there now. At least, I never observed them or noted them accordingly.
The cats had a much easier time navigating the storm-tangled mess than my mother. My father begged for her to stand down and stop “screwing around” as he likes to put it. He doesn’t follow the cats as closely because he thinks they will return to the property at nightfall; he has different thoughts about my mother entirely. I believe my mother follows the cats out of a selfless concern for their wellbeing and to ensure their continued prosperity for my father’s sake, as I would do for circumstantially the same reasons. She followed them that day and climbed upon the fences to search for them probably because she wanted to prove she could keep up with the hyperactive cats, explore the crevices and negotiate the twists and turns as well as an agile feline could. I’m not sure why such a feat holds such importance to her. But it clearly did that day.
This is where the story turns, mostly because it is at this point that I must make up the rest in my deluded mind, for my dream was rudely interrupted by Tegan, herself waking up or faking it, lamenting her unhappiness and relaying her night of utter displeasure, for the state of that hotel room we as a family stayed in that night -- Tegan, our mother, our father, and me -- somewhere in the Brazilian rain forest or off the 5 freeway. It was truly a nightmare of sorts, the grim circumstances of the trip, the loud and un-precise snoring that assailed her right away and assailed me much later on, later when I could almost think to acknowledge the sun creeping over the hill, the hour as five in the morning. I have recovered, but barely because I took the first shift. But I will not bore this recounting with such details.
I still wonder and wonder I should, had Tegan made it through the night unscathed as I cannot now claim? Or had she suffered the same fate as myself, diligently and without societal regard, trekked on through the burroughs (unrelated) of self–reflection that others ignore, to this place of unrestrained and unasked for notoriety, to answer (or at least something that resembles answer) all the questions we seek by virtue of being human and unintelligent when it comes to such things. How did the death we had come there to mourn actually happen? How could it all make sense?
There I was, in a shitty hotel room, in an unknown land, somewhere in and between Brazil and California, a place I cannot now describe. But I was there, wondering how boxed in fences have anything to do with my mind, except in the clear-cut and literal sense. Why was I there? Could this ultimately become my fate? Or something else entirely? These are answers I’ll never be able to have.
I do know that I was in and around the area for a funeral, a memorial, for a person that I knew but not well, a person I should have spent more time with but didn’t, a person that was by all accounts a really awesome and fantastic person in all senses and definitions of the word. I was simply awestruck by the people, the stories, and the sheer number of lives that she touched in a positive way. Is it a trade-off in the end? Can we only be great in life to die tragically in the end? Is it only those who suffer in life who can make it to peaceful deaths? I loathe the idea of belonging to either category.
I’d like to end this pointless story on a positive note but I have never known positivity in twenty-six years. That may seem outrageous but it is in fact the truth. Positivity in its purest sense has always eluded me. But in closing I will say this and I will fool myself into thinking it is revelatory because that is what all egoists with narcissistic personality disorder might do. The present is and will always be the time of our lives, the time where legends are born and the time for revelry, because right now we are young, we are in our twenties and capable of such unrelenting, unredeeming, self-indulgent things that no one else could possibly imagine, accepting poisonous playthings into our veins with eager disregard, drinking ridiculous intoxicants into our stomachs and accepting tangled stimulants into our nasal cavities, like we are invincible, invulnerable, and incapable of the mortality that the rest of the world falls prey to everyday, because we are different, because we are young, and time treks by and flies by at the same time, unrepentant and all-consuming, but we enjoy it for the time being because this is our time of being.
And there is no “The End.”