Chapter Eleven: Problematic Solution Dissolved
“Space may be the final frontier
But it’s made in a
Cobain can you hear the sphere
Singing songs off station to station
And Alderon’s not far way
The Red Hot Chili Peppers . Californication
The taste of blood was heavy in the back of his throat, the iron-heavy water of the shower splashing over his back and shoulders, seeping down over the custom tattoo between his shoulder blades, trying to wash the ink beneath the skin away. Like a boulder pounded by a waterfall, he stood there in the shower, black as pitch, listening to a Pink Floyd compilation. His mind swirled and spun, trying to grapple with the thoughts he was thinking, the feelings he was feeling, the hell he envisioned. Soapy hands clawing at his chest, pulling at the flesh, pulling away chunks of nothing, trying to reach the hollow behind his ribs, and he knew that if he could make it there, all he’d find was a black, withered thing that was supposed to be his heart. He knew there’d be nothing there but the painful static hiss of a record spinning, needless.
He swallowed hard, unable to focus any longer on the construct of his mind, unable to comprehend what it was he was thinking. He knew that he had fouled, and he knew there was harm done, even if no one else noticed. He always did that, notice the things no one else seemed to, and he always said that it was the little things that mattered. The small and minute things, the things everyone else seemed to take advantage of, that really mattered. The big, traumatic things, they were only a smoke screen. He scoffed to himself. A smoke screen? Of what? Some governmental conspiracy concerning pain? Yeah, right skeezix, none of this is real, he thought and realized that for once, he believed what he was saying. He was rationalizing on his feet, and it felt good. He wasn’t speaking. The world seemed silent around him, wrapped around him like the afghan his mother had knitted before he was born. The silent air around him; unstirred and unmoving felt safe and comforting. Nothing mattered, not at this moment, not to him. He was alone and safe. Away from the world that seemed to be building up on his shoulders, and trying to either shatter him or suck him dry. He wasn’t entirely sure of their intentions.
The population of the world, one billion fucking succubae.
With a sturdy cough, he watched through the inky oblivion as a clot of blood landed against the far shower wall, and slowly follow the stream of water down to the tub and further down the drain, swirling into the depths of Nowhere,
“Wow, you don’t have an accent.”
“Yeah, I don’t want to sound like those assholes.”
“My mother’s from
“Well, I meant all those other assholes.”
The scene from Natural Born Killers played in his head; giving him a small, pained laugh as he shut the window into hell, the life in the shower head failing like a heart monitor without a watt of electricity. It all went down, and then he opened the shower curtain, the only ounce of light coming from the red LED display of the CD player. Shaking dry, he stepped out and forward, pulling the towel from the rack suspended on the back of the door. Wrapping it around his waist, he flipped the light switch and squinted at the extraneous light now pouring down over him, filling the shadows with disease, felling them to the ground in one final breath. Arching his back, he retrieved another towel and began drying his hair, turning to look into the mirror. Watching his self with a mild confusion.
The man staring back at him looked like no one he had ever seen before. Someone wholly new. This wasn’t him.
Closing his eyes, he left the bathroom and walked through the now silent apartment, lying back on the couch, swallowed by the cool breeze coming from the vent over him, goose flesh covering his own, an uncountable bunch of tiny bumps claiming his body for their own.
He was no longer himself.
× X ×
Joshua’s eyes fluttered open, and there she was, a silhouette framed by the double glass doors leading to the balcony, silhouetted by the falling sun. He hadn’t seen her in a long while, and honestly, he had missed her. There was something non-threatening about her. Something he could never fear, something that could never harm him, something perfect and infallible about her. He loved her, the way he could love no other.
His frontal lobe twitched as she approached, the silhouette never fading. His ebony love. Reaching up from the couch, he caressed her stomach, an alabaster hand print lingering. Slipping fluidly to her knees, their lips met and soon her entirety was the same colour of the handprint, and her hair was albino-blonde. His love. This was his love, and there was nothing he could do to let it go. He knew that she would for always be there, making him, hers. Making her, his. Together, they were each others; and together, they were one.
Light as a feather, her fingers danced across his bare skin, sending rivers of chills down his spine, quivering like the current. Not a sound was heard as she slipped atop him, his body warm under hers, shaking mildly with anticipation as she lowered herself down, her knees hard against the cushion of the couch as he eased into her in one single motion; silently she moaned.
Lay back and let me show you another way.
Their eyes held together throughout, their muscles splicing themselves together, becoming one entity as the butterfly of her shoulder blades became his, and the blood coursing through his veins became hers, breathing life into the mystics of her body. And, together as one, they buckled. A bridge falling deep into the ocean of ecstasy, and together they lay against the smooth silt of a riverbed, silently pulled apart by the undertow.
Rising to her feet, just as smoothly as she had straddled him, she returned to her window, a silhouette against a full moon and a starry night.
“Damn you, van Gogh.” He whispered silently, turning his head as he heard Beth’s key hit the lock.
× X ×
“Hey, Josh.” She said, closing the door behind her, returned by a weary grunt of recognition. “Sleep well?”
“Yeah, I guess. How was work?”
“Decent, as far as I could tell. Wasn’t really paying attention for the most part, do you think you’re ready for tomorrow night? First broadcast.”
“I know what’s going on tomorrow, and I’m as prepared as I could ever be. I don’t know. It’ll be weird. But whatever, what’s life without a little change?” he asked, staring at her, a pain deep set in his eyes.
“Good point.” She quipped, poking him idly in the side, as he rose up off the couch and headed to the bedroom. “Josh, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Why?”
“I don’t know, you’ve just seemed distant the past few weeks.”
“Yeah, it happens. Just one of my moods, I guess. I don’t know, haven’t really been paying attention.” He poked his head out of the door half-dressed, a shit-eating grin plastered across his face. “Meeting at the diner tonight?”
“As far as I know, no one’s called me to cancel, you?”
“Nope. A lot of things to finalize before tomorrow night, like positions and scheme’s. Hopefully we can pull this off. I just hope nothing gets in the way, and/or fucks this up; I’m curious about political standpoints, and all kinds of other red tape. We’ll see, I guess.”
“Well, Josh, think about it for a second. You’re going to be talking about the anti-thesis of God-almighty in a state chocked full of bible-thumpers and child-fucking priests. You’ll be lucky to make it out alive. Just whatever you say, don’t ever say; ‘I had a dream…’ the last person that did got himself shot, alright? And don’t call yourself Lord, because if you don’t remember from popular-belief history, the last one got crucified. Just be careful, and don’t piss too many people off.”
“Easier said than done. You said it yourself… we’re wrapped in the middle of the bible-belt. We’re fucked, starting off.”
“You’re absolutely insane, you know that?”
“Maybe, but sanity is a worry of only the living. Now, let’s go.” He said, lighting a cigarette as he stepped out of the bedroom.
× X ×
Four wheels spinning madly on the blacktop as Incubus lulled Josh past the fifty-five mile per hour marker on the dash, glowing bright green in the darkness of the car, like the Jesus of our age. Shining omnisciently as the sidelines and road sped past. Yellow lights all the way, going blink-blink-blink, flying overhead in a blur. The world was clear, and the world was theirs. Puddles exploded under the car, like pools of blood under their feet. Surveying the upcoming strip, he let off the gas and pulled into the parking lot. In a space towards the front, he dropped the car into park, and tapped out a small bump of cocaine onto the side of his hand, taking it and then another, one up each nostril. His mind sparked, setting the world on fire.
“Good morning girlchicks and plastactiongirlboys. How’re we doing this fine and lovely evening? This surreal moment of being. This moment of life that we’ll never have again, but most assuredly will forget?” he smiled, slipping into the booth next to Bruce and Jami.
“We’re doing fine. How about you, speed queen?” Bruce retorted, with a sideways glance.
“Not at all too unwell, pokey. I had an epiphany tonight.”
“Did you really?” Bruce continued, looking curiously across the table at Kathryn and David.
“Sure enough, but I’m going to be a prick, and I’m not going to tell you yet. Not until tomorrow night. But anyways,” he took a breath, and calmed down a bit, the firing of his nerves slowed and he was able to process a coherent thought, fully. “what’s been going on about town, tonight?”
“Well, everywhere that we could, we plastered flyers up. Dave and Kathryn went up to
“Well, I got some writing done, and I think I have my… sermon, down. But I still need to do a bit of editing, and what-not. We’ll see. Yeah, we’ll see. I don’t know. Not entirely. Not yet. Nothing is positive. Nothing’s in stone, yet. Yet. Yet. Yet. Fuck. This is insane.”
“Is it now?”
“Yeah. But, we need to settle on who’s doing what, and what’s going on. Bruce, I was thinking you should handle the camera, Kathryn the lighting, David and Beth standing behind me or off stage-left, and Jami could take care of the make up? Any objections?”
They all answered with either a nod, or some form of ‘no’, and watched as the waitress approached. Having not even given the menu a glance, or a thought, Josh waved her on, and asked for a few minutes before, lighting a cigarette and finally cracking the spine on the all too familiar book of laminated poster board. He didn’t need to look, he just wanted to see if anything sparked his taste buds, but nothing did.
“Fuck it. Let’s get out of here.” He sighed, closing the menu in disgust, and dropping it onto the table.
“I concur.” Kathryn said, taking a glimpse outside. “It’s too beautiful a night to spend it in this grease pit.”
× X ×
Flat on his back, Josh stared up through the pollution of the city; he stared up at the dark, seedy yellow moon, a golden hole in the sky, a golden halo of the future. In the distance, somewhere on the playground equipment, he heard the rest of them laughing and enjoying themselves, as he was drifting in and out of consciousness. He was suspended again, but it wasn’t coke this time, it was acid. His old and dear friend, the friend that had gave him many nights of hallucinatory moon gazing, moon conversing. Yes, his other friend; the man in the moon.
Reaching up, away from the earth and past the atmosphere, he touched the moon and said hello, caressing the loosely powdered cheek, and kissing the darkened, concave lips. “Man on the moon,” he said, “show me the answer to the question to which I seek. Show me the path in which I am to take. Show me, show me love, my friend. You’re always there, and you’ve always been. You’re my friend, and nothing will change such a thing.”
The moon smiled back, and parted it’s lips of rock, “Joshua, my boy, you are right. Nothing will come between us; we’ll always be the way we are. Now, let me show you another way. Something pure, something genuine. Something natural and something destined.” The moon nodded, telling Josh to lie back, to return to the earth, and gave a slight shudder and a change began to overcome the moon.
The deepest yellow became a silvery, mercurial blue and the eyes came alive, billowing warm and comforting flames with swirling, cycling pupils. In the forehead came a slit, a deep gash fluttered open and belched fire from the cavity. There, staring him broadly in the face was a true vision; three warm and wild eyes, calling his name, calling him home. He knew what to do and where to go. He knew everything he had been craving. He now had the knowledge for which he had sought so many years.
The answer was here all along.
“Josh.” A soothing voice whispered; the blue, shimmering face he had just met shriveled, replaced by the golden moon. “Josh.” The voice called again, speeding in from the distance, becoming clear.
“Yes?” he awoke with a shake, staring up into Kathryn’s ice blue eyes.
“Are you okay?” she asked, her delicate fingernail running from his chin to his hairline.
“Yeah, just fine. Marvelous, in fact. I’ve found it. I’ve found the answer. By the way, we need to talk tomorrow night, before the show begins, okay?”
“Yeah, fine.” She answered softly, watching as he scurried to his feet and towards his car.
Dropping into the driver’s seat, he dug around in the back for a pen and a notebook, so he could put his thoughts into words before they slid away; under the table, to the floor, and through the slats to the tell-tale heart.
× X ×
A cigarette dangling from his lip, a long end of ash curling down towards the notebook, he scratched out his signature and hurled the pen against the windshield, watching it plink off and land in the seat to his right. He had his message, his mission statement. He had what he wanted to say, he had what the world needed to hear. Tearing out the sheet and folding it crisply, he tucked it into his back pocket, against his wallet, and rejoined the others on the playground, mind swelling and swirling with victory. He had risen victorious over his fears and his doubts of self. They all sat up on the jungle gym, most of their trips peaking, they stared up at the star filled ceiling and could do nothing but smile. They had reached the point where words were pointless, and they spoke in silent tongues, their minds converging as one, sending thoughts and feelings, as opposed to something so limiting, such as words.
As climbed up the steel giant towards them, all he could hear inside his head was his own maniacal laughter of glory. Laying back, he smiled up at the stars and nodded to the man in the moon. His dear old friend, who sent him the answer he had craved for what seemed like eternity.