Those are my words, you pseudo-cogitating fistulas, you!
I wonder if I can sue. I wonder if this is really happening. Where am I? Sentences and whole passages from my book of short stories spurt aloud and across the Gate 10 Departure area of Long Beach Airport . . . Somewhere behind me. Or to the left . . . Teen voices, quoting from my book, punctuating each utterance with grand inquisitorial laughter.
Sure, that’s how it works: first they read the list of crimes, then they burn you alive with cackles heated on the predatory steel of tooth braces. It’s male and female both, possibly fluid-gendered in the mix, but that’s none of my business.
In fact, I don’t want any business, I’ve just left StokerCon 2017 held at the famously haunted Queen Mary hotel, nevermind the pleasure, it was business, too and I slept one hour before taking the taxi here. I need to get a grip, assess the situation, explore the myriad of tactics I might need to implement, eliminate those beyond my capabilities, given my lack of sleep.
What makes this damned possibly-pickle so damned is that the mocking voices are quoting my best lines as though they were the confessions of a fat, pimply geek just another peer-tease or two away from posting his suicide on You Tube.
They go on and on. My ass is beat, my flight’s just been delayed for three hours due to weightlifting winds over JFK, I want some peace. But then
one of the
“This book should be burned, this is the worst book ever.”
I’m like, Wut?! How’d I get dragged from 2017 into the 16th Century--when are we, who am I, Giordano Bruno? The Anti-Christ?
Stupid question: If I am the antipode of an imaginary deity, then everyone’s the Anti-Christ. No great shakes there. What Would Jesus Do? Since he and Holly Hobby are ontologically identical, I guess he’d do nothing.
Also, no way anyone can talk about my masterpiece like that. Also-also, what’re the chances that the author of a book that’s sold 7 copies to-date would find himself in such a situation? Too verkakte. It can’t be real. I can’t rule out hallucinations. Deduce, man. Go back in time.
Before my 60 unconscious sleeping minutes, it was Jack and Cokes, several brownies with many secret ingredients baked by baked maniacs with many secrets and obscure motives. Those brownies were so powerful, I’d hallucinated Donald Trump was the president of the United States . . . I’d walked into mirrors, I have the vaguest sense of undergoing conversion to a belief-system involving people as altars, or at least observing the rite . . . Or, forming such a group with myself as Hierophant. Hymn . . .
All the vaping. New to a New Yorker. It’s ubiquitous, like farts in cartoons—like farts in real life—California air is secondhand and sedating. One plastic tube after another shoved into my blabbering mouth countless times—by different parties, strangers, friends too new to be trusted . . .
Perhaps I had been saying terrible things. Chances were high. Oh, fuck it, you KNOW you said terrible things. Terrible enough to be poisoned? Deduction. Or is it induction? Both! That’s it, I’ve been induced and deducted, scrambled, removed . . .
But suppose I had hallucinated in the recent past. So what? I’m not now. Just look at the president on the wall-mounted TV screens. And that’s nothing. The real proof is my head hurts like I’ve just turned 11 and been through 26 (15 extra for good luck), 1981-Brooklyn-Elementary-School-PS107-Birthday-Punches. This pain is entirely personal yet empirically irrefutable.
Therefore, a group of teenagers are quoting aloud from YES TRESPASSING, they’re mocking my book, my first one . . . Understand, that’s why I’d been at the Queen Mary hotel, to launch the book and network with my scribbling insomniac colleagues. I’d slept just one hour before taking a taxi here . . . I’m in the Gate 10 waiting area for the flight home to NYC.
And among those tourists, I seem to recall a group of older teens staying at the hotel with a few adult chaperones. It’s hazy but I think all of ‘em wore the same clothes, like goofy band-camp Upper West Side bullshit. They were like a bunch of mushrooms, no personalities to remember, and most likely neurotoxic or indigestible.
Back to now:
It’s as hard to tell the size of their tribe as it is their location. Teen laughter has an intrinsic quality of numerousness. The sound of bullying piglets . . . It’s feeble, restricted by a lack of an adult’s experience in truly ruining someone’s life; but in their naiveté, the teens imagine they are inflicting irrevocable torture upon my oeuvre (should that be italicized?)
They think words are sticks-and-stones. Are they merely bullying my book, or, Tadpole-Sadists with inflated egos that they are, do they know the author of YES TRESPASSING is in their midst? A man who will become a cottage industry, so what if it’s posthumous!
But my photo isn’t on the book—or rather, I’m 5 years old and far too removed from the lens to be the wanna-be (Hey! I never stopped BE-ing an) aging Rockstar with my cool jeans and Engineer Boots and Black Negan jacket and a totally authentic literary hangover, AND an electric mandolin. With 2 working single-coils!
So they probably don’t know it’s me.
I’m slumped down in one of those ungodly chairs they give hostages—travelers, I mean—waiting for their flights, a kind of pre-uncomfortabling, the better to ease you into the 6-hour spinal-tapping they call “seating” once you’re in the plane, captive in an iron flying maiden so devious it leaves no scars for its victims to ever see justice . . . Hyperbole? If you’ve been alive, you know the word itself is an understatement. Things are always far, far worse than they seem.
“This book should be burned, this is the worst book ever,” one of the ADULT chaperones echoed the boy’s earlier condemnation.
Wut! Now I KNOW they are the BAD KIND of judgmental, religiously serious MONOTHEISTS (sort of like the Mickey Mouse Club) and judging by their white-rice color (and I’m not ruling out that I have undiagnosed color blindness, so for all I know they were vermillion and verdigris and I won't rule out them being STEREOTHEISTS or BRUXISTS).
"Don’t do it,” I say to myself. But if I’m talking to myself—worse--commanding myself like I’m my own dog—then logic dictates I’m crazy. It’s simple induction, deduction, fuck-a-ducktion, nobody tells me what to do, not even me.
So I get up and walk in the general direction of these God-privileged, hormoneverdosed, repressed, Adderall-addled douche-bags of shit. At which point I realize I’m not merely hungover and sleep-deprived.
I’m a fucking idiot.
Aye, that’s the rub. Only problem is, this rare moment of self-reflection occurs as I meet the eyes of my tormentors, a group of about 40 senior high-schoolers sprawled over 78% of the available seating, and spilling over onto the floor, too, like sit-in protestors with real consciences.
I see I’m an idiot even as I scan this clan of very white, WASPY youth, each wearing the same Aryan-eye-blue T-shirt with the logo of some educational/religious institution emblazoned upon an upper-right pocket—taking this all in, I yet open my mouth and say:
“D’ya know why Jesus got crucified? The firing squad was on vacation that day. Imagine? Do you just evah that the Walmart wasn’t open 24/7 and you couldn’t just purchase a militia’s worth of assault rifles to off some guy because you don’t like his beliefs (that’s what the Romans were doing, I think. My history’s rusty as Great-grandma’s vibrator on this point)?
“Imagine! What odd sort of symbol would you be wearing round your neck, now, if he hadn’t been politely positioned to die in the easy-to-remember symbol of the cross. It’s like their criterion was 'Can a 3-year-old draw this lowercase-t, erm, I mean Symbol Most Holy, to get this indoctrination here up and running?'
"I mean, what if, instead of crucifixion, they’d flung his parts far and wide for offal—what sort of 16-karat gold Jesus emblem would you all wear then? Hymn? Would you wrap some Grand Guignol scene of the slaughtered Nazarene around your brain, each in its own little jar labeled ABBY NORMAL?
“A little 16-karat gold murder scene of disemboweled Jesus bits, arms, crowned head, legs, crotch, etcetera . . . I guess it would hafta be a choker.“
I stopped talking. They looked not at all disturbed, because they are such hypocrites. And young, with good skin, etcetera.
And then one of them said “What do you want?’
Unaccountably, and strangely ashamed for standing up for my beliefs, I said:
“To take a piss.”
I turned around, left, didn’t pee, and found a chair a more comfortable distance away. Yeah, they’re basically kids but assholes are born, not made, and this was among the biggest prides of the finest poop-chutes I’d ever seen.
Well I don’t want to bore you with the rest—because it’s boring. Having revealed who I was, the teens began to videotape (oops, I mean record) me, loudly talk about streaming it live (Where? If you know let me know, seems like a good way to advertise books. Also, why? I wasn’t doing a damn thing, only cracking up now and then because their voracious, virtual attacks—when I was their age, the old man says, I’d have thrown a punch, not snapped a picture, so they kept making me laugh), pretending to and actually taking photos of me.
(Like I care; since when was candid photography an insult; I basically looked like the picture of me on all my posted blog pages, and so far nobody’s run away in terror from my hideous visage) . . . then they continued heckling me throughout the 7-hour flight home from whatever the fuck you got in long beach to NYC's very own JFK airport.
Listen Man, I’m talking like 40 high-school seniors, with Adult chaperones, making a mockery of my book and me for roughly 9 hours (this includes the 4-hour delay for my Jet Blue flight home).
I don’t know exactly what it means, but I think it’s some kind of accomplishment--with equal honors to editor extraordinaire Michael Bailey--and I’m quite proud to have ended StokerCon 2017 that way. Here’s to 2018—Hopefully I get to play “Evilest Anonymous Man Alive” to some other group of Sunday-School brats. Only in Providence, hopefully they're college age. So we can fisticuff this shit faster than you can think Instagram!
Nota Bene: I haven't tested my great-grandmother's vibrator. I suspect it would electrocute someone into the Choir Invisible. I only keep it for sentimental reasons.