A Crucial Juncture (A Short Story)

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I don’t own this picture either.

“Hello Ian.”

“Hello?” Ian replied, but this was an automatic response; a common courtesy. What Ian meant to say was “Where am I?” hence the question mark on the end of “Hello.” The question was lurking, but his brain didn’t merge the word with the phrase, as many others are wont to do. As a result, it must have sounded like he didn’t know there was another person in the “room,” but he could see the other person – or figure – clearly outlined ahead of him. What threw him off was the void of infinite blackness around them.

Occasional specks of light flickered into view here and there – some above, below, and some shooting across the sky(?) for brief moments; these lights looked the way stars look from a well lit room… if the room had any lighting outside of these flickers.

Like most rational people, Ian thought this couldn’t be space because he could breathe and those couldn’t be stars… but there were lights emitting beyond the other person and – what seemed like – several hundred thousand feet below him. It wasn’t a reflection of a light from above either and this did two things to Ian, namely cause nausea and vertigo. Ian resigned to keep his eyes straight ahead and refused to look down the way a frightened cartoon coyote would; he wasn’t altogether convinced he was standing on solid ground and feared that, if he looked down, and saw that he was standing on nothing at all, he’d plummet to whatever was beneath him. Ian wasn’t even altogether convinced he was standing since he didn’t feel the flex of his legs, it was almost as though they were being held in place and he could relax. In fact, he was almost certain he could recline, but the vertigo stopped him from testing that hypothesis.

“I’m sure you’re wondering where you are.” The voice said.

Ian meant to say “Yes,” but nodded – in the blackness. It didn’t seem to matter much to the being opposite him, he continued on-script like a seasoned greeter to some roadside attraction.

“You’re at a crucial juncture between life and death. You were in a car accident, those memories should be coming back to you.” Continue reading

I’m (Not) Too Good For You (A Short Story)

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I don’t own this picture.

“Can you believe that?” She said, but more or less rhetorically as, even though I have paused the flow of her speaking by writing her ‘intent’ here, she didn’t delay between the question and subsequent statement, “I mean, give it some time.”

I nodded my head and felt myself slipping into judgments. On her, not the “she” speaking – who’ll remain anonymous for “her” sake. How easily I could be swayed into believing one thing over another. My forehead would heat, and it always felt like the speaker’s emotions (hot as well) reached a boiling point – or rather, a melting point – and it fused to my head and dominated my emotions. Like some kind of osmosis – I think, but I was a liberal arts grad, so don’t quote me on that.

But I caught myself. Just as my forehead heated, I stopped the intrusive, infectious assault. My emotions would remain my own – even if I had none. Here were the details we’d been given that I’ll accept despite not witnessing it myself.

Marc broke up with Luana. The next day, she met up with a “guy,” and slept over at his house. That’s what I understand to have happened. The sources, however finite and biased, corroborate with this.

Marc is not jealous or enraged, just shocked at the seemingly out-of-character move on her behalf. It’s implied that she slept with the guy, but even if she did not, it’s curious that she would sleep at someone’s house. Who is the “guy”? Old –friend; -flame? Some guy at a bar? I probably should’ve listened more intently. I don’t recall what his exact association with her is/was. I don’t believe it matters.

None of this information comes from Luana. I got all mine from the aforementioned speaker “she” – whereas Luana is “her.” We’ll call the “she,” Isabelle – I couldn’t tell you why. Isabelle relayed this information to me, thinking I would care, I probably would had I not caught myself. But I really needed to assess the situation for what it was – bait. Continue reading

Rush Hour in Los Angeles Traffic

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Before anything: the title is a metaphor as well as a direct involvement with the Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker film of 1998. Consequently I am not using the other two not because they don’t carry with them a similar importance but because I mean only to draw from the first Film. It’s not that this movie is ground-breaking or unlike anything previously seen instead it is one that helps keep us in check. It has elements that should help people refrain from being uppity or having stupid moments of unjustified outrage. Rush Hour promotes “sticking it to the man” without really getting out of hand or hurting others. The plot isn’t too crazy, at least not for a movie, and there isn’t that much that calls for attention; it just kind of exists (as many movies do). There is a specific place on the cinematic plane where Rush Hour falls but for this post: fairly irrelevant. The main point – the metaphor mentioned – is that this Film should have been the next direction in which in which society should have moved. Continue reading

Infinite Jest (1996) Review: Encyclopedic Askesis

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Everyone is addicted to something and use it as a way of escapism — even if that addiction is thinking.

For those addicted to vices, their addiction morphs into a ritual since the societal view of vices is less than approving. People lead double lives to have affairs and celebrities get high by finding drug dealers by proxy proteges separated by more degrees than Kevin Bacon.

For many the real high is the suspense leading up to getting high and why anything less than “feeling” high is usually not because of the drug but because of the greater anticipation to do the drug. It’s no wonder why some prostitutes are hired for chores vs sex; or, perhaps less lewd, why Ted and Victoria didn’t kiss (with How I Met Your Mother‘s first “mother” when they didn’t know if they would be cancelled or not).

Some even make religion into addiction as a way to ward off vices — and there are plenty of rituals in religion. And, though not necessarily a vice (in as much as sloth is a sin), but some find “entertainment” as their addiction, an escape into fantasy worlds where even the creative cognitive work is done for you.

David Foster Wallace, throughout Infinite Jest, makes no attempt to mask this. The text may as well be printed on mirrors to remind you that you have an addiction; that regardless of whether or not you empathize with his three protagonists (Don, Hal, and Marathe), they’re all essentially reflective of you. Hal may be a veritable Achilles (complete with bum-ankle), but once he’s forced to give up his daily dosage of Bob Hope (colloquialism for pot), he loses sight of why he even bothers to wake up in the morning and prays that his heel’s tendons come loose so that he can quit being the athlete. In fact he hopes it’s permanently damaged, so society (and his mother) will view him as a sympathetic tragedy instead of a disappointment — wasted talent. That he’d rather be permanently handicapped than speak his mind speaks volumes (about the country, society, the world, maybe). Continue reading

The Calm Before… (A Short Story)

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“I can’t bear to lose you.”

It’s what he wanted to say, but his self-consciousness got the better of him. Does anyone actually talk like that? No. He reasoned. Telling someone how he really feels, that didn’t make sense.

Then he thought of Lucas, who was unafraid even to cry in front of him. He, Peter, felt embarrassed on his behalf… but he never doubted Lucas’ sincerity after that. Everything he said felt genuine, never for show. It was something Peter envied; something he wanted for himself. But his moments of honesty were few and far between. All too often, he chose the answer expected of him. The answer he was “programmed” to give. He resented the military for installing those pre-meditated answers into him… and at the same time appreciated it. He hated this back and forth, but he felt strongly on both points. Continue reading