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Twisting all the bad things into good

Jun 9, 2012

CHAPT 22: Preoccupations With and Preconceptions Of Death and Dying


 No great idea can vanish, even if it never reaches public circulation, even if it has been “taken to the grave.” In the light of such a law, the drama and tragedy of a man’s inner life never have unfolded in vain, even when played out in secret, unrecorded, uncelebrated by any novelist. The “novel” which each individual has lived remains an incomparably greater composition than any other that has ever been written down. Every one of us knows somehow that the content of his life is somewhere preserved and saved. Thus time, the transitoriness of the years, cannot affect its meaning and value. Having been is also a kind of being – perhaps the surest kind. And all effective action in life may, in this view, appear as a salvaging of possibilities by actualizing them. Though past, these possibilities are now safely ensconced in the past for all eternity, and time can no longer change them.

Victor Frankl
The Doctor and the Soul

MONDAY   9/13/10

        There's no clock, but I know our time is running out.
        And a long story gets longer.

        I just keep going.

        And going.

        And going.

        And knowing I've already covered everything anyone besides myself might find even a little bit interesting or relevant, I give it the old college dropout try by giving it my best shot to make an attempt to begin to start wrapping it up, which is not as easy as it sounds when you're still attempting to make sense of a story while you're still telling it, like some amateur comedian who steps on stage, "trial by fire" style, with nothing but a not very well thought out premise to improvise his act around, not realizing until it's too late that he's about to big finish with a joke that he neglected to write a punchline for.

        You know what sucks?
        Being told a really long joke only to admit, "I don't get it".
        You know what's borderline unforgivable?
        When the jerk off joke teller admits, "Me neither".
        Thanks for wasting my time, jerk off.        

        Telling that kind of jerk off joke, even on amateur night, turns a first time stand up into a sit down who will lie down before ever again setting foot on that lonely stage where his aspirations melted under the heat of a spotlight while it's being gradually turned up by the light man, hidden in the darkness, entertaining himself with his own slowly maddening routine, his own form of Chinese water torture.
         Whoever's behind that light, he shows you no mercy.
         Your audience shows you no love, not even a mercy applause.
         Not even a heckle.
         You don't thank them for being a great audience.
         Not even a "goodnight".
         Not even close.
         No need to remind them to tip their waitress and/or bartender.
         You're the only one who got served.
         No need to tell them you'll be there all week.
         You won't.

        A not so special engagement.
        An evening with a jerk off.
        One night only.
        Opening Night.
        Closing Night.
        Same Night.

        In comedy, it's called "dying".

        This was your dream.
        Somehow, you knew it was your only shot.
        To let them catch a rising star.
        To stand up.
        To kill the crowd, as they say.
        Not to lie down.
        Not to die, as they watch.
        This was your nightmare.

        This was the aftermath:
        "This was an open mic night, folks. Here at Watch A Falling Star, it is not our policy to give refunds on open mic night because here at Watch A Falling Star, it is not our policy to charge a cover on open mic night, so what is it exactly that you are demanding to be reimbursed for? I can't hear you over the angry crowd, what are you saying, and why are you crying? I'm only the assistant manager here at Watch A Falling Star, I'm not God, I have no way of reimbursing you the the precious time you wasted. Please, that's not what I meant, I meant your precious time wasted by tonight's performer."

        They just didn't get it.

        They didn't like your style.
        Too cerebral.
        They need visuals.
        They want props.
        Your act lacked a punchline and/or point
        No fruits and/or vegetables.
        No carrot at the end of your shit schtick.
        They like college comics with carrot colored curly hair who like juice (not the fruit/vegetable kind) and get bad plastic surgery.

        In language, it's called "alliteration".

        They like carrots, but they love watermelons.
        My God do they love watermelons.
        They don't seem to mind mediocrity either.
        Like rats and/or children following the pied piper's pipe, a mustached man's mallet lures them to a place where if they can get close enough to him, this fresh watermelon rainmaker will bathe them beneath his...his, uh,... his watermelon rain, while they laugh hysterically with no concern for their next dry cleaning bill.
        They pay extra for this.

        They don't demand refunds for time and/or money wasted.      
        Things could have went worse.
        You could have went KKKramer on stage at the Apollo on Bow and Arrow Night.
        Don't worry about not having a punchline, you'll be dead before you make it's delivery.
        30 seconds or less.
        You're a jerk off.
        You mentioned watermelons.
        You get out alive only because the crowd decides archery is for "white Robin Hood looking mother fuckers", so you too get to experience the rain of watermelon...and orange, and lemon, and lime, and every other flavor of Skittles.
        You've tasted the rainbow, and it tastes like internal bleeding.

        In entertainment, it's called "dark comedy".
        And so you'll never be the next Steve Martin.
        So what.
        At least you'll never be accused of stealing his arrow through the head routine.

        They didn't get it.

        Nobody gets it.

        Nobody includes you.

        You're a nobody.

        You're a jerk off.  
        You've been shooting arrows in the dark...blindfolded...without a target.
        People get hurt that way.
        You might get lucky and only shoot yourself in the foot.
        You're not going to stand up again.
        Now you're a sit down.
        Now you're dead.

        Get it?
        Me neither.

        I'm wasting time.
        Talking and walking in circles.
        Blindfolded in the dark.
        Searching for somewhere I've never been.
        Hoping I'll recognize it when I get there.
        The big finish.

        I'm all over the place.
        I'm making no sense.
        I'm sitting down.

        I'm dying.

        "...but right before I die, I realize it's just a movie and I'm just some actor. Actually, I'm not just some actor, I'm awesome. I even had myself convinced that I was about to die, so as soon as I realize it's only a movie, I think to myself, "There's no way I'm not getting an Oscar for this shit". And then I'm able to die without the fear. And no matter where I die, I'm always sitting with my back against a tree. I don't want to ruin my big moment, so I keep telling myself not to blink, no matter how bad my eyes begin to burn, and I always feel like this is it, no "take twos", no cuts or edits to hide my mistakes. I don't know who I'm supposed to be, I don't know who or what killed me, I don't know how the movie is gonna end, I don't even know what it's about, but somehow I know that this is the only chance I'm gonna get to  become a star, so I just let my eyes burn, and I stop being self-conscious about my acting or being concerned if the Academy will take notice or what the audience or the critics might think, and in that moment, I'm not acting, all I'm doing is not blinking. I keep focusing until whatever I'm focusing on becomes a blur, but I still never let myself blink, not even when I start to wonder how long I'm going to have to play dead. I still don't blink and I still don't look away when I start to wonder why I don't hear the director or see any lights or any other actors. There's nothing in my peripheral, so I assume all the action is in the background, but I do my best to ignore whatever else is happening behind me because I'm supposed to be dead. And then, I'm suddenly outside myself, seeing myself dead, still oblivious to anything in the background, and then I'm back in my own head, watching this movie in a theater with some mystery girl who has tears in her eyes either because she just watched me die or because she's so proud of my performance, but either way she keeps telling me that I'm gonna be a star. And no matter how many times I've had that dream, I've never seen who the girl is and I've never even noticed what else was happening in the scene, if I did, I just don't remember when I wake up."

         My dream makes as much sense as my story.

         "I don't know if that makes any sense, but that's the best way I can describe the hallucinations. There were certain moments I remember so clearly that I can recall exactly what I was thinking, and then there are other times where it's like I'm watching myself in a movie, but however I ended up in that scene is just a blur. I don't know, that's the best I can describe it, like I was walking around in a dream, or a movie, or a dream about a movie, I don't even know."

       This has something to do with my story, I'm sure of it.

       Nobody wants to hear another person talk about their dream.
       It means nothing, except to the dreamer.
       Nobody wants to hear about a movie they haven't seen.
       They need to see it themselves to get the full effect.

       But, that never stopped me.
       I couldn't stop if I tried.

       "Damn. I don't even know how long I've been going on about this. You've gotta be tired of hearing me say "then I did this" and "then I thought this happened". It's my story and I'm at a total loss. I think I'm actually more confused than when I started, so I don't even wanna know what it must be like listening to me try to find some moral in my mess.  I'm reminding myself of this movie I saw years ago, Search and Destroy. Never heard of it, right? Yeah, nobody has. I really might be the only person who's ever seen this movie. The domestic box office must have been seven dollars. It had a bunch of good actors in it, but I don't even think you can get it on DVD. It's nothing great, but I always remember this one part. This guy's trying to turn his book into a movie, and Dennis Hopper tells him "just because it happened to you, that don't make it interesting". I try to remember that when I'm talking to people, but I never do. Sorry if I took up too much of your time, I'm still trying to process everything, and this is the first chance I've had to vocalize, or verbalize it, or whatever the right word is. So, I guess I'm  gonna go ahead and take a cue from Iago...or Job."

        My Biblical and literary references make as little sense as my story.

        All I know is, my story is true, even the parts that never happened. 

        And so I ignore the last line of  Shakespeare's most manipulative villain, and I break the promise of the most patient and punished pawn in the chess game between God and Satan, and I go back on my own words, not knowing if I've already played my part in my own tragedy, or if I'm an expendable piece in a game being played only in my own mind.

       There are only two of us in the room, but everyone knows.

        You don't have to be Bill Shakespeare, Pastor Bob or Bobby Fisher to see what I was trying to do, what I'm still trying to do, attempting to attach some deeper meaning to what was epic in my eyes.
       I don't stop.
       I don't even try. 

       I'm more than a pawn, I'm the drama queen.
       But I will  not suck the king's cock.
       Won't do it. Not gonna happen.

       That wasn't a punchline.
       Not even close.

       I can't stop.
       I keep improvising.

       I'm the only person who plays chess, but has never played checkers.
       I don't even know how.
       I never tried.
       This has something to do with this story, I'm sure of it.
       Another story by another author whose true identity is in doubt.
       A true story that part of my psyche made up to tell the other parts.
       The id, the ego, and the super ego.
       And I can't help myself.
       "Sorry, I can't help it. I've got a tendency to try making my life into something that it isn't, like I'm part of some bigger picture, something that actually matters. What I meant by the Iago thing was at the end of Othello, spoiler alert in case you've never read it or seen it or whatever, after he fucks over every other character so bad they all kill each other, he gets arrested and when they start demanding for him to explain why he did what he did, all he says is...shit, what does he say? Basically he's like, "Yeah, right. Demand this. From here on out, I say nothing", something to that effect. Definitely my favorite Shakespeare line, and my favorite one of his plays, not that I'm some huge Shakespeare scholar or anything, but I've liked everything I've read. There's a pretty good movie with Larry, excuse me, "Laurence" Fishburne, where he plays Othello, and I don't know if you know who Kenneth Branaugh is, but he makes a lot of Shakespeare's shit into movies. Well, he plays Iago. Actually, what you really should do is check out O  with Josh Hartnett, he plays Iago, but they call him "Hugo"."

         In literature, they call him an "antagonist".

         In South County they'd call Hugo, or Iago, a "psychopath", or "sociopath".
        "It's a modern day version, so they updated the language so you're not sitting there wondering what the fuck they're talking about."

        You're sitting there, wondering what the fuck I'm talking about.

        From here on out, I say everything.

        Even if I don't get it.

        Because I can't stop myself.

        Because I've never tried.       

        "And I don't know how well you know the Bible, not that I'm some Bible banger or anything even close, but I did go to Catholic School my whole life, plus, I used to like to get stoned and watch Mysteries of the Bible on A&E, which my girlfriend always thought was sooo funny for some reason. But in the Old Testament, Job was this guy who God loved but still lets Satan take away his family, money, health, everything, to test his faith when things got bad, blah, blah, blah. The only reason I even mentioned him was because after all his suffering, he say's he's going to put his hand over his mouth because he's already said too much."

         In church, it's called a "homily"

         "Well, I guess I totally negated my whole point about shutting up. I'm sorry, man. You're the grad student and I'm the one who went to college for 6 years and still needs 7 credits to graduate, and now I'm in a mental joint giving you a crash course in English Lit and the Bible. If I get started on movies or music or books, I'll go on forever. Seriously, I'm gonna shut up now, but I don't want you to think I've been like this since I got here, walking around the rec room spouting off about God, Satan and Shakespeare and shit. They probably wouldn't be letting me out today if I was. I think I've just gone so long without anyone to talk to, and for the last hour, or however long it's been, I've been able to tell my whole story without being cut off five minutes into it. So, I appreciate you letting me get this out, so now I'm gonna shut up."

        I put my hand over my mouth.

        Marlon,  a grad student from University of Miami, looks down, flipping through his legal pad, scanning through several yellow pages full of the notes he has been taking since I sat down and began telling him my story in painstaking detail.

        I think. I need. A therapist.

        At the time, I imagined his last page of notes read something like this:

 - well spoken
 - calm demeanor
 - fascinating dream/movie description of psychosis
 - knows his Bible
 - well read, knows his Shakespeare
 - highly intelligent/ genius?
 - very helpful

        In retrospect, I'm sure those notes read something more like this:
 - speech pattern = rapid, unintelligible, rambling
 - too much drugs!!!
 - dreams = nonsense
 - Bible? Job? Shakespeare? Iago? WTF?
 - Thinks he's intelligent/deep (wants me/others to think the same)
 - unaware/in denial that he is mentally ill
 -  probable personality disorder(s) = All Cluster B type:
 - favorite words = I, me, myself
 - Delusions of grandeur
 - Won't shut up, hypomanic?
 - Milk
 - Eggs
 - 1/2 lb cheese (American Yellow)
 - 1 lb  turkey - maple glazed  cracked pepper mill!
 -  pay FPL/Direct TV
 - still talking, thinks I don't know who Job/Iago are
 - full of shit
 - toilet paper
 - chances of future relapse/psychotic episode = 1000%
 - complete waste of time, a lot of notes but no help

        "I hope this wasn't a complete waste of time. You got a lot of notes, so maybe it was some help. Any questions you still have, let me know."

        Marlon nods his head, making sure he's left nothing off his grocery list.
        "I much covered it," he says before looking up.
        As soon as I laugh, he does the same.
        "Sorry, bro. I'm sure it sounded like nothing but a bunch of jibberish, but imagine thinking all that jibberish was really happening."
        Marlon triple checks his grocery list.
        "No, no. This is great." He puts his pen down, giving his hand a rest for the first time since I started. "I'd really like to thank you, and let you know how much I appreciate how open you've been with me. I have to admit, I had a lot of preconceptions before I got here. I didn't know what to expect, if I'd feel threatened, or if whoever I was interviewing would answer any of my questions. You were definitely not what I expected. They said you were the best one to talk with."

        The best?
        Stop it, you.
        Oh, go on.
        Look at me, am I blushing?
        ...or just having an adverse reaction to the Risperidone?
        Fuck it, I'm not gonna let some atypical antipsychotic ruin my moment.
        I'm the least mentally ill person in a place for mentally ill... persons..people?

        (No offense to any bitch azz niggaz)
        Y'all betta reconize who's the illest mothafucka up in ...or, I mean, y'all betta reconize who's the least illest motha...
        Fuck it, yo.
        Just reconize sumptin...
        I don't know, act like you was playin' "I Spy" or some shit.
        It's the J to the M to the A to the C D's nuts in yo' face!
        The return of the Mac.
        Awww, shit.
        Look at me I'm skinny.
        I once got busy in a mental health facility's mysizelf.
        Gotta get that nut, yo.
        Ain't no thang, just a chicken wang on a strang from Burger Kang.
        I'm 'bouts to do the Humpty Dance, 'cause dat's been my jam since way back in the day, but before I can bust out my ever present plastic non-caucasian nose, I break myself off a lil'sumptin real propa like.

        You're not dope.
        Just a dope.
        True dat.
        The first rational thought you've had since you began rapping hits, hits (?) yo' ass like a stray bullet with yo' name on it to yo' chest.
         Wait. Now I'm confused.
         So, did my man take one to his ass or chest? Or his ass and chest?
         Don't matter.
         Shit still hurt, yo. 

        So what if I'm (arguably) the least mentally ill person in a place for mentally ill...persons?...people?
        Semantics aside, this title held about as much prestige as winning the hundred yard dash at the Special Olympics when the only thing special about you is your ADD. Even if your only deficit is the hyperactive kind, and even if you don't test positive for mixed amphetamine salts, your mile-a-minute running/talking/fidgeting/teacher-torturing ass should find no honor in a ribbon/trophy given at an award ceremony where everyone is declared a winner and every winner leaves with a ribbon/trophy.
        A person with your talent should not be keeping time with them. A person with your ability, God given or not, should be volunteering their time, helping those who were never given any of those gifts you took for granted,  those who never had the chances you did, kids and/or adults who could never run a hundred yards, let alone 26.2 miles. They don't have your legs. For their legs, a hundred yards is a marathon. They don't have your mind. In their mind, you have everything. In your mind, you have nothing. You've wasted away more than they ever had. And it's you who can still make it to the finish line on your own.

        But that's never stopped them.

        You're the one who never even tried.

        You're talking to yourself again.

        You tell yourself that it'd be a different story, but equally absurdly tangential, if you ran that race with a Trazadone induced prolonged erection. Then you'd deserve to go home with a ribbon/trophy...along with a pamphlet to assist in explaining to your mommy the reason you haven't used the Slip 'N Slide all Summer is because one of your meds gave you a boner that has not let up since school let out.

        In tragedy, they call it "comic relief".

        "See? I told ya I don't have mental problems. Well, none that didn't result from my drug problem. I'd love to see or read your paper, or your presentation, or whatever it is you're doing. What are you doing? Am I like some case study I'll read about someday?"

        Marlon thinks I'm kidding.

         "No, it's not like that. I won't be showing your picture or using your name."

         "Fuck it, man. Use my name, I don't care. But I hear you about the preconceptions about this place. I didn't know what to expect when I got here either. I thought there would be people in straight jackets banging their heads against the walls, guards beating the shit out of people who got out of line. The worst thing that happened was some chick pulled the phone out of the wall and threw it across the room at one of the techs and called him a piece of shit."
        "Why'd she do that?"
        "I don't remember."
        "What happened?"
        "The tech picked it up, saw it was broke, and said, "Well, I guess no one will be using the phone today". She went up and apologized a few minutes later. She thought she was possessed by the devil."
        "She thought the devil made her throw the phone."
        "Oh, no. She wasn't possessed when she threw the phone. She was possessed before she got here, at least, she thought she was possessed. I thinks she's just bipolar. But get this, she came here the first time after thinking she was possessed, and then she got released on a Friday afternoon, so, she goes out that night with her genius friends to celebrate her being all better, or just her not being possessed anymore. They go to the movies and what movie do they decide on?  The fucking Last Exorcism. No bullshit. Girl's been here 3 times in the last month. Craziest part is she doesn't even do drugs. So, you're probably starting to see why I'm the best person to talk to. But, the way you and I are talking to each other, it wouldn't be this way with most of the people here. Not that I'm better than them, but I can promise you I'm not indicative of the people sitting in that rec room. First of all, I'm betting I'm the only one who's ever used "indicative" in a sentence, and I got here on Wednesday, and there are people who have not said one word that whole time. Meanwhile, I was the only one who interacted with the techs. I got along as well with the techs as I did with the other patients. I mean, yesterday, I sat around with the techs watching football, talking like we were friends. Then last night, I talked to this female tech for a little bit, and them later on she sat next to me and said, "James, what are you doing here?" Then she told me I had nice legs. It had nothing to do with her complimenting my legs, but it was nice to know I wasn't being delusional by thinking that I wasn't as fucked up as everyone else. Oh, and by the way, not that it matters, but I don't usually dress like this. I look like I was turning tricks at some truck stop before they brought me here. Did you have any more questions for me? You know I'll answer 'em."

        "I'm curious to know if you've had time to think about what might have caused your hallucinations?"
        "I thought I had a nervous breakdown, the doc said it was mostly due to lack of sleep, so I think it was a combination of ..."
        "No, what I meant is, have you thought about why you had those particular hallucinations or the delusions, like what triggered them, why certain people played certain roles?"
        "Oh, wow. That's a great question. I guess...I don't know, maybe it's because I've always looked at life cinematically, so, I mean, for as much random shit I thought was happening, if I step back and look at it as a whole, it's almost like it followed some kind of narrative, or maybe not, I don't know. The only reason I'm even sure that some parts weren't dreams is because I remember exactly what I was thinking at certain moments, like when that Betsy girl got in the car with me and said "I thought you said you loved me", I can still see her, and I can still remember thinking,"I never said that", and then saying, "I do love you" because I thought maybe I said that in Vegas when I was all fucked up. I still think it's funny that I was spitting game in my hallucinations. As funny as I think that is, the scariest part is that I saw her as clearly as I'm seeing you."

        I could be hallucinating right now.
        I really hate when I tell myself that.

        "Why do you think she was there as your love interest?"
        "Betsy? My love interest? That's funny. I mean we hooked up a few times, but no feelings or romantic stuff, at least, not that I knew of. It must've been because I was planning on flying up to Atlanta to help out on her ranch. Now that I think about it, that's the last thing I remember before the hallucinations started, printing out ticket prices, unless that was a hallucination too. It's hard to tell. I'll tell you one thing though, I haven't been able to get my dick wet in a swimming pool for the last year, so I guess that was the closest I've come to whatever."

       "How about the fighting on the boat?"

       "You see this nasty ass gash on my knee?"
       I show him the nasty ass gash on my knee.
       "This was from that. So, I don't know if I was kicking my own ass on someone's boat at my docks, or if I just gave myself the all time worst case of rugburn ever. Maybe I've just seen Fight Club too many times. Maybe it was some kind of good versus evil thing, like me killing off the part of me I hated, some kind of  id, ego, superego battle royale. Obviously I haven't given much rational thought to what you're asking me."

        "Why do you think you thought your dad died?"

        In my conscience, it's called "guilt".

        "The hooker and the pimp?"
        Sounds like a goddamn Disney movie featuring Sam, excuse me, "Samuel" Jackson's voice as "The Pimp" and that dirty whore with the dirty needle's voice as "The Hooker".
        And featuring the voice of Nathan Lane as "The Driver".
        Oh, I can hear it right now, that award winning duet featuring Elton, excuse me, "Sir" Elton John and (Insert Any R&B Bitch Who Only Goes By Her First Name Here).
        "Be our guest, be our guest, I'll put my HIV infected needle in your chest."
        I'm pretty sure my hallucination won't result in a Disney movie or anything besides a blog, but I'm also pretty sure my hallucination wasn't a result of some PTSD flashback to my days of big pimpin' in Little Nowhere On the Planet, U.S.A.
        "I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that the whole hooker-pimp-corrupt cop thing might've had a little something to do with me watching 7 seasons of The Shield in a row, for however many hours or days that works out to."
        88 Hours.
        3.666 Days.

        In computer science, it's called "garbage in, garbage out".

        Marlon looks at his notes.
        "What about Criss Angel?"
        I'm curious to know that answer, so I repeat his question.
        "What about Criss Angel."
        I try to find some meaning to give to something that has no meaning.
        I'm baffled.
        "Dude, Marlon, I don't know what that was all about. I could go to therapy for the next ten years and probably never know. I don't think I wanna know. Actually, I don't think it had anything to do with him, I think it probably had something to do with hypocrisy. Like, on his show he would pray, or pretend to pray before any dangerous stunt, and then in my hallucination his only trick was pretending to be a good Catholic when the cameras were rolling. Then he was a total asshole. Geez, I feel like an asshole even saying that. I love Criss Angel. Well, I don't know if I can still say I love him, that shit was pretty disturbing so, I don't know if I'll be watching MindFreak anytime soon. Maybe it had to do something with the "angel" thing. I don't know, man. I'm reaching here. I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to ponder everything."

          In magic, it's called an "illusion".

        "What do you think the shipwreck treasure thing was all about?"

        "There's a question I've never been asked before. It was kind of like some kind of Old Man and the Sea thing."

        Marlon asks about my reference to the story considerably shorter than my own.

        In literature, it's called an "allusion".

        "In my mind, I've always thought I needed to have some kind of Hemingwayesque adventure in order to have something to write about, like going on safari in Africa, or some kind of Old Man and the Sea man versus nature thing that I must have felt compelled to put myself through. I haven't read it since high school, so I don't remember what it was all about."

        In literature, it's called an "allegory".

        In this story, in this exact moment as I am writing this, at 12:29AM on 6/9/12, I'm realizing for the first time in 21 months that I was discussing a story about a man and a marlin with a man named Marlon.

        That has nothing to do with this story, I'm sure of it.

        Still, that's pretty fucked up.

        As if the rest of this makes perfect sense.


         Sorry, I'm still seeking some deeper meaning to the Marlon/marlin thing.
         Who gives a shit if a grad student, a fish, and a baseball team share a name?

         I'm wasting time and I'm risking a migraine.
         Can't start thinking now.
         Must keep writing.
         Say everything.
         Don't cover your mouth.
         Don't blink.
         Can't stop now.
         I've never been this close.

        "What about this?" Marlon asks.
        "What about what?"
        "What about writing about this?"
        "That was the plan, but now that I've actually heard myself say it out loud, I'm not so sure. At first, it seemed like a cool movie, but now I feel like I'm trying to explain a dream. So, I don't know, I wouldn't want to read a book that's like "After I thought my dad died, I got stuck in an elevator looking at art in the floor, and then all of a sudden, I was in Philly with a pimp and a whore who stuck a dirty needle in my neck and then I was fighting for my life on a boat, then I called some hostess at Flanigan's a cunt because she wouldn't give me water, and my mom was mugging down with some dude at the bar, then I was at home". There's nothing I'd rather do than turn the worst thing that's ever happened into something good, but now it's just starting to seem like a bunch of random shit being fired off by my synapses, however you say it."
        Marlon says, "That's really all the questions I had, but I am curious about something else. I noticed a certain preoccupation, maybe not a preoccupation, but there were a few times religion popped up in your hallucinations, or at least in how you interpreted them. Why do think that is? Do you think of yourself as someone who is religious, or spiritual?"

        "I definitely would not use either of those words to describe myself. The word "religious" has negative connotations to me, like someone who's some kind of religious nut or zealout. And spiritual, I don't even know what that means. It just makes me picture some flakey chick saying "I'm not religious, but I'm very spiritual", like she's trying to convince you how deep she is because, I don't know, because she believes in karma or because she's really into angels or yoga or some shit. That's just what I think. But I know what you're asking, so, I don't know, I mean I went to Catholic School my whole life and my family went to church every Sunday, so I've always believed in God. A few weeks ago my dad got all pissed because I told him I didn't think God takes an active role in our lives. I don't even know how many times I'd pray for something and promise God that if He answered just this one prayer, I'd never ask for another thing for the rest of my life, then I'd get it and figure it would've happened anyway because it's not like God made my girlfriend take me back. Last Sunday, I was in the shower on my hands and knees praying that my dad was not dead, that I'd wake up and it was just a bad dream, and then a few days later he calls me on the phone. Man, I can't even tell you how fucked up that was when that happened. But now I'm realizing it was obviously all in my own head. God didn't rearrange the universe just to answer my prayer. So, even if you saw a miracle, you could convince yourself how you could watch a magician make someone disappear or saw some girl in half, you know it's impossible, but you accept that it's an illusion and you don't give that much thought to how they did it, you just know nobody disappeared or got cut in half. It's like the hallucinations, you can trick yourself into believing anything you really want yourself to believe. There were times when I'd go to church twice a week and tell other people that they should consider going with me, and there were other times I wouldn't mention it because I didn't want to come off as a hypocrite. But either way, I was a hypocrite. Maybe that's why the Criss Angel incident happened. The whole hypocrite thing."

        "What do you mean when you say you're a hypocrite?"

        "My friend introduced me to this girl. Before I met her, my friend told her I went to church, so she wasn't interested. But then she meets me and starts asking me about church and the next day she's asking me if I'd take her to church with me, so I took her on a Wednesday Night, then we went and met up with her mom for drinks, and her mom says,"Any guy that takes my daughter to church has my approval", then I took her home and banged her. The daughter, not the mom. I would have banged the mom too. The daughter was 21, the mom was like 40, I was thirty at the time, so I was right there in the middle. See what I mean? That's how I was when I was going to church twice a week. Then a few months later, I'm making girls take off their cross or crucifix because I didn't want to look at it later when she's blowing one guy and then taking it in the ass from another. Then I'd be visiting family up North, and I hated having to lie to them and everyone at their church when they'd asked me how the video production was going. It felt like some kind of tug of war on my soul. I don't know, there's no in between with me. It's like C.S. Lewis said, it was something along the lines of  "if Christianity's a lie, there could be nothing less important, but if it's the truth, there could be nothing more important. The only thing it can't be is moderately important".  You can probably already tell moderation's never been my strong suit. That's what I mean, I'm just as much of a hypocrite in real life as Criss Angel was in my hallucination. So, I don't know how it's gonna be once I'm up North and the only people I'll know are all Born Again Christians. I'll be living at home, so I'm gonna have to go to church every Sunday. I don't remember who said it, but it was something about how most saints are nothing but sinners who just kept going. So, who knows who I'll be a year from now?"

        I'm still going.
        I can't stop.
        "Who do you think you'll be a year from now?"

        "Honestly? No idea. No expectations. Things never go the way you expect them to, so..."

        I throw my hands up.

        "What if you took your family out of the equation?"
        "Are you asking me if I've ever considered killing my family?"
        "No. That's not what I'm asking. I'm asking if you didn't have people who would be upset if you believed differently from them, do you think you'd live your life any different, or if you would still concern yourself with God, the devil, Heaven, Hell. If you made your decision based only on your own experience? What do you think you'd believe?"

        Pop quiz.
        No essay.
        This is not multiple choice.

        "Damn, buddy. So much for not having anymore questions."

        It feels like whoever is behind that light is trying to fuck with me.  

        It's getting hot in here, but I can't take off all my clothes, not if I plan on sleeping in my own bed tonight.

        Instead, I improvise.
        Style over substance.

        The answer may hold as much weight as a gram of weed...
        after it's already gone up in smoke.
        The question may hold as much value as a human soul...
        after it's already gone down in flames.
        Heaven or Hell, or nowhere.
        Pass or fail, or nevermind.
        God or devil, or nothing.
        Salvation or damnation, or whatever.
        True or false, or fuck it.

        Even if it does not turn out to be the question, it's still a question.
        With everything or nothing on the line, it's one worth asking.       

        And after all that, I can't remember my answer.

        I know.

        I don't get it either.

        Please, hold your applause.

        Please, you don't have to stand up.

        You can remain seated.

        You still have that option.

        Not me, I've already booked myself for 2 more shows.

        if you must.
        But please leave your arrows at home...
        with your children.

        Because I won't put my hand over my mouth.
        I won't even try.

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