Life ain’t what it used to be.
These days, I find myself standing in the middle of downtown. I simply stand around, looking into the masses of faceless people walking to and from me. Day in and day out. Nobody looks at me.
I’m a spectator, an uncredited extra.
Then I think about a thousand little things I notice around me. Like I’m telling a thousand little stories to myself about the world I observe. But I’m not really here for them. I’m not a part of any of it.
I never wanted to be here.
It’s all so bleak.
You go to a place you’ve been to so many times before, but now it seems strange. You believe you’re doing the same things every day, over and over again, yet it feels as though you’d experience them for the first time, every time. Just like reading an old diary that has the same text on every page.
The people around you don’t matter. They fade away. Anymore, only what’s in your head has substance.
I rationalize to think.
You try to think of a way to sum up this uneventful day. Give meaning to your thoughts, observations.
It always starts the same.
Every time the same, pointless opening line. Can a diary be dear? Try finding something else.
“Hey Diary, how goes it?”
Then you start bothering yourself. Better leave it as it is.
“Today I met Bob.”
When you had the idea for this diary, you thought it would kill some time. Make some sense. Matter.
Before you can write something into a diary, though, something real needs to happen first. Something of matter needs to happen, before it can, well, matter. But you didn’t think of that, did you? You’re bored. Your mind is fogged up. If there were to happen anything of importance, you wouldn’t need a diary. The boredom would be gone. But no. You had to have one. It has this nice leather binding and fine pages made from one hundred percent recycled material. Dead trees trying to rest in peace, but instead get redone over and over again.
Now you start thinking about all things never meant for you, or that simply don’t matter. But you can’t stop it. You don’t want to think, you just do it.
Your thoughts are your constraint. You want to forget them, suppress, delete. But there’s no distraction.
Do trees have an afterlife? Would they move on if people would just stop recycling them?
Shake your head as much as you like, but you won’t be able to stop. Nothing else is left. Thoughts identify you. What would be left, if you’d rid yourself of You?
You feel like the paper. Made from hundred percent dying tree. Over and over again, you’ve been used—just a little mire dead each time.
I am constraint.
Now you sit with your diary. Marvel at all the crossed-out openings.
“Hello. Hi. Hey, how goes it?”
You sit before the meaningless sum of your life and you are bored. The only thing, you think, that’ll ever fill your pages is Bob.
I accept my fate.
“Bob can be a strange guy. Always good for a bad joke. Sometimes I ask myself how a person, that never takes anything serious, can even survive.
“But Bob isn’t like others. Bob doesn’t even look like a Bob. To me, at least, a Bob is overweight and likes fast-food. He’d love to go these burger joints for flavour-enhancing chemicals to better what they call food.
“No, this Bob is in a good shape. I guess, anyways. I’ve never actually seen him without clothes one. And I only thought about it once. Usually, I don’t do this, but I was drunk. I don’t think about a naked Bob—or any other guys, for that matter.”
I’m sick of it.
You wake up every morning hoping you slept through the day. But then you hear it. The routine happens.
The crying babe. It matched its rhythm for hunger to your cycle, just to piss you off. When you need rest, whenever you lie down, it starts to cry.
The old, rusty bed frame squeaking, as the neighbours go at it again. Every morning they do this, and they moan. They yell, bang, and moan some more. You’d wish it was you doing the underaged girl in the apartment above you.
A woman is yelling outside. The same old woman complaining every single day that someone blocked her parking spot. She would cut off his balls, she yells. She’d do all sorts of nasty things, you’d never expect an old woman to utter. It’s not even really her spot.
Sometimes I just want to scream.
It unfolds as it always does. Every morning. Every day.
You hope for something different. An earthquake. You imagine the ceiling coming down, crushing into you. Breaking your body, breaking the habit. You want to give into the force of the world.
Every day you wake up hoping it was just a dream. But nobody cuts you any slack in hell. It just goes on and on and on and stays the same and the same and the same. Then you see your sleepy face in the mirror and can only think about one thing:
I’m my conformation of a worse time.
You go through the motions again, and then you find yourself at Melissa’s.
Melissa is seventy-eight years old. Her family loves her more than anything else. I know this, because it’s written on her tombstone.
It wasn’t my idea to be at a graveyard. Bob wanted us to meet here. Her stone is dirty. Overgrown with weeds, neglected. I’m sure she wants to get out of here, but nobody cares. I feel you, Melissa. Am right with you.
Here I wait for Bob, together with the seventy-eight years old Melissa, who is loved by her family so much, and the rain is soaking down to my underwear. I hate this. It’s cold and rainy and boring here.
Bob is late as usual. I smoke one cigarette after another and wait and wait and wait. That’s what I do. I wait and I bore myself.
When you live in a state of constant boredom, day after day, month after month, you eventually lose all ambition for really anything. You’ll sit in front of the TV, too lasy to even hit the remote.
Day in. Day out.
All that’s left is the TV. Changing the channel, though, would require you to come up with enough interest to find something better to watch. Impossible. Instead, you keep starring at the test-channel. The one without a program. Like a zombie, you stare at it, hoping to become one with the monotonous picture. Everything around you becomes smaller, distant. Nothing can reach you anymore. Then, as your boredom reaches the point of no return, when all motivation has completely forsaken you, that’s when you realize it: You’re boring yourself. You’re bored, because nothing happens. Nothing happened, because you don’t it to. You’re bored, because you want to be.
Then you start to become smaller. The world around you grows to a huge, grey mass. Everything stands tall, and you are now so tiny.
I fit through a needle hole.
“You know, Diary,
“A Bob usually seems to have dirty-blond hair, I think. In the light it’s just grey. If a Bob has a beard, though, it’s usually some sort of washed-out red. Or a dark-brown mixed with red. Either way, it’s hard to tell where the beard ends and the salsa from the movie theatre nachos starts. A bob likes the movies. He always gets the nachos. Usually, he goes there alone. A Bob doesn’t have any real friends.
“This Bob is different. Bob knows a lot of people, because he works part time jobs all over the place, where he meets new friends all the time. That’s how he gets us jobs, too.”
I’m the victim.
So I wait for Bob. Haven’t seen him for quite some time, because, honestly, we just piss each other off. And now, I wait for him. Again. And I begin to realize that without him I feel just as wrong and weird as I do with him. It’s sad in a way. I wait for nothing to change.
It’s all so common.
The dirt on the tombstone. The wind in the trees. A crow cries. You’ve seen this before. As if you’re one step behind yourself, watching yourself in the corner of your eye. The moment anything happens, it’s a memory already. You look up to the sky and feel water in your eyes, even before the rain hits you. You move ahead, and you stay a step behind.
Melissa is nobody to you. You know she sold and her family loves her. Nothing is new.
I am a déjà-vu.
The last time I’ve seen Bob was in a bar. We drank in silence for a while. Then, Bob got up to go to the bathroom. I drank some and waited. I drank and got bored. When he came back, he stood right beside me. He looked at me with this I-did-something-stupid-look on his face.
“I dreamt of my son,” he said.
I nodded and hold him, that he didn’t have a son.
He pretended to hit back of my head started to grin again. “I said it was a dream.” Then his grin grew even bigger. “I played football with him.”
“Right on,” I said.
He went slightly into his knees, pretending to catch a football.
He said, “No, no. I dreamt I played WITH him.”
“Funny,” I said. “You’d make a great daddy.”
He started running around the table like somebody was trying to steal his imaginary ball. He looked like an idiot. He’d be too skinny for a football player.
“Someone tossed me my son and I caught him. Then I heard a stampeding mob of opponents. They were after my football-son.” He stood upright, lifted one arm high and aimed with the other arm, as if he was going to throw the ball he wasn’t holding.
“I threw my football-son as strong and far as I could towards the goal line. Then I woke up.”
I nodded. “Bob,” I said. “You’ll ask yourself for the rest of your life whether Bob Junior scored a point for you.”
He grinned again, but his shoulders dropped in disappointment.
“Bob,” I said. “You’re sick. I wouldn’t want to be in your dreams, that’s for sure.” This time I grinned at him as dumb as he did at me earlier.
He sat back down and said, “Right. Sure. This football-son mine, by the way, he had your face.”
My grin disappeared. “What an honour,” I said.
We kept drinking in silence.
Days went by. Maybe weeks. Could have been a year, who knows. That’s the way it is, if every day is the same to you. Everything is one. Nothing matters.
I stopped wanting.
The television shows a monotonous picture. You’re too lazy to change the channel. Everything grows to a big, grey mass. You feel so tiny. So cute and helpless. You are helpless. Then you look around in your dirty, old apartment.
I’ve always been here, but never present.
You feel strange in your own place. You want to leave. But nothing changes. Everything around you is as it’s always been. It’s all as it should be. Somehow you hoped it would come to this. You want change, but you’re afraid of it. You’re afraid of what might happen. Afraid of what you might want, what you might can do. That you won’t like it.
A dream has only but one limit: Yourself.
Everything around you is grey. Again, you have no choice. You start to think. You think o sex. Of the underaged girl from upstairs. You want to beat somebody. You want to hit them and be dirt and mean and nasty.
You want to hold a gun to the head of a fast-food employee.
I see myself think.
He kneels before you, sweating, cowering. The barrel rest on his forehead. His eyes bend strangely to focus on it. He tries to see the gun in your hands.
“Look at me,” you yell.
He looks at you. You want to see dread in his eyes. You look deep inside of them. No mercy. A subtle click.
A whisper, “Tonight, you will die.”
His eyes cry out in panic, he crosses them again to see the weapon.
I am no human.
My rational thinking declared emotions are not needed anymore and deleted them. After that, there’s only empty space.
I am no human, I am a condition. I don’t feel. I happen.
Rrrrin rrring. Rrring rrring.
Sometimes it’s enough to remark that something is wrong.
You press the trigger.
Sometimes it needs more.
I boil over. I’m ammunition.
You look at the telephone. You stare at it until it starts ringing.
“I knew it,” you say to the phone. It’s nothing new. One step behind, watching, observing.
“Today. Melissa.” Bob hangs up again.
You grab your stuff and go. As always. Bob calls you. Bob tells you where. Quick and easy and you know what it means. Again, you’re at Melissa’s. She’s seventy-eight, and her family loves her.
I draw a circle on my chest and move my head in sync with it.
Bob where are you?
“Bob and I went to school together. We hated each other. Not a single day without a beating. Difference in opinion, I guess.
“Bob was the hero in class. Good for a bad joke, always. I, on the other hand, wanted to learn. Go one day to collage. Become a lawyer. Never made it, though. He was the bully. I was the bullied.
“I met him today for the first time in ages. We met and almost starting beating on each other again. But instead, we talked. Turns out, we now work for the same people. The same mob. The same dirty people giving us the same dirty jobs. That’s the reason we met: We have been teamed up by our syndicate overlord.
“Can you imagine that, diary? Bob and I both are nothing but smalltime criminal scum. Ah, how small this world truly is.”
I draw smiling faces into the dust.
Why are we meeting today? Another job? Maybe this time something of matter will happen. Maybe I can start my diary again. But I’d be too lazy for that, I guess.
I know I should be sorry.
The pool of red blood grows slowly. There’s nothing left of the preacher’s face. It smells like gasoline and I imagine the click of the over prized lighter to go off. To burn down this church.
The statue of jesus behind the altar has a moustache drawn on it. Religious defacing. Looks incredibly, senselessly fanatic. The light is weak and warm. It seems yellow and brown, like and old movie. One of this old horror-slash-thriller flicks. Any moment now, a guy with a mask and knife jumps from behind a column and screams at us. We want to be really frightened and run away. But he’ll catch us and he’ll cut out our organs.
Like he did to do the dead community people here. The people, church-goers, that lie dead and cut open on their benches. Obviously very dead.
Bob spreads out his arms, as if he wanted to hug the world. His teeth grind and this sepia light gives him a touch of psychopath.
“We’re caught up in something big here, dude! Something huge and big!” He yells in euphoria. His voice echoes from the walls in an ever-fading bounce.
“Bob,” I say. “You watch too many action movies.”
He waves his gun back and forth. He does that to tell me I’m talking nonsense. He always does that. Then goes through the church. Strutting with broad shoulders, a léger head-nod and this look in his eyes. A look that says: It’s my turn.
Bob, what are you doing? Somehow this really hurts.
I’m God’s pulled wisdom teeth.
All you wanted was to go in fast, get the job down, and leave just as quick. Like sex. Bad sex, of course, but sex nonetheless.
You always complain that nothing ever happens. That you’re a small, weak dot surrounded by big, huge things. But you won’t learn, either.
It could have been so easy. You and Bob go on. You and Bob get the package. You and Bob disappear.
Truth, however, can be ever so bitter. Sad, really.
Bob and you go in. Bob and you find a massacre in a church. You go to the confession box, open the little trap door and take the package. You hear a gun shit.
It’s sunday afternoon. This is a house of God full of blood and corpses. Around you is nothing but death and misery, and none of that seem to affect you. You take the reason for sunday-appearance at the church, the little box, from it’s dead-drop hiding place. The little trap door squeaks. This little drop has been used for ages for smuggling. This, you think, in a damned church. Death and blood everywhere but in the small confession box. But you are bothered by the box breaking the silence.
And it’s always these moments.
You hear a gun shot.
Bob waited outside the box. You look outside. Like a curious little cat, you stretch your head out and think the one sentence you thought so many times before: Bob, what are you doing?
You look around and see Bob’s gun still smoking. A mix of red blood and grey bones and pink brains splashes to the floor with a strange splattering sound. Strangely, it makes you think of the squeaking trap door. Then, the preacher’s head hits the floor, too. Again, the splat. There’s nothing left of the preacher’s face.
“Cool,” he says. “Bullet went straight through.”
You stumble from the confession box and your mind is still trying to find the relation between squeaking wood and splatting brains inside a house of God.
Yell at Bob. There’s death and gore and blood. Bob just shot a preacher in the face and said, “Cool.” And the only thing on your mind is that you don’t want to swear in a church. That’s why you won’t yell at Bob.
Get in, get the package, get out. No big deal.
“No witnesses.” Bob says in all ernest. There’s one massacre in a church, and Bob acts if this was his big breakthrough.
Alright. Let’s pretend the people that killed everyone in here and covered the place in gasoline are not just some sort of dark and evil cult. A cult full of frustrated nobodies that lost their faith in God, because their son was run over by a drunk priest. Or their daughter was abused by the only male in her church choir. Or the other way around. No, let’s pretend these people are serious. Some sort of criminal institution. That’s not reason that we are part of their plan now.
“We are sent to find injustice and misery.”
It’s simple. There’s gasoline everywhere, but nobody ignited it. My guess is, it’s a statement. A symbol. Something very modern.
Keep all possibilities open. Don’t be defined
You sit in your chair and stare at the test channel. Monotonous. It could be different.
One could burned down a church, sure, but one doesn’t have to. But one would, the gasoline proves that. Create panic. As if a pile of dead people wouldn’t be enough. But that’s how things work.
There’s always groups or single heroes with great ideas. Something like this: “We could, should, would.” And every so often, there might be someone who forges great planes from those ideas. Really, what they’re doing is taking away the responsibility: “It could, should, would.” Nothing really changes. Simple politics.
“We see evil and deliver justice.”
If one was to douse a church full of dead people in gasoline, the message would be taken more seriously. If one was to ignite the gas, it would look like a standard act of terror. The threat creates more uncertainty than the act.
It would be done. We could do it. Just you wait!
Something like this. I, for one, should get the hell out of here, and quick. It could get worse.
“We bare the sorrow of men and judge over the devil.”
“We are the message. We are the way. We are the goal. We are Jesus.”
Bob, what are you doing?
What’s the difference? What did you expect? Bob’s image and conspiracy and religious bullshit is giving you a headache.
I’m God’s conscious.
He stands before the statue of Jesus. He stands before the blood stained statue, the one with the moustache, and spreads his arms. Like he was the saviour’s shadow.
“We,” he says. The gun hangs on his finger. “We have a mission. A task from God. We are the saviours.”
He talks and he talks and he talks. I don’t even listen to his we-are-the-new-Jesus story. Strange picture, Bob with a moustache.
This stuff will haunt you forever. Right, I can see the headlines:
“Massacre in Church! First sign of Apocalypse? Page 4.”
“Jesus with moustache! Modernizing Christianity? Page 2.”
Is that it? That’s what not-normal feels like?
“Bob declared us Jesus for the day.
“God, I hope nobody will ever read this.”
Why don’t I feel it? Why do I still feel normal? Jesus must have had a boring live.
I’m God’s lost dream.
You see all the dead. You see Bob before Jesus wearing a moustache, and you imagine Bob, too, with a moustache. Would it be salsa-red?
“We are Jesus.”
You never had a moustache. You never heard anything as dumb as this.
The light starts to flicker. The dead preacher still twitches. With the flickering yellow-brown-sepia light, the twitting priest seems alive. Illusion, sure, but he looks alive, somehow. A zombie, why not?
A zombie. A psychokiller. A moustache-Jesus. Could be worse, you think.
“Ready to go?” Bob asks.
I look around. Bob just told me what our job will be. Get a box from a church. I look at the tomb. Her name is Melissa. She is seventy-eight years old and her family loves her.
I nod. I think about the church. The package. Bob reads my mind.
He says, “Smuggling via church. Crazy, right?”
He acts as if he’s really that excited.
I am no human. I’m a cycle.
Day in. Day out.
So much I hope for an act of terror. Burned down church. Sniper on a rampage. Suicide bomber. Random guy speeding on the wrong side of the road
A nuclear war. That would be something, wouldn’t it?
Bob and I leave.
Somehow it all stays the same over the years. Location, time, details vary. But the basics are always the same. The same motions. The same pointless feelings. It’s a circle. Not a spiral with ups and downs, but a monotonous, never-changing circle.
It is balance. It is harmony. My harmony. Fuck.
Bob and I leave. Déjà-vu.
“Probably,” I say, “not. What could possibly happen?”