Copyright © 2006 by Juventino Manzano. All rights reserved.
Tell me how are the lobotomy children supposed to act? How are the children who imbibed acid and downs and dex and horse before they were born, who walk through the radioactive rain, how are they supposed to act?Kathy Acker
Blood and Guts in High School
We hid from the cruisin’ bundies inside the burned-out husk of a Chinese recon vehicle. They passed by, sniffing the air searching for prey and, much thanks to our earth oil, did not detect us. When we were sure they were gone, we headed down to the acid house to hear some jams: dance-cop a buzz-fry — same o, same o.
Had to check my AK in at the door. Besides checking in our long arms, we had to pay the steep admittance fee of a box of shotgun shells and a hunting knife we had found scavenging. She wanted to drop something she’d scored for us. I was ready as well; forget the gunshots, the violence — just drop and veg in the chill room, watch the wall melt. Not her, she was anxious to forget herself by diving into the dance floor manumit — a savage band dancin’ hard to post-mil electro music — a beating rasping or rhyme — music of a sort, got a groove somewhere. I craved the chill room for escape from the savage eternal dance outside/inside. I had my way on a pillow now, listening to the wall telling a tale of subjective reality adrift in vast patterns unrecognizable.
There she was, halfway out of the chill room wanting to chill with me, dance with me, without me — torn but becoming one with her body, gone, smiling as I realized this and I notice “TO LOSE IT” in tacks on the ceiling like hieroglyphics telling secrets of a simpler time when “TO LOSE IT” was for fun.
Music from dancing savage zone crashing over and stomping ambient Eno crawling around on the floor. Some frenzied bundy rap — RAPE IT KILL IT DAMN HO KILL IT RAPE IT SHE AINT GONNA ARGUE WIT MY THROBBIN’ GAT and so on. Earth or woman, who is the raped? Earth and ho, one? I am watching her dance to that and I shudder — ammo belt of shotgun shells tight to her form — earth mother with a 12-gauge. I must dance with her, so prying myself out of the cushion I follow her out into the throngs of dancers in units and solo, past the tightly knit groups comparing brands in their flesh, tats, pokes, leathers, perhaps gang-banged memories, and we eventually break into our space — black and bruise-like and people all around dancing in prism-tracer-slow-mo. We glide together and over the music, I hear the clinking sound of her gun belt and mine clinking touching inadvertently and my head is a black space, eyes closed, I’m dancin’ now to a new electro-synth hip hop grind. We mesh on the dance floor — lids open I scream her name over the music I presume, and she nods smiling. I’m taking a breath and “where am I” is a moot point, I’m a smile on her face and she’s the glint in my eye, fryin’ dancin’ to the heavens Ellis Dee, the mad magician of sanctified slavery, I’m a hysteric Pan in a flesh suit in the midst of orgasms — buddy, I’m a self perpetuating machine, a scrawl across the page, a dignified speck, a silent scream… She mouths “I’m there” and we are one divided self, bodies laughing with an “I want you” vibe so high we succumb leaving infinity for the sexual entanglement snake shedding skin ritual we share amongst the cushions of the chill room. We make our way again through the other ravagers: Where art thou Noble Savage? No answer from him. Only answer this Hobbesian state we live in, but wait — we are in the chill room and I wonder momentarily, shivering, if any of the others in the chill room are bundies, even though everyone else seems as preoccupied with a fleshy sort of activity as we are about to be.
Afterwards, we lie together, her head on my chest, and I stroke her matted hair. She looks up at me and we smile and laugh a huge release, post orgasmic. “I’m hungry” she says. I am as well, I realize. Amid the other fucking ravagers and chiller-outers we dress, then it’s time to cavort amongst the ruins as we have always done. AK on sling, over shoulder, knows no god. Left the acid house peaking sinking in the cesspool of the smoggy atmosphere outside — ozone action day everyday now — like back in the days before the fall, and some wore gas masks, others of more existential thought did not. We were in the latter camp. Why encumber yourself? Kind of like counting calories rather than watching what you eat in the land ‘o plenty before the fall.
Now there were way bigger worries, since the country or the world as far as we know is nothing but gangs of all sorts fighting over food and water and women and drugs and weapons and nothing at all, but the innate desire to dominate that seems to be the most constant trait of humans. Gangs of all sorts: F.E.M.A. troops, National Guard troops now only loyal to their commander and he to their desires, UN “peacekeepers” who’d been brought here to keep the peace because they would not hesitate, as an American might, to shoot an American, bundies who roamed just simply murdering and raping and getting high on anything they could find or steal — including, some said, the pineal gland of luckless victims, crackers; those who had just cracked up now roaming the ruins, gangs of all sorts without any metaphor attached. And the ex-national guards would roam the ruins looking to kill bundies, who loved to rape and kill anyone, and anyone to the guards looked like a bundy, so everyone watched out for the guards who loved to rape and kill like the bundies loved to kill and rape.
As we near the market area, gunshots have faded into the distance and our mouths start watering to the intoxicating smell of roasting cat flesh tempting us. I hate cat flesh for tasting so good. I loved cats, not originally for food, but now they are plentiful amidst the ruins and can be cooked in a multitude of ways.
We trade ammo for cat tacos, and we are hungry and high, and we savor every bite.
“Remember back before the fall, when we went to the beach that long ago time that seems not so long ago?” We look into each others eyes and remember…
On the beach far away from it all, sand running through my hands. “Look” I was so incredulous hearing my voice say “look” as the sand fell in wet clumps. We had dropped our acid over an hour ago and it was starting to kick in. The sky was velvet carpet with a full half dollar reflecting off the ocean.
“More sand in that clump than there are people in the world,” I observed.
“Here on shore or in the sea, I can see how insignificant we really are,” Stacy spoke.
“Yes.” I seem to speak.
“Mark, look.” Stacy points out a filthy piece of rope that had washed up on shore and seemed to breathe and writhe in the surf glowing from the moonlight. We bend over the rope forming a U with our bodies. Her long barkwood colored hair hangs near my face and I ran my sandy hands through it feeling its warmth and she breathed and we look away from the rope and into our eyes and her breath entered my mouth and we stretched up linking hands now and our tongues met and my hands went to her back and I felt her spine sending out energy which I absorbed greedily, and we continue to kiss and I breathe into her like a fleshy god enlivening his creation and we sink to our knees, tongues untie.
We can’t speak, our eyes say everything and the god damned thing is that they have always been saying the same thing. We just had never taken the time to listen. A big wave hits our legs as the tide moves in and we crawl sputtering, leaving our grooves in the sand so temporary and we roll into the sand together, a slip-knot of desire, and mold the sand to our image…
And here we are now in the same ol’ thing like before the fall, bitchin’ because we’re on acid and we know we have to eventually return back down in it and we hang — as we did before — in there, waiting for things to get better… We decide to walk and check out the stuff for sale in the market — all the same consumer crap so popular before the fall, even bigger now (well, aside from the cat flesh): drugs, porn, smokes, ammo, guns, double A batteries to keep those portable CD players and Walkmans going, antibiotics for the various plagues still active… Traders from all over the countryside would come to this market which was a kind of “safe zone,” which was not to say that heavy bad vibes were not uncommon, but mostly people respected the neutrality of the square.
“Buy a bong?” A voice crept out at me from a Jerry Garcia looking guy, sitting in front of a good sized trader tent behind a table covered with drug paraphernalia — hypos bongs hookahs pipes bullets for cocaine crystal, a literal toy box. Jerry wore a kimono, a machete in his belt, wire-rimmed glasses. His nose was one of those red alcoholic noses with lots of burst veins, but that could be attributed to various diseases or enforced vaccination side effects from the beginning of the collapse. His eyes glared red behind the clear lenses of his glasses. An M16 rifle was leaning against the table.
“Can we try one?” Stacy asks.
Jerry smiles and rubs his salt and pepper beard. “Sampler eh? You break out, you can try any you’d like.” She points to a Jim Beam bottle bong. Jerry smiles as I hand him a small bud from the inside of the stock of my AK. “Sissy! Sissy!” he called out into the opening flap of the tent. A young woman came out dressed in green, purple, white and black Guatemalan pattern pajamas. “Sissy, I need you to mind the store while I indulge our guests.” Sissy looked at Stacy and me and her gray cinder eyes roamed over both of our bodies. I nudged Stacy who just smiled. “Don’t mind Sissy,” Jerry began, “Always horny.”
Sissy ran her hands over her breasts and took Jerry’s chair behind the table as we followed Jerry into the confines of his tent smelling of incense. The interior was lit by a gas lamp hanging from the ceiling, and upside down American flags hung all along the walls of the tent. “Yeah, those keep the cold out, I was lucky I found ’em. They were in a big pile inside a prison I scavenged — seems the industry of the prison had been making ol’ glory.” Jerry sat on car seat cushions on the floor and we did the same sitting Indian style. I put my AK at my side. We spark up the bowl and begin passing it. Stacy takes a big hit making her eyes tear, face flush even more than it already has, and her sweaty hair forms a hood around her face as she passed the bong to me saying, “That was the one” and letting out a huge sigh-whheeshhheeewwww sound as I hit the still smoking bowl. Her eyes light up bright from being gone.
Lost for a moment in time — I remember I had come from buying a hit of acid. At my neighbor Jane’s, I got drunk —
drank too much tequila and mescal, smoked too much weed and had that one cigarette that just pushed me over the edge, and a bunch of my friends from that time were all at Jane’s apartment slam dancing to Jane’s Addiction and after Gary Watts broke the living room window, I somehow wandered into a shard that acquainted itself with my finger dripping blood all over the sidewalk in front of Chris’s apartment where it looked so sad and lonely away from my veins. At the toilet I made the startling discovery that I had eaten way more then I had thought — speaking to blurs “I don’t drink no alcohol, it fucks you up. Fucks me. Serious I lost…” Stacy had held my hand at some point as I threw up again and again and I think I told her I love her and she denies the statement’s authenticity since I was just so gone, but I always up to this day insist whatever I said then was nothing but true.
Scar on left hand middle finger, the ol’ “fuck you” finger now helping hold the Jim Beam bong. Bowl still burning, I hit it again and all I can do is look at her. “That was the one,” I believe I say. Stacy smiles at me and Sissy walks in and tosses a hemp bag to Jerry. “Good trade,” Jerry says as he looks in the bag and pats Sissy on the ass. Sissy looks at me with those ashen eyes and I want her and Stacy looks at me smiling, sensing desire. “Oops,” I say wistfully sensing that Stacy totally felt the fuck vibe coming out of me. Stacy giggles at me and as Sissy left back to the front to mind the store.
“I named her Sissy after I found her in the suburbs,” Jerry began as he hit the bong. “She as well as her mother and her father and younger brother had all been gang raped, left for dead by one of the marauding bundy/Crip gangs that had taken power in this part of the state. Sissy was not dead. She keeps speaking to a bare minimum, but she knows how to show me some good affection. Sometimes I feel like the ancient Greeks must have felt having a wife and concubine and a young male protege and none of it labeled or demonized. I mean times are bad, but I almost feel as though I have more ‘freedom’ than I ever had before the collapse. Funny how things are.” The bong was going around. I was as high as possible without being dead — detached and aware, always seeking some sort of out-of-body-ness… “My name is Marco, I dropped the other one after the collapse, keeps a tombstone uncluttered, not that I expect Sissy to bother with a burial.” Marco/Jerry offers us a pouch of tobacco and papers. Stacy and I accept. I break out some cat jerky in exchange and we munch on the jerky while rolling our cigarettes.
“We are all on the same ship, don’t let anyone tell you that a paradox is two doctors or a pair of shoes, because we are living paradox, this that, desire spirit, flesh, death and sex” — he waves his hand at the whole madness reality — “Pink gel LSD, anyone?” He holds the hits of acid out to us in his palm. Her and I nod. Her and I know the drugs can’t really take us away.
I have seen plenty of people, the crazy crackers who roam the ruins looking for change in pay phones or looking for a Circle K that is open or the really lost one I saw who was looking for change for a five dollar bill so he could answer a page. These people had broken precisely because they did not do any drugs but those supplied by the corporations to protect us against the plagues the corporations themselves had started so they could sell us the solution. I believe that is a Hegelian principle: Action, Reaction, Solution. All that philosophy I took in school paid off well — I can make well informed moral decisions. Great. What is the point when no one else is?
That was what studying that shit had taught me… When the collapse occurred and the medicines were not available and everything they had known broke, they broke. That was the story of the crackers. They missed the mall and their cell phone and the oh so wonderful convenience of the well-lit-strip-mall-McMedicated-McMalaised-Western-early-21st-century consumer-culture…
That is old history now, the forced vaccinations and medications had been put in place by the government in order to retain some control over a populace that had had enough of the decimation of all that was human.
I take my hit feeling my stomach drop another ten stories. LSD shivers through my veins and geometric patterns fall unabated from my hands, phantoms finally perceived. She is smiling Cheshire-cat-like and this is a cartoon world after all. Only door out is in my head ’cause the channel outside won’t change and we begin to drift and from somewhere Marco puts on some pre-collapse pop music by some vacuous big-breasted blonde and it’s a song we all know and we sing along with it and the words of the lyrics crash into the ceiling scattering letters all over us. She and I hold hands and of course the urge strikes us — and I think of a rainbow, something that has not been seen since the collapse, and like a snakeskin shed and left behind, a fragile memory wraps around us like a Mobeus strip:
Her: Has to be acid.
You: No explanation for how it works. It’s like trying to understand why we think the way we think…
Her: Wheeewwwsshhheeewww… I thought I was coming down…
Her: Felt like 12 people on that one. Let’s talk. I feel like I’m on that trip again, this is good acid. We got a good deal. I can’t imagine acid trips lasting this long. I mean, I’m over my peak just hangin’ there gliding over the screen waiting to fall and not falling…
You: Nope, not falling. What am I going to find out now? Will I understand more of where all this is taking us? Could it be just as senseless as anything else we do?
Her: Yeah, that’s what we were talking about earlier. Is it going to make a real difference if we know who we are?
You: What difference does it make?
Her: Well, that sucks.
You: Yeah, kind of fucked…
You: I’m laughing at something… I am laughing because…
Her: What… It’s funny that no matter how much we know who we are that’s always changing, I mean, we can know each other to the very thing that created us because it doesn’t matter, I mean all this shit we can retrace all the cycles and keep unwinding it, the whole, but even when we think we are done, just because we believe we understand it, that doesn’t mean that’s where were going to be, just looking down over all of it.
You: So what good does it do?
Her: Absolutely nothing.
You: Just like a curse.
Her: Right, but in itself is a cycle, a whole separate cycle.
You: I wish I had never known, you see because I know it was already in me already, I never had to take acid, acid just said “look, this is you,” cleared the viewfinder and I went wow this is it huh? This is me?
Her: When I say “this me” — when I said “this is me,” if I am presenting myself like this is me, it would be a whole diagram of the whole thing, you know everything we ever thought of to work out who we are, but look who’s telling it, that this me, just this plain nothing one sided thing, is this massive plan.
You: Sure is hard being here.
Her: Yeah, sure is…
Things have not changed too much for us. Like before the fall, we still do the acrobatics with the words, the thoughts, dancing, drugs, love, sex, death — the eternal rejuvenator — and when we arrive back every time without fail, we seem to be so low can’t see the W in low and it’s the same ol’ thing until we take off somehow, anyhow, all over again. So maybe every trip is the same, but then again, maybe not.