Free as a bird

I am scouting a new path, and forging new tools to help me enjoy the journey. My old habits have brought me mostly ennui and pain. From now on, I will try to find new ways to live.

When in doubt, I will do nothing. Although I may not be able to wait until certainty arrives, I should at least be able to resist the compulsive and repetitive behaviors that have brought me this far down. I have sunk to previously unimaginable depths. The financial future looks bleak. My reputation is in tatters.

Old friends avoid me. Now that I drool uncontrollably and palsy shakes my limbs, I am unlikely to make new ones. I could assume that somehow this is all my fault, karmic retribution for my past deeds, but I don’t think that will get me anywhere I want to go. Neither saint nor sinner, I am merely a garden-variety human being, struggling to make the best of the situation in which he finds himself.

Should I expect redemption? A bounty of good luck? Absolution for past failings, and the sympathy of bystanders? Hardly.

When I stole that bus I knew what I was doing. When I forced the children on it to walk into the desert without food or water, I was fully aware of my actions. What I failed to understand were my motives. They were obscure to me. Before that incident, I had never thought one way or the other about school buses, yet one proved to be my undoing.

Fortunately, every one of those school children survived, though I’ve heard that a few are still undergoing therapy. The owner of the school bus declined to press charges, for it was revealed that the driver was taking an unauthorized cigarette break and flirting with the cashier at the gas station. He shouldn’t have left the keys in the ignition and the door wide-open.

My lawyers tell me that I’ll likely get off with a sentence that remands me to mental health counseling. After a year or so, I’ll be free of the ankle bracelet and able to come and go as I please.

A Satisfied Man

109166536_1201931220153541_5553949696986556090_n

 

It was a job, but that’s all it was. Not a vocation. No emotional rewards, no feelings of accomplishment. I escorted people who had never questioned anything, who had never had an original thought in their lives, and showed them a bunch of sleepy alligators. Nobody complained or asked for their money back, so I guess I did OK.

 

115772184_10158596776044655_3167071484234441754_o

 

When I got off work I cracked a couple of cold ones and watched TV until I started to fall asleep. The next day was no different. I got to work at 1, when we opened, and already there was a line waiting at the ticket office. I knew what my goals were. I was going to save up for a flying car. Popular Mechanics promised that by 1990 they would be standard issue. I just had to keep working, keep saving money, and wait.

 

116698945_3697249143621859_5498715166964027808_n

 

Every Saturday night, the wife and I would go to Bob’s All You Can Eat for stewed Troglodytes. They swam in their own gravy and you have as many as you liked. I always left with a full stomach. The wife would nibble off my plate, all the while saying she wasn’t hungry, but I think she put down as many as I did.

 

115931659_10218249737699207_6540745537734277728_n

 

If we had people over, we’d show movies of our big vacation from three years ago, the time we went to Borneo, where the men grow tall as trees and the women prune them once a month. Our friends actually enjoyed seeing the same home movies over and over again, because it gave them a chance to rehearse their wisecracks.

 

116873668_3553125488039846_9162421920810314670_n

 

Watching somebody else’s vacation photos is usually an exercise in tolerance, but we try to get creative when it comes to ours.

 

116210988_10157336670682623_5068065140823317271_n

 

Before we send the gang home we crack out the tuna n’ waffles, which puts everybody in a good mood. It’s the most cost-effective and easy to prepare meal we know of, and that’s saying a lot.

 

 

Tingler

116154537_10223856572472912_357788025108631430_n

 

I found it in the driveway. Thought maybe it was a tropical plant or a branch of a tree, or perhaps a reptile that had been run over by a car. It seemed to have once been alive. I took it into the garage and left it on a pile of tarps. I could examine it later when I had more time.

 

116366741_3482529608426649_3416076276047031675_n

 

But first I had to get to my daily piano practice. Half an hour a day, no more, no less. I really enjoy my time in my study. The soothing pastel colors allow me to relax and focus, something that I value even more now in these days since I was released from the mental institution.

 

116204990_10218228283482865_1729160821682497831_o

 

There was a time, not too long ago, when I was on top the world. Women couldn’t get enough of me. Employers sought me out. I had so many offers that it literally made my head spin. And that’s how I ended up needing professional care.

 

115959000_10218227428061480_3215970427222072738_o

 

Then I got a job entertaining at a motel cocktail lounge. It was a little hotel, with a little pool and a tiny lounge bar, but it was enough for me. I was starting to reconnect with the outside world. I no longer drooled when I got dressed in the morning.

 

116597203_10159703337552439_9180950043353788479_n

 

Truth is, I only knew three or four songs on the keyboard, but that was enough to fill most of the time and we had so few customers those that came were happy to hear my New York New York/Changes/Younger Than Springtime medley.  Looking back on that time, I can truly say those days were some of my happiest.

 

82242271_1425999227591454_5388364050066742726_n (1)

 

But getting back to the thing I found in the driveway. It turns out it’s an extra-dimensional parasite that lodges in your spine and the only way you can extract it is by screaming. Isn’t life strange?

THE BAD NEWS

 

Slime mold going from plasmodium to sporulation

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Tests show that the fungus has invaded every part of your body, even crossing the blood/brain barrier. Frankly, we’re surprised you’re still lucid and ambulatory. Most people in your condition are already on life support.

Maybe your fungus is a more benign variety than the ones we’ve seen in the past. You also seem to lack to characteristic odor of bitter lemon that was so evident in the others who suffered from your condition. Fortunately, most of the time their period of suffering was brief. In one case, death followed diagnosis within hours!

But again, my goal is not to alarm you or make light of your plight. If there were a proven treatment, we would try it, no matter how slim the chances of success. But there is no such treatment. The fungus always wins. We can only urge you to get your affairs in order while you still have the strength to do so.

The fungus is intelligent. Do not fool yourself into thinking that you can outsmart it, for it has resisted all treatments and man-made remedies for eons. Like slime mold, it is more than a single organism. It is a community. There is a single slime mold in British Columbia that is almost one thousand square miles in size. We’re not sure about the scope of this fungus yet, but there are signs that it communicates with its own kind, planning and creating strategies that cannot easily be understood or countered. It is one cunning fungus.

Resistance is futile. Acceptance is the answer. If the fungus knocks, let it in. Its clammy embrace may ensure you a better future.

Nobody Said It Would Be Easy

You just need a little guidance. Your youth and inexperience are holding you back. I can help. Within a few hours this world of ours will begin to disintegrate. You have a choice. You can stay here and turn into a vampire, a werewolf, or a zombie or some kind of weirdo that nobody wants to have around, or you can simply go with the flow. You can fall into that lake of molten fire. The one over there. It’s actually liquid sulfur. That’s why it smells so bad.

Don’t let the smell upset you. You won’t be alive long enough to smell much because sulfur melts at two hundred forty degrees. Your blood will boil, your brain will fry inside your skull and all the meat on your bones will be “well done” within minutes.

So it’s up to you. You can change or you can cease to exist. Neither will be as easy as you would like, but then nobody asked your opinion about the severity of the choice. This is the nature of the world we’ve inherited.

Images of a loving God providing guidance and refuge have long since fallen out of favor. Now, if people worship anything, they worship health and longevity. After most people died of Covid-22, the mutation that kept on mutating, nobody expected things to ever improve. Nobody even dared hope for things to return to the way they were.

The fact is that everybody has problems. Nobody has it easy. If you’re a zombie, you’ve got to find brains to eat. A vampire has to drink blood. A werewolf…well, he has more options than the other two, but they mostly involve ripping people to shreds and howling at the moon.

The main hurdle most of us face is finding someone with whom we have enough in common to build a life together. Of course, most of us can do this for a short while and then become bored and tear the life out my the roots and throw it by the side of the road. If we can refrain from doing this we’re soon ahead of the game. We can realize opportunities, we can know relative freedom and partial contentment.

Until we decide that’s not enough. It would be easier to simply acknowledge our part in this instead of blaming circumstances and others, but that doesn’t come easily to most people. We think “if only I had married that other person…” Or “look at his house, his car…why does he have it so good?” And so we build a tangled web of confusion, and find ourselves trapped inside it. Our frustration and self-pity skyrocket.