Saturday, August 24, 2013
A Day: Part 1
Jed Evans opened his eyes and found himself face down on dingy gray carpet under a coffee table covered in monster stickers. He tried to lift himself and crashed his head into the wood edge of the coffee table.
"Fug" he barely tried to say and dropped back down to the dewy carpet.
"Hey dude" a voice from the couch said. "I was wondering when you would get up."
Jed rolled out from under the table and jerked himself up into lotus position. He looked down to see his skin tight black pants were damp around the crouch. "Fuck, did I piss myself?"
Zeke, on the couch, postulated the question. "I think Stevie spilled a beer over there last night, so you're probably good." Zeke Walters sat on the couch quietly waiting for Jed to wake up. "I think there are some chips leftover in the kitchen. Are you hungry?"
"Where'd Steph end up last night? Jed asked.
"Dude, she got super drunk super early." Zeke leaned forward on the couch. "I think Trish took her home."
Jed stretched his head back while his neck emitted barely audible pops. "Uh, good. Forget the chips, let's split before someone asks us to clean up."
Jed and Zeke walked west down Kossuth street at a sluggish and awkward pace. Both wore intentionally ill fitting apparel with patches of neon green and pink scattered asymmetrically on their limbs and core. Both vaguely dumpy in posture with sagging holes in their earlobes. Young libertines out of place and time. Proud American males unwilling to except the idea of growing old. They inched forward towards downtown without much on their mind, building down hill momentum towards the bus depot.
"What are we going to do today?" Zeke asked.
"I don't know, dude. Who cares?" Jed replied.
"It's still pretty early, so drinking is probably stupid."
"We don't have any money." Jed turned his head and contorted his face, gesturing towards Zeke as they lurched slowly forward. "So yeah, drinking is stupid." They gained momentum with each step. They walked in solipsistic silence for a spell. "Something will happen." Jed finally said. "Something will turn up." They poured down Ninth street hill with a directionless drive other than gravity.
"It's hot today." Zeke said.
"Do you know anybody with AC?" Zeke asked.
"Let's get in some AC if we can, is what I am saying." Zeke said.
"And do what?" Jed asked.
"Nothing man. That's the point."
They both stopped in front of the only purple thing on the hill. A structure on ninety degree angles half submerged in the dirt and grass of the hill. A large chair stands as defiant as an Oldenberg sculpture in an ornately Victorian neighborhood. The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette provides activities for children.
"We could head downtown, try and find some work." Jed said. "And if we don't we might know some people at the depot." Zeke stared at the purple and gray structure half buried in the dirt. "You got something better to do?"
"Alright alright" Zeke lowered his head. "Let's head to the bus station."
Zeke and Jed turned onto Main Street discussing fashion.
"This shirt was limited edition from Business?Ink. Only fifty were made and it is personally numbered by the artist."
"That shit is played out. Check out my shirt from Clean...Font"
"Did you see my sick shirt from BenignDesign?"
"You dig BenignDesign?"
"What's wrong with it?"
"Have you seen the stuff from SacrificialYouth?"
"I've never heard of SacrificialYouth?"
"These pants are SacrificialYouth." Jed said. "I'm thinking of getting a shirt."
"Is it dark stuff?" Zeke asked.
"Fuck yeah it's dark." Jed replied. " Darkness rules the world."
Their pace slowed down Main street. They walked in solipsistic silence once again.
Young children ran through the centralized depot fountain. The water splashed against their elastic bodies. They raised their heads to the sky when the water hit them. Groups of people clustered on curved concrete embankments. People of all shapes, sizes, and colors gathered around Riehle plaza. Many sat slumped in exhaustion in some way, carrying weight, tangible and psychological. Abuse, self inflicted or not, washed over their jowls and slacked jaws. Only the children seemed energetic and alive, splashing in the water.
"We don't know anybody here." Zeke said.
"Shut up, dude." Jed said.
"Who are these people?"
"I said shut up, it's the others." Jed said.
"Woot woot!" a cadence announced in the air from the south, a rebel yell. "Woot woot!" a reponse from the north. The call and response of two groups meeting at a water source.
"The others?" Zeke squinted his eyes toward Jed.
"Juggalos" Jed said. "They're everywhere."
"So?" Zeke rhetorically asked. "I have some friends that listen to the Insane Clown Posse. My neighbor, Dakota, loves them and he's a cool kid."
"They're considered a gang by the United States government, dude." Jed squinted his eyes at Zeke.
"That's crazy. It's just rap music."
"Woot woot! from the south again.
From the west, a grey bearded derelict wearing beer cans knotted together by hemp twine, creating a noisy chain mail of trash screamed "Plague!" Some looked up, but most ignored him as they ignore much else. "Plague!" he screamed again. "There are portents and omens that warn all of us there is a plague coming and yet we do nothing. Nothing!"
Jed listened while Zeke waited quietly in willful ignorance, staring at his phone.
"Jack rabbits!" the man in the can robe said, spinning in the air, turning his reflective robe into a primitive pinwheel. "We have altered the land before without fear, only to find plague." The can man said. "We altered the west to our ideal of growth and found plague. A dust bowl of unlivable life with people too stubborn to believe it was unlivable. And then plague!"
Jed was listening.
"Jack rabbits need to eat. They eat, mate, fight and bolt on instinct. And they will follow their true source of life if they are jack rabbit smart. And when someone takes that away they will gravitate toward other jack rabbits and scour the land as plague!" The can man ceased proselytizing his thoughts for a moment and shuffled his feet in a primitive tap dance.The wrinkles in his forehead and the yellow in his beard, the squint in the crows feet surrounding his striking blue eyes, gracefully swaying back and forth with his feet below him stamping and tapping. "You must give it to them when you must or slaughter the jack rabbits." He said in singsong.
"Woot woot!" A late response from the north.
From the east a tall dark figure sauntered towards them. With crablike agility he worked his way through the crowd, up the brick path. His western shirt sleeves swung back and forth. His head faced down towards his cut off work pants and boots. Jed and Zeke shifted their attention to the dark figure as the can man danced his dance to the song in his head, in a state of rapture. "What are you fuckheads doing?"
"Nice shirt" Zeke said. "I like the pearl buttons."
The dark figure looked up, casting summer light on his face as he wiped his eyes and looked into Jed's eyes. "Are you looking for work?" The man asked.
"We both are." Jed said.
The man looked up in the air, squinting towards the sun. "Alright, both of you."
"Doing what?" Zeke asked.
"Work." The man said. "Probably the only work you fuckheads are capable of."
"Manual labor?" Jed asked defensively.
"Well, I'm sure as hell not going to ask you clowns to work in accounting." The man said. "Lifting shit, hauling shit, collecting garbage, organizing what is usable to build with again and throwing the rest of the garbage away."
Jed looked over at Zeke. "What do you think?"
"What?" Zeke said. He was looking at his phone again.
The man sighed. He dropped his head back perpendicular to his body. His hand reached into his pocket and clutched his phone. His head bounced back up and his thumb hit the touch screen of his phone. He mirrored Zeke in posture and demeanor. "What the hell else are you doing?"
"We could have plans." Jed said.
The can man jerked his arms upwards causing his chain mail to rattle. He pointed towards Jed, Zeke, and the man. "Plague!" He screamed. "You may not know it, but you are all infected with plague!"
"What is wrong with that guy?" Zeke sighed exhaustively. "What could have possibly happened to him to make him act this way?"
The man and Jed stared at Zeke for a moment. "What do you mean? He's fucking crazy, the end." The man said.
Dakota pushed the tail of his skateboard down to the pavement with his left heel. All seven contoured plies of wood that made up its body had been ground down by the pavement. It's wheels were yellow. It's trucks were scratched and hammered down by something geological evolution and biological evolution would easily explain if it were not such a scary combination of words to say in the classrooms and hallways of the city schools of America.
Evolution in the classroom.
Geology in the hallway.
Biology in the hallway.
Dakota's left shoe was split on both sides from dragging his foot against the sandy black surface of his skateboard. He needed new shoes, but they would do for now. His mother was always upset by how quickly his shoes deteriorated. They always should have lasted longer. His boards, too. They are stronger than his shoes, but they should have lasted longer.
His father wasn't there. His father could not tell him, after he kept a stern face, while his mother scolded young Dakota about his recklessness, as she cleaned the blood from his arm, as she poured a chemical from a bottle in the medicine cabinet, as she wrapped gauze around the wound, as she stared into Dakota's eyes and finally smiled and finally hugged him and finally asked what she was going to do with him, that he understood. Sometimes a boy must simply move. His father had left long ago.
His mom was drunk most of the time she was home from work. When he hurt himself she either scolded him or cradled him in her arms crying, depending on her mood.
Dakota posted into a K when he stopped his board with his feet. He posed for a moment in front of the three.
"Hey guys." Dakota said.
"Who is this goofball?" The man asked.
"Hey Dakota." Zeke answered.
"Let's go. We'll take the work." Jed said.
"Bye Dakota" Zeke said as they walked to the man's truck.
"Let's see what I can let you idiots get away with." The man said.
"Woot woot!" From the south.
"Woot woot!" From the north.
East and then south up fourth street hill.
Aaron C. Molden