”If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.” – George R.R. Martin
Thought you knew what was gonna happen.
Yes, you did. Because that’s how it always ends. People and their illusions. Flipped your expectations over and onto themselves, didn’t I? I have an image burned into my mind of a man’s bleeding unconscious body lying on the floor in front of me, with security being the only thing between me and his literal actual death.
And I’m hearing already… he wants another shot.
Do you think that’s wise, Zion?
You came to play, you played the best game of your life, figuratively speaking, and it still wasn’t enough. You thought it was there for the taking. And, Bo… and George… Stevens. The two least famous members of the Stevens family. I got confused for a moment. I thought you two were ushers. How often, do you wonder, has the direction of your life been shaped by such misunderstandings? How many opportunities have you been denied, or for that matter, awarded, because someone failed to see you properly? How many friends have you lost, how many have you gained, because they glimpsed some element of your personality that shone through for only an instant, and in circumstances you could never reproduce? You are an illusion of water shimmering at the far bend of a highway.
Everyone loves the idea of you, wants you to do well, but that’s all you are, an idea. You are a dream, like everything else.
Reality steps up and smacks you in the face with no regard for your well-being. It swings wildly and connects with brutal, vicious force. That’s the only real thing.
Because an illusion is an illusion. The reality though exists, it always exists.
And yes, how strange when an illusion dies. It’s as though you’ve lost a child.
No little children left for you, my friend.
All order, I’ve come to understand, is theoretical, unreal – a harmless, sensible, smiling mask men slide between the two great, dark realities, the self, and the world – two snake pits.
It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a facade of order – and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order. The order that our mind imagines is like a net, or like a ladder, built to attain something. But afterward, you must throw the ladder away, because you discover that, even if it was useful, it was meaningless.
Wheels have been set in motion, and they have their own pace, to which we are… condemned. Each move is dictated by the previous one – that is the meaning of order. If we start being arbitrary it’ll just be a shambles: at least, let us hope so. Because if we happened, just happened to discover, or even suspect, that our spontaneity was part of their order, we’d know that we were lost. A philosopher dreamed he was a butterfly, and from that moment he was never quite sure that he was not a butterfly dreaming that it was a philosopher. Envy him; his two-fold security.
There are people Darin Zion, like poor little Eli Dresden, like the Stevens boys, who will be in the ring with me and my friend, Arthur. There are people like you all everywhere. Nothing special about any of you that makes you exceptions to the rule. You fill your spare time, or what you believe to be your spare time, by collecting stamps, coins, medals, vases, postcards, matchboxes, books, clocks, sport shirts, autographs, stones, clay figurines, empty beverage cans, little angels, lighters, pens, music boxes, bottles, bonsai trees, old toys, carnival masks, and you probably do so out of something that we might call metaphysical angst, perhaps because they cannot bear the idea of chaos being the one ruler of the universe, which is why, using your limited powers and with no divine help, you attempt to impose some order on the world, and for a short while you manage it, but only as long as you are there to defend your collection, because when the day comes when it must be dispersed, and that day always comes, either with your death or when the collector grows weary, everything goes back to its beginnings. Everything returns to chaos.
There is not much mental distance between a feeling of having been screwed and the ethic of total retaliation, or at least the kind of random revenge that comes with outraging public decency.
If you are a warrior, decency means that you are not cheating anybody at all. You are not even about to cheat anybody. There is a sense of straightforwardness and simplicity. With setting-sun vision or vision based on cowardice, straightforwardness is always a problem. If people have some story or news to tell somebody else, first of all, they are either excited or disappointed. Then they begin to figure out how to tell their news.
They develop a plan, which leads them completely away from simply telling it. By the time a person hears the news, it is not news at all, but opinion. It becomes a message of some kind, rather than fresh, straightforward news.
Decency is the absence of strategy. It is of utmost importance to realize that the approach should be simple-minded sometimes, very simple and straightforward. That makes it very beautiful: you have nothing up your sleeve; therefore a sense of genuineness, no matter how horrifying, comes through.
That is decency.
I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I value most. No, it’s not wealth, beauty or status. It is common decency. Your rudeness has caused all of this. That’s what it boils down to. If you’d had the decency to treat the wretched with the respect we are owed, none of this would have had to happen.
And I will make you pay for it.
I know you all want your retribution. All of you do, even the ones who haven’t experienced my wrath yet. In its purest form, an act of retribution provides symmetry. The rendering payment of crimes against the innocent. But a danger of retaliation is the furthering cycle of violence. Be careful you don’t clash swords with a master of it, and yet still, it is a risk that must be met; and the greater offense is to allow the guilty to go unpunished.
I’ve felt it, been consumed by it, risen out of it like the phoenix in my rage. Rage swallowed remorse. Rage drop-kicked self-pity. Rage murdered sorrow. And then, like blood-red wine tucked into the refrigeration, rage chilled to become cold, calculating anger. Anger was a creature that arrived on my doorstep with a suitcase full of strategy and vengeance. It tipped its hat at me and hopped into my brain. It found a broken mirror somewhere in the crevices between my hippocampus and my hypothalamus, and it was wondering if somebody had misplaced it. Retaliation… revenge, is yours?
Arriving someplace more desirable at some time in your future is an illusion.
I’ll never let you win.
This is all there is.
”God isn’t here. God doesn’t even know about this place.” – Johan Harstad
Water drips into a sink at the rear left corner of the prison cell. A vinyl record plays “Make Your Own Kind of Music”, scratching as it goes on. In the middle of the cell, on the floor sitting cross-legged, Jeffrey James Roberts sways back and forth, his eyes closed.
“Welcome back, my friend.”
Roberts stops his movement, hearing rustling behind him outside the entrance to his cell. He turns his head to confirm and sees the 4th Wahl standing there, arms crossed.
“It’s been a little while. I was starting to think you didn’t love me anymore.”
He smiles a devilish grin as the big man stares at him. Looking around the cell, the 4th Wahl scans the back wall where the concrete blocks are covered more and more by photos and mementos from the short career of its occupant. Roberts watches him, considering his interest as his eyes rest on the sink in the corner.
Finally, the large bodyguard looks down at the prisoner. “I could have someone fix that for you if you like. The boss is inclined to make your incarceration more pleasant as long as you continue to do his bidding unabated.”
Roberts tilts his head slightly to the right.
“I don’t know. I’ve grown to love it I think. It keeps me from falling into the silent drudgery of an eternal prison sentence.”
4th Wahl smirks slightly. Roberts returns a smirk of his own.
“I assume you didn’t come here to discuss plumbing.”
“You’d be correct in that assumption”, the big man responds. “I have instructions for you.”
Roberts’ head tilts back slightly.
“Feel free to place it in the slot and push it through at your convenience.”
Roberts taps his right index finger on his leg, and he keeps his stare on the visitor, who does not move.
Roberts stands to his feet, narrowing his eyes, perplexed. “No?”
“Not this week. This week his instructions are more straightforward. This week, you are simply to win your match. Do whatever you have to do to coordinate with your partner, but He wants your opponents whole when you are done. No trophies.”
Roberts snarls. “I live to serve.”
“One more thing”, Wahl replies. “Since you’ve done so well so far, He will be permitting you a visitor. In fairness, it seems you should be allowed the chance to discuss strategy.”
“I see.” Roberts tilts his head down slightly but looks dead-on in the 4th Wahl’s eyes. “How generous.”
4th Wahl nods, looks Roberts up and down, then turns to walk away. “I’ll leave you to it.”
He walks out of frame and Roberts stands there, looking through the plexiglass, waiting. After a few moments, he hears footsteps coming down the hall. He closes his eyes and smiles.
“Arthur Pleasant I presume…”
”I have such a fear of finding another like myself, and such a desire to find one. I am so utterly alone, but I also have such a fear that my isolation be broken through, and I no longer be the head and ruler of my universe.” – Anais Nin
I have always been an avid reader. In freer times I buried myself in it. It represented a chance to forget the drudgery of my existence. My habit of reading isolated me. It became such a need that after being in others’ company for any amount of time I grew tired and restless. I was vain of the wider knowledge I had acquired from the perusal of so many books, my mind was alert, and I had not the skill to hide my contempt for my companions’ stupidity. They complained that I was conceited; and, since I excelled only in matters which to them were unimportant, they asked satirically what I had to be conceited about.
I was developing a sense of humor, and found that I had a knack for saying bitter things, which caught people on the raw; I said them because they amused me, hardly realizing how much they hurt, hardly caring, and was much offended when I found my victims regarded me with active dislike.
The humiliations I suffered when I first went to school had caused in me a shrinking from my fellows which I could never entirely overcome; I remained shy and silent. But though I did everything to alienate the sympathy of other boys, I longed with all my heart for the popularity which to some was so easily accorded. These from my distance I admired extravagantly; and though I was inclined to be more sarcastic with them than with others, though I made little jokes at their expense, I would have given anything to change places with them.
Welcome to the wonderful world of jealousy. For the price of admission, you get a splitting headache, a nearly irresistible urge to commit murder, and an inferiority complex.
And yes, I admit it. It will always be a part of who I am. Words can’t get under my skin. I already know that I am the lowest of the low. I have always known it. I want desperately for it to be different, but it never will be, and I have learned to accept that. I am stuck in a poisonous mental prison of jealousy and self-doubt that blinds me to my own potential.
If any man, woman, or child swims effortlessly in the deep oceans, rides the waves to and from the shore, if they can breathe underwater and dine on the deep treasures of the seas; mark my words, I will dwell on the rocks carrying nets to try and reel you into my catch. The last thing I want is for you to thrive in your habitat because you stand strong in my atmosphere, where I beg and gasp for a wisp of air.
I won’t lie. I want to beat the hell out of anyone who has had the slightest moment of joy – you’d be smart to keep them all the hell away from me – but nothing in anyone’s past can change how I feel about them. My jealousy is a living thing, shifting, changing, growing, like my rage and my mother’s regret. I am consumed.
But now my jealousy drives me.
Yes, I learn.
Anyone who isn’t embarrassed by who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.
Everything is simply a matter of time. I’ve come so far so fast. I’ve got so much farther to go. I’ll crack the code of it all, not because I’m so smart, but because my isolation gives me time to stay with the questions much longer. I am caged, but maybe not forever. I’m used to these walls, but if you plan to build new walls around me, know this – I will walk through them.
Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I took from those fucking therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps.
I am unredeemed but resolved. There is no going back.
My soul has fallen to bits and pieces.
I will rearrange them to suit myself.
”We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie