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  • And then they felt the need to walk down every hill, to walk up every staircase, to drink anything that wasn’t tainted with feces, and even some things that were. They thought that they could do everything, and that missing even one small anything would be tantamount to failure, not just to failure but to spiritual death, horrible hatred of not just the personal self but the collective self, and the destiny assigned to them would be nothing more than a straight line that curved ever so slightly downward every day.

    And then they felt the need to swim with their clothes on because they had always been told that you should always swim with specific clothes made of polyester spandex in bright neon colors, or, barring the availability of that, in something that mimicked perfectly the cut of said items. A bra to be the bikini top, shorts that could function as men’s swimming trunks. Skinny dipping was a rebellion but an accepted on, a college rebellion, the things that they subtly tell you to do so that when you do them you’re not realizing that they told you to do them in order to keep you from doing the other things. Drink, because you shouldn’t, so that you can’t read. Smoke, because it will make you lazy and you’ll have fewer aspirations. Do drugs, but don’t, and take yourself off the path only to overcome the drugs and be right back where you started when you were nine years old, before you realized such things existed, and they want you to do them so you can be yet another person taken out of the running.

    It’s very easy to become a conspiracy theorist if you think for more than ten minutes about any given thing. It’s very easy to become a conspiracy theorist if you stop listening to what you’re supposed to and you concentrate on logic.

    They felt the need to lick the pavement, to feel each little grain of detached dirt stick to their tongues and feel rough like sandpaper getting detached. They wanted to touch fire and smother it, to spit on paintings in museums, and most of all to kill babies, because they would never be producers and they resented that, though they didn’t realize exactly what they resented. They just knew that a hatred boiled inside them, and a desire for destruction was their propeller in the sky that was the ground that was every single hill they encountered. They couldn’t stop but went nowhere. They had money, though the disconnect with where the money came from was real and terrifying; sometimes they woke up at night and found themselves with nothing but a few coins, drowning in signed receipts, drowning in the ink from a monogrammed fountain pen that always seemed to tip delivery boys from Thai restaurants an excessively high amount, but there was a disconnect between the holder of the pen and the people who slept in the beds, and they never could rationalize the two sides.

    They needed to see the world without seeing the world so they bought tickets and booked hotels and thought themselves frugal for getting discounts online. They checked in when they were checking in but were hungover from specialty cocktails and never considered the metaness of it all. Checking in: Checking in. They ate the platonic idea of food and never got full or fat. They checked that street meat was gluten-free in a different language by downloading a trial version of Rosetta Stone without realizing that the trial version was only for the format and the layout and had nothing to do with the content. They never understood why they got chicken feet in multiple countries. They never understood why no one thought their jokes about the Taj Mahal looking like the perkiest breasts in town didn’t translate. 

    They wore funny outfits that they never would have worn at home and only ate McDonalds when they had sunglasses on. They never dry rubbed brisket, except in the most necessary and crucial moments. They cried when they shouldn’t and wanted to prick people with pins to scare them into thinking they had gotten HIV. They wanted HIV to make a comeback so they could live on the edge and feel happy to be free of it. They were positive that it would have a negative impact on society and they had been raised to do good so they wanted to rebel without swimming naked and mudsliding at a party and they really wanted to vomit in public and give low tips. 

    They never realized that they were invisible to themselves, and that the only people who could see them were the others. They never knew the terror of the delivery guy from the Thai restaurant when a pen appeared in midair and started signing a high tip. Not literally, of course, but figuratively, the shock of the minimum wage employee upon being let into a high floor apartment and peering in and seeing mess, clothes everywhere, the stench of liquor and dripping condoms like a Hansel and Gretel trail to the inner circles of hell. But they didn’t believe in an external hell, of course, because the terrestrial one’s high level of horror was enough to make anyone evil. Semen was rubbed on the brisket, which is why we can’t technically say “dry rubbed,” because everyone knows dry semen is nothing but a stain on a bed sheet and thus converted into something else. We can’t be called child molesters unless the child speaks up; otherwise we are joy bringers. Harbingers of doom. Doomsday criers and motherless warriors, heeding no one and bleeding through the nose. We are they, and they have no idea who they are. We have no idea who we are, so we all have become one nothing, and we all have decided to eat everything in sight, to fuck everyone in reach, to steal whatever we can’t buy and to buy whatever we feel guilty stealing.

    We have steel hearts and hearty appetites, and we thought that maybe there would be a way to eat our own hearts; we saw on the Food Network that the heart, when left in a basket with Black Tuscan Kale, lingonberry sauce, and mesh wire, can be cooked to perfection when placed on a thirty minute timer in front of judges. They venerate celebrity chefs. They commodify poverty. They think the poor should be kept poor because then the rich would have nowhere to go on an exciting vacation. They have decided that A plus B should equal C, and they decided that only because it was too difficult after all this time to change it, but the worst part was that they knew they could have changed everyone’s mind if they wanted to. They were too hungover, and there were too many television marathons playing that afternoon.

    They want to TiVo life. 

    And then they decided that they meant nothing, and that they would all start believing in religion because they had one night and the moon was doing this thing that makes people write floral poems, and they thought that God would be the answer. So they drank less and worked more and decided to meet husbands and wives and they died earlier than expected. They shat out their steel hearts and little coals plopped into the toilets, and the funny thing was that inside the shits were diamonds that they could have sold to make all the poor people of the world richer than they were, not from guilt trips and guilt tips but with cold hard cash, but they didn’t want to touch the feces even though they were nothing but the remnants of their own cold hearts, and so the pipes of the cities of the world are now filled with shit-covered diamonds, and the rats are bling-ed out and no one will ever know the difference. 

    They didn’t want to touch the grossness of their own bodies. They didn’t want people to see them at McDonalds eating corn on the cob that they’d bought on the street and were begging for free ketchups because they had nothing. Their spiritual god had failed them, but they had become disillusioned and were waiting to die for their pay. They wanted comeuppance. They wanted redemption. They were waiting for an absolution. They were never waiting for the bus but they would wait for a taxi. They were waiting for the other shoe to drop. They had strollers bigger than buildings. They had egos bigger than trees. They had fear of everything and venom on their eyes clouding our vision into their minds. They had minds altered by lack of experience but overstimulation, and they had clothes made out of receipt papers that cut them as they walked, and they left trails of blood. They were arrested for manslaughter of the self and were never released on their own recognizance because no matter how hard they tried, they could never quite get a handle on who they were. 

    They never died. As far as we know, they are still waiting for freedom. 
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