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Messages - Eater of Clowns

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1
We were just another young couple touring the country, a half bottle of aguardiente in hand and a shared room at the hostel in Zipaquira. The stroll in the night was experience a fine Colombian evening, to drink and be under the stars just outside the light polution of the big city. Lara's amble was practiced and easy and mine was natural because, well, because here this night with this beautiful woman I really was enjoying myself. Until the edge of town, at least.

Our carefully careless route led us to the a barred road, iron gate locked shut beneath a terra cotta arch. The road snaked its way up a dark mountain, to ticket booths and parking lots and little souvenier shops. The sign at the top of the arch read Catedral de Sal de Zipaquira.

The Cathedral of Salt.

“You're quiet,” Lara said.

“Sorry. Dread has that effect.”

She could make a living off of that smirk. Actually, she did. “I mean you move quietly. That's good.”

“Why is that good?”

Lara nodded up at the mountain. “We're going in.”

“What, now?!”

She didn't respond, but ducked under the gate and hurried off to the side of the road, out of the ring of the streetlights. I took a drink of the aguardiente and strolled as casually as I could over to her. There was no way I could recreate her stealth, so I might as well not look so obviously sneaky.

We stayed crouched to the side of the path on our way up. Nobody was around to even hide from, it seemed.

“What are we doing here?” I asked.

“Didn't you say you wanted to visit the other day in Bogota?”

“I also said I'd like to see the Museo de Oro. We aren't breaking into that.”

“That's next.”

My family was back in Bogota. They'd left me with Lara at the bar and gone off to a little craft plaza and a fruiteria. Two hours had passed since they hopped into Marisia's Nissan. By my estimation, Lara and I had been traveling for three days. The Necronomicoin in my pocket was starting to wear on me. It has a way of doing that if you don't spend it. At first I thought the veil of the world was slipping away but that night in Zipaquira I started thinking it was me slipping away from it. I had to get rid of these coins. I should have let Lara steal them and in their absence earn myself oblivion.

“What are we going to find here?”

“A reflecting pool.”
“None of those on the surface?”

We climbed a steep set of stairs up. At the top of them were the closed concessions and barred museum entrance. A huge metal statue of a miner stood above us with his pickaxe buried deep in the earth. Down a short ramp was an ampitheater and beyond that, the entrance to the Catedral. A guard waited there.

“How are we going to get past him?”

“He won't even know we're here.”

Purposefully, Lara walked into the light and the center of the wide open ampitheater. She neared the guard and he made no indication of seeing her. I sighed and hurried to catch up.

“We aren't here for what they're guarding. And what we are here for, the guards are much worse.”

We hopped over a set of locked turnstiles and stood before a tunnel. It was black and it descended and it led to a reflecting pool two hundred meters below a mountain, in an old mine converted to a cathedral. The Cathedral of Salt.

2
Thank you. I'm not confident with scope, so please forgive the insecurity.

3
Request for honest feedback:  should I continue with my Colombia/Necronomicoin storyline, or is it losing steam?

4
My father and stepmother disappeared. Lara and I took the table over. I would take a taxi back to the apartment if I needed to. Colombia was green in the lush valleys and the glittering emeralds and in Lara’s gaze. We sipped beer slowly and we talked about her home city of Cali and about what brought us both to Bogota. We joked and she threw back her head to laugh and I forgot about the last six awful months and the overwhelming week and all about Necronomicoin.

I forgot about Necronomicoin. I reached into my pocket and touched the one in my pocket. The hair on the back of my neck stood up.

I finished my pint and excused myself, ducking off for the bathroom.

She’d ordered me another glass while I was gone.

“You like the Roja, right,” she smiled perfectly.

“Si, mi gusto. Delicioso, gracias,” I said reflexively.

She held that smile, looking at me. She glanced at the glass.

“We both know I won’t be drinking this, Lara,” I said.

“Why not?” she asked, her innocence flawless.

“A charming, gorgeous girl like you? A guy like me? You aren’t just flirting with me to practice your English.”

“Like I said, I thought you looked like an interesting person,” she faltered.

“You’re the sort of girl that a guy takes back to the hotel and finds himself waking up the next day in a bathtub full of ice. No memory of the night and a neat little fresh scar on his abdomen. You aren’t after kidneys, of course.”

She shifted in her seat. “I think maybe I should go,” she said.

I reached into my pocket again and pulled out the Necronomicoin. I laid it flat on the table and slid it with my forefinger across the flat surface, pushing it to the center. Lara’s eyes stayed on it, transfixed.

“You know what this is,” I said.

She nodded.

“You know exactly how much this particular one is worth,” I said.

She nodded again.

“I need your help, Lara.”

Befriend The Thief.

5
Days later we were at the Bogota Beer Company. My pre-travel self would have scoffed at visiting the most Americanized cervezaria in Colombia. My pre-travel self was not battered by long roads and bad bacteria and a sense of boiling unreality stressing the veneer of the world.

I sat at a little table on the patio by the public square, sharing it with my father and step-mother. I was quiet with the learned surety that my words were meaningless. It would take most of the pitcher we were splitting before I realized that my companions could actually understand me. Absently I flicked a Necronomicoin around my fingertips, playing at it in the light that wouldn’t touch it.

“They’re English speakers at the next table,” I said. “They’re from Minnesota, Florida, and Georgia, respectively. The girl from Minnesota is self-conscious about displaying a Midwestern accent, but it’s the one from Tallahassee that has the most pronounced accent. They’re going to ask me to take their photo in a few minutes when their last friend arrives. I usually have a +1 policy where if I take a photo of them, they have to take one with me. I can’t tell if this comes off as fun or douche but I think it’s a great time,” I pause. No feedback from either of them.

I take a long pull from the pint of Roja. Then a longer one. “The Georgian guy lives in the shadow of his older brother, an officer with the Air Force. He tried to follow the family military tradition but he’s no warrior. He doesn’t know what he is, or that’s what he says. What he does know is that he’s a happy office worker, the oblivious uncomplicated kind that everyone else resents and tries to rope into their misery sessions but can’t pin down. So he’s friendly with them but he leaves the office behind when he’s out of work and comes on adventurous little getaways with distant friends to South America or Southeast Asia, places his co-workers wouldn’t go near without the magic words All Inclusive Resort before them.”

I continued staring off into the street and the square beyond and drinking. Between the little glass partitions and the tiny sculpted hedges a young woman walks by on the street. She’s wearing a blue hat with a wide brim that just barely conceals her face and loose golden rings of hair tumble out beneath it, bouncing in the sun. We make eye contact and there’s a hint of playful smile before she went on her way.
My mouth was hanging open, so I filled it with more beer.

“Anyway the pilot that’s going to come in when they all leave, the Seahawks fan? He’s an in control kind of guy, happy with his career, happy with his family and the special certification he earned to fly into Bogota. He thinks he’s got marriage all figured out with these 36 hour trips around the globe but that’s going to blow up in his face real soon. It’s too bad, he’s an alright guy, but it’s too much on his wife. Being married to a pilot was sexy when it first started but now it’s really wearing on her. It doesn’t help that he’s a handsome man and she’s a little concerned about her looks fading. Poor thing.” Silence.

I poured myself another glass. My father didn’t look like he’s drinking it and my stepmother won’t touch the stuff. Couldn’t let it go warm.

The girl in the blue hat was back. She floated up the two steps onto the patio and breezed past our table. I’m greedy for that hint of smile again but this time there’s no eye contact as she says hello to our waitress in Spanish, kissing one another on the cheek, and walks into the bar.

“Cheers,” I said, half to myself, and attacked my glass again. I went to refill it with the pitcher. “Dad, need a top off?” Again, no answer.

My father has been frozen still for a half hour. So has my step mother and the table of young Americans next to us. One man across the patio alone with his book appears to be at my own speed, smoking leisurely away and absorbed in his reading. A trio of businessmen at another table are moving in double time.

I excused myself just in case everything readjusted again while I was in the bathroom, rubber band time taught once more before another deliberate pluck sent it awry. The girl in the blue hat was leaned over the bar talking to the bartender. She remained there while I walked back out again.

The pilot was in the spot of the group of four Americans but he was just as stuck as they were, Seahawks hat and pink shirt unmoving. Just as I sat, the girl exited the patio and stood by the stairs. She unfolded a newspaper and began looking across the pages.

“We need to go home. Home to Massachusetts. The air is thinner here but so is everything. I need a thicker reality.”

“Huh?” came the reply. Everything was moving normally again.

“Nevermind. Want to order another pitcher?”

“J.”

“Yeah?”

“J,” he gestured behind me.

The girl in the blue hat was standing at the next table and looking over. She looked at me and asked me something. It was in Spanish. Of course I wouldn’t be able to speak to this beautiful woman.

“No hablo espanol,” I said. That line I had practiced.

“That’s okay. I speak English,” she smiled.

I stood up, “I’m J,” and I held out my hand.

“Lara,” she said, resting her own lightly in mine. “I was trying to get your attention. You seem like an interesting person. Would you like to talk?”

“Of course. Let’s speak outside.”

6
Free screaming - when you discover free bleeding and no longer find it necessary to hold back.

7
I think spanking is neither horrible or neccesary.
Having taken the middle ground i now expect to be attacked by both sides.

Everyone hates a fence sitter.

As an activity though it probably leaves more of a mark than spanking.

8
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Re: A new currency.
« on: April 21, 2014, 06:41:51 pm »
In the conference room down the hall there's a daily meeting of people none of us recognize. They're dressed in suits cut to precision and shuffle their way around the long table drawn and hungry. The meetings go for an hour before they leave again, ambling lazily around the rest of us, buttons of their shirts undone to allow them to drape around swollen bellies. Their eyes are glazed over and sometimes a sheen of drool or grease glistens but nobody ever brings any food into it and when they leave the room it's spotless.

9
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Re: A new currency.
« on: April 21, 2014, 06:35:09 pm »
Sometimes new faces appear along the vast rows of us and we moths flutter to their light and the next day the light is gone and we settle to our cold dark spots on the line, things that could fly and know beauty but with natures too panicked and habitual to do more than sit and wait for the next brief perfect flame, the addiction so complete that rarely a thought is paid to how those spaces are emptied in order to be filled.

10
You are, of course, right about that crowd being fodder for the persecution fetishists, Roger, but luckily they've ghettoized themselves to such an obscure corner of the Internet they might as well be having their clandestine meetings deep in the jungle. I resent the special snowflake attitude for it being a variation on rugged individualism - separating onesself from the point of reference for its own sake and thus weakening the strength of any significant effort at real change.

And then I look at them and I love them, in an odd way. Here we had a generation told you can be whatever you want to be and they grew up jaded and cynical for the lie, so we told the next ones you can be whoever you want to be and they said, "Okay, I'm butanoisexual. I am only turned on by the rancid butter smell of male ginkgo biloba berries," and the response is a resounding, "BUUUUUHHHHH..."

These people couldn't be invented by even the most warped of minds. They had to grow together naturally, and in an awful and hilarious way.

11
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Re: A new currency.
« on: April 21, 2014, 06:15:39 pm »
The radio station piped in just above audibility through the intercom repeats the same songs at the same times every day. It takes a week for us to notice the exactitude and another before we start memorizing them. But even when we can just barely make out the words above the office hum we can't quite get the songs down right. They are familiar, they are the same songs, but if we try to mutter along with the words or tap out the rhythm it changes, just a little. And I'm not sure, I'm not sure but I think the same word in every one of them, spaced throughout the day at even intervals. Bliss...bliss...bliss...bliss

12
Yesterday, at his brother's funeral, my friend came up to me and said "So A---'s mom just came up to me and asked, is that J-- H----? I think he friended me by accident on facebook, but I love reading his posts. Should I ask him for his autograph?"

 :lulz:

13
Literate Chaotic / Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« on: April 17, 2014, 10:59:50 pm »
Oil! by Upton Sinclair

Just as with The Jungle, he starts with a smooth flow technical horror and emotional investment. I love the clear way he describes horrible things, and you can see him smirking.

But then he wanders off into Socialist La La land by the end.

It isn't the subject matter, it is the way he presents it. It's just so...cheap. I don't think its age is excuse enough for the hamfisted wayhe shoves his best loved political ideas into his stories like so much spam.

His endings SUCK A CAN OF MEAT.

Have you seen There Will Be Blood? It was based on Oil! and I've been curious since I first saw it how close an adaptation it is. I really enjoyed the movie.

14
Today I found out that my proposal was accepted and I'm presenting my poster on the 7th, and also that I am being interviewed for a Ford Foundation scholarship. 89 interviewees, 50 awards. So nerves, many anxiety.

YOU GOT THIS
 :lulz:

15
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Re: A new currency.
« on: April 17, 2014, 09:42:57 pm »
I was greedy and you are in danger because I was greedy. If only I knew what I was greedy for but everything is fragmented, my memory and thoughts a thousand little coins in the pocket.

The rapid tour of the country went on. I gave up my attempt at even minor communication in Spanish. The coin for butterfly rolled away from me, the coin for lightning spent. Words were more a part of me than I ever realized.

We were in a swanky little establishment called 1492. It’s at the T in Bogota, a night life spot where the elite of the city walk around in clothes worth more than my car. It was Friday. The beautiful people would be out all night. I would not. I wanted to shove away the agua con gas and the guava barbecue chicken wings and the grilled meat skewer stuffed plantain and run, and keep running, this drawn figure shoving through the immaculately tailored suits and stunning dresses and the perfect caramel skin beneath them, past the mall with its shops so exclusive I did’t even recognize them. I wondered if they accepted Necronomicoin.

But I couldn’t abandon my hosts, my family, not now. I was in no condition to fight whatever was coming. I had no idea what was coming. But I knew something was, and that was more than they did. If I could warn them, maybe my stupid mistake wouldn’t get them, what? Killed? Devoured? Torn within and out by small bleating horrors?

Whatever I got out of that shop, it hadn’t done anything to assuage my writhing intestines. I was making my way to the bano through a sea of blazers and little black dresses. I wasn’t even safe on the toilet.

Sleep was the worst, since the shop. However I wound up in Bogota, it wasn’t a dream. This was the first place since we got here that I had a private room. We were ten floors up, not far from the top of the building, with a view of the city stretching out from our perch on the North side. The US Embassy was a few blocks away and I thought about going, that maybe this dissociation with reality would abate once I was on home soil. Past that, the mountains. The cursed mountains.

Before Medellin, before the shop, before the self puppetry – yes, that was how I came to Bogota. I was already there. Before that, there were the mountains. I’d been drinking glass after glass of aguardiente when our host in Cali invited me to his morning bike ride. Four in the morning, up a mountain. He was coaching me, keeping me going the whole way, but I kept finding myself veering off to the side of the road. The side of the road was a sheer drop with a flimsy barrier that I would certainly sail over. I focused on the pedaling and the water, on talking to Arturo and I still inched closer to that precipice. Something was off with the mountains before anything even went truly wrong.

Rather than sleep I’d been staring out the big window and seeing the stars for what they were. Enormous things burning away and they were painted on the belly of a vast, sleeping beast, all of it an illusion of depth so perfect that humanity couldn’t see the difference. I would keep trying to bend my eye to see the trick of dimension but we aren’t built to understand it; we are too small. Still I tried rather than sleep.

With this and with whatever illness I’d contracted here I stumbled past the glittering tables in 1492. A few people couldn’t help but stare and I couldn’t blame them. Here I was with the gall to ruin their dinner.

I sat down on the tiny bowl and buried my face in my hands. I drew them slowly down, pulling my features across my fingertips and stretching my eyelids and looking up across from me for the first time. There was writing scrawled in huge letters on the wall, such big messy words.

Befriend The Thief

Pity The Ledgerman

Beware The Debt Collector

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