I am here, I am here, I am here….
Harry walked the same streets where just last week, five people died in a senseless and violent protest. There were a few flowers against the building of city hall, attached to it there was a picture of a loved one. The loved one was a beautiful young girl. The picture had been for the high-school yearbook. There were words ascribed atop her picture: She had nothing to do with it…
It was another one that died for other people’s battles. She had been there just to see spectacle. When the Droogs came and everything went to hell, the police started to have their fun. They never want to kill anybody, but they don’t feel guilty if they do. It’s part of the job: you get in their way, they have the right to use lethal force.The instigators, the one that organize such protests usually escape. They are still around, recruiting new people. There is probably a new one planned soon. In the post-modern world, people want something to die for, even if it doesn’t make much sense.
But apart from the flowers and the picture, everything looked like it always did. You would have to look for a sign that a tragedy occurred here. The world has already moved on. The dead don’t matter anymore. It’s strange how that goes. The older the human race gets, the quicker they get over mass-tragedies. But this is America, mass-tragedies are a common thing now. There’s probably another shooter on its way to slaughter the next generation. We are used to this now, it’s old news. We believe this is the price we pay for freedom. Our children have to die so we can have this freedom. It’s not the way we want it to be, but how America works.
Harry looked around, to the people passing him, his fellow Americans. He looked at people, straight into their eyes, he didn’t care if someone would get mad. He wanted to communicate, he wanted to let people know that he was looking for a friend. A few people glanced back. An old lady looked back with a worrying glance. A young man asked him ”what the fuck do you want faggot?” A little girl looked up with a curiosity, her mother telling her to stop staring. Mostly, people just didn’t focus however. People wearing digital glasses, living the dream in cyberpace. People in suits were talking about important things on their phone. The young ones had hot topics to discuss. There was shopping to do. There were worries ruminating in their head. They had no time for a lonely, desperate, middle-aged man. This is how the world works now, we can crawl into our little worlds and we don’t need to worry about the rest. This is why the violence isn’t bothering so much anymore. We had to escape the cave in order to make the modern world and in the modern world, we can crawl back into the cave. Perhaps that was the point of everything: finding a way, to recede back into the cave.
In retrospect, we shouldn’t have even left in the first place.
Harry continued to wander in the city, his head down now, since communication felt impossible. He didn’t know where he was supposed to go. Any destination seemed pointless. There came an idea in his head that perhaps he should never come home. Use whatever savings he had left and just leave this world, off the grid. He would disappear from this world and in time, they would think he’s dead. He’d still be around, but nobody would know it.
The voice of a street-preacher, for the church of Vonnegut:
”Tiger gotta hunt and birds gotta fly! Man got to sit and wonder ‘why, why, why?”’ He was holding a copy of Cat’s Cradle in his hands, ”tiger got sleep, bird got to land! Man got to tell himself he understand!” A large flag in the background, it was the drawing made by Kurt Vonnegut of The Star Spangled Banner, from his novel ‘Breakfast of Champions or Goodbye Blue Monday’- the exact same drawing was also used to portray an asshole.
Harry walked passed him. The preacher had the suit of an old college professor, a checkered jacket with wild slightly gray hair and a seven-day beard. There was a sad craziness in his eye.
”There’s only one rule that I know off… God dammit it…” The preacher then looked into Harry’s eye, there was remembrance there, ”you’ve got to be kind!”
Then he pointed at Harry, ”you there sir! I was waiting for you!”
Harry almost kept walking until he heard: ”you’re Harry right?”
Harry stopped walking, turned to him again, ”we’ve met before?”
The preacher walked towards him, looked around as if he’s worried about being watched. “’Do you smoke pall-mall by any chance?”
”No, just plain Marlboro’s.”
”That’s good enough.”
Harry grabbed his pack of cigs and gave the preacher a cigarette and himself too. The preacher lit them for both of them.
”Thanks. I’m so glad I still live in a state where you can smoke legally. You’ve know they’ve got a prison population in Utah now full of smokers?”
”How do you know my name preacher?”
”I’ve read your file.”
”Where did you read my file?”
”Oh come on Harry, you know how it goes. Once someone’s marked, they spread his file around, give anyone in the club some task if they ever come across them. This is the actually the first time I’ve encountered someone.”
”You work for Oblivion?”
”Well we don’t call ourselves that. That’s the name you and the government gave us. But we are bigger than that. We all have our little sects you could say.”
”What do you want from me?”
”I can’t tell you that yet. We can’t tell you unless you are ready.”
”How about you guys just leave me the fuck alone!?”
”What and go back to your life before? That’s not what you really want.”
”Yes I do.”
”No you don’t. You think we are just trolling you, making your life miserable. But it’s not like that. We are one of the good guys. Mr. Anonymous sees something in you Harry. He thinks you have potential. He’s actually a loyal listener of your show.’
”Who is he? How does he look like?”
”I don’t know, nobody’s ever seen him. He’s like a ghost. He could be anywhere. Europe, China, every fucking where. For all we know, he’s not even from this world.”
”There’s only one world.”
”So where do we go when we dream?”
”I’m tired, I’m really tired. I don’t need this bullshit.”
”We know you are unhappy Harry. So was I until he found me. He saved all of us. But in order to become this better version of yourself, you need to get through this. And you will. But you need to have courage.”
”But it’s not my choice. Not his choice! Mine!”
”He knows that if you continue you on your regular path it’s not going to end well.”
”What so he cares about me?”
”Many people need desperately hear this message: I feel and think as you do, care about many of the things you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people don’t care about them. You are not alone.”
”He cares for every creature on this planet.
”Just tell me what the fuck you guys want from me.”
”I’m sorry Harry, but you need to find that out for yourself. All I can tell you is that you need to watch for Stone. Stone may seem like a friend but he’s not the friend you should have. He’s the one keeping you stuck into this world. If you get rid of him, you are one step closer.”
”You know that thanks to Stone’s help I can find out who you are and where you live.”
”If you don’t find the answers soon, I might ask him for help.”
”You could do that but it won’t do you much good. Nobody can get to him and he’s not going to stop. You think Stone is a powerful guy? Stone lives in a world where nobody believes in anything. He lives in a post-modern shithole. We live in a world full of believers. There’s nothing more frightening than a true believer.”
”And what if you what you believe in, is completely and utter bullshit?”
The preacher sighed, smiled, took a deep drag and said: ”so it goes.”
Harry looked him over, he had nothing left to say. A part of him wanted to thrash him, but there was little energy left inside him.
”I’ll be watching you preacher,” Harry said, ”I promise you that when I have nowhere else to go, I’ll be looking for you.”
”Auf wiedershen,” said the preacher, looking undaunted.
Harry turned around and walked away. He could hear the preacher continuing to scream his verses: ”We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be!”
Art by Kurt Vonnegut