A Brave New World
A man in an overcoat was chasing a naked man to the sea. They stepped on sharp sea-shells, blood would seep from the naked man’s feet. The naked man’s clothes were behind him, a trail to follow. There was a high-wind, there seemed to be a hurricane on the horizon. The overcoat flapped into the wind, its long collar would flap against the man’s determined face. Particles of sand would be blown away, its eolian effect seemed like an elegant dance. The naked had a crazed smile into his face, but there was no fear. He stood upright as he headed to the water. The water would be cold, the naked would freeze to death. There was high-tide, waves kept crashing in on each other, a soapy puddle on the shore. They were the only two people on the beach.
”You know this what they always wanted,” screamed the naked man through the howling wind, his head turning back as he walked forward ”this was their mission all along. It was all about me, it was never about me. You were were just weak enough to do their bidding.”
The man in the overcoat said nothing. He just walked forward, like a sheepherder moving his sheep towards the edge of the cliff.
”You’ll never get away with this. Once you do this there’s nowhere you can hide. I matter in this world! People will look for me! It’s not that they miss me, it’s that they depend on me!”
The naked man saw the water coming closer, a streak of fear touched his heart. ”I was your friend you know. I only wanted the best for you. Nobody understood why I bothered for you! But I did! For some fucking reason I cared!”
He stopped then, just an inch from the water. He took a deep breath.
”Move,” said the man in the overcoat.
”It’s cold out there Harry, please don’t make me do this.”
The man in the overcoat pointed his revolver to the back of his head. The naked man, Stone, turned around. They looked into each other, Stone tried to see doubt in his eyes but he could see it; this man, this old friend, was about to kill him.
A day before, they were in Dale’s apartment. It was a small yet modest apartment, it was filled with photographs and posters of the wall of all the greatest musicians of history. It showed Dale’s sophisticated and diverse taste. A poster of Frank Zappa’s Tinseltown Rebellion album cover, a enlarged photograph of Frank Sinatra taken by Anton Corbijn, a poster of Dr. Dre’s classic album The Chronic, B.B. King, they stemmed from the time when music meant something, when albums were appreciated. When people laid down to listen to the whole album, in sequence of each song, appreciate the flow of each song, sometimes a story or a message would be found there. His music ranged beyond the American plains, there were foreign albums covers Harry had never heard about. He had never been inside Dale’s apartment and he was certainly impressed.
”I’m glad to see you man. Tell you the truth I missed you, this Reilly dude is a fucking nutjob,” said Dale sitting on a chair infront of Harry and Stone who were sitting on his couch.
”I missed you too Dale,” said Harry.
Stone was a little annoyed by the camaraderie. He sensed there was something wrong with Harry, he was silent most of the way. He felt belittled somehow. He knew Harry always considered himself morally superior but now it was something different, almost as if he considered himself a higher human being.
”I love your place. You surround yourself with icons. True believers.”
”My mom used to debate Sean Reilly. She always said he was a creep. Can’t say I was surprised after the scandal broke out.”
”Shit man, he’s a moody motherfucker. Heard his meltdown on the internet?”
”We will do it live! Fuck it!” yelled Dale animating Reilly, which annoyed Stone deeply. Dale and Harry were laughing.
Stone took a big gulp and started to talk: ”You are old-school, aren’t you,” said Stone.
”I listen the modern day music too. I just like the culture of when this music came out. It was much more special then. There’s so much now. So many movies, so much music. We got hardly time to appreciate it all.”
Dale’s hair was shorter, there were a few wrinkles but apart from that, he looked the same.
”I would still like to hear some of your music though.”
”You can probably find it Online,” said a sighing Dale as he licked the joint shut. This surprised Harvey as he remembered that he always wanted the music to remain with him.
”Really?” said Stone, a bit too theatrically, ”I thought you were all about the authenticity of your art?”
The TV was on, it was mute. TAXI DRIVER was playing. Travis just shot the pimp played by Harvey Keitel.
”I am but someone hacked my laptop, stole some of my music,” he lit the joint, took a deep puff.
Harvey looked at Stone, enraged.
”Yeah, it nearly destroyed me man. I mean, most of my music I got tucked away safely but some of the stuff was good man. My babies. I didn’t think people would steal it. Nobody’s ever heard of me.”
”Well I’m sorry dude, that’s really a shame. Did you see any reactions of your music?”
”Yeah, people were raving.”
”Well that’s good. That must have felt good.”
”I don’t care. It was mine. It was my music…”
A silence, Dale passed the joint to Stone, ”you know nothing about that do you?”
”Off course not!” said Stone, smiling, ”I resent the accusation.”
”I remember you were so adamant about hearing my music.”
”You can’t blame a guy for being curious.”
Dale said nothing, he still didn’t trust him.
”You know Dale is dating Tara,” said Stone turning to Harry, ”you remember her? She was the hooker that was with me a few times last year? Apparently she quit her job and is now seeking an honest living. Would you believe that?”
Dale turned away, becoming angry for Stone’s words about his lover, ”You made her an honest woman! You should be proud of that Dale!”
”That’s enough Stone,” said Harry, ”leave her out of it.”
”What? I’m happy for him,” said Stone taking a deep puff, looking into Dale’s eyes, ”though it’s a shame though. She was really good at her job.”
Dale got up from the chair, walked up to him angrily, as if he was about to pounce him. Stone laughed at his effort.
”Oh what? Am I supposed to be threatened.”
”You can leave now Stone, I don’t want you here.”
”You are the one that started it. I come here in good faith. I bring you drugs and alcohol, even a friend you thought was dead. And this is how you thank me?”
”Please get out of here Stone.”
”Nah, I don’t feel like it.”
Dale stood there, he didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t a fighter. He knew there was a force inside Stone that he could not beat. It was not his strength, or his ability to fight, it was something else. It was the lack of mercy, his deadly seriousness. The casualty of bloodletting. The will to win no matter what.
Harry got up, ”let’s go Stone.”
”You know I could make a call and make you disappear. Your girlfriend could call to the police and they wouldn’t do a thing. You know why? They would get word from their captain by me, that they shouldn’t bother and they wouldn’t. Cos I’m the man. I’m the man that has ruled this country since its inception. And you don’t fuck with the man!”
Harry lifted up Stone from his collar, looked at him with ferociousness that surprised Stone, ”l said let’s go!”
Stone smiled, nodded, ”fine, fuck this little hipster pad.”
Stone moved to the front door, yelled back, ”say Dale, if your girlfriend can’t find a job, she can always come and ask me for money. I have things for her to do.”
He opened the door and left. Dale took a deep breath, he almost felt like crying.
”What are you doing with him Harry? You return from the fucking dead with him?”
”Don’t worry about him. I’ll make sure he won’t bother you again.”
”Where did you go Harry? What’s up with you? There’s something up with you. You aren’t the same.”
”I’m better Dale, I swear, I haven’t been this happy for a long time.”
Dale looked at him skeptically, ”it’s a crazy world out there, people can get lost. People can find them in places and never come back. Even when they think they’ve escaped, there still really there.”
”Dale, one day I’ll tell you what I’ve seen, one day you will see the world as I saw it. One day I will take you with me.”
”Take me with you? Where?”
”I can’t tell you yet but you will see. We will make you see.”
Harry suddenly hugged Dale then. He hugged him for nearly a minute. Dale didn’t know what to do. The hug was an intimate one, almost like a goodbye.
”I followed the music Dale, just as you said. And it was beautiful, it was so beautiful…”
They were on their way to Stone’s rented beach house. Stone was driving, smoking a joint as he did. Harry was looking out the window, it was nearing the night. He could see a storm coming.
”Would you believe that guy?” Laughed Stone, ”unbelievable. The arrogance of some people really astounds me.”
”Did you steal his music?” asked Harry.
Stone said nothing for a while but handed him the joint, Harry took it but didn’t smoke it, he just looked at him and asked again: ”did you?”
”That little fucker was so arrogant about it, I just had to know if it was any good. And you know what? It wasn’t. It fucking sucked.”
”You shouldn’t have done that Stone. It wasn’t for you to listen or to judge.”
”Oh please. He put it on his computer. His own fault. If it’s on your computer it belongs to everyone. If he wanted it to remain private, he should have made an effort.”
”Doesn’t matter Stone and you know it.”
”You gonna smoke that joint?”
”You can have it.”
Stone angrily grabbed the joint, ”what’s up with you anyway? I don’t like this new version of you. You’re too quiet. You were always in your head but now you’ve been spacing out all day. You didn’t smoke and had barely anything to drink so somethings up.”
”Oh yeah, you’re fine. Sure. Well I hope you appreciate what I’ve been doing for you. I’m trying to show you a good time and you’re acting like a fucking zombie.”
”Thank you Stone.”
”That’s more like it. Wait till you see this house I rented. It’s too cold and windy to swim now but it’s a sight, it’s such a beautiful sight.”
”I bet it is,” said Harry fondling his revolver in his overcoat.
They finally got there. He parked next to a delicate little wooden beach house. The sky was turning gray, the night was coming. Stone got out of the car, ran towards the beach, stopped, lifted up his hands and yelped as he look towards the beach, the high-waves crashing and turning.
”Isn’t this beautiful Harry? Surely this is something you and I can share. Doesn’t that make you feel peaceful listening to that? Doesn’t the waves center everything in your head? I could listen to this forever. We might be able to swim but I’ve got a jacuzzi and…” He saw Harry pointing the revolver then. He laughed at first, ”what the fuck is this Harry? You getting a sense of humor?”
”Walk to the sea and get undressed while you do so.”
”What to sea and get undressed while you do so.”
”Oh go fuck yourself Harry, stop playing…”
Harry pointed the gun to the sky and pulled a trigger. The gunshot echoed and shook both Harry and Stone. The sound, its loudness, changed everything. Harry had to pause before he pointed the revolver to Stone again and said: ”this is really happening Stone. Do as I tell you…”
”I’m not getting undressed…”
”I want to see the emperor without clothes. I want to see wolf without sheep’s clothing. The demon without a disguise…”
”Harry come on…”
He shot another warning to the sky, the sound made Stone shiver.
”Come on,” said Harry, a smile coming to his face now, ”let’s take a walk together. This is something we can both enjoy…”
A man in an overcoat was chasing a naked man to the sea….
”I don’t want to die. I’ll be honest, I don’t want to die. I thought about death, I accepted that it could come sooner or later but no, not like this. Not here. People like me aren’t supposed to die like this. We are supposed to die old, in our sleep. We never get punished.”
”There has to be some accountability. There has to be some justice.”
”For what? The boy?”
”For the boy, for all the boys and girls in the world. You all get away with it. Everyone of you. We fuck up and we pay for life. You guys fuck up and everyone suffers and you get another clean break. It’s not fair. There has to be some consequences…”
”We make things happen. We make the engine run because you guys have no idea what to do with this world. So we take a little extra for ourselves. We deserve it! We aren’t like you guys who can only bitch and moan about how things are not good enough! We actually make a difference! The only way you can make a difference is by killing me! That’s why they go crazy out there, because they can’t make a difference, they can’t change the world. So they go around shooting people, hoping to kill the right person. And it doesn’t solve anything. It’s just another senseless tragedy. Life moves on…
The adrenaline stopped Stone from freezing, but he felt panic going through him, he refused to show it, ”you people just want to be coddled, want everything for free. You want the roads fixed, you want free health-care, an affordable car. None of you has the vision, none of you has what it takes to make this country great! We even give you a vote and look what you do with it? You still complain even when you get what you want! This country is the way it is because of you guys! Not us! You outnumber us!”
Harry said nothing, just stared him down, panic became overpowering, ”You kill me, you end your life too. You’ll be in Mexico somewhere and someone will hit you over the head and you will die alone. If you have a girlfriend there, they will kill her too. Cos this world is shit. It’s all shit. It’s like my daddy always said: it never changes, the people will always be shit. It’s always supposed to go like this. It’s destiny! A period of relative sanity until we go fucking ape-shit again. We’ve passed the Rubicon now. The end is nigh. Maybe a few centuries more and that’s it. We won’t live to see it, but we can see the machines taking over. We can see it! You can see it too, can’t you Harry?”
Harry’s hand was trembling, there was a fear he couldn’t do it. He had to remind himself:
”I’ve had this dream, that they will one day take me there. They were angels. They were with me all the way. I was never alone. They would stay with me. I just had to go all the way. I just have to be prepared to do what is necessary.”
”It’s just a dream Harry, it’s not real. They were just using you. They were just fucking with your head…”
”It has to be real Stone, if it isn’t real then there is no point…”
”Harry we can find a solution together. I know I’m a piece of shit. I know I’m an evil motherfucker but if you give me a chance than we can make a difference. We can make it a better world! Old America and new America. We could combine the two. We could make a world full of dreamers again!”
”I’m sorry Stone.” Harry stepped forward and Stone stepped back, he felt the water now, it was so cold, he yelped.
”Fuck it’s so cold Harry please, please…” he ran to the side away from the water, ”please don’t make me go into the water, please…”
”I just want the bugs to go away. I want to cure us. You are the disease, you’ve been festering into our consciousness for millions of years now. I don’t want to do this but I have to. In order to make a change, we have to be prepared to do what’s necessary, to lose something of ourselves…”
”This is fucking murder Harry! You can’t do this please!”
”…You thought that by killing the boy, Alan, that you took away my innocence. But no that blood is on you. This blood will be on me, but it will be necessary. You’ve helped them for far too long. The world is changing. The revolution is coming. And this is your guillotine, the blade is coming down…”
”I’m your friend Harry! I’m your friend! We’ve known each other for years! Please, I don’t want to die. There are things I want to make right! I just need another chance please…” Stone was on his knees now, begging. Harry pointed the gun to his temple, his hand trembling again.
”You can’t help the way you are. You are a parasite, you are programmed to act this way. In a way I know you think you are doing the right thing. I know that…” Tears were streaming down his eyes, ”I just want to go to that place. I want to go back to mom. She is proud of me you know? She is waiting for me.”
”She’ll be proud of you if you put the gun down Harry!” He then turned his head, seeking any soul to save him, ”help! Please for the love of God help!!”
”My dreams will come true. I will be a hero. They will reward me, I will fall in love again. I can be an angel too, guiding the next person…”
”She’s proud of me. She forgives me. She told me that, this is what I need to do…” His hand steady now, Stone saw the glare in his eyes. Stone got up and ran, tripped and ran in desperation, crying as he did so. Harry closed his eyes when he aimed and pulled the trigger, Stone’s right shoulder exploded in gore, he cried in pain, tripped but kept running. Harry ran after him. The waves kept on crashing in on each other, the wind kept howling.
Harry shot again, he hit the back of Stone’s leg. Stone felt to the sand, the cold water crashing in on him. He crawled towards his waves, crying for his mother as he did so. The coldness reminded him of death approaching. The end, the nothingness that was upon him. He cried that he was sorry for everything.
Harry looked up at the gray sky for a moment, clothing his eyes, taking a deep breath, smelling he air. Time seemed to stop for a moment.
The waves pushed Stone back to the shore but he crawled right back into the waves, as if it could save him. Harry opened his eyes. When Stone was pushed back again, he turned around, looking at him, a last plea for mercy.
Harry looked back, they said nothing for a while.
”It’s true,” said Harry, ”the waves, they center everything in your head. It’s transcendent. I could listen to this forever.”
Stone smiled bittersweetly, ”I know, I wanted to share this with you.”
”Thank you,” said Harry pointing the revolver at him. Stone didn’t move. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath. He smelled the air.
A hole exploded behind the back of Stone’s head. He was dead instantly. Harry looked at his dead body for a while, the waves pushed him to closed to the shore, as if rejecting him. Harry sat down, looked at him, his lifeless eyes. It was always the most disturbing part, the eyes that said nothing anymore. The eyes locked into the void. Harry reached out and closed his eyes.
”I’m sorry,” Harry said, wiping his tears. He threw the gun into the sea and sat down next to the corpse of an old friend, a sacrifice to the Gods.
He sat there, looking to the coast. It was night, close to midnight. He was ready, waiting for them. There was the fear that Stone was right: maybe it was all in his head, maybe there was no such place, maybe there are no angels. He couldn’t think like that, you have to believe, keep the faith. He started the revolution, the new world was coming for him.
There was a light far ahead, a boat perhaps. It was coming his way. Harry smiled, he couldn’t wait.
The light flickered, disappeared for a while and then came back. The waves kept crashing in on each other, the wind kept howling. One could listen to this forever.
Art by Winslow Homer