Like every noted social-commentator, Harry would receive hundreds of e-mails everyday from loyal listeners, some praising him for preaching reality in such a distorted world, others demonising, even threatening him for poisoning the minds of others.
In the beginning, Harry would spend days replying to them but in the past few years, Harry would only peruse them and in the occasion he would find a thoughtful e-mail, he would reply in the best way he could.
In some cases, it was Harry’s fans that bothered him the most. Many of them misconstruing his words. His criticisms about Islam would be perceived as endorsements for the current president, who had the tendency to placidly endorse white-supremacists, or at the very least, would not go all the way to condemning them. His critique on the government has often been seen as endorsing anarchy or a Randian style government, much like it is now, where the elites are playing the free-market to become unimaginably powerful. Harry’s mission was to bring some much needed nuance in society, to show the people that both sides, all sides, had their miscreants and misguided viewpoints. Instead, being harsh on side, on an issue that seemed so obvious, would be perceived as being for the other side and the side that’s being critiqued would see him as a traitor. It never seemed to the end. You had to choose a side or else you didn’t belong anywhere.
Harry perused his e-mails (he had two e-mails, one private and one public, but somehow, most of his e-mails managed to get into his private e-mail). These were some of the things he read (more than often times they included monstrous spelling errors):
You are the last patriot of America
Lying snowflake piece of shit!
You bring much needed sanity into an absurd America…
I know you are working for the deep state….
It’s hard to be a sane American and you give me much needed solace…
I totally agree with you that we need to get rid of Muslim scum!
I’ve heard you are single…
The president is just trying to save our souls, I’m glad you see this…
Harry was perusing them while gulping from a flash containing some potent liqueur, he wasn’t sure what, but it came from Stone, so it was probably something exotic and something that would, hopefully, get him drunk very fast.
Eventually he came across a cryptic e-mail from an Mr. Anonymous. There was no subject title. It just had this sentence: YOU’VE SLEPT LONG ENOUGH.
Harry didn’t know what to make of it and frankly he didn’t care. He replied to the e-mail:
He got up from his chair, turned around in his living-room, where Stone lying back in Harry’s smoking a joint, was having a lengthy conversation with Dale who was sitting on a chair across from it.
”…I don’t need people to hear my music man,” said Dale, ”I just want to play it. When people listen to it, they will want a piece of it. It will change and I like it the way it is. Art is always focused on what other people think of it. But what about the artist himself man? Why doesn’t the artist matter most?”
”Because art like anything else in this world, is nothing more than a commercial commodity,” said Stone handing Dale the joint, ”it is distinguished by the fact that it doesn’t serve any practical purpose, nobody really needs music or letters or images. But we create them because they give meaning to our lives, or better yet, it makes us feel special. That’s all that art is. Art is a business that gives people mental hand-jobs.”
”Yeah I don’t believe that man. The music saved my life. If I didn’t create music I don’t think I would be able to stand myself.”
”You just proved my point there Dale. You create music because it makes you feel better. Cos it makes you feel more special. You know what also could make you feel more special? Having lots and lots of money.”
”Don’t listen to him Dale,” said Harry, sitting next to Stone on the couch, ”this man is the devil himself.”
”I’m not the devil, I’m just a symbol of human nature,” grinned Stone, ”So why don’t you let other people hear your music? Why don’t you me hear your music? I know some people Dale. I know the right people. If they see potential in your music, they can make you very rich. You won’t be as rich as the musicians were in the good old days, the Internet stole that away, but there are ways to tap into the market correctly.”
”You never ever heard my music, what makes you think you will like it?”
”It’s the feeling I have with you. I think you are special. I think you are the real deal. So many people think they can make music or art, but most of them don’t. You’ve given a great deal to the music, I can see that. That’s why your music will be something special. I can feel it.”
Dale smiled, thought for a while and handed him the joint, ”thanks for your confidence in me. But I prefer to keep my music to myself.”
Stone nodded and took a big drag and handed it to Harry, ”I can respect that. You don’t want to sell-out, even though I don’t really believe there’s such a thing. Maybe it’s better that way. You don’t wanna know how many losers become famous and then regret it afterwards. Perhaps the integrity of the music is best served for your ears only.”
Harry took a big drag, laid back on his couch and closed his eyes. There was a vision of Sheryl, his ex-wife. Her face against naked chest, her mouth agape in an orgasm. There was a smile on Harry’s face. Then came the vision of her hiding in the corner as he was destroying the living room, punching holes in the wall, demanding her to love him.
”You going to pass that joint frendo?” The voice of Stone bursts through his vision. Harry opened his eyes. ”I’m sorry,” and passed the joint to Stone.
That night, the three of them were each lying on a separate garden chair, looking into the starry night. Dale had already fallen asleep, with headphones attached to his hear in which his own music crescendoed him into a peaceful slumber. Harry was on the verge of falling asleep when Stone suddenly asked about his mother:
”You ever miss your mother Harry?”
The memory of his mother, caressing his forehead.
”I don’t want to talk about my mother.”
Stone ignored him, ”She was a stone-cold bad-ass. All my peers feared facing her. She was an idealist like you, but she was tough. She would not back down for nobody. She was a force of fucking nature. If more like her were around…”
The memory of a young twenty-eight year visiting his mother’s place, calling out his mother’s name. Hearing sounds upstairs….
”…the world would be a better place. People like me wouldn’t win so much…”
Harry entering his mother’s living-room, seeing his mother siting naked on her bed, shivering. Her skin red as if it was scraping it clean. She looked at Harry, her eyes moist with tears. ”I’m sorry, it’s happening again…” she said.
The memory made Harry get up from his chair, turning around, heading back into his house. ”We have to face our memories Harry!” Called Stone after him, ”We can’t reject them when they visit us! We have to be honest about their nature or they will always come back!”
The memories of Harry’s mother came flooding into his mind:
I’m sorry mom, I don’t know how I can help you. I’m sorry, I just don’t know how I can help you…
Before Harry went to bed, he checked his e-mail again. From Mr. Anonymous: I’M SORRY, IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN.
Artwork by Massimo Carnivale