"Good afternoon Ricky. It's a swelter!" he declared to the little boy waiting patiently at the side of his ice-cream van. Ricky stepped back as he raised the struts on the canopy. He seemed a moral citizen. Uniformed, clean shaven, grey haired. The children didn't know his name - he was only ever called The Ice-Cream Man.
"Yep, lotsa kinds want ice-cream today," he enthused, as he climbed behind the counter and looked out over the sun-drenched park. Ricky nodded, his money already held out eagerly in front of him. "Chocolate... double scoop!" said Ricky. And his wish was granted; with a product so cold a mist of condensation twirled around his fingers.
The Ice-Cream man was an adherent to the magic of yesteryear. Waffle cones were sparsely sighted. He preferred the old style cones with one, two or three receptacles. He took pride in his fairly standard flavours - no modern fashionable gimmicks such as salted caramel or candy crushed into the cream. These were home made ice-creams. He didn't much believe in preservatives or additives. Not for ice-cream. When it stays so cold and sells so quick.
Misery is like a pool of water floating all around you. You wallow in it, you splash it all over everyone close by. It drains away slowly through the cracks in your mind, leaving pools all over the place. You can't climb out of it, and struggling is futile.
Why does everything feel so useless? So ultimately pointless? Nothing lasts forever, sure, and yet things that last a long time are revered by most cultures. Mountains, pyramids, the sun or stars themselves. Yet, even those wont be there forever. They are no more permanent than us, they just have a slower transition to impermanence. And if, not even mountains exist forever, stars blow apart and our very own sun heads towards obliteration, then what does it matter what we do? Not many people will care or find much evidence of my life by the time the sun destroys the earth. Hardly anyone particularly cares what I do now at this present time. So why then should I? Why should I meter out my desires by the wants of other people or by my own internal morality pressed upon me when I was a child?
If there is no invisible, omniscient and omnipotent God, whom maintains ownership of me and this planet, which I'm plainly convinced there isn't, then why should I not do what I want, exist how I want? When I am nothing but an echo in dust, another faceless nameless ancestor of anonymity, I won’t care. I wont rage on what humanity has become nor gnash my teeth against my own regrets. I will be nothing but an echo, long forgotten, non-existent. A ripple of cause and effect in time. How long till humans destroy themselves, inevitable, and then? Nothing. Life is pointless. We strive to get somewhere that ultimately is no where. And for what? Respect of peers? And at what expense? Our happiness and enjoyment of what little time we have. All to make money. Working nine hour days, clocking in at 8AM and out at 5PM, stressing about business which isn’t even ours. Getting abused for other peoples failures, losing our due credit to other people who do not deserve it. Paying 43% tax on our hard earned income and paying another 10% on all the goods and services we purchase. Why work or worry about what you earn when you lose 50% anyway? Every which way you turn somebody is fucking you over.
Being rich, being poor. That doesn't matter. We strive our guts out to make this money, so we can buy better TV’s, so we can afford couscous instead of cold beans. It’s all just a distraction. Work hard, your quality of life improves, your family loves you more, you can afford better holidays, and then perhaps you’ll be truly happy. Unlikely. True happiness is a myth. All there is these days is varying degrees of comfort. You sit around basking in the glow of your high definition television and DVD player, ears beating to the surround sound entertainment package, mouths filled with exotic sweet tasting foods. You feel comfortable sitting next to your wife, near your children. You call it love. You call it happiness. It’s comfort. Lulled into a distracted contentment where thinking about the bigger picture, or life’s scary questions, is pushed right out of your brain.
We’re programmed to get to twenty, or at best twenty-five. After that, each year is luck. As cells replicate and we deteriorate, that’s it, there’s no turning back time. There’s no pause button while we get things done. Does it matter? Living fast, dying young or meting out your existence slowly, dying at 90 in a nursing home, either way ends the same. It matters to you? You’ll be remembered for living fast and dying young? Maybe, but do you think you’ll care when you’re dead. Nothing matters after that. You might live the most impressive life ever, die thinking you’ll be remembered, but for how long? At best a few hundred years. Or you might be like Jesus and likely be remembered until the extinction of the human race. It won’t bring you back. It won’t give you eternal life. You’ll still be nothing. Maybe your organs will live on in someone else, or atoms of your matter be ingested by something else. This does not mean living on when everything that makes you you, your memories, your way of thinking, your personality, will be gone forever.
So as the universe expands until exhaustion, collapses in on itself once more only to be reborn in yet another big bang. Will everything occur the same way again? Will we be born a second time, and do everything the exact same way. Is that what “fate” is, because we've done it a trillion times before and are destined to repeat it forever. Perhaps. In which case I was meant to do everything bad I've ever done in my life and I certainly shouldn't feel bad about it. Especially considering the fact I've done it before and I’ll do it again. One must wonder how it all started in the first place and why it keeps continuing. If there are trillions of planets and stars in the universe, the question isn't how, but why. A question which will never be answered by man. No matter what, we won’t, as a species, survive long enough to see out any important machinations of the cosmos. So in that case, why care? Why bother worrying about something that you will never know. It all comes back to everything being useless. So ultimately pointless.
Why be happy, why be sad, just be, until you die. That’s the best you can do.
At this point in your life, middle age, everyone's wondering the same thing:
How to stay young forever, how to achieve immortality.
Is it through these screaming angst-ridden larvae which spawned from a forced and loveless marriage? Is it by jotting down every thought... freezing yourself... killing as many people as you can... making yourself rich and powerful... curing cancer...?
Of course you'll realize most of these are fruitless.
Jotting down every thought takes too long, won't help anything, and you've started forgetting memories by now anyway. The pictures in your mind are fading to yellow, fraying round the edges, making you question events. And no one reads anything these days anyway.
Freezing yourself - in the vain hope that someday someone will unfreeze you. That the company you choose to house your corpse won't go bankrupt, lose power, or go on fire. That you will be chosen to be awoken and all of your memories will somehow be intact.
The only option is killing as many people as you can. Sure you have to deprive others their own chance of immortality in the process. But its worth it, right? You have to be selfish to want to live forever anyway, and the only reason they didn't go this route themselves is because they don't have the guts. Forget the fact you've just caused pain to hundreds of people. You've just changed the shape of the future in a real and tangible way. Think of all the children that won't be born thanks primarily to your hands. All the future generations. Now that's an impact far more potent than having one or two children is.
When she died, I knew my life was empty. There was nothing to hide the void any longer. No distractions to keep me from looking down.
They always say in movies to look up, 'don't look down'. Don't look down or you'll fall.
What happens when there's no one to look up at any more?
You let go and descend into the blackness.
The well of despair swallows you and the light at the top gets smaller and smaller as you fall down. Until it's just a pin prick. Until perhaps it's gone all together and you're just convincing yourself it's still there.
Everyone says you've hit rock bottom.
But there's no bottom. No rocks to be smashed against. You just keep falling into blackness. Overwhelmed by fear and despair, you can grasp at nothing. That's when you know your life was empty, that it was pointless and pathetic - or at least, so you think, so you feel and so you treat it.
Perhaps everyone's life is just as pathetic. Just as empty. Just as unfulfilled. But simply more enjoyable due to money, possessions or due to simplicity, ignorance or both.
But it doesn't seem that way at all. With jealousy and spite you will abhor them. Castigate them. Slander them. As if it will make you feel any better.
I've fallen for so long, the light is so small, I can no longer tell whether I'm falling toward it or away from it. Like a single star, it twinkles in the distance, forever unreachable and seemingly so fragile. It's like a candle dancing in a draft. Until it snuffs out.
Darling, I'm pleased you had a good time. And honey, I'm happy you're content with your life. But that doesn't change the fact you're still going to fucking die. And what sickens me most is that you're the kind of cunt who's probably never willingly stepped inside a church in your life. Yet when you're gone, you'll still fucking expect them to find a place for you to rest your bones whilst you lie and rot. Personally, I'd just dump you on a fucking bonfire and be done with it.
He was a real fourth album of a man: the first parts seemed okay, some may have even said mildly attractive, but the mid-section was mostly filler and unattractive padding, and the bottom was certainly not worth mentioning in the slightest. Overall, it was probably slightly above average, but still somehow disappointing in a way you couldn't quite put your finger on. Perhaps the fun was finally gone, the desperate need to be heard, to justify his own existence as a relevant voice. Instead it was now all about being comfortable; doing the day to day things because he was supposed to, not because he wanted to, and certainly not because he liked or enjoyed doing them. He'd run out of things to say, the angst had all but ebbed away, and all that was left pathetically paled in comparison to what came before. He was a silhouette of former glories, a real fourth album of a man.
Sometimes I just wish my dishwasher would fucking break, flood the kitchen and upon its waves I'll make my escape. No more working overtime unpaid. No more working myself into an early grave. And for what? A garden I don't have time to admire. Children I don't have the energy to inspire and a wife in whom I can't seem to ignite any passion or fire.
I was thinking of getting away. Driving south for several hours. Starving myself. Consuming my own misery. Taking in the sights. Seeing what once was, and never could be. Letting nostalgia ruin the skerrick of a soul still stirring inside me. Letting it all out: my blood and tears. Into a puddle of piss pouring out of my broken dreams.
How can you write about anything when you've never done anything? How can you tell a story when you haven't lived one? When you've just sat around feeling depressed day in, day out, because your life is miserable and fucked. When your average day is to wake up, work, go to bed, and do it all again the next day. When your weekends are recovering at home from the pain of being abused and put-down and made to feel generally shitty for five days per week. Two days to let the wounds scab over, before they're picked apart slowly again from 8:30 to 5. Where's the story there? You're nothing.
Just because you're miserable doesn't mean you have anything to offer the world.
I am alone, now I know it's true
There was a time when we were two
Those were the days before I'd ever even heard of Penny Pax
The two of us writing little stories of this and that
We'd go on MSN and select our victims
But now I'm one, I'm more depressed than Robin Williams
My inbox is empty, there's never any notification sound
Sometimes I'm lost and trawl The Daily Mail
To look for links that I can send to you
To bring back the days when we were two
When darkness falls and Annie's Mauser Pistol is drawn
That's when I feel most nostalgic and forlorn
But I must be honest and tell the truth
You had a dream that left me wondering if you're a poof
And the last six lines of Bob Lowe's poem aren't very good
So I'm not going to paraphrase them-
I tried to read the words on her foot. I tried to work out the shade of blue on her nails. I tried to imagine us together. It wasn’t hard. I’d never argued with her, I was oblivious to all her annoying habits, I’d never seen her at her worst. I could have approached her. But why ruin a good thing? You can have your 45 dull years of marriage. I'll take 45 seconds or whatever I can get. With her. Even just to watch, Not ever to touch. No one could understand her like me. My tennis princess.
They sit warily in tired hotel suites. With unmade beds and clothes dropped perfectly upon the floor. The city lights are on, peering through the window at them, but no one looks back. The city seethes and stretches on beyond this microcosm of time. Where innocence is lost. Where their inner child runs and hides. My job was not to be their life coach, nor to be their mum or dad. I was here to make them a star.
After twenty years they didn't even shake my hand. Didn't even buy me a bottle of wine. They looked annoyed when I told them I was leaving, not saddened, shocked or concerned. These people to whom I'd traded twenty years of my life, for what now seemed a pittance. At the time it seemed the good years would go on forever. It seemed an okay deal. But now, only aged and in ill health can you see how terrible a choice it was. How little they care about the robot downstairs turning the cogs that brings them their fancy cars and slick suits. They trick you, they make it seem like you're their friend. Their peer. Their protégé. Yet you're nothing to them. You're an inconvenience that turns their meat grinder; either you do it efficiently and are tolerated, or you do it inefficiently and become expunged.
So the lunch barbeque wound down, the fifteen dollars worth of sausages had long since been consumed. I stood there alone looking out upon the world. Wondering what the rest of my life would hold. Wondering how long I'd live. I still had two days left to work, but I already felt like I was an outsider. Unwelcome in what for so long had been my home. How could I possibly make up for lost time now? I could barely drive any more.
Was it too hard for them to say 'thank-you'? Was it too much for them to buy a card?
I was out there again, on the front lawn, struggling not to finish. The neighbours were watching on in horror and dragging their kids inside. Yelling "CALL THE POLICE" and "YOU FUCKING SICKO" and everything in between. I ignored the words, pretended it was the grunting chants of my fans in the stadium. They cheered me on as I revved up - I was the driver. The speed demon. The star of the show. We were no longer person and machine. We were one. Her metal and wires, her gears and pistons, they became an extension of my own body. I could feel her power become my power. I could feel her upholstery as if it was my own skin. Every stitch. Every vibration. I dry-humped the shit out of that car. And as I came, I started shouting back at all my fans, for they were all clamouring for a speech from their star.
"If Will Oldham can fuck a mountain, why can't I fuck a car? If everyone else has someone, don't I deserve to hold someone in my arms?
Life sometimes gets lonely, y'now? I don't want to head down the rest of this road alone. I've already travelled too far down it on my own."
I work hard all week at pretending I'm as busy as my friends. And then when the week ends. He's my reward. A bitter-sweet reminder of the fact I'm a complete and utter fraud. To him? I think I'm just a reminder of the fact he's lost and bored. The greatest ability of men, and it's one only a few possess, is to not make you feel like a whore when actually you're absolutely nothing more.
So here's my door. You don't need a key. I'll be lying waiting on the floor. And if someone walks in before you, I won't fight them off, I'll just tell them I'm yours.