Wednesday, September 5, 2012

City on a Hill (Jeff and Keely take a journey)

            -I think I'm coming down, Jeff sits up in the chair, brushes himself off and stares at the floor for a second.
            -Yeah. You wanna go downtown?
         They take time to remember how to put on extra layers, the temperature has been dropping outside recently and tonight is a full breath of autumn. Stepping outside Jeff looks at Keely, shivers and pulls out a cigarette. He offers one to Keely, she declines, has always declined every time he's asked. Either he has never learned to withhold from her or this offering has become a force of habit. Jeff stands just shy of six feet, a ring of forgettable brown hair sits above his pale face. He's got an army surplus parka on, German flag pasted on the shoulder for authenticity. She starts walking, passing him as he dallies to light up. He rushes ahead to catch up, they step into the back alley (always a shade darker than the rest of the world it seems, even on nights like this where the lack of light seems to transcend itself into a fifth dimension as ineluctable as space or time) shapes darting from car to bush, from fence to hedge.
      They are walking side by side, silently. He considers whether the silence makes his feel awkward, she is a holy enigma to him and he leaves her silence in reverence.
       -What are your parents like?
       -Uh. Haha, I donno...
She asks again
      -Well my mom is pretty cool. She works in Olympia, in the capitol doing something, like a secretary or something...
     -How old is she?
     -Uh let's see, she just turned 39 a few months ago I guess.
     -Wait, your mom was 19 when she had you?
     -Yeah. He laughs nervously -She was pretty young...
There is an increase in traffic, the lights around them rise in strength and warmth, they are nearing downtown.
     -What's your dad like?
     -Uh actually, he sort of ditched my mom pretty early on like when  I was a bay maybe? or before I was born, so I don't know him.
     -Yeah that was the same for me. He looks over at her, probably for the first time tonight. She is easily 7 inches shorter than him, her jacket envelops her, makes her seem even smaller, yet she seems to him to be, somehow very much in control. So composed. The holder of some sort of knowledge, elegance, or form that is fundamentally apart from him. -Yeah I mean my mom was a little older than yours when she had me but I never knew my dad either.
    -Yeah I guess my mom has his name and address and stuff and she said she would give it to me if I ever wanted it. They walk on in silence for some time. The activity downtown increases steadily until about 1 am when, inevitably, a handful of cop cars descend on a drunken fight or...
        No it's always a drunken fight which seems to clear out the majority of those wandering around, only a few of the most drunk stragglers waiting around, swinging on light poles, stumbling through crosswalks, yelling at bouncers, for something. They so far gone that the earlier diversion of gathering the attention of the meek and female has somehow lost its appeal.
    -Whatever I'm never having kids.
    -Really? Keely's tone has shifted, she seems surprised, concerned even. -Do you not think you would be a good dad or...They wait at a crosswalk, cars ambling past them toward mysterious goals and unknown destinations. Jeff does not speak until the light turns as if waiting for it to allow their conversation to continue.
    -I donno its like, the last conformity right? The last capitulation, the last loss of freedom. But I guess even now there is no rebellion. You have these 'cool dads' going snowboarding or whatever, fuckin' grups hanging around at our shows, talking about how they played with Mudhoney one time and now they come by our place and slam a six pack before slinking home to get yelled at by their wives. He seems mad, or confused, or sad or angry. All the same really, for him, never taught to emote properly, never schooled in the nuance of feelings that one is capable of generating. The opposite set of emotions holding horny, drunk, hungry, excited and novel. The majority of his emotions falling into one of these two categories, and if asked he would name them "un-chill" and "chill" respectively.
    -Jeff it's not all about rebellion, it about making yourself happy, its about becoming fulfilled. Her eyes follow the pavement ahead of her, thinking or conditioned by a few years out here (mostly alone those times) to keep meek, to avert her gaze.
   -Okay I believe you, but it's more than that. It's that I don't want to follow in the footsteps of those before me. I abhor tradition simply out of curiosity. Like...I want to experiment, I want to see other ways of living. That was what was great about all the subcultures, I think. Not the art, not the drugs...
     -Yeah bro! Drugs! This catches him for a second but as he looks up he notices the voice came from a meathead easily twice Jeff's size and anyways he is so caught up in his monologue that a witty quip is simply out of the question. Jeff doesn't realize it but he is getting worked up, his voice rising in volume and pitch.
     -But they set out to see if there were better ways to live their lives. Most of them failed, I mean that's why old hippies suck so much, or like these burned out punks are so shitty. But there has to be...His hands start waving wildly in his frustration to find a word. The movement causes him to expel little gasps of air which create awkward noises.
     -Another way? His hands drop, How did she know, like she can read my mind almost or is a part of me...
     -Yeah. I guess. But it sounds so corny you know...
       The city reels on around them oblivious to their miniscule desires. Movement and stasis, consumption and rejection tug at each other and intertwine forming the conversations remembered or forgotten the next day that shoot and whisper through the air around them. There is no morality here, neither good nor evil, simply a machine running through its paces, the cogs turning unaware of themselves, of the whole. Forces drag and burst unevenly following the grid of the streets, concentrating at nodes and dissipating to nothing at the edges.

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