The ocean floor is home to every sunken ship. Think about it. I bet at least twenty percent of all ships end up sinking outside of battle. There is always some minor flaw whether it be an err in calculations, a strategically placed loose nut and bolt, or an iceberg in the dark. The best of all, though, is the concrete ship made during the war. It sank no more than a hundred yards off the coast of cape may. If this does not prove the level of human intelligence being on par with most four legged creatures, then I don’t know what does.
On the other hand, a majority of ships do survive. My my calculations, about eighty percent (outside of wartime, of course). I can take my chances with eighty percent. Per-cent, “of the hundred”. The one-hundred is unattainable. It should not be expected of anyone, and rightfully so. On the contrary, it is normally assumed. The syntax is key.
“Mario, are you still paying attention,” Ryan asked feverishly.
I was real good at spacing out. My friends say it was because of my three years of constant m usage. Actually, I prefer to create my own scenery and surroundings. There is not much worth paying attention to “here.”
“Sorry,” I said. “I’m listening. Go on, Chico.”
“Like I was saying, remember the first time we hung out?” Ryan asked in his omni-present, blue dripped nostalgic tone. “Heh, those were the days of care-free-consequentless high school. Nothing could top it. I’ll never forget that New Year’s day. The four of us walking down porter street with a couple cases of Zima. Ugghh, Zima. You’ll drink anything when you’re fifteen. Remember, the cops didn’t even bust us or nothin’. Fuck that shit. We were always real lucky.”
Ryan continued to ramble nonsensically for a good fifteen minutes or so. He talked about the whole night from us getting mugged at the Mummer’s parade to Ronnie passing out in my washing machine when we came back. The truth is that we never really paid much attention to him. We started hanging out with Ryan because he used to get picked on by the neighborhood kids. We were all about the simpatico so we told him he could tag along with us. As ignorance saw fit, we only ended up adding to the achievements of his prior circle. (Note to the reader: Lemonade and urine are indistinguishable to the vagrant’s mind.)
“You know you’re real comfortable with someone when you can be silent around them,” chimed in Ronnie once he heard the washing machine story.
“Always shooting to kill, aren’t you?” I interrupted. “Besides, I don’t think that’s exactly the way Uma said it.”
Ronnie was a Tarantino-loving film freak who had the ambition of a dead tree. His theory was that if he saw enough movies, he wouldn’t have any trouble writing one.
“Whatever, you know I’m right. Have you ever even seen the movie, jackass.”
“You don’t have to see the movie to know you never get a line right. Speaking of jackasses…”
“Guys, guys, calm it down now,” Ryan interjected as he pushed us back into our seats. “Let’s just reminisce about the good times and be happy.”
“Fuck good and happy,” said James. “Emotions stem merely from ignorance. We are all swimming up through this thick cloud trying to reach the surface but there is no end to the cloud. You just don’t get it, do you, Ryan?”
James did have a point there. He always made points like that. I have noticed that the answers to everything are always right in front of my face but I never see them at first. My eyes are always in focus, but they ignore the peripherals.
“Someone once told me that it takes thirty muscles to frown but only twelve to flip a person off,” I said with a proud smile on my face. A polite round of laughs proved, once again, that I was still the unaccomplished comedian of the group.
The cloud does keep getting either thicker or thinner at intervals, tricking us into feeling super-lax in attaining our goals. So, we slowly glide upwards into a thinner atmosphere, limiting the oxygen to our brains. James always swerved me into tangents like this. He was very philosophical. He was also the first person we knew to drop out of high school. It’s amazing how sheltered a young life is, even in the heart of Philadelphia.
“Mario, Mario,” I heard.
“James,” I screamed back in a fit of terror as everything went black.
I surveyed my room, holding my heart from escaping my chest cavity, as Thad hollered again.
“Jesus Christ, what does it take to wake you up? Don’t let Marion hear you scream ‘James!’ in your dreams.”
He blew kisses at me in jest.
“Anyway, she’s on the phone.”
So, I got my bearings together and answered the phone.
“Hello,” I murmured in a confused intonation.
“What’s wrong with you? you sound like you’re so out of it that your eyes are not even working in unison.”
I really loved the girl but I never really understood some of the things she was talking about.
“Umm, yeah. I just woke up. What? no, I’ll talk. I’m up already. Sure. Hanging out sounds good to me. The usual it is, then.
You too, honey. I’ll see you in a little while. Bye, bye.”
The usual consisted of an intense movie and what ever we could scrounge up from the local tea vendors. Tonight’s cinematic pleasure is called Pi. It’s a movie about a mathematician who discovers the formula for seeing God. Apparently, it also is the code to save the stock market and the whole time he is getting crazier; as super-intense as insane as films get.
After a while, I woke up and took a shower. Marion came over at nine:thirty, as she does on the daily. Joe and Thad found some tea a couple hours ago and we had been sampling for a while before she arrived. Needless to say, there was a smile on my face as she walked through the door. Thad was baking rigatonis in the kitchen as the movie started. He loved cooking as much as the rest of us. I moved over into his seat and asked Marion if she ever read the gilded age. A simple ploy to drawl her into sitting next to me. I promised myself that I would not have a girlfriend until I graduated. Since I dropped out of school a month ago, I could find an excuse for her soon enough.
She was unusually beautiful this evening. I journeyed far into her jade green seas. It didn’t take much to make me fall for her and I have already accumulated more than my fair share of bruises. My time with her was cathartic. Still, there was nothing ventured; well, you know the expression.
Providence will see me through, condoning and condoling the bitter half life of chard glass streets; and it all comes back to these blue hued florals, broken in by sedated lackeys bereft of life. Given into radar. Twenty frames in a familiar sequence telling me just how it is. I am my own desolation angel, Jack. I, the agent of my demise. Still mesmerized by the in between, I clearly breath the ferrous taste exposing my sanguine sated palpitations. I feed you to the diaries distinguished by my ugly visage. Beautiful, beauty: never interchangeable. Two separate components which blur the lines of reality. Chasing intervals to grasp the concept until I turn my dormant head to rest. Buried in the flowers, I am occupied by inverted fields of vision, realizing you are both.
“Nothing ven-ven-ventured,” I stutter. My mind is beginning to hurt in the struggle between overactivity and burning out.
“Excuse me,” asks Marion with a confused look on her face.
“Umm, nothing ventured,” I said. “This guy in the movie, he retired. I was just wondering what would have happened. Aww, never mind; too much time baking in the oven.”
I was caught in mid sequence. I could not work my way completely out, so I went upstairs to write in my diary for a little while. By the time I went back downstairs the movie was over. I never got a chance to find out what happened to the guy in the movie.
“Did you ever feel like you were just a minor character in someone else’s story,” asked Joe.
Thad agreed reluctantly but I couldn’t subscribe to their beliefs. I don’t know how to feel. Sometimes I feel like Truman. The whole world is built around me and I am not supposed to know it. Other times I feel very existential, just waiting for something to happen and not realizing that nothing exists outside of my mind.
The guys tell me I’m egotistical. Marion just thinks that I get paranoid under these circumstances. So, we all decide to go back into the oven and bake for a while. Getting closer to Marion works for me.
The couches provide support for our shaking hands now. Dawn is on deck, radiating its smile before rearing its ugly head on us. Our pupils focus in a team effort.
“The night is not always young,” Joe says as he and Thad stumble up to their respective bedrooms.
I wonder what gives him the right to age time. Time gives us age but will never itself expire; at least not until I pass on. Time has its way with us every night, pushing the clouds around from thick to thin and back to thick again. We can never see this. It’s always right in front of our faces.
I’m always waiting for the right time. Time never changes, though, in its endless cycle; only we change. No, wait, we make ourselves change. I am a dreamer in control of my own destiny. I can make it all a reality. Fuck time, I am destiny.
“Marion,” I say “we have become best of friends over the past year. I feel very comfortable around you – well, in most situations. I really respect you and have grown considerably towards you recently. Anyway, I was just cu-cu-cur-i-ous if you felt the s-s-same way.”
I turned my head towards the huddled ball of perfection adjacent the most fortunate blanket ever woven. No response; merely the humble expansion of her timid lungs. At first, I heard the lines “Lorraine, you are my density” cascade through my thoughts as if I were fighting time too. I wished this was another one of my oneiric tangents. It wasn’t. So, I covered her silent pulsating body. There was no reason to overreact. I thanked god for the first time in years. I never could have asked for such perfection in someone so close to me. She turned over and clutched my arm against her body. The overwhelming smile on my face proved there is nothing more real than this.