Anton M Miller
It was nearly Saturday and for once I had no idea what was happening. People had been coming and going continuously for the past week, but somehow there seemed to be no real point in what had been happening. Even more oddly, no-one had stayed for Saturday. Did they know something I didn't?
Five of the clock on Friday afternoon, I decided to find out. Fifteen confused minutes later, I was tripping down the stairs, black coat flapping and a three foot long cardboard parcel over my shoulder. I have no idea where the parcel came from, and I felt much better not knowing.
I managed to squeeze the parcel into the passenger seat of my car, having to leave it protruding through the window conspicuously, but at this point I was not quite lucid. I started the engine and was thrown back into my seat by the volume of the music blaring from my speakers. I was shocked that someone could stand music that loud and turned it down for the moment. The song playing was an upbeat big band bluesy piece, so I reached into the back seat of my car and pulled out a black banded Fedora.
It fit me well and I left in search of answers.
Somewhere on this search, I knew I would run into someone that I would detest instantly and decided to get it over with as early as possible. My worn brakes squealed as I slowed to a halt in the shopping centre car park. Jumping out with the parcel under my arm, I locked the doors and bounded away. As I walked towards the entrance someone grasped at my sleeve, but I didn't turn to see who it was, just brushed their hand away and mumbled something about time being of the essence. If this was one of my best friends, I didn't want them to be the one I hated - I needed to force this upon someone else first.
I had to choose carefully and ahead of me was the bus stop. 'Bus stop?' you may ask, but then you may not have encountered the wanna-be-a-black-homeboy-think-I'm-a-drug-lord-look-at-the-body-kit-on-my-car-that-my-mum-paid-for-cos-I'm-a-whiny-little-kid-without-a-hope-in-life-unless-I-lean-on-someone-else-but-not-my-friends-cos-they're-as-bad-as-me type culture that often hangs around places like supermarkets, service stations and bus stops. No matter that school had finished over two hours ago and they probably hadn't even gone in an effort to be seen as 'hard'. I was already working up a good angry before I got there.
Suddenly I was in their midst, feeling the prickle of squinted eyes scrutinizing me, my strange manner and mode of dress. I stopped suddenly and spun to face the nearest one, hiding the inevitable cringe from this stereotype of pop culture by crouching slightly and pointing with one hand, "The Wiggles" style.
"Got a joint?" I asked, making smoking motions somewhere to the side of my head. He shook his head and smirked dirtily. I shook my head back and smiled at him like he was stupid. "No, no, no - I asked if you had a joint!"
This time he looked a little confused and pulled some face that may have been meant to intimidate me, I'm not sure. I shook my head again and reached into my coat, pulling out a silver cigar tube. I unscrewed the cap and tipped out a white torpedo that only just fit into the thick metal tube. The teenybop-rapper's eyes bulged as he saw the joint I had spent the last week crafting.
"I need something to warm up for this" I returned the huge joint to it's tube and secreted the tube back into the folds of my coat.
"I don't like you." I told the kid and poked him in the forehead. Realizing I was telling the truth, he pushed me in the chest and squeaked,
"You startin' me?"
"No, you jumped up little mother's boy, I don't like you, didn't you hear?"
Things got surreal. The homie punched me feebly in the abdomen. I solemnly poked him in the forehead again. The next shot was an attempted knee to my groin, which I simply stepped away from.
"Dirty pool, old chap!" I grinned as I kicked his remaining leg out from under him. The odd little person fell flat on his backside, then to my surprise, began to sob quietly. What was this?
Two of his friends came over and while one helped him up, the other tried to hit me. The same set of moves followed, ending again with a young homie sitting on the ground with moist eyes.
"You're all robots!" I shrieked before screaming and running back the way I had come. As soon as I was round the corner, I stopped and flattened myself to the wall. A few seconds later, my parting gift went off with a dull "crump" noise. I heard a group of barely broken voices droning in that attempt to make a voice sound deeper than it really was "Oh shit, the cops! Run!"
I asked myself again as homies swarmed past me from imaginary pursuers, what is this? Then suddenly I was running again, back to my car. Again, somebody grabbed at my sleeve and this time I stopped to see a familiar face. Unfortunately I had no idea who they were. I told them this and they seemed disappointed but not surprised.
"It's been a while." They told me and I agreed cautiously.
"Well, do you know what's happening?" I asked in reference to the homies and they nodded sorrowfully. Not good, I thought to myself. They proceeded to wind a tale of deception and love, horror and comedy.
Apparently, someone had deceived the homies by using their love of the latest trend to shape them into mindless robot slaves of pop culture. The horror! But where is the comedy, you may ask?
Obviously, the funny bit is that this had always been the case, nothing had changed. The difference was that for the first time, I had actually tried to talk to one and I was exposed to how robotic they really were.
Since that mystery was resolved, I turned my full attention to the identity of this apparent friend of mine.
"Spring, 1971?" I asked.
"No, Summer 2001"
And suddenly it all fell into place. This was the androgynous girl I had worked with in a street theatre class. Why did she remember me? Was I that much of a freak? As I thought all of this, my mouth must have been working through it as well.
"Yes, you were that much of a freak."
"Ah, that I can explain. I was very, very drunk."
"Oh. What are you doing now?"
"I'm trying to find out if Saturday still exists."
"Sounds interesting. Can I come?"
I was suspicious, she was far too trusting. Maybe she was a double agent! But for who?
Apparently, my mouth was on automatic again as she shook her head and motioned very discreetly to the shadows on our left.
"Of course you can come!" I said nonchalantly as I realized what the problem was. She was afraid of the dark! Poor girl, I thought as I lead the way back to my car. But when we arrived, instead of getting in, she thanked me, mentioning something about a guy all in dark clothes following her in the shadows, then left. What is this?
Shrugging, I dropped into the driver's seat, wedging my package back into it's spot on the passenger seat. I started the car and was once again blasted with violently loud music. Someday that's going to kill me, I opined silently, turning the volume down. And then I was back on the road.
I had to abandon my car after a while, because it wouldn't fit between the two posts guarding the path I wanted to follow, so I slung the package over my shoulder and started to walk, giving the guard posts a wide berth. I had been walking for nearly an hour when I saw my car again. Thank God for that, I thought as I spotted it. I had just been thinking that I would never see it again.
Another hour of walking and I was starting to feel lost again, then suddenly my car was back. I stopped to think after this happened a third time. Unless my car is moving, I calculated, I must be traveling in circles. This time when I reached the end of the road, I decided to turn left instead heading back the way I had been.
It took me another hour again, but this time I ended up at the center of horror, the Central Business District. I was glad I hadn't brought my car this time. As I walked up the centre of the main street, I pondered the meaning of the horns I could hear all around me. Lacking explanation, I decided to get away from them and turned left.
An endarkening trip through a shopping mall and I was in what looked like homie heaven. Both sides of the car-free road were lined with trendy clothing shops, every fifth shop or so selling Rap and Teenypop CDs and Posters. Homies milled aimlessly around this Mecca, punctuated by the occasional adult wannabe-homie. I caught a glimpse of something that looked like a real person and sprinted over to them. I found myself face to face with a tall, thin glam-goth who looked down his nose at me. Even the goths weren't real here! What is this?
It was time for drastic action. I ran back the way I had come until I reached a small information booth I remembered passing earlier. I sprang at it like a wild beast and easily hoisted myself onto it's roof.
Striking a typical superhero pose I took a deep breath, threw my arms in the air and bellowed "Listen to me, my pitiful homies who were once human. You don't have to be like everyone else - you are individuals! Throw off the wallet chains of fashion and become real people again!"
There was silence then one of them squeaked "We are individuals, you freak."
This was terrific, in the terrifying sense! They were all so drowned in this mire that they thought they were still real people!
"I give up...", I whispered, then shouted it, "I give up! You are beyond being saved by conventional means! May dogs have mercy on your soles! By the way, do you know where I can find a good party?"
Someone made a comment about me being a good party and I growled "It's goon for you..."
Then someone answered me!
"Uh, hey, there's a party at your place tomorrow..."
"Who said that?"
"I looked down to see the brown form of one of my friends - that 70s guy!
"Oh!", I realized I was still shouting and lowered my voice, along with my arms, "Who's coming?"
"Everyone I think..."
I went home.
That night as I lay on my bed, I remembered that I had left my package on the roof of the information kiosk.
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