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3. Ecstasy

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I worked for my father in his tattoo parlor, he taught me all there was to know and I was licensed to work there, all legal and legitimate. I liked the work, it helped me steady my hand and appreciate art; I improved significantly over time. My life was great, good job, loving father, caring friends, it couldn’t get much better, it could only get worse. But it didn’t. It remained and I cherished the great moments, taking the best out of each day, because there was nothing else to do but make the best of it. Sure, bad things happen, but I paid no mind to them, they were insignificant to me and us and life. To live is to enjoy life, not to let it get torn apart by petty negativity. I promised myself that I’d enjoy life, I wouldn’t suffer through it, I’d laugh and smile and be merry and it would be worthwhile in the end.

The end I didn’t think about either, that’s a silly morbid thought. Death, the end to all things, that abrupt moment where all else ceases to be, to obsess about said idea is insane. It’s a waste of perfectly good time, it’s a mockery of existence. I don’t think about it, you can’t stop the inevitable after all, so why waste time? Darius and Raine think about it a lot I’d imagine, I don’t consider it at all anymore. Sure, we all consider it from time to time, but to be obsessed, controlled by it, that’s madness. That’s my opinion anyway, it’s up to you to agree with me, or not, everybody’s entitled to disagree, or agree, whatever.

Anyway, so that’s the foundation. I don’t know if I left out anything important, if I did, I’ll be sure to include it somewhere along the way. The tattoo parlor reunited me with Raine. He didn’t recognize me at all, he hadn’t changed much since I last saw him. Just older in expression and gait. But he was still Raine, his mannerisms, his movements, everything he did was specific to himself. That’s how  things were, I met him, got him a job. He didn’t know it was me for a while, but it was figured out eventually as all was revealed in time. It took some time to face up to Draven, it took a lot of mental preparation for that encounter. He saw through all my disguises, he knew right away, from my eyes, immediately who I was. It was awkward and unnerving but it had to come to be, and we made the best of it, rebuilding the bridges that had been burned, making new connections.

The initial reunion was an interesting event within itself. We all crossed paths by way of bad timing, wrong place, wrong time kind of deal. But yet we were all there, standing around, dazed and confused, confronted by the past, enchanted by the future. And for a little while it was tense and words were lacking but once everything was explained it was all as it should have been. I was taken into the group with open arms, it was my birthright, it was the most they could do. I had every right to be there, as one of them, to belong to their family. I was part of it a long time ago, I was just lost for a while, but I’d come home and home I’d stay. And so it was from then on, I was home and they were family and nothing would change that. I loved it, it was new and exciting all over again. It was an experience I’d never be able to abandon because it was special, it was us and we were together and that’s life.

My father was a little edgy about the group, but he trusted me, he loved me, as parents usually do. I loved him too, even after Mom left us both to be with Faye. It’s alright though, I think about her a lot, but I don’t let it consume me. What’s done is done and cannot be undone and so I just have to adjust to it, like all else, and that’s life and how things must be for the world to continue to turn. The balance must exist and I’m in the middle of it, between life and death, where I was destined to be until that one day will come and my fate will be sealed and life will end for all eternity and a new existence will begin. Such is the cycle, as all things are, such is the truth that I ignore and refuse to acknowledge because it cannot be altered by anything I do, I can merely wait.

Patience is a great virtue of mine, I’m able to wait long periods of time without getting as easily frustrated as some people. I was able to wait years to be returned to my proper place. Well, that’s not true. I didn’t always know that someday I’d come back. In the depths of my heart and soul I wished for it every waking moment of every day and every second that I slept, in dreams and nightmares. There was nothing to do but wait and hope, hope and wait, until the day could come, until the day did come, and I was home again. Home, what a funny idea as well. Where is home anyways? Is it where your family lives? Where you’re the most comfortable? Where is home to you? Home . . .

Mine is a story masquerading as fiction; born of truth and deceit – child of insanity.

When Draven and I first were reunited, we sat and talked a long time. Nobody knew what we talked about except us two, I can imagine what they thought we said . . . or did for that matter. We sat and talked for hours on end about everything, even things that had nothing to do with us. We talked until our voices quit and nothing more could have been said. Once that point came, we just sat together, curled up, enjoying one another’s company, and slept. He was calm and patient and forgiving, a side of him that few are permitted to see. And I loved him for it. There were so many factors involved in our reunion, we discussed them and disregarded the past. What was done cannot be undone, so why harp on it? You can’t change facts etched in stone, you can’t rewrite what’s already come to pass. So just move on and make the best of tomorrow.

Being I was back in the group, it was decided that they’d go back to their own ways. We were good kids, helped a lot of good people, that’s how we were. I loved it, going through the streets, helping anyone we found along the way, it was great. We had a purpose, the five of us, and it would stay that way. A purpose in a world full of nothing, a place in a society of set positions. So there we were. It stayed as such for a long time it seemed, such nice peace and order. It was mostly volunteer work that we’d taken part in, but it was something. Something of purpose.

Darius and Raine worked with my father and I, and they were good at it. They were born for it you’d think. My father, Sketch, loved them to death, they were like his own. Syrius he never took to, from past experience. Syrius tried desperately to gain his approval and eventually my father bent and let him into his heart. Time, that’s all. Time is all that is necessary to forgive because it’s insane to be so

 

obsessed with the past that you let it hinder your decisions in the future. Such was the teaching that I’d learned over time and applied to each day. What’s done is done.

We were a family, our little gang of freaks and outsiders, and that’s how we liked it. We spent our days working and doing well and enjoying life and our nights helping those in need that were shunned by the rest of the world. We did all manner of favors and good deeds, expecting no reward. We did what we did day in and night out for our own reasons and didn’t expect anybody to really understand why we did what we did. We understood it and that was enough. We went out and helped the weak stand up to the strong, we fought off adversity and made walking home a little safer. We taught those who needed it a lesson in respect and drive. We were the epitome of good citizenship.

People are afraid of what they do not understand, and so it was with us that we were feared. I doubt that it was Syrius’ intention to cause fear, but it happened. Syrius started this, it was his idea and we followed gladly. Anyway, back to fear. I don’t understand why people should be afraid of those willing to help them and do good deeds for once, but they were. And we encountered some adversity of our own. The police weren’t as appreciative as we’d planned, but we stayed away from them to avoid confrontation. It worked out well, with the exception of fear. I don’t know why they were so afraid, what was there to fear in five good kids like ourselves? Yet, that’s just how it worked out, they were afraid, and no matter how hard we tried to change their opinion, it only seemed to get worse. So we just made due with what we could manage.

I saw Cicero again one day, he was out on the street with his fellows and being somewhat rude to some innocent kids passing by. So Syrius had a nice little talk with him and the rest of us put in our two cents and that was that and it was all settled good and proper. It worked out rather nicely if I do say so. Cicero was very understanding and more than happy to change his ways and live a moral life, doing as we do, helping people. People feared him too, I can’t imagine why, such a lively fellow. It was nice to see him again, it had been years, I saw him when Faye went away, and one time afterward I think, I don’t remember much, I might’ve. Like I said, the past is dead and gone, buried, a distant concept. Don’t harp on what you cannot change; think back and remember fondly, but nothing else.

And so, there we were, the kind avengers of evil, roaming the streets to protect the unfortunate and weak. I saw Cicero a lot then, here and there, he’d talk to me when the others weren’t around. He was always kind when he spoke to me, like he was kind to Faye. I got along with him alright, liked him a bit, he scared me a little though at some times. Cicero was a big guy, like Draven, but his personality was an exact replica of Syrius’, right down to the speech patterns. Talking to him I felt like he was one of the guys, but he wasn’t. He couldn’t join our family, he had one of his own. But the guys didn’t want him in our family either, I don’t think they liked him too much. He’s a good guy, Cicero, he works hard and is never appreciated. But that’s life, we have to just shrug it off and move onward.

There was one time I talked to Cicero by myself, one dark night where it was raining again. I was walking home from work that night when he came upon me. He was kind and gentle and typical of Cicero, and he wanted to talk a while. So I walked with him and we went into a little side street and talked. He was asking about how I was and how the others were and what life was like and I told him. And he was getting a bit too close to me and I told him what I thought of him honestly and he respected that. He kind of slipped and knocked me over I think, I remember the cold slap of water and the icy feel of the ground. It was an accident of course. He helped me up and he decided to part ways right

 

there and I continued home. I never told the others about these little mishaps and conversations we shared because it was my own concern. They’d question where the bruises came from, for which my general clumsiness was to blame. So that’s how it went.

Such events repeated several times, Cicero wanted me to join his little circle or to be with him instead of Draven, he wanted all manner of little favors here and there. I did what I was able to, as long as it didn’t compromise my fellows, Draven especially. But Cicero was understanding, and every time that I’d fall and get hurt, he was there to dust me off and try harder to persuade me to help him. It wasn’t all that important, I let it go and forgot about each attempt shortly afterward. The group never knew, I covered it up well, I’m good at that you know, acting? I’m good at shrugging things off and denying that it ever happened. I’m really good at denial . . . really good.

Denial’s funny, it’s great. To go through your days happy and carefree, without a worry what so ever. I found myself going through days like that, ignoring the bad things because they were painful. When pushed to the correct state of mind, pain is an illusion. It can be locked away and ignored. What a waste pain is; it distorts reality. There wasn’t much pain in my life for me to distort, so there wasn’t much denial involved.

Back to the group. We were minding our own business one night, walking home peacefully, when we came across Cicero. He was in a bad mood for some reason, and conflict emerged. It was worked out in a nice, mature fashion and we parted ways, leaving the night behind on our way home. It wasn’t an important event, hence why I neglect detail. We parted ways simply, but got split up on the way home. Darius went away, so did Draven. Somehow, we were lost in a world of cruelty, and I found myself alone. Yet, I wasn’t alone, I still had Syrius and Raine for support, but they couldn’t understand. Maybe they could. I didn’t bother to ask.

Time passed and I was alone with Darius. We talked about all manner of topics to satisfy our wandering minds, to hold some purpose. Both of us were separated from the ones we loved, torn away in an instant. No. Temporary separation, I’m all right and I’d see Draven soon. It would work out well.

It did too, we were together again, except Darius, she was kept away. I missed her, we’d talked about many great things. We discussed the group of friends to which we belonged, the art that we all believed in and the society within which we all existed. She was blunt about her opinions, never sugar-coating the truth, I liked that. Her no-nonsense personality made her easy to talk to, which worked out well for me. I missed her horribly, as Raine did. I went to comfort him during his time of hardship. Whether I did any help, I’ll never know. But I was fine, I missed my friend and waited anxiously to see her again. Everything had ended well though, as it usually does. It just takes a little hope and effort to make it work; I wish more people could take the risk and try it. But some things are set in stone and can’t be changed or affected; or some just appear to be.

Most people aren’t as “ignorant” as we’d like to think, they just know when to fold and when to play their hand. People like that are hard to figure out, but yet they exist. I know people like that, they’re a sponge, absorbing as much as possible; everything’s held in until the moment where it would be most important. I hate all that, the mysteries, the hidden messages, between the lines; too much symbolism that provokes thought. I like thought, it’s necessary, but I like truth more, truth that’s brief and to the point. None of that silly insanity where the real idea is behind half a dozen fake ones. I like realism, it’s hard being abstract. Hence why I respect Darius as much as I do. She’s an artist.

I’m bored, terribly bored. I wish I weren’t, but there’s nothing to do or say. Darius is kept away, nobody else talks much. Nothing exciting happens in my life, ever. I wonder why. Everything is good and I’m happy and life’s great. Maybe tomorrow will be different? Probably not, but it’s healthy to dream. It’s necessary to have that little world of fiction, absolutely necessary. I love to set goals, I really do. But so it goes, right? Dreams are great.

But dreams are complicated, so I don’t like them all that much. They’re great, but there’s drawbacks. Most things are like that; most, not all. Dreams are ambitious, you know? But there’s a lot of “what if” situations, a lot of silly questions. I like things to be black and white, basic and ordinary. The normal circumstances worked in my favor because normalcy is less confusing. To step back for a moment, if you will.

Ordinary. Ordinary is to uniform is to typical is to similar. Ordinary is normal. And normal is life. Normal is constant, unwavering; no surprises or risks or mystery. Just normal. Some people think that being uniform is boring; I can respect that. Risk scares me a bit, I like to know the answers. Most people can take that leap of faith, I like to stay on the ground.

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