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Old 02-10-2009, 04:20 AM   #1
michael christopher
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Default "I Left My Heart in San Francisco"

This work protected by copyright. Copying material
from here without my expressed written permission is against the law.
The electronic documents posted here are the intellectual property of Michael Christopher Thompson II. Copyright 2009.

“I Left My Heart in San Francisco”

He is a romantic - perhaps even one of the hopeless sort. This is something he has contemplated many times, but as is the habit of all romantics, he is unable to come to a conclusion regarding what his nature might make of him in the end. His own mechanisms are as much of a mystery to him as the nature of the world is a mystery to it’s own denizens. He sometimes picks and plucks at his own psyche, poking at the sleeping monster, trying to deconstruct himself and observe his actions in order to come to some relevant conclusions about what makes him up - but everything he has discovered is nothing more than a supposition. He doesn’t know who he is. He doesn’t know why he is the way he is. He can only guess at why the world is so strange to him.

Others seem to cope well with this reality, but not Richard Alexander Lawson. He knows things that others do not know, because he is more aware. He sees things that others do not see, he knows that what is declared impossible is not only possible but natural and quite regular. The secrets of the universe have revealed themselves to him, but the secret of his own is still wrapped in a shroud, buried deep inside of his heart in a place that he is unable to access. He not even entirely sure that he has a secret, only that he has confusion and that there must be some remedy to it trapped deep within his fractured mind.

Richard has always been in love - even when he loved no one in particular. He’s known he was gay since he was very young, but as with most people, it took him a long time to really accept himself for who he was. After he broke through these initial barriers and discovered his identity, or at least part of it, he began to date almost neurotically. He fell in love completely with the ones he stayed with, even if the relationships were short and bittersweet (and most of them were). Richard has never been able to figure out why things go sour, not entirely. He can see his own flaws, he can see how he is aware and yet seemingly unable to stop himself. He can also see the flaws in the ones he chooses to love. He can see them glaringly.

He doesn’t know why this he is unable to mend his own flaws, but he knows it’s a characteristic dominant in all humans. At least all of the ones he’s met. It seems sometimes that he is a slave to his passions and angry, male emotions. When his inner mind decides that it wants something, even if his outer mind - his “conscious” mind - does not want it, it will find a way out. Freudian slips are quite natural for Richard. Many a relationship has ended with a snide remark one too many. He loses interest after awhile, and it never fails. He marks periods of time by who he has dated. He goes through different phases - sometimes he wants to date, and sometimes he does not. Sometimes he believes in monogamy, sometimes he does not. His opinions change like the seasons - whether in regard to sex or philosophy.

He cannot find a static self, he cannot find who he truly is because he feels like so many different people. His opinions are born, they become passionate, then weak and finally they die. Always. Nothing stays constant, and all things change. He has been a Catholic, an ex-Catholic Christian, a Buddhist, and he has tried a few different “new age” cults, all of which he has found rather stupid in retrospect. It seems he finds a little truth in everything, and a lot of lies in everything as well. It’s hard to pick and choose what makes sense and what doesn’t, which is why his opinions change. A scary thought has plagued his nightmares since he was a child - the idea that perhaps there is no proof of anything. Perhaps there is no proof of existence, or of life. Perhaps it’s all a dream - but then, who is the dreamer? He doesn’t know. Like his seasons come and go, this is a question that sometimes he ponders and that usually he is unable to bring himself to.

His fears have always been strange. When he was a child, he remembers wondering if perhaps people saw each other differently - much more differently than merely through a psychological lens. Perhaps what was purple for him was green for another? Perhaps when he heard one sound, someone else heard a different sound entirely? Perhaps his perception - and the perception of everyone - was entirely whacked. He had never been able to resolve the question of different perceptions, however, because he had never been inside of anyone else’s head, and he never would be.

This is why Richard became a writer. Although he searches for “love” in all of his doomed relationships, the only place where he really expresses his love is when he makes up a character to write it into. Sometimes his characters disgust him, and he wonders how they came pouring out of his hands onto the monitor. That happens a lot actually. He tries to create good heroes to go against the villains. Like many writers, Richard is unable to escape the mythic ethos of good guy versus bad guy, and it is a theme that he will never be able to escape for the rest of his writing career.

Richard has a problem with love. It seems he only loves those who don’t love him, and when the guys he’s dating actually do love him he finds himself becoming detached. He has asked himself the question if it is really love that he seeks, and he already knows the answer to it. Of course it isn’t. But he likes to tell himself that it is, and often the illusion is a fun one to live inside of. Something about him loves to worship those who don’t care about him. He seeks to impress those who will never be impressed. He seeks to love those who do not care for his love. This is his real flaw. He knows this. He will always know this. The tragedy of life is to know that you’re making a mistake and to be unable to stop yourself from doing it. And it’s a tragedy that everyone alive is familiar with.

Two years ago, Richard lost faith in everything. He expected his faith to come back, because it always did at some point. But this time it didn’t come back. He’s felt completely lost, and he hasn’t had a relationship in those entire two years. He hasn’t even had sex. He’s felt so drained, so alone, and so pitiful that he doesn’t know what to do about it. He doesn’t know what he’s searching for anymore. He feels like a piece of him has died, and the funny thing is, he can’t even point to the reason why. Most people can say “My father died!” (or some other relative) and then wonder why God could be so cruel as to give life and then take it away. It’s a valid question, but Richard already knows the answer to it - or at least, he did when he believed in God. Back then, the answer had been “Because life is precious and God wants us to appreciate it.” Most people wouldn’t understand that, though, because they don’t believe life is meant to be appreciated. Sadly, Richard is coming to feel that way himself.

Richard cannot say that he had a parent that died, or a loved one, or that his heart was broken. His heart has been broken, it must be - that’s the only explanation. But why? He doesn’t know. His passion has gone away. He can’t write. He feels that he has a spiritual sickness on the one hand, and on the other hand - the one he’s better with - he feels that it’s all non-sense and he’s disgusted with himself for believing it in the first place. How foolish, he often thinks, that he should ever have convinced himself to believe that superstitious garbage. How fucking foolish. There are things that make no sense, this he admits. This he has experienced first hand. But what if he’s simply insane? What if all of his inspiration is the result of some mental disorder? He doesn’t like to think about that. Regardless, the faith he once had in God has dissipated, whether strange, unexplainable phenomena actually occurs or not. He doesn’t feel the presence of God like he once did. He feels lost in the darkness, lost in discord.

He’s been to psychiatrists, psychologists, shamans, hypnotists, witch doctors, and even (again) to Catholic priests. The latter is something that he is not very proud of - it was a true moment of weakness, he thinks, and on some level - although he is too proud to admit it - he is ashamed of that momentary weakness. The priest had only offered him the same brainwashed garbage that he grew up with - the same drivel he spent his life trying to escape, and which at a moment of pure desperation he was willing to try to embrace once more. That willingness disappeared quickly when the priest reminded him why he had left with some choice bad advice. The man had said something that is so cliché that it fell out of his mouth like drool falls out of the mouth of a drunken wino. “God works in mysterious ways,” the priest had said. “We must live in accordance with God’s will or he punishes us. This secret you seek after, this mystery you hope to unravel - God has sealed it within your heart for a reason. We should not go around poking in the devil’s garden with a stick. There are a lot of serpents in there, with a lot of apples.” “Great,” he had replied. “Thanks for telling me nothing.” Then he simply walked out while the priest stared at him, silently praying for his salvation as he left. He was disgusted. Had the priest actually just referred to his heart as the devil’s garden? How utterly Catholic.

Richard has been around the world. The reason he has been able to see so many “specialists” - or as he likes to think of them, hacks - is because his job affords him a great deal of money. Once Richard was just a writer - that was ten years ago. Now he‘s a highly-successful writer. There’s a really big difference. He has been earning a living by spinning worlds out of nothing - or at least, some reflection of nothing - for ten years now. He has been earning one hell of a living for five of those years, five years ago being when his first novel came out. It was called “Post-Dimensional” and it was New York Times #1 Best Seller.

He remembers how the words had come to him, how the characters had seemed to write themselves. The plot was simple. The main character was an angel - Remiel Arkadin. A weird name for an angel, but Richard tries to let his characters name themselves. This angel had, over the course of the novel, come to realize that he was not working for God but was in fact working for the devil himself - the same devil who was in charge of both Heaven and Hell. The ending had not been what he envisioned when the inspiration came to him, and when he greedily pretended that the story was all his own and was the result of his own magnificent genius. The original ending had been that Remiel would discover this and then fall in love with a human woman named Rachel, and that he would be turned into a human being at the end of the story so that he could live a happy life with her.

That had not, however, been the ending. The actual ending had been much more gruesome. The words had simply flowed out under his fingertips, channeled through the miracle of the keyboard (thank God for technology) onto the word processor. Remiel had hung from a cross on that last page, his angelic blood slowly flowing out of him. Satan-God stood laughing at him, chiding him for his treason and warning him of seeking out knowledge that was not for him to have. He was crucified for eating the apple of wisdom - the sin of Adam and Eve. Unlike those two, he was not cast out of paradise, but he was cast entirely out of existence, and so was his lover Rachel. A rather dark ending, but one which seemed to have sold a lot of books at the time. “Post-Dimensional” has been hailed as a post-modern classic, a Satanic Bible, and a forbidden fruit itself, amongst other things (many of which are more vulgar than what I‘ve repeated here).

Richard does not know how he had arrived at the ending, because he had simply been typing. When he stops to think and write, it doesn’t work. But when he puts his fingers on the keys and does not stop typing for anything, not even to think, it all flows out of him - perfect stories, stories that guarantee him success. Success, but not happiness. When the stories flow out of him like this, they always win some award or another and they are guaranteed to make him some kind of windfall. He’s not rich, but he’s certainly wealthy.

He was dating a young man named Jason Bernard at the time that he wrote “Post-Dimensional” and for two months after it came out. Jason was beautiful, as Richard’s lovers always tended to be, and a bit shallow, although well-meaning and ultimately good natured. His eyes were blue, which is Richard’s preference, and his hair was blonde, which is also Richard’s preference, and Richard remembers him fondly as one of his most treasured partners. He knows that part of his problem is in the way he frames this. To say he treasures him, and to know at the same time what the fundamental foundation of their relationship had been (sex, and the short-lived emotions that come with it) makes him feel dirty. He feels like he looks at Jason as a trophy, as something to be proud of, and he knows that it’s wrong. He also knows that Jason did not give a damn about his writing and only commented on it with vague “Oh, that sounds good,” replies. In fact, he usually just repeated those exact four words. So it had been doomed from the beginning, but it had been quite thrilling for awhile.

Richard had made Remiel look like Jason in the novel, except of course that Remiel had light blue skin and golden eyes. There were parts where he looked human, though. Remiel’s lover Rachel had been based on another past lover of Richard’s, one of the first ones who came years before Jason ever showed up. Richard had been eighteen then, and the boy he dated was nineteen and named Alex Coach. Everyone tries to guess who is the “man” and “woman” in a gay relationship, although it’s usually obvious. Well, in this relationship, Alex was the woman in all ways; emotionally, physically and intellectually. It was a perfect match. He had never met someone who he found seemed to fit so perfectly with himself - because he was, he knew, predominantly male. They fit together like puzzle pieces, because one of the primary laws of the universe is - hilariously - that opposites attract, and opposites attack. God has a good sense of humor (although good is a subjective term, Richard thinks). Alex was not effeminate, at least not exactly. He still seemed like a guy to Richard, but he knew that the brain of a female must have been inside of that gorgeous head. Alex, by the way, looked rather similar to Jason Bernard. Isn’t that interesting?

As I mentioned earlier, however, at the age of thirty-two, Richard has not had a date in two years - and frankly, he is not even interested in one. And worse than that, he doesn’t know why he’s not interested in one. He does, however, know a great deal about the universe since his first success, that book that had come out of nowhere, from a time before he knew about the world and Reality (distinguished from reality, mind you) and all of the wonderful things about it.

He had received many letters after “Post-Dimensional” came out. Most of them - strangely, it actually was most of them - were from crazy people. At the time, Richard had found it ominous that over half of the letters that he opened were from psychopaths who believed in demons and angels that were just as real as the ones he wrote about in his novel. Although Jason had no interest in reading Richard’s novel, he had a lot of interest in reading the letters and making fun of them - a fact which highly irritated Richard and which led to the ultimate demise of their ill-fated love affair. He had time to read literally hundreds of letters and laugh at them, but he couldn’t be bothered to read a single chapter of the highly successful novel of his own lover. Fucking annoying.

Richard once believed that only human beings were sentient and intelligent. He doesn’t believe that anymore. Something happened after his first novel came out, after that initial wave of success. It’s as though he felt energized in a way that he never felt before, his senses were alive and he almost felt like his mind was a radio antenna, picking up broadcasts from far out into the universe… broadcasts from things that were decidedly not human. This was, of course, a theory that he kept entirely to himself for a very long time. All sane people hide their insanity, don’t they?

Once he saw a man made of pure shadow walking around in broad daylight, and when the shadow man saw him, he ran across the street and was hit by an oncoming car. He had instantly dissipated. Richard has seen these types of things before on hallucinogenic drugs, but he had never seen anything like it while totally sober, which he had been on that crisp Autumn day in October of 2005 - one year after “Post-Dimensional” was released. At the time he was dating a young man named Silas - oddly, blue-eyed and blonde-haired - and that had lasted for a mere two weeks. They were two quite excellent weeks though, except for the explosive last day. The shadow man is not the only strange thing that Richard has seen. He’s seen other things as well.

In the Mall of America in Washington D.C., (April 2006) he saw an entire family - a husband, wife, son and daughter, all very normally dressed - that had emerald green skin. None of them even noticed him staring, and apparently no one noticed that the family had green skin either, because he saw people walking up to them and acting quite naturally, completely oblivious to the emerald skin that the family walked around in as if it looked like their own quite normally pigmented flesh. As this incident was occurring, he was reminded of his childhood questions about perception, and whether or not some people saw things totally differently than other people. Surely this seemed to confirm it, but perhaps he had a brain tumor or something. He has never had it checked out, because part of him fears that this may be why he feels like his sanity has been degenerating over the last few years. The incident in the Mall of America was the second strange thing that he has witnessed. There are two more incidents, but we shall get to them shortly.

It was after the seeing the green family that he began to see the numbers. At first he only saw 44. He would wake up at 4:44 AM, he would turn on his television to find it on channel 44 (AMC - a channel he never watched), he would receive phone calls from various people he knew at 4:44 PM like clockwork. He would come up behind license plates that had either two, three and sometimes even four fours in sequence, multiple times a day. Richard found it quite funny that he passed exit 44 on state route 404 at 4:44 PM - regularly. Was it his subconscious that made him notice all of these symbols? Perhaps it was - and what of that? He had been all too happy to shrug off the numbers for as long as he could - and after four months and four days, he caved and decided that perhaps he was going crazy.

Richard was a highly educated man and was familiar with Karl Jung’s theory of synchronicity. But how could he apply it to his life? He didn’t understand how seeing the same things over and over again could actually wake up some thought in his head that needed waking. Why the fuck was it always the number four? Why couldn’t it be two? Or three? Or five? Or one? Richard knew why it wasn’t those numbers, however. It wasn’t those numbers because it was always 44. At least at first. Richard had been dating no one during “the 44 period” (as he remembers it).

The next number had been 23. It seemed to randomly shift one day - all of the sudden the 44’s were gone and replaced with 23’s. He moved to California, where his zip code ended with a 23, his telephone number’s last four digits were 2323, and his second novel had exactly 232,323 words in it. It was a long one. The 44’s had simply disappeared. At first he didn’t notice the 23’s - his mind relegated them to coincidence. He was simply happy that the 44’s disappeared. It meant he would not have to go on medication, or see a psychotherapist. It meant he could keep that secret tucked away safely in the back of his mind, which was at the time right where he wanted to keep it.

This book had been titled “Apropos” and it had not been quite as supernatural or as well received by critics as “Post-Dimensional” had been. It was released in September of 2007. “Apropos” was the tale of a man who discovers the secret history of the world. This man’s name had been Leyland Height, and in the course of the story he had discovered that the world was now and had always been run by the same immortal people. People who would never die, and people who knew human kind so well that it was impossible for their power to be displaced. At the end of this story, exactly as Richard had envisioned this time, Leyland turned his back on human kind for immortality and became one of it’s silent, never dying dictators. It had been nice to get some publicity, some attention, and of course a sizeable paycheck. “Apropos” did not ascend to #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list, however, and after awhile Richard realized that “Apropos” had gone from being a period known in his life as “the present” to being a more familiar period known as “the past.” He dated three young men when during the “Apropos period.” The first’s name was Joseph, and he was a blonde. The second’s name was Joshua. He was a brunette. The third’s name was Jeffrey. He was a redhead. Strange that they all had J names - Richard has chalked it up to another weird omen. There are a lot of them in his life. Of the three of them, the only one he felt a real connection with was, unsurprisingly, Joseph. The blonde. What is it with Richard and blondes? They were all gone out of his left and into “the past” by the time the 23’s came along.

Slowly, he began to realize the 23’s were following him. They were following him everywhere. Waking up at 4:44 AM had stopped, disappeared completely, but soon he was waking up at 2:32 AM. No longer would four cars with 44 license plates pull in front of him. Now it was always 23 on the plates, and he saw it far more frequently than he ever saw 44. His hope that he would not need medication disappeared quickly and soundlessly, and no tribute was paid to that hope.

But medication and psychiatry did not help. Richard went to see a psychiatrist named Dr. Gordon Watson in January of 2008. Although he mentioned the repeating numbers, he did not mention the green family or the shadow man. The doctor had put Richard on an anti-psychotic named Nombil that had actually made him a great deal more psychotic than he had been previously. During this period he kept a dream journal, and most of his dreams were about cold-blooded murder. Every night Richard would wake shrieking from a dream where he was either being killed, or worse, where he was doing the killing himself. After a week of this insanity he flushed the tiny white Nombil pills down the toilet, and when he stopped going to the psychiatrist the good Dr. Watson had called him. “Why haven’t you been coming to see me, Mr. Lawson? Hasn’t the Nombil been working?” “Oh, it’s been working fine,” Richard had said. “It’s been making me go crazy, which is the purpose, right? To keep me coming back to see you and get my doses upped? To line the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies? I know your game, asshole,” he had said angrily. “Mr. Lawson…” Dr. Watson had timidly replied, and after a moment of silence he said “You are starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist.” “Fuck you!” Richard had shouted, and he had hung up the phone angrily.

One week later he had been grocery shopping and that’s when he saw the front page news item on the cover of National Enquirer - “Satanic writer has gone crazy, doctors say.” And there was his photo beneath it - one that made him look particularly insane, unfortunately. In it his hair was ruffled and he was unshaven, and his eyes looked almost insane. Of course, the eye effect was photo-shopped, and he had simply been photographed - unknowingly, he thought bitterly - on a day when he had not cared to make himself look pretty before going out in public. He bought the National Enquirer and read the article bitterly.

“Popular Satanic writer” - Satanic writer? Why the fuck were they keep calling him Satanic? “- Richard Lawson has started a descent into madness, doctors claim. An anonymous source” - of course, of course - “claims that Lawson has been spotted at the Cherry Hill Psychiatric Center, and the source says that Lawson has told doctors that he is hearing voices that tell him what to write.” Richard had angrily called the National Enquirer and demanded a retraction, but that had been a bad idea as well because the following week another story about him had appeared, this one even worse than the last because it was utterly fabricated.

The headline to this story was “Lawson spotted at Satanist Church in Los Angeles.” It was utterly untrue of course - Richard laughs at the idea of Satanism, and he did back then as well. The idea that people worship a force that is inherently evil - that is evil for the sake of evil - has to be one of the stupidest things he has ever heard. Assuming that Satan is real, which is a pretty enormous assumption, Richard would never choose to worship him because Satan has always stood as a symbol of destruction and chaos. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with chaos, and perhaps sometimes destruction might even be called for - but to worship the being that provided these ideas and made them into reality would be sheer folly because the worshiper would necessarily fall into chaos and destruction himself.

To Richard, it explains why every Satanist that he has ever met is a self-worshiping moron or worse, a Dungeons and Dragons playing dipshit who tries to summon up demons in his parent’s basement (where said dipshits always live) based on instructions found on a website that has not been updated since 1996.

Richard does not like being associated with Satanism anymore than he likes being associated with Christianity. Unfortunately for Richard, the claims will not go away, and they still follow him, although to a lesser degree now that he’s told his side of the story - even if his platform isn’t quite as high up as the National Enquirer’s. Today he is occasionally referred to as a “Satanic author” and when taking questions at a public panel, many times he is asked why he chose to become a Satanist. He had wanted to sue the National Enquirer at the time, but he decided that the further he pressed the issue, the more it looked like he was trying to hide something. So he let it go. It’s a decision that he now bitterly regrets.

He should have sued those fuckers into oblivion, he thinks now. He should have done to them what Satan did to Remiel and Rachel - he should have unmade them. But of course, he is not God, and he is not Satan, and the power of unmaking is not his, at least not entirely. Fate had decided the National Enquirer would remain growing like a tumor on the face of American culturem, and fate was never wrong. Well, only rarely, anyway. He supposes he could still sue them, but there is a part of him that he listens to which tells him that he knows it is pointless, and that he is only making the problem worse by putting himself in the limelight as such a public spectacle.

Last fall, he had become so caught up in his own troubles that he stopped paying attention to the 23’s. Coincidentally, he had also stopped writing. He could only stare at the blank word processor. Occasionally he would type a line like “Michael Jeffries thought he was on top of the world,” and then he would shamefully delete and chastise himself for having typed something so stupid. When he tried to find inspiration, it did not come. He had tried to write a sequel to “Post-Dimensional” but the story kept shrieking at him “There’s nothing left to tell!” And what could be told? Had not Remiel been destroyed and erased? Was Satan not God in that story? How could one defeat God? Yes, Richard knew regretfully, the story was told. There was nothing left to tell.

For months he went on like this. He had started trying to write in March of 2008, and he didn’t get out a single whole chapter that wasn’t deleted until late July. There were many Michael Jeffries - some named Stephen Connor, some named Sarah Jenson - all were erased, like Remiel, except the difference with Remiel is that he not truly been erased at all but he had been created. By Richard Alexander Lawson. And now Richard could create no more.

Perhaps the National Enquirer headlines had been a premonition, because when the writer’s block had hit, that’s when Richard really did start hearing voices.

It was the end of July, and he was staring at the blank word processor screen. He had all but forgotten how to let the stories flow out of him, how to type without thinking, how to let a scene paint itself without being molested by his own thoughts. Now all he knew how to do was to lament his lost talent, and cry to the heavens “Why hast thou forsaken me?” On this night, that cry was heard, and as he stared at the blank screen, from behind blank eyes, inside of a blank mind, a woman’s voice began to speak to him inside of his head.

“Richard,” she whispered, “you don’t know how to listen.” He ignored it. Don’t respond to voices in your head was something he had always found to be good advice. He didn’t know if others had ever heard them, but he heard them when he was much younger, and they had gone away during his teen years, and then, terrifyingly, at least one seemed to have had returned - well, returned in a sense. This one was new. He had always assumed everyone heard the voices but most people were smart enough not to talk about it. On that count, Richard was correct, although most people don’t realize that the voice they hear speaking to them is not really their own.

“Do you want another story?” the voice asked. “I have an infinite amount of stories for you…” He tried to clear his mind and block out the thought - the voice - but he was unable to. “I have a million best-sellers already written… I have so many stories to tell, so many stories that still need to be told… and so few writers willing to tell them…”

He had thought then that he had surely snapped, that his mind had cracked under the weight of his anxiety and depression. Or perhaps he had always been crazy and up until now he had been able to slip under the radar. “You are not crazy,” the voice had whispered to him as these thoughts started to flood in. “Everyone else is crazy.” He could not think to respond to it - and surely if he did, it would be like admitting that he was a lunatic to himself. The voice did not need a response, however. It merely said “If you want inspiration, just call me up. My number is 23.” He only stared at the monitor.

He actually wanted to write, then. Words did start to come to him. Characters started to visit his mind. “Hello,” they would say. “My name is Evelyn Argus. I was burnt as a witch in 1693 in Salem, Massachusetts.” He remembers Evelyn well, he wrote a thirty-two page short story about her. It was one of many short stories he wrote, and after writing short stories for a week - honestly, one-hundred and four in all, a shockingly high amount (and all of it good!), he started to write a novel. He didn’t sleep, and he barely ate. He didn’t bathe either, until he absolutely had no other choice.

It came out of his head and into his computer in just under two weeks. It was published within two months, and in October of 2008 it was finally released. His third novel was titled “The Shape of Things” and it was about a World War II veteran who comes home to America in 1946 only to discover that no one knows him, and that his family does not seem to exist. When he returns to the military for help, they no longer seem to remember that he exists either. It was a mystery, and as usual it had many supernatural twists. During the writing of this novel, Richard had discovered something about his particular brand of creativity that he had never understood before. When he wrote, he was simply playing with archetypes.

He was walking onto a playground, which he did when he was a child, and creating characters based on larger emotions and feelings. His villains often represented anarchy, insanity and chaos - although sometimes his heroes represented those things as well. His heroes primarily represented evolution, compassion and moral strength, however. When he realized this, he had been able to change the archetypes he normally used in his writing, because he realized how he was limiting himself. The characters in “The Shape of Things” had been utterly alien to him. In many ways it was the least supernatural book that he had written, and in many other ways it was the most. It described his own descent into madness. The veteran had been named Corey Nihler. Corey began to follow the same types of omens that Richard had started to follow when he began to notice the 44’s.

Every question that Corey was able to answer only led to another question. Nothing seemed to make sense, and it was perfect. The end had been ambiguous - the best type of ending. And yes, “The Shape of Things” was a New York Times #1 Best Seller. It was hailed as “A wonderful exploration of schizophrenic behavior,” and “A brilliant expose on conspiracy theorism!” Because it featured almost no supernatural elements, it was readily accepted by the main-stream - much moreso than either “Post-Dimensional” or “Apropos” had been. It was also acceptable to Christians, Muslims and Jews because it didn’t (directly) attack any of their religions, as opposed to his other works. Finally, he was getting the respect and credibility he deserved. Finally, he was a “mainstream author” - and what was even better is that “The Shape of Things” was actually a good book. He didn’t have to sell out. He knew he would be successful. He knew it from the moment he heard that voice, the one that told him to notice the 23’s… and he had been noticing them. The whole idea had come to him one morning after awakening from a dream at 2:32 AM.

But he’s not happy now. The success doesn’t do anything for him. He hasn’t written anything in two years since that book was released. Two years to the day. He sits on a park bench now, and he lives in San Francisco. He’s been here for one of those two dark years, and he finds it funny that of all the places in the entire world to move to, he has to find himself in San Francisco, a gay writer with writer’s block and a developing drinking problem. He still sees the 23’s, but now they seem to laugh at him. Right now he’s sitting on a bench with lawyer Jerry Hamilton’s face (which is not very good looking, even in this professional photograph) plastered on it, and his telephone number which is 555-1423. His mind makes a calculation and throws a useless thought at him: one and four make five, two and three make five, and the first three digits of the number are 555. 55555.

He shakes his head. Maybe he should try that Nombil again. But he needs to write something. The expectations are high, he knows, and he doesn’t know if he can fulfill them. Whatever he’s going to write, it has to have some kind of supernatural element to it, and that’s not what people are expecting. But it’s just how he writes. An author gets used to his toys and he chooses to play with the same ones over and over again. That’s simply how it goes, it’s the nature of the artist - it’s called a unique, individual style. Some people appreciate it and some people don’t. Richard doesn’t really care about the personal opinions of others regardless, which is the habit of all (good) artists.

It’s Autumn in San Francisco, which means it feels like it always feels in San Francisco. He sits in a white t-shirt with a sun on it in the center, a pair of old blue-jeans and sandals. The sun is rising, and he looks at it. It’s beautiful, he thinks, and so inspiring - except for the fact that he’s not inspired. Beauty has become an ornament to him, and nothing more. Perhaps this is why he cannot find someone to love, or perhaps he is just not ready for it yet. He doesn’t know. Part of him doesn’t care. The other part does care. He finds it easier to ignore both parts.

Music is blaring in through a speaker in the park, although it’s very low. “And here he is, the star of our show! Direct from the bar… Mr. Dean Martin!” shouts the announcer to the exultant cheers of an audience. The band starts playing and Richard can visualize him walking out onto the stage, smiling at the crowd as they were hypnotized by his shining star… “I left my heart…” Mr. Dean Martin croons, “in Fran Sancisco…” The crowd laughs, and Richard has a nostalgic moment although he was never been alive at a time even remotely close to when the Rat Pack had been popular. “High on a hill… it calls to me…” A tear begins to fall from his eye. He loves this song, he really does. “To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars… the morning fog may chill the air… I don’t care… my love waits there, in San Francisco…”

He clenches his fist and wipes his eye. He wishes that he had felt this way about someone in his life. He has loved many, and many have loved him - but it seems like the two positions never seemed to come together at the same time. To be in love, it is something he has always wanted and never had. He has never felt love of any kind, really, which is perhaps why he seeks out destructive relationships. The little love he has received later in his life has been too little too late, and suspect as well considering his newfound fame. He wants to find someone who he can love and be himself with, but he doesn’t know if it’s possible. All of the fire has gone out of him, all of the passion. His apathy wins the day as usual, and his tears dry up, and he stares at the beautiful sunset and the moment that was “the present” becomes “the past” as all moments thus far have done eventually.

He returns to apathy not happily, but gratefully. Dean is still singing and it’s still beautiful, but now only in a passing way. That’s when he sees him.

There is a young man who looks to be about twenty-four or twenty-five standing thirty feet away, against a tree, staring at him. He looks beautiful. His hair is dark brown and his eyes match, although his skin is fairly pale. His lips are the bright red of strawberry’s and look full and perfectly arranged, as all of his features do. His eyes are large and magnetic. He’s wearing a pair of black jeans and a light gray hooded sweatshirt. It’s zipped all the way to the top. He smiles as Richard notices him and nods at him.

This is strange, Richard thinks, because he hasn’t seen anyone who made his heart skip a beat in years. And here is this boy, oddly playing to this song. Richard notices the young man is holding an apple, which he takes a bite out of. Richard tries not to stare, although every few minutes (seconds) he throws a glance up to see if he’s still there. He always is.

After five minutes of this strange game, the young man throws his apple in a garbage can and walks over to Richard and sits beside him on the bench. “Hello, there,” he says in a voice that is extremely attractive to Richard. “Why, hello,” Richard responds. “How are you?” It’s all he can think of to say. “I’m doing great,” says the young man, “I’m always doing great. What’s your name?” he asks. Richard begins to feel - is that? - yes, hope. This man is as beautiful as an angel, and it seems like he’s interested in getting to know him - why else would he come over here and start talking to him after Richard had been so obviously looking at him, and so obviously shy about doing it?

“You don’t know who I am?” Richard asks. “Should I?” the young man replies. “I just thought, since you came over and sat beside me that maybe you knew who I was.” “No,” says the young man, “I just thought you were cute.” He smiles and Richard smiles back at him sincerely. “Well, my name is Richard,” he says. “And yours?” The young man smiles and begins to think for a second. “You can call me Remy,” he finally says. “Nice to meet you Remy,” Richard responds. Remy smiles. “So you like Dean Martin?” he asks. Richard shakes his head. “Not really, actually I think the Rat Pack is rather lame. But I love this song.” Remy nods. “Me too,” he agrees. They both stare at the sunset, saying nothing. After a moment, Richard feels Remy’s hand lay atop his.

“I have the answers you are searching for,” Remy says seriously, and he looks at Richard. Richard turns his head to look into his eyes and makes a sour face. “What?” he asks. Great, he thinks - a freak. Or maybe worse, a stalker, although a part of him admits he wouldn’t mind being stalked by Remy. A weird part.

“I’m a messenger,” Remy said. “A messenger from who?” Richard replied. “An employer?” Remy shakes his head. “I’m a messenger of my employer, yes, and I guess maybe your employer as well, although he’s not hiring because you already have the job.” Richard shakes his head. He asks flatly, “What the fuck are you talking about?” Remy frowns slightly. “No need for hostility,” he says. “Don’t shoot the messenger.” Richard realizes that Remy’s hand is still on top of his and he pulls it away and places it back in his lap.

“Okay, are you crazy?” Richard asks. “No, but I know that you think you are,” Remy responds. “Don’t worry, though, you’re not.” Richard wants to fight back, he wants to argue, but he can’t. Remy leans in and kisses him on the lips, and it seems to last forever, although in reality it lasts only thirty-seven seconds. He pulls away from Richard and stares into his eyes. Richard feels hypnotized - he doesn’t care anymore what Remy’s agenda is, he will play along. Because he is in love.

Richard has always believed in love at first sight. Another artist’s habit.

Remy smiles, intoxicating Richard. “I…” Richard is unable to help himself, it’s almost as though the words fall out of his mouth. “I love you,” he says, and the alarm bells go off in his head. ‘What the fuck is wrong with you?!’ his mind screams at him. ‘It took you a very short time to blow everything!’ Remy does not look surprised or upset however, and he flashes his beautiful smile at Richard once more. “I know you love me, and I love you too, Richard,” Remy says. “I have always loved you.” This is strange - almost like a dream. It occurs to Richard that he is dreaming, and for a good two minutes he believes it’s the most likely possibility, although he decides he wants to ride this dream out to the bitter (and unexpectedly random) end.

“I thought you said we have never met?” Richard asked Remy. “We have not met, at least not in your current state,” Remy said. “But we’ve met many times before. And I suppose we’ve met in your stories…” “What do you mean?” Richard asks. Remy smiles and says nothing. “I told you I am a messenger,” Remy says. “Do you wish to know what messages I bring to you?” “Yes!” Richard smiles. “Anything! You are so… you are so beautiful, oh God…” He leans in to kiss Remy again, and Remy kisses him - another thirty-seven seconds exactly. They break the kiss and Richard only stares at him. “I love you too,” Remy replies sincerely. “Are you ready?” “Yes,” Richard responds. “I’m ready…”

“You are lost,” says Remy. “But you are also found. You are sad, but you are also happy. You are sure, but you are also confused. You do not know yourself. You know yourself too well. All of these things are true, and they are also false. Do you take my meaning, Richard?” His manner of speech seems rather weird, but Richard does take his meaning. And this must be a dream after all. Either that or this beautiful young man is the most amazing con-artist of all time (which is a distinct possibility at a park in San Francisco). “Yes,” Richard responds. “I take your meaning very well.” And he really did. It was true that Richard was an extremist - he was such an extremist that he was an extremist on both sides of the extreme spectrum, batting back and forth. It is only his spiritual deadening of the last two years that has slowed down the seasons of his mind.

“You have so much love to give,” Remy says. “I can see your heart is wide, and you let others drink of it freely. But they take too much from you, and your love turns to hate. But you know that you can only hate someone that you already loved in the first place. This you know, correct?” Richard nods, but this time does not say anything. “Your heart is big, but your brain is big as well and you are suffering under the weight of both. They fight for dominance within you. Which will you listen to?” “My heart,” Richard responds, although he doesn’t know why because he didn’t think about how to answer. It simply blurts out of his mouth. Remy smiles.

“No,” he says. “It’s more complicated than that. Although I suppose it’s also more simple.” Remy speaks entirely in paradoxes and riddles, Richard is noting. This must be one of those lucid dreams… a divine dream. A gift from God. Perhaps the depression and confusion is over, perhaps this dream is a sign. “Is this a dream?” Richard says without thinking. Remy nods. “Life is a dream,” he says. Richard leans in to kiss him again, but Remy kisses his forehead instead. Richard is both bitterly disappointed and supremely grateful at the same time, and when he realizes the paradox, he laughs. Remy laughs too, an authentic laugh, as if he seems to read Richard’s thoughts.

“You punish yourself while you think you are helping yourself, do you know this?” Remy asks. Richard nods. He really does feel hypnotized. Is it Remy’s beauty? Or is it something else? He feels like perhaps it’s a little of both. “You desire recognition so you seek to have those who do not recognize you do so. But this is folly. You wish to change people, but people are not meant to be changed. This is the foundation of your unhappiness, Richard. It is the foundation of all unhappiness.” “What are you?” Richard asks. “I mean who?” Remy smiles. “I told you,” he repeats, “I am a messenger.” “A messenger of whom? Of what?” “We are all messengers of the same thing,” Remy says, and he does not add to his sentence.

“You are so beautiful,” Richard repeats, “I love you. I love you so much. I don’t know why…” Remy puts his hand on Richard’s shoulder and leans in, kissing his forehead again. “And I love you as well, Richard. I only have some advice for you.” “Anything,” Richard says. “Anything for you. Anything.” And he means it. “You must know yourself, Richard. You must learn to know yourself. You have been swimming with discord…” He looks gravely at Richard. “I don’t know what you mean,” says Richard. Remy only shakes his head. “You do know,” he says. “You know in your heart.” Richard tries to lean in to kiss Remy again, but this time Remy pushes his face away and shakes his head sadly.

“We cannot be together, it would not be right,” he says. “And I am just a messenger.” Richard does not respond, he only frowns at Remy. “You said you loved me,” he whines. He feels hurt, as if he has known Remy for years, for lifetimes, as if his heart has just been ripped out of his chest and stomped on. Remy puts his hand on Richard’s heart and Richard feels heat course into him and warm him. He calms down, and he feels the floodgates holding back his tears momentarily strengthen.

“I must go now,” Remy says. “And by the way… you got it wrong.” “I did?” Richard asks. He does not know what Remy is talking about. Remy grins at him. “Yes,” he says. “I didn’t stop existing at all.” He stands up and kisses his fingertips, then places them on Richard’s lips. “God loves you so much,” he says, and then he turns his back and walks away. On the back of his hooded sweatshirt in large white letters is the number “44.” “I…” Richard whispers. “I love you, too,” he says, as if God is sitting beside him. And indeed, God is. Over the speaker, for some reason Dean Martin begins to sing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” all over again.

"We're having so much fun with the poisonous people,
spreading rumors and lies and stories they made up." - Bowie

grace society
"Scrier" (my first novel)

Last edited by michael christopher; 02-10-2009 at 04:21 AM.
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