“Oooo-oui! That looks like some of that “High Powered Rocket Fuel” I’ve been hearing so much about lately!” said Wesley, wide-eyed. His breathing was in clumps, rolling out of him and down his chest as he handled the unmarked bottle of clear viscuous liquid Norman had produced from his orange satchel, twirling it slowly like a rotisserie gas-station hotdog, the liquid shuffling over itself in globs.
“Ah, why, yes Wes, it is some of that “High Powered Rocket Fuel”, replied Norman, tongue poking out of the edge of his mouth.
Things were getting out of hand; I wasn’t sure why I came here. There are those evenings when one realizes the exact proportions of their own depth only the moment after they’ve plunged slightly below, slightly too far to get back. Wes of course is a Mariana Trench of spiritual and psychic exploration- this I know. But evenings like this, when Wes puts on his multi-colored lights and that music, and strong drinks gave way to various strains of bud, and normal conversation turns mystical, and that strange aura burns off Wes and you feel it too, to say nothing of Wesley’s strange friends like Norman, who take too many washroom trips and spend slightly too much time in there and then foment a certain sinister weirdness- these evenings tend to sweep you away; High Powered Rocket Fuel hardly seems out of place. I am compelled.
“Well, let’s see what all the fuss is about” I say. Jesus! Why did I say that!
“Howard! Good man!” Wesley eyes appear to glow blue. He uncaps the bottle, tilts it, viscuous fluid inching towards him. “How much do I need?” he asks.
“Not much. A sip will do; a gulp will probably be over-doing.”
“Ha! Well, Norm, I’d be nothing if not a gulper and one who belabors any point that could be made. Here’s a point…of departure! Ha! Let’s go there! Let’s just abandon rational thought for the rest of tonight!” He takes a considerable chug; his face contorts and scrunches. “Good Lord! Miserable! It’s like eating glue!”
“It helps if you drink something with it.”
“Fucking right.” Norman has already taken a sip. I try to gauge how much he’s taken, but depth perception has become an issue for me.
The bottle is in my right hand. The liquid looks like molasses, clear, thick, granules of varying size floating around at varying paces.
“Jesus, it’s like a cosmos, uh, a galaxy!”. I’ve just said that aloud; no indication, thankfully, of either of them hearing me….or Spencer. Spencer! I forgot: Spencer is on the couch, passed out; he surpassed his depth almost immediately and has drowned, metaphorically speaking. Although, in the red and green light emanating from Wesley’s lamps, Spencer looks….spectral. Wrong word, probably. Jesus, I shouldn’t be drinking any of this. A sip, though; a sip.
But, of course, its more than a sip; tooooo drunk. A paste-like texture, warm; I imagine akin to eating damp paper towel.
“How quick does this work?” I stutter.
“Now” says Norman. He cocks an eyebrow; tongue now drooping out of the left side of his mouth, a curt and tense smirk slowly ascending up his face. His facial hair looks like writhing ants. Oh god: horrible paranoia: I can’t trust Norman.
Don’t trust Norman. He just wants to get us fucked up to laugh at us, or worse. But he is Wes’ friends….Jesus. I feel as though my legs are being slowly hoisted up in a hospital bed. It seems as though I can imagine a scenario of hospitalization for what seems to be intestinal inflammation whilst still maintaining stuttering conversation with Wes, who is now victim to a fit of giggles.
“Right now, I really want to watch television; I hope to God it works! I’d be devastated, just DEVASTATED otherwise! Hahaha!” he howls, head tilted back on the couch.
Television: Soccer Highlights: Sunderland against Newcastle: Sunderland wins in dramatic fashion at the last moment: Paulo Di Canio, manager of Sunderland, runs up and down the touchline screaming, leaping, punching the air.
“Hahahaha! He’s a LUNATIC! And a NAZI!” bellows Wesley. “And just look at those grub-faced people in the stands! Jesus. 40,000 people sitting together to watch teenagers kick a ball! My god! We’re all insane!”
This shit is hitting me weird. The room is normal beyond optical effects that my earlier combination of substances tends to produce, but my brain feels like a computer. I begin to understand the connectivity of synapses, veins, musculature; I am conceptualizing my body in exquisite detail. Flashes of my earlier hospital bed imaginings: Doc says I got the worms.
Television: A Show Called “Morgan Freeman Is God”, wherein Morgan Freeman explains all of phenomenological reality. This is Wesley’s favorite show.
“My savior! Norman! Have you seen this show before?”
“No”. Norman looks metallic in the easy-chair, inert, overly-observant; a fucking human-android drone.
Jesus, that can’t be real; but if it were real, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. Like, I imagine, easily, that Norman could in fact be a highly sophisticated robot designed to spy on random people purely for the sake of spying on random people, an avatar of common experience. Like, people just watch video of this fucking robot going around living a normal (Oh my god! NORMal! That would make sense!), uh, a normal human life- well normal in the sense that using recreational drugs would be normal; just pure voyeurism and scopophilia to the max. And idiots would watch it, too.
“Ha! You said it! Yes, Norm, this show is amazing. Did you know that Morgan Freeman understood the universe when he was a child?” Norman gives a noiseless chuckle. I don’t like him; his vibes are no good. And this shit is hitting me really weird; various strains of thought and cognition seem to be trailing off like laundry lines from my forehead, branching out in every direction; reverberating phrases repeated over one another until it becomes a mash of noise.
“When I was boy I was fascinated by my shadow”
“Ha! I TOLD you! Wait for the visuals!”
“It seemed strange to me that the only way I could perceive light was its absence. It made me wonder: what is nothing? Does it have tangible properties? Could it in fact be….something…after all?”
“Hahahahahahahaha!” Wesley’s laughter is enveloping the room, like that pink insulator shit behind the walls; like it’s coming from the walls. Good Lord!
On the television: sudden zoom into Morgan Freeman’s right eye, in which is contained the Milky Way; continued zoom towards the patch of the Milky Way which contains the Solar system; faster zoom, past the Oort Cloud, past what one assumes is Pluto, over Neptune, under Uranus, between the rings of Saturn, right next to the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, its many moons hurtling past like beads of sweat, continuing through a multitude of asteroids, past Mars, Earth growing larger and larger in the screen; slower zoom, through clouds, towards north America, over the mid-west, birds eye view towards a city, streets, trees, apartment, through the ceiling- stop, hovering now, fly-on-the-ceiling view overlooking a living room: a young man wearing a paisley robe drinks liberally from an unmarked bottle containing a viscous and clear liquid; another sits sprawled in a bean bag chair, appearing to be stoned to the gills; a figure who has been lying down sits up and looks at the television, which portrays the very same room.
“Woah! Its us!” Spencer shouts. Woah! Its us! Shouts the figure on the television. Atop a manikin whose head has been removed is a camera. Cut to said camera: pov : man on the floor heaves with ruptures of silent laughter; man on bean bag looks on in utter horror; man on couch begins drinking from the unmarked bottle.
I look up and see a moth or cricket or spider or some fucking bug on the ceiling; it does not appear to have a camera attached to it. Looking back at the television, I see Wesley’s face contorted with manic laughter bathed in orange light on the screen.
“Wait!” He shouts, channelling to some random tennis match amid more rippling giggling. “I’ve got an idea. My apartment is perfect for like, a talk show!”
“What?” I’m confused. Spencer lies back down and is again unconscious; his non-prescription glasses fall to the floor.
“I agree” says Norman, scratching at his chin.
“Yes! We’re going to film it, too, from each of our own perspectives, then we can edit it and do shit with tryptich and whatever else. It’ll be great!”
“Our phones! So let’s make our characters….so I think it should be a literary show, don’t you?”
“Absolutely. Let’s be co-hosts, Wes, and we’ll be interviewing Howard about a new book he’s just published.” Rasps Norm.
“Ooooh yes! You dig that, Howard?”
“I think so.”
“Okay! So, I’ll be called Kyle Francois. Norm, you can be Ryan- or Norm. Co-host; side-kick, yes? Howard, how about Jesse Marks, author?”
“Works for me”. I feel as though someone is hugging me from behind.
“Okay! Great! So, Jesse (hahaha!), wait outside until I come get you; we’ll just like, roll with it. You can improv, right? Hahaha! Okay!”
He seems different. Wesley is one to take a bit or joke or whatever as far as it will go, and he seems to have created a backstory for this character known only to him.
Outside is cold. Wesley lives near a small creek, and I can hear ducks being throttled by an animal that is making a wretched and high-pitched squeal. My phone is on, camera set to video. I am recording Wesley’s door, white, plain, for an unknown amount of time. A disconcerting sense of hollowness enters my mind, that somehow there’s nothing behind this door, that I’ve been duped.
But then Kyle Francois opens the door, and I enter into a room that is bathed in orange, the multi-colored bulbs replaced. A song is playing which sounds like National Health….or something like that. Kyle and Norm are pantomiming laughter and jovial gesturing, Kyle sitting agile and cat-like on the arm of the large blue easy chair where Norm reclines, hands clasped together. Kyle has changed his threads, replaced his robe with red-grey camouflage shorts, a heavy wool plaid jacket, and hiking boots; Norm has put on a snap-brim cap.
“Let’s fade out the music, ” Kyle whispers to Norm. His voice has changed slightly from Wesley’s, which I suppose makes sense since he isn’t Wesley…
“Welcome, welcome to another episode of the….show. This week we have the pleasure of having Jesse Marks, who’s just put out a new novel. But first: Norm, would you offer Jesse a drink?”
“Of course! Jesse….what’ll you drink?”
“Ahhh, well, I’m a whiskey man, in truth….uhhhhh” I’m toooo drunk and toooo stoned and tooooo Rocket Powered. Kyle is talking in a bizarre mixture of antiquated idioms and a vibrant jutting hep-type vernacular. Norm returns with a glass that is half whiskey and half High Powered Rocket Fuel.
They begin discussing the newest book Jesse Marks has written about a man who grapples with the conflicting religious beliefs of his Scientologist father and his Orthordox Jewish mother amid the chaos of the immediate aftermath of 9/11 in NYC. I watch, live, on my phone’s camera as Jesse Marks responds in listing, slurred, nonsensical answers, punctuated with crude grunts and curses. None of it makes any sense. Kyle is tossing a pen in the air and catching between his fingers:
“But what does the protagonist WANT! What does he want! Norm, his protagonist wants something, I ask him what that is!”
“Kyle, I’d say given the motivational ambiguity, perhaps the protagonist, Roger, wants what he already has.”
“Ahhh splendid! Do you agree, Jesse?”
“Uhhhhh….I just wanted to convey a man’s attempt to connect to a natural truth in the face of an artificial….uhhhhh…”
“What about your controversial over-use of semi-colons?”
“Shit…maaan…..9/11 WAS a fucking semi-colon in history….shiiit”
Fade to Black.