August 13th, 2008


Fiction: Staying Busy, part V - Dreams

The Fortress of Magnitude - a combination of Magnificent and Solitude - epitomized its very name. On Google Earth, she was one of the two-or-so dozen, non-government-related indistinguishable blurs; in person, she looked like a stone slab on the side of Mount Stool on the edge of the California Rockies. Kurt had her constructed that way to deter the many fanboys who either wanted to harm him physically or love-him-in-the-middle-of-the-night ... physically.

On the inside, it had the look of a log cabin with the feel of a penthouse office. Instead of windows, artificial sunlight alongside artificial countryside gave the illusion of outdoorsiness. Instead of flipping on a switch or having it imitate the climate and rotation of the Earth in reality - in real time, where if it rained outside, it would look like rain inside The Fortress of Magnitude - Kurt opted to keep it perpetually summer, sunny with clear skies 14 hours a day.

In spite of the fact that he hadn't been published since the final Dark Horse book, Kurt continued to write consistently, and this is where he did it. Sometimes he'd run up here for a quick mid-week barnstorm, sometimes he'd be away from Palace Defcon for months. His time here wasn't relegated solely to writing, but his writing WAS relegated solely to the Fortress of Magnitude.

Contractors, Hank the driver, and Aaron aside, no one else had ever been invited; indeed, no one else even knew of its location. Hikers and climbers have been all over and around its facade, never the wiser. This was Kurt's detox facility. Often he'd come here to relieve himself of the burden of conversation. It was also Aaron's lone opportunity for reprieve, since more often than not Kurt wanted nothing to do with him or anybody else when he was sober. Aaron would ride up with him, see if the supplies were taken care of - the essentials: cigarettes, iced tea, deli meats, and corn - and only return if anything needed replenishment. Every once in a while, though, Aaron would stay, whenever Kurt felt like being unproductive. They'd zone out on video games and candy, reverting back to their boyhood habits in body and spirit. From riding adult-sized big wheels like they did at five, to staying up late in their sleeping bags talking about girls they liked like they did at 15. In spite of all the shit that had happened between them, their bond remained unmatched.

This was one of those kinds of trips to the Fortress of Magnitude.

The long drive and the hangover put Kurt to bed less than an hour after the artificial sun set. His final instruction to Aaron was to stay up smoking cigars; he felt the Fortress of Magnitude needed to smell classier than it did.

Kurt frequently talked in his sleep, to his own ignorance. Most of the time, the words that came out of his mouth made no sense. But every so often Kurt would be practically lucid, and Aaron knew right away what he was dreaming about.

"Damn you Johnny Carter! I'll sick my buddy on you if you don't stop pickin' on me!"

The Bi-Labial Fricative


I had a funny thought as I was finishing up my post-bowling 3-mile run: if I met myself, would I be friends with myself?

It's impossible to know the full truth on that one, but as a follow-up, I had this notion: it's impossible for me to be friends with someone I don't respect. Now, pretty much I would think that's a worldwide given for most people, unless you're so insecure that you need to be around people who are worse-off than you to feel better about yourself. I'm just the opposite though, I can't be friends with someone unless they're BETTER than me in some way. You gotta have something to bring to the table, which the people I consider my friends have in spades. Smart, funny, outgoing, endless knowledge of sports, Saved By The Bell, writing, whathaveyou. And not to sound EXTREMELY demeaning, but since I really don't have all that much respect for myself, it shouldn't be too hard to qualify as my friend. There you go, I went and offended everyone.

This is the thing, though; in returning to my initial question, considering my lack of self-respect, WOULD I be friends with myself? I mean, I'd have to look at me and think, "There's a fat, balding nobody who couldn't get a girl if he tried; you sir are One Pathetic Loser!" And I wouldn't be all that far off. But, in getting to know myself, I'd have to pull a u-turn and think, "This guy's got a superb taste in music. And he seems to have a good head on his shoulders, I really dig his simpatico ideas. And hey! What a helluva writer, I could read his shit all damn day; I wonder why he isn't published ... and so HUMBLE he is!" Et cetera, et cetera.

So I dunno. I'm really not much for giving people chances; I kinda harbor my superficial prejudices and stick to them until the bitter end.

I thought about this as I passed by a house on my block where this black family used to live. They had a son who was semi-retarded (or just really obnoxious with a grating stutter, I can't remember) and made it his mission for a good six months to be my best friend. I'm sorry, but I'm just incapable of the requisite pity required to be somebody's best friend just because he's the new kid on the block. Give me SOMETHING! If he had a solid Ninja Turtle collection or season tickets to the Seahawks we could've talked.

Of course, I could just be a little bit racist. It's possible.

We're all a little bit racist, right?

There have been many a douchebag I've systematically cut out of my life simply because I couldn't help but look down on them. I know that sounds tragically deplorable, but no less true. Besides, I don't need all that many friends to begin with. And it just makes me cherish that much more the ones who put up with me. Because if they were like me, I doubt they'd have the requisite pity required to put up with yours truly.
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