Ants & Rats

After Id drunk most of the whiskey with Yeoh, I felt much keener, and decided to go sit in the surf and try and piece together what was real and what was not.  From the abstracted flashes of memory, convoluted layerings of reality became inseparable from fantasy.

            It had begun with mushrooms.  Yesterday, I and Yeoh, as usual, were drinking in the bar.  Then mushrooms.  Then the costume.  Then the beach.  And something else.  Id talked to Yeoh extensively, and felt an overwhelming empathy for the guy, like wed swapped minds.

            Mushrooms were entheogens generators of the god within. When I took them, reality became quantifiable in terms of extreme logical ordering, the system of cause and effect that connected all events, people and places became observable, a perceivable phenomenon. I could look into an object and see its birth, its history, the journey of its composite parts to be here today. I gave thanks to factory workers labouring so I could have glass bottles for my beer, rejoiced in thousands of years of culture for developing brewing so I could taste beer, applauded the efforts of the distant Japanese for inventing the camera so I could take photographs of all my friends. Not that I ever took any photos anymore, but the gratitude still lingered on that I could if I was so inclined.

            It struck me that I had a mum. That we all had mothers. Every person in this planet had burst forth from another, who had emerged from another, and so on, down a line of seemingly limitless length, begetting one another with biblical perserverance. I could not grasp where would we be without the kind efforts of so many countless mother beings, giving up there life, there youth, there beauty, acting so selflessly as to successfully rear a child.

            It applied to the kindly efforts of so many anonymous beings who had worked and slaved and lived to provide this world we lived in. Those who built this fine bar we could sit at and the roof we sheltered under, those who built the roads, and worked to make films for us to watch, who cultivated drugs and prepared food, flew planes to bring people here. I was so thankful for everything, for everyones efforts.

            It was exhausting. The human neuronetwork is not designed for sustained exposure to the cosmic omnipotence of gods. I imagined it like an ant, suddenly becoming aware of every single other ant in its nest, of all the other ants in all the nests of the forest, for a split second becoming the hivemind embodied, and understanding each and every individual segment, process and performance perfectly. From day today, we exist as a single solitary ant, touching antennae with the others that we pass, vaguely aware of the bigger picture, the collective unconsciousness of so many millions around us coexisting. I had visited the strange realms of hallucination and universal empathy enough times to bring back fragmented memories of what it felt like, but always they faded, always the pathetic neural linkings of my mind crumbled and collapsed, relinquishing the specifics, leaving me with only the vague notion, but the definite certainty, that forever how briefly, I had seen. I had glimpsed the infinite. I just couldnt remember what it looked like.

            Yeoh again drifted into my mind. A fine man indeed, I was most fortunate to have discovered such an ally in these alien lands. Yeoh was a freak. He spoke brilliant English from when he had lived in England. Often he had told me tales of his time there, working as a tattooist for a loco Mexicano in South London. He had told me of how he had lived, spending £40 a day on crack, £40 a day on heroin, getting higher than the sun before plunging into the warm opium bath to cover his come-down, repeating the pattern daily for weeks, months, years, until his final epiphanous realisation.

            The image struck so clearly in my mind. He had become such a heavy user that he had started developing blood-clots, so the doctor had given him rat poison Warfarin to thin his blood. They give it to rats and they bleed to death in the dark. Yeoh took it and carried on using. Of course, when he injected the heroin into his much abused arms and legs, the pinholes never stopped bleeding, so he awoke once his high was over to find himself bathed in his own blood, red from head to foot, on a mattress soaked in filth and bodily fluids.

            He had stopped that very day, saying it had not been the first time he had emerged from a drug-frenzy, covered in blood. Only this time he was thankful it was his own. Both times had caused him to alter the way he lived.

            I had told countless drifting tourists variations on the history of our companionship.  I could no longer remember the real relationship, whether he or I owned, ran or lived in the bar.  Even who came first to this island purgatory seems sketchy.  We both just blew in one day, climbed behind the bar and never left.  No-one ever came to challenge us, just curious how a sun-scorched superhero and a tattooed Thai should end up in cahoots, lords of a beach bar in Ko Pha Ngan.

            Today, a fellow suspiciously resplendant in a robe and shaven head queries with come-down keenness, perched at the bar, sipping the fire delight of his Samson whiskey, his eyes alive with interest in the current arrangement of the universe.  He looked like Ghandi, on holiday from humanitarianism, taking in the beach life in Thailand.

            So youre a superhero?  And youre a barman?  And you own this bar?

            No, we rent, said Yeoh.

            That seemed true enough.  Yeoh took care of all the money.  I vaguely remembered some money exchanging hands many moons ago.  It was unimportant now.  I wanted to play.

            We were originally fierce enemies, but we joined forces to quench thirst across the beach.

            But what about before, what did you do?

            I saved people.  I slapped my chest for emphasis.  Ghandi squirrels his head around to peek at Yeoh.

            Yeoh smiled.

            I killed people.

            The shaven-headed interrogator remained unfazed.  How many?

            Yeoh shrugged.  Enough.

            Something struck me.  One is too many, but a thousands never enough!

            I was laughing, but it was a drunken release, my mind already unhinged by alcohol and speed and the constant lull of the waves washing the beach, gradually sweeping more and more of it out to sea.  This bar, this beach, these strange dreamlike figures were all I knew, all I could remember.  The day before, the day before that, and so on, all blended into one irrelevant slur of memory, a trashpile of sunburnt faces, terrible stories and vomit washed up in the surf.

            But the cliff was there, the cliff and the flight, the flight all the way home, off this damned beach and this planet and off into the stars

            Before I knew it I was ranting out-loud, verbal diarrhea slurrying from my mouth into the ears of whoever would listen.

            I used to fly, to fight, to soar!  Maybe youve heard of me, because I sure havent!   Defender of the innocent, wrathful assailant of all evil-doers!

            I whipped my cloak around me and performed a cartwheel across the dancefloor.  I felt pretty good about myself.  I was bound to remember how to fly sometime soon.  But somethings happened, my enemies have trapped me here, deprived me of my super-powers.  Powers of flight, of clairvoyance, of super-speed and super-strength.  And my memory They did something to my memory …”

            I crawled back on to my stool at the bar, accepting another drink and a filter cigarette. 

            Shaven-headed man patted me on the back: Dont worry brother, itll come back to you.

            All I have to do is remember how to fly, fly away off that cliff, and itll all come flooding back, I know it.  I lit up, exhaling twin jets like a fighter-plane exhaust from my nostrils.

            The night wearily dragged on to the perpetual lull of waves, and eventually the bottle was empty, the bar was empty, my stomach was empty, I was empty of words, and in the emptiness I fell asleep in the hammock.

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~ by mightyjahj on January 30, 2009.

One Response to “Ants & Rats”

  1. Interesting stuff. My own prose webcomic is at wereviking.wordpress.com. Check it out?

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