There’s only one person at the deli counter, no need to tear off a number. The woman being served wants twelve little boys, which you may know as cocktail frankfurters, or cheerios. I know, cheerios, what a joke. Supposedly made from lips and arse. She must be having a kids party. Kids love processed pig sphincters. And kids get what they want these days. It’s the least we can do since we know deep inside that we spawned these little unfortunates into the most crazy fucked up human world ever to have existed. Cheerio – make sense now, when you think of it.
Now she wants a dozen chicken wings. All bone and sinew with a light dusting of hormone induced meat, perfect for children entering this brave new world. Happy birthday, Hermoine. She is deciding if she will get the wings in a marinade or plain. The boy-come-young-man serving, is wearing knee high white gum boots, which you may know as Wellingtons, or erroneously, as galoshes. He looks at me from under a white disposable hair-net and smiles to apologise for the woman’s tardiness, but not to worry, you will be next.
The woman chooses soy and honey, cheaper than plain anyway – the supermarket can explain if you bother to ask. Now she wants olives. Of course, parents will be coming. You can’t leave children by themselves at someone else’s house these days. You would be charged with negligence. Spies from the Attachment Parenting Society would report you to the police with new powers granted by the new conservative party who landslided into government right under our new progressive noses.
A man has come along and grabbed a number. He looks up at the red digital Now Serving display – 058 – and then at his ticket. I see the look of satisfactory correlation on his face. The slight limbic pang of losing my spot is counterbalanced by my knowledge that the boy serving knows my face and my position. I should be fine. Though, never certain, I consider grabbing a number just in case.
While distracting myself by looking through curved glass at the array of culturally appropriated refrigerated delicacies illuminated by dozens of fluorescent tubes, more consumers come and take numbers. Shit.
As though on call, a co-worker, sans white gum boots, arrives from out the back through scratched translucent door flaps. She knows the gig.
The man with the number curves himself over the glass and whispers his order – just a little bit over 120 grams of not so secret champagne ham, as it turns out.
Another worker, this time from the seafood department, appears.
My only saviour, the boy in the white gum boots, the only one who knows I am next, finishes up with the kid’s party woman, looks at his watch, swipes the hair net off his head and exits through those scratched translucent door flaps that I am unable to name.
An Anonymous Blogger’s Gift to the Future
Vernix Amniotic, cheesy emerging fantasy writer, blogs every Friday. Their latest entry has three likes and one share. Note the use of ‘their’: Vernix’s gender is undisclosed. An analysis of textual forms and vocabulary is inconclusive, with evidence of a her and/or a him present in their online short stories, open letters, poetry, and Friday posts.
Vernix wants to publish, in stone, a manifesto for the next rising civilisation. They believe to know why human civilisations have gone boom-bust, then boom-bust again and again, up until now with humanity in the biggest boom of all time and with the biggest and most catastrophic bust of all time looming, if not already commenced. The gist of their idea is in the title of the soon to be, chipped-into-granite, manifesto:
“It’s Not Our Blood, It’s The Story That’s Faulty”
Note the quotation marks, underlining, italics, small caps, bold font, and capitalisation of every word in the title, which have been lambasted by their often critical, sometimes abusive, guest commentators.
Vernix Amniotic has twelve followers.
The general crux of the manifesto is that long ago some human, perhaps affected by some hallucinogenic fungi accidentally ingested while out hunting and/or gathering, told their tribe a now familiar story. It was the first hero’s journey story ever uttered by Homo sapiens. It contained all the now indisputably essential elements and structures of narrative fiction. It was a smash hit with the tribe and quickly spread to other tribes. Soon, the human psyche became so hopelessly infected with this story form that it became oblivious to all that it could be anything other than something that was innately built into our very being. Hard wired into our brains, coded on our DNA, or, in our blood, as so eloquently phrased by Vernix.
Vernix claims that the root of the hero’s journey is a fundamental lie. It is the lie that Homo sapiens is a flawed being. The lie became a belief and gave rise to all religions. The original sin of Christianity being a prime example. The eternal cycle of birth and death, the struggle to rise above our incarnate imperfections and afflictions as detailed in Hindusim and Buddhism, being examples from the East.
Sadly, Vernix argues, even atheists still carry the burden of the fundamental lie that humans are flawed. They explain how Hobbesian philosophy, and poor interpretations of Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory of natural selection, serve only to perpetuate our horrible ignorance. An ignorance that has us full of self loathing and constantly striving to get ahead. Thus, civilisations go boom-bust, ad infinitum.
Vernix’s truth is that we are as perfect as nature can be, as beautiful as a flower, or a lion hunting wildebeest, or a volcano inducing a red sunset and subsequent nuclear winter. And this needs to be carved in stone so that next time people don’t write anymore silly hero’s journeys.
Update: They, Vernix Amniotic, has eleven followers.
Ocean Eyes and Pumpernickel, Somewhere down by the Coast
That night, when we finally met, it was only a stone’s throw from the beach where we once both dwelt; when we were young and unaware of each other. It was the place to be, or so thought many; a city beach buffered from big-city issues. Yet something was off. The suburb infected with lies and pretence, full of Peyton Place manufactured dramas, subtle and not so subtle stratification, exclusive exclusiveness, cruelty.
We moved away. Separately, we test drove other beaches. All measured up against the archetypal headlands and yellow sands of our adolescent stomping ground. That formative beach, imprinted on our once impressionable minds. We sought out community anywhere and everywhere along that thin strip between the range and the sea. Idyllic iconic stretches and nooks being systematically despoiled as we searched. At various postcodes in various states of mind, we tried our hands at life anew.
When we hit rock bottom it was the coast that soothed and healed us. Not family, not work, not politics, and not religion. It was that mass of salty water rhythmically heaving itself up onto the land that brought us peace, and hope.
Nor-easters, southerly busters, glassy morning swells. High tides, low tides. Cyclones. Cowry shells and shiny black seeds. Days filled, successions of peaks and trough. We learnt a lot about the world and ourselves. Weathered smooth and resilient.
So meeting when we did was actually as perfect as it can be. Both of us ready, through the riddance of rubbish ideas and the awakening from false beliefs and childish dreams. Ready, through the shedding of damaged people beyond our repair. Setting them free, just as we freed ourselves.
Refusing to settle for second rate realities.
You can draw it inside a circle with two lines, one wavy line coming from three o'clock and into the centre, the other line straight and sloping up all the way from four o'clock to ten o'clock. And it has to be that way and not the other way around. East coast. That is how we both drew it that night, you left handed, me with the right. This is how we orientate to it. Somehow, this is how it orientates us. The coast, where you and I are found.
How we drew the coast that night.
Drifting on together towards a final place. A beach and a headland free of the flotsam and jetsam of our past personal shipwreckings. A place where we put down roots. Not the offspring kind of roots, that has been done with different people in different times. Scars remain, but no longer pain us. We breathe new air. Our lungs revived.
Our trips north and south continue. We camp, we swim, we ask the sea gulls. No hurry. Many waves yet to be underwater body-surfed. Tracks to make in dynamic dunes, daily, twice daily.
Inhabiting, creating, just being. Just being somewhere down by the coast.
Me and you. Ocean Eyes and Pumpernickel.