Wake up. There’s poop on the carpet. A thumb-tack on the stairs. There is no probable way that I could step on it. No way. Stare at my foot. There is a thumb-tack in my toe. There is shit on my heels.
At the coffee shop, there’s a large man behind the counter. “What kind of coffee would you like?”
“The liquid kind.” The fleshy mountain looks puzzled. He looks concerned. He asks me if I’m okay. “It’s 6 in the morning. It’s cold. Give me my coffee.”
“There’s no need to be rude…”
I chug the coffee. “Hit me again.”
“That’s the spirit,” I tell him. I want to make fun of him. I want to judge him. I want to make him feel bad so that I feel good. Grit my teeth. Swirl coffee in my mouth until it feels like I have swallowed the balls of the grim reaper and they are about to exit my maw with projectile speed. Fatty. Fatty fat fat. Fucking fatty, I tell him in my mind.
Outside, it’s freezing cold. The windshield iced up in the two minutes I was gone. Two fucking minutes, and now I can’t see a goddam thing.
Driving to work. Coffee in the cup holder. Phone on the passenger seat. Earpiece nestled next to my brain – the brain of Trent Fucking Lewin, deranged and sinking fast into a long bed of snow, in the country of Canadaland where everyone is just so polite.
Phone rings. It’s Umba from Strasburg. “Trenty! Hello Trenty! How are you? Did you hear? Price of oil has dropped to $40 a barrel!”
I hit the brakes and swerve to the left, over a snowbank and into a gas station. There’s no one here. Not a soul. Somehow, people aren’t buying gas at 5:30 in the morning. The man behind the counter is not white but I don’t know what colour to call him; it’s something in between something else, a new colour, a fresh entry into the palette of humanity. “I’m not mugging you!” I tell him.
“I know that, sir. But thank you for letting me know.”
“Give me a barrel of oil. Right now.”
His eyebrow rises. “We don’t sell those.” And he starts to argue with me. He argues with Trent Lewin, as though he has the right to provide poor service, as though he can restrict me from getting what’s coming. I wonder how can he stand there, in his red uniform top, and recite his product list and company policies to me… the customer Trent. The money-laden Trent Lewin, only looking for a means of expanding his great fortune by squatting on barrels of oil that he’ll hoard in his basement and use to build a play fort.
Outside, I fill up the car. Fill it right full. Overfill it until the gasoline shoots out the fill-hole, onto the asphalt. I hold up the nozzle. I squirt some of the gold stuff into the air. “70 cents a litre,” I tell the person who’s pulled up. “Fuck yeah.” And the last drop out of the nozzle, I put on my tongue.
I’m at work. I’m at work. The carpet is freezing. The coffee is shit. Phone rings, “Hello, was wondering if I could place an order for a startling quantity of shitballs topped with a heaping helping of fuck-off.”
“I can do that for you.” In the coffee room, someone’s left a quarter of a pie on the counter. Fuck. That’s so good. I’m so glad, because I don’t know what the fuck I would have done had I not come into work and had access to a used pie in a disgusting tin foil tray, something that’s probably been hanging out in a basement refrigerator the last five days. I take a piece. I take the rest. I mash it into my mouth. I swirl it around.
“Whoa… hungry this morning?” says Sia.
“Don’t judge me,” I tell her. “Don’t judge me.”
Don’t judge me. But let me judge you, is what I mean. Sia – how could you wear a top like that? Is it modest enough? Is it the right colour? The body underneath – slim enough? Healthy enough? Let me inspect your cubicle. Let me see what you’ve stashed in the secret places, what illicit substances and other fun things. I will expose you. I will hold you up by your ear, Sia. Carry your head through the office like a prize.
“Why are you staring at me?” she asks.
“No pie left.”
Back at my desk. The phone rings. It rings and it rings and it rings until I’m ringing with it, the embodiment of western culture and civilization, the voice on the other end of the phone when the rest of the world calls, the gateway to a perfect existence – to Trent P. Lewin, holder of the keys to prosperity, who gets to work. Who answers the phone.
“…put your hands in the holes of my sweater.”
The music’s playing. The bed is warm. The house is dark.
This screen is staring at me. This rectangular overlord. This oddly-lit monolith. And it’s telling me I had better write something. That this is required. Write something great. Something brilliant. Something snappy and insightful that will let everyone know how fucking genius I am, how choked full of clever observation and minor complaint dressed up as new-age philosophy and discourse. This was how Plato started. This is how Einstein did it. So why can’t you, Trent Lewin – says the computer screen – just sit here and create something marvelous? What’s wrong with you? What’s your problem – that you’re too warm? Too rich? Too comfortable? Too without hardship and now all you have left is catastrophe in the form of a thumb-tack in your foot, or a guy at the gas station who won’t sell you a barrel of oil because it’s obscene? It is obscene. It is.
Write something. So I do. I decide that I am going to get back at evildoers. At the true cancer of the world. Oh yes, I read the news. I consume it. And there are terrorists in the world, so I aim at them first. “Better be brilliant!” says the computer screen. And it is. I show them an image of their Prophet first, because… it’s obscene. Because it will hurt someone. Because that’s who I am, someone who wants to rage and get back at them by hurting them. And so down the toilet bowl we spiral, fated for the sewers with the rest of the sludge. Question Trent Lewin on his brilliance? His commentary? You can’t. Because now it’s satire, and it’s my right, and it’s so fucking clever that we don’t have a meaningful thing else left to say, not one serious word or thought or reaction to the calamities and crimes of the world except to heap our cleverness on the injustices that have already been done, and to jab back.
I send it out. I send my words into the world. I feel better because I am mean. I elevate my species by tearing down my fellow human beings. But the computer screen is still staring at me. After all these words, it’s still empty.
I’m in the mall. You’re in the mall. We’re all in the mall. There’s a sale on lingerie. A discount on tea. Old people stare at glass. Teenagers hang on my every word, blowing smoke out their crapholes.
I’m eating spring rolls. And donut holes. Sipping a beer. A news-ticker on the screen above tells me that I’m not right in the head. That I don’t think about things properly. That I should rage against the infidels, even the ones that have the exact same shape, size and social security number as me. The news-ticker tells me that a bomb went off somewhere. That the oceans are acidifying. That most of the countries where we send our foreign aid money practice torture. That those bankers who mucked up my savings account are back on Wall Street, rolling the dice again.
And I get up. This is where Trent Fucking Lewin gets up. And drops his pants. And takes off his shirt. And stands on the table.
“Oh my God!” someone screams. But here I am. Nothing is hidden. These words are real. This is what I look like. I don’t know how I got here. How I managed to become a cog in the wheel that is flattening us. How ideals and dreams floated away; how a good world became that world, someone else’s world. And now no world at all.
“Sir, you need to put your clothes on,” says a security guard.
I point my penis at him and strike a pose. “Fuck yeah.”
“Sir… please. You’re scaring the children. And the elderly people. And the food preparation experts. And the retail sales managers. And the mall superintendents.”
“What about the security guards?”
He shrugs. And then I’m off. Arms pump. Kiosks fly by. A little dark-haired girl still tries to sell me make-up. There’s the electronics store; the video cameras make me look larger, more bloated – and while it’s not flattering, while it’s not kind to the naked image of Trent P. Lewin, at least it leaves out the crimes, because I am without doubt sinless, and you are only going to get run over by my naked soul if you try to judge me. Don’t judge me. Don’t judge me! Grocery store aisle – naked in the ice cream fridge. Produce, dry-humping the cabbage. Men’s formal wear store – thrusting in the tri-mirrors until I’ve fogged up the place.
The fountain in the middle of the mall, skinny-dipping. Feeling the waves. Feeling the waves.
“Are you quite done, sir?” asks the security guard. “We have a lot of footage of your little run.”
“Who are you calling little…”
He looks at me. He’s old, wrinkled, the type the world’s ready to throw away. I know what he means. Every year that passes, my body gets older. And my heart ages twice as fast. He escorts me back to my stack of clothes. Gives me a bottle of water. Takes me to my car and makes sure I drive away. Far away.
On the way to work, I wonder, and this is what I think. I REMEMBER clearly a time when I actually had the idealism to believe that there is some commonness to people – that if they lash out at me, I will find a better way to respond than lashing back. I REMEMBER a time when I accepted, and didn’t judge. I REMEMBER a time when I didn’t complain about everything, especially the tiny things that I should probably be glad to have the opportunity to be irritated about. I REMEMBER. I truly do – I REMEMBER a Trent Lewin who saw a different way. But he’s gone. He’s under my tires. And that guy who just cut me off – I just want to get out of my car and beat the shit out of him. I don’t know. Maybe I could get back to that other Trent. Maybe I could find him again. He’s probably hiding out in the bush, surrounded by snow and necking with the maple trees in hopes of landing the sweet stuff. But where would I get the time to find him? How do you even think about trying, when your weeks are only five days long?