I Fell Through Hell

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Because it was bored and had little else to do but support my head while my body shut down to replenish itself, my pillow took advantage of the moment by whispering my destiny in my ear in the dead of night during that flash second of waking from a nightmare, the moment where the line between illusion and reality blurred, when fear tangled around the heart like a sweat-soaked bedsheet.

Heaven holds no place for you.

It spoke to me in English but with a tongue drenched in an accent I was unable to place. Some dead language known only to pillows, I supposed.

It first happened when I was a child and in defiance of all the childhood messages that slipped away unremembered, this one had taken root. I had accepted my fate at a tender age and decided to play the hand I was dealt. And after a lifetime spent in disregard of my fellow man and the consequences of my selfish actions as I baby-stepped my way through my sinful prophecy—I slipped and fell…

Down through the frozen landscape of Niflheim, where the branches, bramble and roots of the World Tree, Yggdrasill, beat my face and tore at my skin. And where Hel, daughter of Loki, stood on the Shore of Corpses, petting the head of Nidhogg, the giant snake that fed on the dead

Carried along on the poisonous snake river, Tuoni, I was brought through Tuonela, a place not wholly unlike Earth under the gloomiest conditions, where the maid of Death, Tytti cast me down further for bringing no provisions as tribute.

Down further, I was injured whist falling onto the Chinavat Bridge, which was thinner than a hair, yet sharper than a blade. The twin four-eyed guardian dogs snapped their jaws at me, judging me based the deeds in my life.

The bridge turns on its side, for my bad deeds outweighed the good, and pitched me into the demon-filled pit below, where the demon Vizaresh dragged me into the House of Lies, a place of disgusting filth, where I was served spoiled food and tortured by demons, hundreds in number, each representing a specific sin, before Apaosha, the demon of drought and thirst, and Zairika, the demon that makes poisons, cast me further down.

Through a lake of fire and and up against an iron wall where I passed through a series of gates guarded by half-animal, half-human creatures named The Blood-Drinker Who Comes From The Slaughterhouse, and The One Who Eats The Excrement Of His Hindquarters, into Duat where my heart was weighed against a feather and eaten by the demon Ammut. Although horrified at the sight of my heart being eaten, I was fascinated by the sight and wanted to watch but I could not stop myself from falling…

Down through Gehenna, a deep and desolate place in which noxious sulfuric gasses hung in the air and flames continuously burned and rained from the sky into rivers of molten metal and where the followers of Moloch sacrificed children in the great fires. My fingertips clutched for purchase on this foundation but a fell…

Down past the nine-headed hydra, into Tartaros, where I was whipped by Tisiphone as I tumbled deeper into the deep black dungeon full of torture and suffering.

Down through Maharaurava where the serpent demon Ruru tried to eat my flesh.

Through Kumbhipaka where I was nearly boiled in hot oil.

Through Diyu where Yama Loki of Naraka condensed the 96,816 hells into 10 sections the Chamber of Tongue Ripping, The Chamber of Scissors, The Chamber of Iron Cycads, the Chamber of Mirror, Chamber of Steamer, Forest of Copper Column, Mountain of Knives, the Hill of Ice, Cauldron of Boiling Oil, Chamber of Ox, Chamber of Rock, Chamber of Pounding, Pool of Blood, Town of Suicide, Chamber of Dismemberment, Mountain of Flames, Yard of Stone Mill, and Chamber of Saw.

Down through Xibalba, where the lords of the afterlife inflicted various odd forms of torture on me such as causing pus to gush from my body, squeezing me until blood filled my throat and I vomited my organs…

Before being cast even lower into rivers filled with blood, scorpions, and pus, where I cascaded over a waterfall to my final death, crashing into oblivion and shattering into millions of pieces…

Only to wake up and hear my pillow whisper in its thick accent, “Hell holds no place for you.” So, again I lost my footing and fell, through limbo this time, into…

Sally forth and be falling into the best patch of hell you can managingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

Open Mic Nite

portland-open-mic-night

Staten Island is easily my least favorite of New York’s five boroughs and there ain’t a damned thing I miss about it. Okay, there is one thing. A pub. A tiny mom and pop tavern with that everybody knows your name ambiance that I didn’t discover until the final two of my nine year stint on the isle. Bored, I popped in for a quick pint and stumbled upon Thursday karaoke night. It made my stay in hell a little more tolerable.

I’ve been searching for something like that here on the West Coast. A non-tourist, non-themed bar, frequented by locals that had the benefit of being divey without being stabby. I think I’ve finally found a contender this past weekend.

I was on my way home and decided to wet my whistle before hopping on the bus, so I used the scientifically proven method of ip, dip, dog shit to select from the three bars within my line of sight.

I chose the smallest of the three and when I opened the door, a guy was suddenly in my face, “Hey, cabrón, you didn’t even say what’s up, cabrón, what the fuck’s up with that, cabrón?” Before I could respond, he got in a good look and followed up with, “Oh, sorry, bro, thought you was some other dude.” Less than ten seconds in and no stab wounds to speak of. I knew that I had chosen wisely.

It was a beer joint, not a wine glass in sight, narrow with an alcove for a pool table and video poker machine. The bartender was dive bar attractive (if you’ve ever spent time in a dive bar, you know exactly what I mean), and

  • was on the back end of her forties
  • used to own a restaurant in Santa Clarita
  • had to find a job after her boyfriend dumped her
  • her friend taught her the ropes behind the bar
  • dropped $500 at bartending school
  • went on a dating site that rhymes with No Way Stupid and met a guy
  • on their second date he took her to Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) and he promptly turned into a dick, so she dumped him and enjoyed her free 10-day India vacation

I knew all this because as the bartender was draping a vinyl cover over the pool table, she was being bombarded by questions from a woman who hailed from Kew Gardens, New York, and was only in town a few days visiting her parents.

So caught up in this conversation, and patiently awaiting the bartender to take my drink order, I failed to notice the graying, horseshoe bald, rail thin near double for Malcolm McLaren setting up equipment. He wore a faded Led Zeppelin tee, skinny jeans and weathered suede cowboy boots and I hadn’t become aware of his presence until he tuned his guitar and interrupted Sade singing Hallelujah with a “check one, check one, check one.

In Staten Island I had stumbled upon karaoke night, here, according to the handwritten poster behind McLaren’s head, it was Open Mic Nite.

A guy in camouflage walked in, lugging an oversized backpack like he just returned from a tour of duty and placed his name on the sign up sheet. He was a twitchy fella and at first I thought it was drugs but he asked the bartender if this was a smoking bar.

She replied, “Dude, this is California. You ain’t gonna find a smoking bar anywhere near here.” which forced Twitchy Backpack to feed his addiction out back in the parking lot.

McLaren took the mic and set the ground rules: Every artist on the list gets two songs the first round and one song each round after until closing time or everybody runs out of songs. Originals or covers, it’s all welcomed.

A woman popped her head in, attempting to bum ciggie butts but was promptly told to kick rocks as she was in violation of the No Cigarette Bumming sign plastered on a nearby wall.

McLaren, as the official host, was first up and opened with the joke, “Cherokee, reservation for a thousand. Your land is ready now” before launching into his folk set.

It’s amazing how the bar cleared out as soon as the open mic went underway. No more than ten people remained and every last one of them was accompanied by a guitar… except for me and Twitchy Backpack.

I’m pretty hazy on all the performers and most of the songs were original but what I can remember is

  • An older gentleman who performed lyrical impressions that all seemed to sound exactly like him.
  • A Russian guy who brought a little R&B to the joint. Not only was his broken English jokes kinda/sorta amusing, but he wasn’t half bad (a compliment coming from me).
  • Twitchy Backpack, who stripped out of his camo jacket down to a filthy white tee with what I assumed were fake blood stains to add a little character. At least I hoped they were fake. He plugged his smartphone in and played a beatbox track that he recorded for his Eminem wannabe set.
  • An African American gym rat who was on a serious John Legend love tip. The three female performers in the remaining crowd loved him.
  • A wet-haired model-type who looked like he just swam there via Dawson’s Creek. He rocked a banjo and stomped on a tambourine as he improvised his way through original songs that he had forgotten the words to.
  • A lyrical comedian who broke out a little ditty rallying against songs about tits and ass and lamented the loss of songs about sweet, juicy pussy (don’t look at me, I didn’t write it).
  • And the all girl, all blonde, all guitar rock band. That’s right, three acoustics. More guitar bang for your buck. Their aim was to resurrect Ska but when their set was done, I still couldn’t detect a pulse.

There were others but as I’ve mentioned before, my memory downgraded to working a part-time job. Anyhoo, all the performers that remained (most departed after the second round) had gone through their material and McLaren tried to squeeze one last song out of the performers but had no takers. He looked my way and asked, “What about you?”

I shook my head. “Not a performer, don’t play an instrument and I sound shitty a cappella.”

Without missing a beat, Dawson’s Creek pulled his banjo out of the zippered bag and chirped, “What are you singing? I’ve got you.”

I’m normally not susceptible to peer pressure, but I’d knocked a few back so I was a little loosey-goosey and the clapping that accompanied the chant, “One song. One song. One song.” was kinda heady.

Know any Billy Idol?” I asked. Dawson’s Creek nodded and I wound up scream-singing White Wedding. to patronizing applause, hooting and hollering.

Although it was closing time and everybody was ready to go home before I took the mic, I preferred to see it as I officially closed the joint. All the other performers were my opening acts and I was the headliner. One song and done. How fucking rock and roll was that?

Shhh. Lemme have this one.

Sally forth and be hey little sister shot gunningly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

Tales From The Set: “Call My Ex, Please?”

In order to support myself until I acquire the fortune that is my birthright, I’ve had to secure employment working background — also known as being an extra.

Greys 1019The simplest game of Where’s Waldo ever. Look for the clever clog in the gray suit on the left blocking his face with his own champagne glass. A star in the making.

As I have no aspirations of being an actor, I’m pretty easygoing regarding my placement in the crowd. Tucked behind tall people? Facing away from the camera? Set in a position farthest from the principal actors? Not a problem. I’m glad to be working and I kinda like being on set and watching the crew set up shots. Other perks include:

  • Absolutely no acting ability is required (thankfully)
  • Being booked on a series or feature gets me out of the house and breaks the monotony of my average day
  • I get to slip into the skins of different people (hospital administrator, construction worker, church goer)
  • I’ve seen myself on TV three times to date (freeze frame is my best friend)

The downside?

  • The pay could be better (but I’m non-union, so dem’s da breaks)
  • Lugging around your own wardrobe (always bring at least two options) on public transportation (guess who never learned to drive?) can be cumbersome
  • The hurry up and wait… and wait… and wait… and wait… can wear on your patience, especially later in the day
  • Craft services for extras is a bit of a dice roll
  • And sometimes other background actors. Not all, mind you, you come across some interesting people chock full of stories and experiences who are willing to let you pick their brains… then there are the others.

Before I get to the meat of the nutshell, I need to set the stage. Picture a room that holds one thousand people. Only one person in that thousand is crazy. Do you know how you’d be able to spot the nutjob? It would be the only person speaking to me. Got it? Good. Let’s proceed.

On my most recent outing, I was in extras holding (just as it says on the tin — a place where background actor lounge about while they wait to be called to set) minding my own business, when an attractive young woman stood close to me and started speaking. She clearly wasn’t looking at me, so I followed her eyeline to see if she was perhaps conversing with someone behind me. Nope. no one there. So, I assumed she invited her imaginary friend to the set to keep her company, and shrugged it off.

For the record, I do not discriminate against people with invisible friends as I know full well the difficulty in making and maintaining worthwhile friendships, imaginary or otherwise. That, and I once dated a woman whose older sister was pretty chummy with Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and the rest and they would often go on Magic Kingdom adventures in the solitude of her bedroom.

A story for another day.

But this woman kept repeating the same sentence, loud enough for me to hear, but no one watching would ever accuse us of having a conversation. Like we were secret agents who daren’t risk breaking our cover, she was giving me the sign and awaited the countersign.

You’re not the first one to live in a strange place with strange people, nor the last.” she repeated.

I looked at her. She, however, refused to make eye contact and simply waited for my reply. Never one to resist the urge to poke the mental tiger, I finally said, “Sometimes it feels that way, though.”

The sluice gates were opened and I wasn’t prepared for the rush of conversation headed my way. Among the many topics she introduced:

  • How women are Christlike when they menstruate, as they suffer for mankind.
  • How she’s happy not to be dancing for biker gangs anymore.
  • How pigeons are truly blessed and carry our prayer up to heaven.
  • How she gave up selling subscriptions to a specialist magazine for ukelele players because she made a decision not to give up her integrity for money.
  • How the government was concealing the fact that chicken fried steak was the cure for cancer.
  • How her stepfather used to send Chinese pornography to her Toy Yorkie.
  • How July always smelled like shades of red.
  • How okra smells like sex before you cook it.

And a host of others I can’t recall at the moment (I’m sure they’ll haunt my nightmares). Throughout the day, I tried my best to avoid her. Trips to the restroom, striking up conversations with strangers, hiding within crowds of people, but she always managed to sniff me out and made other people uncomfortable to the point they drifted away and gave us space. I had been designated friend-of-mental and no one wanted any part of providing me shelter.

After the scene I was in wrapped for the day, I stood in line for one of the shuttle vans to take me from the set to base camp. Okra-Sex-Smell-Girl was nowhere in sight and as the van pulled up I thought I’d made my getaway. But the Transportation Captain held the van because there was still an available seat. I know I don’t need to tell you who the seat was next to, or who filled it.

Okra-Sex looked straight ahead. To my knowledge, her eyes never once fell on me. I was an entity that existed in her peripheral vision. “Can you call my ex from your phone, please?” she asked.

What? No.” Okay, not the best response, but she blindsided me.

Please? I tried calling him but he won’t pick up the phone, probably because he recognizes my number. I think he’s still mad at me. I just want to make sure he’s okay because my friend threatened to beat him up.”

Call your friend and ask him if he beat up your ex.” Mystery solved. Columbo was on the case.

He wouldn’t tell me if he did. He knows I’d be upset.”

I shrugged an oh, well.

You’re not going to call?” She seemed genuinely surprised.

Nope. Not happening.” By this time I stopped looking at her, as well, figuring maybe the cold shoulder would silence her for the rest of the ride. As if.

Why not?”

Hmmm, because not my ex, not my problem?”

But he doesn’t know you. When he answers, just say you dialed the wrong number or something. Then tell me if he sounds beaten up or not.”

If he sounds beaten up. Under different circumstances, I might have let the exchange play out a little longer, but it had been a long day and I was tired and hungry, so the best I could manage was, “What did I say? No? Then that’s what I meant,” before I officially checked out of the conversation.

Not that it mattered. Even without my participation, her side of the discussion continued without skipping a beat:

If you call, I won’t have to stop by his house tonight. You’d be doing me a big favor.”

You’re so mean.

Do you think I should just leave my ex alone?”

Well, you obviously don’t know what being in love is like.”

I’d do it for you. Do you have somebody you want me to call? Give me your phone, I’ll do it.”

And it went on like that for the entirety of the trip. When we reached our destination, she smiled, still not looking my way and said, “Thanks, for being sweet.” Maybe it was my imagination but as she walked away I thought I detected a spring in her step, like she’d made her decision on what needed to be done.

Since then, I’ve been following the local news for reports of a lovers tiff gone horribly wrong in a room that reeked of sex… or maybe uncooked okra.

Sally forth and be careful which mental tiger you go pokingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

Drunkards for the Ethical Treatment of Hops and Malted Barley – Sign the Petition! Fight Back!

High speed Photo Drinks I

I interrupt your regularly scheduled Saturday with a bit of shocking news hailing from a fellow poster who owns a bloggy bedsit over at Life The Universe And Lani. There I was, minding my own business, reading a post on how an untraveled person such as myself could make my life more Thai without leaving the comfort of The States, and enjoying the read, as I often do, when I stumbled upon her directive to “ice your beer.”

That’s right, you heard me: Ice. Your. Beer.

Words failed me at the wrongness of this. In fact, it was replete with wrongiosity. I told her nothing should be placed in beer except beery goodness, and I was prepared to let it go at that, but something kept nagging at me. Now that I lived with the knowledge that there were beer barbarities happening all over the world, how could I, in good conscience, stand by and do nothing?

That is why I am announcing the start of my new organization and entreat you to read the mission statement and support my noble cause:

Drunkards for the Ethical Treatment of Hops and Malted Barley, better known as DeTHMB (okay, clearly I haven’t quite worked out the acronym thing yet, but there are bigger issues at stake here, so focus!) is the largest beer rights organization in the world, with more than 0 members and supporters (one person strong and growing… hopefully).

DeTHMB focuses its attention on eliminating the atrocities committed against beer on a daily basis, such as:

  • Cruel ice cubing (use chilled soap stones, if you must… only if you must!)
  • Purposeful skunkification
  • Mixing with fruit or vegetable juices (what the hell is a BeerMato???)
  • Mixing with other alcoholic beverages like vodka (U-Boot), Jägermeister (in beer: Jägerbomb, in Guinness: an Irish Car Bomb). A good beer stands on its own merit.
  • Sipping beer through a straw. It does not get you drunk faster and robs the beverage of its subtle dignity (as do beer-hats. Just stop it, already!)

We also work on a variety of other issues, including the cruel harvesting of wheat, barley, and hops as well as inhumane saccharification of starch and and unlawful fermentation of sugar.

DeTHMB works through public suds education, brewery cruelty investigations, ale research, cider rescue, lager legislation, special drinking events, celebrity barley pop involvement, and stout protest campaigns.

And we need your support, so…

Sally forth and be popping a cold one and signing the petitioningly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

NEXT: The Declaration of Bacon-Dependence

JCBMX or One Set of Footprints (Alongside a Set of Tire Tracks)

christ-on-a-bike

For as long as I can remember, my mind has been a hornet’s nest of thoughts, worries, stories, alternative timelines in which I live the dream and face the consequences for daring to do so. It gets to be maddening every once in a while. To calm the hornets to a dull buzz, I often take brisk long walks, always alone, except today.

There’s a saying you grow accustomed to when you live in El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula, straight out of Central Casting, which applies to a person who happens to strongly match a particular stereotype.

My guest on today’s journey was Christ on a bike.

The man, in his thirties, kept pace with me on his bicycle for a bit before flagging my attention, as I was otherwise occupied by my trusty dusty travel companion, ye olde iPod.

Before he said a word, my first thought was, Man, he looks just like the actor who played Jesus in that Son of God film. Long hair. Mustache and beard that teetered on the edge of becoming unkempt. No white robe, though, this cycling prophet rocked a denim shirt and jeans, but he did pedal in open-toed sandals.

He stated who he was, but as I am the infamous forgetter of names, I’ll simply refer to him as Jay . Polite enough, he attempted to engage me in conversation, but as I’m a New Yorker born and bred, whenever a stranger approaches me, I’m predisposed to assume they either want money or trouble. This go-round I placed my bet on money and smirked, thinking, You’re seriously barking up the wrong tree here, dude. Turns out I was wrong on both counts. All he was interested in knowing was if I had “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

Doesn’t take knowing me for long to realize I cannot abide proselytizing. It always carries an air of condescension, despite the best intentions of the Born Again speaker. Once you’ve asked and I tell you I’m not interested, your following action should be to move along to the next hopeful convert. This almost never happens. But as I said, Jay was polite, so I let him cycle through his spiel, occasionally answering

  • Yes, I’ve read the Bible, but I can’t quote chapter and verse.
  • No, I haven’t accepted the Lord into my heart, just as I don’t take in any of the other belief systems I don’t embrace.
  • Yes, I’ve heard the saying, the greatest trick Lucifer ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

Clearly, the standard approach wasn’t working, so Jay switched gears and attempted to relate to a wretch like me. Turns out he, too, had fallen from the path of righteousness, lost his way and his faith in The Almighty, and it wasn’t until he was in his thirties (thirty-three, perhaps?) that a man approached him in a similar manner, directed by God to save a particular soul. Not once, but three times did Jay try to stop me in my tracks and get me to pray with him in order to receive an instant release of all the burdens in my life. And like Peter, I denied him three times.

When it was evident that I wasn’t going to break stride, even if just to be rid of him, Jay shifted to the movie route. He offered me the red pill/blue pill Matrix option, tried to twist my melon with the Inception angle of this life being Man’s dream within Satan’s dream within God’s dream, before going off on a Jacob’s Ladder tangent that he couldn’t quite bring around to make his point. To his credit he didn’t challenge me with that time honored favorite, “You don’t believe in God because you can’t see Him, but you believe in air and you can’t see that, right?

But eventually he did ask, “Well, if you don’t have faith in God, what do you believe in?

I believe I’m not smart enough.” I answered, as I always did whenever anyone bothered to ask. But it’s a poorly constructed answer that required clarification. I should change it, but it had become an almost automatic response at this point. That, and I’m just too damned lazy to do so.

Expanded, my response is:

I, myself, am a non-spiritual entity who believes that when it comes to the origin of things — the universe, life, etc. — that I am simply not smart enough to know the truth. And when I say I, taking the full weight of ignorance upon myself, I actually mean we as in mankind or peoplekind or whatever passes for politically correct phrasing nowadays. This does not, however, mean that I do not applaud attempts to gain answers, I’m just not satisfied with any of the options presented to date.

And that’s not just with religion. Creationism versus evolution? I’ve got no dog in that fight. I proudly ride the ignorance fence when it comes to our humble beginnings because, in my opinion, religion and science both offer up a series of theories yet to be proven as fact.

You believe differently? Good on you. I sincerely hope that works out for you, sincerely hope you’re right, and sincerely hope you receive your reward for being righteous.

I’m not in the habit of knocking people’s spiritual beliefs. It’s none of my concern what system you choose to embrace, and with all due respect, I couldn’t care less who or what you worship. Totally your business and I’m cool with it all, especially if it gives your life some sort of balance and leads you to do no harm.

This isn’t to say that I don’t find the Bible a fascinating read, but I view it as — again, no offense intended — mythology. Same as with Greek, Celtic, Aztec, African, etc. writings that deal with the human experience in relation to the worshiping of gods. I also enjoy apocryphal and pseudepigraphal texts, all of which eventually finds its way into my work.

Jay didn’t agree with a lick of this blasphemous nonsense and after a good forty-five minutes of loggerhead debate, he gave the “stop and pray with me” one last ditch effort. When I refused, he gave me God’s blessing and cycled off politely as he arrived.

So, in honor of the noble efforts of Jay, today, I urge you all to sally forth and be true to your own belief systemingly writeful (and should you wish to add this sinner to your prayers, I surely won’t stop you).

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

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Skinship: That Which Binds Us

Mickie

Eventually you come to a point in life where the number of people you know—-them what breathes—-are equally balanced with the people you knew—-them what don’t. This happens to be a them what don’t post about a woman named Mickie.

If you’ve ever had the occasion to fill out an online profile designed for folks who hate filling out online profiles, you inevitably came across the incomplete statement, “The first thing people usually notice about me is”. With Mickie, it was her voice. Spoken, it was smooth enough to polish silver. Singing? It was cool and blue and crystalline and bright enough to transport you to better times, despite whatever kind of mood you were in.

Her hope was to pursue a singing career, and every summer she would trudge down to Washington Square Park, guitar in tow, and sing to anyone who would listen to her. Even though she was an atheist, she hoped the god of dumb luck would smile down upon her and help her get discovered. And even though that never happened, it didn’t stop her from trying.

I have no pictures of her and only the vaguest of images linger in my mind of the petite woman, barely bigger than her guitar, who belted out folk tunes that resonated from Greenwich Village all the way up to Carnegie Hall.

But, singing aside, she wasn’t a well woman. She had her first psychotic break when she was eleven. Moody and tearful one moment and positively beaming the next. Then she began disappearing for days at a stretch, only to reappear battered with what appeared to be self-inflicted wounds and no memory of what happened or where she had been. But her condition isn’t the real reason for the post.

Mickie was big on physical contact. She was always so overly affectionate and was one of those people that simply had to touch you if she was talking to you. I can’t lie, it used to bug me. I loved her like bacon, but I’m an elbow room kind of guy. I brought it up in conversation one day when she was super touchy-feely, and this was her reply:

It’s skinship. I share it with you, you share it me, shit, we all share it with everybody we come in contact with. It’s an important part of communication. The kind we forget about because we’re all so wrapped up in words, which is stupid because I can touch you right now and convey more meaning than if I spoke to you for four days straight. My hand on yours binds us in a way that nothing else on this earth can.

At the time we debated this for perhaps an hour or so and I walked away unconvinced that she has any special insight regarding the communication of touch.

Now I just realize what an idiot I was for not spending the time to try to understand what she was trying to tell me. And she was right, of course, because now I’m sitting here wishing I could touch. There are so many things I want to communicate to her.

Sally forth and be skinshippingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

Cult of Subtextuality

cult

I have a friend —

What? Yes, I’m antisocial to a fault, but there are an intrepid few who won’t take “No, we’re not friends” for an answer and so I allow them a temporary parking pass in designated areas within the friend zone. Now, may I continue with my post, please? Thank you.

Anyhoo, I have a friend — quiet, you! — who’s in a cult. She doesn’t see it as a cult, doesn’t acknowledge it as a cult, and hates when I bring the group’s cultish ways to her attention.

She was recruited into it by a coworker via a book club. While I’m deeply concerned for her, I’m not sure there’s anything I can do to help. Any concerns I express about the club and her involvement with it are dismissed as naïve and misinformed, and are taken as evidence of my pessimistic outlook on life, which is a flaw my friend thinks her cult can help me fix.

Nothing I say will change her mind. She has been properly programmed to resist and/or deflect any criticism of the book cabal. Her conversation has become unbearable, as most of what she now speaks about centers around how brilliant and compassionate the book group and the coworker who runs it are, and how much I could benefit from joining.

What follows is my first conversation with Linda after she joined the not-a-cult-book-club. These aren’t actual spoken words, mind, but the words behind the words. Or at least my interpretation of them, bearing in mind that I’m pretty much shit at deciphering subtext.

You should further note that the interaction may be laced with doses of sarcasm not present in the original conversation. I am forever the unreliable narrator.

Me: Hey, Lin.

Linda: Hi, Rhy. You know what? You’re amazing.

Me: Okay, that’s a bit random but I have to admit I felt validated when you called me amazing.

Linda: I feel your validation and I’m warmed in the soothing heat of your positive karma.

Me: Uh, karmic warmth makes me feel a little uneasy.

Linda: I feel your apprehension and I’m suddenly angry.

Me: Your anger is just a reaction towards my judgmental standpoint on your new age mumbo-jumbo.

Linda: Congratulations, now I’m angrier by your ignorant labeling of my new doctrine and guiding philosophy. I bought a cool new prism for only $150 because it blinds the souls of unbelievers so that they will walk into doors and we can laugh at their misfortune. We, my group that I refuse to acknowledge as a cult and I, believe the night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time…

Me: Curious about this cult. Is it exclusionary? If so, do I fit into the negative stereotyping of the masses or would I be permitted to join such a worthy cause for a small fee to the great one?

Linda: Your first-born. And, I almost forgot, they’re entitled to 51% of your soul. It’s a pretty good deal when they throw in the Apple shares as well.

Me: Hmm… sounds good enough. But I still have a nagging question. Will joining this cult fill me with a false sense of superiority to the non-believers or will I be conditioned to happily go about my business which will soon become proselytizing to others?

Linda: Look. Stop with the questions, just go and kill your family. It’s for the best, okay?

Me: Unanswered questions and hostile commands to boot! Wow, you guys really are legit. Alright, before I sign up, let’s say I slaughtered my family, whose only crime was being related to a man with a lunatic for a friend, what then? How do I advance to the next level of cultiness?

Linda: Give us your first born, and tattoo your whole body. And if you do a good job on the family killing front, my superiors would be impressed. They like feeble-minded allegiance to any pretension of authority.

Me: Tattoo? Tattoo? Hold on a second. No one ever said anything about tattoos. That’s it, I want out. I’ve had enough of your “tattoo your body to show your inferiority to the high sacred master overlord” gobbledygook.

Linda: That’s it. You’re cut. No everlasting peace and tranquility and blissful happiness, bounding through the fields of heaven. You can just sit outside St. Peters gates forever, disbeliever.

Me: Cool beans. I’m done with your pseudo-utopic hallucinogenic-induced dream. I don’t need your deranged, fragmented view of paradise. I have television to fill that gaping whole in my immortal soul. Just wait until I blog about this on the Huffington Post!

Linda: Huff Post? What an excellently composed news authority. It’s insight and credibility never fail to expand my perspective on the intricate workings of our world. Truly a fine journalistic institution. My mind just turns to a viscous jelly-like substance when I look at their headlines and a conspicuous pool of frothy drool begins to accumulate at the sides of my mouth when I have the long-anticipated opportunity to peruse their pages.

Me: Sweet mother of all that is sacred! What have they done to you? Can’t you see that the cult has been warping your mind to the point where you’d be happy endorsing nearly anything? Well, with the exception of Francois Hollande.

Linda: Francois Hollande, don’t get me started. A fine politician. A beacon of our times. Socialism is what we need. We need strong leadership, for a strong future. Damned immigrants.  We need a common sense revolution,  oh wait… Silvio Berlusconi, don’t get me started. A fine politician, a beacon our times…

Me: Oh no! they’ve taken you. You’re too far gone. Just know as I grab this pillow and press it firmly against the sleeping face of our friendship that this is for the best.

Linda: Don’t forget to break out of the institution by throwing large objects into steel re-enforced windows. It will make the dramatic effect of your selfless act even more poignant and meaningful.

Me: Damn. I forgot to stare longingly at the flock of birds earlier on. I hope that this will still be considered effective cinematography since there’s been no foreshadowing.

Linda: Milos Forman would not be impressed by your lack of effective symbolic imagery.

Me: Ah-hah! So that’s who’s behind this cult. I knew you’d slip up sooner or later.

Linda: He’s not alone. You have no idea how far it goes. You’re trifling with powers that you can’t possibly comprehend.

Me: Not Paula and Carole!

Linda: They’re minor pawns. Their Magic Garden sinister talents are well applied to young children, teaching them to be inherently distrustful of hand puppets who live in trees, as well as chortling  flower beds in general. They were more of a test project, a prototype, a foreshadowing of things to come. much like the Terminator who came back in T2 but as a good Terminator—well, sort of at least—you know what, screw Paula and Carole, they’ll just get evil and kill us all.

Me: How could they? They were trusted by all, loved by many, stalked by a few. How can I go on with my life now that I know The Story Box was a sham? I even sent money to PBS, for goodness sake.

Linda: Public Broadcasting, don’t get me started. Fine family viewing. We’ll return to our program, but first, why not give? Become a monthly donor. For your contribution you’ll receive a worthless gift and the illusion of supporting the arts and educational programming. It’s all informative, no commercials to warp your mind…

Me: Damn cult. Glad I never joined in the first place.

Linda: Or, so you think. Ha. Ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha.

Me: I never signed a contract or made a blood transaction of any sort.

Linda: You’re not supposed to remember.

Me: Ugh, this is tiresome. I’m going to bed.

Linda: Goodnight. Don’t forget: the night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time…

Me: Amazing. my ass.

I take that back. I think I nailed the underlying meaning of that conversation.

Sally forth and be patiently-awaiting-a-signal-that-the-brainwashing-is-starting-to-wear-offingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

PS. Don’t join cults. You’re intelligent, I realize this, but consider it a PSA in case you happen to stumble upon this post on a low-gamma day when the world has seemingly left you no other options than to sign up with a small group that has religious veneration and devotion regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous. Unless, of course, you wish to join The Everlasting Dream Church of Rhyan, for my words are magical and my genius must be preserved! Besides, I’m sick of eating ramen and chili, so step into the warmth of my positive karma and PayPal-tithe me a dollar towards some healthier eating.

*Cue Sarah McLachlan song*

Remember, the Rhyan you save may be your own.