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[[Written a few years ago...yet another surrealist/absurdist story!]]

The marquee proudly shone those bright letters, his name in lights, as he flicked the final ash from his cigarette and hailed a cab uptown because he had the money and, of course, he was a star and one of the few around who still had their dignity, and while he had so many things one could wish to have he never let it get to his head because he feared he'd end up like his Uncle Bart who ultimately ended up nowhere, a real rags-to-riches-to-rags story with no signs of a happy ending and no chance of a sequel, like the ones written by countless authors too bone dry of original ideas to meet their quota, they must release in sequence, in a pattern, supply and demand, and it drives them crazy and they have no choice but to churn out book after book based on the same characters, the same events, and the people eat it up, the consumers consume like the fatty fat fats they are, constantly eating paying no mind to their waistlines which continue to grow, until they become an overinflated version of their former selves, which once were beautiful, because you know they cared at one point, or at least you'd assume one would, but who's really paying attention these days with all the other problems going on that are out of our control which we feel the sudden urge to stick our noses in, you know, things like the war always illicit such polarizing reactions from people, and no one more offended by the current state of affairs than Stacy Bourgeois from Lower Manhattan, who in her stilettos can almost stare down any man and seem provocative, but at the same time retain a feminine delicacy that drives all the men crazy at parties, this one being a birthday party for one lucky bastard on Wall Street who's just caught a big break and will probably end up being the richest man in the state, but even though his success radiates through the room and inspires all a quarrel has broken out in one corner as two men of different generations banter incoherently about politics while their mail-order token dates sip down expensive wine and pretend not to notice, staring at the lights outside the window from the hotel across the street in which two young lovers are caught in an embrace after an evening romp through the park scoring crack which they have both indulged in by now, and it's only a matter of time before one of them realizes it's been laced with something horrendous, something out of this world which will most likely end up in the Government's possession but now is being trafficked illegally in parking lots under the guise of simple cocaine, and everyone knows Barnaby carries some with him all the time but won't spill the beans where he obtained it from or if he indeed concocted the substance himself in his apartment with the boarded up windows which is always on the brink of being demolished were it not for him continuing to pay an undisclosed but assumed large sum of rent each month, and god only knows what he does up there or what kinds of things he puts in his drugs which he then sells to poor addicts and the occasional desperate vagrant, who waddle up to him with a sweaty wad of cash and ask for "anything, anything at all", and he's been caught a few times, but the police never ran his shit so for all Chief Strauss knows it's the same old same old, and he won't tell you himself but he's been seen consuming the drugs himself, and this guy's got a wife and kids and he's all about good morals and cleaning up the community, and he lives in the nicest apartment and drives the nicest sports cars, but he's a junkie so the story goes, and his wife's oblivious to it all, as she's the type who seems to have rotted out her brain entirely through various chemical peels and countless hair dying experiments, and I'd be surprised if she even noticed what a tyrant her son is, the ten year old school bully bordering on sociopath, a large boy known to plant a fist in anyone's face who insulted him for having a cop for a father or a ditz for a mother, and he once broke a kid's nose but nothing ever became of that because the kid in question, Artie he was called, had the most passive parents one could ever imagine and they were too afraid to press charges, so instead they stayed inside, read their books, they're lawyers believe it or not, they golf on weekends and eat out every night at moderately expensive restaurants where they name drop with their lawyer friends and they smoke and drink and let their kid handle his own problems even though he can barely carry his own bookbag without falling over face-first, and their friends notice but don't say a thing because they too are too passive and too cowardly to speak their minds and step in to help the poor kid, and as they talk this particular night, Artie wanders away from his parents and their friends and sits outside the restaurant weighing his options before finally running off into the night and sleeping in a jungle gym at some dingy park where a van has just pulled up and vomited out a ragtag team of misfit teenagers who use the jungle gym's canopy as a shelter in which to fuck, and Artie hears it all from where he's lying, until one of the teenagers pokes his head into the tunnel and spots Artie, grabbing him and pulling him screaming to the ground, and now his friends stop fucking and stare at the kid and laugh and talk amongst themselves, the girls of the group remarking how cute he was, when one of the boys decides to pull a knife on Artie and everything swirls and lights flash and Artie frees himself just in time and runs top speed down the street, and the teenagers watch and laugh and decide to follow him but are sidetracked when one of them realizes they've been spotted by a man walking his dog and are now being approached, shouted at, and then chased by this man and his dog, which appears in the dark to be some sort of Pit Bull mix who snaps violently upon the owner's command, and the teenagers pile into the van and peel on down the road as the man and his dog jolt across the wet pavement towards a dilapidated phone booth to report the license number, and he gets through to the cops but has forgotten the plate number so he describes the kids to the best of his ability and then heads home where he has trouble falling asleep, he's just that sickened by the acts he has witnessed in his neighborhood, he actually vomits, it's been so long since there's been any kind of violent crime and he's having flashbacks to when he was younger when things weren't quite as safe as they are now and he remembers in great detail the event which resulted in the large scar across his forehead, and his wife sees him in the bathroom mirror from her spot on the bed and beckons him to come to bed but he's gone now, he's staring at his reflection and the memories are coming back to him, he suddenly feels the need to take a shower to symbolically "wash away" the feelings, and once he's out he shuffled to the foot of the bed and hovers over his wife's sleeping form for a few minutes trying to compose himself before finally getting in next to her and drifting off to sleep, and he can hear sirens outside some blocks away and he wonders if it has anything to do with what he saw...


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