The August Dream Later

It started again. Every November I ask myself over and over again why did I chose New York as a place to live. And I continue to ask myself that same question every cold windy day until April. Sometimes I strategically plan in advance to leave New York for several key winter months (like that ugly winter 1993/94 I spent on the West Coast), but mostly I just snooze it through asking myself why I am doing it. Gesundheit. My eyes inevitably turn to sky, as if I am checking what a hell gods are doing and if they are pleased with my suffering. But in New York you don't see sky (unless you reeaallly stretch your neck). All you see are high rises. That's it. The perfect reason. Isn't it?

They are ugly, but they are a helluva place for any guy with suicidal tendencies. Jump of the top of the high rise is one of the safest ways to achieve your goals. And it is definitely the easiest way out. You need no rope, no car, no train, no gas, no gun, no blade, no pills. You just need a high-rise. And New York has a plenty of easily accessible high-rises. No wonder they call it a city of opportunities.

In such a happy mood - because I finally discovered the deep subliminal reason why I live in New York - I received a call from my friend Fred, who said he was concerned about - guess what - my jokes about killing myself. Well, I said, one may want to keep his options open. But he didn't find it funny. He actually went on the record (he studies journalism) voicing his apprehension.

He should be remembered as somebody who took me at the face value, and who cared about what would happen to me. That is quite a rare commodity in today's world.

I tried to convince him that this is just a story. I write in order to relieve myself from my demons. But I didn't convince myself. I want that people believe that I want to kill myself. Story would be corny, otherwise. And I attained that: Fred believed.

Because I am his friend, and he feels the closeness. If he bought a book of some John Selfkill with exactly the same text in Barnes & Noble, he'd laugh it of and discuss it with me, he told me. Because THEN he'd see the story as a novel, remote and unemotional. Which means if I was a succesfull writer who actually got his work published, there would be thousands, or, maybe, if the publisher did good marketing, millions of Freds who would laugh of and discuss with friends my deepest insecurities and my earnest dissatisfaction with living. As we all laughed to Kurt Cobain's insistent repeating how he hated himself and wanted to die, until he did it.

Isn't that scary? To know that people won't take you seriously once you finally succeed in selling of your angst. Isn't that even scarier than to feel like committing suicide? Hmmm, sometimes is easier to think of oneself in a third person.

A depressed young woman from a Manhattan finishing school was so desperate that she decided to end her life by throwing herself into the ocean. When she went down to the docks, a handsome young sailor noticed her tears, took pity on her, and said, "Look, you've got a lot to live for. I'm off to Europe in the morning, and if you like, I can stow you away on my ship. I'll take good care of you and bring you food every day."

"Moving closer, he slipped his arm around her shoulder and added, "I'll keep you happy, and you'll keep me happy."

The girl nodded. What did she have to lose?

That night, the sailor brought her aboard and hid her in a lifeboat.

From then on, every night he brought her three sandwiches and a piece of fruit, and they made passionate love until dawn.

Three weeks later, during a routine search, she was discovered by the captain.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I had an arrangement with one of the sailors," she explained. "He's taking me to Europe, and every night he came and screwed me."

"He sure did, lady," said the captain. "This is the Staten Island Ferry."

The story just came to his mind automatically when his eyes touched the water. It was one of those stories that make you laugh even when you feel like a complete looser, assuring you that you are not the only one who got screwed by life. Sure that there are a lot of people who had it, who have it worse than him. There are crippled and blind and deaf and people with AIDS and all sorts of other diseases. So what? Are we supposed to thank God every day for him having not made our lives even more miserable than they already are?

After a relatively nice November day - no rain, not too windy - at the Jones Beach, with the sun setting behind his back, a young writer from one of those countries that just recently got a seat in the U.N., calmly shot himself in the vein, putting his black hooded jacket on afterwards.

To the apathetic beach strollers his back showed a white graffiti paint screaming: "DON'T RESCUE ME." Without an exclamation mark, because it was a statement more than a message. Message supposes communication, and he hasn't communicated with anybody for who knows how long (except for that 'communication' disguised as e-mail, which is dubious since it is not mandatory for the other end of communication to ever log in and read his messages).

At the point where the policed properties end, and the unrully ocean begins, he stood for a while in reverence to the swell of incoming tide. It was such a rush. It came all at once.

He felt deleted from the "process", where "process" denotes that our existence should have a meaning in which each one of us has his/hers place and destination. He didn't have that. He was a dropout, which is like an unnecessary application. His picturesque icon was already deleted in Windows, but he still lingered as a sad forgotten file in a limbo of unending list of DOS directories and subdirectories, waiting for some gentle soul to erase him, freeing some hard-drive space.

A failure like him sure couldn't do that by himslef. He thought he was to weak to pull the trigger. And who would care anyway? He wasn't Cobain. He was clearly a victim. Having no other talents but verbal and living in a country which did not speak his native tongue, he was like a paraplegic in a land of stairs. Of course he learned different skills well enough to slave-work low-paid dead-end odd jobs prearranged for illegal immigrants, hoping that with time his language would improve to the level he can put his talent to use. Not so. Worse, his native language skills dramatically 'atrophied' from non-use.

He became just one of the first generation immigrants in the U.S. which never learn their English good enough, but do forget their native tongue in the process, and by the time they are 40, they are mostly illiterate, too tired (from overworking themselves) to nurture any ambition to recover their literacy.

But who is interested in listening to wankers today? Shrinks? Whores? They all cost money, and give you just the temporary illusion of well-being. Not the solution. You get the same for less money by smoking pot. That is exactly what he settled for. Pot makes you happy. Whatever you do, weed will make you do with less intelectual resistance. You'd be a bit slower, or sloppier, but in the end you'd be more efficient. Ganja probably came to America, he thought sometimes, on slave-ships from Africa. Of course, after he came home and finally allowed himself a good meal and rest, he fell asleep instantly. One can go on like that for years, not even noticing that years went by. But does it make sense? What does make sense?

He never had time to answer those questions. He was always too late. He was late for everything - for school, for job, for dates, for meals, for trains or flights. He was even late today. He missed the LIRR train he wanted to take. Fortunately it was a rush-hour, so the next train was just a few minutes later. In a short flash-back-like burst of rememberance, his boots still holding water in the ankle deep freezing Atlantic (tide working its way), with sea-gulls shrieking above his head in anticipation, he thought of his old friend Janez from that other planet he had came from five years ago: Janez used to say that he would have been late for his own funeral. He almost had.

Sun almost disappeared behind him. He must have been standing here for a long time. Strange drug that heroin, isn't it? His planet is now consumed by senseless war: the war he was supposed to fight against his friends to help his enemies keep their hold on power, had he not left on time. They tried to kill him, he laughed, (those guys that were getting stoned a hundred yards to his left had to have fun watching him), but, how unfortunatelly, they were pitifuly unsuccesful. Two months ago he turned thirty. That should have never happened.

So, he would now have to do it all by himself. One last time before his final swim - and he knew to swim, that was his job: he worked once as a lifeguard, yessir - he checked his water-resistant purse fastened tightly around his waist: drivers license - so he could be identified (he actually enjoyed order among things so much, that he couldn't allow himself to die unidentifiable, isn't that peculiar for somebody who committed so much energy fighting the order of things?); 3 1/2 floppy disc (that says a "e;Letter"e; on the envelope; of course, a copy of that letter is on the harddrive at his home, and will be automatically posted to several Internet conferences in few hours from now); neatly folded piece of paper, a notarized document outlining the dedication of the carrier to commit suicide and warning potential rescuers of their legal liability if they interfere with that goal. Everything was OK. First time in his life everything went smoothly. It was so relieving. He throwed himself to the ocean and started swimming.

Hours passed. Or at least he thought that hours had passed. Still, he could see the lights in row of houses paralel with the shore. Damned, he thought that he was about to reach coast of Ireland. He lost one contact lense due to diving under waves. Without a surfboard, and with your jeans, boots and jacket on, it takes some time, he guessed. He was tired. His hands and feeth were half frozen paddles. But he wanted to loose sight of houses. Man must be alone with the ocean in order for his spirit to get well deserved rest. So, he swam some more. And more. The houses were long gone, and he still swam. Or at least he thought he was still swimming.

Drunken BoatGasping for air he spat some water out of his mouth, instinctively threading water. By now he hated ocean: the water was too cold for swimming amd too salty for drinking. The storm was in the making. Wind blew like crazy raising hell of waves. That's what woke him up. Apparently, he felt asleep and was carried away who knows where by the current in his jacket that served as a lifesaver, until waves didn't flip him over and wake him up. But there was no more sorry eyes to look at him from the shore. There was no shore any more. And his drunken boat was lost. Fuck. He knew that he forgot something. Compass! He doesn't know where he is supposed to go now. All directions looked the same: water tormented by winds that lost their sense of direction. Much like himself. And the heroin was slowly wearing off. So, he began to feel tingling in his dying toes and fingers. Tingling would become an unsustainable pain soon, he knew. He could make himself freeze and die faster by taking his clothes off, but he couldn't use his fingers.

When he decided on this spectacular act, he didn't imagine how long it takes to die in freezing ocean. He didn't know what time was it (he never had a watch, he hated time), but it was sure very dark. Hopefully, he tought, he'd just get tired and fall asleep again, maybe having some nice pain+cold+exhaustion induced hallucinations, and, then, he'd just pass away. The act of suicide by drawning always looked so marginal in movies. Remember Point Break? When Bodhi (played by Swayze) at the end of the movie, in order to escape the prison for robberies he have done, chose to paddle of into heavy storm off Australian shore on his surfboard. There was a line telling audience that he would never return. But that was all. The viewer is seduced into believing that you die in the water almost as quickly as the movie ends. Ok, maybe after all credits are listed, but not longer.

Not so. And what about sharks? Why there were no sharks to eat him? What was wrong with them? He hoped he tasted good, he was healthy meal, all protein, very little fat. He cursed sharks for not coming, water for being wet and all over the place, wind for being so unbearably cold....

Then he saw it. He saw a ship, not far away, but a good swim from him. Ship, lonely as himself, was sailing vaguely in his direction, if any direction at all. So, if he just threaded water, he'd be right in her way. But, wait a minute! Wasn't that true that he didn't want to be rescued, so he should swim away. But he had no strength to swim away. And the ship was not for real. It was hallucination, he knew it. The ship was old Fire Island Ferry, which was sunken long time ago, and still lays down in shallow water near Oak Beach Inn. He couldn't be so far north. Strangely for a wrecked ship, she was coming closer.

Had the lights on, too. And people were shouting. Loudly. They were scared. He didn't understand words. But he understood the meaning: ship was old, rugged, not realy seaworthy, and the sea was in tremendously bad mood. They were about to crush. But there was no land anywhere near. Their ship would just break, overpowered by the swell, and they'd die. Death by drowning. That should be a horrible death.

They didn't see him. How bad. He would like if they passed right near him, so he could tell them: "Hi, what's up, commrades? Bad weather, isn't it?" Maybe some of them would be less scared of probability to join him soon, if they saw him so happily drifting. How couldn't they see him? He was so close to the ship by now to feel their bad smells of decay and rot. Or maybe they don't want to see him. Maybe they believe that he is just an illusion. An illusion that contradicts their basic beliefs. A dangerous illusion, that tells you that man may be happy wafting in the freezing Atlantic two miles off Long Island shore in the middle of a November night, so, therefore it is better overlooked and this 'overlooking' quickly forgotten.

He howled. Nobody on the ship noticed. Ship went by. And than another one, and another one, and another one, and another one, and another one. Every one of them paler and more obscured by fog. Later they looked like those ghost ships from horror movies, like the Cursed Dutchman. Slowly moving in circles. Just spooky light in thick fog, screaming and sirens on. He saw them crushed by waves in the distance, heard people scream in terror, felt them drowning, slowly suffocating, desperately grasping for ever more elusive air.

Hood of his jacket was caught by hook protruding from one of the passing ships and he was dragged for some time. He tried to escape, to get of the hook. He just couldn't do it. The night in his head became brighter, as the doors were soon to open, and the Great Spirit was about to welcome him. Suddenly a violent force strapped him of the hook and he felt very cold, but somehow lighter, as if he was not any more immersed in the ocean, and as if he finally found peace. Finally at rest. He was happy again. It was so long ago when he was happy last time.

Night storm brought some good surf, and some dedicated surfers to Cedar Beach in the morning. One of them stumbled over Him, almost breaking his board. Damned. What is this? Is this dead? They took him to the shore, pumped the water out of him. He was alive. Actually well preserved by cold, although he couldn't possibly count on his feet or hands any more. The other guy took a look of his purse and found the disk, drivers license and the note to rescuers. Shit. Look at this shit. He'd sue us for rescuing him. Should we kill him? Throw him back into the ocean? Well, then the police would arrest us as killers. Leave the motherfucker lying on the beach. When he wakes up, he'd see nobody. He can't sue nobody. He'd think ocean threw him out. He can't sue ocean either. (surf-laughter)

But he'd freeze. He's frozen anyway. Call EMS! Let him sue them. Yeah, right. So, they left, and they called EMS.

He woke up. No one was around. He heard sirens and creatures screaming, but there was no ships, and he was not in the water any more. The night was gone, too. EMS came. He didn't want them. He tried to stand up (unsuccesfully) so he crawled on his elbows and knees back to ocean. They stopped him.

He knew he was fucked. He tried to tell them about his legal rights, but he couldn't speak: his face was stiff of cold. He couldn't move a muscle that opens jaws. So, jaws remained closed. He was alive. He didn't make it. The sense of failure was so overwhelming. He is really an unworthy specimen, not even able to kill himself properly. Why should he live, he thought? He is such an unforgivable failure. They'd save him now. He'd be eventually crippled but alive. That made him mad. As soon as he gets a chance he shall make an end to that - this time in more old-fashioned, less volatile way, to make sure it happens.

Just as I looked around myself I saw: endless sighing. The world just ended for some. And there is no way back. Was it too much to ask? I feel so old. [sigh] Old as in tired. Old as in expired. I tried. I missed. It's gone. Does anybody care to remember? Don't look at me. You think I am repugnant indignant toothless old bore. And more and more sure I am. Embittered. Exasperated to the point where the list of reasons for exasperation is long forgotten as unimportant. Pure anger is not concerned with particularities. It is an overwhelming feeling, which allows no escape, no rest, no daylight, no dreams. All my friends are hump-backed and half-blind. They playfully whisper. They cheerfully hate. They are so damn cheerful. And everybody else just wants to roast me like a pig till I get crispy and palatable.

I can't stand the world no more. Simply can't stand this sick race. I want to go back to my planet. But my planet is a barren desert by now. Wherever else, then.