PART B (The City)—4

Life-changing events don’t always change lives, at least not right away.

But what if a life were to pass by and end in the gap between a big event and the change it could have brought?

It was in such a gap Bing believed he lived.

In another life, the boy who would be Bing once dreamed of many futures.

A new girl in class, and there would be an all new dream gleefully scrawled across new journal pages long past midnight.

But every added written whimsy had served only both to hide and throw childhood’s sheer freedoms and fantastic irrationality square up in the clueless face of that young Bing’s budding manhood.

And like life and death, manhood would prove unstoppable.

So a sacred mystery, lost both to youth and age, was how each new happily-ever-after finish line could be crossed with the very same zeal and faith as whatever forgotten “ending” had been captured back on page one.

A later Bing would enter his 30’s drained and quirky, almost thoroughly convinced his dreams had all been but wasteful lies.

That Bing had then watched himself fall still and crack apart like a dying plant, swarmed and eaten away by decay as algal eyes grew crinkled peering back through smoke in mirrors.

A distress like never quite hearing some vital wakeup call had loomed just close enough to shave off shards of any remaining sillinesses . . . pruning ever away, but never to the root . . . never to where actually getting on with whatever else might be left could be possible.

For every Bing, something had always been just about to happen.

Once he had bought his prescription, the most recent Bing would spend his non-work days driving between various outskirts, parking lots, public restrooms, backs of playgrounds, and the gritty undersides of withered, empty architecture.

That Bing had known better than to hold up for too long at any such illusions of free space.

Instead, he would slowly bounce between them like a flat soccer ball with no goal.

But time spent cycling through only those same old ugly, letdown destinations had begun to be punctuated by loud, vast stretches of an unbearable sense of nothingness . . . ever more lonely and desolate.

Then the life-changing event had come to bring about the current Bing, changing nothing (yet).

It was a normal day.

Mostly dark, un-lively ghosts amused themselves in a playful racket that buzzed between and beneath what Bing saw of the lot and beat-up Buick parked ahead.

Each dull spirit crumbled back to tottering piles of dusty bones once it finished its turn at cheap projection.

Bing sighed.

He knew smoking more would do absolutely nothing.

He had never managed to see about smoking less.

Slowly swiping his iun, he absentmindedly tapped twice to play a new recording.

A fuzzy cheering crowd blasted through in high pitch static to signal the start or end of something good.

A bland flash, and Bing swiped and tapped twice more.

why would anyone want another person to cheer
for them? cheering is obviously not spontaneous.
we do it to fulfill some social thing. obligation.
bands make u cheer while u wait for
encores. it’s just time going by. why, if
everyone knows? always forced and fake.
unneeded.

There was some relief in having emptied the notion like urine upon his little screen.

He tapped to read an unread message from himself, surprised to find he had no memory of it.

this is the shit u catch urself saying now when
u’r high: “i love how mr. peanut is a vegetable,
so its ok to eat him…” (and then u got some guy
in the front row who’s all like (pic))

He had no idea what “pic” was referring to.

But seeing a reply to that one, also forgotten, he tapped and slid up again to read.

ever think to urself while high ‘which part of
me said that?’

gay thoughts.

He almost smiled.

But anything close to laughing alone in his trashy car (again) rang just sad and pointless enough to be worth fighting against with all his…

To let the laughter seep out and become real would be like admitting . . . like letting go of hope for good.

How long?

Well, how many self-told iun bits had Bing collected now?

He guessed it would be at least ten-thousand . . . over three full years’ worth.

And he was still getting high for most of almost every single day.

But now 32, even more wrinkled, and just about officially dreamless, the idea of actually seeking and booking gigs, or starting out anywhere . . . at anything, really, was…

Bing knew a dream’s comfort could be poison, sure . . . for dreams were always free.

But time marched only onward and away, which was something no Bings yet had quite been able to see.

And the trickling of days and weeks gained more unfair advantage with each new unshared line of bitterly assembled text.

If I haven’t done anything yet, what hope do I…?

Scanning through his once-flashed blips, they all seemed so brutally clumsy and desperate.

The opposite of funny.

What could he really expect to gain from being booed off stage now, and watching every suspicion the weed had always warned him of rise in the real world to swallow him whole?

Silence rang in his ears like a terrible screech.

He thought it might be the noise of his own mind being held both dumber and smarter for reasons only former Bings had maybe known.

Too dumb to know how any of it should be shown.

Too dumb to make it touch the minds of others.

Too smart to laugh alone in his car forever.

Too smart to really try for once and fail.

Held and nestled in a safety-net web that joined the last Bing’s life-changing event to new Bings yet to be, this Bing felt himself being readied for torture and death by relentless thoughts that wouldn’t stop screaming at him from a tired replica of a bunch of old highs.

Like always.

Was this it?

His life was a single picture, complete in its neatness, of everything he knew he could never figure out . . . at least not alone.

Imbalanced.

Damaged.

Deranged.

And as always, part of him wished and pushed to go back to a life that had never really been, where he could be like all the others . . . those happy masses of folks who spent their days high as well, only without all the…

But it was his endless demanding flashing thoughts that meant he never could.

Besides, those folks might not exist.

Was there a limit to how many times the same painful concerns could be rolled or glossed over in such an addled, aging mind?

How long could he go on being so on edge without it doing the “forever” kind of damage?

FLASH

heal ur heart, dude. u have to, or this will
just keep happening.

But as with all his stupid bits, Bing knew this apprehended piece would soon be…

Why?

Why still so trapped?

But the questions weren’t even rhetorical.

If knowing had ever been enough, he knew, there’d be no gap to be so stuck in.

Bing had a difficult call to make.

. . .

Mr. and Mrs. Rolman each took calls on their landline.

His came in the morning, and hers in the early afternoon.

Both calls were from their family doctor.

The doctor spoke to each of test results, repeating words like: “Unfortunately,” “Alzheimer’s,” “Beginning stages,” “Early-onset,” “Dementia,” “Severe…”

Mrs. Rolman thanked the doctor and hung up the phone.

It was time to put together her boy’s afterschool snack.

She laid a circle of cookies on a plate and poured some milk in a paper cup, happy.

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