It’s midnight. I’ve got maybe an hour before they arrive and I’ve already finished the draft. Sitting back in my chair with the computer blazing its white light into my exhausted eyes, I reach for the pills and remember I don’t take pills anymore. It’s just a coffee. I feel pretty much how I felt at 6:00 this morning. I don’t need sleep when I work like this. I need to get it done. I need them to be here now so we can move on with things, but I’ve got an hour. I remind myself I should appreciate a break every now and then.
I get a scarf. I don’t need the scarf. It’s cold. I don’t need the scarf though. I just want it. I know as I’m reaching for it that my neck will feel safer if it is wrapped up. I’ll feel more invulnerable, though a little itchier and warmer than I’d like to be. I’ll be sweating. I hate sweating. I do it all the time, but I hate it all the same.
I break out on the street. It’s quiet for 12:00. It’s the winter. It’s still quiet for twelve. I wonder if I’m always this contrary in my perceptions, if I notice the incongruence of things this often, or if it’s just that I’m off the pills. I’m being contrary by asking. I let the question go and breathe in on a four count. Hold for seven. Wait, is it supposed to be seven then four? Damn it. Contrary again. Release. Eight count.
I think to how Nietzsche said something about walking being the best way to think. I think how far I am from having read any Nietzsche, getting further every day. Maybe someday I won’t remember any philosophy. Maybe I’ll be a potato like everyone else. Maybe I’ll lose my mind. Then I won’t need any Nietzsche.
If this doesn’t go right I’m fucked. Not in the way that I care about it at all. I don’t know if I care about anything anymore. Or ever really did. Or if caring’s just a fraud we believe in long enough to have convinced ourselves it’s real. I mean that I’m gonna have to do everything over again if this goes wrong.
If this goes wrong, having my credentials slipped will be the least of my worries. The Feds. Guantanamo maybe. Eh… a stretch. A really unlikely one, too. You’d be surprised how mundane the Feds are though. They show up for almost anything. Like bored dweebs showing up to conventions they’re secretly obsessed with who now get to splurge a handful of years’ worth of pent up excitement with other people who are passionate about it for other reasons, or are just there because they’re trying to lay the hot girl in the elf costume. I don’t know where these analogies are coming from. Or the Nietzsche.
I’m going to go back on the pills.
The Feds drive by me. No, dumbass, those aren’t the Feds. They have no idea what you’re doing. Yet. Fucking breathe.
I think of Tam and Dale. They walked straight into a brick wall of red tape at the start of my time with The Leaflet. Leftist idiots. You’re not only supposed to contain the amount of information you report on to protect your sources. You mainly do it for yourself. They don’t tell you about that noble aspect in school.
Newsflash: they don’t tell you anything in school.
Except for Nietzsche.
I hear my own footsteps and remember why I went for a walk. This. I like this. I like being. I like walking. I like cold. I like street. No. I don’t like streets. I like hard, flat pavement. I like something I can walk on that I won’t be making a single noise if I land my feet the right way. I like landing my feet that way. Like laying a smooth, textured spread over and over. Wax on, wax off.
I like how I feel like I’m floating. Like I’m residing in that silent place between my feet and the pavement. Me and the pavement are one space in a continuum of existence that stretches on everywhere forever. I’m flying. I walk so I can fly. That’s why I do this.
I’m sweating a lot. I like sweating. I don’t like sweating? Why did I ever say that? Oh. I don’t like itchy, scarf sweating. Ooo, but don’t the protection around the jugular make an oxygen based biology feel at ease. The source of life.
When was the last time I saw the sun?
I remember Iraq. Fucking Iraq. I don’t have an opinion on war. Clarify that. I pull out a little notebook I carry around in my back pocket. Yes, a notebook. Not a notepad app in my phone. I don’t have my phone on me right now. Maybe so the Feds have a harder time tracking me. Maybe because it’s 12:00 and I haven’t had any pills in 3 weeks and 4 days. Maybe I just leave my phone inside sometimes. I don’t really know who I am right now, so I couldn’t tell you.
“It’s my job to not have an opinion.” I meant to write “I DON’T HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT WAR,” in all caps like that.
I don’t think anyone’s going to believe I don’t have opinions about war. I think I might be a terrorist sometimes when I see the news on the trials sometimes. Especially some of the YouTubers that is. Alternative media is quite convincing. Much more intelligent than the campy, daytime soap opera that is major network media. I’d believe I was a terrorist too if all I knew about me came from some of those kids on the internet. Granted some of them are quite old.
Fuck. I’m not a kid at all anymore if I think those kids are kids. They are kids. The internet kids. If you’re on the internet. You’re a kid. Don’t worry. I’ll die off with my dinosaurs soon enough. Maybe tonight.
I’ve stopped walking and I’m looking at what I wrote at the top margin in my notebook. It’s a link I never ended up looking up. Another cold lead.
It’s my job to not have an opinion but I definitely burned in Iraq. If I could have written whatever I wanted, I would have written about the goddamn sunburn. Michigan kid learned his lesson there.
If I hadn’t gotten a third degree from not wearing anything but a beater for four days I would have kept being a writer, and would remember a lot more Nietzsche right now probably. So thankfully that went a different way.
I look at my watch and realize I have enough time to catch a sight of the water if I take the shorter way back. I quicken my step. I’m putting the notebook in my pocket where it lives and rarely escapes wondering how I got to the point where I edit the impulse to write something down so quickly and so totally that entirely different statement than that intended ends up on the page without me even noticing until its already fully down. How did I get so double-minded?
I breathe in, two, three…seven. Hold, two, three, four. Release, two, three…eight.
You might be thinking this meditation shit is related to how crazy I sound. Feds and pills and all that. Most people have some idiotic repulsion to meditative practices. Left over from our Bible-thumping I think. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Bible. But that the thumping people did with it smashed about everything outside of a tiny Bible-sized box that those people feared would get people to stop believing in what they themselves believed in. We don’t believe in anything. We’re inducted into thought patterns. Belief means you don’t fully know something and that you’re inclined the space that’s left unconcluded must be X (the thing believed in.)
This is backed up by the fact that a certain sort of business-savvy, “practical” mindset is threatened by and scoffs at meditation. It thinks meditation is contrary to its own set of values, thus has the power to overturn it, so has to dismiss it with anger or ridicule. I can’t tell you how many strange looks I’ve gotten breathing on a train, or closing my eyes momentarily before eating a meal.
Truth is, I think it’s stranger to not.
The water is nice. I decided rightly by coming here. I did not used to wonder whether decisions I made were right or not. I see the ripples in the black ink, cracking the reflections of the lamps into lightning bolt shapes. I ponder at its beauty. I’m falling into the deep dark. I have miles to go before I sleep.
The engine starting behind me as I turn from the river walk gives me a feeling a freedom. I’m leaving. If all goes well, I’m leaving tonight.
I’m leaving my apartment, everything in it. Not that I have much. I’ll leave my laptop even. It’s unsafe to bring. Or maybe I just don’t want it anymore.
I see the first people I’ve seen since I left my porch, since…the last time I saw daylight probably. Three days ago? Yesterday? I shell up when I work. I did my work, and I did it well. Now I can walk and feel the open air and move around. Move out of the country if need be. But if I need to work, sometimes I need to not do anything or go anywhere. This was one of those times. It was exactly three weeks ago that I went to work at cracking the code. I finished my bottle a couple days early, and the day I could get a refill as per the prescription was the day I started working. I hadn’t left the house long enough to go to the pharmacy since. Except for the one walk to the corner store. A milk and a bag of white bread. I’d forgotten I even needed pills until I returned and had been working already for three hours.
Three hours I know because three hours is how I eventually ended up getting through the code. In Iraq, they had teams. They had training. Franks, my main contact, a private, had been programming in the first days of personal computers and decided a career change would do him well. From NASA to the Navy. The boy next to him, his superior technically, had only a degree.
I didn’t have any of that. I did this alone. Now the bored and boring FBI will find out what I’ve done in between jack off sessions in their cubicles or whatever in a week at the most. Their jack off sessions that is. That’s a joke though. I’d be surprised if any of the pensive sort of Feds on work like this have character enough to jack off. I may be a has been on the most-wanted market, but that doesn’t leave me enough cred for the work to have been flagged as anything special.
It’s when they come tonight and what they do after that will tell.
It’s all in the pudding.
I get back to my porch and I feel the mind calm and quiet instantly. No thoughts at all as I enter my blank and black abode.
I left my keys on the table next to the open computer and my phone. I didn’t just unlock the door as I entered? No, I didn’t.
Jesus, I need to stay off those fucking pills.
It’s ten minutes until they get here. I pour a glass of water and sit on the porch. It might be my last ten minutes in the States. My last ten minutes home, able to drink the tap water and read the street signs and see numbers I recognize and historical names that trigger some culturally held significance. I don’t think I’ll mind being a terrorist, if that’s what they end up calling me. I don’t feel very aware of “they” anymore at all. I used to care only about the sort of things I’d end up reading about myself, or hearing proliferated on YouTube. I think the trials dug that out of me though. I spent hours on the internet back then. Trying to defend myself. Thinking I was doing research, thinking seeing the things people were saying about me would better help me decide what to say up on the stand to avoid conviction.
It did. Not how I planned it. I was so bored by the end of it, after going through all the stages of grief and all the emotions I think a human being can feel, that I hardly cared at the end of the trial. I answered blankly, straight and honest, with no intention of convincing anyone of anything, just of getting it over with because I was done after the months and months of trial of talking about something that really wasn’t that big a crime in the first place. High ranking military officials in a scandal isn’t a scandal anymore. It’s assumed operations. We expect its going on and don’t care. That utters been milked.
It helped I think. The lawyers said they saw a breath of empathy come out of the jury. I was the only one expressing the same level of boredom and get me out of here that they felt.
Feel the cold wind and the cold water. Their softness. They’re coming. I know that van’s them. Only people as serious about themselves as these people are would drive a van like that.
You’d drive a van like that too if you had to wonder if everyone you met was working for the other side.
I grab my duffle bag and the flash drive and head off my porch. They open the door on the side of the van. It’s the Feds. No, it’s not the Feds. They haven’t leaked anything yet. There’s nothing to leak. They haven’t attacked anything yet. These aren’t weapons codes, there’s nothing to attack using them.
I know if I get in this van I’m not coming back. I know if they take the drive and leave me that they’ve decided to go with the route that isn’t as volatile, thus doesn’t require putting me into hiding.
If I see someone’s hand come out I go free and continue life all the same tomorrow. See the sun again. Go look for work.
If I don’t, I’ll step into the dark of the van and into another world.
Neither option is familiar. Neither is strange.
I fucking hate Nietzsche.