Upsetting
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
 
The caffeinated headlights blast through the empty street, illuminating things meant to stay in the dark. Burned-out liquor stores with their graffiti-covered, boarded-up windows. Hookers bent to the rides of their johns. Cigarettes glow in the faces of the men who call the shots out here.

You keep going. It’s been a long time since you bought drugs, and even longer since you bought them off the street. This street.

There are televisions in the cars now, you see, and the advertising machine says this is another way of branding all tomorrow’s children. Get them while they are in the car seats. Compel them to compel their parents.

It’s indirect lobbying, like mass mailers you don’t ask for but come to your home anyway. They say, Go tell Sweeney about it. How you feel. Vote for this.

You can’t understand how to vote. You think it should be more simple here in the United States of America. They tell you the computer is fucking up or some such broken line.

Are we not men?

Is this Guatemala of ’54?

Take the red line out of Cambridge, and it’s just a couple of stops to the city. See Kenmore Square and the Rathskeller. Your friend tells you about a place called The Unexamined Life, though you’re doubtful it still exists.

You get to a certain age where you don’t give a shit about making the light in this part of town. If they come, they come, and you are ready. You’ve spent years preparing, and you’d almost like to see how the preparation pays off.

If it doesn’t, it wasn’t meant to.

The advertising machine tells you that the measure on the ballot is supported by one group, and you could swear the exact same group is opposed to it. Read it again, and you see the groups differ in name by only one word. How’s a guy to know?

Hear your friend say, Read the paper, see what they recommend, and then do the opposite.

They’re all in it together, like an ethics seminar at Boeing. Go through the motions and tell them, seriously, guys, stop this bullshit. You'll almost get us in trouble.

You slap glasses together and head for the golf course.

Are they really boycotting the Girl Scouts?

The headlights poke across the intersection, and you see the motorcycle pull out of the closed service station. Could be a cop, but the advertising machine said something about guys pretending to be cops, pathological fucks. They say they terrorize the people over here who already have what is generally termed a deep-seeded mistrust of the uniform.

Where is that damn onramp, anyway?

As ever, you just want to go home, and it’s like those slow dreams where it all moves away from you.

But you keep driving, sure you’ll find it.

Even while they sit in the backs of the cars, taking pictures of the television with their telephones.
 
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