The Silver Year: L’Epilogue est Sans Issue

L'Epilogue est Sans Issue

 

 

I watch​​ her. She​​ commands​​ the bar with the stoicism of a field surgeon and the grace of an ice dancer.

“Whadda​​ you​​ want?”​​ She​​ mentally notates each answer with a nod, sawing​​ down the front line of patrons as one bites​​ corn​​ off​​ a​​ cob, mercilessly bypassing​​ any​​ kernels​​ with drink orders​​ unready.​​ Her hands move with​​ deeply​​ satisfying rhythm and​​ automation. In one,​​ a​​ cocktail​​ shaker pumps, in the other, a bottle tips to a​​ wanting​​ line of shot​​ glasses.​​ She​​ chews off three more drink​​ orders​​ in the process, keeping tally of the beers filling under​​ the​​ taps​​ behind her, then with balletic bravado, she cracks​​ the shaker​​ over two​​ glasses,​​ pirouettes to stop​​ the​​ three running​​ taps,​​ and​​ returns with four totals for​​ eleven drinks.

“Sixteen . . . twenty-four-fifty . . . forty-two . . . twenty-one-seventy-five.”

As the​​ front​​ line of​​ patrons procure​​ payment, she​​ tops off the beers,​​ delivers them​​ to the bar, and​​ begins​​ the process​​ all over again with the line​​ behind them.​​ She never stops. The whole night is her ballet, battle,​​ and opera.​​ They say true multitasking is impossible, but Jade​​ has​​ made a perfection of faking it. It’s a shame no one​​ sees her brilliance​​ the way I do—not​​ even she,​​ so I’m documenting it here, hoping for perpetuity.​​ In fact, everyone​​ I’ve​​ documented​​ here is​​ a hope for perpetuity,​​ but​​ especially you.​​ 

I’m sorry. I still find myself talking to you.​​ I’m still adjusting to​​ a​​ reality​​ where I can’t do that.​​ It’s like​​ reading​​ a good book​​ and​​ never knowing the ending, or maybe it just feels that way because​​ I didn’t​​ see the end coming.​​ Our​​ brief​​ time together​​ seemed to​​ pass​​ so​​ quickly​​ while in it, yet​​ it​​ feels eternal​​ now from the​​ effect.​​ 

But as an​​ almost​​ outside observer of​​ my​​ life now, I​​ think I​​ can​​ see​​ why​​ in retrospect; nothing​​ made time move faster than habit and nothing​​ held​​ it​​ down​​ like novelty, and you, you were the most novel thing to come into my life. You changed my life for the worst and best.​​ However, novelty always​​ comes with some​​ discomfort. Without​​ discomfort,​​ nothing changes, and change is the ultimate arbiter of time from the mind’s perspective. Change is what makes time.​​ 

Speaking of​​ novelty,​​ the​​ newscasts have been apocalyptic​​ lately. It’s been raining in Southern California for three days and every television screen at the bar is filled with images of the deluge​​ now that the sports games are over. Floods, mudslides, power outages,​​ idiots in cars being swept away at​​ water crossings;​​ I​​ pretend to watch, but my mind is elsewhere.

Fortunately these days I don’t get noticed here too often. Then again, I don’t look much like myself these days either. Over time I guess people have just gotten used to me sitting in this corner by the trivia machine, sipping wine—the last of the spirits I haven’t made enemies with,​​ documenting their sordid romances and tragedies into my notebook. I’ve sort of become one with the old trinkets adorning the walls. Every now and then somebody finds me novel, but for the most part I’m free to be the surveying ghost I always wanted to be.

I think this bar is what I’m going to miss the most​​ when I’m gone.​​ I know that sounds alcoholic, but Perqs has been my​​ only place of novelty​​ during​​ my years of​​ mostly​​ habit—not​​ by​​ choice of course.​​ I​​ also​​ see​​ why​​ it​​ was so special to you;​​ one of two buildings left on Main Street over a hundred years old, forty of which it served as a brothel. You always did like a place with​​ some​​ history.​​ The real value,​​ however,​​ is​​ the​​ people and​​ stories on display every night​​ here, many of​​ whom and​​ which I’ve​​ borrowed for​​ our story.

I only say “our story”​​ now​​ because so much of your story has become mine, and​​ I’m not sure if I’m ready​​ to be alone again​​ yet.​​ I always asked​​ you​​ if you thought I was going crazy, and you always reassured me, “only in the most lucid way.”​​ But​​ now that​​ this last remnant of you​​ is​​ going to be​​ gone, who’s going to be around to substantiate that?​​ You’ve become​​ so​​ fixed​​ in​​ my imagination​​ I’m beginning​​ to question​​ if any of it​​ really​​ happened at all.​​ But I’ve got to move on.​​ I’ve got to​​ leave you in this locket of time,​​ because​​ I no longer​​ have​​ time to hold onto​​ time. Only​​ death can​​ hold onto time forever.

But​​ so can a​​ great story—well, maybe not forever. But longer than I​​ surely​​ can in the limited time I have left.​​ 

So​​ as the love of your life,​​ simply because you had no others​​ and I had no others—we​​ didn’t have the​​ “time”,​​ I’ve now done my due diligence​​ in​​ trying my best to make​​ sure the world​​ remembers​​ Walter Huxley. Because​​ if you weren’t love, you were surely love’s muse.​​ And​​ if there is any practical purpose for love, it’s having someone who can tell your story​​ in case​​ you’re no longer around to—or​​ in my case,​​ finish the ending, the ending I​​ accidently​​ took away from you​​ that fateful early Christmas morning.​​ I never did get to hear that second verse.​​ 

Although we​​ only​​ met​​ a mere few seconds in this​​ existence​​ Mister Huxley,​​ maybe we can really​​ fall in love​​ in another.​​ I guess I’ll find out soon​​ coup de​​ foudre.

Love,​​ 

Amber​​ ;-)

 

The Silver Year: Chapter 6

Chapter​​ 6

Who is Walter Huxley?

 

 

VALENTINE’S DAY/​​ WALTER’S BIRTHDAY 2012

 

Walter turned​​ from Orange​​ onto​​ Main Street​​ and into the Huntington Beach Street Fair​​ which​​ filled​​ Main Street with​​ a colorful,​​ noisy​​ mass of people​​ every Tuesday​​ evening.​​ Flanking​​ the street were​​ two long​​ lines​​ of​​ canopies​​ selling​​ commodities​​ of​​ every​​ kind:​​ food,​​ art, clothes,​​ soaps, flowers. There was a farmers market, petting zoo, mechanical​​ and inflatable​​ rides,​​ and​​ street performers and​​ live music​​ at every intersection.​​ It​​ was also​​ the only​​ time​​ locals​​ came out​​ in as many​​ numbers​​ as​​ tourists. It was​​ a​​ smorgasbord​​ of socialization a lonely person​​ needed on occasion,​​ and​​ Walter​​ was going to miss it dearly.

The label’s advance​​ was​​ at​​ an end, and​​ although they allowed​​ him​​ to stay in the​​ beach​​ house,​​ they​​ stopped paying rent two months earlier.​​ Now with​​ less than​​ two​​ hundred dollars​​ to his name​​ and soon to be living with Grandma again,​​ Walter​​ felt no shame​​ doubling​​ up on​​ all the​​ free samples​​ he​​ could get​​ as he moved through​​ the​​ food​​ vendors​​ and farmers market. By PCH, he was pleasantly full.​​ 

Crossing​​ PCH​​ just​​ before sunset, he​​ walked​​ onto​​ the​​ Huntington Beach Pier,​​ his​​ favorite part of his walk​​ and home to​​ his​​ spot.​​ The​​ pier​​ was the largest in Orange County​​ and​​ buoyed​​ a full-size Ruby’s Diner at the end.​​ With surfers​​ crisscrossing​​ its pillars on​​ near-constant swells, the pier was​​ Surf City’s centerpiece​​ and​​ attracted​​ travelers from​​ all over​​ the world. This​​ daily​​ washing of faces mixed with​​ the​​ fixed​​ tides of Ruby’s waitresses was why​​ he​​ never tired of walking​​ the pier.​​ Every day it was different. And​​ instead of going out into the world, the pier brought the world to​​ Walter.

Reaching​​ the pier’s​​ spear-shaped​​ end,​​ he​​ was​​ happy to​​ find​​ his​​ “spot”, the most seaward-facing tip,​​ vacant.​​ Wedging into it,​​ he​​ imagined​​ himself on​​ a ship​​ bow​​ heading​​ out to sea​​ as waves bowled in beneath. He stayed​​ imagining​​ until the last splinters of​​ the​​ sun​​ were​​ pulled​​ into​​ the horizon.​​ He then turned to people watch.

As they rounded the end of the pier, almost all were​​ nuzzling​​ couples,​​ still​​ drunk on​​ the​​ idealism​​ Valentine’s Day​​ and sunsets​​ seem to​​ bestow​​ on lovers.

Loneliness is such a bitch,​​ Walter​​ thought,​​ but it’s the bitch I love.

It was an apt​​ encapsulation​​ of his creative muse. Without loneliness, creatively, he was​​ dead. Loneliness was​​ his​​ admission inside his head, a reality as real to him as the one outside of it. But​​ as of late,​​ his only pure repository of​​ loneliness was​​ his home.​​ It was why he’d​​ hardly left​​ it​​ the past two months.​​ Outside,​​ he​​ was​​ always​​ vulnerable​​ now​​ to​​ some stranger cauterizing his​​ solitude. However,​​ isolation​​ was​​ costing​​ him his sanity, the very thing solitude was supposed to​​ save. How any artist survived being famous was beyond him, yet​​ his life​​ thus far had been solely dedicated to nothing else. Fame was great when Quinn Quark was perfect. It was a living hell as​​ just​​ Walter Huxley.

​​ Although​​ Walter​​ killed Quinn Quark—arguably​​ after he killed​​ two other people—two months earlier,​​ Quinn​​ was becoming more famous​​ in death​​ than ever.​​ His​​ sharp rise and fall was the stuff of urban legends, and it only fed more​​ interest​​ about the man behind​​ him. It also didn’t help Cirkus wouldn’t confirm any details about​​ Perfect Crime’s​​ breakup, hoping the threat of a lawsuit would change Walter’s mind.

Once​​ the​​ day committed to night,​​ he​​ turned​​ away from the people and​​ back to the ocean.​​ His​​ ship​​ bow​​ was now​​ sailing​​ the cosmos. Black sky​​ sat upon​​ black sea,​​ creating​​ an​​ artifice​​ of​​ twinkling​​ space​​ to​​ wonder​​ and​​ wander​​ about. Lady Stardust—his pet name for the night sky—was the only remedy​​ for a mind​​ as​​ awash in death as his;​​ she transcended​​ it.​​ While​​ nothing​​ compared​​ to her,​​ the same laws that governed​​ her​​ governed​​ him, and the same matter that made​​ her​​ made​​ him, and knowing​​ this​​ calmed him​​ for the same reason prayer calms​​ someone.​​ ​​ 

“Happy birthday Quarky!” a voice roped​​ Walter​​ back to Earth. He didn’t need to turn to know who it was. There was only one person​​ on Earth​​ who called him Quarky:​​ Lola.​​ 

 

“I thought I’d find you in your spot,”​​ she​​ said, snuggling into his side.​​ “For someone who supposedly hates​​ routine, you sure are predictable at times.”​​ In the faint glow from the Ruby’s Diner​​ behind them, Walter noticed some new leopard spots painted into​​ the buzzed sides of her​​ mohawk.

“Everyone needs​​ the support of​​ some​​ familiarity​​ in life,”​​ he said, his face​​ not happy or unhappy to see her.​​ Their meetings​​ were always​​ double-edged now.

“Well,​​ most people find that with family and friends,” she said,​​ “not walks and thinking spots.”

“I like my solitude.​​ It’s important​​ to my creative process.”

“Oh really? I never knew. So glad we got you that beach house. Does this mean we’re finally getting that album you promised back in December​​ then?”

He ignored​​ her​​ and​​ craned​​ his head​​ back​​ up​​ at​​ Lady Stardust.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s your birthday, and if you don’t want to talk about it​​ today, that’s​​ okay. I know it’s also your last day at the house. I’m sorry it had to land​​ on​​ your birthday​​ . . .​​ But​​ still...” she pulled his​​ chin and​​ eyes back to​​ Earth,​​ “…I would like to know what’s going on?​​ I’m worried about you.​​ You​​ haven’t returned​​ any​​ of my​​ calls or texts​​ in​​ the last​​ week, and I haven’t​​ actually​​ seen you​​ in​​ over a month.​​ Look at this beard you’ve grown.”​​ She​​ stroked​​ his face.​​ “I​​ just​​ needed​​ to​​ make sure you​​ were​​ at least​​ living.”

Well...”​​ Walter said, his hands gesturing​​ over himself,​​ je pense,​​ donc je suis.​​ Thanks for checking​​ in, but I​​ was enjoying being alone, especially since that’s becoming less and less of a privilege lately.

“Quinn Quark!” A passerby shouted.​​ 

Fuck,” Walter​​ said​​ under his breath.​​ Lola’s​​ flamboyant​​ fin​​ must’ve attracted eyes that otherwise​​ would’ve​​ missed him.​​ 

It was an awkward intrusion as​​ a​​ teenage boy forced his way between them.​​ “Holy shit!​​ You’re Quinn Quark,” he said.​​ “I’m sorry to bother you, but​​ do you mind if I get a picture​​ with you?”

“Fine,”​​ Lola​​ said​​ to Walter,​​ discreetly​​ wiping her eyes.​​ “I’ll go.”​​ But now​​ he​​ wanted​​ nothing more than for​​ her to stay.​​ Fame​​ was​​ much​​ easier to handle​​ when she was​​ by his side.​​ But out of pride,​​ he​​ let her​​ leave.

The​​ fan​​ asked​​ for a picture again.

“Um... sure,​​ of course,” Walter said​​ to him,​​ his eyes still on​​ Lola.​​ He​​ then​​ held a​​ smile​​ while​​ the fan’s girlfriend fumbled with her phone​​ for thirty seconds before finally taking the picture.

“Is the album​​ still coming out?—What’s it sound like?—Do you have a new bassist?—Perfect Crime’s gonna​​ stay together​​ right?—You gotta keep going​​ man—Your voice was one of a kind…”​​ the​​ fan​​ sawed on​​ and on.

“Um…​​ I’m​​ really​​ sorry,” Walter said, watching Lola grow smaller and smaller,​​ “but​​ I’ve got to go.”​​ He​​ didn’t want to be alone​​ on his birthday​​ anymore.

“Lola!”​​ he​​ shouted​​ running after her. She​​ glimpsed​​ back and​​ tried​​ to​​ continue, but​​ couldn’t.

What?” she stung​​ back. “You​​ obviously don’t want to see me.​​ I’m sorry I ever cared.”

“That’s not true,” he said catching up to her, then kept moving. “Come on,​​ let’s walk and talk​​ . . .​​ I am​​ glad to see you, but you know, it’s…”

“Complicated​​ now?​​ Complicated​​ because​​ I​​ represent your enemy?​​ Yeah, it hasn’t been easy for me either​​ Walter.”

“Quinn! Quinn!...” a​​ group​​ of teenage boys and girls accosted​​ them​​ from the front.​​ Even though he​​ had​​ just left the fan,​​ Walter’s​​ paranoia told him the fan​​ must’ve​​ broadcasted his location​​ online​​ after posting their picture together,​​ and​​ now​​ sharks​​ were swimming in from everywhere.​​ The commotion​​ drew​​ in​​ the​​ rest of​​ the​​ pier’s​​ traffic, and soon everyone was​​ halted​​ around​​ him.​​ He​​ cowered​​ to​​ the​​ pier’s​​ railing​​ as​​ the crowds​​ closed in​​ armed with cellphones.

FUCK OFF!” he​​ lashed​​ back.​​ “I’m not​​ fucking​​ Quinn Quark! I’m Walter Huxley—Walter​​ fucking​​ Huxley!​​ Quinn Quark is​​ dead.​​ Normally he could keep it together better than this, but​​ the inside of him was​​ so​​ fractured, it was getting​​ harder all the time.

Lola’s mouth​​ suspended​​ open. She had never seen him reject fans, and especially so brashly.​​ The crowd looked​​ dumbfounded​​ at one another.

“Walter Huxley?” one of the teenage girls said. “What kind of weird name is that?”​​ People said this​​ about his​​ real​​ name​​ a lot.​​ Like him—and like his stage name​​ for that matter,​​ it was a bit odd.​​ 

“No,​​ he’s​​ Quinn Quark,”​​ one of the teenage boys​​ said. “Look, he’s got the bellbottoms and everything. His hair’s shorter,​​ and he’s got a beard, but​​ that’s him​​ . . . Hey Quinn.​​ Is it true?​​ Did​​ you​​ go crazy and​​ kill Squids?”​​ Obviously,​​ this wasn’t a fan, but a heckler, something​​ Walter​​ had a growing number of.​​ 

Do you think if I killed Squids…​​ Do​​ you think if I killed​​ Squids” …I’d still be walking the streets?​​ was what​​ he was trying to say, but couldn’t, because in​​ exactitude​​ he​​ had​​ been​​ a pivotal​​ actor​​ in Squids’s​​ death.

Seized​​ by frustration,​​ he​​ fell into one of his​​ newly​​ infamous​​ “fit-o’-fucks”,​​ uncontrollable, arm-throwing,​​ fuck-laced freak-outs that began shortly after Squids’s​​ death.​​ This was the show everyone came to see​​ Walter​​ perform now.​​ A video of one he had two weeks earlier went viral, and since,​​ his number of tantrums and taunting teenagers had exploded exponentially.

“Ha-ha, there he goes!”​​ the instigating teenager​​ said.​​ Some people scolded the hooligan, but just as many​​ laughed​​ with him​​ and started filming with their phones.​​ 

It was the first​​ fit-o’-fuck​​ Lola had​​ witnessed in​​ person.​​ Sure,​​ she’d seen much worse in private,​​ but​​ to​​ see him​​ boil​​ out of control​​ for​​ cheap​​ entertainment​​ was​​ a​​ heartbreaking​​ revelation​​ of​​ his​​ degraded state.

“What​​ the fuck’s​​ wrong with you?!” she yelled at​​ the​​ crowd,​​ shrouding Walter in her arms.​​ As she took him away, some genuine fans​​ tried to follow,​​ still pleading for pictures,​​ but her ferocious​​ HE SAID​​ FUCK-OFF!”​​ kept​​ them​​ back.​​ 

“You okay?” she asked​​ him.

“Yeah—thanks,”​​ Walter​​ said,​​ still slightly prideful.​​ He​​ pulled up his sweater hood​​ and tightly pulled the draw strings.

“You know you can’t hide​​ behind a new haircut and beard,” she​​ told him. “Your most recognizable attribute is your pants. You’ve got to lose the​​ bellbottoms.”

“Never.​​ The bellbottoms​​ have been​​ a part of me long before Quinn Quark was—since high school.​​ They’re​​ my homage to rock n’ roll’s classical heyday.”

She​​ began laughing.​​ First, you gave rock n’ roll the middle finger by​​ quitting,” she said. “Second,​​ although Quinn Quark may have told every reporter that’s why he wore bellbottoms,​​ in truth,​​ Walter​​ is just​​ insecure​​ about his cankles.​​ I know Walter​​ Huxley​​ and​​ Quinn​​ Quark​​ far too​​ well for you to try and bullshit me.​​ I guess Quinn Quark isn’t dead yet.

Walter had​​ forgotten he confessed that to her one night on tour after they had too much wine.

“Now, do you really want me to stay,” Lola​​ said,​​ “or​​ do you just want to​​ continue​​ to​​ bullshit me?”

“Yes, please stay,” he said​​ deflated. “I’m sorry.”

“I​​ forgive you,” she said, and pulled him​​ into her arms.​​ “But only because​​ it’s your birthday. And oh yeah, here’s your birthday kiss.”​​ She lightly​​ kissed​​ his cheek. “Everyone​​ deserves at least​​ one​​ kiss on their birthday.”

“Yes,​​ but​​ I’m sure​​ you​​ have​​ much​​ more than just one kiss in mind for my birthday.”

Lola laughed again.​​ If​​ you’re​​ thinking​​ birthday sex,​​ ha, but no.”​​ 

“Not birthday sex,” Walter said smiling.​​ “I’m talking about the laundry list​​ of​​ items you’re hoping I will pay courtesy​​ to as soon as you no longer have to pay courtesy​​ to​​ my birthday.​​ I know Lola Roxy and Josepha Hagerman​​ far too well by now to be bullshitted​​ also.”

She​​ cleared her throat. “I do,”​​ she​​ confessed,​​ “but it’s​​ only​​ one​​ item.​​ I’d say we could talk about it tomorrow on the phone, but​​ since​​ you​​ never​​ pick up, I have no option​​ but to disgrace your birthday​​ with it.​​ So... you​​ want it now or later?”

“I knew it,” he said gritting his teeth. “Now.​​ Otherwise I’ll be wondering all night.”

“Fine,” she said, reaching​​ into​​ her​​ purse​​ and​​ pulling​​ out a manila​​ envelope.​​ “Here, you’ve​​ been served.”

“You’re suing me?!”

“I’m sorry, but you left the band and Cirkus no other choice.​​ It’s not like you didn’t see this coming.​​ However, there​​ is​​ another option they’re​​ willing to entertain, and believe me,​​ it’s more than generous on their part.”

“What?”

“They want​​ a​​ farewell​​ show​​ to make a live record.”

Walter​​ laughed.​​ Ha, but no,” he said,​​ and​​ smacked​​ the crosswalk button at PCH.​​ “No​​ way I’m going​​ back.​​ Quinn Quark​​ is​​ dead.

And he can stay dead for all I care,” Lola said, “because​​ I​​ don’t need him. I​​ just​​ need you. I don’t give a shit​​ who you are onstage,​​ Quinn, Axl,​​ Ziggy​​ fucking​​ Stardust.​​ I’m just asking​​ Walter​​ for​​ one showand maybe three-four rehearsals. Is​​ that really​​ something you can’t handle?​​ It’s not like Squids was your best friend​​ like he was to your bandmates. Think of​​ what​​ they’re​​ going through.​​ They need closure and so do you.​​ And if​​ you won’t do it for​​ them,​​ do it for me.​​ You realize how much​​ of​​ a slap in the face​​ this​​ all​​ is​​ to me, right?”

“Why?” Walter said. “Because​​ of​​ our​​ personal​​ relationship?​​ The way I remembered it, there​​ was a strict divide between​​ our personal and professional relationship.”

Lola closed her eyes and swallowed what looked to be a scream.

“Well...” she said​​ once she composed herself again,​​ “...I​​ guess I broke that rule from the beginning​​ then. Because I​​ obviously let my personal relationship with you—even before we started fucking—influence my professional one far too much​​ when I put that record deal together​​ for you.​​ Even when the label—along​​ with​​ your own band—pressured me to convince you to​​ rerecord​​ some​​ songs from​​ the​​ EPs​​ for the album,​​ I​​ told them no, to trust you.​​ But​​ here we are,​​ seven months later,​​ after I​​ also​​ convinced the label to​​ let you​​ stay in​​ the​​ house​​ two months longer than they wanted,​​ and​​ you tell me​​ through​​ a fucking text message​​ a week ago​​ that​​ you​​ not only​​ haven’t finished the record,​​ but​​ you’re​​ quitting music​​ altogether. Then you up and​​ ghost me​​ without any​​ further​​ explanation. If you can’t see why that’s​​ slapping me in the face​​ Walter, how about​​ you come closer and I’ll put it another way?”​​ 

He​​ looked straight ahead​​ and gave no comment​​ as they crossed PCH​​ and rejoined the crowds of the street​​ fair.

I​​ trusted you,” Lola​​ continued, “fought​​ for you,​​ believed in you so​​ goddamn​​ much that​​ I​​ didn’t realize​​ just how​​ much I set myself up to be fucked over​​ by you.​​ But I never fathomed you​​ actually​​ would,​​ because of all things I thought you considered​​ me,​​ a friend would be one of them.​​ But no wonder you​​ complain about​​ having​​ so few​​ real​​ friends​​ if this is how you treat​​ them.”

He remained silent, but instead of looking forward, his head went down.

Lola stopped walking. “Are you really​​ just going to continue to ignore me and say nothing?”​​ she asked.

Walter shrugged. “What do you want me to say?”​​ he​​ replied.​​ “I know, I’m a piece of shit.”

She​​ grunted and stomped​​ her black army boot into​​ the ground. “No,” she said, “you’re just​​ an​​ asshole.​​ Well, if you’re not going to do the show, I guess​​ I​​ have no reason to be here since you think that’s the only reason I came down here.”

“It wasn’t?” he said.

She grunted again. “I’ll see you​​ in court,” she said.​​ I won’t intrude on your birthday with yourself any longer​​ . . .​​ BYE!”​​ She​​ then​​ grafted herself into​​ the​​ passing​​ crowds.

As​​ Walter watched her colorful fin swim away, guilt rose like a slow-motion upper cut.​​ “Lola stop!”​​ he​​ cried, and again chased after her.

“Only if you agree​​ to do the show!” she​​ shouted back,​​ her fin still swimming.​​ 

“That’s not fair! Can’t we talk about it?”​​ 

“Oh,​​ now you want to talk?​​ It’s too late Walter.​​ There’s nothing else to talk about​​ unless you’re doing the show.”

“Fine, I’ll do​​ it,” he​​ ceded.

She stopped​​ and turned​​ around, unable​​ to hold back a grin.

“But I want you to know,”​​ he​​ said​​ as he rejoined​​ her,​​ “I’m​​ not​​ doing it​​ for​​ the​​ band, the label, or​​ because of​​ the​​ lawsuit.​​ I’m doing it for you.​​ You’re right​​ Lola. You have been​​ so much more​​ to me​​ than just a friend, and​​ really, you’re​​ my only friend other than my grandma.​​ I’m​​ so​​ sorry.​​ I​​ love you.​​ And​​ you know not in an ‘I love you’ sort of way, but in a… well, I’m not sure​​ what kind of way, but I do.”

Lola​​ sighed, still grinning. “Our​​ kind of​​ love is​​ kind of​​ hard to pin down,” she said.​​ “Somewhere between​​ friends,​​ enemies,​​ family,​​ fuckbuddies,​​ business​​ partners​​ . . .​​ But​​ I​​ do​​ love you​​ Walter,” she​​ said​​ clasping tight onto him. “No matter how much I sometimes hate you. But also,​​ thank you.​​ I know​​ this isn’t​​ easy​​ for you.”

“Like I said,” he said​​ into her ear as they kept holding,​​ “I’m only doing it for you.”

“And​​ it’s​​ a​​ good thing you are,” she said,​​ “because that​​ envelope is​​ full of​​ mostly blank paper. You can’t serve papers for a case you’re involved in.”

Walter​​ made a long groan.

“You’re turned on, aren’t you?”​​ she​​ said​​ feeling​​ some added bulk pressed against her​​ leg.

He pulled away​​ and​​ nodded.

“You’re​​ a sick freak, you know that?” she said​​ pulling him back in, then bit his ear.​​ “But so am I.​​ I guess that’s why we​​ love each other​​ so much.”​​ 

 

Back at Walter’s place​​ on his living room floor,​​ cuddling​​ atop​​ his​​ crippled camping​​ cot​​ which had collapsed under the​​ heft​​ of​​ their​​ lovemaking,​​ he and Lola​​ passed​​ a whiskey bottle​​ and kisses to each other while​​ Night Moves​​ rolled out​​ softly​​ from the radio.​​ He​​ had​​ missed​​ her more than he thought. Nothing was more healing to a man’s sanity than the soft hold of a woman who knew him well, even if she couldn’t hold him forever.​​ 

“So,​​ what are you​​ going to do now?”​​ Lola​​ asked​​ once the radio went to break.

“Now what?” Walter said.

“Now that you’ve quit music.​​ You must’ve quit it for something.”

“Do we really have to​​ talk about​​ this​​ right​​ now?”

“Sorry,​​ but​​ I can’t get it off my mind.​​ Plus,​​ I​​ think I​​ deserve to know​​ why you’re abandoning the dream I worked so hard to help you​​ reach; the dream​​ you also worked your entire life for.​​ I understand Squids’s death was tragic, especially​​ right​​ after Amber’s, but​​ still,​​ there​​ has to be something else.”

“I​​ just​​ realized rock star is not who I am, okay?​​ Yes, it’s what I thought I wanted to be when I was eleven​​ and what everyone​​ has​​ expected of me​​ since—with​​ the​​ exception of a few college professors, but I didn’t realize being famous would be so...​​ so intrusive​​ on my art.​​ It’s great onstage, but I don’t​​ want​​ onstage following me offstage. I need offstage for​​ life and​​ art.”

“Okay,” Lola said, “but that still doesn’t answer my question. Are you going back to physics?”

“No​​ . . .​​ I’m​​ going​​ to be a writer.”

“A writer? Like a songwriter?”

“No,​​ like an author. I want to write a novel. However,​​ I’m finding it a lot more difficult than I even​​ imagined.”

“A novel​​ Walter?” Lola said shaking her head. “Is this because of Amber?​​ Look,​​ I understand the incredible guilt you feel, but throwing away your dream for hers isn’t going to make​​ it​​ go away.”

“You’re right,” Walter said,​​ “and that’s not why​​ I’m doing it—well maybe a little.​​ Amber always said I should explore my talents in writing more. However, the real​​ reason is​​ I’ve come to realize writing is​​ the only medium​​ that can truly satisfy me​​ as​​ an artist and as a​​ logician. I think that’s why​​ neither physicist or rock star worked out for me. Both only satisfied​​ one aspect of me. But a novel,​​ it​​ can be a​​ platform​​ for​​ both​​ theory and creativity.”

“I​​ don’t know,”​​ she​​ said​​ still shaking her head.​​ “It doesn’t​​ make much sense to me​​ because I’ve never thought of you as a​​ ‘writer’—well, outside of​​ a​​ songwriter.​​ But​​ I suppose there might be some crossover.​​ Have you​​ written anything​​ yet?”

“Just​​ half a page.”

“Want to​​ read​​ it​​ to me?”

“I’m not sure. It’s really rough.​​ I probably won’t even​​ use it​​ for​​ my novel.​​ It’s just​​ an​​ exercise I found online for new writers that’s supposed to stimulate the creative process.​​ You’re supposed to introduce your writing as if it were​​ you, but obviously I’m still trying to figure out who that​​ ‘you’​​ is.”

“Just read it.”

Walter​​ sighed, then​​ got up and went to the kitchen. He​​ pulled a​​ gray​​ spiral notebook​​ out of one of the drawers, then laid back down beside her.

“It’s called,​​ Who is Walter Huxley?” he said. He took a​​ few deep​​ breaths, then began:

“I am Walter Huxley and I am​​ one of the loneliest people on Earth; I am​​ a writer.​​ But there’s something sacred in a writer’s loneliness: sanity,​​ hence why so many of us writers end up sacrificing our own for our readers’ sake.

“Call me​​ arrogant, promiscuous,​​ sexist,​​ reckless,​​ irrational, contradicting, insecure, indecisive, self-loathing, self-loving, or just down right confusing, and​​ at times​​ you’d​​ be absolutely​​ correct​​ because at one time or another I probably was. But in choosing an identity,​​ one must try on all​​ of​​ the​​ available​​ masks​​ life presents them. And while​​ I​​ always​​ try​​ to​​ wear​​ one​​ that is​​ my own, I​​ often​​ find​​ someone​​ wore​​ me​​ better before me.​​ However,​​ it’s always welcomed to know I’m not alone​​ while looking in the mirror, and that I’m always welcomed to break it also. Great philosophy lies in the brilliance of broken mirrors, not​​ in the​​ reflections of them. But still, once you piece​​ broken​​ mirrors​​ back together,​​ mask or not,​​ it’s still​​ only​​ you staring back.”

Walter’s eyes came up from the​​ notebook. The look on​​ Lola’s face was not one of satisfaction or dislike, but confusion. His eyes fled back down.

“It’s horrible!” he cried.​​ “It’s nothing but a clusterfuck of nonsensical narcissism. That’s what you do when something sucks, inject it with ego​​ and​​ lacquer it over with pretentious,​​ meaningless​​ nonsense​​ so​​ nobody can look into​​ it​​ and see the piece of shit it truly is.”

“That’s not true,” Lola said. “Was it​​ a little​​ nonsensical and narcissistic?​​ I suppose.​​ However,​​ it had moments of promise​​ too.​​ But regardless,​​ of course you’re going to feel​​ like a failure​​ in the beginning​​ Walter. Success is nothing but the accumulation​​ of​​ failure.”

“I know,” he said,​​ but it’s been a long time since I’ve been at the beginning​​ of​​ accumulation,​​ and I just wonder if it’s too late​​ for me, or if this​​ is​​ a big mistake.​​ But no matter how hard I try​​ to​​ quit, something​​ keeps​​ telling​​ me​​ writer.

The waterworks began,​​ and Walter’s voice strained somewhere between a whine and scream—a wheam.

“Two-thousand-twelve​​ just wasn’t supposed to be like this,” he wheamed. “This wasn’t how I imagined​​ my silver year going.​​ Twenty-five​​ is supposed to be the prime of my life, but​​ so far,​​ there’s nothing prime, silver or bright about​​ it, only darkness.​​ But​​ I guess I just like​​ being​​ miserable because every time I manage any sort of stability, I have an irresistible urge to​​ take the legs right out from beneath me.​​ Why​​ do I always do that?​​ Why-why-why-why…”​​ 

He then​​ tore​​ his injected and lacquered​​ piece of shit​​ from his notebook​​ and began​​ shredding​​ it in a puerile fit.​​ “Why-why-why-why…”

Lola​​ held back a smile​​ while​​ waiting​​ for​​ his​​ fit​​ to​​ subside.​​ “Because​​ maybe​​ silver years are for silver linings,” she​​ then​​ said.​​ “After all, you haven’t even been twenty-five for a day yet. You don’t know what this year has in store for you.​​ But seriously​​ Walter,​​ you need to​​ stop beating yourself up​​ so much.​​ I think this show will​​ be​​ a​​ healthy​​ distraction​​ for you.”

“Or it could just cause me another breakdown,” he said.

“Yes, but​​ I think it’s more likely going to save you from another one at this point.​​ I can see you’ve been​​ alone with yourself for too long, and like you always said, you’re not very friendly to yourself. But don’t worry,​​ I’m going to do everything in my power to make​​ this as least stressful​​ as​​ possible. Oh, and​​ I​​ completely​​ forgot to tell you​​ the venue.​​ I was keeping​​ it in my back pocket along​​ with​​ another thing​​ in case the fake court papers didn’t work.​​ It’s​​ the last stop of the tour we​​ never made it to.”

“The​​ Berkeley​​ Greek?”​​ he asked.​​ The​​ Berkeley​​ Greek​​ was​​ Walter’s​​ favorite​​ venue.

“Yes sir,” Lola said. “And for bass, this studio guy named Jason​​ agreed​​ to​​ fill in. I think you might​​ know him from​​ some of​​ his previous​​ work, some​​ band called​​ Metallica.”

“No...​​ No​​ you didn’t,” Walter said breathing heavy.

“I did,” she said​​ smiling.

“I’m going to be playing​​ The Greek​​ with Jason Newstead?!”

“You are—that is​​ if you don’t chicken out.”

Unable to contain his joy, Walter​​ stood​​ and began running around​​ the​​ small​​ house, still naked.

“Oh Quarky,” Lola said​​ looking​​ at​​ his cute little butt,​​ “I can’t tell you how happy​​ this​​ makes me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media’s Role in The Huntington Beach Riot

hb-riot1

By Bradley Stockwell

This last Sunday, as many Orange County residents know, there was an unfortunate mishap after the conclusion of U.S. Open of Surfing in our hometown of Huntington Beach. Many are calling it a riot, however HBPD’s official statement labeled it as “a disturbance”. Technicalities aside, I’m not here to report the incident, but to bring to light the integral role social media played in the events of Sunday night.

As I became aware of the incident from the unusual amount of police cars passing down my street and phone calls from friends, I scanned the news channels and Internet for more information, however there was none to be found. My first thought was my friends had exaggerated the severity of the incident until I went to Instagram and searched the hashtags “#USOPEN” and “#RIOT”. This was when I realized it was no minor incident as photos and short videos of fights, vandalism and policemen marching down Main Street with riot gear and tear gas enveloped my phone’s screen. It wasn’t until about ten minutes after this, that I saw the first news report, however there were no photos, videos, or even someone on scene yet.

After Sunday’s mayhem subsided, I thought for all the supposed negatives of social media, here is an example of something truly remarkable; hundreds of citizen reporters on scene showcasing the graphic and personal detail of the event as it unfolded. As a former journalist, I am in awe of how quickly the information disseminated to the world thanks to social media. Social media has also been the primary source for the press and has lead to at least eight arrests since Sunday; from the perpetrators bragging on Twitter, to the flood of video and photographic evidence that was posted HBPD’s Facebook page the week following.

While some argue social media may lead to a ‘1984’ type scenario where “Big Brother” is always watching us, it also gives us the power to fight “Big Brother” and criminals alike. Not only has social media aided in crime investigations, it has also played an integral role in exposing political and police corruption and the liberation of entire countries. While they may have an eye on us, we also have an eye on them.

Whichever side you fall on, it is undeniable that social media is going nowhere soon. It has changed personal communication, marketing, journalism and the world forever. For all the worrying we do of the “Twitterization” of the English language and exposure of personal information (which can only be exposed if you give it), I think we should remember what a great and powerful tool social media is in the hands of the human race.