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 colorfully noisy​​ mass of people​​ instead of vehicles​​ every Tuesday​​ night. The street’s squirmy,​​ people-colored​​ center​​ tentacled​​ across PCH and​​ onto​​ the pier,​​ spilling​​ a third of a mile into the​​ blushing​​ blue​​ ocean​​ view and orange cream sky.

Flanking​​ and serving​​ the​​ people-colored​​ center​​ was a farmers market and​​ two long​​ lines​​ of​​ canopies​​ selling​​ commodities​​ and​​ skills​​ of​​ every​​ kind:​​ food,​​ art, clothes,​​ soaps, flowers, animal, mechanical, and inflatable​​ rides,​​ portable and live music,​​ massages, psychic readings,​​ professional and homeless​​ street performances. The street fair​​ was also​​ the only​​ event​​ downtown​​ bums and​​ locals​​ came out​​ in as many​​ numbers​​ as​​ tourists. It was​​ a​​ smorgasbord​​ of socialization a lonely person could get high from, and​​ Walter​​ was going to miss getting high a lot.​​ Grandma didn’t allow weed or booze.​​ 

Regardless, Walter​​ didn’t have the budget for them.​​ The label’s advance​​ was​​ at​​ an end, and​​ although they allowed​​ him​​ to stay in the 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 free samples​​ of food​​ as he moved through​​ the​​ street fair.​​ 

By​​ PCH, he​​ was​​ full enough.​​ Crossing the road, he​​ entered​​ Huntington Beach Pier,​​ Walter’s​​ 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​​ cute​​ Ruby’s waitresses was why​​ Walter​​ never tired of walking​​ the pier.​​ Instead of going out into the world, the pier brought the world to him.

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​​ his​​ foci​​ rounded the end of the pier, almost all were​​ nuzzling​​ couples,​​ still​​ drunk on​​ the​​ bleeding​​ idealism​​ Valentine’s Day​​ and sunsets​​ bestow​​ on lovers.

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

​​ It was an apt calculation 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 to​​ some stranger cauterizing his​​ solitude, but​​ 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 whole life this was all he worked for and wanted.​​ ​​ 

​​ 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, Walter turned back to the ocean.​​ His ship was now​​ sailing​​ the cosmos. Black sky​​ sat upon​​ black sea,​​ creating​​ an​​ artifice​​ of​​ twinkling​​ space​​ to​​ wander​​ and​​ wonder​​ 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.​​ ​​ 

“Happy birthday Quarky!” a voice roped him 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,”​​ Lola​​ 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​​ bright, pink,​​ swordfish-like​​ 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​​ . . .​​ But​​ still...” she pulled his​​ chin and​​ eyes back to​​ Earth,​​ “…I would like to know what’s going on?​​ You​​ haven’t returned​​ any​​ calls or texts​​ in​​ the last​​ week, and I haven’t​​ actually​​ seen you​​ in​​ well​​ over a month.​​ Look at this beard you’ve grown.”​​ She​​ stroked​​ the sides​​ of his face.​​ “I know today is your last day with the house—sorry, not my fault it happened to land on your birthday, so​​ I​​ just had to make sure you’re at least​​ living.”

Well...”​​ Walter said, his hands gesturing downward,​​ 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. So please, just go.

“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? You’re like my idol​​ man.”​​ 

Walter​​ looked​​ cynically​​ at the fan.​​ Growing up,​​ he​​ never wanted to meet his idols, fearing he’d find them​​ too​​ human.

“Fine,”​​ Lola​​ said,​​ discreetly​​ wiping her eyes.​​ “I’ll go.”

But as soon as she did,​​ Walter regretted​​ telling her so.​​ His fame​​ was​​ much​​ easier to handle​​ with her​​ by his side.​​ ​​ 

“Please?” the fan asked again.​​ “It would mean so much.”

“Uh…​​ sure,” Walter said,​​ his eyes still on​​ Lola​​ as she moved swiftly down the pier. He​​ forced a smile​​ while​​ the fan’s girlfriend fumbled with her phone.

“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—Your voice was one of a kind man…”​​ the fan​​ sawed on.​​ 

“I’m sorry,​​ I’ve got to go,”​​ Walter said.​​ He​​ didn’t want to be alone anymore. “Uh… thanks for the support,” he said and​​ chased after​​ Lola.

“Lola!”​​ he​​ shouted. 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​​ . . . Come on,​​ let’s walk and talk,”​​ he said​​ catching up​​ to her. “Look,​​ I am​​ glad to see you, but you know, it’s…”

“Complicated?​​ Complicated​​ because​​ your​​ former​​ fuck buddy​​ now represents your enemy?​​ Yeah, it hasn’t been easy for me either.”

“Quinn! Quinn!...” a​​ group​​ of teenage boys and girls accosted​​ Walter from the front.​​ His paranoia told him the other fan broadcasted his location​​ 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​​ Walter,​​ whether they knew​​ Quinn Quark​​ or not.​​ 

Walter​​ cowered​​ to​​ the​​ 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!”​​ Normally he could keep it together better than this, but​​ the inside of him was​​ so​​ fractured​​ and​​ the pieces so fine, it was getting​​ harder all the time.

Lola’s mouth​​ suspended. She had never seen him reject fans, especially​​ so​​ forcefully.​​ The crowd looked confoundedly at one another.

“Walter Huxley?” one of the teenage girls said. “What kind of weird name is that?”​​ Walter received this​​ opinion about his name​​ a lot.​​ Like him, 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​​ just​​ shorter,​​ and he’s got a beard​​ . . . 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.

Frozen 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​​ Walter.

“Yeah—thanks,”​​ he​​ 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.”

Lola began laughing.​​ I know​​ Walter​​ and​​ Quinn far too​​ well​​ for you to​​ bullshit​​ me,” she said.​​ First, you gave rock n’ roll the middle finger by​​ quitting.​​ Second,​​ although Quinn Quark may have told every reporter that’s why he wore bellbottoms,​​ in truth,​​ Walter​​ is just​​ insecure​​ about his cankles.”​​ He’d 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. I’m sorry.”

“I​​ forgive you,” she said, and pulled him closer,​​ “but only because​​ it’s your birthday. And oh yeah, here’s your birthday kiss,”​​ she said and lightly​​ kissed​​ his cheek. “Everyone​​ deserves at least a kiss on their birthday.”

With her​​ kiss​​ came​​ back many​​ warm memories​​ into Walter’s head​​ of that​​ brief but​​ happier past when he was standing on top of​​ the world​​ instead of​​ crushed​​ beneath it. But that’s right,​​ she was with his​​ enemy:​​ his​​ past, and​​ Walter just couldn’t get​​ past​​ his past.

“But​​ I’m sure​​ you’ve​​ got other things in​​ store​​ for my birthday,”​​ he said.

“Like what?​​ Lola said smirking. “Because if​​ you’re​​ thinking​​ birthday sex,​​ ha, but no.”​​ 

“No. 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 Gutierrez​​ far​​ too​​ well by now to be bullshitted.”

She​​ cleared her throat. “I do,”​​ she​​ confessed,​​ “but it’s just 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?”

“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’s​​ 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.​​ “No,” he said, smacking​​ the crosswalk button at PCH.​​ “No​​ way I’m going​​ back.​​ Quinn Quark is dead​​ for good.”

“That’s fine,” she said. “Because I don’t need him, I need you. I don’t give a shit​​ who you are onstage,​​ Quinn, Axl,​​ Ziggy​​ fucking​​ Stardust.​​ I’m just asking​​ Walter​​ for​​ one fucking show,​​ and maybe three-four rehearsals tops. Is​​ that really​​ something you can’t handle?​​ It’s not like Squids was your best friend. Think of​​ what​​ your bandmates​​ are going through.​​ And if not them, think of what​​ I’m​​ going through.​​ You realize how much​​ of​​ a slap in the face​​ this​​ is​​ to me, right?”

“Why?​​ Because​​ 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, 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, 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​​ in a fucking text message​​ a week ago​​ that​​ you​​ not only​​ haven’t finished the record, you’re​​ quitting music​​ altogether. Then you have​​ the​​ audacity to just up and​​ ghost me​​ without any explanation. If you can’t see why that’s​​ slapping me in the face, how about​​ you come closer and I’ll put it another way?”​​ 

Walter​​ 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​​ Walter​​ 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.

Lola grunted and stomped​​ her black army boot into​​ the ground. “Fucking​​ asshole,” she said. “I​​ guess​​ I’ll just see you in court then.​​ You can ignore​​ me and​​ my phone calls, but you can’t ignore a lawsuit.​​ I won’t intrude on your birthday with yourself any longer​​ . . .​​ BYE!”​​ She​​ then​​ grafted herself into​​ the​​ passing​​ crowds and was gone.

Guilt rose​​ like an upper cut​​ as Walter watched her colorful fin swim away.

“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, unable to keep herself from smiling.​​ “But I want you to know,”​​ he​​ said​​ rejoining​​ her,​​ I’m​​ only doing it​​ for​​ you, not the​​ band, the label, or the​​ lawsuit.​​ You’re right. You have been​​ so much more​​ to me​​ than just a friend, and​​ you’re really my only friend​​ other than my grandma.​​ I’m​​ so​​ sorry.​​ I​​ love you​​ Lola.​​ 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.

She hung her arms​​ around him. “Yes,” she said, “our​​ kind of​​ love is​​ kind of​​ hard to pin down,​​ isn’t it?​​ But it’s there,​​ somewhere between​​ friends,​​ family,​​ fucking,​​ and​​ business​​ partners​​ . . .​​ I love you too​​ Walter.​​ But also,​​ thank you.​​ I know​​ this isn’t​​ easy​​ for you, believe me.​​ Also,​​ it’s a good thing you’re not doing the show because​​ of the lawsuit. That envelope is mostly blank paper. You can’t serve papers for a case you’re involved in.”

Walter sighed and shook his head.

“You’re turned on, aren’t you?” Lola said noticing some added bulk pressed against her​​ leg.​​ He​​ sighed again and​​ nodded.​​ “You’re a sick freak​​ Mister Huxley, but so am I.​​ I guess that’s why we’ve always​​ worked so well together.”​​ 

“Can you kiss me​​ again?” he asked.

She grinned, then leaned in, her lips hovering over his.​​ “Yes,” she said. “Everyone deserves​​ at least​​ a kiss on their birthday.”

 

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 this​​ dearly. 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 doing with your life​​ if not music?”​​ Lola​​ asked​​ once the radio went to break.

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

“Sorry, 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.”

“So what, back to physics then?​​ You always said if you weren’t a musician, you’d be a theoretical physicist.”

“No. I​​ want to be a writer.”

“Like a songwriter?”

“No,​​ like an author. I want to write a novel, however,​​ I have no clue​​ where to begin.”

“Then why are you doing it?​​ Because​​ of​​ Amber? Walter,​​ I understand the incredible guilt you feel, but throwing away your dream for hers isn’t going to make​​ your guilt​​ go away.”

“You’re right, and that’s not why​​ I’m doing it—well maybe a little​​ because she was the inspiration.​​ I just​​ realized I’m​​ as much a​​ logician​​ as I am an artist,​​ and I need​​ a medium​​ that can satisfy both, and the only​​ forum​​ that came to mind was​​ a​​ novel.”

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

“Just one page.”

“Want to read it to me?”

“I’m not sure. It’s really rough, and 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.”

Fine.” Walter got up and went to the kitchen and pulled a​​ gray​​ spiral notebook​​ out of one of the drawers. “It’s called,​​ Who is Walter Huxley?” he said​​ laying back down beside her. He took a​​ few deep​​ breaths​​ before beginning:

“I'm sometimes hard to understand because I unconsciously speak in metaphors. My train of thought​​ talks to me​​ with them and​​ often​​ has to wander​​ in the dirt​​ before it can bloom into meaning, but I promise it always will, there’s just a lot of dirt in my mind.​​ On the rare occasion​​ my​​ train​​ does derail itself from too​​ much momentum​​ or​​ dirt, I apologize for the casualties, but my train was never intended to carry passengers.

“Call me​​ arrogant, promiscuous,​​ sexist,​​ reckless,​​ irrational, contradicting, charlatanic, satanic, insecure, indecisive, self-loathing, self-loving, or just down right confusing, and​​ I’m sure​​ 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​​ life’s​​ available​​ masks.​​ While​​ I try​​ to​​ wear a​​ mask​​ that is always me,​​ often​​ I​​ discover someone may have​​ worn me​​ better before me, and for the sake of sanity, it’s always welcomed to know I’m not alone​​ while looking in the mirror, and always free to break that mirror, for great philosophy lies in the brilliance of broken mirrors, not​​ in the​​ reflections of​​ them. But still, once you piece​​ mirrors​​ back together,​​ mask or not,​​ it’s still​​ only​​ you staring back.

“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.”

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 nonsensical and narcissistic? A​​ little. But it had moments of​​ great​​ promise​​ too.​​ Regardless, of course you’re going to feel​​ like a failure​​ in the beginning; success is nothing but the accumulation​​ of​​ failure.”

“I know, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been at the beginning​​ of​​ an​​ accumulation, and I just wonder if it’s too late, or if this​​ is​​ a big mistake, but no matter how hard I try​​ to go back, something​​ keeps​​ forcing writer on me.”

The waterworks began​​ at this point​​ 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. This is supposed to be the prime of my life. But there’s nothing prime, silver or bright about the silver anniversary of my life, only​​ unending​​ 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…”​​ Walter took his injected and lacquered​​ piece of shit​​ from his notebook​​ and began tearing it in a puerile fit.​​ “Why-why-why-why…”

Lola waited until​​ his​​ fit subsided​​ before speaking.​​ “Because​​ maybe​​ silver years are for silver linings,” she said.​​ “But seriously,​​ you need to​​ stop beating yourself up​​ so much.​​ You’ve been​​ left alone inside your head for too long,​​ and like you said, you’re not very friendly to yourself.​​ I think this show will​​ serve as​​ a​​ healthy​​ distraction. Oh!​​ And​​ I​​ completely​​ forgot to tell you​​ because I didn’t think the​​ fake court papers​​ would​​ actually​​ work​​ and I was holding it in my back pocket, but​​ the​​ venue is the last stop of the tour we​​ never made it to.”

“You mean the​​ Berkeley​​ Greek?” The​​ Berkeley​​ Greek​​ was​​ Walter’s​​ favorite music venue.

“Yes sir.​​ And for bass, this studio guy named Jason​​ agreed​​ to​​ fill in, but you might​​ know him from​​ his previous band,​​ Metallica.”

“No!​​ No​​ fucking​​ way!​​ I’m going to be playing​​ with Jason Newstead at The Greek?”

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

Unable to contain his joy, Walter​​ stood​​ and began running around​​ the​​ small​​ house​​ with his family jewels​​ flapping​​ openly​​ about.

“Oh Quarky...” Lola said​​ her eyes​​ welling up​​ with tears and laughter​​ “...I can’t tell you how happy​​ this​​ makes me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media’s Role in The Huntington Beach Riot

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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.