It all ends like this. It’s 10 p.m. I’m on Greene Street in SoHo; it’s starting to rain, or it’s just stopped raining. I can’t tell. I go to a Gristedes to buy some cat food and a big plastic bottle of diet Snapple. The fat Hispanic checkout girl is cute, but she won’t look at me; when she hands me my dollar bill in change, she’s careful not to touch my palm, not even with her fingernails.
On Broadway, I see Cassie in an ad for a new movie on the top of a speeding cab. It’s not Cassie, of course: she’s not a movie star, but it looks just like her.
I sit on a concrete bench outside of an apartment building.
I see a cute Asian girl walk past in black boots; she’s with a young blonde guy with spiky hair.
Some people who live in the apartment building that I’m sitting in front of walk towards me. They look at me suspiciously, as if I don’t belong here.
Fuck them, too.
Fuck me, too, while I’m at it.
There’s still snow on the ground, piled up here and there; it’s blackened with two weeks’ worth of car exhaust.
I take dinner in a diner at St. Mark’s Place; I forget the name. I have a deli melt: turkey and corned beef covered with cheese on rye bread.
The waitress is cute: chubby, blonde, and Slavic. She has a terrible attitude.
She ignores everyone. She hangs out by the bathroom eating chocolate cake.
I practically have to beg for the check.
Tonight, I was thinking of going to see a David Cronenberg retrospective at the Angelika—they are showing Spider— but I didn’t. I was also thinking of going to a discount video store and buying The Professional, but I didn’t do that either.
Instead, I go home and sit on the couch until I get sleepy.
At a convenience store on the way home, I buy a health food cookie. They are playing a corny Elton John torch song. It’s the one with the refrain, “How wonderful life is now that you’re in the world.” Something like that.
It strikes me that only the most superficial clichés can really give expression to our deepest feelings. I stand there by the hot buffet, next to some chicken parts in red sauce, and listen to this hideous pop song until I feel good and miserable. Tears in my eyes. The whole nine yards. I’m afraid I’ll cry in the mu shu, whatever the fuck it is.
I pay for my cookie and go back out onto the street.
It’s 8am the next morning and I’m on the bus headed back to New Jersey. It’s raining, but warmer than it’s been. I walked about an hour to get to the Port Authority under an umbrella I stole from the lobby of the building where I’m apartment-sitting. I felt dizzy. I took some pictures of locked doors and mannequins.
When I get home, my refrigerator inexplicably froze the soy yogurt I was going to eat. So I eat some leftover turkey taco meat instead.
5.30 a.m.: I’m on the bus back to New York City. It’s so cold and windy that ice-shavings are in the air. I slept exactly twenty minutes last night, from 11:50 to 12:10am. I got up, cruised the Internet, ate some jelly beans. I jerked off for the third time in the last eighteen hours; it’s been a while since I did that. It’s nice to know I still have it in me.
Last night, I ate so much that I thought I was going to have a stroke when I lay down: my eyeballs were really hurting.
This morning, I got on the scale and I’ve gained a pound and a half: 200.5. I’m going to make a real effort to eat some fruit today.
Maybe some cubed cantaloupe?
This is my life, what it’s come to, after Cassie left me. I’m warning you: it’s not pretty.
Everyone hates me where I work, but that’s okay, because I hate everyone here right back. They’re all a bunch of fucking morons.
There are maybe all of two or three women in the whole company I’d even consider balling, and I’ve actually made halfhearted attempts at one point or another over the years to get each of them in the sack. But eventually you hear them talking with each other, going on and on about some fucking TV show like Game of Thrones or spending the weekend shopping for new shower curtain rings and you realize it’s all just impossible. You can’t live like that again.
I stay in my office most of the time anyway and I try not to run into anyone, especially in the men’s room, where you often get trapped standing next to some jerkoff at the urinal. Sometimes I can go the entire day from nine to five without talking to a single soul. That’s a good day. Usually though, I’ll at least have to nod perfunctorily at somebody in the hall.
It’s two-thirty and I’m so goddamned bored and hungry that I go down to the cafeteria. I buy a can of Fresca because a whole can of Fresca has exactly zero calories. Usually, it tastes so disgusting that you can’t drink the whole can anyway. Like artificially sweetened carbonated snot. If you’re lucky, it makes you slightly nauseated so you don’t have any appetite left at all.
I have maybe three fingers of whiskey left in a bottle in the bottom drawer of my desk. I think of mixing it with the Fresca, but I don’t feel like it. Just thinking about drinking is enough to give me a dull headache.
I see an Advil tablet on my desk left behind from something or other. It’s all dusty sitting there by my inbox among the eraser crumbs. I’m tempted to swallow it just for the hell of it; I’m pretty sure it’s an Advil.
But I don’t.
I leave work early because I can’t take it any more. I get on the N-train to Canal Street and walk to the apartment I’m supposed to be watching. I haven’t been here in a couple of days, so the cat makes a real pain in the ass of itself. I have to feed it before I can take a leak or put a pot on to boil.
I always thought I liked living with animals, but I realize that I really don’t. Maybe I’ve been living alone too long now, but I can’t stand the slightest interruption of my peace and quiet. If the cat expresses any will of its own whatsoever, I’m ready to punt it across the room. I don’t because it’s not my cat, and besides, it’s a pretty old cat, so it doesn’t have the energy to pester me for too long. I simply thump it on the head with my knuckle or a spoon or whatever. Then it goes away.
I’m sitting now in a black massage recliner, but I can’t figure out how to turn it on. That’s fine: those kind of fake electric vibration things just make me more tense, anyway.
I’m sipping tea and I’m doing a little reading.
Maybe I’ll take a walk later. I’ll have to go get something to eat for dinner in any event. I doodle a cartoon on the inside back cover of the book I’m reading. I don’t even know what book it is.
I’ll commit suicide soon enough. Maybe before the end of this story, if we’re both lucky. In fact, you can even think of what you’re reading as the longest suicide note in history.
Tonight, it’s freezing outside. Everyone walks around with their faces covered with scarves and coat collars. They all look better like that. The way the wind cuts up and down the street, it must be the coldest day of the winter, and it’s March already: the worst should be over.
I want to do some aimless walking around like I usually do, but it’s just too cold. It’s so fucking cold you feel like your face is being peeled off your head. I look for a pizzeria, but can you believe it: I’m in downtown Manhattan and I can’t find a pizzeria!
It’s too cold to waste time, so I just buy some breaded chicken cutlets and a package of Kaiser rolls at the Gristedes and hurry back to the apartment.
I think about stopping at a pub on Broome Street for a drink, but I don’t. I pass the Angelika and I think again about seeing David Cronenberg’s Spider, but I don’t do that either.
I don’t feel too badly about spending the evening at home. The streets are pretty empty tonight: no one wants to be outside.
I watch Judy Woodruff on TV while I eat my chicken sandwiches. She’s talking about the war in Afghanistan or someplace dry and interviewing a couple of talking heads in empty suits who are supposed to be experts about something or other. Someone else interviews Maxine Waters who’s running for president or trying to kill the president, who the fuck knows, she gets on my nerves so much by talking nonsense that I turn the TV off.
Sometimes I think: well, I really wasted the day; I totally burned it up with nothing to show for it. But then I think: what else could I really have done with the day anyway? What wouldn’t have been a complete waste of time?
How could I possibly not have wasted it?
That’s the only thought that comforts me. That makes life seem possible.
I sit at the computer and run Cassie’s name through a Google search to see if by any chance she was killed in a traffic accident or something like that, but no, she’s still alive, still sucking other men’s cocks out there somewhere, I guess.
I fall asleep and wake up again and I hope it’s not as freezing cold as it was yesterday. It isn’t supposed to be, but I can’t imagine how it’s going to warm up to 40 like they say. It’s five-thirty in the morning and I have a date on Prince Street. I have to get showered, shaved, and dressed. I want to photograph a pair of sexy-looking mannequins before the streets start crowding up with real people.
Lately, I’ve begun to consider how dangerously close I am to being one of those guys who live alone with a mannequin. The idea really doesn’t seem that preposterous to me anymore. Is it really any worse than how other people live? I mean, is it really any different?
After a while, I think most people end up being mannequins to each other, anyway; they just don’t usually look and dress as good.
Besides, who doesn’t like the idea of a sex robot?
That’s sort of what a mannequin is, I think. A sex robot without the complicated electronics. Without all the inner slop and involuntary contractions and whining and bitching and misunderstandings of simple English that make it more satisfying to fuck than a real person. Movement in a sex partner is overrated anyway.
Whatever horrible jazz music they were playing in the Starbucks I’m sitting in to make you think this was a real coffeehouse has stopped and it’s been replaced with this really depressing atonal piano dirge that sounds like the stuff they play in one of those artsy-fartsy European movies that are set by the sea where everyone talks to each other in stilted subtitles.
The other day, I was thinking that I would be perfectly content to be surrounded by screens and monitors. That this kind of life was the future of humanity, the closest mankind will ever get to heaven. In the future, you won’t even need your body, except for the most rudimentary things, like eating and shitting and having ejaculations. The body would just be this flabby white tuber feeding your polyp-like brain bud.
You’d lie there in an adjustable bed surrounded by fifty or sixty monitors and screens. It would be like looking out of the eye of a fly, but each facet would show something else. Webcams set up all over the place. Probably some super-rich guy is living like this right now. It would be like looking out of the heads of everyone on Earth. It would be like having the fly’s eye of God, or something like that.
I’m talking total nonsense now.
Anyway, when you died, it wouldn’t even be like dying but just gradually losing interest in the screens. You see you were never really there to begin with, you were just watching it all, like satellite TV but with infinite channels of inanity: and the beautiful thing is, in the future, everyone could do this.
There’s already been enough life lived throughout the last thousands of years and it’s all recorded or simulated on film or tape or CDs or whatever. They’ve even gone back and relived what it was like to live before TV, back in the days of the caveman and Cleopatra, so they could run those tapes, too. That’s how bored we are.
Everything’s been recorded. No one has to be bothered living anymore. There isn’t anything left to do anyway: there’s only stuff to repeat.
It’s pounding rain. I’m in my favorite coffee shop at Union Square, at a corner table, watching people rushing to work. I’ve “borrowed” yet another umbrella because I’ve forgotten to bring the one I stole the other day.
Yesterday at the office, Paula was talking about having an imaginary twin sister when she was a little girl. I think it might be nice to convince myself I have an imaginary friend. It could help me disassociate more. But first, I’d need to think of a name for my imaginary friend. I’d need to give him a distinctive personality, preferably one very different from my own.
I don’t find anything wrong with purposely inducing psychosis to escape the ego. What’s the difference between mysticism and mental illness, anyway. And who cares? They both have the same goal: getting us the hell away from a reality that is killing us.
Sometimes I feel as if I were an alien dropped onto earth. I’ve been provided extensive “intelligence” about human beings and I’ve lived undercover among them for decades. My mission, however, has been a total failure and primarily for this reason: all the intelligence I’ve been given is virtually worthless. My race, apparently, knows absolutely nothing about human beings.
Real human beings never act as we’ve been given to believe they will act. All the books, tapes, films, CDs, TV shows, video games we’ve seen are wrong. The human being projected in such media is a myth. Maybe it’s even deliberate misinformation.
Whatever species I’ve encountered here, one thing is certain: they aren’t human beings. This is my conclusion: the “human being,” as it’s commonly known, does not exist.
Last night, the weatherman was right for a change: it was pretty warm out, about 40 degrees. So I took a walk from Times Square to Union Square. I wanted to stop at the Strand, but it was too crowded.
I continued down Broadway, took forty dollars out from an ATM, and found myself at a smaller, crummier used bookstore on Mercer Street. But at least this one wasn’t crowded and they didn’t make you check your backpack. That made me immediately think of trying to steal something.
Anyway, I didn’t find anything I wanted, so I left and went to one of those Arab corner markets and bought cat food, soy hotdogs, and a loaf of bread.
Back at the apartment, I ate one of the soy hot dogs and it didn’t taste like a hot dog. It didn’t taste like anything at all, like they took nothing and formed it into a tube. Then they put way too much pepper on it so it would taste like something.
I decided I couldn’t just sit at home and do nothing again—even though that’s what I wanted to do—so I took a walk to the West Village. I had the vague intention of going to 4th Street. I think that’s where I wanted to go, anyway. But I got lost around Washington Square Park.
I ended up in a bar called Boxer’s and ordered a gin-and-tonic. The bartender was cute, but only because she was standing behind a bar and there wasn’t anything else really to look at. She was wearing a belly shirt, but her belly was sort of fat and white. She talked to me a little about straws.
I sat there for a while but nothing was really happening. It was a Tuesday night. So I left.
It was 9:45 and I ended up in the Angelika theater waiting for the 10:05 showing of David Cronenberg’s Spider. I didn’t really feel like seeing it anymore, but I did the two previous nights, so I figured I should see it since I was in the neighborhood. Besides, I wanted some popcorn.
The only problem was that the popcorn line was way too long and the gin and tonic I just drank made me nauseous.
So I didn’t get the popcorn after all.
I took a seat at the very back of the theater so that I was like a football field away from the screen. I could barely see a thing. I didn’t care. The important thing was that no one could kick the back of my chair.
Nick Willis is just a guy who hasn’t had all he can take yet, but is damn near chinning up to it. He’s living the maggot life in and around Brooklyn, New York. You can’t find him anywhere and he likes it like that.