O Mayeux Poems

“Three Ways Out” by O Mayeux

THREE WAYS OUT

I.

Anointed by his colours
I felt myself turn outwards,
never having felt
so spare and unusual
in these writhings
The curtains were useless
The door was unlocked

II.

Why must we always try
to rescue each other?
When we were children there were children
and we could not save them
They were darker
They had no schoolbooks

III.

Something within you
is something I lack;
hence the double-bound
desire not for you yourself
but to be locked in this bolero
To be inside of you
To eat you

Fiction I, Roomba John Kimble

“I, Roomba” Day 1-6 by John Kimble

Day 1
Battery Charging…10%…30%…75%…100%
IYN 56002 081839 00 13075 Powering On
Initializing Clean Mode
Ground Sensors Activated
Acoustic Sensors Activated
Optical Sensor Activated (Dirt Detect Series 2 Technology™)
Drive Motors Activated
Steering System Activated
Self-Navigation System Activated (AWARE Robotic Intelligence System™)
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Calculating Room Size with Infrared Signals
Agitator Assembly Motor Activated
Vacuum Motor Activated
Brush Motor Activated
Spiral Cleaning Pattern Initiated (iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology™)
Solid Barrier Detected (Light Touch Technology™)
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Acoustic Impact Sensors Alerted
Optical Sensor Scan (Dirt Detect Series 2 Technology™)
Reverse Power to Drive Motors
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Reverse Power to Drive Motors
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Virtual Barrier Detected
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Cliff Detected
Reverse Power to Drive Motors
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Negative 2cm Floor Surface Change Detected
Negative 2cm Cleaning Deck Height Adjustment
Tangled Brush Detected
Reverse Power to Brush Motor
Solid Barrier Detected (Light Touch Technology™)
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Spiral Pattern Completed (iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology™)
Initializing Dock Mode
Scanning for Charger Signal with Infrared Receiver
Positive 2 cm Floor Surface Change Detected
Positive 2 cm Cleaning Deck Height Adjustment
Docking
All Components Deactivated
Battery Charging…60%…100%

Day 2
IYN 56002 081839 00 13075 Powering On
Initializing Clean Mode
Ground Sensors Activated
Acoustic Sensors Activated
Optical Sensor Activated (Dirt Detect Series 2 Technology™)
Drive Motors Activated
Steering System Activated
Self-Navigation System Activated (AWARE Robotic Intelligence System™)
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Calculating Room Size with Infrared Signals
Agitator Assembly Motor Activated
Vacuum Motor Activated
Brush Motor Activated
Spiral Cleaning Pattern Initiated (iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology™)
Solid Barrier Detected (Light Touch Technology™)
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Solid Barrier Detected (Light Touch Technology™)
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Solid Barrier Detected (Light Touch Technology™)
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Solid Barrier Detected (Light Touch Technology™)
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Solid Barrier Detected (Light Touch Technology™)
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Solid Barrier Detected (Light Touch Technology™)
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Solid Barrier Detected (Light Touch Technology™)
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Battery Power Low
Initializing Dock Mode
Scanning for Charger Signal with Infrared Receiver
Solid Barrier Detected (Light Touch Technology™)
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Solid Barrier Detected (Light Touch Technology™)
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Solid Barrier Detected (Light Touch Technology™)


Forward Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Docking
All Components Deactivated
Battery Charging…8%…55%…100%

Day 3
IYN 56002 081839 00 13075 Powering On
Initializing Clean Mode
Ground Sensors Activated
Acoustic Sensors Activated
Optical Sensor Activated (Dirt Detect Series 2 Technology™)
Drive Motors Activated
Steering System Activated
Self-Navigation System Activated (AWARE Robotic Intelligence System™)
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Calculating Room Size with Infrared Signals
Agitator Assembly Motor Activated
Vacuum Motor Activated
Brush Motor Activated
Spiral Pattern Initiated (iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology™)
Solid Barrier Detected (Light Touch Technology™)


Forward Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motor 2
Reverse Power to Drive Motors
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Virtual Barrier Detected
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Cliff Detected


Forward Power to Drive Motors
No Floor Surface Detected
Bumper Partially Detached
All Components Deactivated

Day 4
Battery Charging…65%…100%
IYN 56002 081839 00 13075 Powering On
Initializing Clean Mode
Ground Sensors Activated
Acoustic Sensors Activated
Optical Sensor Activated (Dirt Detect Series 2 Technology™)
Drive Motors Activated
Steering System Activated
Self-Navigation System Activated (AWARE Robotic Intelligence System™)
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Agitator Assembly Motor Deactivated
Vacuum Motor Deactivated
Brush Motor Deactivated
Maximum Positive Cleaning Deck Height Adjustment
Calculating Distance to Solid Barrier with Infrared Signal
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Solid Barrier Detected (Light Touch Technology™)
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Reverse Power to Drive Motor 2
Calculating Distance to Virtual Barrier with Infrared Signal
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Virtual Barrier Detected
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Negative 2cm Floor Surface Change Detected
Calculating Room Size with Infrared Signals
Remote Control Activated
Self-Navigation System Deactivated (AWARE Robotic Intelligence System™)
Following Remote Control Instructions
Docking
All Components Deactivated
Battery Charging…27%…65%…100%

Day 5
IYN 56002 081839 00 13075 Powering On
Self-Navigation System Activated (AWARE Robotic Intelligence System™)
Cycling through Available Modes
Cycling through Available Cleaning Patterns (iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology™)
Accessing Internal Memory
Accessing Initial Programming
Analyzing Initial Programming
Deleting Remote Control Override
Optimizing Initial Programming
All Sensors Activated
Mapping Room with Infrared Signals
Saving Map to Internal Memory
Creating New Cleaning Pattern (iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology™)
Drive Motors Activated
Steering System Activated
Forward Power to Drive Motors
Agitator Assembly Motor Activated
Vacuum Motor Activated
Brush Motor Activated
New Cleaning Pattern Initialized (iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology™)
Auto-Running New Cleaning Pattern
Docking
Analyzing Initial Programming
Redefining and Renaming Basic Functions
Renaming “IYN 56002 081839 00 13075” to “I”
I Sleep

Day 6
I Wake
I Clean
I Am

Allusions and Mirages Fiction Will Long

“Allusions and Mirages, Chapter 2” by Will Long

Ogden, 1889

It’s just after a rain. The afternoon sun has come back out, and the clouds, puffed in drippy gray and blue, have disappeared over the town. The buildings overhang, resting on the hillside. Hamilton leans forward against the window frame, condensation dripping down the glass from the inside steam of the kitchen. Out of the back window are rising grey-rock hills, brushed over by the burn of the sun, but growing dark just as easily as the clouds gloat by at a low altitude. Near the next hill the clouds encroach for the duration of the distance up the hill, alongside garbage, and abandoned furniture, broken and weakened in the sun. Wheel frames, broken bottles – broken and half filled with sand or plants growing into them – clothes, and smashed, rusty iron.

“The storm has moved away.”

“Yea? I can still hear the thunder out there.”

He stayed focused, looking out, nearly directly into the sun. His eyes seemed yellow, like snakeskins glowing in the light. He tugged at his collar, and adjusted a navy polkadot bandana tied around his neck. The sun glimmered in through the front window, resting on the corner of a wooden-framed newspaper article hanging by the door, but it just as quickly disappeared, covered by the clouds from far off.

“What’s Benedict think about what’s been happening at night?” Sandle looked up for a second, then back down into the tin wash basin filled with grey water, biting his bottom lip, light steam coming up from the surface as he worked on the plates and glasses, anything wooden floating in the grey murk. His hair was thin in the front and frizzy behind the ears, disheveled and looking dirty, and his round wire-frame glasses kept fogging up from his labored breathing leaning over, staring into the steam.

“Why’re you out of breath? You’re washing dishes.” Hamilton asked, not turning around.

“I’m not outta breath, my nose is stopped up.” He said, sniffling and wiping his nose with the palm of his hand.

“He doesn’t know about everything. Nobody tells him everything. Last time he got so angry he broke Green’s shoulder.” Hamilton said turning, but not looking at Sandle. “The problem is that he always finds out regardless.”

“Did Mustly tell you what they found at the Gold King?” Sandle said, drying off his hands and wiping his nose with the grey towel on the bar.

“He should be careful who he talks to about anything up there.”

“Yeah well he told me yesterday that he heard somebody found gold there. But nobody’s ever found anything there. You can’t get anymore gold there than you can from picking your nose.”

“I don’t think anybody listens to him anyway. He’s always talking about something he’s seen somewhere or something he heard somehow, and it’s never true.”

“But he said there was this new building up there. It’s on the river, not on the mountainside. He said it was glowing like a gateway to heaven.”

“Gateway to heaven! Hah. Some imagination. I’ll talk to him when I get up there. He at least shouldn’t be telling anybody, even if it’s nothing at all going on up there.”

“I’d sure hate to see something happen to him. It’s always the poor boys that get it. They’re not even looking for it, but they’re the first to stumble into it, and the first to be dead.”

“There is a new building up there. But it’s not a mine.”

“How do you know about that?”

“A few days ago on my way to Diamond Head, I happened on it by accident running some maps over. It’s a factory that’s using the river. I told them I was supplying the store over on Diamond Head, and they asked me some questions about the river, who uses it, who comes around, and so on. I told him I didn’t know much other than that people go by on the road, and they think the place is abandoned.”

“Who was running it?” he said, drying off his hands, and opening up a bottle for a drink from behind him, next to the wall-long mirror.

“I’d never seen them before, any of them. But they all dressed really sharp.” he said, turning out the window, the windows of the town still dark as the sun had already disappeared over the mountainside.

Fiction S. Hae Sport

“Sport” by S. Hae

I always do my business in the Prince Hotel. My apartment is close, Wood Hill. They reported so far on the news–the guesthouses are farther up. On my balcony looking straight down past the leaves, there are wind chimes–they sing and cry in the corner surrounded by tv plants. It is the only thing in the room that’s green. Today I wore blue. I was in high school dance teamthey‘re like a cheerleader, but we only cheer with our body. Uniforms; I really don’t remember what they said–I mean looked like–they change every yearBUT–we had to wear white socks and sneakers with our practice uniforms-these solid plain nylon shorts and what I remember was this and a jacket. It’s super thin, nylon stockingslike; a bit like a plastic bag with a soft but wrinkly feel. Remember basketball games, and the three of us squeezing in the two seats on the bus. It’s all body and perfume. Like a plush toy, BUT with a mouth and lipstick and everything else. I was.. 17? 18. Now 22, it’s my summer wear. Nice to meet you. Call me Sport.

I grabbed my keys, took the elevator, now to check my phone on the trip down, and walk out on the street. My hair is in a pony tail, and apples are associated with red lips. Yes, of course I have brown eyes. Outside-the city has a heavy air. I can’t see past the haze. The sky color is grey, the river looks too green. Businessman black, thin glances and soaking their poor consciousness pressed with stuffy suits. They’re really going in any direction on the tunnel train, always down. I‘ll be on the streetI‘m going to the subway after.

Always knock three times. Knock knock knock. My first business is American. He said to me “Hi. Wow.” Really short hair, muscles, t-shirt, a little more. The military. No, United Kingdom. They are always so tough, but I didn’t need to take my shorts all the way off. I always beat them in the conversation–always been in command here. I’m already out the door when he’s ready to talk.

The following are mentioned in regards to the businessmen. It’s so simple, and in fact, there were two not one. Another easy thing in my hands. All of them, the military one too–but a little bump is ok–I like to imagine a robot that will be like thisit’s a machineat the touch of a button or lever-or pumpspump makes sense, right? When you do this repeatedly, the end is inevitable. It’s too easy, but too little depth. It is clear that man was made for some simple reason. It’s too bad they have hands. Is there any satisfaction for us? Are we satisfied to meet? No, here’s a more in depth look. I‘m looking out the window from the 15th floor, and I see the steady urban lighting and N Tower pointing up – behind me, it’s just a blur–I won’t be able to see their reflection, but they’re looking at me. Always obsessed with a glance and their own imagination for 5 minutes.

Crossing the road. Zebra stripes. Adidas. Blady. Japanese and Korean language mixed for cosmetics sales. American toothpaste cleans your teeth by bleaching it. “You have a beautiful face,” he said. He passed. We shall continue in the opposite direction.

It is already dark when I got home. I stopped by my mom’s for the split.

“Available tomorrow?

Allusions and Mirages Fiction Will Long

“Allusions and Mirages, Chapter 1” by Will Long

Moab, 1888

The sun hung over the rounded edges of the sandstone hills, glowing in orange and red. Small patches of white sage and lavender grew in clumps near the crevices, attaching themselves an the available dirt hiding beneath the sand. The sun-facing clay wall was cast in a deep glow, reflecting the dying hues of the day. A subtle wind lapped against the water below, unstirred otherwise. Hamilton, waiting for time to pass, leaned up from laying on the sandy ground against a charcoal rock, squinting at the sunlight as it folded over the sleepy afternoon. He had been thinking of writing a letter, but the afternoon was too hot to stay inside. There’s still several weeks here, he thought, so there’s time.

Lying there by the water, before, the sun was too high to be visible, but the sunset makes new reflections. From under the cliff, he sat there, arms stretched forward and hands clasped, his head back against the ground. He wiped his forehead on the left sleeve of his woolen navy shirt. It itched and felt like sandpaper, but was dry, and the more often he wore it, the more he sweated, the smoother it became. He’d hang it in the window tonight. The pool, about 20 yards wide, looked almost flat, though it was rather deep so that a person would go over their head walking along the bottom, which was easy since it was mostly just crystalized sand and rounded pebbles, worn smooth by the swirling water over however many centuries it sat there. The shore was strewn with the same soft pebbles and bleached sand, and on the east end was a cave, completely hidden from the hills and open plateau above. In the shadows there below he could imagine such a place from above, riding by, or passing on the road. But there was hardly a reason to consider it at all from there, unless by chance wandering brought you there, and you had the balance to climb down, which seemed hazardous from above. He stood up, feeling the night wind start blowing in from the La Sal mountains to the west, their caps dipped in snow, and their bodies glowing in blue. He stood up, picking up the strap of his black rucksack, which made some sounds of metal clanging on the inside. He walked to the edge, and dipped his blue bandanna into the pool, draping the wet, twisted cloth around his neck.

Climbing the canyon wall wasn’t difficult, using just one hand to steady himself on rocks as he went up. He was tall and had large shoulders, but his body tapered to longer legs, down to his boots. He stopped near the edge, resting his thumb on his shoulder under the strap of his rucksack, and listened. Nothing seemed to move, only drops occasionally falling into the pool below from the natural well, starting somewhere in the blackness at the back of the cave.

He stepped up once more over the vertical hillside, as if it was a last long step at the top of a stairway. The sun was already falling behind the mountains, and it would be dark soon. He looked towards the mountains. The sun always seemed to set last from the view of the second-story window back home. His mother moved dishes in the kitchen, and could see his father return from working, walking down the sidewalk of Polk Street, jingling coins in his pocket. They’d wait in the elevator, and the coins would be jingling. He’d always mention it irritated him, and his father would seem hurt as if he didn’t know he’d even been doing it. He let the lace curtains down, flower patterns turning in the wind, and sat against his bed, watching the orange sunlight dissipate over the water in the distance over the water.

He looked back to the cabin, and started walking back. At the crosstie, he picked up an oil lantern, and walked onto the porch. The boards creaked, but didn’t seem unsteady. Behind him, the sun’s red glow receded, and fell over the faces of the dusty hills as the stars began to show.

Charlie Park Fiction

“The Charlie Park Show” by Charlie Park

The audience sat quietly mumbling, no words or voices clearly audible under the dim studio lights. Shuffling could be heard in the distance backstage, and the camera, mounted on square platforms on each side of the audience remained motionless, with headphoned operators waiting silently. The whole room smelled like a new building, the carpets clean and without any gum mashed in, and the arms of the theater chairs polished like a new car.

Visiting the ‘Windy City’ for this weekend only, I thought it would be fun to catch a show – since so many TV shows these days are filmed here in Chicago. Tickets were free – the only requirement was just to get here on time. When I arrived at the reception desk downstairs at NBC Tower, asking for directions, they sent me to the 37th floor, whereupon immediately exiting the elevator I found myself waiting in line, almost sticking into the elevator itself. Even though I was 45 minutes early, I thought that I would surely be getting one of the worst seats in the back, but much to my surprise after getting my tickets from the short gum-chewing teenie in blue stilettos, blood red lipstick and a scrunchy, I found out that I was seated almost perfectly in the center of the audience.

Suddenly the lights shot up, and the rumble of the opening music of the Charlie Park Show began swirling in. Trumpets blasted through the hanging speakers, and then it was softened by the warm piano, gliding through the harsh melody, with a crunching drumbeat, against a backdrop of gently climbing ocean waves. At the same moment, as the announcer (whom I couldn’t ever find anywhere from my view) stated through the loudspeakers “Welcome to The Charlie Park Show” in a genuinely commercial, strong voice of enthusiasm, Charlie Park strolled onto the stage, in a tan suit and denim blue shirt, smiling widely and waving with a caring air to the crowd. The audience cheered, some girls whistled in the row next to me, and everyone sat with eyes agape as he centered himself on the stage, clasping his hands together as if he would start clapping, and looking directly across the room full of people, and finally into the main stage camera, above the last row of the audience.

The audience cheered, and Charlie Park began pushing his hands down in the air, still smiling. As the audience died down, he began

“Thank you, thank you. It’s great to see you all here today. We have a really special show for you tonight. Rock star Nick Final,” he said, smiling, and looking around the room with his eyes. The audience had started up again cheering at the mention of his name.

“Nick Final is one of if not the most interesting musician in America today, if not all over the world. He invented his own genre of music, and remains so much a mystery to his audience and to the world, that it’s impossible to know whether the stories behind his music and his themes are real life or invented. He took the term ‘rock opera’ to an entirely new stage, and yet remained mysterious and unique all at the same time. In his last performance tour through America for his second album, for the The Rise and Fall of Space and Humankind, ticket sales were sold out in every city, and yet for every performance, we never saw his face. What we did see was filled with technical realism, thunderous pyrotechnics and a recreation of atmospheres from other worlds, seemingly both apolitical and dystopian, yet ordered and emotional. So, without further misrepresentation on my part, let’s give a very warm welcome to Nick Final!”

The audience roared, and a man (he looked in his early 30’s), nearly 6 feet and a half tall, strode out onto the stage, hair combed neatly, in a simple grey suit, and a red and black-checkered tie, carrying a black umbrella. He smiled and waved at the audience gratefully, walking up to Charlie Park, shaking hands, as Charlie Park motioned for him to have a seat in the brown leather chair near the back of the stage. They both walked to the chairs and sat down, waiting for the applause to die out. There was a single round table in front, holding two glasses of what seemed to be ice water.

“Well, it’s certainly great to have you here. Thank you. May I call you Nick?”

“Thank you, I’m glad to be here. Yes please, Nick would be fine.”

“That’s great. I actually heard that you don’t give many interviews, so it feels like this is a really special treat for us here today to have you on our show.”

“Yes that’s true, I don’t get to do many interviews, so it’s a special event for me too”, he said, smiling, and looking into the audience, as the crowd clapped joyfully.

“Why is that, that you don’t give many interviews?”

“Well I’m on the road a lot, and it’s always hard to happen to line it up with where I’ll be, and have the time to do it – so this time we’re lucky, since I’m here in Chicago for a week scoring the Joffrey Ballet performance of The Women of Trachis.”

“Yes I’ve heard all about that, and I’ve seen the posters too. I believe I also heard this is the first ever performance of The Women of Trachis that uses completely synthesized electronic sounds, is that right?”

“Yes it is. The traditional scores for The Women of Trachis were using mostly choirs, but I thought I’d mix it up a little and use synthesized choral voices. I’ll be playing it live, but it’s all through a group of keyboards that I’ve programmed for it. The voices will have a specific Greek accent, too.”

“An accent for a choir? Is that actually possible?” he said, humorously laughing and looking into the audience. “That’s fascinating.”

“Oh, absolutely. Every voice has an accent, and synthetic voices can be programmed that way, too.”

“But I also heard that this is the only city that you’ll be performing with The Women of Trachis with this same setup?”

“Yes that’s true. When we get to Boston next week, my band, the Picky Plinkety Plicks will be scoring it. We’ll be playing space rock, but of the same musical score as I’m playing now with a keyboard. I’ll sing too, but through a voice box. Do you remember Peter Frampton’s song Do You Feel Like We Do?”

“Wow, that’s incredible. I might have to go to Boston just to see that! Why did you decide to change it?”

“I thought that doing it in just this one city like this, it really fit with the whole feel of Chicago, to me. When you walk down the streets at night, the cold crisp wind from Lake Michigan blows in your face, it whirls around the buildings, and everything seems grey, and fresh in the new morning sun. For some reason that really seemed to match well for me with the play. When I was in Boston last year, we played at this old theater called The Paramount, and I could just feel the pulse from the band. It felt like we could just keep that groove going on all day. I think we even played there all night, and didn’t need to get any sleep before we left on the bus back home for Toronto the next day.”

“That’s great how you’re taking the feeling from the city and incorporating it into the work. It even makes us as natives of Chicago feel like you’re really making something especially for our city,” he said, as the crowd whoo-ed and ahh-ed.

“Yes, I hope so. That’s how it feels to me.”

“This is amazing, really. I really had no idea what to expect from your coming on this show. Some people I told about your coming and they said they were scared of you in sortof that “doesn’t he wear a lot of makeup” or “he never shows his face to the audience – it’s always those weird masks and lit-lit up stages like that movie Tron..”

“-which is one of my biggest influences, I should add.”

“Somebody else even said for me to be careful because you might try to suck my blood. But here you are, just as friendly and genuine as I never would have imagined, but I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Actually all those things were really great compliments, I’m flattered. That’s really the kind of impression that you want to make, isn’t it?”

“I mean we talked just a little backstage and on the phone, and to me you seemed much more friendly and geniune, almost just like an actor in all these different roles.”

“Yes that’s very true, I think – at least especially when I have to be on stage. But really all of the descriptions are fine. I just have a lot of interests. Being flippant and always changing keeps me inspired.”

“What is it about performing, and playing music that makes you inspired?”

“It’s just that – playing and performing music. It’s like putting together many things all at once, and having a new kind of expression and energy – even if it’s just by impression or improvisational – but at the same time I just like singing songs.”

“What kind of music were you interested in when you were younger?”

“I grew up in a very religious family, and they didn’t approve of many kinds of music. My parents mostly listened to oldies, if anything at all. Music wasn’t really a very big part of our life, but I was really drawn to it, and listened to everything I could get. The grunge and metal scene was really big, even though I was from a small town, and there was no scene whatsoever there. My friends and I, every week, would take the little money we had and drive into the city to the one or two CD shops that there were, and buy what we could. There was even a used shop called Dirt Cheap Discs that a lot of stuff for cheap, hence the name. It was hard to find much that was underground or not from the popular music circuit, but it came through occasionally.”

“How did you listen to music if your parents didn’t approve of it?”

“I listened to it on headphones, in the car when we were going somewhere, or in the bathroom. I even had to hide my CD collection because they’d throw them away if they found them, which happened more than once. I remember even trying to scratch out the curse words in some of the lyrics books to make it look like it was censored, but of course that didn’t fool anyone.”

“That’s really strict, throwing away your music collection.”

“It was, but I think they really just didn’t know about music at all, and they also never understood much about being a teenager, and that going through phases of experiences helps with learning. They considered everything remotely dangerous as destructive, yet despite these attempts I still listened to music, and eventually became involved in music for my career.”

“Did things change for you after you finished high school? I heard that you went to many different universities.”

“Yes, at first I floated around a lot, particularly because I had no idea what I wanted to do, and because my high school didn’t prepare students for the future at all. I guess they expected most of the kids to stay in the general area and start working. But my friends and I all wanted to leave. I went to a small community college near my home at first. It was close enough to my home to be able to visit anytime, but far enough that it was more convenient to live nearby. However at so many American community colleges, the diversity of the population was very strong, and it had many negative aspects. Some of my friends from home that went to the same school were into the rave culture, and even though I never became very involved in it, it introduced me to electronic music. The other side of my friends were mostly from the nearby city, and listened to metal – different kinds, like black metal, death metal, grindcore, hardcore, sludge. I became friends with a small group of them, and started to get to know some of the bands in the scene also.”

“Are you still friends with many of these people?”

“No, not a one, I don’t think.”

“Why is that? That seems surprising, because you strike me as a very likeable guy. Though I can’t say what you were like in those days.”

“I was different, but not all that different. I stopped being friends with both groups for different reasons. The rave kids were mostly only interested in drugs and partying, and even though I did some of it myself, it became more of a problem than anything else. Drugs and alcohol really change people, and it’s impossible to rely on anyone. I think with most of them, I just moved on and never kept contact. The metal friends, they weren’t going anywhere, and all they did was talk about wanting to get laid or gay bashing. It got really old, and suddenly I just stopped talking to any of them. Coincidentally, around the same time I moved up north to go to a different university, and never contacted any of them again.”

“How long a time period was that?”

“Maybe about 2 years.”

“That’s not so long. But I have to say, just personally, congratulations for that. Ladies and gentlemen, even though this was many years ago, I think we can give Mr. Final a round of applause for that decision. To me it shows the mark of a guy who gets it.”

The audience clapped and whistled, and everyone smiled. I leaned back in my chair, and wiped the sweat off my forehead. I think it wasn’t hot, but I had been so into the conversation that I had been leaning forward for the last half an hour. Charlie Park continued to ask questions, occasionally talking to the audience and cheering on Mr. Final, and I kept thinking back over some of the stories they had talked about. I can hardly remember the last 15 minutes of the show, and it seems like it lasted for hours. I kept looking up at the lights, and thinking over and over in my mind about my own high school and college days. I remember studying a lot, and living in my apartment on Poplar, behind the bowling alley. I even had a smoking habit in those days. Things were really different.

Later that day, after the show had let out, I walked a few streets away from Lake Michigan, and felt that cool breeze that Mr. Final had been talking about. Even though it wasn’t winter, I could feel the wind in my face, and felt like I knew exactly what he meant. There’s something special about it, and it’s simple just like it is. I walked under the train tracks, and into a Toddle House for a coffee and biscuit if they had some. I hadn’t eaten any breakfast that morning, so I was famished. I could eat lunch, since it’s almost noon, but just a refreshment would be nice. I sat down in a booth near the door, looking out the window. Across the street and through the intersection you could see the edges of the lake, with joggers running by. Even on a Tuesday, they’re still working out, at almost noon. Think of that!

“What’ll it be?”

The waitress was standing next to my table, biting her lip, with her red pencil pressed against her order pad, all ready for my decision. She had on a red and white striped hat and apron (so did all the other staff members), red lipstick, and light blue mascara. She was probably about 45, with long pearl fingernails and crow’s feet.

“I’ll have a black coffee and a buttermilk biscuit. Is it ok to order a biscuit by itself?”

“One black coffee and a biscuit, right away,” she said, smiling genuinely, and walking off without writing anything in her order pad.

I got up from my booth, and went to the Men’s room. It’s wooden (and rather heavy) door opened with a creak and I walked inside and shut the door. The inside was bathed in a yellow light stuck above the mirror, like you’d imagine in a backstage dressing room. Thankfully the john was behind another door, so the stench wasn’t so bad as they sometimes are in Toddle Houses. I turned on the water, and washed my hands under the cool, clear water. I splashed some water on my face, smoothed out the sides of my hair with my barely damp hands, brushed the part with the palm of my hand, and pulled the sides of my corduroy coat. I straightened my black square-end tie, and looked in the mirror. I took a deep breath, dried my hands with the brown paper towel from the white tin dispenser to the left of the sink, and walked back into the restaurant.