The Hollow Men

:::this is the way the world ends:::

Francisco’s Journey (Ned’s Part IV)

Francisco didn’t understand the pretense of the old, green liquor bottle. Since he had agreed to this trial, Pete had behaved like he was Morpheus from the Matrix, administering some kind of epiphany from the milky green bottle. When Pete told him that he couldn’t do the drug trial himself because of company policy, Francisco had thought Pete’s explanation reasonable. Now he wondered if Pete had other reasons for not doing the trial himself. Why the strange meeting places to get the drug? Why the green bottle instead of the pharmaceutical bottle it must come in? Did Pete’s dad know there were potentially harmful side effects? Is that why he hadn’t allowed Pete to do the trial? And why the hell did he have to try the drug in different environments. Francisco knew there could be reasons. Maybe it was all part of a control group. He thought about trials where participants had been given placebos. What if the blackouts he experienced were an illness totally unrelated to the drug?

None of it mattered anyway, Francisco decided. He only had two more weeks of the twelve week trial to endure and then his contract was completed. And Lucidon Corporation owed him 30,000 dollars. He could live and write on that for nine months. But if the drug was designed to drastically increase mental capacity, it wouldn’t be successful. Francisco kept blacking out—or “loosing time” as he had begun to call the disorientation that the drug produced. That was all Pete had said about it. It was a drug to “rapidly increase brain activity—a drug that will allow young people to keep up with the barrage of information out there today.”

Francisco dropped into a café chair, woozy again. He decided to sit in the corner and try to write. Pete would take care of him if he had another spell. But the increasing severity of the spells did concern him. He flipped out his notepad and a fine point Sharpie he had tucked into his jacket. In haste, he had left his laptop. He wasn’t in the mood to compose. But maybe if he wrote all the time, even when the muses weren’t there, he would get lucky or better.

Could he write during his blackouts? He knew for a fact that he was doing things. He would revive in new places, sometimes with people he didn’t even know. Sometimes he woke with an incredible hunger. Rachael hadn’t called him for weeks now.

He scribbled. Dark descends without warning. He immediately scratched the words out. He tried for Lorca or Thomas or even Hughes but he got Stephen King instead. Staring at the ink scratches made him think how indelible some things are, like ink. He could cross his words out, but he couldn’t make them never have been there.

He had totally misread Rachael. He liked her to begin with because she was independent, feisty, and unpredictable. She was crazy in bed, and she didn’t take crap from anyone. So why, why, why had she decided to see this thing through? It could be worse, he thought. She could keep the baby and he’d be stuck with child support for the rest of his natural goddamn life, like a life sentence. With adoption, he at least got out of paying, but his DNA was still out there without his blessing. He couldn’t take it back. It was indelible.

She was the last person he expected to make this kind of brash decision. That’s why he cut her loose. He couldn’t get caught up in that kind of thing if he wanted a writing career. If he didn’t know her any better than that, she might end up doing anything. She was sacrificing nine months of her life for Pete’s sake. He chuckled at his own thought.

“What?” Pete asked from across the foggy room. “What’s so funny?”

People in his life did not understand what it takes to be creative, thought Francisco. Pete only suggested the drug trial out of pity for Francisco’s unemployed state. Francisco had to put his creative life first, or he wouldn’t have one. He was certain ending things completely with Rachael was best. Artists will never be understood. He saw no point in trying to explain this view to Rachael, or to Pete.

“Are you going to tell me wha y fink i soooo funnnnyyyyy…” Pete’s muffled voice drifted across the room like a foghorn calling boats to shore. But the shore was shifting. Francisco despised Pete’s constant insistence on “the important work you’re doing”. But he couldn’t very well tell him that. He was counting on Pete. He had to trust him.

2 Comments

  1. I know this is presumptuously long. So I posted it before it got out of hand. But Pete had encouraged me not to think it through too much. So I didn’t. Jeff, are you still with us?

  2. Still here. I have no idea where to take this or, before that, where it has been and where it’s going. I guess that’s part of the fun. But now I have drugged protagonist sitting at a cafe with a pen poised over paper and thoughts of an ex-girlfriend’s decision to give their baby up for adoption. Why not.

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