How simple the world seems when you condense it into words.
How easy life would be if we could boil down the decisions and dilemmas into a phrase.
We’re out of milk and eggs.
Then simply command yourself, “Go to the store.” Great!
Your marriage is a sham.
Then simply command yourself, “Kill her then yourself.” Not so great!
Not all imperative phrases are equally valuable. Following that logic, there must be rationally a phrase that is at the top of that dominance hierarchy, the king of all phrases. This ‘king of phrases’ would seem to have almost magical power, speak it aloud, like Ali Baba, and move mountains with words. Imagine the power… it is a pity I don’t know it and I doubt you know it either.
Don’t despair, I have a hunch we can find it using the only magic left to man: deductive reasoning. I say we promote a random phrase as an experiment and treat it as the golden phrase, surely it will reveal itself as a sham but we will have learnt a lot and perhaps have a bearing to follow.
Have you ever considered how God shapes the world without ever appearing? I have theorised that He might operate through a subtle web of words which echo over and over in our minds. It is a mental phenomenon I have felt often, some foreign word or strange name has become stuck in the turning cogs of my mind which begins to skip over and over again like a warped record. For our faux-king phrase, I’ll choose something that has been floating around in my head for some time.
Kill your local drug dealer.
Perhaps Beelzebub whispered this one in my ear rather than an angel. I saw it on an image board, I won’t say which because you can probably already guess. As vulgar as it is, it is an interesting bit of rhetoric. Now let’s imagine by some alchemy that we have boiled down all human language to this singular phrase which is conveniently in English. Kill your local drug dealer. It is in the imperative, a command – but more than that is the call to battle, a call to adventure. More than that, it is the call of a purpose: to serve a cause bigger than yourself and what is a greater than serve yourself to the cause of the betterment of others. Feel it’s primal power, how simple it would be to just clean up the world of the filth and addiction but purging those who profit from it. Remember that it is your drug dealer that we are discussing, so imagine him or her.
I have one in mind, his patchy beard, long hair and loose fitting clothes. Small, black eyes like a Magpies’. He drove an old Holden, its purple gloss was peeling at the edges. He only dealt out of the car. So I walk up and tap on the glass, he recognises me, he dealt to A_____, an old friend I don’t see much anymore. The window rolls down slowly, too slowly, my hands shake and sweat causing my grip on the box cutter to slip and fall to the ground. I pick it up before he can see what it is.
The scumbag smiles, “Yo Conor! Long time no see, compadre.”
I don’t smile back and just as he begins to realise something isn’t right, I strike. There is noise and fury and eventually a long silence.
And if I had done it sooner maybe A____ wouldn’t have lost his fucking mind from abusing psychedelics.
I know what it feels like to be stabbed, it isn’t necessarily frightening just chaotic. The pain comes a long time after, the liquid feels wet and warm, it drips down your shirt and dormant childhood fears of wetting your pants come to the surface. So when you kill your local drug dealer don’t feel bad about using a knife, it is all over a lot quicker for them than it is for you. The burden is on you to fix the world and you also have the burden of carrying those bloody images around till you also face the reaper. A drug dealer is a sick lamb, it has fallen off the right path and broken its legs, they won’t mend and can’t be fixed – do them a mercy. Kill your local drug dealer.
I see a sparkle of interest in your eyes but they are also glazed over in hesitation, in fear, and the worst of all, in indifference. I will break down the phrase for you word by word, every angle and concept will be explored. Rest easy friend, by the end of this book you will kill your local drug dealer.
His death was his own fault and not by my skill. I still don’t know to this day whether his mistake was intentional or not. He flew with mastery and fought with honour, disabling many of our planes without killing the pilots. His attacks were as tender and final as a lover carrying a virgin over the threshold. Yes, I too had the same dreadful, feeble, and woman-like feeling that the Baron’s aura produced. My dread became reality and I ended up in a dogfight with the man himself. Some ancestral warrior spirit possessed me, took the controls from my shaking hands and I flew with a courage have never been able to reproduce. But even this miracle was not enough; he ripped my left wing to pieces, I felt the bullets dart past my face, and the plane began to spiral.
I should have bailed but somehow I managed to get the plane to slow and I brought it back level. The next few moments are like a strange dream. I observed my surroundings and saw the Red Baron was flying low, not manoeuvring or dodging or attacking, simply flying straight toward the westward sun. All the other pilots must have felt that they too were in dreaming – no one attacked him, save for myself. My engine sputtered and I had to lean the aircraft at a strange angle, to tack back and forth, in order to fly straight. Slowly but surely, I crept up behind him while he simply observed the rays gleaming through the scattered clouds. Locked in my sights I fired off a burst. And just like that, his plane dropped without another sound. It glided for a few seconds and then skidded to a halt into a muddy ditch by a marsh. My plane went down soon afterwards. It was strange being on the ground, I felt like an unwanted stranger on the ground. The dead trees seemed to evily at me and the ground under my feet felt hollow. Smoke rose in the air from Richthofen’s wreck and after assessing my own plane, I crossed a small brook and stumbled over to it.
There it was. A smoking wreck, small flames licked at it – a dying fire reduced to coals. I approached and saw that the demi-god I had duelled was just a man. His uniform was dripping in blood as red as his infamous plane. He looked at me and when I got close enough to see his eyes, I saw they contained no anger or sadness just the glassy stare of a man who has died long before his heart has stopped beating.
Richthofen said only one word, “Kaputt.”
He closed his eyes and died. All was silent except for the small brook that continued to sing its common and song. The gravity of the situation hit me, though it wasn’t till I properly researched the man that I really understood the enormous meaning behind his last word. The fighting above ended with the German’s morale broken by their hero’s death and soon after soldiers arrived at the crash site. They cheered, put me on their shoulders, and sang songs. I smiled on the outside but I knew internally something was broken within me.
After the war, I looked into his history and his personal statements. He was a man sick of war and wrote it: “I am in wretched spirits after every aerial combat. I believe that the war is not as the people at home imagine it, with a hurrah and a roar; it is very serious, very grim.”
At a time when 15-20 aircraft kills were considered exceptional, he shot down 105 planes, far more than any other pilot in the war. And here I am, a man who anticipated a great joy in killing the greatest there was, then has realised too late that there is no joy in the destruction of beauty. I have ripped apart a rose, slashed the canvas of a masterpiece. Richthofen’s last word was spoken in relief, the Baron’s burden is placed on me now, and it is lonely at the top, the price of greatness is solitude. The only man I could possibly relate this to is dead by my own hand.
I know the secret behind his skill as a pilot and I also know of why he simply flew towards the sun. These two mysteries tortured me until I realised they were intrinsically related. Richthofen fought with nothing to lose, took risks that others would never even conceive – each victory cost him a piece of himself until finally there was nothing left to lose and so he flew to the sun. His last unconscious desire was simply to rest and feel the simple satisfaction of warming his face in the sunlight. I think for long periods of time about these events, hiding from my fame by my house on the shore of Lake Ontario. I hide and wait for another war to start. Then I can fight in the skies again to join the Baron and the line of ancient warriors behind him. I am an ageing phoenix who is feeling the call of the ashes, as the Baron did. Like him, I will pass my flame to another young hopeful and fade into the blue yonder.
I watch the sunset reflecting off the marshes surrounding Lake Ontario, where I shot down my first bird, and smile as I imagine gliding on a summer breeze towards that great golden egg. To close my eyes. To rest. To be finished.
<- Part 4 of 4
From here, look to the horizon. Across long grassy plains, over several seas – you’ll find the boy of the desert. Crawling, writhing but brave. The boy digs for his living and finds solace looking at the moon while listening to the crackling fire. Finally, he falls asleep to the last lullabies of the old tree he cut down in the day.
A river of ice split his dreams in two: revolt and fear. It’s winter. Wake up hungry, over the edge feigning for food as the sun drains out from a horizon, and up through the beach horizon sky. Buttered bread or wholemeal toast on cereal plus water and tea. Pulls in the stomach, twisting abdominals: noisy within. Nice sounds from the sky, from the birds; Ambient drones from the road from the cars.
“Cars, Cars, yes cars,” he judo rolled out from the bush and ran straight out on the road. Meanwhile, a pig farmer was driving his diesel-guzzling truck down the nearby highway. This pig farmer looked remarkably like his cargo, a short wide head accessorised with aggressive flaring nostrils – the type of look that was very popular in the fifties during the summer Pork Craze of 57′. However his heydey was over, now he was a bitter lonely man whose singular joy was pummelling kangaroos at 80mph. His wishful thinking caused him not to see the boy of the desert; but a misshapen kangaroo – an easy target for this sad excuse of a killer. He pushed the pedal. The pigs squealed in terror and his eyes rolled back in pure ecstasy.
“Daddy, daddy, yes daddy”–rolled under the blood laden tires– were the final cries of a boy drought bred in the desert, flooded in unnatural death. A legacy not known nor cared but by the few who dug to eat and sleep. Ree! Ree! Oink! Blasting Thunderstruck by AC/DC, smoking through a half-finished deck of a true blue Ozzy classic blue collar working man’s cigarette, Longbeach Gold. Powering down the Princess down the way to Adelaide to drop of a fatter than usual load of hogs. The man was a fucking legend and knew it. All day and night, sniffing the goods up his nose and in young Sheila’s pants. What was missing in empty his life was a son to love.
He pulled on the brakes and the truck came to a sudden halt. Half a jaw bone dislodged from the radiator grille and skittered over the dirt. But he took no notice of it, he had a long lost son to find. For the first time in his sordid life, he pondered what to do, “Find that of a strumpet ex-wife. Destination, Melbourne. Route, Highway to Hell.” He hit next track and launched his foot at the accelerator, kicking right through the floor. The engine roared with fury as Angus Young gave it all for the chorus, but the record started to skip. It looped Young’s screeching crescendo and had an identical effect on the man’s mind which started skip like a record. He looped a period of two and half seconds endless of inhaling a cigarette and squinting his eyes. Without exhaling he finished the entire cigarette and still powered on up the Princess to Melbourne. His vision narrowing, eyes still squinted to a narrow slit, he thought that this was death. In futility, he reflected on life but his brain had stopped receiving oxygen two minutes ago and was running on Longbeach Gold fumes, thus he began to function through a series of one-word associations:
Get Son. Wife. Rage. Misanthropy. Betrayed. Disappointed. Cruel. Murderous. Manic. Depressed. Anxious. Woman. Eve. Snake. Betrayal. Brutus. Dagger. Nicaragua. Scar. Kings. Hamlet. Consciousness. Bible. Ethics. Karma. Justice. Injustice. Child. Innocent. Lamb. Shepherd. Jesus. Love. Lie. Murder. Drugs. Guilt. Nietzsche. Pathetic. Half-formed. Fetus. Abortion. Hard Truth. PC. Social Justice. Virus. Parasite. Eggs. Breakfast. Most Important. Love. No. No. Father. Ghost. Hamlet. Revenge. Death. Sleep. Dream. Imagination. Balance. Dagger. Cut. Mold. Creation. Perfection. Love. No. Yes. Only. Answer. Love. One. Answer. One. Zero. One. One. Zero… 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 – ad infinitum.
Solutions to celestial questions of life and faith came about and became unstuck when at the wheel in a binary trance, half asleep; half awake: half conscientious; half dreaming. Life like cigarettes, burned out at the bottom end leaving only a tar filled host that supports the whole self. Trucks run road trains out into the desert, temporarily migrating into the hot heart of nature like the smoke from cigarettes migrates in and out the dry desert lungs. Humans if winged and birdlike would soar low to the ground, an instinct natural to a ground-dwelling ape.
No ape hollered here, only a man, a man like Pip of the Pequod. His soul had travelled down that infinite highway while his finite body had been left in its spiritual dust. Travelling down miles of mazelike roads he came up a shining beacon of a road stop, a sign promised food and shelter. He turned off and a tuckshop appeared in front, a tuckshop like no other. Gold-leaf trimmed Roman pillars adorned the entrance, marble walls were engraved with countless myths of adventure, betrayal, and love – among them was a carved advertisement for a $5 deal for coffee and a pie. “This is a trucker’s heaven!” he exclaimed – and he wasn’t far from the truth. He parked his sins out front and let his ethereal being pass through the front door with a ding.
A man leant against a counter while he spun yarn and flirted with one of the waitresses.
“G’day, I’m Pete. We’ve been expecting you for a while now, how’s the road been treating you mate?”
The trucker’s eyes went soft and he wrung his hat in his hands, “To be honest pal, it’s been a long road.”
“No point having a sook, you can rest now.”
“Suppose so. Something smells good, what’s cooking?”
“Oh that’s the big guy in the back, he makes everything – have a gander.”
Pete swung open the kitchen door. Less of a kitchen and more of an engine room, he saw the back of a powerful man who sat down on a plush chair. All was silent and then from seemingly empty space he opened a window and the universe was cast out in front of him like dice. The workbench became a dashboard, the window was a windshield. The trucker felt months went by in mere moments watching countless worlds and stars rush past. The wipers swung back and forth as they passed through HVC 127-41-330 plasma nebula – which is terrible this time of year.
“What’s He doing?” whispered the trucker.
Pete shushed him and pointed to the floor of the workshop.
The trucker saw God’s foot upon the pedal of the universe, and spoke it; “Fuck mate how fast does this bad boy go?” A bright flash of something inconceivable reflected in the rear view mirror.
The man made no reply and simply pressed his foot down hard. The noise of the whip, the noise of the rattling of the wheel, galloping horses, and bounding chariots! Pete wasn’t fazed but the trucker felt the acceleration pulling him backwards. Pete chuckled, “Looks like your roads going to be a little longer mate.” The trucker slipped towards the exit and he managed to grip onto a Twenty-twenty Pie Heater but he couldn’t hold it for long – those fucking cheap Chinese-made things are hot. With a yelp, he fell from heaven and plunged back to earth in a fiery descent.
Drooling and spitting up green bile: vision after vision. A normal man’s life might be changed by an encounter with the mystical and magical, in fact, it might not need speculation to assume that a normal man’s life would change. Must change! Must change, be moved by, and raised by an encounter with extreme forces of corporeal and spiritual nature–to this supreme degree. Must change? O, but what normal nature was the monstrosity which drove and drove? O Fie! And an instant of otherworldliness for a beast! A celestial spirit had possessed the wrong creature. A sex induced, wanting, egoistic, jealous, lazy, malevolent and fat man: cigarette in mouth, sweaty, cum covered and on the road to Melbourne.
This story was written in collabration with Anorliorpoq Avani.
That isn’t to say this warfare is slow. A man’s life can be snatched before you’ve wiped the fog from your goggles – as I am a living testament to. After I shot down my first plane, I took the opportunity to get some distance and see if I could find a friend. There! Close to the ground, a daredevil weaved and dodged anti-air guns with the ease of a swallow. I took my plane lower and kept up with him, his tail was painted in French colours and when he also recognised me as an ally he made some sort of a frantic gesture with his hands. I rubbed my goggles clear to get a better look at what he was trying to communicate. As I lifted my fingers from the goggles and it was as if I had erased the friend’s plane with the condensation. There was no trace of him but a blinding red flash that passed with such speed and proximity that I hardly recognised it as a plane. My ally was sent in a fiery descent down to the craggy hillside with the ease of Pharaoh dashing a newborn against the rocks. And I, as helpless as my friend, somehow survived by inaction and used a gentle breeze to float away as Moses did down the Nile.
A red flash again. It must have been a plane, the only other alternative is that long ago vanquished beast painted in red for its never-ending rage – still searching for St George who cleverly had his tomb dug deep underground, hidden from vengeful sky-borne eyes. Forgive the romantics, I am getting sentimental in my old age. It was a red plane, though it may as well have been a dragon, I was petrified. My subconscious seemed to have made the connection ahead of my conscious mind – a red hot prickling ran down my back, itchy hives crawled across my skin – I was being hunted by the Red Baron. He saw the Frenchmen as the more experienced pilot and had left me, the baby bird, till later. Somewhere in this sky that bright red knife of his was floating and hidden but could at any moment plunge down into my flesh
The land grows old under me. As we venture to the front, the pastures grow sickly yellow in sparse patches, bomb craters pocket her skin and trenches wrinkle deeper the closer we get. These wounds will heal eventually but the land will be impossible to farm to decades – Mother Earth forgives but she does not forget. The front itself is horrific, for a moment I think that I must have lost my way in a cloud and accidentally flown to another planet. An otherworldly land sat below in stagnation. Only disease thrived here amongst the mud, death, and screams. Disease of the mind also grew on the utter boredom for the soldiers down there in the dirt, who sat, and did nothing but bide time by wondering when the call for the great push would come. When would the officer raise that bugle and watch others die? That bugle may as well be Gabriel’s horn to those poor souls.
Up in the air wasn’t that much better. The sky had its own ruined tinge, the clouds were famished, too thin and transparent to hide behind. I managed to stay in formation though my hands fluttered about. There was a slight shudder through the formation, something unseen was watching us. We could see no enemy planes and then the wind changed, a bad omen. A flash of light exploded to my right and a plane went down. Our formation was in disarray, panicked lambs running about an abattoir. The smoking wreck of my ally lay on the ground below. Did he bail in time? No time to think at all, the huns were upon us. I wonder if they cared about their Kaiser anymore than I cared about the King. I wondered if it mattered all. It certainly didn’t matter what I thought of those questions, I simply fought and fought hard because it was a game and some unknown piece of my soul wanted to win.
The sky was filled with packets of hot metal that burst and flew in every direction. My luck was running low, soon I would be plucked from the sky like the mallard I killed, a winged angel would guide a whistling bullet into my skull, a gavel strike for karmic justice. I couldn’t keep this up, every time I had a hun in my sights I would hesitate and pull away. Outnumbered and overwhelmed, I had to kill. A plane pulled in front of me, the pilot unaware that I was behind. Just as his parents were unaware, and his uncles, his aunties, his cousins, his friends, that stranger he met on the streets of Berlin last winter – they sheltered in a cafe while a blizzard raged on outside, they talked by the fire for hours and she made him promise to come see her after the war. It was a promise that I would make him break. I held down the trigger and a stream of bullets sliced through the rudder, up the tail, and splattering blade out the cockpit. My bullets made of mince of the pilot, the boy, the man, the son, and now the absent lover. If you’re as cynical as me, you will be asking “How do you know this about him?” Of course, I am lying. I don’t know anything about the man other than the fact I killed him over Vauz sur Somme. But the point is he could have been all of these things and more — as safe an assumption as the strangers you walk past every day having the same number of problems and joys as you do. Safe to assume that at least one person loved him even if it was just his mother – even if he was the most detestable person on Earth, I took him from her.
All that was left of the plane and pilot went spiralling down into the mud of no man’s land, another monument to man’s ingenuity and its depraved ends. In my last glance of the plane, which I will forever hold sacred and terrible in my soul, I saw an unholy union between, strings of meat fused into the blood-splattered glass and splintered wood. Not even Da Vinci, when he sketched the first flying machines, could have pictured the violently absurd nature of modern warfare. I’m no genius and I certainly don’t live in a renaissance but I predict warfare will become faster and more brutal than it is even now. Battles will last seconds, wars will be won in minutes. Never again will your noble king beckon you once more into the breach, there will only be the furious incoherent roar of metal and engines – a cacophony of motorised screams; begging to fight, yearning to die.