Looking down at his soon to be obsolete iphone, E (“E” being his nickname—short for Emmanuel, Emmanuel Goldstein-- his god-given name) noticed it was just past nine o’clock in the morning. Ten past the hour to be exact; and what a great morning it was, Monday morning, Labor Day, Year of Our Lord 2012. E caught himself staring out the second story window. Sitting, his legs crossed, he was enthusiastic about the prospects for the future at this moment in space & time. Emmanuel held what could be classified as an unorthodox understanding of time which, coupled with the marijuana he smoked a few moments before, was making him very introspective. More importantly, it was accomplishing its stated mission of alleviating the headache from last night’s debauch. Normally that alone would be something to celebrate but this morning there was more, so much more. He could sense something big was about to happen, it was his time to shine, as that worn saying goes.
“You look so young, boo, with your hair pulled back like that,” said the muffled and similarly hung-over voice of his current fuck buddy, Courtney, peeking out from under the covers.
"Get up baby! I just came up with a way to fund my project. A way to make some serious money! But the devils’ always in the details, help me pick it apart, make sure I’m not crazy.”
“Later, love… It’s so early. You can tell me over brunch, tell me all about it,” she replied; turning back to the wall and showing zero interest as to what- exactly- he was so pumped up about.
E couldn’t possibly sleep and he didn’t want to wait. He was excited, probably manic. Mania was one half of a self-diagnosis he made recently; depression was the other half. It didn’t bother him: the idea of being a manic-depressive, for he thought everyone over the age of thirty (give or take a couple years) was some-kind-of-crazy if you got inside their heads. The growing awareness of his own issues did mean he would need confirmation before he ran with this drug and sleep deprivation induced “scheme.” He took another pull of the pipe, threw on some Dubber
, and tried to recall the exact details of the last twelve hours.
They—Courtney, E, and E’s dear friend and colleague Kim started the night off at a lounge on M St. near the Ritz-Carlton, in the posh
“West End” neighborhood of Washington DC. Actually, he recalled as the night came into to focus: it was tequila shots late afternoon with Kim that got the party started; Courtney joining them only after dinner. E had been depressed even before he started drinking but after the fourth round or so he consciously upped his volume so those at nearby tables could share in his woe. Kim, being a true friend, enabled more than his drinking problem. She could listen to him rant on for hours about the various depressing “themes” of his still unwritten novel. The other patrons in their preppy, “Georgetown” style were more properly behaved as they sipped their $18 martinis; only occasionally glancing over at him with disgust. The novel- in the works for seven years- was something he had been actively trying to put out of his mind before this morning’s break-thru. So why start in on it last night? He wished the details weren’t so hazy; and for Courtney to wake up
and help him piece it together.
After M St. they hit a few more bars near DuPont Circle. He could not now recall so much as the name or precise location of even one of them. Emmanuel had no details of this part of his night, only what could be described as ‘still frames’ of beers-to-the-face, bright lights, more beer, music, dancing, and many, many more rounds of beer. Any recollection of the metro ride home to University Park had been lost too. Perhaps he had been too horny to wait on the train and splurged for a cab? He did not remember but could find out easily enough by checking his credit card bill with the app on his phone. Why bother, he thought, it’s not real money.
Neither could he recall what time they had arrived back at Courtney’s: a six bedroom share in the student ghetto informally known as Dick House. The name of the house had a double-meaning: it was located on Dickinson Lane and it was where the ladies of Tri-Chi, Courtney’s sorority, would stay and get “dicked.” University rules do not allow for overnight male guests at the actual sorority houses. No problem- a few of the upper.class.(wo)men rented this home off-campus to throw parties at- and, as the reputation of the house suggested: a spot to get dirty.
E loved it. Going on thirty-three years old he felt his life of messing around with a new woman every few weeks was not just a little reckless, but likely nearing its end. Only he couldn’t to do what so many had done before him: settle down. Settling certainly seemed the appropriate term if it meant giving up his current antics. Every opportunity to make Courtney scream his name was exciting, but to do so with her sorority sisters listening was nothing short of thrilling. The old house had paper thin walls and the mere possibility of one or more of the girls tuning in for the show made him want to perform. He didn’t just want to please Courtney; he wanted to show off his sexual prowess. He wanted them all to become sexually aroused, to pleasure themselves listening to him fuck her. To fantasize about E making love to them too.
E knew, and Courtney surely did as well, that the other girls could hear everything. The whole scenario made him hypersexual
. If Courtney enjoyed the idea of them listening and masturbating, she might be talked into letting one of the girls watch. With a wee bit too much alcohol he might convince her of a threesome. Hell, she might not need convincing. E was outside of his body now, as if he was watching a porn film starring himself. Not only did he have complete control over his orgasm, he had super-human strength… He pounded her from behind until the bed frame broke free of the headboard she was grasping, and then- paying no mind- began to whirl her around into different positions: up against the wall, on the desk, and eventually to the floor. When his mania came on like this his sexual appetite was insatiable. He wanted fuck her; he wanted to fuck them all. Not only Courtney’s roommates but every single girl in the world.
The sex always ended the same way when he was this hyped up, with Courtney whispering in his ear: “Whenever you cum is perfect.” E had learned this meant it was starting to hurt and he had better finish soon. Courtney fell asleep before the first light of dawn came through the blinds. He, Emmanuel Goldstein, would not be sleeping tonight. Oh how he hated the sound of that name, his name. E had worked well enough as a nickname until the show "Entourage" came along; now that was ruined as well. The name was now synonymous with pussy, and not in a good way. At this moment it upset him more than all the starving children in Africa to think the goofy little actor
who played “E” on the show was probably fucking some beautiful woman in an exotic locale. That little-piece-of-shit was getting more ass than he could possible handle. He had money and was getting the best kind of pussy: fame pussy; while he, the original E and a Greek God in comparison, would soon be forced to settle his debts and make his bed with Merkel
Orgasm, and the subsequent demoralization brought on by the thought of settling put an end to his arousal. Perhaps not depressed, and definitely not tired, but no longer the least bit interested in sex; E smoked a little more and sat silent in both speech and thought. An hour or more passed. Then, out of nowhere and miraculously (considering the quantity of mind altering substances he had consumed) his mind focused. For the next period of time, until he looked down at his phone at 9:10 AM, Emmanuel had a vision of his future. No; his destiny. In that short space of time all his fears of failure faded as his path to success was revealed to him. It felt like nothing short of a miracle. There was only one problem: the need to act immediately. He recognized the urgency of this moment. The huge effort he would need to put forth in a short time frame of less than three months was downright scary. There would be no opportunity for a redo and he would never see another opportunity as good as this one, not in this lifetime.
So… E did how E does and turned up the volume of the ringer on his phone. He grabbed Courtney’s phone off the table and called his own number, letting it ring through all the way to voicemail. No movement. He made four “calls” altogether before Courtney finally sat up-
“Shut that thing off!"
“It’s off, babe… You awake?”
“Yeah… I’m awake,” was the response nearly fully suppressed inside of a yawn.
“Great! Let’s get up and get ready for brunch. And while we’re getting ready you can play devil’s advocate
“Devil’s what? I’m super sleepy.”
“Ok, then just lay there and listen. This is urgent. Remember how I told you my accounts were frozen by the Feds? And all the money I made… The money I was going to use to market my novel was- well- I say stolen, but at any rate, is gone-”
“I think I remember something. The online gambling? Is this really something we have to talk about now?”
“Yes, now… I figured out how to get the money. Even better, I’m going to market the thing differently. Not a novel but a game! A game where my original idea now serves as the storyline and the reader is transformed into a player and/or a contestant! ...Are you listening?”
“Yeah… No more novel, a game;” Courtney replied without enthusiasm.
“Listen! It’s still a story, the same story mostly but its more, it is also a game. Get it? As people read and the story takes shape they will start to realize they are more than passive readers- it’s a game and they are in fact one of the characters, the players. The story will then continue to unfold and the rules will be introduced. And like any game worth playing there will be winners and losers and real world prizes and consequences! Well… What do you think?”
At this, Courtney sat up. She didn’t appear overly excited by the idea but she had come to the realization E wouldn’t let her sleep. He was on one
and despite the fact this novel had been in the works since she was in middle school, it could not now wait for even an hour of much needed sleep.
“I’m not sure I understand. I thought you were writing about politics, the economy. How are you going to make that a game, make it fun, I mean? And how are you going to get the money for prizes? You just finished telling me all your poker winnings were confiscated?”
“I said that’s what stopped me previously. I was only reminding you why the whole project got shelved because its back… And yes, it will be about political economy but it is definitely not textbook, not wonky. I’m going to write real stories about real people so it’s interesting and accessible.
Look—“ E said pausing for emphasis, “You might have joined in on the craziness with Kim and I last night because it was a holiday weekend—or because it was your last chance to let loose before school starts. I- I have been living my life like that- like a reality freak show for years. All just so I would have interesting stories to drive the plotline.”
“Umm… I wouldn’t tell too many people about that, babe. Makes you sound kind of crazy;” she said with a smile.
“I know, it absolutely does, but that was the original idea: an autobiographical novel, the easiest kind. The whole thing has been driving me crazy. A huge albatross I can’t stop thinking about, can’t finish, and yet can’t let go. It is the reason I woke you up. Because for the first time in years I actually see this thing being written. Not only written but read and favorably reviewed. No longer is it some far-off thing to daydream about so I can forget how much I hate my job. I’m going to make it happen; shit is about to get real,” he said with a smile as he grabbed for the lighter. “You wanna hit this?”
“Will it help me understand this scheme of yours any better?” Courtney replied teasingly.
“It might; but I’ll settle for you staying awake and looking real sexy.”
“I am awake! I don’t think you’re doing a very good job explaining it to me. Maybe you should start from the beginning.”
“I’m going to start with the politics. Just hear me out. I need you to understand where I’m coming from so you can better understand where I’m trying to go… I believe we are living at an extraordinary time in history.”
“Fuck yeah we are- 2012! End of the world!”
“Babe- stop it- I’m trying to be serious here. I know we are biased to think our time is somehow different, more important, but look at the facts: most everyone agrees this is the worst economy since the 1930’s… But our generation’s prospects are much worse than the 1930’s! ...Why? Because after the ‘30s, the US would develop a huge manufacturing base and a trade surplus. Because the war did not take place on our soil and we did not have to rebuild: we had a post war boom! Because the 30’s are history and we now know with certainty we won the war!”
E took a deep breath to let that sink in and continued: “Today we live in a decadent and decaying capitalism. Enron
to the numerology
in the Shanghai index on 4 June 2012; it all reeks of cronyism and the kind of insider dealing that is a hallmark of state control. A political system so awash in corporate money that it has lost not just the desire but the capacity to serve we the people
. A system that cannot be called democratic. A system as totalitarian- though not yet as ruthless - as the communist and fascist regimes we defeated in the last century… There is but one crucial difference between then and now: our history is yet to be written, our war
is still to be fought!”
She cut him off right there: “Tell me you’re not saying we need to start a war to solve the economics? That war would be welcome?”
“Good, because I think you’re super sexy and- I‘ll be honest- I would continue to fuck you… But I will not introduce you to my friends if you are a neocon!”
“Ha! I will let the neocon comment slide because you called me sexy and just make my point: we already are at war; have been since the outbreak of WWII, and there is no end in sight... The “hot” war in Afghanistan is still going as we approach the eleventh anniversary of 9//
this week. We know Afghanistan is only one aspect of the larger War on Terror— a term the Obama Administration has stopped using but a war it is most certainly waging. We are carrying out “operations” and drone attacks
in Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and who can be sure where else because it is all a secret. We have sanctions in place against Iran and our media hypes the coming attack against their nuclear program. We also have sanctions against nuclear North Korea, a country with whom we still have only an armistice and no formal peace treaty to end that war, ongoing now for 60 years. We do have a treaty with Japan promising to come to their defense if North Korea or any other victim of Imperial Japan attacks them. This and other formal alliances including NATO are remnants of a "cold" war poised to continue into the foreseeable future.”
“Enough already… I get it. We are at war.”
“No! You don’t get it! That’s why it is so important I keep going: we have troops and bases all over the globe carrying out clandestine attacks; our government assassinating American citizens on foreign soil- in secret- and without the due process protections granted by the Bill of Rights… We are engaged in the War on Drugs here in America as our “justice” dept sells guns to foreign drug lords
but is imprisoning our own people in corporate owned, for-profit prisons
… There is an ongoing and increasing cyberwar
involving nation-states as well as non-state actors. And there is the prospect of a space war, as many more countries gain the missile technology to knock out a satellite in space: causing debris that would upset much of the communications the global economy is reliant upon.
There is the UN Treaty against weather war
, so at least we’re good on that
… But there are ongoing economic wars between nation states- quantitative easing- which the Finance Minister of Brazil and many other countries are calling a ‘currency war’; as well as battles between large multi-national corporations who have hired both cyber and true-to-life mercenaries.” He paused again to take a breath and ensure his last one really hit home: “We have been warned by the Oracle of Omaha
that war is being waged by the ultra-rich against the poor and middle classes.”
“Depressing” Courtney said without showing emotion; “But most people already know about these issues. I just don’t know what can be done; what you or I could do? Can you fault people trying to feed their families, to keep from being laid-off or from losing their homes for not caring about Iran? For trying to escape the morass of their reality through the fantasy of reality television?”
“I can’t blame them; I don’t want to blame them. My goal is to recruit them! The game aspect of this fairy story is merely how I intend to make money… The point of the story itself is to promote my politics: to spell out what war in the modern world is. To lay out the combatants and draw the battle lines; to show beyond any reason of a doubt not only what is happening, but why we must fight and how important it is we win… Yes, the larger public is too engrossed in the fantasy worlds of sport and reality TV but history tells us there is a fool-proof way to focus the masses— War!
Personally I have been at war since 2005,” He continued. “I am not a member of any formal military, but I am most certainly a soldier. I have at this point chosen the pen but have not forsworn the sword. The scale of the conflict is growing; it is time to enlist new recruits to the cause. Anyone, everyone— once the truth of this beautiful struggle
smacks them in the face— will have to make a choice. There is no gray area, no time for waffling, and definitely no room for pacifism in this age of global war; the only option is to be a soldier for liberty or die a slave
E? Even white America
will be offended! To say everyone who doesn’t agree with your politics, your war or whatever, is a slave. It’s too much.”
“Me? Look in the mirror, Courtney. I think you should be smarter- I’m sorry, are smarter- than to get so upset by my use of a word- any single word- as to make my larger point unintelligible. In this conflict it makes no difference what race you are because we are all victims of a new injustice of mindboggling proportions. I’m not talking about chattel slavery, but a slavery of the mind. A self-serving and self-preserving politics concerned only with power is altering our perception of reality and making us subservient. The matrix
of the present is being created not by individual slave owners but by the system itself.
“Ha!” she quipped, still unsure exactly how offended she should be. “And let me guess, you are the hero- or should I say Neo
- of this imaginary world, this game
“Yes! I’m Neo and my destiny is to wake people the fuck up
, to force them to face unpleasant facts. To free their minds from the propaganda so they may see the world as it really is… See the beautiful face of the Beast.“
“Wow. You might not self-indentify as a neocon but you sure sound nuts at times. I think you are intelligent but this reminds of how you attacked Kim last night over the Colorado-movie-theatre-maniac. You just kept piling on and on.”
E’s concern for what he could not remember from last night- pretty much all of it- came back: “What do you mean I attacked her?”
“We were just talking about how terrifying it all must have been and Kim said she hated smart people, that it’s always some over-educated-in-theories but unable to cope with reality nut-jobs who commit those terrible acts, like the Unabomber and-”
“Whatever… That was a silly thing to say.”
“Yeah well she paid for it… You really let her have it: Ignorance is bliss. Without smart people mankind would never have invented weapons of mass destruction. The best case would be to never have evolved from monkeys in the first place because nature would still be in balance… I don’t recall all of it but you had quite the audience; I thought they were going to ask us to leave.”
“God forbid someone should talk about something unpleasant in the district! It’s like every fucking person here is a politician. They will shit on a plate and then spin a story until you are so dazed and confused you end up begging them to feed it to you. Fuck them; there are a hundred other places to eat and get fucked up.”
“Settle down,” she said without realizing how upsetting those two innocent sounding words would be to him. “We need to start getting ready; I’m going to shower first, ok?”
“I’m not settling down. I’m not ever going to settle down and you shouldn’t settle either. In fact, I’m going to stand up while we finish this conversation just because I can, because- despite all the booze and the lack of any sleep- despite the fact I just smoked all my OG
; I am still standing! I am fighting and I will soon be thriving! This is going to be one ride you do not want to miss!”
Courtney looked up at him shyly and ended his rambling of wars and novels, political schemes and game-shows, the only way she could: “I’ll cum on that ride with you baby... I loved the ride you gave me last night!”
Emmanuel, already standing, didn’t say a word as he took a step over to her lopsided bed. He pulled down his pants and felt the warmth of her mouth. War would have to wait.