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  • Long Live the Bonobos
    3 May 2004

    The night is warm but slightly broken by a cool breeze whispering on the back of my legs and neck. I don't know how I arrived here amidst ancient evergreens shooting straight up into the air. Moonlight filters through the thin canopy, creating patches of grey that dance with the swaying branches. In the distance, a light glows orange off brown tree trunks. Mighty bass drums roll through the forest and vibrate through my chest. I make my way towards the light, comfortably walking on the soft pine needles until I reach a clearing. A bare circle of sand is surrounded by great trees where thousands of naked bodies, men, women and children, dance around the source of the light; a great pyre reaching twenty feet into the air.
    The fire reflects off the bare backs and chests of the stern faced people. Their black hair shimmers with each wave of their head. The bodies wrap around each other, swaying and shaking like serpents mating; dancing to the wordless drum rhythms. They glide together in twos, threes; any number. Arms twist around bodies, running fingers across skin slick with sweat. The pace of the beating quickens, and more drums join in. The bodies no longer move in unison, some continue swaying, and shaking their limbs, others run about jumping through the air moving counter-clockwise. The beating of the drums changes to the nasty call of a crow.
    My eyes open to a phone mechanically chirping a rendition of Toccata and Fugue. I sit up. My head aches, throbbing in rhythm with my heart, and my neck is stiff. The muffled wail of the phone rings from a pile of jeans and hooded-sweatshirts sitting in the bowl-shaped seat of a chair. I start prying clothes off the top, searching pockets for the ringing phone. I feel its rigid body nestled in a pair of jeans. The small black phone reads "Pops." I answer it. "Howdy… No, I've been up for a while, studying and all that… Yea, serious, I'm doing a lot better this semester." He laughs. "I'm serious, Dad… No, I don't have much doing today, just looking over some Humanities, and I have work later on." The same probing continues for another five minutes, then we say our good-byes and I hang up the phone.
    I grab a cigarette and walk into the kitchen. A few paces from the dirty linoleum floor, the smell of stale beer hurls a nauseous memory at my stomach. I lean against the wall and wait for the feeling to pass.
    In the kitchen, my bare feet are greeted by a cold puddle of beer and mud. "Shit," I cringe, dancing from the puddle. Then I notice the shining blue and silver cans littering the floor. I growl "God Damn it" through clenched teeth, with no clue as to how these things got on the floor. I finish my walk to the stove, kicking aluminum cylinders across the muddy tiles. Turning the front right dial to "h", I hear the hiss of live propane followed by a series of clicks from the starter and a circle of flames shoots out from the burner. I lean forward, placing the tip of the cigarette over the heat, and inhale. The white paper instantly glows red and I pull my face back from the stove. With my breath held tight, I embrace the cloud of smoke sizzling in my lungs then exhale a long sigh. A string of smoke drizzles from my nostrils, sliding past a long stream blowing from my mouth. It floats up softly, shading a fluorescent light. After another two drags the muscles in my neck loosen up. I go back to my room to get dressed.
    I press a key on my keyboard to wake my computer from its nap and open up The top message reads, "Increase your penis size 4-6 inches!!! CLICK HERE!!!!!" A grin comes to my face. Damn, six inches! They must be making great breakthroughs in the field. The next message down is from Professor Walters, the subject is "about your paper". My eyes pop open and blood floods into my face, burning off my cheeks and forehead. I hop out of the chair, pick a pair of pants up off the floor and lift them to my nose. The pants smell like a mix of Chinese Food and toothpaste; not a bad combo. I put them on and quickly survey the floor for a shirt to match. A blue T-shirt lying crumpled at the foot of my bed gets the same sniff test before putting it on. I return to my room, grab my bag, then sound 3 firm knocks on my roommate's door. There's no answer, so I open it.
    "Dude, let me take your car. I was supposed to go see a professor and I'm half an hour late." He's lying on his stomach, fully clothed, with one sneaker on that's hanging over the side of the bed. I smack his foot and he rolls over. He looks up at me with squinty eyes and a red line divides his cheek in half. I ask again. He grunts, pointing to the keys on his desk then flops back on his face. "Thanks buddy." I say, running out of the house.
    On the short drive to class all I can think about is Professor Walters; his hunched shape clinging to the pedestal as he booms something about the Bonobo monkeys of the Congo that do nothing but eat, sleep and fuck. "They 'do it' over 60 times a day." I am envious of the monkeys.
    A stop sign peaking out from behind a row of hedges brings me back to the road. I am always surprised at the number of speeding drivers out here before noon. What's with the damned rush? So anyway, I remember the first day of class, seeing the geezer's hobbled form slowly walking to the front of the room and the confused student's faces when he opened his mouth, filling the lecture hall with the rumble of his voice.
    "Look, I couldn't work on the paper much 'cause I've been having some problems… I've been sick." I force a few dry coughs and watch the white-bearded, bald professor sitting in his worn leather chair. This is my first time seeing him close-up. Wrinkled fissures on his face and head resemble small cracks in the brown skin of the chair. He flips through February's "The Big Game Hunter" magazine, nodding as I talk, and he continues to nod after I finish. I cough again and he looks up from a picture detailing the correct method of quartering a deer.
    The professor slowly stands up, moving in a way that only the really old or injured can understand. He stops at a file cabinet and skims through some folders looking for the set reading "Anthro 100." He hoists the three-inch thick folder from the drawer then hands me the stack of essays and quizzes, telling me to find mine, and returns to reading the article.
    "I got it." I slide the brick-thick folder across the desk in his direction. He uses both of his hands to slide it to the side.
    "Give it here." He says, holding out his weathered hand. He flips to the last page and skims over his comments. He looks up from the paper and takes off his wire rimmed glasses. "Your paper isn't terrible, it just looks like it was jumbled together a day or two before it was due. You didn't even use citations." His vocal cords seem to rub together like a cricket's legs as he talks, producing a throaty voice; probably good for telling ghost stories.
    "I was sick, Sir. I just didn't have the energy to put as much effort into it as I'd have liked." I swallow and wipe my palms on my thighs.
    "If you were sick you should have told me sooner, I could have given you an extension."
    "I'm sorry. I didn't want to trouble you. I thought I could do it." I say, my voice turning to a bit of a whine. "Can I rewrite it?"
    "No, I don't let my students rewrite papers."
    "Is there anything I can do?" I ask, my voice starting to waver a bit from a lump dancing nauseously in my throat. I swallow it.
    "Calm down, it isn't the end of the world. The paper's worth a fifth of your grade. You can make up for it on your final." He says, laying his glasses down on my paper.
    I fidget in the chair then lean forward, resting my head on my hands. "Isn't there anything I can do? I can't pass the course with this grade."
    His thin lips pout a bit and the wrinkles of his forehead thicken. He flips open his grade book and skims down a list until he finds my name. "Well, that is poor news but I'm sorry, I can't make any exceptions." His voice is even; emotionless. "Why did you choose not to use citations?" He brings his hand to his lips then drags his fingers through his beard and repeats the motion several times.
    "I didn't think it was necessary when we don't use any external sources." I say, unsure of where he was going with this.
    "There are two types of plagiarism." He stops talking and watches my reaction. A bead of sweat trickles from my armpit, running to my boxers. I look at him, my eyebrows slant down, puzzled.
    "The first type is intentional, where the writer knowingly uses another's ideas and claims them to be one's own. This is the more serious offense. The second type of plagiarism is less serious; it is unintentional. This is the one you have unknowingly committed." He pauses, studying my face. I am still perplexed. "I am not going to report you, but you need to use citations."
    "Alright, I understand." I answer him, just to say something.
    He drones on about the importance of using citations, even when the writing is just intended to be read by the teacher. I nod as he talks. After a few minutes he looks back at his hunting magazine.
    I stand up. "Well, I guess I won't be seeing you in class anymore. Take care."
    And I leave.
    I drive home and call Lynn and ask her to go for a hike with me to the falls. She agrees and says she'll be over soon. I toast a plain bagel, spread cream cheese on it and eat it. It's not very good, I prefer everything bagels. Britney Spears is on the television being interviewed by Carson Daily.
    "Do you consider yourself a sex symbol?" Carson asks the blond girl wearing a white top, similar to a sports bra, and a short white skirt that's just low enough to block the camera's view of her ass.
    "Oh, no! I'm shocked whenever someone asks me that question. I'm just a girl trying to make a living doing what I do best, singing and dancing." A crowd of preteen girls respond with screeching screams.
    "And what about the accusations that you lip-sing during performances?" Carson asks her.
    "Carson! How could you ask me that?" She smiles at him. "Those are just lies. People who say that are ignorant." She shrieks a "woo" and gets another positive response from the fans.
    The door opens with a creak and I turn my head up from the bagel, giving the red-headed, purple bandana wearing girl a cream cheese filled smile. "Hey," the word's deranged a tad by the sticky substance playing with my gums. She smiles and removes her brown, silver-dollar sunglasses.
    "What's up?" She sits down next to me on the Chinese food scented couch. I finish chewing and swallowing and take a sip of orange juice.
    "Ugh, you know, been relaxing some, lectured by my dad this morning… I still havn't told him I lost my job. Oh, and I failed out of anthropology… the usual."
    "What? What happened with anthro?"
    "Well, you remember that night about 3 weeks ago when I was supposed to write a paper and we ended up finishing that left over keg?"
    "Well, we did, and the paper turned out great."
    She smiles. "Ouch."
    "Yeah. Well, fuck it, right?"
    "Yeah, I guess."
    I take another sip of orange juice. "Why the hell do I need to know that the Bonobo monkeys of Brazil do nothing but screw each other, all day long?"
    Lynn laughs. "That's pretty funny."
    On the television, Carson thanks Britney for her time and they cut to a commercial advertising MTV Cribs, showing Britney's thirteen-million dollar mansion, fully equipped with a forty square foot closet for her shoes.
    "I can't believe this slut. They asked her before if she ever lip-sings at concerts and she said 'no'-I've seen her lip when she sings, or doesn't sing, rather--it's fucking terrible."
    Lynn laughs. "Yeah, seriously."
    "Ah, whatever--alright, want to get out of here?"
    "Let's go."
    The sun is shining and a few happy clouds migrate west under the light blue sky. We decide to forego the hike and spend the rest of the afternoon smoking pot and sitting in the sun. Lynn hands me the bowl. The black residue in the neck of the pipe reflects deep blue, surrounding the green and camouflaged markings in a sparkling sea. I raise the piece to my mouth and light the green herb. I inhale, filling my lungs with the sweet smoke, then release the cloud of smoke with a sigh and a smile.
    "School sucks." I look at Lynn, her thin lips stretch up into a smile. "I just need some direction, something that I actually give a shit about-all of this nonsense about Bonobo monkeys needs to go."
    "Yeah… If you think about it… living like a Bonobo wouldn't be that bad."
    A small laugh escapes my lips. "I guess you're right--It would be freakin' awesome… or maybe being an Indian… how cool would it be to just live for the bare necessities, to have a clan with a similar ancestry-hunting, farming and banging in the woods all day. Fuck Britney Spears, fuck school, what the hell is the point?"
    The same night, at about 12:30, the phone rings, it's Chris. "What's up?"
    "Nothing man, I just got back from the bar." His words slur from a novocained mouth.
    "How was that?"
    "It fucking sucked. What are you doing now, do you want to chill?"
    Chill? Not smoke? I pause for a second, taken back by the absence of a few words. "Umm, yeah, man, come on over."
    I walk into the den and turn on the light then go back into my room and put some pants on.
    My weariness amazes me,
    I'm branded on my feet,
    I have no one to meet
    and the ancient empty street's
    too dead for dreaming.

    Bob Dylan's voice creaks from my computer speakers and crawls through the air, spinning with the soft twangs of a guitar.
    The door of my room opens and Chris stumbles in, tripping on the leg of my desk, but jabbing his foot out and catching himself before doing a face-plant into the closet door. He smells like salty vodka and his eyes are glazed the color of a slapped bottom. The drunkard falls backwards onto the pile of clothes in my bowl chair. Its wooden frame bends inward against the wall, preventing it from tipping over at times like these.
    "I never wanted to punch a girl in the face so much, before tonight." He's breathing heavily, almost grunting with each deep exhale.
    I smirk, looking at his blood-shot eyes wandering across the posters on my wall and his droopy jaw. "Who'd you punch?"
    "No one, I found out the fucking slut cheated on me." He punches the wooden closet door. "Fucking bitch." I don't know if he's cursing at his girl or the closet, but he'll blame them both for his bruised knuckles.
    "You guys aren't dating anymore…" I pause and wait for him to finish my sentence.
    "I don't fucking care, it's fucked up."
    "You gotta get your mind off that girl man, get over her. Just fuck her. Let her fuck half the school, who cares?"
    "That's what everyone says, 'fuck her', but I can't fucking do it."
    "You really loved that chick?"
    "Yeah, I did… I do."
    "Didn't you break up with her the first time you guys broke up?"
    I look at him with a scrunched face. "What?"
    "That was when I was hanging out with all those seniors and I met so many hot chicks."
    I swivel around in the chair, looking down, smiling at my feet dragging on the rug. What a dumb bastard. Yeah, that's love.
    Dylan's lyrics flow through my head. Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free, Silhouetted by the sea… "You need something else in your life to care about man, something else to focus on besides a girl."
    "Oh yeah, I failed out of organic chemistry today."
    "There's some focus." I grin. "What do you mean you failed out?"
    "I didn't go to the test today, and I cheated and got a 36 on the first test."
    "You cheated and got a 36?" I laugh. "Man…"
    "At least I don't have to wake up for 8:30s anymore and can drink more often."
    "There's the optimist that I know."
    "I just need to get the fuck out of here. I'm sick of this place." He leans back in his chair and slowly shakes his head back and forth. "The fucking slut…" He punches the closet again then leans forward, leaning his forehead against his sweaty palms. "I need the summer; I can't stand this place… When I'm alone, all I can think about is how much my life sucks… how worthless all of this information is going to be after I graduate. I'm not gonna be a fucking doctor, I don't know why I bother with Bio… Fuck man, fuck."
    "You're just in a rut man, shit will turn around." He doesn't respond, just keeps on shaking his head. "At least we've got drugs and alcohol."
    "Word. Man, I'm probably gonna work at the pizza place again this summer. That place sucks." He punches the closet again, this time leaving four dimples in the wood. "Fuck! I'm gonna end up working there the rest of my life."
    "Calm the fuck down man--the world needs people to make pizzas." I flash a smirk at him, he responds with a glare from his bloodshot eyes. I force a small laugh. "Sorry, man… Well, I really got to go to bed." I get out of my chair and wait for him to do the same.
    "Aright, man." He stands up, wavering back and forth for a moment like he's on a stopping train. "I'll see-ya later." He walks out of the door.
    * *
    I come home from class, it's a Thursday. The door is open and inside Chris and Ryan are drinking. It's 4:30. "How long you guys been at this for?"
    "Just began the festivities." Chris digs into his pocket and pulls out a rolled up plastic bag then tosses it to me. "Check those out."
    The bag drops an arms-length short of my reach and lands in an ashtray. "Nice throw."
    "Fuck you, just check out the shit." He tosses his head back and presses the black and silver can to his lips, taking four or five gulps of Keystone Ice.
    The bag has five tiny white pills in it. They're marked on one side with a cartoon monkey, his tongue sticking out. "E?"
    "Yeah, I got 'em today. You want to roll tonight?"
    "Yeah, I guess I'll give that shit a go." "You think you'll be able to stay awake till then?"
    "Yeah, that shit'll keep us up."
    I toss him the bag.
    * *
    "How long does this shit take to kick in?"
    Chris leans against a tree while urinating. "Twenty minutes. Yeah, in twenty minutes we should be rollin'."
    The stream of piss spraying a little bush breaks for a moment. I stand up and wait for Chris to finish his deed and put his pieces away.
    We weave through a couple rows of cars towards a line of people waiting to get into the club. The line moves quickly. In a few minutes we are at the bouncer who checks our I.D.s then lets us in. We pass through a hallway dully lit from black lights. Chris' white tee-shirt glows purple and his pale skin like lead. I can hear the bass beating through the walls, reverberating through my chest. We walk through another set of doors that leads out to a balcony over looking the club. Blue and yellow lights wave across the room. They dance on a swarm of bodies, moving with the electronic rhythm. I lean over the neon yellow guardrail and feel the heat from the crowd under me. It glows against my face and arms like a campfire then runs through my body in waves, leaving a warm feeling in my chest.
    Chris says something to me. I lean closer to his mouth.
    "What?" I yell to him.
    "You feel it yet?"
    "Yeah, man." I yell. "I can't stop smiling."
    "Let's head down there."
    I follow Chris down a staircase. The walls are painted with exotic trees that glow green under the black light. We move into the crowd, weaving through bodies. As the bodies brush against me, pulses of energy race through my skin. I cannot stand still. I need to move with the music. My arms, my legs, my head atop my thin neck, all can't stop moving.
    Chris turns back to me. "I need to get out of this heat, I can't breath."
    I nod at him and watch his stout drunk form bump into bodies, stumbling his way to the bathroom. I awkwardly mimic the movements of a girl rotating a pair of red and green glow sticks. A trail of red and green light traces the stick's movement. She notices me and laughs. I walk over to her, smiling.
    "How do you do that?" I bellow into her ear.
    "Just pretend your finger tips are attached by a piece of string." She holds her fingers a couple inches apart and slowly twists them through the air. Her hands speed up and the streak of light, tracing her movement, stretches, forming a glowing ball bobbing with the music. I hold my hands out in front of me, one palm facing the floor, the other the ceiling, and awkwardly spin my wrists.
    She laughs again. "It takes practice, just start slow." She moves behind me and hands me the glow sticks. They're warm with sweat. She reaches around me and lightly grasps my hands. "Relax your arms." My arms fall limp at my sides. "Very funny." I place them out in front of me and she runs her fingers down my arms. The sensation is like an orgasm building in my sides. She takes my hands and moves them slowly in a circular motion, turning my hands in hers. We speed up, our arms tangle then unfold, cutting through the hot air. "There you go."
    After a small amount of dancing in the humid room, a thick layer of sweat sticks to my body. "I need to get a drink and catch my breath." I shout into the girl's ear. I make my way to the neon blue sign of a man peeing into a glowing toilet. The lights of the piss run and blink in an arch, a never ending golden trickle of electricity. There's four people lined up behind the water fountain so I decide to go to the bathroom first. I walk through the swinging door and follow a short black light illuminated hallway. A crowd of people gather by the illuminated purple sinks. A white sneaker is trapped in the cage of legs. It's toes point up to the ceiling. "What's going on here?" No one answers me. I push my way past the group, feeling the slimed sweat of the people on my arms.
    Chris is on the floor with two kids gently shaking his shoulders. "Oh, shit! Everyone back up!" I yell at the group. "I know him." His face is pale blue. "Someone call an ambulance." The crowd of faces stare at me as if watching me in a television. I grab a kid by the hand and his head snaps in my direction. "Do you have a phone?" He nods. "Well call a fucking ambulance." I lean forward and put my ear over Chris' lips. No breath. I lift his arm and place two fingers firmly against the inside of his wrist. His skin feels like it's been baking in the sun and is wet with sweat. No pulse. I tilt his heavy head back and pinch his nose shut then breathe two strong breaths into his mouth. His chest expands with each breath. I place my hands over his chest, one hand behind the other, pulling back on the fingers of the lower hand. Chris' shirt is dank with sweat. I thrust downward ten times on his sternum then breathe another two breaths. "Fuck! Fuck! Come on man!" He still isn't breathing. I continue the C.P.R. Oh, fuck, man!
    "Clear the way." Three men in blue jackets with the letters EMT on their arms come in with a stretcher and a blue duffel bag. "We can take it from here." They push me to the side. "Vitals?" A man in his low twenties checks Chris for a pulse and any breathing. "No signs. How long has he been like this?" The man asks while applying a neck brace then rolls him onto the stretcher.
    Holy fuck! Holy fuck!
    The man shakes my arm.
    I look up at his calm face.
    "How long has he been unconscious for?"
    "At least ten minutes."
    "Lets get him into the ambulance."
    "What has this kid taken?" The man not carrying Chris asks me.
    "He's been drinking all day and, and, he took some Ecstasy maybe an hour ago." I ramble to him, out of breath.
    "We need you to come with us to the hospital to answer some questions."
    "Okay." Holy fuck!
    The two medics work quickly, applying jelly to the zappers while the other cuts off his shirt. "Clear." The electricity runs through his body in a wave, starting with the strained arc of a back and leaving with a spasm from his limbs. "Nothing! Give me fifty more volts." They repeat the process about five more times. Each time his back arches higher from the gurney. The young EMT who checked Chris' pulse earlier looks at me then shocks Chris a couple more times, nothing. "He's gone. Time of death…" The man checks his watch, "2:35 AM."
    Holy fuck.

    crapped this out for creative writing, hope it isn't too big for you all to read it