The Mallard God Complex (9)
I apologize for a few slow chapters, but it's going somewhere I promise! As always chime in with comments, criticisms, witicisms, and anything else that tickles your fancy.
Thanks for reading,
9. Steadier Footing
The heat in the car has grown oppressive. I can’t decide if it’s my own vision of personal hellfire, or if we’re passing through one of Midway’s many surrounding deserts. Indecision is like a drug, once I’ve started it’s difficult to stop. Every choice is a mountain to climb, and I’m without any rope. The man next to me has led me into the abyss and I’m too far over the edge to climb back out. There’s comfort in just being along for the ride, even if it’s insanity at every turn.
What if he’s telling the truth? What if there really is more going on than what I’m seeing? The fantasy survives in the corners of my mind, creeping like a vine. There is a part of me that wants to believe it. Everything in my life has been so ordinary up to this point. Every day has been a carefully choreographed dance leading me down the path most traveled, through the empty, grey void. If he hadn’t knocked on my door that night, I wouldn’t have done anything different. Each day would have been a new shade of grey to add to the monochromatic pallet of my apathy.
Part of me thinks that it is the fear of doing nothing forever that has driven me to this point. In the end, it doesn’t much matter what got me here. The window presses its heat against my face and I continue to wander. Everything else is irrelevant, no matter the course I am just as willing to stay either way. Anything to feel something, anything to break out of the ordinary, anything to feel as if for once I am something, and for once that my actions truly matter somewhere outside of my microcosm.
“Have you finished working through your crisis of morality yet?” He says glibly from the driver’s seat. Not much seems to have changed. In the time I have been wandering my own head he has continued forward on the road, watching the specs fly by, and numbing to the effects of the passing time.
“Yes, I think so.”
“Have you figured out what we’re going to do with the money then?”
“That seems like something that falls into more your area of expertise.”
“You really are a bore. You know that right?”
“Thanks.” I say with true carelessness. His thoughts weigh less on me than the passing breeze. I may be willing to follow him, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to accept life tips from a killer. Indecision does not have to fall hand-in-hand with insanity. My actions are insane, yes, but I am not. What I am doing is perfectly logical in my situation. I have weighed the outcomes and bet on the horse which is least likely to get shot in the face in the middle of the Kentucky Derby. I’d rather keep riding than fall off.
“It wasn’t meant to be a statement. Fight back! Do something other than sitting in that chair moping about the life that has passed you by!”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Yes, well you do that.” He lights up a joint as he says this and begins to fill the cabin with a thick aroma. It’s sickly sweet. The ashes fall into a cup of chestnuts resting gently on the dashboard.
“What are they for?” Changing the subject seems to be the only way to carry on.
“The ashes? Well, there’s a concept called conservation of mass. I’m surprised you haven’t heard—“
“Yeah. Unpleasant little buggers.” Once again he’s not offering any clarification unless I pull it from him. If it’s a character flaw, he doesn’t seem to notice. In this world I have constructed he is the paragon of all things that are normal, and everything is judged on his scale. I don’t know much what that means for my life or my mental well-being, but it means something, and that’s more than nothing.
Christ, I’m thinking like him. “What do they have to do with chestnuts?”
He stares at me blankly as if someone has just asked him why tennis balls fall to the ground when thrown. “Really?”
“I assumed it was common knowledge. The odor emitted by the North American chestnut is similar to that of the pheromone a spider emits when they sense something that is poison. To them, it’s a warning sign. To me, it’s a blessing. Creatures were not meant to walk on eight legs, if they were, we would have been ruled by the octopus long ago.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, of course. The octopus possesses far superior intelligence to our own. The only reason that it is our skyscrapers that populate the landscape is our adaptation of living in the harsher climate of land.” He shivered. “Thank god for that though. I wouldn’t much like to tangle with an octopus. It’s the tentacles…”
That is the end of his sentence. The distance, far away has suddenly grabbed his attention. I don’t press the matter. I can agree with him. Something is unsettling about the idea of octopods roaming Wall-Street in business suits. The sentiment would be the same, but those suction cups…