The Clash

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: marclevytoo


Returning from a directionless walk in the redwood forest, during which he failed to banish disordered thoughts, wayward behaviors, and myopic outlooks, yet did not admit to being lost, the Unpaid Internet Content Provider encountered the fruits sprouted from his youthful seeds, the no longer tween twins, arrived from the location of what still passed during a mental health crisis as an educational institution of some renown, where classes were few, though the fees remained higher than the students. They were lashing the last of a trio of surf boards to the roof rack atop their car, a long board on which he used to on his best days hang ten, and for which he still felt an irritating pride of ownership and possession. A tawny owl looking down from a gnarly cypress tree he called a vacation retreat lasered in with eyes as wide as Io to enjoy the knee slapping antics.

 

"You're home."

 

"Good one, dad. You're as observant as ever."

 

"Do you have to be like that right from the get go?"

 

Helpfully, the yin twin adjudged, "He thinks he does."

 

"Yeah, right."

 

"How long are you staying?"

 

"Not long."

 

"You know I like it when you call and let me know."

 

"If you ever get a real phone like a real person then we could text you."

 

"I have a real phone, two of them to be exact."

 

"Yeah, right."

 

"They ring in tandem. I answer, I listen, I talk."

 

"Blah, blah, blah."

 

"If you choose."

 

"If you're here."

 

"If you feel like it."

 

"If you care."

 

"Have I ever denied your existence as a real person?"

 

"You talk too much."

 

"You don't listen too much."

 

"Works for me."

 

"Who has the time?"

 

"You, me, he, she."

 

"You don't get it."

 

"Nothing new there."

 

"Whatever."

 

"Same as it ever was. That's my boy."

 

"What about me?"

 

"Not a boy."

 

"Perish the thought."

 

"So how's school?"

 

"Waves suck."

 

"That leaves lots of time to study."

 

"They're not that bad."

 

"What is it that you are studying again?"

 

"Why do you think we're here?"

 

"I'll guess the waves are better here."

 

"See ya."

 

When I'm left behind from the start, he was compelled to concede, to dally with the delusion I may be getting ahead, and end up at a loss, do I apply ice, ingest drugs, stretch, constrict, waver, blame? With the inapt right to bear arms, it becomes mindlessly easy and convenient to shoot the messenger. It's too late to pretend the loony coot ever knew much. He never stopped aspiring to achieve his peak performance in the moment before he was bound to die.

 

Thomas Wu commented when he arrived, punctually, as expected, "I passed your refreshing kids on the road. It's always a pleasure to see them again."

 

"Yeah, right."

 

"I may have have been witness to a bit of an incident, however."

"Don't make me guess. Too many bits might fit."

 

"So full of vital spirit and energy, the pair of them."

 

"Full of it all right. Spill."

 

"Nothing broken. The yin twin seems to have bruised a knuckle. It will look discolored for a time, but nothing serious, nothing lasting."

 

"No blood then."

 

"Not from her. Not from either of yours. A bloody nose for the vanquished foe. Odd to bruise a knuckle on a nose."

 

"I suspect reinforced with an alloy composite mesh."

 

"A very rude little snot."

 

"White baseball cap worn backwards doofus style?"

 

"White now stained with doofus blood."

 

"An accurate description of either of the two techno-bros who live across the road with the robo-dweeb parental units."

 

"He wouldn't let me treat him. Just as well. He deserved it."

 

"The matched pair of them were manufactured to be aggressively entitled. They march in lock step like rambunctious toddlers. There is history here between hostile forces."

 

"The tears of rage from the losers were not fake."

 

"I taught my no longer tweens how to spar. Stick, stick, stick the left jab, cross hard with the right."

 

"You'll have to remind me how many times it's been that your nose was broken."

 

"I never said I was any good at it."

 

"As the golden oldie soundtrack goes, those who can't, teach."

 

"Neither twin admits to learning anything from me. What was the yang twin doing while his sister was engaged in hand to hand combat?"

 

"He was busy laughing so hard I thought he was going to need oxygen."

 

"Also learned from me."

 

As the unfixed odds continued to spin, the no longer tween twins were regaining synchronicity and balance in the ebbing hour of a dusky bronze at Pleasure Point. The waves were brain high and testy, the cleansing breeze from the southwest full of foaming funk. The conflict in the foothills, meanwhile, continued to saute in a dense, muddy sauce of a dark reduction. It gets darker sooner in the mountains and a slice of a purply moon separated into a mottled black and blue to mirror the bruises on the ground. Bats began to flip for bugs and parasites burrowed deeper under thin skin. Many casualties of many battles continued to creep and crawl and skulk among the dazed and wounded.

 

Suddenly, alert with new fear and loathing, Thomas Wu wailed, "What is that awful racket?"

 

The Unpaid Internet Content Provider explained, "The hostile forces are surfacing."

 

The hybrid robot Craig, robbed during the faux pandemic of the commute to Silicon Valley over the Santa Cruz Mountains that alone excited his passion, had mounted his John Deere mower made of parts from China to apply a bi-daily buzz cut to his regimental lawn as prescribed by militants at Monsanto. His soft butt was revving in the dark light. As a hybrid his butt was untroubled by its lack of warm blood or soul.

 

Thomas Wu observed, "The animals are frightened."

 

Craig had attempted to hang loose and establish a mixable presence at the Corralitos Brewing Company but his version of loose was only looser than a noose. None of the regulars came too close. After one beer he'd be informed by Diane that he'd had enough. Her universal authority behind the bar was derived from an important law of mechanical engineering represented by a ball peen hammer. The dweeb's assigned mate, Alexandra, a full bore but defective robot, who was most skillful at marching in a straight line from door to car to door, used the racket made by the mower to camouflage the cacophony of techno music she blasted while attempting to learn how to dance. She'd been informed on Twitter that loud was better. The quasi-music was assembled in Detroit. She'd try anything to fit in anywhere. She'd previously struck out at barbecues, bingo, bunco, and Bible thumping. According to informed secondary sources all first rate brains knew how to dance. She was counting her numbers of steps in anticipation.

 

The Unpaid Internet Content Provider commented, "It's just one more part of one more day in the robot playbook to poison, plunder, and ravage the earth."

 

"Remind me again why I am here listening to this."

 

"The robots first ruin the planet for human habitation, then manufacture the floating platforms that will become shelter in zero gravity, along with the rockets needed to get the dupes there in outer space."

 

"I'm frightened for myself that it makes a bit of sense."

 

"Just imagine you're in a crime novel with a sense of humor. Think of Elmore Leonard. Remember, you follow who's following me from three cars back."

 

"And what if no one is following you?"

 

"We'll meet back here to review your mission."

 

The Unpaid Internet Content Provider, of course, was no more aware than Craig of the invasive probes installed inside the S180 riding mower. They were designed by desperadoes at John Deere to scan intertwined networks and track troubling anomalies in electrical magnetism. How could he know anything for sure? He was just a man. And yet, he had no doubt that he was feeling a vague disturbance transmitted in bending waves. He could not explain it and did not try. Everyone knows what that's like. Vague and disturbing feelings don't have to make sense. And no one, after all, is more anomalous than an unpaid internet content provider. The data showed his numerous playlists on Spotify all appealed to unpopular demand. This, he reminded himself, as well as others, is a test, only a test.

 

Decisively, he said, "Let's do this."

 

Keeping his eyes wide, he drove with purpose to Trader Joe's in Capitola. He turned right on a red light at Freedom Boulevard, and successfully merged. He stayed in the slow lane. He knew the way by heart. He parked between two white cars in the parking lot. He grabbed a handy basket. There was no need to be strapped to a cart. He bought bananas, pecans, red potatoes, organic corn chips, naan, organic yogurt, vanilla and plain. He bought red wine and brown beer. He was not obvious. The dialectical clash between anti-matter and the current opposition continued. He was as sure of it as sure could be.

 

Later, Thomas Wu was astonished to admit, "You were definitely being followed."

 

The ante was being upped, no bluff. The street wise tawny owl knew it, too. The night time is the right time to be the one. The tawny owl was amused in the same tree by humans in the same sort of way. What's up was getting down. It had a good beat for dancing. There was no beginning and no end.

 

"I'm not surprised."

 

"I can't believe it."

 

"I'm not going to tell you I told you so."

 

"You just did."

 

"But, still."

 

"Now, it's we."

 

"Now what do we do?"

 

 

 

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Submitted: April 14, 2021

© Copyright 2021 marclevytoo. All rights reserved.

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