Chapter 19: Crackhead Politics and Tangerine Fishsticks.

Morty opened his eyes up. It was still dark, he was in an alley slumped against a utility pole. A thin string of drool trickled from his lip and hung suspended just above his lapel. He was conscious, but his breathing still sounded like snoring. He once again pulled himself to his feet and wiped his mouth clean. He didnt wear a watch, so he had no idea what time it was.

 

“At least I got to sleep for a little while.” thought Morty.

‘Whereabouts am I?”

 

He looked down the alley and tried to get the wherewithal to stumble back toward the street. Some nameless 80′s tune echoed in the hollows of his skull. The melody was just beyond comprehension, and the words were subdeued to dully scraping syllables. It was out of rhythm from the pounding of his head.

 

He stumbled back into the main street, spots bathed in the pale glow of the street lights. The background activities heard earlier seemed absent, and the town hung in a ghostly silence. There was the lightest pitter patter tracing in circles outside the circle of the lights.

 

“Its probably that goddamn dog,” thought Morty.

 

His Minnesotan politeness had begun to fade in the events of the weekend.

 

“This is wrong, I was trying to sleep, I was trying …”

 

He stopped, his mind stuttered, his thoughts stammered.

 

“Try…”

 

“…I have to try, I have to do right…”

 

His muscles clenched, and he perched upright, swaying ever so slightly, like a broomstick standing on end. The combination of seizures, celebrities, and electrolysis had peeled away the myriad barriers built between his latent critical sense and the barriers of his own society and sheer, pointless acceptance. His own societal inclinations of trust had been burnt away and his primordial survival instincts were taking hold.

 

“Need to get my message. Need money for the message. Need money to do right.”

 

Morty then realized he had not been breathing for the last minute or so, and quickly relaxed his chest muscles, he gasped in air, and lost his equilibrium. He stumbled forward again, and caught himself on the wall. He could feel his thoughts and his frame, and some new sensations. His mortal instincts warring with his repressed consciousness, his abused body resisting the pressure he was putting it under.

 

“Keep going.”

 

He lurched forward, slumped over, his body still in half paralysis, jerking like a syphillitic. Clutching at his shoulder and strugglilng to breath. As his body relaxed, he melted into a pronounced limp. He had no idea where he was or how to get home. It was dark and cold out, and he probably had work the next day. If he still had a job.

 

He carried on, again, lost, stumbling through the streets. Had he been more social, more active in the community, he would have been spotted by a friend earlier. Had he any common sense, he would have just stayed in. Were he not Minnesotan, he would have known better than to drink a pint glass full of hard liquor and nighttime cold medicine.

 

Morty had never learned these things, because he had never done anything, he had only tried. Having made his personality and endless cycle of chasing the limited persona of those that were presented to hin, characters that spoke with no accent, whos lines were always witty and wry, where each character could dominate the conversation when appropriate, and no one ever interrupted. Where each individual problem was downcast into a universal human inconvenience with a pre-scripted answer, he had never learned to use his own adaptability to face the daily tribulations of life, and lumbering along through the alleys in the after hours, his descent into the fringes not marked by entertaining anecdotes and harrowing terror, but the random appearance of images of a particular international athlete and sunglasses model. His tolerance and moderation undeveloped because he had simply never exposed himself, by fear or taboo, or social incompetence, he had simply just missed the common experience of learning through pain.

 

Now, stunningly over-sensitive to the normal happenings of workaday life, pulled from his bubble by circumstance, he was lost, alone, and his perfectly constructed thoughts planted by his controlled environment were suddenly absent. The void in his psyche was being encroached by the hostile swill that had been burgeoning in the recesses of his mind. The reality he had lived in had caused such an unaccepting and completely constructed simplification, that it had created partitions in his brain that left the outskirts developing in isolation, with no way to adjust its impulses.

 

His id was taking over.

 

But he was still downtrodden, he needed to recuperate. He reached the end of the building he had been leaning on, and folded back into an alley. He slumped with his back against the wall, and his feet slipped and he shuddered to the ground.

 

“psst….hey!” a gravelly voice whispered in the darkness.

 

Morty rolled his head sloppily over to the alley. It was pure darkness, far from the sparse lighting of the street.

 

“What are you doing here, kid? This is my alley… you one of the new ones?”

 

Morty sat there dazed, reconstructing neural pathways with his newfound self. He smiled his famous shining smile, and answered in a long stuttering drawl.

 

“I’m Morty, mister, I’m trying, I have to do right.”

 

“Well, kid, this is my place, my land, you see, I stake this out, I keep out the rats and weasels, and I got traps all over here to keep those damn kids out.”

 

“Your … land?”

 

“I own this, kid, real estate, you can’t stay here less I say so, so I wanna know what you’re doing here.”

 

In the shadows, Morty’s eyes were adjusting, and he could see the distant outline of a face in the shadows, it was hard to see the details, but it looked like he had a short white beard and long hair.

 

“I just… I … can’t move, mister, I’m sorry”

 

“Ahhh, shit, another fucking junkie. Look, I know you’re on the streets, but you gotta keep it together even for that, you just die otherwise. Whaddya, got, toss it over, ill get rid of it for ya.”

 

“Drugs?”

 

“Yeah, I hear ya, I’ve been there too, how I ended up in this hole. Used to talk too much, too. This doesn’t take a lot to keep running, I can still have my fun on the weekends. Just gotta stay professional.”

 

“Pro…fessional?”

 

“Sure kid, you ever wonder why there are so many other bums in town? You can’t be new to this, every homeless person in the state passes through here at some point, its the beverly hills of homelessness, you can get a nice place out in the fields, or something more modern and urban, like this alley. It’ll cost ya, though, and you have to fit the right personality to be able to move in. We try to keep a sane community here and we want our permanent residents to help that grow. We maintain a very high bar for membership.”

“Homeless membership?”

 

“Homeless membership. Basic things. If you’re serious about setting up here, I can schedule a conference, but right now its my office hours, so I gotta stay available here.”

 

“I … have an apartment.” Morty blinked, puzzled at the information he was receiving.

 

“Apartment? Ha, well, la de da, mister fancy suit. I bet you spend your whole day working so you can sleep in a place thats smaller than an alley, I bet you live off of television and carrots. I bet you have to lie about the things you like just so you can pretend like you have friends. I bet you go through painful procedures just to look the way you think other people want you to look.”

 

Morty sat blinking.

 

“Look, kid, if you have an apartment, you should stay off the drugs at least, whatever has got you knocked out for this long is gonna stop you from running on your hampster wheel. Yeah, I know what hampster wheels are, I had a hampster when I was a kid, back when I embraced the same life.

 

“There were other things, too, I had my problems with the drugs, and the responsibility, had no family or friends, no safety net, and I landed on the streets. Used to have a nice fancy suit like that too. I used to save all my money so that twice a year, I could get extra strength teeth whitening just so my smile would shine.

 

“Turns out that shit just melts the enamel, and not having a natural layer of bacteria is murder on your teeth. I needed to get ivory replacements, it bankrupted my normal budget and I couldnt afford all my drugs. And there is was, my vanity caused me to lose everything. Also, I went to jail for attempted murder.”

 

Morty was beginning to lose focus, the goblins in the back of his head were starting to scream and this mans ravings were focused but surreal. He tried to pick himself up and collapsed back into the heap of himself.

 

The old man continued. “Yeah, thats right, you landed here, you probably won’t get up yet. Look, kid, this is a place of business, I appreciate the chat, but if I get more customers, I might ask them to drag you out to the street. I get large parties here, sometimes, usually a bunch of kids wanting to chip in on a big place. I can’t do that though, I send them down to the loading docks, thats were the cheap stuff is. I only deal with singles, high rollers in the underground. Most of them have sway and personnel. I tell ya kid, this real estate business is big.”

 

The blackness of the alley began to lighten into a monochrome gray and faded to white, the words trailed off into echoes, he was aware of his pupils and they were expanding wider than his eyes, his ideas numbed and his consciousness faded.

 

“KID!”

 

He jerked back awake.

 

“Dont make me get out of my desk and drag you out myself, you wouldnt like it, I wouldnt like it. You make good conversation, but you can’t sleep here, this isnt a halfway house. You might try one of the churches down the road, but they don’t much like people in the middle of the night, and the clientèle is worse than those damn kids. You ain’t passing out here.”

 

Morty’s irritability was surpassing his failure to stand. This didnt make sense, he knew it, but whatever had been eating his brain alive the past few days was starting to chew on that. He had no filters for what to not believe, all facts came with equal authority, his judgement was skewed.

 

He rolled over on his stomach and clutched at the ground, he dragged himself out of the alley, the face in the distance continued to ramble on about his offerings and listings, the availability and the selective community membership he maintained. He pulled himself, inch by inch, back out into the street. His arms were less fatigued and he could feel his body loosening up and regaining control, as though he was being allowed to move again. He gradually pulled himself to his knees and continued crawling along the ground, again noticing the pitter patter in the background. He breathed heavily to drown out any distractions and pushed himself back down towards his apartment.

 

Of course he didnt make it.

 

He gradually got back to his feet and pushed along, leaning on the walls, passing through a small manufacturing area between the main street and the back alleys of his apartment. He staggered up the street and collapsed into the door frame.

 

Apparently, it was late, but not so late that the bar wasnt closed.

 

The bartender seemed concerned that the man he had kicked out earlier for passing out had just managed to collapse back into the bar. He began talking rapidly in a language beyond Morty’s comprehension, though it might have been english.

 

Being inside an organized space refreshed him considerably, it was still new, but not as unfamiliar as lying in an alley. His eyes fluttered, and each blink brought him rushing back from the edge.

 

“OK, too much sleeping, here one for you, wake you up. On the house now. Dont fall over!”

 

Morty had learned the response when handed a drink, and his politeness layer was rebuilding. He drained the vodka and hot coffee in a lone draught. The television flicked listlessly in the background, with sports highlights and deoderant commercials.

 

“Morty’s BACK!” Morty shouted. He was energized.

 

Morty felt energized, and angry, walked stridently to the bar and ordered another several pints of hot coffee and vodka. He with each gulp he felt more powerful, he felt back in control, as though his mind was forming one cohersive piece of meat. He fought through the pain, he pushed his body back in line, and re-learned his politeness. He was jocular with the locals and charming to the ones he was tipping. He hated his piece of the earth and his distance from it, his willing amnesia was helping forget it. He stopped trying and just went with the instinct. His pain faded, his blankness had taken form.

 

Morty had never broken a bone, barely even stubbed a toe. Having had an indestructible face, he was completely unaware of that as a vulnerability. The continuous, enormous mental and physical pain he had lived through in the past few days had begun to give a swollen comfort to his psychological situation.

 

And stepping through the crowds of winos, pushing them aside with his laughter, running the laps of self-aggrandizement and endless advertisement. He was wild and showed them all the funniest parts of the most popular TV shows he had watched. He was quick with references, and cared genuinely about peoples feelings. He couldnt stop talking, he couldnt stop blinking. For once, he stopped worrying about doing right, because everything he did felt right.

 

As before, his consciousness slipped away, but he also managed to remain cogent. He retained some coherence, and never once looked at the TV, he just followed the trail of conversations and floated along the stream. The hour was running late, and he was running to catch up, but his low tolerance brought him down to the line immediately.

 

He stumbled, cawed and smirked his way down the bar, and at the end caught a glimpmse of a dark figure sitting in the shadow, around the corner, at the bar. He was cloaked in a bulkly black overcoat, and sat sullen, slumped over a clear drink, hiding behind his hair.

 

Not content to be the life of the party, Morty felt obligated to bring everyone into the late night wino party.

 

“Late night for drinking alone, eh mister?” said Morty, smile slurred and shining.

 

The man sat silently, motionless for a few seconds, then turned and stared coldly at Morty. He was too drunk to notice, and just stood there smiling the useless jackass that he was.

 

The man stared cold, unflinchingly, and narrowed his eyes. He held his gaze at Morty for several seconds, then moved his gaze back to the center of the bar and stared off into the distance.

 

Morty’s brain was murky and drunk, his thoughts had retreated back to the far corners, and he felt as though he had adopted a personality from one of the television situation comedies that he liked so much.

 

“I sure am entertaining,” thought Morty. “I am amusing the living fuck out of these people. I am so … “

 

And in the back of his head was a single tone. Like the emergency broadcasting system. It started as a slight background resonance with the TV, and grew to a deafening shreik.

 

“THERE!” he thought, the sound breaking into the sound of exploding glass and shit. It was fucking awesome.

 

Morty shook his fucking head back into the present tense. He was looking back at the man, and trying to think of something clever to say when he heard a commercial in the background.

 

“Are you suffering from repressed catholic night terrors? Do you wake up from nightmares involving school uniforms and holy sacraments? Are you frightened of even a venal sin, but relishing your corpulence? If so, you need to try Cathlosil, the clinically proven formula for removing all traces of false guilt that can’t be confessed away, just listen to the workings of its patented formula inventor:”

 

A very young looking actor in doctors scrubs with a stethoscope around his neck filled the screen.

 

“Hello, I am doctor Craig Fishlington, inventor of Cathlosil, the #1 cure for Catholics. It started out with me addressing the mortal question: if you confess your sins away, what happens when you feel guilty for not believinig in redemption of confession. Thats when I realized that Catholics (which I am not, nor have ever been), are just wrong.”

 

The doctor walked through the staged background pointing at small fauna, squirrels and shit.

 

“You see, I am not taking a position on god, religion, or personal faith. I just think that Catholicism, by nature of the fact that its more popular than McDonalds, has an ex Hitler youth brigade member as its infallible head, and run by pedophiles who determine the punishment of your transgressions and rape your children, that its basically wrong. This has nothing to do with the good people who have their chosen faith as Catholicism, most of them just don’t know any better, they are hopeless indoctrinated stooges. Seriously, there are other religions predicated on preserving rituals that Catholicism has perverted for political reasons centuries ago. Also, they had a tendency to murder scientists or people who disagreed with them.”

 

The doctor smiled a broad, angry smile.

 

“I am not a doctor. I am an actor dressed as a doctor. You may wonder why you are seeing me on TV. Well, Ill tell you why, someone hired me to try to hawk their product, but I prefer the direct approach.

 

“If you are Catholic and actively believe it, you are wrong and fucked up. If there were a god, he would not be on your side. I also dont believe in god, but that is entirely independent of you and your misguided beliefs.

 

“While we havn’t found a problem with humanities natural inclination towards spirituality (yet), Catholicism as an organized religion is only a result of its causticism and unending bloodlust.

 

“This pill will not fix Catholicism, this will not make you unbirth your children or actually believe that condoms are not a conspiracy by people trying to spread aids. You might not be tolerant of gays or blacks or muslims (or all three). You will, however, be able to live your life without kneeling down to a pedophile or clapping your hands with some beads.

 

“Order now, and you get a daily affirmation diary. This brightly colored book contains several pages of ‘writing mantras’. Each mantra is in the shape of a letter, and each letter has a delightful outline, which you can trace along a series of guide lines. Lets look at one now.”

 

The good doctor pulled out a pen.

 

“Oh, look, the first one is the capital letter ‘A’. Ill just use this handy dandy pen for my ‘writing mantra’, I start at this corner,” the doctor began tracing the letter from the lower left corner, “it starts at the vanilla line, gets a taste of strawberry on the way up, a lick of chocolate, and slides past the strawberry and stops at vanilla. But ‘A’ is greedy, it goes back for a long stiff bite of strawberry.

 

“Wasnt that fun? Wasn’t that mediatative, don’t you already feel like you are over your stupid fucking inbred religion for assholes? Dont you wish you hadnt wasted your life caring for too many children birthed to a misogynistic asshole who was probably sodomized as a child by the same fat old man who makes you spank yourself because you mixed cotton and linen and had it beaten in you your whole life because there is a giant monster in the sky who controls everything and will make you burn in fire for eternity if you sin against his mortal sons mother because he loves you?”

 

“Caholosil, I really did invent it.

 

“Its a great drug. You might be wondering how much I would charge for this. Well, thats always a hard question. Typically, a lifelong catholic is left traumatized either directly by the perverted members of the church, or by beatings inflicted by being raised in a traditionally catholic family. In modern times, the dependence on telling your sins and ‘evil’ thoughts has been misplaced from a pervert who was incapable of being a finger painting teacher to illiterate geriatric coma patients, to someone who’s parents paid for a college education and pursued a degree but was too inarticulate to pursue humanities, and too stupid to pursue real science ended up being convinced that they could solve other people problems even though they were miserable unfilfilled people. Instead of church coffers, you write a check for therapy, and the good ones even give you better drugs than wine and crackers.

 

“This wont fix that. I can’t even guarantee that the pills will do anything. In fact, if you are catholic and even thinking that these thoughts make sense, then you probably dont need the drug, you just need to stop going to church and abandon your ‘community’.

 

“Now, this will make me very unpopular with those who have built their lives around congregating. Its important to know, though, that those people are not your friends, and you are not theirs, you are only sociable because of a routine that has been beaten into your collective skulls. You only know each other because you are guilt tripped into your stupid fucking religion. Your lives are empty because they are devoid of spirituality and replace insight with routine and punishment.

 

“Some of you are even twice as useless and are active church goers in therapy. You have embraced the double edged sword of self victimization and self righteousness, you are addicted to finding something outside of your self with rigid, predefined rules to give you your own validation because you are too cowardly and worthless to use your own god evolved brain to think about an issue.

 

“Now, you may have guessed that I, the handsome actor doctor who hates you and your stupid fucking religion might have some personal motivation in selling you a product to convince you that you are a fucking worthless moron who has wasted their life ruining other people lives and just spreading fucking misery to all people who dont believe in the bullshit you believe in even though that bullshit keeps you a fucking miserable stooge.

 

“Yes, Catholicism is not so much a religion as a cult of insane misery, you people should carry your crosses on your back and walk off a fucking cliff, according to your Galileo murdering beliefs it would make you fall to the ground faster, and you would meet your mythical god and join the great ranks of all the other good catholics who engendered the crusade and murdered foreign babies in the name of their one true god.”

 

The actor doctor put down his pen, and wiped away the froth that had built up around his lips during his endless rant.

 

“And you watched that, you fucking Catholics watched me fill out the spelling book, you watched in rapture, in distraction, waiting for the answer, the one hint I can sell you. You believed that Catholicism is wrong and are waiting for the guidance from a trusted source, you want to know how much im going to charge.

 

“You want to know the fucking penance to pay. Do you see how fucked up you are? Do you understand why I hate catholicism? Why are you still watching this commercial? I am a reprehensible person who inherited all their money and spend it buying infomercial time to talk about how much I hate catholicism.”

 

The doctor actor pointed his finger at the screen and smiled broadly.

 

“So fuck all your stupid douche bag dildo licking cum-tart dog felching donkey fisting chigger having catholics. There are no pills, there are no answers. Believe in god, sure, but everything you have build your life and culture around is completely and totally fucked. If you really believed in a literal hell, all of the mortal men you idolize will be burning there forever, and that you have no chance of getting into hell. Do you really want to be part of a cult where a grizzled old man who want to fuck a little boy in the ass is the vessel of god and authorized to tell you that you are pure?”

 

“There is no Catholicil. It is just fucking common sense, wake up you use shitbags and stop ruining life for all the people around you. If you dont come to your senses, I hope you choke to death on your sunday wine pretending you are drinking the blood of a fictional character that has been dead for 2000 years, if he existed.

 

“Which he probably didnt.

 

“I’m doctor Craig Fishington. I hope to see you soon. Unless you are Catholic.”

 

Morty was held en rapture. He still stood there, drunk looming over the figure in black, shaking off the ringing and absorbing the advertising around him.

 

“Gosh, television is getting weird, huh?” he said to the man in black.

 

Like earlier, the man turned slowly and stared directly at Morty’s eyes. Morty again heard the burning sound rising again from the back of his ears. Having focused on the infomercial, Morty was more aware of the mans hazy gaze and shook his head quickly.

 

This broke the mans concentration and the sound dulled back into the disruptiveness of the endless wino muttering in the background.

 

Morty realized that the man seemed to have a piercing stare that was causing the sounds in his head. He looked down at the mans glare and tried to follow what he was staring at. He waved his hand across the path of his vision, and could feel vibrations in a narrow pin point across the mans site.

 

The man in the bulky black overcoat stood up directly he. He took 1.3 steps up and stood chest to chest with Morty. He cast his gays from shoes to eyes, and Morty felt the narrow disturbances follow his eyes all the way up. Their gaze met, and Morty’s slurry eyes met the unblinking gaze of the man in the bulky black overcoat.

At this distance, the sensation was overwhelming, the ringing was an afterthought to the blazing fire and swirling space hell background that was suddenly accentuating his now disembodied head.

 

“I am the mast hypnotist, how dare you interrupt me with your trenchant beggantry? You mendicant! Spactacious vagrant! See how I have pulled your very mind apart, see how I have commanded your vision! You are now my ward, I own your mind and your actions, I-”

 

Morty was grinning like a dip shit, leaning slightly forward and while locked in a hypnotic stasis, the man in the bulky black coat realized that he could incapacitate a drunken derelict, he actually lacked the fine-tuned control he was used to having on puny humans.

 

Morty sat locked in mortal gaze, enraptured by the spinning background and seemingly disembodied head. As his eyes focused, he began to see through the head, the interlocutor’s skin began to fade. Morty thought that he might have been hallucinating, the skin turned pale, then translucent, then green. They eyes turned yellow with narrow vertical black slits.

 

“You…you are different, but you are not one of … us?” the man seemed to say, without moving his lips.

 

“You resist my hypnosis … you are beyond my control …”

 

“Hyp…nosis?” Morty found himself stammering again.

 

“Last call!” said the bartender.

 

Morty broke the gaze and turned back. He ordered a Minnesota Flop House, which is a workmans boot filled with vodka and beer. He turned back towards the putative confrontation and found the man gone.

 

He took a deep breath and began to chug one last drink.

 

And this is how he ended up in the park where we first met him.

 

Like I said, he had just gotten shit faced.

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