sssssss," stated the short, funny-looking bearded man
who sat next to
at the counter.
"Drugs," the man repeated. "God bless 'em."
Joshua felt some anxiety catching in his stomach. He liked to avoid
situations like this. He decided to ignore the man, and sipped his coffee.
The man remained silent for about fifteen seconds, then turned towards Joshua.
Joshua blinked. "Wrong?" he asked, purely by reflex.
"Ja. Your take, your first impression of me. All wrong."
And Joshua knew that it was, because his conception of the man behind the
mirrored sunglasses that was addressing him now wouldn't allow for him to make
such a statement. So Joshua revised his opinion of the man.
The weird little man grunted. "Ehh. The chemical composition of the human
brain is arbitrary, y'know, to an extent. Custom-tailored by evolution to
basic survival, but otherwise, just a random bunch of shit all wired up in a
particular way." The man broke off and scratched his ear. He seemed to have
forgotten that he was just talking.
He began again, just as abruptly. "Hell. Drugs alter the chemical behavior
of the brain, so you know, what the hell. Perhaps they make it work better,
Joshua thought he could hear a lingering trace of a Russian accent. Just a
hint, though. Obviously a part of the man's history long since past. Then
Joshua began to think about what the man was actually saying to him, and
realized the truth in it. The operation of the brain, while in one sense
impressively specialized and complex, was far from perfect. There were lots of
substances in the world that induced psychoactive response, so who was to say
that one of them didn't improve the brain's operation significantly? The more
he considered it, the more he realized just how likely that was.
"Eh," was all Joshua said.
The man continued: "Even the simple shit. Alcohol, you know. Too much of it,
a man don't know his dick from his ass. Think shit like he can fart fire. But
a little? Knocks away the social conditioning, you know, the bullshit. Makes
a man more objective. Rationalizes the bastard. So long's he careful, I mean
to say. Then he begin to think without that fucken baggage he don't even know
he luggin around."
The man's way of speaking was unusual, to say the least. He had a sort of
lilting, wandering tone that came across as an aural landscape like a series of
hills and troughs. What he was saying, of course, was even more bizarre.
Everyone knew that alcohol impaired one's cognitive ability. That was the long
and short of it. For that very reason, some less enlightened tended to believe
that their dumbed-down simplicity was actually intellectual clarity. Stupid.
Joshua felt the need to verbalize some of this. "Actually, alcohol just makes
the mind weaker. If you think otherwise, that's probably why."
A look of anger flashed across the man's face, and Joshua was momentarily
panicked by the fact that he might have made a deadly mistake by disagreeing
with this stranger. Then the man seemed to calm down, and even - was it? -
yes, Joshua thought he noticed the slightest hint of a smile tugging at the
corner of the man's mouth.
"Weaker mind, you say? Weaker mind? Fuck weaker mind. You got these guys
running around sayin just cause some poor fucker can't do quadratics in his
head, you know, that he some kind of fuckin drunken moron. Listen to me, a man
drink a little, he still got faculties, freakin mental faculties, they be about
just as good as ever. You shove some goddamned math test in the man's face,
maybe he screw up a little, maybe he drop a zero. You drop that same fucker in
a room with God for ten minutes, guess who gonna be more receptive? That guy
or some guy that's sittin on his ass with shit runnin through his head like
'Why is God in a room with me? How can this be?' My money's with that first
bastard, every time. Cause he realize what the hell the world's all about."
Joshua had stopped listening to the man, and started listening to the ideas.
Ideas are a symbiont; they depend on man to give them form and to serve as a
vessel, to contain them and to spread them. Man depends on ideas to survive
and to interact. Joshua and the bearded man were sitting at the counter in a
coffeeshop, but the ideas were flowing oblivious to any sort of physical
Joshua was weighing what the man had just told him. It was true, he realized,
that people had a tendency to get carried away with the importance of
rationality. Perhaps for practical purposes, taking the edge off could
occasionally be helpful. He said so.
The man behind the sunglasses laughed, a hoarse, cynical laugh that turned
into a bit of a cough. He waved his hand in a half-hearted gesture, and spoke
in a carefree tone. "You fuckin think, you fuckin think. You don't fuckin
know shit. Nobody know shit, except for God, and he the bastard that don't
share secrets with nobody.
"The world's a fucked up glass sculpture. Sculpture of what? I don't fucken
know! If I know, I be God. This fucken piece of work got curves,twists,
angles, you know. You be stuck at one point. You so small, you can't see what
the fuck the thing is. You can't see shit, the light's comin through all
screwed around and... and distorted. Yeah. But you stay there your whole
fuckin life, cause you know why? You think that that shit is real! You think
that shit you see is God! It all you see, you got no reason not to think
that. But it ain't. You wanna see the big picture, you got to move yourself
the FUCK around, see shit from different angles. Put it together. Sort it
out, you know, make the sense. Maybe you move around your whole life, and you
still be only in the asscrack of this fucken sculpture, and you don't know, but
at least you on your way. You stay still, you fucked. Got to look at things
"Maybe you lucky. You try hard enough, you fall the hell off that
son-of-a-bitch, you look at that fucken thing and see it all, you know what it
is. Then you walking side by side with God. But that bloody well ain't
happenin while you standing still, shitsick piss-scared to get up and look
The man squinted at Joshua for a while, and it made him uncomfortable. "Neh,
fuck you. I say six, you think seven. I paint red, you see blue. Fucken
waste of time, you ask me." The man got up and left, and Joshua never saw him