You wake up and before reality sets in you plan how you would like your day to go.
You do the whole bathroom thingyou lather, you rinse, you repeat.
You dress slowly under your own scrutiny and regardless of whether you are in overalls or a uniform or a silk linen suit, you hate the way you look. You will never look the way you did that other day, the day you were happy just being yourselfthough you cannot specifically remember when that day was.
Eventually you exit your humble little home and stumble into the concentrated centre of a mad, mad world. In this land skyscrapers dwarf the rising sun and the earth below them is forever in their shadow. The city streets are always an endless stream of chaos around you.
If you were like me, you wore a silk linen suit and the toast was always the same.
It was never a far step from the inside of any building to the inside of a waiting car.
You attended benefits and charity balls for the whole spectrum of human suffering.
You ate deep-fried Dodo whilst funding vaccines for orphan albino gorillas.
Soon you began to realise that once you can afford the best, everything loses its grandeur. You realised that the person you had worked all your life to become was not someone you liked.
A little while after that and loving your partner became a routine, hugging your child a formality and contacting your parents an obligation.
And thats when you met Sonny.
Sonny always said there was no point in trying to hit rock bottom. Sonny said:
Only those who experience every terrible thing they have ever been afraid of can truly lose themselves. If you really want to be Reborn, then you need to forget that youre even going to wake up in the morning.
Addiction was what terrified me before I met Sonny. Thats what I told him when he asked.
Sonny told me what I needed to do was to really hit rock bottom.
To know if you can handle being less than nothing, Sonny tells me, but more importantly, so you can Awaken. You need to forget your past life before you can achieve enlightenment. Thats what Sonny calls this, my Awakening. I am becoming something much greater than what I was and I have only Sonny to thank for that.
Sonny calls and tells you to take your medication, to meet him at some address and that tonight you will awaken from a twelve thousand year sleep.
Before you go, Sonny tells you to bring what is necessary for your Awakening.
Sonny first found me at a charity auction in Middle Park on a warm December night. It was the holidays, the giving timethe hot season for misery.
Bob, the reject from some reality show, he takes centre stage and mounts the podium.
Bob, getting right into the first act, he tells us why we cannot allow the children of the Njubi tribe to perish from this earth. He tells us why we cannot allow genocide to claim another culture and blah, blah, blah.
Bob, the first act coming to an end, he tries to be the presenter we all need him to be. What we need is someone who can convince us that all our wealth justifies our wasted lives. We need someone who can make us feel useful despite our corrupt government, our world consuming economy and all our secret impurities that keep us awake at night and cold inside.
Bobs presentation will determine whether we donate five or fifty thousand dollars to whatever plight.
Bob, the spotlight extending his fifteen minutes, he begins the second act.
Kobi has no money.
When Kobi was five years old her entire village was massacred by a rebel militia.
Kobi, her six foot head smiling wide on the projection screen above the stage, she drinks contaminated water for our viewing pleasure.
She tells us about starvation and rickets and airborne disease.
Kobi, our begging little orphan, we love and need her the same way we do Bob.
Even the rich need to be reminded of their wealth.
We at our table with our dead meat, dead furs and dead faceswe are the dining dead.
We at our table discussed summer holiday plans while dying African kids talked about grief and loss. We drank Cristal from crystal flutes while unnaturally skinny black women drank opaque water from clay pots.
It was the third charity event that week and the only thing I had gathered so far was that starvation and genocide were the in things that season.
It is when my party leaves to visit the desert bar that I notice the smell. Imagine a garbage receptacle frothing with hot sludge and excrement. The stink invades my nostrils and causes my asshole to pucker and quiver. The lake couldnt possibly smell so foul, and turning to my right I find the only thing that could.
The bum, he sits in old Mrs Keyes place at the table, his soiled poncho pressed against her mink coat draped over the seat. The bum, with his swampy black hair soaking up the moonlight, he carefully empties the contents of a bottle of cough syrup into our champagne magnum. Without even as much as a cursory glance he tosses the empty syrup bottle over his shoulder and then his lips crawl around the mouth of the magnum and he drains the contents in one rocky swallow. He wipes at his mouth and beard with the oven mittens he wears as gloves. Turning to me, his face so close that I can peer into the greasy potholes covering his yellow skin, the bum cocks his right thumb towards Kobi on screen and says:
Now theres a girl who knows about enlightenment.
Unnoticed in a sea of shimmering elegance, Sonny asks me why I think Kobi is always smiling.
The coat, I mutter in bemused disgust.
Uh, yes its very nice Sonny replies, taking it in his mittens and inspecting it closely.
Its vintage mink, is all I can manage and Im thinking, what is happening here? Am I about to die? Where the fuck is security?
Dont be afraid now, the coat is lovelyI would never lie about such a thing. My question, however, was why do you think Kobi is always smiling?
Because she knows shes through the worst now? I mutter whilst I nervously scratch at my forehead and desperately look for an escape.
Sonny, his mouth sticky and blue from the cough syrup, he says:
No, youre wrong. Kobi smiles because she has nothing to cry about. All Kobi has come to rely on is her own ability to survive. All Kobi needs in life to be content is water, food and shelter. Those are things we all have yet we do not smile the same way Kobi does. Why do you think that is my friend?
I dont believe I understand the question, is all I can manage in my feeble state.
Thats because Im not making sense of what you know. You dont need to understand me. Please, just listen. You look at Kobi and see hope in her eyes and in her smile. You see someone who, unlike yourself, still believes in the promise of a good life. You need people like Kobi so you can say to yourself: now theres someone who will benefit from all my hard work and wasted life. Knowing that there are people like Kobi out there suffering while youre wrapped in silk sheets helps you sleep at night. On any rainy day you can raise your body temperature simply by imagining how cold bums like me must be out on the street. But youre wrong.
Sonny places a tiny white pill on the table in front of me. He tells me the pill will taste like battery acid and that it will help open my mind to enlightenment. Sonny tells me:
Drugs are your ascension primer; they will lift your consciousness out of the world of duality and illusion in which you are trapped, and into the beautiful and powerful world of your own high spiritual consciousness.
Now the decision lay with me, take the pill and begin my awakening, or go to the desert bar.
What would you have done?
Say, I wish to move forward.
Say, I wish to awaken.
Theres the sound of splashing water and I become aware that it isnt Sonnys voice I have been hearing, it is my own. Sonny is busy practising his submarine; he dives into the murky depths and emerges some feet away spouting a jet of water from between his front teeth. I am naked and sitting upright in the fountain, repeating the mantras that Sonny has taught me in our brief time together. The fountain is known as the Fountain of Life, Sonny tells me. He says the water in the fountain is centuries old, that you can see the where the grime has stopped climbing the walls at the high-water mark. Sonny tells me to taste the water, that it will taste great. I taste the water, it tastes great. Better than any champagne.
We have become afraid of our own spiritual shadow, Sonny gargles to me.
With frequent spiritual practice, you will release yourself from a limited state of consciousness. You are now part of the collective spiritual awakening.
This is what I have learned in my brief time with Sonny.
Remember, twelve thousand years of living in this twisted dreamworld you call normal reality has messed you up in more ways than one. You need to claw yourself back to full consciousness. Probability theory states that when two forces are at odds one cannot reign forever. Look here, Sonny points to the tattoo on his chest. The tattoo is of a man who has a cone over his head. The cone reaches up and bends into a vortex, the vortex eventually folding outwards to create a sphere around the man.
A prisoner of his own mind, I call him the Fractal Man. He is what you have become. Your fractal mind encapsulates your reality.
I am the Fractal Man, I repeat.
I wish to move forward.
I wish to awaken.
Come now, Sonny says, his upper body protruding from the ancient water like some forgotten god, time to go to your new home.
Sonny takes you to an apartment building in the worst part of town. He says you wont need a key, no thug expects to gain anything from breaking into this place.
Besides, there is no front door.
Your new home, it makes you envious of those refugees in their cosy tugboats. The place is filled with the skeleton of a meth lab and in the dark and hollow holes in the walls nest your only neighbours. Everywhere there is rusted metal to contract tetanus from.
Sonny tells you to leave your family and your job, do not contact them for whatever reason. They are weak and the weak will always need to sabotage the strong. He shows you a small bedside table and tells you in the top drawer you will find your medication and in the bottom drawer is a small object wrapped in a brown paper bag.
Tomorrow you start work, here is the address. Your mission is to enlighten as many people as possible. In the Medication drawer you will find everything you need to begin your ascension. The object in the other drawer is to be used only when you are suitably primed for Awakening. I will tell you when that is. Remember, will the Awakening and keep willing it. Be strong my friend. Namaste, Sonny presses his palms together in front of the Fractal Man and bows to you. Then he leaves you to get settled in.
The job Sonny gets you is in Directory Assistance.
Sonny chose this job because it allows you to speak to as many people a day as possible. Each DA call averages twenty seconds. There are three calls per minute, sixty minutes in an hour and eight hours in a working day, this equates to over one thousand calls. This is merely the call volume for one working agent; the daily volume for the entire centre is well over one hundred thousand calls. You get a couple enlightened people on those phones and you can change the world. Problem is most of the world isnt ready to be roused yet.
A call drops into your station. Maybe its someone looking for a business or some old friend. Sometimes the person youre talking to has phoned simply because they need help and DA is a free call. These are the people you try and save. All the others, you offer them a piece of enlightenment and leave it up to them to decide whether theyre ready to Awaken.
You never know who youre going to talk to until:
What name please?
Paddys Exotic Furs on Fourth thanks. Im in a hurry
One moment please...
You find the listing and as your right thumb hovers over the call-release button you try to think of something Sonny would say. This caller isnt ready for Awakening yet, merely enlightening.
Imagine if you were caught in a hunting trap like one of those foxes in Alaska. Would you chew through your own ankle to escape? Thankyou. You hit the release button before the caller has any time to respond. It may not seem like much but that caller wont ever be able to wear another fur again without picturing an image of their persons limping through clear white snow with black blood running down their lips and a dark red trail leading to their mangled foot. One day they will stop wearing fur altogether and then, if they are lucky, they will meet Sonny.
The place Sonny told you to meet him is an abandoned warehouse where bums meet to party and get high. You have no idea what this place has to do with your Awakening or why Sonny is waiting for you in some bushes across the road. When you reach Sonny, he puts an arm around your shoulders and in a low voice he says:
This is it man, the most important moment in all of your existence. How do you feel?
A little curious as to why were hiding in the cold like this when we could be sitting around a fire with those bums over there. What is this Sonny, another test?
No, no more tests my friendhey, did you bring what is necessary? Pass it here. Sonny takes the package from you and pulls from it something small that fits snug in his hand. After he inspects the object he places it in your hand and youre amazed by the weight of it. A gun will always feel heavier than you imagined because it weighs on your conscience as well as your body. Huddled there in the bushes, a gun in your hand and the prospect of waking from a twelve thousand year sleep pressing on your mind, you start to wonder whether youre ready to be roused yet.
Alright my friend, allow me to explain why youre here. Everyone has some moment in their past which can be called the root of all their suffering. All our sideways views of the world grew from this evil catalyst and we must face it before we can truly Awaken. Four years ago I found my catalysta weak person who attacked me because I was strong. Before that all I could feel was the humiliation and shame that that person caused me. After I exposed them, something incredible overcame meI felt as though I could save the world and thats what I set out to do. For nine months now I have searched for your catalyst, and tonight, mere moments from now, you will face and expose the root of your suffering. You will Awaken.
That is when I see him coming towards us. The bum, track marks running up his arms like a confused ant line, he hasnt changed at all over the years. Every nerve ending in every cortex of my being sprang to life in that moment as memories, once suppressed and hidden, flickered and exploded in my mind.
A dark basement.
Brothers bed still warm from where he slept.
Father drunk and mothers cries for help loudly silenced.
Two shallow graves and the lingering odour of whiskey and blood.
The root of my suffering, the evil catalyst, he walks right up to the bush Sonny and I are in and he starts pissing all over us. The night is so dark now that he has no chance of seeing us. The steam from his urine masks that of our breath. He has no chance at all.
I wish to move forward, and I do.
I stand up and fire three timespop, pop, popand my father, his head is a fountain for a moment and I taste his blood on my lips and it tastes great. Better than any champagne. Father stumbles back making clucking sounds as if hes choking and then he falls limp to the ground. My mind turns over on itself; I am no longer the Fractal Man.
For the first time in twelve thousand years