-----------------------------------------On The Other Side: The Adventures Of Ustream-Bot
Back in the turn of the century, approximately around December, Ulysses and I used to hang out all the time. We would drink together, Sprite usually. I noticed that the same kid would drive by always on the same bike. Left foot moved first, followed immediately by the right. The birds chirped in a rather annoying and unpleasant manner.
Back during the Vietnam War; he said he'd never seen so many bloody children in his life. Not even in the movies. Not even in the movies... And yet, over there, bodies lay like decayed logs, with moss growing on the side and small insects crawling on the other side.
"Back in 'Nam,'" he would say. "I killed women and children. They don't prepare you for this in the army. They just don't. How can they? They just can't. But you just gotta. Those damn Commies. If you didn't get them first... They would get you."
I used to listen intently. I watched him as he lifted the glass; pools of water forming around the base, gripping onto the base of the glass, holding on with reckless abandon, as if they had no other concerns. They didn't. But he did. Just by looking. His eyes; you could see. You could see everything. The fire, the gas, the blood. Bullets flying everywhere, penetrating the air, piercing the flesh, never to be seen again. He sighed with a sort of anxiety, but you could see he wasn't anxious. He was always waiting, waiting for the next thing to happen, but then, Reagan ended the Cold War, and the next thing never came. How could it? He never had a chance.
The bartender glanced in our direction and inquired if another drink would be preferred. He shook his head, not because he didn't want one, but because he... He could see the children staring back in the glass, with their unfulfilled eyes, full of hopelessness and despair. They floated around aimlessly in his drinks, popping every once in a while, rising to the top if they were at the bottom. Others remained in place, preferring to be stationary. They didn't see the point of moving because they couldn't. Not anymore, and he knew, oh he knew, but he couldn't face them. Not now.
The next day, I saw the same kid, on the same bike, pedaling with the same, rhythmic motion. Everything was always the same, but at the same time, it was different, at least compared to before. The times were changing; his grey hairs were proof. He refused to believe the proof, however. It wasn't enough for him. That time lost, over there, on the other side. They lost time too, don't get me wrong, but he had to live with his lost time. He stared back at me as I entered the bar, his glasses reflecting nothing but light. He turned back, but not toward the drink. He lifted the glass and closed his eyes, and down the drink went, bitter and cold, with the ice holding fast to the base. It refused to surrender itself to the force of gravity. I couldn't, however. I had to bear it. He evidently had to as well, but he hid it better. It was like it didn't even matter to him, at least, I think it didn't. One couldn't be too sure these days. Men in suits hid everywhere. You could turn your head and see them peering from around the corner. Their suits were black, and their victims were already dead. He set the glass down, this time it was slightly to the left. A new circle formed, but this time, the volume of the water was significantly lower. The light hanging above vibrated slightly. Soft music played in the background.
"You know," he said. "I used to be somebody, over there on the other side. Me and my buddies, though metal shells were everywhere, we were doing something. Something meaningful. But now..."
He trailed off, then cleared his throat.
"I don't know what's going to happen to me, kid. Who knows, maybe tomorrow..."
Tomorrow was his birthday. He didn't know that, I did, though. I thought it would be better for him if I didn't mention it, though. Maybe he did know. Maybe he just didn't feel it was worth it. He stared blankly at the desk. He could see his shadow, moving its left arm as he did. The right arm remained motionless. A fly landed on the counter and frittered about. He picked up the glass and held it above the fly, lowering it slowly, until he stopped entirely. I knew why he stopped. He saw the face of one of them on the fly, shrieking with fear. He moved the cup back and just held it in the air, unmoving, and yet, much like the ice, melting.
"You know, son," he said, his back still faced toward me, "you remind me of someone. How often you come here, boy?"
I didn't respond.
"Doesn't matter anyway. Wouldn't want to find out you're a drunk at your age."
I wasn't, but I came anyways. Something compelled me to go, so I went. The record stopped, and the device pulled another disc from the set. Dream On was the record pulled, and it began to emanate from the speakers. Those outdated speakers, a nice, quaint touch, but a rather unnecessary one. A man in the corner started coughing, and I thought I saw blood come out of his mouth. It was just tomato soup.
I walked up to the counter, and sat down. He acted as if he didn't notice. I didn't mind, however.
"Times like these," he began, "are ones long gone. Life is long, enjoy it while you can't."
Those words struck me as odd, but I said nothing.
"Too long. Too long. At least, mine is."
A brief pause went here.
"Have I ever done anything worth mentioning," he said as he rejected taking another sip. "It seems as if all my life, I've just been here. Everyday, the same routine. Nothing seems to change, they do, though. The times go backwards. Only in times of crisis, like back then, do they move forward."
He exhaled, breathing in everything shortly after.
"I had a gun too you know. It could kill real quick. I didn't know, though. No one did. They never told us. We weren't informed. We never used them before. And how could we have? We were only children at the time. Kids with guns. That's all we were, to them, and ourselves."
He paused. It seemed as if he was near tears, but he held them back, held back the tragedy, but it held him back at the same time.
"Everyday, dozens of them fell, one after another, and we had to watch it... because we were the ones doing it. You should have seen it. The tin canisters shook in my hands. I could barely hold them. My aim was terrible," he chuckled to himself, but it was clearly forced.
Last edited by Fievel on Sat May 08, 2010 7:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.