Monday, November 10, 2008

A murderous planet pt 5

I ate it on the corner outside the bakery musing over Moussa's information. The wind blew gently, tossing the newspaper along the deserted roads. The roads had been empty for a long time after the gas hikes. My old man used to tell me about days when gasoline was only 30 cents a gallon. When he was in the military and the price rose up to 50 cents a gallon, the lieutenants went ape shit. His particular section wasn't cut back but others were, the sections got smaller and jobs were displaced. Since graduating high school gasoline had jumped 300%, a few years after that when the recession really started to settle in gasoline rose in cost by 200%. Despite endless promises politicians couldn't lower the prices, the market had too much demand and not enough supply. The gas hikes and the bursting of the credit bubble had sunk the US economy. In just two years the US economic hegemony slipped away, quickly being replaced by contesting markets from asia (specifically china) and western europe (the united nations).

The lack of vehicles made being a pedestrian much more popular. Those of us with panache became thug flaneurs on the streets. No one walked without a little bit of gear on them; knuckles, a short knife. The poverty of the economy was highlighted by an increase in urban violence.

My eyes scanned the sidewalks, watching the shifting movements of the bums, and occasional pedestrian. Having time to kill til attempting to interview Blackwell I went west towards the water. The bay was grey and dirty with endless pollution caused by industrialization and the unfettered growth of capital. I lit a cigarette and pulled my coat tighter around my body, cursing the weather, with global warming I should be warm.

I got to the Berkeley marina around sunset. I walked to the edge of the water and looked north west across the bay into the city of San Francisco. The golden gate bridge stretched across the water, still in good repair due to the financial interests of the wealth in Marin County which lay north of the city. The urge to have a cigarette came over me and my hand went to my lighter when the voice behind me called out behind me. My body instantly whipped around. Joe stood behind me and a little further down from the edge of the water. Joe was one of the servers at Jupiter. He looked at me with his slightly bearded face, and shaved head. He was smoking a cigarette as well and slowly inhaled.

"What are you doing," he asked me.

"Looking out into the water. In the daylight you can see sectors of the a city that are to some extent decipherable."

Joe laughed and continued to smoke.

"Do you have a lighter," I asked. He handed me his lighter and I lit my cigarette. I handed him his lighter back which he slipped into his pocket.

"I still can't figure out why I ever moved here. Now I don't know where I should go," his voice trailed off as he inhaled another drag. He blew out a slow cloud of smoke that dissipated into the air. "You hear about Mike?"

"Something happened to him," I said.


"If I knew anything I'd probably keep it to myself, don't want the screws coming down for any reason."

"His body washed up not too far from here today. His head was blown off. I went to the morgue with his wife to identify the mess. Police said that it was drug related. You ever know Mike to do any drugs."

I shook my head.

"Me neither. Death is a haunting thing. Mike was always anti-social but we were friends. We lived together for a while back when things were different. You have any people die on you yet?"

My shoulders shrugged themselves while I looked at my coworker. I focused on his clothing which was worn and then at the black leather gloves he was wearing. The gloves were new. I wanted to take the glove, to weigh it and calculate how much it weighed in comparison to my own torn cotton scraps.

"I've had people die on me. Who hasn't? Everyone is dying, dropping off likes flies. Nothing stays the same. The world changes more rapidly every day; and day after day we produce it. We produce the bodies, the greed, the scum in the water. Everything. Fuck. When are things going to change." Joe threw his cigarette onto the pavement and stamped on it. He snatched another cigarette from his pocket and lit it up. He calmed after the first inhale. His chest rose and fell at a slower more even pace. "The things that the city tries to patch things up are just band aids over fractured lives. It bugs me that Mike is dead. That his body just washed up here. Fucking drugs!? No fucking way. This shit reeks."

"You ever hear of the Weltschmerz, Joe?" Joe shook his head and I continued. "Its pyschological pain caused by the realization that your personal weaknesses are exposed to be part of the cruelty of the world. If you stay out here much longer you might see more bodies wash up. Thanks for the light." I walked home.

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