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Authors: Jarod Powell

Tags: #meth addiction, #rural missouri, #rural culture, #visionary and metaphysical fiction, #mental illness and depression

Boys in Gilded Cages

BOOK: Boys in Gilded Cages
7.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




A subsidiary of Discursive Media

Portions of this book
previously appeared in a slightly different form in
Inhertiance: And Other Stories,
published by Outskirts Press.

This novel is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the
product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is
entirely coincidental.

Cover Design by Jericho
Elijah Phire

Copyright © 2014 Jarod
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of
November 2014
eBook edition

Other Books by Jarod

Inheritance and Other Stories

Poor Man’s Imaginary Friend

For Jericho


In the dumbness of night, I have visions you
would refuse to understand.

In the night, most normal people choose to
stifle the process of inward contemplation with sleep.

It is possible for inward contemplation to
transform into theater, if you’re willing to stay awake to see it,
and if you’re willing to work for it. Dummies come out at

Sleep feels good. It allows you to turn to
plastic for a few hours. The compartments of your brain meld
together. Then the REM’s wet your eyes, all the way to the core.
The natural lumps of the body are hidden, sealed, sterilized, dolly
smooth. Nothing leaves or enters your mouth or genitals, or at
least you’re unaware of nocturnal emissions or drool or if you piss
the sheets. But nothing can enter -- the sheets build an illusion
that tells you this.

In reality, anyone can enter your room and
do whatever they wish with your body. The sheets themselves seem
almost like pagan superstition, like throwing salt over your
shoulder. As thrown salt creates nothing but a fine mess, bed
sheets serve nothing outside the guise of keeping you warm.

Have you ever woken in the middle of the
night and gazed at your sleeping partner, buried in lush sheets?
They’re covered in stagnant sweat. They aren’t really plastic, and
they aren’t really dead. But the false security of a body shielded
by fabric, is powerful enough to stop time for eight hours a night.

And my bed is bare. I’m not kidding; there
is nothing on it. My bed sheets lay folded neatly in my closet with
a ratty hunk of a comforter on top.

It’s held neatly together by a carton of
cigarettes on one side and the Buddha statue I inherited from my
dead cousin on the other—an ideal set of bookends, should I ever
decide to buy any books.

My bed is bare because I do
not enjoy sleep. In fact I despise and resist it. Those kids that
go around bragging about never sleeping: “Dude, I haven’t slept in
like such-and-such days!”--It’s as if they are saying,
Hey, I am tough. I study hard, I party hard, I
fuck hard; I am hard.
It’s projection, an
artificial identity meant to add callousness to the sensitive
child’s skin, without doing any of the labor it takes.

I only sleep when my body requires me to.
When my heart rate responds wildly to nothing and my eyes start to
cross, I know it is time. I have failed to heed those signs before,
and I started talking to my brother, who is of course dead, and to
friends from school like Daryl, who is only a vision and not
physically present in my room. I know a hallucination when I see
one, but only in hindsight. At the time, these friends and lovers
are real.

In general, I am not so far gone that I do
not recognize when visions are mere visions, but it is a special
kind of buzz to blur the line between hallucination and regular REM

I would not be honest with you to say that
in this daily war against sleep, I am never relieved to surrender.
To give in to sleep at the crucial last minute before brain damage,
makes me feel as if I have earned it. A willful insomniac hardly
cares about brain damage or the future, only principle, and my
principle is that sleep is a waste of our precious time on Earth.
Staying awake does not indicate a self-absorbed attitude. In fact,
it is a virtuous act.

As the Sun goes down I prepare myself with
whatever goodies I bought from Daryl McAdams, my friend and
supplier and other brother.

Smoking it is a sort of preparation for
battle, and it feels like hard training. The act can be

It has a dead body stench and it burns like
fire going down. The stench and pain are striking and it excites me
to think about. I turn on my ceiling fan and open my window. I put
my box fan in there and stuff the surrounding space with my

Though nothing can mask the smell of it
completely, I sit in front of the window fan and blow the smoke
into a paper towel roll with a filter of fabric softener sheets. I
later blame the smell on gas when my mother asks.

She knows. All she has to do is ask.

The drug takes a minute or two to take over.
Sometimes less.

It is a crude rush of euphoria. There is
nothing clean about it. My brain clunks around in my head and I
must remember not to scratch because there is nothing actually on
my skin. I usually do a pretty good job of it because a good
complexion is important to hiding something that, in a town of meth
heads, is so easily brought into the light.

Daryl says that when I am geared up, I am a
soothsayer, as if I belong around a campfire telling the stories I
like to tell about people we know. He’s joking though. I tend to
believe it.

I bought Tarot cards a long time ago. I
don’t know if they work, but I know I don’t need them. I tell your
future, because even a dummy knows that there is no such thing as a
happy ending.

My visions aren’t anything special. They’re
nothing you couldn’t conjure if you tried. But you dummies need
people like me—weirdoes, druggies, lost causes, to prophesize
things that are clearly in front of you. That’s what religion is
all about. But this is free of charge. Just listen.

I know that by the end of
the year, the trees will be naked and houses will be crushed.
Wal-Mart parking lots will be empty for the first and last time.
There will be a lot of dead teenagers. In the next few years,
Missouri will be a less lame version of
The Hunger Games.
I know this. The
town’s people can’t say I didn’t warn them. They laugh at me and
they doubt me, and forgive me but they deserve to die for being so

This town is a scale model of the earth.
There are people that control. There are people who do what they
are told. There are people who are slowly poisoned, and their
brains drained so much, that if they knew they wouldn’t care. There
are mouthpieces that follow the program closer than anybody else,
and then there is me, the town’s resident troubled youth meth
monster, who is made crazy by being awake.

Avoiding romantic fantasy, I sculpt worlds
that do not end well. Without exception, the empires I build and
the people that inhabit them perish, no more spectacularly than in
real life. When the endings to my stories illicit laughs, it is
because the familiarity of them make the audience uncomfortable and
the ending kills them off. Laughing is a comfort, the same way that
success is said to be the best revenge. Take away a person’s
success, and suicide becomes the only option for a great many

I write down everything. I hand-write what
feels right, and I type what is important. Written record is a
powerful, extremely versatile tool. I once slipped one of my
stories into a girl’s locker. She had a hot body, but an ass face.
She was enough.

I was in shallow lust with her, nothing
more, and she seemed to have deep contempt for me. Anger will make
horniness harsher, and it got to the point that I decided, evidence
be damned, that I would fuck this girl, she would want to be
fucked, and that this was the only way to start the process.

In the story, her eating disorder (which was
in the form of a teenage witch named Paraclyn who cast a spell on
her), caused her to lose her beauty—her hair, her teeth, her
skin—deteriorated beyond repair. In her new, ugly incarnation, she
was forced to confront the boy who had been pursuing her for so
long. It would be up to him whether she gained back her old life,
or would spend the rest of her days as a concubine for the boy.

It did not take long for the story to be
traced back to me, as my status as a weird kid left few other
culprits to consider. The school security guard escorted this girl
for the rest of the day until I promised to see the counselor when
I got back from suspension.

From that point on, the stories became
literal and private. I keep them in my Tweak Book and they’ll be
put in a time capsule when I turn eighteen. I’m not joking.

The two parts of the book that really count
are the words and the worlds behind the words. While the Mayan
calendar mapped the world to its end, the Eric calendar maps the
town to its end. Unlike the Mayan calendar, The Eric Calendar will
not fail.

Hawthorn, Missouri is on the New Madrid
Fault Line, has a climate prone to tornadoes, and enough meth labs
to equal a nuclear blast should half of them explode at once. So
it’s really not a matter of predicting when it ends, it’s telling
the story of how it could end. Doesn’t take a soothsayer to figure
out that Hawthorn is on the brink of destruction, but it takes a
total retard to overlook it. I’m pretty much the only one in town
who sees it.

So, duh, the death of Hawthorn is going to
come and I won’t be sad but I did warn everyone, so fuck them for
thinking I was crazy. May their blood run backwards until they are

I will do my best to describe what I mean to
describe, but not everyone will get me.

If you are a happy person, don’t read any
further than this.

If you can’t differentiate between heroes
and villains, don’t read any further than this.

If you’re dumb, none of this will make sense
to you.

But these are all people you know. So it’s
up to you. Are you ready for the truth?



She used to sleep while awake, and
passionately fantasized while she slept, dreaming of a boy. This
boy didn’t exist and probably still doesn’t, but allow me to
explain him.

He came to her only when
she needed him. When she cried over the diet her mother forced on
her, the boy came through sheer blinds and mood lighting as if from
nowhere, to touch her cheek and tell her that, no, she wasn’t fat,
s in the
neighborhood, did she know what those chasmas did to stay skinny?
They choke themselves and that diet is for satas with no gag reflex
and even less discipline. Marcia’s body was beautiful. He
understood. He understood everything.

He’d kick the faggots’
asses, they were always in the hallway talking nasty trash:
Hey Marcia, put your enchilada on this right
El Gordo!
He’d tear their heads off. He’d embarrass the crunchy slags
that snicker about her like she don’t know what they’re doing, and
he could shut her mother up about her weight, with just a piercing

And he was not only
superstrong and superbrilliant, he was super
Strands of his DNA, if you
could picture such a thing, were gold-plated. If you were to look
at his cells under a microscope, they’d be sparkly little blobs. He
was not a mortal completely but some kind of kin of the Archangel,
but instead of visiting death, he’d heal people of their ugliness,
of their illness; everyone was beautiful in his

And, yes, if someone needed to die, they
would die because some people are not capable of love or of
optimism or to stand up for themselves in their lives and would
prefer death, and also would benefit from it. This boy could do
anything to anyone and it would be the correct decision because he
has God’s blood running through his veins. And being related to God
in this way, he could read what’s on your mind and tell how far
down your rot goes. Some people are rotten all the way down to the
core and this recognition would not go unnoticed, and does not by
her, but in his slice of infinite wisdom, this would not embitter
her dream boy.

His tongue would be strong as shoe leather,
but sweet like bubblegum because he only chewed the flavor she
liked and brushed his teeth regularly. Skin paper-white, so when he
was on top of her, she’d look like the roast beef, he the
Wonderbread. His body didn’t have any particular shape or tone,
maybe because she don’t care about that, but his brain was

BOOK: Boys in Gilded Cages
7.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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