No one is a human being at 3am. Not party till dawn 3am. Tossing and turning, have to get up for work 3am. In the grips of withdrawal from a modicum of sleep you don’t even remember consuming, you drag on your threadbare button-up shirt. Wafts of laundry detergent and gasoline, drift in your stumbling wake as you navigate the pre-dawn obscurity of the house. The washroom lights flash supernovae and like an idiot on a rampage, you stare right into them. You ignore the other bum squinting back at you from the bathroom across the mirror. He’s probably on his way, the poor bastard. Upon the throne, your duties are as follows: button up shirt, pull on socks, poop if you can. Most of your fingers collaborate in the act, though some need a little rough persuasion to straighten them out of the claw. This bender of work needs to end soon.
Down the street, a party-till-dawn-3am guy says hey from a roadside couch. Sure guy, you think. We don’t even exist in the same reality. A truck grinds past, hauling stacks of dead trees, like a roaring dreadlocked giant. You sit under the Dairy Queen lights. Your eyes must have swallowed the red pill without your consent. They’re half empty of burst capillaries. Incorrigible, you cough and keep smoking. A pack a day of California WildFires is a hard habit to kick. The truck pulls up. Late, on time, early, interchangeable with no calculable alteration to no one’s idea of a life.
Backseat, you lean to see the show. Fifty-three curves would lull a crowbar to nausea in the backseat. Trump keeps the whole world and the driver awake.
Watch that turkey there.
Turn down the heat.
Forty-four, forty-nine, fifty-three, co-worker pukes by a tree. Bush road, alders fold the mirrors in. We negotiate waterbars like a tanker on a rough sea. No, a waterbar is not a wishful mirage for a dehydrated desert-pilgrim. We’re the rats scraping together a living on the remains of the multi-billion dollar forestry industry. We’re an afterthought, when we’re lucky. We writhe in the mud, we blister in the sun, we scavenge what we can. So, no, not a water bar. Think ten-foot ditch left behind to save a few bucks and cents on a culvert; to let water-streams flow, unsettle stomachs and buckle fenders. Wikipedia might argue with the details but hey, we’re all friends here.
It’s 4am. One waterbar, six, thirteen, twenty. It’s 5am. Breakfast is cold ramen in a bag, breakfast is a bag of chips. Sub-human at 3am, sub-human at five, you don’t make the rules. The world gathers a few degrees Celsius and chucks them at us. The landscape is a post-apocalyptic scene of smoke and razed earth, it draws us together like homeless to a fire barrel. We laugh at the misery of it all. There is no such thing as too much of a bad thing, you see. Layer up, gas up, gear up, press play. Let another vomit their thoughts into the intimate depths of your ear. Press primer bulb, pull starter rope, adjust choke, pull starter rope, adjust choke, pull starter rope, press gas. The dew is so heavy it might as well have rained. Cold, now drenched, you raise the volume on your podcast. Mute the inner-voices. It hasn’t rained and that’s the whole point. It’s the whole reason you’re here isn’t it?
Fire index is extreme.
Saws start fires.
Wake up at 3am.
For those of you who are just joining us: welcome.
Fire, fire, fireweed’s fluffy pollen is devil-spawn. Snake-eyed, we little big men mow until properly tarred and feathered. Raise the volume on your podcast. Mute the inner-voice. Mute the drunkard delirium that whispers epiphanies of non-sense to your mind.
Oh boy, here we go again.
No, no, listen. Suffering is the jalapeño-chips of existence.
Yes, it is.
No, its not.
Yes it is. Listen. Once you open the bag, you’re trapped.
You think that by adding another chip of suffering, you can momentarily distract yourself from the pain.
But, see, you’re only fanning the flames.
Fresh gasoline, burned gasoline, smoke another California WildFires. Find the little green trees hidden in a sea of green, of thimble-berries, of rhododendron, of alder, of maple, of raspberry. Brush a meter around it. Plant guts in your mouth, plant guts in your eyes. Change hands. Gas up. Sharpen blade. Drink water. Eat chicken fingers. Raise the volume on your podcast. Mute the inner-voices.
Saws off at 1pm. We hit the waterbars 1:30pm. The fifty-three turns 2:30pm. Dairy Queen by 3:30. Despise the ice-cream tourists for openly feeling the emotions you worked so hard to repress. Walk home, vacant roadside couch. Hurt when your wife offers you the love you do not have for yourself. Shower. Soul unknots, unwinds. The day is over 4pm. It never is, but, you know, you pretend.
No one is a human being at 4pm. Not the day is still young 4pm. Eat ice-cream on the couch like a hormonal pregnant lady who cries because no one understands her emotions 4pm. Still smell like gas 4pm. Then, just like that, it’s 7pm. Not sunset walk 7pm. Not do you want to watch a movie 7pm. No. Nothing like that. Eight hours of sleep left and counting 7pm.
This bender of work needs to end soon.