A fairly fresh copy of the San Diego CityBeat sits open on the bar. Sordid Tales by Ed Decker is pressed on the page. Sickboy sips his cranberry juice, while his his eyes suck up the words so his brain can give them meaning. And the meaning in this case isn’t sitting well with Sickboy.
Eddie has penned another one of his typically witty commentaries, this one regarding Pope Benedict’s recent visit to Yankee Stadium. Sickboy has no opinion of the pontiff and only a mostly indifferent awareness of Decker, but the combination of the two has him fuming at the moment. He starts barking at Sevrin, who’s trying to watch the Padres game and nurse a pint of Yellowtail.
“Normally I like this dude’s stuff,” yelps Sickboy in reference to Decker and his tales. “But this just pisses me off. There’s nothing worse than an overtly and overly intellectual smartass.”
“Tell me about it,” Sevrin snaps back smugly.
Sickboy can be a handful at times, and Sevrin knows a shit storm is about to break as Sickboy initiates a rant that may never end.
“This self-important soapboxing motherfucker thinks he’s so smart! He needs to get his face out of those goddamn books and start seeing the world for what it is. Cutesy intellectual bullshit! Says he wanted to drop a bomb of rational thought on Yankee Stadium…you know, to infuse some common sense into the irrational minds of Benedict the Rock and his flock of 60k. Religion is only good for dividing people, he says…the last bastion of hope for the lazy mind.”
Sevrin halfheartedly interjects.
“What? Now all of a sudden your a crusader for the Catholic cause?”
“No, man. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I dig that. But to hell with contrived morality, doctrine and ceremony. I’m not advocating the Catholics. It just bugs me that guys like Decker think they are so smart, baggin’ on religion and religious folks, when they themselves cling to rational thought with the same irrational enthusiasm as the craziest fuckin’ bible-thumper. It’s stupid! Look, religion and science are one in the same, Sev. They both lead to the same answer. Religion is science with a leap of faith in place of a million meticulous steps. And science is religion with a microscope and PC where there would otherwise be a crucifix and rosary.”
Sevrin is sort of amused but also getting a little freaked out by his currently sober drinking buddy.
“What the fuck, Sickboy?”
Sickboy is a dilettante, a dabbler. And sometimes scattered and incomplete fragments converge in his mind to convince him that he’s got something figured out. Apparently this is one of those times.
“Eeeee equals emcee squared!” Sickboy sings. “It’s been proven. Ever heard of Einstein? The fuckin’ atom bomb? Matter is energy, bro. You and me and all this shit around us…we are all made of the same stuff. We’re made of molecules, which are made of atoms. Do you know that an atom consists of 90 percent empty space? And the other 10 percent, as it it turns out, is energy! Energy with some probability of existing at a given time in a given place. We are energy with some probability of existing! It’s quantum mechanics. Don’t believe me? Well there are some really smart dudes over in Switzerland right now smashing atoms and proving my very point. Matter is energy. We are matter. We matter. We are energy! God is energy. We are God!”
Sickboy pauses for just a second to catch his breath, literally just at a second.
“Religion. Science. Call it whatever you want. They’re just two different modes of travel along the same path and headed toward the same destination. I refuse to ride either one the entire way. I jump on and off as I see fit. Mostly I’m surfing on art all the way to the promised land!”
Sevrin has just about given up.
“Damn, Sickboy! Did you drop a tab or two? Are you shroomin’ right now? You are TRIPPIN’!”
Sickboy IS tripping. But he’s never touched the psychedelics. Nature’s gift to Sickboy, his very own manic mind, is all the impetus he needs at the moment.
“Come on, Sevrin! Feel it? Art! Here’s an example. Maybe a little corny. But you’ll see what I’m talking about. Remember the Pearl Jam concert last month? During the encore you and me and the girls and twenty thousand strangers singing in unison…the chorus to Alive. Tell me you didn’t feel it! That resonance! That unity. It was like the whole crowd was one giant cohesive organism.”
“You sound like half a fag right now, Sickboy, but yeah I know what you mean.”
“That’s right! I know it sounds corny. But through art we can FEEL our oneness. We can experience the unifying sameness of our existence. You got to let go from time to time, bro, and just feel it. Feel the resonance. Feel the energy. The religious man…he has faith and he believes in the energy. The scientific mind tries to deconstruct the energy. The artists and the patrons of the arts…we just FEEL the energy! Read a story, recite a poem, soak in a painting, sing a song. Feel it. Experience the energy. Experience God. Like William Blake wrote, all religions are one and they stem from the Poetic Genius. And I’m not talking about a smart dude who rhymes. I’m talking about the seemingly innate ability of man to conceptualize and create. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. What better way to convey that message than to create a story about a nearly perfect hippie with such capacity for unconditional love that he allows himself to be beaten and crucified! Two thousand years since the story was constructed and just about the whole world knows it. And sixty thousand people packed into Yankee stadium to commemorate it. That is the Poetic Genius at work!”
Sickboy is all over the place, scattered and flailing now. He has lost his audience of one as Sevrin has tuned out. But that doesn’t stop Sickboy.
“Yeah, man. William Blake. To see a world in a grain of sand. Heaven in a wildflower. Infinity in the palm of your hand. Eternity in an hour. A world in a grain of sand! The atom bomb. Matter is energy. God is energy. The Poetic Genius. See! Religion. Science. Art. It all converges and swirls together. There is no right or wrong. Irrational clinging to rational thought makes no more sense than religious fanaticism. Everyone just go listen to some live music with friends and write some fuckin’ poetry. Amen.”
Now Sickboy is exhausted. Off on a manic moonwalk but sober as a boyscout, he orders another cranberry juice.
Chloe obliges. “Look at you Sickboy. What are you huffin’ and puffin’ about?”
Sickboy is too ashamed to recap. But he’s quick on his feet, and he improvises well.
“It’s nothing, Chloe. Sevrin is trying to tell me that the girl at the end of the bar is the hottest chick he’s ever seen in here. I say no way.”
Chloe likes to play along with the boys.
“You mean the chick who ordered the Appletini? She’s really cute. But you say not the cutest, huh Sickboy?”
Chloe smiles and winks a wink that is easy to understand for those in the know. Once again she and Sickboy are playing a little game they call Don’t Say Her Name. Now it’s Sickboy’s turn.
“Not even close, Chloe. Not even close.”