The gates of Psycho Pasture opened after Jim ate the banana, and the whole host of pedophiles was unleashed upon the grand plane of paradise. There were some like Jim and the King, who had suffered innocently in the unlucky crossfire between the devil’s conceit and humanity’s prejudice – but most were pale and greasy and thoroughly guilty. Tens of thousands of child-raping men and women stepped out into the light and were bewildered by it.
Years, decades, centuries spent in the solitude of the prison rendered them impotent against immensity of their new freedom and they sought a leader in the man who freed them.
Jim thought, Well the gays had a parade and that worked pretty good. Not that gays are like pedophiles. Wait, should I even be calling them ‘the gays’? I can never keep track of what people call themselves. Whoever they are, I know they had parades. I think we should try a parade.
The host of pedophiles welcomed the news of the parade, in pretty much the same way they’d have welcomed news of any kind, and they went to work gathering markers and signs and papier-mâché for floats and funny hats and candies to throw. Jim, along with the King and the Khan, did what they could to organize and facilitate.
Everything went smoothly until it came time to pick a slogan. The pedophiles became divided over the tone their movement ought to take and they took their dispute to Jim. They were divided for the most part into three camps: the first thought they ought to apologize and beg forgiveness, the second that they ought to be more brazen and demand equality, and the third and smallest camp was of the opinion that this was all rather silly and why shouldn’t they be ironic about it?
Jim thought for a long time. He didn’t particularly like the idea of forgiving these child-rapists, he liked less their audacity in making demands, and though he tried he couldn’t find the humor in child-rape. He consulted the King and the Khan.
“Freedom is not a thing that can be asked for.” The Khan stroked his beard. “It must be taken. Demand it, and slaughter what opposes you.”
The King was less direct. “I don’t think I would accept their apology, or find any meaning in it – but maybe it’s a start.”
In the end, Jim decided to search out a message that incorporated the opinions of all three camps – a brazen and ironic apology, from the pedophiles to paradise. When he presented his poster to the waiting throng, it contained a single sentence scrawled in bold black marker:
Sorry we fucked your kids, but it’s not our fault that there doesn’t seem to be a God.
When the parade reached Downtown Paradise it caused quite a sensation. Traffic came to a stop, businesses closed down, and the whole population of the city was fixated on the pedophiles that marched brashly through.
At the head of the parade on the float of honor Jim stood with the King and the Khan. Behind them stretched an endless line of more floats and marching bodies and the signs that called for irony and empowerment. The boldest and most prevalent of the signs was an edit of Jim’s original –
Sorry we fucked your kids, but it’s not our fault that God is dead.
This edit was further abridged and became a chant, a chant that started somewhere towards the back of the parade and burbled its way forward until the entire mass uttered in one sonorous voice –
“We fucked your kids and God is dead! We fucked your kids and God is dead! We fucked your kids . . .”
Jim shook his head. He liked less and less his position as their leader as the blocks went by. Not knowing what else to do, he kept his place on the float of honor next to the King and the Kahn and waved a figure-eight wave to the lookers-on. He noticed that while some were quite offended by the display, and others like himself were puzzled by it, the vast majority seemed to view it as just another in a long line of spectacles meant to entertain them until eternity was over. These last clapped and cheered along but never put their hearts into it.
At some point the parade came to a halt and someone put a microphone in Jim’s hand. He noticed then that the city had entered a muffled and cough-ridden silence of anticipation and that all of its eyes were fastened on him.
Jim covered the mic with his hand. “I don’t have a speech,” he whispered to the King.
“Just tell them that you love them.”
“I have seen such eyes before,” said the Khan, surveying the crowd. “Inspire them with the wrath in your heart and the lust in your loins.”
Jim uncovered the mic and cleared his throat into it. After a moment of hesitation he surprised himself, and everyone listening, by speaking clearly and fluently:
“Stretching out behind me – this ridiculous parade snaking through your city – these people are the worst of us. They are the ones whose presence even the devil could not suffer, though she banished Sin and made paradise the seat of all souls. They are total pieces of shit and we denied them eternity because of it.
“But the problem is that they are such total pieces of shit, and we hate them so much, that an individual soul can’t survive the accusation. Innocent or guilty, once we point our finger they are dead to us forever. So there ends up being a decent amount of innocent people that get denied. Me and the King here are two such people.”
Here a great cheer went up that shook the walls of the city. It was for the King, whom all had recognized and feared guilty. News of his innocence brought out the first real emotion of the event and tears of joy fell on dancing feet. A holiday was declared, bars opened, and roofs blown off. And not a few cigar-smoking bankers licked their chops at what it might mean for the economy.
Jim would have gone on with his speech – and was in fact convinced that he had a solution to moral accountability in the absence of an absolute authority – but the innocence of the King was enough. The party had started, and the worst of us got shitfaced with the best.
In the aftermath of the parade and the party a strange thing happened. At least Jim thought it was strange. Rather than being cast out again, or being tolerated under the cloud of stigma, the pedophiles were welcomed in a fever of compassion and innovation. Great minds from every corner of paradise – scientists, philosophers, psychologists, theologians, politicians – they came down from their towers or up from their bungalows to discover a method by which to bring child-rapists back into the fold. As the foremost among the politicians, Abraham Lincoln told the Paradise Press, “Through Solidarity and strength of Will we seek to mend the Minds that Fortune broke. To Hell with Bitterness and Luck; we will find the Better Natures in these Souls.”
Clinics were built and subconsciouses prodded, experiments devised and brains poked at. Descartes put up a tent in City Square and doubted rape for forty days. Thomas Aquinas scoured his own works for the miraculous solution, certain that he’d solved everything long ago. Michael Faraday conjectured that child-rape was associated with an undiscovered particle and re-wrote the Quantum Field Theory to test for it. The Great Holy Church of Awesome on the corner of 6th and Broadway had free brunch for pedophiles from nine to eleven on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The population in general accepted this new attitude, though they of course sent their children to play in the clouds, where they were guarded by angels armed with hatchets and missiles. This circumstance did generate a few misunderstandings, as pedophiles like all people sometimes look vacantly up into the sky and wonder about things. But vigilantes were in all cases shouted down by the tolerant, and the pedophiles walked in relative safety through the streets of the city.
And in a mere twenty-seven days, solidarity provided its solution. It was an unexpected one, and nobody was able to trace the steps that led to its inception. Credit eventually went to Georg Ernst Stahl, the German chemist who wrote the bulk of the original paper. He was unfortunately the last proponent of a dead scientific theory that dealt with phlogistons and thought himself a clever poet, and his instructions were a bit unclear. A brief excerpt from ‘The Dephlogistication of the Soul of the Pedophile’:
With simultaneity administer,
Both orally and rectally, a dose
Of dephlogisticated myrrh, then close
The holes with tape and call a minister!
Incite the man of cloth to righteous grrrrrr,
Who then ought strike the pedophile thrice,
With Bible, boot, and hand; then roll some dice
And Hail to Mary what the pips incur!
The pedophile’s phlogistons hereby
Are weakened in their neurologic bonds,
And like Achilles, who was dipped in bronze,
Betray a mortal flaw, the climax nigh!
There were ninety-four stanzas in George Ernst Stahl’s paper, and the thing was littered with similes, Biblical scholarship, and shoutouts to antiquity. Thankfully some of his colleagues translated it into a few readable paragraphs and this was the version that was circulated:
Put some myrrh in the subject’s mouth and the same amount up his ass. Have an angry priest hit the subject with a Bible (the priest may also hit and kick the subject if he pleases). Roll a pair of dice and say as many Hail Maries. Instruct the subject to doubt his or her existence for fifteen minutes; meanwhile bombard the subject with charm-quarks from a charm-quark gun. Then spin the subject in a chair until the subject is completely disoriented and ask him/her in rapid succession a series of questions that can’t be answered (examples of these found in the appendix). Repeat the doubt and charm-quark step. Now hook the subject up to an MRI, show him/her a picture of a child, and shoot with lasers the flashing bits of brain. Extract the myrrh. . .
As of the date of publication we have no idea why this process works. We only know that it does indeed work, with a success rate of 103% across 1,200 subjects (we accidentally did some of them twice) – and that it probably has nothing to do with phlogistons.
The pedophiles were by this process cured and welcomed back into the folds of paradise.
This all seemed like a good thing to Jim, but he couldn’t shake his own gnawing doubts. It seemed good to have compassion for the worst of us – but their crimes were a matter of record and had an unalterable effect on the course of human events. It seemed good to cure them and welcome them back into the fold – but no cure could retroactively annul the suffering they had already caused. It seemed good to forgive them – but despite heroic efforts Jim wanted to beat the fuck out of each and every one of them, and he regretted eating the banana.
It was altogether too much seeming, in a place that seemed enough already, and Jim ducked quietly out of the city. There seemed to be an entire group of people whom he imagined must number in the millions and from whom nobody had yet heard. He decided to seek them out.
The King and the Khan stopped him at the city’s edge.
“Jim, I thought we were friends! You have to stay for my comeback tour!”
“Who wouldn’t wish to walk the moon with the Khan of Khans?”
Jim looked at each of his friends then out at the plane beyond the city that went everywhere forever. He felt something rise up in him that he’d never felt before, a sense of urgency and purpose.
“There is somewhere I have to go,” he said. “Voices that ought to be heard.”
A strangled pause, and then the King’s giggle turned into the Khan’s raucous laugh.
“Our Jack’s a Turkish mummer! Ha!”
“I’m serious, guys.”
The King lowered his voice. “In a world where things aren’t as they seem . . .”
“Okay, I get it.”
“ . . . where free will is kind of iffy and there is a cure for pedophilia . . .”
“I wasn’t even being that dramatic.”
“. . . where moral accountability hangs in the balance . . .”
“. . . one man sets out on a journey that will change the shape of paradise forever . . .”
“You guys are assholes.”
“Well we owe you a mighty one, Jack, so we’ll play along. Won’t we, King?” The King nodded and the Khan whistled through his teeth and a great black horse trotted out from the shadows of the city and up the avenue. “She’s an Arabian, and truly bred. She’ll take you as far as you need. Further if you let her.”
Jim thanked the Khan and with some help mounted her unsaddled back. The King cut from his scalp a lock of hair and held it out to him. This was kind of weird and Jim didn’t accept it right away.
“For luck,” said the King.
So Jim took the hair, grasped the Arabian mane and put a gentle heel into her flanks. At the edge of earshot he heard the Khan’s bellow on the air –
“Ride out, Jim, and fear no horizon!”
Though he rode out and chased at the horizon, he found that he could never quite reach it, much less do battle with it. He figured that’s why the Khan was the Khan and he was Jim. Nevertheless he rode long and hard, stopping only here for a burger and there for a beer, and after a journey of many months he came to a dirt road that led downwards through rock and dead grass under a gray ceiling of clouds.
The road narrowed until it became a scarcely marked path. The land with the rocks and dead grass rose as the path fell and the sky became darker. The Arabian mare led Jim through the ravine at a slow and wary trot.
A sign, the words burned into rotting wood:
I AM THE WAY TO GO AMONG THE LOST
Jim thought, Well, if this is the place I’m looking for, I guess I found it. And if it’s not the place I’m looking for, then I’m lost and I’m still in the right place. I can’t lose.
He urged the Arabian onward, deeper and deeper until the dark sky was a slit between the walls of rock. Ahead of him on the path he could just make out in the dim light a cloaked and shadowy figure that held a staff and barred the way. Jim rode cautiously up to it.
“You would go among the lost?” A sharp and quick voice that was jarring in the shadows. Jim had expected something raspier.
“For what purpose?”
“Why have you come to the way to go among the lost?”
“Well, um, do you want the whole thing? It’s kind of a long story.”
“If you would go among the lost, I would know your purpose.”
“Well, okay. It, uh – I guess it started when I was in my garage wondering about what they did with psychos up here. Because, you know, I get that everybody gets into paradise now and everybody gets what they want, but some people want to hurt other people, which would make those other people not get what they want, so I was thinking about how they dealt with that. Then I read this brochure . . .”
Jim told the shadowy figure with the staff the entire tale in this fashion. The tour of Psycho Pasture, the failing of the pedophile test and the resulting incarceration, escaping the dungeons with the Khan and the King and the eating of the banana . . .
When he came to the part about the best bacon cheeseburger he’d ever eaten, at a roadside diner a few horizons back, the shadowy figure cut him short.
“You are troubled by the compassion you have given to evil,” the figure said, “and you wish to know if your compassion can be justified. Or perhaps forgiven?”
Jim nodded. “Yeah that sounds fair.”
The figure pulled down the hood of its cloak. The face beneath it was pale, but it wasn’t a ghostly face. The eyes were friendly enough.
“That is a good reason. I will guide you.”
“I thought Hell was in the past, man.”
They had already traveled for several days. The sky was gone and the only light came from the chemical glow of crystalline stalactites. Groans and sometimes screams came echoing out of dark corners and through unseen passageways.
“There is a great deal of suffering here, but it isn’t Hell. Not in any traditional sense.” The cloaked and pale figure prodded the darkness with his staff and spoke as he led the way. Jim followed on foot, astride the Arabian mare. “These souls aren’t here against their will, and no judgments have been made against them. Most of them are victims of evil rather than champions of it. They are drawn here because they hate themselves, and with that hate comes the bitterness of guilt and the sweet release of pain and punishment.”
“Still kind of sounds like Hell.”
“For those that are here – yes, I suppose there is no difference. But they aren’t prisoners here, unless the soul itself can be called a prison. Which perhaps it is . . . But the cold hard fact is that they are free to leave at any time, that despite the most grievous harms the world brought against them in the past, the present is theirs to do with as they will. They may suffer the present’s cruel connection with the past, or celebrate it as a beginning . Every soul here is one simple step away from all the vistas of paradise. Few of them will ever take it.”
Jim chewed on these words through several silent minutes. The path, not quite visible under the glow of the stalactites, turned sharply through a fissure and became steep beside a chasm. In the darkness there was no telling how far the fall would be.
“You took the step. How did you get out of this place?” Jim hoped the question wasn’t too forward, but he had no doubt that his guide’s knowledge came from experience. “What happened to you?”
The pale figure slipped in his footing and Jim caught his arm. Their eyes met. “I betrayed someone that I loved and I couldn’t forgive myself,” the figure said. “We aren’t all victims here. Some of us – we hate ourselves with reason.” Jim saw the relic of that hate flash in the figure’s eyes before he turned and carried on.
“Who did you betray?”
“A good friend.”
“Like, a buddy? You planted yourself in Hell – err, whatever this place is – just because you went behind your buddy’s back? For how long?”
“Two thousand years.”
“Two thousand years?!”
“I betrayed him when he needed me most for a sack of money I never spent. Then I hanged myself from a tree and came to this place and hated myself for two thousand years.”
“Sweet Jesus – you’re Judas.”
“Sweet Jesus I am Judas.”
“Oh, yeah. Sorry about that.”
Judas either didn’t care to accept the apology or didn’t think it necessary. They had come to the bottom of the incline. The path now forked, each prong curving out around a black pool that shivered under the crystalline glow. A sound like the muffled chatter from another room seemed to burble out of it, but the surface was absolutely still. The Arabian mare snorted and backed away.
“This is where the drowning dream,” said Judas. “There is a moment before death when the body knows it will die but the mind indulges itself with a flash of insane hope. For many it was the only hope that life ever gave them, so they come here to live in that moment forever.”
“There’s people down there? Souls? Drowning souls?”
“Take solace in the fact that they are hopeful.”
Jim got as close to the water’s edge as he dared. He couldn’t make out what was an inch beneath the surface much less the depths where the drowning dreamed – but their murmurs had fingers that crawled across his skin.
“Can they be helped?” He backed away from the edge. “I mean, there’s no way I’m going in there, but – I don’t know – is there any way we could fish one out of there?”
Judas nearly smiled. “Sweet Jesus would say yes. But I was never able to get the worm to stay on the hook.”
They went deeper still. A conversation in the close darkness.
“You still haven’t told me how you freed yourself from this place.”
“We are all free down here. We simply never leave.”
“But you left.”
“How did you do it?”
“I would like to say that after millennia of quiet suffering, forbearance, meditation, and self-hate – that something rose up in my soul that I realized with free and bold action. But it would be a lie. There was a catalyst.”
“And what was the catalyst?”
“A man told me a joke.”
“You have to tell it.”
“I’m terrible with jokes. I wouldn’t do it justice.”
“I’ve never told it before. I will screw it up.”
“It’s the joke that got Judas to lighten up after two thousand years in darkness. You really ought to figure out how to tell it.”
“I suppose you’re right.”
“Just go for it.”
“Okay. Mmm-hrrmmm. Achhem. Hmmm. So. I will be the man telling the joke then.”
“That’s a good start.”
“I mean, the man who told it to me, I will say it as him. I will be George and you are Judas.”
“The joke came from some guy named George?”
“Yes. George Carlin.”
“Seven dirty fucks! Are you shitting me?”
“You know him?”
“Carlin is, like, top five all time, man. Easy. Funniest dude ever.”
“Okay. So it goes like this. Hmm-mm. Hey – hey Judas. Hey buddy, so I heard you were down here having kind of a rough time, what with all this Christianity going around. Kind of a raw deal if you ask me. In all fairness, these Christians are really only as stupid as the rest of us – but they built a goddamn shrine to their stupidity! That’s their trick. The dumber the idea, the bigger the shrine. Human sacrifice? GOLDEN CROSS. Virgin mother? MARBLE STATUE. The place where God, the all mysterious all wise and all powerful lord of existence and the universe, goes on Sundays? THE HOLY CHURCH. Enshrined stupidity. And here you are, the only guy in the whole damn book that sees through the bullshit, and you don’t even get a lapel pin. People wear Jesus crosses around their neck, why not Judas nooses on their lapels? It’s because you weren’t fucking dumb enough to enshrine, that’s why. Your actions made sense and obeyed the laws of physics, reason, and accountability. Can’t paint that shit gold.”
“I told you I wouldn’t tell it right.”
“No. It’s good. I mean, his HBO stuff is better.”
“You had to be there.”
They came at last to a door through which the darkness was absolute. To demonstrate it Judas dipped his staff across the threshold and the blackness swallowed it up.
“In there is one of the voices you would hear. I don’t know her whole story, but she was raped and tortured by many men. They lit her on fire in the end, then buried her body in cement.”
Jim sucked in a breath and pushed it out. “You’re not coming with me?”
“I’m not coming with you.”
“I don’t know any jokes.”
“Then don’t tell any. Say something that is in your heart. Or don’t say anything at all.”
Judas pulled a gold coin from his pocket. It glowed with unnatural light.
“Take this with you. It’s the last of the blood coins, and I’m glad to be rid of it.”
“Whoa . . .” Jim took the coin. “Does it glow because it’s accursed?”
“No. I put some glow-in-the-dark stuff on it.”
“Oh yeah, I can smell it.”
“It will help.”
“What should I say though?”
“If I knew I would have said it to her already.”
“Okay, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to ride in there. I’m going to ride in there on the dark horse of Khan, and in the glow-in-the-dark light of the Judas blood coin I’ll present her with the lock of the King’s hair. And I’ll say – I’ll say, uh . . . There’s no justice in this world, but at least there’s love – and we can do a lot with love. For example, I bring as a gift some of Michael Jackson’s hair.”
“Just – start with hello.”
“Yeah I guess that’s kind of heavy, huh.”
“Build your way up to it.”
Jim mounted the dark Arabian and held out the glow-in-the-dark blood coin in one hand and clutched the lock of hair in the other. He rode into the darkness.
The strange light of the blood coin brushed against the walls and the ceiling and the floor, but it brought back no information. The darkness was too complete. Jim only knew that it was very small in here and that he wasn’t alone.
She sat with her legs crossed in the center of the darkness. Long dark hair obscured her face. A book written in the gravelly language of brail lay open before her, which she read in silence with her fingers. Her only reaction to Jim was to turn her head so that she faced him, though her face remained obscured. She didn’t speak. Her fingers moved across the page.
Jim had expected something more graphic and less piteous. He cleared his throat.
She didn’t speak.
Her fingers moved.
“I came here to – I’ve come to you because – You see, the world is – aahhh . . .” The sigh betrayed him and he abandoned every pretense. “I don’t have any idea why either of us are here and I suddenly feel really stupid up on this horse. Can I come sit by you?”
Her head give a single nod. Jim got down off of his horse and sat beside her.
“What are you reading?”
“I know why you’re here.” Softly, but more than a whisper.
“You’re here to rescue me.”
“Yeah, I guess that had crossed my mind.”
“You’re here to tell me that happiness is a choice.”
“Well, it seems that way. Or it did a few minutes ago.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“I didn’t choose birth. I didn’t choose life. I didn’t choose rape, torture, or murder. I didn’t choose eternity. I didn’t choose this conversation. I am exactly where the world put me, the sum of the things it’s done to me. The world is too full of itself for there to be any room for choice.”
“Well, yeah, but you could still walk out of here if you wanted to.”
“If I did, it would be the world that moved me.”
“I’m the world.”
“No you’re not.”
“I am too.”
“The world is everything.”
“Well you can’t just sit here because of everything.”
“Because it wasn’t everything that raped you. It was just a couple of fucking assholes!”
Jim yelled the last, and the sound of it was unwelcome in the smallness and the dark. Neither him nor the girl spoke or moved for quite some time. As they shared the silence Jim looked closer at her in the strange light of the blood coin, traced her small arms under the tunic she wore and noticed the bony knees that protruded through her dress. Her face remained hidden behind her hair.
“Can I see your face?”
The question left his mouth before it made the full circuit of his brain and he was about to regret asking it – but she raised her hand to her face and brushed her long dark hair aside. A deep sadness lay buried there, deep enough that it was nearly hopelessness. Her suffering couldn’t hide her youth or her prettiness, though. She might have even been beautiful if she’d had any eyes.
It was only then that he saw what lay next to her, two egg-shaped and veiny globs in a silver ash tray.
“You took out your eyes.”
“They were itchy.”
“Oh . . .”
“There’s something beautiful in this book. When I figure out what it is I want to look at the world with new ones.”
“So – you do want to leave this place. Someday.”
She didn’t answer right away and Jim was afraid she never would. Then she said, “Yes.”
“Would you read it to me? The book?”
The shadow of a smile. Without marking her place, a place she had apparently been many times before, she flipped the gravelly brail pages to the beginning and read –
“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad . . .”
The reading lasted for a long time but not nearly long enough. She only paused when her voice broke beneath emotion and Jim never said a word. When the tale ended it ended just barely, and Jim realized that the blood coin was no longer glowing. He was unbothered by the darkness.
Before he left he lay the lock of the King’s hair in her hand.
“Maybe hold on to this for a while. Like a symbol or something, for whatever you want it to be. I know it’s just more of the world – but maybe it’s something else, too.”
The climb out of the way to go among the lost was swifter than the descent. Jim stood with Judas on a hilltop where the gray land began to mingle with sunshine.
“That was less cathartic than I’d have liked it to be,” Jim said.
“You thought you could save her.” Judas pointed with his staff towards the sunshine. “You thought saving her could justify all of this. You aren’t the first to think so.”
“She’s got to figure through it herself.”
The betrayer nodded.
Then far away at the edge of the horizon colorful lights began to pulse. Lasers cut through the sky, strobe lights pulsed, sparks shot up and fell like parachuting candles. In the wake of sight came traveling on the air the savage baseline of Thriller, mellowed by the unknowable distance.
ba-dow ba dum-bum bow – bow – ba-dow ba dum-bum bow – bow –
“You really think you ever had a choice in any of it?” Jim noticed his foot tapping unconsciously to the beat and forced it to stop. “I mean all of it. The whole thing. From where you got born, the people you met, the ideas that got planted in your head. You, me, everyone else – it seems like we all just get kicked around for a while and then we’re dead. And everyone who’s still alive has to make up some bullshit context for it, because if they don’t . . .” His foot had ceased to move but now his hand tapped in rhythm to the music. He clenched it into a fist. “If you don’t have your neat little box that you can fit the world into, then it’s all just flopping around out there. You end up with a bunch of senseless collisions, a bunch of conflicting interests that play out randomly and that nobody’s accountable for.” His other hand started tapping and he stuffed it into his pocket. “You didn’t choose the desert, I didn’t choose paradise, she sure as hell didn’t choose rape torture and murder. If we can’t choose what choices we make, how can we say there’s choices at all? Maybe she’s the only one making choices by not making any.” But now his head began to bop and the bopping was beyond his control. “Ahh fuck it.”
He began to dance and the betrayer danced with him. They moved in time with the music that came from where the sun was shining.
“At least this King of yours is back.” Judas shimmied.
“Yeah, I guess that’s something.” Jim kicked a leg, swiveled and stamped. “I don’t like dancing though.”
“So stop dancing.”
“It’s a compelling beat.”
They danced until the song faded out. Jim was breathing hard and sweating and Judas had to sit down. The lights at the edge of the horizon cooled, and whatever ballad they transitioned to couldn’t carry so far as Thriller. The air became still.
“There’s only – only one choice I can think of – that I can make,” Jim panted. “It’s not even that I want to make it – but at least it’s mine.”
“I don’t think choosing the choice you don’t want to choose is much of a choice.”
“I don’t care.”
“What is it?”
“I’m not gonna be in these stupid fuckin stories anymore.”
Book of Jim (amazon link)