God Damn the Sun

by Jim Knipfel

Aw, fuck it. Who am I kidding? Who even reads this goddamn thing anymore? Lawyers? Businessmen? None of you could ever have the slightest idea what I've been talking about. I hate you all. Goddamn you to hell--I hate you all.

Everything around me now is black and foul and wretched. It's possible to live without friends, without art, without beauty, without happiness--but it is utterly impossible to live without pain and misery. That much I can see clearly now that it's about done--my work here, that is.

Nothing's clicking anymore. Maybe it makes sense. Maybe all that needs to be said's been said. Because there are very few opinions in the world that need speaking. The rest are just useless fluff--fecal winds blowing up and down the streets, clogging my eyes and my nose, keeping me from getting someplace I never wanted to go in the first place.

I've always said that I wasn't constructed to stay put anywhere too long (including this noxious excuse for a planet). And I've also always said that I never really had anything to say. Once I started saying it, though, a few ideas popped up like boils. Very few. And once that happened, I decided that all I had to do was keep on saying them over and over, distilling them down, scraping the excess away until they were perfect. And someplace out there--a word here, a phrase there--it exists in perfect form.

Nothing really works out for me the way it does for other people. I never decided in the womb that I wanted to be a writer. I just wanted to be a burden on society. I never wrote for my high school newspaper (except for one drunken, speed-toked letter to the editor about what I don't exactly remember anymore. All I remember was that it got me a job writing an investigative series on alcoholism--and I was fired after the first segment ran--I came out in favor of it). And I never wrote for any college magazines or newspapers (except for another drunken, speed-toked letter to the editor about what, again, I don't exactly remember. All I know is that it got my phone tapped for me).

In grad school I wrote drunken seminar papers about self-mutilation, crime, Disneyland and Amputee Times. And after leading a discussion on the Mentors and Elvis (complete with visual aids), someone suggested that I might want to move away from Minneapolis.

So I did. I didn't much care what I did, or where I went, so long as they had liquor stores within walking distance. I had no romantic notions about "drifting" or "writing" or any such nonsense. I just wanted to be someplace where people would leave me alone to drink and jack-off, where I might be able to get some crystal meth if I wanted it, where I could wander hackneyed and hipless, read my newspapers, spit on strangers, die in peace. I had no real plans.

So I ended up in Philly, crystal meth capital of the world, with a liquor store around the corner and a woman I didn't particularly care for at the time, broke, tired, trying to stay drunk. And my first week there I picked up the City Paper and the Welcomat, just for something to pass the day away. And as I read through both of them, I thought to myself, "Christ, whatta buncha shit! Hell, I could do better than this!"

So that afternoon I slapped something off my ill-gotten blue plastic typewriter and dumped it in the mail to both papers. A week later, I called the City Paper, looking as it did like a slicker operation (which meant they might pay more). The editor got on the phone and started berating me.

"You know, I really don't appreciate the attitude you take towards schizophrenics, and I doubt our readers would either."

"Well, I was just writing truthfully, I guess. I don't care much what people think." I told her, bored, hearing exactly what I thought I would hear.

"Well, that's your problem. You know, I have a long history of schizophrenia in my family--"

"That doesn't exactly surprise me."

"--and what you had to say was terribly insensitive to their plight."

"What insensitive? I just said that I enjoyed their company more than the company of normal people."

"It's just cruel."

I hung up the phone and scratched my ass, reached for my glass, not really caring much, realizing that the City Paper was the same goddamned "alternative" paper I'd seen in every city I'd ever visited, chock-full of the same graphics, same stories, same mindset, same big gaping sloppy cunt of nothingness. Fuck 'em (and fuck you again, by the way).

Just for fun, I called up the Welcomat, now having some idea what to expect, ready to torment whoever might try to tell me I was a terrible person. But things turned out differently.

So no, I never wanted to be a "Writer," really. And I sure as hell didn't want to spend any time around other people who claimed to be doing the same thing. If they tried to talk to me about what I was doing, or what they wanted to do, you know, with "words, man," I usually told them to shut the hell up. People who spend too much time talking about "writing" are like people who spend too much time talking about fucking: it's a sure sign that they aren't doing it nearly as well or as often as they think they are.

And I think it's fair to say that I've beat them all. At least in this town. I've played out my string. The red raw promise was nothing. A few free drunks, a fight or two, little of the merciful poon people told me I'd get (no big loss--a few tried but decided before too long that I really did mean everything I'd written and had no intention of changing for them). Oh, it's all so rancid and preposterous.

Last night, a thousand last nights, Laura was in wrecking-ball stage, convinced that nothing was working and that nothing would ever work.

"Things are just spiraling down forever into nothing," she told me, as I hungrily eyed the Black Jack bottle in her hand, waiting for her to pass it back my way.

"Oh, things aren't that bad," I told her. "Just think! We could die soon!"

"Oh you--you're just an eternal optimist." She spit out the word "optimist" the way most people used to spit out the word "communist" or "cripple" or "faggot."

So here I'm left, the cigarette ash lingering like the dry, grey excretion of my nerves, little more than a tired, wasted old man, no longer even a shade of what he used to be, standing at the top of the stairs, screaming down to no one at all, "Don't worry about me, Geddes! Don't worry about me!! I'M CHARLES FOSTER KAAANE!!"

But I'll wake up again in this room tomorrow, ready for nothing, prepared for nothing again. I've got no job, I've got no money, I've got no hope, no love, no smile for the Brooklyn street outside. What more could I want?

Copyright Jim Knipfel. Published originally in the Welcomat. Illustration by Russell Christian. All rights reserved.

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