Brain Junk

It was a San Francisco party, so it was on a roof. Below, the street was going to sleep, while up here with us, music was playing, people were mingling, and liquor was being poured generously. It was an entertainment crowd, so some interesting characters, no doubt, but mostly same old, same old executives, writers, dancers, and homosexuals.

But one guy got my attention. He looked like a regular meth head. An old young man. Sinewy and covered in tats, very, very skinny. Dead eyes, set on one thing only and uncaring when satisfied. A junkie.

Except different. He was sitting, holding a piece of paper and staring at it intently. I was able to make out mathematical formulas scribbled in blue ink. He piqued my curiosity. “Excuse me. Hi, I’m Nate.”

“Hi, Nate. I’m Nate too,” he said, looking up from the piece of paper. His face looked like a crumpled up old newspaper or a paper napkin, but his eyes came alive as he greeted me.

“Is it one of those things where you are me from the future, or some shit like that?” I inquired. I was a bold fuck back then. Really self-confident and smug.

“No, nothing like that, man.”

“Good. I was just curious about the maths,” I pointed at the paper.

“Oh, this? Yeah, it’s brain junk.”

“Wow, I never heard of it,” I said.

“It’s really simple, see? I don’t buy the shit they sell on the streets, I metabolize my own. I use these equations to get the brain going. It takes a little bit, but eventually there is enough in my blood to give me satisfaction,” he smiled, showing a set of rotting teeth.

“That’s quite a trick, old buddy,” I said, rather nonchalantly, “But aren’t you afraid you will overdo it? Too much of a good thing is bad too, as they say.”

“No danger of that. When my satisfaction reaches a certain threshold, I lose focus and I can no longer metabolize the stuff. I just float on a cloud of pleasure until I come down. And then, when I need it again, I repeat the process, it’s that simple.”

“It’s a great thing, really,” I said, “Can everybody do it?”

“Well, yes. I mean, I can make you able to do it, if you want.”

“No thanks, I’m good.”

“You see, it’s my mission here. I decided to change the human race into a happy race. Well, not a race at all, because there is nothing to race about, once you have self-provided satisfaction. This stuff is like H, only psychedelic, so it puts you in touch with yourself and the universe. Once you see it, you know you’ve come to the right place and you’re just another satisfied customer. Except nobody’s gonna make you pay for it and nobody can use it to control you. I am setting everybody free.”

I just stood there with a drink in my hand, like an idiot.

“You don’t have to buy any dangerous shit from dealers, or eat that deep sea stuff that makes you sick. You don’t need religion, or competition, or love. All you need is yourself and your mind. That is why I came back down. I mean, I came back down after I finally figured it out.”

“Hey, listen,” I said, “Really great chatting to you, but I want to catch that guy before he leaves,” I pointed somewhere, “So listen, if I don’t get a chance to talk to you again, it’s been a pleasure, and good luck with the thing.”

Sometimes, I look back on the day and wonder if I did the right thing. Maybe I should have taken him up on the offer. Maybe he was the real thing.

Maybe the only reason America is not full of happy junkies is because someone killed him, like we always do.

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