The Suburban Hunt

Hi, I?m Jezreel, but you might want to call me Lamont. That?s obviously not the moniker I was born with; what?s the difference? Do we really want to bumble through life living by all the mistakes of our parents? We do, of course; we don?t like it. Even they don?t like it.
Hey, I?m flattered to the be the featured speaker at Suburbanites Anonymous though frankly I don?t think things are ever anonymous enough here. If I could I?d be invisible like God. I?d like to show up in a mask, even talk to you in a fake voice behind a wall. I?d like to say nothing. If I could say less than nothing, I?d do it.
You shadows out there don?t want anybody to know who you are either. I don?t judge you walking catastrophes anymore than I blame myself for ending up here, always eternally recovering, never cured, close to the edge of a vicious hunger to run a barbeque somewhere, a step from maybe sending out somewhere by telephone for a gigantic pizza.
I know we come here out of desperation and shame, not bearing a name or a life that we?re proud of. We certainly don?t want to continue being bonkers. How did we ever start being nuts? We just drifted into some limbo between the country and the city like dabbling in a stupid affair with a forgettable or bitchy lover between the real intimates. We all ask ourselves what was the sell? How did we buy a living death> how did we accept looking at the world as if we were smiling oxen?
We tell people it was never really us, even when we did it, it was a phantom that said the words; we were never ever there. We were always on vacation from ourselves; we were secretly spending six days and five nights doing an imaginary winter bus tour of Canada.
We know all about how ordinary hell is, don?t we, folks? You couldn?t set our stupefied lives to an opera, could you? We change if we ever do not because we eve want to be better; we can’t stand being unhappy for more than a week in the same way.
The rubes do that all the time when they buy into a life with a brand name. Don?t underestimate us, please; a lot of us are civil when join a covert suicide cult. You don?t have to believe in God or anything at all to be a martyr. We?re here in this place like a fantastical hospital without doctors in the end out of pride and piqued vanity. We don?t like even circus mirrors anymore than vampires can stand even a passing stare at a pane of glass.
I?m pretty much like the rest of you, I think. I?d been sold a stupid and coarse life that wasn?t mine anymore than my name ever was. I moved out to Pagaduget because I couldn?t bear people really. Pagaduget was a socially engineered town named after a tribe of Indians all of who were serial killers, cannibals and coprophiles. All the other Indians quite properly hated them. Maybe they were the worst set of Indians in America. They were good enough for us as long as they were dead.
One day we?ll be long gone too of course. The last braves of Pagaduget are living on a reservation in Alaska on Welfare, drinking whiskey made out of rancid walrus bones; some of them they ran a little business in household idols of dog-gods they had imported from Patagonians living in Labrador; they also sold some very bizarrely flavored Swiss Chocolates; they said it was medicinal. Many things are without trying, aren?t they?
I was a suburbanite that made other people in Pagaduget feel as if they were in the ghetto. Of course I had a home with a leaking roof, an almost genuine pine cellar, a waxed mate with turquoise painted toenails, two kids who could read and write and the glories of a double mortgage, I never even thought of being born or even dying without air conditioning. I was not exactly ordinary; I threw more new bits of plastic I bought in the shopping malls into the trash than anybody in my community.
Once the moon came up and even when it didn?t there were always hordes of Peruvians and Nigerians in my back ward, every one of them illegal aliens who used to rummage through my garbage every night to feed and clothe themselves. They lived materially better than I did. I?m heard them in the shadows every night before I went to sleep, sneaking up on my trash heap like an army of raccoons. Of course I was happy. Who isn?t happy if you?re comfortable?
After a while I noticed that every three years there was a different population in Pagadugit. They were all moving somewhere, where exactly I didn?t know. I didn?t see any advertisements for someplace better or cheaper on television, any pitches for substantial and beautiful real estate with low mortgages being pitched in the papers.
I w wondered, where the hell had they all gone? Wherever the hell it was, God knows it was a secretive pilgrimage. One day you saw them in the mall taking in a Chinese action movie, grabbing a train to cement into the city to find some cheap flea market; the next day they were invisible, dead or in another place. I never heard the rumbling sound of gigantic moving vans you might expect to make a black noise on the road all night long.
Had some serial killer massacred them all? Of course that?s what happens to all of us eventually; maybe God killed them. Maybe God doesn’t like the suburbs. Death in America usually doesn’t happen if the doctors can help it without a long and expensive autumnal decline while gobbling oodles of anti-aging pills. Then one drools into one?s saltless food while one watches the latest foreign war on tube with plastic reeds coming in and out of your throat. I didn?t believe these stalwarts had all gone to hospital.
I decided since they obviously left in the middle of the night all I needed to do is discover their destined whereabouts was to hang in the shadows next to one of their houses randomly after the sun went down. Eventually I would be able to follow one of them in a car. Then I?d know everything if there was anything to know. Once I found them I?d go wherever they?d go. I?d done it before. I just hoped it wasn?t the ghetto. I?d been doing all my life, after all.
I wasn?t worried about anybody. The waxed mate, the bratty kids, could all make it on their own in the suburbs; if they couldn?t, well, nature hates a hothouse. I was just Santa Claus to them who stayed overnight. They could live without Santa. If they couldn?t, while they fell apart they didn?t need me to drop by the mall and shop.
One evening I saw my next door neighbor, Rollo Shad, not his real name I think; in the suburbs nobody gives it to anyone if they can help it, take off alone in a seedy coupe with a sinister air as if he were hiding something. He disappeared into the night in that car without loading his furniture or his family onto a wagon or a bus. The lights had stayed on in his house. His family intimates probably didn?t even know he was gone.
From the eerie radiance within, the voices talking about the sales of the latest action movies, I could see they were all watching the news on television. I?d slept with Veronica, Mrs. Shad to the neighborhood, when Rollo was away; the sex with her I must confess wasn?t memorable. I thought he?d been right to skip from her. He could have done better in a wife. So could I in a mistress.
That night I watched Rollo Shad took off almost silently in his little automobile. I smiled; finally it was goombye Veronica for him but not for me. I don?t think Veronica was her right name either; who gives their right name in the suburbs?
This time I decided to follow him. After he?d glided thorough back roads for about thirty miles I saw he was heading toward a flat plains with a launching pad and a rocket ship in the middle of it. He parked the car in a big lot, left the key in the door. I could see he wasn?t expecting to come back.
I tracked him at a distance to a kind of spaceport lobby to the left of the ship. Rollo didn?t recognize me. I wore dark glasses and had a blonde wig.
When he got out of the car I noticed he had the same disguise. He must have bought it in the same place I did in the mall. It didn?t matter; it had worked for both of us. I didn?t want Rollo or anybody else to recognize me; of course I didn?t want to look like him either but no disguise is ever perfect.
I passed him and nodded; for both of us it was like looking into a mirror. Of course he and I pretended we didn?t see each other and maybe we didn?t; I don?t know.
I ambled into the spaceport and sat down next to Dexter Maltrose, a guy I had once seen buying celery doing the Gonzo Milliken Diet craze last year; he was a regular in the mall?s gourmet emporiums. He also had the same disguise; I recognized him because it was about half falling off. He had also added a lack primrose to his thinning hair. He nodded at me glacially, I guess quite understandably; he was a little affronted by my own silver blonde wig and smoky glasses.
?Where are you going?? I asked him.
?Mars,? he said. ?I?ve had enough of this damned place.?
?So have I,? I said agreeably. ?What the hell?s on Mars? Is it more comfortable??
?I only know what I see on satellite television,? he said grumpily. ?If I don?t like it there?s always a nice moon or two my favorite real estate agent has his eye on circling Jupiter.?
I grinned behind the glasses. My real estate agents only sold me property on Earth if some of it was slightly underwater. After a few minutes I got up as if I were going to he bathroom and walked out the lobby door.
I headed toward the ship.
A few years later I moved back to the city, ended up here after a while with the rest of you ex-suburbanite folks. I don?t know how many of your go to the spaceport went to Mars and came back. I did.
I spend most of my time now going to the silent movies in the big city, eating a lot of highly spiced noodles. Sometimes spice is like pleasure. I go to a lot of meetings like this when I feel really desperate. Every once in a while I have a compulsive urge to take out a mortgage, ride a slow train to nowhere.
Often I wake up in the middle of the night and find I?m bumping into walls, mowing a ghostly imaginary lawn. I still buy a lot of things I don?t need. You should come by some midnight, sift through my trash. I?m a recovering suburbanite but if I waver, maybe all of you could still live off me.
I look up at the sky; I see the scarlet lights of Mars most nights. I wonder what I?m missing up there. That?s why I come here to Suburbanites Anonymous. It?s the wonder and hunger that?s the sickness, not the reality.
Many of you thought I was nuts when I got here. Maybe just impolite. I didn?t want to be overly friendly; that?s very suburban, isn?t it? Believe me, I wanted very much to introduce myself as one of the boys to all of you.
Trouble is I could remember the name I was born with or too much of anything that had happened to me. My life had been like a chapter with a shiny four color illustration in a throwaway magazine.
Hey, I sort of look like a model in a new car ad, don?t I? I?d like to be candid and reveal everything; maybe there?s nothing to say about me. You know all about me already. I?m not only just like you; I might be more like you than you?re like yourself.
I?ve lived in the suburbs all my life. I?m ready to listen to you. I?d love to be honest. I have no idea what to be honest about.