It was a deceptively sunny day, one of those days in which you rot away silently with screams muffled by the torrid perfection of the world and tears kissed away by the desiccating heat of human misery.

You know, one of those days in which you just want to lose yourself, one of those many, many days which entices and seduces you into playing along with the make-belief in which it rests so merrily—one of those days that is perfect for meeting a neighbor after falling down the stairs with a dead plant (the only object which was not pretending to be convivial, ironically, died).

"Hello—I'm Adrian."

Really, he was so normal, so normal that it was unique, because nowadays it's really quite difficult to find someone so incredibly mundane.

"Nicole." Nod a few times because it was perfectly decorous for the trite situation.

"Are you new here?"

Conversation continues.

Wonder how many people are taking their last tortured breaths. Wonder how many elephants are having their trunks pulled out. Wonder how many people are drowning in suicide. Wonder how many cats are getting skinned alive. Wonder how many babies are having their arms chopped off. Wonder how many trees are having their legs sawed off. Wonder how many people are getting their brains stir-fried in a medium-rare electric current, waiting patiently on a wooden chair.

Conversation...continues: "Yeah, I just moved in from Arizona...coming here for college."

"UCLA?" Pause: "You need some help with your plant?"

"Thanks." Smile gaily. Curse banal situations and wonder if the man has AIDS, almost out loud. Time drags by like a little teenage boy watching his life ferment in the environment of Ecstasy and alcohol, but it still drags by—two hours later, everything is settled in the flat in neat little boxes and the moving van has pulled away.

The silence in Los Angeles was desperate. Rain was falling outside, attempting to dilute the filth of humanity by washing the earth and failing miserably.

"Thanks again. Oh, Adrian..."

"Yes?"

"When you have the time, I'd love to have you over for a cup of coffee or something."

"Alright." A smile and shutting door close the event fittingly. Silence. Desperation, you know?

OoOoO

It wasn't too hard to forget to breathe when wasting away in boredom. After a while, the game of "Just How Much More Bored You Can Get" gets vaguely exciting, especially when skidding along the alleys of LA at 23:43. Los Angeles time, because Los Angeles is a city lost in itself, a world excluded from the bigger world. It's time zone is its own.

Adjust the shoulder bag a little bit. Think about the irrationality of the human condition. Think hard about the useless struggles of mankind. Think, think-

SLAM.

The sky rolls before the eyes like the film in a broken recorder: a chatter and a pause. While the archaic game of "Just How Much More Bored You Can Get" is put to temporary stop, another game of "Figure Out Who The Hell Just Knocked You To Your Feet" is pushed into the VCR and ordered to play.

"Adrian?"

The man disappears. Not a word spoken in return. Rewind "Figure Out Who The Hell Just Knocked You To Your Feet" to the section about "Just How Much More Bored You Can Get", and start walking home.

Why care about someone who just brushed by, when there are millions who had not, and thousands more who will? Why care about anyone in particular, when there exist so many who all will face the same eventual fate—death?

It's like ordering a hamburger at McDonald's: No matter what is ordered with the Big Mac, no one can avoid the fact that he shall get just a little more obese eating it. No matter what is ordered as the side dish with life, no one can avoid the fact that the ultimate taste is that of death: sweet death, sour death, bland death, bitter death...

What is the fate of man? To die? Or to give birth to future generations, who are fated to die? Does there exist a goal beyond that of death?

To love, to live, to struggle against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune—and to fade away in the ultimate act of negating, of nothingness, of the final act of disappearance: Death.

A slight mist of rain in Los Angeles.

Look up into the rain and wonder where it comes from, already knowing its birth and fortune better than it knows itself; pretend to know nothing, to stare into a fantasy that is only the trick of reality.

They say fantasy hides itself in reality.

It's wrong: Reality hides itself in Fantasy. It's true. Reality makes you think you won't die, when before you could blink it snatches away your life in the most ridiculous and shallow ways.

A slight turbulent storm in Lost Los Angeles.

"What art thou, Faustus, but a man condemn'd to die? Thy fatal time doth draw to final end; Despair doth drive distrust unto my thoughts: Confound these passions with a quiet sleep: Tush, Christ did call the thief upon the cross; Then rest thee, Faustus, quiet in conceit."

Drag the soaked clothing up the winding stairways. Turn the key in the lock. Push the door. It opens.

Welcome home, Mephistopheles.

OoOoO

Wake up to the damnable biological clock screaming LIFELIFELIFELIFE in the ears, reminding cruelly that sleep brings life, and everlasting sleep brings death.

Flip on the TV with a lethargic hand.

It's just another one of those days, suitable to generate a genocide, reign over a regicide, la~la~la. The sun peeks shyly through the curtains, the gale shuffles it with muted bullets, the birds outside send private messages through a world dominated by man and his misery.

Something about a male prostitute getting slaughtered to death with his eyes blinded...What an interesting way to die. What an honor it would be to be killed by such a creative friend of death.

Toast a bagel. Drink some coffee. Look out the window. See Adrian walking to his car for work. Look at the clock. Jump. Grab the backpack and run out the door. Hurry for the eight o'clock bus.

OoOoO

"Lawrence?"

"Yup."

"Sugar?"

"No thanks."

Look up at Adrian. Look back at Lawrence. Smile openly, as if a smile had never dawned upon the face before, speak vividly, as if the heart had just been opened, touch shyly, as if the soul desires to get to know the man sitting across the table.

"You're fourteen?" Try to make conversation, wonder when he would die—what it relief it would be for him, to be able to rest so early, to be saved from the slaughters of work. Look over at Adrian. Look back at Lawrence.

They say the eyes are treasure troves, hiding all the secret jewels of the soul, the keys to which is given to those who have lost all desire of seeking the treasures which it keeps so sacred. For a moment those riches are presented so clearly to the soul that an intense desire to just laugh, laugh so fruitfully that the world starts spinning off its axis-

So they are...Ah. Smile gaily, with some mischief. Tell them with funny gestures but no words that it is known how they are related in an unconventional manner, and it is ignored how unconventional their relationship is, in these eyes.

After all, what matters it whom you love, if both of you are destined to die? What matters it what is said of your love, if those harbor those words are destined to fall into the dark abyss with their words? What matters love, if love can never unit two separate human beings—for we are all born autonomous, lonely, abandoned—save for those few moments of pleasure in the sensual world of lust?

Love is a misnomer. There exists no thing, for love requires that two beings give without asking for return, and all of humanity's actions are based on the principle of return: help some old lady up from a fall, makes you feel better; make up with your friend, drives away your irritation; love your parents, makes you fit in with society's demands of faithfulness.

Without the expectations of some sort of return, you may as easily kill someone.

Adrian looks nervous. Lawrence doesn't look as if he cares. Smile smugly, "Flames burn in different shades. Are you happy?"

They stare, probably wondering something lightly profound. Smile again—can't stop smiling now, they'll think that you would tell on them—but really, why would you? The human condition is unchangeable, there is no amusement in rattling some secret that would make life no less miserable and would not remove the seal of death.

"Yeah, happy." Adrian smiles anxiously, looks at Lawrence, "We have to go, Lawr."

"Okay." Smile again, politely this time; look as if you've seen nothing and understood nothing. Walk them to the door. Wave, "It was nice meeting you, Lawrence. Thanks for bringing your friend over, Adrian. Please have a wonderful day."

They smile. What a lovely pair.

Shut the door and wait. No, heart hasn't stopped—not dead…yet.

OoOoO

Wake up with a jolt. There are annoying sounds from the boys next door. Grimace, knowing what they are up to…look through the little hole on the wall…

As expected: the dance has begun.

Two bodies, joined in some unfathomable manner, crying together in joy and grief, surprise and sorrow, desire and lust. It's funny how people think making love means connecting. No, making love is setting up breaking. If there was no sex in the first place, then you wouldn't be so attached in the first place, and then you would have no heart to break afterwards.

They sing, too. They sing words not of love, but of animal sounds, barbaric noises not so different from those of apes and pigs.

Lonely in Los Angeles.

Roll out from bed, open the curtains, look outside, to a world haggling on human destruction, strangled by its own peccants and desires, the only thing that witnesses the death of one so many.

Raining in Los Angeles.

Wait. Wonder. Wait.

It's all so disgusting, all of this—but who cares? If we are all running towards death, who cares if they run naked or run blind? There is an unavoidable finish line, and it doesn't matter what you do on the way. You are made to run. No choice. None.

Welcome home, Mephistopheles.

OoOoO

It's easy to get used to something. What's hard is forgetting it.

It's one of humanity's worse characteristics. We all fear change. Big change, small change, habitual changes—we are afraid of living in new environments, afraid not of change, but of what it will bring.

Tonight, sit on the bed playing chess with self. It's so easy to win, because there is no way to lose. But, it disappoints that there is no sound from the boys next door—no nightly song? No dance? Look through the whole.

Raise eyebrow at sight: Lawrence, gun…Adrian…?

Close eyes and fall back on bed, sighing in light victory.

See?

You see?

That is the human condition.

That is it, that is betrayal—that is the epitome of humanity…it all sums up to that. Only a few hours ago they were sharing the most sacred dance of all, and now they are helping each other to the finish line. Oh, what irony—'til death does us apart—well, what else could do you apart?

Well, since it's going to be quiet, might as well get some sleep for once.

Knock the game off the bed and crawl in underneath the lilac blankets.

Sleep.

OoOoO

Turn on the television. Regard plainly the trial taking place, study that dire expression—that lack of emotion—on Adrian's face. Almost pity him, sip on coffee, turn off the television.

Wonder if he really loved that boy. Study his face: ah, he really did.

What frivolous human emotions! What the waves of fortune can wash away! Sip on some more coffee, study for the Chaucer final and wonder about Adrian's fate. He was a good neighbor.

Grab backpack and walk away.

OoOoO

"How do they treat you here, Adrian?" Nod at the nurse passing by. Adrian just smiles. Ah, that same dull smile, "What do you want for Christmas, Adrian?"

He continues smiling, looking into his visitor's eyes, but not through them…because no one looks through the eyes of his visitor. Read his thoughts, study his expression, look for hope in an empty corpse. He continues smiling, just as plainly as before, saying something with those doleful eyes.

"You know, Adrian." Pick something out of the fruits basket that was brought for him and his misery, "You know, I can get you anything."

He smiles. He knows. He has known for a long time…his smile says it all. Look into his smile, "Do you want him back, Adrian?"

He just smiles. He offers a flower, a soft, delicate one…one that is almost dying, but struggling on its grip for life…his soul. His smile doesn't waver as he hands over the essence of his human existence. No regrets. But why? Why would he give up his soul, his existence, for just seeing his beloved? Why?

He continues smiling, prompting the answer which has been avoided for so long.

Ah, love—but it can't be real, can it?

"I'll get him for you, Adrian." Smile back the first time. Take the flower. Rip off a petal; eat it slowly, in front of his eyes. Repeat. "It's a promise, Adrian. Thanks for the flower."

A nurse looks, wondering if the girl in front of her eyes needs to be in the asylum too. Smile at her, "Thanks for letting me visit Adrian. Could you lead me out, please?"

Take one last look at Adrian. Smile, a real smile.

OoOoO

Turn on the television. Bathe in the static. What is the reporter saying?

Oh? Adrian left?

Lucky man.