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Riley's doctor. Didn't say much. Did even less.
Take a seat. How you feeling? For how long? That's a shame. Here's a script. Use personal discretion. Take care.
Well okay then.
There's the words. Right there. Side of the bottle.
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What they had. What they could afford. Maybe what was needed. Hard to say. Lots of contrasting opinions. Had to do something. Better than nothing. Depending on your nothing.
Yellow day out. Felt that colour around noon. Never dropped off. Never switched up. To blue sky or grey cloud. Always yellow out. Take the pill then? Why the heck not?
Wasn't yellow though. Just a simple round white. No logo imprint or pointless ridges. A squat cylinder of mystery.
No sip of water. Just down the hatch. No babying these things. Act like an adult. Mature from this moment on. That's the idea anyway. That the fingers crossed fix. That's the cure for the ails. Ain't wastin' time no more. Tied to the whippin' post. Arpeggios of failures. Spine pulled too tight. A chance tragic accident. Looking wrong instead of right. Haunts like a creaky house. Never got a straight answer. He said she said and another he and a different she also said.
When's it gonna change?
Not a pleasant mystery. A contemptible one.
Waiting in line for the line. Felt like a number. Felt like a ticket. Felt like a fraud.
The dog-shittiness of it all.
Wasn't told of this. Drowning on the inside.
Worst possible time. Camels through needles. Work is a nightmare. Family just a dream. Cities like a stain. Moving to problem alleys. Through new darks. Advanced cargo. Spread across harbours. Tincting the sky. Dry throat and drier skin. Always blame the itching. Bad spots in bad spots. Charity goes south fast. Backward donations done too forwardly. Signing mirror image cheques. Hanging out in front of the bank.
Asking for money. One way or another. Permission from trust. Trust from sacrifice. Sacrifice from time. Time is all you got.
Suddenly that heavy thought. Has to come to with stress. Need to take a moment. Need to take some time to deal with time.
Take a seat. How you feeling? No serious this time.
I've got plans. They're dripping out of my eyes and ears and mouth. I've got dreams. Flying out my forehead.
But the stress doesn't come. The hand never quaked. The breathing stayed smooth.
The painted dried. The wounds healed. The energy sparked and caught.
The yellow sky understood. It even bowed slightly. Gave a tender acknowledgement. Supposed the best was yet to come. Saw the good in everyone.
Not a dime to Riley's name. But money wilts like October flowers.
Pocket full of pills. At least it's something. Not necessarily what you want. Can't always get that. Occasionally get what you get what you need.
Riley holds that close. In a secret pocket. Quite unlike the key. Getting to work in the rain. Opening the back of back doors. ID is for the week. Look the part be the part. Tell them you belong here. Be firm but forgettable. Hold yourself in your hands. Lost among the crowd. Can't all be legit. Maybe half just like Riley. Keep the shield up.
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A rattle in the hallway. A nod between the guards. The meeting breaking up.
We must be in business.
Doors open and no eye contact. Ragged suits with scraps of paper. Scribbles of the latest figures. Best crunchers in the country. Been cooking the best books. Roasting up the top figures. Make any trader squeal. Top shelf predictions. Divining rod predictions. Playing the numbers? Dig through the goat guts. On the fibreglass meeting room table.
Everyone was ready. All had parts to play. Suits try to run. Riley and others try to catch. "Hit me something, buddy." "Give me a tip, something easy." "Don't clam up, help a guy out."
Chirping like cheap sparrows. Toxic pats on the back. Handshake of carbon monoxide.
Don't get too pushy. Guards probably packing. Riley hung back a bit. Waiting for the papers. Waiting for the pocket fallout. Takes some deep breaths. A couple empty cigarette mimes. Hope the drugs hold the line. For a little longer. Always a little longer.
Finally the last few suits trickle into the hallway.
Riley follows half faking boredom. Other stragglers getting desperate. Almost demanding information. Yelling sob stories into tired faces. Last few suits rip up clutched paper for safety. Let the scraps drop below. Out of sight. Out of mind. Stay calm and act cool.
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Riley acts like a janitor. Picks up prized garbage like they didn't know. Sighing the whole time. Like their back actually hurts doing it. Actually their back kind of hurts. Stuff all the paper into a plastic bag. Add some coffee cups and dust bunnies for effect.
Guards pistol whips some guy. Got too close to a person who matters. Other guards step up and in. Suits cower and scramble. Time for Riley to exit. Pretend to clean a different hallway. Preferably two buildings over. Walk away from the fracas. Another left and right into silence. Try some doors into mystery rooms. But they're all locked. Mysteries for another time. Shining red exit sign good enough.
Riley ends up in the parking garage. Dump the janitor swag. Look like you belong.
Quiet and peaceful amongst the concrete. Forget the commotion above. Go through your loot bag. Put the scraps together. A puzzle of fractions and figures. Connect the decimals and dots. Count your lucky stars. Astrologize up the ass.
The pick for the ages. Until the next one next month.
Must be the moon. Must be the picks. Must be the guaranteed winner. Must be the 'can't win if you don't play'. What everyone knows. Bridging age, race, and creed.
Never go against the lottery.
And here Riley is. Feeling a bit slower. Feeling like a lot less than a million bucks. Putting together scraps of paper. Paper meant to help win more than a million bucks.
But first stop yawning. And cut out the sweating. And that negative creep. A fattening sense of doubt. The cold embrace of regret.
Finally bottoming out. In every sense of the words. Who knew waking tiredness could be so heavy?
Walking through the garage. The stale concrete everything. Not worth a hint of sunshine. Look like you're looking for your vehicle. Look like you're feeling up your phone. Look for purpose as the cars crawl by you.
Until Riley falls into a moment. An ornery bit of silence. A muffled cry from inside. A sudden decision to flee.
Their shoes somehow gain speed. Running down the soft ramps. Ducking under the exit gate.
Flagging down an old school taxi. Handing over paper cash. Planning to get out. Paranoia coming on strong. Nice to sit down though. Make plans while coherent. Arrivals in questions. Recounting the visas. Addressing the luggage. Hiding from the unknowns.
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Not much traffic. Record time to the airport. Couldn't understand why. Riley tips badly and stumbles inside. Terminal not busy. Void of all passengers actually. No employees either. Instead about fifty cops in SWAT gear. Guns drawn and not fooling around. Hands up everyone. Go peacefully or go down for the count. Riley looks left and right. The doctor was there, shuffling feet. And four other familiar faces nearby. All in the waiting room. Flipping magazines and tapping phones this morning. Something in the water cooler. Or the air conditioner. Maybe the receptionist's pen? Or the prescriptions obviously. Riley still feeling a bit slow. Two plus two ain't so easy right now.
Riley half-falls to the ground. The bullets wouldn't ask permission.
But the doctor takes the risk. Makes a run for the empty check-in counter. At least they only shoot out the legs. The howling in pain is grating to the ears. Riley doesn't feel panicked. Even as the cops go through pockets. Riley just wants to sleep a bit. A nice dull dream on the hard tile floor. But their eyes won't shut. The men in suits walk in from outside. Looking triumphant and knowing. The numbers are coming in from the sides.
Sometimes nothing happens at the centre. Sometimes you just stare. Envying the chaotic margins.
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|Is capitalism's ultimate end game just feudalism?|