Conscience - Karl Guethert

I’m being hunted by
Jiminy Cricket.

Everywhere I go
            I see him.

Massive, black, in random locations.

The supermarket.

The Men’s room.

The Library door.

Backstroke in the fountain.

Lurking about in no-man’s land.

The Men’s room.
Again.
                        (Seriously?)

I’m starting to doubt my sanity
            Question my subconscious
            Ponder my dilemmas
                                                            Ramble unnecessarily…
                                                            I mean, seriously – the Men’s room? 
                                                            What’s up with that?
                                                            Voyeurism?
                                                            Creepy, much?
                                                            Need to pee? You’re a cricket damn it. Pee outside.
Wait, are you even male? ‘Cause that’s a little shady if you’re not but still hanging out in the Men’s room…
                                                Cricket.
Are you a hallucination?
            Why are you here?
                        Are you even here?
                                    What does this mean?
                                                            
Oh god, where did you go?

I’d better not see you at my house
                        That’ll be the final straw…
                        A line crossed.
Make me doubt myself when I’m out 
                        That’s fine.
            But.
My house is my castle. 
My mind is my fortress.
My body is my temple.
No man is an island. 
Time waits for no-one.
            For whom the bell tolls.
                        I am the… walrus…?

                                   Rambling again…
Damn you, Mr. Jiminy!

What have you done to my mind?!

...Good Book Down - Karl Guethert

“I’m an introverted extrovert.”

I’d tell people this with a toothy grin. But what the fuck did that even mean? Nothing really. It was a bullshit category for a bullshit sense of self-worth. I wanted a label, and this one made me feel special. Made me feel unique. Gave me a mask to hide behind. It was almost liberating. But most people just looked at me with a raised eyebrow whenever I mentioned it. The best part was that it helped me to sink further into my own shell. I blanketed myself with another layer of distance.

I wasn’t always like this, however. This sounds cliché, but High school was the catalyst. Things were going fine. I had a plan. I had a girlfriend. I had a future with rainbows and pots of gold. Then one day I didn’t have any of those things. All I did have were three conflicting points of view. I can’t say that it was all her fault, but she certainly kicked my brain in the balls.

“No-one loves a balding teen"

“It’s not your fault.”  

“Do it. Kill yourself.   
No-one will care.”

“At least wait until you’re finished reading
Lord of the Rings.”

“I told you – no-one loves   
a balding teen.”

“Don’t forget what your dad said. Puberty              
is just a time for your hormones to act up. 
Your thoughts are messed up by hormones.”

“Just do it already!”

“…”

“Where’s the other guy?”

“Who cares? Just do IT!”

I’m glad I decided to wait for another reply. When I looked back much later on I noticed the dust ridden sign:

“Out to lunch. Back in 12 years.”

At least he had the decency to come back to lock the door and leave me a final kernel of helpful advice.
Of course, even the end of High School didn’t make a difference. I tried to focus on my education in order to rebuild a dream. I’ve never touched the stuff, but my ego began to take the hardest drugs available. Cue the years of:

“You Suck!
YOU SUCK!
YOU SUCK!”

“Tell me something I don’t know!”

“Y’know, your sister has schizophrenia. 
Pretty good chance you’re a nut bag too.”

I started to believe my own lies. I really did become useless. I buried my loves. I exsanguinated my hopes. I turned my dreams into roadblock sized nightmares. Every single spark in my body was doused. I started simply living from day to day. I had no idea what I wanted anymore, no idea where to go. I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t talented. I hid. Slithered. I only put half of my arse behind everything I did. Hell, even the High School cleaning job was exciting. And that job was boring as fuck.

And then a friend of mine told me how low she had gotten. Much lower than myself. Her contemplations and plans were far darker. More gut-wrenching. It was like she punched me right in the heart. The storm clouds in my own mind were pushed aside. I wouldn’t say I became a new man. That’s not only terribly clichéd, but it’s also a lie. In reality, I became the man I already was. I simply learned instead how to discard the mask of bullshit, the suit of lies, the shoes of self-deception. It took a while, but I stopped hiding behind paranoid walls:

“Shit, I should have said that differently.”

“They think you’re a dick.”

“I’ve gotta remember to say it better next time.”

“Get your shit together and think before you speak.”

Eventually, I realised that I wasn’t a dick. My subconscious, however, had somehow become an arsehole. Once I started combating my paranoia, things started looking brighter. I dropkicked my second-guessing. I blasted my frozen heart with a flamethrower. I took a sword to my soul. I started to compartmentalise what was really hurtful, and what was simply something to ignore. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. I finally put some earplugs in and decided to ignore the dickhead voice on my shoulder.

“I told you, no-one loves     
a balding man-child.”

“Did anyone hear that?”

“Hear what?”

“Hey, don’t you forget about me!”

“Seriously, can anyone hear a buzzing sound?”

“I can’t hear anything over the 
sound of how awesome you are.”

“That’s exactly what I thought.”

“Fuck.”

Contributor's Note

Karl is a graduate of the Waikato Management School who earned a Bachelor of Management Studies. He also realized that Marketing was nowhere near as fun as his passion for creative writing, so he decided to pursue his passion, rather than waste away in the business of manipulating peoples’ desires.

 

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