The Epic Legends – Atlanta Day One

I’d like to introduce a new feature here at the Chaos Fold, since I’ve been told I’m a good storyteller, and I’ve got some good stories to tell, a series of autobiographical short stories, some funny, some sad, some funny and sad, some odd, some uncanny.  Together these are the stories that make me who I am, and bring me to where I stand today.  These are the Epic Legends.

I’d like to start with a story that goes back to the early summer of 2003.

In 2002 something of a calamity struck my life.  Everything was shaken up, including my scholastic situation.  I was forced to change from one school to another, and I was generally a wreck.  If you want a good look at our national psyche in the year 2002, one need look no further than where I was.  I’ve always been an empath, perhaps it was just a reaction to the tumult of the times, that in turn brought that tumult to my own life.  In 2003, though, at the time of this story, I was in a better place.  I was looking up, not down, and I was singing.

Yes, singing.  Your humble host was once a choir boy.  And I was good.  On a night in early May, I returned to my high school in Fairfax, Virginia to board a charter bus, and travel through the night to Atlanta, Georgia, where I would sing in competition along with a cadre of others.

I was granted a stipend of cash by my family for what would be my first voyage beyond the borders of my state to pay for food, drinks, whatever the situation called for.  Naturally, upon arrival at my high school, I walked directly across the street to a strip mall and bought Pokemon Ruby for $40, along with a friend who bought Pokemon  Sapphire.  The idea was to mitigate the boredom of the impending journey by catching them all, or at least as many as we could.  We’d picked up the newly-released Game Boy Advance SPs days earlier, so we were ready to roll.

And roll, we did!  The buses started their voyage around 10 PM.  I learned quickly that while the three seats at the back of the bus may seem appealing, it is in fact the worst possible decision I made.

The bus rumbles down I-95 as terrible PG-13 movies are played before us on the screens.  Legally Blonde 2 is first on the docket.  I break several laws of nature in the process of pulling out my gameboy faster than anyone has ever done before.  I begin playing my newly-purchased game, though the particulars of it have long since been lost to the fog of time.  What shines brightly, though, is the broken pact between my erstwhile compatriot and I!  Not an hour into the ride, all pretense of gaming our way through the boredom is gone, as the third musketeer, a longtime friend of mine by the name of Tony, and to this day the only man I’ve known to make good on his childhood dreams, was ousted from the third seat in favor of an asian girl whose name has also long since faded in my memory.  What I do remember, is Colin, better known to me as Judas (fitting my messiah complex), making out with this girl in the back of the bus, as I sat uncomfortably against the window, trying to ignore the foul treachery going on two feet to my right.

She did not stay forever, though.  In time, other women came to that seat, performing similar acts!  There was no pretense of monogamy in that wretched quadrant of the bus.  It became too much to bear, as 12 became 1, and 1 became 2, and I was soon forced to surrender my seat to the usurper!  Colin and the final girl of the night decided that they wanted to sleep up against the side of the bus, rather than the wall of the bathroom, so I begrudgingly gave up my seat to them, as they, and everyone else drifted silently off to sleep.

There would be no sleep for me, that night, however.  For I was in the clutch of Geodon, the most vile medication I have ever been prescribed.  Geodon, classified as an atypical antipsychotic, was being used to treat a condition I did not have, and in doing so, produced the following effects:

One:  When I took Geodon, it would be impossible to wake up the next day.

Two: When I did not take Geodon, it would be impossible to sleep that night.

Three: If I did not sleep, the cycle of sleep deprivation would accelerate eightfold, leaving me as exhausted as I would be after a week of wakefulness in a mere 24 hours.  Hallucinations are included.  Famously, I once saw  my left man-boob open up and spew forth egg yolks, while a radio booth I was looking at filled up with milk.

The bus was silent, and in my medically-induced madness, I had time to brood.  Brood, I did.  I lamented silently the perpetual lack of female companionship in my life.  I thought back to 2002, and I did weep.  It was the longest night of my life.

Sometime around 5 AM, the buses came to a stop in Buttfuck, South Carolina, parked squarely between a Waffle House and a Burger King, on what could only be described as an unpaved highway.  It was the furthest south I had ever been.  The fact of that alone made me uncomfortable.  I chose to spend my breakfast hour debating whether or not to throttle a parental chaperone for refusing to give me my medication, and pacing back and forth on a patch of grass, shooting contemptuous looks at various people i may or may not have known.

Time didn’t make much sense.  We couldn’t have been stopped for long, but it seemed like an eternity, walking that ground in the grey mist of dawn.  When we got back on the bus, most returned to sleep.  I was still incapable.

I was long past the point of anger or spite, all I wanted now was sleep.  Instinct seized control.  Instinct was no match for devil Geodon.  I remained awake the entire night, as we emerged in the bright Georgia sun, and made the first stop on our itinerary: Stone Mountain.  The Confederate Mt. Rushmore.  A great uncle of mine was in fact enshrined upon its face.  I wanted sleep.  Initially I set out with the people I had boarded the bus with, so that perhaps I could glean some enjoyment from this hellhole.  My decision earlier to brood, rather than eat, had returned to haunt me, though.  The only eatery I could find was something of a rustic fast-food joint, a Civil War-era McDonalds.  I bought a ham sandwich.

The sandwich is another thing i remember vividly, mostly that it was terrible, and it cost ten goddamn dollars.  Not Confederate dollars, mind you, real, US Dollars.  Greenbacks.  The bread was dry and stale, the ham was worse than what I could get at any supermarket, and the sandwich was so poorly constructed that where a tomato should be, there was instead a grainy paste of what once may have been a tomato.  I swallowed my pride and ate the food, my cash reserves down to under thirty dollars.  When I emerged, much to my surprise, the people who said they would wait for me, were not waiting.  I searched in vain for what seemed like another eternity, the sun lighting everything up a little too brightly.  Reality didn’t feel real.  I was moving into the final stage.  I needed sleep, I needed it soon, or someone may get hurt.

I fled, returning to the bus and lying down on the bare concrete in the shade, curling up and trying to sleep, even as the asphalt seared me through my shirt.  It was better than nothing.  At least I enjoyed a time of silence, without the running of motors or the prattle of my fellow students.  Sometime later the driver returned, and mercifully let me into the bus where I took my seat and got roughly ten minutes of actual, real sleep.  Total incoherent madness would be postponed for a time.

Soon enough, though, the rest of the passengers would return and I would be sleepless once more, until we reached the Embassy Suites in Atlanta.  When we arrived, I was on my last legs, and the chaperones decided to do the worst thing they could possibly do: Wait.  We waited.  We waited for over half an hour in the driveway of the hotel before we could disembark.  When the adults finally allowed us off, they allowed us off in a kludgy, bureaucratic manner that could only have been concieved in the shadow of the Madness Spire, that is to say the Nation’s Capital.

Baggage Captains.

Baggage captains were selected at random to remove the bags and sort them, person by person.  We would then leave and claim our bags once they were organized… in alphabetical order.  As you might glean from the last name adorning my lovely logo, I was the last person to be allowed off the bus.

Was I a bad person in a former life?  Did I kick babies or something, because my definition of Purgatory is sitting in an unairconditioned bus, in the middle of Atlanta, in the summer, while sleep-deprived to the point of seeing everything with a slightly orange tint.

Once I emerged, though, bags in hand, I found another obstacle between me and a good sleep.  The crowd.  The bureaucrats who figured it would be a great idea to let people grab their bags in alphabetical order somehow forgot to mention that these people should also go up to their rooms in the same order, so instead of being greeted with an empty lobby and a welcoming elevator to the fourth-floor suite I would share with several cretins, including one walking human carpet named Sergio, I walked into a mobscene of students clamoring for spots in elevators.

When I did find my way into one of the elevators, I suddenly realized the delay was not made of a systemic failure, but rather a small group of jackasses, who were holding the elevator doors closed with their hands, laughing, and preventing me from exiting.

Shit got real.

Every ounce of strength I had in me came rushing back, adrenaline filled my body, and my high school nickname of “The Hulk” was earned.  I dropped my bags, pried the doors open, Tackled the fucker holding them closed, reached back in, grabbed my bags, and swung them wildly as one would bludgeoning weapons, nearly knocking the three people responsible off a balcony.  Shortly before any crimes were truly comitted, I dropped my bags, sent them fleeing down the stairs, then took my bags quietly to my room, and emerged.

Nonchalantly walking down to the ground floor I told security of the cause of the commotion, as well as the choral director.  He finally saw that there would be merit in giving me my medicine and allowing me to sleep.  A chaperone was forced to surrender their room to me, I was given the ability to order room service, for actual food, and a full-size bed in which to sleep.

Blissfully I slept through the rest of that day (and night’s) events, waking right on cue the next morning.  Fresh-faced and ready to perform.

Though the journey down was complete, the story was just beginning.

To Be Continued…

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1 Comment

  1. Two thumbs up fort part one


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