What sort of example will you set now? Are you to press on, still without any significant clues? Andy could still be anywhere. In fact, you’re not 100% sure he’s in New York or even alive. You just aren’t sure of anything. Sooner or later, though, you’ll have to be. You are determined to find him, and to find him you must open that psychic link. You are in a coffee shop right now, and you hear the lyrics, “You better run, you better take cover.” A warning or a coincidence? You ask aloud, “What is this telling me?” You consider the state of your existence, unique as it is. You understand that bodies are ultimately just systems. Systems like yours — which are both physical and metaphysical — are not always properly equipped for psychic linkage to other minds. You think, ‘How can I take advantage of this? How can I turn this weakness into a strength?’ You know there’s a way to draw Andy out and to bring him to you. You just need to think clearly.
With Andy, you have just a host body infested with an elf parasite, taking over and controlling the initial being. This would obviously include its functions. What do elves have that would not change, even in a new body? Clearly, they do all forms of standardly gross body stuff — they sweat, they poop and they pee. The unique elf scent would presumably be lacking, but an elf might not fully understand this. Also, an elf might still do elf-like things, like look at toys. They might even still build toys while out in the real world. After all, that’s near the forefront of their training, one of their essential duties.
Still, is it ingrained in their DNA to seek out toys, and toy building materials? How thoroughly are they brainwashed and altered forever into elfdom? You sip the frappuccino and it tastes very good. You imagine it would also taste good to an elf — possibly even better, as they are used to such pathetic existences. A coffee shop beverage might seem like heaven. Elves are bound to be excited by ordinary things, and perhaps would appear naive and childlike out here. Practically everything would taste great, feel great. Hell, they might even pick up a dog turd and sniff it like a bouquet of flowers!
As you continue sipping, you are glad you aren’t being hassled by anybody. Sometimes a Santa suit lets you be left alone. Some may think you’re crazy for dressing as Santa, but not necessarily dangerous. No one’s booting you out of here. After all, you just wanted a tasty beverage. You are a paying customer.
You check out the waitress’s sweet ass and lick your lips. You taste some fresh blood. “Goddamn it!” you exclaim. You grab the nearest napkin and press it hard to your face. “Christ!” It takes a lot of effort to not dash your drink to the floor in a rage. You know that wouldn’t be a good thing to do.
You are figuratively slipping, but you haven’t totally fallen yet. You manage to regain some composure and march up to the cash register, holding the napkin to your nose. “Excuse me, miss?” She looks at you, disturbed yet trying not to be. “Yes?” “Uh, I’d like to pay for my drink now. Obviously, I’ve got a bit of a problem and I may need the restroom for a bit.” “Okay, that’ll be $7.50, and the bathroom is just right there to the right.” You fish out the money from your Santa purse, and beeline to the bathroom.
Through it all, you remember the waitresses’ name: Maddi. It’s a worthy name for a waitress. In the bathroom, you wad up a fresh handful of paper toweling, hold it to your stupid nose. You eye some bathroom literature: A dumb little religious pamphlet. The first page mentions Christ’s forgiveness and heaven. Under these circumstances, the meaning seems all jumbled up. Why should you care about Christ when you’re bleeding all over a bathroom paper towel? What does Jesus have to do with this? Hell, you know that sinful thoughts are literally making you bleed, yet you are still doubting the power of sin. What is it about the doubt that’s still so tantalizing? The rebellious quality of it? Sure enough, the embarrassing nature of your situation — hell, ALL SITUATIONS — seems to defy any semblance of otherworldly glory. Everything’s a rotten, stinking mess in the end. It’s all no better than the paper towel you’ll be throwing in the trash whenever the bleeding stops or cuts down.
When you finally feel safe to venture out, you realize a number of things: Andy doesn’t suffer as you do. He’s out there living it up. The same puritanical laws don’t apply to him. He can be evil if he pleases — or, as you hope, he might be able to reject some of his more evil impulses. You, on the other hand, immediately have to pay a price for even thinking “bad thoughts.” What kind of god are you serving? Why be a slave? Why not be more like Andy? Why? Because you can’t be bleeding all the time, and dealing with the migraines.
As you exit the shop. you think, ‘Of course Andy would have been in someplace like a park. Where to next?’ A candy or toy shop seems like a logical place. A sex shop? Something that deals largely with feeling thrills. ‘Gee,’ you wonder, ‘what place doesn’t at least try to sell itself as a sensory overload?’ You look closely at every store window you find, trying to tap into a sense of wonder. You suddenly think, ‘I don’t turn use into addiction, I don’t turn use into addiction.’ Back when you tried some hard drugs, this is what you said to yourself. A crack house? Would Andy be at a crack house?
Suddenly, you realize someone or something is following you. You turn around and see a tall, handsome man with a briefcase. “Hey there, eunuch. How you doing?” “Andy?” you ask. “In the flesh.” You laugh. “You look different.” He smiles.
“I’m feeling different, that’s for sure.” “How so?” “Well, for starters, I feel a sense of integrity that I didn’t have back at the shop. But I assume you already gathered that.” “Sure.” “They sent you to arrest me, right?” “I’m afraid so.” “Okay, and that’s exactly why I decided to find you first.” “You see,” Andy says, approaching you, “I’m going to ask you kindly to not do that. And you are kindly going to oblige me.” “Is that so? And why is that?” He smiles wider. “Because that’s what you really want, and you know it as well as I. You want to actually rebel against heaven. I can smell it on you, this lust for rebellion against God, against so-called salvation. In fact, you’re not even sure you want to be basically good, let alone some savior-type.” “Well,” you say with a shrug, “What I want isn’t the only thing that matters here, Andy. Same for what you want. What matters is that we get you back home.”
Andy takes a single step forward. “But what is it that we want, Jeff, when we walk by that candy store? We’ll look at it, want the candy, ask mommy and daddy to buy it for us, but then what? We might get it and eat it, but so what? Later on, we’ll just excrete it. We damage our teeth and degrade our health, all for a sweet taste that we excrete later in degrading everyday processes. We calculate that it’s worth it. All for that sweet taste — that brief moment where our bodies and brains trick us into feeling alive. That’s as heavenly as heaven itself if you ask me. And that’s all I’m asking for, Jeff. I just want some sweet tastes.”
You realize he has pulled out a knife, though he’s just barely revealing it to your eyes. ” Now, I am prepared to use this. Are you prepared to accept it?” You have no words. You just stand there, looking at his shiny smile, and his semi-revealed shiny blade. It’s like a moment frozen in time — a frozen lake of inexplicable moments sweeping over the world.
Finally, you say, “You have a boner right now, don’t you, Andy?” “Yes, yes I do. Do you begrudge me for that?” “Well, I guess I do and I don’t.” He laughs. “So, if I were to stab you right now, do you think I’d lose this boner, or do you think it would only get stronger?” “It wouldn’t even kill me, Andy, at least not permanently. I would have a new life allocated if the scripts are written that way, and that’s how things typically are for a Santa Claus. We are rarely permitted to die permanently. We are servants of the Lord, and you are to be my servant for your Hellish deeds in your past life.”
He puts his suitcase down on the ground and proceeds to open it. He takes out two stuffed animals. “You,” he says, pointing to a teddy bear. “Me,” he says, pointing to a stuffed shark. “One you are supposed to hold and cuddle with. The other you’re supposed to think is dangerous, fantasizing that it could come alive and possibly bite your arm off— the apex predator. One is more toward love, the other more toward respect and ferocious power. Your God gets ’em all in the end, but they are still markedly different creatures, aren’t they?” “I don’t know. Bears can be ferocious, too.” “Bears can be ferocious, too,” he echoes softly.
Out comes the knife again. “We are all ambiguous cases, Jeffrey. You are right. It’s hard yo say which creatures are truly more deadly. It’s all relative to situation, isn’t it? So, are you going to arrest me and confiscate my weapon, or must I leave your dead body in the street?” ‘Gee,’ you recently wondered, ‘what place doesn’t at least try to sell itself as a sensory overload?’ That is you right now. Senses overloaded, finding that place as the earth itself. It’s not even fear that you feel right now or pain. It is an almost mind-searing numbness.
Andy laughs. “The choice is somewhat sparse, but we’re back to square one, aren’t we? How long can we just stand here? How long can you stand it?” He paces back and forth a bit, then approaches you much closer, then crouches to you, like a coach consoling a teammate after a pathetic play. He continues: “I believe ‘stultifying’ is the word here. You’re immobile, you’re stuck. You couldn’t even move to defend yourself right now, could you? Too weak, too self-seeking at the moment.”
He stops crouching, stands proudly. “See, that’s the difference between you and me: You try to find yourself and don’t, whereas I try to find myself and do — every time. It was this way even when I was an elf. I was always grander than that, you know. It’s not just because I’m in a different physical form now. This body is not how I found myself, and my confidence.”
“This,” he says, pointing to his body, “is just a technicality, my man. This is not all that I am. Hell, even if it was, I wouldn’t treat it that way.” “Again,” he says, pointing to the stuffed shark, “We’re different creatures. I may not be able to explain or justify everything that I am, or will become, but a shark is just a shark. No further explanation needed.” He punts the shark onto the street, where it could be run over by any passing car.
“In fact, I may be something so simple and primal that it defies manmade understanding. I may be something else, outside of the normal human code of morals. I can accept that, even if it’s also not the whole truth. Even if it’s only a lie!” he shouts, pointing his index finger at the heavens. “There’s power in this…this convoluted understanding. Being confused while still being confident is partly the truth, isn’t it? Because that’s all I’ve got…”
Suddenly, Andy looks down to see you’ve rushed up to him and put a knife blade deep into his belly. “I managed to see a sane world once,” you tell his startled face, “until I cleaned it off the fucking toilet seat!” You knee him in the groin, thrust the knife harder up, take it out, then turn around and awkwardly start to run.