The buildings stretch into the haze and all seem to say to Jay "No". Reflex grey smog chokes the tall buildings in and around Century City and the glare from the sun washes everything out in a blankness and it all feels apocalyptic in some vague way, like the feeling one gets when they're in a cleared room vacant on moving day - Jay feels like he's in a never before seen scene from Blade Runner - perhaps a deleted one, the only which takes place during the day.
Floating down the boulevard, everything around Jay seems to have nothing to do with him, and nothing is for him. Jay spots a tall blond girl who looks like Tom Petty, but in a good way - some young lass, who would have been too young for him even a decade ago and she languidly walks alone in front of Sky Lane Plaza in some capricious way only a Californian is really capable of and as she passes him, it just simply seems like more visual confirmation of the sea of archetypes of women Jay will never get to experience or have or touch or swim in as Jay is keenly aware that it's all passing him by.
But Jay drives past her in the Volvo and still keeps his eyes on her too much, so much that it's now a liability for everyone. As she passes his line of sign, he holds his gaze until she is cast out of peripheral. Jay reminds himself with the delusion, like he usually does, that in some alternate universe they could actually know each other, and he comforts himself with the idea that if he went up to her now, any trepidation or hostility he would have encountered from her could be seen as reassuringly quaint, safely irrelevant or even absolutely charming because she simply wouldn't recognize him now because of what reality she currently was locked inside - she, just another replicant who's memory was no longer, and this was pretty much how everyone walked around LA now.
But this wasn't It's a Wonderful Life, it wasn't any movie really, and if it was a movie about Jay, it probably hadn't even begun yet, he thought. It was as if his character existed in the off screen time before the period in which the movie was depicted, or perhaps maybe the movie simply had just ended years ago - ended too short as to end on a good note, at the height of Stereo or maybe it was simply just the interim period of off screen time which passed between part one and sequel.
If there was a sequel to the movie adaptation to Jay Lee's life, it was probably worse than Back to the Future II. And anyways, when could Jay actually begin to live his life? While he languished away on the tamed coast, senselessly busy preoccupying his mind with pondering useless tidbits like if it was possible to grind a handrail so hard that one would completely stop and rest on the rail, Templeton was out of LA doing very real, very seemingly significant things of historic proportion. For one, Templeton was working on some project which seemed to lie somewhere between art and technology and necessity invention and natural and supernatural law - something buzzed termed, lighting international media news group switchboards, coined term"The Next Bible". Although Jay read about it a few times, he still had a vague notion of what it actually was - a book without pages but still having pages, a book which constantly changes and updates but also stays the same, a book where everyone's a character in some continuous narrative also containing every existing location in there everywhere, all current and even future information, every variation of all useful knowledge available to utilize for free for application, problem solving, medicine, technology and thought poetry and new enlightened philosophy, all which was understandable and not tangled in didacticism, all such enlightenment lacking any isolating academia pretense, all lies and untruths syphoned out in some type of instantly effective Darwinian selection criteria, stories all powered by the living and the dead and the psychic ghosts of this thing called the internet or whatever else this internet actually was, - "The New Bible " was something that would perpetually cast King James as shadowy relic - this, the perfect pop product.
But here and now, what was really the right thing to do? Dreading going into the office on such this purgatorialy hellish weekday morning late, even now Jay still randomly thought about Heather. And what would Heather have to say about Jay's current predicament? Jay could only imagine a hypothetical confidence he would gain from her viewpoint, like he was talking to a ghost, as she would no doubt think it all such utter total bullshit. If Jay acquired osmotic energy from Heather, Jay would be less wary returning to the Skatemental offices off Katella, as Heather could no doubt put it in perspective - and even if Jay had had Heather, the gravity of this Mental nonsense he was facing would seem to matter less now anyways. In all his naïveté Jay still insisted on mentally returning back to her, but at least he was able to imagine such hypothetical unconditional happiness based upon the sole condition of Heather and although just illusion, being able to imagine a fool's optimism was all not all completely a bad thing.
I don't know why I held out so long for me and you.
But here he was on his way late again to the office and he hadn't spoken with Heather in years. When technology had arrived and was now everywhere, Jay could grab a piece of plastic from his pocket and reach Heather miles upon miles and miles away, in real time- but it didn't matter. The very real problems of human relationship,and everything and all that went with the heart, that which had already existed since forever, still trumped all new technology available. Such an imagined phone call out of the blue seemed eminently so disappointing, because after all, Heather had always been such a grand disappointment anyways - so how could she not be now? There seemed no way for Jay to really reach her and it went well beyond just waiting a year, or a month, a week, all day, or until tomorrow. Jay would hypothetically procrastinate in un-trumpable anxiety (because these stakes were the only game in this cosmos for him). After he was done shaving, Jay would promise to call her . Then done shaving, he would only take a tablet from his medicine cabinet, close the door of the chest gently, go over to his bed in the dim room, the only illumination from a solitary bedside lamp - Jay placing the tablet in his mouth and swallowing it with the silent glass of water from his night stand, pushing himself against the wall while still on the bed, to just stare and sit alone and not ever call her.
Jay found a parking space at the edge of the shrubbed lined lot in the morning light and randomly thought about a video game from his childhood, Dragon Slayer, a two token arcade game where instead of standard 8-bit animation, the game was composed of Disney drawn celluloid from a seemingly non existent full feature length movie - a clumsy yet slightly endearing horse faced knight was faced with rescuing his queen damsel from the depths of booby trapped fortress. Although the graphics were dazzling, the frames on the cartoons seem mostly looped and it was impossible to tell when and where the screen's actions were effected by the control's movements. When the knight fails and falls for the traps, there's a shot of him facing the player, turning into bones and skeleton, withering into dust. Somehow there was some connection with this and Jay's current plight in Los-Strangles.
Jay is walking towards the back door of the office and randomly thinks about the line in Point Break, where Patrick Swayze says to Keanu Reeves: "It's like acid in your mouth." and he still quite doesn't know what Bodie meant by that, but walking through the back door, he still felt like he was about to jump out of a plane.
Where the name of the game used to be procuring against harshest controlled environments a minimum of three and a half to five minutes of simulacrum covey footy every video cycle for each respective sponsor, today Jay was now having an increasingly hard time just being himself, judging that whole damn Mental office situation scene so accordingly. Most of the problem was Jay had so many grievances he didn't even know where to begin and if he could begin, he probably wouldn't know where to take it once he got started. Like what about the time when Jay went out of his way, on his own volition, took it upon himself to go ahead and color correct the rest of the proofs for Goofy campaign and no one even said thanks or anything for helping get them in before the first round of bids for the media buy out? And what about when Reese was such a dick about it, in a conspicuous way that Jay let Reese slip by getting away with it, Jay not saying anything or not so much even checking Reese. Jay was in sales and not the art department, after all. Jay didn't take himself seriously, after all . WHY WASNT JAY STILL PRO? Why did he seem to insist upon succumbing to those so shallow depths of the dreaded office space on Katella Ave? How defective must Jay really be? It's not like it never occurred to Jay that people may not really take him seriously and maybe Jay didn't take himself seriously enough in some regards . Or maybe Jay was too serious. But then again, this is LA we are talking about after all, a place where everyone so seemed to place value upon lesser things for their weakest of reasons and Jay well knew he was privy victim to that.
And what was professional skateboarding, anyways really? One gets good enough to get paid to practice rollerboarding, to learn in front of the camera, in all their damn covey footies. Where does learning on the job stop and actual professionalism begin? And how quickly was Jay still learning at whatever it was he was now doing? Was it enough? And would anyone even really want to watch him learn anymore? It's not like Jay got to segue out of the game in such a classy way like Tempster did and now Jay felt closer to snaggle tooth Andy Roy - that is, minus the heroin. Everyone now just got too good or cycled out or burned out or quit, or no longer cared or simply found something else. The accounts, the sales became Jay's public domain and in his heart he really just didn't give a shit anymore. He most obviously didn't think it was the end of the line for himself, but in the mean time he could still feel like pauper amidst peers, Jay nearly homeless, placed against such narrow minded paradigms of success the Action Sports Retailing Association, the swagmen of LA - what the whole damn industry propagated, set value on. Sure Jay still had talent, there was no doubt about that, but now Jay needed help, maybe even a help he had never really ever had yet - MAYBE there was something else.
Lamonte was sitting in front of the ox shell table in the lounge between the cubicle village and the conference room. Although Jay had dreaded what would transpire today, he saw Meagan, and Wade and Eric and Juan standing around casually around Lamonte and Lamonte was thumbing through some Power Edge and as usual he had everyone's attention; the whole group not working and the general vibe seemed so that there was nothing for Jay to really worry about - which was the deceptive quality of all offices and after all, this was the Mental office - a place where everybody's friendly but nobody's friends.
Jay enters realizing he's walking right into a punch line.
". . . so then the rabi says'Well, who died and made youuu Channy Jeanguin'!" Announces Lamonte and everyone's harmlessly laughing except Meagan.
Meagan is still smiling though, and pauses to herself with her eyes closed as if reflecting to herself, slow to get it and then the punchline finally hits her in the same automatically frugal predictable Meagan way, which could be both annoying and alluring, and she chuckles to herself as the seemingly authoritative final confirmation Lamonte was being funny as usual - the novelty of small jokes seemingly the cardinal virtue at the Skatemental offices.
Jay wanting nothing of such office camaraderie, as he knew his visa here had expired or was about to expire, rushes through the room obvious, but as if no one was going to notice this.
"Tawdeee, taudey, tardie, there aren't we Jay." Says Lamonte in his usual wackly charismatic tone.
When normally Jay would have made some cutting rejoinder, he simply rebuffs Lamonte and says nothing, tries to make it out of the room before Lamonte can get another comment in, though he knows this will only further provoke Lamonte in front of the staff.
"Hey, Jay you know where I can get some unlimited edishen cruiser decks?"
Jay with his army surplus jacket back towards them turns around, "Shut up Lamonte!" Jay already fuming too soon.
"You see that, Wade? That's what drugs does. It turns people into little pricks!"
"Yeah, Lamonte, right - little pricks" Wade sniggering, jocking Lamonte hard.
Jay turns around, "Sorry Lamonte, I'd love to stay and chat, but I got some work to do? You know actual work? Some sales calls?"Jay saying this in such a obviously contrary to how he really felt feigned way, making it sound absurd that anyone could actually take pride selling Skatemental to their vendors.
"Just might make it in time before the markets in Japan close." Jay, adding kinda wackly, coming off a bit self righteous, predictably alluding to the Supreme account, which he always held close to his chest like an ace or life raft.
Jay makes his exit towards the haven of his cubicle.
"Little nigger walks around here like he's George Powell . . .", Lamonte chewing on his overgrown pinkie nail in a defensive way he wasn't quite aware of.
Meagan stands in the doorway of Jay's sad swag sales cubicle, looking like a hundred and seventy five thousand bucks. Jay has on the headset mic which came with the desk, even though he has never used it nor ever actually would but was wearing it for some reason he couldn't quite fully understand - maybe it was a form penance or it just looked funny because it's unlikely and it's probably his last day anyways and maybe he's also kind of punishing himself for all the fuck ups that may or may not have been his fault.
"What happened what."
"Don't act like you don't know. The two pallets of your cruiser decks. Daniel told me everything."
"Don't act like you didn't know a second one was coming. It came first thing this morning when you weren't here - the UPS guy was waiting before we got in. I wasn't expecting anything coming in today, so imagine my surprise once we got it in and I had Daniel open the crate. Even before he told me, I knew it was you. Then he showed me the first crate you hid out back."
"Oh . . ." Said Jay realizing right as he was saying "Oh", he really should have not bothered saying anything as it was useless and probably illustrated further incompetence.
"So, please - I know you don't can't respect yourself, be honest with yourself - but can you please tell me what happened." Meagan saying this in a simple textbook way any Jane Q Miller Lite would talk to anyone in such predicament, but Jay felt it was too overwhelming to point out anyways, seeing the urgency of the situation.
" I have no idea. I really think it was just like a typo on the purchasing order or something - that's all . . . I mean . . ."
Jay pauses at a loss and as the seconds of the blank of his explanation drain, he feels it taking away any sense of conviction which would convince Meagan otherwise, even though by this point there was really no way of swaying her.
"Well, then who did, Jay? Some magical little Skatemental elf who comes in at the middle of the night and orders three thousand limited edition Jay Lee cruiser decks!?"
"It's not three thousand- it was like twenty four hundred" Jay feed up, feeling compelled to argue against any inflated arguing detail, even though now it really didn't matter.
"I mean give me a point break . . ." Jay brazing his beard as to comfort himself.
"No, not give me a break . . ."
"I honestly didn't inflate the order that much!" Jay saying "honestly" in a way which accidentally alluded that what he normally said to be untruth. "I promise the purchasing order got loused up some how. I mean, I usually order an extra 20 or so, just for fun to sell off! That's all.There's no way I could have accidentally ordered that many because of how the boxes are on the form - it's impossible and then for the wood shop to just pull the trigger like that and not call to confirm! Something's going on . . ."
"With you nothing is impossible. You probably added a couple of extra zeroes on it somehow."
"Where's the purchasing order? I bet you, it's not even in my handwriting . . ."
"Well, you're always high all the time . . . Don't you think . . ."
"I don't care how high I get, the boxes - ya know . . . that you use to like fill in the quantity on the purchasing order for those decks makes it fool proof that that type of thing doesn't happen?"
"Almost fool proof."
"Oh, please . . ." Jay says as he notices the slight swath of panty exposed between the baby fat of Meagan's hips and her jean - Jay thinking that that area could be classified a patch of heaven, which kind of makes sense because that's the same area where souls are created. Even now, especially now, Jay would give anything to just give it to Meagan right there. But besides her being married, any logistics towards sex with her seemed impossible even in fantasy. Sometimes though, Meagan genuinely fascinated Jay and he had a fatal weakness for a certain type of pragmatic, micromanaging babe like her, and the only instinct he had with interacting with her was to walk away, have her come to him, fuck her, walk away again, hate her again, fuck her again, have her leave and hate her some more - but this would never happen with Meagan. Titles rushed towards Jay indicative of prevention of any pervasion of fantasy; Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now, Your Cheatin Heart, A Place Where We'll Never Go -A Place Where We've Never Been, Women Make a Fool Out of Me, No Where Fast, You Win Again, You're Living All Over Me.
"Well, Reese found out and he's pissed. I don't know how he's going to handle this."
"Oh Reese is pissed. Reese is pissed."
"This really might mess things up . . ."
"That's Larry and Janet's problem now. Anyways, they must have some kind of business insurance?"
"Business insurance?" Meagan repeating as to stress what seemed such a ludicrous idea.
"Well, if they're still riding on to flip net thirty, then that's their bad. I know I can sell some of them off anyways, spray paint the rest? I don't . . ."
"I can't believe what I'm hearing! No, you know what? I can, actually. When are you going to become a man and grow up." Meagan making the predicable comment question which challenges what is ostensibly the krux of being male, in the same hypocritical way only a woman is able to - the same easy, un-thought out, obvious way to cut a guy down. It's not like Jay would ever call a woman "fat", just because things weren't going this way. It's not like Jay goes and accuses menopause on a woman he's pissed at, and Jay always couldn't see how saying "When are you going to be a man?" being much different.
"Grow up? That's pretty rich coming from an office manager for a glorified toy company."
"Well, Reese and Larry need to see you . . ."
"Oh, Reese and Larry . . . Reese and Larry . . ."
Jay gets up and intentionally bumps up against Meagan standing in the entrance of his old cubicle, in a sexually frustrated, slightly angry way, that isn't that big of a deal and Meagan seems aware of this and let's it slip by, revealing that she doesn't totally hate Jay's guts and for the most part thought he was an okay dude.
Jay knows Reese is in his office because the door is closed and he just opens the door without knocking and just walks in. Reese is behind his desk in the glass office and Larry is sitting in the defense zone chair directly infront of him. Reese and Larry stop and look at Jay with worried looks on their faces, because Jay caught them off guard - it obvious they were caught pow wowing what to do with the Jay mess.
Balma appearing to try yet again to come across approachably casual, like some seemingly down to earth untucked mogul - cluelessly is wearing a Fender T- Shirt as if most music which comes from such an instrument doesn't totally suck. But Balma is simply just another baby boomer more than getting by - a child of the age, entitled to all culmination of prosperity the history of the world has begotten thus far, a master of the universe baby boomer entitled to it all, who would or could even stake some indelible claim, could even insist music starting and ending with his generation's boy band, the stupid Beatles. And now he may cast his hand and leave his own blighted prints upon the increasingly sink muck that is the Skatementals, the hole making industry, action sports in general, skateboarding, America.
Reese for some reason is also wearing a companion CBGB shirt to Larry's Fender T, as if this somehow was coordinated unspoken. Reese, also like Larry could in no way not be able to lie further from whatever spirit of the tired, old, punk medleys, he imagined or wasn't capable of imagining, the kind he naively celebrated and Jay knew Reese was actually kind of pretty late in the game now just getting around to listening to the New York Dolls and Jay knew that was only because Reese saw it in the new Bucky Lasek street part promo cartridge.
"Oh, you're in trouble, mister, big trouble. "Says Reese with his knitted minors cap on, which automatically notifies Jay that Reese was not messing around today.
"Really? In trouble for what Reese?" Jay, not sitting down.
"Oh, I don't know. Fraud? Conspiracy? Misallocation of corporate funds? False advertising towards our vendors? To name a few? Pick one."
"It was a fucking typo. So sue me. I don't have any money anyways."
"Oh, believe me- We'll still be taking action!"
"God, what a couple of lightweights." thought Jay as he was getting threatened by lawsuit again, it all, everything making him feel like a broken windlass when he sighs.
"And what the hell was that little show with you and Bastien at ASR?"
"Hell, I dont really know - some Exit strategy, I guess."
"Well whatever, that was . . . that was . . ."
"Was Bastien snorting zombie dust?" Balma finally saying something, asking in a way that sounded like some clueless high school counselor trying to sound hip, up with the times.
"Uh, noooo . . .",Responded Jay over incredulously.
"Really?" Reese asking as if he actually had a clue.
"It was just colas, man . . ." Jay trying to defuse the situation, sitting down and slinking back in the chair, kind of down playing it and riffling for his cigarettes in his jacket eventhough he knew there was no smoking in Reese's office, answering in some resignation that made his disclosure sound harmless or quite common.
"What?!" Snapped Reese, completely loosing patience.
"Cola!" Jay snapped back,"It was just colas . . .", Jay pauses.
"He was getting yacked out on Mercs, maaan . . . Uh, we both were", Jay trailing off.
" . . . he just wanted me to skate during his demonstration routine, that's all . . ." ,Continues Jay.
" . . . Look, I had no idea he was gonna be ripping lines off the DJ booth pyramid in front of everyone like that during my routine . . . I realize it was all kinda fucknuts . . ."
Reese and Larry saying nothing, if to strategically give Jay enough rope to hang himself, eventhough Jay was trying to be frank and all chill about it all.
" . . . Was kinda on some CBGB's shit, if you think about it . . .",Jay loosing any momentum he had, uselessly trying to put it into perspective in some optimistic way that he thought Reese and Larry might be able to understand, but didn't, couldn't.
"'Kinda on some CBGB's shit', Did you hear that one, Larry, ' Kinda on some CBGB's shit.'" Says Reese, deferring back to Larry.
"Kinda on some CBGB's." Larry squinting back authoritatively at Jay, as if he owned him, scruitinizing, with some wannabe Jack Palance type vibe, too soberly, as if to echo what he interpreted as absurd from Jay's statement.
"Well . . .", Jay now at a complete loss.
"Well, for one, CBGB's was always filled with exceptionally talented musicians, not coke freaks . . . not," Says Larry as clueless as ever.
"Not what, Larry?!" Snaps Jay.
"We need you out, Jay. You're goners- hasta la vista,bear." Interrupts Reese, trying to take charge.
"You're uh . . . out of the family." Continues Reese.
"Oh, 'Family' - yeah.", Jay.
Reese swipes his Superman bangs from his forehead, nervously, " Yes . . . Effective . . . Um, immediately."
"Yeah!? Well what about my accounts, Reese? How about those? Hauh? Supreme? The Stussies? Bui-yahkah! You can rest assured that they will be leaving with me."
"We'll get by, Jay."
Jay gets up, knocks down the Louis ghost arm chair he had been sitting in.
"Yeah, you know what? I'm gonna kick your fucking ass, Reese! How about that!? I'm gonna kick your fucking ass Reese!" Jay now in semi melt down, loosing any composure, it coming out sideways from pent up abuse but at the same time somehow also sounding slightly harmless.
Jay walks towards the door, stops, like something just occurred to him, turns around, "I'm gonna kick your ass too, Balma!"
"Are you verbally threatening me? I just want you to know my lawyer will be . . ."
"Your lawyer! Your lawyer Larry! Oh! wellllll. You know what Larry? Your lawyer can go fuck yer face!" Jay saying "fuck your face" eventhough under normal circumstance he would never insist on using such a tawdry phrase.
There's two sides to every story, but here that didn't much seem to matter.
As Jay stormed out, exited the torture chamber that was the Mental offices off Katella, mantra played upon his head, swimming in the immediacy of getting fired, leaving.
Give up your job, squander your cash.
Nature is a language, can't you read?
Anything is hard to find when you won't open your eyes.
"Just because you like some places or things or people doesn't mean they will like you."- though totally not the case with the Mental - it still may have still meant something about the city Jay loved so much, the whole coast, the west tamed land which so used to be wide open but had now become all locked down and Jay already was instantly thinking about what small amount of money he had in his bank account to cling to,when living in the most economically prosperous time in the history of the universe.
Life is hard enough when you belong here.
What is wrong with me?
It came down now to judging when and where it was Jay's fault, what he should take responsibility for. Perhaps Jay's external character was never or no longer was compatible with his inner self. Though such this end result was inevitable and the pieces would and had played out how gravity would dictate, Jay should accept himself, find where he can change and move forward. The Skatemental was the Skatemental and it was over now. Reese and Larry and Brad and Carroll and Dorfman would still prosper because they found their stake to claim - claims so anchored in reality such, that they would all still stick and override all other sins - sins others would never get the luxury of committing and not be penalized for, and all those in action sports retailing would get away with them all and still thrive: the satanically hideous flyers, the ill conceived ads, the second hand embarrassing edits, the press releases of hypocrisy, the terrible chiller photos, all the pro's insignificant decking gyrations, the honky grinds sold to chilblained lamestream, the empty generation wuss lifestyle ideals, the cheesy fake technology gimmicked hard goods, the running of Ams into the ground and discarding them before the demand to turn them pro would come so that they were used merely as agents of free promotion for the brands that wasted seas of sheets of magazine paper, the syphoning off Pro's pay with extra superfluous fees which would allow for missteps and inevitable tax liability for contract workers, the reps mixing the coke with the marijuana - telling endangered pros it was always going to last, more terrible deck campaigns, more absurd video concepts and edits, premiers where Marc Johnson's pussy would bleed into the Sunset Strip - where he got all that he wanted and more and wins at skateboarding and they all would still pander to him throwing fit - "Family in it Together" that is, Danny Way and Josh Swindell beating up and killing the gay boy but it was somehow still okay, all those who would come up and then bully those friends who had helped them rise up in the ranks and those same friends only finding themselves now a level on the food chain below said bully of what made up the great human shit pile, and ofcourse all the hypocritical pussy that became the spoils that went with it all and seemed so to define everything.
Jay walks over to the Volvo in the parking lot, gets inside, pauses to himself, puts the key in the ignition, starts the car, waits and drives away.