WE SAT AROUND, ABOUT 11 OF US, IN COLD BROWN METAL FOLD-OUT CHAIRS on the third floor of a shitty building in a shitty part of town—all of us with drunk-driving offenses (most of us multiple offenders) and/or in drug and alcohol recovery programs. We sat facing each other in a small, stuffy room in Westlake, near McArthur Park. After last week’s video showing of The Secret, with the if-you-think-it—it-will-happen bullshit still fresh in our pickled brains, the counselor asked us what we wanted from life. If we had less than 30 days to live, what, then, would we do?
Instantly, I had an answer.
We started going counter-clockwise. After a deep moment of silence and thought-searching, the first person said that he’d mediate and exercise more. No one believed it but we didn’t call him on his bullshit. The next person said that they’d want to be with their loved ones and family—to spend and savor each precious moment for its near-instant finality. Other people spoke on this, resonating the need to spend fleeting moments, passing minutes with people they loved. Fine, we thought. Precious moments, obviously. Nothing crazy. Makes sense.
Another person spoke.
“I’d get fucked up,” he said.
Everyone nodded, yup, goes without saying but needed to be said—especially considering the context of the meeting. Most of us have been in jail, some of us were going back to jail momentarily, and another portion of us were probably going to die in the very-near future from alcoholism or stupidity, or a combination of the two.
Someone else said that they’d want to impregnate as many women as possible so as to ensure future generations walk upon the earth carrying his blood. Someone else said that they’d travel, visit Europe, Africa, max out their credit cards, spend recklessly, not use protection during sex. Finally, it was my turn. I was the last.
“I would acquire two semi-automatic hand guns, a rifle or shotgun—preferably the USAS-12 South Korean automatic shotgun. Next, I’d visit my old boss up in Santa Clarita. After carefully monitoring his lavish home, I would break in, tie him up and his wife. I’d steal all the money from his home safe. Now, secondary scenario goes as follows: if I cannot get access to the safe, the break-in would turn into a kidnapping. I’d take the husband—my old boss—blindfold him, gag his small, fat, cheating mouth, sneak in a couple of much-needed punches, maybe snap off a finger or two and hold him ransom for $500,000. They would have to be in non-sequential $20 bills, of course. They would have to be in black trash bags. Now, naturally, the wife and family would refuse but I can’t lose. Either I get the money or I get to kill him. If I get the money, I’d pay back all the ex-employees that were unjustly terminated, pressured to quit in the past seven years. I would give each worker $20 to 25,000 in compensation.”
Eventually, someone chuckled and coughed.
by Anthony Spaeth
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