This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
by Jeremy Hight
Be About It Press, 2014
He did it. He actually did it.
James Aronton spun his wheel of chance. He threw it all in and went for the random. He put in random
coordinates to see what gps would say like how his father had spun the dials on slot machines, the way his
great uncle erased himself that year. He gave math his days, his throat to throttle , his faith and his loss of
sense of the world and he typed the numbers in.
James 35 years of him , 4 jobs and 2 careers of him, an almost marriage, 5 pairs of shoes , 4 pairs of pants
of him, scabs on his arm from anxious picking, sweaty brow from well , many things , he did it. He typed in
numbers and something came up.
He had lost another job. He had done nothing wrong this time, just , you know the economy they told him.
His marriage had almost happened the way the clouds on the mountains in the summer when he was a kid
sometimes just grew to almost rain then eroded away. He could get another job, it wasn't so much that. He
had more years to maybe love again, it wasn't like that was erasing him clean and gone, more like it didn't
help. He was more just wary of the world. Not a bit , not a crumb, but all of it, the whole damn thing. The
whole dirt ball spinning in a black void. The whole buzzing hive of news from celebrity botox to wars and
eroding privacy and just the amount of things he could tick off on any given day from his old comic books as
a kid, the evils and darkness , the villians , freak storms and scary monsters possible in the years ahead.
James had coordinates now. Numbers. He also somewhere out there, naked and maybe a cliff or hole, he
had a place. It was crazy he thought. The next thought however came again like a train with no brakes or
some other such metaphor. This repetition surely might mean something by the very nagging nature of it. It
varied but was something to the effect of do something weird for once, commit to this random thought you
coward. It could just be another dead end, another thing he would have to just tuck away and move on. It
also could be something random for once amongst that litany of crappy world news and low buzzing anxiety
everyone he knew that admitted to it also felt like gas in the belly, a dull hum out the window from
something out of reach.
He got on a plane knowing that it could be nothing or a hole, the maps only showed roads and a reservoir,
not town, no city, no places to pin his trip on let alone the odd thoughts that drove this crazy idea into being
and motion. He arrived at the nearby airport. The flight took hours to this area outside a town outside a city
in another country here all to be left unnamed. The coordinates will never be told either. This is a story not
of cold statistics, the dead things and letters of specific Google searches and naming. This is about
He arrived at another airport. Emerged from one tube into a hot dry afternoon like the one he left but
thousands of miles of some measure away. He got in a taxi with a certain name in a certain language and
rode along streets with long names that will not exist in this text. He chatted with the driver about random
things as they bounced along the imperfect streets. He arrived at a hotel with a name given a certain
measure of years before to honor the legacy and name of a once important man long dead. His room had
scented soaps in the simple bathroom. The room number was something between one and a thousand that
he knew he would forget at some point long after returning home. Or not. Either way this made him very
happy indeed. It is a number that will go away he thought grinning as he turned on the t.v to a show he did
not understand in the slightest. This too was wonderful.
He had enough of information, of things, of big data, of the compressed world of bad news and scary things
out of old comic books possibly becoming real. He was sick of no one he knew (himself included) ever
getting lost, ever not having answers to that odd mental itch within reach. He also had had enough of that
ugly hum, that stomach churn , that general unease many had come to share it seemed.
He eventually fell asleep and had a series of dreams. One had bright colored birds. Another had a woman he
once loved when he was a school boy. Another had a long narrative about maps and paperwork and a new
smart phone app that allowed desk work to be in a game. All of this too I will forget he thought smiling as
he awoke to a sunny town with a name of some number of letters, a breeze fresh with a tropical rain he
dreamed straight through earlier in the morning hours.
He later awoke, showered with water from pipes and maybe even a stream or aquifer or at the least a dam in
a place spun random to him as though a dot on a slot machine made as town and its details. He lathered
his hair with a shampoo that had a picture on it of an animal with a name he could not understand. He could
go to his smart phone to Google translate it and much more but no one saw him ditch it out the window of
the cab a day before.
He ate fruit and meat and bread, downed cups of coffee and watched a man frantically text on a phone a few
tables away. That could be my doppelganger over there if I cared he thought as he slowly ate a piece
of meat, cutting it into random shapes with his knife as he watched. The man kind of looked like him , kind
of did not, but there was something to those flying sausage fingers, that slight grimace that rang the usual
bells. The man was a math book in that moment, a map, an inbox glaringly made overly urgent and of flesh.
The suit fit the man poorly, but what does fit pure data he thought as he pitied the man and felt squalls of
a kind of rolling satisfaction to having nothing. This too was wonderful.
He walked past the collapsing dams , the train wrecks, the ships sinking of giant digital clocks, of ads for
gps , for high speed rail in some near by town, for more memory, for the flurry of dumb birds of things, of
having , of speed, of the stabbing needles of urgency and that impotent modernity. He walked on , refusing
cabs with flashy names and colors, passing buses with surely wondrous air conditioning and wifi. He
walked along a bridge with a name of certain collided syllables that he would have known had housed many
suicides if he brought his phone. He walked on toward the spot he had long before mapped, kind of.
He had checked and found that the gps coordinates he spun randomly back in San Francisco were a certain
general area west of the highway and walkway of this town in this country in this other climate with certain
variables a weather app would surely have hummed in his ear at some point in the last 48 hours, gleefully
presented graphics of fog , rain and temperature ranges, a vivid mundanity. His phone was tossed out of a
cab, cracking on impact, stolen. Stripped for parts, beheaded by some kids. He knew none of this, the
whole little narrative not a source for panic , more a distant dead satellite in another far off orbit. He walked
past certain landmarks, one had a place to take photos. He did not stop but did marvel at a cloud that
looked just like a turn signal.
He came to a construction site surrounding a near empty reservoir. The men were eating lunch. He climbed
over a rusty fence and almost fell down a steep hillside near barren with a few plants. A corner of the hill
someone had covered in metal from bent clearly stolen street signs welded together upside down. This will
be it he thought, dirt flying behind his a bit too quick for the steepness steps as he raced faster and toward
this simply existing, somewhat obtuse thing. I never would have been here. This all has been around
while I did god knows what amongst it all back there he thought with a tiny smile This is not the grid
or a hot spot, there is nothing to name here .
He sat down in the loose dull soil and stretched out, his legs relaxed as the men looked over and did not
care, they had those things to do in their day.
This is the spot. I am here . I am precise and nowhere at all.
He kicked some dirt in the nameless hill by the highway with that name made of a certain prescribed
number of letters and knew he could return home or never come back. He could follow names or not, he
could have a kind of muscle in that spam in his skull, he could even exercise it , make it stronger.
I can allow myself to forget.
And thus came the pivot that was but a moment on some hill while someone called his phone about
something important and Facebook buzzed away in his absentia like some distant fire.