In The Wrong Universe

Of course I’m often surprised by the information I find on Tik Tok. Sometimes it’s despair inducing and other times it’s incredibly insightful. It’s a bit like going to an antique store or an estate sale. You find junk and you find treasures.

Someone was reading from a book describing the privileges experienced by what the author labeled upper-class professionals. He claimed that they don’t identify as rich because they don’t often own yachts. But their version of luxury is not having to worry about going to the doctor and figuring out how to pay for it.

…”To be honest, I don’t label myself as anything easily in regard to class because I do feel like an outsider to some degree in every class. I do know how to categorize myself objectively. But…the meanings get lost on me outside of altruisms, compassion and romantic, hopefully real, ideas of virtue and beauty.”

“She swings from the chandelier constantly in her mind. She even eats her breakfast up there, actually.” says Zelda. “She’s not bipolar. Just…herself.” She laughs.

“That’s what Lem couldn’t quite grasp.” says Truman. “She’s not tall. She’s just resting in the chandelier.”

“And as that goes, I might be in an adjoining chandelier in my mind.” says Michael. “Or was.”

“The thing is, I’m stuck up here now.” says Lacey. “I’d break my neck trying to get down.”

“You could shoot us down but that’s evil. You could get a tall ladder but that’s going to be burdensome and not necessarily useful.” says Michael.

“We keep each other company.” says Lacey.

“And try to be useful to people we observe as deserving.” says Michael.

“There are some of us who are very tall with invisible ladders who are working on being helpful.” says Lem.

“The thing is…I had a weird childhood.” says Lacey. “I grew-up in an apartment in a rich, white suburb. And I was cruelly bullied because of it. My parents made me wear jeans with patches on my knees to school. …I really was viciously bullied. …But, I never worried about money in a way appropriate to someone being bullied for the reasons I was bullied. It didn’t match. …My parents were very wise with their money. They made every Dollar turn into ten. Through what they understood. And so I played the beautifully made viola I owned. Had braces on my teeth. Took figure skating lessons. And planned to attend an Ivy League college… But, my parents were…complex. And instead of championing my attendance at an Ivy League school cruelly mentally and emotionally abused me for wanting to attend one. Well, my father who raised me did, and my mother pretended to be disdainful of his temper and inappropriateness. In her family going to an Ivy League school is lovely but a tiny bit suspicious.” says Lacey. “It’s not earthy and grounded enough to them, perhaps. You’re possibly fake and pretentious. Rare is the true intellectual.”

“And they always found her, even in her authenticity, suspicious.” says Michael from a neighboring chandelier.

“I guess, basically, I just don’t get it. I know the bullying. I know the pain of that.” says Lacey. “But I was being bullied by these people who hated me…so that wasn’t a reason to refrain from being harsh and possibly hurtful in my own defense.”

More in a bit.

“I mean it’s essentially like they started saying you were street trash for living in a chandelier. And that you were a homeless nobody. Right?” asks a middle-class white man.

“Yes. Except that didn’t bother me so much.” she sighs. “I could ignore that. And I did.” She calms herself to try to explain. “What frustrated me to exhaustion and made me angry was when they started threatening to steal my identity. Literally. Or metaphorically eat my brain while sadistically laughing at my worst abuse. One of them climbed up on a bunch of stacked boxes with a knife in her pocket and then pretended to be my friend. But it was stacked boxes and others were considering it too. …I knew I’d either be killed or finally figure out a way down to the ground. Not through her per se, but through figuring out her methods. …But something happened where I just gave-up and decided to start throwing light bulbs at people.” She thinks. “I tried to miss their faces and mostly just give them good scare.”

“So you just lost it.” says a perfume hater with potential sympathy.

“Yes. I don’t even know what it was. But in 2017 or 18 I snapped and found it too beguiling to refrain from throwing light bulbs.” says Lacey.

“You’d thrown lamp shades before.” says a hater.

“Mostly to amuse myself.”

“Why don’t you just weaponize the whole light fixture?” asks a cis female hater.

“I don’t want to disturb people to that degree. Or really hurt anyone.”

“Which is why you feel bad about our seating arrangements.” says a perfume hater.

“Why the hell did those people in the perfume community start getting so out of control?” asks an observer.

“They had ring leaders.” says Lacey.

“Yes, I bet they did.” she responds. “And I’m sure that was impressive to watch.” She smiles.

“Good times!” says a guy in empathetic understanding.

Lacey refrains.

“But sweetie, why…were you with those people?” she asks.

“Because of perfume.” says Lacey.

“Just the beauty and art of it?” she asks.

“Yes, as we discussed earlier on this blog.”

“So your father is either the great nephew of a knighted author of some historical importance? And rich now, regardless. Or…he was born in 1894. And if he was born in 1894…he was…raised wealthy or well-off. Not poor?” a guy asks. “Even is possibly from the old American elite. That started the country in New York City… But he abandoned that to be a bootlegger?!”

“If he was from that lineage he never abandoned it really. He just was greedy, power-hungry, brilliant and rebellious.”

“Except he lived with riff raff?” asks a perfume hater with a knife.

“No. He didn’t. He acted a little like a hoodlum in his style of dress. But my father who raised me used to drive him around in circles around lakes until he dozed off in the back seat like a stuffy gentleman.”

They all stare at her like she’s a bizarre creature from Mars. With a pretty face. A woman. A real female from Mars. They aren’t supposed to exist, it seems.

“And she’s straight too.” says the perfume hater with the box cutter.

“Wait!” says a woman observing. “Was she going to use the box cutter or the knife?”

“She’s a tactical genius, I guess. She must have been planning to use the box cutter in her escape down and attack with the knife?” posits Lacey, sarcastically at times.

“Hmm.” says a man analyzing it. It both bothers and intrigues him.

“The thing is, he wasn’t necessarily a mean person. Truly. His friends all loved him dearly. And if he’s my father, I think he likely regretted a lot of his machinations.” says Lacey.

“Are you a lot like him?” a woman asks.

“If I’m his daughter I’m probably a lot like him and his mother.” says Lacey.

“Okay! That’s enough!” says Lou’s brother.

“I really think he probably was a kind man though.” says Lacey. “Really.”

“Was he a Christian?” asks a Christian.

“Yes. He went to a Billy Graham Crusade and then later rededicated himself to Christ on his knees in prayer once when he was watching the televised Billy Graham Crusade alone. My father who raised me caught him praying.” says Lacey.

Silence.

“I think he was afraid of going to Hell. But not in a cowardly way. In a sort of hopeful, sad respect.”

“And your mom was a stewardess?” asks Michael.

“Seemingly. If I’m his daughter. I think so. But of course, I’ll have to do DNA tests when my parents who raised me die.” says Lacey hanging from the ceiling too.

“Rock on!” yells a middle-class observer. He fist bumps in the air.

“You’re not trying to do the white symbol thing?” asks a black woman.

He looks pale. “No!! Oh good Lord help us, no.”

“I certainly hope not too.” says Lacey.

“But the KKK materialized in your dining room to protect you from a black rapist who attacked a woman in your neighborhood and then ran through your backyard.” says a white woman. Just…rationally. “Don’t you like…owe them?”

“Yes. I probably do. But…I think they were doing charity work. Free of charge, so to speak. I mean, these were ghosts if not demons. And I imagine they’ve worked out all their conundrums with Christ. They likely…are trying to at least.” says Lacey.

“So they appeared in your dining-room?” they ask her.

“I was talking to Lem and Michael one night and I saw a man dressed in a KKK uniform by my dining-room window. He just stood there. Like he was guarding something.” she says. “It made me very uneasy.”

“And then the next night that man ran through your backyard. And the police blocked off the entire neighborhood. Because they caught him raping a woman.” says Michael.

“She was very secretly injured.” says Lacey.

Michael smiles empathetically.

“I feel bad for the black man too though. As evil as he chose to be.” says Lacey. “He must have a horrific existence at this point.”

They all think.

“Oh yes! Sympathy for the humans with stacked boxes, box cutters and a dream to climb up to the chandelier ghosts and kill them with a knife.” says Lacey.

“Are they jealous of our romance?” asks Michael of Lacey.

Lem looks confused.

“It could be me too. You’ve been accidentally writing about Lem and I since college.” says Lou.

“Yes! My Nanowrimo attempt. And then my short stories.” says Lacey self-deprecatingly.

“You hate block people!” says a drunk Liberal.

“You mean, black people?” says Lacey.

“Guck you!” he screams.

“She didn’t have a plan to attack Lacey.” says a perfume hater’s mother.

“Then why is she standing around in a theater underneath chandeliers with a knife? For hours?” asks Lou’s brother.

“I think she’s waiting for her to fall out of the chandelier.” says her brother.

“So she can mercy kill me with a box cutter or a knife?” asks Lacey, finding it annoyingly pointless.

“Yeah! Shit!” says a leader, agreeing with Lacey.

“What’s the point?” asks an Asian.

“Why does there have to be a point?” asks a white man covering for her.

“What does he stand to gain by covering for her?” asks Lacey. “Is he a pervert, a thief, a narcissist or what?”

“A thief!” says the leader.

“Interesting. I wouldn’t have chosen that one. But I saw it. It just seems too hopeful.” says Lacey.

“Because then I’m predictable?” he asks.

“Yes. In my mind. You’re a cliche.” says Lacey.

“And then that’s when Michael and Lacey realize that they are being watched.” says a ghost.

“They aren’t just standing there.” says Lacey.

“You knew they were watching us.” he says.

“Yes. But…I was waiting for the attack.” she says. “It made sense to me when she showed/up with a knife. I was prepared with lightbulb strategies.”

“I have bigger strategies.” he says.

“Yes, I bet you do.” she says.

He smiles.

“Does it involve lightbulbs? Or no?” she asks trying to be submissive, should that be best.

He smiles.

“Wait. So do they ever realize what it’s like being poor or not?” asks someone.

“The problem is…I can’t be you. I don’t get it.” says Lacey.

“Okay! So you always had a cushion. And you always had God. …Imagine you doubted God existed. Not like an atheist. Like a…lost child who never knew He existed. And then you were poor.” he says. He pauses…noticing Lacey’s expression. “You’ve imagined this haven’t you?”

“Yes.” she says. “I just don’t understand. Not their pain. But their feeling of justification in attacking me.” She thinks. “I mean, I get their pain. I’ve experienced it. I don’t get why they feel personally justified in attacking me. Especially the way they did.”

“Or just let you be angry?” he asks. “Like why couldn’t they just let you be grumpy?”

“Hey. Maybe they’re jealous of us?” suggests Michael.

“Yes! I did just want to be grumpy about feeling so used, lied to, pathologically copied, disrespected and mocked.” says Lacey calmly.

“Because they pretended to respect you and did. Probably deferred to you. Almost creepily so. But in the end they stabbed you in the back and then expected you to still pay extra?” asks the guy.

“They expected me to lick the dirty soles of their cheap, blood-stained, animal-cruelty-produced, Gucci shoes. That they wore like Puritans with axes held high in the air, waiting to drop on my throat.”

“Like Puritans?”

“Yes! Fake Puritans. 1800’s German immigrants dressed like Puritans to gain authority and street clout. The clout of impoverished Puritans while they shook their asses to attract birds, bees, bears, bats, and boys.” says Lacey.

“Boys?” he asks.

“Yes. Immature men.”

Silence.

“Sorry for using the word ass. Truly. It’s not a good thing to say.”

“Why did you have to attack with a knife?! And climb up on the boxes?” asks a perfume hater of another perfume hater.

“I didn’t do this literally. It’s just a metaphor on a blog.” she responds somewhat condescendingly.

“Why didn’t you talk this way to Lacey automatically?” she asks.

“I did. She put me in my place. And that’s why I was determined to win. Through any means necessary.” she says. Like a dead person.

Lem laughs.

“So she didn’t let you talk down to her like you like to do with everyone else. And you were determined to exact revenge?” asks another perfume hater.

“I have a confession.” says Lacey.

Lem smiles.

“I wasn’t completely honest. I…told her where the boxes were in that storage closet over there. They’re full of old programs and fliers.” Lacey looks sad. “I was worried she would hurt herself pushing them over here and then lifting them. But she’s in good shape, thankfully.”

“Oh no. That’s reasonable. That was your escape plan.” says a dude watching.

“Yes! And I thought she’d have a gun. Not a box cutter and a knife. I left that part out because I didn’t want you to assume her innocence, yet again.” She thinks. “Sorry for lying.”

Michael grins.

“Why…are you more concerned about a knife and a box cutter?” asks an observer.

“Time to get the trains.” says Louis

“We’re together. For eternity. You’ll see.” Lem says to Lacey. It sounds real.

Michael starts to cry. On his chandelier.

“Because guns kill quickly.” says Lacey. “Quicker than a dull box-cutter and that shabby knife.” She thinks. “Guns go boom. And you hurt but you die less painfully than by being stabbed watching yourself die.” She thinks. “It takes a very sharp knife of good size wielded well to be as merciful as a bomb or a gun.”

Michael yawns.

“Yeah, she’s right. I had to wrestle a German officer for hours over a knife in my house. And I survived. But think if I hadn’t. I’d rather have been blown-up.” says a woman from World War II. “Any day of the week.”

“Yes, well…exactly.” says Lacey.

Silence.

“Why the torture?” Lacey wonders. “She was never going to put me in my place.”

“Lacey, don’t lie!” says Kick.

“Well-“

“Lacey!” yells Joe Sr..

“What am I supposed to do? Break her delusional mother’s heart? Repeat back again how lowly she is compared to me?”

“Actually, I see what you mean?” says an Asian.

Lacey raises her hand in exasperation. Glad to be understood.

“The woman with the box-cutter seems autistic.” says someone observing. “The perfume haters all seem slightly autistic.”

“She might be? They could be slightly. It would somewhat fit. But she seems more narcissistic than autistic.” says Lacey.

“They could be both.”

“It’s like an inability to grasp that you can’t be made fun of the way she’s used to mocking her peers. Or her lessers in her own mind.” says someone.

“But they’ve framed me as the evil one. And everyone has followed suit.” says Lacey. “That’s…possibly autistic. I see your point. But it’s also narcissistic.” She thinks.

“Dammit!” says someone.

“What?” asks someone else.

“She’s just trying to get us to reassemble the boxes.”

“Except what she’s saying is true.” says the Asian man.

“I’d help you both, but…I don’t know how you both got up there.” says a black young man.

Lacey and Michael stay quiet. Out of respect.

“Listen, you’re not worthless humans. There are no worthless humans. But…you can’t force someone into having no free-will.” says Lacey to the perfume haters. “I can’t play along with your delusions. I can look the other way if it’s not hurting a minor, vulnerable adult, or etc.. But I can’t let you rip apart my mind and destroy reality to get off egotistically on your shallow delusions.” She thinks. “You went too far. You still seem to. It’s the oddest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“You know, there are people who are very smart in this universe.” says Michael.

“There are people very different from each other.” says Lem. “Not everything can be reduced.”

“Is it a terrorist plot?!” says Lacey smiling.

Michael cracks up laughing.

“They studied the communities online and found a way in through the perfume community.” says Lacey. “They knew how to maneuver it.” She sighs. “The problem is…it’s hilarious to me if that’s true.” Silence. “I don’t think they knew who I was. Apparently white people aren’t the only arrogant, ignorant people alive? Or what? They’re all Americans? Pissed-off, Southern-born, coal mining great grandfather, secret fast food eating, porn obsessed, shame-based, backward, lovable, obnoxious Americans.”

“You find Islamic terrorism American?” someone asks.

“Yes.” she says.

“That’s okay. There’s still European people. And African people. …But cool-kid-Americans do tend to be…loud worldwide.” says Michael.

“So we’re not alone?” asks Lacey.

“No. They’re watching.” says Michael.

The Muslims look sadly at Lacey.

“Why did you do this to me?” she asks.

“We abandoned you.” someone admits.

“We may have also missed something.” they say.

“Well, and maybe you’re not to blame. It’s unclear who is. But if it is was terrorism then…it’s unclear who the…box cutters are pointed at now.” she says.

“The dull, badly fashioned, absurd blades of…justice?” he jokes at that last word.

“Well, box cutters are useful. And I’m sure they’ve been used to exact justice. But yes. They seem foolish as a pandemic.” says Lacey.

“I hope it wasn’t a plot of Isis.” says Lacey. “I hope she acted alone.” says Lacey. “But if you’re not a demon. I suspect you all know. And…it’s too sad to think we ruined the world and made weird anti-American-non-American-Americans who want to exact revenge in some psychologically convoluted way on America. No, that’s depressing. So convoluted I’m getting giggly and sleepy thinking about it.” says Lacey to Michael.

“Sorry!” says Michael to the loving Muslims.

“Golly, they’ve made a mess of it. Isis. If it was them.” says Lacey.

“It’s all been ruined, I have a feeling.” he says.

She yawns.

“Well, I’m dead to the naked-eye. And you’re awake far too late.” he says.

“But neither of us are getting down from these chandeliers.” says Lacey.

“Some things are too real. And I love them. But then I feel lonely. And you aren’t down here.” says Lem.

“But it’s a chandelier not the mind of God, waiting to be made.” she says.

“Get your own chandelier, man.” says Michael.

“Or help us down.” says Lacey.

“The trains are here.” says Louis.