‘This doesn’t feel real.’ He said lifting me from my daydream.
‘What do you mean?’ I asked.
‘Sitting here in this place. With you. With us.’ He mumbled. ‘We’ve both changed so much and coming back to this place makes me feel strange. Sort of not real.’
‘Are you drunk off one beer.’ I asked in amazement. ‘You’re getting dangerously pseudo intellectual.’
In reality his words felt familiar to me. I had thought them many times myself. This place was an unreal place. A half reality. It was not quite alive, not quite dead. Not quite anywhere, and not quite nowhere. Halfway between the halfway between. Just outside of heaven and only down the road from hell. I can’t think of a metaphor for a halfway point between yin and yang but imagine that as well. The squiggly line maybe?
‘I may have acquired some merchandise from a bottle shop down the road actually. Around three this afternoon.’ He slurped at his drink.
‘I do know what you mean. It’s not the booze either. It is this place.’ I sighed. ‘Nothing ever happens. Nothing ever not happens. It’s like doing drugs for seventeen years of your life.’ I looked up.
‘Can I show you something?’ I asked. He nodded and we stood up. I noted the slight swaying as he followed me into the carpark.
We crossed the busy highway and entered the concrete courtyard. The same courtyard he had taught me to ride my bike in all those years before. I climbed the stairs and pulled out the key from under the mat. The door wasn’t even locked so I put the key back under the mat again. James hesitated at the door.
‘Relax, I’m not going to murder you or anything.’ I snorted. He stiffened strangely.
‘Just checking.’ He entered the crummy motel room slowly looking around.
The ripped couch in front of the TV had my little brother, Jay, lying on it snoring quietly. He had his headphones in and was wrapped up tightly in his Ben Ten blanket we had gotten from the warehouse for ten bucks. The apartment was littered with all sorts of things not worth collecting, empty jars, motivational quotes, even a incense bowl thing from when mum had gone through her buddhism stage. We made our way through the wreckage and I lead the way out of the window. I helped him hoist himself up onto the ladder, briefly wondering if it was a good idea to take a semi intoxicated person up onto a second story roof.
I shuffled over to the other side and sat down. The tiles were still warm from the sun even though it was nearly midnight.
‘This is where I feel the most real.’ I said quietly. I had never actually taken anyone up here before.
‘You can see the city.’ He gazed at the sight in awe.
From this height you could see over the slight hill that usually blocked the way. The city sprawled out in front of us.
‘It’s the light outside the cave.’ I half joked.
‘See that!’ He giggled in what I assumed was fake annoyance. ‘Casually referencing Plato's allegory of the cave in normal human conversation.’
‘Okay you need to let go of the fact that I’m obviously some kind of cyborg intelligence prodigee and just really try to think of me as just like you.’ I laughed. ‘But better. Ya’know...smarter. More self aware. Think of me as high awareness and yourself, a meger pleb as low awareness.’
I had been joking. But he was nodding his head in agreement.
‘Even if I am smart,’ I started, ‘It doesn’t help me. What does it matter if I like science and philosophy in this place.’
I threw my hands up in the air, my voice catching in the wind.
‘None of that shit helps me in this world. You don’t need to know how to live you just need to know how to survive.’ I choked. ‘That's all this world is, it’s surviving enough to survive another day.’
‘You like this spot because from here you can see your escape.’ He said quietly. ‘From here you can see the road that leads you far far away from The Grand Castle Motel.’