A Dirge for Cattle
All true events by Clutchy McGuiness.
It is 2014 and the American Dream is dead. It died a long, slow painful death over the past 30 or so years, receiving multiple organ transplants and blood donations, while on life support being occasionally resuscitated. As is usually the case in these morbid situations, people were getting rich from cutting, ripping, and auctioning organs like stocks given up by some naïve and altruistic now-dead donor. The same hospital in which I crawled out of the womb was the same hospital good ol’ Lincoln Land was rotting in. I was brought into the world right around this time three decades ago, and was able to witness this decline while also being told about how things used to be during the golden years; it’s been said that possibilities were endless. That you were limited only by your imagination. That you can own a house, start a family, get a good job, and live in relative peace, prosperity and freedom. Must have been nice. Now the walking dead are all trudging against natural logic, way past what Mother Earth would have allowed, working long hours for cars and homes that they’ll never own. Meanwhile Uncle Sam lay bleeding out in some dingy hospice room, while we were all continually told everything was going well with his recovery. Captain America gave up the ghost quietly and nobody even knew.
I’ve heard the term “arrested development” used to describe me and my maladjusted peers. The truth is, that I did experience an early life of arrested development, being literally arrested by lawmen multiple times while I was still just an impressionable kid. I am not asking for sympathy and I don’t deserve it. For every time I was caught and detained, there were a dozen times that I ran on foot and got away, I was fast and knew the layout better than most people. I wasn’t a bad kid, quite normal actually, it’s just that the intense scrutiny of the police state had just started to ramp up while every American citizen was being considered guilty until proven innocent, likely either a terrorist or a criminal. That’s just a little necessary background tidbit to set the stage.
After I graduated high school I was glowing with possibilities, full of grit and that die hard American spirit that entitled me to a big house on a hill. I was even convinced that I would be going to space one day. I debated going to art school because I was a gifted artist. I thought about joining the military for travel, adventure, and dangerous/challenging situations. Unfortunately I became taken in by some fake, predatory for-profit school promising a medical technical degree guaranteeing unlimited job security and torrents of money. After two years of hard work and 20 grand in debt, I traveled to South Florida for an internship in a small shop. I worked for a time with the shop, learning the craft, making synthetic legs that both looked and functioned much like the real thing, fitting and assisting amputees. The associate’s degree was in the field of orthotic and prosthetic technology, and I learned the craft of making fake legs for people who either lost a limb for some awful reason or a brace for someone whose bones weren’t working correctly. This specialized field was experiencing a sad and dramatic shortage of clientele despite the constant wars going on overseas; I surmise that most of these jobs were being monopolized by the military industrial complex at Walter Reed Memorial Hospital.
When I returned to my home town of Pittsburgh, I applied to every outfit in the western part of the state of Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh was supposedly a hub of medical innovation, or at least that’s what they told themselves. I never got a job in the field again after a year of searching and applying and interviewing. The next few years were especially disheartening, working odd and menial jobs. Getting a DUI and spending a year on probation and thousands of dollars I didn’t have to pay exorbitant fines to the state. My girlfriend at the time dumped me the day before I lost my driver’s license.
After moping around my home town for a few years I finally regained the hope and the will to succeed and put in some effort in life. I then went to school for psychology. I was utterly entranced with psychology, and dove into the deep end of the pool right away, attending lectures, doing research and writing lengthy papers. Graduated at the top of my class and went right to work for the biggest behavioral health organization in the city, working with a real great bunch of the city’s best and most distinguished schizophrenics, shamans, witches, psychopaths and addicts. I felt that this was what I was put here on the earth to do. Still, that was hardly enough to pay off the student loans that I was now buried under. More money was needed. I decided to go back to school for my doctorate. Still sprinting in a race against hordes of hungry, angry rats.
Soon I got accepted and about to yet another school, because it was my career path to become a doctor of psychology and develop my own unique and original theories on the dark recesses of the human mind. At the very last minute I decided to pull out because that scam school would have put me over $150,000 in debt of a fiat currency that was quickly becoming worthless. I could not do that to myself. This is not how human beings were meant to live; as modern slaves, brainwashed indentured servants paying just for some far off hope of freedom. Not me, I couldn’t do it. The thought of it made me sick to my stomach. There has to be some better way, a simpler, happier way to live.
So I continued to live around Pittsburgh, trying to find work, love, and happiness. I then fell into a toxic relationship with a woman who would test the limits of my sanity. Shortly after that, I was hit and run over by a dump truck and nearly died. As part of my recovery from so many broken bones I also developed a convenient and cozy habit with prescription painkillers and opioids Things got pretty bad for me at that time, trying to claw back from a traumatic near death experience is not easy, especially when caught in a whirlwind of equal parts nightmare and ecstasy, saturated with sex, drugs, alcohol, music, laughter and fighting. Things didn’t work out for that relationship either because according to her I was an alcoholic, psychopathic, abusive, mentally ill monster. She was still dealing with some severe daddy issues and was quite bad for me. My whole life unraveled and went down in flames at that time. Some bad juju had descended upon my current existence and I had to fight it. I was too stubborn to just give up.
My situation is not unique. There are legions of us, wandering around looking for what we were told about the land of opportunity; “the best country in the world!” they used to say. My situation is a template, a generalized theme, emerging from the lives of many people, usually smart and hardworking, formerly bursting with hope. I thought about suicide as an easy way out; many, many times. But that option is for the weak, for the real pussies among us. Death is inevitable. So it will come when it comes. You can’t fight it, but it doesn’t make sense to hasten it. We’re here for only a short time and so help me I will take every opportunity to take advantage of it. Our entire purpose on this planet is to live, love, travel, wander, learn, and enjoy this beautiful planet. The Gods are all jealous of us, so let them rue the day they made Clutchy Mcguinness. I’m still here, and before I die, I’m going to murder this life. Nobody gets out alive anyway.