Out of the shredder - 1

It's no later than 10PM, yet everything is dead.

All the storefronts are out, bars are on their last rounds with lights dimmed and patrons bitter on the prospect of walking to ever more declining quality places out there on the road. They walk the night vacation step, feet stop wherever they can and then move again, at first near the deactivated train station now turned museum, its artificial white and blue under gloom light poles, a man patted his coat looking for car keys in the bar just in front, chilly wind buffets the transplanted palms that decorated the former station entrance. The reinsinuated past took body into monstruous kitsch, the vague bus stops present along downtown (three? four?) imitated the old station architecture along the main road.

They sit in line on the small wall that separates the street from museum grounds, sitting padded marks distributed on the surface of the brick, ants make their way in the night behind their pant contours. They carried no food, one of them remarked without any reaction.

Restored adobe sits on the dual Y beams, a bus comes, gets two men waiting at the stop they can see from the left side, they were some of the last people leaving downtown and the bus probably one of the last as well, one would have to start a fire to get a bus to cross the thoroughfare after eleven. The cold had the disposition of producing forlorn, its fog took hold from the ground up, feet and hand with a powerful plight demanded people the comfort of a home. But not them, there is plenty of time home to come in the future.

One of them lit a cigarrette, an accessory falling out of fashion so quickly some of them just end up allured by the vintage pleasures of pocket suicide. But not all, one of them only, no need to share, the rest steps a little bit away to give the smoker his particular sphere of death, but not far enough as to undo the function of them being together. Relative distance is primordial to what they mean to do. They projected unknown boundaries even without realizing. Eyesight and body movement are thoroughly endowed with the power of drawing in nothingness.

The man found his keys, they were not on the red and white coat he had been shaking around. Still in his pants, left pocket. They watched the man give his last farewell to the servers cleaning the bar front and go towards his car. It is a silver car, a popular one, nothing fancy. He looked satisfied of having a few and being able to drive. No one would stop and frisk him on his way home, not here. A crash would likely involve only him and an eucaliptus or a runaway horse, they remembered the death of a known town kid and how some group of dudes carried out an internet defamation campaign about the dead, well, not defamation if everything is true, but even so fights were picked. Nothing came out of it though, one laughs. They never found the true suspect. Soon no one really cared about the crash of some other dude, maybe in his birthday they would write some heartfelt messages and record smudged makeup ten second videos, yeah, he was dead even before instagram, who knows if anyone will really take the time to do so.

Step again.

There is nothing here, let's hit the gallery. They moved together in an irregular pentagon, following the sidewalk parallel to the wall, palms passed until the end of the separation pavement gave way into the street, old train tracks and a crossing signal composed the X in the map that served as the downtown heart, trains bound for the north would pass around carrying all quantities of whatever they were producing deeper into the state and in the border. Not anymore, anyway.

Stop, listen and look.

These imperative signals mushroomed along the way, now only verbal demonstrations of inexistence. Even so, they did, certain kinds of obediences came naturally as a joke.

The five crossed the empty street right in front of a drugstore, its marquee red backlit with eternal white receiving their coming stride, a lone watchmen sat in the back inside, it wasn't working 24/7, his face twitching over some phantasmic cellphone content. They had to turn right on the next corner, passing by one of the expensive restaurants that only city hall employees could afford. The street connecting the two parallel thoroughfares was itself a kind of a promenade, cars weren't allowed and flower beds decorated the middle of the street, most of them in need of urgent maintenance, decapitated hydrangeas fell by the hour, after the transformation from car artery to walking stretch the initial beautification had started to fade. They stopped near the bakery on the left end of the passage.

Two friends ate in the small shack that took the bakery place after it closed at 9PM. One of them, a blond stocky kid-faced girl asked where they were headed to. The cigarrette-smoking boy took a peck on the thing she was enjoying and a gulp of her coke before patting her in the head. We are going to the gallery, grab some beers and who knows, maybe Texaco later. Two of them agreed, one tilted the head as invitation, the last one played with a dog that had emerged from the night to pee in the hydrangea beds.

Yes. Let me just finish this.

She convinced the other girl to go along, the other was a somewhat tall red-head, the cigarette-smoking boy admired her profile, her pointy nose produced a dignified look he couldn't count in most town girls, she wasn't hard to talk to, but the nose imposed a distance that he wasn't feeling capable to cross, now or ever.

They sat in one of the benches nearby to wait for the girls to finish eating. He decided not to light up another cig, they would soon hit the place and as with all places nowadays their bullshit no-smoking rules.

The girls paid and took their cokes along, joining the now group of seven, moving along unplanned with a growing number of people presented the affinity distribution problem, where would they go? in the front? in the back? packed like a parcel to be protected in the middle of them? The configurations shifted as they moved along.

They turned on the left, the gallery located in the same pavement they entered but up front, right next to downtown supermarket. One of the boys started a story about how it was possible to go to a neighboring city through a road most people didn't know, but only by bike. You couldn't use a car, the bridge that crossed the creek would certainly fall and of course, it took at least a whole afternoon. Why go then? The short blondie asked. Well, why not? It's fun. Yeah, that's a good reason. You had to go down the mid-mountains waterfall and find the trail northeast of the Saint Expeditus one, this trail originally took to a certain Mendes farm, but they sold and split the whole thing, what, thirty years ago or so said my father, then you would follow the trail all the way through the remnants of the property up until the forest started to groom up. The Mendes opened the trail themselves, to make it easier to hit the neighboring town, maybe they thought of taxing it or make it a touristical stop, well, that certainly failed, the red-head interrupted. Yeah, sure did. I mean, then you cross the thick and thin and there is a small bridge they set up, you can walk through it or get a bike and then go in about 30km, you will be out in the Valley.

They hardly ever went to the Valley, the direct roads weren't sufficiently near to make worth spending the gas, once a year there was a costume party townies liked to go, but most of the time it was a hassle to cross the mountainside and reach it.

They reached the gallery, it was not a full fledged art gallery anymore, as with most things, it split and now the different boxes that composed became independent stores, almost all of them closed right now due to the hour, what they really meant was the gallery bar, which remained in possession of the guy who opened the place, the bar name stroke everyone as ridiculous, Spangiarella, the owner a local journalist with endless pretensions of being a patron of the arts, a local socialist organizer and so many other adjacent strategies to keep having sex with sixteen year old girls when you're over fourty. It was a long corridor into a white box-like building, the original subdivisions of the gallery became cellphone shops, health insurance representatives and in front of the bar itself a locksmith had his stand.

Blue metal chairs and tables occupied the corridor in a zig zag pattern they danced around, a duo of older women drinking the last bits of what seemed to be Campari eyed one of the boys and the blond kid girl, they knew these women as the friday ladies, they would be everywhere friday night, drinking but never interacting with anyone else, one of the boys said they were lovers, no, they are sisters, they live in the Federal Railway projects, one of the good houses that remained, my mom told me.

Andreh, with an h, poured himself a dose of cognac. He saw as they crossed the bar entrance, the cigarette-smoking boy whispered to one of the others that he probably saw Camila's first. They chose an empty table near the jukebox in the back, it played a low quality version of Steppenwolf's Born to be Wild, which only the blonde girl knew, the others ignored venturing that far into the world of granpa rock. Table scrying embodied another decision process that occurred by distribution, who would sit by the girls' sides? Who would be apart so he could take a good look at their tits, or confess he was starting to feel something over her curly blond hair. Small movements in processual awareness of forces.

Modern jukeboxes are just cheap computers with an ugly user interface, one of them said. They stick a huge SSD drive with 128k quality songs, the blonde girl interrupted. What do you mean? It's compressed and sounds like those old small speakers they had in school computers, that's why you can barely differentiate the guitars going on. They all admired her round face shedding facts over music details they never cared enough to go after. Before they realized, Andreh loomed over them asking what they would drink.

Three beers. No, make it four and bring Dig a caipirinha.

Some of the paintings Andreh couldn't sell before transforming the place hung on the walls, tie dyed patterns covered everywhere in orange, green and other pseudo-psychedelic tackiness, there was only one bathroom in the back, repurposed from his office with three stalls from whose doors also hung uglier unlucky paintings. His corner had an espresso machine, a draft beer tap and colored glass lined up in the back, some filled with stale assorted drinks, some as resting decoration left by his former wife.

Where is she now? Do you know? Camila, the redhead, shook her head. I think she went downhill. Downhill like she killed herself? No, you flask-wit. She moved back to the capital, i had her added for some time, but all she posted were boring glass-blowing fits and break-up drama. Can you imagine feeling anything but happy over breaking up with that sleazy slithering thing? She pointed her head at the bar owner and the two girls laughed.

It is a blessing, said one of the boys that was silent until now, the future owner of a caipirinha. A blessing? What do you mean? Glass-blowing. It's shame she was not very good, but have you seen the people which are? They can shape a soul.

Have you guys tore a blunt before meeting us? No.

You know him, c'mon. Give the boy a break, he just wanted to marvel us with some poetics.

What would it mean to shape a soul? In the sense that their hands so delicate and precise it can- well, if you explain like this all the poetics die in the middle of my tongue tipping. Andreh arrived with the beers and glasses and Dig's caipirinha.

Silence floated as the cigarette-smoking boy started distributing glasses and pouring individually, he adjusted carefully the amount by twitching the hand, making sure everyone get the same level of frothing, as per the transmitted tradition that reigned on bar culture, serving himself last. The seven of them emptied three bottles in distribution of the first round, the fourth kept as buffer refill. Dig got his caipirinha and a beer glass, always justifying that to down the shitty industrial beer he need the lemon spike.

Souls have no shape. What? Yeah, there is no settled shape a soul would have to obey. I mean, if souls are real. No, if they are real the universe presumes some kind of order, if they come from god, please guys, we just started drinking. No, really, hear me out. Do you remember that story I said i would tell y'all? About the masked murderer in the karaoke. The blonde girl interrupted again, that was a creepypasta, it's not a real story, jesus, i bet the Mendes story is fake as well, you just make shit up. I am not making this up, or someone made it up, but it was certainly not me, I wouldn't be creative enough to weave all this, you know.

Glasses came up and down in biological rhythm, pulses of table-hitting, taps of gentle approach, sometimes they hang in the air to demarcate the staccato of pensive interruptions without gender distinction.

So, they were talking and one of them, the guy with a huge cock, what, why is this detail in the story, i don't know, that's how it is told. Indeed, it's a weird detail, but so he goes into the bathroom and he is listening to all these people sing and dance his frenemies arguing in their distant booth, as he returns to them refreshed one strange form is singing some j-pop, at first he thinks it's someone dressed up, will you try to introduce a jumpscare in this dumb shit? No, it's just what it is. It was not a mascot head, it was the strange guy's head, bloated, scarred in drawings, huge and kinda fluffy, the more he looked the more eyes popped from the skin in gyre, you mean like those spider minieyes? yeah, it's only logical. He wants to look even more, it's - disgusting? - no, it's beautiful, like watching something come to life in slow motion.

That's bullshit. There is nothing like this in the world.

I mean, yeah, it's just a story. Where did you read it? Some guy's blog. Do people still write blogs? Weirdos do. Penny, do you have a blog? No, i had back when i was thirteen or so, used to follow a lot of weirdos though. That was the internet back then, isn't still like this? No, it's different, you don't have the kind of unfiltered slurry of desire, you sound just like Dig, she does yeah. You two just talk about this stuff in private, i bet.

Penny sidelined and took off from the table into the bathroom, she wore jeans shorts and a garterbelt under it, no thigh-highs, Camila gave them all a cruel eye, those were perverse implications to start a night with.

Naike, how did you end up in the guy's blog anyway? We, me and Nathane, we were watching some horror movies over at the scary channel in that box thing, not the usual streaming, the boxes you plug into the TV that old people now have everywhere because they don't wanna pay for tv. Kodi. Yeah, kodi, or something. There is this specific channel we like to watch that alternates movies per year, one current one, one from some random date in the past, Nathane said it's probably kept by a bot, seems like a boring job to keep looking for matching days and time and so on, well, we watched this 2016 movie called Chrematistics. The cigarette-smoking boy cut the mood with an intermittent laugh. What? Nothing, i would never imagine someone would name a movie like that. Why? Go on. Oh, ok. It's about this guy in a scheme of literally get rich or die trying, he goes after many death games whose winners get a bunch of money, wasn't that an anime? Yeah, the one with the ugly noses. Keep going. He goes along and tries to win all those games, he's not sadistic, nor he enjoys, he just needs the money and plays along with all the rules, we find out he is gathering money to finance his own game, the definitive death game in order to amass the biggest quantity of money black markets can pool together, you know, rich people are always looking for an opportunity to kill and especially to kill themselves over something. The last game is this ultimate one, but there is no real game, we just watch the door for 15 minutes from where the competitors would come in and begin the game while hearing the guy set up last minute preparations on the torture contraptions they would have to play along in order to win.

Is that it?

Yeah. Pretty much, but it was a good ending in my humble opinion. Sort of, yeah. The last of the games is left for us to imagine what could be contained. Hmm, that's not very good, most people aren't creative enough to project along time what devious ideas this new richest man in the underbelly of society could come up with, i mean, most are not rich themselves. But, surely there are psychos in the audience, maybe he wanted to leave the filling part to them. What's the percentage of psychopaths at home watching streaming? Well, i would say a lot, more than 1. Wasn't it in the movies? No. it's just too small. Streaming only. Who do you guys think is the psychopath among us? Hmm, based on physical appearance only it would certainly be you.

Dig pointed at the cigarrette-smoking boy, they both laughed. Camila scoffed in audibly. He may be a thief and a pain in the ass, but psychopaths are not into early death, or are they? Although they could indeed be death pleasure seekers. Camila suspended the sentence, he couldn't stop peering at her nose. Maybe the nose thing was a psycho symptom, not that he would say that out loud.

But what does have to do with the guy's blog from the story? One of the silent boys intervened.

Yeah. I forgot that. Since we had to watch the fifteen minute montage all along we just left the credits rolling and the movie's argument was written by the blog dude. He didn't seem famous, but it was certainly a weird name to appear in both horror related things, so i did some digging (did you do some Digging? No. They laugh. Coulda been though.) and found out he has some production out there and the blog is used to post short stories he wants to adapt into movies, always framed as stuff that really happened. Do you think the Mendes story could be twisted into an horror script? Maybe they really found something amidst the trail. Nah, there is no horror possible around here, nothing really happens, who ever heard of a scary film in which everything is the same forever? You just kinda described something awful, so maybe. Oh, well. Let's have another round.

Andreh came and the cigarette-smoking boy partook in his routine of sacred distribution, the buffer beer didn't last long after they needed solace from the bantering. The second round was often faster than the first, alcohol has the attribute of instillating the positive feedback circle of its own consumption. Penny had returned from the bathroom after the fit of shame, it's not like she wasn't really talking about this stuff with they Dig, they were, but people can't understand that a bit of intellectual exchange doesn't mean he will stick in her, although she would be down for that as well, the worst is never to be suspected but to be misunderstood. She closed her coming back humming the famous bars from the most famous Santa Esmeralda song.

Guys, what is worse? People suspecting you or people misunderstanding you?

The lime in Dig's second caipirinha escaped from his glass as he shook the contents with his ring finger to dissolve the sugar.

The once silent boy tilted his head to Penny. I think the worst is people misunderstanding you then suspecting, you know, the complete package. But doesn't that happen with everyone? To suspect, said the cigarette-smoking boy, you have to have some essential uncertainty about something, not understanding it certainly composes that picture, misunderstanding can surely produce suspicion. Yeah, you don't know what are the reasons behind some queer act. Hey, don't use queer like that. You get it, come on. Yeah, yeah, let him go on. These deviant acts always have a motive. We were treading into detective stories here. No, it's a more generic feeling, like why we were curious about Andreh's ex return to the city, we all speculated. Her nose pointed at him. What you are saying is that speculation is based on either absence of understanding or a misunderstand. Yeah, I didn't think of those as different, but they really are. He scratched his left cheek with her utterance.

A castle erected from thin air, what an uncanny ability to throw a car in front of his train of thought, remarkable that someone could indeed lay words like bricks, mortared and all, military sapper of speech.

The last silent boy took a long sip of his fourth glass. The others used to say he suffered of an anxiety over a glass full, no glasses could remain full in his vicinity, as he always offered them to finish, even if had mutated from chilling and sparkling magic to warm piss maize juice. He didn't finish the glass, this time.

What were the sounds?

What do you mean? You know, in the movie. I am curious. Ah, so here's our psychopath trying to complete the story. You got me, we would have to watch to know exactly, i distinctly remember the camera is at eye level like someone sitting at a chair and we have those, what was the name of the old trend where people whispered in your ear like a retard and other retards (don't say that!) would go online saying they felt a tingling in their cock? It was in the head. Yeah, the name. ASMR. Yes. It seems like the guy used some binaural audio so we could really know what kinds of things the gamer (what? was he a gamer?, no not like that, as in someone who planned the game, the ultimate game. Oh, yeah.) planned. But Nathane insisted we watch on the TV so i don't have any powerful enough speakers to replicate that. I remember the sound of a bell, not one of those enormous church bells, but neither those you use to ring and call people in public stuff.

Maybe it was a silver bell. What, why? How could you know the color or the material without looking? It just occurred to me it might be silver. Could it be a windchime? No, windchimes are way softer, my mom has plenty of those to make the dogs insane.

What kind of trap takes a bell to activate? Maybe some resonance-attuned one, something happens as a condition of the bell ringing, maybe the volume in the room is changed and a guillotine falls and chops off someone's dick. Why are all these stories obsessed with? No, it's you! All laugh. It never gets old though. Insistent questions must hide an obsession, it's a time tried law, you know when a friend is coming with something as their vanguard are questions posing from many different directions without really breaching the blitz on what they want to say. It's classic psychology. Not really, no. That's not how the analysand will react. Here's mister analyst himself. Well, the bell trap, it's hard to know what would it be, but i do remember it clearly, its sound was beautiful, distinct from everything else.

Guys — Andreh interrupted — this is the last round. I am closing.

It's not even midnight, for godsakes.

Last round, get it or get out.

Let's have it, we can hit Texaco afterwards, they might be open at least until two.

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