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 Pencils, Dust, and Imperfection

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PostSubject: Re: Pencils, Dust, and Imperfection   7/7/2009, 12:38 pm

Chapter 20 - I Got Under the Grip

Time was running out and I could almost feel Christian breathing down my neck.

I don't know why I was even considering doing this, but when I'm under pressure, I usually take the impulsive way out, and my impulses usually lead to mistakes which quickly become regrets. I knew that everything I had done to Billie for almost a year would become a scrapbook full of bad memories, decisions, and regrets, and the decision Christian was forcing me to make would be among them.


Gloria, time is not on our side.

I know! I know I should do it, but...

But what? It's not that hard!

It actually is, Christian; I'm killing somebody here!

You're killing him before he kills us. Either us of him will die--it's inevitable and you need to get over it.

I exhaled as I felt my heart race. My impulsive and pockets--full of regrets side knew Christian was right, but my compassionate and logical side knew he was wrong. Both of my sides could agree on one thing though; time was not on our side, so I cracked under the pressure and did what Christian intended.

I looked in all four directions and waited until the coast was clear of all doctors, nurses, and family members. With the bottle of Cynoplorian in my hand, I maneuvered towards a nearby hospital room and walked inside modestly.

The patient was an old woman with graying brown hair and a fair complexion. She was luckily sleeping, so I made my discontent move.

I found her orange pill bottle which contained anti-depressants. I carefully dumped out the Cynoplorian on a nearby table along with the anti-depressants. I put the anti-depressant pill bottle on the edge of the table and tentatively slid the Cynoplorian in the bottle. Afterwords, I did the same with the anti-depressants and the Cynoplorian bottle.

I placed the bottle full of Billie's MPD medication on the old woman's table and quickly walked out of the door.


Good. Now, calmly walk over to the lobby desk; there's a garbage can there. Throw the meds in there, but be subtle. Don't draw attention to yourself because we can't get noticed too much, and be quick.

I obeyed my enemy, and new partner. I tried not to look too distraught even though I was. I was already regretting what I had done, but I Couldn't really take it back or fix it. It was just going to be another one of my over-flowing regrets.

Get back to the exam room.
Hopefully, the doctor hasn't come back yet.


I walked back to the exam room where Billie was supposed to be having his first check-up since starting to take the Cynoplorian. Billie was supposed to be taking two doses a day, but it's been a week and he's only taken one dose since Christian flushed the pills away. I was feeling extreme pressure now because I knew the doctor wold be able to tell Billie hasn't taken the pills, and I needed a good excuse.

Tell him you were having side effects.
Nausea, stomach aches-whatever. Just something that would cause you to not want to take them.


Was nausea one of the side effects?

I don't know. Cynoplorian is experimental, so they don't know all of the possible side-effects yet, so it should be OK.

I nodded, ready to obey. Agreeing with and understanding Christian and his ways was extremely weird, but he was beginning to make sense; There's always a possibility that I've become delusional though, and that was a possibility I was sure I could never rule out.

The doctor came in, looking slightly confused. He was holding Billie's chart as he shut the door behind him and sat down across from me.

"When I took your blood yesterday, I personally ran the tests on it quickly so I could show it to you today instead of having to wait a week to know your progress," he started. He then paused and looked at me questionably. "Are you taking your medication, Billie?"


"Yes," I lied.

What? Why did you become dominant, and why aren't you saying anything about the side-effects?

Oh yeah--I forgot.
Oh well. This is more fun, anyway.

"According to the results of the blood tests, you aren't," the doc informed.

I made a face. "Then why did you even ask?"

He looked at me intently. "Billie, are you yourself right now?"

"Yes," I lied again.


You're screwing everything up, Christian!
He can tell you're not Billie!


The doctor doesn't know squat.
It'll be fine; Armstrong's an easy card to deal, and easy song to play. You're just overreacting, as usual.

"Then tell me what's going on," the doctor persisted. "Are you having side-effects?"


...I was in an exam room with Dr. Gibbs staring at me curiously. I knew I had either been Gloria or Christian, and the normal fright of having a blackout had stricken me, but it wasn't as powerful because there was another fear in my head; I soon remembered vaguely, yet strongly, what it was.

"Billie? What's going on with this? What did you do?"

I just blinked and bluntly, but slowly answered, "I think I killed someone."

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PostSubject: Re: Pencils, Dust, and Imperfection   7/7/2009, 12:39 pm

Chapter 21 - Where Are You, Gloria?

Be rational, Billie!

This is as rational as I can be right now, Gloria. Christian said rational words can't fix the irrational, so irrational actions must fix the irrational.

Since when have you started listening to Christian?

I could ask you the same thing.

Billie, I regret doing that, but--

Don't you understand that no good ever comes from listening to him? I almost die, my marriage almost collapses, and, now, people get killed!

I didn't know the Cynoplorian was going to kill her.

If you did, it wouldn't have stopped you.

Probably not, no.

OK, so I made a mistake. I'm sorry--

You killed someone, Gloria; this isn't just a little mistake that a weak apology is going to fix.

In actuality, Armstrong, you killed somebody.

If anybody finds out, Billie's disease will be at fault. The doctor thought you were just delirious from not taking your medication, when you told him anyway, so nobody knows it's you.

How do you even know that you killed her? I mean, I know her obituary's in the paper and her death due to accidental overdose on Cynoplorian is the big local headline, but how did you know in the exam room that it had happened?

I honestly have no idea. For some reason, though, I knew I had killed somebody.

Maybe your subconscious is beginning to be able to remember pieces of your blackouts.

I don't know; I don't even care anymore. All I know is that I'm going to do this.

Why? It might not even work!

'Might' is better than 'won't'

Do it, Armstrong--I dare you.

Why do you enable him like that?

Because it's entertaining to see him acting reckless. But it's not like he has the balls to do it, anyway.

Billie, this is an experimental drug. If you take too many, who knows what could happen!

I have to do this.

Why?

Because I just got a refill; I have a whole month's supply in that bottle, and if one or both of you tries to get rid of it, I'm going to catch hell again.

And if you take more than two a day, you'll be in hell!
Do you really want that?


Anything's better than this.

Hurry up, Armstrong; my patience is wearing thin. I wanna watch a good show that I have front row seats to.

I really wasn't thinking clearly, but I thought the clarity was crystal at the time.

I didn't want to take too many; just enough so I could hopefully put a dent in this goddamn disease. I decided on six, so I choked two back at a time, washing the small tablets away with a cup of water.

My wife was at the store and my kids were at their last full day of school for the year, which was good, because no one was there to witness me passing out when I tried to walk over to my bed. I collapsed on the floor and feel into a painless sleep.

I began to dream. There was a beautiful girl with short black hair wrapped in a ponytail, messy bands, and dark clothing. She was very pale, which contrasted boldly with the darkness everywhere else on her body.

She was facing me, but turned away quickly. She began walking away from me, but my dream allowed me to follow her from behind.

The young woman began walking faster. The walk became a jog which soon became a full-fledged sprint. My dream was letting me keep up with her quickly, like fire or lightening from my feet was denying physics for letting me run so fast.

My view became sideways; I now had a perfect view of her profile and the brick wall she ran beside. Graffiti suddenly appeared on the wall, and the girl somehow jumped into it--becoming the graffiti. She was vivid and bold as the beautiful spray-painted entity continued racing through the town now via the brick wall.

My mobile visibility came to a halt as my dream prohibited me from the chasing continuum. I watched my graffiti girl continue to race through the heartland until I couldn't see her anymore; she had left me, and, I, for some reason, wanted her back, even though she wasn't real.

...I awoke. For a moment, I wondered why I was on my bedroom floor, but I quickly remembered.

Cool dream, Armstrong.

My heart slightly fell, realizing the small overdose of Cynoplorian didn't get rid of my other personalities.

I don't have any professional tagging skills myself, but it still looks super fun.

Why did you make me dream that?

I didn't--Gloria did.
You always assume that it was me...


Because it usually is. Gloria, why did you make me dream that? What's the meaning behind it?

I know the meaning.

Well. what is it?

You don't realize how quiet it is right now?

What are you talking about?

Oh, Armstrong. I bet Gloria's a little disappointed in you; the dream was such a beautiful visual metaphor.

Gloria? Where are you, Gloria?

I'm surprised there's no echoing, sine it's so empty here now.

Christian, just tell me what happened!

You finally got your wish--
Gloria's gone.

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PostSubject: Re: Pencils, Dust, and Imperfection   7/7/2009, 1:58 pm

Chapter 22 - This is Why We're on the Edge


"Gloria's gone"

My wife gave me an odd look, but it quickly changed to pure surprise. "Really? That's great!" she exclaimed, genuintley happy as she hugged me hard before giving me a quick kiss. "What about Christian?" she inquired.

Still here!

"Here's still here." I replied.

Adrienne gave me a sympathetic look as she slupped her shoes off and laid down beside me in bed. "He'll be gone soon...we just have to be patient."

I just nodded. I knew she was right, but I was sick of waiting. Sanity is a basic essential for most people, and I miss having it.

"I'm going to jump in the shower really fast," Adie informed. "We can talk about it after, if you want."

I nodded again. "I'd like that," I told her.

She smiled a little and was about ready to leave, but I refrained her by saying, "Thanks...for everything. Your patience, understanding, and forgiveness. I'm just sorry about all of this."

Adrienne shook her head slightly as she sweetly ruffled my black hair. "I'll say 'you're welcome', but I'm not accepting your apology."

I felt my throat dry up as I tried to say, "I know I did unforgivable things, but I just want you to know how sor--"

"No, Billie," she interrupted. "I'm not accepting your apology because you've done nothing wrong."

My eyes narrowed. "I've ben the worst husband and father for the last year, and I have nothing to apologize for?"

"But that wasn't you," my wife persisted. "You--Billie Joe Armstrong, are a great husband and father. Christian and Gloria interfered this year, but it's not your fault; it's not like you asked for any of this. Joey, Jakob, and I know that you're sick, and that you'll be back 150% when you get better."

I just stared at her, speechless. I felt like I did when I wrote 'Redundant'--'I love you's' not enough, I'm last for words. It was remarkable because I haven't felt like that with her for what seems to be an eternity.

I couldn't think of anything else to sy, thought, so I told her I loved her, even though it wasn't enough. She told me that she loved me too, and she kissed my hand. She later left for the shower and I was left alone around midnight in my bedroom that I had passed out in just a few hours earlier.

All of a sudden, a melody struck me followed by a simple lyric. I pulled out a notepad and pen from my end table and scribbled down some form of what I had imagined.

'My beating heart belongs to you', was the only lyric I had thought of. I sort of stared at the words for a while as I tried to think of something to add. A few long seconds later, I had jotted down about half of a song, and I was just beaming with pride. I mean, I hadn't written a song in ages, and this one actually had some potential.

A little too mushy for my taste.

Anything that isn't about killing puppies, molesting children, or burning a town full of people around is too mushy for you.

True, but since Gloria's gone, can't you make things more interesting?

I'm sick of all this black and white.

Sorry, but I don't feel like indulging you, and I really don't feel like seeing you happy.

You're such a wet blanket--almost as wet as Gloria's.
It's disapointing, because I thought that we could be best friends.


I can't really be friends with a voice inside my head; at least, my sanity wouldn't allow it.

Fuck your sanity.
It draws too many lines and prohibits you from having fun.


It may, but it keeps me sane--hence the root word--and it keeps me alive, and life is a pretty important thing.

Sanity's never done you any good. All it did was force you to be labeled by a disease and be excluded from a washed-up, greedy, and aimless society. It made you into an outsider, and being on the outside looking in sucks a bit, as I've noticed.

Sanity may be a detriment right now, but that's just because i'm sick. I'll appreciate what sanity I'll have left when you leave my subconsious.

I just don't see that happening.
I plan on crashing in this sub for a long time.


Cynoplorian doesn't seem to agree with your ideal.

It actually does, Armstrong.
I got rid of GLoria first, which was nice, because she was an emotional wreck who couldn't be trusted as a heartless schemer, but it left me--Christian Armstrong: diabolicism extraordinaire who still has a few tricks up his sleeve.


You can't possibly have another plan in the works.

In the words of the Go-Go's, "Our Lips Are Sealed." I guess it's, 'my' instead of 'our' since Gloria's--

I learned over time how to ignore Christian. HIs rambles became a distant buzzing sound as I drifted off into a painless sleep once again. I had wanted to talk to Adrienne, but I didn't see that happening at least not tonight.

Good. My annoyed gland needs a rest.

You really are something you know that?

Something special?

No, not at all.

Oh well. I figured I'd give it a try.
You could've humored me, though.


No, because that would be indulging you; weren't you paying attention earlier?

Yeah, but like I said, I'd figure I'd give it a try.
Weren't you paying attention?


I'd really like to go to sleep, Christian.

I'm aware.
You can tell that I am by how effectively well I'm keeping you awake.


Since you're just a personality, and technically me, wouldn't you want to help me instead of hurting me?

No, not if I'm self-destructive.
Gloria was carrying your touch; I was the one who wanted to burn everyone down with it.


But why?

Because I'm the enemy.
I find being on the other side of 'vs. Armstrong' to be much more vindication than the shoulder for you to cry on.


I just shook my head a little and sighed.
I couldn't get anywhere with Christian and I was sick of trying.
I fell asleep, though, as soon as I tuned him out.

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PostSubject: Re: Pencils, Dust, and Imperfection   7/8/2009, 11:14 am

Chapter 23 - Life is Calling


You have two sons?
Is your sperm sexist or something?


I smirked, but ignore the subversive voice in my head as I continued to poke around at the piano keys by fits and starts. I was playing the song I had written about Adrienne a few weeks ago, and Christian seemed to be despondent about the whole thing.

Since Christian wasn't real, he could only see the things that I could and he caught the glimpse of a photographed picture of Adrienne and my sons that sat on a table in my den, and Christian had to question it, obviously. I was still trying to ignore him, but whether I kept it up or ended up talking to him, it didn't matter anymore.

Why not?
Did you take my advice on sanity?


No, but I did take my last recommended dose of Cynosporian this morning. You should be on your way out of my subconcious's door any minute now.

Not if I have anything to say about it.

You don't because you're not real. The Cynosporian is going to kick your fake ass, and you don't have the time or intelligence to work up a master plan.

You're really mean today, Armstrong; you're acting like me.
Are we in 'Freaky Friday' or something?


I smirked again as I continued to play my new grand piano. It was the newest addition to my instrument collection and I've been playing and learning since about the time Gloria disappeared.

You jammed on that goddamn acoustic and now you're playing a piano. What's up with the wussy instruments?

Well, what do you suggest?

Get an electric and plug it into an amp that's on eleven; like I played last year.

Yeah, and you made my fingers bleed.

Jesus bled when he was crucified.

Can you just be quiet so I can concentrate on this?

Why do you ask when you already know the answer?

I sighed, but still played. Christian was now just an annoying hiss; I didn't fear him at all or the thought of his plans or the blackouts he caused me to have. My doctor said my progress indicated I should be completely MPD-free a while after I take my last dose. My sanity just needed to survive a while longer, and then everything will go back to normal.

As normal as life with your annoying wife and foolish kids can be.

As long as it won't be filled with sleepless nights and neurotic days anymore.

Oh, c'mon, Army.
I'm not all that bad. We've had some good times together, right?


Army?

We talk all the time - we sing, we laugh...

We try to kill each other...

Right! And isn't that a blast?

Um, no, it isn't. Do you think igniting my mother-in-law on fire, placing my marriage on eggshells, straining my friendships with Mike and Tre, and causing me to lose my sanity is a blast? ...Actually, don't answer that.

But wasn't it all exhilarating?

When I think of 'exhilaration', I think of good, positive, and exciting energy, and you trying to kill me is not my idea of good, positive, or exciting.

You really disappoint me, Armstrong.

I ignored Christian once again as I wrote a few more lyrics to the song I had been writing for Adie. I read it over and sang the song inside my head and I realized that it was complete. All it needed was a title, so I read over the lyrics to see if there was an obvious one in there, but I couldn't find one; I was going to have to make one up.

Call it 'The Wussy Piano Song.'

It's your last night on Earth, Christian; don't you want to spend it wisely? Right a few wrongs or something?

No, not particularly.
You could give it a Christian-related name; that would make up for it being so terrible.


And what do you suggest? Diabolical Demon? Satanic Serpent? Venomous Vagrant?

Those are all fitting, yes, but what about 'Last Night on Earth'? That way, you'll always remember the wonderful, unforgettable, and sensational last night you spent with Christian Armstrong.

How about no? I don't want to incorporate you into my music; that would just be ridiculous.

You're such a buzzkill.

That's what I've been told. I've also been told that Cynosporian takes effect about an hour after you take a dose, so it'll be lights out for you in a few minutes.

There was a pause, and Christian didn't say anything for a few long seconds, which was very odd and unlike him.

So...this is it?

I was caught off guard by his slightly sentimental question, but I guess the inevitability finally sunk in. Maybe he finally realized that he's not indestructible or invulnerable; that he's just a weak and helpless voice inside of my head that can't stop a medication from destroying himself, no matter how assertive or maniacal he is.

This was my last chance to fuck you over; to do something bold and evil, and it all went to waste because I was stubborn enough to believe I could survive the treatment. That I could beat it...deny it.

I didn't respond to him. I knew Christian, so I assumed this was some kind of weird, last minute scheme to screw me over, but the honest and precarious tone of voice he had made me wonder if my assumption was wrong.

This year has been insane, and your life is calling. I shouldn't be here, but I got tossed into a concoction of destruction against you...and it's unfair to you. Maybe I went a little crazy...and maybe Gloria was right. I really don't know anything anymore.

I still didn't reply. I don't think I would have been able to work up a response ever if I tried.

I'm sorry, Armstrong.

That caused me to smile, realizing that the night Christian apologized to me would be...well, the last night on Earth.

Do you honestly expect me to believe all of that, Christian?

This time, he didn't respond to me, and, for some reason, my heart dropped.

Christian?

I still received no reply.

"Christian? Christian, are you there?" I asked aloud, but was still left with nothing.

I checked the clock which read a little after two in the afternoon. My heart fell farther down into my intestines when I recognized that it had been over and hour since I took the last of the Cynosporian.

I swallowed hard. "Christian?" I asked once more aloud. "Are you there?"

No answer.

He was gone.

I still sat at my grand piano where my fingers continued to rest on the keys. I moved them forward, but they slid fast due to the panicked sweat that also was on my clammy palms. The sweat was caused by an anxious realization I made which was the fact that Gloria, and now Christian were gone.

I was alone. Nobody else was in my head but me. I was no longer classified by an idiosyncrasy , and it felt so liberating.

I looked back over at the paper with the song I had written for my wife of twelve years; it was still nameless, but I changed that quickly.

The piano had a thin line of dust near the back, but I was not scared. This song was not in the finest level of perfection either, but I still labeled it 'complete', so I was not afraid of imperfection anymore either. It wasn't until I scribbled the title 'Last Night on Earth' in the top margin of the thin loose-leaf when I recognized that I was using the small, slender, yellow writing utensil with lead and eraser shavings that I apparently didn't fear anymore either.

And all of this made me pretty damn happy.

______
FINISHED.

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PostSubject: Re: Pencils, Dust, and Imperfection   7/9/2009, 8:29 am

What an amazing story! It totally kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through.
Great job! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Pencils, Dust, and Imperfection   7/9/2009, 9:34 am

Thank you, Katelyn!
The sequel is up now, btw. =)

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PostSubject: Re: Pencils, Dust, and Imperfection   7/9/2009, 10:00 am

Oh wow! Awesome! xD
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PostSubject: Re: Pencils, Dust, and Imperfection   7/11/2009, 3:47 am

That was brilliant Sarah! I can't wait for the sequel! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Pencils, Dust, and Imperfection   7/11/2009, 12:58 pm

Thanks! =)

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