“You should really learn how to relax” Burgress said to me as I lay in the grass of Washington Square park, weeping slightly.
“I can’t” I said “It’s sorta hard to relax when your insides are made of deep-fried depression, and the only thing that keeps you going is the use of controlled substances and the delusion that at some point in the future things won’t be a big shit-bucket of suck” I said, curling up.
“You can’t live like this” Burgress said to me, adjusting his fedora.
“Nonsense” I said back “I will construct a reality in my mind where I can just rock back and forth in a corner of darkness and nothing will happen to me, good or bad, so I can just exist in my black and white world of pain and suffering and wait for the overwhelming grimdark to consume me”
“Huh” Burgress said, taking a drag from his cigarrette. “You have any hobbies?”
“Yeah” I said “Getting out of town and reminiscing”
“It could be worse” Burgress said “you could work for Reuter- oh”
“I miss home” I remember myself saying
“Home? The Midwest you mean?” Burgress asked
“Yeah” I said
“You don’t want to go back *there* ” Burgress said, taking another drag. “Where will you get your fair trade coffee? What about the cutting edge arts scene? Your favorite bands certainly don’t tour where you want to live, and you certainly won’t get a job doing what you’re doing now. The midwest doesn’t accommodate for artistic motherfuckers, such as myself. And the beer, I don’t think you’ll get to choose between 5 different kinds of microbrew IPAs in Colby Kansas”
“You’ve just been in Philly too long” Burgress said again “Some Brooklyn Tap water will help with that”
“The one with the mercury in it?” I asked.
Later that night we were at the world-renown Barcade in Brooklyn. I had ordered the Lasganga at a fancy uptown food-place and was instead given a cheese covered pile of potato slices. I wanted to take my woes out on some Dig Dug.
After a few rounds, I was no closer to enlightenment. Burgress motioned over to a corner of the Arcade.
“this” he said “Is TURBO, the strangest racing game of all time. Nobody can get bast 12k points or so, because it’s just impossible”
I sauntered up to the arcade cabinet, setting down my 12.4% APV drink and inserting a coin, gripping the wheel and flipping the gearshifter into low. It was on.
The road streached out into the horizion as cars appeared out of nowhere and into the path of mine. I swerved around them with a deft flick of the steering wheel. and then suddenly the screen flashed to a turn, and then a tunnel, there were no transitions inbetween. And then an ambulance came up from the bottom of the screen and passed my car. More driving, then the road turned to ice, then narrowed to a bridge, and then flashed again to a turn. Cars would hit each other and fly into mine, but I kept steady and continued to drive. But out of nowhere a flock of cars flashed on the screen and plowed into mine, and the entire screen filled up with a pixelated explosion.
I looked over to the quaint digital readout of my score: 35k. I was #1. It must have been the beer, or my many years as a delivery driver for a Temp agency, but here, in this barcade, I had found my calling, an obscure Sega racing game. I put my name on the high score list.
And soon everyone in the barcade had swarmed me. They lifted me up on their shoulders chanting my name, I took a burbon shot and felt the warm embrace of the universe….what.