What about you?

By: Sarah Wolf

Date: 12th Oct 2021

The mellow tunes of the latest ICP album threaten the integrity of every speaker they come through, as this garish night club full of children drink sugary sodas and speak in ridiculous rhymes at each other, their minds rotting slightly slower than their teeth. Of course, that would be what someone would think at first look, but to the trained eye what one really sees is a family. A gathering of like minded individuals who only ever wanted the best for their fellow Jugga’s, of the Lo, or Lette variety.

Walking through this crowd, Sarah Wolf sips on a beer and looks each and every person she passes in the eye. Some do not recoil from her intensity, some even begin to follow. One person in particular is stopped dead in his tracks. He is not dressed in what seems to be the uniform for these sort of places. Which is Junco jeans out of the 90’s and old t-shirts out of the laundry. He also looks like he wears deodorant, which is a tell tale sign of this particular place that he does not belong. He smiles at her, and as she steps up to him he does his worst impression of a man not terrified of what’s to come. Stepping to him, she gets danger close and leans into him, placing her face and most importantly, her teeth, within striking distance of his neck. He swallows a lot of spit down his throat and keeps a lot of piss from rushing into his pants, only to have her gently kiss his cheek.

 

“Thank you for meeting me here, Sal. I so rarely get out anymore,”

 

“Not a problem. I wish you would have told me what the issue was, I didn’t know what to prepare.”

 

“Nothing to prepare. Simple addition. I would have emailed you, but I don’t want anyone seeing. So again, like I’ve said a hundred times..”

 

“Only on paper, yes. No electronic filing what-so-ever. But..”

 

“Ooooh sal, ‘but’ is not a good word for me. Or for you.”

 

“No, No deviation from instructions..But someone went fishing, and my receptionist took the bait.”

 

“What happened?”

 

“She got a call. Some woman screaming her head off about wanting to take you to court. Making all sorts of threats. She knows you’re a client so she told her it was a conflict and hung up.”

 

Sarah wanted to be furious. No, she was furious. She wanted to act on it. But this wasn’t Sal’s fault. He was a good attorney. One of the best 3 that would bother to be associated with her after certain events have transpired in her personal life.  Under normal circumstances he would have had the person in to see him, gotten the details of the case before dismissing it on account of conflict of interest, and then charged the asshole for the hour. This was a mistake. She finished her drink and took a deep breath. She hoped the next one she ordered would have some booze in it, and looked into Sal’s eyes. Sal didn’t know her well enough to know if he was in trouble or not, but if he had, he’d know he was in the clear. 

 

“Sal, baby, It’s fine. Really.”

 

“Sarah, I’m not threatening you, but if anything, and i mean anything, happens to my receptionist…”

 

“Oh stop. I’m not going to hurt her over a mistake.” She was going to hurt her over a mistake. But Sal had ammo. A lot of ammo. Ammo she had given him and she needed him to do his job with it and nothing more. But if he ever fired this cunt he’d be smart to relocate her first.

 

“So this is another person to the list? Same percentage as the rest?”

 

“Yeah. Her mother..or mothers address is in there. Don’t call her all the way out for some stupid meeting shit either, Sal. No 15 minutes for you. Just send the checks.”

 

“Any idea when I’ll have to do that?” Not soon enough, he thought to himself, hoping desperately that his face didn’t give him away.

 

“Not soon enough.” Sarah said, walking away. One might think a person like this, obviously talking about what she’s talking about, would set off some alarms. But you give this man too much credit and this woman not enough. He was a money hungry asshole who, once the deed was done, would get a hefty percentage as payment for simply writing a few checks and mailing a few letters. And she, she was well versed in using how others saw her in her favor. She’d been doing it for such a long time that it was almost as easy as breathing. And far more worthwhile.

 

Sarah stuck around outside of Juggs, the ICP themed bar in Milwaukee, meeting and greeting with fans from all walks of life, from poor white kids to other, not as poor but still poor white kids, for about 4 hours. The lawyer had come and gone and in a turn of events that surprised even her, she began to enjoy herself.

 

Sure, these guys were all insane, but they were kind to each other. Looked out for one another, and every person that came up got a welcome unlike anything she’d ever seen. Granted their taste in music was terrible, but what it turned them into wasn’t. Made her homesick for a place she was sure she’d only ever been to in her dreams.

 

So like, can I ask you about Ascension?” One of the smaller, rounder, and sweatier ones asked politely, while sucking on a virginia slim they had bummed off a taller, broader, and stinkier one of the others. “Like, I mean, what’s the plan, right?”

 

“One does not simply ‘shoot’ the shit. Not without a fresh drink, anyway.’ Sarah said from behind a smile or what passed as one for her. “Now if one were to run and get me a vodka and soda, hold the soda. I could see myself maybe…”

 

Two of the ones closest to the door started to run, but a sharp whistle from Sarah stopped them in their tracks. She pulled a $100 dollar bill from her bra strap and told them to ‘bring enough for the class.’ She was sure they’d keep the bill as a souvenir instead of use it, but that wasn’t her problem. Either was the owner telling her they couldn’t drink out front, that the cops would come. Sarah simply laughed and stated that it was only a fine, which meant it wasn’t even a crime. Every poor person in that area, which was most of them save for a few posers, shook their head in understanding.

 

Getting her Vodka, and waiting to make sure everyone else had one as well. She sat down on the ground, her legs curled overlapping in front of her, and held the drink but the rim with all of her fingers, dangling it and twirling it next to her right eye. All eyes surrounding her all focused on her, and she spoke.

 

“When I was small, they told me the world was my oyster. That I could be anything I wanted. All I had to do was work at it. Work for it, towards it. Foolishly, as we all are at younger ages, I believed them. Why wouldn’t we? They were the ones..the ones who knew better. What they didn’t bother to tell me, what I had to learn on my own, is that you could work hard at anything you wanted, but in the end, it might not mean a fucking thing.”

 

“I wanted to be a vet for most of my life. I loved animals and I wanted to help them, save them. I suppose I lost a pet at some point, damned if I can remember, and wanted to ‘make sure it never happened again’ or some thing. But here’s what they don’t tell you. Being a vet is a business. You want to save animals? Well it’s going to cost you. It’s going to cost you and where do you get that money back from? How do you keep the lights on? Afford the best training? Hire people to help? Every pet you save costs you money. And the more you try to save the more it ends up costing. I eventually had to give it up. Not because of the money, though. Because of the failure.”

 

“The failure in that business was unlike any other. You didn’t just let yourself down, you let down an entire family. Friends. Neighbors. Everyone that knew the pet, everyone that knew the family. It was a lot of pressure to put on anyone, let alone someone who thought they’d be saving so many pets, and after a year, I’d not even saved one. Because pets, you see, die more than they are saved. You can try to feed them the best foods, you can walk them during the perfect weather conditions, but it is all a roll of the dice. Feed a dog premium food and he can live for a week, but feed a dog scraps and watch him live for twenty.”

 

“I’ve digressed. Pets dying quickly wasn’t my intended subject. What I wanted to talk about was the world. The world in which we believe we can be whatever we want to be. No, you can not. You can work anywhere, but you can only be one of three things. Predator, Prey, or a witness.”

 

“Prey was never fun. Growing up the way I did, knowing the history you’ve been taught but can’t recall, the way things can go from north to south so quickly, it makes you look over your shoulder for a lot of things. For a lot of people. The women know what I mean. But, the worst part of being prey is that being prey coddles you. Lulls you into a false security, as if the bad things that happen to good people can’t possibly happen to you. You are told the stories and you see the outcome but…can’t happen to you. And then, one day you’re driving to the bakery for some fucking scones, and then…it does. And you realize that you are no longer the main character in your life, but the fucking warning that pops up in someone else’s. You are now a horror story for someone more fortunate. And if you are lucky enough to ever feel that, I highly suggest you embrace it. It is so freeing.”

 

“Not as freeing as being the Predator, though. It took me far longer than I care to admit to embrace this…ideology. I was hiding, you see. Afraid of the world at large and all the people in it, who may or may not still have bits of me they wish to break or remove. Every time the door was knocked upon, or a car backfired, my entire body would tense up and I would be on the verge of vomiting or shitting or both. And then it occurred to me. I wasn’t hiding. I was waiting.”

 

“I was waiting for the next piece of shit to come along and take issue with my existence. Like a dog that looked forward to being kicked, I sat and waited for the next master to take his day out on my ribs, tail wagging all the while. So, I did what any normal, American as apple pie woman would do. I stopped waiting, and…you ever hear the term ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have?’ No? Well I was dressed like a victim. I wasn’t one but i was wearing the uniform. So I took that off, and yeah, I had to get used to it. Find my niche, maybe went a bit too far a bit too often, but like, don’t we all? We’ve all snapped at the wrong person, said the wrong thing, or sent a fetus to the wrong person, I mean, Ye without sin, right?”

 

The crowd did not look away from her, or at each other. This isn’t the office. This is a famous woman telling them a story that they’d never get to hear otherwise and not one of them want to get her off the subject. She smiles, and reveals her shark teeth, and continues.

 

“Anyway, I became not the person I wanted to be, as I have not been a person in a very long time. I became the thing I wanted to be. The thing that haunts people who step out of line. In my eyes, anyway. And I did to them what they did to me. What they would do to me. See, that’s the secret to happiness. It isn’t that golden rule bullshit or that sparking joy shit. It’s about doing to them what they would do to you, but first. And last if you’re a fucking professional, right?”

 

“You ask me about Ascension. About what the plan is. I have one plan, always. And it is the same, always. To find as many people as possible, and to hurt as many people as possible. I am sure that Brandon, Michelle, and Apathy all have their plans and ideas as to strategy. Me. And Eoin. We’re not planners. We’re doers. And what we do is not very nice. But it is so fun. And I love to have fun, guys. I love to have fun with guys like Warstein who think they’re the underground GOAT, despite him not liking that term. He dislikes that term so much I’ll refer to him as nothing else. I love to have fun with guys like this because as talented as they are, they are so insecure, that it is legit the easiest thing in the world to get into their head. They could have a title in each hand and all you have to do is walk by and be all ‘hey bob’ and that’s it for them. Like children. Soft belly little children.”

 

“Like Dickie Wats. The guy everyone thinks is so sad. No, he’s not sad. He’s fucking driven. And while everyone else makes that mistake so often and so easily, it’s to their own detriment. You see that man wanting the world beyond the world he already has as a weakness and that’s on you. I see him as insatiable, and as a thing that agrees with that, I respect it. I want it all, too. Only the ‘all’ I want is not built around accomplishing things, about ‘having.’ The ‘all’ I want is about ‘taking.’ Taking your pride and taking your self esteem and then taking a shit on your name, not out of jealousy, but because I was unmade and made again and I want to see that same look I had on my face, on yours.”

 

“Not just Dickie, or Shawn. Not just Betsy, Murphy, Dane, Joe or Paul, but all of them. All of them is a bit unrealistic, isn’t it? Especially when you consider the fact that all of these people have far more time in the ring than I. Not one of them though, has spent anywhere near as long in hell. The hell of waiting to be the next victim, the hell of being the pet that had to die because saving it was just too expensive. The hell that made me everything but who I fucking was. And it’s that hell that made me. And it’s that fucking hell I’m bringing with me.”

 

“Oh! I almost forgot about Dru! How could I forget about someone so forgettable! Simple. I donnnnnnnnn’tttttttt carrrrreeeee. She got the drop on me last time, it was unexpected. But it happened. Just because it happened once, doesn’t mean it will happen again. Look at Dogecoin, amirite? No? Whatever. Get money, scrubs. She got the drop on me. It’s not like it’s hard, I’m very self centered. But it shan’t be happening once more, as doth shall be denied the retelling of thy story! You know why? Of course you don’t, but I’ll tell you. Because I know she’s coming this time. And this time, there will be no security to stop me. No bodyguards to pull me away from clawing her eyes out. There will be nothing, like Sahara’s ex-boyfriend, to stop me from just…”

 

Sarah mimed reaching into her chest, ripping out her heart, and dropping it to the floor.

 

Sarah downed her vodka and took a deep breath right after. A small tear developed in the corner of her bloodshot eyes, and it was wiped away the corner of her razor sharp nails. A small dot of red appeared in the spot she touched and she shook her head a bit. It was absolutely terrible vodka, you see. She smiled again, this time not revealing her teeth, feeling she had revealed enough, and sat back, putting the glass down on the ground and resting her weight on the palms of her hands.

 

“So yeah, that’s my plan for ascension. What about you?”

 

It was well past 3 am when Sarah finally left Juggs, and went back to her hotel room in the middle of gods nowhere. It had been an expensive night. Flying the lawyer out to Milwaukee and back, buying everyone in the bar watered down drinks, and of course the money thrown to homeless people, or people who seemed homeless. But the most costly thing she had spent that night hadn’t been money. It’d been time.

 

Time she was running out of with every passing second. 

 

She’d kept it at bay with all of her might but the same trick never worked twice, and as hard as she tried, it just kept getting worse. The thoughts, the wants, the inability to see the line before she crossed it. Insanity was taking hold. And once it got its grip on her, there was no way out. She’d seen it before. She was a baby but you don’t forget that kind of crazy looking down on you. It stays with you like a tattoo on your memory.

 

It’s why the priest didn’t bother her. She’d seen the eyes of the madness of men, and that wasn’t them. She didn’t know who he was or what his plan for the others was, but he could take them all and she’d be just fine about it. They were used to this sort of shit anyway. They thrived on it, really. And she’d probably not even be there to witness it, let alone be dragged down by it.

 

Sitting criss-cross applesauce on the edge of the oversized pillow Milwaukee refers to as a ‘mattress,’ she sucks down a Marlboro light and stares at a blank wall that exists beyond the headboard of the bed. Her eyes move rapidly as if she is looking at many things all at once, not able to stare at any one for too long. But it is blank.

 

Finishing the cigarette, she snuffs it out in the ashtray, places the ashtray on the bed and clears her throat harshly. She folds her arms and grasps her sides and she leans backoff the edge of the bed. As she leans back further she puts her head back and closes her eyes tightly. And in the seconds between her closing her eyes and before she falls to the floor head first and knocking herself unconscious, her vision is filled with horror and gore of the likes that movies could not produce. And she will never forget.

 

And the fall she takes, while it is not long, it is enough, and she slips from the sleepless consciousness she has had quite enough. In her unconscious state, she has visions of a life unlived, a love unending, and accomplishments so grand that even mountains exist in their shade.