The Reeking Soul in Speech

Posted on March 11, 2011


Part One

It started on Saturday evening, one of those warm days of June, when we had the team building night out. I was one of the sophomores who were preparing for specific study programs next year. By joining the team organizing the trip, I shared the golden chance of enjoying superiority in mediocrity, where we could sneer over the juniors since the seniors were on their exam prep. And most specially, we invited a group of alumni the girls would cheer for.

It wasn’t a very long trip to get there from our school. The cottage was deep in the forests, lying so incredibly beautiful with a lake to look over where sunrises would peek back to you. It was a perfect temperature for circling around the balcony over fire, guitar, crack, booze, and everything else illegal through the night. We spent most of the Sunday morning lazying around and playing around the cottage until the dusk called. We dropped by a steak house before heading back to town almost midnight because the dinner had ran late. And so my unforgettable adventure began.

Jon was someone among the alumni. Tall, dark, lanky, nine years older, spruce, and studious. He was in a band, which was a big deal for me who was in a flimsy stage of rockstardome. He drove my car for us to get to the cottage, and now he insisted to drive us home. Three of our previous passengers had caught up in lovestruck during the trip and decided to join the other cars, thus left the two of us together alone.

I saw Jon taking off his black leather jacket and laying it down on the driver’s seat. The moment he closed the driver’s door, I caught a whiff of something awful I couldn’t forget. The smell got stronger when we drove down the hill to the main road and somehow I was sure it was coming from something inside the car. So I encouraged myself to ask.

He replied,

Yeah, some kind of..  woody smell, right? I guess Lisa might’ve left something behind?

I checked the backseat. Nothing.

I remembered Lisa collecting branches along the ride back then but the nerdy girl has already left the car with a stack of dead stems hours ago and it kind of nonsense the smell would stay that long. Then again, the smell wasn’t even close to something like plant. It smelled like something I refused to think about.

There was a brief silence before he told me a long story about this left wing youth group gathering he went to when he left at the last minutes of our dinner. I could see how crazy he was about it. Well, it seemed like nobody was immune to it at that time. Suddenly, somewhere between a clear sense of loathing and a sheer sense of logic, my mind wondered wild and quick: if there was any kind of a youth group that encouraged cultic act that involves sodomitical practice? Because somehow in that moment I had a feeling that someone must have had done him a sacred communion of body and soul, so unpleasant that he crapped his pants.

Yes, for heaven’s sake, the car smelled like crap. So sickening I teared my eyes.

I didn’t say anything, I didn’t know how to respond either. He sounded so fiery but the thoughts that filled my head was even more extremely burning. I was barely listening. And if I had a question, it would have been: If you are so devoted to the Big Brother, wasn’t there always a way to cope that doesn’t have to end in suffering?

Yea! It was time to unfreeze.

It was Bowie’s “Watch That Man” playing on my car audio.

You like old music so much, aren’t you?, He asked

Just some, I replied.

Good Lord. The smell. I remembered the smell of vomit, dog shit, rotten toe, anything, I remembered how they twist my head abominably. But this one topped everything I’ve sniffed under the sun. What was exactly this lingering stench in my car? And what if I was wrong, what if it was smell of corpse, instead of human crap? I haven’t smelled the corpse but I heard it’s also the kind smell you won’t forget. However, I doubted anyone could actually put a corpse in my car during the trip, and from what I heard it supposed to be moderate in 24 hours after death. Now nothing could get any worse than this. I wasn’t sure what it was, except it was very disturbing that it gave me more horrors than any scarier aspects in this world. Oh. I couldn’t stay in uncertainty like this. I meant, how am I gonna tell my Mom, that my — her car, just got shitted.

The car reeked like a tomb. I wished I could get knocked out and faint immediately. I was feeling mentally assaulted. And for the first time in my life I thought I was speaking for all the victims in the world.

Part Two

Bowie sang, watch that man!

We were racing through the highway with 20 miles to go when the severe urge to pee had me. There were times where I had this little pee holding mantra of mine that could work its charm right away. It was by dispensing all the force and urgency to a sex dream. We all have quirks, right. And mine was this strange feeling of arousal I had when I have my bladder full. Once I got into it, it felt like the huge water balloon that was sitting in my abdomen just gone. And maybe, focusing on it could get rid the smell off the reality. I crossed my legs, imagined and imagined something sensual. I adjusted my sit upright, tried to get relaxed and concentrated on the next track coming from the player. It was “Complete Control” by The Clash.

He broke my meditation for talking about the group again, giving me strong suspicion that he was actually trying to recruit me into a cult group. I thought he was trying to stretch his left hand to me, but apparently it was the dashboard in front of me. He opened it and checked what was inside the drawer. Some were my Mom’s.

So, how did you start to stem to prog bands?

Em.. I actually got this one from someone on the internet, he mentioned it. Well. Spending half of your school in room listening to one album doesn’t necessarily mean you’re rooting for the band’s ideology, right?

I chuckled. He didn’t.

I just like the music. Just liking it—I don’t really care whether it’s FM friendly, or something that has obscure taste or anything. What was in my playlist is nothing about sitting there being a left wing extremist or a mad artist, neither about succumbing to the frivolous movement and being hip. It’s up to my personal taste, it’s a condemnation to my current state and mood. I don’t really care actually. Speaking of which, I wonder if letting out your waste and leaving it to dry inside your pants could be counted as condemnation?

But all that came out of my mouth was only the first two sentences. I didn’t like the fact he responded with such emotionless face.

And then I saw a chance of swerving to take one or two deep breaths at the rest area. So I asked it anyway,

Can we stop by..? There was a sign saying it’s in half mile about.

Hm, is it okay for you hold it a bit more? I guess we’ll make it home in 15 minutes.

It wasn’t really surprising that he refused and sped up. And it was also kinda too late. The idea of having trapped for two hours inside this car had already scared the pee out of me. And as I got carried away with exterminating those anxious feelings, I got constantly adapted to the growing pain. The cars on the right lane were pulled away. We were driving so fast.

Yeah.. I’m good.

He didn’t know how not being able to do anything made me feel so pathetic. In fact, I was always that pathetic. I never made the most of the chances I was given, that’s why I always ended up suffocating. In one moment, I noticed that I didn’t speak idle chit chat much.

He asked me what do I like from the glam scene. He asked me if I was sexually interested in men with glitters. He asked me about my dreams and obsessions. He asked me about my choice of study program. I never understood why did he want to know so much. I was barely eighteen back then. Is it worth to consider a seventeen years old? But I thought he wouldn’t give a fuck, however, I was a kid back then, who had a dream, once, about becoming a social activist and leading a bohemian life. I was never fond of anyone who asks me questions about my life. Before he could scoff at me, and without wanting to be heard as though I was retorting, I told him a little about my family and school. That was before he scoffed at me, remember that. Not that it would mean anything, but I just couldn’t get myself to say my point so I spoke gibberish and wrapped it up by insisting that glam was nothing about libido. He nodded.

I glanced up at him to address my answers politely, only to find just how bad the idea was. It turned out that specific position really mattered to deeply intensify the sensation. Before the smell grew even stronger and hurting, I looked away, facing the road in front of us.

And then I looked back over my life and I realized that I never made my own decision. I was a weak person, I was really gullible and easily swayed. I didn’t know what brought me so uptight and defensive. That time, I watched my hopes and dreams fleeting across my window, fading away with the lights along the lane.

Ooh ooh ooh have we done something wrong? Ooh ooh ooh complete control, even over this song, said Joe Strummer.

My sigh broke a long silence. I skipped the next song before he could ask anything else. I started to think that he was deliberately trying to drive the conversation this way to distract me from the uncanny smell, not to judge me. Then why did I keep feeling it as a threat to my identity, an insult to my choice? Although I knew it couldn’t be. Since I’ve got his secret, I didn’t see his words had the power to do so.

One of the car light was dead, so I pretended to be aware of everything in front of us although it seemed kind of useless. My eyesight have always been severely limited after the sundown, thanks to some weird virus. I told him just to chill and keep a distance. He seemed to ignore me and accelerated through the highway. He was never easy on the gas.

At 01:16 AM we arrived at my house. He took his jacket from the seat but he didn’t wear it on. He said he would take a cab. I didn’t say much but ‘thanks‘.

Outside the garage, I saw the street lights flickering on and off as he walked to the end of the street and disappeared like a phantom. With my head spinning around, I went back to the garage, into the car, which I proceeded to climb, and braced myself to smell the driver’s seat. And just like a phantom, the smell was gone.

It must be staying on his skinny jeans forever.

June 2008.

And here goes the conventional pencil sketch, because I never finish things I started :B

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