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Jay Lights Up
©Tim Barker 2000

Luminescence provided a backdrop into which he plunged headlong. City lights breathed a sigh of relief, penetrating the darkness with neon intensity.

Crossing the road became a nightmare of immense proportions involving navigation of symbolic icons plastered around varying stages of his chosen path. Successful completion of the task at hand meant interpreting the aforementioned symbols and reaching the intended conclusion. However, somewhere between brain and eye the information had become corrupted resulting in a near miss with a transport of some kind. This was enough to signal a re-evaluation of circumstances and the formation of some kind of plan.

"Shit, how am I supposed to judge this kind of situation with a head full of chemicals ?" Jay asked of himself. "I mean, the lights look so pretty. What is their meaning ?"

A gaggle of girls walked past Jay tittering at his inadequacies. "Whatís it all mean ?" Jay asked of the girls.
"Youíre mashed man !" Came a reply.
"Yeah, guilty." Jay admitted.


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The plan which he formulated was to stay put until the green man appeared which he dredged from the deepest part of his memory and associated with safety. Whether this was a false presumption or not he couldn't really say but he needed a plan and for some reason this one sounded OK. So, he sat down at the edge of the road and waited. And waited. And waited, eventually becoming bored and disillusioned, so much so that he returned to an almost upright position and started walking.

Soon enough he encountered a bridge that seemed to span the road thus providing an answer to his current problem. Jay therefore circumnavigated the obstacle and subsequently obtained a birds eye view of the cities accidental fireworks.

The combination of chemical enhancements and neon offerings created an unimaginable party atmosphere in the mind of Jay. He let out a shriek in recognition of the pyrotechnic mastery. A police car went careering below him, creating a rave-like atmosphere replete with flashing lights and electronic noises and no hint of paranoia.

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Jay wished there was someone to share this joy with but he had the party all to himself. Once the obstacle had been left far behind Jay regained some kind of composure.

In fact, he almost knew where he was heading although he thanked God for auto-pilot for he was finding his way home on some base instinctual level. Faces he encountered in the orange night seemed strangely mutated and unrecognisable. He must have trod this path many times before but the dynamic nature of city inhabitants created a shifting backdrop against which he was meant to navigate.

It must have been easier in the old days when you knew where the stars were and could find your way home by them. But, in the light-polluted atmosphere of the modern conurbations the old ways had been long forgotten, to be replaced by more recent, less intuitive developments.

Jay was now on very familiar ground. He recognised the drab houses, poorly dressed with fences, cladding and lanterns. This was home turf, a far cry from the man-made heaven of the dancefloor and ecstatic elation. Reality hit Jay hard. He reached for a Marlboro, lit it and inhaled itís soothing, pacifying and reassuring mixture of substances.

Tonight, he knew, he would lie on his bed and re-live the magic lantern show that had entertained him earlier, then tomorrow he would do it all again.

(c) Tim Barker 2000


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