Collected shortworks of all types.

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We clung to the American dream, rode it like a cheap street walker, enjoyed its bounty and the feeling when it came. It was the feeling of peace, of being well fed, of shelter. It was the feeling of security. We were conquerors in the land of kings, and there was no end to our reward and our glory. More than milk and honey, our dreams had turned to faster computers and quieter cars. Our nights we spent longing for the green feel of flesh, legal tender to buy what the rest of the world could not afford.

But we were destroyers. We were parasites.

For us, the dream had turned sweetly sour. Purpose was a thing of the past.

If a man is starving, he will find a way to eat. If a man cannot eat all that is placed before him, he will waste what he does not want. We had lost our way. Before us, our fathers knew direction. They knew goals and schedules, spoke to us of meetings and agendas, hinted at darker things when the women were away. They had fought the wars; World War II, Korea, Viet Nam. We fought for nothing. Their friends died in the endeavor, died for freedom. Our friends died over drug deals gone bad, senseless gang rivalry.

Where they knew the naiveté of distance, we were raised to know the oppression of free information. Facsimile machines. Modems. Optical fibers.

Where they went fishing or camping in the country with their fathers, we explored gutters and hunted crayfish in concrete aqueducts. We found excitement in hallucinogens and gunplay. We dreamed of Hollywood and its vices, unprotected by the family church and its dirt floor revivals of the past. Talking in tongues was something we did only while tripping.

To be sure, we enjoyed the American dream, rode it like a ten dollar whore. But we were destroyers, parasites.

We did not contribute, we took. In a sense, we did not dream the dream, we were the dream's inhabitants. We were the thought of ones, the hoped for, we were the dreams of young Republicans, the aspirations of burgeoning Democrats. We were raised in the sickly shadow of the television war, Viet Nam.

As we came of age, we were dissuaded of the virtues of physical combat by mothers who had seen brothers murdered in the jungle. By sisters who knew the terror of midnight telephone calls and Saturday afternoon letters from good ol' Uncle Sam.

War was not, for us, a thing of stars and stripes, fife music and Normandy beachheads. War was a thing of alleyways and jackknifes. It was a thing of vengeance and three fifty seven magnums. We carried nine millimeters instead of Tommy guns. Funny thing, though. Our dead were just as dead as our fathers'.

Only difference? My friends didn't die for an abstract cause.

They died for purely temporal things, physical things you could reach out and touch, and not just debate. They died for quarter bags and eight balls. They died for fronts un-repaid. They died for wearing the wrong colors on the wrong streets at the wrong time of night. You could actually look at your watch and see what cause they had died defending.

If death was so different, then it only followed that life should hold a different meaning for us, as well. We didn't know how to live day to day. We were taught to maintain and sustain a lifelong offensive against our comfort zones. Accomplishing more and more for themselves, our fathers sought to hand the baton over when their step faltered. They prepared us.

It wasn't enough. They didn't take enough time from their one sided wars to train us properly for ours.

Sure, some of us assimilated by imitation. Man is the mundane monkey. He will pretend to be what he is not until reality fits the dream.

But the rest of us danced not for God and country. We danced for the feel of skin touching skin. We danced for debauchery. THAT was our American dream, a bastardization of the hand-me-down, grandiose visions of our ancestors. More and more, better and better, faster and faster, higher and higher, bigger and bigger.

That was all we knew. More to eat. Better surroundings. Faster cars. Higher highs. Bigger jobs, bigger muscles, bigger houses, bigger dicks.

Our needs were the same, for we knew nothing else, but our cravings were more complex, more interwoven. If anything, we wanted more for ourselves than we could reasonably attain. That, I think, tipped the scales. At that point, the dream became a nightmare.

It ran away from us one night in high school as we lay panting in our first love bed, as we inhaled on our first joint, as we skipped our first day of school. The dream started feeding on itself, getting fatter and fatter, growing daily with each knew gadget we came to desire, with each new bauble we longed to possess. Blinded by our own visions, we lost the way, digressed from our fathers' carved pathways to success.

We found ourselves adrift with no compass. We found ourselves loose on an insane, everlasting night, wandering with the careless abandon of complete, immoral freedom.

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