** There’s a nightmare in The Situation. Happens about a third of the way through, so you don’t have to worry, you light sleepers, you precious happy-ending seekers. It’ll be over soon. But try telling Bryan “Weed” Tecco that. Try telling Chris Leavitt that his troubles are past him, or that life after childhood is a good idea. Try telling the traumatized that it’ll be over soon. So what can you do? Well, not that he’d planned it this way, but Weed is poised for a lesson in humility, which I haughtily imply is not a bad thing. But I proceed gently, even tenderly in this matter, placing him an infant’s clothing–a diaper–which, among other things, recalls for him the dead-in-the-water invention idea of Chris’ from CFTH. If only Weed’s dilettante friend could see him now, trapped on a gurney, kidnapped by a lunatic intent upon sexual intrusion. He might be horrified to know that a diaper, his one fruitful symbol of regression, the one idea in his head that wasn’t linked to dark secrets from the past, could be used for a sinister purpose, as the idea he’d dreamt of was all about salutary anticipation: detecting what is there when the senses–sight and smell–are not available
Bryan “Weed” Tecco thinks he’s going crazy. For the last several hours, or thereabouts, he’s been tied up on a bed in a basement of…somewhere. There’s been no sign of Dan Pritchard since he passed out in the car. Weed is almost naked but for a heavy pair of underwear. Despite this, his body is just about covered: over his chest, across his ankles, over his head and hands is a network of straps fixed to plastic rods, pinned to what might be a bed—possibly a gurney. It’s an elaborate system that allows some flexibility, and just about keeps him warm. Weed can move. Meaning, he can wriggle and shake. He can’t speak due to what feels like a boxer’s mouth guard that is fixed into place by another strap, but he can utter muffled noises. He can thrash about and give the elastic restraints, and himself, a good workout. When he gets exhausted he can fall asleep and pass the time, because the bed is actually quite comfortable, except he’s cold. When he awakens, he can start again, hoping that sooner or later his efforts will pay off, and that the restraints will break. When they don’t seem to—when the sheepskin-like straps remain untroubled by his thrashing about—he can slump back and rest again for a spell. He can cry.
Weed hasn’t cried in years: not since he was preteen. Back then he cried a lot; got it out of his system, he later joked. Now they’re back, the tears. They’re streaming down his face, running over his lips and into his mouth, which now hangs open in a suspended, distraught howl. Weed can move but he can’t get out. He is trapped, yet teased with the ability to stretch. If he could free his hands from a pair of taped-on gloves, he might rip at the material that’s holding him down. If he could somehow bump the guard away from his mouth, or move his head such that he could look up and down his own body, he might assess the problem and find a way out. He’d bite, claw, and tear at these straps until his fingernails tore away; until his teeth broke. He reminds himself of the lagoon, of the pain of nearly drowning. In some ways this is worse, he thinks, and there is no special breed of seaweed around for him to reach out to.
He doesn’t know what time it is, but knows it’s daytime from a shard of light that beams down through a window in the opposite top corner of the room. That is Dan’s only act of kindness, or mistake: the likely decision to not cover up the gap. By the level of brightness, Weed guesses that it’s morning. The sunlight has a vaguely fresh feeling. Also, Weed feels the way he often does on a weekend morning: it’s a pleasant fatigue enabling a lazy sleep-in followed by a dawdling saunter through the day. He feels like a blind man trying to navigate his way through the world from memory and random impressions. The room seems tidy enough: there are no cobwebs that he can see; not a lot of dust. It seems like he’s underground, but thankfully, there are no scratchy sounds of rats or any other kind of rodent. There are no creepy inanimate sounds to speak of, and no flies buzzing about his face, tormenting him. Fleetingly, he thinks he could really get into an investigatory mood if this were an exercise. It could be like some kind of deprivation game reminiscent of the kind of things talked about in military boot camps, or by martial arts fanatics. Through the clues around him he could construct meanings and strategize: what time of what day is it? What kind of place is he in? What’s the likelihood of being rescued?
He figures one thing out through a force of nature. The need to urinate comes on quickly, which in turn alerts his brain to re-evaluate what he’s wearing. As his sensation builds he goes through a body check: he fidgets to see what kind of resistance there is in the underwear. He shakes himself to see what degree of give there is in the crotch. His dick feels strangely comfortable; held, even. He can feel it but can’t move it, because it’s cushioned within some kind of cotton bedding. It’s unsettling no matter how good it feels. Meanwhile, the stream is imminent, yet there’s no way he can get free. A panic rises. He doesn’t remember this feeling; his body and brain aren’t on the same page. How can they be? They don’t know what to do, and he can’t fathom how any living being can get relief without…
“Jesuf…” he manages through the guard. A diaper. I’m sitting in a fucking diaper, he realizes—then he lets go.
This is not an exercise, Weed thinks as his body relaxes. It may be an experiment, but not one of his choosing. Is it a game? He wonders. Dan Pritchard seemed interested in games, in the games Weed plays, and expertly tests. Dan had tried to engage Weed in a talk about games, but Weed wasn’t interested. Weed blew him off. Maybe something happened to Dan in those moments; something the older man kept to himself but then acted upon. Then again, he’d likely planned this all along, as soon as he’d seen Weed by the side of road, plodding along; a weary, vulnerable transient. As Weed tilts his head slightly to his right, he can just about make out a staircase leading upwards. Its top three or four steps are obscured by a cylindrical tank that looks like the property’s heating system. It seems small—only a few feet wide and tall—suggesting a home, not a commercial piece of real estate. These clues tell a story about what kind of place this is. The meaning is simple and obvious, yet under the circumstances, primitively moving for Weed: this isn’t an abandoned room. People either live or work here. They take those stairs, frequent this fairly clean-looking environment. Maybe they hang out down here and play sometimes. Somebody looks after this space. Somebody cares, and that means Weed won’t be alone forever.
And, of course, he has a song stuck in his head. It’s not a song he likes. Songs that get “stuck” never seem to be ones that people actually like. If that were the case then for Weed it would be something by Led Zeppelin, Metallica, or Korn—something that would keep him fired up, and more. Modern Wagnerian sounds: they sanctify the lives of the wretched, stirring Weed’s soul. He’d settle for less. Even a little house music wouldn’t be amiss. But no, it’s nothing like that. Instead, the song is a childish ditty, practically a nursery rhyme. It’s something that Weed sort of remembers his Dad singing with one of his friends at a New Year’s party when he was a kid. The worst part is that Weed isn’t even getting the words right, which nags at his perfectionism. The first part, the most famous bit, is correct—Roll out the barrel—but the second bit—Roll out the barrel of fun—doesn’t sound right. And it’s on a loop. Eventually, the song turns to something else, but even though Weed loves Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, “I’m Waiting For The Man” isn’t making him feel any better.
At the same time, Weed is trying to will Dan Pritchard into an appearance. If he concentrates hard enough, long enough, he can also wear down the resistance of that resilient sheepskin material, and eventually make the straps loosen just enough so that he might free himself. They feel childlike, these regressions and wishes. That’s okay, Weed figures. Meaning, it makes sense. It’s human. Fantasies are what he has for the moment, and who knows how long this moment will last? So, for as long as this takes, for as long as he is helpless, he’ll let himself feel like a child, and act like a child until someone lets him be an adult again. It shouldn’t be that hard, being a child. After all, though he doesn’t remember it, Bryan “Weed” Tecco was once a helpless child.
** photo by Helnwein