Freud something something
Sex something something Death

by William Squirrell

A time-travelling Nazi assassin is hiding in my closet. Black hair falls across his pale forehead. His name is Vincent. He has an English accent—not the posh one—and a well-tailored suit. He is taller than Dad, with broad shoulders and thin hips. He trips over things, bangs his shins, knocks books off shelves. I tell him to be careful, we’re going to get caught, my dad is practically a Bolshevik. He apologizes, and then bangs his head as he retreats into the closet.

“Sorry,” he mutters. “Sorry.”

Argument with Dad about affirmative action. How can someone so old be so naïve?

Vincent hears us yelling, hears Dad shouting after me, hears me slam the door and throw myself on the bed.

“Are you okay?” he whispers.

He pushes open the closet door and trips over my schoolbag, knocks my alarm clock from the nightstand, clutches at it as it falls, and collapses into a heap of long limbs.

“Jesus Christ!” I hiss. “Be careful!”

“Sorry,” he whispers. “Sorry.”

“Forget it,” I say. “They’ll just think it’s my tantrum.”

Vincent sits on the bed.

“You okay?” he asks.

“I hate my Dad,” I say.

Vincent waits.

“I was explaining to him,” I say, “how he’d been taken in by the media, by their Marxist-Humanist worldview, the pipe dream of democratic equivalence, and so he launched into his usual speech about social and economic injustice.”

Vincent snorts.

“I know, right?” I say. “And when I suggested he’s hypocritical, that he spent his whole life trading on the same class and racial privilege he now wants to deny me, he said I knew nothing about sacrifice and struggle and historical process.”

“But you do, don’t you?” Vince looks directly into my eyes. “You do know about sacrifice and struggle and historical process.”

“That’s right,” I say. “I do.”

But I’m suddenly not so sure. In fact, I feel like I know nothing at all, nothing real, I feel that all I know are Vince’s dark eyes, the bangs falling across his forehead, his perfect pale skin, the peppermint on his breath.

We spend all night playing Doom. Vincent sucks. You would think he’d be better at that sort of thing than me but he’s crap. I tell him about Oswald Spengler as we play, about how mathematics is a cultural production that does not describe reality as accurately as people like to think. That’s why they always get it wrong; the polls and the political scientists and the television windbags. Being in tune with the spirit of a culture, with the zeitgeist, is more important than the accumulation of empirical data. I explain contemporary American politics, how cowardly and craven it is, how corrupted, how it was once about great men in open conflict and now it is all backroom deals and kickbacks and achieving consensus. Vincent says he is lucky to have found me, he would be lost without me. I think so too, but that comment gets me thinking about why he is here, in the 21st century, in Orangeville, in my room, with me.

When I ask, he gets mysterious and vague. He says something about dialectic crosswinds and forward-motion-only shift phases, Anarcho-syndicalist incident traps and second-wave feminist ontologonauts armed with stasis bombs. It makes no sense at all. It is like he is making shit up. I’m tired. I fall asleep while he talks. I wake up in the middle of the night tucked in, the TV off, cupboard door closed.

The next night we watch The Boys from Brazil. Vincent laughs so uproariously at Gregory Peck savaged by dogs that I shush him. Then YouTube footage of soccer riots, race riots, communal riots, electoral riots, labor riots. After that “Lili Marleen,” “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles,” “Es zittern die morschen Knochen,” and that Horst Wessel song. When I doze off, he is singing: “a rush and a push and the land that we stand on is ours.”

I come home from school to see Vincent peering out the window. When I get upstairs he is in the closet pretending to be asleep. There is a Dr. Pepper by the computer which I had not given him. The search history shows he has been watching porn and Googling: “Nuremberg Trials” “Spandau Ballet” “Heidegger Controversy.” After supper, when I bring up my leftovers, he finally emerges from his hole. We talk about physical hygiene and mental health, about staying strong when the world is degraded, about how hard it is to be the smartest guy in the room and not have anyone notice. Later, I wonder if he can hear me when I masturbate in the dark.

Wake up tired.

Dad provides his Althusserian critique of the news over breakfast, and Mom is too preoccupied with Work at Big Firm to appreciate the quality of my wisecracks.

Argument with Carpool Todd about the historicity of the slave mentality. Carpool Todd ignores me at lunch, sits with Christian Todd and the Born-Agains.

God. How transparent.

In history, I argue the word ‘genocide’ is currently applied with such promiscuous abandon it has become entirely impoverished of meaning. Ms. X tells me I’m better than that.

Come home and discover Vincent spent the whole day playing first-person shooters online, eating Doritos, drinking Dr. Pepper. Tell him he is becoming decadent. He sulks in the closet but comes out for his leftovers. Dad’s dry meatloaf and runny mashed potatoes. Vince loves it. Play a little more Doom. Give him some pointers this time. Discuss the role of Bretton Woods in the decline of the West. Just before bed he says he won’t be bothering me for much longer, the extraction team has located his beacon and is waiting for optimal conditions. He says it is for the best. He says I need to grow into my destiny without any temporal anomalies distorting my trajectory. That night we make love. In the morning he is gone, the closet empty, and I am alone.

William Squirrell is a pseudonym.
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