Chapter Five: Cathode Rays, Cooking and Kafka by Chuck Young

Flashes of color fill the room, throwing a party on bare white walls. The volume is turned all of the way down. The power button of the remote control is kept at a thumb’s length to my right in case there are slight changes in the sonic science of the house. There is no need to worry.

Red, green and blue electron beams paint nude women in sexual scenarios across all 525 scan lines of my 12” television screen, repeating 30 times per second in order to give the seamless illusion of motion. I’m laying on my stomach, consumed in the phosphorescence, craning my neck in order to visually absorb all 349,920 pixels, simultaneously sandwiching my erection between my body and the smooth sheets of my bed; the lower half of my body undulating like a determined low tide.

As the frenzied physical starts drowning out the analytical, my bed and I become mortar and pestle.

My heart drives the primal beat of its drum into my pelvic region at an increasing rate of syncopation. The hypnosis of its rushed rhythm lulls my brain into a state of consciousness based primarily on thousands of years of collective memory. Every muscle in my body pulsates with the resolve of animal instinct. The autopilot switch has now been completely turned on.

This crescendo reaches a fevered height within minutes. Every ounce of my anatomy is pulled taut. My toes have curled. My breathing has stopped. The pounding of the drum is silenced. The region of brain behind my left eye shuts down. I hang in that lucid balance for a millisecond….

I then let out a breath as if it is the first of my life and everything is released. The Earth explodes. Warmth and comfort engulfs every aspect of my being. Though it is one giant physiological tingle, it feels as spiritual as the ascent into the unknown ecstasy of the after life. Or as close to it as my imagination can allow. Every cell is now relaxed.

As I start the metamorphosis from animal back to human, the panic sets in. The massaging wave that had crashed up and down my guts and bloodstream has also found external birth. I come to the realization that an eruption has occurred. Evidence exists in the soiling of pressed sheets. I try to wipe splatter off my stained skin with my hand. I take deep breaths.

As stealthily as possible I creep out into the hallway and into the bathroom. My hurried motion sends prayers up into the sky, hoping no one stumbles upon the crime scene of my bed. I Lady Macbeth my hands with vigor under hot water. I then grab a washcloth and slip back into my bedroom undetected. I kneel down on the floor and furiously wipe the sheets like a murderer cleaning up blood that metaphorically never disappears. When my obsessive-compulsive disorder subsides as much as possible, I clumsily throw the washcloth into the hamper and lay down on my damp spot.

I wipe the sweat off of my forehead and will my eyes shut. The Stranger in my Brain starts prattling on about how everyone is going to know. I picture myself walking into a school lit only by black lights, my tainted skin glowing, a scarlet letter of C painted on my chest. I see myself through others eyes as some sort of half-man half-beast: hair on my palms and upper lip, a constant sweat glow, a glazed over look in my eyes.

“They’re all going to know. They’re all going to know. You are no longer the person you were ten minutes ago.” The Stranger in my Brain keeps me awake all night.


Profile: Chuck Young

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