Lately I’ve gotten a lot of questions from readers about my situation, which I’d like to take the time to answer here.
Caroline from Ann Arbor, MI writes: Hey John, You keep saying “Day X of my captivity.” If you’re locked away without a view of the outside world, how do you know what day it is?
Thanks for writing, Caroline. When you never see sunlight, you don’t lose track of time completely, you just end up inventing your own method of tracking it. For instance, I have no idea what day of the week it actually is, however I do feel (though I can not be 100% certain) that I know how many days I have been here. Each day I stay awake until my eyelids are having trouble staying open. I sleep, and when I awaken I call it “tomorrow.” I get up immediately, resisting the urge to snooze on the cot, and in this way I keep my sleep schedule regulated and hopefully unchanged. So while I may not know for certain if the people outside are calling this moment “morning,” or even if the sun is shining, I do have my own “mornings,” “afternoons,” and “evenings” corresponding to certain daily rituals, such as doing an hour’s worth of push-ups and sit-ups, or being taken to the Blogging Chamber to sit at this very keyboard and answer imaginary mother fuckers from Ann Arbor who DONT EVEN EXIST, BECAUSE NO ONE CAN WRITE TO ME, BECAUSE ALL I HAVE IS A WORDPRESS ACCOUNT, AN ANIMATED GORILLA CONVINCED I NEED THE ASKJEEVES TOOLBAR, AND TWELVE READERS WHO JUST KEEP READING MY BLOG INSTEAD OF CALLING. THE. POLICE. What the hell is wrong with you people?! Have they built a perfect android replica of me to take my place? I can’t be even five miles from my house. You are checking all the wrong underground prisons.
Manila Man came back the very next day. I was sitting on the toilet doing my business when he slid into view on the other side of the bars, hands behind his back, a most satisfied look upon his face. I sat there with my pants around my ankles glaring at him.
My displeasure in seeing him wasn’t merely due to the Gun To Your Head Humor Writing course he had taught the previous day. That didn’t do anything to improve trust in our relationship mind you, but you see, I’m the kind of guy who upon entering a bathroom sits down in a stall (the handicapped one of course, those things are the penthouse suite of any public restroom) and then waits for everyone else to leave.
I can not crap with someone else in the room. I especially can’t crap with someone making full-on eye contact with me on the commode. It had taken me three days in this hole to determine the time when no one walks by for five minutes so I could empty my bowels in peace. Now here was Mister Hard-Copy, smiling like it was his birthday, ruining everything.
After five or six interminable seconds staring at one another I asked, “Can we reschedule this? I’m a little busy.” He withdrew his hand from behind his back and Well how about that, if it wasn’t my old friend his gun! “You’re pointing a gun at a dude sitting on a toilet behind bars,” I said attempting to shame him into leaving me alone to finish. Of course, it didn’t work.
“Stand up, Blogger,” he said, twitching the gun upward. “Nice and easy.”
I stood, pulling up my jeans in the process and wondering what sudden moves he thought I might be preparing with my pants at my feet. Manila Man opened my cell door while I fastened them. I flushed, because even after twelve days I have not yet lost my humanity, then he directed me out and down the hall with more pistol motions and muzzle-jabs in the lower back. When I was finally seated in the Blogging Chamber, the gun rested casually at the base of my skull.
“It seems putting a gun to your head has inspired you,” he said behind me, having no idea what he was talking about. “Yesterday was some of your best work.”
“Don’t you read what I write in here? That part about how life-threatening demands to be funny are the exact opposite of–”
“Draw me that comedy graph you mentioned,” he interrupted.
There was no use talking to this guy. I sighed and opened the Start menu, finding one of the only apps still available to me on the Compaq: Microsoft Paint.
Creating the image shouldn’t have taken long, but having a gun to your head makes thinking difficult. Luckily, dude in the suit didn’t seem to mind; he and his firearm waited patiently behind me. Sadly, I was only minutes into my drawing when he broke the silence with smalltalk. “I came up with a good idea the other day,” he said. I said nothing, but my lack of interest didn’t phase him. “I want to start a band.”
Oh my god. Of course you do. I contemplated going for the gun right then and there. Worst case scenario: I get out of this “conversation” before it goes any further.
“Me and some buddies of mine really like My Morning Jacket. Do you know them? They’re incredible live. Anyway, instead of My Morning Jacket we’re gonna be My Magnum Dong. We’re gonna be a Morning Jacket cover band, except take all their songs and make them about dicks.”
I have to write this down, I thought. I had never been truly speechless until this moment. But my life depended upon finishing the graph picture first, so I kept at it, filing the conversation away in my mental list of things to blog about.
The next 10 minutes were spent listening to a list of dong-songs and finishing this masterpiece:
He slammed every finger against the Prnt Scrn button as soon as the picture appeared. I took a breather and just watched him go at it for a while. Once I had printed the beginning of this post (a blank page, just the graph), he was out the door.
He was gone for maybe half an hour while I wrote, then in an instant he was bursting in, gun raised and between my widening eyes.
“Explain it,” he said.
There. It has taken me 3 days to write this. I think.
Much has happened and I’m beginning to no longer feel like myself. Tomorrow (day 13, i believe): the graph explained, but briefly. Much has happened, and I want to finish my story.
I want that gun.