From the Seventh Circle of Hell

I am a stranger in a strange land here. I overdosed on Xanax, got on my flying ship, and went across the world. I was free to pretend to be someone else, anyone I wanted to be, from anywhere, any occupation. This is a sort of liberty, a liberty most liberating for a man who contrives a show and hides behind pretenses and cryptic, self abusing absurdity. I don’t really know how to convey the state of mind. It’s a form of self abandonment, a means to punish oneself for, if you know me, for obvious reasons. Every relationship I’ve ever created and maintained is filtered through varying degrees of tubes, levels of real information, partly truth, partly fiction, whatever; it does not matter who I am at any given time, to me, and that allows me to be anyone. It could be said that this is a form of schizophrenia, in one regard I identify with a varying degree of faces, faces that I put on in public, when I’m somewhere new, when I’m halfway across the world an hours drive away from a recurring star of my fantasies and though I know and have relished and was overjoyed at this possible meeting, I refused to allow myself the pleasure. I knew what it would do. I had to stay away. I had to be deleted and erased or things would go wrong: the probabilities for future actions can be determined and calculated based on projected impressions creating certain responses from other people. You appeal to the right parts of their personality, and you can get the behavior or the action out of them to a predictable degree after a certain period of time. This is a detestable quality in man, this intentional, farcical impression provocation. If you want to make someone happy, find what makes them laugh, find what they like, and become it. It’s as easy as putting on a pair of shoes to become any type of person there is. Affectation is much more than a word, it’s a safety net. When your real self is never on the line, your real self is never in danger. That’s the problem with people and emotions, their true selves begin to show, the costumes begin to slip, and the ridiculous charade falls apart and when you’re naked and exposed, you know the hatred that you’ve caused, you know the impression: the show is a flop, the audience never applauds, and in the end, you wind up in a silent cell with nothing but spite for yourself. I started actively hating myself and intentionally wounding myself when I was very young. When I didn’t know the definition of a word in school, I’d cut it into the bottom of my foot, to remember it, to punish myself for my own stupidity. When I write these days, after I finished Nobody and found little interest on the market, writing, which was essentially all I did, became a dwindling flame. I didn’t want to do it anymore. It hurts. Writing a novel is like having a child; you’re pulling out a chunk of yourself and setting it to page. Why? That’s a terrible question. I started writing when the voices started. This isn’t some garden variety schizophrenia; these are active ghosts, ghosts with histories, with personalities, with their own permanent archetype, all of these different people are inside my head. I have likened it to a coliseum. I walk around with a colliseum of diverging personalities arguing inside of my head, against my will. It’s like tuning into a radio station, a radio station that spans several languages, personality types, the entire gamut of emotional responses and dialogues, from all over the world, of all ages, races, gender, and religion. My mind is a house where a thousand fractured personalities live active social lives. It’s a permanent soap opera independent of my analytical mind. This chatter is on a different frequency than my self reference thoughts, the concepts. When some people speak, they’re bypassing circumstance and implying past a surface layer of the question, to forgo the known, what is known about a person can be learned from their eyes. Every thing you know about a person can be learned from watching their responses, watching how their brow bends and folds and withdraws. When you know what buttons cause the responses, you basically know how to bypass certain superficial layers of conversation. The loaded statements, the rhetorical, these seemingly innocuous comments are always designed by the paranoid to be an implication, a reference to something that can strike a chord in a person. When I want someone to feel, I give them an image that I know will make them feel. If it’s a friend of mine who’s particularly fond of cats, all I have to do, as simple as this really is, is show him a picture of a cat that has been hit by a car to provoke a desired response of dismay. That’s not the only way you can intentionally use knowledge of another person to force them to feel a certain way. You can throw off references to their failed dreams, their shortcomings, their failures, and the astute reader knows, by now, that what I’m doing is what common schizophrenics do: I’m talking to myself, in public, trying to rationalize the litany of confusion and insanity behind my various poses. I’ve been a writer. I’ve been a musician. I’ve been a painter. I’ve been so many things that in the end I’m nothing but the collection of a thousand shallow acts of distant portent with nothing but a detached curiosity about the outcome of the situation. Until yesterday someone else punished me more than I had ever punished myself. I’ve shot myself. I’ve cut open my stomach, stabbed myself, eaten a light bulb, all kinds of stupid, misery-inducing corporeal self punishment, and none of it prepared me for actually going to the hell of another man’s design. The situations in my life are carefully constructed and rationalized based on probabilities. When a thought comes up, a menu of possibilities with a percentage of likelihood comes up with it and is weighed against experience and a probability percentage of the outcome is reduced to a number. Like this: If I go to the liquor store, there’s a high probability that I’m going to buy liquor, and if I buy liquor, I’m going to get to drunk, and if I’m going to get drunk, I’m going to go to jail. So when I walk in the door, I know I’m paying $7 for a trip to jail. It’s usually alright. I’m infamously crazy and ridiculous. What people think of me varies through all possible responses. And I’m the reason for these responses. I have this addictive need to be in control of the situation, selecting the probabilities correctly, and seeing the situation to the end I originally decided to be the highest probable event. And yesterday I was wrong. It has fucking cracked the looking glass, so to speak, destroying every pretense, every wall, every barrier, every affectation, and every feeling of control.

Around three in the afternoon I decided to walk to the liquor store and get a bottle of vodka because I’m too much of a coward to show my face to someone whom I very much adore. I had every intention of meeting up with a friend of mine and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity because of the travel situations make our communication otherwise impossible, but due to circumstances I had a 94% probability of making this dream of mine become a reality, to have fun, to be myself, to laugh, to joke, to have a good time. Halfway through the bottle of vodka I decided it would be better if she hated me. So I severed all contact with her, sent her vague and outright ridiculous statements, going through the motions of a stupid game designed to torture myself through the disappointment of a friend of ten years. For my crimes, I denied myself the right to see this person. For the impact I believe it could have had, on her behalf, and if you’re who I’m talking about, and you’re reading this, I was there, 100 miles away, and didn’t have the god damn nerve to be myself and let the illusion so long ago I crafted to be shattered by me, out of character, naked, through a clear lens, no means to hide, no way to obscure anything about myself, and that terrified me. Writers and poets and artists usually like what they see when they look at themselves. I do not. I see a criminal offender and psychologically abusive weasel. A sympathy junkie whose tragic farce exists as some complicated means of self analysis. I don’t know why I’ve made things so complicated. I have theories; the only things I’m capable of understanding are complicated problems. The more complicated and complex and protracted the easier it is for me to figure it out. The simpler the problem, the easier the solution, the more difficulty I have. I started studying the works of Euclid and Eratosthenes when I was a child, and I still can’t work a microwave. I delight in physics, in relativity equations, in obscure historical, philosophical, psychological, and theological ideologies. I’ve wasted half of my life trying to find the most complicated, profound, complex, and intricate of forms of thought. It has to be that way, or I don’t have a prayer to understand. I’m an emotionally retarded paranoid schizophrenic with a Napoleonic louse complex and this is what the costumes hide, this wounded little paranoid anxiety ridden coward who can’t face reality without a shitload of medication. My drug usage makes Amy Winehouse look like Martha Stewart. My reliability and responsibility makes Michael Jackson look like a certified Day Care Counselor. If everyone I’ve ever wronged, hurt, lied to, manipulated, violated, stolen from, injured, or harmed forgave me, I’d probably kill myself. I see the monster you see, trust me. If everyone I’ve ever hurt forgave me, I still would not forgive myself.

I was born to an unwed mother, fifteen years old, and a seventeen year old pothead dad. It was never there intention to keep me in their custody and when my grandparents adopted me, when I was five, they skewered the facts surrounding that day I went to court to talk about the woman I believed was my sister. I was told to tell the judge that when I was with her she didn’t listen to me, she didn’t talk to me, she didn’t feed me, she had people over all through the night, loud music, drinking, cocaine, all of that was brought up at the trial. That was my mother, the screaming drunk that lunged at my grandmother at my first birthday party when my grandmother called me her son. I didn’t understand it at the time. I didn’t understand that my mother had slapped my grandmother for claiming me as her son. This has always affected my state of mind, this feeling of isolation and abandonment has bothered me more than anything ever has. This counterfeit pinnochio who wanted to be a real boy just didn’t have the ability to stop my nose from growing. That’s how I see myself. A counterfeit, a forgery, a bastard, and a burden. I think this with the same mind that I think with when I try to go to sleep. I began hallucinating when I was a young child, after an accidental severe head injury. I would hear and see bassinets with crying children in them, with words carved into their faces and stomachs. I’d see dead children with ARTIFICIAL and FORGERY carved into their faces. I would lock myself in the bottom of the closet and cover my ears with pillows but I never escaped that sound. Some nights I just slammed my head into the wall until I passed out, and I’d wake up bleeding from my ears. I’ve seen writing on the wall appear like fire, and common phrases repeat in phases; “Who’d have thunk?” and “Nobody knows” are frequent statements I see above my window. My shadow has a name, and my shadow talks to me. My shadow tells me that I stink, that I’m stupid, that I’m ugly, that I should be ashamed. I tell him to leave me alone. He tells me that he is me, and he is the judge, and that I’ll never get my pardon without, as he says, not without the gun. I’ve told psychiatrists and doctors about these same issues, these debates with myself, talking with the devil and cutting invisible monsters out of my stomach intent on destroying my brain, about the chorus of madmen who incessantly ramble in my head, the coliseum of loud and confused voices. I’ve got a pill for every one. Prayers never worked. When I was in preschool, a local church program which taught kids to count and read and read to us from the Bible, I would be put in the confession box when I did something wrong. They would lock me in the box by sliding a rod between the handles. One day Miss Sarah didn’t lock me in. She told me to confess my sins to God. I asked her if God could hear me, and she said yes, and I asked her if God on the other side of the metal grating, and she told me yes again. The amount of bullshit they tell a child is enough to make a maggot puke. So when they left me there to confess that day and forgot to lock me in, I slipped out of the box and opened the other side and saw God: an empty box with a black leaflet on a wooden stoop. It’s an image I’ve never forgotten, a profound earlier experience: the day I saw God for the first time. To be truthful, I’m a fucked up guy. And yesterday [this happened Tuesday the 25th] I got what I deserved.

I was arrested for disorderly conduct after an argument over the phone. I took a large dose of Xanax, 20-25 2mg tablets, finished off the vodka, and got into a fight with at least three people before I was electrocuted, handcuffed, and taken to holding. I was extradited back to Newberry, South Carolina and was charged with disorderly conduct, threatening a public official, indecent exposure, public intoxication, distribution of a controlled substance, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest (of course.) And after they got me in the holding cell in Newberry, I was in a one room concrete cell with a cement slab on the wall to sit on and a metal toilet in the corner. I was held over night, unable to take my medicine, and when I sobered up and came back into my rational state of mind, I found myself bloody, sweaty, and covered in dirt. That wasn’t the really bad part. As bad as being imprisoned in a shitty hole like that is, it got a lot worse when I told my mother I was going to drown myself in the toilet when I made my phone call, right after I threatened to kill my uncle when I got out of jail. So they led me into the back part of the jail, made me take all of my clothes off, and gave me a long sleeved, beige hospital gown with an open back that didn’t even cover my genitalia. I’m a tall fucker. After they put me in that hospital gown, they handcuffed me with my hands behind my back, with my thumbs tied together, and left me in the corner of a cement room, on the floor, crying and screaming for seven hours unable to move, out of my medicine, out of my mind, and all I could think about were my friends, friends who have forgiven me time after time after time, and how, again and again, I lie to them and let them down, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse in my entire life, sitting there on my knees, nothing to cover my shame, freezing, with a gallery of passing, laughing faces just outside the plate glass windows. When you’re tied up, having a panic attack, racing heart beat, racing thoughts, a terrible fucking pounding in your head… when you’re in this state for an hour, it seems like a thousand years. For seven hours felt like ten eternities of shame, and it finally broke the facade. My control was gone, I was exposed, humiliated, smelled like shit, and just sat there and cried like a pathetic child until my mother was finally able to get me out of jail. I went to the hospital twice over the course of my detainment, extradition, and arraignment. Hell exists. Hell was in that dirty room, a tortured mind locked in a tortured body unable to fight or fly, unable to do anything but squirm under the lamp like an ant under a magnifying glass, melting until the breaking point: the point of no return. I have never in my life so desired to die. I have never felt such emotional, physical, and psychological pain in my life. And I deserved every fucking second. This is how I bleed, you see, with a Signo classic fountain pen. I was guilty of being me, Brandon Nobles: that is my crime, that is also my punishment. And for the Eve who waited for her fake Adam, your tragedy was replaced with mine, my only hope is that you’ll never care for me enough again to be bothered by what I’ve said or done. I had to sacrifice myself to spare you the inevitable misery of meeting the confused amalgamation of bitterness and shame. You’re Madonna on the rocks, and I’m the poor sketch of a self-made Judas, writing my way out of hell, digging trying to get out of the hole, a hole that gets colder and darker every single day. I was there. I was there, at the brink of happiness, and retreated into my more comfortable hell. It’s the only kind of life I’ve ever known

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