Cyberpunk guerilla action

I’m sitting on a dilapidated bench waiting for a train. The metro station’s walls porcelain tiles had been a bright lemon yellow in a distant past but now they are the colour of unwashed toilet bowl with the years of neglect. It may be a social service to bomb the station. Force those fuckers in the city offices to actually spend some money cleaning this place up. Years of practice has me looking at the stations exits and possible entryways. It would be easy, the station is the first one that is underground going south, just wait until the last train, walk in via the tracks. Even easier if it’s a real bombing. No pieces to throw up at all, just fill the air with aerosol and the walls with paint. 15 minutes with a decent crew. Would be easy.
I won’t do it though. To much at stake with all the security cameras in these places.
But it would have been easy.

The only truly clean part of the station are the add-spaces and the wending machine glass. Clean aluminium borders and huge posters declaring some product to you. Some juice that is somehow better than the other despite it being made from the same lab produced esters mashed with as little organic content as the factories can get away with and still call it juice.

The train tracks begin to tick and a gust of warm dry air pushes into the station from the tunnel followed by a train. When I was 7 these were the new trains. They don’t run during autumn though, or they try, but apparently leaves on tracks basically become motor oil when run over repeatedly with that pressure. So, yeah, trains, but erratic. The train like the station has seen it’s fair share of wear over the years. The station signs catch up and displays which train it is as the door opens. Only a few get off. One in particular with a slate grey racking-hoodie and baggy cargos steps off a few doors down. Looks around, I wave and smile.

Later, as we are spooning on blankets on the floor of the 3d room I’ve rented this year, take-out boxes smelling of spices on the covers to my bed, my mind goes over the bombing run again. But what if instead of the regular cans of paint, instead we did it with detergent? Some strong fucking Ajax shit. Guerilla cleaning. I put my face in your hair and smell the expensive flowery shampoo that can’t quite wash out the reek of cheap cigarettes. But you are quitting them now, for real this time. As I doze off I dream carving out art on dirty porcelain walls.
It would be easy.


Work is an endless stream of people wanting something from me.

They order large morning coffees standing in the stylishly bohemian chick café and smaller lunch coffees. In the mornings you can see something in their eyes as they wait for the coffee to brew. A need to have this explained to them all. Morning people are still without their full guard up. Standing there, business battle armour on in the form of suits or casual wear and penn skirts, professional barbering and a smile just a shade off from manic.
They ask me for this day to go fast, for it to be pleasantly uneventful or for their dreams of a world where they wouldn’t have to work in to come true. Sometimes, they ask me for the meaning of it all, they do this by telling me some existential self deprecating joke as they place an order for their triple shot morning latte and their eyes scream at me “Why do we all do this?”.

I smile, brew the coffee, do the milk, place their cups of bitter wakefulness and chemical pep on the new worn oak counter. I have no answers and no one expects me to. I’m just their dealer of state sanctioned stimulants and pleasant human interaction.

Lets face it, our society is addicted to coffee because it is the only reason half the work force don’t jump into oncoming traffic in the mornings.

After morning rush I clean up some of the artistically stained tables from left over coffee cups and and real spills. The large glass windows to the shop is foggy with the differential between autumn chill and cosy atmosphere. This time of year, we sell more coffee in two months than during the whole of summer and spring. And people stay for refills.

Lunch people are different. The same people, but now up to the gills in coffee already. The question has gone but the need remains. Smaller coffees, pithier chitchat, they need it to keep going until end of day.

I sometimes wonder how the world would have been if that pope had decreed that coffee was an abomination?

I think about this as the weather turns around and the foggy glass is bombarded by droplets of rain.
“Why do we all do this?”

I really have no answer. So I brew myself a triple shot and wait for blissful optimism to kick in.

I wonder, sometimes, whether I will be put out of a job by coffee pills. It would be a mercy, to be forced out of this abhorrent routine, but that’s besides the point. The pills are convenient, small, and honest, and they have begun to sell them in pretty colors, in dissoluble capsules like breath mints. Do the people not want convenience, and smallness, and honesty?

Probably not, based on our morning interactions. On some level they know the hour before their dosage is the sole window excluded from the vicegrip of insanity, insane productivity and the commercialization of the soul. Sixty minutes to fumble, to seek a way out from the crushing pestle of another weekday. Sixty minutes to dream, unfettered by capital, too dazed to remember that the trip to Bali requires a budget, an itinerary, and corporate permission.

And what would they wash their pills down with, anyways, if not coffee? I fear my career is stable yet.

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We’re sitting in a café filled with moist air, uncomfortable black metallic chairs and bland “Chillout lowfi” music. It’s a bit close to home but it’s Kath’s favourite place so I’d figured, what the hell.

The coffee is a well made blend of Arabica’s lighter creama and Rubusta’s “hit me in the mouth with an unwashed shovel”-depth. The bun I chose at random would have had my dentist questions her life choices or get her version of a crucifix.

I watch as people come and go into the café while me and Kath talk. It’s a popular café in a posh part of town and it shows. Everyone looks like they are on the way to a catwalk or a board meeting and impatient to get there. Quick movements, drilled in orders, skimmed milk 4 shot lattes and the occasional overpriced excuse for a sandwich.

There are worse places to discuss one’s life choices, but not many.

“I don’t know if what I’m doing is right?” Kath says, “Like, if this is what I want to have done at the end of the day, you know?”
I nod, smile sadly, “Ain’t that the question of our generation?” I say, noticing how Kath’s blue hair looks green in the the coffee shop’s light when she tosses it to the side.
“Yeah, I guess” she says with a laugh and a sigh, “I don’t know, I thought that, when I’m 30 I’ll have my ducks in a row. But I’m almost 40 now and the fuckers aren’t even ducks, it’s like I have a… I don’t know… a flamingo, a murder of crows, several geese and two hummingbirds, all queuing for different things.”
“That’s quite the visual” I say smiling at her and drinking some more coffee, “You should write that down, it may be one of the big quotes of the century. Besides You are 33, not really close to 40 yet.”
“Well fuck you too” Kath says in almost fake sullenness, “You describe the feeling of not having the slightest idea about what to do in life as a bird metaphor then. And I’m 34 in a month, close fucking enough”
“Ok ok, not gonna debate that. Hmm, what about mid-30s crisis?” I say with a raised eyebrow.
“Nope no birds, try again.” Kath says.
“Kath the pigeon and the mid-30s crisis?”
Kath laughs and sips her cappuccino, “Why a pigeon, why can’t I be a raven or something?” she says reproachfully.
“Well, I can’t really imagine a Raven having a crisis, so your choice is either being a pigeon or a flamingo.” I say before shoving the last piece of the bun in my mouth and closing my mouth to savour the taste some extra.
“Ok, pigeon with crisis it is.” Kath says and then smiles, “That sounds like it could have been a 90s punk band. But maybe Crisis Pigeons.”
“That’s a keeper, write that down.” I say mouth still full of bun and Kath throws a crumpled paper handkerchief at me.

We sleep at her place that night, bodies close against the autumn chill. While we are drifting off to sleep spooning she asks me, “What would it even feel like to know what you want?”
I mull it over but her breathing gets rhythmically deep before I can answer.

I wonder how the city would look if it was washed. Not scrubbed here and there. Washed completely. I’m walking down the street and I see litter everywhere, and stains and gum. Once brightly coloured buildings now bleached by the sun. The side walk stones are stained by the thousands of shoes that walk them every day.

I walk through a recently gentrified part of town. Old signs and pubs still there but the ever pressing market demand is forcing them out slowly to be replaced by new, fancy imitations of them. The new establishments are screaming loudly about their belonging, showcasing that they are a place worthy of this part of the city in a way the old places don’t have to.

But, these old places once displaced something else. And maybe someone thought similarly about them back then.

My walk takes me up on one of the hills. I see the marks left by other writers, Jexi, Power, Serecs, their tags emblazoned on the ventilation ducts for the garages underneath.

I wonder how the city would look if it was washed and now I’m thinking more about the roofs, all the copper tiles shining orange. The churches would look fantastic.

Up in the park on the hill and the summer has sure left it’s bruises. Caps and glass and small pieces of plastic all tangled up in the grass and the fallen leaves. There is the city park aroma of piss wafting from the secluded bushes as I walk past them. We really are crap at taking care of our spaces. Though, I’m no exception.

I go and sit in the swings by the playground in the park. The chains squeak as I start the pendulum motion.

I think the city would look fake if it was cleaned too much. It would clash with the feeling of it. It’s worn and dirty. But maybe that is part of what makes it home?

I muse on this while the squeak fades as I gain momentum.

I decide to take the matters into my own hands. Why not try? I go out at night armed with a toothbrush and that kind of spray that smells really clean and fresh. I wear pink rubber gloves and an apron just to get into the feeling of it, its my kind of superhero outfit. I am going to clean every little centimeter of this city. I will care for the bricks and the rooftops and the pavement. I will stroke their surfaces gently with my little brush. I will make them smell of clean like it was their last dying wish. These monuments we people built, I will nurture them with my love. I will take the chewing gums, the caps, the glass, the small pieces of plastic. I will take them with me in my bag, I don’t know yet what to make of it but I know that I need to save it for something.

Making a mess, cleaning it up.
Making a mess, cleaning it up.
Making a mess, cleaning it up.

Notes from times in distress.

I will call Mierle Laderman Ukeles and see if she wants to collaborate:
On being a superhero at night.
On walking the empty streets not with my feet but on my knees scrubbing.
On treating every brick as my own teeth (2 minutes).
On shaking the hand of every care worker (sorry not now).

It will be my little secret, a little sidenote that will probably go unnoticed. But people will wake up tomorrow and on there way to wherever they go they will feel that something is different.