It was back when Jimmy Carter was president. I got drunk and I drove my gold '74 Oldsmobile into a brick wall. In those days I did a lot of shit like that (the classic Olds could take it), so much that I made wearing seat belts a habit. Because of my seat belts I didn't fly into the windshield, but a midget did. She was naked and she was way too small to be a human midget and there was something vinyl-like about her skin -- maybe she was from outer space, I really don't know. Apparently, she had been riding on my shoulder without me noticing.
I peeled her off my windshield and and put her on my lap and asked her who she was, and what she was doing. She was bleeding badly (her blood had the color and texture of crushed blackberries) and it was obvious she wasn't going to last much longer.
She said she was a "rider" and that "riders" like her rode on everybody's shoulders. They were invisible and nobody could see them, though exhausted livers gave some people the kind of of eyes that could see them. She said that she and her brood controlled people by digging both hands into people's ears and sending messages directly into unsuspecting human brains. "When you had me working your brain you had no autonomy," she said. "Nobody does."
I told the midget she could go fuck herself. She said she'd like to, but couldn't because she was dying. When I told her that I didn't believe a word she said, she bit my thigh so hard that I began to bleed. But when I looked back at Aurora Avenue, all the pedestrians really did have naked midgets riding on their shoulders. "Believe me now?" asked the midget.
When I asked her who the "riders" worked for, she told me to fuck off. "You go and find that out yourself," she said. Then she closed her eyes and smiled and died on my lap. Before long her body melted to become sticky jelly that smelled like tar. I had a hell of a time just getting the smell off.
So everyone in the human race was being controlled by invisible, freeriding midgets that only hardcore drunks can see. It unsettling at first but it wasn't long until I got used to it. Maybe it was because my alcoholism was had eaten away whatever "autonomy" I had, along with things like "pride" and "free will." And I didn't give a damn what the midgets did to others be because I was absolutely certain others didn't care shit about me -- looking back, it's just amazing how low drink and self-pity can take you.
I may not have had much introspection, but I suspected that as I was one the few souls on earth who knew about the "riders," whoever was in control would eventually come and find me. And find me he did. By then, Jimmy Carter was long out of the White House and drink had made me so weak I hardly left my Greenwood apartment, much less my bed. My Olds was long gone, because I'd traded it for a case of Oly.
There was a knock on the door. In walked Napoleon.
I almost laughed out loud; who else but Napoleon could be the king of the midgets?
"I finally found you," said Napoleon.
"I thought you were dead."
"I cannot die."
"The world was mine. Me and my children controlled everyone in the world; and when I say everyone, I mean everyone."
"But nothing came of it. We literally drilled into all of your brains and yet you still had wars and strife of all kinds."
"You're sound like you're talking about the past."
"That is because I am quitting. My cousin Joe was right; you pe0ple are simply uncontrollable. Today I have decided to call back all of my children. You people are all free to whatever you wish."
"Is that good news?"
"That is for each and every one of you to decide."
With that Napoleon walked out. When I looked out the window and onto Aurora Avenue, I could no longer see midgets riding on the shoulders of the hookers and johns below. Where had they gone?
I walked to the TV and turned it on. Peter Jennings was on. The news he was reading wasn't better or worse than the usual. Maybe Napoleon never had as much control over us as he wanted. Or maybe there was hope for us humans after all -- I mean, if direct brain stimulation couldn't control us, what could?
But hell, I was a sick and sorry alcoholic back then -- what did I know? And all the rehab I had since then hasn't made me any wiser, though drinking is no longer part of my life.
When I finished watching the news I felt like going out for some coffee, which was something I hadn't done in a long, long time. Even McDonald's would have suited me fine; I liked the idea of being in a completely alcohol-free environment. Looking back, I think that was the moment that I first considered even the possibility of quitting drinking.
When I opened the door to the hallway, I was knocked over by a tsunami of Napoleon's midgets.