THE NIGHTLY CHILL
By Steve Arviso
This Road to Recovery.
FIGHT THE DAWN!
As the sunlit sanity of the waking world burns the night to ash,
embrace the unbound madness of your wildest dreams,
laugh into the endless abyss of your darkest fantasies,
and rage against the coming dawn.
The Nightly Chill is an irregular, yet wholly absurd intimate experience with an idiot. Mon-Fri. Ish. Written and published by writer, publisher, and, on occasion, part-time lover, Steve Arviso (@AmoralCrackpot). Ish.
- OBTRUSIVE ADVERTISEMENT
- THE BIT AT THE BEGINNING
- A LETTERS’ PAGE
- A CHEAP PLUG
- SOME TRIVIAL BIT OF SILLINESS
- YET ANOTHER OBTRUSIVE ADVERTISEMENT
- A SATISFACTORY, WELL-WRITTEN BIT THAT SOMEHOW STILL FAILS TO LIVE UP TO SOME ARBITRARY STANDARD CREATED AND IMPOSED BY NOBODY
- LAST-MINUTE ATTEMPT AT ENGAGEMENT
- BLATANT, YET ALSO REDUNDANT SELF-PROMOTION
- THE END BITS NOBODY CARES MUCH FOR
VIRAL LOAD PODCAST
The “Viral Load Podcast” is, I’ve been assured, a podcast in the same way that audio uploaded to some temporary or long-term repository for the sake of publication and distribution across various outlets, inlets, and piglets accessible vis-à-vis the internet might, in some fashion, be considered a “podcast.” In it, comedian Andrew Pupa and co-host Brett Bayles, who may or may not be a comedian–but who am I to place such labels on anyone?–explore the weirder, more unsettling corners of diseases that plague us.
THE BIT AT THE BEGINNING
Y’know what depresses me? Depression.
Y’know what gives me anxiety? Everything!
As I continue to recover from not only temporary hearing loss, which is going great at this point, I’m also recovering, to some degree, from a lifetime of emotional and psychological trauma. My body has literally spent the last two weeks deflating and repairing itself as if I were recovering from surgery or a car accident–I’ve lost water weight for the first time in forever, my body feels lighter and looser with significantly less joint, back, and neck pain. Even a bone in my foot righted itself after I unknowingly displaced it months ago after tripping on some concrete. It was like a light went off in my head as I was fussing over my hearing, and I saw for the first time just how all these busted, twisted pieces that have affected my life fit together. And by fixating on trying to improve just one of those pieces–my omnipresent, very serious anxiety–everything else has fallen into place to a large degree. I’ve had more mental and physical improvement in two weeks than I have in nearly thirty-five years.
Of course, it’s not all great. I’m also starting to realize, as I’m actively taking steps to control my anxiety–limiting stressors, softening the impact of those I can’t eliminate entirely–exactly what sets me off. And it’s a surprising amount of little things, things I never noticed until now. The fan in our bathroom now feels like it’s roaring to me. It’s no louder than it was before my hearing was briefly knocked out of whack, but I’m now aware that it, along with our range fan and fireplace, produce noise–in volume and range–that sets off my anxiety. Screeching tires off in the distance do the same thing, same with sudden police sirens. Assholes speeding down our quiet little street. Cars that roll up on me like they’re about to stop and ask me where I’m from, even though it’s often just some poor woman from down the block trying to park her 1996 Geo Prizm. Even strong, harsh light can set it off. And anything from a pair of sunglasses to ear plugs to headphones (no audio, just them in there) helps reduce my anxiety by a significant degree.
It explains a lot about my life that I always assumed were for various other reasons. Such as my general disposition for being a “night owl.” It’s quieter at night, especially where we live now. Less noise pollution, less light pollution, less high-strung people (generally speaking). I can focus, I can breathe. And while I still prefer the night and what it offers, I’ve found I sleep a more regular schedule in recent months. I feel more comfortable being out during the day in the light and noise–not much or for very long, especially without headphones or something to dampen all those stressors–but I can do so longer and easier than even a few weeks ago.
This is a lifelong road to recovery. I’ll never been one-hundred percent better. The damage has been done. But now I can learn to heal and recover from at least a good chunk of it. It sucks to learn that even tense scenes in movies or certain types of music that I love can set off my anxiety to some degree. But now that I can see how much my anxiety affects my day-to-day, minute-to-minute life, I can do something about it. I can manage. I can cope.
BETWEEN THE CRACKS
(A LETTERS’ PAGE)
Why do bad things happen to good people?
— Goodly in Garden Grove
While I can’t be 100% certain, it’s likely because people like you still exist.
JASON IS UP LATE
(A CHEAP PLUG)
Be sure to listen to “Jason is Up Late,” a new podcast from Los Angeles comedian Jason King., who is not well-known for turning in early for the evening, but, to the contrary, is rather notorious for staying up well-past any decently dressed hour.
“THE MAN OUTSIDE”
(SOME TRIVIAL BIT OF SILLINESS)
Sometimes I dream of a shape of a man, little more than a vague approximation—two arms, two legs, and a head. Maybe more, sometimes less. Most nights it stands in the street outside my home, beneath the dirty glow of a street light. Other nights, closer. Sometimes on my lawn, beneath our orange tree. Or, at my door. But always looking at me looking at it from behind the safety of the curtains hanging in the window of my living room, bathed in fractured light and shadow. It shouldn’t see me. But it does. I can feel it.
(YET ANOTHER OBTRUSIVE ADVERTISEMENT)
“THE UNTIMELY DEMISE OF DAVID ALEXANDER”
(A SATISFACTORY, WELL-WRITTEN BIT THAT SOMEHOW FAILS TO LIVE UP TO SOME ARBITRARY STANDARD CREATED AND IMPOSED BY NOBODY)
Originally published in The Nightly Chill zine on Instagram, and available in “Fight the Dawn: Ugh! Ugh! I’m Dying, You Idiot!”
David Alexander, age thirty-five, was a man of little consequence. A humble night-manager at a small motel in a forgotten corner of Southern California, David’s most notable accomplishment in his largely ineffectual life was actually the way in which it ended.
Unfortunately for David, due to the horrific, highly improbable manner in which he–I wouldn’t say “passed away,” because that greatly undersells the nightmarish torment that preoccupied David in his final moments. But needless to say, David had neither the time nor inclination to comprehend the absurdity of his own situation. In fact the frightening, chaotic, yet effortlessly graceful dance of the cosmos which was David’s death proved so improbable that a successful attempt by Dr. Urvi Patel, of the University of California Irvine, to approximate the odds of it even occurring–odds so mind-boggling, mind you, that I can’t even be bothered to offer a comedic approximation of how impressively absurd they really are–drove the poor women insane. She now exists in a slight, yet perpetual state of depression, and teaches creative writing courses at a community college in Colorado. For the safety of others, the location of Dr. Patel’s research remains classified. Though, there are rumors it’s stored away in an evidence locker somewhere in Anaheim.
That said. Fortunately for us–though admittedly not so much for her–Mrs. Leticia Trevino was there to witness David’s, let’s say, “incident.”
A long-term resident of the motel where David had worked for some fourteen years, Tish’s statements to the police and reporters in the days, months, and even years after the incident faced heavy scrutiny. And in all fairness, it’s not hard to see why. Tish was and still is an admitted drunk. To this day, some three years after the incident, Tish can still be found scuttling about the motel at her leisure, walking up and down and all around the place, hair a mess, and always sipping from a seemingly bottomless thermos of whiskey. When asked by one reporter why she felt compelled to drink so much, Tish plainly and simply replied, “I like whiskey.”
David, meanwhile, never had an opportunity to speak with reporters on account that he was dead. But had he somehow the ability to speak from beyond the grave, David likely would have wanted to clarify a couple of things.
First, David would have corrected Tish’s claims that she found him a “weeping mess” in the motel parking lot. For one, he wasn’t crying. He was merely worked up over the rather emotional phone call he had just finished with his wife. If anything, they were the scattered few raindrops of the restrained, though highly emotional storm raging within David. And for another, had he been crying–which he most definitely was not. But had he been crying, it was because–as he had already explained to Tish (who subsequently downplayed this crucial bit of information in most of her interviews)–David’s wife, Denise, had just then threatened to leave David and take their two children upon discovering that David had squandered their meager savings on a failed microbrewery.
And as David bared his soul in that motel parking lot, Tish drank. And as she drank, she thought about her own failed marriage. How she chose drinking and a surprisingly lucrative online poker career over her own husband and children. It had worked out pretty well for her, all things considered. Sure, she was living alone in a motel and unknowingly had a large mass growing on her liver. But even after child support, she was still clearing a cool three-grand every month, which had to count for something, right? And so, halfway through a heartfelt (and utterly tearless) recounting of how he had screwed up his whole life by following his dreams, Tish cut-off David with a seemingly harmless question, which was this: “What’s the worst that can happen?”
This brings us to the second thing that David would have clarified regarding his death: just how excruciatingly painful and frightening the whole ordeal was.
If you take Tish at her word, you come away believing David’s death was instantaneous, or close enough. One moment he was alive, the next he was not. And it’s a story that has proved a comforting thought for David’s family, especially Denise (who, after all this, eventually forgave David’s flagrant disregard for his family’s financial future). Sadly, Tish’s story simply isn’t true.
Now. In all fairness, from Tish’s perspective, one can clearly understand why she saw David’s death as instantaneous. Again, one moment David is standing in front of her, carrying on about his failed marriage and poor life choices. And then a moment later, David’s a pile of bones and clothes soaking and floating in the liquified mess that was once his own flesh.
You see, Tish’s question had the unintended consequence of triggering, deep within David’s brain, the exact sequence of synapses–the precise chemical cacophony, if you will–required for the human body to self-destruct. In fact, it followed David pondering him living alone in a motel, much like Tish. (Maybe she can teach me about online poker, he thought). In a moment so rare it drove Dr. Patel to write listless and pedantic poetry about it for the rest of her life, David seized, in a manner of speaking, on the most horrific thought imaginable by the human mind. And while nobody has dared to replicate David’s findings to ensure the scientific accuracy of it all, everyone has mostly come to agree it must have been something particularly spooky. The argument here being that nothing capable of liquefying the human body–if not instantly, then at least as instant as the human mind can perceive it–could possibly be as banal as your childhood sweetheart and mother of your children leaving you forever. Nor could it be as silly as having one’s genitals slowly removed by way of a small, rabid mammal surgically attached to them. (This is, of course, done in such a way that the devouring of the genitals in a slower, more roundabout fashion is the preferred–and surely more obvious–manner of escape to even a creature as intellectually deficient as a moderately starved, intoxicated kangaroo rat).
To accurately describe David’s death requires details so outlandish that nobody would ever take them seriously. In fact, most reporters who initially interviewed Tish found the whole thing to be rather silly despite the obvious puddle of human goo carted away by local officials. Worse, such details would, aside from the most unprofessional of blogs, be unpublishable on a platform dependent upon ad revenue. Thus the best description we can offer that concisely yet safely encapsulates the grisly nature of the equally untimely demise of Mr. David Alexander is this: imagine a life-sized figure of a man crafted from lasagna melting beneath the heat of the midsummer sun, with its pulpy mess of tomato and chunky, gooey globs of meat and ricotta cheese slushing off in chunks, steadily revealing a skeleton that is, more or less, screaming in such a way that sounds like a frankly poor rendition of New Edition’s classic hit, “Mr. Telephone Man,” and all while gargling with Alfredo sauce. It was a frightful mess, to say the least.
As for how Tish’s view of this conflicts with David’s, simply imagine all this happening in slow motion. And just as the nightmare-inducing image of a man turning into what the bottom of a dumpster behind an Italian restaurant looks like is forever burned into your mind’s eye, slow it down several steps further.
* * *
Three days after the incident, yet another reporter from yet another newspaper–disturbed by the rather enthusiastic and flippant manner in which Tish spoke–asked Tish how someone could carry on with their life as if they hadn’t witnessed something so horrific.
Tish shrugged. “I like whiskey.”
Purchase a copy of the “Fight the Dawn: Ugh! Ugh! I’m Dying, You Idiot” ebook to support this and other silliness.
LAST-MINUTE ATTEMPT AT ENGAGEMENT
Please, contact us however you can if you, or someone you know, engages in the following acts of debauchery:
- Animal Husbandry
- Audio plays
- Pulp and/or other genre fiction
- Shopping lists
- Absurd acts of defiance against a pleasantly cold, yet wholly uncaring universe
- Short films
The weirder, the better.
We are The Lost. And together, we’ll make sure the world sees and hears us.
(BLATANT, YET ALSO REDUNDANT SELF-PROMOTION)
Tonight, CHILL with “Grand Ghoulish,” an absurd twisted romance between a photographer, a housewife, and her husband–a surgeon who enjoys getting a little blood on his hands!
THE END BITS NOBODY CARES MUCH FOR
(READ: OBLIGATORY PLEA FOR MONEY)
Subscribe for that walk-of-shame feeling every morning after. And if you enjoy The Nightly Chill and would like to support such silliness, please consider supporting it via Patreon for as little as $1 a month.
- Instagram (@thenightlychill)
- Mixer (@thenightlychill)
- Twitter (@thenightlychill)
- Website (AmoralCrackpot.com/TheNightlyChill)
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
THE NIGHTLY CHILL