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Just Another Khazi Story

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Here's the second Khazi story. It's pretty meaningless and disjointed, just the way it was written. I mean, the writer didn't have much to write about. It's just another day.

Just Another Khazi Story

The street was dirty, of course, as Khazi and I strolled along, tumbled down buildings on either side, refuse everywhere around us. The wind was picking up dust and flinging it in our faces, the usual dregs lay about, mostly oblivious to us and pretty much everything else. Khazi was carelessly whistling some old forgotten tune, hands in pockets as usual. The way you walk with your hands in your pockets I think is nice in its gate. Maybe that’s one reason I like Khazi so much. Khazi has style, just doesn’t care, does whatever comes to mind and is a free soul.

See, the apparition that stood on that pile of rubble eventually came down like Moses from the Mount. Like Moses into the depravity of the carnival of lost souls, which is our world now. I stood by and watched as it glided easily through the debris, keeping its cadence through the remains, its steps effortless, floating, aloof and remote. Even the denizens of this fair city seemed to move aside from its saunter like the parting of the waters.

I learned these stories, about Moses and all, and other nice stories, from some cleric who used to harangue on a street corner when I was a snotty little kid. I was charmed by his stories back then, stories of an enchanted and magical world now long lost to us. Then one day he failed to appear on that dirty street corner and never returned. I remember I cried as if I had lost my best and only friend.

Later I learned some crazies and thugs had done him in, had lured him into some shambles of a building and cut his throat. I guessed they couldn’t take his stories of the world as it had been, in this world as it had become. Too much of a conflicting comparison. They didn’t want to be reminded of all that lost beauty.

Anyway, this stranger, this Khazi as it called itself, was pretty funny to watch in a way, its eccentric attitude, I mean. This was someone to contend with, I thought, if it was genuine. When it came down from the rubble to street level, it stopped to look around, a sovereign surveying its domain. It then sat on a concrete slab, dusting it carefully before sitting, sat regally, immaculate in its splendor.

I watched for a minute, it sitting there expectantly, expecting what I wasn’t sure. Taking the opportunity in hand, I walked brashly up to this spirit, stood before it for a moment, then sat down close beside. It acted as if I wasn’t there, as if I were invisible, which I often liked to be. This was a good sign.

I reached into a pocket and held out a bit of chocolate I had confiscated that morning. It took it regally out of my hand as if it was my obligation to make an appropriate offering in supplication. After it had eaten, I asked in an off-had way where it had been since the beginning. It replied with a casual wave of its hand in the air. It really didn’t matter. After all, everywhere is the same, I supposed.

I won’t go into details, but I eventually did make a friend of this specter sitting splendidly on that dusty crumbling concrete, sometimes I think in spite of my better judgment. I suppose it was some mutual loneliness or boredom, or some unspoken yearning that drew us together. We were about the same age, still young in this ancient world, still curious to experience life in all its variations. So Khazi and me became pals.

We’re pretty close and all now, but sometimes I suspect we stick together just for convenience. I mean, until something better comes along. After all, either death or a more advantageous situation are the only two choices any of us have to look forward to. But down deep I really think Khazi is just as scared as me, and staying together is a feeling of security for both of us.

We’re the Brigade of the Survivors, Khazi often says. He’s right, too. We’re not much to look at, we all have bad manners and are pretty shabby inside and out, but we’re still here. That's more than can be said for most of the previous generation. The Civilians, another of Khazi’s terms, were the first to disappear from this modern life. They couldn’t take it, I guess. Too much of a change for them. Too much stuck in the old routine to adapt. It’s just us, the derelicts, the crazies and the thugs, and the big shots. We don’t associate with the big shots, of course. They’re all comfortable over in the exclusive Enclave, guards on patrol.

See, after things got really bad, the ones who made it really bad got together and scooped up all the good stuff that was left for them.

That left everyone else to fend for themselves, like always, I guess. I don't mind, really, because at least I'm free. The big shots are all huddled together with only each other to look at. I kind of feel sorry for them in a way.

What I mean is, we're all going to end up the same in the end, even though they have all this stuff we don't have. So does it really matter? I have Khazi, and Khazi has me, and I think this is more important than all the good stuff in this world.

Sometimes just for something to do, Khazi and me walk by the Enclave and throw stones at the barricades and fortifications. Just for fun, or maybe to let the big shots know we're still here. I mean, showing we're really stronger than them because we can live with nothing and still survive. This gives us some dignity in this world, some pride in ourselves.

The guards just ignore us, as they’re usually leaning against various obstructions looking bored. We’re no threat, we’re riffraff, nobodies. Riffraff Raferty is another name Khazi calls himself sometimes. He’s pretty funny, usually.

This day we strolled over to the park. The park is where we had that celebration. It’s not much of a park anymore, though. At night it can be semi-dangerous. It’s just sometimes someone gets frustrated and picks a fight at random. It never amounts to much except when knives are drawn. Then it can be messy. Everyone’s used to messy, so it really doesn’t matter very much to anybody. A lot of stuff doesn’t matter much. I mean, why bother?

But mostly the park at night is just sleeping bodies. Khazi and me don’t sleep in the park. We stay together in a grimy tumbled down room in a half-demolished building we like. We like it because of its unusual architecture. Khazi says its art nouveau. I don't know what that means, but I like it anyway. It must have been some kind of a high-class musician’s rehearsal building in the past. There’s old smashed pianos and stuff scattered around in various tattered rooms.

Khazi says he would have been a great musician if things hadn't changed the way they did. Khazi says a lot of things.

I think I’d have been in a carnival. In the freak show, probably, so I could scare and disgust civilians. I can be pretty repugnant and disgusting. I think this characteristic of mine is one reason Khazi hangs around with me. I’m honest. I mean, grubby and rundown as we all are, so why not be what we appear to be?

The girls around aren’t much to look at, either. They all pretty much gave up on that a long time ago. Now everybody’s sort of the same, except for the few who look pretty anyway. These usually end up in the Enclave. Khazi says it’s nice there, been picked up by some big shot’s procurer. Khazi tells me about it sometimes. I believe it because Khazi is one of the pretty ones, too, in a way. At least in wearing shabbiness with some style.

We’re the new generation, or the most recent. Abandoned, mostly. It’s hard enough to keep yourself alive without little ones to take care of. We don’t blame them; parents are worn out by the time we can get around by ourselves, so we're just left on our own to survive as best we can.

I guess I’ve been lucky finding Khazi. If you don’t have a steadfast ally to watch your back, sometimes bad things can happen. Thugs on patrol and all that. We look after each other the best we can.

Well, we spent our day like every other day, not much to tell about. I’m sitting in our dingy little room right now tonight writing all this. Khazi will come over in a little while, sit next to me and read what I’ve written. It’s always the same comment: “You keep writing about nothing.”

Well, nothing is all we have, so I think all these nothings of our lives should be important to us and be remembered. That's why I write them down; even though I know no one will ever read them.

Sitting together now, I turn my head close to Khazi’s, look into his eyes, breathe Khazi’s breath, and smile.




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