By December of 1984, I had soaked up whatever the University of California-Santa Barbara had used to lure me in from high school. I was helplessly alcoholic, perpetually stoned, given to wide, introspective mood swings and altogether dangerous to myself and those close-by. The forty-foot cliff outside my apartment window on Del Playa--in the rich, white student ghetto of Isla Vista--was yawning lazily, and I knew the surf would gnash my broken carcass to anonymity and that the Folks would never really know what happened: one of those sickening, life-altering, tragedies that would haunt Mom & Dad forever and turn them grey before their years. So I phoned my best friend and told him the plan:

"I'm transferring to Arizona State."

"Your parents will freak."

"Yeah, but it's already done. I officially withdrew. Besides," I said, "the U-Haul is already rented."

"OK," he sighed, sounding almost relieved. "I better drive, you need some rest, it's been a rough year."

Yes, it had, Marcus. I needed ten months in Bora Bora, naked under groves of mango and young, sweet native women... His story is almost too depressing to get into, and he's now contemplating some four years, directly under the heel of The Man, in the UNITED STATES NAVY--a decision which leads me to question his ultimate sanity even moreso than mine own...but I never had a girlfriend leap out a fifth-floor window at Creighton University, before, either.

Uh huh.

It was the heart of the Eighties, a decade that saw the great one, Jackie Gleason, embalmed in strong spirits. They say he drank, "with the honorable intention of getting bagged"...and bagged, he got: Zipped up, and covered in lime.

We watched Dorothy Stratten, perhaps Playboy's most chaste and shining young pin-up, ground straight into the grit on some home-made torture table, by a sodomitic ghoul.

Our youth pay fifteen bucks a crack to see a ska band called Bad Manners parade a grotesque and balding creature named Fatty "Buster" Bloodvessel around the stage, sticking a microphone up his ass and farting.

It's suicide pacts in high school New Jersey; teen fellatio on Hollywood Boulevard.

It's the South Yemeni Intelligence agent in Bob Woodward's Veil, whose head was lopped off and shipped back in a box to his superiors, testicles stuffed in mouth, by the KGB...

But why are you telling us this? Really. Why do we want to know?

Well...because it's The Story: the nut, as it were: the scary, brain-stem rush that makes some men strong and others statistics. Because it's real, that's all. It's the whole, grimy World Theater.

Copyright 2016 by Todd Brendan Fahey. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted or transmitted without the written consent of the author, except in cases of brief quotes embodied in critical reviews.