kermix : pineal gland : 23 stories : ASSOCIATION

23 stories.

true tales of twenty-three.


by J. Bastard


I was your basic coin-op junkie, finding time between music classes at Pasadena City College to walk east down Colorado Blvd. a couple of blocks to the biggest, phattest arcade known to Bastard (and I've been around the block a few times, let me tell you)... the Pak-Mann Arcade. I'd schedule my classes an hour apart just to buy myself the time to blow my wad multiple times a day on the newest mean machines on the block, taking care to stay off the dollar-dinners until they sliced the price in half, but still partaking in my share of mayhem, and when I didn't have any cash at all, I was even content to watch; that's how much of a junkie I was.

Anyway, that phase of addiction started when I was just a tyke, and to an extent, it still hits me now and again; the need for action. But when the major action craving wore off, the need for recreation stayed, and that's when I fell into the card gaming trade.

I didn't fall very hard, as most trading card gamers in the area were already too well-stocked with big, expensive, killer decks that weren't worth my spare cash to compete with, but the concept was curious. A set of trading cards you can collect, assemble a deck with and put it up against someone else's deck! That was one hell of a concept six or seven years ago. So I tried a few of the games, and got my ass whooped by most everyone who'd already had the chance to put together bigger, badder decks because they made more money than I did, and spent it all religiously on their "hobby". Hobby my ass, these guys were even heavier addicts than I was. And they proudly flaunted physical evidence of their addiction, unlike myself.

So ultimately I sold myself out of the "hobby", at bargain blowout prices. But before I made my final curtain at the local gaming establishment, I ran into an old friend, Otis, who told me about a game that was in the works, that I could get in on the ground floor on. Just what I needed, another antisocial habit. But this wasn't just any antisocial game, this was Illuminati, a multiple-player game of bargaining, backstabbing, secrecy, and betrayal. I should have picked up the hint when he mentioned it to me, but I merely raised an eyebrow and showed interest in picking it up. Hell, it would probably be more entertaining than a one-sided two-player Class A Beatdown.

So I got into Illuminati when it came out, and so did a select handful of individuals, now known by different names: Target (MIW), Random, Pluton, OD-23, Sadism. I met all these people, except Otis, through my association with the Illuminati game. Shortly afterward I began to realize that this was more than a game, but not in the way you'd expect.

We played on and off for the next three or four years, almost every Sunday night, and slowly, as time passed, I began to learn more about the individuals, their professions, their contacts, their goals and dreams, and about myself merely by watching how they acted and reacted to the various schemes we concocted in these Illuminati sessions. It took me two years of such observation (and comraderie with some of my opponents, especially Random) to realize that I had been quietly inducted, simply by expressing a similar interest in conspiracy theory, into an in-group of selective, specialized artists who ranged from computer adepts to theatric arts majors to rock musicians. This patchwork quilt of talent and all of its members hope to use their natural right-brain creativity and recreational nature to survive in an increasingly anal-corporate world, and to push the yin back into place next to the yang (or the Hodge next to the Podge, however you prefer).

One of my preferred ways of spreading the Deuce-Tre gospel is through spinning yarns.

Do you believe that?