He was dreaming about the music when his head exploded, but that happened after he recovered from his addiction. Dick Clark once stated, “music is the soundtrack of our lives” – it was true for Richard Severt and his family. Richard’s life was like a Bach Contata, an ideal crescendo. He was the vice- president of a small money-lending corporation. He held the fate of hundreds of families in the palm of his hand. “it all amounts to numbers – nothing less and nothing more,” he was fond of saying, but he was much more than a glorified accountant: he had a heart, a family he cared about, and a life he thoroughly enjoyed. His wife, Mimsy, was a model before she married Richard. He loved the curve of her back and the heft of her breasts. She was fond of telling Richard how much she adored the Italianate tile in the foyer of their recently purchased home in the gated community of Red Hills. Her words made Richard feel warm inside – she was a blessing as was their teenage son, Cole. The boy just turned sixteen, a handful to be sure — he was cunning, intelligent, and extremely handsome with the good looks inherited from his mother. The teenager never stayed home anymore. When Richard saw the boy he was always with someone who could be a character from a novel written by William S. Burroughs. They always appeared a bit crooked or twisted – hard to tell – it was surely Richard’s imagination. Mimsy certainly had no complaints regarding their son. “Boys will be boys,” she would say and then go back to admiring the new synthetic-rattan sofa on the back patio. Richard was too busy at the office to be overly concerned about possible problems at home. He had to manage several tough cases where families were delinquent in paying the interest on substantial loans. He kept in contact with Mimsy and Cole by email or texting. Everyone was attached to some sort of computer device. It was the only way to have a decent relationship. Mimsy sexted Richard once a week – it was an exciting interlude in his busy day. Cole sent photos. Richard couldn’t understand some of Cole’s photos and thought they were mean’t for some girl – they were seductive. His son was obviously playing some sort of joke, but it struck Richard to the core – the photos were odd, even perverse. Confusion and pressure at work led to Richard’s addiction. It was set off by a music video he saw on YouTube by a group called Gotye with a recurring lyric, “now you’re just somebody that I used to know.” The male singer looked just like Cole. Richard began to hunt the internet for pictures of people who looked like his son. He became obsessed with how much Cole looked like his mother. He started looking for people who looked like Mimsy. He printed the photos. The pictures became substitutes for his real family. Searching the internet inevitably led to pornographic sites. At night, Richard stayed at the office scrolling through porn, fondling himself and imagining bizarre sexual encounters – the more perverse and intense, the better. He stayed away from home for weeks at a time, eating fast food, sleeping fitfully on the office sofa. He lost weight. His work suffered. No one at home seemed to miss him. Mimsy was redecorating the living-room as a virtual reality environment. Cole moved into a virtual commune in a derelict squat downtown. When Richard no longer answered emails or texts from Mimsy and Cole, they assumed he was busy and went on with their lives.
Richard began to hallucinate. He was exhausted from over stimulation and masturbation. The music in his head, the same strange melody and haunting lyrics pushed him to the edge. Scenarios, as real as images on a computer screen, flashed before his mind’s eye. The name Ransumm Rotobar seemed to surface and disappear. There were many names and many lives all wrapped up in the seizure that was swallowing his brain. The stench of blood permeated his fevered dreams. He was a zombie walking through a city in hell. He was a murderer named Anton Bane and a ghoul named Mr. Hamm. “All things to all people,” he heard himself mumble as he hacked his way through the bloody streets. Mimsy stood in the street like a vision of the Virgin Mary, slowly disrobing. She was a giant standing over Richard Severt like a hurricane blotting out the red sky. The darkness was cut by swatches of light, pictures flashing like lightning. He could see Mimsy, Cole, and himself — fucking. The burning image broke Richard out of his trance. He needed help. He enrolled in “Avatar,” an Online Guidance Program to overcome addictions. In six weeks he was “cured” and his life was back on track. (to be continued)