vain, showing-off-playacting. This, in all, everything considered, this
was what he believed to be the end for him. As soon as the photos began
showing up in magazines and Blake began that website and became
more concerned with showing others what they had done rather than
actually doing the thing: the end. It bled into his whole life.
Hey, dicklicker, Blake said. I have to piss. You drive a minute. He
pulled a Big Gulp from the backseat and dumped the remaining contents, a rush of cold wind through the open window, then unzipped
himself, waiting for Ian to take the wheel.
No no, fuck no, Ian said. Just pull the fuck over.
I’ll just do it here. I don’t want to pull over.
Pull the shit over and piss, Kieran said.
Blake yanked the jeep.
Kieran knew it was unfair to say that the videos and/or photos and/
or website itself was any kind of cause, per se. He understood that he
was the cause of the feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness, yet he
could not help but seek an outside cause and, therefore, the pictures, the
videos. He watched Blake angle stiffly down into the ditch off the highway to pee, not actually watching him, his eyes seeing him but Kieran
not actually paying attention, not observing. Yet, Kieran thought, after
thinking of these things being posted and published and really seeing
what they were, which was more than mere recording of vanity or a
showing-off, what he really saw them as was a series of attempts to make
the climbs and the hops all the more thrilling, difficult, and therefore
impressive, dramatic, by adding a kind of meta-aspect to the climb, by
forcing himself, Ian and Blake to have to be that much more astute, that
much better, that much more impressive during their climbs and hops,
turning them into actors. What they had become were actors. He was
certain Blake and Ian felt it because he saw it in the way they climbed:
making a problem look more difficult, dramatizing by psychically convincing themselves that a particular move or a particular route was more
difficult, near impossible, deadpointed; all of this near unconsciously
done, but still, with those cameras, they were aware. He was aware of
the slightly louder grunts he made. The roars Blake let go when he peeled
or cranked were louder, the muscles in his arms flexed, perhaps, rather
than simply being used, the breath he took a bit more rapid, the shakeout of hands and arms more exaggerated and grimacey. Kieran himself
was aware of grunting more. He did not know if he had ever grunted on
a climb before. The grunts, the pictures, the cameras, all were symptoms