Happiness: Prologue

First of all I’d like to thank Stacey and Gabriel for contributing to the campaign that’s raising the funds I need in order to release Happiness.

Then… here’s the prologue to what’s going to be the last release for 2013…

For a while life was simple. We were young and beautiful, and we had money. Not all of us, but those who weren’t young went to the spa or gym, those who weren’t truly beautiful had their strict diets and, of course, there was plastic surgery, and those who didn’t have money had a lot of luck at the racetrack. For a while life was simple, and it was good.
I’ve lived my first eighteen years of life in a sort of bizarre seclusion. I do remember having a good friend during high school, a guy named Angelo, who always smelled funny, I remember falling in love with a pretty and quiet girl whose melancholic beauty had me all dreamy and weird for a while. I did not profess my love to her, though. It felt irrelevant.
After my twenty first birthday I started hanging out with the notorious Guggenkoff brothers. We would drive around and go to bars and nightclubs and eat dishes whose names we couldn’t pronounce properly and drink expensive champagne. It was as if I had discovered a new way of living. Loud music and women, and if there was enough of both, I was practically unable to even think too much. At least, not in the way that I used to when I was a kid, when in my pathetic eagerness to understand the world around me, I kept looking for answers.
I realized that no one really knew me, and so I decided to wear a mask. Anyway, I thought, everyone pretends to be someone else than who they really are, so why should I be any different? Life is only a play carried on by bad actors. So I began to smoke, to drink, to gamble, and to womanize. I discovered that there was a great time to be had during the night, if you don’t care about anyone else but yourself. I was shallow and selfish, and for a while had the time of my life. I found out that I was really funny, and that my sarcasm appealed to skinny brunettes. For the first time in my life, I felt that I belonged, which is the one thing we really want. To be a part of something. I had a lot of acquaintances. I can’t exactly call them friends, but every handshake, every person I exchanged words with, made me feel better about myself. Because I knew I was alone. All alone in this terrible new world, with its shiny new gadgets and its high rise buildings.
We used to go to my father’s restaurant down on Fifth and eat and drink every night up until midnight. We liked to experiment. New places, new faces. When it was cold, we used to go to my father’s house in Malibu or Peter Guggenkoff’s mansion in Palm Beach. We entertained ourselves the best we could, and we never ran out of ideas. And then, one day, everything changed, and I realized one thing about masks: sooner or later you’ll end up getting bewildered as to who you really are. The mask will consume your true self and then you’ll end up asking the only question that doesn’t have an answer: who am I?
I guess that what I’m really trying to say is that one day life stopped being simple.
To be honest, we almost always pursue one thing in life, whether is fame or glory, beauty, culture. Innovation. Money. It doesn’t matter what we want, because in the end, we never gain enough. We’ll never have enough, and we’ll always live with that buried deep inside our souls.
For a long time I thought my biggest tragedy was that I couldn’t figure out what I wanted, but then, as I grew up, something worse happened: I realized I wasn’t the only one.
If I was capable of complex emotions I’d say that it’s heartbreakingly painful to see so many wanderers. They do no search for a place, they do not want to reach a certain destination. They simply exist. They survive in this concrete wilderness we call a city, and they don’t ask for much.
They see someone else living a better life on the TV and they genuinely admire than person.
Strange.
When life was good I used to throw some of the wildest parties in Manhattan. Used to spend tens of thousands of dollars every week. Bands would come and sing in my apartment, crowds would literally gather at my front door.
It was lethargy. Neither one of us had a purpose. We just wanted more. Of anything. Or everything.
And in all the commotion, and the noise, and the smoke, and the champagne that kept being poured in those shinny crystal glasses, the only thing I was afraid of was that somehow my mask would fall off and everyone would see who I really was. But no one ever saw who I really was. In a world where everybody keeps smiling, even when their entire world is falling apart, no one could see something so obvious as me not belonging there.
And in this strange lethargy, and no matter how loud we laughed, or how hard we partied, we just weren’t happy. None of us were.
And then it happened. The money stopped coming. My father didn’t tell me. I called him, he didn’t answer. I thought something had happened. A mix-up at the bank. So I pawned some of the stuff in my apartment.
The following week I had to pawn more. I sold three of my watches and spent all the money on champagne in a club on Fifth. When the sun came out we took a cab and told the driver to take us on a tour of Manhattan. Drove us in circles for a couple of hours.
Then my father called. He told me we were poor. I was hangover, so it took me a while to process everything. Actually, even when I sobered up, I just couldn’t understand such a thing. So I began to borrow money from friends. Lots and lots.
Come think of it, this was my first real tragedy. Chaos took a hold on my life, and everything fell apart like dominoes. But you know what they say? Hope dies last.
When I had to sell my apartment, because no one was willing to lend me money anymore, that’s when the migraines began. And no amount of painkillers ever cured me of the pain.
Life has a way of going on, whether you want it or not. Time stops for no one, and every tragedy simply marks the beginning of the rest of our lives. As time passes, things become less extraordinary. Pain gets altered into a strange feeling, and our memories become nothing more than a succession of images and sounds that look vaguely familiar, but we still can’t help but wonder if those images ever belonged to us in the first place. Did we really live those moments, or had we just dreamt them? I guess that’s why we wake up so frightened after a nightmare. Because, for a moment, we can’t tell if it really happened or not. Because we sometimes get lost and so confused in the darkness that we can’t figure out what’s real anymore.

***

If you enjoyed this short sample and would like to be the first to read more, you can pre-order the novel here. Also, there you can contribute any amount you’d like in order to allow me to release this novel. Any contribution matters.

With only 22 days left, we’ve got quite a long way to go, so now it’s the time to help out if you can.

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