Freedom Through Fingers

Tristan and Siegi lived together for a year after they graduated high school. For a few winter months they got hooked on binge video gaming. They would smoke weed and play Soul Calibur all night and into the pale frozen morning hours. Some weekends they would not sleep until mid afternoon, and upon entering the waking world their imaginations still resided within the cosmos of the game. Life outside the game was somehow less rich, less significant and entirely less real. Working at Rite Aid or Bill’s Pizza, respectively, paled in comparison to a metaphysical quest of global import. The game provided excitement and validation, neither of which were available from short Maine winter days or mindless dead end jobs.

The main character of Soul Calibur is Siegfried Schtauffen. Siegi’s full name was Siegfried Johann Gundersmach. People called him Siegi, Sig, Sieg-meister, and the occasional endearing Siegi-butt. The inflated significance he placed on given names and heritage (he supposedly descended from Prussian nobility), made his delusions much deeper and longer lasting than the temporary disorientations Tristan experienced. Also, Siegi’s spiritual sense was much more developed than Tristan’s at the time. Siegi felt that emotional responses or feelings of significance were clues from the spiritual world pointing to the physical. Signs from the spiritual world could have many intentions: direction, a warning, or often tricks played by those in the physical realm with a mastery of the spiritual arts who wish to manipulate.

Soul Calibur’s story begins with Siegfried as a teenager. His father leaves Germany to fight against the Holy Roman Empire in some foreign land, leaving him with no clear plan for the future or male role models from whom he can learn what it is to be a man. Siegfried joins a clan of fatherless teenagers called “Schwarzwind,” or “Black wind.” Like most cliques of angst ridden boys, their nights were given away to taboo curiosities, and they continued to fulfill the character of their name, which had previously only resided in their imaginations. They developed decadent tastes and twisted desires, and took to ambushing parties of travelers on the surrounding trading roads to satisfy their needs.

Siegfried soon rose to become the group’s leader. While raiding a returning group of crusaders Siegfried decapitated the squad’s commander. Tears of madness glistened on his cheeks as the moon illuminated the ground where his father’s life drained out at his feet. He ran into the wilderness to wander his way back to sanity, where he devoted his life to discovering the mythical sword, Soul Edge, with which he would avenge his father’s murder. Chapter four, entitled ‘Evil Seed,’ opens with an epigraph reading: “Siegfried’s immature soul could not contain its evil power. Evil energy began to flow out of his body, and the energy pierced the Heavens as a column of white light and spread throughout the world. Those that received this surge of evil energy lost their sanity, became vicious and had an uncontrollable destructive urge.

During the following years Siegi became a vagabond. He wandered across the country and up and down its coasts using all manners of transportation: cheap cars, freight trains, hitching, hiking. He mastered the trade-craft of dumpster diving, soup-kitchen networking, and public camping. He discovered the seasonal routes of like minded “travelers,” and followed festivals with names like ‘Rainbow Gathering’ and ‘Fire Fly’. He celebrated creativity and spirituality, pure direct democratic group organizing, and anti-consumerism. He juggled five balls and fire clubs. He performed magic tricks, and recited improvisational poetry. He engaged in fireside politics with radical anarchists, new-age hippies, nihilistic beatniks and free-spirited artists.

At the G-8 summit protest in Miami his eye was damaged by a bean-bag shot from a riot control shot gun, after which Siegi returned to Portland to recharge. He settled into an apartment downtown near the homeless resource center. He rebranded himself as a leader for the local aimless youth, offering his apartment and food stamps. Practicing an open-door-policy he imagined himself a socialist: private property is theft. He led around a group of drop outs and showed them a different way to see the world, to live in it but not of it. He called them his ‘Lost Rainbow Children.’ Siegi enjoyed this role, and stayed in Portland longer than he’d at first expected.

However, his newfound rootedness gradually weighed on the anti-consumer ideals he had developed as a nomad. Dealing with such middle American responsibilities as rent, heat, cell phone service put parameters on not only his freedom of time and space, but the free flow of his ideas. He was forced to think about responsibilities. It was the force of it; the stress of knowing he was committed, he was stuck; that instead of simply moving south as it got colder he needed to change his lifestyle, which required thought and sacrifice, and united him with everyone else around. His ability to cope with his aimlessness and purposelessness began to unravel. He was no longer a transient life-force flowing to unknown ancient rhythms compared to the careerists and family men that abounded. Now he had similar concerns to the school teachers, bankers, construction workers, and police. Settled life lacked the radical kind of freedom to which he had become accustomed. He was a bird without wings, a beach bum transplanted to Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Siegi began accumulating things. First a computer, then a television, and posters of movie stars and pro-wrestlers. Dealing drugs and panhandling became a way to support his inflating budget without returning to the service industry, an idea he detested more than just about anything. He began vetting who he would allow to stay in his apartment. He felt his kindness was being taken for weakness, and though he wouldn’t admit it, he’d laid claim to these things. The stress of living in societal limbo, half in half out, and his increasing drug abuse caused the complex sympathy he had felt for Siegfried to burrow deeper and spread wider into his being as it was sublimated by other more semiotic delusions of persecution and grandeur.

It had been five years since they’d lived together when Siegi, in a manic fit, called Tristan at his college dorm.


Have you seen my fingerprint? Do you have it? I’m staring you down. Do you still talk to Alyssa? Does Chris know her? Where is my fingerprint? I won’t play your games anymore! I know what you want me to do, but I have already won. My principles are stronger than your persuasion, and now you and Alyssa are trying to ruin me. I’m publishing the truth online. People deserve it. Do with it what you will. I’m not afraid of being killed. Some Texas World Poker Tournament Champion stole my fingerprint, and I’m out here doing Holy deeds, and they treat me like shit! They pretend I don’t exist! Give it back to me now and you will be rewarded ten fold by the Holy God of Ancient times.”

Alyssa told me to visit her in St. Louis, so I did, on my trip to L.A. And what does she do? She tries to engage me with John’s baby, Michael, while John is off in Iraq, and then she asks if I want to fuck her! She wanted me to be her Wyatt Erp, or Jesse James, but I wouldn’t break my vows as a Mason. She sad I should go, I don’t want you here, she says. Why did you come here anyway? – Evolve dissolve, metamorphisize — It was like I was being set up. I was being watched, like a movie. I wonder what would have happened: John would emerge from behind the scenes and either kick my ass or congratulate me for screwing his wife, again. Again, life becomes a disorienting illusion – a cloud of possibilities, none more real than the other. Where do you want to go now? Let’s go! Where are we going? Let’s go! Let’s go! Now I’m making the movie. I’m the producer, director, writer…actor.

Have you ever been fucking a girl and just at that moment when you are completely outside of yourself, as you give in to her and truly love her, her face starts to morph into a different girl’s, and then all the girls you’ve ever fucked or ever wanted to fuck. That happened to me the other day; that’s when I knew: they are all synchronistic, a single woman working against a single man. Cause and effect is communicated through these dimensions and things change all of a sudden.

Who stole my fingerprint, machines or spirits? I know you have it. Its signal is growing stronger. Don’t tell me you haven’t felt its presence.

It was just this summer I was running shit. No one could touch me. I was getting half-pounds of dank herb fronted to me, and driving up to Bangor to slang to my peeps. I was clearing mad cash (paying off my debt), regaining the respect I had in high school. Work hard, party harder. Untouchable – my car still had a busted grill, popped up hood that I fastened down with a rubber bungee cord, and was missing the drivers side windshield wiper, from the accident in L.A. – I hit an NYPD cop car – but that’s a separate story. My point is that each time a cop stopped me he had to let me go. That’s when I realized that reality is completely malleable. It’s all a management of power. I knew who they were better than they knew themselves, because I know who we all are. Get it? They play their role, but they aren’t confident about what role to choose with me, ‘cause I call them on it and show them my badge. My brain is an advanced super computer. I can put all the options together. Their words are scripted and I break the script, I wrote the script, I could scare them away – they were staring into the eyes of the beast.


Tristan still had seventy pages in “Before Western Hegemony” to read and a five hundred word response to write and an early class the next morning, but he was curious about how Siegi was doing. He had heard stories from friends who still lived in Maine that caused concern, and thought maybe he of all people would have a chance of getting through to him. He mostly just listened, and gave short answers to ambiguous questions. Each time he thought there was an opening, when Siegi was speaking more relaxed and self reflectively he would try to point out some failure in logic or pathological line of thinking, but that would trigger another dive into the rabbit hole of surrealist rants and blame.

Siegfried was lost. Claustrophobia and paranoia had poisoned his soul. In desperation to reconnect to the world he destroyed the only remaining connection to his true self, and with it his will. There no longer existed right or wrong, only power and weakness, and so he became enslaved to the forces of good and evil that would battle over his soul for the remainder of his life. The fifth chapter of Soul Calibur opens with an epigram that reads: “The young azure knight, mesmerized by the powers of the blazing hellfire, reached for the evil blade…Unnoticed by all, so began a new nightmare…”


So I was powering up all summer, getting ready for the next stage, but those who were close to me only saw opportunity. I was too focused on my exit and I got whacked, like when a computer program gains too much information, it gets a surge of electricity, putting it out of commission. This has happened to me multiple times (Oklahoma was one), but it never has been as devastating as this.

I was bringing a close friend of mine to Bangor so he could see his girlfriend. He kept leeching off me. Come on Sig front me a quarter, Ill get you the money – so I did it – but he never came through. Then he started trying to steal my connection, trying to take my power, calling me Johann. So I stood up to him, and he plunged his fist into my gut. He rattled my spine and I couldn’t breathe for minutes. I could hear the hit-points rising out of my soul like vanishing bells. The next day I sliced the tip of my finger off while cutting open a blunt for another so-called friend.

It’s been almost six months and I still can’t find my fingerprint. I can’t think straight. None of the shit I used to know makes sense anymore. They have it and they are laughing at me. I piece things together using computer files, software, music, job titles, but my memories keep getting stolen. It’s so exhausting to repeat this process every time I wake up. I try and play along, hoping that they’ll recognize my effort and help me out like they always said they would. I’ve been working overtime for Bill Gates, Time Warner, Puff Daddy, George Bush, Sandra Bullock and they just steal my work – they pretend they don’t know me. When I summon my fingerprint from the ether, they hear me and smother my calls. They promised to help me, but all they do is use me. I’ve had enough of this shit. It’s time to go back to gangsta Siegi and show them who they’re fucking with.

It’s all about Siegi. Casablanca – suit and tie; smoking Marb Reds; ordering drinks at the bar; Vaudeville – juggling; Charlie Chaplin; Laurel and Hardy (white magic); Buster Keaton; Humphrey Bogart – Warner Brothers; Mickey Mouse; Looney Tunes. Siegi.

Christian Bale is an evil mage trying to steal our power. Give war a chance; that’s what Bush says. I try to have this cancerous bump removed from my inner thigh and they tell me it’s an ingrown hair – they want to lock me up! Sedate me. Those motherfuckers are resistant as hell!


In ancient times Soul Edge was shattered, but could not be destroyed, so the King ordered a sage to create another sword with purified fragments of Soul Edge to balance its evil power. Supposedly, when you really beat the game, Soul Edge is shattered again and emerges from the vortex of evil that held it dormant. But I’ve never met anyone who has seen that happen. Both times we beat the game there were different endings, depending on the choices we’d made. One time we got a girl, and the next we inherited an enchanted item, but no balance was restored – the game just starts over. Cycles of madness and people pretending to forget.

Okay, so I haven’t written anything since I lost my fingertip. There’s no point. It would just get stolen. Plus my handwriting is ruined. Last week I realized I knew where to look, so I sat in one spot with a little bread and water, and took just one dose, enough to invert the dimension and  draw the fingerprint into the vacuum I’d created. Suddenly it materialized through the wall of the tornado, into the eye where I was floating, seeing everything. I was willing to wait as long as it took. If it never came then I accept defeat like a noble knight. This is what it had come to, this dangerous game. Like playing Russian Roulette with Michael Jordan, danger is my middle name – actually it’s “victory through peace.” I am a Holy being juggling ancient enchanted crystals.

A blanket of spirits surrounded me during my trip. They did their job wrong – grabbing my balls, releasing malicious fleas – sand in shoes.

I was almost there; I could feel it. I did everything right. I’ve let myself acquire debt and paid it off multiple times. I’ve worked for Key Bank, Bank of America, The World Trade Center, Financial Times, J.P. Morgan! They are just afraid of my power. I’m so tired of their inherent evil. It’s time to find it myself and say fuck all of them. Time to sit and search and rise. I’ve just got to keep trying.

Maybe I’ve been asking the wrong question: ‘Give me my fucking cake or I’ll kill myself.’ That only emboldens them. It gives them pleasure to see me squirm. I need to ask nicely, patiently. I need to say, ‘Please give me my fingerprint back.’ They’ll see that I’m willing to help them as I help everyone, if they just let me. It will be in their own interest.


Tristan asked who Siegi was referring to; How he could simultaneously ask who stole his fingerprint and then speak about them as though he knows precisely who ‘they’ is.


“It doesn’t matter who I’m asking. The truth will set them free and the evil will shatter. You can thank me later.”


Siegi hung up the phone.