“Plane of Thought,” By Zachary Valladon

I died eating honey roasted peanuts.

“Ramjish.”

“Hm?”

“Will my father be okay?”

“I do not think so.”

“My guru has begun his healing process. I know he will be okay.”

Karesh was an old friend, or something like that, and I had long since grown disgusted with his perpetual positivity. When I was young, I wanted to be a lawyer. Then, I wanted to be a doctor. I did both of those things on my own terms. I practiced law first, in India. When I grew tired of the lawlessness in the endless slums I grew up in, I wound up on a one- way plane to America with my twin brothers. In life, I’d always had a natural (some might say god-given) tenacity. My ambition was unmatched in my family, and I didn’t need to worry about success. I knew, inherently, that I was destined for greatness. So, when America’s shores beckoned me to the fruits of my ambitious nature, I sought the respectable future of a doctor. Twenty long years studying and practicing medicine came and went before the call came.

Unlike me, Karesh was lazy — life seemed to hand him great things. He was good at fiddling with any of the primitive technology we could get our hands on and eating bland Indian sweets. We grew up and attended the make-shift excuse for a school in our neighborhood together. I excelled academically, but my instructors never gave me accolades for my intellect. Instead, they scolded me for believing myself to be superior to my classmates. I believed then, and continued to believe until my death that success warranted an appropriate level of arrogance. In order to be the best, I needed everyone else to understand that they were not.

Karesh believed deeply in the idea that the world could unite as a peaceful family. He followed the teachings of a renowned spiritual man, a guru, in India. Karesh meditated regularly, ate without regard for his health and had somehow managed to earn himself a career with computers in India that was equivalent to a six figure salary in America. I think that I hated him even as a boy, but he was always drawn to me. As a child, he was the only one who associated with me at school, as a teen, the only one who broke bread with me and as an adult, the only person to ever reach out to me from India. He disgusted me.

Of course, when he called me to tell me that his father was sick, possibly dying, and that he would pay as much money as he needed to assure that he could be transported from India to America to be in my care, I could not refuse. Being on life support, his father would need to have a doctor on the airplane with him in case of an emergency. Karesh insisted that I was the doctor to fly with him, so he also paid for my ticket to India and back and the labor. When it came time for the actual flight, I was so busy planning my European vacation that I almost missed it.

When I first saw Karesh again, he was the same as I remembered…bubbly, fat and smiling. All that changed was that he now wore a mustache and that his hair had begun to gray on top.

“Ramjish, I am thankful beyond words that you’re here,” he said.

I extended my hand out with a slight smile; to me, this was nothing more than a business transaction, but Karesh did not need to know that.

For the rest of the story, purchase a copy of Issue #2 of Negative Assets: Punk Lit Zine.