Corrupted Data Corp™

I think I first met Corrupted Data CorpTM while sat on the pavement, drinking undrinkable red wine from a glass that used to contain someone else’s beer. I was with people I might have once known, their conversations louder than they were coherent. I remember standing up and announcing my departure.

Don’t leave, said one of the group.  

Yes, stay, said another.

They pulled me back to the floor and refilled my glass with vodka.  A woman kicked a man for refusing to kiss her on the lips. She poured another man’s drink on him because he suggested she might want to go home. 

I'm ugly?  You're ugly! she said. The alcohol staunched her shame, stopped her from bleeding out.  This is freedom! she shouted, taking  off her top and pushing her breasts into faces. When she turned to me I averted my gaze.  You don’t like my boob job? she asked, with a tone in her voice that dripped with faux hurt; put-on feelings sourced from my certain need to meet her eyes without looking down.

Your tits are well engineered, I said. But, you’re drunk.

She flicked a cigarette at me and turned to the next male in the group. The situation was deteriorating.

Stay, said the group.

Fuck off, said the woman as she spat in someone’s drink. 

On the other side of the street, people sat on chairs under parasols sipping drinks they didn’t have to pour themselves. They were looking at us the same way I wasn’t looking at the drunk woman’s naked insecurity. I remember I wanted to be with those people, to be drinking expensive drinks wearing expensive shoes, not sat on the pavement feeling more and more like my life was a conversation where I kept saying the wrong thing.

One of our group stood up and took a set of fire poi out of her bag along with a jar of paraffin. She began to dip the poi into the paraffin asking the rest of the group if they had a light. I moved towards her and asked if I could have some of her vodka.

She looked down at the bottle, her body swaying out of time with her head, wavering like heat haze on the horizon. Sorry, she said. It’s all gone.

People were walking around us, tourists with children, prams, flammable tracksuits and mumbled curses.  Maybe the poi would look better on the beach, I suggested.

She looked at me, squinting in a way that made me feel I’d split into two, or maybe three. I need to go to the toilet, she said, and stumbled over the road into the pub that wouldn’t serve us.  Later, I think we made out.

I put the lid back on the paraffin and put it back in the girl's bag. The group booed me.

Why are we here, I said, when there is a beach right over there?  

The group cheered me.  

Like a badly executed Mexican wave, everyone stood and stumbled in the direction of the sea, a chant rising. We are Corrupted!  We are Data!  We are CorpTM!

I trailed along behind them like a fence still somehow attached to torn away house tumbling in a tornado. One of the group carried a portable stereo.  From the speakers pumped the song Shattered Macintosh Dreams from the album Artificial OS(2019).  

This is all I remember of that afternoon all those years ago. It’s a snapshot I keep returning to, a postcard with no context. As I grow old my memory doesn’t work quite the same.  Where I used to have stories and events that moved through time, connecting together to form a life, all I have now is snippets, flashes of colour and sound that hold no context.  Remembering is like trying to watch a deleted video on Youtube, all I get are suggestions that have no connection to what I know should be there.  My memory unable to hold the weight of eternity.

Together, that summer we moved as one, all of us desperately trying to control time, to keep the sun high in the sky and the future an uncertain potential we might never live up to. This is all I have. This fragment, this feeling that though we haven’t seen each other in years, we’ve been friends ever since.