REPORT A PROBLEM
I can't accept good things that come my way as a result of duplicity. So I don't, most of the time. I make a point of eschewing fads because I'm BROKE, most of the time. Fad followers ALWAYS pay top dollar. I don't posit my experience as universal, nor do I want to, which is one reason I'm dragging on that novel I promised myself. What's interesting is more entertaining than what's true, most of the time. Welcome to the show that starts ending the day I start rotting in the ground. It's just getting clocking. Tip generously, and enjoy.
Hear the booming thunder. Feel the crotch-exciting rumbling. As advertised in bus stations across the nation. As dreamed of on pillows from coast to coast. It's the new thing. The new wave. A challenge. But it's hardly fringe. It's selling cheap speed and blow jobs right down YOUR alley, kid. It beckons. It summons you. It wears fire engine red. Its voice is smoky from experience, with gravely stories to share. You'll find yourself awake in a strange bed, broke, with a pocket full of wadded up ATM receipts. It's what you need. Always less than what you hoped for.
A lurking melancholia still pops onto my radar at the most awkward times, puncturing my serenity and throwing all that keeps me breathing into question. I fire a hail of moments, images and sounds (my sleeping girlfriend and her ladylike snore, some New Orleans soul, a fleeting second when I realize my clumsy sarcasm was somehow understood) into the storm cloud. Sometimes it retreats. Sometimes it blacks out entire weeks. I generally don't remember the melancholia as vividly as my diversionary actions. Which cheers me, even before hindsight kicks in. I like to think the melancholia's weakening as I age.
Kelly stood still as sculpture, fearful that a misstep might deepen her already epic self-absorption. She shoved her hands into her jacket pockets and balled them into small but decisive fists (thumbs on the OUTSIDE this time). Some sad, diffident, flavorless ballad echoed in her head. Must be below freezing, she thought as she raised her index and bird fingers to her chapped lips. Ice in the folks' birdfeeder, she silently predicted as she moved them away, exhaling and imagining her visible breath laced with nicotine. She'd go on to invent the spermicidal gelcap. When her work here was complete.
Some things people do, they're either TRYING to be irritating because they think it's cute, or they just don't give a shit. This realization gave Kelly some comfort—solidified her righteousness in casting her former friend aside—though it was, at the same time, excruciating. Wrenching. Like everything else she'd experienced in, oh, the last three weeks. (At least.) Stephen, she knew, would relate if given the opportunity. She knew (had a feeling) there was physical shit (causal laws) she didn't quite understand. Fists clenched, she imagined a sublime and refreshing lakeside afternoon and summoned them. Made herself warm, momentarily.
Boomer held his tongue. Didn't offer apologies when they weren't explicitly requested or clearly needed. Didn't dilute them with bullshit excuses when they were. Pursued the sort of wisdom, the sort of good life, that would preclude all groveling to envious second-guessers. Lived life UNDENIABLY. Sucked up suffering and shame like the exercise they were. Indeed, Boomer was one of the real motherfuckers. 100% 5150 to those below his level. 100% square only with himself. His loneliness (preserved to maintain sanity and dignity, though he knew the two are indistinguishable) an unwritten history now locked in his rotting attic. RIP.
Within each man's soul, there is an impenetrable bunker. Sealed off from the noise. Sealed off from need, envy, compulsion, questioning and regret. This place is silent. There is no time or erosion. What is, remains. Therein burns an eternal flame in which one can see every color of the spectrum. All pain is made ash, and the man regains his composure. When the grass was green, the water was clean and you could get into a movie for a nickel and get four pennies change, this bunker was already old. Take yourself there. Lurk in shadow. Plot your comeback.
Three or four good squirts of 409. The lemon scented shit. Wipe it off with a lint-free cloth. Fuck, I don't even particularly care if there's lint on it. Just use a rag or an old t-shirt or something. Doesn't have to be fancy. But don't use fucking paper towels or anything disrespectfully rough or prone to rip. Wipe it down until you see my name. Keep wiping until all the dirt and grime and fossilized business are gone. All of it. This is for YOU, asshole. So you can watch that motherfucker SHINE. Leave the daffodils and walk on.
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS. And Home is feeling weak today. Thinking of the suffering and deferred dreams all around. Too caring to dish out criticism, no matter how richly deserved. Too supportive of those oblivious to the damage they cause Home. Those proud explosives. Hooked on theatrics. Home is too cognizant of how much it's going to hurt down the road. Alone. Very well aware that no one gives much of a shit outside. Windows caked with faulty logic and self-pity. (Which doesn't seem to scrub off no matter how clearly futile it is.) Because things will worsen.
JD, I found out, will never get out of prison. The contract he tried to put on his former girlfriend, who’s mother he beat to death with the flashlight, didn’t help his image too much. I wonder this: If the NC penal system treats him as poorly as everyone silently assumes (those who think he won’t die young are hardly optimistic enough to believe he won’t get his asshole shredded), why doesn’t he off himself? I’ll say this: I got a taste of the mind-numbing boredom in the county. Ate through his self-destruct mechanism, maybe. Suicide takes inspiration, I suppose.
Now. You could be anyone. Any of the many. At a wide angle. Zoom in. You’re terrified. Stone petrified. Seeing no other option. And, indeed, there is none. So you continue plowing through the bullshit. Running down the pimp profanity. When necessary. Relentless. Zoom out. The edifice crumbles. (Drama queen bitches gossip and whine.) Somewhere else, flags flutter in the So. Cal. breeze. And something’s a bit OFF. That edifice was relatively new. And I believe we’re seeing only one frame where there ought to be two. And it’s slow. Not slow-mo. But just unnaturally slow enough that you notice.
We give you the pieces. And you put them together. Nothing is expected of you. Grow your own. For instance: Someone, probably a man, leaves a disposable razor by the sink in a public men’s room. Could be he had to get out of bed at the ass crack o’ dawn and needed a quick emergency shave in preparation for some situation. Some situation in which he needed to look sharp. Could be there’s a weird little kid, a boy or a girl with some surplus peachfuzz action, that sleeps in here. Hiding. Might be a better tale that way.
That fourth night on the office floor broke him. After dreaming of that lothario plowing his beautiful daughter and waking up to realize his dream, or a version of it, had probably taken place during the past few hours, he decided to take stock of what in his life was still IN HIS CONTROL. And improve it, outside variables be damned. He started with the eyewatering smell of insecticide that seeped into his clothes last night. Sleeping on office carpet makes that sorta shit happen. He needed a fresh frame. So he rented an apartment, not unlike his daughter’s place.
Rodney watched his friends disappear, one by one by one, sometimes cliques at a time. He knew he was still dry entertainment, just too intense for most people to handle at a stretch. Rodney was at his best, though: Rawer than ever. Didn’t give a fuck about dispensing the hard truth and breaking through their delusional comfort, melting that fossilized frozen bullshit that held them up. Had they any survival instinct or any REAL passion for honesty, they’d thank him. Futility isn’t the end, it just means it’s time to LIVE. To see the world. Which Rodney intended to do.
With or without company. Good people, Rodney’s old friends. Just weak. Defiantly weak. Always disappointing. He needed less from them now, and was whittling that down to nothing. He’d always preferred books and masturbation to sex and interaction with fools, anyroute. He was no longer ashamed. Rodney rolled up a joint. Kept his mind agile, the weed. Paranoia his ass. He thought about his best friend and her incomprehensible need to believe in happy endings. As opposed to the inspiring interludes that are the best one can expect. Set aside his love for her. Focused on his disappointment. Masturbated furiously.
The old man was tuned into a frequency that I dobut is even in the air anymore. He spoke slowly, clearly and with authority. Was never inappropriately intimate. Squared his jaw and tolerated all sorts of potentially demoralizing bullshit without ever ACCEPTING any of it. An object of admiration and envy. Flawed, natch. He was stubborn as a pertified forest, willing and able to force his will on everyone, at any time, no matter how great their concern or how small his own. He’d have laughed had you called him petty. Not that anyone did, back when. Died cold. Accepting.
Listen, motherfucker. You talk quite a bit of shit, don’t you, motherfucker? I have no motherfucking idea how you’re CAPABLE of talking so much goddamn bullshit. How does that work? Look at you, cocksucker. You’re, what, 60 pounds? Soaking wet? How do you HOLD so much shit inside your body? How the fuck does that WORK? Or is that bullshit on loan from some other weak motherfucker? You just picked that shit up AROUND, didn’t you? Shit ain’t even yours, motherfucker. Your asslicking compatriots just accept it from you, am I right? That’s not how the fuck we operate here.
She asked him what was wrong. Obseved he wasn’t “happy” anymore. He sighed. Explained, as best he could (it always sounded asinine when he spoke it) how he’d tried to snuff himself once and was still more or less certain that’s how he was going to die, eventually. She sighed. Rolled over. And said, “You don’t like yourself very much, do you?” He replied that no, he didn’t, much. Normally, that sort of shit was his own business. But he supposed she’d made it hers by sucking his dick. She left. He drank and forgot. And grew the fuck up.
And so it ends. Two contrasting souls forever lose their ways and find each other in a silent room. The air is heavy. There is no light. But it isn’t black. Were there light, it would be more of a deep, elegant purple. The air is heavy but not humid. Any tears evaporate upon release. One soul hits a pillow. It makes no sound. It, like the opposite soul, has nothing left to communicate. Not a goddamn thing. If someone went to the store, one would love a PB&J sandwich, but would be fucked. So they sleep in, stomachs agrowl.
In my all-fronts stupor, I decided that WALKING HOME would be a good idea. When I acknowledged my complete lack of bearings in this neighborhood (about two blocks away), I changed my mind. Decided to return to the house. Found the wrong house: This one was home to a stout family man who coldly suggested that I leave his property. I felt bad for the man. Was sorry I’d intruded. So I decided to re-enter his house to apologize. Next thing I knew, the cops were on the scene. Then, they’d given me a ride home and a stern warning.
Here’s HOW TO FLOSS. In case you want to. Whether or not you want to, ‘twould be wise. You probably DON’T want to. As it’s inconvenient. An awkward time and concentration investment. But don’t fret. It’s easy. Simply floss 4 gaps daily. No more, no less. Right before bedtime. Starting at your top left. If you tried to floss ‘em all at once, you’d get to it once a week, if that. This way, in under 60 seconds a day, you get all the way back around within a week, where you can start over. It’s a good daily discipline.
This is our time. It’s easy for us. The subway passengers drop to their knees, assume the duck and cover pose and scatter their wallets and purses on the floor. I’d plan to pop one, just to make an example, but they’re all so fucking POLITE about this that I haven’t the heart. Respectable take. I can tell without counting it that it’ll keep us out of this sort of situation for a few months, perhaps. We’ll count it tonight as the pizza reheats and the video rewinds. Cocksuckers never rewind their goddamn videos. Speaking for myself, I feel victorious.
Sparky was burned out. Depressed. Full of shit and rage. He needed a slice of a few hours to stretch. To decompress. COMPLETELY ALONE. He was out of polite ways to tell those dear to him to, just for awhile, leave him the fuck alone. Sometimes he just can't take being WATCHED anymore. So, as his roommate was holding another late-night drinking session in his room, and the officious pieces of shit that worked the front desk in the library couldn’t take their eyes off him, he curled up under a table in the former smoking lounge and breathed, slowly.
Valerie didn’t share my feelings about this greasy spoons (somewhere between daydreaming passion and cold, comforting tolerance), so I headed down here on the rare occasions that I woke up first and she didn’t follow within a few minutes. Sometimes I spiked my brackish joe with Bailey’s for either a jumpstart or a numb, protective glaze, depending on how things went. Good view of the water. Being in proximity to large bodies of water lends a quiet intensity to things, so that the sourest slice of time at least becomes and atmospheric memory. Quit staring. Do the crossword. Drift off.
The sweater-clad black gentleman burst into the store, claiming he’d just woke up next to a woman he didn’t even know. Introducted himself as RJ. Last name Reynolds. Showed me his credit card. Gave the impression, through what he said and what he silently revealed, that he was a high-profile, if troublesome, civil rights activist in town. It helped when another man showed up and independently confirmed most of his story. RJ winced when the man called him “Robert.” Later, he told me he had a piece, and would protect the store if necessary. Said, “Shit done changed.” And left.
There's a relaxed satisfaction I feel on certain days. I'm not going to bother trying to describe it to you. Too much of it can kill a man. Has. But sometimes it's necessary. And it always has a way of appearing right when it's needed. Sometimes you have to travel. To flush it out. Sometimes it falls on you like an afternoon rainshower. Today was WONDERFUL. As close to perfection as I dare expect. Great sex. Just enough booze. All the fire and affection and caring between the missus and myself with none of the painful me-you tribulation. Rational serenity.
I worry that my big decisions are entrusted to a younger, stupid version of myself. That my serious choices are approaching like the first of the month and I'm hoping I can scrape together enough honor and responsibility out of the nickels and dimes I've accumulated to make decisions that won't eventually get my ass evicted. I get the overpowering sense that I've not yet fucked up nearly as much as I'm going to. Fuck yes, I'm afraid of commitment. But not for the reasons you think. The details, I'll admit, scare me senseless and keep me awake. Furious. Petrified.
You do your part by not demanding absolutes from me. I'll do my part by expanding my horizons. You do your part by, no, not LOWERING YOUR EXPECTATIONS, but assigning your inevitable predictions and mind-readings a lower priority than present indulgence and bliss. I'll do my part by showing you a damn good time. You do your part by offering me comfort and stability. I'll do my part by showing some respect and appreciation. Needless to say, the instant YOU need comfort and stability, I've got it for you in royal spades. ‘Cause I love you. Too much to quantify.
Euclid wasn’t the sort of man to give a fuck about your microscopic problems or mundane sense of dissatisfaction. Rather: He was the sort of man that took great care to APPEAR to care about you. He was priest, psychoanalyst, handyman, mechanic, philosopher, pal and all around nuisance to anyone about. And knew it. And defined himself as such. He saw things through an overhead surveillance system that played back, again and again, his every kind word and display of support. He saw your annoyed disdain ripen to grateful warmth as he comforted you. That made all his bullshit worthwhile.
Sleek. Sassy. Spiced to bits. Loopy. Punchy. Lively. All this and more. An ice cold six pack of sex appeal. The new standard. Wild. Whirly. Out there. Full-on ALIVE. True. Ruthless. Frothy. With cannons ablaze. Timely. Timeless. Not fanciful, simply fancy. Made the grade in our offices. Like watching an acorn sink slowly to the bottom of the sea. Poetic. Prophetic. Cuts through encrusted bullshit much better than before. As it’s improved. Enough hot wax for a candlelight vigil for 2Pac, Biggie, Eazy, Big Pun AND Roger Troutman. Foxy. Raw. Homicidal. The gin in the tonic or the orange juice.
Headlights on high beam. Creepy oldies in the dash. Rotgut rest stop coffee still too hot to sip. Creepy oldie can’t completely drown out the ka thunk ka thunk ka thunk of the pavement, only muffle it. So few vehicles on the road, you’d think the unthinkable had happened a few hours ago, somewhere, and was keeping them glued to the tube. It starts to drizzle. After fourteen thunks, it starts to rain. Two lights emerge from the vanishing point. I cut my beams, and leave the lights down, as a fog has just arisen from the worms’ unthought regrets.
The Tip Jar