Thursday, June 25, 2015

woeful ingénue

Ken Thiedman was a lawyer with over 2 and a half decades of bailing out mobsters and thieves and a hitman known in criminal circles as ‘Heart attack Hank’ whom was responsible for the murders of six people, including two women and a small child. Grisly deaths, spread across 4 states, high profile targets; Politicians and one Retired actress. The media made a carnival out of it, the trial lasted around 3 months and despite certain articles of damning evidence (footprints, audio recordings, and even the testimony of a man claiming to have been a witness to an alleged strangling of one of the victims.) Heart Attack Hank was exonerated on all charges, live coverage of the trial ended with a bone-chilling wink from Hank to the camera man. The nation collectively shit their pants.
Ken was of Cuban descent, tall and stocky. No facial hair, he hand a slick, sleek brown face framed with perfect eye brows and lips women from the Valley or Manhattan pay top dollar for. He was fucking gorgeous and I say this as a man who loves women more than I love freedom, food and the right to vote or hold office. Ken was also in the practice of taking long silences inbetween thoughts to stare at you. My Thai friend said it was a power issue, he said that Mongol warlords would do it to other Warlords to infiltrate the confidence and soul of enemies, he said that Ken wouldn’t actually be looking in your eyes but at your ear lobe, but ones eyes, always seeing slight, mundane illusions inflicted by our brains and  their isistant misreadings of the multiudes of others actions, beilve he is staring past our eyes, into our souls we keep shaded and hidden and solitary, like a dairy, like a secret to rich and soaked in personality to reveal.
Ken joined me on the veranda of the hotel I was staying in while I was avoiding Lathary’s goons. I’ll never forget, even though I was 6 mimosa’s into my afternoon, what his first words were to me when he pulled out his chair and sat down across from me.
“I know who juo are, and juo know who I am. Lets not phuck aroun’. In my bag, there is a pistal. You can take de bag up into your room and blow jour brains out and on thee walls. That way jou can sorta dodge all de bullsheet that is to follow these meeting. Is dhat somethen jou would be interested in?”
I shook my head sheepishly, but still maintain eye contact.
“Good, becase that would hav made my flight very much pointless.” He laughs, and waves the waiter over. Orders himself a beer and a egg with crabmeat a garlic. He order me a Tom Collins.
“I’ve been drinking mimosas. I’d sort of like to stay on that path.”
“No moar of jour bullshit faggot mimosas. That for 16 year olds and woman at bridal showers. Jou are a mans in thee company of a mans and jou will dra-ink as such.”
I laugh it off, semi-offended but also not trying to get into a altercation with a 6’5 cuban with a pistol in his brief case. He was like a wolf, Ken was. Like a Stevie Ray Vaughn lick with some tribal drums and faint chanting in the back ground.
Our drinks came before he said another word. My mimosa was watery orange juice and had somehow lost its taste after he insulted it.
“I ordered jou a Tom Kollins because its my truth syrum, I’ve foun’ that no maan can lie with a stomach full of Tom Kollins. So before we talk anymore, jou need to drienk thee whole. Fucking. Thing.”
I’m sorta petrified and scared and I think about how if Tam was still around we’d laugh at Ken’s accent and machismo and then when have a fuck session were she secretly francize I was Ken and I secretly fantasize I have an accent.
But Tam is gone and Ken is here as a direct result of that.

Tam was my woeful ingénue, I learned that word after she died and it break my heart that I didn’t recognize her has that when she was alive, when she was mine, when she’d sing  Leonard Cohen naked in bed plucking at her guitar. When we’d hold hands and breathe deep on cigarettes and wonder why can’t a love this strong, this real, be visible, like rainbows or the aurora borealis. Why couldn’t the world feel our love? Why couldn’t the dictionary have a separate definition, or atleast an addendum to the word love that described her and I. It was the sorta of love that enslaves the imagination, like the idea of Santa to a child, like the idea of blood to a shark. We loved so hard it could have crushed the universe and I guess that’s why the universe, being the coward that it is, took her from me. My woeful ingénue, what I’d looked for all my life.

To be continued...never..maybe

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Bigger Picture

Irene was enrolled in an art school in the Midwest were she took pictures of meadows and lovers. ‘Lovers’ is too intimate a word for  her bues; Patrick, Rob and Allen. She just fucked them a few times over the course of a few months but they each had a striking physical quality that were to her keen eye as a corner of a wallet poking out of loose pocket to a thief. Patrick played football in high school although he wasn’t so much a player as he was a large mass of meat that intimidated players. He was a creative writing major, and he wrote honest but painfully trite pieces about his father and drunken nights in cars, which, taking from experience, is a common stage for dramas written by young hacks. (Including myself.)
She didn’t like Patrick much. He was startlingly simple from his attire to his Neanderthal -esqe way of eating. (Heaping fork/spoonful’s shoved into his face like a jailed man whom is afraid of having his meal stolen.) She hated how he crowded her when they slept, she especially hated that he lived with his parents and sometimes he, albeit innocently, coerced her into spending the night at his parents house where they slept in the den on a dog hair covered futon. Patrick’s parents loved her, he had not had many girls over during high school and seeing Irene, all dark haired and smirking like a girl in on a joke told to her by the president or the cool girls at the mall, they were happy to accommodate her in hopes that she’d stay with Patrick. After all, Patricks father was a security guard and his mother on disability and the idea of shelling out the tuition to send there son to school for something so nebulous and not financially lucrative as creative writing was a touch pill to swallow, so anything right Patrick did they cherished and smothered. They even had a picture of the two on the refrigerator. Patrick, giant sized and lumbering with his arm Irene who smiled, but a rehearsed smile that masked the distance she wanted from 6’5 Patrick and his simple, bleak family.
She photographed Patrick first. Black and White photo’s of him walking down a crowed city street holding her coffee and his energy drink. She was attracted to him in that moment more than she’d been in all their knowing of each other. With his hands full, his dusty grey hoodie and K-Mart pants it ignited something in her core, in the sticky reaches of her brain and she fell in love not with Patrick but the huge, black and white oaf that showed in the photos.  Patrick could sense a rise in her energy that afternoon. She seemed manic and feral in a way that excited the writer in Patrick and as he watched her hop from angle to angle, snapping a hundred shots a minute he felt, for the first time in their short union like he wasn’t winging it, like he wasn’t a burden but that he was as special to her as she was to him. He smiled awkwardly and hopefully and although the heat from her coffee pained him he’d hold it there for close to 20 minutes as she photographed him. With his hands full he was severally handicapped, unable to write or tie his shoes or open doors and there was something in this perceived inability that rang out as true. That afternoon she gave him only the 2nd blowjob in their 3 months (Swatting his hands away from her hair and face, even forcibly placing them on his rotund hairy stomach with the same intent one would use to scold a puppy.) and called it quits the two days later.
Rob was next. He rode a dirt bike and worked in the kitchen of a restaurant. He had neck tattoos and a bun that was a millennial girls wet dream.  Rob was a certified babe, scruffy face, gruff voice, but short  dressing in all black. A son of the dark emo days, he sledded the CDs for Otis Redding albums and rolled cigarettes and talked about net neutrality and never said ‘bitch’ or ‘cunt’ or ‘faggot’ (Anymore.) Most women who gush but Irene, was in many regards gorgeous. Ample chest, full lips, no notable ass but thighs that were as classically feminine as they were genderless and ideal, as if a unisex prosthetic. And her eyes, seemed to see exoskeletons in color. She never seemed intimidated, never bowed or broken she could when a staring contest with Medusa. Rob had girls but never on the caliber of Irene. They met at a house party and kissed on the balcony. Irene left intentionally before they could exchange numbers but a few weeks later popped in his restaurant ‘casually’ with a few friends. Rob played it cool and Irene’s friends swooned and blushed and giggle and had immoral thought but Irene played coy. They met that night and Rob spent $250 on diner and drinks and cabs and ubers and a caricature drawn by a man claiming to be blind who need to molest their faces in order to perfect his sketch. They didn’t fuck that night because Irene was too drunk but in the morning they had a slow sort of sex that looked like a caterpillar walking up a mirror on his reflection. The sun painted Rob’s blue room and although she didn’t particularly like that his ‘bed’ was two mattresses stacked on the floor, she felt inspired looking at his naked tattooed, fit form, rolling cigarettes and talking shit about the bands his friends were in. She excused herself from his apartment but came back 10 minutes later with a disposable camera. He was making breakfast, Irene made Rob stop, go back in his room, and take his clothes off. He asked her if she’d take her clothes off too and she did. And Rob stared and her naked body, her pubic hair was dark and matted and looked irresistible tucked between her thighs. Her naked form made Rob hard, so they fucked but not just to fuck but to get rid of the pesky hard on. Because Irene had bought the camera to take photos of him soft and naked and dressed down and preforming cool or hip or mysterious. She had him continue making breakfast; eggs and sausage patties and hash browns. She wished she could make scratch and sniff prints of these photos.
She wanted photos of his tattoos and little pink prick and hair in a messy albeit still, painfully, amazing bun. She wanted a vulnerable Rob, she photographed him until the camera was full and they fucked again but never spoke. Not Rob’s choice.
Allen was third. He was comedian and he was a friend of a friend of a friend. Allen had ease dropped a conversation Irene and her friend Harley were having at a bar about a girl they disliked named Nicole.
“Anyone named Nicole is problematic.” He said. They looked at him. His short hair and glasses and sheepish eyes, his uneven mustache, and a smile that said ‘I’m an alright person. Alright is powerful word because its nether good nor bad, alright is layered and complex. Alright is storied and deep and needs inspection. Alright is neither day nor night, buts its dawn and dusk. In many ways alright is the most realistic condition we can ask for.” That night Allen’s shaky charm and the sentence; ‘If you’re going to have a threesome, we might as well have it with a black guy.” Whispered by a drunken Harley, lead the three of them to Harley apartment for a threesome that wasn’t nearly as cool as pornography has lead the masses to believe. The next morning Harley rushed to work, leaving Irene and Allen alone. It was awkward, they needed Harley, they needed that third energy from when their own became too reactionary and not proactive enough. They stumbled through conversation before Allen cut his losses and went home.

Days later Irene ran into him after class and they, feeling energized and maybe a little hopeful, had coffee and talked and it was good. Irene found Allen attractive in a sort of plant on a window seal type of way, as if she knew that in the right dirt he’d grow into something timeless and iconic but instead he was homogenized and put in a cheap thrift store pot. Allen thought Irene talked like a movie character, as if the greatest minds from stage, screen, prose, poetry, politics and music’s crafted her words. He wanted to be better for her, to work hard and open veins and build inverted pyramids all to prove his worth to her. He though of Harley, who was more conventionally pretty, but Irene was the one he loved, he could tell from the moment she turned her head to meet his brown eyes; Her hair whipped back and it made a sort of ‘stage curtain pulling back’ affect.  They began dating and Allen’s ex girlfriend scoffed at his new white girlfriend and one time Patrick saw the two holding hands and felt small and alone. It may have been love but they were on shaky ground. Allen didn’t have a job and thus felt inadequate and Irene’s affection needed gusts of unbridled confidence like fires need air and kindle and eventually they became strangers. Irene never photographed him personally, but she had did have several pictures of the two of them others had taken on Facebook. She grabbed her camera, a Canon ESOS 5D she’d saved 3 months paychecks for, and she pulled up all the images from her and Allen’s 7 months and took pictures of all of them from her computer screen. Then she edited them, almost like mixing paint, the images became liquid a distorted, one could make out and hand her or a leg there but for the most part it was a conglomeration of photos superimposed on one another like candle wax melted together. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Fire Tower

I had just finished eating my McDonalds, mouth still dank and warm from the chewing of the burger, when I looked across to the driver’s seat and saw Hilary’s face, and the scowl that sat on her face like a reluctant mask, I knew she was upset that I’d bought McDonalds, I knew she was furious I’d eaten the burger because of all the effort she had put into the making of the sandwich and other surprise dishes for the trip, and I knew she’d get off Scot-free in 9 out if 10 court room trials if she killed me for not also buying her a burger or some fries or an ice tea the way she likes it (sugarless and devoid of taste.) I knew all this before I ate the burger but still defiantly, like a child or an abused dog, I ate the burger because who is my girlfriend to tell me when and where and under what extraneous conditions I can eat my mother fucking McDouble.
“Are you going to pout the whole drive?” I ask with vile terseness, the sort that has and will continue to beget arguments ranging in intensity from tawdry recreational-bouts to ‘I’m packing my fucking shit up and calling my mother to come get me you pig.’.
“Just shut up Otis.” Hillary says, index and thumb fingers massaging her the bridge of her nose. Her skin is graham cracker brown but sometimes, without any accurate explanation I've been able to concoct in the last 4 years of our on courtship, her digits will go ghost pale, as if the blood in her fingers freeze.
“I’m serious, I was hungry and we have literally a 3 hour fucking drive. What did you ant me to do starve?”
“Correction I have a 3 hour drive, you have a 3 hour time to nap and make eyes at women in sedans.”
“That was one fucking time and I tell you literally every time you bring that up, which is tortuously often, that she looked like my cousin my family hasn't seen in 2 years.” Which was true, the woman did look my cousin Shawn, but there wasn't any real inkling in my head that the woman I saw in that sedan was Shawn, I was in fact, regrettably (but only to a point) looking at her cleavage which was ample and prosperous and usually I stop myself but the fact that she looked like my cousin combined with the sheer magnitude of those most stupendous tits made a shameful, exotic, erotic cocktail that my weak brain couldn't (Nor really wanted to.) resist.
“Whatever Otis we are getting on 87 and you know how much I hate highways so please just give me a fucking break, I can wear my face however I want, so just leave me alone and enjoy your burger.” She sends me that last verbal knife and it cuts but not deep enough for me to continue, after all she is driving, I opted out because I’m a little weary of 87. Last time I drove down 87 I had a flat tire and my decrease in speed coupled with the distinct lack of awareness of the material, physical realm (He was on his phone) of some jackass named Roger Welda lead to me being violently rear ended. The collision that lead to a fractured wrist that swelled and morphed to the size and hue of a grapefruit. While in my hospital bed, Hilary talked to me, like she hadn't in years, about her Dad and Mom and her new hobby of knitting and how when she was in college she’d do headstands while reading school books because it made her feel like an ‘efficient ass bitch’. I watched her small mouth, never opening too wide but articulating fully. Her lips, full but not bulbous, looking slightly like duck bills and slightly the curved line that divides yin from yang. I saw them as thoroughly kissable and magnificent and for the rest of the night, long after patient visitation hours were over and Hilary had driven to our apartment, I thought of those lips and the their peach color and soft majesty and the all the sudden the agonizing sensation of a wrist full of splintered bones didn't bother me so thoroughly. I’m sure the Hydrocodone drip and hospital bed blowjob played their fair share in my recovery as well.
We’re on the first hour of the trip cruising on 87 and we haven’t said a word which isn't the most ideal way to start what was intended to be a restorative excursion to an un-meddled by human hands, tranquil, woodland paradise known as the Catskill Forest Preserve. When I moved  to the east coast 5 years ago from the Midwest I’d  heard the name Catskill’s mentioned in various contexts and it always seemed like it had a faint familiarity, like a song you hear in an elevator know the chorus to but aren't quite sure where you've heard before. She proposed it the trip four days after returning from wherever the fuck she went after our big fight. My natural reaction was distinct aversion, 3 days in the woods sounded terrible. Terribly dull, terribly dirty, terribly inconveniencing, terribly Caucasian, just plain terrible. But in order to fix things that are severely (fatally) damage, one must withstand terrible circumstances, like paying a swindling mechanic to fix a carburetor or allowing the pimple faced intern to send not-so- sly-but he thinks are very sly- insults at you as he fixes the Xerox machine.  We must endure unsavory things for the betterment of one’s personal standing.
Hilary love’s camping, loves nature, loves animals and insects and I’m sure would choose to be reincarnated as a tree rather than a Saudi princess or Amazon Warrior. She is a child of the tree’s, she’s the Lorax’s hot sister. (Mustache and Danny Devito voice included.)The Catskills were her idea, having been only once as a small girl, her mother took her and her brother for a Parent-Kid bonding weekend that completely changed the families’ paradigm after the father took his third and what would be his final impromptu, unannounced, motorcycle pilgrimage to visit a brother no one had ever met in Alaska. Having a dad leave on a motorcycle vacation is one thing, having that dad abandon a family of 3 without a goodbye or clear reason, instead leaving 35,000 dollars in a shoe box on the bed is a whole other. They struggled that first year without their father, even though to hear her tell it he was always sort of a shit bag; inconsiderate, harsh, absent even when he was around, but still, a kids need a father and a mother needs someone to help lighten the load, both financially and when the endless menagerie of bullshit two teenagers can conjure. At any rate she claims that 6 days and 5 nights in the Catskills repaired what could have been a tragic reality of a broken home. And if it can mend family ties, it has to be able to mend what we have.
“Look at that!” She says as she reaches for the nob to turn the radio down. (The radio; whose music to play and when to play it was another volatile issue that could have catapulted us into a verbal melee so for sake of shaky peace I decided to relinquish control of the tunes to her. Mature of me, isn't it?)
“At what Hilary?” I mutter, not feeling like matching her energy, even though I could, and should and would have if my head wasn't so far up ass.
“That!” She sang, her voice concise, full of feminine edge.
I look over through her window and we are zooming past a road side stand of some sort with a large ceramic Native American in front of it. The statue is about two stories high and is missing a leg from the knee down. Yet there it stood, as I can only assume it as been for a great long time.
Hillary turns her head sharply and looks at me with a child-like glee. She is sick of being mad, she is beckoning me to be as well.
“What do you think his name is?” I ask, cracking a smile myself that I hope doesn't look fake because I’m not faking it, I’m happy I just don’t know how to smile.
“Hmmmm…Travis.” She says unsure, now with both eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel.
“Nah, Travis is too cool a name for a one legged Indian.”
“Mark is too white a name for an Indian.”
“Yeah but who knows Native American names.” She says with a sneer.
“They used Animal names I think. Like little bear or black fish and something.”
“Oh where did you learn that from? Some cartoon when you were a kid.”
“No really that what they used I think.” I reach back to where I’d heard this bit of information, and I’m almost certain she was right, that it had been a cartoon but I say nothing.
“They probably called him flamingo.” She says thoughtfully, eyes level on the road.
“Why flamingo?” I ask.
“Because the way he stands reminded them of the way flamingos stand, on one leg in the water.”
I let out a pleased sounding introspective grunt. She leaves the radio on low for awhile longer, hoping I say something. But I’m tongue tied, I consider saying something about eating a flamingo, or talking about Native Americans more, or something about how her legs have a brown tint like egg rolls fried to perfection and how she has a smile better than a hundred dollar bill found in your pants before you put them in the wash, but it all seems shallow and pedantic and grossly insensitive given my transgressions (The ones that brought us to this trip). So I let the silence bubble until she turns the volume back up, unsatisfied with me. Almost more than I am.
Three toll booths, four highway wrecks and a piss break at a Sunoco later and the only thing we have said in the car of substance was “You should change out of your work clothes. I bought you some more comfortable  camping attire.  Its in the red duffel bag in the back seat.” I oblige her and before too long I’m out of my Fred Perry sweater and into some blue, ventilated shorts that come up a little above the knee, an orange tee shirt with a cartoon of a duck repelling down a rock wall and some red hiking shoes and ankle socks. She smiles breezily at me, potentialy because of the similarities in our outfits; She wears a red under-armor with shorts and red shoes. Her hair is tied into a bun that resembles an obsidian birds nest. Stray, wavy strands poking out at random, she looks bookish, she looks literary. And in many she is literary; her appearance is something akin to a dream I had as a little boy, looking at racially ambiguous children actors and rueing the fact that there were no girls that looked like that outside of a Hollywood production studio. She’s short with with curly hair and skinny limbs and one time I saw her stretch her skinny arms over her head as she woke up and it made her head seem adorably gigantic. Modest hips but surprisingly plump ass, good breasts, and perfect areolas. She has a birthmark on her right elbow. It splotchy like eczema but the pattern is identical to the Galapagos islands.
She’s unique, anal-retentive about covers, blows her nose in her palms in the showers. Sometimes she wakes up whimpering and it’s a sound that could break any heart. She’s trouble, but life is trouble and she is my life, well sometimes.
It’s nearing dusk when we first see the rolling mountains, they look like humps in the backs of giants. It’s fairly majestic looking. How the sun erupts over the mountains like foam out of a champagne bottle. How the wings of the birds arch and fall and look like mouths smiling and frowning in bi-polar glory. Hilary puts her hand on her thigh and I grab it from her. I feel a warmth like a flare or a fire or a bag of popcorn. I’m happy, for the first time maybe in weeks.
After a short drive through a pathetic looking town we pull into a camp ground.  We pay $85 for a parking voucher for three days.  As we unload the car I survey the area. Cars of all makes and models and colors and conditions make up the population of the lot.  We strap back packs on, I’m carrying the tent we bought for the occasion, it’s a four person with this conveit little interior for zipper for dirty shoes. The packs were heavy, sleeping bags, pots and kettles, ponchos, two pairs of boots, toilet tries, a flash light that could easily double. I felt the weight, and I’m 5 ‘9 and relatively strong for a man my size. I cant imagine she packed our packs much differently, maybe 5 pound difference, maybe she even decided to pack her bag the heaviest, knowing that if my bag was too heavy I’d complain and bitch and say something hurtful, that’s the type of person she is, a person who is willing to bare the weight for what she believes in.
Shes got a brown paper bag that looks like it has weight on it. I’m excited to see what she made for food. On our first date she made me chicken nuggets in spaghetti sauce. She blamed it on college living but that’s hardly an excuse. I didn't hate it, but she shamed her so for it I thought that maybe I should. She’s come along way since that first dinner, since that first day. From nuggets in sauce to whatever deliciousness was in the bag. From being my student in my Thursday poetry writing class to the woman I’d signed the lease to a two flat in Brooklyn with. From that girl to this woman.
Fuck what have I done? How did we get here?
The forest has an undeniable charm, the crunch of leaves, the foreign, yet unmistakably earthy sounds that emits from the woods like the faint echo of lapping waves in a conch.
“There are a lot of couples it seems.” She says, reaching back to grab my hand. I was going to reach in my pocket for a Marlboro but the warm grip of her hand a this time seems more appealing than sweet stench of a doom stick. She tells me that she wants our own private land, where no one can see or hear us, so we hike east. I make a comment about visiting the Catskills winery that she waves off. I look at the brown bag she has tucked under her arm. I’m sure amongst the food there is some sort of alcoholic beverage. A bottle of Merlot, or a sixer of high life. Something to whet my pallet, to get the old talk-muscle going, something to help me get over the silence that I struggle with sometimes. Especially on this trip, especially when I’m certain this is our last chance to fix what we have.
What’s broken you ask? Well the short answer is trust, but short answers would be unfair in a story this long. I met Hilary at NYU, where I teach creative writing and poetry and must recently a copy writing class because the administration didn't like the “flow of my work load” so they gave me three bullshit copy writing classes. At any rate, I met Hilary her sophomore year. NYU is host to a slew of beautiful undergrads, from all around the known world, and while I’ve been enticed by a uncovered thigh here or a giggle there, I’ve never been moved to act until I met Hilary.
Her writing was layered and often sad and the class really respected her work. During my mid-semester one on one workshops with the students (A thing us creative writing teachers do in lieu of a midterm.) I was a tad drunk from a lunch meeting I had with a few other professors in the department (Another thing we creative writing teachers do in lieu of responsibility and professionalism.) we talked for 15 minutes about a poem she’d written about climbing a mountain to say good bye to someone, then the rest of the meeting was me talking rather pompously about my writing and her telling me about restaurants she orders from. She made me feel young, she made new shit feel possible, she was only 20 and I was 27 but I was suffering from something like the bends do to me mother’s passing and she reminded me of my mother but in ways I don’t want to talk about. But I will say that they both reminded me of houses on prairies, like dreams of people who slept in a pre-television age.
We began to date and eventually yet rather rapidly fell in love. And there are a multitude of happy stories in the years with occupied each other lives. But this is a story of Hillary and I and our camping trip to get over our fight that was caused by me cheating. With a student. In our apartment.
The girl, the student I mean, was young and white and wide hipped and represented something all self-respecting men of color try to avoid. The death trap of the white girl, with her eyes and charm and skin the color of a glass of milk after a slice of cake. I get sick and need a drink just thinking about it.
She’s a student, which has been a fucking foible in my past. The people in my department look at me differently. The women on staff subject me to cruel jokes and the men have a note of jealous-bitterness when Hilary is brought up. The chairman of my department brought it up once at a Christmas party, pulling me aside, with a firm grip on my arm, and a glare that was, if I’m being honest and why shouldn't I be by this point, scary. He told me that the only reason I hadn't been terminated was because he liked my story I had published in the New Yorker and that it made the creative writing department look good in the eyes of the rest of the school, it made asking for funding for a new computer lab a bit easier.
But that was many years ago and Hilary is now out of college and working at a high school in Queens as a guidance counselor. She tells me stories about kids going hungry, for both food and love. Horror stories, shes strong, her job is considerably harder than mine. That’s because she lives a harder life than me, but its high time I stop saying that, as if its any sort of constellation for living a shitty life and not considering the feelings of people I love or even mildly know.
She’s just about as pro as one can be when it comes to hiking. She attributes all of her wilderness know how to girl scouts but her brief stint in Girl Scout Troop 63061 occurred nearly two decades ago so I doubt it was that influential. She’s good, she can identify birds and turds and poison ivy by the smell in the wind, not just the cheap leaf counting method. She trudges on and we make conversation and things are pleasant, the bugs aren't unbearable, the weather is temperate and after awhile the weight of the pack gets melded with your natural body weight so you don’t even notice the flapping it does or the way it passively, yet most defiantly pulls against your shoulder.
I had a student once who hiked the entirety of the Adirondacks in a month. He wrote about it constantly, his adventures with other hikers, apparitions of the past, addiction, he wrote very vehemently about it week in a week out. I would read his assignments and sometimes quote them for Hilary and watch her face light up and feel a pang of jealously but it dissolved because I would not tell her that the quote was from a handsome, square jawed, outdoorsy student of mine but that the quotes came from me, that I camped as a young man and I still had a connection to the commodity that was nature. The truth was I am a city man, tried and true, I prefer subways over streams, the waling of addicts and derelicts over birds, and the smell of exhaust and street food over morning dew and honey suckle. But I could never confess this to Hilary, this was one of the many things I felt improper for in our relationship. I loved her and she loved me but some of the things we individually loved the other hated and its hard to encounter someone (a square jawed, woodman.) who shares similar interests with a loved one and not fabricate a reality in which those two parties hit it off and leave you to waste away.
As we walk through the rather dense foliage we feel a change in the air, something like the feeling when you walk into a house and you you know a TV is on, even if its on mute. The air felt busy, it felt young, completely strange but also familiar. After awhile Hillary stops me by putting her hand on my stomach, then she turns around, her eyebrows raised. She pinches the front of my shirt to pull me down to her level, then she whispers; "They're fucking."
I give her a confused look, then she points down a small hill to a blue tint. Poking out of the tents entrance flap are two sets of legs, one on top of the other, one toned and hairy, the other shorter and dainty. The hairy set of legs pulsates, slowly and rhythmically, implying long deep thurts, and the feet on the bottom set of legs sway as if leaves in a mild breeze. The scene is hot and made all the hotter by th fact that the couples faces are obstructed, they could be anyone. We crotch down and listen as the moans echo lightly, we do this for awhile. I put my hand on the nape of Hilary'd neck, and she reaches her hand back and places it on the inside of my thigh. We sit like this, until it is time to move on. For awhile I think about that young couple fucking in half way out of their tent, I think about it and these mesh shorts don;t do well enough to conceal the growth I'm getting from watching Hilary's ass in her shorts. We haven't fucked in weeks. Sometimes its easy to lay in bed, knowing the wrong that I've done can;t possibly arouse her. But some nights, I'll catch a glimpse of her bare thighs or, if she showers, the way her hair lays on the back of her neck, and I can't help but want a piece of her.

Eventually we find a spot, Hilary doesn't think it’s ideal, but it will do. We set up the tent, which is surprisingly easy and start a small fire. Now it’s time for the grub. She finally opens up the paper bag to reveal some Tupperware full of the Shepard’s Pie her mother taught her to make, it’s a little cold but also in the bag is a special outdoor skillet so that we can warm it the perfection on the fire. Also in the bag is 4 ham and salami sandwich, my absolute favorite. Some crackers, cheddar cheese, and pepperoni. Also in the bag are paper plates, napkins, and a bottle of Suntory, expensive Japanese whisky that we drank on my birthday three years ago on what we both consider to be the best night of our relationship.
I grab her hands and thank her, and we smile and I feel warm.

She hands me the bottle and then goes back to gazing into the fire. Her face is glowing like it should all the time. I drink the beer, I let in the chemical change, any reason to let loose, any reason to be an asshole.
“What do you want from me?” I know the answer. Every idiot does. She wants honesty and love and trust and compassion and truth and clean towels and effort and cock and food and a kiss on the head in the morning.
“I don’t want to do this.” She says, her eyes lost in the orange blaze.
“Well I do.” I’m rearing up to go, there is no stopping me, I’m a machine hell-bent on tears and tragedy.
“Otis just stop, lets get along. Do you want to lay down?” She says looking up at me.
“I don’t want to fucking lay down.” I breathe hot and take a pull from the bottle.
I’m an alcoholic, I’m abusive with words and in the past I've been a monster worthy of fathers or mothers brandishing shotguns. I've tried to change and I've made head way. But sometimes I get so angry I see red and I’m like a bull and there is no reasoning, no compassion, I’m a small creature who will destroy anything to make itself feel large, to feel like anything other than a speck whose feeling don’t exist.
“Stop yelling.”
“I’m not yelling. Why do you think every time I raise my voice beyond a whisper its yelling. Grow up Hilary, really.”
“Please, okay, just stop.” She says through sighs. She won’t cry, she only cries when there is silence.
“It’s just ridiculous; I told you I made a mistake. I told you that I fucked up but fuck look at everything I've done for you. I pay the fucking rent, I bought that car, I don so much.”

“So you’re saying that your respect comes to price? You're saying that you can fucking cheat on me with a teenager cause you pay for things?” She’s revving up herself. She’s often right in arguments, but I can’t let her ever know.
“No but I am saying that I’m allowed to make mistakes.”
“Are those mistakes fucking one of your teenage students in our bed, in out apartment you fucking pig.”
“Where was I supposed to go, her dorm.”
“Yeah you should have gone to her dorm so all those little fucking freshman could see you for the old, creepy pathetic bastard you are.” Her jab goes straight to the heart. She means nothing by it but the word ‘bastard’ means someone from a broken home, someone lacking parents. My mom died before I got to ask her so many things; her favorite color, her goals as a child, if she really liked my book. I felt parent less because my dad was entering a state where he wasn't going to be the strong man I knew. I felt like a bastard and she said it not knowing and it was at that moment I felt ripped open, like an envelope and letter ripped do to excitement.
“You're such a bitch.”
“Oh now I’m a bitch.”
“Yeah, you are.”
“Whatever, Otis, look at yourself.” The words I rue the most. ‘Look at myself.’ Who’d want to look at themselves if they were in my position. Fat, aging, in the woods, cheating, arguing, ruining love, ruining life, about to make a gigantic mistake.
“Look at your fucking self.” I say, wondering if Hillary ever loved my writing, ever loved the man I was on the page, ever loved my art. Not sure why any of that
“This trip is a waste of time, We are leaving in the morning.” She tells me. I hate that she called that, not because I want to be in power like she thinks, but because I want to be with her. But what a shitty job of showing it I’m doing.
We sit in silence and watch the fire. Well she watches the fire and I watch her with careful glances, careful not to get caught staring at her illuminated face, carefully so that she didn't know I cared, carefully as to imitate hate. I’m such a asshole, I’m not that great a person. After a while the weight of the situation hits me, the silence (That I’m causing.) dissects, so I stand up.
“I’m leaving.”
“Where are you going Otis?”
"Away from you." When we were young, or I should say 'younger' because we are quite young, we used to call each other 'dude' in arguments. It was a sign that we had devolved as Hilary and Otis and become faceless, nameless, dudes, inhuman, mannequins. We no longer call one anther 'dude' but the intent, the desire to see outside the person still exist in both of us.
I charge forward, through the woods, away from the fire we started and into something less populated, into something darker. My ears are burning, that what happens when I get like this. My ears become warm enough to fry eggs on, and its almost like the baking warmth from my ears bakes the section of me brain that regulates common sense, because in a situation like this common sense would decree I turn around and make nice with the woman I love cause the sun’s descending like the volume on porn when your wife/mother/father/boss enters the room.
But my ears are hot and I’m marching into the deep, dark, haunted regions of the Catskills. And to think I took off work for this.
An in detriment amount of time later and the moon is up painting the forest in a ghastly grey, as if under a spectral veil. The temperature dropped as well and these shorts aren't enough to stave off whats becoming a bitterly cold night. I don’t know where Hilary or our fire or our tent is. In my tizzy I forgot some essentials like a flash light and a poncho, and although the trees tower over me and their leaves umbrella me, cold droplets still make their way down on me.
Hilary is probably in the tent, infinitely more pissed off than I am, and with so much more cause. I feel choked. I feel like giving up and digging a hole in the moist soil to sleep in, using dirt as a pillow, blanket and bed, waking in the morning and screaming Hilary’s name for her to come help me, as self-fish as that sounds. But I don’t stop, I instead keep walking, through thorns bushes and poison oak and spider webs that cause mini-panic attacks every time I walk through one. The darkness grows and the only light I have is from my cellphone, and the battery is rapidly dying. Every now and then a beep goes off signaling that I have a voice mail, I am un-able to check it though because this forest is a nullifies satellite signals. This worries me; has Hilary tried to contact me, has my boss left a message, am I fired, did he to find out about me and the student? I’m in miasma of all feelings shitty.
Last time Hilary left a message on my phone it was to tell me that she had watched a baby bird fall from a tree die. She called during one of my classes and when I called a 15 minute bathroom break (Although at NYU bathroom breaks are essentially cigarettes breaks.) I checked the message, and her voice was soaked in disbelief. I knew exactly what face she was making. I had my students write her letter after they returned from their breaks. We read them that night and laughed, then she became upset at the thought I might have fucked one of the letter writers.  
Eventually the woods become painting into a lumisncent grey light that is quite beautiful. I enter a clearing and for the first time feel the full impact of the rain. It’s not coming down hard, but it is fast and between its conception in the heavens to its magnificent flight to earth it freezes. It miserable but as I trudge through the soaked grass the slosh of my feet are akin to the sloth of the feet of knights trudge into a blood soaked battle field. In the distance to my left I see a large man-made structure that towers above the tree, I make my way to it over the sopping wet grass. The water leaks through my shoes and every step I make has the most uncomfortable slosh, my drunk is wearing off, morphing into a sluggish, morose tiredness. The rain pelts me, brutally, and I feel like a sort of death, I feel like a sort of soaked denizen of hell.
I approach the structure and I recognize it to be a Fire Tower. Fire Tower’s  were built on the highest peaks of the region and they were manned 24 hours a day by park rangers. It’s said that from the top of a Fire Tower a ranger could see any telltale signs of a fire. There used to hundreds of these things, but since the 90s these things became obsolete due satellite monitoring and helicopter surveillance. A few conservation groups decided to save a handful, and here I am looking at one.
I climb the tower, hoping to see flashlights or camp fires or that couple fucking again, any sign of human life. But once I climb the metal steps, at the landing at the top, all I see is a shadow on the wet ground casted by myself. I look at the shadow and wave to it, it waves back mysteriously. I accept the shadow to be me, I far away me from another demision that is directly affected by this demision. I understand that I will always have this shadow, but it will always be in my control, it will always be at my beck and call, me and the height of the sun in the sky. Well in this case the moon.
Looking out at the arces of woods, I know Hilary is out there, I know somewhere in this dense collection of foliage is the woman I love, the woman I thought would be the last stop on the railroad that was my love life, but this shadow is still waving because I’m making it wave. This shadow is still here. I curse and spit on the shadow. Then I see two lights heading my way from the clearing. Finally some life, maybe they will have compasses or food or clothes, finally I can back to humanity, maybe its that couple we saw earlier, maybe they can walk me back to Hillary and she can thank them and we can live maybe trade partners and become swingers in the woods, maybe that is what will save our relationship. My shadow takes catches the spit right in the neck. I make my way down the wet stairs.
Hilary must be worried sick, she must be cold and scared. All I want to do is hold her. I make a misstep on the stairs. I slip and in trying to catch my grip, to stave my balance I twist me body and the gravity of my weight is too much and it makes my descent worse. I bounce down the stairs like a soceer ball kicked down a rocky hill. When I settle at the bottom of the tower my ears are ringing and I taste nickles, I cough hot liquid. I hear something faintly in the distance. Maybe its Hilary I think. Maybe I’ll have to go to hospital, maybe she will drive me and talk to me. Maybe we can make it up. But maybe what I hear is my mother or angels or ghosts or nothing. Maybe I hear my shadow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

For Streak C. Lawson

I hear the uncoordinated patter of his long neglected nails on the kitchen tile from the basement.
“He’s not doing good.” Dad says in a tone so resigned it seems terminal.
It’s a rainy December in Chicago, like God’s trying to wash the city. But the city isn’t a car with bird shit on the hood and it’ll take more than a moderate drizzle to clean Chicago.(The zoological term for bird (and bat) poop is called Guano. Guano.) I don’t mind the rain though, it means the weather will hold its relative warmth and after the Polar Vortex last year I deserve a holiday season without the distinct displeasure of shoveling snow while mucus pour out of my nose and freezes in my mustache.
Over Dad’s voice and the murmur of the TV from the living room I  hear rain drops landing on the awning over the kitchen window. An impartial melody, like the strokes of keys from a pianist who doesn’t give a shit about what he’s playing. The world turns, the sun burns and rain falls. The ether doesn’t (and shouldn’t have to) alter itself because my Dog can’t walk anymore.
Dad and I are standing in our kitchen looking down at the dog, making grim plans to drive to the vet, holding together a frail artifice that this isn’t a tremendously horrible Monday and that we aren’t on the verge of bawling.
The Bears are losing and the Dogs hind legs are weak as _____  and for all intents useless.
Earlier that day we had taken a trip to the mall to do some Christmas shopping. I was to receive a sweater and watch. My mother was getting a sky blue robe and new socks (A pair of which she already wearing.) I got my Dad a book and an atrocious burgundy shirt-thing with a zipper that disappeared into fabric half way down. This had become our tradition; An afternoon at the mall in which we all indiscriminately buy each other whatever is chosen. Christmas made practical, albeit considerably less festive. 
When we got back, bags in hand and guts rounded from food court vittles, Mom noticed a batch of shit in the dining room. We share a collective forgiving sigh, noting that we were gone for a few extra hours and the dog, at 14 years old, hadn’t the bowel fortitude nor the shame of indoor dumping he used to have. Dad picks up the dropings with a plastic bag.
“Poor thing. He just couldn’t hold it.” Mom says.
“He just old.” Dad commiserates.
I give a whistle but the sound does little to summon the Dog these days. Long gone are the days of a whistle and an eager gallop, now he conserves his energy. So I go looking for him. Dad gives a glance downstairs at the basement from the staircase in the Kitchen and reports that he doesn’t see him. I run to the second floor and find nothing but a wet spot on the carpet.
Mom says that ever since I moved to New York the Dog doesn’t make the trip to the second floor. Too many stairs for too weak of hind legs. So that fact that he, the Dog, exerted the energy to make the pilgrimage was so impressive that I didn’t mind the piss soaked carpet, same way Tibetan monks probably don’t mind letting people use their toilet after they make the journey up Mt Kailash. (Tibet is called ‘The Roof of the World’ because its nearly 5,000 meters above sea level.)
No Dog up there. So, admittedly a little nervous, a hastily head to the basement. I flip the light switch and see The Dog laying on the couch. Mouth open, tongue flopping around like some alien appendage. A breath of relief then I take a seat next to him and stoke his black, dusty coat. Feeling the familiar heat pulsating from his vibrating, solid body. A few seconds Dad comes down the stairs and he too has an exaltation of relief in the form of smile. We probably look like a painting, on the leather couch with moss green pillows, looking at him, Dad. A boy and his dog and the inherent unspoken, vast, unsurmountable love.
Dad calls him over to him, to take him out in the backyard for his last bathroom break of the evening. The Dog and Dad had developed something in my absence. Something not unlike a symbiosis, something like parent hood or friendship or love. I’ve been in and out of this house since I moved away to college in 2008. Plus it was a busy few years, exiting the chaos of teenage years for a new sort of chaos of my 20s, I was busy and wasn’t the boy the Dog remembered. So in my absence Dad stepped in and they formed a bond that kept them both happy and fulfilled.
Adorable I’m sure.
The Dog goes to Dad and together they head up the stairs. Half way up the Dog slides down and comes to crash landing on at the bottom on the unforgiving tile.
“Fuck. Shit.” I say.
Sometimes in moments of extreme trauma or grief or anxiety I’m able to watch myself react as if my life is a movie filmed in second person. Watch the Dog slide down the stair was one of these moments and the cruses were a feeble natural reaction to the moment, like hitting the knee with a mallet and watching it kick out.
After about 15 mintues of observing the Dog and his clear in ablity to climb the stairs and our suspicions on wether or not he could even stand up. Dad goes to get an old pair of throw away pants. He’s good with this sort of thing. A savy man who’d probably make a decent run at life on a deserted island. Or at least think of an effective way to off himself once the solitude transformed into delirium and psychosis.
He explains to me once the pants are for; We are the position them under the dog, like a hammock going horizontal. Then once once the dog is firmly placed in the concavity of the pants were are to pick him up using the sections of the pants that are exposed.
This is way lego instructions come with diagrams. Because sometimes genius is inarticulable.
We rig the Dog up and hoist him up. He does some mild freaking out, kicks his legs and panics because he can’t feel the ground underneath him.
We get him up the stairs and take him outside but he doesn’t do anything. He only lays on the cold, wet ground, so we use the pants to get him back in the house and that where the end begins.
Hours pass and at some point Dad says through a shaky voice that we have to put him down in the morning. The Dog hears the words but is deaf to the meaning and I find that strange and insulting to discuss his demise right in front of him. My dad gets a phone call from a neighbor who is good with animals but about 15 seconds into conversation he implodes into tears and sniffles and hands me the phone but I have no desire to talk in times of misery. I prefer to write and cruse and drink and hope there is a decent movie playing on TV to watch. So I keep the conversation short and regrettably curt.
The fall took out what little remnants of strength his legs had left. Walking became more of a balancing trick, how could he support his heavy frame on two hind legs that had the durability and rigidness of uncooked noodles. But still he managed through out the night. He breathing was so heavy it that it sounded like the panting of an adult man with thyroid issues. And his walking was shaky like dying leaves in the wind. But I fear that’s too graceful to describe the stumbling of the Dog. It was more akin the sound of a CD skipping while playing your favorite track. Frantic and painful. An error in upkeep that destroys something beautiful.
My parents retire around 12. Leaving me and the Dog and the night and the silence that comes with knowing the end isn’t a far off finish line over mountains, but that the end of this thing is only a modest collection of hours away, less than 100,000 seconds.
He won’t eat which worries me because this is an animal whose main allegiance lied with his own gluttony. And looking at his the apathy chiseled into his sullen face while a wave a biscuit soaked in steak sauce (Our favorite.) under his face is a starling realization that behind his will to stand is a resignation. I wonder what that resignation feels like, does it wash you like wave, entering your nostrils and feeling your lungs. Or does acceptance of the end come like a bullet. Do you die before your heart stops?
Eventually I hear the desperate clamoring of nails and the panting kicks up again as if it were a fire being stoked. I gather my own strength, it’s getting late and all this worry is riding me like a cowboy in some morose rodeo. By the time I’m off the couch and he’s stumbling around and breathing fire and his heads down but he’s walking with so much fucking intent you can almost, and maybe for the first time, feel his presence. In this walk that scared by age and bad bones I can feel the flames of his will. He turns to the kitchen and pauses at the back stairs. I rush into to stop him, fearing a face first plummet. My hearts races and I realize this type of worry is the shit that kills people. I manage to put the child-safety gate we took from my aunt after her kids were too big for it to be an obstacle, in the doorway to block his path. He seems annoyed but turns around and makes his trudge to the front door. It’s apparent to me now that he wants to go outside. That he has already soiled the inside of the house and that he is still capable of making the trip outside to handle his business like any other respectable, housebroken dog. He has dignity. So I oblige and open the front door and he looks out and the wet pavement and the night sky that seems to have a deep purple hue.
There was something so amazing about this moment; Watching the Dog survey the stairs, watching him confront his limitations, and thoroughly ignore them for the sake of pride, for the sake of taking a shit in the designated shit taking area like a functioning member of society. Like there was nothing wrong, like he was fine.
His front legs make the first stair down with no issue, but it’s the back legs that give out on him. He plops down, on the second stair, sunk like an anvil. He looks around, his mouth open, confused, where had his strength gone. Why was this so fucking hard now? There he was, stuck on the second of six steps, the rain, still falling without regard, the sky wrapped in a dark lavender so brooding it would have been sexy with a cognac and oj and a ciggerete.
I go back in the house and get a the pants we’d used to lift him out of the basement. I position them under him again, wrap the pant legs around my fore arms and lift. He seems grateful, as if he understands this is the only way he’ll be able to move. Resignation like a wave, resignation like a bullet. While he gets why we need the pants, he doesn’t get how to fully use them, and since neither can communicate we fumble about in the rain for 3 minutes trying to understand what the other wants. Eventually I realize we are going to need to leash to. Which means I’ll have to wake up Dad. And I was so hoping not to. I don’t want to leave him on the steps, in the rain with pants tied around him so I hit the doorbell a few times. After about a minute I see Mom come down the stairs from the open front door.
“Whats the matter you got locked out?” She calls.
“No. I need some help with the dog.”
Mom puts on her coat and shoes and I hand her the leash. We hoist him down the stairs and he pees and does some sniffing around in the lawn and Mom says that this won’t work for him. And then I realize Dad hasn’t told her about tomorrows plan.
That night my Dad slept on the kitchen floor with the Dog. Mom sat in the dining looking at them. The next day we use the pants system to put the Dog into the car. I’d been drinking and crying and my parents had been making small talk in voices too genial to be real.
In the car in the back seat he gives me a few last kisses. And I’ll never miss a womans tongue like I’ll miss that collie’s. He seemed to be crying with they gave him the shots. He eyes were watering and I don’t know if dogs cry and I won’t google it because sometimes facts get in the way of reality. I wanted to bury him in the back yard but Dad didn’t want to handle the body and none of liked the idea of not having a coffin for Streak, the Dog.

So I’ll remember him not as a headstone in the garden, but as the dog hair on my sweater. As the biscuits in the kitchen and as the warmth in the basement. I’ll remember Streak as friend. And every other dog I see will seem familiar, because I’ll know that somewhere in me on the borders of my mind, always orbiting inside, is the part of me that’s still just two eyes, two ears and the desire to run.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Too long to text you (Hicky shaped like the crab nebula)

I’m stuck to Carl’s couch like a fly in flypaper.  I don’t know if it’s the drink or the guilt from the thought of leaving after I drink or maybe its because I just took a 9 minute long tequila shit and my legs feel like slinkies and the idea of walking back home with knees so wobbly and ass so swampy is unfavorable.  Whatever my reasoning for staying, I feel myself sinking into Carl’s couch as if by anchor, as if by unearthly gravitational restrictions. (We’d weigh the most on Jupiter.)

“I’m not wholly Christian or wholly Buddhist or even wholly a Theist. I’m an individual, a collection of insular and outward perceptions. I’m a Carl-ologist.” Carl says with a look that is surprising less glib and self-satisfied than one would assume someone who qualifies his religious affiliations with nomenclature derived from his own (fucking) name. Carl is thin chinned and full faced, dark handsome eyes but the haircut of someone definitively uncreative. Standard white guy coif.

He goes on about his ideology, moving his hands like a chef or a politician who can’t quite read the cue cards and its interesting but behind all of my nods and ‘Oh really’ are thoughts of you.  My face is the set and this conversation in the play and everything is going well on stage but behind the scenes, hundreds of tiny you’s are dressed in black, manipulating switching working my eyebrows and pursing my lips like and making me expel assuring grunts. Carl has no idea that I’m run by you, that I’m only a shell that houses thoughts of you and your nasally voice and your lips a baby when you sleep.

“We all try too hard to portray ourselves as greater than perception allows.” Carl’s eyes are a razor whip and for a second I think he’s on to me but then his glance warms and he swans his head up and strokes his neck hair and with a puckish laugh says; ‘Myself included.’ And I’m safe, back to feigning attention back to being drowned in thoughts of your hair and your tiny hands and your nasally voice and I’m choked up because I like Carl, he’s a friend from work and he told me how his best friend made advances on his girlfriend and how his he and his Father’s relationship is strained and I want to be his friend and listen to Carl-ology (even though the hubris it takes to name a spiritual denomination after yourself is nauseating.) but it’s been 7 days since I had me some of you, one week since we shared spit and sweat and secrets, half a fortnight since I heard that shitty little nasally voice.

“This world is a place of fugazi accountability. So many of us chalk this life up to happenstance. No regard for the meaning of existence.” He begins to slow his speaking, as if he believe his thoughts are evading me, as if his speed is blinding. I let him, looking at Carl you’d never think he had this in him. This sort of heady naval gazing is usually reserved for more disheveled looking folk.

He brings up Descartes and its deep but all I want is to be buried deep inside of you.

Buried in you.

6 feet inside you being eaten by earthworms and having my body become a maggot nest. I can’t shake you, not like a dog shakes off water or the way your hips shake into the psyche of your costumers. (Can we not all them costumers, costumers are people who shop at Walgreens for Fritos and chap stick.)

“Our existence is dependent on our perceptions alone Adam.”  He takes a pull for the bottle and he’s speaking fire and I’d moved if I wasn’t so sunk into the couch and drowning in you.

I want to get up and leave but you can’t leave a man with his head so far in the clouds. Maybe clouds work like Rorschach blots. Maybe one day I’ll drive you to the dentist  and your hands will be on my knee and I’ll get sappy and cry looking at your hand, pie crust brown.

Carl brings up his dead mother in a quote to utterly heart blisteringly sad that I won’t paraphrase. Tears well up and I feel bad because I kill my mom off in every story I write.

He says that for 3 months after she died he would her voice, in those nebulous moments after waking up. When the brain is between our conceptualized reality and the infinitude of sleep, he’d hear his mom, call from some sprit province.

I image you doing that hand stand against your wall, I image you holding a baby and looking at me and I’ve never felt further away from anything and it’s gross that sometimes I’m so empty.  It’s gross that I let this black soot fill my lungs.

I watched you cry and dance blind folded one night. Sometimes the weight of all this gets to me.

“There is nothing that can change the past. There is nothing that can change the moment we just had.”  Carl exhaled with clarity and genius and (again) no glibness.

And I knew nothing more important would be said that night. So I left.

(I coulda done better.)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Leprechauns on the back of lions.

Under the patriarchal sun, we grow like...

"Try to forget those memories that make you sick."
Today is (will be) the first day I start to write (to really write, not the half-mad scribbling’s I’ve been doing in that journal I received as a gift with the corny salutation inscribed on the front.) Today my fingers will hover over the key board and scour the letters like an eagle scours the fields for prey.
But first I’ll need some drunken abandon. This lime-a-rita will have to do. With this Lime-a-rita and at least one miller high life (The champagne of beers) and maybe a taste or two of the absinthe I bought my father for Father’s Day, I will write something deeply affecting and legendary but not without a healthy amount of the dark that graces (curses, taints, fucks with.) all my actions. Today, on this most pleasant of Saturday afternoons I will listen to songs sang in muddled falsetto and I will get drunk so that I redden in the face and I will bloviate on this page so righteously that God will ride his Segway down from heaven and give me the keys to his condo.

The lord’s condo, the lord’s yacht, the lord’s timeshare in  Wilmington.

I have just come back from New York from a business trip that took place in the forest.

I still have dirt from New York under my nails and deep in my pores. It was a baptism by mud, and I came back feelingly unjustifiably venerated, and I smell of earth suffused with sweat and star dust.

New York was a spiritually cathartic that put a great deal of money in my wallet.

On my first day back in the city I rode the trains and felt no marvel or fondness toward Chicago, I only felt pulled toward the night and for drink and fast company. I got off the blue line a Damen and Millwalkee and surveyed the mass of the well-dressed yet tragically blue collared denizens of Wicker Park and I remember feeling let down by them, as if I was expecting them to dazzle me, as if I expected them to know I was gone, they didn’t know me yet I knew all of them. (Half broad generalization and half hypothesis based on textured experience.)

That first day I spent 100 dollars at a tavern, both on my own drinks and the drinks of a few friends. We talked about the civil war that festered in Chicago, we talked about how C.P.D is 22,000 applicants in the red, we spoke of dirty dealings and moving west. Then we parted and I got a tattoo for a man who suffered a spine injury from a motorcycle accident. After two hours and 200 dollars I was marked for life.

I spent a lot of money that first day.

Later that week I found myself preparing to head back to New York but this time to the City for a festival that would have been a culmination and liberation of all the years spent behind the glow of my family’s Hewlett-Packard in MySpace groups and forums desperately outstretching a hand for companionship and comradely and maybe a little nookie.  It was going to be a road trip but unforeseen problems arose (We couldn’t rent a car due to bad credit.) and I found myself stuck in Chicago, a town I was rapidly falling out of love with, with a fully packed bag and a pair of eyes set for adventure.

So I immediately trivialized the quest for wholeness by drinking Captain Morgan and taking a nap on my friend’s sofa.
Eventually the house filled with people and I woke up to a room full of energy varying from pensive to sloppy to rotten to errant.(Can you guess which one I was?) I caught sight of the girl who had played muse to my many nights of selfish pontificating and idolization. This girl was short and fair skinned. She wore a mane of curly blonde hair and green eyes that shined like trophy’s, and even now writing about her I am compelled to pour myself another beer and fantasize about her with a sort of mournful exaltation. I’m not sure if it’s the music (Right now I’m listening to The Cure’s Lollapalooza performance and ‘love song’ is playing and I’m slow dancing with my dog.)or the beer or the memory of all the years I have known this girl and wanted this girl that are filling me with the radically burning fire of desire and longing but the truth of the matter is that no matter how good I get at monogamy and chivalry and empathy and all the other qualities relationships with girls deserve I know that this girl will always be able to melt my resolve, atomize my integrity and leave me shaking and confused just like I was 16.

We hug and she tells me I am ‘stupid’ and I analyze her words the way a teenage girl would analyze the ‘xoxo’ in a text message. I kiss her cheek and this is the first time in my 4 years of knowing her my lips press against her flesh. I melt a little bit, and she hops over the puddle that was once Adam Lawson to embrace the night that is still young, and I want to follow but I don’t want to over saturate my presence so I stay in my friends bedroom (He is off on a trip to the casino with a girl I used to know who once asked, with disarming sincerity; ‘Were Vampires real?’)
Eventually a Sudanese girl with a demure squeak of a voice sits on the bed with me and we watched Anime and youtube videos of our favorite live performances. She’s from Iowa and she is the type of girl I describe when I speak of the hidden majesty of the Midwest. She had dark skin and dark hair and a thirst for rum that not even I could match.(That particular night.)

We shared a few beautiful sentiments and we slept (platonically) on a pull out bed in the basement that night.

The party died down and the cats walked across our bodies. We woke up and got beer and talked about things that would have been important if our hearts were present.

As a writer I am very cognizant of my hearts involvement in my words and actions. And looking back on that new morning I realize I was playing the day on the fence, not a hunter, not the hunted, simply existing.
Under eye baggage.

I am beginning to feel guilty and incompetent for not making a point to this writing. So I’ll fast forward…
The Sundanese girl met her Chicago boyfriend at the Bucktown 
festival and I felt abandoned and unloved and began to walk home when I saw the masterpiece that was the blond with the green trophy eyes.

Let me clear things up about her….

All my friends have been following her like loyal fans follow their favorite band for years. We all pine over her beauty. She is a classic like a little black dress, but she hasn’t so much as given any of us the time of day. Although I know she dated Judge Mathis’s son.

This next statement I say with drunken hubris so forgive me if it is inaccurate…

Her actions, this girl, seem to carry a tinge of conscious banality  as if she knows that she is capable of more…
What I mean to say is….I’m not sure she follows her heart.
Anyway, the Sundanese girl leaves and I meet up with green eyes and we drive to one of her friend’s houses,  which turns out to be a mini-mansion in Logan Square and we drink Pinot Grigio and listen to bands with member no younger than 45 and I convince her to sing and I fall in love with her and I ask to run away with her and she tells asks me what can I give her and the first thing I think about saying is ‘my dick’ then I realize I can devote myself to her then I realize I’d get nauseous the way I did with my last lover then it’s too late because she ditches me for the guy who directs Chance the Rappers videos, a skinny twig, hipster scum bag who can’t dance like I can, but I guess they have been ‘intimate’ for longer than I feel comfortable divulging.
So I sit in a stranger’s back yard, with my pallet hot from wine and smoke and the fire from the pit laps at me like my dog does when he licks the dew from our tree.And again I am lonely.

As a writer I spend long stretches of periods alone. Writers are creatures of beauty and buried heartache.

That was the closest I’d ever gotten to green eyes, and when we danced there was a part of her I could feel in my bones. She was exuding soul but I guess my nice polo, pressed jeans, and spirit weren't enough to coerce her into my life.

Her body seemed attainable, as most of body’s are. But her heart seemed to hold this distant seeming majesty, like a mountain too steep to climb.

Now on this Saturday that as crawled past pure white clouds to darker hues, I watch my dad climb a ladder to fiddle with the flower pots he has planted on the deck.
My father is in his 60s, and the ladder wobbles like it has Parkinson’s, if the ladder where to fall I’m not sure my dad would be okay.

My dad is a Vietnam veteran who survived not only a grisly war but a life time of other ordeals, if he died while plating flowers…

I’d have to lie to people. Death by gardening is so gay.
And not ‘gay’ in the ignorant, negative sense, but gay as in same sex sodomy.

I don’t want my Dad to have a gay death.

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