I said that I hate being a writer. I guess I do, but if I wasn’t I guess I would hate the alternative. Being a writer is such a necessity for someone like me that I have the luxury of saying that I hate being a writer. It’s just that when you need to write the most you feel the least graceful. Every word is a glob spit out on the page for you to add to continually. Gracefulness, the ever present aim of writers, is a result of angst, but angst ain’t graceful. Angst is when life sucks, when it seems that just when you get over one thing another starts and you’re tired. You know that no more little tricks are going to get you through. Everything has failed. All your dirty deeds, your sellouts, your utter failures have produced a loser and now you figure that you have to write past them, exorcise them, make them less real. Well, it works most of the time, but you still don’t feel graceful, blissful, the way that you thought that you would feel all of the time when you decided that you finally wanted to become a writer. You become so self absorbed that nothing you say really matters in the way that you thought what you would say would ultimately matter. Your words are dross, but you keep going because you feel that if you don’t keep going then you will go crazy some way and you don’t want that. And you feel that you are totally discovered, found out, by everybody reading you. They all know that you are just fiddling a tune, whacking off, but you don’t ever tell them that and you hope that they are all stupid, that they believe you, that they believe that you have something to say. But you don’t. You’re just trying to get the damned angst out of your body and you’re using the idea of a reader to give you a reason to attempt it at all. But they all know. Everybody knows when they are being used.
I became a dot at 7:32 a.m. I watched the dot enter a rectangle in Tennessee and move slowly across the nation, slowly, through green fields, by stores and lives totally unaffected by Jedediah Jones, but probably not untouched by Moxy Priestess. I watched the dot get off of the rectangle and move through a sea of other dots as if in a maze. The dot bumped and moved, bumped and moved forward, never stopping once to consider its dotness. Slowly the world began to become more real to the dot.
Night fell and the dot entered a large, cement square and disappeared. When the sun arose, the dot went outside of the huge square and joined other moving dots. Moving was good. All the dots agreed. Moving was all anybody had in this city. When the dot became a non-dot was three days later, three days, the same number of days that it took Jesus to climb his way out of hell to get to heaven.
Slit was a fat black man I met in a club called Sizzle in Harlem. He was like a black Michelin tire man. He came at you like he was going to run you over, but he stopped moving in that way when the bartender explained to him that I was the brother of Jed Jones.
“Shiiiiit, you da brotha a ol’ Jed? Don’t you know Jed dead, baby?”
He turned around and said “shiiiiit” again, then laughed, looking at me a little bit as I disappeared inside myself completely, because I believed him for that moment utterly. After watching me looking like this he said, “Now don’t go believin’ everything you hear me say, boy.”
“Well, where is he then?” I asked, mad he was playing with me.
“Jed’s been gone from this neighborhood, three, four years. Dat boy was hittin’ her hard, too. He’d take it any way he could get it. Say he was a rock and roll star, but Jed was nothin but a junkie.”
“You don’t know where he is then?”
Slit lost his humor.
“I told you that, boy, now get the fuck outta here and quit policing me.”
I turned and was almost out the door when Slit spoke.
“555-4298,” he said.
I went to a pay phone just outside the bar and dropped in a quarter and a dime. No answer, busy signal. Everybody on the street was black, but they didn’t notice me. I tried again and stood by the phone for awhile, then again, but it stayed busy. Night was falling. I had to go.
The dot went underground and then came up into night. It found its way back to the huge cement square and didn’t re-appear until daylight.
I called every half hour from the phone in my room that night, but it stayed busy all night long. The next day I tried the number again with no luck. I went back to Sizzle looking for the fat man Slit, but he was gone, and nobody would say how to reach him. When I stepped outside I didn’t care anymore. I had no leads, had been in the city four days and had shit. I roamed and talked to pimps and doper sellers and hookers and musicians and drummers in Washington Square. A few remembered Jed from the record stores. I went back to Sizzle and stood around. I figured since Slit knew him then there might be others in the neighborhood who did too. I walked right up to a black kid standing by an alleyway, obviously waiting to sell some dope or hookers or something. I didn’t care. All the better for what I wanted.
“I want some smack,” I told him.
“I wouldn’t know about dat, man,” he said.
I pulled out my wallet, fat with cash, and flashed it to him. I made sure he saw the knife I kept tight in my belt in case of emergency.
“Well, motha fucka might be talkin the right language to somebody round here. I’m just going my way. Wanna hang out?”
“Sure,” I said.
So I follow him down the street. He saying “hi” to everybody he meets. Whassup. Whassup. Yo. Homeboy. Yo. Whassup, nigger. Whassup. Yo.
Me, a ghost, followed this ghost. The other ghosts passed through each other on the way to nowhere and entered squares and rectangles, making no changes to the walls they passed through by doing so. I walked three floors up some dark, dank, urine- smelling stairs, following the the ghost who had taken to silence and floating. I stayed a good ten feet behind him. I think he respected that opinion, especially knowing I carried a knife that I made damn sure he believed I would use. I didn’t give a fuck. I was going to find Jed.
I’ve always felt bad that I can’t join movements very well. I was raised in a movement like environment; Jesus freaks. We were all supposed to believe in the exact same thing. But there was always this little concept of sin which took place and blew the shit out of everything. So I went and studied mythology to figure out what was bullshit and what wasn’t and when I was done I was supposed to be smart so I taught a class on mythology and on the last day NOBODY showed up. I can imagine them thinking of the money they wasted coming and listening to my sorry ass talk about mythology. I laugh now, but then it wasn’t funny. At least I got to go home early. The trouble is that I thought I was a good teacher. But I also thought that I was too young and subjective and unlearned in the subject to really give it a good college try. I’ve always believed that every level of education is important whether it’s pre school or post doctoral. So when I brumbled my way through that class and failed I reconsidered education. Maybe it’s not so easy to teach people. Then I started thinking that life is pretty futile sometimes. I guess I don’t want to be considered an existentialist because I think that others are thinking that I dwell too much on the “darker” side of existence. But existential”ism” isn’t just that. It is what we are. Who we are. We could love comic books or anchovie pizza and we would be living in the now when we are loving those things, so we should just do what we love. Another way is to just love. If you just love. Consciously make it so that you love life- you will “snap” out of the foggy haze when you need to and be able to laugh like the buddha. Do what you love and to love. Freud’s same conclusion.
If I were to work a job what would it be? I could work in mythology. What if I part-time it in religion? I’ve got a penchant for experimental writers. I could expand markets for magazines that I like. All I have to do is call up the magazines and ask them if they need to hire a local rep. But is this what I truly want to do? I guess in some ways it is. Society cannot nearly keep up with imagination. I have always known this and lived accordingly to often times miserable effect. Being po’ is hard. So, yeah, I’m a magazine representative. “You don’t look like a magazine representative” Yep, that’s me. I’m a magazine representative. “Margaret, you oughtta come out here and look at the magazine representative. You ever seen a magazine representative. Get the kids up. All of em!” So I figure the wife and kids all appear sleepy eyed and look me over and consider what I have become even comprehending slightly that I was or may possibly actually still be human. But that’s what I am. Now I just have to go out and get the job.
I’m seeing dollar signs fly around my head. They make my world spin. They represent something that I never thought they would: safety. I must be in trouble.
Poetry is done for free. Dollars kill poetry signs. Poetry signs kill dollars. It is scientifically proven. Even Ramco Laboratories have done studies on it.
What else can I do? I can drive tourists around.
I Walk proudly through the streets selling _______ Magazine. There are more ramblings to go. Old poetry is dead. New is new. Skimmed tophats brimmed. Welcome to the unctious point of utter bitter resolved end. Your lessons of poetry, word; skipping laws: period, pen. Black ink
need not touch me for you to know that I would make a good employee selling your magazines. I enclose my resume only. I do not fill out applications. However, I will gladly give you any information you may feel the need to know.
Dormus P. Calhoun New Vision Entertainment and Publication Services
We are, by design, corporate creatures. The corporation incorporates all elements together to form one seemingly perfect whole. If only it had more of a conscience mechanism built into it. It is like truly building the perfect beast. We cannot help but program our own psychological problems into technical memory. For this reason New Vision Entertainment and Publication Services consisting of, solely, Dormus P. Calhoun, owner, works only with corporations that understand my desire to remain independent. You’ll see results.
Dormus P. Calhoun Unit Manager, first president, bard, loon, blowhard goon yet owner of New Vision Entertainment and Publication Services.
First thing i’ve got to do is get cards made of new vision. Then i’ve got to send them to all of the movies being made telling them what I can do for them…
Insults are in the punctuation.
Things I can do for the movies:
2. Be a p.a. and act like i’m doing things.
3. Drive their things around in a van, a slightly elevated P.A.
5. Be late.
6. Hate the boss.
7. Hate myself for my rotten life.
8. Come around.
9. Rethink the whole thing.
We laid down Anna Belle today for good. Mary cried, but she didn’t do all the things I thought she might. Then we carted her little casket over to the cemetery and placed it in a hole. Mary cried a little bit there, too, but still she didn’t do nothing drastic. Like I wrote before, Mary had taken immediately to talking strangely about the event, of how Anna Belle walked outside and why. She blamed the Densmore sisters down the hill for causing Anna Belle to leave the house at night since one day Anna Belle walked down the road and ended up in their kitchen. She was only four. That was last year. The sisters brought her right back, but first they cleaned her up a little and put something on a little rash she’d developed from poison oak along the way. The night before last Mary walked down to the Densmore house and took all her clothes off and started screaming “Witches Witches Witches.” The ladies didn’t come out. I heard her when she changed her chant to high pitched screams. I ran as fast as I could to the Densmore place and I grabbed my wife and put a gag around her mouth, but she bit it off and started screaming “witches” again. I had no choice but to strike my own wife. She went soft like a rag and I carried her home. One of the Densmore sisters came out and asked if there was anything she could do and I said no and apologized. The other one was afraid beyond all explanation of fear is what that one sister told me, because that other sister was very superstitious and said prayers to trees and the sky and maybe she thought that she’d made the universe mad enough about something that It had lain a spell upon my daughter and caused her to do what she did. I thanked the one sister for her help and told her that I didn’t think any kind of hocus pocus was strong enough to cause a girl to lose her life like my Anna Belle did. So I took Mary home, but nobody will ever know if Anna Belle was walking to the sisters’ house.
It doesn’t matter much anymore. The doctor gave Mary something and she’s sleeping peacefully now, but I’m not sure what it is that ‘s going to take place in her head in the next few months. I’m overwhelmed right now and searching for answers from God. Mary told me yesterday that she doesn’t believe in God anymore and I told her she was foolish for thinking that, but, deep down, I wondered myself, and I got me out a bottle of whiskey and sat there by myself and wondered and wondered and wondered. I’m still wondering tonight. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get an answer. I don’t know. I gotta quit. I hear Mary stirring.
It wasn’t nothing. Mary’s sleeping sound, but I don’t remember where I was going. I know it had to do with Anna Belle and Mary. We might have to quit this mountain. Since the war everything has gone to hell. I still got a little bit of money, but I told the doctor about how Mary’s been acting and he said it don’t sound good. He said I should keep an eye on her and if it looks like she’s addled that I should call him. Mary’s addled for sure. I know that. You just don’t know what’s going on inside of her head anymore. I guess she loved Anna Belle more than even I knew, but love don’t explain why someone would want to go and give up their own life when one life’s been lost already. I guess she depended on Anna Belle. Hell, I did too, but I don’t want to go taking off my clothes and running naked down the road to the Densmore sisters’ house. That’s not right. If anything at all the only thing that’s changed with me since Anna Belle died is that I drink a little bit more than I used to. It helps take the pain away. I’ve had too much pain. I don’t want any more pain. Pain hurts.
That’s five drinks so far. Got a good number more left in this bottle. It’s kind of better to be lost like this than to have to think about my life. I’m sleepy though. Goodnight for now, journal.
I breathed out again and laughed quietly to myself. “Here, put this under your head and lie down.” I grabbed the box of Twinkies and gently guided this simple giant to the ground by placing my hand upon his shoulder. Just as he lay down I quickly put the box under his head and was relieved when he stayed there. He was really quite manageable except for when it came to the baby birds and the mountain. He looked up at me sideways as I went back to my spot up against the side of the rock. “Yeah, life’s not fair. You work and work and work and work and then they pull the rug out from under you because you believe in love. Love! Hah! If you believe in love in this world you’re dumped to the bottom of the pile, stepped on, flushed. That’s me, flushed. I mean look at me, I’m 29 years old, college educated, I’m even handsome. Look at this mug! This mug is meant to go places and I was, I was, until my line went just this side of the box and wham! Boom! You’re gone. You’re history. Go count change, Evan. That’s all you’re good for. Make sure the quarters don’t fall on the floor. Make sure the bags are tied up all tight and if you’re good we’ll let you stay here until you’re an old man then we’ll put you in a bag and tie it up with a tie and take you away too. It’s everything you could ever want and you’ve only got Thaddeus L. DuBuque Tooo to thank, bless the man. God bless his holy highness!”
The Man had lifted his head up when I went Boom! But I calmed him down with my hand and he lowered his head back down. He was obviously very tired and would be asleep soon, but I wasn’t sleepy at all. I shook my head. I could feel another wave coming on. “I’m a good person. I’m one of those people who can believe in doing good and work hard for a corporation. You know, it seems like anybody who cares anymore is suspect. If you don’t become a goddamned machine for these people you’re a squeaky wheel. They want your complete soul. Everything. It’s like you’re a coloring book picture.” I felt crazy. “That’s what you’re like, but the white parts of the thing, the part that hasn’t been colored in yet is the real thing and the part that you let be colored is what they want you to be. They’re doing the coloring. You’re not. You just sit there and let them color you in. If you think they’re good at coloring, if it seems it will be worth it, you just sit there and let them do it, yet you know that you’re still the outline, that even though they color you in, make you what they want you to be for the sake of their business, you are not really those colors. You know that you have already been colored in, completely different colors, already colored in by yourself and your parents and your surroundings and everything, what you believe, what you love, but for the sake of the team you let them color you the way they want and when you step out the door of the office you automatically revert to who you really are. I mixed these two things together. Do you see? I showed my true colors to the current colorer and look what became of me. I’m sitting in the desert looking for baby birds, geez, I must be crazy.”
The man suddenly sat up.
“Babybirds,” he said.
For the first time he truly smiled and it was a smile that disarmed me. It was huge and awkward and real and unless I was mistaken actually sympathetic. For the first time I let it get through that there really was more to life than the Arabian. I just didn’t know what it was yet.
“Yeah, baby birds. Now go to sleep. Go on.” This time he placed himself down and I, for the life of me, couldn’t remember what it was that I had been thinking about.
There are people reserved for the people who come to the place where they can’t take another step. Moxy is one of those people. So is Albert. Me and my mama are those people, I guess, for people who are truly those people, me for Moxy, mama for Albert. Me for Albert, too, I guess. I guess when you think about what a family is and what it’s for there is no one person designated for any other. You’re all thrown in together like some family stew. If one dream you have concerns one particular family member you can rest assured that you’ll have another one about a different one. I think that’s where Albert is wrong with his rock opera. He thinks that one person deserves all the glory for having loved- Diana. But that’s not true at all if you look at Diana’s family. Look at William and Harry. These are two lovable kids. Each one of them deserves a rock opera too, but Albert only wrote one and I’m not about to make him write another one for William and another one after that for Harry. Knowing Albert’s salvation complex he would probably try to do it too.
Starting off on this journey of an account of my life I thought the power behind my story would go on forever, but I’m just about out of words to describe a story that doesn’t have much of a plot. I can’t trace the places that I’ve been because like I said those fifteen years are just as good as gone for me. I don’t want to dwell on them because they went by without me really there except in some strange, dream-like way. I’m not bitter at myself for having done what I’ve done, but I am a little bit disturbed over the time I’ve wasted. If it could have been possible that I would have met Moxy and had Minnie fifteen years ago I would have done it, would have stayed at the supermarket like Albert did. But I can’t go on thinking like that. Lost years can’t be made up. If I miss the story that was never written about them I can’t cry. I’ve got a story that is just as good, but sadder concerning where I went. Mine is a history of the needle.
But if this is such a history then I must use the language of mythology to describe it. As my mind wanders over the people in my pantheon I divine the depths of my drug addicted sorrow only from what they have to say to me now. If I were to go back to some of the faces that I stared at while high and let them be my storytellers then I would just as soon as die. For I’m away from there now. I don’t play rock and roll anymore except occasionally and for what I’m doing for Albert. I’m not mad at it. I’m not bitter that it took me into dope harder than I’d ever thought I could go when I first started experimenting. But I’m not one out to gather pain. No reason could there be for me to recount the scum that I became to you, to purge something in my soul as though my families prayers had not been enough.
So let me tell you more about my family. I know there’s no real story here, but I think there’s some meaning that could get through, something that might relate a thought to you that will remind you of a story that will take the place of my inability to remember things well about how things happened, their order in the universe and all that. You do that. I will concentrate now on what I want to, namely, the look in Minnie’s eye the other day when she got so mad at me for lying to her. We were talking about heaven. I don’t know why. Minnie said to me,”Daddy, if angels ain’t got no wings like Albert says, then how come they can fly?” I wasn’t sure if this was a Minnieism or not. I thought about it, wondered what it was exactly that Albert told my child, gathered that it went much deeper than I could ever imagine therefore giving Minnie the upper hand already. I thought about calling Moxy in, but Moxy would have been in the same boat I was if she chose to be. She wouldn’t. I take everything that Minnie says as important and it’s not because I’m a new age dad either. I just do. So I sat there with the girl on the ground where she played with her little toy of sticks of some sort out on the sand and I thought about it. I thought about it. I thought about it. And I thought about it. Then I said, “Angels are spirits, baby, they fly because God didn’t give them a body like you or I got.” Minnie says, “Then they don’t fly. They more kind of float.” I say, “Okay.” Then she looks at me, looks me in the eye real hard the way she does and she twists up her face and puts her little wrist on her thigh, the palm facing up. She’s suddenly this little Marilyn Monroe but with an attitude much saltier. She looks at me and says, “Daddy, you never seen God have you?” I said, “No.” She says, “Albert has.” Now I’d thought a lot about God by then. I thought I’d seen him a couple times too, I mean, really seen him. I knew I shouldn’t have taken it on, the challenge of showing my little girl the truth as I know it, but I was tired by then of being a hero and I thought that maybe some day my daughter would love me more for not being one by, at least, attempting to tell her the truth even if it wasn’t within my power to do so. So I thought about Albert and what he might have said, again. I thought of my brother Albert, working in the market, writing his stories now that I’ve taken on the work of doing his music for Petals and waiting for me to finish. And I thought that if I never finished he would keep waiting for me as long as I promised that I would finish. Taking into account this and the fact he came for me and the fact that, well, somehow, the fact that Minnie’d seen Teardrop lowered into the ground and I had yet to understand completely the look on her face as we done it to her. Taking all this into account, I thought the best thing to say to my baby was that I’d seen God and God’s angels all have wings and even though I didn’t lie, that they are spirit, spirit is just a powerful as flesh when it comes to being real. So, yes, I told her. Angels fly on wings of spirit, flapping away, making sure little kids don’t fall off mountains. But I shouldn’t a told her that. “Annnabelle fell off the mountain,” she said. “I know, baby.” And she didn’t say anything to me, but she looked down and away the way you don’t want your baby to look ever because it seems like her mind is too close to a truth and inwardly she might be dying a little bit or, maybe worse, growing up which is, I guess, both.
I don’t think she was angry at me, but she didn’t want to play anymore so I went into the house and talked to Moxy. Moxy was always busy doing this or that. She still had dealings in New York. She was a producer now and sometimes when she could get me to we’d go into town and to Vincennes Pizza and they’d let us set up and she’d sing and I’d play and a guy named Rick would play the drums for us and a kid named Ian would play bass and we had a little band and we’d draw a crowd without any advertising except for Albert who was good enough to be his own public relations firm if he chose to be, because, I guess, people remember Moxy Priestess. And now and then someone comes up to me and shakes my hand and looks me in the eye, usually someone about my own age who played guitar once. I never deny a soul an autograph. Somehow its like denying them a breath. I know that sounds egotistical, but you don’t want to say no to someone whose heart is still beating. It’s like saying no to the idea of their heart beating and since mine almost stopped a couple of times I respect it just like I respect Minnie’s looking away, there being that something in her head that made her think of something, know something, rather, even though I didn’t want her to.
So disembodied yet so appropo. Post everything but now. There could be no post post now for there would always be post post post. Not allowing victory to even merely exist was not as thorough a victory as believed before, that is, when victory on a somewhat naive level was still believed in and lived through.
The dream was always to create the story outside of the story’s knowledge while remaining inside the story’s core. The dream was to sidestep each new passing word to get away from having to be “nailed down.” Acrobats all yet all were fooled by fools for no act of acrobatics, no swerving aside, no soul-looking down-looking away-looking otherwards, could take the post post modern to post post post modern without allowing the entering of the fourth then the fifth etc. etc. etc.
We fight, for lack of a better word, for the better word, because we were taught to by those who were taught to by those who were taught to because some before them could not simply do. The rest of us deem it insane and leave it. The good children wear black and move to new york and never disobey unto death. There will be some great comparison someday we are all so sure about that. Those who know and those who know. All will line up and each will bat an eyelid in a certain way and the other will move a finger just right and one will say to who? God? Ourselves (Capital O)? What? We don’t know. For then we are dead. But we’re not. We’re not! We’re not.
We were called slackers. We were called generation X. Some of us were called Baby Boomers and some of us are simply old now. Was it, after all is said and done, merely insanity? Was the desire to create something new we felt as children a biological necessity that refused to allow our lesser aspects, our minds namely, to have any inkling of? What of the wasted years? What of the pages torn, the words strewn about computer landscapes to no avail, pitiful responses from the leaders of the pack who only know what will sell, who don’t know any longer their own reasons for living, for creating, for being, in a way resounding of non-being, simply to know what it may be like? What then of the hoardes who hold our consciousness captive in books the likes of which will never see our names. Why no socialism of publishing?
Because we do not warrant such gifts of life, such easy planes upon which to sail into better knowledge of ourselves which provide smooth gaits down placid avenues at dusk where light lingers yellow downward upon us like in movie screens where angels of light linger as well but are light and because we are too young to know know in our knowing place that angels contain light, are light, and yet why can’t we? Why can’t we?
Where are the rescuers? We all know that Dante’s Inferno is a metaphor for the deeper recesses of the mind. Our hells are inside of our heads. Whether or not any of it has actual place other than inside creative representation is anybody’s guess. In mythology they recommend that when in the land of the dead please do not stop and help the wretched souls which may cry out to you and, of course, have a nice day. We scream for aid us here in the purple seas where fires boil our knees as our hands red and peeling reach for the only sight we have ever seen. We are the magicians of gore soulical.We are the torch bringers, the lappers of flame, the underwater scarecrows floating like bubbles up to you to be known, to be lifted out of this place and set aloft.
In mythology when things got really bad for a particular person a god would often raise that person into godhood his or her self. That’s what we’re like when we want to be published. At times, those of us who know that much of our writing impetus was spawned originally by mirely muck, lucklessness, downward grins, black nails, quiet lunches alone staring at nothing in particular, deem it necessary to continue our quest for the non-dying of the light. As students we often lay on our beds prostrate in utter dread without even knowing it, for death is symbolic of all that is wrong with our lives and we non-students of mythology are never quite made quite aware of quite the way we should quite handle this quite unseemly and unsettling knowledge quite other than in our veins so that we may become upstanding and, hopefully, quite overly-employed American citizens.
But some of us don’t know how to be this. We don’t know, have never known, how to “join in.” Luckily, we are not in power and since we are the weak link we tend to die off quicker than most. Sometimes, one or two of us is shown appreciation for our intense and seemingly accidental relationship with the darker aspects of, say, (oh, why not) personality. When this happens the rest of us light up like the Fifth Dimension going way up high on their beautiful balloon. But then we come down because we realize it was all just a cruel joke. Every now and then the others who are born with the ability to count numbers, to care in ways useful, throw us a bone because they recognize our humanity. Unfortunately, those bones usually are thrown to those of us creative, darker types who have died of our personal maladies. The Kurt Cobains. The Marilyn Monroes. Do you see just thinking about this how much bullshit is actually inside of us? We are the post moderns. We’ve pushed creativity to its very limits. We’ve accepted that our lives are more important if they can become symbolic. Yet the world has grown so large that we are beginning to recognize that we will die unnoticed and without meaning anyway. Even if we do all the right things artistic. No apologies necessary for rushing here, but there needs to come an end to these words unless somebody takes notice of them soon. For without my reflection I am but a vampire, and being the non- vampire sort of guy I am, simply non-existent and the world being what it is, so quick to withhold pity anymore except for those with the physical type of ailment, I deem it necessary to do what you would have me do anyway: transform.
But if I do this you lose. Better to kill more of the light than to have to take it upon yourself, to add it to your own store of light and thus lose yourself. It is the river that I have almost drowned in, the river that, if I can survive, will have taught me something that you will never know for fear of the overflowing.
10 wrecking ball, anus freeze, Tom’s boy. Breathe.
9 ain’t seen Jed for awhile, bullet or shot?, in or out?, dead or alive?
8 ain’t seen. That’s three thoughts since I shot. In or out?
7 glad I got here. Glad when I wake up I can still see. Don’t want any more pain. In or out? They say when your daddy is a good man he don’t die he just goes to heaven. Getting heavy to believe in angels. Down corridors now. Angels go wherever they want to go. Go. Can’t spell oxy’s name anymore. Oxy. No more M. M’s disappear. Never rely on an M to stay in a name cuz they’re like flying carpets m’s.
6 ain’t. Fives ain’t fours nor threes nor twos nor ones nor negative ones, nor negative twos nor negative threes nor negative fours nor negative fives.
5 thoughts. Six. Breathe in and out with tongue slipping out touching air like some snake dying. With tongue slipping out like some snake dying to its own way of doing. Like some snake dying to its own way of not having arms, of not having heart or soul, of having only cold blood. No fours. Could magic carpets really be eyelids that fall down with death?
2 Albert and mama. Millsville, Tennessee. The Lady. Forgot the o. xy. No mo Mo. Only xy. I gotta go.
Jed! Jed! Jed, you hear me? Jed! It’s Isabella, baby. Jed? It’s The Lady. Feel me. How soft The Lady is. Jed!
Jed! Goddamn you, Jed! Darryl, Jed’s leaving!
Get out of my way, Daryl.
Man, don’t do this to yourself, Jed.
Get out of my way, man.
Darryl, stop him!
I’m sorry, man. I’m sorry.
You son of a shit. Darryl, you shouldn’t be touching me.
Darryl, what are you doing! Stop playing with him!
Lady, he can fight!
Don’t let him go! Jed! No!
Sorry about that, Lady. He’ll be alright. I just planted it between his eyes. I’m trained. I’m trained. I gotta go. MO!
I haven’t talked a lot about my mom. Mama said when we were kids that, well, when I was a kid, Albert wasn’t around then, that I would grow up to be a big strong man like my father. Only trouble was that my father died when I was ten. Did I mention a man took a gun to my dad because my dad didn’t like people picking on women. So my dad was a big strong man, but he got killed for it. I didn’t know what to do about some guy picking on my dad, killing him. When Albert was born just before my dad died I promised nobody would ever hurt that kid. And I promised that nobody would ever hurt my mama and I promised that nobody would ever hurt me. Turns out I hurt all of them myself eventually. That’s what growing up means, learning that you’re often times your own worst enemy.
But this philosophy of being the man in the house only made me mean. It also made me pick up my father’s guitar so I’d have some sort of peace in my head. Then it made me start drinking booze with the other junior high kids, then weed, then speed, then coke, then heroin. Then something like fifteen years went by and it all just became a matter of picking up the pieces.
I don’t know where to go when I talk about that period, the heroin years. I don’t feel like using metaphors for something so real. My mind goes back to Teardrop trying to make it up the mountain. Teardrop knew. It’s like looking at the place where you know isn’t there anymore, like a house that you grew up in that burned down. It’s like being non-existent to yourself. It’s like slowed time. It’s like using your nerve-endings as soul when all you’ve got is heart left anymore. It’s the look in my mule’s eye when he turns around and questions whether or not there is a God at all, but he knows that he’s got to keep moving forward. It’s like a single teardrop falling into the sea.
But this same philosophy made me a tiger, too. It gave me something that I still wouldn’t trade away for anything in the world except for pure unadulterated love. It made me what I am today, a man who survived. The same thing that almost killed me, the same trick of fate which seemingly was put forth by the very hand of God, the killing of my father, was the thing that I took with me so that I would survive the killing hand of fate. To blame me for running scared my whole life is unfair. Show me a man who doesn’t and isn’t running scared in some way as we speak and I’ll show you a man who isn’t a whit afraid of death and dying. That’s a hard man, but it’s a true man if he’s still got the skin on his face. He’s lying, of course. We’re all afraid of the big black hole where God may or may not be living. We’re afraid because we’re afraid of the unknown. So it’s true what Minnie says about hamster cages. I just wish I’d been able to come up with that one myself. You got to make due with what you got. If you live in a hamster cage, you gotta make it the most comfortable hamster cage you can or else you’ll go down like I went down, alone and afraid, into the bottom of the cage under all that straw and never come up again like I didn’t think I ever would. I was even burrowing away from Moxy after awhile, but then Minnie came on the scene and I just felt stupid, felt like a hamster, like a ratty old hamster with a baby and Moxy all clean cause she’s licked herself every day knowing why she was put on the earth and Minnie all red and meowie and meepie like a baby is and then Moxy coming over to me and helping me to stand up so I could help her care for the baby, then Albert coming along like God sent him, literally like God sent him, which might just be the case, I don’t know, and me coming home with my baby and giving her over to mama like it was the only thing I knew I could hand to her that would allow her to forgive me for shooting up in front of her when I was seventeen and dead on my feet and hating the sight of anything that reminded me of the fact that some bastard killed my dad and left me to be the man, a job I just wasn’t cut out for and I proved it. Minnie did all that for me and now I’m just proud and humble at the same time working on Albert’s rock opera like I wish I was writer enough to have written but aren’t.
It seems like I should give a little bit about the history of Annabelle Mountain. The people who lived here first were the _____ Indians, of course. But since I’m no story teller I’ll tell you only what I know. It got its name from a man who’d lost everything ultimately in a bad business dealing during the Civil War, Henry Mills. There was no real sense of who he was by anybody around here. He didn’t seem to have any heroic qualities that I can tell, but he did once own half of the county. The story goes that his wife Mary and his daughter Annabelle lived on a hill not nearly so far up as we did and one day Annabelle, only about five or six, not much older if at all older than Minnie, walked outside one night and ended up lying on top of boulder dead. Nobody knows how she got out or why she went. After that the man supposedly spent all of his time looking for reasons that weren’t there until it made his wife go crazy and he had to put her in a sanitarium. It was about then that he lost all his land, mostly in poker games and some say died a drunk sitting at a bar in Millsville that he used to be part owner of. As far as history goes that’s all I know about Annabelle Mountain.
I like to think there is something of Annabelle’s spirit still on the mountain and when I think about how Teardrop made it up the hill I tend to think that maybe Annabelle helped him out a little bit, was there with a helping hand, was a night wind that blew warm for just that second that would allow Teardrop to stop shivering, was a rough patch of rock instead of slick mossy one that allowed Teardrop to gain that next step that he eventually did or else he never would have made it home. So I thank that little girl for the blessing of Teardrop’s return and I like to think that if someday Minnie takes a walk she’ll be there for her too.
We’re lucky, we can afford to keep Minnie at home with us. Sometimes I think it unfair that the biggest screw ups in life sometimes become the richest. While I was shooting my portion of rock and roll earnings into my veins, Helen Capowitz was stuffing hers into the same bank that her parents The Capowitz’s of Stony Brook, Long Island did business through. Moxy bought the house on Annabelle Mountain. I haven’t felt like working for over ten years. It sort of boggles my mind and makes me feel like a loser. Mmmmm. But I’ve got Albert’s rock opera on my lap right now and every time I see it I think about the music that I used to play. It’s funny, but the music in my head is coming back to me, but it’s not pressing me, not killing me like it used to, not making me need to understand it, to decipher it so that I need to go out and have a shot so I can just get it all first hand. First hand heaven which eventually became my first hand hell. How can I hate the world anymore or rant at it when the author is my brother and all that I had foisted on him was a need for more love since not only did his father leave, but so did his brother. I made Albert an only child.
Let me quote directly from the play. This is Trevor Rees-Jones, the only one in the car to survive the wreck: “I think Diana would want us to love. Love. Love everybody. Everybody. Love Everybody. Love. Everybody love. Love. Can’t we just do that now, at least, for her? We must to make it through the storm…”
A friend of mine who I knew a long time ago in L.A. who was of the Bahai faith told me that all you need is one scripture to last you through a lifetime. That thing that Albert wrote seemed to me to be a scripture. It was enough to last me a lifetime since I’d spent a lifetime already not doing it. So I took it on. It’s not easy. Albert expects a lot from me and I’m not sure I’ve got what it takes. I’m no classical musician, I’m just a rocker, but that’s what he really wants. He wants a rocker with heart, but even more, a rocker with soul because he wants to play the role of Trevor Rees-Jones himself and at the end of the play when Diana is dead and Dodi is dead and Henri is on top of his flying saucer all whacked out like I was on dope, he wants to sit there in a wheelchair in the mayhem of lights and lasers and smoke and God personified and cry like a baby. I think just the thought is admirable enough for me to say yes to the play.
We’ve decided we’re going to self-educate Minnie, at least for a few years. Moxy takes her into town and she’s decided to join the local Methodist church so Minnie will have little friends. Moxy doesn’t care if Minnie becomes Methodist or Jewish or Muslim or Gay. Moxy already knows the kind of person that Minnie will become and that is simply this: a woman with heart and soul, the kind of person Albert wants to compose the music for his play and the kind of person that he’s forcing me to become by doing it. I never thought I’d be working for my brother though. Yet I owe it to him. I think I’ve already said that.