Friday, February 12, 2010

Surfside Resort

This approaches the level of magnification that I need to be satisfied with this story. It's really all about me letting loose. I think I've got the right voice and the ideas and the setting but to expose this kind of insanity isn't coming as easy as it should. This is exactly how my journals from 1995 look like, an endless string of moralistic theorems. I probably spent three years writing about the rationalization of vegetarianism. So it should be easy to just translate that into third person, right? Well, tell that to my fingers. It's a matter of focus...of unlocking a private perspective. It's not a dark place for me even though it appears like a dark place. Visiting this place is like going home, completing a long as the circle has no gaps. I've heard writing compared to duck hunting, where you wait and wait and wait and suddenly a duck appears and you have to act fast. But the ducks are ideas created by the writer's mind. So it's conceivable that the ducks are always there but were aren't seeing them. There are ducks outside my window right now. Fly ducks! Fly!

Oggy limped up the rotting steps of Surfside Resort, dislodging wood and rusted steel onto the pavement below. A woman stood on a balcony across the parking lot yelling at a shrunken figure in a bathrobe.
“Take your goddamn mitts off me. Oh, you’re fucking disgusting. You pig!”
Bathrobe tossed a cigarette over the balcony. Oggy watched it land and made a mental note to pick it up when he was leaving. He considered going to fetch it at once but since he was already half way up the stairs he thought the extra expenditure of energy was not warranted. The cigarette butt was likely to still be there when he left, so it was reasonably justified to continue in the direction he was going and then when he was leaving he could pick the butt up…along with the aluminum can that Bathrobe just tossed at the woman. Still, if a seagull did pass this way and thought the butt was a worm then that carcass would be on Oggy’s hands. As soon as he recognized the butt was on the ground and that no one else was going to pick it up then he be became responsible for it. And one single cigarette butt in the ocean could choke a sea turtle or clog the gills of a fish. Birds were often attracted to them and it was common to find a fist full of cigarette butts in a seagull’s belly when it washed ashore. The storm drains all had blue stencils saying “Drains to Sea”. It’s message was clear and Oggy was an unofficial steward of the sea. Calculating that he would only stay a few minutes and then scanning the grey sky for seagulls (seeing none) Oggy decided he would risk leaving the cigarette butt on the ground, continue with his business, and collect trash in the parking lot on his way to the food not bombs meal. Ignoring the screams of the woman and the various projectiles launched by bathrobe, Oggy pulled himself up the stairs like a mountaineer climbing a summit with the help of fixed ropes. He found room number 22 and knocked softly.
“I’m calling the police!” yelled the woman at Bathrobe. Bathrobe put a lamp down as Mary opened the door wearing a flannel bathrobe with printed ducks.
“Oh, hey baby! You wanna get high?”
Mary presented a syringe and vial, toothlessly grinning a pink maw. She scratched her crotch.
“We’re just about to get fucked up. Are they fighting again?” she said as she squinted in the direction the balcony. “Fuckers”
Oggy shook his head and looked for Isabelle. He tried to smile but his eyes didn’t get the message so his expression gave Mary the idea he had just been stabbed in the back.
“You alright, baby? You want some pills or something? Whiskey? I know there ain’t nothing like some whiskey and Vicadin. We got some. Knock you out.”
“It’s just my foot,” said Oggy. “Can I sit down?” He scratched his beard.
“The rainwater didn’t help? I knew a guy in Cleveland who cut his own foot off. Fucked him all up. Hahahaha.” Mary belched. “Excuse me. We got some bologna and shit.”
“Maybe it helped a little. It’s a puzzle but there’s a lesson here too. Abe told me not to depend on my body. It’s flesh and blood and subject to the wrath of the elements. Life is suffering, says the Buddha. We’re working on balancing my level of reaction because balanced action is what is most lacking in the universe. Right?”
“Aw, get in here, Oggy. You sit down in that chair and I’ll fix you a whiskey and soda. You want rocks? How you like it?”
Oggy chuckled. The mere mention of such a spiritual betrayal was ludicrous. He would sooner burn rubber tires to keep warm than drink alcohol.
“Thank you, but I brought rainwater,” he said gesturing with his cracked and leaking plastic water bottle. “I’ll just wait for Isabelle to get back.”
“Oh, she’s here. She’s in the shower. Why don’t you go in there and wash her back. I know you two ain’t alone enough. Go on, ball her in the shower. She needs a good screw, that girl. Me and Steve already did. It’s fun as fuck. Wet and wild, huh, Steve?”
Only then did Oggy notice that Steve lay among the piles of nylon blanket covers, empty beer cases, magazines and pizza boxes that had collected on the bed. Steve moaned incoherently and raised a beer can. A talk show was blaring on the television. Two heavy set men were wrestling on a stage while a crowd cheered. Oggy’s mouth gaped open and he frowned.
“Why doesn’t someone help that man?”
Steve said, “Just don’t get her pregnant, Oggy. Fucking Christ, that’s all we need.”
"How about it?" asked Mary.
“I…,” Oggy began but found himself at a loss for words broad enough to respond to Mary’s suggestion. “I’m good.”
“Ya need a shower, Oggy. I can smell you from here. Not to tell you what to do”
Oggy nodded slowly. It was natural to be repulsed by his odor. He washed often enough but washing his clothes had proved difficult ever since his life had been thrown into chaos. Chaos! There was that word again! A single event like having his home destroyed should never have been enough to derail his quest for purity and peace. What was going wrong? Before losing his hut he had regularly washed his clothes in the river or the park water fountain. That worked for months but ever since reentering civilization he had adopted the filthy habits of the common street person and wasn’t washing his clothes. So they were stiff with sweat and caked soup and rotting bits of fruit stashed in the pockets of his overalls. They naturally reeked.
“Go soap up your ass. Get some shampoo in that natty dreadlock of yours. How about it?”
Oggy pondered the soap, bleach-based, chemical, and pictured liquid death streaming toward the sea turtles in the ocean. This was the kind of thoughtless, reckless behavior that had brought the environment to a state of complete upheaval.
“No. I’ve renounced soap.” Oggy said simply. “It’s poisoning the world.”
“Whatever. I’m not gonna tell you what to do. Here.”
Mary handed Oggy a glass of whiskey and ice. Oggy placed it next to an empty pack of cigarettes on the night table. The pack fell on the floor and when Oggy bent over to pick it up he saw a machete under the bed. His lower back spasmed.
"Ow!" cried Oggy.
Mary leaped across the room and grabbed an open prescription bottle.
"That's it! Oggy, take two of these pills. You gotta take care of yourself." She handed Oggy the pills and then did a slithering shimmy of a dance, running her hands into her hair so her bathrobe opened.
Oggy blushed and dropped the blue pills on the nightstand. He opened his notepad and wrote, "Pick up cigarette butt on the way to FNB."
Mary moaned, "It'll make you feel like dancing! Sheeet"
Steve yelled, "You're blocking the T.V.! Woman!"
Isabelle opened the bathroom door, her face and neck were red from hot water. She hugged a towel around scrubbed body.
Mary bounced over to her and laughed, "Dance with me, darling."

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.