Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's time to get serious....just kidding

I've got a Jackson Browne/Pretenders mix going right now and a glass full of vodka and orange juice. Is it tomorrow yet?
Too much John Updike is the excuse of the day. The man never ceases to abuse me. A particular fable manifested today as I lapsed between awake and dreaming. Last night I had a dream I gave myself fellatio. I awoke with an erection that wouldn't quit. I reflected on this through the day as I tore up carpet and threw a plate glass cash wrap top into a pile of trash. Our foreman (A Ranger who jumped out of a plane and broke both legs, folded them backwards, then got shot in the chest in Desert Storm I) told jokes, "There's a semi on I-80 with a 40 ton chunk of coal."
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On and on as we knelt in wet carpet (to loosen the glue) and tugged at it. We threw away a $1000 track lighting system. The guy I was with practiced jump shots into the trash can with the expensive bulbs. Working one minute and in a pile of trash the next. He talked on his cell phone the whole time with a hands free ear plug.
"Baby, we gotta go through this again? Baby, hold on, no you hold on. That's what I'm saying."
22 with two kids. His pants falling down his ass, talking and texting the entire time we are at work. Just a useless waste of money trying to buy some cigarettes and feed his kids.

I bathe in these jokes, they soothe me after the baptism Updike has scorched me with. I earned a few jokes after old Rabbit stands on a hillside looking for his illegitimate daughter (long legs, broad face, dumb but trying to dress smart).

But the point is...I had a joke to tell Dan, a joke we both would've laughed at years ago driving in circles to eat french fries. The joke is that Rabbit's wife, Janice, was drinking vodka and was alone with the new born Rebecca, their second child. Rabbit was shacked up with Ruth across town (fucking into life the girl he later watches from the hill) and Janice's mother is coming over to help and she tries to give the baby a bath and leaves the water running a little long. Don't read any more if you don't want the surprise ruined. She leaves the water running and her bath robe is one of those long clumsy things with the big sleeves and when she turns it off it is too hot so she adds some cold water and...yep, she gets a little clumsy (from the vodka) and drops the baby into the water...just for a second but the baby goes to the bottom. She reaches in but the sleeves and the vodka screw her coordination up and the baby stays there breathing water for a moment and she pulls it out and it isn't breathing. Oh, yes. But the sleeves. The vodka. The bathrobe opening on her pale thighs. All this was there and I cried at it. (I read this in the Laconia group home) Ah, life, so fucking fragile and terrible and wonderful. You crawl down the bloody tunnel and are the mercy of vultures. But the details I would describe to Dan could not be mentioned now. Who can listen to these terrible things? Now as Dan has a baby a bit older than Rebecca? It's not funny. But the way we used to talk about Mailer's details and Kerouac's and even Salinger way back in the beginning. How can I go into that realm again?
The grief is now too close to his real life. So many babies to accidentally drown. The detail of the water soaked sleeves is what I imagine when I am dreamless and staring at the ceiling.
So I keep it to myself and go to work in the Kittery dawn, ducks sleeping on the ice skimmed stream, clear air, crisp but spring crisp with two others in my car talking of club shows and trading sub penny stocks.
"Coulda made a hundred dollars. But I was in jail."
Later I walk by them and hear, "Fifteen minutes after meeting her we were fucking on the couch..."
Updike's prophecy was correct, "The world keeps ending but people keep showing up too dumb to know it."

And email flirting from an attic in Portsmouth? That's what it's come to? What would Rabbit think? Ah, the balcony overlooks a middle America street with flumes belching smoke, basketballs in the front yard, wet from the rain, a boy bicycles down the street, aiming for ponds, motorcycles are being tuned up. The storms come and throw down the weak trees and fill up the lowest basements, wrecking those photo albums that were carelessly placed in low boxes. These memories fade and are replaced like men at a crowded bar. I was with Cristos and remembered the trip to Florida came after I bought Poncho, my 1981 Datsun 200sx. I only took possession of it after I came back and Vance wanted to unload it. I had forgotten about that and the world still turned. But can you let these memories go? How can I betray them? That was 1991/92. Almost 20 years ago...lingering in my memory, "Caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender..." sings Browne. How do you get art like that without 20 year old memories stored in flash drives? And I had lost it for a moment because I was so focused on living. Is that selfish? I felt like I had caught the baby in the bath, and for a second Rebecca breathed again. That was close...

I'm not over analyzing these dry moments but I do possess them and protect them from the repo man of dreams. Because if what Updike says is true then these words survive after the casket is in the ground and the confetti fingernails adorn the baby nightgown in that dark cobweb world underground.

It's the devil's bargain, I think. Where did I sell my soul for this vision? Probably on the road, languishing near the metal guardrail in Idaho or Wyoming, watching the trucks shush by, absorbing it all, every bird in the sky, every song on the wing and vowing to regurgitate it later, but perfectly "Anything to let it be perfect and complete, this moment exactly as it should be read, the lonely highway, the big sky of the west, cowboy hats hung on gun racks, dogs on farms, truck stops, high mountains on the horizon, long legged women, welcome mats, sleeping in the arms of america, the cedars and ponderosa pines lined up in neat rows and the black tire marks on the highway where distant moments of destruction took place." I could hear the song but couldn't sing it. That drove me insane. I could sit there forever or five minutes. It didn't matter because I wasn't waiting for a ride. I was waiting for a sign that my offer had been accepted, that I could leave this moment and the next and every person with a suitcase would be safe, they wouldn't be left in anonymous graves but would be sketched out and sleep safe in my songs. I didn't get the answer but I kept making the offer and kept writing and reading. I don't know when my offer was accepted but I see it was a devil's bargain. What I lost in the seats and stools of bars is equivalent to what I gained. Can I get my soul back? Or did I trade it in for something I thought Updike had? Can I reach out and make Janice catch Rebecca before she falls into the water? Can I go back to those high paying military jobs I passed up because "I want to be a writer."?? I can still see the harmonic oscillator and the look on their faces when they said, "So you'd call yourself a perfectionist?"
Yes, I would, but a perfect writer, not a goddamn electronic engineer! But one paid cash money for nice guitars and the other has me digging splinters out of my palm.
No, I can't go back. I sold that job for Mexico and a tan and Latin stories I can keep myself warm with in New England winters. What I wished for is here and now it has banned me from the society of the living. The only option is to ride it to the end. Push it until it can't be pushed any more...these bones are broken and this heart misses a beat on the balcony after climbing the stairs. So here's my nightly reminiscence:

Lone tear drop on the red brick sidewalk, pizza joint closed at 8, dishwasher in a white smock smoking a cigarette in the shadows of the clam shack. The ocean has turned upside down tonight as the ghosts of tomorrow run wild. It's nothing a glass of vodka won't fix, or a handjob, or an anonymous fuck! So order another drink you merchants of falsehood. Why you haven't thrown me out yet is a mystery. There's no end to this keyboard of fate. That's an F# on the high side, that ping, the one that turns your stomach upside down.


hardworker said...

as brad said, quoting hunter, you bought the ticket, take the ride.

Oggy Bleacher said...

if you dance with the devil, sooner or later he will want to lick you balls.

Anonymous said...

I'd pay her $50 to shit on my upper lip.

Anonymous said...

I'd pay her $50 to shit on my upper lip.

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