(This cannibal swallowed a 400-word piece written a long while back. So much for a 2.0 version of said previous effort. Like everything else in my life, this blog developed into a beast of it’s own.)
We are the hopeless,
Another night in my veins. I wasn't in the room when Beth's head hit the floor, but I heard the impact. The sound was an anvil dropped on wood, an aluminum bat smashing a wall. I wasn't in the room, I was in the bedroom with her daughter Tiffany, both of us 15 and not doing anything physical. Just laying there, talking. Something to miss about 15. Endless nights wasted away into sunrises thinking of ways to rule the world.
The dumbest things funny.
It was that way that night too, until I heard Beth's head hit the floor.
I’m the kid who worried too much, nicknamed “Daddy George” for too much concern over drunkenness and acid trips, age 13. Mitch Ricketts pinned that title on me and then took me to the top of Pine Tree for my first jump. “Keep your body rigid, keep your hands at your side and try not to bite your tongue off when you hit the water”, he said, too far gone on Busch beer. Then he rolled over the rocks, the water too far away for me to hear him hit.
I’m the kid who followed him over the cliff.
There are 100 magazine covers telling me who I’m supposed to be. Product reinforcement turns needless into necessity or, simply put, nothing into something. Too bad for 100 editors, because in my blackest moments of loneliness or confusion or sadness, or any other multi-syllable emotion, I picture us, me included, as transients on the side of a nowhere highway. The sign in our hands reads “Take me somewhere else.” And that’s a hard vision to send to the marketing department. No beautiful models are on the cliff with us, no mandatory sports car stock market lives.
I’m the guy who put the four words to cardboard.
I’m the guy tearing up 100 magazine covers.
we are the helpless,
We ran in the room, Tiffany’s hands going straight over her open mouth to stifle the shock and scream and awe. The 50-year-old biker that followed Beth home from a Woodlawn juke joint was passed out on the couch, an eerie upright position. A handful of Outsiders were scattered about the room as well, all of them seemingly conscious. Outsiders only traveled in handfuls, a fateful bunch of rebel soldiers… fake-patch anarchists in hiding from our families. Beth just laid there, slightly twitching and slightly breathing.
I’m the kid who worried too much.
I’m the kid that called 911.
Ask me about the “Last of the Runaway Americans”, I dare you. Having a title on the book I’m writing as farewell words makes self-demise seem so inevitable, so inviting. Writing sentences on those pages scares even me. Is there a name for fiction embraced around fact? I call it “faction”, but that just goes along with my ineducated habit of redefining words to fulfill my own descriptions’ needs.
I’m an American Psycho without the murder.
I’m the boy writing a 100,000-word epitaph.
"Uhhhhh I'm at a house, near the white projects but not in the white projects, kinda behind the airport," I stammered. 911 operators are the worst people to talk to when something is really wrong. "We're on a dead end street at the end of another dead end street!" I pleaded, frustrated at my lack of intelligible direction. Someone handed me a piece of mail and I read the address. Tiffany, rightfully so, was in no condition over her mom's condition to be of any assistance.
and we are the heartbroken.
The Kelly house burned down the other night. Again. 21 years after a schizophrenic runaway disguised as one of us set the initial flames. Thad took refuge in the brotherhood of Outsiders and the kind hearts of the Kelly brothers, sleeping in the crawlspace of their house. A folded over mattress hidden in between the walls. The other night was the third time the house burned and it’s a bitter taste when I say out loud that the house is cursed.
Thad and I fought once in a Panama City Beach hotel rooms after the chemicals in his head came unbalanced and he attacked a girl.
I’m the boy who had no business in Florida hotel rooms.
The 50-year-old biker remained in his mixed-pill, alcohol wash-down coma, despite our slaps and shoves and screams. Firefighters and cops are coming, better take his drugs. For his own good. And his money. Again, for his own good. He crawled out on all fours, literally, when Engine 8 showed and initiated the usual drill on Beth. Vital Signs. Sternum rubs. Narcan. She'd live thru that night; we'd all live thru it. I went outside and sat on the hood of a wrecked Malibu. It was 4:30 am and, on the dark side of the white projects, I stared at my dad and my future, both behind the wheel of Engine 8. We never talked about that night, but I could read the words in his eyes, behind the smoke from his cigarette. "What the fuck is my idiot son doing here?"
I’m the man that was an idiot son.
An idiot son following in footsteps and
And growing up.
I’m the man with pen notes on the back of his hand, black ash and soot running from his nose after taking his mask off in a house fire. I’m the man destroying a door, a car, a wall to find fire or to save the dead. Bodies buried in bathtubs under piles of newspapers and coupon clippings, parked cars in parking lots, front porches…
I’m “Daddy George”.
I am the masochist savior, the billboard fightback figure of the carnival freaks and the fags and the niggers and white trash whores. Anyone else that America spits at, or spits out or spits on. The anger and the hurt creates titles for us all. NO ONE is immune since the signs and symptoms do not match the anecdote. So just hold on, all of you, all of us… We are the hopeless, the helpless, and the heartbroken.
The Raider’s jacket suicide found in a cut-out room behind a Southside garage full of busted Mercedes cars.
The porn covered mattress in the white projects, the body there for days before neighbors wondered and we kicked in the door. The gun next to the hand next to the head next to the blood and brains.
The teacher’s bathtub and two feet of water and too many pills and his face on the wrong side of the bath water’s surface.
I still don’t know what to say now, or what I could have said that day. “Meet me for lunch” wasn’t enough I guess. Whatever words I missed I’m sorry.
I’m the boy that made the promise.
I’m the boy that will keep that promise.
Beth was 31 that night. A year later she became a 32-year-old grandmother. That same year the police raided her house on suspicion of drug use. They found skulls and human remains from an abandoned cemetery near the airport. Last year, in a fit of misplaced nostalgia, I drove by their house on a dead end street at the end of another dead end street. It’d been torn down.
I was glad.
Days later I saw Tiffany walking down the side of the highway.
I’m the guy that pulled over and cried his eyes out.
(Janey, recently, stopped me from getting out of my truck so we could hear American Land, a poem written in 1899 by a Slovakian immigrant and re-written to music by Springsteen. We sang the chorus together loudly and held hands and I bit blood to my lip and told her that I will never ever, EVER, give up. She didn’t understand yet.
But someday she’ll be the woman that will.)
“I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.” – Chuck Palahniuk
“What is this land America, so many travel there? I’m going now while I’m still young, my darling meet me there. Wish me luck my lovely, I’ll send for you when I can. And we’ll make our home in the American Land.” – Bruce Springsteen