I am not anybody’s idea of a dreamboat. Surely. That’s a certainty. You can spit in your glove and call it a morning. Be still not on that one, Honey. The burrs are in the saddle, and my feet ain’t gone to the dogs just yet, but it’s a close call at the plate of being me. Relegated to all of this coin-tossing worry. I do and I don’t at all alternatives.
Here’s to being alone. Trapping the will, hedging no bets, and skimming a little cream from the melting pot of it all. Paperboys in the evening, they do what they do and slam the news against the front door if they must. Yodelings of “Extra!” pierce my quiet as I watch the clouds just go and go from a slight burp in the conditions, thinking, “Jesus. I’ll be married soon.”
I can’t finish most of my sentences.
There’s a parsnip of a song, singing in sign language: “Come drinking with me, under a baobab tree. The afternoon’s shot, let’s see what the evening might bring.” But, as all else fails and succeeds, night falls so fast now, so sudden; and there is a particular clientele who belly up to the bar for the most of my worries. I run from appointments and catch rain in a pot of dead nasturtiums. I mill through twilight. I’ve been rushed to gears and chapels, over-parred to mush, papered with togethers, hooped with rust too. I’m going nowhere first, and nowhere last, too. Everything’s lifting and everything’s getting set down. Troops of me retreating, stirring renditions of pause-rewind loops, head in the hinterlands, heart in the gutter. Gal-O-Gal. A couple of kids and a pack of smokes for making some past together again. Read me the best parts of the bible while I smear the windows with charcoal. Rex is charging for looks, and Rhoda’s in the parlor making up sense with the beer-drunk neighbors. Haven’t we been here in some before that we’re awfully skittish about having again? People who dream of donkeys on public transportation. People who dance in movie theaters and sail their topcoats toward the ceiling fan. People who move the cereal boxes of consciousness to strange pantries and shelve their distress with the pancake mix. People. I’ve seen more than my share of what good they can’t do. It’s not sorrow’s job to keep the has-beens used-up and gone like some jalopy’s exhaust pipe; or just to share the missing with this whole rundown, barefoot schlep over sticky tiles. No clue what part of me will crack next. A battle without the booze is too much to even ponder, and the right’s gone from the now, and I am just a drain the world pisses down.
You want to know about the guy who put these bullet holes here? He dressed like Teddy Roosevelt and smoked Chesterfields. West of here were darker than stormy nights. “Researching my way through muddles,” he’d always say, between beers or after a good amount of silence had gone by. “Well, shit. Tonight’s not the night, boys. Don’t gather around. Don’t look. I’m three shitty sheets beyond any of it.” There were times out of his life when the wind would gather all of its hate and fury, and we’d be so little and ruined beneath it, no matter what. No matter who’d threaten to cut off our thumbs. You believe it when it’s lost for good. You do. “Just a glass of music for me. Nothing I say is simple.” There are certain threats he made for the rest of us. We enjoyed the company of enemies while it lasted. “Play the fucking jukebox, you hard-up bunch of dumb asses.” A cold was coming down on us. So many jokes we never got to make. “To the extroverts go the spoils, intermittently. Wherever is a place I know too well.” A February mood was upon us. We were wont to let it pass. Letters we’d send all over the country then, our envelopes made it so much farther than we ever would. “Nothing that changes the spelling of your name, kid. Nothing to die for, or over.” It almost made us all cry, but it didn’t. There were reasons, but we were all unreasonable, then. Perhaps we still are? So much space between songs. So many erased ideas from the blackboard of our past. I wanted to slit the wrists of every drunk in town. I wanted to run from the cops for so long, and for so long I never did. I stuck around and heard all about all of it. “The bank of me has gone belly up, boys. And I believe that there brandy belongs to me.” All of it. Guys who had the hots for every gal but me. A horrible headache to be caught up in. “Forget it, Sis. The suds are on your glasses. You’re not a fighter anyway. Not like me. You weren’t built for such things. You were made for laughing and the lifting of libations. Strippers’ tips, toasting, and being you. That’s better than most got. Take it. Don’t fall in love. Ever.” I didn’t. I relied on the Land of Nod for my sentiments. I slew whatever dependable story wasn’t around, and feigned love for the concrete mixers. With my eyes closed I leaned forward, elbows on the bar, and had my time there, whatever tiny piece of eternity that it was. He would’ve been proud. Would’ve told me to tell my father to go take a flying fuck. Or maybe I dreamed up the whole thing. It is extremely difficult to tell.
And to get odd is what doesn’t count yet. Get. The raccoons are in the street. The bed’s made of blue ribbons and spat tobacco juice. Get me a jug of whisky and a sleeping bag. I’m headed to the river’s edge, just south of Tank Hill and Bender’s Gulch. I’ve got my ideas of feeling free. Another tree to sleep under. Another bottle to put me there. Sell all the silverware. Get rid of that 1911 Widowmaker. I’ll run less than away tomorrow, and less the day after that too. Only thing left that’s true, now, the sky’s runny pastels lusterless in the worn-out shine of the way you’d smile scared shitless through the worst. Chewing asphalt in crepuscules of dizzier dreams. I can’t find the car keys. A trawl line stretched across all the places you left me at, it doesn’t turn up a damn thing. I should come with a warning label. Batteries and a wig included for a clean getaway. To be better than blessed, and in the paling bright it all caroms off the drywall better and worse all the time. All the time. I’m almost positive of it. Almost. All the time.