There is no loneliness like that of a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon alone in memory of an ocean of good times that have come and gone before held within the happiness of the company of another. All those routine little trips to and fro with the folks. Those long country rides holding hands with that special someone who just told you once again how much they really love you. Now no longer that sort of ‘good time Charlie’. An emptiness surrounding one fully illuminated sublimated beneath the pressure of utter stillness. Being by one’s self and feeling totally abandoned by old events that have so long ago run their course. Eclipsing any hope of a bearable present without the cloak of the clinging past being dulled by trying to forget. That bitter instant when one realizes that they have been praying for the balm of a shadow over all they really loved about being alive. That indelible dream of what things must have been like way back then. And what they should have been like if you had been a more loving and less selfish as a person. That escalator of remorseful knowledge and impotent regret for the inescapable fact of being yourself. All those remaining songs and pictures from eras now extinct having one believing too occasionally that it is simply there as it has always been in the other room around the corner somewhere just behind you. But then, don’t bother to look or you’ll be certainly disappointed. Your heart heavy like some cheap gangster’s chain bound body, feet stuck in cement, below the bay. The world of life ongoing all around just above you. But no prayers left for anyone to utter. Only inadvertent mumbles trailing from your own lips. Mouthing words from those long familiar authors who gave birth to you but can no longer speak. What remains is no longer yours. But an outdated approximation of a future that might have been but that is now assuredly obsolete. Is it easier to close your eyes and enjoy the occasional appearance of intervening instants that lead back to the momentary crescendos of too often forgotten former hyperbole’s. Exposed in feelings inescapably mislaid betwixt too many other uncountable throwaway minutes of the prison bars of today?
Old friends rediscovered in a trash heap or a junk store. That one eyed wink of the dingy clothed doll that sits on that dusty shelf recounting those decades long gone by of yesteryear. In a sense, I died last Fall along with my mother. We all die in a sense when bereft of the underpinnings of immortality that once supported everything that we thought right with the world suddenly collapses into thin air. Any lingering hopes for that eleventh hour Fall/Winter romance extinguished in practice by the knowledge that at this advanced age, all one could do is balance their desire by previous bountiful expectations. And not a present tense sense of slim to meager offerings. Cynicism always stopping now by that all too favored chair resting before the television. Where reruns take care of topping off your angst in a swift movement like a butter knife across the top of a ice cream Root Beer soda! No it’s just a game. A renewing arcade of modern toys and follies that signify the fact that we are all too lazy or simply afraid now to come out of our warrens to confront. Better this interface of the Internet, who though knowing all our names and habits affords us that modern dignity of remaining strangers to each other as we toy totally alone back and forth with other similarly beset phantoms. No spills or muss and fuss to clean up when it is all said and quickly done. Cheap and easy mental sex. And for those few still hanging on to the traditions of the past, their bellies still up to the bar and grunting that resounding obligatory “Fuck You!” after every single phrase? Nothing but scorn. No one bothering to keep and even score with these mental degenerates. The best escape for all to plan at this point in the game is a short lived tour sitting peacefully upon the second level of a double decker bus somewhere else. And a nightly Manhattan to help one sleep through the coming night from that time of their embarkation through to the early hours without disturbance. A solitary wish that when death comes, like Dorothy returning from the Wizard, we are transported to those few remaining good times of our childhood now past.
Bernie was a ‘somafabitch’. All throughout his life when a girl liked him he made her life hell. His reputation could only be matched by his wife, Esmerelda. A woman who throughout her existence had played the innocent but had a long and prodigious record of enticing suckers and then taking them for all they had. How the two of them had initially met, much less tied the knot was beyond anybodies comprehension? It just happened that one day some ten years previous one was seen in the other’s company for more than time to time. The boys, Rocco and Hans, who worked as muscle for Bernie at the BimBamBoom club, that slightly sleazy gentleman’s club figured that attraction came in the form of the virtual ‘gold mine’ of this place raked in a prodigious amount of cash from select locals and conventioneers. Certainly, there was no doubt that fresh smell of green that the squares laid down each weekend when their wives went back home to see their mothers. The game was as old as time. That original first business that Plato had mentioned where when the customers were looking the wrong way at the shadows they got fleeced. It seemed to be an agreeable arrangement as the customers rarely came back to complain if their feathers got a little overly ruffled. The cops for their part took their cut twice a month and looked the other way.
Bernie may have not been the easiest guy to work for but one thing he valued was loyalty. Anyone who would take his guff and come back for more must have been an all right guy. He and his Frau used to chuckle sometimes at the end of the night about the crap they had pulled upon some unsuspecting mark. Esmerelda coming on to him just short of a lap dance and then Bernie entering the scene screaming and yelling like the irate wounded husband waving his discontent in the form of the chrome nickel plated .380 he kept in his coat. Usually this was followed by a flow of hundreds and a not too pleasant escort by Rocco and Hans to the back alley door. It was bad for business if the local regulars saw this kind of stuff while they were occupied in other ways slugging down twelve dollar watered beers and seventy dollar bottles of rotgut champagne. The two of them sometimes talked with genuine amazement of how a few of the fellas could come back night after night after drinking that swill and where the likes of some of them got that money. All Bernie could figure was that somebody’s dear mum’s pension check was all but gone each month?
The arrangement seemed to work well over the years as it yielded a new top of the line caddy and periodic trips to Vegas for the couple where they both unloaded a fair amount of the cash they were accumulating. To Esmerelda, this was a heavenly match. One even her nagging bitch of a mother had to keep mostly silent about. Things were going pretty well for someone who was substantially past her twenties but sure wasn’t telling. Bernie presented little trouble for her. Perhaps the rarified atmosphere of all that female flesh roaming around nightly had dulled his sword? If not that, then perhaps the overpowering funky reek of human sweat and cheap perfume that seemed to have settled in permanently throughout the back stage area where the girls changed costumes? Maybe the hard pecker crowd of degenerates out in front that the girls were draping themselves upon dug it. But her old man dug another scent. The wafting acrid odor of stacks of government green. When she thought back about it, with the exception of a couple days when they were first together she had never seen his hard-on? Something that didn’t bother her in the least as she indulged her occasional diversions discretely and far away from him.
The disjointed union of the two of them seemed to continue on interrupted for another decade or two far past the era of Elvis through the reign of a spook named Hendrix and all those Hippie shits. But now, decades past and up to the present the customers had thinned down to bare minimum of previous ‘better days’ . The kinds and qualities of girls that they could once easily corral had diminished to a few old reliable pros who demanded more scratch for a lot less profitable youthful attractiveness. The two old hellions that ran the place had taken on a shared communal visage of what one might have expected upon a cheap plastic mask at Halloween. Rocco was gone, killed some fifteen years back on a car wreck with one of the girls after work. And Hans could barely keep on his feet for more than an hour and had to keep a chair by the door. Even the cops had given up on the place only demanding a third of what had once been their non-negotiable end. The customers, such as they were were old timers who came their only to get it up to simply watch what had become the same old predictable routine of bump and grind.
Occasionally a small party of college kids would come in for a laugh. Something that would drive old Bernie nuts as there wasn’t much that he could do to intimidate then with rheumatoid arthritis and a cane. The fun of it all had gone out of it for him years back. He had lost his pistol years back in some forgotten card game. He was simply a scarecrow that loped about the bar area with one hand on the back of the chairs to steady himself on his back and forth journeys. Esmerelda was generally no where to be seen. She mostly sat in the back office watching re-runs of soaps and old movies of Anthony Quinn when he was young. “He was the man I should have been with all along”, she would quip dreamy eyed in private. “Instead I ended up with this old crud!” No love was lost at this point between them. All the piss and vinegar had long ago departed for points West. Al that the two of them had to look forward to now where monthly trips to the hospital and perhaps a good send off to the Catholic cemetery down the road.
The jest be not in the purloin
without a single trace
but by the simple fact of me
with death upon her face
that perfect mirror of waning life
frozen twixt reflection and dire gloom
a moment of merciful departure
from earthly cares to waiting tomb
when that breath of life is summoned not
and then exists without a trace
what terrible ecstasy in knowing rots
how truly alone one can finally be
when left for a trifling favor
for that uncaring endless infinity
I want to feel white again
and all the colors of the sun
and I’m through with all your blackness
and the untold damage that it has done
I wanted to offend and slake you
for all your boundless rage
of not embracing charity
or being on the same page
of that Christian foil that supports you
of that old Moslem’s fork tongue dialogue untrue
in that Jewish question that ever haunts you
as to who did what to who?
beat that burdening beast that butts you
pull down that honky town that forever spins
those diverging words that part you
from where you’re at and where you been
for love is not a wholesome crime
when lavished on those never strange
and perfidy being no excuse
when encountered in its mange
that dirty tale is told again
of no special status gained
by climbing into a pit of Hell
and claiming you’ve been framed
Everything comes at a price
the price is your life
the price is your home
where you live
what you’re thinking
where you hope to be
where you’ve been
and who you live with
there’s nothing considered free!
That eternal lock step towards oblivion.
Don’t fall out of line!
or you’ll be risking everything!
Never being allowed to see the inconstant wonder of the back ahead.
Just a whinny.
Just a wail.
Just a wall.
Just wait until the morning!
When you’re feelin tall
Until that mighty fall.
of all your wrecked illusions.
and Finzy’s damaged call.
that eternal lock step to infinity
connecting us one and all.