The old museum was on fire! Not burning in a conventional sense of the same, but being incrementally enveloped in a more undetectable smoldering sense. One where its unique one of a kind structure was smoldering from within. Some of my old friends and acquaintances with their pets still inhabiting within, I was anxious for their safety and tried to hurry along the progress of the evacuation of what they held dear before the entire wooden framework of its old eclectic five story structure might suddenly go from a slow charring consumption to burst into raging flame. A very strange feeling came upon me that I was trying to play a reversed role of savior. The task of bringing these people and their old world to safety, yet somehow performed in reverse. Acting like some backwards minded Noah shepherding these familiar others and their animals out of this place and over the small stream to find temporal safety standing on the other side of the superhighway. Yet, when it seemed all had been accounted for as having left this ancient edifice, now visibly being enveloped from within by smoke, I was compelled to return. I quickly challenged traffic to cross back over the buy six lanes of random cars and swiftly propelled myself back across the small bridge to re-enter this once all too familiar structure. The facade of the rotunda now having partially collapsed. Struck by a queasy feeling in my gut causing my lower limbs to tremble. Knowing that, all too soon, the entire store of my own long waylaid memories would be among the irretrievable casualties soon to be stolen within the building hazy atmosphere of the quickly charring timber. Compelled by some strange self-destructive force to crawl up a rough wooden ladder now before me irregardless of all consequences. My heart beating wildly as I mounted each tread into the oblivion of what had once been so painfully familiar. Now fearlessly disappearing slowly upward without hesitation into quickly descending cloud of dense smoke from those unseen flames several stories overhead right on the edge of bursting forth consuming all within the pitch black darkness. All just to search out what had so long ago been lost, yet up to then, had never been my priority to recover.
It had been some four years plus since anyone had lived here beyond him. Fifteen hundred rise and falls of the Sun on the horizon slowly forgetting his previous daily existence. A long time to become detached from the kin that had previously been the rightful owners of this living space. A small section of floor space on a larger plan in a middle floor of a mid century high rise on the edge of a larger metropolis. Though forced to make daily forays out into the world for work and food he had slowly lost touch with it. Things had been made worse by his losing his daily employ and having to depend on the state to supply him a stipend to purchase foodstuffs. As he sat upon the last remaining two-seater sofa in the lounge he contemplated the dark horizon as embers seemed to gather in the distance readying themselves to once again meet the first light of the sun. Where he wondered was the illumination to light a path out of his every descending dilemma of skating eternal darkness. No expression upon his face as he sat silently low in the saddle of the old broke back couch. The portraits around the room no longer stared out with a plausible familiarity that claimed a actual human entity as the physical source of their being. He looked over to the pinpoints upon the faux tree-like manifestation of the end of the year holidays and felt no fondness or connection with it. Whatever memories within hum had become sterile like the bits and pieces of the residual recollection of his fragmentary youth. What had steadily been preserved over nearly all of a human life was a constant mistrust of his fellow creatures. The slow procession of which that had marched through his life now remembered for their unique qualities of kindness so much as the same story of eventual indifference to him. All those that he came to know in the intervening decades had eventually trailed away in another direction despite his strenuous efforts to dissuade them otherwise. He was thus pronounced a perpetual loner.
There had been a mighty struggle going on within him throughout the successive intervening years since childhood. One where every attempt to accommodate the meandering course of public conventionality’s subsided into a new enigmatic puzzle that seemed to offer no fit solution as to how to navigate. A damned if you do and damned if you don’t continuum of hopeful overtures that too quickly subsided into false starts. Friendships, brief romantic affairs, and even a star-crossed stint at marriage all failing miserably for reasons unknown to him despite his best efforts to bend and satisfy. The world seemed to finally descend upon him as if it had become a mighty leaden cloud full of an eventually lethal menace that might sooner or later take even this sparse form of existence away. There was too much evidence of others that shared the same dilemma in far off cities that barely existed in far of urban districts far to the West. Every day had been a bit more grim than the collection of same that had dissolved into a nothingness without promise or exception. There might have been something tragic about this had their been at least another solitary soul in his company to appreciate the insoluble dilemma that beset him. Yet he himself felt no despair or self pity on his own account. He was struck by the fact of how persistent and unrelenting was his own condition of life. But had no sympathy for himself and occasionally some degree of maudlin emotion for anonymous others that theoretically shared a similar experience to his circumstance. This appreciation of same coming from teleplays and cinematic narratives that seemed to corral the emotions of the surrounding population in general. It might have officially been called consensus in the daily declaration of events and socially acceptable notions that were sold as appropriate. He sat in his lounge upon the old threadbare saddle alone in his lounge. The gravity of this unrelenting condition of solitude descending upon his consciousness finally collapsing any fantasy to the contrary.
The soccer field seemed twice the size as he could remember it. He recalled that he had played soccer in high school during gym class and had been anything but stellar. Now he seemed enlisted as a coach in a Summer time program at a nearby park district. The ball was served from the center of the field and immediately shot over his head towards the boundary of one of the streets that served as the ultimate boundary of the park. One of the players at that far end booting it back once again overhead until it seemed in a position relatively equivalent but in the opposite direction. Something within him sank like a flag being pulled down in early surrender. He had doubts that this job would last more than the afternoon given the fact that his present level of physicality was obviously no match for the youthful leg strength of those that had been put in his charge to mind. The other coach now running in a lateral direction towards the side of the field he felt his rubbery legs wobble as he made his own pathetic attempt to catch up to the orb. The other younger fellow’s lack of speed a sign of the man’s sarcasm in the fact of the pathetic lack of performance of his older rival. Seeing this for what it meant the older scorned pair of legs picked up speed as if they now had a life separate to the body and head that bobbled about atop them. Their distant rival in the younger coach resuming his normal vitality and stepping up his pace as a result of this display and easily reaching the ball first to boot it far away back towards center field out of reach of his older rival’s renewed efforts. The impossbility of the situation fell upon the deposed sexagenarian like a wet woolen blanket.
The failure felt in one scenario seemed to bring on contemplation of yet another. One calling into focus a dismal area bordering a place outside of town by a main railroad trunk line. A no man’s land evidencing decades of toxic and careless dumping of castoffs that had the relative appearance of destruction one would have quickly associated with the worst sites of world war carnage. It was here that the man found himself newly arrived standing on the gravel by the rails. The only cited goal still clearly posed in his being was to traverse this area before he would be spotted by hostile parties. This inhospitable region having its own indigenous residents that as one might expect were as unwanted and disgruntled as himself. His presence in this lawless section presenting a convenient scapegoat for them to enact his revenge. His traverse of the many gullies fraught with sucking empty bucket covered tar pits that he barely found passage to skirt around disconcerting as the pressure of unseen eyes bore down upon him. Rapid tiptoes across rotting planks to shifting sandy ridges that softly gave way under his feet threatening to cant him forward in a manner that my lead to a tumble into the muck of a pit of uncertain composition. Whole sections of savaged walls of residential building including banks of wooden sash segmented of window glass stood as partitions blocking rapid progress. The notion of him being followed by hordes not far behind him growing ever evident. The possible luxury of taking an instant to stop in mid course to turn about and view the situation in that direction too wasteful of the slight chance that he might still outdistance them. On and forward he stumbled and slipped irregardless of his mounting conviction that all this effort would still result in his being easily being overtaken. Gone were the self inscribed fantasies of the inadvertent hero that he felt himself innately capable of being. His own vulnerability so painfully apparent in a likening to that of a field mouse being pursued by an owl. The growing flutter of his own heart within his chest now impossible to discern from feathers softly beating rapidly and hard just above yet not quite further back.
The chimes of the wall clock rang with their usual annoying precision. Another artifact that he had refused to disturb from the storehouse of family possessions that stood in for otherwise long lost traditions. His neck cracked a bit as the tight muscles surrounding his spine propelled his mighty cranium slowly forward and upright. The room was still dark but by the reckoning of the dim glow from outside several hours might have past. His sojourn to that other unstable ever changing world of dreams had as usual been unexpected and rocky. He rotated his head about a bit in both directions and stretched both arms upwards into a diagonal V to stretch out the kinks in his back still otherwise at rest slouched upon the sofa’s brace of pillows. Though the darkness of the room was only occasionally interrupted by tiny pinpoints of random LED’s as well as vertical glimpses of the The notion of the solitude ensconced within the limbo of a formless remote universe being challenged by sensations of cold drafty air and the rush of its warmer rival issuing from vents at ceiling height dispensing with same. Leaning forward out of his static repose he shifted his view to the murky horizon peeking up over the bottom sash of the window. Existence such as it was still remained. Only the accompanying dismal circumstance of the fear that it associated with was gone. He was in a state of neutral unencumbered being his usual troubles and concerns put to rest. His body as a singular instrument very aware of the exact position within the knowable universe of man. The question of hierarchy now a secondary matter. He was still very much alive and that was all that mattered.
The turkey dinner stunk. He sat in the easy chair finally relieved to be sitting. The marathon of two days had come to a climax. Early perhaps, but all the same exhausted. The drill was to be some sort of sentimental ritual of fond holiday remembrance. Recollection of times past when Christmas dinner was a regular event. An event that sometimes felt like the experience was becoming overly trite. But in light of the passing of a decade and a half had returned to the status of beyond extraordinary. Unfortunately, the noble attempt had been a failure. Not a total failure though. The turkey report four days previous stated the possibility of an outbreak if Salmonella ridden turkeys. And so he had put in the freezer when the frig seemed to have a slight off odor. Later it was apparent that the smell was from a poorly chopped red onion. The result was a certain level of insecurity as to whether his efforts to thaw in twelve hours before that after testing various scenarios from washing in tepid water and chipping away ice from the interior he was risking a waterlogged bird with all the natural juices removed. It seemed at that point it couldn’t cook right. But miraculously with a liberal transfusion of butter and thyme with a few rosemary sprigs and lime interposed apple slices in its chassis.
Where he went wrong was his timing. The two Pyrex dishes of bread dressing being perfectly cooked and set upon the burners on the stove. But to his mind needing to stay warm until the point of serving when he came back from a prearranged brunch. The minutes ticking down, he dumped the two of them back in the oven with the turkey. All the way there he knew he had made a mistake. Little did he expect that the contents of both pans would turn black as a cinder! Things seemed to go downhill from there. By the time he had everything in control enough to serve himself half of it was barely edible. The subsequent cleanup of the many greasy pots, pans, utensils as well as dishes of all sizes was prophetic in scale. Now of course that world had all been restored to a former sense of prior order. One that had been in force as set by the original owner of the utensils. He had tried their use and had found a new respect for the quiet dilemma shared each year by his dear departed mother. Her expertise had been honed to razor sharpness at that point when the small family had been installed in its first new house. A one story mid-century suburban property that sat tabla raza in a brand new subdivision that had been carved from a tract of former farmer’s field. The center of town persisting to declare itself as remaining part of a bygone era when Cyrus McCormick had them among his best customers in the heyday of bountiful crops corn or wheat. Now it served as a canvas for all their dreams to erase the hopelessness of an terrible economic depression and the war that had been waged in part to defeat it.
Some of these current utensils served as important artifacts in the entertainment rituals that his two parents put forth to attract the envy and admiration of other’s of their own generation. Siblings of my mother and my father’s mother, stepfather and half sister. Those few good years when they were allowed to demonstrate their coming success that less than a half decade would elude them. One by one these sets of merry making holiday tools were deposed to storage in the back of cupboards or redefined into more mundane uses for carrying on everyday existence. Some had been handed over by his maternal grandparents and provided lasting utility as a backup for others more modern but of a lesser quality. Thus many had earned a certain nobility in his mind as veterans from former eras of celebrations that were now nothing more than the inference of old phantoms, His weariness had led him to retire not very long after the setting of the Sun on the far horizon past the apartment’s vertical blinds. He had fallen into a stupor barely able to keep his balance as he staggered to the bedroom with the intent to turn in early. The fast erratic heartbeat of drum synthesizing the aura of amplified electric bass suddenly shaking his chambers. Somewhere below or above voices were now raised in unrestrained joyfulness. Some of them perhaps as foolishly careless and free as those of his own parents had been in their heyday. The cycle of the hopefulness of life was playing itself out once again in his vicinity just out of reach yet clearly evident.
The silence about the bedroom woke him up gently to the somber droning of the melancholy of some Middle European symphony composed in the latter half of the previous century when the horrors of the second great war were still fresh. The booming music conducted by the concrete and its sudden choruses of ebullient joyfulness now gone as if they had merely a passing folly of his imagination. The impressions currently leaking from his rising consciousness telling of a solitary old codger that had joined the party. But the party had been transposed to another place and time in an appreciation of the world as it might have been nearly a hundred years back. The joyfulness of a candy emporium or bakery with fresh newly baked odors and muslin banners and tapestry’s declaring the imminence of a new year. Smiling female faces ripe for the play of mind boggling word games and the reward for the right guess in decorative party favors. Celebration and unbounded happiness having no reason beyond its appearance in the moment. His own white whiskered bald pate’d avatar pointing to the ceiling with an impish grin declaring to the entire party,”What is another name for cupcake?” His consciousness now regained within these opposing symphonies playing each in their respective low volume and he laying cat-like and rested beneath the coverlet diagonal upon his bed. Had it all been a dream he wondered as his eyes rolled slowly towards the passage door of the bedroom. The dim glow of Christmas resting warm upon it dimly reflected by relay from that still illumined effigy within the next room. The faux armature of a small tree packed with all its old family trinkets casting its still brilliant old burning memories forth from this passage of another Christmas. It’s heritage now resplendent in the first hours of the commencement of a new day soon to come to pass.
Be careful of falling in love with your own success and the admiration that it appears to give you. It is the oldest of traps! The future self that you are daily making a pathway for may be wrought by an imposter. The clothes on one’s back may seem changed but those shoulders holding them up are just a tad bit lower. Yet you can be assured that without a doubt that the devil is always back at home waiting for your return. That animated ghostly wax effigy haunting the premises daily and at night. Humanity slowly becoming a distant echo behind your outside door that’s nightly barred. The vital notion of continued industry on your own behalf coming to a rusty halt. No need to throw one’s self upon that distant community’s sense of funeral pyre! It is far harder to believe in something long desired from one’s brittle heart than to amass the benefit of too many material riches. Though this society’s masters would have its member’s believe otherwise. The constant war of social mores of the current moment continuing on. All the soft shouldered seductive ideas leaning towards thoughts solipsistically posed as feminine an empty choral. Such mistrust may be unbecoming? But reliably formed from too many years of bad experiences. Yet it still is impossible to give up to the promise of the hunt! Or turn away from its persistently lingering dream. No confusion in continuing once again as before, in following along in the wake of that dimly lit flickering torch.
That five pointed star glowing in the distance of a dark horizon illuminating that tiny unsuspecting corner immersed in an unrelenting darkness of the night. Something wrong with its glowing singular presence lodged so solidly in the direct path of the approach of another lackluster holiday season. Out of place like an unwanted penniless interloper seeking to play it as a bad replacement for Santa.
A group of us gathered about the oil painter to watch him apply tonal grays to the shadows growing slowly in the foreground. The elongated pattern of a makeshift fence cast forth shadows caused by the inference of a sun projecting light from somewhere off camera just behind. The angle of view of the the imaginary audience resting on high as if taken from the top of a ladder. A sinister feeling of an unexplained drama taking place just out of sight above the top of the canvas. This simple area upon wooden stretcher frame white duck almost as tall as a grown man. The artist methodically applying more subtleties of shading while simultaneously speaking about the theory behind his own technique. Some in the surrounding throng of onlookers chattering respectfully quiet about these beginning expounding the own views of what the amorphous shadow’s metaphor really represents relating a mental landscape of brutal vengeance wrought by unnamed villager taking marauding mountebanks to task by sawing them in half.
“The religion of science, as well as those who are willing to sacrifice existing society for their personal glory, aiding its accumulation of the sake of an ever greater degree of power as fit substantiation. Demanding freedom in their demonstration of dangerous experiments taunting unseen powers without any consideration of the untoward side effects that might be summoned from the unknown in terms of an irrevocable unstoppable consequence.”, the artist’s voice rang out over the low drone of the surrounding crowd.
There was a fierceness about the artist. A hatchet-like sense of external continence elicited a stern coolness by others about his presence. Something that he had probably been meticulously groomed over the years as a defense from that persistent feeling of weakness that too many others had taken advantage of in his formative years. A hardness that cut through a swath of surrounding humanity like a dull rusty blade so that he might be safe from confrontation with any that thought themselves as natural predators. Though the dregs of the lower end of society that he struggled amidst still managed to throw themselves across the path of his ever watchful silence. These interlopers aware no doubt that their own faulty egos needed preening before harshly proclaiming themselves before him as gate keepers. This wasn’t the sort of man to take these experiences lightly.
The usefulness of his talent in portraiture in terms of common trade of accurately rendering a human likeness was acceptable. And on occasion even gratuitously acknowledged. But only as far as the tenure of his service would be required. Then from that point further on than the sketches completion he was promptly forgotten as more than another passing individual. An oddity that popped up unexpectedly and regarded as if he had never possessed a personality at all? The dreams he portrayed upon the canvass matched that same sense of suppressed wrath. Horizons of empty avenues and mile after mile of lonely travel through the vast stretches of flat land of anonymous darkened gray cityscapes. Time ticking away nightly in the back of a solitary head suggesting that a pending plane reservation had come due. And that in the course of some obsessive abstraction, the date of departure has been misplaced or more likely to forgotten. The resulting penalty weighing heavily over the dreamer’s head being left without resources to return to a nondescript location loosely referred to as home. A mythical place just as equally empty as the current one. Barren hollowness significant of a failing mind losing all its memories and connections to simple geography.
The great herd of humanity about him that the inferences of his image was shepherded along to a new horizons leaving him in his own derelict ruin. Their presence foreign to the evidence he presented to a resemblance of a world that his instincts maintained. The semiotic instructions forwarded by him as a final gift by way of his diligence. And duty wasted upon faces already emptied of regard for his craft. It had always been thus. He felt as if he was part of a strange species born in a locale that operated out of time and space. Other wanderers of a similar passing spirit attracted to him for a time. Yet after a brief sojourn moving on. Perhaps he was just unawares of perpetual habitation in some mythical place that the ancient Greek had conceived? Hades! A place where eternally shadows wander within dark scarcely defined circumstances. Unsure of any sense of earthly purpose. Entities that had somehow at the last moment recklessly squeezed themselves upon Charon’s barge and aeon ago. But now served as a fully spent unusable implement fully out of place? And yet someone who clung to a singular reason to continue the hope for the light of a vast eternal emptiness that lingered about surreptitiously in every place.
Society was an unwavering anvil where ever it remained. One earth or in Hell. A place where, blow after blow, one was hammered into something even farther than unfashionable and hopelessly distant from that type that one had been originally taught. Life’s experience being no reliable batten to deflect this rain of inevitable blows as they slammed down upon a meager existence taking yet another awful turn towards further diminishment.
“Scottish music!” That was the key in the dream. The identity of those held in custody that spoke in a tongue so foreign that for all intents and purposes it might have simply been grunts and groans. This discovery was not his own alone but broadcast upon the FM radio program as it rattled through cultural themes.
The narrator began again, “He began to suspect her. Suspect her of being not what she claimed to be in her overconfident self-serving tone.”
The forest along the highway looked much the same as it had some fifty years previous in his youth except that there was a new horse trail. The gray tapioca sky of winter hung heavy upon the bare tree landscape of Skokie. Brand new Mid-Century apartments aged some fifty years into insignificance stood like granite boulders amidst their own forest of weathered telephone poles. The spirit of my mother beside me as a passenger in the car I took in the blue gray surroundings as if I was reading the collective faces of another lost generation that somehow no longer belonged. A patent irony when one recalls that many of the original residents of these brick and Lannon stone masterpieces had been only a decade into their occupation of this new land transposed from one that had been completely reduced to rubble. Housing those Middle Class children of a more modern Moses thrown briefly into bondage by an evil king. Their own Old Testament God summoned to visit complete destruction on this king and his people in a final terrible European Megiddio scenario of total revelatory annihilation of what was once the only former land that they had known.as home. Perhaps at that time of transition some thought that they had been waylaid thus to enjoy a new era of prosperity to flower as a people once again to enjoy some golden era. But some fifty years hence one might have surmised from events since that they had been cursed to repeat their most potent fable of being lost in the wilderness amidst others that knew not their names.
The entrance to the building and the stairwell leading to the halls beyond seemed close to that point when years of ear and habitation were bringing them to a final unstoppable point of rapid demise. All the vivacious sense of life and possibility left off in a habitual haze of long addled memory too many years ago. Most of the original residents now having been replaced with new immigrants of a different caliber and world view. The same sense of social unease that had been felt in past times within the old land having eventually followed suit with these former inhabitants to come to rest here. He felt our of place as some potential invader for the simple fact of having come here as he followed his mother in her composite form of phantom reprising several ages in one.It seemed from the expression on her indefinite features that she wasn’t engaged upon a mission meant to spark felicity. The door to the second floor corner apartment was swung open and he could hear her voice addressing another woman by the name Bea. A vague stream of remembrance flowed over him illuminating some distant snippet of conversation that identified the occupant as someone well-known from an era when he may have still been an infant child. A resident of another world that had preceded his birth. A time with its own equally halcyon sensibilities that would have equaled or even surpassed those of this now current modern time. I could tell by the muffled tone of the conversation in the next room that Bea had suffered some tragedies on the back end of life’s slope.
The furniture and their accompanied them upon the walls as I entered from the hall were from a movie set bespeaking the fading glow of a former prosperity. The setting providing a disorienting museum-like quality of being dryly set back superficially in time yet possessing no sense of viable energies suggesting viable human emotions. Its sole occupant stood like a granite effigy with an expression staring past the walls into a direction where the evidence upon the wear upon her face bespoke some deep inflexible degree of pain. One sensed that this feint dialogue ongoing between the spirit and the spiritless was ploughing up some former singular tragedy that had turned a once vital existence to stone. The statuesque figure of this woman stood like a aged pillar the life that had once been resident within her dispersed about the room. She had degenerated as a living person into an impression of something slightly noticeable. The tragedy in question had left her and her husband’s business affairs in shambles having been robbed of all the years of mutual effort to build a successful life together. If there could have been children to this unlucky match it was apparent that they were long gone too. Though fate had been initially kind to them it had struck a sledge hammer to both of them in the end. The ‘He’ had been swept away past the veil of death but the physical part of her mortal existence still remained. To see her there immobile conversing with his mother’s shade her eyes in a frozen contradiction to the slightest movements one could say with some assurance that for a moment or two that things long put away were being aired from a musty past.
The darkness that enclosed the room was dead cold. He rolled over and opened his eyes but found only a barely realized outline of streetlamp illuminated gloom defining the long bay window that identified his current location as his own bedroom. The static details of the woman and her abode that persisted upon his retina quickly dissolving into his own reality. Cars were slowly humming past in extended moaning intervals their presence announcing that this unlit gloom was soon once again to be displaced by a more apparent well-illuminated version. The ghosts now departed he pondered whether this apparition called Bea that seemed to rely on memories stirred up from his own dim past had indeed really existed. The sedimentary jumble of the toy box of his recollections unable to afford the suggestion of that possibility being so. It was impossible to say with any certainty that the woman was a solitary individual or some amalgam of recovered thoughts pasted together from under the weight of too many other ones equally trivial to his present existence. How it could be fitted together into some rational explanation that would satisfy a mindset of modern psychology being impossible to say. A festin d’pierre in a more dramatic theatrical sense to his lackluster Don Giovanni? A badly weathering stony presence set upon another hint of memorial for the sake of a random momentary remembrance? Perhaps? But then, having been resisting a lingering cold now encroaching him from every side of his mattress, something of secondary concern.
The old bitch upstairs was dragging her furniture across the floor again! Another knock just as he lowered his head. “Goddamn bitch!“, he yelled! Hoping that his exclamation was just loud enough to be heard through the concrete slab construction of his one hundred and eighty unit Mid-Century dilemma. The snowbound darkness to his left from the old squeaky recliner seemed to evaporate all probability of life beyond his own in the darkened semi-lit lounge. To look at him and his lifestyle one might have thought he was in some terminal form of inconstant mourning. Another drag and a bump diverting his attention back skyward to the old phantom above. There was no way of course of determining the exact identity of the occupant above him beyond the habits associated with the irritation that she caused. The moving of furniture at odd hours of the night suggesting someone perhaps as solitary as he. Small erratic nagging scratching noises or the bang of something upon the floor waking him out of a dead sleep suggesting the possible companion of a feline. The other phenomena less associative being infrequent bouts of fog banks of cigarette smoke that drifted in from the common space betwixt the bathroom and small kitchen that rose up through all fifteen stories of the structure. Sometime the heady aroma of wine treated weed stung his nose before dawn and threatened disorienting his head. It seemed incongruous that someone elderly would be indulging in such mundane hallucinogens. Both then given the era nearly fifty-years previous when society was breaking apart from incessant social dissonance drug taking was the common practice.
His headaches had increased in the last several years from the occasional to the frequent. It was reasonable to assume that all this airborne nuisance was a possible accessory if not prime cause of his distress. As it was the residents of the building had shifted in composition to a less sophisticated set that could be characterized more by their careless excesses than their civility. He had devised a nightly ritual of barring the door with two old steel walking canes and stuffing disposable plastic bags from the local supermarket in the gaps. The settling of the building having thrown all precise angles from their original square into a kilter. More than half way up the tower he could feel the building tremble without a warning seemingly from any more reasonable explanation than it was settling unevenly in such a manner that made the structure more vulnerable. The combination of all these factors adding to a building level of unconsciously gathering insecurities. Dark thoughts in the night fueled in part by the darkness of fractious world events where every day seemed to be another form of unraveling crisis. The faces of his bygone parents looking ever sterner in the accumulating shadows of both day and night. Perhaps another sign of his incrementally fading vision. “What then?“, he thought, “When I finally go blind?”
The lack of company and prospects for the future seemed to go along hand in hand. He seemed stamped from birth in a singular mode as a solitary soul. Perhaps condemned from some previous existence in another lifetime for an oversight or transgression that was considered unforgivable in a cosmic sense of being. Though he had suspected it in childhood there was something about him that others found unsettling even detestable. He seemed to attract expressions of instantaneous scorn or unmasked derision in the initial expression of strangers. His relations with others being tenuous at best. A shadow of a type falling upon his aspirations as they had all one by one seemed to crash prematurely before any lasting measure of success could take hold. Maybe it could be described as a certain sense of an ever failed optimism that was behind that gap with him and the rest of the human world? At this point he had seemingly succumbed. The program upon the screen before him had a taint that seemed in keeping with the ever mounting disaster that his current life was increasingly appearing to be. The space next to him ringing out with another utensil dropped out of a phantom hand.
The accumulation of experience such as it was made one convinced that one’s presence of mind in some way was a result of their own actions over the long term of their existence. One could collect positives as well as negatives. In some respects it gave a possible explanation to his dilemma. Recollections of events past when assembled suggesting more than possibly a pattern that suggested some prior suffering that was prevalent where he played the part of either victim or perpetrator. Bad memories of a childhood twisted by that subversive sense that he had something to be guilty about yet knowing exactly what. Strange affinities with old deposed European cultures now vilified as ultimate villains. Toy sets allowing play demonstrating an interest in resonating with past military grandeur’s. The stage set by entertainment entrepreneurs that had translated their rigorous subversive dogmas to lay in wait for vulnerable minds like his own. Who in that age could tell if any thought formed in their head was truly one of their own devising? The more his day vision suffered and the ability to conjure the recent past of moments waylaid an instant after enacting them the more the same sense of building despair set in. He played with these phantoms in his mind much in the way that he had once done with those little plastic toys.
He could recall for no particular reason and incident of his past in which he had purchased a brand new dark blue long sleeve shirt. Something of a talisman of sorts with which to attract the possibility of female attentions at a weekly party of his male high school friends. Taking it out of the package he had bestowed its magnificence upon his ignominious torso and felt a new confidence building within. His general perspective of being ground down in the world of the untermensch suddenly catapulted to a new height of unbounded self-confidence. Off he strode down the street to make his newly revised presence known. Yet predictably, as fate would have it, in particular his own. a mere half an hour later he was tearing violently at his new covering as he had found that though he was useful as the group’s weekend chauffeur, he had been shut out otherwise. By the time he had arrived home his shirt was in tatters. He had been betrayed by his own sense of foolish optimism to believe that his prolonged curse had been lifted. But found out much to his disappointment that this was anything but true. Much later he would find salvation in the love of another. His first. But then he would also find a way of mucking that up as well. So much for optimism!
His dreams as he encountered their bits and pieces and parsimonious lingering fragments seemed perfectly understandable though it seemed impossible to recall beyond a single glaring aspect past the time of waking. The pennant on the top of a mainmast of a vessel laying hull upright upon the bottom in the sea of his unconscious. There were many such wrecks there waiting to be rediscovered. Occasionally one would spontaneously rise to the surface during the course of a day’s idle thoughts. It was maddening that whatever force guided his consciousness was jealously maintaining control of it to the point of incrementally removing control from him. He could recall the piles of dog poop staggered like poorly laid landmines trailing into the hotel bedroom from the tiled floor in the lobby. The enigma of this unexplained phenomena taking place in some unidentified metropolis for reasons that would never be made clear as to how they related to him. A vague suggestion floating about that the management was not thrilled to off its services to clientele of his stature. Yet the exercise of a dance step type of physical exertion to avoid soiling his shoes seemed as if he had actually performed it while waking? And merely returned to bed and sunk back into the same dream?
Perhaps this curse had been renewed in an incident in years before? Then again maybe congealed in a single incident? He could recall a short road trip taken in high school in the company of other students from the school’s speech club? Their destination being culminated at a crappy Minneapolis hotel for the purpose of engaging with the wonders of the Tyrone Guthrie theater. The student’s after party being accompanied by the latest Beatle’s album of that time, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The males warming up by having a spontaneous fire extinguisher fight in the back hallways of that creaking edifice. The girls setting up a Ouija board. The entire group congealing under a foggy screen of marijuana smoke to engage in an impromptu seance. One of the girls jumping up to break the circle and declaring that the speaker from the other side was none other than Adolph Hitler. He turned his face back from his thoughts to the window. Any excuse to justify this ongoing insanity of the inevitable ravages of old age both socially and otherwise. So many excuses that might add the value of an unsung melodramatic drama to what had descended into a lackluster humdrum existence awaiting the silent call of the grim reaper. Would his makeshift barricade at least provide some element of forewarning? It didn’t seem likely. The stigma of forgetfulness able to be accounted for in so many causes that one might just say this was merely a plague brought on be mere happenstance. There being no way beyond the ritual of the pronouncement of generally acceptable opinions based upon authority to answer with an air of the definite. And that of itself was its own form of fatal execution.
The thought bringing up another long filed memory from adolescence. The book called the History Of Torture which he had read in paperback form. It’s contents evoking both the sleazy as well as buoy a fearful dread. The institutional insemination of the Holocaust drama in a formative age of many recited personal fictional accounts being transmigrated into the public record of alleged facts. The perversity of the minds of the authors competing with each other to derive the most sensory debilitating descriptions of unbounded evil inhumanity for the sake of garnering temporal notoriety. How much was added to the empty shadows of adolescent minds in that postwar era? Brainwashing starting in the licentious realm of smelly exploitation newsprint paper printed tabloids. And transmigrating into the unsophisticated soulful moral repositories of the naive. The real unbearable torment of human existence not found in the physical dimension of uncontrollable pain but in the estrangement of the individual inevitably finding themselves permanently waylaid from the group as a pariah. Suffering attributable only to one’s own nature and not the all too obvious machinations of a society turned into a cold inhuman vehicle for processing the species into a puppet fit only for its utility. The cog as victim turned into the victim defaulted to the banality of a cog. All the socially proscribed devils found too late to be naught but fallen allies that had proceeded him. The endless futility of all this being the most unbearable burden of all.
Restlessness, thy name is mine, own a willful cypher
restlessness, my name is thine own, a willful cypher
taking me to those long lost deeply held undercover realms
I, like you, am naked in this world
naked like truth’s that one ever wishes to hide
there to suffer changing light bulbs before fantastic vistas
of icicle shaped spires reaching up thousands of feet
Why must we trod about so aimlessly within
why must we forget ourselves and then ache inside
these bodies are no longer fit for such excess
always waiting for our weakest moment to complain
threatening arrhythmic heartbeats gone awry in bacchanals of insane drumming
all to remind us that we are no longer young
Oh to give up this present place to release all the air
to give up one’s breath for the sake of others
as if air was not any longer but a valueless commodity
but merely an essential for preserving some distant social dominance
of those countless unseen many over the few
I think about you . . .
I think about how you’ve always been enraged about that fact
that so many others can call upon your name
and then so easily call your at your game
and you that one who will not commit
you who will not place your right hand
heavy upon the holy bible of the body corporate
to tremble flesh to flesh basking in warmth of the impossible release
the one that you desperately long for
because you, like the rest of us, are none but a fool
chasing rainbows in a land of galloping ibex’s
horned horses, fantastic beasts, all stuck within your mind since childhood
what pleasure does that allow you in this type of world of now
no cake for the wanta-be ‘eat it too’s’
be damned those people who are too clever for the sake of same
the old familiar heart beats in their irregular rhythms
and how one exists betwixt the vacuum lurking in-between
sweeping away all doubt in a false conventionality
“There’s nothing wrong!”
“It’s all OK!”
” . . . naught but just another rich meal”
and the all so familiar elixir of spirits to confound
what has become an ever enlarging hopeful heart
perhaps too much like those red dwarf celestial giants
too little being those without love
physical love, spiritual love, love in a brightening tomorrow
must see their heart expand until just before it bursts
collapsing into dark void of limbo endless
and then they are no more
this inert shell, nothing but a nuisance for others to clean up
surrender your breath to that next successive generation
so they too can respire
you too can expire and only then they are inspired
what a nasty rhythm of life
all I seek is to feel another ‘you‘ against me
to put my arms around this other ‘you‘
and feel as I once did
so forgetfully long ago when I was young
Oh, who was that last person . . .
where my head rested and rolled in your lap
and two eyes reach up into the mystery of the sky
such a pleasant long lost idyll
something to be cherished
and resurrected from dead flesh
to be brought to mind again
as rare as that last corner of wind and wine