Desireless (2)

[Read this out loud, if you can.  All the way through.  Don’t read the brackets out loud; just do what it says]

He crosses the floor, looks into the old shoe box and pulls out an old 45 record from his modest, but meaningful collection.  He slips it from its paper sheath, and smiles to himself as someone who has such a thing in a time when few people still have such things.

He calls over his shoulder to the sleeping figure on the couch, and he stands.  “You awake?”  He is only answered with a soft snore and the shifting of a body on the couch.

He pauses for a moment, flipping the black single over in his hands–ever vigilant and careful to not put his fingers anywhere but on the very edge.  He smiles to himself, takes two breaths and then steps to the record player.

Holding the record carefully in one hand, he lifts the lid of the player with the other, switches it on, and sighs.  He puts the album on the turntable, drops the needle on the record and then strides into the kitchen. [Open this in a separate window and press play now and continue reading]

It plays the first scratchy sounds of nothingness before the rhythmic tapping begins, and a few moments later, the song starts in earnest.  Robert Smith.  The Cure.

He opens the cabinet, pulls out a glass, puts it on the counter with a soft click; reaches for the freezer door, gets a couple of ice cubes, deposits them in his glass and absent minded, puts the half full tray on the counter.  He reaches up into the cabinet, pulls down a bottle of whiskey, pours three fingers of the stuff and puts the cap back on.

He sips it, feels the hot dragon blood of the liquid set fire to his mouth, his tongue, that one sensitive tooth in back and then his throat.  He swallows hard, holds his breath for a few moments (tick tick tick tick) and then lets it out slowly, evenly.

There is little other noise in the house, other than a few soft snores from the couch, the constant hum of a fan, and the click of ice cubes as he drinks (drip drip drip drip drip).  The music is the center of it all, driving, heavy, repetitive.

He finishes the drink, sip by sip by gulp.  Repeats the process of filling it: Ice cubes, whiskey, sip, burn, sigh swallow.

He walks back to the living room, moves her feet to one side, sits down, and then places them, gently on his his lap, closes his eyes and listens.  He listens, sips, listens, and attempts to clear his mind of thought, or for that matter, of care.

It’s all about something, he thinks to himself.  It’s all about something.

It was shaping up to be a much different Saturday evening than he’d imagined.  But that was par for the course, wasn’t it?

He sits and listens until the song plays out, the player arm mechanically, automatically raising and returning to ready position, the turntable slowly spinning to stop.  He rises, puts the song back on, and heads back to the kitchen, pours another.

He sits at the table, sipping fire water, listening to 10:15 Saturday Night and thinks of just what he was expecting of the night.  It’s all about something, right?  It should be about something.

He finishes his drink, sets it down on the dining room table with a soft clunk, stands and walks to the bedroom.  He kicks off his shoes, tears off his socks and flops onto the bed, which is wide, empty and cold.

“You coming to bed?”  He calls out to the dark room beyond.  There is no answer, but the soft stir of a body shifting on the couch, heavy breathing and echoes of a Saturday night.

As his eyes slide close, he drifts into numbness that can only come from the nothing of sleep.

He is stirred from sleep only once, by a distant, mechanical click; if he dreams, he won’t remember them in the morning.

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The Universal

When I was a kid, like so many of us, I used to dream about the future.  Where would I be in thirty years; what would I be doing?

Who would I be?

I find myself using Star Trek: The Next Generation technology on a daily basis; The world political stage is just as chaotic and draconian as any universe penned by Phillip K. Dick, George Orwell or Robert Heinlein.  Every day, we seem to get a little closer to a world where Mad Max could be an actual person, in a world where the sky has been burned, we’ve run out of time, water, resources and hope.

Hope.

My wife often worries about the world that we’re leaving for our children, and our children’s children, should they be lucky enough to still have world that would sustain their continuation.  It’s real, her fear.  It’s immediate, and pressing, and frightening.

And then I look at my sons, my two beautiful sons; both full of love, and wonder, and able to think, and embrace ideas and change, and imagine.  I sometimes wonder if they’ll fix our problems, or have to bear the brunt of it, and ride the storm until it’s end, whatever that might be.

Will they have to fight for every inch?  For their humanity?  For the rights of others to survive and be?  For my mistakes?  For me?

For me?

When I was a kid, the nights used to seem eternal, and not unlike my son, I would ask “How much longer until the day comes?”  I’d wonder how much longer would it be before It’d be my turn to wake when I wanted, sleep when I wanted and to do the things that I wanted.

I’m forty two and I find myself, not for the first time in the last decade, when that time would finally come.

Sometimes I hold on tightly to an idea, to a hope, a dream, to a pain, or worry, and I let it gnaw and gnaw and gnaw and gnaw at me until I find that I’m stuck in a loop, a time pocket–a future that has been sold off to the highest bidder and the bidder isn’t me–a future that has been written, and not written into the story that I want, or hope it to be.

It’s enough to make you stay up at night–wake you up in the middle of the night; tie knots in your shoulders, and wrench at your guts, until you find that your whisper has turned into a scream, that you can only let out in the car en route to the grocery store at 9:36 pm on a Tuesday night; or odd flowing tears while washing dishes; or a moment of dazed contemplation as you’re sitting on the toilet wiping your ass while your wife tries to talk to you through the bathroom door.

It’s that one extra glass of wine when you probably are done; that one last set of reps on the free weights when your arms are already shaking; that one last kiss when you really ought to have already said goodnight; that one more level when you should have just saved your progress shut down the game and gone to bed.

It’s coffee when you’ve not slept enough, when sleep is the much better choice.  It’s hugging your child so tight that they say “Mommy, I can’t breathe.”  It’s punching a wall hard enough to break the drywall.  It’s dancing so hard you sweat your drunk ass sober.  It’s laughing until you piss your pants; crying until you can’t catch your breath.  It’s trying to sneak that one last fart out, only to discover that it’s something more.

It’s scatological.  It’s fear.  It’s sexual.  It’s promises upon promises upon promises of tomorrow.

It’s a child wondering what tomorrow brings.  It’s a grown man wondering if there’s a panacea for what ails you.

It’s universal.

Things never truly, completely turn out how you think, expect or hope for them to turn out.  Not life, surely not tomorrow, and to that end, even this blog entry.

The best you can do, for you, or me, or that kid, our kids, my kids is to take the next thirty years day by day, changing what you can–for the better–and *being* the person  you hope that you’ll be later on.

It keeps me up sometimes, wondering; worrying.  It blasts me like so much information that I freeze up, forget to live and just be.

“Who are you going to be?” I ask myself.  “Are you OK with where you’re heading?”

“I’m just along for the ride,” I retort.  “I’m enjoying it, best I can and holding on for dear life, screaming, giggling, pissing my pants.  It’s a ride, you know?”

“But, aren’t you worried that…you’ll run out of track?”

“I worry,” I say to myself, shrugging.  “Sure, I worry.  But who doesn’t?  I’m doing my best to just enjoy the ride.”

Without thinking about it, about the next turn, the next drop, the next, the next, the next:  I throw my hands up, close my eyes, and wait for what happens next.

Smash

This will be the least pretty thing that I’ve written in a long long while.  It may not last a day, but I kinda need to just write this out to keep myself from freaking.

I’m currently drinking a half assed Manhattan so I can chill my nerves and maybe go back to sleep, though I’m going to wager that won’t be for a while, since my adrenaline is pumping pretty hard right now.  It’s pumping hard and fast and I’m strangely calm, but at the same time freaking out a little bit, and slightly angry, and scared and I’ll just say it, a wee bit paranoid.

At about 10:30ish, I was lying on the couch trying to will myself to doze so that I could get in the bed early, and just sleep there, even though the toddler had decided to insert himself into our bed yet again.  I’d just stared to doze, eyes heavy, sinking down into that place where you just pass the hell out when I heard a series of bangs, a screech, a louder and larger bang, shouts and then screaming.

My eyes popped open and I sat up, and headed straight for the front door.  I flipped open the locks, stuck my head out and through my fuzzy eye-glassless eyesight, saw a white car in the intersection a house down from me; it was on its side, like a half assed turtle struggling to right itself.

“DEB! Call 911–a car flipped over!”  I quickly threw pants on, grabbed my glasses and my folding knife (you never know) and ran out into the street, no shoes, of course.

Folks had gathered trying to push the car back right.  I joined in.  The car was on, the smell of gas was strong, and the car was smoking…wrong…it smelled like something was burning.

The girl was inside, screaming.  A bunch of kids (20somethings…I’m “old.”) were seemingly all piled in the front on top of the driver seat.  To be sure, I have no idea who was driving. It was like they were stuffing a phone booth or something (Look it up, it used to be a thing when kids were dumb but safe and there was a thing called a ‘phone booth’ for ‘public pay phones.’)

We pushed, the car teetered and then fell, righted. Someone opened the door and then people piled out like a clown car.  Two guys drug a girl to the corner, and our back neighbor–a nurse–jumped in and triaged.  Another guy was standing around digging in the car and came out with…a pressurized tank???

“Are you OK???” I asked him.

“I’m cool.” He said, cradling the tank in his arms.  And then he ran down the street.  Something shattered as he beat a retreat.

Another guy had gotten out and was looking in the car.

“Are you OK?” I asked him.

“Yeah, I’m cool. Shit!” he said, looking around.

“Turn it off,” I told him, looking down at my feet and noticing, not for the first time the gas and the glass all over the street.

“What? I’m cool”

“Turn off the engine.  Turn off the car.”

“Oh, thanks.”  He reached in and turned it off, pulled out the keys and stuck them in his pocket.

My neighbor the nurse worked to keep the girl conscious, and try and figure out her vitals, injuries, etc.  The two guys paced and, I think for a minute were considering running off.  One guy dialed the girl’s mom, talked to her in Spanish for a bit and then hung up.

The police arrived and then very quickly, the paramedics/firemen.

Who saw what, did you? Did anyone see the crash? Yeah, what happened? She hit two cars? Any other cars? How many people were in the car? Did you see who was driving? Did you see when they pulled the girl out? Did anyone see when they pulled her out?

I don’t want to get involved.  You know they’re going to have to check for alcohol, right? No one wanted to push the car over, but I was saying just do it.  Cars will catch fire when they’re on their gas tank like that.  I smelled the smoke.  How old? 20? Oh shit.  Did you see the bottle over there? I don’t know, I didn’t see anything, I’m not going to get involved.  Did you see it? No, I heard it.  No, I came out and helped push it back up.

And then they got her on the board with a bunch of screams, one guy got in, and the other guy decided to “just walk to the ER and meet them there.”  And then the police looked around asking questions and then–

“Look, beer bottle, balloons…”

“I saw one of the guys get out and run up the street.  He was carrying a tank.”

“Yeah, nitrous oxide…that’s what all these balloons are for.”

I gave a statement of what I saw, heard and noticed.  Gave my info.

I hope the girl is OK.  Someone said (was it Deb? She came out a couple of times, hugged me….I was…hyper focused?  What do you call it?) she lived down the street.  Seemed like someone recognized him.

Why do I feel like I’m going to get shit later for actually, I dunno, doing my civic duty?  They could have gone through someone’s front door–my front door, they were close enough.  The car could have exploded, caught on fire.  They all could have died.  They, mostly walked away from it, but it could have could have could have…

I did some stupid shit in my twenties–hell, I’ve done some stupid shit in the last year, but now I have kids.  That changes the level of stupid shit I’ll put up with.  But at the same time…Blargh.

I just want to keep my children, my neighbors and folks around me safe.  And that might mean actually telling the police what I saw (See, this is the part of where while I’m all BLACK LIVES MATTER and mean it, I want folks to know that I do, and always have appreciated the JOB that police do–what they largely do–PROTECT AND SERVE); the suck part is that these kids, through doing stupid shit will probably do time. Possibly serious time. Serious stupid is serious time.  But then, you know, some guy with rich parents gets a slap on the wrist for “boys will be boys! Now go enjoy college!” for much more horrible shit.

I dunno.  Sleep is coming on and out and I need another belt of whiskey and sweet vermouth so I can sleep. Because, man, I’m awake.

Shit. Fuck.  Shitfuck.