Wednesday, June 8, 2011

pulled plugs

So, here’s an odd one for you. This guy I know, well, he’s got trouble with his woman. I tried to tell him I don’t talk to people with tucked-in shirts, but he don’t listen, you know? He’s got his own agenda. Always going on about some slight or thing he thinks’s been done to him. Always the short end of the stick with this guy. Never a thing he can do about it, too. Nuts. I tell you. But what’re you going to do when low-to-medium level crushes enter into the arena? But this guy, it’s like he’s built with stitches. I could tell you some stories. Showmanship as pink as adobe walls at sunset. Nothing but a mood to relax in, or out of. With this guy it’s all a computer repair shop waiting to go out of business. Some people never grow out of being themselves. Maybe we’re all somebody else at some point, and then we keep being other people, and we get stuck and can never get back to being just us. Don’t know. Could be he’s just more comfortable with being downtrodden, and he’s sticking to it. A man can’t live on lettuce alone. It’s like when you hear this one song and it gets another song stuck in your head so you start singing the other song, the one that’s not the song you heard, and you can’t remember how this song got stuck in your head, which it is now, and so you start backtracking to see where it came from, and you can’t, you can’t remember. That’s like this guy’s dilemma. It’s not that he’s forgetful. He’s just desultory, jumping from one thing to the next. No concentration or staying power. It’s always off to something new with him. It makes you start to think that nothing matters, that he doesn’t take things serious enough. But that’s not it. He just can’t stay on one thing for long. He’s a stream that just flows and doesn’t know from whence it came. Long time I’ve known this guy. He’s swell. He’s a good egg. Strangeness becomes him. Everywhere we go, he and I, there’s light from above shining down, or below, up at us. It doesn’t matter. It does though when he’s around. I don’t know. There’s nothing fishy about it. He’s just got trouble with his woman. She does him wrong, you know? Sometimes that’s how it goes. Do all of our own personal problems seem that stupid to other people? Probably. Who’s pearly enough to slip by? That bastard’s not making any heads roll. Got to know when to quit, somehow. Leaked, fortunately, my way was the times he spent shackled to barstools, pouring enough whisky into his gut to make a seagull shit its feathers. I made the most of it, at least. Do your taxes and kick the rich to the gutter. It’s a matter of downing one thing to replace another more decrepit thing in your never-ending satchel of things. We’re talking volume, of course, and I don’t mean to make small the guy’s pattering two-step through the fields of deflated, hunkering-down men, but it’s just the opposite really, if you stop and cram about it, like the night before a Scantron test where you’ve got a decent chance of just guessing, or intuiting the answer anyway. But more’s the less for now, and I don’t want to get all pansy-driven with the whole thing. It’s mostly, like I said, a volume issue. That’s enough to get a hand-me-down opinion out of it, as far as I care to go with the matter. World’s enough of wrong without me adding to it. So, this guy, well, he gets to shopping around for a good time, and, well, he sometimes gets what he’s looking for, you know? Nothing official. Just weeping trails leading nowhere special. Had a lot to hang his hat on though, in those times that he acknowledged the need for it. He didn’t have the stomach for holding lies, and he made up most of what he needed with reservations a plenty, and then screaming, “I don’t need you. I don’t need you!” down narrow hallways when it’s too early to be late. The pitter of his hectoring was pattering most of what he didn’t need to say, cured of care, and he wasn’t pleased to be emasculated the way he was mostly all of the time by his Lady Of The Sour Waters, but the telephone booths of his dreams were all out of order or ripped from the wall, so really there wasn’t much left to go on chatting about unless you brought your tennis racket along for company. For a song he’d tie one on like a bandana over his face so he could rob the bank of what you thought you’d get to know or, well, not comprehend because your hands were too cold for that. He wasn’t bare or lacking in the conceptual mechanisms for restraint. It was more of a Larry-Curly-Moe thing, if you go in for smithereenish shit like that. I’ll tell you something about astronauts if you want, but it’ll never take the outer out of space, you know? Same thing. Phased in and out. Choppy and forgiving, too. So, this guy’s got his woman troubles. This guy, he’s a mess. He’s spilling his willpower all over the bar. Raided, a savage for whisky, clouding around, and he mistakes rainbows for jumpsuits, and then, just then, he jacks up the rent and pushes you out a window for a laugh. Don’t get me wrong, or right for that matter, he’s all hammers without nails, but still, you’ve got to keep a wary eye on his maneuvering. Field a grounder. Bunt a guy over. Vest-pocket your wimpy satisfaction. That’s what’ll keep you sure enough to find a current to drift away on. Well, this guy, he goes from zero to drunk in no time, and stays there for a long time. Had to get him outside. He’d eat cockroaches, that guy. Reprimand him about it? No. That wasn’t my job. They can’t train that shit into me. Gun me down with hindsight. It won’t matter. Time won’t tell. Let’s get on with it. Shit. So, let’s absorb a few blows here and marry the affair to the drift of it. God hurt us. Blessed we be with this Shinola. Very tempting, in this way, out of sorts, tempted out of it though, so, here goes, or doesn’t. We’ll see.

Something of a ballast, mostly made of cheap wine and hogwash, kept him righted. I can’t tell you a lot of things, but the few I’ve got are more pith than petering out, that you can be sure of. And this guy, he says things like, “It’s nothing but slag and dross. But enough of that scoriaceous crap. More water. More vegetables. Less sore throats. That’s all I’m asking. My song ain’t going to change much, so get used to it. Let’s fiddle around with the old deal, get a grip on stage presence and putting up a backside to it, and then maybe we’ll have that result of effort and manageable half-asses on our side. Been over and underdone on that front all too many times. Have at it with the rest. Skip me. I’m done and rumpled. Don’t want Monday to come around no more.” Yep. Says things like that all the time. And he gets himself deep into his thoughts, well, then we’ve got whisky-soaked nightmares to deal with, and it’s off with their hats, you know? He also says things like, “I look into the mirror. The thing I see? That thing? It’s not the me that everybody else sees. I can’t see myself like that. I see myself…differently.” He goes on like this pretty damn often. Well, often enough that I’d mention it. One night, maybe, let’s say, you find yourself parked next to him at the bar, and he’s spieling and sputtering, getting himself motioned and maudlin, qualifying the edges of what’s scared to see him like that, there, a pester to any ear close by. I bent mine. Got some bucketful of talk. So, there’s the woman who’s done him wrong. Of course there’s that. Plus, we’ve got conniptions cocktailing away inside him, burstful, and then he’s back on two legs, the barstool tipped and steady though, and shredded discounts to competitors if they can put up with this crazy-legged taunt. And I’m not a softy by any means, you know. But take the red eye out of my photos, please, you know? Well, that too. I could go on, and I would, but this guy, well, he’s burping off what’s left of his standoff, so there’s little to do but wait it out. Raise the bar or bow out. He’s gargling on about the deep-blue sea of his memories or something that’s more porcelain-tinged than that. Borrowed’s better for the most part. On with it, badly though at first, he goes. No help for that. Dressed to stay. Morninged through the days until the nights get the better of neon gone off spluttering sparked contagious blips of joy, or jumpy too, if you will, about what tomorrow’s going to get a glove on only to let dribble through the infield, maybe chalking the grass a bit. He was selling jokes for beers that night, and he’d bundled away quite a few gigglers for the occasion. By the time I got to him he was beer-groggy, sotted and sappy, and the only thing that’d do was more, there being no room for any other ambitions or aspiring to other ends than the ones he’d been greedily filling up on already. Out to lunch. Be back after dinner. That sort of a situation. Borrowed means. I got into the habit of referring to him as A Man Who Was Thursday, but that did little alleviate his paranoia of incognito recognition, or, this is just to say, being apprehended by clockwork ghosts, sometimes howling, “My car! My car! My cupcake for a cup of cake!” It suited him, this sort of thing. And on some once-in-a-while occasions he’d mimic vibrant green leaves scratched with lemon falling through daylight. Those were times that rubied to a shimmer, at least in the pick-of-the-litter way I’ve got of remembering them, that way. Clearly it’s not just a matter of bowing in or around the matter. He’d come at you with his eyes stunned, chewing ice, certain of something irascible scrabbling through to get you caught slightly on and off guard at once. And the charge’d gut you, empty you of pretenses and maybe pirate your purpose too. Duped? Somehow not at all. It’s a courtesy flush for the questioning of your nature. How it affects me, not you, you know? That third-place-finish sort of a thing. Let’s whip up a meal here and fix unlikely attention on stunted contraptions of a real true-blue mensch, a cause for a smile or at least a celebratory wink, something saying, “Here it goes. Here it goes.” It’s all refrangible around about now any new how. Test cases exempted, of course, tanking it for sure, maybe, if going off is leading steeply nowhere, well, then let’s partake in an old deal of rug slicing and wah watusiing the devil out of Noah Webster while we’re at it. Might as well. It’s peek-a-boo or piss-and-pooh, as far as I’ll let on about it. This guy though? He’ll get started in a fish tank and end up bowling you over for spare change. Grab a bucket of rain and start bailing, you know? So, he’s going on about his sorry state of To-Mother-Russia-With-Love shackled resentment, gushing glue-wayed and more than marble for a being’s time, honest-to-the-devil, warm as heaven, and punching back just to please himself. That about does it. Varnish me with peanut oil and play a vulture-bone flute. Sun-eyed, cloud-brained, milked and rerouted, and then he lays this one on me.

“Mosey on out to the cove’s last by-a-breath reaches, out there where the ocean’s swelling without pride, swollen with tears, more likely, like the way a stranger says goodbye, it models moods for the trees, that, of course, we all once wore, dripping with god’s perspiration, pouting with remorseful eyebrows. I am not a piano but she plays me just the same. Virtue, for me, has become passé. Supper’s forever late, and I’m storming kitchens, tying boredom’s twine to firewood that’s too wet to ever burn. I make it out as far as compassion will let me most nights, still. Nope. Not under the volcano yet. Not me. But maybe that dim echo down the staircase is a harbinger of doomed things yet to come for me. Passionate people? It’s something they speak of in movies, or there’s the possibility of love songs. Undertake the stance you never could stand, and all these days and nights go by again and again, and yet you’re still here, just like me, waiting it all out. Salvation’s so far from here when you wish you had another round while I just wish for one last beer. It’s all making that track-cleats-on-asphalt sound, and we haven’t come so far, really, have we? Bargain with me. Come on. I let on about it all all the time. Manage a way through it though. My make and model number are etched on a silver amulet some broad wears around her neck, and she’s my only true love. That’s what I think, at least. No business as unusual as this business. So, let’s accept the changing conception you might have of another person, give ground on a few less fronts. Saturn lies waiting for a ring, you better bet on it. Gosh or golly all over it, then scrub off the grease while the pain’s still bystandering. Hell, that’s what they all say. Like ruined rain, it’s the bordering of hostile reactions, the fiction of mangled third courses still scrounging around for appetizers. Left? Nothing that wasn’t already gone in the first place. Well, buckled into the passenger’s seat I go, dancing with shadows and vanishing swept into the gutter. Hell, it’s whisky weather. Let’s bundle up. I’m leading the back of the charge. Rusty with what my dreams never let on about, like some syrup-headed Bindle Stiff on the lam from comfort and ease. Lowly, but in charge of my personality at least. Caved in. That’s where it all begins. A taking off point, if you will. Or won’t. Never is easy enough to conjure up, and still they’ll be saying ‘was’ about me someday. It’s a matter of being early before it gets too late. So, the question in question here is one about splitting the spilt sand of indifference, taking mushy wet concrete matters into your hands, and here I go getting humble and mischievous at the same time, mulling, and then, well, I started off with the soft stuff and moved past some herded-cattle daymares, that’s where we’ll get our going to for now, and that’ll be forever, for now.

“We had eyes to catch the traces of where it all was going, but being blind to it was easier, so that’s what I was partaking in at the time. Had to keep her at a distance that was becoming more dangerous with each turn of the world. Bargaining was a holdout from simpler times when we’d ogle sunsets and trashcans and people trotting along all loaded-up with clothes from the Laundromat, tumbled and windswept expressions, a keening almost stirring the air; and it wasn’t trouble-- the sky declining invitations to host dark cloudbelly while we waited with clenched hands and pursed lips-- that moved through us, beset by ulcered misgivings, or whatever it might have been that, with problematic jumps from sheets to covers, we were consuming in chunks like raw bacon. I bet drink solves a few things now and then. It seems odd that it wouldn’t, at least twice in a while. But, hell, don’t let me get cranky and blow a gasket over it. There’s no surer way to tell good than by hustling the bad. I’m through with waiting things out; trying doesn’t get me nothing except dissatisfied, and leaves me only with more problems to boot.

“Poor at most things. That’s nothing. Forget about it. Being handy comes in good at a cost. Everything goes, and it goes so fast. Scott free, left like it mostly, and wandering into the scummiest of places, that’s as bad a chance as any I’ll take at being myself into the wee hours. Drained is not how I lurk, and if romance is lacking at home, well, give me a bible and a gun, and send me on my way. Long changed. Hopping down from castled heights. There we go, or I do, again, being amenable to the haddock weather of my whims, or hers, or the ones the barkeep keeps handing up to me from depths I’m sure I’ll sink to find once again, not as steady as this, or that, for that matter, either. God’s hooks, I’ve got a sandblasting nature tonight. I wasn’t always this way; but it’s like when the moon kicks up its heels, or something as so-so as mice rummaging through the floor-dropped scraps I’ve purposely left for them to munch on, or nibble, or whatever it is that they do with bits of cracker and cigar ash. Digesting is for Arabian fish; that’s what I used to always say. If now, maybe, it ain’t so? Well, I still say it, even if it ain’t so much now. I’m less cursed than cured though, if my lies check their veracity at the gates of Eden, so to misspeak. But I carry on nonethemore, sneaking front-and-back-ways through a confidential parlor door. Sure, I get a bit dippy at times, but who don’t?

“I was hard up for a livelihood, scumming about from bar to bar, damaged bads, though up and in also, and a whole lot of neverminding between the skull with just whisky and beer sloshing around in there. Meddling was getting me into the chaperone seat, so I stopped asking and answering, and then just co-opted some mettle to wait out of the whole bell and whistle of the thing, or so I hoped. A one-man think tank sprouting from a barstool. The ideas were dozened out for a dime though, and dusty light bulbs went on with their dim business, hanging from corroded wires, buzzing and swaying slightly. There’s freedom in chimelessness too. Sometimes it’s just hard to admit stuff like this. Necklaces get lopped off in the life of night. You wink and something sparkles there for a moment, then it’s gone and it never comes back. You find yourself staring in the mirror and wondering where this face came from. Lord, the thoughts that go and come. We weld ourselves together from discarded parts, and then this is somehow supposed to make us feel less small? But in here, well, I keep getting gollied around here, and so I drink away the days to forget the nights, and vice versa, you know? Pretty late or ugly soon, it turns out. Well, well. Ahem. And all the likes too. I’m all stuffing and mad-lib headed on these crazy-legged noons. Spray me down with a fire hose and call it an evening. Can’t stand so well, and walking? That’s in of the answer, and here I am left worrying all this worry away.

“She left me. I ran away. That’s the most of it. I kept a lid on my kettle for a time there, shucked my image as a bread-and-buttered loser, while thinking all along that that’s a good way to lose a toe. And the republic falls. And the mayor breaks wind. All over town we hear news about the Mashed Potato flailing back into style, but nobody pays attention to the right things. We’re all just humans here to help each other out, and not just when we find it convenient or when it suits us. Things got to be better than easy but worse than rough. So, go ahead; the sunshine’s not new enough; I can’t wash my eyes in it anymore. Bend me a paperclip; lend me your tears. Powerless, weak, and exhausted. Uncle. Too bad to be false. Uncle.

“Last night’s hero is tomorrow’s bum. Recoup a loss for the sake of one last chance to win. And that girl? Well, one thing about her was that she had the squiggliest hair I’d ever seen. Something chicken-scratched with a pencil. I’d about had it with being normal, so it was a go-figure situation. She was pray-telling and scotch-plastered by the time I got to her, waxing crescent, chummed and shut up, too, if you figure a wallop of guilt in there courtesy of a phone call she was probably not scared enough to make. Find a girl; settle down. That’s got the appeal of a candied walnut, or it should maybe somewhere up the line, if somebody besides god might be asking. My fault? Maple syrup farms are nice to visit, but…

“Try keeping time with the charm of swallow trackers on your trail. Gasoline behind us, thieves just up ahead. Smuggling bashes a few windows of indifference, but I’ve mottled my charisma more than occasionally, and it’s enough to know I’m bottled now, canned and babied to near death, and all here is calm and all is shitty, that’s all I got to make out of it, at most, if the way I see it is seeing it the way it’s seen but never known. She’d suss out a sty in midnight’s moonlit eye, you know the type. Bad for nothing. Cover your telescopes and your bird-watching binoculars; there ain’t a thing to see, boys. The opera’s closed up shop and left town. Now the trains’ve run out of time, and we’re left murdering instincts, hunting suicides until they confess to a crime they’re afraid to commit, battling axed deliverance with a bologna-slice smile. Yep, she gave away the mustard and kept the pickles and olives for the birds. For the birds. Just like love. Now? Well, there’s dancing to be done, and lonely times will never tell. So, buckle up. Hold onto your cats and masks. Goofing around is just around the cul-de-sac a few less times than we’ll never squarely know like this again. Felled just like this, again. And then I’m stooped over observing the lacquered wooden doors of churches, light headed and dizzy as always, day dreaming about sleep that’ll never come; and it’s the outlines of people you see walking towards you: sun-edged, wavy lined things that hold water and have squirmy hair shadows. Then, of course, it’s retreat time. Don’t hesitate or you’ll blow it. But the bustle in my head gets too loud for small talk. Mulishness will not do. Obstacle-coursing through muddled thoughts, differing spots here and there of clarity that don’t do a damn of good for any or all involved, though I must admit I’m like the rest when it comes to feigning action in the constant purgatory of the heart. How greenly didst thou putt, my dear? You know? Just end up confused, but, you know, not bored. That’s a loser-wins situation if you ask this trounced pushpin of a guy. Anyway, the barkeep keeps pushing more drinks across the boards.

“Estimating my time of arrival at 5:53 in the pea em, well, that wasn’t going to do Billy or Francine any of what I consider good. Even if you ask Kendall, well, Kendall, that’s a whole-a-neither-this-or-that story. It’s plausible I was late. That’s what not having a good timepiece will do to one’s ETA. Billy needs propanolol to take a leak in a public bathroom. So, this is coming from a guy who’s keeping much to himself. Just saying. He’s on the shy side. Not one to talk to strangers or bother with others’ problems unless he damn well is forced to. Every night he spills everything he owns on the kitchen floor and picks it up again. Can’t get a bead on that guy, Billy. Shit.

“So I’m supposed to be somewhere, properly, at a specified time, and it’s hard to knuckle out of this promise in what seemed to me to be an assuredly unpromising situation, what with all the hysteria and dramatics over Billy’s new cushy surroundings. It’s like, ‘Snap out of it,’ you know? This was quite the quotable line when we were kids. I get there when I get there. That’s plenty. I think so. It doesn’t matter. Everybody’s an idiot when they’re in love. The trees talk to you, tell you that they’re brainy. I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe in, well, that. It gets later and later. That’s all it does. Ever.”