Saturday, May 5, 2012

what good's grief?

            I can’t help being canned in wonder when cramming long days into shorter ones. Wispy in the throes of the shoehorned side-saddling of it all, there would I be, a la carte and steadfast enough, attempting to thrust a just into a maybe’s so. If anything else, only some guy sweeping up the dead leaves from his little patch of sidewalk squares. It’s inevitable that we end up needful of certain things.   
            George bills himself as stolen property. It’s not a gag. The cops don’t believe him yet, but it seems likely that two or three of these days they will. You know, angels do disregard their own mischief. That’s one of those things that’ll make you smile if you’re not careful about it. The dangers of a little rat-poison tang on the tongue. Only this guy George knows the sulking way into the lungs of the matter. Well, only he and I.
            There’s some scruffy roly-poly of a guy matching wits with a traffic cop. It’s just around the corner from me, so I go ahead and notice it --more because I feel I’ve got to than anything. I do it an a jiffy and it’s over with. The cop’s showing his badge off; the tubby guy’s bending his piddling life out of shape over it too. It’s a pity. Vying for a tie; that’s about all it is. Up against it? Fatter chances than the thin ones I’ve grown so accustomed to suckering myself to, that’s for sure. And that’s it. No more gawking at the circumstances of dopes who can’t tell a cop from a police officer. I’m moving along. Don’t worry. I didn’t see nothing.
            I meet George at ten or eleven at night. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t have the wherewithal to be somebody else. So, I keep moving. George is whistling about the misery of the world. I can’t change his tune. It’s bad, meaning terrible, and I can’t Heimlich it out of him. Sometimes there is just no stopping misery. The lord just ain’t always on one’s side, it seems. Off-and-on we surely might come to terms with this. We don’t. But, you know, we could.
            There are these girls I know; we’re always getting into fistfights. Not me against them. More like them against each other and me. George likes one of them more than just a “like”-- more of a “like-like” sort of thing. He wants to grouse about it. I offer my condolences as best I’m able. I tell him you can’t go around liking girls who get into fistfights. It’s unconstitutional, or at least not good for his constitution. This doesn’t make sense to him, and, I have to admit, it doesn’t make much to me either. But, well, what else are you going to do? Tell the guy he’s no chick magnet and make a break for the cold Kentucky rain? Not this here hand stamper. I tell you something though, it’d do him some good to hear the truth of it. But, ah, he won’t listen. George’d rather talk.
            So, after this whole ado with Georgie Boy, I fan out and bleach my temperament with a few cold ones at Hank’s. It’s a grimy, dark hole-in-a-hole place, and there are only a few retired cowboys and out-of-work machinists in there, so it’s not too bad of a place to duck away in. For the lovelorn bastard in all of us, I put a few George Jones whiners on the juke and mostly just sit there and take good care of my bottle of beer. I pretend that I’ve got a cat at home who misses me. Nobody there seems to like me. I down my beer to the lees and shove off.
            I’m killing bees when I’m not murdering flies. That’s something to say to strangers. It gets far from the point right away. I find it works well at sewing factories and apple farms. People might not respect you for it, but at least they’ll know you’ve got them covered, in case they are one of those who attract bees or get them stuck in their hair. It’s more of a neighborly thing to say than you’d think-- something full of goodwill and courtesy. Sure, I look the other way too, but that’s meaner, if you think about it.
            I’d almost forgotten about old George when the nails of disaster hammered through to me, and this is way past midnight by this point. This is the shriek of wee-hour death that I’m echoing. Not cool enough for school and up for the count. That’s all. So, old Georgie boy is plummeting, and it catches me off guard, scraping along like a hangnail, rotting, as it were, into my vicinity with a reek that could only be described as Lysoling mildew. He’s scrabbling by, or along, and almost runs smack backfirst into me. Pushing back’s about all I can do, and he goes marshmallow-over-cracker into a stack of orange traffic cones. Being attached to the things of this world comes with a price. That’s what I want to growl at him at least. But I don’t. I just glower at him a bit-- that and stand there and try to look shocked and dismayed. It’s about all I’m good for in these non-trying times. Lack is what I’ve got to grow old with.
            It seems Georgie’s been gulping warm mineral water again. He’s belching i.o.u.’s to the saints. I’m a stickler for details when the moon’s spotlight beams through tree branches and yellows a scabby halo in clouds; and it turns out that maybe we need to hear other people’s stories to remind us that our own story isn’t so grand after all. So, here goes everything:
            “I’m forgetful of my pants. I scour the city’s red-lit stretches, near to never wandering, vainly in pursuance of my pants. The plaids are gone from them, in the later stages of night-- if they ever were there to begin this thing. Perhaps a blueberry striped pair of red slacks with yellow polka dots running from cuffs to waistband. We give up (for the strife of converting singularia tantum to pluralia tantum is not recommended for the faint of heart), and we walk culinary mambos between curious bowling pins. Do I blame fabric? Could I blame those heavy situational directions that the most adipose of sense makes? Fatter chances. That’s what I’d tell you about it. But I can’t relate this. It weighs on me. I am useless when it comes to spreading (even lightly) information and ducking the law.”                    
            “Frog get it, Georgie Boy. You make monk meat out of tattered robes. Ribbit. That’s all.”
            “Been futured to the past for the eons of cockroaches, as a defeatist? Sure. That pleases the littlest of gifts I’ve got. Volumes of misunderstood help cold-plate the present. Remember when the hills were so green? All sorts of green, too. Every single kind you could think of.”                                                          
            “I’m leaving.”
            “Could’ve handled that.”
            “I bet.”
            It turns out the world’s not even close to enough with us. That’s what happened.
            After that? Well, we went our separate and unequal ways, long in the tooth enough to know what the deal was. All the way back to the barracks of sloth, that’s where we were trudging off to. Laughing stocks who don’t contribute to God.
            Another little phrase from the mouth of that Georgie Boy: “Don’t harangue me while the coal’s burning in the basement. It is so ‘sunderful’ out.” That’s Georgie’s need for shade talking, there. I get my mortician’s parasol out. The strolling I do comes unnaturally at long last. It is top notch, almost unlike passing bad checks but not at all like getting away with it. Disorientation comes. Exhilaration goes. All of our inside jokes are for naught.
            The shuck of a bus charging uphill unhinges an updraft of joy. Fire escapes shine egg-white slick. Overall there’s not much trudge left in it for me, this halt to wandering that’s just sort of come upon me out of the grand thin blues. Temper’s no longer an option. I’m flush with pink-petal wonder, and it’s only time, after all, that I’m wasting. Good thing, too. It’s almost raspberry-picking season. A barrel of stems, or just the late fermented juice of elation, and now, curses, I’m back to dragging my torn net through the mulch and paw of still waters. But everything’s in bloom, and there’s plenty of tread left on these here tires, so what’ll pass for salvation gets handpicked for getting by, through or with it, just the same.
            Shelving my instincts for perpetual motion, I distinctly hobble on with a stylish limp, sort of nosing towards away, and the serendipity of changing colors collates my perspective for me. Georgie’s a found cause. I’m lost in procedural stifling, and, p.s.-- no longer seeking adventure. Is there another p.s. left that screams, “I want to go home!”? I am picky about what I hope for, and this seems a longer shot in hope’s array. Sprinkled on the air is that curious waiting-room drone: a buzz that’s not staticky at all. It’s pure brain rot, endless repetition of a singular sound, something so cloying and upsettingly subtle that it cranks your mind in the same direction over and over until nothing is different. Nothing is the same. Pear trees slump through another off season, consumed with jealousy, missed flights, and stunted ambition. I think I’ll just collect myself and mosey on towards the next bottle of scotch.