Saturday, March 14, 2015

Misleading The Way

“Gin martini, straight up, heavy on the olives.”
“How many’s heavy?”
“I don’t rightly know. Three. No. Five.”
“Let’s agree on four, then. I gotta watch the inventory on garnishes best I can. Gin’s a-whole-nother thing.”
“You know what they used to call gin?”
“Blue Ruin. And beer was Heavy Wet.”
“Have another, will you?”
“Well, you know, these things probably ain’t cheap. And besides, I’m going steady with another bottle of gin. Don’t want to make it jealous.”
“Gosh bless you.”
“Nobody sneezed.”
“I’m preparing for an unknown future.”
“Settling in, no?”
“Perhaps the mood’s defunct, or at least deficient in airy wonder.”
“All I notice is all I got.”
“Cherries are all picked. Better back that rig up.”
“Hedge all the bets, too. Fearlessness backs up worry’s tough-guy stance with cashless transactions of kill-or-be-buried-alive politics.”
“Hell, put the artillery away, will you? Somebody’s going to get an accidental bullet to the chops. Besides I’ve got a heavy date coming in here in a bit.”
“How’s that?”
“I don’t know. It just happened. She’s a tiny wisp of a thing, just under a bill, and she dresses like a Russian Peasant. The kind of girl you wouldn’t think twice about hefting up over the threshold.”
“I’m getting in of there.”
“Trust me, it’s a bargain to be born this late into things. A real inert reaction to medicinal motivation. I just can’t get myself to believe that it’s butter, or whether it makes a difference, or if butter’d be better, or if not believing that it’s not butter is the better option to retreat with. And guffawing’s all I’ve got to show for it.”
“Don’t let the NSA catch you crying. Hold your phone at arm’s length. Place all the trinkets of your past in recycling containers. Be false to all senses of self, or selves, or others who categorize your delicately applied indifference as being a sucker for a girl in cowboy boots.”
“But just think of all the displaced citizens currently residing in a tent city beneath a freeway overpass who go batty with waiting. Are we blaming the right structural fixtures for the complacency of the passed-over many?” 
“I’ve got to just start being more daring.”
“Therein’s the rubric we are too shallow to follow. All the whimsy’s in the getting. And we get by with it for the satisfaction of appeased appetites and unruly sight-setters.”     
“I’m in desperate need of a guru.”
“A watchful, mindless grace imbues your lackluster spirit. Keep rummaging around in the red. Empty’s just a clear-cut in the forest of glum, aspirational, dance-move gestation. So, go ahead and shortchange yourself. What’s the point of all this itch-scratch-scratch-itching that you’re plying.”
“Better get a refill, here.”
“Who’s babbling?”
“I left this conversation a good while ago.”
“Another necktied bastard with his thumbs up.”
“Is that bartender ever coming back?”
“The chances are extremely unknown. Maybe we should take matters into our own fists.”
“I’m giving myself a standing ovation.”     
“Not you. Does it really matter after that?”
“Praise be the holier momentum of these wishy-washy times we abide in.”
“I’m back.”
“I’m front.”
“Well, competition’s the gray day’s wane, and I’m none for it, any of the ways. Been beaten down too much to care what I’m being kept from. Get me another and another, and then another two, too.”
“Thought you split with that bowler from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.”
“Nope. I left him for a bottle of Pernod and a rack of flashy gowns.”
“Play it perilous, kid. We’re all from not-around-there. And they're playing craps in the drained fountain on Boardner's patio again.”
“The sky’s sweeter than a bagful of jelly doughnuts, bursting apart all pink and orange flames, scratches of bright streaking through baleful tatters of cloud, and we’re stuck in here discussing and ordering our own demise. Misery loves its own kind.”
“Well, the water pressure’s been downgraded to low in my building. Showers are a sad affair again.”
“Nobody lives the magic long.”
“I’ve just become a stock character witnessing these live events of my life unfold.”
“Where’s Lady Addendum?”
“Not far off, I figure.”
“Or left, or rights away, too. Maybe the culled stoicism of reformed lunatics will assuage the guilt of grumbling through the years. Man’s inhumanity to God and all that blowharding. Fellows, we should all take that drink now.”
“That last long swim.”
“To cash-hungry rapscallions on a scarecrow’s diet with an easy touch.”
“To last laughs and later loves.”
“To be restless moonlight resurrected by daylight.”     
“To fishy love: an old relentless song a drunken fiddler plays.”
“To air-conditioned cocktail-lounge songs and more foes than any honest man could count.”
“Patch it up. Down the gullet. To triumph and broken chains.”
“Playing quiet?”
“Another hard night to get through.”
“A voluptuous crucifixion: the featherweight burden and bitter beauty of being alone.”
“Did you hear the one about the nihilist who found meaning in nihilism?”   
“He imploded with importance, with…mattering. It was all, well, not enough?”
“One is always, at best, alone.”
“Where’d that old blonde girl run off to?”
“Some place sadder. Somewhere more kind and gentle, and less human.”
“To outrun a few more devils before injuring any more of God’s creatures.”
“Just more betrayal of despair. Blanched sky and all, we get the least out of it, not so courageous now, are we?”
“One of these days we’ll stop running at our loosest ends. We’ll rest well and often. We’ll scrub the mud from our worst deeds and get set free.”
“A woman’s presence is required.”
“Of course. Of course. Of the most casual and complacent course.”
“You know what I say?”
“Too much.”
“I say this: dance with beautiful girls. The rest works itself out.”
“So you say.”
“So I do.”

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Liquid Daylight’s Meniscus

A frivolous young woman, with a brand-new pair of dancing slippers and a mouth like a valentine. She goes out, laugh in hand, without as much as an easy time to never have again. Backwards. That’s how it always happens. In good-old reverse, permanent rewind, at the beckoning globules of nose drippings from a certain dubious cretin. That’s the reckless way the story usually rolls. Life: just a boring way to go through the motions and watch other people have all the fun. I sure could use a special occasion now and then. Sometimes your head just gets stuck, and you’re done for. I know. I’ve dated my share of cocktail waitresses. Named 19th century presidents all in a row. Put the sights away for later, the lead bringing up the rear. Not for something, all pastures gone to heaven. Butterfly Weed for the whole cacophonous mess. Mostly all’s just trying. The scrimmage for attention, bowed or hunched shoulders scuffling by in scuffed shoes, drawn, only noticing what will keep the process going until the final grinding halt of existence. Longshoremen, daffy and dull, wipe tired smiles from daylong grinds, eying lady’s asses with quick double takes as they stroll by, say close to sunset on a muggy late September day. A crazed beeline for the Underground, the trains echoing up morbidly through the street’s grating. Nobody’s asking the time. The Russian’s aren’t coming. Giant cranes take in the scene from godly heights. Construction’s taken over. Noise is all there is.
Then I just thought, ‘Well, I’m going to be dead someday. I might as well do something with my life while I have it.’ Then it all just started to happen. It was easy. Nothing to it. I was only surprised by how little any of it mattered, and the less I cared about it the easier it was. Typically I only wavered on Wednesdays and Sundays; and even that was of little help. My overall demeanor was mildly disinterested. A hurl was slopped in my head to tinker with drafty thoughts: a natural kempt hold on what tried to never be there, or just a nodding off to precipitate rational reactions to other more dizzying flights.     
“There just wasn’t anyone to talk to tonight. So I got scared and came over here. Here? Here’s where the flophouses get flipped for somebody else’s living. Bottle it all up, shut in, there. There? There’s here’s other motivation. Try me. When it rains we pour. Freeze-dried Americana. Remind me about when there were better things to come. Because, I tell you, a looser tie you won’t find. Your dilly’s my dally, Parlay Vu. And before any tick’s attack you’ll find limes in the freezer, spoiled, left for comatose, creasing and golf-ball pocked. Stalwart and underfed. Fended off. Bored and elated. Badly punctuated. TV staring. Pajama wearing. Head in a sling. Worried about every last thing.

“There’s got to be casement for it, you know? Some outsides to hold it all in. Well, who knows, or can tell, what’s the beef, not where, no, but what, of course, you know? See? Well. Yeah. You heard me. Well. Well. Well. It’s a scorched matter of scalding facts that beat the shit out of, once and after all, the dreary way you make sense of these fuckers doing the fucked-up shit that they do. Ignite. Incite. Whatever. I’m bored with people so easily offended. Go take a bath and get over it, you sissies. There are more horrible institutions making your breakfast goodies than in all the cartoons you’ll ever not see. And that’s the thing. Why do you feel the need to look? If you don’t want to see something, well, just look at something else. There’s no shortage of stuff to see, you know? Gentle looks and big, dark eyes aside, we’ve got to come to grips with being spared or the world will rip us a new one.”   

A few laughs lots later, a man enters a small office building brandishing a tennis racket and a pocket bible. Riotous applause, please. Thank you. Now, this guy’s befuddled over some minor trivialities in his demeanor. Nothing suitable or “at will” if that’ll do. “Be little so as not to be noticed.” Some bad advice, followed, and he’s in under his ass. Can’t just will these things away, you know. He takes out a solar-powered calculator and starts crunching numbers. Mild laughter. That’ll do. And he thinks, ‘Just some ramshackle tabernacle.’ And the choir’s warming up in the basement with some seriously phlegmy throat clearing. “Lookin’ mighty likely that it’ll try to scare up some rain here,” goes the building’s Water Officer. Highly qualified to make distinctions twixt the norm and the careless & unusual, the customary and the cosmetic, and soon to not solely just be a “cop” in terms of position but a worn and recklessly edgy cog in the lower-down movements, not unlike a battered cello in need of some heavy-duty servicing. Some shocked calm here, please. Thanks a bunch.

“To pee or not to pee. Or to forever hold your pee,” he quietly asserts. “Level me, soon. I need a John close by at all times, like a strapped-for-cash Lady Of The Night. Maybe with steam coming out of the manholes while she balances herself ass-down atop a fire hydrant, heels kicked up, alit there like Grace Kelly or something, maybe the moon’s glint and the streetlights hazy shine providing the backdrop a halo of class, schmaltzy as it all might be, before reality crumbles her dreams to a morbid halt.” He totters, swung low. The wall holds him up. His lean comes in quick, feet still flat, about as delicate as a bulldozer, as he tries to pluralize his bearings, and his shoulder takes the brunt. ‘Pain’s all that’s real, now. Pain’s all there is.’ A comforting thought that surrenders all other thought to eternity’s tiny grasp. Blunt and traumatic. Forcefully adept. His instincts trigger nothing suitable to surviving. Plus, there should be some gasping and oh-my-god stuff here. Okay. That’s about right. ‘Keep moving. Keep moving.’ The refrain assists his ambulatory struggle. A heaviness lightly strums in his boots. ‘I’m not much of what I always am. Just an idea in others’ heads. Just something dreamt up and put here for kicks. I don’t imagine any of this will last.” Down the primrose path he continues. All’s as it should.

“We cannot keep compensating you for the use of the unused portion of the premises. Here’s your mask. Put it on. Save face. Be critical. Take your clothes off. Leer. Bring that body over here. Have a blessed afternoon.”

So, the guy slims and slides along the wall. A purr’s excuse for a whimper, a sidled prayer. A shush followed by some awed gasps perhaps. Voices recorded in a bathroom. Pretty good.  So long Marianne. The glow’s gone from the cheek, but he’s still at it, again and again, while over the intercom a hushed booming voice declares a state of mandatory incongruous dismay: “Who’s left to withstand the pummeled? Deeper shallows of swallowed reasoning conduct their own all-thumbs investigations into these sucker-punched situations. Standards of decency be damned. Drawing distinctions is for the petty and softer-lensed. Be of good care. Take cheer. There’s a moan here somewhere with nowhere left to go. Silence. We’re through.”

Stumped. The mortician’s slumped out of thought. The ceiling’s pocked, Styrofoam, stringy zucchini strands dangling in the a.c.: the confetti of modernity’s rusty interior waving in the chemically antiseptic breeze. Sporting a tweed Chesterfield coat with a gold cigarette holder clenched sideways between a few cracked molars, the guy wends his wiry way through the slightest of gestures. Nothing noticeable let go of at the right moment. And so the burnt-out ex-holy man states his case: “I’m standing as close as possible to the TV from here on out.” A real sketchy marginalized sort of foul-mouthed beast, something to be pounced on, never-questioning looks, expeditions lusted together through halos and sobs, tepid insight doomed to colder smiles, postponed restitution, the closing of all doors. And then the odd-toed among the creatures got even.