Never heard someone scream so much in my life. Phone receivers aren’t the place to offer any condolences from, much less give a person that kind news. When we were growing up, their family had lived four buildings down from ours. Us in an apartment. Them in a this yellow house. It was one of those neighborhood kid friendships. One where your parents know the other kid goes to the same school as you. They suggest you guys walk together. Safety in numbers and all that. Started out pretty quiet and all, least from my end. Billy talked a lot. As the new kid, I didn’t mind so much. Once I started talking, it didn’t take long to where we’d be ripping on each other all the time. Not mean like. Just friendly jeering. From 3rd grade on it was like that. Just us 2 neighborhood boys, then guys. Pretty typical really. First porno mag from my older brother behind his shed. First joint. First time we split a bottle of anything stronger than the occasional beers our dads used to let us have at neighborhood block parties, stronger than the kitchen cooking wine we’d spike from the deli. All shared like brothers, even though I had two and he had one. The whole academic thing never really played out for either of us. Billy actually read stuff. And when I said I did, I could usually bullshit my way through pretending I did. Or I was just so skinny and tall that no one paid me much mind anyhow. Both Billy’s parents were teachers, so books were a thing since he was little. I sorta skated by behind him.
When we got older, no one really minded the two of us running out of there to Chicago. Nobody was all that surprised. Artsy type kids like us were expected. Formula like. Then from Chicago to London after about 2 or 3 years. Can never really remember Chicago. It was Billy painting and fucking the girls that always came with the whole charming, well-read artist vibe. I didn’t care. Wrote poetry, kinda quiet, that was me. Did alright at local readings, mild success. Even had the occasional pitying girl myself. But London worked. For both of us really. American poets seemed far more grittier amidst all those accents and cardigans. Posh rebellious prep girls started gravitating toward Billy. Buying his artwork to date him. Dating him to piss of their well-endowed parents.
But that crowd is never really done. There’s something about having the ability to have everything that makes everything not right and seeking out oblivion is the only solution to the solutionless fervor of it all. So there’s the nights where getting closer to that line, that burning red seems like the solution. It’s the darkness that actually has the power to end you, but if you toy with it hard enough and know how to slide in and out, you escape the darkness, but only for awhile. Feeling invincible they call it. Feeling like every time further you escape it, is another level of just how cool and invincible you are. So you stick your whole hand into that burning red. Pulling it out and those around laugh that you made it back. Wrecked, yet still invincible. Stumbling around, wrecked, slightly burnt, still there. Hilarious that someone went to a little to far that time. Except when you’re that person, the punchline. But give it a few days. It’ll move to another person.
you put another hand in. Maybe the same one to get the same feeling. It’s warm and inviting, like the last time. But it’s not enough. So more. Both hands. Your arms. Stick your head in. Up to your shoulders. Torso. Stick in a leg, because hey if you’ve got one left you’ll be able to pull yourself out. Grounded to something. Barely. But there. Still Invincible. But that last push. When you step with both feet. The red that turns to black. No more warmth. Red that turns to black and doesn’t give back. Everyone sitting half in the red, constantly going back and forth, says you weren’t strong enough to pull yourself out this time. Just couldn’t do it. They can go into the red. For now. But it all ends the same. One of two ways. Those whose parents are white and clean and cold take the red away entirely. Those who chalk it up to childhood antics and/or who cut their kid off completely soon meet the blackness. One they either ignored or were too fed up to give a shit about. Which now has Billy to add to their community of mischief. At first, he could pull his hand away pretty quick.
Getting rid of the most recent girl and the most recent incident. Saying that the red was good but once the withdraw cleared, he didn’t miss it. But then there was Angie. Both parents dead. Sole 17 year old with no clarity. No shiny parents, just all their resources. Broken and Billy took care of her. But he didn’t have the heart to let her got red alone. And watching without participating was never fun to him either. So in. Then further and further and further. At the time I had one thing published. This collective project a couple of us had put together. Billy hadn’t done anything as of late, except shitty abstract murals in living rooms for the likes of Angie. Getting paid in red. Cause the hell did they care. It’s only fitting that I received the phone call. Bolted from the room, shattering a glass, leaving my then partner to explain to our guests that I wasn’t usually that neurotic and unpredictable.
Most people in the apartment had scattered. Not wanting to get busted, like a bunch of cowards. The remaining few had thrown him into a tub and ran cold water over him, trying to jolt him out of it. Of course had someone called an ambulance and they’d pumped his stomach, he’d be in my living, cuffed to the radiator, until he was level headed again. So I call his mom. Cause from 3rd grad on he’d been this pseudo brother, thick and thin and all that. I knew his family from four buildings down. And Angie had bolted, not that she’d be of any use anyhow. But you can’t sit a person down over the phone. You can’t hold their hand. You can’t pat them on the back, or offer them a handkerchief if you’re one of those guys. Not through a phone anyhow. To tell a mother her son was gone by darkness. The black that doesn’t give back. Nor could you get the screaming to stop. None of those things through a phone.
I love my mentor, my topic, and all the work that has gone into this project.
"Rather than making large corporations responsible, rhetoric dictates that environmental efforts are the responsibility of the individual. While this is true, the reality is that the individual does far less harm to the environment than patterns of continuous waste production perpetuated by corporations."
Humbled, beaten down and inspired by all the stuff I’ve read and all the words I’ve written.
[Watin on the Wind]
I met a girl who tended bar about as fast as a parked car/They say she was the slowest on the lower east side/I say she had no sense in time going home with more than dimes and nickels in her pocket so let’s move it along/Yeah people here need something strong cause the day was long
And I saw a guy who rode a bike and he thought it meant that his life was better and more important than anybody else/Yeah but yes his life is of value but so is mine and yours is too/Don’t need so angry so let’s give it a try/Yeah people here haven’t seen a smile in a long long while
And I don’t where I’m going but I hope when I get in/But I’m not sure if I’ve really seen or just dreamed the places I have been/And I got the kite I got the string, I’m just waitin on the wind
And I shared the stage with a gentle giant and pulled the wool over lots of eyes/I need glasses when I drive but I can see just fine/But she sees the frightened little boy who wouldn’t want to share his toys Oh unless he could get something better in return/Oh yes life is too damn short for that this much I have learned
Yes and accolades are pretty nice but not as nice as being nice to your brothers and your sisters once they kill the lights/I got exiled and I headed west with cuts and scrapes and no regrets/And lessons just as plentiful as the miles I flew/But I’ve been sleeping pretty well at night, how bout you?
And I don’t where I’ve ended up but when that I get back/I’m so nostalgic for phases of my life often before they even get a chance to pass/Yeah I’ve got the car, I’ve got the keys, there’s just nothing in the tank
I’ve kissed the girl that shook her head and said that rock n roll was dead/They say that pretty soon hse’ll have her name in lights/And I say she doesn’t know what’s what, perhaps she will when she grows up That girl must not’ve listened when she heard Neil Young/Now hey mama bye bye I hope you’ve had some fun
These days I try my very best to help and just keep back that stress Of simply just existing cause you know how that goes/And I hope I do my body good and while I’m at it guess I should/Aim a little higher than I did last night/Cause I’m not getting any taller but I’m getting closer to the vine
But I’m sorry if I hurt you/I’m sorry if I misstep/But I may never really mean to, but I’m afraid that I might not be done yet/So let us seek not forgiveness, let us seek not to forget/Don’t wish, try to remember, try a little more instead/And I try looking in the mirror before you look any place else/It just might give you something that can help
we could all use a little more of that/This much I can tell
When we started. The beginning. There were sharp bits of plate. They lay strewn all over the floor. She had been in a hurry, bustling from chair, to table, to counter, and repeated in a variety of combinations, collecting things they would need for later that night. But he hated dinner parties. He just wanted to spend time with her, but she always wanted to impress other people, at least that’s how he saw her. She claimed he never talked to her. But how could he with everyone else around all the time. Her rushing to and fro, and then smack. The doors to the china hutch weren’t usually open. They didn’t usually use those dishes, so the plate was usually safe there in the middle of the top shelf. It was a family thing, the plate, not the dinner party. Either she closed the silverware drawer too quickly or had knocked it with her hip. Either way the plate hit the floor.
From that central impact point of beneath the hutch, the pieces scattered everywhere, like the ripple effect from a drop of water. And I came like a burst of another chain reaction. Their disconnect. Her need of outward happiness. His want of quiet intimacy. Her moving around. His trying to get her attention. Then the broken plate. Like a pivot point. Current frustration into tangible breakage.
He clenched his fists and began to tremble, but kept me all inside. She apologized over and over and over again. He replied that it was fine over and over and over again. It wasn’t fine. She knew it wasn’t fine. With a flash of red and shaking heat, I was there. Black like tar, sickeningly bitter, but easily bogged down by obligation. There were moments following the broken plate where I would sit behind his teeth, on the cusp of his throat. He kept me down and inside, a constant reminder, but a constant warmth.
She ran and got the broom trying to reconcile the larger pieces, positing that superglue could solve the problem. He told her to forget it. Again, that it was fine. It wasn’t fine. He hastily grabbed the dust pan from her hand, stomping over to the trash, slamming his foot on the pedal, and pitching it in. For a moment, with time consciously suspended, he thought of snatching the pieces out of the trash. He also thought of picking up the whole metallic trash can and chucking it across the kitchen at her. Both wasted thoughts. He felt me well up inside, but he just let the weight sit, took his foot off the pedal that was keeping the lid open. It drops down with a clamor. He takes a deep breath. Drops his shoulders, turns around with furrowed brow and clenched fists.
I’m sorry I exist. I showed up the night the plate was broken. I think he knew I’d been there all along. But the broken ceramic shards strewn about the floor. Each shattered sliver poked him with the fact that I was there. I didn’t want to be. To be causing such strife, such resentment. He harbored me in the pit of his gut. For 10 years. But when I was out, okay more like unleashed, I couldn’t be stop. Every bit that I was came pouring out of him. He didn’t finish until I was completely out of him. Which was good for him, but bad for them. Bad for everyone I then came in contact with. I charged through anything and everything. My black stain leaving a mark on all the other light ones. Of course it was my nature. Not my fault, just who I am. Which frankly makes it worse. Makes me more sorry that I exist. I’m sorry I exist. But that’s the end.
[Part 1 of a story I’m writing from the point of view of anger]