The rum slugged forth from the bottle, much like suffering a urinary tract infection.
Growling in a similarly stunted sloppy fashion to no one, he cursed while watching some nectar splash helplessly past the glass’s rim, onto the perpetually crumb-filled countertop.
The idea of inspecting the bottle’s pour for possible logjams never occurred, as he relished a certain unforeseen satisfaction in failing even this simple task of drinking himself to death.
From the floor, his cat sat licking in solidarity errant drops that reached their snout. Much like their master’s, the measure was enough to numb, never enough to kill.
His eyes poured over her while watching another “indie” film that would linger long after the TV dimmed, the subsequential lovemaking exhausted.
They’d avoided speaking of the idea of “love,” as both previously had been ravaged by the self-serving narcissists each entrusted theirs with. Ignoring tomorrows unguaranteed, they instead relished Todays spent together.
Gazing upon her now, he filled with joy previously unknown. A joy he wanted not just tonight, nor tomorrow, but lifetimes to come.
Her cat nestled atop them as the movie plugged along, almost hinting that here is where he too should stay. Here he’d find life anew.
Admittedly, I had drawn this one up sometime ago, and even had it proofread to ensure that I chose the proper of two endings.
Still, it had a Halloweenish tinge to it, so I saved it till just now, this very week, in order to post.
Week next(ish) we’ll jump back a year again, and until then and as always, I hope you enjoy.
The year was 1974, the song was “Love’s Theme” by Love Unlimited…
She hated his music, loathed it in fact. Always loud, obnoxious, screech-laden and filled with lyrics that she attributed to having mostly been something akin to blasphemy, had they been intelligible in the first.
She hated his music, truly, and the very worst was when he would go rumbling off into the shower, plugging his witches lament into the decrepit portable CD player that marred the otherwise docile air of the tiny white tiled bathroom they shared. Once the water was piping hot, the music too would begin to pipe through from under the bathroom door ajar’d, along with the steam and whatever pent-up anger he was washing off from his day.
She hated his music, but she tried her best to put up with it. They were roommates after all, and people who lived with each other needed to adapt. Her way of doing so was to try to ignore it as long as she could, hoping that it would cease before she lost her already loosened screw. Sitting in the hallway just outside, she would mentally try to tune down the cacophony, tight-lip screwing her face into a grimace worthy of dysentery while waiting on the silence.
She hated his music, and as he took dreadfully long showers, apparently playing an imaginary concert in his mind while lathering his body down, she could never find it within herself to outlast the audio carnage spewing forth, the billowing shower’s steam muffling it far too little. As a result she would often find herself wafting open the bathroom door, while dashing quickly into the haze of steam and heat. Being careful as to not look directly in on him while running over to the CD player, she would quickly paw the STOP button before bolting from the room in as hasty a fashion.
She hated his music, and knew he hated when she pulled this stunt as she could hear him scream bloody blue, seemingly at the CD player, over this abrupt silence. She always hoped for the best, but in each and every instance, it wouldn’t be but in a few heartbeats time before she would hear him splash from the tub and angrily stab the PLAY button once more to announce his encore of loud.
Today she watched him again on his bathroom sojourn, though this time proceeding sloth-like, gingerly placing a CD that she rarely saw him with into the player’s tray, instead of his usual fare. She was not surprised by the selection this time, as she had overheard the conversation he’d had just minutes before. She couldn’t hear what was being said from the other end, but by his reaction it was plain to see that he had had his heart broken once more.
Just like the last time, he immediately took all the blame – though in her opinion, just like the last time, nearly none of it rightfully belonged to him. And again, just like the last time, he immediately grabbed for his usually unused Barry White disc, a present from his now-deceased mother who truly never did understand his musical stylings either. Something about this disc must have somehow brought him closer to his mother, possibly the only woman ever who never demanded anything from him, never verbally bullied him, never made her love conditional, and never gave up on him.
In this context, the title track, “Love’s Theme,” blared more mournfully than most others would hear it, and – as he had the rigged the player to do so – tonight at least would immediately repeat itself each time its dulcet tones faded into silence.
She hated his music, but she loved this song. And she loved him even more. So much more so in fact that her heart would often flutter, as if it belonged to that of a schoolgirl, over the mere idea of their being together. As such she couldn’t understand why, especially given all the disasters he had had with his other relationships, he never once even thought to give her a try. She knew him better than anyone else, she too never demanded nor expected anything from him, and in all the years he’d lived here with her, she had never once – not even with the loud and obnoxious music – thought about giving up on him. As the song entered something like its 800th iteration, she decided to pull her stunt just once more, but this time she wouldn’t run from the room. This time she would wait for him, and talk with him, and express herself to him. This time would be different. This time he would notice her.
She hated his music, but this time was different. This time the silence fell like a temple wall on the mourning, like the dropped casket in a quiet church. This time, instead of running, she sat quietly down in the chair across from the shower, waiting for him to acknowledge the silence and her. Time stood still for a moment, which meant forever, which meant it was over before it began, and the solitary slam of his fist against the wall alerted her as to what sort of mood she’d have to first contend with while telling him of her love.
“GoddammIT!” he quietly yelled into his chest, and then again louder to the ceiling. “Why can’t you give me just this once? Just this once without randomly turning off mid-song???” he tore open the curtain to see the room as it always was, foggy, white tiled, small, and empty of all life sans his own and that of the nameless cat that lived with him. He had no idea why the feline was just sitting there again staring intently at him, nor why that damned CD player would constantly shut off like it did. Lord knows he had paid enough for it not to do so. He went to hit the PLAY button again but then stopped mid-thought as he saw his raisinesque digits and realized that he’d probably shriveled in his lament long enough.
Drying off, he turned out the lights and scratched the top of the cat’s head absent-mindedly before leaving the room. He mused as she walked close enough by his side as to squeeze through the door with him that he should probably name her one day – hell, besides his mom, she had been the only other woman who’d never given up on him…
Jumping back one year to 1971, we are joined by Cat Stevens, speaking more fluently in just over 3 minutes time of his heartbreak than I ever could, even if I’d seventy-times seven times as long to do so.
Now if “Spinning Wheel” was a song that caused my mind to stumble over it’s meaning, Mr. Stevens “Wild World” left me little doubt as to what was to come once “love” bloomed. Sadly, many more times than I would have anticipated.
To follow is what bubbled up while using this track as my prompt, and as always, I hope you enjoy…
She meant everything to me, and now she’s gone.
I just can’t. I can’t even go on. I can’t because of all the people in my life; she’s the one I thought would be mine forever.
Why can’t she be mine?
Why can’t she just still be mine?
I love her. I love her as I love the sound of the springtime birdsong on a late winter’s day. I love her like I love the taste of hose water in the dead raunch-heat of summer. I love her as I love the smell of warm pumpkin pie slathered in whipped cream during the crisp fall, with air chill just enough as to beckon forth fair warning of the dead season to come. I loved like this, and in ways indescribable. I loved her in a fashion that mere language fails to comprehend, let alone express.
Now she’s gone. She’s gone after another, or after no one. She’s gone and moved on to whatever adventure she felt I could not be a part of, and my heart is suffocating at the thought of it. My mind reels over the impossibility. My soul moans over both her not being here with me, and in her being happy wherever it is that she is now.
Please, don’t misunderstand. I want her to be happy.
I do, really.
I just wish, I wish… Well, I wish that she could be happy with me. She was my everything; my life and my love. I just can’t imagine being alive anymore without her presence and her scent to comfort me, her smile and laugh to warm me, her strength and her bravado to shoulder me, and her innocence and grace to inspire me.
Damn it, she meant everything to me, and now she’s gone!
And I am so alone.
So terribly, frighteningly alone.
Of course, there’s also the family and friends to contend with. What do I tell them about us? How do I ever break it to everyone that she’s gone? How could I possibly explain in a way that would make even a fraction of sense out of this senselessness? I’ll let them blame me of course, for even in her deserting me, I couldn’t stomach to see her slandered. No, I just couldn’t.
I love her that much.
I wish her well, truly I do. And I mean her no harm. Not even after how deeply she hurt me; scarred me. No, not even after all that. Not even though as a result of her treachery I will never love again…
I just don’t know what I’ll tell everyone yet though, to break this news disastrous. But I do know that I need to get out from under this funk just long enough as to come up with some sort of story. I mean after all, the school year IS almost upon us, and of course last anyone knew, we were joyfully together as a happy couple when second grade came to a close.
I just can’t even imagine having to start third grade without her…
It’s odd that, as a huge music snob (in stature versus size) I would not have known of this before, but when my friend recommended it to me, I just had to jump on board. I don’t know what it’s called in actuality, but the idea is to post on your social media weapon of choice a song a day for as many years as you’ve been alive, with enough such days allocated as to take you up to your actual birthday. I found out about the exercise 2 days prior to my day of birth, and jammed out all 47 tracks within that time, and through more than several cocktails.
Again, maybe I was wrong in this, but I had thought that you were supposed to, for each year represented, choose a song released within that year, only it if it said something about your life in that time. And that’s what I did. It wasn’t too long after that I realized I could write a little story for each song selection here as well. And that is exactly what I am doing now.
Starting today, 1969. With Blood, Sweat and Tears.
I hope you enjoy…
“What goes up,
Must come down…”
Story of his life, that lyric would end up being, but at that moment Teddy was far too young to know that. In fact, at that very moment, as the song lilted above the din of his mother’s prepping dinner, Teddy didn’t even know what the song’s story was about. The spinning wheel and painted pony he imagined were not connected at all, and in no way ever coagulated in his mind as the Ferris Wheel that everyone else surely would have envisioned.
He didn’t like the song for this reason. It confused him, and he loathed feeling confused, in part because it was a feeling he had far too often. He didn’t like the song, so he ignored it, opting instead to sit quietly at the kitchen table while he slowly rolled the slice of salami that served as his pre-dinner snack. The salami rolling was ritualistic, though if he ever took the time to determine what ever started it, he would have never come to an answer. It worked something like this: he would first fold each slice in half, secretly rejoicing in the grease that oozed onto his oft times dirt-stained fingers in the process. After folding thusly, he would then roll the slice into itself clockwise until it became a fattened cone shaped morsel. And, being highly anally attentive, he would then confirm that on the open end of the cone all the rolled layers of his creation were somewhat equal, without instances of too many dips or valleys between them. If the symmetry was not evenish, he would unroll disgustedly and start again. Only when it looked “just right” would he plunge his teeth greedily into the whole unholy mess, destroying his carefully crafted creation within two swift bites.
“Ride a painted pony,
Let the spinning wheel flyyyyyyyyy…”
The damned song continued on. The deep, knowing baritone of the singer making Teddy feel even more inadequate in his adolescent confusion on the subject matter. He dismissed the sound again while methodically munching on his meat, imagining instead that he was able to make himself very small. Small enough in fact as to clamber under the same baseboard as the ants he had been observing doing so industriously at that moment. Once under there he imagined he would find a new world, one safe from harm. A world where he would matter, maybe even become king of the ants, or at least find others who also were like him, others who wouldn’t hurt him.
Teddy did this a lot, running away in his imagination to places where he mattered, places where he would fit in, and not get picked on or beat up. Places where he could be a king or a hero. Years later, Teddy would meet his Rosetta Stone of such diversionary tactics in a little remembered sci-fi movie he saw, wherein a lonely boy becomes a solitary star fighter that saves the universe. The whole entire universe; even the people that used to beat on him. And then, oh boy, are they ever sorry that they ever treated him that way!
But that would be a story for another time – a sadder, post-pubescent story, long after Teddy had become – rather against his will – Ted.
“Ted. Ted? Teddy!”
His mother jolted him from his reverie while saying, “Honey, you have to go and get cleaned up. Daddy will be home soon, and you know how he wants his dinner the minute he walks in. Now come on, off with you, scoot!” She shook her head, to herself wondering what had been going on in that little head of his this time, and why his look was always so serious and far off distant.
Leaving the table without complaint while smudging it’s laminate surface with greasy dirt, Teddy noticed that while the song had changed, it was the same band, now that other one, the one wherein the singer warbled, “you make me so, very happy…” Years later, Ted would be a Sometime DJ in an All-The-Time Clubland World, and he would firmly rail against ever playing the same band twice in a night, let alone literally in an amateurish back-to-back fashion like that. It may have even been this very experience that gave him the fodder to form this belief. But again, at that moment Teddy was far too young to know that. At that very moment in fact, Teddy didn’t even know what his song’s story was to be about.