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…
As this week past was National Suicide Prevention week, but next week’s post is the one dealing with that topic, out of respect to all those who suffer daily, those who have lost someone else to it, and ultimately those who have lost themselves, I will jump 1972 back one week in order to give you the following.
We will be back on track after we expunge 1971 next week, but in all honesty and as C.S. Lewis said, “perhaps it does not matter very much in which order anyone read them.” Just as long as you do.
Gilbert O’Sullivan’s 1972 hit, Alone Again (Naturally). I hope you enjoy…
The time was only early evening in as so much as 3 PMish would normally be considered so. In fact, the gloom required had hardly even begun to rally in this North Carolinian late summer sky as our scene unfolds. How unlikely these sort of things happen, and as often as they do, rarely according to script.
Our focal character however fits the mood perfectly. Emotionally dashed, wrecked and torn, he slouches idle and grey-faced over the railing that sits atop the bridge that promises him passage over the murky water. Again, the water is not really helping matters in setting the scene, in that it is not so much murky and mired as it is gentle and serene. And the bridge even, poses no giant monolithic distance between our yet-to be determined hero and the deep, but rather a firm safety net perched rigidly a mere few dozen-to thirty feet or so above the shimmering blue.
And so, with such disaster and gloom and darkish prelude abound(less), our tale of something akin to self-deceit, defeat and unwelcome jagged visitors begins…
Wathca doin, dumbass?
How’d you find me here?
It’s my job. And my pleasure.
So, watcha doin’?
Just thinking, maybe I should call mom, I guess. And looking. Wishing…
Of course you are. Ain’t we all? Ya know what’s the difference between the successes and the failures though, right? The successes don’t waste time thinkin’. No sir, the successes stop wishin’, and just jump already.
Huh? What are you talking about? I don’t want to be a success…
Of course you do, idiot. You all do. It’s how you’re all built, see? It’s just a different sort of success that you want in particular, cause you’re the type that’s always gotta be difficult, is why. For some, it’s about the money, or the broads, or the power, or hell, even the fancy cars and the groveling herds of “friends” kissing their ever-loving ass. But for you though, well for you princess, it’s just about the Freedom, now ain’t it?
Little baby wants to be “free” he does, gotta call mommy to make things better, to get penned back up. “Why’s everyone always pickin’ on me and making me feel weird,” he sez. Mommy will lie and say something nice while she’s locking you back in the cage, but don’t ya get it? Nobody makes you feel nothin’. You ARE weird. You deserve being picked on. It’s the natural order of things, s’all. Hell, I sorta wanna kidney punch you myself right about now. You’re wrong, broken, useless. Ya see, God just makes screw-ups sometimes because maybe He’s drunk, or maybe because He wants to show normal good folk just how messed up He coulda made them if He’d wanted to. You know, so that they’ll have to start prayin’ harder to Him or something like that. “Oh, thank you mighty God, for not making me a screw up like this joker over here!” And you kid? Well you just happened to be one of the lucky short-straws in that line of divine fuckery.
That can’t be true. It’s a lie.
Really? You got any evidence in them empty pockets of yours to refute me with prissy? On accounta, I got some 19 + years of examples proving to you that I’m right! You’re worthless, plain n’ simple.
That’s a lie!
You’re a worthless piece of shit. Ain’t never gonna be good enough for no one or nothing. And even your best efforts ain’t never gonna come close to making people think otherwise ‘bout you. You know it’s true, and that’s why you’re here, “wishing.”
THAT’S A LIE!!!
C’mon now pally, don’t get all pissy with me. We’re just having a nice conversation, see? No need to get your loser panties all bunched over the simple n’ singular truth of the matter.
That can’t be the truth.
Well, it is.
It is – err – I mean, it isn’t.
Well, I don’t think so.
There you go again, you with your thinking. Guess what happened to The Thinker, kid; frozen in time he is. A stupid nudie, balls all hangin’ out n’ gawked at forever. You think you hate life n’ people finger-wagging you down now? Just you try puttin’ up with that forever more. Now think about that!
The Thinker is just a statue. It never was anything more.
Listen you, it’s all allegorical, dumbass. The point is this: the point is that the successes don’t stop moving, the successes just jump.
But I’m afraid.
No shit. But if you think about, you should be more afraid of the alternative.
Because! Because, you know, like I said before: you ain’t never gonna be good enough, no matter what you do.
But things will change. I’ll get married, I’ll have kids, and I’ll grow a family of my own. My tribe. I know it’ll happen.
Sure, sure it will. And they’ll all leave you.
No they won’t.
You asking or tellin’?
Why wouldn’t they? Hasn’t everyone before? People can’t be duped by love their whole lives, ya know. Sooner or later they’ll all wake up, see the real “you,” the real useless weird loser “you,” realize that they never really ever gave not even a singular fuck about you in tha first, and run hightail-like away – BAM! Running scared hell-fast, dust a-trailin’ from your slack dumb ass.
That’s not true.
Please don’t make me…
I fucking hate you.
I know, retard.
You see, kid, I am you.
See anyone else on this bridge with you, idiot?
But I don’t…
Yeah, yeah, I know, you “don’t understand…”
I don’t. I mean, it never even dawned on me that I was here alone.
Again, naturally. Yeah, see how stupid you are?
Actually, that sort of thing must mean that I have a pretty intense imagination, right? And that’s gotta mean I’m worth at least something.
No, it doesn’t. Ya see…
No, I do. I do see!
Listen, I agree with you. It sucks right now, real bad. And you’re right, it might suck again in the future. Hell, fine, it probably will. But that’s a future I think I want to see, to be part of, to know. I mean, it’s can’t suck all the time.
It can, and you’ll still be alone, laughed at, and shunned.
I might not. OK, fine, maybe I will. But I’m alone now, and none the worse for it, relatively speaking. And hey, who knows? I might be happier staying that way, instead of maybe being stuck with someone who’s constantly bringing me down but without ever lifting me up; someone who’d eventually leave me anyway like you said.
I guess maybe the freedom I’m hoping for will result from a life well-lived, instead of a life cut short.
You’re wrong, princess…
Well I won’t know unless I try.
The successes jump.
Not all of them, I’m thinking. In fact, not any of them jump. No, the successes are the ones who decide not to.
No, sorry. Not today.
Nah, I think I will go call my mom instead…
Thanks for the conversation though. It helped bring a lot to light, though I can’t say I hope to “see” you again anytime soon.
Oh, you will. Trust me you miserable little SOB, you will…
Our hero, still slouched as is his normal posture resulting from the deplorably heavy weight of the sack of self-loathing he’s been lugging about for 19 + years, slowly wipes away tears of both fear and joy as he turns to leave. While walking off the bridge in hopeful trepidation – a bridge which itself has steadfastly remained cheerfully devoid of fog, or any other sort of physical nuance that would have alerted the average passer-by as to the severity of our tale – the jagged visitor that was never truly there in the first slowly fades from view, smug in the knowledge that his final words were correct in that he will in fact return one day. This time armed to the teeth and in a clime and place much more hospitable towards his intent…
The year was 1970, and what I still consider to be one of the most brilliantly written “shock rock” songs of all time – not to mention a shoo-in to the possible future soundtrack for the life of a certain youngish hero not yet realized – was released unto an unassuming public.
My tale today is based upon this, a little ditty penned by members of the better Beatles, The Kinks.
I hope you enjoy…
Mommy always looks pretty.
And sometimes, sometimes we have special dinners. Dress up dinners. Mommy makes something that tastes really good, but maybe is not so good-looking, cuz she turns down all the lights and makes us eat with candles on.
Daddy likes nights like this cuz he gets to get dressed up in his brown sports coat with big wide lapels, and his tie that’s even wider and looks like yucky mustard, and all his clothes look like they’re made of heavy plastic. Something-ester is what he calls it. He sez it’s the fabric of the future. It hurts me whenever I wear it. I don’t like it.
I hope he’s wrong about the future.
Mommy gets dressed up real pretty on these nights, these special dinner nights. She makes a big scene of it too. After setting the table and getting us boys all seated (daddy seats himself), mommy runs to the back of the house to get out of her kitchen clothes and to get on her pretty stuff. She even has pretty shoes and shiny things that clip on her ears. Just for the dinner, I swear!
Coming down the hall really slow, daddy whoop-oohs and ahhhs as mommy gets to the table. I’m hungry mommy, hurry up! I think he maybe even pulls the chair out for her. Maybe, I can’t remember. I do know that daddy won’t let us eat until we all tell mommy how pretty she is. I’m hungry, but mommy is pretty anyways. Daddy gets too pushy sometimes like that.
Mommy was walking in the hall, and I could see her pretty shoes poke out from her dress, every time she put one forward. Her dress is really pretty, it’s so long it touches the floor, and it’s all white, except for the brown and black shapes that someone drew all over it, and mommy musta got it on sale, cuz there’s no sleeves on it, but it does have a tight collar around the neck. She calls it a mock turtle’s neck, but I don’t understand what that means. There is no turtle’s neck anywhere on her dress, I looked. Mommy’s dress is sorta tight, and I think it’s that something-ester thing again, but hers is soft and silky, very silky. I like it when I have mommy’s dress in my fingers. It feels good. Daddy sez the dress hugs her. I don’t know how a dress can do that without hurting after a while.
I touch mommy’s dress when she’s not looking sometimes. I go into her bedroom and just touch her things. They’re all soft. Not like daddies and mine. Not hard plastic. Mommy’s stuff is nice. And it fits her too. Us boys look like robots in boxes when we wear our ester-something stuff, but mommy always looks like, like, well, like water moving, like she floats.
Mommy always looks pretty.
I want to too. I want to look pretty. Daddy sez that boys can’t be pretty. Boys are just hanb-sum, he sez. I don’t wanna be hanb-sum, I wanna be pretty. I wanna wear the ester that doesn’t hurt. I wanna have people ooh and ahhh me too.
Daddy gets too pushy like that, so I sometimes sneak into mommy’s room when no one knows, so I can look pretty too. No one knows, so it think it’s OK, and I fold everything up real good and put it back when I’m done. But folding lady underwear is really hard, and I think I broke her stocking once, cuz my toenail made a big line in it. I even close the door so that no one can see.
I don’t think Jesus can look through doors.
At least I hope not, cuz daddy and mommy sez that that sort of thing is a sin. That boys are supposed to be boys, and girls are supposed to be girls, and we’re all supposed to make babies, but only after we get married forever and ever, and God don’t like anyone who gets that screwed up. People go to h-e-double-l for screwing things up, that’s what mommy and daddy’s church sez. That’s what school sez too. And school is run by nuns. Nuns are married to Jesus. They got rings to prove it and everything, so they must know what they’re talking about.
I don’t think Jesus marries very nice women.
Maybe that’s why He’s so upset and sending screw ups to h-e-double-l all the time. I don’t know. But I hope He can’t peek through the door, because I don’t want to be a screw up and go to h-e-double-l. I don’t want to go there, and I don’t want Him to hate me. I didn’t do anything wrong, I swear Jesus. But I do wanna wear the good feeling something-ester. I wanna feel like water moving, and I don’t wanna look just hanb-sum, and I wanna feel special, and whoop-ooh’d and ahh’d, and look pretty…