"But like anything we try not to think of, as humans, we are very good at doing just the opposite. . ."
From the driver's seat through the large windshield he could see the sky's weight falling upon itself, the clouds grew dark, darker than they were just minutes before on the road, driving fast, slicing through puddles and putting his A.D.S.C.S. (Automatic-Driver-Stability-Control System) to good use.
But as fast as he drove, he couldn't outrun the rain. Nor did he want to, he loved the rain. Few things in his life gave him the comfort, the warm-blanket feelings of a rainstorm.
He raced on, pushing the white devil with blue interior lights--Tron he came to playfully refer to the vehicle as. The sky dark like a black eye and the rain hammering with unforgiving urgency upon the road.
Florida in the rain, or in overcast in the chilled calm before the storm, when he could literally smell the impending water about to be dropped from the heavens, was just the way he liked it.
The gentleman of a weakened stature pushed ol' Tron forward on the slippery highway while thinking certain thoughts to himself about specific thoughts only a man in his shoes would think. With the MP3 player in his smartphone on random, it dolled out an "oldie but a goodie." His song was hitting 3:34 and bumping the bass well through his barely-4-months-old speakers. The smooth and swift drum n' bass came rushing out from the speakers with vibrancy and attitude, with the kind of showiness and pizazz that only LTJ Bukem could deliver it's listener. It was a hit that had a specific attachment to the dynamics of his memory and synapses.
Tron took him past the abandoned Trinity Town Center and it's connected 4 level parking garage. Planned as yet another expansion and economic boom to the sprawling and fast growing town, when the developer had run out of his 60 million and even somehow manged to go over-budget, so had the town's dream of bringing the highest of class to it's shopping amenities. Like some parts of Orlando or Ft. Myers, or, well, a lot of damn places--this was Florida afterall.
So now the reminder of what-could-be sat with 22 tenants out of money in legal battles to yank out their businesses and save as much in their investments as possible. One couple even came down from Boston to start a tea shop.
Sad story, but he fuckin' hated tea anyway. When you had coffee why do tea?
He pulled into a yet another shopping center, drove deep passed all the humongous business store fronts and pulled into the area of the parking lot that held the Panera Bread. He pulled into a spot next to a red '93 Camero. Getting out of the car, he dove into the Camero, not exactly escaping the rain and all it had to give. He was greeted with a loud sniff and big smile from his out of shape--as in skinny, pale, and shotty looking--cousin Ronny.
Said the gentleman, throwing the small sack of weed onto Ronny's lap. Good dro too, plenty of crystals over the rich green bud.
"Downtown Tampa in a Hummer limo for my quarter of a century celebration. . ."
Ronny reminded him, and then added, "Too bad my cuz can't come though."
"Work." Peering through the clear bag, Ronny took a sniff, he sighed and let out a small, "Goddamn!"
Taken aback, the gentleman knew, with the potency of the substance.
"It was not easy to find."
Said the gentleman dryly to the windshield as it gathered more water, only for more drops of it to take the place of a previous droplet.
"I'll bet. Thanks again dude."
Ronny handed him the money for the small sack and was met with a head shake.
"Keep the money, happy birthday.
"Hey man, thanks dude."
"Don't say I never gave you anything."
"I won't. Hey, you bring it?"
He sighed, which came out like more of a growl. "You really gonna--"
"Yes fag. I'll start tomorrow."
He dove out of the car, into his, filed around in the passenger seat's back and found the book stuffed in the pouch. Getting back into the car, handed it to him with a little tinge of devil-may-give-a-shit in his eyes.
Ronny looked it over, smiling at the cover, "The Sound of Violence. This looks sick. Did you do the cover yourself?"
"Yea, well, sort of. The picture isn't mine but the formatting, design and, uh. . ." Then he stopped, backing up when he realized it was all trivial and just shot out, "Yeah, I did the cover myself."
"Sweet. Can't wait to read it cuz." Then he asked him while flipping through the pages,"When's the last time you sold one of these?"
He scratched the side of his face, that faggy-perma-shadow stubble, "Uh. . . ."
He knew of course. But before he could answer he was thankfully cut off by his family member.
"Bitches read dude. Fuckin' Twilight and that Hunger Games bullshit, you need to push this on 'em son. Get 'em all wet for the dick with all your writing stuff man. The blog too."
"A class act ladies and gentleman. Stand back, there's only one of him."
Ronny flashed a smile that almost made him look handsome and shook his cousin's hand.
As he pulled off the busy town road full of great green grass, new stucco buildings and shopping centers and palm tress, he got onto another road, an alternate road, the one he had told her about.
The one that looked as if God had plucked it from the southeast Texas shithole (with the exception of it's historical "downtown" district and a nice waterhole off the Colorado river) and dropped it down in front of him.
Brown, little, shitty fences with barbed wire spun into them. Thick, large and twisted trees in the desert-sized grassland. . . And nothing in between. Nothing for miles. Nothing but that hallway of vast rural green countryside in the shower of rain, and purple clouds that sat heavy and vomiting in the company of the dark Floridian sky.
He has long come to think of the drive as if he had actually come across a magic highway of connection, connection to one's desires. He was in Trinity one minute, and a turn signal and a mile or so of gravel later he was in Texas. Oh how wonderful, how many woes adverted and problems solved if it were true. How many wants and desires granted and replenished. How many cigarettes not smoked and glasses of beer not drank and boxes of wine not emptied. . . Well, maybe not.
"Flattering oneself was always an dangerous game of delusion to play."
Divided no more by distance, by boundaries, by money, by job or school responsibilities or the trappings of life. It was on the road where he could feel free, not even an escaped P.O.W. knew not what he felt. For this road rescued him each time for the time he took to navigate it. But it also took him into more of the same. The same reminders, the same hurt, the same solemn-tude, the same infinite abyss of what he knew now might very well be all for not. And at his hand. And even more at his expense. That was the hardest part, knowing he had done this to himself, and caused hurt, had put trust and good levity into question. Into jeopardy.
A quote he learned some time ago sometimes rotated around the innards of his brain, like a news ticker:
"Men look back in sick longing for the things that were and might never be again.
They live old days in memory.
But try as they might, they cannot go back."
Whether it was a dooming statement of damnation or a merely a string of words that provided a rotten form of masochism, he couldn't exactly decide. But he was pretty fuckin' sure it quite simply was both.
Her name was Marie. She was blond, with race-horse legs and a big killer smile. And she was his usual waitress at The Blarney Stone. Not that it mattered who was taking care of him, but she was usually one of two on the floor there, having earned her hours. And waitresses at The Blarney Stone were required to wear the uniform, and that uniform was of course a tank top and kilt, with knee-high white socks/stockings and black shoes.
She earned her 50% tip on his tab and was prompt in her service. Using not only the manners an expert waitress should, but, almost, the manners a good stripper should. Coaxing the customer along with consideration and playful attention until they were all-too-ready for a dance.
Lifting up the glass, he brought his lips to rim of his pint and took a sip of the cherished amber-brown lager. Using a napkin to wipe off some of the Pottsville beer from his upper lip whiskers he struck up some polite chin-wagging with his loyal server.
"How's that son of yours doin'?"
"Swinging strong. His tournament is this weekend, so damn excited."
"Hell of a game to be good at."
He nodded his head, "Long time ago, I did." The gentleman broke a small smile out of the stern focus he usually kept on his face, like wallpaper it was interrupted by his screensaver of a grin reflecting on the memories of long ago.
"My father, he started late, and just got better and better at the game. He don't play so much no more, but. . . He taught me everything he knew, until. . ." He paused, then hit a verbal wall arriving at the mental destination of a conversational topic unfit for conversation. She looked on waiting for him to finish. He gave an ending, not much of one, but enough to dodge.
"Well . . . things change." He said.
He took yet another sip form the pilsner, grateful for it's company, it's taste.
He remembered the last time he played the game with his father, he was 12 years old, he swung well that day, very well. It was him, his father and Art verse Dale, and Jeff. Of course they won, because who wouldn't loose going up against ol' Ray? Good question. Then ol' Ray got too drunk to drive that night when they all went out for food and drinks (or coca-cola). And he drove his son home anyway. The gentleman could still remember the smell of the grass, feel the fresh cut of it under his fingers and hands. The way the dew looked in the early morning on the fairway. The feel of the club grip in his hands. His father's quiet coachings from behind him. How afterwards on the drive home his father would put the oldies on, and sing along with The Flamingos or Sinatra, it's how the gentleman learned some of his favorites.
He could still remember other voices. Lyrics. Passion in the singing.
He could still remember, hear, the sound of her voice, the way those lyrics rolled slow off that tongue flowing like a gentle lovely stream, as her face reflected the sultry nature of them. She did that strutting her shit around the motel room in his white v-neck t-shirt and her black panties. Sitting on the bed, he watched her little concert in quiet delight. She would do that again, singing deeply, slowly, and with love and heart in her voice many more times for herself to his enjoyment.
It was little things like that that all added up into big things, making the whole damn thing a whole damn big thing. Like the way her face looked when he gave her the prop rose he took from the theater workshop.
Or like the time he leaned over and informed her while she drove, whispering something sexy, something dirty into her ear and she gasped loudly and even straightened her posture, gripping the wheel firmly. Oh did she gasp. Biting her lip she very quickly flashed him a set of eyes that seemed to carry all the spicy erotica he just supplied her while a devilish smile slipped out.
Or like the time.
Or like the time.
Or like the time.
Things that overtime, turned from memories to emotionally marauding anecdotes. The sting of old things that still felt like new was a virus that he had found no cure for, but enough beer helped abate the pain, staving it off enough with cigarettes and largely accrued bartabs.
He would fight the good fight so more of the same could not reach him, touch him, haunt him, grab him at will and dramatically shake him into apathy and hold him dearly in the grasp of a tortuous freakshow of reminders that he was taking all this to his grave--"There's no goin' back. . ."
By the time he was dragging his feet from the gravel to his front door the next morning after work, his phone was dying as he came through the door. That's fine, he thought to himself as he pet his loyal black lab, the largest thing on the planet.
After he was done eating the best breakfast in all of the known galaxies, a fact that always rang true if he made it of course, he showered, changed, trimmed the facial-fag-hair and hit the sheets.
A dream was coming, followed by another no doubt.
Bring it on, he said.
He had beer and cigs-a-plenty.
(If anyone actually made it this far, in honor of reading my lengthiest post to date, I'll give them a two-dollar bill. Seriously. You deserve something for your trouble.)