The Nervous Kid

He scared easily.  He had always been nervous and when his “friends,” needed to feel superior (which was often) they would devise ways to scare him.  You know the usual stuff.  Keep him distracted and then one of them would fall asleep with the inability to wake up. 

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He had always been nervous and when his “friends,” needed to feel superior (which was often) they would devise ways to scare him. The usual stuff; keep him distracted and then one of them would fall asleep with the inability to wake up.  The nervous kid would panic after telling them to stop it and quit screwing around.  They knew the nervous kid would always succumb because hey it could happen.  One of them might fall asleep and one of them might not wake up.

The usual scenario; one would slump over, pretend to sleep but fall asleep while the others distracted the nervous sidekick.  Perhaps the sleeper wrapped himself up too tightly or became too warm or board and fell asleep, it happens.  So, the nervous kid is running around and when he has his back turned the others are sniggering and the guy who is pretending isn’t pretending anymore.

It’s like all the guys are sitting around and yakin’ it up eating the nervous guy’s snacks while he’s sneaking around his parent’s house looking for contraband.  Yeah, that’s the way all pranks happen.  The nervous kid is searching his parent’s house looking for odds and ends of booze he knows his parents don’t have the money to buy.  He might find his grandfather’s bottle of bourbon from 100 years ago but the seal is still on it, so no way can he take that down to them.  Or he might find cooking sherry that his mother thought she might need for a recipe for a bunch of snooty ladies.  That small little party where she planned to get to know his friend’s parents.  They showed up, but it was real stiff.  None of the other moms invited the nervous kid’s mom to the garden club or to tennis lessons–not that she’d take the time off work and go, right?

So anyway, here’s this kid, he’s sneaking around the house and his buddies are like snickering and laughing and then take a swing at the sleeping guy and the sleeping guy just sort of falls over,  wooden-like.  They laugh and tell the guy–hey he’s in the house looking over his lousy parent’s cheap stash of booze so knock it off but the sleeping guy’s expression is like frozen on his face.  He’s like looking at the person who sees hell coming.

The nervous kid’s buddies sort of sober up but still knock the sleeping kid about a little.  What happened, they joke with the sleeping guy, did the nervous kid’s snacks harden your arteries, or did they like numb every nerve ending in your body?  What crappy food where do they shop the dollar store?  Still nothing but a blank terrified stare from the sleeping guy.  The sleeping guy is like looking but his eyes are not moving but you get the impression he is seeing and hearing everything but he can’t move.

Then there’s that moment when everything is silent, all the guys say nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  The house is creepy quiet, not even the sound of the nervous kid shuffling around in his parent’s dusty cupboards looking for something that is not there.

What the hell, right?

So, these guys they whisper all at once and calling the sleeping guy by name and they notice their voices don’t sound like a bunch of rich smart asses in a middle-class home.  Yeah, now they sort of sound like a bunch of whiny, tall skinny guys in a shit load of trouble.  Did he have drugs, what’s his parents going to say?  Hey, man I didn’t give him shit.  Should we go, crawl out the window and blame it on the nervous kid–hey where the hell is he, anyway?   Yeah, that’s what they’d do, ditch the sleeping guy and blame it on the nervous kid–he can explain an overdose, he has nothing to lose.

So, they gather all their stuff and wondering how they will make it look like they were never there and then they think about a plan they left early.  That the nervous kid and the sleeping kid hung out after they left.  Yeah, that’s what they’d say.  The nervous kid he had some wicked stuff and these pristine assholes didn’t want any part of that because what would their well-to-do parents say to that?  Yeah, so they left, maybe it was wrong, they should have called the cops right away but hey they were friends.  Friends don’t do that.  Right?

So, the nervous kid comes down to a trashed basement and a wooden looking guy curled up on his parent’s couch and the back windows open where his “friends,” scurried out the window.  The nervous kid shuts the windows, cleans up the mess, even sweeps the floor.  The nervous kid’s mom comes down and check’s the sleeping kid’s pulse and looks into his eyes.

“It should wear off by morning.”

“Did you call his mom?”

“Yeah, told her he was staying over tonight, that you were playing video games.”

“So Mom, what would you have done if they’d had not tried to stiff me?”

“Oh I was sure they would run like scared rabbits but if they had tried to do the right thing I’d have slipped him the quick cure.  He’d have puked and shat for a few hours but they’d have blamed it on our ‘crappy food.’

“Look, I think he’s actually falling asleep.”

“He won’t remember a thing in the morning, might have a slight headache.  Do you think we should tattoo something on his ass?”

“Nah, I prefer the subtle dump.”

Sing and Paint For Me

The world is crowded, striving and loveless.  I see the nakedness of the children and the despair of their mothers and do not wonder but grieve at their demand for death.

Paint for me, my love,

the sky a deep sapphire blue

smudge the blackest blue about the rounded horizon.

Be frantic in your work

sing to me at times while praying that the stars shine

upon the patch of open forest,

I sit upon while watching you.

Sing away the fear that night brings to me

remind me that the darkness is sacred even now,

fallen as we are, sing while painting the sky.

I will pull out of my cocoon that I had shaped just for me,

me alone.

I will spread the heat of my body upon the ground enough for two.

Along the edge of the forest, I will build a hearth of stone.

From deep within me call up a cool, hot-blue fire

my mothers left for me to share with you.

The world is crowded, striving and loveless.

I see the nakedness of the children, the despair of their mothers

do not wonder but grieve at their demand for death.

Won’t you pray for the stars to shine a burning hope within the darkness you paint?

Won’t you sing to me of stories of hope rather than the obvious pain?

Look, I’ve stretched out what is left of me here,

upon this patch of open forest floor know

God sings over my faith.

Bring your talents to me.

Sing and paint.

EVIL

It’s just the high cost of maintenance, ya know?

The color, man you would not believe the color.  I know red is red but red is not red in nature.  The almost white pink defines what must be the lack of oxygen and the deep scarlet means the screams of down-and-out terror.  I knew a woman once who, when really afraid, would try to scream and nothing would come out but this raspy, I’m-gonna-die sorta sob.

Then there is the deep red.  The almost beautiful black, bottomless red that exemplifies eternity.

Eternity man, eternity.  It is swirling around my head like music you used to like but now hate because like anything good, I mean sound busting good; they end up playing too loud and too often.

The high cost of maintenance in livin’ too long.  When will you live within our means?  I need a pulpit, I need a stage, I need a spotlight and I need to cry it out: “when will YOU live within your means?”  I’m not talking money.  Money is something that will be here when you are dead.  And dead.  Money is earned, stolen, begged or inherited.  In whatever way you have it, there’s not enough and you’re pissed-off about it because that’s how people are.  What I’m talking about is living within your means.  Your means.  Your means.

Can’t you live with what you’ve got the backbone to take?  Can’t you look at the woman across from you and say, hey, I love her because I don’t have the guts to go ask that beauty queen for a date.  You know that’s what women want.  I mean real women, they want you to ask and ask politely.  Why do you see couples that are all wrong together?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Some fast talking, skinny, sweaty guy hit the girl up just when she felt sure she’d die alone.  So she grabbed up what she thought was her last chance when all along there were men that would have died for her if they had had enough backbone to tell her so.

What the hell does this have to do with several shades of red?

Let me tell you.

I’m the son of a bitch who doesn’t care about you or the girl or if you live happily ever after.  I’m the guy you hate forever because I live forever.  I’m the guy that your sweet girl longs for but realizes when I take the living force right out of her, I’m evil.  I’m not romantic, I’m not misunderstood, I’m evil, and that’s what makes the taking so good.

But the maintenance is high.  It’s very high because I keep moving, I stay out of the sun and I put up with the slow-witted and the whining world that doesn’t believe in evil until they meet me.  I guess it’s just become too easy.

The Wedding

“Do you remember our wedding?”

“Do you want to dance?”

“No”

“Why not?”

“I’ve asked you a question do you remember our wedding?”

“Do you remember our wedding?”

“Do you want to dance?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I’ve asked you a question do you remember our wedding?”

“Honey, of course, I remember our wedding. You wore white, I was in a rented suit and the man who married us hated me.”

“My Grandfather married us.”

“Exactly.”

“You are sure Grandpa hated you.”

“Pretty sure.”

“Nonsense!”

“No, no, it’s okay. I wouldn’t want to marry off my daughter or granddaughters.”

“But if you were marrying off our son?”

“Well… every son should marry…eventually.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Do you want to dance?”

“No, I’m pretty much danced out.”

“Don’t want to dance with an old man.”

“No, I just don’t want to dance.”

“Well, at least you will be seen with an old man.”

“I’m sitting here.”

“Ah thank you. Especially for sitting next to me for nearly 25 years.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Woman, has it been that bad?”

“Being married to you?”

“Yes, being married to me.”

“No.”

“No… and what else?”

“Did you expect more?”

“Yes.”

“Well, you don’t remember our wedding so why should I expound upon our marriage?”

“For the love of God… I remember our wedding. Your Grandfather married us and your Father gave you away. All three of your brothers were either ushers or standing next to me. And we all knew that before that night was over I’d convince you to step out of that frilly white dress you wore.”

“My dress was not frilly!”

“God help me.”

“Were you nervous? I would have thought you would have been over that. I already said yes.”

“Yes dear, you said yes. They didn’t.”

“Well for Pete’s sake, they didn’t threaten you or anything.”

“How do you know?”

“All right that’s enough.”

“Well, you won’t dance with me and you won’t tell me how you feel being married to me so what am I suppose to do?”

“Hm. You are at a disadvantage aren’t you?”

“How do you mean?”

“You must speak to me sitting here, don’t you?”

“Now what is that suppose to mean?”

“Well after 25 years you’ve become accustomed to being around me. Relaxed enough to spend hours in your books, write, putter in the garage with your wood working… it’s been some time since you’ve asked me my opinion… well on you.”

“Oh, so I’ve become a bore.”

“I don’t recall calling you a bore.”

“I sound boring.”

“You may sound boring but not to me.”

“Okay, I’m a little confused.”

“Did my Grandfather wear a rented suit or his black suit?”

“His black suit with that white color of his.”

“Did my Mother wear the lavender suit?”

“No, she wore that apricot looking thing—your Father was furious at her for buying two dresses for one wedding.”

“Do you really want to know what it’s like being married to you?”

“Yes… really I want to know.”

“I like being married to you.”

“Well, that’s a relief, why?”

“Because when I walk past you while you are reading, you’ll gently take my hand and pull me to a stop and say ‘listen to this’.”

“Any book you prefer over another?”

“No–I prefer the sound of your voice.”

“Oh.”

“And lately I’ve come to appreciate that you don’t shave on Saturdays. And you don’t seem to mind that most of your beard has turned white. I kind of like the way it feels when you kiss me.”

“Really? I can probably manage that a few more times a week…”

“No, once a week is fine but I appreciate your quick response and willingness to expand.”

“Oh, my pleasure. Anything else?”

“I appreciate you cleaning out the cat box every Saturday.”

“The cat box? You witch! You had me hook, line and sinker.”

“No, really you have me hook, line and sinker.”

“Really?

“Really.”

“And when did that happen—I mean when you decided you loved me?”

“I don’t know it just happened sometime between year one and 25.”

“Not before?”

“Possibly.”

“Hm… And no regrets about Jeff Smith?”

“What do you know about him?”

“That I had a pretty close call with you, because of him.”

“Robert, when did you decide you loved me?”

“The night you put your suitcase in Jeff Smith’s Chevy.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The night you ran away. You were sick of this town, your overprotective family and terrified you would work the soda fountain at the pharmacy for the rest of your life.”

“I told no one about that.”

“You lied to your mother, told her you were with Lydia that weekend. You’d see her at church.”

“Robert, I told no one about that!”

“I watched you leave and about cried in my hymnal Sunday morning when I saw you in your usual spot.”

“You watched me leave. Understood I was gone. You asked me to marry you not too long after that!”

“I didn’t want to watch another Exodus.”

“You fool!”

“Why?”

“Well—how did you know—well nothing happened?”

“I didn’t. And frankly, I was a little shocked on our wedding night—well when everything was intact.”

“Robert!”

“I was pleasantly shocked.”

“Robert!”

“Why did you come back?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know.”

“Really. I cried like a baby 20 miles from town. I remember he tried his best to convince me I was doing the right thing… but I couldn’t stop crying.”

“It took him a full 24 hours to get you back 20 miles from town?”

“He dropped me at my Grandfather’s.”

“I thought you said you didn’t tell anyone.”

“And I didn’t. Grandfather never asked. I fell asleep, exhausted on his couch and he fixed me scrambled eggs and sausage the next morning.”

“Hm,”

“Yeah, hm.”

“Listen we are at this wedding, there is dancing. We don’t do much of that sort of thing, so would you like to dance with me?”

“No… I want to go home.”

“Why?”

“Because today is Saturday, and you had to shave.”

“So?”

“Well, I think tomorrow the world can wonder where we are for a day and you can catch up on your reading.”

“What else can we catch up on?”

“You’ll just have to wait and see.”

Like Eden

When I speak of simple, I mean simple.  Simple has been distorted.  When I say simple, people nod their heads sagely and agree while thinking of quick and cheap. 

When I speak of simple, I mean simple.  When I say simple, people nod their heads and agree while visualizing quick and cheap.

Granted simple today is distorted.  Finding and recognizing what’s left of, well, simple isn’t easy.   If you look hard enough, you can find simple.  It’s the age of the entrepreneur (which rhymes with manure) who built their factories and made their millions.  They built their factories over the drained cornfields that were once the greatest gardens in the United States–the Limberlost.  There are traces left here and there on the surface.  The Limberlost strengthens beneath the rusting facilities of man, trust me there, and will rise again to take over.

Can you follow me at all?  Simple is one table and one chair with no roof and no window. If a window is inevitable, then it must not picture frame nature of any kind.

Oh, and no one can teach simple, you need to remember simple.  You will lament the idea of simple and live on anger, confusing the whole concept with the idea of fate.

We still have the rich and the poor, the foolish and the wise, the extravagant and the simple.  Nothing has changed in humanity, and nothing has changed on the earth, it all just looks different; that’s what makes deception successful and immortality work.

One hundred years ago most would shake their heads and think me mad (I am) and walk away, but today I am patronized even admired.  I don’t care what they said one hundred years ago, or yesterday, I’m the living proof of immortality waiting on the rise of the Limberlost.

“We all have our own truth man; I like your style.”  I hear “truth,” all the time.  Idiot-speak, but I keep quiet being immortal, for now.

By style, most admire the table and chair I made from using the wooden slats and rusted nails that had been tossed into a heap outside the back door of some RV manufacturer.

Thanks.  Enough of that let’s talk simple immortality.  Immortality and what the hell does that have to do with the Limberlost, right?

Well, let me explain.  I believe in God, but we had a falling out some time ago.  The mortal sees in God only a pacifier because they cannot withstand change. Mortals grip God in a subconscious dive into the contemplation of death.  Those who feel the presence of God and all representatives of God long for death.  Trust me on this; I see it all the time.

That belief is not for me.  Though I understand God exists I’ve chosen to ignore Him and live forever.  I can you know and I will, within the tangle of the Limberlost and the sure knowledge that I’ll have the blessings of all those who believe God as only a transcendental force just like them.  Like the gone Limberlost, like Eden if you will.

You know it wasn’t my intention to destroy that place, I just thought it would be better without the human factor.  Still do, and I’m gaining.

Simple.

By the way, be careful who you stop and talk with, strangers aren’t always a good idea.

Immortal Spaniels

The spaniel was immortal and sighed often.

Maudlin music and less than red linen made for soft people she felt, yes felt, which was beyond knew and just before faith –

In oneself.

Her red was of the blackish kind and her curtains blocked out the sunlight and opened to the rain of days- she was content.

She knew that was it.  She knew.  The world bloomed red in small startling places and she searches for the sear and pucker of it in the dead of winter

This proved effective to draw her attention away from the doggish way he looked upon her.  He had a spaniel that she liked and wished was hers

But he wasn’t.

They were well sheltered within the stonewalled cottages that were between a farm house and just shy of a manor house — and the walls encompassed them and there they lived.

Her looking for scarlet and he looking at her.

The spaniel was immortal and sighed often.

Magicians were not allowed through the gates and witches could fly over but the breeze was constant and she could not tempt fate with this or that bauble of love.

A nod, not even a sur name offered when they met upon the cobbled street, she always with her eye on the corner of a stone building looking for red.

What could he do?  Learn to dance?  Pray for drought? He walked the dog and they spied her over the scarlet rose of autumn.  Embolden he walked to the place and bent his head to smell the flower.

He looked back up to see her gazing out upon the horizon.

“Stay,” he said, “and the dog will dance until you see the famous scarlet sunset.”

She stayed and as the sun played out the light of evening he whirled her round and the dog barked and gamboled about their feet.

And the scarlet of sunset reflected against the once stone walls of their lives.

Alone Too Long

God help me it was the books, the books, the books that went about and about and about my head and in my hands the weight of words, the smell of dust upon yellow pages that crumbled and revived my heart.  My heart that no one noticed but him.

I’ve been alone too long.  I have become the silence, the shuffle, the witness of depthlessness and to invite you in would build walls of contentment that, though pleasant, would stifle me.

Me.  Sounds so selfish and unreasonable.  For most of my life, I felt the weight of wanting to be alone but hating the loneliness.  I spent my nights dreaming of being beautiful and spent my days close to the walls trying to obtain invisibility.

My clothes were always tight or loose or scratched or were too soft or revealing or concealing or…wrong.  I would feel myself burn into embarrassment and would cry alone.  I listened to music with whispering wind and blowing trumpets and voices that rose to clouds and cathedral buttresses.  I cringed at drums and guitars and lyrics that repeated.

I met a gentle stranger.

God help me it was the books, the books, the books that went about and about and about my head and in my hands the weight of words, the smell of dust upon yellow pages that crumbled and revived my heart.  My heart that no one noticed but him.

I had no one to lean upon, don’t you see?  I had no one except my faith in the words a stranger left for me.  I was fucked and dumped and left to care for someone so much like me.  That gave me the determination to hurt anyone and carry on and write the hammer that comes down on the hands that reached out to me.

I had one to protect and I did and I have and I will.  Alone.

All the languages of history do not mock me anymore; I have all the time of eternity to learn.  I have come full circle.

I am still alone and cradle the feeling of lonely as my very own.  I have been alone too long.

 

Photo by Elisabetta Foco on Unsplash