When my daddy died
He had a sad, sad story living in his eyes
She didn't really know who he was and neither did he. He thought he was more important than he was for all the wrong reasons in those days. He had been given a series of gifts, and he was asked to honor those gifts by doing what he was asked to do by those who had given him those gifts. He refused to comply at the time, convinced he could look away and live a life filled by a spinning wheel of those things he had never been able to have before those gifts were given. He could do anything now and he didn't owe anyone anything.
It would be years before he realized the person he owed for these things was himself and that he was constantly defeating himself by feeding his pride and vanity without regard to what was happening around him. It wasn't a simple lesson to learn. It would be a long, hard road before he came as close as he once did to understanding.
"You still don't get it, do you? You're Peter Pan and we're all trying to be your Tinkerbell."
Most of the time he wasn't even aware that he was carrying insurance policies. Sent on a mission, he was shielded against falling into a situation that would keep him from fulfilling that mission. What he left behind kept him driven as much as it reminded him that a promise had been made to him by the angels in his architecture. He could one day reclaim those things that meant the most to him, those thing he had left behind.
He is one spoiled rotten bastard, he is.
On a lonely, rainy night as he tried to make sense of the "shadow queens," who would appear and cut him to the bone before disappearing, his angel told him the story of The Fourth Queen. She would not be like any of the others. He would not seduce her. She would not seduce him. They would not lie together as dawn came over the horizon and talk of love and passion and everything that was between them, for better or worse. The angel told him The Fourth Queen would not fit what he could easily generalize in this way.
Hey pretty, don't you wanna take a ride with me...
Through my world...
As much as he tried to justify it, the first three years of his death were spent in selfish desire to avenge his old self. That pathetic boy who lived in constant fear, had no confidence and allowed himself to become a whipping boy for those who claimed to be his friends now felt a need for vengeance. It started as a challenge to himself, to date fifty women in fifty weeks, but then that got too easy, so he tried to weaken himself with drugs and alcohol and prove he could still do it. And he did. It was slightly more challenging, and now instead of just having dinner with them, he was sleeping with them and not leaving until he heard them speak the words. All they had to say was that they were in love with him and he would vanish into the mist. He wasn't a hero. He was the ultimate villain.
"Why did you move to Florida?"
"I hate winter."
"I came to follow a dream and figure out why I am still alive."
"And the other reason?"
"I would have destroyed myself otherwise."
There was a Tinkerbell. She just didn't understand what she did. She drove a spike through a part of his heart no one else ever could and she never took it out. She haunted him in a way no one else could dream of being capable of haunting him.
I'll always want you
I'll always need you
I'll always love you
and I will always miss you
During the era of fifty women in fifty weeks, there was one who stood out for reasons that had nothing to do with her. She was number fifty, but that wasn't what was important. She stuck around for four months, and in a time when everything was very temporary, that was a long stretch of time. It wasn't her that kept him around. She might have been just as good of a woman as any of the fifty, but that wasn't important. She would have been passed over and forgotten, just as he has forgotten the names and faces of so many of those fifty, just as they have forgotten his name and his face. He stayed for her daughter.
You think I'll cry?
I won't cry.
My heart will break before I cry.
There was a woman in those days who called him The Phoenix. What do you think they would call the daughter of a phoenix? Yeah. Life has a sense of humor.
"What do you think makes someone your daughter?"
"Well, in crude terms, does she have to be created from your sperm?"
"That probably makes you her father, but it sure as shit doesn't make her your dad."
"Give me another drink before I say something stupid."
It's your world.
Do with it what you want.
No, that's not the way to do it...
Madness. He lost the path again. Reunited with the greatest love of his life, finding himself working in a place that left him feeling he could fulfill his mission to "Give everything you can to everyone you know," remaining true to those who had been most important to him... he entered into entropy... what was the next step? What had he forgotten?
"Why do you remain so attached to Tina? Isn't it obvious she doesn't want to be with you?"
"That's a big part of the reason. You'd have to understand it has been three years since a woman turned me down."
"You're so full of yourself."
"If I changed my mind about you, would you turn me down?"
"That is the point, darling."
"You're in love with a woman because she won't go out with you?"
"It isn't that simple, but you have no idea how much it helps me rediscover my humanity when she turns me down."
"You are one sick bastard."
"I never said I wasn't."
"I love you, anyway."
My daddy spent ten years living on the outside...
Looking in thinking he would never get back
Watch his dream walk across the silver screen
And he was standing there when the theatre went pitch black...
"I'm just getting warm."
As time went on, it became increasingly difficult for him to explain what had gone on in his life without seeming to present himself as some sort of mythological entity who simply could not be defeated. It was his destiny to be destroyed, very slowly, over the summer of 1999. He had gotten too cocky and too confident. He needed to be reminded that it simply wasn't that easy. A road travelled is not so simple. There are ups and there are downs. He was too long on the up and the only way to remind him of what he left behind was to come as close as possible to completely destroying him without actually making that destruction happen. When he resurfaced, he was more than a little humbled. The man who would become his closest friend over the next five years would later remark that when they first met he thought he was an old burned out homeless man who had somehow convinced the company they worked for that hiring him was a good idea.
I can't forget, I am a soul architect.
And soon after, his hair started falling out, the result of a bout with alopecia areata. They made it as difficult in those days as they had made it easier in the years just prior.
"You're completely filthy, your hair is falling out, you have no money... who did you say you used to be?"
"Someone who really needed this."
"Needed to get his ass kicked."
Alopecia areata is a condition with no real cure that causes your hair to come out in clumps. Stress and difficult interchanges in life are generally blamed as reasons for it. For someone whose faith hinged in certain ways on his hair, it was the ultimate slap in the face. It happened after he cut his hair short again for the first time in many years, giving up on what he was taught to believe in return for the hope of getting a job. All he could think of to do in order to cover the fact that patches of hair were missing from his head was to grow his hair long again. He worked in a place where long hair on men was against company policy, but when he appealed on the basis of his frighteningly patchy head of hair, they granted him a waiver. Things happen for curious reasons.
Soon after, his hair returned, strange little short spurts of growth coming up to fill up the empty spaces. He thought he was restored and began hitting on a young co-worker named Darla, who thought he was cute, although she thought it was even cuter that he expected her to take him seriously.
"I think I had my balls handed to me. Write this down. I know what it's like to be king and I know what it is like to be dressed down big time."
It might be important that his best friend is a disenfranchised puppeteer who came to know him when he was at his worst and accepted him as such. After all, for years all his friends were female and he had no time for male friends, they didn't come with the same benefits. He has kissed more princesses that he has any right to have kissed and he did his best to turn most of them into queens. All said, he needed to be knocked down. Ego and vanity are dangerous things when they go unchecked.
Do you get the gist of the song now...
As time passed, his hair grew back, and then he began to find his bearings again. He felt the old power returning and used it to blow his friend's mind by moving in next to a young woman at the bar and taking her home with him that night. They ended up getting married. He was ready to make himself comfortable, and why not, being married to a woman thirteen years your junior and feeling you have all your powers back can give you the urge to relax.
And then one of his queens went and died and he realized what it was they were trying to tell him.
"Every time I start getting cocky someone punches me in the face."
I've experienced madness
And I rejected the entire experience
It took the death of another close friend and the connection between that death and the first of his shadow queens to begin to find the path again. The fire lit beneath him by the death of the second shadow queen led him to see he was just wasting time. There were still things to do. If he had been sent on a mission, and if that mission had been fulfilled, there was still more to be done. At one time his angel had told him something he was starting to remember...
"When you have done what you need to do here...
Those things that matter most to you in the life you left behind
Will be restored to you."
"And then what?"
"Then that will be the hardest thing you will ever do."
He thought he was receiving a reward for his dedication. The Muse, the woman he had loved for two decades, was finally calling him to her side. It could have been a reward, but she was broken and in need of a few small repairs. They would be parted more than once as she came to terms with that which was tearing her apart and leaving her bleeding on the floor. He would almost lose another queen, as she drank herself into madness and drove into a police car, and he would begin to see that the skies were not meant to stay permanently golden.
And I love you still...
No matter how the story will unfold...
You know I always will...
We hear of a lovely daughter
Shot down in her mistaken flight...
They all began to heal themselves, with or without him, as he could only pray that they would. All of his queens are, by nature, self-destructive. For a man who once took his own life, how could his queens be anything else? What wisdom and experience could he impart to anyone else? If there was anything he knew and understood it was the desire to destroy oneself. If he had any impact on their lives, he hoped it would help them avoid the same fate...
This place seems so familiar...
Perhaps he had prepared himself with a resume, a resume that was too long by half, of women he had loved and worked hard not to forget. It wasn't the same as the bridge he now faced and tried to figure out how to cross. Unless sperm was somehow the final decider, which seemed absurd, she was and always would be his daughter. Why would he have to marry her mother to give her this "title?" What would he have to do and would it really matter in the end? Would she remember a promise made when she was but a little girl surrounded by faeries and mermaids looking for some way she could ground herself in a life that seemed to make less sense as time went on.
If he could have taught her anything, it would have been that the longer you live life, the less sense it makes. This is the nature of life.
It's amazing to me
I can't seem to say what I'm doing here
My tongue is all twisted around the air
I'm looking for words that were so well rehearsed
But I can't find them anywhere
There's no easy answer
You changed the equation I add up to
And all of the things I thought I knew
You turn it around
Months had passed since he last felt the path he lost. For months he was flailing, trying to make sense of where he was and why. Maybe it was time to retire. Maybe he was too tired to continue and it was time to rest, but even then he knew it was all wrong. He had become angry in his flailing, attacking those he loved and becoming dangerously unforgiving, even as he preached forgiveness and failed to practice what he preached. He was lost and in the darkness that surrounded him, he asked his angel to help him find the way back to the path...
"Are you ready?" she asked him.
"There is too much stagnation. I'm missing something, but I've become so lost lately, so tired, so angry... I don't know what can restore me any longer."
Weeks passed and he struggled to find his way again. He claimed to have found it again, but he knew he was still lost. He tried to drive off the anger. He tried to find the peace he once knew. Every night he prayed for an answer. Every night he received the same answer.
"Are you ready?"
Don't you mess with a little girl's dreams
Or she's liable to grow up mean
"Whatever it is, I'm probably less ready now than I've ever been."
"Do you know what you mean when you say that?"
"Not at all."
"Then you are ready."
Communication is not just words
Communication is architecture...
He had a dream, much like those he had in the past, except this time he did not remember what it was about. He just knew it was one of those dreams that was all at once strangely prophetic and entwined with messages that could make sense to him if he was any more or less human than he actually was. His flaws made the dreams confusing, but without the flaws, the dreams would never come in the first place.
He woke up knowing how to find her. He turned on the computer and searched in the place he knew he would find her. And he did.
"So many women you've romanced, so many women you've slept with, what makes one different from the rest?"
"They all have something that makes me remember them and love them differently than the others."
"What if there was one you could not romance and could not take to your bed? Then what would you do?"
"You mean like Tina?"
"You romanced Tina and you seduced her in ways you'll never understand. I'm talking about something else."
Tell me something dangerous and true.
"Think outside the box. You've been inside your own box for too long. Define the question."
"You asked the question. If you came back here for that which you abandoned in order to fulfill the quest, then what remains?"
"The hardest thing I've ever done."
"Still in front of you. If you are unready to take the next step, then it is here. Wake up."
The dream came back to him, but it was not prophetic. It was the return of a memory. There was a little girl standing in front of him. She had tears in her eyes and was holding onto him. For the moment, her mother was elsewhere. She would have been upset if she had seen what was happening. The little girl took his hand and looked deeply into his eyes, deeper than any woman ever could.
"I know why you have to leave. I understand."
"I'm sorry, I wish it didn't have to be like this."
"Will you promise me something?"
"If I can."
"Don't forget about me. I want to believe you'll find me again. Promise me you'll always think of me as your daughter."
He swallowed as hard as a person can, turned his frown into a smile, and with tears in his eyes, told her, "I promise I will."
"Don't thank me. I've failed."
"It's okay, you can go now."
I will not leave again.
Samples from the Poe album "Haunted"
Dedicated with love to my daughter.
I hope she understands why I bought her this CD.
The hardest thing you will ever do is finding redemption. It all begins just as it all seems to end.