It’s nights like this I spend most of my time writing in an old dusty journal she gave me awhile ago. For what I’m not quite sure, the memory is far faded and smudged in with countless other lost and homeless times that I could never recall for fear of emotional discord. For the most part I was drunk most of the time while I was with her. It was a standard story I suppose – young boy, pretty girl falling into a whirlwind of love and disaster
so powerful that the thought of it could hang a man up on a post for days so he could sit baking in the hot August sun. And for a good part of that time I sat strung up on a post, cursing the people as they walked by gawking and staring. It never made sense as to why they couldn’t see my terrible disposition and understand my situation.
At the time I was working a programming job fresh out of school. Everything seemed to be going well, and I liked to tell myself that life couldn’t have been better. I was making decent money for the first time in my life without exerting too much effort. I seemed to have the kind of friends that would last and an honest girl by my side. I knew, however, that deep down this wasn’t the truth. I had always skirted the edges of every social circle I've ever been associated with. I had always been a novelty to the groups and people - always a part but never a piece. Never fully able to explain myself. Never fully able to let myself loose into the thick of all the drama and emotion. After all, I wore a tie to work. I woke up early and did the nine to five
, something these people weren’t accustomed to in the slightest. They lived a life of frivolous spending and sublimation in a counter culture for no other reason than to counter something they couldn’t define in their own selves. This I understood for I had been down such a road before, but my path was foreign to them and thus I mostly sat on the outside looking in.
Frank Park, my associate who was showing me the ropes
of the business, was next to me when I got the call. It was her, like it had always been for the last two years but something was grotesquely different in her tone. She said my name first, with a nervous jitter, instead of the casual greeting. I could hear a heavy breathe trying to beat through the phone and get to me. It was almost enough to make me break a sweat. “I have something I have to tell you, Shane, and whatever you just don’t stop loving me.” I was already worried when I answered my phone, but at this point I was sure whatever was going to happen next would be utterly tragic. “When we first got together I had sex with a guy name Trevor, and I made out with Peter.” War had erupted in my head. The distant gun shots I heard just a few weeks earlier which made my nerves so unsteady had evolved into mortars landing directly in front of me. Sounds of chaos and confusion ripped through my mind. I hunkered down low in the dirt looking for a trench to roll into a return fire, but none were in sight. This was a sneak attack and I had no preparation. I didn’t even have a gun to return fire with. My life was under siege and I had no means of defending it.
I can’t imagine the look Frank must have seen on my face. I remember feeling it curl and contort and shrivel up like a shrunken head, but I’m positive it must have been a far more gruesome sight than I could have fathomed. I remember trying to look at him in the eyes but a deep fog had somehow found its way into the 11th floor of my building. It was thick, thicker than I remember out on the Missouri River during my drunken midsummer’s night rolling through life. The kind of fog we used for cover while vandalizing cars and fighting back the oppressive gangs of housewives and lawyers that riddled the small community. I could barely see in front of my face and everyone in the office must have thought I was dead drunk because I hit every printer, fax machine, cubicle wall, and cardboard Napoleon Dynamite cut-out on my way towards the stairs. It was a frantic shuffle out the building where everything was working against me. From the echo of my steps in the stairwell to the constant ringing
of my damnable cell phone. My mind had reached terminal velocity and at such a rate nothing can be comprehended or processed.
I hit the doors leading to the outside only to find myself being baked under the sun in all its scrutiny. It was like a desert seething with the banal turmoil deserts seethe with. Emotions included but not limited to: disgust, betrayal, shame, embarrassment, and/or the excruciating pain of having been prodded with hot metallic objects. I decided to phone her, for one last time (this however, I knew not to be the truth), to reaffirm my resolve (this I also knew, was not the truth). “You terrible BITCH, how could you do a thing like this to me? I’d rather watch you rot in Hell than ever see you again!” The discharge began to spew out of my mouth like a busted fire hydrant. A blatant misuse and disregard of public trust it spills out onto the street in every which direction. A whole river of bile and disgust poured from my mouth quickly flooding every low spot in her ragged soul and drowning her words in a flood of filth. As quickly as it began I came to the conclusion this yelling match was of no more use to me and I fired the hang up trigger and turned the phone on the other participant of this dirty game everyone seemed to be a part of but me.
Peter had been my roommate for the better part of three long years, and a good friend well before that. The gears in my head were turning at full power and the steam was being evacuated at an alarming rate. The vents seemed almost inferior and I felt as if the pressure was going to lead to a mass implosion, where all the structures my life was based on would crumble under their own weight and send shrapnel flying in every direction permanently damaging any part of my ego they embedded themselves in. “Why you horrible two-timing, yellowed belly coward! I have it in me to club you with a nine iron and slam your wind pipe shut with my elbow you worthless Son-of-a-Bitch!!” The sulfurous smell of burnt gun powder filled my nostrils. I dropped the smoking gun in shame and disgust. I was the same kind of blighted monster as them.
It was an inescapable shame and an deceitful duty what transpired that day. I told myself it had to be done but the more I thought about it the lower I sank. No one wants to have to look down and see the shattered parts of their life without meaning our purpose. Without love and prosperity. Without dignity or truth or any of the other high sounding virtues that yield worth to a person. What I did must have seemed justified to them, they probably felt they had it coming. But to think that something I wouldn't have let a person utter about those I had spent so many good moments with coming from my mouth so effortlessly, even if deservingly, dropped me to the bottom of the wheel
It was everyone else's gut reaction to go the bar for me. Throw back a couple of beers and swear to fuck everything that moves. They would eventually swagger back over to my flat and pat me on the back. Tell me they took care of it alright, and that that was that. And I guess that made me feel a bit better. I guess. But as the days wore on the funnier it all felt. Friends seemed to pass judgment on me for the actions of others. They would laugh and ridicule and work the parts of my life that I spent with her over until my own feelings were raw and limp. My own life had become a commodity for people I knew to buy, sell, trade and advertise on the open social market. It was better than blood and sweeter than wine
and they all howled to the moon as the lapped up the story over and over again just to say I told you so.
I remember back to when I was 19 and living in some desolate mining town in the middle of nowhere Missouri trying to chase some figment of a female. I remember getting in the squeeze of it, just like now, and running down each of those feelings and holding onto them as long as I could. They screamed of death, so much so that it hurt my ears and head. Each one I would chase down and run my hands over it and hold onto as long as I could, till there was nothing left of it. Each time I caught one it was euphoric, like the first high, or drunk you ever experienced - something that made you want it more. A year later I woke up in Kansas City penniless and hung-over cursing the time I had lost.