I knew a man once. He was a little bit like you. He was a little bit like me. He was somehow like all of us and none of us in between.
Fully loaded. Weighed down and stalked by ghosts. We know the way the web is spun, always from the inside running out. He reached a point where he felt himself running out of options and barely alive. He was exhausted, broken and his faith was failing him. He started to realize this was part of the meaning of it all. It was times like these when faith becomes the only element that sustains you, no matter the nature of that faith or where it is placed.
This man had an angel in which he placed his faith and in whose arms he fell when he found himself empty and in need. In the past she had always been there to catch him when he fell. In the past she had never failed him, warning him when he was going down the wrong road and putting out signal flares when there was a road he just wasn't seeing in the darkness. This time, when he called to her, she did not answer.
Days and nights went by. Weeks passed, going into months. And then, finally, her voice came to him as he was falling asleep.
"Give up," was all she said.
He drifted into dreams and into the past. He saw a face he could never forget. It was the face of his first lover. The dreams took him back to the happiest times they had together. They played like children with a limitless innocence, rolling together on the grass and making the most of every embrace. Neither knew at the time they were soon to violate each other's trust in ways that encroached upon the profound.
There are those who seem to live just to tell you that you should make the most of every moment, to celebrate those moments and bask in them without giving concern to the future or what will happen next. In those days this man and his lover were passionate examples of that philosophy put into play. Everything else was secondary to the love and passion that existed between them and most certainly burned too brightly and too quickly to last. It could be considered a miracle of some measure that it lasted more than two years before it turned into compost. These things do just that when you keep turning them over and turning them over again trying to keep them fresh as you go through the motions because you aren't sure what else to do.
The memory was of the happy times. It was of the boundless energy and passion that once had been. The memory dismissed the compost heap. It had no use for it.
The compost heap eventually turned rancid and the once bright passion turned into something else. It became a competition in hatred and anger. It became as vicious and twisted as it had once been innocent and beautiful. The final break nearly killed him then and there. She had taken another lover, one he considered very much his inferior and one for whom she seemed to have greater passion and desire for than she had ever shown him. The brilliance of the darkness nearly blinded him. In that brilliant darkness he was driven to madness and came close to committing murder. Presented with an opportunity to kill her lover, spurred on by his insults and his taunting, he came within inches of doing the deed. Stopping at the last moment, he stepped away, sat in his car for a while and began to realize how white the darkness really was.
The triggers of the mind are curious things. This man took much away from his experience with his first lover and the eventual downfall of their passionate empire.
The memory of the sensation when he committed himself body and soul to taking the life of another man and the brilliance of that darkness always stayed with him. The happy and carefree times slipped into the back corners while the scenes of betrayal and argument and venomous hatred moved further to the front of his memory. Images of clutching the shirt of her lover, holding him up against the glass door that stood between them and a three-story drop came back to him in nightmares. These are the nightmares that stalk you from the darkest corners of memory, the corners that will not be ignored no matter how hard you try to hide behind the clown masks and cute waitress stories.
Fifteen years later, he found himself facing a far more dire set of circumstances. Some would call it a really bad deal. You thought you had a royal flush but wait a minute... that ain't no fucking queen. Where did you leave your glasses. How did the devil's harlot of diamonds get into this deck?
Strange how the night moves.
If you truly love someone it is an incredibly difficult thing to watch helplessly as they sink to the bottom of everything and destroy themselves for reasons that make no rational sense. When they are intent on killing themselves and lack the acumen to go through with the deed it becomes more than a little surreal. A person who sees themselves as a failure and a burden on others and has decided they want to die but can't manage to succeed in doing so becomes more filled with self-hatred and a sense of total failure than most people can imagine.
This man's self-destructive lover was no textbook case of suicidal ideation and fantasizing. She wasn't a textbook case of anything. She had been to the emergency room three times in two years for failed suicide attempts that came close but just didn't go far enough. The first time she hadn't taken quite enough pills and it wasn't that she had run out. There were more than enough left over. She just managed to forget to take them all. The second time she drove her car off the side of the road but just managed to avoid going off a bridge and plunging to certain death on the rocks a hundred feet below. The third time was another failure. The fourth time she figured to enlist some assistance.
This man was trying to take the razor blades away from her as she sat in the bathtub cutting herself in an artless pattern and filling the tub with blood. She cursed him and pushed him away, slamming her head against the shower wall as hard as she could insisting she needed the razors back so she could cut her wrists and put an end to her life. He finally relented, unwilling to keep up the fight any longer and left her alone.
And then she called to him. He thought perhaps this latest chapter was coming to a close. He was already on the phone calling for help. He stopped the call and went to her aid.
"I want to cut my wrists but I don't have the balls. If you really love me you'll cut them for me."
"Are you insane?" Oh, wait, don't answer that. Please.
"No, really, think about it. I've already been hospitalized for three suicide attempts. No one will think you cut my wrists. They'll just figure I finally succeeded. Come on, don't be a wimp, DO IT!"
"You've got about fifteen minutes until the police and the EMTs get here. Make the best of it." With that this man walked out of the bathroom and closed the door behind him.
I look at the world and I notice it's turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don't know how you were diverted
you were perverted too
I don't know how you were inverted
no one alerted you
Time passed and this man found himself taking his talents in working with difficult people to a place where some of the world's most difficult people reside. There was nothing all that terrible in the job itself, although he had a few issues with how his co-workers approached their jobs. Things were going fairly smoothly for him and he was enjoying life.
There always seems to be a girl. It goes back to the film noir days and perhaps earlier. It is this creeping thing in the lives of most men and many women as well. There is always a girl. It just isn't always the way you think it is going to be. The girl isn't always a love interest. She isn't always a femme fatale. Sometimes she is something else entirely.
Sometimes you find yourself facing a girl in a bathtub asking you to cut her wrists for her. That doesn't happen all that often in life. It is kind of a wild card dealt from the bottom of the deck. Sometimes you find yourself being verbally and physically attacked by a girl. That happens a bit more often. Circumstances change but it is one of those things where you have to figure out some way of handling it that makes sense within your value system. Sometimes dealing with this girl is your job and sometimes your job is to figure out how to get her to stop attacking you. And this happened to be the hand dealt to this man I've been talking about.
Sometimes things reach critical mass. There is this point where you exhaust all your skills, talents and options and find yourself digging around in an empty leather sack. One night this man reached that point. With this girl kicking him, hitting him, spitting on him and trying to bite him while calling him every name in every book he had to restrain her. She wouldn't have it. She was slippery and disgusting, covered in her own urine after pissing on herself earlier. She was nineteen. No one wanted to deal with her. That was why they assigned her to this man. He was falsely accused of having greater patience than anyone alive.
That night his patience ran out. He snapped. He held her head against the floor and told her if she didn't stop he would break her neck. Then he took her head in his hands while pinning her to the floor and twisted it enough to make his point. She didn't stop. She dared him to do it. He could have. It would have only taken one quick motion.
Instead he let go. He released her. Help had come to back him up and he begged off and insisted he needed to take a break. He walked out while the girl screamed after him, "You don't have the balls to do it! I want you to kill me! If you really cared about me you'd do it for me! I want to die! You fucking pussy! You are fucking useless! I bet you can't kill anyone! You fucking wimp!"
This man never really recovered. The girl didn't have any idea what she triggered. Or maybe, somehow in her madness, she had. After weeks of trying to get to him she finally hit the rawest nerve he had. And he didn't stop twitching for three weeks.
The angel meant something when she told him to "Give up." And sometimes everything is nothing like what it seems.
Still my guitar gently weeps.
Lyrics used with permission of George Harrison's ghost.
Someone asked my why the lyrics to "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" appear here seemingly out of character with the rest of the writeup. I was what I was listening to that night while waiting and hoping it would all end. I kept hitting replay. Just the way it is.