When the Acropolis Tribune reporter asked why, Atlas gave a simple statement,
"It was too heavy"
I'm writing this by the will of chilled wine. For a long time, I repressed the nature of this story because, like Atlas, I set the sky down for a spell. Now, like we know Atlas did, I'm ready to pick the sky back up.
If I could describe this life with one image, it would be a vague cloudy memory I have. I am lying underneath an enormous elm in spring. I can hear the stretched verb of a red wing blackbird. When it stops, I only have the blue that blinks through the variegated foliage of the tree canopy. That blue absorbed me. I drank from it, and let the insides of the blue dry up outside me. The blue was too heavy, so I put it down.
My uncle is dying. Years of swillin' booze is making his ass leak blood. He is a shaking, shallow shell of the man who used to squeeze my shoulder too hard and who took me fishing for bullheads. I miss his red neck already. If that sounds harsh, because I used some slang rhetoric describing a country guy that issues negative connotations, don't sweat it. My uncle Jim always had a red neck on account of drinking and working in the hot sun of Western Illinois. I inherited his iron gut and smile.
Most of my old friends have recently admitted that they are 'phonies'. Holden Caulfield style and everything. Selling out is one thing, comparing it to a piece of literature is plain weak. I want to tell them to keep being themselves, but they talk about 'having a partner' and kids and such. I feel like slapping them and giving them a hug simultaneously. They talk about making money and I laugh that the world still goes 'round without me having any. I am a phony too, but not in the Holden Caufield sort of way. My phony resides only in the neglect of my spirit.
When I was a little boy, I swallowed the sorrow of the world. The angels tricked me and wept for their unjust motive. Victory wrapped her wings around me and Cupid cried. My eyes leaked often when I went to bed at night, I used to wipe the tears away and streak them on my bed board. Being a little boy, I didn't know any better, so I kept it all locked up inside like a stolen treasure.
I gulped sorrow down; I saw poverty and death. I felt hunger and abuse. I tasted blood. I heard screaming and cries. I smelled aerosol spray; for hair, for deodorant, for furniture polish, for killing insects… alcohol. My stomach and soul were too full.
If you go to the towns in Western Illinois, everyone knows my Uncle Jim as Tony *******. He took my grandfather's first name when they gave the namesake to the youngest, my Uncle Tony, who was born almost eighteen years after my Uncle Jim. Jim felt that the first born son should have the name and he took it.
Every friend I have adores me, despite my self loathing. Apparently, I give them lots of love. I don't even spend lonely nights anymore, a girl now warms the other side of the bed. It being Valentines Day and all, I can say she loves me.
I used to sit in bed waiting for the pounding in my head to stop. I would wait for the tears to cease. Sobbing, my parents would often give a soft tap on the painted pine door of my room.
Are you Okay?" They would ask.
I always responded that I was, even though the sorrow of the world was crushing me between her fingertips. They couldn't know, I never told them.
Cupid cried and Victory veiled her own sorrow with games.
I gave up on the sorrow when I began to have an unfortunate reversal of nerves. I had to forget it and let it go with apathy. I didn't want the responsibility that lay inherent. Hard slap remembering I was stuck with it. I jacked up my Levi's and squared my shoulders. I cried with Cupid and tasted life. I felt Blue. I felt strong and alive. I felt like Atlas picking up the sky. Then I grew.