It is later than I think.
It always gets that way, the day squeezing itself into a vice, chipping
corners off its knees in the process, not even taking the time to open the jaws
properly, just forcing itself in like some blood-shot insulin crazed piece of
greasy soft wood. You are pounding it in
with your fist already mashing the corners because you cannot take the three seconds
to stop and open the vice another silly three-quarter turn. This is how the piece gets ruined. You have to be patient man. You
cannot make that crap without being patient.
That of course was what my father was all about. He had this sign neatly tacked to the inside
of his tool box, perfectly square, “Only those who take the time to do the
little things have the patience to attain true perfection. It was enshrined there inside his framing
square with a picture of my perfect mother and a collection of news clippings
of me. Graham Junior places first in
State on Senior Math test. Graham Junior
Takes National Merit honors. My face in
all of these clippings seems to be my first grade picture. I can’t explain this.
As I sit to compose these sentences I sense I am a kind of
mechanism lifting, turning, lowering and locking into place; again lifting,
turning, lowering and locking With
every turn I am presented with a new view, a new complexity and without notice I
am torn loose, the newly grown skin dangling between me and the oil-slicked
platter below me. I am turning. My head is numb. I can’t think. I can think.
I will think. I will not allow
myself to not think. I will …what was
it? Am I sleepy? Was someone screaming? Pounding on the door?
Well yes it is cold. I
think it is unseasonably cold even for Michigan. We were all slightly taken off balance when
global warming turned out to be something more like Global climate uncertainty. Uncertainty is truly the bed partner we are
all left with, wondering whether this is pain or not. It feels like pain. Yet so much of life is fog of one kind or
another. It is glucose fog, or you are
going to sleep fog and this pain is so close to love and they said that god is
love. That was what we were taught.
It is later than I think it is because everything has moved
by the time I have finished that thought, write it down. It has gone somewhere else, already hiding
from ourselves. And that is a little
thing. It is hardly worth mentioning at
all, but he was my father. Oh hell
another little thing you see he still is my
father such as he is and yes I could have made more of him ok, but damn it my
sister could have left me more to work with and I am still attending to little
things to please him.
I still berate and belittle myself daily for not being the
superior being my father was. “You are the superior being,” one day I finally look
at him, “Why don’t you fix things?” Oh but hell, who would I be if I did not do
things to please others. Oh this is so
awkward and stupid. It is put together
so badly. I should have written it with
gloves on. I should have typed it in the
dark with mittens. That would have
pleased him. So why didn’t you? Eh? He is
smiling his superior smile beneath his superior mustache.
But it is later than I think and there is not much time
left. There is no time for boys to crumble
beneath bullys. There is barely time to
snatch up burning fathers. I have lost
track of what time it already is, half forgotten what century, what millennium
I have placed myself in, what rock I may have hidden myself under waiting for
who knows what new housing development is about to bury me in someone’s septic system. It is later than I think it is because time has
run out of bullshit changes as some angry young men once said.
However Time does not run out. The burning fathers and begging sons alike are
not saved. Even the septic tank itself
rots in time that white hot laser boundary that eats everything that passes
through it --bullshit, change, iron, me, you or whatever. It does not run anywhere. It just stands there and slowly devours
everything that passes through because no one is allowed to pass by. There is nowhere else to go, no fence to crawl
under, and no alley to shoot down. You want a look at true perfection, just
check out the seal around that fucker.
My father’s “True Perfection” was just an idea, a bad idea
with a trap set in it like so many other ideas.
We know there is a god and that he is a merciful god because he lets our
bodies eat our brains as we get older to free us from ideas like that. My father’s bad idea reminded me of the
Buddhist’s “non-attachment” where they become so attached to non-attachment
that they end up dragged behind the blatting three-wheeler of non-attachment,
their hands bound behind their backs on some 100-plus-degree day with the hot pavement
grinding their faces off.
The universe will tempt you, if for no other reason than to
distract you. It will place magnificent
things before you at the most inconvenient times. Why? I
suspect I know and in saying so may have committed enough hubris to earn several
lifetimes of darkness and ignorance. But
in working with systems and seeing how they function, how they distract the mind
from the realities binding it in place, it is easy to imagine the universe as a
larger system with a guiding intelligence capable of using an occasional
sleight of hand to distract us from its true workings.
So my father became known as a “pain-in-the-ass”
perfectionist as well as a bully, and a few other things. I can only wonder what I became known as. The
universe rarely lets us see what we have truly made of ourselves. I have almost
become comfortable with this deceit. I
have lived with it all my life. Nor am I
foolish enough to believe that I have deceived anyone else any more than I have
been deceived myself. Here I would be
more foolish than my father or my Uncle David who was so carelessly treated by
the motorcycle thugs.
I have taken to carefully making large omelets at noon or
thereabouts. I do not necessarily want
them to be large but by the time I keep thinking of more things to put into
them and so they get larger until they fill the pan. I have thought about making them smaller,
perhaps starting with one egg. Perhaps
putting half the mixture in the refrigerator for the next morning. My day
has shifted nearly around the clock now. The sun is coming down as I dump the
eggs and shrooms into the plate and walk it over to my desk.
The desk, stove, and small refrigerator sit nearly alone in
this room in in this old building where I often come when I want to be alone. The floor is an old wooden floor, long 2x12’s
spiked together to make some kind of factory floor for heavy machinery and then
sanded and refinished about a hundred times. I am fairly safe from interruptions here. The light is glaring through a dirty window that
has some kind of film on it that would have to be taken off with acid so strong
that it would likely eat through the glass itself.
The film intensifies the glare, building up layer upon layer
and pounding on the window, amplifying the sun and I know I am going to wish I
had closed that blind. I think of the
blind closed, its fly-paper orange color and that pinhole camera puncture in it
where the sun bores in anyway. I think of that little round soiled coil of embroidery
and plastic on the end of string dangling from the blind.
I blink but all I get are those floating spots, and I blink
again and the spots float, but one of them is moving, restless.
Oh, it is a great purple bruise of a blob has somehow leapt
into my office from that idea of a blind and it is now resolving itself so that
if I tilt my head just a little I can see that the Snake is sitting across the
room from me.
People are always praying to god and complaining he does not
answer and I that I myself have—must have prayed to god at some point for
deliverance if for nothing else because I do not think there was in the end
much that I wanted more than that.
And I see people in the systems praying to god for this or
that and the thing is that we or someone can usually give them whatever they
think they want except that they are usually specifically where they are
because they have specifically asked to be there with some pretty rarified
exceptions, not that I am rarified or anything.
I tell myself I am not rarified.
I tell myself that somebody has to run the system, that somebody has to
keep the electricity on, but I know this is a lie. I just do not want to let go.
Even now I do not want to let go even though my time is
winding down and all the metaphors that I can think of are twisting themselves
into a tiny hard point of rushes to be set on the ground to be bent over to
point in this one direction and still, still after all this time I am
afraid. The alarm is sounding gently to
tell me it is time to go and I reach out without looking to silence it. Akina will be waiting, and many others, and
this time I have promised. There is no
I am attached. I
would be found guilty and would be ashed by one of my own courts if they could
find me. I think. I am not sure what they would do with me. I
wonder if they even still know I exist.
I think some do, because every now and then someone comes blustering in
all hot and panting with some exotic weapon and I have to come up with some way
for them to go away. It’s just not right
I’m telling you. It is not correct that
these people should cease to exist in these systems.
But I am sure they are ok, the dimwits who invade the system
and get themselves flushed. I believe
they began with souls and even if they kept those souls I find I believe they
have a real god who takes care of all that.
Is this what I tell myself to excuse what I may have done to my
sister? But what about my soul? Your soul will be ok. Your soul is eternal. The system is not eternal. Nothing is eternal. Your soul will supersede the system. I said that so easily. I believed it too, didn’t I?
I don’t spend too long wondering how she got in, because
wonder is an old habit and a new lifestyle.
I’m already remembering that pinhole sunspot that invaded my mind just a
while back, sliding through a greasy brown shade that had not quite been
pulled, but only thought of. For any
woman to get herself a name like that in this system takes all kinds of deeds
and I am more interested in how I am going to get myself out but she has
already seen me seeing her and I know that she is not here by accident.
She has come here or has been waiting here to see or do me
in one way or another. That is plain so
I go ahead and sit down with the sun in my eyes. That was bad in the old
westerns. Why had I not shut that blind? I had thought about it. It was that thought that she slid in on. She knows me that much? This is not going to
go well. I cannot even make out the look
on her face as the sits there, an off-side spot boiling out of the corona of
I’m thinking maybe I will get up and go close that damn
blind. I’ll just have to lean over her a
little. It makes me feel queasy exposing
my belly to her that way. It is too
close and there are too many memories and I am not safe. The phrase Not Safe flashes over and over and
over in my mind. I’m thinking the blind
is closed now. That is how she got in. Or is it open. She closed it to get in. It was how she
thought her way through things. She
started with the fly paper.
The sun is an oversized glob of melted something bad stuck on
the hot skillet of the vacant buildings across the street. Even the holes where there is no glass to
reflect the image are plugged by the blind spot it has burned in the wall of my
building. Pretty soon there will be
nothing left but crisp. Crisp is pretty much what we left ourselves to
live on by the end of the Last century. The Greatest generation they called
themselves. This self-adulation was a
little premature. Their grandchildren would
curse them call them Demons and die of hunger.
Maybe I will get lucky and she will only want money. It is always about money. That is what I have convinced myself to
excuse my behavior, but I know it is not simple. I know that they need the money, that we all
need some form of it to survive, even here, to get here in the first place and
even if it is the only goal, that everyone gets confused at some point in the
game, in the negotiations. Things stop
being simple. People become people: The
scammers become victims. The victims
become hunters. Things get turned
I realize I don’t have any money and won’t have any money
until Wednesday. I never have any money
when she comes. I have already given her
all my money. She has bored holes in my
head and sucked out all the juice and the jelly globs and scraped the meaty
stuff off the skull. She has made me do
whatever she told me to do so I have given her all my money and then I have
signed over my home and possessions and I have borrowed to the extent of my
credit limit until I was financially exhausted.
It looked like a Medicaid nursing home spend-down. Through the eye of the needle. Dragging you through the jaws of that
merciless die scraping off houses, cars, clothing, children, skin, eyeballs,
fingers, oh hell, what can fit through the eye of a needle anyway? Maybe your soul if you’ve got one. In the end we all look the same. Some have better accommodations. But we are all in that tiny efficient room
with that anonymous attendant and our assless bottom hanging out of that
hospital gown with the missing tie down strips waiting to be transferred to the
She will never believe me and it always feels like she is
angry. I had to be one of those boys who
grew up wanting to please everyone, one of those idiots who also stuck his head
into every buzz saw he passed. I had to
be one of those who would give a stranger the shirt off his back. Go on, ask him. He'll do it.
I've seen him. It’s a gas.
It’s not that she
will hurt me in any real way, well, not that anyone will see immediately… It is
the sun. Now that might hurt me.
That sun is burning holes in my retinas. Or maybe it is the sugar. I was always confused as to whether it was the
sugar or the insulin that did the real damage, but I believe it is the sugar
because it really went to town when your body could no longer produce
insulin. Long carbon chains of sweet acid
burning holes in wet fleshy meat, frying the backs of your eyeballs, torching
the bottom off your brain mass, sucking the nerves out of your fingers and toes
like sweet meat out of the broken claws
of a boiled lobster.
The Crone said the Snake did not exist, that I was just
still trying to find someone who had left years ago but who I was unable or
unwilling to forget. This person was
more like a personal trauma I was told, so I found the Snake to torture me
instead. When you want a job done right,
you hire a professional. I had heard that she was in country on fake
papers. I didn’t really hear. I had sort
of arranged, but honestly I think she spread some of these rumors herself to
terrify the guys over in Hartland.
She pulled an extraordinary booger out of her nose,
inspecting it as if it were a potential business partner…at least that was what
I made out in the swimming sunspot. My
eyes wanted to go out for a walk by themselves. Wiping her hand on the arm of
my chair, she waved it me with a sign of dismissal and said, “Useless.” Maybe I
was supposed to have initiated some conversation. Her English was not so good. She unslouched herself from the chair and
strutted out of my office with the door snicking shut behind her. My door never snicks.