THE CELESTINE MOCKERY
A hitchhiker's guide to the fallacy...EPISODE XI: the celestine mockery.
(If you still have no fucking clue about what's going on, I hear they have a sale at Dillard's.)
It was the crack of Noon on Sunday, and my hips ached as long and deeply as last night’s sleep, fearing only Monday—for I would wake up wronged so sweetly this morning and no other. Not a curse remained in my heart—except for sunlight, not a thought strong in my head—except “I hate that damned light,” nor did one drop of semen escape, reside or remain the long course of the night. My poetic flow remained intact, I thought—but no way had my nerves or liver survived. My conscience lived only by non-involvement in this trip. I headed into the shabby lobby, across its dirty floors and derelicts they cradled for the evening. Constant fresh pots of greasy coffee were the sole percolated perks this dive contained. And because it was The South, an airline pocket bottle of Tabasco was nearby, nestled close to creamers copped from convenience stores, and a Big Gulp cup that held clumped sugar and the eggs of a thousand flies. The reasons for drinking my coffee black grew stronger everyday. And the reasons for my delight in leaving, despite the forever of those two hours to come, were stronger, still, than that. I felt every bit as bitter as the caffeinated black bile that likely painted my throat much in the way it had left its crude mark on my violated styrofoam cup. But then, joy does not come in the morning for me. It might arrive for someone else, but I’ve clearly never waked in time to see it. As I began to guzzle my third cup of the motels’ “continental breakfast package,” the seedy young white punk of a desk clerk tapped my shoulder, and asked “Which one of y’all is Gabriel?” I groaned. I turned. I swallowed first my coffee, then my pride. “That would be me, I’m afraid.” “Well, you’ve got a message, brother-man.” Ignoring that he called me “brother-man,” I was moved deeply with selfless generosity and Christ-like loving-kindness to let him continue living until my caffeine kicked in. “Okay…” I replied in sigh, “I give. Who, what and where?” “I dunno. It was in my tray when I got here. It’s all scribbled on a tiny little note.” “Oh boy. My quivering mouth waters in raw, unchained anticipation. Gimme.” The clerk put down what appeared to be some sort of B & D/S & M book with a fake-out wrap-around Gideon Bible cover. He then picked the stale, half-eaten Ding-Dong off a familiar-looking scrap of yellow notepaper, laying it atop his Bad Good Book. He handed the note to me, and said, “Is that supposed to be sarcasm?” Retrieving the suspicious epistle in question, I nodded toward his sparse, blonde struggle for facial hair, and replied, “Is that supposed to be a goatee?” He extended a New York one-finger wave, and wandered off. I read my little letter. Then I stared into space for awhile. Then I laughed loudly, and searched for some quiet place where I could laugh with Creation alone, and Cry for Happy until it was finally time to leave. The note read, “Oh Ye of Little Faith, Be not afraid, for I AM with you. Be not sad, but fear God; for some have entertained angels unaware. Love, Indrid.” Oh dear. “Yeah, buddy,” I said to myself, “I definitely fear God right about now. In fact, there may very well be a phobia in the works.” Oh my. Oh no. I asked his name; he said he was cold. He signed the note “Indrid.” In John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies, the weird humanoid spook from planet Lanulos was named “Indrid Cold.” He was one of those still-unexplained phantasms that seemed to exist only to boggle minds, contradict theories, and be one more Weird Thing you didn’t want to believe in. Yeah…it was probably a coincidence—I’m building too much into it, correct? I certainly didn’t want to believe. And I didn’t want to believe I entertained angels, though I had no doubt that many an angel had been entertained at my expense. As had every Host of Heaven, and All of Creation, in divine, twisted, holy, morbid delight. It was time to leave, though the room was paid through Monday. With a packed bag, gorged to stretching seams with cheap beads and pricey books like…like…oh never mind. I was too burnt-out and confused for even vile metaphors. I waited by the Meat Wagon for the others. Jesse napped in the driver’s seat. Rick remained a no-show, leaving a tacky all-American man-purse, the last one-third of his Allegra, three love-battered Barely Legal and Cheri mags, an awful pair of sandals, and several perfectly good blue clay night-masks. We wondered if he’d return in time for any of it. Jesse flipped a coin as to whether or not we took his stuff back home with us, and dumped it on his parents. I flipped a coin as whether I placed the Cheri all-anal issue or the cover-less “year in face-fucking” magazine on top for Ma and Pa. Rick lost both tosses, and I suppose so did Ma and Pa, as we left it all sitting by the mirror. Carl came back with a stupid grin on his face that somehow stood out among all his other stupid grins. Maybe it was the delivery, or maybe it was his clever use of gingivitis; he just made it work. Grateful for his contributions on the trip, I felt I owed him some quality-time. So before we left, he helped me write “Goodbye!” on the bathroom mirror with blue clay and allergy pills. The ride home was without incident, quiet and simple. The only notable memory was a gas station detour, after eating at some restaurant that used to be one of the larger Shoney’s in the sunny wastelands of northern Mississippi. Carl was griping about our over-usage of his gas card. He was really pitching a fit. Jesse finally agreed to pay, but made an odd face upon reaching in his pocket—as if his hand hit the wrong side of a snotty tissue. He pulled out some bent copper thing and said, “Fuck! I forgot to return the other room key!” We were halfway home, I assured him, and with yet a single difficulty. This was no big deal, I consoled. There were two keys, and I distinctly remembered giving one to Rick, earlier. I put it in his bag, by the mirror. All Creation mocked all that was created, and all the time, at that. And sometimes, It’s grace allowed us the rare chance to chuckle, too.
* * * I can count on one hand the times I have ever seen Rick since the trip. Through the good taste of those in my circle, and that of Fate, no one that I know is close enough to the man to ever give him refuge near my presence anytime soon. I have yet to see Jesse or Carl, ever. But this is frail solace, for this world is vast with yuppies and gimps, and more than a few, I assure you, who have rubber limbs and cadaverous vans, and are bisexual. The Note From Beyond was curiously missing upon my return home. The Skeptic is not surprised. Frankly, there exists curiously little recollection of the two hours connecting my reception of the Note, and getting in the van. It is an utter blank. I don’t even remember the name of our motel, apart from that the sign read simply “_otel.” Perhaps the “M” was early prey to the weird Black Hole that swallowed the Note, Rick’s disposable camera, two hours of my life, and that asymmetrical, meaty lump in Jesse’s van. Well, Carl might have snagged the lump. Seven-hundred miles and several days from the Strange Day of the Lord, I was left with the notion that God may be with us, perhaps laughing that very moment…but He was not laughing with us.THE MOTHERFUCKING END.Tomorrow: Epilogue & Afterthoughts!)+(
CLEAN BOOBIES, CLEAR MIND
Go fish, Mr. President.
Episode X: Clean boobies, clear mind. (If you have no fucking clue what's going on, go down about...oh nevermind. Just fucking shoot me.) The beer-battered banter and slurred speech of the Dream Team remained all but a malt-liquor memory, a flickering failure of mammals to communicate. And still, I felt the hypocrite. There was something rotten in Denmark, and I could smell it from New Orleans. Bored, I wandered into the wretched club the others left. At least there were real girls there. The club was a full blown assault on the senses: every sense of pride, of style, of taste, and of common sense were completely ravaged by the tassle-titted, pole-grinding dancers with their cash-snatching winks and colorful drawn expressions, and the cash, winks, and expressions drawn by their colorful snatches. Every blue-haired honey had a blue honeycomb to match. I eyed one dancer who was adorned by long, thick dreadlocks. I was dying to know if the carpet matched the drapes on her, as well. The tawdriest things about the club were the ridiculously cheap lap-dances, the center floor shower stall, and the passionless performances of heterosexual girls pretending that they weren’t. And then, after a certain hour passed, the “main feature” was unveiled: for $50, you could “wash the girl of your choice!” The girls sprawled out nude in a tub, and you were given a scrub-brush, a bar of soap, and five minutes to engage in the dirtiest act of cleanliness in town. Something about all of this troubled me deeply; but I couldn’t place the source of my enmity anywhere. It was a Zen-like angst that simply was. Maybe it was the way the dancers smiled and made you feel like you were everything they had been waiting for. Maybe it was when I heard one discuss the fate of some poor, dumb schmuck who was collecting change for cab-fare home, after being a bit too generous with his tipping—and all to girls who mocked him later. Another bragged about her skillful moans of “I’m horny!”, and the windfalls of dollars it produced during a lap-dance. Every conversation left me jaded and cynical, and not about to part with one damned cent. And then I saw her. When the portly, mustachioed host introduced the cattle-call of ladies available for bath-time, I finally saw my red-haired Ice Queen in all her gleaming goddess glory. The carpet matched the drapes, and my heartbeat matched the pounding disco beats providing the soundtrack to it all. Then something snapped inside—a fuzzy moment of clarity making it all so hideous again. I felt my first and only flicker of shame in ages. Something cried in disgust, yet I craved its every inch and contour. I moped about the club for a moment, torn between a clean heart and a clean girl. Then something altogether different caught my eye. My only thought remained, “You must be joking..?!” Far into the corner, amidst white-fedora-wearing pimps and chain-bearing leather-boys, was a grizzled old black man clad in a dirty T-shirt and blue overalls. He was dispensing Tarot readings for $5 a pop. OK…I give. He looked oddly familiar, as if maybe I’d seen him earlier at one of the voodoo shops I visited on Bourbon, or maybe a security guard somewhere. Oh what the hell. How could I resist? Creation might be mocking me here; but I was owed a punchline, if nothing else. I sat down, and dropped my money on the table. Taking me by surprise, he clutched my hand, wadding the money back into it. He closed his eyes for a moment, nodding…shaking…holding my hand and dollars all the while. He then opened his eyes, and looked clear into mine, if not clearly through. “What do you come for? You already know this stuff.” “Huh?” “You know this! You come to me to make it different? I’m sorry my friend. Your demons got to stay. You won’t get healthy asking the name of the train before it hits you.” “Excuse me?” He proceeded to lay out his Tarot cards like a game of Three-Card Monty. “Pick a card. Any.” I did this three times. The first card was to represent myself. This was, of course, “The Fool.” He then put all three cards facedown, and switched them quickly around like a corner New York hustler. “Find yourself,” he solemnly commanded. I watched him closely enough—I went for the card on the left. It was, in fact, “Death.” “You see yourself in that? I hope not, brother. Try again.” I grabbed the center card. This was “The Devil.” “You see yourself like that quite a bit, eh? It’s not so true—not all of the time. You had to look.” “I suppose. That wasn’t what I was shooting for…” “No, but you chose it. Given a second chance, you chose it. And I reckon you didn’t shoot for Death, either—but he certainly popped up at you, the first chance he got, didn’t he?” “Fair enough.” “Fair? Boy, there’s nothing fair about it! Take another card.” I picked up the last card, and scratched my head. It was “the Devil” again. I asked, “How did you do that?” “Me? I didn’t do nothin’. You went lookin’ for him again!” “No, I didn’t! This is ridiculous. I was looking for…” “Don’t argue with me, boy! You been looking for the Devil at every turn. And you been finding him, too. That’s ‘cause you might be a smart one—your eyes don’t miss too much, except…” He paused for a moment to pull out a slim, leather make-up case of sorts. He opened it and waved the mirror part around, then smacked it against the counter until the glass popped out in one piece. Behind the glass was the “Fool” card. This was unique. I felt like he earned the right to dispense the clichés, having worked for this one so hard. “Except—” he continued, waving the card around in my face, “You still can’t manage to find that damned fool behind the mirror!” “Nice trick.” He got a bit stern with me. “It sure as Hell will be a nice trick if you find him! He’s out looking for the Devil, and beggin’ for Death from the very start.” “I though that was me out there looking.” “That’s more like it—there you go, son! You’re on your way.” I swallowed my nerve, and another shot of Jagermeister. I'd go out for some absinthe later on. “This was all very nice, sir, and you really have a lot of ‘charming local color,’ and all…But you haven’t answered a single question. In fact, you haven’t even asked me any questions.” “Well, what do you want, brother—my questions, or your answers?” As a sweaty Creole cutie poured a glass of King Kobra for him, I cleared my throat, and spit out my concerns. “Well, I’ve been seeing, and hearing, and feeling these things…” “And you’ve seen ‘em, and heard ‘em, and felt ‘em all before. This is nothing new. Admit it. You just got used to callin’ on Sweet Jesus to chase ‘em off for you, like sewer rats or closet monsters. I’m guessin’ that you don’t do that no more. I guess you got your reasons. I always like to see folks get along with the Good Lord. But shit happens. I don’t question it. And there is no question that Certain Things have continued to see, and hear, and feel you long after you gave up on Them. And maybe your demons are just a wee bit pissed that you keep blaming them for the stupid folk around you.” “That bothers me. I’m no better than anybody else, but some people just make me cringe—people I would define as shallow. But I fail to see how I’m any wealth of depth, myself.” He nodded and rolled a cigarette. “Don’t cut yourself short. If you know to look for something more, you’ve already got one leg up on those folk who don’t, and those folk who ‘got it,’ but never searched for it. The Devil don’t make people sin or be shallow, or be whores or nothin’. People are just stupid whores all by their lonesome, sometimes.” “I’m not sure I believe in the Devil anymore,” I yawned. “Then why the Hell you go looking for him to begin?!” Oh dear God, we’re back to this. I sighed, “I didn’t go looking for him…” He took a long, lung-buttering, windpipe-cooking drag. “Sure you did. I know it. You saw him in the mirror, right? And ever since you saw him in that mirror, you been going around, peeping your head in everyone else’s mirror—just to see if there’d be two of you. And guess what? He don’t exist—but there he is, everywhere you look. He and God are tricky like that.” “Well, I only believe in God because He messes with me so much.” “I can see that. You know why? I’ll tell you what else I see—get me another beer first, I’m getting dry here.” I ordered another King Kobra. He continued, “I see a young man who wants to change the world, but can’t keep himself from changing long enough to start.” “This is eerily true. I’ll give you that one.” “Of course it’s true. This too: You want to change the world, but you don’t want to set foot in the world to do it. You need to come to grips with this world, and the sleazy hellhole that it is, and then find your place in that sleazy hellhole—‘cause maybe, when you figured out who the Fool’s been all along, you can change it all…and make it into a hellhole you can live with.” I got up, thanked him, and bought another King Kobra to shut him up. As I walked toward the door, I heard him shout, “Find your place in this hellhole before you go changin’ it around!” I smiled and nodded, then moved along at a faster pace. He caught up with me. As I turned to face him, searching in my mind for nice ways to say “Bugger off,” he drunkenly said, “Thanks for the beer, brother—that’ll be fine. But damn it, boy—don’t you leave! I saw you earlier, looking around. Don’t leave now. Damn it, boy, take your money and wash your girl!” I stared blankly for a moment. “Do what?” “You heard me! What, you can hear the Great Beyond, but not an old drunk black man right in front of you?! I said, Wash your girl, young man! Do it! Don’t just walk away and jerk off over it later. Wash your girl, man—wash your girl!” Oh very well…anything for closure. I felt like the emerging champion in a Japanese cartoon. Dropping half of my last hundred dollars for God-knew-how-long into the bucket, I arose to meet the cold eyes and faked smile of my redheaded Final Round Grand Prize. I stood tall and erect in so many senses, clutching soap and sponge like The Matrix in the Transformers Movie. I felt like Hot Rod becoming Rodimus Prime, but without one Decepticon afoot to snicker at my name. I could almost hear the Stan Bush soundtrack in the background, proclaiming that I “had the touch,” as I wrung the sponge out over the Ice Queen’s glistening, thawing parts. What transpired beyond this was irrelevant, if not unremarkable. Reality and swollen fiction cock-fought intermittantly on this trip; but in the end, I didn't care. The reality was that I was broke and no more deeply fulfilled within than I was ten minutes past. But reality is largely what one can get away with...and this was a reality I could accept, a punchline of my own doing and design. No gods can forgive a life not lived, and it was time that I ceased living just to die--living with guilt at having lived, and the wreckless bids for death I daily made. It was time I ceased dodging bullets, and isolate where the war might be within. This world was a rancid hellhole, a semen-splattered crusty asshole, of hopes raped in the jails of our design. And it is ruled only by those who are driven and determined enough to make it into a hellhole they feel proud of. And today I felt that swelling pride. Actually, that was the absinthe; nevermind. A greasy, Godless world before me—a peaceful, sleazy feeling within—I stepped out of the den of iniquity, realizing it was no different than anywhere else I’d leave my footprints in.
TO BE CONTINUED... )+(
Wait...no...I'm sure of it now...
EPISODE IX: descended masters, or "Crying Games"
(If you've no idea what's going on...I can't do nothin' for ya, man. The Man done got me down.)
A sober half-wit will always be wiser than the most gifted, chessmaster intellectual who is drunk. Despite Jesse’s nonsense wino rhetoric, no bottle of booze in existence—regardless of malt, price range, or reputation among other inebriates—has ever been, nor ever will be, a “wise liquor,” a “spiritual drink,” any “worker of love,” or anything apart from an alcoholic pipe dream…a “bourbon legend.” It was mere logic: The piss-ant, when pissed on, does not become more “ant.” Thus, no drunken man, upon further drinking, has ever become more “man.” However, some have compared favorably with the aforementioned ant.
As I wandered past some vile watering hole that smacked of every movie strip club I ever saw, there was Rick—ineffectively hailing a cab for Jesse, who was rubbing party beads like rosaries, and hailing Mary.
Rick cried, “Dude! Help me get rid of him!”
“Oh man…I just met the hottest chick! She wants me to go home with her!”
“I see. Look…I’ll watch Jesse for a while; you two go back to the motel for a bit. I don’t think it’s a great idea to go home with anybody…um…there’s some weird shit in this town….that’s all.”
Rick lowered his voice, and pulled me to the side. “Look, guy—she just smoked me in the bathroom, and I totally creamed her face! Totally! This is an all-nighter, man—I wanna ice her donuts! There’s no way I’m leaving tomorrow morning! I’ll catch a bus or something—I won’t lose this!”
Before the curses could leave my lips, Rick’s Lady of the Soon-To-Be-Iced-Donuts wrapped her full-figured form around his. She was very pretty, but familiar.
Rick exclaimed in pride, “Dude! This is Xandria!”
I shook her long, bony but well-manicured hand. “Nice to meet you,” I said. “I love your catalog.” She smiled and winked in return.
Rick pulled me to the side again, as Jesse’s cab finally arrived. “Dude,” he whispered, as I prepared to concede him a victory, “Isn’t she fine? I met her at the Oz!”
I paused for a moment. I, the prolific writer, was grasping for a single word at reach. “Not possible…” is all I remembered stammering at the moment. This was sitcom territory.
Rick caught my startle, and replied, “Now wait a second, guy—I know what you’re thinking!”
I drearily nodded, “Do you?”
“Dude, of course! But the Oz must be a franchise or something. There’s more than one!”
“Oh. I see. That clears that up, doesn’t it?”
“She is, like, so eager! I bet she knows a lot of tricks!”
“I’m sure she does. Big ones.”
Rick lowered his voice even softer, “Damn straight. Hey, I bet she even takes it up the ass, dude!”
“Rick,” I paused, “I would bet my life on it. Enjoy yourself, man.”
And with that, he thanked me as the greatest, and left me—and my blank stare—far behind.
TO BE CONTINUED...
VIVA COCK VEGAS
Caution: slow children...
Episode VIII: viva cock vegas.
(If you've no clue what's going on here...go down about a thousand posts. Then remove about two ribs on each side, and go down on yourself. I really don't have time for this.)
I was spared the satisfaction of relief for any lengthy stretch. The only lengthy stretch I knew of involved the limits of patience, and faith in my own sanity any longer. Rick had vanished down Burgundy without a trace. Jesse was worried. To make matters worse, Carl kept trying to ditch us. I could only guess his motives, but he stroked his pocket a good deal. I didn’t want to know any more. Jesse was the sanest of the lot, and he had enough alcohol in pickled system to single-handedly save his family the immeasurable toil and expense of ever needing to embalm his corpse. His gentle nature was at present betrayed by the odor of his clothing. I winced at every cigarette lit near him. I felt myself growing crankier and less reasonable with each exhausted footfall.
“Maybe he hit the Oz,” Carl offered, “Rick lovestechno…” I almost accused Carl of being too drunk or stupid to live—the Oz was a club back home, near the East Side. I occasionally frequented it myself. I couldn’t believe Carl was so loopy as to…wait—I saw the sign. How could I have missed it? The Oz must have been a franchise of some sort, because before my very eyes was a club bearing that same name, and a definite visual resemblance to the one I knew. Sure, I could picture him retreating in there. I also pictured myself retreating in there…alone, and not actually looking for anyone. But by the time I gathered my words, I lost my teammates. Oh well. I figured that I had until the end of the night to locate them, or for them to locate me. With yellow bricks traded for neon lights, I was off to see the Wizard.
Little did I know then that one man’s “Oz” was another man’s Harriet. Once again, all Creation was set to mock me. You know, I am still in awe that anything continues to be accomplished in the universe when All Creation concentrates upon the mockery and ridicule of one man.
I attempted dance and frolic with a number of thick-lashed Goth ladies. I bought a drink for one who returned steady winks and gestures. There were a number of elaborate dresses, but not one I could find that did not extend to the neck. Though many a well-stacked set, there was not an ounce of cleavage in the house. I made little conversation with any of them, yet many feminine motions shouted boldly to my Id. The air was made murky and thick by nicotine, cloves, pot and even stage smoke. The music pulsed and pounded in Rave fashion, with bright glimmering, flickering lights adding to its primal throb. I felt a soft hand stroke my hair from behind, and reach, then rub in greedy strokes around my waist, then swiftly past and underneath my belt. So quick and worshipfully delicate, it bolted and brushed past my lower front lawn before I could even contemplate a face. Lightning fingers merely a bare pulse and crucial quarter-inch from my Southern Pride, I spun around to face my aggressor…and with equal lightning reflex, tore his manly man-loving arm from my trousers and nearly from its socket.
Murder—manlove-manslaughter—swelled within, enraged that some crass, uninvited prick-loving prick nearly succeeded in his silken sick bent to milk my serpent. Resisting Ego’s insisting that I show him true venom, I stormed to the bathroom to cool. This was a poor move. With gay apparel, mighty Man Francisco filled the very doorway, as my eyes unveiled it was I who had transgressed. For at that very moment, there existed not one smudged and splattered urinal that lacked a raised skirt or hand-held crumpled wig before it. It was then that I turned to face the sweltering crowd I fled, with eyes to see and ears to hear all that truly was. A moment of clarity unzipped before me, revealing the Large Hairy Cock of Reality erect in my direction.
The thick, stroked make-up, high-necked tops, and uncleavaged, swollen chests of all I sought to sin with…their deep voices and large hands, as if by magick, at once and at last became seen. Despite the hetero, co-ed nature of my Midwestern Oz, there was not one vagina, not one solitary set of la femme labia, nor one real and reddening clitoris to be found in this Gomorrah Ocean of square pegs at hunt for round holes, men who would be Rob Halford, and multi-pierced, hooped ears that longed for Depeche Mode. I had been viciously, unforgivably tricked. What gave the warm glow of shelter, was merely the swelling lust and hunger of men who were yet were not, the men who loved them, and those jaded meat-mad few who did not care.
This was Drag Night.
This bright, spinning carnival of souls was in fact a whirling Fairy-Go-Round. I held no prejudice of gay men, truly—it was only my inflating hated of all creatures that bore Man’s likeness, straight, gay, or flavor-of-the-moment gimps…this was all that gnashed my teeth. For the Universe had upon this sick night left me, poorly-lubed on either side, alone in the Daisy Chain of Life. This was not the emerald Oz I knew, but the flashing scrotum bulbs of lighted penile signs, each and all proclaiming the loose, puckered slots of one-armed bandits and one-eyes serpents…each and all, with glee singing “Welcome to Cock Vegas.”
And then, there was the sign that advised of Thursday Night Drag Bingo.
Drag Bingo? Fate was exceptionally cruel tonight. I had been duped by the Powers That Be fast, hard and without mercy. But I had to give Them a twisted sort of credit: even I would never have thought of “Drag Bingo” on my own. There was not a “real” woman anywhere near this club. The seizure-inducing lights and date-rape-friendly heavy smoke and hard drinks glossed over this detail nicely. And if the magic seduction of the dark bathroom blowjob was afoot, then any mildly intoxicated college stud could conceivably flirt and even score without ever suspecting he consorted with dude or dick. And given the wicked gloat that Fate seemed to revel in these days, every mouth that kissed or blew him was, down the satin buttons, connected to a cock far larger than his own.
To their credit, the queens were mostly very nice—and incredibly skilled at their craft. Female Impersonation was an art, I realized—a St. Louis based friend of mine had exhibited this in numerous pageants. Any other night, I might have kicked back and enjoyed the show. Tonight was no good, though. Smiling and apologizing to all that did not grab my ass, I calmly ignored those who did on my lonely hetero way to the door. Mine was not to judge; it was just to leave. I just wasn’t in Kansas, anymore.
TO BE CONTINUED...
EXTRA SENSORY DECEPTION
Priority #1: Write witty caption. EPISODE VII: extra sensory deception
(If you're just plain fucking clueless at all of this...go down a bunch of posts, and hey--whule you're at it, would you make me a sandwich?)
Back amid familiar unknowns, alas, I had feared the bulk of my flesh-chasing fun likely peaked earlier in the day—when I first broke away, to travel unshackled from the ball and chains at loss for balls and brains. It was during these eventful hours—interrupted by the Bourbon Street Revival Team—that I obtained and maintained my most memorable sensations and damned revelations.
Earlier, as the last of seemingly endless parade floats circled the block, various crude metaphors and allegories began to emerge from that repressed lobe of my brain—the one that searched for depth and meaning, and hated everyone.
I watched as beautiful, conservative women and shy college girls giddily and gleefully degraded themselves for the slurred begging and tired come-ons of drunken frat-boys—scared virgins and once-reserved fiancées, discarding lifelong concepts of “chaste” or “sacred” with little fanfare, emotion, or quality. All for Some Big Party, I thought, something given to forever could be traded in the instant; and life-affecting decisions were changed like sex positions, all in the name of the Lonely Now...with only alcohol to hush the Inevitable Then.
And then I slapped myself really, really hard…because I just happened to be one of those drunken frat boys right now, and was hoping for just that sort of wicked luck tonight.
I also remembered, earlier on, making a few observations about the whole Bead Thing. I never fully understood the Bead Thing. What was it about worthless plastic trinkets that warranted the screaming passions and miniature mosh pits that encamped along the edge of the parade? I saw lots of old or unfortunate-looking people with heaps of beads—it didn’t help them a bit. One poor hunched and hatchet-faced sap had mountains of very “desirable” beads, stretching his neck out like a tribal giraffe-man. He pleaded “Show me your tits!” at no fewer than fifteen gals in my presence. All who did not ignore him obliged his presence only by a sneer or snicker. None of them followed the rules. If the rules do not extend to all, why bother? Spare giving time- and money-wasting hope to those who have no chance of winning. The rules of any game, despite what is written, will always follow the Golden Rules of the herd: that the screwed must remain the screwed; and no beads are desirable if the man beneath is not.
Then I had to smack myself really hard again…because I had blindly walked past many a lonely fat girl, flashing to the stomach churns of all. And last I turned my head—the weight and pinching of my neck informed me—I was at no loss for those petty, cheap and pretty things myself. And as I began to damn the winners, mass flashbacks of flashed fronts appeared; and I realized I had yet to lose today.
A pale, porcelain-skinned and voluptuous redhead commanded the only instance of ego-grinding and unrequited lust that day. She leaned against the side-door of some dancehall meat market far beneath the grade of her prime cuts and primal parts. Her icy blue eyes were alive with an undirected, universal spite that seemed aimed at anyone whose gaze she caught creeping barely near to her complex and complex-inducing presence. Her voice was silent, but her clothing loud. She said nothing at all quite often, yet every uncommon, queenly inch screamed “bitch” and “leave me be.”
She was eerie…intimidating. I walked past her twice, trying to peer through my shades. Each time, she stared coldly back. The second time was worse, as it had become too late and dark to convince her that the shades were used for any other purpose than to gawk. I would wager that she was used to this.
I was winding down, but unable to unwind. I had wasted too much time with false leads and naïve, chatty girls who teased for talk and amaretto sours. All the first-choices were chosen first by others, and settled. But it was too early in the evening to retreat without a fight. The last of Carl’s money would go to entertaining some young harlot, or entertaining merely the thought of paying some older, business-minded harlot to pretend she longed for every bead I wore.
But why resign to fate when it has yet to prove it ever employed you? I searched high and low, for girls who may be high, or those that may be low enough, to join me for the lowest high I know.
Some mousy, pierced brunette had just enough drawl and draw to fully beguile my guile-full being to her table. She rattled for an hour about music, with which I could impress. My rock-hack credentials, up North, read “Screwed,” but translated to “Screw Me” in the South. With her stoner friends in tow, I rode along to her room, to wasted time and roommates. Trading bands we knew, we swapped sounds when friends were present, and fluids at every bathroom break they weren’t. From her bathroom, I studied her as she walked back to the blackjack game we played with her slowing, smoking friends. I measured and imagined her potential naked form, and swished around the taste left in my mouth. Not perfectly shaped, not overly groomed…but acceptable game in such moments. “She’ll do,” I thought, drying my hands. Then—for one sole, harrowing moment—as I stared at myself in her mirror…I felt like something else was staring back.
I pulled her to the side, later, and showed her what years of typing could do to fingers. Better was what those fingers could do for her…eighty words a minute, and seven wide-eyed full-body shivers in half that time. She agreed to “drive the poor, tired guy home.” We hit my filthy room, and its filthy bed…and labored long moments to make it filthier than it had ever been. She thought to shower before she left, but upon seeing that shower, realized she’d need another shower just from that. Already feeling the nagging, post-coital drain that wearied of her company as quickly as it was consumed, I suggested her friends could be worried, and showed her out. Lingering at the door like a lonely Mormon, she lovingly unsettled me with an unwelcome need for unbroken eye contact. I had her name, her number, her address, her devotion, and several of her tastes and smells still lingering. And I hoped as one who hated hope, to leave all and every one of these behind. Scratching the weathered door, she said, “What’s your room number? ‘23’? ‘28’? It’s barely there. I’d love to see you later…it’s only eleven.”
“Oh…yes. It’s ‘28’.” I stripped to wash my filthy self in our filthy shower—rinse off the nookie-nectar, lest the flesh-jester fester. I paused to look in the mirror on the way. Something just unnerved me. Somehow, some way…someone else looked back. I studied my features for a moment. They seemed almost foreign to me. Everything felt distorted, somehow…my edges and symmetry exaggerated. Behind my irritated eyes, and void, tired expression, was a bad and worsening man—who hated and was hated by another soul on the other side of my psyche and that mirror. He wore the same face, but died broke, victimized, lonely, and confused quite some time ago. And the longer I showered thereafter, the more it sank in that neither of them would wash off.
Hips aching like a winner, I hugged my pillow in defeat. I drifted drearily in the way I often did—with fantasies I feared, and fears of fantasies that came to pass. I reflected on the heart I stirred, and how it failed to stir mine. That was the second conquest of the evening. Aside from the “around the world in 80 ways” package I presently rested from, there had also been south-of heaven CPR from the Goth Slut, who never offered her name. Maybe I had a bad case of post-religious congestion, but I was beginning to notice subtle ironies about both my consorts: I never knew the Goth-Gal’s name, but she exclaimed mine at least twice. Girl #2 swore to me that I had fulfilled one or two long-standing fantasies of hers—yet I couldn’t remember her face well enough to fantasize about her in return. I did remember the face of my dear unrequited, crimson-crowned Ice-Queen, though. I drifted to her succulent succubus image.
Perhaps due to the sexually prolific nature of the day, my dreams focused on one sexy scenario, and never wandered. It was lucid, no less. I was reliving an affair I had with a crimson-crowned acquaintance back home. It was as vivid as the first time. Most dreams of this nature found me waking shortly before climax; this dream saw me climax—with a lucid shiver, to boot—and had me resting beside her in the afterglow. As I caressed the pale undressed, all that came to mind was “This is wrong…”
The dream-lover I consorted with was a friend. Making her a lover in reality had complicated her life; and making her my lover in dreams only complicated mine. Even some of the best things in life are best left unremembered. And as I thought about all of this, something heavy and choking dragged me down with more than memories.
The nature of lucid dreaming involved knowing it was all a dream, and knowing which things were not of the dream. The sound of an alarm could come from any object in the dream, but you would know that it was really an alarm clock, and could even follow it to wakefulness. The cold settling air like quicksand, combined with an odd whir and hum—these things became the alarm. All things that were but were not froze, like a crashing computer screen. I felt paralyzed as well, and struggled against it as I woke.
(What the hell is happening to me?!)
I continued to wrestle against all that which bound me for long minutes after I returned to the room around me, and life’s little proofs that I no longer slept. The sounds were more pronounced now, describable as only a vacuum—devoid of any life or breath, but overflowing with many Nothings very conscious, and aware. They howled their rasping war cries, and I resolved within my being to free away from every being without. I relaxed, focused, and broke.
(What the hell is going on?!)
Their chatter died with their hold upon me. I sat up to catch a few short breaths, and then felt pulled toward my pillow—not for want of slumber, but forced captivity. Never touched, I was violated on a level of spirit and principle, by spirit and principality, and something never far…but not quite within. I was being held again, and this time unable to break. Then, as I searched my empty heart for prayers, I was released as easily as I was taken. This was a message. It was one that said, “You’re free when We allow you to be; you may break away when it pleases Us to leave.”
(Lucid dream? Hallucination? Flashback? Or something more...)
I fought the war against sleep. It was 3am now, and brave new forms of celebration awaited those who watched and earnestly sought. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go out again, at this point. I felt like I had more than accomplished what I could for the evening. Just then, I heard knocking, then a clumsy fumbling of keys and twist of the knob. Jesse and Carl had returned. They were fuming—positively strung out and freaked. Rick was missing. I was being recruited to locate him. “Alright,” I said, pulling myself together, “there's no rest for the wicked. And my dreams are even more exhausting.”
TO BE CONTINUED...
THE GODLESS AND THE GLAZED
Avoid traveling during bat season...
Episode VI: the godless and the glazed. TO BE CONTINUED...)+(
(If you have no fucking clue what's going on here, go down about 6 posts...and then get out of my sight. Don't you have a job or something that you're supposed to be doing?)
When the Strange Hour of the Lord passed over, it was like Dali as Death Angel, killing the second cousin of any confused Egyptian who failed to spread the Cottage Cheese of Covenant upon his closet door. And when salvation came by the last mad Holy Man leaving, I drifted off as well. I had a game plan to flesh out, and a soul to shop around. Both were pitifully small, but fitfully determined. And I refused to be conquered by drunken men.
I had imagined being able to cruise about town, not walk from pub to pub. I wanted to see the stoic graveyards. I wanted to drive past Garden District estates. The New Orleans Museum of Arts still ran their Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou exhibit. And one couldn’t forget the various weird churches, temples and occult bookshops this city overran with. I even recalled something called the “Zulu Pleasure Club” on one of the maps. I think they even had a parade float. And I had intentions of writing some fabulous article detailing it all. But with no means of feasible, affordable travel, it appeared I would have to settle for a one- or two-mile radius, and commit to keep some cash for cab-fair back to the motel.
I wanted to visit some deranged Catholic shrine with the Weepin’ Woman o’ Wonder, or off-beat spiritualist sect that might wax supernatural before my jaded eyes. If nothing else, the incredible archaic architecture of God’s Old Hangouts was a sight to behold. And, of course, Goth Chicks hung out in many of the vast, iron-gated cemeteries these churches possessed. But there was nothing in any of the guides I could walk to safely. Desperate, I thumbed phone books for St. Anybody-Within-a-Decent-Radius. One did leap out—on the 3000 block of Leonidas, there existed a sanctuary with a snappy name if I ever heard one: It was called St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Pretty Flower…no lie. I had to at least walk past it, to see if all the Sunday School buses were of the short variety.
When accepting directions from strangers, always emphasize whether you are traveling by foot. It is also good to verify your directions with actual locals. Whoever said the 3000 block of Leonidas was anywhere close to within walking distance, deserved to push up flowers with Theresa. This would suck. I don’t know why, with all the Real Parties surrounding me, I would want to check out a goofy-named church. It just struck me as something I needed to do. I can’t explain. But suffice to say, I might have zigged when I should have zagged.
Having wandered way too far into the French Quarter—nowhere blessedly near to blessing—I sat on a bench amidst some heavy-accented revelers, who all offered me Jim Beam and the meaning of life. And then depression pondered its predicament.
Salvation came by taxi. Salvation was having a rough night, apparently. The lonely Creole cabbie pulled up to us, and asked if any might be too juice-happy to drive. One of my bench-brethren turned to me, and said “God sends quail! He sends quail to all who ask in the Wilderness!” I replied, “Enjoy them when they get here. I’m taking the cab home now.”
“Where to?” said the driver. Slouching back in the backseat, I shook my head in frustration. I forgot what street the motel was on. I only knew that it was the 23rd infernal pit in the lowest, cheapest rung of Hell. I sighed, “I don’t know. I’m sorry. I don’t suppose you could take me to St. Louis?”
“Why would you want to go to a God-forsaken place like that?”
“I guess because it’s home,” I replied.
He gave me a very puzzled look. He stepped on the gas, and drove intently. I had long ago ceased caring where we went, and didn’t ask. Short minutes later, he stopped. “Here you go,” he said with an oddly-spooked, wide-eyed Amos & Andy look on his troubled face, “Don’t worry about the fare. Just watch out, man.”
I stepped out, a bit puzzled myself…until I saw the ominous sign of the place he left me. It read “St. Louis Cemetery 1.” “Well God,” I thought silently, “nice quail…but I think they’re all dead.”
This was no mere graveyard. This was a grand city of the deceased—tombs without end, like wombs giving the life that ended here. This place was more awesome and alive than the city in which I lived. Compositions of decomposition—corps of corpses—were spaced out in decrepit grandeur. The walls, known as “wall ovens,” were stacked high with the ancient low-rent denizens, doomed to provide shelter than rest within it. Flooding in the 1700’s had caused the locals and the wealthy to bury their well-moneyed and time-honored dead six feet up, rather than under. Monuments were monoliths, and great gothic altars to behold. I wandered endlessly, lost and not caring. This place was a vast vacuum of death, but I felt like I could live there. This place was allegedly unsafe, but I felt more comfortable there than anywhere else.
Then I heard something shuffle behind me.
I turned… Standing before me, unwashed and unpleasant, was a surly fellow whose every inch caused flesh to crawl like what likely crawled in his clothing. His stare was empty, but his hands were clearly not, suspiciously hidden in his ratty overcoat. He grunted with a grin, “Got a dollar?”
“I doubt it,” I replied, “it’s been a rough day.”
“It could get rougher,” snarled the bum.
“I fail to see how. I’m broke, dude.”
He looked very cross, and moved toward me, “Here…Let me help you look...”
I stepped backed with slow momentum. He picked up pace, and soon a chase ensued. He lumbered unflinchingly like a slasher-film stalker. I had a bad knee and a bad day to contend with. I had stayed (relatively) sober, but my coordination wasn’t what it had been earlier. The twists and turns, and upraised tombs, served as a cumbersome obstacle course for which I had not been prepared. My antagonist, however, seemed to know this place quite well. The suspense ended abruptly…I smacked head-on in to a tombstone.
I turned, finding my pursuer oddly backing away. He mumbled curses to himself, and said, “I don’t need none of that!” He abandoned me intact, but bewildered. I looked around at what was both my unlikely savior and stumbling block.
This was what I had been looking for since I crossed the maggot-bait-gate to begin. Resembling more of a dilapidated prehistoric outhouse than the eternal resting-place of a great and terrible supernatural ruler, this was the fear-instilling fountainhead of folk-magick hoodoo and Voodoo Priestesses. This was the mighty tomb of New Orleans’ legendary Queen of Voodoo, Marie Laveau. Bayou Vodou practitioners have elevated her to Loa, or spirit/goddess status since the 1800’s. Her daughter’s home was now a quaint occult emporium for the frugal, discerning magus.
I suddenly saw two very strong reasons why my superstitious oppressor left in haste. Firstly, there was the appearance of her grave and its reputation. The gravesite, as I implied, was nothing special on an aesthetic level. It hardly seemed worthy of its famous resident. But it held a heavy, captivating power that made it impressive, nonetheless. Scribbled across it on all sides are crudely scraped red x’s, each in triplicate. Nowadays this would imply some sort of post-mortem sex-show. But to those who believe, drawing three x’s on the tomb with one of the nearby bricks was a way of asking the Queen for favors. You then tapped your foot three times, closed your eyes, and offered Queen Marie your request. Many believed this wholeheartedly. But then, that was what it was really all about.
Also adorning her stone shelter was a variety of offerings: impressionable, impassioned visitors and devotees had left mounds of candles, coins, necklaces, more candles, flowers and flowered crosses, mojos, dolls, and I even saw a distressing, well-taped shoebox with dark wet areas. Best of all, though, was a white, oblong box of donuts laid right along all the more standard sacraments. A box of donuts?!
The second departure-motivating reason that came to me was the fact that—in my hurried shuffle—I was foot-deep in Marie’s long-johns. The smell of newly desecrated sacrificial glaze rose to meet the smell of my mounting fear. This was ridiculous. But it was also sacrilege, I supposed.
I lifted my offending foot, and stepped to the side of the tomb. I grabbed a red, crumbled brick fragment and scrawled three tiny x’s. I mumbled some awkward apology as I rested my head against the tomb wall, kicking it thrice gently. I wasn’t sure if I believed any of this; but I also wasn’t sure that I didn’t. I just wanted to go home. That was all that went through my head as I made amends for squished sacred pastry. I just wished I could be back with my friends, even if it was only for a moment. I left in a hurry. This place was dangerous…for the lonely, the living and the dead, the drunk, the deadbeat and the donut.
Briskly descending on the first tavern with a phone, I made my call, and waited for my cab. They said I would wait about an hour. This was depressing. Mark the Drunken Master had invited me to a party in Soulard. The Soulard district of St. Louis was a local hotbed of Mardi Gras activity. If I was going to barhop and drink until I couldn’t taste the food, or watch girls stripping off from a distance, and watch drunks nodding off up close, I should have arranged to do this where those drunks were at least my friends.
PROPHET AND LOSS
I think you all know where we're headed...EPISODE V: Prophet and Loss(If you've no fucking clue what's going on, go down about five posts, and also, on me.)
I had rejoined my comrades just long enough to show off a cute girl I met, and to become annoyed. This occurred twice, and with different cute girls. On the second occasion, I really only bumped into them by accident. We were soon all stumbling down the sweaty, pregnant streets of Bourbon, when we caught verbal hazing from three different street preachers—only one of which was drunk. With an overwhelming whiskey voice and overbearing nature, one grand and Godly mammoth “Ex-Con & Prisoner of Jesus Christ” seemed a bit mad in the membranes. He cried and laughed in arbitrary spurts. He promised a sun blackened to pitch and a moon to rise in menstrual red, pretty much any ol’ day now. Were he a slightly smaller Prisoner of Christ, I might have inquired about tickets, or how this whole “crimson moon” thing would affect Earth’s cheese supply. But, given the formerly incarcerated Prophet’s fluctuating glares of lust for God and lust for God-only-knows, I resolved not to chance becoming his Bride of Christ, or extending any invitations to his Second Coming. TO BE CONTINUED...)+(
While that more insane of the evangelistic trinity towered over some other band of squirming heathens and lapsed Catholics, we were left sermonless for all of three minutes until the second of the Godly gaggle cornered me with gasping sour breaths, as he was the aforementioned drunkard. He smelled more like wine than cheap hooch. Such a sauced and jolly Jesuit was he—not mean at all. He had a depraved sort of glow to him, like he had been huffing his Bible Highlighter pens since God turned on the lights this morning. He kept getting in my way, though. He danced a weird little jig along that busy St. Ann walkway, and sang off-key and in-faces. It was the same slurred line over and over again, happily gasping to all, with an eerie, overwrought senile glee: “Hell from beneath is moved for thee, to meet thee at thy coming!” That was his song, joyfully, mercilessly flung with his alcoholic spittle at every wincing bystander who passed.
The third, more cryptic of the Bourbon Street Revival Team kept away from face-to-face confrontations and instead, like the disturbed inmates so increasingly common to the Cloth these days, had his own unsettling way of getting under our skin, and on our nerves. This one liked to write holy little notes, and pass them to you with a mugging bug-eyed frightened scowl. I liked to scowl, too. He passed me three notes over two hours, often following us briefly into pubs and such. I scowled right back. The psychotic scrawling on his mini love-letters were short, but to the point. Today, my messages consisted of “Jesus Want You Back,” “Return to Calvary,” and the more unsettling “I Still Live Within You.” I wrote back to him, just to be nice. I passed him similarly scrawled messages that read, “The Blonde At The Second Table Likes You,” “Today Is The Day Of Salisbury Steaks,” and a third he refused to accept that read, “And Jesus Said, “Yeah I Say Unto Thee, ‘Take Your Medication, Man’.”
We never managed to shake our Dead Sea Post-It writer until I’d already given the Little Creepy Bastard of Heaven a name. He wouldn’t tell us his real name—every time I asked, he fidgeted, and said, “I’m cold!” before shuffling off. So I started calling him Philemon, after one of the shortest epistles in the Bible. Carl, who remained inconceivably ignorant about the whole ordeal, knew only to shout when we did. He also didn’t get the name, so after we taunted the Poor Holy Minion, Carl kept chiming, “Hey Philemon—Where’s Pickachu?” When all this got old to the others, Rick swore he’d beat the holy shit out of him, and that nothing could hold him back. I snickered until we left the bar. Rick soon cornered old Philemon passing post-it pearls of wisdom to smirking, celebrating sodomites around St. Ann and Burgundy—right outside Café LaFitte, no less. Passing out what were likely anti-gay Old Testament quotes outside of a major site of homosexual culture like Café Lafitte—the great Man Francisco of Bourbon’s urban queens—was suicide. Rick might have to get in line.
Demonstrating the biggest balls of any religious nut to condemn this fallen earth, Philemon passed a note to Rick—who had never received such a thing before—and swiftly ran away down Bourbon, toward the Bourbon Pub Parade. Rick, who didn’t know any Bible verses, read the note with a pained expression, uncertain of how to take Philemon’s longer-than-usual exhortation. It read, “Call On Me And I Will Come Into You. I Love You As No Other—Open Your Heart, And Invite Me Inside Of You Tonight.” Perhaps the puzzled twisting of Rick’s face was what The Pain of Salvation was all about. He shrugged, and pitched the note. I retrieved it as his tensed back turned, flexing and shuffling away from the crowds, perhaps to hide from all who swore, that night, to love him…deep inside, in Heaven’s special way.
I passed the note to Carl, who—as I mentioned—was oblivious to it all. Oddly enough, not only did Philemon vanish from sight shortly thereafter, but then Carl disappeared also—gone without a trace until the last minutes before departure Sunday Afternoon, when he reappeared without offering a single explanation. Maybe he went to church—the Lord certainly seemed to move in mysterious ways lately.
THE BIG SLEAZY
Oh won't you please take me home... EPISODE IV: The Big Sleazy (If you have no fucking clue what's going on, go down about four posts... and also, blow me).
Jesse had picked up an event guide that oozed potential from every page: everything from exotic eateries and jiggling gals in pasties, to fire-eating showmen and shrines with crying virgins. Parades were audible from that very Motel Hell. Rick offered the first suggestion. “Let’s go get a beer!”
The beer-getting carried over for two pubs. I went for any blackened sludge that I couldn’t find in Missouri. After two pleasant surprises, I was foiled by the third brew recommended by the barkeep, another “dark, heavy and filling” lager that failed to resemble even moisture. I had paid five irretrievable dollars for what appeared to be poorly-camouflaged hemlock. Confused as to why the barkeep had chosen to smite me, I asked what that vile excretion was called. His accent was too heavy, and the bar too loud for me to discern the name he muttered, but it sounded dangerously close to “Colostomy Bag Lite.”
Carl suggested we go for food, to unanimous approval. After nearly a decade away, I longed to once more measure the goodness of God by the flesh of His numerous tasty creations. Flipping through a restaurant guide I picked up from a woman who was naked beneath hundreds of cleverly-layered beads, Rick relieved me of the choice by pointing where the others would follow…to another bar across the street. This was getting old, but the decent food worked with the alcohol in helping me forget.
This was the first bar in which I remembered Jesse advising Rick on the virtues of various hard liquors—that some were “wise,” or “spiritual,” or a “worker of love.” Rick went for the Bottle o’ Love. He then elaborated his romantic intentions to “cream some girl’s face” or “ice her donuts” because “they do that shit down here.” He repeated this a grand total of seven times over the remainder of the evening. It made me slightly ill, but I couldn’t place why—my dreams were no less sweet or sleazy.
Wandering dangerously closer to the heaving, collective unconscious unconscienced masses—close and dangerously heaved collectives, conscious only of wandering—we sought beads and boobies, pale shelter and loose halters, and any skirted or de-skirted thing that would oblige to flash, accept our cash, and speak with any form of twang.
New Orleans was, as likewise Baton Rouge seemed to have been, exceptionally quasi-ethnic. There were races, creeds, dialects, and drugs of choice for every color of that great land’s rainbows, bayous, or ghettos. It was interesting to see taxicabs in perfectly average neighborhoods garnishing windshields riddled with bulletholes and bottle-scrapes. It was also a point of interest that the police did precious little, aside from pulling over speeders, parking in dark alleys for long stretches, and breaking up bloody street brawls when they got a bit too obvious. And therein was the key to this city as I came to see it: Everything existed; nothing was forbidden…and little was against the law, unless you were caught.
Over the restless course of seven faceless bars and crab shacks hopped in rapid succession, we hopped four faceless others, like ravaging hordes of nervous, hypertrophied bunnies, our rabid furry noses twitching from black market Viagra. This was to say, honestly, that some of us were stoned, and others were simply bored. And something in this town smelled funny after a while. They never mentioned that.
Acme Oyster Bar was excellent. Michaul’s On St. Charles was nice. We failed to make it into the famed Bourbon Vieux Room. Of course, every Skanky Corner Pub and Sidewalk Table of Random Crustaceans just fucking teemed with charming local color. It was not until we covered, perhaps, our 11th block of charming local color, that it dawned upon the few sober among us: The color of this, and every other town—charming, local, or otherwise—would, after endless static hours, reveal itself to the initiated as the Same Old Gray you left behind. Well…okay…maybe it only dawned on me, but everyone was getting rather burnt-out, in particular with one another. It appeared that all four bitching and itching, sneezing and whining members of our loving, adventurous brotherhood privately conspired either to quietly free away from the group, free the group from Rick, or free Carl from his money. I made the decision to run.
I would be on foot. Having encircled the same Celebration-puking party blocks over and over, so often as to actually be catching beads from the same floats repeatedly, I gathered my general position fairly well—wherever I went, I was fucked. Did I mention the odd smell of this town, yet?
But I had a key, a defiant will, a surging libido, as well as beer and stripper money obtained from a stoned, winking Carl—smiling as one who recklessly dreamt those dreams they still hanged men for in the Bayou. I owed Carl nothing in return but formal, sportsman-like gratitude, courteous directions home, and first crack at scoring that weird, wrapped-up spongy thing back in the van. Attempts at procuring any other level of involvement and/or invasion of my personal space would result in gratitude extended only in the form of a handmade weapon, and a nice, running start. Switch-hitting gimps with flimsy limbs would fall briskly in this land of dog-sized swamp rats, coiling, poison serpents, deadly gators, and—that fiercest of any—the wiley, native Cajun who hunts and kills all three, then cooks them in Wild Turkey after church. And Carl would do well not to rely upon Rick always being there to be held back for him.
So off I went…far away, that I might get away…far off, that I might get off. If nothing else, I could shamelessly womanize freely without my leering Pabst-pals...
The most shy, innocent Southern Belle could make the most aggressive Midwestern female seem uptight. This was a town even my rotten fortune could fail to see laid proper. Every offbeat feature of this fallen creature, that repelled local gals, only seemed to light the gulf coast gals aflame. Young, religious Cajun Babes longed to have their Bible Belts unbuckled. Goth Gals mourned the streets in their sexy sadness and gathered in depressed, decadent droves anywhere Anne Rice was said to tinkle. Domestic Midwest bat-bush babes were rarely seen or eighteen. But here, there dwelt vast bat-caves and black-velvet waves of an Ocean Vampirella.
One Nympho of Eternal Night fancied me upon sleazy sight: She was a Banshee devotee, her geometric hair like Siouxsie Sioux; I was the wild-eyed wolverine, a furry mammal prone to eat some things it wasn’t meant to. Plucking buttons off my shirt, her long black talons roamed seductively in a coroner’s Y-cut. In a Baskin Robbins bathroom, as pale breasts lost their bodice, tongues found a 32nd flavor. In the glut of a gluttonous sultry strut—our unwrapping linens, our wrapping loins, but…the witch had sworn off riding brooms. She offered mere tastes of the abyss… seeking to return the favor. Though denied the Wham-Bam-Thank-You-Ma’am of the Damned, my cursed thirst left her bitten thighs, and smitten eyes… Nibbling like flickers of Hell, the Hellbound southern belle lent her south-of-Heaven vamp-clamp… By pierced tongue and piercing eyes, she left all clothing stained and creased and eyes rolled like the deceased. Alone…nothing spilled, though vast seas parted…relieved…my will conceived and filled—to be drained and killed by the cold hearted, the Devil’s deceived, and the black-lipsticked head of the dead.
Oddly satisfied and let down all at once, I found myself at odds with what I let be satisfied, and down. My amoral fever-pitch had reached the ninth inning, and seen far too many an outing in these post-religious eyes. My cross-bearing resume hid quite poorly an unfathomable Biblical narrative of former service to services formerly held in the Name of Christ. It all seemed so distant now, like it never really happened, or happened to some distant relative I never met. My views changed as my position and relation to the Object in Question did, and as my Quest for Objection gained positive, relative momentum to view my change—I longed to hold in question every answer I held too long. I really needed to get laid, also.
But tonight, I would have fun, just to spite every inhibition, confused conscience, slurring yuppie, and creepy leering gimp. For I would have more fun by sheer default, than with the Dream Team, with whom it was just one slosh of over-priced booze after another…one more drunken conversation that failed to stimulate me; one more blurred and staggering sidewalk procession; one more failure to appear to our opposing gender—even the buzzed and careless ones—as anything other than Frat Boys in semi-retirement.
The latter of those entrapments was, by far, the most unforgivable. This was my time to howl, to revel in unattached romance, in companies of infrequently clad Goth Chicks and Cajun Babes, passions not always obtainable in familiar company; or to find even shallow, hourly forms of unobtainable passions—in total, anything not involving a single woman I knew, north of the Mason-Dixon line. And I would be damned to Hell’s Special Ed. Class—between the demonic, giggling mongoloids of Death and Hades and that lisping kid in the fishy-smelling army jacket—for all eternity, if two sauced yuppies and an elastic bisexual gimp are going to ruin anything that I haven’t ruined on my own. And how dare they revel with such weak, piss-water beer. No man with so much as a tumor for a testicle welcomes fruit into his beer.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Radio as my witness, it was inevitable...
Episode III: motel 6-legged.
(If you don't know what's going on...go about three posts down...and also, lick me).
By some undeserved miracle of a clearly unimpressed God, we arrived in New Orleans shortly before sunrise. Rick had arranged for a motel, which, he gloated, was “unbelievably affordable and convenient.” I was simply shocked that we made it this far, more so that it was done without a live studio audience. But to find lodging—less than a week from Mardi Gras?
Cramped and edgy from too many miles of bleak Mississippi non-civilizations, we stumbled out, haggard and jelly-jointed, into the refreshingly humid, pollen-laden, sinus-buggering Louisiana swelter like herniated clowns dismounting greased-up stilts and unicycles. As I reflected upon the world around me—and memories it resurrected, my gaze returned, far less enthusiastically, to the world which was actually before me. For this appeared to be something altogether different, though no less ironic. Bringing to mind slightly altered reflections of southern life, the smell of unlearned men cooking unnatural delicacies, and surely the beating, buzzing black wings all around, rediscovered my senses after nearly ten long years.
Though the Louisiana state bird has long been the Pelican, I believe it would serve the state far more honestly were they to finally break down and, rather than paint over things, recognize the more predominant winged wonders of the land—those tremendous fucking cockroaches—as the Official Fowl. Of course, we don’t actually call them cockroaches down south, just like we don’t call crawdads “mud bugs” or “river crickets.” Sure—it’s an accurate portrait, but it’s just not polite. Crawdads are “Crawfish.” This helps take the crustacean consumer’s mind off the fact that he is eating the bait and not the catch. Likewise, the buzzing, aggressive, flying four-inch Southern Cockroach is called a “Palmetto Bug.” And if they had just a bit more meat on them, they would be “Palmetto Fish.”
As we pulled into the poorly-lit lot of our motel—the only poorly-lit place in New Orleans, I will add—I felt a wind of premonition venturing forth that I was about to become quite intimate with that Other State Bird. Yes, the rusted blinking sign that proclaimed “hourly rates,” the room numbers that were but mere outlines in the peeling weathered paint, the smell of old catfish in the office, and its piss-burnt sofas, all combined with the absence of one damned palm tree that wasn’t riddled with crude carvings and cigarette burns…all of these things prophesied three days of sub-Cajun slum wherein the bug, the fish, the bird that was la cucaracha would be my host, my roommate, and above all…the very least of my worries.
Some swarthy Creole, bearing more than one piece of jewelry that involved animal skeletons, gave dear, awed Jesse two sets of worn copper room keys, and bad dreams later. Proudly flaunting my own carcass-based jewelry, I reminded the white, cocky, non-southern clerk that there were, in fact, four of us...not two. Sure, I could dream. Still, two keys would not do.
Rick, being the deep well of tact that he was, threatened to pound him. Carl and Jesse, as if on cue, melodramatically labored to hold the tensing, flexing, Rick back from the clerk. Absconding with one of the sacred keys, I roamed the unswept lobby for a phone book. Stereotypes fought, and swore, and made bad will…Crafty Bastards found key-making locksmiths in the yellowpages. Sadly, no matter how much of Carl’s money I offered in bribe, no good honest locksmith or hardware clerk would copy the jagged copper scrap. Having had more than enough of good, honest folk, I found myself longing for the corruptible old misers back home. Where are good, reliable bastards when you need them? “Well,” I sighed within, as Rick continued to be held back for however-long-it-was, “this key says ‘23’.” As for this Reliable Bastard, I walked on—key in hand. And then I called dibs on cable.
Following behind, Jesse and Carl gently inched diligent, futile Rick back in babysteps toward our room—considerate enough not to make him break eye contact with the massively unimpressed clerk. I hoped that little turd had learned his lesson—I would have hated to see Rick have to march over there and be held back some more. But a man’s got to do what a man must passively be restrained from doing…or something like that. Rick and Carl haggled for the other key, as I unlocked the 23rd mass of shredded paint fibers that appeared to have a doorknob. Jesse took assertive measures for the first and sole time all weekend, and snatched key #2 from the fidgety, meat-fingered exchange of Carl and Rick…which then continued over a key that neither still held, nor missed, for one brief but truly priceless moment.
Our room adorned by gristled shag carpet in lovely shades of creamed algae, drapes that no longer did, and a toiletries shelf lovingly papered with pages torn from an awesomely mangled Gideon Bible, I felt like checking the underneath of the motel for wheels and a hitch. Our “cable package” consisted of channels 2, 4, 7 (almost), 12, and scattered porn signals on 18-21. I still called dibs. You could almost see the fluorescent green bush and rippling, orange hooters on 19. Fortunately, our beds were made. Unfortunately, they were only made into nests for other things.
“Ah, fuck the room,” Rick affirmatively motioned, “We won’t be sleeping anyway!” Carl followed, exclaiming multiple variables of “fuck” in the affirmative sense, with “A,” “yeah,” “baby,” and such. Jesse high-fived Rick, and forced unconvincing “fuck yeah’s” from his lips. And the sight of Peer Pressure still at work in thirty-somethings was all I myself could find to curse about; but then, I only cursed the heavens for teasing us so long with just one Flood.
We had agreed to nap a few hours before beginning our day. I had my work cut out for me, no matter how exhausted I was. But it was better this way—this prepared me for crucial personality conflicts that I had somehow missed during the caustic thirteen hours preceding. Case in point: No matter how little sleep-time was involved, Carl had to sleep in the buff. Humble, quiet Jesse snored like I could only dream of—and I had a reputation. I swore I could hear his windpipe chaffing with each drawn-out hacking bellow, like a wounded tracheotomy patient mimicking the cries of an imploding duck into a well-amplified kazoo. Rick impressed me by providing the easiest stereotype I was ever blessed to observe in such detail—and on the first night. What was up with the pretty blue clay mask he wore to bed? It looked as if the head of some telepathic Smurf had exploded near Rick’s face. Compulsive cuticle-trimming? Check. Body-hair sculpting? Check. And yes, he flexed for the mirror—but that came too easily. Rick was also hypoallergenic, and needed the bed by the bathroom, so that the vicious pollens of the Deep South may more conveniently disintegrate his doomed sinuses near a sink. Readjusting just a bit myself, I expected our ice bucket to be filled with every irritable and detachable membrane in Rick’s head by week’s end. Why not? The ice machine didn’t work anyway.
I awoke, presumably after about three hours, to unwelcome daylight on the side facing me, and a bare-ass Carl on the other. The blinding yellow orb mocked its captive. But none of that seemed important at the time. This was because I did not awaken due to glaring daylight. Nor had I awoke by loud snores, or even my bladder. I awoke quite plainly to the sound of large, unnatural flapping wings. They hummed and whirred from no visible location, yet implied gusts of turbulence all about their invisible movements. I felt incapable of hearing any other sound around me, apart from this unnatural grinding and canned, raspy humming. Yet I was, once again, aware of every sound and image in the place, at least all those who moved in flesh. I felt a sudden uncommon hush descend. I felt the urge to be stubborn and willful…and to be still. I felt and heard something shuffle, and for a flickering moment caught a side-eyed glimpse of my fateful guest. It was large, owl-like and appeared to hide a lantern in its mouth. It projected a sensation of presence like locusts harmonizing in songs written for their pestilent harvest conquests. I felt the chill that wasn’t, and fell paralyzed for a moment until I pushed free of it by sheer calmness of will. I remained awake, and waited for the others before I even dared to cough.
"It's the drugs," I thought, "It's giving me sleep paralysis." I was never ashamed of my intermittant patronage of the Independent Pharmaceutical Industry...but I was never truly comfortable with it, either. I hearkened back to my "Shower Incident" of weeks past, wherein my girlfriend bumped the light switch in the bathroom. For a split second, I actually assumed that I had suddenly gone blind, and began freaking out with wild abandon. It was a light switch, for Chrissakes! This was scary: for a brief moment, I actually could accept that my Olympian levels of dope intake had caused me to go blind at some random moment; the point is that it didn't surprise me. Even my post-religious drip set in: "You've been too promiscuous," it said. "See? You've gone and given yourself some weird disease--you're hallucinating because you're going mad with syphyllis!" Thanks but no thanks, Inner Voice. I think I'll handle it from here.
Amazingly, we left on time. I kept thinking back to John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies, and how eerily similar my demonic boogeyman was to his. But his proved to be some sort of benign-yet-fearsome harbinger. My spook was intrusive, and jumped at every shot, presumably, to enter. But not a soul around me had sensed a blessed thing either time I “tripped over.” Without chasing the “alternate reality” or “subjective reality” rabbits, it stood that one of two things occurred. Either I hallucinated, have since I was young, and just get better all the time—or I slept in a room filled with complete psychic and spiritual corpses. My companions were aggravating, and eccentric… But certainly, they weren’t idiots? They couldn’t be total deadbeats, right?
TO BE CONTINUED...
THE CHEAPEST WAY TO FLY
North it is, yet southward bound...EPISODE II: The Cheapest Way To Fly(If you don't know what's going on, go about two posts down...and also, bite me).
As fitful, lumpy stretch after stretch of pock-marked pavement and dirt roads in denial gave way to warped concrete zits that barely escaped the appearance of cobblestone, our Meat Wagon and sloshing bladders were rocked about, as an empty medicine cabinet shaken by some desperate asthmatic poltergeist. Funny…I didn’t remember it being like this when I was twelve. I looked out the back window sleepily, amidst a pissing contest of vile sounds…ripping snores, bland music, Jesse’s Gameboy—twirping madly like a molested and violated canary, the slosh of lukewarm soda, and soft, gooey rattles of asymmetrical shelf lumps.
This didn’t look like the highway. It didn’t look like anything.
Eerily aware of everything around me, every noise in proximity seemed unbearably loud. Among these, certain alien and unfamiliar sounds made themselves known. Some swept like the wind, yet whispered like a frail, rasped voice, or worse, several in unison. As I began to isolate it all, it became as some hush-voiced, cancer-throated choir. I heard what could have been flapping wings, or violent wind-blown garments. And still I heard everything else, every breath of my van-mates, and every crackle of static from the mediocre radio spew. Yet nothing I saw was familiar, or given to any words I knew. Something distant within urged me repeatedly to be still, lending further substance to a sudden, uncomfortable sensation suggesting I could fall out, or stranger still, through.
A rapid chill swept though me, yet it never actually felt like anything—nothing given to a name, a face, or certainly flesh. It was cold, but not in an arctic sense—like winds or water could be…or anything that could be touched. It was violent, and alive. It grappled me in some formless fashion from above and around, and snarled angrily like a teased animal. I spun around to struggle, feeling myself fight—yet nothing that I fought with…just my defiant, willful angry attitude, and a frightened strand of reason within, that recalled every pitiful child’s prayer I ever resented to speak, and in silence pulled away.
I felt smothered a bit, until I became aware of breathing again—lungs full of air, yet the sinking feeling of constriction—and of being caged, though all was as it ever was before… Nothing remained then, but the elbowed, dented shelves and sneaker-scuffed sticky floor of our slowing van, parking at a rural rest area. There were dirty Cheetohs and Funyuns encamped around me on the floor, three ruined road maps, a dripping failure of a cooler, two groggy yawning yuppies, and one rubber-limbed, wild-eyed gimp who fumbled with some magic peg and pyramid game stolen from a Stuckey’s many miles and misturns past.
The crew had chosen an alternate route while nodding off some half a state ago. Rick spoke what were likely slurs against me, but out of earshot. He looked toward me crossly, as if it were my fault for not remaining awake and in the correct dimension, so that I might continue nodding in agreement at the mind-numbingly obvious, or listen to more soul-punishing Huey Lewis and Mr. Mister tunes. He rolled his eyes, shook his head, and went to find a vending machine with Twinkies to go with his Creatine.
I remained bunched and crinkled upon the floor like an aborted Goth fetus, waiting until Jesse and Carl left for bathrooms and beef jerky. Earlier, I had spied Rick’s copies of Barely Legal—while he was all red-eyed and puffy-cheeked, digging around in his sporty, star-spangled man-purse for allergy meds. Now alone, I quickly seized the moment to score a few of the drier issues. I then traded them to a giddy, pot-bellied trucker in exchange for directions. Though shaken from my earlier, unexplained soul-scramble, I regained gladness of heart by realizing where we were now, and by watching Rick miss his porn while trying not to look like anything’s wrong—eyeing us all in suspicion, yet too embarrassed to question a soul.
Almost an afterthought, I headed for the bathroom—relieved to find one filthier than my own. The graffiti in the stall was quaint, and very “rural,” if you know what I mean. I found the religious graffiti even more amusing. I finished some of the statements. In big blue marker was scrawled, “JESUS WEPT.” I wrote beneath it, “Vandalism makes Him cry.” In either crayon or thick, dried snot were the words “Jesus Is Coming.” To this I added the standard reply: “Everyone look busy!” Above the seat behind me was a pen and ink rendering of “Jesus Saves.” I mulled endlessly over whether to pencil in “Satan recycles,” or “But did His children invest?”
Just then, I heard someone walk in, press the soap button several times, and perch in the stall next to mine. Suddenly, I got a nasty gut feeling—like horny, microscopic New Guinea cannibals were licking my intestines. It doesn’t happen often, but you know when it does. Trapped in mid-purge—unable to escape the twisted fate less than a flimsy hinged wall away—the happy flaps and squishes of the deep-breathing self-love devotee beside me slowly began to register. Rushing my processes like I was sandpapering a homemade shelf, I fled as the jerking jerk next door began to gasp and grasp for names and tissues. Never so relieved to be back at the van, I was told we had to wait for Carl. He was still in the bathroom.
TO BE CONTINUED...