the Union Forever
Christ. How old is this guy? Middle of the night, bars closed, Collision's invited a lady back to his place to listen to records. Shockingly, she has said yes. In a so sadly fucked development, Collision was actually treating this like an opportunity to play and listen to music.
He was perched on a 2-high stack of of milk crates, playing guitar and singing. A shock, his singing voice turned out to be pretty good--throaty shouts bounced off the stupid concrete walls while pudgy fingers moved competently along steel strings. He'd been obsessed with the White Stripes the last couple months, and his song is a (slightly dumbed down) rewrite of their version of Death Letter.
Neither a powerhouse singer nor a particularly gifted soloist, this song isn't a terrific fit for his skills, but he's working himself up to a full-on roar, while the riff spills around the floorboards, slick as soap. Scandalously, the woman's eyes aren't rolling or glazed over, and if Collision (a) puts down the (fucking) guitar (and very soon, at that) (b) fixes the nice lady a drink (c) asks her a question/listens to the answer/asks a reasonable second question, he might still
For the moment, and to heighten the suspense, let's listen in on the song, however.
Blues for Annie
well I only been in love
3 times on this earth
'n' that's hardly been enough time
t' d'termine the worth of my birth
yeah I only been in love 3 times
in all my nights on th' earth
I know a lot about death
don't know nothin' 'bout taxes
an' all I know about love is
I ain't supposed to play with matches
yes I burned down the place I lived
just trying to heat that mattress
yes I burned up all my love
cuz I couldn't heat that mattress
I don't like to shoot no pool
but she sure makes me wanna bawl
I don't believe in heaven
but that girl she made me fall
and I don't believe in begging
but that girl sure made me crawl
if I was heading for her bedding
don't think I'd be sad at all
yes she left my heart
one broken joke
And we'll just fade out there, shall we? Without peering ahead. In the interest of discretion.
i'm finding it harder to be a gentleman
(Why are all the songs looking for a sad girl?)
Chris Collision sat at the bar, rinsed already in the early evening. His nails were already filthy. A little nervous energy left, he shredded his coaster, dropping bits where the judged the ashtray should have been.
Some hours into this session, it wasn't clear he knew a handjob from a hangnail, fixated on a wash of needs fanned out like a half-shuffled deck. A plane ticket, maybe, or a shallow grave, a hug, the death of hope, solace, passion, a companionable ear, a mouth around his meat, clean socks and a new notebook, a month to ride the rails with a job at the end, better gin, a ringing phone and being left alone, a wife you don't have to live with and a life you can, a woman, another drink, a woman a woman a woman.
Head-flick flagged the barman, "What're you looking for?"
A tiny woman walked by, hips oddly wide on a sticky frame barely five feet high, stiff gait in cowboy boots under child's jeans. "Somethin' that hurts a lot less than this," Collision muttered, head turned mostly to check the ass.
"What you say, partner?"
"Gin and tonic. Splash of bitters."
"Sure. 'Nother Bud?"
It only really went bad when he reached for his wallet and winced. Peril of placing keepsakes near your holdings' that the simplest commercial transactions can morph instantly into real fucking bummers cuz you just want to buy a goddamned round for yourself and you stagger onto a little chunk of metal she gave you you didn't remember was still in there, tucked behind yr ID. Black hole for emotions, there, pulling all intention and heart on into it and seriously just wrecking the remainder of the evening. Load of bullshit there.
the Same Boy You've Always Known
Collision had gotten himself a job. It wasn't a good job, but it was a job. He got off in the afternoon, tired in the brain and body but his heart racing and ready for...something. His lizard-brain and spine firing irregular and wild, every nerve and thew thrilling and desperate for company. And still he was new in town, another typical lonely man in a lonely city, so the company was the company of strangers, the sharing little more than proximity.
So the post-work was a slow comedown, a couple of hours of relaxing amidst and into the partial satisfaction(s) from copping a buzz alone in public, studying faces like the background music and just floating, semi-permeable, body and else separated and simultaneously more one than normal*, eventually able just to be without the tensions and rage of normal life.
*Vinegar and oil not yet well blended.
Little Room b/w Offend in Every Way
Chris Collision didn't actually hate himself. Of an early afternoon, he'd recamp to his rented room, his bed a loft like barracks. Grunt a somewhat amiable grunt to any roommate, spend most of his time in the kitchen.
Specifically, one time:
Chris Collision strode through his apartment, breaking no rhythm with nods to present housemates nor guests, a frown for piss darker and more pungent than he'd expected from a shift spent, in the main, hydrating.
One egg fried hard and cut to strips, a quarter of an onion cooked low, four corn tortillas and if it's a good week, maybe half a Roma tomato, some avocado. Once even some cilantro.
The whole thing: two cast iron pans, one cleaver. His entire kitchen fleet culinary arsenal squadron.
An hour or so under the homemade loft, leaning back in his metal folding chair; one foot propped high, the clipboard on his knee and scribble his big noir tone poems, love songs to the books that showed him a world behind the world, where lonely men have heroism, stubborn men are rewarded and angry men find reasonable targets.
The bartender, a vast man and placid in his bowling shirt, took geologic time picking his songs. Collision, possessed of no particular sense of humor when waiting on a drink nor propriety at any time, quipped "I like your tent," when the guy got back around behind the bar.
His annoying husky growl actually carried audibly, this time, but at least he didn't whine upon the "the' fuck out, Jack" edict.
i can learn
Brofather Flynn 'Potatoes' O-Brien is elderly, attenuated, superannuated, at this point. Half a geist, shuffling around his Santa Destroy cottage (reduced by time and malevolent entropy to a trailer) in a peignoir, vermillion paste caked on thin lips and sunken cheeks, hiking up his thighhighs, he hasn't got long left. He hasn't had long left for a long time now.
He knows about Collision--he knows all fucking about Chris Collision, you c'n believe that, ace chief--those scant miles to the northwest, but they haven't met. O-Brien hasn't worked with anybody in/for years, when the ragged remnants of the Enthusiasts of the Inscrutable purged even such fringey-religious types as as the venerable Brofather his own self. (This decision O-Brien never tires of calling "a clerical error".) Plus, Collision isn't really O-Brien's style, grading out pretty piss-poorly on verve, panache, and grit, though scoring pretty well on vim and zest. Dash and flair still count as incompletes.
Here is something the aging, doddered (doggering, aged? adding? added? doggerel?) wizard knows: his potency derives from his abandonment of his immediate family (cf apostasy, abdication). His absence has facilitated misfortune, and that precise quantity of energy has been his to wield and direct. That family is all gone now, of course, so that well is dry and O-Brien has become feeble.
Here is something the aged wizard does not know: there is one relative left. He is ignorant of this relative, of her existence and her proximity; he is ignorant of her impending fate and the rushgush of energy her tragedy will unleash thru him one last time. He doesn't know his daughter's going to die.
He doesn't know he's going to die.
(Seriously: magic fucks you up that much; he can genuinely conceive what no rational mind could, that his essence might continue unabated eternal.)
Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
Ross was on her fifth cigarette of the afternoon, and it was 1.30. She'd been awake since 9, up since 11, propped artfully in her window, smoking. Thinking and smoking. Early, her fingers yellow.
Sun flooded the room, limning each mote of dust and flake of ash, the sleeping bag on the bare mattress, the thick rubber-banded sheaf awaiting attention. Ross was tired after another night of gusty, light-grey sleep, and was tired of these days of broken things and nothing to do, days spent, like this one, rerevis(it)ing her sexual CV.
She was worried about her heart, a little, because she couldn't seem to bring her self to care much--nothing for the boys who'd pledged their love (and later, exploding in apoplectic snot and tears with rage and bitterness at her betrayal, pledging their loathing enmity), nothing for the men who'd applied themselves to the study of her orgasm, nothing for the unappealing admirers who'd wretchedly given, nothing for the husbands those whole-lifed attempts to a life, nothing for the wives abandoned, at least for a time, in her inconstant wake, nothing for the young women seduced out of the coffee shops, or the young men fucked for their roofed beds out of the bars, nothing for the times her whole heart had been in someone's hands, nothing for the times she'd suddenly become bored, then wholly lost, nothing for the devoted, broken men who gave her everything but a healthy, happy partner, nothing for the time that passed and the times the two people then couldn't recognize or remember the two who had been, nothing for the happy men whose dicks always got hard, nothing for the sad men whose cocks faltered and made 'verything worse, usually irrevocably. Nothing for the men who'd strayed inexplicably, or the men she'd wandered away from unpredictable capricious as an ill-flown kite, nothing for the addicted or for the entirely disassociated. Nothing for the men who wouldn't touch her on the rag, nothing for men who relished it.
Worst was nothing for herself, the common element in her entirely unsurprising and unexceptional history. Not even her usual amiable self-loathing registered. Like looking over a stranger's checkbook, in a language she didn't read--the numbers the same, the quantities in and out, but nothing attached or attending.
She could feel--felt--some little despair at not feeling, and this way emptiness curled and recurved into frothy feeling like bubbled water ensured it was time to drink. Unbeautiful Ross unpropped herself from the window and swooped up those acoutrements necessary for leaving, left.