It occurred to him that life had been fair. That he woke each morning and there was food to eat. He had a bed and Christmas. He was loved. Loved. by too many people. By everyone he could recall that he knew. He thought of everyone; the most distant of aqauaintances. Others that had loved him in those short moments. They took in his image and his presence. He wondered if the janitor in the Chrysler building imagined him chained to a tree in the forest, shaking. Starving to death. If perhaps the thought had crossed his mind as they stood in the lobby and discussed elevator operation. If maybe while discussing wether it was possible to bypass lit floors; some child had pushed every button, while he needed to be at 23. Can you get there somehow before stopping? Can you bypass the curiosity of child? One who’s only desire is to see lights lit by his fingers? Had the operator wondered, will this curious man, driven to some terrible end, run a wild sprint into the thick and chain himself to a tree to wither and die?
Sometimes it’s good to surround yourself with people that are on their way out. It’ll help to remind you of your own mortality. For example, I’m at Family Restaurant at two thirty in the afternoon sitting alone in a booth and this place is packed with the nearly dead. The decor is wretched and stale. The walls are a pale tan accented by horrid desaturated blues and purples you’d find in a doctor’s office waiting room. Someone has been vacuuming perpetually. I imagine this is how limbo must be, or perhaps this is hell; just some doctor’s office waiting room and you’re sick as shit and cold but sweating and someone is endlessly running a vacuum. The entire staff is this terrifically ugly bunch. None of the chicks are cute and the one guy here that might be handsome turns his head and I see that he’s a burn victim. This is the end of the line for all of us. The washed up and wrung out. They keep it too hot in here. Fuck. I’m dying. Maybe I’m dead already. But I’m sweating. You’re glands don’t function when you’re gone. Someone open a damn window. I need to get out of here but I want a doggie bag. I’ve only eaten half my meal. I’m stingy. They think I’m all set. They think I want to sit here for all of eternity. Dying here alone on sticky vinyl next to the decrepit and degenerative. Shit I’m bored.
You are searching to find all the things.
And the world is odd and all that.
Usually you feel weird.
Uncomfortable in your own skin.
Too pale probably or you’ve tanned too much.
Shame on you.
How many necklaces are appropriate to wear?
One too many might set one over the edge.
Send them running or send them fleeing.
And your hair, such an importance.
Should you learn to ride a motorcycle?
Start small with a Honda?
Or sew and sew and sew the hems?
You are good at everything you try
But not exceptional; not quite good enough to impress.
You won’t be ever.
You will be impressively normal.
Significantly the same.
Immensely yourself and gargantuanly everyone else.
The best thing you can do is photograph it all.
Create digital copies.
Bury things occasionally in your backyard.
Because soon enough you’ll be dead.
And that’s the only reason we’ll all care.
We’ll care because that’s it.
Because it’s done and in short supply.
Your shit will suddenly have worth.
I’ll convince your mom to give me the Hollingsworth original.
Well, because I watched you paint it.
No, no; its no big deal, artists are always worth
So like give it a break
Until you can no longer.
And soon enough I’ll follow you there into the evening.
The foundation of every belief is a doubt.
I wake, expecting to rub the sleep from my eyes and find myself comfortably at home, lying in my own bed. But I’m nowhere near my cozy little slum property in Detroit. This is not my happy bedroom. I am not safely boxed by my walls and paintings. I remember quickly what I’ve done. What Jason and I have done. What that crazy bastard convinced me to do. It’s a tiny little cement room. A terribly sweaty little hot box of a room. I’m naked, and soaked. Both my and Jason’s frame packs are on the floor against the peeling wall, stuffed to the gills. On the bed table there’s a scatter of foreign coins, a pack of cigarettes, and passports. Getting up is difficult. Goddam. I stumble over to the narrow window and pull a blind to the side. There’s a whirlwind of movement and noise in the street. Motorcycles, stray dogs, tuk-tuks, vendors, shop owners sweeping, carts stacked impossibly high with chicken cages, prostitutes. We actually went through with it. Bangkok. We’re in fucking Bangkok.
I need to wake Jason up. This is crazy. What the hell. He’s just lying there snoring like its nothing. As if we haven’t just hopped a flight to the other side of the planet. Holy god I’ve never even been on a plane before.
He doesn’t move. He actually looks really peaceful. Quite comfortable.
“Oh my god man wake up. Dude I feel like death. What the hell man. We are seriously here.”
I shake him a little bit.
“Shh, man its fine. Bro stop. Give me a minute.”
Shit. Alright. He’s right. It’s fine. No big deal. I’m here. I’m alive. I’m not going to die or anything. Although. I could die. Lots of people die here. Every single day in fact. In this city. Its fine. I didn’t get immunizations before coming. I’ll probably get real sick. Malaria, or worse yet, Dengue fever. Break-bone fever. I’m going to die on one of those motorcycle taxis. Or we’re going to get taken by a gang while traveling by bus through the jungle. I’ll end up in jail. Locked up for the rest of my life. No one will know. I’ll disappear into Thailand’s black hole. I’ll find some village deep in it, a three day trip deep down the Mekong river. There will be dragons swimming next to the boat that far inside it. Mosquitoes that could eat a man. I’ll try and communicate with the villagers. Tell them I want to stay. Tell them America is a paradigm and it’s eating me whole. Tell them I want to be free of all that shit. That I need primal nature, thatched roofs, minimal amounts of clothing, a small strip of leather to cover my cock. Better yet, I’ll be the naked man. The naked white man of the village. I’ll run bare. Navigate the thick. Dance free and wild. I will chant. I’m quite spiritual I’ll let them know. They will feel the light that radiates from my person. They will be sensitive to my unique nature. They will feel energy dripping from my pores. We will grind medicine into pastes from tree’s roots indigenous only to the highest smoky peaks in stone pestles and apply it liberally to tan and debilitated villagers.
What the hell did I do. Goddam. I’ve had such a fear of the unknown. Such a fear of leaving the comforts of the life I know. The life I’ve known has always scared me. I’ve wanted to run from what I knew since I could recall having real thought. Seeing my Dad go to work and my Mom clean the house. I knew that this was childhood. I knew it was important to enjoy it. To live the shit out of every single dripping moment. Because one day I would go to work and come home and argue. Pay pills and drive a car. I wouldn’t be running through the woods spilling out my imagination and swimming through my curious.
Jason begins to writhe around a bit and groan on the top bunk. In that moment I think of him as my brother. My older brother Chris and the bunks we once had. Chris always took the top. Sometimes Dad would come home from work with his belt already off. Folding it in half as he ripped through the front door. His frightening method. He would snap the belt together over and over. It was a horrible piercing noise. The sound of his furious belt echoing down the hall. Me, sitting on the mattress with my hands beneath my ass. Chris, standing in front of me waiting. Guarding. Jason reminds me of my brother. I think I can feel safe here with him on the other side of the earth. He is confident and strong. I am small and kind.
I remember a day. I remember acknowledging the consequences to my actions. I’m bent over with my torn shorts around my ankles. There is sweat squeezing between my toes and the hardwood floor of the bedroom my brother and I share. Between my legs I see Chris clinging to my father’s back, punching the back of Dad’s head, screaming in his ear, trying to stop him. I never fight back. I always take it scared but still, and thinking. Dad throws Chris into the bunk and he hits his head hard on the lacquered wood and falls to the floor. I remain still. Dad rips his arm back behind his head, his arms covered in deep and beautifully black navy tattoos. His furious fist gripping his only leather belt. His best belt. His terrible upside-down red horrible wet angry face. The leather tears into my bear ass again and again. I remember feeling the pain. I recall acknowledging the sting and the rhythm of his strikes. There is a moment then when it happens, when you compartmentalize pain. I realized it as a sensation, as a signal received by my own mind. The mind that was mine, not his. It was a slice of warm hard feeling. A temporary fleeting event.
For the first time everything was only a thought. A beautiful silent tree, or a bird chirping that you can’t quite see. And in that clarity pain drifted away into a warm quiet buzzing. For a moment the world became mine. All of existence fell into my hot sweating palms. The room and my screaming brother, the shelves in the closet stacked with board games, the boxes of broken action figures, it all fell away into a drawer in my mind. A locked box, far away and forgotten.
“Oh man. Geeze. Hey buddy. You alright?”
“Yeah, just thinking a bit. We’re in Bangkok man. Fuck.”
It’s possible that I don’t know who I am for the first time I think maybe. It’s possible perhaps that I might have lost pieces of my identity. May have forgotten the core parts of myself. The things I was going to hold onto forever. The beliefs ideas feelings memories goals relationships joys tastes; they might’ve shifted and been forgotten. Frequently I feel like an empty page, I feel like a sponge. I am a filter for substance for people for images for sounds for sensations. For misery. For God’s unfathomable joy. For hard drilling love. I am in this world to feel it in a beautiful terrible horrible wonderful way. I am here to be the lonliest and most loved. I am here to receive fantastic blessings and devastating blows. We are all here.
God is the time
You were inside
The word God
I can feel it inside you today as the universe rises up to greet me.
…just opened a portal in my bedroom.