Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Gypsy

Railroad ties are not , my friend, the only ties that bind.

You could say the whole adventure began the day I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw the gypsy. That explanation might not hold up in a court of law, but as far as I was concerned it was close enough for country dancing. I had gone to bed rather late the previous evening and as I slept I was visited by a strange yet singularly vivid dream. Without going into graphic detail. let me just say I finally came across the girl in the peach covered dress, who was being held by a before unknown Norwegian tribe. By disguising myself as a middle aged orangutan, I was able to secure her release but not before they took two frisbees and used them to make her eyes big and blue.

By the time I woke up it was late morning. If I had been a banker I still had time to get to work, but if I had been a banker I wouldn't have had the time to remember my dreams. My life was moving along with all the fluid grace of a North Central Expressway in Dallas traffic jam. My romantic life had been slowed to a standstill as well.

I walked miles and miles of bathroom tiles only to stare into the silver distance of the bathroom mirror at those waving fields of emptiness that has become the country of my heart. Alas, but this morning that was not to be the case. There standing staring back at me were two beautiful blue eyes that appeared to be slightly more real and substantial than I felt at the moment.

The face I thought I recognized. The eyes seemed familiar but different. They burned with the intensity of campfire embers, remembering everything I thought I had forgotton.

Blond hair and blue eyes, to light to be a gypsy. But like a gypsy she was wearing a large earring in her left ear. The kind of earring not unlike those commomly worn by athletics, homosexuals and death bound teenagers. This gypsy had been born with the earring and it fairly gleamed with the mischief of dreams. I blinked several times, but the image in the mirror did not go away. They never really do. The mirror is the perfect place to one day see the gypsy in your soul.

"Who the hell are you?" I said in a mild state of hysteria. I figure if I can talk to myself, I can talk back to a bathroom mirror.

"I am the gypsy in your soul." she said, "and I've come to tell you a story that I'm afraid makes about as much sense as your life."

At that moment I was pretty sure she was going to be right. Still I had to preserve reality to save sanity.

"Hold on, I don't even know your name do you have a card?" Clearly in the mirror she held up the Queen of Hearts.

You need to come away. You need to travel the world, leave your village, leave your friends, leave Miss Amarillo 1969.

"How'd you know about her?"

The gypsy said nothing but her eyes sparkled like Norwegian stars. I felt many things just then, mesmerized I gazed into the mirror. Fear, curiosity, disbelief, desire, when I spoke again it was in a voice of sentiment not uncommon to someone looking into a mirror.

"It's really you who wants to travel far away." I said.

"From where?" said the gypsy.

If God had not wanted us to talk to a gypsy image I figured He would not have created bathroom mirrors. Of course then no one would have been able to see their wrinkles, nobody would be like a nerdy teenager brushing his teeth before the prom, Hitler would not have been able to see to trim his mustache, and whores with hearts of gold would not be able to touch up their makeup, and nobody'd be able to find the Prozac hidden behind the bathroom mirror that wasn't there anymore.

So it was that I let the blond haired gypsy slip away through the silver fingers of someone elses dawn and thought about what the ghost writer of this journal once told me, "If you are tired of looking at yourself in the bathroom mirror try looking at yourself in the rearview mirror."

I sat at my computer terminal drinking my first cup of coffee like a brokenhearted Romeo, who at the last minute decided to just keep on living, if you could call it that. A short time later I noticed my hands were shaking slightly. It's not every morning you carry on cocktail chatter with a youthful female gypsy in the bathroom mirror. But it wasn't the appearance of the gypsy that bothered me. It was the ability of the gypsy to see inside my soul and then relate to me what these weary worn vessels contained. Like Miss Amarillo 1969. The gypsy plucked her right out of the sadness of my eyes.

From somewhere the gypsy spoke, "she's not coming back, you know?"

"I know."

"I miss her too."

"I know."

"But I miss her in ways you will never know."

"I know."

You should probaly see a shrink, I would if I had just spent half the morning talking to a gypsy in a bathroom mirror."

"I know"
"But you won"t do that."

"No," I said.

I thought I was going through some midlife crisis, but I was beyond midlife. I didn't feel sorry for myself because I am just a creation of the guy who ghost writes this journal. I'd obviously missed my chance to be a teenage suicide. Now all that was left for me was a ragged weary and sometimes cynical world with all the ambience of a Karaoke Bar in Dallas.

Those were my thoughts as I heard a ringing in my ears. They say if you hear ringing in both ears- someone, somewhere is saying nice things about you. In this perverse world you usually have to be dead for that to happen. It took a few moments but I figued out the ringing in my ears as I answered the phone. A friend inviting me out to a karaoke bar.

I hung up the phone and returned to give the gypsy the only advice I had, after all this was supposed to be about her not me.

All aboard my fellow travelers on this Ship Of Fools. We all find love , everyone. Sometimes we lose it or let it get away. But don't fall through that timeless trapdoor waiting till your time runs out and Miss Amarillo 1969 waltzes up to you and embraces you at the end of a troubled dream. And yet for those who at one time or the other finds love and loses it, life can become frustrating. If you think it is difficult to live with yourself, just think how hard it is living with the person you have become.

It was a rather warm evening late in the month of June and as I took my daily walk I happened up on a gingerbread house under storybook stars, I thought of the gypsy....somewhere.... packing to follow her dreams. Fragile, and strong, ephemal and timeless, beautiful beyond words.

Words that help heal the hearts of other people, just may heal your own as well.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The fair

I sat at an open air facility at the Tri State Fair in Amarillo, drinking a beer. As the fairgrounds empty, I am left with after images. I remember walking along the crowded midway with Miss Amarillo 1969. The pulsating neon spokes of the giant Ferris Wheel in the nearby field seemed a world away. Childhood is close by, but you can't quite touch it.

The plinking of a piano filled my ears in a style that seems to flutter bravely like a balloon escaping to some beautiful place between a little country church and an old New Orleans whorehouse.

Walking along the back of the fairgrounds near the exit, standing with the crowd, thinking the thoughts of a lifetime.

The thoughts are ones capable of making you cry and comforting you at the same time. They do both to me.

I feel a palpable sense of history passing, ephemeral as the dopplered voices on a midway ride, and yet, I know something will stay.

I think to myself: 80% of the people here are not with their first choice.

I pull out of the parking lot. I catch the face of a young girl smiling at me wearing a peach colored dress. At first I stare in disbelief, then a sort of gentle reverence, then the absolute innocence of wonder at what life after high school would hold for me.

I drove by Dick Bivins Stadium where I had sat in the stands as she marched with the marching band twirling her baton. A gentle rain begins to fall and I realize that there are somethings that even time can never take away.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Love and Life

There is a clear distinction between love and life. Love is blind, and life is its seeing eye dog- more kind, more beautiful than love itself could ever be. The kind leading the blind. Yet without love there would be no one to lead across the street.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A soft Landing

It seemed the right time to share a dream, and it seemed the right time to chase the dreams of the living, rather than the ghosts of the dead.

For a long time I felt responsible for both their deaths. Nothing allowed me to sleep at night. My own nightmares had almost become friends.

One of the first things I did once I returned to the USA was visit my Army buddy Bill and Miss Amarillo 1969. They were both at Memorial Gardens. I had not been able to return home with my friend in arms. I said I was sorry, and like always he seemed to understand.

My other great love, Miss Amarillo 1969, was a high school sweetheart. She said she would wait for me. She didn't and had kissed a windshield on Highway 287 South. I placed a single rose in the vase and a card under the vase. The card said how much I missed her.

She had been beautiful. But with so much charm and beauty she became the object of admiration and worship. She had no time to wait on someone who might never return home, she was only guilty of affecting my life, nothing more.

I looked out across the Texas prairie and saw us dancing. In my head Nat King Cole played, and the younger gentler versions of ourselves held each other and laughed even though long ago we had left innocence behind. She touched my cheek with her fingers and I smelled the flowers in her hair.

She stood on her toes and kissed me softly, but as I pulled her closer she vanished into nothing.

A soft landing back to reality, to replace the things that had once been familiar and safe.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Texas Sky

Walk out my front door. Turn right and walk out to that apple tree stump. Now look up into the clear Texas night. See that star there, the third one from the right. Yea, thats it...Miss Amarillo 1969. Those stars around her: My Dad, my Mother, Bill, my brother, my grandparents, all in the salt shaker stars in the Texas sky.

While in a narcotic state in a hospital this past fall, I heard a voice. Seeking, comforting encouraging. I momentarily stripped away the background sounds and communed with that voice I had known so well. One that I had taken for granted that it would always be with me.

At that moment I felt a great inner peace, as if I had died and gone to Baby Jesus, or Buddha or L. Ron Hubbard, but I suddenly realized they were all in attendance at the same AA meeting in the sky. It was a mystical experience for me-almost as if I'd been working out for an hour on my Thigh-Master.

It was four-thirty in the morning and only paranoia was keeping me awake.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

working man's blues

Most people come to Texas for the same reason Humphrey Bogart went to Casablanca- they start out looking for a good BBQ sandwich and then they get sidetracked trying to find happiness. They wind up happy just to find a parking place. Of course if you don't drive a car the situation can get more problematic. Be that as it may, by the time most of us realize we are never going to grow up, we also begin to realize happiness is a highly transitory state. It's kind of like hearing from someone you love, who only seem to call from airports.

Sunday morning when I woke up I took the shortest route from my bed to the coffee pot. I damn near broke my neck when I tripped over a pile of female clothing lying on my floor. At first I could not remember what they were doing in my room. At that hour of the morning I had a slight problem recalling what I was doing in my room.

An angelic voice singing in the shower brought back memories of the night before. I thought I recognized the tune, an operatic version of Merle Haggard's Workin Man's Blues.

A smile formed on my lips. It had not been an unhappy night I recalled. The two of us knew that happiness is a highly transitory state. Much like when someone you love, calls from an airport.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Decaf

Just as things began to look the worst in my life, it got worse. In my case, I was out of coffee. I searched cabinets and drawers, some of which had not been opened in years. All I found was a small jar of decaf instant, left there long ago, no doubt by some forgotten lover. I always have believed that if you drink enough instant decaf you will cease to exist.

I walked down to Old Route 66 to clear my head, and when that didn't work, I stopped at the bar to mess it up again. When I got home at around ten o'clock, I didn't know where my children were. I wasn't even sure what happened to all of my childhood imaginary friends.

I felt sad, as sad as I had at anytime in my life. I couldn't click my heels three times and go home.

It was just enough to break your heart.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Disconnected

I looked bleakly upon the desolate patches of dirt and weeds. It was a desolate stretch of rural Texas road where my dads pickup had rolled several times. Everybody's got to die sometime. Either you die suddenly on a lonely rural Texas road, or you die of ennui sitting around wondering when you are going to die. Waiting for something to happen.

I tell you it's no way to live.

Exactly 22 years to the day after my dads death I wondered if I was within site of my own pot of gold. Like so many before me when was I going to step on my rainbow?

I drove home and watched the city lights paint the dark velvet of night. I dialed my mothers' number. It was disconnected. I dialed my dads, number. It was disconnected.

My phone rang and the voice on the other end sounded very young.

I looked out my window and saw people walking by. The people seemed to cling to the shadows and the shadows seemed to cling to the people like heathens or whores or other biblical types. They huddled together beneath burned-out streetlights waiting for the sun to take them away.

The young voice brought me back to the present.

Tonight I felt rather disconnected myself.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

For Every Season

For every season

There is a time to live, and a time to die, and a time to stop listening to old albums by the Byrds.
My attitude about life is you should always take the good with the bad. The game, of course, is to see if you can tell which one is which.


You never know what is going to happen in life. You might pick up the newspaper and read where Laura Bush was caught swimming naked in the pool at the Holiday Inn. That's what keeps us all in the Game.

Life is sometimes like borrowing a cup of sugar from a yesterday that never was.
My problem with life is that I am a fictional person that isn't writing about fictional characters. When you write about flesh and blood, as God probably found out on the 8th day, things tend to break down a bit.


In real life Cinderella tires of the Prince and has an affair with the guy that comes to clean the swimming pool. In real life Sleeping Beauty has insomnia. Of couse life can become weird, because in certain areas of Amarillo, the Montrose area of Houston, the Oak Cliff section of Dallas and certain dense forests in Ireland, little fairies can often be seen. But even they can't really grant you a wish.

That's just how it is sometimes. Someone shows up with a blanket, you send out for beer and KFC and spread the blanket out and have a picnic. Which is better than the other choice, covering your dead body.

I spent several days looking for a life. I didn't find anything but an old love letter I never sent to some forgotten lover, that I never got to know. Nothing lost.

A Lot of things in life fall behind the dresser and get lost in the cobwebs, and we really don't know the difference.

I guess the only loyality in life is a gynocologist daydreaming of his wife.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Phone Calls From Airports

My vision focused on the solitary memory burned into my brain. It was a memory of a phone call I never got from someone I loved from an airport. Looking back at things I've never missed a flight. God nor Amelia Earhardt never told me why. Anytime I go to an airport I arrive early so I can kill lots of time, drinking coffee and watching people walking around and dream like so many highway reflectors.

Maybe I like airports because they never sleep. The people in them now are the children of the people you used to see at bus stations and train platforms before they flew off to the stars. You see lovers saying goodbye like in a story book.

You can't get a phone call while you are in an airport, unless you have a cell phone. But you can call your answering machine, or your voice mail from an airport. If you hear your own voice it may remind you that you are the most important person in the world to ever get a phone call from a person you love from an airport.

Actually who shives a git? It's just a voice from an airport. Cathedrals to the absence of the earthbound soul. Sanctuaries surrounded by wings trying vainly to comfort the terminal among us, and who among us is not terminal?

The voice I had wanted to call me, couldn't call me because I was in a jungle somewhere. She did call her mother, not from an airport, or a train platform or a bus depot, but from a pay phone in Clarendon, Texas. She told her mother she was fine and would be home in about an hour. As she pulled onto Highjway 287 South a semi truck driver ran a signal ight and flattened the young girl and her cherry red Mustang convertible.

We live together in my dreams and I have clung to my dreams like June bugs clinging to a summer screen, or like messages missed on an answering machine.

Before I had left for that Jungle she had wanted me to protect her from bad animals that attacked her in her childhood nightmares.

"What kind of animals? I asked.

"Bad animals." she replied.

I have lived forty years longer than she ever did and I never have figured out what the bad animals were. Maybe they were not animals after all, I couldn't even protect her from the semi on Highway 287.

I have figured out in those forty years, that if all goes according to plan, that someday it would all be alright.

Afterall, we are fortunate enough that all airports are connected to the same sky.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bear Trap

I wasn't feeling to bright one August 2007 morning. Like a character in a long-ago childrens story half remembered, I was leaving the hospital an older but not a particularly wiser bear. The smart thing to do, I thought, would be to hibernate until spring. Bears slept for months at a time in their caves, why couldn't I? Of course bears didn't have to get up to urinate, and they probably didn't have nightmares unless they were scared of mice. No, that was elephants. Bears probably had nightmares about men. Between mice and men, we could no doubt scare the crap out of anybody. I didn't plan to have any nightmares, however. As Warren Zevon once recommended: "I'll sleep when I'm dead." If I wasn't careful explained my doctor' that could be sooner than later.

The cab driver smiled and shut the door, reassuringly. It was a bit like driving off with the extraterrestrial crew of a UFO, and it wasn't courage that enabled me to go home that day. It was rather a rather heady mix of stubborness and maybe something else, I thought: a little thing called emptiness. The plexiglass partition was not only up between me and the driver, it was up between myself and the rest of the world

From the direction of the sun we were headed East toward my house that was located not far off Old Route 66. Amarillo has many old great neighborhoods and they were passing by through the windows of the taxi like so many stops along the railroad tracks of my life.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Shoshone The Magic Pony

Reposting This because I found it and it is vey personal. I hope you enjoy it again.

In 1953, when I was about five years old, my parents took me to see Shoshone the Magic Pony.

That was also the year that my brother drown in the Pacific Ocean off the Oregon Coast. That same year Hank Williams, along with Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, had checked out of the mortal motel, quite possibly unaware that the other party had been there to begin with. Hank fried his brains and heart and other internal organs for our sins, using eleven different herbs and spices. Julius and Ethel, charged with spying for Russia, were fried by our government and died declaring their innocence and their love for each other. Hank's songs declared his love and his innocence, inexplicably, for people. It is doubtful whether Hank or the Rosenbergs had anything in common at all, except that a small boy in Texas had not cried when each of them had died. He had cried when he learned that he would never see his younger brother again.

The boy had not cried the year before when Adlai Stevenson had lost the potato-sack hop at the company picnic to good ol' Ike, the Garth Brooks of all presidents, who turned out to be the most significant leader we'd had since Millard Fillmore and remained as popular as the bottle of ketchup on the kitchen table of America, even if Lenny Bruce and Judy Garland, who were destined to die on toilets, like Elvis, remained in their rooms for the entire two terms of his presidency. The kid seemed to cry alot back then, because of the absence of his brother, but fortunately, the other human tragedies of this sort never cut into his otherwise happy childhood.

When he grew up, he continued to cry at times, though the tears were no longer visable to the naked eye, for he never again let human tragedies of this sort cut into his cocktail hour. But during his childhood, it is very likely that his parents noticed the tears. That may have been the reason they took him to see Shoshone the Magic Pony.

Now I find myself looking out at the cool spring evening and dreaming in the daytime like Lawrence of Arabia. At last I could afford to daydream. I looked out over the evening and my mind went back to 1953. Shoshone the Magic Pony had just been announced over the loud speaker of the little rodeo arena near Wellington, Texas. My mother, my father, my uncle and my grandparents were all sitting on splintery bleachers. Suddenly, all of our eyes were on the center of the arena. Shoshone came out prancing, led by an old cowboy with a grey beard. He took the reins and Shoshone began to bow several times to the audience.

The old cowboy stood back and music began, it was "Waltz Across Texas" and Shoshone the Magic Pony began to dance. It was apparent from the outset, even to us children in the crowd, that there were two men inside of Shoshone. You could tell by the clever, intricate soft shoe routine she was performing, by the fact that she often appeared to be moving in two directions at once, and by the funny and very unponylike way she now and again humped and arched her back to the music. I was laughing so hard I forgot for the moment about my brother, and Hank Williams, Adlai Stevenson, the Rosenbergs, and myself. Whoever was inside there was good, I even forgot that they were inside there. Then "Waltz Across Texas" was over. Shoshone took a deep theatrical bow. Everybody laughed and clapped and cheered. The old cowboy took off his hat. Then he took off his beard. Then he took off the old cowboy mask he was wearing and we saw to our amazement that the old-timer was in reality a very pretty young girl. She took off Shoshone's saddle. Then she took off her saddle blanket. And there, to my total astonishment, stood only Shoshone the Magic Pony. Shoshone was a real pony.

"So you see," I said to know one in particular, "there is a lesson in all this." "Nothing is what it appears to be and no one is who they appear to be." "And sometimes a dark and lonely street is just a dark and lonely street."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kartofle

I looked in the rearview mirror at the deserted highway that had once been the business route of Route 66, all I saw was a ragged old man with a bottle in his hand vomiting in the gutter. Could've been Edgar Allan Poe, or Ira Hayes or Stephen Foster. Could've been me, I thought, given the wrong blood lines and the right heartbreak. By the time I got to the corner where the old drugstore once stood, the people and the shadows had gone and so had just about everything else in the neighborhood. The old store stood somber as a shipwreck on some forgotten floor of some uncharted sea that Columbus had missed on his way to discovering the Bank of America.



It was growing dark by the time I pulled over to the side of the street to look at the vacant buildings. It wasn't the kind of neighborhood you'd really want to be in after dark, or any other time for that matter. There was a time back in the 40's, 50's & 60's that all the big names played the Nat Ballroom across the corner. Now there were several different kinds of clubs up and down the block. The street seemed to become a little more populated, if you wanted to call it that. The people seemed to cling to the shadows and the shadows seemed to cling to the people. Like heathens or whores or other biblical types, they huddled together beneath burned out street lights waiting for the sun to take them away.

This corner was as quiet as a country graveyard.

I took out my flashlight and headed for the door of the dark and forsaken old structure. It didn't look like a major B&E job because the front door was standing open off its hinges. 40- 50-60 years ago this place had been brimming with guys and girls, juke box music, sodas, milk shakes and malts, love, laughter and intrigue. You didn't have to say, "Joe sent me." to get in. I wasn't sure who had sent me, but whoever it was had a pretty sick sense of humor. It was a stretch to imagine that there could be any relic of the past still around the inside of this old building.

The flashlight revealed years of disuse and abuse. It looked like a crack house that had seen better days. On the floor instead of furniture, were boxes, blankets, broken wine bottles, butane lighters, dirty chore boy, and an old shopping cart that stood in a cobwebbed corner. It was asleep, waiting for a happy suburban shopper to roll it home.

I worked my way back to where the soda fountain once stood. I had to duck around old water pipes some still leaking water where the floor was rotting away. It was like watching ancient gnarled limbs leaking the lifeblood of a bygone era.

On a dusty shelf nearby was a rain soaked makeup bag and cosmetics kit, possibly left by street prostitutes who had come here to get high between tricks, Then I shined the light to the corner and saw the beauty herself, she'd probably been to long and heavy to carry away like everything else that had once been in the place. It was the old fashioned soda fountain counter that as a teen I had made root beer floats, served countless sodas, after school and on weekends. I propped up the counter so I could look at the top of it. I found an old rag and began wiping off years of dirt, grime and dust. As unlikely as it seemed, even time had not erased the initials carved into the counter top so many years ago.

I couldn't shop at the old corner drug store anymore. Just about everything has been forgotten within the dusty book jackets of what we call history. Of course yesterdays triumphs and tragedies may well be tomorrows' trivia. Who could tell the difference? Walking down these lonely dark streets? Maybe you would find what you were looking for. Maybe you thought that you'd been following your stars then one dark and lonely night, just like this one, you looked up at the clear Texas moonlit night and found that it was none of the above.

After a few blocks the old buildings became busier, trendier, authentic places populated by last years people. I like last years people I decided. Maybe I had been wrong, maybe it wasn't dark outside after all, maybe it was just the mere absence of the human spirit. Time passed slowly like rush hour traffic of the mind.

My eyes lowered to the sidewalk, some little things always tend to slip through the cracks in the sidewalk and our souls. I walked in the direction the sun had gone down, once this had been a great neighborhood. About 80 years ago my father had spent a summer working for a Polish man selling vegetables to housewives. The polish guy had a horse and cart and loaded it up with fresh vegetables from the farmers market, then proceeded down the streets and alleys shouting out the produce available. My dad rode a top the cart.

Clotheslines hung like medieval banners across every backyard as the horse and cart plodded along. My father ran the purchases to the housewives as they wiped their hands on their aprons.
My dad told me the one word the peddler yelled most often. The word was kartofle. It means potato in Polish.

Now 80 years later my fathers oldest son was walking down the same streets, looking no doubt at the same buildings now boarded up clinging to each other for dear life.

The vegetable peddler was gone. The housewives were gone. The clotheslines were gone. My father was gone. All that remained were some trashy vacant lots, a few sad buildings, and an occasional alley leading from nowhere to nowhere.

I paused and looked around the once alive neighborhood. The air turned an almost primordial cold that seemed to come from somebody else's iceage. I peered out at the desolate landscape where every now and then the dull glint of old buried railroad tracks became visable below the dirt like scarred, submerged hard to find veins of a dying junkie.

"Kartofle", I said.

There was no one to hear me except some street person sitting on the steps of a darkened doorway, he just kept his eyes down.

Either he wasn't polish or he didn't want any potatoes.

My mind was still at work, even in its troubled and confused state, it was processing the past looking for an answer from a world that didn't give a damn.

A light rain began to fall and in the ancient glow of the streetlights, there seemed to form a canopy of hope over the city and the world. There are five and a half billion people and four hundred gorillas left, I thought, and though I wasn't exactly sure which group I'd rather hang out with, I was finally beginning to have some fun at the party.

Friday, April 17, 2009

One Time While Dying

The whole experience seemed like something from a movie. The kind you want to get up and walk out of.

I looked out over the bed I was lying in and looked down on the ashes of my misbegotten youth. It was like looking over an open grave. I didn't know whether to curse or pray as my mind went back a million years to a somewhat celestial nightmare. Moments of magic, decades of destruction, fragile, tender, star-crossed, deathbound, heroic, beautiful, hopeless, immortal, mortal. Dancing with angels, struggling with demons, and finally understanding the wisdom of the Roger Miller song, Don't Write Letters To My Dog.

It makes you stop and consider what your life might be worth. Somwtimes your life runs out before you do, that is what happens when you realize you have spent your entire life operating your brain on one cylinder most of the time. How in the hell did death sneak up on me like this?

The body can quit working I discovered, but that doesn't mean the mind does. I wasn't about to deny HIS existence at this time. No man is an atheist when he thinks he is dying. It was quite ridiculous when you think about it.

I felt a giddy flashback of backyards 1950's summertime in Texas. Childhood pranks, Christmas tree forts, stirring up a hornets nest then running for your life. No matter who you are, running for your life can be dangerous, tiresome work, I reflected very briefly, but it sure beat jogging. The veil of childhood lifted, blood began returning to my heart and stain my dreams. I felt strangely at peace.
An unfamiliar voice asked, "How do you feel?'

I whispered as best I could, "This dream is short. But this dream is happy."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Glass Heart




Glass Heart

Center City........ The annual downtown festival sponsored by the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce. An attempt to breathe some life into a decaying rotting lifeless inner city of small town Texas. I parked a block away, at a weekday unneeded and unused parking lot and made my way to 8th and Polk Street. Polk Street, Main Street anywhere else. I stood momentarily at the corner observing the hordes of revelers flow around and past me-tourists, hucksters, pickpockets, and students, Gypsy urchins sniffing glue, and snatching purses, drug dealers, cops, young lovers, and peddlers of every common place and oddity. Old people, holding hands and drifting back in memory 50 years when they strolled hand and hand in their youth. Pointing at each storefront recalling what was there a lifetime ago. In many ways like the old days, Hope in bed with despair.


I turned toward 9th, when I saw her emerge from Brewsters Pub, she wasn't looking my way and she began walking south towards the end of the block where the neon sign of The Blue Note Bar and Grill loomed glowing softly in the rosy light of a static dust. She allowed herself to be dragged along with the throng among the carousers. Following behind her like Humphrey Bogart staking out Peter Lorre in a 1950-s thriller. Catching the bob of her blonde hair and the glow from the street lamps highlighted her once familiar beauty. .
I could feel the pounding of an anxious heart, spilling blood. She paused in front of the Blue Note. Standing there as if lost in thought, the gentle breeze of days fading light tugged at the hem of her cotton dress. I dipped into the foyer of an old closed up building. I faced the dread were she to see me and turn back to speak. As the last time I looked into her eyes set in motion the final scenes of a drama which she had a decisive and leading role. I looked down at the sidewalk as newspapers drifted against my shoes. I exhaled the smoke of a cigarette, watched the smoke rise and imagined that with it all the things in my life that had gone wrong, and the mistakes I had made were drifting upward like flotsam on the swirling eddies of the smokes current.
As the last grasping rays of twilight cast their rays on ghostly silhouettes, she disappeared into a place where I had taught her the two-step and The West Texas Waltz, so many months ago.

I stopped at the window to the live Texas music side of the club, where in a few hours the dance floor would be filled with couples. The dance floor was viewable from the sidewalk outside. As the bruised ego of the coming evening cast a shadow on the wooden floor, the sudden urge to go inside over whelmed me. An impulse I struggled to supress. I swallowed hard, and for a moment at least, fought off an unshakable sadness.
Part Two

LoneStar was pure small-town Texas, and despite his degrees and his years of travel, he would always be small-town Texas, deep down in the well that was his real nature. Tall and lean, he neared the end of years of a storied life. The ice from his drink was pudding around his glass. He had strung himself out in stories to the breaking point, playing roles inside his head for so long that the distinctions between who he was and who he pretended to be were bleeding together. He made mistakes by revealing too much of himself. Exposed, his friends began to think of him as damaged goods. People who so distanced that they didn't understand this so well. In fact it could be argued that more often than not, damaged goods, were simply thrown away.

She sat at the same table they had sat at so many months before. Though there was a vast age difference between them she had loved him, still loved him, and she new him well, she also knew she got only a part of him. He kept a percentage to himself. But she had known that going in, and she had accepted it, though she had to admit toward the end it had become to have an effect on the relationship. It was nothing insurmountable. It was that the small part he kept to himself sometimes defined more of what happened between them than she would like. Her smile faded, and she stared into space with an unsteady tilt of her head.

He cut his eyes at the Club across the street. He had taken a window seat in Amigo's Restaurant. His eyes returning to the space across from him, where emptiness sat. He wondered what it was about women that made them so romantic about their relationships. She wondered why men so bravely proclaim their independence from such attachments.

In the simplicity of his inebriation, LoneStar thought, they know a small story. With his elbow resting on the table, he raised his hand in front of his face and squeezed his forefinger and thumb together. "About that much. The least little scrap of me." He whispered to himself, and his blue-green eyes squinted blankly looking nowhere. At some point only the man deepest in understood everything, and it wasn't a rare thing for him to keep some part of it stored forever in that small percentage of himself that he never shared with everyone.

She seemed to be unable to think of anything else. She was completely aware, feeling the effects of the gin, which had been creeping up on her with every fresh drink. She stood slowly, her voice started low.

"You .....son.......of.....a ...........BITCH!" she screamed, and without thinking she grabbed the edge of the table cloth and jerked it with all her might, sending everything on the table flying across the room, crashing, rattling on the floor, behind her as she stalked out of the Bar, and into the sultry, mean heat of the night.

Part Three


Desolate in her depression, she felt like a life long whore who after years of abstinence had returned again to loveless sheets, preferring even one moment of counterfeit affection to endless nights of genuine loneliness. Nothing compared to moral failure in its resulting isolation. For momentary comfort she had left me with only the sour after taste of regret. She had fallen to her death long ago, and in doing so she had grasped at my heart in an effort to save herself. The plunge killed us both.

As I watched her thru the cafe window, disappearing into the fog of the evening. Only one last thought prevailed in my mind. Her leaving was as sure and final and symbolic as death. The only thing I know that last forever.
Part Four

The last drink they had together months ago ended with words and feelings unlocked from too many doubts and insecurities of past loves for both of them. The linger of her perfume had mingled with the rising smoke of his cigarette. Tonight through the haze he wondered which set of tail lights leaving the parking lot was hers. He ordered another drink as his finger drew imaginary circles on the table cloth.
As a bid to her fidelity she had proclaimed her anger when it was only through a friend that worked in admissions had informed her where he had been for several weeks. He had been released when she came to visit. His deception she felt was a complex pattern of lies. He had betrayed her with his silence. They were playing word games now. The syntax had to be massaged to the point where each of them could live with an acceptable ambiguity. That was the apparent game. The darker game, the subtext, was one that made his face and chest burn as though he had a fever. To her she was at the point at which all of the invested interests and time came together finally. She had wanted him to insure that those interests were secure. Whatever he had thought, he had been mistaken.

He had felt the strange but familiar stirrings of excitement, a mixture of fervor and foreboding-that eventually rose to the surface. Something he was not sure he could control. It was not like any other emotional experience, at once elemental and sophisticated. It was the simple challenge of survival and as complex as aberrant sexuality. It had been an open-ended invitation to risk the unknown. He thought he was just trying to protect her from her youthful exuberance.

The evening had brought a thick fog with it. The crowds were growing smaller but the bars were filling up fast. At least he had avoided her and had gone unseen.

Two years later

For reasons unknown to himself, he was drawn to enter the bar where he had once shared drinks with a vision. It had been her twenty-first birthday, and it seemed a lifetime ago. In reality it had been only two years since that festive evening. He was staring at the pattern of the woodwork of the table when a shadow cast over him. He looked up.

"May I sit down?" she asked.

He nodded yes.

"Do you believe in love, cowboy?"

I suppose I do, he nodded.

Then he spoke. "I have a Glass Heart," he spoke matter of factly. "Do you remember I told you this before? I did not ask for it, this glass heart. It was a gift." He paused as if to let something subside-a pain, perhaps; a dizziness. "Hard is the glass heart. Nothing moves through it. It has no fragrance or softness. Cold to the touch. It hears no music, see no light..." His heart jerked in his chest, and he continued. "And yet it is fragile too, so very fragile. "
She reached across the table and kissed him softly on the cheek. The Glass Heart shattered into powder. "A Glass Heart. Hard...and fragile. I need both to survive. And in the end, to be redeemed...."

She took his hand and folded his fingers around a gold locket. In the silence that followed, he grew pale. She rose from the chair and left, the sunlight outlining her body when she opened the door and went outside into the hot Texas heat.
As the day moved steadily into the thinness of its time, he grew slack. All of a sudden he felt a stillness in the room, and he knew he was very much alone. He opened the locket to find a picture of the two of them, sitting at the very table he sat at now. The locket, a requiem of her love. A constant reminder that of all the many passions that gripped and compelled the human heart in the course of a lifetime, the greatest of them was love.

Continued

So I took yet another risk and in doing so had played a card in a hand that I increasingly feared would allow me fewer and fewer options. How many cards are left in the deck? All the spent ones lay before me, and I could remember in detail exactly how I had played them, and the small stack that remains to draw from was there too. But there is no time to count, no way to calculate what my chances are with the few cards that remain. Each day seems to move in glacial time past my frame of view. Another drama, another act, another role. It wouldn't be so bad if anything ever lasted from these theatricals. But the whole point is the ending. Correct?

It seems I always have to step over the corpses to get off the stage. I always exit alone. There is no one to talk to. The isolation is torture, as is the absence of continuity.
Do we really need someone to share a memory with, but even worse, to share the few things we wish to remember?

Finality

In the silence, in the darkness, no one could see the hurt in his face. They couldn't even imagine it. He knew the importance of trust between two people, especially the trust necessary between two people who had learned to submit to the free fall of a certain type of relationship. Where the assumption was that the other partner was securing the lifeline that would prevent the plunge from being fatal. That kind of trust came with an emotional price. He would have had to commit to her, the kind of commitment you made to the coming of night, the passage of time, and to the surety of death. He realized that there is no way to turn back the clock. Two years ago when he had made his decision, he meant it. He had made the judgement that whatever good they might be for each other, it wasn't worth the price of admission.
He took another shot of scotch. He was on the edge here. A few more sips and he wouldn't be able to think straight. He would be in that zone, that strata of self-deception where he would assume he was thinking straight, even though he wasn't. Sinking, like a pilot flying to high without oxygen, into that nether zone of absolutely believable delusion. That is where he was at this stage of his life-trying to find a balance, to linger on the edge of delusion but not step over it.
He evaluated his life at this moment...........a fucking horror show. Trying to think of just one person he meant something to, he faced his solitude and determined not one single person that mattered. He was just a mere bit of debris, blown and whipped around in the winds of his dusty past.
Spitting out irrevelant words in his ever meaningless insignificance

Thursday, April 9, 2009

curiosity

The afternoon was as cold as blue eyes that didn't love you anymore.

When you go looking for something in life, sometimes you find it. Then you find it wasn't what you were looking for. Then you wonder why in the hell you went looking for it in the first place. Just curiosity you figure. You rack your brain trying to remember what curiosity did to the cat. Did it make him healthy, wealthy and wise? Did it help him be early and get the worm? Oh hell, now you recall, it killed him.

The specter of curiosity stalks across the creaky wooden vacant warehouse floor of your life.

Across a candlelit table in a restaurant that closed many years ago. Shut down by the city for being to quaint.

I took another sip of coffee as I puffed a cigaret and watched a blue wreath of smoke rise up toward the lesbian dance class up stairs. Things were pretty quiet up there just now. Maybe they were getting into their tiny lesbian leotards, or out of them, Who knew what went on upstairs in the lesbian dance class. The whole world loves a lesbian I thought, of course when you got them thundering on your ceiling even a lovable lesbian can lose a little magic.

I watch the smoke drift away like the dreams of a small child who always wanted to grow up to be a fireman. Dreams like everything else must die an early death sooner or later. I'd always hoped mine could have been a little later. Dying isn't what its cracked up to be. But in all fairness few things are. Body surfing for one.

Those are just some of the things you think about when your life hangs by a thread. Maybe it continues to cling there and you continue to live. Or maybe some well meaning neurotic nurse puts down her clip board and says, "Oh honey you have a loose thread here." She picks off the thread then you die.

Then your land lord leases your apartment for a higher amount. The girl in the peach colored dress calls, hears your voice still on your answering machine and leaves a message. Then she wonders why you don't get back to her.

Serves her right for waiting so damn long to call.

Monday, April 6, 2009

blinkity blonk

The great Soviet political philosopher, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, thought he had sufficiently assessed the human condition when he wrote, "Every man always has handy a dozen glib little reasons why he is right not to sacrifice himself." Had Solzhenitsyn met some of my friends, he would see how right he was.

In my formative years, my bags were empty when I sat out to discover the world, and myself.. They were equally void of packed excuses the day I gained my first career, my ex-wife, my days in college, my relations with my parents, my children, my teachers, my co-workers, and the list can go on.

I had long before buried what excuses I may have had for not following whatever was my calling. I embraced so deeply that the road never forked; the adventure was straight and clear. Indeed, by emptying my bag of excuses, the load only lightened. Other people I knew thought they knew me better than I did, but I knew me pretty well.

Sometimes I laugh at the retelling of the day my legend was born. Somewhere around 1966-67, the burdens of college life became so overpowering that I did what most college students do - I took a nap . . . in class. And, as my colleagues poured a lifetime of experience into the day's lecture, I passed from mere napping to deep, robust slumber; the kind of sleep that relieved my body of its duty to remember that I was seated at a desk and not prone in bed. The crash that followed left students stunned and me in a howling stupor. I learned to laugh a lot. And I learned to laugh at myself a lot since those days.

Following a High School reunion a few years ago, some of my pals, all men in my own state of decay, recalled stories. "There was Wes's overzealous attempt to gasoline-fortify a campfire, which left him with a comical set of prickly eyebrows and hairless arms." We laughed at the comedy that was the conversion of my pickup bed into a mobile swimming pool. I'm more amused at how me and my buddies were able to splash around town without drawing the attention of police.

Every day was an adventure in my world. But don't misunderstand - I'm no oaf. I believe myself to be an imaginative writer, an intelligent debater, and a lover of people. That's what I would expect most parents would hope for their offspring. I want see it in my own daughters when they find adventure in the routine of everyday life. I want to see it in my friends, those out there in cyber land and those around me in person. I try to traverse the mundane by elevating the importance of those around me. All people matter to me - all colors, religions, backgrounds, creeds and dispositions. I love the beautiful and the ugly alike. The friendly and the cranky both get my attention. I try to befriend the kind and the embittered with the same vigor. They all matter. None are up for vote. None are on the auction block of significance.

The burden that one's life might end before becoming acquainted with the majesties of the universe is the vivid backdrop to my life. It is a tapestry woven into the fabric of my being. More precisely, it is the water that quenchs my parched thirst. My adventures and my life are indistinguishable. I was me at school, football games, work and home and just knocking around. Who I am is more than a Sunday wardrobe or cultural garb.

It was a choice that became my calling, a calling that became my choice.

I see my friends still looking for who they are, recluseing themselves into tiny capsules of self loathing and tiny closets of self absorbtion by avoidng the real world as it exist, and their own lives as they exist. When I first met me many years ago, on a trip to meet myself and my future. I seemed quiet and a little nervous. That would all change. I did what I ask all my friends, known and unknown to do: ask good questions, probing questions about the world and what it is. Change your thoughts about yourself. I find you quite kind and affable. I liked you all from the beginning, you might even like yourself, if you give yourself a chance.

You cannot fathom then the profound impact that one change might have on your self awareness adventure.

I'm grateful to many. I'm grateful that the student became the teacher, the teacher became the student. You have something to share, share it.

The great Soviet philosopher was close - all men do carry bags. And such baggage packs excuses for most.

Become full of caring, compassion and adventure. Here's the real tragedy, the nugget that causes me to pause the longest:

Just five minutes alone with yourself and you will find the poor, vicious, misdirected person you think you are and the person you really are..... can become best friends. The two of you will laugh at your quirky charm and be captivated by your honest compassion. Don't be your own assassin by shortchangeing your own life in ways you probably will never know.
Be glad to spend five more minutes with yourself, laughing with yourself and laughing at yourself.



Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Time In a bottle

Children, it has always seemed to me, have a greater understanding of many things than adults do. As they grow up, this native sensitivity is smothered, buried, and destroyed like someone pouring concrete over cobblestones, and finally replaced by what we call knowledge. Knowledge is a vastly inferior commodity when compared to imagination, Imagination is the money of childhood. That is why it is no surprise that little children have a better understanding of nature, death, God, animals, the universe, and some truly hard to grasp concepts like love, than do most adults.

Now with the eyes of a child I focused on everything that wasn't there. The world has changed, it's a different kind of place now, people have changed. Instead of looking up at things we now spend most our time looking down on them. Another reason no one is happy anymore is that people don't have the balls anymore to do anything about the negative these days. Balls, like Imagination, seem to shrivel with age.

In my arrested development stage, life still holds a fascination for me, suspended like the sun over happy memories of the last days of my childhood. Some one, or some thing watches over us I believe, even those of us that stray from the herd.

Here in Texas it is rumored that when you die you go to Willie's house. At the very worst you wind up in a bar singing Jimmy Buffet cover songs. While both of those sound like good destinations, I sat under an apple tree my mother planted many many years ago and thought about a place healthy for kids and green plants, of diamond studded sky's at night, fields of bluebonnets, and everything else time has taken away.

Monday, March 30, 2009

hopeless

There is always something especially nice about the first time a lady smiles at you. I contend that at that moment, if you observe her smile, her eyes, her body language, you can determine the nature and depth of your future relationship with her.

"I'm sorry," she smiled, "that seat belongs to my boyfriend."

Your gaze averts hers as she fumbles for a cigarette. You reach across with a match. The flame ignites, as do your dreams. Your eyes meet again briefly and something is unlocked as if by an old fashion hotel key.

"There he is now."

There are certain sacred moments in the oft jaded field of a budding romance. This wasn't one of them. But I'd play along. I'd let her think I still had my pride, my dignity, my ego. Afterall she was letting me think she still loved her boyfriend.

4:00 o'clock in the morning and I was still awake. At four in the morning whites and colors sometimes get mixed up in the wash. But lying awake at 4 in the morning wasn't entirely fruitless, oft times you see things you don't see everyday. There were a myriad of images, after-images, dreams, almost-dreams, visions and revisions that like rare virus' in a rain forest would never survive in the light. Imagination! Hell, the power of imagination is larger than the information highway. You know the Information Highway, where they spent billions and billions of dollars so millions of people can endlessly debate who was the better Star Wars captain.

But back to the pointlessness of this journal entry. It's always hard to believe that someone you could love isn't the person you thought she was. Or was she? I thought, as I daydreamed a little. I saw a little girl in a peach colored dress. She looked not a day older than the day she last kissed me as I boarded a bus headed for an airport that would drop me off in a jungle somewhere.


Geographically, culturally, philosophically undesirable, yet we were perfectly suited for each other in all the timeless, primative, clandestine ways that can be reckoned with in daydreams.

At my age I had long ago admitted that whatever I thought it was that I was looking for, I was never going to find.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Is it the end or the beginning

When I stumbled outside late this morning, I was met by a brutal north wind of 40 mph and blowing snow. If you wanted to be charitable, you could say I was taken by surprise. If you wanted to give me the benefit of the doubt, you could say I had known about this storm for some time, but was in denial since the temps have been in the 70's and 80's. But the weather is not why inquireing minds are reading this journal .

The mind of a hopeless romantic is driven always by that fateful, pilled-to-the-gills trio of teamsters: desperation, paranoia, and necessity.

Maybe there was still time with Freckles, I thought. If I screwed it up there would be lots of time later to sit and wonder where it had all gone. I put on my cowboy hat and headed out into the miserable wind blown snowy morning. At least I didn't have to yell, "Follow that car." The spiritual hallmark of this story has always been that there is no car to follow. And if I wasn't careful, there would be no passenger either. Just a shadow in a dream. Just a girl I used to know.

I began slipping and sliding to Freckles apartment. I began the trek up four flights of stairs. I heard a child crying, a young couple arguing, and someone cooking breakfast. I walked upward past the routine archaeological layers of life. A young girl was standing at the top of the stairs. She was kind looking, carried a frail sensuality about her, and she was holding a cat, gently stroking it.

'She left in a hurry last night."
'Say where she was going?"
"No."
"Say when she ws coming back?"
"No," she said. "but she gave me her cat."

There was a certain finality to that remark that made furthur questioning unnecessary. I tried the door to Freckles' apartment and knocked on the door a few times. Kind of like kicking the tires of a car you knew you wanted to buy.

I said goodbye to the girl. Never did get her name. There are millions of girls and millions of cats in this world and sometimes I wonder if we ever really get to know any of them.

As I reached the bottom of the stairs my eyes met the bluest eyes in Texas.

"What are you doing here?" spoke Freckles. 'My sister had her baby last night so I went over to babysit my niece."

'Oh well, err I was just out for a morning drive.'

"Yea right."

While Freckles slept. I had a cup of coffee. There are a string of clues in this story that stand out like a gaudy neon necklace of winking motels signs along old route 66 that all of us seem to have traveled by too quickly. Nobody saw them for what were, especially me, and no one put them together until it was almost to late.

From behind Freckles' voice whispered, "Time to leave the ghosts of the past, Wes. Time for new friends and time for new relationships. Time to move forward and corrupt me" She laughed..

Thers was something uplifting about her words. The sights and smells and sounds and neon signs all seem to run together.

When I got home I pulled out the picture of Miss Amarillo 1969, kissed it then put it back in the drawer. I knew she would understand.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Paranoia

Walk out my front door. Turn right and walk out to that apple tree stump. Now look up into the clear Texas night. See that star there, the third one from the right. Yea, thats it...Miss Amarillo 1969. Those stars around her: My Dad, my Mother, Bill, my brother, my grandparents, all in the salt shaker stars in the Texas sky.

While in a narcotic state in a hospital this past fall, I heard a voice. Seeking, comforting encouraging. I momentarily stripped away the background sounds and communed with that voice I had known so well. One that I had taken for granted that it would always be with me. At that moment I felt a great inner peace, as if I had died and gone to Baby Jesus, or Buddha or L. Ron Hubbard, but I suddenly realized they were all in attendance at the same AA meeting in the sky.

It was a mystical experience for me-almost as if I'd been working out for an hour on my Thigh-Master. It was four-thirty in the morning and only paranoia was keeping me awake.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lets haul this story to the attic

Thinking about Freckles and the latest news caused me to have an unpeaceful sleep. Either it was that or the pizza I had before I bedtime.

I dreamed Freckles was holding a gun to my head.

"I ordered pepperoni and I expect you to deliver me pepperoni," she was yelling.

The pizza in the dream was finally delivered. There was a black funeral wreath atop the box.

I put on my cowboy boots to leave.

"Nice boots." Freckles said.

"I need them, I may be headed for the last roundup."

There were some important questions I knew I wanted to ask her, but in the irritating fashion of dreams, I could not put the right words together.

" How are you going to find me?" she said in a voice that was fading with the dream. '"How are you going to find me if you don't know who I am?"

Her face seemed to melt and some of her flesh was now falling directly on the pizza in rather neat little circles that bore an uncanny resemblance to pepperoni. Her eyes fell somewhere into the pizza like two olives and I found when I stared into the empty sockets, that I could no longer remember if they were blue or green. As the dream ended, I heard a dull explosion somewhere in the near distance and woke up.

Freckles seemed like a dream. maybe she wanted it that way. I patted the pizza box affectionately a few times. A still, small voice within my head was beginning to whisper to me. This had happened before. Most every one I knew was jealous of the voices, because they only talk to me. Something about the voice was reassuring and it told me there was a solution to this Freckles mess.

In a perfect world we would all laugh and laugh and the birds would sing in perfect stereo, then tragically little toy trains would derail and people who really loved each other would go their separate ways in this cantilevered remedial world.

I had never particularly minded being alone and I minded it even less now that almost everyone was gone. I had my memories. What else did I need?

The only business I had today was to call Freckles and settle things once and for all, and maybe do some daydreaming. And daydreaming as most government analysist say today can be hazardous to your health. Of course, as most government analysist today also agree, so can everything else.

The little voice inside my head kept saying this would be my lucky day. Not that you should ever actually listen to those kind of voices. The voices guided me to a bedside table with a drawer. As if guided by the voice I opened the drawer and inside I found an old Timex watch given to me by my friend Bill the day he was killed my a mortar in Vietnam. I reached further into the drawer and found some old photographs I hadn't even realized were there.

I put the Timex on the table and poured a cup of coffee and put the photographs there also. My apartment I reflected, had turned into a halfway house for relics of dead friends. Later as I was flipping through the pictures, sifting through the ashes of my youth, I picked up an old picture that Miss Amarillo 1969 had given me. She was a young girl of about 19 holding the hand of a soldier at some beautiful, forgotton, faraway bus depot. The soldier was wearing a Class A US Army Uniform and you could tell he loved the beautiful young girl and that she loved him. He was a good looking lad when the picture was taken.

Miss Amarillo's eyes were shimmering roulette wheelsof childhood, spinning stars into my soul, making me imagine that the girl knew she was destined to die young and to frolic forever in the airport waiting lounge I was pleased to call my mind. And in her eyes I saw every woman I had ever loved. I no longer had to wait to work things out with Freckles, In a very real sense I already held the answer in my hands.

I took a walk and as I walked the sad undecaffeinated truth kept stepping up and slapping me in the face. I had been looking at things through the wrong end of a telescope and they seemed very far away when, in truth, they were close enough for slow dancing in the make-believe ballroom of my brain.

I don't know if this train is bound for glory. I decided I had to do what my mother had told me many times to do. " Sometimes son you just have to follow your heart."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

On and On like gunsmoke reruns

continued from Monday and tuesday

I woke up about half past Gary Cooper time. Freckles was gone. She had pinned a note on her pillow saying she left breakfast on the table. Whatever it was fizzed and bubbled and turned into a darker color like a high school chemistry class experiment.

As I read the morning paper, I kept seeing her face and mine passing each other like two strangers on a commuter train. I then decided I needed to have a serious talk with myself which is hard to do with someone who won't listen. In the parallel lives of Wes and TcbnTX I cared about them both. I may have even loved them. I mean afterall, between the two of them they almost made up an interesting person.

By the third cup of coffee I had fairly given up on the dreamy shards of any youthful notion that life would go on forever. Like every other graffiti-strewn, ennui-driven subway train to nowhere, life would come to a screeching halt and all the passengers would have to get off.


I decided to leave my three rooms and a path and get on with life, instead of waiting around waiting to hear from dead people. "Forty years is long enough to wait on a dead person." I said to all my imaginary friends.

I was one clean shirt away from having to stay in. The background music was trying to convince me that there was no way I could see a happy ending to this story. Maybe Hollywood and the fairy tales had used so many happy endings there were no more in stock.

I tried to recognize the face in the mirror but I was amazed to find I hardly remember what I looked like. Is that what happened when you died? You just blipped off the screen and people forgot you? I still thought TCBnTx and Wes equaled an adequate human being for me. Not that I was all that demanding.

The news was depressing. I left the building doing my best Elvis impression. I stepped out into the day and saw a guy living in a cardboard box, cutting little windows in the sides like you did as a child. If anybody has ever been a child.

I walked to the corner store run by some kind of born again Koreans. More and more I began to feel like I had the soul of a Korean businessman, I did not waste time on the window dressing of life. I survived only on the bare essentials. And these I stockpiled fairly heavily. If things got as bad as everyone was saying I may not want to go out again. I bought enough food for nine lives and enough coffee to keep Amarillo up well past its bedtime. I thought of my old grandpa Slim, wearing his John Deere gimme cap sitting on the porch watching the world go by.

I begain thinking I should try creating a new magazine. I would call it High Times, its major feature would be a foldout centerfold with pictures of high quality cocaine. I don't know what the readership would be but I suspect a lot of people might like to snort the centerfold.

I was confused by todays news. I considered a prayer. Then I said to hell with it. Let the good Christians of the world pray for my eternal soul. Let the little old man with the beanie tranverse the slums of Africa and tell the aids ridden, starving, hopeless, uneducated families of twelve not to use condoms. It cost forty million dollars for him to make the trip. I'm not sure the Church might not have been better served spending that money on cat food for all the cats left behind by all the witches of the world it had burned.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cont from Tuesday and Monday

I ate five shots of Crown Royal with several Vodka Tonics on the side. By then everybody in the place looked familiar, especially after I had a Long Island Ice Tea as a chaser. Freckles didn't seem to be able to keep up, but what the hell did I know. I did not decide to purchase a small aluminum foil package of new improved Tide from a nervous pale man called the Weasel who didn't know why he was called the Weasel. I reflected how few of us in this crazy world know who or what we are.

I was pretty well walking on my knuckles by the time we got home. Freckles was taking a lot for granted as she began removing her blouse and her skirt.

"You know I have been impotent for about as long as you have been alive," I joshed.

"That's fine," she said, " it's that time of the month."

'"You are fucking kidding." I cried out.

"I ain't fucking at all"

I just stared at her.

"We could cuddle." she said.

Very late that evening the phone rang interrupting cuddlaribus. I untangled myself from Freckles. Earlier we had talked and I just presumed I had done the right thing before Christmas by giving her her space. What she had wanted was my space, and by that I did not mean the social networking site. I'd been parked in a spirtual towaway zone for many years now and I wasn't sure I needed to start feeding the meter just yet.

She was looking at me from the bed.

"Why me Allah?' I said.

The idea of renewing this doomed relationship was not especially wise or clever. It was just an admission of my own ability to love anyone. Love to me was alot like sticking your sausage in a light socket while playing Russian roulette with the breaker switch. This did not make me a proud American.

My thoughts were a troubled, jumbled embroidery of love, loneliness, distance, life and death. My life flashed by like the blurry, pastel view from a childhood carousel. I thought, maybe that's all it really was.

When I climbed back into bed. Freckles was asleep.

I didn't bother to wake heer.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On and On an On9 continued from yesterday)

I had to face Freckles. I decided to pray. Dear God, Allah, Jesus, or L. Ron Hubbard. I wasn't taking chances, maybe it was a cry for help. I waited and waited, no one answered. Either thet didn't exist, they didn't care, or maybe none of them were not interested.

I ventured over to the window and thought I saw a vision. It was not clear if the vision was biblical or not, but several times in the past she had given me a religious experience. Time would tell. She was a gorgeous blond about nine feet tall crossing Austin Street toward my apartment. She looked up foar a moment and I saw her face, she did not have that humorless, cold, brittle, Teutonic look. She appeared vibrant, full of fun, adorable, and it's hard for a nine foot tall girl to appear adorable. She looked very sophisticated, at at the same time, like someone you might have left at the country fair of your dreams. Someone who should have always been with you.


I watched as she turned up the sidewalk. Over the fence in the distance near a warehouse I saw a limo, a dollop of clear Texas blue sky, a slow motion man going through a garbage can in the world of the dimly lit, roiling around in the ancient streets like dung beetles pursuing happiness as they are being run down by life .

I closed my eyes and thought of dreams that never were.

I stepped out on the porch and watched Freckles coming up the sidewalk like a red tide at sunset. Somewhere in the world there was a sunset. when I lived in New York there was often no sun or sky to speak of, just garish shadows that fell like elderly people onto the sidewalks and the dull gray blanket would turn darker and bone shillingly colder and underneath it the rats and people scurried faster and faster.

I seem to have become disenfranchised from the rat race and the human race, and began experiencing an inability to differentiate between the two. A possible index of my loneliness.

Freckles waved at me. Now I had to decide where to take her for dinner.

Monday, March 16, 2009

How Do I lovw thee

After Freckles hung up the phone. I sat at my desk for a long time like your everyday catatonic. My mind was humming along on about one cylinder. I knew she was right. In the final analysis though, no one was right and no one was wrong. Just different. clearly there were many pieces to the puzzle and if anyone should be able to see the complete picture it should have been me.+

In my brain dead state I gave up the task and walked over to the couch for a little power nap. That was very taxing because the dreams and faces were all starting to run together like an old tye dyed shirt I had left over from the 60's.

I tried to imagine Miss Amarillo 1969, Freckles, the lesbian from Kansas, the mysterious redhead, Miss Fire Ant 2005 and so many others passing like so many faces in a train window at night. My mind was blank much like this computer screen I'm stareing at.

For a moment, I thought I saw something, something familiar in the eyes, the smile. Then I lost it, partly to the nightmare and fast-lane insanity that I call my life.

I kept mixing Freckles in with all the others, then losing her in the dark disembodied images percolating from some place in my not- so -distant past. It was the kind of thing providing you were sane at the moment could drive you crazy.

"How do I love the?" I said to no one in particular?

"Let me see if I can find a way."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Morphine

Maybe it was the morphine, maybe it was the rain.

One morning in August,2007 I woke up in a hospital room but I figured that was better than waking up on a cloud playing a harp. There was an angel in the room with me reminding me with her presence that I was still alive. We hadn't had much to talk about in our lives. Like millions of conversations between fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, lawyers and whores, hunters and the hunted, full of all the words Andy Gibb ever had, full of horseshit and fury, signifying only the meaninglessness of life.

Yet even though we had not had the music and the words. life did convey a flying scrap of reckless wonder from the beautiful heart of a daughter to the tattered heart of a lousy dad.

There are people I thought, not for the first time, there are people. And the beauty of it was you never knew who they would be. Old Friends, perfect strangers, even your own child, all might catch you in the wink of an eye, call your name like a train whistle in the night and guide you like an angel sitting on your shoulder. There are people I thought, and one of them was sitting in my hospital room working a cross word puzzle.

Time drifted by as it tends to do in hospitals, airports, train stations, whore houses, and slaughter houses. It drifted by like a hobo in the night, so slowly, so swiftly, so silently, that you almost forgot it was there: little minutes, little moments, little pieces of our lives we can never recapture, maybe not ever make right, but little pieces of our lives that no one is ever quite sure of what to do with. The present blends with the past and the faraway becomes suddenly very close to the heart and the lost and distant are suddenly near and dear and the pearly shells on the childhood beach are the bright, dead leaves in some old forgotten mans front yard.

When I came to again I wasn't sure if moments had passed or years. A Nurse was checking the IV fluids dripping into my arm. For the first time in what seemed ages my mind was clear and lucid. I knew who I was, where I was, and then it became the near blurry past and I lost clarity and watched it all disappear like a lover on a train. Now my room was filled with the forms of people I had known and loved in my life. Some I knew to be still alive, and some I knew to have long ago departed this busy station of mortal sadness.

"What are all these people doing in my room?" I asked

They are here because they loved you." answered someone.

"Oh," I said as I closed my eyes.

This is when I learned a great lesson of life and death. When you close your eyes the living disappear but the dead keep on living. So I traded all the ghosts of my past, all those dead and gone that I had loved and lost in the past, for my two daughters and a brother. It was a good trade, maybe not good enough to win the pennant, but it was a good trade non the less.

Unfortunately it looked like no one was going to punch my ticket to the Grateful Dead concert. My number wasn't up yet so I had to go on living whether I wanted to or not.

Reflecting back on the moment I don't think I really wanted to die. I just needed to get away from myself for a while. I mean I wouldn't have minded dying, and I will die someday, but I don't think my two kids know how much I really love them and frankly I didn't think I should go out with my last relationship being with a lesbian dance class instructor.

Is that a square light in the middle of darkness I see?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another Place Another Time

1987

She was standing outside a little bakery on West 6th Street in the San Jacinto area on Business Route 66, she held two tiny dogs on leashes. She had a spectacularly beautiful American face, upon the planes of which intelligence and innocence fought a pitched battle that looked like it might last a lifetime. She had rich-girl hair- long-straight, blond and thick. She had a peach colored bow in her hair that matched her peach colored dress. Each of the dogs had a bow as well.

As a light rain glinted through the sunlight, the girl in the peach colored dress gave the effect of a vision-impossibly fragile, ephemeral, childlike, so beautiful you could see right through her to a better world. It was not surprising, I reflected, that she appeared so childlike. She had to be all of six years old.

"Are you a real cowboy?" she asked, pausing perfectly to adjust the bow in her perfect hair. "Or are you just dressed up like one?"

Leave it to a kid to ask all the hard questions, leave it to a kid to make you momentarily wonder if all your life you lived a lie. Ok, so maybe she was seven.

"Of course I'm a real cowboy," I said struggling for a measure of masculine indignancy, "Haven't you ever seen a real cowboy before?"

"Not like you in public," she said. The kid had a point there. I hadn't got caught up in the Urban Cowboy craze. She also had a smart ass edge to her that was starting to get under my collar. She was going to give some poor stiff a hard time one of these days.

"We went to a Dude Ranch in Arizona when I was four," she continued. "They had cowboys there, but they didn't look like you."

"You can't always tell a real cowboy just by looking at him," I said. It was too late to tell her I was a male model on my way to shoot a cowboy commercial for Ralph Lauren. Besides I wasn't.

"You mean real cowboys are a lot like fairies?" She said with that sudden gasp of truth that only childhood engenders.

"How old did you say you were?" I asked looking vaguely around for her mother.

"I didn't say," she said, "but I'll be six on August 14th, and if you are wondering where my mother is, she is the well dressed lady in that store who is watching you very carefully right now. Do real cowboys carry guns?"


"Of course not, we are always contented that if anyone wants to kill us they have to bring their own guns. Whats your name?"

"Megan'" she said kneeling down to introduce the dogs, "Molly, Holly, I want you to meet a real cowboy."

The dogs who were about half as high as my boots seemed midly interested. I hunkered down at a safe distance so as to not further agitate the well-dressed mother and made a clumsy adult attempt to relate to the nervous rodent - sized creatures. "They are cute little boogers," I said "And so are you."

One of the dogs bows came undone and in less time than it took to light a cigarette, she bent down with both leashes in hand and tied the bow. It was an amazing thing to watch, tying a bow while holding two dogs on leashes. The kid, at age six, knew exactly what she was doing, which was a hell of a lot more than I could say for myself. There are, of course many things the kid didn't know or understand yet, I am sure. She probably couldn't tell you why we fought in Vietnam and I doubted very much that she knew that Turkish people once brushed their teeth in urine. These are the kinds of things you pick up as you go along.

"Lets go dear," said the well dressed woman, giving me the wintrist of smiles. As the little girl, her mother, and the two dogs rounded the corner on their way out of sight, she tossed her rich-girl hair in a very adult affectation, then gave me a friendly good bye wave like the child she was. When I see something like that I always wonder if the kid isn't growing up too fast. Of course I've often thought the same thing about myself. I tilted my cowboy hat to her, "To the future."

"The future is merely a necklace of nows"

Dennis McKenna

2008

I woke up on a cold floor with a hell of a headache, surrounded by mounds of chalky white dust and large white chunks of the same. It looked like a Peruvian Marching Powder train had tipped over and trapped me underneath it. At first it didn't seem like a bad way to go, but I tasted the powder and it didn't seem to give me a buzz, it tasted more like sheet rock. The next thing I knew two little dogs began ice-picking my brain with loud barking. Somewhere between the two dogs stood a tall, beautiful, blond girl in her early 20's who looked vaguely familiar. The afternoon sunlight was streaming through her hair.

"Where the hell am I?" I said.

"You are lying on your kitchen floor, shit for brains," she said. "Some dancing lesbians in the class upstairs must have knocked some sheet rock loose and it fell on your head."

I felt as if I had been sleeping twenty years, I felt groggy, the dogs didn't help.

"Anna, Hanna," she said in a stern yet some how sweet voice, "be quiet darlings, you are disturbing the old man Wes. When you said you were on your way to take me to dinner and then didn't show I became concerned and come over to your place to check on you. Your phone was off the hook and I found you on the floor covered in this mess. Don't you have a maid?"

"Well Shannon said she would stop by, but the game got rained out." I was coming around, the gorgeous creature was standing in front of me holding two dogs, she was dressed in very tall heels and a very short red dress that looked very good from where I sat.

"How long have I been out of it?" I asked.

"Oh, I'd say about sixty years, but out on the floor about two hours."

"Incredible." I spoke.

"I can think of a few other things to call it," she said, "One of them is pathetic."

"I was headed out the door and something happened on the way."

"Something happened to you alright, some dancing lesbians knocked ceiling plaster on your head. By the way your liquor cabinet is empty much like your head. Do you want a drink?"

I nodded and as I watched Megan and the two dogs head for the door, I saw another young girl wave to me from the corner of my eye.

"Goodbye, Megan, I said. 'goodbye Holly, Molly."

Megan stopped in her tracks. For the first time since I had known her I had her flustered. How could you know about them? I don't remember ever mentioning my first two pets to you." she asked, suddenly rather shakey.

I just sat there in the dust. Smiling up at her, smiling up at the ruined ceiling. smiling up at the crazy screwed up world.

I said as gently as possible. "Maybe you have forgotten."

Monday, March 9, 2009

The best people you will ever meet often come to you like stray dogs, moving with graceful evanescence through you life, then leaving you forever with empty spaces that only your dreams can fill. I saw my childhood best friend, and Miss Amarillo 1969, several more times during the past forty years, they moved on the streets and alleyways of the world, leaving me with no choice but to relegate them to the blameless flickering of a computer screen like a journal still in progress, never quite being completed, thus never ending.

The last time I saw Miss Amarillo 1969 she waved goodbye to me from the departure gate of a bus station as I left to return to hell. She hugged me as I left the platform. I will never forget that beautiful golden haired girl with the peach colored dress. I rejoined my friend Bill; he also hugged me as I arrived back at LZ Betty. He looked pale and wan and a bit shaky but he still had that infectious, world-beating smile. This time, however, the smile did not seem quite able to reach up to his eyes.

He gave me an old Timex watch of his, passing on a trinket of his existence. That evening a mortar killed him.

I guess you would expect a want to be author to have an eye for detail, but sometimes tears conceal the keyboard so much that one cannot continue to chronicle certain details. Minutes later after the explosions and sounds of small arms fire the area around me seemed deserted. The whole world seemed deserted. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with a cold and unforgiving rage that came from somewhere deeper in my dark and deserted soul than I ever cared to know about. The sweltering heat around me turned cold and unforgiving also. Time had become a one-way street and it was a one-way life and you had to pull the trigger and kill someone, you either lived or died on this one-way street. There was nothing between me and the pajama clad being yards away. I aimed the gun and watched as the M-16 did what it was designed to do.

Several days later on a tarmac, I leaned over a black body bag and cried. "You were alright as friends go." I spoke.

The night before I left, the night before I was to ship out after a months leave. Miss Amarillo 1969 had shown up with a small suitcase. Of course her mother and father would not have approved of this evening but they no doubt knew how much I loved her and no doubt how much she loved me. I saw the sparkle in her eyes, dimmed recently by tears, during which time I promised I would return. It was a moment, it passed, and I let it. It was like that and I am not sure I can recapture that moment with words. I couldn't help a few months later thinking that she had slipped through the fingers of my life, consigned for better or for worse, to the flickering of a computer screen. And maybe that isn't so bad I thought, a few people you don't know might stop and read what you write, and they may or may not pass judgment. And that doesn't matter so much because at least they can't see the tears on your keyboard.

I guess the only things you really keep are the things you let slip through your fingers. Or something like that.

She lit two candles that night. The candlelight touched her skin like fireflies, like roses, like little fingers of light and lightness through which would slip a memory I would surely keep.

She slept in my arms that night, we shared love, we shared something, and we shared something I am not sure I have ever known since. As you know, Miss Amarillo 1969 was killed when a truck ran a red lightand killed her as she was returning to Amarillo.

Almost forty years have passed since that night And a lot of things have happened in the parallel world of Wes and TCBNTX. In less time than it took me to write this journal entry the candle of Miss Amarillo 1969 burned out.

Oh and by the way, I have forgot to tell you in the many times I have written about my friend Bill or Miss Amarillo 1969. About a month after I left, Miss Amarillo 1969 was runner up in the Miss Texas Pageant in Austin. She had written me a letter after that event. I kept it after these many years. Here I'll read it to you.

Dear Wes,

I am still in Austin, I am afraid to go back home. But I have made the decision because I won't be able to keep the secret very long. My heart is happy. I am at peace.

Love,

Teresa

P.S. By the way. You will be a father by the time you get home.