Tuesday, August 5, 2008


CHAPTER 1 Humans are very strange creatures. Besides all the obvious things that might pass through one’s mind upon hearing that statement, there is the whimsical fact that we spend a good deal of time somewhere other than Now. We collect albums of photographs, deliciously selective, that remind us of The Before Time, often lamented as much better than it really was. Some are bookmarked with love letters that now depict deep, heartfelt resonance, rather than the stupid drunken lechery that actually spawned them. Some display tattered pictures of people who, in actuality, hardly remember us, yet we grow more fond of them as their coveted youthfulness becomes more & more noticeable, compared to our progressive state of decay. Then there are The Lists, and Lists of Lists, Things to Make & Do. They collect in desk drawers, behind old dressers, and work benches and in glove compartments. The must do’s, places to go and things to see that make the day to day grayness of our tiny lives palatable. Brilliant plans thwarted by time, or simply dead on the vine, as life & living carry us like a rip tide, far, far away from the Isle of Genius where these forgotten epiphanies are born, a crowning achievement, an Idol of Our Future Days, plans that remain plans, never quite becoming the fruit of our labors. There is, from time to time, between waking and sleeping, a place where life seems to stretch out. The pin-point existence of Now slips it’s borders and drifts, sometimes backwards, like clouds carrying images of memories savored, lovers lost, should haves and moments of glory; sometimes forward, like light, strobe flickering over potential and possibility, dreams and desires, spinning like the spokes of a wheel, heading off in to the future from the hub of today. This singularly human condition changes by degrees from one moment to the next, person to person, but for me, it comes most often with the demon of insomnia, the siren call of unfinished living, fueling itself with the longings of the past, those things that remain to haunt me and drive me relentlessly, sleeplessly, towards those desires that lay only and forever, just ahead. On this particular night, as my minds eye relived my own personal life time carousel of events and bred an infinite harem of possibilities, sleep was a distant friend and my world danced in front of me, past the cluttered dashboard, out there in the distance where the fading headlights discovered tarmac at ninety miles an hour. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. As my mind yanked itself out of the Great Cosmos, I’m sure that somewhere was heard an audible pop, like the sound of a foot being pulled suddenly from it’s boot, still buried deep in the thick delta mud. I focused for a moment on the sway of the road ahead. It swept down and across, up and over, caressing the Montana Hills, looking like a path against these massive swells, a landscape that seemed to call to giants to bring their golf game and stroll over foothills that stood a mile in the air. Even at ninety miles an hour, I was half a night away from Helena and there were no head lights in sight, in the rear view mirror, or cascading down the hillsides ahead. I reset my inner auto pilot and allowed my thoughts to wander once again, trying to recapture how this had all begun. It was like a sensory riot. In fact, it wasn’t like one at all. It was a sensory riot. Every inch of my skin seemed alive, bristling, vibrating in place, hot to the touch. Our bodies seemed to throb with the pulse of the music pounding out in the club. Bound together by hallucinogens, driven by cocaine, we clutched at each other in the dark bathroom stall, completely electric, as I pushed in to her, ever deeper and faster, against the wall over the toilet tank. I could smell a combination of piss, disinfectant, perfume and sweat as I dragged my mouth across her neck in the close air. Her fingers dug in to my back and she pulled harder to squeeze herself against me. The flickering light above us flashed on her silver hoop earrings, rocking back and forth in her shiny, dark hair, as she moved. I wondered if she would fall backwards, right through the wall. Things were rising to fever pitch, and I kissed her hard on the neck. She bit the bottom of my ear lobe and pulled until it hurt, then let go and stage whispered loud enough to be heard over the din, “Forever and ever?” “Forever and ever”, I answered, lost in the throb, the thrusting, the oblivion, some how fascinated by the scrawling words in the peeling paint behind her head. As our climax arose, I stared at those words… “Let’s just hope a robot doesn’t go crazy and kill everybody.” The Truth had found us. We were truly blessed. Then everything seemed to explode. Jude moved in to my flat off Second Avenue, a short hop from the corner bar at 9th Street, on the edge of Alphabet City, where she ‘slung drinks’, as she put it, several nights a week. And it was perfect. At first. It always is… Drinking, sex, drugging, sex, clubbing, music and more sex. We rolled through the days, and more often, the nights, on a cloud of new romance, taking our little road show to the clubs and live venues, wheeling and dealing, music bookings and promotions, and anything else that paid for the rent, the bills, the habits. It was a glorious time. Like Ancient Rome was a glorious time. We fed our appetites with total abandon, and at the expense of any reputations or friendships that got in the way or took up too much time. Like many new lovers, we found ourselves a cloak of invincibility and wrapped ourselves, naked, inside. Unlike other new lovers, however, we refused to get past this point, and wallowed in a decadence unsurpassed, even in our bohemian world. We fed our desires to bursting. I can’t remember the exact day that I realized her voice no longer sounded sexy. This morning, it sounded more like a smoke alarm to me. And I realized I hadn’t listened to what she was actually saying in some time. I had to make myself focus on her words, for some reason. They just kind of drifted out of my field of vision, for some reason I didn’t intend or understand. I’ve always had trouble concentrating. She was, however, still a vision to me. Her dark, thick, almost black hair, and the way it swept around her face when she moved. And she moved with cat like grace to begin with. Especially when she knew I was watching. Her eyes were that deep emerald green, and the way they caught fire sometimes was like a tiny piece of a star hidden in them, only coming out when it burned for something. She stood over me now, like a fantastic sculpture, her arms sticking out to the sides as she hung her hands to those lovely hips. She leaned over me slowly, saying my name, again and again. I could smell her skin getting closer, like lavender. She began to shake me. “D! Wake up!” The alarm was going off, loud and clear. She always called me by my first initial. This often raised an eyebrow among strangers, or on the street, the single letter ‘D’ sounding like a name better suited for a dog or a child, rather than this tattooed, ear-ringed, long haired man in black. “D!” “I’m right here”, I mumbled into the couch. She said something that sounded like she was singing ‘Oh, Susanna’, but with such a sad monotone, the fantastic sculpture over me now seemed like the Bringer of Doom. “What? Say that again, Jude. I didn’t catch it.” “I said I’m going to Montana.” I sat up and rubbed at my eyes. It’s sort of amazing how these things always seem to happen during one’s worst hangovers. I’d just woken up and could tell this was going to be a doozie. “Montana? You’re going to Montana?” “Yes. That’s what I said.” “I know, I heard you. The second time, anyway. I thought you were gonna sing that banjo song, at first…. Anyway, I was using my question voice to ask the reason.” Silence. Suddenly, I could tell this was going to be a very serious chat. Any attempt at humor or light heartedness would be quickly sucked in to the gloom. I am acutely aware that I seem to be a wise ass, even when I’m serious and attentive. Trust me. I do. I couldn’t see today’s particular combination of influences going anywhere but down the chute, but I soldiered on. “Sorry, Jude. I’m sorry. Really. I’m hung over as hell and I meant come back here last night to get you, and you know I feel terrible about it. I just need a minute to focus, ‘kay?” I started to get up and she pushed me back in to the couch. The couch was one of our ‘favorite’ places and this push was very familiar, but somehow, today, I knew that stuff was miles away. “Look, D, I’m going to Montana and I’m leaving today. I started packing last night when you didn’t show up, but that was just a mad packing. I usually put it all away the next day. But this is real. Something has to change. I’m going.” “What the fuck are you going to do in Montana?” “I’m going to stay with the Indians. Native Americans are what they’re called. The Blackfoot.” I have to admit it, I just stared at her. This seemed a bit out of the norm for excursions lovers take at difficult times, and she was totally serious, I could see that. As much as I could see anything, that is. I began to realize that a great deal had gone in to the building up of this moment and event. I had been not listening for too long. I felt horrible. Besides being wretchedly hung over and feeling guilty as hell, I realized I’d left this beautiful woman sitting waiting for me, as if to punctuate the extended period of letting her drift out of my thoughts, my attentions, by doing so. I didn’t know what to say. I’d been a classic asshole, lately. So, of course, I started to criticize her plan. “So you’re just going to take a bus to Montana and find some Native American Blackfoot Indians? Does the bus stop at reservations or something? I mean, come on, how do you plan to do this? Seriously. I’d like to know. I really would.” Now she was staring at me. Her look wasn’t angry or preachy or sad like the ‘I’m gonna miss this asshole’ look I knew so well, or anything like that. She looked this way when someone told her they could out do her at something. I wished she’d say something. Or at least blink. “Listen”, she said, more softly this time, and sat down next to me. She took my hand. For some reason I was liking her voice again. A little husky, but smooth, like bitter chocolate. “It doesn’t matter, but I’ve been looking at stuff about this on line for a while. Not planning to leave, just seeing what’s out there. This is a rut, baby. The same shit over and over again. We’ve lost something that connects us to everything else, and we’re starting to lose what connects us to each other. I need something more than this. There’s a ranch outside Helena where I can stay and work. There are no cattle or anything, it’s like an artists’ retreat, and people work and stay a while, if they get invited.” She looked down, and I was grateful. Her eyes made it hard to concentrate again. “I got invited.” She said. “Just a few weeks ago. I didn’t really give it much thought at first, but lately…” she looked right at me now and said everything with a single tear. “And then last night when you didn’t come back…” I could almost hear myself ripping, down inside my chest. A burning, tearing feeling, like something was being torn loose, rising up into my cheeks, the top of my head. I wondered if I would be sick. Great. “I don’t want to lose you, Jude.” I spoke fast, too fast, but softly. Still, I’m sure my voice was steeped in desperation. “Maybe we can try something different here, another apartment, different scene. I don’t want to be without you. Please, baby, don’t go.” Apparently, I was giving myself away this time. “I have to. It’s what I need to do, I can feel it.” She reached out and put her finger tips over my mouth as I started to argue. Then the surprise came. “Come with me,” She said. Those crazy green eyes did that sparkle thing, like chips of the sun, flashing just for me, pools of deep green pulling me under. She leaned over and kissed me softly, then a little harder. She drew back and looked directly in to my eyes. “You said forever and ever, so….” No matter how much I would fight it over the next few hours, I was going to Montana. “Forever and ever,” I replied. I staked her to a train ticket to Bozeman and she stayed another two days. -

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