'Helped Heather, J__’s third daughter, with the photography of the wedding.
Since the wedding party is late she tells me the wedding story. “Well, you know,” she says, then whispers: “He was a mama’s boy … ”
My best picture is of the little girl crying she is so relieved to officially have a dad.
A week later the groom shoots himself in the head in a patch of woods not far from his home.
During the mourning I give the mother a framed photograph of the painting in the wedding chapel.
“Thing is,“ J__ says. “The whole time … There was something wrong with that boy.”
Decisively abandoned by God these are the days of the reckoning. Seems like they thought I was permanently tamed because I was in human form. They forgot I could go wild, that I am I am, like an unbroken stallion. I was masculine energy long before I was a human male. Maybe it is where the animal acknowledges it’s own holiness as a live being, incidentally meeting his or her soul, that’s when human becomes human; when the two seemingly contradicting halves, the physical and invisible, the dying and eternal, the past and future, stop mistaking themselves as such and become: present. Meanwhile, men are already, proof, in the flesh, as she steps through the jungle, away from her camp of women, and comes upon the miracle of him in the wild. She doesn’t know a priest sees the whole world as storytellers: the closest humans still unable to confess without lying. The priest knows the world is stark-raving-ly physical, all existing and balanced in one solitary moment.
“You look … clean,” the girl at the door says with an involuntary chuckle.
There are three apartments: I am in the middle. The one to my left is her, the one to my right is the elderly brown-hued woman who raised the man who owns Rissette Realty.
Lacking views of acres of fields and forest, Wilton is no God's Country, but it has restaurants, a movie theater, and with "a church on every block," Wilton's reputation across Carolina's lowlands remains accurate.
The girl checks on the elderly woman regularly, and now the older woman has sent her with a piece of pie and a request to rummage through my tool cabinet.
“My eyes are bloodshot,” I tell her.
I slow down whenever I pass the laundry mat I think Mom works at. I glance to see if I can recognize her car.
'Hadn’t realized I was doing that.
It was my birthday yesterday. Great Grandpa showed up out of nowhere. He died in an accident while working on the railroad.
'Understood who he was and didn‘t feel any need to question it. He wished me happy birthday. I sat on the couch, him in the recliner. We watched the sitcoms “30Rock” and “That 70's Show”. It felt like he was trying to tell me I was original and perfect, but I wouldn’t listen.
“Will I even be there for his first subpena?” Jack Donaghey worries concerning his expected son and his already mature age. “Will we ever experience the father son bonding of realizing you're both at the same masked orgy at a castle?”
“I am not here to grill you about your life Eric,” says the teenage Eric Foreman's mother, who has him alone and in public. “But you know, young adults do have a responsibility.”
“Mom!” Eric says, flustered.
“Please. Honey, you may not realize it right now, but I am actually doing you a giant favor by making you spend time with me … Boys who reject their mother grow up to have huge problems. You will hate yourself. And every relationship you have with a woman will just be a mess. So, if you don't spend time with me now, you may never have sex. I'm teasing! A little.”
'Called my unit out of the blue
They seemed relieved they hadn’t had to find me.
Great Grandpa showed up again. It was late at night and I’d finished showering. I rubbed cream on my skin and dressed. Since I live alone no doors were closed. I moved back and forth from the bathroom to the bedroom, then to the kitchen in the dimly lit apartment.
Tonight, Great Grandpa came by for the third time.
He gigged me on not being able to read his cards clearly because I was so competitive I couldn’t read another male’s cards without going blind.
He tells me Laze only went to America to abandon his wife and children. Those abandoned, Abandon,” the cards say.
On the way to work, J__ and I eat breakfast at a country diner. He mentions something he’d seen on television about religion. He perceives the universe through the Christian structure so I keep my response simple.
“I stay focused on the fact that everything is holy, every moment, every thing, every person.”
“So you’re a Buddhist,” J__ says casually.
At work J__ asks me if I want to vote. He’s my only supervisor so I stop what I am doing. “Sure.”
He advises me how to vote, since I‘ve been away so long. I was good natured but felt surprised when he left me no choice afterward but to tell him I had voted exactly his way.
I’m aware I’m one of the few, most important voters in the human race.
That afternoon I get up to return my tray and she happens to get up also, stepping up to the same trash can. I say excuse me as I step past her, only afterward realizing that the woman has run into me on purpose. I thought I had been musing about the work I had to do as I ate, not realizing my eyes were glancing at legs.
After getting back to the buildings I see that the industrial kitchen is being used by several people, one of which is the teenage daughter of a burly man. The too-young girl leans against the kitchen door frame and watches me as I work. Her eyes focus on my chest, the arms mopping the wooden basketball floor in wide sweeping motions.
It feels dishonest, allowing J__ a definition of me that’s so far from the truth. What do I know ... he’s older than me.
'Read the cards in the morning, work, and run errands, then drink as I work in the kitchen, cutting vegetables and portioning meat for the freezer.
See how the cast-iron pan is not heavy, I catch myself think, standing in the kitchen. I can flip it in the air and catch it by its handle. See how you feel no pain, no heaviness .. That’s magic.
Woke from a long night of dreams. Something like ... Humans were plants before they were animals. I convert dioxide and water and light and grow. I stretch out from my root with each fiber of my being.
Sitting on the edge of the tub I remember my aura as my soul – sheer power holding this body upright, moving its limbs. I stretch out my arm and concentrate, trying to close the bathroom door with my true arm instead of my flesh.
'Heard my cell phone ring, then looked for it around the apartment, then realize it is in the Jeep outside. I stepped outside to the Jeep, the cold night wind cutting into me.
J__ had just sent me a text.
“I feel like you have a trauma thing going on,” she says with a laugh from her apartment’s front stoop.
I pull on the cigarette. “Power is not power that is being handed to you. Power is understood.”
“They go out and snatch the soldier,” the young soldier says, “Take him somewhere and beat him, in order to get him back right again. That’s what they should have done with Gadly. Can you imagine? I heard the mortars did it to a guy on their team last month.”
“Sounds terrible,” the older soldier says. “Doesn’t seem right.”
“But can you imagine being on that team?”
Lately I haven’t wanted to write yet can’t shake the demand. Life fights back by not letting me sleep. I arrive home from drill and take forty-eight pills.
'Look up to see another gas station flooded with light. The attendant looks at me blankly and calls me a cab. The driver asks me what happened as I sit in the back trying to keep my eyes open. The morning breaks pink against the horizon. I can make out the silhouette of the driver’s head and head rest.
He doesn’t understand what I’m saying. He only understands that my clothes are torn and I’m covered in blood.
I force my chin up. “I had this demon .. “ I hear my voice say, “Beat out of me .. “
Lying on blood-stained tile, I wake from sleeping. I feel fresh air in the apartment and get up from the kitchen to step into the bedroom where a window is broken because I had no keys.
I step into the bathroom. I have a black eye, the skin swollen around it, my right rib cage is pained and seems swollen but there is no bruising on the skin. I have deep cuts, one in my eyebrow near the busted eye, another just below the eye, and another on my stomach, starting at the lower abdominal beside the naval and pointing to the next set.
Mrs. Marrissa drives me to the buildings to pick up the Jeep; my keys are on the ground. She drives me to the emergency room. The attendants seem to think I’ve been hit by a car; they ask me my story. I lean on my scoundrel because I can think of nothing true to say.
“It's a racket,” Mrs. Marrissa is saying.
The few people who know me now seem to think my injuries have something to do with the military, some incident that lands somewhere between a blanket party and an initiation.
'Started the story in order to get by.
Bull, a cop, is J__'s son in law. He unofficially investigated along with a blood splatter expert working off the clock. “He said there had to have been a second person in the gymnasium of the church with you,” J__ says. “The blood splatters are all yours, but the locations of the blood imply a brawl with another man.”
“The doors were locked,” I reply. “I checked them all before stepping inside and turning the lights on.”
Down the street at two abandoned buildings in God’s Country I see that there are bones buried under a certain spot. I dig them up with a shovel. I see that they are prehistoric and carefully transport them to my room in the House, where there is a home-made lab. The job takes hours of hard work.
I date the bones and use a natural knowledge to manipulate clay and dyes and recreate their muscles and skin according to what the bones tell me. I hide the models and the bones and the more obvious components of the lab from Mom, Grace, and Rose, and use bad dialect when dealing with them. One component is a chamber in which I place the bones; it speeds up the growth and evolution processes. The bones grow into two young men, each at the age when they died. One is in his upper thirties, the other is my age, with piercing blue eyes.
On a train, the younger guy sits with me while the older one sits across the aisle. It is getting dark, we are nearing New York. Thoughts enter my head intermittently: Did I finish the week’s work on the buildings and the church ...
I explain to the men that I am a soul already and the wordless holy takes care of me. When I need money I have money in my accounts. When I don’t need money I do not have access to funds. There is no point in checking my balances online -- the exact moment of need decides it, like when I swiped the card to pay for the train tickets: the card worked.
I wonder about how the two men might freak being alive again so far into the future. They act trusting. There is an underlying sense that I am related to them, as if they know me already.
I ask the older man questions. Many don’t make sense to him because I have too many erroneous assumptions implied in each question. Finally he relents and tells me he is from Mehshekah.
On my laptop I show the men pictures of the planet taken from space. I try to ease what I expect to be their dismay by explaining that when they lived before the planet was green and blue and lush.
As the train enters New York and the men look out the windows at the city I explain that the earth and sky’s powers are being used more and more to sustain us, that the metals and oil reserves are now used casually, that there are invisible streams of data flowing by and through us all the time, interacting with computers and cell phones and machinery.
My check card works throughout the city. The bags I carry seem to get heavier and my legs feel more lead-like. I explain to the men that we cannot get separated because we are not modern and have none of the usual ways of keeping up with each other. “If we lose each other, it might be forever,” I say as I board them in a hotel near Penn station. As I make my way through the busy streets to the soldier’s hostel on Lexington I find the heavy-lead-feeling familiar. I close my eyes and almost forget to open them again.
When I arrive to the hostel, Royal is my roommate. Royal seems to need no explanation for the last year of my life. He hides me behind the door when his girlfriend knocks to ask him a question.
I sit on my cot as Royal gets a good look at me. I want to stay but the tiredness becomes heavier until I succumb and close my eyes to go to sleep. I wake in the apartment to morning light warming skin.
In a rural area, the small town takes up the space of a football field. Store fronts and official-looking buildings are along the edge and facing each other. In one of those buildings the cast of Glee is inside doing crack. I am among them.
It is as if the world is bending and straightening itself before my eyes, like each tree and post and obstacle is bending, twisting, then going back to its true form, saying this is who I would’ve been, this is who I am right now. Jazz plays from the speakers as I shower, make the bed, start breakfast. Tangerine plays by Jimmy Dorsey, Loveless Love by Duke Ellington, Little Jazz by Artie Shaw. When I feel beloved, I physically feel the word Son, as if the term was soulful instead of a fact concerning this avatar’s blood. I feel the presence of the Masculine Sky and the Feminine Earth; I know I am Son, eternal, same as I sensed it as a boy. I can feel my correct disposition in that place where Sky and Earth come together, full of gravity and flight.
“They’re trying to be people they’re never going to be,” J__ is saying as we eat tenderloin and hoop cheese biscuits at a local restaurant.
“They’re too old for that,” he continues. “Money isn’t going to make the difference, you either are that or you aren’t, regardless of what you wanted or hoped to be.”
Memory is physical, and the Earth holds each joy and pain; she doesn’t complain for the sweetness of being physically alive. The Sky, knowing nothing of death, wraps Her up, his skin against hers, reminds her of hope, reminds her of what life feels like.
In a large townhouse I live with three brothers. One is my age, another older with long blonde hair, and the oldest about eighteen with short blonde hair.
Downstairs, gathering food for me and the brother-my-age, I collect meat-stuffed pastries from a plate and a can of tomato sauce. The brothers’ father laughs. “There’s no way that’s passing for a meal,” he says. He isn’t like Ray; he’s joking more than anything.
The brother-my-age navigates me through Sunday morning services. I understand our parents are somewhere in the crowd; I only catch a glimpse of my father’s wife. The brother stresses that the choir robes we are wearing are ancient and I have to be careful; the instrument is a wooden item shaped like an elaborate spatula with sand inside.
On a rooftop of what seems like a floating cathedral, our section of pews faces a sea of other pews containing choir members. “Our instruments make a low, gravely sound,” the brother explains over the sounds of sung notes signifying the physical ground’s expression. Auto voices raise the sound up farther, the low gravely sounds of our instruments and the others wielding them begin a rising base. The choir of females facing us on the rooftop make the sound heavenly and exhale the expression into the clouds.
In the church gymnasium, the brother-my-age accompanies me. Games are being played along with some sort of rehearsal on stage. I am reactive to the girls, their existence regulating my behavior. Same as I inhale because there is a such thing as air, I act a boy because there is a such thing as a girl.
Aunt Karen steps in with a sweet smile and loud, echoing steps. She kindly jokes to me about how she now owns land that runs adjacent to the cathedral, so she never hears the end of requests to use her land for church events.
I secretly have a group of friends. While the rest of the world is unknowing and civilian, our lives are consumed by certain rules of how to get to outer space and what to do once we get there. At only certain times does the earth allow us up, and only as long as we never touch the moon. Otherworldly beings keep trying to get to Earth, but keep landing on the moon and naturally dying.
Each of my old friends have a special ability, including me. Abilities here are assumed instead of articulated. There is drama within the ranks. While a few members of the group are essential, others aren’t. Also there is the routine drama of humans knowing each other well, the small controversies of how we did what we did, what on earth the earth was thinking, intending, needing.
One reckless friend landed on the moon anyway. Through controversy we learn that one of us is allowed to land on the moon at a time, once every so many days. Feeling confident, taking advantage of the new air of changing and dangerous times, the reckless friend steps up to me. He pulls me aside into a dark corridor and I feel the coolness of his breath as his fingers around my arm tighten. He whispers into my ear the location of a certain friend. She is called the middle one because the earth bore her in-the-know, yet endowed her with no special abilities.
Shifted to her house, a white stucco bright with sunlight, plants and open windows. She silently fixes me tea in her kitchen.
Here, in her kitchen, where the sounds of birds chirping drift inside with the cool breeze, she has already learned to be genuine always. She compensates for nothing, has no use for secrets but keeps them anyway out of respect for others. She refuses any insecurity when answering a challenge. She moves in this way; she puts sugar in her tea cup this way, she inhales and exhales. She sits down across from me and looks in my eyes. Her eyes are so attractive to me it’s her I see, her seeing me, bringing me back to reality.
Is this the wake world or the sleep world...
You’re receiving a class from an elephant.
Yeah, but he’s teaching me about the truth of time. He’s silently teaching the Beat that bonds the universe, the rest are inside. I almost felt it. I almost understood.
If I decide this is a dream I might wake up. The walls of this bathroom are real. My fingertips inspect their concrete blocks. I can’t remember how I got here.
Maybe in real life this isn’t a sink, maybe what I’m drinking isn’t water.
This time the bottle fills with red liquid; I pour it out, then try again; the spout fills the bottle with clear water.
The brown-hued girl steps into the restroom, letting me know the class is starting up again.
When I step back out onto what was a basketball court, I see that it is now an Olympic-sized pool with lanes marked.
Oprah and Gail step in from the office wing and sit down as if they were supervising the class.
The elephant looks at me.
“I’m on the lam,” I say to J__, from the passenger seat of his truck, after I agree to hide his grandkid’s Christmas gift at my apartment.
“On the lam, huh?”
I look out my window, unsure of myself. Before, nonfiction had been priority, the writings only there to inevitably disappoint the reader. “If I don’t write properly, she tries to kill me.”
Now there is live dust in my life, whole human beings expecting me to be in the same moment as them, not living from that place of novels or my own written translations. Christmas Eve was difficult, awkward, nerve-racking, last night, as I gave gifts and received them from J__ and Mrs J__’s family.
It’s Christmas Day and I’m expected at their house soon. I know when I have clarity because I suddenly have all my memories stemming from my bones and feel no need to write them. I wonder if having clarity and having God are the same thing.
“Yeah … hey, man, let me use your cell phone, man,“ the guy with the braids says to Kid. “Man, phone company fucked mine up. I gotta go by there today to get a replacement.”
I look out the driver's backseat window of Kid's car. On weed I see a girl and stare, amazed by her and what I could do with that. I'm glad for my priesthood. Those who see from the point of view of body fluids are blind.
For a third time someone said something about their cell phone not working. I watch as again Kid’s cell phone is passed.
Kid is no Willahford, Royal or Mace. To everyone else I know, Kid is a punk. He’s just angry. There was a scandal concerning him and his coach’s son, another player on the Wilton team. Wilton got over it before he did. “When you sell to an undercover cop, the government makes you pay back the money,” he says. “Like, it's actually a part of your court costs – the money the cop used to by the weed.”
“So why would it take more -- then -- if I haven’t used …” I ask the guy with the braids.
“It’s cause you’re so big, man,” he answers. “It’ll take more for you.”
After dropping the two guys off at their apartment, Kid turns the car around and turns back up toward Hines.
“As we were all talking,” he says. “They were typing numbers into my cell phone.”
“Do you have Asian in you?” he asks me back at my apartment.
“What … yeah.“
“When you smoke your face goes straight there.”
“I've never seen this before,” the woman in charge of the High School Diploma and GED program says as she looks over my test scores. I remember her from when I was eighteen. She turned me away from the program, tired of homeschoolers abusing it. “Your tests have come back from Colorado,” she continues without looking up. “Not only did you score perfect on the English sections but it means you also scored perfect on the essay you wrote on a subject they randomly assigned you during the test.”
“Did I get my GED?” I ask from where I sit across from her, slouched in a chair, pulling out a cigarette from its pack.
“And you're going into Science?” she asks.
From the documentary, “Invisible.” Vicky, a twenty-year old male:
“I have this inner problem that no one can understand. And when I solve it the change will come. I beat out the crisis with heroin. Back in the day, the Indians used it as medicine but they knew how to use it. It is also a fruit of the earth .. I can’t bring my two sides together, I mean [like] a psychopath, two sides, that’s all. The psychopath does not posses harmony. He affects people in a bad way ‘cause he lacks inner peace--”
“This is a sense of guilt, man--” The cameraman interrupts.
“In a funny way he goes against himself.”
(night, at Ms Marrissa’s apartment)
She keeps shifting before me. I don‘t feel like some investigator in her presence. I don’t feel astonished by the look of her, the way body language sounds, instincts saying one thing, the mouth speaking another. It seems familiar, this supposedly new way of life.
“Just knock on the window,” Ms Marrissa says later, when Grace doesn’t answer her door.
“I’m not doing that.”
“’Cause it might scare her ... “ I say, the decision final.
I used to think my ancestry was full of little devils, little bits of evil, I used to feel it .. almost, until I turned the other way and felt into my own bones instead. Now I think my relatives were all just extremely old fashioned, having true memories of how beautiful and horrific the world used to be. Keeping up with them seems impossible, requiring one to have lived since Adam and Eve and remained eternally young-of-heart.
“Her body language didn’t match with the words coming out of her mouth,” I say.
“Maybe, “ says J__.
“No. It would match. A true person would dig deeper into the dust, find the next layer of evidence. They would demand all the soul's entitlements, not just his or her voice.”
“You would not be you,” the psychology professor says, “Think about that. If you had been raised by people other than the ones who raised you, you’d be a different person.”
“Want a piece?” Guy whispers from beside me.
“No, thank you,” I say.
He's no Royal or Mace but everyone likes the one who offers them a stick of gum.
“ … Because marijuana is a hallucinogen,” the psychology teacher says as she writes on the board.
Driving up to the church, an older woman and a young man happen to be walking on the sidewalk adjacent to the church. He waves for some reason.
As I check the doors of the church buildings, I wonder if maybe I know them.
I turn a corner and run into them because they’ve decided to cut across the church parking lot. I nod instead of saying anything.
Just after we pass, he turns his face to her and says, “Silent type.”
“It’s kind of busted right here, but I patched it up,” I say lowly during class.
“But they sell replacements for that,” Guy says, “Cheap.”
“Yeah,“ I say “But then I got to go to the Tobacco Store -- I gotta deal with some Arab …”
He grins, then laughs.
Racial Humor. Royal taught me that.
Later, for a fleeting second, with a movement of his head, that gruff of Guy’s voice as he finishes the sentence with a chuckle, I feel that ancient ease again, as if we were deployed together, except we’re not.
“Now if you turn to page forty-six,” the professor says as he looks over the lab’s array of sinks.
“By the end of this class I’m sure most of you will have figured out how I believe,” the world religions professor says in answer to a question. “That’s kind of how it works. We go over the material but really we exchange information.”
“What’s today’s date … “ I whisper to Guy.
“June second,” he whispers.
He chuckles again.
“What … “ I ask.
“You were already writing it as I said it.”
“You have forty minutes,” the psychology professor says to the class.
“All I know is she has big tits,” Guy says as we clear our tables.
“They don’t point up,” I say absentmindedly.
The room quiets as the teacher closes the classroom door.
Suddenly there is the sound of suppressed laughter. I glance up from my paper to Guy’s blushing face. “They don’t point up,” Guy whispers through some kind of private fit.
“Like, you know how if a story can be told different ways it must true ...” I ask later. “Does the brain do that with information?”
“No,” the psychology teacher says. “It creates instead.”
“So there’s no defense against erroneous information.”
Unless you were a Storyteller.
We are studying Eastern religions.
“Is that idea what the Bible means by contentment…” Aimee asks Mrs. Theresa. “Because the Bible teaches how one should be content with whatever the situation happens to be, whatever your lot in life is … “
I help Richard load another table onto J__’s truck. The truck is parked in the shade of a large tree. The morning sun is hot and moist.
“Born straight,” J__ says in response to Richard’s comment.
The way Richard and J__ talk can be so fluently Southern it can seem casually resentful. After a Civil War, if the Union side wins, that side naturally keeps the other side from strengthening itself as long as the winning side feels is safe. Meanwhile, the music of how it all actually went down sounds fluent and effortless.
(Monday, 20JUN2011, Eve of Summer Solstice)
Mrs. Theresa seems resigned to her fate teaching Wilton Community College’s World Religions class in the staunchly indigenous South.
“You know, like how there can be a family of FIVE people, with every one in misery except the one who must do things HIS WAY,” she says, looking directly at me.
At the time I was completely oblivious, reading the textbook as I listened to the lectures. I only really noticed it later.
After morning class, I step into the apartment wondering why these moments feel like those days when I was up to my neck in tarot cards. It’s like the cards want me to play around with them.