Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Maybe the Devil was Ugly/Crushed like a Bug in the Ground

We were in my bed, ready to go to sleep, and then some kind of wave came over the two of us and we started going at it, doing the kind of things to each other the French hadn't even thought of yet-- then, just as it appears everything was going right everything went wrong.
She changed her mind. Some guys might have gotten pissed off about a girl making such a sudden brakeslam. But not me. Oh, no. When you get right down to it I am a push-over, and to be honest I was surprised things had gotten that far, considering how badly things had been going between us. That is, until last week. We began hanging out again, and things'd kind of fallen back into place.
Now, I'm outside, breathing in this misfit devil fog,watching a bug crawl across my sidewalk, trying in vain to work it's way over the rocks, while a naked girl I'm in love with is in my bed thinking it over.
I thought maybe if I went upstairs and lay next to her for a while, maybe the alcohol would wear off and things would calm down, but to no avail. She wanted her clothes and she wanted to go to sleep, unless I wanted to drive her home now. It was surreal. My stomach had completely dropped, and I felt as if I had swallowed a 9-volt battery. What the hell was wrong? What the hell had I done? Perhaps when we woke up, it would make some sense.
The next thing I knew she had rolled back into me on the bed. I looked at the clock: 5:01 a.m. I put my arm around her and thought maybe everything would be alright. But the second I my arm touched her she pushed herself over to the other side of the bed. She wasn't buying anything I was selling, even if she was asleep.
I slid off the bed, and headed outside into the cold March morning. Sunlight was starting to peek out over the Ramapo Mountains, as if to say "Welcome to Sunday, you sorry bastard," and I screwed a cigarette between my clanking teeth and lit it. I thought maybe I would reach some kind of enlightenment just staring at the night sky, but nothing, just that stupid bug again. My spine began to freeze into a long pole of ice as I stared at that bug, and I started to sympathize with it. Poor bastard just wanted to get over the rocks and on to other things, but he just couldn't do it, I couldn't help but feel sorry for him, right before I crushed him with my boot heel.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

You are Listening to Rock Music

Drunk and drifting in and out of the bright, twirling, spinning lights, just at the point where it all finally hits that "no matter what I do for the rest of the night, no amount of fresh air, coffee, water or miracle cure is going to save me from a merciless hangover once the sun shines it’s brutal face in my window tomorrow morning" point. And what am I doing out anyway? I should be at home, reading books, doing all the studying I blew off in college, making myself smarter, better, rising above this neon sea of girls with too much perfume and make up and too little self esteem and guys with hundred dollar haircuts and perfect pleats in their khakis.
Yes, you've been pulling away from this your whole life, but just because you’re not snapping two dozen shots on your digital camera of you and your friends toasting shot glasses and smiling cross-eyed so you can rush home and post them to myspace doesn’t mean you’re not a part of this rotten bar culture.
These were the things that were pounding in my head outside the club, I don’t even remember the name of it, I didn’t pick the location this evening. Crouched against a wall outside taking deep drags off a Marlboro that I’ll regret in the morning, my first instinct was to call out of work in case I slept straight through my alarm, which was seeming like a good possibility. If I had any shred of responsibility I would do it now while I still had some of my wits about me.
Maybe I wouldn’t call out. There’s a train station down the street, I could take it right into Manhattan and get lost for a few hours, wandering the city, smoking cigarettes and breathing in a million different sour flavors, looking for love or trouble. Then in the morning I could hop the first train back to Jersey and be at work by eight. Or maybe I didn’t even have to do that at all. I could head south, maybe Nashville, wandering back alley bars, or all the way down to New Orleans and see how that old heartbroken city is recovering, blah blah blah.
What the fuck are you talking about? People are starting to file out of this packed sweat box, their voices are like a million fingernails scratching a blackboard. Maybe their ears are ringing as loud as mine from the pumped up kick drums on whatever Top 40 drivel the four pretty boys were plodding through on yet another Thursday in hopes of a quick blow job in the parking lot from some girl, freshly 21 and taken back by all the pretty lights and smoke machines. Whew. Alright, turn the bitter down and keep your head straight and focus on keeping whatever concoction of acids and whiskey is brewing, in the bottom of your belly.
No, no diners for me thanks. Please just stop the car as close to my bedroom door as possible, and maybe pull a blanket over me if you can find one, and let me sleep until two in the afternoon. I was a fool to think that tonight would be any different than the last eight years, or nine years, or whatever it’s been. And what of that nonsense earlier about haunting the city and escaping the steel box of suburbia on some southbound steam wagon? You have work tomorrow. People like you don’t do those kind of things. Swat that ambition down with reason, that longing for something else with responsibility. Sleep it off. You’re in a Toyota, headed through the northern towns of New Jersey. You are listening to rock music. You are walking up your driveway, filling yet another warm and breezy night under the heading of ‘disappointing’ in what will eventually seem like one long night.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Let The Zombies Howl

I remember looking for a parking space. I remember having dinner, some Guinness and a burger, in the little,old village of Pearl River: a fortress of Irish bars with a train running through the main artery. I remember walking through the street and having a conversation about a hotel that looked like a place where writers lock themselves in for months to work on a book they can't finish and blow their brains out. I remember getting in the car, but then something went wrong. I came to in the back seat of the SUV, a blond female at the wheel and a wild eyed passenger raving in a conversation I came into far too late to have any grasp of. "Best to pretend you're still asleep", I thought, "who knows where these deviants were headed." Maybe I had too much to drink. Couldn't be though could it? The world wasn't spinning, and the lights outside weren't leaving trails. Maybe I'd been living a dual life, two personalities and I'd just become aware of it. Either way it didn't matter now, we pulled into the parking lot of a college that looked hidden inside of a mountain.
"Hey, wake up!" I recognized the voice instantly. "Are you awake?" The chief's voice grew irritated.
"I'm awake. Where are we?" I asked, feigning exhaustion.
"We're at the Zombie Prom" the girl behind the wheel quickly answered, applying blood to the side of her mouth in the rear view mirror. "Do you want some?" she held the bottle up offering some of the red corn syrup.
"No, hell no" I shot back, "What the hell is a Zombie Prom?"
The chief spun around in the seat and looked me straight in the eye, the shadows across his face made him look insane. " Don't worry about what it is, just pay attention to anything that might happen in there." Quickly, we were walking up a stony path, then down a dark stretch in the back of the school, I was waiting for some punk to pop out of a bush to give us a cheap scare but there were two police cruisers in front of the hall waiting for someone to get out of control, nothing to fear for now. My head started to feel like it was full of helium, that frightening feeling of a strong buzz lost, when your muscles and bones double in weight; no condition to be facing an auditorium full of fanatical ghouls. Outside the doors we crept through a pack of smokers in blood drenched t-shirts and ripped up thrift store suits.
"And why are we doing this?" I mumbled to myself.
"Because it will be fun, there's bands,a pie eating contest, and you know a bunch of zomboes." the girl answered.
"The fuck is a zombo?" I answered, weary of participating.
The chief turned around and shot another maniacal stare, "We're going in here because it's Zombie weekend at the school, and quite frankly you're in need of something to write, that last story was shit."
"You said you liked it." my voice went up a defensive octave, never bothering to ask what else was included in Zombie Weekend."No, not really, but enough about that, you get your head straight and get in there. Find an angle." his finger pointed at me, I knew he meant business.
"And don't fucking embarrass me in here." the girl's blue eyes shot violence at me followed by a hard poke in the chest.
I slinked past the smokers into a great open hall, likely used for sunnier purposes in daylight, but now it was transformed into a sleazy club: leather couches and old concert posters, groups of sloppy, sweaty teens and random garbage on the floor. The echo of a beat and that water splash feeling of not belonging flashed me back to a high school dance. I looked around, I was overdressed in a long black trench coat and collared shirt. I felt completely out of place and hoped that no one had noticed. I quickly retreated to the bathroom where a handicapped stall seemed to be where the bar was located. Kids, around 20, sipping cans and 40's then hiding them away in their backpacks. Random girls made their way in to flirt a few beers away from the naive. 'Bastards," I thought, ' I should have been prepared." My toxic levels were far too low to get comfortable at this event, but no more chances to improve on that, I was locked in. Before I could lament further, one of the bands started and we made our way through the giant black curtain, separating the straggling drunk anti-socials from the mob of sweaty dancing, costumed fanatics. There were 200 strong filling the area and pushing towards the stage, singing along with a band I'd never seen nor heard of. A wave of body odor carried over the room and reminded me of being young and excited to be at a show. But that wasn't necessarily a feeling I was prepared to channel this evening, and I was struck with an idea. I headed back towards the bathroom and approached the nearest chap with a beer in hand. "Hey, you want to sell me a few beers? I'll pay you whatever you want for it." seemed like a good deal to me, plus I wasn't aware of any American law against buying beer from a minor. "Um, yeah, let me check if I have any left" he seemed confused by my proposition."Yeah, let me know. I'll pay whatever" I assured him, convinced I sounded exactly like a TV narc. He went into the stall to talk it over with someone. "Sorry dude, we're out." he said quietly. Before I could get disappointed another voice entered."What are you doing in here? Get out here we're going backstage" the chief fired at me from the doorway."It was hard to determine which room was designated as backstage, several of them had people hanging out, but the chief and his girl had been slithering around like reptile-bloodhounds sniffing out a story. We stopped at the area directly behind the stage where the push to the front was visibly violent: young girls screaming lyrics and gasping for breath in the same motion. Behind the stage there were scattered people watching attentively before scattering to run to the room behind us, most of them trying to look like they belonged there. And I was no different really, I felt that just being there I probably came off like I was looking down my nose at the whole thing, but in truth I was really more fascinated by how quickly it seemed this whole world had passed me by and maybe secretly wished I was a little more involved in this event. The chief was bold and lead us into the area where the performers had gathered to drink cheap wine and watery beer. Instantly I tried to find a way to invade someones stash but they were all quick to keep their supplies tight to the chest, perhaps anticipating a predator like me, so I scanned around for pretty girls or drugs, anything that the chief might think would make an interesting story. After a few glances at anonymous tits and female arm pit hair I deducted there wasn't much here.
The bands that were hanging around were much older than most of the audience, but they all seemed to be chemically altered together in perfect harmony. I thought this might be a good time to go outside for some air. I looked at the chief who was mumbling notes into his tape recorder. He nodded at me in agreement that it was time to rejoin the mob of zombies. We parked in the main room and looked for some photogenic zombies I could get some shots with. "Hey, you look exactly like my cousin, can I get a picture?" I 'd say as I rushed to them. Most were good natured and agreeable until we encountered a mustachioed, bare chested, hippie-villain who wouldn't comply with our request to take a picture. The urge to swing a chair at his forehead and strangle him with his peace beads rushed to my temples but the girl reminded me about not making a scene. I shied away from what appeared to be the only real zombie of the evening : a young Paul Giamatti looking creature with tinted glasses and a grotesque sneer that he flashed around the room every 13 seconds until he stumbled off dragging his leg. "No make up on that freaky bastard" I said under my breath."What?" the girl asked with a sharp glare."Nothing. Shouldn't we be getting out of here?" "Not yet." the chief insisted. "I want to see the last band, maybe we can salvage something out of this night just yet." The last band was a ten piece, who graduated from this school what must have been many semesters ago. Dressed entirely in suites they worked the crowd into a lather with their completely non-unique brand of sort-of punk rock. We were pressed off to the right side of the stage just in range of a large girl loosely hanging on to a stair ladder that went up to the ceiling lights. She was one mis-step away from completely squashing the three of us flat. "Forget it" the chief declared, "let's get out of here. I feel nauseous."
The chief and his girl exited through the curtain but I waited for a minute. Wondering if there was anything left for me in this place. I could feel myself getting older by the second and I didn't miss this kind of thing anymore. I'd retired from it, retreating to the old bastard bars and nights at home with my television and books. So let the zombies howl while they still can… "Will you come the fuck on" the chief shouted and I listened. It wasn't long before we were away from the thick, sweaty air and outside, passing the real zombie's glare, the cloud of smoke, the ominous shadows from the police car, and through the dark alleyway and the empty college building and finally at home in the back seat of the SUV. The car engine ignited and we headed south. Somewhere over the Tappan Zee bridge I started to nod off, no idea where I was heading.