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Sunday brunch with Gibson the Brave

tcr! · Apr 15, 2018 at 8:34 am

This is another story from the book I was writing a few years back. Again, the book was mostly bullshit but I do enjoy some of the one-off stories.

—Friday; afternoon

Now that another workday was done and he lay in bed, his thought trains were his own again. Frank enjoyed the comfort, the disconnection that “bed” brought. Indeed, his midday siestas were spiritually divine. He could roam the countryside of his mind and drift…in random thoughts…

One of the last times he’d seen his mighty friend, Gibson the Brave, was on a Sunday, late morning, maybe two years ago. Gibson had just finished painting his kitchen while his wife was away visiting family and he was trying to look confident and put together. It was only window dressing though, morning-after jitters refused to hide behind the blinds.

Gibson recalled to Frank how his wife had seriously said, “Don’t drink both bottles of wine this weekend” and he smiled ashamed. There was some relief in Gibson’s implied confessional but they both knew his wife would bring the fury upon him that night.

They moved to the dining room and Gibson sat Indian style on the floor, steadying himself. He looked like he’d just as soon lie down right where he was. He soldiered on though, dipping and wiping his brush in the white paint as he prepared to engage the formal dining room. His hand started to shake as he attempted to physically will his brush to glide just above the base board.

Two dollars said the empty wine bottles were hidden at the bottom of the recycling bin and too bad their dining room would end up looking like a drunk painter had cut the trim.

He felt sorry for Gibson the Brave and wondered how much hangover pain he was in. He could see the agony on his face, and knew the weight of being an under-performing drunk in the eyes of the Missus.

Diagonal across the dock from where Frank lived, Gibson’s struggle was close to home and way too familiar.

Honestly, Frank was more than glad that none of the brush strokes were on his shoulders. This was Gibson’s time to dance in the hungover spotlight.

While he watched Gibson’s artistic handy work, he himself felt the guiltiness of getting away with alcoholism. He’d been in Gibson’s house two weekends past feeding their dog. But mostly he’d been sneaking shots from the kitchen counter’s bottle of rum while the dog was out pee’ing — he had had his own shakes to tend to that particular day. In the there and then, he smiled to himself as he wondered if Gibson had taken the wrath for that drop in fluid as well.

As the final memory domino fell, his mind unwittingly wandered back to the there and then, came away from Gibson’s kitchen twice removed.

Frank thought to himself, “I wish I could loose myself in that for a little longer. Gibson was a good man.”

It all faded though and there he was laying in bed again. He tried to snatch it back one more time but barely remembered what else he and Gibson talked about that day. Frank could only recall the “don’t drink all the wine” conversation even though he’d visited Gibson for a good hour or two.

He only had pockets of feelings left from that day, only remembered how he knew Gibson must’ve felt. And how he had felt those times in the presence of a kindred spirit, bonding on motorcycles and cheap wine and marital bliss.

Gibson and wife and dog were long gone these days, having returned to the heartland to be closer to their kin.

Frank thought to himself some more, “Maybe life isn’t so much about our adventures but maybe it’s about the people we share our adventures with.”

#confessional #ekwyd

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On the perimeter

tcr! · Apr 8, 2018 at 9:33 am

A few years back I started writing a book. Well, I don’t know if you could call a book but it was similar to how I write now with one-off stories and the like. It did have a somewhat linear flow between the stories though.

It was mostly bullshit, too.

But I was thinking about one of the stories last night, one that was about the Allison Avenue era.

I haven’t felt much like writing anything new this month so here you go.

—Monday; morning

Frank was thinking of a conversation he and Nine had the night before as she started the kettle boiling for that morning’s coffee.

> FRANK: What’s your password again?
> NINE: Crater…regular.

That was such a minor conversation but sometimes something minor was all it took to start his cognitive trains a rolling.

“Regular” was a word that Nine used often enough that it always caught Frank’s attention. She was still in her single digits and Frank could tell that “fitting in” already had a place in her life.

“That should never be on a child’s mind,” he thought. It was still on his too much. Part of his job as a parent was to try and make it just not that important to Nine.

Frank was in his ninth year, just as Nine was now, when all social hell broke loose. His parents had bought a new house on the other side of town. The old home sat in the middle of an old block and this new house sat at the end of a new block.

At the old home he didn’t feel separate from the neighbors or their kids. He had known everybody since the proverbial “before he could remember.” He knew which yards to cut through and which yards to stay out of. He knew the cars, the cracks in the street, and the animals and the trees. He knew when people came and went. The telephone pole in the back corner had memories of he and Queen Penelope climbing the left-right rungs. The garage’s backside had memories of him busted for playing with matches.

Going outside from the old front door he could look left, he could look right, and everything was familiar. It wasn’t safe, maybe a little sketchy now and then, but it was all home…as far as his eyes could see.

Sometimes he would drive through that old neighborhood on Google Maps Street View and just feel stuff. The houses were different and he thought there were less trees. His old home in particular had different colored siding and the concrete front landing had been replaced by steps atop lattice. The garage was also gone, the garage that had kept his dad’s hotrod Plymouth that he and Penelope played on and in.

He wished he could see the backyard from the map. Frank shifted his head to try and look around the digital picture of the house.

After a few months at the new house Frank expected to find a Poltergeist graveyard around somewhere. The new houses on the new block were freshly built and the yards were freshly sodded. He knew most of the grownups’ first names on this new street but he didn’t feel a thing about them other than unwelcome. He felt looked down on but he couldn’t verbalize or even understand that. They were obviously “better” than him. That’s how he remembered that set of neighbors.

“We don’t want your kind around here,” one of moms had said to him while he was playing on her back patio with her boy. Frank didn’t know what to do with this surprise shame…so he just left.

Those times when you’re a kid and just want to run away? That was one of his.

Had Frank done something to offend her? No crimes came to mind. Maybe somebody in his new house had done something and he was guilty by that association. Who knows. Kids don’t think about big things like this. They only internalize.

It made him sad to think of when he had said his goodbyes to his old neighborhood peeps, folk he had spent his whole nine year life getting to know. Traded them in for a new set of everyday friends. He bonded with maybe ten percent of his new classmates and another twenty percent, well…he came to avoid them at all cost. They weren’t boy bullies, they were girls. With claws and teeth and words that beat him up. Words that squeezed him so hard internally that he had a social, spiritual collapse.

Most of the people in that area seemed to need an electrical outlet and Frank had arrived just in time for their shock therapy. Just in time for their voltage voice dial that was cranking up to eleven. He was the youngest with that set of siblings and wasn’t strong like King Leon or Queen Penelope. He couldn’t repel all the electric mosquitoes, he never stood a chance.

Deeply engrossed in thought while exploring this territory, he remembered what it felt like to be “one of” with his old friends, felt like he belonged, because he’d been there since day one.

“This shit’s fucking important.” his thoughts demanded from the keyboard that morning.

Never again did he really feel that group inclusion…with all the new houses he’d move to and with all the new schools he’d go to. When you join a group, you have no credibility, you start at zero by default. You will always be on the perimeter, you will always be excluded. You get to the point where you prefer it that way.

His sentimental thermometer started to return to normal. Maybe those William Street kids had only initially excluded him. Maybe there were some good seagulls in that second flock. He didn’t get to stay long enough to find out. His parents would soon divorce and that would usher in a whole new era for therapy.

Frank glanced at the clock and scoffed. It was almost 7AM. “Dammit, I have to get ready for work just as I was really digging into something.”

“Get in the same truck, drive the same route, to the same office, to sit in the same chair, to do the same job, to eat the same apple…” that he had for the past nine years.

As he was driving to work, his truck antenna hit the same pair of branches they hit everyday and he thought, “‘Regular’ — I sneer at social norms and regularity.” Like it or not, he was a comfortable outcast, often self-imposed, and he felt deeply guided (pulled) into instability and upheaval. That was his regular.

He didn’t like using the word in that way because “regular” was Nine’s word and he didn’t want to associate his own childhood with her. He wanted much more for her.

#confessional #ekwyd

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