Thursday, December 17, 2009

the last man

If you are not aware of what to look for you will invariably miss it. It happens in an instant. Like the dilation of a pupil upon stepping into the sunlight. Like a housefly strumming it's hind legs together in neuron-quick anticipation before digging into a hot meal of fresh shit. It will happen and unless you are lucent, unless you are coherent... unless you are sober... you may miss it. A fragment of time, frozen. And sometimes you will find that you have the ability to watch. You will have the ability to walk around this paused, flickering image of you, and her - and underneath it, and in-between it - and you will be able to analyze the actions and thoughts and emotions unfolding around you. Analyze and control.

And sometimes you will let it pass you by. Brainwaves junk sluggish and eyes brimming with whiskey and red with the hint of long-dried tears. You are fast asleep, locked between ebony thighs, wrapped in whore scent as soft adulations and false promises caress you like a sleeping babe. Manicured nails run through your scalp offering salvation and scratching away what seems like years of worry - and the vessel which carries you to Xibalba races thru the cosmos. The world you once knew disappears at your feet slipping into lapping darkness.

I stand under the canopy watching the snow fall. I inhale my cigarette and then close my thoughts only listening to the soft "shhhh" of the wind and swirling flakes which indiscernibly speak an old language known only to ancient man and white owls. I realize it is over between us R___. I have made my decision. And I am impotent to act.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Collector

Years of memories, a sea of chiseled faces and gaudy, more fantastic then life, colors and images all carefully preserved, each one individually sealed and stored away in plastic and cardboard.

I've asked him too many times why he continues to collect. I tell him that we're no longer kids, and the market has proven that these comic books hold no re-sale value.I ask him why he continues to collect, why he continues to buy, why he continues to hoard... a litany of redundant questions... and we both know he would never intend to ever part ways with his books, even if he could turn a profit, as they are all, each and every single issue, his babies.

He's amassed a small fortune of "funny" books. Gary and I started this endeavor together, once upon a time, as an innocent hobby when we were children. Reading and absorbing the week to week, month to month struggles of larger then life heroes served as a fleeting, necessary escape for two awkward, angst-ridden kids. But somehow, somewhere along the way, it turned into something bigger… something disturbing.

An appropriate word could be "villainous."

A comic book "long box" houses approximately 350 comic books. It's crafted of sturdy cardboard which is untreated by chemicals as to avoid any fatal "bleeding" into the paper which would thereby prematurely yellow and age the pages. Each individual comic is in turn housed in a mylar bag along with an untreated cardstock "backboard" or "back" which will insure the book remain compact and upright. This will prevent the spine from bending. He insists I wash my hands before reading any of his books. He tells me the oils in our hands in time can become acidic and accelerate the degradation of the glossy covers. He has an entire room devoted to his long boxes. An entire wall of boxes stacked four high and ten long. If one were to do the math this would calculate out to 40 boxes or 14,000 comic books. He has been collecting since we were fourteen, he is now thirty. In sixteen years, at approximately $2.50 per issue give or take, he has spent thirty-five thousand dollars. This doesn't include the price of supplies: bags costing around fifteen cents per and backboards about a dime. And each and every issue is in mint condition.

Each book is as perfect and flawless as the day he bought it.

But each of these books, in Gary's mind, hold a higher value then the original cover price he paid for them... far more value. Each comic is a distinct time capsule which I would surmise reveal more then the story drawn out in-between it's pages. For instance, a certain book may represent a micro-drama which played out during his breakup with the woman he was supposed to "marry" over a decade ago. It could represent the long span back in 2002-2004 when he was broke and he had to limit his buying to a select few books. Certain characters or story-archs could very well remind him of his most recent bout with depression, painkillers, and alcoholism. Sixteen years of storylines, sixteen years of triumph, loss, elation, and depression. Yet the heroes never change, whereas Gary and I have. Superman will always don his red, yellow, and blue and embody justice and selflessness.

Superman will always wear a cape.

And in many ways I am a lot like Gary.

However, I stopped collecting comic books many years ago. My attention turned to other compulsions. While he continued to invest his money and time into abstract dreams and myths I prospected faces. I collected matchbooks and bar-napkins with hastily written names and barely legible phone numbers. I amassed a collection of one night stands, flings, and intoxicated groping sessions in dingy, dimly-lit booths in the back of dive-bars. A sea of faces, scents, tastes carefully wrapped in plastic, alphabetically sorted, and lovingly packed away into the long boxes of my own mind. And sixteen years later, unlike him, I have nothing to show for it. I have nothing to pass on to my offspring should I ever decide to have children. I have nothing material or absolute… nothing concrete, to show for sixteen years of wasted life.

All I really have to cling to is years of memories, a sea of chiseled faces and gaudy, more fantastic then life, colors and images all carefully preserved, each one individually sealed and stored away. Each and every memory, through the tireless embalming process of the mind, stands flawlessly preserved.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

chestnuts roasting..

I've noticed when it snows, the world's suddenly smaller. Pick any street any night, if it's snowing, you feel as though you're walking through a miniature town in a tiny snow globe.

I look over at him through the cold stillness. He's babbling. His eyes are elsewhere - he seems distant. In fact our entire conversation feels alien and distant. I stomp my feet and blow into my hands. "Max, what time did you say this dude is going to meet us here? I'm freezing."

Max snaps back at me. "He'll get here when he gets here. You want the high or what?"

"Yeah I do but fuck bro I seen three cops drive by already." I look around. We're standing next to a leaking dumpster in a dingy alley. Just an alley, any alley, in a disgusting city which time has forgotten altogether. I used to call this city 'Gotham.'

"The Popo are making me nervous Max, call this motherfucker and find out where he's at."

He whips out his cell. Of course Max has his dealer on speed dial. "Yeah. We're here where you at?" Max laughs one of those fake laughs a person typically gives to their boss at a business luncheon or in this case, to their hook. "Yeah, that's right. Three, no make it four. Okay. Okay. Yeah... see you soon." He clicks his phone shut and coughs. The alley carries the echo up into the sky, caught in the wind spinning and spinning up into heaven. Faraway I hear a dog barking.

"So where is he?"

"Dude chill out you're buggin me. Smoke another cig, Jesus."

I shove my hands in my pocket and walk a few paces to get the blood flowing in my legs. I look over at Max. He's staring out into the blackness. His lips are moving. He's talking to someone... and no one. The monkey's on Max's back in a big way, worse than me. Way worse. I could quit the junk anytime. I tell people I could sooner quit using then smoking. I tell people it's recreational. I choose to keep using, I'm not forced... just through the Holidays you know? Then I'll probably quit. But Max he's got it bad.

"Hey man you got the cash? A hundred."

I turn around to find Max standing right behind me. "We buying more?"

"Naw for all four rocks. Their big though. You'll like."

"I'm buying two, I got fifty on me."

Max's eyes widen. His voice raises. "Naw man you told me you were buying all four rocks. And then I'm buying one off you! That was the agreement right!?"

Another police car slowly crunches by at the end of the alley. I lean up against the wall and pop the collar up on my peacoat. "Max shut the fuck up, lower your voice. You're acting like a fucking nut."

Max quizzically looks at me, his voice lowers into a shrill whisper. His speech is animated. His arms flail about. "Fucking Nut? I suppose it's fucking nutty to keep hooking you up with this shit, right? Would that make me a fucking nut? Exactly how..."

I look around nervously. A cough from an open upstairs window. Another car creeps by, a white car. A ghost car maybe? "Okay fine. Fine. Shut the fuck up please Max, Christ! I got it okay. And where the fuck is this guy anyway, Max call him, call your guy."

I tell people I could quit anytime. It's not that I would if I could, it's more like I could if I would. I know a lot of people probably find it hard to believe, but whatever, fuck them. The situation is under control. Just through the Holidays you know?