It’s almost night.
I’m sitting alone inside a vacant house. A tomb of stucco as jaundiced as my body will be in a few years if I don’t stop drinking. El fucko.
I’m almost drunk again. Can’t kick this sin. I hope my elderly father still prays for me. He’s the real deal. I love him. He’s not long for this world. Heaven is his home—brightening now—a lamp that is trimmed, his unwavering belief in God providing a comforting glow in the valley and shadow of death, on the dusky lane of a bittersweet eventide. My mom will never let go of his hand. Three score and ten years, maybe a handful more for the righteous man. For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Oh, drunken thoughts! Pour forth! Ignore the need for a new paragraph! –or that I’m standing naked on this metal folding chair waving a bottle of bourbon in the air! What the hell will I do without him? If only he knew how much I cling to his righteousness. I should probably tell him before it’s too late. He’s never let me down. I let him down. Now I’m crying again. I dreamt of him only last night. He stood there, with an inexplicable look on his face, holding my mother’s hand, yes, like I said, waiting, waiting, waiting in vain for the prodigal son who never comes home, despite his faithful prayers every morning at 5:30 a.m. Fact is, I no longer believe in happy endings—I’m not sure I believe in anything other than the iron strength of evil and maybe, just maybe, the power of love that—again—maybe, maybe, maybe, perhaps, perchance might melt the eternal power of sorrow for someone, not just anyone. Only the elect. Fuck. Not me. Because, once again, the alarm clock of reality has saved the fatted calf from being unnecessarily slaughtered on my behalf. No reason to celebrate. I’m not home yet. I’m still wallowing in the mud with the swine.
Does Divine love ever cheat? Has Divine love ever cheated?
Someone—anyone—please help me!
Jesus, blessed Christ, the devil has me by the acid throat.
I pop two Prilosec.
I’ve been studying voodoo for a piece that I’m writing. That shit is real.
A door slams down the hall and startles me.
Hello? Is someone out there?
Just like my prayers. No answer. No one. Not even the damn devil.
I’m the only dead person haunting this house.
My head is spinning. I like it. It makes me horny.
I want to cry. I want to die.
Darling, dearest. Don’t you know? You should’ve known by now, silly girl, stupid damn perfect girl. You’ve always been my savior. My heroine. My drug. So much stronger than any other. Your amazing love. My religion. I’ve worshiped regularly, for years, at your wet altar.
She’s already gone with the sun.
She was the sun.
Just like the rest. Unlike the rest.
Now the lesser sun is going down and my broken heart is sinking with it. Down, down, down through a rotten wood floor and into the frightening abyss of nevermore.
Without her, I am nothing.
I’m so damn sad.
Pull the fucking trigger already, you coward.
Nobody knows I’m here. Nobody cares.
Come to me, please, ma’am. Damn, I fucking love you!
Please notice me.
Here I am.
Blaspheme the fucking angels of heaven!
Where did you go, darling girl? I need your help.
In this private hell.
Let me record this forsaken moment, line by line, so that no one else comes here.
Gray shadows huddle and thicken to black, every corner of this room is shapeshifting into featureless faces and pointing fingers. Spiders big and small come to life but I am grateful for their company. If any of them could speak or spell, what would they say about me? Might one with the beauty and intelligence of Charlotte spin a web and affirm that I am an amazing pig?
Every evening, my mind is no longer safe; it grinds against the whetstone, the sharpening stone of human conscience, into a blade that cuts so deep that I may very well bleed to death upon someone else’s bed—that bed over there, the squeaky one in the corner—a Craigslist special—so uncomfortable that I must always sleep on the floor, bugs in and out of my nostrils, ears, and throat. Coughing fits are common. Tickly seizures in the night.
There was an old woman who swallowed a spider—it wiggled and wriggled and tickled inside her—perhaps she’ll die.
My vision is best at night. That’s why I’m afraid. That’s why I drink. I look into a mirror with the eyes of God and don’t like what I see. I condemn myself.
To all my estranged daughters, I’m still here, precious babies, lost as fuck until we meet again. I promise I’m strong enough with what I know. Walk into my arms. Please. Dear children. I’ll never let you go again. I love you. Every single one of you.
I’ll be someone you can be proud of. It’s not too late, right?
Lord be merciful to me the sinner.
This drunken stream of consciousness. Damn. Hear my confession, nosy reader. Now’s the time. Go tell it on the fucking mountain.
Alone at Brixens. I remember the wine on her breath. The most romantic thing…
Writers, write! With painful, vulnerable authenticity.
It’s meant for me to be here, I think. She doesn’t understand. I hold her invisible hand, wherever I go.
Help me through this darkness, sweet child.
You are the darkness.
You are the light.
Shit. I don’t know anymore.
Just the other day, inspired by such majesty, quite impulsively, after a scenic drive down I-40 through Albuquerque, I climbed up, up, into the heavenly mountains, unprepared, without any knowledge of the area, wearing jeans that sagged with sweat and led along by slippery cowboy boots. No water. Only a cell phone at seventeen percent power. A fool.
Suicidal, I climbed into the sunset.
Just as with you, Christina, I explored Sandia’s beauty. I swear, this is the only time I’ve ever cheated on you. Every crevice, my hands were all over her, free climbing.
You looked at me once and said, “Let’s follow this road and see where it goes.” I heard your voice and kept going, believing in us, in you. Higher and higher, dangerously higher.
I came to the highest height. The god-like view of the world below filled me with a dizzy, oxygen-deprived delight.
Please take care of me. Guard me. You started this, darling fuck.
Hungry to live. Desiring to die. Both.
I only wanted to kiss you, remember? You wanted all of me.
I won’t tell of that day when you took the lead….
Yesterday, I unzipped my jeans and remembered. On a heated rock. You took me there . . . in your hand, in your mouth, in my mind.
I screamed. The whole world must’ve heard! Just the way it’s supposed to be.
Afterward, that curious, bleachy smell separated from the tablespoon puddle on my muscled abdomen, formed into a single rivulet that dripped and sizzled onto a desert stone. It was like a branding of our love. After that piercing feeling—higher than the mountains, into the stars and beyond, something that only love can produce—unashamed, I zipped, deeply satisfied, and resumed my way back down. Glowing. Knowing what I know.
God never gave me a son. One of me is enough.
Earlier tonight, I drove to the marketplace. I needed some whiskey for my coffee if you must know.
I stopped at a red light and waited for a middle-aged man to cross the street. He was limping, slow as a slug, carrying groceries. Sweat dripped like rain from his eyebrows. The Sandia Mountains for an erotic backdrop (remembering our recent sex), I tapped my sober fingertips on the steering wheel, waiting impatiently for the eternal traffic light to glow green again.
I could no longer bear it. I signaled and turned my attention to the limping man. I opened the passenger door and offered him a lift. He was very grateful.
He extended a tiny hand. “My name is Pablo.”
I felt a sudden pressure on my heart, an inexplicable love. Life had beaten him up, but he hadn’t been licked. Maybe he could teach me something.
His clothes smelled sour as he directed me, “Turn here. Make a right there. Go left.”
We both noticed that his New Mexico neighborhood was crawling with asshole cops, their weapons drawn, searching for someone. Instantly, I hated the men (and one butch woman) in blue, hoping the fugitive might escape the cuffs and cages of blue light hypocrisy that I know so well.
Are we all not hypocrites at one point or another?
I scratched my nose with an obvious middle finger in their direction.
“Pull in here and don’t look at them,” Pablo said. “Diablo, Diablo.”
Yes, I agreed. I know. Okay. The devil. Yes.
He giggled like an innocent child. “You need the Lord above,” he said.
“Yes, I know.”
His pudgy woman had a crooked eye. She zoomed in with a singular, straight eye and a toothless smile that was somehow wonderful. She hadn’t expected him home so soon. She thanked me enthusiastically through a bug-splattered windshield. She wouldn’t come to my door.
So much joy! Hers, matching his. Joining together. Theirs, synergistic.
Listen, dear reader: they love each other! Please, see what I saw!
They rushed and clung to each other. Like they hadn’t been together in years. I will never forget it.
Tight hugs. Tightening. In this world. In the gathering darkness. Two sweet people who need each other. She matters to him. He matters to her. That kind of love. The humble, thankful, every day, ordinary, extraordinary kind.
I backed out of their sandy driveway and continued my pathetic search for liquor and meaning. Something to help me sleep.
An Albuquerque 7-Eleven didn’t let me down. Kentucky bourbon. Almost twenty for a fifth and a pack of Marlboro’s.
Afterward, a ten-minute drive home.
I haven’t a home. Not really. But I need one more than ever.
For a dangerous moment, I allow myself to remember the comforting, evening lights of Heritage Point. I almost collapse with grief. I spent a season in heaven. There.
Now, here I am, in the darkening. A borrowed coffee mug in my hand. Two-thirds black and one-third whiskey. Staring at a blank computer screen. Waiting for a muse who’s no longer there. She seeks another tonight. And she’ll have him. Damn, she’ll have him for dinner, and he’ll have her for dessert.
I feel a rage I’ve never felt in all my cursed, wonderful, curious life.
Dammit. Dammit. Dammit.
Fuck all the saints.
I need her forgiveness but will never receive it. For leaving her like I did. Without a kiss goodbye. I thought I was doing the right thing.
I know this for a fact.
(Zoom in for a private moment, dear reader.)
Know me better.
Right now, Yiruma is playing “Kiss the Rain” on the piano and I’m weeping like a bastard.
I can see her perfect face turning from mine to another, looking at him like she used to look at me.
And that’s how it goes.
She doesn’t want to marry a writer, she says. She needs a 9-5 guy, no drama. Big yawn.
Well, fuck, mama. That’s exactly what you’ll get.
I love you anyway. I can’t help it.
All the best of what is less.
Then again —
I think of Pablo. His name means, “little.”
Honestly, I have so much to learn.
Maybe the little things are the biggest. Maybe LOVE is best defined or understood as a chubby, happy, crooked eye worshiping a worn-out man with a gimp, waiting for him to return home. Never letting go. No matter what.
I’m blitzed again. I don’t know what the hell I’m saying. But whatever it is, I believe it. Right now, anyway.
I will find fame, yes (although I don’t want or need it). I will acquire riches, yes. And, at my age, there’s still time to climb the highest mountain. Faith. Hope. Love. All that shit.
But if I have not love—her fucking redeeming love—I am nothing.
Thus, ends my stream of consciousness for tonight.
Since you’re such a voyeur, inquisitive reader, I will now exit my house and enter a dark, sleepy neighborhood where, thank God—if there is a God—nobody knows me. I’ll likely stumble a damn block or two or three. The moon is out tonight. A mountain breeze is beckoning.
I always want to kiss her on nights like these.
Eventually, I will sit in the bed of my pickup truck and pick a few strings on my guitar. I’ll stare up at the same romantic moon which she and I have watched together now for a long damn time. I’ll remember the taste of her mouth, her wine-tart tongue, searching mine. I’ll feel the loss of her in the lover’s pit of my stomach.
She should’ve calmed the hell down. She should’ve trusted. Waited. For a life’s minute longer.
She shouldn’t have cheated. Herself or me.
Before I re-enter the empty house and turn in for the night, I will play James Taylor’s, “You Can Close Your Eyes,” over and over.
And I will cry in private.
Now you know.
Quit staring at me.