"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

25 April 2012

Doppelganger

I thought I saw you the other day. The details were all there; the gait, the color of hair and its style, the build, and tone of the flesh. I had to do a double-take, and then another two or three after that, just to be sure.

There were differences, of course. That's the way of it. No tattoos. The scars that you carved into your legs and arms on those neurotic nights weren't there. The eyes, slightly concealed behind spectacles, were different. Not the look of a feral dog, but of someone just trying to get where they were going.

I breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn't you, and I don't know how I would've reacted if it was. Hopefully, that unintentional doppelganger is as close I'll ever get.

23 April 2012

Ridiculous Thoughts

I used to want to be a zoologist. My dream was to study animals out on the Serengeti, which perhaps accounts for ongoing-though in varying degrees-love affair with Africa. I still hope to someday make it there, even if just for a visit.

When I was fourteen, a man in a pet store told me it was all gay and fine to be zoologist if I wanted, but there's no money in it. Up until her death, my mother blamed that man for me apparently losing interest in the subject. Of course, at fourteen, I was looking at other pursuits. More artistic ones. I thought I could draw, and although I have no musical talent, well, that didn't stop the guys in the Sex Pistols or Kiss, so maybe I could be in a band. There was the matter of stories I would tell, and how I had taken to actually writing some down.

None of these other pursuits were known for making one a great deal of money, unless one was exceedingly lucky. But, like zoology, they held my interest in some form or fashion. Besides, I don't care much for money. As John and Paul-the Beatles, not the biblical prophets-pointed out; money can't buy me love.

Aside from zoology, astronomy and archeology held fascination for me. To this day, they still do. I can watch documentaries on those subjects with rapt attention. On an armchair level, I am multi-disciplined in those respective sciences. I think a friend of mine recently explained it best when he talked about how he enjoyed Earth-science back in university...but;

"It was great, but then it got too...scientific. That's when I discovered I was an artist."

Now, there have been very few I've encountered over the years and lifetimes that really are an artist when they say they are. Others have been those try-too-hard posers. Like a great deal of monikers, they cling to them like security blankets of end all and be all. I despise the limitations of labels for just that reason.

But my friend had a point, I realized; I love those sciences...but. Astronomy and archeology require a bit of math, and that's my worst subject. I like watching animals, I like to watch in general, but some of the other minutiae holds no interest whatsoever. Being on an armchair and getting my vicarious geek on through documentaries is enough.

When I was sixteen and impetuous, I decided I wanted to be a writer. Not as glamorous as them thar punk and rock and/or roll musicians, but, even and especially back then, I wasn't gregarious enough for that sort of madness. If I was going to do one of these other pursuits, I figured I'd do the one I felt most comfortable with.

When I was eighteen, immortal, and omniscient, I made up my mind I'd be published and live with the monoliths of the greater metroplex. I would tell girls I was going to be a writer if I grew up, and sometimes it even impressed them. Well, if they read. Of course, despite my adolescent omniscience of being a writer when I grew up I failed to know of the two fatal flaws in this scheme; the first, my hatred of labels, and the the second, I fucking hate grown-ups.

At nearly forty years old, neither of those hates have changed much, if at all. And I do realize that might sound just a little sad. Perhaps bordering upon pathetic.

I do not do well with the social construct of reality, or the expectations contained therein. Be that as it may, I was hoodwinked by one of the social expectations if one aimed for being a writer; composing a book. Short stories were masturbation before getting to work, and poetry was, well, poetry. So, I set about to write a book, and somewhere around the ripe age of twenty-seven finished my first one. It was supposed to be a series. Looking back on it now, I see how clichรฉ it was, dime a dozen, as the saying goes, no matter how original some cats who read it thought my approach was.

It is not within my nature to compete. This has caused me more than one problem in arena of romance and just plain getting by with the things I've done for money, even and especially during my penance in corporate America. Still, there was this one contest in which by self-publishing, one might actually land a gig with a real-life publishing house. I stayed up late one night with a bottle of wine and meditated on the subject.

Okay, it was pretty fucking cool to get a copy of the book I wrote in the post. To open it and see it was my words on the page. Even though it wasn't through a house I'd actually got published.

I did this. This is mine. No one can take this away from me.

I celebrated for days. This was back when I was dancing with the dead for money. During a meeting, one of the overseers held up a copy of my book and pointed at me, calling me a published author. Sabina would later tell me how the look of mortification on my face was terrifying as I attempted to crawl under a table and burrow into the carpet to escape. It was in that moment of being put on the spot I realized I could never be a rock and/or roll star, just in case I had any doubts.

"That would be so cool!" Sabina's musician x said to me when I told him that story.

I tried not to notice he was all but groping an erection. He was a musician, after all. He wanted to be Gene Simmons and Nikki Sixx. He wanted that sort of adoration and attention. Me, being an aberration, I found that sort of thing awkward. Being too tall, too skinny, with eyes too big for the rest of my face, I get too much attention as it is.

Although, I finished the manuscript for the second book, I never got around to the revisions and self-publication. Dime a dozen not withstanding, I found I didn't possess the same angst as the twenty-five year old that started the series. I wanted to move on.

It was Lee who first suggested I might have something else. Something better, germinating within the walls of my skull. He was the one who suggested I shelve the series I'd not touched in a few years since publication.

I got into arguments with the gypsy and Madam Lung about it. They felt I should finish the series. I remember being a little resentful toward them. See, I do not do well with being told what to do, whether that's where I go or who I hang out with. And most assuredly don't go ordering me about with the words I purge from my skull. End of chat.

***

It's been seven years since I self-published, and eight since I worked on that series. I don't know if I've ever come up with something better like Lee postulated or if it's still germinating away within the walls of my skull. Maybe I hit my dinger way back then and what I do is but a shade of that. I do not think of myself as a writer, and take umbrage when someone tries to pin that label on me.

That neurosis of mine, see?

Yet, since the completion of my latest story arc, I have caught myself contemplating madness. The idea of self-publication has once more entered into the mathematics of my thoughts. A compilation of stories. Like my two arcs with Lazarus Lankin and perhaps the one with Joshua Storm, for example. There would probably be a few others, of which I've put here, but, then again, the whole endeavor might just be cheating, and perhaps I should do something new before I even joke about such idiocy.

I cannot find a reason why I consider this. If I was into telling stories for money, I'd be sorely disappointed. The royalties from my book paid a bar tab one night, that's it. I know how I deal with being noticed in any context. Growling is usually involved.

But there it is; me thinking of doing a book again. Perhaps it's just a phase. It could be in a few months I'll not even remember why I thought it might at least be an interesting idea. Then again, I might stay up late one night with a bottle of wine or some whiskey and catch myself marveling over something I created arriving for me in the post. 

17 April 2012

April

The other day, sempi was on the telephone with someone official. At one point, the conversation seemed a bit strained. When he hung up, he shook his head, rolled his eyes, and made an exasperated sound.

"What is with people around here lately?" He asked rhetorically. I looked up at the calendar.

"It's April thirteenth," I said.

"So?"

"The key word there is 'April', Sir" I said, trying not growl.

"Oh," sempi muttered, annoyed, because, suddenly, everything made sense.

Not that I blame him for losing track for a bit; only two years up from Atlanta, sempi still likes to run around in his nicely pressed khakis like this is the big city, forgetting that sort of dress-up is for marryings, buryings, and unfortunate moments in front of a magistrate. And, up here, even such occasions usually just dictate which North Face fleece you're going to wear.

I think I understood the concept of seasonal burnout a little before I came to the mountains, but only a little. That moment where winter was giving its death-rattle, but spring was only about half-sprung. There may have been angst for the new season to truly unfold, but it was on a far different level. I may have somewhat felt it before, but I never truly realized what a cruel time April was until I came up the hill.

Living anywhere in the mountains-aside from being a study in borderline insanity-is to live in what might be termed as a resort area. Even our Sahel, which focuses more on the mining and railroad history then skiing, has a fair amount of outdoor recreation. There are four of the over fifty fourteeners in the state here, three of which are in the top fifteen. There are industries of all stripes up here, but, when it comes to brass tacks and bedposts, they are all interwoven to one thing; the tourist.

And April is the purgatory, the interminable limbo, between the winter and summer tourists. A good deal of the ski areas close in April, however, campgrounds and museums may not be open. There is mud and ticks. The remaining snow is grapple or wet paste. There may be a few things threatening to bloom, but most still hides beneath a veil of khaki.

The tempers are on edge; tired of the snow, the cold, the wind. Business is slow in the in-between and a trip down below can illicit seasonal envy looking at the blooms and blossoms and green that may be still a month off here, barring a major storm. Deep winter and its way of inducing cabin fever dose not test one's mettle the way the April does.

Even this year, with how autumn gave winter a miss and headed straight for spring, there is the angst. The fears of a dry summer ahead and how the rafting companies, down valley, might not do well if there's so little run-off. Worry of wildfires and the price of fuel just for a hop up from the greater metroplex. Those tempers, brought on by season's burnout, are spiced by fears of economics and drought. Another symptom of living in what could be termed resort area. Something someone who comes to the mountains to vacation might not be able to fully comprehend.   

I watch the world slough its seasonal skin toward the warmer times. When the travelers ask me what to do, I tell them honestly they've shown up at simultaneously the best and worst time; when many things are closed or closing, but when there are fewer crowds, even on the weekends. I try not to bristle when I catch a sharpness in a local's voice, recognizing the time of year. As far as I'm concerned this is part of the penance of living where other's come to vacation.

In a month, or a little more, it'll have passed. We'll have all settled into the rhythms of the warm season. The burnout, the temperamental moments will have been all but forgotten. Metaphoric waters on proverbial bridges. That is, until next year, when once more our collective mettle is tested by the cruelty of April.  

13 April 2012

Listed Temptation

My relationship with the jewel-eyed girl really hit the downward spiral on my thirty-third birthday. There'd been other little affronts through the three years we were together, but that birthday, and, perhaps it's petty of me, was when I begin to lose that loving feeling. That's when she decided staying home, watching cartoons, and being asleep before midnight was far more important then at least making an appearance at the juke joint. So, I got bad and drunk and discovered that Wolfsheim's Find You're Gone was my new favorite love song.

"I wake up
I find you're gone,
There should be grief
but I feel none..."

There was another affront of her not being bothered to help me move into the place I called the Temple of the Jinn, two weeks later that was salt in the wound, but we still somehow limped along. Habit, most likely. It wasn't like we hung out much anymore anyways. Me, being a little more solitary by nature, the fact I...guess...I had a girlfriend meant no trying to get down and dirty with some random split-tail that got drunk enough to find my aberrant ass vaguely interesting because that would be incorrect. My female friends lauded my sense of decorum as well as restraint. In the past, I have joked I have a sense of restraint that monks and saints prey for...and upon.

It was a few weeks after the move I was out with Lee and the mother of his son and I was going on about how much I was enjoying my solitary time. Of course, the whole reason I hung out with the vampire caste as much as I did was Lee's fault, and the fact he was once concerned my misanthropy would swallow me whole. As he listened to me talk, he simply shook his head.

"Aren't you involved with someone?" He asked me finally.

"Technically," I said.

"And yet you're so happy that you don't have to deal with anyone," he continued. "Doesn't that tell you something?"

It told me lots of things, but nothing I was willing to own up to in that moment. I cocked a nervous eyebrow and took a nervous sip of whiskey.

"You've been here before, brother," he said, a reference to the girl he would call my Fucking Psycho X and how history was repeating itself.

Hindsight, being the metaphoric twenty-twenty, even if looking back's still a bit fuzzy, I knew exactly what he met. However, Lee was, is, and probably will be to the grave, a womanizer. The last fucking biped I'd go to for relationship advice. At the time, I took another nervous sip of whiskey, swishing it about in my mouth to truly feel the burn.

"That's interesting," I said. "I'll have to meditate on that."

And by meditate, I meant another nine months of sleepwalking habit...

***

Sabina and I both had been dancing with the dead for money for roughly two years. In those two years we'd gone from causal vampire caste acquaintances whose respective others had once been involved to actual friends. I have a tendency to make friends with girls more readily because men are such assholes, after all. My nickname for Sabina was the Vampire Queen, for she was one of the popular kids and one of the most hardcore, old-school goths I'd ever met. We somehow got along anyway.

I liked her better outside of the vampire caste. The makeup I'd tell her I'd one day see her without was not as severe. She didn't wear the heels that made her a deceptive six inches taller. We could have real conversations instead of quick greetings and goodbyes before courtiers came along to crowd us out.

It was the spring after my thirty-third birthday and Sabina observed I'd not been out much. I told her I was digging on being solitary. She invited me out for a few cocktails up at Netherworld. I made excuses of not having much money and plenty to drink at home. That's when she spoke in the tongues of incantation, muttering magic words;

"I'll pay."

***

So, a paradoxically misanthropic aberration, being too tall, too skinny, with eyes too big for the rest of his face, walks into a bar because he's not clever enough to duck...

The first person I saw was Sabina's musician boyfriend, surrounded by his pack of sycophants. I wondered if that's how he saw them. Then I wondered, if he was aware of what they were, if he even cared. After all, he was a musician, and musicians jerk off like ugly apes in humping season to the adoration of a crowd.

Tell me I'm wrong, but I doubt you'll convince me you're right...

"How's it going?" He asked, shaking my hand.

"Your girl promised to get me a libation," I said.

"A what?"     

Have you ever had one of those moments that trips up your own intellect? A time when it takes you second to make sure what you heard was not an auditory hallucination? It happens to me a fair amount. Even and especially over matters of vocabulary and what is perhaps a stubborn refusal on my part to dumb-down my speech.

That did not just happen. Sabina doesn't suffer fools. And most certainly she wouldn't have been dating and fucking one for damn near ten years.

"A libation," I repeated. "A drink. Kind of like that wet thing in your hand there."

"Oh," he said, shooting me a little bit of a glare. See, one of his criticisms of me was I was 'too intellectual'. "You need to talk to her about that."

"Reckon I will," I said, going to find my friend.

She was wearing a black straw cowboy hat and low-cut t-shirt that read wicked, which seemed the part of a musician's girlfriend, and I might have made comment to the fact. I had a drink in front of me before I sat down, and another waiting in case I finished that first one too quickly. Sabina was, as of that moment, my very bestest friend in the whole wide world.  

"Teach your boy the meaning of the word libation," I told her, noticing an annoyed eye roll in his direction. "It will help him immeasurably."

"So, are you two still together?" Sabina asked me a few drinks in about the jewel-eyed girl. "I haven't seen you two out."

"I guess so," I muttered, and tried to change the subject. "So, the boy's band's got a show tomorrow, neh?"

"Yes, and I'll give you a free pass," Sabina said, then, noticing my muttering about the finer point of my dubious relationship; "Do you want to talk about it?"

"No, I don't want to talk about it," I might have growled as I set my empty libation down.

"Another drink for the ray of sunshine in the Beatles shirt here," Sabina called out to the bartender. "Is there anything you don't want to talk about?"

Fuck! She's gotten to know me almost as well as Jezebel. How did I let that happen?

"The things I don't want to talk about? Mon ami, those are legion."


And my drink came and I sung like a metaphoric stool-pidgin. Of my friends, only Jezebel and Madam Lung knew the full detail of my downward spiral with the jewel-eyed girl. It was my problem and I'd deal with it. I didn't need to be telling everyone, even and especially a vampire queen who could potentially make an entire social caste privy to my problems.

After I got done talking, Sabina let me in on her own dirty secret; things were not so rosy between her and the musician. Sure, as long as I'd known her I could set my watch to their juke joint arguments and that was just the way of it, but this was different. After almost ten years, she was questioning if she was in the right place, or if she'd have a place the next time the sun rose. It was then we decided to be one another's cheerleader and confidant in our relationship woes.

"That sucks," I said, beginning to feel a bit intoxicated by this point. "Ain't we about a pair?"

And we lapsed into silence and our drinks for a bit. When we would speak, it was of trivialities; music, my stories, vampire caste gossip-or gothip, as it was sometimes called. Nothing special.

"Do you have a list?" Sabina asked me shortly before last call.  

"I am going to the souk tomorrow, if that's what you mean."

"No. The other-times-other-lives list."

"Ah, I joke with Madam Lung the masturbation list," I said.

"You're on mine," Sabina confessed, and I was gobsmacked. As an aberration, being too tall, too skinny, with eyes too big for the rest of my face, being even fantasied about by one of the popular kids seemed unlikely at best, and an exceedingly cruel joke at worst.

"You're fucking with me," I growled.

"I promise I'm not," she said and smiled warmly. "I'd like to run my fingers through your hair." 

For those just tuning in; I have thick, wavy dysfunctionally calico hair that coils past my shoulders in the manner of kudzu and serpents. Most often, I wear tied back or under a hat, because keeping it short would involve a commitment to styling moose to deal with cowlicks I'd rather not contemplate and I'm not cool enough to pull off a shaved head. Lee would tell me there were girls in the vampire caste that crushed on me just because of this mane of mine, which I thought was vaguely shallow. After all, I'd rather be respected for my mind, although that probably sounds asinine.


"Here you go," I said, offering Sabina a lock from under my Mediterranean fisherman's cap.

"That's not exactly what I had in mind," she said.

"Yes, well..." my eyes traveled down the bar where the musician was whooping it up, though occasionally casting a glare down our way.

I would later find out he found me threatening, even moreso the more Sabina and I hung out, despite the fact I was never less than polite. Most likely, that was why. Although, I often surmised it was because I knew about some of his dalliances in water closets with women other than his girlfriend at the time.

***

When I lived in the greater metroplex, I did not drive. Living close to the monoliths of downtown, I didn't really need to. That night, Sabina got me home and was riding with me, whilst her boyfriend went to party on after hours.

We exchanged hugs goodnight. There have been times I have described myself as the worst kind of bastard with the morals of an alley cat. I had a buxom girl with two-tone hair, iridescent doe eyes that shown like abalone shells, and a wicked t-shirt who had mentioned she might like me as a little more than a friend. We were both a little drunk and in bad relationships.

'"See you at the show," I said helping her back into the vehicle.

Whether I was temped, whether I kick myself for not doing something else that night is my secret. The auspice of writing it off as a drunken slip would've been the coward's way out. I may be the worst kind of bastard with the morals of an alley cat, but I ain't that bastard.

Besides, I have sense of restraint of which monks and saints prey for...and upon...

The next night, at the show, she'd ask me if I remembered our conversation. That's when I acquainted her with my powers of memory. At the time she wasn't sure if she was grateful or resentful. Years later, she still has to think about it.

***

The jewel-eyed girl and I broke up a month later, although the repercussions rippled through my world for six months after the fact. Sabina and the musician pantomimed through their relationship that couldn't have been more about convenience than if there'd been a soda fountain and a jerky rack in their bedroom for almost a year. For most of that year I did everything I could to help her salvage her relationship.

Another couple of years after that, the greater metroplex far behind and four-thousand vertical feet below us, we were settling in for a quiet evening at the House of Owls and Bats. I was bringing her a glass of wine and chuckled as my eyes fell across the calendar.

"What?" She inquired.

"To the date," I started. "was the night you told me you wanted to run your fingers through my hair. Of course, you'd been drinking at the time."

Sabina reached up and delicately pulled loose the hair-tie I had my mane of dysfunctional calico in. It spilled out and coiled in the manner of kudzu and serpents along my shoulders. I could feel her fingers working through the thick locks.

"And so I have," she whispered, giving me a kiss.

10 April 2012

Ten Years Gone

Sabina, getting ready to leave for an obligation, took a moment drink me in. I was bedecked in shorts, my hikers, a pullover, a t-shirt, and my camouflaged cap with a lizard stitched on it. I was placing things in my pack and it really was no secret what I was doing; a walkabout.  

Research, is how I rationalize it; travelers the world over have been given to asking me about trails in this part of our Sahel and it behooves me to be in the know. I always promise Sabina I'll have a miserable time without her, but she doesn't believe me for a second. Outside of perhaps Whistler-a canid quadruped verses a hominid biped-such exercises are my bits of solitary time these days. She knows I've always enjoyed walking; be it within the borders of the greater metroplex or off in the bush.

"If ten years ago, someone said to you that you'd be such an avid outdoorsman, what would you say?" This is an old bit of dialog between us, being part joke, part rhetorical question, and part mathematical formula.

"That they were probably smoking crack through a lightbulb," I replied. My stock answer. "Fuck, me five years ago most likely would recognize the me here and now."

Five years back was when we were up on a picnic. A lark. That's when I decided I wanted to move to this funky little mountain township, and she told me if we could figure it out, we should do it. A romantic might have done a shruggy-thing, like a girl first falling in love. I haven't got a romantic bone in my body, but I might very have fallen in love with Sabina all over again when she said that.

Ten years back, I was heretical Tibetan Buddhist bookworm who spent late nights in coffeehouses or on downtown street corners chain smoking and watching the eking and scratching comedy, tragedy, drama, and irony of a species of half-bald monkeys that call themselves Man. I was dying my hair burgundy, because the first manifestations of gray, when I was twenty-five, just would not do. There were not as many tattoos, and the nose ring and hoop in my right earlobe were still a little bit off. I utilized public transportation and had walked the length and breadth of the metroplex more than once, and sometimes just for something to do. Still, my getting out into the bush was heading back out into the badlands of eastern Colorado to visits my parents. The mountains were something that made the sunsets striking and occasionally foretold of incoming storms, nothing more.

I don't know what I'd say to me from ten years ago. Or even five. Of course, depending upon your philosophical bent, the whole me thing is a phantasm anyway. There is no you or me only a moment in which the untrained mind tries to affix labels to make sense of said moment. However, such tangents are better reserved for late night rants over too much coffee and too little sleep where the parties involved are far too impressed with their own intelligence.

Thankfully, the ability to manipulate the quantum and go back and speak to ten years ago me is nigh on impossible at our current level of understanding. It would be bedlam otherwise. You know we'd all be doing it with years gone ghosts of ourselves. A bunch of if-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now revisions of such absurdity that would make Douglas Adams-if he wasn't quite dead already-cross his legs and blush.

It doesn't stop the mental exercise, now does it? Sometimes, I think I might tell me that there'll be times of nostalgia for those late nights in coffeehouses or on street corners, watching, reading, and chain smoking. But something about walking would make smoking not so fun. That there'd be a girl; a friend, and a good one at that, for quite a few years at first, who'd become something quite more, would be willing to jump off the end of world with me, sometimes being more aggressive about getting up the hill. I cannot think of anyone else crazy, tenacious, or gullible enough to have joined me in what is either the grandest of adventures or the greatest of follies.

"Will we have found enlightenment?" I imagine the me from ten years ago might ask. That heretical Tibetan Buddhist bookworm half-aspiration. 

"Bah! Anyone who thinks or says they're enlightened clearly isn't!" I'd snort. "But we both know that, now don't we?"

It's a curious mental exercise, which can degenerate into solipsistic circle-jerk if one is not careful. As much amusement I get out of that inquiry between Sabina and I, it really doesn't matter; the me of ten years ago is ten years gone. The me of here and now is in the here and now, and, when it comes down to brass tacks and bedposts, here and now is all I've got. Everything else is a memory or a jack-off fantasy.   

04 April 2012

"In All the World.."

I saw a ghost in a hallway, and it was hardly my fault. My particular quirks of how I handle phantasms from my past is not something I go out of my way to conceal. And, quite objectively, given my location along a major east-west route through the mountains, it was merely a matter of time.

***

The first time I saw her was in a vampire den, years and lifetimes ago. A rockabilly punk-rocker dancing to My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult's Sex on Wheels, her mohawk was quiet impressive to behold. She was interesting, but we didn't speak, and the passing glance may have been my own monkey watching gaze. A subject with interesting plumage, nothing more.

Two years later, my grandmother was dying and I was getting down and dirty with aspects of self-destruction through the effigy of a whiskey bottle. She was quite sweet on Lee, and, aside from that luminous, if not misguided, crush, her grandfather died just a few months before. It was then we started talking. Even though I tried to help her get to know my womanizing tattooing friend a little better, we found ourselves becoming friends as well.

We'd go dancing. To coffee. She was invited into my home for a dinner party once and painted the thankga for the Tibetan Wheel of Life on my graveyard jacket, something I'd wear with pride. For a couple of years, we were pretty tight.

The last time I saw her was shortly after my birthday, years ago. Things had gone down between the jewel-eyed girl and I that involved shards of broken glass, and sobriety was something of a novelty to me. We hung out and gave our respective hugs goodnight. Our acquaintance faded into the odd correspondence, disappearing into that nameless void where friendships go when they die.   

***

It had been a day of telling people where to go and suggest what to do when they got there. Nothing horrifically remarkable. No new tales to tell. But there was garbage to empty and warped closet door of which to argue with. It was after said argument I found myself turning into familiar rockabilly gait from a particular punk-rocker I once saw dancing in a vampire den.

As in many a ghost story, I froze; my mind struggling to come to grips with what the eyes were seeing. Trying to comprehend how real the moment was. As in all those ancient tales of macabre, I found myself unable to react.

"Whoa," she said. "Of all the places in all the world..."

 I was still more than a little mute. My head cocked to the side inquisitively. Somewhere, my intellect was staggering through the quicksand and molasses of shock, trying to get its bearings.

"What are you doing here?" She asked.

"Getting ready to pull the trash," not the quickest of answers, even in the best of times, but I'd at least regained the use of my tongue and vocal cords.

And, from that bit of awkward flippancy, we started to play ketchup from the years and lifetimes since we'd spoken. She told me of having a four and a half year old daughter and was shocked to hear mine was nearly eighteen. Once upon a time, I was the rarity, being a parent. Nowadays, the shock comes in the reminding that my whelp is at least ten years older than oldest of many of my friend's offspring.

We hugged, verified numbers, and made the necessary noises of keeping in touch. From there, we went our separate ways. She was roadtripping to Viva! Las Vegas! and I had trash to pull before I went to tell a few other travelers where to go and suggest what they did when they got there.

So it goes...

Much later, I question our sincerity. Not that either of us maliciously during that unintended seance of memory deceived the other. In the moment, I think we both meant to try to stay in touch, and maybe mean it still. But, as our encounter fades into either, I wonder if the courage of conviction will remain, or, like the memories, will wander off to that void where friendships go when they die.    

02 April 2012

Level of Involvement

Over the course of our acquaintance, I'm pretty sure I've mentioned I'm not much of a joiner.Even if it somehow hasn't come up, I'm sure it's somehow became apparent. There are certain qualities I seem to exude, and not being particularly interested in whether or not I'm part of something is supposedly one of them.

And yes, it's true, I've been known to land myself in situations under the auspice of shutting someone up. My stint with vampire caste, down below, and ending up the historical society's board are shinning examples of this. Perhaps I am given to just a little curiosity, if not outright hypocrisy. After all, those experiences did provide me with memories, stories, and things I might not have exposed myself to otherwise, and maybe I should at least be a little grateful for that.

By virtue of what I do for money I have found myself a little more involved with historic preservation, and, sickeningly enough, local politics than I anticipated. There's a joke around where I live, you end up serving as Lord Mayor or on the Board of Trusties by virtue of eventually it becomes your turn. Anytime this has been brought up around me I tend to snarl.

"My grandparents were the politicians," I'll say, and leave it at that.

I do vote, for that was the way I was raised, and I do keep myself informed because that is, to my mind, something a thinking person does. But that's about it. I'm not given to going to rallies or wearing a candidate's button because that seems like an awful lot of commitment, which could border upon lynch mob mentality if the conditions are just right. 

Yet my level of involvement seems to be becoming a little more than just being a perpetual watcher, and I am quiet unsure how to approach the subject...

The next time the sun rises, our funky little mountain hamlet will be holding its civil elections. In a township of two-hundred, not including drop-ins, dogs, and ground squirrels, this may not sound terribly impressive, and, depending on the level of small-town intrigue, it isn't. Still, someone needs to help count ballots.

How my name got brought up, when I first spoken to about it, or what motivated me to say sure have slipped my mind. But there it is; my name's listed in the election as one of the judges. Perhaps, back in the antiquity of the mining days, such a position might have been a little more glamorous. As it stands, I figure I'll be finishing up reading Tarzan between the occasional bits of small town civilities.

Part of me wonders how my grandparents would've taken this, knowing this about as political as I intend to get? I could speculate, but then again, I'm sure it's come up over the course of our acquaintance that I think it's vanity to second-guess the dead. Not that it matters; I might collect a story and expose myself to something I might not have otherwise, and maybe I should be grateful for that.