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Chapters 9 through 11
exerpted from lucidity and dream
it is becoming excruciating to relate what i see around me. i am afraid of writing my daily life into this book because so many novels have tragic endings, and this seems to make a strong possibility of tragedy entering my life again, and soon. a superstition i'll have to rid myself of.
tonight we went to a concert, i was glad to get out and see people performing, but when i am in the crowd, though i admire the musicians for doing something creative with their life, i am not shivering with admiration unless i see a pure original take the stage, which happens so rarely.
while we were there, my girlfriend pulled me outside and told me that she had seen a man in the audience who had molested her when she was a child. i remembered the story she told me, how at a babysitter's house at the age of six she had been dragged off several times by this guy, and how he touched her crotch, and fortunately didn't take it any further. and how my stomach sank and sickened when she began to tell me about it, then relaxed when she said that after several occurrences she had fought him off as he held her in the air, bashing her little fists on his face. she scared him off then and he never came back. and i looked at her with love and pride, thinking of her little 40-pound body thrashing in his arms, gaining strength, fighting him off. she's still so petite, so tiny but so sinewy, strong for her size, she's told me about how she used to outdo the other girls in gym class with ease.
we had walked down the stairs, me not aware of what she was about to tell me. and then we stood next to a brick wall, outside, the music muted indoors, and she told me that she saw him in the crowd, recognized him. i was filled with dread at how this issue seems to confront me so often, how many people i have met who were molested as children, how many of them have to fight off horrible thoughts and visions every day because of it. when we walked back inside to watch the rest of the show she pointed him out to me. how could this person be enjoying the same music that i was enjoying, bobbing his head to it? he was small, i had hoped and feared that he would be formidable, but he looked tiny. my senses were overloaded with emotion, then i was numbed, seeing his small neatly-trimmed head bobbing in front of me, i noticed that most of the men in the building were shorter than me, that i had grown tall and muscular enough to take most of them, a strange sensation for someone who's felt weak for most of his life. now i see over the molester's head the bassist playing wildly, consumed with the joy of communicating emotion. and how can they be in the same room, these two, and me watching them, and i can feel my body gliding forward, my arms wrapping around his small frame from behind, the muscles in my back contracting as i crush his throat and lower him gently to the floor, suffocating him, never letting him know the reason. or dragging him onto the sidewalk and breaking him, just stomping on his body over and over again, shattering his beer-bottle in his mouth. why do i have to know this darkness, feel these things, see him living in front of me, hoping that his own nightmares punish him for what he did. but i look at her standing next to me, that she has overcome him, that she could probably beat him up herself. i wanted to at least confront him with my knowledge of what he had done, glare at him on the sidewalk, make him understand that what he did was not erased, not forgotten. the music ended, the bass player with a flourish, and a sweaty, friendly smile, the sun and the opposite of the sun in the same room with each other. but the sun has no opposite. it is not that simple. the guy turned around to go, and i wanted to crash my elbow through his teeth. i had drawn her closer to me during the music, now held her to my chest tightly as he passed and brushed us as he passed, the hands that once touched her too early clutching a small bottle of beer. and my visions of retribution faded--he was even smaller than i had expected, looking fifteen despite being in his late twenties. his face was wimpy, pathetic, nondescript, his body not thin or fat, just small and unimpressive, round-shouldered.. i suppose i had been looking for a guy 6'5 or so with fangs and a scythe under his arm? i did not know how to deal with this, not after preparing for an onset of my own cowardice at confronting him. that i had been ready to deal with--but not this, this sickening feeling of how easy it would be to kill him, mangle his pale soft body with my hands. i felt my facial features harden into a sheen of marble, my arms flexing, ready to propel my hands into other human flesh, as the music wound down and the cymbals crashed, unable to fully absorb either the beauty or the horror in the room. and now i still wanted to confront him, but the feeling was different now that i had seen his vulnerable little boy's face, his weak hands. what would i do now, drag him off the sidewalk as he left the club, sit down on a park bench with him over my knee and spank him? he was like a white lab-rat, not the pit bull i had hoped to confront and be torn by, as i tore back.
have we defeated him through love? we caress each other gently as we drive home from the show, gently loving each other, our caresses getting more intense as we drive. i see the billboards passing, the phoniness of every street corner, and think back on the scene after the show--people greeting each other, smiling hugely, sweaty with expelled energy, full of love, and me outside them unable to speak to the surrounding people, alone in a city of unknown people, filled with a darkness that was not apparently on their minds. then i go back to looking at the billboards, and it occurs to me with horror. that this society, that paints over itself every day with a false veneer, that offers such vapid entertainments and arts, that has so many philanthropic agencies that seem to help nobody, is the perfect cover for a child molester--the denial of reality, the pretending that everything is wonderful in america when it is crumbling around us, the cities now empty of meaning. this glossy finish, this lie, these empty portrayals of human life--i had thought that they were merely stupid and annoying, now i saw once and for all that they were evil, and that anyone who denied the complexity of the human animal was extending the evil. i remembered again seeing on tv terrorists referred to as "pure evil", and knew that every time one man denied that another who did evil was anything other than human, when he tried to make his enemy a monster or a manifestation of pure evil, that he was a liar, helping to extend the evil with his ignorance. it is painful to face just how prevalent molestation is--no wonder they escape into vapidity, but every time you indulge your instinct for escapism you are denying life, extending evil. i have a vision of greater honesty in me, a vision that will never happen until the end of humanity because it would destroy all societies and force them to be rebuilt. i think of a president admitting, in coarse everyday language, that he received a blowjob from an intern. and i know that this world will never happen. and i sit now in the desolate apartment, my girlfriend sleeping elsewhere, i want to have my strong arms encompassing her, want to build a wall around her with myself.
i keep seeing his silly-looking face, and keep feeling the strange disappointment at the weakness of the opposition. and i know that a person who has done something monstrous can look like a weak child. they have lied, the people who talk of abusers as monsters--they are all too human, often pathetic, embarrassed, and boring to look at. i saw two evils, one that was puny and one that gave him shelter--what better place to hide than in a society that denies all human nature, all human individuality, but especially denies powerful human impulses both good and bad? i see in my memories back in highschool years a clean kitchen, an immaculate bathroom, a polite couple, everything perfectly organized, and this was in the house of a man who fucked his child in the ass when the kid was barely older than a toddler. and i saw his face cracked with stress but otherwise well-kept, his comments careful and polite, his manner courteous. i have seen these things over and over with my own eyes, and i am tired of them. and i am no longer sure why i want to live on a planet such as this, where people who do these things will be provided with the opportunity to cover this evil. after all, when merit is placed so much on superficial things, on making money and having the traditional belongings, it's easy for evil to hide, isn't it? this man had all of it, right down to the grill in his well-groomed backyard. when so much importance is based on appearance and on the earning of money at all costs, no matter what the moral implications of the job being done, it's so easy for evil to hide. and never again will i kid myself into believing that this society is anything but evil, so corrupt that it cannot be repaired but must be completely overhauled, started over, stripped down to the necessities. i want to be an irritant, a thorn in it's side, and will never again think that this is a perverse thing to strive for. for it is noble, and beautiful, and the only thing left for me, to scratch at it in one way or another until i die.
i fall asleep and in the dream the world is swept clean. the parking lot that i walk through is empty, and i see a shopping complex where one small restaurant is lighted, and a mane of hair inside it, her hair seeming to take up the seats and the tables, flowing across them, i occasionally lose my clarity in one of the strands--i get closer to the doorway and walk through a row of trash barrels on fire, their contents every article you can imagine, every possession that i've ever seen. i draw closer to the restaurant and recognize it, the pillow churning under my head, i don't want to wake up. the parking lot is clear except for her car, which is burning too, it's trunk and hood opened to the breeze, the fire black with urgent smoke whipped by the breeze, but i feel no breeze. has the world ended, is this the afterlife or the wreckage that precedes it? but the barrels are lined up into the horizon, the tar is endless, i see just a drape of black air behind me, as if i had entered a computer generated environment that is not yet completed. i open the glass door and she sits there, her hair flowing across the room and muffling the jukebox, and i whirl around again and again, the doorway to the bathroom is sealed off by plaster, the door denied behind it. it is beginning to end, our lives as humans. i reach into my pants and feel for my anus unsure of why--am i trying to arouse myself? i feel the pucker of it there, but it has grown together, there is no more opening. so now i have time to sit and talk to her, there are no more tumors in this world, i assume. and not even a need to go to the bathroom. but she tilts her head and i see a polyp on the inside of her nostril, she still has the cancer re-growing, and she looks at me with a face emptied of any weakness or sadness, and says without opening her mouth that this is not the end, but the beginning of it, that god is somewhere behind that black veil, behind the trash-barrels smoking with man's possessions, i see my lover lying on a postcard that is lying atop a menu and she is strapped to a timer at the bottom of a meteorite crater with a stick of fresh dynamite jammed in her protesting cunt, they have left her there but the image is airbrushed, all the girl at the restaurant sees is another girl in a bright bikini, while i see this horror.
i have been given another chance at this encounter, but i see myself flashing in the bathroom mirror before i fell asleep, my tongue rolled up inside my mouth like that of a frog, it's hinge hidden, and i am unable to operate it. i sit down and the meal is the same that we ate the first time. now i can concentrate on this encounter, now that the earth has been cleared of rubbish, simplified, and the tar stretching into infinity, the landscape made obvious. i see grains of rice spread on the tar between the painted parking-lines, nothing growing. have we been left alone here at the end of time in order to talk plainly? i know that the last time we spoke at this table i was emotionally constipated, sure of my approaching death, now i have no aches in my body and i am ready to speak to her, but this inoperable tongue is inside my mouth. i want to clear aside mystery and speak to her plainly but there are too many mysteries and i have never seen the face of god, so what is it that i can tell her? and she said to me in another lifetime before this table was covered with plaster dust and brain fluid that it must make life easier to have belief in god, i said, hah!, what a joke, i wish that i thought life were a game, that i could run through a dream life this raping, forcing them all down on the sidewalk to rim and blow me, my pants around my ankles in a dream i cannot run from. to be a soldier in a movie that doesn't end, running through the village with an arousal. the tar scrapes my knees. the dream is rewound and i am outside the restaurant again, i open the door and fall into her hair growing into the rugs, i remember her saying to me that some people just can't believe in god and i believe her, believe her, but who will save those people, who will redeem them? when i wake up in the apartment i will see a picture of jesus, his eyes stupid and cartoon, his expression of pious suffering comical, insulting, and i will put my foot through it, but the wall behind it will open up too, and i will be evicted, again and again the landlord comes up the stairs threatening to call the police and i shove him down the stairs onto a table full of cactuses, the needles breaking on his thick overcoat, i'm glad i haven't hurt him too badly. i sit in an emptied room and wake up from the dream slowly, after the mumbles about an empty restaurant invade my loving caresses to my girlfriend. do i want her to be my wife in a place where marriage has become a document? i will be reborn into another world, as i walk an old road past wrecked cars buried in high over-reaching roots in the bowels of florida, the lines of states rearranged, the trash barrels smoking in the retreating sun, all the possessions of man in them, the rusted steel, her hair filling the room and my mouth--the table empty and the tar coming over it in a slow computer-generated tide, this must be the end of the world but for a time it will remain like this, like this, a world of parking lots. as a child i descend into a foggy road, unaware of the tortured women i will meet later in life, as i stand alone and content in myself, pushing a piece of jagged detached ice across a square cement pond with a long broken branch. things have not connected to each other yet.
i remember the pretty face of a boy in the bus in front of me, how the city that passed over us and through us was just like another forest to him, and remembered these things, how i was a boy too and how i didn't try to connect things with other things, how the wrecks and the shine of everything was united in my eyes, and i think that i was wiser then, before i tried to find ways to justify the city and he smokestacks, attach some sensible human purpose to it all, and to the junkyards. i see the frogs come out of the cold mud under the sheen of ice, and their tongues point toward me surrounded by bright white birches, tongues stiffening through the ice, the replication of the patterns on the birches annoying me. now i have grown tired even of nature, and god has removed himself from me. i stand on a riverbank at night naked behind a hotel and feel him again as the breeze goes up my ass and i close my eyes and dream myself onto the edge of a cliff, with the challenge of the white waters below me, a tile floor under those rapids, a clean kitchen and a cleaner face, no more circles under my eyes, an easy choice, a world of no make-up, the rocks reaching into the clouds. an endless mountain. where i have slept in cars and tents and apartments and felt no difference anymore in the darkness, the air never purified.
i will move across town with my girlfriend, adjust quickly to the sights of a new room, and enjoy whatever time i have left to love her, not trying anymore to untangle my dreams that leave me turning on my ribs made huge by horrible imagination, my skeleton expanding in the last dream. the man i saw singing onstage last night was named mike watt and he sang about how a tumor burst in his body and he was able to live on afterward, maybe the same will happen to me. i remember being a vagrant and one afternoon i sat in the graveyard, the only place i was left alone, and slept there through the afternoon. when i woke i hated the grim acknowledging of death all around me, and found a desolate hill that the farmers had abandoned, left there in the sun with it's blades of grass left bent just for me to lie down on, but when i did i felt spikes reaching through it, they turned out to be just stiff straw, but now when i make love to her i think i may be exposing her to some disease. but on that day, lying in the sun in hopes that it would obscure the tiredness of my face, as i had exhausted my resources, run out of friends to stay with and unable to find a job that wouldn't tax my sanity, i sat there on the curve of the earth and my soul might as well have been the clump of lint in my pocket, i felt relief at my impossibility waking in the graveyard, the smell of the dead granite around me, the chalky white blue vanillas of the gravestones, the goddamned dull archaic font of them around me. and the grass fresh under my hands and my cheek, being told by the police that i cannot sleep here as apple blossoms attack the horribly placid air with their scents around us, over the shoulder of a cop who i would like to kill with a pencil through the throat i see the apple blossoms unfolding, the breath of morning being exhaled over his shoulder, i remember the sandbar and the waves rippling over it on my vacation, and i want to return there, where i sat in the water with no fear of sharks, my family mute in the salty wind behind me, legs folded up underneath them on the beach.
the dream continues, the air rushes silently through the holes in the apartment walls while i sleep, i fell asleep at dawn and saw the light coming through the jagged holes in the wall around me, as if they were the beginning of the end of reality. i am in the restaurant and the conversation is brief over the checkered tablecloth, how can anything so traditional exist in this dream that has wiped out so much of the landscape, then she tells me across the table that i should not have been so cold when we met, that this is not a dream but just the future happening too early, all the blanks haven't been filled in yet so we are brought backwards in time to this encounter, given by god's purposeful mistakes some time to correct the insensitivity of the past. and i do not question her as to why she know this. i do not question anything anymore. when i wake i am further back in time, standing in a restaurant bathroom shaving, the people giving me weird looks as they pass in and out, not knowing that i am a vagrant and have to shave at this sink. i wake up in the backseat of a car whose battery is running out, parked between pine trees, and know that the fire of existence is in me, that i will accomplish great things, that the branches obscuring me, climbing up in the night, will end their endless rungs, their bark-painted procession. i wake and i wake and the sink-drains of all the mirrors i shave in front of descend with white rushing sounds into hell, again i am at the top of a tiled waterfall, a waterfall of smashing mirrors, there is no dry place to stand, my clothes cling to me and i pretend i am in an action movie, but the billboards float by and the cars bubble with neckties in the water next to them, and i am waiting to fall down it's throat, i am waiting for them to stop staring at me, later than night i wake up and feel my face in the cramped blue interior of the backseat, the skin is smooth and well-shaven, i haven't missed a spot. so i can still piece the procession of my life together.
when i exit the restaurant the dream is forgotten and i do not know what she has said to me, whether she loves or hates me, and the trash-barrels line up with me into the sunset, the clouds motionless, the books closed on the floor of the bookstore where i used to escape, the shelves collapsed. i am living at the end of the world; and i am writing after it.
i brush my teeth and am aware of time.
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