Friday, June 15, 2018

2 Minutes. Go!

Write whatever you want in the 'comments' section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play.

You’re an old man now, and I don’t want to open it up, but I don’t want it to stay shut. I’m tired of these conflicting narratives. Because either I’m insane or we are not on the same page. And I’m a little crazy, but I’m not insane. My memory works surprising well. For traumas at least.

I don’t remember too many good times. I’m not saying they didn’t happen, but I’m saying you’ve got the balance twisted. I suffered because when you shoved, I resisted. When you balked, I insisted.

I’d like to blow the whole thing up, but I’d be crushed if you still missed it.

I’m sorry you didn’t get what you were looking for – that’s a frustrating feeling. I know. But I also know that you didn’t do too bad with the old dice toss. I’ve seen worse. And what I feel is loss.

I was angry for so long, and it didn’t serve me well. Now, I’m spinning circles in a wildflower field, thinking.

What. The. Hell?

That’s the part that makes me feel lost. I’ve been so many places that I didn’t come from any of them. And we all just pretend that’s normal.

It’s not normal. And it’s not cool now. And it certainly wasn’t cool then.

That’s probably why I picked up a pen. It’s the only way I can come close to getting Pandora’s box open. Get Someone to listen.

I can do tricks. I don’t know if anyone is entertained except me, but fuck you, because I do the shit for free. And that’s bad on me. I’m an idiot. You were right about that. You just didn’t know what kind of idiot I was. Not all of us idiots are bad.

I could have been the best idiot you ever had.

Instead, we circle each other forever. No one willing to throw the first punch. And I know now that it’s never going to happen. And that it’s going to get worse. Because when memory falters, we are all cursed.

And there will come a day when your idiotic self will lose all the filters you ever had – threadbare as they were. You will become the myth as you mature. Or you will stop pretending, and then I will wish I had never wished any of this.

Old man. You’ve done good things with your life. I’ve done some shit with mine. Yours looks better on paper. But I like mine just fine.

Let’s leave it like this. There have been days when the sun was like one long hug and the water was cool. There have been days where we laughed together at the absurdity of everything, and we stopped laying bricks in the wall for a few hours. That doesn’t make it all gravy, but it adds spice. Or counters the spice. Something.

It makes it more palatable.

I’m not mad, and I don’t want an apology. I have things I could apologize for, too. And that’s what I learn at the end of this trip.

You can’t walk together if you won’t share your shoes.

And you’re always afraid to lose. 

#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...

Friday, June 8, 2018

2 Minutes. Go!

Write whatever you want in the 'comments' section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play.

Beyond the sun-bleached hills, there lies a lake where, legend has it, a young boy once drowned. You can find them there in the summer now, the kids. And you can judge their personality by their proximity to the water. That group of kids trying to look tough and smoking cigarettes at the picnic tables by the parking lot? Those are the chicken-shit kids. They act like they’re not, but the lake is pretty and they prefer being next to the port-o-shitters. The kids on the grass? They know. They know it might be true. The kids that make it to the water’s edge won’t go in the water no matter how hot it is, but they know nothing is coming for them on the land. Then, there are the kids who either know and don’t give a fuck, know and give too much of a fuck. Or are just plain stupid. Or practical.

Their parents are cardboard bread people. They breathe in air and breathe out hypocritical, pseudo-episcopal nonsense.  They never mention the boy who may or may not have drowned. They are far more interested in comparing their trucks, talking about how many hours they work in a week, bragging about their lack of supplication to “the man” and planning extramarital affairs or interventions. They like the things they hate. And they yell at the things they love. Except for the ones who do it differently, but they are so few as to be statistically meaningless. 

The town is just a goddamn town. Two McDonald’s, two Starbucks, and one of every other fast food chain. A fancy restaurant. A roughneck sports bar that serves beer and wings. One diner. One café. One bookstore. Thousands of little old women reaching one yellow eye through the one-inch gap in the curtain that keeps the world out. The adults have given up completely. They don’t know it. What to call it. And, besides, they think it’s for the best. But I’m not here to mince words. You asked. So, I’m going to tell you. 

The High School football coach is loud and crass, but he has a good heart. He doesn’t mean to send kids to the hospital because their pupils are fucked and they can’t stop puking. He just likes him some football. Likes a good hit. There’s a painter in the town that won’t talk to anyone. She puts on airs and wears French clothes and has more money than most everyone else, but everyone hates her paintings. Objectively. They’re terrible. But valuable. The minister never molested anyone, but the town’s piano teacher has been doing it for years. 

There is one movie theater, and it’s old and rusted. There is one kid who sits in his room on 4chan, listening to metal, and wondering if he could ever shoot up his high school – he bets he could. He might. There is one mortuary and one cemetery where the dead kids will go. There is an ice cream parlor where the kids go when they want to hang out. And there is one donut shop where they go when they are high and paranoid and want to hang out. That, or the Rapid Roy. 

There is one town drunk … he’s from central casting. Looks like Woody Guthrie’s corpse and walks around talking about who all took his money. (The liquor store.)

There are 867 men who beat their wife and/or children. There are 134 women who do the same. There are 1,324 who would give their last dime to a neighbor in more need than themselves. There are a whole lot of people who are just cardboard. They get soggy when wet and love their TV sets. 

There is a combination sporting goods/toy store. 

There are wild things. There are few enough people that the wild things didn’t have to go too far, and the kids grow up knowing to watch their ass at all times. And not just because of the piano teacher. 

There is a tragedy that settles on this tin pan town when the sun goes down. There are tears that fall and memories that falter. There is one prostitute, but with what she’s been through, you can’t fault her. She is the queen of the black night. But it is in the twilight hours that the town is at its most vile – its most treacherous. That is the hour of the wolf and everyone can hear them howling through the forest that surrounds them, and the dry hills, and the lake, and the football coach. 

When you pass this town, you say a prayer – God, help all those people out there. They’re dying. Or they are doing just fine. 

Four more kids OD on fentanyl - add them to the list. 

There is a pair of osprey that live in the tallest tree that rims the lake. The ospreys don’t give a shit about any of the people. 

They're just fishing.

#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...

Friday, June 1, 2018

2 Minutes. Go!

Write whatever you want in the 'comments' section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play.

Ride with me.

He said it so simply. It wasn’t an order. It wasn’t a question. It was an affirmation. We are two dudes on motorcycles a long way from home. My bike was old and well used; his was new and compensating for some serious insecurities. Didn’t matter. We shook hands. Established our signals. Talked about riding style and how often to stop. Both of us wanted to make time. I pulled out in front. A rusty thumper with a chromed-out V-twin behind it.  Together, we sounded like some kind of Frankenstein bike.

Something unholy, but somehow right.

The first time we stopped was for coffee, but he could barely hold the cup. I almost made a joke about not being able to afford decent gear after all that chrome and custom paint. I didn’t. Then, I didn’t even want to. So what if this was new to him? Or if he was a weekend warrior? Who was I to judge? Just because I practically lived on my damn bike. I went to my saddlebags and brought back some goodies.

Put on this thermal underwear. This scarf – until you get a full-face helmet, keep your face and neck covered. Wear these shop gloves under your riding gloves. Keeps your fingers warm.

He smiled. Poured a slug of bourbon into my coffee and went to get warmed up. He came back smiling harder. It’s a certain kind of smile – I can’t describe it without making it sound stupid. I’ve been on the giving and receiving end. Sometimes you get by with a little help from your friends. Sometimes you get by with a little help from a stranger.

That underwear is gonna make a huge difference. Thanks, brother.

No problem. You ready?

He was ready, so I did a few deep knee bends until my left one popped that ugly, loud, snap that made my knee feel almost human. I stepped onto the peg and swung a leg over my gear. I felt the bourbon a little. Not too much. I heard the big Harley start up, and I waved him forward. I’d listen to his pipes for a little while. This wasn’t a tour after all.

I ain’t no tour guide.

The second stop, I called. My phone was ringing and wouldn’t stop. When I checked it my face must have done something because he looked real pale when I looked up.

You want a few minutes?

Yeah, brother, thanks.

There was no good reason for her to be calling me when she knew I was on the road.

Sorry, I was riding, what’s up?

Oh, Baby. I hate to tell you this over the phone. They couldn’t save him. I love you. Come home.

I had nothing to say to that, so I hung up the phone. Or pressed the fucking button. Whatever you call turning a phone off nowadays. I’ve never been good at crying. It’s like my face wants to. My body wants to. But it gets all twisted up inside and turns into pain – thick throat pain. The tears won’t come and it’s like emotional blue balls. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I wanted to set my bike on fire. Then, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

Everything OK, man?

Yeah. Well, no. No. Nothing is fucking OK. Friend of mine got run over a few days ago. Drunk truck driver. He was wearing all the gear, but that don’t matter when you get crushed. Still, they thought they might be able to save him. They couldn’t.

Jesus.

Yeah.

Jesus, I’m sorry man.

He passed the bourbon to me, and I took a long pull. I lit two cigarettes and handed him one.

He was a good rider. Real good. Better than me. But he was reckless. I wonder how much that played into things. And then I feel like a dick for thinking it. And my wife wants me to come home.

Will you?

Naw. I’m gonna finish the ride. I was going to see him. Hauling ass. Don’t have to haul ass anymore, but I still want to see his old lady. His kids.

You still want company?

Naw, I’d slow you down. Your bike is faster, and something tells me I’m gonna be riding extra slow for a while.

I didn’t ask if you thought it was smart. I asked if you wanted it.

I looked at him then. He was a middle-aged guy. White. No ink that I could see. He was probably an office type. He had that kind of doughy, pale skin. His hands were soft. I wasn’t judging him. I was just thinking we made an odd pair. And I felt a little like the ugly duckling.

I…

Actually, you don’t have a choice. I was just riding to ride. This is my vacation. Every year. I don’t get to ride much back home. So, I make sure I do this every year. So, I don’t even have a destination. And I’m not letting you ride the rest of this ride alone. Where do they live?

Virginia.

Let’s ride.

We stood up, and I could see him more clearly than I had before. We probably had very little in common except for gender and a love of motorcycles. That didn’t seem to matter to him. I wondered if it mattered to me and, if it did, what the hell kind of person did that make me? I was frozen. He could see it. Not cold like he’d been. I was frozen inside.

Hugging in motorcycle gear always feels awkward and manly and lame at the same time. But I welcomed his embrace. I took another slug of his whiskey. He slapped me on the back.

I’m awful sorry about your friend.

I know.

We rode together for three more days. We took the scenic route. We got to know each other. Turns out his name was Randy and he worked as the manager of a grocery store. Turned out my name was John, and I was hard to put into any category. It became kind of a game. And we became kind of friends. He went to the funeral with me. I don’t know if he had to stretch his vacation or not. I did know he needed to head home, and I wasn’t ready yet. We were sitting in their back yard. The kids were trying to have fun. I tapped his shoulder.

Ride with me.

We rode to into town. Found a bar. Had a few drinks.

I know it’s time for you to move on, brother. I can’t tell you how much this meant to me. You ride home fucking safe, OK?

I will. And don’t sweat it. You would have done the same thing.

We hugged. He rode off. I gave him time to get his stuff and clear out before I went back. I was wondering about what he said. About me doing the same thing.

Sometimes, I still wonder.

Write whatever you want in the 'comments' section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play.