Thursday, April 27th, 2017 – 7:42 pm
Fuck your fiction, fanboy. I’ll tell you too much truth to face your fears or trust again mere eyes and ears. Knowing better, we wise in years, or so we ought. Do you believe in gods and monsters? How could you not?
My philosophy evolved rapidly after finding my first Playboy at four or five. When I first spied every curve and pink and soft and strange, I thought I heard angels sing. I still do. Lesson learned. Adults greedily secret the best treats for themselves, but we devout dig hidden treasure from riddled trash.
Still in tender shoot, I mapped every inch of my first of many homes. I was born an already old and wounded soul, fated for sparks, fits of rage facing upward for each stunted stage. I was not born merely curious. I was herded by brunts and bents unworldly.
I found the quality of dad’s razor blades top shelf. I hid the slices of vandalism and her bleeding vandal with aplomb that was equal. I later found a few of my favorite future decades drenched in a liquid gold, magically hidden in cans, flat, never cold.
I am your ghost, slipping silent between day and night, dream and reason, charmed and invisible. I found new and timeless trouble under the covers and in grainy comic horrors. Vaults of vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons and witches in black and white called to me to steal a cold peak by day and then debrief in dream each night.
I told my dad of visions of lakes of lava and lumbering, rotted corpses poisoning me for eternity with a touch even slight of their corrupt destiny. He brushed it off. When I told him of ghostlike girls transparent and duplicitous, waking me without a word, he suspected my high fevers or those two head hits that carried concussion and loss of consciousness.
Moving from the military base to the apartments by the university, I went through rapid, marked changes, both behavioral and cognitive. Are you a sinner or a saint? How about a savior, sinned by grays, a skeptic killed believer? Do you suspect my crimes are neurological or spiritual?
Enlighten me, professor or prophet.
A special education teacher, my father knew something was special with his two oldest. At five, I asked dad to teach me his favorites, chess and guitar, and I was rapidly beyond him in both. His precise, timed tests showed Paul and I both had genius level IQs. Had it not been the Seventies and our rocking drunk tank excuse of a home such an empathy vacuum, dad might have noticed that Paul had autism and I had severe PTSD, birthed by his own bloody beatings.
Had he already become the suddenly forgiven Pentecostal, he might have suspected I had a demon. Some saints whom I’ve watched sway in the pews beside him still think I possess some potential.
What does my dad who recently died think now from the other side? Does he feel a twinge of regret at his broken boy? Is there still any pain left over after soothe of ether? But then again, how could lows measure without the highs of pleasure?
My first deliberately set blaze large enough to require a fire truck was born in the dumpster I daily, dutifully dragged dad’s trash. But luck be a fucker tonight, I was busted by a broad in daylight. Blurry eyed and surely stoned, the anonymous snitch in the apartment complex witnessed my felonious genesis and attempted exodus.
That ushered a special spanking where red and raw remained long and white turned blue overnight. Weeks later, dad witnessed my blatant coercion of Paul and the neighbor to throw rocks at the passing… wait for it… wait for it… I said wait… NOW… the passing Ferrari. Four decades hence, Paul well remembers our beating as particularly epic.
Almost all my ghost stories are easily sorted in both grades and grand new cities, for each one was married anew to yet another. In the third grade i.e. Rhonert Park, dad first heard familiar screams in the night and saw me wondering and wandering in dark as easily as light. He read somewhere, assuredly scholarly, to not wake up sleepwalkers, but the next morning enjoyed broadcasting the details of me peeing in the tub and flushing the toilet before my walking back to bed.
He later caught me shocking myself repeatedly, deliberately with paper clips and bobby pins and bathroom sockets. It did not occur to him to ask how or why such pain and stark stimuli would give a child a twisted sense of release and relief.
He saw me charge bloodied and blissed into Paul’s gloved punches, sometimes ten at a time, if it meant I got to land just one hit. My berserker passion can be dispiriting and disorienting to the recipients. I can conjure whole worlds where I redefine pain as a pause, albeit pregnant. I feel exactly what I choose to feel and when I choose to feel it.
A father witnessed his wounded boy walking for weeks, calmly climbing into closets, dark nights each. He did not know about my invisible friends, the visitors inside. How could he possibly know about the dire presence in the back, the one with the cold and the gray, the pins of past and future of needles, the esoteric static shooting through body and soul?
Do you believe in magic? Do you buy into other worlds and deeper dimensions, that prayers open portals? How could you not?
Paralyzed in word and will only, a zombie with eyes of understanding, I was forbidden even a scrap of stray scream as the presence called me and stood my feet, walking me in to a deep freeze, again and again and again and again. Back in black, it would test my resolve. Was it an angel or alien, deity or demon? Or perhaps past versions of sin and self crying for freedom, begging for a normal human touch, one without typical sting and shame.
The stubborn spirit called to me each new witching hour and I watched my own body betray me, over and over. Once in a closet, it would slowly wind and work to erase and usurp. For weeks. Maybe months. I fought it each night. I knew little of its intent but was aware of a malevolence. Each time it touched me, I would lose my sense of self and consciousness.
I was eight.
What do you do with your third grader who’s astute enough a student to complete the class assignments compiled for your college kids? Throw at him enough mystic and missed information and he might map the meaning of an almost lifelike life, just like Monty Python tried. A hitchhiker disguised to the galaxy claims the same understanding of our purpose, but in number only. For deed, too. Maybe he speaks in rhymes and riddles, assuming he is the only one worth listening two.
To the left of a door to another reality, still hangs the poem I would decipher each morning. Carefully crafted cries and clues, penned with glitter and gold Artex tubes. Of necessity, I invented and overscheduled meticulously, everything from death and life and art and love and music and mayhem and prophecy and punishing into each newest twenty four hour iteration of me.
I even set aside time each day just for this poem. Something tangible beside myself to hang in my cell, the fabric verse of goop and glitter was mine to read and reread, decode, collate, parse and strive for meaning behind the magic, salvation beyond spirits black and white, gray and static. Outside of the closet lived aged maxims and nagging questions.
Each sunup, a cheap parchment would beg an answer to the hypocrisy and irony and confusion, taunting me over obvious tyranny and trauma and tragedy.
To the left of a drab universe, disguised as a door mundane, a promise of dreams and needles, pinned terrors soothed only by the calm of shadow.
The walls longs torn, there yet hangs my vain, vague verse. I still study it silently each sunrise:
Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.