Vengeance Is Okay, I Guess.

Vengeance is mine. What do I do with it?

Vengeance is mine. Now what?

Three and a half minutes.  That’s how long I can rub my hands together in fiendish glee, before even that gets boring.  I just timed it.  Kind of a let down.  Doesn’t make sense to make a hobby out of it.  Maybe I should get out the paints and see if being creative is still fun.  Not tonight though.

I found out that an arch nemesis is about to be destroyed.  The D.A. has him in the rack, and big iron bolts are clinking while he turns the crank.  Financially he is ruined.  All that remains to be seen is if he will do time.  Regardless, it’s not too early to call it.  Game Over.

The Blind Creature of Slime is crushed under the chariot wheels of  Justice. Voltar is victorious!  Time to leash the baying hounds.  Light the woods with fire.  Pour mead into our skull mugs.  Throat lusty ballads of plunder and pillage.  Invite the giant warlords to our victory feast.

Let us celebrate the smiting.  Let us quaff from our joy eternal.  While our foes eat flame in the Wasteland of Woe.

Drink up everybody.

Huh.

I thought I’d feel happier.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy.  It’s just that I thought I’d be happier.

Eight years I waited for this news.  And now, well, part of me  feels sorry for the guy.  What kind of bullshit is this?

Why oh Lord, must all my victories be Pyrrhic?

How can I expect to loiter among the gods with this stain across my suit?  This hot dog mustard of Humanity.

At least this one is karma-free.  I didn’t lift a finger, drop a dime, arrange anything.  He did it all to himself.  Like I knew he would.  Eventually.

I’ve stood by and watched this guy pull some scandalous shit over the years.  Screwed a lot of people.  Like me.  Most importantly.  Because I’m one of those people that don’t like to be fucked under deres, Pally.  Capezio?

I had all kinds of chances to sting back.  Trust me.  Figured out some good ones.  Couldn’t help it.  I slide into Evil Chess Master mode easily.  And this guy seemed to be designed for the express purpose of goading me to engage.  To bring down some Byzantine bitch slap.  Teach him what blind worship of Moloch can lead to.  Help him see The Light.  Steer him towards better citizenship.

But I never deployed.  Came close.  Started to squeeze, but never pulled the trigger of my V-Weapon.  Practicing restraint, you see.  Voltar was in the lap dance booth, but he was keeping his hands on the couch.

I can blame that on recovery.  The whole thing reeked of some kind of a spiritual test.  Biblical life that I now lead, I can smell a rat trap.  Too temping this cheese.  No.  My deal would require trusting that there would be some kind of justice.  Even without my vigilante assistance.

What can I say?  Voltar likes to experiment in his lab.  He wanted to see if all this shit was for real.  This spiritual angle.

It was hard.  The little fucker was getting away with murder.  So it seemed.  Dodging every projectile thrown by the angry mob.  Bobbing and weaving, but somehow remaining untouched.  Irritating to witness.  Frustrating to grasp.  Double-U, Tee, Eff.

It’s exactly at times like that , I would have expedited things.  How about we save the Universe all the trouble of arranging some karmic payback, and I just kick his ass right now?  You know, cut to the chase-o, Pedro.

Alas, my only weapon would be patience.  My only medicine a dyspeptic tonic of tolerance.  None of which I’d mastered or learned to stomach.  I would also have to holster my magic powers of cunning and deceit, and forsake any Machiavellian machinations.  Nor would I take advantage of the pro-bono attorney I had on speed dial.  Basically, I set myself up for an ambush.

For no other reason than it might keep me from drinking, which is my favorite thing to do.

Sounds perfect.  -Ly bad.  Where do I sign up?

He did fuck me under.  Many, many, many times.   And for the most part, I just took it.  Looking back, it was nothing I couldn’t recover from.  But he did make life harder.  Especially when I let him.

All the torrents of poisoned-tongued venom I held banging behind my teeth.  All the tight-lipped, wide-nostrilled attempts at civility.  Eye-lid spaz-flapping from the strain.  White knuckles stuck in pockets.  Mumbling my motherfucker mantra.  Trying to keep it together.  Keep cool.  Grip the imaginary neck.  Then let it go.

Good old-fashioned clenched teeth sobriety.

It’s not like I was an angel.  But the bad things I did do back to him, we’re downright saintly compared to what I had cooking upstairs.  There was a decided dial-down on the Nob of Wrath.  Whatever lashes I whipped back were involuntary.  Like when a friend unexpectedly chops you in the neck with an ironing board and you freak out on them, before realizing they were only fucking around.  Knee-jerk stuff.

Besides that, I would try to leave him to himself, and let what happens to him… just happen.  His fate I would see, like Ozzy said. “after forever.”

I can wait.

Tick.  Tick.  Tick.

Tick.

I didn’t realize Eternity was so long.

Tick.

“He’s a creature of God.  Perfect in his apparent imperfection.  A pilgrim on The Path.  Beloved by the Creator.”

And a total dick.  His personality poisons our pool with plague.  I strongly suggest destruction.

“Everything you hate about him, you possess within yourself.”

Yeah okay, sorry for giving the high-hat.  Go ahead and destroy us both.  Just don’t let him get away.

And so it would go.  Back and forth.  To and froward.  The struggle itself felt futile.  There didn’t seem to be any pay-off.

Until one day, we parted ways, and I forgot all about him.  He became an insignificant ghost in my mind.  Maybe I didn’t love him.  But I didn’t hate him anymore.  I had managed to climb as far as Indifference on the spiritual ladder.  What’s that like, good for a bronze?  Anyway, it was definitely short of Compassion.

Until today.  Like I said, now I kind of feel sorry for him.  A little.  It’s weird.

I know.  I’m getting soft in my old age.  But maybe we’re supposed to.  Ripen.  It’s what makes grandparents better than parents.  A little more of the unconditional love.  A little less Hammer of Thor.

We could all use a little less Hammer of Thor these days.  Shit is hard enough.  For everybody.

Unless of course, you’re just begging for a hammer blow.  And Thor really wants to deliver one.  A real smiter.  Something to make the anvil ring across valleys of Valhalla.  It’s golden echo sending black birds up from their trees–into red skies streaked with lightning.

Then we’ll have to honor that.  As well.  Accept it.  Like all the other stuff.

It’s just that some stuff is easier to accept.

You know what I mean?

V.

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It Could Be Worse, And Will Be If You Don’t Stop Crying

Not a bad beer, actually.

Not a bad beer, actually.

Right now I’m drinking a protein shake that I ruined by putting in some sort of green algae superfood powder.  I tried to make it more healthy, but I made it too healthy.  Now it tastes like shit.  Like a chocolate, metal, and grass smoothie.  I can taste every one of the essential whatevers in it.  The traces of Boron.  Copper.  Molybdenum.  Chlorophyll.

Fuck it.  At least I’m not actually eating grass.  I’m not having to eat grass because the Cossacks have burned the crops and raped our cows.  So it technically could be worse.  See how I fixed that?  “It could be worse” is like a magic wand.  Now this shake is delicious!

That’s at the core of my survival mechanism.  “It could be worse.”  Instilled in me from my parents.  And I guess one more thing I should appreciate them for.  I don’t know if it’s a Lithuanian thing.  Seems like it.  I’ll ask some friends.  I’m pretty sure it is.  At least from the war refugee crowd and their off-spring.

It was the closer for any shit storm my family had to go through.  Somebody would say, “It could be worse,” and we’d call it a night.  Clock out.  At least now you could brush your teeth and go to bed.  I imagine it’s a form of gratitude.  At least some distant cousin of it.  It doesn’t work so good in jail.  But sometimes you can use it in a hospital emergency room.  Tie up the evening’s festivities with an “It could be worse.”

“The more you bitch, the more God will give you something to bitch about,” was another of our cozy sayings.   I still stand by it.  It seems to be true.  At least in my personal experience.  I don’t know if it’s some cosmic truth.

Like “Nobody likes a pants-pisser in their bomb shelter.”

As insensitive as that one may sound.  There’s some folk wisdom there, albeit of the rough-hewn and gnarled variety.  Basically, panic begets more panic.  And then nothing gets done.  To fix things.  You have to keep your head and not cave into The Fear.  That’s how they made it through the war in Europe.  That’s how they made it here when they came.  They didn’t shit themselves.

They Didn’t Shit Themselves;  An American Success Story.

Anyway, it’s a tradition I’ve tried to uphold.

It’s a lot easier now that I’m not drinking my weight in beer. You know, deftly navigating my ship, The Rocinante, through the Stormy Seas of Destiny.

And holding my mud.

I’ve actually gotten a little braver without alcohol.  It’s taken some time, and then even more time to see it, but I think I’ve made progress.

It’s not like I’m ready to hold the pass at Thermopylae, but I don’t have to drink a six pack before opening my bills anymore.  Or need to drink eight beers to prime myself for the next beer run.  And now (may the heavens tremble at my might) I can kiss a girl with no beers at all.  I mean for me.  She’d still have to be hammered out of her skull.

So yeah, it’s nice, this whole not being too-drunk-to-deal-with-it-all deal.  And, no matter how terribly I may being dealing with it all, at least I’m not dealing with it drunk.  Because chances are my sober fucking-up would look like water-walking compared to my drunken version.

Of dealing with it all.

It’s an advantage a recovering alcoholic has over the normal person.  No matter what our shortcomings, if we stay sober we always have some golden straw to grasp.  Right?  At least that.  At least I’m still sober.

Have some normal person throw that one out.  See who golf claps him.  Big deal.  Shut up and have a drink.

Of course, there’s always the chance the recovering alcoholic will succumb to his/her fear, and then totally destroy their life in a final drunken death dance.

And that, my friends, is where the normal person regains the advantage.

By not doing that.

When things get tough.

Lucky fuckers.  That’s a good advantage.

However, if I do manage to stay sober, well then…I’ve shaved the house’s dice, haven’t I?  C’mon lucky seven, Daddy needs a new pair of pants.

He’s crapped this pair.

(See what I did there, Pauly?  Craps.  Pair of dice.  Pair of pants.  Nice, huh?  I like it)

I don’t know how many of my readers are in some sort of recovery, most probably only from last night’s barf-a-thon, but it’s one of those things ex-addicts and ex-drunks have to do.  We have to be grateful we’re not fucked up on our choice of magic carpet ride.  You take anything for granted long enough, be it a relationship, a car that runs, or some money in the bank, and chances are that something…is going to slip away.

Sobriety is just one of those things.  If you don’t pay enough attention, she can slink off.  Her high heels clacking away into the night.

I really don’t want to go back to drinking.  So I try to be grateful.

I figure that life can be hard enough just regular.  Look, in my own half-assed, duct-taped way, I try to work a program.  I pray to the Unifying Intelligence That Binds Creation, meditate on the perfection of The Silence, contemplate the goodness of all souls, work to be less selfish, admit when I’m wrong, try to be a good listener, help when I can, surrender when I can’t, lift weights, stay away from grains, and get enough Molybdenum .

Basic stuff.  And for the most part, I live a life filled with a lot of wonder, laughter and joy.

But sometimes… old demons stop by the pad and ask to use the bathroom.  Next thing I know, they’re camped out, ordering pizza and pay-for porn.  They’re not leaving anytime soon. Then I find myself treading shark-filled ocean, trying to keep my lips just above the water line.  I’m barely making it.  Barely.  And I’m not even drinking.

The last thing I need right then is a bowling ball necklace.

Let’s see how I do with crippled critical thinking.  After I impair my judgement.  Enough to tap into some creative problem-solving.  Become a drunken genius.  Now I can save the day with a master stroke.  Employ some bold solutions.   Just the thing for delicate problems.  A sledgehammer.  And the blind faith to use it.

So yeah.  It could be worse.

And if you’re drinking to solve something, all you got to do is keep it up.  And you’ll see.

Because it can always get worse.

And probably will.

So cheers to that.

Sorry for the buzz-kill.  I’m out of here.

–By the way, this fucking shake is growing on me.  It’s got a weird tang to it.  And I appreciate that from a chocolate shake.

.

Stopped crying.

Stopped crying.

My Hillbilly Heart

Two outlaw legends.

What luck! Two outlaw legends need a ride.

I think I should have been born a hillbilly.  I think that’s been the problem.  I needed to be around people who understood me.

I’ve been watching a lot of videos of outlaw hillbillies on the computer machine these days.  Mostly Jesco White and his clan of kin, raising hell in Boone County.  More bat-shit ballistic, cold-cocked ruthless, knocked-down, chopped-up and snorted party people you won’t find.  Not around these parts.  Really love Jesco.  Really love that whole family.  Hell, I just plain love hillbillies.

I admire how tough they are.  They’ve had more than their fair share of shit dumped on them.  People living in places where having a job mining coal is considered “doing well. ”  In other words, it goes down from there.  Tragic shit.

Jesco White, King of the mountain dancers.

Jesco White, King of the mountain dancers, on the fast track.

Exploited for ages.  Starved thin.  Shot up.  Beat down.  Sold out.  Black-lunged.  And somehow still proud.  If you can endure all that bullshit and still tap out a dance on the front porch, more power to you.  Nobody dances better than the poor.  That’s a historical fact.

As for the outlaw element, I figure they’ve earned a little rule-breaking slack.  Yes, yes.  We all must take personal responsibility for our actions blah blah.  But I see a lot of people not taking personal responsibility for their actions.  They’re farting up their golf pants on a resort island while some great idea of theirs has just ruined the lives of thousands of people.  And nobody setting the hounds on them.

Fuck it.  If you’re coming from such a depressed socioeconomic status, there’s nothing wrong with paying back society.  With a middle finger.  As a salute to it’s magnanimous largesse.

“Somebody say large ass?  C’mere Lulu Lee, an’ let me spank some of that big white!”

Gratitude.

Gratitude.

Hell.  Why not try and do as much as you can get away with?  If you’re basically fucked either way.  Might as well go ape shit.

Create some memories.  Something they can’t take awayI always say.

I’ve created a few memories.  In between all the stuff I can’t remember.  Some good.  Some not so.  But not everything about being bad was bad.  Just like not everything about being good is good.  It’s just better to be good.  So I have to go with that.  Maybe with a little resignation.  Maybe with the thought that I wouldn’t have to do this…if I was born a hillbilly.

Me without make up.

My natural default. Can I still get a ride?

Could be some past life thing.  Maybe because I was conceived in Kentucky, when my dad was stationed at Ft. Knox.  I don’t know.  But I get those people.  I think I’d find a comfortable niche in a community of moon-shining, tap-dancing, porch-swinging, substance-abusing, unlawfully-discharging-of-a-firearms folk.

Something about the lifestyle.

It appeals.

Not all of it.  The abject poverty is a downer.  Not a fan of any racism, xenophobia, or inbreeding either.  Early death due to accident, sickness or murder are also bummers.

But karate-kicking the Jack Daniels mirror my cousin Keith won at the carnival in Brokewood–right out of ol’ boy’s hands?

Well, that sounds like a gas.

Especially if it had his last line of coke on it.

“How do you like that, boy?”

“You done stirred up a hornet’s nest of shit, son.”

Both of us scrambling for a shard of broken glass. “Only Daddy That Will Walk The Line,” playing on the stereophonic record player we stole from the Goodwill.  Granny on the rocker, gumming us a grin from behind her huffin’ rag.  Uncle Willie tapping out The Death Row Shuffle on the curling linoleum in the kitchen.  My hound dog, Boone, howling at an outhouse moon.

I can get into that.

Or going to the gasoline cart races.  Swilling half-gallon cups of beer.  Watching the cars go around the track.  Cheering when someone crashes.  Booing when someone wins.  Karate chopping my cousin Keith in the neck for no reason while stumbling back to parking lot.  Jumping the security guards sent to break up our fight.  Gassing them with their own pepper spray.  Mountain dancing on the hood of their squad car while they cough and vomit.  Then throwing a brick through the rear window before we bolt.

Me and Keith laughing as we roar out of there.

My 1970 Chevelle SS dragging caution tape tied to pylons.

Out to the back-roads.

And sweet freedom.

The money I saved by not fixing my teeth going under the hood of the beast we ride.

Cracking cold beers.  Ripping bong loads while driving with the knees at eighty-seven miles per hour.  The air-blower vacuuming up the white lines in the road.  Shooting at mailboxes with the .410 snake charmer we stole from his uncle, who’s also my dad, who’s now married to his mom, who is a stripper, that’s also good for pills.

That part would be cool, too.

"Hey, I need a ride to my truck."

“Hey, I need a ride to my truck.”

I’d want to cultivate a dangerous drifter look.  When I say “cultivate” I mean “naturally default to.”  Just walk around as the gnarly mess God meant me to be.  Let my hair go greasy.  Grow some stubble.  Let the gut lap.  Don the foam cap.  Start chewing plugs of tobacco tar–the dripping juice staining my red beard with black streaks.

Tattoo “Born too Loose,” on my forearm with a needle wrapped in string.

In Hillbilly Heaven, I’d live off Ramen and roadkill.  Canned beans and beer.  White lightning and black-powdered adrenaline.

I’d shoot empty bottles off my cocktail table.  Torch my tool shed just to watch the sparks fly up into the night sky.  Rock some large pile of woman back and forth in my rickety trailer while listening to Black Oak Arkansas.  Chain-smoke Pall Malls.  Pick at my electric cigar box guitar.  Take long pulls from the jelly jar.  Cough from the burn of liquid fire.  Jump straight out of my Lazy-Boy and knock out another of Keith’s meth-loosened teeth.  This time with a badminton racket I found in the neighbor’s yard.

“Jim Dandy’s not comin’ to your rescue, beeeyahtch!”

SWAP!

All because I could.

Ain't got a squad car? Hop a table.

Ain’t got a squad car? Hop a table.

The freedom.  The liberation.  Just the idea of it gives off some pretty potent vapors to huff on.  Activates the reptilian part of my brain.  The part I try to keep in check now.  So I can be the good citizen.  And stay out of the evening news.

The problem is that after sustaining long periods of good citizenshiphood, even in my doddering middle-age, I find myself hankerin’ for a heapin’ helpin’ of misbehavin’.  I miss courtin’ Miss Mayhem.  It’s the same irrational fond-recollectioning I do for some of the women that had made my life hell.

Or for booze.

You only remember scenes from the highlights reel.  A reel edited with Leni Riefenstahl propaganda wizardry.  Triumph of The Self-Will, if…you will.  All the brutally painful scenes left on the cutting room floor.  Only replaying the fun parts.

I selectively reminisce, then find myself longing for a long-lost self–a part of me that doesn’t get to come out to play anymore.  It’s easy to feel sorry for him.  Miss him.  And wish he wasn’t grounded…for life.

You know you gotta keep him locked in the root cellar.  Feed him under the door.  But that guy doesn’t die-off easily.

Fuck, he’s proved it.

So I better try to deal with him as best as I can.  While he’s still hanging around.

In early sobriety, I had to play a lot of Grand Theft Auto on the video machine.  Just to safely ween myself from some of my real hobbies.  Today, I  like to watch others run amok.  Soccer riots.  Public brawls.  Cage matches.  Russian mafia gunfights.  There’s always something to hold my interest on YouTube.

Basically, to let me live vicariously.

Anyway, it’s just something nice to think of.  Dream about.  Remember.  Whenever my goody-two-shoes start to pinch.  It’s good to remember what not giving a fuck feels like.  Maybe keep a little of it stuck in my sock.  For in case.

It sure helps knowing you already filled up on enough bad.  Earlier.  Really topped off the tank.

Enough to last you through a really long pursuit.

.

Young hillbilly in exile.

Young hillbilly in exile, looking for a ride.