Nut Jobs I’ve Known; #147

Mud Shark BluesInterested Gentleman

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I’ve met a few.  Over the years I’ve made the acquaintance of one or two…hundred.  Collected them all.  All brands.  All flavors.  The full spectrum.  Weirdos.  Oddballs.  Freaks.  Colorful crackpots.  Entertaining eccentrics.  Whimsical fruitcakes.  Absent-minded mystics.  Neurotic non-conformists.  Fevered visionaries.  The bat-chain insane.  Deviants.  Sociopaths.  Compulsive liars.  Babbling idiots.  Tortured geniuses.  Paranoid parolees.  Cross-addicted dope fiends.  Chemically-imbalanced cutters.  Klepto-Dipso-Nympho-maniacs.  Bi-polar bulimics.  Dual-diagnosed uni-brows.  Didn’t matter.  If they were haunted or hunted–they swarmed my front door like summer bugs to porch light.

I’m not sure why they sought me out.   Probably felt some sort of affinity or kinship.  Probably sensed I wouldn’t be too judgey.  Probably thought they found safe harbor.

I know I felt compelled to provide it.  I tried to be friendly.  Call it Stray Dog Syndrome, but I’d take them in.  Give them a chance to relax and talk freely.  I figured no matter what Beefheartian parade music they were marching to, or living nightmare they were enduring, they were doing the best they could.  In their own fucked-up way, they were just trying to make it.  Like everybody else.  They deserved a break from the withering blows.  A little breather in between beatings.  They were yearning to breathe free and I would be their Statue of Liberty.

"Looks like Sexy Webster is up early for breakfast duty. Nice! Don't burn my bacon, bro"

Looks like Sexy Webster is up early for breakfast duty. Nice! Don’t burn my bacon, bro

Besides, I knew what it was like to feel different or not understood.  It gets lonely.  Frustrating.  Depressing.  One is more apt to breakout in bad behavior.  Which is different than just flying your freak flag high.  Bad behavior means somebody winds up getting hurt.  And that’s no fun.  Not in the long run at least.  That’s why I did my best to cut them slack.  Made the effort to be respectful.  Tolerant.  Understanding.

But I also hid my wallet and extra beers.  Made sure to stash any medicine or solvents.   Kept the croquet mallet handy.

"Easy there, Sinbad. Watch the bong."

Easy there, Sinbad. Watch the bong.

Things didn’t always go well.  There were the usual misunderstandings, hurt feelings, broken promises, raised voices and violent attempts at physical submission.  But that’s people for you.  Nutty or normal, humans can be dangerous.  Say the wrong thing and you can get a stamp collector to come at you with a letter opener.  Or the onyx statue he brought back from his vacation cruise to Mexico.

Yes sir, a few poorly worded observations and the next thing you know Mr. Mild Mannered is attempting to bludgeon you with it.  15 pounds of Aztec War God head.  Just bringing it down with both hands.  While you cower behind his globe.  Crouching.  Dodging.  Waiting for your chance to tip the mahogany desk on him.

Trust me, angry ape-warrior shit can erupt anywhere.  In a lunatic asylum or a leather-bound library.  Things go down in the real world, baby.  Things you can’t believe.

Especially with the cannons I chose to roll around on deck with.  They were already cocked and tethered rather loosely to the boards.  Even more prone to misfire.  Break a vase.  Put out an eye.  Take off a head.

You learned to watch your step and mind your mouth.  You learned to be a gracious host.  That’s it.  I think hanging out with the emotionally-imbalanced taught me to be more polite.  More attentive to other’s feelings.

"Look Honey, this lovely couple is vending handcrafted souvenirs. Let's be generous."

Look Honey, this lovely couple is vending handcrafted souvenirs. Let’s be generous.

In one rehab,  I had to room with a dweeb in coke-bottle glasses, who as a kid, had stabbed his parents in their sleep.  No bullshit.  He even showed me an old copy of the Newsweek article.  He didn’t kill them.  See?  The article was about the parents suing the shrink that got his med combo wrong.  So it really wasn’t that bad.  And that was years ago.  And he’s better now.  Lots better.  Except for having to come off the massive amount of pharmaceuticals he’d been forging scripts to self-prescribe…

…to dull his desire to kill.

Well, that’s a relief.

Now he was in the bed next to me.  Bug-eyed.  His mole face pale and waxy with Vicodin ooze.  Fidgeting.  Agitated.  Now and then twisting at the crotch of his pajamas.  Telling me bedtime stories.  Stories about things he would like to do.  Stories about what he would love to do again.  Things he knows he shouldn’t do.  But does anyway.  Because it feels so good.  Feels so good to do them anyway.

And because he thinks he has a demon.  One that follows him around.  Everywhere.

Well alrighty then.

Nothing like a cocktail of revenge torture fantasies and disturbing sexual confessions.  Some relaxing thoughts on demonic possession and murder.  And fear.  Before bed.

While trying to kick booze.

Nighty night.

"Dude, I think it's totally normal to want to kill your parents. Chill!"

Dude, I think it’s totally normal to want to kill your parents. Chill!

My new besty.  You bet your ass when he wanted to talk, I’d lend a sympathetic ear.  He terrified me.  I nodded earnestly as he told me his troubles.  Clucked my tongue.   Kicked the carpet.  Periodic pats on the shoulder.  Did my best to keep his spirits up.

“I know, brother, I know.  One day at a time.”

But I also kept a cake knife from the cafeteria under my mattress.  And one eye open.  All night.

Hey, that’s people for you.  Gotta make them like you enough to not want to kill you in your sleep.  Same old dance really.  The Dance of Life.

He never did try to kill me.  So that was good.  I didn’t have to stress too long.  They bounced his ass the minute his insurance balked.  So that was good.

But probably not.

He was one spooky dude.  Clearly a troubled individual.  One I surmised was struggling with impulse control.  Probably in need of some institutionalized assistance.  A Dixie cup full of psych meds.  Some time doing arts and crafts under close supervision.  Special mineral baths.

I tried to convince staff that this gentleman needed to be housed somewhere other than a beach-side rehab.  Maybe somewhere less razor-wire-free.  More Thoraziney.

They didn’t want to hear any of it.  In fact, the folks at administration felt that without insurance, he was as good as cured.  Free to stroll around Laguna Beach.  With all kinds of feelings.  Thoughts.  Desires.  Ideas.

That didn’t seem right.

"Check this place out, dude. They serve Tapas and validate parking.  Looks fun."

Try this place out, dude. They serve tapas and validate parking. Looks fun. You should at least check it out.

I don’t regret being nice to him though.  I really did try to steer his thoughts toward recovery.  Not just out of self-preservation either.  I wanted him to feel better.  If only to defuse any bomb he was building in his brain.  Why not climb in there and see if you can’t stop the ticking?  Clip a few wires.

But then he’d tell me about another “thing” and I’d find myself reeling with revulsion and loathing.  If I had my usual eight to fourteen beers in me I would’ve gone ahead and beat him down.  Just on principle.  Give doctors at the hospital a chance to take a closer look-see.  But this was rehab and the lack of beer allowed me to think my actions through.  Really think about the consequences of striking another patient.

There was jail.  Sure.  But there was also the possibility of coming-to someday, duct-taped to a chair in a basement.  Having to helplessly watch as Mole Man searchs for a blow torch striker.

I decided to apply the love and acceptance thing instead.  Did my best to talk him down.  While maintaining a three-foot safe zone.  And a clear path to the box spring.

Who knows what good it did?  It’s not like I had many answers at that point, coming off my own World Destruction Tour.  But I tried.  Maybe a little harder than usual.

Hopefully,  I bought some time for somebody else out there–some quality time with loved ones– before the calming effects of my loving acceptance wore off.

After that you pretty much have to hope the next person treats him with kind deference, instead of open disdain.  You have to hope some SoCal snotball doesn’t set that mad motherfucker off.

Because brother, you have no idea what kind of hurt that overt eye-roll of yours could cost you.  Not when you roll them at a demon-host like that.  One that doesn’t like you making him feel bad.  One that really likes to feel good.  His kind of good.  And is willing to do whatever it takes to feel that way.  No matter what.

You have no idea.

Yeah, better to be kind to everyone, I say.  As much as you can stand.  And pay special care to those you find odd or strange.  It’s not only the right thing to do.  It’s the best thing.  Because most nut crazies are amazing creatures.  Masterpieces that inspire awe and wonder.  Holy messengers.  You never know what hidden wisdom they might possess.  Or giddy delight they can bestow.

And yes, in some cases,

un-holy wrath deliver.

You really have no idea.

So be nice.

Nighty night.

"Yeah sorry, he was here but they bounced him. You wanna give me your number in case I see him, or just wanna hang out?"

Yeah sorry, he was in here, but they bounced him. You want to  give me your number in case I see him or you just want to hang out?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

I walked outside the Esplanade mall with my sandwich inside a Styrofoam container.  I took a few paces, stopped, carefully placed the container on the ground and proceeded to stomp the shit out of it.  Jumped up and down with both feet.  Many times.  Making sure to totally destroy my pricey and uneaten pastrami sandwich.

My girlfriend at the time watched this display of childishness by a twenty-year old man.  It didn’t phase her.  After all, she was my girlfriend.  She just smiled.

“Well, that fixed everything, ”

By italicizing the “that”, she was clearly implying that that didn’t.  Inferring that stomping on my sandwich didn’t  fix everything.

She was right of course.  She always was.  But fuck that.   What was right didn’t matter.  What mattered was that I was pissed-off.

And had to show the world.

“It did!” I told her, making sure to italicize my “did.”  Letting her know there were two sides to every story.  That sometimes different things are right.

She just nodded along in that “Okey-dokey, Pokey” way.  With overly-agreeing face.  The one caretakers make to indulge their lunatic charges–while waiting for them to swallow their pill.

“It totally fucking did.”

“Oh-kay!”

We had to leg it back to the movie theater where we worked.  She was the box office cashier and I was an usher.  We were late coming back from our lunch break, which was partially a factor in my decision to curb-crush my Pastrami.  And go hungry instead.

We’d always take our breaks together and go to the Mc Donalds next to the theater.  She’d get a chocolate chip cookie and a milk, and I’d get a Big Mac and a shake, That magic combination would guarantee me a time-released queasiness that quelled hunger.  Like clock work.  Big Mac.  Shake.  Nausea.

While I was by no means a fan of feeling sick to my stomach, the price was right, and it was close by,  Cheapness and convenience trumped well-being.

Anyway, this one Saturday afternoon, I decided I had enough feeling nauseous.  I would walk down the mall a little further to the deli restaurant and treat myself to some heartburn instead.  I would cough up the extra five dollars just to remind myself that I was worth it.  Sometimes you just have to be good to yourself.

Yeah.  That’ll be nice.  Get myself a nice pastrami on rye with wedge cut fries.

Because you never know which day will be your last.

Sue got her usual cookie and milk, then followed me to the deli where I put in my order and waited.

And waited.

I look around.  It’s slow.  Half of a half of a dozen people sitting around.  All of them with their food.  I can’t imagine what’s taking so long to make my sandwich.  I watch the minutes of our lunch break tick off of my wristwatch.  Nothing.  At seven minutes left, one of the cooks puts a Styrofoam container under the heat lamp.  But there’s no waitress to pull it down and give it to me.  It sat there for another agonizing five minutes before one finally appeared and responded to my wild flailing and pointing.

“My sandwich!  My sandwich!”

She lazed her ass over and handed it to me.

There was now two minutes left to eat my five dollars-extra sandwich.  What bullshit.  Instead of the special lunch I had anticipated, I’d now be lucky to cram half of it into my mouth before I had to be back.  Sure, I could have eaten half then put the rest in the employee fridge until later.  I could have stuck the sandwich into the pocket of my polyester suit and gnawed on it in a darkened theater.  There were plenty of alternatives.  But I was pissed.  I wasn’t going to get what I wanted.

So stomping was the only solution.

I would make the sandwich pay.  And subsequently myself.  But I didn’t care.  Somebody was going to suffer because of this.

It was old behavior by then.

When I was seven, I would play my dad in checkers.  If I saw he was playing too well, I’d get angry and slap the board up into the air.  Boof.

Well, my dad didn’t approve of these outbursts.  Poor sportsmanship wasn’t tolerated.  Neither were tantrums.  My folks were from The Old Country and didn’t put up with that kind of shit from their kids.  His belt would be slapping me across my ass before the checkers stopped raining.

“I’ll give you something to cry about!”

Good for him, really.  I had it coming.  Sorry enlightened, modern parents, but for me, only the threat of corporal punishment ever made me think twice about misbehaving.  And a lot of times, not even then.  Crown one of your checkers Daddy-O and it’s on.  “In your face old man!”  Boof.

Smack smack.

Couldn’t help myself.  Tantrum trumped everything.

When I was in Kindergarten I used to attend a Saturday school for Lithuanian-American kids.  For Valentine’s Day we had to cut out hearts from red construction paper that we had folded in half.  All we had to do was cut out one curve, then open up the paper to reveal a symmetrical heart shape.  We would paste that on a thing of paper doilies the teacher taped together for us.  In just a few easy steps everyone would have a nice Valentine to buy their mother’s love with.

Everyone, except the spaz who couldn’t cut right.  Couldn’t cut the curve.  I looked around.  Everyone was already pasting their hearts onto the doilies, and I kept opening my paper to find a butterfly or a bow-tie.  But never a heart.

Fucking horse-shit Valentine’s Day.  I hate you.

I decided if I couldn’t have a heart, nobody would.  Swear to God, I remember getting up and going from desk to desk tearing up the other kid’s hearts.  I distinctly made a conscious effort to be as calm about it as possible.  To maximize damage.  Before all their crying set off the alarm.

I’m sure that in itself would’ve set-off a child psychologist’s alarm.   But the way I conned the teacher, when she finally grabbed a hold of me, revealed the criminal prodigy I was.

Right away I turned on the water works.  Nevermind the shit-fit I just threw.   It’s time to feel sorry for me.

“I’m only a wittle kid (blubber blubber) and cutting hearts is too hard for me!”

Worked like a charm.  She melted.  The teacher cut out a heart for me while the other kids remade theirs.  In the meantime, a photographer from the local Lithuanian newspaper had come by and had us all display our work in a group shot.  This picture right here.  No down here.  I’m the demon seed in the front row.  Tantruminus Rex.

St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Lithuanian Saturday School NYC

You can see how pleased I am with myself.  Why shouldn’t I be?  I got what I wanted.  You never worry about how you’re coming off while in a pants-pissing rage.  All you want is someone to give into it.

God forbid they should, because then you really feel like an ass-hole.  Afterwards.  If you’re lucky.  If you don’t, you’re more apt to up your game.  Really start carpet-biting your way through life.  It can be an effective way to climb the rungs.  You may even get everything you want.  Except the one thing you really want.  The respect of your fellow humans.

Oh well.  Whatever.  Right?  I’ll sign up.  Respect is over-rated.  Besides, I’ll have the respect of other tantrum babies.  That right there explains Hitler.  The pissed-off baby man leading a nation of spoilsports and blamers.  Ready to punish the world (but mostly themselves) for losing the first war, by losing another one in an ultimate checkerboard toss.

If you get a powerful enough microscope, you might find the germ of this behavior in our current political situation.  We’ve got some Valentines tearers running amok in our classroom.  And I so get it.

Unfortunately.

I’ve been the underdog.  At my worst, I let my fear and frustration seize me.  Wound up fighting dirty just to win.  At my best, I realized I’d been  out-gunned and stood there quietly while the ref raised the other guy’s arm.  Went back to the gym and trained a little harder.

Instead of bringing my sandwich into the ring.  And stomping on it.

Then crying because I don’t have any Valentines.

When Every Day Sucked.

I remember driving home from work one night.  Eight and a half hours without a drink.  The bolts were starting to pop out of the seams.  The matrix of reality, warping and woofing.  Psychosis nudging in.  Fear already camped out.  Making S’mores.

Besides a suspended license, I was driving with two feet.  Why?  Because I had drop foot, which is some form of alcohol-induced neuropathy.  Or at least that’s what the Chinese acupuncturist diagnosed.

But what does a few thousand years of medical wisdom know?  All I know is that it made me unable to lift my right foot.  I can’t move it from the gas to the brake.  Which turns out to be an important driving ability.  And this was an important time in my life, to have good driving ability.  Dig?

My solution was to outsource the job of braking to my left foot, while my dead right one would be in charge of flooring the gas.  I’ll be honest, it’s not the easiest way to drive.  Lot of lurching and sudden stopping involved.   Especially when braking for the Iguanacolussus, an irksome multi-ton ornithopod from the late Cretaceous period that keeps scuttling out into the middle of the road.  And then disappearing.

Anyway, I finally get my beer and I’m almost home.  Whip-lash Larousse just has to cross Cerrillos Rd. and he’ll make it.  Hands trembling.  So close.  To my beer.  To relief.

Then I spot him.  A cop cruising by the other way.  I look up into the rear-view.  Watch his brake lights flash.

Oh fuck no.  Please no.  Of course, yes.  There he goes.  Turning around.  And coming up right behind me.  Oh God.  If he pulls me over for anything I go to jail.  That much is guaranteed.  Just don’t panic.  The most important thing is not to panic.

I look away from the mirror in time to see the light turn red.  I panic.  Mash both feet down.  The gas and the brake together.

Bad move.  In terms of staying under the radar.

My back tires spin in a smoking burnout.  Just lighting it the fuck up.  All N.H.R.A.  Funny car shit.  The chassis tap dances through the red light, and into the middle of the busy intersection, where it comes to rest after I finally picked up my feet from the pedals.  Traffic both ways screeching and skidding to a stop.  Me just sitting there with my eyes shut.  Awaiting impact.

There was one final tire-squealing brake, and then silence.  I had stopped the entire intersection.  Now sat there idling.

I am so going to jail.  I am going to have to detox behind bars.

“Sweet Lord. help me.”

I look up at my rear-view.  I can’t believe it.  He’s gone.  The cop is not there.  Honest to God, he wasn’t even driving away.  He was just…gone.  I don’t know if I hallucinated him being there in the first place, but I know I didn’t hallucinate him not being there.  Because if he really was still there, I’d be in his back seat.

Holy and most merciful Creator!  Thank You for vaporizing that peace officer.  And hopefully to a happier dimension.

I exhale.  My spine puddles around my pants.  I’m hanging on to the steering wheel, when I see myself in the mirror.  My eyes looked like oven-baked marbles.  All cracked from the heat.  Glowing red.  I looked insane.

Even I thought so.

I lift my left foot.  And then press down with my right one.  The car goes forward.  Okay.  We’ve got this.

I crossed Cerrillos and traffic resumed.  I was going to get to those beers.  And everything was going to be okay.  Until tomorrow.

I need a drink.

I need a drink.

I became physically addicted to alcohol around 1995.  The mental component had long been hooked.  But it took a while for the body to catch up.  It made it though.  Hooray!

Previous to this, I had, at times, experienced some ill-effects from consuming liberal amounts of alcohol.  Fire-hosing vomit across stranger’s laps could have been a warning that the quantity of beer I was inhaling wasn’t sitting well.  But once I realized I could carry a chopstick in my back pocket–a black lacquered Chinese one, I figured I’d solved that problem.  Now I could pick and choose where to discreetly dispel any tummy-upsetting froth.

The front entrance of Tom and Lenny’s Shoes, on 63rd Drive, in Rego Park, Queens was a favorite.  I had worked for them once, and felt my treatment there had been unfair.  Perhaps this wasn’t a valid way to protest it, but I just always seemed to feel better after barfing on their doorstep.  And that was good enough for me.

So you see, back then, the repercussions from my drinking, just weren’t bad enough, to even contemplate stopping.  Never mind actually trying to.

Sure, there were the usual hang-overs.  Some of them notably brutal.  But you learned to endure them.  They built character.

The Tuesday morning of a three-day bender, I’d feel a little out of sorts.  A little groggy and nervous about having to operate a vehicle.  Vertigo making the floor roll and buckle.  Eyes blurred from dehydration.  Ice pick in the forehead.   Tainted chowder gurgling in the guts.  Bones hurting and feeling too loose in their sockets.  Sore liver.  Acrid bile percolating in the throat.  Thoughts of suicide.

But it was nothing that a beer and chorizo omelet couldn’t fix.  A tickle of the chopstick, some Gatorade and a breath mint, and I was right as rain.

Then one day, I woke up and noticed my hands were shaking.  What’s this?  That’s so after-school special kind of alcoholism.  So stereo-typical.  So not my Ripley’s Believe it or Not kind of alcoholism.  When talking to friends, I would often cop to being an alcoholic.  “But I’m not one of those…you know…” I’d hold my hands out and make them shake, “I need a drink or I’m going to die kind.  All Ray Malland and shit.”

Well, it was looking like I was becoming all Ray Malland…and shit.

Accompanying the trembling was a rather snappy anxiety, one previously experienced while running from police or watching women take pregnancy tests.  Now it had me teething on a high-voltage power line whenever my beer levels went low.

Fucking great.  I’d sit there frozen in fear.  Too terrified to even twitch.   I’m scared to get up and brush my teeth.  How am I going to manage driving to work on a suspended license, then dealing with the public for eight hours?

It turns out, not very well.

There were moments, when the alcohol was leaving my system, that I thought I would go mad.  Only another Lost Weekender knows what I’m talking about.  It’s a bad dream.  Set-designed by a German expressionist.  The furniture bending at strange angles.  People are talking to you in Swahili or Urdu.  What are they saying?  Am I getting into trouble?  Or are they putting together a lunch order?

“Did someone just say something about Bea Arthur’s vagina?  No?  Never mind…I…”

I don’t know what is going on.

Except that I keep seeing sad angels in my head.  Skull people in concentration camps.  A coughing flower.

My pencil has become sinister and I have to throw it away from me.

As far as possible.

It takes every strand of will-power not to run out into the street flapping your arms.  Sweat pouring from your pits.  Stomach knotted in an icy grip.   Throat dry.  You hear strange organ music coming from the employee fridge.  Spy shadow figures darting around the periphery.  They’re waiting for you.

They can smell your death.

So can you, actually.  There’s a new strange funk that’s clouding out of your pores these days.  Besides, the sour beer smell.  It’s different.  It smells…like decay.  Killing off too many cells at once you are.  That’s kind of unnerving.  I better drink more so I don’t worry about that.

When I started morning maintenance drinking, it wasn’t done in any Cancun spring break, devil-may-care abandon.  It was conscious calculation.  I can’t function without having two or three beers before work.  I’m not drinking to “party down.”  I’m drinking so I don’t see the Devil while trying to make change for a customer.

I have to drink to make it.  Without it, I will fall apart.  Even faster.

I don’t care how much of a dumb-shit, clueless drunk you might be, but when an egg timer gets turned over after every last drink, you realize things.  Like maybe, you’re fucked.

Which is actually good.  To realize.

It’s the most important seed-thought an alcoholic can have.  If they’re going to have any chance.

Fortunately, I had been having that thought a lot.

So things were already good.  And I didn’t even know it.

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.

Taking The Arsenic Cure At Ojo Caliente

Good for what ails you.

Good for what ails you.

I have a sharp pain in my upper back.  Almost a month now.  Feels like a prehistoric lobster clawing into my shoulder blade.  I checked in the bathroom mirror and didn’t find any kind of clinging crustacean, so I have to conclude it’s some knot in my Reichian armor.  A constricted ball of energy refusing to go with the flow, now stuck and radiating Deadly Orgone Radiation throughout my etheric body, but with some leakage getting into the soul itself.

Probably got it doing bent-over dumb-bell rows.  Bent-over dumb-bell, indeed.  Maybe it’s from all the time I spend hunched and brooding like a doomed cathedral gargoyle.  I can think of a few people who might be the source.  Not you.  They don’t read my stuff.  No, they’re just some folks standing on my back while I do my spiritual push-ups.

Something’s bugging me.

Man.  This pain is at that tricky six level.  Bad enough to suck, but not bad enough for me to pursue any proactive remedy.  Look, I’m a personal trainer.  Shouldn’t I use any of the stretching, physical therapy stuff I’m always recommending to my clients?  Maybe use the foam roller that’s in the trunk of my car to roll out and loosen the myofascial membrane?  Stuff that’s been proven to help.

Fuck that.  I need a chubby Asian girl to walk on my back with a pair of spiked heels.

Well.  I need a lot of things.  Things that maybe don’t have to do with the pain in my back.

They might be wants.  In need’s clothing.  It’s too confusing.   For now, I am content to use the sharp corner of our wrought iron bannister to press against.  I lock my knees out from a squat and thrust.  Dig that fucker in.  Deep.   Then grind on it.  Really try to torture it out.

Lori laughs when she sees me do this.

“It looks perverted.”

“That”s probably why it feels so good.”

“Are you sure that’s the right thing to do?  Shouldn’t you get a massage or see a doctor?”

“I tried the corner of the counter in the kitchen, but the floor is too slippery in there.  I just wind up falling on my ass.  I’ve got carpeted steps to push off from here.  This is definitely the way to go.”

“…Okay.”

I’ll tell you what.  It got better while I was in New Mexico.  I almost drowned the little demon in the hot springs at Ojo Caliente.  It was really nice.  Keller and my sister, got Lori and I, a room next to theirs.  Both rooms had private outdoor tubs, with piping hot volcanic earth juice on tap.  Not a bad set up.  Getting to be with people I love.  All of us bringing our A-Game to the mirth that night.  Laughing like lunatics.  Under a black desert sky scrubbed clean with wind.  The stars sparkling extra bright.

Just does not get any better for this old sot.  One of the best nights of my life, actually.

In the morning,  I ventured over to the public pools.  You know, see who’s who in Modern Rome.  It was interesting.  Everybody in their resort robes.  Whisper Only zones.  Everything all flutey-foofy and cedar hand-lotiony.  It always felt like places like this were just goading me into boisterous misbehavior.  The perfect place to be perfectly inappropriate.   A good canvas for some dramatic chiaroscuro.

Now I try to play well with others.   Sometimes that means just being invisible to them.  So they won’t engage me.  And tempt me into doing something bad.  So I definitely wanted to glide through this whole scene as Buddhistly as possible.  I even tried not to flip my flops too loudly as I cross the lobby.  Going ghost.  Leaving no footprint.

There’s all kinds of different pools with different flavored water.  Some has iron that’s supposedly good for something.  Another has high concentrations of soda, which I’ve always been told rots your teeth.  Then there’s the arsenic water.  Supposedly it’s good for arthritis, stomach ulcers and “a variety of skin conditions.”   I could see that.  It sounds like some medieval cure for crotch critters.

“If ever a bold bard gets ball boweevils by bawdy bar maiden, he need only to boil both bollocks in a bowl of its broth.”

Arsenic water?  Are you sure?  I mean, I’m as New Age as Donovan, but that can’t be good for you.  Isn’t it like poisonous in even trace amounts?

Apparently, this is once again, where I am the fool.  These trace amounts are just tracey enough to make them a downright tonic.  Homeopathic Dr. Death’s Miracle Cure, Hair Tonic, Ball Soak and Mouth Rinse.  Arsenic water.  Open your pores and let the poison in.

Arsenic as cure-all is hardly a new remedy.  But always as a last resort.  Like Lumera.

Freckled boob soak.

Freckled boob soak.

I went from pool to pool taking turns to soak in all of the different potions…but that one.  I was scared to.   So I thought about it.

“Dude, your whole thing is about how a little bad is better than no bad at all.”

“It is.  It really is.  I think it rounds out my character.  A little bad.  Keeps the ladies interested.”

“Why not add arsenic, too?  To go along with your collection of a little bad. ”

“Yeah, and maybe build up my immunity to larger doses of arsenic.  Like if somebody ever tries to Rasputin me.”

“No doubt.  It could save my life.  Besides, what kind of pussy can’t handle a little poison?”

“I do like a little poison.”

“Fuck yeah.”

“I’m in.”

“Me too.”

I got out of the rotting-egg pool, and tip-toed over to the arsenic one.   There were two middle-aged earth mother types in there already.  I hesitated.

Some women have described their first impression of me as “predatory”  or “surrounded by an aura of menace.”  Which is unfortunate.  I mean, that they can see that.  If anyone were to make that assumption, it was going to be these two wholegrain-fed mamas.  These types always hate me.  At least at first.  So now they were going to be uncomfortable with me being there.  And I was going to feel uncomfortable about that.

Fuck it.  I’m here to soak in poison.  Bring it on.

I eased my hooves into the water and slid in.  My horns glistening in the toxic steam.  I smiled at the ladies, but they didn’t smile back.  They turned and whispered to each other.  I sat back, closed my eyes and inhaled the arsenic mist deep into my lungs.  Let the poison mix with my own in chemical union.  Let the Periodic Table of Elements mutate my cells to It’s Will.

When I opened my eyes I found myself looking at a pair of boobs bobbing on the water.  They were elongated, and looked like two freckled salamis floating in a bathtub.  Hardly bone-crushing erotica.  At least for me.  I thought about something, and when I looked up from them, I saw one pissed-off Gaia Granola stink-eying me.  She thinks she’s caught me getting a perv on, when on the life of my cats, I wasn’t.  I was too zoned out.

Anyway, she turned away all violated and leaned in to tell her friend something.  Her friend looked over at me and nodded.  They got out of the pool.  Put on their robes and flip-flapped away with decided intention.

I knew it.  I knew something.  That’s why I hesitated.  Knew something would go down.  They were waiting for something and thought they got it.  Now they could leave content, thinking that their initial assessment of me was correct.

Very irritating.  But what am I going to do?  Run after them trying to explain–

“Look ladies, I’ve worked in strip clubs.  Your tits don’t mean anything to me.”

Yeah.  That’ll fix it.

The fact was that seeing those two beefstick boats made me remember going as a kid with my parents to the Hickory Farms at the Esplanade Mall in Oxnard.  They had diced samples of salami and cheese on toothpicks you could stick into different mustards.  That’s what I was thinking about.  That hardly constitutes prurient leering.  But try to explain that to a woman whose scurrying away with her smokey links flopping under her robe.  You’ll just dig yourself in deeper.

Fuck it.

Let it go.

I sunk back into my pool of poison.  I have no control over what they think.   I have no control over what anybody thinks.  And far from being a bummer, when actually realized, to it’s most fullied optimal, the liberation can be absolutely intoxicating.  Certainly frees one up for a wider range of motion.

Hmm…

Whatever arsenic kills-it’s better dead.  My back stopped hurting for a few days.

They were right.  Sometimes a little poison is just thing, to ward off a greater malady.

Unfortunately, the treatment didn’t kill enough of it, because the beast grew back a few days after I returned to California.  And is still digging in, as I write this.

There was a arsenic water fountain there you could drink from.  It had a health warning plaque attached.  Drink at your own risk.  I passed.  Soaking in poison and actually drinking it are two different things.  That’s one thing I’ve learned.

I should have guzzled a belly full of it.

I guess if I was a better writer I’d tie-in how caring what somebody thinks is really the source of my pain.  And how when I did let the poison I was surrounded by, kill off the real poison–the shit in my mind–the pain went away.  How that’s the real remedy for my present discomfort.

But, I’m just not up for it tonight.

My fucking back is killing me.

I feel like a new man!

I feel like a new man!