I was going to write about Jan, Aaron, Kari, AMole, John the Gorilla, the Convert, Dave, Manja, Aquileana, Joey, Mary, Ken, Pete, Bess, and Jen Kindness. I was going to place all of us in a late-night Parisian bar listening to jazz music by a bunch of cool sticks from Baltimore wearing pointed shoes and women with slits up their tight skirts and surly men beneath black hair painted on with pressure blowers, but then my garden got into trouble, the one I inherited from the dead Finn.
The ocean storm moved across the ridge line and down into the valley. Paris faded away. Fish rode the clouds taking photos. There was lots of posing and mugging for the cameras. They looked pretty dumb, but then what was one to do? They were fish and unaccustomed to the clouds.
We should all be quick to forgive fish. It’s just the right thing to do.
I was looking at the rain fall as I lay in my bedroom coffin. Aatu, an old Finn, had built it for his funeral. He’d put it in a corner, just leaning there, waiting. When he died, his wife showed up and she decided to burn him into floating black ash, so I got the coffin for free when I rented the house. I filled it with sheep wool and cotton balls and turned it into my bed. “Do whatever you want with the coffin,” she said, “but take care of the garden…and Aatu’s dog. What a beast. Somebody will shoot him. That is all I ask.” I hired a gardener, but the dog was my territory. He enjoyed killing small ground animals, particularly cats and possums. He could run anything down. I couldn’t stop him. He weighed almost as much as I did and he was mean. I never could get his Finnish name out, so I started calling him Bow Wow and he would respond with growls and howls. It was our duet of sorts. I think he was a Mastiff and Greyhound mix. He was like a custom hood ornament on an Excalibur, the ones with the silver exhaust pipes on the side. As a boy, I always wanted one, but in the end I got Bow Wow. His body was perfect for the hood of a fancy car, running ahead of the pack.
Paris and the jazz club are both totally gone now as if the Vikings have burned everything to the ground and Aatu and his wife have been left behind to clean up the mess. The storm is dying and I remember I decided to stop being crazy last night.
Yes, last night…I made a plan for my personal recovery and I am following a very strict mental path, the one through the forest where the deer stand still in the shady sunlight. I thought I’d start by recalling how sex captured me. When I was young, I didn’t get it, but then along about eight, I noticed my private parts might be for something other than pissing. When I pulled the sheets up the cloth would rub across the head of my penis. It was strange. I’d sometimes sleep over at Mike’s house and his little dog, Skoshi, would lick our balls. We’d laugh. That was my only pass at bestiality, if you don’t count the vacuum cleaner which seemed like a living, breathing thing at the time. By eleven my dick got hard pretty easily and I thought about girls. I knew about that because I had seen my parents in bed one night and my mother flew up like somebody had set her feet on fire. The twelfth year saw stuff, other than piss, regularly dribble out of my head. My dick became a clock and it would put me to bed at night and wake me in the morning. So sex was good for a long time, but then it became perfunctory, obligatory, and developed into a Roman, maybe Greek myth where people died who didn’t follow the religious protocols and then one day the sex just stopped.
Work is sort of like sex. I’d heard about work, but didn’t get it. Then one day, my father told me to pull all of the nails out of an infinite pile of old, hard boards. I complained bitterly for a few weeks and then he took me to the farm to shovel chicken shit. After a few hours of that, I told him I was ready to pull the nails again, but he said it was too late. When I was a grown man, I worked for a salary and over time my salary increased and I enjoyed what I did. Work for me was fun, even though there were lots of dead people and men with guns about and I would get sick all the time and often I would end up in the hospital and to this day I have all sorts of crap wrong with me, but then I started thinking about retiring and suddenly the work just stopped. I thought I would like free time, but I really didn’t. It has something to do with relevance and one’s sense of history.
As I look at my plan, my path through the primeval forest, the one filled with moist, clean air and running rivers like veins of silver, I realize that, in fact, I don’t have a plan or a path, but rather millions of tiny pieces of debris from two asteroids that recently collided. All of this is relative, so please forgive me on the plane of my existence. Are you there? I don’t see you. The space rocks and ice are bouncing around inside my brain. Why is it so important that you know I’m slightly crazy? Is that going to get me anything? Will it get me a couple of free tickets to a Bulls’ game? I doubt it, but then that’s what life is all about: big fucking doubts.
Shit, there’s a dead possum in the garden and I guess I better go out and deal with it, but goddammit the rain is starting again. Oh well, I don’t care. I’ll just bury the possum in the rain. I’ll have some quality time with the dog and his kill. Bow Wow loves the rain and recently he has started to come around. He seems to be smiling more than before. Maybe he likes me for some big dog reason.