Sunday, September 3, 2017

hunter



hunter s. thompson was starting to detox and i could see the thunderheads rolling in from behind his eyes. the magazine crew was setting up in the next room and i don't know why, but i felt protective of him. i thought maybe i could meter his intake so he could get through the interview and photos before the worst of his demons came out to play. i put my hand lightly on his shoulder, 'hey, how does a mojito sound?'. he tilted his head toward me and looked at me with what i can only describe as the kind of visible contempt a paraplegic would show to a happy/smiley 1st year nurse in answer to, 'do we want our full-to-the-brim colostomy bag changed out now?'. after a beat, he growled, 'over there...' and dismissively gestured toward the cabinets.

i'm not sure what i was expecting when i opened his infamous liquor cabinet- but it wasn't was i saw. instead of a treasure chest full of cool old liquor bottles, the shelves were crammed to overflowing with ancient tupperware pitchers- the one quart kind with the sad, red snap-close 'pour lids'. dried dregs of cheap, sweet booze from an uncountable number of refills lined the rims. prints from drunk, dirty fingers all frozen forever in the cloudy cataracts of all that degrading plastic. every one of those pitchers may as well have been filled with piss.

i gingerly began to sniff my way through the containers trying to bide my time and give the appearance of looking for something that resembled rum. 'hurry the fuck up!' he barked. 'fill it, just fill it! mix the shit up and throw some sugar in there for my nutritional requirements!'

i sloshed three of the liquors into a dirty glass until it was 1/2 full. i didn't bother with tongs as i fished for cool-ish shards in the melt water of the banged up ice bucket. hunter looked at the glass as i was about to hand it to him, 'GOD FUCKING DAMMIT! FILL THAT FUCKING THING UP!' 

all sets of eyes belonging to the sleek new york crew were focused on us now and they were wide with fear. in silence, i let them watch me as i turned and filled his glass to the brim. after i handed it to hunter, i looked toward them, tilted my head slightly to the right in a rather fetching manner and gave a little finger-wiggle 'goodbye'.





prince







he was so alive and the world hadn't frighten him yet. as our plane was about to touch down on the tarmac in detroit, i found myself thinking i was only dreaming of him healthy and laughing. 'wait, just wait,' he whispered, 'these kids are going to blow your mind!' soon we were on the ground and then the long black limo that now held us was crawling down the darkest factory streets of the city. one by one, his young detroit tribe members seemed to appear out of nowhere. they were not surprised to see him and only smiled as they each climbed into the cool belly of the car. i heard someone say, 'tent and ela are still working...' and just like that we were expelled like baby seahorses into the wide world of some 3rd world warehouse. there was ugly florescent lighting and workers busy everywhere. the space itself was a labyrinth of corridors, but prince seemed to know exactly where he was going. i abandoned trying to orient myself and instead, as i blindly followed, tried to focus on discovering the purpose of the factory. we passed thousands of fed-ex boxes closed with red tape that had the word 'MEDICAL' stamped in black every few inches- then we were surrounded by scores of uniformed workers quickly rolling samsonite luggage in a crisscross pattern through an open space. i decided it must be a luggage factory but then the aroma of frying donuts suddenly blanketed our motley conga line. i could smell each flavor distinctly but i never saw the source of it.

we left the medical/luggage/donut factory with tent and ela in tow, but only after prince marveled at the wonder of how these people could be so beautiful under the pressures of such a bleak environment.





Tuesday, March 29, 2016

another lesson in elasticity



kelly was helping me pack up the last of my things. the property looked endless now that it was almost empty and I let myself feel nostalgic as I took in the little glimpse of the ocean that had belonged to me for almost 16 years. the afternoon light was gorgeous and I could smell sea salt on the warm breeze that blew through the palms. 'hey,' kelly said, 'why don't you throw the dogs in the porsche and let me finish up here.' i laughed when I looked down at his muddy little designer dogs. 'you must really feel sorry for me to offer that.' 'i don't give a shit about a little dirt (massive lie)- and besides, a nice drive with the boys will do you a world of good (complete truth). i hardly protested.

as i made my way down the canyon, i silently repeated my new awareness that a woman is not defined by her possessions nor the the place in which she resides. in that moment I allowed myself to feel a little lucky (after all...). bruce licked my hand and as i patted his head i wondered why in the hell anyone would want to breed a rottweiler down to a 7 pound dog.


Monday, September 7, 2015

the filly




i'd hired him for the day and i didn't realize how young his horse was- a baby really. as the day wore on, his frustration with the animal and her emotional sensitivity grew to the point where he was jerking her head violently and digging angrily into her sides with his spurs. finally when she balked and caused him to slip off, he grabbed handfuls of dirt and threw it into her eyes as he kicked her until she cried out like a child. i rode my own horse up to him and grabbed the reigns from his hands. 'okay, we're done for the day. how much for your time and the horse?' he was swearing in spanish and i understood enough of it to know that he was going to beat the animal within an inch of its life the moment he was out of my sight. he reached for the filly and she grabbed the skin on the neck of my own horse with her teeth to keep from being pulled away. 'no, really, i want the horse. how much?' he was seething with rage. 'it's not mine, it's my friends i can't sell it.' 'call your friend,' i said calmly. 'i want to buy her.' javier looked at me for the first time since being thrown and now i could see he was calculating his own profit. 'tell your friend you lost the horse,' i said. 'it will be a secret.' javier grimaced what was supposed to be a smile and I could see that all of his teeth were edged in gold. 'okay, i make a deal with you.' he said. 'good, get some water while i put the horses away.' i let the terrorized filly follow my horse and only gently held her reigns as i walked the animals to the safety of the barn. i put them in the same stall and slipped off their tack. i said soft words to my old boy jack and told the filly not to worry. when i walked backed out javier had already loaded his gear into the truck. we negotiated briefly and he laughed in cruel agreement when i stopped the price because i said he was going to kill her anyway. i stood and watched until the trailing dust from the truck was only a distant wisp. i looked at my dogs and said, 'that's an enemy, guys. bite him if he comes back.' they all appeared to understand. i walked back to the barn to bed the horses down for the night.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Ladies Committee



it wasn't something i had wanted to do, but once i'd been roped in i decided to give it my all. peter had just finished touring and all of his hand-painted gorgeous silk panels were available to me, so i called in that chit. he had his crew spend the day installing them at the venue. when they finished, the effect was utterly breathtaking. peter and i stood in the back of the theater and marveled at the transformed space. the reconstructed skeletons of dinosaurs that belonged to the museum standing in front of the impressionistic mosaic of layered and compressed earth evoked a feeling of time travel. peter and i spoke of flow and beauty. everything felt right. The Ladies Committee came in as a group and sat in the seats in the very back row. they didn't 'understand' how impressionistic compressed earth related to dinosaurs. they wanted 'something more literal- no, cute!'. what? clicking tongues and small minds made a mockery of the magnificence. i felt my face turn to fire. peter knew me well enough to take my arm and walk me away. he signaled his crew to start disassembling the panels as he did his best to talk me back to calm. i glared at The Ladies Committee. they looked like stupid, overfed sheep in daytime pearls and poplin. i wanted to shred them with my fluent and profane longshoreman patois. peter finally said, 'they're not like us, don't waste your breath, girl.' i squeezed my eyes tight and nodded agreement.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

something naive not quite dead



the event was huge and i was enjoying myself, but i had found a small perch above the chaos and felt happy to be quiet and simply watching for a few moments. i scanned the hall and looked over all the fine details of the room. i was glad for paul and sara that the played out 'steam punk' element i had tried to talk them out of was working beautifully (just enough to be ironic). i didn't realize i was smiling until my eyes met with the grinning face of a very tall, bearded man standing still in the center of the floor. when i realized he'd been watching me, i laughed- which set him laughing and soon the shared laughter was the helpless kind. i let myself fall into that laughter until i was holding my sides. as i wiped the tears from my face, he gestured for me to come down. well then, right. i climbed down and made my way toward him. as i drew closer to him, the joy began to move into something more profound. it was as though on some level i began to recognize him and with every step become more aware of what the absence of him in my life had meant. by the time we were within arms reach, we shared a tender melancholy. he drew me in and picked me up with a warm, familiar embrace that seemed to last forever. i closed my eyes and let my head rest upon his shoulder like a child.



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

the war

the war had taken more than his leg. he'd left a heart-sick wife and three tiny children with the promise that he would return to them no matter what. he'd told himself that nothing would touch him because he was so loved and needed, but months later as he lay half a world away in a cold, muddy trench with a quarter of his leg blown off, the only thing that kept him alive was hatred. the pain was absolutely consuming and raw. it was as if someone was holding a whirring, rough grit belt sander against the wound and pressing hard. the nerve endings jumped and sparked with a cruel and piercing electric current as the almost still air passed over them. he wondered why his body did not go into shock and protect him from the agony. he looked down at the sharp, jagged bone fragments and shredded limp white ligaments jutting from the macerated bright red flesh below his knee and watched the 19 year old medic wrap a tourniquet to stop him from bleeding out. as he examined the horror of the wound, his eyes flicked up and clocked the boys hands trembling as he struggled to keep from fainting. he saw the dead faces of his buddies as they searched the mud for his mangled severed foot- and once found, without making eye contact with him, placed it beside him as gently as if it were a new born baby. if he'd had the strength to do so, he would have heaved it with all his might out of the trench onto the exploding no man's land of the battlefield. instead he started to laugh. he heard the men around him agree that he was going into shock, but in actual fact, his pain was getting worse and the laughter was only the inappropriate sound his body was making as the last drops of his belief in the innate goodness of humanity siphoned out of him. it was a long time before they could get him to a field hospital and as he surveyed the muddy, bloody, stinking facts of his current predicament, he thought, 'so i guess this is how i die.'

when he woke up clean and bandaged in the quiet surroundings of a hospital, he was surprised to realize that he was still alive. he flipped the sheet off his injured leg and saw that it had been amputated to his hip. his eyes narrowed. he thought about all the faceless soldiers and (probably) civilians that he had maimed or killed in the name of his own blind nationalism and realized that he and they were the same fodder. he'd been duped into believing there was 'a greater good' to participating in this organized, uniformed slaughter called 'war' and now he knew just how hard he had to be hit to see the truth of the thing. he thought about the preened and pampered politicians and their 'exempted' ivy league offspring. he hated them all. when letters arrived from home, they remained unopened.

his wife had prepared their home to accommodate his healing and change in mobility. in the weeks before his arrival, she had attended classes and counseling and steadied herself for some difficulty while he adjusted to his new circumstance. when he was finally wheeled from the plane, she did not recognize him because his expression was so contemptuous. there was no joy or recognition in his eyes upon seeing her or the children, only a cold awareness of their presence. in the weeks that followed, he shunned her comforts and instead began to wrangle his way onto the lower rungs of 'business'. he became an unlicensed backdoor pawn broker (lots of obviously stolen merchandise with no questions asked) and soon graduated into aggressive, small-time loan-sharking. the money was rolling in and he had no problems with however it came to be in his hands. he stopped using his wheel chair and refused to wear a prosthetic because it made him feel 'handicapped'. he spider-crawled on his three remaining limbs and soon developed the agility of a monkey. he was low to the ground and as dangerous as an abused dog. no one ever tried a second time to take advantage. he threw money on the table for his wife every week before he melted out of the house. he did not make eye contact with her or share her bed. the children knew to be silent when he was home.

his wife eventually understood that everything was too broken to continue in the marriage. the awareness came in the form of hookers, drugs and criminals seeping unabated into her daily life. she quietly divorced him at which point he untethered completely from all social convention and fell gladly into total nihilism. his life continued in a steady circle around the drain while he satisfied his increasingly specific carnal desires and acquired more money than he could ever actually use. his children never gave up hope that he would one day love them again.

it was a mistaken belief.