Once when I was a kid I sat on a couch and saw a room. I saw a plaster ceiling with a hanging light that swung like a deadly rope. I saw walls, yellowed and cracked like old teeth. I saw a flying stereo with a wobbly turntable grinding out Van Morrison tunes as mysterious as 'Into the Mystic.' None of this makes me nostalgic, it just makes me who I am.
I was laying on a sunny Florida beach when trouble blocked the sun. Trouble was a big, a shave-tailed smart-ass with a smarmy smile and spit and polish shoes. The over-priced seer-sucker suit that draped over his shoulders flapped slightly in the slow breeze. He also held a silencer about six inches from my head.
"You Tortelli?" he asked in a slithering tongue.
"Sure, and Suzy sells sea-shells."
I'm not too courageous, even when facing down a stuffed animal with plastic doe eyes, but there must have been something in the suntan lotion sizzling on the back of my neck. In a kick straight out of cirque de soleil my shin split open his skinny scrotum and smashed his tropical testes. He dropped to the ground like a groaning bad guy in an old Scorecese film.
I ran to the nearest phone and called my friend Zigman Zibanski.
"I'm down in Florida," I told him. "Some local dumb-$hit tried to kill me with a silencer."
"You better come home," he suggested. "Sounds like you been the victim of a mistaken identity."
Like I keep saying, I gotta stay away from these budget vacations on lowly beaches. I also should keep away from Zigman Zibanski types, but that's the topic of another post all together.
I saw a woman with lonely eyes sitting at an all night diner. She was pretty and smart looking, as if she benefited from a fancy education. I'm big on clothes, and I noticed her overcoat was worn down at the elbows, frayed at the cuffs; but only slightly. What she wore was expensive, just a bit past its prime, like she had lots of money once. Now she tracked every cup of coffee she drank and every puff she took from rolled cigarettes. Her eyes met mine for a moment. She snuffed a last Marlboro into into an ashtray and took a small sip from a porcelain cup. She left behind a nickel for an absent waitress. Maybe it was my discomfiting stare that chased her away. Maybe she figured me for a blogger, a chronicler of lonely dames in old overcoats with last cigarettes and old coffee to nourish their lives. Or maybe I know less than I think, less than I should. I left a coin on a shiny table and said good night to a waitress in an all night diner.
I've flexed my muscles in front of cracked, dusty, twisted mirrors. I hated what I saw. I've mulled over my life in front of drunk, mad, diabolical whore-therapists of the night. I hated what I'd become. Now I flex my muscles in front of the same broken mirrors, but I like what I see. Now I think aloud to these same destroyed women, but I like what I've become. I can't explain why, nor will I ever try. No point in tampering with what's good. Just keep on living and enjoy the new soulful cards coming my way.
Maiko mistress. Geisha in waiting. Apprentice in white face. Silk kimono worn along slender thighs. No slithering slattern, you are. No sad whore in bruised flesh, you become. Rare as a sakura night: cherry blossom--o hana mi eyes in soft spring rain. Maiko mistress in geta shoes, bow softly to ancient times, lips touch tea water in rice paper dreams. Early fantasy of Edo held within. Geisha in waiting woven in bamboo threads, tale of Snow Country : Kawabata story in fierce, doomed, fated love. Good-bye, Maiko mistress. You've never been. Never seen. Never beholden tightly behind white-painted skin. Taiko drums beat in Tokyo sky. A Maiko mistress leaves to be touched under waiting eyes in rising sun.
My journey began with the rising heat of a July night, during those dreamy hours I dedicate to restful repose. It was during those hours my sleep had been interrupted by fiery dreams of what I was. Your life! Your life! What is your life?!! My emotions were subsumed by a hazy delirium.Get up! The voice ordered. Go to the One Lucky! Bring fire to your life!
To the One Lucky I went. A loser bar. A bucket-of-blood saloon of deadly one-eyed muckers and prison tattooed rapscallions. Why the voice came to my head and sent me there, I did not know. But like an inscrutable master it demanded of me, of all people, to challenge my usual convictions of civility. On that mad July night, I was to steady my spine and curl my fists. I was to ready myself for bloody combat!!!
So I entered the One Lucky a tender foot warrior. I stood amidst tuffs and fiery drunkards. Amidst blood red killers. Amidst men whose steely-eyes could slice the necks of craven souls. Maybe my neck! Maybe my soul!
A broad shoulder man in a belligerent pose stood before me. I walked into his stare and cocked my arm but before I could hit him, the force of his granite fist knocked me to the ground.
Like a pack of wild elephants they, the bar denizens, stomped on me, their menacing laughs piercing my blood filled ears. I was dragged into the street where my unconsciousness melded with my maddening dream, so close to this maddening crowd. So far from Hardy and Yeats.
The sound of the ambulance siren and the attendants of the night jostled me into a sensible-lucidity, sensible enough to see her: the beauty in white. She lay over me, this Florence Nightengale in stethoscope sounds. My penis rose. I unbuttoned her blouse and felt the firm-soft roundness of her chest. I caressed them under the wail of the siren, past the red lights on broken streets. I f@!cked her hard, my supine savior.
I could hear the quiet, satisfied words of Bukowski: "You done good, Tortelli. A fight and a screw on a Friday Night."
I knew what my life should have been all these years. I knew then that Bukowski had been that voice in the night.
Look busy! Nothing to do. Chitter and Chatter. Clitter and Clatter. Insouciant swimmer in sea of time. Look busy, work hound. Government idler. Dream big of Dog days past, things to be in the wide whet Universe. Furtive stares at round a$$ girls in golden hair. Think the bindlestiffers, hoboes from town-to-town; foragers of love and wrapped mud in Long Depression gone. Think the indie dancers on shoestring stage, like lonely lovers on Calamari hands. Look Busy! Government man. Nothing to do on tax payers' time. Blogger post. Boss away. But what the cost? Prison cube? Melting life like ball of honey wax? Sweet, sweet, but gone in smoke with nothing left behind.
I've got friends who talk too little. And buddies who speak too much. I've got friends who live on the other side of sanity. And buddies so normal they may as well be insane. Many things I have, like a blog where I can place fiction and fact amongst those of different minds. So in the end I've got posts that are too short and others that are too long. I know of no other way to write.
You hold me in the armbar of life, God. And it hurts. You're snapping my elbow, bending back my wrist. Royce Gracie in disposable wings. First, the devil's hands you employ, tear me apart socket by socket; ground and pound from ash to ash, spice to spice, my unholy soul.
You hold me in the armbar of life, God. And I don't know why. Because I treat you bad? Ignore you when...there is a deniable God? Ignore you when...an unknowable God sings in mysterious tunes?
Tap! Tap! Tap! I tap-out.!
I submit! I submit! I submit in humanity's octagon, in the daily battle: straight souls on crooked trails. Is this thee, the baleful Father or my imaginary underpinnings sinfully undone...B.J. Penn in Hawaiian garb, jujitsu hold on my furthest leg? The Brazilian Silva? Kimbo Slice of my funny bone?
You hold me in the armbar of life, God. And I submit. I submit to life's confusion, and know unwell the breathing speck of a man I am in the headlock of time.
Tortelli the blogger I am, in the headlock of time.
I hear the clamorous sounds of refugees past--mother and child against the blood army of Them...European fascists and Stalinist henchmen...Maoists and Mid-East Madmen. I hear the clamorous sounds of refugees running in the night: the mother's wail, the young boy's cry...the rancor of death approaching. When I hear the sounds of clamorous refugees I brush away an imaginary spider. I eat a colourless cheese sandwich and lick my lips. Sometimes I wonder about the food of life and the preciousness of where I live. But still, I wish I had legs like a spider and eyes in the back of my head.
There once was a man who walked daily along a red coloured building. One afternoon a blue brick landed on his head. He fell unconscious onto a green alley where a taupe limousine rushed him to an olive drab hospital. A black doctor and white nurse rescued him from his wounds. He never again walked past a red building, but he did beget a son named Tortelli.