Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Wilderness Years - Raskolnikov's Blues Pt. 3

Small towns can drive you mad, they can turn you into a raving lunatic with their boredom and sleepy streets, one begins to understand how old women get murdered and their trunks plundered for trinkets and gold and anything that might be hocked for a hot meal... the walls had closed in and i was fucked, being destitute is never as romantic as they make it out to be in those dusty old novels, of course put a couple of decades between the hunger pains and the memory and it's a  most beautiful thing, like one of those lovely ancient paintings that hang in the cold and sterile halls of some foreign museum, just the thought of it can keep you warm but at the time there was nothing but a drafty old house and the approaching winter, the mind spinning and slipping, the days dragging by, when just a year before all i had to do was step out my door and i could get mugged, shot, drunk, fucked, score any number of drugs, fall into any sort of caper, hang at the bar with the brothers and the hoods and listen to Motown as Mustache Mary would dance and slur her way around the bar after seven to many whiskey sours... but now i was trapped, not the money or means to get out and with my education slowly taking the form it always had, of me studying my own curriculum, not those of the masters of higher ed, not one supplied by the Doctors of Philosophy, one supplied by myself in order to make sense of this nightmare, of knowing full well i was going to quit, of trying to stay above the rising tide just enough to pay a few more months rent and get what was left of the next check, the second semester loan, enough to keep a roof over my head for the time being, but knowing i'd drop out when the time came... but even as i stared down my wit's end i needed to keep my wits about me, there was no net to catch my fall, only the concrete and it's gray indifference...

If there was one constant at this time it was the kindness of women and their enabling myself to get by, at the time i lived with three, one who would make many an appearance in my life over the years, a couple other who were bat shit crazy, one dating a semi-homeless man who lived in a tent and the other convinced that someday she would look into my eyes and we would fall head over heels in love and live happily ever after, she actually stated this one day, i laughed hysterically and went to the bar... of course i was a young and petulant sort, as faithful and loyal as a stray dog... i was not what you'd want your daughter to bring home and yet somehow many daughters wanted to bring me home, it never seemed to be a problem, it seemed my motherless ways made any number of women want to mother me, as if i gave off a scent of being a lost boy... that girl i lived with worked at a coffee house, the first one to come to the town of Podunk U., it was only a decade or so after they started popping up in all the hip city hoods but Podunk finally had it's own, she went to school during the day and worked the nights and when i'd walk home from class she would motion me in if the boss had left, which was usually the case, she'd feed me chili and cornbread and i'd drink coffee, she'd slip me $10 so i could go to the bar, my hangout was dirt cheap and served strong drinks, sometimes after wandering around, sitting in one apartment or the other, drinking and smoking dope, i'd wander in like that stray dog and there would be a pizza on the table...

It was through this girl that i began to pick up the stray shifts washing dishes at the coffee house to make an extra 20-30 bucks here and there, i'd smoke my one hitter and listen to a lot of Miles or 'Trane or Bird, i'd drink the wine the owner kept in the walk-in for when she came in, she was old money and had spent years partying and now needed a semi-respectable gig so she opened this place, it was shady and quite possibly a front, seemed to be a preponderance of powder available to the employees in the know, never for sale of course, just there... the owner wanted me to pick out some music for the place, she said she liked my taste, she asked who it was and i sheepishly told her, i didn't like her vibe and she made me nervous for some reason, there was a time when the wealthy had that effect on me, being broke i needed whatever scraps i could pick up, she told me she didn't want to hire me cuz she didn't feel like doing the paperwork, she handed me money and got me a ride to the mall, i picked out what i could find at a national record chain in a shit mall, basically best of CD's, the town of Podunk U. was what one might politely call a cultural backwater, she told me to keep the change and still paid me at the end of the night, some shifts i'd barely wash a dish, it was an old building with those intricate tin ceilings, old hardwood floors, a back porch with two big white pillars that faced an alley where i'd smoke a stray cigarette, every now and then the Barney Fife would roll by thinking they were slick, as soon as they were out of sight they'd get the finger, it was a few bucks in my pocket, sometimes it'd be gone by the next morning, sometimes i'd stretch it for days, the only downside was that it gave me even more time to think...

And think i did, i was sliding down, it wasn't depression or anxiety, more a darkness, a general madness, i was coming to terms with a beautiful meaninglessness, what did it matter, these fucking knobs all writing papers and prancing and preening, like fucking show ponies, and for what? a job? a chance to sit in the same halls and classrooms that they studied in but this time they get the ruler? they get to hand down the verdicts? maybe it was a defense mechanism, maybe i needed to lie to myself because i couldn't cut it... or could i? it didn't matter anymore, now there was nothing but time and the wait, to make it until my sentence was up, to get back to the water and sand and pull myself up out of this hole i had dug, dug willingly and smilingly in the beginning, and the shorter the days became the more the madness increased, consciously or not i looked for ways to destroy the things around me, i began to hide, to play the invisible man, walking backstreets and avoiding daylight, hiding for hours in the dim corners of the library, scribbling notes and threats and pictures for no one, day in day out, each sunrise another struggle to eat and get fucked up...

Somehow, somewhere along the way, i managed to finish all my papers, over 50 fucking pages in a little over a week, it was a fucking joke and a nightmare, banged out on a word processor, i had picked the topics eight weeks earlier, gathered some information and never gave it another thought, i heard my classmates making plans for study groups while i talked to myself in the corner, i heard them reading and critiquing papers, they were fretting and sweating, they looked at me with curious disdain and a bit of envy, why didn't i fucking care? their guess was as good as mine, maybe i should tell them that Dr. Rockstar told me i didn't need this shit, maybe i should pick up that desk and toss it across the room as i envisioned, pull out my cock and balls and shout they'd never have a set like these, for 7 weeks they met and talked, one or two may have even fucked but i didn't care, when it was time i locked myself in my room and went to work, roughly 2 and a half days a paper for three papers, from early morning until the wee hours, sometimes the madness can work for you, you have to make it work for you, so make it work i did, i didn't know if the papers were any good, i thought they were shit to be quite honest, i gave them exactly what I wanted, original thinking, i gave them references because i had too...

And with a roaring whimper it was over, the dorms and the shit apartments all emptied out, the snow came in cocaine white and shimmering strange rainbows in the winter sun, i could hear the hum of the electric sign above the laundromat on the corner, there would be 20 some odd days spent walking small town lonely streets, to the bar, to the coffee shop to pick up the hours of the students gone on break, the ones unlike myself who had somewhere to go, to the Golden Dawn Supermarket where i would survive off beans and rice, macaroni and cheese, and the occasional shoplifted steak, alone in a creaky, old house... even the cats had somewhere to go, sometimes i'd sit in the living room in complete silence, a second hand ticking endlessly on and the rare sound of a car rumbling down Main St., i jerked off twice maybe three times a day, i talked to shadows, i paced my room, i had 20 some odd days on my own to dwell on this wreck, the lone light being i had passed all my classes, barely passed them but passed nonetheless, it was a fucking joke, this place was a racket not a university, the madcap laughed and laughed...

5 comments:

Exile on Pain Street said...

There's a dark, poetic panache to being destitute. For a while, that is. Thanks to Allah that some women can see past that.

Misread "...finished all my papers,..." as finished all my prayers. Ha. Freud.

And now, all these years later, do you look back with any fondness? Nice stuff here.

Kono said...

Exile- i thank you and appreciate you taking the time to read the lounge... and yes, i do look back with a certain fondness on all of it, more weirdness to come...

daisyfae said...

everytime i read 'wilderness' posts, i want to know what would have happened had we met then...

Rassles R. said...

Lost boys is right. Being able to accept the darkness, maybe surrender to it? is one of the things that so many women find endearing, but usually it's not about the man. It's usually because they want you to associate them with the light.

I don't think that's necessarily a selfish thing, and I don't think the motivation for that is selfish. It's the Lady and the Tramp syndrome.

But sometimes it's just a recognition of loneliness. I know I've given friends who were down food from the restaurant where I worked, and refill their beers for free. Everyone's lonely, and beer makes us equals. That's just how it all worked.

These last three posts were rad, by the way.

Kono said...

Daisy- I wouldn't wish meeting me on anyone... and in response to your comment from the first post, i attracted mainly the psychotic or the angels, there was no in between and yet somehow i usually got them confused...

Rassles- It's always good to hear your observations and take on these things... and gracias for that last line... part 4 is in the works, a lot of Wilderness Years in the pipe right now...