Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Wilderness Years - Raskolnikov's Blues Pt. 6

5 full posts... are we still here? you should have left this train wreck ages ago, like some horrible fucking one man show where our hero is up there doing god knows fucking what and calling it profound when it all looks and smells and probably tastes like a hot and lovely turd... and yet here we are, nowhere fast as they say, still wandering the same small town streets and listening to the click of the streetlights and hum of old electric signs... and yet i've conveyed nothing of the madness i felt, nothing of the mind spinning and sputtering, the way i'd pace that first floor room like a caged panther and even when the cage door was left unopened and i'd wander out there was nothing to hunt or kill or chase, just the click of the streetlights and shit bars with shitty classic rock from burnt speakers and flat beer and i'd willingly walk back into my cage so i could at least pace in relative peace behind the locked brown wooden doors, as the days wound down i'd sit in my cage eating mushrooms or acid, laying on my bed and letting the boring small town breeze flutter past me, i'd watch the alley cats fight and fuck, sometimes i would sit in the dim light of the kitchen, staring at the sink full of dishes and overflowing ashtrays, i'd suck on 40oz. bottles of cheap and strong malt liquor or i'd spend my night running with a complete maniac, an ex-ironworker with a serious drinking problem, did i forget to mention him? did i forget to mention my headlining gig at the coffee shop where i got drunk and read shit poesy to the pre-hipster small town kids and old hippies? well i better get on with it now and keep this show on the road...

I had spent the better part of the year running with Sammy Hagar Man dubbed so because when he first showed up he had a mop that resembled early era Van Hagar, we'll just call him Sam and Sam was a good fucking guy when we wasn't shit-faced and the problem was that when Sam decided to drink it would go and keep going until Sam finally just passed out wherever he was, much to everyones relief and then a few hours later he would wake in a fog and wander home, it was actually quite an amazing thing to behold, he'd smoke two or three packs of cigarettes in a night, recite poetry and passages from books (Blood Meridian being one of his favorites) at will all while being black-out fucking loaded, he was 13 years older than me and had spent his youth as an army paratrooper then raising hell and hanging iron, the stories he would tell made all my wanna be gangsta shit and rooming house blues sound like the laments of a nancy-boy, he was a different animal than i was used to, he had an immense intellect and yet still had a bit of backwoods naivete when it came to certain things... mainly he couldn't handle his liquor and when he was drunk no one could handle him, he was ironworker strong, he'd make a joke and punch or shove your shoulder and you'd end up on the floor, Sam hovering above you slurring and laughing and offering a hand up, a great guy but not someone you'd want to tangle with especially when he was out of his mind...

He'd always been around but i had never talked to him until a friend of mine had me meet him in the bar one afternoon at the end of my last year of undergrad, back then i was running the apartment poesy scene at Podunk U., organizing readings, having people show up and read their stuff and drink and hangout, back then the local dive used to refer to us as the Art Crowd, we were living the beatnik undergrad dream of self-pretension and self-deception and self-importance, running down to the bar for quick 7 &7s that you'd have to choke down and quarter beers, our high-minded bullshit being interwoven with the local's tales of gutting deer and secret fishing holes, then racing back to apartments to smoke tons of grass and eat acid or mushrooms, to woo women as Mr. Keating would say, among all this i got Sam to come down and read, he was the only one of us who wrote with rhyme or meter, i was nothing more than a Bukowski rip-off who read a little to much Robinson Jeffers, he was the order in a world of free-verse and i can honestly say his stuff was good, and back then i was the most arrogant of pricks when it came to art, real po-ems had no rules... ah but the days and nights were living, breathing entities unto themselves, a few of us carving out a scene on our small campus in the middle of nowhere, the wine of youth as they say and here was Sam, a good deal older than us and after that first night i could tell he was living his dream, reading his stuff and hearing the response, he damn near floated out the door he was that elated...

When i returned for grad school Sam was in his last year of undergrad and had accepted a full teaching assistantship to attend grad school at a well known university, the readings didn't start back up but Sam and i still spent a fair amount of time getting shit-faced and trading poems, running shit back and forth, bouncing ideas... but mainly we got fucked up... one friday i had to shoot down to the city to score, it was one of the rare times i stayed for the night and went to the old stomping grounds, when i returned early the next afternoon my place was destroyed, i went looking for the my roommates, all female, to find out what the fuck was going on, the girl i was with came and told me how Sam had shown up blind drunk and destroyed the place, at the time another of my roomies was dating an impotent late forty-something alcoholic who lived a tent, he had been sitting around smoking homegrown when a super drunk Sam showed up with what was left of a pint and a 12 pack, when the girls got back Camper John as he was known, tried to warn them that Sammy was fucked and out of his mind by sing-songing not so cryptic messages, Sam sat and slurred and snarled at Camper John and basically threatened to beat the shit out of him if he didn't scram and so Camper John did just that, his girlfriend coming with him and leaving mine at the house alone with Sam...

Now i had only known Sam to ever date one girl while he was at Podunk U., Ariel Williamson was her name and she was a beautiful girl, built like the proverbial brick house, her family owned an electronics store and were one of the more affluent families in town, when they found out the heiress was dating a guy close to 15 years her senior they freaked and she was forced to break off the relationship and a bit of Sammy's old heart with it cuz though he was a tough motherfucker on the outside he was a teddy bear on the inside when sober and sane, the reality was that Ariel got her kicks dating the grizzled older man who was a star in the English dept., her doe eyes glistening with fool's gold when she spoke about him, her concern and sadness rang a bit untrue... besides within days she had taken up with a guy somewhat closer in age though maybe an even  less appropriate companion for an heiress, a well-known stoner and musician who was on the 7 year graduation plan, even a year or two later and just uttering the name Ariel in his presence could about make the mountain man crumble...

That night Sam roamed the halls of my creaky, old house and terrorized anything and everything, tossing cats out doors and following my girl up to her room where he stood frozen at the door's precipice, slurring away at how beautiful she was and how he wished she was available, she told him he needed to leave and that she had to get up early for work and that i'd be back first thing, trying to placate and tell him to fuck off all in a soothing yet stern manner and when he stumbled back down the stairs she locked the door and attempted to bar it, of course the phone was downstairs back in the pre-cell phone era and so she was trapped, she sat by the window and hoped a neighbor would come home so she could call for help, Sammy began tipping over chairs and eating uncooked frozen pizza which he then tossed on the floor, he attempted to make some pasta, tossed that and then passed out for an hour or so, woke-up, grabbed the rest of his booze and stumbled out the door...

That was what i walked into the next day, quarter pound of shitty weed stuffed in a duffel bag and the memories of a fine night in the city, now complete chaos when my mind was already in complete chaos, when my roommates told me the story i was livid and scared shitless, i had to talk to him but i also didn't know what to expect, if it kicked off i'd have to hit him with a god damn brick and hope i knocked him out otherwise, the long and the short, i was proper fucked... but here were the three fair maidens i lived with all incensed and upset and so i did my best macho strut as i paced the worn green carpet of the kitchen and cracked a beer, somewhere in my head i heard Theo G. whispering "and when you step/ step with care and great tact/ and remember that life's a balancing act", a razor's edge between setting things right or being pulverized beyond recognition... and so i drained the beer and cracked another, stashed the gear in my room, took a deep breath and dialed the phone...

He picked up, i got straight to the point, i asked if he remembered anything from last night, he laughed and i heard the lighter click as he lit a cigarette, naw man he said, tied one on why?... he was my friend, even then i knew that this was it, that all the good times were over, hanging out and talking shit and reading the stuff we wrote and boozing, it was done, i told him what had happened and what he had said and done, i couldn't have hit him harder if i'd have used a brick, his voice going low and sad, he apologized to me and my roommates, i told him that though i wasn't thrilled with his antics that in the end him and i were cool, i knew he was a good guy he just needed to learn when to stop boozing, when to call it a night and head home, the roomies though, they didn't want him anywhere near the house, didn't want to speak to him, he begged to let him buy and cook them dinner but they wanted no part, it was their right and from what i'd seen and heard there was nothing to say, in their shoes i'd have felt the same... there was only a month or so left of the semester and then i'd head to the beach and he to that big university, Sam started going to AA meetings and i kept running further down the rabbit hole, we hung out one or two more times before we headed different directions, but the balance was off, he was sober and i was a fucking wastoid, at the time i needed every fucking substance i could find or afford, he just needed to straighten out...

The last time i saw him i was at his place, school was about to end and we sat around his place and shot the shit, i asked how his meetings were going and told him to keep it up, that he was to fucking smart and talented to piss it all away, we drank some coffee and had a cigarette, it was a good talk and as i got up and walked out the screen door i stopped on his porch and wished him good luck, he smiled and let out his fucking wild man laugh, it was the first time i had heard it since the night he murdered the frozen pizza, you better keep that luck motherfucker he laughed, you're gonna need it more than me, i smiled, gave a final wave and made my way up the sunlit, gravel street...

7 comments:

Exile on Pain Street said...

Guys like Sam used to make my life a living hell. Lots of fun until they're not. And that fucking Cormac McCathry still owes me $12.95 for the paperback copy of 'The Road.' An overrated blob of misery.

Don't knock self-pretension, self-deprecation and self-importance. Some folks parley it into nice, tidy careers.

I'm 15 years older than My Bride. It was rough going for a long time. It's still not great but they've grown to accept it. Here's a fact to make you queasy: As my wife is 15 years younger than I am, my mother-in-law is 15 years older than me. Ick.

But was he a good guy? Was he? It doesn't sound like it to me. Sounds like if he wasn't a friend, you'd have handled it a lot differently. Like, maybe, put him in the hospital.

Kono said...

Exile- He was a good guy, he was devastated about what he did and hence the reason he quit boozing, it wasn't the first time he had quit and it wouldn't be his last but he was a good cat, one of the few i honestly wouldn't want to tangle with, you gotta be more than a bit fucking crazy to hang iron and he had done that for close to 15 years...

Kono said...

Exile- though i forgot to ask, what is your response if one of your daughters comes home someday with a man 15 years her senior? I'm guessing your bride was in her early 20's when you met/married, as a parent how would you respond? Like i said just curious.

daisyfae said...

i like Sam. i find myself wondering how things turned out for him. Sweet, broken and tragic - but capable of incomprehensible destruction. Zombie drunks - they should fall down and pass out, but they keep going, keep standing, keep trashing things.

Been waiting to read this for a few days - i've been dry since early january, just making sure i can do it. this really made me want a drink... just a few more days...

besidemillwood said...

great words, lovely song.

Kono said...

Daisy- Someday i'll tell you what happened to Sam, tragic, comic, a bit like life, i still hear from him every blue moon.

Millwood- Much appreciated, thanks for stopping by the lounge.

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