Interludes #6 (On Writing & Editing)

I walked until I was coated in the pine dust. I know what the mission is now. RETURN TO THE PINE DUST FORGETTING FORREST. That can be the only solution; forget; forget everything.

Like all good dope addictions, the experience is full of contradictions. Each night I lay down, knowing it’ll go away. Every good and bad memory that bubbles around in my head, as the dust does its thing. Second first light hits my eyes, it’s all slammed right back in, like all of thanksgiving dinner shoveled right into your mouth in one shot.

I’ve become two men, the one who remembers and the one who forgets, or the one is happy and the one who isn’t. Forgetting is happiness. Silence is happiness. Remembering is evil. The world is evil.

I don’t know why all the bad memories come back first. My Aunt smashing a piece of birthday cake in my reluctant one year old face, my Mom dragging me and my sister to the neighbors house while she ran to the hospital to see her dying estranged Father, going no-handed and then taking a nose dive off the swings at six , seeing a stepsister crying out in front of the house waiting on her ‘real mom,’ who stood her up, me crying another night, clutching my favorite dog who was slated to be ditched the next day by my Mom, waking up one morning to find my Mom rocking another filthy, ringed neck baby that had been dropped of in the night by CPS and wondering can we really handle all this, hearing my brother’s been ADHDd and now can’t go to the same school as me, early one wintery morning being teased about my parents getting divorced, slapped by Wendy Pickle at eleven for being a punk, twelve years old, in the basement, smoking with a bunch of buddies, the fall that broke my collar bone at summer camp, laying my bike down after bombing a hill, the tortured junior high relationship with Sarah Apenado (in three acts), a classmate from grade school dead at thirteen, swollen and balding with whatever cancer killed him, plump in his casket, his poor Mother’s face at all these kids as they go past crying, offering small awkward words of remorse and encouragement…and all that’s before I even roll over.

By the time I stand up it’s all right there. Spinning in my head every little disgusting tidbit, every dirty little deed and horrific little truth paraded right across my mind screen, getting t-boned in a car accident, fourteen and slugging it out with a kid in his front yard, the open faced mouths of my classmates on 9-11 as I go running down the hall late for class, my mom crying the morning realizing she was knocked up single, broke,  and 39, the night my Dad deep in a midlife crisis left me and my older Brother sitting at his house with Grandma’s number shakily scratched out on a piece of paper, my older sister lying on a hospital bed, post-op, head all wrapped up from her brain surgery, jerking off in a jail cell at eighteen, my angelic seventeen year old cousin laid out on another hospital bed, in a coma and likely brain dead from adverse reactions to some stupidly prescribed psychotropics, all the death defying (or provoking) drug and booze episodes, seeing friends melting away before me…

I remember watching my Dad emptying out my Great Grandma’s house, and finding all her old newspapers, magazines and stuff. Pack rat, I guess, if you’re thinking like an asshole. Strangest part was the little bits though, of seemingly random stuff, written in all the margins, little notes of minutia. It makes me wonder if Great Grandma had this too; I hope not.

I cried full on blubbering tears each morning. My wife tried to catch the kids before they get passed the door, but then I got smart and just sort of laid there under covers, for the first ten minutes each day and just gingerly downloaded all the terrible bits. Then it was up and it world, here I come!

It had gone on for an eternity (over a month our time now) and then the forest just stopped this Friday, like the perfect finish line, cut off by a rolling river.

Now here’s a weird things to note. You come to this river, coated in the neon green forgetting dust, in LaLa-Land, and you have just enough of whatever creature rolls around left inside that constitutes something we could call a self, to know that you DO NOT want to go in the river. It’s flowing right in front of you, frigid, burbling and gurgling. Your primitive mind knows it would be deadly to jump. Worse, it’s pushing hard enough that it will knock all this dust junk right off you. Despite the soul shattering torture that comes rolling in each morning, you’re still not getting even thinking of getting in that river. The forgetting is still too good.

But then you blank and you wake up in the middle of the river. It’s like drowning in a water slide packed with too many people. Someone will bump you, and try to grab your arm, trying to make it across. If you’re lucky, I guess, you wake up on the other side, beat up, but dry. That’s what happened to me anyway. Then you just start walking again, because The Muse is bitchy and the river rages too hard to go back.

I know this whole endeavor raises a number of dare I saw “Meta-issues” and I am well aware the audience may be wondering if this is so much bullshit. They may say, rightly so, this reeks of the fantastic (and desperate). To you, astute reader, I would reverse it and ask, what are you doing with your life?

When we came upon the kid last night, he was picking rocks out of his wooden stump. It looked homemade, and yet also ancient and perfectly fitted to his leg. Like a bonsai tree, a number of branches dangled, elegantly trimmed, from the sides. This beautiful stump was a stark contrast to the countenance of the young man who wore it, but who are we to judge a kid with a stump?

When we walked by, he was picking out rocks from the bottom of it and was muttering something about “those bastards.” She seemed in extra pissed off mood, and just kept walking. She must miss the Pine Dust Forgetting Forrest, as much as I do. She totally ignored the young man as we passed. I stopped, and she just kept on walking, didn’t even look back.

I was too shook to say anything (I couldn’t believe another person could occupy this world), so instead I just listened to the guy’s rant. “He first came when I was six years old, an innocent, little, six year old. They left me on the mushroom trail to keep the fires burning for other travelers. He runs and screams, just like the wind, and howls that he will come again, when I’m older.”

At first it sounded like a song, sung by a frightened little boy, but then he coughed and barked and his voice became strangely old and deep. “Bastards left me at twelve, after all that whining. Told them for years about what he had said would happen if I came back. Parents witnessed the nightmares. Told me I was ‘crying wolf’ and wasn’t no monster over here. Parents are nice enough people, would have let me skip it themselves, but rite and coincidence said it had to be me. Showed up, took my leg!” At this he finally acknowledged me for a second, grabbed me, and held me in the direction of his leg. I reached out and strummed the longest branch. He seemed to approve of the gesture and it calmed him down some. He still kept ranting though.

“Beast came while I was asleep of course. Woke up to it, snapping down on my foot. Took it like a chicken, and choked on it! Can you believe the horror? Passed out, woke up, whole town packed in my room. They wanted to know what happened? Can you believe that? After all those years of me hollering and wailing about that thing, and with them finding me almost dead, most my blood spilled out on the forest floor, they still didn’t get it! Those bastards said I must have tripped and broke my leg and then crawled back to camp. It was an accident! Can you believe this Sir?”

“No,” I said. “Why didn’t they believe there could be a wolf?”

“What’s that?”

I said it again, but he kept looking at me confused. I said it again and I realized my words were coming out in a mumble, and for a second I had the strangest feeling of linguistic and imaginary vertigo, and I saw my bed sheet! My head was pressed against the bed and I was staring into my bed sheet. But then it was gone and I was back on the trail, sitting on the log with the peg-legged kid.

This time I spoke very slow and tried to annunciate each syllable. He followed each word intensely and finally seemed to understand.

“Accent’s thick Sir,” he said. “Yeah, that’s a complex question. Had to do with the promise and all that, but that is Scientist type stuff and I don’t know much about it. The way the Scientist put it to us though is, ‘there are no natural predators in this sector.’’’

Of course I asked him what in the hell was a sector? Were there other sectors? And how did we move in between sectors? Oh and, what the fuck was going on? He started to answer some, but then all his words got jumbled, and it started to sound like bells ringing, and then the singing you always hear over there, and I woke up to the birds orchestrating out my window.

So dear reader, we return again to the purpose of this document. I am stuck in a loop, between two worlds, and it is making me very sleepy. I laid there for a while, very relaxed, for the first time in about a month. Meeting the young man has changed things somehow. I think it’s because this is the first time, over there, I’ve meet another “real person”. When I go back, I’ll definitely ask his name. The “young man” sounds too weird and abstract.

Next Chapter

Snippets #49

A Medicine for Melancholy-Ray Bradbury

From short story, A Scent of Sarsaparilla

It’s not impossible, he thought, half closing his eyes, trying to see it and built it. Consider an attic. Its very atmosphere is Time. It deals in other years, the cocoons and chrysalises of another age. All the bureau drawers are little coffins where a thousand yesterdays lie in state. Oh, the attic’s a dark, friendly place, full of Time, and if you stand in the very center of it, straight and tall, squinting your eyes, and thinking and thinking, and smelling the Past, and putting out your hands to feel of Long Ago, why, it… (102)