Monday, October 19, 2009

Last Edge of Summer At The Freak Show

Maybe not the best title, but it will do. I'll explain the Ellroy cover, you'll have to wait. Hourman, he's easier. The guy in the yellow hood. Rex Tyler, bebopping around hopped up on his Miraclo pill, super-strength for an hour. That's me, an hour to type with one finger, maybe two at times. If they don't trip over each other. But this is not really telling the story, is it? Tick. Tock. 53:02. 52:58. And so on.

The Twilight Tales readings are on hiatus for the time being, and those gathered split into different groups. Outside it was me, Mike, and the two Julies. Darci and Becky had skidooed east. The main idea was that we'd continue to get together as an informal group. The clock neared 10 PM, I scooted down Fullerton to the el. And what an adventure it became. Warm enough that I could stand there with my jacket open, breathing in the sharp tang of an unfiltered cigarette dangling from the hand of a kid in a grey hoodie. A girl in shorts with runners legs. A black guy could have passed as a beatnik, gave me the peace sign. I returned it, chin nodding. Headphones, cellphones. Train light way back, I stare up at a fifth floor apartment, a revolving ceiling fan. I waited for the train, I was close to not being able to make my connection home. I wanted to hear the ceiling fan, but instead sucked in the smoke. The beatnik looked down at the cement. I could describe more people, but some I just singled out. And then the train, marked 95th Street. I want 87th Street, and by 11 PM. Tick Tock. Otherwise I can't get my bus ride home.

The Ellroy cover now. Once on the train I became even more alive, feeling immortal as I do in those dreams I have sometimes described here. The neon scattershot, only teal and blue, not lime and red. But you get the idea, bright, bright, bright as insanity. I'm trying to read Ellroy but I can't. A big tall guy, gangling, says he's blind, shakes a plastic cup. Wears a red and black jacket, maybe that's why he reminded me of a pitcher. Moves a white blind man's can that has silver duct tape near its middle. Talks about not being able to find work, even though he can type faster than people with sight. Out of work, join the crowd. Smell like booze and sweat, keep on moving. Took him until Lake Street to move on. Still can't read Ellroy. Woman in a vomit-green jacket and an orchid scarf starts yelling, seriously, got-damn squalling, about people not going to college, and if we went to a trade school we could rule America. Made no sense at all, but kept drilling the point, so I cut out. At Harrison, I went to the next car, moving quick, it was like Technicolor, two guys wearing the brightest blue jackets getting off as I brush in, everything sticking with me, like an adrenaline high. Mostly it was me knowing the weather was good and would remain so when I waited for my bus. Before I got me a seat, there was the blind man, I saw him head to toe before I sat down. Gangling. Wasn't talking about typing no more, this time it was all God Bless America. Got me thinking, if a blind man sneers, what does he think it looks like? Thoughts flying through my head, my skull a gravity well.

The bus ride was uneventful and I read my book. Bopped from the bus at 11:37, walked a deserted parking lot. Night shift at Dominick's down to three, by the cars. Behind me, the bus reminds me that it goes to 91st and Commercial. I put a toothpick in my mouth and keep looking over my shoulder like I'm a fugitive. Five block walk, I pass a kid and his BFF, he surprises me by asking what was up? No one talks on the night streets anymore. I gave him a hey, how you doin' back. Two blocks up, a guy and a girl, Hispanic, love talkin'. I say what's up, thinking, hey, this might work. They both say hey and hi right back. No moon tonight, just a few cars, more people than cars, which is really unexpected in this godforsaken suburb on a Monday night turning into Tuesday morning. Walk through the church parking lot. I look back at the white house next to the vacant lot, where, on a full moon Monday at the start of summer, a girl got out of her car and I heard a key in the lock. Because that's how quiet it is out here. 12:57 right now. Had the dog out, pissed on some dead grass. I went further down and looked over the fence, saw the suicide window. Where the light is always on, and I'll never get it, even after I eventually write the story. Then he's inside, chewing on a bone I had in my pocket, and I'm up here, teeth clamped on a toothpick because it helps, and I'm typing this all down before I forget. When I close my eyes, I'm not rightly certain if I want to hear carnival music or not. 11:47. 11:43.