A screaming comes from the balcony of the apartment next to you, some one else is drunk under the summer moon again, the armies of the night troll the residential streets looking for the cars they parked for their pub crawls on the business strip three blocks away. More screams, yelling, every clumsy curse word you ever on the play ground said this time with no relish or daring, just animal sounds an animal makes when you poke it with a stick. I'd been working late, writing away on some issue or the other, Bill Evans playing sweet and brittle piano through my head phones as I let the screen swell with paragraphs praising Mailer, DeLillo, Joyce Carol Oates, yet again, for raising the conciousness of the era, or at least inspiring me again to write late into the evening.But then the writing is over and the computer goes off, and when I take off the headphones, helicopters swoop over the roof, police radios crackle along a wet, dank street, drunk males are scrambling over the fences to avoid the Long, Arthritic Arm of the Law.
Thank god for His Miracle Invention of Ear Plugs. At a younger age I would be in someone's face, making threats, chest puffed for a fight.What can you do? There's a minute of satisfaction telling some to shut up when they've woken you up more than once, late at night. But then comes the idea, the cold and sobering realization that the only thing you've done is come off like a cranky old geezer who's ready to choke on his congealing sense of comfort. There's a principle at stake, yes, but it has everything to do with my sense of what's right for me, of what I think I'm owed in small measure rather than the application of any greater good.
I just want the nights to be as quiet as the likes mom and dad enjoyed before they decided to have us kids. There is the on going irony of aging, getting older, that the original night owl alkie is now a middle aged working stiff who requires his sleep, and feels the creaks and groans of the joints and the disposition if he hasn't the fabled eight hours, give or take. That much annoys the fuck out of me, and it's not uncommon to find myself using it as a way of making the noisy kids somehow correct in their pestering ruckus.
The facts remain, though, that it's most likely that I'll continue to wave my shoe like grandma used to , and make the harrummmmpphhing noise when it comes down to my will or nothing at all. Sometimes I wonder if I was born or merely set aside in another dimension of newspaper grey and was launched into this world because what ever the case was running low on the premium designs. It's a habitual thought, a shudder of doubt when staking hands or crossing streets or visiting people who and which are so familiar, so complete in intimate nuances and shared knowledge that they seem alien and strange, like specimens under glass in a museum I keep visiting for a lesson that just keeps turning the corner to the next gallery when my hard shoes hit the tile. Everything I look for is just out of focus, short of the designs I see and have drawn.
Believing the world is seeing beyond the box scores and trusting what it says on the certificate; the biography has already been started, a page of facts that have gotten absurdly complicated, in love their own inventory of details that are pressed now in their uniqueness, creased and pleated, ready for rough waters I imagine await at the end of the map, where boats fall off and drift with sails full of solar wind until I wake up and yawn and scan the items on the table, the newspaper, the dirty bowls, someone else's pack of Marlboro 100s. The universe is reassembled, seamless as death itself.
Years ago I wondered if there was life on other planets precisely at the time when she left me, or asked me to leave, I wondered who else in this darkness knows this hurt as well as I?, and I stared for hours at her apartment as if trying to make the walls fly away, to lift her off the sofa, away from her meal , and bring her into my arms where I stood in the dark, next to a payphone, with out change to call out far enough to the wilderness where there is only wind and tall grass, maybe houses at the bottom of canyons that you see from jets leaving your home town before you enter the clouds that will drag on the wingspan, I would stare and the walls would stay where the carpenters intended them to remain, there was nothing to see, but I stared harder, right through the building, to the stars I knew were there, receiving radio waves, TV shows, thoughts of strong desire translatable only by action, hear me, hear me, who else shivers in a dark corner in unique misery, genius of articulated regret, who else speaks when no language gets the purity of the idea right, just right, thus forcing one to live in craziness, at the end of the alley, drinking from bottles I've pealed the labels from? As usual, the stars don't answer, they don't say a word.