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A friend of Dear John. 20010330 rev 20020203
I can still remember the first time I saw anyone die. I wasn't but 12 living in a cheap Chicago apartment with my divorced mother. It was on a clear spring day during my trek home from school in the heart of my favorite park in which I had climbed a tree to see if I could reach a bird's nest, from my vantage point I saw something unlike anything I had ever seen before, nor have till this day.
A mere 20' away an old Chinese man and his grandson, who I usually saw every day feeding the urban fauna, seemed to be talking to 2 police officers. The officers were both laughing. The larger of the two, a huge ox of a man was kneeling next the small boy. The old man seemed uneasy, his birdseed and breadcrumbs laying almost forgotten on the ground. The brawny officer then put his hands to his face pulling the corners of his eyes apart and dancing about while kneeling comically. The child too young and unspoiled to know the meaning of the taunt also did the same. The old man's shoulders stooped in grief, and quivered for an moment, then expanded as he took in a deep breath as if it were his last. Then, in a single immeasurable instant, too fast to see, yet somehow locked into my memory as if in slow motion, he let out a forceful scream as his left leg and left arm extended toward the officer. Locked in that moment, burned into my memory, my childhood, my life, in that moment longer and deeper than my understanding, forced into a fraction of a second, I could see him, every muscle in his elderly frame seemed rock hard, reminiscent of his former youth, his former beauty, his former life; raw fury so elegantly flowing through his being, under this total control, masked beautifully by his elderly, antiquated frame. And that single tear on his cheek symbolizing his unquestionable compassion, which I have strived to see again in this world, but have never found. Frozen in time is that picture of perfection, which I have always held myself to, and have never come close to understanding. The shutter snaped violently trying to make eternity of an instant, the left foot and elbow landing perfectly in sequential harmony, his elbow landing squarely in the center of his chest and his foot just behind the enormous officer's keeping the officer from regaining balance, it didn't matter anyway. I could hear a huge clap as all of the old man's clothes snapped tightly, like the crack of thickly woven martial arts uniforms in old kung-fu movies, except 100 times louder, burned into my memory, seared into my eyes. The officer's chest caved in as if he were a piņata under the vengeful stick of belligerent bohemians, being indoctrinated into a dying and forgotten culture, forgoing the future for respect of the moment. There was an enormous whoosh of air as the officer's world caved in around him, and he hit the ground like a shutter in a tornado, hinged by the old man's expertly woven foot, like the shutter to the camera, that had become my eyes; his fall symbolizing authority and society which had fallen from the light forever, getting just deserts in mirrored and awful sins done onto the innocent. The officer's huge mass just lay there on the ground reminding me of a bowl of huge useless quivering Jell-o. Everything instantly seemed to be silent and still, the breadcrumbs blowing away in the wind, the other officer standing there stupidly, the old man looking at his grandson with tears in his eyes, and the robin's nest within my reach, fledglings bawling hungrily inside. It could have only been an instant, or it could have been forever. I could feel my heart like I've never felt anything before. I leapt from my spot in the tree and ran home as quickly and breathlessly as i had ever the stamina to do. In sympathetic sympathy i chose flight.
When my mother came home from work that night she knew something had happened, but i wouldn't tell her, no matter her prodding. I've never told anyone. I've kept it locked inside like all the world's sorrow within my heart. I was to later learn of the old man's vicissitude, doomed to live the rest of his days behind the steel bars of tyranny. In a way I was to share his fate, though never incarcerated, institutionalized nonetheless, and my soul forever caged like that of the old man, freedom lost to an unjust system. It was the racist officer's death which subsequently lead to another apartment becoming our place of residence, my mother blabbering about how unsafe things had become, and even officers being victims of mindless violence. How little she knew of so many things. I sometimes wonder at her present situation, or what fate had befallen her. Although if only a few moments and 40 years ago I can still remember that officer die more clearly, than i can remember what she looked like, and remember more passion embodied by the Chinaman's tear than all the night jobs she ever worked.
I cannot stop remembering that tear, try as i might, while i oft forget the faces I see during my daily oncology rounds as life slips from countless patients' teary eyes, so does it from my memory. I have become a fallen angel, a king of sycophants, a tyrant of social expectation wearing a bitter mask of honor, said to be a great man, but withered and cold inside the shell. While the idea of helping people has always appealed to me, retrospectively i realize, the only person I've ever really wanted to help was the old man, long since withered to dust in life, but remains beyond my help far outside the breadth of all the hospitals in the world i could possibly own, and imprinted in my dreams.
These thoughts often drift back to me as I cruise the nocturnal streets of the discontent, like time shops and people come and go, the direction of life leading nowhere in particular. I think about all my patients who've died, all the sad eyes shocked into tears by the hard truth of death. It becomes a precession, I watch the same feelings, the same outcomes, the same lives come and go, the same decisions being made, and the same preparations painfully underway. The regrets seen in dying eyes, wishing not for their wasting and wasted lives, all the should-haves, could-haves flickering through their frightened pupils. Like windows into the depths of helpless hopelessness illuminating families wishing they had never disagreed; enemies, they'd not divorced; and children, they'd not rebelled, these swirling untangibles frantically, and chaotically entwined by little more than the feeble grasp to frivolous hope, the hours of prayer grow long, weary, and ultimately unanswered. Lust, and hate, and fire, eventually dwindle and fail leaving nothing but that pit of ache, of truth, and of sadness to gnaw at the center for the rest of mortal time.
The midnight street gleams reflections of lighted signs, billboards and gaudy bamboozlements, like passing lovers never lifting the darkness of night from its home, all the while indoctrinated and pathetic streetlights may be hardly noticed through their entourage. When bathed in sunlight the sidewalks are filled with married couples admiring the shops adorned with Patek purity and novel objectifiables to euthanize their money. The thought of owning somehow overpowering their thoughts of reason, respect, and frontal sentience; almost a primal instinct it becomes to possess, like the hunter chasing the demons of lust and want, imperiled faces turn continually toward the next pupil of sapphire glass.
Buried in black M5 leather, my hands upon stitched perfection buzzing with a kind of life so inherent to the pedigree of the product, I contemplate the difference between light and darkness. Only a brief moment ago the sun fell from the sky and the light fell to darkness; couples made way to singles intent on trading their well-being for a future of suffering. And thus adorning every niche and every recess in the strip beautiful bodies flaunt to passersby's their own disease, spreading wispy hands of influence into the bedrooms of the virtuous and into the hearts of those they love. I've never married nor ever loved, too entwined with my own imperfection to ever dream of imparting it upon another.
The world's so full of sad people, trying to hide their turmoil behind blank smiles made perfect by stainless steel priority, i just another number. And like a mirror this flawed feeling is reflected upon every destitute lover, painting this scene of commercialism in the heart of darkness. The faces I see are not new, but blend into the same bleeding eyes, just clones of the same misery, simple heads of the same revelation hydra. Once healthy arms giving way to the pollution of track marks and once sexy legs adorned with crowns of distended knots, these helpless and hapless creatures scurry for scraps of food like the Chinaman's only love, trading anything for that rush when the pen tears through the vein, men trading anything for the rush when their insides tear through the flesh of another. So many times I've been here before, recycling these same divested thoughts, swallowing this same bitter taste, my weary body upon this same forgiving leather, taken from the same unforgiven creature robbed of life.
Cross-drilled rotors claw to a halt silky rubber upon the road, tinted glass plunging into mystery the un-mysterious me lurking just inside. Down slides the veil at the command of relays embedded into every part of this machine. Her rehearsed smile forced upon the night-lit face peaking through the hole left by lowered glass speaks only for itself, and the body it commands, its innocence lost epochs ago. The simple question, the simple answer determines the fate of the night as uncovered flesh hidden beneath the leather-bound skirt slides into my abode upon creaking black perfect stitch. Etiquette circumvents entrapment as utilitarian silk is hungrily seized by sad but greedy eyes. We drive for a while, she, now inside the bubble of my world, keeping the street at bay, like so many other worlds she has visited only to be cast back to the sharks, and to the bulls. I gaze upon her face, distracted by the passing street and lit horrible and beautiful by neon kin. Some would think it angelic: still young yet hardened to the ways of this world, and some would think it treacherous; such a demon hidden beneath silky skin, for demon's breath taints mortal men, and shapes the lives of those who romance the dangerous, or underestimate the cruelty dealt by those with weak hands. But she and I are not so different, living only for the purpose of trying to bring life to those without, to breathe warm air into hopeless hearts, and light fading eyes forever doomed to dwindle. I think about her quivering femininity softly brushing against the seat, how many others the seat has held, she no different from all of them in her part to play in my world, in this place. The smell of cigarettes and horrible places waifs from her physique and into my nostrils, overpowering the smell of buttery leather seats and carpets permeated with volatile manufacture, casting aside the magic smell of what money can buy with a voodoo of another; though not so different, she and the car, both brought into my world by money, greed, sadness, loneliness, and the flaws in this system, and in the world. My starving soul unsure of its own desire, and her sentience questioning what tonight may bring, whether danger lurks in a habitual deed done a thousand times before/over, and a thousand lives away, she cannot know. In her world the unknown such a pressing and ominous cloud, hovering just over the horizon, in my world defining the lives of everyone I touch, although in both cases known to me all too well, life eaten by a future encoded in genes of the flesh or of the city, the cloud is decay, rust, and failure. They always ask if they can smoke, she like the rest, I always say no, leaving her to awkwardness, fidgeting ungracefully with shaky fingers controlled by neurons screaming for nicotine, or alcohol, heroin, or crack, just frenzied for something to ease the pain of nothing. My hotel like her cloud from the distance overtakes the horizon, looming before us to consume the future. The German thoroughbred slides gracefully through neo-contemporary arches hewn of rustic fabrication and fronds of seduction, blacker and deeper than the starless sky, softly floating to a stop atop cold concrete. The servant savant of the master smiles like a neon wink enticing the power of the pen to pay a visit to his avatar. With assistance from his shackled brother our doors are opened bringing the clear of the night sharply to my senses. Italian leather creaks seductively and arrogantly as my steel chips click in powerful understatement upon the chill concrete. The stitch of seams sewn for kings and lords among mortal men softly swirls in the torrents of my long and steady strides, a graceful melody to the beat of Italian leather whose worth is like that of the heart and known only to the bearer. This playing harmony to the shaky tap of cheap and high leather heals echoing uneasily inside the cavern of the valet's lair, as she takes my arm clad in the silkiest of seductive suede with her fumbling nicotine fingers
Friend of john: but certainly touched by greed, or need, the two so often confused in our quest to feel alive. fishnet nylons and leather heels sillete
Is it right to be happy in a world that does not want you? Is it right for a world to be happy if you've rejected it?