Monday, November 28, 2011

Character Sketch


 There’s lots of things about me people don’t know anything about.  That’s because they never ask.  Did you know that one summer I lived in New York City and played with a band?  We had gigs all over the city. My buddy found that for me.  He had a brother living over there at the time.
    Or that another time I jumped off a hundred and ten foot bridge?  The guy who did it before me broke his ankle.  I landed on my side and had a bruise and sore hip for several weeks.  Guess I'm too old for bridge jumping now, although it's the season.  
    It’s been nice just sitting here.  Although the sun is starting to get awful hot.
    Mind if I bum one of those off of you?  I've just got one left in my pack and have been holding onto it for dear life.
    Lady over there; she's $14 short of a bus ticket.  Told her to go to one of those churches in the area.  One time, in Denver, I was $5 short on a bus ticket--took me two days to come up with the money.  
       My mom sent me a letter a few weeks back about a reunion her family is having.  She’s not the sort to call or e-mail.  I decided to show up for it; it would be nice to get away.  Plus I haven’t seen my mom for maybe five years now.  I’ve already been waiting here half hour.  I know that she will be here, though. She just isn’t the punctual type.
    After the bus dropped us off and everyone cleared out there was still one taxi left who had no one to pick up.  The driver turned up his radio and opened up his car and laid back on the hood.  He played two great songs; "Midnight Special" and "Eye of the Tiger".
    There was some crazy shit going down on the bus.  This one lady; she fell asleep then the guy sitting next to her--guess that he thought that it was the right thing to do--he starts to lick her arm.  Then the driver tells him he has to get of the bus and he starts screaming obscenities at him, every one you can think of.
    This other lady, she came on with her two kids, then passed out on one of them.  The girl was hitting her mom in the face with a shoe trying to get her to get up.  People say that he had a seizure.  I could tell that she was really stoned, her eyeballs rolled back in her head like that.  
    Sure has been nice to get away for this two-day road trip.  I've been doing 10-hour shifts; roustabout work repairing people's pump jacks all day.  My old boss says he can get me a job as manager of Jiffy Lube.  A steady job sure would be nice.  Before this, I was unemployed for a year and a half.  What happened was, got laid off in December and forgot to get my license renewed.  I'd built up 3200 hours in plumbing, but couldn't get a journeyman's because I forgot to renew my license.  Fifteen percent of my income goes to child support. 
    I've done all sorts of things; used to cut hair, to cook; thought about going to culinary school; don't know if I wanted to do that as a career.  Only thing that I haven't done yet is go work on one of those boats out in Alaska.  One of these days I'll get up there, come back with a few grand in my pocket.
    Problem is though that I am really a musician. 
    I got real involved in a band in my early 20s.  That's why I dropped out of school, decided that it really wasn't for me.  I played bass, keyboard, some back-up vocals.  We had lots of local gigs, and even Sony was interested in us for awhile.  Kept thinking we would have our break and make it big.  Never did happen, though.  One of the guys left to get married, another went back to school.  Still have some songs rattling around in my head.  Maybe one of these days I will write them down.
    It's been, oh year and a half since my ex and I split.  We didn't do anything legal or nothing after the breakup, I just send her the child support check every month.  Have a friend of mine, he started to get his paychecks garnished when he wasn't paying, and now his ex- wife hands him the baby every Sunday and says "enjoy your stupid holiday."  Sure am glad we managed to avoid that.
    She was a little bit of a head-case; became an emotional nightmare after just two drinks.  That's because of a motorcycle accident she'd had in her teens.
    Sort of went crazy after we split, though.  I went on a Subway diet and lost 20 pounds in three weeks!  
That was when I got into skydiving.  I’ve jumped at least fourteen times; last time I jumped nude with a bunch of people who I used to party with.
    Plus it's been hard, adjusting socially.  Used to come home and my ex would have a meal all prepared, it was all domestic and like.  Now I've had to learn how to go out and meet people again.  Think that I'm going to acquire a few pieces of flair; maybe a hat with a feather or something; think that should help. 
    At one point during the break-up I was living in the attic and she was on the first floor and I left for the weekend and when I got back all of my stuff was gone.  Found out what it’s like to start over from scratch.
    My ex got a new boyfriend and is already living with just after we split.  And she's been real obsessed with finding out what I am doing and who I was with.  Don’t really understand that.
    I haven’t been able to meet someone else.  Every time I get involved with a girl I put all of the effort into the relationship and she takes my heart out and steps on it and puts it into flames.  I've learned that good looking people don’t always treat you right.
    I met a girl once who wasn’t like that.  This was at a poker party, back in my college days, this was in my 20s.  (I never did graduate.)  I am trying to make him NOT of that 'I go to college and graduate' cultural cross-section.  She was pretty in sort of an unusual way; lots of freckles and didn’t have that real done-up look that I have always found unattractive.  It was more the way she talked that I liked; always making jokes but didn’t have to be the center of attention, or how she would mention things like a trip to Prague or her family’s condo in France in a real ordinary way that made these far-off places somehow seem accessible.  Just got the feeling she was the kind of girl who you might have spent the entire day with not doing anything at all.
    She really kicked our asses good.  I thought my mom had taught me how to play but she really showed me!  We sure was glad that we decided not to play for money that night.  I’d say that is the closest that I have ever come to love at first sight.  Although I don’t know if I even believe in that as a concept.
    Professor back in college said that you never really love another person; you only love your idea of that person.  Don’t know if I agree with that either.
    My dad is the one who got me interested in all of the philosophers.  Plato was his favorite, but he read all sort of things.  He used to read to me about Lady Philosophy and stories like Siddhartha or the allegory of the cave when I was just a little boy.  He’s passed away now, almost fifteen years now.  One day I opened the door to the basement at our house and the light was on, which was unusual.  So I stepped down a few stairs, and I saw him sitting there in an old recliner.  Kind of funny, I thought, since it was the middle of the day, and the light was on and all.  I called to him and he didn’t answer me, so I went down and thought that he was sleeping.  What really had happened is that he had swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills.
    Oh, sure, I miss him.  Think that is why I ended up studying philosophy in college.  Although I can’t say that I remember a lot of it anymore.  Think that it was Descartes who said something about “I am only wise in that I am not wise” or something like that.  I think that he was really onto something there.
    I mean, life is so complex.  When I was six, I thought that I knew everything.  I wanted to be Eric the Red.  Then, when I grew up and started going to school, I found out that everything had already been discovered.
    My mom should be showing up pretty soon now.  She sure did sound glad when I called and told her that I was coming home.  Although she has never been the punctual type.
    Anyway, I don’t mind.  Just gives me some time to sit here and think.  Although the sun is starting to get awful hot.
    I wonder whatever happened to that girl.  I can’t even remember her name anymore; just her red hair and eyes, low and slanted, like two grey stones.  And how she really kicked our asses good.  Boy.  We sure was glad that we decided not to play for money that night.
    And I wonder if it is true that 'in all chaos there is a cosmos' or if it's all just a mess and nothing really makes sense.
    And I wonder if someday I am going to have my break.  Or if somewhere, somehow, it’s already come and I missed it.

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