I woke up to the National Tragedy. Well, yea, the news. Sure. I don't actually read or watch it any longer. I skim the paper's headlines, though. "Climate Scientist Claim Honest Year on Earth." "What You Need To Know About The Coming Epidemic." No, probably not. Depending on which paper you read, you are likely to be posed a question. "Are You Prepared For The Coming Epidemic?" Or "Ten Things You Need To Know About The Upcoming Elections."
I only read the fluff pieces now. I'm sick of the arc of the new journalistic storytelling. Every story is written as a narrative by a would be novelist.
"In the dark corners of New York's worst housing project, I found Mary, a single mother of three children, once addicted to heroin, trying to piece her life back together."
The National Tragedy to which I am referring is the changing of the clocks. I'd forgotten. The little 1970s clock radio in my bedroom with the Liquid Crystal red numerals said. . . wait, it's getting light, what? Fuck me. I don't even have to go to work and the time change has already screwed me up. I've been preoccupied, I guess, these last few days of being a Party Boy.
Now the jig is up. The party's over. Sky left yesterday, went back to her life, back to the world of the living. Really? What did I think? Am I not old enough to know a moment can't last forever? But she brought life to me for an instant. It was as if stepping from a tomb and breathing air again. The air is not as sweet this morning. It is hollow, empty practical air. Still, I sense the wafting of frangipani and scented candles. Some things linger.
I have a potential buyer for the image at the top of the page. An "R" with money.
"Normally I get $450 for an unframed 30"x20" print. But for you, my friend, I have a special price."
It's the only image of mine he's seen, so who knows.
While Sky and I were drinking wine and eating almonds, Mr. Tree came by. I'd seen him on my walk a few days earlier.
"Do you like avocados?"
"I eat one about every day."
"I just cut down a big avocado tree. I'll bring you some."
He did. At the wrong moment.
"There's a man walking up the driveway," she said. "He's coming to your door."
"Nobody comes here."
"Well, it sure as shit looks like this fellow is."
I felt badly when I took the avocados.
"Hey, man. . . thanks. . . I'm a. . . ." I gestured to the pretty woman sitting inside.
"Oh, sure, sure. . ." he said giving me a big hug.
"I don't know why, but I always become friends with the people who do work for me. Well, I mean I pay them, but some relationship or bond seems to form."
"Me, too," she said. "I have a housekeeper, and then there I am sitting across the table from her at Thanksgiving."
"Wait. What? You have a housekeeper?"
Yea, she has a housekeeper.
The tenant came by to drop off the rent check last night.
"What's that smell?" she asked.
"Probably sautéed garlic, shallots, and mushrooms."
"No, it is sweet."
The departing aura remains.
"That's really nice."
And then. . . "Who was that on the deck with you last night? Was that Ili?"
I knew this was going to happen.
"Oh. Was it Sky?"
Bowl me over with a feather. WTF? It is not like they ever met.
"She's got a nice car."
She said something about what they cost.
"That's why I thought it was Ili."
Ili drove a nice car, too.
"Yea. . . Sky did O.K."
What can I tell you. I have a type. I like slick women in expensive clothes and nice cars. It makes me feel good, I think, that they'll stop and pick up a dirty stray off the street and let it ride in the passenger's seat.
Sky wanted to know what happened with Ili and me. Isn't that always the question? What happened?
"I don't know. I think she stopped liking me."
"Do you still love her?"
We were being honest with one another. Opening up. I just looked at her biting my lip. It wasn't a problem. We talked of the many Loves of Skylar, too. We are rich emos, both lovers. Neither of us can ever stop loving someone we once loved. I think it an admirable trait.
Skylar and Iliana are similar in age, but that is all. No, that is not all. They are both crazy as shithouse rats. That's why I love them, I think. Probably.
"Go ahead. Jump. The water's deep."
That's my old pal C.C. talking. He's a real hoot, that C.C. But I've been channeling him, his advice. It is all bad. All of it. What else is there to do with it but pass it on. I want Skylar to write the first half of her memoir. She still has half to live. But she has already left a footprint. Beautiful young redneck girls goes to Gotham and makes it big. Lives the life fandango. So I've been encouraging her. I give her all the advice C.C. gave me. Write every day. Don't try to be good. If you try to be good, you will fail and not write. Try to write something bad. It is fun. Eventually the writing evolves.
No, I confess. . . some of it is my advice, too. Writing every day brings focus to your world. What seemed like random events become connected. Your life takes on a narrative flow. It is exciting. You can't wait to see what the next part of the story is going to be. Eventually, as Jim Harrison once said, you can't tell if you are thinking or writing. You can't quit putting experiences into words and phrases. And sometimes. . . when you get it down just right. . . it is thrilling.
Maybe I go too far. Writing is therapeutic, I say.
"As long as you are honest with yourself. I won’t speak of the trouble that can come from that, and I know that you cannot be honest with me about me without killing me. And that goes for anyone else, your mother, father, husband, daughter or best friends. How does your song go? “Lie to me, I promise, I’ll believe.” Yup. That is what people do in life. But don’t do it in writing. Tell the truth, the whole truth. Break bones and minds and hearts. Do you owe people nothing but lies? The sweet lies we tell people cause the most harm, but the worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves."
Why would I tell somebody to do that? Nobody writes it down. Hardly anyone. We like to live in the miasma. Our brains and hearts are undisciplined.
"What's that song you used to like? 'Lie to me. I promise, I'll believe.'"
Yes. That is how we are. "Just don't leave."
Sky went back to her life, and I am back in mine. Mr. Tree brought me avocados. I must thank him. Maybe lunch. I need to wash the apartment screened porch. I don't think that fellow will actually buy the print. There is so much I need to do. I've been sleepwalking for years now. I need to make footprints, too.
"The one who writes it keeps it," James Salter wrote. I'm a romantic. I'm a lover. And I know that moments can be infinite, too.