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A Hole to China: Part 5

The fifth of five parts.

Part 1: She left. I asked for it, I think.
Part 2: They met in a bar.
Part 3: Favoring the He-Fucked-It-Up version of events.
Part 4: A nuclear desire for revenge.

*

Billy remembered the proud day he told his parents what he wanted to be, finally, after they went into a semi-autistic trance just harping: "What are you going to do?" over a period of about 5 years, and so Billy got into his sailing jacket, white Sansabelts, and blue Keds to announce his true and final decision.

"Mother and Dad? I want to be Goethe."

They were silent.

"Gerta," Billy enunciated, trying to be precise.

Yet, silence.

"A fine writer and musician and scientist and philosopher and politician. CAN-DO, you know?"

"That Nazi just liked to drink and fuck!" went Pharaoh McMann in silence to only himself.

And Billy did harbor the pathetic delusion that such work lent itself to mostly drinking and fucking. That it really wasn't work at all. He was thinking (cleverly, he thought) he'd be a Renaissance Man in lieu of having a real job, no?

Yes.

Good one, Billy.

Hole to China

It was his way of figuring out how to do the least with the most reward. Like all that work he used to do as a boy faking brushing his teeth - he could have brushed his goddam teeth with less effort. That's what Mother said when she busted him. He was again finagling an escape, an escapism. Florid with romance. Billy conveniently forgot about all the real jobs Goethe actually had. Hell, even Dr. Zhivago knew he had to have a real goddam job no matter how sensitive he was. Billy was most hip to the apparent perks, most attracted indeed, and most unhip to the costs. And he would pay for that unhipness, too, in good old time. Getting hip would cost.

Pharaoh knew what his son was thinking, and was afraid for him. Pharaoh did his utmost to discourage these inclinations, as perhaps was his duty, but at the same time he didn't blame the boy and hell, "maybe I'd be thinking the same damn thing." Unfortunately, even at this relatively late date, Pharaoh was still Pharaoh and thus he had no choice but to play hardball. No prisoners.

To Billy, they didn't appear to get it. Mother imagined it was a gag, and not a very funny one at all, and so she would, without fail, go: "No. Really."

Billy had no idea what to say. It was obvious what had gone down and what would continue to go down over the course of these semi-autistic years of theirs. They became like televisions, Mother and Pharaoh, just saying things and not really hearing things.

One thing for sure: It wasn't A Decision That Billy Had Made it was A Problem That Billy Was Having. Yes. What to do about this Problem, then.

The silence, and the memory of the totality of that silence, reminded Billy of the silence that followed the click of the phone after Anna said goodbye for good, when Billy knew that, to Anna, he was Ian Holm in that scene in Alien: a detached head, useless, drooling and sputtering a jazzy foulness.

It was a deep silence.

I and I went: "Whoa."

The air in the room became cold in that moment, and in the moments that followed one right after the other, and there appeared in Billy's mind the image of dust and dried leaves being whisked away in a sunny wind, ashes that had once been Peter Cushing as Dracula in a Hammer film.

That sequence of film in a loop, endless and slow, a minute that was one century long.

Then his solar plexus clenched quick and hard and stayed that way for over a fortnight straight, as the light of day got shorter, his breath too was getting shorter, and the darkness went on and on and it was cold, and nothing was being born. Remembering most vividly only the shittiest things he'd done and said to her (ah, Memory!), an actual purgatory of sorts.

Pharaoh McMann thought for what seemed like an abstract and extended moment that his son had just proclaimed that he wanted to be a woman. "Gerta." It resonated in his head. And so he further surmised that his dear and almost completely faithful wife Miriam had won out, that she'd actually gotten this child to want to be a woman. "Mother always liked Billy better," was Pharaoh's sky-Blue perpetual refrain.

"My son wants to be a bum," Pharaoh did out loud softly go.

"Just because he doesn't want to be you?"

Billy and Pharaoh both were simultaneously awed by Mother's candor.

*

Anna Gaun had a pure, raw, animal strength, an almost tensile strength, that Billy only heard once translated into vocal rage. They'd been hanging out a lot, her and Billy, they were at her place uptown, and she was in the kitchen feeding Shivers (the Drooler). Billy sat in the front room looking at the Exercycle, wondering what on earth people actually did with the things. The cat apparently was being a bitch, and Anna went "Knock it OFF!" in a shrill, almost manly bark and Billy felt a chill, a rush of his own cold blood, imagining flames coming out Anna's nostrils.

He knew there was plenty of raw power there to respect and be wary of.

He had actually poked around for it before, trying to goad her, but he never tapped the furor he heard from down the hall in the kitchen that day in the first yet-glowing months of their loving until much later, and not completely on purpose.

They would talk about animal heaven. She was mortified to understand Billy's decidedly non-pastoral views about nothingness and the non-beyond. Billy thought nothingness was heavenly, that one's spirit would blend back into the greater spiritual pool. Anna seemed to have a cartoon vision of animals with white wings dancing on happy white clouds, jumping hoops through one another's animal halos.

When Billy first saw Anna and, he would be joyed to learn later it was mutual, he was stopped dead in his living tracks by total, utter, animal lust. Period. The rest of it was just showing up. Boom. Billy's heart seemed to thrust out of his chest, billowing his shirt. Later, he would sustain an erection in her regard. He simply couldn't help it.

"She's not my type, I know it, I know it."

Ultimately they were both just animals but animals who could have a nice conversation once in awhile.

Anna felt as helpless and vulnerable as a small, solitary animal in a big, foul city. And she needed assurances that Billy was not yet man enough to provide with any semblance of grace.

"Let's make a clean break."

Goodbye, Billy. Hello, sweet nothingness.

Ghost diary: "Anna calls me."

"What the fuck is she calling me for? So I can comfort her for having broken up with me?! Man! thought I was no good all of a sudden or something, sure. So what is this about now? She plays me like a fucking viola. I'm like, 'Leave me alone if I suck so bad. Really. You're the one that decided that we couldn't be together. It was definitely not my decision. I wanted to keep trying. But I guess if you have to try that should tell you something. Why do I have to hear from you now that I'm getting used to us not being together? In or out, goddammit!'"

"Let's just get back together. Or, if it's over, just please leave me the fuck alone. Being friends is just not in the cards. It just doesn't work that way. If it hurts more to be apart than to be together then let's get the fuck back together."

"We've been having the same damn conversation, a hundred different ways, since that fucking party, that stupid fucking party that I went to make her happy and I ended up making her hate me. I'm not good at pretending to dig things I don't dig, and I guess if two people are going to stay together you have to do a lot of pretending. What is the fucking point in making your mate do things they hate to do? What does it prove? Nothing. Nothing at all."

"Just like with Bethany, except she finally moved out of town, really sealing it. We'd talk every once in a while and it would be weird and stilted and vague and easily annoying, very fragile, and I would just want to get back together. She would say not and then I would say 'Then leave me alone.' It's like, they want to keep being friends except they just broke up with you which is not what I would call the friendliest of acts. It comes down to they get whatever they want whenever they want it. And then you break up, and they still want what they want. That's the deal. Still whatever they want whenever they want it, even after they shut your ass down. So I'm like, 'Here's the deal: How about if neither of us gets what we want? How about it?'

"But, I swear to God, if they can pull it off, more power to them."

"Dead is dead. When the light goes out in a woman's heart, it's out. Goodbye now and it has been good to see you. You try to be Dr. Frankenstein and revive the dead heart, but, once you've blown it, it's blown. The toothpaste, it is out of the tube. You try to argue, to logic your way back into that glorious spontaneous past, you actually sit there and explain why this is all wrong and why it makes all kinds of sense to start loving me again. Jesus. How pathetic. But, you have to try. Of course, the most effective thing to do is pretend you absolutely do not give a shit. Again, pretending. I suck at pretending."

"Animals are animals. Logic matters somewhere beyond the planet Pluto. Goodbye now."

For Billy, and his work, it was put up or shut up. He said he'd write a novel if he ever found the time. Well. How about being fired from your job and then being dumped by your woman? Got any time on your hands? At least he finally had a title: "My Wife's New Boyfriend." Had a beginning, even, often the toughest part: "Suddenly and wholly without warning, our hero was out of a job. Just as suddenly and seemingly wholly without warning, our hero found himself utterly and singularly unattractive to members of the opposite, sex, even just platonic friends." He was out of excuses. He would cast himself, cleverly, he thought, as a romantic, genius-protagonist. Yes.

"This was going to be easier than I thought."

Good one, Billy.

Life kills everybody. How long can you lollygag amidst the gewgaw and hobbledehoy? How long would it be before the Sheriff came knocking at the back door, with a big, big bill in his hand? And suddenly, and (almost) wholly without warning, Billy had a desperate jones for food, coffee, sex, and rent.

-

J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Images graciously provided by Brett Johnson.





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Posted on December 7, 2007


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