Saturday, June 4, 2011

Quite a Twisted Time

Quite a Twisted Time  © Solomon


This has been a boss weird couple of weeks. The weirdest since my first tour in the Grateful Dead Show through Western Massachusetts, Eastern New York, Vermont, and Southern Canada . That was back in the ’70’s… I think. Who knows for sure. Whatever.
So, here’s what went down recently…
I was staying in a room at the edge of town. I’d just moved back to Noho so I’d be able to get together with my Chinese writing partner, Dr. Tao, to finish up work on a book/movie deal we have in the works. Some things cannot be done via email. Madmen on a mission must, sooner or later, collaborate in an adjacent space and time. So, I took this place after speaking on the phone with what seemed like an agreeable fellow who had a room to let. He managed a joint for the absentee owner. The next day he took my first and last month’s rent. The guy’s name was Boxo.
Within a day, he was no longer agreeable. He was the most disagreeable man that I have ever met. The first morning I woke there, before 8AM, the guy was having what I would learn was his usual breakfast. That was cheap beer. That first beverage would prompt him to burp loudly and with great satisfaction before the angry complaining would start to issue from a foul mouth as beer froth dripped from this ogre’s shaggy mustache. Around 11AM, it was cocktail time. Rum and Coke! The anger and whining rage at an unforgiving universe that done him wrong intensified. At this point, I’d leave to go work with my partner across town, or to just get away from the torment.
I’d come home around 6PM, to get dressed down for doing my “faggy things” downtown. He’d mouth off about how the Jews where ruining his life. I am a Jew, but not gay. Nonetheless, while the Jew-thing put me off, just a bit, the “faggy-thing” really twisted my ethical shorts. I stand with anybody who gets picked on for being born as they got born.
I said to him: “Yeah. I’m a Jew and I’m a fag.” I went upstairs to write in my room until he likely passed out, but unable to tune out the continuing chaos downstairs.
He would not pass out for several hours. First he had to whirl and stumble through the Hour of Nagging the Girlfriend, and more beer. Then, there was the brief thirty minutes of The Blessing of Yeasty Happiness, when all was right with this bozo. This was followed by the Mysterious Rite of Barfing, and finally the Moment of Splendid Collapse on the Couch. Of course, not being a supplicant of the Orthodox Church of the One True Drunk, he was allowed to take the sacrament of Procumbent on the Floor.
This went on, day after day for about fifteen or sixteen days. Who’s counting? Eventually, though, the Great Moment of Reckoning occurred. This dude was the sort of drunk that seldom remembered what he had done the previous day, nor how much booze he had washed down his poisoned gullet. He had, the evening previous to the Final Accounting swilled down not only all of his bad beer, but his girlfriend’s rum. Finding the fridge barren of liquid gruel and no intoxicating sugar drink to mend his bruised pia and dura maters, he was a very grumpy troll. So was his girlfriend, the over-plump Ms. Dixie. She railed on his soul and threatened to kick his fat, sweaty ass.
Boxo was not a man to be treated in such a way. No! He was a Marine. Never mind that the U.S. Marines kicked him out the corp before he got through an enlistment engineered by a parole officer to keep that fat sweaty ass out of jail for numerous and sundry crimes as an addled and possibly mentally handicapped youth. A Marine is always a Marine. Ms. Dixie backed down and retreated to cry in the bedroom when threatened with yet another beating by this trained killer.
He turned his sites on me. He blamed me for tossing back that jug of rum and ten cans of beer. Now, I haven’t had a drink in about sixteen months, and I never much favored rum. Grain alcohol and branch water was my drink, chased by ten or twelve hits of speedy blotter acid. None of that sissy rum and coke stuff for me. Jeezuz! If you’re going to do a job, do it right. Whatever. Those days have passed for me. But, Boxo never got to drink that wine. He’s a sad man, a miserable man who has never tasted ecstasy. Now he was blaming me for his troubles with a fat lady who was just plain scared of him and his poor behavior.
Anyhow, I look into his dilated eyes beneath his sweaty brow. He’s clenching his thumbs in his fat fists, kneading them like putty, as he hunches forward and proclaims, “Buddy, I want you out of here!” I can smell the funky musk of adrenaline and alcohol on his breath.
“That’s fine. I’ll pack my things. What about my next month’s rent? You owe me money.”
“Fuck you, man. I’ll rip your ears off!”
Now, my dad was also a Marine. He was the first guy to enlist on the morning of June 7th, the day after the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor. He actually got his picture on the first page of the New York Times, and he became a Marine Drill Instructor.  He was a formidable man and a good father. When I was a kid he taught me a few things about how Marines fight.
In an instant I remembered some of those lessons. First, I recalled him telling me that a reasonably fit human can truloy rip another guy’s ears off. It takes just three foot/pounds of torque and a good twist to make the enemy earless. Second, you should never bring a weapon to a fight unless you mean to use it. In the present situation, my weapons were my hands and feet, as were my opponent’s. Third, if you know that your enemy has a vulnerability, exploit it. Forth, if the opponent engages you in hand to hand combat and goes for your head, duck, turn around and kick as hard as you can at that soft spot. I knew that Boxo had a blown out right knee!
Now, if he had come after me, I could have possibly achieved those first four steps and saved my hide. But, step five was not appealing. Once I had the pudgy bastard down, I had been instructed to stomped on his head until his skull was crushed or his neck broken. And, of course, there was the Prime Directive issued by my father. If you’re going to do it, DO IT! In other words, don’t even think about what you have to do before you defend or attack.
Whoops! I’d just thought about it. I would not have minded killing this jerk, but dealing with the following mess, the puke and shit, blood, a corpse and the cops was not to my liking. Neither was the prospect of time in prison.
Fortunately, at that moment of crisis, a neighbor came out of his garage with his lawn mower and took notice of a conflict on the adjacent property. Boxo took a deep breath. I stepped back and quietly asked him when and where I should meet him to get the money owed. He mumbled  grumpily, “Tuesday, May 31st, the parking lot by Pop’s… you faggot.” I went upstairs to pack and make a couple of phone calls, hoping to find a place to land later in the day. Meanwhile, Boxo did a woozy dance with the rig of his old motor boat before swerving down the road toward the river for an afternoon of endangering others on the public waterways.
May 31st, the Day of Near Final Collision, arrived. I arrived at the parking lot outside of Pop’s to find Boxo getting into his big, yellow Econovan with a case of beer and a handle of rum. In the passenger seat was his buddy, another murderous thug so loony that even the Marines found him useless. The buddy was waving an envelope from the window, and I walked up to get whatever was in it. As I reached for the package, Boxo stomped on the gas, fish-tailing the van and almost clobbering me with the rear end, but I got the envelope!
As Boxo and his moron accomplice weaved down Main Street at speed, I counted my change. He’d only given me half of the money owed. Whatever. Our paths were untwined. I took some satisfaction in the prospect that the cruiser waiting up the street would pull him over and send his sweaty butt to jail and thence to court for his third DUI. I had a roof over my head for the next few days, and a place to write. The weather was sunny and mild. I had some cash in my pocket. It was a good day. Nobody got killed.
Res Ispa Loquitor
Ad Endum
There’s an amazing recording by The Bard, Robert Hunter that is dear to me. It’s called Tiger Rose and it includes a tune called that I do love. Here’s a capable rendition of Cruel White Water performed by Donnie Eidt (with lyrics in text). This old bit of banging on the floor boards and words were well in my head as I awoke at dawn the morning of June 1st. No online version of a Hunter performance, in his perfectly foggy country tenor is available, as far as I’m willing to spend the time to tell. But, a lyric shorn of music is a lamentable thing, so I pass on Eidt’s fine effort. Anyhow, see the following lines from the song for the essential message that was called to mind from the tune. Each word in this song is precious when wedded to the rhythm and melody, so I included Donnie’s link for both musical and literary delectation.
Home inside the hour, tuning my guitar
I get that sudden urge I know so well
I finished my rendition of don't pity my condition
Then looked around to find what I could sell

Okay, I’m done with my words, and I trust you may enjoy those of Hunter’s. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming of Deep Space Adventure and Music for the Soul.
Hic Finis Est