Friday, March 07, 2008

Got My Computer Back And Have Picked Up Walter's Saga... Remember Walter?


I've been using a secondary computer for awhile, now. I had to get mine wiped like an etch-a-sketch and reloaded. Trouble was, I sat on my Works 8.5 disc and cracked it, making it impossible to reload and therefore open all of my word doc files. I managed to score another copy from a friend. Weeee...

Walter was laying in a hospital bed in my word doc files, waiting for me so I picked him back up and set him going...

--The Lights Go On, The Lights Go Off--

-1-


Waking from the coma was much easier than all of just about everything else. The lights were off and then, without my doing anything, the lights were on again.

I was a suddenly-woken focus of hospital wonder who got baby-spooned small bits of information and food that I nibbled and swallowed. Nurses came and cleaned between my ass cheeks and welcomed me back. Some reporter came and took my picture. She called me a hero. They all did.

“You’re a hero.“ they all said while I nibbled and swallowed.

I really had to blink my eyes at what I had woken to become. I got stomped and trampled by a dozen pair of biker boots is what they tell me and I’m a hero? Imagine that? Three and a half months in a coma and in that silent space you’d think I’d have bumped into some oblique understanding of life’s profundities? Yet here I am, dumbfounded by a compliment on my second waking day. It’s all a mish mash. Who knew it would all become a mish mash?

Who knew I could get so angry, and “do” those things I think I remember?

I certainly didn’t. Like those retroviruses that erupt under stressful conditions, apparently, I always had it in me. It was hiding within my fawning flesh and waiting for a ripening day where all my circumstances inflamed and rose into a reason to erupt.

Boy oh boy. I can’t believe I did all the things I think I remember. I took on a gang of men, all by myself. I stormed into a gang of men, and demanded their respect. I did not turn my cheek. I did not roll over. I did not let them push me around. I stood up to a huge and hairy, nasty group of enormous men- I spoke up and I defended myself and those around me who were suffering too. Yeah. I did that and I’m a hero.

I did other things too. Lots of other things. Lots and lots and lots of other things. Wow. Yeah. Every time I think about it, I did some more.

The end of me is down there wriggling beneath a hospital sheet. I suppose it’s my beginning too? That’s where I start and stop. My beginning and my end. It’s where I come into being or disappear. Those are my feet. After that, there isn’t much left of me in that general direction. I suppose I could tell you that my footprints are some of me? If that’s the case, then my feet are near the end of me, but I go on and on. My head must be where I begin then, if that‘s the case? My head that holds my brain and all my thoughts. Sure. That could be where I begin? I think therefore I must be me. I have a thought, and it begins me, and my feet leave footprints in the world and I leave me everywhere I go. My lights are off. My lights come on. I can wriggle my toes.

You can’t blame me for my way of thinking. I’ve got nowhere else to go. If I remember, I remember many things that seem like someone else. I remember days and nights filled with angst and revenge and longing and sleeping by myself. I remember the roar of the crowds when the lions were let loose. I remember I stood there naked and trembling with my pointy stick pointing accusatory at the man who did me harm. I remember crying “Momma” when I should have stood my ground.

It troubles me. All of it. I mean, I can’t be sure too much of anything.

I was trampled after all. And they say I’m a hero

-2-

Put yourself in my position. Working everyday to come home every night. Signing checks and mailing them off to pay for all of my unasked-for circumstances. It’s all a callous convolution. All of it. It tumbles headlong like a giant crystal bouncing ball and there I found myself, clinging to it’s inner walls and there was where my prison spun and there I was with all my thoughts going around and round like the stripes on a fast food straw. All the purpose in the world hid from me like a cricket in my bedroom. I worked. I worked. I worked. I came home and signed some checks to others working. I worked some more.

Free will never really fit me well. Free will on my back was my father’s overcoat when I was four. It was so big on me it made it hard to move around. I flapped my arms a bunch. But I went nowhere. When I had choices I didn’t see those choices. The lights were off. The lights were on. I followed along. Nobody asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was just a child. Or they stopped asking me. I can’t remember. I got out of high school and I got a job. I stayed there until there was no job and I got another job. That’s how it went for me. I always got just a job. I got a job and I went to work and I got older. I got married and I got divorced and I got older. I lived.

My last job was driving a street sweeper. It was a good job, as far as jobs go. I got up before light. I climbed into my big machine. I followed the curbs around and round in a different pattern, Monday through Friday. I had five different days doing the same thing differently- over and over. It suited me. It filled my bank account and I wrote those checks. I did a good job. My streets were as clean as anybody’s.

I had lots of checks to sign so I took Saturday jobs in a different rig, driving around the Coliseum parking lot where the lions were. I never stopped to see the lions but I could hear them roar. They were let out onto the field and they devoured people. Fans went crazy. The lions went crazy. I could hear them over the roar of my sweeper motor and the two brushes that swirled around and round.

The worst of the noises though, came through my front window every evening for most of the year. I owned a little house that faced an onramp that led to the freeway that cut through town. Harley Davidson motorcycles with their owners oozing over leather seats like melting figurines all goosed their throttles and shat their awful noises that echoed off the wall that lined the ramp and pounded against my window like a thousand children wanting in. I put a curtain up and another curtain up and a thick blanket I nailed directly to the wall, making my only living room a tomb and the sound just kept pounding in. These were muffler-less men with dirty beards and careless lives, roaring past my house with their stupid arms held up to those stupid chopper-bars. The onramp was steep and short so they got on it like drag racers. Fire shot out shortened tail pipes and the backfires muscled in louder than the roar.

Of all the choices I never really made, buying that house where I bought that house was one of the worst of all.

-3-

Nurses in the hallways like to giggle. I can hear them murmuring so as not to disrupt their patients’ lives. But the giggling. That’s spontaneous. They can’t help that any more than I can help myself by being here. It comes out of them before they know it and it tumbles into here like a falling stack of rocks. I like to listen to the nurses giggling. It makes me feel better than I really feel. I don’t know for certain, but I think it’s what turned the lights back on. The giggling of nurses.

They giggled. They flipped a switch. I sat up and asked the world to please be quiet. There was always lots of noise, but I had been sleeping. For three and a half months, they tell me, things had been very very quiet.

My father raised me and my mother raised me. I had a sister and she died. I had simple friends but never any complex friends. My friends just came over and we went into my room. Or we went outside. We just did stuff that never really had much meaning. We played together. And they went home.

My wife was somewhat like my friends. One day she just went home. We did what we were supposed to do- like we sat together and we had sex together and we listened to each other for awhile.

“I’m tired of this, Walter. I’m going home.”

That’s what I remember. And then she went home.

They tell me I turned forty in my sleep. One of the nurses brought her son in and they sang me happy birthday. It was for kicks, she said. Just something to do. Her son was afraid of sick people, and this, she thought, would help him deal with that. I don’t weigh much anymore and I guess I slept quite peacefully. Kids used to look up to me because I was tall, but now I’m just as tall as the top of my feet. I can stack one foot atop the other and wriggle my toes. That’s about how tall I have become. I guess if you are going to un-scare a kid who’s scared, I would be a good guy to help with that. I mean, I’m not even scary when I’m standing. I never really was.

I walked into a bar one night and broke a bottle on the table and got surrounded by a riotous crowd. I was all lean muscle and cat-like against a man who had bullied many. He had a chest and belly like a stack of tires, but his arms were full of meat and he was an angry man. He shattered a bottle on himself and came after me while the crowd gathered around us.

“Walter! Walter! Walter!” they were all screaming my name. There was lots of lunging and gashing and blood all over. I cut him in his arms. I cut him across his belly. I cut him down a cheek and he stopped smiling at me. I didn’t want to cut him dead so I kicked him in the testicles. He went down. I karate-chopped the back of his neck and he fell from his knees to lay flat on his belly. For those who had suffered long under his cruelty, there came a roar of applause. Even in the end of fighting, it can be pretty noisy. We all drank beer and celebrated.

They dragged the big man out back like a dead bull and dumped him in the dumpster.

2 comments:

Shrinky said...

Scott,

This is your soon to be published and much bought book. I love your style of writing, how you easily make us care about and love this character. Don't stop, you're on a roll. (Smile)

Billy said...

"... bumped into some oblique understanding of life's profundities."

Really like that. I don't recall Walter--I'm coming "in medias res" as they say--but it held me all the way through.