“I don’t know, you just look … different?”
My sister was unusually critical of my appearance during this holiday break. She hadn’t seen me in four and a half months.
“I mean, don’t take it the wrong way. It works.”
“What works?” You’re so fucking enigmatic lately. You know, I’m a big boy now. It won’t hurt my feelings.
“You know, you just have, like, a different approach to everything now. It’s nice.”
I look at her eyes. Pretty deep.
Now I’m less than three years old. Not sure. I think it was around that time.
I’m in my play pen. Baby blue. Four by four. Nothing too gaudy. Just gray mesh walls and a few stuffed animals. Piglet. Pooh. And Eeyore. He was the best.
This is it, I remember. The moment of truth. I can do it, fuck, everyone has to do it some time or other.
Words of encouragement from the crowd now, blithesome:
“Whose a big boy, Davey?!”
“My big man!”
“Ah, ahhhh. Awww.”
This doesn’t help. They can’t hear me. If only they could hear me. I’d tell them I need more practice. The cooing is making me more nervous now. Trepidation. I’m not sure of myself. I’m never sure of myself. I didn’t think my calf and groin muscles were fully developed for this sort of feat. This leap of faith. Jesus, just do it already.
Everyone’s watching. Mom. Dad. Heather. She sits in the corner of the house by Dad’s record player. She’s not happy. Two years older and she can’t believe all of the attention I’m getting.
I clasp the mesh wall. Small hands. More fat. Less bone. It’s slippery. My hands are butter. How am I supposed to do this. Fuck.Stop looking. And quiet down. Consider this a diving meet. Or a Spielberg set.
No tape recordings at least. Dad never had time. Always at the office. Fighting crime. Maybe he was Batman, I thought. The human with no powers, and a boatload of money to spend. He had an alias: Christopher Knight. The former being his middle name. The latter, well, maybe he wielded a sword then. Should I call him Sir? So then my mom took only a few Polaroids and the like. Our scrapbooks are slim. My memories are odd and equivocal.
Fuck! This is tough. I look around at these giants with their gaunt limbs and their hundred-yard strides. It can’t be too hard. Just baby steps. Right.
I hope I also develop a less hackneyed sense of humor.
It’s Thanksgiving Day. We’re watching the Macy’s Day parade on the tube. My cousins’ Harry and Stacey’s home, a block away from Aunt Diane and Uncle Scotty’s. They’re getting older now. Aunt Diane had a stroke a few years back. Slower now. Very slow. She’s frustrated. So my cousins thought they should live close.
Heather’s down by the duck pond with Paul. Boyfriend of one year and three months. I’m on the porch. I read Michael Chabon’s latest work. He’s a Pulitzer Prize winner. Should be good, right?
I have a few inside jokes with her boyfriend already. I call him Sir Paul. Get it? Well he got it, anyway, and I didn’t think he thought it was too creative.
They walk back down the street to the house. I watch them. Their long strides up the driveway. The air is coarse and cold. Paul, his hands in his jean pockets. Heather, one arm snugged close under his left arm. It reminds me of Dylan’s Freewheelin’ album cover.
This is a picture. I make two guns out my thumbs and index fingers. Fingertips connect. A frame. Centered. Snap. They are now cut out of time. I scribble a pantomimed pen in the air, a magic wand, moreover. I sign and date it: Righteousness Innocence, Carry Me. November 25, 2009.
But don’t think twice…you know the rest.
Heather’s still in the corner, playing with the plastic covering of Dad’s Nitty Gritty Dirt Band LP. Good choice. She gives me the stink eye. Listen, I didn’t ask to come here. Somehow my soul just wandered up Mom’s, you know, and took hold of this physical self, that can’t even get a stupid leg up — fuck! I grasp the top of the pen, you’re so weak right now. This is terrible. How embarrassing.
Body is aflutter. I squeeze the bar again. Fuck! This hurts. I can’t bear. I start crying. This isn’t that hard, I know it, so stubborn, just wait another day — baby, fucking, steps — you fool, they won’t care, but I will, I know it, who am I proving, just myself.
I am livid now. My skin turns green. No, I’m Hercules now. So mortal, so flawed. No. I’m a fucking God. They’ll see.
And then I planted one. It was perfect. Was it the anger? Pervading indignation that made me attain greatness? The perfect stance? Wondrous evolution of species?
I stand there gaping, a fool. I am an ape. Corner of my mouth is dry, uncontrollable; I drool a bit. It hits the floor, echoes. I’m the top of the tallest building on the planet. If you drop a penny from this height, it could kill someone! SMACK, right on their bald, baby heads. I didn’t want that. I’m just enjoying the view.
Mount Olympus. What height! What wonder!
Heather takes small strides over to the pen. Her hair is curly. And thin. We thought she was bald at one point, my father felt terrible. His genes, his problem.
There’s a faint, weary smile. It’s a guise. Nothing I can do. I saw this coming.
You’re not that interesting.
She feigns holding my hands. I know this trick. There’s fire there, way back there, but there nonetheless. Her eyes are molten now.
She unclasps my fingers. Too stubby, I lose control. Swaying a bit, I’m on a balance beam. Man on wire. Such height. God-damn fingers aren’t developed. She knows this. I rolled back on my ankles. Teetering. Tottering. Now my toes. Some of them crunch. They couldn’t hold the pressure. Hey, hey cut it out. I know I’m new here. Hey, hey! Cut it out! Her grip is tighter, her fingers like icicles.
The crowd goes wild:
Aww, ahhh, awwwww!
They are perfect.
Where’s the camera. Oh, no film.
Ooooh. Little Davey has a friend.
I expected to fall. Down and down. I shriek, but not a loud , more like an abrupt yelp, the kind a wolf might make. Down and down. The wind is stale. Is there service on this flight? Oh well, should have eaten before I got on the plane. This is it, where’s my rip cord? I can’t breath. Back toward the ground, arms outstretched. Total embrace. I am humbled. I look up at God. The light is fluorescent and ugly.
He’s not there. Too busy, I reckon.
The glass on the edges of the building, make me look fat. I curse the reflection. Passing the copy room now, interns; they’re such suckers. Someone makes another pot of coffee, hazelnut I think. Ten floors a second. This isn’t good.
I look back up. Cosmos, infinity. I don’t understand. It’s nighttime now. I’ve been on this downward flight too, too long. Well, there’s the moon, way up there out of reach, but so close, it’s uncanny. I want to throw a lasso up there, right on the cusp. It’s A Wonderful Life, where’s James Stewart when I need him the most. He’s been gone for a while now. I’ll never understand.
The Moon begins to split. An diploid cell. Evolution. It was bound to happen sooner or later. It’s amorphous, it retracts, splits the sky, wait, I’m not sure, I may have blinked. I close my eyes. This is bad. Really bad.
Open wide, baby boy.
An empty sky, no stars. There are two moons, splotched and tortured, floating ominously, red, tiny bits of black canyon. A Rorschach. I can’t be too sure. The gorges begin to shift like ants, out from the mound, looking for leaves, now coming back in for the night, bringing the day’s work to the home front–they swivel and swirl.
Jim Morrison’s The End reels through speakers throughout the city. He screams.
Mother…I want to…WAAAAAA
C’mon baby,——— No “take a chance with us
A singular dot, one on each red face. These are eyes now. Hollow pupils, perfect. They stare at my weightless corpse. A Vitruvian Man.
You fucking fuck! This is my family. Not yours! Take your fucking soul back downstream, and out from Mom’s, you know, and don’t ever come back. But don’t forget Eeyore on the way out, I know you like that one. But listen, fuck you! — Piglet and Pooh are mine. They were hand-me-downs. Asshole.
I get back up. Two feet. Fuck you too. I am on high. I can see the whole city from up here.
It’s cold. It’s been cold for a while now. I step outside my porch. Stage left. An unoccupied white rocking chair, white ashes on the ground, two cartons of cigarettes. Foreign inscriptions. Stage right. An empty bird feeder, red, clear. The mockingbird kind.
Walking down the steps, I notice a piece of firewood on the ground. I left it there last night. How careless. It’s raining outside, the wood won’t be good for another few weeks. We may freeze, the house gets ten degrees cooler for some reason. Science, I think, I’ll just leave it to science.
I’m feeling groggy today. Guilty too. I missed my early class. It’s the only class I care about, the one that you feel bad even if you’re three seconds late walking in. I open my umbrella, it’s way too big for me, a half dome, it disturbs the nature of things. Fingertips sting. The nerve ends on fire.
Ephemeral seasons. And so goes our temperaments. This thought goes along perfect with my maudlin disposition of late. I can’t help it, it’s the time of the year. The order of things, I think, yeah, just the order of things. Natural Selection. The emergence of new species. I hear that we won’t have pinky toes in one hundred years. This is awfully staggering to me.