Sad Clowns and Disco Boys.

Posted on May 30, 2010

“Maybe they’ll call me tragic” he says hopefully. Wistfully.

He grins awkward and crooked for a moment and then his eyes glaze and he stares dreamily through me; his face fixed, bearing a mutant’s smirk.

“They won’t think of you at all,” I say before I can stop myself.

Immediately, I wish I could take my words back. I hate to be the bearer of such news and I know he won’t believe me yet anyway. He’ll need to do his time and come to this on his own.

The sage-like tones that accompany my assertions are hard-won and harder accepted. He’s still living the dream.

As for me, I think of death often. Mine. His. Other people’s.

I consider when and how and the affect of the thing on those we leave behind.

I contemplate the preventable and the unavoidable, the calamities and tragedies.

I examine the sociological synthesis between leading causes of death in a given year and the state of the economy and other socially driven forms of ease or dis-ease. I seek patterns and connections and tangible reason. I seek comprehension of that which is largely incomprehensible. I do this in spite of my best efforts not to…

It seems that the leading cause of thinking about death is trying not to think about death.

However, it is because of these unrelenting reflections that I truly grasp the verity of our utter inconsequence. And this can be oddly freeing…

I know that the best most of us can hope for is some shadow of influence. Perhaps some whittled down version of our tales will traverse time and space and meet the future thanks to a stranger’s rendering of them…maybe through music or paint.

Maybe someone will detail the events of this night in Japanese one day. Maybe they’ll depict our pain in a poem. A haiku, possibly. I imagine the carefully crafted, indiscernible characters floating across a page of recycled bamboo paper. I imagine this moment in a universal sense. I pray that someone will be more proactive about its documentation than I’ve been.

My reverie is interrupted as he abruptly stands and moves toward the window.

Instinctively I follow him; fearful that he has chosen now to try and prove me wrong about the masses and their posthumous recollections of his tragic nature.
Instead though, he pulls a cigarette from a pack that lives on the windowsill. It seems he is still opting for the deliberate, creeping route toward an inevitable end, which pacifies my immediate concern and I fall back to my perch on the arm of the couch.

He doesn’t notice my movements. He seems not to notice my presence at all, really.

The custom-made gauzy white curtains billow mightily toward the ceiling; a reaction to a strong and unexpected gust of wind. An ember from his cigarette gets caught in the melee and burns a hole through the delicate fabric before falling to the floor and smoldering until nothing remains.

I used to care so much for things like gauzy curtains and rogue ashes.

But now they barely register.

I am preoccupied by his shadowy image and the dreamy phantasmagoria playing out before me.

He sits on the ledge of a window with no screen; unwittingly becoming the living, breathing metaphor of his own mental state. He is transparent yet furiously sobbing and wracked with free-form shame. He exhales a gasp of carcinogen filled smoke and his gaunt face becomes marred and I imagine him old and sickly. He is barely recognizable, a man on the edge in every way…I fight the niggling thought that it was my actions that got him here.

I opt instead to focus on his zippy, hooded sweatshirt.

“Love Kills Slowly,” it reads in dramatic cursive stitching.

He’s been wearing this jacket everyday for more than a week, but on some level he’s known this truth since the day we met.
Acknowledgement is a necessary evil, I think.

He turns to me then, as though I’d just arrived, as if I were new to the scene; a neighbor popping in for a quick coffee or asking to borrow an egg or some other triviality…

“So how’ve you been?” he asks easily. “What have you been doing?”

I am surprised when I answer in tones as casual as his.

“Not much. Work. Life. Just feeling kind of…solitary” I say.

I am careful with my word choice. Solitary is fair, in spite of my near-constant state of accompaniment. ‘Alone,’ would’ve been a more exact truth, but assuredly he’d find cause to argue the adverb.

Best to stick with simple adjectives at this time of night.

A long beat envelops the space.
He stubs his cigarette out.
He lights another and inhales deeply before speaking.

“The key to happiness…to all good things, really,” he says, “is stupidity.”

I silently disagree. Stupidity and ignorance are wholly different, I mentally argue.
But I let it go. Close enough, I reason.
He’s drunk. I’m exhausted.

His eyes change suddenly; now emitting an intense flaming lucidity that is by turns radiant and evil. I try to look away but the searing beams of light latch into my corneas before I can even mount a defense.

A vein in my arm vehemently pulsates and then it bursts without warning. The blood gushes just beneath the outermost layer of my epidermis causing my skin to swell and then violently tear amidst the chaotic pressure.

I look to him in fear and devastation, but he notices only vaguely. He lights another cigarette, apparently unaware of the one still pressed between his lips.

Streams of my indigo blood run the length of the slanted floorboards and coagulate in viscous tide pools in the corners of the room where the walls and the parquet meet.

“It isn’t even real wood,” I mutter, dizzy and fading.

Silence now.

He stands and turns from me. He wades through the noxious mess and down the hall toward the bedroom. He closes the door gently and locks it behind him.
I know in that moment that love and hate are exactly the same.

The wind swells. The curtains flutter and twirl, insolently taunting me.

The couple next door is throwing things again.

Jabs, insults, coffee mugs and such…

It’s Tuesday.

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