The truth was obscure, too profound and too pure, to live it you have to explode
In the last hour of need, we entirely agreed, sacrifice was the code of the road
I left town at dawn, with Marcel and St. John, strong men belittled by doubt
I couldn't tell her what my private thoughts were but she had some way of finding
He took dead-center aim but he missed just the same, she was waiting putting
flowers on the shelf
She could feel my despair as I climbed up her hair and discovered her invisible self.
Dylan, 'Journey Through Dark Heat'
I have been assiduously avoiding telling my old roommate back in Connecticut, Sarge, that I am never coming back to live with him. For two reasons . One, I have this (probably ill founded) suspicion that it will shatter his possibly delicate psyche . I say ''possibly'' only because he once tried to kill himself by eating a bottle full of pain killers. He recovered from that and moved into a two bedroom apartment with me and we lived separate lives of quiet desperation together for a year until our apartment house burned down and I went to live in a rooming house and he ended up in a rest home , temporarily, until the apartments were rebuilt.I prided myself for keeping him from trying to off himself again, and also for being his friend. Then I abandoned him for true love to come to Ohio and live with a woman i'd never "met" ,except cybernetically...the genius writer Margaret Feike , formerly of O.S. and currently of Our S.
Two, I don't want to deal with the hassle of getting my possessions from the garage behind the apartment building: a bed, my mom's antique desk, some clothes, and about 500 books I could live without I suppose and don't want to ask my sister in CT to store in her garage, because her opinion of my books is that they are not necessary to my survival. Which is true I suppose, but still...I could someday actually live my dream and become a bona fide scholar. I sure have some damn good books I always meant to get around to reading.
He texted me yesterday, "Call me. Peter (our landlord) needs to know if you are coming back"
The apartments were finally rebuilt, a year after the fire.
I called him today.
"Hey, man, " I said,lighting a new cigarette from the one i'd needed to get up the courage to call him.
"Well, hello there," he drawled. He claims he was born in the south of Georgia, but there is (hearsay) evidence he was actually born in Hartford. From the same source there is insistence he never was in Vietnam as he claims, hence not a ''Sarge''.
Therefore, basically, a congenital liar.
He may be, but wtf do I care, I long ago decided. He is a vivid cartoon character of a man in his interpersonal dealings. He may be a confabulator, but then again so is my musical hero Bob Dylan, as is well known, if only from reading his ''autobiography'' (sic) Chronicles Volume One.
What's important is that he is the ''realest'' dealer of cynical painfully true bon mots on living in these latter days of the Age of Anxiety I have ever met, aside from my brother Paul and my father George.
The Post Modern Era, which I am trying to escape from by reading long dead philosophers and poets other miscellaneous ''wisdom writers''. The authors of those 500 books I mentioned earlier.
"So I guess Peter wants to uh . Know. Yknow, if I am gonna come back."
"Yep, that's right," he said. "So?"
"Well, uh," I said, held my breath, paused strategically with a parody of a smoker's cough, "ah, no. "
"Oh" he said with no emotion.
"Yeah well, yknow," I confabulated, " the plan with Margaret was to come out and visit and see how things went, and, well, they went really really well, man, and...so, I guess I gotta stay, right?"
"Seems you better," he said.
"Yeahhhh. " I added another , bigger, lie to the previous one: "I never expected it to happen, but , yknow, it did. So good for me, right?" I laughed
He laughed, "Wellllll. Duh. Yeahhhhhh. Ifn you need me to tell you that, youre in trouble, boy!"
"Exactly!" I said, almost tearful in my gratitude he'd made it so easy.
"So how's it going?" he asked, seemingly with real interest.
"Marvelous! I love the house! A big step up from our dump! I live in suburban splendor again, like I was you could say born to!"
"Well aint some people lucky," he riposted like he never failed to day back east.
"Yes they are! Good cleanliving saintlike men of intelligence and great promise, ;like me!"
"I wouldn't go that far..."
"so how are things there, man? Same old?"
"I have less desire to murder everyone here, I can report. "
"And," I quickly adlibbed, "You don't think my not coming back will hinder your progress in becoming a better, more well adjusted person?"
"Again, I wouldn't go that far, " he sighed.
"Mmmmm. Yeah well I love you too. That was always implicit in our relationship, " I said airily.
"Well la de da. Yeah. So how are you," he said, and he said it so tenderly that for a second I couldn't bear it. As I have explained to Margaret with a few glasses of red wind (her preference, not mine...I dig white) in me: ''real'' men are embarrassed when they have to spontaneously show real emotion, but they do it anyway, courageously.
"I think that on the days she understands she will never change some things about me but other things she can, we are soulmates."
"And the other days?" he asked slyly, knowingly.
"The worst thing is we miscommunicate a bit , and get frustrated, and rarely...angry..but we always wake up curious about the other."
"You as silver tongued as ever, " he barked in derision.
"You bring it out in me"
"Ah you are sweet today, aren't you? "
"I had to soften the blow of me not returning, " I protested.
He said something I will never forget to love him for, in that (faux?) Southern voice he slips in and out of at will.
"Ifn you had come back, i'da feared for you, I really woulda. Aint nothing to come back to, it 's all where you are. I'm happy for you, I really am, Jimmy."
More was said, a lot more, in our unique argot. The same way I spoke to my brother Paul: survivor of their incessant campaign to dull the common sense of the average genius male.
Here, I got Margaret's 17 yr old, Woody, an average genius who could use some shaping from a concernful friend.
I think Sarge would dig this kid. Dark, profane, alternately childishly delighted by life and appalled to deepest murkiest depression by it.
Maybe I will introduce them someday if and when I ever get ''back" home.