It felt like centuries had passed by my cave before I emerged pale and pink-eyed from whiskey and song; but the outside world and everyone in it was just as disappointing as they ever were. Fuck this city. I traveled the endless cracked sidewalks of a shitty neighborhood, covered in smashed tequila bottles and pornographic chalk drawings. A salty shuffle down a glittering path of remorse and the whole time I’m crying under my black aviator glasses. Walking around and crying. It had been a weird day—after an even weirder night. Several cans of RC were consumed to remedy the best/worst emotional hangover I’ve encountered within a burning inch of memory. Most of that morning was spent scrubbing off all the sharpie X’s on my arms. I had held my brother down and scribbled them across his cyclist calves too. Intoxicated punk rock Voodoo rituals, I’m sure, just like throwing flaming matchsticks at one another. At this rate, we’ll surely kill ourselves before Halloween. Well who the hell knows, man?! The world may never know and God Damn I’ve been drunk a lot. I was just so happy to have a few days off in front of me that I never bothered to look at a clock or put the bottle down. Every last one of us pulled up our britches by studded belts missing teeth and moved onto other dive bars. New mud holes, new shit spoons, and alters of watered-down liquor bottles to pray at. Burning through every poor-to-hip neighborhood from the South side on up, trying to find a place of our own. We sank every dive between here and there that had its moment of catching on just to fill the empty space in our heads and make us feel like we were part of something again. The ghosts on those walls had a language that caught the beauty and viciousness of ordinary talk. The plain-speak of thieves, vets, addicts, and terminal disciples that shave in the gutter. Talk that has a fine, incisive, and dramatic tone to it. And we clung to those words like high school hangers-on that never made it out of their hometown. Never noticed all the beautiful evenings we wasted in stuffy bars. Never considered that you’d end up on the floor after rocking on loose bar stools with loose women and air guitaring to Bad Company on cue sticks. I might as well have been God Damned Ed McMahon, handing over my whole paycheck to a different bar each week. And in the morning, only the matchbooks and re-entry stamps will remember where I’ve gone. There is a point for every old tavern when all the geriatrics start dropping off like flies. Lie down and die from snuff and rotten livers or they quit drinking on doctor’s orders and hen pecks. And then our generational blahs invade. Those soldiers of cool and idolized white trash that have fucked up one too many times in the night club district and consistently whined about bumming smokes. Fixies for Trixies, Wugazi, and “Jaymo-soco, bro.” High fives for low lives, blood guts and fire trucks. Feeling fired and inspired. A/A propaganda, Buddhism for dummies, and Dharma Bum squat cults pushing up Daisy Cutters. Most are waiting for the moment when you stop talking to go on about their own lives and it’s always a piss and moan twist and shout. Too many overusing the word “like” and deploying fat jokes at their own expense. Even a polite laugh was a trap. And here I was in my third decade feeling like a thing from another planet. Only capable of relating to half humanoids that made careers of singing about isolation like Mark Mothersbaugh or David Byrne. So you move on. You move on because they’ve filled every booth and bike rack. Even the can overflows with their top 40 hits. How cruel fate’s hand is when she puts a dollar in the jukebox. Trapped in our own personal Hell of a spinning room, the night will roll upon that “break down” hour. I told the truth and dispensed otherworldly advice, slurred and running to new depths in circles and circles. Chasing its own tail and carving a gigantic ‘O’ into our brains. Secrets and sins confessed. Discord, Manipulation, and Girlfriend Island. These are truths channeled from another realm entirely. Some Shamen can unlock things with tortuous physical acts like sweat lodges or sun dances. Us scumbags consume our weight in cheap beer. So there are no longer arguments about the secret of life. Pretty sure we got it figured out…as long as we are able to find a pen to write it down before it’s forgotten. Maybe it’s no secret at all. Winter never fails to turn to spring. The sun never fails to rise and shine an unflattering light onto our faces. Hangovers get harder and every morning we notice pasty beer bellies dotted in bad stick n pokes, hanging over screaming hems. Cigarette lines scratched into lips and eyes and coal and makeup smeared across sunken cheeks. Another 7am Sunday morning glimpse into the future where we still lack any sort of direction. Errant ambition. We could easily just drink away the rest of our youth… Never giving up the dope, the wine, the stage, or measuring out insomnia through Nick at Nite TV shows, even after the landlord fixes the gas leak. Under fed and overgrown from bad habits and characters into cardboard caricatures to hang on oily walls. Another brood of seasoned barflies that will live and die by law of the taverns.
-Originally Published in Wonderlust Literary Zine 2015