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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Without a Trace

2013

Our ordeal ended like a violent storm finally releasing its grip on a ravaged landscape. I lay on the bed, breathless, defeated. I don’t wish to recall every detail, their gnarly edges peeling layers of 
protection from my thick skull as I try to trap safe fragments into words and somehow exorcize the demonic front. I want to believe that it‘s not real, this darkest dream. But I can’t wake up. I’m  frozen in a helpless hypnosis.  

I slunk into to the bedroom like a scolded pup. I knew what was there; I knew she wasn't. For all of the times  I told myself she can leave if she must, I knew now that she must return to me. She must! I'd called to tell her I'd be home in two days, and Ma Bell told me she'd moved out of town as the new number was recited in its dispassionate mechanical female voice. Ma Bell knows a lot of secrets Mother, but judges no-one. She comforts no-one either; she broke my heart.

Hope dried up like an impatien under a sudden scorching sun. 

I know that you're saying it:

“You’re just like your father.”

Throw your daggers, Mother; I have bullets. I can alliterate you into oblivion! I can pour prose so thick over your being that the you will suffocate! I swear it! I'll do it, should you spit one bruising syllable! One single "I told you so." and these pages will become no more than a dark epitaph, freezing us both in time, for all time. And it will hardly be fiction!

The bottle still laid where it landed behind the bed, the bottle that unleashed my long brewing madness and drove them away at last. Ghosts lined up at the edge of our marital mattress: 

"We've been ex-s-s-s--s-pecting you! C'mon in; the water's fine!"

I briefly considered returning to the treatment center, Mother. After all, what was left now? But then again, what is a rehab really, after the pinnacle moment of introspection, the moment of truth, but a mere hideaway? Is it not merely, at that point, an escape from an escape, a new set of walls to replace old walls, a new crutch for the fractured mind to replace the old one?

I still must walk among the living, at least for a moment or two.
She left with the children while I was away at Coconut College, to prevent  me learning of her escape. I don't blame her, I suppose, though her cowardice burns a hole right through me.
     
The ghosts spoke freely in the devil's tongue: 

"Hey, she's no angel either, Chump! You got dumped on your head! Go get your pound of flesh from her! What kind of wife does that s-s-s-s-sort of thing my friend?"

And another, more boldly still:

"You're better off dead, Soldier!"

They remained at my side as days melted into seamless weeks. Memories...days that had so often escaped my senses...birthdays, Christmases, camping, cuddling, new birth and new hope, the entire equation of  life, circled me like buzzards, pecking away pieces of my scrambled brain. 

Finish it you fuckers! Just finish it! Quit taking little bites; dive in and feast and get it over with!

I fell in and out of a barren dreamless half sleep. My skeleton pushed through paper skin. My eyes retreated into my head, not wanting to see anymore.

The ghosts urged me to the upper closet of the creaky house, to the orange electrical cord that sat coiled like Eden's serpent, ready to suspend me from the window and bring me to another place. I resisted for the children, my wife, my soul. I had to win it all back, any way at all, despite the prophecies of the spirits...despite what you yourself may say, dear mother.

The empty house gradually grows as cluttered and chaotic as my booze deprived brain. Send me a maid, Mother. Actually, don't. I don't want to be bothered with appearances anymore. The surface of things only serves to mock a dying man. I don't care to maintain my own tomb. 

Perhaps in time I'll simply become one more of the dusty relics amidst the rubble. Let me harden like the iron handle of my candle holder. Let me melt away like the wax that runs from its base. Let me disintegrate into a million fragments of dead dust, settling on the furniture and the floor, unrecognizable, insignificant, forgotten. Should she never return, that will suit me just fine.

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