Soundtrack “Wish You Were Here” Pink Floyd.
“Hey man, are you okay?” His voice draws me back to the surface where imagination and reality collide. “No man, I’m not okay, not at all.” He’s dressed in a blue sales associates vest with a name tag bearing the name Cameron. I think to myself, what a distinguished name for a punk kid with unkempt hair, nose piercing and tattoo sleeved arms. It’s Saturday evening and the huge box store is still a thrashed mess from the ravages of yesterdays “Black Friday Sale”. The wall of big screen televisions with their pristine HD pictures compete for my attention. I feel myself slipping back into their hypnotic grasp. “Hey man, do you need something?” I turn to him and speak “To love life, to love others, is how we show our love to god.” Cameron stares at me as if I’m speaking a foreign language: and I suppose I am. He laughs “Brah, your watch must be set to 420. Are ya sure everything’s cool by ya? Ya need me to call someone?” “No, I’m just changing buses at your station.
“Sometimes at moments like this, I think in poetry and talk in prose. Everything hits me all at once, and things become clearer and more confusing all at the same time.” He takes a couple of steps backwards, “Tell ya what mister, let me go change the channel on those TVs. They’ve got ya all messed up.” He disappears into the maze of florissant lite isles while speaking into his radio piece. I can hear him whispering the word “security”. I turn back towards the halo like glare of the T.V.s and lose myself in haiku thoughts.
Standing there at Walmart, in the electronic’s section, I feel myself being absorbed into the wall of flat screen TV’s. The sheer spectacle of all the pictures repetitively tuned to the nightly news is mind sucking. The female newscaster’s voice has the rehearsed sex-appeal and charm of a beauty queen. There’s not a hair out of place, her blouse is low cut, you might even say a bit provocative. Her eyes conceal any sign of distress or outrage as she glibly reports the days menagerie of mayhem and tragety. There are film clips of dead bodies in the streets. Another mass shooting at a school, a church, a mall. There’s a drive by shooting that’s killed an innocent three year old caught in the crossfire, a suicide bomber has murders 26 people in a marketplace, a minor traffic altercation leads to a road rage incident, a cop shoots an unarmed kid, there’s another hate crime— someone shoots somebody because they’re a different color, religion or sexual orientation, terrorist chop the head off of someone who worships a different god, disease and famine take the lives of thousands in a third world country, the bell rings ushering in another profitable day on Wall Street, gun control is defeated in the house of representatives——My bus pulls in and I climb aboard.
There’s no map, no compass, no destination, just me thinking in circles—-a meditation of sorts. My mental landscape begins to change. I’m listening to voices as the birds eat my bread crumbs——there’s no backtracking, no going back. I hear the bus’s air breaks release and I’m on my way. God only knows where my thoughts are leading me—-
We tuck our guns away in our bedside drawers with a bottle of Viagra, cocked and loaded, god lays sleeping under the pillow, we shoot blank prayers into oblivion, bowing our heads to phones and tablets with the reverence once afforded holy books—-QVC is now the temple of worship, all our sins exposed on Facebook, true love is calculated with algorithms designed by a technician at E-harmony, although the earth is dying we remain distracted by soap operas, porn and gameshows, we drive SUV’s with bumper stickers damning climate change, politicians and lobbyist share sly winks, credit cards and umbrella drinks—–I find no rest, I can hardly breathe. Infomercials and pharmaceutical ads blanket the space between the nightly news stories. Disasters, wars and mass shootings are reported alongside weather forecasts. There’s an acceptance and tolerance to it all, as if we have no control over any of these events.
So much hate, so much unbridled violence. I wish guns shot Hershey kisses, and religions taught grace (loving others, even when they don’t deserve it) I wish they’d turn all the mega churches into waterslide parks, and that all soldiers were ordered to wear lederhosen (its hard to kill a man wearing shorts with suspenders) and political speeches were judged by how well they expressed humor and espoused love, and that the Pope would turn the Vatican into a homeless shelter, and he’d trade his big pope hat for a chef’s hat as he cooked free spaghetti suppers for the hungry, and Joel Osteen installed dancing poles for his audience, and at the end of each sermon he’d make it rain dollars from the ceiling (now that’s prosperity preaching), teachers would be paid like pro athletes and pro athletes were paid like teachers, and Muslims stopped falling to their knees five times a day to pray, but instead opened their arms to hug five strangers a day, and the leaders of countries resolved disputes by mud wrestling one another, and cannons shot confetti and AK 47’s sprayed gumdrops——and of course, our national bird would be a unicorn, our flag emblem a rainbow and “Imagine”would be our national anthem——
Is this the season of celestial checks and balances—of universal reciprocity? Has the Law of Attraction delivered what we’ve choose to manifested? Are we reaping what we’ve sowed. All the money wasted on wars could have sent tens of thousands of kids to college for free, could have created education and training programs for the poor and those incarcerated. We could have built hundreds of hospitals, built community centers, senior centers, child care centers. We could have fed the starving and provided free medical care to the sick. I feel the door to my bus opening at a strange destination.
A security guard approaches me with his “I’m a badass” swagger. I noticed that the leather holster holding his pepper spray is unsnapped and his hand is resting on his belt next to the canister.
“Boy, ya been drinkin, maybe takin some medications?” His fingers idly strumming on his service belt. As he moves from foot to foot there is the sound of leather stretching and squeaking. “No, I haven’t been drinking, but I could use a pull off something strong right about now.”
“I hear ya all been makin some crazy talk, bout god and love and what not. Sounds like ya feelin a tad bit out of sorts. Now, they’ve got folks down at the County booby hatch that’ll give ya a lil sompin to calm ya all down.” I couldn’t tell if this was his attempt at being empathetic or if he’s trying to intimidate me. “Ya got some I.D. boy? And what ya all got in that there nap sack?”
I turn to make my exit but realize there’s a second security guard who’s snuck up behind me and is now blocking my way out. “Son, let’s go on back to my office so we can figure out what’s going on here. We gonna see that ya get proper help and such.”
The security guard leans back in his office chair as he speaks into the phone. He talks about me as if I were a child or as if I wasn’t even there. He keeps using the term “5150”. “I think he might be a good candidate for a 5150. Oh yeah, he could be of danger to himself and others, definably 5150.”
A sheriff shows up and he drives me down to the County facility. I’m ushered into a room where I’m introduced to a guy who identify’s himself as a psychologist. He asks me questions and prods me about my thoughts and beliefs. He wants me to explained my earlier comments regarding loving life, loving others and how this is a way to show god ones love. I tell him that I ‘m a storyteller and that I’m a voice for sad people. He looks up from he notes he’s been taking and asks “Why do you want to be a voice for sad people?”, I said “Well sir, cause the happy people don’t need a voice.”
He says that it would be best for me to remain at the faculty for a couple of days so that we can get to know each other better. I reply “It takes a long time to get to know someone, and even longer to say that you understand them—–And, cause everybody is always changing, we must be vigilant in our quest to earn someones trust and understanding. Some people think that if they get naked with someone, that they know them. Or, that if they make love to someone, it means they understand them. Some folks believe that because they live with someone or get married, that this means they belong to one another. But that’s not the case. Love isn’t belonging, love is letting go.
If ya want to know someone, ask them what breaks their heart, what makes them laugh, what was their childhood like, who they admire, what songs, books and movies touched them. Watch how they treat animals, strangers and children. These little things matter. You can’t say ya read a book until you’ve been through every chapter, every page, paragraph, every sentence and word. Like I said, it takes time, patience and communication to understand someone.——— People don’t read books anymore, they speak in acronyms, send out tweets, write 26 character text’s, they post selfies and collect friends on Facebook.
Ya see, I want to feel another’s thoughts, I want to think another’s feelings—-I know that doesn’t make much sense to most, maybe it’s even a bit crazy. I don’t know, but I”m reaching out to you, to life, to god—–with all my might. I reach out to hug the therapist and he freezes up. His eyes reveal a sense of fear or panic as he gently pushes me away. “That’ll be enough for today.” He presses a button under hidden under his desk and a large orderly dressed in white appears. He looks more like a bodyguard rather than a nurse.
The orderly leads me to my room and gives some Ambien to swallow. He leaves, I spit it out. I lay awake for a long time. I wonder when my next bus will arrive……..