Soundtrack, “Fountain Of Sorrow” by Jackson Browne
I can still remember the day I met you some forty years ago…..although it doesn’t seem that long ago? I was walking in the quad area when I noticed this kid sitting on the lawn with his legs lazily stretched out. You were leaning back with your elbows keeping you propped up. You sat right there by the senior walk appearing not to give a shit about convention or conformity. I liked that right off the bat. Somehow I knew we were destine to be the best of friends.
You were wearing one of those T shirts with a single breast pocket. There was brown clay from ceramic’s class clinging to your well worn Levi’s. Later, your pants of choice would be a pair of tan Dickies. On your feet were a pair of white slip on tennis shoes. Your long brownish hair was pulled back into a scruffy ponytail and you sported a formative mustache—-not bad for a fifteen your old kid. You lounged calmly as the bells were ringing and kids hurriedly came and went——-you were you, just being you, no excuses or regrets. I was attracted to your nonchalant coolness. I told myself “I got to meet this dude”.
So, I walked up to you and mumbled “Hi”. You tilted your head back while squinting up into the autumn sun and replied “Hi”.
I don’t know how we went from a simple “Hi” to being best friends, but I believe somethings are meant to be—–and uncoincidentally I made your acquaintance just when I desperately needed a best friend. I remember going to your house in Terra Buena and you had a bunch of strange houseplants. You pointed out the different plants and told me their botanical names. I thought “Damn, this guy is pretty smart”. The only plant I could ID was weed. Your mom and dad were nice to me and always took the time to ask about my life and plans. I would mutterer something to them about wanting to start a rock band, or maybe the following week I was going to be a pro kickboxer. They made me feel comfortable, even though I was just a dumb teenage kid stumbling from one day to the next. In spite of my carrousel of aspirations they remained interested and encouraging.
I detected that at some level we were both undeterred outcasts chasing something neither one of us could articulate. It was hard to be that young, yet so lonely and scattered. We were both looking for our place in this big world. It was comforting to have someone like you to confide in and share my thoughts. I remember it all so well. I can’t go back in time and thank people who helped me in past, but I can send this simple letter of gratitude.
After all these years, I’m glad that we remain best of friends, although I’m still a bit scattered and lonely.
Soundtrack “Son Of A Highway Daughter” by Ruston Kelly.
I messed up again, got drunk and pissed everyone off, let myself down with a thousand discarded and broken pledges, I’m wanting morning light at this 3:03 am, its the darkest of corners to turn in the middle of the night, the sheets have become untucked and tangled, the room is stuffy and hot, I’m mad at the likes of me for being a poor version of what I might have been, I’m pleading with the dark shadows and demons to stop coming round and convicting me with a movie reel on repeat, revealing me and all the stupid shit I’ve ever done, my sanity meter is starved for another quarter, for a shard of clarity——the walls are closing in=====Oh my god, where are you now, my holy ghost has gone MIA
I’m nervous all the time, my breath stale beer and bitter nicotine, people can see through me, I never learned how to be coy or clever, my bravado has caved in, I’m teetering on being too far gone to come back again, I no longer belong anywhere or to anyone, everywhere I go I feel out of place, people stare at me like I’m a two headed monster in a nickel and dime freak show——can’t you see, that under all this ugliness it’s still me
I’d call you, but at this hour it would be a selfish thing for me to do——-I wish I’d never worn you out with my rants and ramblings, I’m afraid I’m gonna drag you down with me—— a drowning man with arms flailing, we played hide and seek one too many times with our emotions, and what was once found is now lost. it’s Amazing Grace in reverse——-I’m sorry I painted you into my landscape, you’re far too pretty to be sketched within the same canvas with the likes of someone like me
People want to choose relationships the same way that they pick out corn on the cob. They secretly peel back a small portion of the husk and take a quick peek to see what’s on the inside. They take a hurried look around to see if anyone is watching and then hastily decide if it’s a keeper or a throw back.
I wonder what becomes of the cobs that have been discarded and left behind, their husk pulled down exposing all their flaws, for all the world to see. Maybe some are fed to the pigs while others are sent to the popcorn factory.
Today they would’ve called us geeks or nerds
But when I was a kid we were the misfits, the oddballs
The ones who ate lunch at the ketchup smeared cafeteria table
None of us had cars or the money to eat off campus
all we had was acne, braces and Walmart clothes
Individually we were vulnerable and easily bullied
but as a pack we were freaks of nature to behold, a beautiful mess
We were the ones that were too short, too tall, too fat, too skinny, too smart, too shy, glasses too thick, too this, too that, and all the things that come after “too”
The one gift of being “too” is that it allowed us the freedom to not give a shit
about what others thought or said
We carried our band instrument cases with pride
The weirder the case, the better, and I think the french horn was one of the more cryptic ones
The cello was the Yeti of all cases and sure to turn a few heads on the bus
You could hear the hushed voices saying “What the heck is in there?”
Making its way down the narrow bus isle, banging the case into the bullies heads
“pardon me” spoken with mock sympathy
We found the halls best sonically suited to practice the Messiah
And we sang with gusto as the football players, cheerleaders, skaters and preppies filtered by
Some would actually stop and listen, while wise asses would goof off by making fart noises from down the hall
We read fantasy and SIFI books, we were proud Trekkies
We were at home in our daydreams and fantasies
Yes, we were virtual kings and lords of the video games we conquered
We were kids doing kid shit, in no hurry to be cornered by grown up responsibilities
The girls in our clan didn’t fit into the strict rules of fashion and make up
They were smart and had a good sense of humor
They allowed guys like me to give them a ride on my handle bars
crashing into the tall weeds, an accident becoming the prelude to an innocent kiss—–maybe not an accident??? maybe not so innocent???
All the pretty girls were constrained and selling their souls to be popular
They seemed in a hurry to grow up fast and become dissatisfied adults
with Republican biases, expecting to be privileged, smiling smug, indifferent, clinging to their 401 K’s, mouthing simple answers to complex questions, marching like a minion to Fox News and its right wing christian hypocritical drumbeat, dismissing everything and everyone outside their protective bubble of good paying job, new SUV and nice house in the suburbs, with their gardener Jose, whom they never asked to verify his citizenship or green card along with Juanita their maid
for them being an adult was just an extension of high school, sacrificing ones self to fit in with the most current trends
Occasionally I pull out my old battered cello and squeak out a wobbly rendition of our school fight song
Soundtrack “Sympathy For The Devil” by The Rolling Stones.
I’m two beers and a shot past midnight as I make my way down a rainy street on a dying Sunday.I pass an old rundown house that’s still wearing it’s Christmas lights in late March. What a sad and pathetic sight. But after all, everyday down here feels as morose as the day after Christmas.I stroll past a group of bums huddled together under a tiny bus-stop shelter. They aren’t sad, they throw their heads back and laugh and hack deep husky coughs. I watch as they pass their generic cigarette around and count their beggars change to buy another bottle.This is socialism at its best.
I score a couple of rocks from a big black dude who’s street name is killer.He has sleepy red eyes and a bulge under his leather coat that corroborates how he’d acquired his nick name. Killer is an evolutionary capitalist, his philosophy is that the big fish eat the little fish. He wears a face that says “Don’t fuck with me”. This corner is his domain and if you know what’s good for you, you won’t question his Province.
I lean against the wall of the damp alley and light my pipe. I smell and taste that familiar chemical flavor I’d been craving.I’d promised myself that this would be my last time and that tomorrow I’d straighten up and start writing my great American novel. Man, when I’m high I can feel a million stories exploding through veins.I’d love to write some of this shit down, but I’ve pawned my computer, my phone————-my soul.
The devil keeps my redemption locked up in a cage down in that fiery netherworld. Salvation is a hard thing to come by when the key to it is held by my worst enemy—– that enemy being me. You see, the devil isn’t in the drug, it isn’t in the guy who sell’s me the shit, it’s in the bullshit I feed myself.We all have our devils and demons, but some of us just feed our’s better than others. I’ve gone from believing I’m the master of the beast to realizing that I’m his slave in a freak-show.
I’ve decided that today will be the day I stand up and face the devil and his cadre of demons. I’m going down into the belly of the beast to do battle.It won’t be as simple as one battle, it will be a lifelong war.Satan has the high ground, he can give me extreme earthly pleasures.He will make me feel like I’m right and the world is wrong.He’ll support my victim mentality. But there’s a high price to paid for unearned luxury.
There are only three types of people who dare trespass into the belly of the beast.They’re either holy men, madmen or those who have come to the stark realization that it’s either fight for redemption or dive into those eternal flames. I’m in the latter group, I’ve used up all my excuses and burnt all my bridges. I’d worn out all my friends and family and squandered whatever potential I once possessed. I’m done waiting on someone or something to come and save me. Salvation is a personal quest.
Some go into the belly of the beast and never resurface.Some go there and resurface as a Bodhisattva.And then there are those who lose their mind in search of their soul.But if you’re gonna go down there, you gotta go all the way and you gotta go it alone. No one can save you from yourself——–but yourself.
Hell is knowing that you’re a fraud, it’s hating yourself for becoming the worst possible version of what might have been. It’s intentionally pushing everyone away who cares about you because it hurts too much to have others care about something you’ve long ago given up on My god, I’m fucked up——but here I am again, in the alley, siting on the curb with my feet in the gutter. Damn, it’s so hard to believe I can do better when I feel worthless.Hating everyone and everything made my addiction bearable, these dark emotions fueled my self destruction. Self hatred has robbed me of my most potent of tools; love and courage. When I descend into that inferno I will need love to be my sword and courage my armor. I’m tired of being ashamed——-tired of being sick, tired of being what I’ve become.
I’m on a dark stairway that’s slippery from the blood of broken hearts. Above there’s a chandelier constructed of sun bleached bones. There’s a chorus of horrifying screams and god forsaken moans from the other lost souls. In the background an organ plays its mournful dirge. I tentatively push open the squeaky gates causing a flock of bats to take flight. The beating of their wings startles me.
There is a heaviness in the air, it feels as if this place is the center of gravity for all of the worlds unforgiven sins. I make my way down a candle lit corridor.It opens up into a cavernous cathedral of horrors.From the ceiling there swings decaying corpses with their red bulging eyes dislodged from their sockets. Drooling zombies rush about with dozens of hypodermic needles stuckin their arms.A goole hunches over a withering body as he repeatedly stabs at it and then licks the blood from his knife.In the shadows ragged figures fornicate with half goat, half human creatures. This is not only the theater of the absurd, it’s a chamber of pure evil. Above me flying beast with bat wings screech and rain spit down on me.The air is filled with an over powering oder of rotting flesh.Creatures in chains with putrid breath scream out asking for mercy as they are being led by demons into a lake of fire.From the lake comes the revolting smell of singed hair and burnt flesh.
Every fiber of my being is telling me to turn around and bolt back up the stairs to a place of green fields, where I might negotiate for forgiveness and pray for the rarest of commodities——-a second chance.Sitting upon a throne on a high riser sits Lucifer the prince of darkness. His eyes are red like burning coals, where his feet should be there are hoofs. He amuses himself with an anaconda as it curls and constricts around his arms and neck.He bites into an apple and offers me a sinister grin. He stretches out his hand and asks in a deep throaty voice “How about a nibble? You look like a lover of forbidden fruit.”I nervously shake my head no.He stands up and yells in a death metal scream “What the fuck do you want?” I try to speak but my mouth is to dry to form a word.“Speak up you little bastard, a good servant should never makes his master wait.”
I muster all my courage and manage to speak in a squeaky voice “I’ve come to take my soul back.”He throws his head back and laughs.“You’ve got a fucking short memory. You signed the fucking contract. You traded your soul for all those little goddamn things you said you wanted, desired, needed.”My fear was beginning to lean towards anger.“You never gave me shit.You used me.” He looked me straight in the eye and laughed.“You struck a deal with the devil, what did you think you’d get, honesty, integrity? You’re gonna get what you fucking deserve, an eternal timeshare in hell.”He removed his purple robe and spread a pair of huge black wings.“Do you like my wings? I can give you wings just like these. All you have to do is to continue to do my bidding. Just keep being as bad and evil as you have been and someday you’ll have dominion over all this darkness.” He offers me a mocking thunderous laugh.
“I don’t want your wings. I don’t want your darkness. I want my soul back.Our contract is void because you never gave me any of the things I bargained for.” He gives a snide little snicker as one of his minions fly to his side and hands him a paper. “Here is your contract.Now let’s take a little gander at what you traded your sour for.Number one. You asked for ecstasy and I gave you crack—check. Number two. You asked for a loyal family. I gave you a group of gang bangers made up of thief’s, thugs and murders—— check. Number three. You asked for a profession. I made you a thief to support your drug habit—–check. Four. You asked for unrestricted sex with many.I made you a prostitute to support your drug habit——check. Number five. You asked for freedom. I gave you the street and homelessness—–check. Number six. You asked for a purpose.I made you an addict—– check.” “You tricked me.You twisted my words and made a fool of me.”“No shit, I’m the devil and that’s what I fucking do.I break hearts, I steal souls, I tear apart families and friendships.I’m a destroyer of hope, a revoker of faith. And now it’s fucking time for you to pay up ass hole.”
I stammered, “What about love? What about self respect? Why can’t you give me those things?”He just shook his head, “I can’t give you what you’ve never asked for.Those are things only you can give yourself.You should’ve read the small print kid.”He points to the backside of the contact where there’s an extremely small line of written words. In a mocking voice satan reads from the contract. “By signing this contract I agree to no longer love myself.I agree to shed myself of all integrity and self respect.I will be an instrument of hate and loath everyone, everything——including myself.”He stretched out his wings in a show of power. “Something you dumb shit mortals never seem to understand is that if you don’t love and respect yourself, then how the fuck can you ever love or respect anyone else.”
He straightens the gold pentagram around his neck. “I have power over many things, but I have no dominion over love and ones self worth——those things are god given. I deal in the transitory sins such as desire, vanity, money, greed, drugs, pride, alcohol, sex, power and possessions. These are the tools that make it easy for me to enslave mortals such as you. These bargaining chips are extensions of the seven deadly sins, also known as the cardinal sins spoken of in Revelations. It never ceases to amaze me—–what evil mortals will do for such petty prizes.”
He spread his wings and circled around before landing in front of me. He encroaches into my space. “I’ll give you back your soul under one condition. You must deliver to me a man who rivals my evil, possesses my hate and has the power to deceive and divide humanity. I need such a man to lead my apocalypse. Do you accept my challenge?”I allowed myself to show some bravado as I stared straight into his eyes.“I know of such a man.He worships all the things you have to offer. He’ll gleefully exchange eternal damnation for your earthly pleasures.He will mount and lead the charge of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”Satan nodded in confirmation.“So be it! I will provide whatever is needed to make this monumental deal a sucess.” He grimaced showing his yellow fangs and exhaled a ball of fire that singed my eyebrows and hair.
I awoke face down in a dumpster.In a daze I stumbled out of the alley.Had I awoken from a nightmare or was this vision a drug induced hallucination? There lingered the smell of burnt hair in the air and the soles of my boots left a trail of bloody footprints.I knew then and there that I’d struck a deal with the devil and this would be my final chance to redeem my soul.
I opened my wallet to find it stuffed with hundred dollar bills.I went to the most expensive tailor in New Your and purchased the finest suit that money can buy.I then went to a spa to have my hair styled, a shave and a manicure.I placed both my hands on my briefcase and summoned the credentials I would need to close this deal.I looked in the mirror and was amazed at my transformation. If you can judge a book by its cover, then I resembled a wind swept hero on the cover of a cheap pulp fiction paperback.
I sat in the back seat of my chauffeured limousine as it made its way down 5th avenue towards midtown I opened my briefcase and retrieved a cellphone with the number of my contact preprogramed.I pressed the dial button and waited for someone to answer. From the other end there came a stern and impatient voice, “Hello.” When I responded l was surprised to hear my voice come out with a thick Russian accent “Hello, I think you know who I am. I’m your handler from the East. I was hoping thatyou’d be available for a discrete meeting? And, if you are available, I’d like to introduce you to the greatest deal maker of all time.” I knew that this comment would set a hook in his ego. From the other end of the phone there came a gasp.“Bullshit!Everybody knows that I’m the greatest dealmaker that’s ever lived.Who the hell is this person you’re speaking of, and what does he have to offer me?” “He has anything and everything that you’d ever desire, at a basement price.In fact, he’s willing to take matters deeper than the basement.” He responded “I’m a busy man, so this had better not be a waste of my fucking time. I’ll meet with you and your so called deal maker. I’ll show you both who’s the greatest deal maker of all time. I’ll let security and my secretary know to allow you and your Monty Hall impersonator into my tower.”
I felt that little head rush that comes when taking an elevator to the the upper floors.The elevator stops at the thirteenth floor and in walks an immaculately dressed Lucifer. He tips his hat and offers up a sinister smile “Thirteen is my favorite number.”I press the button for the top floor. The elevator doors opens and we’re escorted into a large office.Behind the dark oak desk is a huge floor to ceiling window with a panoramic view of New York city’s skyline.One might even mistake this grand office as heavens vestibule.
“Please have a seat”He gestures for us to take a seat in the leather chairs facing his desk.“So, my Russian friend here say’s that you want to offer me one hell of a deal?” The devil nod’s and begins “Yes, I think you and I have much in common and many similar interests and aspirations. You are also a man of wealth and taste who possesses great intelligence. You alone are the only one who has the capacity to rule this floundering world.” I sit back and watch as he sets the hook ever deeper into his narcissistic soul. “I have the power to make all of your dreams come true.” Feigning disinterest, he leans back in his desk chair and begins to clean beneath his fingernails with a pewter letter opener with the initials “DT” carved into the handle. “And in exchange for this what do want from me?”“I will get to that, but first let me tell you of all the things I can lay at your feet.”
“I will make you the most powerful man in the world.I’ll give you authority over the largest and best equipped army ever assembled.I’m offering you the power to destroy your enemies with the push of one button.I will give you the ability to make your followers believe your lies as if they were indisputable truths. I will rain down on you billions and billions of dollars.As for women, I will make it possible for you to lay down with Playboy centerfolds and Porn Stars.I will make you more famous than the pope and you will be worshiped like the greatest of pop stars. You will be famous with your name and face plastered on every magazine, TV news program and newspaper. You will have every material comfort that any man might ever ask for.I offer you these things because I know that you are a man of discriminating taste and know the virtues of fame and fortune.”
He places his letter opener on the desk and folds his arms.“You have my attention.But what is it you want from me?”“What I require from you is written within this contract.” He motions for me to open the briefcase and provide him with a contract. “I’ve taken the liberty to draw up a cursory contract itemizing the minor concessions you need to provide in exchange for all the gifts, pleasures and powers I will bestow upon you.”
“Let me read to you the paltry stipulations required on your part. You must turn your back on those who’ve trusted in you.You will side with the East cover the west and in doing so you’ll solidify your earthly power.You will use your orator skills to deceive and manipulate the masses with lies and falsehoods.You must use all your powers to sew divisiveness.You will exploit the diversity in individuals and cultures to fan the flames of hatred. You will build walls to separate countries and foster mistrust. You must be willing to separate families and cage children. You will turn people against one another by promoting fear and hatred.Through fear and hatred you will create friction between faiths, nationalities, races, gender, political affiliations and ideologies. You will take credit for the rising stock-market making the rich richer, while the less fortunate die due to the lack of shelter, food and water. As chaos rages around you, you shall retreat to your castles and send out inflammatory rhetoric fueling your fires of divisiveness and hate. Many are called but few are chosen, and because of your greatest, you are the chosen one.” The hook has been set, the line now drawn taut and all that was left to do was reel him in.
He unfolds his arms and clasps his hands together.“This sounds like a reasonable deal, but what about those who are close to me? I must be provided with an assurance that I will have the power to pardon them from all earthly laws.”“Yes of course.I will also allow you the power to pardon yourself of earthly laws.You will have dominion over all earthly laws because you will be above the law.If this meets with your satisfaction all you need to do is sign right here on this doted line.”
He takes a golden pen from his pocket and reaches out for the contract. Satan shakes his head and takes the pen from him and hands him the pewter letter opener. “I’m sorry my friend, but I’ll require that signature in blood.”He takes the letter opener and grimaces as he pierces the tip of his finger. He then smiles “Sir, you drive a hard bargain but I’m the only one who’s truly mastered the art of the deal.” He pushes back his orangish hair to reveal a set of stubby horns. “As you can see I’ve acquired my horns. I can’t wait to earn my wings.”
In order to retrieve my soul I headed back down into the belly of the beast. “I’ve fulfilled my obligation and I’m here to retrieve my soul.” The devil gives me a little smirk and responds “I’ve been thinking about you and was hoping that perhaps we might work a new deal. I remember you once saying something about wanting to write the great American novel. I could maybe help you out with that.” I defiantly shake my head no. He continued “Imagine having your novel being number one on the New York Times best sellers list. I can arrange that. In addition, how about having your novel recommended reading by Oprah’s book club? I can make that happen too. Maybe we could arrange to have that novel turned into to a screen play and a winner of numerous Oscars. You’re so talented and gifted, it’s only right that you receive some recognition and compentsation for all your hard-work.” I could feel my chest begin to swell with the thought of attaining all of these accolades. “I’ve taken the liberty of drawing up this little arrangement and it awaits your signature.” I take the contract and pen in my hand and stare at the dotted line. I take a deep breath and hesitate. I pick the contract up and tear it into pieces. “I’ll take my soul back now—–and as for you—–you can go to hell!”
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Although some interpretations differ, in most accounts, the four riders are seen as symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine, and Death, respectively.
The seven deadly sins or cardinal sins.
The seven capital sins, also commonly referred to as the seven deadly sins or cardinal sins, are pride, greed (or covetousness), lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth. These are thought to be the sins to which human nature is most susceptible, and they are said to be the origins of other sins.
It takes space to give a person or a thing a fresh perspective.Time tastes like expensive bourbon—–at first a cozy burn in my belly, then a flushed buzz across my reddened face, followed by a grimace and a wince.Yesterday and tomorrow remain the same and open to interpretation. Everyone changes, some for the better, others for the worse.I’ve always contended that to be understood is to be loved.But, you can’t understand someone until you let go of your relationship with their relationship. There is often much truth in what appears to be a bizarre contraction.
People are complicated, relationships are messy, normality is a mirage—-we’re all blind to our disfunctions. One man’s crazy is another man’s fetish. I wonder what parts of me are living in you? And, what parts of you will always be withheld from me?Cause if I’m gonna love you, I gotta touch, taste and feel all of you. I’ve walked around in you, I awoke inside you; what a beautiful world. There’s much hidden in the fog of what we desire verses what we get and who we wanna be verses what we’ve become. I wonder how you’d privately describe me to your girlfriends. Woman talk about men as if they were capital. They estimate their earning power and their value on the free market. “He buys me whatever I want. You ought to see his portfolio.” Men talk about women as if they were property, as if they were a new sports car. “Look at what I own, look how shiney and pretty she is. She does whatever I ask her to do, and I mean anything.” I swear I’ve felt you walk through me, what a strange world in which to lose yourself. The record skips at the same old place every time, our steps go in circles, yet as hard as I try, I still step on your toes—–
Out of thin air we found one another, our chemistry volatile. Desire is like a rubber band.If never stretched it will become brittle and one day break when most needed.Or, if stretched beyond what it’s capable of handling, it will abruptly snap. What we expected isn’t what we hoped for. What we get is karma and karma reminds us of what we deserve—–So, you better stop.
I have this ex-lover I carry around with me like a faded legend. I have these movie reels of us taking up space in my head. In one we’re in a stark white room and we’re both wanting to be touched by the other, but instead we keep poking our fingers into one another’s soft spots.And then there’s the reel of us driving down a flat endless desert road and were fighting over the steering wheel.The brakes fail us as we careened out of control.The horizon becomes a cliff we fly over into oblivion. I’ve been told that oblivion is where new stars are born from the explosions within dying stars. Now, isn’t that the way of nature, creating beauty out of cruelty, birthing new beginnings from our finalities.
Laughter is the orgasm of the soul….God smiles knowing the punchline lies within us all………