I combed my hair and shook my head to the music playing inside it. I made a part with my fingers. My hair was long but not like 80s metalhead long, it was much shorter than Hetfield in ‘86 but still quite unruly. It looked black when it was wet, jet black, but it was really a dark brown. My father told me I was German so I will share some vocabulary words. Dunkel means dark and braun is brown. Dunkelbraun. I’ve never dyed my hair, only some bad haircuts over the years. Mushrooms and fades. Mohawks and skinheads. I was told recently at work that I needed to get a haircut, it was an order masked as a suggestion. Fuck that. I needed a lot more than a fucking haircut. Now I’d spitefully grow it out. That was something I could actually do within my meager means.
The old worn towel wrapped around my waist had livestock on it. I’d love to work on a farm somewhere, maybe in Europe, Irish countryside or the Scottish highlands, tending to the animals for room and board, exploring the terrain on the weekends with a fully loaded flask. That sounded like a much nicer existence than what I had here in the cesspool.
I tapped the spacebar to the keyboard of my sluggish desktop, it let out a sound resembling a grunt as it awoke, as if I had disturbed it from a nap. I selected shuffle and Tom The Model softly began, the first and best song on that collaborative album from Beth Gibbons and Rustin Man. Beth Gibbons had a voice that toggled emotions I’ve repressed and buried deep within my subconscious, emotions she resuscitated and I didn’t know how to wrangle. I found difficulty in processing my emotions.
So do what you gotta do
Don’t misunderstand me
You know you ever have to worry ‘bout me
I’d do it again.
Do what again? The same mistakes over and over again? Sounds about right.
I’m unable to listen to any album or record straight through anymore. If I had to place a finger on it, I’d reckon it’s my attention span, combined with the curiosity of what will come next. It wouldn’t be unjust to apply that to how I treated everything in my life. Bored and in search of, in search of something slightly better.
While I showered, Catherine made my bed and vacuumed all of Pangur Ban’s mess. My little sister had always thought of herself as being my older sister. My big little sister. Her kindness was one of her greatest attributes but do not cross her. Catherine has always gone above and beyond to look after me, to make me feel better, which no one could help me achieve. Accepting help or advice from Catherine made me feel bad. The role reversal was uncomfortable for me. I didn’t want help from anyone, nor did I want her endlessly worrying about me. The truth was simple, I should be helping her, making her life easier, nicer, but I confess I have never done those things for her.
The bed was made better than if I had done it. A piece of chocolate should have been resting on the pillows. I felt like a spoiled brat looking at the bed with my brand new suit lying on it, wrapped in plastic, looking embarrassed on my old comforter, which had never comforted me.
My new suit. My only suit. I didn’t even want to touch the thing. I removed the plastic, and the copious amounts of paper protecting the suit jacket and matching pants. It seemed excessive, wasteful. I crushed up the paper into a ball and shot from the invisible free throw line like Ewing, sinking it in the wastebasket in the corner of my cluttered room.
Yes. I brought up a closed fist, flexing.
The carpet was the color of a cloudless day in Spring. The color of the wall was insignificant, it didn’t matter, because when I felt stagnant, and I often did, I removed everything from the walls, pushed the furniture to the center and painted a new color. So pick a color you fancy. I don’t care which. Got one? Four leaf clover. Dover white. Polar bear. Black evergreen. Did you want calming over bold? Whatever color came to mind was the color of my bedroom walls. Easy enough. The color must change so that I can pretend to be in another room, in another place because that is what I have become accustomed to. Never in one abode for too long. We might as well have been gypsies.
I always made a concerted effort not to get attached to a certain house or apartment, maintaining the ability to pick up and leave at the drop of a Mets fitted, sadly without ever really going far at all. We’ve moved a hundred times, at least it felt like that many, all within the boundaries of the world’s borough, Queens.
Conditioned from youth to adapt, so when I make my final act, my disappearance, remember that you won’t have to worry about me. Tell them, Beth, tell them all. My whole life has been practice, preparation for my greatest trick, the grand finale. Gone in a burst of smoke. An escapist at heart, I dreamt of exit signs and trap doors, only the cost to leave I couldn’t afford yet.
The walls of the apartment were adorned with art I made. No masterpieces or anything. I couldn’t afford the art I wanted so I made my own. I felt a sting of regret putting holes in the sheetrock with nails and thumbtacks, but I did anyway. Scotch tape left stigmata. The landlord was fucked the moment they accepted our deposit, one month’s rent and one month’s security, which we would probably never see again.
Quotes from various writers, artists and bands were tacked into the walls, little blurbs from people wiser than myself, to keep me motivated or inspired. Was this the bedroom of a grown man or a junior high school girl, I couldn’t tell. I did have a weird fascination with Plath and penmanship, but that was due to an affinity for self destruction and vandalism.
I had an appreciation of some things, there weren’t many things in this world I liked, but I appreciated beautifully crafted sentences, sentences I kept on hand to evoke something within me, to extract something deeper from me. And they did. I’d quote one of them now, but I feel on the spot, and can’t remember anything verbatim.
A framed picture of a street I lived on when I was a young boy sat on the dresser. A quiet street in Whitestone, Queens. A town named after a large boulder the Dutch spied when they washed up upon the shore. It made sense. My intention was to photograph a low hanging moon, full and magnificent. If you saw how the clouds gently held the celestial body against the darkness you’d agree it was brilliant, bringing to mind Bram Stoker and Bela Lugosi. I imagined the baying of wolves louder than the car engines that sped along 150th street.
The streetlights caught the flash of the camera obscura and smeared it with fluorescent wavelengths. Electricity was no friend of mine, and I wondered about the electric charges inside my brain, and if the synapses were doing their job.
Other art on the wall were a self portrait and one of Pangur Ban. Only those two didn’t have beards, they had mustaches instead, the drawings had gnarly three-dimensional schnurrbarts. If I possessed the manliness to actually produce facial hair I wouldn’t invest so much time pasting clippings of hair to my drawings.
A large map of the world was thumbtacked to the ceiling. The atlas loomed above me, beckoning me to wander and explore, and when I observed the vastness of the world from my old bed, I realized how insignificant I really was. I made no impact. I had no impression on anything, outside of the small network of friends, acquaintances and a divided family tree I didn’t exist. I was nothing. No one.
I resided in a shoe box, a mere diorama, a tiny space packed with objects that defined me. What did your possessions reveal about your personality? Do you ever think about that? All of the things crammed into a little room. What does it say about you? For the most part I thought I liked myself or rather, who I have become but was that the truth. Was I lying to myself? Do you like who you are?
In the center of my room was a treasured piece of furniture. Hand crafted. A coffee table that doubled as a coffin, or was it a coffin biding its time under the guise of a coffee table? You decide. It was purchased at Ikea or the like, and I didn’t have to follow painstaking instructions to assemble it. It was an artifact from my adolescence, a material representation of youth and friendship. I was fifteen years old when Sonny Winnows, my oldest and closest friend and my younger, dumber self constructed these personalized caskets in his father’s workshop in the basement of their house.