Saturday, February 18, 2006

Bullseye...


Fog lifts. It always does from those wierd days where you find yourself wired into some new trip and lost in the frantic solar mind. But such is my life and I was used to it. Used to long periods of broken history and blackouts playing back in newspaper articles, through friends, through enemies in scattered dreams both asleep and awake. So, as it was, I could remember a little of coming to New Orleans, arriving, going downtown, black black grey black grey, flourescent hospital neon glow, wake up, sign out, to the streets. Do you need help, son? Do you have a place to go? No. And no. Well thats a problem. We can't just let you out with no place to go. Perhaps you'll consider the Psychiatric Institute for awhile. You know, to get your thoughts together. No thanks. I really think... Listen, I have a very serious appointment to keep. Very serious Doc, you understand, the type you don't miss. I must go. Now preferably. I'm really fine. I promise that...always am as a matter of fact. Always just fine... All that was lies. I'm not really sure if thats what I said or what I dreamed I said. I may not have even spoken. Either way I left the hospital and the nurses and the Doctors alone watching me scratching their heads. I didn't envy their job. Shitty work really. People were generally shitty and who wants to clean up their ridiculous problems. I didn't expect the Doctor to prescribe me some pill that I couldn't find anyway that would somehow make my whole decision making process function as a normal adult's should. So I leave...for lifts. The appointment shit was sort-of not true. I did want to go see a friend of mine. I told myself to behave for a while. Just a test run on trying to find something down here to justify my running away again. And thats what it really was. I ran. I am a habitual runner. I may be the only runner on earth that is in piss-poor physical shape. But I run with the best of 'em. Anytime something arrises to distract me from whatever I am doing or not doing or supposed to be doing, I make a straight trip to the airport, buy a ticket for someplace, and go away on buissiness. Thats what I tell myself. Usually I believe it. This time only differed in that I was prompted to come down. By a letter or a call or something. Someone needed my help, I was sure of that. There had been a reason a little while ago. I stopped for a sandwich and sat down at a lonely deli counter. I ignored anyone around me. I paid for my food and, since I had my wallet out, made a move to actually go through the bulging contents of the tattered leather fold. Note, lots of notes. Napkins. Nothing legible. Well, not much. Some numbers and names and a map drawn on a cocktail napkin of some club I had never heard of. I imagined myself in this place and tried to visualize the scene and situation in which I would have acquired this bizarre treasure. This is what I did when I couldn't remember something or someplace or some week. I tried to imagine, piece together from whatever I could find what actually happened. Reciepts are handy for this. I made a habit years ago of always getting reciepts for stuff, not because I care really how much money I waste or where I waste it at, but that later on I can muddle through places I must have been in order to get these little shreds of paper. No one else would put one in my back pocket just to confuse me so I must have actually done these things. Smart I thought. So, I went back through several weeks of notes and paper and reciepts putting myself in several hotels, bars, houses and clubs throughout that time. I had some numbers for stuff I couldn't read. But the most important artifact was the map. That I was most interested in. It wasn't in my handwritting...I knew this because I could sort of read it. And it was of someplace I had never really been or seen or heard of or anything. Not an apartment or bar. At least I didn't think so, the only marks were lines and crosses and numbers. Very odd. Maybe addresses? Maybe...not likely. I couldn't figure that out...not at all. Very strange. I wrapped up my notes and recipts in a rubberband that I got the my waitresses wrist with her blessing, and put them in my other back pocket. All that stuff would probably be used later to sort out a story to tell someone or write down and throw away. I wrote strange stuff sometimes that I couldn't read...stuff about Red, killing machines of glory, tough burning silhouettes and light faded through candles in windows I've never seen. I imagined all this stuff meaning something at the time it was written. Now, it was just junk. Just paper. Amusing to me but not worth much else. Except the map. It was exactly what I needed and had wanted to search for and it had been in my pocket the entire time. That shred of paper gave me a concrete reason to stay in the crescent city. I had to find out what this map was and what it represented. I had to find the tresure. I was more than pleased with myself. So I took my map and left the restaurant. I puzzled over it all the way to the Garden District. I had to see a friend. Maybe he would know what the map meant...undoubtedly, he would help me find out.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Glycerine.


I was anxious to explode the new wire...it was just opened, freeing me of the old responsibilities of watching listening watching. There was a new mark too. Old man, wandering up and down, lost in Enterprise City. The other guys, the men, said he had the job and was moving forward, cooridinating the chaos swirling in nostrils and out gaping mouths. So, as told, I still followed him; chasing echoed footsteps in alleys and crackhouses, broken doorways behind dumpsters, but always just a few seconds behind his vague destruction. He had been in buissiness for countless years.
This was a different situation than usually confronted; he knew this, knew I wouldn't strike. Not now, maybe not ever. So he operated without the proper fear of regulation and subtraction...without tax and loss and violence. It was hard for me to watch day in day out while he worked. His caress, those people touched with his red tentacle, was felt in all levels of the industry. His anomaly, the reason we followd and plotted, was his true connections. On deeper levels than the streets, he walked where he shouldn't...either ignorant or unafraid of the consequences that tailed just behind him like a stray, rabid dog. During the time that I followed, he offen disappated beore my eyes. Like a ghost in sunlight, a blue-gray tendril of smoke in a breeze, he was there one second gone the next. I figured his evaporation was due to product renewal but I couldn't be sure. Regardless, he always showed back up at the corner of Sydney and Walnut with a grin on his face...he knew I watched, he knew and didn't care. The General told me to keep working, keep pushing...The pressure would build in him. One mistake, only one, one slip, one trip one car one...That would be the end of him and his racket and his service. The old man. Thats all he was to me. Not an enemy but an enemy to my friends and buissiness partners. The people wanted him dead; he was a top priority and, if I didn't do as I was told, I could be the next. So, when night fell, I watched and followed and tailed. Brentwood Motel, late, past midnight. This was where he slept and escaped. First name with the desk clerk, knew the maids, had a permanent key to room 115; he had been living here through the months I had known him and probably longer. Tonight was no different; but tonight, we would talk. The General had said that his people needed a name for this stranger. I was to give them that name and deliver the Old Man to my superiors. I would do it too, do it alone and without fear, with a knife and a purpose. He as unarmed and I knew the job would be easy. I would be over before it started. Tonight we would talk.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

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Part One


Corrosion spread from the vagrant city like the foulness of capitalism lifting from an old, old life. Power charged wind, an old old time and a lifting prescence. I stood still, watching turpuoise purple mauve fill the cloudless sky. The orange orb throwing shadows far from me. Enterprise City was so still in the early morning and I was going to see the Doctor, alone and still as the sleeping city. I knew he would touch me but the reality of this life gave few options for the damned. The night ghosts, serpents and vampires rose up to greet the ancient day. I watched them in alleys and doorways and windows as they sought prey in the daylight. A thin music, winds and harps, lifted the heart as my heavy feet scraped grey black pavement. Farely Street, the main drag, the peaceful killer, woke up and twisted like an asp, foreign to this land of black dead ivy pharohs. And they had power, yes, much power, in the opal obelisk shadow. I could see it in the distance, behind the palace, miles down the end of the capitol street; a reminder of my indenture to the nausiating reality I built, my own hands filthy with the blood of this plague had built my prison and I lived there, brown eyes searching for a freedom I had not known only escape escape escape and run.
The golden pink New morphine sky drew me from a long sleepless night of rock and rig and painless memories but now another day had been born in the angel-falling time, a phoenix long since spent to ash and dust, I could taste that pain now. Enterprise came awake and throbbing like a pink organ searchging and never finding a maddening home. Vehicles, big small, long tall, buses and taxis flew by the end of my sneakers. I watched white light swim by, irrelecant to my current position in all this chaos but I loved it alone none the less. My pain showed but not in cracked eyes and split chin, but behind my veiled soul, the God within dwealt but not actively. I was unaware completely and lost in the fading twilight og an extiguished, haunted mind. The pestilence people walked with the princes of this kingdom...serving begging pleading for a new life, a different time and center of being, far away from this Roman new Emipre of slave pain, all of us dropping into this colloseum, gladiators in life, always fighting the appointed. I can see this now.
But again I digress as I often get lost watching the Queen and her servants crawling in cars across the concrete Wester road. The walk to the old man's house was short. Others he served, the clientelle, sat waiting on the blocks of Evergreen Street where the office of the Doctor (he would touch me and I was alone, but I would not cry as the other patients, I was bigger than they I knew and I understood this pattern of suffering, my sickness alive and thriving, the worms in my veins lifting my feet of the marble steps to the ancient oak door) rested quietly. The others there, speechless monsters, watched my steps, they knew I was stronger than they and I needed my meal, my nourishment my warm chaos light.
Anarchy, the woman, wanted me to kill myself with her, a suicide pact, an agreement born of equilibrium achieved when two become one. I said no, I remember her tears as I left her there in the room where we slept deficated and fed. I went to the Doctor's.
Doctor Louis her was called and we all knew him well, he clothed us for a fair price, only my soul only that, only. In the waiting room I sat and read People, judging the lives of those who owned me, I hated them detested. The man next to me looked the same, he tore faded pages and swallowed them vomitting fame and wealth and poverty and his own misery onto the floor for the African nurse to sweep and clean for penies and her sex. I watched her kneel down, one knee in bile and spit and felt sick and alone...the blinds in the office were drawn, locking in the black night only killing me slowly and I waited, ignoring the moans and shakes and sweat of the sick waiting around me. The Doctor would see me now.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Chapter 2?

Red drift. Early morning lightning, streaks of pink lavender mauve and laced with a strung golden cable of light which reflected every thought or dream I ever had. It was a lonely morning. I felt like an absent form, just a ghost wandering sick street and treacherous alleys before the sun completely rose, scattering all evil and pain to the edge of vision. The theives and vampires and pestilence people were moving indoors in a steady stream, unwilling or unable to walk tall in the open world. The city was coming alive. More taxis and cars and vans and trucks sped by with every solid minutes that passed...my feet scrapping filthy grey pavement underneath. I had stayed in a shitty motel last night on the edge of the filth lands; although I slept well and solid, a tranquilized drug-induced sleep, I woke up feeling frantic and rushed, as if something were chasing me, watching me, keeping me in sight and mind. I payed my bill, got a cup of cheap coffee, whole dark grounds sticking in my teeth, and left as I had arrived, on foot with only a backpack.
It had been almost three days since I had been home. James was keeping me busy running around the city; talking to this guy, collecting insurance from another, and delivering all the intelligence and cash back to the Doctor's office as quickly as I could. The work downtown was always tedious and distracting, but it rarely went on this long without a quick break and a return home to rest my turning wheels; this job was unneccessary and dark. I didn't need the potential legal trouble it could bring and I didn't need the stress. My indenture to James, as well as I could figure, had long since expired. Fuck it. I'll finish this run, drop what I need to drop and get hte fuck out of this miserable, cold, demented city.
At the nearest bus stop, the only one leading downtown, other expatriots of this lame society waited in silence, wrapped in shawls and hoodies and jackets, carrying duffels or bags or purses; I stood there with them, in the back, and smoked a cigarette, my first of the new day. I noticed my stomach grumbling and cramping; I hadn't eaten since the day before yesterday. This was how hectic working downtown was, I had no time just to sit and eat, no time to rest, fueled on anger and narcotic. This was how things were and I accepted them as such. Fuck it. I looked at my shoes and waited for the bus which arrived minutes later with a screech and a sudden halt. The people, all crowded forward, raced ahead of me as if seats were a priority. Slowly stepping up, I nodded to the spectral driver, his eyes explained his entire situation to me. No kids, divorced, lived alone, watched Jeopardy at night, went to bed early, a veteran of some war forgotten by the Government he served, waiting for death. He nodded to me as I slid a dollar into the machine, paying my fare, to get me to the other side of town. I felt sorry for the man so I smiled before taking my seat in the front; everyone who boarded before me sat in the back, clustered and crowded in, I would rather be alone in the front, not having to make any human contact, not having to speak or think or even exist. I wanted to go home.
The cell phone I forgot I had broke all silence in the bus, a piercing ring which startled me from a half-sleep state. I pulled the goddamned thing from my pocket and looked at it; I pressed the silence and watched the caller-id spring up. Not that it mattered, I knew the only person who would call. I debated on answering; maybe I could throw the phone out the bus window, maybe I could go home without any repercussions, I could say I lost it, I could say I wanted out, I could say I was being hunted and watched and chased and pursued every hour of every day and I could say I was sick of it. But I knew none of that mattered. I regretted the fact that I knew none of that matters. I answered the phone.
"Yeah?"
"Where have you been? I needed you last night."
"Oh yeah?"
"You were supposed to come back here..."
"Oh yeah?"
"Yeah. This is not acceptable."
"Sorry. I was tired."
"Are you coming in now?"
"I'm on the bus again. On my way."
"Good."
"What are you going to need me for today? I want to go home..."
"Not much. Just a couple of errands then, you're done."
"What errands?"
"Not on the phone, remember? I'll talk to you when you get here."
Silence.
"Okay?"
"I guess. This fucking sucks. I can't do this anymore."
"I'm not having this discussion with you again. Get your ass in here and do your job."
Silence.
"I'll see you soon."
Click. Phone hangs up.
Everyone on the bus was watching me, the driver was glancing back in his rear-view mirror. I sighed and gazed out the window, watching bits and pieces of this capitol city fly by, unaware of me or my buissiness or my breath. I hated this lonely feeling; isolated, on a bus, not even feeling home among the degenerates, not welcome in the back of the bus. Fuck it. I'll do what I have to do, make a sale, pursue a contact, drop a line, whatever is needed of me today. Then I can disappear. I need to move to another city, get another name, get another life and leave all this old baggage and nonsense behind. Doctor James could fend for himself, he could more than afford more personell. I wanted to leave, go away, just vanish; in the middle of this corrupt capitalism, alone and breathing what was given to me as free air, and watching time pass in street signs and traffic lights...This is not where I belong. I cannot be a catalyst of change here, its not even worth in insurmountable effort it would take just to roll away the stone. I looked at my shoes, white and faded, ripped and torn with years and mileage; I waited for the bus to stop and, when it did, I was the first to get off. The world spun around me, I oriented myself, and began moving, the breeze at my back moving me forward. Feet scuffing filthy pavement, grey and solid and constant; I watched my feet and they moved, white streak afer white streak, once again, going to see the Doctor.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Chapter One?

I left my house not wanting to fight the motherfucker; he was a real grade-a prick but I didn't need the static that him and the company of theives he kept would bring out on my relatively peaceful life. I was high though, and he would know it. Whenever I went to see him there was always a comment about my state of addiction. "You drink too much." or "Keep that filth out of your veins." He believed it clouded my judgement in a buissiness sense that he felt he could not have in the corporation. Fine with me. Fuck him anyway; at least I wasn't a goddamned sex addict. Walking to the bus was a cold venture. It was well below freezing and felt as if snow was just on the back of a bitter breeze. I hated this weather. I hated the summer too. Essentially, I only really felt comfortable in the Fall, when everything was quiet and dying. Running errands was not my idea of a good day. I had planned on staying inside, watching General Hospital, and loading up on xanax and liquor and dope and whatever else I could find as per the usuall daily routine. But this morning was interupted by a phone call in the early hours, eight or nine I guess, by my boss, James. Hearing his obnoxious voice half out of sleep was more than I could bare...I ingnored his repetitive phone calls until I couldn't take it anymore.
"What!? I'm sleeping."
"Well get up."
"No. I don't think so."
"I need you in the city today."
"I have plans."
"Well fucking cancel them. You're coming in."
"Fuck, dude. Not today."
"You sick?"
"No."
"You hung-over."
"No."
"You using again?"
Silence.
"You're coming into the city today. Be here by eleven."
Click. Phone hangs up.
So I got up. I had to do what I was told and especially if it involved coming into the city. Usually the work I did for Dr. James did not involve ever leaving my house. If it did, he would schedule a ride for me or send one of his people my way. Not today though. I was alone and had to fuck with the absurd bus syatem which ran this far out into the subburbs. Getting into the city was a chore and a pain in the ass; I would do it though.
At least the bus was warm. I sat down in the back and took out the cheap pulp fiction shit I was reading this week. Every week I picked a different genre and different style of writting. Sometimes it was early European literature, sometimes a Spider Man comic book. Either way, it helped the time on the bus, which made about fifty stops, pass much quicker. Occaisionaly I lifted my head to see who just got on. A buissiness man, a grandmom, some young looking kids ditching school, a homemaker. Often I glanced out the window (I always took a window seat) to watch the enviornment whirl by me in a frenzy; snow flake had started to fall. I knew it was going to be a long day.
Working for the Doctor was no picnic. He was illeagal. Basically hired by junkies to keep them running on methadone, buprenorphine, morphine, meperdine, whatever the stoic skin sack demanded for that day. I was on buprenorphine, which he considered to be "using." But in fact, this was much better than my previous lifestyle evading policy, running around on the street, and copping variable product from random sources up and down the eastern sea board. And, I wasn't selling shit either. I had cleaned up my act, was seeing a shrink...basically trying to get balanced out. Besides this, the Doctor trusted me but not me on anything, just me straight. Regardless of my vice, he still let me run the waiting room, schedule appointments and meets and drafts and such nonsense as he saw fit for me. I was a lackey, sometimes a cabby, sometimes his fucking pencil sharpener. It didn't matter and I could barely remember how this all got started.
I knew it was years ago now. Not sure how long but at least three years. James was a surgeon then and a damn good one. He was a friend of mine from way way back; more a friend of a friend who helped me out with some cash once when I was in serious trouble. Twenty-five thousand or my fucking life and the lives of any remaining family kind of trouble. He took care of me, got me out of sight for a while, safe and clean, and took care of my debt. He told me someday I would get the chance to repay him. This has been the last year of my life. But how do I tell the motherfucker no? I couldn't...so I keep on doing what he asks, trying to keep his head above water and using some old connections to keep him liscensed to practice his brand of voo-doo medicine. I had a feeling that his scam today had to do with the warehouse. If it did, I was nervous. This was silly through and through...producing laudanum for commercial (pirate) sale. But it was working and the Doc. was hooked on the biz like the goddamned junkies he despise but served and hated and served. An ironic cycle. I wanted nothing to do with it...not anymore anyway; years ago I would have jumped at the chance to be included in this kind of prohibitionist racketeering but now I was getting too old. I had a job a girl a life and he was still dragging me around by the balls.
"I need you downtown today."
"No, thanks. I feel like staying in."
"It wasn't a fucking question."
"I'm sorry, I misunderstood. Fuck you then."
"That doesn't work. Not now and not with me."
"But..."
"You get your ass in here now."
"Listen, I have real work to do..."
"This won't take long and its important."
"Shit. Shit shit shit. I am so tired of this, James."
"I'm sorry. But you know what has to be done. I told you already."
"I'm on the bus now..."
"Good. And don't call me on the cell phone. You know better."
Click. Phone hangs up.
I looked out the window. I could tell it was cold. The sky was grey. It had started snowing.