Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Je suis, William Sans Amis

The "mate" of mine who decided, without my permission, to tell my story has, after a stern talking to, allowed me control of this space to actually try to explain the truth. Although the truth is as elusive as a greased pig, I will try, within certain parameters, to tell the actual truth.

My "mate" is correct in saying that I told him my "story" over many a pint. After all, lies come out much more smoothly when the way is paved by liquid refreshments. It also is a plus that the hearer of your lies gets a little tight as well. That way the memory starts to fade in and out when they are trying to piece together the details of the long story you told them the night before.  The story that my father killed my mother and then himself was absolute bollocks. My father was quite simply a spy. He was not Sidney Reilly or some James Bond type of fellow, he was just a clerk in the foreign service that had a gift for languages and lying. Gifts that he passed on to his only loving son, me.  The horrible accident that my "mate" relates was the cover story that I was told to repeat if I was ever asked about my parents. The man telling me to relate this story was dressed in a pinstriped grey suit, and looked very calm as he related to me that it was "more likely than not that both of your parents are as dead as dead can be."  It seems that my father's gift for lying ran out before his gift of languages, and some Eastern European country had decided to offer him "a place to stay for a few years" while he learned how to tell the truth. My mother, who was with him at the time, was extended the same generous offer, but her quite place was hundreds of miles away from where my father was "vacationing."

I've yet to find out, or unearth exactly what happened to either of my parents. The respective prisons they were sent to are not the type of places that answer polite inquiries as to their "guest's" welfare or ultimate fate. It is probably safe to say that I, at some point, did become the orphan that my "mate" thought I was, but as to the exact date of my orphan-hood I am not entirely sure. I do have hopes that perhaps with the "thaw" in the relations between my country and the country that so generously provided a vacation spot for my parents, that I will one day be able to at least know their fate to some degree of certainty. For now, as I was told then, I figure they are more than likely dead, and have been for decades. It is not a particularly warming thought, but one has to move on with ones life at some point, and let the lost be lost.

The "uncle and aunt" that I was shunted off to live with were no relations of mine. My actual  relations hardly knew of my existence, and it was certainly too late to spring me upon some elderly aunt, and tell her that she had a new ward to take care of in her declining years. "Uncle and Aunt" were two former colleagues of my father who had "played the great game, and then got the fuck out whilst the getting was good." They did not love me, and nor I them. After all, I was a stranger to them, as they were to me. They were also retired spies, people who had spent the majority of their lives neither trusting or loving anyone with any real conviction. It was unlikely, and proved true, that they were not going to suddenly take a shine to some awkward boy of a presumed dead colleague. They raised me because the Service "asked" them to, and then paid them handsomely for doing it.  Money is not a magic cure that makes you really love someone, and my "uncle and aunt" only saw me as a walking supplement to their retirement income. They provided for me, and didn't let me starve, but as for affection, well affection is not needed to keep someone from starving to death.

The stutter that I developed when I learned to talk, was probably and outgrowth of the sterile environment in which I was reared. It was not some Oliver Twist like upbringing, but it was not far off, and the children should be seen (rarely) and not heard mantra was something that my adopted family followed like it was the golden rule.  Who was I to tarnish that by actually trying to talk to them?  The part that my "mate" doesn't know (at least until he reads this) was that it was actually a medical condition that caused my stutter, and by the time we were sharing those pints, I had long since had the simple operation that corrected it. That was why he says drunk me stuttered less. After a few pints, I sometimes forgot that I was supposed to stutter, and began to talk like I normally would. A mistake that fortunately he was too drunk to realize I was making. 

However, before the operation that fixed it, my stutter was fairly pronounced, and did cause me to have an extremely awkward childhood (aren't all childhoods awkward?).  It did provide me with the convenient excuse for not making friends, which was fantastic as I discovered early on in my life that I, for the most part, absolutely loathe people.  Which is why following in my presumably dead father's footsteps made sense. Spies don't have to love the people they are defending from the Red or White or Green Terror, they just have to do their job. In fact, being a spy, even if it wasn't the James Bond swashbuckling type, gave me free rein to lie, cheat, steal, and otherwise be an absolute prick to almost every person I came into contact with. Since I rarely came into contact with any person that could be described as "innocent" (even using the term very broadly), I never felt a twinge of guilt when I gave them a fake name, told them I did really love them or that the dress they were wearing did not make them look at all fat.

Once my stutter was surgically repaired, I discover my ability for languages, and quickly thereafter my ability to lie in several languages. It proved a useful thing to discover. I still affected my stutter to people because it is a great way to be ignored. That was useful in two ways. One, it allowed me to observe things without the burden of having to make "small talk." Observing it a very important skill to have, and when people think you can't talk or that talking to you is too much of a burden, you get unlimited time to observe. Two, being known as a stutter also was to be mistaken for an idiot. People, those rat bastards, seem to think that just because you can't complete a sentence smoothly without stuttering, you must be mental enfeebled. Nothing can be further from the truth, but I never felt the need to explain that to anyone (well maybe to a few members of the fairer sex).  This core misunderstanding of the nature of stuttering generally meant that people underestimated me, usually to their cost.  On many occasions, the urge was great to tell whatever miscreant that was getting the bracelets placed on him that the idiot stutterer was the cause of their downfall, and to express a wish that they enjoyed prison. However, that was never possible because the Foreign Office still had uses for me, and to gloat as a spy is to die.

Besides to gloat when someone get the bracelets is to tempt fate, and while I didn't tempt fate the fickle bitch still had unpleasant things in store for me. I will never forget the day in Zagreb at the seedy little outdoor cafe when the unshaven man in the cheap suit leaned over, tapped me on the shoulder and said " Mr. W__________, to put it in terms you can understand, you are nicked."  And I was nicked, caught as bare assed as new born babe with no excuse, and no means of escape. My "mate" wasn't exactly correct it wasn't a Turkish prison that I spent some time in, it was a Croatian one. I hear the Turkish ones are nice by comparison.  Stone walls, and iron bars make a pretty decent prison, and damn if those iron bars weren't cold, but I had long ago decided that I was too pretty for prison, and had determined to do whatever I needed to do in order to make my stay as short as possible.

I resolved to tell as many lies in as many languages as possible, even perhaps mixing in just enough truth to make it easy to swallow to get my ass out of this cold prison.  The HMFIC, came on my second day to inquire if my stay had been as pleasant as I had hoped, and to see if I had anything I would like to share. I told him that I certainly did have things to share, and "that it would be a mistake to let me die."  This piqued his interest, and we had many a sit down chat about things I knew, and the things that I made him think I knew. I am no hero, I am not willing to have my fingernails pulled out with wire pliers if I can help it. I detected early on in my life that I had an allergic reaction to physical pain, and since the old methods die hard, my captors were certain to apply the "old let's beat the shit out of him until he talks" approach. That was a bit of distress that I wanted to avoid, so I talked. Sure I talked, and talked and talked. I told some astounding lies, and some half truths, and I even brought back the stutter in the hopes they would get tired of listening to me try to talk. The stutter helped it kept the talking going on longer and longer each time that eventually the beatings stopped. Possibly because after each beating I made my stutter that much worse.

Eventually, my captors figured that I was a well that had run dry, and they were faced with the three major choices that happens in that situation. To kill me, to turn me, or to exchange me. I was vehemently opposed to the first, and therefore resolved to allow them to think they had accomplished the second in order for them to do the third. I was exchanged for some other poor sap from the other side who had the same shitty luck that I had, on a desolate road outside of some nameless city on the Hungarian/Austrian border. I was flown back to the mother country, taken into the office of some fellow I'd never met before, and asked "how compromised are you?, for as you know a compromised spy might as well be a dead spy."  I wasn't sure exactly how to answer that question, and it took a while for the powers that be to figure out that I wasn't entirely useless to them, but that I was going to have to take a rather long vacation somewhere quite for the world to forget about me for a while. The good news, if there was any good news, is that once that sorted out what I had told those Croatian bastards was more lie than truth, they gave me my second nickname. Which after consideration is probably why the the first nickname of "Billy No Mates" is still true. They dubbed me, with considerable pride and just a bit too much glee, "Billy Liar."

Monday, November 16, 2015

Forteresse autour de ton coeur

NB:  This post was "written" while slightly drunk on NyQuil, and under some under trying circumstances. I apologize for it in advance.

The sporadic information that the few returning scouts have given me led me to believe that the fortress I was delegated to take was a redoubt of some strength, and it would take more resources than I had to hand to reduce it in the time that I was allowed.  I am not a spectacular war leader. I am no Caesar, or Napoleon. I am a middling ranked, barely competent fool that received his position by attrition and a whole lot of luck, and a fair amount of misfortune.  The good news, if there is any good news, is that I am acutely aware of my limitations. Even better news is that if, for one second I get ideas above my station (i.e. thinking I am actually competent), my second in command, Wilson, is there to remind me that I am mortal.  Not only does he remind me of my mortality, he takes what I consider an excessive amount of glee in doing it, but that is another story for another day. That day will be the day I have to, with many regrets I am sure, put Wilson against a wall and remind him who is in charge of this outfit.

The answer to that particular question is me, I am in charge of this outfit, and for better or worse that's how it is going to be until the day Wilson figures out my plan for him, and puts a rattlesnake in my camp bed. Not that I haven't had worse bedtime playmates, it just they usually don't try to kill me right away like the snake would. Being in charge means responsibility and with responsibility comes authority, even if you have to take the authority. Because responsibility without authority is hamstrung from the start, like a cracker that has lost its cheese. It was now my assigned task to reduce this fortress.  A task that I foolishly volunteered for, in the vain hope, and with the wild idea that I would succeed in some brilliant fashion. It was, in hindsight, a very foolish idea to expect that a quick victory was to be won on this battlefield.  And make no mistake about it, this was a battlefield, this was war, this wasn't some Hatfield and Mccoy type of pillow fight that eventually just got out of hand. No, this was war from the start, and war to the finish. Simply put, there could be only one victor. A great, rousing speech to give to the "troops" right? Except that my "troops" weren't complete idiots when it came to odds. They are gamblers to a man (part of the reason I picked them), and they can do amazing maths in short order, and see the odds were not particularly good for our side.

Hope springs eternal, even forlorn hope, and it was up to me to break down those iron bars and stone walls that were keeping me from obtaining my goals. Goals are very important things to have, be it on the football pitch, or in real life. A goal is a wonderful thing, it is even more wonderful if it is scored/obtained in some majestic way (i.e. a 30 yard volley from your lummox of a central defender's weaker foot), but they count the same, no matter how they are met /scored (i.e. off the face on the bounce from your striker who may still be slightly drunk from the night before).  However, goals have to meet reality at some point, and sometimes it is not a pleasant introduction. As I stared up at those massive walls and those miles upon miles of barbed wire, all I could think was "fuck me how did that lot build THIS."  Followed quickly by my second thought (two thoughts in one day, a banner occasion) of "fuck me how do they expect me to take that down with THIS lot." Luckily, I was able to internalize both of those thoughts so as not to demoralize the lot that was expected to perform this miracle of modern warfare. Worn out from all this thinking, I went to bed, careful to check for any rattlesnakes before I turned out the lights. No luck, tonight I would be sleeping alone. It was something that I felt I was going to have to get accustomed to.

Luckily for me, in the group of reprobates that I had the pleasure to "command" was an engineer. I never asked why he had hitched his wagon to my star, because I don't like asking questions that I figure the answer will cause me distress. I don't think he was a star among the engineering group, and he was certainly no Vauban, but he was the best I had, and by that I mean he was the only person I had that could be reasonably expected to do the math of siege craft as opposed to the math of the ponies.  I found out, much later, that whilst he wasn't a superstar of the engineering world, he did "invent" an object that almost everyone uses in their day to day life. However, that is getting ahead of the story. After my rattle snake free sleep, and upon being roughly jostled awake by Wilson (does the man ever sleep?), I awoke and looked again upon the edifice that was to be either the pinnacle or the nadir of my career. Or maybe, if I was incredibly unlucky a little bit of both.

It was certainly big enough, if you are into obvious displays of power, wealth, and hubris. Tall too, who did they think was coming to call, an army of giants? Even on a glorious fall day without a cloud in the sky it still managed to sit there like a drunken man darkly brooding over some real or feigned insult on his corner bar stool muttering about his revenge. This place didn't need to mutter, it fairly shouted "come and get me boys, if you think you can!"  As I stood there just far enough away to take in all its majesty but still close enough to have my mood affected by its shadow, Wilson sauntered up to me, and after my startled response (the man is a master sneak), asked. "So, my captain, how do we take down that monster? Charm?"  "Well, Wilson we both know I'm only charming when I am drunk, and I don't think there is quite enough booze in the world for me to be that charming." I replied as I pointed to the massive bulk of the fortress looming menacingly in the distance.  "No, I suspect we will have to pour our one engineer out from what ever bottle he's climbed into, and try a more considered approach."

"But, first things first, let's show these bastards who we are. Corker, unfurl the standard, let those bastards know we are here." Corker, our slightly retarded standard bearer replied "Umm sir, who are we to these people?" It was a fair question, our company had a name for every occasion, multiple standards, some captured, some actually bestowed upon us, and others just simply made up on the fly. We  have had many names, and very few places or people actually knew our "real" name. "Oh, I don't know who haven't we been in a while?" Corker thought a moment, which for Corker takes some real effort, smiled and said "I've got just the one sir." "Alright son, well don't keep me or that lot in suspense any longer, unfurl it and let them know."  Corker, with the usual stupid grin plastered to his face picked his banner, and with all the ceremony he could muster strode forward to the safest distance possible and slammed in with authority into the ground. We all waited for the necessary gust of wind to catch the cloth, and let both our enemy and ourselves know who they were up against. As the wind caught it, the banner snapped out with at least an attempt at majesty and proclaimed us to be "Gjudarnsson's Friekorps".  "Oh, good, we haven't been that one in a good long while, and last time we were, we got our ass handed to us at Petersonburg" "Well it's too late now" I said, 'we might as we try to redeem poor Gjudarnnson and his Friekorps slightly tarnished reputation. Even though I knew that both were long since dead as dead could be, and their bones were mouldering on another continent. It would not have been my first choice of a banner to fight under, but what do you expect when you have an idiot for a standard bearer? That last bit may have been uttered aloud by mistake, for Corker gave me a hurt look as he took his place back in line.

"And speaking of idiots, what great fucking idiot put THAT bloody river THERE." I said with some resignation, for I knew that the ever faithful Wilson would have his usual laconic, but caustic reply. Sure as the rain comes on your birthday, he replied "God? Sir." "Wilson, someday remind me to put you up against a wall and shoot you." I rasped. "In the mean time would you be so good as to sober up our engineer, give him my compliments, and ask him if he's ever learned how to build a fucking bridge?" Wilson scuttled off to find, and hopefully, dry out our engineer while I stood there just out of range of this terrible, brooding fortress with an ever increasing sense of dread growing in the pit of my stomach. How, from where I started, did I ever end up here I asked myself. Having no one around to provide the refrain, I answered it myself "step by step." If ever there was a time to reflect upon my poor life choices, this was it, and I stood there wondering how things would have been if she had said yes.

However, she said no, and said it emphatically, and since she was just as educated as I was, she said it in the 3 languages we both spoke just to make sure that her intent was clear. It was clear, convincing, and utterly soul crushing. It was also, just a bit unexpected. I had thought, which shows you how great a thinker I am, that things were going as smooth as goose shit on glass. I was wrong, not for the first time about her, but for what would be the last. It was never the gentlest of relationships, she had a tongue that could cut glass, and I tried my best to reply in kind, but it was still the high light of my relationship career. Which is either a sad reflection upon my previous relationships, or a glowing recommendation of the challenge she presented me. Truth be told it was probably a little bit of both. It was not a pleasant ending to what had been a pleasant (most of the time) relationship, and when the gendarme became involved, I decided that anywhere but here was a place I needed to be. Being a strapping lad, I decided to learn the mercenary trade, and see if being killed from the front was as bad as what she had done to me from behind.

I packed most of my important belongings into one bag, and headed south the the bustling port city of Nova Lerma, to find the first ship out of the backwater in which I lived. It didn't take long for me to find a group of like minded people, and I quickly joined Claudell's Marines. A rag tag lot of complete reprobates as ever attempted to call themselves a mercenary company as ever existed on this or any continent in the world.  It was an eye opening experience, and also a tale for another day, I didn't last long with Claudell's Marines mainly because Claudell's Marines did last very long, being pretty much obliterated as an organization at the Battle of Hester's Reach.  That battle, which I was present for, taught me a lot of things, but it mostly taught me that losing really stunk, and being a prisoner of war was not exactly something I was cut out to be. It would be the first time, but not the last time, that my loyalty became a commodity available to the highest bidder.  Loyalty, I figured out very quickly, was like class. The more people pay you for it, the more they expect. That was a very important lesson to learn, and one that I tried to never forget during my travels.

Those travels, and the lessons I learned, most of them the hard way, had led me to this, standing outside the fortress of Tessenow, and pondering a change of career. Was it too late to take up architecture? Considering my lack of drawing skill, and my age, probably so, but it was at least worth a thought as I stood there wondering how I was going to reduce this fortress to the rubble that was my assigned task. The fellow that hired me, and the newly re-branded Gjudarnsson's Friekorps, was not especially forthcoming on the how or the why that task was to be completed.  Of course, that wasn't his job, his job was to provide the money, a lot of money, and  my job was to make sure the task he paid for was completed, and to try to stay alive during the process.

A few more seconds pondering the mysteries of the universe, I decided to go to bed, and hope that maybe Wilson had finally decided to provide me with a fatal bedtime playmate. No such luck, and I awoke the next morning with all the same problems that I had went to sleep to avoid the night before. Eventually, Wilson did turn up with our freshly sober engineer, a extremely thin fellow named  Jackson, who despite looking a bit worse for wear, looked as well as I had seen him look in a month. I turned to Wilson and asked "I see you found, and sobered up Jackson, and may I ask why he looks like the cat that ate the canary?"  Wilson who also had a smirk on his face, but that wasn't unusual so I didn't remark upon it replied "well sir, I think this might just make your entire day." "Wilson, it is barely 9 a.m. if you are going to make my day can you do it early, so at least I get the most benefit of it?" Wilson snickered, and said "I'll think it best to let Jackson explain sir. After we sobered him up, and that took a while, he finally put two and two together and sorted out where we are in the world." "Well that's a relief, I mean I'd hate to have our erstwhile engineer not know the name of the place he's expected to blow off the map."

"It's better than that sir," Wilson replied, "wait until you hear him out." "Well, Jackson, stop standing there like a piece of furniture, and spit it out man, what is the great news?"  Jackson, grinning from ear to ear said "well, sir. I am not sure if you know it or not but I'm from a small village about 5 miles from here." "No Jackson" I said "and since I'm not writing your obituary, yet, I don't especially care." Jackson winced at my rudeness, but then gathered himself and said, "well sir, being from around here, and an engineer, one of the first projects that my mentor, Mannheim, allowed me a great deal of input into was designing that." Saying this he pointed to the looming bulwark of Tessenow, and a silly grin split his slightly goofy face. "Therefore, I can get you in as easy as pie, sir."

"What makes you think you can do that Jackson, I am sure it is still as tough a nut to crack as it looks, no matter what half trained asshat designed it." Jackson took a deep breath and said "well, sir. The thing is, I was young, and my mentor was past it. He didn't care much about the design he was old, and knew it was probably his last real commission, so he let me have my head a bit." "Which turned out to be a great learning experience for me, but at the same time, I was young, and I made mistakes." "Mistakes that I seriously doubt that lot have been arsed to repair." I replied, "and what about that fucking river, Jackson?" "Did you make some great deal with Mother Nature that we are unaware of?" "Oh no sir, that river's just there to scare you, which seems to be working, so I guess my half-training paid off." "No the key to the whole fortress is that chasm there." he said pointing to a large chasm about two miles upstream. "That's the key to the whole place sir." Jackson said, and smiled deeply. "Today is the 8th, I can have in the citadel and in possession of the entire town by the 11th if you will let me sir."

I smiled the first real smile I had in weeks, and said "Jackson, if you were a woman, I'd kiss you on the mouth, even if you were as ugly a woman as you are a man." "Get to it man, Get to it!' I shouted, and off he bustled to hopefully make my fame and fortune.   TO BE CONTINUED.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sept Jours

Seven days is all she wrote, a kind of relationship eviction note. I looked on the paper for further instructions, but none were forthcoming. I carefully folded it, and placed it in my wallet just in case some brilliant inspiration or complete collapse of memory happened in the next seven days. I considered both to be very unlikely. Inspiration doesn't come at the wave of your outstretched hand like the garcon at the high dollar restaurant at which you can't afford to eat, nor does memory just erase itself like a blackboard after a particularly difficult lesson on Leibniz's calculus. Never understood the calculus, but I could do simple maths, and that simple calculation gave me the total of 168 hours. 168 hours to convince the woman I was in love with that I am the man she needs me to be, and her long search for a soul mate has come to an end.

Of course just in case the task itself wasn't difficult enough, she decided to leave town after writing the note. So much for my charming personality sweeping her off her feet in person. Climbing the tallest building in this burg, and pouring my heart out onto its rooftops sounds a lovely idea, but if she's not around to hear it, I would probably just be arrested for criminal trespass and disturbing the peace. I suppose the taller the mountain the more enjoyment one gets upon reaching the top, but I've never really been the outdoorsy type.  Therefore the task became how to convince her of all the benefits of being in a relationship with me, whilst she was over a thousand miles away from me. Flowers? Candy?  A Kate Spade purse? All of those things are both a) predictable, b) passe, c) need to be delivered, and in the case of the latter, bloody expensive, not that money was necessarily an object. I mean how much would you spend, if spending mattered, to convince the woman you love to make this decision? Also, addressing the card, always a tricky thing to do, would be difficult. Even if you got the "message" part dead on (unlikely), address unknown would make it very hard for the postman to perform his assigned duty. Rain, snow, and dark of night might not stop the mailman, but "she's about a thousand or so miles that way" might perturb him a bit.

 With the usual suspects in the art of wooing a woman being denied to me, and not being an expert in this field, I began to despair. How does one woo a woman that isn't around? How do you convince someone you're not a liar (which I am), a cheat (which I have been), and not going to get bored with her (which is impossible, she is too wildly, wonderfully unpredictable for boredom to ever be a problem)? To prove a negative is very, very hard, to prove three of them, why not ask me to change the colour of the moon? At least that, in theory could probably be done, though I would probably have to stage a hostile takeover of NASA, and then be sent to federal prison for a very, very long time, but at least the theory is sound, or as sound as any theory can be that involves taking over a major government agency for his personal benefit. These negatives, which I have, in the past, possessed in abundance, were going to be quite difficult to overcome. She had, rot her, some very valid concerns as to my veracity, loyalty, and ability to fight off ennui. All three had been, either singly, or in conjunction with each other, the death knell of various relationships of mine.

However, time is a wonderful thing, and as Da Vinci said experience is the queen of invention, and since I am fast approaching an age that I shudder to consider, and being a "man of the world" type, I figure that I do have a couple of things going for me. One hundred and sixty-eight hours might seem a long time, it really isn't. Take away the hours I will spend sleeping, and the hours I have to work, and the number of hours that I can devote to this thorny problem drops dramatically. The good news, if there is any good news, is that even while working I am allowed my own thoughts. They might be able to chain my body to a desk, but my thoughts can take flight whenever, and to where ever they choose.  That's the joy of an imagination, they (whomever they are) might have their knee in your balls, and their fist in your face, but they cannot stop the freedom of your thoughts.

I have been called (or rather accused) of being a large "R" romantic in the past, and she even referred to as a "persistent romantic asshole". Not exactly sure it was a compliment, but I chose to take it as a non-insult, beggars can't be choosers.  I determined that this romanticism was one of the few useful tools I possessed in the task before me, and while I might be an awkward sod in the wooing women sweepstakes, I know a lot of fellows who weren't. Granted most of them are as dead as dead can be, and none of their situations exactly matched mine, but again beggars can't be choosers. Armed with as much classical education as my student loans could buy, I began to search among the shadowy recesses of my memory for inspiration. It was in the theatre  of my imagination that I eventually found it. After all, being classically educated must have some benefit other than winning bar tabs at trivia contests right?

 My first stop along the inspiration highway was Peter Abelard and his great love Heloise, a well known love story from that cradle of romance, France. Parts of it are tragic, and parts of it are magic, but that is the nature of all enduring love stories. Regardless of all the tragic details the magic of their story is that a tradition still exists today were lovers or lovelorn singles leave notes on Peter and Heloise's shared grave in the tribute to the couple or the hope of finding true love. Of course that would require a trip to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, but that is not that difficult to do, and if it were to work it would be a trip worth taking.

Second is the Italian poet Petrarch and his love Laura. Another somewhat sad tale of unrequited love, but nevertheless a love that inspired some brilliant bloody poetry. Our lover boy was so smitten that he wrote one love poem a day for a year about his lady love. I have in the past written a blog post a day, and I can tell you it's a lot of work. They were simple, crude, and the opposite of poetry. To be so inspired by love to write lines such as this:

Oh blessed be the day, the month, the year,
the season and the time, the hour, the instant,
the gracious countryside, the place where I was
struck by those two lovely eyes that bound me;

and blessed be the first sweet agony
I felt when I found myself bound to Love,
the bow and all the arrows that have pierced me,
the wounds that reach the bottom of my heart.

And blessed be all of the poetry
I scattered, calling out my lady's name,
and all the sighs, and tears, and the desire;

blessed be all the paper upon which
I earn her fame, and every thought of mine,
only of her, and shared with no one else.

That, ladies and gentlemen is talent. It is talent, inspired by love and I couldn't come close to expressing that type of feeling to my lady friend even if I were to live to be a thousand years old. Again, as with Peter and Heloise, Petrarch's love story didn't end with the sun shining and the birds singing, but that does not diminish the talent or the love. I did say that the situations of all my inspirations were different than mine. I've no wish to be castrated like Abelard, nor to have my love be unrequited like Petrarch. I am merely using them, and their words/actions to attempt to woo a woman. A woman who inspires me just as much as Heloise did Abelard, and just as much Laura did Petrarch. They just have much more talent than I do with the written word.

Stage three on my trip through the land of the inspired is the Immortal Bard himself, William Shakespeare. He could provide me reams and reams of words with which to convince my lady of my love, but I chose to use the somewhat trite Romeo and Juliet, but not in the way most people would. I chose to quote Friar Laurence's speech to Romeo about his lady love prior to Juliet, the fair Rosaline. 

Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear,

So soon forsaken? Young men’s love then lies

Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.

Jesu Maria, what a deal of brine

Hath washed thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline!

How much salt water thrown away in waste

To season love that of it doth not taste!

The sun not yet thy sighs from heaven clears,

Thy old groans ring yet in my ancient ears.

Lo, here upon thy cheek the stain doth sit

Of an old tear that is not washed off yet.

If e'er thou wast thyself and these woes thine,

Thou and these woes were all for Rosaline.

And art thou changed? Pronounce this sentence then:

Women may fall when there’s no strength in men.
Rightly calling Romeo to carpet for his previous mooning about over the fair Rosaline, and his subsequent shift to Juliet, our good priest questions how love could be so inconstant. Rightfully so, our Romeo is only a 16 year old boy. The love story that we all like to think of as a prime example of true love is merely an infatuation between two love struck teenagers. Certainly there are some wonderful lines in the play, and Mercuito's Queen Mab speech is one of the greatest speeches of all time, but let's not forget we are talking about the Middle Ages' version of Beverly Hills 90210.  

I have long since left my teenage years and my teenage angst behind. I am no longer the inconstant lover that is Romeo. There are no fair Rosaline's waiting off stage for me anymore, and that is the way I prefer it. The woman I have seven days to woo is my fair Juliet (though the bloom of teenage youth has also left her cheeks), and to answer Friar Laurence's query as to where the strength in men, it is right here. In these words that I am spilling out on to this (e) paper, explaining my desire to be the man she needs me to be. I have screwed my courage up to the sticking point (to again quote the Bard), and have decided to make the effort necessary.
Next we have another Englander, one Robert Herrick. M. Herrick was a life long bachelor, and his muse was named Julia. It appears that Julia is not one woman, but more of a symbol of love. Again not a perfect match with my situation, for I have the one woman in mind, and what she is a symbol for is not in doubt. But, Herrick could write lines like this about "Julia's" voice.

 So smooth, so sweet, so silv'ry is thy voice
As, could they hear, the damn'd would make no noise,
But listen to thee, walking in thy chamber,
Melting melodious words to lutes of amber. 
He wrote a string of poems addressed to his Julia, and each are quite breathtaking. Maybe for Herrick the ideal of Julia was what he needed an ideal woman to serve as his muse. Maybe there was a real life Julia, and my limited scholarship has yet to unearth her. It matters not, to be able to write those types of poems is again talent incarnate. I can only sit, admire, applaud, and steal his words to use upon my own Julia who is not an ideal, but who is all too real.

There are other points of inspiration too numerous to list, or this post would turn into an epic. Byron, Keats, Coleridge, Krudy, Roth, Zweig, and others have given me the framework for my large "R" romanticism. Each have the talent I wished I possessed in the art of stringing together words into phrases that take the breath away from the plodders of the written word such as myself. The last source of inspiration that I will quote is a fellow by the name of Tyler Farr, who wrote a song titled "A Guy Walks into a Bar".  I have walked into several bars in my life, and though it doesn't exactly happen this way, there was that one time.

A guy walks into a bar, orders a drink
Sees a girl that catches his eye
Asks her if she wants another
They fall for each other and end up lovers
They laugh, cry, hold on tight, make it work for a little while
Then one night her taillights fade out into the dark
And a guy walks into a bar
I'd laugh too if my heart would let me
Keeping it light will probably help to get me over you
I'm walking, talking, drinking proof
A cliché in a corner booth
Ain't nothing new

Again not the happiest of endings, but that minor detail need not detain us for very long. The feeling is still the same. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world, she walked into mine. I haven't exactly been the same since. I have yet to see her taillights fade out into the dark in the terminal way that M. Farr's character does, and I hope I never do.  I have been that cliche in the corner of the bar, (I don't sit in booths), and I know how it feels, and I know that drinking isn't going to solve, replace, or prove anything. There is no true answer in the bottom of a bottle, I know, I've looked. Truth be told, if in these seven days I don't step foot in a bar, and it is unlikely I will, I won't miss it one bit. She is worth giving up the bar scene for, she is worth giving up much more than that. The trick is, and it is a hard trick is making her believe I'm willing to do it.

And so, all these words that I've stolen from all those talents fellows using their wits and thoughts to convince the love of their respective lives that she is, in fact, the love of their life, are just that words. Words that are pretty, words that are sad, words that make people happy, words that make people mad. Words are but one (albeit important) part of the equation. "They" say (whoever they are) that actions speak louder than words. I don't know if that's true or not. Perhaps actions coupled with words are the way to go. To promise to do something is easy, a mere bagatelle, we all make promises some of them we even plan to keep. To follow that promise with the action it implies is what separates the wheat from the chaff. Any damn fool can say he will be there, that he will be there for the woman they love, that they will be the man she needs him to be, but it takes a special type of fool to follow those words by actually doing it. And I'd rather love and be loved for the fool that I am, than to not take this chance. This once in a lifetime woman deserves no less. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

William Sans-Amis Part II

University is a time to explore things, your mind, other students bodies, the limits of your ability to consume alcohol and still live, and numerous other things. You may, if you are so inclined, actually crack open a book, apply yourself to your chosen field, and come out of the experience with a fine education. That is if you apply yourself. William was the type to apply himself, and the benefits of his classical education, pursued with some vigor were soon to become apparent to a lot of people.  I suppose his lack of social graces brought on by the household in which he was raised, and the stutter combined to focus William on the important things about getting an education Or maybe, more likely, he just was a shade bit smarter than the rest of us, and while we were belting out the school's fight song, and stealing the rival university's mascot, he was reading and writing, writing and reading. Good on him.

He wasn't all a dull boy, and I did manage to get him out on the town a few times, when he could be torn away from his books and his pen. To both of our surprise, we found out that after a few pints his stutter got significantly better. It was still noticeable, but it became much less pronounced. At first we chalked it up to me being in my cups so badly that I wouldn't have noticed an elephant sitting on the bar stool next to me, much less his stutter, or lack thereof. However, a couple of more drinking sessions, in which we experimented with him talking to sober people, such as the barmaid, led us to determine that our first conclusion was true. Drunk William's stutter was much hardly to detect even if you were (sadly) sober. It was probably the most exciting, and tragic discovery William could have made. Beer helped him loosen the shackles of all the inhibitors, (like it does for all of us), in his life, and gave him the ability to express himself verbally for what was probably the first time, at least to other people. Granted beer has that affect upon a lot of us, but most of us weren't born with, or raised with the external inhibitors that William was, and beer became almost a curative for him.

To his credit, he was mostly moderate in his drinking, even after discovering that it helped his stammer. He told me once that even though it was liberating to be able to speak more clearly, the problem was "o-o-other ... p.p.people j.just aren't a l-lot of f-f-fun to t-talk to." I could have told him that and saved him several days of hangover, but on the whole I think finding out booze helped was a good thing for him. If I had possessed his brains and his way with words, and could talk to people as well as he could drunk, well I might have never sobered up, but William, drunk or sober, had a plan. Or at least, I found out later, after most of it was said and done that he had a plan. William was from the old school that believed telling someone your plan was a sure fire way to scupper it, therefore, he kept his plan to himself until it was about seventy five percent implemented.

The first part of William's plan was quite simply revenge. A childhood of being verbally abused by his class mates had given William reams of material, and an active imagination coupled with creative talent provided him an outlet to revenge himself upon those abusers.  William begin writing for the school paper, and a first it was your usual school paper fare, but his talent was obvious, and he eventually convinced the editor to begin to allow him to write short stories. It was in these short stories that William exacted his revenge. Characters, under different names, shared a more than passing resemblance  to school mates of his. These characters did not come off at all well in William's stories. He was a clever man, and clever enough to obfuscate the people he was skewering just enough to have plausible deniability.  I knew, most of the time, whom he was referring to, and a couple of times had to ask him if one of his less odious characters was a literary version of myself. He shook his head in denial, but the smirk on his face raised some doubts.

True be told, I probably deserved a skewering about as much as the rest of our mates, but that didn't mean I had to tell William that, though I suspect he knew. He was fond of saying that a good story, with a good character was one that could have each different reader pause and wonder if perhaps the story was about them. At least the readers that knew him. "I-If they-y can s-s-see them-m-mselves in my s-s-stories, then m-m-maybe they will w-w-want to r-r-read more of m-m-my s-s-stuff." he would say, and then refuse to identify anyone of his characters for certain. It was wildly frustrating at times, but overall it worked like a charm. A lot of people would read his stuff, and inquire as to whom he was referring to in the story. He would smile enigmatically, and say " I d-d-do have a-an imagination, y-y-y know." I did know he had an imagination, but I also knew that he was drawing on life experiences that he had lived through, and was sticking little needles into people who had treated him badly as a child.

Upon his graduation from university, William was, not surprisingly, offered immediate employment. His writing skills had not gone unnoticed and two provincial newspapers both wanted him to join their staff. At first, he was quite chuffed, the job market being what it was any employment offer was a good employment offer. To get two of them so suddenly was a clear indication of his talent. Though he, as humble as usual, just said "T-T_They m-m-must b-b-be desperate t-t-to f-f-fill blank pages."  Not being in the newspaper business, I didn't know if it was talent or desperation that got William his job offers, but I was eager to see which paper he would chose. His annual income that had been his parent's true legacy was nearly exhausted (university is not cheap), and William needed a job just like the rest of us.

The two papers (The Voice and The Eagle) weren't exactly The Times, but for a fellow starting out they offered a chance to express himself, and to keep the wolves from the door. The problem is that William had larger ambitions, and did not care for either offer. "T-T-There's n-n-nothing between t-t-them, they a-a-are too s-similar to r-r-really choose between, a-a-and t-t-they are i-in this b-b-backwater." Or at least that what he told me, as he was pondering which one, if either, paper to choose. The problem was,for William, quite simple he realized that everyone starts at the bottom, unless their uncle owns the place. And the bottom was not a place that William thought was for him.  Of course he was right, but that didn't mean that he was going to be the headline foreign correspondent for the leading paper of the capital on his first day. He wasn't exactly a step skipper, but William had a great deal of talent, and didn't mind showing it. He never really grasped the idea that talent is great, but you still have to "play the game." 

William was not adept at "playing the game" his isolated childhood had not prepared him for the office politics of a major (for the provinces) newspaper, and he didn't want any part of it. He was filled with horror of the idea of an office environment, seeing it as just a grown up version of grade school were people are just cruel to each other in more adult ways. He was not enthralled with the idea of writing about "ladies socials, and the local football club's poor form" for a few years, and moving up the editorial ladder in the conventional way. That's why he made the decision he made.

That decision was to say no to both of them, and cash in his annual earning to "see the world" and to attempt to live by his pen. It was a bold decision, and I must confess I was a be jealous that he had the ability and the balls to make it. That was around 4 years ago, and I haven't see William since. I have only recently heard that he may (or may not) be in a Turkish prison, and that we "may not be seeing him for a while, if ever again". That is why I felt compelled, and free to write the sad tale of Billy No-Mates. I hope for a good result for William, and as one of his few "mates" hope to someday hear that he is out of the Turkish prison (if that is, in fact, where he is), but for now not all stories have a happy ending, even Billy No-Mates would have told you that.


Friday, August 28, 2015

William sans-amis Part I

This is the story of William. Actually, it is only part of William's story, the parts that he told me over a few painstakingly lengthy pints, and the parts I actually saw or put together from other people who did. No story such as this can be complete unless written by the fellow that lived it, and even then there are going to be gaps. William did not want to write this story, and might be a bit put out if he where to find out I have written it. Since that is very unlikely, considering his current location, I am going to write it the best way I can, it will still be poorly, but I owe it to William to tell his tale.

William did not know his parents, some sort of 'horrible accident' claimed both of their lives when William was only three years old. He always said that those particular words 'horrible accident' were used when describing his parents deaths, and then no further details were forthcoming. I don't think William ever got around to investigating what that 'horrible accident' was. I don't know if he just did not care, or was just afraid of what he would find, but I looked into it for him afterwards. The term accident was a misnomer, or perhaps it was just William's remaining relatives way of describing the unpleasant truth as to the fate of his parents, hoping that those two awful words would preclude any further conversation about the subject. It did for William, and it did for me for quite a while, now that everyone involved is beyond the pale, I can relate that the 'horrible accident' that made William an orphan was that his father murdered his mother, and then committed suicide. The reasons behind, and the details of that tragedy need not detain us here. It is just a bit of background on William that may or may not have altered the course of his entire life. I will leave that to the fellows with letters behind their names to figure out, I was just a witness to William's life, and we all need witnesses to our lives whether we realize it our not.

After the 'horrible accident' William was shunted off to live with an uncle, a cold and distant man who took little joy in life, and gave even less. His wife, William's aunt, is best described as a spinster that got lucky. She married late in life, there was some hint that William's uncle had debts that needed paying, and William's aunt had some small fortune. If she had a fortune, and he had debts, then I guess it wasn't exactly a love match, and anyone going to their home, as I did on several occasions, would be struck by the emotional distance between them.  William's uncle worked at some factory, I never really cared enough about the man to find out which one, went to his local for a few pints with his mates, came home and read the paper in his chair, and gave not one whit about either William or his aunt except that try to remain as quite as possible during their shared waking hours. William's aunt, saved at the last moment from spinsterhood was merely content to be a house wife, nothing more, nothing less. She was content with cooking, cleaning, and making the dinners that William, his uncle and his aunt ate in relative silence. She looked upon William as just another chore, like a sink full of dirty dishes that weren't going to wash themselves, or the dusting which she did not care for at all. 

There was never any hint of children of their own being brought into this loveless marriage, and when William was presented to them, all his uncle said was "Right, you must be H_____'s boy, terrible that."  William was raised to be neither seen nor heard, which was probably why the thing that most affected his life came about. William, when he got around to learning how to talk, did so with an awful stutter. It was to become his defining characteristic, and would eventually led to him being dubbed by the rest of his classmates "Billy No-Mates."  Children around the world are cruel, whether they are in the schoolyard playing cricket, baseball, lacrosse, or football, and our lot was no exception. Uniformity is king with children, and if you are different in any way, fatter, skinner, have to wear thick glasses, walk with a limp, or stutter, you will be singled out and ganged up on by the rest of us. It is a great way to hide our own insecurities and flaws by mercilessly pointing out the real or perceived flaws of others, no matter that those flaws are what makes the human race so wonderfully diverse. How dull would life be if we were all flawless physical specimens with pretty blond hair and lovely cornflower blue eyes, and straight teeth?

 Don't mistake me, William was not abused or anything quite so dramatic, he was just raised by two people in a loveless marriage in a loveless household.  His childhood was not exactly Oliver Twist, but not quite Pollyanna either., It was, like most of ours somewhere in between. Not being in love with each other made his aunt and uncle almost physically incapable of expressing love for anyone else. It was a sad fate, and to his credit, William accepted it with as much grace as possible. Maybe things would have been different for him if his parents had lived, then again maybe not. The two most dangerous words in the English language are "What if?", and William's tale, just like many of ours, possessed numerous "what ifs".  When his stutter first manifested itself, his adopted parents reaction was "pity, that". A reaction similar to and about as heartfelt as their reaction to William's parents deaths. The uncle was probably, though he'd never admit it, pleased at least with that horrid stutter William would have no trouble with the "not being heard" part of his uncle's rules.

The house William and his adopted parents lived in was not big, and it was rather isolated from the rest of the community. Therefore, William was raised mostly alone. The uncle wasn't there, and when he was could not really be bothered to show any interest in teaching William the things a 'normal' boy child learns from his male 'role-model'.  Some of us have an almost innate fear of being alone, we have abandonment issues that probably need to be worked out on a professional's couch (the type with letters behind their name, not the type you pay for 'going around the world'). One would have thought that William would, when he was faced with the enforced social circumstances of public schooling, seek some relief for the loneliness he suffered through whilst at home. Not so, he was very much a solitary child, the stutter was probably the main cause, but I like to think that even if he had the flawless diction of a Parisian songbird, William would have been just as much as loner.

In full disclosure, lest you think this is some buddy tale told by a Dr. Watson-like character about his best mate Sherlock Holmes, I was just as brutal to William in the school yard as the rest of our class. Picking on the different, not siding with them, is what wins you friends in the tyranny of the school yard, and I was not a strong willed enough child to swim against that particular stream. It is to my shame that I recount this but, while I was not in the front rank of teasing Billy No-Mates, I certainly had an nearly unobstructed view of it while it happened, and did my fair share. We didn't know it at the time, and most of us would not have cared if we did, but Billy No-Mates was hiding an absolute cracker of a mind behind that funny, awful stutter that we couldn't stop laughing about long enough to give him a chance to be our friend, and if we had known what he was going to do with that lovely imagination, we might have been just a shade nicer to him.

Of course that is one of the many problems of our schooling system, unless you're some toff that gets sent to the right type of private school to help prepare you for a career in the foreign service, your classmates are your classmates from beginning to end. If you stick it out, don't move, or get sent to juvenile, then the lot you came through the front door with the first time, will be in the main the same lot you leave with X amount of years later.  It has the potential to be a blessing or a curse brought on by three accidents of birth, timing, location, and wealth (or lack thereof). The down side for William was the group that teased him from the start, except for a few of us that sort of grew out it, were the same group that was still teasing him on graduation day. Certainly we were surprised when he won top honours, but were bitterly disappointed when he declined to give the traditional speech at our graduation ceremony. I suppose we wanted one last chance to chant "Billy No-Mates" for all the school to hear. Good on him that he denied us that opportunity. I had long since outgrown my desire to fit it, and had actually talked with William on several occasions. His stutter was much less pronounced in one on one situations. Being a bit of an outsider, but not quite as far out as William was we did eventually become what would be called friends. I am almost sure that title, in relation to William, was one that was bestowed on a very, very limited number of people. In the intervening years, I have become quite proud to have that distinction given to me.

Some government agency had, at the time of his parent's "horrible accident" settled upon William a type of annual income. I was never sure what it was about, or even how much it was. I suppose it made his uncle's decision to take him in easier to make. Raise the kid, and maybe make a little money to boot? That was probably an attractive proposition to the uncle, and William wasn't really in a position to pick and choose where he went. I do know, or rather found out later that the uncle wasn't quite the bastard he appeared to be, and the money that set aside for William was actually given to him, it was what allowed him to go to university, that and I suspect, some scholarships that our headmaster helped him obtain. He, at least, could see beyond the stuttering child, and see the questing mind that William possessed.  A few of us attended the same university as William, living in the provinces has a tendency to limit one's choice in these matters, and it was there that I truly got to know him. Or, rather, I got to know as much of him as he would let me, after all those years of teasing and abuse, William wasn't about to open up and become all emotional after a few speech therapy classes had helped his stutter significantly.

It was not a great shock to me to discover William was pursuing a major in Literature/Creative Writing after all, a stutter does not show up on the page now does it? I was at university struggling with inorganic chemistry when I first started to get to know him, and we soon became fairly fast friends. It was here that I found out most, but not all, of the facts that I have related so far. I was struck by how seemingly well adjusted, using the term broadly, that William was considering the sad circumstances of his childhood. When I broached the subject he would just shrug, point to the wall of books cluttering up his flat, and say "w.w.w. well mo. most offf my r.r.real friends a-a-a-are d-d-dead." Meaning the authors that he had read, and used to escape the teasing that was his day to day misery. I still blush with shame when I recall my part in the torture of "Billy No-Mates." One of the wonderful things about William was that when I did awkwardly try to apologize for my role in his childhood misery. He waved it away saying " d-d-don't w-w-w-worry abbout it, w-w-we were c-c-children, and k-k-kids are c-c-c-cruel." It was a gracious reply, and it cemented our budding friendship. I vowed then, that while I still might gently tease him about his stutter (with his acquiescence) no one else ever would, at least while I was around.

Understanding that the mind can only process what the ass can endure, I have decided rather that short change William's story, to break it up into parts. This is the first part, part two is shortly forthcoming. I hope you enjoy it dear readers.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Unterseeboot Frankenstein

"You need to be loved" she said with conviction, she was like that, a strong women (not in the circus woman type of strong but strong willed) which was also part of the problem she also said "that I need a weak woman." She seemed to have definite opinions concerning me, and they seemed to be less than positive. The irony, in the American sense of the word, was that the "you need to be loved statement was made moments after her telling me that she "no longer loved me." Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway this was quite distressing, both the no longer being loved and her opinion about my needed to be loved. I have been accused, I prefer to think of it as an accusation, of being a romantic by numerous people before, and I always replied that when my name is mentioned in the same sentence of Byron, Coleridge, Shelly and Keats, then I would own that title. That has yet to happen, and I fear it will never happen, at least while I am still wasting my breath on this planet.

Maybe, just maybe, she and the others offering this opinion are correct. Maybe a part of me is a romantic in search of his muse. I have had muses before, and most of them ended in tears, as these things are wont to do, and each time a little of the romantic in me died. Therefore, I became a little bit like Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, a dual person. After the last Titanic like disaster (nearly three years ago), I shut down the emotional side of myself (the monster). Frankenstein is the scientist the rational thinking, logical side that merely wants to see if creating life is possible. He also possess a god complex, but that isn't important to this particular story.  He creates his monster, only called such  because of his appearance, I guess being sewn together from the human scrap heap makes you less easy on the eyes.

Creating that monster took massive amounts of energy of various types, and once created the monster could not be controlled. That was where the good Doctor failed, in attempting to control what was in effect his other half. The monster, despite his appearance, is not evil or bad. He is, in fact, quite gentle and just has a bit of a problem being accepted which leads to the fatal misunderstanding that makes the tale the tragedy that it is.  The monster part of me, i.e. the romantic/needed to be loved also took a lot of energy of various types to create. A lightning storm was not necessary, and I had only one brain available my own, which may be part of the problem. I am only one man, whereas Frankenstein had his monster to create his emotional doppelganger, I am stuck in the one body that I have possessed since the wolf that raised me brought me into the world in the more conventional manner.

Recently the above mentioned strong-willed woman helped to bring the emotional/romantic/monster part of me 'back to life' as it were, and it also took a lot of energy, both physical and mental. It wasn't exactly an "It's alive!!!" type of moment but it was fairly close. Parts of me that the logical/doctor/asshole side of me swore were dead and buried experienced a revival, and were quite happy to be back in the game. That monster part of me wasn't nearly the gentle giant that the real monster was, but he was still a lot more of a sympathetic character than the other side of me. Once alive the monster side of me took as much advantage of his time as he could, even he knew somewhere back in the dark recesses of his underused mind that his time was probably going to be very limited.

He didn't ransack any villages, nor was he blamed for the death of any small children, but he still managed to make enemies. I understand this analogy isn't perfect, few are. That the real Frankenstein's monster did some horrid thing that were quite obviously criminal. The argument there is that he was driven to them by the rejection, based upon his looks, by his fellow man, those details need not detain us here. Sometimes being happy is an affront to Mother Nature (the bitch) and/or the gods, and they conspire to ruin that happiness in a fit of fickleness that boggles us mere mortals minds. The monster side of me probably created, or was at least present for most of his own problems. Again not being a fictional story, I only have the one body/mind, and even when he is running rampart, the monster doesn't exactly have full control over the train wreck that is me. We are both manning the controls the monster and the doctor, and sometimes we have very divergent opinions about where the ship of our state should sail.

To mix an analogy, and to help make the title of this post make at least some sense, we are like a U-Boat with two captains. Any sailor worth his salt, will tell you that any boat U or otherwise can only have one captain. Captains are gods on the quarterdeck, or on the con, and just like most religions these days, there can be only one god. There is not room for dissent, and little or no room for discussion. The captain's word is law, and that is just the way things are, accept it or get the fuck off the boat. Hope you enjoy your swim home.  These two captains are of two minds, does one hunt in a wolf pack, and take advantage of the safety in numbers theory, or does one go it alone, forever a lone wolf on the fringes of society, and sailing very close to the wind? It is a conflict that can only end badly, and it has on more than one occasion.

The crux of the problem is that once created, once the switches have been flipped to bring the emotional side of me (back) into existence, it become increasingly harder to flip those switches back and bring the logical side alive again. This dichotomy is not a pleasant experience either for me, or I suspect, for the few people unlucky enough to see the struggle. It is brutal, it is not pleasant, and people, besides myself get hurt. That crime for which both sides of me should be brought to book for, is the most hideous part of this battle. Hurting one, or both parts of the house divided that I've become is fair play, but other, mostly innocent, bystanders should not have to suffer because of my permanent state of idiocy.

Frankenstein's end comes,fittingly enough, at the North Pole. He has chased his creation to the absolute ends of the Earth, and there he dies of exposure. His monster finally comes to some sort of self-actualization, maroons himself on the ice floe that is the doctor's funeral pyre. It is a good death, it is our kind of death, and it is, for the doctor and the monster at their point in their shared story the only solution left. Just like a U-Boat captained by two diverse personalities is bound to be sunk by the depth charges of the destroyer above, Frankenstein and his monster sink into the cold, dark water. And as that cold water engulfs them, as the dark ocean floor that is to be their tomb comes into focus below those waves, they come to the same realization that struck me at the end of the above conversation, they have lost the woman they loved.  

Monday, July 27, 2015


"Write something about me" she said earnestly. She was an earnest type of girl, or I probably wouldn't have shown her this blog in the first place, it wasn't my fault that she liked to read poorly written stuff that try to pass as intelligent.  "It's not really as easy as that, I am not talented enough to write on demand. I am not a radio station that takes requests, and can play them within the hour." Which is only sort of true, I do take requests, but it generally takes me a lot longer than an hour to fulfill them. It takes some thought, and if you know me, you know thoughts are sometimes thin on the ground in my world.  She also decided that the request wasn't difficult enough and added the further restriction "that no one can know it's about me, but you and me." That really helped to narrow the focus, and made it a lot harder to write, which is why it's nearly a month later, and the following is the best I can do, and it will probably not be good enough, either for her or for me.

Some women swan, some trundle, and some when they walk, merely tread upon the ground. Not her, she came into my life, and my bar like a hurricane blowing through a coastal city in the height of thee stormy season. It was a stunning entrance, and myself, and the other local swill drinkers were all duly impressed enough to look up from our pints, and pause in whatever lies we were telling each other to mark her arrival. I had the advantage over my fellow wrecks, because I knew, that despite me not believing she'd show up, she was there to see my dumb ass. Which was about the only advantage I ever had in relation to her. It didn't last, the advantage, just like that coastal city beset by the hurricane, I was blown away. After all, I am not much to look at, and I am probably even less fun to talk to, and I figured that this was going to be a quick "one drink and never talk to me again" type of "date". I've had all too many of those in my career as a loser.

Writing something intentionally vague is really not that difficult, it merely requires careful consideration, and a general willingness to bend the truth a bit. Facts must be carefully inter spaced with the obfuscations that are required to not give the game away to everyone. And yet you have to be careful, you can't even say "she was tall with legs like a new born colt" without giving part of the game away, after all how many truly leggy women do you know? You have to get creative in the description, and use things that only she knows are about her, but still may open you to the charge of well it could be about "X" too couldn't it. The answer to that is the paradox that started this post to begin with, how to write something for one person, where other people don't know it is about that person, but that other people can't see themselves in the details as well. You have to get creative.

 Creativity is a very tricky thing, it is very much like the most delicate of flowers it can wither and die in an instant of inattention. It has to be nurtured, and yet still allowed room to breath if it is going to bloom. Even when carefully tended, and blooming it could still end up like the delicate corpse flower which smells of rotted meat when it blooms. It can be stifled as well, like a child that cries too often, and is smothered to death by some desperate mother than doesn't want the North Koreans to find them.  The artistic side of one's nature doesn't pay the bills, and must give way to the practical side, the side that goes to work, pays the bills, and provides the necessary steel in our collective spine. One of these days practical me is probably going to have to kill artistic me. It will be, when it happens, a mercy killing.

Hurricanes, to return to our subject, are formed in areas of extreme low pressure. Those two words in that combination would not ever be used to describe her. She was high maintenance, high strung, and high class. Nothing low about her, except maybe a few of her opinions about certain people in the world. Luckily for me, at least at the time, her opinion of me had not sunk to the current level at which it currently resides. That first date did not go as poorly as I had expected, in fact it went as well as possible. It was like my fairy godmother, that inattentive bitch, was finally paying some attention to my life, and giving me what she considered a dream match.  Perhaps, when the lazy bitch that is my fairy godmother sleeps, she has different dreams than I do.  Hurricanes operate on something called a Carnot heat engine, a complicated (too complicated for me) system that provides them their main energy source. I was never able to fully ascertain her main energy source, she was a driven, uber bitch about a lot of things, and the water around her would literally evaporate from the heat, then she would just as quickly cool down, and be an ice princess that would freeze the blood in the stoutest of men's veins. Thus, in a idealized nutshell, is a Carnot heat engine explained.

The key part to a hurricane is the eye, the center of the storm where it is relatively calm. Of course that is a relative term, and the eye still has it's dangers. Sure it's calm, but the way(s) out, if they exist at all are full of peril and storms. It behooves you, if you can, to stay as close to the eye for as long as possible. After all, no one wants to be flattened like the unsuspecting coastal city that one is beginning to feel like. Hurricanes cause damage, generally they don't discriminate they just merely flatten anything that happens to be in their path. And I had willing placed myself in her path, it was a decision that in theory I should have regretted, but in retrospect would probably make again if I had the chance. 

In the late 60's and early 70's some idiot government employee came up with the not so brilliant idea of trying to artificially dissipate hurricanes by seeding them with silver iodine. It didn't work, in fact it was a fairly spectacular failure. When her Carnot heat engine got truly going I would attempt a similar idea but with alcohol which also usually wound up in a spectacular failure. It was an idea that I quickly abandoned best not to feed the beast anymore than necessary, just batten down the hatches, hope it blows over quickly, hope you survive, and pray that the pieces left to pick up are enough to rebuild the relationship you so painstaking put together. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Double Dip Thursdays

She swanned into my life on a Thursday. Thursday is my favorite day. I don't tell the other days that because I don't want them to be any badder than they already are, but Thursdays are my favorite. Perhaps, it is just an off shoot of my Viking lineage, it is Thor's day after all, or maybe I just like the drink or drown specials I partake of, but Thursday are the best. Sure lazy Sundays are fun, but for my money it is Thursday that is the best. Like the cute, but not too cute younger sister of the hot girl you dated in law school, Thursdays takes time to mature, but boy when it does it is worth the wait.

This particular Thursday was waning when she swanned into my local. It was closer to Friday than I had intended out staying out, but some boon companions of mine had convinced me to have 'just one more pint' before staggering off to our respective (empty) beds. That one pint was to prove a lot hard to finish that I thought.  It wasn't like I noticed her when she walked in, no great light was following her around, and she didn't walk in on moonbeams. No theme music announced her arrival, nor did time seem to stand still. She just walked in, sat herself at the bar about 5 feet away from me, and ordered a drink. The rest is hazy history, and I will struggle with some of the details in the re-telling.

My boon companions decided to abandon me about the time that I actually noticed her, if I were a wise man, which I have never been accused of being, I would have trundled my happy ass home to snore away the few waning moments of a happy Thursday. However, being a damn fool, and a little drunk to boot, I decided to engage her in what passes for conversation.  It went exceedingly well at first, it seems when I am a bit in my cups I can become quite the charmer. I don't believe this to be true, but by the time I hear these stories I have sobered up, and have reverted back to my misanthropic ways. She told me her name, which I do remember, but can not with iron clad certainty prove it was her real one, and we begin the age of dance of the 'chat up.' Charming me must have paid his dues to the gods of luck, because she decided that once the local closed, we needed to go to another bar, and continue this little dance.  Being, by this time, drunk as a lord, I agreed.  It was now deep into Friday, that day of regret that I loathe more than most, and I figured I was in for a penny why not go in for a pound? 

The details of what happened at the second bar are a mystery to me, and what I said, or did to convince this woman to come back to my house are lost to me. I remember bit and pieces, but none of them add up to the actual result that happened. I suspect it was something important, but I just simply can't remember. She did come back to my bed, and kept it from being empty that night, and part of the next day. We did the usual things men and women who are 'getting to know each other' do, and all in all Fridays suddenly didn't seem so bad.  I remember details of our talk, details now which make the end of this story more obvious, but which at the time did not stop my wretched behaviour.

It was made apparent to me that she belonged to another, and had for some time. Why she was populating my bed was and still is a bit of a mystery, but at the time I didn't ask too many questions. I never claimed that my moral compass was tuned to due North.  We did exchange phone numbers, and some vague promises of future meetings, but I figured that I had just partaken in a completely unplanned, absolutely immoral, "one night stand." Not exactly my proudest moment, but I am, for the most part, an utter bastard. Being convinced that I am nothing special helps me rationalize my actions. After all, I am not James Bond, and if a woman will come home with me, then I figure it was just something she wanted to do, and she wasn't blessed with the highest of standards. Not an insult to her or her behaviour, we all have needs, and I was there to meet hers, but I am not so vain as to think songs are written about me.

Not surprising to the cynic in me, but quite a blow to the romantic in me, I did not hear from her for about four days. I tried to start a conversation with her to no avail, and figured that I was a fellow traveler in her life, and that we had went our different ways. She was like a ship that had slipped it moorings and had drifted away from me on the morning tide as I stood there on the quay waving a silent and forlorn goodbye. Tides are funny things and do funny things to us humans, some pull us apart, and some bring us together. I am no tidal expert, and  I figured this high tide had passed, and I would be left with nothing but fond (thought slightly hazy) memories.

I was again reminded of the fickle nature of fate when, to my surprise, I received a communication from her expressing interest in talking to me more. I was a little taken aback, but not unhappy with the idea, and we did 'get to know each other' a bit more in the non-biblical sense. It seemed the other and her were not the greatest of places (shockingly enough), and perhaps things between us had room for growth.  Growth is a very tricky thing, and sometimes what is planted is not always what blooms, and things end in tears, as these things are wont to do. Tears were never really my strong suit, but endings, well endings I can do like a champ.

However, before the ending, there was the double dip. Again, to my surprise, as I was once again out celebrating the existence of Thursday, I received a message from her asking me where I was. I told her, and lo and behold, twenty minuets later she appears. It was not an exact repeat of our first meeting, but it was damn close, and it ended much like the first one, with her populating my bed, and making Friday not so bad. And then poof, she was gone. Like a haze of fog on an early summer day she just evaporated. Nothing but the memory of it to remind me it happened at all. She was something that I felt like I was holding between breathes, and when I let out that second breath she was expelled both from my bed (lungs), and my life.

The little I know about her, and the little I can remember about her may or may not be true, or it may have been some elaborate fiction of an disturbed mind, hers or mine I am not sure which. I don't think I feel any sort of loss about her disappearance, after all, she was barely there in the first place. A double dip of Thursday does make for any sort of lasting bond. Even if her leaving hurts, it doesn't hurt too much. The name she left me, may or may not have been her real one, the tale she spun may or may not have have been real, but the time she spent in my bed was certainly all too real. For that, and for making an interesting yarn out of my life so boring, I will always have a very small, soft spot for my Thursday girl.

Of course, after two months of not writing a word, a disclaimer is necessary. Writing even as poorly as I do, is a skill. Skills go bad without practice, therefore the poor construction of this post can be hopefully forgiven.  Secondly, as with a lot of my writing this is a work of about 99% fiction. The most exciting Thursday I have had in a long time involved finding a five dollar bill in some jeans while I was doing laundry.  If Thursdays can't be exciting, they should at least involve clean drawers.