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Posted by: Captain Forehead
karma: 137 [+/-]
It is hard to believe I have an assigned job. It feels strange, as if I have been placed here by accident. I try to complete my assignments as detailed. If I do the assignments long enough, I will be able to reclaim my strength and purpose, giving rise to the phoenix of he within thee.

One would expect a doer of good, a justice righter, to be proud and strong at all times. This is a fair expectation, but one cannot do goodness upon the greater whole when one is not whole themselves. To care for the citizenry, I must be made whole again...I must make myself whole again.

“Is this your coffee sitting in the corner?” the brusk voice of a firm and youthful woman asked.

“Yes,” I answered, avoiding eye contact with her as I have avoided it with customers — it is too intimate when you have been a ghost for so long.

“Soy and stevia? You aren’t going to energize your man juices with that routine.”

“Huh?” was the response designed not to offend.

“Not sure those are the things that get a man’s testosterone pumping,” she answered, exclamating with a wink.

Those were her words, but when looking at her round, full, youthful face, it was clear she was saying I had a shot. Clearly, she was letting me know that if I were to man up with a bit of milk and honey, I could enjoy all of the sweetness she has to offer. Clearly. Milk? Honey? No problemo.

It must be cruel, anyhow, the way the extract milk from an innocent soybean.

She winked again.

I’m back! I’m back in the game.

Too intense. I step up to the espresso machine and make the order on the pending cup.

I might be alive again...someday...maybe...sweetness...sticky.

I can be in the game. All I need is the sweet stickiness brought by milk and honey.
Posted by: Captain Forehead
karma: 6 [+/-]
After limping pathetically for a couple of hours under the rescue of pain killing in a bottle, I took a bus going as far from the big city buzz as possible. Fell asleep for a moment’s respite. When jolted awake, found myself within reach of the suburbs, a convenient opportunity to exit the flatulent funk conveyer.

NOTE: Bus riding is the perfect way to travel unseen; no one makes eye contact on a bus.

Though the ankle swollen, I managed to walk a distance and found a clean, nice, new and articulate neighborhood. Once deep into the ‘hood, I knew I had only a short time before someone called the uniformed escort service on my mottled presence.

Finding an abandoned house was easier than anticipated. Unkempt lawn, drawn shades, no personal trinkets or toys out front, were all markers of polite and proper abandonment. If a house had all of the identifiers and “FOR SALE” signage that had “FORECLOSURE” or “BANK REPO!” splashed across the face, doubt was eliminated...though some probably had pre-packed ex-owners waiting for the final eviction and others may have illegal renters or other squatters. Abandoned, power and running water was the full of the scavenger hunt.

There were many to choose from. Most seemed to have one of 3 realtors, which meant they probably had ins in the neighborhood and were being watched. Taking a corner, limping in pain, a smallish house with an uncommon realtor’s sign and in disrepair sat tired and disheveled. A porch light was on, but the heavy dust on the walkway indicated no one had been there in a long time. To be safe, it was necessary to knock on the door, look in the window and see if there was furniture or other indications of life.

No answer. Nothing apparent inside.

Slipping under the overgrowth that kept the gate from opening, the hidden back was visited. There was nothing growing where a lawn once rested and a giant hole in the ground with rebar jutting, clearly a pool started long ago and abandoned. Before entering — classified as a crime for the betterment of a man — I sat on the single piece of furniture in the yard, an old lounge chair.

Exhaling, relaxation visited for a moment. It was no longer necessary to ignore the pain in my ankle, so acknowledged the throbbing pain. My tattered shoe and sock could not contain the swollen mass. I took off the disgusting footwear of necessity — Have you seen how the shoeless are treated? Even those practicing the art of good! — and was taken aback by the stench of what only a podiatrist would call feet. I don’t know when the last time the fresh air kissed flesh of these gunky, junky feet. It felt so refreshing, like the final savoring of sweet candy. The cool breeze peeled the stench of my foul skin fresh.

Within a few minutes, without intent, sleep captured the mind and I was resting without having to be on alert for some bum trying to steal my stuff or attack me because of their misperception of who I may have been. Sleep. Relaxed, deep, peaceful sleep. Did not awaken until the new day cracked dawn.

Years. Hard to fathom, but it has been years since slumber so fully molested my whole. I felt twenty years younger; with the energy of possibility. It was time to act, as the rest of the world clung to the comfort they felt rightfully theirs.

A broken window. In. Empty house. Appliances seem to have been hastily ripped out. Bathroom. Enter. Lock. No lights, it is bright enough and no need to attract attention. Undressed, clothes in a small pile. Catch awkward reflection in large, cracked mirror.

Who is that stranger? Skin hanging where it once wrapped tightly muscles of purpose. Grime so deeply imbedded the skin look permastained. The scraggly hair and beard affirmed the homeless man stereotype. And that was who was in the mirror, not a man of purpose or possibility but a stereotype incapable of being anything more than a misperception. The Captain would not, could not be caught wearing the broken cliché so perfectly framed in the cracked mirror. The man in the mirror was not alive, he existed.

When you go without a shower for years, you forget how wonderfully sensual they are, and you wish you could take them for granted again. I stood for what seemed like an hour, watching the grime run off — the easy, uncommitted grime. When the easy was done, the bar of soap was roughly applied — who knew you could use a full size bar of soap in a single showering, but as the last bit crumbled, I accepted I was as clean as I was going to be. The hair and beard were all that was left. After 4 rinse and repeat cleansings of the hairiness, I was done...almost.

Hair puts people off. Too much speaks too loudly. Dirty hair makes a defiant statement. Too much dirty hair is a declaration. Sitting on the shower floor so as to not mess the bathroom, I took the scissors so generously provided and began to cut my goldless locks. Pulling the hair up between the fingers, I cut across the top of my hand. Enough cuts and the entire head was about 3/4” long, a respectable length that says little. I trimmed the beard as close to the face as possible, then used the razor. It was too much for the shower drain, so I put the pile of hair — enough so it looked like a large cat — into the toilet, but I was not going to flush until it was time to leave, to avoid the noise and possible backup. I returned to the shower, turned it on and washed my hair again. I had to look into the mirror anew.

The mirror could not lie. The man reflected was not so easily dismissed, not so readily defined. The man in the mirror would be more than he appeared. Tired, unnecessarily emotional tears began to well. This was an opportunity...probably the last chance for a man who could be.

Pain from the ankle shot up the leg and caused a slight buckle. Looking at the swollen ankle, the man who would be had a simple command: “You don’t get to be injured today. Not today.”

Looking back at the man in the mirror, I understood who the man in the mirror would become was up to me, not as he but as thee. To avoid being nothing again, he would have to do something, be something. He would have to be.

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