I sat on the edge of a porch with a lit gun and a loaded cigarette, both aimed for my heart. I watched Charlottesville twinkle below me, out past the condos and stretching towards a dark Southern sky. A varmint creeped and crackled in the brush just past the fenceline, coming closer and pausing just at the edge of the shadows, so that he was all but obscured, just a fat fuzzy outline, pondering me as I pondered him. He sat, then moved a little closer, and I stood and hup'd and tsk'd at him. He slowly turned and disappeared into the darkness from which he came, unidentified and indifferent.
October seems so long ago. I may never get home again.
I drank whiskey and vodka until I was frantically delirious in Columbus. I threw up in our host's sink and spilled a can-a-coke down his stairwell. I cleaned it up with my sweatshirt and towel, and now both are moldering in my stuffsack. I woke up drunk and missing my socks the next afternoon.
And ohmygod Henry is snoring so loud. I'd go find another room, but I'm a stranger in a strange house and have no idea where to begin to look. I was over-caffeinated earlier with Golden Monkey tea, sweaty and nail-chewing, and then switched to red wine and then to some weird Japanese melon drink with a glass marble rattling inside the bottle neck. Henry has a big bottle of expensive KC-exclusive beer next to him on the end table, and I think I'll finish it for him. It'll just spoil and stale otherwise, and besides there's no was I'm sleeping in a room with a snoring bear like this whilst sober.
Goddamn, it was confusion yesterday. I woke up so drunk and sick, and slept all the way to New Plymouth, where I regained consciousness on stomach-churning mountain roads and spilled into a gravel parking lot and met some llamas and stray cats and a dog named Elwood. I wandered incredulous, stomach empty and head pounding, but still finding the wherewithall to fall in love again with Southeastern Ohio. Did that really just happen? I blinked under the wet sun and dozed on a bench. And we played guitars for Ian and the bird and the dog sang along while the cafe's owner played harmonica. We ate venison with onions and gravy. Nelsonville? Was I there only this morning? Was I there only last night, getting in trouble for smoking cigarettes on a railroad bridge?
West Virgina today, still wild still wonderful, the mountain passes squeezed our sinuses and stole our breath and Townes Van Zandt and Otis Redding offered pillows and solace for sad tired eyes. Pop the fucker into neutral and fly down the grades like a maniac, 80 85 90 mph. Let's stop, boys, and check out every tunnel and factory town and red-coal Machu Pichu we come to, let's grow our beards and disappear into the Appalachian crevices and take eight wives (each) and stomp on eggs and eat rattlesnakes and raise the South again.
So now I'm drinking Henry's beer, a wheat wine that he's proudly lugged all the way from Kansas City and that he immediately and drunkenly spilled onto this hardwood floor as soon as he popped the fat cork. I'm laying on an ornate rug crawling with flowers and blooming scorpions in sick domestic psychedelica. I left Tristessa in the car, but Lermontov is in my satchel. But Lermontov is in my satchel, and he scares me. Pechorin threatens to invade my dreams and mold me in his image, though it may be too late, the selfish Russian motherfucking contemptuously honest romantic motherfucker. Someone's feet smell like shit, though it may just be my feather pillow after being dropped on the ground in six states in less than two weeks, and it rides piggyback on my stuffsack still full of clothes and towels moldering with old Coca-Cola and sweat rife with toxins.
This beer is perhaps the best I've ever had, and it's a shame Henry doesn't get to enjoy it, the wine-drunk snoring on the leather couch the color of tripe under framed picture of European landmarks and bright inset lightbulbs.
I want to write a song about Ohio, and a song about girls smiling from their boyfriends' arms, and about how I've become such a misanthrope and a recluse, a fiddleback.
Books in the Blue Whale bookstore, C'ville, VA: Piaf by Simone Berteaut, Weaver's Ideas Have Consequences, Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock Since 1967.
The beer is to be drank from "the proper glass", says so right on the bottle, but there's no reason at this point at 2:26 am (Eastern Time) to be proper or hide my flirtatiousness, so I press my lips to its mouth and kiss it right through its slender neck, all exploding in sex and tropical brown skin and wheat and fruit.
Lermontov, through Pechorin, is honesty. True romantic honesty, the kind that only ends with grief or a bullet through the chest, as it did with Lermontov himself. Find the beauty in the selfish futility, make every action a move towards the tenderest embrace or most staggeringly fatal kiss, knowing it all to be an arrogant and delusional farce.
"To be to somebody the cause of sufferings and joys, without having any positive right to it- is this not the sweetest possible nourishment for our pride?"
and, on the same page, in the same passage:
"Evil begets evil: the first ache gives us an idea of the pleasure of tormenting another. The idea of evil cannot enter a person's head without his wanting to apply it to reality: ideas are organic creations."
You crooked bastard. Is selfishness evil, and are either natural? If we can only but ask that we be allowed to act naturally, and we are naturally selfish, is this evil? There is no evil in nature, mind, but plenty selfishness. But a hungry wolf is not selfish to be evil, unless such a natural instinct as killing and eating to further one's self and species can be so condemned**. Red of tooth and claw, indeed. I've got blood under my fingernails, and I pick your hair from between my teeth.
"The passions are nothing else but ideas in their first phase of development; they are an attribute of the youth of the heart; and he is a fool who thinks we will be agitated by them all his life*. Many a calm river begins a turbulent waterfall, yet none hurtles and foams all the way to the sea. But that calm is often the sign of great, though concealed, strength; the plentitude and depth of feelings and thoughts does not tolerate frantic surgings; the soul, while experiencing pain or pleasure, gives itself a strict account of everything and becomes convinced that so it must be; it knows that without storms, a constantly torrid sun will wither it; it becomes penetrated with its own life, it fondles and punishes itself, as if it were a beloved child. Only in this supreme state of self-knowledge can a man evaluate divine justice."
Before transcribing this paragraph, I had some idea where it was going, and how I felt about it. By the end, now nearing 3 am, I am drunk and have forgotten and am lost. But *this is very strong sentiment, stubbornly self-assured for a man who wrote this at the age of 26, and died at 27, the result of a duel, surely not a strong case for controlling one's passions.
A girl in Dayton gave me a clove cigarette that immediately fell apart in the rain, and warned me of the solar storms of 2012. She said I have the proper bone structure to mature into old age as a folk singer.
**though the animals are blessedly uninhibited by consciousness of Self and Others, which of course is our greatest boon and burden, and thus this analogy is stoned and prosaically moot.