If you have just arrived at The Library in Purgatory, the first chapter is here.

"I never found the girl, I never got rich. Follow me."

~Leonard Cohen

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Chapter II.5

Lost Journal Fragments of Briarios Anfortas, Pt I

The Wasteland
The Wasteland— stretches endlessly, dry, cracked, blasted. Across it I walk, a fanatic to live in this twisted shit-hole of violence and degradation.

“Fuck the world!” another step, a step nearer to nowhere, the Wasteland around me, a vast ocean of despair, desolation, isolation, heat and insanity.

Another step, “Fuck the system!” The sun scorches me like the pills I’ve fed on, ravenous; the booze I’ve drunk, frenzied; the thoughts I’ve thunk; the company I’ve kept; and the women I’ve fucked, wanton and wantonly. There is no love and Richard Nixon lied for your sins.

God is dead. I hung with him on the cross in a mescaline haze as the Wasteland bathed in pinks, oranges, reds, blues, and greens of setting neon. The view was spectacular from up there.

And God said, “I am the way,” and disappeared into the Wasteland. I followed, stumbling and retching in an orgy of ecstasy. That was nineteen years ago, and God, as they are want to do, vanished when the going got weird. Well fuck him; the odds aren’t against me, just odd.

The sun beats down, a monstrous “NOT” with each blow, “Thou shall NOT, Thou shall NOT, Thou shall NOT.” I have become he who is NOT, the great No-thing.

The Wasteland stretches, the sun scorches, my mind retches, and I scream my prayer for the world, “Fuck you,” as I stride into the neon, a real warrior.

I hate therefore I am. Strung out for the poison in a heartbeat I stagger along screaming for silence. A trail of discarded needles, bottles, dreams, and people haphazardly mark my passing. To live is to die, to die to win in the Wasteland. The Devil could make a killing down here in deals, if he’d come. Devils, like God’s though, are equally scares here and compassion is a myth.

Another step; I chant my mantra, “Let me die.”

She left me then, the ungrateful princess, and I, the unwilling knight, and my Wasteland was again as empty as the people who inhabited it. All ties were cut. With nothing left to moor to I drifted far and away under alien moons to places mystic and threatening, never a word spoken. Always dark it was; people listlessly stumbling zombie-like over the water, following their saviors always to sink a grace too short.

I thought I was dead, hoped, but God reappeared before me, a Hollywood whore, red painted lips smiling, he/she slipped a tab of acid under my tongue and said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” In the distance, Richard Nixon screamed, “Sock it to me,” as seven muscled bisexuals in fishnet and skirts flogged him with reels of tape and gagged him with popular culture. The Silent Majority looked on in silence, doing the wave in three parts.

My body fell away and my mind stretched taut like a wire. Music blew out the back of my head, trailing like a comet’s tail, shimmering, incandescent, crystal-clear.

I turned around, she was standing there. A smoky cabaret; 3:00 A.M.; only a few customers left, beatniks mostly and a lone economist dancing in the pit, twisted on hash and screaming, “Save your Federal Reserve Notes boys, the Union will rise again!”

She looked my way, stage lights refracting a thousand different angles off her black cocktail dress, singing huskily into the mike. I listened, transfixed.

“Hang the rich,” her short black hair framed laughing green eyes that dared me to disagree, and an insinuatingly sensuous smile.

“I haven’t seen green in years,” I said.

“I know,” she whispered, a sad look running away with her smile, “you’ve been out there for years. Why don’t you come back, aren’t you thirsty?”

“More than you know. I want to,” I paused and slowly shook my head, “but I don’t know how…don’t know how.”

“All roads are the same you know, the scenery’s just different,” she stubbed out a freshly lit Dunhill in frustration.

“Yeah. Yeah, I know. The scenery’s been pretty twisted on this road though, makes you wonder about your sanity sometimes.”

“I know. C’mon,” she took my hand, “let’s go back to my place.” I trusted her eyes.

I woke up in a warm, soft bed, a green and white comforter tossed aside and the sun squeezing though the blinds. How long had it been since I’d sent he light… of reason?

She walked in while I was laying there half-awake, half-asleep, daydreaming. A blue and red tropical print robe with too few buttons for my imagination was draped lazily over her soft wide shoulders. Her eyes, now serious, searched out mine and held them.

“I am your destiny,” she looked close to tears.

“But…I am a dreamer…I…”

“Yeah…and I am just a dream,” she whispered, biting her lip and turning away.

“Hey, you’re bleeding,” I cried, jumping out of bed.

She backed away, her hand to her lip, “Don’t worry,” she sobbed, “it’s only ink. Just a little ink spilled in an attempt at sanity. Take care darling.” She stepped back again. Her robe had fallen off her shoulders completely, “We will meet again because I was meant for you and you for me. You will always be my Wildstar, but not to hold until you can cure your addiction to this place,” she gestured around her, “the Wasteland.”

I stood in Vatican City, tears streaming down my face, a vision of her standing there, robe falling off her shoulders burned into my memory, waiting. Waiting with millions of others for the Pope to come out and tell us that God wasn’t dead, hadn’t been gone for two thousand years, and was in fact, right inside his chambers knocking back Wild Turkeys and Coke.

The Pope walked out onto his balcony flanked by two mafia bodyguards. Raising his white-robed arms to embrace the crowd he cried in his best Gregorian voice, “I am the Egg-man, I am the Walrus! Kookookachoo!”

The crowd roared in opiate delight, chanting over and over, “Pope! Pope! Pope!” They rushed the building like a wave breaking on rocks, millions trying desperately to get through the one small door that entered the building. The two mafia thugs pulled Uzis out of their coats and opened up on the hysterical religious junkies. Those that weren’t gunned down in the holy fervor were crushed up against he walls as friends and family behind them pushed forward.

I stood motionless. God was really dead, or at least not coming back, and the Pope was reduced to the level of Nixon— eating opium and uppers until he foamed at the mouth and flogging masochistically inclined clergy with the ten commandments and the thieves code of honor.

Tinkerbelle carried me far away in a cloud of golden pixie dust, softly reciting Zen poetry to me backwards. We sat on the edge of the world, dangling our legs off the edge.

“Don’t you find it interesting that the main character of Cool World is convinced that she does not exist in any real sense and so will screw anyone in an attempt to become real, and is incidentally named Holli Would,” she paused. “Is that ironic or what? And of the two heroes, one finds the fantasy world more interesting than his own and the other realizes the illusion of it but doesn’t want to go home.”

“Fucking swell,” I mumbled. Tinkerbelle continued on. I didn’t hear and then she was gone, or I was?

Despair encircled me, caressing, whispering suicidal tendencies into my ear, beckoning, leading, threatening.

But Despair is not my lover, never was. I am a warrior and my god, Insanity, has never died nor deserted me in times of trouble keeps me on my feet. It’s hard to keep a mad man down, especially when you live in Kalamazoo.

“We’re not in Kansas anymore Tinker and it’s a good thing too, ‘cause I can’t stand the fucking place. It hasn’t gotten weird enough for me yet; time to go home— see Hitler on ice, Andrew Dice, yellow people eat rice, LBJ be nice, Ronald Reagan head lice, thee Republican mice, the great train heist, Miami Vice, Ted Kennedy twice, and Mark “Bad Luck” Weiss.

There’s no place like home.

I Gotsta Know

Once a boy sat in a room
listening to music
he wasn’t very happy about it.
It was gray all over outside.
“I won’t be coming in today Jay,” he said on the phone,
“my head is as big as New York
and there is no way in hell
I’m going to sit boxed up in that booth all day.
At least in my car I’ll be moving,
and motion is a very fine thing
especially when your head
is the size of New York.
I’d blow my brains out
if I thought I could get them all
but I don’t think I have enough shells
and it’s best to be certain
with matters like that.”
And so, the same boy sat in his car
listening to music.
It was still gray all over outside
and he wasn’t very happy about it.

It Wasn’t a Pretty Sight
It’s amazing to me how much easier it is to get along with my family when I’ve had three, or four, or five drinks. I probably shouldn’t be surprised but I always am. Ha ha!, the smiles are so much easier and I just want to laugh the whole time.

Probably my favorite family memory is when my mom, dad, and I went out with Raul and Cher— they were all drinking and I couldn’t so I gulped down a Quaalude. I laughed the whole evening.

Dancing around the house, swirling and twirling, smashing, destroying; the music pounding, possessed.

They all stand around shocked and thinking the unthinkable, frozen by the sheer intensity of the hatred. Televisions, sofas, lamps all fly out the window, shattering glass blossoming out in front. Holes in the walls; I hate therefore I am…and right now, I REALLY AM!!

Mouths agape they stand, speechless, “How could such a thing happen to so nice a boy? How? Does he worship Satan? Is he on drugs? What happened, what went wrong? Maybe he’s mentally unbalanced— insane, psychotic, a freak.”

“Fuck you, fuck you all!” You live in your little egocentric worlds, safe and cozy, lying to yourselves and each other— mental blowjobs. Fuck you all and everything you stand for: you are rigid, dead; I am flexible, moving, alive, sexual; you are nothing, see nothing, experience nothing. You are nothing. I hate you and your righteous all-consuming emptiness. Play your trivial little games of innuendo and death. Death is not for me, life is my lover. The blind leading the dead, the dead leading the blind; I hate you so intensely, so purely, it threatens to consume me.

The Problem with Pants
Ha! Ha! Fuck you!
Fuck you in the extreme.
Fuck you in the in-extreme
Fuck you from time beginning
to time fucking immortal
You fucked me all right,
till I was numb
and knew nothing else.
But my dick is bigger now
and I think it shall be I,
who does the buggering.
They ask, “Who wears the pants
in the house?”
But what they ought to ask is,
“Who does the fucking?”
Because it doesn’t matter
who has pants and who hasn’t
but who gets fucked.
So we all wore pants
and I got fucked again
and you smiled
your BIG stupid fucking smile
and told me how much
you loved me
and how much fun it was
fucking me,
and how your father
fucked you
and how you liked it
jolly swell,
and how fucking your son
was about the greatest
fucking thing there was
to do in the world.
So we had some toast
and jam
and I pulled down
my pants
and you pulled down
your pants
and fucked me some more.

Fear and Loathing at Malibu
You go out on a day when the waves are breaking two to three feet higher than you’re used to. It’s overcast, gray, windy and cool, about 65 degrees. The water’s cold, your dick shrivels up and your nipples are so hard you could stop bullets with ‘em. You’re having a hard time breathing ‘cause the water’s so damned cold and you’re scared shitless, heart pounding and so much adrenaline that, right now, PCP would only give you a headache.

Your friends all think you’re crazy and went to a movie instead; but they don’t understand, you had to go out.

You start out, the waves crashing in hard, but you know you can only go forward so you do, until they’re breaking on your head, thousands of pounds of white-capped water rushing down like an Amtrak Express. Then you’re beyond them; now the fun starts

You wait about two minutes and then see a monster swell from the west that’s traveled all the way from Hawaii, pushed by winds and tide, here, to you, a gift.

Paddling furiously, you drop in; the moment of truth. You know the wave is an illusion, the water only the medium through which the motion travels, the wave is really one hundred percent energy. That’s what you’re here to ride; everything else is incidental.

The peak is starting to crest white and you’re staring six feet straight down at the blue-green trough. You can ride this beast almost under control, terrified, full of fear and loathing, the greatest rush on earth; or you can bail and get dragged along by this miniature tsunami, out of control, terrified, full of fear and loathing. It’s a fine line and there’s not much difference but the feeling in your head.

So you ride the wave like a madman bent on speed ‘cause for you bailing isn’t an option. And the crazy thing is, you go back and do it again and again— even after you’ve been drug across the sandy bottom enough times to know it like the back of your hand, your teeth are doing ragtime, and you stopped being able to feel your feet and hands an hour ago.

And when you finally stumble out of the surf numb from cold and exhaustion, your heart is still out there in the swells and whitewater; and you know you’ll be back tomorrow.

Each man
has only himself to rely upon
and he should be able to do so.
His best friend
should be himself,
and if it is not,
he will be a friend
to no one.
If he cannot amuse himself
he will not be able to amuse others.
If he does not know himself
he will never recognize
anyone else.
He is the only person
who will ever totally understand
what he says
or what it means to be him.
The man that cannot be everything
to himself
will be nothing
to everyone.
if he has to look to others
he will never be able
to see himself:
What he was,
or can become.

The Risk
She pressed up against me and we kissed.

“Do you want me?” she whispered, biting my ear and running her hands through my hair.

“Uhmm, yes…but let’s do something that may threaten your very soul. You up to it?” I looked deep into her eyes, almost falling in.

“Does this involve handcuffs?” she looked unsure, nervous.

“I guess you could…but we don’t have to,” I smiled and squeezed her hands. “C’mon, live a little,” my eyes laughing, daring.

Her resolve stiffened, “OK, what?”

I kissed her quickly, sat her down in the middle of the living room, and ran around grabbing a bottle of wine out of the kitchen, a corkscrew, a candle and lighter. She watched, laughing as I ran around looking like an idiot.

“Okay,” I sat down lighting the candle and then opening the bottle of win. The cork made a satisfying “thunk” as I pulled it out; Mary jumped a little, the candlelight throwing curvy shadows over her pert face, reflecting the anticipation in her bright green eyes. I took a long hit off the bottle and handed it to her, “Cannonball,” she laughed.

“You ready,” she nodded taking the bottle, “ready to be stripped naked, laid bare, totally exposed, vulnerable?”

She hesitated, “I thought you said no handcuffs…ummm…” I kissed her before she could say another word, her lips tasted like wine.


Her eyes flashed, I flinched expecting the worst, and then she laughed, “You’re crazy! Absolutely fucking crazy! You’ve lost it, flipped, gone over the high side!”

“Yep,” I smiled.

“You bastard! I should’ve known better than to ask you at the bar what you were writing. You looked twisted even then.” She tackled me and pinned me to the floor; I struggled a little for appearances. “Am I,” she bent to kiss me and pulled away coyly, “still going to get breakfast in bed?”

“Depends, you staying?”

“Yes, I don’t think I’d miss this for the world,” she bit my lip, “I can’t wait to climb into that twisted head of yours.”

“Oww, how do you know I’m twisted?”

“I just do.”

“Probably ‘cause you’re more twisted than I am.”

“Maybe…,” she smiled, “but probably not.”

“Just be careful okay. It’s really strange in their, very twisted, mutant, insanity.”

“I know, can’t wait. Hope you’re not planning on any sleep tonight.”

Another Saturday Night
The wind is blowing tonight
it’s calling my name.
I won’t answer though.
I don’t feel up
to being led no where
in particular,
it’s too vague
and I’m alone.
I just want to listen
to it in the trees,
feel it in my hair,
and dream
what it dreams—
safe and warm.

The Great American Novel
The humidity crashed down on the city in a stranglehold. Music drifted out to me on the balcony, bubbles on the slight breeze, mixing with the whoosh and honk of passing cabs and the street babble from the people below.

My drink was getting warm as I idly scratched random thoughts in my journal; lassoing and bringing them in with my pen for closer inspection.

“Whaddya writing?” Her black T-shirt clung to her shoulders, damp; brown ponytail cocked to one side questioningly as she looked up.

I stretched lazily, pen clenched between my teeth, “The Great American Novel. Want to hear it so far?”

“Sure,” she smiled, freckles coming out like stars.

“C’mon up, the door’s open; lemonade and Bacardi in the fridge.” I looked up at the stars as she came up the stairs, wondering where Chris was and if he still had the five dollars I owed him. She sat down and mixed a drink, kicking off her white sneakers.

I took a dramatic breath and let it hang, thinking, “What the hell am I doing? The Great American Novel my ass! I can’t even put two sentences together without getting a comma splice. Punctuation was like my dressing, more function than form, with little eye for detail. Oh well, who says you need punctuation to tell the Great American Novel?” The Great American Novel she was expecting and the Great American Novel I had promised. Guess I’ll have to make something up, wing it.”

I took a sip of my warm drink.

“Well, you see it started like this,” I smiled, “there was this guy, a knight, and a beautiful princess. This knight, as knights go, was pretty stupid when it came to women in general and princesses in particular…” My audience closed her eyes and held her glass to her forehead, slowly rolling it back and forth. “…and so you see, the knight got a new Toyota; ha ha; a fifth of fine vodka, and a kiss on the cheek. Not bad considering, eh?” I finished with a flourish, pouring the last of the Bacardi into her cup.

She opened her eyes looking at me quizzically, green eyes confused. “You didn’t write that!” she brushed her short bangs dismissively with her free hand and glared at me. “I see you out here every night watching the city and writing. I wonder what you’re writing, and I come up here and you insult me with this…I’m sorry…crap! Read me something real, something you’ve actually written.” She scowled at me expectantly.

The CD player quietly sang on. A taxi stopped below and disgorged a drunken couple, laughing and stumbling; somewhere in the distance a siren wailed against a backdrop of steel, clouds, and thunder. The humidity was getting worse and a storm was coming. Heat-lightning flashed in the west. I wiped my forehead and leaned back against the sliding door, closing my eyes and listening. The door dug into the small of my back, the pain felt good, cool.

“I’m sorry…,” she leaned forward and put her hand on mine, “it’s just that sometimes, I don’t know, I get…”

“No don’t,” I opened my eyes, “I was just an ass and I’m sorry. Sometimes I forget who I am…it’s no excuse.” I fumbled through my journal, flipping pages. “Here, here’s something that may be worth listening to, the Great American Novel it’s not though.” I smiled rather sheepishly and lifted my cup to take a drink, it was empty. My antagonist smiled and offered me her glass. “Okay, here goes:

Lying on his back amid white rumpled sheets and black comforter he stares up at the lazily spinning ceiling fan; the last bright rays slowly working their way through the blinds to paint the far wall a light rose as the sun falls, smoldering orange into the plains.

He reaches over the nightstand and lights a Dunhill, watching the smoke twist and turn as he exhales. The sound of traffic drifts up on the humid evening air, pregnant with expectation. The city is waking, coming to life: bars beginning to fill; bands tuning up; and couples amicably chatting over dinner and wine or gazing at each other across a gulf of candles while punks paint on their sad, tragic faces and pull on shiny, slick black leather; taxi cabs scurry about like rodents on speed; and winos emerge from dark doorways, bleary-eyed and patting pockets for a smoke.

“History will teach me nothing,” he mutters to no one in particular, stubbing out the Dunhill and climbing out of bed. Across the room, he mixes himself a drink and stumbles into the shower.

Forty minutes later he emerges from the steam of the shower and the smoke of another Dunhill. Mixing himself another drink he pauses to stare at himself in the mirror behind the bar with a slightly bemused, uninterested smile, regarding the still-wet brown hair that can’t be combed to any satisfaction, the custom camel-tan suit made by some nameless tailor down on Jackson street that fits a little large and loose, the white shirt, tropical floral print tie, and brown loafers. Toasting himself, he tosses his drink back, picking up the Dunhills as he walks out into the night. Pausing on the step, he fishes around in his pockets for the house key and, finding it, eyes it suspiciously, wondering whether to walk to take a cab. With a nod, he decides to walk and tosses the key into a storm drain as he heads east…”

I stop and look up. Her eyes are closed and she seems to be somewhere else, far off. I wait another thirty seconds and add, “That’s it so far.” Slowly she comes to, pulling herself up from wherever she was. Smiling, she says,

“I knew you wouldn’t let me down. That was great. I felt like I was there,” she’s tying her sneakers and the thunder has grown louder. I can see it raining on part of the city already.

“I really have to go,” she stands up, “but is it Okay if I come back tomorrow night, I’ll bring something to drink this time?

“Sure,” I nod; and she’s gone. I can hear her running down the stairs. On the street she pauses and yells,

“Do you like wine?”


“Great. I’ll see ya around nine,” I watch her, brown ponytail bouncing around the corner. You could smell the rain coming, wet, earthy. I stretched lazily, pen clenched between my teeth and looked out over the city, watching, thinking, smiling.

So I’m A Fool…
The cavernous,
echoing, rebounding, awkward
in between sentences—
abruptly starting
and just as abruptly
as searched for
words are found.
Leona’s grandpa
is in the hospital
and I sit like a fool
with a stupid, pained
look on my face
trying to think of one
goddamned word.
I don’t know any.
Maybe if I eat my pencil
it will help, or
some pages
from a dictionary or thesaurus
then I could spew out
a hail of words,
like an oral
machine gun.
My pencil tastes
like wood
and lead.
“Would you
like to chew on my pencil?”
I offer it up—
words at last.
Leona looks at me
like I’ve flipped.
I put it back in my mouth.
are for sucks,”
I mutter to myself
casting about
for a dictionary.
Maybe there’s some words
under the couch.
I get down and look.
Clever little bastards;
probably hiding,
holding tight.
If I had a good dog
I could flush ‘em out.
“What the hell
are you doing?”
Leona is annoyed.
“Looking for words,”
I reply matter-of-factly.
“Are you
on drugs?”
She smiles.
“No, but if you have some…
words are for sucks,
drugs are cool.”
She stares at me.
I stare at the ceiling
There’s words behind
the ceiling fan,
but I’d have to rip it out
to get at ‘em.
The gulf of silence
is growing larger and larger
I stand and stare
at Leona
on the other side.
I wave
and go home.
I’d say,
“I understand.”
but I don’t know
any words.

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