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The Raven




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01-16-2020 06:38 pst

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The Woman and the Wrench


"Julie has to be out there somewhere. I could use her solace.

The other night was worse than last year, yet easier somehow. I know that doesn't really make sense, but I can say in all honesty that there are devices at work in the background -- like scripting on a web page -- which have the ability to help when I fall on my face. They are there, and when I least expect something to come along and ease the turmoil and fear, they jump up and take over, in a matter of speaking. They were there several nights ago but I do not remember feeling this way in the past. Where did that come from? I do not think anything can help in the long run, however feeling as if I can handle a social situation does provide a bit of comfort... Something I lose quite often, and very quickly. I see the man there, his shirt looking tattered and dusty, and the barrel appearing short from my perspective due to it following along as I step toward the slipper's previous location. For whatever reason, I cannot be taken off-guard by that rifle. Not only do I not give a shit whether he fires or not, but the fact remains that I can feel the security inside me. There are things I am compelled to do. No one should be allowed to get in the way. Keep walking. Maybe he is just a security guard for the hotel. Heh. No, I know who he is. I really do, and the fact that he has the rifle trained on me means he disapproves of what I have been doing. Well, we shall see if I can pass that on and carry forward with my efforts. To the valet.

'So there I was...one moment free to do as I please, and the next, four sets of electronically locked doors between me and the outside world. Only the second floor, mind you, there was no fear of anything worse -- like the fellow upstairs that decided it was time to leave through the window. I watched them repair it swiftly so as to not alter too much the appearance of that lovely hotel.

"You should try and focus yourself on reassembling that which has been so badly taken apart," she told me. I felt like nothing more than a fractured window blemishing the facade of the illusion.'

I rummage through the pockets for anything which may be a clue... Ticket, key card, receipt, anything. Nope. Just a bit of cash and my phone. I don't even have anything which leads me to believe that there is a hotel room somewhere with my name on it. Not a Goddamned thing. I do not see how I can recover the fucking car without a stitch of proof that it belongs to me.

Out of the gun's sight and around the corner I stroll. Maybe I was better off inside.

The side entrance appears nondescript so I cruise on in and assess the situation from the opposite side of the restaurant. That place is huge, beautiful, and teeming with activity. Just my type of thing, all the way. The party is in there somewhere. I will take a look to see if there is a cozy bar and perhaps keep an eye on them until things calm and they are ready to leave. I have to stay away from the main entrance anyway. That man may wish to shoot me or he may not, but I cannot take the chance. This is the fourth time I have wandered an ethereal world in search of whatever I am to see, and if he gets the best of me I will die again. I am suddenly reminded of wishing to disappear into thin air the other night and my deep need to hide. I felt all those eyes on me and when I looked around the room no one was paying any attention. The eyes were all inside me because I started creating them out of fear not long ago. Eyes... All over me and scratching at my attention until I cannot focus upon the simplest of tasks. Peeking in through the dense foliage, I see some space that looks like just my style. To the podium and an inquiry as to whether or not I am dressed ok for the lounge.

'You look fine, my dear. Go ahead.'
'Thank you.'

Into the dim. Wow, but this place is unreal. There is lots of colored lighting -- I saw some of it earlier -- and the entire place looks to be plucked from a forest. Vines everywhere. The tables are randomly placed here and there with small dividers, just like the old version of the Forest Buffet years ago. This place is not a buffet, but a full-service restaurant designed with some incredible theming. I love it. Off to the right is my place of choice, the bar and lounge. I sidle up next to the far left end with a vantage point for scoping both the main entrance and a good portion of the dining room. The dim lighting reminds me of sitting in the presence of Alexandra or Lori. Way back in the far corner is a large, isolated table with the party in question enjoying their refreshments. And there she is. I no sooner locate her when she turns immediately and shoots a finger to her lips. I am supposed to keep quiet? What the fuck does that mean?



709



I cannot avoid thinking of the slipper. As much as I'd like to explore, drink, flirt, and learn of that woman, I still know deep down that thus far I have not succeeded in any way since the first train and that means my will to continue trying to learn of the source of these places, I would much rather slide my ass into the precious and watch the miles roll under those huge rear tires. That may be the only real comfort and security I have left.

'This analysis may be ill-conceived. It may also be a means to an end. Introspective and reflective, I sit day after day pondering and wondering of the meaning of me, and the forgone conclusion that I may not be as pivotal and important as I may have thought. Damn this condition. Damn it. Sharon never agreed.'

She gestured for me to keep to myself. No problem, I am an expert at maintaining distance. One cocktail is gently placed on the ornate napkin before me as I sink in a touch and relax. The man outside is a concern, for sure, but somehow I know I can get out of it. And then a quick thought... There is also a valet kiosk in the lobby. I know it. All these huge resorts in the desert have comfort in mind and that means keeping the clientèle cool. There it is. I will sip and wait and think before heading over there and inquiring as to where my escape vehicle may reside. I will also have to keep my eyes on the woman. Something is going on there and I have to learn everything I am able. Plus, she is wonderful to my eyes. Of course. Obsession. I still need Julie.

Another occasion popped up recently to drop me through the floor but it was not as bad as I had envisioned. Sometimes I prepare myself for a fall of large proportions, and then something much simpler takes place and I am eventually left confused by the comfort. Unfortunately, I already know such an occurrence is only temporary and my head will come apart again soon enough. There is no permanent solution. No matter how others try to lift and help me, none of it can last. Jesus fucking Christ the woman on the television screen is killing me without compassion. Such beauty. It hurts. Vast beauty. Whatever. Back on course.

I know it will all take place again, sometimes easier, other times more difficult, still other times it will feel impossible and I will fucking run away. That's what I do. I cannot and will not entertain changing my ways for fear of the fear. I simply cannot deal with certain situations and must avoid others' efforts in trying to make me more relaxed and able to work through them rather than dashing to the wind. Well, fuck all that. No one will succeed. I am too afraid of change because enough of that and I am no longer the person who developed this way throughout years. Those other difficulties which have generated trepidation around people shaped me into this mess, but it is me. I am me. I cannot allow any possibility of a unique person disappearing because those helpful souls say I need it. Nope. Stop trying. Let me sit here and relax, put all of this into perspective, and then I will venture out when I feel I can. Other than that, just leave me the fuck alone. I am not you. I need to be me, as bad as that may be at times, and with all the other shit that I carry around. Just me.

Wow, that was nice.

The longer I sit at this bar the more worried I become over the car. I do not see another way out of what has been going on for days. Stepping off the ledge, throwing a fit in front of two people for whom I care, and plowing that train full of explosives into the fucking courtyard and destroying everything have brought me to yet another strange location with people I do not care to know and only little, confusing clues to keep me moving forward. And the fucking women are always stunning. How can that help me? Is it a test? Am I to continue glaring at the artwork over which I obsess and learn to deal with the difficulty while simultaneously trying to find myself without dying? Jesus fucking Christ that is a tall order. Maybe the tallest. There are already many troubling situations floating within my head which I cannot work through, and adding the fucking hotel again is just going to make me lie in the street. I am tired. The occasion nearly a year ago really stands out now, and the more I consider the details of that frightening room, the more I feel that I should not be placing myself in such difficult situations again. I do not need that shit. That day and night tired me the fuck out, too. I was exhausted from thinking and sitting with a huge knot in my midsection. Too much more of that and I swear to God I will break down, and not in a way easily recoverable. Mark these words... I am tired, and tired of it all.

She glances in my direction every now and then as I decide that some control is better than none. Drink number two and no intention of slowing. If I slur, they can go and fuck themselves trying to follow my words. And I don't care, either. Kind of like throwing things around and scaring the hell out of Julie, I need to exercise my free will. More bourbon, and the type which turns me into a searing ass. Excellent.

'The woman who tossed that phrase at me thinking that I was self-conscious about something sensitive was dead wrong. And the fact that I did not give her a chance of hearing my explanation means there is a fear of her believing that she hit the nail on the head when the opposite is true. Sitting years later, none of that should matter because most likely there is no record and the woman has forgotten. But I forget nothing. All of it is still in there, some very fresh. As I recall being offended, I now realize that was not the case. It was more akin to feeling worry over where those things originated and the fact that society has driven all of it into the ground. I cannot see an out without destroying the world.'

And I have no idea of which way to turn.



710



I am already feeling the effects of the booze. Nothing is blurry, and I still know that my judgment is intact, but if I sit too long that will change. Be careful, dipshit. Someone is watching.

The man outside with the rifle is different and confusing. Who would want to threaten me? Do I not threaten myself enough? Hmm... I need to be vigilant, just as the gunslinger advised. Maybe he is here to help. Maybe I am on my own now. All of the women whose names begin with a 'J' are nowhere to be found and there is yet another with a portion of her attention locked to me. As if I am not fearful enough of everything related to being in a social situation, said attention is making me nervous. She is gorgeous and bright, shapely like in my dreams, yet there is something way off here. Approaching that table is an idea far from my ability right now, so I have to just wait. I am worried about the car, the rifle, and what my purpose in this place may turn out to be. And like the other journeys, I may never learn of the genesis. Damn it.

There is an uproar at the big table, like a birthday celebration or something. Everyone is quite animated and the noise level has risen. I need something. Anything. I look to my bartender, receive a pleasant nod as if he realizes I am comfortable and happy with the service, and then look back to the table in that corner to see everyone dressed in black. Confused like never before. At least I am accustomed to feeling like I am in the dark.

'As I drove back home from my appointment with that new therapist, I could not avoid wondering why she had to speak to me in such a manner. I never went back because of it, and the derogatory nature of her wording sent me spinning enough to drown out the reason I sought her expertise in the first place. In short, I left worse off than when I arrived there. Fuck me. Why did that have to happen? Years later I still felt the effects. Dysphemism, societal pressure, intimidation and fear. More than ever.'

The room has changed. Others are quieter and the ambient noise level outside this restaurant has dropped a measure. Wow. Up to this point, nothing otherworldly has taken place, only a scene I do not understand yet one which appears like a movie. They are in black, head to toe. The woman's dress is more conservative and longer below the waist. Before the change, she appeared to be dressed for a cocktail party. The difference is not helping me to follow along.

Darth Vader pops into my head with his forceful line... 'It is your DESTINY.' Damn. Third glass of weakness, incoming.

Part way into my drink, I see the party beginning to break up. There are no gifts visible, but I would swear they were celebrating. Lots of toasts and a few teary eyes throughout their meal. From my vantage point, the guess was a birthday, but there is nothing. No cake, presents, cards... Not one of the typical signs of someone's special day. Well, whatever. I do not know everything, right? They are splitting off into pairs and some head for the exit. The woman who has been my focus remains behind with another beautifully dressed female and seems to be conversing quietly. The noise level has dropped again as I continue wondering what she has to do with my presence in the hotel. And then my need to step out of the comfort zone pushes me to stare and cement her appearance in my memory. I do not know if I will realize the how and why of this shit, so why not just gaze at the beauty? Heh. The woman is stunning, from any angle. Naturally, my eyes are very educated when it comes to the mechanics of what I see, and that woman is an excellent example of the desire which rules me much of the time. The past parties caused that, as well, and the end result was anything but good. I know that I cause much of my discomfort and torment by seeking when I know I will only be hurt. Those other situations are different, though. They were far from my control and scared the shit out of me. One moment I was social and involved, and the next had me withdrawn and fearing any image or reference. I had not experienced such a fall in years, too. I was out of fucking practice in dealing with those parts of the world which hurt me. As recently as last night I was reminded of just how sharp that blade can be. It cut deeply again, and at the expense of my sanity. When I lose it completely, rest assured it will be justified. And very unpleasant.

The two remaining women clear their seats and head in my direction. Slam, booze gone.

As they pass the bar area, the gorgeous creature in question has her eyes locked to me and continues to walk unimpeded and smoothly toward the podium. Another kiss blown in my direction and that is it. I have had enough. I immediately gesture for her to approach. No smile from yours truly. Seconds, and she is right in front of me, close. And I mean right there.

'I am sorry for what has happened to you, sweetheart.' A kiss to my hand. What?
'What do you mean?'
'Soon, you will know everything.'

And off she strolls with a glance back for posterity. What the fuck? I need more questions like I need that Goddamned gun pointed at my tired head. She is sorry? For what? Did I miss something? I cannot watch her walk any longer. My brain must focus and that means keeping it out of her beautiful clothing. I turn, point to the glass, and think. Just think. Figure it out, damn it.

'Sharon told me to let it go and ignore the other woman. Yeah, no problem. I'll just make an appointment to have the memory and that part of me which hurts so bad surgically removed. Simple, right? Fuck her, too.'



711



The two women are gone from sight. That is both good and bad, but I still have no idea what the fuck is taking place here or what I am meant to learn. I guess I need to do more thinking. None of this is easy, and since I have what seems an abundance of time, I decide to pick the bartender's brain and reveal my curiosity at his wondrous appearance. The man is tall -- likely half a foot over my head -- and very well defined. His arms are like all those guys I've seen in print and film with enough musculature to indicate time in a gym. Cropped hair, sculpted features surrounding a slender nose, and the look of powerful strength. That is intimidating beyond words, yet the eyes are comforting, like he has wisdom alongside the look. Maybe speaking with such a person can open my eyes toward what it may be like to carry such definition and calm force. On the other hand, I may end up further down in the ground over the idea. I figure there is little else for me here other than questions, so answers of any kind are overpowering my fear.

'May I ask you a few things?'
'Go for it, chief.' Heh.
'Have your looks benefited you as an adult?' Damn it, now I feel like a child looking at a superhero.

He stills himself from organizing the glassware and drops the smile. Maybe that big right hand will pop me in the jaw. Oops.

'I get a lot of attention, if that is what you mean. Don't read into it. You look good.'
'What? Your look is frightening to me.'
'I am just a man, like you, and there is more to me than meets the eye.'
'Maybe we are not so different.'
'Believe me, anything beyond what is inside does not matter in the least, my friend.'
'I wish I could.' My eyes fall away from his. 'I really do.'

The bartender offers his hand with a disarming smile and grabs hold. Firm, quick, done. And then he moves elsewhere to look after the other patrons. Hmm... I still do not know what to think and am feeling just as much fear as before. There is probably no solution to my concern over the subject. Yes, he was kind and spoke with me as a genuine person. Those days in Colorado on that levee were enjoyable with my traveling companion for a long time until they were not. The situation which played out from one day to decades later changed me on the inside in ways I cannot easily describe, and it is still working on me. Everything is related to that day and what I became because of it. All of the searching, worrying, and seeking beauty stems from one fucking question that I still cannot answer, and may never. His words did not bring comfort but were not bad to hear. As he works the bar with the skill and personality only possible with years of experience, I wonder if the response had been oversimplified for my benefit. He may know that nothing spoken can help me after so much time has passed and so many situations in which I fell over and over. I have been told that my eyes transmit too much.

Fuck.

I do not need any more alcohol. There is nothing in my stomach other than bourbon and any more will cause me to lose myself. The bartender still appears as somewhat of a nemesis, yet his statement that we may not be so different has me considering just who I am. And that is not easy in the least. Decades and I still have no fucking idea. The fact that I may never know is not pleasant because the question dominates my thinking much of the time. When I am around other people and I watch the dynamics of their mannerisms and conversation, the same question floats around my head and forces me to see the differences between them and myself. None of it is easy and I am running out of will. Perhaps my asking of him was a bad idea. I have plenty of those.

I am reminded of a book I ordered some years ago entitled 'Euphemism and Dysphemism: Language Used as Shield and Weapon'. That book still sits there, unread. I have not the desire to explore something so hurtful even though it could have helped me while in therapy. In fact, nothing back then helped at all. I sat and listened to much wisdom and experience, but in the end only carried on with my skill of railroading each therapist until the ground beneath them fell away. I will never read it. Maybe the recycle bin is a good destination.

There is no helping me. I am too difficult. And no more flashbacks. They are useless. Well, maybe one.

Every now and then the bartender comes my way to check on me. I think he knows I am all screwed up inside and the kindness goes a long way to allowing me to be fairly comfortable sitting among others. Normally I would be very closed off and as hidden as possible while in a bar or lounge, but with him on the other side I feel a bit at ease. Inside my head is a pair of storms, both from the past and present, and the worry that I am truly incapable of learning the reasoning behind these ongoing scenes with mysteries and frightful sights everywhere. I had thought the passenger car took the cake but there may be more. I just don't know. Another drink is dropped before me with a concerned smile. He states with authority that I need to cease after that and I am not inclined to disagree. There does not seem to be any other place to go other than searching for the slipper. Due to lack of inspiration, my ass is glued to the stool. And then he looks over my head, back to me with intensity, and points. I turn and see that fucking stunning female approaching with a velvet bag of which I am unfamiliar. She walks directly to me and lays the bag on the bar.

'You will need this, sweetheart.'

A kiss to my cheek and she trots away looking like a goddess. What the fuck? And the bartender...

'Time for you to go, my friend. Care for yourself.'
'I will try.'

With the bag in my hand (heavy), I exit the only comfortable place imaginable. Through the vined entrance and to the right for the doors. As they part I see the slipper back again. Yes! Oh shit... I did not pay the fucking check, but that will only take a few minutes. If the car is still there when I return, I may have an out. God damn is it ever good to see that escape awaiting my right foot planted. I dash back inside and straight to my previous barstool. My head is suddenly slammed back years to a place I had forgotten.



712



I am in my twenties, out in the sun, and with family on Easter Sunday. My girlfriend is there staring at my hair. I remember cutting it in to a flat top with the back left long and the concern over how I may look after making the decision for that style. A mullet? I don't fucking know, but I was worried at the time. She smiles and tells me that I look fantastic with the change along with being clean-shaven. Smiles all around as my family is preparing to grill some lamb. My grandfather, having thrown a few gin and tonics back mid-morning, is dissatisfied with the slow progress on the charcoal. He walks to his car and returns with a gas can and the intention to speed things along so we can eat in good time. One toss of a bit of fuel and the flare ensues, causing my dad to lose a bit of eyebrow. That incited a hell of an argument as she and I looked on in surprise. Upon things calming, she whispers in my ear that there is no other place she would rather be. She goes on to tell me that I turned out to be an amazingly sensitive man, the likes of which she did not believe existed.

Back to the present, and the realization that the price for that compliment has been my entire life being narrowed to my insides being chewed to bits until unrecognizable. I am destroyed. Her words were sweet, but all these years later add up to more self-conscious and fearful feelings than I can possibly overcome. In an effort to shove all that aside, I take a second to peer into the bag left to me by miss gorgeous and see a massive combination wrench. At that, and with me distracted by the horror of my past and trying to hold back tears in public, I lose my attention and am caught as if I have just awakened from a long sleep. The bartender addresses me in all seriousness.

'Watch your back, my friend.'
'What do you mean?'
'Turn around.'

The bartender ducks completely out of sight as I quickly spin to see that man and the rifle not twenty feet out. The only thought is the wrench. Fumble, bag, damn it. I have no dexterity while so frazzled by a threat. My fingers reach the smooth, chrome handle but I have not the time to go further. He squares before I can react, and squeezes. Crack. Silence.

Fuck me, dead again."



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Random Quote:

"The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently."

-- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Dawn, Sec. 297


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