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The Raven




02-02-2020 05:50 pst

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The Gunman, the Gray, and the Ground


"I need that little beauty like never before. The memories are cutting me to ribbons and the day to day activities are shutting down my desire to walk out the fucking front door for any reason. I am beginning to feel as the late days in eleven when everything was flying away at terminal speed and I was helpless to respond. I felt horrible, isolated, and reckless. The same is taking place at this very moment, however again I am mired to the point of feeling cemented like never before. This is uncomfortable and will come to a head very soon. I cannot even escape to the mountains. Push... Push back.

There is Jennifer and my slipper. I am across the street, the hotel has again grown, and the people on the Strip are like vacationing robots in their blindness. The dragon sits on his perch, writhing and advertising the medieval nature of the big resort, and the revolving door swiftly beckons me to head inside and try again. Well, fuck you. I am going the other way. To hell with the woman, the car, all of it. I am about to seek a way to destroy everything, and for all the good it may do. I might never get out of this fucked up situation and the knowledge I am supposed to be absorbing has escaped my frail grasp. Tired. Just fucking tired of doing this over and over. How many fucking times do I have to die? No answer.

Nothing. Darkness. Is it always night here?

Maybe one more.

Society has jaded itself into something that would have been better avoided. On a daily basis I am reminded of the past and the manner in which people will go to great lengths to perpetuate the same. Well, some things are not funny and have pushed me into a space in which only I fit. I am certain this has taken place over a very long period of time, although no matter the longevity of such a situation, it is completely unacceptable. The media depiction, local discussion, and the way others seem to have a detached view of the subject all add up to a future of the same, if not more. I do not understand, and the latest example of our fucked up wisdom was just this morning. Ridiculous humor at the expense of souls which the fucking writers are unaware. They cannot be held responsible for an individual's feelings, and I will be the first to defend the idea of freedom in creativity. There is always the option to change the channel or turn off the television completely. That cannot be denied on any level. I am a big believer in the idea of choosing to avoid that which a person finds either offensive or otherwise wrong. And no matter the reasoning in their head, they are free to feel it. That is never wrong. What is wrong has become the norm, and such a fact is why I am so unhappy. I have had to remove so many things from my life due to this ongoing bullshit that I have missed out on many an occasion out of both fear and discomfort. I will not deal with this fucked up societal mindset for much longer before I turn into a raging fucking storm. I simply will not. But no one will notice anyway. Things just keep rolling along and seem fine to many. The opposite is also true. There is no escaping the inequities. I keep trying and trying, moving forward as best I can, but in the end I falter. Isolation from everything which feels wrong seems the only choice. Fuck me. Alone. We are not headed anywhere good. Take that statement, write it down, and shove it into your insensitive, sheep ass. Fuck me? Fuck you.

I am going to avoid the damned hotel completely and head south to my cozy home away from home.

'Who says there is no value in cheap hooch? Me, a few months ago. This evening's festivities are slow and mellow -- perfect for our favorite damaged writer. Nice and cozy in the recliner with whiskey and laptop. This is the Friday I have wanted for weeks but could not achieve.

Oh, I am certain the comfort and joy will wear off soon and give way to the dark side, but until then I am going to roll with it. The dark side cannot be removed and the fun knoweth. The writer knoweth. We ALL knoweth (especially after years of drunken and suicidal blogs). Thy end be known, young boy who reeks of old man. Old, tired, beaten man with those bags so heavy. Bags filled with shit and sludge and detritus from decades past. Bags with locks so tight that no one should unlock them. Bags, forever.

Just bags.

Until the bags are illuminated and the fun is shot to death, the evening is nice.'

And there it is... Glowing with that massive light pointing to the cosmos. God help me, there had better be a room and some comforts available to me so that I can sit and think in peace. Too much has taken place for my head to follow clearly. And I feel something... Nearby. I do not know of the source, but there is a presence that I cannot deny. Hmm... Anger? Resentment? I slowly scan the intersection from my place above the streets and see only tourists going about their vacations. More searching. Nothing out of place. Stop. Wait. Look. And then I see him, coming from the Dracorum revolving door. Yes, the gunman, but without the rifle. That does not matter in the least. He is still a huge threat to me so I have to get the fuck out and away before I am noticed. Into the crowd I blend as my head starts to consider his meaning in this world. I know who he is but do not wish to deal with it right now. Too difficult.

To the Luxor.



722



Trotting along a haphazard path through the crowd and into the giant castle helps me to feel invisible. I believe I can get all the way through and out the back with enough cover to ensure he does not see me, although his turn to the right upon exiting the fucking dragon hotel means he is either instinctively knowledgeable regarding my whereabouts or cognizant of my destination. For years I have been a proper broken record when it comes to my preferred areas on the Strip, and I cannot change that. My comfort is often derived from familiarity and routine, so leading myself to the pyramid just may be a mistake. Hopefully, the security of that fucking heavy door and solid locks can help. Only the dragon made it through. The gunman is just that... A man.

All the way through and past the sports book reminds me of that wondrous trip years ago with friends to see a concert at the MGM. We were there only two nights, but the entire time was enjoyable and fairly relaxing. Of course, I had the typical ups and downs of being in the fold of a sex- and money-driven destination, however my brain knows it too well to fall off a cliff easily. I understand the machine and from where it came. I really do, and the picturesque females are always going to be present. I dealt with it then, and came out the other side just fine. The distraction of the show and the company of others really did the trick. I never wished to jump out the window. That should be funny.

'During my physical yesterday, the doctor recommended that I be on medication. Hmm... She mentioned that last year as well but I'll b damned if I heeded that advice. Of course, I realize that brain chemistry is viewed quite differently than in decades past. I really do. The simple fact is that I did not use any chemicals to make me the way I am, so I have difficultly believing that they can make me the way others believe I should be. Does that make sense? Oh, well... It does not fucking matter anyway. I will not take medication for anything aside from a headache. Hearing any more shit from anyone about what I may or may not need is not something to which I will react well.'

The self-parking areas of both resorts are swamped with people. Wonderful, and just what I need to get to my cozy destination without issue. Through the doors and to the nearest inclinator for escape on high. And holy fucking shit, Robin, there is a key card in my back pocket. Damn, shit, yes. Thirtieth floor, around the corner to my five-digit home. Once inside, I throw every damned lock on the door and make my way to the angled window for a view north. But I cannot see shit from there. If he did indeed follow me all the way to the Luxor, I will not know it until a knock or gunfire. I am stuck.

Those who know me well (and they are damned few) are kind, caring, sensitive, and understanding, but still my brain computes that with all of my issues I may end up nothing more than a pain in the ass. I can't deny such an idea, either. Each day shows me something which hurts and then I become overly sensitized to every word. That can't be easy for them and I worry over it much of the time. The person I have become was shaped by society, incidents that are unforgettable, and even when enjoying something I am reminded of the nature of me. I am reminded that my head can rarely relax enough to ease others when they are nearby. Sometimes I wish to lash out at everything and then it calms and I turn inward, badly. I do not know what to do. Accepting myself for who I am is the most difficult idea imaginable. I made it through Marine Corps recruit training, yet dealing with myself feels incomparable.

Knock. Knock. Fuck me. Room service? Heh. I need a drink.

The peep hole... The gunman, with a smile. What?

He knows I am looking. His hands come into the fisheye view and gesture a prayer, as if to plead that I open the door. Fuck, do I? The man I have been avoiding may wish to speak, and I have been killed so many times that I already know if it happens again I will be right back here in a blink. Fuck it, unlock, open. The man steps across the carpet line and immediately removes his hat in an old-fashioned and respectful gesture. In his other hand is a bottle of whiskey which appears aged. Door closed, and he steps to the window without a look back. I still know who he is, but I do not wish to face that fact until forced to do so. It is frightening.

'Join me for a drink?'
'Sure.'

Two glasses and another smile. No ice. Ugh. He must truly be straight out of the old west. We sit across the polished table from each other and the man goes into a well-rehearsed diatribe about my life. As I listen and watch him speak while swilling the whiskey with nary a flinch, I realize that his words are like another's... Julia. Her wisdom and caring nature are coming through clearly, and as odd as that seems, I know he is being truthful and genuine. A long period passes as he slowly and very articulately puts forth much thought that he wishes me to take to heart. How can I not? Years of very detailed memories flow across the table and nearly have me in tears. His demeanor is strong, powerful, confident. I cannot help but look upon him with envy, as he seems to exhibit all those masculine traits which have escaped my grasp for a lifetime. His chiseled face shows wear, like immeasurable time spent in the dust and with difficulties I could not imagine. Stoic, resilient, and above the simplicities which have the uncanny ability to break me into pieces. I feel more fragile and weak than before the first train ride through the freezing winter.

A long pause, a deep draw off the glass and then he refills both. More. I am all ears.

There is a word and associated context which has become pervasive and I can take little more of it. No, not that one... The other one. You may already know. I will not say. There needs to be more art and less dirt in the images upon which so many choose to sail. They band together and support each other in the humor. They are the fucking dirt. Hear me. Break it.



723



I am getting tipsy by the one-hour mark of his lesson. And I do not know if it will help me or if I will scrape it away like everything else that comes out of someone's mouth and relates to my condition. I just don't know right now, but still listen. I am reminded of that Russian woman who cared and pushed me to give her nothing other than truth, and then her calm reaction to me stating my possible intent. She was tall, exotic, and beautiful... Quite the reverse of this weathered man from a time when there was no choice other than rising to the needs and demands of the time. A simple time, it would seem. She caressed me gently with her wording, exuded a quiet confidence in her expertise, calmed me to the point of nearly giving in, but in the end I forced the issue and ended up bowing to a locked room. The gunman will do no such thing. He can knife me, shoot me, any number of other things as well, but I already know none of that will take place in my cool room. He is not here for that. He is here to help. I know that fact securely and I know who he is. Damn it, I have no words to send back across the table. Unlike the gorgeous therapist, I am at his mercy. Frozen solid and hearing everything. I cannot push.

Into the gray of my mind.

'Do not turn to the gray. Avoid it, try, and learn.'
'I cannot rise.'
'You can, and you must.'

And with that, he solidly slams the remaining alcohol and rises with half a smile and a nod.

'You can. Do not be me.'

What the fuck does that mean? Be him? What? How? I could never... Not in this life and with all the training in existence, no way. The man reaches inside his vest, produces a leather sling, shoves the bottle inside and throws it to his back. Several steps later and with a tip of his hat, the man is out of my room. Splendid. I am full of questions and a lack of understanding for the millionth time. Fuck me in a spittoon, anyway.

Back to the chair and left to my own devices.

'The champagne is my lover. It caresses, flows, and binds my fear to something unreal and unimaginable. Pictures of my life float along a river of cold and bubbly failures along with portraits of acquaintances both affected and ineffective. The river carries me from myself, from my depression, far from my day, and into the dreamy locales of which I have searched seemingly endlessly and with futile sober efforts. The river licks at my senses and whispers laments into my disjointed mind where flurries of fright and cold feeling wind their way along my future path. My path lies before me -- dim, foggy, aslant, frigid, and drawing me into its frozen embrace as the blood is drawn from my veins and replaced by the loving alcohol overtaking my precious yeast. My path is sullen, somber, downtrodden and dull. My path is reckoning, calling, stifling, and anemic. My path is fear, paralysis, pain, and death.

My path is nigh.

I will be it, know it, love it, accept it, follow it, and die within it. I will be its victim and its guide; its parent and its spawn; its life and its death; its living body and its corpse.'

Out the window I see the lights and the dark. I see that fucking dragon writhing and spitting fire. I see my past, too. All of it. The women, money, booze, food. The pathways treaded over and over in search of the type of comfort which helps me to escape myself and feel important, wanted, needed. I see nothing else. I see no future.

The gray of me. Not gray matter, just the color. The in-between, the netherworld, the void. Me.

I have to get out of this room and be among people who are happy, or at least appear to be. Inside might be a pile of worry and crap, but if they seem to be enjoying themselves I can follow a bit. Not much, but perhaps enough to keep me going until that inevitable demise that I know is waiting. After having found it so many times, I just know. To the bar. Yep... The fucking Nile, no matter if my head fills with the goddess Juliette or not. I must drink myself stupid. You know.

Do you enjoy the interstitials? I don't care. They remind me of the Mojo/Esquire girl. Live with them.

'I am drowning in confusion and regret. The loss of my past and its suffocating lead into my bleak future is almost entirely too much to bear. The time to come is dark, brooding, and awaiting my arrival. I float through the waves of black and bloody memories, spiraling into a dismal and lonely place inhabited by all but pictures of my late mistakes.

I am also realizing my interest in the female form has not only grown into something much more important than the appreciation of physical attractiveness, but has also spidered my mind into the realm of the still-picture voyeur. I fear this obsession will eventually strengthen and further my need beyond the simple image and into the fiery world of people's private lives.'

I am threatened yet have no place to be. That is inside, as I have stated before. I know it, but still I feel it. I am wrong, weak, and with the deepest and most cemented lack of fucking confidence imaginable. I am out of balance to a degree I had not thought possible. My head simply will not stop. It. Will. Not. The fucking references are going to kill me -- sure as hell -- be it now or later, I do not know. But the one fact remains that aside from what has been done to me and helped such a feeling to develop, much of it is me. Just me. The fucking gray inside. My fucking skin should be gray as an indication for others to stay the fuck away. I am to be avoided if they wish to continue life without being saddled with my bags of shit. Avoided, like anything damaging. Turn the wheel and steer yourselves elsewhere. I will never improve. Only one direction is possible. I will not apologize, either, because it is not all my fault. Some, yes, but not all.

Some. Gray. Fucked. And so alone on an island of knowledge that I cannot begin to conceive a bridge.

The Nile. God how I love it. A small, comfortable bar in the middle of the casino sights and sounds and always with space. I just love it to no end. Yes, Juliette left me here for a time as she prepared a surprise for me on the twenty-ninth floor. What took place after is tattooed on my soul. Beauty, warmth, wonder, love. Yes, love. All of it. The tall, handsome bartender welcomes me into the fold of the drinking culture with a smile and firm handshake. I am reminded of that trip way the fuck back when I sat there and inquired as to the possibility and direction of some 'horizontal entertainment'. Heh. Damn that was funny at the time. I have to push all that to the rear and consider the words ingrained in me by that man I know. Yep... I fucking know. Don't ask.



724



Scotch and no conversation. Others pay little attention, as they should. They are on their own vacations and have no reason to socialize beyond the group. I, on the other hand, have equal motivation in the same direction. My needs are clear. Leave others alone and deal with the ongoing situation in this non-goblet, or whatever it may be. The gunman told me to rise and stop fearing the possible consequences of my actions. Be assertive and forthright. Yep... The fucking opposite of the first five-plus decades. Right. I will not completely ignore his wisdom. I have to at least try to slay the issues (dragon?) and head in some other direction rather than falling into my routine of drowning within a woman's arms. Can I? Questioning myself is an act of which I am very familiar. There is no response, however. Nothing forthcoming. So far, I am left with the idea that perhaps the Dracorum lounge and Jessica's enticing ass should not be in my future. If I truly have to do something different, that may be a part of it. Or the whole enchilada. But do I ever need the heroin. What a wreck.

The television can be forced to do my bidding. Heh. I mentioned a Cherry 2000, remember? Keep thinking of that. Control.

But that is all. My second drink arrives after I have successfully ceased dwelling upon the wondrous and dreamy bliss that Juliette and I shared. My path must remain clear. No more scorpions.

I wonder what will happen if I just sit here and drink until I fall off the stool. Will security come and escort my drunken ass back upstairs? Or maybe I can cause a big scene and see if they throw me out of the club. The cameras are everywhere. Rob a dealer? No... That is all too ridiculous. Not me. Not my style. More thinking is the only avenue available to me right now. Life intrudes upon my delicate soul. Test after test after fucking test. Is that what this has been? Why? Do others go through this? Do I fucking care about what they are doing? Maybe not. Maybe it's just me, within, all over my face, brooding behind me like that shadow that Carl Jung postulated. Or maybe I did it. I keep doing it. Destiny? Darth Vader again? Damn, that guy gets around.

No, none of that. My head just will not cease the overall quotient of life and the things in those heavy bags. The shit, as it were. Every single fucking time I go through the door to the outside and tamper with my ability to keep it together in public, something comes along (out of my fucking control, believe it) to derail my abilities. Before that, I rise a bit, and afterward I fall into the pit of blackness and see only one way to survive. One other part of my head has been preoccupied since yesterday, and it is a small part which does not affect anything else already in process. The rub seems to be expression, and the rest will be very unclear. Questions may abound, mysteries may arise, but fuck it anyway. One short article today about a book which was published within the last half-decade and my analysis machine kicked into overtime and began to heat out of control. Everything has since cooled, but as always the damage remains in that four-dimensional file cabinet known as my brain. The information will be in there -- floating like shit in water -- for the duration. Or at least until such time as I deem an end necessary. Floating in the gray of the gray.

I cannot stay here. I must go back upstairs and eat alone, after which I can work on something, anything I might be able to accomplish which will birth some answers. Half-in-the-bag certainly helps. A little recklessness can go a long way when the consequences do not matter. Well, they do to an extent. Whatever decision is made regarding how to proceed in this fucking world will likely find me dead anyway, so if I can at least get one step further in the understanding than last time, there is a benefit. Time will tell.

Check, tip, handshake, bye. To my room again. Still dark as hell outside. Right.

Upon entering, I see a trolley with lots of silver, the table set elegantly with appointments I saw way back years ago, and something set apart. What do I see? The two cocktail glasses have been reduced to one full glass, and next to it is a bandoleer containing an object I know from the service... It is a fragmentation grenade. Very interesting. I wonder who may have left that here. Yep. And the setting is just as in the past. Lobster, salad, side dishes, bread, water and a bottle of bourbon. Wow, what a blast to my memory. I had this exact meal just before taking a long walk to the Studio Cafe in the MGM and meeting Lena for some quiet conversation. Unreal. The forces at work in this world continue to surprise and confound me, for all the good they may be doing. Well, I am hungry after swilling for a while, so with napkin donned, I enjoy an outstanding meal. The grenade sits there ominously as I ponder what may come of it.

Hmm... An idea.



725



I am going to be Gandalf. That may sound funny, but since I keep dying anyway, I may as well try to take out the dragon at the same time. If I fail, who cares? I am living as if life has become 'Groundhog Day'. There seem to be no consequences to my actions and I can imagine little reason not to attempt another. With a full belly and the bandoleer crossing my heart, I step out the door and toward the stairwell.

'God damn it I need some fucking time. This busy business is going to drive me the fuck out of here. Work? Don't care. House? Don't care. Sister? Cannot live without her. Jesus. I cannot handle all of this very well right now. I need all of the booze in town to let this shit float away from my disheveled head. The therapist is going to crap herself when I unload a year's worth of issues in one sentence along with a pallet of fucking tissue.

This situation is frightening me enough to give up completely. I should be able to handle things like a real grown-up adult, but I continue to cower and hide like the small child inside me.

That child is ready and yearning to fucking run.'

The rooftop looks as if the only visitors are those performing maintenance and repairs. The top of the hotel tower is not terribly attractive. A quick look around reveals another person up here... Way across on the opposite side. Ignore. No, wait... That person is coming this way. A male. The gunman? Someone else? I keep close to the door vestibule in hopes that it provides cover. I am right. Whoever that is over there has not noticed movement in my direction at all. They seem to be focused toward the boulevard or something further. Time to duck and hide. Behind the shed, down low, and into a small corner barely large enough to hold me without casting a shadow from the lighted sign above. I think I am safe from that person seeing me. Stay down. My heart is pounding like this is the climax of a mystery novel and I have reached the last page for the big reveal. Nope. I do not hear steps on the gravel. I hear air handlers and wind, nothing more. Maybe a peek...

His back is turned. Good. I see the sling and the whiskey. It is the gunman. Heart rate? Lowered.

I have to somehow get around to the face of the parapet and see how I can line myself up and drop onto the big creature's head. The roof is enormous... I had no idea there would be this much space up here. I can sneak across to the crawlway and hide myself low to get around the perimeter. Yes! I step as quietly as possible directly away from the gunman's back and reach the edge in seconds. Turn, go, make the trip. Don't stand there and marvel at the fucking view like a squareheaded tourist, dummy. Go. But seeing the other gigantic resorts from this perspective is amazing. I cannot help but stare for a second. Just wow, all that has been built here over decades is unreal. I guess there truly is no end to the fucking cash.

I make my way stealthily and present as little aspect as I am able, rounding the two corners without issue. The gunman remains unmoving. Hmm. Whatever. I need to get around a little further before diving into oblivion with a fucking smile on my face. Hold it... Is that dragon mechanical? It flew up into the massive, hollow pyramid, right? Did I dream that shit? No way. Much too vivid and I cannot remember dreaming about anything but a woman's arms around me. It has to be real. I will jump anyway. There it is, directly below at what must be several hundred feet. Again I have to look out at everything because I am about to jump to my death for the second time. At least now I do not feel compelled to commit suicide so much as I just need to have that fucking dragon at my mercy for a change. Or -- as all of my past words can attest -- the need can be viewed as solving two problems. I no sooner begin to overanalyze (as usual) when I feel a tap on my shoulder. Turn, there he is, again with a grin. Do I have questions? Yes, just one, but more a statement. In a flash which feels like a microsecond and an eternity at the same time, my heart floods with everything as if the dam has been holding volume my entire life. All of it, the women, my loves, the slipper, the wedding, the fucking Raven, the other goddess, and my never-ending unwillingness to bend in any fashion to appease or bow to another person. Perhaps there is strength within after all. Um... Perhaps not, because before one more flash within my brain, I break down worse than anything since Florida. I drop, cry heavily at the gunman's polished boots, and attempt to look up and address him without sounding like a child. One knee, the other, and then one foot. He grabs my hand and loses that handsome smile, and then the words I need to get out finally come forth...

'I know who you are.'
'I am you.' And he is gone again.

All at once I have had enough. Dying, living, the gray, fuck it. I pull the pin, the spoon flies away, and...

I jump."



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