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The Raven




02-08-2020 05:18 pst

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Orpheus and the Only Saving Throw


"Destruction, not only of everything I see, but of my inner self. Entrails. Offal. Whatever. I don't care anymore and that position is not going to change no matter the eons which may pass. None of it. Count on it. Watch it happen. You are witnessing the beginning of the end. Yep... As many times as I have employed that fucking phrase, this is the real thing. Between the Christmas trees and my fucking birthday, I had thought things were bad. Now, however, the tilt is far worse than I could ever have imagined. There is no longer any reason to try, and this is only the beginning. I cannot expect to do any more good for others. A line has been pushed behind me and is unrecoverable. Forward no longer means forward. All of the vast beauty that exists in the world has been permanently reduced by a measure due to my actions. Again. Yes, it can return and flourish, but that would mean an explosion. The fence does not seem to end. I am unhappy on top of it and I am unhappy being unable to see a gate. Is there a gate? Who fucking cares? It's me... And that means others are going to go on believing what they have for the duration of me living here.

My hope has waned for years. It is gone.

Jesus fucking Christ, what a mess. From the bridge, I see the entire front half of the ground floor is gone. Reminds me of an explosion during one episode of ST:TNG. Fucking mess. And still it is night. So many days and nights, so many places. What to do? Is everything going to just sit on my head and slowly destroy me? That dragon... Hmm. Yes, I know what it likely represented in my life, however destroying it may not be permanent. I just do not know. What I do know is that I am no different as a result of such an attempt to rise. There may be no rising. Nothing. I really did a number on the hotel after deciding to just fucking blow up that monster and come back to see the pieces. I actually like it, but that feeling is backed by the worry that I may never get out of this shit. I love the goblet, but this is not it.

'While the weather remains mild (yet on the edge of pissing me off with these 60s), the internet remains warm and heating ever more. I am here within the fold but noticed by few. The wonders of this medium and dynamic fluidity of content and compromise may well be the only transportation of yours truly up and out of the dull gray of insignificance. As I sit in this chair the fucking film industry is losing its once-revered magical pull on our backward society, and the dreaded dreams of being of some consequence are fading in its wake.

Perhaps my relegation to a life of nothingness is destined to consume.

The hopes of that wondrous (to me) and overinflated (to most) facet of entertainment are still embedded deep within my psyche despite the distancing I have attempted since Sunday last. The truth is I let myself become delusional yet again. That was a clear and knowing mistake. I ventured into another representative film with the speed and blindness of a vampire bat. I sat and watched and drank and watched. I even laughed for a moment before realizing that I was viewing my life as it meandered into the souring sewer of nothingness and obscurity. I cannot put a stopper in that drain any more than I can stop the gin, rum, vodka, bourbon, beer, and wine from flowing and allowing its fantastic perspective-correcting and lovingly sloppy embrace from swallowing my miserable drunken soul. The alcohol loves me and is the only saving throw versus Hollywood's deep dagger into my frail frame. Hollywood's dagger? My dagger? Who the fuck knows? Either way, that rusty blade has embedded itself and become my sole motivation for continuing to spew the sharp words for which I am known.'

Several years ago I was invited to venture into the DeYoung museum for an exhibit headlined by none other than Vincent Van Gogh. Initially I hesitated -- having little to no knowledge of art -- but eventually went out of curiosity. The museum had recently gone through an extensive remodel and was very beautiful. So was she. More than I can put into words. Many of the places with which I accompanied her were chosen merely to be close. The trip in question soon showed me something which caused much more.

'Orpheus', by Gustave Moreau. The painting was the original, and its sheer dimensions caught me off guard for a time. I could not believe my eyes as they perused the canvas. I will not go into detail, but suffice to say that it is famous for many reasons, not the least of which is mood. A million words cannot express what one glance absorbs. I stood and stared for a long while, eventually having to pull myself from the stream of viewers and stand back as they filed past Orpheus and the other paintings surrounding that masterpiece. I was in love in seconds and could not wrench myself from that spot for quite a while. All around the area were originals by Monet, Cezanne, and others, but upon laying my tired eyes upon that woman and the lyre, I was all in.

Now there is something nearly that beautiful, and close. But not close. Right over there, but a universe away. It is nearly gone for good. The other one is most decidedly gone. And I have holes in my being from both. Both? Really? No... More than that. There are many, beginning with the fucking dream all the way back more than sixteen years ago and leading up to just a few days passed. The God's honest truth about everything is that I reached every fucking time, and in a direction which had been ill-advised. I knew it, headed in such a way, and later braced myself for the fallout. And there it is... A pattern which has not changed. Every single thought in my head, each glance toward a woman, and all of the desire which grew over years and years have reduced me to a frail, wisp of a man. No recovery, no chance.



Gustave Moreau's Orpheus

Nearly the most dramatic beauty I have ever seen



The dragon appears to be everywhere right now. Fire trucks, police, tape, bystanders, the whole shootin' match as a result of my dive off the roof. And maybe one more bystander: The gunman was up there, too. He had to have seen it, although considering how often he has appeared and disappeared to and from thin fucking air, he may have traveled halfway around the planet before the thing detonated. I have no idea. The one certainty is that I did this. I made the mess. Too many times I have been dropped here to either learn or grow, and so far I have not accomplished either. Maybe I am a complete idiot, but I figured I am intelligent enough to eventually figure this out and move on. I suppose not. Other aspects of life have demonstrated my penchant for causing difficulty and damage on a grand scale throughout the course of many years. Others can attest. They already have. Right now I do not see options other than going back to the pyramid and becoming hammered at the Nile. Maybe something will come strolling along and shoot me.

I know that the threat is still out there, somewhere. Left turn. Opposite side of the Strip. Bye.

The bar welcomes me as always... Warmth, comfort, everything. The only difference is that the bartender is now female and strikingly attractive. If she knows what is good for her, she will avoid my advances. I have been a syndrome before, but this is much worse. The negative rake of my brain cannot recover, so I decide to just sit and remain quiet. If the others knew me, they would thank me. Now is the time when I need the gunman to appear and pop me a new asshole right in the forehead. Anything... Anything which can turn off the shit in my brain. The alcohol will dramatize and blur it for the time being, but eventually I will be right back in the same soup. Dying doesn't help, either.

After some time passes and the boozy relaxation sets in, I begin to think in a very defeated manner, as if I am stuck here in this purgatory for all time. No matter what I seem to attempt, things end up exactly the same. Again... Like an episode of a science fiction program. Julia does not seem to wish to approach me, the little Julie disappeared, and the pain which I have created is haunting me. Sitting at the Nile and seeing the past glory of this Egyptian palace would normally have me all excited and comfortable. Right now, and considering the recent crevasse into which I have thrown others, I do not see that happening. In ninety-four, the place had me floating. Now? Dying inside.

A glance to the rear and I see outside is still dark. And then...

'Do you know what you have to do?' Fuck.

I need that like I need dragons frying me to ash. Damn it, Julia's voice again, and this time there is more urgency in her tone. What the fuck? I have gone in any number of fucking directions for many days, both in this odd, desert circumstance, and on two trains. I can't even flip the fuck out because nothing changes. Am I supposed to change myself? Impossible. Years have shown me that at the very least all I can do is seek comfort. Yes, I just ruined and removed the most comfort I have felt in years, and I know that no matter where I go or what I do it will not return. That is also impossible. I placed myself in this state so long ago that it feels like a home I have been neglecting to embrace. No happiness, discomfort, reaching in every direction for something to which I can grab hold and feel better. Nope. And the thought that I am right where I should be keeps my reach to a minimum most days. If I am truly destined to be miserable -- and if I feel that life deservedly so -- why should I attempt anything? Why not just sit here until time takes me away? Do you have the fucking answer? Never mind. Sometimes I lash. Scratch it.

Scotch number two. Just enough ice. Dim lighting. All I have.

Yes, Julia, I know what I have to do. Stop belaboring the fucking point already. There are two things, actually, and I know. On the ledge I thought I had the answer, but alas I was dead wrong. Julie was up there nodding and shaking her head which helped me to believe that stepping off was correct. As I soared to the ground, I was certain. Two things, although one of them was far back at that point. Now it is in the forefront of everything. Or are their three? The two started to become intertwined, they fed off each other on occasion, and then separated when I decided that I could work with just one at a time. But three? Fuck. Julia doesn't care. Or maybe she really does. I don't know anymore. The bartender glances every now and again to see if I am doing ok. As far as the seat, atmosphere and drink, I am fine. The Nile has always been cozy. Other than that, there is nothing she can do for me. Nothing. Even if I lunge and get a positive response, take her upstairs and drown in a warm embrace, I will soon enough be right back here or dead. Big sip. Yummy.

'Five in the morning. Darkness all around. Into the vehicle I climb, and as I crank the engine something catches my eye in the now-bright headlights. Her. From down the street. Of all the individuals to pass my position so early on a weekday, there she was. Walking slowly and beautifully, headphones in, jeans, sweatshirt. Her. Wow.

The Lexus girl.

I watched her cruise along the sidewalk and realized I was seeing a rare gait. Only a handful of occasions allowed me to see that girl despite us living so close. Slow. Thoughtful. Early. Why was she out there so early and in the dark? Gathering thoughts? Enjoying the quiet? Or something else? The manner of her motions was as a stroll, as if she was cruising a boardwalk and taking in the sights. Quite slow. Arms swinging, soft steps, gorgeous beyond words. The time was at hand for me to leave, but I wanted only to drive behind her and watch as long as possible. No. I had to be somewhere. Her beauty nearly kept me there.

As I drove by, she turned to look.

I rolled to pick up my passenger and left for the store. As we followed the street to the first stop sign, there she was walking toward the same. Or the beach. Neither? Somewhere else? I will never know. Again she turned as we passed. To the store, out, highway, gone for the day. And my head was all the way in. Her. What a sight. Beautiful, mysterious, and elusive. I had only spied her from a distance in the past. Likely two hundred feet away exiting her car, but even from half a block I could see all the aspects over which I have agonized and tormented. Yes, those aspects. So beautiful.

She is not real.'



730



'Remove the facade.'

Yeah, right. That is the only device I have left to keep myself upright. As the booze continues to flow, I see more and more couples strolling by from the garage and inclinator. The time must be nearing dinner for most people. Not for me. I have no idea of what to do and eating is not really something I am feeling. Julia's voice carries on without missing a beat, others do not seem to be paying attention to me, and I am beginning to believe that I am invisible and will be stuck here forever. Damn it. At least the dreams of the goddesses keep me somewhat centered. The comfort of my beloved Nile begins to sink in. I dream of being there with Juliette, but this is different. All the way back -- two-and-a half decades to seeing it for the first time and realizing what the south end had become in my absence. That memory was part of the drive when I dashed out of work and made a beeline for the one place I knew would cradle me. And it did. Juliette was a dream among dreams, however those early memories with my dad as well as by myself take me away. All of a sudden I am comfortable, and for the first time in days I am unconcerned with any threats. They exist, no doubt, but for the moment I am free of both. Both? Three?

Hmm... The facade. Fuck you, and stop bothering me. A smile from the bartender as I drop the remaining scotch. Wow is she ever gorgeous. Do I start all over and throw myself at her? Maybe I can end up in her arms for a while. At this point, I have nothing else going on and really do not give a fuck if anything comes along and kills me. The woman leads my well-educated eyes back and forth following her walk as if I am watching a tennis match. The more I look at her, the more I see. And then pressure. Time for a push.

And she responds in the positive. I am reminded of Sandra and her themed makeup way back when. God damn, that woman was gorgeous and exotic. As we converse here and there about the club and its newness, I begin to see more than a beauty across the bar. She is very kind, with big, emotional eyes, and looks at me as if she might be in the same type of soup as I. Huh? Does that mean this world could have been created to teach someone else a lesson? Wow... I had not thought of that until this very moment. Now I really need to speak with her in private. No, not that. Just words.

The idea floors me like never before. I look at her and feel that whatever is going on in her pretty head is beyond the facade, further in than the rest of these robotic people. Deep, knowing, and possibly far out of her element, just as me. Yes, I love being in the warm embrace of the goblet, but I also know that this is not real. Could the duchess behind the bar be here for similar reasons? I have to know, and at the same time if I am incorrect the fall will be harsh. I need something outside what has been the norm here for days, and a woman in my space with knowledge outside is just the thing. I need it... I need something to change. Plus, she is beautiful. Is that good? Well, yes and no. I am drawn to her type like a gnat into a bug zapper, and generally coming out the other side finds me wrecked and weakened by the experience, but at this point in time I do not give half a shit about anything which can ruin me. I am convinced that death is at the end of every step, so why not go into it while wrapped in the warm arms of a gorgeous woman? Maybe? Please? She still smiles as I slow my pace. I have to know. She is beyond beautiful and reminds me of the softness that Andrea exuded toward my broken self at every turn from Texas to Florida and beyond. She is fucking tall enough to be intimidating and that is only offset by a pair of eyes that seem to go on forever. Deep, dark, and full of thought. Her makeup is impeccable -- again bringing thoughts of the way Andrea presented herself every single time we strolled out the door of the Polynesian. Just stunning from every conceivable angle.

The wind feels good. Cool, but nice. In October that wind comes out of the East and heats up my shit attitude for days. In January, there is very little heat. Mild. Mellow. No leaves. The downside is the month. Everything between the middle of winter until the outset of September is crap and needs to be kept at bay. Hiding, streamlining, reducing. The days in the cave come to mind as I did basically the same thing back then for a couple of months in the fall. By the time I moved, well, lots of things had gone out the door. Now is the time. Whatever may take place in the coming days and weeks will be easier and more organized if I have fewer possessions.

To the rear, march.

She looks at me with a combination of sympathy and need, as if she may be trying to convey her understanding and ask questions at the same time. She is -- quite literally -- the most interesting person I have run across yet. This place is otherworldly and she appears to be real despite so many things being out of place and odd to the point of confusion. Could it be true? I must ask. And then I see her name tag... Jaime. Damn it, another 'J'. What is that all about? Whatever. The question pours out of me like water from an overflowing sink. Jaime leans in quickly with wide eyes and immediately asks that I follow her when she takes her break in a little bit. Holy fuck, yes. I ask her for water in an attempt to clear the cobwebs from my brain and maintain myself enough to understand this new development. My head is spinning with possibilities. For the first time since being in this faux-goblet, I feel hope. Focus, dummy, and try to avoid being blinded by desire. What a fucking situation. As I look around the large space, others are still going about their business with nary a glance to what may be happening at the Nile. Just... Wow.



732



'In other matters, I spent the better part of two damned hours driving home this afternoon. Two hours? Just to get home from work? Yes, as a matter of fact that is a wonderful reason not to ever go to work again. I have already surpassed an entire lifetime's worth of commuting hours. I have caught my limit, as it were. Perhaps we need to bring on some type of fucking drunken reaction and hop the country. Making revolutions for a journey to a place where no one knows of all of my inner limits and flaws seems desirable more than ever.

The Goddamned society here in California is so driven by consumption of material goods (and, yes, fuck you. I know I am in the same shitty soup so don't even fucking say it), that I need a break. I need to see people who are happy about the trees and sky, not the car dealer and mall (although, the mall here always seems to hold more than its share of beautiful young women! If I could just bring a few home for some lovely experimentation!).

Anyway, I am dissatisfied as usual. Also disappointed in everything around me: work; cars; other people; even the liquor cabinet, believe it or not. I seem to have a preponderance for the usage of dis-. Dissatisfaction, disappointment, disillusionment, and even disastrous behavior.

The time for spiraling approaches my head at alarming and destructive speed and I am helpless to move out of the way. This will not be good. If I could just be a person of some sort of consequence. But alas, such is not to be. I get one life and do not take advantage of anything. Lovely.'

Upon slamming the water and sitting with a head full of wonder, Jaime steps to me with a smile and tosses a single word...

'Come.'

Fuck yes.

I can hardly keep up with her long stride. The woman has to be over six feet tall with the heels and each step is as graceful as an angel floating across the clouds. I am watching her motions and trying to calculate from where she may have come while gazing at the gait. Andrea walked toward the exit many times as we left our room in Disneyworld and I stared in a similar manner because there was no understanding of how she could have been so aligned with my ever-expanding mental maps of the female form. Jaime has all of it, and to focus upon learning is going to be difficult. Along the walk toward the rear parking garage we go, all of it creating fog in my brain.

Stop. Turn. God damn she is beautiful.

'Meet me after my shift, please, ok?'
'Absolutely.'

I immediately hand Jaime my room key, which she snatches just as quickly. Holy shit, my room. How many times? No sooner is the card jammed into her pocket (and there does not seem to be much room in those jeans aside from her body), and Jaime trots off to the back of house where I cannot follow. No matter, the meeting is set and I am spinning in circles with possibilities. What a fucking turn of events. My hope is swelling inside as if I just found the key to get the fuck out of this shit, finally. That is a tall order, of course, but hope in any form is a godsend at this point. Jaime is not only interesting and seems to be connected to my circumstance, but her eyes also draw me like a gun. And God damn is she gorgeous from head to toe. There is no way my head can stop thinking of beauty. No. Fucking. Way. In fact, the others have melted away in the space of an hour. Unbelievable. After her shift. Hmm... How slow can the clock move? Or maybe I simply head back to the Nile and await her lovely return. Yep, there it is and off I go.

The filler is working his way around to the patrons as I take the same seat. The chances of my brain operating properly are slim due to the connection just made with Jaime. Does she know all about me like Julia did? Or is she here just as I... A victim of circumstance? Maybe? Hopefully some information and answers are in the near future. I will absolutely lose my mind waiting without some sort of distraction. And then the dream pops in again. Watching her turn to speak with a coworker as her blouse bulged under the stress of trying to keep her breasts in place, seeing that hair swirl in a mass from side to side, and then hearing the click of her boots on the tile drove me to ask for a dinner date. As much as I desired the appearance of such a beauty close to me, the need to be in her arms superseded all of that. I just needed her. Anyone, really, but upon seeing Juliette and the way her eyes looked at me with emotion caused my want to skyrocket into the stratosphere. I could not believe she agreed to meet me just hours later in my hotel. Soon? Love.

And then nothing. God I miss her.

After taking down another glass of water along with a bit of espresso to clear me, I decide to head elsewhere to pass the time. I know that she will be there soon enough and there is no doubt whatsoever within me. For the millionth time, I just know. A feeling, a something. Whatever it is, she knows too. Apparently this is the place where I should have sat before jumping off that fucking roof with the gunman's sharp boots in my head. But how in the fuck was I supposed to know someone like Jaime was here? I did not see any female bartenders in this hotel, just down the block at the scary place. Had I known, perhaps this would be over. Or, perhaps not. Maybe I am thinking too much. The OCD can make me overanalyze quite often. Stop. Blank. Where am I going? There is no Aurora, thank God, but I do not remember any other decent comfort in this place aside from either the steakhouse (and the lovely combination of Grace and Lena) or the Nile. Hmm... Maybe the steakhouse bar where much of this began all those years back.

There is no steakhouse. When did that come along? Fuck it. Back to the bar.



733



And there is Jaime returning to her place of work. I receive a big smile when she notices my approach and it disappears almost as quickly. Wow, I hope the woman is ok.

I perch myself and await her arrival while dreaming of the idea that there may finally be answers to some of my questions. Julia, Julie, and Jennifer (all those fucking 'J' names!) are flying in circles inside my head as I try to ponder the whys of the whole thing. Julia said she was a part of me, Julie indicated that she was there to help (how?), and Jennifer showed me a bag and wrench which did actually help in two ways, but I died after both came to fruition. I am hoping that Jaime is different enough to leave me without any more mystery. I keep thinking of that fucking dragon all blown to pieces and know that if I venture back up the boulevard he will be there again, spewing fire and looking sexy as hell. I know it. Things continue to reset each time I am gone and he will be no different. The gunman will likely show up somewhere, too. Jaime approaches. My head lets go of all the weirdness and fills with her beauty. Damn it.

'One hour, mister.'
'Okay.'

And she drops a cocktail glass for me. Nice. There are more people at the bar, most playing with the video poker and focused upon themselves. I, on the other hand, begin to dream of that woman with me in private, lots of eye contact, and perhaps the closeness which can keep me upright. As I watch her move about the square bar, my eyes find themselves analyzing her shape and wondering what may come next. Only a few occasions have her coming back to me to check on my well-being. She is doing her job, but sweet beyond words. We speak little as the hour moves along. With a wink, I am out and up thirty floors.

Waiting.

My head should be on that lyre. Torn apart for all time. Me.

'I donned my usual blue jeans, turned to head toward our shared closet, and there she stood... Putting on makeup in the mirror. Bent slightly forward to see details, I was left just across the room absolutely floored by the shapes and forms I was seeing. I knew they were there as I had gazed at her in any number of situations for quite some time, but for whatever reason as I looked upon her black jeans, part of my brain fell off like dirt receding into a rushing creek. Yep, my mind eroded to the point of dreaming only of her fucking beautiful legs, atop which that tiny waist screamed out to be caressed. But first... The camera. I stood and squared myself as best I could and shot three images to be appreciated later (and for the remainder of my life). God damn, the woman took me from sense yet again. How many times?'

The lock. It's her. She is here.

The door flies open and Jaime comes to me straight away and latches on tightly. Into my ear, the words are whispered that she has been waiting a very long time to experience the feeling that there is someone else who knows and can identify with her situation. And then she tells me that I am the one in her dreams. What? Me? I had thought Jennifer was the person to help get me out of this fucking purgatory, but in the end all she did was provide me with a tool which could be used in my defense. I could have sworn that she was going to be my exit, or at least a part of it. Jennifer seemed important in some way, like she had the answers and I had to work through it all with clues. I guess not. This new development has thrown me off balance and created another level of worry. Who is Jaime?

Big hug and no more words for a while.

She leads me to the sofa and sits us down, maintaining contact with both of my hands the entire time. As I look into her big, dark eyes, I see much difficulty. I immediately feel the need to care for her just like all of the others, while providing myself a much-needed rest from thinking. We embrace. I can smell her hair, feel her warmth, but do not heat up in any way. I am much more concerned with the situation than I am about some physical comfort. Jaime is stunning from head to toe and I do not understand how she can remind me of several different women at the same time. Traits from all except one. Hmm. As I begin to sink comfortably into her long arms and relax, Jaime stands me up, looks straight into my teary eyes with hands to my cheeks, and speaks...

'I know a way out.'

Holy shit. A saving throw after all this time?"



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