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The Raven




01-11-2020 05:55 pst

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The Exquisite Removal

Part Four

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"The slipper. God how I missed that machine, and there it sits right across the street. The car is off to the side at the entrance and looking as if I just rubbed the hell out of it with the Mother's Show Car Shine. Wow. Pretty, head to toe. I love her.

On the other side of the entrance is a group of people dressed to the nines. That is so nice to see, as these late days have fallen by the wayside when it comes to social occasions in public. Perhaps I am old fashioned, but to look loyally and show respect to an historic establishment is the way I was taught years ago. I still try to follow suit sometimes, and have even rejected the idea of entering certain places if I felt I was not appropriately representing myself and my upbringing. Oh well, seeing them standing there taking photographs does remind me of my family, the past, and enjoyment in Nevada. Nice. Likely twelve or more people looking really nice in dramatic clothing, hair, everything.

Unfortunately, along with the group there is a woman I noticed which forces my head to wish being crushed. She is there with the others but standing out like a McDonalds on the moon. Jesus fucking crap, anyway. I wish I could be different, like just more relaxed about the torment. Perhaps that way I could survive. Sitting here now on this fourth day of January feels the same as yesterday when I published 'Justine'. Could that be her within that group? I don't know. Maybe I should head over there and make some time with her. All the others that I hit on in this ethereal world responded in the positive, although they are all gone along with every other aspect of that nightmare. Even Julie is gone. I was hoping something similar would take place that left her next to me but this is new. I just keep staring at the party over there and remembering those occasions when I was young. Nevada. Family. All of it. Now I am ruined. Fuck me, anyway.

No voices, no Julie, nothing familiar. Just the slipper sitting there glowing.

Since I am alone, there is plenty of time for those two hellish situations to creep in and damage my head. The last few days have found me mostly alone and trying to work through at least one of them. I still feel as much fear as in the beginning, though, and that means anything I might have tried to learn is not working. I keep thinking of Sharon, way back when, and that other therapist who offended me damned-near right off the bat with her comment. That was tough, and instead of me telling stories and beginning to work on the horrible state of my head, I walked out of there after two sessions worse off than when I met her in the first fucking place. I really didn't need that as it was nearly at the root of something which troubled me almost daily. After that I had a hell of a time trying to relax around anyone, let alone a professional. I do not believe that she meant to put me off, just the fact that I think from a diametrically opposed standpoint took control and I was thrown. For a person in that field to send me packing takes quite a slam. Oh well, fuck it anyway. That was years ago and I need to focus upon the reason I am here. A bit of help or even a nudge in the right direction would be nice. I do not wish to die again. The flashbacks begin...

'Embarrassment, shame, and fear of another knowing of the inside of me are creeping in; Embarrassment at my apparent inability to manage my life with the intelligence I hold, and shame over decisions and weak moments or periods. My appointment is hours away yet it seems daunting even now. These feelings are not helping me to get the day started.'

I do not need this shit. What I really could use is some company. I am lonely with my thoughts. I see that the group of people is now moving toward the entrance and away from my slipper. Maybe I can fire it up now and haul my sorry ass out of here. Hmm.

I do not have a key.



705



The worry from the late nineties feels like an annoying group of flies lingering and buzzing in the back of my head, combined with weight. But I am weak now. I can barely handle normal day to day activities and dealing with others. One example is just under a year ago. There was a gathering not far from home which I usually attend with others and that year was no different. We went, cruised the bar and surrounding areas, socialized, and then headed back toward home to regroup before a party that evening. Well, by the time I ventured back out to attend the night's festivities, my brain was soaked with worry and discomfort. I was so far beyond self-conscious that my time there was cut very short. I could not do it. I had to run and hide. Shortly thereafter was the big game but that has already been laid out here. At the time of that writing, the description was the woman in the camel-hair coat just behind me that I was trying to avoid and ended up running into despite my tremendous effort. And then the show, and then the fall. Well, the truth is that the entirety of the day was driven by my fear of that cloaked past returning and catching me off guard. Yes, the woman was a problem due to my weakness and obsession, however the simplicity of sitting there among others became a bulldozer of issues which began to pile up weeks earlier at the other fucking place. There was no up from there, only distraction. Nearly a year later? Fuck you, I will not do it again. The others are just going to need to wonder why I have changed so much in the space of two weeks.

As the group off to my right moves through the big glass doors, the woman in question looks straight back at me and winks with a sympathetic smile. Splendid. Gone.

The late nineties represented one of the worst periods. I was barely hanging on for quite a while and only the passage of time along with loving arms pulled me out of the din. Some of it. I was still partially in the black even after feeling better. This current holiday season which is going to crash into my head in two days reminds me of back then and all of the fear at every turn. There were times I wished to remove my eyes and go through life blinded on the outside just like the inside.

That is all gone. The need now is much worse.

'Everything in this world for me is her. When we are apart, I do not know what to do. When we are together, happiness and comfort fills me. This is all I am anymore. I sit, think, type, and long for her at every moment. Until I see her again, I am just a hole in the world... Helpless, lonely, worried, agitated, uncomfortable, yearning. I need her constantly. She is the only aspect of life which means anything for me anymore. I know not what to do with myself during these moments, so I drink until I sleep. I do not know what else to do. Alcohol helps to pass the time and numb the pain of being away from her. Nothing else can distract me anymore. Nothing. I try but the effort is constantly futile. I cannot live like this for much longer.'

I mentioned weak. And yes, I mentioned it in the last entry too. Well, perhaps that will get the point across. Unfortunately, I cannot be more specific. You are just going to have to live with the mystery and if you can figure it out... Well... Others knowing what is happening inside me is unacceptable. If I learn that this ambiguity and haphazard prose has allowed others to understand the situation I will disappear immediately. I cannot have that. Everything is too embarrassing. Fucking live with it.

Weak and frail. And where did they go? Should I follow inside and see if she still glances at me?

I am unable to concentrate on that right now. My slipper sits there, the shit flowing in circles in my head is getting the best of me, and I am concerned that the sum is going to cause something bad. Yep... A decision which will make others hate me. Before something so horrible takes place, I need to at least try to rise on my own. I can no longer count on any help because every fucking word out of my mouth reveals parts of me so hidden away that the very idea of speaking turns my stomach and sends me into the bottle. Well, there is nothing wrong with a bit of drinking, just not too much. On that front, at least, I am fine. I just need to be mindful of those situations which make me roll into a ball and fight the urge to wipe out the fucking source.

'At this moment I am cognizant of that which happens around me. I recognize the differences between the 'me' which is out there for others to see and the 'me' on the inside that is closed off. I also recognize the dramatic gradient between myself and others. Where most seem to simply accept, I question; when others seem to herd, I individualize and isolate; times when others are pushed to cliche, I seek difference and understanding rather than to remain distant.'

What has this taught me after so many years? Plenty. But have I engaged those lessons? Embraced them? Not at all. I have been caught sharply off guard by the lion's share of this shit and none of it makes me happy. It makes me wish to absolutely shut the fuck down and make others wonder what happened. Yes, I can do that. The words and images which have graced this space for nearly eighteen years can be quickly removed, just like my willingness to speak out loud. Try me. All I need to do is remove one fucking character from one line atop the Master Page and the entirety of this sprawling, sordid wonderland is completely inaccessible. Don't worry. The idea is not likely. I would rather remove myself than this space. It has become my only friend. The code can never be an asshole, never speak to me with disrespect, and never frighten me like each day in the real world. This is binary. People are little, mysterious universes in and of themselves, and as unpredictable as a ground squirrel. The site is simple. I do not ever need to worry about being fucked over by software. Just people. And as much as the issues are in my head and heart, the truth is that I can help myself by creating that separation from them.

Slipper. Damn it.

'People are everywhere and I walk among them. I walk to perform duties but they do not see me. They see tattoos, beard, shabby work clothes, and an introverted soul. A soul hiding behind dark eyes that see them. My eyes see them but thy do not see me. They see what they need and choose, and I see everything else. They are important here. They are important every day. At least I understand that. I hate no one.'

The woman is probably not going to do me any good. See? I can learn. Fuck off, people.

There is a positive which has been noted by me and one other person. The torment which generally follows seeing something better avoided is not as severe as months ago. I do not know if it is on hold, has been eased for one reason or another, or if it has taken a far-back seat to those parts of me which are more difficult to understand. I just do not know at all. True, I have mentioned fear and isolation in two successive entries, and perhaps that is the subconscious taking my fingers across the keyboard like a fucking therapist. That is possible, or perhaps I am becoming more reckless with my words. Either way, the fact remains that the obsession is not flaring. Just yesterday when we were leaving a job, there was a jogger down the street who passed our location at a right angle. When we drove and turned toward the freeway, she was apparently finished at that pace and simply walking along the sidewalk. Well, long blonde hair, the legs over which I have fallen off a cliff (and I mean bad. Seldom have I seen a shape such as hers), and everything fitting Fibonacci and my fucked up head to a tee. The woman would be impossible to describe here and I have done enough of that for a lifetime. She was art of the highest echelon and so fucking gorgeous from head to toe that months ago I likely would have gone on for days about her. I cannot write the descriptives any longer, though. From the market to the bar to everyday sightings, plenty of damage has been laid out here for all to read. Getting back to my supposed topic sentence, I have noticed that the severity of my reaction to seeing a goddess such as mentioned above is likely being tempered by other problems. I am worse, but better? No... Just worse. I don't know. She was amazing and I miss her, however the threats, fear and concern over the beginning of the new year are pushing her away at light speed. Wonderful. I am definitely worse.

Fucked, really.



706



What do I do? The fear is flowing like a two-bit whore at an ill-advised bachelor party.

'Last week I realized that keeping any pertinent details of past events will not help either myself or Sharon in working on the issues I need addressed. While the certainty of that is clear, I still hesitate to reveal some thoughts. In addition to this, there are numerous interrelated subjects which are creeping in to my psyche and providing me with more reasons to be fearful of both the therapy and the possibility of my future happiness. That happiness cannot come at a price as any such would be much too high. I placed one of those details into the light and felt embarrassment. Tremendous embarrassment. The other subjects that I fear may be necessary for me to grow, however, so leaving them in the dark may also leave me in the dark. I know not which is worse.'

Fear and uncertainty. I am going to walk through the doors and find her. As of now, seeking things to make me comfortable along with seeking answers to the questions thrown at me have caused my demise on three occasions. Will this be number four? I do not wish to walk away and lose sight of my precious slipper, but I must go inside and see what's going on. I am reminded of those big, lavish dinners with my family and the group of people I saw might be engaging in something similar. Most of my family is gone now and only memories remain, so being able to view others enjoying what I once did might be heartwarming. Those trips to the high country were wondrous and fun.

I need a fucking Cherry 2000. Yes... THAT one. Don't ask.

Thinking of the plane trips to the mountains and all those big dinners and holiday gatherings years ago has formed me into a ball of memories. Good, bad, otherwise... The memories are there and life in this place is so vastly different that I am having trouble understanding myself here. I saw some of it changing very slowly as the years went by, and now all I can see is that gradient. Graded. Pushed. Narrowed. I am so very narrow now with my life and activities that to look back is like seeing another planet. One in which I had the ability to smile without a lever to force the expression. The whole image of me sitting where I am after so much time has burned away and going about my daily activities is unreal. I am beginning to feel as if my being here is part of the problem. Maybe, I just don't know. I brought myself here, soon after fell through to the fourth plane of Hell while riding along a wave of passion, and then began to slowly dismantle my life in between trips to the goblet and Florida. What remains is shrinking. Yes, my desire and drive are withdrawing into a dark place each day. Soon I will be unavailable for comment. And fuck it all, I am going inside to see if that gorgeous creature smiles at me again. I have nothing else out here and my slipper seems fine for the time being. We go.

'The weekend was half good, half bad. A new friend came to visit my home Friday night and spend the latter part of the evening drinking with me. She is a wild soul, much younger than I, and very attractive. I had trouble keeping my eyes elsewhere. Sitting in the same spot for several hours and consuming all of that booze was probably not the best way to spend the evening, but we did it nonetheless. My head was chemically welded to her pants.

I also attended a graduation party Saturday night for a friend's daughter and the atmosphere was fun. One of the rubs to the evening was, of course, a woman, and the other was my difficulty controlling my alcohol intake. The graduate's boyfriend brought his family along and his sister was the problem. I could not keep my eyes from her for most of the night. I tried to mingle around and find worthy distractions, but there were few to be found. Not even the food and drink distracted me very well thanks to my diet. She eventually faded as I socialized with those I knew. Of course, I drank far too much and played a couple of drinking games which sent me into hangover territory the next morning. That is unusual for me and represents the downside to the other rub for the evening. I can generally sense when I should be slowing or cutting myself off completely, but on this occasion the mood was that of a party and I fell into the stupidity. As a result, my Sunday was wasted from beginning to end. That was crap, but at least I forgot about the woman for a while.'

I don't think I can watch any more movies starring the other Ashley. Too difficult.

As I approach the big, mirrored doors, I see that they are powered but I do not wish to make a splash upon entering. I need to keep away from the others and quietly peek inside before deciding what to do. Off to my right is a couple heading toward the entrance so I tuck in behind them in order to remain hidden as I enter. That worked. I dash off to one side and slide next to a column for cover. From my vantage point I can see nearly everything. A few steps and I am in the middle of too much, however, so I have to stay still and wait for an opportunity to run back outside should the need arise. And there they are, standing amidst a bunch of vines winding through railing and obscuring what appears to be a restaurant partially jutting into the lobby. It is beautifully colored with lighting everywhere yet still dim. The group is awaiting someone or something at the podium, and I no sooner spy that gazelle of a woman when I catch her peering at me. Another smile and a covert wave. Wow. Now I am dying to know who she is and how she may know of me. But I don't know what to do. I am not dressed for this atmosphere at all. I don't even have a clue as to how I arrived nor do I recognize the woman or any one of her companions. Hmm. Back outside.

And into the fold of my trepidation over everything. Fuck, it melted away in favor of that beautiful mystery but now has returned to stress my head. Damn it, I just want to know who she is and then drop into my precious slipper and drive anywhere. All this time has found me lacking any kind of control other than an illusory moment here and there, and my need to get the fuck out and away is mounting like an avalanche of desire. When it falls, I disappear.

The feelings of late return to push me down again. Too much. I do not believe I can survive this. The nineties should have taught me much when it comes to self-preservation and self-esteem. Should have. Heh. One of my least favorite words in this world. 'Should'. I could have learned much but ended up finding comfort and hiding places to avoid those things which make me roll into a ball and cause fear. That means I learned precisely zero. I am the same. Exactly the same, only with more experience and less will to continue. I believe I turned into this wreck of a person by my own actions and choices. Maybe more exploration of the past is on tap...



707



'Last night I did not wish to cruise the treadmill. I did not see the point nor did I have the desire to improve. Plus, I am having much trouble trying to change so many aspects of myself at the same time. Less drinking, less eating, more exercise, clearer journaling... All of that can become overwhelming and I find I am preoccupied with the stress of trying to be better. The worry over my capabilities is leaving me feeling inadequate to the task. I sit here now with hot tea and the keyboard and I am at a loss for describing my present situation. Last night she and I spoke about this briefly after falling into bed. She was concerned about my mood and apparent discontent over all of these changes. That is something difficult to describe. I feel helpless to change myself and at the same time I do not want to change the things that I must in order to be healthier. I cannot simply do what I wish anymore. That is tough. Plus, there are so many reminders of my past errors and lousy decisions almost everywhere I look. I see them every day at work. When I come home there are many there as well -- the treadmill is just one room away from the sofa and liquor cabinet. In a matter of seconds I can switch from hopeful to hopeless and then my only wish is to sit and drink and write. As soon as I walk in the door I have this realization that I have the entire evening to do anything I wish, but then again I cannot. On the other hand, I cannot just leave things as they are. These changes are necessary for my health but also represent a person I am not attempting to be. That would not be me at all.

Will I be a different person if I change so many of my behaviors? Will I cease to exist with the mind I now possess and all of the details which add up to this unique person? Will something wonderful be lost? Can my present condition be the price for my wonderful imagination and ability to make others think so deeply?'

I guess I am not going to learn of her. Fuck it anyway. I expect disappointment constantly because so far in this fucking place nothing has shown me that it can last, or that I can last. The others just keep moving along in their little bubbles and coming out to enjoy company. I have no idea what may be happening on the inside and I am too fucking tired of trying to learn. There is enough in front of me right now.

I cannot stand feeling as if something bad is going to happen to me. She is in there, the fear is gripping me like Satan's leather glove, and I am powerless to do anything aside from dreaming of running. Ashley is still on the screen but my hand cannot push buttons and send her away. That is another problem that has not been touched upon here, but rest assured it's there looming, like a monster awaiting prime killing time. Heh. If I go back in there and just step my stupid ass across to the restaurant, will something bad happen? Is the fear all inside me and unwarranted? I have approached more than one woman in Nevada and I cannot see a difference here. Maybe the memories of me being a part of that joyous group is causing hesitation. Maybe my fear of standing out? Could that be it? I don't even know why I am dressed this way in the first place. I just sort of showed up outside looking at the fucking car. Does she know me? Will she talk with me? There is only one way to find out and that means crossing the floor in all my self-conscious glory and forcing well-dressed people to respond to my simplistic and haphazard questions. Are they going to slap me for entering their group? People are not like that. They just await a reason for a stranger to approach and greet them. Then they ask questions, and then there are answers. Who am I? Do they know me? Am I some sort of weirdo looking for a handout? Or maybe I am broke and lonely and only want to attach myself to them for a good meal and to feel included in something otherwise unavailable to me. They know nothing other than what they will see if I walk over there. Hmm. Can I?

The answer is no. I am too fearful of appearing as myself. There is just too much I am trying to process. The fact is that they are going to be in there for at least a couple of hours due to the size of their party, and that gives me time to investigate the fucking car. I can always come back, and if things go my way I can return looking better than I do now. The hell with it... I am staying out.



708



I have to get out and away. I have to save myself. Maybe if I calm I can try again, but right now all those sessions with Sharon and the others are coming back to haunt me. Fuck. I am so weak. My attention returns to where I came in...

The slipper is gone and in its place I see a man with a rifle. He is part way in the shadow and only a section of his hat and the gun are visible. He seems like a statue. I do not know where my slipper went but I have to find it. That machine was a tangible representation of a dream and my only means of escaping daily life. I must know where it went and attempt to get it back under my control. I decide to ask the valet if they put it inside. I still see the man there in part of the shadow. As I move closer to the valet window, I notice that my situation has worsened. The barrel is moving. I see who the man is.

And his gun is pointed at me."



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