Friday, May 26, 2006

things that are real

I don’t remember them at night, or when I wake up. Still, pretty sure they’re dreams.
They come in flashes in the daytime. Bits of stories, faded images like old photos, sparked by a random face or song or smell.
Lately there’s a new one. It’s like the others only worse.
It comes and goes. Lately it’s been bad.
Shouldn’t last long though. Maybe a few more days. I can hold out.
* * *
I’m walking home in the city at the end of a work day. Tie loose, jacket off, briefcase. I’m thinking about something I’m writing. Past row houses, leafy trees, rush-hour gridlock.
I stop at the corner and look up at traffic. Horns are honking. There’s a flower cart next to me.
Then something sparks. A shot of terror hits me.
I’m remembering a robbery gone haywire, somebody hurt bad. Somebody knows about it. We fucked up and left a loose end… People are getting nervous. Police are tracking down names. Somebody knows I’m in this city. That motherfucker. Who the fuck is he?
It’s so real I’m ready to run. And then just like that, it’s gone. I’m back on the city street.
The light turns green and traffic starts moving. I step into the crosswalk.
What the fuck was that? Why can’t I remember these?
Shit, I think. This is never going away.
I keep walking. I’m sweating now. I mop my brow. It’s hot, I think, no big deal. Everybody sweats on a hot day.
* * *
It’s early Saturday. I’m sitting in a coffee shop in the city with a low baseball hat. Hot black coffee. I don’t look at anybody. I watch the steam and try to clear my head. Didn’t sleep last night, again.
I slip a rubber band off a notepad and flip to a blank page. I push the paper flat on the table, sharpen a pencil and scratch down notes. I write in all caps, thick pencil marks like math problems. Time reels past in my head. I write what I see. I leave out things I didn’t know then.
I do this a lot. The writing helps me keep it together.
I take a break and sip coffee for a while. I look at the scribbles on the page. Straight, satisfying lines.
I try to remember the dream again.
In my mind it’s indistinguishable from a thousand other stories. Lines between memory and dream are long gone. Getting worse lately. No details anymore, just smells and emotions. Anything is possible. Everything is real.
Why can’t I fucking remember?
I finish my coffee and wipe my mouth with a napkin. My hand hurts. I’m tired. I stuff the notebook in my back pocket and walk home, thinking about nothing.
I shut the blinds and fall asleep in my clothes.
* * *
I’m in my kitchen having a drink, smoking. It’s late. There’s a warm nighttime breeze through the kitchen window. I hear neighbors laughing below, car stereos driving past. It’s a good night.
I’m thinking about the Montana story. In my head, it makes no sense.
I take a drag, squinting at the city lights out the window. I try to remember the Montana guy’s face, the cold pistol in my fist, the softness of his head, the shouting.
I’ve got nothing. Just blurred images. A swirl of words and dreams and vague recollections of others.
“Feels like a fucking dream,” I say out loud. This makes me smile. Because this one can’t be. It’s fucking real alright. I’ve heard the story too many times, from too many people.
I think about writing, how it distorts the original. Turning memories into stories fucks everything up. So invasive. What’s left in my head is a tangle of words and dates and impossible people I barely remember. Reality used to have this sharpness. That shit is long gone now.
I stub out a smoke and reach for another. My eyes stop on my hand.
Look at those scars. What are you thinking? Of course that shit is real. My fucking nose. My arm. Tell me this mutherfucker isn’t real.
I light the smoke and take a long drag. I’m pretty drunk now.
Fucking Montana, I think. They’re all like that now. All real and all fake. Who gives a fuck anyway, you crazy motherfucker.
I lean against the open window and look out over the city. My head’s blurry now. The breeze feels good on my face.
I take a long drag and let smoke curl up my face. The city lights dissapear behind the fog.
I try to remember the dream again.
Got to get that motherfucker on paper, I think. Only way I’ll ever get to sleep.

* * *

Thursday, January 12, 2006

hitting the bag today

Runnin’ wild, I never smiled as a juvenile
even now I keep a frown when I come around
don’t ask me about the past, it was all bad
shots blasted, will I last in the wrong path
in the dark is where my heart saw the most grief
mothafuckers are gettin’ shanked over gold teeth
am I sick, cause I’m addicted to gettin’ splifted
watch the stupid ass tricks get lifted
nothin’s changed, cause in the game it’s a steady aim
fuck friends, cause when in danger those niggas change
puff weed and stuff G’s in my sock G
call Ki’s and Hennessy where the glock be
times passin’ will I last here another day
I put my gun away, and grab my A-K
it’s getten hectic
I can’t call it
house full of alcoholics
now a nigga’s under pressure.
2Pac, “Under Pressure,” Thug Life