Sunday, March 1, 2009

That Subtle White Noise, part two

I could never figure out if I wanted to kill or forgive the men who had tried to kill me. I think my innate dispassion confused me, but that didn't keep me from buying an old baseball bat, just in case they tried it again. I wrote the words "Ass's Jawbone" on it with a sharpie pen, in hopes that if it ever saw battle it would reap numbers similar to that of old Samson himself. Initially I planned on wrapping it in barbed wire and spray painting it gold. I don't know why I wanted to paint it, perhaps the image of gold paint rubbing off in the dark red of my enemy's wounds somehow satisfied my sense of vengeance- like a signature of sorts. Later I heard that some kid had gotten arrested for having a bat wrapped in barbed wire, so decided against it. I suppose I still could’ve painted it gold, though.

I am not of the school of thought that says there is a line that is crossed or a hair that breaks a camel's back or something that just snaps inside of you when you decide to do something awful. I think it is simpler than that, but less easy to explain. We tend to talk in terms of anger and frustration becoming bottled up and then blowing, but we never ask why we attribute the metaphor of a bottle of soda to actual psychological processes. Personally, I think we are all always much closer to crossing that line than we think. Some folks are insane, others have had something de-programed somewhere along the line, some just slip over from time to time or once in their life, and still others are simply brave enough to try it. For me- what with the honking and the stares and the frowns and the slow scritch of my passenger's walker across the floor of the bus- when the fellow behind me exited his truck and headed my way, what happened next seemed inevitable- almost natural.

I saw him hop out of his truck right after the security guard lady had stabbed her finger in the air, signaling my urgent need to move on. Something about that jerking motion in the air: three times: go, go, go... I was on my way to say hello to her with my jawbone when I noticed the man- who might've been spared had he not interfered- approach my vehicle.

He was almost to my window when I stepped out of the bus. With one crushing swoop I brought it around hard, connecting with his head and the side of the bus simultaneously, causing a brilliant explosion of red and grey matter. His body fell to the ground. Striding over the corpse, I circled the vehicle around the rear end. Through the tinted windows of the bus I could see the brown uniform of the guard moving quickly now to intercept me. Stepping around the back of the bus I again swung the bat. The sound this time was a sickening crack. The force of the blow actually ripped her skull open and caught her brain, sending it flying through the air and smacking the plexi-glass sliding door of the hospital. Her eyes rolled in her head, and her body swayed and dropped like a suddenly limp, fleshy t-ball stand. The blood gushed silently like a broken water main, flowing into the grate near the automatic door that was opening and closing over and over again, smearing her brains back and forth across the threshold.

I climbed into the driver's seat. My passenger was finally seated and buckled.

"Ready to go, Ma'am?"

Friday, December 19, 2008

That Subtle White Noise, part one

“And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey,
and put out his hand and seized it,
and with it he slew a thousand men.”
- Judges 15:15

I can't remember if it was warm or cold that day, I suppose because it doesn't matter. It might also be because when something having to do with personal conflict occurs to me- negative personal conflict, that is- I tend to find it hard to focus on anything. So I suppose what I remember is what counts.

I had been driving the para-transit bus for a few months. The para-transit service, for all of you who don't know, is a service provided for people with disabilities or the elderly who can't drive themselves. Some are blind, some are mentally retarded, others are so extremely obese that they can't get mobile without assistance.

Like I said, it was a normal day, or might as well have been, and I was parked at the roundabout on the west side of the hospital. It was a commonly congested space, and seemed small for the amount of traffic that passed through. There was a lady security guard who worked there. She seemed to me the kind of person who refers to things that aren't theirs and couldn't possibly be theirs as their own. She might say "I love my soaps.", or I “gotta have my football", etc. She always eyed me as I would wait for my passengers, always quick to get the traffic flowing, always keeping things under control.

That day I was picking up the sweetest little old lady you could imagine. I'm fairly sure that she couldn't hear or see, and at times was not sure if she was even breathing. She always smiled, though, when she got on the bus, and was always ready when you got there. She had to be: it probably took her a good 15 minutes to walk the 10 feet from the door to the bus. Fragile as they come, this one, as likely to blow away on the wind as anything, and shatter into a million tiny pieces were she to tip over.

One of the problems with the situation was the bus itself: it's design. Some genius somewhere, when the money-makers were discussing the prospect of such a specialized vehicle, decided to cut the back end off of a regular old Ford van, and attach the most god-awful, oversized, top-heavy, plastic shell on the ass-end of it, throw a couple of old school bus seats in the back and weld a lift to boot. This made the back 66 percent of the vehicle a good foot on either side wider than the cab, and taller again by another five or so. Besides making for a bumpy ride for the already ailing and disadvantaged cargo, they were often times dirtier than any school bus I'd ever ridden in, and a hell of a lot less comfortable.

You can imagine the trouble it might take someone who can hardly walk to make it up the steep set of steps into the death trap, and shuffle their way to the back to find a seat. If you did, then you'd be imagining exactly the situation I was in that day when The Queen of the Roundabout and the outlying Parking Lots began to get upset. Of course she couldn't have seen the old lady doing her best to hustle for the traffic's sake, but it didn’t matter: She didn’t care. It was at about this time, as the old woman was almost half-way from the front of the bus to her seat, that I noticed a rather large red pickup truck queued up behind me. In the driver's seat sat an impatient looking man, and in the passenger's seat sat an old lady much like my own passenger. I assumed that the woman was the mother, and that the fellow driving was her son. It wasn't hard to make out the steady stream of curse words that were coming out of his mouth. It seemed that he was equally, if not more, upset with the amount of time my passenger and I were taking.

The reason I even had a baseball bat, let alone carried it around with me, was because just prior to moving to town, my wife and I had been living in the city when one night, we were mugged. I remember waking up running: it was pitch black and I could hear footsteps. I couldn't remember where I was or what was going on until I heard a second set of footsteps and realized that both were running, and that the former belonged to myself, the latter, to my assailant. When we moved I carried away a profound uncertainty and paranoia, along with the quarter-sized half-moon shaped scar behind my right ear from the attacker's hammer.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I want a suit

I want a suit
a grey suit, like
a real poet
serious but informal
tieless with the memory
of a tie having purposefully
been there earlier

like poets can wear suits
now like businessmen wore
suits but a poet might get
a state burial or a statue
but not me, I'll just be
a nobody in a suit