It's hard not see life as an endless series of missed phone calls. I watch Clyde walk the tips of his fingers across a table. He makes his finger man do tricks for me, to make me smile, and calls me a lover. I watch him, and I try to smile. He's the only person who thinks I can be bought by a puppet show, and he's right.
"Level with me" is a phrase I understand. It could be the only thing I can understand. I don't understand repetition, words, lovers, animals, paradoxes, perception, variables, houses, lampshades, women, street signs, begging, water, sincerity, duality, the piano, smiling, why people don't wear sunglasses, Hell, guns, dancing, copper, magnesium, methamphetamine, peace, the fact that the holes in shoes where the laces go through have a name, sex, sentimentality, dictation, obsession, subtlety, my own hands, breakfast, lunch, art restoration, tree farms, skateboarding, ancient texts, raising a glass for the dead, forgetfulness, bird calls, Watergate, affection, diplomacy, really, raising a glass for anything except the end itself, relentless people, matches, hatchets, anything needed to survive in the wilderness, decorations, bitterness, honeymoons, recrimination, the entire endocrine system, sheets, metronomes and this… hibernation I exist in, without you.
I understand money. I like to shop. It's an exchange more straightforward than any other. I'd like to try buying sex sometime. Anything that can be bought, I think I would like to buy it. It's possible I understand the above mentioned items, ideas, and events perfectly well, but simply do not enjoy them.
I stare at the greasy marks Clyde’s fingers have left on the Formica while he orders. Cheeseburger again, just pickles. It takes five sentences to explain he really wants just the bun, the meat, the cheese, and pickles. It takes five sentences every time. If escape from my life was possible, I'd travel the country eliminating every waitress with whom I had the displeasure of coming in contact with.
"Cheeseburger, plain with pickles, please. No, not on the side. Yes. No ketchup. Just pickles."
It's late. You're asleep in our bed, and I'm at my writing desk again. Everything seems a mess. When life is as such, traditionally, I find a friend, and stick with them to wait out the storm. I've seen my fair share of bad weather, as you have. It can be blinding and treacherous, like love. I think about these messes, and I want to hide away. That used to be a possibility, but I'm forever thankful it isn't any longer. The clandestine me is a spiteful one, a hostile man. Order not restored, I am sure no one is where they need to be, or doing what they must. I have blamed everyone but myself for that for as long as I can remember. The reason for that being, I can only blame myself where you or I are concerned.
Evelyn, I'm not the angel of your rescue, and I'm not the demon of your undoing. I'm a man, and I've always wanted to be a man. My brother, Clyde, laughs and tells me I'm a lover. He's called every member of our family a lover, on more than one occasion. With Clyde, it's often not what he's saying, but rather, to whom he says it, and he says the word "lover" to me. He whispers it, the way he used to do with obscenities, in the presence of our parents. Lover. Nothing is perfect. No one is perfect. As your lover, I’ve felt the stare of perfection, but can do nothing about it, because I’m a man.
Evelyn, are you happy?
Any question of protection is one phrased in the the way any good riddle might be. The answer to that, and countless other matters of basic need. I believe protection to be, possibly, the second most basic need a human. The answer is balance. Legs, blooming like a flower, leave space enough to bring an imbalance. Then, the world will make a balancing act of you. Sometimes, in the evenings, you sit, with your hands in your lap. Your fingers are wrapped, entangled with the complexities of ideas and messages you receive. This letter woke me up, and now I'm wondering when you untangled things? Was I not looking? You are, always, a fox; you are a sly animal.
My future looks full of adventure, to me. I'm sorry about the pencils. I don't know what I'm becoming, what will become of anything, or anyone around us. Sometimes, I look to All, and think it's the becoming itself that we will become. I think of the fear, that creeps, inside the hearts of men. When one is sure they will not lose the things they have, sure they have all they have been fighting for, all they need- What, then, will they have to push them to revolve? Moving forward, I feel a sense of the unknown being what we're plunged into. New frontier, new things to discover, and protect.
I am confronted with Nietzsche's quote about God being dead three or four times, in any conversation with Gray. I always felt it was some defeatist statement, meant to claim a loss of hope. Reading your letters, again and again, I feel Clyde passing me, some ghost of my delirium. He passes me, over and over, where I sit outside our bedroom door. His idea of me has changed, tonight. You change me for him, and for myself, and for the better. He whispers "Believer", and he echoes, a glitch in the programming of the computer that is my brain. Ghosting, flickering, he whispers. "Believer." I know it's a fact that means forever is just the beginning.
You're looking at me, the way you often do. You're direct, you're pointed. You're putting me in that spotlight. Eve, don't stop. Bend me to be observed by Earth from which I was spurned. Somewhere, out in the night, is a glow from fires not our own. Tonight, you light my sky with love. I'm going to wake you, when I come back to bed. I want to see you stretch, and that smile you won't know you've given me, until you read this and my last letter, again.
We don't talk enough about happiness. My happiest times nowadays, are spent in bed with you. I don't think I knew either a happy time, or an anguished one before summers at the Bayou.
I never had to climb a mountain, a sand dune, even a volcano, to get to the edge of reason.
There's a place in Texas where you can use your last dollar to buy the meaning of life. A woman, who cradles a chicken, advertises this on the side of the freeway. Meaning of life, the Divine reasoning behind the element carbon, but the dollar must be your last. How does a man know which dollar is his last?
Most people I respect have thought the meaning of life is the fear of death, at one point in their lives, or another. I've always known better. The same learned, trusted people have also expressed the same about love, a time, or two. It's always confused me; the whimsy of the human brain, that can let itself believe, even for a moment, that the end justifies the beginning.
With a certain amount of aimlessness, comes a need for aim. I mentioned this to Clyde and his response was simple. "Calamity." But, that's the anarchist in him speaking. He heard me think it, and his response to that thought was "Anarchist to anarchist, there is no less control in chaos than there is in creating a word to describe the state of it." I don't know why, exactly, but it made me laugh.
Babies are born, empires fall, love is exchanged, Hell is found, dreams are dreamed, and all these are spoken on amongst humans, building a reality around a circumstance that never had to be in the first place. Is that futility?
Do you feel trapped, Evie? Even just sometimes?
A high wire could slice you cleaner than any blade, without the proper protection. We've invented so many things, it's difficult to keep track. Language, music, sex, the theory of relativity, to name a few. Pain is an invention. Once a thing is invented, there is no way to stop it from becoming what it must become. Fate being fluid, I believe there are differences that can be made in the courses inventions suffer, from birth.
I can't see forever, I've tried. I try now, and I'm met with an invented brick wall. Does an angel see forever, Doll? Define, for me, the word. When we wake, Nick complains. I drink my coffee, and you stretch. Often, you smile. Though, that smile is small, and brief enough, I know you won't remember it, a second later. Do you know it? I have a fox girl in my bed every morning, a smiling fox. It's like a bent note, moaning high. I think that note could be the only thing that sees forever.
Sometimes, I'm walking the length of a train, catching the walls, the backs of seats, to steady myself as I go. Passing between cars, I can feel frozen bursts of air through massive and metallic, shifting death traps. Before you were born to be a dancing girl, I knew your mother's life would end in a fiery, twisted wreck of a train like this one. I think of the folds the cheap, patterned carpet would know after a crash like that. I remove my hat, passing between cars, hold it against my chest. I do it each time, a show of respect for the inventions of man, and their power to destroy.
After each word I speak to you, I remove my hat. I replace it, once I know I'm safe. I place the hat back on my head, only to remove it once it again, when it's my turn to speak. Is it superstition? A woman destroys so easily, and begins within herself. This fact was part of a larger lesson we were taught, as boys, by our mothers. Many of us never listened, but I was not one of those.
Were girls taught lessons, by their fathers, the same as we were, by our mothers? Tell me, Evelyn, do hold your breath riding past graveyards?
I watched our brother Brad once as he stuck his fingers down into a young tulip, forcing her petals apart, with idle carelessness, as a boy. It was then I first wondered if blooming might be painful. But he didn't stop there. He plucked the flower from the ground and continued whatever thought he'd been entertaining, in my direction. I observed his hands, rolling her between his flat, hard palms. He masticated every last part of her with his nails, like the teeth of some mindless, ancient monster. The way a woman is a destroyer, Evelyn, so every man is an idiot.