One: Abba, tell me where I am now

From Some Stones Don’t Roll


In Stockbridge, Massachusetts, during the 1970s, the author befriends a young man, unaware that this newcomer is a paranoid-schizophrenic who depends on medication to keep him from suicidal and homicidal behavior.


Abba tell me where am I now. I am in New York City do I go with that? Outside the bus sounds. Are they buses? I do not know the sounds anymore. The drip drip drip into the tub. Must hydrate the atmosphere to keep legs from itching all night long. What’s a drip a small price to pay for freedom from self inflicted nail pain. She is gone now. How many shes have gone. If I could line them in a row would they go out the door into the dingy hall? Where would I be without this keyboard. Oh in New York. Why not in Bangladesh. Or at UNICEF listening to the other Stephen hold forth. I remember him cowering for no reason when all I wanted to do was tell him there was such a thing as benign genocide nothing about whatever affair he was or was not having there comes a time when you could care less about the thrills you no longer know. I miss Ernesto. I miss the woman in Capri who was going to get me started. I miss nothing and everything. Drip drip drip drip.

Everything is always better. Palmiers broken in two and the new plastic, top always in place, iced-coffee thingy. I will take it with me on my journey. I have a viaticum in waiting. I have Kenneth Burke on my floor ledge. Now there’s a siren, fire no doubt. Buildings collapsed.Three dead six miles north and east. Now a hammering upstairs. As if we used stairs anymore. Two plastic containers of supplements I do not use anymore. They stand like sentries between me and the dirty window where a record player, also obsolete, sits next to cassette holders also empty and yes I know a change in view would be just the thing to change everything to make pigeons more visible to make the window cleanable. The dripping has not stopped.

It’s time to tweet again. I do my tweets six days in advance. If something strikes me I drip feed it and almost a week from now I shall look at my Twitter stream and see how many favorites it has from those who Justin Bieber follows or others among my 140,000 followers. I am a leader, that’s for sure. Here waiting for the birds to land and the drip to end and flagellating myself not really for being immune to empathy for the dead. I have this thing about death ever since I read something about the patterns of the cosmos that suggested to me that there is a way things move that is entirely different than what we are aware of and that makes death itself something we need not lament or well we only lament it from our point of view. Face it. I am just immune to empathy. That’s all there is to it. I will not seek therapy now. I am too old and I see no one anymore. I cannot even imagine my Twitter verse. Or is it Twitterverse? I invite new people daily. If they do not accept, then I unfollow them four days hence. I take pleasure in not following and pleasure in watching my followers increase in number. I shall get to a million and still have no fame. I do not want fame. I want change. Am I being honest? I am being very honest. I can take some sorts of pain, the medical pain, the post-prostrate operation inability to pee ten out of ten pain. But I cannot take the pain of ills I do not know. Or accept. The social pain. The pain of fame. The pain of expectations. Of being observed and thought to be what I might be, but cannot see myself as becoming. It is a crime that another’s eye can steal what I can miss for decades. Forever perhaps. I rarely tweet the same things. I write them as I go along. I have been at this keyboard for more than three decades a full third of all my days, willing the world to change so it will be following the trajectory of my own imagining, even though I know that if that happened then the world would stop entirely. Immediately. No wonder I have no empathy.

I make people think, they say. Words are my elixir. I put them together as simply as that. Short sweet. Sweet short. I get it. Do you? Values power progress. Tolerance is humility. Life is art. My stock man is on Hollow Possum Road, or somewhere, up in the land of genial obfuscation, reachable by Metro North on days when it does not strike people dead. I wonder if, at the moment of impact, the victim does not have a seraphic flash, a moment of sacrificial clarity? “I lay down my life for …” I say this to balance myself as the arbiter of right and wrong. This is the task I have taken on in my efforts to rule the world from my dingy tower. I want to make things better so that the downtrodden, who will be downtrodden forever, are not condemned to that predictable fate. Because there is no way that what I do is worth anything by contemporary standards. Besides, I am forced to consider that I belong to a dying breed of those who have inherited the products of past generations of money-grubbing. It is an enviable fate. I get to sit at this keyboard day and night sending out my Tweets to all the world, but mainly to the Millennials that I seek like a parched nomad seeks crystal fountains. I want to lead them like a Pied Piper to overthrow the salacious generals who serve the Engine of Doom’s owners. How one gets to be an owner has escaped me. My impression is you learn to borrow. You borrow until you go bankrupt and then you borrow some more until the world cannot bear to see you as anything but a man whose wealth has been created by incurring massive debts that somebody must one day pay. But not the borrower. I don’t know what I am talking about. If I were to look at my holdings as we speak and found only a large zero, my heart would sink but I would figure that my sweetheart would save me since that is what she does on a daily basis. Selah. Saved daily. I make people think? Quel joke.

I am not making myself clear. I am writing things that beg for amplification. You do not know that a Metro North train killed a worker on the tracks this morning. There, now you do. I am without excuse. But you do know that.

We are discussing feeling and logic and psychologism and I am silenced. I cannot participate any more. I am a wanderer in the outer space of reverie. I am slumped in a fix of my own making. I am caught in a self-referential bind fishing for iambs amid the still-resonating traffic noises, the low rumble of the earth’s breath. “I’ll be All Smiles Tonight” though my heart may break tomorrow. Prescience. I woke with that song nudging my reality. But I could not remember the title. I ran it through mnemonic slats and it came clear and so I brought up the lyric because a song was prescient in the past with such crystal clarity that I have since credited the experience with authority, It actually only happened that once. Speak the truth. The truth of that song back in the seventies. “Is Anybody Going to San Antone?” I heard it in my head. And I told myself: if I can get to the end of that lyric. I will know what is happening. I was in my VW. Or was it a Subaru? I do not remember. I think it was spring. No. it was fall. Because the body was discovered in the spring. The end of the chorus was “everything will be OK as long as I can for get I’ve ever known you.” Something like that. And I looked at my paranoid-schizophrenic passenger and gulped and silently aimed the car down the street and crossed the bridge and rode the mile into town and dropped him off and returned home and did not know until the next day that he had gone missing after staying up all night talking to a boy named George about freedom and then stabbed him in the early, early morning with a serrated knife and then disappeared knife and all period end of story.

Stephen C. Rose has written a number of books (Fiction/Non-fiction). You can tweet him here.

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