Saturday, October 27, 2012

UTG 15: The Awakening

(there is a place beyond desperation, just this side of hopelessness. a place where fear reigns and confidence is but a whimsy. this is where biceps are found to be useless and the heart becomes the most important muscle in your arsenal. years upon years of building emotional endurance has lead to this moment. it gets to a point that sweat on the brow ceases to sting the eyes and instead becomes a bitter nourishment as it mixes with tears on its way to your parched, cracked lips. you have arrived at the end of your proverbial rope. luckily, fate and faith have tied a big enough knot on the end for you to wrap your bloody knuckles around. you have arrived. time for the real work to begin. - b2)


Its been days since I had any sense of my senses. My only concept of time comes from the pickup of the dumpster I've been sleeping behind. Family legend states that my grandfather was offered the first franchise for 'Dempster-Dumpsters' in Memphis, Tennessee in the fifties. He apparently turned it down, not wanting to deal with the stigma of being a 'trashman' during the Golden Age of Couture. Something tells me that even if he had made the millions he missed out on I would still have ended up here, looking like Grizzly Adams after a bender, smelling like the grease trap behind the BK Lounge.

"I sure as hell ain't in Kansas anymore", the sounds coming from my mouth seeming so foreign that I almost jump at hearing my own voice. It's been three dumpster pickups since I've spoken to anyone.  And even that was a brief, yet rewarding, conversation. Though I still thought that 'if I only had a brain' things would be a bit smoother, I certainly didn't lack any courage. I know exactly what made the Hotten-tot so hot.

It was the coldest part of the night, just before the dew begins to settle on the grassy islands of the mega store parking lot. The automatic sprinklers hadn't kicked in yet so it must have been before five. I smelled his camel before I saw him. It's been years since I dragged on anything beyond a discarded butt, yet I could still sniff out a cigarette brand from thirty yards out. When he caught site of me I'm sure he thought I was looking to bum a smoke. I was more interested in the high pressure hot water hose that he was using to the spray down the rubber floor mats. Following a dialogue that was equally uncomfortable for both of us he agreed to hosing me down behind the grease trap. But not before he had a chance to walk the entire perimeter twice to make sure the opening manager hadn't decided to roll in early to check in on him. In hindsight there might have been a better place to get 'clean' than standing in a half inch of scalded animal fat.

But that first shower was purely for morale purposes. And what a morale booster it was. Even my tattered rags felt better after that experience. I almost asked for that smoke, but wanted to save my next favor for something more worth while. And the time for that favor has come.

It was now time for a another shower, but this one had more pervasive motives attached. And therefore required a little more planning. The bar of hotel soap had been fairly easy to obtain. Obtaining the child safety scissors, however, was an adventure in itself. Not only did I have to collect beer bottles for two dumpster pickups (fyi - there is no end to the supply of long neck PBR bottles that magically appear each afternoon under the picnic table where the airport taxi drivers take their lunch break), but then I had to convince a shopping center patron to serve as my proxy inside the chain drug store that had forbid my entra' due to the hideous appearance that had become my daily existence.

I got the immediate impression that my friend the night porter had been planning my return, almost as meticulously as I had. His cargo van was conveniently parked in the drive-thru lane just across the grassy-knol island from the squawker box fast food menu. This provided a perfect privacy cover that enabled me to relish the decadency of my shower without having to worry about slipping on fry grease or ending up stinking like burnt oil. After using the convex security mirror to shave and cut my hair (the safety scissors proving to be worth every bit of the humiliation involved with 'begging' in front of apothecary shop) my porter friend of few words offered to give me one last head rinse before offering to share a celebratory camel with his fresh, clean benefactor. As I savored the last drag before burning the filter he reached into the back of the van and returned quickly with a paper sack.

"You need to go!", he said tersely, now avoiding eye contact. Had I done something wrong? Was I not supposed to take the last drag of  the shared 'cig? He shoved the bag into my chest and once again barked, "You need to go!".

I grabbed the bagged thrust upon me and staggered off, grabbing my safety scissors leaving the miniature bar of Dove lying in now steaming fescue. My filthy clothes now felt hot and sticky against my damp, clean skin. Each step bringing the all too familiar sting of blatant rejection. I was half way back to my dumpster of solitude before I realized that I was still gripping the brown paper bag. Stopping under the flickering glow of a humming Coke machine I peek inside the Jethro lunch box. Not quite sure how to take in the visual before me my hands sought to grasp the reality within. A faded red Jack-shirt, grey carpenter's jeans, and a pair of broken in Adidas. My porter friend had prepared the ultimate care package and was too humble to allow himself to view the joy I was now experiencing.

The paper bag, now damp and containing the thread bare garments of my 'past life' was carefully deposited in the charity bin parked on the far edge of the white marked landscape that had become my world. I could leave now. Not far, but far enough. It was time to face my fate. It was time to tackle the consequences. It was time to put it all 'out there'. 

I would be re-entering the world of the faces for the first time in months. The place where you have to carry yourself as if gravity has no effect on your being. Where you have to pretend that you have your act together. Where one is rewarded by how little they let their true feelings show. Yes, I was heading right back into the lion's den. But this time would be different. This time I would be better equipped. This time I knew the truth. This time I would be wearing red.

And this time, I would do it without 'the voice' second guessing every decision I made.

But first, I needed work.

(you have just experienced an episode of the serial anthology known as 'Under the Gun' . experimental literature in it's purest form, UTG is published for public consumption immediately after creation. beyond one pass of spell check there is no editing, no proof-reading, no second guessing, and no money down. all material is original, gluten-free, and is now available with Retsin. there is no oversight, no safety net, and no animals are hurt during production. so read on, tell a friend, and for goodness sake - release the Krakken. and, oh yeah. don't forget. 'dream big, act swiftly' - b2)