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Open Faces Five


Rocky Ridges


Richard has known other days like the one finally closing down around the town. Days when it seems as if a rent has been made in the slower-than-light stuff of circumstance, and the dry ice needs of an ocean’s deepest streams burn their way through. He has to remind himself it wasn’t this morning, but the day before when a young friend came knocking on his door, needing someone to talk to. It is just that he has had two hours of sleep since Annie came by, yesterday morning, and together they went to sun themselves on a mid-morning’s beachside. He wonders what she is doing for herself about now, a desperate young friend. Or how she sees herself while passing through the lonely colon coming at the end of her pastime paradise. And it remains a marvel to Richard how a wave come rolling against the shoreline almost always brings with it a set of successively larger waves, until a tallest breaker crashes down; and the ocean’s pull starts pulling back around again, reaching back down again, in an ebb tide as proportionately strong as the beach flooding flow had been. Or that the dreamers staying inside a musical story keep on keeping to the same lyrical theme, no matter how many times they might have been roasted over the spit of love’s flame. Or, even, that he is still coming into Tara’s Place in spite of a certain signal received, as much a dream marker as it is a danger sign. The one a wiser man would know to give wise meaning to, and a wider berth.

A single performer is about to take hold of Tara’s stage tonight. Richard saw his name posted on the board outside on the porch. It is hard to believe two months have passed since the last time the man who signs himself Sag Boody has been in here to play. Especially, since, it was during that week when Richard saw the likes of a loveliness he has no reason to suspect could come within his reach; the same as has led him to look more closely inside the concentric circles of a rock n roll story than he has ever looked before, and that’s been moving him in the direction of a dark eyed girl.

 Everyone who frequents Tara’s Place anticipates the time when Sag Boody comes back to town. They never talk about him when he is away, which isn’t that strange, as rock n rollers rarely talk about anything except for what goes down around them in whatever now-time they happen to find themselves in. They just somehow know, without being told, when he will pass through on the circuit of towns and easy going bars he works. Tara’s would be doing a brisk business by the second night of the week he spends here. Even before he sets himself up on the stage, with acoustic guitar, amplifier, and the two microphones placed for sending his voice and tunes through the room, the bar fills up with so many music lovers come to lose themselves in a song. Which is what is already happening, even though the sun still hangs suspended in a day lily’s descent before letting go and falling over. And tonight Richard can see again the cross-cut of a rock n roll bar, or the demography of a musical community.

They mostly mill around, waiting happily, mostly looking forward to when the musician they know as Sag Boody sends them skipping over the glassy surface of Tara’s pond like so many perfectly rounded stones. Such as the older rock n rollers carefully coming in; some of whom having decided, at a right handed place along the story, that the freedoms of ’69 could be localized in material things. Like, maybe, in a high performance engine, a pair of imported jeans, or a professional degree giving them the comforts of bought freedom they mostly need. Then there are the younger ones also stepping in, who would have prenatally heard their first songs of love getting loved again, and who sip on their drinks through straws as if it is a sweet and ice-slush fruit beverage sitting in front of them. Between the two extremes are all the variations found on a low keyed musical theme. Such as the spin-offs who’ve stepped down somewhere along the line; having decided, for their own good reasons, to stay in the day a first song had first aroused them. Or the boat people only in town when the sea has no work for them. Even the artisans who still smell of parsley, sage, and the rest of that rhyme, and still taking their handmade goods from crafts fair to crafts fair. There are also the music lovers barely hanging on, always barely hanging on. The ones with whom a song, and all it can start up, has never played with them kindly, or whose disbelief of daily extremes has been tested once too often; but who still think that, if the circle game would only slow down a little, they still might be able to catch a ride to somewhere, anywhere except here. Then too there are the interested parties, like hobbyists, weaving in and out of the music’s dreamier lanes. Or the ones coming back to look inside the night time rounds having first set them on spin. They are all in Tara’s tonight, each with their own idea, or lively connection, of the musical story Sag Boody will play for them. They’ll all be listening to that story from a personal place along the thirty year string of the rock n roll classics he will fit to the arm of his guitar, like so many pearl drops getting set together . It’s what this itinerant musician, like a troubadour, traveling salesman, or medicine showman, comes in town to do.

Richard has seen before what Sag Boody can do with the crowd. Likely he will see again much the same musical practices this strangely shaped musician can conduct on Tara’s customers. It is why he almost turned around, going back home, when he saw Sag Boody’s name posted on the board. It isn’t so much the sleeplessness that might keep him from joining in, from hopping on the train of a journeyman poet’s song making, as it is the quietly despairing far side of a rock n roll movie whose opening scene was in Annie’s surprise visit. The same as what kept on rolling through the day, the night, and the morning after she knocked on his door. Richard admitted to himself, as he stepped onto the porch, that he was feeling out of sympathy with the sometime inclinations of rock n roll proceedings when a friend called to him from around the corner. It was Melon, or Prince Melon as Richard thinks of him. And it is this gentle prince of sunshine who dispelled for Richard some of the cold and numbing darkness that can creep out from behind the masks of modern, pleasure-bent, fast living, decadent, or whatever is the name anyone wants to give to it, indifference. Richard sat with Melon for awhile, listening to how a smiling prince goes about the business of waiting on tables at the Jacaranda, selling shoes in a downtown daytime job, and of nest building with a girl he met that winter. They sat together until the prince said it was time to be going to where his Sheila works, tending another bar, since she is leaving town for a few days. She is leaving town, the prince said as he stood to go, to spend a few days with their young friend Annie at a beachside cottage further down the coast. Richard then deciding to go inside anyway, to try and set down a record of a moon face’s dark side, and to maybe get through to where Sag Boody will be showing them all the brighter reflections he gleams from the canon of rock n roll singing.

If Richard knows what Sag Boody can do with Tara’s customers, he still doesn’t quite know how the musician does what he does. Or how he can take them variously along the path of rock n roll perceptions from first love to failed love, from first adventure to where the spinning wheel of long playing records turns them over and starts them up again. All the while that Sag Boody plays his tunes, Richard could swear the ivy-like tendrils of lyrical vines creep out of his guitar, even reaching up the sides of Tara’s walls, until there is no one in here not tickled into believing in the dreamscapes of rock n roll mythologies. The same as have never, much less forever, been given more than half a chance of coming true, but that have continued sprouting up with every new dreamer, dissident, or New Wave music maker come into Radio City singing a new song. The whole blessed story Sag Boody can sing for them would start when he comes walking through the door. Every one gets surprised by the likes of him off the stage. Short and barrel chested, his shoulders slightly hunched, he supports himself on the skinniest legs Richard has ever seen, and with two of the longest arms hanging by the sides of him. He’ll walk through the room, saying hello to someone he remembers from the last time in, and he’ll stop by the bar for a beer before going to the stage, rechecking his equipment, squaring himself off on the high stool, and with his big bowl of a guitar comfortably wedged against the middle of him. By the time he has tuned the strings of his instrument, and adjusts the microphone leaning towards him, the transformation is complete. He has become a living oak tree, a maypole, or some other sure-seated demigod of evergreen possibilities. He has become the great Sag Boody whose arms are perfectly suited to him sitting there, and his shoulders hunching him over the forest of rock n roll songs that has become his personality. He can lose himself inside the places of those songs. He will keep the tempo slowly, sometimes rapidly, moving him along. He will sing each and every classic in something similar to the mode of their original makers. From either side of the ocean, from either side of the color line, from any side of rock n roll’s spectrum of music making. It becomes almost like a recipe book of popular music he reads from, or an anthology of far off poetry. Sometimes he can sing a song in such a way Richard can’t be certain he has actually heard it before, even though he knows he has heard it many times before. It’s when Richard gets that Sag Boody has shown him something new, something he missed on the first time around. Sag Boody can keep on turning up new places out of old songs, or from songs not quite new, until someone in the room reaches out of themselves for a sweetness they maybe saw as late as the day before. Or someone else might be howling like a dog riveted by the moon, or dancing alone on the floor, or reaching over the table to touch the cheek of a lover. Thinking about it, thinking about how it will probably be again when Sag Boody sings to them from the stage, Richard is hard pressed to see what else there might be in a mythical belief, except for this dream reality where all the senses get quickened, satisfied, and set yearning simultaneously. And where all the inside places where all the senses lead are opened up, made to feel new. Maybe it is a notion that can have nothing to do with anything, except for a summerhaven dream. The place where Hugh had wanted to get to when he said he could think of nothing more glorious than a song. But it is also the same notion that has kept them going, all the rock n rollers in a rock n roll age, in spite of an unfriendly order of things still wanting to reduce them to a digit in someone’s number game, a pawn in the hands of another power broker, or a cog in a not so metaphorical machine. It is also what keeps them coming back to places like Tara’s. What young friends like Annie will have to start all over again to find, having been burned by an indifferent kind of touch even before it’s her turn to start living in, living out, her own dream. How is it then, anyway, she sees herself this evening? How is she turning the page, and how will she see herself tomorrow?


Last edited by Terreson, Feb/5/2011, 7:42 pm
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Re: Open Faces Five



Annie hadn’t exactly awakened Richard, but he insisted anyway on making them a cup of coffee before driving with her to the beach. He has known her for some months, she being one of the several high school girls bussing tables at the Jacaranda; a girl who, much like the others, lives as furiously as her sixteen year old legs can carry her. Working, going to school, and running the gamut of beachside bars where the Annies of the world can get hurt; and where the beach-boy men nightly lay claim to something that isn’t theirs to claim. It is all a part of a sped up film reel that, so far as Richard can see, hasn’t changed since his set of age-mates had been quickened to the beat of fast living, loose spending, beachside decadence. The only time Annie comes by to visit him is when she has an editing problem needing someone’s attention. Which was the reason for making the coffee, mostly to buy a little time so to check back into the place she was coming from. He has never minded her problem posing visits, since, it reminds him of how it is to be imprinting those first big moments on the chips of teenage memory banks. Besides, he has pretty much figured out that Annie and her mother live in uneasy proximity to each other, and for reasons that haven’t changed since the world’s first daughter strained against the hegemony of the world’s first mother. And Annie’s father long since on the other side of gone even before the girl could remember. Then there is that delightful paradox in teenage girl thinking that can almost be set into a law governing teenage proceedings. It is to never share one’s secrets, problems, or closely kept desires with anyone who might absolutely matter. Such as with one’s family, one’s age-mates, and, for sure, a romantic interest. So Richard has become a young girl’s sometime confidant. One more than one occasion Annie has sat where she was sitting again, and working herself up to asking him what she should do. Only, this time, it looked as if she was needing the silver-blue motions of the ocean, and a sand dune’s shoulder, to reassure her too.

They set off for a place along the shore, a place that is a favorite spot of hers, just north of town. There are never many people there, she told Richard, between the sips of her coffee sweetened with enough sugar and cream to suit her half-child taste buds. It is where she goes when her idea for a day has nothing to do with the demands of her own new moon story. This being a thought that startled Richard a little, thinking on it, thinking of its converse, as they drove through the sunny side of town, past the protected bay front, and over the bridge connecting them with the palmetto and scrub-oak cropped stretch of shore land. It was just hard to believe that a girl of sixteen could have an intimation of a rounded, waning month of moons. Or, even, that there is already an old woman in Annie who sometimes needs to be rocked and cradled in the retreat of a young girl’s charms. As they arrived at Annie’s secret beach spot, and after they spread out their beach towels on the white sand, Richard finally understood that some part of Annie’s world had gotten the better of her. He left her sitting for a moment, she mostly concerned with smoothing a sun screen lotion over her limbs, as he went for a quick swim. Then sitting back with her, letting the sun dry his salt glazed skin, quietly for a few moments, Richard got there was no space then for small talk. Annie told him she was pregnant and asked him what she should do. She needed to ask him a second time, then a third time, before Richard could be certain he had heard her.

It is a small thing having happened to Annie. A thing conceived every day, every loving day, and on every dangerous day, on many a lonely night, and on many a dangerous night , between two people who may or may not be perfect strangers to each other. To Annie it happened a little over a month before, in a late night liaison of the pointless kind, with one of the waiters at the Jacaranda. The only reason she was lying on a deserted strand of beach with Richard, telling him these things, crying her eyes out, getting mad at herself for ruining her carefully applied mascara, while growing something inside her, was because the father of the child-thing she carried is not her lover, and because she was afraid to go to her mother who had thrown her out of their home, your Honor, on the night in question. Annie had gone to Billy Boy’s condo, that night, asking him if she could sleep on his couch. He offered her the comfort of his bed. A little later and he followed her up. They slept together instead. What made her even angrier, she said half-way laughing through the stinging tears, is that he even cheated her out of the seven or so star burst moments he promised her. There hadn’t even been a first. She was asking Richard again, maybe for the seventh time, what she should do. It seemed to him he could hear a third heart beat faintly asking too. Or was it just the nearer waves on an incoming tide breaking into the sand’s shelf?

Then all the voices in Annie began talking simultaneously. Each and every one of them. All of intellectual, emotional, biological, and intuitive voices giving her reasons for doing, not doing, what she should, could, wouldn’t, and couldn’t do to get her to wherever it is she could live with herself again. Should she pay for her mistake, she wanted to know? Richard suggested that, no matter what she did, she would be paying. Did she want a child-thing to be paying too for something he or she had no business in? Could she, maybe, bring a child to full term, then give it away? But what if she wanted to keep the baby then, she asked? How would she be able to make her own dream’s schemes fit to a world no longer only hers to be dreaming in? Would she be ready, Richard then asked her? Could she make a home before she has an inside sense of home to give? Worst of all, Annie said before running towards the waterline and crossing over into the sea, how is she ever going to stop the incessant chattering going on inside her head? Richard wondered then, as she disappeared beneath the waves, if maybe the difference between wanted and unwanted love, given and stolen desire, fully formed and cheated life things, is when those voices speak in concert inside a woman’s head. For the life of it all, as was the heart of a young girl’s problem, he couldn’t see how a half-made woman, conceiving out of love, could give much more of herself than a half-opened doorway. This being the substance of what he said to Annie when she came out of the water, and drying her hair. For the first time, yesterday, that wouldn’t be the last, he was putting his arms around a friend. Then he stared around stupidly at the surface planes of indifferent consequences and cruel pains while Annie sat in the sand, forgetting about her mascara.

They left Annie’s spot. They headed back to town. The time was soon when Richard would need to be at work. While they drove down the streets, neither of them were seeing things all that simply, nor were they saying much. When they arrived at Richard’s apartment, and he got out of her car, Annie leaned across and said she had made an appointment at a clinic in a nearby city for the next day; which is today. He then asked her if she wanted his company, but all she said was a simple and certain – No -.
And mostly what Richard was seeing after Annie was gone, even after he shaved, showered, ironed a white shirt, pressed creases into a pair of pants, and perfectly knotted another night’s uptown tie, was how much of this game belongs to her. What else is there to his own game set to any number of meaningful, purposive, even productive solutions for making one’s way? He can go out and build bridges. He can even build them higher, or longer, than they presently span. He can endanger what already lives by reaching for things beyond him, and he can dig into the depths of what has not yet been given to him. He can even put a glad wrap on everything already done, and he can congratulate himself on having inherited so much already done, in spite of his best efforts to remain safe inside the marsh mud of that long forgotten bog that first sprouted the likes of him. But when it comes down to making something successful out of an eternally uncertain proposition, or of bringing them through the vortex of an unanswerable question still looking like a swinging doorway, the game is all Annie’s. As is the burden. As is the price. He could wait around until inspired to choose one direction over another, and he could maybe light a spark. He can even try to persuade Annie to lean forward again on her own way into her own glory. But that is where it ends. The rest of the game board belongs to her. This mostly being what Richard saw as he sat at his desk and wrote his daughter a quick note, reminding her that summer is coming on, and is she excited about spending vacation time on the beach, in the surf, and swimming in the ocean again?
Feb/5/2011, 7:41 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Open Faces Five



Locking the door, then walking his way to the Jacaranda, Richard needed to clear his head before the night’s rounds set in. He needed a game to play. After he dropped Jennifer’s letter in a mailbox, he started playing the mixing day game he usually plays while walking to work. He would try to gauge how busy the night would be by how many sea and sun drunk visitors were scurrying through the town. The answer would tell him approximately what a lazy bartender most wants to know, or how frantically the night would be spent splashing highballs, shaking shakers, and blending the kind of drinks made with enough fruit liqueur, cream, and aromatics to mask even the gravest of intentions. Richard could have no doubt how high are the stakes, in those intentions, every time he is asked to concoct an elixir that would surprise, excite, or titillate a customer. So he will walk to work counting the number of out-of-state license plates, checking on the various resting places maintained for foot weary visitors, measuring the lines of cars reaching back from traffic lights, and gauging the number of natives feeling safe enough to come out from under their late afternoon shelters. It is out of the last part of the mixing day game Richard found another game to play. A game he calls “In Search of the Town’s Orbital Birds.” A game played by keeping a lookout for any of the town’s clipped wing residents; the crazies, the half-crazies, the on-their-way-to-crazy crazies, and the not really crazies. All of whom can be like rooftop swifts closely keeping inside circles of purest movement, and who are not to be distracted from their fixed points and chimney rests.

They can be seen at almost any time of the day. From the black lady who walks down the middle of Pepper Street first thing in the morning, and she always wearing the same child white dress, to the cross bearer who drags, or rolling behind him, a twelve foot cross made of white pine set on two lawnmower wheels. He only rests when he finds a building against which he can lean his cross and from which spot he preaches the good Word. But the ones Richard has a particular feeling for are the ones still out in the late afternoon. Somehow they soften him and he can’t say why.

Such as the old man he calls Jimdog. Whose nose is as sharply hooked as a Roman centurion’s nose could be. Jimdog rests through the nightlight hours inside the camper he parks in front of the town’s fishing pier. He is like someone playing a steadily mobile game of tic-tac-toe, with the way he marks the town. And he never lets himself stop until the sun has apparently stopped too. Then there is the Madonna Man Richard would see almost daily riding a bicycle along the bay front boulevard, and who carries the statuary of a blue robed woman clasping a fresh red heart to her chest. Everyone says the Madonna Man is crazy. But Richard cannot be so certain. Maybe he is just in love. Maybe, also, what he mutters, while slowly pedaling down the avenue, are the names and ways of someone he has discovered he could keep with him. The Madonna Man has his counterpart in the slow stepping old woman who can start out her day carrying the largest bouquet of irises, lilies, or carnations; and who goes to every one of the town’s larger than life statues of conquistador, priest, and founding father, until she has no more flowers to give. She always wearing a dress of some soft pastel, and it matching the conch blush color in her wrinkled cheeks. Richard often sees her walking home, and empty handed, just before he arrives at the Jacaranda. On some days she can stop every few feet or so, looking around as if hearing someone coming home with her, or seeing something predictably pleasing to her. Then she’ll turn down her home street. She gets taken up between the trees.

When Richard has reached the near-formal garden planted around the Jacaranda, Ronald the gardener is usually still working away. Maybe he is setting out a new line of geraniums to be planted the next day, or spreading cedar chips around a crepe myrtle starting to flower. He never speaks until he has been spoken to, just as he never crosses a street that has any cars on it for as far as he can see. The idea is that Ronald had been a gifted architect in one Northeaster town or another, where he had a nervous breakdown sending him south. He too is supposed to be crazy, but Richard’s hunch is that he is not as broken in the head as the other restaurant folk think. Ronald is almost like a Wildman of the Woods, someone who, for his own calculated reasons, has retreated to a safely encompassing thicket inside an interior region. On a couple of occasions, Richard has seen how Ronald the gardener can get caught out in conversation. The gardener’s eyes would not be so camouflaged in green, then, his thoughts not so deeply buried. Richard figures that, when it came time, the Green Man would come out from behind his blind; ready to take up his pursuit of the lovely long tailed cuckoo that remains most every man’s quarry.

So finally stepping inside the restaurant’s door yesterday, Richard had the answer to the first of two questions. Nor was it long before he had the answer to his second question too. The town was not so busy, which meant that neither would he be. Then after going to the kitchen, and checking the schedule of which waiters were slated to be on duty, Richard saw that Billy Boy would not be working. No better or worse than many of the other beachside colonials, Billy Boy can be taken as running the average. His notion of the known universe being just another fixed orbit; a closed circuit of condominiums, racquet club memberships, and the sought after real estate licenses. Running the average a matter of never going out of your way to do anyone harm, since, the effort would need too much energy; but of never turning away from a moment’s tasty morsel come within easy reach. Richard just hadn’t known if he could look Billy Boy in the eye, last night, or serve him his after-work beer the restaurant gives its staff members as a kind of token for a job well done. And so how is Annie treating herself any? And if Sheila has taken her out of town for a few days, as Prince Melon said, is she at least drawing on the strength of a friend?
Feb/6/2011, 5:49 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Open Faces Five


Richard hasn’t noticed Sag Boody already inside Tara’s Place. Or that he has been up on the stage for some while, tuning his guitar, adjusting the knobs on his amplifier, or lighting the first of the cigarette chain he’ll keep burning beside him. There is an empty shooter glass on the stool next to the musician’s, which means he has already shot back his first schnapps, and that he has started folding himself back inside a trouvere’s kind of travel cloak for warming up to his tunes. There is almost an amber glow coming from the stage’s corner when Sag Boody is in the room. Tonight is no different. It seems to Richard he isn’t the first one who notices, that Tara’s other customers are turning towards a music man’s heart warmth too; the same as what Sag Boody would give over to his songs, while re-cooking something of the personalities those songs first expressed. Maybe everyone in here is looking to find the place-names, hidden springs, those untamed personalities first uncovered for them. Maybe, also, they are here to remember how it once had been, and daring, or not daring, to wonder if it could ever be again. The bar is pretty much filled with so many music lovers coming back to a rock n roll time that once looked as if it could never die; a time when a lyrical line seemed to be the fountainhead of what is real, instead of a whisper sneaking its way through a sun blanched day, or a thinly smiling river girl who might not always have a stream to bathe in. Many of them are coming into a time not theirs personally, but that first-formed them that much more surely, cellularly. This can get to be one of those few places where the younger rock n rollers don’t seem burdened with teenage weariness, the confusion involved in coming of age. It is where you can look around and see the premature masks of cynical solutions almost imperceptibly dissolve in a rock n roll rain. There seems no other way to describe what they all hope to find in here tonight. Sag Boody will set his fingers to the strings of his guitar, and, if the room is lucky enough, he will play his songs with the young, less practiced, fingers of a first night’s love. But he’ll also tend to the garden of his songs as carefully as any freeborn lover might who’s lessons he learned in a forest when he is looking to make time with the milk-bottomed night. Sag Boody already tossing back another shot of peppermint liqueur, setting himself up for the first of his songs. You could swear it is the national anthem he starts out to play, even if just a rambling, never ending ballad by a first journeyman of rambling, never ending ballads. Tara’s customers letting Sag Boody know how willing they are to get tilled and turned back under, with the way they raise their glasses to him or turn around in their chairs, their faces brightening, while he starts singing of what it is like to keep living like you are a rolling stone. But Richard pulling back, he has to pull back, from Sag Boody’s music to where Mickey the photo hound came into the Jacaranda’s bar towards the end of last night. While there she is, keeping to herself, a Morning Star, keeping in a corner of the bar with a margarita. Always looking over the proceedings.




Last edited by Terreson, Feb/7/2011, 11:09 pm
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Re: Open Faces Five



The Jacaranda seldom has a bar crowd, as it isn’t the kind of place where bar friends can find each other, passing by each other, on their way through a seaside town’s late-side rounds. Sometimes, however, a party of diners comes into the bar for an after-dinner brandy, a liquor laced cappuccino, or for a last bottle of Champagne. Sometimes, also, there can be the one or two customers coming in from the street like journeymen looking for something to hide behind, and who maybe have a feeling for the restaurant’s green blind Ronald the gardener always tends after. Whatever is the reason, Richard might get a stray customer towards the end of an evening. He’ll be seeing to the last of his duties when someone comes around the corner from out of the hallway. Last night that stray customer was Mickey the photo hound stopping in with his helmet in one hand and his camera in the other. Richard had never before seen Mickey outside of Tara’s Place. He can’t say he knows the man. But after pouring Mickey a drink and noticing how unflinchingly the photographer stared at himself in the bar’s mirror, Richard decided to ask his last customer a last question anyway. Not actually meaning to, he asked one of those questions that can try the tenuous connection between two self-respecting dreamers who most often keep to separate paths.

What he wanted to know was if the eye of Mickey’s camera caught up with the moon beam the man had been chasing after some weeks ago. Mickey looked at him, looking at him for a long moment, before nodding his head and asking if he could buy Richard a drink. Then it was Richard’s turn to nod his head while pouring himself a shot of Irish. He was feeling tired by then, and mostly what he wanted was to go home. But there was also something about this photographer he wanted to know. Richard has never seen a man whose dark room image is as neatly sliced in two, as cleanly cut out of the center of him, as this one’s seems to be. He wanted to know why, even if it looked as if he would have to wait and see what a camera man might say to an overly curious bartender. So he lit a cigarette and he leaned against the bar’s backside liquor cabinet. Mickey then put his hand into an inside coat pocket and pulled out an envelope cream colored and squarely feminine.

Mickey placed his envelope against the bar’s hard and shiny surface. It sat there doing what could be expected of an unmoved object lacking its own source of volition. It did nothing. But there was no one else in the bar by then, no one else in the restaurant except for the night’s manager upstairs filling out the night’s report and readying the night’s bank deposit. And the camera man was still keeping inside his Army field jacket of silent green. Richard found himself wondering about the contents of the envelope. He also found himself keeping a wary eye on it, as if the envelope really could start moving on its own. He knew that, were he inclined to let his imagination go, it might start dancing and leaping on the mahogany boards that never absorb as much of the bar’s lighting as they throw back into the room. Seeing it dance on its own would have only been one of those “just the way it is” moments when you are looking inside of one of the half-light hours of rock n roll. The place-setting doesn’t matter. In a place like Tara’s, or while walking under the neon lighting of a city street. Or even in a quieter grove, such as the Jacaranda’s. You can still catch something moving, even flickering, out of the corner of your eye. It can be a something-or-another that leads you on, even keeping you guessing, and maybe start you wondering again about a loveliness you may or may not have reason for believing in. Unless, of course, you had mischanced upon that loveliness, a loveliness most like a silver winged luna moth flying through the arc of a street lamp, in a moment of sheer terror. A moment whose viscera can often be contained in a question like, what if she doesn’t love me anymore, what if she’s gone away again, or, what is worst of all, what if there really are no second chances? Then the flickering, the light play, becomes like daggers being thrown at you from out of nowhere, or like a sickle shaped knife slicing the heart out of you without you noticing the incision until you are too far gone on the other side of too late. All of which is some sense of what came from the camera man quietly sitting at the bar. Richard also remembered what he had heard Mickey saying, about surgically removing his emotions, on the night when the photo hound went chasing after a moon beam. Richard actually caught a luna moth once. He had been fishing and casting out his net from the end of the town’s pier, when a quick silver moth flew under the full sweep of his net that opened perfectly. A flashing light in the night and she was taken to the bottom of the sea. He felt as much horror and surprise as she must have felt down there. When he pulled his net up again, expecting to see her dead, she fell out from the middle of that net and flew away. She flashed her wings and simply flew away.

The start of what Mickey said, and more with a jab of his hand than with a word, was when he asked Richard to open the envelope on the bar between them. Saying, as he did, it was just a card. The simple saying must have been enough of what a monosyllabic man needed to string together more words than he is accustomed to using, since, he quickly followed with a staccato like description of a love lost encounter, even rapidly firing in its bursts of unleavened emotion.

Just a card is how Mickey began, while Richard took from its envelope one of those cards you can buy in an art gallery, and that had on its front cover a reproduction of one of the gallery’s still-hanging paintings. This one covered with the picture of a painting showing a hazy summer party in progress underneath a brightly colored awning. Maybe they were people enjoying a luncheon party beside a boathouse, as there was in the background the silver gray suggestion of a river peeking over the nearer, pale green river grass. Richard noticed a sailboat back there, or, out there, when Mickey said she was always at her best when giving a party. And it had to be a summertime party or, at least, a French painting of a period, as even the table in the foreground, with the white linen cloth, its bottles of wine, its sherbet glasses, and its bowl of fruit, was rendered that much heavier with the feeling of mid-afternoon atmosphere. The people attending the party were sitting and standing in lazy enjoyment of each other. There was no sense of concern for where they might be on the day following, or for how they had kept themselves on the day before they joined in each other’s company. They were as satisfied with the fruit of their pastime paradise as they seemed ready to drop from the tree of their good fortune. Richard wasn’t certain if he should open the card, so he turned it over instead. He read the artist’s name, realized that it was a Frenchman’s summertime idyll, and he saw it was called The Luncheon.

Mickey said the postmark was from Greece, which is what had thrown him. Otherwise he might not have opened it, wouldn’t have bothered with it, the night he left Tara’s to go looking for a moonbeam. He stopped by the post office that night. He was on his way out of town to a place he knows where the river marsh opens up, and where the moon’s light can turn the marsh grass into a silver field’s day. He just stopped by to check his mail box because it was on his way out of town. That’s all, he said. Just on his way. And the postmark threw him, he said again. Otherwise he wouldn’t have opened the envelope, he said again. It has been so long since he last saw her, since when she told him she would learn how to hate him, that he hadn’t noticed the idyll of a party girl’s signature. That was stupid of him, he said. He still couldn’t believe he didn’t make the connection. But then he opened the card to see who might be writing to him from Greece. He asked Richard, flicking his hand, to open the card too. There was nothing inside except for a photograph of a closely standing couple. They were standing almost sideways to the camera, with the woman holding in hand a glass of white wine. Richard caught his breath at the sight of her, at the sight of a beautiful, almost copper colored woman in her high middle years, and in whose features he could not detect a single blemish or wrinkle. What caught him was a sharpness in the woman’s eyes, a kind of gray clarity the more striking for its contrast to the heavy lidded attitudes of a Frenchman’s summertime women. Then he noticed the orchid in her hair set above a long hanging, silver earring, and that she was wearing white satin. He also noticed how the man standing beside her was turned away from the camera, while she was turned towards a camera’s eye in something of a dare.

Mickey took up his story again, saying as how he is only now getting to where he can go about without the bands of constriction tightening across his chest. He said the whole thing is a surprise to him, bordering on terror, and that he thought he had cut himself loose from her, from the gypsy nights they spent together, from the wasted motions of trying to fit into each other, and from all the hard faced dawns when they held each other while cracking open as easily as a bird’s egg cracks over stone. But when standing in the post office, staring at the picture of this blonde woman staring back at him, and shaking like a child caught out in a lightning storm, he realized how small his recovery has been from a woman having taken him to the center of her more completely than he thought possible. She is still as lovely to him as she was on the first night in the nine years they spent together. The man in the picture, he said, is a mutual friend. Another photographer since become successful. Mickey couldn’t know if there was a connection, and he didn’t much care. But why couldn’t she leave him alone, he wanted Richard to tell him? Why couldn’t she leave him be? Chasing after moon streams, he said, trailing a smile, is as much as he can handle after her. He understood he wasn’t able to push his emotions away from him for her the way he learned to in Nam. This the first time Mickey’s ever made mention of the place and the war. If only she would stay out of his way, Mickey said as wistfully as an ex-soldier might say. It seemed to him maybe he should get lost down some middling, hidden portion of a highway. This being the last of what he said; the last of what the mighty Mickey Man said last night, but not forgetting to motion for his post card to be handed back to him. When the night’s manager stepped into the bar, Mickey was paying for his drinks before signing to Richard a crisp goodnight. He headed for the doorway with helmet in one hand and his camera in the other, leaving the Jacaranda’s last two workers to turn out the lights, lock the doors, and head for home too. While standing in the parking lot, seeing the house’s manager safely to her car, Richard heard a motorcycle man revving his machine up the boulevard. Sounding for all the world like some Highwayman having decided to keep riding, riding, riding, past the old Inn door.

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Re: Open Faces Five




Maybe Sag Boody can sing a Mickey song, Richard thinks with another shot of whiskey. Maybe it should be a song about love gone wrong, about how it is when two lovers get fried, or when the oven door gets locked and they are left to roast alive inside until one of them manages to kick the door open. Then maybe he can sing a song twice over about how a Luna moth must feel when she is surprised from her element, then taken to the bottom of the emotional sea where she cannot breathe. Then a third song, if you please, for that breathless, tasteless, odorless eternity of her rise back to where her wings carry her on the lighter currents of her own dream. There are enough such songs in the canon of rock n roll, finding a few should not be difficult for a singer to do. Even a happy musician could chance upon a stray story of what all past lovers know. That there are some green-gold days they can never have twice over, even if it might be what they want the most; and unless they are wholly, and not only two halves, of a gypsy. Some first and easy kisses always lost forever as soon as the gargoyle of mutually crossed out desire has stamped on those days an indifferent, ashen gray face. But Richard doesn’t mean what he is thinking. He knows that even the smallest suggestion can send Sag Boody to drowning Tara’s company in a sea of emotion where most of them could not survive for long. It is just another manic side, anyway, what Mickey brought into the Jacaranda last night, of how a rock n roll dreamer has to keep on living as if he will never die. Richard is pretty sure the motorcycle man will stop in at the old Inn door again, that his is a half-hearted attempt to free himself of a party girl. And there is not much point in worrying about a chaser of moon streams as long as he still wades into them. But the real reason Richard doesn’t want Sag Boody touching any closer to the story, than the point at which he already passes, is because Richard can’t let go of last night’s tale. Not yet. He can’t turn away, or let himself be taken up inside the easiness of Sag Boody’s heart sane music. He has to get through to where Sean left his apartment, this morning, or he would never look at this thing again. At least, not as clearly, as clinically. As it is Sag Boody already pulls the whole of Tara’s company closer to him. He already sets them on the dock of some bay, leaving them to dangle over what every dreamer knows when the tide looks as if it will keep on rolling away. No sooner has he set them there when he snaps them back, giving them the beat, and showing them how to lose themselves and drift away. Funny how easily they can let themselves be persuaded into drifting away. Even carelessly drifting away to where they can re-find some closed up, locked away, stolen key chance.


After telling the restaurant’s manager goodnight, Richard started making his way back home. So far as he was concerned, the day was finally closing down, and, in his own way, he could then enjoy something of the open-ended night left over. He almost always looks forward to walking the mile or so that takes him to his apartment, even on nights when he is feeling leg tired. Just as he looks forward to opening home’s door, turning on the radio, showering, then sitting out on the balcony with a cup of coffee, a cigarette, sometimes with a news magazine. Other times he stops at the convenience store in route along the boulevard, buying a bag of potato chips, a bottle of tonic water, and a lime to squeeze into the tonic once home. There are also nights when, instead of settling back on his balcony, he makes himself slightly snow blind, tooting a line or two. Those are the nights when Richard needs to feel something a little more, or a little less, than human. Maybe not to feel anything at all. They don’t come often. And he knows the lines only postpone the inevitable, that no pathway set inside a heart’s maze can be straightened. But there are still times when what he needs is a little distance from which to look back on what perpetually goes down in a rock n roll arena. The story of it all, its feeling logic, the mothering/daughtering, incessantly calling child things of its Dionysian and dark nature, even the language of its song and dance, not to mention the closer language, duende driven. All are just so many layers of an untold, past told, naively told tale involving love, life, and death. Richard can occasionaly avail himself of the chance to look down on it all from some clearer window ledge. It is sort of like hoping to see the forest over the trees, like standing inside that same old doorway still in front of a rock n roll company; and that forever opens while at the same time it closes for each and every dreamer. There is still nothing new in any of the story’s particulars, Richard could see again from where he sat, while the breeze of a song might be playing through the chimes. But there is also nothing old about it all. Like a wheel that can’t stop turning, a proud lady who keeps on burning with desire, or like a dark eyed decoy who looks as if she can persuade some high flying ace to bring his machine back down to the ground.


None of these possibilities were in store for Richard last night. He left the Jacaranda, loosened his tie, decided against stopping in at Tara’s Place for last call, and he took his favorite route home along the town’s river wall. When he arrived back at his apartment, there was Sean’s car parked in the driveway. Then there was the silhouette of a horseman sitting on its hood. By way of greeting Richard, Sean said he had just arrived, and that he must have missed finding Richard at the restaurant. Then he reached through the window of his car, pulled out a bottle of Cognac, and he asked Richard if there was any coffee in the house. It was the question key to opening up another one of those late night conversations between the two. Richard couldn’t help but laugh at his friend as he unlocked the door, turned on a light, and started a kettle of water to boil on the hot plate.

Sean has never cared for Richard’s apartment, something Richard has no difficulty understanding. It is not much better than a garret set over a garage belonging to a house long since abandoned. Its interior paneled in the kind of cheap pressboard landlords use to cover unpaintable walls, and not even large enough to be called a studio. In the summertime it is a hothouse. In the winter it is as cold and damp as the nearby salt marsh can make it. There is no other way to describe Richard’s residency there, except to say he is slumming again. Just as he had twenty years before when starting out of high school with a better idea of the squared off symmetry he didn’t want than of how he might get to where he wanted to be. But the apartment has windows; big, double-wide windows, and a French door that opens onto its balcony. Besides, the living room has a built-in bookcase running the length of one of its walls. It’s what persuaded Richard to settle in; room for his books. Sean’s dislike of the apartment maybe has more to do with his own brown paper parcel of associations than with the place itself. All he might say, however, is that the place is too New York for him. He would set another chair out on the balcony, pour two glasses of the spirit he almost always brings with him, and he will wait for Richard to come out with the coffee.

Sean has never talked about himself as much as he did last night, using more words to describe himself, and peeling away more layers of his carefully kept mask, than he has ever in the time they have known each other. Thinking back on it, Richard can’t help but wonder what the difference was in yesterday’s content to cause two such closely guarded men to let something of themselves go. First Mickey, then Sean. But Sean needed no leading questions, and Richard wasn’t looking to find him out. The man just started in on his life, partially protected by the night. He kept on going until there was no place left for him to go. Except maybe back to his garden home. He started by talking as deliberately as any man can trying to clear himself of something. Where he started was with Dennis.

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Re: Open Faces Five


He still remembers the first time he realized Dennis was staring at him, Sean said, even glaring at him from behind those brows. He remembers how it scared him, and in a way he thought he could never be scared again. He didn’t know, at first, what to do with the man, except to stay clear of him. But then there were the nights when they worked together. Before he knew it, Sean said sighing, they were becoming work-place friends. Then, of course, the nights when several of the waiters would go drinking after work, and Sean and Dennis going with them. Just as sometimes Dennis would sit at the bar, after the restaurant closed, drinking his way through a bottle of wine. It was then Sean saw how desperately the she-man is locked inside Dennis, and how sad faced her regard for the man who has such a vise-like grip on her. It is also when, Sean said, he lost something of his fear of Dennis. He knew from the first day what Dennis wanted of him. He also knew he didn’t want to give in. He still isn’t certain why he had. All he can figure is that there was a moment when he felt for how forever the displacements must be in a man like Dennis. He wanted to comfort him for a day, two days, even a week. Dennis always will be his own worst enemy, Sean said while pouring more brandy into their glasses. He will be quicker to lash out in anger at what goes on around, and inside him, than laugh at any part of it.

Then the day came when Dennis got evicted from his apartment, and when Sean took him in. It wasn’t long before Dennis acted as if he never wanted to find his own place again. Dennis could spend his days in front of the television set, his nights too when not working. He would sink into a chair and brood over whatever program was showing. He could keep on brooding until it seemed to Sean as if the garden of his home could sink into itself too. After a first week that soon turned into a month, Sean decided he had had enough. He told Dennis it was time for him to find another place to stay. He also decided it was time to start cutting the strings of sympathy that, as always, can tie him to another she-man. It is just that he felt himself starting to brood too, and in a way not like him; in a way making him feel as if he might not be able to climb out of himself again. It seems strange to him he hadn’t known enough to be afraid of what is most dangerous in a man like Dennis. It is like an abyss, Sean said. Or like a rift running down the middle of Dennis. Maybe it is the place where the two parts of Dennis should be connected. Sean still doesn’t know. But it is reflected in the glare, he said. Now he sees there is nothing even at the bottom of that place; just a hole. If only the man could talk. Maybe he could start mending something of himself back together. Sean tried to get him to talk. He still tries sometimes. But it is as if some overdriving wheel of machine made cogs automatically kicks into gear. Dennis can go moody again, or go looking to lose himself in a spate of violence. Sean wished he could say what will happen to Dennis, or if his friend will find a way of passing between the two sides of himself; the warrior side and the side wanting a man’s body taking him. But he doesn’t think he can help Dennis. For that matter, Sean said after a pause, he still can’t say what is in store for him.


Sean and Richard then sat quietly in the way they can when nothing needs saying. Richard guessed there was still something needing to be said, but that Sean would get around to it when ready. A windy song began to play through the chimes as Sean talked. There is always something hidden, wild, and chilling in the windy tunes playing at that time of night. It made Richard think of the river girl, Lisa, he saw down by the marsh river not too long ago. It also made him think of the late nights he spent fishing, as a child, having snuck out the door, along the salt water tidal river where the night life feeds, breathes, and breaks when fed upon. It was the cold and instinctual feeling that led him down to the river then. As luminous as the phosphorescence the cut of his line could slice out of the water’s plane. Also as frightening. As frightening, Richard starts to see again, as the underside, the coldly instinctual dark side, of a rock n roll culture almost always looking to break some dreamer against a penumbral shore; and that can throw any of them helter skelter against the rock face of stark desire not entirely wanted. It is even the same feeling Richard gets when in any of the town’s beachside bars; except that, there, the feeding and breathing lifelines do not always break mercifully. The disco lighting and the pulsating strobe effects, the mechanically throbbing heartbeats of darkness, and the painted, sloe-eyed graces looking to dance the night away. All of it running along lines of energy that can easily snap, or that can shake the night in a flashing pan of dry electricity. He doesn’t know how else to say it except that, in those bars, the lizard comes out in them all. Something reptilian like what comes through in the wind songs in his chimes in the dark and damp A.M. air. Or when peering over the sandy shoulders of a tidewater’s rim at dawn. It is this starker side of rock n roll, Richard thoght while waiting for Sean to come around again, both a greatest danger and a dragon guarded treasure. It is where dreamers can learn the secret moonlit path leading them from the numinous springs of desire and instinct, through darker reaches of conflict and hungry intent, and out into the sunny light fields of creative choices. But it is also where anyone of them can be eaten alive, where a lizard can always run across another lizard whose appetite is larger. Maybe it is only another animated scene in the movie theme of all that jazz, as the film title frames it. A shiny dim promise of romance that, under a colder kind of lighting, has a way of turning into a black night of bare intentions and unfeeling pleasure, of cold hearted innocence and the swollen hour spent namelessly between two dark moon lovers. Maybe also, Richard thought hesitantly, it is the same dark-of-the-moon urgency that inspires, in a man like Dennis, a twinning desire for something a little closer to his own likeness. Or is it that, instead of seeing a river girl rise out of the dark waters, the she-man, as Sean said, would have seen and first fallen in love with a river boy carried on a glacial shield of light? But there was no point in speculating about a first-forming mix whose content, Richard realized while lighting another cigarette, he can have no play in. All he knows, or thinks he knows, is that sexuality is a sea dream like rock n roll, a swirling sea dream. And that at different depths, fed by different currents, different images of loveliness become constellated for a dreamer while rising to the surface of things.

Richard was coming up again, coming back to the balcony where sitting with a friend, when he heard Sean say he has never had to work before. Richard doesn’t know Sean’s age, but he figures the man is older than the 28 years he allowed himself, once, to a puppy waiter’s curious question. Sean then telling his friend he has never had to work before. Richard guessing it had nothing to do with some birthing lap of luxury, or, even, with an Irishman’s lucky genius for money.
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Re: Open Faces Five


Sean started in again by reminding Richard he grew up in Manhattan, but that he had been moved out to Long Island at about the same time he moved into adolescence. He wondered if Richard thought about how, for a New Yorker, you are either in Manhattan or on Long Island. It is never the other way around. They are both islands, but you are never in Long Island or on Manhattan. Maybe the difference has something to do with it all, with how he started making his train wise way back into the city almost from the day it was taken away from him. He would skip school so that he could spend more time with the friends he left behind. Except he never spent that much time with his friends. At least, not in comparison to how much time he spent coming out of another subway tunnel, or walking down a close fitting street like Lexington Avenue, or crossing over from one side of the island to the other just to find a street he had not been through before. He knew about being city smart. He probably knew it before he knew anything else. So he never felt concern for what could happen to him, even when he was finding his late day way through the lower west side. Besides, he was a glider, Sean said, at least he had been one then. He asked Richard if he could understand. No one ever touched him out on the streets, Sean explained. Nobody ever bothered him, or jostled him when he waited to cross an intersection. It was as if he could slide along, glide through the crowded sidewalks, immune to everything going down around him, and safely slipping by all of those out-of-step pedestrians. So he was left to himself, left to grow through his teenage years while registering sensations of what got stewed and brewed in New York’s constant cauldron. That it was a cauldron is the only way he can explain what it was like to be in Manhattan, and why he hated being taken out to Long Island.

And it isn’t just what was being cooked up all around him that kept him going back in, or, even, when he first understood how charmed he was while keeping himself open and vulnerable without getting boxed, quartered, or sliced in two. Maybe it was being a teenager. Or, maybe, it was being a teenager then, and going down into the Village to hear a free concert, or over to Central Park for the same, or tripping out the door of a friend’s apartment and being hushed down an elevator and through a revolving door like a floodgate for a boy whose hallucinogenic, streaming perceptions were getting caught up in a rainbow river of sounds, smells, and light. But maybe it was just being a teenager, Sean said again. Being new and unused, he thought again. While keeping, for the longest time possible, on the trail to some hidden treasure he knew had to be waiting for him. He asked Richard if he could remember a song about watching the kind of night rose than can grow in the gardens of Spanish Harlem. What a lovely shade of red that rose promised him then, even after it was taken off the radio.

He never had to work, Sean said bringing himself back, because there was always someone willing to pay him for entry into his innocence. Some man or woman coming through the door of a friend’s apartment, or into the room of another party, or who would come up and stand next to him in front of a shop window. Those times in the windows were when he would see the reflection of someone standing next to him. They would be quietly standing there, waiting for him to respond. If he turned and smiled, he found himself on his way to another well-appointed apartment where, he hoped, he might come across that rose. If it wasn’t there, he thinks it never was, he was sure to be given a consolation price. So he passed through high school in this manner, giving the teachers who taught him as much as they needed to ignore him, and on into the kaleidoscopic years, those fandango years, when every day was its own theme and every night a variation.

When he met the horsewoman who taught him how to ride, Sean said as if fearful of losing momentum, he knew he had found his way to something since as hazy, and far off, as his own life. Which is not exactly what he means, Sean said. It was just that, on the first day after he met her at a party on the upper East side, and he went with her to go riding over the evenly green fields of her farm in Jersey, he had a sense of arriving somewhere all the more convincing for how easily the horses in her stable took to him. She was quick to notice it too, his horse lady friend, and so she started teaching him all she had. Soon he was teaching her too, drawing on a well of horse sense he never had to work at, never had to think about. He then stayed with her for several months on her farm. Learning, riding, grooming, and being groomed. The two of them spent every day and every close night together. But then she went to Europe for a summer. She left Sean to watch over her stable of horses. It was when he started making his way, as effortlessly as everything else had been for him, into the circuit of hunters and jumpers, and into the circle of landed gentry that owned them. He was already showing her thoroughbreds for her, he was even stabling and training horses belonging to her friends. When summer came to an end, a summer he described as the season of his initiation, and the horsewoman returned with another young man at her side, he said he still couldn’t feel sadness in the autumn closing down. She suggested to him he could take up house in one of her outlying cottages. She said she wanted him to keep the charge of her thoroughbred horses. Sean thanked her. He said he smiled for her in much the same way he had smiled on the first night when she asked him to go riding with her. But he told her he thought he would move back into the city, that he had been missing his night light city. The surprise for him, Sean told Richard, is that it wasn’t true. He never even thought of his town in the half-year spent on her farm. In the way of its unfolding, moving back into town was how he came to lead a double life of days spent working on one estate or another, of riding his excitable jumpers, and of going back to his train wise habit for keeping inside roses belonging to city nights. But then the very same time running smoothly for him, broke open all around him. And there was red rain falling in his city.

Sean again poured more brandy for them both. Richard noticed, even in the light falling short of the door, how the man’s hands were shaking a little. There was also something in Sean’s face he isn’t certain he has ever seen before in him. Or was it that he has been too easily satisfied with an outline, and a mask, of what his friend has wanted to show before? It is that there seemed to be something rising over the green of Sean’s eyes, something arching Sean’s face in a far off sentiment for things not all that far away. A thought, an idea, a face of loveliness, or a face of terror. Maybe it was just a memory, a slender finial rising from out of a crown of experience that every man comes to wear. And when does a memory ever leave you, Richard would like to know? When is anyone actually free of that jeweled, or thorny, crown of experience that can as easily bear a man’s head down to the level of the ground as it can set him on top of revolving thrones? What are any of the reasoning heart’s memory places if not semi-precious stones set in a heart-felt sense of time reeling, circling, falling back in, being pulled out again? This maybe something of what was uncertainly balanced before Sean’s eyes, while he slipped back inside the rose petals of his city. Then Richard thought Sean was going to change his mind; that whatever else Sean wanted to set out would stay buried inside his interior garden. It even looked as if Sean was turning the weight of a memory back under, just as he started up again, started talking again, starting in on the middle of his story as if there never is a beginning or end.
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Re: Open Faces Five



They lived together for awhile, Sean said. They met each other shortly after the disco bars came to town, and while the looking glass pleasure of disco’s incessant music was still a shiny mirror of fantasy and self-absorption. It was the thing he liked the most about disco’s mechanical beat. He frequently spent his nights in any one of the wide angled bars just so he could dance, and keep on dancing, until time to go home. As often as not he would go into one of those places and dance alone on the floor. Reveling in his own movements out on the floor, and never thinking the pleasure that came from dancing by himself could be anything but innocent. It was on one of those nights, and in one of those places, where he met her. He was dancing somewhere in the middle of some large room, he said, giving himself up to the gyrating, nearly spiraling energy that could build on itself on the dance floor. He then felt her next to him, and knowing that she was turning, twirling, even building herself up for him. They spent the rest of the night dancing together. Only later, Sean said, after they went home together, did he learn she had left her companion for the night back behind a bar room table. He also realized, Sean said quietly, that she was like him, someone whose innocence was a sought after, high priced commodity. Just as she eventually told him she had realized it too when they awoke together on that first morning together, and when she felt how they were still as closely spooned into each other as they had been when falling asleep the night before. She would tell him she knew then how, like herself, he had spent too many nights slipping away from another loveless transaction. Sean swears, he said leaning out of himself, they were both born over the city on the same windy night. They were that easy together, that perfectly fitted into each other. She always the loveliest girl he thought he has ever seen coming in on a breeze. And there was never the need for them to talk about the particulars of their love lousy encounters, or of how they each had learned to give without being taken, or of how they also learned to know when it is time to leave a companion who started wanting more of them than what the gifts of money and things could have of them. They just never discussed that other life. Neither after their first night together, or at any other time when they came home to each other, falling into their own easy company, and playing at any of the make-believes they could set out to play in the new apartment they soon took together.

They somehow had the best games to play, the only rule being there could not be one winner or one loser. Their games were usually in the nature of midnight picnics on the floor, while pretending they were lunching before the animals at the Central Park Zoo. Or of a new record one of them would bring home for them to hear, and which could quickly turn into a live concert. Or in the way they could tease each other into falling against the reluctant cushions of a late night’s sleep by telling themselves they were napping before their dinner guests arrived. She always bringing him a present, Sean said while shaking his head. It was often a new tie for him to add to a growing collection. What a funny predilection she had for ties, Sean said, shaking his head again. On mornings when there was no place she needed to be, he would take her to the farm where he might be working, training another estate owner’s thoroughbreds. They would then spend the day riding, or with her watching him train a young horse, or, even, conspiring about how it could be if Sean had his own stables. But what is the point, Sean said and turning to Richard, almost staring him down, in talking about the little things he and his windy girl did together? They were just things two lovers can do together, he said again while downing his glass of brandy and pouring himself another. There is nothing special about any of the ways they smoothly spent their days and nights, except that it had been theirs, and because she is the only one, for him, who has ever wanted to be with him, dance with him, without looking to swallow the breath out of him. Maybe he hadn’t found his rose with her. And maybe he did. He has begun to think he did find his way into that imaginary rose garden with her. Not that it matters; not anymore. Richard swears he then watched a man pull a long night’s cloak around himself, while sinking as far back into that cloak as any man can.

He doesn’t know who sent them, Sean continued and starting to shake again. He thinks it might have been Rudy, an uptown patron of his who tended to the jealous side. But they could have been summoned from her side too. He can’t know who they were. Not that it matters either, not anymore. He can’t even remember how many of them there were. But they broke open the door of their apartment while he and his windy girl slept. They came through the rooms, and they were swarming around the bed before he was able to pull himself out of his stupid sleep. Then they took her up and they threw here screaming out the window. It was five floors to the pavement below, he said, and he heard her screaming all the way down to the street from where they had him pinned against a wall. Then they took his pretty boy’s innocent face, holding it so that he couldn’t turn away, while they sliced it from forehead to jawbone into so many red ribbons. Then they let him go, never saying a word, gone as quickly as they had come. He somehow found his way to the street and back around to the alley where she lay. She was broken, Sean said, but she was still alive. If only his windy girl really had been able to fly, Sean said. He kept her alive for another year. He put her in a special home out in Jersey where she could have private nurses and therapists wanting to put her back together. He went to her every day of that year, often sleeping in the chair next to her bed, waking up to drive to another farm and stable. Only, she had been left a vegetable, and she never knew herself or him again. No more dancing in her, Sean said and asking his friend if he could understand. She couldn’t dance anymore or take his warmth with that easy lamp light all her own. When the day came that she died, there was nothing left of him to tape back together again. It is the last day he can remember clearly for another two or three years. He can see himself getting out of his car the day he left her nursing home the last time. He can see himself walking down the road. He must have still been in Jersey. He started walking until he must have walked out of any sense, or recollection, of his life.

He is pretty certain, thinking back on it since, that some people must have taken him in. But he can’t say if they were friends or strangers. He can almost remember being snowbound somewhere. Maybe even waiting on tables in a resort somewhere. He thinks it was then he learned how to ski. He hadn’t known how to ski before she died and now he does. It must have been then, but all he can remember for sure is how bright everything seemed to him. So bright, he said, blindingly white and cold. But even the memories of how they had lived together are only now coming back to him. The memories of his windy girl. At first, they started coming back in the nightmares awakening him and almost always ending in a woman’s scream and fall outside some tenement’s window. Now, sometimes, he sees a face on a street that makes him think of something he knows he should remember. He starts working at that memory until a part of it comes back to him, or until the sweat is pouring out of him instead. He can spend his nights at home, sitting in a chair, or having walked the beach, looking to fit the puzzle pieces back together. Sometimes he gets a scene to dovetail in the way he thinks it should. At other times he is left dangling and he is falling with her again. All he can be certain of is that there was a girl who loved him, who danced with him inside the lip of a rose petal, who came home to him because she wanted to, who played with him, gave him ties, and whose face he can see again. If only it would stop hurting every time he sees her face smiling on him. If only he could have her back, he said putting down his glass. If only his face hadn’t been made into a mask thwarting the wind. If only he could slip down beside her again.

The man sitting out on Richard’s balcony was crying by then. Only, there were no tears being released to wash his eyes, and his body heaved with the kind of tremors that take hold of a man who doesn’t know how to cry. For the second time, yesterday, Richard held a friend by the shoulders. Only, it was no longer the same day, but this morning, and another shitty day dawned. There was no music in the wind chimes to set them at distance from Sean’s reckonings, no windy song to persuade them Sean has any other option but to endure, and to keep on waiting until his memory of a smile is something other than torment. In the still-life moment coming just before the sun breaks open Richard heard the starting hum of a city’s waking machinery that soon becomes a roar of traffic and busy industry. It seemed to him Sean heard it too, that the tremors running through Sean’s shoulders slowly gave way to a steadier, blind rhythm for carrying a lost lover through nights following days, days following the concentric circles of night. While Richard made for them a last cup of coffee he got why Sean had moved to this subtropical, seaside town. Looking to let himself go along shorelines of more natural inclinations only a part of it. He is looking for her again, Richard realized, looking for his windy girl again. He is looking for the key that opens the door having been closed on him, but that can never be forced by the most violent acts of possession. The last of this morning witnessed two friends sitting down on the river wall, coffee cup in hand, watching the sun rise over the waterway. There were no more words.
Feb/27/2011, 5:49 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Open Faces Five


What is any of this anyway to anyone sitting in Tara’s Place tonight? What difference can a broken down dream involving a windy girl make to these rock n roll customers in here to swing before a rock n roll stage? Sag Boody owns the crowd by now. He has been stringing them along. It looks as if they just might overtake him from where he strides through his lyrical stories in front of them.

He has been leading them all inside the forever forests of tuneful desires and gentle conquests. He has shown them the secret break between the curtaining trees. He still manages to stay just ahead of them as he takes them along a rainbow stream where a sun-star’s light pouring through the trees can become a liquid thing, and where rock n roll emotion still gets conceived. Maybe it is not much more than a notion that keeps him playing his tunes for them, or that keeps them close on his heels; barely an idea, maybe a hunch, that a certain kind of music can save an immortal soul. This a song Sag Boody has already played for them. A song about levees, Chevys, and three most admirable men whose music played a part in starting a first rock rolling. And when he isn’t looking to catch them up in the net of a notion, he shows to them, instead, any one of the many pathways meandering along in a kind of rock n roll digression.

Such as the wintry path where other-place dreaming can be a sweetest longing for anyone to be feeling on a cold and gray winter’s day, on such a winter’s day. Or where a dreamer will keep walking amidst the smells and sights of crimson and clover, over and over. Or maybe Sag Boody just set them all on a jet plane, being unable to wait for a fast train, while admitting to them he is still stuck inside some Memphis kind of blues again, or, what would be worse, that he can no longer see the end of a street named Penny Lane. Maybe, also, he has been singing to his customers about something he heard through the grapevine, or over the telephone lines, like there still being four men dead in O-HI-O, or that a tambourine man can revisit his highways again, or, even, that it never does make a difference how many times the authorities win, so long as it is a heart of gold that keeps a runner running. If it appeared, earlier in the session, that Proud Mary keeps on burning, that someone will always be looking to ride Old Dixie down, that there are some hotels you can never leave no matter how many times you pay your bill, or that riding a storm, like running on empty, is something very near to a total eclipse of the heart, Sag Boody as quickly shows how he can turn his pear shaped guitar around and play for them his Venus songs, Mississippi Queen songs, Nights in White Satin songs, Cinnamon Girl songs, Sandy and Sara songs, and all of the Sue, Suzanne, Susie and Susie Cue songs he can think of. Or maybe he takes them back down another Yellow Brick Road, or matching his strides to those of some gentle giant named Bo Diddley, while telling them of a place he knows where they can sing in the sunshine, and laughing every day with flowers in their hair, for another newborn year. Or maybe he has ferried so many music lovers across some river called the Mercy, and suggesting they should stay a little bit longer, while he showed to them how to Moon Dance. All still a story he sings for them, a story not having much to do with anything other than with some excitable notion of here and now. All still being strung together out of a musical instrument that, for all the world, is shaped like some cave dweller’s sculpted stone of a big bottomed, fertility minded Venus. Richard has no doubt but that the melodies, rhythms, and rhymes of Sag Boody’s stories have, once again, been wound around Tara’s customers, and that the music man takes them inside the cloak of his songs until they wear it too. Until they swim around inside that cloak as if it is a Milky Way drapery catching them up, and carrying them out, on a milky tide too.

All Richard has to do is look out across the tables at the young lady sitting not too far away, and see the tracks of her tears on her face like silver streams; even if he can’t be certain if it is the song Sag Boody plays touching a young girl’s heart, or if it was what he said before starting to sing about a man’s last garden party. Sag Boody said – I miss Ricky, how about you? - Maybe so young a woman isn’t thinking about a soft-rock singer from many years ago who has remained a sloe eyed boy named Ricky. Or maybe she got caught out in an unguarded moment and thinking about them all, thinking about all the Rickys, Otises, Janises, Jims, Johns, Sams, and Duanes flying too close to the sun, or keeping on going until someone stopped them with a gun, or who burned themselves out for a song like a, like a what, like a, yes, like a Luna moth.

None of Tara’s customers are wanting to let Sag Boody go, even though he has played his third encore. It looks as if they are wanting to dance in the streets again, taking the story back out onto the streets again. Richard wondering about Annie again as Sag Boody turns off his stage lights, the amber of his heart felt nights for another last time. How is she doing? How is this young girl doing whose body got picked apart, pierced, scraped, by a pair of clinical hands?

Prince Melon had told Richard Annie visited with Sheila this morning. The Prince also said Sheila then drove with Annie to the city, and that, after working her afternoon shift at the bar, she left with Annie to spend a few days in a hideaway cottage further down the coast. This means, Richard only now gets, that Annie is not alone today, that she hadn’t tried to face an out-turned day on her own. If the two women are away for a few days somewhere further down the beach, it means Annie is with Sheila who is pregnant. Who is Sheila, who is blessedly pregnant too. Why hasn’t Richard made the connection before now? Especially, since, as with everyone else at the Jacaranda, he has known for a while that the Prince’s Sheila is blessedly pregnant. What a marvelous sleight of young wisdom being dealt out between these two. Seems they have gone away for a few days to a place where Annie might be free enough to start making herself whole again. They’ll spend a few days in one of the small beachside cottages dotting the coastal highway, where they can sit in the sun, bathe in a pool of yellow sunlight, fostering one girl’s child-dream while healing another girl’s conception of pain. Again Richard feels like he is looking through a swinging doorway. Then there is what the Prince of Sunshine said about soon being a parent. How it is he and Sheila are building their nest in the new apartment they have taken. How they are saving their money, how they make their arrangements at the birthing center, how they see to their arrangements in an order that seems natural. Eventually, he had said, they’ll get married. As the Prince talked about these things his eyes opened wide. He said, shaking his head, he didn’t understand why he should have to feel pregnant too. He is gaining weight, he said, and getting sick too. It just didn’t make sense to him he should have to take on an expectant mother’s disposition too.

So how do you thank a Prince of Sunshine for pulling you back up from too far down ? For giving you something to take out of a day and a night and another morning of rocky ridges. Tara’s lights are going up, signaling it’s soon time to go home. Like clockwork Hugh steps through the door on his last-call round of all the local bars, just as Sag Boody largely passes him on his own way out the door for home. Hugh isn’t alone, tonight, nor are Dudley and Pulitzer the only ones walking in with him. Suddenly it is time for Richard to stop writing before Hugh and company come over to say hello, and to maybe have another last round of drinks with them. Time to be closing the cardboard covers of a theme book, and certainly time to be finishing off the last of stupid sentences. There can never be a point in ignoring an older sailor and his friends. Nor in refusing assistance closing Tara’s Place down. Not when she is with them too, the browned eyed girl named Melissa stepping through the door.
Mar/5/2011, 8:59 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 




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