Pastoral Genocide

The Only Bad Part about Flying is Landing
September 13, 2008, 6:15 am
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She’s telling me about her dream while we’re sitting at the kitchen table. It’s early in the day, not quite light yet. I’m tired and yawn while I hand her a cup of coffee. She’s got a look on her face, a distant and quixotic look. She sighs like she’s been somewhere and, now, she’s glad to be back. She says to me, “It was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t breathe; at first, there was everything and then there was nothing and it didn’t matter to me, either way. I’ve never felt anything like it.”

Her recollection of her dream is foggy and inconclusive. It has a non-linear plot and it’s hard to follow. I try, though. I like hearing her dreams. They’re a slice of her, a piece of something meaningful. It’s a personal thing, sharing your dreams. I don’t often remember my dreams. We’ve been married eight years and only recently has she started telling me about where she goes when she falls asleep.

Anyway, she’s saying that it started slowly. Her dream. She was walking to work like she always walks to work. “I didn’t know it was a dream, at first,” she says. “It was bright day, a blue day. It was beautiful and I remember thinking that this was kind of day that makes you feel good to be alive.” I know about those kinds of days so I nod my head.

She continues, “Everything changed, though. I got closer to the shop and the air seemed heavier, like a cold front was moving in. But there was no wind, nothing. The day looked the same but it felt, um, different. And then I noticed that there was no sound, anywhere. It was quiet and I felt so alone. But I wasn’t scared. I was just there and I was walking to the shop, counting my steps.”

She’s been trying to get into shape, lately. So she counts her steps. She told me that she tries to walk seven miles a day and figures that one of her steps is equal to two feet. That way, according to her, one mile is equal to two thousand and ten steps and seven miles is equal to eighteen thousand and four hundred steps. I don’t know how she keeps track of it all. To me, her schematics seem neither worthwhile nor efficient. But that’s how she is. It’s endearing.

So, she’s counting her steps and almost to work when it starts to rain. “It was the weirdest thing, she says. “It was raining but it was sunny and the rain was coming down in big, fat drops. It wasn’t making any sound. Everything was quiet, but I could smell the rain. It was waterlogged and heavy, you know, but it also smelled good. Comfortable, like everything was different but that was okay. And the drops were hitting me but I wasn’t getting wet.”

She says she gets to the shop and unlocks the door, like she does every morning. She steps inside and she notices it smells like coffee. “It smelled fresh and new and it was, you know, a good thing. Like, I’ve always loved the smell of coffee, maybe more than I like to drink it. I think a lot of people are like that. I am.” And I think about it for a second and I agree. She’s right, coffee is about anticipation, about gentle pauses and the logistics of inhalation.

“And then, it everything turned upside down,” she says, her face curdling into a frown. She’s concerned about her dream and even now that she’s awake, it’s following her. “I heard this siren, like a tornado siren. It was close and I could tell the megaphone was circulating. It was loud and then it would sort of slink into the distance and then it would get loud again. I didn’t know what to do so I just stood there. It started to get hot, like really hot and the siren was still going off and from the window I could see that the sky was still distant and blue and I’ve never been so confused before.”

She stops for a second, to take a sip of coffee. She spills some on her shirt and says “goddamnit.” She grabs for a napkin and tries to wipe it off. But her shirt is cotton and the coffee has soaked in. She looks at me and continues onward. She’s talking fast, like she’ll forget it if she doesn’t get everything, absolutely everything, out right away.

“I go outside and then I see a formation of planes flying over my head. They’re dropping things, black specks that look like aspirin pills, out of their bellies and it takes me a minute to realize that these are bombs and they’re dropping them right on top of me, they’re floating down from above. I’m scared, you know. I’m scared that I’m going to die and that these bombs are going to kill me. I’m scared and I don’t know what to do so I run inside and sit under the front desk. I try to remember what we learned when we were in school and we had to practice against the Russians coming and dropping bombs on us. So I grab a thick book and I’m cowering there.”

“Then, I hear a boom and everything shakes. It just like what I expected it would be like. It was so loud and I was scared and all I could think about was those poor people in Iraq and how their lives must be so hard. Everything went fuzzy and white and then I wake up. But I don’t really wake up; it’s just part of the dream. I’m lying in bed and you’re gone. There’s a depression in the sheets but it’s cold and you’re gone and I don’t know where you are. I feel so alone, I want you to be next to me and you aren’t and I don’t know what to do.“

She looks shaken. She’s always been a very beautiful woman. Her face is perfect and there’s not a single thing about it I would change. Right now, it’s draped with a look of childish concern that makes me want to hug her. But I don’t. We just sit there and then she starts talking again.

“I get out of bed and I look for you and I find you in the garage. You’re pouring gasoline into the lawnmower and I try to get your attention. I say ‘John,’ really loudly, but you don’t look up. I walk over to you and I touch you but you don’t notice. All I want is for you to notice me but you don’t. I’m not there but I am and it’s so confusing that I go back into the house and sit on the couch and think about things. I’m trying to make sense of everything but I can’t and suddenly I feel so sleepy. It’s a good sleepy, a comfortable sleepy and I sort of fall into it, you know, start to fade in and out and I feel so warm and happy. But I don’t know why I feel happy, I just do. That’s the last thing I remember.”

And then she gets up. She clears the coffee cups from the table and places them in the sink and goes upstairs. I hear the water turn on and I know that she’s stepping into the shower. I’m still in the kitchen, alone and thinking about her dream.


September 8, 2008, 4:45 pm
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Everybody got fucked, in way or another. My dad went to jail for a couple years. My sister caught a meth addiction. My mom ran off with a biker hick named Johnny Watson. I got into a car accident and had my left arm amputated.

So, it went from bad to really bad to intolerably bad. The bottom fell out. My parents always drank. It got worse, like all these things always do. They started drinking more and hitting each other. It’s hard to hold either one more accountable than the other. I know that sounds weird to say. Men shouldn’t hit women, I agree with that. But she started it as much as he did. They’re both to blame and there’s no way around it.

I’m not sure why they stayed married, really. If you no longer love someone, you no longer love them. In the bigger scheme of things, that’s ok. It happens. The personality is not a static thing. It changes and reinvents itself. But these people, my parents, they aren’t practical people, rational people. They are near-sighted reactionaries of the classic sort. They deal with bad things by drinking harder and longer and screaming terrible things at each other.

The night it happened was miserable. Everything about it. The day had dragged itself along like a dying animal, humid and endless. It was hard to breathe, everything seemed so goddamn sticky. They started drinking early because it was Saturday. By dinner time, there had been yelling. My dad threatened to hit her. That was always a bad sign, a harbinger of a soon to arrive certainty.

By eight o’clock, the sun was gone and the moon had roosted like a blood orange in the early September night. They were going at it, hard. She was slurring something and he was slurring something and none of it, really, made any sense. She threw a knife at him and he threw a left hook at her. She missed; he didn’t. The neighbors called the cops and they showed up to find her sitting on the floor with her three front teeth in her hand. She was pretty bloody and mad as hell. He locked himself in the bathroom and the cops had to break the door down to get at him.

I thought, eventually, she would calm down and ask for his release. She didn’t. She pressed charges, took it to trial. She told the County that he raped her and hit her on the regular and was the kind of guy that needed to be locked up. I don’t disagree with her.

They gave him three years, two of them suspended. They sent him to a real jail, not County. He was a repeat offender and they did what they said they would do after the last time he got arrested. Two weeks after my dad got to prison, he joined a white power gang and stabbed a Mexican. The guy almost died, apparently. They revoked my father’s suspension and gave him the full sentence plus two more. I don’t disagree with that decision, I really don’t.

My mom filed for and received her divorce shortly after the trial had ended. She started hanging around with this piece of shit named Johnny Watson. I hate that sonofabitch. He’s a fucking pervert and I’d like to slash his throat. He’d stare at my sister’s ass like it was alright, like it was perfectly normal for a 47 year old man to gawk openly at the 19 year old daughter of his girlfriend. He’d say sick things to her, ask her twisted questions about twisted things and laugh in this growling cackle that would make your skin crawl.

I told my mom he was no good and she didn’t listen. He bought her whisky drinks at the bar and treated her with disingenuous respect and took her out to the movies every now and again. He didn’t hit her. She liked that, I guess. She stayed with him. They moved down to Houston about a year ago and I haven’t heard from her since. I don’t miss her.

But my sister missed her. They had always gotten along alright and they had their own personal relationship that I wasn’t privy to. Good for them, you know? Anyway, she missed her and felt bad about things and started doing things that she shouldn’t have been doing. She got hooked on meth and now she’s a skeleton with rotten teeth. I don’t recognize her eyes anymore and I think she’s gone. That kills me. She’s my baby sister, you know? We went through all this together and now she’s leaving.

Maybe I’m taking the easy way out, blaming my mom’s departure for my sister’s destruction. I’m not sure. It doesn’t and can’t matter at this point. What’s done is done and there’s no sense in arguing with any of it. I do know that I feel alone and abandoned and that I miss the way things used to be. Even though they were bad, far from anything or anywhere close to perfect, it was something. Occasionally, things were good. Christmases and days at the beach in the summer.  Ephemeral? Of course. But that was part of what made them good. Now, I feel pretty lonely about most things and it’s hard because I’ve got no one to talk about anything with.

About six months ago, I got into a bad wreck with a pickup truck. It was snowing a little bit and I lost control. I slid across the median and side-swiped a blue F-150 and sheared the hell out of the side of my car. My arm got caught up in the wreckage and I woke up in the hospital in more pain than you could imagine. They told me my options and said I needed to act fast. I told them to cut it off, if meant not dying. So, now I’ve got one arm and four hundred thousand dollars in hospital bills.

Losing my arm doesn’t have much to do with anything, other than the sense that I’m tired of all these bad things happening to me. I see the good life and I want it, but I’m entirely unsure on how I should go about finding it.

September 3, 2008, 10:15 pm
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The internet has changed everything for the worst. There’s no two ways about it. I remember when I first started out. Business was alright and slowly got better. I built all of this with my hands. I built it all and that’s the only thing I’ve ever really been proud of. It’s hard, making nothing into something, even if it’s hardly something. I scratched and I fought, I worried and anxiously battled the omnipresence of ruin. I’ve had a couple ulcers from the stress of it all. But I did it, I made it. And now, the internet is taking everything, literally everything away.

People just don’t buy pornography in person anymore. Or at least, not like they used to. Maybe they’re embarrassed, maybe they’re ashamed. That’s reasonable, I guess. Sure, truckers will always be around. They’ve always been around. Truckers are a special brand of creep, a special type of dirtbag. The open road and its long stretches of loneliness can do that to man, twist and shape the mind into obtuse and perverse shapes. But, hey. Truckers helped me send my kid to college. They paid off my mortgage and helped me take my wife to the Bahamas a couple times. All that’s besides the point, though.

I started selling dirty movies and sex toys in 1976. I bought a shack on the side of Interstate 80. I had plans to build an empire. The empire never materialized. There’s not a whole lot to this industry: get some movies, some pictures, maybe a rubber dick or two and sell them to whoever you can. I started out small time, you know, selling the softcore stuff. You’ve gotta remember this was over 30 years ago. Things were different, then. But, even then, I had to battle the goddamn bible beaters hand over fist. They’re sons of bitches and nasty, petty people. I never went big time because I couldn’t fathom fighting with these people. Over what? Me trying to put food on my family’s table. The damnedest thing about it is that people love pornography. They crave it. Humans are sick fucks and that’s alright.

I never got into the fringe stuff, never felt it was right. I took it a little farther, but not too far. I got into the harder stuff, you know, the stuff they’ve got in Europe and Asia. I sold pocket pussies to creeps who will never sniff a real one. But, always, there were lines and limits. I’m not talking about morals, I’m talking about doing things the right way. I take pride in doing things the right way, I take pride in having grace and class and integrity. If a man can’t hold his head high, then what can he do? It never ceased to amaze me, though. I’d be working the counter on a Tuesday morning and some hotshot in an Italian suit and a pair of wing tips would come strolling in. He’d saunter to the counter and nonchalantly ask me for some fucking little kids porn. Twinks, they call it. I’d tell him to fuck off and he’d look at me like I was the sick one.

The internet made everything different though. It changed things, rearranged them and made them strange and unfamiliar. By this time, I’d carved out a pretty good living for myself. Put my kids through college, paid off my house, had two brand new pick up trucks sitting in the driveway, gleaming and shining underneath the afternoon sun. It started slowly at first and then turned into something different. This, all of this, reminds me of the Mississippi River. The Mississippi starts way up in Minnesota and isn’t much of anything; a trickle of water that slips slowly and quietly through the grass. But, eventually, it’s a monstrous and looming thing, a river so thick and deep that you can’t imagine how something like this came about in the first place. That’s how it happened with me.

It started like everything starts. Things change but you don’t see it at first. You don’t see anything. You just keep on living like you’ve always been living. You eat dinner, you mow your grass. You watch television and think about the weather or how the weather used to be. And then, it hits you. It’s big, it’s monumental. It slams into you and leaves you bruised and estranged with an anxious feeling in your stomach. Just like that. Everything changes and nothing is fair or good anymore.

Now, only the truckers still come. They like to shoot the shit, talk about things. They tell me about their lives. They tell me about hauling grapes from North Carolina to Nebraska or machine parts from Los Angeles to Chicago. They talk about long stretches on the road and what it feels like to be really and totally alone. They talk about gas prices and how they’re on the rise and how it’s changing everything, for the worst. I can identify with them, in a way. And I’m thankful for them. I don’t make a good living anymore. I don’t make anything, anymore. Last week, the IRS sent me a letter dripping with bureaucratic promises of financial execution. And that’s fine. Why delay the inevitable? The end is almost here and I’m trying to be alright with that.

September 1, 2008, 6:08 pm
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The fact of the matter is that pregnant women make me feel uncomfortable. I hate looking at them, I hate being around them. They’re mammoth, sagging beasts with cartoonishly large breasts and temperament issues. They roar like angry bears, primal and enraged. I’ve knocked three different girls up. It’s ridiculous, really. My semen has enormous purpose. Its efficacy is a towering and significant thing, a chalkish and sticky blend of force majeure and biological process.

I’ve got these three kids, and I hate them. Doesn’t that sound terrible? It is terrible. Kids are nothing but little assholes who love sugar. Mostly, though, I hate their moms. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s don’t have sex with a Puerto Rican. Nothing, literally nothing good can come of it. They’re nasty people. Angry, all the time. It’s a biblical fury, a delicate netting of Spanish and English and spittle. They hit like men. They fuck like water buffalos on methamphetamines. They aren’t afraid to have their brothers slit the throat of your dog if you don’t pay your child support on time. It’s fucking nuts.

Anyway, I’ve two kids with two different Puerto Ricans. I actually had a threesome with them, if you can believe that. I did far too much cocaine that night. Barely, I remember a blur of tanned breasts, polymer fingernails, and me ejaculating gloriously and robustly, everywhere. Two months later, they hunt me down and tell me that I’ve got them both pregnant. Which was horeshit, considering one of those bitches gave me herpes. I don’t and won’t ever believe that one of the kids is mine. He’s too dark, his eyes don’t look like mine. He isn’t mine. Unbelievable, really. Fuck cocaine. It’s for Europeans and fucking idiots.

The other kid I have with a fat white girl named Chris Everett. Sounds ridiculous, right? Like, Olympics Chris Everett. Same name, different person. This girl has the thickest upper arms you’ve ever seen. They’re like baby hippopotamus legs only soft and pocked with lumpy dimples of fat. I originally fell into line with his girl through fate and chance. And by fate and chance, I mean Internet dating. She sent me an e-mail, I sent her an e-mail. We exchanged stats. She lied, I didn’t. Boom. We met at PF Changs and before I knew it, she’s inhaling my penis like a feral hog eating a corncob.

In each case, I lobbied for an abortion. Hard. The Puerto Ricans claimed Catholicism. Chris Everett said abortions were for dumpster blacks. I’m not sure what she meant by that, really. She’s from Kentucky and sees life in austere and uniformed terms of black and white. I tried my best to roll with the punches, but it was tough. Still is tough. Three bastard children in less than 8 months. Goddamnit, you know?

I remember my dad talking to me about sex when I was a kid. He told me, don’t think with your dick, think with your head. Sounded stupid at the time. It still sounds stupid, but I’ll cede it degree of merit. My dad was a fucking asshole and a drunk, though. I saw him throw a haymaker at mom when I was nine. The next morning, I found a pool blood on the linoleum floor. It had dried black and hard and it scared me.

I lost my virginity when I was 14. When I was 13, I duct-taped a banana peel in cylindrical cone and microwaved it. I fucked it, pretending it was a woman. It didn’t feel like a woman. It felt like a banana peel that had been wrapped in duct tape. And microwaved on the popcorn setting for 3 and half minutes. It made me feel pathetic, like an animal.

Anyway, when I was 14, I had sex with a prostitute. I stole 12 dollars from my dad and 10 from my brother and had sex with a black hooker that I would later suspect to be high on crack cocaine. She had a black eye and smelled like menthol cigarettes. I met her in front of the 7-11 and told her I had twenty dollars and some innocence lose. Well, not precisely in those terms. But, it should have been implied.  Prostitutes, in general, play fast and loose with morals. That’s an obvious reality. But a 14 year old? There’s no way this whore isn’t frying in hell as we speak.

When it was done, I felt like a man. I wanted more. She said it would be twenty more dollars. I didn’t have twenty dollars. Nonetheless, I tried to mount. She pushed me down and called a guy named Leroy on the telephone. Leroy was a real sonofabitch. He came into the room, called me a faggot and slapped me across the face. It stung. He told me that I had to pony up the cash. He smacked the palm of his right hands with a balled-up left hand and I said that I either had to pay or that I had to pay. I told him I had had two dollars left over and he slapped me again. He took my two dollars and spit on me.

I was seventeen when I first fell into love. It was with a girl named Trisha. She lived in Wild Meadows trailer park and told me her uncle Ronny raped her once. I’m not sure if I believed it; Trisha was the sort of girl who seemed, well, impervious to rape. Because, of course, if you always want it, you can’t ever not want it. That’s how these things work, I guess. Trisha and me dated for a year before she did too much heroin with brother and ended up in a coma. I don’t talk to her anymore. I used to go visit her in the hospital, you know? I stopped, though. My life moved on while hers became cemented. It’s easy to fall out of love.

I was twenty when my dad died. I was sad but not too sad. Congestive heart failure. My mom died not too long after in a motorcycle crash. The police told me she was riding with Jim Stanton and both of them were drunk and neither of them were wearing helmets. They hit a tree and left a fantastic mess. It tore me apart from the inside out, it really did. We never got long, my mom and I. She just didn’t seem to care that much about me. And, that’s ok. I understand, now that I’m a father. Despite her faults, though, she was my mom. Your mom is your mom and you never really stop loving her.

September 1, 2008, 5:49 pm
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Cincinnati to Dayton to Columbus to Detroit to Des Moines to Denver to Grand Junction to Las Vegas to San Diego. And, a lot of places in between.