What a cold, cruel thing facebook is. Pictures are. That’s not my father. There is no warmth there. This is supposed to be my ex-girlfriend? Where is the anger? the hotness. Give me just words. I feel cheated, lied to. I love you dad! The Sien keeps rolling around on my left and to my right, as I cross bridges. Where have my cards gone? Who do you love, if not me? Adventure time. Being left. Is is a big heart, and it’s split open, with a scalpel. Where are my new friends. No tanned tall israeli gonna get my girls. We lean back and I don’t smoke weed anymore. Kinda feel like it though. Thought patterns change. Want to fix the word. ‘We got’s ta’ unify!’ No anger. Some frustration, but softer now, pitying, searching, loving. Competition. This ain’t my dad, it’s a cell phone! Fun that never ends. Don’t feel like a stranger any more. I don’t feel far away. Just don’t speak the language. Who watches the watchers? I keep looking over my shoulder but nobody ever is. I still play regularly. I can paint a picture with a pen, but the song would only scratch my skin, and there are places I haven’t been, because what’s in there is already in there. Oh yeah. Alright. Strange thoughts on this lonely night in Las vegas. Maybe it was there all along. Come back to myself. To being my self. My own body. My broken thumb and my out of battery computer. I can smell my self. Hear my self breathing. I can smell my breath. The neighbors are watching TV. The neighbors are dragging chairs. I can’t paint no picture. Yes I can. Sure I can. I don’t know if I can do it better but I know it can be done better and god damn it, it looks like I’m trying.
Give the horse a sugar cube
You will both enjoy it
Let’s split the money, you and I
I that worked for it
You with the courage,
To steal it from me
You are one who knows
What stretches between
A giggle, and a
Machine gun laugh
But winning is for sinners
Scapegoats never die
The Mother is dead
There will be no funeral
Can’t find a body
Maybe it’s burned
Hope is passé
There are drums in the cloud
Better not look in to
I’m playing a dead instrument
I know it
She knows it
You know it
We’ve had a very long run
Like other things
By digits and waves
It’s ok for the young
I told the people
in Berlin ‘bout New Orleans
Looked at me with their patent
Consuming blank stare
Blew out my brain
Sand whirling in the desert
All is one, all is lost
Boom boom boom boom
Where pity is hatred
No man is legal
Spit at jehova
Fear only weakness
Now take it all in
And step in to the night
Out in the morning
The river is frozen
A hint goes unnoticed
at the ceiling. Depressing
Now and again, an inspired
pagan wave of fire worship. We
gaze in disappointed approval.
I clean the dishes,
and I smoke.
Third eyes and glittering
Lurking behind curtains of -
Published works and self made
Millionaires, You think
It’s not there.
Good money and an active
Sex life. A lump of brain flesh.
Won’t go away; stand up comedy.
Things made clearer, like a
The end of the year
report card come in. Some
Did very well, All give thanks.
I have forgotten
How not to speak.
I think that could go back to the time when people had to live in small groups of relatives—maybe fifty or a hundred people at the most. And evolution or God or whatever arranged things genetically, to keep the little families going, to cheer them up, so that they could all have somebody to tell stories around the campfire at night, and somebody else to paint pictures on the walls of the caves, and somebody else who wasn’t afraid of anything and so on … [A] scheme like that doesn’t make sense anymore, because simply moderate giftedness has been made worthless by the printing press and radio and television and satellites and all that. A moderately gifted person who would have been a community treasure a thousand years ago has to give up, has to go into some other line of work, since modern communications put him or her into daily competition with nothing but the world’s champions.
The entire planet can get along nicely now with maybe a dozen champion performers in each area of human giftedness. A moderately gifted person has to keep his or her gifts all bottled up until, in a manner of speaking, he or she gets drunk at a wedding and tap-dances on the coffee table like Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers. We have a name for him or her. We call him or her an “exhibitionist.”
How do we reward such an exhibitionist? We say to him or her the next morning. “Wow! Were you ever drunk last night!”
Before you come, I make my room for you. Which means I remove the dirty vessels of food, throw away the trash, and put the blanket on the bed. When you come over I say “Sorry for the mess…” You say: “No, it’s fine. My room is such a disaster.” Then we make love.
In the morning Jude called me to make sure I was up. I got out of bed and washed my face in the bathroom. Already I was regretting agreeing to help him that morning. The job was to help an elderly couple pack up their apartment for a move. I was unemployed and living on my army release grant. I had plenty of free time but I had gone to sleep late the previous night and the apartment was in Gilo, which was a forty five minute bus ride from my flat. It was a rainy morning and I got on the bus with no breakfast as I was going to be late. Arriving at the appointed bus stop it turned out Jude still was not there and was not answering my calls. I found a mini market and got a sandwich. Standing in a little roofed area away from the rain, I waited. Eventually Jude called me and said he had been in a synagog drinking tea and eating cookies. He was invited in to learn a little Gemara and he accepted the bribe and looked proud of it. We were picked up shortly after by the woman who was paying us. We crammed in to the back of here small car. Both of us being big guys, there was an office chair and a small dresser in the back with us.
'Sorry to be late boys,' she said in a south african accent. 'Hello, my name is Marion,' she said to me through the rear view mirror. 'It really is a sad case,' She continued. 'And nobody helps them but me. You guys are doing a big mitzvah.'
'Shkoyach to you maid Marion. You're a true saint.' Jude said, in his booming, cynical voice.
We got out of the car by the projects and walked up a pathway. The apartment was on the top floor on a long, strait, external staircase. The old woman was already waiting by the door. We came in saying niceties like guests.
Both of them were very old. The man could only speak Russian. The fact that we understood nothing did not keep him from talking to us throughout the encounter. He was dressed in pijama pants, an undershirt, old mans zip up slippers, and very thick glasses. The woman was small and teary eyed. White hair in a knot, wearing a typical old russian woman flowery purple gown. Like a big bag. She was thanking us very much already.
Marion explained the job at hand. We were to deconstruct the closets. Take down the paintings and cabinets from the walls. Pack up all items that were not yet packed in to boxes, and throw away trash, of which there was a lot of.
Refusing tea, and after much delay for explanations and translations, Marion left, and we began to work. The old man built the closet himself. There was a mixture of screws and bolts of incredible quantity. It took us maybe two hours just to take it apart. The notion of it being put back together in the new flat was preposterous. We took clocks of the walls, put the spices and kitchen things in boxes. Took apart the table. Took apart two more cupboards that the man built himself. One had to be detached from the wall. We kept it so the old man could keep watching television in the living room while we worked. He kept joking with us throughout the day though. We did not understand a word he said, and he did not understand a word we said, the old woman understanding but failed to translate. Lots of pointing at things and making hammer movements. We liked him a lot, if only for the insane way he had built his cupboards.
The flat was very small, and in a poor area, but apparently it was too much for them and they were moving somewhere cheeper still. The flat had a little useless reception area, used mainly as storeroom, which we had to clear out. Through that came the living room. With a single bed converted into a sofa, the television, and the cray closet. Trough that to the left was the tiny kitchen smelling strongly of russian chicken and vegetable soup. Behind that to the right was the washing machine, which we had to disconnect and take out, the bathroom and the couples’ bed room. To the left from the kitchen was another room. Almost the size of the couples bedroom, it appeared to be a child’s room. There were dolls, books in a three languages, hand drawn paintings and sketches, like a normal room in a madhouse. The room was plainly not lived in. As soon as I started taking the mattress off the bed, so it can be disassembled, the old woman began to cry behind me.
In truth, she had been crying for much of the day. I let Jude deal with her, because he had been working there before and knew the old lady and her story. But I could see, as I was taking apart two cupboards nailed together, or carrying out some trash, that the old lady was showing Jude some artifact they had come across while packing up and she would be sobbing.
'Are you sad to be leaving?' I asked the old woman. She continued to cry. She hand motioned me to follow her in to the living room where she picked up a little book from a pile of like books. She handed it to me. It was a book of poems by Alexandra Plotkin. She tuned the book over in my hand. On the back cover there was a picture of a pretty girl in her teens. I looked up at the woman. She was pointing to the book and back to her self. Sobbing.
'This was your grand daughter?' I asked. There was no need to ask where she was.
'Yis,' the woman said, crying harder. 'She was very smart, and very beautiful, and very talented.' She pointed up to the sky and cried. She went back to the back room.
Jude came up behind me. ‘Yeah man, they raised her here. She died of cancer. Sad stuff.’
I looked at the picture. She really was beautiful. By the birth and death years under the picture I gathered she had died at seventeen.
We worked in the living room some more and did a couple of trash runs. Then it was time to go back in to Alexandra’s room. We took apart the bed. The old woman watching us and going and coming back and crying throughout. I felt weird working here for fifty shekels an hour. It felt like charity work but you were getting paid for it.
Marion came back around lunch time and we stopped for food and she said it was going slower then she thought and that was fine but she would like us to come again. Then she left.
We kept working and got in to it the way you do when you are at a job for a few hours and it starts to go. I had been taking off a lamp in the old couples bedroom with the old lady. I came down off the chair and she showed me a necklace she had found in one of the drawers.
'She was very talented,' she said again.
'It's very sad,' I said. She bobbed her head. Tears in her eyes.
We stood there. ‘Did you raise her from a young age?’
'I was one daughter to my mother,' She said. 'She died many years ago. My daughter Sonia, and she has daughter Sasha.'
'And Sasha lived here?'
'Yis,' she said, 'Sonia, she get, she die. In car accident.' She made a flat movement with her hand. 'So, Sasha come to live here. And she is such a sweet child. And she plays music, and good at mathematics, and writes poetry, and all of her friends love her, and she loves us very much, and she grows up and she is beautiful. And now.' She is crying now. Clutching the necklace.
She looks up at me. Shakes her head. ‘Not okay,’ she says. Angrily. She points up. Shakes her head. ‘That I am left. Alone. That I am left. The grandmother. Not like this. Is not okay.’ She shakes her finger. Points up. Points to herself. Shakes finger. ‘That I am left’. She is sobbing hard. I can hear the old man in the other room yelling Russian at Jude.
The work day ended. Walking back to the bus station by the mini-mart, Marion again said what kindness we were doing to help these poor people. They thanked us profusely when we had left. The old man holding the woman by the shoulders.
She wanted us to come help them unpack in their new flat. I said I would come.
information about my life.
There were drunk fat girls. Outlandish lonely women. Unsmiling and with nothing left to lose except the feeling that there is, still, something still to lose. Me and Judas were drunk. — Twisted and broken drunk. Dancing to the reggae beats. Dancing with beer in our hands, rum jolting around in our troubled bellies. Smoking as much hashish as we had energy to roll. Leaving the heavy claustrophobic stench of the club only to go outside for another cigaret. And the tobacco was fouling up my guts, lungs and throat. Not drunk enough to vomit, but too drunk to approach the women, too drunk to take one’s own thoughts seriously.
I remembering figuring it all out, again. I remember trustworthy. Being trustworthy as the highest goal in order to be the righteous man. Something like that. Trust yourself, then others will trust you. “Keeping the faith” as the great denominator. The base of faith: keeping it. Faith, to oppose fomo - our generations mark of Cain. Dancing with my body. My own self. Disregarded, unrespected, forrrrlorrrrrn.
Peace as a failure. Love as an achievement.
I was mumbling things at Judas. Or maybe at someone else? I don’t know if anyone was listening: “I am motivated by fear,” I proclaimed. “Fueled by it. Why not? I fear things that are very frightening. Poverty, regret, I fear opportunities missed. I fear things in my past and future. I fear general theories that may be truths. I fear truth, man! I fear making a bad truth. I fear wasted time. Cowardice that leads to dullness.”
"I am not afraid of fear. That fear which so many brilliant philosophers, such as Batman, have said that it is the only thing to be afraid of. No. But I am afraid of cowardice. My own, but on deeper reflection - not just my own. I fear all cowardice, everywhere, all around me. Have you another cigaret? That’s a red light."
"Cowardice, mental and physical, is the root of all evil. And money? No money is root of nothing. Green light."
Judas was drunk driving, I leaned my head and arm out the window. Sucking in the burned night air and staring at the pavement. A foreign, bracelet laden, fat hand was caressing my back.
But I wake up completely alone, and not a dime was stolen.