Tuesday, January 04, 2005

A Gift to Baby New Year

I’ve made a covenant with a glass of wine. One night it came, yellow and sweet as a candy cane, it gave me the once over and offered its paw in friendship. “Hiya,” said the wine. "Welcome to the fold."

At first I was frightened by its voice, all heat and no action. Tears welled up in the back of my skull, the part where the eye connects, and I was sad beyond measure because I knew, now and forever, the wine was necessary to do business. It was the pass key to lost places and dark, dank caves of memory. It was my shaman. It laid waste to all other muses, and in their place it carved a niche so fierce, so red, only blood could touch.

The doctor might say, "Get off it. It’ll kill you." And I’d have to look slowly into blank space and nod. But later, secretly, I'd drink regardless. Such is my covenant.

It’s like this. There is a price for everything. Depending on its worth, there is value for an item. And the price of success is very high. Not everyone is strong enough, you see. Natural selection at work. And on that particular night, the wine came to me and said, “I know where X is. I know what marks the spot. Come with me.” And despite what I knew or thought I knew, I felt my fingers twitch and the mist I thought was cataracts say, “Yes. Yes. Take me to this place.” So we crawled through a hole in the closet on our knees, scraped red and raw. And snot fell thick above my lips, it trickled down my chin and soaked my collar. And I crawled through sewage and I crawled through dreams and I set jet engines on my tail and lit the fuse and I flew, boy. I flew through shit. Days later, months later, I saw a bright spot – my eyes accustomed now to nightmares. I saw a pinprick in the distance and the part that wasn't dead from smell thought, “This it it. We are redeemed.”

The light got bigger by degrees. My whole time in that hole, that was the longest, waiting for the light to grow. And because I’m always the closest to quitting, right before the end, I dropped my head and slept to odd dreams. Dreams about dying and dreams about living. Dreams about choking on shit in between existence and the great ice worm of Alaska. And when I woke I found myself crouched in tall grass hiding from a certain predator. So close we smelled each other.

Now the wine spoke to me, low and still. It said, “Move.”

And so I did.

On my hands and knees, I crawled through grass, sniffling and sneezing, pissing my pants and hungry as all get-all. I wished for death; it didn’t come. In the in-between I finally realized, death couldn’t touch me. Only pain. Only hurt. Death here would not be easy, but it would last, and so I ceased to pray.

Besides my soul I left behind a fingerprint. Enough to track. Enough so I'd never feel safe in my own home. This dark presence could find me anywhere. Because everywhere is connected.

I crawled faster now. I sensed the wine had lost me for a moment. I sipped water through a straw, I pushed past the double-doors of an old saloon. The proprietor looked me up and down and said, “What’ll it be?” My pockets were empty, so I offered to work in exchange for ... Well, in exchange for the blood which flowed through my veins, blue and strong. The man sent me out back to shovel rocks from hard places and tend to cattle and bring water from the furthest well. I completed all the tasks the man set forth and was awarded his daughter in return. But she was ugly; I refused. And then I ran.

I wish for that moment when the muse speaks directly in my ear, no subterfuge or obfuscation. I hear the words perfectly, ringing. I never worry about what happens next, because I’ve been awarded these powers by a beautiful angel, who perches between another world and my shoulder.

Wine is my friend. I will follow it and it will show my things. It will reward me. And I will consume.

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