The Empty Promise of a Brand New Day, Back Story Pt.1

Every morning the sun rises from behind the hills, and, glowing with warmth and life, lies to my face. A new day has begun, but within this day lives the same cynicism, the same egoism, and the same dim remorse as any other day. There are moments in the dawn that clang like trash cans spilled by strays that lurk just out of sight, and in those moments I bolt from my cot, I scratch and pull at my shirt, and I remember how the light in the bathroom was uncovered and harsh, smearing illumination across the stains on the sink and floor; lending unwanted dimension to the dried piss crusting the toilet seat as my head pitched forward and cracked against the side. Memories deep and mean like a quarry, red from rust and wet from rain. I see flashes of the evil twat once known to me as the Eternal Camile with her lips splotched and red, her tootsie roll nipples and velveteen heart, her scatter shot mind blasting me straight to jail. Camile, you rotten tomato, you Benji-fucking scum, you turn-coat whore of a slut, you master of disaster in your mask of angry zits. Oh…when next I see you, then we shall see…make book on it!

And now the bees rise like a cloud from the overturned garbage of the morning, and they descend into my hair and burrow into my ears, stinging and swelling and buzzing. I clench my fists and ask my friend the Wall to hand me some good news so that I might clear my mind of this shit storm, but the Wall gazes past me, unconcerned. My lost freedom itches like a phantom limb. My neck is already stiff with tension. An unseen screw is turned, tightening my skull. My cellmate Jody complains, “You’d better stop grinding your teeth, ass wipe!” I tell him that unless he wants to taste the bottom of my foot via the hard way, he’d better mind his own business, and he, as is his wont, punches his cot. “Damnit! I hate it here! I hate YOU!” I laugh and call him a baby, because that’s what he is: an over-sized, hairy baby, with no social skills. He flops around his cot like an frustrated trout.

And so the morning marches on.

People who feel they know me are probably looking for precious backstory: how did Pendel’s sorry ass land in the clink? The story is long, but I guess I have some time. When it all went down, it seemed so unreal to me, like everything was happening in a brain gone bad, as if, in reality I was lying strapped down to a bed in a mental institution at the top of a black hill, and the doctors were telling my dad that it was useless to talk to me, that I can’t hear him, that the strange things I was saying and doing were part of the brave, new world I had constructed in my mind, that I was not responding to medication, that I was never coming back. With the magic of hindsight, of course, I can now see that everything that took place is all part of the normal, natural order for any person who becomes involved in selling weed.

In my heart—my blackened cinder of a heart—I (justly) blame Benji and Camile for everything. It was their malice that turned my karma shit black. It was their corroborations that saved Benji from sharing my fate. It was they that flinched at the first sign of trouble, and turned Sugar against me with pitiable lies. If they hadn’t…oh, but I get ahead of myself.

******

So here goes nothing:

The nagging rain and dead gray sky notwithstanding, my day really turned to stone the moment I entered the old folks home. Debora Fanning immediately materialized from thin air and stepped—with more grace than a woman of her size deserves—into my path. “Pendel. A word?” I asked her if she promised that it would only be, in fact, one word she planned on sharing with me and her already thin mouth disappeared into the dough of her face. I was all like, hey man, give me a break. I’ve been helping Big Bill wipe ass, no complaints. She held a hand up to quiet me, which I freaking hate like death, but allowed it for now, because I am in control of all things Pendel. “There were men here again. But they weren’t the same men as the last time, Pendel.” She looked at me sideways as if I had something to spill, which I did.

Ok, I said, well, I need more information, Pilsbury.

“They had badges. They were detectives. They were narcotics officers.”

OUCH. But my face is unchanged, I am an ice sculpture of feigned confusion. I betray nothing. Debora, what did they want? Is it about my sister (I apologize to you Clare for having so cavalierly thrown you under the bus, but you know what a shit I am)?

“It is not.” Debora Fanning has a gaze as level as a gyroscope. It is fearless, but I am great and terrible. We are well matched, Fanning and I. “Pendel, I have had a lot of young people serve their community service with me. Do you know what that means?”

It means you’re middle aged.

“Pendel, it means that I’m no fool. It means that you might think you have me duped, but I can assure you that you do not. Narcotic officers don’t just come around asking for people. They ask questions about people. People they think might have reason to be up to no good. They check to see if people have jobs.”

So, I have a job. I love it here. Adult diapers and daisy chains.

“You realize of course that I cannot and will not cover for you. I do not know you. It’s not my place to trust you or rehabilitate you. This is not your job, it is your court ordered sentence, and I told them as much. Get yourself together, Pendel. I don’t know what you’re doing, but I don’t need the trouble, and neither do the other very good people who work here. Not to mention the poor souls who have come here to end their days in peace.”

What could I say? All the braggadocio in the world cannot change the fact that I am, in fact, a hindrance to Debra Fanning and the Silver Fox Players. I don’t admit it to her and never would, but I am a gambler in a game of unquestionable consequences. It’s cliche, but the walls are, in fact, closing in around me. I feel it in my head. I find myself looking for escape routes where ever I go. I check outside windows for sturdy drainpipes or adequate cracks. I check stairways for roof access. I have written out and destroyed more than five different options for home emergency egress. I have a supply of non-perishables stashed in a certain park and I refuse to reveal to any of you untrustworthy harpies the exact location. The other day as I headed out the door, Sugar Bear asked me where I was going, and I told him I was biking down to the Taco Bell on East Main. Immediately I suspected him of everything bad in the world. I then proceeded to pedal my ass as fast as humanly possible to the shop across the street from the Taco Bell—some stupid little shithole with the inexplicable name of Artistic Sandwich and Pizza. I hid behind a car in the parking lot for twenty minutes to see whether or not I had been followed. Make sense? Fuck no. How would I know the difference between a regular customer and the cops? Why would getting a taco on that night be any different from any other? If I was being FOLLOWED, then wouldn’t they have seen me turn into this lot? All these questions mattered not because my mind was fried beyond belief with worry. Oh, and pot. Which also just so happened to make the fucking taco, when I finally purchased and devoured it along with two of its brothers, one of the best tacos I had ever had in my LIFE (for more on my past experiences with tacos, CLICK HERE).

I lamely suggested to Debora Fanning that perhaps these gentlemen with badges (and therefore guns) must have simply been trying to question me about a friend of mine, someone with whom I had most DEFINITELY cut all ties, as a matter of fact, now that I think about it DEBORA, I know EXACTLY about whom they must be curious.

I had my regular smoke with my new old friend Charlie Murphy, and I told him I didn’t know how much longer he and I would be able to hang out. He shook his head and sighed, “Goddamn you, you just couldn’t stay out of trouble.” I agreed that no, I couldn’t.

“When are they coming for you?”

I really have no clue.

“You even know they’re cops?”

I just shook my head and finished a beer, crushing the can on my head with a belch. Charlie shook his head again. I forgot the question entirely a mere two minutes after he asked it.

I’m pretty sure I wiped an ass or two before heading out the door, but seeing as I have blocked as many of these particular traumatic events from my mind as possible, it’s tough to say. I biked home in the dreary rain and had already pushed open the door of my faded abode before a frightening realization brought me to a halt. The door wasn’t locked, and that was a HUGE problem. I was just thinking that someone (i.e. that fucking asshole Benji—you rotten piece of fucking shit I can’t WAIT to tear you a new asshole) was going to hear it from me, because you simply DO NOT EVER leave our door unlocked for OBVIOUS reasons, when the fact that the door jamb was a mess of splintered wood bubbled up to the top level of my mind and set everything inside me on high alert. I wiped the rain dripping from my hair from my eyes and backed one step toward the street. Dim light spilled out onto the front steps, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember if any had been left on when I left earlier in the day. I focused my entire existence upon the crack made by the partially opened door and listened.

“Hey man, don’t be shy, get your ass in here. It’s fucking wet outside.”

The voice, which caused my cock to turn ice-cold and shrivel into nothing, came from inside the house, but the hand that shoved me forward most definitely came from behind. I tripped over the sill and nearly fell flat on my face before the same hand (I assume) steadied me roughly and then immediately began to drag me the rest of the way into the front room of the house. At first I was simply too shocked to do or say anything, I simply let the disembodied hand throw me into one of our dilapidated chairs.

“That’s it. Get comfy.”

The sound of the voice speaking again brought me back, and I looked around wildly and began to stand, but was hit on the back of the head with something not quite hard like a semi-thawed carton of ice cream (I never found out what it actually was) and found my seat again pretty quickly. Cold steel was at my throat and I became very still. It’s funny, really, how certain things can focus a person. Is it genetic? It must be. A young man who has never seen a woman undress, even if he’s never heard the tales, would become very focused the moment it happened in front of him. He doesn’t need anybody to tell him where to look or what’s important. It’s all reflex; nature takes over. In a very disturbing way, the knife pressing just below my adams apple produced much the same effect. I was a statue with five senses, baby.

I gathered quickly that there were two men in the room with me. They had turned on only one lamp, the living room was dim, and I couldn’t see much. It appeared as though none of the other rooms had been entered, or, if they had, the lights had since been extinguished. The men in the room—and you know, all this shit is very foggy now—seemed to both be around average size and…how else to put it?…of average hair. I don’t know. Like I said, it’s all foggy. Fuck you if you don’t like it. There’s lots of blogs out there littered with minutia if you want them. The weird thing though, the detail I won’t forget anytime soon (that and being ‘jump started,’ of course), are the cheap freaking Groucho Marx glasses they both wore on their faces. The ones with the fake nose, right? Oh my god. Creepy as shit and completely effective, because I couldn’t bring myself to center on ANY other facial detail. I was so fucking freaked out I almost peed.

And it was all going to get much worse.

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Taco Night

It’s getting to the point that I really can’t tell anymore if I am changing, or if I am beginning to see the world for what it really is: a big steaming pile. Of shit. Hobo shit.

When did I stop loving my mom? Was she always this retarded? I used to cling to her skirt like lint, but now I can’t tolerate her for more than a couple of minutes at a whack. I mean, first of all, she looks like such a first-class she-tool almost all the time. I’ve seen pics of my mom when she was young, and she looks fairly cool…for the era, I guess. But now she wears these dumb jeans with that mom-wash and they all come up over her gut and the zipper is a mile long like a highway to Geekville. And then she wears these goofy, baggy t-shirts that are all like Haines Beefy T’s and tucked in for the love of God with like this ultra-square braided belt that’s all brown and shit, and she wears these thick, sweaty, fisherman socks and her clogs like ALL YEAR. Get some winter shoes, for Christ’s sake. Ugh. And the hair. I guess she just doesn’t care whether or not my dad has any interest in nailing her or not.

It drives me crazy that all these freaky fucks have kids and then like poof! They are dorks. Why must it happen? My buddy Neil’s mom gives me such a boner that I’ve gotta push it aside so I can see anything going on in front of me. How come SHE didn’t dorkify? That MILF’s ass is like a volleyball. And she wears the hottest stuff, and she’s always TRYING, you know? Like she gives a fuck about her place in this craphole world. Oh well. I guess what do I need with my pals (personal ass lickers) jerking off to my mom in their spare time? I have enough to worry about without my dad going apeshit because he catches her rocking the Serta with a 17 year-old. It’s just sad to see a person give up. She has a pretty face, I guess. Sorta.

Anyway, so my mom doesn’t seem to care about her life at all. She’s fucking wrapped up tight in MY life (or so she thinks), and in my sister’s life, and sometimes she even manages to care about the shit my dad has going on. My older brother Matt is in college now and he escaped, but mom calls him EVERY FREAKING DAY to try and insinuate herself from afar, but he only calls her back like once out of every four times. Good for him. I am so jealous of the fact that he doesn’t have to sit through Taco Night anymore, because Taco night, as an institution, is in complete freefall.

The thing is, my mom doesn’t cook GREAT or anything—she’s not a very inventive person—so I always used to look forward to Taco Night because how can you fuck it up, right? You cook the stuff and throw in the powder and mix it up and dump on the cheese from the bag after you stick it in the shell and POW, you’ve got dinner. And when I was younger, it was fun, everyone got to make their own, and since you were a kid making your own was a big thing. When I was a kid, everything made me giggle. Me, my sister, my brother, all of us would have fun doing almost anything. It makes me so sad thinking about it. I never really talk to my sister anymore and nothing ever seems to make me laugh but the mean stuff. And that’s NOT HOW I WANT IT TO BE. But I just can’t seem to help it.

I don’t laugh anymore on Taco Night. I usually make a couple and then carry them into my room and watch TV there, or blast FUCKING AWESOME MAYHEM, or look on the internet at gang stuff. Sometimes I read gun mags cause they make me think about big things. I know this hurts my mom and my dad and maybe to a lesser extent Clare (my sister), but it just irks me to no end to have to talk to any of them more than I absolutely have to. We’re all just too damn sad about everything. Well, not Clare quite yet, but she’s gonna be soon, make book on it.

So last night I my dad knocks on my door while I’m checking out some fucking boss Faces of Death clips on YouTube and he cracks the door without me saying ‘come in’ because I NEVER say ‘come in’ in the hopes that whoever wants to come in will stop wanting to come in and just go the hell away. My dad knows this and so he just comes in and it pisses me off to no end BUT ANYWAY. “Hey Sport, your mom made tacos. Make her feel good and come out and eat some, huh? Fiesta time.” I tell him I’m fine, cause I am. “Just get your ass out to the kitchen and eat a damn taco. Jesus, Pendel.” My dad only ever gives diplomacy one shot at working and then he says fuck it, which I guess I understand. I don’t even try that hard. So I say okay, whatever, and then I go to get up, but I make it nice and slow so he’s already out to the table before I’m even in the hallway (after I grab my iPod so I can rock Mayhem on my endless taco misadventure without having to hear any of them say a word…so obvious but I could care less about THAT), and I drag my tired butt out there and slam a couple of tacos together, and I can just FEEL my mom’s eyes all fucking sad and big on my back just waiting for me to say anything at all to her, with her sensible hair and her big, baggy t-shirt and her glass of wine and her lack of defining characteristics. My dad doesn’t give a shit, persay. He just thinks this is a ‘tricky time’ for me and he’s got enough going on in his life to sit back and let things pass and little does he know that things aren’t going to JUST PASS—my brain is a freight train lately and I don’t foresee it STOPPING dad, I don’t think there’s going to be any relief anytime SOON, dad—a storm is coming, FATHER, and it’s just going to keep growing until the fucking roof is torn off the unhappy home you worked so so hard to build.

My tacos are made so I head immediately back to my room, but a hand is on my elbow turning me, and it’s what I dreaded all along, and I tried not to make a misstep, I tried not to give anyone any reason at all to stop me, but it didn’t work. I tried to just keep walking like I didn’t feel, but the hand won’t give up, the hand keeps turning me. And then I’m face to face with those big sad eyes, and it makes me so frustrated and impatient but it hurts too because I don’t know how else to feel—and what, like I want to be a dick? But just LOOK AT HER. She pulls the buds out of my ears (ANNOYING) and says to me, “You forgot tomatoes. They’re your favorite. Take some, or they’ll go bad.”

Go bad. I’ve gone bad, and she knows it. I tell her I don’t eat tomatoes, and she’s like “Yes you do, you’ve always loved them.” And I try to just blow it off and head back to my hole, but she stops me still, even though she KNOWS I want out of the room, and she’s like, “You’ll make me feel better if you at least take a few, you used to love them so much, they made you happy..” They did then, they don’t now. And I hate it that she’s so wrapped up in my happiness, and I hate it that she still keeps tabs on my likes and dislikes, and maybe it would be different if she would just ONCE lose herself in something SHE likes and be a PERSON about it and have to ask me a question about me instead of THINKING she knows it all, and I look down at her empty hands because she’s always always ALWAYS the last person to get herself food, she ALWAYS waits until the rest of us have gotten ours, our greedy little paws grabbing up all we want, crumbs flying, drinks spilling, and she pretends to be so patient while inside isn’t she screaming? Doesn’t she want something? Something for herself? ANYTHING? My god, isn’t she even HUMAN?

I say to her that I don’t eat them now, because my stomach hurts a lot now, all the time, and the tomatoes make it worse. YOU eat them, I tell her. She looks at me like I’ve stabbed her. I ask her how long she’s going to wait before she eats, and she finally turns away and says some bullshit about how it doesn’t matter when she eats, cause no one wants to eat with her anyway, and that just makes me nuts. Crazed. I hate self pity in anyone but me. And I turn HER around, and I put my plate in her hands, and I say take this, eat it, I’m not hungry and I’m sick of watching you wait. She tries to push it back on me, saying don’t be ridiculous, and I’m like, no, YOU don’t be ridiculous, you’ve always been ridiculous, and I push the plate back at her, and her back at me, saying no, and ME saying no much, much louder, and of course by this point in my life I am the stronger of the two, and though I don’t mean it to happen (I hope?) the plate goes right into her chest, the food sliding everywhere, the plate crashing in the ground, and by now my dad has finally sat his ultra-idiotic Fortune magazine down and is racing over saying, “Are you out of your MIND, Pendel?”

And I tried to tell her. I did. “I tried to tell you!” I yelled back. “My stomach hurts! Jesus!”

But it’s too late. Clare is kind of crying a little. She doesn’t understand why I don’t sit around with her anymore. I don’t play. I can’t.

I wonder what we’re all going to do next week, come Taco Night?