I’ll Stray My Time – Mick Hugh

 

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I’ll Stray My Time – Mick Hugh

        Louisville. I recognize these city streets. I lived here once for several years. This is the corner the bus drops off the grifters who collect $20 a day from college freshmen. Over here is the coffee shop called The Night House by the sleep-deprived who drink black coffee at 2am, and then again at 3 and 4am: It is sometimes settling to wait and see if the sun does actually rise. You can sleep in the morning at the public library, where the chairs in the back are soiled by grime of the homeless who part-time live there.

        These boarded front doors are my neighbors. I live in the part of town where the crack-epidemic had hollowed things out; gentrification here is hesitant. The old landlady is nearing eighty and almost nearly senile; she forgets to deposit my checks and has several of mine that haven’t bounced yet. This worries me, as I’ve only really just moved in.

        Here at the coffee shop they hang art work on the walls, nice touch of local appreciation but none of it is very good. In the mornings is the usual insomniac crowd, still with sensitive noses and reverberating heads, and the older man here who once married a stripper because he played guitar and still drinks too much whiskey – he cane hobbles the sidewalk home every morning and I don’t think this is sad at all.

        I had a job interview yesterday that somewhat rattled me. At a hardware store, and the man there sat me down for questioning in uncomfortably warm quarters, and I don’t think he realized it was the heat drying me out – I’d begun to sweat and couldn’t find answers and felt a bit sick that this man could sit here and interrogate. He called his associate in to assist him. They drive cars and pay taxes and have kids and found every reason to judge me. Functioning members of society un-nerve me.

        I found a couch in the alley I dragged into my little apartment. After a heavy coating of Lysol I covered it in blankets so visitors can sit on it without catching HIV. We usually just sit on the floor, taking turns taking hits while listening to ethereal records I bought with another credit card. It helps to remain closer to the Earth, is why we sit on the floor.

        I had a car this time last year before I hitchhiked for breath in California. It was a Mazda with good mileage and I’d forgot to get it licensed – or myself licensed, I’m not sure how that works. The car was repo’d with everything I kept in my friend’s apartment, I think because I owe the state for time I spent in court. And so I left, then, and spent a few months visiting friends out on America’s Golden Coast. I slept in the hills, and helped farm marijuana, and spent weekends exploring beneath the boardwalks and piers. Nothing is as peaceful as a Venice Beach sunset, drunk and alone with nowhere to be.

        The baristas at the coffee shop know me by name. The owner knows my brew of choice. I’m a regular, here, and for the seventh or eighth time in my life have found somewhere comfortable to live. But I know I’ll soon disappear, the transient who’s moved on from the scene. Because after a few more weeks I’m sure the police will realize I’m living 5 blocks north of their fourth precinct: I’ll begin to receive notices in the mail, warrants and bills and debt-collectors from hospital stays in half-a-dozen states, and if I wait too long the cops will begin to knock, and the city sidewalks will have already closed in.

 


[Mick Hugh is the creator of Mick’s Neon Fog. And an all-around bad ass.]

“I am my Father’s Son”

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“You are a runner with a stolen voice. And you are a runner. And I am my father’s son.” (Wolf Parade)

The weather is changing. In the morning I can feel it. It is just a matter of time. Eventually a cold wind will blow away all the dank humidity. I think about running, my lost passion. Before the bad back, before the squeeze of domestic responsibility, I would put on my running shoes on a cold Sunday morning and run until I had exhausted my legs, lost my breath. It was exhilarating. My life transformed when I was running; it was the action from which all good things sprang. I could never envision a life without it. Of course, I didn’t visualize the obstacles life would put in my path.

Years ago my mother gave me some dusty mementos of races my father ran in the early-eighties. I never thought of him as a runner. Later in life he had a big belly and was a connoisseur of indulgent, greasy meals. He labored at times going up stairs and seemed frail. I wondered why he quit. Thought that perhaps if he wouldn’t have stopped running his heart would not have exploded two weeks after retiring in his late fifties. I thought of him as I ran. I felt close to him. Understood what he went through getting up on an early Saturday morning and facing down a half marathon. Perhaps I understood him in a way that I never did. It was something that we had in common all these years after his death.

Like my father, I stopped running. Life happened. I think the end started with a back problem that eventually became an excuse. I slid into a life of leisure. The drive vanished. Again, I understood him; the distractions, the work, the family all became more important. Suddenly, it became easier to stop running. I wonder to myself if he ever felt the guilt, pined for the long runs,  or the silent meditative runs when all the problems of the world seem to be held at arm’s length, at least for an hour. If he would have lived to an old age, we would have those conversations. We would realize that we have a lot in common. Maybe we would have a laugh and realize that I am my father’s son.

Today, as I eagerly anticipate the first cool air, I think about him. I also think about running. My life fell apart; unlike my father, I was not able to hold it together. Now I have half a family, smoke constantly, and find myself given over to the same indulgent meals—though I have not yet fallen prey to the protruding belly. I don’t know how to fix everything, but I am sure that the only thing I can do now is take action, put one foot in front of the other and spend hours chasing the silent meditation that led me out of the darkness years ago. It is so far away but so close. All it takes is action, putting on the shoes, grabbing a water out of the refrigerator and start running.

Jasper Kerkau

Sudden Denouement Literary Collective

Love of a Child

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Photo: Blanche Sweet The Sporting Venus  1925

“I…I…I love you.”

My daughter, three, stutters, tries to spit it out. I spin and shame away; my sins tied to her tongue. My failures are wrapped up in her tiny face with purified smile. The cosmos spin and whirl in space as thousands of years descend into the sea, speck in the eye of angry gods millions of year’s old, artifacts of which are dug out of thick jungles. None of it makes any fucking sense, nor does any of it really matter when compared to the only pure thing my heart has touched: the love of a child.

A ticklish, deep belly laugh fights back my maniacal demons of selfish dread and existential buffoonery. You are the only thing I will ever do that matters. She grabs her cartoon dog, and scuttles away; I hear the tiny feet on family floor. I think of the face that turns the lights of my world on with a sweet smile being shattered by a frigid world with myriad ticks and idiosyncrasies created by my failed unions and bad genes yoked to fifteen hundred years of ancestral transgression. We all pay for the same sins, the failures, the broken connections and shocks of adolescent daydreams, shattered by the screams and hollering of incompatibility and selfishness, in-your-face grit that sends children to school whispering in brown paper bags, drinking milk, making excuses for daddy’s nuanced approach to living: hiding under house, buried in robe and slippers, set out for last time in familial duty.

My daughter will shine like the sun and shed the innocent stutter of her third year. She will bear my cross, find god and lose him on a hunch as the realities of life crash into her with Mesopotamian creation myths and nuanced, Huxleyan logic. She will follow her own trail back looking for meaning, discovering my humanity in my secrets—tragic mistruths, boxes containing irrelevant photos and distorted scribbles. Like me, she will find my uncle’s curious notebook tracing lineage back to Battle of Hastings and find her history is the folly of meaningless people: centuries of laborers and peasants, dying one after the other in a succession of triviality. I am no different.

The only real truth is the one that is manifested in the inherent drive to seek truth, bear a seed and proliferate the cycle; spending eternity wringing hands, worrying over a child with heart breaking for all the pain in the world and that which will be hoisted upon them.

I pick her up as she jumps up and down, squealing as I walk through the door. My heart leaps. My faith in humanity is restored. She will walk the earth and be better than me and that, in itself, justifies all the sadness, all the gut-devouring loneliness, the fickle meanness, the struggle to find something in nothing and restoration that takes place when she cycles through the void and finds the real meaning herself in the eyes of her own child.

Jasper Kerkau