Me and her, or, you and me

Black thoughts, for such an auspicious time.

Somehow when the crescendo finally rolls around, it’s always a bit of a let down. I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ll see what happens. These things that possess me shall pass.

Perhaps it’s just that ruthless holiday spirit. The Ghost of Christmas Past is eating grapes in my kitchen, bitching about the broken heater. He and I, we have so many things to discuss. A strange thing to think that I should be so friendly with the dead, that we make such intimate compatriots. Such morbid associations, trafficking with wicked spirits and all, reflect significantly on my character. Or theirs. Strange, I tell the ghost, that we should understand each other so well. The ghost shrugs, and helps himself to a Corona. I open it for him; the chains that bind his bony wrists inhibit such activities.

They were designed for such inhibition. Admire their craftsmanship, if nothing else.

“A penny for your thoughts.” The ghost says.
“You think I come so cheap?”

We sit in silence. I’m dressed for a snowstorm; our apartment is frigid, colder inside than out. Christ how I hate the cold. It’s repulsive, effusive, disgusting. How do people live in places where it snows? I can’t begin to comprehend. Which in and of itself is weird; don’t I seem like the kind of person who’d be at home in the cold?

I turn the oven up to 450 and open the door. The ghost and I scoot the kitchen table closer, and keep going with the grapes.

“How’s death treating you?” I ask, by way of smalltalk. The only thing on TV is Bruce Almighty, and Xmas Past and I have already agreed what a piece of shit that is.
“You know, can’t complain. Long hours, but at least my gig is seasonal. Summers off isn’t a bad deal. I’ve got a timeshare vacation tomb in St. Kits.”
“Very nice. You mind if I ask why they sent you to visit me?”
“The other guys, they get sent. Present and Future. They get the assignment, they go out, do their thing. It’s a very 1970’s Scared Straight sort of system if you ask me. I’m not that big of a fan; coercion doesn’t seem all that festive to me, you know? Be merry or die! I don’t get sent, I get called. I’m here because you asked for it. For me.” The ghost replies.
“Not that I recall…”
“Coulda been subconscious.” He says. I watch his chains scrape across the linoleum as he gets up to throw his bottle away, scuffing.
“Well.”
“Yeah.”
“This is awkward.”

——-

“Why is it that, when I aim for greatness, the closest I can come is grandiose? There’s a damn question for you.” I ask him.
“Fear? Doubt? Laziness? Could be any number of things. That’s a pretty broad symptom.”
“I suppose it is.”
“The real question isn’t whether or not you can achieve something. Do you want to do great things, or just be known for doing them? The second’s a lot easier than the first. You want achievement? Or praise”
“This whole concept seems pretty self-important.”
“That’s true. Introspection is inherently arrogant, though.”
“Word.”

——-

We trade stories, and ramble. I tell him the Aristocrats joke, and give it my all. He doesn’t get it. The first girl I ever loved, I tell him, could sing. Not half-assed like me, not just loud, she could sing. Hardly ever did though; it was like pulling teeth to get her to do it. I never understood that. I don’t know that I ever will.

——-

“If you could be anything, what’d it be?”
“Besides alive?”
“More specific than just alive. You know what I mean.”
“I’d coach high school football and be married. I love football, but when you get to any level above high school it gets so twisted and impersonal and fucked up that it’s not even worth it. So yeah I’d do that. You?”
“Besides alive?”
“Funny.”
“Yeah alright… a writer, of course. Of considerable talent. Or be in a Metallica cover band. Or a super hero.”
“All fine answers. So now what?”
“Beats me man, I’ll figure something out.” I tell him.
“Wait wait wait, can I change my answer?”
He nods.
“I’d be a great white hunter. Did they have American great white hunters?”
“I think it was more a British thing…”
“Yeah I’d be a great white hunter, in 18whatever. Learn hindi, or at least the command tense of it. Sleep at the base of temples rotting in the jungle, killing beasts that would do the same to me without a second thought. Look down the barrel of some flintlock at a Raja tiger the size of a truck, and see those hateful yellow eyes looking back. Take timid, pasty English colonial doctors out into the bush, defend them and their fat wives while they shoot gazelles and shit. That’s what I’d do.”
“A solitary life.”
“Can you imagine what a wondrous place it must have been? When the world was still dangerous?”
“Must have been.”
“Not like today.”
“Not at all.”

——–

I should get some rest. I’ll need all my strength in the weeks to come, and this dread weather wears on me. The various humiliations and excesses of Christmas await. I still have to shop, oh Christ. You’re all getting what you get from me every year: books. It’s that or Red Lobster gift certificates, you bastards. Keep your wishlists to yourselves.

Another year is winding down. Christ.

Two days till the party.

Make it happen, son. Back straight eyes forward. Go for the throat.

-T.

“He suffered. He was hurt by the sight of his own life, which ought to have been a masterpiece of aloofness.” – Joseph Conrad, Victory

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