The Life — Part II

I started not sleeping well at night, haunted by an orange light that grew brighter and brighter as it followed me, the burning cherry of a madman out to hurt me. At the age of five, I had no clue what murder was, and barely had an inkling that people died. But, I knew pain, and I did not enjoy it in the slightest. A scraped knee was agony, and a stubbed, bleeding toe was horrible. And yet, I had a feeling that this orange light, this symbol of my terror, this unholy demon of hate wanted to do something more than hurt me, in my psyche.

The Smoking Man swore to the police he didn’t know me, had never seen me before, and wasn’t even watching our house. He’d admitted to a few burglaries in our neighborhood over the last few months, and that he was casing out houses, but kiddie touching wasn’t his thing.

I swore to police that I’d heard this voice before, and it was familiar, and that I was scared. That I could swear that there was rustling in the bushes every night and it just had to be him. I admitted to a fear of the Boogeyman, but he lived in my closet somewhere, not across the street in Mrs. Mara’s azalea.

In the end they turned him loose. Aside from a few cigarette butts in the bushes, and his admission of being a bit of a cat burglar, there was no evidence. I remember watching the steps outside the police station for him to walk out, and when he did, my blood turned cold.

Two things happened that day in July. First, I learned what terror was, and felt gripped by it, completely and wholly. A ringing in my ears echoed through my entire body as though I were a bell my body throbbing and aching as he looked at our house while lighting a cigarette. Nevermind that he didn’t know where I was. That orange flame grew brighter as he stared directly at me.

Second, I learned what a motherfucker, a cocksucker, and dirty fucking prick were anecdotally from eavesdropping on my father talking to the “no good, dirty fucking prick cocksucker motherfucker of a detective” assigned to the case.

Fuck was a word that got me into worlds of trouble. A boy two years older than our pre-kindergarten class walked up to us at recess a few months earlier, while eight of us played Four Square. I’d worked up to Queen, eliminating the always tough to get out Randy. “You guys look cool,” he said. We looked at him shocked. Us? Cool? Cool, dude. “Wanna know a secret?”

I nodded profusely. Anything to look cool, I thought to myself. My friends were apprehensive, but it had already become apparent that I wasn’t all that cool to begin with.

“You guys love your parents, right?” Again, we nodded. “Well, when you go home tonight, if you want to tell them that you really love them, walk up to your mom and say ‘Fuck you, Mommy’, and watch what happens.”

And so, I did. She explained to me that you never, ever, ever use that word ever. And my rear end, that could barely sit down for days understood, too.

The Life: Part I

I’m not sure when they started; more accurately, I’m not sure if there is any separation from when I started to when the voice began. One of my earliest memories is that of an infant, perhaps a toddler at the most, walking around the first home I’d known, a duplex where my family and I occupied the top floor of a five room debacle of a home. There was a living room slash dining room, a kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom in a cozy six hundred and fifteen square foot area. I’d walked around a corner, and felt the urge give way to an activity; I shit my pants with gusto, and being just a year old, I had license to do so, so long as the diaper stayed on. I remember the sweet feeling of relief give way to a feeling of dread. My father was home, and my father did not like to change my shitty diapers. I wanted to cry, feeling that mom wouldn’t be home soon, crouching down as babies do.

“Shh,” a voice echoed from somewhere in the ether, somewhere I couldn’t understand. I stood both petrified and curious, the voice coming from behind me. I turned on my heel, and fell down, flat on my ass, my filth spreading. Normally, I would cry out as any baby would. This time, I looked behind me intently, looking for a voice that sounded so familiar, so familial and so close.

Impossibly, my mother walked through the door seconds later. I stared out the window, not returning her smile, just staring at the place I’d thought the voice had come from. “What’s he doing?” my dad asked, right behind her.

“I think he’s looking at the angels,” she said, smiling into my face. “Do you see the angels, baby? Do you?”

“Yeah. Angels,” the voice said. I tried to pull my face out of my mother’s to look again, but, it was futile.

~***~

I’d discovered baseball at the age of four, and was immediately hooked. I was born a baseball fan, and to this day, it’s my favorite thing to do. I fancied myself a baseball player in my backyard, and my statistics were impressive. From the first day I picked up a bat and gave it an awkward swing, I was a home run machine, hitting thousands over the fence in my backyard, each one a moonshot, each one winning a game in the bottom of the ninth after a three-two count of the greatest pitchers in the game throughout history. Cy Young, Bob Gibson, Bob Feller, Herb Score; none a match for my four year old bat. I rounded the bases on each, never too celebratory. I may give a fist pump, or a point to the fans, but, never showy, never in a way to show up the phantasm pitcher.

One such game came when I was visiting Yankee Stadium. As the home team, I faced my house; as the visiting team, I faced the police station driveway that was opposite my backyard. Ron Guidry was pitching, going for a perfect game. Len Barker was opposite him as a pitcher, his own perfect game going into the ninth inning. I was the second batter of the inning, and the first pitch I saw was lined to centerfield. I raced to second base as the ball skidded past the second baseman, and bounced behind home plate. I stood and ran off to third, just beating the tag that bounced away from the pitcher covering third and into left field. I raced home just ahead of a throw to Rick Cerone at home, and the crowd went wild. I was loved by every fan of every team, the greatest player to play the game.

And then, I heard it again.

From right field, there was a distinct clapping and cat calling, not in my head. From somewhere else, seemingly not of this world, not of this time or space or convention. A cheering sound that I’d never heard before from a fan I’d never known from the millions inside of my head. The hundreds of thousands packed into the Yankee Stadium of my mind went silent immediately, each of them finding out that maybe, just maybe we weren’t alone here in this world.

I picked up my bat and put it in the garage, the clapping never dissipating. I watched my way up the stairs and into the house, the clapping quieting as I closed the back door.

“How many homers did you hit today?” my mother asked. I barely replied, if at all, looking over my left shoulder, wondering where that clapping was coming from. “Honey?”

“I think there was someone out there watching me, Mom,” I said. “Someone was clapping for me, but, I couldn’t see him.”

She rushed to the phone and dialed the police station behind us. Over the months of living there after my sisters were born, we’d made fast friends with the officers and city employees, the officers often times stopping to talk to us kids on days we played in our respective backyards. Despite the proximity to the station, it hadn’t stopped a girl named Jenny, a tall thing of fifteen that we’d called Big Bird when I was six, from getting groped by a man three times her age, right in her back yard. The police swore that they’d watch closer, and often they would complimenting our neighbors on their melon patch, and knowing when each of us was home.

Cruisers looked around for traces of evidence of some perp watching the boys and girls of The Avenue, yet none were found. News articles popped up in our local paper, looking for the Pervert in Lakewood Ohio that seemingly got off staring at little boys carry out their fantasies of being sports heroes.

For weeks, I didn’t go outside to play, and the Indians slumped without me. The Indians of my mind turned into the Indians of real life as the 1982 Cleveland Indians finished just a game behind those accursed Yankees. I listened to every game intently, and tried to picture myself helping in anyway possible. I listened with radio at the back of my bed, just loud enough so that I could hear that wonderful voice of Herb Score call a home run, but, not too loud as to wake up people in the house.

It was July, and the Tribe had been cold, losing to those damn Yankees before a West Coast swing. The games on the west coast were all at 10:05, and if I’d been good that day, I got to listen to them, quietly as always. I rarely made it out of the pre-game, thanks to my genetics. The lights would turn off, akin to putting a blanket over a birdcage and within moments, I was asleep until the sun came up. This night, a game against California (Back before the days of Anaheim, before the days of the Angels of Los Angelse via Costa Mesa by way of Orange County and Anaheim) was up, and I was itching to listen.

Top of the second, no one on, first pitch of the inning, and I heard it from the radio. “Peeee-Ter!”

Nevermind that neither my mother or father spoke my name that way. From them it was always short, much more curt as though Peter had one syllable, rather than the two intended by phonetics.

“Peeee-Teeer!” the sound came again from the radio. I stood up like a flash and opened my door, exiting my room and heading downstairs.

“Mom, did you call me?” I asked, somewhat sleepily. I startled her.

“What? Go to bed!”

“But, I–”

“Bed!”

I walked up the stairs with my brow furrowed in deep thought. The voice was obviously adult, and could not have come from my little sisters. My father was out of town, and it clearly could not have been his. I looked out the open window, and watched the street while the game happened behind me. Across the street, I saw the telltale sign of a cigarette being dragged, a man hiding in the bushes.

“Peeee-Teeer!” I heard again, and took off out of my room. He was back. The man who was cheering for me, the man who watched my imaginary home run fly five hundred feet was there, looking in my window late at night. And he knew my name.

“Mooooooom!” I shrieked in terror, breaking my way down the stairs taking two at a time, hitting the landing and then taking three at a time. Tears exploded from my eyes as I clutched her for dear life. “He’s out there! He’s watching me! He’s there! He’s there!” I screamed into her neck, crying as only a five year old boy can. Within seconds, police cars were swarming the street, and the man puffing the cigarette was thrown into the back of a police cruiser in moments.

Without me, the Indians rallied to win, eight to six. I like to think they did it for me.

Change

This story is a bit more autobiographical than maybe I’d like it to be. A bit more uncomfortable than it probably needed to be. But, here it is. Today, I was looking for something to write, and a prompt from a website that I hate said “Write a story about the first line of your favorite song.”

So, here it is, and a heavily edited but in-faith story of my favorite song. Oh, contains foul language, since I know there are a few of you who read these at work. Might want to not do that, if that’s a problem for you.

Continue reading Change

Your Kiss is On My List

On October 15th of this year, I will be married. Words cannot express just how excited I am about it — I’ve always been a girlfriend guy, in more serious relationships than I have been casual relationships. I’ve always wanted to be married, even before I can remember I always loved being Daddy when playing House.

But, of everything, there’s one thing I’ll miss more than anything: The first kiss.

There was something wonderful about each of the first kisses I experienced, even moreso than the sexual contact that inevitably spawned afterward. It was a magical apprehension, a moment where eyes locked together, where trusts were spawned and started, and where relationships began.

My first first kiss was fairly amazing, and something that kept me up at night for weeks thinking about it. She was my sister’s best friend, and dating a boy who hated my guts. There was a definite chemistry between us, despite our fourteen years not understanding exactly what chemistry is beyond negative ions and NaCl. We talked a lot, and on nights she would spend the night, we’d often stay up talking to each other, sitting on the couch and laughing.

And then there was the fateful night, where her boyfriend at the time decided to pick a fight with her about something that matters nothing cosmically. In tears, she came to me for solace, and I gave it. She cried into my shoulder as we talked, sitting on my bed. We talked for what seemed like hours, and then our eyes met.

I licked my lips and somehow, we moved closer to each other. I felt her body push into mine as my head turned. Millions of years of evolution taught me what to do. My eyes closed, head tilted, and our lips touched. We pressed closer as we turned into each other, my hand inexplicably moving to the back of her head on her shoulder.

Fireworks went off somewhere in the distance, and that Hollywood manufactured sound of incredible joy blared in my head. Lights flashed in my closed eyes as our tongues met, tentatively. Hours went by as we kissed. In my mind, I saw everything; our wedding day and how beautiful she looked, our children, David and Alexandria, our retirement and eventual death. Our lives flew by in that kiss, and when we broke it, I could barely stop smiling.

“Wow,” she said. “That was great.” I blushed.

“Thanks,” I giggled. “You were my first kiss.”

“Mine, too. And my second,” she smiled, kissing me again. I didn’t say no.

Most of my first kisses have lived up to that feeling; the fireworks, the sound of joy, the nervous rapture of butterflies in my stomach being quelled as lips meet for the first time. I’m glad my first kiss with my soon-to-be wife lived up to the same feeling. In fact, I feel the same way each time I kiss her, and I never want that feeling to end.

An Autobiographical Moment.

I think I’m putting too much pressure on myself with this #write365 thing. I’m trying to form grandiose stories in my head, formulate amazing words, and disappointing myself when I come up with absolute crap. Possibly what I’m doing is trying to run before I can walk, and so, I’m going to scale it down a bit.

In truth, I think I’m somewhat sabotaging myself because I am absolutely terrified of success in any way, shape or form. Compliments seem to do more damage to me than insults, simply because I’m more used to insults than I am compliments. I’ve always sort of lived by the motto “Not everyone gets a happy ending” perfectly accepting of my place in life. I’m not an Alpha Male, I don’t take life by the horns and do whatever I can to avoid responsibility for just about anything.

But this? I’ve never had a fire like this in my life. I’ve never had a constant desire to do anything like I do writing with the possible exception of cooking. Problem is, I have little fires burning all over the place. Little ideas filed away burning slowly, needing a log here, a stoke there, a poke. And I want to attend to each of them at the same time, all the time.

Except, I can’t for obvious reasons, and I shouldn’t.

So, I’m going to write and write and write some more. And when I’m done writing, I’ll write again the next day. Some fires will grow larger, others will have to burn out, and I’ll hope I can refire the embers of what was into a roaring fire.