I was reminded this evening of the past. I’d tried to catch the Glenn Beck episode tonight on the many ways one is monitored with technology. Work and life intervened but there was a guest on that was a bit difficult to find sans the evil G. (I never use it as my search agent. Even this blog’s use of the evil G product is…loathsome.) Barrett Moore was the man’s name and it was strangely familiar.
It resolved, finally, to a private security group – one that Trooper had considered when we first met as he was working to find something useful to do. But his ex had saddled him with fiscal issues that were not welcomed at most – the best – such groups. So he fixed them and turned to Texas, instead.
As I looked at the company’s information my eyes rested on the town…Fairfax. Ah, yes…it was a lovely place and I had been there for a short time when I was, I suppose, 14 or so. Mother had remarried – a man we knew nothing about and whom I hardly recall. But he had money and enough of it to move what family remained to that town. It was a long drive, I recall, in a large and new car that had a chemical scent mingling with the leather…we stopped for gas at one point and he must have spilled it on himself or somehow gotten it in the car – within moments it was too much to even breathe and I said as much.
I remember dimly a frenetic search for a carwash, of some sort of scent added to the car so that the combination was only more nauseating. It was then I knew he was Not Right. But I’d known so much of that before – I figured that it might be a tolerable kind of eccentricity. When we finally arrived in that town he drove us to a furniture store where we were to each select what we wanted for our bedrooms…separate bedrooms was a dream. But new furniture – our own? We’d never had anything new…
The home was, I suppose, a standard for people who lived at that level. Not a brownstone with the diverse scents of cookery in every peeling wall. No – it was multilevel but it was all ours and very new. I try now to picture the interior but I can hardly manage it. I remember only the bedroom and his office. His office had filing cabinets – 3-drawer versions and there must have been 2 or 3 in a row. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would need them – and not at home. But as we roamed the new place, I saw the keys to the cabinets on top, taped there by movers I supposed, and duplicates. Something rose up in me and I peeled off the duplicate keys, tucking them into my pocket.
I’d realized, too, that the man was a drinker. Case after case was stacked. Trouble er’ long, I figured. And it wasn’t.
I was enrolled in the school, taking a bus that was not a city bus but a proper school bus full of kids who had no idea of the snake in their midst. Or a city rat, perhaps…I just knew that I was not of them, not like them. The school had carpets on the floors and new desks and chairs. I walked through the halls, laughing and shaking my head. No more the industrial concrete walls with the two toned puke green paint. Carpet…
It was winter – but not like Chicago, no. It was a kinder, gentler snow that fell. It was hardly an inch on the ground when the bell rang and we were told that the snow required they close school early and get us all home safely. I looked out the window where the ground was still clear in patches and laughed again. Sure, okay – whatever you say…
I cannot really say how long I lived there. I only recall a night when the deep midnight blue sky was echoing with shouts and banging, a racket that was unlike anything I had heard before – and I’d heard a familial battle or two. I’d had a phone in my room – another one of those very strange and wondrous gifts that I did not comprehend. But I’d erred in some way recently and had lost the priviledge as well as that of my phonograph.
Perhaps it was that encounter that fueled the next. I cannot tell you now if it was that same day, or a week later. I do know that I didn’t have a phone – and when I hunted the others in the house, discovered that they were all missing. The racket escalated and I can still remember my calm movements though a hurricane moved inside me. I could almost see myself from the outside – deliberate and sure while shaking with what must be done.
I took those purloined keys – I knew he had little imagination and had hid the phones in the cabinet. I do not know how I knew it – but I didn’t bother looking elsewhere. I remember thinking he might hear me – that I had to do it quick, quiet…and so I did. In my room, I hesitated to dial the number, to press that 0 for the operator. It was a small town, a very nice neighborhood, but…it was my mother down that hall, down that staircase. No matter if she would have told me no, no – it’ll be okay. Look at all this I’ve managed to get for us! – for, that would have been her argument…no matter.
The police department was very fast – hardly minutes before the door was banged upon and I let them in. Later, a nice man asked me how I managed to get the phone if they were locked away and I explained how I’d taken the keys…even now I can see the raised brow, impressed.
He was tucked into a car in his boxers and tshirt. The neighbors were all out and I felt, for a moment, like a moth pinned to a board. But the gutter rat straightened my spine – fuck you. Fuck all of you in this fleecy prison. A few days later I made the call and arranged to go to Houston. My father was there and he was perhaps just as drunk but more fun. It was, I suppose, the start of the end…
I never knew what happened after I left that place, the pretty furniture in the room…I walked away from it all. And all that returned to me with that glance at the name – just a pretty town full of sneaky people…and a part of wonders still what I might have been if I’d stayed – if I’d remained in that proper school, if I’d considered an alphabet agency…if I could have ignored the mad man down the hall for those few years necessary.
Instead, life led me down a different path…my choice set into motion a kind of gear set that churned me up and out, over and over, the same errors and bad decisions mounting one atop the other so that I had to leave, again and again. And, finally, with the 9mm placed decisively down on the desk and the phone picked up instead.
I always look at that night was a kind of cleat in the well wall. The first step from a place quite remote and hazardous until I finally could feel the clean wind and smell the sunlight on the stone…I left so much of Me back there and there was so much of Forgetting done in one way and another that there are large empty spots in my memory. Only rarely does something tick that gear into place and I am able to piece together what was lost and foggy.
I’d forgotten that slice of time…that place…how amusing it was – to be the dark thing that knew Everything surrounded by the eloi. But I still have those What If thoughts. I might have been quite remarkable, I think. But the cynic in me wryly adds, “Or dead.” – and I have to admit she’s probably right. No – here, now, and knowing more than most…it isn’t a bad place to be, I think.