The Mourner I knew yesterday
Exhaling development roundly.
Conduit to Expression
Prompting New search in Old directions.
Pumping full of Mastery and Now-ness
Urgency never Parses.
'This is a celebration of Life.' Curt was thinking to himself, passing the Woodward bus stop at Webster Road, or 12 and a half mile. Accidentally or absent-mindedly, Curt signaled for a stop too early, now he had to walk until he could pick up the next 450 Smart Bus to Pontiac.
It was a mild, March day and Curt felt like walking. At present, it was six months to the day that Curt's Mother had passed on into the unknown. Being moody and emotional all day, Curt was 'stuck in his head' so to speak. Jose had suggested they meet up with Garret to go check out a '74 Spotrster that Hood was looking at; it did not appeal to Curt today. In his left arm Curt cradled 10 purple tulips, wrapped in green tissue paper.
'Purple for Valor, and Green for Rebirth' Curt thought to himself, musing as a joyus-grief strickened smile forged it's way across his mouth.
An orange MDOT truck roared past expelling diesel fumes and bringing Curt back to reality. He did not have enough for the roses that he wanted but remembered that Mom had always liked tulips. Looking down at the flowers he counted them again and noticed that there were ten, all in all a perfect number. Curt Dupont was a mid-twenties, warehouse worker from South-Eastern, Metro-Detroit, Michigan. He wore short, brown hair and had blue eyes. He was 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 180 pounds. Curt always walked with a fast pace, a trick taught to him to keep in better shape during his two semesters at college. The year was 1998. That day, he was wearing a black kashmir coat and scarf, that had been given to him by his paternal grandmother, Rose. The turtleneck he had on was black as well over denim jeans. He was shod in a pair of Frye, Roper boots, his best pair.
The weather was supposed to be rainy that day, in Michigan, that could change at a moments notice. However, the clouds, although dark just loomed by. On his right, was the Roseland Park Cemetery, where Mom had been laid the year before. Curt was almost to the 12 Mile entrance feeling cold and hungry on the inside. Dad didn't want to come with him. It was just as well. Dad was in the Vodka this morning, so Curt decided to go alone.
Here, before us, the story of us all, Curt, just trying to figure out where he stood in life, what and how the terms of 'potential' and 'truth' meant to him. How to assign value to a system of living that inherently had none. How to honor himself through his own suffering and work to help other through theirs. His Dad did not have the patience. Curt had past demons, trouble now and an uncertain future. His life was a portal of sorrow and misery into which we are able to watch. Disgusted and often sad he mired about his days in search of a much needed break into the light of Life.
Entering into the cemetery, Curt proceeded to the plot. It had been a few months since he had been there and had some trouble finding it but came across Grace Dupont's grave almost by accident. Saying a quick prayer, he laid the flowers against the still brown overgrown March grass. A stiff breeze blew open the lapels of his coat as he stood erect, he consulted the large Oak tree framing the gray sky. There were no buds on the tree and Curt felt loss for the first time in his adult life. Grief came over him just in that moment. Depression rolled over his frame and a chill ran up and down his spine making the back of his skull tingle. He searched his pockets for a cigarette and his Zippo. Lighting one he inhaled and watched the Woodward traffic buzz by oblivious of his character. The Lexus' the BMW's all full of important people with no time to live, no time to live. . .. Curt drew away from the grave. At least he had the sense, the patience, the wisdom to honor his family. Curt needed a cup of coffee (maybe even a drink) before getting back on the bus home.
“Made a good attempt at eating and moving around today.”
The thought rolled through Curt's head and fell short of what he was really feeling he supressed the emotion, and an urge came over him for a beer. He pulled off his Ray-Ban Aviators, and rubbed his eyes. he consulted the heavens and saw the clouds pressing lower. Finishing his cigarette, he hurried off for the Woodward bus line again, this time north-bound on the 450.
Woodward was zooming with traffic. Curt stood at the Webster stop waiting. He looked at his Hamilton Khaki on his left wrist. the bus was most always 8 minutes late. Off in the distance, Curt caught a glimpse of the bus lumbering through traffic. 45 minutes later he would be home. As the air brakes on the bus squeaked the mass to a halt and the double doors swung open, Curt began to board.
“Good Afternoon” Curt greeted the driver, boarding.
“Hello” the Driver said back.
The bus was jammed with people; most of them were napping, so Curt stood by the door holding on to the overhead rail. Perhaps Gail would be home when Curt arrived. Gail Astor was Curt's live in girlfriend of the moment. She was in her early twenties and worked in a coffeeshop in Birmingham. They shared a ground floor, one bedroom flat on State street. They were happy there, although their schedules often conflicted. They managed to stay together through the upheval of modern life.
Curt watched as the strip malls and subdivisions roll by. There was no sense of community, nobody seemed interested in their neighbors. There was no honor. The main pretense of life was to go to work, fill a role and forget about the rest. As long as the zeros balanced in the bank account there was no call for any form of thought outside of what were you going to do next. Curt wanted to get high.
It occured to him as the Bus went by the Phoenix Center in Pontiac; that Wade, one of his friends, had just went into a 3/4 house for substance abuse, heroin. He was up the street on Huron, Curt would have to go visit him soon, but not today. Wade and Curt had used years ago, then Wade nearly checked out and Curt put down dope for a minute.
The Bus came to a stop in front of the shelter. Curt made sure to put the pack of cigs. inside his coat so nobody would bum one from him. He stepped off the bus and it began to rain. He felt better off than those in front of the shelter. His sense of Humility escaped him for a fleeting moment, until the reminder of his Father came across his consciousness. Then he was off to the races in his head. In the five months he lived in Pontiac, the relationship between Will, his father, and Curt had been diminishing due mainly in part to both of their drinking and depression. They both dwelled in the realm of sadness, darkness and gloom. The rain came across Curt's face as tender reminder that he was human and prone to chill. He had a mile to go and would be drenched at the rate of the rainfall. Yet, the rain symbolized deeper meanings. Water for crops, the lakes; even sexual overtones according to Reich. He looked at the graffiti on the transformer box at the corner of Saginaw and Huron, it said “Skors” he could barely make it out, like some egyptian code. Street parable. . .
On the street, Curt decided to go into the corner store and pick up a few forties, and a couple of packs of spirits, it was a good day to smoke, brood and drink. He had been patient during his suffering, and very humble so he had earned a reward. He fathomed listening to ”The Violent Teat Wankers” a band out of Austin, Texas. The best band, in fact ever. Justin entered off Saginaw street.
“Hey, Curt” Amir said.
“Hey” Curt said back, heading to the beer coolers in back.
“Getting an early start?” Amir asked, more as a statement of fact.
“Yep. Rough one today Amir, rough.”
He selected two forty ouncers of 'Billy' beer and returned to the front.
“Amir, may I have two packs of Spirits?”
“You got it buddy.”
Amir and Curt exchanged money and goods, and Curt departed leaving Amir to his business. Curt could have made his purchases almost anywhere, and at a better discount, but he chose to patronize Amir's store because he felt he was contributing and promoting the community.Also, Amirs store had been broken into and set on fire a couple of times. So, Curt in his simple way was helping Amir recoup his losses. Curt began the journey home after being called away on such a disagreeable day.
Upon reaching the first floor flat, up Huron Street, he unlocked the door and crossed the threshold. He was once and again on sacred ground. He closed and bolted the door behind him, set down the package from Amir's store and took off his coat. It was still the quiet, dark place he had left hours before. Walking across the living room, he entered the kitchen and put his beer in the ice box. He turned on the small light above the sink. He peered into the bedroom, which was off the kitchen, to see if his girlfriend Gail was in there napping. No Gail. He went into the bedroom and took a half a pack of Spirits off the dresser and lit one, then he returned to the kitchen where he found a note attached to the refrigerator from Gail. It read: 'Curt, I am working late today, I left you some thai and a roach in the ashtray, I hope you are in good spirits and remember: I love you.'
“Perfect” Curt said to himself.
Taking a billy beer from the fridge, he poured half of the contents into a mason jar and wandered into the living room. He opened the blinds in the living room to let in the Michigan Gray. Then he glanced up and down Huron Street through the window. Turning on the stereo receiver, he listened to the news and weather before putting in a CD of John Lee Hooker and lighting up the roach. Soon the THC in the marijuana would transport him to that cool place, that feeling of seduction curled in smoke, resounding off the beer and playing in between his ears. The cotton mouth would compliment the beer accordingly, then the munchies would set in and the thai was well on hand. The memory of the cemetery drifted in and out of his mind. It felt like the rain did against his face and body. The first hit made him shiver in anticipation. The past smothered the corners of his mind, and brought with it shame, as a streetfighting hooligan with an emotional switchblade that carved out the spirituality he so desperately craved.
Equality of the senses. Equality of people. Curt was none of these and all of these coming to attention in the fashion of a broken; a broken temperment, a broken mood, a broken man, all at once. He earnestly sought out the 'beat' in everything and attempted not to judge things by the facade. Conventional thought was paranoid and superstitious. Fear, anger, ignorance and hate were the basis for all discrimination. Just listen to the negative connotation in those words. A red one has more such and such than a grey one. A blue one is better than a shelled one. This sort of classification mechanism, built into the damn country since the mid-eval days lent itself well to a divinely inspired Constitution that provided Equality for all. Is not the human race simply that? Human. Entitlement, class, race; all theory. Did the world need to be right all the time and compartmentalize the entire existence of the race? So it was in the Age of Information. So it was in the Age of Slavery. Humans had ceased to be humans and were well on the way to a faceless numbers game that never added up in a spiritually bankrupted culture. These thoughts and notions surfaced in Curt's mind from time to time and he tried to express them, but often the jumble of cannabanoids confused the neurotransmitters in his brain and he came off thinking and sounding like a ranting loon. . ..
“Dual Diagnosed, Hunger listens closely to Stomaches Idle Chatter.”
“Personally, I like my cancer the old fashioned way, I smoke it” Curt overheard the radio ad for a smoking cessation class.
Times “they are a changin'” as Bob Dylan so aptly put. Curt ate the thai food and drank some more beer. Who should pull up clouded in mystery and a Coke buzz but the Hood on that 74 sportster.
“So you did end up buying that piece of shit eh?” Curt asked.
“Yeah, I needed it” Hood said.
They went into the house and Curt sat on the couch and Hood the chair by the desk.
“So what do you know Hood?” Curt asked.
“I know I got some blow, you want some?”
The rails of cocaine were lined out and soon both were high and having a good time talking a mile a minute.
“That's what we God damn need to do in this country, have a revolution” Hood said.
”It's afforded to us by the Constitution” Curt replied baiting the Hood.
“That's right and that old Second give us the right to bear arms when the government gets too oppressive” Hood declared.
“But what if instead of a war revolution, there was like. . . a heightened consciousness revolution? One about culture, arts and dignity? You know Hood the finer human emotions?”
“The Motorcity is Burning” came across the speakers at Curt and the Hood.
The Hood decided to cut out on the motorcycle. A car pulled up in the driveway of the house next door and four black kids got out. it was a decent mid 70s Buick.
Pontiac, Michigan was a predominately black community in Oakland County, which by and large mostly white. It was surrounded by Bloomfield Hills to the south, West Bloomfield, which was one of the richest areas in the country. It was also near Waterford, bordered it actually and affectionately known as ”Watertucky” due to the backwoods nature of the folks who were dwelling there. There was not much to do in Pontiac, except get high and go to the clubs, then recover at some later point it was a circle.
Curt heard the neighbors laughing and talking. He felt comfortable and at ease in the neighborhood. So, for now, it was good.
Curt finished his glass of beer and rose to refill it. The chemicals attacked his brain and he began to dwell in the realm of “What if. . .” and “If only. . ..” So much tension, conflict and friction between everyone, there seemed to be no other solution but to go on silently.
Curt heard Gail's rusty Caprice pull into the driveway. Slowly, joy crept over him as the anticipation of a coming holiday. Full of promise, full of happiness. he heard the car door slam, indicating a foul mood and all of that joy, hope and anticipation vanished. Before she even got to the door, he knew her mood, it was bad.
Crossing the threshold from boyhood to adulthood was the crossroads that Curt was at, Gail on some level too. Hell, the whole damn country was coming of age in the information age. But for Curt, Curt was seeking, calling out for the adventure and it would soon arrive the journey from the inside out. The spirit was dwelling inside Curt and called to him and he must heed the call.
The front door opening, for it was not locked, Gail entered looking slightly more pale than usual, her brunette hair was askew and her blue eyes narrowed.
“You have a cigarette?” She demanded more than asked.
“Sure. Hello?” Curt said tentatively.
“Hello, I'm sorry” She said.
He offered her a cigarette as a peace offering. She took one and lit it from the Zippo on the table.
She inhaled deeply and exhaled, and then she began.
“First, there was a huge accident on Wide Track, and I almost did not make it on time. When I got there, there was a line of people out the door. ted was late as usual. The espresso bar broke and everyone was pissed that they could not get Mochas, so I made shit for tips When Ted came in he felt like socializing, so he did not want to work. Then, I ran out of cigarettes, and Ted had to leave early, I had to stay late with everyone bitching about no espresso. All I wanted to was come home. I was not sure when you would be here and I didn't want to be alone. I swear I was going to have a panic attack, Then as I was about to leave the car wouldn't start so I had to get a jump form some guy. . ..”
“Alternator” Curt said definitively.
“Yeah, whatever. So I'm on my way home and the gas light comes on and I have to decide between cigarettes and gas, so I got gas.”
Curt smiled at her.
“Well your home now, have some cigarettes and beer, I'll get the alternator” Curt said.
“Did you finish that joint?” Gail asked.
“I really could have used it” She said sadly.
“Do we have anymore?” She asked.
“No, that was the last of it. I'll get some more on the way home.
“We can't afford it.”
“Rent is not due for a few weeks yet, and barring any unforeseen circumstances we should have enough food until the next payday. . .(Curt's favorite catch phrase)Don't worry about it.”
“But I do worry” She said, almost pleading.
With that Curt set out for the auto parts store and the dope dealer. He would take the core deposit back on the alternator after the job was done and that $25 dollars would come in handy when he was going to score. Stopping by the Standard Federal ATM, he took out some cash, always looking around him. A few people had gotten rolled at this ATM in the past weeks, but mostly at night. Putting the bills into his money clip, he continued down Huron toward Telegraph & M59. 'At least the weather has improved' He thought to himself. The clouds overhead were beginning to clear. It was a long walk to S&K Auto, and he should have asked Gail for a ride, but he was trying to be considerate of her really bad day. Curt began to sing a few bars of Jimi Hendrix's 'If 6 was 9' to himself.
“If the Sun refused to shine, I don't mind, I don't' mind.” He sang, under his breath.
He was nearing the parts store, and totally down off the pot and beer, feeling lethargic and unmotivated to do anything, mostly tired. the pot was not that great and the beer was kind of Curt's sedative.
Auto mechanics was an important dynamic to Curt's persona. He was an intermediate mechanic and could change out parts on most motorcycles and cars. He would rather work on vehicles himself than to take them somewhere. Garages around town were notorious for gouging and ripping people off. Should you find a reliable mechanic around Detroit, you tended to keep them handy. As manufacturing was slowly being shipped to Mexico and Canada from the NAFTA, it was harder and harder to work on cars and bikes as usual. the re-manufactured parts and tools that lined the store shelves were inferior and prone to break or have issues more frequently. It was the demise of the American auto industry on the horizon. Curt sa it from way back as a UAW member. Lazy people, lazy times. Everyone getting fat off the huge profits and then crying at the expense of health care. See, Curt believed in his heart that health care should be offset in part by taxes and in part by the companies that one worked for. in this regard, a burden shared is a burden cut in half. Yet, everyone of his union brothers would cry “Socialism!!!”
Coming down from a high was Curt's worst fear and feeling. Other than getting pulled over holding and buzzed. That was the problem with the substances. They only took you so far and the rest was up to your imagination.
The S&K auto parts store parking lot was packed and jammed with people. Some of them had the hoods up on their cars and were taking parts off and performing emergency repairs to their hooptys. He was going to have to wait; not high, for his parts. that is when he could use the imagination portion of his remaining high. Before going in he lit a Spirit, blowing the smoke out form his nostrils.
Curt thought about his plan of attack for the Caprice. He had to score after the auto parts store but before the project otherwise it would not go as smoothly. He was going to get the pot on a front, meaning he would get it on the credit to pay later in the day. Conrad, his dealer was usually OK with this as he had known Curt form the time he had moved in over two years ago.
Curt snuffed out the cigarette butt on his boot-heel put the halfie left over in his pack and entered through the double doors on the south-side of the building.
Inside, the store was a bustling hive of activity. All the 'Watertucky' low income folks were buying accessories for their equally low income transportation. Curt walked through the oil aisle. He would have bought a case of oil and a filter to change the oil on the Caprice if he didn't need the pot as badly as he did. Right now, the marijuana was just as important as the alternator.
“Did you want to make dinner while I work on the car?” Curt asked.
“there's no war I can wage
on this world
there are small revolutions to be had
but none so large
as this earth.” -Kate 2010 from the forums
Curt was getting ready to wage war on the Caprice. He stood in line at the parts counter awaiting his turn. When it came he was greeted:
“Hello. What may i get for ya today?” The counter clerk stated. The wait had not been that long and for that, Curt was grateful. Maybe for the first time in his life.
“I need an alternator for an 89 Caprice with a 350 please” Curt replied.
“Sure, one moment while I look that up” The clerk said.
The clerk, after consulting the computer, went into the back to get the alternator. When he returned, Curt had his money ready.
“OK that will be $59.00 dollars and you will get $25 back on your core deposit” The clerk told Curt.
'That was painless' Curt thought to himself.
Curt then began to think about how he was going to pose the front of the dope to Conrad. Conrad was usually pretty cool about fronting Curt, but sometimes if he was low or short on cash he wanted to hold on to the dope in case someone with money came by. But, a short term front of a few hours, was not like a week long front. Curt always had the money straight for the dopeman. If Conrad didn't go for it then Gail and Curt would fiend.
Curt examined the parts on his way out of the store. It was not a Delco alternator, but, instead a reconditioned mexican one.
'Thank God for NAFTA' Curt thought to himself. Ever since Clinton had signed that into legislation, re-manufactured auto parts had become shoddy at best. They stood a 50% chance of working properly at best. Quality control and materials standards were not that great in other countries yet. Often, reconditioned parts were bad right out of the box.
Curt muttered a small prayer to whatever was looking out for him that day. He had enough money for the part, the parts store had the part, things were looking up. Curt had to take care of Gail, she was like his only family. he had to honor her.
Curt needed the dope badly that day, he re-lit the half cigarette from the pack as he exited the store. He hated working on the Caprice, just that car in particular. Usually, he enjoyed working on things mechanical in nature but not that car, it always seemed to whore him out over a part or tool. Either it was a broken bolt or a rusted, frozen part. he had no patience for the Caprice and maybe that was what it was trying to teach him. Something always managed to go awry. It was only a few blocks away fom the parts store to Conrad's. Soon, the weed would clear his head and he would be able to concentrate on the task ahead.
This moment of hope faded and went out like the lights on a sinking ship plundering to the bottom of a deep lake at night. Suddenly, Curt felt pitiful and weak, insecure. His chest heaved and a raspy, pack-a-day cough followed. Every time things looked good, Gail would get tempramental, or the Caprice would blow up and the money always got screwed up. He felt like a man standing on an eroding piece of ice or shifting land mass; melting or sliding to extremes. All he could do was hope that Conrad would be home and in the fronting mood. Weed never looked the other way. weed always cared. Weed was his friend, his lover and sometimes his master.
The substances brought out harmony and clarity to the most wretched scenes, or often they masked the scene so it was at least tolerable. Things would become bearable and all of the anger and fright would dissipate.
Conrad's house looked dormant as he approached, but like all good dope houses, it always looked that way. It was a two story, brick bungalow with bars on the windows and doors. Curt went up on the porch and knocked on the door. There was no sound coming form inside the house and the alternator was growing heavy in Curt's arms. He tapped the door again.
“Who is it?” Conrad's voice cut through Curt's swirling thoughts.
“It's Curt from Huron” Curt replied.
Curt heard the locks being unturned and then the door opened. Conrad unlocked the screen door and let Curt in. Curt set the alternator down by the door. Conrad was a mid-forties black man, slightly balding with a light dusting of grey near the temples of his close cropped haircut. He wore grey sweatpants with a grey hooded sweatshirt and sandals.
“Whatcha' want” He said.
“I need an 8th on a front” Curt replied. The revolution had started in Curt's head!
“That's about all I got left” Conrad said, not allowing Curt futher than the hallway he was in.
“The fronts just for an hour or so, until I get the deposit back on my alternator, then I'll be back.”
“Alright” Conrad said after deliberation, 'But don't make this a habit!” He said smiling.
Curt could hear the weights on the triple beam working in the back, and then Conrad appeared with the bag of dope.
“That'll be $30 because of the front.”
'Sure thing Conrad.”
A rush of adrenaline and joy came over Curt and poured through him as he quit the premises. Outside, the lush of green from the trees and grass looked awesome, the faint evening glow had come on the horizon. Oranges, reds and blues danced across the sky. Curt was gleeful even though Conrad had burned him for another five bucks. He sped home as quickly as possible and when he got there Gail was on the couch drinking a glass of beer and smoking a cigarette.
“Took you long enough” she said.
“I had to stop”
“Here” Curt said handing her the baggy.
“Does this even weigh?” She asked unrolling the baggy.
'I'm sure it does, besides it was the last he had and he gave it to me on a front.
“Roll one up. I got the alternator so, I'm gonna change and fix it before dark.”
“OK” Gail replied already portioning out the marijuana and cleaning it to remove the seeds and stems.
Curt disappeared into the back bedroom to put on some work clothes.
'Dirtweed' Gail thought to herself, but at least it would get them high and the trouble of the day would dissolve into a comfortable numbness. Curt returned a few minuteslater with a glass of beer, dressed in ripped jeans and a grease-smeared beige Carthart. He sat down on the couch next to Gail and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
All the beer, all the drugs still left Curt hollow on the inside, he wished there was a way out of the cycle but couldn't trust enough in himself and the programs around him to make that leap of faith into clean living.
It was the problem with us all, not enough confidence in ourselves to affect greater personal change and growth.
We abandon the World, ourselves and others in the pursuit of the intangible and along the way we make enemies, hurt ourselves and others and often if we are lucky, we have a good time. But, these are few and far between.
It seemed that by getting out of ourselves getting into the spiritual realm believing in something other than ourselves we are actually becoming more human, more real.
The intangible is an illusion created by the World to cloud our perception of ourselves and others,what we have and don't have. Love, beauty and truth. Kicks, Joy and Light.
We bump into the drift of life, never knowing where the currents take us. The important thing is that the currents may direct us and reveal more than we would have found left to our own meanderings.
Back at the residence, Curt felt a sense of accomplishment. He had fixed Gail's car hooked up and was ready for night. night was the most important part of Curt's day. There, in the dark folds of night; in the safety of Gail's presence he could be free. He could escape. It was sanctuary, refuge. . .. Now was the time. Curt put on some T-Rex, loaded up a bong and shared with Gail who was finishing the last of the beers. They didn't pass much conversation that night it was that kind of day. An emotional roller coaster. The important thing is that they were together, suffering but together.
The item about suffering is that it leads to patience. When one is suffering, patience is all that may sustain them. The pains suffered in this mortal shell are but legends of Odysseus travels; lashed to the mast as the Seirens' tried to sing him to doom; or the trails of Job, tempted into forsaking God, pouring out in a symphony of cacophony.
It is similar to the winnebago trickster, who roams the Earth, part coyote, part shaman. The trickster goes about his business, usually wounding himself by his own hand and adventures.
Hades and Persephone, Curt and Gail. No different, love chooses. . ..
Curt never understood people, places and things and was therefore powerless over them, Pan and his flute, nero and his Violin and Cupid's darts were all that Curt could think to express. Mania, sheer indulgence and love.