The Bowerbird Blues
Supermax prison of Mind, let me out! Window bars and bulletproof glass fall out and let me go. Boost me up, I might make it through this duct to freedom from the roof. Disarrange my senses so I don't feel the pain of flesh scraped off by broken glass. Dull my feet to the shards. Dry my bloody tracks so no one can follow. Fill my pockets with red pepper for the dogs. Turn my feet of clay to wings of gold on thousand-dollar sneakers. I got a fight with Ares and a date with Aphrodite coming up. Let me out of this damned place before I go insane.
This coffee's always lukewarm or cold. I'm staring at a cursor waiting for it to say words I haven't thought. I'm worried about my favorite woman in a city of dangerous evil. I gave her my magic whistle but not my wand. No wizard in his right mind would give that up. Mine makes everyone invisible and splits rocks. I can divert a comet with it but don't know if I should. It has its limitations as a wand, however. For example, it cannot make a woman fall in love. But the whistle will keep her safe, until I can show her the Secret of the Pins. And the single-edged razor blade.
I was walking down a block in residential Corpus Christi one early evening before sunset, and a statuesque and graceful woman in very tight pants was walking in front of me about 20 feet. I absolutely could not desist.
"Hey girl," I said pleasantly. She stopped and turned and looked at me not with hostility but curiosity.
"Did somebody melt you down and pour you into those pants?" I asked. She broke out laughing and said no. I was so happy she took it that way. She fell in beside me and we walked two blocks talking. I forget her name. She's probably forgotten mine. I liked the hell out of her, and I could see she liked me. She stopped at a door of a small restaurant.
"This is where I work," she said, shaking hands. "I get off at 11." I said I would see her at 11.
I never went back for some reason. Something happened that made me forget, or maybe I was scared she would like me for real, and I would disappoint. I wasn't a fountainhead of self-esteem and confidence then like I am now. I wasn't timid or anything as my boldness shows. I wanted her in the best way, but I must have wanted something else more, or I would have been at that door with flowers and candy. Then again, I was probably broke and couldn't afford flowers and candy. I think that was it. I was probably broke. Man she was pretty. I still remember her laughing face and dirty blonde hair; and those pants. They were gold.
Everywhere I go its couples, couples, couples, their arms embracing backs and shoulders, hands cradling breasts, arms laid casually across thighs, heads resting on laps, hair being brushed by loving hands and braided, fingers with rings and wrists with bracelets of friendship and love, ankles with love trinkets and shoes with smiley faces. There are meadows of flowers waiting for Spring, butterflies soaring and songbirds singing, and panting, heaving bodies all over and inside each other, and everywhere out of sight, but going at it right now, all over the planet. Humans are fucking each other blind. It's driving me nuts.
Now I'm getting evicted from this nice old house I poured three weeks of free work into, cleaning a fouled nest neglected for years and mildew-attacked, with a toilet that hadn't been cleaned since Grant took Vicksburg. Nice authoritative older soft-spoken cop in an unofficial capacity, doing a favor for a rich man without a conscience, knocked on my window, and I let him in so he could tell me my options. Either get out now or get arrested. But he would talk to the guy because he could see I am not a bad person, and would tell him how hard I have been working on this property, which he the cop could see on my tour; a property that was not even his to command, since it belongs outright to his crazed, frail, and estranged wife, his fourth, who made a quid-pro-quo verbal deal with me: If I cleaned up and fixed the other, bigger house, I could live in this one rent-free till August. The bigger house depicted below, after I spent three days cleaning the yard and impassable street sidewalk.
It's been wonderful, living the winter in these two unheated houses with no hot water, stove, refrigerator (who needed one?) or kitchen sink. I am an expert now washing dishes in a bathtub on my knees. You should see how organized I am. I cook on a camp stove, keep water in a five-gallon container with faucet. It's so different after living nearly three years in a van again. I've never had so much room or privacy in my life. I've been able to pace from room to room to room talking to myself and working out dialogue, or singing at the top of my voice. I finally remembered how to sing from my stomach. I was starting to sound good, and the writing hasn't been so bad either. I also learned how to deal with disrespectful raccoons. So I have a lot to be grateful for. But I don't want to be arrested. I'm packing up to leave in case the guy does not change his mind after the cop puts in his promised good word for me. I have my van emptied completely into this house, and for the first time in about four years have easy access to everything I own. It's a lot of packing to condense this back into the van.
I'll have to abandon the nice old frayed but solid armchair she gave me, and the metal decorative table with circular glass top and matching chair, the rolling office chair, the three small lamps, the rusty but good bicycle, and a few other things. They're only things, I don't need them ultimately. All I need are my tools, van, ladders, computer, books, sleeping bag, clothing, (diminishing) money for gas and food, important documents, and my bag of medicine; and I am good to go.
But what a rat this guy is. Everything I did except cleaning up the raccoon shit was free in exchange for a roof. Everything I did benefited him and his sick wife, who is in his thrall for money. He doesn't like me, because I told him he was cheating me and devaluing my labor, when he shorted me a hundred bucks, and wouldn't even look at the work I had performed. A pain psychiatrist without a glimmer of gratitude or a thimble of conscience. Cold, distant, and arrogant. Soft and fat, and no dirt under those nails. Class-conscious and rolling around in vaults of money on properties yet undiscovered; he has no earthly idea what I did for him, or what it cost me.
And he must hate his wife, because everything he has done has been against her interests. She couldn't even sell this house or the one I just fixed up, in their present condition, and I am here fixing the things free. I even put out $150 of my own money for cleaning supplies, mop, scrub brushes, Clorox, artificial steel wool, Old English, and locks for the front and back doors. Keys to the old ones were long-lost. So that's all I can figure. He couldn't have taken so much umbrage at the outrageous audacity of my looking into his eyes. He must really hate her, and this is a thing between them. I'm just sitting here in the middle watching the bombs come down.
Click on the photos for a closer look.
Above left is an area in the attic in Old Mandeville, full of urine-and-feces-soaked insulation and destroyed duct work from those "lovable and mischievous" raccoons. Took 10 days and 26 construction-sized heavy plastic bags to clear that stuff out, on my hands and knees, and two days vomiting and sick from the germs.
The driveway was clogged with so much vegetation and piled up garbage & metal fencing, that it took an entire day to clear. Then the yardmen showed up. In back, the garage was three feet deep in 20 years of sloppy storage and moldy everything. Below is the garage after about 30 total hours of cleaning, once until 3 a.m. Two other rooms aren't visible.
The bathtub was in the back bathroom. I don't have time or inclination to show you what it looked like three feet up. I cleaned and fixed all this stuff to the point of it being almost-immaculate, not to mention useful again. Somehow I ended up with 2,200 before-and-after digital photos of nearly everything I did. Now I am pondering what to do with them...
The bookcase on the left has been washed. The one on the right has been finished with Old English rubbed in for an hour with artificial steel wool.
One of the two mahogany bookcases in the living room in Slidell, that I scrubbed for hours, then applied Old English to for another hour to restore the abused beauty of the natural woodwork. There were eight mahogany doors and trim work that also got the full treatment. Plus the 16 10-foot walls I scrubbed clean of mildew and dirt. I was going to give this place a knock-dead paint job and then glaze it. The house is pink with white trim. I was going to power wash all the dirt off, prep and paint it a nicer pink, and turn the white trim into black, just like the 50s. Unlike many hard-bitten black-hearted men like me, I love the color pink. Nobody would have wanted to re-paint for 50 years. I'm a journeyman painter, and have been doing it for 30 years off and on. It boggles my brain that someone would throw me away like this. I would charge $5,000 for such a paint job that I had planned to do for the cost of the paint and materials.
The chandelier at the beginning of this piece hadn't looked that good since it came out of the factory. Three hours washing and burnishing the metal and glass.
All I can do is accept it and remember there are things to be grateful for anyway. So, what does it matter? What difference does it make? I can't fix those two or change a damned thing. The weather's getting warmer, the van's still running okay, thank God, and I feel better about the writing, thanks to the one I love so madly.
Ha, ha! I just can't let it go, can I? I can't help it really. Sure, I'm not going to write about love or women anymore.
I'm trying to decorate this damned Mind prison, okay? Ever heard of the wonderful Bowerbird? If the drab male makes a nice-enough nest, a beautiful female will enter and stay. I don't want anybody in here but the Goddess of Love & Beauty and Her attendants.