The Benny Poda Years
20 - Baltimore, Still
Jones was his first name and, so far as I know, his last. Well, ACTUALLY, he HAD another first name, but to get it, you'll have to call up Barry Hannah in Oxford, Mississippi, and THAT dude doesn't remember it. But if you want to call up Hannah, you can damn well do it. Go to Information. Tell him I said to call. The man can be a fine writer. But he doesn't like me. Call him up! He'll tell you why. I'd tell you to call up Willie Morris of Jackson, but Mr. Morris, he dead. Why? Because we all have only so many drinks in us, pal. Mr. Morris had 37 of them with me, in those years. Otherwise, he'd still be alive. You're an evil motherfucker if, when somebody dies and you were THERE contributing to the damn shit, you're an evil motherfucker if you say, well, he did it to himself. Of COURSE he did it to himself. And I thought it was a riot, at the time, contributing to it. Look, man, it is actually pretty fucking FAR from a riot. And you got fucked up with Wallace Stevens? Hart Crane? And you're proud of it? Well, FUCK you, Peter Rabbit. I miss everyone I've ever known. Even those I did not like.
Jones had been to the rodeo, too, and we had some things in common: we had fucked up the best relationship we'd ever had because we were FUCKED up, and we loved to listen to dissonant music, which reflected our Souls. And Jones was not a Judger, like most people who have, by genes or by choice or both, fucked up their lives. He was acutely aware of his shortcomings and as such he did not bitch at you for YOURS. THAT is a goddamn man, son. It really is. Because if you are 35 or older and you DON'T think you fucked up your life, hurt yourself, crushed others, pissed all your chances away—if you ARE such a person, you are a liar or you are really, really drunk. You don't like to hear that shit? Well, we're all in the same goddamn pea-green boat, and that boat is Sinking.
Jones was a man who had such pain in him that only someone who had LIVED with that shit could REALLY see it, and I saw it in his eyes. That's why I told him about those Years. Because he was THERE, man. If you drink until you pass out and wake up or come around just to get right to it again, by yourself, if you DO that, man, finally if you blot out your pain enough your Shadow takes over your Mind and when you finally wake the fuck up, you have an ineffable sadness in your eyes for the Rest of Your Life because you know what most other people don't, which is that your Shadow is You. And you also see THEIR shadows, wafting across the wall, and you're scared. And you're hurt. And you're human. Or maybe you don't think you are. Well, I am. And just who the FUCK are you.
Jones was old enough to be my father, but he knew damn well I was old enough to be HIS father, too. But I'll tell you what he did, after my binge on Crack. I told him ALL the fuck about it. I did not leave a detail out. I wanted to be full of shit, but I was beyond it. And Jones bailed out my shit and went and got me a cue. Actually, he got me 2 of them, and they weren't gold-handled but they were solid and straight, too, and he got me back to the Halls. Why did he do it?
The SECOND you Leave your Empathy, there is a level of hell waiting for you, and it is not a gentle one. I will be honest with you, for once. I want to blot out all the shit that wafts around in my brain. I want to feel secure, stable, loved. I want to live another life.
And I cannot.
So I write to stay alive. I write to stay sane. And I write to tell you about my fight with that bastard, Luke Primo.
And we'll discuss it tomorrow.