More than words can say

Dear Ben,

I know it’s been some time since I’ve written to you so I want to do it now. In the past we have had our differences, I’m sad about that. At least we can be civil with each other now that our lives have ripened. During the last fifty one years, beginning at age sixteen, I’ve had many experiences which have hardened me and caused my mistrust of most people around me. With you I can rest assured I know where I stand even if it’s colored by hard feelings.

 

In my twilight years it is increasingly difficult for me to hold grudges with people who don’t understand me and who tend to be critical of my past transgressions. Finding it useless to be overly concerned about what people may think, I refuse to carry negative energy around with me. I find most people who are threatened in their lives for some reason or other are the ones that are most critical. In my opinion, people who are happiest inside their own skin are the lucky ones, they are the unaffected ones, the ones who can live their lives in peace. 

 

 

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Another point is the ego factor, people who suppress awe or jealousy feelings at all costs for fear of showing weakness or when they want to feel superior, are foolish, they waste so much time and energy on superficial things that their lives become diminished. When people show a snobbish attitude they become ugly, they don’t see it but everyone around them does. In my life, I have, for the most part, avoided that quagmire. 

 

I have always maintained the notion that living life on this planet was not to be unhappy or wanton, it was to be joyful and fulfilling. Some folks I have met insist on being stressed out or sad most of the time. I think those people are, unfortunately, comfortable in that feeling. Some people are professional victims and enjoy any sympathy they can illicit from friends and family or even from strangers. I could never understand that, it is destructive to them and everyone around them. Misery wants company and that sucks. 

 

There’s been times when I have challenged my insanity, times when I’ve wondered where the bliss was that’s supposed to come along with that condition. If I were to ever have found bliss I would have embraced it, whatever that might have felt like, with all my might, but alas, that hasn’t been the case. So, I suppose bliss is recognizable only to people who go through life feeling they are living up to their early training and expectations given them by their parents, that may be it, but soon they may realize they have been let down. In the past I have tried to measure my level of sanity by talking to people who, after staying in school too long, have decided they were experts on the subject.

 

Their creditability is measured only by how much money they can glean from other peoples insecurities and then make a career of it, I put them in the category of “sharks.” Personally, I have always depended on instinct and took whatever consequences resulted by my actions. I have given up long ago on deciding my sanity, I am sure I am, not sane. The ghosts I have seen in my life have always frightened me into a silence of mind, I take those experiences as omens and then I listen to my heart as it beats out the tempo of my fears. The demons I live with every day are the darkest of dark, I keep them hidden for fear they will control me. When I gather up all the things that distract me in life, they become like a bag of nickels and dimes jingling in my head. I have lived with that uncertainty my whole life.

 

The women and girls who have graced my life are all of my warmest memories. I have made some wrong decisions along the way but I suffer no remorse for any of them. Early on some of the young girls I have been with were silly and fun, I enjoyed their energy and innocence. As I got older, not necessarily maturing, I have enjoyed the attentions of older women and wallowed in the bliss they had created. There have been a couple of needy women and as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t stay in that circumstance, they think they are the only ones who struggle with life, don’t they know everyone is needy in some way or other?  After two marriages and lots of intense exciting short term relationships I have come to the conclusion that I certainly have had my share. I was in love with every one of them and will always relish their sweet memories. Life can be good if you let it. 

 

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I had decided to expand my horizons last week, I met with a woman who specializes in domination. Why, I’m not sure, I figured why not, I wanted to experience all the things in my prurient thoughts before I die.

It was a nice interlude, full of sexually charged activities where I found some piece of mind. I won’t go into the gory details but it definitely kept the demons at bay. I suggest you try it sometime, it brings personal reality into sharp focus. 

 

There are other things I want to try before leaving, nothing like bungee jumping or sky diving, just cerebral things, I can’t name them now but I know they will make themselves known when appropriate. Most of what I think about these days revolves around my wanting to shed the bonds of reality and the constraints of so called normalcy.

For me, it’s time to step into the dark side of my mind and shun the other parts of my life, crazy, maybe, maybe not, it’s what old men think about when they are close to leaving.

 

Ben, I have to pause here for awhile, I’m feeling a little tired, I need to rest. Lately, my health has been fluctuating up and down and I find I need more rest these days than I ever needed in the past, I guess that’s an old age thing. I’ll get back to this letter later.

 

During the composition of his letter, the old man couldn’t help smiling a warm smile to himself as his memories came to the surface. Needing to stop writing he felt a strong drink would be just the ticket at that point of his story. As he sipped his drink he wondered if the letter would be boring for his friend to read. Thinking about it for a moment he decided he wouldn’t mail it anyway. After all the whole purpose of the exercise was to self examine his life since he became ancient. Reinforced by the warm caress of a good smooth whiskey, he took a short nap. Later, he decided to continue writing. 

 

Do you remember the time when you and I were running around Virginia Beach and  that blonde took her shirt off on the boardwalk? I gotta tell you buddy, that was, thanks to you, an incredible day. I didn’t know you had such a silver tongue. The blonde, I think I remember her name was Josie, along with her girlfriend Dottie, wanted to party, we were available. I don’t think I ever had such an intense couple of days since.

Alright, I know, so they stole some of our money but personally, I thought it was well worth it. You have to admit, we both had a good time, isn’t that what we were looking for, remember? Also, you must remember Key West and don’t forget Philadelphia when we used to hitch all over the place and take only rides from girls, those times are well up on my list of fond memories. Dammit, those were good times. Ben, I don’t know how your life has been but at the moment mine is only living in the past. I am not happy being old and if I believed in reincarnation I would look forward to starting over. When there is more behind you than in front of you, what else can you think about? As I relate these things to you I see a blinding light that takes me to a place I wish could cure me of turmoil and of my exhaustions of thought.

On the subject of my demeanor, you know Ben, I really have no way to know how  people perceive me except from my lovers and my critics. On the subject of sex, I’m  always surprised at people’s discomfort when talking about it and how defensive they can get. Not being offended by innuendos, I laugh at some people’s naive ideas about that taboo subject and all that’s related to it. So, when I’m sober and interacting with other people I try to be friendly but at the same time maintain my free spirited look at things, especially about sex. 

 

When I’m drunk I am a problem and usually out of control. The party is going on in my head most of the time. Long ago I decided that the going up is worth the coming down. When I perceive other people as having life or relationship problems I find it difficult to relate, although I do have compassion for them. Keeping my life clear of responsibility I never have had very much baggage to contend with and that’s the way I wanted it. 

 

I got a call from an old girlfriend the other day, Susan, you remember her, she was with me the last time we were together in San Diego. Well, she was worried about what I’ve been doing with my life, silly girl, it had been years since we frolicked and I don’t understand why out of the blue, she would call. I was flattered by her concern but it’s far too late to renew anything we may have had in the past. She like everyone else just doesn’t understand me. It was nice to talk with her but I was glad to end our conversation assuring her I was fine. It makes me nervous, no, crazy, my mind shuns the obligations people who seem to care, create. I guess that’s the bane of my life? It’s like a straight razor hanging over my carotid artery. Women are so weird, don’t they ever forget? These are the things old men think about in the porridge of their minds, do you agree? Personally, I see women tied to a black tree against a white sky looking helpless, gasping for breath.

  

The other night I awoke from a deep sleep to see Gargoyles staring at me from the rafters, they were smiling. I was sure my heart stopped beating. I could smell death and wondered if that was the time for me to go. As you can see, it wasn’t, it was more torture for me, it was God’s dirty joke. My semblance of order is challenged if someone asks me who I am, at that I collapse, how can I explain insanity. When the pistol misfires it’s an omen that life isn’t done with you yet, the turmoil goes on to whatever depths it may yield. 

 

Now that I’m reminiscing, I can’t help but wonder why I was even put on this earth. It doesn’t seem I’ve contributed anything to the good of mankind. I guess the world needs people like me so regular people can compare their lives and rest assured they are contributing. My redemption is only that I haven’t hurt too many people I’ve  come in contact with over the years. I was never mean spirited for the most part but I have managed to alienate everyone around me at every turn, why I have a compulsion to do that, I have never been able to understand.

 

It’s like wanting to be embraced and at the same time fearing being touched, yearning to be home somewhere with trusted friends and family but not being willing to go to the party. I’ve always been alone and I hate it. If I were to wonder what life could have been like if I had a real family and could feel the warmth and fuzziness of love and companionship and be part of a unit, maybe my life would have been different but as it is, I do the best I can.

 

Fortunately, whenever I run out of aces I have always been able to land on my feet and go on. It has been to my experience that when I go for a ride into brain interruption, I have always had the compulsion to take everything to the limit, I drink to get drunk, I have done drugs to get as high as possible, and when I’m depressed, I want to be terribly depressed.

 

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The flavor of abandonment is what I have always wanted, how can anyone do otherwise? I think feeling  sensations to the fullest strengthens the body, experiencing them and coming out of those chasms a person is stronger and better able to deal with the things life can throw at them. People who soften radical emotions only put off the inevitable plunge into uncertainly and become weaker. OK, I will wind down now and spare you any more gory details. 

 

Anyway, my latest news is that I am planning to leave California and head to a snow state. Fortunately my few belongings will easily fit into my old Dodge four door, my cat can ride up front with me, you remember “Hacksaw” don’t you? I’m not too sure where to go yet but I am sure the direction is north. I can see it in my mind right now, a small cabin backed up by some mountains, on a hill with a rock fireplace and a view of a valley below with Aspens and Scrub Oaks scattered in all directions.

 

I think that move will satisfy some of my secret yearnings and bring me some peace. Everyone needs a goal and for the first time in my life I may have found one. I expect to be out of touch for awhile during my search but I will surely get back in touch when I’m settled in somewhere. I’m going to close this letter here 

 

 

Ben, I don’t want to bore you any more than I already have with more of my antics. I wish you all the good things in life. I hope you don’t mind my crying the blues to you, but, these days I don’t have anyone to talk to and sometimes I feel like I’m going to explode if I don’t express myself somehow, so, you’re stuck with it. I’ve never considered myself a victim or in need of anyone’s charity, just a spirit free of the thoughts and values of others which haven’t molded my abstract life to any degree of happiness. What I need most from my life is a happy ending.  

                                  

Your friend,  Fred...........

PS, I beg your pardon, Ben, please forgive me, I’m afraid I got hung up in my stuff and rudely forgot to inquire about how you and your family are getting along. Are your kids doing OK at school? I have faith they will do just fine. I know you had some medical problems and I hope this letter finds you back on your feet. Please give my best to your wife Andrea and the kids of course and know I will always cherish the fond memories we share. Be well my friend, I send you all my best regards. 

 

The antique man leaned back in his chair scratching his unshaven cheek wondering what to write about next. His life had unfolded in cycles, each seemed to be a new awakening. Plowing through poverty while attending school, he decided to enlist in the military at age sixteen after quitting the eleventh grade. The military changes everyone and he was no exception. Changing from an immature juvenile delinquent to an immature sailor, he relished his new found freedom. Growing up a lot during those years and upon his discharge another new life began for him.

 

Taking great interest in the Arts, he became a Bohemian freelance artist for a few years while working at an aircraft factory on the east coast, that was in the early sixties. Even being married and settled down with a good job, the west coast beckoned to him, so that’s what he did, he moved to California. Another life began, probably the most profound in that not only was it a new life but it was also a new and strange canvas in which to paint his life experiences. 

 

Living on the west coast was, for him, like a kid in a candy store and he took full advantage of the pleasures that presented themselves. Sometimes he wondered if that was wrong but enjoying the pleasures clouded all thoughts. For many years he indulged in things that were socially unacceptable without consequence. The wanderlust in his soul was somewhat satisfied by driving trucks commercially over most of the western states for a few years although that didn’t seem to satisfy the things he felt he had to experience.

 

A restless soul and a restless heart haunted him for most of his life. Loneliness haunted him also, he never could blend meaningful relationships together with his need for change. His intense pleasure indulgences were the sirens which overwhelmed him in his times of need. He remembered times of peril and times of depression but those were unimportant because he always knew things would be different soon.

 

There was a very intense time during the seventies and early eighties, those times made his eyes sparkle. It was his involvement in various areas of show business, music, acting, photography, etc. The whole aura of those activities was exciting, he was flattered to be involved. Even with all that excitement around him, he still didn’t seem to be satisfied and he drifted away from it. Construction, building houses, etc., settled him down from time to time but that wasn’t satisfying either, even though he was good at it, he soon became too old and rickety to perform that type of work anymore.

 

In his search to find a vehicle in which he could fully express himself, writing stories and journals became appealing to his creative side. He always said his main goal was to write something people would enjoy reading. That was a daunting task for someone who didn’t pay enough attention in English Lit. class. Uncomfortably plowing through the English language, he never gave up. Even with lots of harsh criticism and interactions with people who were hoping he’d fail, he kept going.

Putting his feet up on the kitchen table he sipped his whiskey remembering winters in Colorado and Idaho. Snow country was especially rewarding, he always said it was like living inside a Christmas card. He felt a purification under blankets of snow and especially the brisk chilly winds late at night when he would take walks as the rest of the world slept. Endlessly thinking about those warm feelings he swore to himself on more than one occasion to move to a place like that again.

 

It wasn’t written out of his final plans in life but becoming ancient limited the possibilities and he knew it. Growing up in New Jersey, the stinging frozen ears and the cold slushy feet never left his memories. He longed for snow flakes mingling in his hair and the silence created by snow covered streets, the crunching of ice beneath his feet. If there was a yearning in his heart, that must have been it. 

 

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As he fell off to sleep, his dreams were of the Elkand of the Lobos standing proudly late at night in the cold blue snow of the north country with their noses in the air calling for their mates. The antique man was at peace. He died on a cold Thursday morning in a cheap rented room somewhere in Idaho with a view of the Sawtooth Mountain range above his head, Hacksaw was warmly curled by his side, it was early February, two thousand eight.

 

Fortunately his landlady, a kindly old woman who lived next door, took Hacksaw in and loved him dearly. There was no funeral, there was no Chapel, there were no mourners, no one really knew him, he was a stranger to himself as well as everyone around him. It was snowing the day his remains were shipped in a plain plywood coffin to his sister on the east coast along with his meager belongings and a bundle of papers that described his life. On a wrinkled piece of paper was this final entry, written with a shaky hand, hidden in his breast pocket, it wasn’t dated.  

                                                          

Yet, the question remains, how can someone write about happy things when they themselves are unhappy? Every morning when I am sure my heart is beating I know I can look forward to another day of turmoil. Each day looks like the one before. The sun may come up and it may go down, I can't see it, my soul is cloudy. Like a dark endless tunnel I have searched for life. In the race to find sunshine I have fallen for the colors of temptation, gladly, and now the price of that folly is more than I can afford.    

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