The Beach 5

Heading north on I-75 toward Macon.  The steep, rugged hills and the preponderance of heavy forest with its riot of green makes you think you’re in the north woods and the red clay soil makes the ground look like it’s bleeding.  My destination is not Macon; too many mean rednecks and rusty memories of the Allmans.there.  Not Atlanta either.  Just a satellite little city I’ll call X City.  It’s like Atlanta used to be.

Off the interstate at the Destiny Road exit.  But why name it that?  Maybe somebody had a dog named Destiny.  Or a wife with a face like a dog.  Down Avon Street to Lee street.  There are a lot of people here for this day and age.  Lee Street goes downtown where things always get interesting but not always pleasant.  I park the car in a secure lot, leaving my luggage in the car.  Then I start walking.

This neighborhood used to be a WASP El Dorado where the rich and privileged lived.  But I am appalled at how the place has deteriorated and become a  high crime and street drug and infected needles place that isnt safe to walk around in even in daylight.  Homeless people and pimps and pushers and I should go back to the garage and drive someplace else.  But I cant quite make myself do it.

I stop and wait for a bus.  There are street people here and a girl who is not so skuzzy that  belongs somewhere else.  I wonder if her parents kicked her out or her boyfriend kicked her out and she doesnt know how to live on the street.  I decide to talk to her.

Hi, I say.

Hi yourself, she says.  What do you want?

The pleasure of your company.

I’m not a prostitute, she says.

I didnt think so.  Where you from?

I used to live with my folks in Marietta but that place is…Shaking her head.

It isnt safe here, I say.

Yeah, I noticed.

Look, i’m lonely and just want some company, that’s all.  I’ll pay you to spend the afternoon with me.  That’s all.  We can do whatever you want.  Do you have a place to live or…

I have a hole in the wall apartment but it’s home to me.  Just me.  What did you say your name was?

I didnt, I say.

After a pause she says, Okay.  I’m Tonya.

Pleased to meet you.

How old RU anyway? She says.

Old enough to be your grandfather.  Does that bother you?

You’re not serious, she says.  You’re in your thirties or early forties and I have no problem with that.

I’m sixty-eight years old, I say.  Word.

Show me an ID, she says.

I hand her my driver’s license and she looks at it, then at me and at the license again before she hands it back to me.

It must be you have great genes, she says.

I must have something.  Will you spend the afternoon with me?  Your bus is coming.

To hell with the bus, she says, yawning and stretching.  I dont feel like going anywhere. Can we just go to my place?

Sounds good to me, I say.

 

 

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The Beach 4

When I reach a point where I can safely move away from the sea and the dunes I slow down until i am walking and catch my breath.  I dont know how safe I am or whether that little incident will ever amount to anything.  But it’s too much at one time.  This place isnt safe anymore.  I need to get away for a while, maybe quite a while.  My breathing slows to normal as i reach a stone bridge that spans a little pewter colored  inlet.  I hear they’re really muddy on the bottom so it’s not a place to scuba dive.  I see gulls for the first time in months.  I was beginning to think they’d gone extinct too.

A sour wind stirs in the palm fronds and scrub pines and I recognize the smell of garbage.  Someone dumped a full garbage bag in the street and the sea birds are fighting over it.  It makes me uneasy because it’s not something I’ve seen for a while.  I get the impression that as deserted as this town seems there are all kinds of people in hiding.  It’s scary.  I do my share of hiding and being low profile but maybe not enough.  I guess with fewer people there are plenty of ways to hide.

When I get home it doesnt seem like it’s been disturbed.  I always put the car inside the garage because if I didnt it might end up on blocks when I got back to it.  The touch pad is a pain in this ass and my password is uninspired but it serves well enough.  I type my kung fu is good and hit enter and the sliding door opens and yawns politely.  I go inside and close and lock the door and go into the house thru the kitchen.

Everything looks okay but I’m too skittish to risk staying.  I wonder whether to eat something but am afraid to stick around.  I have a go bag in the closet and I take it and an already packed suitcase and a frame backpack and schlep them into the car.  Then I open the garage door and lock it from the outside and drive off.  I have to force myself to slow down so I dont attract attention until I am out of town.  I’m heading north but not to Savannah.  Farther north than that.

It occurs to me that I didnt even say goodbye to the house.  I know it’s eccentric to say goodbye to an inanimate object but I am nothing if not eccentric.  It happens when you live alone for as long as I have.  But that’s a bad thought that opens up a blast furnace door over a seething, writhing pit of memories that I am just able to close before I start crying.

The coastal plain of Georgia is flat as a pancake and depressing looking.  I head inland and as I am driving thru Swainsboro I see a hill.  A gorgeous little hill made all the more beautiful by the fact that i have not seen one in years.  There will be lots of them where I’m headed but they will be nothing like this one.  A cop behind me turns on his flashers and noise and I panic and slam on the brakes and pull over but it’s not me he’s after.  Looks like he’s pulled an old lady over for driving too slow but as i pass them i see he’s stopped an old man for Driving While Black.

And I am glad to see the city limits of this foul little town, hill or no hill.

Ode to the Beast

Here’s the Scrotum of the opera
Disguised as Jean Valjean
The boxcar he came outta
Spews X Rays on the lawn

The power of Christ compels him
To keep an eye on the Holy Land
In case things there go sour
Things you’d never understand

He says there’s no future
Just a soiled and ruptured past
The present is unsure
And we aren’t meant to last

That drowsy beast is slouching
But the Scrotum’s in the gym
So the beast turns left at Chunking
Away from Bethlehem

Author’s note: For the inspiration for the last verse I am indebted to WB Yeats’ 1919 poem “The Second Coming.”

The Lizard

I’m talking to a lizard

Who dont know what she is

She thinks that she’s a wizard

Because of her relatives

The Earth is flat she says to me

And it’s gonna end next week

You’ll be struck dead over by that tree

There goes your lucky streak

Her friends come walking over

Here’s the Hunchback of Notre Dame

Einstein runs for cover

They all think he’s to blame

Now they’re busy hanging Darwin

Cain and Abel pull the rope

It’s Ezra Pound’s last bargain

T. S. Eliot’s smoking dope

They take away my codeine

And tell me i’m gonna hang

For being an old dope fiend

Before the church bells rang

I just did get away in time

With the help of Stagger Lee

Got my ticket and i’m line

The Titanic sails at three

The Zombies of Austin

In Austin there are zombies

That roam the fields at night

They eat up big salamis

And shoot up out of sight

 

In the park they got needles

Somebody’s used before

With microscopic evils

You dont see anymore

 

The whores down from Columbus

Service the walking dead

A zombie’s an encumbrance

But the hookers give them head

 

In the moonlight there is thunder

Megatons from space

Administrative blunder

A nuclear embrace

 

Mushrooms bloom in Austin

Detonation was at five

The zombies are lost when

The narks are burned alive

 

In Austin there is fallout

Radiation boils the ground

And the nuclear police are out

But no zombies are around