Screaming in the desert


The brain is besieged with memories. They never stop. Day and night, even in sleep where they are called dreams. Good and bad. The good glorify, the bad bedevil. You can’t concentrate to read a book. When you watch movies on TV you turn the sound down and just let the scenes roll by. It’s just company to have someone else in the room. Actors never die. Marilyn Monroe will never die. She can be summoned into the room at anytime. Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter, Eli Wallach, the entire cast of ‘The Misfits.’ In the room with you, riding buckin’ horses and getting drunk and roping mustangs and Marilyn screaming in the desert and Gable practically having a heart attack ropin’ horses and two days after shooting ended actually having a heart attack, but he didn’t die and Marilyn wasn’t murdered and the others and so on and so forth, they are all listed as dead but they are alive and they are in your living room keeping you company, not that you’re really listening to them and only half watching them because your brain is under siege. The memories of S. never stop, the great and the grisly. Not that you want them to stop, you just want them to calm down. Alcohol and weed and pills cannot slow them and when you finally sleep the memories become frenzied dreams. The life you lived together is an endless movie of flashbacks and shock cuts, reality contorted into horror scenes that never happened or maybe they happened in a subconscious other-world, an undiscovered state of wave-being. Someone tells you to see a psychiatrist but why would you do that? Let a shrink mess with your head and put you on a bunch of brain buckers that turn you into a zombie? Hell no! You want to be relatively conscious, drunk and stoned maybe, but at least aware if and when this endless movie ever ends.

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Flying lightly through life

In lieu of family, all of whom having been killed off by that most sadistic of life writers, Almighty Whatever, and in lieu of friends, who have been written out of the script by that fickle collaborator, River of Time, I have found new family and friends in the neighborhood birds.

For any Brits reading this I do not refer to young women of the comely variety, but to the actual offspring of Mother Nature, bona fide birds, the real McCoy.

In the backyard, outside the kitchen window, I have created a holy place for birds by placing seven small stones in a circle — seven representing completeness, wholeness, perfection — about three feet in diameter, in the center of which I scatter bird seed of a most beneficial variety.

The birds come flying in, if not from Chicago and L.A., then certainly from the branches of the many tall trees that surround my lowly bungalow.

I look out the window as I make my morning coffee and watch their comings and goings. Birds of many kinds and wonderful colors, with individual personalities. Blue jays are bullies, morning doves affable, grackles cheeky. They all travel light, no baggage, my kind of flyers.

In all my trips flying to Australia over the years, crossing that dark ocean two dozen times, usually going for a month or longer, I never took anything more than a carry-on.

I traveled light, like the birds that fly into my backyard these many years later, me an old man now, not the cavalier fellow flying Down Under, putting the make on pretty women sitting near me in the 747, sweet romance under a Qantas blanket at 30,000 feet, all behind me now as I hear the kettle boiling and make my coffee and watch the birds in a solitary place of completeness.

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