Monday, June 2, 2008

Crying Doesn't Pay

Clever title, don't you think? You have to say it aloud to get the full impact. I'm kind of proud of it.

Right now things appear to be in a holding pattern. I sent my novel off to my agent and I think I may have a touch of post-partum depression. It took me five years longer than expected to finish it--I had thought it would be done in three--and it's possibly the best writing I've done. But that doesn't mean it will find a home and get published. My characters--my friends--are off on their own. Their story is written.

I'm fumbling around in my house. I'm lonely, and curious as to what will happen next. There's a sense of unfinished business coupled with the urgency of an impending something and I don't know what to make of it. Oh well. Figuring things out is not my job.

Here's installment 24 of Wasted Miracles.

Orin went, “Hmmm.” He reached into a bag strapped to the side of his wheelchair, withdrew a battered pipe, a pouch of Carter Hall tobacco. He filled the pipe with deliberation, tamped the tobacco down with a dirty index finger, lit it with a kitchen match, spewed out a great cloud of gray smoke.
“The reason I’m asking all this, Colin, is that you’ve gotten kinda weird, lately. Out of sorts. You thinkin’ about goin’ out? Maybe a few Percodans? Your cross addiction workin’ on you?”
Colin said, “No.”
“You’re mumblin’, boy.”
Colin said, “No,” again, this time louder.
Orin nodded. “Well. I’m glad to hear that.” He paused. puffed on his pipe. “So what’s eatin’ at you.”
It took a moment for Colin to answer. “Boredom, I think.”
Orin laughed, puffed. “Like, you don’t lead an interesting life? Like that?”
Colin stood, paced the porch. “I don’t know. Sometimes it seems like a closed circle, you know? Meetings. People at meetings. It’s always the same stuff, ‘I want to do this, I want to do that.’ Drunks are amazingly boring, Orin. A lot of them don’t seem to have much of a life outside AA. I get tired of hearing about their hassles, about their relationships, about them wanting to drink or smoke or snort. I even get tired of hearing how happy they are that they’re not drunks anymore. I don’t care if their lives have gotten better. It never changes. Different faces, same crappy stories.” He paused, rubbed his face with his hands. “And then suddenly you realize it’s a different generation at meetings. Whole bunch of kids, and it starts all over again. It gets tiring...”
Orin seemed to think that over but not too strenuously. “You’re obviously not going to the same meetings I’m going to. Or not talking to the same people. Most of the ones I see, they’ve got some hope back, think they’re better off now. Mind you, that shit is just as boring as the tales of woe and tragedy, but at least they’ve got kind of a happy ending. Why’re you hearing only the crappy stuff, Colin? Last time you felt like this, you ended up getting into some really deep shit. Remember?”
Colin did.
“Correct me if I’m wrong,” Orin continued. “I seem to remember we had this little talk, oh, about six, seven months ago, and I told you to start going to more meetings and doing service work. Answer phones, drive people around, make coffee, whatever. And instead, you got involved with Stan and DD. And the only reason you’ve still got both your balls was that DD didn’t know it was a starter pistol. ‘Cause if she’d had the real thing, we’d be calling you Lefty.”
Colin held up a hand. “It wasn’t like that, Stan asked...”
“Oh bullshit.” Orin looked disgusted, sucked hard on his pipe, stuck out his tongue, expelled a small piece of tobacco.
“You didn’t have any business bein’ involved in any of that mess. Everyone knows DD’s a slut, including Stan. And Stan! Fifty-two year old man thinking he found the fountain of youth, screwing a nineteen year old bimbo who’s not even sober a month...”
Colin sat down again. In the kitchen, he could hear Marsha humming a tune, something from the 60s by Judy Collins. He said, “They were married three weeks, she files for divorce, tries to take his house and car away from him. That’s fair?”
Orin gave Colin a pig-eyed stare. “Fair ain’t got squat to do with this, Colin. You ain’t a divorce investigator! Sneaking around in the middle of the night trying to catch that little slut with Billy O. She should have shot you in the balls, gotten what you deserved. Lucky thing Billy O’s a fool and he bought that pistol thinking it was the real thing. Cause if DD had... Oh, never mind.”
The screen door opened and Marsha came out bearing a plate of sandwiches on a tray and a bottle of Shasta ginger ale.
She smiled at Colin. “You getting Orin all excited about something?”
She was a tall, sparse woman whose sharp features belied her kindness. Colin had rarely seen her without a smile, but when she didn’t have one he was reminded of an American Gothic farmwife. “Don’t get his blood pressure up, now. He’s mean enough as is.”
“We were talking about Stan and DD,” Orin said.
Marsha’s face narrowed in distaste. “Oh. Them.” She set the plate of sandwiches down, looked at Colin, “They deserved each other, those two. DD, I wouldn’t credit her with much sense. But Stan? I thought he was smarter than that.” Her lip curled. “Men.”

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