Lost Resort

Middle Ground

It occurs to me that there persists a fatal gulf in my reasoning. A distance I feel in the depths of my heart. A falling out. Of sorts. I use the word fatal because I have of late become terribly aware of its destructive potential. This thing I carry inside. This barrier between what I believe to be true and what I choose as truth. I'm bending beneath the weight of subtle persuasion. Explosions are firing on the periphery of my perception. Hopeless victories are waiving their flags on the torn battlefields of my fevered consciousness. I am sleeping through the mounting minutes. I am trembling at the thought of negotiated silence.

I had a dream on this happened-upon night. Though I am reluctant to call it my own. It was a dream of someone I do not know. A doctor. He dreams he has discovered a cure for cancer. He holds it in his hand. A concoction that will ease the pain of millions. He wakes up in the furious quiet hours of absence. His wife stirs and he fears his motions may serve to disturb her slumber. So he lies still and tries to remember the details of his dream. But all he can piece together is a seemingly meaningless shopping list. Perhaps a re-creation of the contents of his well stocked pantry. Vegetables, fruits, spices, herbal extracts, soy products, juices. He writes it off. And settles back to sleep. Unaware that his subconscious, fueled by a combination of extensive research in the field and an extramarital association with a nutritionist -- who dropped by his office a few weeks prior to supply a handful of informative leaflets -- was telling him the ingredients of a magic potion that could indeed stave off, and in some cases even reverse the corruption of healthy cells. A discovery of phenomenal historic magnitude that melts away with the early morning hours.

I woke before I grasped any hint of realization from the doctor. Whether or not he understood the implications of his choice to roll over and ignore the special-delivered message. Sitting bolt upright in a haze of severed sleep and polished whiskey. Filled with a sense of muted clarity...something to do with the fertile nature of human ignorance...the seeds of destruction which grow so strong with its meticulous tending. Letting out a sound to remind myself of my own indiscretions. Reaching for my half empty pack of cigarettes (feeling no immediate inclination towards optimism). I lit up and took stock of my unfamiliar surroundings. Experiencing the wave of inevitable panic that always strikes when sleeping in an unfamiliar bed. I gathered myself and remembered where I was.

I can hear the sea. Such an amazing thing. The way it moves so thoughtlessly of its own volition. The sound of the ocean. Or a thunderstorm. The whistle from a slow-moving locomotive carried across a desolate valley. Wind through the leaves. Why have I become so removed? Where was I when this all began? What have I been taking for granted all this time? Am I talking to myself. No, not yet. These are just thoughts. Early morning thoughts. 3am thoughts. Nothing to get all worked up over.

Rolling with the waves. A bedside seasick memorial. Light the candles and watch their flaming shadows. Licking up the sides of neglected flowers. Dreams escaping through the cracks in the walls. Filtering through the maelstrom. The wonders of mankind going up in smoke. A hand reaching out in the darkness, searching for a sense of comfort. A warmth that left town when nobody was looking. Tokens of unending love thrown into the depths of a brick lined well. A shared promise departing in a glorious moment of thoughtless absolution. Gone but never forgotten. For what it's worth.

What is anything worth? These days. I'm afraid to look in the mirror. I have no interest in what information it has to offer. I see myself in the dark. Features displaying their scars with scarce thought to roll-called displacement. Still, it stands there across the room. Waiting for me to cross its path. Filled with an over-inflated belief of value. I've lived enough years to know what I look like. At this hour. And I'm in no mood for interpreted reflection. There's already more than enough negative energy flowing through these broken times. My internal bleeding takes many forms. Better left to funhouse representations. Or the padded silence of a state institution. But those days are behind me. Existing at some point over my shoulder -- the one you won't catch me looking over.

Who said that? Have I been followed? Or am I just following myself. Six of one... Heel, toe. Half dozen of the other.

Shaking myself back to sleep. A few more hours of rest. If only it were that simple.

I remember why I woke. In the first place. All great mysteries boil down to a single click. A simple sound that shatters all stillness. I can still hear the echo of knuckles against the door. A knocking in the night. A wakeup call in the foggy ruin of my sequestered hallowed ground. A deafening single-minded tap. Nothing more. Lights hung with exposed nails. Electronic hues ministering to my fumbled cognition.

Must have been that Night Porter. A strange fellow. From what I gather. And I do possess a certain expertise in these matters. There to remind me of things I can never forget. Paying me a routine visit. Making his misdirected rounds. Doing his part to keep all us homesick guests in line. Crossing off one more name in his vest-bound book. Here and there. Gone before you can ever hope to confront his dutiful inflection. Leaving you to lie in the aftermath of his wake. Knowing full well just how much you're paying for the honor.

Can't even get a slice this late.

Coming up empty one more time. Nothing new. Not even in the ballpark. But they've torn them all down. All the great monuments to our human yearnings. Brick by brick. Erecting palaces in their bloated image. With names that stick in the back of hard working throats. Nobody is ever ashamed anymore. When they never had more reason to be. So...

Where was I? Smoking the last segments of my cigarette. Don't ever let them tell you these things are bad for you. Unless they're willing to roll out the big list. Roll your own. If that is your fancy. Or snap the cellophane. I don't care. We're all on a one way ride down a rickety roller-coaster. Might as well enjoy the trip. Eh?

Okay...

All bets are off. I'm talking to myself. I should know. I'm a long-time subscriber to this particular wavelength...

And the room turns upside down. And right side up. Again. Crawling to dizzying heights. Plummeting into the mouth of a bottomless pit.

And there he is. Sitting in bed. Across the room. Looking straight into my eyes. Framed in glassy euphoria. Mocking my movements with perfect precision. His cigarette burnt to the filter, held in place by an inhuman smile...plastered to his face, which I presently find terribly unsettling.

~ ~ ~


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