A Neon Angel Fades – short, 1 March 2015

In most love stories, it’s all a chase, a flight, past is prologue; it’s all prequel; ion the cusp of poignant vulnerability and the foolish abandon of youth and frivolity, on the edge of your tongue, a word you can’t quite articulate – that is a love, something to forever be approximated with ever clearer visions of beauty and grace that, at its rarest perch, its clearest view, is a description of a sunset past, a closer approximation bordering on the love of memory, a memory, a face you can see without blinking. Something you can’t quite grasp; Elise was that, the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. Funny and smart, and I was seeing another girl at the time, a girl I thought I loved, whom I promised to marry. We’d been together for over a year and I cared for her. I cared about her family. I kissed her mother on the cheek before I left her house, after Sunday dinner. It’s a mask of sorts of course, of course. And sloppy, but it fit. I didn’t face my problems, I put on makeup and changed my face–so when I did see myself, I never saw what was really there.

                                                                    An electric halo, once cast
can but fade.
And darken with it our once brightest days.

Elise, she was from the bayou; she was from Louisiana. She had a Marilyn Monroe mole on the bottom of her cheek. Blonde hair, a goddess face. She was so fucking feminine and innocent. The more I talked to her, the more I wanted to be with her. The first time I met her, I drove to her house 2 the morning. We put a full tank of gas in my car. We rode around the country roads listening to the Beatles. Our song was Let it be. That was our song; Let it be. She was Christian and Mother Mary, let it be, let it be; I wasn’t Christian, but I understood the significance.

She was in Arizona when I met her. She was in Arizona and I was in South Carolina. I was still dating Sarah, the girl who loved my tales of horror. And I talked to Elise. I talked to her about things I couldn’t talk to Sarah about. She became almost an obsession. And when I met her–-she always had her head turned down like, slight grin, eyes kind of looking up, whenever she smiled she looked up, this bashful, perfect look. And I was still with Sarah. This sounds like, you know, any other romantic tale involving teenagers; it really doesn’t amount to shit in the bigger scheme of things. But it matters a lot to the people involved. It mattered a lot to me because I was put in the position of do I go for two in the bush or do I keep what I have in my hand?

Elise was two in the bush, which I wasn’t sure I could get. Sarah was a cock in the hand. She wore an engagement ring that I given her. I mean, I kissed her mother on the cheek. I brought her mother flowers. I watched wrestling and football with her father. Our families were close. Everything suggested we’d be together indefinitely. And Elise was the flaw in the plan. And I meet Elise after she came back to South Carolina. And she lived in Pomaria. And this is like a nexus point in my life, where in went in a rapidly different direction.

I went over to my father’s house. I called Sarah and told her that I was going to stay the night with my father because nobody was there with him. She said that was okay, we could do something the next day, and in reality, I purchased 500mg of morphine from a friend of my father, this is back in my early stages of addiction, and that’s another one note joke stereotype; Kid hooked on drugs. Kid hooked on drugs. I’m still popping pills now. Doesn’t make you who you are.

And I went… I was on the interstate going to Pomaria. I remember that I told her that I spoke some French. I had beside me, while I was stuck in traffic that there had been a wreck. And it delayed me for fucking hours that I couldn’t talk to her. I mean I had my phone … I could talk to her but there was a wreck and I was stuck in the interstate. I had this list of French sayings that I had written down to say to her. You know, I memorize all these French sayings. I love you, you are the blossom of my life, I would kiss your feet, I would write poems to your eyes, you know, your hair is like the finest silk–-poor similes that bad writers use. Dressed in French. I got to her house. And it was like we were friends, like you me and you are friends, like she was someone I could hang out with without being Mr. Upstart–-you know, I didn’t have to keep up any airs. She thought I was crazy and I think history will bear that out. And she loved that. And she liked my absurd stories, because that’s really, that’s really all I have; just a collection of loose stories associated with people.

We played pool in her basement, billiards, throwing darts. I just smiled, frozen with that great ! above my head like the characters from an old Playstation game. And I remember going to the bathroom; I crushed two of the three morphine pills up under a pill bottle on the bathroom counter, snorted each line with each nostril, and took the last pill orally. 300mg or so; I don’t remember. We go into her bedroom and she has little glow in the dark stars on her ceiling and we lay there together mapping out our own make-believe constellations, just laying there with each other. She rolls over and puts on a movie, stuffs in into the VCR and it sputters on.

And I think I went ten steps past too far and said, ‘Fuck it!’ and jumped off into a stupid oblivion with those blue pills, the pills  Dialudid; they’re really strong and I had never taken that much before. I did it… I thought that it would make me less nervous because I wanted to kiss her. I mean, it was like I was choking and the only way that I could breathe was to kiss her. And I lay there beside her, with her fingers running through my greasy hair. And I’m like, It’s greasy ain’t it? Real men have greasy hair. Real men stink! We stink! And she loved it.

She looked at me like I was an aberration of nature, some one of a kind design flaw that wasn’t noticed until the factory shut down. I didn’t speak like typical southerners did–I grew up in isolation, never learning to mimic the sounds of the indigenous around me. I could speak with eloquence. I wrote books and all that–that was the novelty of me as a character to her.

And we lay in bed–and I start blacking out, going in and out, lapses of concentration and what not; she freaks out. I black out for maybe 20 minutes and I wake up and she’s splashing water on my face, I tell her that I’ve been sick, and she’s crying, right above me, and one of her biggest tears drops fall into my eye and I cry too the tears of someone else.

       When I find myself in times of trouble,

My eyes were pinpricks, distorted, too large or too small I can’t remember, but it was noticeable. I had overdosed in her bathroom. My skin was clammy and I was shaking. I couldn’t control myself. I went back to the bathroom, I splash water on my face, you know, I try to get my shit together, slap myself, run water through my hair, rattled my head and gritted my teeth.

Mother Mary comes to me.

When I left the room I was hyper-sensitive, hyper-aware, I walk back into the room and there’s a blue glow cast across the bed from a streetlight just beside her driveway. There’s this blue glow that reminds me of a dream. It silhouetted the outline of her figure. I remember thinking of it as rolling hills. Smooth, curvaceous, and she looked up at me, and a little blue line across her face, with the television behind her, and her head it looked it was glowing with the static of the TV set glowed on her like a halo. I told her I had to leave.

Speaking words of wisdom,

She begged me to stay. She wanted to make love, or at least have me do something she wouldn’t regret, something not terrible, make lust to me if not some form or fashion love. I told her I couldn’t because it wouldn’t be right. She asked me why it wouldn’t be right. I couldn’t tell her that–that I was on drugs, that I wouldn’t remember it… that I wouldn’t, that it wouldn’t be natural. That it wouldn’t be right for our first time. That I wanted it to mean more than some junkie excursion into the windup dinosaur sex the broken junkies have. I couldn’t tell her why I wanted it to mean more–What could mean more than now? The time was right. She’s not the one who got away, but worse; the one I walked away from.

Let it be.

And she ended up thinking I rejected her. I had her, this beautiful light of my fucking life girl, so fucking pretty in that shade of neon blue; perfect. I had the perfect moment, everything I’d wished for when we first began to love each other, and there it was, right in my hands. She had a halo and glowed a brilliant blue. And I had this perfect moment. And I just looked at her and said I had to leave. I return to it over and over again in my fiction and my poems, usually best expressed as: The door to happiness she led the way / and ignorant I turned away. The truth path appeared, and there it lay / and again I turned away. I’ve written time and time again that I saw the perfect way, and every single time it crops up, I always turn the other way.

And in my hour of darkness,

And it all goes back to her. I had her. I loved her; I didn’t want anything more than her. She told me that she loved me that night, that she wanted to be with me, to be close to me, for us to be together, and all I said was, “That’s weird.” That’s weird, to my homemade angel–that’s what she was to me–and when I kissed her, it was like my first kiss all over again. I held her by both sides of her face and just pressed our lips together, nothing sloppy, but intimate and forceful, and we put our foreheads together both of us breathing heavy. I scratched her hair and made her laugh. And I told her I had to leave.

        She’s standing right in front of me,

She asked me, pleading, Why do you have to leave? Why do you have to leave? And I said it wouldn’t be right, it wouldn’t be right. And Sarah fond out; Elise had told one of her friends that I rejected her. Then I told Elise what happened, that I really cared about her, and I did what I did out of respect for her. That was the consummation of our love; just one long embrace the kind of moment that for a fleeting moment brings God into the life of an atheist sinner who only wanted to do what was right, and by doing so I left my Madonna on the shore–the Madonna was mine for free, and I walked out.

    Whispering words of wisdom,

Until then, my drug use had been more or less recreational. I loved Elise and in that bubble, what remains of that little candle that I carry, that I warm myself to when facing middle age and loneliness, but I keep that bubble, hidden away, that I might pop it with some sort of joy to see the thin film of a flimsy rainbow, and the bubble pop, yes bubbles pop, and the electric halo cast by that white noise round her plump face like a neon crazy angel, weird and beautiful for its rarity. I’m not a practical man, not in manners of love and lasting, but sometimes a clown can more proper catch the color of a drowning man. And that’s why I think I stayed on that shit for so long, each little pinch was my Madonna in blue. Every girl I’ve been with since, is me looking for Elise again, or someone to cast in that role. In the end, the drugs became Elise to me, and each sweet needle prick another kiss, some other bubble that I missed.

Let it be.