"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
slave Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English sclave, from Old French or Medieval Latin; Old French esclave, from Medieval Latin sclavus, from Sclavus Slavic; from the frequent enslavement of Slavs in central Europe
1 : a person held in servitude as the chattel of another
2 : one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence
3 : what so many of us are to one thing or another
I woke early in the afternoon after the incident with Beth, the sun beating through my windows and the sound of kids playing in the ocean were making it hard to sleep. I lay there for a while, thinking of the night before, letting my anger wash over me like icy cold surf while I stayed motionless, eyes staring, calmly feeling the frigid place inside me.
I wanted to go surfing, but the water by now was useless chop and would only be frustrating. I decided to head downtown.
In my car, top down, I was on top of the world. Again, I was a predator, steely eyed and comfortable in the role. All I needed was a good target, and I knew it wouldn't take long.
As far as Beth went, sure I wanted revenge. But I also knew the time wasn't right for it. No, patience was the key here. Eventually, time would drop it into my lap. I would wait.
I don't remember her name but I remember she was a real knockout. As a matter of fact she had been a runner up for a Playboy centerfold. I saw her in the bar that night and made sure that I went home with her.
Turns out that, I suspect, she was married. Her husband, needless to say, wasn't at the beach with her. I should have politely bowed out, married was out of bounds for me. But no, I had this cruel hunger inside of me now, and I was driven.
Did I physically take advantage? No. I did worse. I threw everything I had at her emotionally. I wanted her to fall in love with me. I wanted her to need me, to want me, to be torn because of it, to love so hard and suddenly hurt.
It took about two hours. Then she began saying things like "Oh no, what am I going to do? I'm not supposed to feel like this."
The next day, she went home, wherever that was, and I never saw her again, nor did I care to. And I repeated this sequence over and over and over, night after night, only the faces and names were different.
I think this is about the time I met Frankie. She turned up one day at the campground where I lived, and I found out that she was a runaway who had no place to stay. She was cute, and I offered her the chance to stay with me. Out of altruism, believe it or not. She was only maybe 16 or 17; not that age mattered to me at all back then, since I wasn't a great deal older than that.
She was so helpless, and in some way innocently naive, I couldn't even make my predator self take advantage of her. So, each night when I returned home, she would be there waiting on the porch. The next morning, she would leave. On weekends, when my parents visited, she would have to go elsewhere.
But over the course of a few days, I realised she was a bit of a, well, slob. I told her that she probably needed to find somewhere else to stay.
That night, in a fit of rage at something or other, I took all her clothes she had left at my place and dumped them on the porch. The next morning they were gone.
The next night I stopped on my way home at a place called the Little House on the Boulevard, an open air short order grill that stayed open 24/7. Usually I would know a lot of people in there. Tonight, I was introduced to "Jojo."
Jojo said he was Leon Russell's younger brother. For those of you unfamiliar with Leon, he was one of the first southern rock performers, and hung with the likes of George Harrison.
"I need some help, man," Jojo said. "I spent all my money buying food for these people, because they were hungry, and now we're out of money and my old lady and me got no place to stay." I looked, the table was full of the remains of several pizzas, surrounded by some very satiated looking bums.
Against my better judgment, I eventually offered to put him up for the night.
"Cool! Oh, we gotta stop and get my stuff on the way, its just around the corner, is that OK?"
"I'm sure that'll be fine."
So Jojo, his girlfriend, and for some reason a girl named Gypsy (who had been flirting with me for weeks) got up and headed for my car. We squeezed in (it was a two seater) and went to get his "stuff."
"OK, turn here...a little further...turn into there..." his girlfriend fed directions step by step.
"This is a parking lot."
"Yeah. Keep going...another row...here, this is it, turn left...ok, little further...there it is, stop the car!"
As soon as I did the three of them lept out and almost attacked the convertible that was parked there. Out of the back they grabbed a cheap dime store guitar and some other stuff, while one of them went through the glove compartment.
They all jumped back into my car. "GO!"
"Why? It's your stuff, right?"
"Yeah, well, I don't want to see the guy that owns the car right now. Oh, by the way, you like Diana Ross?" He tossed an 8-track into my lap. "I don't want it anymore."
Red flag, but I figured I wasn't much of a target anyway. I drove to my trailer.
And I was thinking, there's two girls and two guys. But something just feels wrong about that Gypsy girl.
We arrived at my trailer, and I opened the door...and the door to the bedroom was closed. I never did that. I cracked it open, and there in the bed was Frankie. "Hang on a sec," I told Jojo and the rest. "My own old lady's here."
Of course, she wasn't my "old lady" but that's the impression I wanted to leave. I snuck into the bedroom and awakened her, whispered to her how I wanted it to play out. Under no circumstances did I want that Gypsy girl in here.
Frankie gamely played along, and we ended up with Jojo, his girlfriend, and a very dissappointed looking Gypsy sleeping on the fold out couch.
I was getting frustrated. "Jojo, call your brother and get him to send you some money." It was almost lunchtime the next day, and frankly I was getting fed up.
"Well, its not that easy..." He hemmed and hawed until it was obvious to the doorknob that he had been lying all along. I figured I would let this play out and see where it led.
We headed to the campground arcade complex to get some breakfast. Jojo, in his incredible fashion sense, had managed to keep only one T-shirt to his name. And on the front it said "f*ck you." I've edited that...he didn't.
"That's not going to work."
"I'll turn it inside out."
Within minutes of walking into the arcade, I see a security guard speaking to Jojo. I walk up, and it appears there's a problem with his shirt.
"Sir, this is a family campground, and we can't allow you to wear this shirt in a public area."
"I've turned the f*cking thing inside out!"
"I can still read it. You are going to have to take it off."
Jojo got an odd grin on his face. "OK."
He took it off.
Exposing the huge black tattoo on his chest that said "F*ck Off." Again, my edit only, his was unedited.
The last I ever saw of him, his girlfriend, and Gypsy was their backs as the guard escorted them down the beach off the property.
The world that Frankie had run away from wasn't one filled with abuse or anything, at least not from anything she told me. No, instead it was a world filled with constrants and limits, which her young spirit yearned to break free from and her immature mind chose a bad method of doing it.
Her family had raised her in the Bob Jones culture in Greenville, SC. Bob Jones is a leading Bible University, complete with elementary, junior high, and high school sections, where a particularly ultra conservative flavor of Christianity is not only taught but demanded.
For example, intra-racial dating was forbidden until very recently, punished by expulsion. And don't ask about drinking.
So Frankie had flown the coop and ended up in my trailer. I figured that her family was going crazy trying to find her, and talked to her at great length about going back home. Finally, she began seeing the sense of it. She made the call, and when they found out where she was, they immediately headed towards the beach, a seven hour drive.
During those seven hours she was a nervous wreck. I managed to keep her from bolting again, and right on time a car pulled up.
There were three people inside. Her father, her mother...and her boyfriend, whom she had never once mentioned.
Her parents took her aside to speak with her in private. I ended up speaking with the boyfriend.
"So, she has been staying here?"
"Most nights, yes."
He was silent for a minute, uncomfortable.
"Yes." That seemed kind of self evident, and I could tell that wasn't the real question. Again, silence.
"Did you...I mean, with her, did she...?" he blurted. His Bob Jones trained mouth just couldn't form the words, but his tortured eyes told the tale.
"No, you have my promise nothing happened between us." Which was true, as far as the statement went.
He looked as though a tremendous weight had been lifted.
I remember Frankie getting into the back seat of that car, one of those old battlewagon huge sedan things with faded paint, to travel back to the life she hated. She looked at me through the back window as they drove off with such longing, such regret, such hopelessness.
I guess that's what a slave looks like.
Good, I thought. Next week, I'm supposed to go into the studio. Enough distractions. I walked to the deck and closed the door to my trailer, making sure the bedroom door was open. Putting on my Captain's hat, I got into my little sports car, donned my stage persona, and headed for work.
The most onerous slavery is to be a slave to oneself.