Thursday, October 20, 2011

18 Year Old

May 1965

    Light began to shatter the homeostasis of a placated existence through the tired mud spattered windows; breaking into countless little prisms across the floor and the bed, shattering into the eyes of Gabriel's exhausted sleep.  The nite was still lodged within the haze where dreams merge indistinguishable from the reality of waking hours.  The sun was beginning to burn the chill of early morning. Gabriel started with a sputter and a jerk.  He threw his legs upon the floor lying cross wise on the bed.  The room was spinning from all the seething intensity with which he lived each day.  As he pulled himself up he struggled to his desk across the floor.  On the top laid a Prince Albert can opened and dried green spilled from its mouth.  He tore a paper lose and began to roll one cigarette from the finely shredded dope.
    After completing the first cigarette, he moved into the kitchen for his breakfast which consisted of three beers, a peanut butter sandwich and several cups of cold bitter coffee made the nite before.  The time was now beginning to catch up to him and he could not afford to be late for work.  He rolled a half dozen more reefers, placing the cigarettes in a baggy and putting this in his coat pocket.  He felt tired and the blood within his veins seemed to chill into clouts.  Gabriel pulled open the top drawer of the desk.  He pulled out a small medicine bottle containing Dexedrine time capsules.  Opening the bottle two small green gelatin capsules rolled into his hands and into his coat.
    Outside the sun stung his eyes with the reality of continuing existence.  The searing passion in which he aimlessly and effortlessly flowed was beyond any minor distinction such as pain or pleasure.  Intensity was the only emotion left in his 25th year.  The smoke from his menthol self rolled tobacco flowed into his lunges smarting his eyes and nostrils.
    It was 7:00 am , he unlocked his janitorial closet, and began to dust the main halls before the high school kids began to file in.
    This day like all the rest in his life past with little more than an incovenance at being, just being, a notice that life flowed in his veins.
    Dust patterns swelled and disappeared leaving the dull scoffed gloss of an agged linoleum which was waxed, buffed and trampled under foot.  Each new generation of high schoolers walked in forgotten paths.  Yet, the morning sun dances with the same untold patterns that were constantly repeating themselves for more than half a century.  The halls resounded with the silent secrets that seemed as yet another perpetual copy from one generation to the next, while world history was constantly changing the kids in this railroad town were locked in a sill frame.  Go to school, graduate, go to work for the railroad.  Some would go to college.  The attraction of a steady income and girls to impress with a railroad wage was far too attractive, most boys would never finish their Sophomore year would go to work for the railroad, get draft, go to the army and come home to a job on the railroad.  Dreams of being a writer and a radical would soon fade in the sweat and railroad grease of silent eternity.  Maybe this new war would end all that and more youths would opt for a college 2-S deferment.
    No one was in yet Gabriel pulled the number from his pocket and smoked it down to face the day, for knew too many young boys would graduate and go to the army then he would be a railroader. Gabriel was lucky enough to keep his job at the high school and escaped the Union Pacific living wind swept plains of endless sameness.  Nothing remain of his consciousness but the dust pattern caught in the eternal movements in the air trapped by the sunlight melting the morning windows.
    By now it was a quarter to eight time to unlock the doors at let the first victims disappeared into detention of this publicly-financed loony wrought-up enterprise.  I was one of the first to enter like so many days before. Gabriel saw me enter he called to me and said he wanted to talk to me.  I followed him out of the building and across the street to the auditorium.  We climbed the six flights of steps to the little room at top that over looked the stage.  He pulled the baggy from his coat pocket took out a reefer lit it then inhaled deeply.  My heart vaulted through my breast.  This man I hardly knew was about to make me a criminal, as I never seem this stuff before.  I wanted to invent a thousand gods to thank them each personally as I was about to become a felonious near do well, it doesn’t get any better than this.  I took the reefer from him and tried to do as he had done before me.  My nose blistered, my chest revolted and cough out the smoke. Gabriel said I smoked like and amentia.  Because I had no idea what he meant I only felt proud.
    Gabriel asked me what thought of this new war, as I was the head of the campus Young Democrats and Mr. Johnson was my man then.  I told I was against the damn thing.

Why he asked, the French couldn’t do anything so it is now our turn?

No: Charlie can’t keep pushing brown people around, I said.

 With that Gabriel got mad real mad, “The Man been pushing my butt my whole life and your still a Democrat.  I guess it ain’t who you know, but who you blow.

Then Gabriel asked me what I was going to about it. 

Join the army I guess. 

I thought you were against it.

I am but once you go to war you keep your opinions to yourself.

Spoken like a true milksop Democrat,  your party right or wrong.

No I have had problem with party ever since last summer when Mr. Johnson wouldn’t seat the Freedom Democrats from Mississippi.

Why go in the army?

I’m a patriot.

Dullard; why not go to college, I know from the chatter your grades are wretched, put they let everyone in this dame college.  Why don’t you cut that flag-waving bullshit and learn to think for yourself.

It ain’t like that.

The hell you say, you’ll go in the army and come back get a job at the railroad and become a coon hater like your old man, and every other gun toting jingoistic minuteman in America.

With that we ended our little talk.  But, I knew I was never going into the army for any possible reason.  That was the day an anarchist and latter that summer I would become a communist.

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