You ever see something that wasn’t really there? I’m not talking about the fucking paranormal I’m talking about staring into the mouth of a thing that’s trying to fucking eat you alive and seeing in its hypnotic venomous eyes the most decadent heavenly sky. It’s a hell of a thing, really. One hell of a fucking insane ride.
We sit at the bar and my mind is screaming at me because I am wearing the body of the fool who has put myself into this ridiculous situation. Everything is clawing at me. The scent of the musty polished hardwood of the floors and the barn ceiling and the barn walls and the old, old bar top. The stools are narrow and hard and for the life of me I cannot understand why I notice every goddamn thing like each one is slamming me in the nerves.
When the bartender asks me what I will have to drink I recognize her but she is as alien to me as I am to myself. I have never before had lips or a face or teeth or a tongue or the ability to make any kind of important or unimportant decision at all. For some reason I hear George Thorogood in my head saying ‘The clock on the wall say three o’clock’ over and over and over again on repeat but he never gets to order the bourbon, the scotch, or the beer.
She blinks and I flinch. For a split second everything I thought I knew so solidly about how to take care of myself is buzz sawed to shavings of fine saw dust and piled in tiny clumps around me. I order a tonic with lime and when I say the words nothing feels amazing at all just muted and deafening at the same time. I trace the grains in the wood with my thumbnail and talk about nothing I am actually thinking.
Out on the street, the hot winter sun has streaked the cold horizon line with deep bloody crimson strands of ribbon-like light. The snow-crusted hills roll out forever behind the snow-covered fields, stuck through with dry cut stalks of things that once grew soft and wild in the open summer wind.
It is not 1984, though I remember that year when I was only six. Fireflies and ice cream soda. It is not Kansas anymore and it is not the home I thought I built inside of me to keep me safe or warm or true. As the smoky scent of a far off bonfire sweeps across the parking lot, I am silent and I hear the crunch of the gravel beneath my heavy boots like thunder rumbling across a naked plain. It occurs to me that some hurts can’t be easily or readily explained. It occurs to me that to grow a new life, some old things are gonna have to burn. One of them is me.