Friday, July 13, 2018

Phaeton

I scream back on hundreds of hooves freshly added to the family stable, the patient gurgle of a flat six flying across the asphalt, guiding me home to my abandoned haunt. It’s not long before I find myself clapping the back of one of my fondest friends. We unearth old idioms, exhume skeletons; we discuss wormholes of thought and shame, collapsing into years still continually recurring in the prison of the mind’s eye. I fall into a few, but avoid discussing the particulars, the shame still thick and cloying in these everlasting past-present moments. Quaffing an unknown Toscano, hauling on pellets of hash gently crumbled into a mottled pipe, we regress further. I find myself contemplative and even somewhat nostalgic, not just filled with simple and pure disgust; so much growth and destruction burst forth from this parched and prickled desolation. I found love here—I found bloodlust here. These halls and hollows all bear memories already slipping into oblivion. I want to freeze these forgotten flashes into snowflakes between glass slides so I can carry them with me for the rest of my days.

*

The sun rises. My neck is bent in on itself, and my temples are experiencing their third destruction. My gut groans and chastises me for what I’ve done to it, and I don’t blame it: a week of whisky, punctuated by psilocybin tea, and a pitcher or two of iced coffee begets a subpar stomach lining. I down water and ibuprofen for my stomach and neck respectively, then smoking softly smouldering moss out of my glass whistle for the general dysphoria and discomfort latching onto me with karmic tendrils.

Crawling into the straight six-straddling 325 and rolling out of the driveway, I find my hands spinning its comfortable wheel comfortably. I already know where these wheels will lead me; the first scarlender’s house lies around the bay—hah, the bay . . .

I remember being on a ferry charmingly christened the “Felicity Duchess”, a hallmark landmark in this sore of a city. Grade eight graduation. I think I was suitably dressed in a double-breasted black jacket, though it fit poorly—not unlike myself in this mundane milieu. I remember leaning over the guard rail wrapping the top deck and surveying the increasingly distant city, wishing with every friable fibre of my being that she was beside me in this moment in time, my long-sought Seraph—my Seraph Anne. She would be here on this ferry one year to the day, following in my footsteps. I so dearly hoped that she might long for me in kind—that I would be the person whose absence would make her ache.

Flying around the corners of a familiar helix of a road, I encounter the same two mute ponies I always do. Nothing stirs. I go to drive away, but something about passing by it as quickly as I do finds me circling around and taking it in slower the second time through, really drinking it all in. If only I could stroll along those hallowed halls—that inviolate basement—those exalted couches—that prison-cell of paradise of a bedroom—and, lest I forget, that lotus-filled shower. Drive on. It’s over.

The next scene—that sickening tableau—is another patch of parched grass directly across the bay, an alien landscape, desolate and deserted; more muted ponies in the driveway. (Where have all these wonders, these women gone?) I associate this vista so singularly with suffering; make no mistake: there are no prison-cell paradises here. Looping around, I spy the sign for Cidua Park, and stop—relapse ten years back. Walking here in the muting snow. Peering through the downdrafts and praying for a simple glimpse of her face. Failing. Still returning throughout the days to follow nonetheless, ever nature’s faithful hound.

Exit the car. Traverse sun-bleached grass. Bask in thirty-five degrees of centigrade. Think of the boy who used to come here, just for the chance to catch a glimpse of his pagan goddess.

Driving to the site of the fall, the felix culpa, my mea culpa. My heart throbs greedily, afraid. I can’t remember which house it was. But that’s ok, Percy; tracing Medusa was never exactly an easy task. I always thought she was Eve, not the Serpent itself. The record has since been set straight.

On the drive home I thumb my nose at the abode of a Poor Facsimile—fall through another wormhole. Subsequently return to 2016. Find nowhere else to go.

*

But that’s not really true. In the dead of night, I climb into Apollo’s new chariot and return to the primary site of all my pilgrimages, heart greedily gorging, engorged, and pounding, pounding, POUNDING. What if. What if. What if. This could be the final pilgrimage I ever undertake; I may never return to this subdivided inferno. A crushing sadness weighs down on me, as I know this signals the beginning of the end: I will have to forfeit my pagan idolatry for the sake of a better future—or at least, that’s the hope. But the loss of these losses stings, and despite the irony, I really just can’t believe a part of me is going to actually miss all these instances of time collapsing, of re-entering all of the manifold traumas and tribulations of my much-abused youth. Everything must go, a wise man once wrote. I had never doubted the truth of this statement, of the sentiment, but the scope of it, I now concede, I am unprepared for. This last lingering tie is about to be cut. I will now only visit this haunted hovel in the deepest of dreams, in my most paralytic of nightmares. I wish I could tell what effect this will have on my past, my present, my future, but the damage is incoming and that final fracture has been made good on, years later, years in the making. “When the histories are over and the myths begin” . . . No matter. Wherever did my lost little angel get to?

The only question worth asking. The only question unanswered.


Photo © 2018 Colin Andrew MacDougall