Runaway Parade

Too Fast


June 1, 2012


He was born in the spring. California, Seattle, back to California, Detroit: the outskirts. He peed off the balcony and dressed like a robot. He was jealous of his little brother’s birthday parties, so his parents gave him presents too. He had the worst penmanship of his classmates, but knew how to spell “tongue.” He played the villain in every school play. He collected rocks to throw off the playground’s metal slide. Meddle became his favorite Pink Floyd album, though the first half of The Wall was a close second. He collected butane lighters, naked girl playing cards, and chess pieces from different sets…mostly knights. He stashed heroin in his sock drawer and told his father it was ginger. His father snorted it and didn’t tell anyone.

Jersey, Fleetwood, Brooklyn; basement, sunroom, basement. I met him in the summer; he was singing “Kumbayah” in the backyard with an acoustic guitar. Someone stole his bike, and his car broke down. He taught me a card trick, which I promptly forgot, and made me drinks I refused. One day, he lost his wallet and we bopped around the house listening to “The Abandoned Hospital Ship” until somebody found it: a group effort. He showed me the yearbook photo of the only girl he ever loved, and I said she looked like Jambi from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse: a head floating in space. He invited me to a threesome with him and his girlfriend. I declined. He kissed me barefoot on a rooftop, while his girlfriend sat on the couch at the party we’d left. He said, “Don’t worry, don’t think so much,” and let me choose positions. We smeared my red lips and threw the condom to the street. He blew OxyContin, grew a mushroom in the cabinet, made pirate jokes, and recorded songs about sex and monkeys. He wrote poems too, about violins, lucid dreams, and Adam and Eve, but never about me. He painted a sunset with coffee and hung a tin foil spiral from the ceiling. His cat had fleas, and his lab mouse kicked the bucket five days after he brought her home. He wore a sari and sombreros and sandals, carried a cane, cooked bacon, watched cartoons, beamed crooked smiles, gave “I dunno” shrugs, and half-washed dishes.

Madison; long drive, amphetamines. He typed dreams until six a.m. His stomach started feeling like the wolf’s after Little Red stuffed him with rocks. So he drank lots of water and took three buses to the Californian cliffs where he was born. He opened his throat to the sea and pressed his spine to the sand. He wanted to be fossilized. He wanted to repair his primal despair. Then he eyed the bloody eyeball of the sun, which told him to find me in New York. We smoked out of an emptied pen and watched seahorses scurry in purple tanks. He chased me down alleyways and across glass-strewn streets. Against some graffitied backdoor, he held me by the throat, but I didn’t mind. He slept on my floor instead of my bed and we dreamed the same dream: filling our bodies with paint from swan-necked pumps. At dawn he took off, without saying goodbye.

Mexico, where he didn’t know a soul. He took up residence in the backseat of a dumpstered car. He spent days in a peyote haze, wandered the desert, sang to cacti and sipped tequila from Tequila. Then he sat down on a hill and decided to be slow. Static. Still. He wouldn’t speak or sing or draw or dance. He would wait, alone. For something.


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