Friday, May 3, 2013
And we are still out of the narrative…again. Going back and capturing such star birthed and overwhelming love is a taxing task. So we enter the here and now, because so much has changed and needs to get out. It is life or death it seems these days, at this point in time. So where are we?
“Slow down, don’t fuck with my eye; I want to be left here with my monsters.”
Murdoc is standing in the dark, on a dry dock, whipped by the cruelest of cold winds coming in off the black waters of the Coast Guard refitting yards on the
Shore. Above him, a cutter,
ocean going and vast, rises and balances on thick, compressed oak blocks and
steel. Something this vast shouldn't sit
so easy…on what seems like nothing. Two hundred and sixty-feet of twelve-story high rise steel, just hover’s above his
head in the soft moonlight.
“This shouldn't be.” He thinks this and repeats these words like a mantra as he walks under the great mass of the elegant woman suspended and out of her element.
The ship has been brought in on routine refurbishment. She will be scrubbed and blasted and purged of two years worth of world travel. Barnacles are blasted off her sides that may have hitched a ride from the Sea of Japan or the Adriatic, or the home shores of the
Atlantic. The ship’s manifest is kept secret from him
and he can only guess and wonder in the bitter wind and moonlight, where she
may have traveled. But he loves her
just the same. She is an elegant beast,
held up by engineering, revered and worth saving. You invest in great things.
The nightly task ahead of him is ugly…evil…unforgiving…and not for men of weak minds, body or soul and heart.
Holes are cut with torches, into the very bottom of the thing which keeps her afloat. These holes, the only way in and out, are fifty feet apart. This is the way in and out for the men who will fix this creature from within, from below. This is the way into the ballast chambers, one after the other, three feet wide and four feet high, one after the other, for two hundred and sixty-feet. And the only way to manage, from chamber to chamber to chamber to chamber, is to wriggle thru a cold, jagged space roughly engineered to the size of the opening of a household clothes dryer door. There is no quick way in…no quick way out. This is why there are few rescue efforts for confined space mishaps, only “recovery.”
This is Murdoc’s first time in “confined space”. He is prepped by a veteran named J.R. It is very clinical and matter of fact.
“Once the LEL meter tells us nothing will blow up and we can breathe, we’ll go in. We will not be able to communicate once the guzzler is running. And know this, if you have a cut on your hand and it gets close to the intake, the beast will suck you dry, your blood will be all gone by the time it takes to shut the pig down. Work with me and let’s go home safe. It’s all hand signals and eye contact in the dark. If you feel uneasy or panicky, signal me and we’ll get you out. So are we doing this or what?”
Murdoc smiles, “Yuppers.”
J.R. reaches over and touches Murdoc’s chest, tries to find his heart. “Christ man, nothing.”
J.R. turns on his headlamp and waves his hand to the guzzler operator, “Fire the fucker up, let’s do this, I want go home.”
And the noise, the white noise and cacophony of hell rises as they climb into the bottom of the ship.
It’s black and moonlight outside on the dry dock. They wriggle in, thru the tiny hole cut into the ship, and the only light, is the one LED beacon attached to the hard hat. Hand signals are passed and the lights are tested. They are only one ballast tank in, black out, and then relight. The seconds in the dark and howl of noise, test the best of men sent in, and send most of them out. Lights come back on and Murdoc is still there. J.R. smiles and flashes the “O.K.” sign.
And the work/madness begins.
Murdoc, because he is the new man, runs the line and follows J.R. into the dark.
And it is hell.
Murdoc is now deep into the belly of the beast and dark and the howl, and thinks, “Yuppers, this is pretty close to Hell. Fucking glorious.” He isn't afraid. He should be, but he isn't. Instead he studies the architecture and the welds within the scope of his head lamp that is his only light in the black, the dark. J.R. moves ahead of him into the dark and Murdoc follows. They keep each other safe and work at a job that no sane person would ever attempt…for the next eight hours without stopping in the dark and the howl and the bitter cold.
And when all is well and good, and it seems like the work is done, J.R, say’s to Murdoc, “Hey man, we missed a couple of baffles, how do you feel about going back in and getting them for me?”
And Murdoc knew exactly what was happening; this was his last test. He had to go inside alone and work the chaos by himself. And he did. And in one night he became one of the elite. He proved that the dark, the cacophony, and the danger; wouldn't, couldn't break him. But fuck if it didn't try. Out of seventeen new men tested, Murdoc is the only one that didn't wilt or fade, or give in to fear or weakness.
And standing by the water’s edge, held back by a fifty-foot wall of dry-dock of steel and concrete, wind whipping and howling, fury held at bay and tempered…
Greatness held above him by such delicate and purposeful means…
And men, good men, beside him that do the work that no one else should, or ever have to do, have taken him into their fold…
Murdoc smiles, again, and leans deep into the heavy cold wind that burns deep into his soul; his eye’s well up with tears. It could be the cold wind. It could be the chaos. Only he knows. But fuck if he doesn't just let the tears roll down and sear his frozen surface and smoldering soul beneath.
Murdoc returns home and walks thru the door to his quiet, lonely prison on the water, and says this aloud…
“This shouldn't be.”
Thursday, December 27, 2012
We’re still in the future…
It is the day after Christmas.
Rabbit calls Murdoc, “Hey, I’m bringing the big red, white, and blue train back home. I’m thinking I’ll stop and grab some beers and then if the cold in the garage isn’t too much, we tip a few. How’s that sound brother?” Rabbit is a locomotive engineer, one of the last down on Sparrows Point.
Murdoc is sitting in the parking lot of the Food Lion (roar!), the only grocery store out here on the end of the world, were time blends into the black water and nothing and everything makes sense.
“Alrighty Rabbit. Let me get my shit and I’ll meet you in a few. You need anything?” This is what they do. If someone else is making a run, they offer to pony up and get them what they might need. Momma Joe picks up dog treats for Rabbit. Rabbit picks up country ham for Funeral Ken. Some Sunday’s at the bar, the exchange outside in the parking lot would make you wonder just what the hell is going on. You have to be there, be inside, to understand.
Murdoc knew he was a part of the “family” when he was asked to step outside and found himself on the receiving end of a dozen fresh brown eggs and a box of Bisquix.
“Here ya go honey” Mamma Joe smiles, “We take care of our own.”
So Murdoc is sitting in the parking lot of the Food Lion (roar!). Rabbit asks for nothing, “All good, just come on over.”
Murdoc chimes back, “10-4”. It’s that simple.
The sky is beginning to change, dramatically. Two weather fronts have converged over Sparrows Point and if you were a weaker soul, you would think it was the end of the world. Gray and white, mottled blue hidden behind the blackest of fast tearing clouds on the heaviest and almost unimaginable winds. A couple leaving the Food Lion (roar!) comments, as the look up, “Damn maybe it is the end of days?” Two days have passed that the locals describe as “fuckin’
New England dumpin’ in
our back yard. They need to keep it to
themselves.” It’s gray, white, heavy
fog, snow, sleet and cold rain. It’s too
early in the season for this kind of nonsense.
The road into the Fort, along Todd’s Farm is flooded deep. Bauers Farm is under as well, and is again a water park. And the wind howls, and as the tide comes in
they all hunker down and ride it out.
Sane, normal people would run to higher ground. But these natives know and understand what
they’re up against. “Shee-at Murdoc, It’s only time to go when you have to wade out
or steal a neighbor’s boat. And you
never do that. Someone will always give
you a ride, as long as you’re family.” Millers Island
So Murdoc leaves the Food Lion (roar!) after picking up what he needs to get by and heads out the
Forest Road towards Rabbits. It is less than two miles, but in the winds
and rain and fog, it might as well be the South Pole. Along his drive he has to stop and let a
small group of deer amble across the road.
Lucero is playing…
It is all so purrfect, the deer, the fog, and the song. He knows where he has been and knows damn well where he is going. But something beautiful gave him pause asked him to stop. And as he sat in the strange white glow of the fog, he thought of her, his love so very far away. She would have loved this, strong delicate, dark beasts of the land emerging from clouds of white with diligent, slow purpose. They had no need to run or dart into shadows this night. It was us who needed to be afraid.
In an effort of good gesture, Murdoc kills his head and fog lights, only the yellow running lights on top of the truck glow, soft. The road has gone really dark now, but the white echo light of the fog seems to still illuminate everything. It is as if Murdoc and the deer are trapped inside the softest of clouds, He wanted to step outside and lie down upon the white ether, curl up with the dark creatures of the forest and be one.
But the song ended.
And just as he found himself jaded and back, just before he hit the lights and brought machinery and man back into being…
Two small, white speckled does emerged from the scrub, danced in the fog, chased and played with one another across the road and then out into field, out into the hidden expanse of Todd’s Farm. It is late in the season for such new things to emerge, to survive.
Murdoc sits, in the slow easy cadence of his diesel rumble, lights out, on a lonely road that leads to the end of the world. He waits, patiently; to make sure that all the beautiful and innocent things have found their way across.
When he is certain that all is well, he turns his heavy beast, his diesel fueled soul, out across the night and heads towards Rabbits.
“What took you so long Murdoc?”
"Everyone knows there ain’t no deer here. Hasn’t been since the Bauers hunted them out years ago. You’re seeing things in the fog.” Rabbit looks at Murdoc, raises his hands like a man aiming a rifle, and winks. “Deer, huh?”
“Yuppers. But what the fuck do I know?”
Rabbit get’s up from his chair in the garage and get’s a couple of beers from the fridge. As he hands Murdoc his, he also, by some well practiced trick of slight of hand, hands him a picture. It’s old, but still within their time. It is a picture of a buck, a big buck, twelve points, and it is standing in the clear morning light, right about where Murdoc saw his phantoms in the fog.
“Ain’t no deer here Murdoc.” Big smile.
Murdoc smiles back and replies, “Rightly so.” He winks back at Rabbit.
Rabbit speaks, “And that’s why you’re family.”
Murdoc turns his head to the side and down and, stops. “Hey Rab, you’re alright.”
Rabbit replies, “I know, you just need to know that you’re alright too. The cold and fog has a way of messin’ with peoples minds. You’re alright brother.”
And when all is well and good, Murdoc heads out into the heavy fog; towards his place on the even ender, edge of the world.
“You’re alright brother,”
These are the words he remembers…
As he pushes the door open to his cold dark, lonely, home.
“You’re alright brother.”
Friday, December 14, 2012
We are still a bit forward in time.
It is nights like these that remind him of his journey and path, the test.
He returns home onto the island, runs the dark lonely road past Bauers Farm and then the tough turn through Todd’s Farm, and he is home.
In just a few small hours he has navigated the dull and oppressive lights of the city, his old home, and found his way across the Black Marsh to a place were the sole and lonely light sits beneath the flag pole by the Post Office, just around the corner, that opens at seven and closes at four. It gets dark here, and he is okay with this.
His ride home back to the island is troublesome. He smokes and spits blood out the window into the cold winter’s air. There is no music; Just the keening of the diesel’s low rumble and an echo of a voice of love so very far away.
Tonight he went back. He has done this once before, only once. This time he was closer to his old home than he has ever been. A friend, a brother, for better or worse, wanted to sit and pretend that everything was okay, alright. And so he went back. And it was, okay.
And nothing had changed. It was all the same.
Some new paint, stronger bar stools and eleven televisions, but it was as if he had never left.
The same drunks rolled in and out. The bar keeps hadn’t changed. And no one knew why he had disappeared. They heard rumours and speculated, but they didn’t know. They just assumed he had “moved on”. They never knew he was pushed away, forced out.
And so he was embraced…again, like always.
But it wasn’t enough to make him feel like he was home. In his heart he knew that he was so far away that he could never find his way back to this place that was once his. And uglier still, he never wanted to go to this place again.
“Fuck these fools, God bless them. Their cages need to be rattled, they aren’t living.”
Nothing had changed.
And as the dusk fell, and the phony dark of the city night crept in, he bid them all farewell and charted the new familiar course towards his home on the edge of the world.
And as he headed out into the black, the real dark, lit only by stars; his phone began to ring. Call after call came in. Word had spread that he was out and tangible, real once again, and everyone wanted a piece.
But the calls were never returned. He had enough for one day and drew up the drawbridge that traversed the black waters between him and all those good souls that wanted or needed something from him.
Only one thing, one soul could ease his weary head and make it all make sense.
This is why he didn’t listen to music as he diesel rumbled his way back home; this is why the windows were down and the cold salt wind blew in through the windows of the truck…
He was trying to hear her voice.
If he kept the engine at a low gurgle and grunt, around 1500 RPM, he could almost hear her…and she was singing. It was something unfamiliar, but he was sure it was Joan Baez.
He hates Joan Baez, but loves when she sings her to him. It reminds him that he has his angel on.
He rumbles up to his cottage of exile on the black water.
There are Christmas lights on neighbor’s houses, and still the lone light at the Post Office, illuminating the tattered flag that only comes down when there is almost nothing left to remind them of the wind that never ends and pulls their skin tight across their faces.
He steps out of the truck and begins to walk the few steps towards home. There is no light on to guide his way. Why should there be? It is only him.
And just before stepping onto the porch, he stops.
A star, brilliant white, shoots over his head, over his exile, and out into black water beyond.
And he freezes, cannot move. He just stands in the weird crazy dark of distant Christmas lights and waits. What ever light there is down here, while comforting and giving of peace, means nothing when compared to the lights above that sometimes rain down upon us.
And it all makes sense, “Fuckin’ Christ, it’s the Geminid Shower. I am an asshole.”
So he goes inside, grabs a quick bite to eat, packs a cooler with beer, and then heads out onto the pier and waits to watch the heavens fall over the black water.
And as the stars rain down through the soft salty breeze, he is sure he hears her voice, gently singing.
It might be Joan Baez, but he wants it to be Leonard Cohen.
Either way, it doesn’t matter.
He is just comforted knowing that even though she isn’t with him, here on the pier on such a stellar night…
The black water that divides them, is nothing compared to the onyx infinite sky above, that draws them back to one another, through a sea of falling, brilliant white, stars.
"And maybe I'm the man that's wading out into the night, singing don't fall thru the stars."
"And maybe I'm the man that's wading out into the night, singing don't fall thru the stars."