Bill is a bunny

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Blue Mickey

If you want to talk about my sister and me you have to mention my brother. He was about seven years older than us and seemed like the biggest kid in the world. Gigantic in everything he did for us and said to us. There aren't too many memories left now, but the ones that are there resonate through my brain like fading chimes from a church bell.

We would all wrestle on the floor of our old house after dinner. He was much bigger than us but we never got hurt. He even let us win. Sometimes. Mostly I ended up at the bottom of a dogpile, screaming, "Momma. they're turning me into a sandwhich!"

We would take baths together, three in the tub. The bathroom in the old house was a warm pink that matched the water in the tub. Our brother told the most amazing stories about the world around us. Details we never could see from our vantage points behind our mother's skirt. We were stunned by the freedom he commanded on our trips with her to the grocery store. It seemed like he cold go anwhere and do anything. Seeing him on his bike on the weekends leaving the carport was like watching a ship leaving port. I always wished I could go with him on his travels around the neighbor. What did he do out there? What did he see? And why wasn't he scared of that great big world he moved through with such ease?

Once during one of those end of the day baths he produced two plastic balls from his pants laying on the tiles next to the tub. He handed one to my sister and one to me. After fumbling with the slipper things for a minute trying to open them he took the domes back and popped off the bottoms. Inside one was a pink, rubber Minnie Mouse which he gave to my sister. Inside the other was a blue rubber Mickey Mouse he placed in my hands. It wasn't our birthdays. It wasn't Christmas. He just felt like getting us soemthing. I couldn't have loved him more.

He was killed in 1983. He was on his bike, riding back to tell our mother he was going to the levee with some friends. He didn't want her to worry. A truck backed out of a driveway and knocked him off the bike and onto his head. They kept him aive in the hospital for a couple of days then pulled the plug. I don't know what happened to the guy driving the truck. I used to want to know but now I don't. I used to want revenge or some kind of confrontation with the man who killed my brother. My feelings changed about that. But I still miss him very much.

In the years following our brother's death, my sister and I tried to understand why he was taken away from us without much success. It seemed so meaningless, so pointless to have him removed from our lives that way. We both developed an interest i the supernatural. We read about the lives of the saints and the connection between this world and the world after this one. Maybe we could see him again before we died. I even believed I did see him occasionally in my bedroom . He would never say anything, no matter how many questions I asked. My brother would just smile.

I was eventually given his old room to sleep in but had a lot of difficulty doing that. My sister's room across the hall had a view of a baseball field and I would often join her there to watch the games rather than sleep in his old bed. I had nightmares that there were large crawfish at the foot of the bed where the covers were tucked in that would drag me down and eat me. I slept for years in a little ball across the pillows. I recently found a place mat in my parents' kitchen with a close up photograph of a crawfish in clover that probably gave me the crazy idea. At least part of it.

My world view became very fearful while my sister seemed to become more daring. She learned to ride her bike at six and embraced her newfound independence. She loved summer camp and sports. She slept over with friends and became very outgoing. I regressed into a world of television and homesickness at the very thought of leaving my mother. Camp was a nightmare for me, filled with tears and longing for the security of home. To look at my sister you would think she never wanted to leave.

As different as we were, my sister and I grew very close. She took over our brother's role as protector and confidant. She comforted me when my parents took vacations and soothed my nightmares. Whenever my father would come upstairs after hearing me crying out in the middle of the night he would always ay the same thing. "All the doors and windows are locked. Sugar (our golden retriever) is outside. (Your sister) is down the hall. Nothing can hurt you." Knowing that she was down the hall was always the most comforting thing and was always saved for last.

In our new house my sister and I shared the upstairs. There was an intercom installed by the previous owner that became a symbol of our parents omniscent prescence. There voices would boom over the speakers in the ceiling telling us to be quiet and get to bed. We rallied together to repeal bedtime. Sneaking back and forth to each others rooms was a daring adventure, every creak in the floorboards a potential revelation of our disobedience. We began to pretend we were in hiding like Anne Frank and her family in the attic. We shared secret knowledge from the school yard. We confessed the inner workings of our contemporaries. We found each other fascinatingly alien yet somehow the same.

We fought often. My sister was twice my size for most of our childhood and her natural predispoisiton to sports gave her the advantage. She was more of a biter and a scratcher, thank God. Frequent bruises would have been to revealing. The thick red lines on my arms could be attirbuted to cats and the dog. I think our battles came from my sister's frustration with our parents. She fought with them often, making me quite terrified. I was also in awe of her bravery. Refusal to eat aspargus seemed unthinkable to me, but she would sit defiantly at her place at the table, staring at her plate for an hour rather than give in. She was a freedom fighter in our cause. She was a hero.

One Christmas our parents gave us a small, plastic Chistmas tree to put upstairs and decorate. We did so with gusto, hanging all manner of things upon its wire branches. We didn't have much money for presents to put under our tree. There really wasn't any need, since our parents would be littering the floor around the real tree downstairs with gifts. But we wanted something for each other. After some consultation we decided to wrap our rubber Mickey and Minnie up and give them to each other again. And we did just that. I still have that blue mouse, but I don't just think of my brother when I look at it anymore.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Start at the beginning. It's a very good place to start.

Walking downstairs in my parents' house is an emotional experience for me. Invariably, I flash on myself, five years old, rushing downstairs with a carefully selected group of stuffed animals wrapped in my blanket. I meet my mother in the kitchen and ask if we can play the "game" now, please.

"Yes, baby. You go set up."

I rush to the front room of our new house and spread out the blanket on the carpet by the window. The sun comes in from the front yard so brightly you have to squint your eyes. As I wait for my mother, I do just that, making the sunlight refract and shift like the the red brakelights of the cars on the highway as they fly by through the night. I wish I could make my mother see what I see then, see the sunlight through my squinted eyes. If I could do this to the light for her she would know just how amazing I really am, just as amazing as she is. We will be able to understand the secrets we've kept from each other and share them at last.

When my mother arrives she asks me what I am thinking about, looking out the window. I tell her I am not looking out the window. The first time she asked me what I was thinking I was getting a haircut. She looked up at me in the barber's chair and asked me what was wrong.
"Nothing's wrong, mom."
"You just looked so serious. What were you thinking about?"
"I wasn't thinking about anything."

But I was. I was thinking about her.

Deciding not to push her question further, my mother sits on the floor next to me and we begin divying up the animals. The stuffed rabbit, Hippity-hop, always goes to my mother. She can make his voice perfectly. Whenever she and my father go away on vacations I try to make Hippity-hop talk to me and remind me not to cry, that everything will be fine as soon as they get back. And they are coming back. I can't believe him when I know its my voice and not his voice. Not the voice my mother makes for him, gives to him.

We begin to play the "game" now. The animals move through a world on the blanket comprised of our street, the school, the foreign places my grandmother visits, space. Heaven and earth together on a square of cloth. We talk to each other through our animals, exploring this world together and inventing it at the same time. I have a similar game that I play with my grandfather when I visit him. But I always bring action figures for that game. I would never bring my grandfather a stuffed animal to give a voice.

As my mother and I play our game, I steal looks at her to gauge how much longer we have. Once breakfast comes we have to stop, she has work and I have school. But this time together feels like forever with my mother, my best friend, the only person in the world who knows something of how amazing I am. Everyone must know how incredible she is, but I am far too small to pay much attention to. But they'll see one day. And when they do my mother will say to everyone, "I knew he was amazing. I knew because he shared it with me first."

But now it's time to put away the blanket, roll up the world and everything and everyone in it. It is time for breakfast.

Friday, March 31, 2006

The project for next week.

So, it's like this: I'll be posting here all of next week about the women in my life. My mother, my sister, friends and (here's the juicy part) my ex-girlfriends. I hate to pull the leash on y'all so soon after a pitch like that, but don't expect me to tell tales out of class about what we got up to in the bedroom or how they all fucked me over so bad that I became the misanthropic shithead you know today. If anything this is supposed to be a reevaluation of what I have and had in the opposite sex. So, there will be more soul bearing than ass bearing. Hopefully, this will be a binge and purge kinda thing, but without the messy vomit all over the bathroom. It'll just be in my heart. And now it will be out there for all of y'all to scrutinize and dissect. I'll give you one heads up: I'm a bit of a prick to my women. Of coure I don't mean to say that I OWN them. "MY women", sheesh, who do I think I am?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Here's to you, Mr. Robinson.

Today was the first day of LEAP testing for Monroe City Schools and my first experience with it ever, discounting whatever the hell I did when I was in 7th Grade. Since I have no proper teaching credentials I got to be a hall monitor, which basically means I sat in the hallway and read Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy for about five hours without a cigarette. Occasionally I got to watch a tracher's class while they went to the can or whatever but pretty much all I did was read. Which was kind of nice. Except for one moment...

The school's custodian came onto wing 4 and started to shoot the shit with me. Just regular stuff about what a nightmare this week was going to be, yadda, yadda. Then the conversation turned to marriage and children. I said I didn't have any children and had no intention of getting married anytime in the near future.

"I understand that."

I mean, we spend more time with these kids than their parents do in most cases and I can't imagine having one of these guys myself.

"Yeah, I drive the bus in the afternoon and there's one little guy that just acts the fool everyday. He's the same little guy that drew that painting on your shirt there (we all had to wear these Lee Eagles Always Pass ["LEAP", get it?] t-shirts to school today to motivate the kids. The painting on the front shows three bald eagles sitting in desks taking the LEAP and thinking about their diplomas) You know what I didn't know that thing the eagles was thinking of was supposed to be a diploma. I thought it was a cigarette and what kind of cigarette you going to pass? But this kid that drew that he is just a handful. Just talking and playing and acting out on that bus. Everyday. And his parents won't let you do anything to him. I've turned that kid off the bus five times but it never does any good."

Yeah, you got that right. I mean what do they expect us to do with these kids when they won't do what we say? Talk it out with them? You can't reason with a 7th grader.

"Uh-huh."

I'm not saying that I'll never have kids of my own but it just seems like a full time job and I wouldn't want to do it halfway the way I do some of the other things in my life.

"Yeah, you know my wife died this past year?"

No, sir, I didn't know that.

" We was married 23 years but was together longer than that. We thought about splitting up, too. I even left for a couple of nights once but came back. I thought about all of it and said I need to get back and be with my wife. A marriage is hard work. And we was married whe we was 20."

My parents got married when they were 18.

"Uh-huh, December 9. I will never forget that day. We was going to Houston to see her family. She has family in Houston. And we was fussing at each other about when we was going to go. I told her to take the day off work and we could drive over during the day, 'cause I've gotten to the point where I don't like to drive at night anymore. And I was fixing to just go on ahead without her but then decided I'd wait until she was off work, you know. And she was ready and packed and all so we drive over and met with her brother. And everything is fine that night and the next day. We went all over Houston doing our Christmas shopping; going to that mall that they got there. And I'm talking with my brother-in-law and having a fine time. That night we getting ready to eat supper and she's going to get her plate and sit at the kitchen table and I'm sitting at a coffee table in the living room and I tell her to come on in here and sit with me. And she comes to the table and sets down her place and it's like something pushed her over. Bam! Just like that she's out on the floor."

He took off his sunglasses and began to wipe his eyes and kinda takes deeper breathes and quicker too.

"Well, I did the CPR on her and got her breathing until the paramedics arrived and we get to the hospital and they kept her alive long enough to take a chest x-ray. They knew there wasn't nothing they could do for her because her heart had gotten so big. And the medicine they was giving her wasn't going to work. She had this enlarged heart muscle. And she died that night. But she never complained about her heart all the trip. We all knew she had trouble but we didn't know it was that bad."

I'm awfully sorry that happened.

"And I got a 14 year old at this school that I got to look after now. Do all the things that his momma did for him. Make sure he's eating and has clothes to wear and all that. If I can just get him out of here this year I know he'll be okay. He's got to do well on this test, you know?"

Yeah, well, I'm sure it'll be fine. I know this won't be any comfort but at least she died sudden like that. It could have been something like cancer that takes forever to do it. I mean, no one wants to go but there are better ways of going than others.

"And I'm worried about myself now. I go to the dentist and the doctor and all. Got me these new glasses. But I got to go see the doctor about that prostate and I don't want to do that."

Yeah, but you got to do that. It's really important to try to catch that early if you can. They can fix that.

"Oh, yeah, but it is mighty uncomfortable. You know?"

Yeah, I know.

We both laughed about this for a while.

"You start doing that when you hit 40?"

I'm 26.

Much more laughter.

Fade out.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Yes, I am still a bunny

I feel like my head is going to explode. No, no, I'm not hungover. I just feel very put upon at the moment. Knowing the right thing to do is sometimes very difficult. In fact, I would say it is often difficult. But you make your decisions and you stick by them. I've got my back against a wall. I feel like I put myself there and then I feel like I was forced there. I reckon it's both.

But change is inherent, I suppose. Change is a booger. Change is scarier than hell but you can't avoid it. I've never been one to strike back when I felt someone struck me. Always was a turn the other cheek sort of guy. But after a while you feel taken adavantage of and confrontation has to occur. Now, whether I am in the right or the wrong in this particular situation, I can't really say. If you start judging those things for yourself you're headed for a mess of trouble. But you have to make stands too, especially when you are defending your own. This must seem pretty obscure to most of you and that's deliberate on my part. I guess a couple of y'all know what it is I'm saying here but not many. I hope.

Put up those dukes, son! Fight all those bastards off if they're coming at you. And when you lose, well, you fought, didn't you? I'm sick and tired of feeling I can't say something because other folks know better or I need to be political in my decision making. Just plain sick. I mean, you don't have to like everything I say, but I'm going to go right on and say it anyway. You don't like it, don't listen. In fact I'd guesstimate that most folks don't listen to what I have to say anyway. Just take it as stupid, old, drunk Billy, shooting his mouth off at something he doesn't know anything about. Well, fine. I ain't listening to you either.

I've spent more than half my life feeling sorry for things I realize now I had no cause to feel sorry for. I'm not to blame. You are. Deal with that. Swallow that. Feel that and make that part of yourself. I've been doing it for years; it's your turn. Doesn't feel so hot, does it? I didn't like it all those years, either.

So, am I suppose to be the bigger man and say "I'm sorry."? I've done that enough, thank you. It doesn't do any good anyway, just seems to make folks think your weak. And I'm tired of being seen as weak. Because, you know what? I am not weak. I'm strong. Stronger than you. You think it's been a free ride for me? You think I've had all the breaks and pissed them away? Man, get with it. You don't know me. Maybe you never did. Maybe you never wanted to. But I always wanted to know you, get closer, share something that went beyond the body and got closer to what we were here on this planet to do. And you chucked me in the potato wagon when you got what you wanted. Well, I'm not one to be fooled with no more. Watch it.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Spring time for Billy

Spring is up, man. I love this time of year! My juices is flowing again, fellows. Writing more often in my notebook, sketching, talking to girls and sitting in the sun. Years ago I used to hate spring. I felt unattractive and useless in the sun. I missed winter and the coats and sweaters I would use to hide my body from the world. My pores would discharge as much sweat and oil as possible leading to some of the worst acne you ever done saw. Well, I still get the occasional pimple but I don't let that stop me, nosirree. Hot weather and wet leather, yeah I can dig it. No more crouching around the heater, drinking vodka and chain smoking. Now its whiskey in the shade and chainsmoking. Wish you were here, darling, really I do. How far away can one person be? How long a distance left to run until you are back in my arms. Cowboy boots made of elephant hide, long dead and inherited from his grandfather rest on the floor as he stares at the ceilingfan, lost to the world and alive in his thoughts of a girl. Her smile dissolves as the phone rings and it cannot be her. She couldn't be calling him. And she isn't. It's time to practice and duty is duty. Dragging as much as possible through the sheets he moves to the stereo and plays a song as he gets dressed. Maybe he plays a love song. Maybe not. He dresses slowly and smokes a cigarette, trying to make it all last as long as he can. The song ends and he is out the door and down the steps. The car moves easier under his hands in the warmth of the evening. The headlights arc through the descending night and he smiles to himself thinking of the girl again. This is as happy as he ever gets. And he is happy, though not to jump a handspring or dance a jig. There is something complete about the thoughts tonight as he makes the two blocks to the practice room. A place has been found for the pieces that winter has scattered through his mind and the sense of a whole taking shape is comforting and empowering. The engine in the car is power, the sun that dips behind the clouds is power and the cock that has become snug against his inner thigh is power. His hand sneaks down to explore the burgeoning hardon in his pants. The smile diminshes so as not to call attention to this most personal of investigations. A grinning man spanking his monkey in his car would terify a pedestrian. The drive ends too soon.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Make mine with Critters!

I used my copy of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian to teach the kids about quotation marks today. If you've ever read Mr. McCarthy then you know what I mean.

I'm more pleased tha usual with the outcome of the Oscars last night. Sure, Grizzly Man got snubbed and Terrence Howard was excellent but what can you do? At least they spread the awards around this year instead of letting one film walk away with everything. Those are the best years and usually only happen once a decade.

EXCELLENT weekend. No shows but good times and great oldies were had by young Master Vidrine, thank you very much. Missed the Stadanko Brothers last show which makes me a bit sad, but then again one of them recently councilled me to break up The Vidrines as quickly as possible and begin another band. Um, no thanks, but glad you showed the interest in what we do.

Didn't watch the Oscars last night. Instead I sat down with a copy of Critters from 1985. This was the first PG-13 movie I ever saw and is still one of my guilty pleasures. Little rolling alien furballs with big appetites and bad attitudes. Ah, the 1980's! A time when aliens were lethal and jokes were purient. Well, actually that's still the case today but I was younger then so it seemed fresher. The Critters (or CRITES as they are known on their home world) escape from an intergalactic prison and head to Earth where they attack a farm house and attempt to eat the family inside. Alien bounty hunters with melty faces come after them and destroy even more stuff than the creatures they are supposed to be stopping. Of course these alien bounty hunter guys really don't give a toss about Earth or humanity. Tehy're just doing their jobs, which makes the dry humor in their scens extra sweet. The Critters speak in this kinda hyper-roadrunner talk that is subtitles occasionally for "witty" comments on the action. The guys who did the FX for this baby were the Chiodo Bros. perhaps most famous for giving the world Killer Klown from Outer Space . another of my favorites from the 1980s cable box. Oh yeah, and Dee Wallace Stone is in this. You're a long way from ET, sweetheart!

I'ver run out of time. Maybe later this week I'll post a review of The Hills Have Eyes (the original) in preparation for the remake. I'm actually looking forward to this one. Alex Aja did a great job with Haute Tension.