Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Shame

On his death bed, my brother called me a woman.  He was gaunt.  He’d been drifting in and out of narcotic sleep.  Struggling to focus.  It was a hospital room with shiny metal and white cloth.  His family were around.  I’d been fighting in every way I knew to keep him alive.  I’ve kept the dying alive and resurrected the dead.  But they say a prophet can’t be a saviour in his home.  He was my older brother.  It didn’t matter that I was the doctor.  He was going to die.  He was going to have it his way.  I was going to have to let go.
“You don’t understand,” he said. All my life I have heard that.  “I want to die. I don’t want to live. You don’t understand.” I’m a contrarian.  I’ve swum against the stream. I’ve overcome the impossible time and time again.  I’m always afraid. I never know if this will be the one. I join in the fight. I gather all my resources and go at it.  I fight demons. I wrestle with the devil.  I fail.  I cry. But mostly I win.  I don’t think of it as myself, not really. I think more of summoning a power greater than myself and bringing this to bear.  I call on God and science and self and beg, plead, cajole.  I offer myself as sacrifice.
I asked that God take me instead.  I’ve no family. I’m all alone.  I’ve had a full life. I’m old.  So many times I’ve not wanted to live.  All the time I am crying and dying and having near death experiences.  But with him there was love.
He just said, “you’re a woman.” As much as a low blow, brother to brother ,in a fight of words.  We fought physically as children. I remember him trying to kill me in an all out cat and dog fight when our parents won’t home.  I remember my trying to kill him too, as only men can, as boys.  There’s that love and hate and betrayal thing that goes beyond all checks and balances. I don’t judge people when they lose it, find it, are it, whatever term speaks to the barbaric and refined. I’ve known that place of desperation and desire. As brothers we survived and surpassed these times.  
My brother was dying. I was pushing him to live. I was fighting with him, for him, and it was something I did and do.  Jacob and  anonymous.  It’s not a pretty sight.  I’ve killed and gutted many a fish and animal.  Living is only sanitized for the effete.  Little boxes made of ticky tacky.  I’m old. I’ve had my hands in guts and brains suturing and cutting and stuffing back together. I’ve picked up slippery bowels sliding acrosss the floor after a dehiscence.  I’ve known the futility of pressing a chest  once more, after too long has gone by for life to remain.
I’ve failed but won so many.  I lost my brother. Only I was to blame.
When I came home after the summer of 69 it was he I talked to. My father wasn’t talking to me. I’d left his home with him shouting.  “Don’t ever come back,”
 “I told you I’m leaving first, old man.” I’d shouted back.
It began well.  Three artists in an apartment. An organists, a bass guitarist and a writer. The woman who’d go onto be a lawyer was stopped from joining us  by her father. She’d later make candles and sell them on the west coast, a pretty little hippy girl who’d become hard as nails and more afraid.  We were fearless back then or just naive.
The bass player went onto be famous.  I hear him sometimes in the back of AM tracks.  His sound was distinctive in an era of distinctive sounds. The organist  married and taught children’s music. A obscure  existence for an egotist.  I gave one for the team. I could always be counted on to give one for the team.
“He won’t publish the record unless we give him a boy. He only produces bands with a young guy who will fuck him. He’s an old queen. He’s got all the money he needs. He just does this for the sex. One of us has to take it for the team.” Lonny said.
Lonny was a psychopath.  He was an american draft dodger with a mean voice singing with the band, carrying a gun in his glove compartment box  in Canada.  He was trying to convince the organist to put out.
“I’m too old for his tastes,’ said the drummer. We were teens, Lonny and the drummer were in their 20’s, old guys.
I wasn’t with the band really.  The roadie at most. I’d not wanted to get involved with these guys. Lonny was anything but cool.  Dirty little pervert always hitting on the young girls. Made the girls we brought around feel ‘creepy’.  There was a lot of booze. The drummer grew pot and drifted in and out. We were all having sex with girls. It was a big party zone.  Our apartment was a moveable feast.  The first party we’d had we’d blow up the furniture. It was cheap inflatable furniture that had all died under the assault of cigarettes and joints.  We bought second hand couches,. Back alley tables.  I don’t know where we got our beds.  Three to a room.  Old springs. Loud. No privacy.  Rotating beds. Lots of laughter. We were young.
“I don’t want to go. I’m not going to do this. I’m not gay. I’m not even in the band. There’s nothing in this for me.  It’s not what a friend asks a friend to do.” they browbeat me all day or for days over a week. Then, “just come, there’ll be food and drugs. You won’t have to do anything. Just be there. Nothing has to happen.”  The bass player disappeared that week.
I remember the organist saying something to Lonny  Then the old bald guy  asking Lonny if I was good with it and Lonny saying, ‘yea, he’s good with it.”
There were a lot of drugs and booze that night. I’d not been eating much because I was giving the organist a chance to come through with the money he owed me.  He had big dreams and promises.  Wanted me as the roadie so I’d be around for us to work together.  The organist was writing a rock opera with my words.  But mostly it was drugs and girls.  Nothing was happening. There’s that lull before the storm I’ve begun to know.
I woke up on the couch with the old bald guy’s  mouth on my cock. It felt good.  The tv had all manner of sexual images playing on it,  men and women, women and women, men and men, animals, children.  Pretty soon I was following him into the bedroom and finishing it there.
I remember Lonny out on the balcony looking in.  He went back to the guys and told them.  They had a deal.
The record was made.  I’d bought the band their album.  They were ashamed around me after that.  I’d been the virgin sacrifice.  I went back to the old bald guy. He had drugs and hoer d’eves. He gave me record albums.  There were other boys.  I was at parties where there were only men and boys.  I was a writer and wanted to experience everything. All I wanted to be was a writer. All I wanted to do was write.
There was something sleazy with the guys in the band. There was something open with the guys around the old guy.  I wanted to experience it all.  Eventually I was fucked up the ass.  I left bleeding from my bum and had anal tears that didn’t heal and needed to be repaired. I remember the old guy saying he was sorry. He didn’t know the guy would be like that. But everything soured rather suddenly.
There wasn’t enough money for booze and drugs.  The roadie gig wasn’t working out. I’d fought off a half dozen guys defending the equipment. I was always carrying a knife. I couldn’t understand why I was doing all this stuff for these guys and at night going over to the old guys who’d feed me and give me drugs.  The guys in the band never paid me.  Stingy.  Promises. Lies.
I was eating slops when I called my brother.  We met in a diner. He paid.  I told him what was wrong. The rape, if one wanted to call it that, had happened.  The doctor said I needed anaesthesia and  surgery to repair the tears.  I’d had shots for the STD's. I told my brother what occurred. I was crying. He listened. Said I should come home. I told him I couldn’t come home.  He said he’d speak to Dad.Dad talked to me. after that.  He was gruff and ex military.  I could see he was hurt. He could see I was hurt.  He told me I had to come home.  But on his rules. In before midnight.  Working or going to school. No drugs or alcohol. No friends crashing in my room.
The prodigal son returned.
I’d lasted 2 months on my own.  I’d stay at home another year before heading out again.  It took that long for the wounds to heal.  Not that they ever healed.
I couldn’t stand to hear the band on the radio.  It had cost me too much. They didn’t amount to anything. Broke up. After all I’d done. They couldn’t even keep it together. Losers.
Every once in a while I’d see the old guy and say hello. He really was concerned. Twisted still but charming.  I’d become a dancer and our paths crossed in those days.  Dancing was a regular gig with money.  I never went back to his bed.  I was back with my family then on my own.  I got a steady girlfriend after I told her what had happened.
I didn’t have anything more to do with the band.  The police were after them.  "Good Time Charle’s Back in Town" was the book written about the era, about the drug busts by the undercover RCMP lead singer. The drummer had been smoking a joint with the under cover lead singer  before he turned everyone in.  The band couldn’t get a gig after that.  Black listed.   The band broke up even as their record was playing on the radio.
The organist went east.  All the promises and dreams had gone up  in smoke.
Lonny left too. He was shot dead soon after. Some dispute over drug debts with liquor involved.   I met the drummer and he was still smoking dope. His parents had died, left him the house and some money.  He got by.   “Crazy guy,  that Lonny,” he said,   "Totally fucked in the head, but he had a voice.”  
My brother and I became closer  that year.  We never talked again about that time until he was dying.  He reminded me then I was a woman.
I was the guy who went on to hospitalize guys in fights, protecting women and underdogs,  hunted bear, and rode  big motorcycles.  I’d stopped drinking and drugging too.  My brother never had anything to prove.  He was always a good man.
A few days later,  the last thing he said to me was, “thanks for fighting for me.”


1 comment:

Barbara Harris said...

Thanks for sharing Bill.
WOW!
Dont know what to say!
Perhaps this rememberence/this telling, will carry you further in the healing.