Friday, August 1, 2014

What's Going On?

Every night I walk my dog.

With some deliberation. 
Which deposits, which secretions go where.  My dog and I know what's up.

Good neighbors, bad neighbors, who deserves a gift...

But lately there's something going on. 

Across the street stands a high school marquee.  Orange light flashing all night long:  "Last day of summer school!  First day, class of 2017!  GO Blazers"--you get the drift.

And every night in the lee of this otherwise wasted light, there's  are a group of teenagers, 15 to 20 of them and it sounds like they're having fun.  How, in this heat?

Some nights it's touch football, other nights soccer.  At least a third of them are females judging from their pony tails and not so flat chests. They play with intensity.  I hear charging, body slams, give it all type stuff. 

And there's no special treatment for the fairer sex.  Be there, do it, take it.
Regardless of teams, someone scores-- everyone cheers.  Go figure.

And get this.  No coach urges them on. No adult stands around telling them to do wind sprints before and after if they really want to win.

I am of an age to rightfully expect teenagers to behave the same or worse than I did.

I can't figure this out.

There's nobody making out in the shadows.  No acrid smell of burning herbs.

But there's is definitely something going on here...

and I'm afraid...

Of what?

Hope, I guess.


Let's suppose for the three or four minutes it will take you to read this entry, my name isn't John.

It's Luke, Doctor Luke if you want to be precise.
I've endured a week of sleepless nights wrestling down words to describe an incredible event that happened thirty years ago.

I'm done and just handed the manuscript to one of my acolytes, or "suck-up" as I often think of him.

He responds with a bowed head,
"Yes, Master Luke, be assured that this precious and insightful gift will be distributed to all of Macedonia, to all who regard the cross as sacred."

Whatever.  It's just a memory.

I'm exhausted, sleep through fourteen hours until the mid-morning sun starts baking my skin.  I force myself to open one scratchy eye and realize I'm under the same pitiless sun as the day before.  No brighter, no different than before the completion of my manuscript.

All that might not have mattered. 

Well, a year later it did.  Mark and John, or their adherents, are a little pissed that my words don't exactly line up with their own narratives.  Sheesh! I thought it was all about the spirit of the things.

Now let's suppose my name is Luke, Dr. Luke as in modern medical this time.  I am an accomplished cardiac surgeon and have just presided over a four hour multiple-bypass operation that should give some guy another three years on this planet.  

I know as I strip off my gloves and step out of my scrubs, however, that he will likely piss it away with bacon and eggs, alcohol, and an occasional cigarette.  Read his obituary in less than a year.

Nothing mattered.  He will die without having contacted neglected relatives, not having written a novel, certainly without making a difference in the lives of his neighbors or friends

Now let's suppose instead my name is John.  I'm in a sandwich shop, Stockton, California. A young girl fixing my subway, is telling a security guard about the man who blatantly steals random objects and reaches across the counter to do stuff I would rather not recount.

Clearly, she is terrified by this individual and indicates his race tactfully to the guard while glancing apologetically toward me.  The man disappears into the kitchen.  I imagine him with a gun, ready to bust this guy's ass after having called the Stockton police.  Was that an my second oxymoron..."Stocton police"?

I claim my bag of sandwiches and deliberately overtip her.  Not so much that she might think I want a "date".  Three dollars, if you must know, and I tell her that I appreciate her hard work.

For less than a second, I see something in her eyes that could mean a lot of things.  I will interpret what I saw as, "So you see what I'm dealing with here?"

My wife and I flee with our sandwiches.  Out of the corner of my eye I see the security guard is behind the restaurant casually inspecting some dumpsters.  He's a survivor.

The sun is coming up again, doesn't look much different. Pretty sure my name is John.  

But I remember yesterday clearly.  For the one half second it took to meet a girl's leveled gaze, I might have mattered.