I’ve entered an interstitial space between large chunks of my reality. The answers I expected to receive concerning work have led to new questions. Now, I must wait. My well-being hangs on a slender thread of business contacts and loose possibility. You may think I exaggerate kids, but anyone who really knows me, knows how close I cut things sometimes.
Today I paced my little apartment like a caged animal—wounded during the last circus and pulling at his chains as he tries to call out to passer-by. I was just as likely to snap at a helping hand as nuzzle it.
Steve McQueen’s been haunting me in the interstitial space. Last night he flicked a beer-cap off my head to rouse me and then dragged me out to the street. It was a warm Hollywood summer night. Steve’s gleaming, cherry-red ’53 Indian waited at the end of my driveway to take us through the empty streets and into the hills, looking over the lights.
He parked under the sign. I got off and walked to the edge of the road and looked down. Behind me, I could hear the click and flare of Steve’s Zippo.
He talked about Natalie and Ali, others—many others. He talked about the films, good and bad. He talked about his love for racing and the ill-fated 'LeMans' born of that love. He was in turns funny, bitter, arrogant, mean and soft. There was anger and uncomprehending hurt in him. I began to wonder why the hell I should listen to this guy. He clearly never got it completely together—where does he get off?
Then the stories changed, his tone darkened and warped. He talked about the reform school; the father who abandoned him and the cold, often absent mother—the endless time alone. I began to see the wounded animal crawling around behind his eyes. “I was an old man at seventeen,” he said, and I believed him in my bones. This man had really known what it is to be alone.
Then he chuckled, “You know, one of my favourite pictures was 'Enemy of the People'—the Ibsen play—I loved that movie and they never even released the fucker.” He took a drag, looking thoughtful, then he recited, “Well, I think I have had a visit from every one of the devil's messengers today! But now I am going to sharpen my pen till they can feel its point; I shall dip it in venom and gall; I shall hurl my inkpot at their heads!”
Steve chuckled again and crushed his cigarette out under creased brown cowboy boots. “All they remember is ‘we deal in lead friend’—better than nothing I guess,” he almost whispered.
I woke this morning with a jerk like I’d been shot, unknown and unknowing.
I am beginning to be concerned. A little fear has crept in through the back door of my brain. It’s a kind of gremlin that’s crawled in for warmth and is trying to get comfortable. He’s finding the surroundings a little crowded and claustrophobic right now. He’s working at pushing the big jumble of inappropriate thoughts around and out to make room for himself to grow.
William Gibson, in his new novel “Pattern Recognition” has described that early morning, fitful and groping amnesia many of us suffer.
“It is that flat and spectral non-hour, awash in limbic tides, brainstem stirring fitfully, flashing inappropriate reptilian demands for sex, food, sedation, all of the above, and none really an option now.”
This reptilian state—all instincts and simple needs—is the shape of my denial. I stagger around, relatively happy, as long as I carefully avoid employing large chunks of my higher brain functions.
Tomorrow some questions will be answered concerning the short-term state of my working-life. At the end of the day I’ll have to settle up my tab of repression. This weekend however, several friends have materialized and provided unexpected and welcome support—as well as much needed distraction.
Yesterday, she was nice to me and that’s made it all a little easier.