Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ghost Ship

I sublet a place up the street from something called the Ebbtide Show Lounge, what looked like it had once been a last-chance suburban strip joint on the highway out, or walking from the stockyard train, a square cinderblock sugarcube with a single window pane, in the front door, where the bouncer could see you and bang the glass if you peeped, and then the beckoning green and yellow tubing of the sign, which really did still make you want to interrupt your motoring, may have culled some from their sleep. The name and the timing effects suggested you may be sucked out to sea in a sweet and brilliant reverse gush of sense. Now it was blight or an ethnic social club, hall of dance depending on if you asked the neighbor homeowners or the occupying tenants.

Neighbor Jazzy, who cared for a spittle-babbling mom in the quarter-million dollar cottage with mattresses in the window frames next door, owned a driven bullring terrier mix called Shab, who was hellbent on raging its way through the slats in the fence between the sideyards. Shira’s baby would be playing only inches away from most of a slathering groaning muzzle jamming through the holes it was gnawing. So Shira told Jazzy to repair those boards or she’d have out the animal truck. She didn’t feel bad at all about her tone, even as a recent college graduate because her daughter, Elyxir, was so much more important than an earnest, grubby single-man’s gut, though she had been trying to spare him til then by not showing stress when he ambushed her talking too much at the curb before she’d even had a chance to bar-lock her steering wheel.

On my second night in Shira’s bungalow, an alarming urgent illexical or trance-tongued screeching began ramping up out of the dark and then more of that along with the sound of Shab growling frenzied you could tell with something fighting in his mouth. It couldn’t have been Elyxir because Shira had taken her along up the coast to get a divorce from the daddy who should have been there running security as he’d promised when he decided to dig a family into the lower chanks. His baseball bat was left behind next the front door on a mop clamp, spanning the length of all the dead bolts and chain guards. The rent I gave her paid for the trip and part of an attorney, but I couldn’t feel good about that hearing the guttural, stinking banshees and their sinuous deafening spasms of death inflicting and stubborn resisting just below the window of the dining room where I’d converted the table for eight into a space-encounters-online central command console.

The next morning there was a raccoon the size of a baby calf rolled over on it’s side like it had eaten too much, but dead, on Jazzy’s porch, where it had been dragged judging from the chitlins drizzle up the steps. Jazzy came out and wanted to talk about it. How Shab had been mortal enemies with the coon for months, since it had started its rutting and slutting and garbage hoarding under the house, and how maybe Shab could finally now relax, and he was indeed lying out, not breathing hard in the hard dirt out front, but with his back to us, really more like sulking. Jazzy said the coon was full of cubs, which explained both her size and ferocity. He added that he had not yet decided what to do with the losing beast or her never-to-be born, which itself begged a bouquet of inquiry.

On the third night, I thought there was an x-mas parade or hollywood eminent domain incursion of dressing wagons, boom dollies, mess trailers, grip cranes and hideously obnoxious assistants’ assistants busy putting a brand name to the thuggy authenticity of the barrio. But then i could hear very clearly, “We have the building surrounded. Come out one at a time with your hands above your heads, or text my cell.” Though it sounded Industry-generic, you could tell the whole neighborhood was reverberating with the decibel level of real police on loudspeakers under helicopters, not studio lighting, even though the drama and oppression reign the same. The lawmen bellowed their side of a negotiation between land lines and social media devices to dedicate a contact with...  the lead go-go? ethnic socialite? on the inside of The Ebb. In about an hour the squads had skulked away, no one having appeared in spotlit surrender at the front door. That’s when I realized of course most any reasonable person would be inclined to take the more discreet exit out back of that place.

The other vestige of Elyxir’s estranged, hot young drinker dad was all the wedding portraits, which most people would keep in a large binder on a shelf, instead hung on every vertical, set into any dioramic dimensional of room after room, lovingly magnified, glassily framed and further adorned with dried natural plants including cat tails and spray-painted reeds and monkey pods, silk florals and bows in a variety of lace polymer and metallic fabric blends. I had to catch myself almost hourly spending too much time positing attributions of cousin, high-school bff, disgruntled gay uncle to the faces repeating across the surfaces in so much tuxedo and gown leitmotif.

I was out back smoking deeply and watering the lichen sprouts one afternoon after the first week of my residency when i discovered a flagship, ghost ship, of the commitment-day wreckage: a trellised arch, nearly faded from view against the back fence in the hoary return of spring, not meant for the adventitious hedgenettle running up its coarsely whitewashed staves, but for wire-boned stems of blossoms: permanent, inorganic and twisted in place to cling for a chance to drip wax petals on altar pilgrims, just as the generous licensing of mistletoe, whose berries’ storied charms drop the first puckered rings that open pools of generations.

Found out someone in the Q-for-Questioning Room of space-encounters-online lived up the street and that he might want to greet real time, real place. Was he renting a service entrance to the swank cliff-stilter on the hill, or was it all his raven's-view nest from which he’d clipped superfluous wings for comfort in a cockpit-like enclosure? Didn’t matter, cuz it wasn’t a date. More all like: “Here have at this, and omg yeah, and oh you too huh?” Not art-- handicraft, but with lips, and water glasses working in, feet on pillow, head hanging from side of bed, rolling over into candle wax. Tensing, resting, repeat. Me: Why are there wine bottles everywhere? Phillipe: I’m a pilot, and those are the complementaries the ladies sneak for me in their security-exempt wheelie packs because they love me when I’m riding shotgun. I go everywhere. It’s exotic, a life with spa homes in every port; I just furnish a room of an elegant pad, say on Mount Everest, Burj Khalifa, anywhere Liz Taylor might have liked to be. I take my friends with me. I know the owners of the Federal Reserve.

I nearly wept at Phillipe’s story of boarding schools and being present for the invention of the NASDAQ, only to be car jacked, head-bricked and dumped on a lawn in the middle of the day behind the health food temple on the way home from a trippy Lanzarote-Vale-Diamond Head run. His subconscious heap was nearly stepped over by a woman who’d just finished praising to her cashier the benefits of multiple bowel movements in an afternoon. They had to reconstruct his cranium, but he'd kept his glamorous job because the most he could remember was how to fly a Jumbo. I asked if we could drink some of the wine, and he said no. Each vintage he’d previously assigned as re-gifting to various diplomats, crazy millionaire Japanese girl coolat designers.

Yet I still recounted and desired to share my own burden of being away from home in a place I’m not known and alas, on a decimal birthday. So would he please accompany me on a jaunty circuit about town, a giddy breeze through the many fabulous establishments he must have known so well. He joked about swinging through the Ebbtide on the way uptown to the absinthe parlors and martini salons and patios with stroller parking and micro-ales. For me the tube-lit strip cube and its blank marquee sent the undertow of imagination that night, though the both of us, having been honest, could have wagered that a back door departure from the Show Lounge would set a dark and stormy sail.

No comments:

Post a Comment