Thursday/Friday, May 2-3, 2019 I dunno. Sometimes the days go piling into one another. And you turn and go crashing into the drumset. Taking each and every cymbal. Flinging them across the room. And you play your guitar upside down. You kick and thrash at the amplifiers. You give the crowd the finger. You spit and growl and yell at the lights above your head. Thinking that everyone and everything is the enemy. A terrible way to go through life. I think it was Christopher Hitchens who said somewhere during an interview that any writer who could only write when he was drinking was, in fact, a bum. Well, that was his opinion. Here I am, drinking cans of beer up on the fourth floor of our new apartment for the next month. (We were on the first floor the last two nights.) I’m saying “us” because my girlfriend is still with me. Yes. That’s correct. Although, who knows? How long will it last? Will I drink another beer? Am I a total asshole? Yes. And yes. Grinding. Kicking. Thrashing. Choosing to be on fire. But not wanting to be. Feeling the light. Somewhere. Somewhere deep into the abyss is where I look when things turn to shit. What did Nietzsche say about it? Didn’t he go crazy somewhere in Bologna Italy or Amsterdam or Swiss Cheese, Switzerland? Huh? You know, it’s not easy when your girlfriend calls you a “crazy man” and your landlord (new) explains to you that you’ll be paying for the window you broke as you’re staring out the window, new, and he also asks you, “Nice view, huh?” “Yes,” you respond, calmly. Hungover. From two or three days prior. Thinking, all right. This is it. I’m gonna hafta bail. I’m gonna leave. Everything behind. This is what I do. This is what I’ve done to myself. Maybe I’ll jump out this window after cracking my head across the glass? No. That’s no good. You like life. You enjoy living it. This is just an episode. The clock is spinning, eternally. “I’m not a genius…” she says to you as you’re both talking a blue streak in the new kitchen. “I don’t think that way.” I’m the stupidest man in all of Da Nang. A total bum. Worse than that, in fact. There’s a beautiful girl sleeping in the bed behind me. What the fuck? No. Seriously!
snoring snoring when it's too late snoring past midnight snoring coz she can't hear the classical music in my head groaning and moving around coz I'm typing snoring in my mind's eye typing softly, softly oh, so softly soft now yes snoring with a frown naked white drapes pulled shut snoring in bed alone no crazy douche bag taking up space snoring peacefully softly serenely the trainwreck parks out front.
you know, I could have anyone afterhours debating she tells me something about another guy "thousands of them come up to me!" she's getting dramatic I stand up, yanking at my trousers "now you just out with it! what guy? where? who is he? I wanna know! did you take his number?" "I'm not saying anything! I don't have to answer you!" she's right, of course—and I am too in my own silly way "just tell me! I wanna know ... I wanna know if you were out there getting numbers when I was in here waiting on you!" "no," she says, unperturbed getting annoyed baiting me the hook's in good and it stays there for some time
"this is where we first ate when we met..." she says something like this I feel the hook twisting like a knife her moaning with another man fuck me maybe I'll spit in her cabbage? "I wouldn't meet any other man or go out with one, I mean..." I'm listening intently, finishing most of my beer in seconds "until our relationship was finished" "is that supposed to make me feel good?" "you wanna feel bad? is that it?" "no" ... "I'm not
that kind of person," she says and you feel the poison of her words "that's enough" "you've had enough, is that it?" Jesus Christ, what will it take for another beer? the world crashing with shadows "YOU OBSESS OVER MINOR DETAILS!" fuck me fuck me fuck me it's all over I can handle this NO I CAN'T yes, it's fine stop you're overreacting she just wanted you to admit you still cared "how's your cabbage?" damn, brown
I WAS AN IRISHMAN FOR A NIGHT You know, sometimes things ain’t just clickin’. The sun’s too hot. You’re all torn-up inside. Dead-end job. Stupid people. Human resources bullshit. Lonely editors with nothing better to do than to correct your mistakes. Minor or major. Mostly minor. (Usually major.) Your taint stinks. No clean clothes left. You end up wearing some shit you borrowed from a friend two years ago at a drunken concert that could’ve been used as time to spend on Revolution. Instead, you got to the front row mosh-pit and expelled your 17 beers through a hard July sweat. Just as I was saying. The cylinders end up not functioning properly. Fighting with the Misses—as some English prick might forsooth … to the conversation. This is how the Universe works. You walk away, a loudmouthed Italian asshole. And you walk directly into the path of some Irish prick (as Tony Soprano would say) who is wasting his day and money in a foreign land, drunker than piss right in the middle of the day… “Hey,” he said, “where ‘ya from?” Right away, I could tell he was Irish. “Hey,” I responded, “I’m from America.” “Why don’t you siddown?” I did that. We kept bullshitting. “What ‘ya doin’ here?” “Gettin’ somethin’ to eat.” “No, I mean. What ‘ya doin’ here in Da Nang?” “Oh, yeh. Right. I’m just traveling with…” “Why don’t you sit closer?” He motioned to the table at which he was perched, sitting. Drunk. Nearly crosseyed. I laughed, somewhat. He tossed back some of his beer. In a can. Classy. I had my two cans of beer on his table, I was waiting for some chicken and rice. Somewhere in my gut, I felt uneasy. I didn’t trust people. And for good reason. Fucking prick!
“My girlfriend’s a bitch,” he said, almost mumbling across the table. His eyes were … sideways … and his hair was short, slicked back, brown, and gelled. He had a beard going, brown and orange mixed in with gray and black. Strange, I thought. What a strange guy. Sitting there, like that. All drunk. Eating chicken and rice that was falling off his plate and onto the metal table. He looked like he needed a bib. “Ex-girlfriend,” he said, correcting himself. I noticed some black splotches of paint on his forearms as he lifted the dried and greasy chicken to his mouth. Some of the bones fell from his hands and he wiped his face with a napkin. “Sorry,” he mumbled again, “I noe it’s stange and deesgustin’, watchin’ someone eat food.” “No,” I responded, “it’s okay.” I tilted back my can of beer as a Vietnamese woman came over and handed me my own chicken and rice. Neatly packed in a container with rubber bands and hot soup with green onions. Chopped. Diced! Wicked… “I’m Italian,” I told him, “was in Italy not that long ago.” That got him. He went off on an incoherent tirade about the Pope, football, and his former girlfriend’s rich parents. “They were ridiculously wealthy,” he was saying in his Irish brogue, “I mean, they watched the Pope on one TV and football on the other…” “Far out,” said I, knocking on Heaven’s door. Cracking open the second can of beer after finishing the first. I could see that he was highly intoxicated. His right eye kept drifting into space. I stayed focused on his left eye. (Have that habit with people. When their face terrifies me, somewhat, I focus on one spot. That makes talking to them tolerable. Somewhat.) He went on and on, about his ex-girlfriend, his new “Bottom Bitch”—this took some explaining on his part—showing me her naked, telling me about MDMA in Saigon, we swapped stories about hookers, and then he said, “You know, Bryan (by then he knew my name), you’re really cool.” “Uh huh,” I nodded. “Nice to meet you too. I haven’t had much time talking English with somebody in a while…” I explained, briefly, my recent travels and then I told him about a fight I’d been going through with my girlfriend. “Oh, yah? I saw you goin’ past about four times.”
At that moment, he was finishing another beer and I thought he was going to fall face forward into the soft metal. Maybe I could get away? I thought. Instead, he asked if I wanted to get another beer. “Sure,” I said, hesitantly. Unprepared to drink heavily at 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Or was it closer to 4? “I just wanna go back to my apartment to piss and drop off this food.” “Man, fuck it. Leave it.” He seemed disgusted with my good judgment. It took some convincing. But I got up, left. And was back in a few minutes. We sat down at a mini-mart. O, by the way. He’d been offering me cigarettes. We kept smoking. Drinking. “You get these beers. I’ll get ‘em later on.” “Uh huh.” We cracked open the new beers. Sunlight heavy on our heads. “So, whaddya passionate about? What do you like to do?” He had just gotten done with talking about living in Barcelona for 7 years as an English teacher. “Uh, I like to paint, write, play music.” He nodded, face vacant. Eyes hazy and almost lifeless. He was kinda big, almost looked like a rugby player. He was wearing a fanny pack. I dunno what they’re called. “I paint, graffiti. And I also breakdance.” I laughed. “What’s so funny about that?” “Nothing,” I said, nearly finishing my beer in that hot, brutal sunshine. “I was wondering what was all over your arms.” Black paint. Pink paint. He appeared to be some kinda lunatic! Soon, it was decided that I would come to meet some of his … friends? And we finished our beers, got up and walked down the road. Immediately, he pulled out some pens and markers, writing on this and that, then he had his can of spraypaint. He went to town, spraying, marking his name or whatever the fuck he was attempting to draw or paint or TAG. Fuck. I laughed and waited and stared at the indifferent Vietnamese passing by on bikes and scooters. The sun was senseless and I had the strange feeling that my life was in constant disarray, that I should be completely and utterly stoned for a moment like this. Anyway. We got there. A corner with lots of graffiti and an open lot with broken rocks and red and orange dirt. Rats ran in circles and dogs
chasing their tails. Women were outside in pajamas. On the corner, three guys were getting into a screaming match. Phil, that was his name, introduced me to Thom, who was British, and three other Vietnamese dudes who were all covered in tattoos, nearly. We sat out there on little lawn chairs. They smoked cigarettes, talking about painting—Phil and Thom. The Vietnamese kids didn’t say much. Although I asked one kid in a Chargers jersey if he liked AMERICA. He nodded in the affirmative. Good kid. Thom said he was going to get some beers. He did that. Phil remained on one of the chairs, a beat-up leather number, torn, ripped apart, and he started talking about … suicide. Of all things. I ignored him and when the beers were handed around, I drank. And we talked. About other things. After twenty minutes, Phil managed to get up and grab us a round of beers. We drank again, the sun was getting weaker. I couldn’t believe Phil was still awake and drinking. That made me want to buy us some beers… And I did that, after we talked about British music, politics … and I explained to Phil and Thom why I had discolored hair tied behind my head … that I wasn’t in Antifa … “Why do you look like shit?” … and once the subjects were all talked down and out of our mouths … whatever the fuck that means … Thom left Phil and I some loot to go get painting supplies. Yah. They were gonna paint later, they’d said. Suddenly, it was just Phil and I. Phillip. I didn’t really know what the hell to call him. “Listen,” I said, “I can’t really find this place.” He’d given me an address for the paint store and I couldn’t get proper directions. It was supposed to be on the other side of the river. “Fuck it,” he said, hardly able to read or see five feet in front of his face, “let’s go to the bar.” We got up and left. “Man, Bryan. You’re a cool dude.” “Thanks, man.” He needed to find an ATM. I directed us. A couple was using it. We waited. And waited. Finally, they came out. Denied. “Shit, where’s there another ATM?” I was just about ready to bail again. In fact, I’d felt that way a few times when we were bullshitting back at the corner on the lawn chairs. “Just leave,” I told myself, “he’s hammered. Get away. Go back
to your cave.” But I couldn’t do it. He was too drunk. I felt bad. Almost responsible for him. Jesus. We got into a cab and I directed the cabbie to the ATM. It was a little bit annoying in there like that, directing a man who didn’t speak English beside a drunken Irish prick. But there I was. We got there. The guy parked. Phil got out. The guy drove forward a bit. Phil came out of the ATM after a few seconds. He walked away. Kept going. Shit, I thought, is he leaving me like this? Then I got out of the cab halfway. Phil turned around. I waved my arms. He came back to the cab. We made it to the bar. Bartenders were wearing flannel shirts and suspenders. Phil and I had some kind of rum or vodka drinks before us. Plus a bottle of beer, each. He was talking about the money he’d owed the bar the night before and the Tinder date he’d been on. “Man, she got here. And we talked. And she just kept gettin’ messages on her phone…” He looked into the abyss. The sick bastard. “What about your girlfriend?” “Yeah,” he said, “I’m not a good guy.” “That’s all right.” We finished our drinks and ordered another round. The drinks came. We clanked our glasses. Then Phil got up and went to talk to two Vietnamese girls seated next to us at the bar. They were both very beautiful, talking to each other nonstop, dressed finely, all that. White blouse. Red blouse. Long, black hair. Fine. “Hey,” Philly said—Phillie, what?—“you ladies care to join us?” “No,” said the girl closest to me at the bar. I laughed. Philly sat back down. He didn’t seem too bothered about it. At least not outwardly. I let it go. Then after a few minutes, he started talking about needing to be with somebody, wanting to have a girl, all that. I didn’t really understand it. Then he got up, abruptly, and went to the front of the bar, walking outside and talking on the phone. To somebody. I sat there. Staring at myself. In the mirror. Fucking prick! Then I looked out front. To make sure the bastard wasn’t going anywhere. He wasn’t.
After a few minutes, and what seemed like him ducking his head between his legs, he came back to his barstool. “All right, man, you ready?” “You wanna leave?” I saw his eyes. And I couldn’t for the life of me believe that they were still OPEN. Round and red. But still OPEN. “You know what, fuck it,” he said, “let’s get another round.” “All right!” I laughed. Why???????? We drank. Full of scorn and contempt. In fact, when the bill came, he got nasty. Telling me I SHOULD BE THE ONE to take care of it FOR HIM. For fuck's sake. Or how does it go? Then we were out front. Smoking. There was a big tobacco pipe. About three feet long. I took a hit. It was pouring rain. I coughed. Rain pelted the streets. We thought about going back inside. We waited. One of the bartenders came out. Told me that it was time for us to go. “Your friend had too much to drink, huh?” I realized I was holding two bottles of beer. “Hey, man,” Phil said, “can you get a Grab (taxi) for me back to my hotel?” “Sure.” I did that. The taxi got there. I wouldn’t remember saying goodbye to him for the rest of my life. I walked back to the apartment in the sizzling rain, holding two bottles of beer. Slurping and slugging from both of them. When I got back, I remembered that my girlfriend and I were fighting. I think I showered. Then, when I got out, I started again with her. Fighting about something. I couldn’t remember. She wanted to get away from me. I took off after her, walking outside like a madman in my boxers. When I realized I was doing that, I didn’t care. She was standing at the end of the street with her face in her hands. What the hell could I possibly have said to her, then? We were back in the apartment. Arguing. Then I sat at the table by the couch eating my chicken. And rice. She remained in the bathroom. That bothered me.
I got up to see what she was still doing in there, wanting to coax her out of the bad situation I’d got her in. With my stupid drunkenness. “I don’t want to talk to you! You’re drunk!” “I am not. I’m not. DRUNK!” “Yes, you are! Go away! Leave me alone!” “Listen, I understand.” Hands covering her face. “Why don’t you just get up off the floor. I’m sorry. I just don’t want you to be on the floor in the bathroom. That bothers me. To think about that…” Time. It had a way of fast-forwarding itself. It had a way of standing still, too. What was time anyway? “Just go away!” “Why?” “Coz, I said so!” “But you’re on the bathroom floor!” “So what?” “Come on. Stop this…” “You probably gave your parents cancer!” “What?” CRASH! “Oh no.” “What was that?” Blood on the tile. Glass everywhere. The blue heart crawling out of the gutter and pissing on everything. What did it mean to argue about money? Why did relationships come to this? Bleeding in the sink. Or screaming and yelling. Or heartbreak. What did any of it mean? Really. I thought about this, the next day. Hungover. On the beach. A newly married couple. Taking photos. I was behind their backs, tilting a can to the sky. I’ll never get married, I thought. It’ll never happen to me. All those fucking tears. And for what?
breakup I tried this morning, all her shit I’d moved from the couch to the floor and the tiredness of sleeping like a dog—forgotten by her unfair personalities splitting at the seams when you secretly can’t stand someone, where do those feelings go? and I thought about a book I once read by Sigmund Freud (remember when you used to read books?) and I went out there once again doing whatever I could to please her forgetting myself identity lost to the charade of sex and food what about the bikinis I said I’d buy her? how come we never go anywhere? what happened to us going dancing? when and where did it stop being fun, when and where was attraction lost? days of fighting sleepless nights
the demons awakening sick feeling in stomach and gut all that momentum lost stopped stuck there inside of you where love almost bloomed it’s hard to let go, impossible to stay together I can’t give up writing for her I gave in all that food she left in the sink, uncaring folded her clothes she took pictures of the first meals I cooked and her meals? that sucked, no— you couldn’t say that all your mistakes making you sick you need to be alone with them demons, mistakes the empty bullet shells putting them back fully loaded into this stupid fucking machine
it’s like a bomb blast, that sense of freedom realizing how much you couldn’t stand her and letting it go on like that coz of her thighs, nipples, mouth, glasses, eyes and heart, what about that? yah, what about it? where’d it go? maybe she turned it off and didn’t say why clumsy lazy bullshit both of yours spread out together on the table, all those cards lost in the days of boredom and space taken for granted like children, yes, she’s like a child when will you both grow up? by splitting up, by going your separate ways to keep that fire lit in your nuts and to let her get numbers from other guys, let them see her for who she really is and maybe she will
too maybe it’s for the best maybe it was a giant waste of time like mass graves like making money like holidays in Springtime this massive black hole created out of nothing spitting out another Universe that was there inside of you, all along all those stars, just waiting to be found.