Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Song from Under the Floorboards

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This story is a little out of sequence, but I just heard that Magazine cover...
I was living on Pinegrove with Jodi in November of 1986, when I got a phone call:
"Brian!" said a voice in a whisper. "It's me Kelli. Look, you gotta come over right now! I mean it! Right now!"
It was after ten p.m., and I had just settled in for a quiet evening with my Benson and Hedges menthol lights, Tinderbox, and my sewing machine. I made all my own clothes back then.
"Kel, it's late, I'm tired, I don't wanna come over now. How about tomorrow?" I whined.
"Brian, you HAVE to come over now! I need your help! You're the only one home tonight!
I have a crazy guy in my house!" She panted.
"Kelli, call the police! Why are you calling me! I'm blocks away" I yelled at her.

Kelli lived on Belle Plaine and Broadway, in the same building as my friends Donny and Erin. All the apartments had an odd shape and feel to them, cause I think when it was built, it was a grander building in a grander neighborhood, but now the area was pretty rough, and the grandness was chopped up to make way for more tenants. Whenever I was there during the daytime, I often heard an opera singer and a french horn player rehearsing, sometimes together.
I didn't know Kelli very well, for I had only recently met her through Donny, them being neighbors and all. She had dyed-black, curly bobbed hair, bright blue eyes, and her generous mouth, usually painted a shocking pink, set off her big round head. She achieved a level of vintage with her 'look' many of us could only dream of. She worked for Baroni make-up, and had recently given me a ton of samples. I felt I owed her.
(I just tore apart my apartment looking for the empty Baroni containers I know I saved, but I think I threw them away a few years ago. I could puke, I hate myself so much right now.)

"No, I can't call the police, it's my old highschool boyfriend; he ran away from his home: he's off his lithium! You gotta help me, I don't want him to get in trouble. Just come over for a couple hours, please!"
"Ok, I get it. I'll be right there. I walked in the November cold for a few blocks, smoking and contemplating what I was about to get myself into, and then hopped into a cab.
Kelli buzzed me in, and I opened her door to find them on the floor, sitting around a little burgundy cassette player, smoking furiously.
"Hey guys" I said as I took off my coat.
"Brian! What a surprise! Come in the kitchen and I'll get you a beer. Be right back, Ron!" Kelli said as she dragged me out of the room.
"Thanks for coming." She said, her face inches away from mine. "I called his dad, and he should be here in about an hour to pick him up. He's not violent, I think, but I just didn't want to be alone with him now, with the state he's in. He should be taking his pills, and he told me he hasn't for a while, and that's probably why he ran away, to my place. He's done it before. He doesn't know his dad is coming, so don't say anything! He can't leave til his dad gets here!"
We walk back into her tiny living room, and join Ron on the floor. He takes a tape out of the player, and puts in another and presses play. The Sweetest Chill comes thumping out of the little player, with a sound quality I didn't know existed in a boombox that small.
What did he do, time travel to the year 2000 and bring that back? That thing must've cost a fortune! I think to myself.
"Hey! I was just listening to that before I came over" For a crazy guy, he sure has great taste in music.
As we talked, I studied Ron. He was a good-looking kid, my age, although a little disheveled. He had fine, naturally black and curly hair, and big brown eyes. I could tell he came from a family with money. The expensive piece of electronics was a big clue, but he also had that look of someone who would never want for anything. He looked cared for. He had a clear complexion and a glint in his eyes. Regardless of his behavior or his mental state, he was loved, and rich, and he knew it. He had an enviable coolness, even in this state he was in.
Oh, what I could do with only half his looks and money...
Conversely, at the same time, I could tell his money and looks and family didn't have any value to him. He didn't hate these things, per say, but his priorities were on a level I knew I could never understand.
Behind the Sun comes on next.
"This is nice. What is it?" I ask.
"Eric Clapton. I like this song. I listen to it a lot. " He replies.
He continues on, talking a mile a minute, about things I don't understand. Kelli and I often exchange puzzled glances. All I can think about is how deeply unfair life can be. I wish I knew him before he 'got sick'. I wish I could talk to him when he was taking his medicine. I wished for him to get all he wanted from his life.
Rattlesnakes starts to play.
Where does he get this amazing music?
We play Rattlesnakes over and over, and lay down on the hardwood floor, and sing along with the chorus "...she looks like Eva Marie Saint, in 'On the Waterfront'...", filling up Kelli's ashtrays.
I think about how nothing can protect us from who we're meant to be; how we're given our life's cicumstances, regardless of who loves us or how much money we have. I also wonder how my parents would react if the roles were reversed. Then I realize I've truly had many moments similar to this in my young life already, and how they've passed by unnoticed by anyone, save for a few friends. I think how lucky he is to have medicine to take, because I don't even know what the hell is wrong with me!
We ask him where he wants to live; where is he going? We ask him how he'll do anything without cash or a job. We suggest he go home to his parents house first, then figure out a plan.
"Ok, I'll go home. But not to the hospital." He sadly replies. Soon his dad is at the door, with an expression of relieved gratitude, and they leave without incident.

The next day Kelli called to thank me again, and told me the story of them dating in highschool; how she loved him and thought she would marry him one day, but how that all changed as his personality deteriorated; as she watched him slowly get sick. He rejected any kind of treatment so much his parents felt they had no choice but to put him in a hospital.
"Donny told me you were gay, Kel" I said.
"Yes...well... yes, I am." She said.

3 comments:

David said...

So, this Donny guy. Is he the one that lived with Lynn the big girl and had a relationship with her while be a male prozzie a t the same time? You know, the one died in in the auto asphyxiation accident? No, I'm not making this up.

BC said...

Yes, I know the Donny you speak of. This is a different Donny: Queeny Donny. Our secret names for them were Killer Donny and Queeny Donny. The big rumor was KD accidently caused a death with a poppers gag during sex in California. KD could still be alive for all I know.

miss trista said...

I love this, especially that he's lucky to have medicine b/c you don't even know what's wrong with you. Hilarious.

And I still laughing that you nicknamed someone Killer Donny.