Do You Like Pie?
Things seem particularly gloomy now. He is thinking about the darkness of families, abuse, mothers leaving, daughters of a certain age, his father, sitting in the garden, in his open-necked white shirt, his face shiny from a shave and stinging with DDD.
If he reads he is drawn to weight. He reads about Vietnam and thinks about body-bags and cripples, and wonders when the graves will open up, when the dead will rise and drag the war-mongers back into hell.
This is what it's like if you are awake at 2 A.M and it's not some weed-fugged party, you're not desperately trying to get laid. No, you are just cursed with thought, stale with bad whisky. Shortly you will doze and wake again at 3:30.
So you went to the doctor and he told you to cheer up. Twat. Not even thirty, with shiny red cheeks and the nearest thing to a fuck he's had is his left fist.
Cheer fucking up? Does he realise, with half an ounce of bad luck he might live another forty fucking years? Cheer up? Has he looked inside these crumbling knees, listened to this broiling, roiling gut? Has he met his wife?
Look outside, a moon, one day of fucking full. The moon is round, it has two eyes a nose and a mouth. AND A FUCKING GREAT LIGHT BOOMING DOWN!
Jesus, Mary, Joseph and a dozen fucking saints, he needs some sleep. Go on God, move along, go away, nothing to see here, nothing. The do not enter ticky-tape is blowing in the wind and scene of crimes have fucked off to a bar.
This is, cough, this is called "being alive". This maggot of continuing to breathe, the sort of thing you'd find in a jar at a freak show is called life. How full of shit is that?
He knows more. Life is seeing the light that shines from someone. Life is stopping your car and walking into the sea, just because you can. Life is a few dozen words whispered out of stone, kissed to the ground, that sing in your heart and leave you breathless.
Life, living, is slipping slowly into the warmth of another as the evening smiles at your foolishness. It is hope, joy, waking up to a sky so big you want to weep.
Life is not mere continuance. It's not continuance that we sanctify.
Three boys walk out towards trees. They have a homemade crossbow. They will probably kill something. Each of them wants to hold the crossbow, feel the awesome promise in it, the heft of the wood. They feel the thrill deep, deep down in their pre-pubescent balls and they almost understand what they feel even though understanding is never the point. Somewhere there's a rabbit. At some moment it will twitch and then feel something, but the moment of feeling will be so short that it doesn't matter.
The boy who kills the rabbit will grow to be a doctor, a good, fine man. At fifty he will give it all up and go to Rwanda to find a way to die. He will die badly and in some villages they will be sad for a little while, but television is coming and Kembele has a mobile phone.
The other boys? One is me. One grows up to murder his wife. One has a poison in him, slowly growing, thick and black. The other merely murders.
This one's wife is far away. Technically they are still married. She was born on the fourth of July but denies him independence. It's her last cruel hurrah.
It is three. He thinks he should telephone random numbers and ask quietly, "Do you like pie?" It means nothing but for some reason it strikes fear. He knows they keep hearing the sentence over and over again. "Do you like pie?"
His glass is empty but he would have to move to fill it. He has read The Things They Carried three times before and tonight he has read the first page over and over.
He thinks maybe he should write Catch 77 and have a PFC say "I would walk in his shoes, Sir, if I had feet." That's supposed to be funny, but it isn't.
He thinks of his wife again and the woman he loved so completely but didn't marry, the woman who married a boy who went looking for a rabbit but didn't kill until he was fifty-one years old.
He had waited, David, waited with the body. Her hair was straight and bloody, her eyes cold as a river. When they arrived he said, "Oops, that's cracked it," and he told the doctors he was surrounded by tall dark trees and they hated him.
But here, not David. He lies awake thinking that there must be places where things work out. It's just they are very far away and hard to get to.
What else is there to do but weep?