Dear Lola

Dear Lola,

 

I found Saul. We’re in Philadelphia and you’re an idiot. He said that he has been calling you and you never pick up your phone. He has traveled half way across the country looking for you. I don’t understand why you asked me to find him. If his messages sounded so distressing why didn’t you pick of the phone? Anyways, I told Saul where you live and he is leaving on Thursday. He is doing okay now. He hit a rough spot but he is back on his feet.

Chapter 20

Dear Saul,

 

I hope this gets to you. I spent my last couple dollars of this months pay check to over-night it because I know you don’t stay in one place for very long. Me and Haley are doing okay. We are where in Cleveland, we arrived two weeks ago. We’re staying at a shelter called Saint Jude’s Battered Women’s Shelter. Sister James has been taken real good care of us. You’d like her. She was an atheist studying history at Harvard before she entered the convent. She found her faith while in the peace core in El-Salvador. It is a long story but I think you’d find her interesting.

She loves to discuss the philosophy of Bible. She believes that faith should be rationale. She is a little bit of a radical so she doesn’t often talk about these kinds of things around the other nuns. So I’m sure she would love to talk to you.

Anyways I got a job at that the restaurant you told me about. I’m just washing dishes now but the Janitor is going to retire in February and they said I could have his job. He makes $14 and hour. Can you believe it? Soon me and Haley will be able to have our own place. On my current wage I was able to get Haley some new clothes and was able to buy her a brand new uniform for school. I didn’t want to send her to school in hand me downs. She has had enough of that.

Haley loves it here in Cleveland, she is at a Catholic Elementary School Called Blessed Heart (I can feel your eyes rolling). It is a good school and yes despite your numerous attempts I still believe in God and am a God fearing catholic. The school is pretty liberal as far as Catholic schools go, no talk of eternal damnation if you don’t do your homework and the nuns are not allowed to hit the children.

I haven’t heard from Carl but I’m still afraid he’ll find us. I can’t thank you enough for what you did. I don’t think any man has every stood up to him like that, or at least never done it and walked away.  I think you really scared him. I don’t know what me a Haley would have gone if you hadn’t let us stay at your place for that month. One more week with him and God only knows how black and blue I’d be. I’m gone and there’s no going back this time.

I thought about what you said I think that I’m going to go back to school. There is a Junior college about a mile away from here and they have financial aid and night classes. I saw how much fun you and Janice were having at Berkley I thought maybe I could have that too; all night long conversations with bad coffee and cheap vodka.

 

Oh, and I was going through our luggage and I found that poems you lost:

 

In the in between

I am a runaway soul

flight my daydream

 

Death a sweet escape

And life is a charming trance

Runaway with me

 

In the in between

A poem is a life line

love a memory

 

Runaway with me,

Flee to another world

Swift as a whisper

 

cross the universe

through one thoughtless action

through the in between

 

Chapter 19

The 12th street blues

 

In the morning we’ll be so hungry

That we’ll eat these words

But tonight we’re going to sing

In the morning we’ll forget the music

But tonight is the night we dance

Tomorrow they will forget us

But tonight our art will live

For we are vagabond poets

 

We sleep out at night

Drinking the constellations

Taunting the muses

By hiding behind the stars

 

We are the tricksters

The word benders

The theme stealers

And dancing thieves

We steal words from the heavens

To satisfy our arts greed

 

We are the wordsmiths

Plying our trade on the stage

Alchemist;

Turning our canvasses to gold

We are merchants

Trading our harmonies and melodies

For our owns soul’s profit.

 

We are vagabond prophets

We foretell the future of human awareness

Our poems, tea leaves

Floating in the oceans of our imaginations

Liquid inventions of consciousness

Expanding the minds of all that take head

 

We paint the golden eternity of now

Just to mark arts progress

Turning the present into stepping stones

With each stroke we write the future

With each stroke we dye the fabric of space and time

Turning fates white thread into Technicolor dream coats

 

We are vagabond players

And all the streets are the stage

Re-creating life on soaps boxes under the bridge

We shift through your public façades

And act out the parts you try to hide.

Showing the world bare breasted

We turn our bodies into Tableau vivants

Moving pictures of your society

 

We are the underbelly of your beauty

18

I met him sitting in the Honolulu airport yesterday.  He was noticeably overdressed for the weather making him look quite odd wearing a suit jacket in 90* weather. Though other than that he seemed to be a normal mainland American. I politely asked if I could sit next to him, seeing as how it was practically the only seat left in the terminal. He replied “it’s a free country isn’t it?” That phrase is the most irritating phrase in all of American vernacular and so, despite his kind smile, I already disliked him. And so, trying hard not to display my irritation, I sat down and leaned as far way him as I could. I hate talking to people I meet at airports.

I have flown enough to recognize where someone is from based on whether, when, how or why they start a conversation. Like Texans seem to think it is rude not to talk to someone when you sit next to them and a lot (though not all) New Yorkers are accustomed to looking straight forward and some actually have the ability to politely avoid eye-contact. Suburban moms are always trying to round-up their kids and always ask if you have kids as if they need to commiserate just to get through the day. There are the college kids who are always on the phone talking to there girlfriends and the liberal arts kids who are reading whatever lefty book is in style, they usually don’t say anything.   Then of course there are the men who always try to hit on me. I’m not going to be pointlessly humble and say that I was not a very attractive woman.

I didn’t take the time to try to figure out which one of them his was. It was only after they said the flight was delayed due to bad weather that I knew what sort of man he was; he worst sort of man to sit next to: a yawner. It takes a seasoned traveler to see a yawner. The average person may think they are just yawning because are a little tired or bored. No. These people yawn to start a conversation. They yawn and then say something that you of course a agree with. “Jesus Christ how long we going to be waiting here” which you might “I hear you” and then boom you have inadvertently entered into a conversation without knowing it. They follow up with a “I mean, it’s like, it, it’s going to be a twelve hour flight and now we have to wait another 3 hours. Give me a brake. Now I’ll never X…” What they say after that is the crucial part of the hook.

Is he trying to get into my pants and say something that makes him sound sensitive or something that’s cultured or one that makes him seem rich and successful. Is he merely going to start a conversation out of boredom. Or is he one of those rare creatures who just finds other people interesting. By rare I of course mean I had never met one but assume that they were out there somewhere.

“Where are you headed?” he asks quietly.

“Seattle.” I said curtly.

“Business or pleasure?”

Not that its any of your business but “A little of both, actually I’m in advertising and meeting an important client but my mom lives in Seattle as well. It’s her  50th birthday today and I want to surprise her.” Why and I talking to him? “You see, I’ve been so busy with my new job that it has been almost a year since we last talked.”  Still talking? “Me and my mother used to be very close but after my dad died…”

He just sat there patiently, empathically, smiling and laughing and comforting. I talked for three hours and he didn’t say a word. Eventually it was time to board the plane. I switched tickets, from first class, with a little girl flying unaccompanied for the first time just sit next to him for the next 12 hours.

“So what brought you to Hawaii and where are you headed?” I said anxiously knowing it would be thrilling. Why im I so interested in him? He isn’t even cute. Lie.  Okay, not that cute.

“Just felt like flying, and this was the longest flight I could afford.” He said shrugging his shoulders and smiling just sort of a grin. Was he  serious? Disappointment crept in to my thoughts. I expected something more.

“Odd. I know. But that’s just what I do.” He said

“Fly?” I asked

“No, travel for the sake of traveling.”

“What do you do for money then? Trust fund?” I said, slightly irate.

“No, I’m an artist, and I sold one over priced sketch to an over eager buyer in Hawaii. I sold it to her just to come here. She like the way I painted more that the actual outcome.”

“How’s that?” I asked

“It is a technique learned from a friend. I sketch out a picture then use spray pant, pastels and oil pant to color it in. Through in some music and a little Pollock style abstract around the edges and it is fun to watch. My friend is much much better at it though. Sold the sketch for $50 bucks and she bought some cheap tickets to fly me out here.”

“Over priced at $50 bucks?”

“Yeah, like I said, my friend was much better. We flew down together but he stayed.”

“So, I’m guessing that is not how you make your money then.” In a half question, half surprised statement. Hipster?!?

 

“I’m not a hipster.”

“What?”

“I don’t like being poor for the sake of being poor. I did once, but that was long enough ago for me to grow up. I just hate working but I wouldn’t turn down a million dollars. Plus you need an address for most jobs, and that means a rent and a carpet.”

“A carpet?”

“Yeah, a carpet is an anchor. You only buy a carpet if you plan to stay in one place for a long time. It’s the physical embodiment of a lease.” He remarked, casually looking out the window. “The boring thing is where I’ve been, the exciting thing is where I’m going.”

17

She lay there abandoned.

Lost,

Alone.

Roaming the streets of the city at night.

Where her blood dripped

She called home.

Staining where

She stripped

Bare bone.

 

 

Dancing the night away

To a bare tone:

The beats of lust.

The melody of need.

Shadows frolic where they must,

Not for greed.

 

Tomorrow she got to eat.

Needs to feed.

Lucky # 13

It was a tumultuous season of joy and pain; of a soul on ice and a soul on fire. You have to understand that the summer was a perfect storm. It was a global warming induced environmental manic period-the likes of which Colorado had never seen. It began with the largest blizzard in recorded history on May 23rd. It was the type of Blizzard that only happens in Colorado. An intense bout of flurries crushing into windows and rattling even the sturdiest of homes, yet, every so often, the flurries would subside, the sky would clear and it would be 40* outside with blue skies. This lasted, on and off, for several weeks.

All during this period of weather phenomenon there was the age old fight between the Christian Right and what some may call the Liberal Factions of Colorado Springs. It started, as it often does, at two local high schools. In one, the largest and most diverse high school in the city, the health and physiology department decided to have a spokeswoman from Planned Parenthood come and teach several classes on Sexual Education. Now, in many areas and in many schools this would not have been a problem. You would think that in a school where race relations were good, people of all faiths were accepted and celebrated and the animosity between the people who took the bus, the people who drove their rundown, rusty and gas-guzzling cars and those who drove their BMWs was kept to a minimum, no one would really be up in arms about a little sexual education. Though you can always expect two or three families not wanting their future teen mothers attending any sex ed class for fear that it get their kids thinking about sex, as if they weren’t already. But a few optional classes created a drama that was the stuff of b-movies on the Lifetime channel.

It was at a city council meeting on sex education in Colorado Springs, filled with women wearing “support the troops” shirts and wearing WWJD bracelets that I met an oddly dressed young man. He had a condescending smirk on his face, obviously enjoying the politics of a city with more churches than businesses and a military family for every civilian family. I asked him why a disinterested man far too young to have a child in high school gave up a Friday afternoon to sit in on a city council meeting. He replied that he wanted to see what this city was really like. I tried to hide the momentary anger at the idea that this one debate epitomized the city as a whole. It was the same kind of anger you get when you rant about how you are annoyed by your little sister you are and some else starts to agree with and then rants about how annoying she is. Nobody makes fun of my city but me!

The anger subsided as I gazed into his eyes. Not that they were so beautiful that I lost my breath, or that they off colored or lazy. They were just odd; in some sort of awkward yet intriguing way. As if his body betrayed his eyes. That fascination subsided quickly as well. Sensing my momentary defensiveness he said “loyal much?” Yes!

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“Watching a cold war between the left and the right and crossing my fingers that a fist fight will break out,” he remarked coolly again, “what are you doing here?”

“I work for planned parenthood” I shot back.

“Really? How many times have your tires be slashed?”

4 times! “Slashed tires? Do you really think this town is that bitter? This is just an angry mob of parents, this is nothing new. People have gotten relied up like this all across the country for junk food in the cafeteria, the nativity scene during Christmas or even ESL classes.

He didn’t buy it.

 

“Are you trying to convince yourself or me?” He said with a smugness that took a level of arrogance I had never seen before. So I shoot him a look faster than a bullet and walk away thinking that I couldn’t remember the last time I was this ticked off. I ran into him a little later though

Chapter 12

12th Street and main was the capital of chill. It was the seventh layer of  lost souls. The holy land for people seeking their own personal grail. I’ve been told that those who live there are bohemians, dandies, bobos, beatniks and hippies but I don’t really know what those things are. The only thing I can say for sure is that we were orphans of society, highly educated and flat broke. We lived in ghetto rigged hovels, slept outside in the rain or slept under the 12th street bridge. All of which is illegal. Luckily for us so much art was produced there it became one of the hallmarks of the city and they let us be. The cops all turned their heads and we were allowed live life with no regard the traditional social conventions.

There were a set of rules, an unspoken social contract that everyone had to abide by:

  1. In order to live there you had to be an artist (poet, writer, painter, photographer, actor, musician, director or composer.)
  2.  You must push, bend or break the boundaries of art and society
  3. Only give constructive criticism.
  4. Never steal another residents work
  5. Be dedicated to improving your craft.

 

And with these 5 we lived. These were about the only thing that everyone would agree with; most of the artists have a problem with authority. The dilapidated city within a city had produced some phenoms. Sally Parkas had lived on 12th street for 4 years before she broke out into the mainstream.

Jonathan Smith was also a resident for a few years. His use of both oil and spray paint started a whole new school of painting that many of the other painters took and ran with. The 12th street review coined the term Urban Realism.  He turned painting into more than an art form to a new way of life. He blended the rich color of oil paints together with spray paint to recreate a realistic moment in contemporary urban life. The canvass that he used to paint was the city itself.

He incorporated the classical attention to detail and slow methodical strokes with the by definition artistic outcast that is graffiti. He plied his art from the 8th street subway to the 12th Street bridge. He created portrayals of the outcasts of society; the homeless, the restless young people who are falsely labeled delinquents and working girls and juxiposed them with their “accepted” counterparts. There was the stock-broker with a penthouse on pearl street, the yuppie parents with their private schools kids who were dying to be anything but what their parents wanted them to be, and the Johns in suits that spat in the faces of prostitutes when they were with their wives. His stark, black and white, portrayals of social types hit the parts of you that know what society really is, parts which you would rather forget..

There was also Sue-Ellen Markus; poet, writer and playwright. She broke out of the 12th street after 10 years sleeping under a bridge. Her writing made her the most beautiful woman in the world if who asked anyone. The power and force of her words are unbelievable. She could weave a story so striking that you could live the rest of your life reading it over and over again and die with no regrets. She was also a great teacher; mentoring other 12th street writers (even some who went on to be best selling authors.) She mentored Jung Cunningham, Sally Parker, John Glamour just to name a few. She was definitely one of the matriarchs of the city within a city.

Her books were mostly about human interaction and focused on strong characters. She could write a book in a few weeks when she was up to it., spending hours continuously writing with little to no sleep. She would go around laughing and joking with everyone. She would also read and give feed back on two or three manuscripts in a day. She was something else.

Unfortunately as with many creative people she always crashed after finishing a book. It was almost as if her brain couldn’t function with out an artistic endeavor consuming it. She would go for weeks not being able to write. She would have dysphasia for weeks, unable to express the right word. There were times when her hands were trembling so bad that she couldn’t even cut her own food. It was hard for her to listen because here mind was racing at the speed of light.

After 2 or 3 weeks like that she would crash and land deeper than any of us thought was possible. It was such a severe depression that her friends never left her side, fearing that thought might turn into action. It was during these bouts of depression when she would write her poetry. Her poems always focused on the hope and hopelessness of life. She would explore the depths her psyche and write what she found.

Eventually we convinced her to publish her work so she could take the money and check into a treatment center. When one of her novels hit 1# on the New York best sellers we gave her both a congratulation and good-bye party in her honor. So now she lives in the Rhonda Summer’s half-way house for adults with mental illnesses. She is doing well, but it takes longer to write without her extreme mania but that is the price of genius I suppose, it is hard for them to find their balance.

But the true legacy of  the art that we produced was the Ars artis gratia. The people never left because they didn’t need to. They that produced art because it was what they were; artists by birth and craft. They were only whole while in the midst of their artistic process. Those who thought that if one whispered art into the wind it would never stop flying through the hearts of man. Those that thought that art was the fountain of youth because art will live forever.

I can’t think of a better example of this than a man called Saul. I first met Saul in Denver three years go. I had just flown in to visit my parents in Colorado Springs when we accidentally bumped into each other at the airport. He was wearing old tattered, used to be white sneakers, a pair perfectly pressed expensive black dress pants  and a white sports jacket with a few tears and tares. That is why he caught my mind. I couldn’t help but ask what series of events would lead a twenty-something to be dressed as he was in D.I.A with a guitar case. I ask him where he was going and he just said “east.” It was clear that he meant exactly what he said, there was no final destination for him; just a direction to travel.

We struck up a conversation as he waited for a shuttle and I waited for my parents. He told me he had been traveling for years now. He had walked, swam, hitchhiked, driven and flown across America from the Atlantic to the Pacific. His old eyes, travel worn eyes, confirmed his story. He said that he had just flew in from Seattle and he had to see about a girl. He didn’t no where she was exactly but that minuet fact did not seem to bother him. I remember feeling like he would fit in perfectly on 12th street and so I asked him if he was any good with the guitar (which seemed to be his only possession.) He said that he hadn’t played the guitar since high school.

I found it really odd that a man would not use the only thing he owned. Seeing my puzzled gaze he replied “It’s a long, long story.” I was sure it was. He said that his art was generally drawing and writing, which he said he pretty good that. As my parents came to pick me up I told him about 12th street and said he might find a home there. He seemed to be intrigued and I remember thinking that I’d see him there, eventually. I didn’t think that eventually would be 2 years later though. I suppose he had long story to live before he stopped to write.

 

Chapter 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

 

I found Saul speaking in tongues to a crack addict in a back alley in Philly. Barely recognized him. He had grown, or more accurately neglected to shave, a long dreadlocked, dirt filled beard. His eyes where blood-shot like a coke head on a Friday night. He was hunched over a fire on the ground in the jacket that I had bought him two Christmases ago. It was his rock-bottom moment.

I don’t know for sure what the series of unfortunate events was that lead him to his slum but I have a pretty good guess. I had ran into Lola a few weeks ago. She told me that she had just left Saul in San Fransico. That made her one of my least favorite people. It was when she said that she hadn’t heard from him and had started to get worried that really put her on the top of my shit list. I had half a mind to scream to her hmmm… I wonder if you haven’t heard from him because, um, maybe because you left him in the middle of California and didn’t say anything to him!. The other half of my mind just wanted to punch her in the face. The later half won out. I have a hell of a right hook.

Saul loved her like you couldn’t believe. It was the kind of love that only two people who are unique in the exact same way could love each other. It was an eccentric, electric love. They were both passionate like fire so it was no surprise to me that he got burned. My lack of surprise didn’t dull the pain of seeing my best friend’s breakdown over a girl. A stupid girl at that.

I had been feeling really guilty ever since Lola asked me to find him. After all, it was me who told Saul to go over to her and introduce himself. I started the relationship that put him here. At first I thought that they would be the perfect couple. They were both cocky, boisterous, funny and very very odd. The both used to talk to themselves often, even if you were right in front of them. It was as if they were completely immersed in their own little world. Saul would have whole conversations in his head, weighing the pros and cons of any decision, replaying everything he had done in his mind.

He sometimes thought through what he would say to you so much that he would forget that he didn’t actually have a conversation with you. That took a long time to get used to, especially when they would argue. 10 minutes after any discussion they would have, they both became convinced that they were right. As if they had come back into the same room, began arguing, and had come out on top (all without saying word). They were peculiar like that.

When we were all in New York they were always the instigators. Saul would have all of us hopping from borough to borough every day while Lola had us pursuing her through the city every night. We were all like supporting characters in their indie flick. Not that I’m complaining or anything, it was actually damn good fun to tell you the truth. The rest of us had the time of our lives just following and observing them.

They actually used to put on these little two person plays in different (rich) neighborhoods. Sean would take out his guitar and put up a sign that said “Starving Actors Looking for Drug Money.” The plays were probably the fuckin’ most obsurd things that I have ever witnessed but the fact that they took it so seriously made bystanders stand and watch the whole thing. They could make as much as 60 dollars for one play. Their plays ranged from anything to updates on Shakespearean plays or soap opera style romance plays. They always reminded me of the players from Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. They reminded me of a lot of things.

I often wondered if they we actually able to act. It seemed that they merely, for only minutes at time, exposed another facet of their existence that you had just never seen before. I know now that they had a sort of flexibility to them, a liquid conception of self that meant that every action became a part of them. As if they were becoming themselves through the roles. I don’t know. They were real life characters in a pretentious writer’s book. Loud demeanors that could only explained in poetic and lyric terms.

I know that sounds like new age bullshit. The kind of thing a tooked up hippie says about their equally fuck up friends. Psychedelic, far out, free-lovin’ freedom and independence. Damn it, its hard to explain. They were…

They were both huge characters who dominated any room that they found themselves in. Lola looked at the world as having been made just for her. Everyone and everything around her served mostly to peak and satisfy her own fucking curiosity. She had a innate inability to stay on task or on topic. No matter what the group had been talking about she wouldn’t just say anything, related or not, that entered her mind. It was both amusing and frustrating. Looking back on those days I’m not sure she realized that she was always going off on her own tangents. She chose when to listen and when to forget that people were talking to her. She had a really childish way about her.

I think Saul was the only person who she interacted with in any semblance of normal adult communication. It was as if Saul made her grow up. Whenever they were together she would start deeply insightful discussions and be truly interested in what you were saying. I still don’t understand how Saul had such a dramatic influence over how she behaved. Over the course of the few weeks we were in New York she began to grow up. It was like she got a year older every week after she met Saul. I think it might have been that she was so taken with him that she grew up to get to his level. Well, for whatever reason it happened. It happened and I thought it stuck.

There was actually a point were I began to have a great deal of respect for her. It was the same point I think when Saul started falling for her. He had been infatuated with her since they first saw each other but it wasn’t until a few weeks later that he began having true feelings for her. The true feelings that make you feel stupid thinking that you already love someone. She had made a 180*. At first it was as if someone finally gave her the adderal that she had so desperately needed. She began to calm down, get her head out of the air and started paying more attention to the people around her. Eventually she became more and more aware of how she had been acting. She started to truly care about the rest of the group. She ended up being a good and compassionate listener and, yes, a friend.

She ended up becoming a sweet, intelligent young woman. The other beggars in the group would come to her with their different problems and complicated situations. She would listen intently and give words of advice and compassion. It was quite the transformation, She became a sort of unlikely matriarch.I still am shocked when I think about her when I first met her and when she left New York. She didn’t slow down, didn’t stop acting crazy though, she simply put her feet on the ground and started running instead of flying around. And damn could she run. She still wanted to try everything and anything. What changed was that she cared about experiencing things with other people. She became happier making connections with people and less satisfied by living in the world that only had room for her and her ego.

She left her mark on him as well. He had always been a little crazy but she put him over the top. When we first met he would have shied away from things that he wouldn’t blink an eye at now. Before he met her he was a social butterfly but would have never tramped so loudly through the city causing welcomed disturbances to the status quo of strangers. He began to start breaking out into spontaneous singing or free styling his spoken word on street corners. He would walk up to strangers and strike up conversations with them. He began being addicted to talking on and on with people he barely knew. He would invite anyone he met to come romping through the city with us, just like an old lady collects stray cats.

I think she made him truly happy for the first time in his life; happy, but not necessarily on an even keel. He would still have subtle mood swings that refused to let almost anyone see. He only let me, Lola and Sean notice is chronic dissatisfaction with no apparent causes. He would smile his oh so charming smile and take long walks through the city stopping on a bench to brood. Most of the people who “knew” him had no clue that he was ever anything other than elated. Sometimes I would find him on the verge of tears. Yet always just on the verge. I could never tell whether it was pride or embarrassment that didn’t allow him to cry.

I once asked if he wanted to see a doctor (a psychologist) but he said that he had been laying on doctors couches since he learned to talk. He had been on medications but nothing seemed to work so he eventually just gave up. I think that maybe sorrow is cost the opportunity cost of depth. Of complexity. I think that had Saul been less intellectual, less observant he would had been right as rain but then he wouldn’t be Saul then would he?

He always said that he would be fine once he found a place where he felt like he was home. Now that I think about it I think that he would have to travel the world until he figured out that there was no where else. He would run until there was nowhere else to run. Then, and only then, he would have to come to terms with reality as it is; have to face the facts.

But that was not the time to be doing any sort of Freudian examination. That moment was the time to get him into a warm bath and some clean clothes. It was a struggle to get Saul back into my hotel room. At first he didn’t even recognize me, it was as if he had retreated to his own solitary confinement. I had to shake him violently until he came to his senses. I told him that I was there to help and he mouthed “thanks” but couldn’t seem to form any words.

When we went back into the hotel we caused quite a scene. There was just this small pale girl trying to take this grungy man twice her size who up to her room. When we got up to my room I dropped him on the couch and he fell into a deep sleep almost instantaneously. His stank filled the room even faster. I had to go to the nearest concievence store to get some air fresheners just so I could sleep in the same room with him. I also took the liberty to pick up some generic pajamas that I knew Saul would hate (they were pink) but it gave him something to wear after his much needed shower.

When he awoke, still operating on whatever funk he had had the night before, he seemed to have forgotten my finding him. He immediately looked around hectically to figure out where he was and how he got there. It took him almost 5 minutes to realize I was in the same room with him and another minute for him to realize who I was. Eventually he smiled and, “holy shit, it’s been a l…God…a really long time… how are you?” got up to walk over a give me a hug. I of course ducked out of the way and told him that we would talk after he took a shower and put on some clean clothes.

He took an epic shower. I went out to get us some breakfast and he was only halfway through by the time I got back. Considering how dirty he was before he took that shower though, I was surprised that it only took him 45min to get clean and another 30 to shave. “Thanks for the clothes Lucey.” He said with a beaming smile. “You’re more than welcome Saul.” I replied.

I asked him to tell me what happened, how he got into that Alley and why he looked so jacked up. He just shook his head and said “It’s a long long fucking story.” I told him that I had just spent 2 weeks stomping through shit in back alleys in Philly, did it really seem like I was in a hurry to get anywhere. He told me that he had spiraled out of control when Lola left him in San Fransico. She had just gotten up one morning and left him. At first he thought that she was just playing with him. He walked through the city trying to find her like an Easter egg hunt. Eventually fun turned into boredom, bordorm in to irritation, irritation to fear. He called and kept calling her. He said that he spent the next few days wondering why. She didn’t leave a note or give any heads up to where she was going or why she left. Frigid bitch! I thought. Saul, seemingly reading my mind said, with a dead-pan stare, “She had issues she needs to work out I guess.” Issues! She’ll have issue when a put my… “I know what you’re thinking but she we both saw this coming didn’t we?” He said reluctantly, as if he had just had a painful epiphany.

He was right. We did. So did Lola. You can only expect a girl to grow up so much so fast I guess, even for love.

Chapter 10

I met Saul on a trolley in San Francisco. He was with some girl named Lola who was a handful. They were drunk without alcohol with their crazy love. They were cuddling and joking loudly and blissfully unaware of all the Asian tourist eagerly snapping photos of the young lovers. Saul was dressed like new bohemian dandy. He had some scuffed black dress shoes with threadbare dress pants that used to be jet black. Now they were a sickly gray color with small patches awkwardly placed all over them. This was contrasted with a bleach white dress shirt with an unbuttoned silk vest. Topping it all was golfing hat just because he could. His girlfriend Lola seemed to be wearing some of Saul’s clothes. She had some dress pants on that almost completely covered her work dock martens. She had a man’s long-sleeved shirt and a blue blazer (also a little too big). The way the clothes hung on her made her look like Annie Hall and a few years younger than she actually was.

You could tell that neither of them had been in the city for long. They were simply riding the trolley until they saw something interesting. After a few minuets they came over to me and asked if I knew any breezy cafés in the city. I told them that there was one down on the wharf and I offered to show them. As we took the long stroll to the Sea Side Café they began to talk about themselves and their ridiculous lives.

Apparently they were not restless but vehemently opposed to any hint of spatial stability. They were addicted to chaos. Lola and Saul had met in New York sometime the year before and when they got together it was like fate decided to fight fire with fire. They burned through life with unbridled abandon and loved every minute. This not to say that they left the world to burn behind them, it was more like they put a fire under the butt of everyone they met and sent them running around hysterically with them.

It took us and hour and a half to get 10 blocks because they felt a deep seated need to screw around. Lola would run up behind unsuspecting victims and jump on their back just for fun. Needless to say she looked quite Mad but she had this way about her that meant that no matter how crazy, ridiculous, and intrusive a thing she did she always got them to smile. It no surprise to any of us that all this shouting and disturbing the peace that the police rushed onto the scene. Though by the look on Saul’s face he not only expected it but was looking for it. Saul ran up to the officer and shouted

 

Saul: stop, stop, Mr. officer.

Cop1: Sir we have reports that that young lady over that has been running up to people and jumping on their backs. Please tell me that this was a prank call.

Lola: reports are overrated.

Saul: (quickly) I’m afraid so officer.

Cop2: may I ask…

Lola: for the record I also grabbed that lady’s ass. Just in case you needed to know that.

Cop1: you have to…

Lola: and I peed in the alley.

Cop2: My I ask why

Lola: yes officer, it’s a free country, the constitution allows you to ask why. Politely

Cop1: Are you on drugs

Lola: ‘lil bit. Not a lot officer, just a ‘lil bit.

Cop2: why were you…doing whatever it was that you were doing.

Saul: Excuse me, Officer…?

Cop1: Detective Bryan

Saul: of course, Detective Bryan, my sister here is…disturbed

(Lola begins to drool)

Detective Bryan: disturbed?

Saul: yes she has neonphycosisdoses. In fact she probably has it worse that most of the .00001% of Americans that have it.

(suddenly Lola falls to ground and starts convulsing)

Cop2: quick, call an ambulance.

Saul: oh my god. Not again. PLEASE SOMEONE CALL THE COPS. Call 911. Call the F.B.I

Cop2: F.B.I?

Saul: (shrugs) you never know

 

And so it went. We got 10 blocks and were then driven to the hospital. I think this is where they both shined. Lola’s depiction of a delusional young women with schizophrenic/rabbis like symptoms was Oscar worthy. Saul’s silver tongue was unparalleled. He was actuallly convincing the doctors that neonphycosisdoses was a real condition, and quit fatal condition. The doctors rushed around trying to create an elixir for all of her ailments. They were shouting out give me 100mg of trioxine or 50mg of senthetic insulin. All of which, as Saul informed them, Lola was undoubtedly allergic to.  Finally, as Lola stopped convulsing and started breathing and acting normally, they decided that bed rest was the best they could do for her.

Two days later Lola was released from the hospital much to the relief of the nurse in the trauma ward who was all too happy to see her go. She came out beaming and quite proud of her and Saul’s Broadway premiere. I had to decided to tag along with the two trouble makers because, well, I was addicted to them. They give you a sort of rush, a blend of a breathe of fresh air and speed. Pretty soon they had me bouncing off walls and skipping through the streets of San Fran.

One night after a serious seris of ridiculous events we found our selves laying on the wet grass in Balboa Park looking up into the stars. She replied to an unasked question that was hanging in the air that night, times like these make her believe in endless possibilities. Like each star was a door that you could walk through. “I wonder” She Said “If there is door with my name on it.” Saul then stood  up and said stars remind him that he will never run out of place to go. All around the world, he said, there are millions of people looking at these stars. Each person out there is, in all likely hood, looking at their own star. One star that reminds them of themselves. A star that wishspers into their ears images of their own destiny. So to him, if each star represented a person then there were millions of stars he could runway to. Millions of people he must meet. Then maybe, after visiting all the stars he will find one that is unclaimed and that would be his.

I was far too drunk at that moment to decide whether what they said was profound or cliché. Stars have long been symbols of journey, adventure, and even memory. Yet, there was a glimmer in there eyes that said they was looking at the stars in a way that no other man had before or since. It was a look that I believe meant that they understood them, that they could read and that they would lead the two of them wherever they wanted to go. Looking back on it I think it might have been a little of both.

The next morning, after the park district police woke us up, angrily, we took a long, slow stroll back to my apartment. From the looks on their faces I could tell that this was the last day I would ever see them. They knew the way back. They knew all the names and faces of the shop owners who got up right after dawn to stock the selves and prepare for the new day. They knew the feeling of the ocean winds on their cheeks. They that this was the day of their leave taking.

After we ate breakfast they went silently to go and back their bags. Once they had all of it in their backpacks I asked Saul if he would help more the mattress they had been sleeping on back into the basement.

 

 

When we got back upstairs Lola was gone.

 

Chapter Nine

Fear can hold you prisoner

And Hope can set you free

So pray for me

As I runway

Following whispers on the wind

sweet syllables in my mind:

Runway son runaway

 

Somewhere, there is a space for me;

a place for me,

to die.

Death coming gently,

singing softly to my soul:

Runaway son runaway

 

Her warm arms are waiting

Laughing as I cry

With tears flowing down my cheek

She’s waiting for me to fly

Singing:

Runaway son runaway

 

Escape is the sweetest dream

Runaway son runaway