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#a14 :: Tingsha cymbals

February 27, 2008

022708.jpgClutching the thick domes of bronze, hospital he waited.

Not to strike yet. No, not yet. These were a gift. To be saved. To be waited for. Until it’s time.

Memories of his long ride down boiled up now. He exhaled hard through pursed lips, and shook himself. He blew a hard, rattling raspberry, and padded towards the back of the house.

He pictured himself three months ago, and shuddered. A hulking, twitching, blind mass of suck wearing five days of unintentional beard, a bib of fresh barf and $500 basketball shoes designed by some big-name graffiti tagger …

Naked to the waist now in his sarong, he was whip-skinny from the Yogic cleansings, the mulberry-bough exfoliations, the fucking coffee enemas and the 87 solid days in rehab. He was not himself, nor sure who he actually was …

More sentient jerky now than human. More lost alien than earthling loser.

The ramen diet to which he had hewn since escaping that high-priced pity party had stripped away his gut, just as the whole horrific strobe-lit paparrazzi perp-walk had stripped away what was left of his career.

Mail popped through the door-slot of his one-bedroom Craftsman on one of Venice’s more tattered walk streets, and splattered on the rug. He ignored it.

Time alone. Time to begin alone. Time to begin. Alone.

He shuffled across the tatami-mats – the last thing he had bought after having the place emptied of furniture, gutted and painted a focus-blurring shade of off-wheat – and squatted cross-legged before the picture window.

Outside, telephone wires crossed the ragged hedge-line, tesseracting from pole to pole against an acid-blue dawn.

Clear now of the bullshit 15-step mantras, free now of the insufferable group therapy, shut of the drone, the natter-natter-natter, the goddamn cowfucking whoreson star-blowing children they forced him in with …

Deep breaths deep breaths shut up shut up SHUT UP.

Slow, long breaths now: In (count four) hold (count seven) out (count eight) pause (count two) – he tried to remember that one hypnotherapy session:

He had actually managed in the depths of a two-hour session – between dope-sick vomiting bouts – to touch a shred of it at the nail-edge fringe of his grasp, and see a way forward. His “happy place,” the shrink called it.

Pfft. Breathe.

He tried to remember – inhaling hard through his nose, exhaling through his palms, his soul, his coccyx, his navel, his forehead – and return there.

It looked like a thick rope hanging from a tree, this place – this tall, lightning-scarred old beech leaning out of the hillside woods that ringed the New England college campus where Chank’s parents had taught when he was 11.

The summer before Chank had drowned.

The summer before he had thought fuck it and jumped on the pot toboggan that first time – and ridden it all the way down the mile-long mountain path of snow lined with googly-eyed girls and Rodgers and Hammerstein and moist, panting girls in breathless cosplay drag and misbegotten summer stock and rip-snorting tattooed lighting gypsies with coke in their eyes and B-movie walk-ons and that brilliantly kismetic one-hit wonder director who shoved the Oscar into his hand – and then plunging faster and faster, past the crystal-meth 96-hour all-nighters with $5000 hookers and the string of ever-quirkier, ever-uglier “character” roles, past the shit-mouthed critics and the Australian tabloid journos who interviewed him and snickered while he was trying to enjoy the patterns the GHB was making in his head and the ones the carpets were making in his unshaven face, past the increasingly unamused superior court judges and burnout probation officers and past all the skells in the tank, straight to the fucking bottom where the thing wouldn’t even crash, no matter how hard he steered, straight to the place where he just sort of fell off and lay on his back looking up and wondering, “Hey, where’s everyone going?”

Breathe, breathe, breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Push it aside. Reach for the rope. Breathe.

You can just brush your fingertips against it, feel the grip-worn fuzz. Breathe. It’s there. Breathe. You can reach it and if you can bring it back, you won’t fall off the branch you’ve climbed up to, and you can get both hands around it, and take another breath.

And then you can jump up, stand on the football-sized knot at its end and swing down in a fast, hard arc, ears full of wind-rush and eyes full of wind-tears – breathe, man – and …

Push aside thoughts of the mail – was that another alimony bill? Another summons? Another bill from the “dopest attorney in Los Angeles?” Breathe, push it back, BREATHE, SHITHEAD.

Breathe, already. Breathe.

… and the rope’s still there. And you’re still moving down and the G-force almost drags you off the rope, then up and up – faster, godlike now, and Chank hoots his faint, echoing approval from the hill behind you, and the rope reaches the peak of its swing, and …

Goddammit, where are those chime things?

He flipped his eyes open, the moment almost shattered.

There, in his hands, bound together by a rough rawhide thong. There.

He snapped his eyes shut again, and breathed because that’s what his sponsor said would help with the meditation, which was crucial, which was the key to recovery, which had better bloody work because god knows everything else seemed to be fucking failing.

So he breathed. And when he struck them together, they sang a clean, glassy tone that faded too fast.



He struck them together again.

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