Happy Friday, Covid survivor. Today is the first day of the rest of our self-isolation, which hopefully won’t last the rest of our lives. To distract you from the pub you can’t patronize, here’s the first half of the 2nd chapter of my self-published, barely-read, mediocre novel from the late 90s/early 2000s called “The Suburbs of Babylon.” Is it worth a read? If you’ve nothing better to do, then yes.
‘Jayne says, ‘I ain’t never been in love. I don’t know what it is.’—Jayne’s Addiction
In The Afterglow
Dwindling star-rain, showers of fresh intimacies
Thrumming like electricity.
Sparks of laughter in a sightless cell,
Respite from solitary. The prison of Time.
It falls away as sand escaping,
Skating off my clumsy body
Or shimmering mercury frustrating my palm.
What swelled in a lungful of joy
Vanishes without exhalation.
No denouement, no exultation
And all I have is the smell of your skin on my hands,
A fading image like disappearing ink, like
The woman I love is unbearable. Her name is Jane. I am completely enslaved to her. It must say something about me because she is completely unworthy of it. In any case every single thing I do in life is an effort either to worship her or escape her, as she does not love me. She cannot love me, as she is unable to love. She is an orphan, like me. Having been abandoned by everyone who ever could have taught her love, she has grown up without a heart. Which is why, I suppose, I am drawn to her, trying in vain to heal her, or heal what I believe is ailing me. . .
For a year now, Jane and I have fallen in and out of something—for me it is singular, for her it changes depending on what she’s trying to convince herself. She has spent months at a time with me, the bliss and friendship and laughter and intimacy reaching ecstatic proportions. Yet each time it crumbles in a matter of moments, usually after a night of drunken abandon in which she accidentally glimpses a bit of what is inside her, the dark truths she cannot bring herself to face. It is then that she becomes cold, rescinds every mention of me and runs off to someplace I can never follow. But that’s alright, because I will always be there for her when she returns. She is drowning herself, and I am dying trying to save her. Co-dependence, the clinical term. It is my own form of self-abuse.
Needless to say, this is a serious matter. I feel my soul decaying a little each day. I am trying so hard to walk away from her, but I am inextricably bound. I am embalmed in her. Mummified in her arms.
When she makes love, it is for recreation only. I had often had visions of volleyball while being intimate with her. Her affection is boundless for precious moments, carefully calculated and dispersed by her as if she were my pusher and I the addict, and she gives me just enough to keep me around. It lingers in the air between us, sometimes in just a smile or a shine in her eyes, and then it’s gone in an instant and she becomes a hurting and hateful soul. As long as I have known her I have lived two lives: the one where in her arms I am complete in the world, and the one where I walk in death without her.
She has tried to kill herself twice in my presence, and both times I have stopped her. Once she locked herself in my bathroom and tried to cut her wrists. But I kicked the door in before she could free the blade from my razor. I knocked her down and sat on top of her until she regained her senses. The second time she tried to throw herself off the top of a parking structure. I wrapped my arms and legs around her and held on for about an hour. It was exhausting.
I surmise her self-hate comes from her inability to love and her perceived inability to be loved. Which I suppose is why I love her so faithfully, and why she is torn between adoring me and despising me. She has given herself to me as much as she can. I am her best friend, if she has any, and come the closest of anyone to being loved by her. But it is the shadow of a broken promise with her, a memory she has of what love should have been, when she was a child, and what is now twisted into fear and a hatred of the longing she feels. She could face this terror, with the questions that haunt her: Why did my parents desert me? Why am I unable to love? Why am I unlovable? Instead she runs, to whiskey, crystal meth, and the beds of every stranger she meets. She takes all comers. She says she’s looking for love, but I think she is punishing herself for being loathsome. Each time I tell her I love her she hates me more. Why should I of all people care for her? I must be a fool. But the hope that it could be real keeps her close, and so we play this sick-sweet game, bound to each other and sinking together. It will end when she destroys herself—which she is given to trying from time to time—or when she destroys me. I’m betting on the latter.
I find myself coveting her ability to roll a stone over her heart, shutting out the light and replacing it with cold hate. I long to protect myself in such ways, as so many people do. Fear causes the emotions to remiss, heart to fold, no vulnerability. And it’s unconscious. They don’t even know it’s happening. One minute, there is the risk of love. The next, there is nothing. And people like me, with heart on sleeve, are left shocked and alone.
Jane has left. Like so many times before. She will be back, just in time to pick me up out of the earth, just long enough to reopen the wounds, hers and mine, back from seeking the love of others to settle grimly for me once more, only to grow restless and leave again. I long to get away but lack the courage and the method. So instead, I fall into darkness, clinging to self-help catch phrases but slipping further and farther into a bottomless pit.
For this reason I have secured a seemingly endless parade of meaningless women with which to saturate my days in a frenzy of force-fed trysts and contrived romance. I am looking to them for what I have in Jane, the quickened pulse, but it is a useless endeavor. I am impotent of heart. Completely without fancy. I fill my head with words about the women I suck into my eyes, hoping I can talk myself into wanting one. But all I’m really gaining are a few precious moments, another day of survival—my mind bogged down in a feminine mist, an alcoholic haze over a world slick with sorrow. This gives way to another ultimate irony: how in the grip of despair, I find my thoughts turning time and again to Jane and so try even harder to nullify my love and erase my heart. As she searches for hers. I convince myself that debauchery is the only avenue for release. Love must be destroyed by sin. The girl must be made to pay. Heart to stone.
The words are of course the last rationalizations of a pitiful man who is grasping at the corner of a disappearing comfort; juggling blame, mixing the pieces of the story just so, sitting back and admiring the false truth of my constructed reality. In truth, something should be said about what it is in me that seeks Jane’s pain; why I keep asking for more. I should, in the interest of health, stop and ask myself why I am not worthy of someone better. . .
But instead I say the words to myself. She is bad, I am right. She is broken, I am sane. . .”
It’s hard to re-read this, 20 years afterward and with the carnal knowledge of Thailand and the afterglow of my harem still lingering in my loins. Sure, it’s mostly fiction, but there’s enough truth in this pathetic recounting of my life as a spineless simp attached to a super-hot, horrible succubus whose pussy sucked my bank account and self-esteem dry. Had I not escaped that life and found paradise on Earth in TLOS, who knows if I’d even be alive today. So cheers to Thailand, to my harem, those six sex therapists that heal me every day. And cheers to that past despair, without which I wouldn’t value my present state nearly as dearly. Tune in next Friday for part 2 of chapter 2 if you’ve nothing better to do, and lets raise a glass to Thailand. With all its flaws and in spite of its retarded leadership, it still shines as a light of freedom for men worldwide.