Every day has its own flavor, its own scent of either destruction, joyous victory, mundane peace or various shades of shame, disgrace, loss and horror along the way. Picasso had his blue period. Joni had her jazz fixation, Dylan did Christianity, and Hunter S Thompson went on a political kick. Shakespeare did tragedy, Burroughs travelled the interzone. I do survival. I feel like a bellwether, a sheep slightly away from the flock, trusted with a bell round my neck only to find the only ones following me are the wolves and coyotes. Good job I am a cat in sheep’s clothing. If I was really a sheep I would be fucked.
I don’t trust the day. When the light comes up so does the possibility of disaster, horror and interlopers shattering whatever fragile peace I have managed to claw back from the previous hours and minutes of destructo-mayhem that have threatened to take time down to its building blocks and leave me standing in the midst of the rubble, covered in detritus and wondering just how the hell I am going to rebuild this time. I am no little piggy, I don’t go rebuilding houses that wolves have blown down. Instead I move on to the next lake, the next camp, the next stop along the road and hope the predators have lost my scent, except I can’t move on anymore. I had to stop a while. My wings got clipped, which sounds ridiculous. Cats in sheep’s clothing don’t have wings, or if we do, we hide them well. It doesn’t do any good to let the wolves know we have an escape plan.
The Doorman shifted from his post by the Batcave, shuffling from foot to stump and back again in an effort to take some of the weight off from his bad side onto his good. The Doorman was always good at listening to my rants. He would let me talk, only offering a slight murmur of agreement or careful questioning eyebrow lifting, and I would stand there coveting his buckets and mops and ability to clean up messes. My life was always a mess.
The mission was a mess too, however clean the floors were. That is what happens when you let normal people loose on an abnormal situation. They cannot comprehend it, they fail to understand what they have there or the quality of the problems that play out before them. They never want to listen, and rarely come close to understanding. The Blonde was selling pills to other denizens to fund her meth habit. I swear the head honcho was in on it. “I bet the bitch is getting a cut.” Now the suggestion that the house leader, the boots on the ground for The Mission bigwigs might be in on the pill and powder action was dangerous talk. It was Big Talk. It was gossip. I am not above gossip, and Doorkeepers are also the guardians of the best gossip in the joint, but gossip is dangerous business out there in the world of real people. Doorkeepers know some things, they know who just came into a bit of cash, who is on the shit, and who is off it. They know who is holding the bottle and where they hid it in the bushes outside. They know who is selling, who is stealing, who is buying, what the games are, and who are playing them.
The Doorkeeper was notoriously tightlipped. “Tiger boy had a new chew toy for that dog of his. New jacket too. I think his sister sent him some cash.” I nodded disinterestedly. “I would like to ask her what the real story is,” he carried on. “That kid had people who loved him at one point. They cared about him. You can see it in how he deals with people. Did you see him help Old Tom at breakfast? Got him his food, cut it up for him, sat and talked to the old coot.” He was right of course. Some of the boys were as mean as rattle snakes and more prone to random attacks. No one had loved them for a long while, perhaps ever. They were so desperate for love they looked for it in all the wrong places. They play the idiot cards, trying to fill holes with booze and potions, bars and gambling, petty crime and heavy partying. They are the lost boys, and lost boys are a dime a dozen on the street. As soon as one batch dies in a ditch, goes to jail, overdoses or simply gets lost out there and disappears, another batch is ready to fly the coop and see just how fucked up things can get with enough effort to get up there on that snake ready to slide down the board. Trouble is there is rarely a ladder when they need one.
I moved away slowly. All I needed was a door to close, just for a moment. A moment alone. A second without anyone else watching me, talking to me, interacting with me…following me. Even in the bathroom there were large gaps in the door, there to discourage drug use and fucking. It would have to do. I squeezed myself into the stall, calculating how much of me could be seen from the outside and worked out if I sat on the toilet seat and drew up her legs, not much of me could be seen. It would have to be enough. The action of closing the door felt like safety. My chest eased up and my breathing slowed down. Possibly, just possibly I might live. I might lose the herd. I might get to be a lone cat slinking down the road, dragging my cubs behind me.
In the distance a woman was shouting at the Doorman. She was trying to find her guy, a man she called “Maverick”. He owed her twenty bucks and she needed him to pay up. She was threatening to break noses, smash heads in and teach various lessons. The peace and quiet was over. Reluctantly, and wishing I had a cigarette, I opened the door and walked outside. “OK, motherfuckers! What now!” One of the agents of Yahweh and Son glared in my general direction…”Language! Can you go see what the matter is?”
The matter was that everything was the matter. Nothing was cool. Nothing was good. Nothing was fine. Not for the Mission Corp, not for the Doorman, not for me and not for the rest of the world struggling for a roof, a meal and a shower. Things were not cool for Maverick. Things were not cool for the twenty dollar woman. Things were not cool at all.