Protean, ´09

There´s this quotation from an anonymous Vietnam veteran, I don´t remember the exact words but it goes something like this:

“When I think back to my time in Vietnam I often find myself wishing I could be back there again, at least so I´d be wishing I could be back here once more.”

It is one of the most powerful sentences I have ever read:
I often find myself thinking about it late at night, or in any given Sunday afternoon, lying down on the bedroom floor, legs bent over the bed, eyes fixed past a point in infinity just clear off non-existent cobwebs but only in my mind´s eye, then counting crack after crack at the ceiling up until that very sum yields off to zero.

It got me through College, you know? When the world got all pitch-black and piping-hot, thinking of that quote got me through College.
I mean, that, and also that day we were crossing the street after lunch and you told me why drop out if we were halfway through...?
But I´m repeating myself. How many times have I told you this story here?

Cobwebs then cracks, baby. Though the opposite also applies.

Each raindrop is a dagger and each dagger glisten in gold under the mighty sodium vapor lighting through the avenue but boy is it really sodium vapor or am I misremembering my Google? And who can ever count either raindrops or daggers amidst a thunderstorm—Yet I sort of try not to pay any attention to that—This is like ten, ten-thirty p.m. and I´ve been jogging in the rain for half an hour by then so I´ve pretty much passed all the drenching and soaking stages to the point I´m a f*cking Greek nymph in a t-shirt and an old backpack, also drenched, also soaked.

I´m Proteus, I´ve just decided: Grander than fire and malleable as the water pouring down from the reddened sky above, and just like Proteus I´m a phantom, a wraith, an apparition living in an apartment with barely any furniture in it, quasi-frat house in its simplicity but no, no sh*t, not if you think about it:

Know who´s my interior designer?
That´s Hank Hall, baby. Hawk Hank Hall from the comics, from the early ´90s Kesell/Liefeld mini-series: Hank Hall in all his frat-boy, quarterback good looks in those first two, three pages scrambling off his dorm room with barely any furniture in it, then on to fighting bank robbers or something with a magic word: “Hawk”.
--I mean, guy had just lost his brother in the Crisis and fought with the Contras for the Reagan administration in Nicaragua with the Suicide Squad: “Hawk”. I just loved the way his dorm room looked when I was a kid.

So this is me: “Hawk”, I´m telling myself drenched under the rain, the little dream-radio in the back of my head momentarily replacing all fear from getting sick from all the rat piss and pigeon crap and mounts of garbage coasting over the flash-floods from overflown sewer drainings, down the street against my battered Bowerman series Nikes, for some Bob Seger song or another: “Hawk, f*ck god-dammit,” I´m thinking over the Seger. I´m like Shazam without the muscles, stamina or the courage, and a Khaji Dha sans the cool-blue chainmail. And Hawk sans the red scalloped cape and the frat-boy good looks.

Yet I never really run out of magic words, nor of shapes to change from and into:
I only run, period.

“Don´t you ever run out of lines that that?,” this girl is asking me on some Sunday afternoon or another as whatever it it she was wearing starts getting scattered over the bedroom floor. “I mean it must be always the same with you, right? Bring a girl over, whisper all this stuff in her ear, get her somewhere fancy to eat, get her to bed.”

“Jesus baby,” I whisper as I nibble the back of her ear. “Just look around this place willya? Barely any furniture in it, god dammit if there´s ever any feminine presence in my life!”

“You know,” she moans. “You´re quite a terrible person.”

“Not me I´m not,” more nibbling ensues, now at her earlobe. “But my interior designer must be.” Of course it´s the second time I have to go over the script that week, with a second girl.

Either before all that or afterwards, or even halfway through:

Lying down on the grass at the park at noon, shirt off, Nikes off, headphones on listening to some Bob Seger song on the radio and staring at this amazing sun with my eyes closed, drenched in summer and soaking in the same sunlight clearing away the last dewdrops from the cobwebs in my mind- - here´s thinking of what the Vietnam vet said, then wishing I could be somewhere else entirely, maybe crossing that street with you by my side, ten years ago when the world got pitch-black and piping-hot, at least so I could be wishing I could be back here again.

And then, out of the blue, a smile:
Ever beat the devil at His own game? It is that easy.