I’m driving a 1983 Mercury Grand Marquis. It’s not mine. I have a .380 under the seat and a lot of meth-amphetamines. Those aren’t mine either I swear. I’m driving to Houston from Lufkin and it’s a long drive. I don’t give a single thought to the consequences of being pulled over with these things in the car. It’s 11pm and I’ve been up for 3 days. It’s raining like it can only rain in Southeast Texas. I can’t see the lines on the road and I’m hallucinating.
I don’t know anything about Nick Cave’s anger. But I do know that this song makes me think about how angry I was years ago. I am so far from that anger now that I don’t know what it feels like. Listening to this song is like watching a movie. Watching a movie about someone I used to be. And certainly it’s a work of fiction. There are so many shades of reality that I have no idea which order anything came in. I don’t know what’s true in its entirety. Don’t ask me to testify under oath because I’ll only tell you what I believe happened.
From 8th grade all the way through high school, all I talked about was being a writer. Even when I dropped out of high school, the first claim I made was that I was just going to write a book. There won’t be one person I know from high school that didn’t know that about me. No one would have guessed that I would have gone to a music school for college. I played guitar and I played in punk bands and garage bands… I was really passionate about music. But I knew I wanted to be a writer. Teachers supported me in this aspiration. I wrote well. Although my mother’s first response was, “Well you better figure out a way to put bread on the table!”
All writers seem to have a need to write a coming of age story before they write anything else. I have suffered over how I would approach this for years. I don’t remember enough about what happened to create anything cohesive around a narrative. It’s just a bunch of anecdotes. And then a good deal of it I don’t believe and I can’t create characters that are dumb enough to live them. The stories tend to be believable only in a truly anecdotal sense. To tell the entire story of the weekend of New Year’s that I am leaving behind in Lufkin is ridiculously unbelievable. But I do even have myself believing that I am driving home in the rain completely out of my mind 14 days before my 16th birthday. So I guess I didn’t know this about this blog until just now, but I guess this is as close as I’ll ever come to that coming of age story. And maybe I am only coming of age right now, 5 days before my 38th birthday.
I have figured out how to put bread on the table I guess. I know a lot about the world that I was sure I wouldn’t live to learn. I’ve done everything the hard way. I can’t lean on any credentials. I didn’t stick with a hip scene to back me up when my credibility comes into question. And while Deanna won’t come out for two years after the anecdote in question, I feel like it tells the story of how I felt on New Year’s Day 1986 rather well. I am angry. I don’t know why. And I will make up any reasons or surround myself with the craziest situations just to explain that anger. Guns, drugs, money, cars, bizarre Texas towns, punk rock, skateboards, bikers, classic rock, music, weathermen, friends I call family, family I call enemies whether they are or not. None of it is believable. I don’t even ask myself to believe it. Especially with who I am now. It’s a work of fiction. I have talked to some of the character actors in this film and they remember it differently. They remember the normal days at my house with my consistent mother who worked her ass off.
“No carpet on the floor. And the winding cloth holds many moths.” I’m in a deranged 50’s do-whop song. “Around your Ku Klux furniture. I cum of death-head in your frock.” I’ve told so many stories that the stories started telling me. “We discuss the murder plan. We discuss murder and the murder act.” Am I real. This was a life I cannot dream. “Murder takes the wheel of your Cadillac. And death climbs in the back.” I really don’t know who I am anymore. It’s like at some point I crossed over the line and became a human experience. I should have gone the way of the dozens of senseless punk rock and classic rock biker deaths that surrounded us.
“We will eat out of their pantries
And their parlours
Ashy leaving in their beds
And we’ll unload into their heads”
Apparently Nick Cave should have gone there too. This song must be his fiction. His surrealist landscape. There’s all that over the top energy. He doesn’t want just acceptable. He wants raw. You wake up from 10 years of what really happened and this fiction seems way more believable than the truth. You wish it were the truth. You aren’t sure whether you should be grateful to be alive or just shoot yourself. I often think about people that are in their 50’s or 60’s who clean up for the first time and they have 45 years of broken lives and burned bridges behind them, and I wonder what their fiction is that gets them through the day. Because I wouldn’t wish that dawning sober realization on anyone. My advice, out of compassion, would truly be: “Man. Don’t do this to yourself. Take it to the grave.”
“Our little crimeworn histories
Black and smoking christmas trees
And honey, it ain’t mystery
Why you’re a mystery to me”
So I’ll tell my coming of age story in the seams of the soundtrack. Most of the soundtrack didn’t exist in my time, but it’s telling my story to me, because I don’t seem to be able to tell it properly. I’m walking backward through the village. My existence is questionable and my story is my truth whether it’s true of not.
I see the cop car behind me. It takes me about 20 seconds, or longer, to convince myself that it’s really there. I haven’t seen a car in an hour. I pull over. I am not panicked in this version of the story. How could I know how I felt? “And I ain’t down here for your money.” I was so high, I couldn’t feel my face. “I ain’t down here for your love.” The cop pulls up alongside the driver’s side of the car and rolls the passenger window down. “I ain’t down here for your love of money.” I roll down the driver’s side window. He yells to me over the storm, “Son I don’t want to get out and give you a ticket in this rain. And I REALLY don’t want to be scraping your ass off the pavement in the morning. So please. Slow down. I know it’s a highway, but 35 will do.” I drive away.
“I’m down here for your soul.”