Tweed and Metal

It plays, because it plays. The "because" withers away in the play. The play is without "why." -Martin Heidegger

On the cusp one must be ready to fall

The challenge for quite sometime has been finding work that I find meaningful or fulfilling in some way. Rockwell is about as fulfilling as a bag of potato chips in a famished stomach. It’s just sort of there, and my hands just get dirty.

  I’m not sure why it has been so difficult for me to accomplish this goal. Maybe for so long I lacked direction. Maybe it was being preoccupied with school. Maybe it’s been that once some doors opened, the possibilities have been overwhelming, and I just haven’t known where to begin. My parents are quick to blame the past. In compensation, I guess, I’m often quick to blame myself. How about all of the above?

  The other morning, I was walking with Susan. We were talking about possible leads: a training manager at Jimmy Johns, Developmental Instructor with disabled kids, and others. Leads/openings/possibilities, but nothing quite that fit I’m looking for. She said to me something I’ve been saying to myself when I despair. “You’re on the cusp of something great”.

    It’s nice to hear someone else say it. Afterall, chanting something in your own head that only you believe is, I think, a textbook definition of insanity.

    Within three days we: frequented neighborhood bars in Louisville, lake swam, stopped by Buffalo Trace distillery, saw multiple fireworks shows, hit one national park, a national historic site, camped, drank and laughed with friends around a fire.

Caroline wears the bomber jacket her younger brother, Jed gave as a wedding present. An apprenticing tailor, he spent his off hours hammering away at leather: boots, gloves, and jackets for the discerning privateer with a streak of flamboyancy.  On the inside are maps of the Aurelian Belt, a throwback to the days of the first pilots who set out with eyes and jaw a’ clenched into the ruthless new territory. It is the only item she has of Jed.

   Shackles slammed shut. Driven deep into the salts mines of Tiluthia itself, where the pressure and simmering heat of the earth bubble up and the sweat pools below. Months later he would collapse, and the work would continue around his lifeless body.

    Caroline does not know the specifics, but she is well aware that he is gone. A piece torn from her replaced with tear soaked incantations croaked deep in the night. She dreams of strolling across corpses to stand before the Autarch, shackled within his own devil’s guts, on his knees, and perfectly emasculated. For now, she is perfectly fine hitting him where he is most sensitive, his wallet.

1.

The town of Arapoh lies along the Sitka river that slices a deep valley between the immense Bear Tooth and Chugach mountain ranges. Perpetually looming over the town, they swaddle it in complete darkness through winter. The sun barely rising above the horizon, let alone mustering the strength to hurl its rays over the towering granite walls formed from the buckling of the earth. It is rare to meet a native, most having meandered in for reasons that are spoken in hushed tones that fill the taverns, often no larger than closets or hallways. Fishermen will not disclose their favorite holes, or predictions on the next Coho run. Hunters much the same.

    Down  where the Spit juts into Resurrection bay, where the wind is perpetual and cold after cutting across the Denali icefield, lies Frontier Combat Arts. Owned and operated by a man named Judas  who can often be seen wearing maroon sweatpants stained with paint, a hacked off faded t-shirt, and neon green flippy-floppies bandaged together with duct tape. The gym is a venture he put together after winning enough purses on the amateur bare knuckle boxing circuit. A favorite pastime for residents that filled bars around the domain with howls and shouts. His face told the story. A crooked nose he refused to straighten, any softness pounded away over the months of punishment, but he could not walk into a bar without a free drink. That’s how it is in Arapoh, standing out will wear anything down, but that is the price to pay for glimpsing the sun.

Cameron “flex” slugs at Judas’  focus mits preparing for his own fight next week. They hit with the satisfying pop of dried wood. Judas speeds up and begins to switch patterns. Back and forth they go. Then Judas bops him in the top of his head. Cameron misses again, Judas hits his head again, and stops him “You must stop trying to anticipate. A million rights is not an indication of a left. You must accept the reality that you are always and only reacting. Again. Let’s go.”

Three swollen men walk into the gym. The tallest among them, built like a healthy viking, folds his arms and watches. No words uttered. Impenetrable sunglasses remain in place.

    Judas has Cameron work on the heavy-bag, and already knows that these are the contractors brought in to keep calm for the Coho run. Last year being the first year summer nights were punctured by rifle fire. Wellington introduces himself and shakes Judas’ hand, which is flawlessly manicured, and asks for space to work out while on the contract.

    “It ain’t much, but it should work for you fellas.” Judas says putting a wad of tobacco in his lip. Worn out quad tires still caked with mud are strung up between the heavy bags bandaged by duct tape. In another room lie piles of weights, a bench, bar and dumbbells. To Wellington it smells of dirty feet and feels that everything is covered in dust. It’s the most ramshackle gym he’s ever seen in his travels. No belts, trophies or accolades are hung on the wall. Wellington figures Judas to be nothing but a charlatan.

    “When did you open this place?” Wellington asks, hands on hips and gazing down on Judas.

    “A few years back.” He says shrugging. “I just like to tinker…Are you fellas wanting to workout with us, or alone?”

    “Alone” Wellington quips while walking away with his entourage.

    Judas turns to Cameron who is still pounding away on this bag. “Keep me in the loop on them, would ya?”

    Cameron nods.

    “They reek of rotting meat,” Judas says walking back to the weight room.

Strip it down. Lay it bare.

The town of Arapoh lies along the Sitka river that slices a deep valley between the immense Bear Tooth and Chugach mountain ranges that perpetually loom over the town, and swaddle it in complete darkness through winter. The sun barely rising above the horizon, let alone mustering the strength to hurl its rays over the towering granite walls formed from the buckling of the earth. It is rare to meet a native, most having meandered in for reasons that are spoken in hushed tones that fill the taverns, often no larger than closets or hallways. Fishermen will not disclose their favorite holes, or predictions on the next Coho run. Hunters much the same.

    Down  where the Spit juts into Resurrection bay, where the wind is perpetual and cold after cutting across the Denali icefield, lies Frontier Combat Arts owned and operated by a man who can be seen wearing maroon sweatpants stained with paint, a hacked off faded t-shirt, and neon green “flippy-floppies” bandaged together with duct tape. The gym, a venture he put together after winning enough purses on the underground bareknuckle boxing circuit that filled bars around the domain with howls and shouts. His face told the story. A crooked nose he refused to straighten, all softness pounded away over the months of punishment, anything that stands out here will be worn down to nothing, even those titan mounds of granite that mock the sun.

I wouldn’t be half the person I am without him. I wouldn’t be half the person I am with him.     Honor is Everything.

I wouldn’t be half the person I am without him. I wouldn’t be half the person I am with him.
 
   Honor is Everything.

I’m alive.

   I haven’t been writing much, because there just isn’t time. I’ve reached that strange point in life where I’m cutting out anything that I feel does not contribute towards my goals. Writing is debatable at times, playing with dogs is not. 

    Currently I work two jobs, volunteer at a food pantry, and tutor two gentleman from Korea in English. I wear a lot of hats through the week, and I wear them very well. Saturdays are spent grilling, and Sundays are generally spent in church. I hustle, drink a lot of great coffee, and am zeroed in on my goals like one of Chris Kyle’s very own tack-drivers.

   This summer…I plan to explore the North,ride in a Ferrari 458 with my sister around a track, be a groomsman in a wedding for a buddy that I knew for only three months.

   My life, up close it’s tiring, but when I back up a bit I remember that it’s Charmed.

   Charmed.

    Today I spent most of the day meandering around and talking to my regulars at different spots. It was nice to be away from the patriotic barrage that everyone throws on facebook, or our lawn. I don’t argue it, one doesn’t do that, but I don’t partake. He was not a soldier that happened to be my brother He was my brother that happened to be a soldier.

    I didn’t spend the entire day remembering. Instead, I focused on what I  managed to accomplish in seven years. For instance, I would never have dreamed of sitting and having a beer by myself years ago. These days about the only thing that would make me uncomfortable is open gunfire…or bees.  I haven’t just grown up. I’ve blown up. 

    Tomorrow, I will wake up in the morning knowing that my work is not yet finished. On my shoulder there will be my brother whispering an infantryman’s wisdom into my ear “Forward”.

On April 16th this year I will look at the same front door at the same time, and head to the same job at the same time as exactly 7 years ago. That will make one quarter of my life thus far.

I guess you could say things feel a bit strange.

You know, the whole idea of Vladimir Putin just blows my mind. Really. A KGB Colonel, Judo blackbelt that Tranqs tigers in his spare time, has effectively taken over fucking RUSSIA.

  No Hollywood writer can make that up. It’s hilarious.

  …but also mortifying.