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Twisting all the bad things into good

May 23, 2012

CHAPT:19.5 THE PATRON SAINT OF. . .WHATEVER. DOMINO EFFECT

   

       There are some nights I hold on to every note I ever wrote
       Some nights, I say "fuck it all" and stare at the calendar
       Waiting for catastrophes, imagine when they'd scare me
       Into changing whatever it is I am changing into...

       And you have every right to be scared.


        fun., Some Nights (Intro)

SATURDAY. 9/11/10

       It was getting old.
       One after the other, they just kept falling.
       I've seen it happen too many times.
       At the time, it seemed like the worst thing that ever happened.
       Now, I feel nothing.
       Maybe I've killed myself, on the inside.
       Back then, I felt everything.
       Now, I feel nothing.
      
       Everything get's overexposed.
  
       We do it to ourselves.
       Our favorite songs.
       Our favorite movies.
       Our favorite drugs.
       Our favorite whatever.

       The media does it to us.
       Scandals.
       Acts of God.
       Acts of terrorism.
       Acts of whatever.

       The good, the bad, it doesn't matter.
       Too much of anything is still too much.
       It no longer affects you the same way.
       For better or for worse.
       And then it's on to the next big thing.
       Life goes on.
       If you don't die, life goes on.
       If you do die, maybe life still goes on.
       And then it's on to the next big thing.
       For better or for worse.


       Before she hung up the phone, she told her son that he should thank God, that it was a miracle that he was not dead, that there must be a reason that he was still alive, that he must have a special purpose, as if it was only by divine intervention that he had been spared when so many others were not, as if his life was more important than theirs, as if their mothers did not pray for their sons, as if they did not have their own special purpose.
       He couldn't say, "Mom, I'm not special", before he said goodbye.  
       He no longer believed in miracles.
       An act of God was an insurance clause.
       Interventions were not divine.
       They were well designed confrontations.
       Elaborate set ups.
       Traps.
       An attempt to prevent the inevitable.

                   
       Speaking of disasters, Filip sits down next to me.
       "What's up, Filip?"
       "How did you know my name?"
       "That lady must have said it a hundred times trying to wake you up last night. What did you do, take a bunch of Xanax before you got here?"
       "Yeah. Seven."
       "Damn, bro. No wonder you wouldn't wake up. You were funny."
       "I was? What did I do?"
       "The paramedic chick said you if wouldn't talk to her, then you'd have to talk to the cops, and you said "fuck the cops and fuck you"."
       "The paramedics were here?"

        Sometimes, it's better to forget.

        Sometimes, you couldn't if you tried.
           
 
        It was almost that time.
        I don't know what to call it.
        It looks different to me.
        It's all black and white.
        Psychologists call it "splitting".
        Jeff called it "extreme".
        I call it "being me".
        For better or for worse.
        What do you call it?
        That time, when you can't distinguish day from night?
        The in between.
        The middle.
        A place I'd never been, or just never recognized when I was there.
        The part of the day when you still felt good about yourself, because you made it to the beach, because you got some sun.
       Those hours, before Saturday afternoon gave up the good fight, finally surrendering to Saturday night, the best night of the week, when most of the damage was done, when we would use the "get out of our heads card", back when there was a "middle", back when there was an "in between", back before the time of the day, or the night of the week had any hold over what we did, back before everywhere we went, back before everything we did, before every day, every night, had a dark cloud draped over a full moon, following us like some GPS we had either smoked, shot, snorted, or swallowed.

        Recalculating.

        And wherever we went, we were nowhere.
        And when we left, we were still there.
        And when we got home, we were still there.
        No matter where we went, there we were.
        Now here.
        Nowhere.

        There is no "in between", no "middle", not when you go nowhere.

        It only hurts when you know you should be "somewhere".

        Even if it was "in the middle".

        Even if it was "in between".

        It was not "nowhere".

        It was "somewhere".

     
        After a while, it was too much.
        I got up, and I changed the channel.
        Nobody said anything.
        They never did.
        I stopped changing channels when I got to Comedy Central.
        If they wouldn't talk, maybe they would laugh.
        I wondered how long the techs would allow a bunch of addicts to sit around and watch a stoner movie.
        Sparky and I laughed out loud, and even a few of the silent majority had smiles on their faces.
        In one of the early scenes, the head honcho of some hospital told Harold's homie that he was wasting his gift. Kumar replied, saying something about how if someone's hung like a Moose, it doesn't mean they should be doing porn.
        Sparky looked at me.
        "Alright, James," he said. "Weed and porn. This is your movie."

        This is my movie.

        My movie could have been so much better.

        Recalculating.

        After 36 hours, it occurred to me.  
        We're not here to get better.
        My mom asked me earlier, "Have they been helping you?"
        Without hesitation, without thinking of what she wanted to hear, I told the truth.
        "No, not at all."

        I had not learned anything about myself.
        The group therapy sessions and AA Meetings were nothing but a break from watching tv, playing dominoes and discussing our drugs of choice, which most of us would inevitably be returning to within hours of our release.
        That's why Loretta's been here three times in the last month.
        Each time, she's released from this place, having found no solutions that could not be measured in milligrams, no better than when she arrived, back to that place where she had been convinced that she was more than just disturbed and nothing less than possessed by the devil, a delusion not brought on by drugs or insomnia.

       We weren't here to get better.
       We were lunatics, taken off the streets long enough to postpone the inevitable.

       We were a bunch of atheists in church.
       I looked around this cracked out South County Congregation.
       I had been dragged here, by friends and family, wanting me to see the truth, when all I saw was lies. I was making the most of it, like some ornery kid at church, ignoring the real reason why he was there, while some people, like Sparky, were only there for some temporary shelter, needing somewhere to hide, knowing that a storm was on it's way.

       It would not last.

       It was not a time or place for saints.

       It was Saturday night.

       Another Saturday night would come, when nobody was around, no parents, no techs, no one to tell us it was time for bed, no "lights out", no matter how dark the place may be where we found ourselves.
       We'd break the laws of man and the laws of God.
       At the same time.
       We'd be there, and we'd be nowhere.
       At the same time.

       Recalculating.
      
       Is anybody getting anything out of this?
       Anyone?
       I looked around.
       The people running this service, they were good people.
       They knew we could not be healed.
       We were wasting time, waiting to sin again.
       Just not today.
       Today was about waiting.
       Waiting for the world to start up again.
       As if it had stopped turning without us.
       I wonder how many people here were missed by anyone.
       I wonder if anyone even knew they were here.
       If anyone even cared.
       Jesus' sister did not seem concerned.
       I had my parents.
       I had my best friend.
       I received more incoming calls than everyone else combined.
       I was the only one who had a chance.
   

       I was not the only one who noticed that Viv the Voice had fallen in love with Filip.
       Falling in love was not a feeling I related to, but I wasn't against it.
       The thing that sucked about this was that it meant Viv went everywhere Filip went, which was wherever the rest of us went.
       Viv's voice made me miss the voices in my head.
       Sparky decided to plan their wedding for them. It was going to be held on the roof and everyone would have their D.O.C. delivered.
        Nobody hesitated, not for a second, when it came time to place their order. Ken wanted some ecstasy, Sparky and DJ wanted some "jimmy", Monica preferred the powder form, and what scared me most was that Loretta did not partake in drugs, a sign that her brand of madness was not drug induced.
        When my time came to choose, I hesitated.
        I was torn.
        Not knowing whether I wanted pills, weed, or booze, I settled for the booze, thinking and hoping it would be enough to get me through the night, and at the same time, knowing and fearing that it would only increase my appetite for everything else that I knew was at the party.
       I ignored the fact that, eventually, at this imaginary party, I would want what I knew was in the pockets of everyone around me, the pills, the powder, the pot, the whatever would get me high.

      But that was just fiction.

      That was just a game we played to pass the time.

     
       "James has obviously played this game a few times in his life."
       Sparky was right.
       He said that because I always held seven in my hand, something he perceived as skill, while everyone else stood theirs up, knowing they were going to lose, just wanting to play along, passing the time, accepting defeat as part of the game.

       It was almost like they had given up.

       As I distributed the dominoes to start what would be the last game of the night, I told a story I had not thought about in years.
       I laughed out loud, to myself.
       "When I was in college, this one summer we were running dominoes pretty much every night. We'd be smoking weed, drinking forties, listening to Tupac, like we were in some hood movie. My girlfriend was bitching to her friend about how every time she called I'd be playing dominoes, and, for some reason, her girlfriend thought that was sooooo funny. So one night I told them to come over because I had a bunch of people there and not everyone was playing so they could still chill or do whatever, so they get to my house and I'm getting ready to slap down my shit and yell "DOMINO, MOTHA FUCKA!", and her moron friend looks at us all weird when she sees us playing like it's a card game. When my girlfriend told her we were playing dominoes, she thought we were all hanging out, getting all fucked up, lining up dominoes just so we could knock them down like it was Mousetrap or some shit. Can you imagine a bunch of dudes hanging out, smoking blunts, drinking, setting up dominoes, watching them drop, high fiving each other?"

       Like any funny story, we laughed, until it wasn't funny anymore.

       Recalculating.


May 21, 2012

CHAPTER 21. THE PATRON SAINT OF . . . WHATEVER: Strung Out Second Stringers



 So Sunday sat in the Saturday sun
 And wept for a day gone by. 
 Nick Drake, Saturday Sun
  

 SUNDAY. 9/12/10

        I wouldn't go so far as to call it a "Sunday Funday".
        If I were a girl or a gay guy, I might have.
        It was the best Sunday I had in a while.
        Compared to the previous, this Sunday was the Rehab pool party at the Hard Rock in Vegas.
     

        And so it began, week one of a brand new season.    
        The early game was over. I didn't even realize it started.
   
        Big Boy came into the rec room, letting Herb know Miami started the 2010 season with a win. Even after 22 years in South Florida, I still never gave a shit about the Dolphins. When I asked if Philly won, Big Boy said they were about to play the Packers in the 4:15 game, dropping me a hint, mentioning it was being televised.
       "Nice. Let's put it on."
       Herb shrugged his shoulders and Big Boy smiled, both techs indicating that it would have to be me who changed the channel, something they both clearly wanted me to do.
 
       
       I walked to the tv, where what seemed like a week long marathon of Law and Order SVU continued to play. I thought maybe the game would provide a better atmosphere than nonstop sex crimes. I thought some Vince Lombardi bullshit might win them over.
       "Alright, whose ready for some football?"
       Nobody.
       "Come on, who doesn't like football?"
       Everybody.
       If this was a prison rec room, I'd already be dead.
       If not dead, bleeding from the ass in the prison's special victim's unit.
       It's clear that this team is going nowhere.
       I dropped the enthusiasm, which on the tech's chart was probably referred to as "hypomania".
       "Well, does anyone mind if I put the game on?"  
      
       Big Boy took the spot next to me on the couch. We watched the game and talked football like we were friends. All we needed were wings and beer. Wings for Big Boy, beer for me.

       A few of my teammates expressed their disapproval at me changing the channel by heading to their rooms for a nap.
       I didn't care.
       By this time tomorrow, I shall be released.
       A free agent.
      
       My expectations for the season ahead were mediocre at best. This was going to be a year of rebuilding. The face of the franchise was gone. There would be new names, new faces, and a whole new defensive scheme.
       The future face of the franchise was an unproven quarterback, finally being given his chance to prove himself to be a starter.
       I never believed in him. I was not impressed by what I had seen.
       By halftime, the Eagles new starting quarterback went down with an injury.
      
       The time had come for a former superstar who had become a cautionary tale to be given his second chance.       
   
       Not everyone loves a comeback.
       That didn't stop him from going on to have his best season, and being awarded the Comeback Player of the Year.
       He was on my team, so it  was easy to forgive the unforgivable.
       If he had been a Cowboy or a Giant, it would be a different story.
       He would have always been one of the bad guys.

       Even though the good guys came up short on that particular Sunday, the season ahead showed promise.
       I had something to look forward to once I arrived in my new city, in my new life, where there was less than little to look forward to. At least on any given Sunday, I might be able to claim an Eagles victory as my own, wearing a jersey with someone else's name on it, someone who would never know my name or recognize me as anything more than just another painted face in the crowd, seeking justification for my vicarious existence.
       And that would be the best day of my week.
       That would be my "Sunday Funday".

       That would be a change from the feeling that overshadowed anything I ever did on Sundays. No matter what a good time I would be having, in the back of my mind I dreaded what was ahead.
       Mondays were even worse.
       Starting a whole new week, trying to shake off the mental and physical remnants of a rough weekend, having nothing to look forward to except the next one.
       Those were the worst days, trying to find a reason to make it through, looking for something to look forward to, anything to keep you sane until the next good time, when the next good time seemed so far away.



       After the Sun went down, Betsy showed up. This was a different Betsy from the one who I thought went to Vegas with me on Friday night, and then magically appeared in my room on Wednesday afternoon. This Betsy was a tech who was beginning her first shift since I had shown up. She looked to be in her mid twenties and some kind of Spanish. She was not as attractive, nor was she nearly as tall as Amazon, but much friendlier.

       Betsy joined in a conversation I was having with Herb, saying something laughable, like she was a Redskins fan or something. I don't remember what else we talked about, but somehow I must  have come off in a way that made me seem almost normal, or at least, just not as mentally disturbed as most of the people that she had seen come through this place.


       I was sitting on the couch, legs crossed knee over knee, like the kind of man who gets all giddy over a "Sunday Funday" when Betsy sat next to me.      
       "James."
       "Betsy."
       "What are you doing here?"
       "I've been asking myself the same thing. Basically, I was trying to get off painkillers, I had insomnia for months, then last Friday, I started hallucinating, on Wednesday I got Baker Acted and didn't realize I had been hallucinating until I woke up here Thursday morning."
       "What happened to your knee?"
       "Well, I thought I was fighting on a boat, but now I have no idea."
       "Do you want a bandage?"
       "I had one on there, but Brian said it needed some air if it was going to heal. And by the way, I normally don't dress like this. I probably have 20 pairs of jeans at home."
       "Are you a metrosexual, James?"
       "Am I a metrosexual? No, I just have a lot of clothes...and shoes. Probably more than most girls I know, but I don't do the manicure/pedicure thing, but that's probably only because I can't handle my nails being filed. I have been known to put on a clay mask on occasion, so, I don't know. "
       "That's so cool that you can admit that."
       "I guess. Maybe I've just been humbled by recent events."
       "Do I even want to know what you were doing before you got here?"
       "What do you mean?"
       "You said you normally don't dress like that, so I'm curious to know why you happened to be wearing Daisy Dukes when you got admitted."
       "You seriously thought I was actually walking around like this before I got here? These were jeans until the other day, but they were ripped from here to my ankle, so Brian convinced me to cut them off. He said I looked homeless, now I look like I hang out in truck stop bathrooms. So, no, I didn't dress like this on purpose."
       "Well, you have nice legs, James," she said before she stood and walked away.

      
       When Betsy took the smokers out for their last cigarettes of the night, I joined them.
       I always went outside during smoke breaks so I could walk around the small fenced courtyard to stretch my back. This time, it was to talk with Betsy.
       "How did you get here, James?"
       I thought I had already summed that up for her. Maybe she wanted the unabridged version of my story. I try not to talk about myself too much, but I figured I'd indulge her.
        "How did I get here? Wow. Well, during 4th of July weekend in, I guess it was 04, I dove into a pool and hit my head on the bottom, and then a few weeks later I started to..."
        "No. I mean who brought you here? A cop?"
        "Oh. Yeah."
        "Man or woman?"
        "I'm all man."
        "The cop."
        "He was a man too. I thought there was a black woman cop with a jheri curl in the passenger seat, but there wasn't. Just the guy."
        "What was his name?" she asked.
        "I don't remember his name. I was kind of out of my mind at the time. He was cool as shit though."
        "What department?"
        "Boca. What's with you and cops?"
        "I was married to a Boynton cop."
        "Oh, alright."
        "He told me he wanted to get a divorce by texting me."
        "He texted you that he wanted a divorce? Are you serious?"
        "Yup."
        "Damn. Even I'm not that shallow. I wouldn't do that to a girl I was dating, let alone someone I was married to. That's messed up."             
         "So what are you going to do when you get out of here, James?"
         "I have a court date on the 25th for my DUI, then I'm gonna move up around Philly where my family is. First thing I'm gonna do as soon as I get to my apartment is write down everything that I can remember about my hallucinations before I forget. I wish they'd let us have a pen and paper here, I would have been writing the whole time. I'm gonna write a book about everything that happened."
         Even though Betsy barely knew me, it was like she had known me for 25 years.
         "You know, James, it's one thing to talk about it, it's a whole other thing to do it."
         I assured her I would.
        

         Before lights out, I went up to the tech counter.
         "Betsy. I'm probably getting released tomorrow, so I just wanted to say goodbye."
         "Okay, James. Good luck up North. Stay clean."
         Again, I assured her I would.

         It's one thing to talk about it, it's another thing to do it.

         The story of my life.
       
         Sunday night lights.

         Out.


May 10, 2012

Things You Don't Talk About On Trains: A Not So Short Story About Karma


            
             I'm all alone with my deep thoughts
             I'm all alone with my heartache and my good intentions

             
I've got a sad song in my sweet heart
             And all I really ever need is some love and attention
                 GIRLSHELLHOLE RATRACE

 
      
      

        It came on like butterflies.


        I didn't believe it.
        I read it a second time.
        It was right there, on my computer, in a status update.
        Third time.
        But we had just talked.
        Fourth time.
        Everything seemed fine.
        Seventh time.
        How did this happen?
        Every time.
        Same thing.

        There was nothing wrong with my eyes, nothing besides the warm sting that came before the first tears since before I left Florida. I wiped them away with the back of my wrist before the few that got away could reach my cheeks. There was no way to wipe away the hollow feeling in my chest or the nauseous feeling in my stomach.

         It no longer felt like anything resembling butterflies.
         This feeling would have burnt butterflies alive,
         leaving nothing pretty in their place.

         This was not on the itinerary.    


        APRIL 8th, 2011

        I wasn't nervous.
        Not even a little.
        Not at all.

        Not until I got on the train.
       
        That day had potential to become more than a memory. It might end up a story that means everything to you, nothing to anyone else.
         But you tell it anyway.
         A story you can share, and still keep as your own.

        I was imagining an unlikely tale of all things good, from the once upon a time of departure all the way to the arrival at the happy ending.
        An epic romance movie, without tragedy, with nothing bad happening from opening to closing credits.
        I expected a belly full of beautiful butterflies once I saw her. I did not expect a head full of doubts ringing louder and maybe truer than any song on the My Life Is My Movie Mix.
        My IPOD was supposed to score this scene, opening credits in the foreground, and in the background, me staring out the window, like I'm contemplating where I've been or where I'm going.  A good enough actor doesn't need to think about anything, not the past, not the future, just about making the right face, the appearance of introspection being enough.
        What was not enough, was the volume turned to the top, a futile attempt at drowning out my inner dialogue, a script that I would not have written or approved, not if the lines were to be my own.

        That was the first time in two weeks I had any kind of feeling that did not walk hand in hand on some beach somewhere with unspoken thoughts about beginning what could be the last romance of your life. Two weeks earlier marked six months since I left Florida. That in itself didn't really mean much, except it was the same day I thought I was being rewarded for going those six months without relapsing on pills, which is not as difficult as it sounds if you don't have any money to buy drugs from the drug dealer you don't have.

        With no money, no dealer who accepts IOU's, and no friends that do not live in Florida, well, you do not do much besides trying not to think about the wasted life and the often wasted friends you left behind, so you waste a lot of time on FaceBook while you're wasting away in the basement of a Christian bookstore full of books you have no interest in wasting your time reading.

        You also use that time, not so much as recovery per se, but recovering the personality you left in 2005 around the same time you left your sense of humor at a pill mill in South Florida. You and two of your "friends" notice how much more entertaining you can be when you're not nodding off behind the wheel or at work. You start to believe that you're back to being sharper than you've never been, but your clever comments and pop culture insight does nothing for your social life that does not exist outside of a social network. So, you do what you can to sharpen your shit with the use of sexual innuendo when chatting a good game with a girl you know you won't be seeing anywhere not on your laptop, until maybe your 20 year high school reunion in 2014, and that's only if you'll be able to borrow enough money from your parents to cover your plane ticket.

        And then comes the day exactly six months from when you covered your face with your hoodie until you passed the Palm Beach County Line. That's when you're so bored you comment on the picture of a girl you have not seen or talked to or chatted with or texted or skyped or any other technology that did not exist when you saw her last, back when she was the girlfriend of one of the two best friends you've ever had.

        I commented on one of her pics, something about her looking like a model in some Louis Vuitton ad. It wasn't my best, but it did lead to her responding comment that, besides the first two words, went nothing like this: "Thank you. You're in Philly now, you should should jump on the train and come hook up with me two weeks from now on April 8th, oh and I don't snort blow like a goddamn hoover anymore, I don't even drink, so even if I say I don't mind, you won't feel comfortable drinking which should make things much less nerve wracking, oh, and don't forget your IPOD so you can do that really mature thing you've been doing your whole life where you think you're the star of what would be the most boring movie ever not made inside your own mind. Hmm, I just realized that April 8th is 2 weeks away, so I'll text you my number so we can talk on the phone tonight for the first time ever and let's see how quick witted you can be when you don't have more than three minutes to think of a clever comment, the kind that is actually spoken instead of typed like you've become so accustomed to over the last 180 days. Have you even spoken to a girl who is not a cousin since you got here, and I mean spoke to, not chatted with, because when I get home from some trendy SoHo hotspot around 11 I'm gonna call you, so you might want to prepare some notes and bullet point those things that you should put a bullet in your head for telling a girl on the first phone call or any that follow. Call you tonight. Have your notes ready in case I interrogate you about what you haven't been doing with your life for the last 120 months. Your good friend's ex, out."



        There was no time for notes. There was, but I was too busy multitasking between NetFlix and FaceBook. Even if I had managed my time management better, it wouldn't have helped. I didn't have any funny stories that didn't happen before the Increase of 05 when the doctor upped my Oxycodone from 10 milligrams to 30, and started prescribing me the Xanax I requested to help me get over my grandmothers death two years before she died. I think it was in early 05? Maybe it was late 06, or maybe that was when he added the liquid painkiller to the mix. I don't know. I can't remember. Probably because of the pills . . . and the liquid I washed them down with.

     
        When my phone rang, I saw her name on the screen, but I decided to take my chances and answer it anyway, like a man, a man who shares a futon with his teenage brother, the actual owner of the aforementioned futon that he allows his big brother to sleep on, but a man nonetheless, even if the only indicator of this arguable statement is his age.
        Whatever.
        That was like two weeks before we moved and my mommy and daddy let me have my own big boy room. It was so awesome!

        Luckily, even though she no longer blew lines of coke, that didn't mean she had any problem carrying the bulk of the conversation, which was fine with me, the guy trying to kick himself in the balls for not calling one of his friends on the other side of the world in Florida to remind him of even one story he could tell that did not end with him totaling a car, nodding off watching NetFlix, nodding off at work, getting fired, getting arrested for possession of pills, being involuntarily committed to a mental health facility's crisis stabilization unit for the dually diagnosed due to an insomnia induced psychotic episode, getting arrested for drunk driving, moving home with his parents, a Phillies win, or sharing a futon with a college kid.
               
        While she went on talking about whatever it was she was talking about, I put on my hoodie and crept through the house like some 35 year old high school freshman sneaking out of his house at not even midnight to talk to his little girlfriend. Once outside, it didn't take more than fifteen minutes to tell myself that I was probably going to suffer from hypothermia the next day, as in Saturday, as in right after midnight, as in like twenty minutes from when I stepped outside.

        That night, we talked for hours, at least an hour and a half.
        She told me how it was a good thing that I didn't marry the girlfriend I had back in the day because "those kids would have been smoking crack". I reminded my new little girlfriend on her high white horse that the last time we'd seen each other she was wearing a sarong and a bikini top at a party in South Beach that started at five . . . AM. 

        And as for all those secrets, the ones I planned to keep from any girl I might want to not abruptly end a conversation with, well, I found no reason to keep them anymore, handing them over like keys to a totaled black 2006 Mustang GT convertible with red leather interior and less than 17,863 miles on it. Those secrets were all I had, the only things that were truly my own, and within thirty minutes, they were hers to do what she wanted with, keep them to herself, post them as status updates for everyone to see. It was all up to her, and it was all of about seven seconds after we finally hung up when I admitted to myself that if pneumonia wasn't going to take my life, then this girl was going to take my name. My two years of virginity were also up for the taking, another shameful secret I had no shame telling her.

        On Monday, instead of studying for my upcoming Life Insurance exam during my fifteen minute breaks from smiling at her pics on FaceBook, I was checking the Cancer horoscope, fully aware that my birthday is in October. I knew she believed in that bullshit, so I knew she was doing the same, except the opposite. By Wednesday, we could admit to this silliness. We read articles to each other, giggling about Scorpios and Cancers being the most compatible of all the signs, both emotionally and sexually, just a cute little thing new couples do to raise expectations beyond realism.

        After two weeks of  texts that never stopped being sent and received except during our daily conversations that lasted longer than most epic movies, it was time to see each other. She kept telling me how nervous she was. She asked me if I was also.
        I wasn't nervous.
        I was confident. 
        Then I got on the train.

        This was not on the itinerary.

        Was I overdressed?
        Always.
        Have I ever been sober the first time I hooked up with a girl?
        If so, I may as well have been drunk because I can't remember. 
        Would I even know how to kiss a girl anymore?
        Sure, it just might take a minute.
        Would I still be amazing in bed?
        Yeah, sure, it just might take a minute . . . maybe less.
        I haven't had sex without being on painkillers in at least 5 years.
        What about sexual side effects from 6 months of antidepressants?
        Will having my serotonin uptake selectively inhibited negate all of that passionate Scorpio shit she's been reading to me before needing a change o' thong.
        I hope we're as compatible as our horoscopes said.
        Shit. I just realized my ex-girlfriend was also a Cancer.
        Didn't she say her ex-boyfriend was an investment banker?
        I don't even have a bank account.
              
        At the first stop, a guy in a black motorcycle jacket looking to be in his early thirties got on. He put his bag down and sat in the front row. I was in the second. The conductor took his six dollars and handed him a ticket. He started showing the conductor something on his itinerary, reminding me that, this being my first time taking the train, it would be a good idea to get an idea of when to expect my stop if I was going to keep my attempt at a soundtrack playing in the background of my self defeating thoughts.
        I took one of my earphones out to hear the conductor answering the same question I was about to ask.
        "Market East is about fifty five minutes."
        "How about Suburban?" I asked.
        "Suburban is the next stop after Market East," answered the conductor.
        I thanked the conductor, and then to the guy, I said, "Nice to know I won't miss my stop now, after you get off, I'll know mine's next", before putting my earphone back in before he could respond.

        I didn't talk to strangers, unless I had a few drinks.
        I had gotten content being alone with my thoughts and my music.
       
        The guy in front of me finally got himself settled and sat with his back to the window and his feet up across the row. I might as well have had my eyes shut. I was staring straight ahead at absolutely nothing, but could still  tell he looked at me as he checked out the rest of whoever was sitting in the rows behind us.

        I still don't know what made me do it.
        
        Maybe it was because he seemed like a cool guy, somebody I could see myself hanging out with, or someone who I would let be my damn good wingman, his good looks indicating he had no problem hooking up with good looking women, or more realistically, maybe this guy was someone who would let me be his not such a damn good wingman,  my looks good enough to indicate I had no problem hooking up with his good looking woman's not as good looking friend. Maybe this dude might end up being my only friend in the area, that being the tri-state area. 
        Maybe it was to distract myself from my thoughts before I decided to get off at the next stop and buy another ticket for another train, one that would take me back to the end of the line, where I had boarded.
        Maybe it was because he seemed like he wanted to talk to someone.
        Maybe I needed someone to talk to.

        Whatever it was, on this day, I was not content being alone with my music and my thoughts.

        I stopped the music, put the thoughts on pause, and removed my earbuds.
        
        He didn't have any music to listen to, only his itinerary to read, and whatever thoughts he had regarding wherever it was taking him.

        "Yeah, dude", I said as if I was answering a question he never asked. "This is the first time I've ever taken the train, so I wrote down every detail so I don't get on the wrong train and end up totally lost."
        I held up an index card with every detail of my three hour tour, the numbers of three trains, all departure and arrival times highlighted in yellow.
        After I showed him mine, he showed me his.
        His was bigger.
        "Damn, dude. Where you going, the moon?"
        He was not going to the moon, just another planet.
        "L.A.", he said.
        "Nice. How long is that gonna take?"
        "I'll get there on Monday. Look at this."
        He handed me his five printed out pages of train stations, bus stops, one after another, all the way to Los Angeles.
        "You visiting or moving there?"
        "Moving."

        Well, looks like me and this guy were not meant to be wingmen. 
    
        "You moving from around here?"
        He was moving from Maryland. When he asked, I told him I lived close to the end of the line. I told him I had moved here from South Florida six months earlier. He had also lived in South Florida, in Fort Lauderdale.
        "What are you gonna do in L.A.?"
        "Writing."
        "That's awesome. I love writing."
        "What do you like to write? Books?"
        Even though I knew I'd never see him again, he seemed like too good of a guy to lie to.
        "I wish. I love reading, but I could never write a book. I guess I'm more interested in writers than actually writing. I've always wanted to write and felt like I should, but I don't know, I started a few screenplays thinking that it would be so much easier than trying to write a book, but I never got past the first act."
        "Why not?"
        "I don't know. I just ponder way too much over every word so I'd sit there trying to make every sentence perfect. I guess it's easy to start a story when you know the beginning, but even if you know the ending, getting there's the hard part. What about you? What do you write, screenplays?"

        "Different stuff," he said. "I'm trying to write a book . . . "
        "Oh. okay."
        His sentence came to more of a pause than a stop.
        I sensed a bit of apprehension, but he decided to unpause.
        "Mostly, I write for the gay community."

        I did not see that coming.  

       That was not on my itinerary. 

        Well, looks like me and this guy were not meant to be friends.

        "That's cool," I tell him as if everything's cool.
        I wasn't scared. 
        I had a gay friend before.
        One. At least, one that I know of.
        Having never invested in a gaydar at Best Bi, if I don't witness a guy wearing only Daisy Dukes, rainbow suspenders, and a Freddy Mercury mustache while voguing on a Pride Parade float, I naively assume he's a straight man with impeccable fashion sense. 
         
        "I'm on my way to hook up with this really hot chick in Manhattan."
       
        He probably didn't see that coming.  

        Neither did I. I blurted it out too quickly for it to have been a conscious decision. I guess it was some kind of defense mechanism, making sure we were straight, I mean, making sure I was straight, I mean, I wanted to make sure we had an understanding. That's exactly what I meant.
       
        Safe bet that hearing about his homosexual writing content surprised me less than him hearing my sudden declaration of heterosexuality. The reason not being my lack of a segue before my totally unrelated response.       
        Admittedly, it would have been unfair to blame his uncertainty on a broken gaydar. 
        He may have been the one wearing the motorcycle jacket that fit him as if he had it custom made, which he very well may have, but I was the one sporting the black Calvin Klein topcoat that was not custom made, but still fit as well as anything can bought off the rack. 
        He was also not the one with eyebrows clearly waxed hours earlier.
        And my dress shoes.
        Burgundy. 
        He couldn't see my shoes, nor could he see the Louis Vuitton dufflebag that had just been slid under his seat by those shoes that would raise questions not limited to,"Burgundy or maroon?"
     
        "Whose the girl in Manhattan?" he asked.
        I tell him the boring details that I've already covered in too much detail. I fought the temptation to reach for my IPOD, instead I reached for my phone, figuring I was doing nothing wrong by handing it to him so he could see a picture she had taken in the mirror of herself in a bra and panties.
        "She is hot", he agreed.
        I must have forgot to ask if he any hot pics to share.

        Besides both of us having lived in South Florida, and our shared interest in writing that did not extend to the content of that writing, we now had found some additional common ground in the girl in Manhattan's hotness.  
        
        "What made you move from Florida?' he asked.
        I admitted that I got all fucked up on painkillers, so he admitted that he just got out of rehab, so I admitted that I had been in a mental health facility, so he admitted that he had been in jail, so I admitted that I had spent a couple of nights in jail, so he admitted that he had spent more than a couple nights in jail.
        After we discovered enough common ground to provide a nature walk from Key West to Cuba, I felt comfy enough to take this to the next level, which for most people is usually the first level.

        "Hey, I'm Jim, by the way."
        He shook my outstretched hand, introducing himself.
        "I'm Carl."
        "Carl, nice to meet you, bro."
        "You too."
        I had already shared my secrets in ten minutes with my new friend, Carl, faster than I had with Manhattan chick in thirty.
        Maybe I'm just not a good secret keeper.
      
        He told me he did some modelling and about how common drug use is in the industry. I mentioned that a few people, very few, suggested I should try modelling, due to my height I imagined.
        Carl said,"You should. You're a good looking guy."
        How did he know I needed an ego boost for the big occasion?
        "Thanks, bro."
       
        "Meth is pretty big with the gays...community, huh?"
        I don't know what flies with these guys.
        "Oh, yeah," he said.
        I told him the only time I ever tried it, was with a friend, the one I know of, who was gay, and I assume still is, even though we lost touch...not touch, contact, I meant contact, we lost contact, contact is what we lost.
        Yeah, that dude is definitely still gay.
        No assumptions necessary.
        (Just so there's no confusion, when I said the only time I ever tried "it" was with a gay friend,  "it" was in reference to meth, and let me add that snorting crystal meth alone with a gay dude is easily the gayest thing I've ever done, a close second being writing this not so short story)

        "I think my friend called it 'glass'?"
        He was familiar with the term.
        "So what's your book about?"
        He told me it was about his crazy life, then told me some of the highlights and lowlights of  his vida loca.
        
        The Tale of Jimmy Mac now seemed dark as The Tale of Peter Rabbit
        His shit would make almost anyone's shit seem like Everyone Poops.

        Carl wasn't trying to "top" my experience, for lack of a better word, but if this was one of those Whose Done More Crazy Shit? game shows you never see on tv all the time, well, I'd be the bottom, a place I never thought I'd find myself, much like South County Mental.

        Unfortunately for my new friend, he had  found himself in too many of these kinds of places too many times.

        Much like my writing, our conversation went off on tangents, mostly when it came to an experience we could both relate to. As a result, the stories we shared were not told chronologically. What happened when did not matter, we found ourselves sharing the kind of things most people would consider their deepest and darkest secrets, things you don't tell strangers, things you don't talk about on trains, only a few of the things that lead us to that conversation on that train on that day.
        We were both starting over.
        We both had high hopes of a future better than our past, so we decided we would keep in touch on FaceBook, updating each other on the good stuff along the way.
        Carl needed someone to talk to that day as much as I needed to hear a voice besides the one in my head, telling me I wasn't good enough. I was glad that I turned off my music and met this guy and had this conversation, the kind of conversation that could have gone on until they told us we had to get off the train at the next stop.
         And that's exactly what happened.
         The conductor told both of us to get off at the next stop.

        This was not not on our itinerary.

        My first thought was that this conductor was a bigot, thinking we were more than a couple of aspiring writers, hating us for being so fabulous, himself a latent homosexual, his family simply a front.
        It wasn't the closeted conductor.
        It was us.
        A couple of sexy bitches who talked right passed their stops.
        We had to get off and catch the next train back.
        
        While we waited for that train at a stop on neither of our schedules, my shoes and my Louis dufflebag in plain sight, Carl complimented both.
        I thanked him in regards to my shoes, but I wasn't going to lie about my Louis.
        "It's a knockoff," I admitted.
        "It's a good one. You could never tell."
        "Thanks. I almost thought it was the real thing. Check this out."
        I showed Carl how it even came with a little LV imprinted lock and key and a logo on the inside.
        "Look at the inside. I can understand why the outside has to look real, but I'm surprised they took the time on the little things inside that nobody will see."
        "Maybe it's the real thing," Carl said. "I can't tell the difference."
       
        When we boarded the train, most the seats were taken, and between the few open seats and the people coming and going, Carl and I ended up on different cars without saying anything to properly end our conversation.
         As soon as the conductor robbed me for six dollars to go one stop, I felt lonely to so suddenly sit in silence.
        I was about to step off the train when I saw Carl sitting alone with his back to me, not talking to anyone. I felt bad that I didn't get a chance to say goodbye, and I felt bad to think of all the hours he was going to spend alone over the next four days, all the way to L.A., contemplating what lead to his departure and what his arrival will lead to, and how I would be home from Manhattan on Sunday before he even got there.
        I stopped at the last second, excused myself by the lady behind me, and walked over to his seat and patted him on the shoulder.
        "Carl. It was good meeting, man, good talking with you. I'll hit you up on FaceBook. Let me know how the rest of the trip goes."
        "I will. It should be interesting. Have fun in Manhattan."
        "Oh. I will. Talk to you soon."
       
        I didn't talk to anyone else on either of the next two trains.
        Just listened to my music. Some songs that I've heard countless times.
        Nothing else.

        When I arrived at Penn Station, I bought a single red rose, knowing that a dozen would have been much more expensive. I didn't want to spend all my money before I even made my long awaited debut on Broadway. I say long awaited because I wasted 15 minutes walking around Penn Station until I finally asked a cop how the hell I get out to Broadway, where I stood in a long line for a cab, where I took a pic of myself with the city in the background that would have been profile pic worthy if I thought about removing my earphones. On the cab ride to the Upper East Side, wherever that was, I popped a few Altoids, sprayed some Dark Temptation Axe Bodyspray that even the Jamaican cabbie had to compliment, and used my phone to record this scene, opening credits in the foreground, in the background, me staring out the window, like I'm contemplating where I've been or where I'm going. I tried to get the city lights in the background, but when I looked at the video, I just looked like some bad actor in a badly lit movie.

        I felt a little anxious, and I didn't want to get like wasted drunk, but I was tempted to have the cabbie make a quick stop somewhere so I could slam like six beers and three shots of Cuervo to help take a little bit of the edge off, but besides the fact that this anonymous Manhattanite attended  AA, she kept texting me "where are you" and "ask the driver how far away", each text followed by a phone call asking the same question she never allowed enough time to be answered via text. I started to suspect that maybe she had some stud there to get her off like 6 times because she was worried that I might not be able to do the same since she knew about my 2 year dry spell, but because the cabbie showed good judgement by agreeing with my Dark Temptation Body Spray, I decided to agree with his suspicion that, "Man, this girl really can't wait to see you." With that, I sprayed some more Darkness, this time into my boxers just in case she had not gotten off 6 times earlier and displayed as little patience texting as she did in her intentions to take my 2 years of virginity before I could take a shower.

        I arrived at the same time I received her 17th text. I tipped the cabbie fifty percent because she had me asking him where we were every other Starbucks. The cabbie wanted to know what this girl looked like who was either insanely impatient or insatiably horny. I didn't have time to show him the pic on my phone, so I pointed her out, standing on the street corner like some high class hooker who I would not be able to afford and who would never be found working a street corner. The cabbie said, "Oh, that's her? I know her." Instead of asking him what the fuck that meant, I got out and gave her an awkward kiss, along with the single red rose, her knowing that one rose is just as sweet a gesture as a dozen, and me knowing that multiplying 12 x $3.50 = $35 that I didn't have to blow on something that, as beautiful as they can be, might never even blossom/bloom/whatever, or could be dead before my Sunday departure. 

        Up in her small, but expensive apartment, I noticed she seemed to be very nervous, or else a chain smoker. I had never been a big fan of girls who smoke, but considering I had never been a big fan of going two years without being touched by a girl who was not taking my vitals, I offered to light them for her and even allowed the mouthwash after each one to be skipped.

        After about twenty minutes and five Virginia Slims, I was trying to think of something, anything to talk about that I had not already told her while shivering through hours of phone conversations over the last two weeks. If it wasn't for the promise of romance and the desperate need to have an orgasm with a woman in the room, I would have rather been talking to Carl.

        Meeting Carl was the only interesting thing that happened since our last conversation, if not our first, so I told her about him. I mentioned him doing the modelling thing. She looked like she might have her first, if not her seventh orgasm of the night before I even touched her, so I told her he was gay so no need for her to get wet yet. She made some comment about me getting hit on by a gay guy on the train, so I told her that I started the conversation. She made some comment about me hitting on a gay guy on the train, so I told her I started the conversation before I knew he was gay, but it didn't matter because he was awesome. I didn't admit to her that I enjoyed my earlier conversation with him more than the one I was currently having with her. For some unknown reason, I did admit how I always felt a comforting relief when I found out a guy who was better looking than me did not date women. I asked her if she thought that was weird.
        I don't remember what she said.

        We were about twenty minutes into the fifth pay per view movie of the evening when she said it was boring  and turned it off, just like she did with each of the previous four "boring" movies. Like my attempts at screenwriting, she too had trouble making it past the first act. Within an hour she wasted exactly as much money as I would have spent on a dozen roses that would have little chance of ever blooming or blossoming or whatevering. 
        Not once did she ask if I liked the movie before setting her $7.95 on fire.
        And I did. 
        All five of them.
          
        Then, LOL, she asked me what I wanted to watch.
        There were about five movies I could think of.
        I would've suggested a sitcom had I brought any Adderall . .  XR
                
        Her short attention span frees me from worry about her reading anything this long.

        Speaking of extended release, once we got down to business Saturday night, I was still a rock star (her words). The second time was like being on painkillers. Something was distracting me, and no, dick, it was not thoughts about the man I met on the train. It was her cockblock of a cat, who clearly did not share her owner's complete lack of focus. I tried to ignore it, but I would have a better shot at beating Carl on Whose Done More Fucked Up Shit?.  I couldn't stop myself, and I damn well couldn't stop the cat from sitting, watching, judging. With me and her cat out of sight, she was oblivious to the staring contest going on over her shoulder, finally ending when she just couldn't stand up anymore.

       My legs were pretty tired too after walking around Manhattan, a much needed reminder that I was not nearly as fucked up as I thought. She kept asking me what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go, forgetting that I was not the one who lived there, or knew what there was to do and where there was to go. So we went to the Sex Museum, where I learned absolutely nothing except that there was a sex museum in Manhattan.

        And when I left the Upper East Side, I took a cab to Penn Station, where I jumped on a train, made a list of five movies that I wanted to see beyond the opening credits, thought about how she took advantage of me being so vulnerable, how I neglected to pull her hair even though she casually mentioned how she liked that, and I tried not to think of  Cockblock the Cat, so I used my phone to record this scene, closing credits in the foreground, in the background, me staring out the window, not contemplating where I've been or where I'm going, knowing there is someone doing the same thing in a train or a bus, somewhere between here and Los Angeles.




                   Kc Karma                                            April 12, 2011
                   What a hell of a trip
                   How are you doing..
                     
                   Jimmy Mac
                   Hey Carl. I'm doing good. Had a great time in NY.
                   Going back next weekend.
                   When  did u finally get there, yesterday?
                   I'm sure it was an interesting ride.
                   Hope you're getting settled in

               Kc Karma                                                                     
                 Oh you have no idea this has been very interesting and
                   i will be there tonite
                   what a messed up trip this was.
                   I an glad that you had fun. Keep in touch

                         

                                                                              
               Kc Karma                                        April 29, 2011
                   What is going on


                   Jimmy Mac
                   Hey buddy how ru?
                   How's Cali?
                     
                   Kc Karma
                   fantastic
                    
                   Jimmy Mac
                   Sounds like it

                   Kc Karma
                   looking good and feeling great

                   Jimmy Mac
                   Thats awesome bro
                   Doing makeup?

                   Kc Karma 
                   I am in Beverly Hills

                   Jimmy Mac
                   Nice Saw ur pics, very cool

                   Kc Karma
                   hell yeah,
                   beautiful people everywhere
                   thanks

                   Jimmy Mac
                   Hey, quick question
                   Any experience w/ bipolar women?
                   I figure along the way u've met a few,lol
                   I think I'm dating one

                   Kc Karma
                   HOLY SHIT
                   RUNNNNNNNNNNNN

                   Jimmy Mac
                   LOL

                   Kc Karma
                   LOL





         A few weeks after my second trip to Manhattan, the texts and calls became less and less frequent, until I took it upon myself to state the obvious, that something had obviously changed and that I was not mad or upset, and she did not need to feel like she had to explain or anything.
         I wasn't mad.
         I wasn't upset.
         I was a bit disappointed, but like infatuation, that fades too. Disappointment, or "the whatevers", faded much faster, like in about 36 hours.
         I was grateful.
         She made me feel a way I had not felt in a long time. It had been so long, I worried that I was no longer able to feel the kind of passion that torches common sense.
        I wasn't numb.
        I wasn't dead inside.

       That was the last time I spoke to her for almost a year. 

        Me and Carl, we were still going strong, doing the long distance thing.
       Which is easy when neither party has any reason to be jealous.



               Jimmy Mac                                           July 5, 2011 
                   Yo buddy. Hope all is well out west.
                   I just recently got my life insurance license,
                   so I'm trying to get that going so
                   I can sign up for an acting class in Philly
                   and start going on some auditions.
                   Just don't see myself as as insurance salesman.
                   Some lady at my church asked me to play Jesus in a play, lol.
                   I don't know, definitely a tough role.
                   Besides that, not doing much.
                   Been following the Casey Anthony trial daily,
                   crazy shit, my friend.
                   Anything exciting going on in Hollywood?
                   That's prob a dumb question.
                   I saw a cool show on MSNBC I think,
                   about those pain clinics in Florida.
                   Most of it was Ft. Lauderdale. Check it out if you get a chance.
                   Let me know what's good, brother!
                   Jim


                  
                Kc Karma                                            July 13, 2011 
                   Hey buddy I hope that it all works out for you
                   I am in Beverly Hills,
                   prince and dutchess was just here,
                   they are closing 405...going to be a mess



                                                                                           
               Kc Karma                                             July 28, 2011
                   whats up sexy, 
                   I love it here in beverly hills
 
                   Jimmy Mac
                   Hey hey hey! I like the profile pic, man.
                   I'm glad everything has been working out since
                   we met on the train,
                   seems like a long time ago.
                   I was partying in Philly Sunday night with
                   some girls from Fl, had a great time

                   Kc Karma    
                   Thats fantastic, I am opening a hair salon in beverly hills,
                   writing my book everything is great

       
        A few months later I started writing, and this time, for the first time, I didn't stop.
        Like Carl, I was writing about things people don't talk about on trains.
        This was probably the reason why I did not realize how many months had gone by since our last chat until he popped up on my page while I was editing.
          
           
                                                                                              

                   Kc Karma                                                April 13, 2012
                   jimmy what is going on with you?

               
                   Jimmy Mac
                   Hey, man.
                   I'm just finishing converting my blog into a book.
                   How about you?
                
                    Kc Karma
                    Congratulations
                    
               Jimmy Mac
                   Thank you, it's been a great experience
                    
               Kc Karma
                   Yeah, I have been writing my book as well.
                   Things out here in California have been 
                   an up and down experience
                   I am hopeful
                   It is good hearing from you..
                  
               Jimmy Mac
                   Yeah, you too. Is your book the memoir?

               
               Kc Karma
                   Yes it is, I had wrote 11 chapters over 380 pages, 
                   and it was stolen,,
                   It took me almost 6 months to write again, 
                   but now I am back on track
                   dictating my life....
                   Day by Day things are progressing


                   Jimmy Mac 
                   That sucks it got stolen. I'd freak.
                   Check out my blog if you get a chance
                
                   Kc Karma
                   very impressive Jimmy


                   Jimmy Mac
                   Thanks.
                   I'm editing and writing last 3 chapters at same time.
                   Hopefully be done by summer

               
                   Kc Karma
                   do you have a publisher?

                    
               Jimmy Mac
                   No. I guess I'll start sending it out once I'm done.
                   I don't know much about that aspect

               
               Kc Karma
                   You know that you can do your own publishing
                   and cut out the middle man, google independent publishing.
                   Think about it....
                   Everyone has a kindle, and all you really need is great PR
                   that is what I am going to do when I am finished

                
                   Jimmy Mac     
                   Yeah, I know a little bit about that


               Kc Karma
                   I have been out here in California for 1 year,
                   and I have been thru alot, it does have its ups and downs,
                   but I have not given up in the least
                
               
                   Jimmy Mac    
                   Good for you.
                   I look forward to seeing you out there one of these days

                
                   Kc Karma
                   Yeah, google my name, carl crosco
                   and you will see also what I write about,
                   and what I am involved in
                    
                    
               Jimmy Mac 
                   Cool, I will
                    
               Kc Karma
                   I wish you the very best, I would say Good Luck
                   but Luck has nothing to do with GodS will for you to succeed...

                    
                Jimmy Mac
                   Same to you, my friend.
                   Let's keep in touch so we can exchange our books soon
                
                   Kc Karma
                   Most def



         It was hard to believe we had not spoken to each other since July.
         What was harder to believe, what I did not want to believe, was that we would never speak to each other again.

         Ten days later, Carl was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The doctors did not think he would make it. The next day, he was taken off life support, expected to pass within the hour. 

         Twenty five hours later, at 4:13 PM, Carl Crosco Jr passed away. 
         He was 32 years young.

         As shocked as I was by the update sharing the news of his death,  even more difficult to comprehend was how unexpectedly and how profoundly it hurt to know he was gone.

         I was only happy that he contacted me that day. The timing, but mostly reading his foreboding last last words to me left me devastated, and wondering. 
         Foreboding is the best word I can think of.

         "I wish you the very best, I would say Good Luck
          but Luck has nothing to do with GodS will for you to succeed..."

          They seemed so appropriate. Too appropriate.
         
          The reason I boarded that train that day, was to go see a girl who I thought I loved. There was no way to know that the guy I met on the way there would be the one to break my heart.
       
          Maybe she wasn't the reason I was on that train.
          Maybe knowing how brave Carl had lived, how honestly and fearlessly he wrote, is the only reason I was not afraid to write these things, without concern for how it could be taken, especially by people who are just like me, who I wouldn't expect to understand if they didn't know him.
          But I told it anyway.
     
        I wish I could tell him he's the only guy I ever let call me "sexy",
        and he can rest eternally assured that he will also be the last.

        I wish I could tell him that he was not just "my gay friend".
        He was my friend. 

       I wish he never had to feel this way, and that he never needed to write these words:

        Some times in life, you are dealt a shitty hand, I am referring to family....
        It is really sad that because I am gay, I am exiled from my own family...
        Really sad! I am in a down mood, PLEASE CHEER ME UP :(

        I wish he could read these words I've written about him.
        And I wish he would say, "Very impressive, Jimmy."
     
        When I called his older brother, I told him Carl had just contacted me on April 13th. This was also the same day that Carl had contacted him for the last time.
                
        I told him about Carl's plan to publish his book online once he finished. His brother said that he was going to try to locate it. I have no idea if Carl's 380 page manuscript is still only handwritten. It could just need to be formatted properly for online publication. It could require someone to write his final chapter for him. It doesn't really matter what still needs to be done. I would consider it a privilege to do whatever I could to help make this happen.
          I know that he would have liked that.
          I know I would want someone to do the same for me.

         He told me the sad details of Carl's death, and shared with me the sad details of Carl's life.
         From the age of eight, and for the next twenty five years, until the last twenty five hours of his life, Carl was a survivor.
       
         For Carl, there were things you don't talk about on trains.

         That did not stop him from writing about them though. He lived his life as bravely and as honestly as he wrote about it. And he wrote to share his experience, to help save others from those things nobody saved him from.

        Now that I know some of those things, I don't want to think of him being left alone to die, I don't want to think of him sitting alone on a train, or a bus, thinking about those things, thinking about the past. That's no longer how I see him.

        Now I see my friend
        clothes custom made 
        being chauffeur driven
        in the brightest lit city,
        staring out the window,
        contemplating only where he's going,
        hopeful,
        looking good,
        feeling great,
        very impressive
        like some model turned movie star,
        opening credits,
             
        . . . beautiful
     
        . . . people

        . . . everywhere.
                                                         
 


It is an open book and I hope something I write will help someone. I'm doing this for one simple reason. Life really is too short and if by me giving some information to someone will help them get more out of their life (whether gay or straight) it makes me know my place on this earth is validated. 

Be ready for the truth and be ready for blunt honesty. My life has been a rocky road. There's a hell of a lot I have been through that this story doesn't even come near to touching. But everything has directed me towards the truth. Took me awhile to find it but I did. 
You can too.
-Carl Crosco






In memory of...
CARL CROSCO JR
SON, BROTHER, FRIEND, WRITER, INSPIRATION, VALIDATED
AUG 1, 1979 - APRIL 25, 2012



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