Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Imagination Is Going Back In

Yesterday I had a very important choice to make:

Now I have a choice to make. Do I press on toward new imaginary ventures? Or do I fixate so firmly on the last one that my life becomes a shrine to its memory?

I've decided I have no other choice than to double down on that day, not exactly making it a shrine but giving it a special twist, by supplementing it and building on its glory. I think this is the best way for things to work out, because it both pays tribute to my imaginary visit to Skidrow and renews the visit's promise on another day.

Let me hasten things along to save time. At this moment I'm going into a trance. There. It is achieved.

I'm now driving toward my destination. My heart is beating as I approach. I can see the last vestiges of respectable society, businesses that have no reason for shame. They sit on the square as ladies and gentlemen would sit, aware of their natural propriety. But off to the northwest -- ah, there it is -- I see the openings of that block. Here is where I usually drive by slowly in order to peek down it to see if anyone's having troubles. Occasionally you'll see someone stagger or pounding on a parking meter. It's not my desire that people suffer, but it's always good to have someone of high morals observe and reckon it to their account. That might sound holier than thou, but in this present trance, a very heavy one, I am less able to censor my thoughts.

I'm adrift in thought. I hope I'm able just to type this. Yes, fingers on the home row. Everything before me is going slowly. I'm reticent to turn on that block because I know the teaching I got growing up. This block -- Skidrow -- was forever spurned except for peeking.

OK, I'm turning down the street now. Again, the film, as it were, slows to a snail's pace. I'm able to discern the looming buildings with their sordid past. I think once again of the sociology of the lower class losing their stake at the upper class saloon and winding up down here. To plat out their dismal future of pool halls, saloons, brothels, fly by night carpet stores, scuzzy pizza parlors, bail bondsmen, and shady lawyers. The buildings ache with a dreadful history. It's a burden they can't shuck.

I pass the alley and note the garbage can tipped and garbage strewn about. Someone must have been looking for a used needle. To suck off whatever drops of moisture from the drug that everyone else might have missed. The wind back there has trapped a few wads of paper which swirl in a corner.

I'm especially eager to reenter that bar. I get to the front door. It seems to be locked but just a jiggle of the knob allows me to enter. There's no sign of life. But the pool table is just how I left it the other day. Some smoke still drifts around the light but there's not a soul in sight.

I look around. The bartender isn't there, but his wet rag is still on the bar. At the end of the bar, the woman isn't there either, but there's a fresh drink is on the bar as though she just now left it.

I'm in a mental stir at the thought of this. Where'd everyone go? I'm stunned to hear a sudden cracking sound. I look up and rafters are splitting and disintegrating. The bar itself is dissolving. I'm running for the door even as the floor is giving way behind me. Outside I run across the street to my car, as the entire block called Skidrow is caving in, crumbling to dust.

In my car, I gun it. But in the present slow motion movement, I'm barely moving. Fast enough, though, to avoid any judgment. Toward the end of the block I see the scuzzy pizza guy, opening and closing the oven repeatedly and laughing. Somehow he is destroying the only world he's ever known, this block.

I'm shaking my head now, the trance being shaken off. Isn't it remarkable how the people knew enough of their predicament to escape? They were like birds, able to turn without planning it.

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