Shit We Learned from Captain Fantastic

- No means harder

- Your rudder cable is your best friend

- The art of war is stay alive

- Buy her lobster and destroy the pud

- Lightning will find you

- Tequila for cheers, whiskey for tears

- Women can't fly, either

- Buy smokes while you have the chance

- So I say: but the kid don't look like me

- The Bomb is gonna change the way we live

- Civilian pilots are pigshit

- Sometime I'll tell you how I lost this finger

- There is nothing sweeter than a home-cooked meal

- The clitoris is a myth

- It's a long way to Gotha

- Death is for slackers

- Medals are nice, friends are better

- Have many of you guys are gettin' it regular?

I Remember

What days do I remember?
The days that I remember are few.
The goodness in the glass it goes so fast, swirling in your hand, your eyes look away for a moment. Sweeten the juice for me please.
Sweeten it with sugar.
I remember.
I remember being born, of looking into the world for the first, wanting to understand.
I remember days of warm tears, of unrestrained sobbing, the taste of salty water. I remember alone.
I remember my heart jumping out of my chest, forgetting to pump the blood when I felt sadness, or joy, or even love.
I remember seeing that no one else's heart did the same thing, and learning how to hide the happiness.

I remember homework, long shadows in the house, when raw November took the afternoon dark. I remember the smell of stew cooking on the stovetop.
I remember waking up cold from a nap, my mind disoriented, my body in shiver as I searched for a sweater.
I remember the fear for my parents, giants with power if not reason. I remember being two foot tall.
I remember the icy bite of Winter days, inside the house while the men watched football. I remember the sound of the whistle in the stadium frozen.
I remember seeing a beautiful woman's face and knowing love. Everything about it.
I remember days of not caring, of car rides and letter grades, of taking my first step to live music. I remember drive-thru windows.
I remember the days of liquid love, of bodies in tangle, losing my limbs in hers. I remember the speed of the pulse when someone was listening.
I remember the promise of a baseball game before the first pitch is thrown. I remember hope. I remember listening for the score.
I remember seeing her standing there, all the answers in a blink of her eye. I remember I couldn't speak.
I remember Summer days, when the sun refused to leave the sky, the ache inside me pull hard as the clouds soaked up the leaking color. I remember the sweet pinks, the savage blues, and the blood orange.
I remember standing outside, looking in. Waiting in a line that never moved.
I remember watching her walk away from me. I remember the new pain.
I remember riding the train, at night, all night, every night, wondering if the other passengers knew how all alone I felt. I remember black outside the windows, in my head and in my heart, holding back the moans as my soul bled slow.
I remember praying for daylight.
I remember that hot Summer day, in the park, when I was five. I remember the taste. I remember the hyperlife and absolute perfection, the sponge mind of a child in a brilliant moment, the green grass growing before my eyes, reaching up and out to touch the sunshine. I remember my mother and father in the distance while I stepped outside of reality, this dimension, into the real world so beautiful most human beings never get a look. I remember being the architect of the universe, creating, engaging, documenting every detail of that moment for reference in the life of pain I knew was to come.
I remember thinking 'it will never get any better than this.' I remember that moment has sustained me.
I don't remember much. I remember these things.
And you.
I remember you.
Everything about you.
I remember every single beautiful, impossible, magical, loving, sublime thing about you.
I remember you.
And I always will.
I will always remember you. 

Grand Vending: Fantastic

I remember that day like it was tomorrow.
I mean yesterday. I was thirsty, thirsty for liquid. Liquid thirsty. Then I seen it: the vending machine.

It was right there in front of the place. It seemed to glow with the light of the fluorescent bulb some guy had put inside it. I stepped up.

I reached into my pocket and found four quarters... I took a deep breath and inserted them into the slot carefully. One... two... three... and finally four.

I selected carefully: a fizzy drink with carbonated bubbles. I pressed the button and KALKA! The machine rumbled & dispensed my soda. I grabbed it out of the holding zone, felt it cold against my hand. I popped the top and put it to my mouth and enjoyed the sweet taste. Success!

A lot of other things happened to me that day but I forget most likely.

Late Night (with Some Guy You Don't Know)

I believed that I was coming up from a dream, my head floating to the surface of the water, liquid subconscious drip slippery from my hair, and I blink in just a swallow of the daylight. Then I take a look around to find I'm in the middle of the ocean: no idea how I got here, no reason why. And then, just as I begin to welcome the drown I wake up.

I’m standing at the bar in a saloon. I must have nodded off. Some guy I never knew pours me a shot, buys me a drink on the house and you don’t ask questions: you just accept what’s before you when you know there's nothing else.

I pick up the shot glass easy and raise it to my mouth. Down goes the firewater, on schedule, making all the stops, flooding inhibition, down to grand stomach station, sending synapse spinning off course, to spiral pointless in perpetuity, in humanity, in insanity, never to conceive of rational thought again, and that’s when I knew that I was really waking up.

I’m in the passenger seat of a car, driving down a road with no buildings, the steering wheel leading me, the wipers working against time to hold back the rain. The sky is white and grey and without light- only moisture- as I navigate the center of an all-consuming cloud. This car is going nowhere and I realize: I’m ready for an accident. I have no problem letting go of the wheel, no problem closing my eyes, preparing for the impact, welcoming the warm black…

And then I woke up. For real. In my bathrobe and borrowed slippers. Sitting in an easy chair in a small library with red carpeting. The shelves around me are lined with leather & gilt-edged hardcover books… and all the walls are shelves. There is no way into this room, no way out, and the bust of Bill Shakespeare eyes me with contempt as a woman makes her entrance, the scent of her skin preceding her.

She walks in, white dress, dark hair, her breath a metered metronome. She looks at me as I rise, taking me in, smiling her smile, her face familiar and eternal. She places a manila envelope on the table before me. I open it and pull out the 8x10 headshot, taking in the grinning face of the talk-show host & understanding even before she says the words.

Licking her lips, her eyes lost in mine, “David Letterman must die.”

I knew it, of course. I knew that she was right. And I knew that I would never fall asleep again.

The Night We Created Theresa

Theresa slow explode out the principal's office, blinking in the bright light of day, shiver in her gray sweatshirt, her eyebrows a furious V, her forehead spiral in ever-curling circles of fury, her green eyes injecting venom direct into my soul, as she steam past the secretary with the face in the laptop, make her way across the hall, launch herself out the emergency exit and walk to our car on the curb. She flashed the finger at us retroactive, and we all saw it through the window: the secretary, me, the office staff, a dozen students... vintage Theresa.

My daughter, ladies & gentleman.

I turned to Principal Atteberry, standing in his office doorway, smoldering slow on state pay, looking at me almost as angry as Theresa, and for the first time I was genuinely afraid of the laundry list he was about to read me, the lecture on its way, the sermon he would blister into my skin and beyond. It was best to flash back, to think of how pure it had started, to remind myself and God that there had once been a love.

There had once been a love.

On the night we created Theresa... seventeen years and thirty-one days ago. Donald had come by to pick me up in his red Civic... the roads were wet with melting snow... it must have been late April. We had been out once before, Donald and I, but this date was practice for the Senior Prom, which we both knew was coming at us a like a bullet on meth. I remember the Civic with those impossible seatbelts. Ugh! My Dad had a Civic, so riding in one made me feel like a grownup, so goddamn responsible, which only made me feel like being dirty, like peeling off my clothes and showing Don just what a filthy slut I could be. But that part is just between us, okay?

All week long- we talked on the phone all night- Don had been making this joke about taking me to Wendy's- like that was his idea of the ultimate romantic night out or something- and then there we were on the date, looking for somewhere to eat, driving around to Before These Crowded Streets and it just became hilarious to us. We had to do it, had to go to Wendy's and order off the dollar menu. And it was one of those nights, do you know what I mean? It was one of those night that you never get back, you never get again... everything all right, all of it eternal: you couldn't script it if you were a writer. I was in my button-fly jeans, purple thong & Nine Inch Nails T-shirt... Donald was in his long-sleeve tie-dye nightmare. With khaki shorts. To this fucking day... khaki shorts... nope nope nope.

So we ate our burgers in the parking lot and we both had this feeling, like fuck it, tonight it's gonna happen, so why waste each other's time? And I felt it in him, something I never felt before or since, in any other man at any other time. Not even my Father. I felt the Love. I mean the Love. I fucking got it. I mean... I'm not sure everybody could understand- Don was... the guy was fucking glowing. Strong enough to be bulletproof, make me cry. And when he stopped the car at the Wendy's exit to kiss me a part of me melted inside. A part of me died too. Maybe it was the little girl. I was glad to see her go.

I surrendered. And I won. And Donald got so lost in kissing me that he didn't hear the furious Mexican guy behind us laying on his horn. I didn't either. Neither one of us saw him get out of his car & come up to the driver's side until he pulled Donald out and beat him savage. Worked Don over like ground beef with a meat hammer. Next thing I knew we were riding in the back of the ambulance and the EMT's were treating me like his wife: “Does he have any allergies?”

I was fucking honored. “Not that I know of.”

And so I waited with him in the exam room, through “ER” playing on the ER TV, through the beautiful nurse with the long hair, through the hours into the midnight, calling my Mom on my giant cell phone, walking outside to try and get reception: “Yes I'm with Donald... he's okay... HE'S OKAY!!!”

And then back inside with him waiting for the discharge. The diagnosis was sprained arm and facial lacerations, but nowhere in the doctor's papers did it say I was in love with this man, ready to give up anything & everything for the rest of my days to be by his side. I must have started to cry then because Donald wiped a tear off my face with reflexes intact and I was gone. Gone from head to toe, with every strand of DNA, just wanting to be a part of him... and somehow... somehow he knew.

Donald kissed me in the dark room beneath the fluorescent light, and I got wet in a rush, made squish so loud I was afraid the whole hospital could hear. I climbed on top of him, his hands finding my breasts and using them for their purpose. I was in joy. By the time I got my jeans down he was rock hard...  I slipped him inside me quiet and I was good: all the way home... the two of us fused like sacred matrimony... the completion of a circuit divine. We rocked and bumped slow and awkward, him holding my mouth closed while I took turns doing the same to his... and then, before they cut the bracelet around his wrist, Donald exploding inside me over and over, rolling waves of timeless generosity, the new juices, my body vitalized on his essence. Jay Leno was coming up next.

We got dressed in time for the nurse, who looked at us like she knew but was too cool to say. Nine months later I would give birth to the baby we made... we decided to name her Theresa.

From outside in the parking lot we heard Theresa laying on the horn in my Kia. Principal Atteberry paused before continuing on with his alphabetical list of allegations.

Tonight, I will tell my daughter the story... I will make her understand. I will sing to her of the magic in the air... the love that was and will forever be... on the night we created Theresa.

And then I will beat the shit out of her.