The Neighborhood Fire

during the 1970’s, even in my small riverside village,
a certain social order revolved around
what type of swimming pool
was installed on your property.

the scientist who installed the first
solar panels i had ever seen
did not have a pool.
he filled a cheap plastic substitute,
bought at the local discount store,
with cold water from the garden hose.

the businessman, who ran a recycling plant,
installed a solar blanket,
to keep their in ground pool
at a consistent temperature.
he openly invited us to swim
and share what his children,
who were our friends,
were privileged to know.

my best friends in the neighborhood;
a set of identical twins,
were the fortunate recipients of an
above ground pool-
twice the size my parents could afford.

the Eastman’s house was exactly halfway between
my house and the twins.
they also had a pool. it was surrounded by a wooden deck,
and a traditional slat fence where the Eastman’s
had hung a few humorous signs dictated by that
particular decade. the wooden signs were held
by loose framing wire on exposed
nails which were already showing signs of rust.

“i don’t swim in your toilet-
don’t pee in my pool.”

my family, under some social duress,
bought an entry level pool
at the local discount store.
i was surprised my parents felt a need
to keep up with the Eastmans,
or the Carpenters, or the Peters.
were they actualizing equality,
or an illusion?
perhaps,
it was about their own
reconciliation.

the local firehouse was located
a city block from my childhood home.
we were not in a city- however the opening of the firehouse doors,
and the initial blare of the sirens,
were intoxicating to us; the unknowing dictated our attention.
everything would cease
as we tried to catch a glimpse
of the deep red vehicles
as they exited
under the perforated glass walls
that would would ceremoniously rise
after the alarm.

the trucks never had to enter
into our neighborhood.

in the twilight of this evening,
as i toweled off, pleading
for one last minute in the pool;
we heard the first siren.

“they are coming down the Avenue.”
stated my mother, with an unavoidably
specific declaration.
she was correct, as we heard the tires of the firetrucks
grind as they took the right hand turn onto
Overlook Avenue.
ambulances from various districts
began to appear,
the Hoxie Hook and Ladder arrived in support.
as we watched the distress unfold,
we crept closer to the fire.

“where is Jeremy? have you seen him?”

i watched my mother ask my father
a question
he had no answer to.
the sirens continued to commandeer
the frequency of an emergency.

i suddenly understood their temporary
commitment,
their vows.

i followed my mother down the Avenue,
as she began asking anyone in earshot, out of desperation,
“have you seen Jeremy….?”

“hey Mom, i’m over here…”

he was standing next to one of the firetrucks,
whose tires towered over him.
“that tire could have killed you!”

“i just wanted to watch…”

i walked briskly past the Eastmans driveway,
toward our house,
toward what i anticipated was coming next.

i overheard the Fire Chief ask Mr. Eastman if the Fire Department
could drain his pool to fight the fire.

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The Realization of Shame

my family moved to a neighborhood
that sprouted up during the post-war period,
around an elementary school
that was built in 1953.

the expansive playing fields of the school
were our dominion.
street hockey until the first snow,
nerf football before class and at recess,
whiffleball nearly year round,
baseball after the Little League season ended.

occasionally, a kid from the neighborhood
would forget a baseball glove on the playground,
which would still be there the next day.
i’m sure a certain bicyclist regrets
the distraction
that allowed a particular bicycle
to be left behind.

it was a lazy autumn afternoon at the playground.
other than my brother and me, there were only
two other kids there that Saturday.

the Judson brothers were notoriously
known as “mischievous.”
under no circumstance would we accept
an offer of a Friday night sleepover,
much less ask our parents for permission.

we were halfheartedly competing
at the tetherball court; the Judson brothers being fairly
inept athletically. during an interruption in play, one of the Judson’s
noticed a single bicycle, at the bike rack,
unchained.
“hey, is that bike unlocked?”

my first thought was that he wanted to steal
the bike, which seemed to be a disastrous position
to take. even though i was only in the 7th grade, the implications
of such a crime seemed inescapable.

“let’s show them a lesson! let’s make them
never leave their bike behind again!”

a consensus was reached to
vandalize the bicycle,
under the stairs at the back
of the gymnasium.
i knew this endeavor was wrong,
in spirit and letter,
and yet i followed my brother
and the Judson’s slowly rolling
the bike up the incline
to the dank, dirt floor cave
below the gymnasium’s concrete steps,
littered with
beer cans and liquor bottles
the school janitor hadn’t caught up to
after an early 80’s teen summer.

the bike was propped up
on it’s kickstand
when the kids went to work.
i stood in silence, afraid to confront them
which might result in them turning
on me, in a similar manner in which
they were unleashing unbridled violence
onto this inanimate object.

a loose brick deflated the tires
and mangled the spokes and rims.
a broken bottle shredded
the soft foam seat,
metal cans scraped at the factory paint.

i did nothing to stop it.

my bus stop in seventh grade was at the end
of Overlook Drive, at the junction of Capstan Avenue.
the Judson’s house was within sight at that corner.
the Tuesday after the bike incident, at 8AM,
while i was waiting for the number 7 bus,
i watched as two Town police squad cars
pull into the Judson’s driveway.

i quickly surmised there were two possibilities;
one would be defined by police evidence,
that the Judson brothers were guilty.
the other was they were going to blame it on me.

in the two hours between getting on that bus
and hearing my name over the intercom,
i had thought through every possible
scenario.

“Ms. Rogers, could you please
excuse Ellery Twining to the Principals office?”

“Yes, of course.”

the gaze of my classmates was intrusive
and inescapable, as they were in disbelief that “little Ellery”
might face disciplinary action.
i, however, knew something that
they did not.
there would be police officers
in that office
when i arrived; slack shouldered.

when i arrived at the small
cinder block office, with industrial desks
and battleship swivel chairs,
my mother was waiting for me.

“get your fucking ass in the car…..”
she hissed.
her tone suggested an equivalent definition of her anger,
were we not in public.
my younger brother was already in the VW Bug,cowering
behind the driver’s seat.

“i get a phone call at work from the Town police?
at work? on a fucking Tuesday?!?
the goddamn police
called me at work
because of YOU TWO!”

i knew intrinsically
what YOU TWO meant.
i was the guilty party.
i should have stopped it.
i should have never let my brother
be exposed.
the entire episode;
it was obviously my fault.

as we entered the police station,
a uniformed officer guided us into the
proper interrogation room.
there were four people present-
my brother, my mother, the
investigating officer,
and me.

“we have already questioned the Judson brothers,
so i need you to tell me the truth. ok?”

“i was there, and i didn’t do anything to
stop it.” i replied.

“so, you personally did not damage
the bicycle in question?”

“no, i didn’t. but i didn’t stop them either…”

“does that imply that your brother was involved?”

“i didn’t stop him….”

“ok, we’re done here for now,
but i don’t ever want to
see you again.”

“you will not” i replied

following my step-father’s funeral,
family secrets were revealed.

“do you remember Mark from Montville?”

“mom, what did the police tell you after
the bike episode
with the Judson brothers?”

“they knew you were innocent, that your brother
and those kids initiated it.
but they wanted to scare you, and you were
such an easy target.”

that lesson taught me the value of invisibility.

because i wanted them to destroy the bicycle.
i wanted to witness the event.
i wanted to punish the kids who could afford
to forget their bike at school.

as the blows from the brick
were applied to the tires,
i was fully aware that this was the definition
of shame.

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12/18/1989 to 01/09/1990

12/27/1989

Merry Xmas! London is now my home as I write late night on train to ferry to Dublin! Maura and two hash-head beer drinkers are my companions, the latter met 10 mins ago and I am quite high. Let’s regress to nine days ago…

12/18/1989

Reading “The Naked Lunch” (holy shit! what is this book? smack and homosexual encounters chapter after chapter) on train to London after good-bye to Graham and Alex.

Into London. Wow! London is so cool. Ledyard to NYC in 2hours. Met with open arms and the fuckin’ flat is a wreck! Go away for a few days and… probably we got drunk. (Back to the present: every night is drunk.Somewhere along the line this chicky from downstairs, German Amy, decided that I am her object of desire, but I, as a proper Monk Post Warrior, make no moves. But every night she is in our flat.)

Camden one night, Amy in tow, we met the kipper bum from weeks earlier. Cat Weasel is his name and he likes Maura. Crazy night. Xmas Eve drunk in a {illegible} just getting and drunk not really but bum sits next to Maura and told lies of wife gone drinking with another and this is a three year old problem and also she’s dead in a car accident. Out to the Redan as soon as he goes to take a leak.

Xmas spent hoping and then getting drunk, but not enough, on store bought Harp and watching cool movies. Two fucked up signs: Dolph Lundgren in a Guinness commercial and then hearing all kinds of {illegible} soundtracks as movie continues and we must call Mr. McDolph. Oh, yeah! I bought a big bottle of port. Man, this stuff sucks.

Letter to Rich M.:

I win! 1st demo . Easy Cure. Mine!!!

Train to Dublin and another boffer rolled. Phone is busy for about an hour and the last beer is long gone.

12/30/1989

Dublin at 6:30AM is very quiet.

Highlights of the past few days: Paddy Hannan’s pub, around noon.

Finding the Guinness brewery while on back streets drunk pub crawl…by compass.

Low light: I only have $200 ($300 actually) left. This caused a mild depression, as there is no way I am going to make the six months. I’ve had a blast any way and have lived in London. I’m going to try to make it to Spain and then home.

Ferry now back to England, train to London. Mickey’s chips and, boyo, do I want a pizza.

01/09/1990

Home.

No Spain.

New Year’s in Trafalgar Square. German Amy managed to separate me from the rest of the girls and we wound up back in her flat, in the dark, in the bath. Nothing happened, but I still feel pretty guilty about this. Maura was not happy about this at all.

No other real action except once Maura and I drank ourselves silly and wound up in a Soho gay bar. The skinhead bouncer stopping me and asking telling me that it was a gay bar do I mind and I with is there beer? So? Next night, last night on trip, seven pints and two shots of whiskey do not mix with a 7-11 Jr. Cheeseburger, as I painfully found out…by praying at the porcelain altar.

My father picked me up at JFK. He was visibly shocked at the state of me. It was a long and quiet ride back to Gales Ferry.

Home.

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the Night my Father was Robbed

my father’s first relationship,
following his divorce from
my mother,
was with a gentle soul.
she had no idea what she was
getting herself into.
i was too young to articulate
my inherent reservation.

when she finally called it off,
my father parlayed a manipulative
relationship with her parents.
they agreed to let him house sit
during a cross country excursion
that was their initial realization of retirement.

my younger brother and me
visited our father due to a court order,
every other weekend. our routine was perfected
in short shrift.
he would pick us up at our mother’s house,
and we would hear the sigh of relief
from the back of her throat
as i opened the door of his faux sports car.
he couldn’t afford his desired Corvette, so he settled for a Capri.

the car parked at the apex
of the horseshoe driveway.
we carried the snacks
our mother would never have allowed us to purchase,
over the threshold of the outdoor patio,
into the elegant kitchen.

we began to unload the groceries.

my father asks us to listen to him, for a moment.

the two of us are taken aback at his
deference to something
seemingly serious.

“someone broke into the house this week….”

he then regaled us with a tale of
educated thieves;
who knew the owner of the house
was a very successful businessman,
selling TV sets
during the golden age of television.

the thieves came to steal the
vintage sets he had accumulated
while owning a retail store.

i believed him. i believed my father.

i convinced myself
that he was telling me the truth. surely,
this was an isolated incident.
and yet, every time i was at that house for a
weekend with my father,
i was petrified.

he went to the grocery store
early, one saturday morning-
to get cereal he had neglected to account for
the previous night.

a few minutes after he left, the house lost all power.
my only thought was to find my brother
and get somewhere safe.
the thieves were back.

we crouched behind a stone wall;
half covered in a pristine green moss,
gazing toward any proof of
entrance, shivering in the damp
March morning. my father drove up
to the property
and witnessed us
crouched behind a farmer’s boundary, where the driveway
met the street.

“what are you guys doing out here?!?!?!?!?”

“there was a sound in the basement, and then the power went out.
i thought the thieves were back….” i replied, in a defiant tone.

“c’mon guys, get in the car….”

we did.
and my father drove the twenty yards
to the back door of the house.

he lied to me.

someone was owed money.
he was targeted for a reason beyond
a vintage television market volatility.

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12/12/1989 to 12/17/1989

12/12/1989

A knock on the door at 10AM but not heard until 12:30. Then and up and alone in a warm house full of food and telly, with Young Ones on tape, so while eating Frosted Flakes I watched for 2 hours and then walked down into Havant Hants, a small town with too many shops. Into an old book store searching for “Naked Lunch” or Jack or something but came away with nothing but the knowledge that small town England is scared of small town US.

Walking, learning town, and finding McDonald’s under construction and think of Gales Ferry. Back to the Burn family hostel house and soon out to pub with Alex’s mates. Only three pints each, as they all work, but I don’t get it.

Back home and start reading “1984” and even after four chapters it affected my dreams, but I don’t remember exactly how.

12/13/1989

8:30AM woken by, holy shit, Graham! Back and basically penniless after his adventure month on the continent. He had a blast. We ate breakfast and lunch and watched Young Ones and bullshat and listened to Mike’s pot tape and bullshat some more until I, now at 10 of 4, head into town to meet Alex in Portsmouth and we wander in and out of shops and he answering my history questions of Portsmouth/Havant Hants, which is an old Roman crossroad and also bombed out in WWII. Into a nice old pub for half glasses before diner and walk/run back home from bus stop as the rain started again.

Huge dinner with fish and true to my “if it is free, eat it” rule I did and along with half the rest of all the food! After dinner, two of Alex’s mates came by and I just busted up laughing because I finally figured out English humor.

Alex’s dad came home as I entered the back door after having a smoke and a fart, and I, with dirty dreads, shook his hand and that was that. Sitting in Alex’s room listening to Graham and others sing and play CSN as I write this now.

Sleep after more “1984”.

{Historical note: on this day, in Reading, PA, USA, Taylor Swift is born.)

12/14/1989

10:30am and up. Mrs. Cleaning 80-Year-Old Woman is downstairs and was probably up at 5, so I am marked a lazy bastard before she even sees me, after which she judges that I am actually a nut.

Day spent with Tom and Graham drinking coffee and watching video tapes. The Burn Hostel had another visitor with pack, but for Alex’s sister at school in London, so she went away.

Second large home-cooked meal in as many days and I gorged again.

Night at college type “cool” pub with two pints and then on to some dance pub in Portsmouth with cool DJs and Go-Go’s and beers and Joy Division, Cure, New Order, Smiths and all kinds of other shit. Almost in two fights. That’s right. Two. First with a bastard who was obviously elbowing my “pals”, as they are all hippyish and small, so I circled around them obviously to block him. He tagged me twice and my gleaming mad eyes reached out and sucked the piss right out of his head. He got the message and was not seen again. The second was while I was upstairs talking to a guy who could maybe handle a beer drinking challenge with your humble author. Alex came up and said “Some wanker’s giving Graham a hard time downstairs”, so down my throat goes a bit more than half a pint and down the stairs let’s go! It was over by the time I got there, but I met the stare of the fucker Nazi wannabe and gave it right back. I was warned by his bigger buddy not to stare, fuck off, and man this little bastard was nuts but would not have been a problem. (Graham: May 2, Kaplan’s, 6:30PM, pack of smokes.)

Back to the house and toast with Graham and talk of fights past, now listening to Megen’s death tape and Waterboys “Whole of the Moon” was played and I went crazy dancing, thinking of her. Good night at 3:30AM

12/15/1989

Graham and I walk down to corner store to buy Cokes and smokes to escape the house as Mrs. Burn is having an Xmas party with her fellow social workers. I get hired for £5 to do the dishes, but the money never comes and I don’t really mind as she’s fed me several meals and given me a nice bed to sleep in.

Off into the night to some club that we had to get to by train. The Hole in the Wall. And to get back we had to take a taxi (£9.50), but the train was free, as was much of the beer!

Back home with a tired Alex and his mate Dom breaks out his hash and rolls two joints. Me, Dom, and Graham go to the back yard and smoke. Dom has a mild epileptic fit and I went to The Beyond as a million intertwined “T”s in yellow and black stripes were all that I could see. Dom eventually was OK, but he’d never had a seizure before. Man, I was really out of it.

Back inside to watch Young Ones (again) until 3:30AM.

{It is now one month since I set out from the US.}

12/16/1989

Back again to the India Pub in Portsmouth with £10 that Graham and I borrowed from Alex. Graham and I are so broke that we combined our change, too, and have been living on human kindness. I drank two ports, which is served as a shot in a half-pint glass. The first was so small that I had to have another. This is not how we drink it back home!

Nothing earth-shattering happened today.

12/17/1989

Tomorrow I will leave The Burn Hostel. Graham’s birthday bash with alcohol-free wine and all kinds of food and bunches of these knuckleheads.

Oh! Yesterday, after pubbing, we went back to Adam’s flat for coffee, which I never got but did smoke off of three joints and felt fine. Other than the port, we did drink some Guinness.
Back to today, I read “1984” during the birthday party and retired to bed to finish reading, but was interrupted for dinner, which was left over party food. Back up to bed to read and they plan on going out later, so I plan on staying in with all of 11p in my pocket! I finished the book just as Graham convinced me to go out. So I go out and get pretty pissed on five pints of Guinness and HSB bitter, free, and again could not piss inside, so I went out.

Home to Alex’s, but the outside night goes on. Down to the bridge over the railway tracks to throw 1p and make a wish. Then talks and then to bed. Tomorrow I head back north, early.

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12/11/1989

Off we go! All packed posting warrior travel madman to Portsmouth suburb Havant to see Alex and Graham T. {edit: Mystic/Noankers, yes, that is the one I am talking about}. Graham is traveling the Continent but should be back in a couple of days. Maura and Sarah buy me a pint of lager and a Guinness at the last resort pub and even a pack of Camels. Pictures taken outside Smoker’s Paradise and one even with a Bobby who couldn’t have been more than 19. Tube to Morden, last stop in London, very south, and walk 45 mins to Route A3 (oh A3!). The forecast from BBC2 is clear ‘til the weekend so everything should be fine.

A3 is like I-95 but everyone drives 80 MPH and the cops don’t bother “until you are over 90” the first of six drivers tells me. He was really cool and had traveled US, Australia, New Zealand. Says England is the toughest for hitching. Fifteen miles later, he drops me off at an exit and I walk with thumb out for easily five miles before a truck stops for me.

Two 22ish males, listening to house music and asking me about the States.

Seven miles with them and I walk, again, three miles, and a really nice sports car, like a Jag or something, stops for me with a tie behind the wheel. As I run to catch up to the car, my small pack pops open and spills its contents on the highway and grass. All I lost was my new cassette of Unknown Pleasures. I managed to recover two shooter bottles of vodka.

He drives about 20 miles and lets me off at a gas station where I get a cup of Java and put on my rain poncho as it is raining (Great! Thanks, BBC!). I then walk about three more miles when another car stops.

Young guy with a tie but not living that life as his car is full of shit, beer cans, sleeping bags, etc, and even “a cooker or two”. He drives about two miles to a pub where he is meeting his friends at now 10:30PM. He gives me a smoke and tells me how to get cheap reliable cars in Brixton and even in London.

Walking in the rain dark night on a Ledyard backroad that is still somehow the A3 but a far cry from the 90MPH I-95 section and I get about another mile when an old guy stops for me. He was fucking nice as shit, telling me about the dream house he is building and a story about a soldier he picked up once and how he was impressed with my canvas rucksack. He drives about five miles to the town that he lives in and apologizes for not being able to bring me further but he has to get up in the morning to work and he is beat tired. Tells me where to stand to get another ride and wishes me a Happy Christmas.

Short 300 yard walk when a car stops and the passenger gets out and yells “Do you want a ride?” Of course I do, you stupid sod! I get in and there is a guy in the back seat and the driver straight right off asks me if I have any hash or grass. No, do you? No, but we are going to get some, where are you going? They bring me almost to Alex’s door and all the while they are talking all paranoid of cops!

11:10PM and I knock the knocker on the door, #7 3rd Ave. Alex’s mom answers and invites me in and THEN realizes that I am the guest that Alex is expecting! She gives me a letter from my mom, talking of tragedies and all all all from home and I am glad that I am not there. Baked beans, toast, and tea comes in and is devoured by me like an animal while she tries to have a pleasant talk and calls Alex at his friend’s house. He shows up and actually gave me a hug and we sit around talking until almost 1:30AM.
{edit: scribbled numbers at the top of the page sum to 66 miles, so not a bad estimate for 1989!}

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12/6/1989 to 12/10/1989

12/6/1989

Maura and I went to a place called “The Station” tonight to see a Blues band made up of two ex-Yardbirds and two other guys. Very good. Skinny blonde white guy belting out deep South accent of old black man.

Four pints drunk and out to find Taco Bell way on the other side of London before it closed. At first Tube stop, Maura tries to steal my beret, so I warn her not to by picking her up and putting her down, but no! She tries again, so I pick her up and slam her down and she hurt her left knee. I felt bad.

Man, these cigarettes are mean. My whole chest hurts and I can’t breathe deep at all…no laugh.

Taco Bell was great, so we went to Burger King to get soda. Maura is in line and this English fuck starts talking to me about her and he proves right off that he is a serious wanker and ugly to boot.

Back to the flat and the others are watching “The Shining”. Into bed and everyone is amazingly tired but restless, so we just keep talking and joking on each other. Maura starts threatening to tickle me and I spazz and jump onto her bed and we start wrestling and I slam her head into the wall, but she said it didn’t hurt. I felt bad again and when the light came on, I had knocked over a wet ashtray and it went all over her clothes pile, so now we have to do laundry tomorrow.

12/7/1989

Night brings Indian food bland bland tasteless. The Calsberg was warm and flat like leftover keg party beer, so we went to the Rodane (our last resort pub) for a single pint each, which soon ended when Samantha and Cute-Or-Not showed up and we got hammered. Julie and Jill talking about how horny they are and tattoos. Julie talking about her ladybug on her upper right thigh and how she is thinking about getting another one on the left, but much…further…up. Wow. Eventually, she finds a room full of toilet paper rolls while on her way to the bathroom. She comes back to the table insisting that we hit it on the way out and so we did, after four or five pints.

On the walk back to the flat, Julie and I start horsing around and she drops to the ground and I lean over to pick her up, but WHAM! Out of nowhere I am suddenly up against a car, being held down by a Bobby without a tit on his head and he’s talking about bringing me in and it is a £20,000 fine for leaning on cars (that he pushed me into!) and going on about rapists and murderers and how I fit in with them. Julie is too drunk to get up, so another Bobby helps her up and starts going off on me and I am almost pissing my pants in fear. Eventually, Julie and the others convince the Bobbies that I am not a rapist and that we are all friends, so they let me go with a stern warning. That pretty much killed the night, but we came away with about 15 rolls of toilet paper.

12/8/1989

During the day, I took Maura’s Walkman and Rich Martin and Michael’s tapes and went to the British Museum to see Lindow Man and the Rosetta Stone. James Brown blasting as I find Lindow Man with the cord still around his neck and it was amazing to see. All this old old older than old stuff everywhere and I cannot help but smile as I walk around aimlessly and thanked three Buddhas (one of which was two-stories high!), but never found the Rosetta Stone.

Night finds us going to see three horror flicks: “Basket Case”, “Motel Hell”, and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. This was no ordinary movie house. They served beers and it was full of punks and the walls were covered in pictures, painted on cartoon-like, about movies and movie stars and all all all nuts.

12/9/1989

Maura brings me to Camden Town to see this big street market for weirdos. Weirdos is right. All kinds of drug paraphernalia and items and weirdo clothing and Tarot card readings and it was like walking through some third world country.

Into, of course, a pub. The Camden Town Free House. Stella, free jukebox, friendly people and we have five pints each. 6 o’clock and we are back in the flat, Maura working on her journal.

About two hours later, she emerges from her room and says we are going to a transvestite bar. So off we go!

On the Tube to the place, a bum sits down next to me with a half-empty bottle of Strongbow cider and asks me for 10p. I have absolutely nothing, so I ask him for some money or some of his beer. He took two mighty hits off it. I thought he was going to empty it, but he saved some and handed the bottle to me, so I downed it as he starts asking everyone on the train for some change. He comes back with nothing as our stop is approaching and I thank him for the cider and wish him luck and shake his hand and gone. Fuckin’ bums.

The transvestite bar turned out to be an Irish pub with a shitty band, unfriendly people, and bad beer. Out we go back to Camden Town to check out a Blues bar we saw earlier, but this turned out to be a biker bar, so we went back to the Free House, which is right around the corner. It was packed! Every type of person was there, all grooving out to Bob Marley & The Wailers. Love that place.

Second “last call” bell in the Free House and I am almost done with my pint and there are assorted half-dead pints on the table in front of Maura and me. Another bum comes over and slams a plastic bag with “kippers” in it down on the table, asks me for a cigarette, sits down, and starts stealing “my” half-dead beers. So I tell him that I saw them first, but I’ll split them with him, so he agrees and the table soon goes dry.

In the street, Maura comments on how she can’t believe that I am stealing bum’s beers all night, and I tell her that wherever there are bums is my home.

At the Tube stop waiting for the train, I start going off on everything and everyone and start talking to “Spanish” man who claimed “No hablo” but really looked English and I scared this chick with pink hair and her boyfriend off a bench so that Maura and I can sit down.

Back in the flat, up ‘til 3:30AM with the girls going off with girl talk and I just wanting to die because it is so graphic and gross.

12/10/1989

Suddenly it is the tenth and I am supposed to be leaving London today! Tomorrow.

In the Free House last night, I saw my Moroccan friend from Ashe’s and he came over and got a big kick out of seeing me in Camden Town and we laugh and say good-bye again. Small small world.

The silence of a Sunday night, as papers take form and “I can’t do this” is mumbled and somehow it all gets done and earns a B. Every Sunday is the same and sometimes on Monday also.

Today I cashed another damn traveler’s check ($100 = £59) and the bastard money changer shorted me £5, so I went back to the booth expecting to hear “Well, you can’t prove I didn’t give it” but didn’t even get the chance, as “the shift has changed” and he was gone. Lesson: count your money.

I decided around noon that I would leave tomorrow, so I packed the pack and even put it on and it was very comfortable and even lighter as I removed the hard-covered journals that I stole from the Coast Guard Academy and it felt really nice and tomorrow I will hitchhike to Havant Hants, Portsmouth, wherever the fuck that is.

The day of the Museum, I received a letter from Rich Martin. That was really great. Someone misses me. All goes shitty for our group and I am glad not to be there.

I just realized that this is the first day in about a month and a half that I did not have any, not even one form of alcohol. No DTs. No worries. {edit: there was a day back in Ireland, I think, but still, that was several weeks ago at this point}

Maura and Samantha staying up late writing studying smoking talking. I go to 7-11 to get smokes. All night they kept talking about Hob Nobs and chocolate, so I pick up some and find a late night chip place. In 7-11 in front of me in line is a tie (1:30AM Sunday/Monday) buying two huge bottles of Perrier and some tuna fish sandwich thing and he looked like he had been thru Hell. Behind me was the scariest evil death chick that I have ever seen. She kept getting out of the queue to get something else and when we got to the front, she ran to put stuff back. It seemed as if she had to work to breathe in, and the scary part was that she had a cross carved into the middle of her face, like Manson’s swastika. Man, she was scary. Into the chip place and the three guys working there were just going completely nuts having fun. They gave me “a lot” of chips and they were really good. Night people, mostly, are more friendly than day people.

Earlier, down in Samantha’s, all work stopped as some Rolling Stones in Morocco for Christmas special, or some such crap, came on the telly. Samantha started dreading up my hair even more, so now I have like twelve of the bastards and still have space on the back of my head for more.

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12/5/1989

Mudhoney last night. First band, The Dark Side, and then Mega City Four followed. First band was pretty lame. 2nd was OK, but not worth the Death Violence crush pit that went on. Mud Honey…

Andy, Maura, Samantha, Jill, Julie (crazy Julie), some other girl from downstairs, who is one of those girls that you can’t tell if they are cute or not, and me standing in front of the middle stage with barricade.

BOOM! Out of nowhere comes MCF and the crush just materialized with the first note and only got worse. Beer, just bought, flying everywhere and by the end of the first song only Samantha and I remained (I buffering her from a bruising, crushing wall of death-flesh) and stayed for the whole long, tiring show, getting stage dove upon and I almost in a fight with long-haired drunk who tried to use me to climb onto the stage and me elbowing him down “Fuck you” “FUCK YOU” the simultaneous grab and death stares his saying “I’m gonna hit you” and mine saying “That’ll be the last thing you do tonight” and really fucking meaning it and he backed down and every time he came near me I would punch him in the ribs.

Soon the stage diving got to be too much as Samantha went down once and me twice and both of us getting kicked in the head by combat boots and at the end I had a fat lip and bloody ears. So I would knock wannabe divers over the barricade slam on the floor and grab airbournes by the shirt and throw them honest to god down wham on the floor, more than a half dozen of these, and man was I fuckin’ pissed off and started yelling between songs that stagediving was for 15-year-olds and pussies. Show’s over. Julie at last report was piss drunk and no one knows where she is.

Home we go and within 20 mins Julie comes through the door with The Dark Side and their manager and sound guy and two girls, one very cute, and hash cigs blaze and cups of tea for everyone several times and even PB&J on peta bread. Very quiet fast (1 hour) post-gig party and to counteract the hash the manager blows a line and they are gone out the door into the night.

On the Tube coming home, it is me and four girls. Three drunk and high punks target the girls. No way, muthafucks, I’m still pissed off and pumped up and sober! Mild harassment as we four males sat facing they four females and not to claim to be a hero but just doing a saint’s job let the bastards know that they were going to do nothing. One did not get the clue and followed us off the train and claiming to be in love with Cute-Or-Not and I stop walking and wait for them to catch up with me and he sees me and knows now that I mean it and runs back towards the train. Not out of the station yet but up two long escalators and BOOM he is there bugging her again but soon leaves.

Today I found the spiciest pizza (Prima Pasta near Queensway Tube stop), Americana Hot. I looked for my next JK book as “Logic” blows but only found “On the Road”. Into Tower Records for a “Bible” tape of Faith, or 17 Seconds, or Joy or NO and came away with Closer and Unknown Pleasures. The full Bible.

Postcards wrote and off to see where Jack the Ripper ripped. What a poor depressing area. Death and murders going on to this day. Bums sleeping under parking garage lip and it would be very easy to “lose your shit” and go totally psychotically crazy living here…even today. Doomed out old abandoned school rising up out of junk field with light blue night sky and low white puffy clouds racing by…even the clouds did not want to be here…and the guide tells us that last month a bum was killed inside so I made Samantha take a picture of it because it was spookier than the spookiest thing Hollywood could ever dream up because this was real and Jack lived not three blocks from it and you could still feel the coldness loneliness mad craziness violence of his atrocities.

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12/03/1989

12/03/1989

Walk in Hyde Park today. Cold Day Grey cold and lonely. I have a London cold and am completely stuffed up. What am I supposed to expect would happen? More beer than food. But this is slowing down as I am spending far too much cash.

Hyde Park with bare, black bark, bough bent trees, wilting from centuries of cold destruction, would make a very nice cemetery. I looked for the Peter Pan statue that was erected overnight as a surprise for the kids at a playground, now closed down due to vandalism and too many years of use, but could not find him. Saw Victoria and an amazing elven inn carved out of a great old dead tree 15’ high with little elves and animals painted and carved into it. You just do not see things like that in America, but I find day by day that USA is the place to be whoever whatever you are or want to be.

Tonight’s dinner at Fatso’s Pasta Joint. £2.95 all you can eat. Three bowls, two Cokes and one beer. I fell in love with this very cute blonde girl who I even caught looking at me in interest more than a few times and I do not feel bad about this because I had a dream last night in which I came home 2 weeks early to surprise everyone and found that Megen was seeing another.

Maura had a beer at Fatso’s with a flag of blue with 12 gold stars in a circle and I could not figure it out as it was brewed in France and was written in French. It had a 1992 on it twice.

Back at the flat, I learned thru the telly that 1992 and the flag are symbols of the EEC. 1992 being the target date for full flung single mono-political open market Europe. Propaganda beer, but an OK idea. They are moving too fast towards that goal and many people are not for it, as it is kindda a totalitarianistic goal with total rule down to what to feed the cows. Too much control.

“The Outsiders” on BBC1. Emilio Estevez plays Two-Bit Matthews (2 Bit Matts?). Beer guzzling loud rowdy.

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