Thursday, March 08, 2012

Death Be Not Loud, The Exciting Conclusion!

Is it possible to choose Life and Love and still keep one's life in this world? From Jesus to Lennon the answer has always been "No". We simply won't allow it. These people reveal our failures in too clear a light. Oh, we like to pawn off our assassinations on a few bad apples but truth is they are committed by common consent. We allow these bad apples to live among us.

And it's not like the situation is getting better - which means it's getting worse...


Chester's Descent and The Voices Of Ill Repute

Chester was a new man driving home that wonderful, magical night. His self-image thrown into turmoil, an inkling of belief sprouted for his fanciful dreams. He also thought it unusual he was more than halfway home before he thought of calling the guys. I danced with Julie Steel! We talked! We exchanged meaningful words! This was better than any sexual conquest - Chester respected himself afterwards. He picked up his cell out of forced habit, then noticed he didn't want to call after all.

"Those two creeps." Am I a creep too? "They wouldn't understand. Not everything is about fucking." The phone returned to his seat with the fading desire but a sense of vague pestering guilt lapped up on the shores of his soul.

Chester was on top of the world but could not tell a soul. What did that mean? But it did not take long for the descent to begin.

All during the week he dreamed of nothing but her, still riding the high. He replayed their conversation, analyzed his feelings, other times the shit eating grin returning to his face all on its own. At work he was dangerously distracted. His ambition for promotion struck him as pointless folly, a tsunami of fear crashing down on him he might spend the rest of his life in meaningless labor.

Chester was a chrysalis in its earliest, most vulnerable stages. He was taking the first nervous steps of self-discovery, the dawning of a butterfly to be. But was he really a beautiful butterfly or was he just shooting off his mouth again? Admit it, you're always talking big, like you're the shit. Time to be honest with yourself!

Next Saturday, she was not there. Chester asked around, she had not shown up last night either. Of course not, she has a real life - while the club was his whole life. He wanted to resent her but he wanted to trust her more. She wasn't rejecting him, a thousand reasons for her to be someplace else. But when she didn't show again the week after, cold water sobered Chester's mind. Maybe he'd made her up. Did I really deserve that dream?


Charlie Couts wanted to die in the worst way. Driving the grain truck to the elevator like a thousand times before, he misjudged the speed of the semi closing up behind him. Just as Charlie turned left, the eighteen wheeler attempted to pass him on the left, slamming his forehead into the dash, knocking him unconscious. When he came to, Charlie had run right through a barbed wire fence, sitting in a corn field with a broken rear axle.

But his shame was much worse than that.

The unconfessable secret for the reason of his crime lay at the feet of the newly elected black President. At the dining table the previous night his father's words had been so sharp - so outrageously wrongheaded about the President - Charlie found his instinct to be to rebuke his father. OK if you don't like the guy but that sort of hatred is going to eat you alive! But how could his father see Charlie disagreed because he genuinely loved him?

In the pregnant pause that followed his father’s rant, Charlie died. Pity won the day. He'll never understand. He won't change no matter what I say anyway. I'll say something later when I become a man. But Charlie's conscience wasn't buying it. And it was while reliving that hellish wrestling match when the world intruded upon his struggles leaving him unable to explain his predicament of the broken axle.

Charlie sat unmoving in the truck, staring at the glint of sunshine on the chrome trim of the windshield, praying never to be found, knowing his future filled with perilous pain.


Two days later Charlie's dire drunkenness came knocking on Chester's door. He noticed neither Sam nor the trailer's owner as he made his way to plopping down on Chester's torn leather recliner. People were just going to have to understand: he didn't want to be alone and he didn't want to talk.

Sam tried the most benign story he knew. "Guess who came in for breakfast this morning? Julie Steel in these hot jeans like you wouldn't believe. Her whole fucking family was with her but I didn't care. I think I'm in love!"

"Who gives a shit!" snarled Charlie.

Charlie was right. Who gave a shit about Sam's immature desires - but immaturity had been their common bond. Growing up was treason. Yet no one in the trailer was a stranger to the misery Charlie displayed. Teenage dreams never come true for teenagers. And Charlie was staring directly into staying eighteen for life. Shame's prison knows only one way out.

Charlie told Chester and Sam the lie of his accident's facts. The truth he kept for himself, though he ached to be set free of his cell. His gun slinging ways always so quick on the draw to criticize betrayed him now in his hour of need. Surely the other two would leap at the chance to take revenge on his constant harping.

But Sam had already half-guessed Charlie's problem. What's really bugging him is something with his father. He thinks he can't confess what I already know! But if I say anything he'll bite my living head off. Two souls dying to speak, drowning in the sounds of silence. Chester had had enough of the self-pity and cowardice. He was proud of what he'd done - and damn tired of holding it in.

"I danced with Julie Steel. She told me all sorts of things. We talked night away." Chester's perusing eyes gave no quarter to any petty rebukes.

"How the fuck you do that?" Sam fearfully asked.

"There's a disco club in Amarillo. Been going there last two years. Julie showed up Saturday before last and we danced our hearts out. It was great. Un-fucking-believable. Never experienced anything like it in my life."

Shit, Chester, you're telling them everything! This must be the new you! But I see you didn't have the guts to use the word "friend". Is she your friend?

"Jesus, Chester," marveled Sam, basking in the associated glory for their gang. "Maybe you could introduce us."

"Sure thing. Come on up to the club." He'd die before he violated her privacy. Don’t be a punk, Sam.

"I ain't doin' no fag dancing!" Finally, something to make Charlie feel superior! But Chester's ears burned to a crisp.

"You fuckers do what you want. I looked into her eyes. She respects me. We moved together. You can't understand that feeling!"

"Shit, Chester! It's not like you fucked her!" - which was Sam's way of asking if he actually had. And if Chester had fucked her, Sam would never speak to him again. Sam too had an unconfessed secret.

Year and a half ago when Sam had been fired from his "real" job at a "real" restaurant he'd been forced to take a pizza delivery job. One of those deliveries was to the Steel Ranch house, a place of shiny new trucks, careless laughter and a hunger for living. Old man Steel took the pizza, looked Sam up and down and spotted the obvious loser he was. When the door shut, closing Sam off from his peek into this otherworldly heaven, he'd never felt so little and low.

Is that all you've done with your life? That was the question Old Man Steel's eyes seemed to ask. Charlie peeled out of the driveway naked before the world.

Now, for Chester to have conquered that world, to have found acceptance by its ruling queen - no, never, never! Sam was standing at the door all over again - only this time he had witnesses, the two worst witnesses on the planet!

"None of your goddam business what I did!" Chester barked.

"He ain't fucking nobody, Sam. Probably making the whole thing up anyways!"

Chester launched an attack on Charlie, knocking him off the recliner, and would have killed him had not Sam pulled him off. "Get out of here, motherfucker! Fuck you! I never been so goddam pissed in my life!" Chester made another move towards his drunk mate as Sam helped Charlie up and out the door.

"And don't come back! Go suck your daddy's dick! You know you want to, you fat fuck!"

Chester was still heatedly pacing when Sam re-entered. Chester was out of control.

"Can you believe that guy? How could he say something like that? Calling me a liar! You believe I was with her. You know I wouldn't make something like that up. God, that chaps my ass!" Chester kicked a hole in the wall.

"Why does he get to you so bad?" Sam was trickier inserting the knife than crude Charlie.

"I don't know," lied Chester, calming down, curious as to the answer himself.

"Dude, I'm not saying you weren't with her. Just kind of hard to believe you're all the sudden best friends."

"I didn't say that..." Chester's resolve faded as Sam had hoped.

"Women like that, man, they're all class. They won't say anything. They keep shit to themselves."

"What do you mean?"

Sam confessed his moment at the Steel's door in his own way. "You gotta understand, Chester. People like her see right through you. Embarrass the shit out of her and she still won't say a thing. You could be making a fool of yourself and never know it."

Was it not real? She hadn't come back since. Had I embarrassed her? I'd rather die! Just tell me! Fuck, I thought it was real! Chester drooped.

"I'm tired. 'Bout time for your shift anyway, isn't it?"

"Sure, Chester." Sam walked over knife in hand, smiling as he killed. "Don't worry about Charlie, man. He's got problems of his own." Sam placed his hand on his victim's back. "But don't let that Julie Steel make a chump out of you." Chester's eyes flashed angry denial. "Just sayin', man. Do what you want. Maybe she really will make you her man."


Julie's newfound connection with Chester was just what the doctor ordered. Being able to share a piece of her previous Dallas life was the perfect tonic to her ails. She was pissed at herself at being trapped by her family obligations. She swore she wouldn't return, the ranch be damned. Her life was important too. But in the end, guilt won the day.

No one in the house appreciated her excited chatter upon returning from the club, sounded too much like escaping. They conspired the next two Saturdays to keep her on the ranch but she put her foot down at a third. Would Chester be pissed at her absence? She looked forward to making it up to him. Maybe - just maybe - he could help her find herself.

But Chester could not imagine her life as anything but perfect already, living in luxury as the most wanted woman in town.


Chester cried grieving, burning tears nonstop that next Saturday night drive to the club. He decided Sam was right. He was never going to be her man. Funny, he'd been OK with that until Sam mentioned it. But he must face the honest truth: he was imposing on her. The idea she'd never return to the club drove Chester out of his mind. But what right had he to demand her time?

Only her man could do that. "Fuck you, God," moaned Chester. "Fuck you and your rules. Goddam, I want to be with her."

In this tortured state, Chester buried his own unconfessed secret: that he only reached the heights of his dance she had seen because of her, that he needed her. "Tell her that and you'll get The Lecture, the Look of Pity, and the Wave Goodbye." But it's killing me!

That night, Chester played it cool with Julie, pretending he did not want to dance with her, wiping the smile off her face. When she did dance, he spoke in loud disapproval to those around him. At last, she fled the floor when she could stand it no more. She flipped Chester the bird on her way out. He replied with a false, prideful smile.

After a face saving amount of time, Chester also left, walking in complete dread to his truck, picking up his revolver, placing it in his mouth, debating if he should pull the trigger.


CODA: Sam couldn't face Chester after knifing him the way he had, destroying his greatest triumph. Hounds of guilt chased him night and day. More than ever he was sure of his inability to make it in the world. What do all my smart ass remarks really amount to? Not a thing. Only resolution Sam could see was for him too to be accepted by the great Julie Steel - warts and all. That's when he got arrested for streaking on their property, proving the doubts of Old Man Steel at last, believed Sam.

The County Prosecutor salivated at Sam's very public and gossiped dilemma. He ordered a search of Sam's computer and hit the jackpot, finding 4,682 images downloaded from After very careful examination, 46% were of the bikini babes were determined to be minors. Since the pictures were ruled to be for personal gratification, that made them child pornography in the eyes of the law.

At the press conference crowing over the guilty verdict and Sam's three year sentence, the Prosecutor declared the children of the town safe from someone who "was only a matter of time before he attacked a child." After winning re-election in a landslide, he promptly went home and viciously beat his underage teenage daughter for having "Impure thoughts".

"I am a god! I am untouchable! You will not make me look bad!"

CODA II: Charlie had the misfortune of running into the County Judge - or rather the Judge's goat. Humiliated by Chester he became more determined than ever to "man up" and defeat his demons. That only made his demons stronger. Charlie turned loud and obnoxious (real men don't give a damn what people feel) but his drinking increased in direct proportion.

In what became a legendary drunken stupor, Charlie convinced himself fucking the Judge's goat to be an irresistible act of self revelation. Real men will fuck anything that moves, he reasoned. Once sober, Charlie could face no one, overhearing his father complain, "I knew I should never of raised him as some fag Episcopalian."

Charlie works under an assumed name at a truck stop in an unidentified New Mexico city. His boss is a black man and Charlie always addresses him as "Sir".


CODA III: For several weeks Chester drove to the club but never entered. He just wanted to see if Her car was there. For a while he privately imagined dancing with her in his home, but guilt soon suffocated even that. Satisfied she was never returning, Chester lost all hope of life and love. Stabbing stress gave him his first grey hairs.

Questions pitchforked any relaxing moment. Did I let her down? How could she want anything to do with me? Some big shot is probably fucking her right now and she's forgotten all about me. What could I offer her? She only knows my dancing from dancing with her, not the real me. I must have my integrity. Truth is, I'm just nothing. Or if not, I'm the world's biggest jerk.

In Chester's new Saturday night routine he drove his pickup down furious farm to market roads, losing his mind in the darkness; his castle nothing more than a prison to which return. Lost and confused, he looked no man in the eye, embracing his new false morality of nothingness. "As long as I'm nothing I did no wrong. Nothing I must be."

Death be not loud.

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