Wednesday, January 07, 2015

It's The Devil You Don't Know Who Does You In


"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled 
was convincing the world he doesn't exist."

Kennedy Cooper was special. He died not knowing that. At 1:12 AM on a Monday morning his car was found off Interstate 35 just south of Waco. The car had veered off the road just past a guardrail, tumbling over several times. The driver was the only occupant. It was determined he was travelling at a high rate of speed.

"What possesses someone to drive like that? What could have been so important...," mused highway patrolman Finster, sickened by the sight of yet another human loss.

"The devil got him!" asserted his fellow officer.

"Shut up, McManus! I don't want to hear that shit now."

"Only thing that makes sense. Devil got control of his life and ran him right off this bridge. Was his time to go."

Finster didn't know why but that last remark really got under his skin. "Just shut it, alright! Not this time. Not every fucking wreck is some sort of karmic retribution, you asshole."

"Same thing happened to Bruce Lee. Sold his soul and bam! Gone in an instant." McManus was especially proud of this perceived insight into the human condition. He felt was on the side of Nature and took particular joy in Her justice. Finster simply walked away in clenched fist, questioning his life choices.

*****



T'was the Summer Of Love 1967. A child was born to two rabid Hippies, Dave and Edie. To honor the late President whom they adored over anyone else, the boy was named Kennedy. They hoped with this small gesture the man's spirit could continue, blazing new light into a dark world. The feeling of the times was magical. "We're on the verge of something. I'm not sure what it is but I think we're on the dawn of a new and better world," dreamed Dave into Edie's eyes. Then they both looked at their son. Fixing the world hadn't been so hard after all.

Nixon's election and the assassination of Robert Kennedy turned the couple off from politics for life. Like their late son's car would decades later, the world had veered off the road heading into a ditch. Nixon's first term ended and still the war raged on. The protest movement was but a parrot of its past, no longer knowing what or why they were protesting, merely repeating the slogans they believed they should believe. Nixon's re-election proved the authorities to be self-evident.

"Doesn't anyone believe in peace, love and understanding anymore?"
- John Lennon

Truth was, they never did. Was a bittersweet satisfaction to find out the devil had been elected President. Leftover Hippies cried out, "We told you so!" But too many had blood on their hands with the revelation of high crimes and misdemeanors having been duly voted for by so many millions. Never again would the nation want to know its President. As far as they were concerned from now on the President was as Pharaoh from ages past: descended from the gods and infallibly trustworthy. This helped to sleep at night after the long national nightmare.


Kennedy heard constant leftist rhetoric as he grew up. It seemed so very romantic! Can world peace really be true? His parents spoke with such authority on the issues - and they believed in world peace. Kennedy often wondered why everyone didn't agree with his parents when they were so obviously right. He took their empty slogans to heart just as they wished he would. Be the change we can't be! The couple had followed so many "isms" of the past but in guilty shame they found themselves sucked into an "ism" that silenced their hearts: materialism.

"Why not? We deserve it." Dave and Edie felt that their ideals justified their good living. What does "selling out to the man" even mean, anyway? One should support peace, love and understanding - but only when it's practical. Peace and a BMW, that's the smart play! But their son took them at face value, marveling at how they kept their integrity even in the face of such worldly possession. An enormous pressure began to build, vaguely at first, of living up to their high ideals - and even the Kennedy legacy.

By the time of graduation in 1985, the Reagan Devolution was in full swing. The "Dark Prince", as Kennedy's father referred to him, was throwing a national greed party. In a way this was thrilling to Kennedy, giving him a cause célèbre to fight. He'd researched and studied his namesake and grew to be truly inspired beyond anything his parents had made him feel. Just the sound of JFK's voice sent his spirit soaring. Somewhere in that deep sunshine of the early Sixties lay paradise and he was determined to prove it.


Kennedy felt special in all the world. No one believed as he did! Everyone was talking past each other. "Just communicate and you'll see it's really OK!" He could feel the famed President looking down on him, smiling and approving, keeping the flame of liberty alive. "I am the last living liberal!" His fiery speeches would shame the greed movement into dissolution and right the country back out of the ditch of 1968. The way Kennedy felt he could believe nothing else.

College. The word had an aura to it. His parents had glorified it as a near holy experience when they marched the streets facing arrest while singing in unison. Even deep into the 80's their eyes still sparkled when speaking of those intoxicating times. Kennedy wanted to bring all that back. Why not? The principles of peace, love and understanding were just as valid then as any other time. Once people realized this, the movement would start again - only this time for real!

The rarefied air of the college campus suited Kennedy just fine. Many leftist groups still abounded on Berkeley, which allowed him to have his say. He was complimented on his voice and passion by the choirs to whom he preached but when it came to his first debate he failed miserably. "Fucking moron Hippie! Get over it! Get a job in the real world. What an idiot!" Kennedy never expected anyone to mock peace, love and understanding. To him, that is a death wish. What did they know that he did not.

In October of 1988 the debate between the two Vice Presidential candidates was to be held. Kennedy's parents were long time supporters of Lloyd Bentsen and told Kennedy he could pick up some pointers if he watched. That night changed his life forever.

"Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy.
Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine.
Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."



And in that moment, Kennedy too knew he was no Jack Kennedy. He'd been horrified by the statement, feeling it had been directed at him. Tomorrow across the campus he'd be mocked high and low. His growing feeling of being special all through high school and into his college years evaporated in an instant. Suddenly relegated to the dustbin of history, his delusional life laid bare, Kennedy's life took a sharp turn into a ditch. What had he been thinking? He went from feeling the smartest man alive to the dumbest. On top of that, Bentsen lost the election. Get a job, you stupid Hippie.

A philosophy degree for a man who'd lost his philosophy proved worse than useless. Kennedy's provisional plan had always been to write a best selling book he knew would set the world on fire. Funny now how certain he'd been of that happening. Now he cringed at the thought of ever even entertaining it. He broke up with his long time girlfriend before she could find out the true measure of his fraudulence. They had spoken of kids so naturally and expectedly. But like the book, that thought now seemed the height of absurdity.

Life in the roadside ditch brought only further disintegration. Kennedy free-fell as his identity erased itself from his memory. Just who had he really been all his life? Certainly not the heir to Jack Kennedy! Think about it. What are the odds? What a fool to believe he was an historic figure in his own right. Worse, whatever he was supposed to be was lost to him by wasting those many years dreaming. The name Kennedy became an albatross around his neck - and he hated his parents for it. "God damn them for suckering me into that bullshit!"


The Nineties were the end of everything. Kennedy's parents got a (ugly) divorce. He himself could find no job, settling for a hospital janitor. The man with the philosophy degree mopping floors. How appropriate! Thank God I broke off with Julie. What would she have said having found out this was her future. I guess that debate stopped me before I made a total fool of myself. And yet, the feeling he was making a fool of himself got stronger every day. Maria the housekeeper picked up on this, finding him a handsome boy whom she could never hope for with his fancy college degree.

"You know how you walk? You walk like someone getting Greek. You know what that is?" Kennedy did not and was shocked to find out. Maria worked on him, though, convincing him that's who he really was. He practiced squealing like a pig for her in the car during breaks. It was the first time in a long time anyone was happy with him so he finally acquiesced to being filmed by Maria as he received Greek from her husband. Since Maria received this on a continual basis this was the highlight of her life to at last put someone else in her position. Kennedy's need for fantasy fulfillment played out his own living nightmare.

Once word got out and the cute nurses started making pig noises at him and laughing Kennedy quit and started living in his car, cutting off all contact with the world. In the go-go Nineties everyone was making money except for Mr. Delusional freezing his ass off in the night cold. The cynical mockers had been right. He'd been wrong. Kennedy'd have no problem dying at that very moment. But he didn't. So somehow he had to make himself respectable outside of the fantasy he'd created as a child, a la a Nixonian cover-up.


He found a warehouse job with decent wages. Married an alcoholic who'd caused birth defects on a child from a previous marriage due to her drinking. They bought a WWII house with a crumbling driveway and his checklist was complete: Job, marriage, home. So why the feeling he was playing the fool? This is who I am! This is what I am! Why do I keep feeling I'm missing out? Kennedy's mind was held in a mental lock. The mind-fuck of his name tortured him with both doubt and faith.

In the 2000's he strove at last for materialism. "The smart move!" Kennedy was pissed he hadn't jumped on the bandwagon in the 90's. "I always zig when I should zag! What's wrong with me?" With the dot com bubble burst times were tough again. Still, he pressed forward, ending his phony marriage, taking the equity from the house and building on it. Guilt dogged him heavily for his vain pursuit. But then again, didn't guilt dog him when he was broke too? Somehow someway he must live the fantasy life of which part of him so stubbornly beyond all reason still believed.

He created his dream vacation in San Antonio. Money was to be no object, first class all the way. Kennedy felt disturbed, that he was violating the space-time continuum, that he was stepping into footsteps reserved for the other Kennedy, the one who'd made something of his life. To create a rip in the universe like that...something horrible would happen! But that's about as valid as me writing a best seller.

River Walk 1

The vacation was like a dream, very often feeling unreal. No rips in the universe, no karmic backlash. In this very delicate balancing act Kennedy achieved the prized illusion of a successful man. He even flirted with the very sexy front desk clerk looking so sharp in her deep blue blazer (also named Maria!) Sitting in his car about to leave the hotel, the experience had become so heady Kennedy started to believe his own propaganda. Maria rushed out to hand him his credit card receipt he'd left behind. Kennedy didn't want the moment to end.

"Oh, uh, hey, could you do me a favor?" He felt like he was asking for sex, fumbling, his mind racing. "Could you throw away this bag for me? Hate driving in a cluttered car."

"Sure, no problem," she beamed. Damn, she does like me!

Not wanting to spoil the moment, Kennedy zoomed off toward I-35. The high he was on was like a floating dream. He had done as he wanted, lived it up like the winners do, and amused himself with thoughts of life with a sexy girl like Maria. And to her, the name Kennedy meant nothing. Perfect! As far as the annoying doubt that kept piercing his side, no the universe had not collapsed. He'd finally erased delusions from his life. Then he remembered something.

"The bag! The fucking bag! Oh, God no!"

Kennedy stopped the car at a rest stop, frantically searching it top to bottom. "God damn fuck, I knew it! Making all the right decisions then I blow it at the end like I always do." Things made sense once again. Trying to impress that girl like a fool, inside that big was the lottery ticket he'd bought, the one he thought was sure to win with the lucky streak he was on.

He'd been driving for three hours. It would be another three hours back. Would her shift be over? Was a hundred million dollar ticket going to end up in the dumpster? The voices were at full volume. "You idiot of all idiots! This defines your whole life, doesn't it? Just can't accept anything good, can you? If you'd stayed honest with yourself and not lost your mind over that girl you wouldn't be in this mess. Now you'll never know what you could have had!"


That last thought tormented Kennedy, roasting him alive. For the rest of his days he'd be haunted by that ticket. But to go back, to reveal his desperation to her over the ticket, that his act was all an act, oh the indignity once more. Back and forth he debated, his mind on fire. "I have to know! I have to put out these flames. I have to go back no matter what." But he only made it as far as his tumbling death.

CODA: The lottery ticket - of which no numbers matched - had been in Kennedy's coat pocket all along. The delusion was in thinking he needed to not have faith in himself and drive back certain he'd lost his one chance for happiness. The 21st century continued on its path of self-betrayal, putting into high office those who lauded loudest the principles they most intended to betray. But the great masses insisted that to not know the devil was to be safe from the devil.

Kennedy's father whom Kennedy so wanted to impress lived as a drunkard in Miami. He never told his son how his parents had given him the middle name of Roosevelt and the horrid pressure that put on him to live up to it. His rationale for naming his son: "He won't be an idiot like I was. There'll be no devil in him. He really will live up to JFK." But in reality, he just wanted to fuck up his own kid just like his parents had done to him.



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