letters to Harrison

Letters to Harrison: 2

Did you finish that last poem? Lying there on the floor, pen in hand, shall it be labeled unfinished? I read an article by a reporter who had met you at a young age. Your advice to a thirteen-year-old boy was to stay away from the Hollywood coke scene. You forgot to mention the booze and women too, or are those okay in your book? I worked on a television show in Seattle and while I wasn’t offered the magic powder to help with my writing, I was given copious amounts of alcohol by a man who was five years sober in AA. Leave it to alcoholics to live vicariously through others. We all do that don’t we? A writer lives the life he wants to live through his characters. He imagines himself with the damsel, doing things that he could not physically do on a good day. And if you are a horrible writer they live happily ever after, because we both know that isn’t true. I have a second daughter on the way, another life I have to disappoint with the truth if I want her to live a decent life. There is nothing worse than living in a world of false expectations and learning later that princesses and fairies are pure imagination. Puberty takes care of most of that for those that are fortunate. High school takes care of the rest. Men with daughters are destined to feel guilty about their desires. What was it that led you to drink? We have opposite taste you and I. I can not touch vodka without ruining my week and have learned that bourbon is my drink of choice. As for red wine I have always been fond of the Italians but will admit that a recent Cotes Du Rhone was a delicious choice last week. Maybe it was the red wine that kept you with us for so long, making up for those American Spirits, removing one nail from the coffin at a time. I made that pumpkin soup today, playing around with cookbooks as you would have done. Its amazing how one can long for food from their past, meals you will never have again. A Muslim friend longed for his mother’s stuffed grape leaves and when I found some and brought them for his lunch break, he never talked to me again. Sometimes it is the gesture of kindness that gets us into the most trouble. It’s the long recipes that discourage me, dozens of ingredients that turn a twenty-minute cook time into an hour of work and a trip to the grocery store. Truth be told, the best meals need little but good ingredients and a little bit of love. But you already knew that, didn’t you?


The Tale of Ninja Matt

It was a Tuesday night when my neighbor decided he was going to have a party in his car parked behind his house. I didn’t think anything of it at first knowing that on previous nights like this one the parties were short lived after he downed a bottle of vodka and passed out in his house. This night was already turning out differently from the rest.
I was upstairs in my office working on a story when the music started. The bass of the subwoofer vibrated the windows of my house and looking outside I could see the car rocking back and forth as the occupants hollered out the lyrics to a rap song. My wife came into the room with a window overlooking the backyard and alley and looked out at the car with smoke billowing out of the windows.
“Do you hear this shit?” she asked as the walls shook.
“Yup,” I said not wanting to deal with it. This kind of thing had become a regular occurrence throughout the summer and I wanted to see how long it would go on before calling the police.
“I’m calling the cops,” she said before I stopped her.
“That’s the one neighbor that likes us. We aren’t going to bed yet. If they are still at it in an hour then I’ll call.”
I didn’t take long for the guys outside to ruin their own party. Dennis lived in the house since the year before and I had learned from talking to him that his sister owned the house and let him stay in it. He owned the Cadillac parked behind it and I had no idea what he did for a living. Tonight, his job was to party and they were taking it very seriously.
“They’re throwing things in our yard,” she said in disgust and horror.
I bolted out of my chair and looked out the window to see a beer can soaring through the air into my yard. Next was a liquor bottle and other trash. This was a line they should not have crossed.
“What are you going to do?” she asked.
“Giving it back.”
I went into the bedroom and pulled out all the black clothes I owned. Head to toe I looked like Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon and I snuck out the front door and into the back yard. I walked around picking up all the cans and liquor bottles of which there were already many. I walked over to the fence and tossed them back over without anyone noticing. The smell of marijuana was in the air. Dennis sat on his porch puffing away at his own joint while a second made the rounds in the car.
I sat back on a bench in my yard and waited for the next item to fly over the fence. Upstairs my wife watched and waited. Her job was to call the police if there was some kind of altercation during this adventure.
The music was cracked up and the lyrics “fuck that bitch, fuck that bitch” were repeated through the neighborhood. As the song was cracked up, the windows were rolled down and a red light flew over the fence, a burning ember like a shooting star across the sky. I ran over to it and found the cigarette still lit. I picked up the butt and flicked it back over the fence in the same direction it came from. I sat back on the bench and waited for the next thing.
What I didn’t see was that the lit cigarette went back through the sunroof if had been thrown through and into the car. A minute later all hell broke loose.
The following is the conversation I heard between four very drunk and high men from the other side of the fence. I don’t know who was speaking at the time:
“Ow, ow man, what the fuck man. Oh shit, get it off get it off. What the fuck!”
“What the fuck you doing in my car man?”
“Man, that cigarette burned my leg man.”
“Why the fuck you burn your leg?”
“I didn’t burn my leg. Why the fuck you throw that cigarette in the car man?”
“Why the fuck would I throw a cigarette in my own car?”
“I saw you throw that cigarette in the car. It came in through the sunroof.”
“Why the fuck would I do that? It’s my fucking car.”
“This hurts really bad man. This shit hurts.”
“Man, it’s a cigarette. Why you being a bitch?”
“Look at it, this shit hurts. What the fuck you want me to do?”
“Why the fuck are you guys throwing shit in my car?”
“How the fuck did we throw it in? we’re in the motherfucking car.”
“I gots ta go to the hospital.”
“You aint got to go to the hospital. It’s a cigarette burn.”
“Look at this shit. This shit hurts.”
“Fuck you.”
“Man, his pants are burnt and everything.”
“What the fuck, you want me to drive your ass to the hospital when we downed a fifth of absolute. Are you out of your fucking mind?”
“This fucking shit hurts man.”
“God damn it.”
I hear keys jingling out of a pocket and the car doors opening.
“Get in the fucking car.”
The car starts and the Cadillac slowly strolls out of the tight space and disappears into the alley.
I go back into the house where my wife is on the floor laughing.
“Oh my god, how the hell did you do that? That cigarette went right back through the sunroof they threw it through. What the hell happened?”
“It landed in a guys lap and burned him. They’re taking him to the hospital.”
We both laughed and started to enjoy the silence of the night. The yard was clean, the air smelled fresh and the sound of bats could be heard fluttering through the air. We finally had our night back.
The next morning, I saw Dennis in his yard mumbling to himself. I went out back and started racking the leaves that were already starting to fall from the trees.
“These lazy ass motherfuckers,” Dennis pops his head over the fence. “these motherfuckers come over to my house and trashed my fucking yard. Ain’t nobody got any respect these days.”
“Man, that sucks,” I had to force my laughter deep down to get through this conversation.
“Fucking liquor bottles, beer cans. Who drinks this shit? Those motherfuckers ain’t coming back here. Fuck this shit.”
Dennis’ car wasn’t there and I wondered what happened to it. He put all the bottles and cans into a grocery bag and set it by the house where it would stay. Dennis disappeared after saying a few choice words about his friends and I never saw him again after that. The car never returned and the house was declared condemned a few months later. I can’t say I miss Dennis, the man who would catch catfish out of the local rivers and dump the heads and guts behind the fence to rot stinking up my yard. The guy who would hit on my wife while sunbathing. The guy who told his friends to throw their shit in my yard the night before. That guy, fuck that guy. I hope they were pulled over, the car impounded, maybe his license taken away. When you act like an asshole, sometimes you’re going to get fucked. Do not mess with the ninja Matt, you will never know what happened.