Excerpts from INDIGO, a novel in progress
All our fathers' dreams.
I hate bologna. Okay, I know, short list, I hate a lot of things. But just par exemple, I'm going to throw bologna out there. I hate it, I've always hated it, can't even get it in my mouth without retching and puking.
No matter how much I cried and whined about not wanting bologna as a kid it was, “shut up an' eatcha fuckin' food! Kids are starvin' in China, ya spoiled brat!” The fight would go on forever until me being unable to choke it down was too protracted and ugly a spectacle for my folks to endure and so they would let it go.
My Uncle was a prison guard. He used to tell me all kinds of stories about what happened to guys who wouldn't eat their bologna in prison. He said, “we'd put 'em up against the wall and say, 'buddy, you'd better eat your bologna!' “. I had a couple of takeaways from this....the first was that my Uncle, and probably everyone else in my family, thought there was something wrong with me and I was going to go to prison.
My second takeaway was that bologna was way the hell too important to these people. And they had veto power over my feelings. “He's just cryin' for attention! Eat that food or I'll smack ya teeth outta that mouth!”
And if it were so easy to just shut up and eat that food, I would have done it in a heartbeat.
Listening to other kids wax nostalgic about this shit, though, was the worst.
“Oh, there was none of that behavior in my house! If that food was on your plate you ate it!”
“Yes,” (insert sage nod of head) “That's the way it should be!”
“The way it should be,” a pile of buffalo shit that slides down the chute of your brain and gets all muddled up with sentimentality and turns you into a gibbering retard. The minute anyone gets all pie-eyed and says, “that's the way it should be”, you should shoot them in the fucking face,. That's the way it should be.
Yeah----thumb screws. That's the way it should be. Hot pokers up your hiney. That's the way it should be.
Nail your head to the floor. That's the way it should be. Goddamn Bologna Seditionists.
Bologna was the official religion of my youth. Death, War, Jesus, the President and Bologna, and by God you'd better eat that bologna or I'll bust yer lil' face open with my big class ring. You're a bad kid----eat your bologna or you're going to prison.
You go out of the house and it's hell. Unbearable sun, chainsaws, dust everywhere, screaming and vapor trails in the sky, dirt in your mouth and the local neighborhood kids say “HI” to you and then they turn around and punch you in the stomach, Some lady is yelling her ass off the next house over and you don't know why.
That's the Bologna, day in and day out.
You go to school and they cram you into this tiny little space and that's your space. The kids at school say “HI” to you and then they turn around and punch you in the stomach, just to see the look on your face. The adults ask you a lot of questions. If you get them wrong everyone laughs at you and calls you stupid. If you get too many of them right they all laugh at you anyway and call you poindexter. If you don't wanna play kickball they make you play it anyway. If you don't do it right they beat you up. It's Bologna, it's all bologna, the great world religion. Our lives run on goddamned Bologna.
Okay----done with the rant.
“You know,” says Gayla, “maybe your parents were just frustrated with you because bologna was all they could afford to feed you. Just throwing the suggestion out there.”
“No,” I tell her with great, sage, philosophical certitude, “it wasn't like that.” At least it never felt like it was like that.
Fortune is a crime against us all.
Mike has a legion of dead flies lined up beside a spool of thread. The spool is mounted on a couple of pushpins so it looks like a cannon. He's recreating a famous battle, I guess.
“The place I worked at back in the 90s adopted this kid,” Mike says. “We had our own adopted kid.”
“What, did he run around the place and alla y'all told him to mind his Ps and Qs?” Dumb question, I know.
“No, nothing like that,” says Mike. “We sent him money. There was this big map of Oklahoma in the breakroom with the kid's picture in the middle, saying, 'INTRODUCING GILBERT GOOD-RICHMAN', 'cause that was his name---'FROM WHEREVER, EAST BUMFUCK, OKLAHOMA'. And he was our kid, you know, 'cause we gave him money----part of our paychecks every year were sent to him----this great fuckin' gift the company gave us.”
I try to laugh the whole thing off. “Well, you were a kind man, even if you don't wanna be.”
“I know, right? 'Gilbert Good Richman'----fuck kinda name is that? What's gonna happen if he joins the service? 'What's your name, Private?'--'Gilbert G. Good-Richman, Sir!!!!'---'Gilbert G. Good-Richman?! Drop and give me a hundred, ya fuckin' puss! Then when you're done with that you can go clean the head out with your tongue, Soldier!'
“So we're sending this pussy-ass kid money and then he starts writing us letters, and they start posting the letters in the breakroom! And the letters will kill ya,” Mike groans. “ 'Missus Johnson', she was our personnel director who dreamed all of this up, keeps saying I'm an Indian, but I'm not. I know a Cherokee Family that go to our church, but we're not Indians'. So the kid's not an Indian----he's not anything----I don't know what he is.”
“So his Suffering Street Cred isn't even that good.”
“No, it's not. I think he goes off at one point about how 'The Lord took our father last year', but the rest of the damn letter is him bragging about all this shit he has....his family has chickens. What kinda happy horseshit is that? I never had any goddamn chickens growing up! He's got a dog and goats....I never had a dog....I never had any goats. Why am I having to send this kid my money? Kid's bragging about his ten speed bike. I never had a fuckin' bike! Give me some fuckin' money!” Late at night after everyone went home I'd give Gilbert's picture cigarette burns and I'd stick pins in his eyes. Brag to me about your goddamn bike. Every night it turned into “it's breaktime and I'm pissed off----let's go torture Gilbert!”
With this whole “Indigo” trip these kids (and their parents, if they're willing to buy the snake oil) are being told is they're going to be the Neitzchean Supermen and women, they're going to shift the fulcrum of the world, they're all going to be tomorrow's important dignitaries, intellectuals, movers, shakers, rock stars---the next JFKs and Bonos and Hiram Abiffs and Martin Luther Kings and whatever, and if they throw a hissy fit over not being allowed to wear blue sneakers, well, you're just going to have to deal with it, because they're special.
So they don't get stuck eating the bologna, but they get fed a whole different brand of bologna.
I think about myself, and the razamataz, double-edged sword that it is....Bessie, career thief and drug dealer, and goddammit, whatever anyone wants to say about her, whatever she believes about herself, I know she could be anything she ever decided she wanted to be....she'd never make these people's all-star roster. I think of Mike, recreating the civil war in the break room with dead bugs, battle by battle. Where's his pat on the back? Where's his hand up? Maybe he was on to something, putting cigarette burns in the picture of that kid.
I'll never be one of Norma's fucking “Indigo” Children and here's why. I'm too old at this stage in the game----I'm not cute....I've developed a mind of my own at this point and that's no good.
And then there's Gayla, the little disappointment waiting in the wings. Gayla's losing favor with Norma and her crowd fast because she's got a mind of her own and she's learning how to say “fuck you”. That doesn't bode well in Norma's bubble world.
A Goat for all seasons
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