Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Beacon


The overcast sky hides the cold, miles behind its curtain. He is late again. He stayed up deep into the night making notes, and clocking song tempos. He stays in his lane and watches the frantic behavior among the flow, that actually care they are late. They can't keep their cars in their lane, they can't decide to take the short cut. They spin their heads, brake erratically and transmit their bad energy from car to car slowly infecting the traffic.

A few lifetimes ago, this was surf season. The dark skies marked the return of the fall swells, the south running mackerel, the Blacktips that chased them, and stiff north east winds. With a leg up on the dash, he would steer the horizontal wheel of his V.W. bus one handed. He twisted down Indian River Drive past the second rate aristocracy of Ft. Pierce. The (old money) Spanish style houses watched the river, smelled the putrid low tide, and tried to convince themselves they were still royals. Each iron gated mansion, hid empty servants houses and the owners dark dreams to fill them with someone to lord over. He rarely looked at the houses instead trying to read the river for clues of the wind and tide. He would surf before work at North Jetty Surf Shop, hanging T-shirts and selling beach clothes to rich northern ladies. All he ever thought about was getting out, and escaping that town. It was proof that even when he was young he was never content. It was not a symptom of age and loss, it was a congenital flaw he carried from birth, like the hole in the atrium of his heart.

He rolls into the parking lot and scores a space up front. It was twenty five years ago, when he left in the middle of the night and came to Tallahassee. He enrolled in T.C.C. met a guitar player, formed a band and dropped out after two semesters. It was all just a blur of gigs, bands, jobs, marriage and kids. He opens the door to his office, just like he had every day for fifteen years. Dark grey cement block walls and a computer await in the converted storage closet. From this desk he has edited hundreds of legal seminars. This job has been base camp to all that was good in this life. A family, health coverage, a steady check and a two hundred dollar Christmas bonus each year. This little closet office with two windows, allowed him to manage bands, ride bikes, and to show up an hour late once in a while. He wondered if he would ever leave this place. He wondered if some part of him was in this room forever like some residual ghost, stuck in an endless loop on security footage. He drinks hot tea with sugar and no milk, it is awful. He looks through tiny slits in the Venusian blinds. Leaves break loose of their moorings and acorns bounce off of cars like ping pong balls.

It was all bearable now that he had a gig. He could push the rock up  hill again. The carrot (however impossible) was on the stick. The new bands first gig went well and the songs were good. They would be in the studio with a producer again. He would be playing drums and singing. He would not be coaching hungover, tattooed, punks. He would be in the booth, playing for the first time in twelve years. He would be safe in the place where he knew how to behave. Hope is the light that feeds the soul, and he hadn't felt like this in years. If it was all a delusion, and came crashing down like rain, he would take it. There is always time for regret and tears, but hope was a jewel in the maze. He wanted to bathe in it, to roll it around in his mouth, he wanted to remember every second. He wanted to move slowly and paint the cave walls in his mind with these feelings he never thought he'd have again.

Two months ago it was all a conversation about something that might happen. Now there were 18 songs, a producer, and a reserved studio. It all seemed funny, but he dared not analyze it for fear of loosing the beacon. He focused and took a moment to remember the hope of having a chance. He counted down the minutes to lunch and a trip to Cabo's.