Freddy’s a Mess – The Paragraphs That Knocked Me Dead

{What follows is the passage that killed my Wrimo spirit on day 3. It was too directionless, purposeless for a novel, so I am back to writing other stuff, but I thought I’d share this meandering passage…}


The morning marches in uneven increments. We think we understand how time progresses as we work, whether we’re pulling weeds or dinking and dunking with numbers. We think that work gives us some regularity to our experience of time, but in reality, we imprison ourselves in boxes of ticks as if we’re stomping our feet, marching to the beat of a drummer who will never die, who thuds with the pulp of an inflated heart, and we feel hairs changing to gray, feeling at the same time perhaps an opportunity to defer the gray.

The carpets are well worn and on some days, Freddy sees 100-mile-an-hour tape all over various loose threading portions of the carpet, but there aren’t any portions like that. Freddy seems to transport himself to a spot in the future when the carpet has never been replaced but the workers have been there all along. We wear through these paths in the carpet as we go to the restroom or often, back and forth between the break room. In the break room, every time he’s there, Freddy reflects on all of the large drinking vessels that get filled with purpose and wonders why anyone with these jugs would ever need to go back multiple times per day. We’re all good like our websites say. We spend our days drinking gallons and gallons of water. Coffee and water get tossed all over the rug, usually after the jugs have been filled, and the rug has amazing resiliency as the liquids seem to evaporate as you watch, before you could ever grab a roll of paper towel. But all of these liquids through all of these years must rob the carpet of beauty. There’s no way to think of it otherwise. Then there are those times when all of the people in the cubicle farm, gradually filled with an increasing despair, a destitute that grows like mold, surely billions of spores of that stuff growing through the carpet fibers. Those cubicle farm people need a break from the bleating of the insanity, from the pounding of the ping of the fluorescent lights, keyboards with varying degrees of greasy finger stains and oceans of crumbs between the keys making all of the sounds fuzzy with the clickishness, and they leave the cubicle suite and flow into the giant building hallways, normally riding the elevator known to be something like an F-14 as far as slick metals and speedy descents, but also going up in the most sprightly manner. The elevator might stop on the 3rd floor or the 1st floor where there are vast amounts of free space, apparent slices of beautiful marble, and big fat leather chairs, and the farm people find a spot, they park, and they ponder the ways of the world, usually by plowing through all of the updates on their Facebook pages, putzing along with Twitter, holding a texting session with another slug who may or may not be stuck in his own cubicle farm, and sometimes, they’re actually using the phone for a conversation with someone they love or need or guiltily cater to, someone they bless or cushion or puff up with sprinkles of reluctant but not accidental kindness.

Freddy doesn’t take these types of breaks, but every time he is out in the lobbies, he thinks that he ought to do this sort of thing to help his mental stability. He could call his father or his only serious friend, and he could have those long conversations those two people seem to afford for him. Freddy is envious of all of those who get to take the luxurious breaks, who never seem to get fired, and he wonders why none of them ever get fired. They must hit some sort of meaningful production level and then they say, Fuck, they don’t pay me enough. So they take their breaks. It’s amazing that some of them are never at their desks regardless of what time Freddy walks along to the restroom or the break room. There is modernity in the permissiveness. None of these people need unions, but they get to where they are because they are the lesser of the various available blunted souls, not intentionally evil souls but souls that are content with not really contributing and getting paid fairly nicely for not contributing. Clearly, there is a beauty to the break from work.

On this day, Freddy brought his own sack lunch. Wal-Mart sack. Peanut butter and jelly, two sandwiches with way too much peanut butter but not too much jelly because the jelly rolls and slithers out on to his pants and once jelly hits his pants, he can never remove it and his hand will encounter the stickiness for the rest of the day. If it’s between 60 and 80 degrees outside, Freddy loves to eat in the park across Baltimore street. In days not long ago, the park was an abandoned building, but all of that darkness is gone and now there is a park with a sundial with beautiful layouts of squares of brick that has a warm orange to its red, and benches, and wire chairs and tables perfectly imitative of the ones you find in video of Brooklyn cityscapes with old men fighting it out with the chess board resting aggressively on the table. These men hold their heads with their hands, inevitably. The furniture in this park is never used for chess and save the occasional broken down homeless man who has aged beyond his 60 years, most of the people are young, even most of the homeless are young, and surprisingly, not more than 50% of them are apparently alcoholic. The city has worked to clean the downtown, getting rid of the broken buildings and scaring away the homeless. The homeless are somewhere but they aren’t allowed downtown, at least for long, because these clean city guys come and kick them out of the city. They don’t kick them out but they tell them to move along, move along, and perhaps the natural desire for peace drive the homeless to abandoned warehouse districts where there is no one to pick up all of the drug needles, and the trash floats around in circles even on calm days, dusting the horizon in every direction, not the distant horizon but as if your vision is going, is leaving you, and you see specks, bright gray and white with black edges. Some day the rich guys will decide that the warehouse district is a great opportunity for prohibitively expensive housing and the homeless may be required to walk to the river, walk in the river and drown themselves. It is sad when the homeless cannot have a home on the streets because the city wants more than anything to fool the visitors, to tell the visitors that all is clean here, to tell the visitors that in this city, nothing can creep into your blood and leave you diseased, that you are clean here and the prostitutes are clean but only the ones who are allowed to be around because they live in fancy Lincoln SUVs with shining chrome wheels and the most shallow and most wide of sporty tires, only those prostitutes, and those prostitutes don’t come out until 7 pm in this part of the city, but they’re cleaner because they’re hidden in during the day like vampires. Most days, the short, very thin lady who also wears her clean city guy jacket, she sweeps and sweeps and she masters her dust pan while sweeping and sweeping in ruthlessly smooth motions. She gets every single butt, every straw wrapper, and she looks up with beady eyes and a funny hat, black but like a train conductor hat with a tiny bill, and she should make citizens feel badly for polluting, but polluting in a grimy, dirty city that’s trying to stay clean, at least on the surface, is not a concern of the citizens. There is a big trailer-like box that opens up maybe structured a bit like the trailer a sandwich vendor might use, and the trailer houses millions of brochures with the slickest, shiny paper, the rich and thick paper with the most poignant colors, saying, Grab me, grab me, take me and let me show you where to go in our fancy city, let me show you all of the fine things you can do in our house, a museum that has been on 24th and Star for 80 years and has been the favorite of princes and princesses, of almost all of the presidents from the last half century, so come see me. But the men who hang with the trailer, inside and outside, chatting with all of those who roam the streets but are not homeless, or perhaps the sharpened homeless. The men who man the brochures, they rarely have the need to hand one out, but maybe once a week, an older couple appearing not to have ever had a care on earth walk up to the trailer innocently and glance around, try to ask an intelligent question and the men get to hand out brochures, so now there are perhaps less than millions of brochures. The grass is always perfectly manicured and the men from the city who do the mowing always catch the grass so grass blades won’t go into pants for those who luxuriate in sitting in grass on those days when the dew has left early in the day. The grass is elevated and surrounded by a natural rock wall, and a good many people prefer sitting on the wall to sitting in the wire chairs. Small groups of homeless vagabonds who are insane but who are not knocked down, who still have spirit, they grab chairs once in a while, but the clean city guys know them and they somehow use gentle political speech to scatter them off to some other part of the city so there is no sense that there is pervasive danger in the park. And perhaps there really is some cushion of safety, but sometimes, the jagged edges of beings that seem to be ghosts from another era, ghosts whom Freddy always admires, they fill the park, and if you are aware in the way Freddy is, you are aware of an extremely poisonous danger that may not seem to surface but is always present.

The smokers from Freddy’s building like to walk across Baltimore to light up because they seem more classy when they are not parked by the column of a building, emigrated, shipped out, relegated to a spot in a hole in the universe. They always look cool. Most of them are women. Some sit on a bench, but some seem far more anxious and have a slow dance, twirling around in one spot, looking around at all of the people and the weather. Freddy likes one of them who has a certain type of class, she wears a special shoe, her skirts twirl with magic forces and her blouses are always sleek, smooth, full of the diplomacy of one who is brokering ships full of gold. Freddy imagines a day when she lets her curiosity trap her into an insanely brave move and she comes up and sits next to him on the ledge and talks innocently as if they had known each other for years. Of course, most of us perceive that this would never happen, but sometimes Freddy sees the future.


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  1. #1 by clinock on November 18, 2012 - 4:09 am

    More words than I’ve ever heard / read from you before Carl. I rarely have the patience to read long writings on blogs but you had me hooked right to the end. You are a superb writer – it flows and is full of fascinating images and descriptions. Please pursue your writing – it is obviously your art form…

    • #2 by Carl on November 22, 2012 - 7:51 pm

      Your words are very encouraging. I lack confidence in any of my writing but I enjoy it. Your words help me keep going.

      • #3 by clinock on November 22, 2012 - 11:58 pm

        Write on brother…

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