Tuesday, January 06, 2004

life of buddy don, chaptur 88:
the pane of finishin thangs


i started wurkin on my novel crap notes in early 1978 n i finished it in june of 1979. twuz a big thang in my life durin that time, tho thay aint a hole lot ye kin say bout ritin a novel. taint all that eggcitin. tuffest thang is gittin yerself in the habit of startin the nex paragraf. i had dreamed of ritin novels n such mos of my life, tho twernt all i wonted to do, witch part of the problem in gittin inny one thang dun is that ye have to quit trine to do so minny other thangs. i never masterd that, so i now have a pile of papers that has songs, poems, stories, novels, plays n screenplays in it. i have recordins of mos of the songs i rote, tho thars a pasel of new ones i aint gut roun to recordin yet.


but whenever i wuz wurkin on crap notes, twuz sumthin differnt. fer one thang, twuz the furst big wurk i had attempted in life, n the mane thang i wuz hopin to proov to myself wuz that i could git it dun. as i thank i dun mentchuned, i gut all of it writ but the las chaptur by time i wuz reddy to graduwait. corse, i wood half to hand in the hole thang, but the collidge skolars committee wuz pleased with the 520 pages i had dun deliverd but the job wernt cumplete yet n fer sum reason, i spent about a munth gittin reddy to rite that final bit.


eli ast me if he could celebrate whenever i gut dun, so i sed that wood be fine. he picked me up in the vw beetle i sold him n tuck me to the oak ridge civic center so i could sit in the liberry n finish. he had rolled a 'super dubie' fur us to smoke once i wuz dun.


twuz a hard time fer eli on a counta the trubles his docters wuz havin findin the rite medical cocktail fer im. durin the 70s, frum his transformayshun in 1972 till i wuz finishin my novel in 1979, the va put im on over 100 differnt combinayshuns of meds in hopes of gittin his behavyer under cuntrol. twernt wurkin verr well, witch thats manely elis fault on a counta how he woodnt take his medicine the way twuz prescribed. he wood smoke n drank n take acid n angel dust n yew name it. so twuz only natchural that nuthin wood wurk fer verr long.


he went thru all kinds of stages with this. they put im on lithium but he jes gut fat in no time, so they quit that. they gut im on sum medicayshun that caused all his muscles to clinch up till he wuz in agony n had to be carted off to the emergency room. after that, they started givin him a muscle relaxer name of artane. after a while, no matter how they changed up his cocktail, he always had to have artane.


whut wuz wurse wuz how he wood trade his medicine fer other drugs or give ye pressure to try em. i fell fer it with artane. his argumint wuz that he wuz bein given drugs that wuz spozed to hep him escape the travails of the spirtchul worl, but he sed twuz jes the opposit, that he wuz seein more spirtchul thangs than ever.


yer more astute observers mite could have thought twuz his hallucinatin frum all the drugs he tuck. i member one time when he cum over to take emily n me to the kroger out on chapman hiway so we could do our big munthly shoppin. when he gut thar, he wuz beet red in the face n wuz hardly makin no sense. turnt out he had jes gut his medicayshun frum the va n tuck a bunch of it n then drunk a quart of beer. i dont recall ever seein him so incapacitated.


lack emily, he wuz a smoker n generly kep one lit at all times, but on this day, he tride to lite a cigarette with a glass of water, suckin the water up thru the cigarette lack twuz a straw. corse the thang fell apart when it gut wet, but he sat 'smokin' the wet butt fer a good five mints till emily ast him did he wont a lite. she lit him one of her marlboros n give it to him, n he got down on his knees n begun prayin fer the saintly woman who could make water burn. then he gut up, spied sum peanut butter n sed he wonted to git im a spoonful of that, lack we often dun whenever we wuz lil. thang wuz, he tuck the spoonful of peanut butter n tride to ram it down the salt shaker.


i played caretaker fer im that day. that mint i walked with him down to the strip, pushin him back onto the sidewalk when he strayed into the street. it mint gittin him screamin mad by trine to keep him frum buyin three import albums fer over $50, witch i knew fer a fack he dint wont a one of them albums n later on he ast me how i could let him buy such expensiv crap.


i finely gut him to let me drive the car on a counta i woodnt git in it ifn he wuz drivin n i tricked him into lettin me have the keys, witch then he couldnt figger out whar they wuz, so when i perduced em frum my pocket n tole him i wuz keepin fer im, he agreed i could drive to the krogers out on chapman hiway. during the hole time, he wuz the perfeck crazy fellow, out of his hed, makin no sense, barely able to tell whut wuz a'goin on.


then we gut to krogers n twuz lack shoppin with a small child on a counta how he kep puttin thangs in the cart that i dint wont n he woodnt wont whenever he cum back to his self. i had seen him incoherent befor, but never fer so long. so as we wuz walkin down one of the aisles n i spied his docter, witch she wuz a woman frum austria name of docter koch. i pointed her out to im n pulled him to anuther aisle. i figgerd ifn she saw im lack that, she wood lock im back up fer good.


but we couldnt avoid her all that long n purty soon we found ourself walkin rite tords her. she spotted eli n ast how he wuz. i swear, i never saw nuthin lack it, but as soon as he herd her voice, he cum back to hisself n wuz jes as coherent as could be. he dint know how he had gut whar he wuz or whut he had dun durin his blackout, witch fer him the hole thang wuz a blackout n he dint have no memry atall of whut had happend. whenever i showed im the albums he had bought, he wuz shocked bout whut he had dun. i dont thank i coulda convints im bout how crazy he wuz acktin otherwise.


good thang bout that episode is how he larnt that he jes couldnt risk mixin alcohol with artane. twernt long after that till he ast me to try it so i could git me a idee whut he wuz a'goin thru. so i did.


twuz as odd a eggsperients as any i had ever had. once the drug hit, ye dint need much of nuthin to make ye cuntent. i noticed how i could sit fer hours jes nitcing how amazin my hands n fangers wuz. but i couldnt hardly keep my thoughts strate n it made my mouth so dry i could barely swallow n long story short, i dint much lack it.


i wish i could say the same fer everbidy who tride it. turnt out thar wuz one who wood luv it moren even eli dun, witch that wuz maisie. she wuz livin out at the farm n purty much spendin all her time with oscar clowder. we begun noticin purty soon how she luved to git messed up on drugs. made her a good cumpanyun to oscar on a counta how he lacked to git so drunk he could barely walk.


tiz a wunder they survived sum of thar adventchurs. purfeck eggzample is how maisie lost her car. she n oscar wuz takin the key sprangs rode frum outer drive down to hiway 61 durin a hevvy rain. at the bottom of that twisty hill thars a lil spring that sumtimes covers the rode jes a lil, sumtimes not at all. but when twuz rainin hard a nuff, the water could git ruff. so the two of em git down to the sprang n deecide they kin make it cross. corse, thar car wuz caught rite away n nex thang ye know, maisie n oscar clumb out a winder to git free n thumbed thar way out to the farm.


nex day we all went to look at the car, n everbidy wunderd how they had cum out of it alive on a counta how twuz coverd in mud n water by then. so we ast him, how had they gut out? they looked at each other n started laffin. they couldnt remember nuthin ceptin the winder, witch wuz still open.


durin this time, maisie started havin acksidents rite n lef, mosly lil thangs lack fallin n catchin the bed post on her eye or walkin rite into a telefone pole, leavin a ugly bruise on the side of her face. corse, we wuz wurried bout her n figgerd sumthin had to be dun to keep her frum gittin so messed up on drugs, but thar wuznt nobidy who could say nuthin bout not takin em since everbidy wuz takin thar ownself.


so whenever eli wuz drivin me out to oak ridge whar i could rite that las chaptur, i ast im ifn he wood be so kind as to quit givin maisie inny more artane, witch thatn wuz the one she luved the mos, speshly with a bit of alcohol. but twuz a lil late fer that. he tole me she had her own supply frum the dentist she wurked fer. fack is, he wuz gittin thru the munth now n then with her hep on a counta how he couldnt make a munth supply las a munth, what with tradin his artane fer pot or acid or whutever or jes his takin too minny at the start of the munth so he dint have nun lef by the end.


bout then, he dropped me off at the liberry n i went in n rote the las chaptur.


now ye mite could thank i wood be one of the happies folks on the planet fer finishin sumthin i had been a'wurkin on fer so long. durin the hole time, seemed lack it hung over my hed n give me constant stress n wurry. now i wuz dun with it, or at lease dun with the furst version of it.


but i wuznt happy atall. fack is, i kin member jes a few times when i felt so deepressed. corse i had to finish the celebrayshun with eli n he wuz happy fer me. he wonted to rite novels his ownself n wood git roun toot evenchully, tho his wuz a lot shorter. but at that time, he figgerd gittin a novel writ wuz about the bes accomplishment a person could have.


but all i felt wuz a awful emptiness n confushun bout why i should feel so sad. we talked bout maisie n i tride to thank that wuz it. or i tride to thank twuz the sadness of havin a bruther lack eli who wuz such a basket case, even ifn he wuz one of the smartes folk i ever met. but i had to add mitt that twuznt maisie nor eli nor mama nor nuthin ceptn that i figgerd i wood feel good n in sted, it felt lack i had lost my bes frien.


finely, my depresshun started gittin thru to eli n thang wuz, it made him mad! i wuz sprized as could be by that, but he wuz mad, so mad that we gut into a fite with him sayin how i had everthang n he had nuthin n i should thank god fer my blessings rather than bad mouthin my life n belly achin bout bein dun ritin my novel.


'ifn ye dint wonta finish it, then why did ye start it?' he ast. i tole im i dint know i wuz a'gone feel thisaway. so he prayed fer me n when that dint perduce no miraculls, he ast whar could he let me out. the farm? mamas? whar?


tuck me a mint to figger whar i needed to go, witch that wuz to my tree, the one i had injured with my car durin my 'acksident.' i ast him to take me thar n he did, only he dint know bout the tree n tuck me rite to k-25, thankin i wonted to git in touch with sumbidy thar n mayhap git a ride home or sumthin.


in sted, once he wuz gone, i begun the long walk back tords oak ridge. purty soon, i cum to the tree n sat myself down beside of it n rubbed its wound. i thought bout how i had felt once i knew i had survived my attempt. i reminded myself about how i had a bonus life. i counted up my blessins. but nuthin wurked so i lef.


twuz a hard thang to larn, but truth is, the wurk ye wonta finish so much ye wish ye wuz dead mite jes be the thang that keeps ye wontin to live.


by time i gut to mamas, i wuz drenched in sweat. twuz dusk n daddy wuz sittin at the kitchen table, readin the paper, drankin a beer, n eatin cheezits. he wuz sprized to see me n ast did i wont a beer, witch i dint wont one, but i tuck it innyway. we made small talk till he figgerd out i had dun finished ritin my novel. twuz on of the furst times i saw him so proud, n fer a lil, it tuck me out of my deepreshun. twuz nice to be sumbidy in his eyes fer a change.


but it dint change much of innythang. oh, he lacked to brag bout how i had writ a novel. but he never did read it.

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