He's Come Undone: found on Amazon - read/buy this story of a man growing into Wholeness.
|Bill Lingstrom ran down the courtsteps, fighting back tears, the rage building. He usually had no idea what he was feeling, but this time he knew: while he was as gentle as a wolf father playing with his pups, he knew this rage blinding him on the steps was exactly how murderers felt; he felt that he could kill and kill again, and he could feel the feel a particularly sadistic killer would feel twisting the knife over and over and stabbing over and over and . . . he froze at the bottom of the Municipal Court steps. The statue of Justice, blindfolded and holding scales, didn’t seem impartial to him. She symbolized blindness, a refusal to look at facts. Waves of tears welled and they began to flow and flow. His fists shook covering his eyes and he felt the wetness. Finally, uncomfortable standing on the busy midday street — sunlight bright and burning — he began to walk, wiping his eyes, trying to appear normal, or rather trying to appear not crying. He didn’t want to, couldn’t, stop the tears, he just didn’t want to look like the forty two year old man that he was walking down a main street downtown balling his eyes out. At least he wasn’t moved to cry out loud. The tears were silent and streamed down his cheeks as he put distance between himself and the courtroom. The wind on the streaming tears felt fresh on his cheeks and the rage dissolved as he reached his Firebird, turning into a sadness more powerful than he had ever remembered before. And he had been feeling a lot of sadness lately. Though he didn’t know it, he had felt a lot of sadness throughout his years. He sat in the car, hands on the steering wheel, no energy to reach for the ignition. A thought came to him as he felt the sadness: never thought about suicide. Not thinking about doing it now. But this is how a suicide feels. I can feel it. I know why they do it. It makes sense. If I was a suicide, and I felt like this, I’d do it . . . It’s too bad I’m not a suicide.
He finally reached for the ignition and fired it, whipping into traffic. As the engine turned both rage and sadness left, the comfortable numb returned and he moved mindlessly, gunning through the mid morning traffic. Time ceased until the car rolled into the gravel parking lot of the Shack Bar. Bill had no desire to enter, but fate said otherwise and he got out of the Firebird, without thinking, and listened without thinking to the crunch of the gravel as he walked toward the door. As he felt the whish of cold air opening the door, he thought why in hell do women and all those fucking therapists always want men to feel their feelings? God damn “feel your feelings,” this is awful.
He hadn’t been in the Shack Bar for months, and its dark musty smell of stale beer, the dust motes floating in the sunlight streaming in from the front windows, struck him. He stopped and stood a few paces inside the door wondering how he had ended up here. The two retired alcoholics who were always sitting at the bar tilted back beers. Jimmy, cleaning beer steins for the happy hour big drinkers, looked over from behind the bar.
“Long time no see, Bill. How you doing?”
Bill didn’t answer, didn’t move.
“And in here before lunch, we’re honored — have I ever seen you here before happy hour?”
Bill walked over to the bar and sat on a stool. “How you doing, Jimmy?”
Bill nodded. Jimmy was massive, two eighty in girth but muscular in the tattooed arms, doubling as a seldom needed bouncer. Who would start trouble in Jimmy’s domain?
“Doing alright,” Bill answered. “Doing real good as a matter of fact.”
He looked up at ESPN and took a sip of the beer. Jimmy had been a bartender for a long time, and knew when to leave a man alone so he walked into the back. Billy numbed out on the sports shows that he had always secretly hated. After a few the numbness, more from the sports shows than the beers, began to bore him and he looked furtively about the room, gazing fixedly at the sports posters, the pool tables, the ceiling fans, one at a time. Damn he just couldn’t shut it off: he began thinking of his meeting Lynn. This was the place.
He had been on a rebound and he hadn’t. It had been over a year since he and Amy had divorced. And he certainly hadn’t rushed into a relationship with Lynn. He’d fought getting involved with all the resources a man has, which of course aren’t many. Some women in the Shack Bar had acted like they were approaching him out of compassion, like they were surrogate, sexual mothers licking his wounds. For everyone liked him, he was a good sort. Oh poor, poor Billy. After a time, he thought those girls’ mothering of him, or attempted mothering, was good for the soul, it made him feel wanted.
Anyway, he had no use for women, didn’t want women, wanted to recover something missing — hell, he didn’t know, he just wanted to be left alone while wanting companionship too. Amy had thrown him into a spin — and single girls, as well as a couple of married ones, wouldn’t quit flirting. With some, especially late on Saturday night, it went past flirting to a place he never thought he’d turn down. It was like a reverse of the time in college when Betsy told him she was a lesbian and he tried and tried to “make a woman out of her” and just couldn’t. Well, he just wanted to be left alone too, but Good Old Darwin ends that: we are a bunch of creeping animals looking for a stalk and a kill (for humans, it’s in the bedroom). Why do they need to teach Darwinism in school? — everyone sees it their whole lives long. Life is a struggle, and what most stalk for is the unattainable. Billy always thought the hunt was to prove manhood, but he became utterly convinced that women hunt, and viciously too. They are just as much chasers as men are, and more sly for sure. America sure lies to both women and men when it paints a picture of the “purity” of women. Bill was staring at a Dennis Rodman poster across the room. He had not been in a rational philosophizing mode for months; he had been in a numb covering the shame and sadness mode. But his philosopher poked through as he mumbled to himself in his beginning to get drunk enness. I’m not at all for chaining women with ideals of “purity,” but look at how deceptive that Little Miss Innocent idea is: Women are just human hunters — like men, and just do what they do — and do it quite well I might add. The women in my life have hunted. The problem is the secrets — we hide our hunters from each other. The genders never bear their souls to each other, even the lovers to end all lovers don’t. Yeah, yeah, it’s the millennium and we’ve “come a long way baby,” but we are always hiding the hunting parts from each other to allow us — each gender — to triumph on the savannah, so we’re still stuck in the power struggle to end all power struggles. And our weapons are kids and love. Money is just a smokescreen. It’s kids and love that get beat up as they are used as the weapons in the war.
He was drinking way too much, both after Amy divorced him and on this first day of a second divorce sunny afternoon, but what the hell? Boilermakers — Early Times and Budweiser — were the best anaesthetic God ever created.
What Bill liked the most about Lynn, probably, was that she had never ever tried to chase him. It was only the looks he got that let him know. What a sly hunter. She was rougher than him, blue collar. Always wore blue jeans tight on her thin legs and a blue jean jacket. Always. Owned a million pairs of tennis shoes of all different makes and colors. She played pool some nights, and was fairly good at banking shots, and Bill noticed her hands, always rough as could be. Found out she was a tool and die maker. Lynn didn’t say much, she never got drunk, only came in two or three times a week; if she wasn’t playing pool she was sitting at the bar watching sports or the news. She certainly didn’t have any girlfriends, at least none that Bill saw, though she was a friendly sort and carried on intelligent conversations when pressed (and you only had less than a 50 50 shot at getting intelligence if you struck up a talk at the Shack Bar). Plain face, nose didn’t fit quite right, too thin, but not bad either. Took care of herself, which you couldn’t say about all the girls of the Shack Bar, even some of the striking ones.
They had known each other for about six months — played pool a few times in a group, and talked at the bar a few times — when Lynn followed Bill out the door one night. He could picture the night as clear as a bell — he was running it over and over in his mind that drunken afternoon. Bill could tell she had had a couple more than she usually did, and she just out and out asked, which he thought was really cool, because she did it without playing the games that most of the girls had been doing there when they were fucking with him.
He heard it again, soft and clear in the afternoon quiet. From behind she came, walking quickly to catch up, “When you going to ask me out to the movies or something?”
He stopped, turned, leaning back against a car, so she had to stop quickly, stumbling into him awkwardly. This seemed absurdly funny, but then he saw that it had embarrassed her. Felt bad about the smile, and was glad he hadn’t laughed out loud. She looked up, and then away, out toward the darkened lot. Bill slid his foot back and forth across the gravel and rocks of the parking lot, looking down. He could hear the sound again, clearly.
“I’d like that.”
“Like to take you out to the movies sometime.” Bill felt bad, sitting on the stool remembering. He felt the shame for a moment: boy I played Mr. Cool back then. Aren’t those games fucked up? Then another side voiced its opinion. . . . No, the games aren’t fucked up. They’re a blast.
“You would take me?” she asked, glancing up with the womanly lost puppy dog look. Bill realized something: she never, ever, looked him in the eye. Bill crouched down a little, tried to lock her gaze with his. She averted again, like she couldn’t bear to let Bill look at her.
Bill judged she couldn’t play the “so when are you going to take me out?” game at all, she was about to burst. He also realized what a macho superior type bastard he was being. He felt a tinge of shame again, a tinge of sadness for her nervousness from his playing the game seconds too long with her.
“What are you doing Friday night?”
She looked up for a moment. Didn’t say a thing. The silence continued, and he smiled, thinking now she’s playing with me. He loved the way she played the shy part so well: many times he confused her ingrained low self esteem and shyness with her playing of the low self esteem and shyness game. He suddenly really liked this Lynn.
“Will you go out to dinner and a movie with me Friday night?” he had to repeat.
Bill ordered another boilermaker; he thought he was going to cry again, the start had been so beautiful. He felt like he was going to explode in tears; he felt like he was exploding in tears, but his cheeks held only a dry heat. The tears flowed and flowed out from that hidden place, from that spot deep in his center, and as they started forcing out through the ducts Bill fought and fought. He would not cry. He would not cry. He would not cry. They wouldn’t go away and Bill didn’t want to feel them anymore but he . . . how was he ever going to live without the kids — at least the kids half the time? The last nine months had been miserable. Drunk, he couldn’t focus on how well Joey and Kristen were adjusting, but again maybe they weren’t. Kristen always ended up in bed with Bill, and always always asked when he was home, “are you going to stay with us all night Daddy?” The tears came and came and Bill hid his head. He drank and drank.
During the divorce, Lynn had moved out first, and then they’d both tried staying in the house, and then they’d taken turns staying in the house. Joey got a far away look in his eyes every time there was a “changing of the guard.” Bill drank and drank to burn away the anger. Enough whiskey and Bill thought he could hide the tears all over his face, but he was only fooling himself. It wasn’t as if he never spent time with the kids before the divorce, and now suddenly was. If anything, he had spent more time than Lynn had with the kids. She was the one with the fear of financial insecurity that kept her working and working, though really Bill made enough so they could have paid the mortgage and got along on just his salary. She was the one who had gone back to work by choice, with Bill’s encouragement, and he had shifted his work to take care of the kids, and then she had felt bad about “not being a good mother.” And though he was the one who had spent the greater number of hours with the kids, you can’t beat the “tender age presumption” even though no court will mention it because it is patently against the law. Finally, the tears melted back into anger: Bill drank and drank and drank to burn it all away. The anger moved to all those men fuckers who thought men should be all work and no parenting so they abandon their kids even when they lived in the same house. Those fuckers make it so hard for kids to be with their Dads. The anger moved to all those fuckers who abandon their kids all together. They make it so hard for kids to be with their Dads. He got mad at the 50s generation who had created this Cleaver world not based in reality, and passed it on to their kids, demanding that it continue: what a fucked up culture with its occasional Dads. Those fuckers make it so hard for kids to be with their Dads. And then the women who make sure that a new generation of boys and girls think that only mothers know how to raise children, even if those mothers don’t realize they are doing it. Those fuckers make it so hard for kids to be with their Dads.
Bill was beginning to slide in his seat, and the brain still wouldn’t shut off. Rage was a new emotion for him, and it just wouldn’t go away. Larry, his older brother, the eternal bachelor carpenter take it easy brother, strolled in just before happy hour and sat next to Bill. Bill instantly moved into a “he can’t see the tears can he?” check of his body language, so Bill reached up and felt his cracked face. What the hell am I doing this for? This is Larry. He knows everything about me. He’s my everything. But the voice continued: He can’t see them. Don’t let him see them.
“I assume it didn’t go well.”
“Me and Dad let ourselves into your house, to see how you were doing. Lynn drove by once, but she didn’t stop. I figured awhile ago that you were probably stuck here drunk. Want to go home?”
“You an’ Dad come down from Hannibal?”
“What did you think?”
“Guess I didn’ think. Thanks brother.”
“You want to go?”
“Yeah, I’m through. Go’ damn am I through. . . . But I don’t have a house no more. Fuck ‘em, I say.”