BELOW THE WATER LINE
I was always supposed to be happy in Avenel;
as it seemed it was meant to be a happy place,
one where you lived out your dreams and put
your nice life together in an open and more
spirited and sunny way, separated from all those
old ideas of tenements and warlike neighbors and
the close-cropped anguish of any large-city living.
I guess birds and trees and all that were supposed to
make the big difference. And, in ways, I suppose
they did. We lived among an anarchy of sorts. We'd
bash into Murray's and Martha's whenever we chose,
without worrying about it - for a cherry coke or some
gum or cards or candy. It was just there, always - had
no meaning, nothing dark or portentous, just a place.
I don't know what it must have been before we arrived,
all us newcomers, but I'd imagine we made a big
difference to their monthly bottom line right off. A
place like that needed a lot of people anyway. If you're
only selling things where like 20 cents is expensive,
you've got to sell a damned good lot of it to make it
pay. They lived there too, right behind that door in
the back of the soda-fountain. They'd be going in
and out, sometimes yelling or screaming about
something back and forth with each other - a
household quarrel, or store stuff, and they'd take
whatever disagreement it was right with them into
their living quarters upstairs too. We used to envy
Howie Belfer for living above the candy shop,
thinking he had it made, walking down the stairs
anytime he wanted, for soda, ice cream or candy. But
it couldn't really ever have been like that - probably
was more anguish there than in lots of other households.
Or so it seemed, mostly. I still have dreams about that
place - well, no, not about the place itself, and that's
what's so weird about them. In these dreams I'm on
that corner, and it's a bustling street-corner, filled
with people and activity, cars and buses and taxis, a
busy mailbox, signs and lights. Like it was midtown
Manhattan, for pity's sake, but it's Avenel Street and
Fifth Avenue - just a sick bunch of rundown bungalows
from the 1920's, or whatever. The dream bears no
relationship to reality, or reality as I lived it, but it's
present, and it recurs too. I think. I don't know if dreams
actually do recur; maybe our mind just tells us they do,
but it seems like I've had this dream ten times at least.
The same with another dream that recurs - I'm in the
basement of School 4, in one of those dodge ball
concrete rooms we used to have indoor recess in, and
there's a number of us, as kids, sitting around on the
benches that ran along the walls. In the dream, we're
initiates, we have knowledge of secrets, and we're
waiting for these spacemen ('Martians', specifically)
to come retrieve us and take us back. To wherever.
In the dream, there's no harm, no one trying to stop us,
or disliking or hating us, or even being after us. It's calm
and pleasant enough. Just waiting for the spacemen to
take out special allotment of kids back. From the
painted concrete room. No one speaks a word.
We somehow just all know this.
Murray and Martha always had a really crummy car
too, in their shabby garage in the rear - it was maybe
a '52 Chevy or something. I never saw anyone drive it.
Don't know about that. I had a friend tell me that there
were a few times that Howie, as an adolescent, was set
up by others, who'd offer him money and deals and
all, to deliver to them Playboys and others of the
skin magazines sold there. That's all I know about that.
Hearsay. Which looks pretty close to heresy, but isn't.
The reality was that I wasn't really happy at all. You may
recall my aunt, as I related, telling me once that - before the
train accident I was the happiest, funniest little boy she'd ever
seen, but after the accident something had changed. I went
dark, sour, surly. Maybe she was right, 'cept of course I don't know
how she'd know, only seeing me like 15 times a year or something.
I was what I was, but she was probably closer to right than wrong.
Even Avenel, and all my friends and pals, couldn't sunny me up.
I'd been somewhere else, my brain had been stripped, I'd been
newly built, as it were, and re-packaged with all sorts of new
information and references. People aren't comatose for no reason.
Extended periods away from the body bring the Spirit soul back
closer to origin, back to where one is able to meet the greater
version of 'Self' - which isn't Self at all, of course - but the
entity of vibrational range which has been in place forever,
since before Nothing and before Time, and after both of those
too, right now. All things are ONE, running together, a
concurrent and psychic overlap of probables and possibles.
Each thought creates a world (so, please, be careful). Like
that TV, as I mentioned once before, with 200 channels, of
which we only are focused on one at a time - but they're all
still running, and creating their program styles and changes,
and, in turn, creating all of its own worlds as well. That's
what Infinity is, the concept. Dark Matter, the glue. Gravity.
Space. All those dead planets? No, no way; they're all alive
with a million fractious moments, but we just can't see
them or learn or even sense that activity because our focus
is off and concentrated on other things. All those idiot
politicians and the rest, focused on War and troubles and
issues and Death. That's what they live, because that's what
they are, that's their pathetic focus. It's called Evil, and all it
can best do is draw you into itself. But you must resist. They
only seek the validation of their death and destruction, money
and false-world outlooks from you. Don't give it to them.
Stake them through the heart instead. believe me, this is real.
Change your focus; go it alone.
Well, anyway, that was Avenel's happiness lesson for me. The
out and out end-result was Exit. I loved my friends. I loved
every girl I ever saw - from within, strong, dark but shining
pangs of human Love and Deliverance. As I offered. But I
had to get away, had to go to where those other voices were
calling me. All that stuff from the past - it was still there, and
I'd found I could travel time for it, and to it. Sensitized to the
'nth' degree, I'd truly become a creative being, the artist I'd always
sought to be, and to which I had to go, and to get to it I had to
take the needed steps through time. Represented right here by all
the legacy, heritage, lineage, history and place of Manhattan Island,
mainly that anyway. And its other places - they too drew me into
the vortex of presence I needed. Like a vampire drawing energy
from blood, I found my dynamo-power from other kinds of sources
and places. I began frequenting graves and memorials - they were
all over around here, everywhere. Forgotten people. Souls of
power still giving out their energies to those who knew how to
feed of them. It was a Paradise of Murray and Martha stores
everywhere, my own candy, for the taking.
Oh well, anyway. I found you've just got to figure out if you've
got anything to say - some do, some don't - and, if you do,
find a way to say it. The best way. Maybe some do it musically,
in front of a microphone, others do it academically, or officially,
in some capacity they value and which is given worth, and -
alas - like me, others do it in strange, eccentric and cramped
styles, never quite fitting. The Albert Pinkham Ryders and the
William Blakes of the group. You can point, I won't mind.
Avenel wasn't exactly the kind of place to harbor eccentrics,
but I never minded. That little hermit guy I mentioned long
back previous, in an early chapter, he was most probably my
first Avenel idol. It was so bizarre to see that, to see him. That
little, I guess, one-room shack, with the little peaked roof, just
a big tool shed actually, the kind you can see now piled by the
dozen and for sale on the side of any Home Depot or Leows
parking lot, for sale. Different now - you see, back then
everything had to be 'made' - there wasn't none of that, as
we have today, stapled wood, pre-framed rafters, particle
board building stuff. You took a damn hammer and you
hammered. Nails. Period. They were sold in nail bins at most
every hardware store - categorized by the name 'penny' and
listed by size. Priced according. One-penny nail. Two-penny
nail, and so on. They'd get packed for you, after being weighed
like bananas or something, and you'd walk out with a brown
paper bag of nails and that was that. Now everything, even nails,
are pretty much pre-packaged, in these big stores anyway, and
clear-plastic wrapped, with the bar-code and the scan-ready
stuff. It's all different. As an aside here, it's funny too how I can
remember, about 1974, when bar codes started appearing on
things, how they at first caused such a fuss. Back in Elmira,
about then, I knew a lady, Berenice Martelli, who used to think
that it was to be the end of the world. She was a severely devout
and Christian lady who saw the Devil's work in everything (not
so different than me there) and who thought that bar-coding and
the coming 'cashless' society, as she called it, would have the
'Number of the Beast' soon implanted in all our wrists for constant
identification and whereabouts (interestingly, sounds like the
Internet). She'd always be beside herself over stuff, and praying
over things - she had 8 kids, varied ages like from 6 to 18 years.
No husband; I don't know anything about her personal life. I used
to go around installing storm doors in various Elmira word-of-mouth
reference neighborhoods. Mostly it was always for these types of
estranged, helpless, lonely women. My wife would come to, and
our kid, so don't get the idea I was screwing around. I'd measure,
buy the door and hinges and stuff, and, for about 75 bucks plus
the door, I install. Real simple, and cash. They usually ended up
feeding us, befriending us, all that. It was OK for a while, then I
tired of it. It started once, for some lady I worked with, and then
just grew a little from there. Anyway, now the bar-code, chip-
implanted thing is everywhere, and no one seems to care, least
of all the Devil? Go figure. Regarding the nails, however, that's
where it all began - that hermit's little shed, hand-built, nearly
perfect, in my eyes, probably cozy and home too for him. I wish
he would have just talked; so much I would want to know. That
shack was at the edge of the Krug property, the mansion back then.
It's all gone now. All that's around are some dumb-square houses
and tacky yards. Nothing's real anymore - no shrubs or trees worth
a spit - the landscapers nowadays are all stupid asses anyway,
cutting things and replacing everything with non-native, Japanese
ornamental shrubs and twisted, flowering trees. The world's a mess.
We lost control a longtime back, and just let it all happen. I always
defined Avenel by its oak trees. Now you can't even do that because
the idiots trim all the lower branches and all you get are these
tall-spike useless trees with no underbrush, like at the little tree'd
area across from Avenel Park. Slowly diminishing anyway. Township
ghouls are always in there messing with it. An original, defining,
American oak tree was supposed to have all sorts of lower, feeder
branches. They grounded the tree and gave it strength, growing low
and dense. The lower trunks were always festooned with downward
pointing small branches. Vitality, mysterious strength. They grew
to great heights and widths. The tree withstood everything, storms,
wind and the rest, because of how they grew. Not now - the jerks
clean all the lower limbs, cut the twenty year old branches, always,
progressively, and thereby weaken the trees and then wonder why
they fall and lose limbs, and then call them dangerous to boot, never
admitting that it's because of that they've done to undermine Nature.
Fuck them all. The Druids knew what was up. They didn't touch a
thing, just worshipped the great world around them. Mankind is a
meddlesome animal, a real pain in the ass. In my opinion, when I
lost that hermit guy, I lost the rest of the world too.