I once knew a guy that was saved
by a cup of coffee
and I don't mean it brought him to Jesus
or started him an account at the bank
but it did pull him out of a burning building
at least a metaphorical one
that raged silently beneath his rib cage
and ate savagely away at his soul
and so it went
that he told me his tale
one windswept night
in the Mojave desert
when we rode around the darkness
in search of dead men's souls
two dudes and a gurney
not swift enough to find employment
anywhere else except
a funeral home.
He said, "Shawn ..."
and I said, "... what now?"
and he retorted (quite sharply mind you), "Now look here!
Relationships are like those cheap ass promotional items
you get from the Time Warner Cable Company!
Fun and shiny and cool and novel at first. But once you take em' out
of the package and play with em' for a few hours ... well, they just seem to fall apart."
My reply to that was, "You shouldn't take em' out of the package."
and he exclaimed, "your damn straight! Admire relationships from a far!"
so I said, "Amen to that!" and cracked the window of the first call van
and lit a smoke.
I idled up to the stop light at
the corner of Avalon and the 5800 block of Hwy. 62
"I have had suicidal thoughts all weekend."
I looked over at him, "Did you love the wrong woman again, brother?"
and he said, "Why ... yes, yes I did!"
"That's not good."
"Your telling me!"
The light turned green and I made a right
he continued, "Yesterday, I came home and went to the mail box.
I looked at the ground as I walked. I couldn't look up. Haven't been
able to do that for two weeks."
I nodded sympathetically.
"In the mail box was a letter from GEICO.
You know, that auto insurance company. Had that cute little gecko on it and the words ...
THIS JOURNEY'S NOT ABOUT THE DESTINATION."
"Oh, yeah. Did you open it?"
"Hell no! I put it in the garbage can. Then I walked
to my front door and noticed a bunch of roofing nails on the ground.
Damn pigeons tearing up the roof again! Bird shit every where.
So I got to thinking about all the dead bodies with their dead eyes
that stare only upwards
and my pretty gal that left me high and dry.
Went back to shack up with her ex old man.
Carrying that thing in her belly
that I once thought was beautiful! But now just seems ill and gruesome!"
"Jesus man! Get a grip on yourself. We'll be at the hospital soon," I replied with uneasy apprehension.
"So I got a bottle of whiskey out of the cabinet, a length of rope, a shot glass, some pills, pack of razor blades, my revolver, buck knife, a box of bullets, a Mexican bible, and some antifreeze."
I flicked my cigarette butt out of the window, "Jesus man! Were you expecting company?!"
He stared straight ahead at the dark, desert road and quietly spoke,
"I walked in a circle around the table, where I placed all these things. Around and around I went.
Until I must have circled 30 or 40 times!"
"I decided to make a cup of coffee."
"I felt better," he said.
"Better then what?!" I exclaimed.
"Nothing I guess."
I pulled the van into the hospital parking lot
drove around back to the morgue
he didn't say anything else the rest of the time
as we took the body off ice
and loaded it casually into our van.
Jim quit and moved shortly there after
not sure with the girl, or the baby, or both
perhaps just by himself
but I walked around my kitchen table several times
when the sick orange moon hung low
in the lonely desert sky
like the flaming epicenter of an empty noose
ready for a naked neck
and my Time Warner Promotional Gift
had been out of the box
for a few hours
and now looked man handled, beat up and broken
so I stopped circling when I got tired
and decided to just
a cup of coffee.