View Full Version : The Chinese Angle ( Rough first draft) would love comments!)

October 30th, 2010, 02:48 PM

Ever since I was young there is one verse in the Bible that sticks foreword in my mind. I cant rightly recall how the Almighty works his way into it but He ends up saying something about how We are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God. Theres no logical reason why that particular verse, out of nearly a lifetime of Sundays should stick out but it does. Its just about the only one I do remember on a regular basis. Thinking of it makes me see my Momma reading that verse to me from her old tattered family Bible. In truth, if not for her, I probably would have gone my life without actually opening the book up. I can picture Father Tarry preaching the words to me. They come to me now, in a time and place where they could hardly be of much use.

The making of babies you will find is something that nearly everyone in the world knows about and participates in regularly. We dont hardly ever consider the act as something quite so.creative though. When I was making mine, I know the last thing I was thinking on was the life being formed. Being fearfully and wonderfully made immediately gives one the impression of work, labor and actually creating something out of clay or jello molds. One gets the feeling He takes His end of the job a good deal more seriously. And good on Him too. I picture a large bearded man feverishly toiling over a work table, assembling something akin to a china doll, fragile and breakable.

You see, that what I thought He meant by fearfully. I, at first, thought He meant that He didnt want to drop none of us on our heads on our way down to earth. Make sure all the important bits were accounted for: Yo, Michael, you got two eyes? Two eyes all set to go, Bossman. Mary, luv, could you hand me that power of speech over there? That sort of thing. Who wouldnt double check to see the jobs done right? I do in my work. But were not quite up to that.

Recently, as I have had time, and in my position, Ive had a good deal of it, Ive noticed that maybe, sine hes God and all, his worries were a little more complex. Based on recent experiences, its come to my attention that perhaps sewin the bits on properly aint the problem. We, as human beings, which I am assuming, most of you reading are, are given free will. Humanity the act of being human and free will go together like Louis Armstrong and a trumpet. So, maybe when God sends us off the thing He really fears is what were capable of. Yes, have a good laugh if you wish. It sounds extraordinary, I understand. But who else would understand it as fully as He? Not even I know exactly what ii myself am capable of, not even to mention what the rest of the worlds population is up to. Why do you think all the women go to these psychics or psychotherapists, or priests? We could spend all our lives trying to figure it out and still get nowhere.

God gave us the capacity to do wonderful things: run, laugh, cry, love, hit a home run or even fly an airplane. But he also knew this works both ways, this thin blue line between love and hate, ambition and greed, adoration and cruelty, is very blurred. And no nothing can stop us from going over to one extreme to the other.

People fear what they dont know, I fear what I dont understand and what I cant figure out. We all have that unknown in us that blurs lines, which can be crooked: heading towards strength on one stretch and sticking firmly to weakness in another. I learned this too late in life, as these words will spell, though I dont regret it and now, all that is left of a life I once thought clear cut, simple and cruising on Easy Street, is a mess of mistakes, screw-ups, laughter, joy and triumphs.

This aint some downer tome, meant to make your head hurt and your eyes swim. Its mean as a joke, to make you chuckle to yourself in inappropriate areas, like libraries, church or late night bus stops. The people in it are humorous, like a flimsy wisp of smoke left from the traces of a cigarette, yet with a sharp after scent youll never quite shake. Im not writing this to make a point for Im not sure theres one to be made by it, least no one that shows us to our best. This is a screwed up view of things, a Chinese Angle.

Chapter One

Around about the beginning of this book, I was launched well into what most people call the middle age crisis. I was a bit of a late bloomer, so I was well into my fifties when it hit, and perhaps it didnt really fall into the typical category. You see I was attempting a career change. Attempting one, because I was having some difficulty finding another line of work. Actually, I hadnt really got off the couch to start to look.

On this morning, somewhere in August, on a hot sweltering day, with humidity that hung on like clothes, fitting around people and hanging on like a heavy mink coat, I was stuck, smoking a cigar and recovering from a particularly stinging batch of moonshine. I wasnt home; I was crashed in an old abandoned car, back behind the old auto shop. It was deserted now too, thanks to an economy that wasnt as cheery as the papers were making it out to be. The big place on the nice side of town, which serviced all the fancy cars and Model Ts was much more inviting. In its abandonement it became a place I liked to go and think, or drink.

I sat up in the backseat, my hat falling off my head, that self same head pounding like it was beating a beat for Duke Ellington. The sudden deep urgent need to be sick made itself known, its voice masked slightly by the pounding, and I listened to it. I leaned out of the car and was immediately sick on the grass. My dog, Ulysses, who seemed to always know where I was, immediately started to eat it.

Nasty mutt I told him, halfheartedly kicking him. He was missing an ear and a good deal of his tail. Scars decorated all of his fur, which was matted and though it seemed he was a fighter, he had no discernable spine in his body, which was old. Slowly, trying to stop the ground from spinning, I wiped my mouth with the green necktie at my throat.

It was rather a serious crisis, mine. I had to quit my job, it was beginning to affect my lifestyle permanently and the alterations were not all to my taste. There was no option. If I kept at it, Id end up in a deep load of crap, which would stink. So I decided to quit. Once that was done, I was left with nothing to occupy my time with. I wasnt a hobby person. It didnt last long enough. My former occupation also left me little time for friends. I was divorced and she took off with the house, family and friends. Faced with this interesting impasse, I relied on the tried and true method of getting completely and totally drunk. Some people went on walks, some listened to music. I only had two ways: drinking or..well, that was the very thing I was planning on giving up.

This morning was just the same as all the others during my crisis, bright, sickly, too cheery, and absolutely wasted on me. I would spend the morning sleeping off my hangover, smoking illicit amounts of cigars, getting sick again as a result of the cigars, eating saltine crackers, and listen to my radio in the hopes that there would be a good game on, which there never was. Ulysses polished off his breakfast, and walked off to investigate a bit, while I collected the evidence of my debauchery. Days like this really made you appreciate a day job. Perhaps if I had had one I would have at least been able to apply for unemployment.

The old car creaked while I tried to swing myself to a standing position. That didnt work so well, so I concentrated on swallowing, almost able to stomach the light when Ulysses let out a giant heart shaped bark of puppy joy. Unbeknownest to me, a figure had appeared behind the deserted building. The figure had moved I suppose, alerting the dog to its presence. The dog, overjoyed, had run up to the figure, who greeted it with surprising warmth for its utter repulsive appearance. Not many people would have associated me with the dog and the run down wreck in the middle of the field. In fact I could probably count the people on one hand. This particular person who I faced now was too smart for her own good and she only came around when she wanted something, or wanted you to do something and she had the uncanny ability to make it appear like it was all your idea. The figure walked as Ulysses stepped on her toes to me and sat primly on the edge of the ripped up upholstery and honked the horn in a way that she hadnt a right to. Not that early in the morning. But you see, she had this way of putting everyone on their toes.

My daughter was an old twenty two, which means she carried herself like she was thirty two when she hadnt nearly enough experience to be acting so high and mighty. God had made her without fear. Oh, He was afraid alright but she never was, not that I can ever remember. Her entire existence had been one full of mayhem.

She was conceived on the day I first heard they might outlaw liquor in a moment of pure desperation. I found myself even more desperate when I woke up in the morning, in a manner much similar to the one Ive just been recounting, and came face to face with her mother. Lorraine had a look of death on her face which was aimed at me and there was no way to avoid it. I married her the next week. She gave birth nine months later. The marriage was never a truly happy one. It was born out of necessity and ended the same way. Either we ended the marriage or she murdered me.

The daughter of this feckless union could be only more so. She wasnt a child I was especially proud of owning up to. Her whole life had been spent with her mother trying to figure her out and me trying not to.

In testament, that morning was the first time Id seen her in nearlysix months? Maybe longer. Maybe shorter. I couldnt ever remember what she was supposed to be doing. Cordelia got me nervous with her peculiarly flighty ways because they were similar to mine. And look how Id turned out.

What on earth brings you here? I asked the prodigal daughter.

After about ten seconds of the dog slobbering on her, she shoved him off and smiled at me but gave no real indication of answering. Her short hair gave her a slightly girlish appearance in conjunction with the dungarees and flannel shirt she wore. Surely she hadnt had that bob the last time Id seen her? The twenties rage should have been over by now, it was nearly the next decade, but still, that haircut was all the rage. The market was beginning to wear after ten years of wealth and fortitude, but people kept spending.

How ya doin Pop? came the low raspy voice. Cordelias mood said that this random reunion should not take me off the earths axis for a second. Her way of dealing with other peoples impressions was to pretend they didnt exist.
I shook my head to clear the muddled half thoughts. Youre supposed to be in Raleigh I pointed out, suddenly trying to make an excuse for my surprise.

She snorted delicately. Youre supposed to be sober.

I bristled. I am completely sober.

She glanced at my somewhat red eyes, which I rubbed, trying to hide them. Her point was made, and she knew it.

What are you doing up here this early? I asked, in more coherent tones.

Just came by, thought Id say hi to my dear old dad. A winning smile crossed her face and I sat down again, though I hadnt remembered standing, settling into my everyday position of leisure. She didnt say anything, waiting for me to ask. I had found as years went by that if I didnt get all parental and ask her first, it made it harder for her to resist telling me. We both looked out to the weed ridden field as the mental game of chicken drew on.

Ive just been thinking she said, after wed gone over the weather and both carefully examined our surroundings, pretending there wasnt a reason to be in each others company at last. Dellie never came to me unless she had a reason to. Oh, she liked me well enough and always would, but myeccentricities drove her crazy over long periods of time. Or so she said. And I honestly was afraid to seek her out. She made a habit of shocking behavior.

Always terrifying I responded, studying my nails, and the dirt beneath them.

Ulysses barked fiercely at a bird.

Dellies whole vibe reeked of unpredictability. Shed be saying one thing and wanting something completely different. You never knew what would come out of her. Like a Cracker Jack box. No precedence. No edging into the topic. It was one of her best and worst qualities. Normally, it just gave me heart palpitations. Talking to your daughter and knowing she is capable of saying and doing anything is a fathers worst nightmare. An unhinged daughter is your worse fear while an unhinged lover is your dream.

Thinking about what to do with my life. My future.

What are you thinking about? Marriage? The idea sounded vaguely nice but also not at all something one would associate with my daughter.

Cordelia actually choked at the proposal. I thought she might have swallowed a fly for a second. Kill me first. If that ever, ever crosses my mind, just kill me. Coolly, she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, composing herself. No. Thats not my plan. I been thinking and I think I finally know what I wanna do with myself. This is something sweet, Pop. Something thatll set me up for the rest of my life. I have to start thinking about things like this now because the stock markets going to shit and inflations rising and a girl cant just live on juju beans.

Anything but rob a bank, I prayed, deep inside me already knowing that was a futile prayer. I wouldnt be able to resist sinking back into the hole Id dug for myself if she decided to jump in along side me. Delia knew I wouldnt be able to resist joining her and it would give her an easy sell in a world where unknowns spent a lot of time going door to door. Cautiously, I gave her a look over.

Dellie had already had her mind made up. She just wanted me to agree with whatever it was. She wanted my help and I would give it because I couldnt refuse. I was like an alcoholic faced with a cold beer and lime. Word had got round, I assume, that I was attempting to quit cold turkey. If I recall correctly there were bets on when Id give in. Not if Id give in, when. It didnt exactly fill me with encouragement.

Arent you going to ask what? she asked, already annoyed that I wasnt following the script shed created for me.


Im following in the family footsteps, so to speak she snickered, laughing at her joke as she said it. I suppose she wouldnt like it if I say this, but her chest puffed out like a peacocks in mating season. Why shed be so damn proud of that decision, I didnt quite know. I had hoped she wasnt trying to make me proud, though she did, in an odd way.

I was so relieved she hadnt outright tempted my fortitude by saying come rob a bank with me that thoughts immediately went to her mother when she mentioned family, whose profession, like most everything else in her life, was undecided. God knows I didnt really understand how that whole family nuclear unit thing went. Your mothers not a tree you want to be fallin too close to. Heck, if your mother were a tree, Id be looking to sell her for toothpicks.

Dellie grimaced. Charming image. But my mother wasnt the direction I was heading in.

I scrambled to find any other family business besides the one Bucklers were famous for. Your Uncle Jeff owned a whore house. While Im not one to indulge on a regular basis, there are many men that like to scratch their itches on a timetable. He forged a good business in that line of work. Course, your family would probably disown you but in my mind thats kind of a bonus.

She was already halfway mad Pop! Are you daft? What on earth would give you the inclination I was opening a whorehouse? Do I look like the sort of person who wants to give men what they want? Dont answer that. God Almighty, no wonder you drink so much. If I spent as much time around you as you do, Id have one foot off a rooftop.

Dellie placed her hands on my shoulders in a traditional dramatic gesture and looked into my eyes, trying to make it easy for an idiot to understand. Let me tell you, Pop. Im gunna rob a bank. Thats my plan. Im gunna start breaking some rules. And damn me, if I aint lookin forward to gettin started.

I sighed, thinkin of her as the next felled member of our family. It appeared girl I had dated was right: I was toxic. Everything I touched seemed to go out of control. But weak and selfish as I am, I was tempted. You see my midlife career change wasnt so typical. It was absolutely necessary because, you see, bank robbers have an occupational hazard: they tend to end up in jail.

You sure? I asked. I wanted her to say yes because suddenly I was desperate. A month of playing it straight was about to do me in.

As shit she responded, not breaking my glance.

Another one of us falls to the waste side I said, for poetrys sake. People might hear about this one day and I didnt want to just say something like Oh, well, gee!. It was a lost cause as far as argument went. Dellie never lost an argument. And I was desperate for an excuse to fall back down the hill to the Valley of Good and Plenty.

Declaration over with, Cordelia sat back down, bummed a smoke and relaxed against the cracked surface of the seat. The dog ran down to the auto shop and barked at the lizards along its side, clinging to the wall for dear life. Breakfast hadnt even finished and shed sent my head to thinking. And I hate to think before eleven unless absolutely necessary. Not that there really was much to think on.

The Backward OX
October 30th, 2010, 03:01 PM
It's too long. If you really want people to read it and to comment, I'd suggest two things. One, take it out and then repost it in three separate bites, with a few days or a week between each one. Two, open up the text with line breaks between paragraphs, to make it easy on the eyes.

October 30th, 2010, 03:27 PM
It is long, but I plan to come back to it because the parts I read have me interested. Line breaks to make it easier to read would be good. I like your narrative voice. Those who say you should never write the way people actually talk won't like it, I'm sure, but don't mind them. The pickers of nit will be along shortly to point out all the minor infractions. Do mind them. They can give you some good advice.

October 30th, 2010, 03:43 PM
Thanks for your advice