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"We need to make books cool again. If you go home with someone & they don't have books, don't fuck 'em."--John Waters

I'm the author of more than twenty novels including SHADOW SEASON, THE COLD SPOT, THE COLDEST MILE, THE MIDNIGHT ROAD, THE DEAD LETTERS, and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN. Look for my next one THE LAST KIND WORDS due out May '12 from Bantam Books. Contact: PicSelf1@aol.com

Saturday, July 16, 2011

All My Crushes Are Dead

We live and die by our great and minor loves. Our lifelong obsessions and our constantly changing compulsions. Our new favorite songs, movies, books. Glimpsed faces on the street, hopes in the night. Some of which stay with us for decades, and some of which drop away after a few days or weeks, only to be replaced by others that will drop away in days or weeks. We love. Sometimes forever, sometimes for a little while. We crush.

We find ourselves overcome by that profound burning delirium and adoration for whoever...whatever. A carefully stored moment. A scene, a lyric, a verse. Rock stars, movie stars, literary legends. Flavors, colors, dynamics, touches, textures. We lose ourselves in daydreams. We run the clip over and over.

You shut your eyes and you’re there again, in your place of safety, exchanging the same dialogue you’ve exchanged before. Maybe only twice, maybe ten thousand times. The voices are clear in your ear. You tell your dead father the things you never got to tell him before. He reacts. You see him smile. He holds that smile like a yellowing photograph framed on your night stand. He’s been holding it for about forty years. He’ll be holding it until the end of time. Until the end of you, the end of me.

I need him to hold it. I won’t ever not need him to hold it.

And it’s a bright hot summer day with only the barest breeze. It takes us back to another summer. To a street whose name we don’t recall.

To talk to a poet who wrote something that lives inside you like another chamber of your heart. The poet is long gone. Perhaps because of love. The kind of love we’re talking about. The kind of love that feels as if it will never dissipate, even though it sometimes does.

We dream about dancing with and fucking our imaginary lovers, sitting and drinking top shelf whiskey with our rugged heroes, coming face to face with our long-gone parents or high school sweethearts. Our biblical myths. Our faces for God. Our perfect selves, where we’re younger and trimmer and much more beautiful, and we know the right thing to say all the time, and the right things are said to us, all the time. We live inside songs. We live within frames of film. We live between lines of books.

We sometimes die but we die performing brave and lasting actions. Gorgeous, sweet girls shed tears for us. Handsome men make gestures of brotherhood and pride as we sink beneath the water, fall into cracks in the ice, burst into flame, drift away from pulsing chest wounds, die on the cross.

I’ve died for my crushes. And they’ve died for me. Right now, as I write this, they’re all dead. I crush on matinee idols no one remembers, I read books no one else owns. I play songs over and over that no one else remembers the words to. Maybe I’ll resurrect them with this sentence, or the one after it, or in my next story. Because they’re trapped in me, protected for now. And new loves are always waiting somewhere on the street, in the park, in the next bookstore aisle, or in that slim volume of poetry on the shelf.

Another night’s dream, another wild obsession that brings me this much closer to edge of the big ledge. The thing that dooms and damns and kills me by inches, and yet is somehow also the thing that, at least so far, has always kept me alive.


Ed Gorman said...

What a fine post, Tom. All too true.

Lee Thompson/Thomas Morgan/James Logan/Julian Vaughn said...

Agreed, Pic. Besides your monstrous talent, your unflinching honesty is incredible.

Anonymous said...

Damn, Pic.
That's simply great. So affecting.

Hunter Shea said...

It's good to see I'm not alone. Beautiful post.

Tom Piccirilli said...

Thanks, all, much appreciated.

Mike Dennis said...

Beautifully worded valentine to a seldom-articulated notion, one we all share.

Well done, Pic.

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