live in a city with falcons now. They were run off once by all the city's buildings
and skyscrapers but then some of them decided to take over this one building downtown
and make it their home. It's a tall, chunky building with round parts on top.
A new one, not one of those old glass kinds. There's these windows in the round
parts with ledges and the falcons live up there. When you're downtown at the park
you can see them swoop down. They're not that big so you kind of have to squint,
but you see these little brown specks. They look like they're jumping off the
building, little people trying to kill themselves, but then they pick up and fly
all the sudden. |
We don't really live in this city yet. We've got our tent set up at a campsite outside town and Dad's got it worked out so we don't have to pay for it. It's this privately-owned place and Dad works for the owner on weekends. They don't let you do that at the Kampgrounds Of America or state parks. Me and him and Kris all share this big Army tent and keep most our stuff in the station wagon. It's not so bad 'cause the weather here's really nice. It's middle of July now and we haven't even hit 100 degrees. At night sometimes it gets so cool you have to put on a coat or sweatshirt, definitely always pants.
Dad likes the coolness a lot right now, 'cause the heat is why we left Texas this time. Dad thinks the heat helps make him crazy. I keep telling him he's not "crazy", but we both know what he means. He just loses it a little sometimes. He's seen some doctors before but he didn't like what their drugs did to him. Anyway back when we were in Uvalde, he saw this guy on TV who wrote a book about Prozac, but he wasn't talking about Prozac, he was talking about how heat makes you crazy. Not just tired or crabby or bitchy but it really affects your brain and makes you crazy. He said that's why Italians and Spanish people in Europe weren't big successful countries like us or Germany, because it's too hot there and the people are always a little bit crazy. Dad agreed with that. The guy also said that's why people from the South were kinda fucked and that pissed Dad off. He started bitching about Yankee Doctors and how they killed Mom -- bunch of his usual shit. They asked us to leave the bar where we were watching TV. That was embarrassing but Kris needed to get to sleep anyway.
Next day Dad liked the doctor again, and got it in his head that all his problems were from living in the heat and he should try it up North. Now, yeah, Uvalde is extra-hot but we've also lived on the Gulf Coast a lot: Corpus Christi, Portland, Fulton, Galveston. There the Gulf Breeze cools things off, but Dad still wasn't much better. Last summer we lived in Santa Fe about a month. Dad didn't like it 'cause it was too bougie and gentrified and full of tourists and rich hippies, and he couldn't find a job he liked, so we moved back to Texas. Dad doesn't remember that Santa Fe was really cold at night.
But maybe it's not really the actual temperature, it's the place you're at. 'Cause Santa Fe got cool but it was cool in the middle of the desert. You'd be huddled up outside with a big Indian blanket wrapped around you, all cold, but you'd be looking out at sand and rocks and cactus. Maybe that fucks you up. Even though you feel cold, your eyes see all the things of hotness and it fucks up your brain. Same thing like on the coast you've got sand dunes and cactus like a desert. Your brain doesn't know what to believe, and it ends up choosing your eyes over your feeling.
So we came up to Seattle which is really different. It's not on the coast but there's water from the ocean in the Puget Sound. It smells like a lake but it's from the ocean. Seagulls are flying all around, screaming like they do, and there's a huge market where you can look at every kind of seafood you could ever think of -- they've got squid and octopuses and giant crabs. There's mountains, too, real big ones with snow on top; not like the ones around Austin. Dad says these here are volcanoes, and active ones.
The people seem OK. When we drive into town Dad has me asking for change with Kris; I get a lot 'cause she's so little. I worry about her being in the sun so much so I got a little travel-size lotion at the Payless that has SPF in it and put that on her face. I don't want her to get burned and peeling for when people see us. People like little kids; kids make them feel all sorry and help us out, but they freak if the kids're gross. Even if it's just sunblisters they think it's something sick like infected chiggers or chicken pox sores or something. So I try to keep both us real clean, and keep an eye out for when Dad's shirts have stains or when he gets something stuck in his beard. Wish I could get him to shave regular, but a full beard looks better than a bunch of scraggle.
So Dad goes around town looking for work and we work changing, 'cause we spent so much money driving out here. Some days Dad gets work from the labor pool, stuff like helping Arabs unload rugs into their stores. One day he did that right across from the park where I was changing with Kris. We didn't say hi or anything. I know he didn't want the guys he was working with to see his kids working the park, but I also think he was glad for us to see him working. He knows I know some days he can't find anything and goes and has a beer instead and that's cool. He's got to stay mellowed out --if he gets pissed or freaks, it can ruin his chances. You never know if a boss or social services lady you go talk to tomorrow might be eating at the same restaurant as you today when you get thrown out for arguing with a waiter about why he messed up your food and overcharged you.
So if having a few beers mellows Dad out that's OK. He probably really needs medicine but alcohol is just doing it without a doctor. The Prozac doctor talked about that, too. Lotsa people with Attention Deficit do that 'cause they don't know they're sick. Edgar Alan Poe, Sherlock Holmes, lots of poets -- they drank or did cocaine or pot. Dad's smart and just drinks now 'cause it's legal and we don't have to deal with cops or any of that shit. He says all the drugs today are synthetic crap anyway, and no one does them for expanding their consciousness, just for trips. But still he gets all happy when I come home with something. Like here I made peace with the street punks who at first didn't like me and Kris changing in their area: I met this old burnout guy who'll trade me some of his doses for if he can take me over to the Y as his guest and watch him take a shower. He lets me leave Kris in his room and it's just for a little while. He doesn't touch me. Sometimes he gives us a little money, too. So I give the doses to the street punks and then they're all right to us. It's cool till Kris is older, and by then things ought to have gotten stable. For now it gets me some extra money so I can get lotion and vitamins and better socks and stuff like that, sneak them in. Dad doesn't notice. If he does I say I lifted them. He gives me a talk about karma and tells me not to do it too much. Actually, I hardly ever steal stuff 'cause I'm too afraid of getting caught. In stores they got cameras and mirrors and undercover cops and all that shit. It would screw things up for us a lot if I got arrested; people would find out we're living in a tent and think Dad's not a good parent, take me and Kris away.
It's hard 'cause sometimes Dad has to do things by himself, either 'cause he thinks I can't handle it or he feels like a sucky Dad if he doesn't. So I usually just do stuff like asking directions, getting maps, little stuff like that. But Dad gets confused sometimes when people try to explain things to him; he gets impatient and pissed off and pisses them off and then they don't help us. It's tricky on stuff like that. Like, we've had a hard time looking for apartments out here because they have this thing called a move-in fee instead of security deposit. It's pretty much a security deposit you don't get back. Dad couldn't understand it -- why should we pay them to clean up the place when we leave when we still have to do it ourselves? Plus that security deposit always comes in handy when you're settling into a new place, it's like a money surprise. Well Dad thinks this move-in fee is a scam. I did too at first; I thought it was like how some landlords want to charge you $150 to have a cat, or want a notarized copy of you police record even if you don't have one, which is an Invasion of Privacy. But when I saw how everyone out here wants a move-in fee (or a cleaning fee or a partially-refundable security deposit), I could tell it might be a scam but it's also just the way things are done out here. It's like when they charge you money for credit checks, which don't cost them hardly anything, but they just charge you for it just because they can.
See, I can let slide shit like that. When something's wrong, all Dad can see is that it's wrong. I see when something's wrong, but I can also see when there's nothing you can do about it and your best bet is to just take care of it or try and figure a way around it. We stopped even looking at apartments here 'cause Dad's so mad about it. He can't stop from trying to argue the landlord out of it and then they think he's trying to pull something over on them. Sometimes I can smooth things like that out, when Dad starts being hard-ass, or even worse tries to sweet-talk if it's a lady. I can't be too obvious about it or he gets pissed, so I do something to make them both forget what they were getting tense about. I'll laugh real loud like Kris did something cute or I'll get all excited about something stupid outside the window like, "They've got a Taco Bell here!" Being a cute kid sometimes smooths people out -- but it's hard 'cause I'm not much of a kid anymore. But most important is to get Dad switched onto something else. Get him thinking about us and what we all need and not so much about whether someone's trying to screw him over.
See, he does really care about us a lot. Some people would think he's really a screwy Dad but he's teaching us stuff no one else gets taught anymore, like how to survive outside the system, how to manage without being on the grid, how to read people. That's the important stuff because it's all gonna collapse anyway, polar shift or nuke accident or just anarchy. One way or another all the shit isn't going to matter and we'll be some of the few people left prepared to deal.
So he teaches us camping and gardening. He tells us about plants and animals and stuff, and he really actually knows a lot about that shit back from when he was a teacher. We went camping one time just me and him, when I got those first doses. I got the campground guy to watch Kris all day so we could go fishing -- I knew he'd like the idea of Dad and me doing that. So we hiked up around the mountain and lake there near the campground. We pitched the tent and baked fish wrapped in ferns you could eat over a fire. Then we split a dose around sunset and it was really great 'cause Dad got all silly. We joked about things Mom used to get onto us about and his face relaxed, and we laughed forever. The sunset flowed over us like waves and we put our hands up in it, then it was stars and they all moved around different colors and you could just stare at them all night.
I told him about the falcons, how I learned about them from this drunk in the park. I usually stay away from drunks 'cause they're smelly and kinda freaky, and they might fuck with me and Kris. But I was making good change and it was before I worked out the deal with the punks so I didn't want to go over to their corner. Anyway this old Indian drunk showed me the falcons. He pointed up at this building and showed me the specks to watch for. I told Dad about it, about how the Indian said if you went up on that building, up by the round windows, you'd find lots of bloody, dead pigeons that the falcons eat. Dad told me about how royal ladies and knights back in King Arthur times used to train falcons for hunting, they'd fly off and kill then come back and land on your hand. I told Dad how, when you see the falcons as a heavier spot, and they do this funny curl and meet a tiny spot; that means they're teaching their kids how to hunt. The falcons kill a pigeon and carry it in their claws. They fly out and flip over upside-down, holding the pigeon up for the little falcon, who swoops down and tries to take it from its parents claws. Dad had never heard of that and thought the drunk Indian was just trying to get me to look up into he sky so he could swipe our change.
Then I got tired even though my head was going all fast about how to fix things for Dad. I fell asleep leaning against him while he watched for UFOs.
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