the life of richie


Posted in is by Rich on March 31, 2009

Rich takes to reading Fences on his back porch, before his evening literature class.

Sgt. Pepper intimates himself into the scene, stretching out on the top of the porch fence, where he usually stands afternoon watch for Rich; he stretches and sunbathes in the late March early afternoon. His mouth moves open-close like he is talking to himself or some unknown spirits; he looks very happy, for a squirrel.

Rich reads while Pepper sunbathes in the midday, in the March month.

There is much stillness and expectancy, everywhere: in the ground, in the sky, in the squirrel, in the boy –– expectancy and stillness.

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Posted in is by Rich on March 31, 2009

Rich’s allergies are all aflame with SPRING. Days linger longer. There is a suspicion of warmth and the encroachment of crocuses from the long-dormant earth. In parks, soon, there will be the splendor of the grass; the nephelococcygia performed when, lying on blankets, we chance to augur fortune from the fluffy cloud formations drifting above our heads; wandering lonely as the clouds.

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Posted in will be by Rich on March 29, 2009

In the future, there might not be books still: not as Richard knows books now (he knows this).

Like Farenheit 451, we might incinerate them all: paper can only be recycled so many times, he imagines, after all, before it is all pulped out. How can there be books if there might not even be trees still? Children might laugh at him, when he speaks of such things as trees. Children will ask, “These creatures with branches that changed color, you say they would guard the roadsides?” and he will smile, wearily, and say aye; once they were everywhere –– here and there. Like flocks of phoenixes, they would burst into flames once a year, and expire, and then be reborn in the springtime. We would make books of them: take them into our homes, place them on shelves to gather dust and might. The children will think him a mad old man to speak of such things as trees turning to phoenixes and these baa-ooo-ckks.

The tactile sensation of musty tomes will be memory, randomly accessed. In the future, we could just have books burned onto our brains –– no need to digest; like Ethiopian food, words will come pre-digested, bred to be digitized; uploaded into our mushy brain-boxes; purged before the next meal.

Then, everything will be RAM, then. The oral tradition that precipitated print might concede to electronic form. Richard has long not wanted to permit this, but sees that this sea change might be unstoppable. Alexandria rises from the ashes, sparkling, crackling. Books will kindle the coming Kindle and then be discarded. Already he longs for the days of the card catalogue: already the library’s former system is extinct. He remembers as a child, his fingers searching through the card catalogue, the wonderful touch of digits on fondled, parched, dirty-typed cardstock. Gives him chills. Pressed into the open stacks of books. A frisson of sentiment. But sentiment must be scanned; discarded. Here is progress. Here is the future of “print”. It is a ooh-ooh wikiworld, ever-editing itself into some new half-truth. Those who long for tradition will not be long for this new whirled. One must move forward or be left behind. Nostalgia smacks of rebellion; rebellion comes to resemble senenescence/senility. Tradition is treachery to the future; cannot be tolerated. Just go with the flow. And so we beat on, choked in the current thrashing forward, into the future.

In the future, when all’s well that ends, well –– !

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Posted in was by Rich on March 26, 2009

There was a boy Wesley who would borrow Richie’s toys and feed them to his dog. Wesley called Richie to snivel, sobbing, I’m sorry, but my dog ate the head off your He-man action figure. He was crying, and Richie was crying, saying, It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter.

–I’m sorry.

–It doesn’t matter.

Wesley went to church (where there were priests) and prayed that Richie would still love him. And Richie still yuved him. But Wesley was a Catholic and Richie was a heavin’ Hea-then. He would hide under the table in his parents’ bedroom and play with his toys (the ones that still had heads on’em, that hadn’t been de-headed by Wesley’s doggy). Under the table he could construct his own worlds of imagination and Imagination would swell to surround him in its suckling succor (just imagine). Here was the antithetical firmament he sought. There were no words here yet. There were some scribbles he scribed, si. And later there would be words other than Richie and yuv and cat and dog. But he could not imagine later then. Then there was only now.

Eventually Megan went away like the man-Mommie, and she left, and Richie would never see her again ever. And he stopped going to Ayethia’s. And Wesley went off to private school, where the nuns would strike his hand if caught playing with his doggy was he (slap his icky, sticky hand that tasted like some bitter warm syrup-drink when lapped at with wagging tongue). And the boys who’d decorated Richie’s clubhouse with flowers were told not to (so) anymore. And the Richie-cat runned away. So Richie was removed from them (or were they rather removed from him?) and retreated under the bedroom table, alone

1.) A is for Alone

2.) A + lone

3.) All + one (and one is all)

For when he didn’t have toys to tinker with, when they were all eaten, he would play with words like the magnetic alphabits on the frigo. Because A-l-o-n-e was how you spelled Richie in the After-Eden. (But he would say it A-yone.)

But one day he went into his room when he was a little older and crossed his hands like he’d seen them do in that naked priest movie, and dramatically rested his wrists down upon his bed while sunstrokes streamed in beams through the dust-furried blinds. And he invoked god and then got a queer god-feeling like he was deity already and was burrowing his lips into his own peach to get at the pit, spit! spit! But he tried hard to forcefeed himself some panoptiopticonal warden, and said to mister god, Why me? –– and then, not waiting for an answer to the first, Why have you taken away all my friends? And distant master bleated as the skies farted like the yellow mustard, the fetal god kicking inside the heaven-womb. Richie warned, I will write my name all over you, and be a heathen, and use words to kill you dead! Because I’m a heathen and terrible and people are better and you are worse and my friends don’t really need you anyway and neither do I and neither do I do I

But then Richie cried, because he did want god, some god, ananny god, even if he didn’t need god so much. He wanted god to return with the man-Mommie all thin with long hair wrapped-up in a lovely fur coat. (And wanted that the man-Mommie be wearing a lovely fur coat too.) But the not-god just shrugged its shoulders, and the earth sh-sh-shakened, and then there was silence like Silence Itself was before the beginning. And Richie realized he’d never believed in god and was sad. Then he smiled and feigned relief. After all, there were still priests, he reasoned, even without the g-word. So he smiled.

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Posted in is by Rich on March 22, 2009

On Sundays, there are three morning services at the Catholic church across the street; the first beginning at eight. The parkinglot will be wholly silent until fifteen minutes before –– and then at five minutes to showtime, cars will swarm, descend upon the asphalt like locusts, and all the sleepy Catholics will hurry inside. By nine o’ clock, the lot will again be vacant; the Catholics seem so efficient in their God. The next service is at nine-thirty with the last one following at eleven.

The “bells”, the computerized hymns which have replaced bells, will play before each service starts. On weekdays, the “bells” sound at nine, noon, and six; on Sundays, the first set begins at eight and continues throughout the day.

In the summer, with the windows thrown open, Rich can hear the families on the street. Many times they will be arguing. Then, they disappear inside. On the other end, Rich does not hear any quarreling; either because their familial stress is drowned out by the symphony of engines starting in unison, or because the anodyne inside is still taking effect. Everyone seems more happy: maybe it is relief more than revelation (who can say?), like leaving the doctor’s office with a good check-up, safe for another seven days till Sunday. Rich watches, from his windows, them dash and disappear inside. He has only once entered the church himself –– for a funeral –– and fears returning for fear of being smited. He can only imagine. Sometimes he will stare so intently at the holy edifice that he can almost X-ray the building and, like in a children’s book, summon up the cross-section (the outer wall gives way) so the fourth wall succumbs to his stares and he can watch all the people in the pews listening (or looking like listening), massing en mass, bidding prayers, crying creeds, eating juice and crumbly crackers, those crackers!

Here is the church / here, the steeple / open it up / and see all the people.

Some Sundays Rich feels he actually does go inside with them. Three times, some Sundays, if he is sitting at his computer for those three/four hours on end (like he is now), watching out the window. He thinks of writers who have succumbed to the sacrament before him; must’ve loved the sense of order & form, of tradition; of structure. (This all appeals to Rich’s own desire for order, for form; appeals to his OCD tendencies.) He cannot condone, however, the parents who allow their children to wear jeans or (worse) shorts during the summer to service; have we no shame? He longs for the shaming (and perhaps would welcome the smiting, some), and so knows it could never work out for him, with the Catholics, even were he to find his Waughish way across the street to them, decked out in Graham Greenery.

Caroline has started going to the Methodist church, the one Rich’s parents still receive a weekly newsletter for. (Even though Dad now keeps company with Granddad on Sundays. This is his weekly service: the taking of eggs and bacon with Grandfather at a different breakfast chapel each week. And Mom goes out of her way to an ecumenical (read: hippy) church out of town.) Caroline joined the Methodists because they appealed to her vanity: she has always wanted to sing in a choir. The Methodists have a choir, with a need for altos. But, she admits, the Methodist service can sometimes stretch to an hour and a half. (What blasphemy! Rich’s Catholics would not stand for this. Where is the form & order? Where the structure?)

Caroline then offers, “But my parents still go to the Catholic church across from you. They go to the Spanish service on Sunday afternoons. I don’t think they can understand anything (after all, they don’t speak Spanish). But they say everyone is always very happy.”

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Posted in is by Rich on March 20, 2009

In the musty museum on 22nd Street, Rich stares at the plaster cast of the two 19th century Siamese Twins. The information card notes that underneath the cast, on a second shelf, resides their conjoined liver. The brothers were joined lightly at the sternum.

The brothers provide the origin for the phrase Siamese Twins (even though they were 3/4 Chinese). They were brought to the states (quite the sensation) and settled in North Carolina. They married two sisters and sired 21 children between the two of them. Caroline asks, “What were these sisters like?” There is someone for everyone, one supposes; or two someones for one ever-two, in this case. Rich tries to imagine the sex life of the brothers and two sisters. The brothers maintained separate residences, and would alternate spending time on either farm. The bedroom scene must’ve looked like a Roman orgy. What must the children have thought of their uncle-father? Perhaps everyone tried to think not too much of the situation. Mutter and muddle through. A new domestic threshold for what normal is.

The card, in front of the cast, notes that one brother was an alcoholic and rather loud, while the other was more “easy-going”. This conjures yet another curious crisis: of one soused Siam yelling for more booze! while the other brother quietly reads a book, with his head hung low. Was this a divine lesson in tolerance? Rich wonders. The card notes that the curvature of the spine notes how one brother had to adjust to the movements and stature of the other. Was he victimized by the other?

One of the brothers awoke one night to find his brother lying next to him, dead. The brother cried for his wife, the doctor, but ultimately died, most likely of shock. It is a monstrously beautiful scene, Rich decides.

Caroline insists, “It doesn’t seem like they were attached by that much. Physically, it should’ve been easy to separate them.”

It’s true, by today’s standards. Separation would be easy. Or easier done than said. At the brother’s deathbed, the brother refused to be separated by the doctor, who proposed the emergency surgery to save the surviving one. He refused.

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Posted in is by Rich on March 18, 2009

Watching Dinner at Eight, Rich realizes that Marie Dressler looks like his Aunt Margy. It becomes difficult to concentrate on anything else. When she is in a scene, he is transported back to Western Pennsylvania –– can see his aunt swinging her ponderous hips around her house, contorting her face into a smile ––

In watching Marie, Rich imagines his aunt, happy.

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Posted in was by Rich on March 17, 2009

There was this other girl Alethia, who Richie said Ayethia, and that reminded Nannyman of urethra and he had to go go to the bathroom and be excused. Ayethia was the daughter, was the friend of Mommie’s, and Ayethia had a big house with a piano room in in it. Ayethia’s mother taught piano, and they had a special room for that. There was a room for piano just as there was a name for Richie and one too for Ayethia, even though she was spelled A-l-e-t-h-i-a, which Richie could not say. He hated Ayethia though, more than sister for escaping Mommie or even days without rice. She would tease him with her lacking (she was like Estelya from Grape Exceptashons) she was this elliptical tease, see, and they were forced to play together (him and the Big Tease) at Miss Havisham’s house, where there was a piano room. They were not allowed in that room though. Richie would pull Ayethia’s braids and she would cry and run to her mommy, who was not Richie’s Mommie. One day he was thinking about Megan, and when Ayethia started making fun of Richie’s toys, he leaned over and kissed her and she flew fleeing in rubescent squeal. And Ayethia’s mom, who was watching laughing, laughed out chortling haaa haa and would say, for years to come, I remember that day you kissed Alethia and how proud I was of you –– even though she was not, was never, his Mommie-Richie.



Posted in was by Rich on March 16, 2009

There was a world that was not Richie’s world. That other world existed outside and was dangerous. It was not Richie’s world no no not Richie no. The first months of his beaning, Mommie did not even take Richie outof the house for fear of him being abandoned, lost, hurt or stolen. Little Binky’s safemety caused Miss Mommie great constermanation, greater even than when she had to potty train Richie. Richie did not take to the pity pottying. Mommie would buy treats to keep in a plastic pumpkin and say if you use the potty, you can have a toy but Richie would scream and demand toys now, mommie! and Mommie would give in. (Poor little Binky.) Finally Daddie said be a big boy and you can go to the new Yuke and Yeia movie, and that was that, and so it goes. Still; Mommie felt bad about her role in the failed pottying process. She was sure this would have terrible effects on the infant in years to come. Uncle Freud agreed. He said Mommie would need lots of alcmeholnogg to survive Richie’s even more terrible yeater years.

But Uncle Freud also said that Richie was a writer and could not live in reality’s tenure. He might’ve suggested putting the terrible child up for adoption. Cause Richie was an artist, forging the Antithetical. He was was before am –– was not –– (He be: past, present, future tense.) And terrible things would no doubt come of It. Mommie said he was her little Binky and she would take her chances. Uncle Freud puffed, it’s your life, lady.



Posted in is by Rich on March 16, 2009

Rich has been taking care of his mom’s bird while she and his dad are away. The routine involves feeding the bird twice a day: a scrambled egg meal and treat for breakfast; a multicolored pellet supper and treat for dinner. Because he has been watching The Glass Menagerie with Joanne Woodward in his literature classes, Rich has taken to singing the scrambled egg song (adapted from the lemonade song) during the morning feeding: Scram-beld eggs / Scram-beld eggs / Good for your head and / Good for your legs / Eat it all up right / Down to the dregs…

Twice a day (at least) the bird also needs to be watered. The water dish sits with a mirror in an upper corner of the cage. The dish is small –– about one-quarter the size of the bird –– but he takes to bathing in his drinking dish for some weird reason, splashing himself, giving himself the whore’s bath.

There are mirrors everywhere in the cage. It is, Rich has noted, like a Tennessee Williams play inside the too-big cage –– cage too big for one little birdy. Illusion, illusion, illusion… Rich’s dad suspects that the bird looks in the mirrors and believes he has friends looking back. He will press his little bird-head against the reflective glass and talk and talk and talktalktalktalk. He must have some wonderful conversations with his mirror-friends. They always look so happy to see him.

Mom sometimes leaves the cage door open. The bird has his wings clipped, but when he was littler, he would jump from the cage and run around all helter-skelter on the floor, sometimes finding his way to the back door, where he would look out at the world and the outside-world birds: the robins, the sparrows –– sometimes a squirrel. Mom would find him on the blue backdoor mat, gazing with big bird-eyes out the window at the birds and animals, and admonish, No, no, no –– you’ll get stepped on over here.

Over time, as he has gotten older, the bird has given up the great escape: no more jumping off the cage and looking out the backdoor-window. Rich suspects it’s because he’s realized that escape is impossible. But dad bets that the bird was disappointed in the outside world. The birds on the outside would never talk to him; looked mean and world-wearied.

His bird-friends in the mirrors always look so happy.

In the cage, one wants for nothing and is never sad.


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