You Coulda Been a Hero

Patrick liked the writing style in this letter from Gretchen, as did I, though it was painful for him to read. Some references have been edited at my sister’s request.

WARNING: Sensitive readers may be offended by this letter’s foul language or the reality of the tale itself.

CHAPTER ONE

You pegged Pedro dead to rights, when I called him a neanderthal. You said “no, cro-magnon, he wouldn’t eat his own children, but he would eat anything else.”

But at least he noticed I was there. Which was more than could said for you … during the important bits.

By the time we got hauled out of the 2nd orphanage, (the BEST SETUP EVER, lemme tell you) I didn’t even know who was doing the hauling. They SAID … but for all I knew, she could have been the Fucking Tooth Fairy, rumored to exist but rarely seen, since you had to believe it first.

Or the rare triangle-spotted ocelot.

But by this time we were fairly well accustomed to being shipped off to strangers for no apparent reason and I, for one, did not protest. Jennifer was delighted (as it was a source of pride at the orphanage that a) our parents were alive somewhere and b) said they would come back for us.)

You, at this point, were some exotic blurry figure in the distance, who was gonna show up in the nick of time. har har har. Personally, I suspected that you were living like Doctor Zhivago somewhere.

If you HAD showed up in the nick of time, I wouldn’t of recognized you either.

CHAPTER TWO

Now aunt Phil I woulda recognized. I would have willingly gnawed my own leg off to get away from her, too. She ran her home like an army barracks on her good days, like the CIA with carte blanche in a central american country on her bad ones. And she did not hesitate to fuck up her kids. Not just her kids, but ANY kids unlucky enough to cross her path. She beat ’em, she burned ’em, she made ’em eat outta the garbage (THAT’ll teach him to waste food…) She did worse, but it wouldn’t help anybody to know about it. And wouldn’t make fuck aII’s worth of difference either.

Aunt Phil was where mama dropped us off when she ran off with Rhett. Aunt Phil should have been taken to the vet and fixed, before bearing her first victim.

And she still ranks as the cruelest human I ever saw up close. That stretch woulda been a good time for you to step in. You coulda been a hero.

Mama says let bygones be bygones, … but she wasn’t there.

Neither were you, pal.

Why am I telling you this? Because the past has finally reached out to grab me and it’s dragging me down down down down down. And hell, who else is gonna listen? If not my beloved father.

Letter to Patrick

Hey Patrick, it’s JP.

I’m wearing that robe tonight, the maroon one that you and Ivonne bought for me when I came to visit in Palma—so long ago it seems, although it was really just a year and a half ago. So I’m wearing the maroon robe and I’m thinking about you.

You know, things are going ok. Of course, I still miss you like crazy. It’s what, one in the morning and I’m thinking about you.

I think about you a lot.

Still, I’ve dialed it back some. Continue reading “Letter to Patrick”

Democracy Has One Big Problem

In response to a YouTube video called Rules for Rulers, Patrick responded on 16 Nov ‘ 16:

Pretty good video.  But democracy has one big problem.

If you can keep people dumb with entertainment, and make them think  what you want, you control everything without giving true rewards in proportion to the value of the normal person – if they can’t think, they won’t get what they want or need, but will blame it on somebody else.

It’s like dictating what you have to think.

Oh well, I don’t know why the mob prefers football to understanding life a little bit.

 

With Whatever Love for Life that Is Left to Me, I Will Seek …

Found in my e-mail, this was part of a collection of things Patrick sent me called “You Never Know.” This segment is dated 19 April 2006.

My first impulse when Stephanie died was to dump everything – after 29 years together, the accumulated baggage was overwhelming. Not only physical objects – the house was full of papers, clothing, furniture – but memories, in the form of thousands of photos and such simple things as the arrangement of towels on the rack.

One month after she was buried, after showering I still lowered the head of the shower to the height she preferred. Continue reading “With Whatever Love for Life that Is Left to Me, I Will Seek …”

Heading to Coos Bay, Oregon

Patrick and Lee traveled to Oregon after high school. Here’s a story fragment about the experience. He references the Seventh Day Adventist religious group, but he’s actually describing the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a different Christian sect. The fragment is from a collection called You Never Know that Patrick sent me on 11 Aug ’15.

South of Eureka, a van distributing bakery goods picked us up.

“Where you headed?”

“Coos Bay.”

“You’re in luck. Hop in.”

The driver turned out to be a map freak, and when we told him where we had come from, he knew the names of the highways and Continue reading “Heading to Coos Bay, Oregon”

Ashes

A story Patrick sent to me on 13 March 2015.

In the kitchen preparing breakfast I have bacon on medium heat, abiding by Steinbeck’s advice to cook it slowly, a couple of eggs at the ready, abiding by my own rule never to put eggs in the refrigerator, and humming to myself to cover the absence of anyone to share the morning, I hear noises up behind the house. For a moment my subconscious believes it is the person I jokingly call my bitter half, finishing her meditation, my signal to start the toast, but it takes only a second to remember that can’t be so, she having departed the earth a while ago.

It is over a year since I have taken the hatchet and saw to the brush and brambles blocking the way to the water deposits and beyond those, Continue reading “Ashes”

As I Approach Eighty

I approach eighty living on this beautiful island, and probably will finish up here. Over half my life I have been living here in paradise. To get here and stay here I sinned a lot, but it has been worth it. Unless, of course, when I quit this world I have to pay for those sins, as at least one of my daughters seems to believe.

Nobody really knows about that, I suppose. And in any case there’s nothing to change the past, and I’m not one to look for forgiveness, so I will just have to face the music.

How Suddenly Our Fictions of Permanence Are Reclaimed

Even in mundane correspondence, Patrick and his friends remained true to their artistic, poetic roots. Their imagery and storytelling lushly fills the pages.

This is one reason I share these letters: to share his love of words and his practice and appreciation of the wordsmith craft.

Patrick saved this exchange in a separate file, clearly not wanting to lose it. His letter was dated 19/05/12, or 19 May 2012. Her letter, which was saved first in the file, was dated 08/12/12, which I believe, based on context, was 8 Dec 2012.

He titled her letter “love and other strange passings” and his “our exits, our entrances.” I present them here in the order I found them in the data file. The file itself was dated 15 March 2014.

Continue reading “How Suddenly Our Fictions of Permanence Are Reclaimed”