05 March 2016

Father and Son, Illusions and Delusions


if all else fails write

That’s the way Kidrick looked at it and writing had gotten him out of a lot of jams. Mental ones. His name was Royston Kidrick and he suffered from frequent bouts of depression. The gloom would set in and surround him like a thick and heavy fog. There was nowhere to go and nothing to do when it took hold. Except to write.

By the age of 43 Kidrick had written six novels and several dozen short stories. He hadn’t had a word published. None.

On March 22, 1993 Kidrick was sitting at his typewriter trying to squeeze out some words. It was like trying to have a bowel movement when seriously constipated. Just as painful too and just as frustrating. Maybe he’d taken too much xanax. Kirdrick wasn’t sure how many he’d popped, keeping track of stuff wasn’t really his thing.

Time to pace. To walk to the picture window and back to his desk and repeat. Repeat. Bee bop the mind up and down and all around and no words were willing to come and he was feeling worse with each passing second like life was utterly and completely horrible. Where? Where was the answer? Or the end? Maybe it would come to an end and that was the answer. Who could say anymore. Kirdick had endured decades of frustration trying to find meaning. Psychedelics hadn’t helped. Neither had yoga nor meditation nor religion nor psychiatry. Especially not the shrinks. Just a whole lot of mental masturbation. Speaking of which maybe a wank now would help. Shit. Do it staring out the big window let the neighbors have a gander.

The wife — Rula from India, lovely woman, tall, well-educated, lusted after by everyone, only 31 probably married him for his dough and oh by the way he had a lot (inherited) — she was away for a week visiting parents in New York city. How shitty. Missed her. Maybe a swim, backyard pool. Maybe a wank in the pool. Maybe call the escort service, maybe call a friend, maybe go on a bender. Maybe crack open a book — better to try to write one but those words were not coming anytime soon so far as Mr. Royston Kidrick of  Framingham Massachusetts could figure.

And not going back to the catholic fucking church and Royston (Roy Roy to Mom and Pop and big brother Allie) did not know where that thought came from he was after all raised Methodist and had only tried catholicsm for a couple of months but boy did it do a number on him. Wife was Hindu but he hadn’t tried that shit nor Judaism. Buddhism yes. Royston Kidrick’s fallback was to atheism. What he was between experimental religions or beliefs. Maybe Mormon. That cracked him up. Felt good to laugh. Could call up Buddy Dayness. Great friend and hilarious guy. They could crack open a good bottle of scotch and laugh about all the shit the world was forever dealing in large shovel fulls. Why not?

Buddy didn’t pick up. No message. Why bother. Why.

Oh damn did that depression -- come on now. Deep wave roiling through his body. Bubble bubble lots of trouble and oh the pain of it deep in his intestines and his brain and his heart and ow, ow, ow. Yikes. Roy Roy actually quivered with the ugly pain. Maybe just jump through that picture window. Thought of suicide a lot lot lot lot lot lot. But not not not not going to do it ever never ever never. Just couldn’t do it. Not an option my friend.

How about that scotch? Hated drinking alone. Save it. Buddy might call back. Didn’t leave a message. Called again. Left one this time. Sat down big frown out of town tried to write something out of sight not this night. But it was day. Still light out not night out. Out.

Deep long sigh the pain settling in deeper. Slowing down now. Sitting at the typewriter. Eked out a few words, not so much as a sentence, barely even a thought. Wow that’s bad. Bad. Sad. Please call back, Buddy. He was staring at the phone. Deep in. Pain seep(ing) in.

if all else fails write

But what when the writing fails? Oh shit the tears coming now the utter complete and total anguish. All that money was bullshit. Did Royston Kidrick no good at all, didn’t help a bit. Soft somber tears. No buying his way out of this depression it was soaking him. Drenched in the awful pain.

Distractions. Wash the dishes. Done. Pay a bill over the phone. Done. Fold the laundry. Done. Check the mail. Letter from Brown  and Deekins Publishing Company. Great. Another rejection, no doubt. This will make, what 93? Wow, he would make a 100 soon. Tore open the letter. Dr. Mr. Kidrick, We received your novel, “Faith and Clarity” and believe that with minor modifications including fleshing out a few characters, it is something we would like to publish. Please…

For the first time in his life Royston Kidrick fainted.

Royston thought it was hours later that he came to but it was actually only four minutes. The letter was still in his right hand, clutched tightly. This was a new one on Royston, an acceptance letter. He hadn’t gotten one since high school when he was accepted at Northeastern University. The feeling was overwhelming and utterly unfamiliar. But it was a feeling in direct opposition to the depression that was still a major force within him. Euphoria and misery were side by side within him.
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Hardy said it. "Dude, the dope that black people smoke smells totally different than the bud we smoke. It's so funky."

His friend Langston agreed. "I know it's like it smells dirty. Why is that though? Don't we all buy from like the same people?"

Carson said, "it's not like there's weed that's just sold to blacks and then some that's just sold to whites."

"But Carson, don't you notice it, man?" Hardy asked.

"Yeah, actually I do," he replied.

"Have either of you smoked with a black dude?" Langston asked.

Neither had. The three stood silently for awhile contemplating the mystery. Finally Carson went to the fridge and pulled out a six-pack. He handed his two friends a Budweiser and took one for himself.

They were in Hardy's house, down in the carpeted basement that was sort of a playroom but mostly, since Hardy and his sister Eileen had entered their late teens, a place to hang out with friends. Eileen was at college now attending UC Santa Cruz and Hardy was a senior in high school. Langston and Carson were classmates of his at Berkeley High. Hardy's mother, Rula was a professor at Cal and his dad was a successful author but also a man who'd been in and out of mental hospitals for 20 years. Next year Hardy would be going to college back East in Massachusetts, where he'd been born, at Tufts University.

"I don't wanna just sit here getting a buzz and talking shit, let's do something." Hardy insisted. It was a Friday night. There were usually parties somewhere but none of the boys knew of on this night.

"We can drive up to the hills and drop acid," Carson suggested. But the other two insisted it was too late in the day to be taking LSD, what with a lacrosse game the next day and all.

It looked like a dull night. Hardy was glad he wouldn't have to go it alone. He hated dull nights at home alone. His parents were out of town for the evening, down in LA where his mother was presenting a paper at some seminar.

"Hey Hardy, I tell ya I been reading one of your dad's books? The latest one?" Langston wanted to know.

"Man, don't tell me that. It's weird knowing someone my age, especially a friend is reading one of my dad's books."

"But it's really cool. He's got a lot of sex in his novels and -- "

"Damn, man what'd I just say? I don't wanna know this kind of shit."

"Hey calm down, Hardy," Carson advised.

"Yeah, okay, sorry dude. But I just don't talk about it, okay?"

Langston nodded his agreement.

Royston Kidrick was the author of five published novels and two short story collections. He'd won numerous awards and his books had all been best sellers. One was being made into a film with big name actors and a prominent director attached. But none of Kidrick's success had abated the demons that tormented him. Hardy was mortified by his dad's emotional instability, the frequent hospitalizations and all the medication he had to take. His mom tried to convince Hardy to be proud of all his father had accomplished despite his struggles but Hardy just couldn't see it that way. His sister was totally different. She loved her father unabashedly and doted over him and sang his praises to everyone she met, just as her mother did. Hardy didn't hate his dad, hell he loved him. But he couldn't get past the shame of being the son of someone with mental problems, nor could he get over the fear that he would be so afflicted someday too.

The three friends finished the six pack and they smoked a couple of joints but never left the Hardy's house that night. They all slept in the basement swapping stories until the wee hours before finally being overcome by sleep.

That Saturday their high school lacrosse team took a shellacking from a nearby private school. The trio took it in stride and had pizza together after the game. Hardy went home. His parents had returned a few hours before. When he entered the house Hardy found his father on the floor mewling and wailing and flopping around. His mother had just called for an ambulance. Hardy waited for the ambulance to come. He watched as his father was taken by stretcher into the back of the ambulance and his mother got in with him. Hardy went upstairs to his room, flopped on the bed and sobbed. He was alone and miserable.

It was an hour later that Eileen called. Hardy sobbed into the phone what had happened. His sister assured him that it would be okay. Hardy looked out the window into the dark March night. Rain began to fall. "Fuck it," he decided. "I'm not going to let myself be miserable anymore." Hardy Kidrick blew his nose, went downstairs and made a sandwich and waited for his mom to come home. He anticipated good news.

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