Monday, April 27, 2009
(part 160) YOU KNOW, PERFORMING
My brother Bill
On the flight back to L.A., I thought a lot about the things that had helped cause me to be in the trouble I was in. Back in Tennessee there were some who were trying to put me in prison for five to ten years for sales of a controlled substance, but here I was on a plane leaving town.
Because DP had grown up in Nashville, and knew a lot of the people in law enforcement, he was able to get permission for me to leave the state temporarily.
I knew that getting loaded was behind most of the crap I did, and was the central cause behind the continuing chaos, but there were other factors as well.
Looking out the window at the horizon, I knew I'd have to come back to Nashville at some point, or keep running, but right then I was reluctant to entertain either choice.
I was truly aware at that moment that I'd gotten myself into deep shit, and that "the police are out to get you" paranoia was now clawing its way into my brain.
The last time I'd felt this way was when I was running away from L.A. to get to Nashville. Now I was running away from Nashville to get back to L.A., and for the same kinds of reasons, bad decisions while loaded.
* * *
As I looked further back into my past, and the causes for what I did and why I was the way I was, I remembered Tucson, Arizona in 1957. My then stepfather Don Macdonald, and my older brother Bill did not get along at all, ever.
Bill, who was epileptic at the time, was taking phenobarbital for the epilepsy. Well phenobarbital is a barbiturate and can make you think you're bigger and badder than you may be.
So on a morning before going off to school, Alice Vail Jr. High, Bill and my stepfather, Don, got into a flat out fist fight in the kitchen. I mean it was like a fucking street fight on linoleum. They both got their licks in, but in the end Don was just too big for Bill to beat, so he had to concede the issue to my stepfather.
My part, other than terrified bystander, was to stand on a kitchen chair after the fight, and clean the blood splatters off the wall in the breakfast nook connected to the kitchen.
I stood on the chair with a damp sponge and wiped the walls down, removing the evidence of what had just happened to my morning. I remember feeling dazed and confused as I watched my arm go back and forth across the wall like a windshield wiper.
Shortly, I was on the bus headed off to Alice Vail Jr. Jail as we liked to call it. I just stared out the window and saw nothing except the instant replay in my head of Bill and Don beating the crap out of each other in the kitchen.
I could hear the yelling and swearing, and feel the anger and hatred the two of them felt toward each other, surging through my whole body. Later that day in school, I was reprimanded for staring out the window and day dreaming instead of studying. "Day dreaming, shit!" I was in semi-shock all day long, maybe all life long.
* * *
Staring out the window of the plane was like staring out the window of the bus that morning back in 1957. I looked out, but saw nothing except the inside of my head, and the world of bad memories that had haunted my every step since then.
My thoughts during the flight were a lot like they had always been, full of regrets and promises, and an undying resolve to somehow make it better. So far, I had not done anything but make it worse.
I didn't have any plan for what I'd do when I got to L.A., or where I'd go when I got there. I hoped I could get Carol Paulus to take me in since I hadn't seen her in quite awhile, and hoped she would be glad to hear from me, and maybe agreeable to having me around.
I vowed to be on my best behavior, and hoped I could maintain some sort of balance for a reasonable length of time. Other than that, I was like I'd always been, just show up and smile a lot, you know, "performing."