IT WAS THE SUMMER OF THE WEIRD
"What is a lost soul? It is
one that has turned from its
true path and is groping in
the darkness of remembered way"
of my life bartending an unofficial War of the Worlds, of my life without Orson Welles on the radio detailing the invasion, one without proper aliens, on the loose from some intergalactic meltdown of reason and discipline way beyond where we are now, pounding the cocktails of doom, the Black Deaths, Black Marias, Black Fridays and Mondays and all the other days of the dead week; of dancing with the dressed for the end of time, for spirits walking the earth, shorn of their clinging shrouds, their amulets, tokens, coins for the ferry men for crossing worlds, in time and out, for all the uninhabited bodies, souls lost in permanent abandon roaming the empyrean of here and nowhere, searching for the substance, for what can fill what can never be filled; of the chemically inclined, brain dead, psychotic, over the edge of misperception, wailing to some kind of sad internal music of rusting spheres that was grinding their universe into granular detritus, shards of unreason that metamorphosed into living creatures that stood on their toes and screamed back into their faces for all they were worth; was the summer of lame walkers, day trippers on a magic carpet ride to hell and back and everywhere in between, luggage stamped with all the exotic toe tags of places removed from or not yet noted on maps, passports a surrealist collage of improbable places they'd never be allowed back into due to irregularities in their papers that specified ports of origin and destinations no one was familiar with, a walking terrorist alert waiting to happen, though these untoward travelers were unaffiliated to any organization other than an unofficial one named after the imagined planet they thought they came from and hankered to return to; was the time of jiveassed stoners and rappers syncopating some kind of bass concussive beat that had rattled loose all the marginal screws in their barely held together body parts, juggled all the loose connections, fried synapses, that kept them moving more out of inertia than any kind of internal motivation, to destinations unknown where they would be well received by their partners in enterprises best left to the imagination, their eyes jiggling about in a vitreous humoresque mess of discolored solutions to problems only guessed at, solids as eyeballs slipping free from their assigned places, steely as marbles, unseeing as a statue's fixed gaze; the summer of seeing what should not be seen, of wild men tripping in from ozone layers depleting faster than a well-lit fuse electro-gliding in a blue funk haze, roller blading onto parquet floors expecting service and respect, their glow in the dark sunglasses flickering in a neon lighted frenzy of unnatural coloring: not at all mellow yellows, but nuclear radiant reds and burnt orange flame colored so hot you could feel the exuding heat, you could feel their minds frying on an open griddle plate, hissing along the edges of the accelerant, popping in the center of sun spotted eggs over easy in the night of reflected dreams, cheshire cat smiles out of the nowhere man smirks of dead men on missions to intercept and to ignite with terror and awe, awe of the degraded life, the dispossessed embodied and inflamed led to the source of sorrow and dreams, throats craving the next poisonous draught, the one that takes you all the way there, wherever there is, and the only thing certain is that there is a place no man should every be unless they are card carrying plebes from planet weird, where the hopheads, where the methfreaks are engendered, shot out of orbit into the fastest lane possible, angel dusted, magic mushroomed, acid based and dosed ,literally, out of their minds, on some mission impossible to obtain some new stimulant and failing that, accepting a depressive, something, that would slow the torquing out of orbit, their teeth so tightly clenched the grinding is a cement mixture machine spinning off its rotating axis, dumping its load on whatever bar top, whatever surface they are leaning on when the overload occurs, when these born losers and self-made men became freaks of nature electro-shocked out of their gourds, blue sparks still flashing in the place where their eyes should be, involuntary muscles twitching so out of control they seem more spastic than sentient: what could they be seeing and who would want to know? One thing for sure it wasn't a place where men were standing around in business suits or ladies standing around in, waiting to be places in the next short subject, waiting for the next employment opportunity as well-dressed woman and man out on the town, instead they have become extras in a psychedelic Fellini freakout, all the warped dimensions of humanity truly exposed in dreams of a scene from a hour of the wolf marriage, the cries and the whispers, the good life of the certifiably insane that is allowed to go on as long as they have access to ATM machines, as long as their PIN numbers are accessible in code from the under-the-skin implants their masters use to keep track of them once they have left the mother ship and begin roaming the streets of never-never land, adhering to the prime directive of doing your worst, no matter how strange, no matter how deviant, no matter how twisted and bent as the rods and the staffs they carry for warding off the wild dogs, the leashed and the unleashed that recognize their alien scent, their vital DNA codes as not being from those currently listed as truly human, their licenses forged by professionals stating DOB, home addresses, pictures appropriately placed, not the ones taken to 24 hour developing, those negatives that always remain the way they were submitted, as total abstracts, negatives that cannot be salvaged or recreated into anything transferrable to paper, but likenesses all the same, all information provided as part of the elaborate fiction that-"we are alone" meaning we are the dominant, the major life form, the dominate species among species, disavowing all else, that which may come from beyond on a dream of summer nights, wild strawberries ripe for the picking on the invisible vines they are seeing in the bar, lights so low the only thing visible is what shines from behind their eyes, the strange glow or what is feral/lupine in whatever community that has released them here to inflict, endanger and to enjoin, their acquired who-knows-how bucks on the bar in quantities that seem to suggest unlimited resources, unimaginable fortitude to withstand the hammer of alcohol even daring to look closer than you find prudent suggests something howling on a dark plain of frozen black ice so alone and plaintive, no saudade, no requiem could describe the starkness of the desolation contained inside; you try to describe how it is but words are inconsistent, inadequate, say it is something like working inside an album of the photographic works of Diane Arbus, all the deformed and the demented let loose from the hidden asylums of the mind or all the locked away in wards of bedlam present/past screaming, singing as the sirens will, as the banshees will when released to do their deeds, their songs of from-the-depths of the most rotten, intermarried, gene pools possible and still be something like life as we know it, a noise unlike any other except a threnody for the victims of Hiroshima, a stinging of metal of grinding wheels, of dentists drills in porcelain molds, touching the unsheathed nerves on the outer limits of pain, this is where you have been dwelling, where I am right now on a summer night, onlookers try to discern the human freak show for themselves but only see the usual dull faces pasted on cardboard familiars, croaking into their beers their usual unintelligible croaking noises of mayhem and loss, these onlookers miss the antics, the wild cackling of the truly estranged from life ordering from another time zone, another dimension of place and being, coins from a another time echoing in a wind tunnel, the vacuum chamber's lost percussive sting and a distinctive, like-no-other-sound; once heard, once seen, there is no turning back, this is the world that has been created, the magician's result and no one else can see, no else can have it.
G. Conroy is a pen name of an editor, poet, and short story writer who spent many a year working in Jukebox Hell as a bartender/waiter/punching-bag, both literally and figuratively.