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Sunday, March 31, 2013

I Don't Need a Muse, I Have Demons

I always get a kick out of writers who talk about their muse.  I learned a long time ago some ethereal creature whispering in my ear wasn't going to get anything written.  Nothing good anyways. 

I'm sure if I wrote about butterflies, unicorns and bisexual sparkling vampires a muse might come in handy.  It's not like I could write something like that.  Nope.  I would need a writing fairy to come around and do it for me. 

Instead, I have demons. 

Demons are far better for writing than pseudo-angelic spirits for a number of reasons.

1.  Demons would rather tell ugly truth than a happy lie. 

This brings me to the story of a little boy with a paper route.  I had one, too, at the same time.  His name was Johnny Gosch and he lived in West Des Moines, Iowa.  Around that time, I remember clearly, I had terrible anxiety problems as I delivered my papers.  I would almost run from house-to-house.  I made frequent calls on my customers, for any trivial matter I could think of, like paying monthly or yearly.  Any reason I could think of to be seen and noticed.   I developed terrible stomach pains when I got home from school and on some days I couldn't deliver my papers it was so bad. 

And then suddenly, I felt better and the anxiety was gone. 

Johnny Gosch was never found.  I have always felt some connection to him.  He was the same age as me and when you look at pictures of him, he could have been my brother.  Seriously, we look almost alike.  So the question becomes, did I have a Guardian Angel watching over me or was there some hidden sense at play?  Did I feel the eyes of a predator upon me?  Either way, I'm alive and I think about Johnny sometimes. 

2.  Demons know there is a dark side of attraction, love, sexuality and titilation. 

The first time a woman showed me her breasts was when I was in sixth grade.  It was a teacher.  She was young and somewhat attractive.  I remember she was wearing a magenta button-up blouse.  She kept bending over in front of me, letting it droop, so I could see her small, perky breasts.  She wasn't wearing a bra.  It was in class and nobody else noticed much.  But after the fourth time she bent over, her eyes quickly looked up at me, and she winked and smiled.  I was busted and I knew it.  Keep in mind, this was back in 1982, when this sort of things simply did not happen to a Sixth-grader. 

She called on me in class and told me to stay because she wanted to talk to me.  The rest of the class left and wondered what I did to get into trouble.  When they were gone, she walked up to me casually and smiled.

"Did you like what you saw?"

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to--"

"You were watching me, Ted.  I saw you.  All four times, too."  I was busted and had no idea what to say.  "But did you like what you saw?"

"Yes."  I thought she might let me go if I flattered her.  Besides, the jig was up and I was caught peeking.

"Good, I'm glad.  Maybe some day I'll let you see again.  This will be our little secret."

And it was.  Nothing ever happened after that.   One day I tried to talk to her after school.  I had seen some romantic movie that week and had some lines I wanted to try.  The hormones were really kicking in about that time.  Instead of me working my mojo, she brushed me off and told me she didn't have time to talk to me that day.  No smile, no nothing.  She didn't even look at me.

I went home depressed and for some reason I didn't understand at the time, I felt terrible.  I felt dirty and less than normal.


3.  Demons know desires are the pathways to hell. 

On my paper route there was an apartment building with four apartments.  Each was rented by somebody either hard on their luck or mentally challenged.  They gave me beer because they thought it was funny to watch an 11 year-old drink.  And then they learned I would pay them a couple extra bucks to pick me up a 6-pack.  Then it became a bottle.  I promise, I was the only Sixth-grader with a steady supply of booze.   I would drink beer while doing my paper route.  One time I drank too much and came back home a bit drunk.  I had to invent a headache and go upstairs to sleep it off.  Good times.

4.  Demons know the darkness that lives in the human heart.

Growing up, we had neighbors who were swingers.  At the time, I didn't know what that meant, but I knew they weren't stable people.  Sure, their kids were my friends and we played together, but every few months the rules would change.  One day everything was fine, the next there was so much tension in the house you felt it all around you.  People would speak in hushed whispers and nobody would talk about much.  And then suddenly they were members of a new church.  They went through a whole list of various religions.  And since it was rural Midwest, that meant different flavors of Christianity.  Sometimes my friends could come out and play, sometimes their elders were there and they couldn't.  Sometimes their parents were fighting, sometimes some really strange people were at their house.

A few years ago I saw their parents for the first time in 20 years.  The dad was so obviously gay I couldn't believe I never saw it before.  He swished when he walked, talked with a lisp and shook hands like a woman. The mom's eyes were wide open like she was on some sort of heavy drug and she walked slowly through the restaurant.  I could only imagine the emotional and spiritual meat grinder that house had to have been.  

5.  Everything dies.  Demons know this is the golden rule of life. 

When I was a kid, a man on my paper route looked just like Santa Clause.  But he was a bitter, old retired man who would stop me on my route as I gave him the newspaper just to tell me how badly he wanted to die.  I remember when I was nine years old and he told me that every night he begged God to let him die.  And then he cried. 

I saw the man's name in the obituary column of the newspaper almost 12 years later.  I always wondered if he spent the rest of his days in the same mental state or if he realized the inevitable and simply accepted that it would happen.  Either way, I could never look at Santa again and not think of this broken old man sobbing on his front porch about wanting to die while I scrambled for some nugget of wisdom to tell him. 

Demons make better writers.  They always have.  Mine are laying it on thick tonight so I'm going to go work on some things.  I had a muse come around earlier but one of the demons waved his genitals at her and another made lewd comments about her body.  She escaped just as another grabbed at her long, curly hair.  It serves her right.  There is no room for muses here, only demons. 


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