The following story is a complete and fantastical work of fiction and any parts resembling any part of our actual reality, are unintended, uninspired, and an act of random chance. I am utilizing the following words to paint, an entertaining story, and I have named the protagonist Ben, because of the mystery of my own super ego. Although the Ben in the following story is wise and eloquent in speech, I must reiterate the following message to the fictional character, Dolce, because it is essential for understanding the underlying message of this novella. I shall now embark towards complete and utter fiction as I speak, poetically, to Dolce, “You should never have taken Faith away from Ben, and please forgive this fictional character, also named ‘Ben-ha-meen’ . . . for he made certain you would never see your own true love, as he misguidedly, practiced the worldly notion of ‘an eye for an eye.’ Or rather, ‘A love, for a Love.’ Hopefully, our protagonist can muster the strength to kill the fleshly man, even if he has to lob a mountain on him.
i. Arise Oh Sleeper, Arise
“Yes!” I scream at Dolce as he walks away. The Illinois air is crisp with
dew. Oh, yeah, back there, in that memory, it is the year of our Lord,
two thousand-and-seventeen, and I am without a doubt
no longer stuck in a desert, yet stuck in a dream. Or struck, as it may seem.
By the fire of God. Metaphorical in spirit, and literal in sky, as bolts of electricity fly.
Perhaps Dolce was right, perhaps the most apt word to tattoo on my skin
was the cruelly spat out, and all caps, and bold, letters of the word, “stupid”
and furthermore, perhaps the most apt location for said tattoo was right
on the skin of my forehead, a few centimeters or millimeters or some
measurement of life stretched over the bone of my skull. He did indeed say
it right outside of Dukes, and, ‘the Duke abides’, however, before there was
a Duke, let alone, a bougee establishment named after said, chill gentleman,
or ‘mens’, there was indeed the Dood. Abiding by the zen of a future generation
yet to be fully conceived outside of the direction of the Cohen brothers.
And, I, said generations, unwilling captain. But like the old story goes,
“The Dood abides.” And I turn away from the loaner Lexus, gifted by
Satan’s own kin, too seduce, a very wealthy, very lost and very sedated,
owner of a mobile media art studio resting on six wheels, and wielding
thirty-nine feet of a soon to be Holy House. Or is that Holey?
So I walk away from Dolce, abiding chiller than the Dood, and bougee-ier
than the Duke and I am standing inside my Birkenstocks, on top of a piece of land,
a floating vintage downtown, preserved by the nostalgia of history, in a Northern Illinois
paradise called Crystal Lake. A utopia of people Godly and pure. Of woman sweet
and gorgeous. Racism washed away by the spirit of the Fox river, which in that year was almost a
literal metaphor of the Holy Spirits presence. Twenty inches and counting by
the second time I stood on the threshold of Dukes, just abiding. Dolce sits
inside a two thousand and sixteen Lexus channeling the better portion of a
whiskey bottle sermon through his noise-o, and subsequently his gullet, throat, belly,
and blood stream. Stella is in the shop, her rare, hard top, drop top, undergoing
intensive surgery, seeing as how, Dolce, had combined Trazadone, Aderal,
Chlorazam, whiskey, the devil, a sick mind, and sleep deprivation; apparently the
end result was running that SC 430, that sweet baby Stella, into and over a medium.
Or was it over and under a bridge? Or perhaps the side of the road?
I always told Dolce the problem and the solution with him was that he was born a tall tale.
Of course I knew he was actual kin with
Kerouac, blood even, as in, his papa played with the Kerouac brood, as family and friend,
however i suspect you could, trace his lineage to the one and only
Paul Bunyan. Too honest? Well, this is my book and, I risked life eternal and temporal alike,
hob-nobbing with sinners and demons; searching for all the necessary research. Not too mention, despite,
this fortunate one’s inheritance of ten million dollars, I had received only three hundred dollars of
our agreed upon rate by check*, which but who’s calling two thousand dollars anything but a sad
sob story, when you garner the fortune, which had bestowed itself upon Dolce since
birth. Genetics, being the first inheritance to garner him gold, despite a father whose
contribution to raising a son of God, was to repeat constantly the sour joke,
“… the only thing I couldn’t ever give you was poverty.” It certainly seemed more a
truth than a joke, and his heart seemed to yearn for Dolce’s turn in the poor house.
Perhaps, said father, could have repented to his own mother, instead of encouraging
a spiteful act of signing over an empire of dough, to the grandson rather than the son.
Maybe, then he would not have had to rely on his son to finally drive a brand spanking new
Mercedes, through God’s own city, Wheaton, Illinois. A heavenly inspired, juxtaposition of God,
and brand names. Shiny cars and shiny souls. Dolce drove very quick and very fast away from
this city the second his pastor sold the churches’ elementary school, for the capital needed to
line the inside of their Lutheran synagogue with Italian marble, like a Capital building, or
at least like a building inspiring the utterance, “Capital!” “A millstone around his neck, is
undoubtedly being hewn!” Dolce would scream, fitting, his eloquence squeezed in between, expletives.
“Hewn from Italian marble, no doubt.” I, Ben, would add, much to Dolce’s approval.
Dolce the fortunate one. The fortunate grandson. Garnering literary agents, singing Dylan
protest songs as the NYPD beat his fortune into submission for at least an hour of his time on Gods’
good earth, jumping between both sides of the camera and gracing
the halls of Harvard, and the runways of Milan.
Sorry Hemingway, looks like I flipped this iceberg upside down.
Like I said, it’s my book not yours, and you soured your advice a bit,
when you selfishly soured your life a bit. After all, Dolce himself, always threatened to sour his life.
At any rate, he was always quoting Dylan saying,
“Ben-ha-Meen… to live outside the law you must be honest.” Either way both of us
lads being on the spectrum at least a bit, it is not too much of a reality
to read, speak, or live in between the lines. Still wish we could finish our joint novel,
Life in the Time of Aspergers. However, now it seems everyone had the gift of prophecy, to
say we would fail. Who could blame them? We could barely talk about one subject for more
than five minutes at a time, let alone, dictate and inscribe our own scroll, on our own road.
“Be the Plato to my Socrates, Ben.” Dolce would insist. In my silence, I was proud and happy,
and eager to lead the next generation of Philosophy channeled through the filter of a
Mexican Jewish Christian mind. The source coming from an Irish, French, German Lutheran
turned Kierkegaard mind. Whom undoubtably is texting horrific prophecies of death and
insults to a father embittered with jealously, from a son consumed with hate. “Nazi!” I can almost
hear Dolce scream, and if it were not for the shakes and trembles within my own bones, I might
be nostalgic for the days we were bible bumping skirts behind a church, in a parking lot, hovering
inside a Fleetwood Rv called MAC. Now I weep, as I realize, I love the kid. And he loves me.
We just also hate one another too. I never did figure out why he hated me. Perhaps it was
the fits of paranoia, which seemed to consume his mind from time-to-time concerning everyone in
his life. The pastoral staff and elders seemed convinced it was demons. NYC doctors seemed
convinced it was a result of an psychological illness. After my time in the cave of his insanity,
I decided it was both. I still remember the first time I saw the demon stare at me through his eyes,
and then I knew something was askew. As Dolce screamed, “I’ll rip out your mother-fucking, cunt, throat!”
His parents seemed to have made up their minds, and honestly, there is little defense in that area, from Dolce. For Dolce tortured them with text messages, voice mails, and emails full of hate darker than tar.
Thicker than tar. Older than tar. Spread like jelly on the bread of his parents, bodies.
He would spread it over their spirits, and for feathers, he used knives. Once, I was all that stood between his hands and his mom’s throat.
I hated him because eventually, he stole Faith from me. There is a racist term for what he did which I shall not utter. That being said, my love language is gifts, and worse than calling me a spick that fateful night, and worse than all the verbal abuse, and being his verbal whipping post, and embarrassmenthe enjoyed spilling out of his heart and onto my countenance; was to gift me Faith, and then to eventually take the gift back. Faith, my love, my Martin acoustic ‘git-fiddle’. I shouldn’t have let him, but Pastor Killer, convinced me, or perhaps, manipulated me, into giving it back as a token to prove I was not a con artist. When things went sour Dolce went on a hate, rage campaign, listing my transgressions, true and false, in an attempt to smear my credibility. Yes I fell into temptation that Saturday previous, eagerly escorting Dolce to the strip club which promised full nudity. No, I did not steal from his sacred Monkey, money bank. A con artist. Ha. Dolce was the con artist, from day one. I was his tool, to win back the love of his life, my cousin Maria. The rest of the family had cut ties with him due to the cruelbehavior he resorted to embodying constantly, and especially with her, and indefinitely after a few dozen pints of whiskey. Harry never did though. Or not yet at, least. He treated him like a son, and I always felt a bit by the wayside, because eighty percent of the time I shared with my ex-mobster, street wise friend, who I once considered an uncle, was because I was with Dolce, and a few times I got the boot, as they bonded over what ever they bonded over. Harry and Dolce, splitting a few pints of ‘God’s fire’, an ironic moniker assigned to that brand of whisky featuring a cartoon devil on its’ label. Dolce admittedly hated being Irish so much, he had to be a self fulfilling prophecy. So drunk on whiskey, he could float, inside liquid camouflage,
forever. Even if he ever does show up at that Al-Annon meeting.
I still hear him, singing with his nasal cavity to prove he was born to sing like the Irish. I sing like that too. But, thats because my daddy sang Dylan to me in the womb. I was finally ready to leave the ship, parked behind The Awakening Church, next to a Lexus and his ma’s borrowed Subaru. So, of course he was unreasonably upset, and that night, his demons spoke through in rage and chaotic thunder, as two of the elders mediated my release from his control. My escape from the cult of Dolce. And metaphorically fitting, a storm of great magnitude raged outside, as he unleashed furry and chaos on my soul. All of which I rejected immediately in Jesus’ name. By the time his demons began tripping over their own clumsy words he left screaming, “Fuck you Ben!”
throwing false apologies to the elders for his verbal iniquities. Speeding off in the Woodfield Lexus dealerships’ loaner car; the Maroon, two thousand and sixteen Lexus he had almost wrecked, next to a corn field, while drops of the spirit fell, blackening the dark road with more shadows.
When the elders and I stepped out of Killer’s main house, the sun was peeking through the trees, and surrounded by the most magnificent shade of sky blue, too ever have left the tip, of the Great Painters’ brush. Large branches the size of cars were thrown everywhere. This was all the evidence I needed to assume that Dolce’s demons were real trouble makers. Even mentioned it to the Elders who advised me not to make too many correlations between both events.
I think they were scared to admit, they had let demons onto the acres of property which housed multiple houses, and
a multitude of christian families. The law of tzedek, was held in high regard, around this part of Illinois, and most certainly at The Awakening. My life was saved because of this biblical practice. I will always consider it a gold, gilded,
mitzvah. However, I suspect, they will continue to toy with Dolce’s demons, seeing as how Pastor Killer, is inviting him to relocate his 39 ft Fleetwood, from the church parking lot to the eight shared acres of the elders and church families property. I wonder if blinders are bring fastened every time Dolce drops his thousands inside the coffers pit. Or bag. Or tithe box. Or the handy electronic, tithe pay station in the lobby. I washed my hands of any innocent blood, by letting Mr. Killer know, that Dolce’s disposition can convert to the violent at, “…the drop of a pin.” It should also be noted that more than a dozen children on this modern day Christian commune, are free to roam about, and would most certainly stick near Dolce’s RV, because his puppy was a pied piper of sorts, with the young ‘uns. I could see Killer’s eyes glazed over and I naturally assume that the most pressing issue, was catering to a new source of revenue. I did not want this to be so, however, God or my conscience, kept whispering, “Meek Kings are seduced by even the tinkle of a Babylonian prophets’, coin purse.” Babylonian and anti-divine, were Dolces’ prophecies. The magnitude of his Demons, I have witnessed, and before leaving that church body, I left the writing on the wall. Herein is our chance, via story to divulge from the past, enough evidence, to discern truth.
I see the folder containing Bruisers’ medical file and emotional support animal papers; thinking of this miniature schnauzer, transcends the current moment, and my memory recalls that lil’ pups sweet head asleep behind Dolce, as Dolce swings MAC through the streets. Six wheels rollin’. Soon we are parked and Dolce rasps into a microphone. An electronic lick repeats, bouncing around the RV slash recording studio as I nod my head and swirl a pen around the negative space of the spiral notebook I entitled, The Intergalactic Notebook of Guidance, Worry Not. The notebook rests on my thigh. I lost my track of thought because Dolce won’t stop speaking directly to me, “How’s the writing?” “Delusions and paranoid allusions.” I respond. Dolce pays no mind to my words as he prepares me for the Fourth of July gathering at Pastor Killer’s house. It will soon be the first time we ever head over to this house, “The whole point of going to this picnic is not too join a cult. Don’t drink the koolaid, Ben.” He gnaws his e-cig. Electric smoke spills through his nostrils. Dolce had wandered into The Awakening Church as I had been traveling from Tempe, Arizona with a therapist, on a mission to save Dolce, Flying from Tempe to Denver to Chicago. He had visited again after sending the therapist home crying, and determined not to complete here masters in the field of psychology. Dolce had broken her and I picked up the pieces and saw her off before heading to the south suburbs of Chicago. I was visiting family as the
therapist was flying home to hers. Visions of Dolce showing up at Orland Square, as I stood clad in HM black, head to toe with bright red skull flake, vans, amongst nails of wind. His polo was dark and fitted. His hair short like a Dolce and Gabana photograph. He was very polite to my sister and all grins, “Hope, I’m not taking him away too soon.” I hug my sister. Dolce high fives me and laughs, “Wanna drive?” He tosses me the keys and slugs a pull of whiskey from a bottle clothed in a brown paper bag. Stella shines bright and red as we shoot North through the heart of Chicago. Fireworks crash into the sky around all sides of the road. Us poor souls feeling the instant resonance of bangs of bass and treble as the music cycles from The Man in Me to dirty, funky, deep house music. Chicago style. They pull through Humbolt and park somewhere. I walk the dog as Dolce and a man talk inside the Lexus. I walk Bruiser around the parking lot, passing a gang of cops leaving Dunkin Donuts, with coffees and bags. I nod and smile. They smile. I walk towards the two who are now outside of Stella as the man rubs his hands and holds them on Dolce’s hurt shoulder, as if he is a modern day medicine man.
Stella gleams as the Chicago night gleams in the way distant stars are rumored to shine. Now light bounces off of her and she is parked behind the Fleetwood. Behind The Awakening. Dolce had shown up here and received a spiritual awakening. The worship had moved him. Convinced him of his need for love. Dolce was fond of this congregation and that is why both of us were enroute to a picnic sponsored by their pastor and the core church families. If only Dolce had received the love and the notion to not seek an ‘eye for an eye’ before cutting the therapists’ ego apart. I still see her running down the dock of North Beach. Me chasing her, and apologizing to Dolce about abandoning my duty as his over glorified indentured servant. It was then, that his paranoia concerning his bank accounts grew with mild comments about how he should make certain that expletive, wasn’t expletive, stealing money from his accounts. I was never too certain how he had expected the therapist to be doing so. It was not until rejoining Dolce that I had started writing in the darkness of nighttime at midnight as lighting and thunder placate the Illinois sky into submission. Drips of water drumming the sides and roof of Mac. I wrote itineraries, honey-do lists, notes, novels, doodles, and now I read the itinerary which plainly states, “Picnic. Pastor Killer’” Underneath I had penned concerning Cowboy Socratis and I, “He is crazy right? Or am I crazy? I know we are all a little crazy. How crazy are we? Crazy, crazy.”
We pull up Chestnut Tree street, and I see stargazer lilies in full bloom in front of the main house. “Park on the side of the house.” Grant lights a pipe and passes it to me, “We shall wear this green like camouflage, Ben. Take the bruiser out of the car. Put on his leash, Ben."