September 4

Yeah, I think so too. Nature’s shifting towards fall, and it’s fall for me too, inside and out. My journal pages are turning yellow, and the leaves have already fallen off the trees around here. Didn’t I tell you once about a handyman, right when I got here? I was just asking around in Pickton about him; all anyone would say was, he got fired, and then they’d all change the subject. Yesterday I spotted him on the road while I was biking off to another town, I flagged him down, and he told me his story, which…moved me isn’t even the word — I’m sure you’ll understand when I tell you. Actually…what’s the point? You don’t need to hear this, it’s stressing me out enough already…why should I lay it on you too? It’s just going to be one more thing for you to feel bad for me about and throw in my face… Well, what the hell! Bring it on.

He had this kind of withdrawn sadness at first when he was answering my questions, almost like he was shy; but pretty soon he opened up, like he suddenly recognized “oh, it’s us!”, and he laid it all out there, how badly he’d messed up and how screwed everything was. God, Will, I wish I could give you a transcript of what he said so you could judge him right! He confessed, I mean, he told me the story, with a kind of sweetness, like it was a fond memory, how his crush on the woman he worked for had gotten stronger and stronger every day, to the point where he didn’t know what he was doing, what he was saying, where the hell he was going… He couldn’t eat or drink or sleep, it was like he was suffocating, he did work he wasn’t supposed to, the stuff they DID ask him to do he totally forgot, it was like some kind of poltergeist was messing with him, until one day, when he knew she was in one of the bedrooms upstairs, he went up to her, or, really, was drawn up to her; when she wouldn’t listen, he got physical, he doesn’t know what came over him, he swears to God, he only ever had the most decent intentions towards her, and all he ever wanted was for them to get married and spend the rest of their lives together. After he’d been speaking for a while, he started “um”-ing and “uh”-ing, as if he still had something else to say that he couldn’t quite spit out; finally he confessed to me, again in this almost shy whisper, all the little ways she’d led him on and blurred the boundaries between them. He interrupted himself two or three times, insisting very urgently that he wasn’t saying this to make her seem like a tease [his words], that he still loved and looked up to her like always, that he’d never even think of saying that, and that he was just telling me this to show me that he wasn’t a totally off-base crazy person. And I know I sound like a broken record, Will, but… I wish I could show you this guy the way he was, standing in front of me, the way I can still see him! I wish I could find the words to make you feel how much I empathize with his story — how much I HAVE to empathize! But, I guess…you know my story, you know me, so you know all too well why I’m so drawn to fuckups and this fuckup in particular.

Reading over this, I realize I forgot to tell you the end of the story, though you can pretty much guess where this goes. She fought back; her brother ran in, who’d always hated him and had been looking for an excuse for ages to get him out of the house, because he was scared if his sister got married again his own kids would miss out on her inheritance, which right now they’ve got pretty much locked down, since she doesn’t have any kids; the brother threw him out of the house immediately and made such a public scene of it that the woman couldn’t have taken him back on, even if she’d wanted to. Now she’s got some other guy working for her whom she’s openly dating (!) which apparently she and her brother have had a huge falling-out over, because she’s super set on him and the brother “won’t have it”, etc. etc….

And just so you know, none of what I’m telling you here is “overblown”, there’s no “sugarcoating”, I mean, honestly, I’ve given you a weak, weak, watered-down version of things, what with sticking to our accepted-PC-vocabulary.

So this kind of love, this loyalty, this passion isn’t something the poets made up. It’s alive, it’s out there in all its purity among the kind of people we call uncultured and crude. We, the ‘cultured’ — more like denatured! Take this story seriously, please. I’m perfectly lucid, writing this out; you can tell from the writing, no typos here (for a change). Read it, Will, and consider, while you’re reading it, that this is the story of your friend. Mhm…that’s how it’s gone for me, that’s how it’s gonna go, and I’m not half as brave, not half as resolved as this poor fuckup I barely deserve to compare myself to.