Okay, so this is my first post . . . And you guys can lambaste me or whatever for this, but I've actually been dicking around with--egads--memoir type stuff. Below is the intro passage to an essay I've just finished. I was wondering what you knuckleheads might have to say about it. I'm pretty sure I've got a whole book of these type babies in me, but I don't know if I'd be wasting my time (and, more importantly, yours). Just curious to see what you all think. Feed back appreciated. All comers invited, no holds barred! If anyone wants to see the entire thing, let me know and I'll be glad to oblige.
Hope all's well in everyone's neck of the woods . . . Spect.
How to Start a Fire
On the evening of October 31st, 2001, I stood before the dilapidated Queen Anne Victorian where a costume party from which I had been banned was shortly to begin, splattering kerosene over the boxwood hedge that lined its yard. I had nearly a quart of bourbon in my bloated gut, and more back at the house, just a block away. I had a Gerber jack knife clipped inside my left hip pocket, a broken heart, a head full of fuck-yous, and this much shy of nothing left to lose.
In short, I was a lonely man, a shattered man, angry as a Republican and confused as a rat. Over the last two months I had undergone a series of operations for a brutal case of kidney stones, the final one of which — while I was still conscious, no less — entailed cramming a tiny metal claw up my penis to seek-and-destroy the rotten stint floating somewhere in the chaos between my bladder and my kidney. For almost 60 days, whacked out on so much Darvocet, Percocet, Percodine, and Delaudin that my doctor refused to give me more of the stuff for fear that she would kill me, I ate nothing but root beer floats made from A&W and Häagen-Dazs. Prior to this, for nearly a year, I had functioned like one of H.G. Welles’ troglodyte morlocks, doing the Thorazine shuffle to and fro between my ramshackle apartment in the old town Duck Pond of this swampy Floridian town and the tenebrous cubicle in which I spent eight hours a day describing Windows XP. Meantime, my wife — now my ex-wife — after drunkenly carousing the night away with the pack of jerks she absurdly referred to as her “colleagues” — rose each afternoon to write stories featuring such lovely sentences as, “I am being stalked by two men: one carries a brick, the other a wrench named Pierre.”
So there I stood, a 240 pound drunk with more than three-quarters of his body covered in tattoos, garbed in a pair of thrift-store flip-flops, raggedy, cut-off jeans and a wife beater tee shirt stained with macaroni-and-cheese, pecan pie, barbeque sauce, and the grease from a recent bucket of deep-fried chicken, my face still smeared with the make up I had donned in preparation for a night of festivities I was no longer welcome to attend. Regardless of the early hour, merely imminent dusk, a phalanx of costumed kiddies had already taken to the streets. As if from hidden pods, a duo had manifested across the way, a clutch down the block, a gaggle more on the porch three homes down — super heroes, clowns, bunny rabbits, and angels, the whole prancing, heartwarming bit. And yet despite what must have been my own blasphemous prominence — was I not, after all, here in this quaint little neighborhood with its Greek Revival mansions and Tidewater homes, its ancient oaks festooned with oozing tassels of Spanish moss, its verdant, manicured gardens replete with magnolias, dogwoods, rhododendrons, and camellias — was I not to the bliss of this antebellum paradise what the blister is to a pretty foot, the scum is to a crystal pool, the maggot to a rose? — no, despite my evident peculiarity, not a single one of these sprites or their grown-up chaperones had seemed to care about me, much less to see me. How that was possible I will never know. It must have been that, obscene as I was, I had somehow managed to blend in for the day, just another ghoul raised from the crypt, an overzealous reveler making final preparations to his terrifying funhouse before the onslaught of trick-or-treaters commenced.
Whatever the case, the fact remains that once I had emptied my red two-gallon can of its precious kerosene, I held a lighter to the glistening leaves and flicked it. Immediately a flame appeared, and then again, with a great swelling rush, the entire hedge and sidewalk before it erupted into a wall of dancing flames. Fire, as Canetti so keenly observed, is the same wherever it breaks out. It is as sudden as it is contagious and insatiable, and yet its appearance, though cause for alarm, is never a surprise. But most of all, fire is possessed of an ancient splendor to which all people find themselves compulsively attracted. There they were, now, tongue after tongue of relentless flames, in all the colors of the rainbow, the colors of the sun from dawn to dusk, instantaneously consuming everything they touched, uniting in a moment what had before been separate, branches and leaves and trunks. I had seen many fires in my life, but none that I had ever started were of this magnitude. What I had besmirched with kerosene was the dullest of hedges. What emerged from that monotony, like some exquisite moth from its muddy chrysalis, was a kaleidoscopic salamander, living, breathing, pulsing, writhing as only fire can. Until the instant before its appearance, I do not believe I had known what to expect. Now that it was upon me, however, I understood at once that it could never have been otherwise. It was as though I had been under a spell, cast not by the fire but by the fire that longed to be.
My monster brought to life, it dawned on me that however much I wanted to admire it, to do so would be the act of a man more foolish than even I had become. I picked up my can, therefore, and started for home. “That’s right,” I thought, “I just lit your fucking yard on fire. Now what are you going to do?”
Amazingly, not a single head had turned, not a single voice was raised. It was as if I had been operating from within some crazy invisible cloak. I wondered whether my drunkenness had anything to do with it. Was what I perceived what others perceived, as well? Had I truly done what it appeared I had done? The terrible dreamlike quality to each successive moment was almost more than I could bear. The absence of guilt, the absence of fear. The purity of satisfaction, the sense of inviolate power. It was simultaneously lovely and horrific, all too much and all too little. Once again I took stock, and once again I saw what I had seen: innocence on the rampage, innocence immersed in its own naïveté. That was all. And then I had reached my house, and then the sirens began, two at first, then three, then four, all of them rushing toward those great black plumes of smoke spiraling into the deepening sky.
Continued . . .