American Idle


Video Killed The Civil Rights Dream

I was raised to believe that hard work and determination will reward me with success. Bullshit! Those days are long gone, the rules have changed. The workplace isn’t the arena for making big bucks nowadays unless you can wrestle up a sexual harassment suit from HR. Legal manipulation is the easiest path to the top today. Anything but hard work man, that shits for suckers.
Think you got what it takes to make it in music? Don’t bust your ass playing in low income gigs and performing all week long. Get yourself on a competition game show. Can you whistle happy birthday through your nose? Fuck yea baby, that’s good enough to get you on a talent challenge. Fuck the winning prize money what you want is to get noticed. Be an asshole or a bitch and they’ll come looking to sign you up for or a new show. All you need do today is be a character and sell your shitty self absorbed personality. We’ll pay for it because Barnum was wrong, there isn’t a sucker born every minute suckers multiply by the second when they watch reality TV. Just check out the prime time TV listings and choose where you fit in. A backwoods idiot, white trash toddler, a catty rich housewife or mob or rap star wife, bad girl, crazy masochist boy, Jersey Shore loser, the list goes on. Apparently our lives are so boring we’ve become desperate to peek in on the lives of losers who live in constant drama or are such assholes they command our attention.
I don’t know, maybe we just want to know that there are bigger assholes in this world than us. I must admit when I’m driving I’m often guilty of this. If the person in front of me pulls an asshole move I feel compelled to stare inside their car as I pass. Almost as if I need to see exactly what an asshole driver looks like so I can avoid looking like one myself. Or perhaps I need to be able to recognize the facial features of idiot driver o I can avoid them off the road as well.
But whatever it is the American television viewing public seems transfixed on other peoples lives whether its watching them get drunk and act stupid, have a meltdown in public, trash talk their BFF’s, or just be out of place billionaires like the ones that made their fortune making duck calls. I watched that one for five minutes and I’ve had a recurring nightmare of being chased in a swamp by living chia pet people. But that’s what the people want, so that’s what the networks give them
As for me I have more than enough stress and drama in my own life to want to see someone else go through theirs. I‘m much more comfortable with serial killers, crooked cops, and horny doctors and interns. But creative stories with actual professional actors is more costly and a lot more work so the networks are more than happy to bring you bullshit competitions and real life drama they insist are unscripted.
Sit com? Here’s an idea for a new sitcom, a stereotype of an idiot male, a stereotype of a suburban wife, a gay family member, a minority thrown in for laughs, and a precocious little kid. Put them in situations so bizarre it couldn’t happen in anyone lifetime, allow some mispronunciation of words, let the male do something stupid while the female get pissed. In the end the buffoon of a husband can do something that makes everyone go “awwwww” because for a dope its so thoughtful, and you have a sit com. Maybe not original but it works. In comedy these days its one size fits all, no room for intelligent comedies anymore, moronic is what sells.
The funny thing is all the while the same viewers are constantly complaining about how much coverage celebrities get when they fuck up. Look at Lindsay Lohan, more well know from her antics in public than any of her movies. Amanda Bynes, Kardashians, Charlie Sheen, anyone who screws up in real life gets away with all kinds of shit. Whenever they get the coverage people seem outraged that they make news. Hello!! It wouldn’t be news if people didn’t pay attention so stop paying attention.
When I was a kid the TV was called an idiot box, or boob tube because watching for hours drained us of our capacity for critical thinking or cognitive thought. Now the kids that were transfixed by the pixilated screen are the ones creating this boring and irrelevant television. The boob part of boob tube is how much boob showing they can get away with the deterioration of the programming in general is idiotic. I truly hope the up and coming generation can somehow get away from the bullshit that has become modern TV, and pay attention to what the fuck is going on in the world, because its their world. When people talk about my era, the 60’s, it consistent with drugs, and riots, war, and dissonance. What’s forgotten is the cosmic language we all spoke back then, the language of hope. It wasn’t only King who has a dream, we all did, and if anything I seriously hope the young generation watches the stories surrounding the 50th anniversary of the single most important moment in civil rights history and learn…..PEACE

Prisoner Of Love

During the insidious adventures of JT he learns some hard truths about himself

Prisoner Of Love

That inevitable moment arrived, and we both knew it was coming. Time for JT to leave and move on to the next adventure. This time I wasn’t really sure if I wanted new a new adventure. More unsettling was I wasn’t sure how I felt about Jo. Could it be love? Maybe. Not the traditional type of love but a strange and alluring love that grabs hold while your not paying attention. A love who‘s destiny it was to fail. One that started as a time bomb of sexual tensions that made good on its promise to fulfill both our intense needs and then must fizzle out. That was all it was supposed to be, two lovers sharing the comfort of each other for just a short time. But the sexual volcano erupted and the lava it released was strong and unfamiliar. Is it emotional feelings? Not good! Not good at all!
We agreed from the start that before her boyfriend got back home we would go our separate ways and we were okay with that. No attachments, no bullshit, not strings. At the time it seemed like a good idea but I never considered that emotions might figure into the equation. I mean sex without commitment should be a young mans dream. And the sex was good, god damn was it good. Reckless abandon. She put the music on real loud to drown out our very loud sexually motivated squeals and promises . I can’t even remember half the shit I said but the half I do remember all involved me pleading gods name louder than I ever did before. So often and so loud you woulda thought I was a devout follower.
The fact that no strings were attached was what made it so intriguing. It wasn’t supposed to happen but I was pretty sure I did love Jo. I reasoned I was just not in love with her. At least I didn’t think I was. She understood me the way Tina had, we intertwined emotionally the way Carrie and I had, yet I knew from the start she was unattainable. Maybe that was it, maybe just wanting something I know I can’t have is whats driving these feelings?! One thing I was certain of is Josie and I were really good together, even our conversations were deep. But it was time to discard the emotions and say good by. Who knew it would be so difficult. We laid naked in bed in a satiated silence after what was presumably our final high energy fling. Anyway we went at it as if it were our last time either of us would ever make love again. So much determination and passion we were motionless for over an hour before she spoke.
“JT Sweetie, I sweer I ain’t never gonna firget you baby. But y’all know Jake is coming back tomorrah and you bess be long gone for then.” She placed her head on my chest using her soft curls as a pillow. She tenderly reached around my shoulder to lightly scratch the back of my neck. “Why does it have to end Jo? Why can’t you come up north with me?” She moved her hand to my lips, “Shush now Justin, y’all know that caint happen. Things is way differnt down here baby. Things is expected of a gurl down here. My Mama won’t never furgive me an my Papa, well Papa ain‘t one to anger up none.…Ya don’t wanna be puttin no bee in yer bonnet with Papa, Honey J. I juss caint do that, my future got be with Jake. Thats the way its spose to go. I got to think about the future.” I placed my arms around her and planted her head firmly between my neck and chin to caress her with my cheek. “It doesn’t have to go like that. You are in charge of your future. You make your choices. There ain’t no reason you can’t leave here. Hell baby child even if its not with me why get married to someone you don’t love? Trust me, that shit don’t end well at all, I been there and it sucks.” I could feel a tear on her cheek. She sat up, “JT, that’s not how life is here in Conway South Carolina. I gotta answer to Jesus. I know y’all don unerstand that but it means a lot here Baby Boy. A girls folks expeck her to marry the man they wants fur her to marry, have chillen and raise them to fear the lord. Womens don’t get to do no choosin’ round here. A girls past can foller her around an make her life horrible if ya goes against thangs. My past is determining my future, and my past is with Jake. So now my future got to be that way too, Sugarpie. Don’t matter none what I wants.” I looked at her incredulously. “That’s not true Jo it matters very much what you want. Its your life pretty girl. Your past only determines who you were. Its what lead you to your present but it sure ain‘t who you are now. You can’t live in the past Babydoll that’s over. Your past is gone, you own your future.” I gently kissed her on the temple. “Listen to your heart Jo, what’s your heart saying? The heart knows because the heart lives in the present and begs you for a future. A future that you want, not what god or Jesus or your mom and dad want, but what Josie wants! You’re not defined by your past and you can rewrite your future Sweet Thing. Listen to your heart. I think I hear it whispering my name.” She smiled a half smile that told a hundred stories. The story of the past two weeks, the story of a girl and a boy sharing the most perfect moment in time. It hinted at what could be while at the same time mercilessly reminded her of her fate. It told of deep stories of sadness and defeat, told by a lonely girl who believes she has no control over her own life. Stories of things gone by and things to come, but not the story of the now, the right here. No stories of a happy ever after with me or of endless possibilities. A smile that is fighting the sadness underneath, a profound smile with eyes that confirmed the feeling of hopelessness. “Weeze all defined by our pasts JT, ain’t none of us can rewrite the future no matter how much we want to. The heart only lives in the present because its afraid of breaking. Like mine is this here right this second. I dint never spect this to be so hard baby. I aint even sure how it happened, but we had us two weeks of bliss and I ain‘t sorry bout a second of it. But it got an endin sugar, I‘m sorry but as much as it hurts me this song is ending. Every song ends. I sure done wannit to stop neither but that’s my life honeypie. Things happen for a reason an we juss gotta figger out what the reason fur us was.”
We embraced deep in thought for a few minutes. This feeling was so foreign to me. Fuck man, am I starting to grow up? I’m not sure why but I still wasn’t ready to let this all just slip away, “Jo baby listen” I sat up and took her hands in mine. We stared into each others soul with piercing compassion. Our eyes embraced. “The past doesn’t matter Josie Rae. You done things in the past and I done things in the past but that’s history, not destiny. Maybe its our destiny to look beyond our pasts and think about a future. I never really thought that things happen for a reason, like fate or anything. I always believed everything was random and just happened. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe shits not just random. All the things that happened to me were so we could meet. That’s why I took a trip with people I knew I had no business being with. That’s why I got busted and stuck in jail. To meet you. I learned a lot about myself doing my time in prison. Maybe I was in prison to straighten my head and to get ready for you and me.” Now her smile was thoughtful, she was fully aware she was in complete control of everything. One of the things I love about her. (did I say love?) “Sweetie, you wasn’t in no prison. You was in jail Baby Boy. You spent time incarcerated in a southern jail, and maybe you sure enough did do some growin there, but it was just a jail, not a prison. People like you an me we carry our prisons on our backs. It sure nuff don’t seem right but thets how it is fur our kind. We dream but we ain’t never in control of our dreams, not really. Way I figger it weeze born wit the prison on our backs, you an me. We likely carry’em tar graves. And we been out of prison for four glorious week, maybe the best four weeks of my life. Leastwise the happiest. That’s what I got hon, an that’s gun be my most precious memory. I sure hope its yers too, cuz it shore was like heaven. For four weeks Justin you let me out of prison and I will always be thankful for that. But I got to take my prison back tomorrow, and I recon youse gonna fine yersff a prison you can live with too. Leastwise I recon you will. Lets juss firget all bout this now an just be happy with each other one last time. Lets make love once more afore you leave.”
I had no argument left, she was right. I did carry a prison on my back, I always had. Besides, over time she would get tired or bored of me, or worse, something bad would happen to her. No one stays with JT. Not for long anyway. That was my prison, a life that’s a plague of death and abandonment. Like I always seem to do I get hung up on the people that leave my life, Joe, James, Ken, Bill, June, an even my mom. I put them aside and thought about the past four weeks and I gave her the most passionate kiss I was capable of. Then we made love. We made love for over an hour, not with reckless abandon this time, but with calculated tenderness. When we finished we wrapped our arms around each other and never spoke another word. We both fell asleep and when I woke up it was six o’clock. I quietly got out of bed and kissed Josie Rae Sessions on the cheek and whispered, “I don’t care what you say pretty girl, I love you.” I could swear she smiled but whether he did or not, the only fair thing for me to do for her was to exit quietly. At that moment I knew I did in fact love her and that’s why I have to go. That’s how much a really love her, my staying would only hurt her. I let my heart break so she could go where she truly believed he belonged. It wasn’t right, it totally sucked but thats the kind of shit you do for real love. Sacrifice. Love comes with consequences and you gamble on some pain. I learned how much love really can hurt, how my love for one woman was so strong I broke my own heart to allow her to follow hers. Right or wrong, that wasn’t for me to choose. I had my life to focus on now. I washed up, got dressed and left. I left with exactly what I had arrived with four weeks ago. My wallet, my clothes, and the prison on my back.

Baby Baby, Where Did Our Love Go?

This is a very serious and sad excerpt of a story mostly funny. It’s a peek into the dark side of my hero’s sad life
You’re Cheatin’ Heart
Kayla was sound asleep, and on any other night I would have been asleep too, knowing Tina would come home after she was done with her shift. First maybe have a drink or two before coming home. I worked in many a restaurant and a few shots after service was common. But this wasn’t any other night. This was the night I was confronting Tina. I had been relatively certain she had been cheating on me, but now I had some hard to dispute evidence. Her best friend and normal excuse for being late called looking for Tina a few hours ago, and on the counter sat a receipt signed by her from the Miller Edge Motor Inn. I laid in wait in the darkness as my anger percolated. When I heard her car pull up a rush of adrenaline churned in my gut then gathered in my head. I was shaking. This was it!
The second she walked through the door my fears were confirmed. Her face wore an all telling satisfied smile. The kind of smile I remembered seeing so often after our nights at the Jade Feather before we were married. That freshly laid smile. It cut deep into my heart. Here it goes. “So where ya been babe?” Tina was startled, caught off guard not expecting me to be awake. I could feel the nervousness in her lie. “Oh, Joanne and I stopped of for a drink and it turned into 4 or five. We had some late customers and Jo and Jacob are having problems again.” I took a deep breath, anger growing by the second. “That’s really odd because Joanne called about two hours ago to remind you that you promised to cover her shift tomorrow.” The silence sat for an extremely uneasy four seconds as Tina began to attempt a backtrack. “Oh, did I say Joanne, I meant” I cut her off instantly” Stop the bullshit Tina! Stop it right now. You weren’t with Joanne or any other work friend. But I think I can guess where you were. More than likely at the Millers Edge Inn. It seems like that’s where you like to go, at least according to that receipt that was in your coat pocket.” I held the receipt out tyo her in a shakey hand. My body responding involuntarily to the ssour mix of anger, nervousness, and anxiety. She just stared, eyes wider than I thought possible. Busted! She had nowhere to take it. She looked down at the floor. Her face was flushed blueish red from the guilt and the sex drugs and alcohol that were more than likely involved. She raised her head, eyes now pathetic an pooling up with tears. At the same time they were profoundly sad eyes. It must have taken all she had to issue a sad mumble of “I-I’m sorry JT. I’m so so sorry.” A sniffle for an exclamation point.
“You’re sorry? Sorry about what Tina? Sorry that you’ve been fucking somebody behind my back or sorry you got caught?” My face must have been bright crimson red because I could feel rivulets of livid red blood cells swirling around my face. I wasn’t done yet. “ I have been faithful, all the time faithful. We had a fucking pact Tina, we’ve both been fucked over before and swore we would never o that to each other.“ The next question asked itself because I son’t remember thinking it. Who is it? Who are you sleeping with? Someone from the kitchen? A waiter? Who the hell are you fucking?” She paid no attention to the fact that it was more a demand than a question, Through her tears she softly asked, “JT please, does it really matter?” Actually a fair question but for some reason I felt I had to know. “It makes a difference to me, Tina, me your husband. You‘re partner for life!!” Tina looked up at me and streams of tear had begun sliding down her cheeks. “Please JT, don’t make me, it isn’t important. I ssis it and I’m sorry. I don’t know what you want me to say.” Head still burning hot with anger my voice was getting a bit too loud. “I’ll tell you what I want you to say, I want you to say it didn’t happen. But it’s too late for that now isn’t it Tina. So I guess I’ll just have to settle on knowing who it is I can blame for ruining my life.” My sarcastic tone was over the top and I regretted the moment I used it, but fuck man, I was pissed! She looked at me defiantly and just spat out his name. “Johnny” A Louisville Slugger of shock cracked me dead in the temple. Sent resounding waves of disbelief across my skull. My head throbbed with a combination of bewilderment and almost uncontrollable anger. Johnny?! Fucking Johnny boy, the love of her life before we started dating. The very dude I had taken her from, who abused her, calledd her names, and cheated on her right under her nose!. The mother fucker she cried to me about for weeks after they broke up. The piece of shit that treated her like dirt for years. I couldn’t breathe. I was aware of how loud it had gotten and didn‘t want Kayla to wake up. Choked with incredulousness my voice sounded squeezed .“Johnny. You mean Johnny boy the fuckhead that you hate? That fucking Johnny? I can’t believe this! How the fuck did this happen?” Now her tears were in full flight and forcing their way through her finger. Tina was shaking visibly and breathing in uneven pants. “It doesn’t matter.” Fury was at an all time high. “Stop saying it doesn’t matter. It does matter. It really does fucking matter!”
After a deluge of wet sobs Tina attempted to explain herself. “I went out for a drink with the girls after work last week and Johnny was there. He came over and we started talking. Just talking, nothing else. He wanted to tell me how sorry he was and wanted to be friends again, we had a few drinks, one thing led to another and I-I don’t know. It just happened.” I was still in stun mode and the anger needed to escape in the worst way. “It just happened?” I was pissed and I could hear Tina sobbing heavily. “Something like that doesn’t just happen Tina. That’s bullshit. You have to know that something might happen. You say to yourself, this is a bad situation, this is wrong. This asshole fucked me over an now I’m talking to him. I can’t do this cuz I’m married. I’m happily married and….” The Louisville Slugger struck again, this time filled with reality. “Wait! Shit! Oh my godd no!? Oh no no no. Oh shit Tina. You’re not happy are you!? You were hoping. Oh Jeu god you were looking for someone or something that would free you out of ….of life with me. An unhappy like with me! What about Kayla? Are you unhappy about Kayla too?” Now Tina’s face looked distorted. The sockets of her eyes were sunken and wrinkled, deep reddish brown from so much rubbing, Soaked through and through from an all out cry. Every pore of her face looked sad and defeated. He looked old to me for the first time. Oh my fucking god id she hate me that much? I was consumed by a combination of anger, betrayal, guilt, sadness and deep self loathing. My old pal, the demon of self hate. How I hated myself so back a few years. Back when I told Carrie about my theory that everyone that gets to know me either dies or leaves. That’s probably why I got so fucked up all the time, did so many drugs. Fuck man, even I couldn’t stand being near myself. Why should Tina feel any different. The years of confidence building collapsed in a single instant. I was crushed and beginning to understand it was my fault. But Tina was clearly blaming herself too. Neither of us were able to talk. All we could do was shake and cry and sniffle. How did it come to this? I poured myself a huge glass of straight vodka from the freezer. It was half gone in a matter of seconds, and being a half empty type of guy at this moment I filled back up, then emptied it.
We sat in silence for about ten minutes until Tina found the courage to talk. “Now what JT? Where so we go from here?” I thought for a few seconds, said ”I don’t know Tee, I just don’t know.” My voice had taken on an eerie even tone and I almost didn’t recognize it. “I think I need to go home to Centerlawn and think things through. And I think you need to think too. I guess we both need to figure out what we want. But I guess this is over” Surprisingly Solomonic. Tina just stared at me with a profound sorrow in her eyes so deep it made her look totally detached from life. “I am so so sorry JT. Its all my fault. I don’t even no where to begin.” I put my finger up to her lips, “Shh, there plenty of blame to go around. I’ve been so consumed with work and, fuck man I don’t know what. I-I just never saw this coming. We both fucked up. Maybe we should never have been, I don’t kmow. Like I said, I need to think shit through. I gotta split. I’m going home to my Moms, I need to think. I’ll be back to see Kayla after work tomorrow.” I pounded down another glass of vodka and took what was left of the bottle. I could hear Tina sobbing loudly in the background as I walked out the door. I took one last look at our home, our once happy home and could see Kayla’s window. Her parents had just become the monsters under her bed. I thought about Kayla and broke down and cried again. Not a soft cry, not even a cry like I had when my brother James died. This was a deep guttural cry with an ugly darkness. I have lost Tina, I lost my dignity, and worst of all I lost Kayla. All in the blink of an eye. I blew Kayla’s window a kiss through my tears, wiped off my soaked cheeks and took a seep breath. I got in my car and left. I wondered if I was ever coming back.