Sure I felt guilty for having a good time with Kurt, but a one night stand with a hustler couldn’t hold a flame to some of my other experiences, sexual or otherwise. Yet this felt different. I wasn’t even sure of what was happening to me. Pressure, sensation, thoughts, feelings, ideas, beliefs, sensations in every combination and permutation possible writhed within. In an absolute moment of stop, I stood on the shores of a peaceful lake. In my serene state swans glided by, encapsulating the moment in beauty and gracefulness. I turned to leave. Movement tore at my vision, threatening the serenity. I stopped; it calmed down. Unable to breathe, think or move, my mind fought ever so gently to understand the mechanics of being intrinsically tied to a vision. Behind the scene something made itself known. I felt God as I understood Him/Her/It watching me. The haunting words of Amazing Grace echoed within: ‘Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.‘ I didn’t know which was worse: being a wretch or wasting God’s precious time?
A gazillion fragments imploded and exploded into mind-numbing resonance into the ether. I cringed and let out a yelp. People eyed me suspiciously, but even I couldn’t put up a wall to block such forces. I clamped down on what was left of my mind in a steel grip. I wanted to tell someone about my visions – I had to – but was too afraid. How could they know what I didn’t? Pressure cookers had release valves; I had none. If friends were there for the good times and bad times, why did it sound so cliché? I wanted a friend, someone to talk to, someone to trust and someone who wouldn’t judge me. Yet no one knew how much I hurt for I’d mastered the art of coming undone.
Memories fanned flames of guilt into an exponentiating paranoid frenzy. Alone, with no one to talk to, I fell from the tree that had once held me so dearly, lovingly and nurturingly and blew away into the nether regions of the universe. At the mercy of every draft and gust of wind that blew, liberation felt alien and cold. But the wind wouldn’t blow forever. I’d have to land somewhere and with my luck on some park bench, back alley or an insane asylum. My energy reserves leaked into the nether regions of nowhereness; anywhere but into me. Condemning voices murmured away, taunting, loathing and hating me. And all I could do was let it happen, a silent witness to my own demise.
Grabbing the bull by the horns, I took a chance and confided in a dealer. She listened quietly before making a few phone calls. Could I trust her to keep my admissions safe? She’d never let me down before other than a few sketchy drug deals, yet paranoia ate away at trust like spilled acid. We were much more alike than I ever told her: parents to children in need. While I didn’t think selling and doing drugs was the way to go, my ways weren’t any better. Like Johnny said: ’we only wanted to be loved’. I only wanted to be loved… Love makes the world go ’round’. I was only human. I had needs too.
Everywhere I went my mind went with me. People transformed right before my eyes, pulling out cell phones warning others as to my comings and goings. Even my so-called friend Zack rubbed salt in my gaping wounds by telling people I deserved what was happening for going to the toilet in my own back yard. So, I hadn’t told Kurt and others about being HIV, but what about their secrets?
Mark dropped by. I remembered how he’d popped out of a dumpster like a jack-in-the-box all innocence and smiles. Though I wanted to help him, he preferred to stay a hustler. Yes it hurt, but I couldn’t stop him even if I tried. I told him what was going on in a roundabout kind of way. Now, as he laid back on my bed, I looked him in the eye and asked him if he was my Judas out to betray me with a ‘kiss’. He said nothing, which to me said everything. The next morning he wanted me to watch a fight beneath the Gathering Place. I declined scripture and my Garden of Gethsemane. Did Jesus go willingly or coerced by prophecy? What would’ve happened if he hadn’t have gone? I didn’t know. But Jesus was Jesus. I had my own life and my own scriptures to live by.
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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