Monday, June 20, 2016
It was the juice he wanted, the juice in the live wire that was heroin cooked in a spoon, a jazz riff that caught the wave, the line of verse that almost touched the elusive pulse of magic. He could do with no less and had learned over 60 years of chasing that he would never catch it. That made him cynical, fatalistic, down on himself. "Oh, there you go again," he would say, admonishing himself, "fucking up, as usual," whenever he missed a measurement of sheet rock or backer board on the job we were doing. I knew that he was chasing the wrong things, that the real burr goading him on was his pain. Oh, the therapists had told him that, he said. He knew it. Twenty years in prison, rehab, and counseling had made that clear enough. Yes, he knew it, but he couldn't accept it, or stand up to it, or face the cold fact of it. So he kept running, running, chasing that perfect impossible relief, that taste of the magic juice.