Seraphim Risen & Shot

by dschapman

I’ve outgrown my castle, as though I were a very fat king. I am neither fat nor a king. I am sickly, thin, a peasant with delusions of a blueblooded ancestry. But nonetheless I was given a castle and I sat in it, bored but content, until one day the walls were simply too close to me, and I could not stand up without hitting the ceiling, and I realized I was about to be crushed. It doesn’t matter to me if the castle is shrinking or I am growing. I do not see how you could ever tell the difference.

So this is the story of a man’s castle, one he was never quite fit for, nor can anymore fit in.

When I was twelve I decided to write a chronological history of the events of my life, particularly those of my friend and I, whom I loved dearly and intimately, and was deeply grateful for. We had wonderful adventures, and even at twelve I was beginning to lose sight of them. It was a tiresome, thankless task and I decided to wait until I was older. When I was sixteen and the adventures were decidedly a thing of the past, I tried to do so again, and created at least a bare list of occurrences. But my inability to recall everything frustrated and depressed me and I gave up. Two years later I tried again, but by the I decided that if I had not forgotten it yet, I would never forget it.

As I sit here, now, and try to write it, to dream up this glorious youth for myself, to appease my desperate memories and re-live that strange fluke of time, I realize that all hope is totally lost, because I can hardly remember anything. I remember three or four key events, nothing extravagant. It is hard to remember what I considered eventful as a boy and what I have long since surpassed or glazed over. What was so significant about that walk around town that meant so much to me? Why did I think our lives were at risk in that forest? How had he changed my life on that mountain?

It is a shame to lose these things but a relief to thus be rid of them, to say, “Forget it,” and throw the whole box of scraps in the trash.

They say that the night Montgomery Clift went out to visit Elizabeth Taylor and drove into a tree, stimulating his so-called long-suicide, he was never supposed to be out. They say he wanted to stay home, reading scripts, in a sweater and socks. They say he rejected endless calls from his friends to come join him, particularly from that desperate, needy Bessie Mae. Bessie Mae is what he called Elizabeth Taylor, because he liked to make up pet names. They say that he had long ago given up driving, decided it was unsafe and that he needed a chauffeur  and they also say that he had so little intention of going out that night that he had given his chauffeur the night off. Somehow, despite all of his intentions, that Bessie Mae got him out to that party, and once there he did nothing but sit in the corner until it was time to leave, while Bessie Mae sobbed and listened to the stereo and her husband laid down on the couch eating pain pills. When Monty finally left to go him, he was so wary of driving that he asked his dear friend to lead him down the treacherous hills. His friend, Kevin, thought that Monty was trying to race him when Monty sped up, so he sped up too, and soon they were racing down the hill. When I heard that detail I wanted to kill Kevin McCarthy. I realized then what it was all about. I felt uneasy. Anyway, you know, the old boy crashed and almost died, and would never be the same again, nor live much longer afterward.

Pain, suppression, abuse, collapse, the disintegration, the malaise of the vanities… I am not supposed to personalize these things, to internalize them, make them romantic. I try not to take these things personally. I try not to collect photographs of the great actors’ and poets’ and heroes’ car accidents. I try not to read the romanticized biographies of these pathetic, tragic lifestyles. But what can I do? I am already lost, in my way. I have nothing to lose.

If I could just play the trois gymnopedies… If I could just… That was the whole point…

I hold a great and meaningful conversation in my head. When I am done I look beside me and remember that no one is listening, yet somehow I remember their speech. I imagine the love of my life sitting next to me, the way she could listen, could put together the fragmented phrases as they slip out of my mouth, could hold my hand in hers and calm me. And then, when I was finished speaking, she could say something meaningful, to me… It is too wonderful and magnificent to imagine. It hurts me that somehow I have denied myself, as I have also denied others, this togetherness tendency. When did I commit to this abstinence, and what was I thinking when I did? I feel as though every year without her is lost, and I have lost years now…

“If I don’t love you desperately, and love forever, continually through all the years, as much as he who loves the most, in empty Libya and scorched India, I’ll fight against some green-eyed lion.”