"Black Sheep Boy" and the sadness it brings... aka the guilt is overwhelming some days... Pt. II

I stressed long and hard to determine whether I should indeed tell this story, or, more specifically, what parts of the story I should be allowed to tell as my involvement is fleeting and merely a side story, so it's technically not mine to tell.  I decided to move forward but be very intentional on what is revealed.  I will not be talking any details, people, places, etc. and will actually skip most of that part and stick to why this memory is so indelibly linked to OKKERVIL RIVER'S "BLACK."  That's the only part I own and it's my dreadful memory/association which still haunts me to this day.  I wish I could shake it but the loyalty part of Asperger's makes this feel like one of, if not my largest, regret.  Well, I should specify "regrets" as it's a two-parter.  More on that in just a bit...

 

This story has caused me to not only give away my Okkervil River albums (I may have thrown them out, but I swear I donated them to a less musically diverse friend.  But, then again, I can't count all the brain cells I've destroyed over the years, so maybe I'm remembering that incorrectly, or more likely, it doesn't fucking matter and I'm already rambling...) but to completely forget about them until last week.  I literally (yes, literally, not figuratively, or "literally," as the kids say) blocked out the band, the albums and the songs.  I couldn't remember the lyrics to a song I used to cover at shows.  I know I "knew" these songs but, for the life of me, couldn't bring them back out.  It was weird.  It was like going back to your hometown, population 3000, and forgetting where the baseball fields were that you spent almost your entire childhood playing on.  Or, forgetting where the pool was even though that's where you spent literally (again, fucking seriously literally) every fucking day in the summers.  I remember waking up each morning, eating a Pop-Tart (for those too young to know, put butter on the brown sugar flavor as soon as it comes out the toaster.  Ooh, fuck yeah.  It gets all melty and the sweet and savory all mix together for oohh, yeah... oops I came...) with a bowl of Corn Pops (shit, so much "pops" in the 90's) and speeding off on my Huffy to my best friends house for a few rounds of 2-player TEST DRIVE: OFF-ROAD (the original muthafuckers!  Chevy Z71 was my jam, fuck a Hummer) on his PC.  After we complained about who cheated to win and some various back and forth, it was off to the pool for two or three hours, back to his for lunch (since he lived closer) and then back to the pool for the afternoon to stop in the slides, piss off the lifeguards, flirt with girls, trying desperately for just a kiss and finally some swim-tag.  Afterwards, it was a quick rinse off (miss that chlorine smell.  I often step into the pool at hotels for a fond remembrance of time gone past...) and onto roller-blading or basketball (and flirting with girls, again) until dinner.  After dinner, more basketball, roller-blading or maybe some three on three or five on five football (trying to impress the girls watching but pretending not to) until it got too dark and someone inevitably got hit in the face with a ball and maybe broke their glasses for the 19th time...  Luckily, we had that glasses insurance (free repairs/replacements for two years if they should break) which the store in the Beaver Dam mall tried to revoke after our fifth redemption.  Fucking insurance, always trying to fuck you over...

 

Wow, sorry.  That was way off track.  Also, not sorry, not sure why I said that.  Congratulations, if you're still reading this nonsense...

 

BUT, back to the story.  The things I regret from this story are two-fold.  One is something I didn't do, and one is something I did.  For the sake of time, let's break this up (again) into two parts and start with the thing I didn't do:  murder someone...  (ominous sounds)

 

I wish the actual story was less dramatic than that but, unfortunately, it's not.  I'm not a particularly violent person.  Yes, I'm prone to Asperger's freakouts and meltdowns (just ask my poor girlfriend who happened to be home after I got a terrible haircut...  I asked for, and I quote, "an inch off and to clean up the back so it's not so mullet-y."  She made the first two cuts and my heart stopped.  "Kind of like that?" she asked.  It took everything I had to only say "not quite that much but it's too late," where I wanted to say "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!  YOU MUST BE FROM ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD BESIDES AMERICA CAUSE YOU CERTAINLY DON'T KNOW WHAT A FUCKING INCH IS!") but I'm not normally angry or violent.  Seriously, despite that all-caps rant, I'm actually being serious.  Lot's of things perturb me and I enjoy getting riled up about things, but rarely feel legitimate anger towards another human (the members of Grouplove excepted.  Stop trying to ruin my one of my all-time favorite shows with your GODAWFUL CREDITS SONG.  Even the whole world hates Grouplove, JUST WATCH THEIR OWN FUCKING MUSIC VIDEO.  God, that songs sucks so much, how could you let this happen?).  

 

But, on this day so long ago, I met her old friend from high school.  Normally, I enjoy a glimpse into someone's past and meeting people from other dimensions of time and space (time revolves around relative to me so everything before and after exists in alternate dimensions and nothing exists outside my realm of understanding.  Asperger's is weird sometimes...) but something was off here.  Long ago, I'd learned that I have a strange knack for understanding people extremely quickly.  It could be the Asperger's but there's so much you can tell about a person within a few seconds if you're really looking, which I always am.  I don't use this power for evil (read:  to manipulate people) very often, but more for my own good (read:  determine whether this person is interesting, talented, kind-hearted, etc. and I should spend more time with them or the opposite and I should JUST WALK AWAY...).  Yes, like most people my age, I learned more about this by reading Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink" though I try to block out the actual person/Bill Simmons occasional cohort Gladwell as he annoys the fuck out of me.  He is a very smart man, but does not always wear it well, to put it mildly.  But, give me six seconds and a greeting and I can probably tell you all you need to know about someone.  Insecurity, manipulative behavior, etc. or honesty, kindness, talent, etc.  I've been proven wrong so rarely that it usually seems like a willful mistake.  I can't tell you how many times I've shaken someones hand, made bold predictions, and sometimes weeks, sometimes years later, was finally proven right.  It's a great skill of mine, particularly when I used to debate people.  You assess, find their weaknesses and poke at it until they come unhinged and you can become the reasonable, logical one to their insane person, thus winning handily.  It's a good skill to have unless you value interpersonal relationships, then sometimes it can be a drag.  Not for me, mind you, but for those who get angry at me frequently, not for out-debating them on the facts but for outsmarting them personally.  What the fuck am I talking about??  

 

Back to the story, I instantly fucking hated this guy.  He walked in, to my apartment no less, where we were hanging out.  I gave him a beer, Miller Lite, naturally, and we casually introduced ourselves.  They began to catch up and I joined in, trying to be nice as I got that "don't be a fucking asshole like usual" look from her.  I asked pertinent questions and maintained conversation like a normal (read:  not like me/a person with Asperger's) person.  From the outside it seemed perfectly normal and jovial.  I positioned myself in the only chair (my Hampton desk chair from Office Depot, which I stole, allegedly.  Just kidding, no one ever knew...  Maybe it's not true.  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink...) so they would sit by the window on the ledge/chunk of wood over the steam radiator which heated my apartment.  In the summer, when the heat was off, it doubled as the only other seating in my apartment.  To set the room, I had a computer on top of a small TV stand against the left wall, my recording interface (Mbox 2) and random mics/stands next to it, my Martin D-15 acoustic guitar in the closet behind me, my stack of books (Kurt Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions," Woody Guthrie's "Bound for Glory," Johnny Cash's "Cash," etc.) that I always traveled with, on display to prove I could read, my portable 5" DVD player and DVD's ("Pulp Fiction," Bruce Springsteen "Live at the Garden," Bewitched seasons 1 and 2 and Monty Python's Flying Circus collection, an odd bunch, for sure) on the floor next to the computer desk and, in the closet next to the guitar, some blankets I laid on the floor at night to sleep on.  It was a bachelor pad for sure.  So, again, I'm in the chair by the desk, they're on a chunk of wood that's been painted white to hide the fact that it's just a chunk of wood over a radiator next to the window.

 

Now, this window did not have a screen on it, which is weird, but it did not.  So, in the summer my windows were wide open, five floors above the street.  There was a moment where she went to the bathroom and he was looking out the window onto the street below yelling crude things to the girls as they passed by, beer in hand.  

 

"You want another?" I said as I got up to head to the kitchen.  "Sure," he said, "why not."  I stood for a moment and slowly made my way towards the kitchen, which was right past him sitting in the window.  "She would never know," I thought.  "No witnesses."  Tear off a piece of his shirt and it looks like I tried to catch him.  He was drinking and fell.  It was a dark thought.  I felt weird but it also somehow felt right.  I felt torn between what I thought was right and what I thought was "right."  I was confident I could get away with it but was reluctant for some reason.  I should have, probably, but I didn't.  In a moment of weakness, I hesitated too long and she came back out the bathroom.  I barely knew her and she barely knew me.  Why did I care so much and why did I hate this guy so much?  I didn't "know" but I knew.  And worse, I knew that I knew.

 

She came back and said "What were you guys talking about?"  "Just grabbing another beer, you want one?" I asked.  "Sure," she said.  I should've known.  I did know.  That was the worst part.  That's the part I live with.  I just didn't do anything...  The next day, it happened...

 

(to be continued...)

 

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