The Legend of Clark Holloway

It’s about an artist-type character who navigates a tumultuous young adulthood until he finally makes it big, and then at the age of 27 dies...or does he?

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1. “The Insolent Siren” or “Clark’s Summer”

           

           I was sitting at my desk, surfing the web and smoking a bowl, when Clark came bounding through the door.  He had a suitcase in his hand, a pillow under his arm and a guitar over his shoulder.  My bags were still on my bed, unopened.  It was a late August day and we had just arrived back at college to start our sophomore years.  We would be sharing the ten by fifteen foot cinderblock room.  “You made it, Clark,” I said.

            “Moondog!” yelled Clark, “You wouldn’t believe the fucking summer I’ve had.  Listen to this.”

 

*

 

            So remember at the end of last year, I barely got through finals, I hardly slept and couldn’t study to save my life.  Basically, I was a total mess.  And I didn’t tell you at the time, but what was going on behind the scenes, in my head, was a thousand times worse.  I honestly didn’t think I would be coming back to college. When I showed up late for my final, Professor Chuckles said to my face that I was the least prepared student he had ever had.  He said it in front of the whole class.  He laughed.  They all laughed. But now, I’m going to be in charge.

 

            Remember we smoked that blunt on the roof of the Severson building before we had to move out of the dorms?  Well, after that, I gathered my shit and drove back to Virginia Beach, listening to Leonard Cohen and basically thinking about killing myself the whole ride.  I don’t know why I had Cherry burn me that CD.  I threw it out after the drive.  When I got back home I said ‘hi’ to my parents then ran off to go for a surf because I couldn’t even face them and answer their questions about how school ended up.  The surf was key, and I felt a little more chilled out that night, but was still wrestling with a million questions and couldn’t fall asleep until like four in the morning.  It didn’t help that none of the chicks were home yet, except for the ones that never left, but I didn’t even really want to bang anyway.

The next morning I decided I wouldn’t get out of bed all day, but then my mom was knocking on my door saying cousin Zack was on the phone.  Zack’s the man, always has been, so I got up and took the phone.

            “Little cousin,” he said, “I need you come on up to Block Island, I need you to learn to repair boats, and I need you to take over for me up here asap.”

            I didn’t know where Block Island was, but my cousin was there living in someone’s house while he fixed it up, and doing some other jobs, like repairing boats.  Anyway, the light bulb above my head flicked on; some island, fixing boats, getting away from it all, just the wind and waves, it was the perfect place to get my head right.  And I could always stay up there and disappear if things took a turn for the worse.  Shoot myself in the head, drunk and half naked on a sailboat, like Hemingway. He explained how to get there and I said I would see him tomorrow.

 

            My parents were shocked I was going to be leaving so soon, but they understood that Zack needed me so he could captain some MILF’s yacht down to the Caribbean, and possibly Brazil, without abandoning the house he was in charge of watching.  My Dad said working on boats would make a man of me, and I told my mom I would come visit at the end of the summer and for her not to worry, the surf sucked in Virginia Beach this time of year and I was bound to get a DUI if I stayed around.  So I drove up to Rhode Island, and when I was on the ferry some old salt told me that you couldn’t get away from all the pussy on Block Island until the season ends and it’s all gone, at which point men turn gay or worse.  I told the guy to shut his faggot mouth, that if there were even one girl on this island I would be the one sleeping with her.  The real Clark Holloway was back.

            So I drove up to the address my cousin gave me and he hugged me and said drinks were on him tonight because he was going to be leaving in a few days and I just saved his ass.  We drove down to his local bar, some dive called the Crab’s Claw, and got bombed, bombed, then brought back some girls to his cottage, which was in the yard of a fancy Victorian mansion.  There wasn’t enough room for us to both comfortably bang in the cottage, so I brought my girl outside and did her over the hull of a flipped rowboat, in the moonlight, with the sound of the ocean and the sea breeze. 

            Two days later, I was on the dock, waving goodbye to Zack as he stood at the oversized chrome wheel of an eighty-foot yacht.  He was drinking from a bottle of frothing bottle of champagne.  I turned away and drove across town, back to the cottage, now rightfully mine.  When I got there, I put on ‘Dark Star’, smoked a bowl, and set my mind on the endless possibilities the upcoming days would bring. 

            Working at the boat repair shop was a trip.  Zack had helped me break the ice with the everyday crew, and I was learning fast, but they still hazed me a little bit at first. They called me things like ‘landlubber’ and ‘greenhorn’ and ‘dickwad’.  But after work we would drink some beers and talk about girls and rock n’ roll, and one guy, the oldest and saltiest, told us the story about how in the seventies he tried PCP by accident and beat up his girlfriend at the time.  The work itself was hard but fulfilling. We fixed boats with names like “El Scorpion” and “Tres Cabezas”.  Two weeks later, I was yoked and had hands like leather. After work I would catch some fish off the dock or shoreline then grill them outside.  I had a couple weed plants going.  Life felt fresh and raw, new, after the staleness of college and home.

            During those first two weeks, I also got a part time job as an oyster shucker for this catering company.  Obviously, I got the job by chatting up an older lady at the bar.  She was the owner. So they slapped a yellow Hawaiian shirt on Clark and had me open oysters and talk to the guests.  Then, my second time out, I met her.  I mean, my second time working the shucking gig, I am standing there, sucking down an oyster, cold beer in my other hand, when a girl says to me, “you’ve eaten more oysters than anyone here, even fat Uncle Angus.”  I turned to the right and there she was, a babe. 

            Her name was Rosaria.  She had raven black hair, dark eyes, a slender face and a knockout body wrapped in a tight blue, white polka-dotted dress.  Her arm was elegantly extended and I followed it to where a big fat bald man in a suite was eating a shrimp cocktail.  I coughed on the briny saltwater from my oyster, then real quick served up one for her.  I gave it an extra large dollop of salsa, to test her out, but she took it down like a champ. I finally stopped coughing and got myself together enough to say that oysters were my favorite thing in the entire world.  Then I told her to follow me and we dipped away from the party.  Walking along a path surrounded by blackberry bushes, we ate berries and talked about Santeria. When we got to a dead end I made out with her and probably would have done her right there if an old lady had not started yelling at us from a nearby balcony.

 

The next day we met on the beach. She was wearing a yellow bikini and had a tattoo of Jimi Hendrix soloing on her side. Her body was phenomenal. As we meandered along the shore, the ocean was so flat it seemed more like an immense lake, as if we could walk around it to the other side. She told me she had a boyfriend back home. I was not surprised at all.  How many dimes are single these days?  So I asked if she loved him.  She said things were difficult right now, once again no surprise, but then she did say something surprising because the reason things were difficult wasn’t because of fighting or family problems or other bullshit, not even that she didn’t love him, but because she believed that in our entire lives, we can only really be in love with one person, and afterwards we are alone forever, as it should be.  I had no idea what she was talking about, but our walk ended back at my cottage where we had the best sex of my entire life.  About a million positions and she was a total freak.  While we were fucking, for a moment, I felt like I was being moved by the waves, or I thought about a wave peeling down the line, to stop myself from coming, then another, waves coming one after another until infinity.  I finally let go and it was like my veins had been filled with fuming mercury. But then she spoke softly in my ear and the siren song called me back. Finally, when we were exhausted and it was nighttime, we went outside to smoke a joint and drink some wine.  There was a meteor shower. Then we went back in and screwed until daybreak.

About a week later, in the morning, after we were done making love, we rolled out of bed, put on some clothes, and went down to the shoreline.  When we got there I put my feet in the water then walked back to where she was in the sand.  She was fishing through her bag.  She said, “close your eyes,” which I did, then she kissed me and put a piece of paper on my tongue.  I swallowed it.  “Don’t swallow it,” she said. 

“Too late,” I responded. 

“Haven’t you ever done acid before?”

“Nope,” I said, then opened my eyes to see her astonished face.

            “You should have told me that before.”

            “You should have asked.”

            She smiled and said we were going to have fun, then ran her fingers through my hair and got on top of me.

 

The next twelve hours were a whirlwind.  I could have sworn that the sun rose and set a dozen times, and at one point there were two moons.  I could hear her whispering to me, saying all kinds of things. We smoked weed and ate berries and swam and fucked and the trees and clouds were swirling.  At the end of the day there was like a hot air balloon race or something, I shit you not, and this crazy vibrant sunset. The entire thing was pink and purple and orange and blue. It blew my mind. One of the balloons was a giant yellow face with a moustache. I had a million questions.

 

Being with her was something else.  And when I wasn’t with her or working, I wrote music incessantly.  Dude, each day was ripe with possibility. Like a tree of ripe mangos.  It was fucking dripping with the shit.  I played my stuff at the bar and everybody was pumped on me and Rosaria.  Each day I worked my ass off on the boats, hanging with the salts or thinking about music and fucking Rosaria, she worked her job at a café, then after work I would swim or we would hang on the beach or bang, then she cooked up dinner and I wrote music or watched the waves, then we drank some wine and banged or just banged.  She got sexier by the day, more tan, more used to eating fresh berries.

Then, at mid afternoon on some cool day, as we lay on an outdoor couch beneath a low tree, a cloud passed over the sun, and she asked,  “Are you going to marry me and bring me back to Virginia?”

Thousands of images whirled past my eyes.

“No”, I said.

She looked at me, sadder than I have ever seen her.  She cried, as we sat there.  It almost killed me.  We lay there together the rest of the day, unable to move.

That was about a week before I left.  For the next six days I stopped working and playing and Rosaria and I screwed like our lives depended on it.  We screwed and took breaks only to eat and go for walks across the island.  We wandered back and forth and followed every conceivable path.  But we spent most of the time in bed.  Sometimes, while I lay there too exhausted to think, words would float by me, and I knew one day they would go into a song.

The day before I left, Rosaria and I walked down from my cottage to the seashore, where a heavy mist had settled in with the arrival of a cold front.  We sat in the sand for a second and talked about being marooned on a lifeboat in impenetrable fog, as we looked out at the ocean.  The water was a deep blue.  “I’m going to go for a dip,” I said.

“Don’t go,” she said, “You’ll freeze.”

“No,” I said, “It’s not that cold.”

I walked in slowly, it was actually pretty cold, I felt pins and needles in my feet, then up my shins and knees.  I walked in up to my waist and stood there looking out, everything totally obscured by fog.  I looked back towards land and couldn’t see it.  Then I dunked myself and felt nothing.  For a second, I lost my breath.  I floated there up to my neck for a minute or two, freezing. Then I got out.  I was reborn.

 

*

 

“The next day I packed up my things and went home, chilled out for a few days, and now I’m here,” said Clark, “Are you ready for a hell of a year, Moondog?”

            “Hell yea”, I replied.

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