I am inventing a self. The materials aren’t safe. I might breakdown, disintegrate. But I like the danger nevertheless. I am measuring and shaping up. The pain fits good. The joy I castoff for the scrappers. They may salvage, cash it in, and then they will have to prove to me if there is any profit. I remember our house and the housewarming present, our new coffee pot. We wanted to bake a cake. We walked a mile to the market, stopped at the gas station to buy cheap beer. The cake was raw, the beer stale. That’s the night you took the glass pot to my head and I learned that the thin scalp could bleed so deep. I didn’t bother with stitches and that is probably why it is hard to keep it together sometimes.
I chose a weapon of peace. I sought acquittal, so I admitted to a hybrid of fiction, poetry, and testimonial. I would not confess to anything in this writing. I did not plead mercy to the victims but for them. I said to myself, maybe this writing, this recasting of broken lives is selfish. But it helps. The victims were spectral anyway, memories, and they did not die from my hands (but in them). I had not committed any ostensible crimes, although I carried a heavy guilt. Their trauma and ultimate choices propelled them over thresholds they could not re-cross. At these times, I remembered my first boyfriend Ricki who watched his mother murdered then got hooked on rock dying of a stroke at twenty-nine; Ko, my second novio, thirty-three, severely handicapped after a car accident, who drank a shot glass full of liquid methadone to never wake up; Nicola, born Ron, who stabbed an abusive trick and is doing life in state prison; and Angie, who was molested by her mother’s boyfriend, couldn’t stop eating and died of obesity at fifty-five. This is more than a body count. These were the people who gave my life meaning and purpose. I felt culpable. Maybe if I was a better example, could have given them hope, been more supportive. Maybe if I wasn’t codependent, an enabler, an addict, a better listener, a friend and not just an outsider to their sufferings. I was afraid they would be forgotten and so it was difficult to perform rituals for their passing. So, I absorbed their pain and it poisoned my life like pesticidal runoff until I was facing my own burnt bones and ashes. Could I have intervened? How could I live without forgiveness? Yet I did not trust the burdened concept. I rejected anything that wasn’t real. But I figured I would try by acknowledging the hurt, love for them and myself, my culpability in standing witness and not speaking up. I would never get them back, but my life and these writings could serve as a warning and suspended sentence.
Alexander Perez is a gay, Latinx author from Schenectady, NY. He has a publication forthcoming in Furtive Dalliance and another credit in The RavensPerch.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.