Story - A Dark Journey Through The Southlands

I just came across this. The America that republicans want.  From Downtown LA Life.

Jesus Aint Here No More

From historic Charleston to South Beach, from Norfolk to Tampa, and
everywhere in between. And hey, there is a mother lode of in
between. Whether it be along tobacco road or that tired old Highway
17 laboring along the coastal plain- its all here: The house that
jack built, and then deserted. The proverbial fascism is capitalism
in decay. And then the countless Singaporean taxistas that always
said America too big. And they were right: It is too big. Simmering,
scorched and way so way too big.

A place where four-year-old shopping center #5 is antiquated and
cancer-laden cause everyone is going to the newest shopping center
#6 for a year or two anyway. We are in a time and place like no
other. A place where capital speculation and greed have scarred the
Dixie piedmont to an unrecognizable, forsaken sort of place; a place
where abandoned farm homes and rusted, hollowed-out silos polka-dot a
sad and scraggly scape. And hey, yea, I did look up from my hand
held device just long enough to see all this; and to come to the
foregone conclusion: Jesus aint here no more.

And if this is a jumbled road diary, remember: It comes from a fairly
jumbled mind. Traveling Interstate 75 through south Georgia, it be
common to see anti-Obama billboards along side, Youre going to hell
if you dont repent, along side, Lions Den Adult Super Store just 4
miles ahead. Golly that sorta makes my thinking go off kinda weird.
But then there are all those once vibrant outlet centersall dead now:
Boarded-up, rotting places where SUVs full of vacationing families
once stretched their legs on their long trek to beach land. Even the
topless roadside coffee shop joints are closed. I see all this pretty
darn clear now cause I looked up from my Pandora music selection just
long enough to catch a glimpse of our present day southern Americana:
Yea, Jesus aint here no more.

But but hey: Everyone you talk to is kind and polite. Like, you can
take the southerner out of hospitality but you cant take the
hospitality out ofugh. Dang it. You know what I mean. People might
hate certain ethnicities or not have a ride to work at the BP from
their trailer park- but Ive found them all to be pretty darn nice
about it, regardless of their lot. I mean, you gotta understand: This
is a time and place where plenty of folk are very misguided and
confused. They believe what Fox or MSNBC tells em (and hey, there
aint much MSNBC down here), where government and freeloaders are the
enemy, and where psycho-anger simmers just beyond Howdyville. It is a
time and place where anything beyond the state highway, anything
beyond that big cat caught on Zacks 80lb dragline, anything beyond
the shot-up deer being hoisted onto Billys Dodge Ram anything beyond
such serious stuff is either foreign or just downright evil. But all
people really know that times are tough, and by God its somebodys
fault.  And whether its reflected in the dwindling tithes at Liberty
Monument Baptist or fewer loaves at the out-of-date bread store it
dont matter. Times still be tough, damn tough. I know this cause I
talked with a girl named Rebecca at the filling station, gassing up
and all. And you can only come to one conclusion when looking deep
into Beccas eyes or slithering cross our scorched, southern
flatland: Jesus aint here no more.

You know, I saw this stuff on the computer bout children singin in
some church; something like Jesus dont like homos or queers arent
going to heaven. Well Hell. Just thought it was a funny thing that
churches seem to be mouthing the good ole doctrine of exclusion and
hate. Like everybodys a bigot now, you know? Jus gimme a reason to
hate somebody, blame some sick goat for my hardships. And screw you
and your hardships- were talkin bout me and mine brother. Gimme Fox
every night and Pastor Leroys fire and brimstone on Sundays and Ill
be hellaciously pissed-off at somebody. . . somebody pretty damn
specific. And if I pray long and hard, I can stay that way all week
til next Sunday. This dude hates gays and this gal hates gay-haters
even more. He hates preconception medicine but is an ardent supporter
of electrocution.  Like hey, you blow up my gay bar and Ill blow up
your juke joint out by the corn patch where you hold your rallies.
Well hell, no ones really got the balls to be blowin up nothing; but
you sure can call Bob down at the Sheriffs office, all anonimus and
secret, make some threats. See, I finally be realizing all this,
seeing mile after mile of deep-fried earth and degraded, potty-holed
interstate. You know, I took a break from my handheld Facebook and did
some thinkin. And you know what? Jesus? He aint here no more.

And then theres the other side of the tracks. Whether it be
Sarasota, Fla. or Georgetown, South Carolina, were talking poverty
here: Poverty of the darker persuasion. LBJ? Lincoln? The Emancipation
Degradation? The Civil Plight Movement? Dead, dead, and deader still.
Just cause some federal-level politician made everybody equal back in
the day didnt do squat bout educating anybody on any side of any
doggone color spectrum. Were talkin bout rural and town ghetto: The
real deal.  But on matters of inclusion, were now in post-modern
times, and those metaphorical railroad tracks dont mean what they
used to, not anymore. Aint nobody down here got a monopoly on poor.
Strange to look up from my handy-dandy navigation app and see a sad
row of ten maybe twelve trailers, overgrown with weeds, abandoned
rusting cars, doors swung open, sofas and chairs strewn about in the
kudzu- And lo and behold, people actually be living in those things.
And just beyond that, say a mile or less up the highway, you see a
partially completed subdivision of six or eight humble, ranch style
homes, baking in a scape void of trees, mostly abandoned or empty.
Guess poor old Henry down at Heritage Savings just couldnt pony up
with funds when Joe Mac and Bobby Sue came looking to take on their
first mortgage. Ugh, dont matter no how since Joe Mac lost his job
when Nichols Farm Supply shut down. No, I best keep my eyes on the
road and my attention on my device; looking at the scenery round
these parts just aint gonna do nobody no good. Sorta leads to the
conclusion that Jesus most certainly aint anywhere near here, not no
more.

But hey, there aint nothin more important than a good, hearty meal
when you be on a long road trip of exploration and discovery. And
nothing stirs the southern soul more than the prospect of hog jowl,
black-eyed peas, corn bread, and some squash; so we best start looking
for that hallowed, special hole-in-the-wall type place. Surely every
little towns got one. And there should be plenty to choose from, mile
after
mile after mile. Ah! Theres one! Nope. Shut down. My Lord, looks like
its been shut down no shier than twenty years. So we go on and on,
starving. Darn. After maybe a hundred miles or so, it becomes clear
that if it aint a burger or a fried chicken franchise, were just
**** out of luck. And when you finally do break down and hoist
yourself into one of these places, everybody Everybody is fatter than
hell. Like way, way down at the end of the proverbial humanoid-heifer
scale. Were talking- XLarge took a right and bought a bunch more Xs
on that hideous highway to sweaty fat folds and disability by
gluttony.

And speaking of gluttony, if theres one place that epiphanizes all
that we humans can bellow up and vomit upon our wondrous land, it is
Route 17 through Myrtle Beach, S.C. And if Jesus did happen to make an
appearance here, I believe he would give Michael the nod to violently
excise this oozing, ulcerous hole from our hearts, heads, and dirt.
This is where you can selfishly wheel your monster SUV with motorboat
in tow, across six lanes of traffic, after buying discount Golf ware
at one of countless outlet malls, blazing by and through everyone acar
or afoot, all to get across to the ******** club that is running their
Pina Colada Boobs on Review special. And yes, that would be
absolutely normal and expected. This is where bruisers show their guns
and hide their guts, where obese women shamelessly show their their
.. I wont go there but its not pretty. This is the parkway of the
putrid, the boardwalk of the God, I cant go on with this. No
respectable person should even ponder the lostness of humanity that
such a place so proudly espouses.

_______________

So Im finally in Charleston, our city of ghosts, the town of our
forefathers, this cobbled, cornerstone cradle of our lost confederacy.
It is somewhere past 1:00am as I trek down Market Street. The palms
and the antiquity, the restoration and the brick: The surreal affect
of how light reveals a place that is surely not any of the America I
have recently borne witness to. Fuzzy light beams dance jazz in some
sort of drunken slow motion- palm shadows sliding across spooky relic
fronts.

It is late. And here I be. Road weary and more. And like always:
Searching. For what? I havent a clue.

I guess a Southern Belle might refer to my ilk as just another one of
those tortured souls; one of those sad people that got in the cursed
habit of looking for things that were never there to begin with-
trying to quench a tortuous thirst with the nectar of a fruit that God
never zapped into being outside of Edens gate. All the cynicism, all
the bitterness, all the toxic satire laid bare: Just one more blooming
idiot that listened just a bit too long, looked just a bit too far,
felt just a bit too deep, and never learned how to turn it all off.
Unable to stop and smell the roses, disabled from being still and
knowing that there is a God and I was never him.

So here I be: Ambling down the cobblestones, way in the wee hours,
watching palm shadows dance across ancient facades, mixing and
mingling with mists and vapors from unknown places.

I am old. I am restless. I am exhausted. Frankly, at this point, I
just dont know if I

She was partially hidden in a cramped alleyway somewhere off Market,
and it wasnt one of those exotica, pretty style Charleston alleys-
this one had some empty beer boxes and a dilapidated dumpster. I
wouldnt have seen her but for one leg partially sticking out from the
shadows; but when I looked closer, her eyes conquered. Maybe it was
how they bulged out beyond her gaunt yet pronounced cheek lines; maybe
it was the smudged mascara- Nah. They were what they were: Big and
saucer-shaped and impossible to read.

Being an expert on such matters (bullshit #417), I realized that with
the shoulder length, dirty brunette hair, loose black tank top and
baggy dark pants; this skinny little girl might be Goth or gay or  . .
. And she might have been a cutter based on the profound markings on
her lower arms. Exactly why I stopped and looked at her, I really
dont know. Maybe because we were the only apparitions left playing in
the shadows this time of night. Maybe because . . .

But it was also the way she looked back at me. There was no
conversation, no banter, no innuendo: Just an old man and a wayward
looking girl staring at each other at a strange time and in a stranger
place. We communicated- well maybe, or maybe not- maybe a faith thing,
maybe madness- but just in that solitary moment- in that dark,
shadowed corridor. And it was like speech was not permitted, at least
not until she said: Please, feed me. On any other cynical day, this
would have launched my thinking into, ****, is she a ghost, a
vampire, or what?
But I knew: She was simply talking about food. She was hungry.

We walked together, silently, in the dark, below old Charleston lamps.
We searched. We searched together. There were a couple of strange
grimace-through-mortar type smiles. Sort of. Mostly, it was just
walking. Finally, we found a deserted bar that had some sort of menu.
We sat in the back, in a booth, under pathetically bright light.
Still, stillness, and no talk.

She was a beautiful girl, but thin and dirty, and yet with some aura-
like some underlying, ironic mix of need and power. Sort of like
everything and nothing got together and met at 0. God that sounds
wacked. I really dont know how to describe any of this. She ordered a
sandwich; for whatever reason, I ordered a soda. She gorged. I tried
my best not to look at her, stupidly gazing at antique, rusted
gasoline sign décor.

After only 25 minutes, I somehow knew that it was time for us to
leave; and not only leave the place- but leave each other. How can one
feel the weight of complexity and simplicity all at the same time?
Well, you figure it out; I know now that I never will.

Outside the bar, standing by my side, she softly gripped my right hand
as it lay by my side. She looked up, those saucer eyes, puffy lips;
almost a whisper, Thank you. Is anything worth more than your soul?
I couldnt move, frozen, locked down, and yet some hidden, hysterical
laughter from somewhere deep inside. God, Im just so tired.

Then she slowly looked upward toward the night sky, or maybe just the
old lamppost above us, who knows? She let go of my hand and took a
step back, still looking skyward.

I also stepped back; staggered a bit as my left foot had gone to
sleep- you know that ant-crawly feeling.  She continued moving away,
slowly, one step at a time. I finally asked,  Wait! What is your
name? What just happened?

She smiled, the most abundant, full sincere smile- like a gushing
torrent of innocence or something much bigger than I will ever
understand; but it was real- my God, the realest, deepest of smiles.
Then she replied.

You know who I am. Since the beginning, you have known.
GTR1400 GTR1400
61-65, M
Dec 14, 2012