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Thunder Pie | Slightly Blue Comets Up for Anything

Is there a way for me to pull you out of this burning ambulance? There’s not, is there?

“Something I like to do a lot is just sit by water when there’s a current and just stare into the water. I don’t fish, I don’t hunt, I don’t scuba, I don’t spear, don’t boat, don’t play basketball or football – I excel at staring into space. I’m really good at that.”
— Iggy Pop

The dust gets thick on the bookshelves, but what can I do? All the people living here, all that breath and skin. All those crushed leaves and pollen shaking down off our heads like parmesan cheese. Like morning snow and no one’s awake to see it. Bit by bit, the shelves are like curbs and the books are like row houses and the blowing snow, it drifts up in slight heaps at the base of the books like street snow waiting for some kid to kick open the storm door and stick a warm boot in it.

In the living room, Arle drinks a beer and watches the TV. I don’t know what she’s staring at. Probably a true crime thing. A murder. A dead body and the detectives and all of that. Me, I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s only 6 in the evening but it’s already dark and it feels heavy. Outside feels gone. The windows lead to dark nothingness which feels like the house is adrift in space, unmoored and left to slip, quietly and undetected, into the kind of forever none of us could ever understand.

The dogs clack around my feet. Their toenails are too long, which annoys me. I’m rough on them, I think. Sometimes I love them a lot but other times I see them for exactly what they are. Watered-down wolves. Spoiled babies dangling off a wild ledge and waiting to be rescued fifty times a day. I wonder what would become of them if they were set loose out in the forest.

They would die, probably. They are both weak vessels with no strength to win, no drive to kill or fuck or help themselves at anything but following my ass around the house and waiting for a bit of sandwich to fall from a bite I’m taking. Everyone talks about dogs as if they are food for the soul, and I guess they are, but sometimes it’s okay to see them as dumb ass babies too, if you ask me. It’s not tough love or anything. It’s just the way things are.

They shit in the house still whenever they feel like it. They drink water like buffalos, big slicks of it all over the fake wood floor in the kitchen. And I love them and all and blah, blah, blah but sometimes I need to walk away from all the Hallmark bullshit that people talk about dogs and just call it like it is. They’re dumber than rocks, my two dogs. They cry in the rain. Jesus.

I watch Arle and she is wrapped up in a blanket and the dogs come round every few minutes to see if she has turned into an abandoned roast beef but she hasn’t. So they poke their heads in her business and she either grabs their neck and rolls their neck fat a little with the gentle wordless message that a dog owner can convey to the animal in the evening at their will or leisure, or she pushes the massive skulls away like boulders blocking the cave.

Go!, she says, emphatically. Go lay down!

And they scramble then. Dejected. Pissy. Looking back to make sure she’s certain. Looking back to see if she maybe just turned into an abandoned country ham but she has not. She never does. The dogs, they spend their lives wanting to eat us, probably, and we just ignore it/ watch the murder show/ sip a beer/ slip away from all of this for a while.

In the space between the couch and the kitchen I see some of my records laying on the floor. The great dane, I think to myself. Malcolm. He has no concept of his size. He moves through this area always bashing my records with his hind legs and down they go, a couple of them. Duke Ellington, David Allan Coe, Marty Robbins Greatest Hits. I just got all those at the thrift store the other day and now they’re flat out on the floor, their carefully curated stack having been disturbed by a truck that doesn’t even have the faintest idea that he just struck three legends and kept going.

I pick them up and lay them back in the standing line. Out of the corner of my eye I catch Arle looking at her cell phone. I wonder what she’s looking at. I wonder who she is to other people online who see her posts or her photos: her standing in a graveyard/ her standing in the bedroom in a hipster sweater/ her holding a young kid in her arms and smiling a little, a dog in the background, or a ceramic owl or a bookshelf with dust on it that no one can see. No one would give a shit anyways. People mostly don’t care if you have dust on your bookshelf. That comes from inside of us. It comes from inside of me. I get to thinking that I ought to keep my shelves clean, to Lemon Pledge those babies every other day so that the books look better and the people that never come over/ if they ever come over/ they will see that this joint is sparkling. And the books look real fine there with no snow blowing up the front stoop to the spine of the front door.

More than anything, I wish I could talk to Arle right now but I am out there somewhere and I’m lost. In love, we wander back and forth, up and down alleys and streets like beat cops in the old days, tapping on trash cans with our billy clubs, looking for hobos or bags of stolen loot, but what do we find? I find the streetlight glow: the UFO hovering at the end of the block: staring down at me: wanting to know if I am ready to roll/ ready to go/ ready for space and everything that comes with it. In love, we tease our deepest selves with the notion that love is endless and love is plentiful and love has got your back. But none of that is true and only people who have really lived can understand that.

Records on the floor from a reckless innocent, I stand there in this home of ours on a Sunday night or whatever and I wonder if I will ever grasp the reality of this whole thing. Arle on the couch, mired in her own blues, and I know it and I want to help. But depression has always been around me. Inside me. Outside me. Talking to me through other people’s faces and reverberating down my own voice/ across my own head. How do you let a person know that you mean business? How do you ever truly hand a person a feeling, you know?

Like, Here. Take this. Hold it in your hands for a sec, okay? Can you feel that? Can you feel the heat of my heart in your fingers? Do you understand that my thumping pulse is always typing out your name? And that for the first and only time in my long life so far, I know what love is. Real love, I mean. Because of you.

Do you get that?

How can I destroy your sadness? How can I lift you up off of this fucking afghan of railroad spikes? I want to save you so bad because you save me even if I never say that enough. Even if I am a childish man, a simple idiot with a so much baggage. Struggling. Always struggling, dude, to say what I feel inside.

I don’t know.

Is there a way for me to pull you out of this burning ambulance?

There’s not, is there?

I know there’s not.

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Serge Bielanko lives in small-town Pennsylvania with an amazing wife who’s out of his league and a passel of exceptional kids who still love him even when he’s a lot. Every week, he shares his thoughts on life, relationships, parenting, baseball, music, mental health, the Civil War and whatever else is rattling around his noggin. Once in a blue Muskie Moon, he backs away from the computer, straps on a guitar and plays some rock ’n’ roll with his brother Dave and their bandmates in Marah