Much bliss is expected when wind chimes blurt their sporadic tings, providing narration to a silent breeze personified by octaves unified by the pentatonic scales. But I knew this backwoods North Country bloke named Tim that took this blissful venture to its crown, rather he sniffed coke and disemboweled various objects to create (what he coined) recycled wind chimes. He’d sit beside his radio tuned to his favorite FM “Classic Rock” station, splicing the sides of soda cans into thin strips. He kept the strips fastened to the can’s top and base. Then he would run a piece of twine throughout the tops and bottoms of three cans and squish them until they took on the appearance of Chinese lanterns. Placed inside a breeze the cans would twirl and shriek a ghastly melody. This was his life. Years prior to discovering his hobby Tim was in a terrible car accident. He was not at fault, much to his surprise and pleasure, the driver who T-boned him was a multi-millionaire that happened to be drunk as a teenager on prom night. The settlement(or rather bribe) was an astronomical contribution due to the millionaire’s obsession of getting hammered and driving down county roads with no concerns. Any dangerous hobby will cost a person, though. Being that the millionaire was in the midst of jail time he paid Tim whatever it took to keep the police ignorant. This fortune guaranteed Tim an early retirement at the age of 54. It also guaranteed that his coke habit would resurface after 20 years of sobriety.
“An addict with money is a death sentence.” He said.
This understanding did little to curtail his addiction. It wasn’t long until he found himself deep inside the haunts of Hill-Billy taverns, venturing from skinny pock faced fiend to skinny pock faced fiend questioning the whereabouts of his beloved white lady. Eventually one fiend gave in and with lips that were slanted from a seizure promised Tim that the shit he’d get him would leave him numb as an atheist in church. The two men went on a week-long binge that culminated in a fist fight and the promise that Tim would be a returning customer.
I recall one Christmas I spent with Tim. He called me up as I stood by my bedroom window, watching snow dust the parking lot of my apartment building. His words were always frantic and if I didn’t pay attention to the slightest alteration in tone it would result in several repeats that often made less sense as he blathered.
“Hello?” I said.
“What you doing, what’s the haps, having a good Christmas, Budddddddy?”
“Yeah. Not bad. Started drinking some beers. A few in.”
“Ohhhh, yikes, yep, that sounds like you…you…well I don’t know what you are.”
“Person. People. Peaches. Pope. Does the name sake truly matter?” After this statement I contemplated hanging up the phone. I had a decent buzz altering my awareness which I blame for what took place shortly after.
“Why’d you call?” I asked, annoyed.
“Oh. Yeah…Well…I don’t know. I just bought a ball and I am bouncing off the walls and I thought maybe you’d like to be a bouncy ball too?”
“You want me to do blow with you?”
“Shhhh, not so loud you curmudgeon. You want the cops to hear? Hear that clicking. That’s them listening.”
“I don’t hear a clicking.”
“You don’t hear that!” Tim screamed.
“Well. Any…who…skiddymuckagoo…care to join?”
I pulled the phone away from my ear and unfocused my eyes, on the cold glass appeared my reflection. Streaking across my transparent features was the snowfall, pure in its purpose and destination. I could hear Tim humming. I sighed and concluded what the hell. It beats drinking alone on Christmas.
“Yeah, I’ll walk on over.” I said.
“Splendid.” He replied.
I positioned my footsteps inside footprints molded into the snow by strangers. Nike’s swoosh and Adidas’ three tallies trademarked the sidewalk, a compliment of a company’s dedication to promote their product even if it’s placed by a step in poo, or snow. I enjoyed destroying the symbols and observed a communist pride not seen since Latin America threw American companies to the wayside. As I progressed a pacing woman came into focus a block away from where I was advancing. She took a few steps in one direction then turned on her heel and anted toward the other direction. This arrangement of footing continued as I approached her. I recognized her face immediately.
“Shitty Mary,” I said, “what are you doing out in the cold.”
“I can’t remember what I came out here for.” She replied.
Shitty Mary was a conditioned tweaker. Her teeth were sparse and spaced like a classic meth mouth display. She was a well-known prostitute who took advantage of her divided smile by gnawing on her client’s pricks with her worn out gums, a trademark as useful as Nike’s swoosh.
“Well it’s cold darling, you shouldn’t stay out here like this…it is Christmas after all.”
She stopped pacing and wrinkled her brow in a quizzical expression.
I nodded my head in astonishment.
“Damn. I knew I had somewhere to be!”
She then took off sprinting down the sidewalk without a goodbye. I continued toward Tim’s.
When I got to his apartment complex I peered up to his window, I saw someone part the blinds partially, shaking fingers that rattled the shade against the glass. As if sensing I was there Tim abandoned his post and opened the door. From atop he screamed, “hey asshole up here!” I waved and ventured up the stairs, slipping on them (slumlords never salt) as I trekked to the top. We greeted each other in a hug. Tim’s breath was awful, halitosis incarnate. I did my best to avoid it, arranging my nose away from his lips, dawning a double chin from the placement. He didn’t seem to notice my disgust and continued his close quarter’s location until I finally interrupted his rambling and asked if we could go inside. He obliged my question with yes and inside we went.
Tim didn’t have much furniture. In the middle of the living room was a sleeper sofa that doubled as his bed, but was rarely used. In front of the sofa was a wooden coffee table scuffed and worn from his years of ignoring upkeep. Of course strewn across the table were his split soda cans and half-finished wind chimes. Placed beside them was a tiny mirror which had lines of cocaine neatly arranged in 2 sets of 3. I stared at the lines. Tim noticed my gawking and commented, “well. Dig in.” Dig in we did. We turned on the radio and began snorting, Springsteen’s Santa Clause is Coming to Town narrated our joyous intake of chemical splendor followed by Bing Crosby’s White Christmas which seemed more appropriate than the former song. I snorted another line and looked at Tim. A white ring outlined his nostril and I pointed to it. He licked his finger and then shoved it up his nose, eliminating the outline with one moistened stab. ‘Amateurs borrow, professionals steal,’ I thought. For like any hobby that has been perfected from practice Tim understood the motions as well as any fiend. He had the tools needed to cultivate his habit and understood that when things turned strange from heavy abuse he’d simply need to take a few pills to calm his nerves and settle inside the comfort of a fleece blanket and watch sitcom reruns on his tube TV. Was it a sad existence? I guess I don’t have the insight to critique either way. He seemed happy overall; he had enough money to supply his habit and enjoyed the occasional hummer from Shitty Mary. Measuring happiness by using moral standards as a ruler is a paradox, considering how every mortal sin provides joy. Who’s to say what’s good anyway when law contributes its own failures on a hourly basis, we all succumb to some sort of crutch to make it through life’s follies. I brought this thought up to Tim after a few hours.
“What do you think the point to life is?” I said.
He scratched his unwashed hair; some follicles continued standing after he pulled his fingers away, a testament to his lack of hygiene.
“Well…ya know…I almost had the accident. I mean. Well. I almost died, Right?”
I nodded my head.
“And like, well, I wasn’t scared. It was like, well, ya know, I was in the hospital room when I came to. All these shocked faces were staring down at me, this expression like HOLY SHIT HOW ARE YOU ALIVE!” He broke off the sentence and leaned forward to snort a line. “Then that millionaire came in shortly after that…he was more afraid than me. Afraid of what was going to happen to him…ya know…his freedom. He begged me. Begged I tell ya! Not to say nothing. At that moment I was in full control. Suddenly it didn’t matter, anything, your income or what have you. I guess…I am in love with that moment. I guess that’s the meaning to life.”
“What’s that?” I said, leaning in, wide eyed enamored by his story.
“Freedom. To always be in control. To make the millionaires and elites afraid of you. To show even doctors and even death that you can cheat them. That you can win.”
I grinned and held it there for a while as if I had attained a Glasgow smile from an invisible blade. We hung out until sunrise at which point I went home and rested on my bed, studied the rhythm of my frantic heart. I fell asleep wondering who would give up control first, my heart or me.