Halloween II

“Let’s stay and starve the light a little while longer…”

Just a little longer, Blair pleaded- wide eyes, the result of a deliberate evolutionary process; puppies evoking sympathy as their only means of survival; cats as cold, distant bitches with a keen sense of human nature built in to the blood- manipulative, an inherent understanding that people chase what they can’t have. Just a little longer. Everything pushing toward survival- fleeting moments of comfort- everyone hiding from pain; refugees from trauma. Just a little longer- no one wants the night to end; cold and lonely mornings- your reflection looking more haggard by the day; bags under the eyes like sinkholes in sand.

Just a little longer. Get old enough and the goodbyes start to pile up. Perpetually watching dawn intrude on your perfect summer night- the summer between high school and college; infinite possibilities vanquished by the horrible light of the morning sun. Just a little longer- Michael Myers not letting six shots keep him down; determined to keep the party going all night long. Halloween II (1981), picking up where the first left off- more of the night he came home.

Try as you might, but you’ll never get good at goodbyes. They’ll sting every time. A little more taken out of you with each subsequent parting- a tiny bit of HP lost every time, until you wind down to zero; nothing left to give; an empty shell; the sun setting on your last day of summer.

Try as you might but you’ll never beat the clock- relentless heckling with every tick. You think you’ll outlast me? Nothing is permanently indefinite, Vlad- try as you might to stretch things out just a little longer. Everything with an end date- everything expires. Those who don’t get it will pay double on the back-end; thirty-eight years old, face-down in his above-ground swimming pool. Put together with his father when he bought the house- the scent of vinyl burnt into his memory from boyhood. Stand here; hold that. The old man let him have a sip of beer. Thirty-eight. His kids take the week off from school; wife has the pool drained. Thirty-eight and wouldn’t accept that circumstances change; the world’s inertia forcing evolution; trees growing around intrusive power lines; the human animal must adapt.     

Opiate usage must be curtailed in one’s thirties- a fact that’s often misunderstood. Even the attentive drug user, the one who used strategically with gaps in between; days spent silently detoxing- could be caught by surprise; Tony Soprano telling you to have a seat as he reaches for his gun. The change, though invisible, must be anticipated- any miscalculation, however minor; partying like you’re twenty-seven; candyflipping handfuls; six Vicodin to pregame before hitting the town to dance all night, will catch up to you later on. Thirty-eight years old- pills and booze on a Sunday afternoon; a man who knows what he likes, face-down in his above-ground swimming pool because he never learned to say when; to call it a night; to walk away from the blackjack table; Michael Myers bleeding out on the streets of Haddonfield- wanting to drag things out just a little longer.

***

You spend your entire life writing your first album and a few weeks writing your second, said Gene Simmons when tasked to record a follow-up to the band’s stellar debut- KISS (1974), whose track listing contains songs that’ve been in concert rotation for the band’s entire fifty years.

Sequels are tough. The impulse is to go back to what worked the first time- more of the night he came home; Michael Myers hacking his way through suburbia all over again- but this is wrong; devoid of integrity; artistic impurity. The trick is to veer to the left and come up with something new, albeit equally intriguing; higher quality; better than your best- double down on what worked- even more dashes and semicolons; more italics; more video game references; more sex; more drug talk; more pop-culture; more of everything, until you’ve re-written your first book and suddenly you’re the one dragging things out, hacking things to death, just a little longer– maybe I’ll call the next one Hotter Than Hell (1974).

***

Just a little longer. Forty years old and the attention hasn’t tapered as much as it’s transformed. Young men still message for sex but the pleasantries have diminished- the periods of feigned interest; teasing and flirting; awkward conversation and contrived compliments. Offers for sex are made on the front-end and suddenly she’s the one experiencing a fear of missing out. She’ll let him swing by like he’s gassing up his truck, and then she’ll sell the details with a few old selfies to a friend she made on Hinge- he doesn’t have her number but he has her Venmo- all he needs. She wonders why she can’t meet someone normal, but this will do for now- even if it’s only a reasonable facsimile; bite-sized pieces with artificial flavoring- “college girl lifestyle” adjacent. Anything to make things last just a little longer.

Just a little longer, Blair pleaded- cheeks wet with tears, an evolutionary response built into the blood; a means to evoke mercy from torment; reprieve from the insurmountable. People meet later in life and trauma colors the subtext of their relationship- insecurities to consider; topics to avoid; misdirected resentment; anger, jealousy; mistrust. Michael Myers looking up room numbers at reception because he can’t let things go.

Too much of this and people stop trying; no longer romantically viable, you become an untouchable; part of the discarded. The guy dropping money in Venmo accounts because it feels more real than OnlyFans. Too much of this and you’ll never have a serious relationship again- you won’t be able to; you won’t let yourself. 

Everything pushing toward survival; the human animal must adapt- hunched shoulders and tense body language; emotional avoidance. Can’t unlearn what you know; too old to forget. No one can escape the past, Vlad- you’ll never run fast enough to get away from who you are. Stay with someone long enough and eventually things turn serious on their own- the rosebud uncoiling before the horrible morning sun- even if you don’t want the fantasy to end; holding on to starlite; nights and dreams; it’s time, Michael; avoiding the inevitable for just a little longer.

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WELCOME TO HELL

  

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