He was there too, for a time, briefly, looking at her. There was a different kind of tension presented in that moment, though, as I surveyed him; his eyes were not soft like John’s, but hard and erratic, moving back and forth in nearly invisible movements. He looked like he was trapped, struggling to restrain himself. Rather than remain passive he followed her and took up the pen. My memory got more vivid as I considered Lucky’s work under Juno’s. It was odd to experience his illustrations from a distance, the finished product first, before seeing them in progress on the screen in the back of my mind.
His illustrations were either crudely violent and sexualized, or a simple quote from a Biggie Smalls classic. “I live for the funk, I’ll die for the funk” was just below and right to what looked like a stick figure pirate standing over a pile of bodies, which was below “I let my tape rock until my tape popped, smoking weed and bamboo, sipping on private stock. ” The pirate was not a friendly drawing. Particularly disturbing were the pirate’s two melon sized tits. Other smaller works included cock monsters and clowns, and under the black light I felt that these things were indicative of something.
It was during these drawings I moved to the corner chair where Juno and John eventually followed me. Caught up with time, I eventually realized Lucky was only feet away from me lying on the couch under the Buddha, the top of his head poking out through a blanket within arm’s reach of me. It was clear he had been alone in that blanket for quite a while. The three of us had been talking, feeling light, and fuzzy, and full of love. Giggling over the joint confusion, jokingly attempting to explain perspectives on the blissfully irrational. “I’ve been thinking about Michael…” His statement came as if from a hole in the ground and left us silent.
No one dared speak but me and even then I spoke with a tip toe tongue. Michael was a climber, like Lucky and myself, who had died in an accident two years before. Everyone had been his friend but me, for I came just after the incident. Despite never meeting him I heard a lot of him through his friends, my friends, and had even received a scholarship made in his honor. All I know for sure is that he was a sweet man with an endearing nature who wore bright colors and carried a boom box.
Everywhere he went he spread love and 90’s rap. And he was one of Lucky’s most treasured friends. What are you thinking? ” Peeking out of his blanket bag his eyes looked like a child’s, trying to focus on something in the distance. “I just feel… We never talked about it. No one really talked about it… We just don’t. Sometimes… I just feel sad; you know? I wish we would talk about it sometimes. ” “I think… I think that is a good idea. Right now might not be the best time though, you know? To really talk about things. Only good stuff. We could think of his smile, and that he is at peace, and that he was happy, right? It isn’t the length of the journey, but the value? He will never feel pain again.
I was speaking in place of many more informed and connected individuals, but yet I was the only one prepared to speak, and so I tried to be gentle without lying. To highlight the pretty parts that I only imagine. “Yeah… you are probably right. At peace…. ” I let out a compassionate sigh to close the conversation. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk about it more but that it was such a dangerous topic for everyone there, and at any moment, dark feelings threatened to turn our vacation into a nightmare. Afterward, I turned towards John who seemed to understand the necessity of light conversation.
We began to talk about smoke and the need for us to add some to the air. With every word and action, every tilt of my head or tap of my cigarette I attempted to emanate confidence and joy. The flickering on Lucky’s face as we executed our charade of safety sparked a memory of my father. Before he left, for good, he tried to live close to me. I would go to his place, a small loft engulfed in darkness, and there was a similar uneasiness. Sometimes he would sit on the floor with his machete beside him, and his eyes would take on a certain glaze as if his mind was not a few inches behind them but far, far away.
I loved him, and I knew he loved me, but it was hard not to be scared of him. My mother told me once that when I was young, maybe a year old, he locked me in a closet and called a friend to come get me. He couldn’t stand to look at me, and thought he was going to hurt me. When I was around him I was sure to act strong, to show no fear. I learned early on that people in pain can’t help but want to hurt things sometimes. It’s a primal urge, underneath the skin, and like a hound it smells and is stirred by fear. It was clear Lucky was in pain, and that for things to remain stable, I had to remain stable.
I was slapped out of this vision when Lucky bolted up onto the couch, the Buddha watching, and grasped the ceiling lamp with both hands, poising himself to rip it out, and held the pose for ten seconds while we frantically attempted to jabber sense into his ear and mind. “What are you doing!? Stop! Stop it now! Do not do that! ” His eyes slowed down and lost a bit of glaze as he slowly became calm and allowed us to guide him to the love seat across the room, light fixtures out of reach, the whole time saying “I’m cool man! I’m cool. No problems, I’m cool. ” This was a red flag, but its randomness made it easy to dismiss.
He got confused for a second and then snapped out of it, no real cause to that, nothing to be too wary of. Regardless, if a man is going crazy it is not a good idea to tell him so repeatedly. Our nonchalance seemed essential. Just feelings man, it’s okay. The love seat was across from my corner diagonally and so although I was facing the others, who sat in a triangle next to me, I had a clear view of Lucky. He was holding a gaze that had been coming and going, one that looked like hard thinking. Unlike earlier, when we were fully unbridled by inhibitions, we now spoke in a guarded tone.
It was as if every word was spaced carefully to ensure the speaker didn’t miss a noise, like a rat or a ghost or a whisper. Even then we didn’t hear the glass leave the table. Lucky stood upright holding a cup of milk like a detonator and we froze like our lives depended on it. Watching him in confusion I struggled to match the tension in the air to the situation before me. What is going on? As if acting on our fears he brought the cup to a 45-degree angle. A real threat. Juno broke the silence with a plea, “Lucky, no! ” but all of us sensed the intention in the air. Some foul substance leaking out from inside him.
Neither his eyes or mouth bore any semblance of a smile as he drilled his stare into each of us in turn. Me. Juno. John. Me. Finally, having made a decision, he looked at the cup and poured it slowly on to the table, milk merging with the cigarette butt covered plates to form rivers of lactic ash that began to dribble off the side. Once the cup was empty Lucky released it and we watched for hours as it fell. Staring at the cup I knew that something was going to be different once it hit. The company had changed. Lucky, as we knew him, was gone. This was someone new entirely. Someone who does not play well with others.