The 17th Floor

by Fielding Goodfellow

I have wandered through this life travelling the roads less traveled, more often traveled, and, at times, the road that hasn’t been traveled at all. In the haze brought on by years of semi fabulous addiction, I have confronted my demons and come out on the other side of the madness relatively unscathed, with the knowledge that the choices I made would forever be my cross to bear. For those, who through no fault of their own, find themselves drowning in a world they can neither control nor understand, there is little hope that the faint aroma of sanity that lingers in the air while they stumble around in the darkness, will provide any relief for their tortured minds. There were times when I found myself tasting clarity and hope, and there were times when all I could swallow was the confusion and fear. I paid it very little mind however, as I sailed through an imaginary world housed in a sky of blue and a sea of green, that I created with the help of psychedelic hallucinogens.

But the kid is not having it so easy. Unable to out run the unrelenting darkness that often controls her thoughts and envelops her mind like a coastal fog, she has lost her way. Sometimes it just gets too overwhelming, like a thousand voices speaking at once, overloading her senses until the sound is indiscernible. It just becomes noise. That’s how she explains it. That’s what she lives with everyday. So, she sits in an off white and gray room on the 17th floor of St. Michael’s Hospital,  as they seduce her with a variety of psychotropic medications in an attempt to stifle the sounds in her head. She tells me that there are four thousand, three hundred and sixty-two dots on the ceiling tiles, which she has counted several times, and I believe her. She is for now, free of the overwhelming thought that her life is not worth living.

The problem, aside from the shit that’s going on in the kid’s head, is the system itself. It is completely fucked. In the name of progress, which is peculiarly subjective, it has become nothing more than a catch and release program, sending those who have wandered in dark circles out into the light armed only with a pharmaceutical cocktail that leaves them confused and bewildered. She is on the wait list for psychotherapy, and could possibly be waiting for twelve to eighteen months for someone to sit down with her and help work through the disoriented thought processes that have led her to the precipice.  In the meantime she attends groups on mindfulness and goal setting and continues to scarf down handfuls of assorted pills designed to combat her anxiety and depression.  There’s nothing else to do. The unit is bland, and the boredom and desperation that drifts through the corridors is enough to fill anyone with despair. You think that they would try to bring some life and laughter into this circus. A clown or two, or perhaps a couple of puppies would certainly brighten the disturbing melancholy. But the residents of the 17th floor at St. Michael’s Hospital have little else to do other than wander up and down the hallways sharing their stories of depression, anxiety, and angst with each other.

The issue, as I see it, is to discover the cause of those feelings. This is not a new problem. The kid has been on anti-depressants for years, and has been involved in therapy for the customary eight session regimen with no improvement. After almost a decade of suffering she had finally had enough, and stepped out into oncoming traffic. She said that she couldn’t resist the overwhelming urge to do it, but once out on the road, facing the oncoming traffic, she suddenly realized that she didn’t really want to die. Not then, anyway. She continues to ponder taking her own life, as the fear and uncertainty that she must combat daily, continues to strengthen, leaving her very little energy to practice her mindfulness. I continue to visit her, hiding my fear, and anxiety, and guilt. There is an awful lot of guilt, floundering around in all of the what I should have dones and what I could have dones, overshadowed only by the fear that she may try something like this again. I know that she will be released at some point in the near future, and it scares the shit out of me. I don’t know how to keep her safe. and I don’t even know how to talk to her anymore. She just seems so fucking unhappy all of the time. I am afraid that the system will fail her, like it has failed so many others and I am fearful that I won’t be able to fix  the systemic problem that permeates mental health treatment. There is no clarity. The waters have become murky as we devolved in the name of  positive change that should be of benefit to all, yet the cost of that change is so often far beyond the reach of those who would benefit the most.

I wait with very little patience, trying desperately not to shout “wake the fuck up” to the pod of psychiatrists that, while amiable enough as they swim by, are just fucking dickheads. The kid has begged me not to speak with the doctors or nurses for fear that I might embarrass her when I tell them what I really think. I sit quietly, profoundly concerned that she won’t to talk to me, as she works on a ‘feelings’ crossword puzzle. I imagine that she thinks that I’m ashamed or angry. I am neither. In fact I am surprisingly proud of the kid for realizing that she needed help. It took a great deal of strength, and a significant amount of courage to admit it to herself. I think I’ll tell her, and despite the Interns and nurses who seem to spend most of their time tripping the light orgasmic in the storage closet, I think she’ll be alright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saddles & Spurs

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

William Temple had been called Billy T since second grade when that shithead Billy Kramer showed up at Rockford Road Public School. Pretty soon everybody was calling him Billy T, including his family, despite the fact that he hated it. But as far back as any of us could remember, he had always been Billy T. Every now and then he would hang around with us on our path of self destruction and spectacular feats of daring. We were, after all anti heroes, protectors of all that was good and right with a dark side, willing to bend or break whatever  stood in our way.

Billy T  was just a little guy who dreamed of being a jockey, although we regularly suggested that he would have made a great midget wrestler. In the days when the world was kept safe by a flying squirrel and a moose, and hipster douches kept their man buns hidden behind closed doors and drawn curtains, I had convinced myself that I had become a gunslinger, hanging around the Ok Coral, fighting off the Clantons, and then encouraging and enticing Billy’s sister, Veronica, to ride me off into the sunset.

It went back to the days of watching westerns with the old man, catching glimpses of Linda Evans in ‘The Big Valley’, and Raquel Welch in ‘100 Rifles’. I was a big fan of westerns, but even then I was more interested in tits and ass than I was in guns and horses. With a head full of pharmaceuticals that took me up and down like an escalator, I was captivated by every movement of Veronica’s body. Particularly the subtle ones, and with her tight jeans, cowboy boots, and white t shirt  that I was certain had been painted on, with the words ‘I LOVE TO RIDE’ printed across her chest, she not only stirred my loins, but whipped and beat them into a state of frenzied excitement. As she rode past, with tits heaving in rhythmic harmony to the horse’s gait and thighs tightly clamped around the mare, the salute in my pants stood at full attention.

“Interested in a ride today?”, she asked as she passed.

“Only if you’re the guide.”, I replied.

“Think you can handle one with an attitude?”, she questioned.

“Are we talking about the horse or the guide?”, I inquired.

“You’re funny.”, she told me. And while Billy T, Farberman, and Tate stood by the fence that circled the coral, Veronica and I headed into the stable to saddle up some horses.

Billy T was the first one out of the barn and man could he ride. He was almost standing with his feet firmly in the stirrups with no weight on the animal’s back. He said that it gave him more control and it was easier on the horse to ride that way but it didn’t appeal to me. Not one bit. I preferred to ride with the reckless abandon of the Spaghetti Western, to simply jump on and ride like fuck. The horses never really seemed to mind. Old cowboy tunes started playing in my head as Veronica led us through the ravine and across the creek. It happened every time I got on a horse. This time it was Gene Autry’s ‘Back In The Saddle Again’ and ‘I’ve Got Spurs’ melding together to create one somewhat indiscernible song, although I suppose it could have simply been the pills.  Not that it mattered. The sun was up, the air was clean and sweet, and Veronica was galloping towards me with her long, dark hair flowing in the breeze, and her wonderful tits bouncing up and down like balloons riding a wave, hypnotizing me into a state of total submission.

“Billy T’s hurt.”, she shouted as she raced past. “I gotta get help.” Tate , Farberman and I headed off to where we had last seen Billy T, and there he was, laying on the ground just a few feet from the embankment with his leg all bent and twisted, his riding crop still in his hand.

“You okay?”, Farberman asked.

“Do I look okay?”, Billy T responded, motioning to his leg.

“What the hell happened?”, Tate inquired.

“I don’t know.”, Billy T told us. “It was weird. All of a sudden the horse just reared up and I went flying across the field. It was like he got spooked or something. I think there’s something down in the ravine.”

Help arrived in the form of two ranch hands who loaded Billy T onto a flatbed and transported him to the hospital. Tate and Farberman headed down into the ravine in search of whatever might be down there, while Veronica and I followed the makeshift ambulance to the hospital. She was beautiful when she was worried, and despite the fact that Billy T was probably going to lose a leg, all I could think about was introducing her to the hard on I had been carrying around for most of the day. We sat in silence for a while, with me thinking about taking the official tour of her body, and Veronica probably thinking about her brother’s mangled leg, until the conversation unexpectedly took a turn that I never saw coming. “How come you’ve never hit on me?”, she asked.

“What do you mean?”, I asked her.

“Well”, she continued, “you never make comments about my body or make any rude remarks about what you want to do to me. Don’t you like me?”

“Are you kidding me?”, I asked. “Of course I like you. All day long I’ve been walking around with a hard on. Just looking at you makes me hot as hell.”

“I can take care of that for you.”, she assured me.

“Now?”, I inquired.

“Why not?”, she replied. “We’re here, we’re alone, and you’re certainly ready.”, she continued as she rubbed her hand across my crotch. We popped some Benzedrine and jumping into the back seat of the car set off on a journey of rowdy, western sex complete with the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, and some of the dirtiest talk I had ever heard as she rode me off into a glorious sunset. By the time we reached the hospital, Billy T had his leg immobilized and stabilized, and was scheduled for surgery the next day.

Tate and Farberman found nothing in the ravine other than poison ivy or poison oak. Either way, their arms were red, swollen and itchy. Billy T. had a metal rod and several pins inserted in his leg, making it relatively useless, and ending his dream of being a jockey. He never rode again, but he wound up designing some kind of safety device to protect jockeys from falls, and is still very much involved in the horse racing industry. Tate went on to become a writer, publishing several books, and moved in with an artist named Ramona. Farberman continued with his scientific interests and found work with the government until his untimely and suspicious disappearance. Veronica continued leading trail rides at Rocking Horse Ranch, and started dating one of the ranch hands. We never slept together again, and to be honest, I was already beginning to lose interest in her. I suppose that it all just disappeared like a puff of smoke. She was an insanely fun ride, but she really had nothing else to offer me. She was somewhat of an idiot. I saw her once or twice more in passing, and while we were cordial, I had no interest in talking to her. I would have continued banging the hell out of her if she would have let me, but she was taking her new found relationship with Festus or Cleetus or whatever the ranch hand’s name was quite seriously. Years later I heard that she had joined some traveling rodeo show and had come out of the closet as a card carrying member of the League Of Lesbians. I continued my life as a gun slinging anti hero, travelling a path of self destruction while engaging in spectacular feats of daring for many years, and often times find myself inadvertently walking that path again. I’m not surprised really, I mean, we always seem to go back to what we know and who we are. The rest is all just pretense and make believe, and at this stage of my life I have no time for that shit.

The Road To Sedation

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

She liked to tease me by sitting on the arm rest of the couch wearing one of my shirts and nothing else, with her legs spread slightly apart, just enough for me to see the prize that lay there. I liked it too. That was just her kind of foreplay, a little game of ‘look what I have for you, later’ that never ended the way she had imagined it would. Despite a feigned struggle to defend her virtue which had long since been lost, later arrived much sooner than she had planned.

I suppose that I should start at the beginning. Gabrielle was a graduate student majoring in contemporary English literature who asked if she could interview me as part of her thesis even though I was not English or contemporary. I was merely a drug infused scribbler of fables and foibles, which I was certain she would quickly uncover. Twenty minutes into an interview that took place at The Blue Parrot, she asked me why I became a writer. The first thing that came out of my mouth was “I have a lot of pens.”,

“Are you ever serious?”, she asked.

“I’m always serious.”, I told her.  “That’s not humor you’re hearing. That’s sarcasm.”

“Are you always sarcastic?”, she queried.

“As often as possible.”, I informed her. She laughed, we drank, and I took her home. We sailed through the Sea of Space and the Sea of Time that night, most likely a direct result of the peyote we had consumed in the cab and now, faced with the delightful task of traveling through her seemingly endless desires, I took up residence in the paradise between her thighs while she took up permanent residence in my one bedroom apartment. Not that I minded, I mean she was wickedly improvisational in bed, and wonderfully astute at keeping up with my constantly derailing train of thought.

“I think I think I’d like to be a nihilist.”, she blurted out one evening.

“Not likely.”, I replied. “I don’t believe nihilists enjoy sex.”

“Really?”, she asked.

“I think one would be hard pressed to find a couple of nihilists who thought there was any point to it.”, I replied. “And I’m not sure they’d have the energy. Its a lot of hard work to maintain that level of pessimism and skepticism. Now, if you put a bunch of naked hedonists in a room, well, then you’d have an orgy of epic proportions.”

“We should try it.”, she said.

“I thought we just did.”, I responded.

“I mean we should have an orgy.”, she clarified.

“Generally speaking, I’m not comfortable getting naked around other men.”, I told her.

“Me either.”, she replied. “I was thinking more of a couple of other women.” There have been very few moments when I have felt like jumping into the air and screaming with joy. This was one of those times. “That would still be an orgy, right?”, she asked.

“The best kind.”, I advised. And that was just how it was. Everything just seemed to be that easy.

Sometimes we would wander down Yonge Street and sifted through the bins at A & A’s and Sam The Record Man, or wandered through Yorkville, stopping to sit on a stoop somewhere near where The Riverboat or The Penny Farthing once stood where you would have been able to listen to the flower children sitting cross legged across the road singing songs about peace and contentment, The music filled the street back then, and sitting there under the shadows of the high priced hotels and high end retailers, and under the influence of drugs that made us larger and smaller and opened our minds and eyes, Gabrielle put her head on my shoulder, and clasped her hands around my forearm. We were living in our own time of sex, and drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.  As we drifted away on a drug induced calm we could sit there for hours, still amazed by Sergeant Pepper, Pet Sounds, and The Yes Album.  We remained silent for as long as we could, but sometimes shit just happens.

“I think I want to have a baby.”, she whispered.

“A baby what?”, I asked.

“A baby.”, she continued, “Our baby. You know, a kid.” Thoughts were racing around my head, too fast for me to grab hold of any one of them. I knew I wasn’t ready for this, and I had always been certain that I had no real emotional attachment to Gabrielle. It was all just about the sex really, the wonderfully perverse, sweaty sex. I didn’t love her. She was merely a joyride in the road trip that had been my life. I struggled to find anything to say. Nothing seemed appropriate.

“I’m not ready for this, Gabbi.”, I told her.

“Well I suppose I can wait until you;re ready”, she said.  A shot went off in my head like a rocket exploding, and I realized that I had no choice but to tell her what I had always hoped I would never have to say.

“Here’s the thing”, I began.. “I probably should have said something a long time ago, but I don’t love you. I just don’t have those kind of feelings for you.”

“What?”, she asked. “All this time I’ve been falling in love with you, planning a life with you and you didn’t think it was important to let me know that you have no feelings for me!”

“I don’t know what you want me to say”, I told her.

“I don’t want you to say anything. You’re such an asshole.”, she said as she stood up and walked away.

I sat on that stoop for a long time, trying to sort it all out. When I returned to the apartment, all of her things were gone. I looked for her at the University, I suppose to apologize for what she saw as leading her on, but her friends informed me that she had left school and moved back home, although no one seemed to know exactly where that was. I never saw or spoke to her again and, while I had managed to leave it all somewhere in the psychedelic sedation of the hallucinogens I would routinely abuse every now and then, when I hear ‘Perpetual Change’ I thank God that I was such an asshole and let her walk away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feet First

by Solomon Tate

“I think my body’s starting to get old.”, my wife informed me.

“No way.”, I told her. “It looks fine to me.”

“I’m glad you think so.”, she said. “But stuff’s starting to drop and sag. At least my feet are still perfect.”, she added. “Look at how cute they are.”

“They’re adorable.”, I responded.

“No, really.”, she went on, sensing my sarcasm. ” Each toe is perfectly spaced from the one before.They’re absolutely perfect.”

“Well I know it thrills the shit out of me. Do you want some tea?”, I asked as I headed into the kitchen.

“No thanks.”, she replied. “I think I’m going to have to measure them to make sure they’re perfect.”

My wife has always had a thing about her feet. Me, well, not so much. I am not a foot person. But in the lifetime I have spent with this woman, I have feigned an appreciation for them, with particular emphasis on her toes. “It’s amazing.”, she said as I returned to the bedroom to see her holding a tape measure against her foot. “My toes are perfectly spaced.”

“I always thought so.”, I stated.

“You have to see this.”, she insisted as she measured the height of each toe. “See. They’re perfectly proportional.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”, I said. “I’m really not a foot person. If you want me to examine your thighs, I could be enticed to give it a whirl.”,

“I know you would.”, she acknowledged. “And I appreciate the gesture. But we’re talking about my feet.”

“Perhaps you should become a foot model.”, I advised her.

“Maybe I should.”, she said.

“You’d have to get them insured first.”, I suggested. “Like Jennifer Lopez’s ass, or Heidi Klum’s legs.”

“Really? I can do that?”, she asked.

“If they are cute and perfect enough to be modeled, they’re gonna be worth millions.”, I informed her. “What would happen if you developed Athlete’s Feet, or lost a few toes in a wood chipper? Ten toes should be worth about ten million dollars if they were no longer so cute and perfect.”

“I don’t think my feet are worth much.”, she informed me. “Not yet anyway. I’ll look into it if I start to get a lot of work.”

And then, without any notice, she decided to do it. I should have anticipated it, I mean, she gets like that. She immersed herself in learning everything she could about becoming a foot model. She contacted several agencies, and managed to secure an agent. A shoot was arranged to build a portfolio that could be submitted to potential advertising agencies that involved three and half hours of photographing her feet in various foot wear and nail polish. Comments were made about just how perfect her feet were. They were so perfect, that there were even some nudes taken of her feet, which I assumed were to be used in the adult foot industry. Not long after, she was offered a job to model a line of toe nail polish. She was excited as hell, and I suppose, I was proud of her.

A few days before the shoot there was a crisis. The unimaginable happened. It was catastrophic. “Look at this!”, she shouted.

“What?”, I asked.

“My big toe.”, she explained as she pointed. “What the hell is that on my toe?”

“Shit.”, I said. “I think its a callous.”

“How the hell did I get a callous?”, she asked. “What am I supposed to do now?”

“There’s not much you can do until you get it scrapped off.” I said. “I think its a pretty simple procedure.”

“I can’t have a scar.”, she advised. “No one wants a foot model with big scar on her foot.”

“I don’t know what to tell you.”, I said. “I don’t think there’s any scaring. The doctor just shaves it down. See what the doctor has to say.”

“The shoot is in two days.”, she reminded me.

“I know.”, I said with as much support as I could muster.

It turns out the callous was not a callous. It was a bunion. It could not be treated in the two days left before the shoot. My wife was forced to decline the job offer. The bunion was treated, but she received no further offers. It appears that she was blacklisted due to foot problems. It seems that having foot problems is not conducive to being a foot model no matter how perfect or cute your feet are. The dream was over. “I should have taken out the foot insurance.”, she told me.

She retired her feet, but still sits on our bed, in the wee hours of the night, and talks to me about her feet. She continues to measure them on a regular basis to ensure that they remain cute and perfect. I nod and grunt in agreement, patiently waiting for her to notice just how perfect her thighs are.