“Lua” – Bright Eyes
‘I know its really freezing but I think we got to walk….’
It’s a Tuesday Morning; right after the 4th of July holiday. The humidity is already
making its way into my Yankee bones, and when combined with that queasy, vertigo
feeling of returning to work after a long holiday weekend, has a hammering effect on
the crystal condition of my senses.
I am working; I am driving. The traffic is already snarled by the river. And Morning
comes to Middletown.
It’s me and Frank. I am transporting him to his job du jour, this time warehouse work,
and we don’t talk. I rarely talk to my workers in any type of personal way; I could claim
professional decorum, but really its just that I have no ability to edit myself in
conversations, even the most casual. I don’t want to reveal anything about myself, ever.
That could be dangerous. I stare straight out at the morning traffic, as does Frank.
But there are things we share in common, Frank and I. We are both wasted, empty this
morning. A too late night before, too many drugs, too many cigarettes, too little sleep.
Frank is a convict, and I was there his first day. The convicts tend to be my best workers;
they know what they risk, and have little interest in the drama the addicts rely on for
their non pharmaceutical kicks. It’s a circle, of course; every convict is fine till they
pick up the needle; every addict is unpredictable till they get out of jail. Roles get
reversed, the wheel spins.
Meanwhile, I lay my odds not on who will survive, only who will survive the day.
I’m a Labor Pimp: I send out people in transition (to put it kindly) to do slave labor for
little reward. Its not actual slavery; they make a buck. And sometimes, after the
Child Support, after the Garnishments, they get to keep it. This is a circle too; I cant
exist without them. And it’s never lost on me that I could be them with a few missteps.
They are my errant, addicted, dangerous children.
‘But me I’m not a gamble, you can count on me to split’
And a song comes on, pops out of the six CD Changer, in my brand new shiny red car
(which I certainly can not afford); Its ‘Lua’ by Bright Eyes, an album that, despite my
best efforts to resist, I have come to love. And especially this song. It’s a broken-hearted,
broken-voiced tale of addiction among the privileged youth in Manhattan. It’s a tale told
to simple, pretty acoustic guitar and a voice that makes you feel every ounce of the
weight of the words. Its locations are actors lofts, and trains; a tale of Manhattan so far
away from Middletown, so far away from this tangle of traffic and commuters and
pollen on the wing.
‘It takes one to know one, kid, and I think you got it bad…’
It’s a tune we both know intimately, though I’m sure he has never heard it before. It’s a
bout desire. Desire for drugs, desire for another night of excess, desire for human touch,
for love or simple acknowledgement.
It’s about me, stoned and trawling the web for companionship, holding the hits in deeper
and longer till the letters on the screen go fuzzy.
It’s about Frank on the street tonight, copping a dime and shooting up in Harbor Park,
watching the sun trip on the water, all beneath the looming shadow of the Portland Bridge.
A privileged kid sings a song of loss, of little hope for his ‘model’ girlfriend, and a world away,
two men ride out of the suburbs to contemplate it. We’re all taking too many drugs, too often
(only the drugs change). We’re all scared about it, and want to stop.
And I watch Frank out of the corner of my eye. And he looks out the window beyond the river and traffic, beyond anything I could see. He is weighing is own desires, and is a million miles away from Middletown now. And I watch his foot raise and fall in beat to the song. As does mine.
‘Cause what’s so simple in the evening, in the morning, never is’