My dresser has a junk drawer. It’s the top drawer where most people keep their socks and underwear, but since I don’t wear socks or underwear, it’s full of junks. I rarely open this drawer unless I’m adding to the collection, like today. This morning I found a turkey feather while walking the dog and it reminded me of living in Marin, of when feathers were inked and pressed into linen to make pillowcases, of when there was a house with a family, and when there was laughter. I wish I had found laughter, I would put that in the junk drawer instead.
The drawer doesn’t open, so I yank at it and cuss and start sweating and then give up. I make a cup of coffee, take a sip and then go back upstairs to the dresser. The drawer opens this time, my cussing must have loosened it up. I put the feather on top of my Tanzanian Af-Rolex, then stare at these objects that are surely the hallmark of a lonely man loosing his mind. Am I losing my mind? Have I already lost it? Maybe I hid it in this junk drawer for safe keeping. I don’t see anything that looks like a mind in here, just my junks. The Af-Rolex reads 3:13 (oh!) and I smile as Ludacris’ Area Codes comes to visit. “2-1-5s, 8-0-trees (oh!).” Hoes in different area codes. That would be an excellent 4-H scavenger hunt.
It’s time to go now. Put your junks away you little pathetic man. I don’t. Instead I am holding a pewter Indian brave with a drawn bow and a club foot. It was Charlie’s. He loved pewter at age 5. “Pooter” he called it, until Maggie relentlessly harassed him as the Prince of Poo ruling over all Poodom. At age 6, pooter was in a box in the garage during the fire and poodom transformed into a smoldering silver brick. After the fire I broke the lonely remaining brave off at the clubfoot foot, but Charlie was no longer my little Prince. I stand him on the dresser but he falls over on account of his melted foot. “Stand up you bastard.” He never listens. When he does I’ll stop drinking.
So many tools. I used to fix things. My dad’s wooden-handled phillips still molds to my palm, and I turn it over in the morning light. The doorknob on the front door is loose again, and I think of fixing it, but then who would frustrate me when I came home? Who would I cuss at and scold? I put the screwdriver back. This is a broken home and I am Brokemaster Bill.
The Rhodia notebook. “It has special paper daddy!” A notebook to write memos in so I wasn’t so forgetful. I flip it open and it is empty. I forgot to write the memos. I think of writing “it has special paper daddy” but then I guess it’s better to forget that too. I put it back, move some things around until I see a prayer card for Saint Anthony my mom gave me when they left. The patron saint of lost things. “Tony, Tony turn around, something’s lost and must be found.” I bet Saint Anthony is a lot like Santa Claus these days, struggling to keep up with exponential population growth. So many Catholics, all losing their faith and virginity. I miss my mom. I put the card in my pocket so I can remember her at least.
Before I close the drawer I look at one last thing. A stained and crumpled picture of Jeanine. She is holding Charlie, and Maggie is hugging her leg. They are laughing at something, probably I was funny. I could be funny then, before I was broken. We took that picture in Fairfax, near Deer Park. It was really pretty that day, sunny but cool under the redwoods, and you could hear an acorn woodpecker working on a new project in the canopy above. Maggie found some chanterelle mushrooms that we cooked that night in butter and garlic and posted to the family cooking blog “Maggie’s Magic Mushrooms”. Jeanine was happy then, I was working and in love. I wish I had framed the photo, but then it would be a perfect memory instead of the tarnished yellowed old photo that smells like yesterday, if yesterday was a water and smoke damaged garage. No, better that its junk instead of on the wall. I put the picture back, close my junks for the day and go downstairs to where the dog is sleeping. I check to make sure he’s actually sleeping. The dog is very old. When he is gone I will pray to Saint Anthony and my mom that I find the courage to die too.
The house is a disaster, dusty, dark, and it smells like dog urine. I used to clean when I was clean. “Come on you damn Indian brave, stand and let’s clean up this shit hole!” Poodom is not listening. ”Brokemaster Bill signing off for the day”, I say as I take my medicine.