Monday, April 23, 2012

Nightmare in Seattle

(Seattle, Washington, 1967)
 Space Needle in Seattle, 1967

In 1967, I had gone to Seattle with a friend, and I and him had ended up broke, one evening he had stayed in our rented apartment, and I went with some friends I had met to a party, grim, terrible, empty and envious I was. Hunting in their house for some food, they all looked quite healthy, it was evening and the moon was out, —and I’m not sure at that point how I did it, or how Jeff my partner did it, but we were barely able to starve off Starvation; on my travels, even at this young age of nineteen, such times were infrequent.  In Minnesota where I lived, in St. Paul, I had never gone empty, but now it was one misfortune after another or so it seemed, so that now, I was somewhat hovering in a chair at this house party in the living room, and several fellows and a number of girls, among them one who owned the place and her girl friends were all high on playing rock and roll records, feasting on pieces of ice some drinks, while I was experiencing all these pangs of famine and near hatred  for their easy going lifestyle, it was as if they were enemies waxed strong in my breast.    
       I was hoping by going to this party, there would be food, and I noticed a loaf of bread sitting in the kitchen, on the kitchen counter. It was tantalizing, indeed, to sit there hungry while these young kids: sixteen, seventeen, maybe one or two my age, had  filled themselves so full of food before the party, that their stomachs seemed to almost burst as they danced about, hunger can be a live and living nightmare: and from this experience I’d never deny anyone a slice of bread the rest of my life to this very age I am today, at nearly sixty-five, you don’t forget hunger, and if someone says, has the courage to say, can I have a slice of bread, I would never deny them; but of course this hunger thing didn’t, surely didn’t cross the host’s mind.
       At this time I was assailed by no doubts as to the ethics of grabbing the loaf and just eating it—running with it to hid somewhere and eat it alone, but I asked the girl whose house it was, thinking this was an opportunity to make a sandwich, and she said “No!”
       I thought for sure she’d say: “Of course, go partake in the feast, if a sandwich is what you want go for it.”
        But she insisted it was just a party of drinks and ice, and being cool was chewing on ice: as if the loaf of bread was a carcass, and it would not be keen to partake of the gods, in such a  feast, with bread, I felt as if I was a carrion-eater.

       What I was at this moment was a very hungry wild beast whom  caution was holding in leash, for the greater moment, but I’d have to remain there should I want that loaf of bread, and hope to pass unharmed, because it would be necessary to fight for it, so it appeared, and I couldn’t stand there as they watched me, and I watched them gorge down drinks of soda and whatever and ice, and if there were some scraps thereafter, after they had gone, I would get them—maybe. I was in a stupor, and I didn’t want to beg.  In all my travels I never did beg, nor found it to be the way to go, I’d work, then ask for something, never beg for free food, that was not a man thing, it was a mouse who does that: and in my travels I have met many of them.  They start as kids, and end up as men and old men—mice, always looking for the free handout.   
       It seemed that the greedy would rather burst than give up that loaf of bread, I admit, for a time they had broken up the monotony of eating by their executing portions of ice eating, soda drinking, and dancing,  but once my mind got bored, I was again stimulated, my digestion stimulated to fall again once again, to appalling consumption thoughts.

      It was nearly ten o’clock when I left, they were nearly falling to sleep from exhaustion from their dancing, and trying to make time with the girls, I left them to the orgy of ice and whatever—I was hoping I could snatch a handful of something, but my ethics would not allow me. So I left with a great emptiness grinding my teeth, my stomach gnawing, craving for food, but man can live long without food, it is really water they cannot survive long without; so I learned, for  it was four days with no food, and a week before that with little to no food. 

       On the way home I was going to rob a Boy Scout of some candy he was selling house to house, but I remained true to my ideals,  as tight as a head of a drum, and let him be, then several gang members came towards me, and I didn’t run but dragged myself slowly towards them, then I saw a police car drive by in back of them going the opposite way, and I yelled knowing they’d not hear me but distract the gang, when they turned to see, I ran between two houses and escaped.
       The struggle  for food was short lived thereafter, I had been working, and got paid a few days later, and bought a lot of fast food, food!—only to find out, I couldn’t eat it all, I was trying to gorge myself,  but my body was satisfied with just a small portion of it.
       Well, to make a long story short, Seattle from the word go, from start to end, was one big disaster, but that’s another story.

#906 (4-19-2012)