HEAVY WAIT: A Strange Tale, by Sloan Bashinsky
Lousie’s comment about “Heavy Wait” posted to goodmorningfloridakeys.com:
I ordered ‘Heavy Wait’ about a month ago and it arrived in the mail Friday. I finished it last night. Could hardly put it down and if my eyes had cooperated a little longer I could have gotten through it in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday.
I enjoyed it very much, laughed out loud (heartily) many times and enjoyed the twists and turns and surprises. I think you should write another novel soon. And I can say, I would look forward to reading it. For now I think I will read, ‘Kill All The Lawyers.’
I’m glad you enjoyed “Heavy Wait.” You must be crazy. I wrote about that tale today, not yet knowing of your comment to which I am now responding. I usually get a notice in my email account of a new comment but had not received notice of yours. Something “told” me a little while ago to check the comments, and voila, I found yours.
I wrote “Kill All the Lawyers? – A Client’s Guide to Hiring, Firing, Using and Suing Lawyers” in 1985. My farewell to the practice of law. Nothing like “Heavy Wait,” which was from the spiritual dimension. More like something Ralph Nader might have written in 1985, “Kill All the Lawyers?” was. “Heavy Wait” killed a few lawyers, though, and I imagine it would kill a lot more, if lawyers were to read it. A different kind of killing, of course.
I looked online yesterday for how to get “Heavy Wait” and didn’t see much. Most of the book sellers were out of stock, but I saw it is still being promoted by the online print-to-order publisher, PublishAmerica.com. Easy enough to go to that website, open the bookstore page, and type “Heavy Wait” in the blank space provided, and press entere or search, or whatever. Even easier to click on the handy web link provided above. PublishAmerica will tack on about $8 in handling and shipping, bringing the total close to $28.
What I sometimes wondered was, would I write a sequel to “Heavy Wait”? I started something last year (2009) that was so bizarre it was just creeping out of me, instead of flowing like “Heavy Wait” had. Meaning, because of the creeping, it was really bizarre. Even so, my dreams were supporting it, and then someone stole my backpack with my laptop in it out of the Internet Cafe where I was playing chess, and that was the end of the sequel, because the back up disk was in the laptop. I had part of of the frolic backed up on one of my websites, but I don’t think I could have reconstructed the parts that were not there, and it went by the wayside.
Maybe I should write a novel entitled “Kill all the Humans.” Not necessarily in the gun and bullet sense exactly, but probably some of them might be better off to be taken out that way.
Louise’s reply, and my response:
Ha Ha Ha ~ I’m glad you enjoyed “Heavy Wait.” You must be crazy. ~ You may be right.
From your post ~ “Heavy Wait” killed a few lawyers, though, and I imagine it would kill a lot more, if lawyers were to read it. A different kind of killing, of course . . . ~ Of course.
And last, but not least ~ Maybe I should write a novel entitled “Kill all the Humans.”
Just write another novel. Begin.
Tell me, Louise. Do you nag your husband and relatives and friends, too? But then, maybe you herald a new novel coming out of me. If so, She, that is, my Muse will make her sentiments known when she’s ready, and if history is any test, she will be insistent. Sloan
Historical trivia about the wannabe novelist, ahem, moi:
“Heavy Wait” was the fourth novel to hatch out of me. It’s genisis is told in the long wending strange tale of introduction last below. The first novel was published by Dorrance Publishing Co., which is a vanity press. The next two novels only were published in prototype form. All four novels were weird-squared. Weird-squared begin about one year after “Kill All the Lawyers?” was published by Prentice-Hall in 1986. The third best-seller book P-H mangled for me. Thereafter, I published the books that fell out of me, about 20 in all, of different sizes, shapes, flavors, mostly non-fiction and poetry, and the novels, which sometimes were accused of being non-fiction, while my non-fiction sometimes was accused of being fiction. What’s a wannabe author to do? Fuck if I know.
Anyway, here’s the genisis of “Heavy Wait” that fell out of me about a week ago. Today is 2 May 2010. The genisis is as weird as the tale itself, but you won’t have a clue what the tale is about after reading the tale about how the tail got wrote. Not a clue. Cheers!
Open Heart Surgery
Today is Thursday. Monday at dawn a week ago, my father came in a dream and said, “You will have open heart surgery in a week.” I stewed over that advisory, wondering what it really meant.
Word the came of the not entirely unexpected death of an old dear Birmingham lawyer friend Roben, who’d had emergency open heart surgery two years ago . . .
The following Monday morning brought a phone call from a north Georgia redneck, who once majored in English Literature at Mercer College in Macon, Georgia. He was the president of the Mercer chapter of Kappa Alpha Order during his junior year. I was a member of the Vanderbilt chapter of the same fraternity some years before. Not president, not any officer. I despised politics then. Now I hate politics.
Anyway, my friend, who lives on the outskirts of Helen and manages 6,000 acres and a retreat center for the State of Georgia, he’s a real tree hugger, this one, called last Monday to tell me of a curious thing that had happened the day before. A fellow he knew up that way dropped by to tell of seeing on Fox News online of one Richard Parrot, aka Birdie McClaine, a street performer hanging out around Ft. Myers, Florida, having had his ventriloquist dummy stolen out of his vehicle.
The fellow had known Birdie a good while, but had not heard from him for some time because Birdie had gotten in a jam over non-payment of child support up Michigan way, and had spent some time in the pokey over it, and, as I recall hearing from another of Birdie’s friends, an English street performer known in the trade as Gazzo, had been on a tracker and confined to that local in up Michigan way for a while.
The fellow found an old cell phone number for Birdie and called him and, yep, Birdie answered. On hearing this, my friend told Birdies friend he knew somebody who might like to have Birdie’s phone number, that somebody being me, and that’s how I got Birdie’s cell phone number yesterday, and called him. When I said, “Is this Birdie McClaine?” and he said, “Yes,” I said, “This is Sloan.” When he said, “Sloan Young, Heavy Wait,” I said, “Yes, that Sloan.” He was driving somewhere, his reception was poor, he had burned up most of his daytime minutes on his cell phone over the news interviews and said he would call me back that night after 9 p.m.
Right about then I was starting to think maybe this might somehow have to do with open heart surgery, for I had written about a heart-breaking experience with a California friend and the novel HEAVY WAIT – A Strange Tale just before receiving the phone call from the north Georgia English Literature major, who had read the manuscript in 2005, as I recall, and said it sure wasn’t literature but he liked it anyway. Like I was trying to write fucking literature. Like I was trying to write anything. The darn tale just up and orgasm-ed out of me. That that’s where Birdie comes into this strange tale about a maybe even stranger tale.
Back in late April 2001, I was spending nights on flattened cardboard boxes in the doorway next to the bookstore on Fleming Street in Key West. I was doing this because it was as far away from the local mosquito population I could find in Key West at night. I also was doing this because I didn’t have any money.
The day before, Gazzo, whom I’d gotten to know pretty well from watching his ribald act maybe 100 times on Mallory pier, and from watching him play chess at Sippin’ Internet Cafe on Eaton Street against Russian and Bulgarian assassins, and some American assassins, too, said he was headed north for the summer. North to Boston, where his American wife and child lived. I asked if he had room for a rider? He said yes. I said let me sleep on it, and if I was going, I’d be at Sippin’ waiting on him the next morning.
That night in my condo room next to the bookstore, or rather just before dawn the next morning, I dreamt of watching a street performer wearing a black derby had riding a 6-foot-tall unicycle, teaching me how to do my own street act. Well, Gazzo wore a black derby had, and even though he didn’t ride a unicycle, his was a sleight-of-hand, ribald humor show, I took the dream as a go. So when Gazzo showed up at Sippin’, I said I was ready to go, and off we went. I didn’t have a penny on me, but I did have a food stamp card with a couple of months left on it.
En route, Gazzo said he wanted to drop by Helen, Georgia to see Birdie? Did I have a problem with that. Like I was in a hurry to get to New England, to drift around for the summer. A place where I knew no one. And flat broke. No, I wasn’t in a hurry. Sure, let’s go see Birdie. I went through Helen once before, on a white water canoeing trip. It looked like the fakey-ist town I’d ever seen, all that pretend Bavarian architecture facade. Maybe I would like it better this time.
I’d already me Birdie maybe a month before, when he came over from Ft. Myers to see Gazzo. Birdie had used to perform on Mallory Pier, but had gotten tired of the political infighting among the performers and the people who ran the Sunset Celebration. And he had felt his act was better suited to a place like Ft. Myers, where there weren’t so many performers, and he didn’t have to fight and scrap to be heard and to have time to do his act.
Gazzo said he and Birdie were going to Stick n’ Stein, to watch a championship boxing match, did I want to join them? Sure, I said I liked good boxing. Gazzo said this would be a good match. So I went, and it was a good match, although now I don’t remember who the fighters were.
All of this was tucked away in my bird brain when we pulled into the outskirts of Helen one afternoon, and Gazzo said he wanted to head into the town center, instead of to Birdies’ palce outside of town, to catch Birdie’s act on the town plaza. No problem, I said. The problem, sort of, came after we parked and walked the short distance to where Birdie performed, and there he was, up on his 6-foot unicycle, in a black derby hat, moving into the climax of his street act I had never seen before except in a dream in my condo next to the bookstore on Fleming Street in Key West.
After Birdie was done with his act, we had dinner at the upstairs Chinese restaurant overlooking the plaza where he performed. Then we headed up to his place some miles distant on a lake retirement community for the night. I got to sleep in the home of Birdie’s girlfriend, who was still in south Florida.
The next morning, Birdie came and told me Gazzo had told him I write books? Was that so? Yes, I had written quite a few books, I siad. Had I ever written a novel? Yes, three novels, I said. Would I like to hear a storyline for a great movie he’d had for a long time, which first would need to be written as a novel? Sure, I said.
After he explained the plot, I nearly fainted. When he asked if I liked the plot, I said yeah, I liked it. When he asked if I could write a novel using that plot, I said it should be too hard, since I’d lived a great deal of the plot just the year before. Now Birdie was looking a bit slack-jawed. He got to looking a bit more slack-jawed when I told him about the dream in the condo doorway the night before I left Key west, and of my going slack-jawed when I saw his street act for the first time in Helen.
When I said I would need a place to stay, he said he would get me a tent and I could use the nearby communal bathhouse to shower and use the bathroom. Sounded great to me. When I said I would need a computer to write the book, he said the Helen library had a computer he never saw anyone use; we would go to the library and see if I could use it to write the book. No problem, the were happy for me to use the computer, as long as I gave it up if someone else wanted to use it.
The next day, the book started falling out of me. After a session of writing, I printed it out to take home and look over and mark for corrections. The next day, I corrected the draft on the floppy disk I was using to back up the manuscript, and the next morning I would make the corrections first, then the next installment would fall out of me. For a while Birdie kept up reading the installments, but he fell away when after the first “X-rated” scene passed by.
I never wrote a novel that didn’t have “X-rated” scenes, and I doubt I ever will write one that doesn’t. People who had read one or more of the first three novels had suggested maybe I had a career in pornographic literature, but that didn’t interest me at all. Part of life is supposed to be passionate, fun and disgusting. Human beings are designed for it. So at different moments in tales that gush through me, come some really hot and steamy rolls in the hay. People who can’t deal with that probably never had the experience themselves.
Anyway, the tale moved along a portion each day, six days a week. I would have written on Sundays, if the library had been open. Six weeks after it started, it was finished. Once during the writing, I tried to alter the final outcome and was roughed up pretty good in dreams that night following. Another time I got to a place in the plot and didn’t know how to turn the next corner, and I was told in a dream that following night how to do it. The final product, totally alien to anything Birdie would have designed, was fully in keeping with his plot.
I was told in a dream, during the middle of the writing process, that Birdie now reading the tale as it fell out of me was causing problems. As was his his doing something else he should have been handling differently. When I shared that advisory with him, nothing changed. Maybe it’s all coming back around now, for another run at it. Or maybe it’s coming back around for a final song.
What I feel moved to say about the tale is, as it was falling out of me, I was getting to know a woman who eventually would become my wife. Before I knew about that, although she already pretty well saw it coming, I kept telling her the book was being written by God. I didn’t tell her, or anyone but Birdie, anything about the story, though. When finally it was finished, a new friend, who also was a friend of my brother Major, made copies of it after he read it. He was the first person to read it.
I gave a copy to the woman I didn’t yet know was going to be my next wife, but she wasn’t so clueless. Then, the most peculiar thing started happening. Everytime she tried to sit down and read it after work, something happened to interrupt her. After a while of this, I told her it was the Devil sending the interruptions. She didn’t believe me, but after it kept happening, she started thinking maybe I was right. Finally she got her dander up and stayed up all night reading it from start to finish. When she saw me the next day, she told me about staying up all night and said the book indeed was written by God.
It would have to have been written by God, for it to end so not to my liking. If the Devil had written it, I would have loved the ending, which I soon came to see was a forecast for the next years of my bizarre life. As I told somebody the other day, God is like a radio, and whatever station I listen to is the station where God tries to talk to me about my ignorance and what I might do about it.
Of all the books that were pushed through me, HEAVY WAIT, depsite its bizarre and rigorous twists and turns, is my favorite. It was like a son to me. It came out of my heart, and the way this world and the spirit world treated it broke my heart. But then, I get my heart broken a lot. Maybe it helps my heart get bigger and stronger, like maybe it’s a kind of aerobic exercise. Maybe Birdie not calling me back like he said he would was the final nail in the heavy wait. Maybe it’s time for me to bury that child, too, and move on.
Perhaps in that vein is the last poem in the last chapter. The poem fell out of me about two weeks before Gazzo and I left Key West to link up with Birdie. A few hours before the poem hatched, I was told in my sleep, as I lay on a cardboard box in a doorway next to the bookstore on Fleming Street: “You will fail, but you might enter the kingdom of God.” The poem describes open heart surgery as well as I will ever be able to describe it.
I know what it is to love fully,
have my heart broken by death
and by loved ones’ rejections,
Over and over again,
So I can love even more.
I know what it is to be engulfed in pain,
Awash in evil,
Terrified, engraged, despaired,
Believing God has again forsaken me,
Then be given the truth
that again makes me free.
I know what it is to doubt,
Be lost and wandering
time and time again,
Then be rescued yet again
and my faith grows deeper.
I know what it is to blindly trust,
Then be destroyed by betrayal
time and time again,
Until I trust only God.
I know what it is to have much
and be completely of this world,
Then have it all taken away
and be in the world but not of it.
I know what it is to fail in this world,
And fail and fail and fail:
The world’s greatest failure,
I can serve only God.
I know what it is to give
and give and give and give;
I cannot stop giving
because giving is receiving.
I know what it is to explain God
time after time after time again.
Something demands I keep explaining:
Maybe someone will listen,
After being told I will fail, which I took to mean on this world, after having that poem fall out of me, I expect to fail at everything on this world I am given to do. To expect anything else would be madness. Whether I will enter the kingdom of God, or whether I will fail at that too, is beyond my ken. I pray nearly every day for it to all be over, to be taken from this life. As would you, if you lived in my skin. Please don’t send me any words of advice. You would have to be having my experience to advise me about my life with God.