Death Before Dawn, Part Three
Contributor
Written by
Kevin Camp
March 2015
Contributor
Written by
Kevin Camp
March 2015

What you will read below is a short story in process. Like a film, I've shot all the scenes and written most of the sections deliberately out of sequence. They will be conjoined later, once I have the material I need. Last month I wrote Parts One and Two. To follow is Part Three, but this will probably end up being placed later in the text. Muses aren't always linear.

To remind you, should you wish to read, here is Part Two. New material will follow. If it comes time for publication, I'll likely be asked to remove the song lyrics and other fragments, but for now, I'll keep them as they are.

____________


I return to the current day for a moment, a quarter century after such heady times. Since then, I’ve come to understand that everyone’s early twenties are fanciful and a little grandiose. Jason is long gone. I moved on, but he didn’t. I used to count the years since we talked, but after I counted nine, I never felt much need to continue with the ritual. Like many frustrated rockers, he switched to hip-hop, even establishing his own label. I can’t say I’m much of a fan of the genre, but I appreciate the craft that goes into it.

My memory grows longer as my life goes shorter. A few years ago I came to a particular conclusion. Not to be a Luddite, but I’m not always sure we’re capable of processing the centrality of the internet in our own lives. I currently observe the lives, reflections, successes, failures, and general goings-ons of at least ten former relationship partners, twenty people I slept with at least once, and a variety of other platonic friends who continue to want me to be part of their life. I’m flattered by the attention and appreciate the opportunity for open dialogue, yet it sits a little uneasily with me.

The older I get, the more salt and pepper I appear to others. What began at my temples spread to my beard and then even my chest hair. Even though I don’t feel old, I know that I am no longer young. I’m currently supporting a long-term boyfriend of twenty years who I never plan to marry. You’ll never see pictures of us exchanging joyful kisses outside a courthouse. The joy went away long ago. Like Paul Simon wrote, we’re just a habit, like saccharine.

I’m the worker, the cheerful breadwinner, the happy warrior, known to the local coffee shop workers as the sweet gay man who tips well. They do not know my private torment and I do not share. He is highly agoraphobic and rarely works at the health food store on the granola side of town much anymore, at least not since his mother died. I press him to work more than six hours a week, but I never had much heart to be mean even for worthy purposes. Aggression and confrontation is what it would take, but I’d rather he’d take the initiative himself.

I struggle with my weight these days and never had much willpower with food. I’ve taken to throwing food away into the trash can, then pouring dish washing soap on top of it so I won’t fish anything out late at night and eat it later. Oddly enough, my partner has been extremely helpful in this regard. I lost about fifty pounds some years back, but it has returned. I pretend not to care, but I do.

My daily routine always contains music of some kind. I’m trying to teach myself the piano, but I find the left-hand parts challenging. I always did. Picking out simple melodies with my right hand is something I was able to do even as a boy. Integrating both hands together is a challenge. Mostly I stick to guitar. Obscure songs get stuck in my head and I work them out at night after a hard day’s work.

The end has come
The sky has lost its sun
The harm is done
He was the only one

There goes my babe
There goes what might have been
There goes my babe
In the cool morning rain

And now my heart
Lies empty and still again

If he were here
I'd long to hold him near
But now it's clear
The price of love is dear

There goes my babe
There goes what might have been
There goes my babe
In the cool morning rain

And now my heart
Lies empty and still again

I have no one else to impress, no particular cause to advance. My life is not over, but I wonder sometimes if it ever really began. I have never dared to be more than a worker bee with a partner who is emotionally demanding and perpetually sixteen-years-old. I could have done better, and many have told me as such. Some grab hold of life and some let the rope go slack in their hands. I had many opportunities, but I am too timid for my own good.

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