His long slender fingers rake through his dirty blonde locks, and Randy wonders briefly why his hair always has that slightly greasy look about it, even when freshly washed. The first glimmers of daylight peek tentatively over the horizon. Clipped moments strobe in his mind, snippets of events. Bodies shimmering with a patina of glitter, breasts and buttocks, full, and on display. A woman, sporting a costume of blue and yellow feathers, with a large macaw perched on her shoulder, blending imperceptibly with her. It’s hard to know where the bird leaves off and the woman begins. A man in a top hat and pants, shirtless, but draped with a boa. Not the feathered variety. Randy’s head spins with carnival anarchy as scenes swim in and out of focus.
He smooths his hands over his face, hoping that will bring him into the present. He feels growing objections from his gut and wonders passingly what ulcers feel like. The picture-perfect cliché of his early years, a thin veneer of respectability over a seething mass of lies, hangs somewhere in a back vault of his mind. Mirages of his parents’ carefully constructed artifice of the perfect couple, the couple everyone wanted to be, his mother’s obliging provision of two blonde-haired, blue-eyed sons to the marriage, her slow, whimpering soul-death as a stay-at-home mother, his father’s daily trudge to an unsatisfying, mind-numbing job, now float into his vision. Memories of his childhood are glimmer-edged, filled with light and comfort. The darkness doesn’t snake its creeping fingers into their lives until his teens.
He hears the tinkling of his splintered memories of childhood, and sees the darkness billow across his teenagehood. The steady descent into daytime self-medication with a cocktail of Gin and Tonic, and Valium for his mother, segueing into evenings of incessant Scotch and Soda with a side of gut churning peptic ulcers and domestic violence for his father, now clouds his shimmering memories.
The bitterness of those years swirls in his mouth, coating his tongue and puckering his lips. He remembers the fragile glass plate memories of his childhood, all sunshine and pop music, shattering with the rammed barbs of teenage bullies, their jagged laughter punctuating the taunts.
“Randy’s got two garden tools at home! His Mum and Dad… a hoe and a rake!”
The years of determinedly eschewing everything his parents were, stretch elastically behind him. No harpy wife and whining kids for him! His carefully constructed life has squeezed out any possibility of repeating the same endless loop that claimed the essence of his parents, leaving them hollowed shells. Instead. Instead, his life’s beaded with successes, a different perfectly put-together disposable companion at his side each time. He allows no slender opening for the suburban banalities of his parents’ lives to wriggle in, choosing the tempest speed of a corporate office and an urban existence as replacement. He pedals through events, openings, cocktails, fundraisers, any excess that distances him from repeating that pattern.
Though. Though quietly, he wonders whether it’s mere coincidence that he prefers Scotch and Soda now. He pokes at the edges of the emptiness in the pit of his soul, wonders at its endless capacity to consume new experiences and never be filled. He feels the faint glimmer of boredom with office politics, concern over pay rates, a sure sign of dissatisfaction. Randy traces his finger over the outline of discontent, as he hears his mother’s words.
“Break the cycle. Don’t rake through your past, Randy. Make a clear path into your own future.”