Pulse

“I was looking at their ages…[they] might’ve been out for their first night at a gay bar…” someone says on the radio. “Seeing, you know, what I consider to be children have to face this…”

I consider them to be children, yes. Older than the children at Sandy Hook, at Columbine, but still children. I consider myself to be a child at that age. In my early ‘20s. In 2005. In Orlando. In Pulse.

“We went there,” a friend says on the phone, “we went there all the time.”

I remember going there and pacing around the block for an hour before deciding to go in. Or was that another club? That was another club. It could have been any club. It could have been me, it was not me, it is with me, it is over me, a large black umbrella that was handed to me a long time ago and it was not heavy at first but I’ve been holding it so long that my hand is shaking.

“You seem focused,” a roommate says as I unload groceries.

“I lived in Orlando.” I say. “I was at that club every weekend.” The roommate is holding the refrigerator door handle but I don’t realize and reach for it; I accidentally grab his hand, he instinctively pulls away, I open the refrigerator. I place bags of celery and carrots on cold shelves.

I reread the names, the ages. I look at their pictures again. I feel as though I am attending the ceremony of the dead in Sartre’s The Flies, where the departed souls return, enraged. They are rattling me like a chandelier in an earthquake. I want to sit in a gay bar and drink. I want to go to a gay club and dance. I want to have sex with as many men as possible. But I am in recovery. I am celibate. I am not going to do any of these things. So I get a Judy Garland film from the library. I Could Go On Singing.

Judy plays Jenny, a part written for her, a part that is her. Dirk Bogarde plays her ex, David. “I can’t be spread so thin. I’m just one person,” Jenny says to him, slightly drunk but getting sober. “I don’t want to be rolled out like pastry, so everybody get a nice big bite of me. I’m just me. I belong to myself. I can do whatever I damn well please with myself and nobody can ask any questions.”

On the radio they are interviewing someone who is placing white carnations and notes on the car windshields of family and friends of victims as they meet with the FBI. The note says, “You are loved.”

David starts to say he loves her, but Jenny places a finger on his lips. “Don’t – don’t say it. Because if you said it now, and if you didn’t mean it – I think I’d die – I think I’d die.”

3 thoughts on “Pulse

  1. 😖 — I cannot put words down.

    On Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 11:23 PM, Ben Daniel Parman wrote:

    > parmanifesto posted: ““I was looking at their ages…[they] might’ve been > out for their first night at a gay bar…” someone says on the radio. > “Seeing, you know, what I consider to be children have to face this…” I > consider them to be children, yes. Older than the children at Sa” >

  2. Some events are so tragic that it is hard to offer any meaningful words about them. The Orlando rampage is one of those events. Thank you for trying, Ben. Your take is a compelling, heartbreaking one.

    Regardless of how things may seem sometimes, everyone matters and is worthy of dignity and affection. Perhaps our world will get better at recognizing that someday.

  3. I think, at least I’m pretty sure I think, the association of past experience and knowledge of place have instilled in you a perspective unique, for you have a faith, already fragile, mending on the wing, and this…no. I cannot see as you see. Feel the air of the smoldering fires and pain as you do. But that is why I know you, and have your words: by your words, I can start, at least, to know.

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