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Jett Superior laid this on you on || October 9, 2003 || 11:24 pm

A punk worthy of remembrance.

So I was talking to Sydd, resident girlhero-best friend and partner in many past debaucheries, tonight. She is pregnant again, you know, and very, verrrry surly, but sometimes the surly hormones wear her out and she gets suddenly melancholy. It’s quite unexpected and gets away from her quickly, like kicking over a bucket of mopwater and helplessly watching as it seeps everywhere, defying containment and demanding to be cleaned up all at once. Sydd’s not like this normally (read: when she is not marinating a baby boy in her midregions), so it’s funny for everyone else to watch, which is all the more infuriating to her. She cannot wait to birth this child, whose future name is so objectionable and heinous to me that I cannot even type it here.

This makes me a rather poor Godmother, I know, but I’ve a bit of time yet to gently nudge her around to naming the wee bairn something less, ehm, assholey.

So anyway, Sydd and I were talking and she asked me if I knew that Mark had died.

“Mark? Which?” I asked, thinking she was referring to the choreographer/fashionista that I mentioned here last year.

“Little Mark,” she said to me, “music Mark.”

“Oh, holy shit,” I said, feeling a little breath-sucked. Hell, I still feel that way.

I don’t exactly remember how Sydd and I met Mark, how he started coming around and hanging out at our house. I think it was one of those things where she ’sorta knew him’ from one place and I ’sorta knew him’ from another and we both remarked on what a sweet, funny little guy he was and suddenly he was just there priming up the bong, perusing the underground papers for good shows that we might attend.

Mark had these horrible, horrible seizures that scared most everyone and embarrassed the shit out of him. He would come out of one, saliva and snot trailing down his face, and ask everybody around him, “You okay? You okay?” He never wanted to make anyone else uncomfortable. That was just Mark.

“Maaaan, Mark,” I’d say to him, “For someone with questionable health, you sure do ingest alottttta chemicals.” And he did.

“It’s the only time everything just flows, Beth.

“It’s the only time I feel right.”

I knew exactly what he meant, but from a different perspective. To my way of thinking (both then and now) his reasons for ingesting whatever he could get his hands on were a lot more powerful and valid than mine; Mark wasn’t running from himself or reality, Mark was just trying to be. A little bump made him feel even; hallucinogens made him feel free. And, for the record, I never, ever saw him have one of those bone-rattlers when he was lit. Not once, and I spent a lot of time with him.

His car was old and boxy and Japanese, a late-eighties model Nissan Sentra or something, and was covered in stickers from obscure bands that very few people (most especially the locals) had ever heard of. One especially used to make me laugh: PUNK AS FUCK. Here was this little bitty guy (he looked like a twelve-year-old that had glued a thin little thatch of headhair to his chin in a sorry attempt at a goatee) in a button-down and reeboks, meek and funny, hands in pockets, flashing a PUNK AS FUCK sticker loud and proud on his car. But he was, he really was. Mark was one of the punkest motherfuckers I’ve ever known without ever having to raise his fist or his hair or his voice. Mark didn’t have to screamsing ‘rock n roll nigger‘ above the din, he lived it in his quiet and unassuming way.

The first time we ever took my car somewhere, he near-bout went apopleptic with euphoria over the one sticker at the top of my back window: “HOLY HELL, THAT IS A … 7. YEAR. BITCH. STICKER!” I eyeballed him a little sardonically, smiling and glancing toward Sydd as Mark danced around the back of my car. She just cocked one eyebrow, shrugged and grinned lazily out the side of her mouth.

“Mark gets off, man.” Yeah.

He was forever getting tickets because he wasn’t supposed to be driving; Mark’s condition wasn’t conducive to the DMV wanting him to have a license, so they denied him one over and over. Still, he drove: “I got places to be. What, I’m supposed to sit home or bum rides all the fucking time? Noway, noway.” He worked at his grandparents’ store, he went to school, he led an active life that required him to have wheels since we have no real form of public transportation here on the mountain. Ticket after ticket, fine after fine, court appearance after court appearance and I was always amazed that he never landed in the pokey. Even though he had not an ill bone in his body toward anyone, even though he said “Yes sir” and smiled shyly at the judge and magistrate, he should’ve been sent there over and over.

You couldn’t put Mark in jail. You just couldn’t. Mark was one of the Good Ones, and Good Ones don’t have any business behind bars, confining their goodness. They roam free, sprinkling the Fairydust of Righteous Vibe without abandon and with equal opportunity over every path they cross.

We sat on the porch late into the night once, and it was then that I found out the source of Mark’s seizures. It seems that he was the target of a stepfather’s rages that started when Mark was about eleven, to the best of his recollection. He endured beatings of varying degrees for five years; when Mark was around the age of sixteen, Mister Fucko (as I’ve so honorably dubbed him, hope you don’t mind) started tapping Mark on the head a bit. Toward the middle of Mark’s sixteenth year, Mister Fucko gave him a particularly solid whomp on the head with a blunt object, dropping five-foot-four, one-ten-if-he’s-a-pound Mark like a puppet with its strings suddenly slashed.

Welcome to neurological hiccups.

He held no bitterness, absolutely no ill will for this man. I didn’t understand that, and he didn’t try to make me understand. He was busy living his life, doing his thing and there was no hint of anger or wishing it away anywhere in his bony little body, as so many (not excluding myownself) would practice. So there was this core of protective love in my affections regarding this manboy, who was only three or so years younger than me.

I was some four months pregnant with Mathias when Mark strolled into the music store I managed one afternoon. Low-key and smiling, he asked me for a job. He’d always wanted to work there, but my boss would never hire him. As quick as the bossman promoted away, I hired all sorts of people he had turned away previously, including Mark. They were an exceptional crew, funny-looking by all conventional standards, but they were exuberant and byGod knew their music; knew it inside out and backwards and from the ground up. The girl in penny loafers and tweed skirt? She knew every milestone in the history of rap, could tell you all you wanted to know about reggae and then some. The d00d with the crunchy, overblack hair and razor-sharp fingernails? Yeah, he knew metal in all its incarnations, but nobody I’ve ever known has had as thorough a knowledge about classical (save for my music nazi professor in college, Doctor Betterthanyou) as he did. The slouchy Radiohead fanatic knew blues, blues you’d never even heard of. The Barbie with the overshiny lipstick? Her fortes were country and old, old soul; she’d run off a litany of every song ever recorded by Sam Cooke (sah-WEET!), even though she couldn’t put together two and two to save her fucking life. Nobody matched and everybody knew music and Mark fit right in.

He told me when he asked for the job that he was saving the last bit of money that he needed to go to recording school out in Arizona. I’d not seen him for some months prior to him coming into the store, and I was glad to help. He worked hard and well and before I knew it, it was almost time for him to leave. I was near-bursting one night when we were working catalog side-by-side, two other employees at the front of the store tending customers. Without any warning –save for Mark getting a little bit quiet all of the sudden– he began to walk in circles, stiff-bodied, babbling gutteral-sounding nonsense. He started to convulse, and I was afraid he’d hurt himself on the wire racks or metal bins, so I quickly got behind him. Just as I was reaching for him, he began falling, loose-limbed and jerking, and suddenly he was flopping deadweight in my arms, mashing on my too-full belly. I strained with him, stuck halfway between standing and kneeling, not wanting to drop him and locked into place, unable to go up or down; my pregnant bulk and his lack of control limited my mobility and threatened to topple us both.

I have no idea how I managed to mash the button on my headset to calmly call up front, but I did, and Christie and Heath covered the yards of store between them and us so quickly that I couldn’t fully turn my head to look for them before they were there. Heath lowered Mark gently to the floor, Christie said, “My GOD your face is red; that can’t be good,” while trying to help me unlock my tensed body so that I could come out of the half-crouch and waddle to the racks to lean on them. Breathe, girl.

Some three weeks later Mark collected his final paycheck, headed finally to Arizona, and some two weeks after that Mathias was born, long-limbed and quietly turning his murky eyes to me, all peaceful.

Hope for everybody (funny, I just typed that as ‘everyboy’).

Sydd tells me that Mark came home just a couple months shy of graduating, so sick that he couldn’t finish up out there in Arizona. About a month later he died in his sleep, seizing so hard that vessels were burst. Apparently he never woke up, never knew he was having a seizure, never knew he was dying, according to the cousin who relayed all this information to Sydd when they ran into one another at Wal-Mart.

And so.

Mark was a sweet, beautiful guy, and I’m an awful person for not keeping up with him, even if I did think of him often. He has a great big comfy spot in the beyond, I’m sure, and it’s covered in stickers of obscure bands that never were and are yet to be. He still smiles copiously, humming whatever melody passes his consciousness at any given moment, just like always.

His stepdad? That skinwaste of a fucker has a special place reserved for him in hell, where he’ll be struck about the head and shoulders with some regularity, never allowed to die. When he’s not being beaten, he’ll seize so hard that he heaves over and over, spewing the bile in his soul all down his front as testament to his sins.

7 worked it out »

  1. Sgt. Mac 10.10.2003

    You know, I have a similar story, but I am so awe struck at your words of kindness for such a gentle sole, that nothing I can write would be worth a damn…

    You are awesome in your words…

     
  2. Leslie 10.10.2003

    My hormones must be raging…That made me cry

     
  3. Nina 10.10.2003

    Hormones be damned, I’m crying because that is one of the most touching things I have ever heard.

     
  4. waistdog 10.10.2003

    That red truck that keeps backing up over stepdad’s head…….would be me.

     
  5. Dean 10.10.2003

    Shit

     
  6. Gary 10.10.2003

    God, in His infinite wisdom, often gives special gifts to those from whom much has been demanded. It sounds like Mark was given the gift of unconditional love along with the knowledge that his years on this mortal coil were going to be short. It sounds like he shot off every round in his gun and then some and when he took leave he left those who knew him with beautiful memories and the knowledge they they had met and loved an original. I wish we all could live life that way.

     
  7. batty 10.15.2003

    I’d cry but I’m too busy wondering where that stepfather is and why he’s still walking the planet rather than pushing up the daisies…

     

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