It is a sad fact of life that Florida has disqualified itself as a movie set for a vast number of films that will now go before the camera on the streets of some Canadian city.
No one is making films about drug runners coming ashore in teal and pink with a soundtrack by Jan Hammer, since the illicit drug of the moment is likely to be filming in the streets of Chinatown, and the Port of Los Angeles and a Wellcraft Scarab is no match for an 11,000 TEU container ship.
And for horror and noir films the simple fact is that even in the dead of winter, the palms will never look all that foreboding, and fake snow melts all too quickly, but we can hope that Beach Party movies will make a grand return, until then we just keep get along here in the heart of Margaritaville.
What I want, no, need actually, is to remember the smells of youth. The images I can recall, but they are aged pictures, run repeatedly through the Photoshop of memory, and cannot be trusted only desired.
The old, half ready to fall oak, in the Salt Lake City park had a faint pungency that lingered even as I departed my body as the acid kicked in, and drew me back from the abyss hours later,
and my then wife, cradling our first born in the hospital bed, the scent of innocence and sterility that neither of us dared recognize as a foretelling of our denouement.
Those moments are lost in the sea of time, washed away from memory’s shore, but the smell of a summer oak still promises a gentle return to self.
They have a youth that you think should make you envious, poured into clothing that would be a second skin, if skin were silk and polyester, patterned tights hair ironed straight, colored highlights and you still recall when this what a fascinated you, when you would have found it alluring. You probe the corners of your memory knowing the trigger is there, unable to find it in the vague images of velvet, flowing and draping, colors more vibrant in the acid fog, knowing it would all crash down too soon, that the cocktails they hold should be cheap jug wine in plastic cups to prolong the slow descent back into the real world from which the blotter paper and cactus provided a welcomed escape.
And then there is the abyss where it all comes crashing back down on you and there is nothing and no one, and you grasp and find only yourself at the bottom and arise, crawl up and out, and nothing has changed except the face of one who saw you fall. You say words meant to calm either you or the others, but they sound hollow, all words have an emptiness in this moment, and you know it will pass, and you know it will not pass nearly soon enough, and you remember the moments, once, when you would think that the abyss the drug created would last forever and in that moment you began the slow return.
I enter the station house and walk up to the neck high desk. I would like to report a missing person. I have been gone more than twenty-four hours. I can’t give a very good description, my eyes see in the mirror a still young man sitting in a park in Salt Lake City in the drum circle passing the joint and jug of wine, my ears hear a voice deep and rich, reverberating through the microphone preaching subversion to the youth of Rochester, my fingers touch the cheeks of the girl perched next to me on the outcropping overlooking the middle falls down from the inn the sun dancing off her long black hair, my nose smells the sour odor of JP-4 Jet Fuel and the exhaust of the F-102 and the beer soaking the floor of the base NCO Club late in the evening, I can the taste of salt of the sweat in the hollow of her neck as we lay in a moment of reflection as the Greek sun beat down outside the window. Sergeant if you find me please call me immediately for I am terribly concerned at my absence, it is so out of character.
First appeared in modified form in The Worcester Review, Vol. 21, Nos. 1-2 (2000)