Book One Chapter One

I am an old man now and as self-divided as ever. And I struggle each day to forget these things that I discuss overmuch with myself. But Bonesy Jones has been dead now for over a dozen years. Perhaps now I can begin to talk about him and what happened in the Chama Canyon. I amuse myself. For so long, I could not think about it. But it was a terrible thing in my mind, like a hornet trapped inside my skull, stinging me constantly. I hoped for nothing more than to forget about it all. I tried to drink it away and lose my mind in drugs and mindlessness. Then like a beaten dog, the thoughts disappeared. At first I was overjoyed. Finally, I was free. Or so I thought. For then it was on those long nights of the soul, I would wonder where those memories had run off to. And it go so that before I set myself down to sleep each night, I would stand on the front porch of memory and watch the road there luminous under that interior pale reflected light. 

Old solitary men cultivate strange rituals over time. There’s a particular way to pour the tequila. The knife has to always be cleaned immediately after use and never left dirty in the sink. Shoes have to sit together, left and right. There’s a curious rhyme that’s said before getting out of the shower. And after you wash your face three times in the morning, you say good morning to your dead mother. So it was that I got in the habit of leaving a shallow bowl full of my blood out on the front porch of my memory. The cutting was surgical and painless after a few weeks. And soon enough I found myself looking forward to the ritual. The pain was reminding me. After a couple of months, i did think much anymore about why I did it. I wasn’t hoping for anything. And like that, it became just another ritual. Three shots of tequila a night, each pored up to porpoises’ tail on the shot glass. Take off my shoes an set them right. I’d wash my face and say goodnight to my dead mother. And I’d remove the bandage and surgical gauze from the old wound on the top of my left forearm, three deep cuts. Like the I-Ching Trigram. Three slashes in my skin. The knife was clean. I’d cut again and bleed into the bowl. And I could hear myself saying his name again, like a summons: Jones. Bonesy Jones. Where are now? Are you swimming? Swimming with angels?

They say the easiest way to start a difficult story when you don’t know exactly where to begin is to start with the saddest thing you know. Sound about right. The saddest thing I know is that I watched the closest thing I ever had to a father or a teacher or a best friend, I sat there in the desert and watched him die. Cause he had asked me to. Then also cause he asked me to, in fact he made me promise that I would, I burned his body on a fire and cut all the flesh away from his bones. 

I’ve never been able to talk about it much before now. It scarred my deep. And I didn’t much care about my life for many years just after. I crawled into that hole and I fought my way all the way down to rock bottom. Then I tried to dig down even deeper. Watching Jones die was hard enough. Cutting the meat from his bones loosened the nuts and screw in my mind. I’ve never been then same since. But, as I said, I’m better now. And before it’s too late, I need to tell this story of the beautiful life and terrible death of Charles Bonesy Jones. 

Of course, he’s gone for good. I know that. I ain’t so stupid to hope like that. But it’s strange. For the last few weeks, whenever I go to pick up that bowl full of my blood on the porch, something or someone has been at it. Cause that bowl is licked clean. At first, I though it might be another sad creature starving in the night. I sat up drinking and watching the blood shimmer black in the bowl. But as long as I watched, nothing ever came sneaking up on the porch. Yet in the morning, the blood was gone and the bowl was clean as a whistle. 

I’m gonna keep opening the wounds up. Keep leaving the bowl out. Cause I can feel his presence again. Sitting there across the table from me. Watching like he did. Telling me to keep the pen to the paper, to tell it how it really happened, to tell it right. Finally.