I am inspired this day; encouraged to tell my story and expose my soul as a result of the actions of one of our very own over the weekend. On the verge of despair, she took the less trodden path of embracing her demons and bathing herself in the crimson waters as opposed to giving up. This was an awe-inspiring exhibition of faith and strength of spirit, one which has inspired Keeper to do the same. If one of my own bares their soul then they shall never be alone. Therefore I have decided to do likewise; strip my soul before you fine people and reveal my innermost demons. By doing such, we stand together in the rivers and ask for redemption. Our addressees don’t judge, they understand and I know, appreciate the sentiment. So here goes.
Keeper’s tale is one of darkness from light. I consider myself fortunate to have been surrounded by loving folk throughout a childhood when my own belief was harshly tested. I was the last of four children, three older sisters preceded me and I was my parents’ one chance to gift them a boy to carry forward the family name. They doted on me, love was something there was never any dearth of through my childhood despite unforeseen events robbing me of my faith when I needed it to grow.
I was eight years old when my father began to suffer his cruel twist of fate. He had been a semi-pro soccer player before choosing the British Navy and had always been very active. Such activity rapidly diminished when afflicted with a slow-moving killer which played havoc with his nervous system, a disease which spanned 25 long years before indirectly claiming him and releasing him from his body’s prison.
I was always gifted, but this was tempered by laziness. A blessing and a curse, my endowments became a source of great frustration as I stumbled towards adolescence with no shortage of literary and numerical aptitude, but no desire to do anything with my gifts. I fell in with the wrong crowd, much to my parents’ bemusement and sleepwalked through my teens, never once looking likely of coming good on the potential my loved ones had spotted early on.
I learned how to close up, deal single-handedly with any of life’s many curve balls and shield my emotions from those closest me. I was an accidental arsonist at ten, shoplifter at fourteen and wore clown shoes through the entirety of my teens. I developed a potent case of OCD, which should resonate as I believe us all to be afflicted in one way or another and my compulsion was to create a false-sense of belonging through buying acceptance. My mother undertook the role of full-time carer ans she selflessly devoted herself to being my father’s legs.
As muscles wasted, the darkness began to consume me. After under-performing at school, I made the awkward transition into young adulthood. My true sexual awakening wasn’t until I was nigh-on seventeen and was an awkward affair at best. New social circles opened up new opportunities for me, one of which being a long-standing romantic entanglement with Class A narcotics. LSD blew my mind wide open and was followed shortly by MDMA, washed down with amphetamines.
In my late teens I fell into the underground hardcore rave scene, a natural progression for one fixated with Rap right through the eighties. Those delicious sped-up breakbeats meshed exquisitely with my cerebral tempo and I pulled many shapes before my first and only arrest at the age of nineteen. That shook me into action, I knuckled down and came through my further education with the kind of grades I’d skilfully dodged earlier.
During these years I scribed my manuscript, something I’m fortunate to still possess, but never submitted. It’s a good fucking job, reading it now it is very clear I didn’t possess the correct tool set to take my writing anywhere. I was literate, that was never the issue but, as a scribe, sometimes you need to take a few kidney blows to beat out the inner poet inside, I still uphold that my existence had been too sugar-coated to truly have a soul worth bleeding.
I married for the first time soon after, and it proved over-whelming as I somehow bagged myself the ultimate trophy from school. I was a minnow, too much the clown to ever gain so much as a glance from this prom queen. She was the tenderest cut in the butchers window and there was befuddlement from all the ignorant folk who had had popularity gifted them and squandered it by being unkind to those beneath them on the chain. It was the perfect fuck you, I had somehow stumbled into legendary status, a role which I took to with smugness.
I placed my first real love on a lofty pedestal, ignored early signs that this was to be a fruitless endeavor and splashed away merrily in somewhat shallow waters until she had an unforeseen bowel movement and shat from that pedestal like an overstuffed pigeon. After gratefully receiving her surplus, I did what any man would do in that scenario: a cocktail of alcohol and barbiturates. Not attempting to ‘off myself’ I spread it over the course of a year, fell deep into the always open arms of my obsessive compulsions and ignorance was, for the short-term at least, bliss.
Over the course of the next five years I become somewhat reclusive, barely stepping out my front door unless to get more coffee to blaze up a joint with. You may be starting to identify a certain trend here, when life appears to let me down, I surround myself with all of the people I felt would understand my quandary….none! I built up an emotional fortress whereby the only soul with access was mine and it shared occupancy with no other.
After one more catastrophic foray into trusting another soul I had my heart trounced, in Venice no less, in a cruel twist of irony which sent me reeling back into the doldrums once more. Thankfully my safe haven was on hand to take me in and offer me narcotics to numb the pain I felt. A reefer doesn’t let you down after all. So long as you keep ample papers it’ll lend you it’s attention with great merriment. It is worth noting that I lost my dear father two months before the Venetian debacle, just to broaden the appeal of narcotics even more.
Eventually the cloud above my head began to dissipate when my last spouse skipped into my existence full of energy and positivity. We married, bought a property and in turn popped out a little fella. All appeared to be going tickety boo until the dreaded stress reared its depressive head and I found a new level of bleak to wallow in. Wallow I most certainly did, I cut myself off from all the factors which appeared to have contributed. The breakdown lingered like crabs as I undertook therapy to have a poke around inside my subconscious for clues as to my overwhelming sadness. It didn’t exorcise the demons, instead it stirred them from their slumber and they moped around with me, occasionally informing me that I would never amount to much to keep me in their sights.
As it transpired these critters loved nothing more than to get fucked up with me and I spiraled into full-blown depression. My brain began producing less serotonin which drained me of my already anorexic hunger for life and the skies became overrun with blackness. This was my total eclipse; I began to taste the tang of toxicity around me and, at that point, I picked up the quill.
The darkness lifted instantaneously, I pinned my heart on my sleeve, opened my arteries and bled onto the parchment paper. It turns out my crimson runs freely, I don’t so much as exhale during the process and writer’s block was never an issue. Time constraints, on the other hand, were posing a problem and sleep became the quarry. ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ holds you in good stead here, and the allure of weed became too strong to resist. I started smoking it more, writing these terrific pieces and finally enabling the world to see what really goes on between my ears.
Honesty dragged me from my mire, whilst my nearest and dearest attempted to be supportive, it was only the Grueheads who could lift me from my cavernous mental mire. I knew that like-minded folk would cotton on and, at this juncture, I’d regained any self-belief I had tucked conveniently away for my entire adult life. The drive which had eluded me since my father’s diagnosis began to reconvene and, moreover, I had little indication of where this adept outed was coming from. As soon as the first drop of crimson dripped from the quill I went sub aqua, not returning for oxygen for the hour or two it takes me to scribe 1500 words. I was aware of the benefits of getting hashed with articulating oneself at the expense of any drive and more than a handful of dopamine.
That’s the bitter twist of irony when it comes to skunk, you can play chess like a Russian, so long as somebody’s there to slide your bishop into its space. I’m sure Lennon and troupe couldn’t have penned Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds on their mind-bending acid binge and then swam the River Mersey straight afterwards.
It was recently that I discovered I don’t actually require Lemon Haze to coax my prose from within me. There’s nobody else concocting this shit, these joints are not dipped in chloroform. I’m not bundled into an unmarked van, memory erased and then returned to my spot the precise instant the quill ceases its flow. I write this from my soul, that’s the kicker. When somebody needs my help, I deliver the advice and assistance they ask for.
There are many souls earmarked as Rivers of Grue are beginning to throb with purpose. The feedback I receive is strangely all it requires, I’m disinterested in lengthy résumés, I have an uncanny aptitude for reading souls, hearing cries for help, and for placing faith in good folk. Ultimately, when the Rivers reach high tide I can pledge this: we’ll be the most passionate, we’ll give this our all, we’ll grow this consortium and all under the safety of my crimson wing.
I swore oath that I would lead you through any murky waters and you trusted that, making your way into our inner circle has been elementary. We don’t place obstacles, society already takes care of that. Instead, we share warmth, wade through together and form alliances not constrained by limitation or strangulated by expectation. I raise a goblet of deep crimson to all of you; you have been instrumental in proving how this site can change lives, these ties between all of us are strengthened and sturdy already, we’re growing this shit like weed, harvesting the crop and preparing the banquet for all of you. No place cards, sit where you desire brothers, sisters, friends, loved ones. Crimson is most definitely the color.